Disney Is Keeping Secrets — This Might Be WHY

We heard a ton of big news at this year’s D23 Expo, including an opening timeline for TRON: Lightcycle Run, a possible expansion for Magic Kingdom, and a potential overhaul of DinoLand U.S.A. in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. But there was one very important thing MISSING from most of Disney’s announcements.

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D23 Expo 2022

Although we heard about lots of general plans and potential projects, Disney shied away from giving any concrete, specific dates. Even for projects that are happening now and seem to be close to completion, we got very few specific details. So why all the secrecy? Does Disney not have concrete plans in place, or are they just holding back? 

We have a few ideas about why Disney might have avoided any concrete details about upcoming plans, the first of which has to do with the COVID-19 pandemic.

They Learned Their Lesson During the Pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, it launched the world into an unprecedented time of uncertainty. Many people had to stay home from work, construction projects came to a grinding halt, and the Disney theme parks shut down. A lot of Disney’s projects likely went from moving along quickly to not progressing at all.

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Hey…where is everybody?

It’s possible that, like many people did during the pandemic, Disney learned the hard way that anything can happen — factors that are beyond anyone’s control can suddenly throw major obstacles in the way of even the best-laid plans. With that in mind, it makes sense to be a bit more cautious when it comes to setting concrete plans.

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COVID-19 Health and Safety Sign

Travelers are feeling this way — according to The New York Times, more people are purchasing travelers’ insurance now than before the pandemic. Now that we’ve all experienced having our plans and normal schedule disrupted to an extreme degree, we’re more likely to be careful about the future.

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Air travel

While Disney is likely not expecting another disaster of that scale, they may simply be warier now than they were before. Making fewer promises about the future allows more flexibility for the projects that are currently in the works. That way, if fate suddenly throws a wrench in the plans, Disney may not have to officially postpone the end of a project because they never announced the end date in the first place.

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Construction in EPCOT

It seems like Disney would rather surprise us with opening dates when they’re absolutely sure about them rather than make promises that might become difficult to keep later on. That may have been what happened with the giant Hulk meet-and-greet announced for Disneyland. Disney has been working on new character meet-and-greet technology for a long time now, but when they finally introduced a character that seems to actually use that technology in the parks, they only gave us about a 1-week notice before he’s supposed to appear at Avengers Campus.

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Hulk

As we approach the final few months of 2022, it’s becoming more and more likely that we’ll have the same experience with the return of Fantasmic! in Disney World. We’ve learned that Cast Member rehearsals have begun, but Disney hasn’t given any notice about when the show will actually return this year. That Cast Member rehearsal announcement cleverly got us excited for the return and made us feel like it’s close without actually promising any specific opening date. We have heard that it will be back in 2022, though, so it could be any day now!

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Fantasmic! signs

Vague plans and non-specific opening timelines give Disney the wiggle room to adjust for any surprises that pop up during the projects they’re working on. Many people are a little more careful now than they were before 2020, and it makes sense for Disney to feel the same way.

How is the COVID-19 pandemic still affecting Disney World? Find out here.

They Have Too Many Ideas and Not Enough Plans

Another possible product of the pandemic besides an increase in caution is a backlog of ideas and a shortage of projects that are in the final stages. Imagineers and executives may have had nothing to do for a few months in 2020 except brainstorm, plan, and think. It’s possible that all of the ideas that came out of those conceptually productive (but practically stagnant) months created a backlog on Disney’s pipeline of projects.

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That’s a Bunch of Stuff!

Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of the Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products, referenced the “Blue Sky” stage at the D23 Expo. This is the stage of concepts and ideas in Disney Imagineering. An idea is in this stage if it’s been proposed and discussed but not actually set in stone as a new project.

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A Villains-themed land

We seemed to hear about a lot of these Blue Sky ideas, and it might simply be because Disney has so many of them floating around right now. They wanted to share some updates with the D23 fans, so they plucked a few out of the brainstorming process to present at the Expo.

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WOW!

Along with an excess of ideas, Disney may also have a shortage of projects that are really ready to be completed. They needed some big announcements, but a lot of the projects that are in the works currently were announced a long time ago, delayed, and then continued. In other words, they’re old news.

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We’ve known about TRON for a long time now.

The timing might have just worked out that right now Disney has lots of ideas and lots of “old” projects but not very many new projects that were solid enough to have a concrete timeline. It was exciting to get an opening timeline for the upcoming Moana attraction in EPCOT, but we’ve known that attraction was coming for a long time. If Disney wanted to give us some NEW news, their only option might have been these Blue Sky projects.

Check out what fans WANTED to hear at the D23 Expo but DIDN’T.

They Have a SECRET

This is the most intriguing possibility for why Disney is being so tight-lipped about the future — do they have a SECRET?? 

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What’s your secret, Disney?

We think this actually could be a very real possibility, mainly because Universal Orlando has revealed big plans for a third theme park (fourth if you count Volcano Bay): Epic Universe. When it was announced that Universal was first going to build a theme park in Florida, Disney spared no expense to beat their rivals to the punch and opened their own exciting new park — that’s why we now have Disney’s Hollywood Studios (previously called Disney-MGM Studios).

