After yesterday’s big announcements by Walt Disney World’s of the Disney Park Pass reservation system for entry and WDW AP refunds, extensions & previews, we’re getting more details about the modified experience that can be expected when Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios reopen in July.
Today’s update concerns rides, shows, and entertainment. Most attractions will be available at each park–for example, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will offer popular attractions like Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway (which was only open for a couple weeks before the parks closed) and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (which previously required an infamous boarding pass dash).
At Magic Kingdom, classics such as Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, and Pirates of the Caribbean are waiting to welcome guests with thrilling adventures for the whole family. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, the magic of nature awaits with Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest, and Avatar Flight of Passage.
Epcot’s iconic Spaceship Earth attraction will also continue to be available in its current state while its previously-planned reimagining is paused. Other popular attractions like Soarin’ Around the World, Frozen Ever After, and Test Track will operate as normal.
Obviously, this is just a partial list that Walt Disney World has highlighted in its announcement. Below are the full lists for each park, via the official Walt Disney World Parks & Tickets Know Before You Go page…
When Magic Kingdom park reopens on July 11, the following attractions, entertainment and shops will be available.
- “it’s a small world”
- Astro Orbiter
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Country Bear Jamboree
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- Jungle Cruise
- Liberty Square Riverboat
- Mad Tea Party
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom
- Space Mountain
- Splash Mountain
- Swiss Family Treehouse
- The Barnstormer
- The Hall of Presidents
- The Haunted Mansion
- The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Tom Sawyer Island
- Tomorrowland Speedway
- Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover
- Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid
- Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
- Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
- Main Street Philharmonic
- Character Cavalcades along the parade route:
- The Royal Princess Processional
- Mickey & Friends Cavalcade
- Fantasyland Friends Cavalcade
- A Goofy Cavalcade
- Tinker Bell & the Lost Treasure
- Arribas Brothers
- Baby Care
- Big Al’s
- Box Office Gifts
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin Photos
- Crystal Arts
- Fantasy Faire
- Hundred Acre Goods
- Island Supply by Sunglass Hut
- Main Street Confectionery
- Memento Mori
- Mickey’s Star Traders
- Plaza del Sol Caribe Bazaar
- Rubio Arts
- Sir Mickey’s
- Splashdown Photos
- Strollers & Wheelchairs
- The Chapeau
- Tomorrowland Light & Power Co.
- TTC Cart / Wheelchairs
- Uptown Jewelers & Cinema
- Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe
When Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park reopens on July 11, the following attractions, entertainment and shops will be available.
- Affection Section
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Discovery Island Trails
- Expedition Everest
- Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
- It’s Tough to be a Bug!
- Kali River Rapids
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Maharajah Jungle Trek
- Na’vi River Journey
- The Animation Experience at Conservation Station
- The Oasis Exhibits
- TriceraTop Spin
- Wilderness Explorers
- Wildlife Express
- Character Cruises with Disney friends appearing in boats around Discovery River:
- Discovery River Character Cruise
- Discovery Island Drummers
- Donald’s Dino Boat Bash!
- Mickey & Friends Flotilla
- Africa Hub Cart
- African Heritage Wood Carving
- Baby Care
- Chester and Hester’s Dinosaur Treasures
- Discovery Trading Company
- Garden Gate Gifts & Strollers
- Kilimanjaro Safari Cart
- Mandala Gifts
- Mombasa Marketplace
- Out Of The Wild
- Serka Zong Bazaar
- The Dino Institute Shop
When EPCOT reopens on July 15, the following attractions, entertainment and shops will be available.
- Awesome Planet
- Canada Far and Wide
- Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival
- Friendship Lagoon Boats
- Frozen Ever After
- Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros
- Impressions de France
- Journey Into Imagination with Figment
- Kidcot (modified)
- Living with the Land
- Mission: SPACE
- Reflections of China
- Soarin’ Around the World
- Spaceship Earth
- Test Track
- The American Adventure
- The Seas with Nemo & Friends
- Turtle Talk with Crush
- Walt Disney Imagineering presents the Epcot Experience
- America Gardens Theatre Presents…
- Character Cavalcades throughout the day, featuring Disney friends traveling around World Showcase promenade:
- Frozen Promenade
- Mickey & Friends World Tour
- Princess Promenade
- African Heritage
- Arribas Brothers
- Art of Disney
- Baby Care
- Canada Cart
- China Kiosk
- Disney Traders
- Galerie Des Halles
- Gateway Gifts
- Glas Und Porcellan
- Karamell Kuche
- La Bottega Italiana
- Mexico Indoor Plaza
- Mission: SPACE Cargo
- Mouse Gear Temporary Location
- Pin Traders – Camera Center
- Port of Entry
- Puffin’s Roost
- Sea Base Alpha Gift Shop
- Strollers & Wheelchairs
- Tea Caddy
- Test Track Simporium
- Wood Carver
- World Traveler
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
When Disney’s Hollywood Studios reopens on July 15, the following attractions, entertainment and shops will be available.
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
- Muppet*Vision 3D
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™
- Toy Story Mania!
