Rumor Mill: Voyage of the Little Mermaid Could be Closing Next and Why
RUMOR MILL: Oh how I love theme park rumors. It can be so much fun debating, wondering, and theorizing what may or may not happen. We all know that Star Wars land is coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, with construction beginning early 2016. It’s a fact. And for those of you who hate that Star Wars is getting an even bigger presence in the Disney parks for reasons claiming it isn’t Disney, I have news for you, Star Wars has been a part of the Disney parks for longer than Pixar has even been owned by Disney. Yes, we seem to forget that Star Tours opened in Disneyland in 1987, years before Pixar was even created. The only difference is now Disney owns Lucasfilm. Moving on.
It’s also true we’re getting Toy Story Land, even though many of the theories and rumors said we would be getting Cars Land (a terrible idea) or, what I was hoping for, a Pixar Place expansion. Something I still say Disney should’ve done. Just think about all of the possibilities: a Monsters Inc. roller coaster, an exciting The Incredibles dark ride similar to Transformers or The Amazing Spider-Man at Universal Orlando, A Bugs Life play set (that one would be the easiest!) and so on. There’re so many amazing Pixar films to choose from. As you can see, not all rumors come true! Anyway, back to Toy Story land. From the concept art, it looks as though it will be placed on the back side of the current Midway Mania attraction, meaning it would sit where current back stage is, leading back to where the now shuttered Backlot Tour sits and maybe go as far as Lights, Motor, Action car stunt show (a show I grew tired of many years ago and would gladly welcome a closure of, don’t hate me). And if you haven’t heard by now, this is the final year for The Osborne Family’s Spectacle of Dancing Lights, which happens on Streets of America. This means SOA is going bye-bye. Will I miss it? Definitely. Am I happy they’re finally putting that land to more use other than a Christmas event and private parties? You bet! But that space could be used for either Toy Story Land OR Star Wars Land depending on which direction in the park they plan to add on Star Wars Land. But that’s another conversation for another day.
SO! This leads us to our newest question! What in Walt’s name is going on with Animation Courtyard?!? Ok, a couple months ago, The Magic of Disney Animation closed its doors for reasons unknown. I was hoping for a MAJOR refurbishment for the attraction. The inside was incredibly dated, and the drawing class was in dire need of an expansion due to its growth in popularity over the last few years! A friend of mine was hoping Disney would simply update Magic of Animation and make it more about CGI animation, which is pretty much the only way animated films are made now. I liked this idea, but clearly it isn’t happening. Many people protested and cried out, but once the doors shut, and sadly, the art store as well, it was as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. OK, I’m sorry. I just really needed to put the Obi Wan quote in. Shortly after, Disney announced the Star Wars Launch Bay would be replacing The Magic of Disney Animation and everyone instantly went, huh???? Seriously though! Why is it that what seems like a temporary quick-fix attraction about Star Wars being placed in the Animation Courtyard? It won’t even be about the animated series, but the new movies coming out, as well as meet and greets… ohhhh, I see what you did there Disney. Yes, Magic of Animation had multiple meet and greets in it and we’ve needed permanent Star Wars meet and greets for years. Fair enough. This will probably be used as an appeasement until Star Wars Land is finished. But still, people wonder, why in Animation Courtyard?
Here’s the latest rumor. I know right? Finally! (Hope you’re still reading) The Voyage of the Little Mermaid is the latest attraction rumored to be on the chopping block for Disney’s Hollywood Studios! Again, this is a RUMOR! So take it with a grain of salt. Many people think Animation Courtyard is going to be replaced with Toy Story Land. But, refer back to my comments about the Toy Story Land concept art. I believe TSL will have no affect on Animation Courtyard whatsoever. Still, people think the former. After all, One Man’s Dream is said to be closing shortly as well. (Still no official announcement, but before you start screaming no, let’s not forget that that attraction was always meant to be a temporary attraction, just like the giant eye sore that was the Sorcerer Mickey Hat. Both were installed to celebrate Walt Disney’s life and his 100th birthday. So it’d be no surprise if/when it does close.) If this is true, imagine what Disney could do with that giant building which used to be a sound stage? Think about it, Mermaid, Dream, and now the shuttered Jack Sparrow attraction all share the same building! Let’s knock down some walls and put a HUGE attraction inside of it, one that could rival the most recent and incredibly fun Universal attractions. But I digress. That probably won’t happen. The problem is, unless that area is re-themed to something, it is such a gray zone within the park. What would go there that would make sense? We have Animation Courtyard on one side, which holds three, now two attractions, soon to be three again, and Pixar Place on the other side. It’s as if Dream and Sparrow were in a 5th dimension in the park. Cue Twilight Zone theme! So then what?
