Disney World Ride to Undergo Lengthy Refurbishment, Closure in 2023

Those visiting Walt Disney World Resort in 2023 may not get a chance to ride the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster as it undergoes some serious maintenance. According to a report by All Ears, the attraction will be closed starting on Feb. 20, 2023, and is scheduled to continue until "summer 2023." The reason listed for the closure is "heavy refurbishment."

The Rock 'n' Roller Coaster is an enclosed roller coaster at Disney World's Hollywood Studios. It launches riders from the ground at a base that looks like an electric guitar, while the neck extends into the long track of a thrill ride. Its full name is the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, as it plays recordings of the band's music throughout the ride. It first opened in the summer of 1999, but it has already undergone changes since then.

In 2015, the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster was adapted to suit a promotional event for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The Aerosmith-related trappings were replaced with Star Wars-themed additions. This stunt was repeated in the spring of 2017.

Meanwhile, a second, identical version of the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster was installed at Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris, France in 2002. However, that ride was heavily overhauled in 2019 to be replaced with an attraction called Avengers Assemble: Flight Force. There's no word yet on how Disney World in Orlando, Florida intends to change its Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, but it seems safe to say that brands like Marvel and Star Wars are more valuable to Disney these days than a collaboration with Aerosmith.

Whatever the plan is, a lengthy closure will inevitably be disappointing for many Disney World visitors next year, and that could always be risky for the park itself. Theme parks around the world have struggled to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic – not just because of public health concerns but because of economic troubles forcing customers to tighten their purse strings. On top of that, the air travel disasters currently plaguing the U.S. are likely to make some people weary of risking a long trip to Orlando in the first place.

On top of all that, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has put more restrictions on Disney World than it has faced in decades, and more may be coming. The park will need to start complying with oversight from the state starting in June of 2023. There's no telling whether the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster will be reopened by then.