Theme Park of the Day: Disney's Animal Kingdom

Vote of the week: Walt Disney World's answer to Universal's Harry Potter?

July 16, 2010, 10:06 AM · With the ongoing success of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter bringing new fans to Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure theme park, it's clear that Walt Disney World isn't going to let this challenge pass unanswered.

Last year, Disney announced an ambitious plan to expand the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland.

Fantasyland expansion

And rumor mills continue to buzz with plans to revive Beastly Kingdom at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Or long-rumored plans to add an Australia section to that park. The latest rumor is of a "Star Wars Land" at Disney's Hollywood Studio, anchored by the new version of Star Tours that is to debut next year, but also including a new Star Wars-themed stunt show in the existing Indiana Jones theater.

So which of these plans, if any, would motivate you to book at extra visit to the Walt Disney World Resort? Remember, the only plan officially announced at this time is the Fantasyland expansion. The others are conjecture, at this stage. And if none of these ideas work for you, why not submit your dream plan in the comments below?

Thanks for voting, and for reading Theme Park Insider. Have a great weekend!

Replies (59)

July 16, 2010 at 10:48 AM · Disney should go for an out and out coaster park to rival Islands of Adventure.
July 16, 2010 at 10:52 AM · I'm both a star wars an Indy fan but I would hate to see them take away the stunt show. It's one of the things I look foward to at DHS. I voted for Beastly Kingdome! AK is my favorite park in the entire world. Adding the long awaited Dragon Tower, Quest For The Unicorn, and Fantasia river would make AK a full day park (I think it's a full day park already but hey). So if anyone from Disney is reading this, put Festival Of The Lion King in Africa and make Beastly Kingdome now! It will be the best answer to Harry Potter. If you can dream it, you can do it, so let's get to it. WORD!
July 16, 2010 at 11:06 AM · Harry Potter is a pop culture phenomenon, and while I would love to see Beastly Kingdom finally open up at Animal Kingdom, the logical counter to Harry Potter are more Star Wars themed attractions.
July 16, 2010 at 11:16 AM · i work for disney! i know them! it be nice but they will not but money in it like universal did to HP.
July 16, 2010 at 11:22 AM · We would like a Disneyland Park at South American, maybe in Brazil!
July 16, 2010 at 11:35 AM · I would add the Indiana Jones ride where the Indiana Jones stunt show is located.
July 16, 2010 at 11:43 AM · Gotta go with 'Star Wars Land'. There's so much they can do with a Star Wars themed land that can run any numbers of gamuts, that I'd be amazed if it isn't done. In fact, I'm amazed it HASN'T been done yet. Star Tours is a great ride, and liable to be even better with the advent of 2.0, but a whole land with immersive themeing and a number of Star Wars inspired rides/shows would probably bring in quite a few people, especially the long-time fans of the series.
July 16, 2010 at 11:46 AM · I voted for the 'Star Wars Land,' but I really think it would take much more than a new Star Tours ride and stunt show to rival the WWoHP. If done right, I think it would be amazing, but let's face it, Lucas could really design an entire theme park of his own devoted to Star Wars! Would one little "land" inside DHS do it justice? It may for the average theme park fan, but what about all of those Star Wars geeks?

I consider myself to be a "partial" SW geek -- my husband, on the other hand, has been completely geeked out since he was a kid! We've often talked about this concept since he's in the attraction/theme park design business himself. To do it right, I think you would need to create various "lands," such as Tatooine, Naboo, Hoth, the Death Star, Dagobah, Cloud City, etc. Can you just imagine the possibilities?

July 16, 2010 at 11:46 AM · a rollercoaster island at least 6 new coasters
July 16, 2010 at 11:46 AM · The new Fantasyland expansion. It will be the largest expansion of the most successful theme park on the planet. The landscaping and area development will be STUNNING. The NextGen interactive elements sound ambitious and promising. The early field tests of talking characters is BEYOND charming.

With all due respect, Potter is one ride and two retrofits. Fantasyland is a brand new area introducing multiple new attractions and technology.

July 16, 2010 at 12:02 PM · The real answer to Harry Potter Land that Disney needs to give to the world---A new theme park. Inasmuch as Beastly Kingdom was supposed to be an integral part of DAK, Disney Imagineers have always tossed around the concept of a heroes/villains park. The Beastly Kingdom concept was supposed to incorporate some of the aspects of the heroes/villains park/land, but just as BK doesn't really fit well with AK, neither does the heroes/villains concept.

