When will Walt Disney World’s new roller coasters open? And what’s the deal with the Polynesian?
So, are any new attraction announcements ever gonna go? We’ll discuss all of it in this month’s Disney Rumors.
I often think back to 2019 and feel bemused by how much Disney theme parks have changed since then.
No, I’m not talking about significant park changes, although we’ve definitely witnessed several of them.
Instead, I’m referencing how Disney used to declare a date and stick to it. Nowadays, we feel lucky to know a target quarter for something’s launch.
Secrecy drives the show behind the scenes at the parks right now. Hopefully, somebody somewhere will remember the value of transparency one day soon.
Until then, we’re often left guessing about opening dates. That’s why a couple of recent social media posts snagged so much attention.
One from a Disney executive unintentionally revealed the target opening date for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
Presuming that this individual is in the loop, which isn’t a sure thing, the new Guardians roller coaster will debut at EPCOT during Memorial Day weekend.
I’m inclined to believe this date, as it tracks with pre-pandemic behavior.
Management loves to test rides in mid-May before the summer crowd arrives.
Disney’s pattern involves unannounced test rides followed by media, cast members and sometimes annual passholder previews.
Afterward, Disney throws a party and opens the new E-ticket attraction. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure could have followed this blueprint last year.
However, executives wanted to tie the ride’s grand opening to Walt Disney World’s 50th-anniversary celebration. So, they delayed the debut.
There’s zero reason to do that this year. In fact, Disney wants the opposite. Park officials want to send the message that the pandemic has ended.
Walt Disney World is waiting for your return, and it’s got new rides…like the world’s first storytelling roller coaster!
But What about Tron?
The construction of Tron Lightcycle Power Run has worked much differently than the Guardians coaster.
Four years ago, guests could watch the construction of the massive building that will host Cosmic Rewind. We couldn’t see inside, though.
By nature, Tron Lightcycle Power Run has required a more public display since it’s the new anchor attraction at Tomorrowland.
The landscape will match the visual cues in Tron’s exterior section. So, we’ve tracked every modest change and know when the ride is testing.
You may recall that Disney had to post a YouTube video for people to know the same about Cosmic Rewind.
Still, we already know something about the debut, presuming Disney is as good as its word here.
Tron should open before the end of Walt Disney World’s 50th birthday party
That date arrives in March of 2023, meaning we should get the new roller coaster within the next 12 months.
Recent advances in the construction process suggest that Disney COULD make a 2022 release date.
Seriously, if you compare photos or videos from two months ago to now, you won’t believe how much Imagineers have accomplished.
The prevailing question is whether Disney wants to open two roller coasters within eight months. And that’s fair to wonder.
Still, I believe that the company wants wins right now. You know what would sound good?
If Tron Lightcycle Power Run debuted on Walt Disney World’s 51St birthday, fans would lose their minds. As of right now, that’s what I’m expecting.
Still, any setback during the testing phase would render that date impossible. Ergo, I see nothing as settled yet.
Rumors persist that the project remains behind schedule, but that’s not something I’ve confirmed. In fact, some scoff at the notion.
Only Disney knows the truth here. Speaking of which…
The Next Big Chance?!
Sometimes, I feel like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football when discussing Disney plans.
The company announces several public discussions whereby it could/should reveal upcoming park projects.
Then, each date comes and goes, but nothing has been announced. For this reason, I’m nervous to say that news could be in the offing.
On March 28thDisney hosted the Parks Investor Experience, which is like the recent Investor Day, only specifically for the Parks division.
One would think that if Disney was going to reveal something, this date would have be the perfect opportunity.
Did I expect that to happen? I actually did. However, I’m also an eternal optimist.
Realistically, Disney could wait until six months from now when the D23 Expo arrives. But, in truth, that’s what a more reasonable person would expect.
Still, I’m mentioning this event because it was the PERFECT opportunity to announce an opening date for both roller coasters.
Disney needs to rack up some wins at the moment, and that’s two easy ones.
We should know something soon. I’ll add that stock analysts have referred to Disney’s recent park success as a “rapid recovery.”
If true, the company should have enough capital to start some park projects. Finally!
What’s the deal with the Polynesian?
Last week, Disney announced a new expansion coming to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
You probably wondered why. After all, Disney had left the Polynesian alone since its opening in 1971.
Then, Imagineers suddenly upgraded the place in 2014. The area involved a maze of construction walls for about 18 months.
So, that was the only renovation for a while, right? Nope! In 2021, Disney redid the Great Ceremonial House and gate down the old monorail station entirely.
Also, the hotel rooms received new theming that tied them to Moana. That’s two massive updates in seven years after zero for 43 years.
Surely, Disney is stopping there, right? Unfortunately, you already know that the answer is no.
Sadly, Disney tabled a previously announced hotel, Reflections — A Disney Lakeside Lodge.
That’s one of the capital expenditures projects that fell by the wayside during the pandemic.
The problem is that Disney needs new hotel inventory to account for the surging tourism numbers.
People were locked up for the body of two years, and now they want to go on vacation, preferably at Walt Disney World.
Disney needs more rooms to keep up with the space. However, it cannot afford to build an entirely new hotel.
Plan B at the Poly
Instead, the Polynesian will gain its first-ever hotel expansion, although at the cost of Luau Cove.
This one hurts me as a Disney historian and a Polynesian fan.
As a historian, I know that Disney took celebrities and media representatives to Luau Cove in the days leading up to Walt Disney World’s grand opening.
As a fan of the Polynesian, I warmly remember Luau Cove as the place where I took the worst picture of my life – no joke – on one of the best nights of my life.
My extended family attended Spirit of Aloha a LOT. We’re really going to miss it.
From Disney’s perspective, it can build a tower at the Polynesian for less money. Also, people will want to stay there because it’s the Polynesian.
I discussed this possibility in a previous Disney Rumors article, and it’s the angriest I’ve ever been in my life to be right about something.
This hotel will gain an expansion tower by the end of 2024. While I’m sure it’ll be great, the opportunity cost is the end of Spirit of Aloha. And that sucks.