Thursday, August 2, 2007
Future Fun Factories...
When will Disneyland get its Third Gate?
When will Walt Disney World finally build a Fifth Gate?
When will Disneyland Paris decide to build its own Third Gate?
When will Hong Kong Disneyland burst through the berm and construct a Second Gate?
When will the Tokyo Disney Resort reveal its Third Gate plans?
Truthfully, there are no solid answers to these questions. Not because they won't or couldn't happen... because they inevitably will... but it would be like wanting to read the final chapter of the new Harry Potter before the opening paragraph.
So I guess we should have a little discussion as to the current status of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and the theme parks and resorts that it will build in the coming years. Theme parks or as a friend referred to them: "Fun Factories" are an expensive endeavor and as you've seen over the last few years it takes a while for a company like Disney to swallow hard and fork out the cash.
Those five questions I asked about future Gates? The only solid answer to that is the next decade. Through the latter part of this decade we'll look forward to shoring up the state-side parks(DCA in particular), Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland will focus on expanding their current offerings before any plans get approved for more fun factories. Think of it as repairing a fleet of cars that have been abused for a decade before you go out and buy a new series of cars. Lots of refurbishment and expansion ahead of us friends...
I'd say that until DCA's tenth anniversary in 2011 we won't hear anything about a Third Gate in Anaheim. There are blue sky plans going on right now for a third, but it will be years before anything solid is announced. For the next few years the resort that Eisner wanted to turn into a mini version of the Florida property will finally get the resources to actually make that come to fruition. With The expansion of DCA, new hotels, expansion of DD, New night shows and parades, we have a busy time ahead of us... there is simply too much on TDA's hands to announce a Third Gate in the middle of this. I'd be surprised if we hear anything until 2012 at the earliest. That puts a new fun factory opening no earlier than 2014 I believe.
It appears that as we get seriously focused on the Anaheim property, the mistakes of over growth in WDW will begin to be addressed. While it is true that Disneyland is getting the majority of the care over the next few years, Uncle John is going to focus on getting Orlando headed on a more cohesive direction. A lot of people are worried about the appointment of Tom Fitzgerald to the post overseeing WDW(sans DAK of course), but with Lasseter looking over his shoulder I don't think everything will turn into 3-D Land. It's just going to start after projects in Anaheim are further into construction. This will mean that WDW will be moving about two to three years behind the Disneyland property. So any new fun factory will likely not be there before the middle of the next decade. Perhaps 2015 at the earliest, but 2016 or so later. The blue sky plans for this resort have been worked on, but most designs are on the back burner for now. If the economy expands more than it does right now things might change, but the WDW property is considered fully developed at this time. If you want a sign as to when more expansion is going to happen then watch the occupancy rates at the Resorts. When they start approaching Disneyland levels(above 90 percent) then you'll see the executives in Team Disney Burbank start putting those blue sky plans on the front burner.
The European Resort is having a great year and if it continues into next year then the resort will be getting the much needed attention that people have been hoping. The focus will be on expanding and layering more detailed theming on WDSP so that come 2012 the park will have a dramatically more appealing experience for the guest. Any plans for a Third Gate are way off. While Anaheim is in the blue sky phase, Paris hasn't even focused on that much development. Once the Studios get to a credible level there could be proposals, but not that is far off. Should the European economy keep going and the Paris Resort getting at least the level of attendance it has now then we can expect ideas to start surfacing the early part of the next decade. No third Gate is expected for DLRP though, until the latter part of next decade.
Disney's newest and smallest Resort has much growing up to do before it gets a little sister. Now that being said, it won't be waiting until Paris gets its new Gate. Truthfully, blue sky plans have been going on for HKDL since its concept development. Since there was plans for a "Phase Two" of the area, Disney's intentions have always been to have another park across the Esplanade. Once HK gets filled out a little more with the Adventureland expansion that comes in a few years the plans will start to solidify more. Don't expect an announcement until early next decade though... as we've said in some of our "Blue Sky Alerts", Disney is in the process of leveraging a better deal for itself. As we get closer to the 2013 date news should start to be released as that is the "put up or shut up" year. Bob Iger has major growth plans so don't think that the initial disappointment Disney had means a pull back. Disney wants to tap all those potential Chinese guest. Don't worry about Shanghai putting a damper on HKDL's growth either... when that park finally gets the go ahead there will be plenty of room between the two Resorts. If North America can have two Resorts in a nation of 300 million people, China can have two parks in a nation of over 1 billion...
There are no current plans to add a Third Gate at Tokyo Disney Resort. Someday there may be a Third Gate for TDR, but at this time there are no plans for more land fill... at least not in the next decade. Things can always change since we're talking about the Oriental Land Company which spends enormous amounts of cash with its deep pockets. There are plans for a Third Gate in Japan, though. It's just not going to be in Tokyo. There are several sights that the OLC is looking at. This Gate will not be the same as the other two in the sense that it will be mainly be an indoor park along the lines of Jay Rasulo's Urban Entertainment Centers. This site will be seen sometime around 2011 or 2012 depending on plans being drawn up now.
Hope that give you some idea as to Disney's road plan for the next decade. It should be thought of as a guide post and not as a road map that cannot be altered. Plans will change depending on events or situations that happen over the next decade... but this should give fans a better perspective of what could await us in the future.