Walt Disney World announced the first-ever Mary Poppins attraction for EPCOT’s United Kingdom pavilion as part of a Cherry Tree Lane expansion, which has since been delayed or cancelled. This post shares details plus concept and poster art, including of the leaked teacups-style ride that would’ve been built in World Showcase. (Updated March 22, 2023.)
In the last three years, there has been not been much new information about the “postponed” Mary Poppins attraction slated for EPCOT. More details have been released about the future of World Showcase, and the Cherry Tree Lane expansion was entirely absent from those plans. Even after Walt Disney World started its 50th Anniversary and other updates have been offered, there have been no updates on the Mary Poppins ride.
Indefinite delay is usually Disney’s way of gentling stating that a project has been cancelled. Due to the total silence about the Mary Poppins project over the course of the last two years, that’s what we believe has happened with the Cherry Tree Lane expansion. We’ll update this in the future should that change, but for now, consider it cancelled.
This saga began when Walt Disney World reopened. After nearly a year devoid of detail about the Mary Poppins attraction and Cherry Tree Lane expansion, Walt Disney World quietly removed the expansion’s scene from the EPCOT Experience when the park reopened after its four month closure.
This lead to speculation that the Mary Poppins project had been quietly cancelled. In turn, Disney released the following statement: “As with most businesses during this period, we are further evaluating long-term project plans. The decision was made to postpone development of the Mary Poppins-inspired attraction and Spaceship Earth at this time.”
While the Walt Disney World spokesperson used the term “postpone” in the statement, that typically means a project is cancelled or shelved indefinitely. Even pre-closure, there were rumors that the other expansions for EPCOT might instead be prioritized. The closure of Walt Disney World was likely the final nail in the attraction’s coffin.
This shouldn’t be a huge surprise. The original announcement was almost entirely devoid of details beyond the fact that guests will be able to step in time down Cherry Tree Lane past Admiral Boom’s house, then enter Number 17, home of the Banks family, where their adventure will begin.
What, precisely, this ‘adventure’ would be was never described. Fans made their own assumptions and rumors flew of a flat ride with projections, but Disney never offered further details. It’s never a good sign when something is announced with no information, no timeframe, and only a single piece of concept art. (There are other upcoming Walt Disney World projects that fit the same bill, and are on equally unstable ground.)
However, there has been glimmers of hope that the Mary Poppins attraction is simply delayed instead of cancelled completely. Last year, the Cherry Tree Lane expansion came up during Walt Disney Company Annual Meeting of Shareholders. During that, then-CEO Bob Chapek was asked about the status of the Mary Poppins attraction at EPCOT.
In response, Chapek said that the Mary Poppins expansion was in a “holding pattern” due to the closure of the parks and billions of dollars in losses sustained over the last two years. Chapek further stated that as the Walt Disney Company’s cash and liquidity situation improves, they look forward to hopefully refunding those projects in the future.
This isn’t necessarily anything, but it’s not nothing, either.
If these “postponed” projects were off the table entirely, Chapek probably wouldn’t have said so, but he would have given an evasive answer that didn’t answer the question at all. Instead, he gave a response that offered optimism and left the door open for the Cherry Tree Lane project resuming.
During the D23 Expo a few months after that, the Cherry Tree Lane project was not mentioned at all. Normally, this would be cause for pesmissim, and reinforce our belief that the project is cancelled. After all, a ton of projects were discussed for Walt Disney World, including those only in the early stages of development.
However, there was a lot that was not mentioned, including projects that we know are in development or being worked on thanks to construction permits. In fact, many projects at EPCOT with uncertain futures–but that probably are happening in the medium term–were not discussed at all. This includes the Spaceship Earth overhaul, Play Pavilion, and additional details about World Celebration.
Fast-forward to Spring 2023, when a creative portfolio from a former Imagineer working on the EPCOT overhaul project appeared online and revealed details and actual concept art for the delayed or cancelled Mary Poppins attraction at EPCOT.
While technically unofficial, this leaked concept art and architectural designs (above and below) were clearly commissioned by Walt Disney Imagineering, and it’s likely the above piece would’ve been officially revealed had the closure 3 years ago not happened. This same Imagineer also worked on other projects as part of the Project Gamma World Celebration overhaul that did come to fruition, including Creations Shop, Club Cool, and Connections Cafe.
In case it’s unclear, the planned Mary Poppins attraction in EPCOT would have been an indoor teacups style flat ride.
This is precisely what it was rumored to be, and we previously cautioned fans–even before the Mary Poppins attraction was delayed–not to get their expectations up for this attraction. Our understanding at the time was that there were two competing concepts, both of which were indoor flat rides that utilized projection mapping effects.