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Hollywood Studios

Later on, when Universal opened the new Harry Potter world, Disney responded in a big way with Pandora: The World of Avatar in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. (Does Avatar really compete with Harry Potter from a franchise perspective? …Maybe not, but the ride that Disney built for the land with exciting, new technology certainly provided a major draw for fans.)

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Pandora in Animal Kingdom

So here we are, with another huge project in the works at Universal. If history is any indication, we’d be willing to bet that Disney has an ace up their sleeve that they’re just waiting to play at the right time. Could that be a 5th park? Or maybe that Magic Kingdom expansion is going to happen sooner than we think? We’ll have to wait and see.

Could Disney World build a 5th park? Here’s why it’s not likely.

They Want to Spread Out Visitors in the Parks

Disney CEO Bob Chapek has been very clear that Disney is trying to spread out guest attendance in the theme parks. The main way they’re doing that now is with the Park Pass Reservation system. That system allows Disney to control how many people are in each theme park at any given time.

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Magic Kingdom entrance

However, another possible way to control attendance is to spread out big announcements. If Disney is actively trying to prevent huge surges and dips in attendance at the parks, it’s a good idea to NOT announce the opening dates for major new attractions or expansions too far in advance.

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Crowds in Magic Kingdom

If Disney were to announce that the Magic Kingdom expansion is going to happen in 2025 (they didn’t — this is hypothetical), then a lot of people would likely plan their vacations for 2025. They may hold off on visiting until they know that the new lands will be open when they go. Then, when the lands open, the theme parks will get a huge surge in visitors with all the people who’d planned to visit arriving at the same time.

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Possible Land Expansion in Magic Kingdom

However, since people don’t know when those new lands might open (or even if they’ll open at all), they’re more likely to book a Disney World trip sooner than 2025. Then, they’ll probably go again once the new lands actually are built.

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Crowds in Disney World

When Disney announces specific opening dates, Disney fans flock to the parks by the thousands on those dates. Remember the first day of the 50th Anniversary celebrations? The crowds were WILD. By announcing the opening dates later, it’s possible that fewer people will be able to plan to be in the parks on that day. Instead, they’ll have to visit later, which spreads out the attendance.

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People, people everywhere

If Disney simply waits to make an announcement until a few weeks before something will open, they run a much lower risk that everyone will be able to visit on that exact day.

Learn more about Disney’s Park Pass Reservation system here.

They’re Looking for Social Media Reactions to Guide Next Moves

In the current age of social media, Disney gets a LOT more feedback from fans, and they get that feedback faster than ever. While this may not always work to Disney’s advantage, it seems like they might be trying to mold that reality into a tool. They may be trying to take advantage of the instant response by using it to gauge audience reactions before finalizing too many plans.

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Social Media Patches

For example, we heard tentative plans that Zootopia– and Moana-themed areas might replace DinoLand U.S.A. in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. All we got with this announcement was a “Blue Sky” disclaimer and some tentative concept art. Maybe Disney is now monitoring the online response in order to discover what people think of the re-theme before they move forward with the plans.

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Animal Kingdom

This way, Disney doesn’t invest too much in an idea before they know how it will likely be received once the project is completed. They don’t necessarily need to hold focus groups and send out surveys — all it takes is a single social media post, and they’ll get millions of responses within a short amount of time.

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Disney can learn from social media

This may have been what happened just this week with the announcements about some release dates for upcoming Disney movies. During the D23 Expo, Disney announced release timelines for Inside Out 2 and Mufasa: The Lion King. However, they didn’t give specific release dates at that time.

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©Disney

Then, less than a week later, those release dates were announced, with Inside Out 2 premiering on June 14th, 2024, and Mufasa on July 5th, 2024. What’s interesting about that is that Despicable Me 4 is slated to open right around that time, on July 3rd, 2024.

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©Disney

Is it really likely that Disney didn’t know the release dates just a few days earlier? It seems more likely that Disney was waiting to evaluate audience reaction and see if their movies would be popular enough to compete with rival Universal. (If this is the case, they’re apparently confident in the films.)

 Check out more release dates for Disney’s upcoming movies here.

Whatever the reason, it looks like we’ll be in for a lot of surprises in the next few years. We’re still waiting on a few new and returning things that Disney has promised will open in 2022, like Fantasmic! and the Roundup Rodeo BBQ restaurant in Toy Story Land. There are only a few months left in the year, so we’re expecting to hear more news very soon.

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Scaffolding at Roundup Rodeo BBQ

Want to learn more about what Disney announced at the D23 Expo? You can find ALL the announcements right here in our ultimate guide. And for a closer look at some of Disney’s upcoming projects, check out our in-depth analysis of the possible Magic Kingdom expansion, the DinoLand U.S.A. re-theme, and Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

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Model of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at the 2022 D23 Expo

Keep following DFB for more Disney World news!

Click here to see 5 BIG news drops that were overshadowed at the D23 Expo.

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What announcement from the D23 Expo are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments.

The post Disney Is Keeping Secrets — This Might Be WHY first appeared on the disney food blog.

source https://www.disneyfoodblog.com/2022/09/19/disney-is-keeping-secrets-this-might-be-why/

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