Will The Virus Ruin Walt Disney World’s 50th Birthday Party?

The family entertainment center of the world is completely closed down.  International Drive is more deserted than on the last hurricane attack.  Since 9.8% of Florida workers are in the travel and vacation industry, the economy, particularly in Central Florida, is in bad shape.

No one is certain how long and how hard the virus will be in Florida, since only Southeast Florida (Miami/Fort Lauderdale) is now in a hot spot category  I live in Tampa and there is a huge mansion going up in the lot next to my house.  Construction is not part of the Florida lockdown, but it seems workers are intentionally moving slowly as if this may be their last contract for many weeks and Disney construction is nil due to the volume of workers.

This brings up the main point of this article.  How will the virus shape all the plans for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary in 2021? 

A month ago my Disney contacts told me that it “would depend upon how fast the virus declines to bring back the tourists and the revenue.”      The present statements indicate that Disney’s priorities will be based upon how far along each project is.  With the rainy season about to arrive in a few weeks, enclosed projects will not miss work time due to weather.

HERE IS DISNEY’S GOOD LUCK CHARM:  WDW actually opened on October 1, 1971, so Disney can use the one-by-one opening of new rides and attractions during 2021 as build-up.to the magic official day.  Disney World hits 50 on October 1, 2021.

Here is the probable situation of what will be ready and what may not.

TRON LIGHTCYCLE RUN at Magic Kingdom next to Space Mountain is a towering skeleton and if the ride resembles the Asian ride (here is a Attractions 360 You Tube link) there is a lot of outside exposure to the ride.  The good news, however, is that the ride duplicates the popular rides in China and Japan and one assumes that will speed up interior work.  Expected Opening: Late Fall 2020.


Just a side note: when Tron is about to open the Disney Railroad Train will again be able to circle the Magic Kingdom.  The GRAND FLORIDIAN WALKWAY to Magic Kingdom seemed just a few weeks away when the park closed.  The pedestrian bridge is complete and the sidewalk is ready for concrete.

There is huge construction projects at Epcot.  The EPCOT ENTRANCE is now filled with the green of garden and sadly my family’s Leave A Legacy monument has been removed.  For people wondering if there will be any lawsuits, I can tell you that the Disney guarantee was the Legacy would last at least 10 years (sic). Since the last monument sales were in 2007, the contract is up.

The biggest ride building is GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY– Cosmic Rewind Roller Coaster. It has nothing to do with the ride in California and is incredibly high tech with the cars interaction with the ride.  The exterior of the building is almost complete so the high priority interior work will be a first agenda item.

FLORIDATRAVELER Guardians of the Galaxy

The ride will change traffic patterns at Epcot when it opens.   Even still, EXPECTED OPENING: Summer 2021.

Not very promising is the remake of FUTURE WORLD.  Innoventions West is gone and the Easy side is vacant.  The maze of construction walls will remain up for a long time and the Festival Center and Moana attraction is something to consider in 2022.

The unique SPACE 220 RESTAURANT next to Test Track was delayed twice and was planned for late February 2020.  The Patina Restaurant people who run the Italian restaurants at Epcot were still hiring people when the park was closed.   EXPECTED OPENING: Early Fall 2020

FLORIDAYTRAVELER Space 220 restaurant

The new Epcot nighttime show of DISNEY HARMONIOUS was also on the verge of replacing the popular fill-in show of EPCOT FOREVER. Since no new buildings are part of the show, it is a matter of completing electrical sites and more.   EXPECTED OPENING: Early Fall 2020.

REMY’S RATATOUILLE ADVENTURE in the France Pavilion is an enclosed building and I am told it is very similar to the fun ride at Disney Europe (see Attrations 360 YOU TUDE video).  With the delightful Beauty and the Beast movie already open, the French will be the big competitor for the Norway Pavilion with the Frozen ride.

FLORIDA TRAVELER ratouille ride paris

This is a priority attraction ride near the completed Epcot gondola station.  Prepare to shrink yourself into a mouse with an EXPECTED OPENING:  Fall 2020.

Disney’s Hollywood Studio has had a huge last two years with the completion of Toy Story and Star Wars, and finally just a few weeks before the virus closing, MICKEY & MINNIE’S RUNAWAY RAILWAY, an important family attraction.

Some other construction plans at Hollywood Studios will not be so fortunate.  The Old Hollywood Studio entrance was being redesigned and the must-do new entrance will be completed as the parks reopen.

As much as Disney hopes to have the STAR WARS GALACTIC STARCRUISER hotel ready for opening day in October of 2021, it will be a close call.  I am told Disney does not want to open the high priced hotel without all its features.   SEE OCTOBER 1, 2021.

#wdw  #virus   #orlando


About floridatraveler

Historian and travel writer M. C. Bob Leonard makes the Sunshine State his home base. Besides serving as content editor for several textbook publishers and as an Emeritus college professor, he moderates the FHIC at www.floridahistory.org
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