The BLOGFlume—Blizzard Conditions

Universal problems, Euro stock, and the Pixar invasion.

Written by Russell Meyer
Published: January 23, 2005 at 7:27 PM

Double Trouble
Washington Times 1/22/05
Daily Yomiuri 1/23/05

Universal Studios Japan is reeling from 2 separate incidents involving employees. On Friday, January 21, 2005, an employee was strangled when her uniform was caught in an ice crusher. The employee was in the process of cleaning the inside of an icebox when her uniform got caught in a moving rotor, which should have been switched off during the cleaning process. The employee was rushed to the hospital and remains unconscious and in serious condition.

The second incident occurred on January 10, 2005 when a rogue firework fell on a performer’s foot. The lit firework was secured above the stage and somehow came loose, burning the left foot of a stage performer. The performer was treated at the USJ clinic, and the severity of the injury is not known, but appears to be relatively minor. However, with two incidents in just two weeks, Universal Studios Japan will have to address these incidents. While the incidents did not directly involve guests, both may suggest that some USJ employees could be “slacking off.” As with the rash of Disney incidents over the past year, Universal seems to be just as susceptible to accidents.

Euro Trash
Orlando Sentinel 1/22/05

Euro Disney SCA has decided to try to raise capital with a $328 million stock offering. Walt Disney has agreed to purchase $130 million and Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, one of the other major stockholders in the company, will invest an additional $25.3 million. The ridiculous part of this offering is that the shares are being sold for a minuscule 12 cents per share. Yes, that’s right, for less than a price of a gumball, you could own a couple of shares of Euro Disney. Even at 12 cents a share, I don’t think I would even consider investing in such a poorly organized corporation. Most of the capital raised in this offering will be used to design and construct 4 attractions. The first attraction, Space Mountain Mission 2, is scheduled for completion in April. The second attraction will be Buzz Lightyear Astral Blast, which has recently begun construction and will be completed sometime in 2006. The other 2 attractions have not been announced, but a Tower of Terror is almost a lock. It’s great that all of this action is happening at Disneyland Paris, but can $328 million really bail out a park that has done nothing but flounder since its inception, primarily caused by its location and the bad weather that comes with it? I certainly will not be surprised when the parks fail, but I hope they don’t before I get a chance to get over there and check them out for myself.

Milking Them for All They’re Worth
Jim Hill Media 1/19/05

We all know that Disney plans numerous sequels and merchandise tie-ins based on Pixar movies. With Buzz Lightyear finding himself in just about every Disney park, A Bug’s Life on both coasts of the US parks, and a Finding Nemo overlay in EPCOT, Pixar has been finding itself in just about every corner of the Disney theme park empire. The California parks might as well be called Pixarland, as the popular computer animated creations are invading both Disneyland and California Adventure.

It seems to be a pretty safe bet that Monsters Inc. is coming to Disney’s California Adventure, in place of the defunct Superstar Limo. The submarine voyage that once was based on the popular 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, looks to be re-envisioned with a Finding Nemo theme. Also, Disneyland’s Autopia, which was completely revamped less than 10 years ago, may be redesigned based on the soon-to-be- released Cars movie.

Jim Hill also reports that Disney is working on many other Pixar themed attractions for the California parks. The biggest Pixar impact may be felt in Frontierland as a couple of attractions may be in the works using Woody, Bullseye, and the other western characters from Toy Story. What is probably the most interesting rumor regarding a Pixar-themed attraction is the one reportedly planned for DCA. An e-ticket attraction using the robo-coaster system may be in the works starring The Incredibles. This system has been reported for attractions in two different parks now, so it is no surprise that someone would link it to Disney as well. However, the possibilities with this system are quite intriguing with an Incredibles theme, as guests could fly around like superheroes. Disney has had a lot of success with one-of-a-kind ride systems, and they may be the ones who could pull off the second-generation version of the robo-coaster system.

All of these Pixar attractions and not one mention of Home on the Range or Chicken Little? Hmmm, is Disney starting to loose faith in its own work, or does it finally realize how much it needs Pixar to survive in the 21st century? Robert Iger’s first duty MUST be to lock up Pixar with a long-term deal!

Readers' Opinions

From Paul Jeffs on January 24, 2005 at 1:53 AM
In reference to the Paris parks - they really are at both ends of the quality scale.
The Disneyland Park is probably the best designed, most attractive of the "Magic Kingdom" type parks, but the Studios is the ugliest, lamest park in the Disney repertoire. Any money raised needs to be spent bringing the Studios up to scratch because, frankly, it's dragging the whole resort down.

I believe the other 2 attractions have been announced and they are indeed a Tower Of Terror (minus the Twilight Zone theme) and a new land - “Toon Studios”.

And I don't think weather is really an issue - the Disneyland Park designers have taken the changeable weather into account and most of the park/attractions can cater for rain or shine. And as for location – getting there from the UK is no problem as the Eurostar train crosses the Channel Tunnel straight into the resort – literally 2 mins walk to the park gates.

It certainly would be a shame if you never got chance to experience some great attractions in a beautiful park.

From Ben Mills on January 24, 2005 at 9:28 AM
Woah, the Orlando Sentinel doesn't seem to quite have it's facts in order regarding Disneyland Paris.

The four additions to the resort have been CONFIRMED. Read that? Disney themselves have announced what will be new at the park. Along with Space Mountain: Mission 2 and Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters (a watered-down version of Anaheim's upcoming ride) at the original park in 2005 and 2006 respectively, the Studios will see a new kids area in 2007 - Toon Town Studios, rumoured to include a classic dark ride attraction and junior coaster - and 2008 will see a Tower of Terror which, as Paul correctly noted, will come with an original, non-Twilight Zone theme. Personally, I think it would be great if they brought back the idea of having Mel Brooks present it...

The new capital will not be financing those rides, but going into marketing and other resort expenditure, probably including Disney Village developments. The 250 million Euro budget for the 'Big Four' additions has already granted by a variety of sources, mostly TWDC and the Prince. That's why construction on two of the project has already started, with Toon Town supposedly scheduled to start as soon as the summer period is over.

Let's get one thing straight: Disneyland Park, Paris (as they like us to call it) is one of the most beautiful parks in the world. The problems at the start of the resort's history were mainly political, unfortunately, but the original park has really come back since then. I mean, it's the most popular tourist destination in the continent. But the Walt Disney Studios just sucks so bad, it's destroying the resort. That and the ridiculous pricing of the hotels are what is pushing EuroDisney to the brink of bankruptcy.

The weather isn't a particularly good excuse, either. It's no worse than that of the Tokyo parks, and no one ever complains about them.

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