Earlier this year Disney announced that they would be making large cuts to capital expenditures in their parks due to the fallout form the COVID-19 pandemic. This means less money spent on building new attractions and improving old ones. This caused a lot of fans to speculate about the status of attractions and upgrades in all of the parks. To the delight of many, this last month Disney revealed that many big projects at the Disneyland Resort were still moving forward.
Over the next three years southern California’s Disneyland Resort will see two new rides, a new land, a major reimagining of a classic, added shops and restaurants, and numerous upgrades to guest favorites. The parks are currently empty of guests as the state of California and Disney representatives hash out reopening plans, but they are buzzing with on going construction and refurbishments.
Over the next few years the Disneyland Resort will add two new rides, one in each of their parks. Disneyland will receive Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, while Disney California Adventure will be home to WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure. Let’s take a closer look at these two attractions.
MICKEY AND MINNIE’S RUNAWAY RAILWAY
Mickey and Minnie will finally have their own ride! That is right, after all of these years, the lovable duo has never had a ride themed specifically to them. This attraction is expected to open in 2023 and is currently under construction. The ride will be located in Mickey’s Toontown at the back of the Disneyland park. It had been reported earlier this year that Toontown would see a much-needed facelift leading up to the opening of the ride, it is unclear if any of those plans were scrapped during covid related cost cutting.
A clone of this ride opened in March at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. It was met with rave reviews from fans of all ages. Disney has stated that there will be some details that will make the Disneyland ride unique, but the majority of the attraction is expected to be the same.
The attraction will be a trackless dark ride, using – what Disney calls – 2 1/2 D technology. There will be no special glasses or headwear required. The action will rake place in front of you using projection mapping along with practical effects. There is no height requirement, allowing all ages to join in the fun.
While Florida’s version has you enter their Chinese Theatre, the Disneyland version takes place at the El CapiTOON theater, where Mickey and Minnie will be premiering their newest short, “Perfect Picnic.” With Goofy conducting the train that you ride in, chaos is sure to ensue. The queue will feature a special exhibit presented by the Toontown Hysterical Society.
Prior to Disneyland’s March 2020 closure the construction had begun with the clearing of a large office complex behind Toontown. The area was leveled down to the dirt. This site sat quiet for much of the summer as California implemented mandatory lockdown procedures. In early September we received photos from Disney showing that construction has picked back up with the show building going vertical. In the past month the construction has picked up speed and three large floors had been built. The ride was originally planned for 2022, but has been pushed to 2023.
WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure
We covered a lot of details regarding this ride in our detailed look at Avengers Campus last week, but there are some details worth repeating.
WEBSLINGERS is expected to open in 2021 and will be located in Avengers Campus in Disney California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort. The ride will be themed to Spider-Man and will be interactive. Utilizing brand new technology, guests will use their wrists to shoot a virtual web to collect Spider-Bots that have run amok around Avengers Campus.
The ride will be the first Disney ride to feature Spider-Man and will anchor the Marvel themed Avengers Campus. The land and ride were expected to open July 2020, but has been postponed due to the Covid-19 park closures. The reopening date is unknown, but it is expected to see a 2021 opening date.
OVERHAULS & REIMAGINING
A number of classic Disneyland attractions will see major changes coming soon. One major change to a classic from late ‘80s and another change to an opening day favorite from 1955.
Over the summer, Disney shook the theme park world when they announced they were completely reimagining and re-theming the fan favorite, Splash Mountain. It was revealed that the water ride’s theme and story would change from the VERY problematic and racially insensitive Disney film Song of the South, to the 2009 Disney animated hit, Princess and the Frog. The movie, which is set in New Orleans, is an important (and long overdue) milestone as it featured Disney’s first Black Princess, Tiana.
Both Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s versions of Splash Mountain will be changed. Disney stated that the change of theme had been in the planning stages for the past year. While civil unrest reached a boiling point across the United States this summer, among Disney Parks fans, the unease surrounding the original Splash Mountain’s source material has been around for years, if not decades. Like most big decisions, the news divided fans of Disney Parks, but even those who opposed the change could admit Song of the South was a problem.
