Mary Poppins Teacups Attraction at EPCOT?
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…
The announcement of a Mary Poppins attraction follows on the heels of the news that EPCOT’s Future World Will Be Replaced by 3 New Neighborhoods, and will be the next big addition to World Showcase after Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
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.
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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!
Soooo this is super cool news. But am Is it just me or does anyone else think there should be a Dr. Who attraction in the England area?
I know there’s absolutely no room for it, but I loved Tony Baxter’s concept for a potential Jolly Holiday attraction (it was in a D23 video, if I recall correctly). The artwork was simply stunning. Maybe a good fit for another Disney Park somewhere in the world – I really hope it comes to fruition one day!
I was just Googling around and found the SeaGlass carousel in NYC… this concept (but with merry go round horses instead of fish) looks perfect for Epcot… something groundbreaking and fun that still fits into a small footprint. Reminds me a bit of Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree or Alien Swirling Saucers but adding up-and-down motion to the mix. See https://youtu.be/-kTUqQTRTTQ
The fantastic music, scenery and magic of the movie offer enormous potential for a phenomenal ride experience. Mary Poppins is one of my all-time favorite movies, so I’m disappointed the plans are seemingly on-hold at best if not altogether canceled. One can still hope!
I remember the talk that it would be a teacup-like ride, but I apparently misunderstood because I didn’t think it was literally going to be a teacup ride.
I actually don’t mind the idea of a basic flat ride spinner. It’s mostly the fact that they are cups of tea, when we could be, say, spinning “on the back” of a penguin waiter. It’s a little bit that I think hiding a carnival ride in a fancy building set is bound to disappoint people who don’t know exactly what it is; say what you will about Alien Swirling Saucers, but you can see what it is before you get in line. (An indoor Mary Poppins area with a penguin waiter spinner, a carousel, and a gift shop, on the other hand, might be a nice mini -pavilion.)
How do you look at a film as imaginative as Mary Poppins, that features jumping into a pavement picture, a tea party on the ceiling, and flying over London, and come up with “teacup spinner”??? The potential for a Mary Poppins ride is incredible and this is what the concept was? No wonder Chapek was so enthused; it’s cheap and unexciting, his two favorite things. I really hope if we ever get a Mary Poppins ride at the parks it’s something incredible and worthy of the film.
Yes, absolutely. We’ll said…
It defies all common sense to plan a teacup ride instead of a carousel ride for Mary Poppins… a movie whose most striking scene (visually speaking) literally features a carousel ride.
There’s not enough space here to attempt a carousel ride where the “horses” go off the wheel onto a dark ride track, but I’d still like to see what imagineers could do to “plus-up” the standard carousel experience. There seem to be many potential ways they could take a tried-and-true (but unexciting) format to the next level… The only reason I can think of for not going this route is that adding projection mapping and other effects would have increased motion sickness concerns?
@Pete, I couldn’t agree more! While it’s sad to think of all the wasted potential of a fully imagineered Mary Poppins attraction, it just makes perfect sense to deliver a themed carousel. I know they’d never do anything without an IP connection nowadays, but it would even be nice to see a two-tiered merry go round in the style of the Venetian Carousel in Blackpool. The ride format evokes UK pleasure piers, and wouldn’t feel shoe-horned, thematically.
“There seem to be many potential ways they could take a tried-and-true (but unexciting) format to the next level…”
One potential incarnation of this attraction did this, quite literally. It would’ve been an indoor carousel with two levels, similar to the Caravan Carousel at Tokyo DisneySea, but fully enclosed.
In the minority here but as a mom of toddlers and babies I’m so bummed this was cancelled! As boring as they are for adults, the littlest kiddos go wild for spinners/teacup type rides and they don’t tend to draw the crazy wait times that dark rides do, at least once the new ride smell wears off (also helpful for little kids). Would love to see more at Epcot and HS, really helps to fill in our day.
For the reasons you identified, flat rides serve an important purpose and are valuable additions to the parks–especially ones that don’t offer many rides for smaller children. (I still think getting rid of “a bug’s land” at DCA was a huge mistake.)
With that said, the “correct” approach to flat rides is throwing them into larger lands to round up the ride roster. They are not exciting or sexy additions, but they add capacity and flesh out lands. Disney was setting people up for disappointment here by making a splashy announcement and leading fans to believe this would be a major addition, when that was never the plan.
Yeah, I’ve got to say that nothing is better than something, if that something is just going to be a teacup ride. It’s that sort of thinking that got us Primeval Whirl.
“It’s that sort of thinking that got us Primeval Whirl.”
I think that’s a poor comparison.
Animal Kingdom was a blank slate, and could’ve had an incredibly ambitious dinosaur land with big budget attractions, immersive theme, etc. Instead, they prioritized other areas of the park, and the budget was cut for the dinosaur area. But it could’ve been great had different choices been made.
The United Kingdom pavilion is not a blank slate. This attraction would be added to a ~40 year old park, and one with space constraints. If you’re saying they should build something more ambitious on one of the expansion pads instead, I can’t argue with that. But this is pretty much it when it comes to options in the UK.
