Tom’s Top 7 Disney World Rumors
It’s been a big year for Walt Disney World rumors, with major new attractions or lands for Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom. There also have rumblings of new hotels, restaurants, and retail being added to the parks.
Many of the year’s most popular rumors have already been confirmed as true via official announcements by Walt Disney World. Things like the IllumiNations replacement, new restaurant in Japan, cancellation of Town Square theater, and several other official projects (or lack thereof) all started as rumor. Of course, not every rumor ends up materializing.
When it comes to Disney, even the best sources have batting averages below .500 due to how many blue sky concepts get pitched, and number of projects considered before something gets the green light. It’s probably best to view these in baseball terms, as a rumor accuracy average of over .300 should be viewed as all-star. (If we wanted to take this analogy further, we could look at slugging or OPS for ‘heavy hitting’ sources that tackle big rumors.)
In this post, we’ll take a look at this year’s rumors that were not officially confirmed (at least not yet) and discuss their likelihood of actualization, starting with the highly unlikely and progressing to the highly likely. Click on each headline to read the substantive details and our commentary on each rumor (links open in new tabs)…
7. India & Jungle Book Ride in Epcot – We’ve repeatedly stated that we believe two new World Showcase pavilions are in the medium term for Epcot. If you asked last summer, our prediction would’ve been that an announcement of Brazil was a sure thing, and Spain pretty likely–both being ready to go by Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary in 2021.
I’ll go on record once again claiming that I still expect two pavilions to begin construction within the next 5 years. I no longer think either will open by 2021, and the choice for the second pavilion seems less clear. India could be a dark horse candidate, but not one I’d bet on. With that said, I don’t think this Jungle Book ride rumor has any veracity. It’s too grandiose, and there simply is too much that needs to happen at Epcot for such an attraction to be in the budget.
6. Indiana Jones Adventure and Dinoland Changes – Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama being replaced by something that is not an abomination is my ultimate dream. However, I won’t let wishful thinking get in the way here; the specifics of this rumor are unlikely, even if Dino-Rama does appear to be a logical choice for an overhaul.
At this point, pretty much any rumors for major expansion at Animal Kingdom are weak. It’s the park least in need of serious help, and with Pandora still providing solid drawing power, more modest additions and refreshes to help soak up crowds and keep things fresh is the most likely scenario.
5. New Hotels for Walt Disney World – One of these was subsequently announced (Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Resort, for the area between Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge), so our track record on this rumor is already pretty good.
However, we suspect the likelihood of other resorts being announced or even quietly beginning construction in 2019 is low. Not only are construction costs rising and the economy becoming unpredictable, but Walt Disney World is in the process of adding a ton of room inventory, and the drawing power of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (among other upcoming additions) is unproven.
While we think Star Wars land is going to be a blockbuster addition, there is far less certainty about what it’ll do for on-site room occupancy rates, especially at the higher price points Disney would like to hit. There’s little doubt that Disney has the desire to build more hotels, but a wait-and-see approach through at least 2020 is probably the most likely course of action for the other rumored resorts.
4. Wonders of Life Replacement – With so much uncertainty about its future, this entire list could be populated with Epcot rumors. There’s the Central Spine Redesign, Coco in the Mexico Pavilion, Mary Poppins Spinner in the United Kingdom, Imagination Overhaul, and other things I’m probably forgetting that made the rounds this year.
Any of the above-mentioned rumors has at least a moderate chance of coming to fruition. A couple almost definitely will, albeit in not-yet-clear form. The Wonders of Life replacement makes this list not because there’s more specificity to the rumor–to the contrary, there’s less–but because exterior work has already taken place to ensure the pavilion’s longevity. Moreover, with Guardians of the Galaxy next door, it only makes sense to revive Wonders of Life. Whether that means refreshing Cranium Command (sans the recently “stolen” Buzzy?), adding Inside Out, or using a WDW-viable Marvel property and turning this area into ‘Super Hero Florida Campus’ remains to be seen.
3. Wreck-It Ralph Ride and/or Tomorrowland Overhaul – Wreck-It Ralph has been rumored to be replacing Stitch’s Great Escape for the last couple of years. The problem is that the space is small, so either VR (which Bob Iger has stated Disney does not intend upon using in the parks) or a film-based attraction is necessary.
This ranks highly not for the specifics of a Wreck-It Ralph ride, but for the general rumor/expectation that Tomorrowland will be overhauled (which we’ve discussed in numerous posts throughout the year). This is already starting to happen, so it’s less of a rumor and more a work in progress. As for the Stitch’s Great Escape space, that’s prime real estate and it’s difficult to imagine it being empty when the TRON coaster opens and Tomorrowland needs something to help absorb crowds. Whether it becomes a Wreck-It Ralph attraction or something else remains an open question.
2. Brazil Pavilion in Epcot – The only thing that’s certain about Epcot rumors is that nothing is certain. Anything that has yet to be officially announced is up in the air. If you look at our Epcot Re-Imagining Rumors post from before the D23 Expo, you’ll see Brazil was the most likely thing that has yet to be announced.
We think that’s still the case. Part of this is because World Showcase is due for expansion, and Brazil is such a logical and lucrative fit. Leaked concept art has been floating around of Brazil for a couple of years, and while it’s not clear that everything in those proposals will come to fruition, the rumored $450 million budget for the pavilion is healthy enough for a boat ride, plus multiple dining and shopping options. We’ll see if that number ends up getting slashed, and the pavilion is built as rumored.
