Why Shanghai Disneyland Should Make All Disney Fans Happy
Let me start by saying, I am a fervent Disney fanatic. Like many of you, I party when Disney gets it right and scream and curse when they get it wrong. And, like many of you, I’ve been more than a little frustrated with the glacial pace at which changes are happening to most domestic Disney Parks and Disney’s apparent lack of drive to reinvest in those parks.
Sure we’ve got Disney Springs coming (yes, it is a plussed outdoor mall and shameless cash grab you can’t ride) but it’s a major investment. Yeah, Avatarland is coming (was it just a knee jerk reaction to Universal’s Wizarding World?) Maybe, but I’m not going to look an E-Ticket gift-horse in the mouth. And we are on the cusp of a fanboy (or girl) wig-out when we finally hear what is happening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (and a fantasied $3 billion dollar reinvention budget).
But I want more. That’s the thing about being a Disney fan. I want a new E-Ticket ride at Walt Disney World every year.
Unrealistic….maybe, but a (fan)boy can dream.
The truth is…the four WDW parks are competing with seven (now eight, with Shanghai) other parks for investment. And while there is plenty of money to throw around -- as much as we will deny this -- Disney is being very thoughtful and strategic about when and where.
With Tuesday’s announcement of the attraction line-up at the new Shanghai Disneyland Resort, I was excited like I haven’t been in a long time. Here is a giant new Disney park with a really expansive line up of attractions for a park to open with on day one. So I thought back to all my griping and whining over the course of the last few years, and while I already knew this (I had somehow locked the thought up in my own personal Disney Vault)... duh…Disney has basically deployed every resource it has in Parks and Resorts to Shanghai to get this thing done not just right…but perfect.
The Enchanted Storybook Castle and Gardens of Imagination at Shanghai Disneyland. All concept art courtesy Disney
Everything from the concept art to Iger’s carefully crafted language reeks of classic Disney awesomeness: detailed, magical, and uncompromisingly perfectionistic. For the first time in a long time, it feels like Disney Parks and Resorts has its groove back and I’m grinning ear to ear.
Treasure Cove at Shanghai Disneyland, home of the new Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle of the Sunken Treasure ride Concept art for inside Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle of the Sunken Treasure
So as Disney races to the finish line and opening day at Shanghai Disneyland, I’m feeling not only optimistic about what is coming for domestic parks, but downright giddy. If Shanghai looks that good, I can’t wait to see what they’re about to unveil on home turf. So for the immediate future at least, I’m going to give Disney a break, and hopefully sit back and enjoy (the Star Wars) ride.
Some of you guys just can't quit making excuses for Disney's leadership of the past 12 years.
WOW could not agree more.
You can always count on Disney vs. Universal fandom to bring out a "wake up sheeple" from the crowd.
At this point for the magic kingdom to get a new e ticket something would have to be taken out, and aside from laugh floor and stitches escape there isn't that much to move. Disney hasn't been moving at universal's pace, but at the same time when they do come out with new material it's not just a 3D simulator. Animal kingdom is getting the additions it needs and Hollywood studios is rumored to get a major overhaul. That's great. Just give Epcot some updates (cough figment and Ellen cough cough) and I'd be hard pressed to find a negative thing to say about wdw
It seems very odd that Disney is suddenly revealing any details about its new Shanghai Disneyland while it’s still under construction, one year away from opening, and even before they know when they’re going to complete construction.
I have to say, Universal has lit a fire under Disney... you can all thank them by checking out Hogsmeade / Diagon Alley.
Nope ... There is no connection between attraction development schedules on Disney's Central Forida property and Universal's. In fact if there is any real head-to-head competition between the two Orlando operations it would be in hotel sales -- and any objective analysis would have to conclude Disney is getting after it. Disney has invested millions of dollars upgrading and renovating its resort facilities. Universal is also attacking in resort sales market with the extraordinarily popular Cabana Bay resort, the new Saphire Falls and a likely hotel on I-Drive.
I really don't care that there hasn't been a "E-ticket" ride at the Magic Kingdom for the past 23 years. In fact, I don't care if they go another 10 years without one. Out of all the parks in Orlando, the Magic Kingdom is the one I can spend a whole day in and never once feel like there should have been more to do. The other parks at WDW need some major TLC and I'd rather see them get all the attraction investments they deserve.
(Tips hat toward James)
Yes, Avatar was in the works before Disney passed on Potter and Universal snagged it up. There is no shame in being a Disney apologist, the first step is admitting it, however.
The Twitterverse was funny the last day about Shanghai Disneyland wondering how they can build a park without Starbucks, Pandora charms, Sunglass Hut or Frozen Summer Fun. How will those SDL visitors ever have a good time?
No, Avatar wasnt in the works before the Potter decision. Wizarding World was announced in 2007 and opened in 2010. The Avatar film was released in late 2009 and became the biggest box office hit ever in the spring of 2010. The land was announced later that year after Potter opened.
For me the frustration is in the massive lopsidedness of investment and creativity that China is getting when compared to Disney Worldn
You hit the nail on the head, Bryan, far as I am concerned. Nice article. And honestly, what themed entertainment fan (or Coaster Boy, for that matter) isn't excited about the state of our amusement/theme park industry these days????
Again, Disney has invested millions of dollars upgrading and renovating its WDW resorts to attract guests that will stay on property. If guests stay at WDW resorts they will visit WDW parks -- sustaining its attendance numbers and market share as effectively as adding new attractions.
Great article, Bryan. I too am very excited about all the things going on at Disney around the world. My hope is that Shanghai can be as good as Tokyo Disney Sea. Will definitely be visiting when it opens.
So Disney teams up with a state owned Chinese company - great move. I mean, doesn´t Disney stand for everything the chinese government also stands for? Maybe next time they could open a park in Tibet, from what I hear, the Tibetan people are desperately waiting for one...
