I have been among those complaining about the slow pace of growth and upkeep at the WDW parks for several years now. But recent events are making me wonder whether there is a new master plan in place for every park in the resort, and whether we have reason for hope.
Here is my evidence:
-New Fantasyland. Obviously Disney started upgrades with their flagship park, which (it must be admitted) is in pretty good shape at the moment. But, more telling than the upgrades was the decision to go to a higher one-day ticket price. That's almost an admission that this park gives greater value in its current state than the others, and perhaps a threshold of quality they will now attempt to meet at the others?
-DAK expansion. This was definitely the park in most need of work. Between Avatar-land, a nighttime show, and a series of smaller upgrades, this is on track to be a truly spectacular park. I believe this will be the DCA of 2017 (or whenever...).
-DHS changes. Obviously big changes are afoot at DHS. They wouldn't be taking out the sorcerer's hat if they didn't have a wholesale re-imagining (or return to the old imagining) in mind. With the backlot tour going away, they have space to play with. This park could go in for a very literal DCA-style makeover. (and possibly a major star wars land).
-EPCOT. Here is the tricky one. But I see reasons for optimism here too. The current Iger-era pattern is to build up the strength of your IP from a film, TV and media perspective, then to build. The Figment comic series, the upcoming film Tomorrowland, and even Big Hero 6 represent IP-strengthening moves that could support and benefit the overhaul of FW. Honestly, the World Showcase is, I believe, very successful in its current incarnation, a food and entertainment pull that keeps people in the park late into the day. I am an optimist, and I even believe that the crappy multi-colored paint job around Innoventions could even be a last low-budget fix before something more ambitious.
-Disney Springs. Obviously this will help build bridges between Disney and major retailers in ways that have been lacking in recent years, and keep more people on property and in the parks more of the time.
-Shanghai Disneyland won't be under construction forever. 'Nuff said.
-USO had great numbers last quarter. Double 'nuff said.
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