Disney World News: Figment’s Facelift, November Hours & Christmas Conjecture
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).
As we noted last week, it’s entirely possible that Walt Disney World will start the Christmas season later than normal–perhaps post-Thanksgiving. Even before these hours, there was a 95% chance that Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will be cancelled for 2020. However, we’re not sure what to expect from this holiday season…
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.)
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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!
It’s ridiculous to have the railroad down for so long. It should already be back up in operation. And yes, I do have 25 years of experience in engineering design and direct construction management.
Any timeframe for reopening the buffet at Boma?
Will it be open before thanksgiving??
Tom, this is one time I am really hoping you are wrong about the lights on the castle not being done for this Christmas season. I am really being hopeful for some Christmas magic at Disney this holiday season especially since there will be no fireworks shows. I think my group has resigned ourselves that we are going no matter what, but being hopeful park hours increase even if just a little so Christmas lights can be enjoyed on the trees and decorations. And I am almost sure the Christmas tree trail at Disney Springs will not happen…what is your opinion/thoughts on that?
“Tom, this is one time I am really hoping you are wrong about the lights on the castle not being done for this Christmas season.”
I would absolutely love to be wrong about this. And it’s just a guess on my part–not based on rumor or anything credible aside from the current trajectory of park hours and lack of holiday announcements thus far.
As for the Christmas Tree Trail, I’m less inclined to offer a prediction. A lot of what happens at Disney Springs is dictated by the third party stores and restaurants there. Disney can certainly say no, but it’s something marketable and outdoors. If those businesses want it to happen, my guess is that it does.
Figment needs a major update. Its very outdated and its clear by the wait times that most are bored with it. My husband and I like it because it’s nostalgic but agree its time for a change.
Maybe that is not a redesigned Figment. Could it be his brother “Illusion” or sister “Mirage”? Here’s hoping that the true Figment will live on as is. He is one of my favorite characters and I enjoy that personality that he has exhibited. Keep us informed, Tom. We are coming for 2 days at the end of September, but canceled the week trip in December because of the decrease events, parades, fireworks, etc.
We are hoping for some Christmas cheer in the parks anyway. Looking forward to our trip mid December.
Tom, have you heard about the “Night of a Million Lights” at Give Kids the World this year? Sounds very Osborne-ish!
Any expectation for extended New Year’s Eve hours? My dream of a socially-distant countdown at Epcot is slowly devolving into the nightmare of ringing it in from my room (and paying rack rate for the privilege).
Thanks for the heads up Tom. We originally had booked the week/weekend before Thanksgiving for the D23 Destination D event which obviously is not happening now. Now that it seems there’s a good possibility that Christmas decorations won’t be up until after Thanksgiving we rebooked for early December. Was able to use my AP discount for AoA–we want to be on the Skyliner. Your articles this week have really helped us plan this trip! Now, Covid please cooperate…
We would love to by Florida resident annual passes. We just moved here and would be at the parks often. As it is, we have to enjoy the parks through our numerous out of state friends who have annual passes and can go in the parks. We’ve lived here for almost three months and our friends from another state have been in the parks more than us (2 for them, 0 for us). I find myself in unknown territory where I want to give Disney money and they won’t take it. Kind of don’t want to hear about their money problems when they’re refusing income.
I really hope they decorate and put up some lights!!!! The guests going need to feel and see the magic of Christmas still!!! Come on Disney!!!!
That THING is not Figment, and it better not show up masquerading as Figment, either!
Okay, but Wakanda at WDW would be amazing and awesome and fun. If Pandora (which, lbr, is an old and not very good movie) can have an entire land, why can’t Wakanda (a new and very good movie that kids have actually seen)? I know, it’s a pandemic economy but, really, that’s just details.
I think giving any marvel hero an entire land at WDW or any Disney park is a stretch and frankly not needed. The marvel campus in Disneyland will feature Black Panther, as well as a dozen other marvel characters.
A Wakanda food kiosk would be really easy to do for Food and Wine or any festival. You could even sell a few tshirts or other souvenirs.
Oh I wish!! Avatar was and is, dumb. Wakanda would be amazing!!
Figment is and always has been my very favorite at Disney. Can only pray they don’t mess with him.
Oh no! Increased park passes without increased dining, events, entertainment, etc.?! Tom, you can’t tease us like this for tomorrow’s post. It’s like watching a cliffhanger, especially since I’m a week out for my first trip back since February.
I really don’t understand the continued hours cutting. With the understanding that the readers of this blog aren’t the typical guests, I can’t imagine Disney has exactly been getting a rush on ticket sales vs what I see on here (cancellations). I myself booked an extremely last-minute vacation last week just to get in before the hours changed. On the plus side…I was able to do a very enjoyable last-minute vacation. On the minus, I now have no incentive to return.
We did get an ominous phone call while at Wilderness Lodge on Friday, informing us that there were no park passes left for Saturday (we’d already planned Saturday as a rest day, but it was still a creepy call). Curious to see how this weekend turned out in terms of crowds, but it sounds like that is an upcoming post.
Finally, I’d be at least happy to see some Dreamfinder merch. They seem to be pushing a lot of retro themes lately with Figment, and that seems like it would be a really easy add-on.