The BLOG FLUME - Something from Everyone

Vegas is going crazy. Disney continues having problems. As does Six Flags. SeaWorld Orlando keeps offering new things. And there's early Halloween news too!

Written by Kevin Baxter
Published: July 20, 2004 at 1:43 AM

2 + 3 = NUMBER 1
Las Vegas Review-Journal - Jul 16

There has been a lot of speculating in Vegas after MGM Mirage's offer to buy out Mandalay Resorts - which is covered here. Would the new behemoth - to be the largest casino operator in the world - sell any of their Vegas properties? Would they start building new ones? What would the new Number Two - Harrah's - do to keep up? What would the new Number Three - Caesars - do?

Apparently the answer is for the future Number Two to buy out the future Number Three. Yes, Number One never actually got to become Number One. And it would take a massive spending spree for MGM Mirage Mandalay to even come close to Harrah's/Caesars. Both companies have far more casinos outside Vegas than MGM Mirage and Mandalay do.

Though Harrah's Vegas presence will still pale in comparison to the new MGM-M-M. That new company will own ten on the Strip, while Harrah's will only control Harrah's, Caesar's Palace, Paris Las Vegas, Bally's and the Flamingo as well as the offip Rio. (Hilariously, the merger will be worse for Tahoe visitors, as Harrah's will now own three of the whopping four casinos there, and the fourth one is the only lame one.) Of course, both companies will own about two-thirds of the Strip hotels, which can't be good.

Orlando Sentinel - Jul 19

With Disney doing so poorly at the box office this year, all eyes are on how Michael Eisner and Harvey Weinstein solve their Miramax problems. Eisner seems hellbent on driving Harvey away, and Harvey seems hellbent on letting him. While Eisner would probably like to dump Harvey forever, Harvey does give Disney the quality cachet it desires but cannot get on its own. Without Harvey, there would be no Miramax.

Enter Bob Weinstein. Bob, who usually allows brother Harvey to hog the limelight, has quietly led Miramax's Dimension Films division to some very profitable years. Disney may not know much about quality, but they sure understand dollar signs. Many believe Harvey may leave Disney alone to run a new prestige film company while Bob remains behind to protect the Miramax name. (The name wouldn't mean so much if it wasn't a combination of the Weinsteins' parents names. Lesson time! Unless you are sure you will have something forever, don't make the name so damn meaningful!) This would allow Harvey to continue taking more risks and Disney to hopefully churn out quality films with lower budgets than Harvey usually wants.

Then again, the Weinsteins might do nothing and just wait until Eisner gets the boot. 2006 isn't that far away.

The Motley Fool - Jul 16

Six Flags is reporting that attendance fell in the first half of 2004 by 4%. Increased spending is up, so the whole thing evens out, but is there more behind this? The Disneyland Resort is way down and had a poor July 4th weekend, usually one of the strongest weekends. WDW is also down, with MK having much smaller crowds on the same weekend. It sure would be nice if we could ever get attendance information out of the Universal parks to see if this is a problem for the industry or just for certain companies.

Anyhow, the Fool mentions how SF hasn't spent money on major additions this year and instead is focusing on customer satisfaction. Considering the bad things we are hearing out of Magic Mountain, you have to wonder what exactly they are focusing on. Spending is up, so maybe some places have made their food the opposite of wretched? I don't see them selling souvenirs like mad. After selling Worlds of Adventure, there will apparently be money for attraction expenditures for 2005. See ya in 2005! (Maybe...)

Orlando Sentinel - Jul 19

While SeaWorld Orlando has been doing its best lately to offer an experience you can't find at WDW or UO, that doesn't mean they won't "borrow" ideas from the biggies. First was Mistify, their new nighttime spectacular. Now it's a character breakfast. But not just any characters either. There will be people dressed like Shamu, Penny Penguin, Seamore Sea Lion, OP Otter, Arthur C. Turtle and Shivers Polar Bear. Which just goes to show how desperately Busch needs decent characters. Or, at the very least, to give the Sesame Street characters more of a presence. Sheesh!

Orlando Sentinel - Jul 15
Orlando Sentinel - Jul 19

Halloween has become such an event at many theme parks, that the Sentinel is actually letting people know about the upcoming events in Orlando several months early.

