Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Blue Sky Buzz: Pixar's Place In Disney's World...

I got time...


Let me tell you a story...

Two actually.  A tale really.  The tale of two, possible future worlds.  One is what the vision of Suits have for this world, and the other is what Creatives want for this world.  You see the see the Suits see only profit and opportunity.  The Creatives see ideas as the real treasure.  The trick is finding somewhere in the middle.  In a balanced world, the Creatives will find a way to prove to the Suits that their vision is what is needed, and creating something just for the sake of dollar signs isn't actually good for the bottom line in the end, as it diminishes what the Founder successfully created that made his company so profitable.

Translation is, originality and thinking outside the box to give the guest what they didn't know they wanted was how Walt Disney blazed his path to create a company that is now the pinnacle of, and largest deliverer of entertainment in the world.

This tale is of the Disney World part of that world.

There is a lot going on in that Florida haven right now.  Construction of the Fantasyland Expansion, the continued work on expansion of Disney's Animal Kingdom with the fantasy animal park coming to fruition with the "Avatar" land, and most importantly, the addition and bringing new life into Disney's Hollywood Studios that will happen in the next few years.

This park has been waining over the past decade+.  It has lost focus on what it is and where it is going.  It's in the process of trying to find what it is trying to entertain guests with, to tell who it is really.  It's beginning to shake off the narrative that it is the Mouse's alternative to Universal Studios and now trying to figure out what film experience it wants to tell to everyone entering it's gate.  While DAK is expanding to a full day park with the myth element (albeit, a sci-fi mythical creatures design, not a fantasy mythical creature design) of the park, DHS is now planning on moving away from being a movie "tour" park, and being a movie "experience" park.

I have great hope for Walt Disney World.  With the hiring of George Kalogridis, the languishing quality of WDW will finally be addressed.  The lower standards that are accepted there as the norm will hopefully, slowly be replaced by what we expect in a Disney Experience.  Kalogridis is a nuts and bolts guy, so we should expect operations, and quality to be made a much more prominent focus over the next few years.  If you're unhappy with what you get there, please make sure you let guest relations know so that it reaches Team Disney Orlando.  It has a much better chance of getting addressed with George now in charge.

Now, back to that vision thing.  Here's what the dilemma is.  Right now, actually the last few months of last year and into the new year, the company has been working with the decision of what path to move forward with on the expansion of Hollywood Studios.  You see everyone loves success since it's so elusive in business.  In a world where profit is king, you want to replicate what works.  In Burbank's case, this means clone it.  Duplicate it.  Copy it and hope lightning strikes twice, or even three times.  Such is the case with Cars Land, which is the single most profitable creation for the parks in twenty years.   The easy answer for the Suits is to clone it, the more difficult answer from the Creatives is to recreate what made it successful.

I'm sure you've read all the rumors floating around the Internet about cloning Cars Land down in Florida.  How it's going to go where the old Hollywood Backlot Area is and expand the Pixar Place area of the park.  This is partially true.  The Pixar Place area is where Imagineers expect to create the expansion of the park that I refer to, mainly at least.  But therein lies the fight.

One path is that one.  To clone Cars Land and expand the Pixar Place and give it a much grander imprint in the Hollywood Studios park.  The shadow of the Lamp will fall heavily on this gate if that choice is the direction they head.  It'll be destined to be a hit just like out here in California.  There will be no shortage of demands if the land is announced, with its immersive theming and escapist fun that literally draws you into an animated world.  This would make the Studio Backlot an inviting plot of real estate to put this WDI creation.  Instant hit: just add three years of construction, hundreds of millions of dollars, and in 2015 you'll have a swarm of people descend on the Florida resort for the experience we have out here.

Then there is the alternative.

Expand the Pixar Place, but not with a clone.  Imagine that?  Now what would/could it consist of?  Well, the area as pitched would have several other Pixar character creations.  This lists rings like a laundry list of the last decades hits for Disney animation via Emeryville.  Nemo ideas, lots of Toy Story ideas thrown around (including several attractions out of the "Toy Story Land" areas in Paris and Hong Kong), even talk of a Ratatouille clone like the one being built at Walt Disney Studios Paris (not likely, though, but not impossible).  But the new E-Ticket surrounding all of these minor C and D Ticket attractions would be something better.  Something incredible even.

Yes, that pun was intentional.  The proposal, which wasn't a done deal when I talked to my Bothans near the beginning of the year, would involve the Brad Bird creation.  If the Mouse decides to go the non-clone route, the largest part of the expansion would be an attraction based on "The Incredibles" film.

