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?Tweet
The audience for this attraction, and 'Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid,' and 'Enchanted Tales with Belle,' and 'Dumbo the Flying Elephant,' and 'The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh,' and 'Peter Pan's Flight,' and 'Princess Fairytale Hall' and 'It's a Small World' and 'Prince Charming Regal Carousel' and 'Mickey's PhilharMagic' and 'Goofy's Barnstormer' are family's with small children.
My expectations for "the final piece of the New Fantasyland" are that it will complete what may very well be the most successful collection family-oriented attractions in themed entertainment history.
Honestly, I was more disappointed with Busch Gardens Tampa over Cheetah Hunt than the penguins at Seaworld. Seaworld has more kid rides and they didn't push speed or anything like that. They pushed more for being an immersive environment. I don't know if they succeeded because it was down the only time I went and they just walked us through the ride section and we just got to see the penguins which was pretty much all I was interested in anyway.
With Cheetah Hunt, everything they published emphasized speed, with speed and more improved extra speed. Plus they gutted Rhino Rally, another groundbreaking ride, to build it. At the end of the day, yeah it hits the speed they mentioned, but after every speed run other than the last is a steep hill that takes away all the aforementioned speed. While it's a fun ride, it's not on a par with the other big three coasters at the park and you'd never know that from the advertising for it. (and yes, I know rhino rally was frequently broken down. it was still an awesome ride when it worked.)
I'm not sure how anyone can think this ride will be an E-ticket. Just because you want it to be, doesn't make it so. There's nothing to suggest it's a "major" attraction -- it's rumored to have one show scene, about a 2-minute ride time.
As for the commenter who said MK's Fantasyland has the best collection of family-oriented rides, I'd point them to Disneyland's Fantasyland which is far superior.
New Fantasyland may have been the "largest expansion in MK history," as the PR materials put it, but there's no question it's underwhelming to any guests visiting without toddlers.
I think the Dwarf coaster is going to be a fun little ride with about 4 minutes of ride time and handling rate of about 1000 guests/hour (with 3 trains on the track). Take in consideration Magic fastpass Plus (or how it's called) and the wait times are going to be horrendous.
Where the Goofy coaster is themed crappy, has no dark ride part and no wiggling cars the mine train has that all and adults and kids, hunger for finally something new at WDW, want to ride it. I think Disney just build a new problem.
Although I think guests will like the ride the wait time will leave a nasty aftertaste.
And that's kinda my point... I'm really looking forward to the mine coaster -- especially if it really is a slightly-less-than-Thunder-Mountain-coaster-with-dark-ride-elements, which I'm hoping for -- but it seems like it's been in construction forEVER! I don't get to Disney that often -- honestly, I just can't take the artificial atmosphere enough to go more than once every two years or so -- but that being said, I have a trip planned there in December....and if the Mine Train had been on a construction schedule similar to the sort of thing Universal is doing, it would be done by then, as opposed to me having to plan ANOTHER trip in 2014 to get to see the thing.
I just don't understand why Disney can't fast-track this sort of "cool ride" instead of spending its time building princess meet-and-great areas and restaurants. Especially if it's going to hype the ride into something special. Why not go ahead and get it out there?
First, the Mine Train is not supposed to be a big, exciting, mind-blowing ride. I've never seen Disney herald it as an E ticket or a major attraction. I think the ride looks charming, and from the models and illustrations I've seen the mountain and trees that will surround the ride will make New Fantasyland look really enchanting. All of that kinetic energy of the trains moving around...it's going to be fun to watch and make the area seem lively.
I think it's a definite step up from the old Snow White's Scary Adventures and I am looking forward to this ride. I'm someone who can't handle the really big coasters, and to be honest Big Thunder Mountain is a little too much for me. This Mine Train looks right up my alley though.
On the top of Antarctica, one thing you don't mention in your article is that Sea World pretty much lied to guests with that concept art. The ride they showed in concept art was amazing and gorgeous...but that is not what they actually built at all. If you recall, in the concept art they showed those trackless vehicles moving around, right up next to penguins...and all of the interior scenes of the right were just downright gorgeous.
They really lied, because the actual ride they built is cheap looking and junky. And it does not involve riding those vehicles by live penguins the way it depicted in the concept art.
I think that's why people are so disappointed...because Sea World made the mistake of showing BlueSky drawings of an attraction that was nothing like the pictures.
