Though the majority of theme parks around the world have been able to reopen (with appropriate safety modifications), with travel and tourism spending down across the board, many in-development projects have been modified to reflect the reality of a currently sluggish travel industry with minimal revenue coming in. Though many are expecting a rebound in the years to come for this industry, right now here are the changes coming to some of the most high profile attractions at theme parks around the world:
1. Cirque du Soleil: Drawn to Life
Park: Disney Springs
Original Opening Date: March 20, 2020
Status: Delayed until February 10, 2021
Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba at Disney Springs closed forever at the end of 2017, but just before it did, Disney confirmed that a new Cirque du Soleil production was being developed for this theater. But this time, this all-new show will have a uniquely Disney flair, and be unlike anything else either Disney or Cirque du Soleil have produced in the past. Based around some of Disney's most iconic films, this new show will “draw its inspiration from Disney's heritage of animation,” and will “celebrate Disney’s legacy of storytelling in Cirque du Soleil’s signature way, with a tribute to the one-of a kind craftsmanship that makes Disney so extraordinary.”
This new show was supposed to begin preview performances on March 20th, but the show was suspended and postponed indefinitely. Cirque du Soleil said earlier this year that it expects to resume its resident shows in Orlando as soon as possible, and Cirque du Soleil: Drawn to Life could premiere at Disney Springs as soon as this fall.
However, according to Cirque du Soleil’s website, the Cirque du Soleil: Drawn to Life will not open at all in 2020, and is now scheduled to begin performances at Disney Springs on February 10, 2021. Shows are currently scheduled from that day through March 31, 2021.
2. The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash!
Park: Universal Studios Hollywood
Original Opening Date: March 27, 2020
Status: Delayed until reopening
One of the first casualties of the theme park closures due to COVID-19 was The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash! at Universal Studios Hollywood, which is a dark ride that takes riders on a journey through New York City to reach a pet adoption event and, using facial recognition technology, actually transforms guests into stray puppies in search of their forever homes. This new attraction will blend live, dimensional and animated characters with hyper-realistic media and projection mapping to achieve this effect, all while guests are seated within ride vehicles that resemble cardboard boxes.
This exciting new ride was scheduled to soft open to annual passholders on March 13 (the day Universal Studios Hollywood closed!), and then was to officially open on March 27, 2020. However, the good news is that this attraction is completely finished, and though it may require some testing when Universal Studios Hollywood reopens, we'd imagine it will be able to welcome its first guests within the first week of this park's return to operation, which is now in flux as theme parks in California have had to put their reopenings on hold due to rising COVID-19 cases in the state. However, there is hope that a compromise may be found soon that will enable Universal Studios Hollywood to reopen in some capacity before the end of the year.
3. Fantasyland Expansion
Park: Tokyo Disneyland
Original Opening Date: April 15, 2020
Status: Delayed until fall 2020
Earlier this year the Oriental Land Company revealed that the Fantasyland expansion at Tokyo Disneyland expansion which will include new rides like The Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast and The Happy Ride with Baymax as well as the Minnie’s Style Studio meet-and-greet would open on April 15th, 2020. Though the Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea theme parks reopened on July 1, but no grand opening for this new area has been announced yet.
However, rumors indicate that The Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast trackless dark ride is expected to begin cast member previews on sometime this month in preparation for an October opening. Nothing has been confirmed yet but if true this could be the first major opening for a Disney park since the shutdown last spring, and may provide a template for other Disney park openings that are about ready to go at other Disney theme parks around the world, including the Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure and Remy's Ratatouille Adventure at EPCOT.
4. Super Nintendo World
Park: Universal Studios Japan
Original Opening Date: Summer 2020
Status: Delayed until further notice
One of the most anticipated new lands to be built anywhere is Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan, which features a new "realistic" Mario Kart ride, a Yoshi omnimover dark ride attraction that will be a hybrid indoor/outdoor attraction, and plenty of interactive experiences that make guests feel like they are inside their favorite Nintendo games.
And though this land was originally supposed to debut this summer to coincide with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Universal Studios Japan has decided to postpone the opening indefinitely over concerns that its popularity could cause a spike in COVID-19 cases in the area. So even though this land is basically done and the theme park is welcoming guests once again, it looks like we're going to need to keep waiting for this new land just a little longer.
5. Avengers Campus
Park: Disney California Adventure
Original Opening Date: July 18, 2020
Status: Delayed until after reopening
Though the Marvel-themed Avengers Campus was supposed to open this summer along with the new WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure ride, with work completely halted three months before its grand opening, we'll likely have to wait much longer before experiencing this new area at Disney California Adventure as
Though the theme parks remain closed, work continues behind the scenes in this new area, and recent photos shared from inside the area show the iconic Avengers Quinjet has landed, as you can see below!
Disney has confirmed that work on this project is nearly complete and they will be opening it as soon as possible once the Disneyland Resort gets the go-ahead to reopen its theme parks.
6. Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser
Park: Disney's Hollywood Studios
Original Opening Date: TBA 2021
We recently got an update on the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, which is the new specialty hotel will allow fans to experience the Star Wars universe with an immersive experience designed from the ground up to be a living adventure that gives guests the chance to become the star of their own Star Wars Story.
Originally, reservations for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser were set to open later this year in anticipation of a 2021 opening. However, with current health and safety regulations, its unknown if that is still moving forward, as the interactive nature of this experience will necessitate close contact with Cast Members and other guests, which would violate current health and safety guidelines. However, Christine McCarthy, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of The Walt Disney Company recently confirmed that opening this hotel is a "priority" for the company, so as soon as it is feasible to do so, we will likely see an opening announced for this new hotel experience.
7. Spaceship Earth reimagining
Original Refurbishment Start Date: May 26, 2020
Disney announced earlier this year that Spaceship Earth would close for refurbishment on May 26 2020 to begin its transformation into Spaceship Earth: Our Shared Story. And though this ambitious project was set to close this attraction for 18-24 months, insiders have said that this was one of the projects that Disney has cut early on, which means that it looks like Spaceship Earth will stay in its current form indefinitely following the park's reopening.
Though this cancellation has not officially been confirmed, Disney has updated the Spaceship Earth website to indicate that the ride will be reopening with Epcot in July, even though it was supposed to close for refurbishment last month. In addition, when The Epcot Experience reopened earlier this week, the part of the presentation that included the Spaceship Earth refurbishment has been removed, seemingly confirming that this project has been shelved.