This concept art is consistent with that, but it’s impossible to say whether this is the version that was greenlit before the delay/cancellation. (We had heard that the whole attraction was up in the air even before the closure.)
This overhead architectural view shows the guest flow through the Mary Poppins attraction.
The queue would’ve started on the right side, with multiple pre-show rooms leading up to the ride itself. This would’ve worked similarly to Enchanted Tales with Belle in the Magic Kingdom, with cool effects and reveals. As for the ride, think Mad Tea Party meets Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, at least as far as the “2.5D” scenic visuals mixed with projection mapping effects are concerned.
Like Enchanted Tales with Belle, it’s arguable that the pre-shows would’ve been better than the attraction itself. To be clear, this is neither a dig at Magic Kingdom’s Beauty and the Beast attraction or the Mary Poppins Returns ride on Cherry Tree Lane. The space where this was/is slated to go is limited, and fan exceptions for an expansive dark ride were always misplaced.
World Showcase needs more attractions, this would’ve been a good fit, and fleshing out a flat ride with fun effects and world-building could’ve made the attraction punch above its weight, so to speak. Just like Enchanted Tales with Belle does for character greeting ‘genre’ of attractions. The “issue” would’ve been fans expecting a big budget and envelope-pushing attraction when that was never Imagineering’s intent. This ride not happening isn’t something that I’ll personally mourn, but I think it would’ve been a solid addition to the ride roster at EPCOT.
With all of that said, we view this particular Cherry Tree Lane project as unlikely of those to resume. Spaceship Earth is long overdue for a track replacement, so reimagining that at the same time that refurbishment occurs makes sense. Play Pavilion is already deep into development and actual construction. Same goes for World Celebration.
By contrast, work never started on Cherry Tree Lane. Still, it’s entirely possible that development of the Mary Poppins expansion will be picked up where it left off at some point in the coming years. The expansion was well-received by fans, and it’s IP that just makes sense for World Showcase, which is rare. It’s also conceivable that something different will happen in the United Kingdom pavilion now that Bob Iger is back and reportedly has big plans for park expansion at Walt Disney World. Or, nothing at all.
For those curious, we’re keeping the rest of this Cherry Tree Lane and Mary Poppins attraction info post for the sake of posterity, but we have absolutely no reason to believe this will ever come to fruition…
This was the announcement with the most fanfare at the 2019 D23 Expo Parks & Resorts panel, with a musical number introducing the expansion and Dick Van Dyke coming on stage (as spunky and chipper as ever) to introduce Bob Chapek’s announcement.
The planned Mary Poppins attraction is believed to be a spinner. This could mean something a la Dumbo or Mad Tea Party, a carousel or even a small Ferris Wheel. There have been a lot of rumors about this attraction, but the one that sounded most plausible was an indoor teacups style attraction that featured projection mapping effects.
Any of these attractions would could explain why specifics weren’t announced. There was a lot of fanfare and excitement for this Mary Poppins expansion, and that same level of excitement probably would not have remained if Disney announced that the ride ‘anchoring’ Cherry Tree Lane is simply an off-the-shelf amusement park ride.
There’s also the possibility that the plans remain fluid, which is why more specifics were not provided. If more intellectual property is going to be injected into World Showcase, I’d like to believe it’s at least a charming and whimsical dark ride that is concealed from the rest of the pavilions and offers a rich experience.
Otherwise, I don’t really know what to say about Cherry Tree Lane. From the concept art flashed on screen at the D23 Expo (but not released online) it looks like take over the under-utilized courtyard behind the United Kingdom pavilion, and will mostly resemble the real-world London, albeit with some familiar landmarks from the films.
I used to be a hard-liner on characters in World Showcase, but more or less gave up on that once Frozen Ever After debuted and I realized that more intellectual property was an inevitability. Now, I simply hope for no fictional countries, tenuous connections, and other nonsense like that.
As far as IP integrations go, Ratatouille in France, Mary Poppins in the United Kingdom, and (if it ever happens) Coco in the Mexico pavilion are the most appropriate options.
Overall, some interesting and surprising announcements…and ‘non-announcements’ for World Showcase. It’s tough to get excited about the Mary Poppins attraction or Cherry Tree Lane…or really have much of any reaction…without more details. We shall see if Walt Disney World releases more details about the Mary Poppins expansion during EPCOT’s 40th Anniversary weekend, or if the project truly is cancelled.
What do you think of the Mary Poppins expansion in EPCOT’s World Showcase? Excited for this, disappointed, or in ‘wait and see’ mode? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment here? 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!