That's a very astute observation Robert and it's made me think. I have realised that 'lifestyle brand' is exactly what my wife and I see in our vacations at Disney and why we prefer to stay there than at Universal. We enjoy visiting Universal and always include it in our vacation schedules but we get the most pleasure out of simply 'being' at Disney. We spent many hours last time just walking - around the parks, around the different resorts, around Downtown Disney - soaking up the atmosphere. We don't get that same relaxed 'vibe' at Universal and it suits us well. I appreciate it won't be for everyone and theme park fans tend to be younger and more interested in thrills and technological boundary-pushing but I think there are more people out there who want that lifestyle experience for a week or two than want a constant adrenaline rush and consequently I wouldn't bet against your prediction Robert. It saddens me that there are no new attractions planned for Disney in the immediate future but as the saying goes, if it ain't broke......
I'm looking for some reason to hope that they can change their thinking, but I just can't see any, and that's a little depressing. I might have to start planning that Tokyo trip, after all...
Disney Springs Retail ExpansionDisney Springs Food and Beverage ExpansionDisney Springs Parking GaragesDisney Springs Civil (Including New Roads and Bridges)Polynesian Resort - Renovation of Existing RoomsPolynesian Resort - Expansion of Water CabanasDisney Boardwalk Hotel - RenovationDisney Caribbean Beach Resort - RenovationDisney Yacht Club - RenovationDisney Beach Club - RenovationDisney Animal Kingdom - Nigh Time EntertainmentDisney Animal Kingdom - African VillageDisney Animal Kingdom - World of PandoraBack of House - Laundry Facility ExpansionMagic Kingdom - Hub Hardscape RenovationNew Resort/Entertainment Area Development - Flamingo Crossing
Combined these projects (along with a myriad of smaller upgrades and renovations) represent hundreds of millions in investment.
Further there is the news that Tom Fitzgerald fis moving from Disneyland Paris to become the creative director at Epcot and that Scott Trowbridge is now in charge of a new Star Wars studio within WDI.
Certainly it must be acknowledged that the company is investing a substantial amount of revenue in the Florida property's resorts and infrastructure and that the moves involving Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Trowbridge could reasonably be regarded as harbingers for new attractions still to come.
Maybe Disney needs to admit they can't compete any longer in the theme park world and sell the parks to Universal. Then, they could concentrate on hotels and restaurants
Mr. Ackerman writes: "Maybe Disney needs to admit they can't compete any longer in the theme park world and sell the parks to Universal."
I Respond: I'm sorry, but "compete?!"
While I have expressed skepticism abot the TEA/AECOM report due to the ambiguity surrounding its methodology I have no doubt that BOTH Disney and Merlin outpace Universal's attendance in numbers that are measured in seven (if not eight) digits.
While I can look forward to Avatar, the rumor is the boat ride won't make it in the début or at all. Can someone confirm? The weakest parts are the the Hollywood Studios, and Epcot World Showcase needs some marquee attractions.
Universal is doing great with their additions, but I don't think they match Disney's offering unless they have their own version of Fantasyland in the wings. Star Wars is Disney's answer to Harry Potter, but they are slow walking their plans. This says a lot about Disney's perceived competition.
Disney, on the other hand, has not, and likely will not lose profits from Universal taking market share. They WILL respond, but they will do it on their timeline. What's the upside of them rushing anything to market right now? (Almost every extra visiter to Orlando is still visiting Disney. When Universal builds another couple of hotels, then Disney may start to feel the heat, as this entire story is really about how many hotel rooms you fill per night). Everyone complained about how long SDMT took to be completed, but they still created an attraction that no one else on the planet could make. If that were not the case, they would have a problem, but Disney knows their strengths and their audience, and they are giving them just what they want.
Just for fun, here are my predictions for the future:2015:-Star Wars land at DHS announced. Fairly vague details that will focus heavily on Episodes 4-7. The amount of Episode 7 stuff will largely depend on the success of that movie at the box office later that year. To open in phases 2018-2019.-Update of Soarin' to new film.
