BREAKING NEWS: Disney World Confirms Permanent Closure of Nighttime Spectacular and Two Attractions

There’s so much changing right now at Disney World it’s hard to keep up. In addition to all the changes to park operations and offerings during the phased reopening, we’ve also seen changes to multiple construction projects timelines, project postponements, and even project cancellations. Today, we can add the permanent closure of two attractions and one of the nighttime spectaculars to the list. More information below.

Earlier today, Disney management confirmed in an internal memo to cast members that two attractions, Stitch’s Great Escape and Primeval Whirl, which did not reopen with the parks. Would in fact be closing permanently.

Stitch’s Great Escape comes as no surprise. The attractions has been operating seasonally since 2016 and was rarely open. Recently, it has served as the location of character meet and greet. The most surprising part of this announcement was that the attraction was technically still on the list of attractions open seasonally.

Likewise, Primeval Whirl has also been listed as a seasonal attraction and is rarely open. Primeval Whirl has been plagued in recent years with maintenance and operational issues. The attraction always had a line due to a very slow loading process, but overall had mixed reviews, so this closure isn’t shocking.

What will likely be surprising for many guests is the permanent shuttering of Rivers of Light, the nighttime spectacular at Animal Kingdom. Rivers of Light was technically the most complicated and expensive nighttime spectacular shows ever produced by Disney.

From the memo:

“As you know, when Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park reopened to our Guests, several experiences, attractions and shows did not reopen with the park for a variety of reasons. While we look forward to adjusting our operation as we continue to learn and grow in our new environment, Primeval Whirl and Rivers of light: We Are One will not reopen.”

“Over at Magic Kingdom, Stitch’s Great Escape – which has not operated for some time – is permanently closed. Guests can currently see stitch at the Rockettower Plaza Stage throughout the day.

We do not have any creative updates to share for these areas at the moment.”

This comes on the heels of news yesterday that two major projects at Epcot are being indefinitely postponed. You can read more details on that by clicking here.

RELATED ARTICLE: 15 Exciting New & Coming Soon Things to Disney World

by Chad and Cindy Nykamp

In 2019, Walt Disney World opened a highly anticipated new land, new attractions, limited-time entertainment, opened two new resorts, and more. It was a fantastic year to visit! In 2021, Walt Disney World will celebrate its 50th Anniversary, and Disney has promised us some excellent new offerings that will make 2021 an unforgettable year. But what about 2020? If you think you should skip a visit to Walt Disney World this coming year – think again! There are some new and exciting things coming soon to Walt Disney World.


1 – Mickey Mouse Gets a New Home at Epcot – Opened January 5

On January 5, Mickey moved to an all-new location at the Imagination! pavilion as part of the Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival. Just inside the entrance, you’ll discover Mickey greeting his fans and celebrating his on-screen stardom. Check out the photos below of Mickey’s new home!


2 – New Films at Epcot Debut – Opened January 17

Three new films debuted on January 17, 2020, at Epcot, on the same day the Epcot International Festival of the Arts begins:

  • “Awesome Planet” in The Land pavilion showcases the Earth’s beauty and diversity in a 10-minute film featuring spectacular imagery, in-theater effects, and an original musical score from Academy Award-winning® composer Steven Price.
  • “Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along” in the France pavilion is directed and produced by Don Hahn, producer of the animated and live-action “Beauty and the Beast” films and invites guests to participate in a twist on a tale as old as time. It also features narration from Angela Lansbury, who played Mrs. Potts in the original film. The new sing-along will run in rotation with “Impressions de France,” which will receive an upgrade to 4K projection. Cindy got a sneak peek at the new film and loved it. Click here for more on the film.
  • “Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360” in the Canada pavilion is an update to the previous “O Canada!” film with new scenes, a new musical score by Canadian composer Andrew Lockington and new narration by award-winning actors Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy.

Click here for more details on these new films, including our reactions!

Credit: Disney

3 – City Works Eatery & Pour House – Opened February

There is a new restaurant at Disney Springs, and we’re super excited about it. City Works Eatery & Pour House offers classic American cuisine and a “massive” selection of craft brews (over 90+ local and global varieties of beer on tap). This restaurant is the ultimate sports bar that will offer plenty of indoor seating, a large outdoor patio, a retail shop, “gigantic” HDTVs, and state of the art A/V.

4 – Regal Eagle Opening at American Adventure in Epcot – Opened February

Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & Barbecue, the new fast-casual restaurant opened in February at The American Adventure in Epcot and serves classic American backyard barbecue and home-style craft brews. The restaurant has a large smoker for food prep, which makes the yummy smell pour out into the pavilion. Read our full review here.


