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SYFY WIRE Theme Park News

Walt Disney World is having a really, really weird week

By Carlye Wisel
Walt Disney World via Getty Images

Well, well, well, are you in for a treat with this week's Theme Park News. A string of mysterious stories? Some bizarre happenings? It almost feels like old times again, except that everything is canceled and we're still in our houses.

Time for the news.


Theme park Halloween may be on pause this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but there are way too many spooky shenanigans happening at Walt Disney World.

In true Hallow’s Eve fashion, things have been going extremely awry on rides across Epcot and Magic Kingdom. It all started last week when TikTok user Hallie Grace rode Spaceship Earth and instead of seeing her idyllic future saw... World of Warcraft?:


You should’ve seen us try to explain this to the cast member at the exit #Epcot #Disneyworld #wdw #waltdisneyworld #spaceshipearth #MyBFF #fyp #foryou

♬ original sound - Hallie Grace

When I first saw it, I thought it was so unexpectedly silly. How funny that this would happen! How strange! I didn’t think anything of it until the attraction shenanigans escalated like a Scream-era scary movie and reached Living With the Land. What you need to know about Living With the Land (if you haven’t been blessed enough to fall in love with it) is that it’s as tame a "ride" as tame gets. Not only is it a slow-moving boat ride, it’s a slow-moving boat ride through a greenhouse. (Real compelling-sounding stuff, I know, but it’s fantastic.)

Well, some riders hopped aboard for a flora-filled joyride only to... go backward?:

Yes, like a seasonal event at Six Flags, this beloved boat ride started inching backward in time. I would personally never complain about getting a double dose of hydroponics, but it was certainly strange.

Anyway, consider it an afterthought! It was only two random occurrences! There’s only a superstitious significance for things that happen in threes, right?


And then it happened. Over the weekend, reports circulated that an entire Splash Mountain flume had sunk. "Impossible!" I thought. "It’s too many weird happenings at once."

Truly, what is going on here? Have the Sanderson Sisters and uneaten chocolate bars of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party joined together to cause early autumn chaos? Is this the Guillermo del Toro Haunted Mansion movie we always hoped for come to life?

It doesn’t even end there! To add one more exceptionally strange occurrence into the mix, some tax refund checks in Rhode Island were mistakenly signed by... Mickey Mouse? The many frights from Halloween Horror Nights must be bouncing over to Walt Disney World to wreak havoc, because these coincidences are just too bizarre.


Given that we are still very much in a pandemic, America’s theme parks are still feeling the effects of it, as well, with a trifecta of bummers hitting Universal Orlando Resort this past week. 

Not only is Epic Universe officially delayed — which isn’t quite news, but pushes the opening far, far off into the future — Universal Orlando Resort sadly had another round of layoffs. And, while both parks are open, a shortlist of attractions will temporarily close starting on Aug. 9. Kang and Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl, Fear Factor Live, Fast & Furious – Supercharged, and A Day in the Park With Barney at Universal Studios Florida, as well as Poseidon’s Fury and Storm Force Accelatron at Universal's Islands of Adventure will be affected. (It's not as dire as it sounds, given that a few of these attractions did not open when Universal Orlando Resort re-opened in June.)

Disney World isn’t quite immune, either. Following a disagreement with Actors' Equity Association that has led to stage shows like Finding Nemo - The Musical and Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular being scrapped for the time being, Disney attempted to fill in those actors’ absences with a new show. The Disney Society Orchestra and Friends, which temporarily replaces Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage, focuses on live music with sporadic character appearances:

Given that Disney’s Hollywood Studios is typically heavy on stage shows and this is positioned as a current replacement, the move feels a little like, I don’t know, getting dumped and then dating someone who looks exactly like your ex?

On its own, it’s fine — live music within a theme park should always be celebrated! — but within the context of it existing because Disney World and Actor’s Equity Association couldn’t reach an agreement that mostly hinged on allowing actors to be tested for COVID-19 regularly and wear masks, the latter of which other employees are required to do, feels like quite a petty move to me.




This story alone is worth subscribing to the Orlando Sentinel for.

- Will it even be autumn without pizza fries?

- The NBA just keeps delivering and delivering.

Perfectly put.

- Florida may never have issued a statewide mask mandate, but theme park guests and workers should expect to wear them for a while

- Ticket deals for locals keep rolling in, while some Disney Passholders are questioning the worth of their passes.

- Well, color me excited for this Howard Ashman documentary.

SYFY and Universal Theme Parks are properties of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.

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