Shanghai Disneyland is a non-factor to most American theme park enthusiasts just like Hong Kong Disneyland and the Tokyo Disney Resort and the Paris Disney Resort simply because most Americans will never see them. So giving Disney kudos for building awesome parks overseas primarily with other corporations' money is an exercise in clapping with one hand. It's a useless gesture that only encourages the beancounters at Disney to continue their slow roll of the development and improvement of the American Disney parks.
Thanks, Tim, for expressing my thoughts exactly. Although, I do look forward to the magical day when solid attractions do come to U.S. parks.
"Can anybody name a worthwhile ride or attraction that was originated in one of the overseas parks and brought back to the States?"
"WDW's business strategy and park development schedule is not affected by Universal's decisions to add attractions."
Anon writes: "While we can say your statement is probably true, the success of both Disney and Universal is raising the stakes and ushering a theme park prosperity cycle. Disney can't not invest. To not increase park capacity will leave money on the table. With this booming business, Wall Street demands greater spending that will lead to greater revenue and income."
It's hard to understand how someone can make the assessment that Disney has gone (ahem) "el cheapo."
"Why would Disney's expanded spending on Disney Springs not impress Wall Street"
The "cheapo" response was in regard to Mr. Hillman's post.
Since I made the comment about Disney going "El Cheapo," I guess I'd better clarify it for you, TH, even though you already have a good idea where I'm coming from.
James would rather spend a day at the MK than IOA.... Thanks, I needed a good laugh today...
"Sure standing in line for 2 hours for a boat ride on POTC sure sounds fun to me."
Oh good, it's been a while since I could make someone laugh. I thought I was just losing my comedian's touch. ;-)
Assessing whether or not a construction project represents an "improvement" is an exercise in subjectivity. What is not in dispute is that the Disney company is investing billions of dollars in its Orlando property with the intention of enhancing the experience of its guests.
I used to spend a majority of our vacation at Disney, but now we seem to be going to Universal and bypassing Disney. Why. My daughter is now 16 and the lack of thrill rides at MK, second, staying on a Universal property, while more expensive, gives us front of the line access allowing us to ride great rides multiple times.
Instead of this massive investment disney should have just opened the second gate in Hong Kong. All of these concepts would have worked just as well there. Why build a second resort in China when the first is barely starting to be profitable? Then if this resort struggles just like Paris and Hong Kong have guess what billions more will have to be spent to bring it up. Then all the Disneyphiles will be saying just wait a few more years for them to fix Shanghai well how many times do you have to hear that before you wake up?
I'm not sure how much I can say here that hasn't been said, but it seems like WDW has become neglected in recent years and a lot of people's defense of that has been based on what the resort is working on and what they're going to do, not what they've done. And even some of that already seems like shots in the dark. Sure, Avatar fans may be excited about a land based on the movie, even if some people aren't. But in 2017, how can Disney be so sure that people will still care that much, especially if the delayed sequels bomb? As for Epcot, Disney fans have been mourning its "death" for years and the biggest addition it's getting isn't even a new ride, so it won't help the capacity issues there as much, not to mention the debate that's going on about the state of the World Showcase. As for DHS,we still don't know when this "reboot" will happen, but we're already disappointed by it since it will likely contain a clone of a Toy Story land that's already been criticized for being cheap overseas. Fainlly, there's Magic Kingdom, with a great attraction count, but a recent Fantasyland expansion that got mixed reviews at best. It's all just sad. I last went to Disney World way back in 2007, but I have yet to see a compelling reason to return. On my family's last trip to Orlando, we spent all of our time at Universal. Sure the resort has it's problems, but its track record in recent years attraction-wise is a heck of a lot better than Disney's. When asked about the two, I always tell people, "Disney has more to do, but Universal's best is better than Disney's best." I can see that's becoming more true all the time.
Lord, why does this always devolve into a Disney vs. Universal match? SD looks fantastic. I'm betting that the clone of the castle/boat ride is the Avatar mountain/boat ride, and that's fantastic.
Hey anonymous 18.104.22.168 from cali - Thanks for making my point. Yes Universal has some family rides for all...
"Let it go, y'all. It's just a damned theme park."
It will always turn into a Disney / Universal debate.... look at what Universal had done in a few short years. You could sit here and tell me Disney was planning massive expansions in Orlando before Universal set the bar to a ridiculously high level until you are blue in the face.
@NB - Totally agree!
I think an interesting point to make as well is that we are making comparisons to current Universal and current Disney. By the time Disney has fully completed plans that are still rumored at this point to improve the Orlando parks, where will Universal parks be? That's an eternity away for them in terms of the speed in which they add high-value, attendance-spiking attractions. Disney might already be behind by the time they get around to rumored improvements.
Well said, Tim....
"On this site, we are theme park wonks NOT theme park wanks. Please check your Urban Dictionary before using that term again."
No,22.214.171.124, you got it wrong.
Another way to get taken seriously on this site, 126.96.36.199, is to use a spell-checker. Your psycho-sexual logic looks even more ridiculous when you can't even manage to spell one of your favorite words correctly. Here, I'll help U figUre it oUt.
Tim, I really appreciate how respectful and rational that comment was. And in many ways, you're kinda right. So I will try my best to be just as respectful as I offer a point of view from the other side of the token.
@ Mr. Hillman: 'It's not the Universal fans going after Disney"?!
"This thread topic was dedicated to a preview of a new Disney park."
Right ... "was" ... Until the first courageously anonymous Universal enthusiast offered up the first post.
A couple of comments...
Disney is and will always be the best because they have the most visitors... just like McDonalds is the best because they serve more hamburgers than anyone else.
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