With Fall around the corner you are closer and closer to your Disney trip this October, November, or December. There is a lot going on at Walt Disney World these days and I want to make sure you are prepared.
With the peak season of summer behind us, the time to refurbish some rides has come. When a park stays open 365 days a year, you have to bite the bullet and close down some rides for maintenance during operating hours. Sadly, that means some of us might miss out on particular rides during fall trips.
Here’s the good news: there are plenty of other rides to pick up the slack. Of course, nothing is more disappointing than being excited about a particular ride, only to discover it is closed when you arrive. We don’t want any Clark Griswold incidents when you make it to Walt Disney World this fall. So, let’s set those expectations before you ever leave the house by looking at the Ride Refurbishment schedule for fall 2016.
Swiss Family Treehouse
7/6/16 – 9/25/16
Did you know this walkthrough attraction has been entertaining guests since opening day, October 1, 1971? Since then very little has changed. That is thanks to the artificial nature of the Robinson families home. Despite looking very real, the 300,000 leaves and the tree itself are pure Disney Imagineering.
So, what is going on now that requires such a lengthy refurbishment? Is the tree being re-themed to Tarzan like its Disneyland counterpart? Well, probably not. While nothing official has been released, there is a rumor that the tree is gaining an elevator. This will allow guests who are unable to walk up the 116 steps to still enjoy the top of the tree. I have a hard time envisioning such a massive project, but we won’t have to wait much longer to find out what’s been going on. The treehouse is scheduled to reopen September 25.
7/25/16 – 10/16/16
One of my favorite rides, DINOSAUR, has been closed since July 25. The Animal Kingdom thriller won’t be done until October 16, making for a rather lengthy refurbishment. No word on exactly what’s going on with the Carnotaurus and his friends behind closed doors. However, if you go way back and listen to our episode covering DINOSAUR you will find the ride has been in need of some TLC for some time.
I’m very hopeful and excited that the ride will reopen with fully functional Audio Animatronic dinosaurs and upgraded lighting and effects. If Disney Imagineering gets this refurb right, this is going to be one ride thrill seekers won’t want to miss!
Jungle Book Alive with Magic
The temporary stand in for Rivers of Light will probably be closed by the time you read this. The nighttime show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom was never intended to run as long as it has.
With this closing we hope to have an announcement any day about the long anticipated Rivers of Light opening. Stay tuned!
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
8/8/16 – 11/19/16
The old mine train has been closed since August 8. Again, this is a prolonged refurbishment, leading many to speculate the ride is getting some of the same enhanced effects seen this past year at Disneyland’s Big Thunder ride. Those effects included an upgrade in audio, lightning, and even the addition of explosions near the end of the ride.
The newer version out in California has been very well received.
If we see the same thing in Florida, expect a great ride to get even better! Look for Cousin Elrod and the town of Tumbleweed to welcome guests again starting on November 19.
It’s a Small World
8/22/16 – 9/16/16
The happiest cruise that ever sailed is only in dry dock for a few weeks. The ride closed on August 22 and will be opening again on September 16. The short closure indicates regular maintenance. Don’t expect any major changes.
Sum of All Thrills
The next one on the list is not a refurbishment, but rather a permanent closing. The Sum of All Thrills presented by Ratheon is going away on September 14, 2016. We did a podcast on this ride last year, and to be honest I didn’t know it existed until I started the WDW Ride Guide. Evidently, I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t familiar with the motion simulator tucked into Innoventions.
The East and West pavilions of Innoventions have seen a lot of closures over the past two years, and many speculated Sum of All Thrills was next on the list. With this ride closing, it is clear this area will be getting a fresh new look. Expect to see the entire pavilion closed. We don’t know the plans for the future of this space, but I think a radically different direction is in store based on some more news we will discuss in just a mintue.
Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park
10/23/16 – 12/24/16
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
12/25/16 – 3/11/17
Disney has a regular schedule of maintenance for their two water parks. Blizzard Beach is up first and will be closed from October 23 – December 24.
Typhoon Lagoon will be closed from December 25 – March 11, 2017. While Blizzard Beach is only getting regular cleaning, Typhoon Lagoon will actually be adding a new ride! Look for a new family raft ride, Miss Fortune Falls, when the park reopens next Spring!
Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
10/27/16 – 11/5/16
If there was a surprise on this list for me, it was Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. A report from Theme Park Tourist indicates this refurbishment could mean Aerosmith’s starring role may be coming to an end. All Aerosmith branded merchandise has been pulled from the ride’s shop, as well as over at Disney Springs.
With a short two week window to complete any work, it still seems unlikely that Aerosmith is going away right now. Of course, the theme of the ride does not rely much on what band you are racing across town to see. It would be pretty easy to program in a new soundtrack featuring a new band or artist. If you will be in the parks before the end of October, be sure to get in a ride with Aerosmith. You never know how much longer they will be around.
How do you feel about the idea of pulling the plug on Aerosmith? What band would you want to see take the stage at Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Stitch’s Great Escape
Rumored to be closing this Fall. Stitch’s days may finally be numbered. It turns out I’m not the only one who isn’t a fan of Stitch’s Great Escape. If true, this story could be the biggest thing to come out of the Magic Kingdom since the day I had 3 Mickey Mouse ice cream bars! Sorry, bad joke.
The ride is rumored to be closing sometime this fall. Could this mean a new Wreck-It Ralph themed ride? The ride would be a simulator that puts racers into the virtual reality of the arcade game Sugar Rush. That’s right, you could race along side Vanellope Von Schweetz and King Candy!
I’m not sure how that fits in with the theme of Tomorrowland, but I’m willing to overlook that minor discrepancy if it means Ralph wrecks Stitch!
Ellen’s Energy Adventure
The other big story floating around right now is the possible closing of Ellen’s Energy Adventure. More specifically, the complete demolition of the Universe of Energy pavilion to make way for Epcot’s first roller coaster.
Believe it or not, this is the newest space thought to be the future home of characters from Guardians of the Galaxy. You may have heard a story a few months back saying the likes of Starlord, Groot, and Rocket were going to take over the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Well, that turned out to be a half truth. The Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure is going to become the new home of the Collector and feature characters from the Guardians galaxy. However, the fifth dimension of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Disney’s Hollywood Studios isn’t going anywhere.
So, it is hard to say if the Guardians are truly shutting down Ellen’s Energy Adventure. At this point I do think it is safe to say Ellen will be going away, it is just a question of what will be replacing her.
That is all of the ride refurbishments for now!