Disney is always looking for ways to get guests to spend more and more time on property, and what better way than to give them another theme park to explore. The last true expansion of Disney World occurred in 1998 with DAK. That theme park finished a facelift a couple of years ago. EPCOT's Futureworld just finished a big renovation, and MK is about to get it's biggest infusion of cash since Splash Mountain. There's very little renovation needed to keep guests coming through the gates, as all four parks operate at or near capacity for more than half the year. With limited expansion space in each of the park's masterplans, aside from EPCOT, which could still use some Futureworld "tweaking" at the Energy, Life, and Imagination (after Captain EO publicity dies down) pavillions along with the new country spaces (Spain, Greece, India, etc...), there's very little Disney can do to get more guests through the turnstyles. New attractions would get guests in, but on the busiest days of the year, the maximum capacity of the parks doesn't change. A 5th theme park would increase that maximum capacity and give Imagineers a new palate to work with, especially a set of colors/characters that other theme parks take advantage of, and Disney is always accused of ignoring.

Additionally, while most people who come here for theme park information understand that Harry Potter Land is just a small corner of Islands of Adventure, Universal is marketing it as an entirely new theme park, and lots of people are buying the promotion hook line and sinker, as evidenced by guests willing to stand in line for 4-6 hours just to get into the tiny corner of IOA while Spiderman, Hulk, and other IOA rides operate with 30 minute or shorter lines. The best way for Disney to combat that would be to announce a new theme park of their own. Along with the acquisition of the Marvel properties, a heroes/villains park would provide the balanced family experience guests expect out of Disney, while Universal is stuck with the limited, yet pretty wide, net cast by Harry Potter. Disney characters span the gammit of interest from the very young to the very old, while the Marvel characters hit home with the teens and young adults. Harry Potter is certainly popular with the adults, but it's core audience is very similar to the Marvel audience, one that Disney sometimes ignores.

Most of the Marvel concepts would be tricky to pull of because of the presence of so many of those characters at IOA, but I can think of one successful character/group of characters that has ZERO presence at IOA, and that is Iron Man/The Avengers (minus Hulk). Over the next few years, multiplexes will be innundated with these characters (Thor, Captain America, and eventually an Avengers movie), and while Disney would have to move fast to capitalize on the initial interest in these characters, they've all had pretty wide appeal over the years, and will likely spawn very successful franchises in years to come. Much like how IOA is anchored heavily by it's Marvel Superhero Island, a Disney heroes/villains park could have an entire land dedicated to the newly acquire Marvel properties.

Other sections of the park could be dedicated to iconic Disney villains like Maleficent, Jafar, Lotso, Ursula, and Scar. Fantasia's sequence "Night on Bald Mountain" has always been batted around as a concept for DAK's BK project, but would fit the mountain requirement needed for a successful Disney park (TOT has always been the "mountain" for DHS), and could even serve as the park's central icon (Tree of Life, Castle, Ball, Hat).

I'm a huge Star Wars fan, and while a park or an entire section of a park based on one of my favorite movies of all time would be cool, there's really no need for Disney to spend all of that money on overpriced intellectual property when they've got so much great stuff in-house. Updating Star Tour was a necessity, but expanding Star Wars further is a waste, and DHS is already an undersized park with a serious identity problem. A Star Wars stunt show would certainly be cool, but not what I would call a serious expension of the brand within DHS that could compete with Harry Potter. Also, Disney already taps in really well with the Star Wars audience through the Star Wars weekends and the super-popular Jedi Training Academy. In reality, if Disney wanted to do Star Wars justice, there's just not enough space in DHS to pull it off, and upgrading Star Tours and overlaying Star Wars on the Indy Stunt Show is not going to get Star Wars fans to geek out any more than they already do.

The best way Disney can get fight back against Harry Potter Land is to fight fire with fire, and launch Disney World's 5th full-day theme park, Disney's Heroes and Villains.

July 16, 2010 at 12:18 PM · i love fantasy land.if there is going to be an expansion will they please add another peter pan ride. this is a ride for children, but disney does not take into consideration the long lines that the kids need to wait in,even late at night. spend money on making it more comfortable for the kids and the parents. its sooooo obvious to the people that stand in line with little ones,its not to you, the people who run the park? now to let you know, iam 66 years old and its not fun for me and i know whats going on, little ones dont. sometimes outsiders see more than the workers. same problem at disneyland. what? we have visited many times to both. we do love disney. we are lucky here in san francisco, we have the disney museum. very nice. thank you for listening, thanks walt.
July 16, 2010 at 12:19 PM · The Fantasyland expansion will be beautiful. The Little Mermaid ride will be nice but I strongly doubt, it will be up to the level of the Forbidden Journey at IOA. The rest is just some meet-n-greets and another Dumbo. I wish Disney would have added something else. I'm still looking forward to it but not half as much as I was waiting for the Wizarding World to open.
July 16, 2010 at 12:44 PM · I heard a rumor that Disney is buying up all of the land around Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. Can anyone confirm or deny this? If it is true what are Disney's intentions?

