Disneyland is ending its experiment to drive more foot traffic into the Main Street Cinema by selling merchandise within that location, though it will continue to test a variety of things to make the theater more popular.
The move worked to increase the number of people visiting the often-overlooked attraction, but that success came at the cost of triggering fans still mourning the conversion of Walt Disney World's version of Main Street Cinema into a full-time souvenir shop that no longer shows Mickey Mouse animated short films.
Disneyland officials said that they had no intention of removing the films from Main Street Cinema, but that intention did not prevent fan outrage online over the weekend, after merchandise racks appeared in the theater last Friday. The merchandise is going out tonight, to be replaced by additional bench seating in the theater tomorrow. And more tests are on the way.
Okay, I'm gonna deliver some tough love here. Main Street Cinema is a wasted space in Disneyland. It's not that this is a bad concept — far from that, an old-time movie theater show the films that gave birth to the Walt Disney Company is a perfect, even necessary, component of Main Street USA. But in its current form, Main Street Cinema simply is not attracting enough attention to merit the use of that very valuable corporate real estate.
So what to do? The merchandise racks brought people in, even if some were theme park bloggers and influencers taking photos to chase traffic by stoking fan outrage. But that merchandise did nothing to advance the theme of a 1920s movie theater... or to address the fundamental problems with the Main Street Cinema's interior design.
Want a better quickie "fix?" How about installing a popcorn machine, selling an exclusive flavor that rotates every few days and is sold only in the Main Street Cinema? And annual pass holders would get a free "popcorn button" for that flavor with a purchase. Fans could come in to get the special popcorn flavor (quick, someone call Tokyo Disney for some recipes!) and munch away while watching the shorts.
That fix would serve the movie theme while the exclusive rotating flavors encourage foot traffic, and the AP benefit would get them on board. Win, win, win.
Ultimately, though, the Main Street Cinema suffers for not being a very good place to watch a movie. With multiple screens showing several films at once, there are too many focal points in the room. Sight lines are often poor, not helped well by the small pedestal in the middle of the room.
Disneyland already has a Main Street theater in the Main Street Opera House, home of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. But it needs a better showcase for its Mickey Mouse shorts than the current design of the Main Street Cinema. So the ultimate solution that provides that — as with most things at top theme parks — is gonna cost some money and creative design time.
If Disneyland officials really want to showcase the early Mickey films — as they should — then someone in Burbank is going to have to greenlight that investment. In the meantime, though... who's hungry for some popcorn?Tweet
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