We've been waiting patiently since last January for the return of the Disneyland Railroad and the Rivers of America. Although they've released new details about Fantasmic!, it's the end of April and we still don't have any definite idea when everything will be reopening. There's clearly progress on Star Wars Land and reports show progress along the Rivers of America, but when will it all be over? Looking back on how Disney usually handles temporary closures, I think we can make a pretty good guess.
How it Usually Works
- "EARLY 2017" - Early reports of the Tower of Terror's closing pinned the opening of the new Guardians of the Galaxy attraction to open in early 2017, which when you think about it is a 6-month window.
- "SUMMER 2017" - When Disney made the official announcement in July 2016 they set a summer 2017 opening date for the new ride (which is about 9-10 months ahead of the actual date).
- "MAY 2017" - In February Disney finally announced the official opening date in late May 2017, approximately 3 months ahead of time.
Something's a bit funny. Work has supposedly begun on Star Wars Land, and although everything is leveled there's not much activity going on back there anymore. Disney has finally announced more specific details about the expansion and even talk about a couple of specific attraction ideas that will be featured and even released concept art of Disneyland's specific version of Star Wars Land, at last. Normally for a project of this size concept art is released much sooner, but along with all this news work seems to have picked back up. Crews actually began building instead of just demolishing. I can't help but wonder - was it supposed to take that long?
Meanwhile, Disneyland announces the seasonal return of the Main Street Electrical Parade and says it will last through 18 June. Ordinarily this would mean that they plan on replacing the parade with something else once the summer gets rolling.
They also release a statement urging guests to look forward to the return of the Disneyland Railroad and the Rivers of America in summer 2017. Fingers instantly started guessing this was to signal the return of Fantasmic! to replace the Main Street Electrical Parade in mid-June. After all, announcements like this usually mean we're about 9 or so months away from reopening. Thoughts of an April return are out, but summer is good!
If rain was an issue in the fall, it was a major problem at the beginning of the year. It was common for sheets of water to flow down Main Street, USA and many outside attractions to close due to extremely inclement weather. Since the construction zone behind the park is still mainly dirt, it's reasonable to say that this was a hindrance to their work and can lead to delays.
No new announcements about the rest of the park returning, but the Main Street Electrical Parade is now extended through 20 August. Interesting announcement, but not bad news by any means.
And as of Right Now...
So What Happened?
- LACK OF PLANNING - Imagineers may not have had a set plan in mind yet when construction started last January. They may have hoped that they would have a solid plan for construction crews by the time demolition was over, but many details still needed to be hashed out so work stalled a little bit. Not much, just a couple of weeks to a month. No big deal, but it did push their hopeful date from late spring into the summer months.
- RAIN STORMS - The torrential downpours southern California has seen over the last few months have certainly caused issues for construction crews and may have even stalled work for several days since they couldn't work through the mud. No big deal, but now work is pushed back for potentially a few more weeks.
With this in mind, I think we can expect to see the return of the Disneyland Railroad and Rivers of America in August 2017. Why August? Disney bought themselves until then with the extension of the Main Street Electrical Parade. They had intended for Fantasmic! to be the summer's nighttime spectacular but it may not be done in time, so it was easier to prolong performances of an already popular show through August to buy themselves some time and keep the guests happy.
I realise this is all speculation and we still have a month or so for me to be proved wrong, but since Disneyland is being so silent on the subject this whole scenario wouldn't surprise me. One way or another, we know with complete confidence that things will return this year. Construction is far enough along on the railroad tracks that there is no way it will take until 2018 to finish, but it could be until the very end of summer. We'll have to see.