Every dedicated Disney fans has their wish list for what they would like to see change or come to Walt Disney World or Disneyland. As the company prepares to kick off its 100th anniversary celebration with a big media event in Anaheim this week, here is my dream list of announcements I wish we would hear.
Before I reveal my list, I want to warn that it doesn't include anything about theme park pricing, reservations, or maintenance. Those are decisions that Disney will make through a hard look at its numbers, including guest forecasts based on past behavior. Instead, I am going to offer some creative-based ideas - ones that might be easier to sell Disney Parks management.
Let's go with one for each of the U.S. theme parks. I know that this is Disneyland's week, but let's start across the country at Walt Disney World.
This one might have the best chance of all my wishes of actually coming true. So wish it into existence with me, please - Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith becomes Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.
There is a perfect tie-in (that I cannot reveal) with the upcoming Muppets show on Disney+ that would make this transition seamless. The Muppets deserve an E-ticket attraction at Disney, and with the right production design and storytelling, this could be it.
My wish is that Disney revive its pre-pandemic announced plans to write a new script for Spaceship Earth. I detailed my reasons for supporting this change back in 2019 in Yes, It's Time for Disney to Rewrite its Spaceship Earth. It's understandable why Disney would not want to take down this people-eater while so much of the rest of the park was under construction. But with the transformation of Epcot nearing its completion, a rewrite of Spaceship Earth would provide a wonderful final step.
My first two wishes are relative lay-ups. So now let's take on one more controversial. Let's fix Liberty Square by closing The Hall of Presidents and replacing it with a new mixed media show, The Hall of Freedom.
In this production, we would start with imagery from Hall of Presidents depicting America's founding. Then a narrator would note that our Declaration of Independence did not provide freedom for all. Over the next 15 minutes, through Audio Animatronics and media, the show would honor Americans would fought for freedom within the nation over the past 240+ years, including the end of slavery, the fight for women's suffrage and equal rights, the civil rights movement and the LBGTQ+ rights movement.
The show would depict setbacks as well as triumphs, detailing moments in history not fully explored in Epcot's American Adventure.
Following the demise of multiple versions of Rivers of Light, let's quit trying to invent a new nighttime spectacular and instead just bring World of Color to Walt Disney World.
If Disney executives want to honor the park's theme, just edit together a mashup of all the animal and nature-related sequences from the many versions of this show that have run in California. That way, they can say that they have an "original new nighttime spectacular" in Orlando without having to actually make one.
Turning to DCA, let's reopen the Hyperion Theater. Restage the Frozen show, revive Aladdin, or write a new Encanto musical. I don't care what plays here (so long as it's good) - California Adventure and the Disneyland Resort need this people-eater back open at full capacity to help allow more guests the opportunity to visit the parks.
Disneyland is getting the new stuff this spring, with Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railroad opening and the new Wondrous Journeys and World of Color - One nighttime spectaculars debuting. Next month, the Magic Happens parade returns, and in March the new Mickey's Toontown reopens. Later this year, we'll get the new Treehouse in Adventureland and the Tiana's Palace restaurant in New Orleans Square, too.
In addition, I have some insider info on what Disneyland's next addition beyond those might be, and it is so amazing that I can't possibly wish for anything I could image would be better. So I will stop at five for my Disney Parks wishlist.
Now, what's on yours?
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My dream list:
1. Add another country to World Showcase. Australia, something from South America or Middle East, doesn't matter, just need something fresh there.
2. Bring back original Imagination with Dreamfinder. Yes, an old request but still wanted.
3. Do NOT try to update Muppets 3-D, it's still perfect as is.
4. Revive Wonders of Life, update it with new medical information, new take on Body Wars and make it fun again rather than the pavilion used for random stuff.
5. Remake Rafiki's train ride into Zootopia attraction.
I know, a lot but that can be fun.
Good realistic stuff right there Robert but wait a minute! That Disneyland teaser is too much!
Alright alright I guess I'll wait whenever you feel, more like can, share with us.
