The Disney theme parks are living, breathing entities. Rides are updated, or gutted and replaced, old favorites make way for new rides, and whole new worlds are built. This constant evolution means sometimes ideas don’t make it to reality, while others are long into development before they’re officially announced. This story from the Orlando Weekly has shades of both.
According to the article, Disney historian and podcaster Jim Hill recently did an episode dedicated to what wasn’t announced at D23. This included an expansion to the U.K. pavilion at Disney’s Epcot. Rumors have been swirling about the United Kingdom getting a facelift for years, as the pavilion was originally slated to be larger than it currently is, but the deal fell through. Hill has heard rumblings that Mary Poppins is on her way after the sequel Mary Poppins Returns drops next year. The area, called Cherry Tree Hill, would be a glorified Meet-And-Greet for the Mary Poppins character, along with a version of the carousel from the original film. As you can see in the Google Maps image below, there’s a large chunk of unused land next to the U.K. Pavilion to build on, directly across from the main World Showcase foot traffic artery. Should Cherry Tree Lane be built there, it would have the added effect of alleviating clusters of guests and helping redistribute traffic flow.
As with any rumor about the House of Mouse, take all of this with a grain of salt. Jim Hill has had a checkered track record in the past, but was correct that the old 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea area would become The Little Mermaid area, as well as the coming of the Figment update in 2002, and Mickey’s Philharmonic replacing The Lion King stage at the Magic Kingdom. But he also has reported rumors that have fizzled out, from the Beastly rollercoaster in the section of Animal Kingdom that never materialized to thinking Disney would open a whole new park for its 50th anniversary in 2021. To be fair, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is probably the end result of that rumor, and Pandora now sits where the Beastly Kingdom was meant to be. Just because a rumor doesn’t come true, doesn’t mean it wasn’t once an option.
Of course, if it turns out Mary Poppins is headed to Epcot, that may dishearten fans who were hoping another U.K. Pavilion expansion rumor was true: that Pixar’s Brave would soon occupy the empty space. Back in 2012, Scotland temporarily took up shop at Epcot, and the rumor of a more permanent attraction never quite went away. Combined with a wild rumor about a Loch Ness Monster ride, it seemed as if the U.K. Pavilion might add on Scotland to take advantage of integrating Disney IPs with the World Showcase. But perhaps there’s no need for competing rumors. The undeveloped land next to the current U.K. Pavilion combined is more than large enough to house both. And we all know that when choosing between two things, the answer is always both.