I can’t do spinner rides anymore but its obviously aimed at kids I suppose – so it b what it b. That being said my kids don’t like spinner rides either so kind of a letdown
honestly, they should just up the Alice in wonderland ip for the UK instead, or more Peter pan. Disney’s live actor works were never great to start with.
honestly they need to make that log flume in Germany work first!
I’d personally love to see the river cruise in Germany or Shinkansen ride in Japan concepts resurrected.
If anything, I think something larger-scale like one of those attractions should be announced and built simultaneous to this. Flat rides are “supporting players,” and making a big deal out of a ride like this was bound to lead to disappointment among fans.
I like the idea of a Cherry Tree Lane, but I do not like the tea cups ride concept. WDW already has a spinning tea cup ride… I understand space is limited, but there has to be a better solution. So, I am not at all upset that it is “cancelled”, however, I hope Cherry Tree Lane is reconsidered when the time is right.
The alternative, as I understand it, was basically this same attraction but with an indoor carousel instead of teacups.
Personally, I think that would’ve been a better fit–but it’s still a ride system in use elsewhere at Walt Disney World.
The carousel! That totally should be the ride! Imagine starting on a circular carousel and then going on a single file track ride like in the movie. Disney, make that happen. We already have the teacups in Epcot — they’re attached to the Cosmic Rewind roller coaster track. [Reaches for antacid just thinking about it.]
I agree, Tom. A carousel would definitely be a better fit, though there is one elsewhere in WDW, like you said. Maybe if they found a way to make it more unique. I had a similar thought to Karyl, but was not sure if there was room to execute.
Could it be that the original plan entailed a sponsor who backed out shortly after Covid hit and Disney hasn’t been able to find a new one yet who has yet financially recovered enough from the pandemic to come forward as a new sponsor?
I see this and all I can think is, I’ll pay whatever you want in park tickets, genie plusses, and dining if it means I get to walk down Cherry Tree Lane someday.
I’m all for IP in Epcot where it fits. Gives kids (and kids at heart) rides in each country so we can do more than just drink around the world.
Coco in Mexico, Norway is covered, Mulan in China, or maybe Raya, Germany finally gets its boat ride, Pick your favorite Grimm (Rapunzel maybe?), Italy: Pinocchio, or maybe Luca, USA: Maybe Muppets? Not sure there is any space though, Japan: Big Hero 6 maybe?, Morocco: Replace the empty back restaurant with Aladdin I guess (they already use this area for meet and greets, France: also already covered, UK: Mary Poppins, and Canada gets Brother Bear (or Turning Red). Make use of all that land that could have been other countries that never will be, and make epcot a two day park like MK.
I don’t disagree.
It’s unlikely that all of that happens (space constraints alone in many countries would preclude it), but even 2-3 well-integrated IPs in World Showcase would be great for bringing better balance.
Good point about the drinking around the world and spinning teacups… not a good mix for sure.
Bring on a dark ride in which you ride on a carousel horse! Up and down motion would be fun. Doesn’t have to be huge… something like Snow White at DL.
On another note, I can’t believe they haven’t made the easy change from 3 Caballeros to Coco in Mexico. I dared to watch 3 Caballeros a few months ago. It’s light years outdated. I dare anyone to watch it.
There’s not enough physical space in the Mexico pavilion for a popular attraction. Even if they removed the gift shops by unload, there would be insufficient space for a queue. It would have to be a permanent virtual queue or do 90/10 Lightning Lane draw rate.
This isn’t just theoretical or speculative on my part. Disney seriously considered the idea a few years ago, but determined it wasn’t feasible.
The three Caballeros is a classic. Get over it!
Speaking entirely theoretically, they could build a Coco attraction due east of the Royal Summerhus if they built the entrance and queue for it outside of the main pyramid – near where Caballero Donald’s meet & greet currently is. That is, if the plan to build something in the Magic Kingdom doesn’t pan out.
Oh how we wish and wish for the Mary Poppins attraction be brought to life! To another commenter, yes agreed, please do this while Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews are still with us! I am certain they would adore knowing this story evolves and lives on! It is such an innocent and treasured story. I can’t even imagine how magical a real live Cherry Tree Lane would be! I will make my next reservations just as soon as it is announced!
In the share holder meeting, it was noted the attraction is not cancelled.
Now there is no reason to not bring back “British Revolution”; they always attracted large crowds whenever they played in the open area in the rear of the UK pavilion.
Agreed. They were great.
Ditto! Love the British Revolution. Enjoyed many an ice cold beverage there. It is a lovely garden, but the space isn’t revenue producing I guess. The street players were also extremely entertaining. That area really suffered during Covid.
I wonder how Cherry Tree Lane would look in a modern setting? I presume that cars would be parked there for a start.To think that the movie was filmed on location in Los Angeles County, not in what’s now Greater London, despite all the English cast.
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One of the best, most workable expansion ideas to ever make an appearance. There is plenty of room for it near the British style pub nearby. No parking for cars inside Epcot, which is fine, given the time period of “Mary Poppins.” I believe this expansion would prove to be VERY popular, and needs to be launched while Dick Van Dyke & Julie Andrews are still alive to give it their imprimatur.