In this edition of Theme Park Bits:
- Epcot’s updated fountain has been revealed.
- Disneyland is offering a sneak peek to an extensive overhaul of its Snow White dark ride.
- And more!
Just because we’re in the middle of a global pandemic (squarely in the middle of Month 10!) doesn’t mean that the Disney Parks are laying dormant. Over in Orlando, Walt Disney World continues to progress through various construction projects, with Epcot being the center of a lot of the updates. You can see the result of one of those updates in the photo above this paragraph. If you’re not enough of an aficionado, you may not fully appreciate the delight and charm of this revised fountain at the front of Epcot, with Spaceship Earth directly behind it. The Disney Parks Blog wrote about the transformation of the entrance plaza. There’s plenty more work to do, but this is a very impressive start. There are times when I’ll ding Disney over its theme-park updates, but this fountain is not one of those times.
The paragraph you’re reading now? …Well, this is going to be one of those times when I ding Disney. While the updates in Orlando are beautiful to see, and envy-inspiring, the same can’t quite be said for what’s going on in Anaheim. Though Disneyland Park remains closed, that hasn’t stopped Imagineers to go whole hog on revising one of the best attractions in Fantasyland, Snow White’s Scary Adventures. Don’t get too attached to that name, because it’s going away soon, to be replaced with Snow White’s Enchanted Wish. As the video in that article notes, the overall bones of the dark ride at the front of Fantasyland have been in place since 1983.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to update an attraction that’s pushing 40, but the ways in which the ride are purportedly going to be revised, leaning more into screen projections and frolicking with the Seven Dwarfs are disconcerting. Really, it’s as simple as noting that the new ride name doesn’t have the word “scary”. It may be easy to express concern that Disney rides could be too scary for children. Having said that, two quick points. First, Disney’s animated films are nothing if not terrifying. Have you ever seen Snow White? Or Sleeping Beauty? Or Pinocchio? Or…well, the list goes on. It’s weird and dismissive to presume that the sources for these rides don’t have fear in their bones. Secondly, attractions like Snow White’s Scary Adventure are enjoyable precisely because they offer kid-friendly scares through sneaky, often cost-effective measures. How much of the ride’s section through a grim forest with nasty-looking trees is scary simply because the lights are off? I digress. With the park closed, it’s impossible to know now what Snow White’s Enchanted Wish will look like once it’s finished. But this tease is less exciting than intended.
Moving back to Orlando, there’s changes coming to Disney Springs. Specifically, there’s going to be yet another mode of transport available in the Walt Disney World Resort, as a new train station is set to arrive in 2022. The Brightside train station would have stops direct to and from the Orlando International Airport and Disney Springs, enabling guests to travel to and from the resort aside from just a rental car or Disney’s Magical Express. (That said, don’t forget: Disney’s Magical Express is one of the few free things at Walt Disney World, so it’s one small expense you don’t have to worry about – as long as you’re staying on property.) At the very least, more options for public transportation is always a cause for celebration, so fingers crossed that the project completes on schedule.
Speaking of schedules, it’s hard to imagine March of 2021 at this point, but it’s fast approaching. If you are in the Orlando area this spring, and you’re planning to go to the Walt Disney World Resort, you may be in luck: at the moment, Blizzard Beach is slated to reopen on March 7. Putting it lightly, going to a water park (even more than just visiting a theme park) seems like it’s kind of asking for trouble. However, it’s been nigh impossible to trace any serious outbreaks of COVID-19 to the Walt Disney World Resort since it reopened over the summer, which is unquestionably good news. Hopefully the streak continues once Blizzard Beach lets guests back in.
Over the last few months, Epcot has seen some changes to one of its World Showcase pavilions that’s less that encouraging, at least to anyone with a strong enough memory of said pavilion. That would be the Morocco pavilion, which Blog Mickey has noticed continues to go through some further renovations that only serve to rob the pavilion of its distinctive charm. Though the addition of a pop-up bar in the outdoor section of the closed Tangierine Cafe makes sense – outdoor dining is clearly the way of the future – taking down signage only adds to the sense that the Morocco pavilion will further shift since it’s now fully owned by Disney (unlike many World Showcase pavilions).
We end today on a somewhat grim note, though you could call it a footnote if you’re among the unaffected. I’m referring to the news of Disney layoffs, which were first announced a few months ago. Recently, it was revealed that instead of just 28,000 Cast Members losing their jobs, it’ll be 32,000 come this March. To be clear, not that it means a whole lot, this isn’t an additional 32,000 – it’s just 4,000 more than originally expected. Some of these job cuts have already occurred, but it’s the kind of loss that’s incalculable even in light of exciting (and less-than-exciting) changes to the parks. Remember, if you can give to Cast Members in need, you should.
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