1. New Monorails – The amusing thing here is that the latest incarnation of this rumor is that there are not new monorails coming to Walt Disney World. Or, at least, no order is officially on the books with Bombardier, the most likely third party vendor.
Nevertheless, I think this is the concrete rumor that is most likely to be confirmed as true in 2019 (if not officially announced). New monorails are a matter of overdue necessity, and it seems like there’s a negative mainstream news story about incidents about once a month. Why risk more negative PR?
Overall, despite a surplus of announcements for Walt Disney World last summer at the D23 Expo, there was still a lot of juicy–and credible–gossip this year. If I had to make a prediction for 2019, I’d bet that 2-3 of these rumors will become official in the coming year, with about a dozen credible new rumors popping up, and another 2-3 of those becoming official. The 2019 D23 Expo is the likely venue for many of these confirmations, and it should also include several smaller announcements and details about Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary.
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Do you have any ‘favorite’ Walt Disney World rumors of 2018? Which ones do you think are most or least likely to come to fruition? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
Top 2 things on my wish list for EPCOT are, a huge roller coaster ride behind the Japan pavilion ( maybe Mt. Fuji), and a huge inside and outside Jungle Book boat ride. And as always, I’m wait on popcorn prices to come down. Outrageous prices !!!
I wish they would expand “Africa” in Epcot. It isn’t a country but I think its about time that Lion King was represented in the parks. They could also incorporate Wakanda if they’d like.
Africa area and The Festival of the Lion King in Animal Kingdom don’t do it for you?
Brazil was one of the temporary countries added during the Millennium Celebration along with Israel & whatever the 3rd one was (can’t ever remember). They had a soccer video game for it & Isreal had a 3D video motion ride (milder than Star Tours with a row of stationary seats for the weak of stomach). There was also a counter service restaurant featuring food from all 3 countries.
Good memory! Millennium Village also had a few more countries (Chile and Saudi Arabia come to mind), and a couple more had VR exhibits.
With that said, I don’t think those displays are necessarily indicative of what might be on the way for World Showcase in the future. A lot of those exhibits were simply brought in from the 1998 or 2000 World’s Fairs.
I know you love the Country Bears and didn’t know if you had seen this. It’s the original Bios for all the bears.
Forgot the website.
Have to agree about the monorails deter iorating availability. As an annual pass holder i have to skip them many times due to maintenance downtime. My fear is if they pull off the gondolas w/o a/c the monorails will be next like they are in Disneyland. I doubt they would eliminate them as they are an icon of Disney. It gives me great thrill to see them operating when i drive thru wdw on world drive. Its like a Fahrenhiet 451 movie.
We just returned from our semi- annual trip as a extended family of 20. The transportation issue is becoming an even bigger problem than in our past holiday trips. Busses can be so over crowed you can’t move especially when you have a number of wheelchairs and folks holding folded strollers. A new monorail expansion would be welcomed.
I FINALLY got to see Avatar Land in person. If I may make a wild prediction for 2027: Disney will have to buy the rights in order for sequels to be made.
Maybe that’s what Cameron had in mind the whole time???
Seriously, what a beautiful piece of art based on a already forgotten property.
Well technically that is happening right now. Avatar and it’s sequels (that are currently in production – Current release date for Avatar 2 is December 18, 2020) are owned by Fox, which Disney is in the process of buying, and the deal should be all closed at the end of January!
Monorails are not safe. Pieces have flown over nearly hitting people below. Doors not closing for th entire ride from Epcot to ticket and transportation center and just recently yellow monorail’s doors on one car would not open. People in that car were stuck through three stops dispite yelling and pounding on windows. Additionally, the emergency phone in the car did not work.
All logical observations. I’d guess Bombardier will not be the manufacturer of the new monorail fleet. Disney seems to prefer the vehicles being used in the Asia parks.
we will see … not a fan of wreck it ralph in tomorrow land so hope that’s a no…meet the robinsons or treasure planet would be more fun i think … and mary poppins merry go round would be nice but a london eye would make more sense ! lol and they need more help in future world happy holiday!
Thanks for the summary. It will be interesting to see if any of these happen. I
Merry Christmas to you and yours!
This article had was filled with a lot of words, but really no substance. I just spent 4 minutes reading this and then realized I learned absolutely nothing about the future of the WDW Resort. Ugh!
Judging from your comment, I seriously doubt you could have spent that 4 minutes doing anything else more productive.
Just a touch off topic here, but that monorail photo is stunning, Tom. Even by your extremely lofty standards.
One thing that’s way overdue is for people to stop bitching about the monorails. They are still reliable and safe. So what if they aren’t new and shiny and novel. Just get over it. Sure, new ones would be nice. So would a new Ferrari in my driveway. But I’m still happy driving my 2000 Tundra.
The monorails may be safe, but they are by no means reliable. They break down (or for whatever reason are just shut down), frequently. In the several times a year I visit WDW, I ride the monorail only if I don’t have to be somewhere at a specific time. I’ve been burned too many times by this. And that’s a shame because I love to ride them, and they’re a great way to get around when they are running.
You know, I keep hearing that complaint, but in the last few years we’ve done 2 or 3 trips per year and outside the planned automation conversion shutdowns, we haven’t had any issues at all. Other than overcrowding…