Universal Orlando, which has led the pack in Orlando for years and years, has apparently been reading our site and is trying to make amends for problems that have occurred since moving the Halloween Horror Nights to Islands of Adventure. Like some of us suggested, the event will now take place in BOTH parks, though only the IOA gate will be used. It isn't known yet what areas will be open or what rides will be running, but it appears half of USF will be used for the event. There will be seven haunted houses, which doesn't sound like it is up from last year, but there will be more scare zones and they will be larger. The Rocky Horror Picture Show will also be screened, which is fun, but shouldn't it be something a little scarier? Like, oh, the Dawn of the Dead remake which was a UNIVERSAL film? Okay, maybe a little gory. How about running the classic Universal monster films? That could be fun.

Disney is trying desperately to compete in one of the few areas that Universal is decimating them with their Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, a Halloween Horror Nights for wussies. Just kidding! This event, which clearly aims at the under-ten set, is upping its offerings from ten nights to an unlucky thirteen. It's a nice alternative, but why hasn't Disney attempted a REAL Halloween event at Disney/MGM, a park that would be perfect for it? All those theaters and a huge backlot? And it could all take place on the right side of the park. Just a thought.

Readers' Opinions

From Chuck Campbell on July 20, 2004 at 4:47 AM
Halloween Horror Night at Disney-MGM is a pretty good thought, Kevin. They could do quite a bit with all the empty space the tram tour uses; heck, just use the tram tour and put monsters and freaks in it.

Screening the Universal Classic horror flicks just seems the obvious thing to do. I was at Halloween Horror Night with some friends at USH a few years ago, and the best maze, we thought, used the classic monsters(complete with the voices of Bela, Boris, and Lon).

Busch Gardens Williamsburg has been trying interactive "face" characters for a the last couple of years: pirates (which is odd, because the "Pirates" 4D flick is gone), a bickering tourist couple (anybody for reality TV in a theme park?), a winsome French lass. But nothing can top the old rat catcher who used to wander from Banbury Cross to Hastings, trying to peddle his dead rat on a stick. Now there's a photo op.

Actually, their most successful "character" was the late Burgomeister at the Festhaus, swinging his beer stein, singing German folk tunes, and smoozing with the guests.

From mister johnson on July 20, 2004 at 6:35 AM
The Mouse should make D-MGM the epicenter of holiday offerings. The place desperately needs a sense of vitality which it has completely lost over the years. Its amazing how much Epcot, with its Flowers in the spring and Food in the fall, has benefitted from this seasonal event structure, and D-MGM has gotten lots from those creepy Osborne lights. It would be great if we knew Jack Skellington was gonna slink out of some Soundstage every September or that there would be some Mousey-patriotic thing in the Summer (remember America on Parade?) or even some Film Festival in the Spring.

From Kenny Hitt on July 20, 2004 at 9:12 AM
Actually when I was there in 2002 USF ran a whole SERIES of schlock horror and big action movies over the sourse of several months, including the CLASSIC night the Rocky Horror and Evil Dead 2 ran as a double feature.

I don't think I've EVER had as much fun.

From J. Dana on July 20, 2004 at 11:32 AM
D-MGM is perfect for the not-quite-Universal crowd, yet too-old-for-Mickey crowd. They've got ToT, complete with a Twilight Zone theme (lots of potential tie-ins for scare-times there), they've got The Nightmare Before Christmas (what a great night-time parade that would make); what about the headless horseman? And what about the goulish segment from Fantasia called "Night on Bald Mountain." Not to mention a long series of villians. It could REALLY be well-done. And they even have the rights to all Dimension films (for now), which includes Scream. How about opening up the Hollywood Brown Derby for special "Murder Mystery" dinners (extra cost, of course)? Is there much left to the residential street on the backlot tour? It would make for a great "trick or treating" scare zone, but I think it's gone, isn't it, it make way for the new stunt show. There's ABSOLUTELY no harm, no foul in ripping off the Universal idea of a more mature Halloween. Disney can do creepy, and they can do scary. It's a natural fit!
From alex morehouse on July 20, 2004 at 11:43 AM
I think it's a good idea that Disney should do a halloween event. I mean, they have all those scary villans and , of course, Monsters Inc. It sucks that they don't do that.

