No big surprises as Disney announces theme park expansions at D23
Disney had made it official, with today's announcement at the D23 expo in Anaheim: Disney World's Fantasyland will get a major expansion for 2013, including its own copy
of California Adventure's Little Mermaid dark ride, and a new 3D Star Tours movie will be coming to Disneyland and Hollywood Studios in 2011.
I know that at least one TPI reader on the scene is working on a report (I couldn't attend due to family commitments.) But I chatted with Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel about the plans, which he detailed.
Basically, the plans wipe out everything to the east of the carousel and to the north of the Pooh ride in the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland, all the way over to the Tea Cups. That includes Mickey's Toontown Fair. The Barnstormer survives, to be relocated, along with Dumbo, to the far east-side of Fantasyland (the side close to Tomorrowland). In the middle, in addition to the Ariel ride, we get a Belle-themed restaurant and walk-through attractions for Aurora and Cinderella.
Ultimately, these new developments most help Disney, not as a response to Harry Potter and Universal, but as additional attractions that, along with Harry Potter, can lure more tourists back to Orlando. With the home equity "funny money" that financed so many Central Florida vacations over the past decade no longer available, the area's theme parks need to deliver more value to entice families to book a trip.
The downside to such announcements, though, is that they can persuade visitors to postpone their trips, waiting for the big new attractions to debut (and trying avoid construction hassles). I've heard from many sources who have stayed away from Universal this summer for that reason. I worry that today's announcement might further depress attendance at Disney in 2010-12 as these attractions go into construction.
More free meal plans, anyone? ;-)
Update: Another part of the MK Fantasyland plan moves Dumbo to the eastern edge of the area, adding a second carousel in an effort to cut down the kiddie ride's notoriously long wait-times. Kudos to James Rao in the comments for dubbing this new version "Dueling Dumbos."
I am inspired to add a poll:
If the expansion of Fantasyland is anything CLOSE to the artists's concept .... WOW!
The Fantasyland expansion will be BIGGER THAN POTTER.
A lot of people really aren't to happy that this is all that's coming, but I'm actually really excited for it. Even if it's mostly just Meet and Greets, Fantasyland still is getting an E-Ticket dark ride and the are looks like it will be beautiful. Star Tours II will be interesting in 3-D and I'm just excited to know that something is confirmed to be on the horizon. Now they just need to announce something for AK at next years Expo that will be there for 2012 and I will be very happy.
TH, I'd think your serious when you say that the Artist's rendering looks great, because I agree as well, but this certainly doesn't blow Potter away. The Potter attraction will be much much much bigger than Little Mermaid, which is a very big attraction in itself. I don't think it'll be bigger than Potter, but it's nothing to sniff at.
One thing I talked to Jason about, which didn't make it into his piece, is that there's little for boys here. Potter appeals to both genders and a wide age range. Disney princesses do not.
This is very exiting!
Dan M, what you don't take into account is the size of the WDW audience -- which is more than TWICE the audience of IOA. Potter boasts a single dark ride and a retro-fitted coaster with a flashy queue. The concept (albeit blue sky) drawing of Fantasyland is not simply one ride and area development. It's a complete expansion/enhancement of a themed area that ALREADY kicks Universal's ass all over the map. Potter lands in 2010. In 2013 (when the new Fantasyland drops) Potter will be "been there done that" among theme park patrons.
The real (fan boy) question is how it interfaces with the train tracks.
TH, after some further thought, I'm inclined to agree with you in some regards. But I don't think this will have as much of an effect on the Magic Kingdom or its attendance as Harry Potter will have at IOA. Harry Potter is taking a cultural phenomenon and completely exploiting, and in the process hopefully creating something as incredible as it has been hyped to be. I am willing to stand by my statement that the Robocoaster will be a bigger and better attraction than the Little Mermaid, since it's a whole new breed of Dark Ride and TLM is just an incredibly themed 40 year old ride system. I also see where your coming from with your comments about the artwork and the MK's audience. I think, if executed as shown in the Skyview artwork that's shown, the expansion will be a beautiful land, that you can appreciate without even having to experience any of the Meet-and-Greets. Also, one of Disney's main targets, family's with young girls will go wild for this, every bit as much as people will go wild for Potter next year. But I still think that IOA will be if not equally, then more impacted by Potter, than the MK will by the FL expansion. The only reason I feel this way, is that the Potter expansion is bringing IOA to the attention of Millions who only went to WDW on their Orlando trips, or who wouldn't think of going to Orlando at all. I can see Disney really effectively advertising Fantasyland more so than I can see them capitalizing on any other new additions. So maybe your right TH, I really don't know, but I just think that Potter is bigger.
