Refurbishment season at Walt Disney World is in the air again, but this time, one of the most popular rides at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is now open after a long refurbishment in 2023.
From time to time Disney needs to close down its rides in order to service them and give them the maintenance they need. We hate when it happens, but we have to live with it if we want our favorite attractions to keep running smoothly.
(UPDATE) – The fan-favorite Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster in Disney’s Hollywood Studios reopened from refurbishment on May 26, 2023. It had closed on February 21, 2023, in what ended up being a multi-month refurb.
There was some confusion when the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster first reopened from refurbishment during Memorial Day weekend. First, it opened, then it temporarily closed again, and many were reporting that it opened prematurely and it would be closing again.
That, however, is not the case. As of May 31, 2023, the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster has reopened and is staying open for good.
Disney has removed all traces of the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster refurbishment from its website and current operating hours are now listed once again, and published through July 2023. It’s even on the list of attractions available at upcoming Disney After Hours events and for Early Theme Park Entry.
What Has Changed?
The quick answer is not much. There was a lot of speculation that Disney was changing the theme of the ride to something else and that Aerosmith would no longer be associated with the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
That however has not happened at this point and probably won’t happen anytime soon (more on that in a minute).
A general refurbishment took place focused on the launch system and general maintenance. In the past couple of years, the attraction had been experiencing more downtime than normal, so it’s likely that Disney was working on whatever issues were behind the downtime.
How Long was Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Closed?
Right now Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster was expected to reopen in the Summer of 2023, and as long as it is definitely staying open, it came in on the early side of that original prediction. Summer starts for many on Memorial Day weekend, and we are surprised that Disney was able to get it up and running so quickly.
Originally, Disney didn’t give a specific date at this time. However, after seeing the construction permits, we thought it would take longer than most refurbishments.
The two permits that were filed have expiration dates on September 7 and September 14. Along with that, the involvement of one of the companies, Adena Corporation which specializes in coaster tracks, suggests that the work is extensive.
Disney’s official website originally stated that Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster “will return in “Summer 2023”, which also technically did coincide with the September permit expirations. However, with Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster back up and running, it’s nice to see Disney finished early for once.
In fact, Disney is notorious for giving reopening dates for attraction refurbishments and then postponing the date to a later time, making this refurbishment all the more surprising.
Is the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Changing Theme?
*Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster has reopened without any significant changes, but here is some of the previous speculation around the ride changing themes…
Ever since the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster opened in 1998, guests have been jamming out to the tunes of Aerosmith as they looped and twisted their way to the concert. But according to the latest rumors, that all might be changing soon.
These rumors come from Ken Marino, an actor from the original pre-show for the ride who appeared on a recent episode of ‘Office Hours Live’ on YouTube. During this interview, he said that Aerosmith will be replaced with Queen as the theme of the popular Hollywood Studios attraction.
He quickly changed his tune in a recent tweet about the interview when he said: “I have no idea what they are changing it to. Some one said that to me at some point so then I said it. It was more of rumor than anything else I suppose. Maybe it’s gonna be the new Billie Holiday ride. Could be good.”
So far Disney has always denied rumors of a theme change to the ride, but with the ride expected to be down longer than originally planned, could there be something to this change?
We know that rumors of Disney removing Aerosmith from the ride and retheming it to some Disney IP have been going on for years now, but now it looks more and more possible due to allegations against frontman Steven Tyler. It wouldn’t surprise us to know that Disney would like to take the ride in a different direction.
Even before the latest scandal, there is the fact that Aerosmith was very popular when the ride first opened in 1998, but it’s no secret that they are not exactly the most popular group with today’s young people.
In fact, many fans were already hoping for a complete overhaul of the ride before this latest rumor. Could some other Disney IP be moving in its place?
Without a complete overhaul of the ride, Disney could move in another music group like Queen, as Marino initially suggested. We have to admit, we love the idea of blasting off to “Having a Good Time,” the lyrics work so well for this attraction.
While Queen or a similar group could be a good fit, our guess is it’s probably not happening right now and these are only rumors. Sure, the rumors of a theme change here seem more likely than ever, but we have to see more to really take it seriously.
We have to think that even though Ken Marion had a small role in the original pre-show for the ride, at this point he may not be connected to the situation at all and he likely doesn’t know Disney’s real plan for the attraction (if there are any).
Disney has not mentioned exactly what work they are doing on Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and there is no word of it being anything except regular maintenance (though the construction permits suggest it’s a little more than that). These types of refurbishments are normal in Walt Disney World and are necessary to keep the rides running properly.
What we are most worried about is how this will continue to affect wait times in Hollywood Studios. This was already one of the parks with the fewest rides and longest wait times. Removing one of the most popular rides has not helped.
After this news, we expect Spring Break and Easter 2023 to be even more crowded than usual at Hollywood Studios.
We’ll be sure to update you with more details on the project as soon as they are released, especially if there is something new coming to the ride.
This is just one of many refurbishments Disney has announced or finished in recent weeks. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was closed in January 2023 for a time, as well as Kali River Rapids in January 2023. Both have since reopened.
Also, the Walt Disney World Railroad just reopened in December 2022. It was closed for 4 years to make room for the TRON roller coaster which is opening in April. It’s nice to finally have it back at least!
In EPCOT, the American Adventure attraction also just reopened after being closed for a few months for a regular maintenance.
We’ll keep you updated on the refurbishment of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and let you know if there are any big changes to announce or if some new IP is coming to the attraction.
Check out our Walt Disney World refurbishments page for more details on all the closures and stay tuned here at Ziggy Knows Disney for more…
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My name is Ziggy and I love Disney, everything Disney! I grew up on Disney and it has and continues to be a huge part of my life. I started young when my parents took me to Disney World when I was 18 months old. Little did they know that would be the first of an uncountable number of trips we would take. I have so many amazing memories going to Disney with my family and friends and it has been interwoven into my DNA.