The BLOGFlume—Summer’s Here
Sea World's new show, ABC sells out, and virtual Disney
Written by Russell Meyer
On the HorizonTweet
Orlando Rocks 6/1/05
The newest show at Sea World Orlando has taken its first bow, and from a couple of first impressions, it looks like it may be a big hit. Blue Horizons is a highly detailed dolphin show that combines your standard dolphin show with elements of Cirque d’Soleil and bird shows. The story is set in the imagination of a young girl, where dolphins, false killer whales, exotic birds, and human performers astound the audience with mystifying acrobatics and stunningly beautiful sets and costumes. From the pictures and video, the show looks somewhat similar to Viva at Sea World San Antonio, but takes it to another level. The show has been created by a Broadway set designer who wanted to infuse some of the dramatic elements normally reserved for a lavish musical production into this water-based spectacular. Over the past few years, Busch Entertainment has worked hard to bring top-notch professional entertainment to their parks in shows that would normally cost people $50 or more to watch at a traditional venue. Irish Thunder, Imaginique, Katonga, Viva, and now Blue Horizons have raised the bar of theme park entertainment to give guests a glimpse of superb, professional entertainment. Some other parks are beginning to upgrade their shows to move away from the standard “theme park fare” that seems to inhabit about half of the American Idol auditions. Guests are beginning to expect more than cheesy singing and dancing numbers, and theme parks are slowly starting to respond with a more interesting and elaborate form of entertainment. With Busch leading the way, a high schooler singing a top 40 song will soon be a thing of the past as theme parks bring guests shows that you would normally have to trek to the theater to see.
Stemming from the incredible success of new series Desperate Housewives and Lost, ABC has sold all of its “up front” advertising time with a revenue increase of 30% over last year. The increase represents an extra $500 million in revenue, as the Disney-owned network was the first to sell all of its available advertising slots for the upcoming fall season, faster than even industry leader CBS and young-demographic leader Fox. It is clear that the once-doomed network has rebounded quickly from its demise just a couple of years ago. ABC was being beat by cable programming on some nights when Who Wants to Be A Millionaire was run into the ground saturating the prime time lineup. Without any original shows to fill the gaps when Millionaire began to fail, ABC plummeted to the bottom of the ratings. However, this past season, ABC has been able to resurrect itself with two of the hottest shows on TV. While I’m not a Desperate Housewives watcher, tens of millions of other Americans vaulted the sexy show that plays more like a soap opera than a prime time dramedy to the top of the ratings. ABC also launched Lost, possibly the biggest “cult” hit since Twin Peaks or X Files. The show that stranded the survivors of a plane crash on a creepy island may be one of the most entertaining and frustrating show of the year. The season finale created more questions than it answered, but did answer the question of when ABC would return to ratings respectability. ABC has now become an asset instead of a burden to Disney, and ads for the 50th anniversary are starting to reach a wider audience. This success could not have come at a better time, and Robert Iger, instead of taking over a clunker, is taking over a well-primed machine.
Disney has done it now! The Internet may never be the same, as Virtual Magic Kingdom has reached the beta test stage. The online immersive experience allows users to take a trip to a Disney park without leaving their computer, and never taking off their pajamas. The experience is similar to the Coke Music V-Ego program where users play games and interact with other users in the program to earn points. With the points, users can buy virtual items that they can carry around or decorate their “rooms.” The Disney version allows users to ride attractions and interact with other park guests. As the game expands, the line between simulation and reality will be blurred as users can physically visit a Disney park and complete quests to earn points and exclusive items for the virtual game. Online “viral” marketing has become increasingly popular as a cheaper and more effective way of advertising than print or media advertising. It gives guests a challenge while still luring them into being bombarded by suggestive advertising. This online experience is very addictive, as my wife would attest, and as it spreads, all of the Disney Dorks out there will not get any work done- they will always be in the game. Despite Disney’s over protectiveness (the dictionary of words that can be “spoken” in the game is extremely restrictive, not even allowing any numbers), the concept is pure genius, and adds a new layer of interactivity in visiting a Disney theme park. Just as you thought the pin trading phenomenon was cooling off, a new, more addictive Disney obsession is ready to take its place.
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