While describing the new theme Disney stated:
“We pick up this story after the final kiss, and join Princess Tiana and Louis on a musical adventure – featuring some of the powerful music from the film – as they prepare for their first-ever Mardi Gras performance.”Disney Parks Blog
The ride system and layout will remain the same. Since the mountain was made out of concrete to better withstand the pressure from constantly running water, the core structure of the mountain is not easily changeable.
There is no date announced for the re-theme, however, the original Splash Mountain is expected to reopen when Disneyland reopens. This will allow Splash Mountain purists to get to say goodbye properly before the upgrade.
SNOW WHITE’S SCARY ADVENTURES
One of Disneyland’s original opening day rides was the Fantasyland favorite, Snow White and her Adventures. In 1983, Fantasyland got a major refurbishment and the Snow White themed ride got a new name, Snow White’s Scary Adventures. The primary reason was simple, the ride kept scaring kids! Imagineers figured if they added the word “Scary” in the title guests would know what they were getting themselves into. While the name changed helped a little bit, it has continued to spark the thought “that as a little more intense than I expected” from the braver guests and screams and cries from the rest, for nearly 65 years.
Disney announced in late 2019 that they were planning an overhaul to the Snow White ride in the first half of 2020. The announced changes did not remove the scarier elements such as the haunted forest and numerous sightings of the Witch offering guests poison apples, however it did change the frenetic-to-the-point-of-seeming-unresolved ending. For six decades the ride ended abruptly when the Witch was struck by lightning while attempting to crush the dwarfs with a large boulder. The effect was so quick that many would leave the ride confused and unsure the fate of the Witch, Snow White, or the Seven Dwarfs. This refurb aims to fix that confusion.
The Imagineers will be enhancing familiar scenes in the ride with new technology to help bring them to life. The problematic ending will also be taken care of, as Disney explained:
“… a new vignette will show Snow White in a beautiful forest setting waking up from her deep sleep. Also, the attraction will conclude when Snow White is reunited with her animal friends and a shimmering castle is seen in the distance.”Disney Parks Blog
The ride was shut down for refurbishment in early 2020, due to the construction delays from the Covid-19 pandemic, there is no date announced for the completion of these changes.
NEW LAND, NEW SHOPS, UPGRADES, ETC.
While those are the large projects currently moving forward at the Disneyland resort, there are other changes, additions, and upgrades happening around the park. Many of these projects began before the parks closed in March and others started during the lockdown.
The largest is the aforementioned Avengers Campus in Disney California Adventure. This Marvel themed land will be home to a new ride, new shop, new restaurant, a stunt show, and an outdoor interactive experience with Doctor Strange. I did an entire write up on this land last week. There was a planned second attraction (third if you count Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! to the count) coming in Phase 2 of this new land, but since the ride, prior to Covid-19, was already planned for a much later opening date, the pandemic budget cuts calls into question if the ride will ever be built. We will keep an eye on that project and update the site with the latest information.
The Frontierland sign coming into Frontierland from the central Hub has been replaced with a larger sign. This project occurred during the shutdown and has been monitored from aerial photos.
Both the Haunted Mansion and Indiana Jones Adventure have had some major refurbishments completed since March. These upgrades had been planned for awhile and seem to affect mostly unseen aspects of the ride. This includes updating track layout, projections, and general upkeep that these large rides require.
It is also worth noting that the massive ride, Rise of the Resistance will also open when Disneyland reopens. This is the huge E-Ticket attraction located in Galaxy’s Edge, the Star Wars themed land that opened the summer of 2019. Since this ride only opened in mid-January 2020, it operated for less than two months before the shut down. This ride has been a smashing success and is considered by many the greatest ride Disney, or any other theme park, has created. Many guests who travel from out of town hadn’t had a chance to experience the ride before the parks closed. So, for many, the ride will be new once things open back up.
Several facades and show buildings received fresh paint and planters have been changed during this shut down. The view from the locked gates at both of the entrances show two parks ready to reopen and bring much needed light and magic back to an eager public.
The DisInsider will be covering these new projects closely and will keep everyone updated as soon as new information is available. Keep checking back for all of your Disney needs.
Photos and Concept Art courtesy of Disney