Well, if and when Voyage closes, here is what I’m thinking. For years now, a new show has been rumored to be coming to Studios; one that was recently announced for the Disney Cruise Line. Tangled! Any fans present? Anyway, the original rumor was started about Beauty and The Beast – Live on Stage. This show, located on Sunset Blvd (talk about problems with theming; a stage show for an animated film set in France in an area themed to 1930s Hollywood? Hmmmm…) opened in 1991. It’s an old show, but not as old as Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, which is also rumored to close soon (I know right? What’s even left at the park?), and it still fills up almost every single show! A pretty amazing feat if you ask me. It’s a Guest favorite, and it would be hard to see it go. Last year or so, it was rumored to be closing to be replaced with a Tangled show. As you see, that rumor came and went, and Belle still sings on Sunset Blvd. So what happened to Tangled? Well it seems that the idea never really went away.
Tangled could easily replace Voyage. The movie is incredibly popular and the characters could use some more love. After all, Flynn was taken out of the parks as a meet and greet for reasons never given. (Psst. A little birdie told me he simply was just too popular and the line was too long. Ahem! Anna and Elsa…whaaat?) People LOVE this movie. So much so that if you ever want to see a fan of it attack you, simply say Frozen is better than Tangled. Boom. Instant argument. The music is fun, and the characters are even better. It definitely deserves its own stage show. And I think we can all agree that we could use a break from Frozen everything. After all, a show of Tangled is coming to one of the cruise ships. It’s wouldn’t be too difficult to tweak it some, make it slightly different and plop it down in a park. Honestly, I can’t think of a better place to put it.
Voyage of the Little Mermaid is another very popular show among Guests. It’s Fast Passes used to sell out on a regular basis. (That was before FastPass+ where Guests now have options on EVERY attraction for a Fast Pass, causing them to be more spread out.) However, unlike Beauty, Voyage is highly dated. The show itself is almost laughable to watch. And just like the recent dark rides added to both Disney’s California Adventures and New Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom, which opened in 2011 and 2012 respectively (more than 20 years after the movie…), it skips over or quickly glances at some major plot points of the film. If I knew nothing of the story or movie, I would be so lost and confused plot wise. The show and rides are among some of the silliest things Imagineering has created for the parks. Whatever happened to a complete story? After all, Beauty is able to tell the whole story of the movie and it is only a few minutes longer. I’m sure arguments could be made about these points, but that’s not the point. The Little Mermaid attractions simply lack what many others have. Let’s put Ariel out of her misery at the Studios and replace her with an equally deserving princess who needs her own attraction. Must we really wait 20 more years to see Rapunzel get some love?
So there it is. Voyage of the Little Mermaid could be singing its final Under the Sea sometime soon. See it while you can. But no matter what happens to Voyage, something needs to be done for this area of the park. Animation Courtyard is at a high risk of losing its identity. Disney’s Junior is still kicking strong and it’s a great show for families, but we need more. Tangled would be great for this land. It would bring many new fans to the land and it was made with CGI animation. So if I’m correct and Star Wars Launch Bay is just a temporary attraction until Star Wars Land is finished, maybe the space will convert back to the Magic of Disney Animation, but updated to be about CGI animation like my friends idea. I mean, Sorcerer Mickey needs a home too!
What do you think about the possible closing of The Voyage of the Little Mermaid? Would you be sad to see it go? Or excited for new changes? A Tangled show would be a great addition to the park, and a nice ‘entry way’ to the entrance of Toy Story Land. Disney’s Hollywood Studios is on the verge of becoming a whole different kind of park, and we’re on like step 12 of 100. It’s coming, just very slowly!