5 – Mickey Shorts Theater – Opened March 4

Mickey Shorts Theater in Disney’s Hollywood Studios – opened March 4, 2020 – shows an original short film in the style of the popular Disney Channel animated series “Mickey Mouse,” and will feature photo-opportunity locations for guests. The photo below shows the interior of the theater, including fun Mickey Mouse-themed seats.

The newly reimagined Mickey Shorts Theater in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The venue features “Vacation Fun,” a new “Mickey Mouse” cartoon celebrating favorite vacation memories of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. Credit: Kent Phillips.

6 – Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway – Opened March 4

Guests can be among the first to experience Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, the first ride-through attraction featuring Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, opened March 4, 2020, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Anything can happen on this unpredictable adventure through the cartoon world of Disney Channel’s Emmy Award-winning® “Mickey Mouse” shorts, powered by state-of-the-art technology and dazzling visual effects. We love this attraction! Head to the links below for more information!

Click here to learn about the opening of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Mickey Shorts Theater, and Runaway Railway Merchandise.

Click here to read our full review and the 10 things you need to know about this attraction!

Click here to see a video of the train ride vehicle in the loading area.

Click here to see photos from inside the attraction.

Click here to see photos and video from our day experiencing Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway!

Click here to see the opening ceremony on our Instagram account.

7 – Space 220 Restaurant – TBD

Space 220 is a new table-service restaurant debuting this winter at Epcot – next to Mission: SPACE – that will give the feel of dining 220 miles above the Earth’s surface, complete with celestial views. Guests will step inside the restaurant’s space elevator to prepare for liftoff; they’ll feel as if they’re traveling straight up into space to dock next to the Centauri Space Station suspended just beyond the orbit of Mission: SPACE. Upon arrival, guests will be guided to their seats past the grow zone, a spinning wall of produce that mimics Earth’s gravity and represents some of the fresh ingredients used by the restaurant’s culinary team. This high-tech restaurant will feature daytime and nighttime views of Earth outside of the massive “windows” that look upon the stars. An astronaut may even float by! The restaurant is expected to be two levels and offer 376 seats. It will be operated by the Patina Restaurant Group, which we can thank for restaurants like Morimoto Asia and Maria & Enzo’s. Originally planned to open in “early 2020,” we are eager for reservations to be available for Space 220!

8 – Disney’s DuckTales World Showcase Adventure – TBD

Disney’s DuckTales World Showcase Adventure invites guests to join Scrooge McDuck, Donald, nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie, Launchpad, and Webby in search of priceless treasure. Using the Play Disney Parks mobile app, guests take a trip around World Showcase discovering exotic destinations, exciting mysteries, and maybe even a few thieves, villains, and supernatural guardians of ancient artifacts. This will be the next iteration of a popular interactive scavenger hunt around World Showcase guests have enjoyed for years as they experience the magic of possibility at Epcot.

9 – Drawn to Life – New Cirque Du Soleil Show – TBD

Drawn to Life, the highly anticipated new family-friendly show is coming to Disney Springs. This collaboration between Cirque du Soleil, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering was scheduled to open for previews on March 20, 2020, and officially premiere April 17, 2020. Obviously, the plans have changed due to the closure due to Covid-19.

This new show follows the story of Julie, a courageous and determined girl who discovers an unexpected gift left by her late father: an unfinished animation piece. Guided by a surprising pencil, she embarks on an inspiring quest sprinkled with her Disney childhood memories. Through this journey, she learns to imagine new possibilities and animate the story of her future.

Drawn to Life will transport guests of all ages into the world of Disney animation in Cirque du Soleil’s signature style. This entirely new experience will wow Walt Disney World guests and Cirque du Soleil fans while bringing timeless Disney stories to life in an unforgettable new way.

Click here to learn more about our sneak peek at Drawn to Life coming to Disney Springs!

10 – France Pavilion Expansion – Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and La Crêperie de Paris – TBD

Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, originally planned for opening summer 2020 in the France pavilion at Epcot, brings guests on a super-sized adventure with Chef Remy through Gusteau’s restaurant. We recently got a sneak peek inside this coming attraction! Learn more by clicking here. 

We will also see the debut of a delicious new restaurant in the France pavilion, La Crêperie de Paris, offering both table- and quick-service options featuring a menu from celebrity chef Jérôme Bocuse. We’re looking forward to checking out these new options in the expanded France pavilion!

Credit: Disney

11- Roundup Rodeo BBQ Restaurant – TBD

Roundup Rodeo BBQ is a new table-service restaurant coming to Toy Story Land in 2020 as guests live their adventures together at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. An artist concept image below exemplifies how guests will be immersed with all their toy pals in a fun, family-friendly environment constructed from Andy’s favorite larger-than-life playsets and games.

