Disney's Seven Dwarfs Mine Train starts coasting, but who's getting taken for a ride?
The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster
, under construction at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, is now coasting.
Photo courtesy Disney
Disney Imagineers conducted their first "drop test" of the family coaster that will complete the Magic Kingdom's "New Fantasyland" when it opens in the spring. One of the coaster trains dropped from the ride's station and ran under its own gravity-powered momentum.
This is the latest droplet of information about the ride to trickle from Disney World's PR team over the past months. Each press release and blog post build anticipation for a new attraction. (Or, at least, its publisher hopes that it does. If not, what's the point?) But what happens when too many press releases build anticipation beyond the level a new ride or show can deliver?
That's a risk that PR professionals ought to consider when promoting a new attraction. How would the public have reacted to last summer's Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin attraction at SeaWorld Orlando had that park not promoted it with so many YouTube videos and concept illustrations? Would word-of-mouth from initial riders have been better if they'd had no expectations about the attraction? Would more positive reaction from early riders delivered more visitors to SeaWorld over the ride's first 12 months than a massive publicity burst, especially if that publicity left some visitors with unmet expectations?
Disney's decision to build New Fantasyland in phases, with its centerpiece — the Mine Train — opening last, inevitably raises the attention paid to this ride. We've been talking about it for years now, and following its construction for many months. But there's little in the specs for this ride that suggests it will be anything more than a "D"-ticket level attraction: A nice, solid addition to the park, but not a leading destination that alone convinces potential visitors to book a trip.
But what happens if the publicity convinces some visitors that this will be that sort of attraction, just as SeaWorld's publicity for Antarctica did for that ride? (For what it's worth, I'm walking you through my thought process on whether or not to post on this today. But I thought this an interesting issue worth discussing.)
What do you think? Is Disney overhyping the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train? Or are people who read these releases (either here or through Disney's social media) savvy enough to see through the hype? What are your expectations for the final piece of the New Fantasyland?
I think it is fine. I do not think this will be a D attraction. New Fantasyland has caused many more people to come anyway.
Here we go again.
In my opinion, even though the dwarves mine train is much smaller than the other mountains and that it is in fantasy land, I still think guests will expect a ride experience similar to Big Thunder rather than like Goofy's coaster. Simply for the fact that it's a mountain and since all Disney worlds other mountains are E ticket, it's easy to expect this one to be of the same caliber. Even I have to keep my expectations low because I keep thinking it's going to be a big thunder equivalent when clearly it's not. I am just hoping that the show elements inside are substantial enough to add to the experience so that it gives the illusion of a more exciting ride. On the other hand, if the experience is on par with Goofy, then the demand to ride may lessen thus reducing insanely long lines and crowds gathering around the mountain and congesting fantasy land.
Overall, I think Disney is doing a better job with this than Seaworld parks did with the penguins. Granted, Disney has an advantage in that people expect family friendly coasters from them and they don't have many 'extreme' coasters.
If the quality of the ride corresponded to how long it took to construct it, then the Mine Train coaster would be the best ride at WDW.
I think anyone expecting an E ticket thrill coaster themed around the fairest, most soprano, most demure princess of them all and situated right across from Belle's house and where you go meet Cinderella and ride carousel horsies--just because it has a mountain surrounding the ride structure--isn't necessarily using all of their brain parts. New Fantasyland isn't the place for a Mountain-level coaster, which may be why it is called a mine train, not With A Smile And A Song Mountain.
Yes you can and will over sell a product the way Disney is doing. This happens in the game industry for years and I guess due to the lack of new attractions stuff to show even the toilets get their own endless slew of blog posts on the official Disney blog site. Does it disappoint? No, you can do a number 1 and 2. The only thing that is missing is a ride photo and a hug section to say farewell to your former donut.
As the merlin group have perhaps taught us, there's no such thing as "overhype" when it comes to a coaster... Thirteen's supposed plans pre-completion for a maximum of one ride per day due to the horror or someting... the planted stories about pilots objecting to the wrecked plane themeing for swarm...
