WDW News & Rumors: Epcot & Magic Kingdom Construction Permits; Coco Ride?
Hopefully everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving with loved ones, and has been recovering in the most American way possible: with marathon shopping sessions for Black Friday weekend. Before you resume that on Cyber Monday, we thought we’d drop in with the latest Walt Disney World news & rumors.
Well, perhaps “latest” isn’t the right word. Most of what we’re reporting here is not exactly breaking news, but rather, updates to existing projects and previously-reported rumors. In the case of existing projects, several permits were filed for Walt Disney World last week–we have a quick rundown of those.
In the case of rumors, which is where we’ll begin, we have the latest status of a Coco attraction at Walt Disney World. There has been renewed buzz about this on social media; not because of any new rumors or this overlay being greenlit, but largely based on wishful thinking from fans. That doesn’t mean it isn’t happening, though (to the contrary, we’re hearing it’s very likely). This new buzz is more about people seeing the film and connecting the dots on a rumor that has been percolating for months…
As we previously reported, whether Gran Fiesta Tour would be re-imagined into a Coco attraction depended largely upon box office performance and audience response. Well, with Coco beating projections over the holiday weekend and earning an A+ CinemaScore, it’s safe to say things are looking up.
To reiterate, the original rumor was that this attraction would be a reworked Gran Fiesta Tour focusing on Coco and “Dia de los Muertos.” The scope of the potential project is unknown, but expectations are that it’d be smaller in scale than Frozen Ever After.
If the attraction concept is green-lit, the Mexico pavilion would likely see a larger redesign (and removal/retooling of retail space) to provide a more elaborate and longer queue for the attraction, and also address other congestion issues that exist within the Mexico pavilion.
While we have yet to see Coco (although we are really looking forward to it!), we’ve heard nothing but good things, and its cultural authenticity sounds like a good fit for Epcot. We’ve always felt Gran Fiesta Tour was a tasteful way of integrating Three Caballeros into Epcot, but the attraction is hardly a classic.
A Coco attraction would benefit from said authenticity of its source material, and would also have a healthy budget to leave more of a lasting impression on guests than Gran Fiesta Tour. If there is a downside to this happening, it’d be that repurposing an existing attraction handcuffs Imagineering in terms of what they can do. As with Frozen, it can be argued that Coco “deserves” an original attraction. On the other hand, with so many projects ongoing at Walt Disney World right now, it might be a ‘this or nothing’ type of scenario.
In Magic Kingdom permit news, permits were filed for TRON Lightcycle Power Run (MK 2) and the new Main Street Theater (MK 1) with the South Florida Water Management District. Actually, a single permit (#48-00714-P) was filed for both.
These structures are relatively close to one another due to the “Main Street” Theater being built in the area that more or less previously housed the Galaxy Palace Theater (home to Mickey’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas–a show we loved–for a number of years), which became backstage parking in 2009. These permits are being filed with the SFWMD because they’re larger in nature and will have a (combined?) impact on water control.
Rather than being accessible from Tomorrowland, it’s expected that the Main Street Theater will be reached from what is currently the overflow corridor behind Main Street. With this corridor using as a crowd control measure (and notably as the ‘welcome’ area for the Halloween and Christmas Party) more frequently, we’d expect it to receive significant place-making as part of this project. It’s likely Magic Kingdom could use the corridor as a permanent ‘release valve’ for crowds once 2020 rolls around.
On the TRON Lightcycle Power Run front, there’s absolutely nothing significant about the permit. From the concept art, it was patently-obvious where this would be built. The permit answers none of the questions anyone had (what modifications would be made to Tomorrowland Speedway, would the TRON coaster retain all elements of the Shanghai Disneyland version, etc.); it just confirms what was already announced.
That’s more or less true for the Main Street Theater, too. While no location for the building was announced, reasonable inferences could be made based upon the concept art. Also, by the fact that there was literally nowhere else to put the thing without significant modifications to Main Street or Tomorrowland. Still, it’s nice to have confirmation.
Another permit has also been filed for the Ratatouille dark ride offering a few more details than the previously-filed permit we shared back in June. The only significant difference that I can ascertain is restrooms and merchandise stands, so rather than reinvent the wheel, I’m recycling the graphic from that post. (Ignore the question mark–Ratatouille: the Adventure was subsequently confirmed in July at the D23 Expo as part of the Epcot Reimagining.)
