We’re back with a Walt Disney World news & rumor round-up! This time we have mid-to-late November 2020 park hours, conjecture on Christmas in Magic Kingdom, construction progress updates, Park Pass availability, and Figment’s facelift (for lack of a better term).
Bad news first. Walt Disney World has updated its calendar with park hours through November 21, 2020. This is the third time in as many weeks that WDW park hours have been added to the calendar incrementally, meaning it’s only one more week’s worth of hours. Unfortunately, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, and Hollywood Studios all maintain their previously-reduced schedules (see Fall Hours Cut at Walt Disney World).
It’s possible that next week, Walt Disney World will release the calendar for Thanksgiving week (and potentially beyond) reflecting later operating hours. It’s also possible they’ll continue with this schedule and simply keep capacity low; Walt Disney World has already demonstrated that the current approach is viable for holidays.
That leaves big questions about Christmas-time entertainment and decorations at Walt Disney World. This is coming up a lot in the comments, and we truly don’t know what to expect. Everything happening right now is fairly unprecedented. Our best guess is that the blueprint for Christmas will be similar to Halloween–we’re hopeful Walt Disney World drops some official news within the next couple of weeks.
Our expectation is a Christmas cavalcade in Magic Kingdom, food, merchandise, and a scaled-back slate of decorations in all four parks and the (open) resorts. We also wouldn’t be surprised to see Magic Kingdom’s day conclude with a projection show–Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime has tested multiple times in the last few weeks after hours, minus the pyro.
Unless there’s a significant change in Walt Disney World’s operational approach, we do not expect the Cinderella Castle Dream Lights–or many other Christmas lights, for that matter. Walt Disney World might spin this as “allowing guests to enjoy the Royal Makeover of Cinderella Castle” (if any explanation is offered) but that would be nonsense. This will simply come down to operating hours. If Magic Kingdom is closing nightly at 6 pm, that’s only ~30 minutes of evening per day.
Regardless of operating hours, Candlelight Processional is highly unlikely. Same goes for last year’s breakout hit, the Merry Menagerie (the winter critter-puppets at Animal Kingdom). Nevertheless, we’re still optimistic about this Christmas season at Walt Disney World, but it’s definitely not going to be the full slate of a normal year. Just putting that out there because we don’t want to set unrealistic expectations with our enthusiasm.
Reduced entertainment and the shorter hours will be the downside–the upside will be lower crowds during what has become one of Walt Disney World’s stretches of the year. If you’ve never experienced the holiday season at Walt Disney World, you may want to wait until 2021.
That is, unless you really dislike crowds or are just ready for the warmth and comfort of the Christmas season. Aren’t we all?!
As we come out of the “peak” holiday travel weekend dates, Walt Disney World has once again replenished Park Pass inventory. The most notable date to be refilled is Labor Day, which was previously unavailable for all types of guests. It’s now available at all parks for all types of guests.
Accordingly, this is not a reallocation of inventory among the three buckets. However, for reasons we’ll discuss in tomorrow’s Walt Disney World crowds report, this is happening for good reason. No cause for concern–although you probably already know that if you’ve been in the parks this weekend.
Next up, a hot off the presses look at the status of TRON Lightcycle Run as of earlier this afternoon. We’re not planning on doing a Magic Kingdom construction update because this is the only noteworthy change.
A couple of big changes since we last looked at this about one week ago. First, considerable progress has been made on the canopy for the attraction. If this faster pace continues, there’s reason for optimism that this might actually be ready by October 1, 2021.
Second, track for the Walt Disney World Railroad has been torn up. The section of track immediately adjacent to (and under) the TRON coaster track was torn up last year–this does not relate to that. More likely, the track is being replaced since now would be a convenient time to do that. After being out of commission for a while now, we’re also hopeful the Walt Disney World Railroad will be able to return by October 1, 2021.
Finally, a new look for Figment that was glimpsed on the latest installment of “One Day at Disney” (S1E40: Alice Taylor) on Disney+ has roiled Walt Disney World fans. This showcases the work being done at Disney’s StudioLAB, including brief glimpses of a new character model for Figment with an overly large, Eeyore-esque nose.
I’m not going to post screenshots here, as those divorced of context have caused an unnecessary firestorm among EPCOT fans on social media. Speculation is already running rampant that this new incarnation of Figment will replace the current version of the attraction, among other things. However, if you watch the full episode you probably won’t think much of the character style (or anything at all). Suffice to say, it’s unlikely the Figment that appears in EPCOT’s Journey into Imagination is getting a nose job anytime soon.
As is discussed in “One Day at Disney,” StudioLAB is a place where creatives can engage in hands-on experimentation and exploration of next-generation technologies and work on virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and mixed/augmented reality experiences. StudioLAB is located in Burbank, California’s Animation building, and is essentially a playground for filmmakers.
In short, there’s absolutely no reason to believe what’s being shown in the video is going to come to fruition in EPCOT, let alone that this awkward character model would replace the traditional Figment design (which is also shown being toyed with in StudioLAB). Even if this somehow does find its way into EPCOT, it’s far more likely to be something small-scale in the Play Pavilion than as part of a Journey into Imagination ride redo.
This is the second time in less than a month that we’ve had stories about Figment’s future. Last time, it was the much more upbeat news that Disney Legend and former Imagineer Tony Baxter wanted to come out of retirement to reunite Figment and Dreamfinder, restoring Journey into Imagination to its former glory.
This development is far less exciting and upbeat, but it does have some in common with the last story: it also isn’t going to happen. Beyond the nature of what StudioLAB is doing, there’s the practical reality that Disney is cutting budgets and scaling back projects for the parks, pumping the brakes on even announced projects that haven’t broken ground. There’s next to no chance we’re getting a Journey into Imagination ride announcement, good or bad, in the next few years. Once construction on current projects is finished, we’re going to enter another lean period for Disney. We’d strongly caution against getting too worked up over unconfirmed “rumors” as the vast majority are going to be highly speculative or merely wishful thinking that is not going to happen. (E.g., Wakanda at Walt Disney World.)
What do you think of this Walt Disney World news? Thoughts on mid-to-late November 2020 park hours? What about Christmas entertainment, decorations, and various offerings this year? Will you be disappointed if there aren’t lights up for the holidays? Do you like or dislike big-nose Figment? Hopeful that Journey into Imagination will reimagined at some point in your lifetime? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments? 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!