Disney World Postponing Mary Poppins Ride & 'Spaceship Earth' Update at Epcot Due to Coronavirus
The company first announced the new additions to the Orlando park in August 2019
After a nearly four-month closure due to the coronavirus, Walt Disney World is making some tough calls on a highly anticipated new attraction and a promised update to a classic.
Disney will be pausing work on a Mary Poppins-inspired attraction that was planned as an addition to Epcot's World Showcase and a long-awaited reimagining of "Spaceship Earth," the attraction inside the park's iconic sphere, in Future World.
A representative for the company told the unofficial Disney blog Laughing Place, “As with most businesses during this period, we are further evaluating long-term project plans."
The new changes coming to Epcot were first announced in August 2019 at the D23 Expo, the company's annual conference. “Every inch of every park should be magical, and that’s why I’m so excited about this transformation,” Bob Chapek, Chair of Parks, Experiences and Products, said at the time.
During the event, Dick Van Dyke, who played chimney sweep Bert in the 1964 version of Mary Poppins, helped Chapek announce that the company’s first-ever attraction themed to the classic film would be built on Cherry Tree Lane, inside Epcot’s U.K. pavilion.
“What made it was ‘Uncle Walt.’ Walt Disney was a creative genius who looked at the world through a child’s eyes,” Van Dyke said.
“Spaceship Earth” meanwhile would be getting a new guide and new narration to “focus on the storytelling that brings people together," according to the Expo's event page at the time.
Though the company had not yet announced an opening date for the two attractions, guests who attended Epcot’s reopening on Wednesday told the publication that the ride was still open in its previous form.
Guests also noted that mentions of the Mary Poppins ride and “Spaceship Earth” refurbishment had been removed from the Epcot Experience preview center, a space where guests can watch a video about the changes coming to the park.
Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom parks both reopened on July 11 after being closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, while Epcot and Hollywood Studios reopened on July 15.
Among the many new health and safety regulations in place, guests over two years old are now required to wear a face-covering throughout their visit, stand in socially distanced lines for rides and get temperature checks prior to entering the parks.
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Disney World’s phased opening is in line with Florida’s coronavirus reopening plan, which has continued to move ahead despite a huge surge in new cases in the state. On July 12, the day after Disney World reopened, Florida reported a record 15,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day, according to data from The New York Times.
Florida now has the third-highest case total of the pandemic, after New York and California, with 301,802 cases and 4,520 deaths as of July 15.
Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration reported on July 7 that at least 56 hospitals are out of space in their ICUs, despite the fact that Gov. Ron DeSantis previously claimed that “hospitals still have a lot of capacity.”
On June 24, Disneyland in California, another state seeing rising cases, announced that it had "no choice but to delay" its intended July 17 reopening date. The decision came as the state government did not grant approval and guidelines in time to arrange the opening.
There is still no opening date for Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. Downtown Disney reopened with new safety precautions in place on July 9.
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