Thank You

July 16, 2010 at 1:16 PM · Animal Kingdom can't get back to its full glory without some assistance. I say build a new land in the AK, either Australia or Beastly Kingdom, put one or two attention grabbers there, take some time to refurbish Everest, and AK could surpass Hollywood and Universal Studios.
July 16, 2010 at 1:34 PM · While I think the fantasyland expansion is a great idea (although they did go a little heavy on the girly meet and greets), and I think it was a needed enhancement that should be happening, I think Animal Kingdom needs something added to it. Really, I don't think it's as important for a whole new land as a new E-ticket attraction. I think they just need to alternate adding E-ticket attractions to the other parks (Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollwood Studios) for the next couple of years. AND CAN WE PLEASE GET MATTERHORN MOUNTAIN IN ORLANDO!! Add it to one of the parks, that would be worth a visit!!
July 16, 2010 at 1:34 PM · My solution? WDW should close a theme park.

Why? Because Disney is at its best when it does what it did for WDW Phase 1 or what has happened with the Disneyland Resort. That is, bundling a bunch of different functions (attractions, hotels, dining, retail, recreation) into complete, multiuse resort destinations.

So, I propose Disney close the D-Hollywood Studios as a separately-gated park. It should be converted into a single, integrated complex containing resort hotels, nighttime entertainment, destination retail, large-scale meeting space, recreation, AND attractions.

As part of this, Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset could be converted into a Hollywoodland Resort. New multi-floor hotel buildings could be built adjacent to the existing structures. These two streets could then become a food/retail/entertainment corridor similar to the Boardwalk thoroughfare. This space would be open to hotel guests and non-guests alike.

The ends of these streets would feature three separately-gated, small scale destination attractions: PIXAR Place, A Star Wars or Lucas-themed land (which I guess would be Indy + Star Wars + I dunno...Willow? Tucker?), and a Nighttime attraction anchored by Tower, Rockin'Rollercoaster, and the Fantasmic ampitheater, with a reborn Adventurers Club and a proper haunted house helping to fill out the place (plus: booze).

The objective with these "mini attractions" would be twofold: 1) Offer moderately priced tickets(maybe $50/day...similar to Typhoon or Blizzard) that can be considered "cheap" in the Orlando market, enticing an extra-day stay 2) Provide a more robust (and spendy) "kicker" to multiday passes, something that would include the waterparks and this.

On a bigger scale, taking D-Hollywood Studios off the "big dog" theme park grid would allow Disney to not need to focus on the many, many problems this park has. The mini attractions could be addressed with a different approach and budgeting structure. The addition of other revenue streams (DVC anyone?) would bring new oportunity to this property.

AND by doing this, Disney could recommit to its three remaining parks, building each one up as a multi-day experience. Remember when Disney used to tout EPCOT Center as a two-day park (in part to push three day passports)? Well, back then it really was! Maybe it still is, but without headliners that drive that mindset, most guests don't buy that theory.

So: close the studios. Use existing assets as tentpoles for new development that provides more moderately-priced experiences that provide alternatives ways to play or IP not available elsewhere. Use teh energy that woudl be split between four parks and concentrate it on three, bolstering each to what most guests believe to be a multi-day attraction.

July 16, 2010 at 1:36 PM · people are sick of disney world, and Orlando. Branson, Mo is wide open for something like that. Branson needs something new and exciting. The theaters are nice, but a GREAT theme park ( silver dollar city is getting boring) I am tired of going there) Why don't someone put in a great theme park in Branson? It is located in the middle of the USA. Someone needs to wake up!!!
July 16, 2010 at 1:38 PM · I want Cars land like they are putting in at Disney's California. The Cars themed ride/attraction sounds like one of the best new attractions I have heard the American Disney parks talk about opening!
July 16, 2010 at 2:05 PM · Beastly Kingdom would invigorate the Animal Kingdom, and could allow for it to remain open later in the evening, if it is put into the Camp Minnie-Mickey area. It would also be great if they built a separate lake there, with the attractions around it, and put on an elaborate fountain show there, something like a World of Color with an animal theme. They already have the technology down, so it could just be an overlay on what they've already done in California. They could also import the Journey to the Center of the Earth from DisneySea, which could serve as an anchor attraction and give the park some additional thrills.
July 16, 2010 at 2:19 PM · EPCOT-Egypt pavilion: Dark ride through an ancient pyramid.

Future World-Re-do Universe of Energy with a dark ride based on the Weather to include different climates and include hurricanes, lightning, tornados, tidal waves, floods,winds and rain, etc.