2016: -Major overhaul of Future World at EPCOT announced (of which Soarin' was already a part), including a redo of Imagination with the re-imagined Dreamfinder and Figment comic book at its core, redo of Energy pavilion, and a new "smart" environment linking the entire area using technology developed for Avatar-land, with RFID-enabled lighting and fountain effects, etc. Also, Communicore repainted tan, and Spaceship Earth finally pressure-washed. Frozen ride in Norway OR Remy ride in France (not both) (opened in phases 2019-2021)-Night show opens at DAK
2017:-Avatar opens, environment and boat-ride first. Flight simulator delayed to 2018. EPCOT updates pushed back indefinitely...
2018:Avatar land done, Avatar 2 film disappoints at box office. Mos Eisley land opens, but only a restaurant and a gift shop at first.
2019: Global recession hits, everything scrapped.
This is kind of shocking to me, Disney, a big entertainment company selling their vacations as a lifestyle brand. But after I head some people say that the only time their family functioned as a family was during a Disney vacation it started to make sense to me.As a European I work to live, work 36 hours a week and have about 6 weeks of vacation with the option to buy more vacation days. No double shifts and many short breaks to visit London, Paris or Venice. We have a breakfast in the morning with the whole family and a home cooked meal at 6 in the evening. In the weekends we spend our time with the whole family doing chores, visiting relatives or do hobbies. Being together as family is how we live why have a family if you can't do that?To work a lot to go on a 1 week vacation to spent a ton is beyond me. Why not work less and live more. You can have more magical moments throughout the then in an overpriced theme park between plastic and concrete. If you need Disney to have some magic in your life I regard you poor and failed in life and it's time you take a step back and try to look at the big picture and do what really is important.Visiting a theme park is fun, visiting new ride and experiences (in and outside a theme park) is even more fun but doing it with you family is the most important thing.
WDW is so large that it is incredibly expensive to simply maintain their current infrastructure. It's not unlike a city, where sure it'd be nice to see a big 50-story skyscraper of glass and steel rising downtown, and it'd be cool to see a big half-billion dollar retractable roof stadium built for your team, and a light rail system, etc.
But there's only so much money, and in WDW's case, they have to make sure they don't allow any of their properties to fall into disrepair. I don't want to stay at the Boardwalk for instance, and think to myself "Disney really let this place go" or use a public bathroom at Downtown Disney and see leaks and rust.
It's such a massive piece of land with so many hotels to landscape, rooms to constantly refurbish, roads to repave, etc etc. I'm surprised they have money to do ANYTHING in the parks.
With that in mind, it's pretty spectacular that they've finally opened 7 Dwarfs Mine Train, which "looks" beautiful, no matter how exciting it might be. It fits New Fantasyland well.
The infrastructure improvements are necessary, and they eventually will enhance the guest experience, but they're not the reason why I visit Disney World. I go for the rides and attractions set in immersive lands. When there are not enough attractions in a park, and I find myself standing in ridiculously long queue lines, the quality of the rides and lands is immaterial. My visit is degraded, and I start looking for other options for my entertainment money.
As far as giving Disney a pass for having a great deal of construction and upgrading going on in their infrastructure and not having the capacity to also improve the parks, I don't buy it. If Disney can't maintain and upgrade their infrastructure AND build awesome rides and lands, they are either incompetent or cheap, and that observation is not made of the Imagineers, instead it's made of the guys with MBAs and spreadsheets who are calling the shots.
I don't understand why the American Disney fan has to be largely ignored while Imagineering is focusing on overseas locations. Is Imagineering so limited or Disney Corporate so incompetent that some of the rides and attractions being developed for overseas can't be modified and installed in an American theme park? To me that would be a smart thing to do since it would save development time and money and please the American Disney fans, but as I suspect, the bottom line come down to money and the lack of desire or the lack of any perceived need to spend it.
