Short-Notice Closures

July 24, 2017, 2:30 PM

How does everyone feel about the relatively short-notice closures at WDW and Universal?

- Ellen will be closing in August.
- Great Movie Ride closing in August.
- And now Dragon Challenge is closing in September.

Do you think there is a reason why there is such a short notice before closing of relatively popular attractions? Would you prefer the companies announce closures well in advance to give guests time to ride them one last time? Or is it better to just use the bandaid approach?

Replies (17)

July 24, 2017, 3:28 PM

Save Mr. Toad!

July 24, 2017, 9:33 PM

I think parks are trying to narrow the time period between when they file permits for construction and when they announce new projects, since the news will leak as soon as the permits are filed.

So that means either a park has to announce long before filing permits, which often means announcing before plans are complete, or else the park leaves itself little time between an announcement and the closing of the soon-to-be-replaced attractions.

Right now, Disney and Universal are opting for the second option, but if they thought there was a lot of money in a farewell season for something, I think they'd opt for the first.

July 25, 2017, 4:59 AM

I also do not think they want the backlash. Outside of Universe of Energy, Disney and Universal are playing with fire!

July 25, 2017, 5:27 AM

I'm going to wdw end of September so it is a bit frustrating, especially as splash mountain is down for a major refurb.

July 25, 2017, 6:04 AM

I would note that Universal is giving fans a couple weeks longer with Dueling Dragons than Disney is with Great Movie Ride and Ellen. Universal also knows its audience by publicly stating on their blog immediately when the closure was announced what the absolute last day for Dragon Challenge will be. Disney was far more nebulous about their closures, and is not spinning them as a "come visit for one last chance to ride these great attractions".

Two very different approaches to the same problem even though the notice provided was similarly short.

July 25, 2017, 7:01 AM

Here's the thing - Parks won't close extremely popular rides. From their perspective, the impact is relatively negligible, and the excitement level for a new attraction far outweighs the legacy attraction fans. Ultimately, it's a business decision. They're bailing on attractions that don't bring in new guests and replacing them with ones that will.

July 25, 2017, 7:02 AM

Side note: I honestly don't get what the big deal is about The Great Movie Ride. It's waste of prime real estate.

Edited: July 25, 2017, 7:33 AM

@Clayton - Parks close popular rides all the time. Horizons was immensely popular, but without a sponsor, the pavilion slowly died. Very few rides are going to maintain popularity forever, so it goes without saying that attractions slated for closure aren't bringing in new guests anymore. Even "classic" rides have a finite lifespan or require so much money to maintain that it becomes financially untenable. Also, attractions sometimes lose their "classic" status if they're renovated too far beyond their original concept (see Pirates). So while I'd agree that frequently attractions are eliminated because popularity wanes, it usually comes down to the cost of maintaining an aging attraction versus building a new one, and has less to do with decreasing popularity.

I think the furor over getting rid of the Great Movie Ride has to do with it being the last bastion of the "Studios" concept. Once that ride is gone, DHS can no longer be considered a "studio" park. The only attractions that really have anything to do with movie making anymore are the Indy Stunt Show and Animation building. While the other attractions can be contorted to fit the studios theme, the loss of the Great Movie Ride eliminated the anchor it served as the connection to what was a park about the magic of Hollywood. The other issue I have with the removal is that it's coming at a time when the park is already WAY short on attractions, and was at least something that occupied guests for nearly 30 minutes. Now that there's one less thing for guests to do, lines for the FOUR remaining rides will get even longer, and the value guests get for their still full-priced admission cost to get into DHS (compared to the other 3 parks) is further decreased. Disney could have waited 6-8 months to time the closure with the opening of Pixar Place so they would be adding something new at the same time something is being taken away, but instead guests (many of whom may have planned trips long before this closure was announced and expected to spend a full day at DHS) have one less thing to do in a park already handicapped by attraction removals over the past 5 years.

July 25, 2017, 8:46 AM

I just got back from a weekend trip to WDW (Friday-Monday) and visited all four parks. As of right now, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom are the parks to be at. Epcot is seriously lacking in quality attractions, though it has been that way for a while. We rode Ellen one last time, and I agree with the general consensus that it is time to for it to go.

We also went over to Hollywood Studios and can honestly say that the atmosphere is depressing. Half of the park is literally blocked off and there are only 5 (soon to be 4) attractions. I agree with Russell that this would be very frustrating for anyone who has already planned an expensive trip to WDW. I personally saw GMR as a classic, but still welcome the change. I just wish the timing would have been different.