It's not the same one that was going to go into DCA when they were scrambling for something to stop the bleeding and the laughter, but it is a project that is designed to take you into the idealized world that Bird created where Supers were very real.  This one would feature cutting edge technology, with animatronics and possible 3D/4D effects that rival anything done with Cars or the new Ratatouille ride.

It's part of what Lasseter wanted with each park having its own original creations.  Attractions to make you want to travel to different parks for different reasons.  Imagine that?  The plan was to have two or three C-Tickets, budget permitting of course, and a large E-Ticket based on this film to define the entire area as a fully immersive experience of Pixar's imaginative stories.  A Pixar land so to speak.  Will that happen?  It's a matter of numbers, time and justification of money that comes down to a battle of Suits and Creatives trying to figure what will be best.  Cloning?  Or creativity?  So which side will win?

We'll likely find out what the answer is to that question sometime later this year...

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

I see Disney World at a major crossroads. After a recent visit (I figured I'd stay 3 or 4 nights after a recent Disney cruise out of Canaveral), I've realized that I can no longer be a part of the mediocrity that plagues the resort as a whole. Operationally it's a nightmare (I've never seen so many malfunctioning show elements), and creatively it's even more abysmal (Avatar Land, really?). Management clearly doesn't get it, and if they decide to go with a half budgeted (you know it will be) Cars land clone over something new and innovative (and yes, probably more expensive), it will show that they still don't understand why Aneheim's DCA additions were so successful in the first place. I've realized that my money is better spent elsewhere in the Disney empire, and until Disney gets the hint (lower hotel occupancy rates and park attendance figures), the level of mediocrity inherent at WDW will continue. While I have guarded hope that things CAN improve, I don't know if the corporate culture in Florida will allow it to.

Brian said...

Really been missing Blue Sky Buzz. Thanks so much Honor!


Really, really, really, REALLY hope creativity wins. Carsland works because it is amazing, not because it is Cars. Spread some of the magic to other properties!

Anonymous said...

Maybe the next ten years should be spent refreshing what they've got, rather than building fresh. Seeing these parks decay is the hardest part of all this, and makes looking forward to new stuff harder than it has to be.

Mermaid is nice and all, but it's surrounded by really aging rides and facilities... it's really embarrassing for the #1 park in worldwide attendance to look that shabby in places. I would even argue that it's time to put some classics to bed on the East Coast (Small World, Carousel of Progress, Indy Speedway, Peter Pan, Tiki Room, maybe even Jungle Cruise) in favor of new imaginings (leave the originals in Disneyland). The alternative is to upkeep these classics, which seems beyond them.

Anonymous said...

You mentioned nothing about the Monsters Inc darkride or coaster. Is that not part of what may be Pixar Place. I pray there is nothing about Nemo - WDW has Nemo overload!

Dave said...

Dear Disney, Please Come out with unique rides!!!(Incredibles would be so much fun) I finally have a reason to spend more than 1 day in California and I don't want it to go away.

Sincerely, Dave

Honor, Great article!

Kenneth Elliott said...

This is turning into what I was fearing.

"Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there [are films by Pixar] left in the world."

Personally, I would like to see originality that has nothing to do with Lasseter's world. Remember, Walt didn't base everything on a movie.

Anonymous said...

Darn. Now I'm excited about a world where Hollywood Studios has a great Pixar themed area to compliment its other greatly themed parts. I would really want this to be reality. This would make me go back there on vacation in a heartbeat. Please Disney make this happen.

Anonymous said...

What I didn't see you mention was Monsters Inc. The rumors I've seen always include the door coaster or a dark ride. Or, are they saving the Monsters Inc. characters for a Darker place? Also, you mentioned Nemo ideas. I hope these are original ideas and not the Crush Coaster from France.

Jviddy said...

I haven't had the chance to visit cars land but from what I've read the main thing that makes it great isn't the attractions.

Harry potters journey is an amazing ride but its not why everyone crowds into islands of adventure.

The thing that links these two major developments is the theming. It's the total immersion in the world of the story.

The problem I see with a Pixar land is that it could easily end up being a bunch of fun rides with fairly dull concrete paths joining them up.

Jeff Kober said...

Great article Hunter. I see something more likely to occur between both of those scenarios. I see a Carsland attraction coming. But I see it done originally in the context of filming a movie. I say that because I don't see Catastrophe Canyon going away. But I do see it retooled and being part of a Radiator Springs Racers-type of experience. And there's plenty of room back there to do other things like straight aways, and so forth.