Disney's never done this with the Mine Train ride. We're getting exactly what the concept art showed on this one.
I also have another take on the "Fantasyland opening in phases" thing. This is another instance of Disney being damned if it does and damned if it doesn't...because if it had opened the entire land at once then people would be griping that it was not impressive enough and it would have been compared directly to Wizarding World. Disney did not do this project as a "Potter Swatter", but if it had opened up the entire thing at once the media would have tried to write that story. This was just a much-needed expansion of Fantasyland that mainly brought some of the classic movies from the 90s into the park in attraction form...and reinvented Snow White's presence.
There are no attractions in this that Disney is trumpeting as massive game-changers...they are just nice additions for guests who love the Fantasyland characters.
I'm really looking forward to spending some time in Fantasyland forest. I think it's going to be beautiful. But I am not someone looking for a big E-ticket. I don't think every addition has to be an E-ticket.
I think the Star Wars expansion at DHS is going to be the big, massive, jaw-dropping construction project. New Fantasyland was never meant to be or marketed as that.
The other reason so many are focused on this coaster is that Disney has been dragging their feet in Orlando. There have been few new attractions at the other three parks. Fans like me who love those parks can't help but hope this attraction is great. That said, I'm keeping my expectations in check. It will likely be impressive and have good theming,but it's unlikely to be on par with the mountains.
Regardless, I'm looking forward to not having to look at construction walls in Fantasyland. Of course, I'm expecting we'll see more of the same in other parks, and possibly Tomorrowland, in the next few years. And Disney moves slowly...
Thrill Junkies with no preference for family friendliness in their attractions will think it is disappointing.
Those who are attending the park with their families who crave something they can all do together will like it.
The ones who hate it should have just went to a thrill park to begin with.
It's not going to bring in guests like Diagon Alley and the Gringott's coaster, the latter should make Seven Dwarves look like a Wacky Worm and took half as much time to design and build. The WWOHP opened in 2010 while I remember a Seven Dwarfs mine ride and New Fantasyland being rumored back in 2008.
You don't know much about Disneyland history, my friend. Because Walt Disney indeed did try to have a circus at Disneyland. It was a flop, but it's one of the things he tried to put in there, off Main Street.
I think it's always dangerous to invoke the ghost of Walt Disney and declare what he would or would not have wanted. The man has been dead for 50 years now...but when he was alive Walt would dream up all sorts of things that he believed families would like to do together.
I think the Mine Train ride is something Walt would have personally loved. As for how long New Fantasyland is taking to build, well do you have any concept of how long the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland took to build? Or how long it took for Fantasyland to be completed at Disneyland the way Walt wanted it?
None of us are really privy to the internal discussions that drive Disney's projects. The construction happening in phases seems to have been so that they didn't have to close off Fantasyland to guests while the construction was happening and they rushed to get the Dumbo area open first so guests would be able to enjoy that while other things came online when they could.
I'm a pretty big fan of the books and Harry Potter movies, but I don't remember seeing any exposed steel tracks looping around near Hogwarts. This is part of Universal's "good enough" attitude toward construction that gets overlooked by a lot of theme park fans...and I've never understood why they get a pass on that.
I love 80% of what Universal did with Harry Potter, but in addition to those two coasters being minimally rethemed there's the issue of standing inside Hogsmeade and looking out through the portals and seeing the Lost Continent area right out there. Really takes you out of the Harry Potter feeling, because Universal has never cared about sightlines.
But, Universal gets a pass on that, of course.
I just feel like Disney and Universal are judged by two different standards and that Universal is always graded on a curve that purposefully overlooks all the "good enough" stuff that it does. Like, for Disney to get an A-grade out of people it must score 99% on a test while Universal is given an A for getting 75% of something correct.
And Flying Turns at Knoebels would be the best ride on the whole darn planet!
This new attraction looks great, not as big as PR is making it sound. In the comments I see people "defending" Disney, why? We are simply asking about hype and the attraction. WDW needs to raise the bar, make basic upgrades and then move on to larger attractions to compete with other Orlando attractions.
I think the original Disney A-E ride designation system needs to be extended a few more letters if this is the case.
Regarding the Dwarf Mine Train, Anon Mouse writes: "They can't help but overhype it since it is overdue."
I Respond: "Over due?" When was it supposed to open? The word over due implies the original opening date has already passed. Everything I have read has indicated it will open in the Spring of 2014. If they are doing gravity tests that would put them on schedule.