Animal Kingdom-Beastly Kingdom with Journey to the Center of the Earth (Volcano for Disney Sea's)

Disney Studios-The Great Disney Movie Ride-Re-themed to post animatronics and music from classic Disney movies. It could start out with older movies and the technology could progress. (Cinderella, Aladdin, Lion King, Mermaid) (No Pixar)

Disney Studios-(Back Lot) create a scary dark ride based on the Resident Evil video games. Create the creepy mansion façade and gardens in front. (Kind of a Haunted Mansion for teenagers and adults) Animatronic zombies!!

Magic Kingdom-Scrape the two Dumbo’s and put in an Aladdin dark ride. It could highlight the cave of wonders, Genie on the Island, Jasmine and Aladdin at the balcony, the parade, and Jafar.

July 16, 2010 at 2:23 PM · EPCOT-Egypt pavilion: Dark ride through an ancient pyramid.

Future World-Re-do Universe of Energy with a dark ride based on the Weather to include different climates and include hurricanes, lightning, tornados, tidal waves, floods,winds and rain, etc.

Animal Kingdom-Beastly Kingdom with Journey to the Center of the Earth (Volcano from Disney Sea's)

Disney Studios-The Great Disney Movie Ride-Re-themed to post animatronics and music from classic Disney movies. It could start out with older movies and the technology could progress. (Cinderella, Aladdin, Lion King, Mermaid) (No Pixar)

Disney Studios-(Back Lot) create a scary dark ride based on the Resident Evil video games. Create the creepy mansion façade and gardens in front. (Kind of a Haunted Mansion for teenagers and adults) Animatronic zombies!!

Magic Kingdom-Scrape the two Dumbo’s and put in an Aladdin dark ride. It could highlight the cave of wonders, Genie on the Island, Jasmine and Aladdin at the balcony, the parade, and Jafar.

July 16, 2010 at 2:40 PM · Villians Park to with coasters and fire mountain.
July 16, 2010 at 3:28 PM · Who has any desire to go to Branson, MO? I sure don't!
July 16, 2010 at 3:38 PM · I think they might have a big hit with a "Twilight" themed section perhaps in Hollywood studios.
July 16, 2010 at 4:05 PM · The most obvious setpiece for a "Star Wars Stunt Spectacular" would be the Jabba's Sail Barge escape and battle over the Sarlacc Pit from "Return of the Jedi". There are a lot of stunts, none of them in outer space, and the Tatooine locale is perfect for the hot Summer temperatures the show is generally seen in.
July 16, 2010 at 5:12 PM · Following on from the Fantasyland expansion Disney have to look towards improving AK.

At present there's three and a half parks at Walt Disney World and to turn AK into a fully-fledged Disney Park it needs an addition land, with one E-Ticket attraction alongside two or three high-quality attractions.

Whilst there's no doubt the addition of Expedition Everest was a success one attraction simply wasn't enough to change the fortunes of the park.

If I was given $100 million now (The cost of Everest) I'd add two or three high-quality attractions rather than another large scale single attraction.

July 16, 2010 at 5:15 PM · Eh... sure Branson is in the middle of the USA... but the people sure aren't. Most of America's population is hanging onto the borders of the country (From Washington to California to Texas to Florida and up to New Jersey)

Hmmmm, a Disney theme park in New Jersey. Hmmmmm. Pyra likey!

July 16, 2010 at 6:08 PM · 'Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey' is (without question) the most extraordinary theme park production in the medium's history. As a single attraction it has set a standard that may be impossible to mirror.
Having acknowledged Universal Creative's achievement, it should be noted that it remains a single attraction. The Fantasyland expansion consists of multiple NEW attractions that are being developed as a part of the largest expansion of the most successful theme park model on the planet.
And while those developments may not satisfy hard core, metal coaster, thrill seekers, there is NO DOUBT that the opening will LOCK Disney's hold on a substantial market share ... families.
Those who are skeptical of my assertions might make note of the TPI discussion page -- and the recently advanced topic "Toddlers on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey?"

July 16, 2010 at 6:34 PM · I vote for star wars land. There is so much material to work from. An X-wing themed coaster would be so cool. A cantina style music show, jedi vs sith stunt show plus there are a ton of things you could do as dark rides.

As to the person that recommended a Matterhorn in Florida, they already have one. What do you think Expedition Everest is? Just think about it. Disney is the king of clone rides and re-imaged rides.

July 16, 2010 at 7:21 PM · Other:

Someone, somwhere needs to develop attractions based upon the rich fantasy world of Tolkien's (and Peter Jackson's) Lord of the Rings. Tell me you wouldn't want to face the fires of Mt. Doom in a bullet coaster à la Fire Mountain. Or travel to the frightening depths of the Mines of Moria. How about a visit to Rivendell, Minas Tirith, or Lothlórien?

Lord of the Rings, baby, now that would be awesome.

