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With all the major theme parks, including Walt Disney World, Disneyland and both domestic Universal parks, closed for business, a lot of vacations were put on hold and fun times that were planned have been delayed, if not entirely cancelled. Needless to say that in times like these, a lot of us could probably use a theme park vacation, so not even knowing when one might be possible again is depressing.
Of course, if you're a serious theme park person, looking forward to the future is nothing new. In fact, it's pretty much standard operating procedure. Even with major attractions opening in the last year, like Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge and Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, Disney and Universal were already planning for the next big thing. Unfortunately, because the massive shutdown of the parks has also impacted the construction of new and refurbished attractions, it means we'll likely be waiting even longer for some of the things we've been looking forward to, assuming we see them at all. Here's are the major items that are likely delayed, and one that perhaps won't be.
Following the opening of Star Wars; Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland last year, Disney California Adventure was set to get some love in 2021 with the opening of Disney's first Marvel-themed area in a domestic park. Avengers Campus is set to include a Spider-Man-themed attraction, a Doctor Strange Sanctum walk-through experience and a live stunt show that will take place on the rooftops of the buildings surrounding the new land. It's the biggest new addition planned in 2020, but now one has to wonder if we'll really see it when it was announced.
Avengers Campus was given an official opening date of July 18, but that announcement came literally the day before it was announced that Disneyland would be closing. With construction having stopped entirely, and no idea at this point when it might start up again, it feels like it will require a lot of work to hit that date. It's possible that the July 18 date was announced with some cushion built in to plan for possible delays, but it feels unlikely that a delay of quite this size was planned for.
The Haunted Mansion(s)
No matter which Disney park you're visiting, The Haunted Mansion, or its equivalent, is one of, if not the single most popular attraction in the park. It might not always have the longest lines, but it's one of those things that everybody needs to see on any trip to the parks. In January, Disneyland's Haunted Mansion went down for its scheduled removal of all things The Nightmare Before Christmas, but along with that, it was announced the ride would be undergoing a major refurbishment, with plans not to reopen until sometime in the spring.
Over at Walt Disney World, The Haunted Mansion had been having some issues of its own. The attraction went down for four days in early March that were not previously scheduled. And then, a couple of days after that, the attraction went down again for an extended period. A situation like now would, under other circumstances, be perfect to iron out whatever bugs were gumming up the works. It's possible the ride was already back in top shape, but there may be more work that needs to be done.
The Secret Life Of Pets: Off the Leash
With most of these attractions, we don't really know how the park closures are impacting opening. Delays are certainly possible, even likely, but they might not be necessary in all cases. However. in one case, we know the closure is causing a delay, because if Universal Studios Hollywood was open, The Secret Life of Pets: Off The Leash would be up and running by now. The attraction was scheduled to open March 27, and it obviously missed that date.
As of this writing, Universal Studios Hollywood is officially closed through at least April 19. If we assume the best case scenario, that the park will reopen on April 20. The question is, will the ride be there when it does? The ride was only a couple weeks from opening when the park closed, and it's possible some work even continued after the official closure. Either way, one assumes this one will open a couple weeks after the park does, if not sooner.
Basically Half Of Epcot
If there's a construction project currently ongoing at a Disney Park that dwarfs Avengers Campus, it's what's going on in Epcot right now at Walt Disney World. Just about the entirety of the front half of the park, everything currently known as Future World, is undergoing major renovations. There's a Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster being built, a new Moana walk-through experience, an entirely new entrance plaza and even a new space themed restaurant that is set to open. There's also a Ratatouille attraction being built into the France Pavilion at World Showcase
On the plus side, few of these new additions were expected to open before 2021, the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World, and none of them had any specific release dates announced, so it's quite possible that, even if these attractions miss the date Walt Disney World is currently projecting internally, there's a good chance we'll never know. As long as they show up in the ballpark, everything will be fine.
Snow White's Scary Adventures
All the Fantasyland dark rides are popular among both the youngest park fans, and those that feel young at heart. One of those attractions, Snow White's Scary Adventures, closed down in January for a major refurbishment that wouldn't simply be the standard cleaning and repair, but something that would actually add new show scenes and update the technology on the ride that's only seen one other major refurbishment since it opened with the park in 1955.
Considering this was going to be a major update to the attraction, no reopening date was announced. A spring date or early summer at the latest, was probably the goal, but with the park now at least two weeks behind schedule, that might not be possible anymore. Now let's cap off with the theme park project that hasn't been delayed... yet.
There's a lot that isn't happening right now on the theme park front, and for obvious reasons, but interestingly, the biggest current project of them all is reportedly still moving forward. Universal Orlando's fourth gate, Epic Universe, is, according to the company, still moving forward. Universal states that all appropriate protocols are being followed, but the massive new park, which is scheduled to open in 2023, apparently isn't slowing down even a little bit, though that can always change.
On the one hand, because Epic Universe is so far out, it has the most time to catch up. At the same time, because of the scope of the project, even a small delay could potentially have massive repercussions down the road. Whatever else happens, it looks like Epic Universe is still planning to open in 2023.
For most of these projects, the park closures are nothing more than a minor inconvenience, and the refurbishments will be completed, even if they happen late. For some of the larger projects, however, one wonders if, when things get back on track, it will simply be business as usual. Following the financial loses the parks have seen due to the closure, and what's expected to come due to the recession most think we're about to get into, one has to wonder if all of these projects will be completed as planned, or if some might see changes of scale.
Hopefully, all these currently-in-process attractions will be completed as expected, even if they arrive a little late. Once they are, eyes of fans will once again turn to the future and what comes next, though that is another question entirely.