Monday, August 25, 2008
Happenstance (Part One)...
"The sky's the limit right now... We haven't had this kind of positive feeling around here in well over a decade." - A Bothan from deep inside the bowels of WDI
I thought I'd take a bit of time and go over(in summary) exactly how the Disney Empire of theme parks could/would look in a few years time...
If you're a regular reader of this blog then you'll have noticed I've mentioned a lot about 2011. "There goes that year again..." is a statement I've said in many of my updates that people have wondered about. Well, it's truthfully "2011/2012" because a lot of things won't be done when that year is done and over. But it is an important time for the Mouse and should the economy keep going some, if not most of what I say will come to pass...
Let's travel the globe, shay we? Starting in our own backyard...
In the place where it all started we'll find the most activity. Come 2012 the Disneyland Resort will still look much as it does today. There will be some changes that are obvious. Like the New hotel(not necessarily a Disneyland Hotel) that Disney is operating. There should be at least one other hotel under construction by then(maybe two). Downtown Disney will be almost twice as large if expansion plans have moved forward by next year. The Resort's Second Gate should look dramatically different in 2012. The small, little McPark that Eisner and Pressler put together will still have problems(which will start to be fixed in Phase 2 starting in 2013, economy upholding), but for the most part it's going to be a much more "Disney" experience. As everything keeps changing, one thing that has bothered Disney Fans all along will finally go down in 2011... Malibooomer. That's right, it's not leaving next year as some have thought. It's going to be one of the last things removed before construction finishes on this phase of the resort.
The new theming and attractions, particularly "The Little Mermaid" should be bringing them in creating long, long lines(the center room in Mermaid is almost as big as the entire Golden Dreams building!). But in 2012, when the Cars Land(please change that name!)opens up this park is going to see crowds like it has never, ever had. It will truly make this park a destination of its own. The fact that it's 20% of the park when it opens up alone will create a dramatic difference for those entering the gates. Most who showed up on DCA's opening day will find most of the park unrecognizable. All who show up will find everything more enjoyable.
The park that started it all should see the Star Tours update done in time for the anniversary in 2010, while plans for a remake of Tomorrowland won't be done by then, the plans should have already begun to be completed by the 2012 time frame. Another E-Ticket is in line to be built by then, but hasn't gotten to an approval phase so I don't know which ideas will make it through the Blue Sky phase yet. Rest assured, what is proposed will dazzle Disney Fans/Geeks far more than anything proposed during Pressler's tenure.
Once all this is done and the Resort is firing on all cylinders then, and only then, will the embryonic focus on a Third Gate move forward.
Across the country in that humid jungle known as Florida, the Walt Disney Resort will look somewhat different as well, just not as dramatic.
In the Magic Kingdom, work on the renovation of Fantasyland will have been completed. Should all the proposals get approved the area will look quite different from today. At the very least the addition of the Little Mermaid ride will have visitors to WDW experiencing something they haven't seen before and giving this park the most amount of new attractions it's had since opening in 1971.
Epcot will be receiving at least one new E-Ticket by 2012, but my Bothans say that the choice hasn't been finalized yet and we may see a couple smaller tickets as well. There are proposals to add at least one new Pavilions by this time should attendance at the parks continue to remain at current levels.
The park getting the most love and attention, of course will be Disney's Hollywood Studios. Although the amount of money is a little more than half of what DCA is getting it will be put to use giving this park a more definite theming change than any other. Gone will be the Studio Tram Tour(it leaves by 2010), and in its place will be an expanded "Monstrously Big" Pixar Place. The park should have it's own updated version of Disneyland's Star Tours revision up and running by then. There is at least one new E-Ticket that's slated for construction and several smaller attractions. An update is planned for the Great Movie Ride and at this time there is the possibility of a new E-Ticket based on a very big film to combat Universal's opening of Harry Potter. You didn't think they were sitting around twiddling their thumbs, did you? Alas, no news yet as to if/when they will remove the Hat from in front of the GMR. Not that I hate the hat, I hate the placement... it blocks view of the parks one true weenie. Here's hoping it gets moved by then to a, uhm.... more appropriate(new) location.
By 2012, Disney's Animal Kingdom should have the area for that the Pocahontas show replaced up and running, delighting many a fan with the new theming that's been put around this new attraction. Hopefully, by then plans will have gone forward with moving the Lion King show where it really belongs: Africa. There is supposed to be one new E-Ticket in addition to this and talk of a new land to buttress the current Asia and Africa is well, progressing...
All those rumors you've heard about a Fifth Gate are True. While I don't think this strategy would work at Disneyland, it should do well here where there are many more international travellers willing to fork over that kind of cash. When Disney's Jungle Trek(a name I don't like, btw) opens it will cater to a more discriminating clientele(read: loaded). Almost like a luxury extension of DAK, it will offer fans of this wild kingdom a little closer look at the uhm... well, wild.
Across the pond, Disney's European Kingdom will be experiencing a much needed growth as well. After the upswing in attendance and growth from the fifteenth anniversary of Disneyland Paris, things have never been brighter.
The original European Mouse park, Disneyland Paris is scheduled to receive it's own additions by 11/12 and it shows that the "If you build it, they will come" principle works. The Paris resort has had a great year and the additions to the WDS have really helped that. Four years from now we may no longer be talking about this park losing money, it may actually turn a profit for a change. I know that's a funny thing to say, isn't it? But people are asking about Disneyland Paris and when/if it will get a new attraction...
There are several proposals right now and it appears that there will be at least one D-Ticket or possibly an E-Ticket by the time it celebrates the twentieth anniversary. I know that many people are focused on getting a version of the Indiana Jones ride, but my Bothans don't see that happening(not impossible, just improbable). If it does wind up being Indy there's going to have to be a redressing of the Indiana Jones roller coaster as WDI and park management have no desire to have two attractions in one park focusing on the same theme. The most probable ticket would be in the expansion of Fantasyland with a certain clone of a clone that I'm selfishly against(remember?)... Should the good times keep rolling expect the E-Ticket to get the nod. There are several projects in the Blue Sky phase and nothing is permanent so we won't know for another year or so what they'll approve... so your "Guest" is as good as mine...
Most of the focus on the resort will be Paris' Second Gate because it is the Walt Disney Company's weakest park. Most of what we see over the next few years will be on bringing this park closer to the detail of Disneyland Paris. This is a hard problem since the DLP park is so rich in detail compared to its ugly sister park. WDI has several attractions planned for WDS, with at least two C/D Tickets definitely planned for the next few year and one really nice E-Ticket(possibly another).
The one ride I can tell you that the park is getting for sure is the one that's been most discussed. The "Ratatouille" attraction is coming. It's going to be a very nice ticket, with technology similar to the "Pooh's Huny Hunt" attraction's "trackless" vehicles in Tokyo. Guest will be involved in a chase right out of the film... many have talked about this being a clone of the Crush Coaster, but the attraction will not involve drops so much as it will twists and turns. And it will be a highly detailed attraction(The beautiful queue alone will be amazingly cool!), which used to be a rare thing to say about a Disney attraction in the late 90's, but will become common over the next four years. As well as this there is talk of expanding the Pixarification throughout the park, specifically an area of the park devoted exclusively to the Lamp's creations. I know this will please many of you that complain about that in the domestic parks, but you have to remember Pixar is now a part of Disney and it will reflect so in the attractions we see at the parks both here and abroad.
By the time we see the twentieth anniversary of this park comes around the complaints we have about the Paris Resort will be mostly answered... mostly.
Later this week I'll have part two of this report focusing on Asia. It's an interesting time for the Mouse and its world... Stay tuned.