July 16, 2010 at 7:46 PM · One thing I think Disney World lacks and has always lacked is there's just not enough thrill rides. I'm not really talking about moderate/mild thrils. I'm talking about "I'm REALLY not sure if I want to get on this" type of rides. Tower of Terror, Expedition Everest are probably the closest things to that. I think that's what brings people to amusement parks these days. Something that will scare them silly, but yet they still want to ride it over and over again. Two of the best rides in the world are at Islands of Adventure (Spiderman, Forbidden Journey). People are coming to Universal in bunches because the new Potter ride is a breakthrough in technology. And it's scary. If Disney wants Potter-mania to end, a big-time thrill ride is a must. I voted for Beastly Kingdom b/c to me I think that's the best opportunity to build another E-ticket attraction that will flock visitors to the park just like IOA.
July 16, 2010 at 8:20 PM · Star wars is great! However, I can't envision having its own land. It would be too much star wars and only attract a certain amount of people. One ride is good enough.

Beastly Kingdomme could easily become a rival for the island if it was done right. Thrilling attractions and great theming would have to be implemented.

Fantasyland Expansion will be the thing to put Disney back on top. I'm with TH on this one, it will be beautiful and magnificent. It will keep Disney World on top and become an amazing new addition to Magic Kingdom.

Australia won't exactly be wowing people and attracting them away from IOA. While its a good idea, its not what the company needs to build. It should be built somewhere down the line when they are in need of new rides for AK. But of course this should be done once a WS expansion is completed, once Beastly Kingdomme is built, once DHS is given a major facelift, and once FW acquires some new rides.

July 16, 2010 at 8:33 PM · I love the Lord of the Rings possibility! That would be great if disney could pull it off. Universal might do better considering disney is very much family oriented and i don't think you could make a family oriented Lord of the rings attraction unless it's like a hobbit festival or something like that.
July 17, 2010 at 12:12 AM · Well since the highest grossing movie of all time is now avatar (I don't know why, I didn't like it), something centered around that or twilight or lord of the rings would be a solution
July 17, 2010 at 5:21 AM · Well Ive just finished reading them all. And have just one question. Why does WDW Co. Not take some of the best Toyko Seas has to offer and build a whole new park? And Im a little tired of hearing "We a faimly based theme park, Its all about the Children". When the big wigs will over look that in the Paris and Japan properties. As far as the Beastly Kingdom being built this theme park junkie doesnt see it happening. COuld have been done or at least sarted with Expedition...Which I do belive was on the model for AK way back as well as Dueling Dragons.
July 17, 2010 at 6:27 AM · I'll focus on Disney Hollywood Studios -- So many good ideas have been listed here already, so I don't want to repeat them all, but I think expanding Star Wars into a larger attraction (or "land," if you will) with an additional thrill component PLUS adding more Fantasmic performances (are they down to once a week?) PLUS an overhaul of the Great Movie Ride would help me want to return to Hollywood Studios. Since the site is not a working production facility, I would re-vamp the Backlot Tour or even get rid of it to make room for another attraction. A big, fun, thrilling water ride would be a welcome respite from the unbearable heat in that park. In my opinion, DHS shouldn't try to imitate Universal Studios, it should be more innovative and capitalize on the theming and magic that make WDW and Disney so special. BTW, my 2 teens would still choose WDW over Universal, if given the choice, despite HP.
July 17, 2010 at 7:36 AM · I think Fantasyland Expansion could be Disney's strike back at Harry Potter since the big draw is one big ride and unbelievable theming. While I am apprehensive about it being geared more towards the girls, the theming should be spectacular. I am also looking forward to entering Gaston's Tavern (sans beer) and the Ballroom from Beauty and the Beast.
July 17, 2010 at 8:59 AM · Perhaps there should be a bit more context to frame the thread's topic ("Walt Disney World's answer to Universal's Harry Potter?".

Murph-Tone offers a common comment: "While I am apprehensive about it being geared more towards the girls ..."

I would respond (using hypothetical numbers): If the addition to Potter bounces IOA's revenue by $1 million dollars but the MK Fantasyland expansion bumps revenue by $3 million is it still considered an "answer to Potter" when the two attractions play to two different demographics?

July 17, 2010 at 10:33 AM · Didn't the Disney Prez just said no more $ being spent for the next decade? OK to dream but Disney is not going to ever compete against HP and just rest on the millions that will show up anyway. They looked into the US economy and have decided not to invest further. Time for Universal and SeaWorld to shine. BTW just got back from Sea World San Antonio and was amazed by Azul. We saw it twice and everyone loved it and wanted more. I did think of Avatar from it. Hopefully it will expand to Orlando. We frequent and love Orlando. But usually don't visit SW often but Azul puts it way up there. Much better than the current Orlando dolphin show. The show is great. Best theme park show ever.
July 17, 2010 at 12:35 PM · I agree with James Rao regarding 'Lord of the Rings'. That could be tremendous. Whatever they do it has to be something that'll last, not just a passing craze. Star Wars can be said to fit that bill. As well as another theme park, I do believe there is room for another water park. Something that irons out the queueing problem at Blizzard Beach.
July 17, 2010 at 12:39 PM · For all in the know: Universal is not done with WWOHP. More will be added in the next few years.
July 17, 2010 at 12:43 PM · Incidently, the "answer to Potter is secondary to the gravitational pull of 2021. A question with (perhaps) greater weight is "What will WDW look like when it celebrates its 50th anniversary?"
July 17, 2010 at 4:56 PM · Please not Star Wars. Please...