I'm gonna go out on a limb here and agree with both Robert and TH. Like TH, I believe that the core audience for this ride -- families with children -- will love it and it will not be a disappointment. However, I also agree with Robert that it's taken waaaaaaay too darn long to build the thing, and too much hype has gone along with that... I mean, Universal built a fully-realized Hogsmeade in what seemed like half the time it's taken to build the mine train.... and whether that is true or not, it certainly only took Universal about 9 months to bring Transformers in Orlando from speculation to reality.
Robert, I usually agree with you spot-on...but we are on two very different pages on this.
I think there's no way not to over hype this ride like you mention. Like another commenter said, the big issue is the time that it's taken to build the attraction. If it had arrived with the majority of New Fantasyland, it would have been part of a package. I think the phased approach is the main issue.
Not to mention, Harry Potter was advertised to death too. Worked out pretty ok for them...
I'm glad that the park honored Walt's original vision of an area themed to a bright tacky circus carnival, its the reason he built the park. Adding live clowns to it is the Disney magic at its best. This is what sets Disney apart from Universal.
I don't think anybody expects this to be more than a good ride that's part of a MK refurb that's much needed after stuff like Stitch and Laugh Factory.
One of the commenters said something sarcastic about Walt not wanting a "tacky circus" area in his parks.
I'm still amazed on what a pass Universal gets from theme park fans. No one ever mentions that in the Wizarding World, Universal just repurposed two existing steel coasters and minimally rethemed them to Harry Potter. But, they left all of that steel exactly as is and cheaped-out on doing anything at all to make those two coasters really blend with the surrounding Harry Potter theming.
Because Annette, who cares if you can The Lost Continent from Wizarding World of a Harry Potter? They are right next to each other. I can see Adventureland from Tomorrowland. I can see Tomorrowland from Fantasyland. I could go on, but you hopefully get my point. It isn't a big deal, and if it was, every theme park would be at fault for letting a guest see another land while in a certain land. It's pretty much unavoidable.
Robert, I'm curious if you've any knowledge of how well NFE is being received. Reports around the web suggest that the internal visitor feedback surveys have been negative so far - expectations from advertising of a finished product/reality building site in the centre.
Anonymous poster above said: "If the quality of the ride corresponded to how long it took to construct it, then the Mine Train coaster would be the best ride at WDW."
I am a roller coaster nut. Make them fast and make people sick. I love the new Texas Giant and the hyper coasters. That being said, I firmly believe that this is an E ticket item. I do not expect, nor do I need this to be super fast to be great. It is a family coaster. Not all of my family likes fast rides. We can all ride this together. Also, Magic Kingdom is not about the thrill rides, but how to have fun as a child (or inner child). The other thing for coaster fans is that it does something new. I am not aware of any coaster that has the car swing side to side. Further, this mechanism totally is in line with its theme from the movie. It fits everything to be a centerpiece ride: it is appropriately themed, it matches the area where it is set, it does something new, it is a family ride near other family attractions, and it looks fun. I just hope it opens by this coming spring break.
Great article. I agree that it is hyped too much and should be scaled back- New Fantasyland was a let down when I visited, great ideas and looks beautiful, but it should have been added and expanded with ongoing upgrades.
If it is bad A roller coasters you want, Disney is not where you should be going. For the best immersive theme experience it is THE place.
Wow, I thought this was going to be a fairly elaborate dark ride with mild coaster elements. I didn't know it was going to just be a kiddie coaster with better scenery. My expectations have just been lowered considerably.
A kiddie coaster an E ticket? Someone has been drinking the Kool-Aid out of an expensive souvenir cup with two ears on it...
Quick comment: This may mean a lot to some people on this page and cause their expectations to go up or down (because its more of an insider language), but to the average theme park attendee the words "E-ticket" and so on mean very little. They just know its a new attraction.
