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’tthink 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.
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.
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!