But let talk about the Miramax-Disney problem. With Eisner pissing off the Weinstiens, 2006 is a long time for me. They have had blockbuster films like the Spy Kids series and Disney has never bothered with them in their parks. They have also forced them to refuse distributing "Farenheit 911," which has already taken in $90 mil-and-counting. Eisner needs to go now!

From Ralph Wiggum on July 20, 2004 at 4:48 PM
Disneyland would do well with just adding characters inside some of their rides. Haunted Mansion already does the switch over why not just add some baddies in Pirates, Indiana, Splash, etc. Just some live action characters that kind of jump out at you in a none Horror Maze kind of way.
They just have to add signs to entrance of rides stating that these rides may be haunted after 8:00pm . Let it go for two weeks . Just something to spice it up during October. That for California, For Florida - MGM BACKLOT MAZES ALL THE WAY.
From Kevin Baxter on July 21, 2004 at 3:56 AM
Alex, isn't it hilarious that Disney's biggest moneymaker this year is one Eisner refused to distribute? Disney totally believes The Village will be this year's Pirates and all will be forgiven. But the film will also have to be good, and early script reports are NOT good. But then those scripts may have been fakes. Then again, supposedly the twist ending was so horrid that Shyamalan allegedly had to film a new one. Add to that the fact that it is a period piece, a fact they have been trying desperately to hide in the commercials, and this could possibly be a first-weekender. BUT, it's late-July berth might help it through a slow August.

Gawd, I have been so good at predicting movies this year, but this one has me stumped. I say a HUGE first weekend if reviews are middling with a mild fade. If reviews are bad, the first weekend will be Disney's biggest this year (like that's a challenge) but it will die quickly. If, somehow, all the buzz is wrong and the film is great, this will be Number Three for the summer.

From Robert Niles on July 21, 2004 at 1:57 PM
Walking into Universal Orlando this morning, I was struck by how hard Universal's promoting the fact that it owns the rights to the two biggest movie properties this summer: Spider-Man and Shrek. From the way Universal played it in CityWalk, you had two choices, to visit the Spider-Man park (IOA) or the Shrek park (USF).

I leaned over to Laurie and remarked that it was quite a contrast to Disney, whose biggest movie this year would have been Fahrenheit 911. (Not that I want to reopen the thread on what kind of attraction one could craft from that movie....)

From J. Dana on July 21, 2004 at 4:15 PM
too bad universal didn't make the spidey films...then we'd REALLY have some promotions going must be wierd trying to tie promotions into a rival studio's (sony) film. and it's a tightrope to distinguish that universal has rights to the comic book character, but must stay miles and miles away from anything having to do with the movie characters. either way, spider means kerchang kerchang for all involved. And let's not forget to mention SHREK 2's little post-$400 million take.
From Joe Lane on July 21, 2004 at 6:36 PM
Don't forget--Sony Pictures owns Columbia Tristar, which holds rights to Men In Black and Ghostbusters.
From Chuck Campbell on July 21, 2004 at 6:54 PM
Just a thought on the whole Halloween at Disney-MGM idea: since they already have the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, why not the Twilight Zone TRAM of Terror? Just take the now mostly moribund sutdio tour and completely transform it at night into a tour of the Twilight Zone. The trams could cruise through a tunnel while the familiar icons and music swirl around them and then travel through different stories, such as the alien ship from "To Serve Man," the wrecked neighborhood from "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" (complete with rioting zombie neighbors), or creepy monastery from "The Howling Man" (where the Devil is imprisoned). Disney wouldn't have to go the gore route, but could still offer plenty of creepy atmosphere. Your guide would, of course, be the disembodied voice of Rod Serling.

BG Williamsburg does something like this every Halloween with their trains, and it's always a bit hit.

From Kevin Baxter on July 22, 2004 at 1:24 AM
Don't forget, Joe, that most of the film licenses that aren't Universal, DreamWorks or Nickelodeon are there because Steven Spielberg was most likely a producer of that film, like he was on Men in Black. Not sure why the Ghostbuster characters are there, but since they aren't an actual attraction, they probably just licensed the characters.
From Cody Cromarty on December 11, 2005 at 9:00 PM
Disney really needs to step up to the plate for Halloween. They could have certain nights where it would be similar to HHN, and have the rest for the Not-So-Scary. Universal is really beating the rest of the parks around with their event, and unless Disney can try and get more scary instead of kiddy, they won't win the war.

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