Originally published in Theme Park Tourist Saturday, December 10, 2016 06:09
Though construction is going strong at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on both the Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land projects, Pandora: The World of Avatar is less than a year away from opening at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Epcot has been confirmed to be on the cusp of a new renaissance (at least in Future World), one park that has always had a reputation for consistency throughout the years is the Magic Kingdom.
However, even at Walt Disney World’s original theme park, change seems to be in the air, with a cancelled upcharge experience making a re-appearance after nearly a year, a cutback confirmed to be happening in Fantasyland, plus the reported downsizing of a promising project that we might not ever be able to see now. Here’s everything you need to know that is happening now at the world’s most-attended theme park.
1. Disney After Hours will make a return appearance in 2017 at a lower price point
One of the biggest failures of 2016 was the Disney After Hours event, which was priced at $149 per person when it launched last Spring, and allowed guests to continue to experience select attractions at the Magic Kingdom after the park closed to regular guests (sort of like a paid Extra Magic Hours).
However, this event proved to be quite unpopular, and Disney actually had to resort to giving tickets away for free to on-property hotel guests and Disney Vacation Club Members on event days just to get a few hundred guests to attend this upcharge experience on the days it was offered. Though Disney After Hours was available for several weeks after its initial announcement, it quickly faded into obscurity come June and many assumed we would never hear about this event again.
However, it looks like Disney is trying to make Disney After Hours work once again, but this time with a lower price point. Beginning early next year, a ticket for this event will cost $119 plus tax for ages 3 and above, $30 less than its original price point. Like before, event attendees can enter the park at 7:00 PM and then stay until three hours past the scheduled park closing, all while enjoying unlimited complimentary ice cream novelties, popcorn, and soft drinks. Here are the dates in early 2017 that this event is scheduled to take place:
- January 20 and 27
- February 2, 9 and 16
- March 2 and 9
Though this development was definitely unexpected, perhaps the return of Disney After Hours to the Magic Kingdom isn’t all that surprising considering the current upcharge climate at the Magic Kingdom, which has seen the introduction of $700 rental tents in Tomorrowland, $50 upcharge dessert parties that include obstructed views of the Festival of Fantasy parade, and a “premium” travel option that allows guests to pay more to travel faster between Walt Disney World theme parks using backstage busses all over the past few weeks.
While up-charge experiences have always been an option at Walt Disney World, it seems like these types of premium experiences are becoming more and more common, especially at the Magic Kingdom. And unfortunately, alongside these new up-charge options, there have also been a few cutbacks at this park as well…
2. New Fantasyland attraction Enchanted Tales With Belle is no longer available for early Extra Magic Hours
Effective December 11, the Enchanted Tales with Belle attraction at the Magic Kingdom will no longer be a part of morning Extra Magic Hours. Interestingly, this attraction was also removed from evening Extra Magic Hours back in November 2015, and is also not available during the Disney After Hours event mentioned previously, meaning that guests who want to experience this fun little show are only now able to do so during the Magic Kingdom’s regular operating hours.
This most recent change follows several other cutbacks at the Magic Kingdom that already took place earlier this year, which included the removal of almost a half a dozen characters as well as some other in-park entertainment options. And speaking of budget cuts…
RUMOR: Proposed Wreck-it Ralph attraction reportedly hits a speedbump due to budget cuts
Earlier this year, when it was announced that the much-maligned Stitch’s Great Escape attractions would be moving to seasonal operation before an eventual 2017 closure, well-sourced rumors surfaced online that indicated that Disney was planning to demolish this attraction for good next year to make way for a VR simulation-style attraction based on Wreck-it Ralph’s in-film game Sugar Rush. However, it looks like these plans may have stalled and could be on their way to outright cancellation.
According to inside sources, budget concerns are again to blame as Disney looks at how they want to develop this space, and their original plans for a Wreck-It Ralph attraction may be either downsized or scrapped altogether in order to make the numbers work for 2017 and beyond. However, if you think this development is going to give Stitch a reprieve, you’d sadly be mistaken.
Though Disney is still planning to open Stitch’s Great Escape for a limited time during the upcoming holiday season, there are no indications that this attraction will ever open again after January 2, 2017, making this potentially yet another attraction that Disney will have left standing but not operating with no concrete plans for replacement. While nothing has been confirmed yet about the future of this particular corner of Tomorrowland, Disney’s silence on the matter certainly isn’t an encouraging sign. Still, we remain hopeful that something will be done with this space in the near future, as it would be a shame to let such a prime part of Tomorrowland go to waste in the wake of this (admittedly, not terribly loved) attraction’s upcoming permanent closure.
How do you feel about these confirmed and rumored changes at the Magic Kingdom? Are there any improvements that you would like to see come to this park in the near future?
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