And while Universal is giving a couple of weeks longer, I think the difference is negligible. As a local I have plenty of time to ride the rides at both resorts one last time, 2 weeks or no. But for my brother in Kansas City, 2 weeks does not open the window much at all if he were planning a trip to Orlando.

July 25, 2017, 3:34 PM

I couldn't agree more with Russell Meyer...

1. GMR is a classic attraction and is central to the theming of DHS, so I disagree with closing it. It should be refreshed not replaced. (Why can't the Mickey ride be built somewhere else there?)

2. IF we have to accept that it is replaced, closing it before Toy Story land opens turns DHS into even less than half a day park, like a 3rd rate carnival. This should be a huge embarrassment for Disney. How can we influence Disney into keeping it open until Toy Story land opens?

Edited: July 27, 2017, 4:49 AM

Disney doesn't close popular rides?

Tower of Terror (DCA)
Horizons (EPCOT)
Great Movie Ride (DHS)
The People Mover (DL)
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (MK)
The Tiki Room (they brought it back, MK)
World of Motion (EPCOT)
Journey into Imagination (first version, EPCOT)

July 27, 2017, 8:43 AM

@Anthony We die-hard theme park fans are in the minority here. Those attractions are popular in our circle, but, comparatively, they're simply not that popular. Tower of Terror, of course, is the exception, but after riding GotG, and in light of DCA's move away from the California vibe (see: Marvel and Pixar Pier announcements), it makes sense from a business perspective.

July 27, 2017, 4:31 PM

@Clayton You're an idiot. All of the above were beloved and popular attractions and would still continue to attract prominent crowds today. Put that microphone away.

July 27, 2017, 4:51 PM

Barry, was the personal insult really necessary? It is comments like that that ruin the tone of TPI.

July 28, 2017, 12:09 AM

I think the real question here is this: Were these attractions popular among the masses who visit the parks, or were they only popular among the enthusiasts who live for them? Particularly in the case of the Disney attractions, I think you'll find the latter. While I have no data to confirm it, I wouldn't be surprised if Ellen's Energy Adventure has one of the lowest daily rider counts at Epcot, and if DHS didn't have so few attractions I doubt many would bother to ride the Great Movie Ride (plus, rumors say the sponsorship deal is part of the reason the ride is closing now). As for Dragon Challenge, at one point that was a flagship attraction at Universal Orlando, but according to friends who live in the area it is not uncommon for the ride to have less than a 20 minute wait when all other major attractions resort-wide are over an hour. It just doesn't appeal to a demographic that has shifted more toward families rather than thrill-seekers.

As for how much notice to give, unless a park is closing a flagship attraction I think 4-6 weeks notice is sufficient. While some may be disappointed that they won't get a chance for a last ride, few people are going to travel a significant distance for something less noteworthy than Space Mountain or Tower of Terror. Those that are true die-hards and are going to make a trip are likely the type who follow the rumors, and while exact dates were not mentioned there have been strong rumors on all of these closures for at least the past 8 months...plenty of time to plan one more trip.

August 1, 2017, 11:50 AM

Thanks, AJ. That's the point I was attempting to make. And Barry, thanks for that stunning response. You truly have a way with words. Please continue with your riveting commentary.

August 1, 2017, 5:11 PM

I think the point that some are making is that some attractions are being closed are being done so solely based on the lowest common denominator. Kind of like why movie studios don't release classic films on high definition (yes, Disney, there need some to be a blu ray of 20,000 Leagues). They think people only want new and fresh, and to a certain extent, they are correct. However, some classic attractions always need to remain. For example, they need to keep the Haunted Mansion no matter what. Some with argue, and I will agree with, they should have kept Mr. Toad. I think it is a fine line as to what to remove and what to keep. The GMR is difficult, as it made perfect sense as the anchor in the park and was its identity; however, it needed rehabbing and had a lot of non-Disney movies in it. I think it was a mistake to remove it, and I agree that the Mickey attraction could have been made elsewhere. The GMR did need a change, however, but I think it did not need to go.

I think the park management needs to consider what the intent of the parks really were. Tomorrow land no longer invokes a thrill and wonder of the future. That needs to change. Go back to what the purpose was and plus that as far as you can. Remove Stitch and make it a mission to another planet. Put Buzz in Pixar and do something else. Rehab the TTA. Then do the same thing in other areas. I think it is fine to make changes, but they need to be careful. And they also need to go back to having the absolute best customer service on the planet. That has been lost over the last five years, and they really need to get that back.

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