It's always been the case that the Disney Parks are always changing, but even though Walt Disney World is now open to the public, though a smaller percentage of that public, we're seeing a larger than usual wave of change overtaking the resort. First, came the confirmation that two announced attractions at Epcot, a redesigned Spaceship Earth and a new Mary Poppins attraction, were now postponed. Now, Walt Disney World has confirmed that three current attractions have permanently closed. Primeval Whirl and Rivers of Light at Disney's Animal Kingdom are gone, as is Stitch's Great Escape, at Magic Kingdom, officially ending the life of what may be the worst attraction in the park's history.
The death of Stitch's Great Escape is no shock to those that follow the comings and goings of Walt Disney World. The ride had been on a "seasonal" status, meaning it would only operate when the park was at its busiest, for some time. Rumors of its replacement have been going around for a while now, and according to some reports, the ride was already being dismantled. Still, no official word had come from Walt Disney World about the ride's fate until now.
Stitch's Great Escape replaced the somewhat controversial ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter in 2004 but from the get-go the ride was not embraced by fans. The ride hasn't operated regularly since early 2018.
Animal Kingdom's Primeval Whirl had also been on the "seasonal" list before now, so news of its death is also not a surprise. The most unique thing about that attraction was that it wasn't unique at all. Unlike most Disney Park attractions, Primeval Whirl was an "off the shelf" coaster, the "wild mouse" design, that can be found at dozens of theme parks around the world. Some here at CinemaBlend found the ride to be even worse than Stitch's Great Escape, as it was literally painful due to constant spinning that could make you dizzy to the point of vomitous and the ride vehicles slammed into corners so hard you could potentially walk away with bruises.
Which is not to stay that the recent closure announcements, via My13 in Orlando, don't include some actual bad news. The end of Animal Kingdom's Rivers of Light nighttime spectacular is unexpected and the show had a lot more fans, so people are certainly sad to see it go. The show was already on hold as none of the nighttime shows that draw large crowds are taking place due to the need for social distancing, but whenever the rest of the shows come back, Rivers of Light will not.
Rivers of Light certainly lacked the "wow factor" of a Disney fireworks show and the high energy of something like Fantasmic, but the show was no less impressive for its use of shadow and light with projected images.
Nothing has been officially announced to replace any of these closed attractions, though a Wreck-It Ralph themed attraction has been the main rumor surrounding the future of the Stitch's Great Escape space.
With Walt Disney World, and Disney Parks in general still in recovery mode following the months-long closure, it's certainly likely these won't be the only major park changes coming in the short term. We could certainly see other existing or planned attractions go through changes or removals before it's all said and done.