With Tron finally opening in Spring 2023, 6 years after its announcement, one might ask the question “is Disney too slow when it comes to construction?”
You can also watch our YouTube video regarding this topic here
Disney has gained a reputation these last few years as more and more projects take well, more and more time to be completed. This is not only happening at Disney World but also Disneyland Paris, for example. We (the fans) like to compare Disney with Universal as they are the ones closest to them when it comes to theme parks but is this a fair comparison? In this video we will look back at the last decade or so and try to understand why people get this perception and if it’s actually true!
Starting off with Universal:
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter let’s guests step into this magical world, these lands are incredibly immersive and truly makes you feel like a wizard. The first phase was on Islands of Adventure and in January 2008 it was announced that construction would start later that year, which it did in July. Two years pass by and the land and is ready to open! On June 16th, 2010, the park hosted the grand opening, just two years after construction began or two and a half after the announcement!
Continuing on Universal, with phase one now complete and a big success, phase two is announced in December 2011, this one would consist of Diagon Alley and would be built on Universal Studios with construction beginning in March 2012. In July 2014 about two years and a half (32 months) after the announcement the new land opens to the public.
Some years go by and on September 2017 Dueling Dragons closes, making way for an, unannounced ride which we know today as Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure (what a name). With time passing by a lot of speculation exists as not a lot is known about this ride and in February 2019 Universal Orlando provides a lot more details like the name, ride vehicle, and an opening date which would be on June of that year.
Last but not least we have Velocicoaster! This high-speed thrilling roller coaster started construction in January 2019, for this one Universal actually started construction way before announcing it. This only happened on September 2020, after construction being halted for a while because of Covid-19, Florida’s tallest coaster was to open in June 2021, just two years and a half after construction began and less than a year after the official announcement!
So, that’s Universal, what about Disney?
While I will mainly focus on Disney World I won’t mention every addition to the Disney World parks as I also want to include Disneyland and Disneyland Paris.
Let’s start with Pandora – The World of Avatar. This Animal Kingdom land was firstly announced in September 2011 with little details, it was further explained when Disney showcased a first look to the public on October 2013. It wasn’t until January of 2014 that construction began with the opening date planned for 2016 which was later revised as the land received an official opening day which turned out to be in May of 2017, about six years after the first announcement or 3 years after construction began.
Before leaving Disney world let’s explore one more expansion: Galaxy’s Edge. Now, the expansion to Disney’s Hollywood Studios was bigger than some of the others we discussed so far, just something to keep in mind. This land was announced in August 2015 at the D23 Expo, with construction beginning in March 2016. Galaxy’s Edge was also being built at Disneyland during this time, but let’s continue to focus on Disney World, it would not open until August 2019 with only one attraction operating as the big E-Ticket ride, Rise of the Resistance, was delayed to later that year. So, the Star Wars land took 4 years to be built, from announcement to opening.
Now, let’s take a look at Avengers Campus at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. This new land based around Marvel was announced in July 2017 with construction beginning a year later (September). The land suffered some delays caused by covid-19 but opened to the public on June 2021, four years after the initial announcement with 3 years of construction. Now, in terms of size Avengers Campus is much smaller than other expansions which contributed to a faster completion even with the delays caused by the pandemic…
And now let’s get back into the Florida heat and discuss the elephant in the room… Tron Lightcycle Run. This ride has been the target of memes and jokes because of the amount of time it has been taking to be built, but does it deserve this? Let’s take a look:
Tron was announced during the 2017 D23 Expo with a projected opening date of 2021. Construction began on the year after, in February 2018, the roller coaster then continued being built as years passed by 2018 soon became 2019 which then became 2020 that brought with it the pandemic that slowed down things… While Universal was able to slowly continue the construction of Velocicoaster, Disney stopped all works for quite some time. With things starting to return to normal, 2020 became 2021 (the original opening date), 2021 soon became 2022 and just some weeks ago we learned that Tron will open in Spring 2023, about 6 years after its announcement with more than 5 years of construction.
So is Disney’s construction too slow? Well… Kinda. You see, Disney has a different strategy than universal for example, they announce things, begin building and open while Universal a lot of times begins construction before announcing which gives the impression that they’re faster. But looking at the facts this isn’t the only thing, because Disney does indeed take more time from beginning of construction to opening, let’s compare two somewhat similar attractions: Velocicoaster and Tron. Why are they similar you ask, well, both are roller coasters and both passed by 2020. Velocicoaster took two and a half years to be completed and Tron is taking 5 years. Either way let’s not forget that Tron has more theming and is inside a showbuilding which takes a bit more time to built, but even so, it’s just too much.
Then there’s Universal’s Epic Universe which was firstly announced in August 2019 and is slated to open in 2025. Construction began in April 2020, meaning that Universal builds a whole new park in less time than Disney builds a new roller coaster, which is kind of hilarious…
One theory is that Disney could be extending the construction time so that the already announced and paid for projects open later, which would make people want to return to experience new attractions. This way Disney gets more out of less. What’s your opinion on this? Do you think Disney is taking more time on purpose? Let me know down below!
Before ending, let’s just explore one more project that a lot of people in the US could be unaware of: Walt Disney Studios Paris 2.0. This expansion to the smallest Disney park was announced in 2018 but isn’t expected until (at least) 2025 which would mean at least 7 years from announcement to opening… and this is just the lake and Frozen areas as Star Wars might have been cancelled or won’t arrive until later than that.
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