Difficult times lie ahead, Bob...
You just have to face a choice between what it right, and what is easy...
It's good to be back in sunny, Southern California...
Remember when I said I was "Gone Phishing" last week? Well, I kinda was. I was in Florida and I've been very busy. I was spent some time at Walt Disney World with friends, spending a day at each park (and still enjoying Disney's Animal Kingdom most of all). But the main thing we all wanted to do was go to the competition. We enjoyed a nice day at Universal Studios, but then the next day we went to our actual destination and reason for going in the first place: Islands of Adventure. You know where this is going?
The Wizarding World of Harry.
To be specific, we wanted to see "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey." And that we did. First off I want to say that IOA is probably my favorite non-Disney theme park. It's probably the closest thing to a Disney Park in terms of details and theming, but it still falls short. But with the addition of "Forbidden Journey," they've made a huge leap toward parity. All of the park is very well laid out with nice touches and good details, but were the rest of the park to have to quality of the Harry Potter section then this would truly be a rival to the Mouse. It is a very detailed area, rivaling Animal Kingdom in the layering on of things that you have to pay attention to to notice. And the E-Ticket, if you could call it that, the main attraction, Forbidden Journey, is of a quality not seen lately by WDI in the states. It rivals Tokyo DisneySEA in terms of craftsmanship and standards, it's that good.
I want to thank Universal Creative (Universal Studios version Walt Disney Imagineering) for achieving this, it's truly a step up from anything that they've done before and if the future of their rides/attractions is like this then Disney is going to have to step up their game. The heat is on. And that's a really good thing. We should all thank these people and this attraction because without them and this marvelous ride, there wouldn't be all the construction going on in the back of Fantasyland. That 300 million dollar expansion of WDW was started specifically because the Suits were uneasy with the new opening at Universal. Competition is good. We all benefit from it. And if more people go see this and reward Universal, Disney starts to get even more worried and we might even see more TLC for Disney World. Again, a very good thing. The better these parks get, the more the Mouse will have to respond with the incredible details that enhance a guest's experience there.
Now, as to what they'll do? We'll have to wait and see how the response to this new experience unfolds. Don't expect anything relating to that four billion dollar purchase last year, though. Nothing is/will be planned in Florida for most likely the coming decade because of Universal's preexisting conditions with Disney's new adopted child. But there are plenty of things in the files of WDI over in Glendale that the Imagineers can pull out to use. If only they have the will to do so. A decade ago I wouldn't have any faith in the management at the time to have that vision or willingness to spend the bucks. At least now I know there is a chance and that we might see something like this come about. All you have to do is dream and have the desire to see those dreams through.
And we may have a teenage wizard to thank for it...
Monday, June 14, 2010
Posted by Honor Hunter at 4:53 PM
Labels: Harry Potter, Imagineering, IOA, Themeparks, Universal, Universal Creative, Universal Florida
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My guess is that the cool stuff for the rest of this decade will be popping up in California. Besides the DCA overhaul, isn't management pushing for a couple of new E-Tickets at Disneyland?
As long as they finish building out Animal Kingdom, they'll be gold.
I have some disagreements with your post. Having been to both TDS and The Wizarding World I think that in terms of rides The Forbidden Journey easily eclipses anything that any Disney Park has excluding length and nostalgia. However I think that as an immersive environment TDS also easily eclipses The Wizarding World. When you emerge from Hogsmeade and look towards the castle the white showbuilding is clearly in view and there are two (!) unthemed roller coasters that take you above the park and providing views to the Muggle World that shatter any immersion that the (wonderful) queues had provided.
TDS has an unthemed roller coaster too. So does Disneyland for that matter, in the sense that there's no attempt to cover up the track and pretend it's a bobsled ride or a mine train or something.
I've only been to TDS, and that park is pretty hard to beat. Nevertheless, I look forward to visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. IOA is a great park, so this will only make me love it more.
Animal Kingdom is a bust. I've been to WDW 4 times, and each time I spent less and less time in AK. What does it have? Some showy buildings, a lame dinosaur park and dark ride, and everything else is just an elaborate Zoo. Well, there are plenty of elaborate zoos in the U.S.A., so big deal. Throw in the Everest ride with its non-functioning Yeti, and AK can safely be termed a failed attraction. What's needed is for Disney to bring back, full force, Beastly Kingdom. If it hadn't been stupid enough to dump Narnia, that story could have provided a good framework for the dragons, unicorns and other fantasy creatures that BK was supposed to have. But even without Narnia, a park based around fantasy creatures - if it's done right - could possibly present some rivalry to Potter. And here's another idea: maybe with that new Oz film in the pipeline, Disney could do what other companies have tried and failed to do - most notably a company in Kansas a few years back: build an Oz theme park. It would only really work if the park were tied into the film in some way, of course - maybe Disney could partner with MGM, for REAL this time?
I'm in the small minority who do not like Haryy Potter. So this doesn't interest me in the slightest. The ride looks kinda cool, but nothing I'd go run and see. If anything, this will make Disney step up their game.
To say IOA rivals TDS is like saying there's no competition in the USA and especially in Florida and California.
Let's face facts, Disney has let its fans down. WDW is just a mess. I've been there. The parks have not been maintained. Just dirty. The rides are outdated. Disney has allowed itself to be overtaken by Universal in ride attractions. Nothing by Disney is better than Spiderman, and now it has to face Harry Potter.