Dan M, thanks so much for your thoughtful response.
The REAL question is "How much of this blue-sky artwork is BS? The train tracks, the tunnel entrance, the perimeter road around the Magic Kingdom. How does this configure?
While I wouldn't agree with your statement that the Magic Kingdom is the World's greatest theme park, I do see where your coming from and agree with many of your points as well as you question as to how much is Blue Sky. However, there is one thing that I would like to make note of that hasn't been included in this expansion plan, but that has been talked about by WDI for two decades and has space allocated for it in this particular expansion plan. A Beauty and the Beast dark ride. Now I think that what he have now will make Fantasyland the most beautifully themed land in the Magic Kingdom, if not all of Disney World, and the Little Mermaid is a much needed Dark Ride for the Magic Kingdom. But a Beauty and the Beast dark ride, especially if it could use an innovative ride system, would make the new Fantasyland truly spectacular. This expansion will be great for the Resort and especially the Magic Kingdom, the area will greatly appeal to frequent visitors, and all of the Princess advertising that comes with it could feasibly but the Magic Kingdom's 2013 attendance over 20,000,000 people. But a Beauty and the Beast ride in 2015-16 would truly make this all that you expect it to be Mr. Creative. I don't necessarily agree with your assessment about this in relation to Harry Potter, but it's quite well reasoned and I respect your opinion and enjoy this friendly debate.
Dan writes: While I wouldn't agree with your statement that the Magic Kingdom is the World's greatest theme park.
Ah well said well said. All I have to say, if we're going to let the free market judge creativity, then the Jonas Brothers really are pretty awesome.
Disneyland is the world's greatest theme park. In my humble opinion. Also attendance does not make something great.
Raul writes: have to admit I am disappointed with this expansion.
What makes the Fantasyland expansion so EXTRAORDINARY is not the individual attractions. It is the SCOPE. The waterfalls, the bridges, the area development. The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World is the greatest theme park on the planet. Its only rival is Disneyland. An expansion of this size and scope (whether it has one new attraction or not) is extraordinary. It's not just the addition of a coaster or dark ride. It's an expansion of a work-in-place.
I'm leaning toward's TH's side. The concept art looks beautiful, as does the work for DCA and Hong Kong's expansions which makes me really excited for Imagineering's future. But Raul, there certainly is a great demand for Meet and Greets at the Magic Kingdom, as TH has noted. This accomplishes that while presenting them in a beautiful manner with what appear to be magnificent architectural and natural features, and what is sure to be a great attraction. It's a shame that there aren't more Dark rides in the expansion, since Dark ride's are able to be enjoyed by everyone. But the Meet and Greets look well designed and will really be a fantastic addition for young girls and their parents who really just want to see their children happy. The area looks beautifully themed, and even if I'm not as excited for its contents, I'll be there just to walk around and take in the atmosphere.
Oh,and although I've never been their, many of the most passionate Disneyland fans who have gone there their whole lives agree that Disneysea is the greatest theme park on Earth. I've never been myself, but it seems as though it is the pinnacle of what WDI can do with a lot of creativity and a nearly unlimited budget.
Dan M writes: "magnificent architectural and natural features"
Dan M writes: "The area looks beautifully themed, and even if I'm not as excited for its contents, I'll be there just to walk around and take in the atmosphere."
South Carolina losing in a heartbreaker to Georgia really brought me down. Then, I log into TPI and see the official announcement about the Fantasyland expansion (and Star Tours II!!). Suddenly I am happy again... and starting to budget for that 2013 Orlando trip already.
Rao Rites: "It (WDW Magic Kingdom) was becoming a bit of a museum."
Thank you very much TH, I feel very much the same way you do about the expansion, I simply haven't built up the anticipation to think this will be better than Harry Potter, and I really don't know how the general public will receive each, but I'm sure they'll both be shining additions to their respective parks. There's something to be said about a land that you can just walk around in and let the atmosphere soak in. Could it be better, yes. But I'm not going to get disappointed in what we get simply because it could be better. If you judge everything by its maximum potential, then your going to be let down A LOT in your life.
Oh and here's the actual announcement at the expo with a lot of concept art and descriptions for anyone who hasn't seen it.
Dan writes: "I simply haven't built up the anticipation to think this will be better than Harry Potter."
