If IP is King, What Happens When Your IP Flames Out?

May 6, 2024, 4:10 PM

As has been lamented on many posts on this page, Disney Imagineering is beholden to the almighty IP for rides, experiences, shows, etc.. But what happens when your IP begins to flame out, and your ability to create new content has been decimated(I'm looking at you Pixar)? Disney owned 4 of the 5 biggest theatrical bombs of 2023 according to deadline.com. The bombs spanned a number of Disney's divisions: animation, Lucas, and even Marvel. Disney has struggled mightily to create a new animation hit movie over the past decade, so if Disney's struggles continue...what drives the next generation of kids to the theme parks because it won't be non-IP based entertainment (because Disney doesn't do those types of rides or shows anymore)?

Replies (6)

Edited: May 6, 2024, 7:05 PM

If an IP flames out...Disney will replace / retheme it. They've done it in the past & they'll do it again.

Universal's entire foundation is made of IP. They simply evolved with the times. Hanna Barbera gave way to Amblin, which gave way to Dreamworks...now Illumination is tops (for now). Back To the Future gave way to Simpsons, which is rumored to change to something else.

Disney will do the same....they've done the same. Even with massive "failures", people & families will still flock to the park. Wait times will still be high.

Star Wars & Marvel are in a slump because of the quality & quantity (Too much, too fast, too soon, & subpar). IF that's corrected...they'll be fine. Deadpool & Wolverine trailer broke records & is predicted to be the biggest summer blockbuster. Characters (regardless of the MCU) like X-Men, Spider-Man, etc. will ALWAY be popular. They were popular before the MCU...

When Star Wars is quality...it connects with the public (i.e. Mandolorian, etc.) & Star Wars is back in the top tier of pop culture.

While I personally don't agree with "100% IP based rides / attractions", these are billion dollar companies. If something fails & flames out...they'l replace it with something different.

Many times is not necessarily the IP, it is what is done with it that IP in an attraction that ultimately matters.

What drives the next generation of kids to theme parks? The same thing that always drove them there. Those characters & IPs may change...but rides / attractions / amusement isn't an experience that is soley tied to an IP.

May 7, 2024, 9:25 AM

I think the answer is pretty simple, and we've seen it happen over and over. Parks will simply swap out one sagging IP for a fresh one.

For as much as theme park purists want to see more original IP, developers are always going to beholden to the almighty dollar. Known and recognizable IP are almost always going to trump an original IP, and companies are going to put their money behind something that's proven over something that's unknown. There just isn't enough tolerance for risk these days in business, and parks are not going to spend tens (or hundreds of millions) of dollars on an attraction that doesn't instantly connect with guests. A known IP provides that connection where as an original IP has to develop that connection over time, especially when the known IP is in-house and doesn't cost much (if anything) to license for the attraction. If I'm at WDI, sure I'd love to come up with an original concept attraction, but when you can pick from the massive Marvel, Lucasfilm, Disney, and Pixar catalogue and know that the final budget would barely be impacted by selecting one of those IPs, it's a no-brainer that decision makers are going to go with an idea/theme that at least has some awareness in the public consciousness over something completely fresh.

That's why I think at most of the big corporate parks, you just aren't going to see original IP attractions anymore, because the cost to apply an in-house IP is so minimal. I think that's why we're seeing Princess and the Frog being applied to Splash Mountain and not an original IP, or some close derivative from the original Song of the South theme. Those are easy decisions, and fans looking for original IP will need to start looking at the smaller park chains and international parks for those unique, original IP attractions.

May 8, 2024, 5:44 PM

This is a curious question that's going to be interesting to watch play out. By tying themselves to IP, the destination theme parks are banking on there being readily available IP with sufficient staying power to be worth developing into attractions, and given the changes in the media market post-covid that's definitely not as safe of a bet as it was before. However, as we're seeing play out right now, creating new attractions based on older IP is also a viable strategy, and with large libraries to draw from I'm sure places like Disney and Universal will be fine. The risk isn't really the lack of available IP, but rather the cross generational appeal of the park's attractions, which I think Universal will have to deal with far sooner than Disney. With shorter and shorter windows of relevance, it's going to be harder to find IP that both kids and parents are excited about, which may make the parks less appealing to those who go primarily for that aspect rather than for the theme park experience as a whole.

Edited: May 28, 2024, 4:44 PM

As many posts on this page have lamented, Disney Imagineering is tightly bound to the almighty IP for rides, experiences, shows, and more. But what happens when your IP begins to flame out, and your ability to create new content is decimated (looking at you, Pixar)? Disney has struggled mightily to create a new animation hit over the past decade. So, if Disney's struggles continue, what will drive the next generation of kids to the theme parks? It certainly won't be non-IP-based entertainment, as Disney has largely moved away from those types of rides and shows. It's a real conundrum—how can Disney keep the magic alive and captivating for the kids of tomorrow?

May 28, 2024, 6:23 PM

From my park experience Disney’s only problem is too many people. Extremely long waits for an older Pixar film about a rat (and I love, love the ride). I mean even extremely old rides based on an extremely old movie (Peter Pan) has tons of demand. I don’t see any flame out any time soon.

Other parks might have an issue, but not Disney.

Edited: June 1, 2024, 9:44 AM

ampva300:"As many posts on this page have lamented, Disney Imagineering is tightly bound to the almighty IP for rides, experiences, shows, and more".

Me: That sentence could've/should've read "The entire themed entertainment creative development community is tightly bound to the almighty IP for rides, experiences, shows, and more".

Hell, IOA shuttered the attractions on 'Lost Continent' (the only attractions with [kindof] original source material). Epic is IP as far as the eye can see.

I would also suggest that it's misguided to think that IP-related concepts are limited to contemporary films. The new Peter Pan attraction in Japan is one example. Mine Train opened at MKP in 2014 -- more than 70 years after the flick.

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