Even after DCA's extreme makeover, it still won't be better than Harry Potter. The new Cars ride is just a Test Track rehash. Going back to DCA's Tower of Terror, it was a miserable downgrade from the original. Shorter and less suspenseful. The story was completely lost.
TDS is great, but did you know Disney doesn't allow OLC to advertise the resort outside of Japan?
Knock it off, Anonymous!
Jesus Christ, you no-lifes seem to hate EVERYTHING that Disney does, no matter what it may be.
It's obvious to me that none of you will EVER be happy or pleaased, no matter what, so just move on and let those of us who actually do still appreciate Disney have our fun.
"Knock it off, Anonymous"? Are you talking to yourself? :)
Having just visited DisneySea, I'm a little saddened that we can't have the same mind-blowing scale and detail in the U.S. parks. But I disagree with a lot that's being said on here.
Disneyland is still my favorite park, and I think that California Adventure will be a great destination once everything is done. Don't blast Radiator Springs Racers until you see it, guys. Journey to the Center of the Earth also uses the Test Track ride system.
I think WDW management in Florida has a challenge ahead of them. Heck, I think they have competition with California, since it appears more and more of the cool ideas are being built over there.
"no matter what" ???? Huh???
False, I already said Universal is the best in the US. TDS, while exceptional, still does not have anything comparable to Harry Potter and the Spiderman ride.
I will be satisfied with Disney if they will make a breakthrough ride, but its highly unlikely for this year and many years into the future. The plans are well documented into this decade.
I am happy to know Disney is trying to please their customer, which does necessarily mean they will attempt surpass their expectations.
How can you judge an entire theme park off 2 rides? Besides those rides, Universal more or less is a glorified Six Flags. The themeing is subpar and the rides are either made for kids or adults (rarely inbetween). Not to mention, you can see the show building from inside Harry Potter Land. That sure is great theming!
That doesn't really compare all the richly themed and pretty cool family rides at Disneyland.
I have been to both TDS and TDL a number of times and they absolutely have rides "comparable" to the Spiderman Ride, just not the exact same thing. I haven't ridden Harry Potter just yet, so I can't comment on that, but I will say that Universal pushing the envelope is good all around. It will keep Disney and the rest of the industry on it's toes. Disney has made breakthrough rides in the past - they started the industry we know today in Orlando - they can't do it every year. This is Universal's turn. Disney will be next.
"A glorified Six Flags"? Really, PirateGuy 815? It's OK if you don't like Universal. Not everyone does. But I wouldn't go as far as comparing their theme parks to a poorly run chain of amusement parks. Six Flags or Cedar Fair don't build attractions like Harry Potter, Spider-Man, the Mummy, MIB, the Simpsons Ride or the Jurassic Park River Adventure. Six Flags and Cedar Fair build rides, most of them off-the-shelf.
Just because you can see the show building for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey doesn't make everything that Universal builds total crap.
As for the claims that the Tokyo Disney Resort doesn't have technology on the level of Harry Potter, have you been on Pooh's Honey Hunt? I want that in the U.S.!
What TDS ride is comparable to Spiderman? I don't think TDS has anything comparable. Otherwise, people would have said so.
To be compable, it has to be similar in ride experience that combines 3D screens, special effects, and a track.
To say its not the exact same thing is rather meaningless. All rides are different in story and characters just like all coasters are different. None are the same.
Disney has a limited range of tricks. It hasn't really pushed the envelop for a long time. It seems like all their money went into the ride vehicles and little went into theming and story... Test Track for instance or Space or Dinosaur, all have weak execution. Indiana Jones was great when introduced, but it didn't exactly hold up after all these years.
By comparable I meant level of show, and TDS definitely produces. I agree the show level of Test Track lacks in execution, but the US parks don't seem to be on the same execution level as the overseas ones. Just a question as I'm interested in your opinion- if Disney had replicated the Spiderman ride system with it's own show and story right after Spiderman came out, do you think the general public would have considered it a knockoff? It may be a situation where Disney would end up criticized again, even when trying to compete.
Disney (or OLC if you wanna get technical) HAS been pushing the envelope, not sure why we don't follow suit here in the US, except I assume for money reasons. I still think that the ride system used in Indie/Dinosaur holds up, but I agree it's time to move forward.
Universal has been chasing the rodents tail ever since Eisner was running Paramount and gave them the shaft for the proposed Universal/Paramount Studios park in Orlando.
Eisner knew he was going to Disney and exercised his typical code of ethics (or lack thereof) by snaking the concept over to Disney/MGM Studios.
UIOA was intended to knock Disney off of the throne in Florida. I worked on several of the FX systems for Spiderman, Popeye, Ripsaw and Jurassic and was like a kid on Xmas eve when I had the priviledge of studying the park's design. But the suits being suits just couldn't resist cutting corners in the final stretch, leaving significant holes in the overall park experience as well as "nickel & diming" most of their vendors (including us) into bankruptcy. I was convinced then that Universal will never gain any ground on Disney.
When I later worked at WDI and TDS, I encountered an unbelieveable amount of arrogance and contempt directed towards themselves, each-other and, more shockingly, at the guests & customers. This is the true definition of the Eisner era which was typified by the word around campus that ToT for DCA was referred to as "Tower of Terror Lite". THIS after they were supposedly grounded by DCA's horrible opening.
By the time I left, my disgust with both companies and their theme park operations was so profound that I couldn't even consider myself a theme park fan anymore. With these recent developments, I dare harbor a sliver of hope that things may be changing.
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