All good suggestions, except I’m not sold on your HoP presidents idea. Unfortunately, it’s current version and any further changes will inevitably and sadly be divisive since many Americans have forgotten that it’s okay to consider other perspectives. I just don’t see it going well no matter how they approach it, which is why I was a little hopeful when that small Muppet preshow used to take place outside. If they did it in a light way, it could work.
And yes- Electric Mayhem is PERFECT and it doesn’t age like Aerosmith. The Muppets deserve this. Disney can’t seem to get The Muppets right lately, so this WOULD BE
HOW YOU DO IT!
The other wishlist items are great too. We all see so many things that need to change; the question is whether or not they’re willing to listen.
That said, I’m firmly against a 5th park like so many want. Their current parks in WDW need a lot of attention. I am hopeful that they take that approach in their response to Epic Universe in the future.
Oooohhh, Robert. A dagger through my heart!
Hall of Presidents is my absolute favourite theme park attraction, anywhere, as it is so unique. And, shouldn't everybody have an opportunity of hearing the Gettysburg Address? The most eloquent and sagatuous speech of all-time? Yes, we live in a more liberal society but let's not ram it down everybody's throats at every opportunity in every attraction. PotC has already been doctored and so will Splash Mountain. Your retheming could be better served integrated into the American Adventure, which is one big jingoistic hoo-ha but leave Hall of Presidents alone.
We go to a theme park to be entertained not politicized.
I love Hall of Presidents. I hope that never changes. Spaceship Earth does need an update, but there's no guarantee Disney makes it better and not worse. And if they want to get more Muppets into Disney, I have six words for you: Pigs in Space Galactic Starcruiser overlay. OK, that one would probably only appeal to me.
No, I will not make the Hall of Presidents another victims of the "joyless" Donald Trump. This will NOT be something else he has ruined. We made it through Nixon, Clinton, and W. I refuse to give that orange charlatan any more wins.
I will agree that Rivers of Light should just be World of Color. The End. It was already a quarter of the way there. Just do it Disney and call it a day!
My wish? That they would bring back the old Journey Into Imagination. Based on the changes in the park, I think it would be a nice addition for families. I wouldn't mind seeing it as a successor to Mystic Manor. Instead of that monkey, Figment!
I'm sorry Robert, but I don't think people want to go to a theme park for political rhetoric, and no matter how objectively we think Imagineers could frame an attraction about freedom and equality, it would inevitably devolve and feed into the divisiveness that continues to splinter our country. HoP has enough politics with its necessary quadrennial addition that I don't think guests could handle the type of attraction you are suggesting - If Disney were to open a history museum, sure, but in the MK and the 20+ million annual guests looking to have fun? Nope.
My wishes are more big picture ideas that are unlikely to be executed over a short period of time, but are all massive blind spots for each of the parks...
1. EPCOT - Disney somewhat addressed a blind spot of this park by installing Ratatouille in France, giving the World Showcase a third ride, but there's still that massive expansion pad between Germany and China that sits as a HUGE opportunity for better balancing the park from front to back. Building a new country (Brazil/Argentina, Russia, India, etc...) has been on and off again for the past 2 decades, yet that space STILL sits there virtually unused. Considering how many guests visit Orlando from South America, it's criminal that Disney does not have a single World Showcase pavilion from that continent. Combining the culture, architecture, and history from those countries would inject vibrancy to that corner of the park, and the possibilities for a ride are endless - including modifying the long-rumored Mt. Fuji coaster concept wrapped in a South American theme. If Disney wanted to continue to inject IP into the World Showcase, Encanto would surely be a brand that could be a worthy representative for the continent.
DHS - This park has so many problems yet has the best attraction lineup in all of WDW. For my money, the Indy Stunt Spectacular has overstayed its welcome, and with Lucasfilm being an in-house IP for Disney, they no loner have to negotiate use of those characters for future attractions. Indy deserves a land, but the question is whether it should be in DHS or DAK. For the interest of cost, I would much rather see Indy go into DAK and Dinosaur converted in a Temple of the Forbidden Eye pseudo-clone and the surrounding area rethemed around everyone's favorite archaeologist. So, if you're going to get rid of the massive stunt show, what goes in that spot? Since DHS has deemphasized the "behind the scenes" aspect that was present in virtually every attraction in the park, the idea of a stunt show giving guests a "how-to" just doesn't work with the park's theme anymore. However, some type of show is still needed to gobble crowds in a park that is short on space. I propose a Star Wars show that recreates the Battle of Geonosis or other major Star Wars scene. It would allow Disney to fix one of the biggest complaints about Galaxy's Edge by putting guests into an actual location we've seen before (though nebulous enough to allow for some creativity), and that could even allow Padawan's from the adjacent Jedi Training Academy to participate in the action.
