Disney Park Suspends Mary Poppins: Controversial Incident Leads To Indefinite Hiatus

Image shows a woman in front of a large spherical building. The woman is wearing a black hat adorned with flowers, a navy blue jacket, a white blouse, and a red bow tie. The background includes two palm trees and a portion of a geometric-patterned structure.
Credit: Inside the Magic

On June 10, 2024, Disney made it clear that while EPCOT is finally complete, there are many promises that have been officially severed, and will never come to life at Walt Disney World Resort.

Three people walk side by side, holding hands, in front of CommuniCore Hall. Two are wearing Disney-themed clothing with mouse ears, while one has a colorful shirt. The building has modern architecture with geometric patterns. Trees are visible in the background.

Credit: Disney

Walt Disney World Resort’s EPCOT park has embarked on a transformative journey in recent years, introducing thrilling attractions like Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and TRON Lightcycle / Run, while simultaneously reimagining classic experiences like Splash Mountain (soon to be Tiana’s Bayou Adventure). This commitment to innovation extends beyond confirmed expansions at Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, with exciting new developments on the horizon for EPCOT itself.

EPCOT, long celebrated for its World Showcase and exploration of cultures and technology, is undergoing a meticulous transformation. This evolution prioritizes enhancing the guest experience, embracing “the spirit of tomorrow,” and fostering a more immersive environment. While recent additions like Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana, have captivated audiences, the completion of CommuniCore Hall and Plaza marks a pivotal moment in this ongoing narrative.

The arrival of CommuniCore Hall and Plaza signifies a significant expansion, extending the allure of EPCOT festivals beyond the boundaries of the World Showcase. These meticulously designed spaces offer more than just visual appeal; they embody the spirit of community and connection, providing guests with a welcoming atmosphere to gather and create lasting memories.

Nighttime view of CommuniCore Hall, an illuminated building featuring a geometric facade with glowing green and blue triangular patterns. Large, bold white letters spell out

Credit: Disney

At the heart of the expansion lies CommuniCore Plaza, a dynamic hub designed to foster interaction and engagement.

Adjacent to CommuniCore Plaza stands CommuniCore Hall, a modern marvel that pays homage to EPCOT’s rich legacy while embracing the promise of the future. Within its walls, guests will encounter a diverse array of attractions and experiences, as well as meet and greet opportunities with some of your favorite characters like Mickey Mouse.

On June 10, 2024, EPCOT Vice President Kartika Rodriguez declared that the transformation of EPCOT is complete via a Disney Parks Blog. 

“It’s a very exciting time to be at EPCOT – after years of creative vision, innovation and dedicated work, I’m thrilled to share that the historic transformation of our park is complete.

The construction walls have come down around World Celebration, and CommuniCore Hall, CommuniCore Plaza, and Mickey & Friends will open to all starting June 10!

These beautiful new spaces speak to the heart of the World Celebration neighborhood, which focuses on experiences that bring communities together. As you come together with your family and friends to explore these new areas, here are a few things that I’m most excited for you all to see.”

While no more construction walls is a good thing, this also means that the projects that were initially promised by then paused are now cut.

During D23 in 2019, many exciting projects were announced for the Disney Parks. Among the highlights was a massive expansion at EPCOT, featuring a complete overhaul of Future World, a refurbishment of Spaceship Earth, the creation of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, updates to World Showcase, including an expansion of the France pavilion, the introduction of Moana: Journey of Water, and the addition of Cherry Tree Lane in the U.K. pavilion inspired by Mary Poppins.

A large geodesic sphere made up of triangular panels is seen against a clear blue sky at Disney World. Two palm trees are positioned in the foreground, with the lower portion of the sphere slightly obscured by angular structures.

Credit: Inside the Magic

The Cherry Tree Lane addition would bring a charming touch to EPCOT’s England pavilion, with Mary’s iconic umbrella peeking from the clouds. However, fans will need to exercise patience for this practically perfect expansion.

In 2022, during The Walt Disney Company shareholders meeting, then-CEO Bob Chapek was questioned about these pending projects and their future. Chapek initially highlighted the projects that have been completed, avoiding direct answers about those still in limbo. He acknowledged that these projects are now in a “holding pattern” and expressed hope that once the company’s financial situation becomes more robust, funding for these projects could resume.

cherry tree lane attraction concept art

Credit: Disney

Now we know it will never resume, so the Spaceship Earth refurbishment and Cherry Tree Lane are promises of the past.

Recently, Mary Poppins took a hit for a racist stereotype in the film.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) recently updated its maturity rating for the classic Walt Disney Studios film Mary Poppins (1964). This decision has sparked debate among fans, with some questioning the need for a change.

Like the Motion Picture Association (MPA) in the United States, the BBFC assigns maturity ratings to films based on content deemed suitable for different age groups. Mary Poppins was previously rated U (“suitable for all”), akin to the MPA’s G rating. However, the BBFC has revised the film’s rating to PG (“Parental Guidance”).

“General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children. A PG film should not unsettle a child aged around eight or older. Unaccompanied children of any age may watch, but parents are advised to consider whether the content may upset younger, or more sensitive, children.

Mary Poppins with a bird on her hand

Credit: Disney

As Inside the Magic has reported, “The BBFC cited a racist, outdated stereotype used in the film for its updated rating. A minor character, Admiral Boom (Reginald Owen), uses the word “Hottentots.” Initially used by the Dutch in the 17th century to describe the Indigenous Khoikhoi people of South Africa and Namibia, the word fell out of fashion for its derogatory nature.”

While this is likely not the issue that caused Disney to axe the project since Mary Poppins still meets at Disney, we do know that Disney does its best to avoid any racial undertones, with the removal of Splash Mountain and the addition of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

What do you think about EPCOT’s final look?

About Alessia Dunn

Orlando theme park lover who loves thrills and theming, with a side of entertainment. You can often catch me at Disney or Universal sipping a cocktail, or crying during Happily Ever After or Fantasmic.

One comment

  1. Put it back to the way it was. The new finalized Epcot is a joke. Even the new projects don’t work properly.

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