The "rock star" fascination with certain Imagineers is baffling. I'm not in the industry and THC is, but what does this say about the state of Imagineering? Are these Imagineers so special that nothing exceptional can be developed for a Disney park without their involvement? If that's the case then what does that say about the quality the other Disney Imagineers? Can they not be trusted with a major or even minor development?
So, I'm not willing to give Disney a pass just because they have a lot going on right now. The company is huge. Their profits are enormous. Their fan base is rabid and loyal. They didn't get to this point by sitting on their laurels and doing just enough. When it takes longer to accomplish a major refurbishment (New Fantasyland 2011-present)) than it does to build an entire park (Disneyland 1954-1955) something is wrong.
Seriously, no one will think less of you if you do Orlando on your own terms. I think a lot of people neglect Sea World/Busch/Legoland, too. Just do what you want on vacation! Sheesh.
To be honest me and the family normally skip it on our way around the World Showcase. We stepped in it for the first time in years last week.
Lance Armstrong's image needs to removed...if you want to sub in Greg Lemond, Michael Phelps or someone from our Paralympics teams or countless others.
Since the seven reasons he is in the film, he no longer has won, and cheapens the film as a whole.
Instead, Disney is maintaining the cash cow and investing to capture growth in the fast growing Asian market. This diversifies away the single point Orlando risk while building future growth. Doing this while squeezing out every ounce of throughput in Orlando makes sense. Magicband is all about squeezing out throughput and margin so they don't have to grow.
Disney, has to be risk averse with their massive Orlando exposure. Universal has lower risk and tough competition down the road. They can't afford to be nearly as risk averse. As a result, they can move much faster.
I Respond: Exactly.
Mr. Hillman writes: "... but they're not the reason why I visit Disney World."
I Respond: That's surprising since most WDI development meetings begin with the question "What can we do to attract Tim Hillman to the Florida parks?"
Mr. Hillman writes: "When there are not enough attractions in a park, and I find myself standing in ridiculously long queue lines, the quality of the rides and lands is immaterial. My visit is degraded, and I start looking for other options for my entertainment money."
I Respond: If you are finding yourself "standing in ridiculously long queue lines" wouldn't that be an indication that the market Disney is targeting is satisfied with the current slate of attractions? I mean, if the attraction development was substandard, wouldn't the crowds stay away and the lines be shorter?
Mr. Hillman writes: "As far as giving Disney a pass for having a great deal of construction and upgrading going on in their infrastructure and not having the capacity to also improve the parks, I don't buy it."
I Respond: I never indicated that they don't have that capacity. My post points out the TPI reports regarding Tom Fitzgerald going to EPCOT and Scott Trowbridge (a major player in the development of IOA) getting involved with Star Wars. So I think there is every reason to believe new attractions will be developed. I mean do you honestly believe that there are no concepts under development simply because the world's theme park blogosphere has not found out about them? In addition to that, Disney is investing a massive amount of money in its infrastructure, in its world-class resorts and other areas to maintain the quality experience guests expect.
Mr. Hillman writes: "I don't understand why the American Disney fan has to be largely ignored while Imagineering is focusing on overseas locations."
I Respond: They're not -- reference previous post.
Mr. Hillman writes: "So, I'm not willing to give Disney a pass just because they have a lot going on right now."
I Respond: It's a Robert Iger can sleep at night.
As for Disney not building anything, I think that people need to remember that it is not a company with unlimited money. It is a bit of a double edge sword. Sure, they have more money than Universal, but they also have nearly three times the parks.
The trouble with WDW is that Disney hasn't really had a need to update. Sure, Universal stepped up their game, but DCA, HKDL, and DLP needed a fixup FAST. WDW is just such a behemoth that it is still top of the FL game. WDW isn't really lacking anything, except one...Disney Springs. Citywalk has surpassed Disney on this front. There are parts of Downtown Disney that work, but much has been shut down.
