Disney World Cutbacks & Entertainment Changes
We’re back with a Walt Disney World news & rumors update, this time with cutbacks to the Citizens of Hollywood, Rafiki’s Planet Watch going seasonal, Pirate Tutorial ending, and the demise of Move It! Shake It! Street Party at Magic Kingdom.
We’ll start with that last bit of news first; the Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party will have its final performance on December 1, 2018, per reports from Entertainment Cast Members. Following this, a new Magic Kingdom dance party will debut in early 2019.
What’s not so certain is what the replacement street party will entail, but one rumor points to it being themed to Mickey’s 90th birthday. This seems incredibly plausible, as the floats already look like presents and minimal effort would be required to freshen up the current party and market it as something “new” after a couple months of its absence.
If Walt Disney World goes that route with the “new” street party, it seems likely that the look of floats will emphasize birthdays (generally) and the focus on Mickey’s 90th would be minimal–maybe a banner on each float that can easily be removed once the 90th festivities end.
I don’t think it’s any secret that I hate Move It! Shake It! I routinely have referred to it as the “Move It! Shake It! Whatever It! Roaming Noise Festival” on the blog. This street party is incredibly loud–to the point that it’s audible from other lands–and Main Street is a miserable place to be while it’s performing. Suffice to say, this was one cutback that I was downright excited to hear.
I should have known that I could never be so lucky, and shortly after the rumor popped up, so too did the follow-up that there’d be a new incarnation of the roaming noise festival starting in early 2019. I’m not surprised. This street party seems popular with guests, and you could say it livens up Main Street with an interactive character offering that’s relatively low budget.
Now, before the angry comments come in defending the roaming noise festival because your “kids love it!” I want to note that I don’t hate the very premise of such a street party. As with dance parties, I think there’s a way to offer such entertainment in a way that’s “not awful.”
What bothers me is that Walt Disney World touts the importance of attention to detail and thematic excellence while a bunch of plainly-designed boxes on wheels blasting contemporary pop music at obscene volumes has been deemed “good enough” for nearly a decade. The only thing separating this roaming noise festival from something out of a carnival in the corner of a Wal-Mart parking lot is the characters.
There was a time when Walt Disney World created temporary parades designed to run a single summer with far more lavish details and impressive scale than this sad little street party. What’s even more disappointing is that I know there were far more ambitious proposals (including a Victorian-themed one complete with carousel-style floats for the characters like the one pictured above), but the cheaper approach won out.
If the plan is to run this new street party for another ~5 years, I really hope more is invested into making the floats and props at least moderately ornate. It doesn’t need to be as lavish as Festival of Fantasy, but it shouldn’t be county fair caliber, either. Walt Disney World can do so much better, and guests deserve as much.
Next, more sad news in that the Citizens of Hollywood will be scaled back yet again, just in time for the new fiscal year! The Dorma Nesmond, Paige Turner, Dara Vamp, and Officer Prime Brody characters have all been eliminated by Disney. The performers themselves posted in the Citizens of Hollywood Facebook group that their last days will be September 29, 2018.
We’ve written in multiple blog posts that the Citizens of Hollywood are one of the best things about Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and one of the last bastions of the original park’s heart and soul. We watched their performances on a number of occasions on our trip earlier this month, and each time they were great (and drew a sizable crowd). It’s tough to single out any of these four as the best, because they all are so adept at making guests’ days in different ways.
It’s hard to see this as anything but a way to cut entertainment expenses, especially as these are all veteran Cast Members, ahead of the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. It’d be one thing if this were a one for one tradeoff for some roaming aliens in Galaxy’s Edge.
I still wouldn’t be okay with it, as I love the Citizens of Hollywood, but I’d understand it. However, this is occurring over a year before that land opens, and while Disney’s Hollywood Studios is still woefully short on things to do. As we’ve noted, Galaxy’s Edge is going to draw a ton of people to DHS, and those new guests are going to need other things to do. It’s disconcerting that Walt Disney World thinks that, rather than scaling up entertainment offerings, cutting back is the appropriate approach.