DAK - As noted above, Dinoland USA is gone, and Dinosaur is an attraction in need of an overhaul (though I still really enjoy it in its current state). Indy is the perfect natural transition here given the ride system and tie-ins to many of the themes of DAK. I'm not sure what else they could add to fill in the rest of the land (maybe a clone of DSP's coaster), but having even a skimped down version of Temple of the Forbidden Eye on the East Coast would be pretty exciting.
MK - This is by far the hardest park to fix with one stroke. There's just not a lot of space to do anything inside the current confines of the park save for Stitch Encounter, which I would love to see go back to Alien Encounter, but Mission to Mars is a more likely solution (though it wouldn't solve the inherent capacity issues of this tight space). There are too many beloved attraction to just cut one and hope to craft something better in its place, save for ONE. It's a Small World. Disney's original is still in Disneyland, so scrapping Orlando's version would not erase history. The attraction sits on one of the biggest pads in Fantasyland and is adjacent to an area that has great theming, but no ride (Tangled). I would happily swap Small World for Rapunzel, even if it was just a reskinning of the existing boat ride.
Disneyland - Star Tours is just so out of place now with Galaxy's Edge in the back corner of the park. With an entire land dedicated to Star Wars, Star Tours just doesn't have the same appeal. If costs are an issue, retheming the simulators and importing the Ironman attraction from Hong Kong would be more than appropriate in this spot.
DCA - This park has been getting a lot of stuff right the past few years despite the non-descript industrial park look of Avengers CAMPUS. However, Disney needs to come through with the promised Wakanda attraction. That, along with Robert's suggestion of brining the Hyperion back to life, would fill out the park's lineup quite nicely.
Hilarious: when it's a show honoring almost exclusively white men, it's just fine, status quo baby! But if the show were to include other important Americans of color or, god forbid, women, then suddenly it's "political" and "divisive." In all seriousness, if you think including women and people of color is a "political" and "divisive" move, well . . .
Russell, you write "it would inevitably devolve and feed into the divisiveness that continues to splinter our country." I think you mean to say it would inevitably upset all the fragile white people who are melting down about the loss of white hegemony. I mean, there's only one group that's upset with Disney becoming more inclusive, and that's sad whites who can't imagine a place that isn't almost all theirs. Sad disgusting racist idiots, I hope they all get so angry they have aneurysms.
Which is exactly why Robert's idea is fantastic. This isn't a white country, and Disney isn't a white park. It should include Americans of all types, and if that makes the MAGA nation pee its pants again, good. These pathetic racists have been dragging this country down long enough, so I applaud everything that winds them up, fools.
As for my wish for Disney, I don't need anything new. I only want (1) Maxpass, or another similarly egalitarian and effective line management system, to be implemented (charge us all $20 a ticket more if they must, but make the parks inviting and fun again), and (2) cashiers at the restaurants again, so we can readily EAT. Seriously, don't need a new ride at all, just want my fun Disneyland back again.
Oh Robert, that Disneyland teaser! It seems to be the one park they consistently get right, I'm so excited to learn more.
I think Hall of Presidents should probably just be scrapped entirely. Any revisions will ignite massive controversy, and let's be honest with ourselves here: the current show is boring, reductive, and offers nothing that 30 minutes at the local library can't give you with far better detail and accuracy. Kill it with fire and put in something worth everyone's time.
The real issue is that Magic Kingdom just lost its best attraction. I am whatever on the Coco and Encanto blue sky stuff they pitched at D23, but the Villains Kingdom at the back of the park is both a great idea and would be immensely popular. My hope is they continue to develop that concept.