Here's my problem with the Mine Train. From what concept art and construction suggests, this will mostly be a coaster with little story. I would have no problem if the storytelling was on the level of or slightly below/above something like Gringotts. As long as the theme is well represented, the ride system could be the worst in the world and I'd still consider it a great experience. If the dark ride portions are few and short, I will consider the ride disappointing. I hope to be wrong once the final product is revealed.
I think the way they are going about promoting the ride is just fine. I feel that most people go to Disney for the overall experience rather than just the rides. I do feel the mine train coaster is going to be a great addition, but I don't think it is expected to be a momentous addition like Everest was to Animal Kingdom.
I couldn't agree with you more Robert. I have been following the attraction scene for years now and this over hyping seems to have popped up within the last couple of years. I could be wrong. I don't remember such over exposure by Universal for Harry Potters Forbidden Journey. Sure they had a big press event to announce it and you frequently saw pictures of the show building and Hogsmeade but they ride itself was pretty much a mystery until it opened. What a ride it is! I guess they knew a ride that innovative could stand on its own merit. This is also another close tie between attractions and movies. Generally speaking when the studios spend huge amounts of money to promote films, the films aren't that good.
When is this thing supposed to open? Is there anything more firm(ish) than early 2014?
Of course the Dwarfs Mine Train is overhyped. They can't help but overhype it since it is overdue. It was a long time coming and everyone who was disappointed with the New Fastasyland that opened to construction walls still remaining will have an opportunity to be further disappointed when the train ride proves to only be kiddie fare, slowly rocking you to sleep in the new rocking seat. When will it open in 2014? Are we still 6 months away or longer?
Well, while they have retained the characters and upgraded the ride housing, they have completely lost the story of Snow White. And since it was the one story that Walt spent more time on than any other, and the one that he himself developed and acted out for his animators, I think its a tragedy that they have kicked this story out of Walt's park.
Here you go again Robert - you used to be quite 'up' on Disney but this site is becoming more and more like a 'Universal is great, Disney is the dumps' site. They are very different beasts feeding very different markets and I think Annette Forest phrases it perfectly.(See comment above).
Mr. Niles writes: "But there's little in the specs for this ride that suggests it will be anything more than a "D"-ticket level attraction ..."
How about Miss Gracie? What ticket letter will she give to the ol' Mine Train?
TH: You lack the ability to read my post. I clearly said "It was a long time coming and everyone who was disappointed with the New Fastasyland that opened to construction walls still remaining..."
"What are your expectations for the final piece of the New Fantasyland?"
Anon Mouse writes: "The ride is late, overdue, based on customer expectations."
Walt Disney World needs some more imagination, all they build is mine train coasters based on old rides.
I saw a couple of people refer to Snow White "being kicked out of Fantasyland" since the old Scary Adventures supposedly told her story but the Mine Train doesn't.
Anette, I really agree with everything you just said. That is exactly why disneylands fantasyland is superior to WDWs. A unified theme, and numerous original attractions, whereas WDW is a mishmash of themes(Europe, Caribbean, circus) with cloned attractions and an emphasis on meet and greets. However I think people are going to be saying the same thing about the mine train that they said about SWSA. A 2 minute kiddie coaster that is taking years to build and opening late (or after the rest of new fantasyland), and the only original ride being opened. Oh yes I predict many people will be saying "that's it?", but we'll have to wait and see.
TH, I am very familiar with children. Disney will do a fantastic job with this new attraction and everyone will love it. All I am suggesting is an "E-ticket" (man, I hate that moniker) needs to be compared to the most well themed and advanced rides the industry has to offer.
To give you an idea of the hype I've read on message boards that some believe this will be WDW's answer to Radiator Springs Racers.
@NB: And I am certain that Leah and Gracie and their peers may very well be of the opinion that the Dwarf Mine Train is "the most well themed and advanced ride the industry has to offer."
Seven Dwarf Mine Train looks like a lot of fun, I think that the swinging action of the "carts" will add a new element of thrills. Wish it had more dark scenes, like on Splash, so that is a disappointment, but I think it will probably be the most popular ride in the New Fantasyland, could be a fun experience at night too.
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