Another cut in time for the start of the next fiscal year is Rafiki’s Planet Watch, which WDWMagic.com user Rteetz is reporting will go seasonal beginning on September 30, 2018. This will include all character meet & greets and the Wildlife Express Train.
“Seasonal” at Walt Disney World is a fairly nebulous term, but we’d expect Rafiki’s Planet Watch to return for Christmas and New Year’s weeks and spring break season, at minimum. Often, going seasonal portends an attraction’s permanent closure.
On that same date, Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial in Adventureland at Magic Kingdom will end.
Note that almost all of these rumors stem from Entertainment Cast Members working in these areas who have been given a heads up that their shows (etc.) will be eliminated. It’s entirely possible that there’s more to come, especially if budgetary decisions are still being made.
It’s also possible that budgets are being reallocated, meaning we have the negative news of cuts first, followed by announcements of the new entertainment via official channels coming soon. Personally, we are not holding our breath on that one, though. Walt Disney World has a history of trimming operating expenses when construction costs are high, and our expectation is that a lot of these cuts are about that. Time will tell, and we’ll keep you posted on other cuts (or additions) as they leak out or are announced.
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What do you think of these Walt Disney World entertainment (and other) cuts? Are you sad to see another reduction to the Citizens of Hollywood, or do you not really care about this streetmosphere? Are you optimistic about a replacement for the Magic Kingdom street party, or pessimistic like us? Any thoughts on other news or rumors here? 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!
I feel that Disney doesn’t need to “reimagine” something new every month. Yes it is a very competitive business. however we as the guests are paying the price literally and figuratively. Disney lately is a kid with a blank check and they are announcing something new to be built almost every month. Enough Disney. Keep the street entertainers. They help to immerse you into the area that you are in. Is it not enough that your gift shops are becoming sterile and bland. Keep the stage shows. These help your guests not only a place to stop and sit but also to cool off mosts shows.
My family will certainly miss Captain Jack! The Pirate Tutorial was one of our favorites as we loved his humor and our kids loved going up to take part in the show. It was amazing how much Captain Jack looked, sounded, and acted like the “real” Captain Jack. It was a traditions to always go to this show each year on our family trip. We are grateful for the the last 9 years of his shows! I think we have pictures from each year too. We Love you Captain Jack Sparrow!
I am so sad about the Citizen’s of Hollywood cuts as I love all of those characters and really enjoyed their performances! They really make the park what is, or I guess used to be. I’m shocked but at the same time I know I shouldn’t be. I mean they cut the night time parade at the MK and there’s still not a whisper of new one to replace it! Not something I would have ever believed they would do, nor that Disney park fans would stand for.
While it’s a little sad to see Rafiki’s go, I’m going to bet the veterinary staff there is pretty happy about it. Being a member of the veterinary community myself, I can’t imagine the pressure and/or annoyance of having to perform procedures (or even just exams) on patients while being “on display” in front a bunch of tourists. I do like the educational part of it though, and I appreciate the fact that seeing behind the scenes moments like these are coveted in WDW. Also, I hope if they close this area permanently they find good homes for our farm friends!
We are regular visitors from NJ, visiting WDW about 3 times a year. The potential loss of the train & Rafiki’s Planet Watch are truly concerning. When I think of WDW “gems,” this attraction is a wonderful example. The train ride is interesting and immersive in regard to theme. The animals and veterinary exhibits are educational and don’t have the overly rushed commercial feel that some other areas of WDW may have.
Sometimes we do not need rides that are bolder, bigger and “better”… we also need calm and engaging areas of the parks to unplug from the chaos.
Oh no! We will miss Rafiki and the goats by just a few days …!!! And Citizens of Hollywood who we really enjoyed. I can’t understand in the grand scheme of things (given the massive price we paid for our holiday, we are UK visitors) how these cuts will really affect Disney’s budget. A bit rubbish really.