Some good takes in this article, but I think what Liberty Square is missing is IP! Replace Hall of Presidents with "Hamilton: The American Experience," a greatest hits performance of the Hamilton musical. It kills two birds with one stone in telling the story of America's founding, while simultaneously recontextualizing it to the struggles of today.
"...and it is so amazing that I can't possibly wish for anything I could image would be better."
A new attraction coming from the soon-to-be-released film "Wish" telling the origin story of the wishing star & celebrating Disney's 100 years?
My "wish" is for Robert to give a hint about the Disneyland teaser that was mentioned! The tea must be spilled!!
The Colonel, be positive old boy! If the next 10 Presidents are non-white or female or both then they will be honoured in the same way. Don't distort history to suit your personal agenda. Too many people have made too many sacrifices for you to be where you are today.
Hall of Presidents can stay because it's an opening day Magic Kingdom attraction, but if it closes it needs to be replaced with something other than a non-fiction show. While I would totally support the Hall of Freedom concept being worked into a new version of American Adventure, a show like that has no place in a modern Disney castle park.
Anyway, sticking to the one per park wish and keeping things reasonable as short term projects (2-3 years), here's what I'd ask for...
Magic Kingdom: Of all the Disney parks in the country, I think this is the one least in need of something new. However, for the signature Disney castle park (sorry, Disneyland), it is still lacking. I'd want to see all of the quality enhancements that have come to attractions elsewhere be implemented in Magic Kingdom. There is no excuse for any ride at the world's most popular theme park to not be on par with its clones elsewhere.
Epcot: A new country would be great, but that's a bit too long term for this. Instead, if Disney wants to infuse IP into the park, I'd like to see them go all the way and incorporate it throughout the World Showcase. Coco can take over Mexico, Mulan moves into China, Turning Red into Canada, etc. The non-fiction elements can stay, but it's just a bit weird to have some areas dominated by Disney IP and others completely devoid of it. They need to go for all or nothing.
Disney's Hollywood Studios: There's lots I'd like to do with this park, but the simplest would be to update the park's show offerings. Most of them have been playing for decades and could use something new. No specific ideas as to what would be good options, though.
Disney's Animal Kingdom: Easy answer here...turn Dinoland into Zootopia. Everything here can be repurposed, and while an additional headliner would be good, it's not essential right out of the gate.
Disney California Adventure: Revive Aladdin! It's such a shame to see the theater that once held the best theme park show of all time sitting empty, and bringing this back would probably sell more tickets than putting a new performance in (provided the quality of the old show is maintained).
Disneyland: Ideally, this one would be a massive Tomorrowland overhaul, but I'll downsize it to just one part of that. In the building most recently housing the Star Wars Launch Bay would be the Tron Game Grid, a collection of smaller VR and AR attractions reminiscent of those depicted in the films. The top one here would be a VR version of the motorbike battle from Tron: Legacy (instead of the coaster which is too big for Disneyland), with the rest using AR technology to bring the grid to life.
1. Enhance the TTA with high tech futuristic scenes and bring back the original retro sci-fi announcer.
2. Make another scary ExtraTERRORestrial Encounter. You can put it in DHS instead of MK.
3. Fix the Yeti.
4. Yes, soup up Spaceship Earth.
5. Redo all Star Wars to the original trilogy and make a new exhibit focusing on the escaping the Death Star.
I've seen it suggested many times, but replacing the entirety of Dinoland USA at Animal Kingdom does NOT get my vote of confidence. It's still a very fun ride and the only legitimately scary ride we've ever gotten from Disney.
Intriguing idea on HoP, Robert, but if Disney did it, it’d just open Disney for more smacking around by Ron DeSantis ( not that he won’t smack them around between now and November ‘24 anyway…)
My wish list:
(1) Step away from the recent fetish for cramming in more IP. I get it, Disney paid good money for it, but it’s led to some truly lackluster ideas at the theme parks and resorts (Incredibles-themed rooms at the Contemporary, anyone? Pixar Pier at DCA?). I’m sure the Imaginers can come up with some original concepts that would be entertaining.