We will see how the new Diagon Alley does (probably great), but lets not kid ourselves, IOA's Harry Potter was already half built since they just took the existing buildings and some rides and went through retheming. That is nothing against them, but they didn't exactly reinvent the wheel either.
Then again, both Disney and Universal know that people are coming for a once in a lifetime trip. We are lucky enough to go more than once a year. Only we notice if a park is building fast/slow.
However they want to do it, the Orlando theme park wars could really get interesting if Universal had three parks.
Universal will never have the size or scope of WDW, but three parks and a couple more nicely themed hotels could get people to spend 3-4 days at Universal, which is starting to get into the 50%+ area of a lot of families' 7-day vacations.
I have no idea if that's feasible, but it would sue be fascinating to see play out.
Attractions are a different matter. They cost millions to create. One attraction alone can be equivalent to a new resort. Do this for every park and you notice that adding new attractions and updating existing attractions are very expensive propositions.
On the way in, as our shuttle went from resort to resort, I was shocked at how outdated and dumpy everything looked.
Did not like it. Disney World is a sprawling mess. The monorail is slow and inefficient (travel to a hub, walk to other station, stand around and wait again).
The Contemporary was not impressive. Very loud and frumpy. Our quick check-in involved being walked from the door to the desk where we went through a regular check-in. Huh? The magic band receiver on our door would fall off every time we put the band near it. That stupid 1970's water display thing that would pop up after kids go to sleep and could probably be heard in Georgia. Ewwwww.
We had park tickets for Epcot. After the 30 minute monorail trip, we got Fastpasses figured out, which meant waiting a couple hours for rides. Had trouble finding pretty much everything in Epcot. Eventually found Nemo and enjoyed it. Did the walk around the world thing. Africa is just a gift cart? Really? Heard of Simba? So many underdeveloped concepts or missing areas.
We also built in 2 days at Universal. Upon arrival at Portofino Bay, we find this lovely, relaxed resort for the same cost as Disney. Felt like we were a world away, yet could walk out to eat, go to pool or be entertained all within 2 minutes.
Had a ticket for Islands of Adventure. Potter was great, as advertised. Jurassic Park is frumpy - especially the Discovery Center. Great water rides, along with Toon Lagoon, though. Suess was delightful. Marvel section was small, but cool. We found plenty to do each day. Didn't even make it to City Walk in the evenings. Was so relaxed at Portofino that we just had some lovely meals there and recovered.
Since then: obsessed with Universal/theme park news and planning a return trip to Orlando in November. 4 days at Universal, 0 at Disney.
Since people on here are not considering the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train an E-ticket, does Soarin really count as an E-ticket? It's really just a 2.0 movie theater. Not to be a hater..... because Epcot is a fun park to me..... but the only ride there by these extravagant standards I'd think might be an e-ticket is maybe Test Track (and maybe Mission Space). I'd like to see a new real E-ticket at Epcot. Also, I think Soarin is a great family attraction (although not that much of an impressive e-ticket like say Everest which is an immersive mountain of a ride), but it really needs the screens cleaned. Last time I "rode" it the issues with the screen took me out of the experience to focusing on that smudgy area on the screen.
after all.... Dumbo is just a spinner and look how popular that thing has been all these years. Not everyone needs the highest, tallest thrills or most expensive ride to be entertained. Kids are funny like that, you buy them a bike and they play with the box it came in!
Epcot - I get the sense people apologize for it. There were 2 legit rides we wanted to go on: Soarin' and Test Track. Which meant getting passes first thing in the morning when the park opened and then killing time for 4 hours with the stuff we didn't care about. How has that gate been around so long and still isn't built out?
