There are a few rumors floating around that involve Walt Disney World, namely the addition of characters to attractions in Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Additionally, there’s some buzz about the possibility of more Disney Vacation Club.
More characters and DVC, nothing earth-shattering about that, right? Well, these rumors are a bit different and more out there than what has become the norm with DVC additions and character infusions.
Normally, we don’t really report on rumors unless we have something to add in the form of commentary…and that we do (see below). Plus, there are a few of these, and the outlandishness coupled with credence these rumors seem to have from those in the know has us thinking these are worthy of discussion…
Briefly, here are the different rumors that are circulating:
Muppets in Liberty Square: A new Muppets-driven show featuring figures of the characters (led by Sam the Eagle) is in the process of being added to the exterior windows on the second floor of the Hall of Presidents and surrounding buildings. The characters would teach history to passers-by from the windows.
Guardians of the Galaxy…Everywhere…in Future World: This is a juicy one…the “main” rumor here has the Guardians of the Galaxy characters replacing Ellen’s Energy Adventure, either in the form of a gutted building or totally new structure. Variants of the rumor place the Guardians of the Galaxy characters in Mission: Space or Wonders of Life, instead. Details beyond that are totally unknown.
DVC to Caribbean Beach Resort: There’s an empty plot of land at Caribbean Beach Resort, and this rumor has that space being the next expansion for Disney Vacation Club.
Note: since there’s often ‘controversy’ about the original source of a rumor, for the rumors listed above, I’m linking to WDWThemeParks.com‘s various rumor pages as I feel they do a good job of documenting the timeline of each rumor and offering original source(s) attribution. It’s also a way for me to slyly pass the buck and avoid misattribution, since I haven’t followed these stories too closely.
Now, let’s turn to some analysis and commentary…
Let me preface this by stating that I have absolutely zero inside information. My conjecture and analysis that follows is purely speculative and based entirely on my own opinions and/or grumpiness.
I’ll start here with the Muppets rumor. I absolutely love the Muppets–so must someone high up in Disney, as they keep getting chance after chance despite tepid audience response–and I am really hoping for an expanded Muppets Courtyard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I also think Sam the Eagle is great as the face of patriotism.
Still, this doesn’t sit entirely well with me. It would go against the grain in terms of the ton of Liberty Square’s tone, which is really the one land in Magic Kingdom that currently doesn’t have some caricatured (exterior) vibe. On the other hand, it could be a shot in the arm for an area that otherwise not much more than a waypoint for other destinations.
At the end of the day, I’m somewhere in the middle on this, and I think it probably depends upon the execution. It could be perfectly acceptable and a way to get guests to spend more time in Liberty Square (possibly luring some to Hall of Presidents), but it could end up being more misguided character infusion.
Next is Guardians of the Galaxy…somewhere…in Future World. The precise details don’t really matter, as my feelings remain the same regardless of where you were to put it in Future World. It doesn’t belong. I don’t care what storytelling contrivances are utilized. It doesn’t belong.
There was a time when Walt Disney World built and renovated attractions based upon the need of the location. Now, it seems the tail wags the dog, with a hot intellectual property being preordained as the next addition, and being shoehorned in wherever there’s an opening with a mandate to “just make it work!” It doesn’t even have to be a logical opening, just find an underperforming attraction, cram that IP into it, and figure out the details later.
This is incredibly sad, short-term thinking, the net result of which two decades from now will be that the other 3 parks will look more and more like Magic Kingdom. Outside of the concocted backstories that “explain” it all for us, you won’t be able to point to a theme for any park or land. They will all be hodgepodges of attractions placed haphazardly because what was hot at the moment dictated development, rather than any sort of long term creative vision.
The irony here is that the very film at the core of the rumor here is popular because it had that creative vision. The folks at Marvel took a risk on an outlandish movie with a talking tree, ornery raccoon, and Andy Dwyer as an action hero. That vision is lacking when it comes to building out the parks. The thing is, though, as Guardians of the Galaxy is beloved because it is awesome, so too would any theme park attraction be beloved if it is awesome. Characters can work–and work well–in the parks, but they aren’t necessary for excellence. What is necessary is building things that are awesome. What a profoundly simple concept.
Fans and casual guests have given–and will give–a lot of the character-infusion a pass, as each time there’s the upside of getting something new and it utilizing characters from a film they enjoy. Again, short term thinking. In the long term, do we really want four variations of the Magic Kingdom?
Beyond what we want, is that even good for long term business, or will even casual guests become burnt out by the thematic redundancy of the four parks? (Maybe three versions is fairer–Animal Kingdom would have a long way to go before losing its identity.) If we’re bargaining–that’s one of the stages of grief, right?–I’d even accept Disney’s Hollywood Studios as a “catch-all” park for IP if it means the other 3 parks can be thematically “pure.”
Finally, Disney Vacation Club at Caribbean Beach Resort. Honestly, if a rumor was floated of ‘Disney Vacation Club at _______ Resort’ I would tend to believe it. That resort even could be at Universal, and at this point and I might believe it. (Maybe.)
I suspect some degree of internal feasibility analysis has been performed for DVC at virtually every Walt Disney World resort. DVC is a business unit weighted heavily by the initial purchase, meaning that if there aren’t new resorts to sell, sales decline. This is contra to Disney’s ‘every quarter must be better than the last’ mantra. And, despite those purported ‘savings’ DVC advertises for guests, timeshare sales are a lucrative business.
Additionally, Disney Vacation Club has been faced with slowing sales for the last several years, a trend it has attempted to reverse by raising prices and crippling the resale market. Neither have worked. Instead, introducing DVC at the first Moderate Resort (and charging slightly less per point?) might do the trick. Mind you, it raises a whole host of long-term issues for DVC Members, but who cares about that if it fixes the short term sales ‘problem’? Right…?
Hopefully, Disney will stem those potential long-term issues by building a resort with rooms that are nicer than Caribbean Beach’s standard rooms, and also building a canal with boat transportation to Epcot–an addition that would be easier than you might think. Finally, it’d be nice if DVC also used the plot presently occupied by the Pirate Rooms at Caribbean Beach to build out additional amenities, such as a new pool and restaurants. Caribbean Beach barely has the infrastructure to support its current room inventory. If Disney handles this adeptly, this could actually turn out to be positive for Disney Vacation Club and current owners. (That’s a big “if.”)
At the end of the day, the craziest part of all this to me is that a decade ago, most of these rumors would be blown off, treated as prankster folly or Bluesky nonsense. However, much has changed since then (Frozen in World Showcase set a low bar!), and there is the distinct sense that “anything is possible,” especially as these rumors come from credible sources. In fairness, two of the rumors do have the possibility of panning out to be positive, even if there are pitfalls with even those. It’s the other, however, that has no upside and demonstrates how the glory days of EPCOT Center are the distant past.
If you don’t like the sounds of these rumors, call your senator write Disney and share your opinion. Basically, do whatever you can to let your voice be heard (although direct contact with Disney is better than getting worked into a lather online). Just because none of this is official yet doesn’t mean you can’t share your thoughts on potential or theoretical projects. Guest feedback does make a difference, and does shape decisions.