(2) Start a hiring program to bring in more frontline CMs and maintenance folks so the parks are better staffed and maintained. Skimping on O&M was hurting the parks even before the pandemic, and don’t think that guests haven’t noticed. No more over-reliance on international programs and DCP to fill frontline jobs, either - be the In N Out or Costco of the theme park industry and back up the platitudes about how important the cast is by offering them good wages, full-time employment and a decent benefits package.
(3) Support the Brightline/SunRail alignment project - including a station on Disney property - and angle for a Brightline station near Port Canaveral to facilitate connections to DCL from WDW and OIA. Yes, I know that means some of your guests will go to USF and I-Drive. Get over it and offer guests more reasons to stay on property if you’re that insecure about the (very real) threat from Universal.
(4) Send WDI back to the drawing board to come up with a design for the Polynesian DVC building that’s actually themed. The current plans look like they took the blueprint for Reflections and wrote in “Polynesian”.
(5) Put the DL and WDW merchandise teams to work coming up with something other than cheap generic merchandise, dull pins, and clothing made for young women and children. Not everyone wants to wear sprint jerseys at the parks or back home, and some folks would like to take home souvenirs that are more unique and useful(Fun maps! Trains and monorails that are better than overgrown toys!! Popcorn buckets that can actually hold popcorn!)
And last but not least, four words: Bring back Orville Redenbacher.
Co-sign pretty much all of those, schnebs. Disney's stance re: Brightline is an astoundingly bad decision in my view. Opting out of the project isn't going to stop it from being built, it's just going to funnel even more folks to Universal. You might as well get in on it, especially considering you canned Magical Express and now there is no way for out of town guests to get to the parks without spending an exorbitant amount of money on transportation, either through taxi/rideshare or by renting a car.
Also agree on their recent hotel designs being trash. Most of the point of a Disney hotel is that it's not like every other hotel. Design interesting hotels!
In my perfect world Disney Parks would have the following
Magic Kingdom - someone already mentioned a Disney villains area. Good idea! The area should include a villains bar that stays open after hours like the one at pleasure island (RIP). I say do away with Hall of Presidents entirely. It’s dated and boring. Replace it with a jazz concert themed to Pixar’s Soul. Move Frozen Ever After to Fantasyland and scrap it at Epcot. Move mickeys runaway railway here too. Replace stitch’s alien encounter character greeting with Disneys Price Gouging Encounter where guests sit in complete darkness while they hear the sounds of Disney execs discussing of new ways to increase profits.
Epcot - I already mentioned relocating frozen ever after. Doesn’t belong in Norway. Add Ukraine to the world showcase with an e ticket dark ride where you search for terrorists. Add a wall e themed 3d movie to world celebration. Cosmic rewind is great but it shouldn’t be in epcot. Retheme it to a roller coaster inside the brain of Neil degrasse Tyson.
DHS - since I moved runaway railway to MK, I’ll replace it with The Great Defunct Disney Ride Ride, where you ride through small recreations of some classic Disney rides that closed (maelstrom, body wars, horizons, alien encounter, and the great movie ride). do away with star tours. There’s already a whole Star Wars land if you walk 3 minutes. Replace with Temple of the forbidden eye and Retheme echo lake to Indiana Jones. Retheme rock n roller coaster to Travis Scott, (Rap n Roller Coaster)
DAK - everyone keeps mentioning zootopia. That film is a racial allegory, it doesn’t fit the theme of the park just because animals are in it. Dinoland is fine, they just need to replace the ride they just closed with a philicia rashad meet and greet. Replace rafiki’s planet watch with beastly kingdom. Add the poaching storyline that they scrapped back to kilimanjaro safaris. Don’t fix the yeti, just stick an animatronic of Michael Eisner in there.
Disneyland - open club 33 to all park guests. No one cares for the fake Illuminati secret society crap. Add more bars/clubs to New Orleans square, make it as much like bourbon street as possible (including the smell of piss and throwup). Scrap star tours and replace it with a meet the Robinsons dark ride.
DCA - Rename the park Disneys IP Adventure, since they already have the MCU and Pixar taking over the park. Go all the way. Retheme hollywoodland to 21st century fox land. Retheme paradise gardens to ESPNs wide world of sports. Tear down to little mermaid ride and turn it into a casino.