Yes, we couldn't find things in Epcot. The map for the front section didn't make much sense to us and we wandered around for 15 minutes until we found a staff member who pointed us to walk through one building to pop out where Nemo was. For that amazing movie they have a refurbed ride of like 4 animation clips, a funny, well-executed live chat with the stoner turtle from the movie and a non-themed holding pen with some fish and such.
My main takeaway from visiting Disney and Universal for the first time as an adult: Disney is lazy, outdated. Universal is modern and motivated, which is why I went from "never heard of it before Potter" to "that's a place I'd travel for."
As far as the sarcasm about the WDI development meetings beginning with “What can we do to attract Tim Hillman to the Florida parks?” I think you may have a good point, but you’re slightly off in your focus. The question should really be “What can we do to keep Tim Hillman coming back to our parks in Florida more often?”
I may not be the perfect demographic that Disney is looking for, but I am the guy who:-has been going to Disney parks with his family since the 1960s,-has stayed with his family in the Polynesian Village, the Contemporary Resort, and Fort Wilderness over the years,-schedules his business trips as much as possible around the opening dates of amusement and theme parks,-has been to Disney parks and theme parks on three continents,-stayed up for 36 hours straight and flew a red-eye home from Japan just so he could get 8 hours in Tokyo DisneySea,-is married to a woman who’s idea of a dream Christmas vacation would be to get a block of rooms at the Grand Floridian and spend Christmas there with her kids and grandkids, and-will schedule extra trips to the Orlando theme parks during an economic downturn because he knows the lines will be shorter and the visits more pleasant.
So, with hubris equal to your snark, if WDI development doesn’t open their meetings with a question on how they can keep bringing someone like me back more often to their Florida theme parks………maybe they should.
Now, to the other Disney apologists on this thread (and there seems to be more of you than usual), put down the Kool-Aid. Disney built all of these roads and infrastructure with huge profit centers like hotels and water parks and theme parks and retail centers situated on them, and last time I checked; the price to stay on a Disney property is considerably more than the price to stay off Disney property, Disney has the highest ticket prices in the industry, I’ve never seen a discount in a Disney retail outlet, and Disney has made tons of money. So, please stop making excuses for a company that stopped “paying it forward” a long time ago.
I Respond: Which means you must understand why the focus of the most successful theme park on the planet has targeted the (your word) "family" model. Not thrill rides, not intense simulators/dark rides, but attractions that charm and excite all members of the family (Little Mermaid, Mine Train, meet and greets, Festival of Fantasy, etc.)
Tim Hillman "-has stayed with his family in the Polynesian Village, the Contemporary Resort, and Fort Wilderness over the years,"
I Respond: Which means you must understand why the renovation of the resorts is every single bit as important as adding new attractions to the parks.
Tim Hillman "-schedules his business trips as much as possible around the opening dates of amusement and theme parks,"
I Respond: And?
Tim Hillman "-has been to Disney parks and theme parks on three continents,"
Tim Hillman "-stayed up for 36 hours straight and flew a red-eye home from Japan just so he could get 8 hours in Tokyo DisneySea,
Tim Hillman "-is married to a woman who’s idea of a dream Christmas vacation would be to get a block of rooms at the Grand Floridian and spend Christmas there with her kids and grandkids,"
I Respond: This lovely person must be very excited to realize that Disney has made renovating the rooms at the Grand Floridian to maintain their quality to be every bit as important as adding new attractions.
Tim Hillman: "So, with hubris equal to your snark, if WDI development doesn’t open their meetings with a question on how they can keep bringing someone like me back more often to their Florida theme parks………maybe they should."
I Respond: Apparently with their multi-million dollar efforts to renovate resorts, boost infrastructure and expand retail and dining and beverage outlets ... (based upon your post) they already ARE.
I Respond: At this point I am pretty much convinced the problem was not EPCOT nor its maps. I mean, I am certain that even a "stoner turtle" would manage to find its way around the park.
And really? You went with "stoner turtle?" And you're trying to maintain at least some persona of objectivity? Hmmmm.