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Disney, Busch launch new sites for theme park fans

By Robert Niles
Published: October 8, 2009 at 9:07 AM
Now that the Blackstone deal's out of the way, Busch Entertainment Corp. is publicizing its new blog for its "Worlds of Discovery" theme parks: http://www.worldsofdiscoveryblog.com.

The blog includes videos and notes as well as a link to follow Shamu on Twitter. (He's back posting now, BTW, after yesterday's absence.) Oh, and you might find some of the posts vaguely familiar. (FWIW, I didn't know they were going to do that, but I'm cool with it in this case.)

I know I gave Disney a bit of tongue-in-cheek grief for its new blog a few days ago. But no one's making a living running Busch-only fan websites (and if anyone is, my hat is off to you. Either you've pulled off a commercial miracle, or you've learned to live off $10 a day). And, hey, I think that most independent theme park news websites would rather that parks take our content than our audience. ;-)

Universal extended its Halloween Horror Nights franchise online, creating a wildly successful website and community. Now Disney's making a move to create its own Halloween-themed Web destination.

Disney's Haunted Holidays

Disney's Haunted Holidays creates a virtual space where fans can explore games and videos from several Disney film and theme park franchises:

  • Tales of Two Cities
  • Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Christmas Carol
  • The Muppets
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Snow White
  • Haunted Mansion

You'll find the links in tabs on left when you click from attic. I had to tilt my head to read them, and missed them at first.

Update: I read the first comment below and, sure enough, got the video commercial popping up and auto-starting within the Flash on the Haunted Mansion page.

I didn't get it when I clicked to the Tale of Two Cities page from the attic. There are no labels in attic, so you just have to click around.

Yeah, this is a colossal FAIL for Disney. Sorry I brought your attention to it. Never mind.

Update 2: Universal Orlando officially has launched the new version of its website.

Readers' Opinions

From Barry Wallace on October 8, 2009 at 11:43 AM
Wow. I just went to the Disney site and on the first thing I clicked on - The Haunted Mansion page - I was assaulted by an AT&T video clip and a banner ad. Talk about taking you out of the theming of the site!

As a web professional, I understand the need for corporate ads and sponsorship but never at the expense of the user experience. And while product placement is common in movies and TV, it's typically downplayed (unless you're watching The Dead Zone) and when it's not it can generate a negative vibe to the viewer.

And I can only imagine what the typical Imagineer might think about the "bad show" this video clip and graphic ad present. It's not that the clip is itself annoying... it's just an AT&T commercial. But coming up automatically when the surround Flash site is trying to build an "aura of foreboding" is like seeing a commercial for Windex Glass Cleaner (tm) broadcast in Madam Leota's crystal ball before you even see her...

From Bruce Lane on October 8, 2009 at 3:17 PM
Assuming you're using Firefox, there's a couple of nice extensions which will greatly reduce the death-by-banner-ads issue. Specifically, Adblock Plus and NoScript. Between those two, it is unlikely you'd ever be plagued again.

I can't say I'm surprised, BTW. The overload of ads and eye-distractions on the web seems to be a pandemic in the business world, and blockers seem the only truly effective way to fight back.

As for Busch, and their euphemistically-named "Worlds of Discovery" site, well... two words: Singularly unimpressed.

Happy browsing.

From Derek Potter on October 8, 2009 at 7:50 PM
If anything, the park website blogs serve as good advertising for a real and informative blog such as this one. I wonder if someone can somehow slip a TPI plug through the cracks on the Disney site.
From Robert Niles on October 8, 2009 at 8:40 PM
Bruce, I use Firefox with pop-ups blocked, but even with various other anti-ad options, I couldn't find a way to stop the Disney video ads. They are part of the Flash animation of the page itself. So if you somehow stop that animation, you're unable to look at any of the rest of the page. It's a really insidious way to force an ad view.

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