Even though these permits mostly just pertain to what we already knew, it’s nice to have confirmation that all of these projects are moving along. There was a barrage of announcements at the D23 Expo this summer, and anyone with a memory of the “Disney Decade” likely has trepidation that not all of these projects will end up being built. I have that lingering concern, and although I wouldn’t mind a couple of the announced projects dying quiet deaths, I’m largely optimistic about how Walt Disney World should look for its 50th Anniversary.
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What do you think of these news & rumors? Would you trade Gran Fiesta Tour for a Coco attraction in Epcot? If you’ve seen Coco, how do you feel about it potentially being added to World Showcase? Thoughts on TRON Lightcycle Power Run or the new theater being added to a back-alley of Magic Kingdom? Any questions about any of the other developments ahead of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary? We love hearing from readers, so please share any other thoughts or questions you have in the comments!
I love the idea of them changing the ride to Coco. That movie was not only more athentic to Mexican culture, it was loved by both need and my kids. And with so much work gone into that ride, I mean have you really seen the attention to detail in all the construction, the decorations…. beautiful. I hope they don’t loose the volcano…it’s my favorite., And maybe they can add a little drop somewhere ….it makes it fun. I was there the other day and saw they had a display of the “offrenda” from the movie…I knew then it was something that perhaps was in the works. So excited… As for the theater and Tron…bring it. I love all new things to DISNEY. And back to Epcot….add more countries….please… And rides to go with them. The rumors of Brazil are awesome…make a ride as if you are sitting in the middle of a float at “Carnival” …the music…the culture…the dancers…that would be amazing. People would love it! And add a Spain….flamenco dancers and paella….how could you go wrong…or something more from the past…a Castillo…with queen Isabel and the story of sending fleets to discover lands…. India…the Taj Majal…and lastly maybe like someone mentioned above…Italy….some pasta…gondolas… vineyards… Disney is magical….can’t wait to see what they do with the years.
I was appalled to see they “ducked up” my favorite childhood ride in Mexico when I returned as an adult. The Donald search is grating, I ride it just for the volcano at the start and fireworks at the end. I couldn’t believe they made a cultural ride into a cartoon ride. If Coco had more authenticity, as long as the volcano stayed the same, I would not care about the lay over. The Frozen ride is lame and belongs in MK like the Guardians ride belings in HS. Would love to see Italy get a gondola ride.
I think Disney did a film about Mexico so they could replace the gran fiesta based on what i read from this article https://www.laughingplace.com/w/articles/2017/08/28/without-epcot-no-coco/
I am so excited for the thought of a Coco ride in Epcot. For people complaining that World Showcase is becoming too cartoonified and losing what it was originally made for, I would argue that the Three Caballeros already did that. Coco is way more in touch with authentic Mexican culture and folklore than the Three Caballeros ever were. I definitely hope Epcot replaces a generic cartoon ride with a cartoon ride based on a respectfully made movie that actually is based in Mexican culture. A Coco ride would be a way to help bring in guests and engage them with the culture and history of Mexico.
This is not the same as having Frozen in Norway. Frozen only referenced Norwegian history and culture. Coco fully embraces Mexican history and culture in a respectful, but still Disneyfied, way.
I love the Three Caballeros. The original movie maybe dated but its a fun movie. I like their addition to El Rio Del Tiempo (although I miss the old El Rio Del Tiempo soundtrack). I find this ride very relaxing and fun. If Coco replaces them, I hope the Three Caballeros find a home somewhere else (such as the rumored Brazil Pavilion or my pipe dream: bring back Mickey Mouse Revue and them back).
I also love the three Caballeros. I am perfectly fine with a Coco update to the mexico ride. I think it’s probably appropriate and I loved the movie. However, I do hope Disney incorporates the Cabelleros somewhere else because I just love them. This is a situation where I love the old thing but I can be excited about the new thing too.
I’m among those who feel that Coco in the Mexico pavilion is a plus. Gran Fiesta Tour is fun, but nothing special. The atmosphere of the Mexico pavilion is what is really special to me. If they can preserve that atmosphere – as I feel they did when Frozen was added to the Norway pavilion, then I think Coco is a fine overlay.
The reality of the Disney company today is IP-based attractions, whether temporary or permanent, whether overlays or all-new. That’s the reality of today’s Disney. Is it aligned with Walt’s original vision? No. Will it ever change back to more closely align? Possibly. But certainly not under Iger/Chapek.