Roundup Rodeo BBQ is a new table-service restaurant coming to Toy Story Land in 2020 as guests live their adventures together at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This artist concept image exemplifies how guests will be immersed with all their toy pals in a fun, family-friendly environment constructed from Andy’s favorite larger-than-life play sets and games. (Credit: Disney)

12 – HarmonioUS at Epcot – TBD

In 2019, we said goodbye to Illuminations: Reflections of Earth and hello to the temporary nighttime spectacular, Epcot Forever. Epcot Forever will continue into 2020 when it then makes way for the debut of the next epic Epcot nighttime spectacular called “HarmonioUS,” as part of the park’s multi-year transformation. Disney has shared that HarmonioUS will be the “LARGEST nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park!” As if that doesn’t get us excited enough, HarmonioUS is said to use familiar Disney tunes that have been reinterpreted by artists from around the globe. Much like Rivers of Light in Animal Kingdom, we can expect massive floating pieces and choreographed moving fountains. On top of that, Disney has shared HarmonioUS will have custom-build LED panels, pyrotechnics, lasers, and more!

13 – M&M’s Orlando Store – TBD

Recently announced, Disney Springs is going to be home to an all-new M&M’s Orlando Store! We love visiting these stores around the world and are excited that Disney Springs will be home to the new store.  Disney cast member Kelsey Noland shares more below:

I’m excited to share news on a new shopping destination adding some colorful fun to the mix. M&M’S Orlando store will be making a sweet addition to our unparalleled mix of shopping at Disney Springs. The new state-of-the-art store will offer an immersive experience that combines the colorful fun that fans of the M&M’S brand enjoy with lasting memories. “Guests will be fully immersed into an interactive chocolate experience that will create more moments and more smiles through the colorful fun of M&M’S,” said Patrick McIntyre, director of global retail at Mars Retail Group. The new store is set to open in 2020 near the NBA Experience and, of course, will be filled with your favorite chocolate candies. (Peanut M&M’s are one of my favorite indulgences!)

Credit: Disney

14 – Ample Hills Creamery at Disney Springs – TBD

When Ample Hills Creamery opening at Disney’s BoardWalk, we fell in love with the amazing ice cream. Our waistlines have never been the same. We firmly believe Ample Hills Creamery offers the best ice cream on property (and pretty much the World). That’s why we are so excited that Ample Hills is opening a second location on the West Side of Disney Springs, giving us even more opportunities to enjoy their delicious ice cream. The store is already under construction and will open sometime in 2020.

15 – Beatrix – TBD

Disney Springs is a foodie paradise, and there is no shortage of fantastic restaurants to enjoy. If you’re looking for a healthier option, then you’ll be excited to hear about Beatrix, a new restaurant expected to open in 2020. Disney cast member Kelsey Noland shares more below:

Beatrixowned by Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (a Chicago-based restaurant group), will open their first restaurant in Florida at Disney Springs West Side. Beatrix is your neighborhood restaurant, coffeehouse, and grab-and-go market featuring healthy food options including vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan along with fresh-squeezed juice cocktails. The restaurant will also offer a bakery and full-service bar with a selection of all-American beer and wine. Executive Partner and Divisional President, Marc Jacobs, explains, “Beatrix represents the way people are eating today – it’s that mix of health and comfort. Whether grabbing a cup of coffee and your favorite pastry, or having a cocktail, lunch, or dinner with friends, it’s your neighborhood meeting place.”

We know this list will get longer as the year goes on! Walt Disney World continues to grow, offering even more for their guests. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter for all the latest Disney news that goes straight to your inbox! We hope you have a fantastic 2020!

For a no obligation, FREE Quote on a Disney vacation package, please contact our travel partner Magical Vacation Planner at 407-442-0227 (407-442-0215 for Spanish). You can also request a FREE quote online by Clicking HERE.


Chad & Cindy Nykamp

After years of multiple Walt Disney World vacations, Cindy and Chad's dream of living in Orlando came true in 2010. After friends and family made them their go-to-people for Walt Disney World advice, Cindy and Chad launched DisneyLists.com in August 2015 to share their knowledge and love of Disney. Chad and Cindy have been Disney World Annual Passholders for years, DVC members, together have raced more than 70 runDisney races, and particularly love cruising on the Disney Cruise Line. Chad and Cindy also regularly represent DisneyLists.com at Walt Disney World media events. While attending these events, they get an insiders view of all the new things that have come to Walt Disney World. These experiences have helped them gain knowledge and expertise they happily pass on to their followers. They still can't believe how lucky they are to have such an amazing opportunity and will continue to share Disney with anyone who will listen!
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