Beastly Kingdom never came about for a reason, Disney isn't the kind of company to go backwards. I would love an Australia themed land, but I don't see how it would fit.

Instead of Star Wars, maybe a Lucasfilm themed land as they are already half way there, with a classic dark ride based on the first Indiana Jones film (complete with face-melting Nazis).

I'd really love to see a ride based on Hercules that takes you through lots of Ancient Greek mythology, however there is no Greece in Epcot at the moment, so that would mean making a new country (Where? Do they have space?).

July 18, 2010 at 4:02 PM · A lot of great ideas here, but lets' be realistic - the anonymous poster is right. Disney announced that there would not be major expansions for the next decade. That rules out a new theme park and probably a new land.

What about Tomorrowland? Its last refurbishment was in 1998 and they didn't exactly hit the nail on the head with it. Sometime ago, I recall a thread that suggested Lasseter's team of artists and engineers should completely redesign Tomorrowland in the perfectionist style of Pixar. The rides can remain intact (except for the Indy Speedway - yeesh) but the restaurants, shops, and theming could get a massive makeover to coincide with Tomorrowland's refurbished neighbour.

Alternatively, focus on improving individual sections of each park. Scrap Chester and Hester's Dino-Rama. Improve the Backlot Tour. Fix the Yeti. Update Universe of Energy, Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, Maelstrom, and Innoventions. There's plenty of fixes to be taken care of around the World.

July 19, 2010 at 8:40 AM · There simply IS nothing Disney can produce that will compare with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
July 19, 2010 at 12:51 PM · I'd personally love to see ALL of the ideas tackled eventually, but mostly a Beastly Kingdom or Australia addition to DAK.

Beastly - I really don't get why people say this doesn't fit with the general DAK. Especially if they put in other E-ticket rides like a new 20k Leagues and/or Journey to the Center of the Earth. Rides that mimic the "Expedition" feel of Everest, Dinosaur, and Kilimanjaro Safari and yet have a fantastical creature element to them. Both Everest and Dino are fantasy-based rides (Yeti, Time travel) and have already laid the foundation for Beastly's fantasy. Having a main attraction in each area that is a journey-based ride would be cohesive and help tie all of the areas together.

Journey/Center of the Earth (like Tokyo's) would supply the much needed second roller coaster to DAK, while the 20K Leagues ride would also be a much needed-indoor (well, underwater) ride, AND would be an instant draw by those of us who look back on the original with fondness. This area could remain open later due to the lack of animals, AND also feature a nighttime show like the World of Color show that would finally be the equivalent to the fireworks shows at the other three parks and would have minimal impact on the animals.

Or if they did not want to go with the Jules Verne route, they could always do a rollercoaster ride based on Maleficent, and therefor fulfill the Dragon-lore of the area AND bring in some villain magic which Disney really needs to inject into the parks with actual theming. (Scar for Africa, Shere Khan in Asia, etc).

Australia - Has some amazing visuals and areas, and has enough diverse fauna to have a whole 'trail' like Africa and Asia do. The Rescuers Down Under already fits into the conservation feel of the entire park, and could be used to bring in some other child-level rides for the young ones, which currently only exist in Dino area. Also could bring in another wet&wild ride with the Great Barrier Reef, a Soarin' type ride, and an Outback Safari/Walkabout to match Kilimanjaro.

I would think that the Fantasia theme would work better in the new Fantasyland. MK could then open a fourth "mountain" based on Bald Mountain. Tomorrowland could get a big kick from the Tron franchise, regardless of how well or poorly the new movie does. Song of the South/Splash Mountain is proof that the source material does not need to be current or even popular for a ride to be popular.

Or Fantasia in HS. I mean, the icon of the park is from Fantasia, no less. HS needs a better layout and/or removal of the backlot area which really has nothing to draw people in. Expanding the Star Wars area is fine, especially since it's balanced by Pixar Place, but I don't want to see the Indiana Jones stunt get shuttered for it. It seems to me that there's already a whole lot of unused space in the park to begin with.

July 19, 2010 at 3:54 PM · I agree with the idea of a coaster park especially now that disney has rights to marvel. Back in the 90's there were rumors after the demise of the Virginia project of a project for WDW property called project steel. Hope it comes to pass.
July 19, 2010 at 5:21 PM · Joshua writes: "Disney announced that there would not be major expansions for the next decade."