I’d love to see some all-original e-tickets as much as the next Disney fan, but for now, I’m happy with the fact that these IP-based attractions and overlays have been up to Disney quality, with very, very few exceptions. If that’s the trend, then go ahead and “toonify” Epcot, if it means that the quality and quantity of attractions continues to increase.
I am a big fan of EPCOT and particularly the World Showcase. When I walk through a pavilion, I should feel that I want to visit that country. Even though I thought Frozen was a great movie, the Frozen Ever After attraction did not make me yearn of visiting the beautiful fjords of Norway. As long as Coco makes one want to Mexico (my favorite pavilion), I say sure, bring on the upgrade.
That crowd overflow space was used the day Obama made a speech in the Magic Kingdom. For security all guests could not access Main Street and used the overflow boulevard to the right and behind a Main Street. What will happen when future dignitaries come to speak when security is tightened?
I think it will function in much the same way: as a bypass for Main Street. The only difference going forward is that it will be (hopefully) better-themed.
When do you think Disney will announce that coco is replacing the gran fiesta
More cartoons!? Epcot is becoming too town. Does every attempt to enrich our lives, and yes, even education, have to be bulldosed for another absurdly distorted and out of proportion Carney ride? What will Italy become, the Luigi’s pirrelli tire grand Prix? Enough allready. Ask, what would Walt want?
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I couldn’t have said it better myself. These added to the Magic Kingdom would make sense, but not at Epcot. Develop new countries, more accurate depictions, enhance food and alcohol offerings unique to the country; add more education to existing rides, like Disney’s version of a museum of science and industry…that makes sense for Epcot. I already avoid Norway because of Frozen. I agree to ask ourselves, what would Walt want?
While I agree generally about the ‘cartoonification’ of Epcot, this is swapping one attraction like that for another, so I can’t really get worked up over this one.
As for “what would Walt want?”–He never wanted EPCOT Center to begin with. He wanted a living, working community. So that ship sailed in 1982.
I love the idea of a Coco ride at Epcot! It was a visually stunning film and it would be so interesting to see how Imagineers could incorporate those visuals into an attraction.
I’m less resistant to a re-teming of Gran Fiesta Tour now that I have seen the wonderful CoCo, even though I do think it will be a shame to lose the reference to a lesser-known film. The added Three Caballeros animatronics haven’t even been there very long. While I understand the instinct to “update” existing attractions to drive traffic at a lower price point, World Showcase has been in need of additional attractions for basically its entire existence. So far the only thing that is actively in the works to fix this is the Ratatouille ride. The fact that the movie doesn’t appear to be under threat is a welcome development.
I remain optimistic though. CoCo was really good.
Hopefully those great AAs will find a home elsewhere!
Not happy about TRON. Teresa and I love walking in that secluded area by Speedway and Space Mountain, except we have to walk past the stupid smokers section. Once again, the quaintness of the Magic Kingdom is being threatened. It continues to get worse, not better. It will be what it will be. I thank God I knew these parks so well before they started messing them up. I miss the Rose Garden by the way. Another Disney mistake removing it and the Swan Boat loading dock.
I must admit that, although I’m a huge TRON fan, I was envisioning the ride in EPCOT NOT MK… The aesthetics of the ride scream EPCOT to me. Seeing it next to Space Mountain will definitely take some getting used to… I’m sure Imagineers have an awesome plan to pull it off though 🙂
I’m just kind of confused about why they’re putting a roller coaster behind a roller coaster. I felt like TRON would have been a better fit for future world in Epcot because there could have been all kinds of cool pre and post show areas about computers and learning to code (there are some great interactive coding activities for kids now). Plus, Epcot doesn’t have a roller coaster yet.
Guardians would have made as much sense as anything in Tomorrowland since they’ve already had some Marvel stuff there and that whole land struggles with identity anyway. I like both TRON and Guardians, I just think those two ride locations should have been switched.
The whole path reeks of cigarette smoke, so I don’t think it’s a big loss (except perhaps to smokers).
Magic Kingdom has never felt quaint to me. It’s Disney’s most popular Park, and adding ride capacity is a good thing IMO.
I think a change in Mexico would be great and Coco is perfect. Merchandise will consist of what originally was sold plus movie merchandise which may have a positive impact. Most times I have been the merchandise area was quiet with most traffic being in the restaurant or ride. I too enjoy the fact the ride is not a busy one but am willing to sacrifice for something new. As far as Ratatouille I am over the moon as I love the movie and have been jealous of Disneyland Paris having more mention of it. Tron is my least favorite, I do not recall seeing the original, the sequel or the tv series. As of this year the movie is 35 years old and though the ride looks exciting most of the younger generation will be clueless.
