A surprise shift in entertainment scheduling has taken place around Walt Disney World with a one-night fireworks show now scheduled for a theme park that rarely launches such a nighttime show. Disney’s Hollywood Studios will feature a new fireworks show called “Rock the Night” on Thursday, January 19, 2012, at 7 p.m., just as regular park hours end and Extra Magic Hours begin.
The park was previously not scheduled to hold Extra Magic Hours for Walt Disney World resort hotel guests, but the perk was suddenly swapped away from Magic Kingdom with cast members told the goal was to pull guests away from that park on Thursday. Likewise, Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom will also have Extra Magic Hours, leaving Magic Kingdom as the only Walt Disney World park operating only with only regular hours that day.
UPDATE (1/17/12): White House officials have confirmed President Obama will indeed be making a visit to Walt Disney World on Thursday, confirming the reason for entertainment changes outlined amidst the previous speculation below. Specifics on the visit are not yet known, though he will be discussing the economy and will “unveil a strategy that will significantly help boost tourism and travel.”
The below text remains intact to preserve the original article, though it is no longer speculation.
So why has Walt Disney World made this change to their theme park calendar only a few days in advance? A major “event” of some sort is taking place in or around the Magic Kingdom on Thursday and Disney appears to be trying to draw visiting crowds to other theme parks. Unusually large numbers of parade audience control (PAC) shifts have been scheduled for the park through 3pm, but Disney hasn’t said exactly why they need to control crowds so carefully.
A few days ago, it was revealed by White House sources that President Obama will be making a return visit to Orlando on Thursday, but few other details of the visit were released. Obama will be discussing the economy – somewhere, at some time.
Presidential and political functions have been held at the Walt Disney World Resort in the past. A recent Democratic convention was held at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, featuring speaker Vice President Joe Biden. One of the most famous presidential appearances at that same hotel was President Richard Nixon’s 1973 “I’m not a crook” statement, delivered at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, just outside Magic Kingdom borders.
It is possible, though not announced, confirmed, or even hinted by the White House or Disney, that President Obama intends to visit Walt Disney World during his Orlando trip in a few days, perhaps hosting his economic talk at one of Disney’s resort hotels, like the Contemporary. That would certainly be a solid reason for Disney’s desire to entice guests away from the nearby Magic Kingdom that day with the promise of added entertainment elsewhere on property, to avoid transportation and safety issues surrounding the President’s security and the media that surely would be in attendance for the talk.
On the other hand, it could be that the Obama family desires a quick trip to Disney World. In June 2010, Michelle Obama and her children saw the nighttime World of Color show at Disney California Adventure performed especially for them. The First Lady has also been working closely with Disney to promote a Healthy Living initiative.
It’s also worth noting that President Obama has another engagement on Thursday, at a fund raiser at the famous Apollo Theater in New York, so his visit to Orlando will likely be during the day only – though his family could stay longer.
Regardless of the unconfirmed notions that President Obama and/or his family will be visiting Walt Disney World, there will indeed be a special fireworks show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on Thursday. That much is confirmed and certainly anticipated by fireworks fans who rarely get to see that theme park light up the sky at night.