- Vacation Fun (at Mickey Shorts Theater)
- Walt Disney Presents
- Character Cavalcades throughout the day, with favorite Disney friends on Hollywood Boulevard:
- Disney Junior Stars Motorcade
- Mickey & Friends Motorcade
- Pixar Motorcade
- Celebrity 5 & 10
- Crossroads of the World
- Dok Ondar’s Den of Antiquities
- Droid Depot Experience
- Droid Depot Store
- In Character
- Legends of Hollywood
- Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Mickey’s Of Hollywood
- Movieland Memorabilia
- Once Upon A Time
- Sid Cahuenga’s One-of-a-Kind
- Rock Around The Shop
- Rubio Arts
- Strollers & Wheelchairs
- Tatooine Traders
- The Market
- Tower Hotel Gifts
- Toy Story Mania Shop
What is NOT Opening
- Magic Kingdom – Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor & Enchanted Tales with Belle
- Animal Kingdom – Finding Nemo – The Musical, Festival of the Lion King, and Primeval Whirl (if you count that)
- Epcot – Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along (IMPRESSIONS DE FRANCE ALLLL DAY!)
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Frozen Sing-Along, Star Wars Launch Bay, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Savi’s Workshop
With the fewest rides (but lots of headliners) and most shows, Disney’s Hollywood Studios was already imbalanced. It’s definitely the park hit hardest by the modified operations. (More on that in the commentary below.)
You might notice a bunch of character cavalcades listed above. Despite parades, nighttime spectaculars, meet & greets, character dining, and other experiences being temporarily paused when the parks initially reopen due to physical distancing limitations, we have some news on what it means that characters will still be in the parks to “entertain and delight” guests.
Previously, in our Character Dining Cancelled at Walt Disney World post, we assumed this meant more “smile & wave” cavalcades and impromptu greetings from balconies and other distanced locations. The latest update from Walt Disney World more or less confirms this, with some additional info describing what’s on the bullet-point list above…
If you’re hoping to see some familiar friends or take in the tunes of treasured performers, you’re in luck!
Just as you may have seen recently at Disney Springs with Stormtroopers “enforcing” modified rules, characters will appear in new and different ways that are mindful of physical distancing.
These will include special cavalcades down the Magic Kingdom parade route, characters sailing the waterways of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, processions along the World Showcase promenade in Epcot, and motorcades down the boulevard in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Suffice to say, different areas of the park will come to life with impromptu performances throughout the day.
Looking beyond the Disney characters, several musical groups and entertainment acts will also return.
You can look forward to seeing Main Street Philharmonic at Magic Kingdom Park, plus the Mariachi Cobre and everyone’s favorite funky drumming crew the JAMMitors at EPCOT, just to name a few.
Of course, several other entertainment acts were cut just prior to the parks closing, and presumably will not return.
Prior to the parks closing, several groups had their final day of performances: British Revolution, the popular music group that performed in the United Kingdom pavilion; Sergio, the mime and juggler in the Italy pavilion; and Matsuriza, the taiko drummers in the Japan pavilion.
Overall, nothing earth-shattering here–mostly just confirmation of what we already knew about attractions and entertainment that will be offered once Walt Disney World’s theme parks reopen. The one promising tidbit is the cavalcades, which could enough to scratch the “parade itch” for some guests.
Nevertheless, this is obviously significantly less entertainment than pre-closure. Cynically, we also question to what degree some of this is “necessary” and what’s a thinly-veiled cutback.
How does Walt Disney World justify showing the enclosed and indoor MuppetVision 3D, but not using the outdoor and open-air venues for Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage and Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular? While the equity performers are part of unions and thus may be the reason Disney is not proceeding with these shows, it’d be great to see these colossal amphitheaters used for alternative entertainment.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios was already very top-heavy (see our DHS: Walt Disney World’s Best Rides & Most Frustrating Park post from right before the closure), and the non-operational shows definitely won’t help with that. If Disney doesn’t use the venues in DHS, they might end up with crowd issues in that specific park–even with significantly reduced attendance.
On the one hand, every aspect our daily lives has temporarily changed, so it’s unreasonable to expect the same Walt Disney World as before. Some compromises are in order, and guests returning this year need to understand that they’re experiencing a modified and diluted experience. That’s just reality, and no amount of complaining will change it.
On the other hand, if Walt Disney World wants to attract tourists back to the theme parks, something has to give. Either in the form of aggressive discounts, quality alternative entertainment, or other special enhancements that help guests justify visiting. Right now, it’s a really tough sell to anyone who isn’t a local, Disney Vacation Club member, or diehard fan.
Perhaps Walt Disney World is fine with that. Reopening vacation package sales for 2021 before the remainder of this year almost suggests that Disney is viewing the rest of this year as something of a lost cause or de facto soft opening for locals and extremely motivated visitors.
Nevertheless, it’s a risky approach. Word of mouth, reviews, and social media feedback from the remainder of this year will reverberate and influence bookings for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. We remain optimistic that there’s upside to visiting this year (my expectation of empty parks is a strong personal pull) and hope as more time passes, Walt Disney World is able to roll out plans to improve and enhance the guest experience.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
What do you think about Walt Disney World’s entertainment plan? Any thoughts on how they can compensate for the lack of parades, fireworks, nighttime spectaculars, meet & greets, and more? Will you be attempting to visit Walt Disney World this summer or fall, or are you waiting until 2021 when things (presumably) start getting back to normal? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? 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!