Hi Stacey! Cannot disagree with you more regarding TRON. The buzz from Shanghai is HUGE and TRON is experiencing a resurgence. If you know a bit about the cosplay community, you can see a lot of TRON Legacy fans out there (and the original too) with still many online discussions about the dropping of (or revival efforts?) of TRON 3. Also, whether one has seen the Song of the South or not (mostly not), people love Splash Mountain and many only learn about the existence of the movie and/or its backstory only after having ridden it. In the end, it doesn’t really matter if some people will be clueless about the movie(s) before they ride TRON. I think the WDW ride will continue to fan the flames of the strong revival started in Shanghai 🙂
I have to agree about Coco and Ratatouille! Loved Ratatouille in DLP and keeping my fingers crossed for Coco.
I’ll be the lone contrarian on this one, probably, but I would rather see Coco get an attraction in a space that isn’t EPCOT. I enjoyed the movie very much. So for me it has nothing to do with whether it should have an attraction, but everything to do with cramming another IP-related attraction into World Showcase. I realize there probably isn’t another feasible location for it, but for me, this is another step on the road to turning EPCOT into simply another park.
I do understand that Coco is more specific to Mexico than Frozen is to Norway, so I realize the comparison isn’t 100% correct. But where I feel like Gran Fiesta is able to employ the Three Caballeros (also an IP, albeit not nearly as recent) in a supporting role to presenting a variety of aspects of Mexican culture, any Coco ride would have a primary focus on the movie, with the Mexican focus in more of the background.
Spending 55 million dollars on Epcot and the employees won’t see one red cent of it.
The employees make a decent wage because of it and the other Disney attractions. And working there is good for their resumes, of which we sometimes forget the value.
i did the college program 14 years ago but keep it on my resume and it’s always the first thing people ask about. 🙂
I think “decent wage” is probably a stretch.
Walt Disney World paying higher wages would be a win-win for Cast Members and guests. (From the guest perspective: WDW would be able to attract and retain high-quality Cast Members, who would offer superior service and have higher morale.)
I would love to see a Coco rode in Mexico. I think the film is very respectful of the culture and would be a good fit for the pavilion. (I’m also not a big fan of the three Caballeros.)
I really enjoyed Coco. It was a bit formulaic and rather predictable, but done in the charming way that only Pixar can do. It would make a great attraction. I would miss the walk on boat ride in the Mexican pavilion though. It’s been nice to have a pleasant experience with little to no wait.
Totally agree – one of our “must-dos” for our kids is riding on three caballeros, then running back down the (non-existent) to ride it again. It is nice to have a walk on ride in a largely ride-less world showcase to entertain the little ones, and it will be sad if the change results in Frozen-like waits. But I like that Coco would bring more cultural sensitivity and “edutainment” to the ride.
I’ll go out on a limb here & predict a Coco “re-theme” (which I’m all for) won’t bring anything close to “Frozen-like” waits.
I’m excited to see what Disney can do with retheming Gran Fiesta Tour to Coco. While my kids love the current attraction, it lacks the grace for me of El Rio Del Tiempo. I suspect that a Coco theme would fit the area better than the Gran Fiesta Tour.
It would be too bad to see the retail space go away since that’s a big part of what I enjoy about the Mexico pavilion. We rarely buy anything there, but it feels like a complete space and not just a spot for the attraction.
Probably missing the obvious, but what does it mean when they call a ride a “dark ride”? Dark like space mountain? Dark like Winnie the Pooh where you go room to room, with special lighting? Or dark as in the theme like Haunted Mansion.
I look forward to the ridicule I’m inviting.
no ridicule here! i think dark ride is like haunted mansion or winnie the pooh, honestly, or even a toy story mania. I assume it is a ride that will load continuously and take you from scene to scene. that’s how i interpret it.
I’m wanting to know the same thing. No ridicule from this commentor.
It basically just means an attraction in a moving vehicle that is indoors. So, I think all the examples would qualify.
Took the family to see Coco – what a fantastic film. After all of the lame Pixar sequels, it was very refreshing to see another Pixar original. Great movie!
Would love to see a Coco ride at Epcot!