For the second time in the span of a month, Disney World is addressing rumors of closing attractions that originated with the widely-read blog WDW News Today.
Site founder Tom Corless reported that Disney World version’s of the Enchanted Tiki Room would be replaced by a new overlay themed after the 2016 film “Moana,” citing sources inside the Walt Disney Company. The new show, Corless wrote, would open in time for Disney World’s 50th anniversary in 2021.
It wouldn’t be the first time the Tiki Room has been changed. After opening with the Magic Kingdom in 1971 as a near-identical copy of the original 1963 Disneyland attraction, it was given a makeover in 1998 starring Iago and Zazu, two birds from Disney animated films “Aladdin” and “The Lion King,” respectively. Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management ran until 2011, when a shortened version of the original attraction was brought back.
Disney denied the rumor in a post on the Disney Parks Blog Wednesday.
“We’re sorry that our fans are being fed incorrect information by unscrupulous sources,” wrote Thomas Smith, editorial content director at Disney Parks. “While ‘toucan’ play at that game, we deal in facts here at the Disney Parks Blog. Although we won’t address every rumor, we want to set the record straight: there are no plans for our feathered friends to fly the coop any time soon. We’re constantly evolving our stories, but these birds will continue entertaining our guests at the Magic Kingdom Park just as they have done since 1971.”
The original story has since been updated to reflect Disney’s response, which it described as “an informal post from the Disney Parks Blog.” In a separate article, Corless disputed Disney’s description of the site as “an unscrupulous source” and called the Disney blog post “the most unprofessional statement the company has released in its history, in my personal opinion.”
He also noted Disney has not addressed other rumors first reported by WDW News Today in a similar fashion, notably a recent story that said Country Bear Jamboree, another 1971 Magic Kingdom original, will be replaced with a Toy Story attraction.
“I’m not surprised since they have no response for Country Bears still,” Corless told Orlando Rising in an email. “They’re trying to get their ducks in a row out of fear that I’ll announce more ahead” of the D23 Expo.
Corless also said he has corrected and retracted stories upon Disney’s request, but such instances have been rare — and he wouldn’t be doing so with the Tiki Room story.
“I think that has happened only three to four times in 12 years,” he said. “This was not one of those times, so I won’t retract it. It’s too vague of a statement.”
Disney previously cast doubt on another rumor reported by Corless earlier in June that claimed the company plans on demolishing two Epcot pavilions, The Land and The Seas, between 2024 and 2026. Disney World’s official Twitter account stated the two pavilions “are planned to be with us into the future.” The site stood by that story as well, saying “if a rumor is incorrect, we are always contacted by someone actually in the know in their various PR departments.”
WDW News Today has been among to first to report rumors that have later come to fruition, such as reporting Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway would replace The Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios or that Hong Kong Disneyland would be revamping its version of Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Other rumors it has shared, however, have not come to pass.
An April 2015 report claimed Universal Orlando would close its Incredible Hulk coaster and Doctor Doom’s Fear Fall attraction before the end of that year, but both rides remain in operation today. An October 2013 story said Disney was about to announce a deal with Warner Bros. for the theme park rights to “The Lord of the Rings” franchise, but no such deal was ever struck. An August 2015 report said that Disneyland would close its Mickey’s Toontown area in 2016 to make way for a Star Wars-themed land. Star Wars:Galaxy’s Edge was later built adjacent to Toontown, which remains open.
If Enchanted Tiki Room or Country Bear Jamboree are closed or substantially altered, Disney will likely give fans plenty of notice to see the shows one last time.
“If you’re a major theme park operator and thinking of closing an attraction, a ‘last chance’ promotion can actually produce a similar attendance boost to opening a new attraction, especially if the experience that is closing was sentimental to guests,” said Bill Zanetti, a founding member of the University of Central Florida’s Entertainment Management Advisory Board. “Attendance will skyrocket for the final days of an attraction that is going away.”
Disney World raises annual pass prices as much as 25%
REVIEW: Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run falls short of expectations
Orange County Sheriff’s Office: Disney World animatronic Buzzy ‘is stolen’