I Respond: Well .... Mr. Iger made a comment in an interview. I'm not sure that constitutes an "announcement."

July 19, 2010 at 7:58 PM · To anyone posting about Twilight:
that would really, really not work. The thing about HP is that it has a very unique set of characteristics that make it perfect for theme park recreation.
1. It has a HUGE demographic. You will find people of EVERY age, gender, and race that love HP. Twilight, for the most part, only appeals to women and mostly teen/pre-teens. Nobody else would want to go to that land. Nobody.
2. HP has a HUGE fanbase. In addition to the obsessed, addicted Potter fanatics, there are millions of passive fans that would be happy to spend money at a theme park. Twilight tends to be more polarized. Usually people love it or hate it. There are far fewer middle ground fnas, and as a result there are fewer fans period. In addition, HP has become such a cultural thing that you would be hard put to find a child that didn't know something about it. Heck, I didn't read the books until this year but just from hearing my friends talk about it I knew all the major deaths, several big reveals, the ending itself, and the epilogue! non-Twilight fans tend to only know that it's about a girl named Bella who falls for a vampire named Edward Cullen.
3. HP presents a fanciful, magical, different world that lends itself well to theming. Twilight takes place in gloomy, rainy Forks, Washington - a totally normal town (environmentally speaking, not population-wise). What would the theming look like for such a park? Fake rain? Can they even do that?
4. HP is the kind of thing parents will (and are) pass(ing) on to their children. It has become a classic. Twilight probably won't be a classic. Thus, it doesn't have the ability to withstand the test of time as a park. Disney is not going to want to build something that they will have to tear down in a decade when no one likes it anymore.

On a different note,
I absolutely love the Indiana Jones stunt show and would hate to see it replaced, even by a Star Wars show (which I'm sure I would also love). I much prefer the idea of expanding the area to a sort of Lucasland. However, I doubt they will ever do that because there just aren't enough Lucas fans to make it viable. Like I said, it's not like HP where literally every child in the country knows at least the very basic plot of the stories. Many of my friends (most of whom a very nerdy) have only seen some or none of the Indiana Jones or Star Wars moves, but ALL of them have read or seen Harry Potter. It's just not the same.
The same goes for Lord of the Rings, for the most part.
Keep in mind that sometimes it's not amount of fans, but fan personality. I have a friend who has read LOTR over 20 times...but she abhors theme parks and I doubt she would brave one even for her beloved LOTR.

Basically, Disney is screwed until they can find something equally perfect for themeparking. =P

July 20, 2010 at 4:28 PM · Do not underestimate the power of the Darkside....err...I mean the Star Wars Franchise. Sure the original trilogy is over 25 years old, but it is still very much a beloved group of movies and every bit the cultural phenomenon that Potter is. The prequels, ok maybe not so much, but they introduced the Star Wars universe to a new generation that in turn rediscovered the original films. Speaking of the original films, they as well as the other three will all be converted to 3D sometime in the near future and once again be released theatrically. Also, the Clone Wars show is wildly popular amongst the younger and older fans because of it being so entertaining and well produced. The show has hit it's stride and will continue to produce more seasons for years to come. Also, don't forget that the Live Action TV series has yet to debut, which will be set right in the middle of the two trilogies and should do well to introduce many expanded universe characters as well as bridging the gap between the polished high tech prequels, and the gritty used world of the original movies. Expect another strong resurgence of interest once that happens. With no major network attached to the project yet, don't be surprised if it ends up on the Disney owned ABC once it's all said and done. Speaking of expanded universe, the star wars franchise has countless books, comics, and extremely well produced video games that allow fans to further immerse themselves in the mythology. This is a franchise that has immense potential, a proven track record, and quite honestly is the king of the mountain when it comes to any type of modern day franchise hoping to achieve long lasting public interest and staying power. Oh and as far as new theatrical movies are concerned, rumor has it that Lucas hasn't completely ruled that out either. With him indicating that he would rather not direct, and turn the reigns over to some of his director friends that he went to film school with, which if you are familiar with any of his friends, you would find such news very intriguing as well as exciting.
July 20, 2010 at 4:48 PM · Part 1

A expansion to Fantasyland will not be enough to help WDW compete agaisnt The Wizarding World of Harry Potter or IOA in general. When people ride an attraction they want to be Wowed and have their breath taken away. There are very few rides at WDW that do that other than Rockin Roll Coaster, Tower of Terror, Expedition Everset (well sort of), and Toy Story Mania(because of the technology behind it). However IOA and Universal have many rides such as Spiderman, the Hulk, Forbbiden Journey, Dragon Challenge, The Mummy, The Simpsons Ride (well for me it did),Men in Black (becuase of how fun it is compared to Buzz Lightyear), Popeyes( because of how wet you get compared to other rapid rides), Jurassic Park (the T-REX scene mainly), and others do accomplish this and have an "X-facotr" or something about the ride that leaves breathless. Examples of this are the technology behind Spider-Man and Forbidden Journey, The near misses on Dragon Challenge, the fast pace shooting and the bug scene in Men in Black, the T-Rex scene and the drop in Jurassic Park, the visual effects of the Simpsons and the story behind the ride, the special effects of the Mummy, and the launch on the Hulk. In order to compete agaisnt IOA and Universal, WDW needs more thrill rides that leave people shocked.