NB asks: "A kiddie coaster an E ticket?"
I Respond: Sure. If you are a family with small children it is absolutely an E Ticket.
OT writes: "Take in consideration Magic fastpass Plus (or how it's called) and the wait times are going to be horrendous."
I Respond: You've got a point there. Keeping little ones patient during a long day at the parks could be a challenge. It will be interesting to see how WDW ops and WDI's design team addressed that concern (i.e.: interactive queue effects, NextGen ride reservations, etc.) The attraction's wait times might also benefit from the shear number of Fantasyland attractions -- Which will reach 17 when you add the Mine Train. That's a lot of ways to spread the crowd.
I Respond: How about a bit of perspective RN ... Do you think "Leah" might regard the Dwarf Mine Train to be an "E-Ticket" attraction?
"When was it supposed to open?"
It WAS supposed to OPEN when the New Fantasyland was opened. The announced opening date for the coaster is irrelevant especially since we still don't know what it is.... Spring TBD 2014.... So disappointing.
The ride is late, overdue, based on customer expectations. It is lovely that Disney can slap any date on it and TH will dutifully come to its defense.
The late arrival of the Dwarf's coaster makes the New Fantasyland original opening date a lie. It is actually a multi-year soft opening. Spring TBD 2014 is the actual still UNKNOWN opening date of the new land. The new princess meet and greet site was also opened way too late, but just in time for TH.
Is it the final one? LOL!!!
Disney is taking its motto that the park is never finished a bit too far. The New Fantasyland obviously won't be finished for a long long time.
I Respond: But not based on any announcement by the company.
Anon Mouse writes: "It WAS supposed to OPEN when the New Fantasyland was opened."
I Respond: But not based on any announcement by the company.
Anon Mouse writes: "The late arrival of the Dwarf's coaster makes the New Fantasyland original opening date a lie."
I Respond: No it doesn't.
Expedition Everest (Matterhorn); Mine train with snow
Dwarf mine car (Barnstormer); Mine train with grass
I cannot wait for the Avatar mine train for unobtainium
I have to say -- as someone who always rode Scary Adventures and who still enjoys it at Disneyland -- that the ride never made all that much sense to me.
I have enjoyed it since childhood, but it was just really scattershot and random. Originally, the ride was supposed to put you (the rider) in the role of Snow White, so it would be like YOU were her sitting there seeing the story play out...but guests got confused and wondered why Snow White was never in the ride. They didn't understand you were supposed to see the ride from her point of view and through her eyes.
Then they added a few Snow Whites here and there to fix that.
But the ride jumps around the story and then abruptly ends. I can't tell you how many times I rode Scary Adventures and heard people in the car ahead or behind me say "That's it?" or "Is it over?". I actually remember giggling as a small child with my parents when we heard this...and it was a game we played together for many years, every time we rode it, to see if we'd hear someone say "That's it?" or "It's over?".
Personally, I think all the rides that were duplicated from Disneyland should be removed and replaced in Orlando. Let Disneyland maintain the original versions. The only reason these rides were replicated in Florida was to save money. But, enough time has passed to use that space to create new rides for Florida. Wouldn't it be great if both coasts had two different sets of rides? It would sure encourage more people to go to both coasts.
I like that Snow White will be represented in California with Scary Adventures...and in Florida with the Mine Train. Oh, how I wish that Little Mermaid would have been given something different instead of a clone of the California Adventure ride...but in a way you can argue that Disneyland does not have a mermaid ride, but Magic Kingdom does...so that is different.
I think Disneyland should get a Beauty and the Beast dark ride but not a Be Our Guest Restaurant. I like that Disneyland has Mr. Toad and Alice dark rides...and would like to see Magic Kingdom get a few new dark rides. Rapunzel, Princess and the Frog, and Frozen would be nice additions.
I hope going forward that Disney really plays it smart (not cheap) and no longer clones. Though I wish more than anything that money could be found in the budget to redo the facades of Fantasyland's buildings so they no longer look like the tournament thing. Would love to get Disneyland's village-themed buildings. But in Orlando, make everything have French-touches on the buildings, since Cinderella's castle is supposed to be in France and should have a French village surrounding it.
I'm equally certain that their opinions are every bit as valid (if not more so) than yours and mine. :o)
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