messing around with the Main Street Cinema, to try to drive more traffic into that attraction. Some readers have asked why Disneyland can't just leave it alone — preserving the cinema as a cool, dark, uncrowded space where people can wind down for a few moments with some classic Mickey Mouse cartoons.Allow me to dive a bit deeper into the reason why Disneyland is
That's nice if you are one of those people inside the theater. But space allocation has become a zero-sum game inside the Disneyland Resort. There simply isn't enough remaining free space anywhere for the new attractions and services that Disneyland needs to continue growing its attendance. So anything new must come at the expense of something old.
Disneyland's Project Stardust, in part, represents management's attempt to maximize available space inside Walt's original park by clearing or repurposing poorly or under-utilized space. Even though the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land that inspire its name is now open, the project is not complete. Work remains on the east side of the Hub... and there's a mess of opportunities to use space better within Tomorrowland, as well.
Park officials stress that they want to preserve and improve the guest experience, and part of that includes the enjoyment of cool, dark, uncrowded spaces. But giving several extra yards of unoccupied space to one family necessarily requires smushing other families together elsewhere. The only way to preserve, much less improve, the guest experience for all is to pursue a more efficient use of space everywhere inside the park, distributing people from overcrowded spaces into ones that can handle more.
This is the same approach that Disneyland is taking with its operating calendar. Over the past decade, Disney has been changing its annual pass program, tweaking blockout calendars, and implementing date-specific pricing on one-day tickets, all to try to move visitors from previously over-crowded days to previously less-crowded ones.
And it's been working. Well, at least from Disneyland's perspective. The "off season" is all but gone now, yet it's rare to see the park filled to the point where Disney has to close the front gates. (The parking garage is another story, in which reduced capacity due to the construction of a companion garage next door plays a large role.)
Cutting curbs and trimming planters are relatively easy ways to ease guest flow through the park. But a greater return comes from giving people a wider range of destinations within the park — more places to go to, encouraging people to spread out rather than clog the pathways to a handful of locations.
To do that, Disney needs to find new things to draw people toward places they currently aren't flocking to visit. Replacing a bunch of backstage facilities with Galaxy's Edge was Disneyland's biggest play to do that. The installation of Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway will swap more backstage space for an on-stage attraction, but that's about the extent of what Disney can do north of the park. So it must look next to fill available nooks within.
Installing the Tropical Hideaway in the old Aladdin's Oasis drew a lot Dole Whip fans away from crowded Adventureland bridge into a rarely occupied space. At some point, Disneyland surely will need to do something more substantial with the old Carousel of Progress building than using half of it for the now mostly ignored Star Wars Launch Bay. But at the front the park, Disneyland would feel a little less congested if only more people stepped into the Main Street Cinema now and then.
That's why Disney put up a sandwich board on the sidewalk outside the theater and some merchandise racks within. And why it will keep trying things to lure visitors into the theater in the weeks ahead. Because Disneyland managers would like to find a quick, easy, relatively inexpensive solution that preserves this location as a theater devoted to the birth of the Walt Disney Company, rather than concede that the public does not care and that the space would be better used repurposed.
Nostalgia remains an essential part of Disneyland's appeal. The park can't just start whacking old stuff to make way for the new without endangering that. But it does need to clear space, so that forces management into thinking mathematically about the appeal of the park's older attractions. What's the current-use value of a location versus its potential value as something new? It's not enough that people like the idea of the Main Street Cinema. They actually have to visit it for Disneyland to account for its value. The park will protect nostalgia for it by preserving the old stuff that people actually still visit... while quietly transforming that which the public does not.
So think about the (relatively) empty space you've seen in Disneyland recently. That's where Disneyland will look to make changes. If you don't want one of those locations to change, then please visit more often — and bring friends. Don't bother with petitions or social media campaigns. Just show up. That's what Disney values most.
And if you're okay with a location changing, well, staying away gives Disneyland the green light to make that change. Ultimately, like with most things in life, what anyone says does not matter nearly as much as what we do.Tweet
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