July 21, 2010 at 5:16 AM · Mr. Badillo writes: "An expansion to Fantasyland will not be enough to help WDW compete agaisnt The Wizarding World of Harry Potter or IOA in general. When people ride an attraction they want to be Wowed and have their breath taken away. There are very few rides at WDW that do that other than Rockin Roll Coaster, Tower of Terror, Expedition Everset (well sort of), and Toy Story Mania."

I Respond: It's interesting how none of the Walt Disney World attractions Mr. Radillo references are in the Magic Kingdom. And yet, according to the Themed Entertainment Association's 2009 Attendance Report, the Magic Kingdom welcomed far more guests (17.2 million) than Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure ... COMBINED (9.9 million).

Considering that the Magic Kingdom (the park without the "wow" rides) has outpaced the Universal parks by such a wide margin, I am not sure what Mr. Radillo means when he writes: "An expansion to Fantasyland will not be enough to help WDW compete agaisnt The Wizarding World of Harry Potter or IOA in general."

July 21, 2010 at 6:02 AM · Wondering about the impact of the Fantasyland expansion? Consider this nugget: Disney Princess annual sales at Disney Consumer Products rose from $300 million in 2001 to approximately $4 billion in 2009.
July 21, 2010 at 6:44 AM · Magic Kingdom has a built in audience. The park is a right of passage experience for many people and will draw huge attendance numbers year in and year out no matter what. The F-Land expansion is icing on what is already a very sweet and sugary princess rich cake. Where most people seem to be getting caught up on, is the fact that this expansion is VERY 12 year old and under, girl centric. Potter has a far broader appeal to it, and quite honestly, Universal needed an influx of innovative themed attractions to compete with Disney. The mouse is king in this town, and the expansion does nothing more than bolster what is, and has always been the leading theme park destination in the industry. I do question the desire to go so far in one direction, without anything that seems to balance out the offerings. Changing the name on a carousel does nothing for little boys. I wonder if we won't see something announced for MK not too far in the future, maybe as the F-Land project nears completion, or shortly there after.
July 21, 2010 at 1:04 PM · Disney needs to get back to basic's first and with the expansion / revamp I think will be a great start. I think MK should be looking more to the past at what can make a great ride, and that like what has been said before doesn't have to be brand new, like the theme for Splash Mountain. MK at least should have a ride that takes through all the big toons that made Disney wot it is, starting with Steam Boat Willie including films like Bambi, Tarzan, lion king, fox and the hound, hunchback, sleeping beauty, Alice in wonderland right up to the pixar movies, you could even have Mickey as your guide through the ride, in a Spider-man (IOA) kinda way to make it bang up to date and thrilling. They could go for a TRON themed ride in TL, a Western/cowboy ride in FL like Men in Black but having shoot outs with cowboys, but you would be on a horse or in a wagon train. Epcot needs rides in the countries like in England they could have a Time machine ride built like old london black cab that take's on a magical mystery tour through time to the beatles and penny lane and the roling stones to King Arthur and knights of the round table, robin hood the list is endless, every country should and could do this! As for the Disney MGM Studios STAR WARS themed land should definately be added it is part of pop culture and known by everyone, referenced in so many other films and TV shows, even my 17 month old boy is already liking it after seeing the muppet show episode with 3-PO and R" in it, bigger than Harry potter by a country mile!! The possibilities for Star Wars themed rides and attractions is endless, and the Indy Ride from Disneyland is a must at DS, as is a crazy Muppet ride, and updates to GMR and backlot. Come on Disney!!!
July 21, 2010 at 1:54 PM · I vote that Disney does some kind of adventure or ride or both with the Twilight saga!!!! It's bigger than the Harry Potter saga. So hurry Disney before Universal gets the idea and runs with it!!!!
July 21, 2010 at 3:42 PM · Anonymous writes: "(The Twilight saga) bigger than the Harry Potter saga.

I Respond: Oh please.

July 21, 2010 at 4:25 PM · Jim Hill Media has a new article (filled with a healthy does of speculation) related to a reconfiguration of the Fantasyland project.

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