Very good ideas that I could really get behind, Robert, except for one. I know you know which one that is as it has created the most divisive discussion on this post and you purposely stated it to drive traffic to your website, Facebook, and Twitter accounts (which, interestingly enough, has been more active after stating a few months ago that you would not be using it anymore).
We go to theme parks to be entertained, not to engage in political rhetoric.
"The Colonel, be positive old boy! ... Don't distort history to suit your personal agenda."
Distort history? Jesus Christ man, if you think acknowledging the history of woman and people of color in America is a "distortion," then we don't have much to say to one another. Enjoy your bogus "white men only" history, maybe you can stop by the Governor's office and don hoods together.
Disagree with HOP, It is terrific attraction. We were there from California last week, and my family enjoyed seeing the presidents.
@thecolonel - Your responses to ProfPlum (a contributor who lives in the UK based on their profile) and my earlier comment are exactly why we can't have "nice" things and why WDI would have an impossible task creating an attraction like Robert has suggested to replace HoP.
As I noted, if Disney wanted to create a museum, they can frame historical events from whatever perspective they want. However, when you're creating an attraction for the most visited theme park on the planet, you have to consider the tone and generally accepted/understood historical viewpoint of the majority of guests to the park. The Magic Kingdom is NOT the venue to make political statements, and Disney forbids guests from doing so in its park policies, so why should they not be held to the same standards?
it's possible Robert thinks HOP needs to be changed because he actually believes it needs to be changed. he's not getting rich by "riling up" whoever it is that would miss a pretty low-traffic attraction.
Russell: Perfect explanation.
I'm sure HoP will be replaced someday, but right now there is no incentive to spend money replacing an attraction that takes little man power and cost to run its day-to-day operations.
Here’s a question nobody’s asking: what if they were to replace Hop with an IHop? Pancake time baby! Food for thought folks. And yes, pun deliciously intended.
"The Magic Kingdom is NOT the venue to make political statements"
hosting a hall of presidents is inherently political. disney parks, or certainly as Walt imagined them, certainly have a political point of view. you can agree or disagree with it, but it's silly to pretend it doesn't exist.
Jacob, HoP, by it's nature, is political but the key fact is that it has no political message, just a brief overview of the American Presidency, Lincoln's poignant speech ad-verbatim and assembling all 46 Presidents on-stage to be introduced chronologically. Am I missing something which others feel is divisive?
@Jacob - I would have to agree with ProfPlum here. The only reason HoP has become a political lightning rod is because there have been rumors over the past few administrations that the sitting Commander in Chief may not be added to the attraction and the way people from the far ends of the political spectrum approach the attraction. Certainly you could claim political motivations if Disney were to break tradition in not including or eliminating/minimizing a previous chief executive convicted of high treason, insurrection, being an enslaver, or simply being impeached, but including every person who's ever held the office regardless of party, political leanings, achievements, or historical legacy is not political in the slightest.
I think the attraction is imbued with political venom because extremists on both sides of the aisle do not respect the integrity of the office and the process in which one assumes it and see HoP as some type of political scoreboard. Those same people see the HoP akin to a political "Hall of Fame" that should require the distancing of history before determining whether the current Oval Office occupant is worthy of being included in the Disney attraction. That's not what the HoP is attempting to do or what it represents. It simply states the importance of position and a brief overview of some of the people who have been tasked with carrying out the role over the history of this country.
Yeah I agree dump HOP.
My only exceptions to RN's plan are
1. Let's complete PLAY! at EPCOT (or do something else in that space) before worrying about SSE. It's already gutted. The eggs are broken. Make the omelet.
2. Tread very carefully regarding night time shows at DAK. I am very much aware of how noises can effect the wildlife. I'd rather these creatures live stress free than entertain someone from Poughkeepsie.
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So parsing through your Muppets clue I’m led to believe that there is possibly a Muppets-themed Tower of Terror special upcoming? That might be a stretch, but hey, it would tie these two together nicely…
Also, I’m for a revamp of the HoP attraction too. I enjoy it, but it is outdated in its tone and framing. At the very least, reprogram the AA’s to engage in a proper battle royale donnybrook so as to better capture the contemporary spirit of belligerence and tribalism so prevalent in todays political arena.