Less than a year after the project was first announced, the Magic Kingdom’s Broadway-style theater looks to have been canceled after being omitted from Disney’s updated construction permits for the park.
Disney had first unveiled the theater project at the 2017 D23 Expo. It was to be based on the Willis Wood theater which stood in Kansas City when Walt Disney lived there in the 1920s.
“Across Walt Disney parks and resorts, we’ve been upping the game in entertainment and this new theater at Walt Disney World continues that streak,” the company’s parks and resorts chairman, Bob Chapek, said at the expo last summer.
No further announcements were made about when the theater would open or what shows it would host. It was included in November 2017 permits filed with the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), placing it behind Main Street on what is now an employee parking lot.
Four months later, numerous sites and theme park blogs reported on rumors of the project’s demise. Soon after, Disney removed it from their “What’s New” page and links to stories about its D23 announcement went dead.
While Disney has given no official word on the theater’s status, new Magic Kingdom permits seem to confirm its been scrapped.
Those November SFWMD permits also listed grading and drainage in the area where the Tron Lightcycle roller coaster will be built, wrapping behind Space Mountain and Main Street to cover the area marked for the theater. In updated permits released this month, the boundaries on the Tron site have been slightly enlarged in Tomorrowland but the theater site is no longer included.
Canceling a project so soon after it was given that much fanfare at the biannual D23 event is out of character for Disney, at least in recent years. Almost all the major announcements it made at the 2015 expo — like Toy Story Land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and an update of Soarin’ — are either under construction or have already opened.
Additionally, work has already begun on other projects announced alongside the theater at the 2017 expo, like the aforementioned Tron coaster.
With the project now on the scrap heap, the Magic Kingdom will continue to lack the kind of flexible theater space with permanent seating that it utilizes at other parks. For example, Disney California Adventure features a 2,000-seat theater which has played host to two Broadway-style productions based on “Aladdin” and “Frozen.” Both of those shows have since become actual Broadway musicals.