I also don't see Lights! Motors! Action! going away. Whether that stays independent, or re-tooled as something else remains to be seen. There's too much investment there to simply mow that down and do something else. But conversely, they aren't doing enough shows and getting enough bang for their buck from it. I could see it more Cars-adapted, then with Incredibles going elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

How about some shade trees on Main Street?

That would be a start...

Anonymous said...

Yes to the theming style and immersion of Cars Land, but NOT Cars Land.

No to the theming style and lack of originality of Toy Story Land, but some similar d/c ticket attractions could be implemented.

Addtionally, please no more Toy Story or Nemo, they're great stories, but we have shows and stories dedicated to these properties elsewhere already. Let's go with something different.

Anonymous said...

Please no "Incredibles - The Attraction". I love the movie, but I'm worried about having this super hero overload when I come to visit WDW someday in the future. If the rumors are true about a Marvel theme park coming to Florida (after Disney obtains all the rights back from Universal), it'll be a little too much "super hero" for my taste.

I agree that Disney should come up with something totally new/fresh for a ride, and who knows, maybe it'll end up as another hit movie trilogy down the road.

Honor Hunter said...

There is no Marvel theme park coming to Florida...

Wherever you heard that, disregard it. That won't be happening.

The next park at the Florida Project, when and if it happens, will NOT be a Marvel theme park.

That park will go elsewhere than the everglades...

Anonymous said...

/\ Very True. But the rumor that he/she may have misread was that the Marvel theme park may be coming to the Disneyland Resort (they have a model and are trying to get the green light)

Anonymous said...

Would that be near Disneyland...maybe the Toy Story Parking lot?

Li Ghtsaber said...

Screw a Marvel theme park!

Bring on a Star Wars theme park!

Now that I want to see.

Anonymous said...

Star Wars park @ WDW
Marvel park @ Disneyland Resort Ca
& keep a few sw attractions in tomorrowland CA
BOOM! GREAT SUCCESS

Steven M said...

Thankfully Florida has much more room. I would LOVE a version of the Indiana Jones ride from Disneyland to replace the Dinosaur ride in WDW. The Dinosaur ride is kinda fun, but I think it's time for a change. Don't clone the Indiana Jones ride, you can improve it or change it. Personally I think it would be much more interesting and fun than some Dinosaur ride...

Bujias J. Funtime said...

Well I think Dinosaur needs a lot of work, it isn't going to be replaced with Indiana Jones at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

That really doesn't have anything to do with animals. I personally would prefer them to just to a major makeover of the ride towards actually really been fun, instead of lame and really difficult the anything because it's so dark.

And as long as that exact track of the Disneyland one is there with the exact vehicles looking the way they do, there is no chance that they will put an Indy ride into another parked there like Disney Hollywood Studios.

Save WDW said...

Whatever they do, it will cost lots of money. They will need several billion considering that they spent $1 Billion on DCA.

I am certainly in favor of a different approach to DHS. Not another Carsland. However, a Pixar-Land sounds lame.

Anonymous said...

I've added a couple of missing elements to the quote above:

"Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there [are films by Pixar, Marvel, Lucas] left in the world."

Anonymous said...

I think that whenever Disney World gets around to building another major park, (there is room for three), that it will either be Dark Kingdom or Star Wars.

Buzz said...

Great article Honor.

Personally, though unlikely to come to fruition, I'd like to see a complete overhaul of the studios. With the park divided up into 3 sections, Live Action Adventure, with focus on Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Marvel and Some Disney Properties. Animation, with a split between Pixar, newer Walt Disney Animation Studios titles, Like Meet the Robinsons or Wreck it Ralph. And Disney Jr/Toon Disney. The third sections of the park would focus on the more traditional Hollywood themes currently spread out around the park. Great Movie Ride, Tower of Terror and Rockin' could all stay.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Honor Hunter, you know that Tony Baxter recently retired from WDI, right?

What do you think about that? Will you be writing an article about it, hopefully a sensible one to reassure everyone that WDI will be fine, even without Baxter?

Philip said...

Like many, I appreciate Carsland as well.

However, even though I don't mind attractions getting duplicated for other parks, I do feel that Carsland should remain unique to DCA and have Disney's Hollywood Studios get something different.

For one thing, it would be awesome if WDI were to dig up the old plans for the Muppet Studios area that almost got built in the early 1990's (the only attraction from that area that got built is Muppet-Vision 3D). On the same token, the unbuilt Roger Rabbit's Hollywood area of Sunset Boulevard deserves a revisiting as well.