Though holiday celebrations at Central Florida theme parks like Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando, and Walt Disney World are in full swing, some theme parks have had to get creative with how they celebrate the season, like Six Flags Magic Mountain, which is hosting a drive-thru holiday experience!
And though the holidays may look a little different in 2020, theme parks across the country are making plans for 2021 and beyond as the industry continues to grapple with the fallout of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
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.”
As long as there are no snags between now and early next year, this will be one of the first new attractions to open worldwide, as Cirque du Soleil is 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 will likely happen sometime in 2021.
3. Super Nintendo World
Park: Universal Studios Japan
Original Opening Date: Summer 2020
Status: Delayed until 2021
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 open in July 2020, Universal Studios Japan has confirmed that this new land will welcome its first guests next spring.
4. 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 last 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 Disneyland Resort will not reopen until 2021.
Though the theme parks remain closed, work continues behind the scenes in this new area, and Disney has released a quick video of this exciting new attraction, which you can check out here.
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, sometime in 2021
5. Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser
Park: Disney's Hollywood Studios
Original Opening Date: TBA 2021
Back when the COVID-19 Pandemic first hit, one of the projects that was quickly moved to the top of Disney's to-do list was the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser hotel. 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.
In the meantime though, Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro shared a first look inside a fully furnished room for the upcoming Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel at the IAAPA virtual event, which you can check out below:
As you can see, the entire room is in-theme, immersing guests in the Star Wars Universe, with virtual "windows" providing a look out in to space as guests live their own Star Wars adventure. Although this room looks a little cozy for a family of four, reports indicate there will be a variety of different styles and sizes of "stateroom"-style rooms, similar to what you would find on a cruise ship.
No opening date has been officially announced, but as soon as it is feasible to do so, we'd guess Disney will be opening this new hotel.
6. 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, this attraction never closed for refurbishment, and when The Epcot Experience reopened, the part of the presentation that included the Spaceship Earth refurbishment was removed, seemingly confirming that this project has been shelved.