According to Orlando Weekly’s Ken Storey, Walt Disney World is being forced to rework its plans for the 50th anniversary of the resort, alongside its foreseeable future.
Earlier this month, Disney filed permits for “Project Nugget”. The permits are for some infrastructure projects that were put on hold earlier this year, which in themselves indicate wider implications.
YouTube channel Mickey Views is known for its early reporting on various construction projects across Disney World. Channel host and founder Brayden Holness explains that Disney only gives bigger projects code names. With that in mind, Project Nugget points to something much more extensive than simply basic infrastructure construction.
“Project Nugget is the catch-all codename for Walt Disney’s World’s 50th-anniversary developments. Hinting at the golden anniversary, it joins a myriad of other project codenames Disney’s recently used, including Project Gamma (EPCOT Overhaul), Project Kappa (Harmonious nighttime spectacular), and Project Marceline (Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway).”
There have been differing reports from various insiders on what exactly Disney has in the works. This is due in part to the short-term thinking that is required during these exceptional times. Numerous projects are still very much in limbo thanks to the current climate and the subsequent economic slowdown. There have been numerous leadership changes, which has led to more misunderstanding within the rumour tracking fan community.
Instead of launching the 50th Anniversary early next year, Disney now looks to be pushing it back to October 1st, the exact anniversary date. The celebration would then last 15 months, which Disney usually uses for an anniversary, meaning it wouldn’t end until late 2022. By October 2021, it’s fair to assume there should be some significant progress being made regarding COVID-19, with the economy hopefully starting to recover by then.
Across Disney World, a number of the schemes that will be used in promoting the 50th anniversary are projects that are already in the works. Reportedly, the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction at Epcot is on hold due to issues with getting the actors from the films to do the scenes for the attraction. According to insider Jim Hill, a day of production on the set of the new Guardians of the Galaxy film was to be set aside for the scenes that are intended to feature in the ride; however, just like the rest of Hollywood, the production was postponed due to the global pandemic.
Director James Gunn revealed earlier this month that the next Guardians film is still set to be released in 2022, meaning that production must continue soon. Once filming restarts, the scenes needed for the attraction can be quickly filmed and added to the ride. This may give the forthcoming attraction a late 2021, early 2022 opening date.
Other Epcot projects that will be used in the marketing of the 50th anniversary include the forthcoming Ratatouille ride, the Play Pavilion, and the new nighttime spectacular, Harmonious. Other park projects, like the multi-level Festival Centre, would likely be delayed until “mid-decade”, at the earliest. Some projects, like the Mary Poppins attraction, now appear to be cancelled completely.
Delays in other projects suggest that they won’t open in time for the October 1st anniversary. As an alternative, Disney may use the 50th anniversary as a time to roll out new offerings every few months. Magic Kingdom’s forthcoming TRON roller coaster appears to be slightly behind schedule, meaning that the ride may have been included in the post 1st October rollout for 2021.
All-new nighttime shows for Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom may also be added sometime during the 15 month-long celebration. The kites which are currently being used in the temporary Epcot Forever nighttime show are apparently more of a hit than Disney had anticipated. According to Holness, the kites may be used in an additional nighttime show at Animal Kingdom. According to others with a knowledge of Disney’s plans, this new show shouldn’t be viewed as a Rivers of Light replacement because there will be some time before it debuts.
Also debuting during the 50th Anniversary celebration will be the Star Wars hotel, Star Wars: Galactic Stracruiser. Just like other projects, this one is already well underway, so in our opinion, the best option is to continue forward with it. Other new hotel offerings, such as Reflections and other planned hotels, all appear to be on indefinite hold as the House of Mouse looks towards more reliable economic forecasts.
Disney appear to be “hedging their bets” that, by the end of 2021, people will once again be interested in travelling; of course, the company is still cautious about spending significant amounts of money on new hotels or attractions. Instead, this scaled back anniversary celebration will see many smaller upgrades that have been needed for some time, along with the other big-budget projects already underway. With just 399 days left until the 50th Anniversary, Disney must act now if it wants to ensure this anniversary is not forgotten. Even with the current pandemic in mind, 399 days still appears to be like a distant dream. Like every aspect of life currently, Disney World’s future is still very uncertain.
In conclusion, as Holness observes,
“2020 has brought the same precariousness to the Disney Parks that it has brought to the rest of the world. It’s hard to tell, especially now, what Disney will deem worthy of spending money on.”
H/T Orlando Weekly