The permits for the TRON attraction also included the nearby theater, however there has been no indication that the project is also moving forward. Then late last week, WDWMagic.com reported that the project was put on indefinite hold. Within hours, other local Disney news sites were saying their own sources had confirmed that the project was all but canceled.
Rumors point to a budget issue stalling the project that was within weeks of breaking ground. Word is that as the project began materializing the decision came down to shift the budget to projects that can be better marketed. The theater, while giving the Magic Kingdom its first indoor theater for large-scale, Broadway-style productions, isn’t that different than productions that take place daily in the Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios; as such the marketing of the new theater would be difficult.
The estimated $200 million that was earmarked for the project is rumored to now being shifted to other projects that can be better marketed and finished in time for the 50th Anniversary in 2021. This limits the scale of possibilities, but the former Moana-powered coaster that was
Other possibilities include using the funds for a more in-depth remodel to Tomorrowland, that would consist of a TRON update to the Speedway, a replacement for the recently closed Stitch attraction, and a full reskinning of the land, including the removal of the Factory Pomo design that the area was given in 1994.
The Tomorrowland update has been rumored long before any mention of TRON, but the TRON concept art does seem to indicate that the update will take place.
Last year, when the concept art was released, many expected the update to take place across Tomorrowland in phases with the Space Mountain and TRON corner being the only section to get the update ahead of the 50th Anniversary.
There have been other rumored reasons for the canceled theater. Some point to concerns about crowd control, something that Disney surely realized long before having the project ready to break ground. Others have pointed to how stable the land in the area might be. The location of the theater is an employee parking lot. A lot that has been there since the park opened in 1971. The land, while close to other buildings, could be unfit for such a massive project. This rumor does align with ones stating that a theater might still be the in the works for the Magic Kingdom, just in a different location. One of the few other locations in the park that would fit such a large theater would be Adventureland across the train tracks. Hong Kong Disneyland has a similar theater in its Adventureland. Or in the Storybook Circus section of Fantasyland. That location currently houses the second largest gift shop in the park in what was initially a temporary building that has remained in the park for more than three decades. Those initial temporary structures did receive an update as part of the New Fantasyland project, which was finished a few years ago.
Disney has yet to confirm any change in status for the theater project, but if the rumors are true, we should find something out within the next few weeks.