The BLOGFlume—Anywhere but Here

Not in Arizona or Japan, Disney's 50th anniversary DVDs, and Hong Kong training.

Written by Russell Meyer
Published: April 17, 2005 at 8:24 PM

Not In Arizona 4/14/05

For the past few years, rumors have been continuously flying that Six Flags has been looking for a location for a brand new amusement park. Six Flags boasts that its parks are uniquely situated around the country to allow theme park fans to be at a Six Flags park within 3 hours of just about every major metropolitan area in the country. South Florida and central Florida are one of the major areas, but it’s pretty obvious why Six Flags cannot build a park there. Still, one location that seems to have been ignored by theme park companies for years is Phoenix, Arizona. Phoenix has been growing rapidly in the past ten years or so, and would seemingly be a prime spot for a regional theme park. Currently, theme park fans’ only outlet is Castles and Coasters, with its whopping 2 roller coasters, more like an amusement park you would see at the beach. However, Six Flags has made it very clear that it is not interested in building a regional theme park in the Phoenix area, particularly in Surprise, AZ, a town long rumored to be on the Six Flags’ list to receive a theme park. It’s probably no surprise that Six Flags is not interested in building any new theme parks, even in an area where it would practically have a monopoly, since its financial situation is far from adequate to support such a major capital expenditure. The Phoenix area is possibly a perfect spot for a major theme park with great weather year round (it’s a dry heat), and with a good park design with a number of indoor attractions to allow guests to cool off throughout the day, a major theme park chain could survive in the dessert southwest. As it stands now though, Phoenix residents will have to be content with Castles and Coasters, carnivals, and a 400 mile drive to Los Angeles.

The Happiest Celebration on DVD 4/16/05

Disney has been gearing up for its huge Disneyland 50th Anniversary Celebration for months now, and most figured that events would be limited to the theme parks and perhaps a major TV presence throughout the 18-month celebration. However, Disney has now announced that it will release a number of titles on DVD on July 12, 2005 in conjunction with the event. Not only will we get some of the Mickey Mouse Club’s greatest moments from the original series, and moments with Brittney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and Christina Aguilera, but it will also include some of Mickey’s best moments in Vintage Mickey. Vintage Mickey will include a number of black and white shorts from the early years. July 12, 2005 will also see the release of Disneyland-The Secrets, Stories, and Magic of the Happiest Place on Earth. While Disney released Disneyland USA in a silver tin edition in 2001, this new release will probably be similar to some of the behind the scenes footage that is shown on The Travel Channel. The details are not complete as to what this release will contain, so it is entirely possible that this could contain brand new footage shot specifically for this release and focusing on the 50th Anniversary Celebration. For those who must have everything with Mouse Ears on it, I’m sure it’s already on your Amazon pre-order list.

Gearing Up
Miami Herald 4/15/05

Question: How do you get workers ready to run a Disney theme park in a country that barely knows who Mickey Mouse is?

Answer: Send them to Disney World for 5 months.

That’s exactly what has been happening to new employees of Disney’s new Hong Kong Disneyland. Since January, about 500 HKD employees have been living and working in Orlando, learning everything there is to know about running a Disney theme park and just about everything Disney. They have been staying in intern apartments on site, and working normal hours to not just learn the different duties in the parks, but also to learn a whole new culture. The employees will be learning everything there is to know about Disney, and probably will be able to sing “It’s a Small World” in their sleep when their training is over in May. This training is essential for the employees to be able to run the park effectively, and also to be able to exude the image of Disney that all of the corporate types want to see from a foreign park. The park is expected to not only receive guests from China, but also from all of Southeast Asia and India. In a culture that is very rigid, and where people’s interactions can be quite different than in the US, HKD employees are learning to be more exuberant and customer-focused, two characteristics that are a must for Disney theme park employees. I’m not sure if this type of intensive training was provided to employees of Disney’s other foreign parks, but a program like this seems like a great idea, and perhaps should be considered for all Disney theme park employees to cross-train them, so that they can continue to be the best in the industry.

Japan not Black for Universal 4/16/05

It seems that the big movie thrills of Universal have not been able to attract enough visitors in Japan for Universal to make money. Four years into the park’s life, it has yet to turn a profit. The park is planning to refocus its efforts to try to draw more locals with Japanese inspired creations such as Hello Kitty, and slow down on the Hollywood-based thrill rides like Jaws and Jurassic Park. The Disney parks have been extremely successful, but many of their attractions are based on more general themes, and not a couple of blockbuster movies. Perhaps Universal didn’t do their research, or perhaps the park design just wasn’t executed properly. In any case, help is needed to bail out the failing park. With limited attraction sources, Universal could be in trouble if it is not able to stir some interest in its Japanese park.

Readers' Opinions

From Joe Lane on April 18, 2005 at 6:49 AM
Funny you should mention USJ including local creations to boost attendance. This reminds me of the Full Metal Alchemist attraction USJ recently opened in March. There's not much information available online, except that the highlight is an original 10 minute movie spin-off from the anime series (it's not even a ride, it's more of an exhibit). The attraction will close on May 8th, but depending upon its success, one could speculate that USJ might begin to incorporate more anime-themed attractions at its park.
From Lisa Pratt on April 18, 2005 at 11:44 AM

"A group of investors is trying to have another go at filling the roller coaster and midway void in Arizona. It wants the Legislature to create a special taxing district that will generate $1 billion in bonds to help create two parks. The first would be a large one near Williams, serving as a lure for Grand Canyon tourists. The other would be near Cricket Pavilion on the west side of Phoenix. It would have an outdoor amusement park and an indoor water park. All total, it would sit on 60 acres. That size, oddly enough, was exactly the size of Legend City."

Legend City was an amusement park in Tempe, AZ that was before its time, but as a child my family and I loved it. I am wondering who are the investors for these 'new' parks?

From Erik Yates on April 18, 2005 at 1:18 PM
I understand why Six Flags "wont" build a park in Central or South Florida, but they definately would be succesful at it. A park by the ocean, something we dont really have in Florida(unless you count Marine land in St. Augustine) might be a good change to the landlocked parks in and around the evil empire. Just a thought.
From Robert Niles on April 18, 2005 at 2:40 PM
Cedar Fair would make a much, much stronger candidate to operate an Arizona park than the financially struggling Six Flags. I don't think Knott's draws from outside SoCal (save for folks who add it in to a Disneyland vacation), so cannibalization would not be a problem.

Paramount's got zilch in the Southwest, so I suppose it could be an option as well, but I would think it has enough on its hands trying to transform its parks from amusement to more true "theme" parks.

I can't image Wall Street not *killing* Six Flags if it tried to add another park. The Street, from all I hear, wants Six Flags to divest, not bulk up.

Top 10 Attendance

  1. Magic Kingdom
  2. Disneyland
  3. Tokyo Disneyland
  4. Universal Studios Japan
  5. Tokyo DisneySea
  6. Epcot
  7. Disney's Animal Kingdom
  8. Disney's Hollywood Studios
  9. Universal Studios Florida
  10. Islands of Adventure