Better as in which I enjoy more, not as in how much it will affect the parks.
What strikes me most about the artist's rendition is its disregard for both the train tracks and the tunnel entrance.
This sounds silly that Disney is playing into the princess fad once again. Why on earth would you get rid of a land?
I gotta say that hearing this news made me send an email to my mother in law to make the WDW Family Reunion she just started talking about to be in 2014 or later.
I'm excited for the new FL expansion as well. If Disney runs another 'Salute to the Military' promotion next year, they'll get attendance from me! (This despite a 7-month deployment to Afghanistan.). :)
If someone said you're going to get an E-Ticket dark ride, a new full service restaurant, and a refurbed and revamped Dueling Dumbo surrounded by an interactive playarea (instead of a line) added to Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland, wouldn't you be excited?
I'm giving Rao a standing ovation just for coining the phrase "Dueling Dumbos."
There are a TON of GREAT D23 clips on You Tube. Johnny Depp, Robin Williams, Miley Cyrus, Tim Burton, Jerry Bruckheimer, Robert Zemekis, Nicholas Cage.
Let me be the first to say I hate this idea. Sorry! The only part I like is The Little Mermaid E Ticket ride.
TH, with almost half the post on this thread, I was just wondering, do you have a sideline job of a PR man for Disney? lol And to think that Zachary and I weren't planning to come back down for 2 or 3 years. Looks like I planned that one right. And James, guess what movie Zachary had to watch last night on his sleepover, POTC:Black Pearl, guess Johnny has some fans outside of Missouri.
I had to add a poll in honor of Dueling Dumbos. Vote above. (Hey, Universal's not going to be using those names anymore....)
I can't take credit for "Dueling Dumbos" - been reading that name all over the web. Wish I could, tho.
Nice one Mr. Niles. She liked that.
Just to let you know, the second dueling Dumbo will not be new. It will be the Magic Carpet one in Adventureland put in with the other Dumbo and redone with Dumbo cars.
While I'm excited about this news I was hoping to hear about a few more family rides especially in the other parks. While the MK is by far my favorite park I do agree with the pp about it starting to become a "museum" so I definitely welcome the expansion.
Preparing myself for a beat down from TH on this, but I have a disposible income, no kids,
Gareth writes: "Being male without kids, the expansion at Disney won't do a thing for me."
Asside from being very girl oriented, the land looks sweet. However i did have high hopes for the snow white coaster. Im a little let down by the beauty and the beast restaurant thing, i was hopin for a ride. Ill be looking forward to eating at the place neways. And only walk thrus for Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Oh well. What im most psyched about is the new star tours!!! WOOT
sorry double post
"The Snow White coaster?"
I hope you are right, Nick. I hate that eyesore Aladdin ride, plus its removal from Adventureland could be the first step towards the oft rumored expansion of the Pirates theming in Adventureland. TH may not want to hear it, but a Pirates retheme would be a nice contrast to the Princess expansion in Fantasyland.
TH, a new Snow White & Seven Dwarves indoor mine train coaster was rumored to be part of the Fantasyland expansion - apparently it did not make the cut.
Is it confirmed that Aladin is moving?
James R., the Scrambler threw me out of the lurker's loft for just a minute. I really don't understand the competition between WDW and Universal Florida parks as far as which new park area is "better". Is there only so much fun allowed in Orlando? Can't visitors go to IoA AND Magic Kingdom? Comparing any two parks anywhere is almost as impossible as giving factual reasons why wooden coasters are better than steel, or visa versa. My next visit to Orlando will involve a few days at Universal with a day trip to Magic Kingdom (after everything is finished in Harry Potter and Fantasyland).
ARRRRG I like the pirates overlay of adventureland. Buccaneer Cruise yet another Johnny Depp aa. Theres one climbing the pole and Trader Jack the shrunken head dealer lol. and The Swashbuckling tiki room.
Last I heard, James K, the scrambler was down for repairs. And the maintenance crews still have not arrived in the Loft to clean the place up. Eewwwwwww!
Again, is it confirmed that Aladin is moving?
What is this Aladin I keep reading about? Does it have anything to do with Aladdin? ;)
I spelled something right...for once.
If they want to change Adventureland they should upgrade the Jungle Cruise (keep the skippers and the jokes) andf bring back the original Tiki Room.
Animal rights group in Florida urges Disney not to sugarcoat the truth about circuses in "re-imagined" Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride: www.blog.animalrightsflorida.org
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