No big surprises as Disney announces theme park expansions at D23
Published: September 12, 2009 at 3:22 PM
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: