I know that at least one TPI reader on the scene is working on a report (I couldn't attend due to family commitments.) But I chatted with Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel about the plans, which he detailed.
Basically, the plans wipe out everything to the east of the carousel and to the north of the Pooh ride in the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland, all the way over to the Tea Cups. That includes Mickey's Toontown Fair. The Barnstormer survives, to be relocated, along with Dumbo, to the far east-side of Fantasyland (the side close to Tomorrowland). In the middle, in addition to the Ariel ride, we get a Belle-themed restaurant and walk-through attractions for Aurora and Cinderella.
Ultimately, these new developments most help Disney, not as a response to Harry Potter and Universal, but as additional attractions that, along with Harry Potter, can lure more tourists back to Orlando. With the home equity "funny money" that financed so many Central Florida vacations over the past decade no longer available, the area's theme parks need to deliver more value to entice families to book a trip.
The downside to such announcements, though, is that they can persuade visitors to postpone their trips, waiting for the big new attractions to debut (and trying avoid construction hassles). I've heard from many sources who have stayed away from Universal this summer for that reason. I worry that today's announcement might further depress attendance at Disney in 2010-12 as these attractions go into construction.
More free meal plans, anyone? ;-)
Update: Another part of the MK Fantasyland plan moves Dumbo to the eastern edge of the area, adding a second carousel in an effort to cut down the kiddie ride's notoriously long wait-times. Kudos to James Rao in the comments for dubbing this new version "Dueling Dumbos."
I am inspired to add a poll:
Star Tours will help, but ultimately Disney really needs to get Marvel into the parks to provide some boy appeal to balance the princesses.
Disney can try to bring the villains into the princess zones, but boys won't care. There's a "cootie zone" around girl-stuff like the princesses, and no pre-teen boy is going to want to cross that barrier unless they've been assured that the villain really will wipe out the princess. Which, at Disney, we know will never happen.
Again, though, the Potter vs. Princesses thing doesn't matter. The big question is whether Potter and Princesses can lure more visitors back to Central Florida.
I was getting worried for Disney. Because of Universal's additions..(rockit, transformers and harry potter)
More than Marvel, if WDW blows out Fantasyland to the extent shown in the artwork, (in 2013) Potter is an also ran.
Well done, sir.
And while your points are well taken, I made note of this particular phrase.
Your wrote: "Harry Potter is ... a cultural phenomenon."
To which I would respond: The Magic Kngdom at Walt Disney World is a MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH BIGGER cultural phenomenon. If the artist's rendering is actualized by WDI, Potter is a one-ride (albeit a one VERY COOL ride) pony. A one-ride pony that will (if they meet their construction schedule) be two years old when Disney opens the new WDWFL.
And also there is something to be said about a theme park that is nurturing (blowing up) their own creative concept verses another that simply pays a licensing fee to slap someone else's idea into their show.
If Disney commits to what is show on the artwork, Fantasyland will blow Potter off the map. PERIOD!
Make no mistake, if they actually build this concept to the extent of the artwork shown, it will be an ASTOUNDING EXPANSION of the world's greatest theme park.
But it will be interesting to find out how all those puzzle pieces fit together.
I hope to god your right for several reasons, though. This is a Lasseter-backed project that if it succeeds as you feel it will will only continue to topple the control at WDI back into the creatives hands rather than the Suits. This and the DCA refurb will hopefully make them see how much more potential there is to be realized in these parks and the quality of the 100s of millions of dollars that they continue to invest. And for Disney to continue to beat Universal, even after Harry Potter, it will only continue to result in them making very ambitious plans, to draw people away from Disney. No one benefits from that better than us. The Theme Park wars will be taken to never before seen heights, in the next decade, as groups such as Universal Creative continue to put out Disney-quality attractions. And I say: Bring it On.
I Respond: Wanna talk about attendance, Dan?
I have to admit I am disappointed with this expansion. Don't get me wrong - Fantasyland, at the MK, definitely needs a refurbishment. The existing fantasy fair theme has always been poor especially in comparison to the fairy tale village theming at DL. There is no way that this existing area kicks anything at Universal. As is, it is very average.
I am tired of the copying that Disney does. After seeing the great reimagining of the Haunted Mansion at HKDL, I can't get too worked up about a duplicate of a ride on the other coast. A duplicate, that some rumors claim, will be less than the one in DCA. Hopefully, that won't be the case. I would have preferred to see the Beauty and the Beast concept used instead.
The Beauty and the Beast restaurant does sound good, however.
The overabundance of Meet and Greets bothers me. I have bad images of Camp Minnie Mickey all over again. I understand the need for them especially with the removal of Toontown. Yet, 4-5 seems a tad excessive. More family themed attractions would have been preferred.
The proof of this pudding will be in the details. The concept art does look very nice. If WDI can make a place that is just great to stand in, then they will have done a lot to assuage my fears. I also hope there is still space for a major attraction in the future. A major expansion with one "new" ride is poor.
As far as Potter goes, the main Potter ride is conceptually superior to anything here. It is pushing the envelope. This is not. Also, any one of the Potter films was more successful than The Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast. They also appeal to a wider audience. So, to say that this will BLOW away Potter is simple opinion and not based on any facts. We will know when they are both open.
Overall, the change is needed but I am left underwhelmed.
I Respond: In 2013 you will be in the minority.
Raul writes: "Also attendance does not make something great."
I respond: Yeah, run that one by the stockholders of GE. And when the attendance of one theme park MORE THAN DOUBLES that of another ... your contention crumbles like pie crust.
Raul writes: Also, any one of the Potter films was more successful than The Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast.
I Respond: By what measurment, exactly? Patronage? Or to put it another way, "ATTENDANCE?"
Raul writes: I am tired of the copying that Disney does.
I Respond: And are you the demographic they are targeting? Hint: The correct answer is: "no."
Raul writes: The overabundance of Meet and Greets bothers me.
I Respond: And the hour and half wait times (as reported by my wife who plays a character at MK) for said meet and greets slap that assertion off the page.
Raul concludes: Overall, the change is needed but I am left underwhelmed.
I Respond: You are not the guy they care about, dude. I am sure you are also underwhelmed about the script writing on Hanna Montana.
And (again ... to Disney's credit) it employs the ideas of its own company. It's not just a licensing agreement.
Disney has painted its own picture (as its namesake did). That's what makes this fresh and exciting. It's Disney doing Disney at the Magic Kingdom. It's NOT Disney writing a check to J.K. Rowling.
If ORIGINAL music and ORIGINAL film and ORIGINAL painting are considered works of art why not regard the medium of theme parks in the same context?
I Respond: What a GLORIOUS use of language. You just made Walt smile!
I Respond: BRAVO, Sir! BRAVO!
I look forward to taking one last look at the tired old Fantasyland next year in May or September, then another three year hiatus will kick in (Ohio in 2011, maybe, Disneyland in 2012, for sure, then WDW in 2013). I am very excited for this change, and it will be great to get the Magic Kingdom moving forward again. It was becoming a bit of a museum.
Maybe Disney will next announce the Beastly Kingdom at DAK for the boys? One can only hope.
Great news. Thanks for cheering me up, Disney!
I Respond: BRILLIANT!
I Respond: Please define the word "better."
And don't worry about the Mickey greeting area, rumors suggest those characters will be moving to Main Street, USA, which is a great idea, IMHO. Gives visitors a reason to visit Main Street beyond parades, shops, and sweets.
Plus rumors abound that when the new Pixie Hollow area is fully detailed it will also include a new ride attraction.
So potentially two new "rides", dueling Dumbos, a restaurant, and a series of meet-n-greets that will take character interaction to a whole new level. Not a bad group of additions to a land that has been stagnant since Philharmagic was added in 2003.
Furthermore, the renderings make the place look just beautiful.
I don't see any downside to the changes described, other than the fact that we have to wait almost four years for the complete upgrade.
Sure I would have liked to hear something about a new Fantasyland indoor/outdoor launched coaster with a 500ft drop, 17 inversions, and audio animatronics that feature actual movement instead of strobe light simulation (Y-E-T-I). But let's be realistic... Maybe next year?
And in answer to Bob's question, I don't think it is any huge secret to say that TH is "married to the Mouse." ;-)
However, I still think DHS is 2 or 3 solid family attractions away from being worth the visit and AK could use another couple of family attractions as well. So for me while the expansion should be nice if the same money could have been spent to give me say TLM ride and then another 2 immersive family rides at DHS and AK each then I would have preferred that. Plus it would have spread the crowds out to multiple parks while making my family want to visit the other parks as well.
All this does is make us want to visit the MK more and for our next trip instead of visiting 3 parks (MK, Epcot, AK) maybe we'll only visit 2 (MK and Epcot).
Being male without kids, the expansion at Disney won't do a thing for me. The concept art looks great, and I'm excited for all the 2-13 yr old girls who'll enjoy it, but I'm sure I'm not alone in not being that fussed.
Disney, expansion for 2-13 yr old girls.
IOA, expansion for 2-60 yr old girls & boys!
I Respond: Being male with teenagers who will be 20 and 19 years old when this thing opens doesn't do a whole lot for me either. But I am a Central Floridian, who recognizes the importance tourism has on our economy. I work in commercial construction and I recognize the importance this project will have to my industry. Further, the concepts presented in the video shown on You Tube are amazing. And while I don't fit the princess' target audience, I am still very interested to see what a Lasseter led WDI does with what will be the most ambitious expansion to the greatest theme park on the planet since it opened in 1971.
Don't worry, TH, I am sure your beloved Jungle Cruise will survive, but Swiss Family Treehouse and the Tiki Room will not.
Say it with me: "Arrrrrrrr!"
As for your comment, I agree completely. A trip to Orlando without a visit to both Disney and Universal is like eating peanut butter without jelly, or vice versa. Throw in SeaWorld for good measure (consider it the bread for your pb&j sandwich), and you have a trip worthy of the 18 hour drive and $5000 expense.
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
And no, TH, nothing is confirmed, in fact, Imagineer Eric Jacobson stated at the D23 Expo that Aladdin WILL remain in Adventureland, and NOT be converted to the second Dumbo spinner as rumored.
But then, Disney has denied many rumors before and they turned out to be true.
And, GADS, why would the park need FOUR midway spinners anyway? Ugh!
Otherwise they should leave it as is.
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This BLOWS POTTER AWAY!