It used to be that Disney Imagineering was ahead of the game, and they were also ahead of the tourists. What I mean by that is, Disney used to be best in the business but now is playing catchup to Universal and its Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Islands of Adventure. That's the easy one. Many folks who are theme park enthusiasts understand this point and I would venture agree as well.
The other is much more difficult. In days of old, Disney anticipated their guests' needs and surprised and delighted them year after year with new attractions as well as news shows and parades. Now, parades and shows are supposed to keep fans happy for years. Even at Walt's original kingdom, Disneyland, things seem, well, stale. Sure, the park looks pretty good. But it feels old, even tired.
Refurbishing attractions is necessary for show quality, but it is no replacement for new and exciting attractions. The still great oldies of the Matterhorn Bobsleds, the Jungle Cruise, and the Pirates of the Caribbean, the Submarine Voyage, and Star Tours, should be given new elements and refreshing. It's just not enough. The magic is wearing thin.
Don't let the argument of lack of space fool you. Tomorrowland is a mess. A big, disjointed one. And Frontierland has more than enough acreage for something big and new. Even Fantasyland has room. There's no excuse aside from not wanting to do it.
Don't let the $1 billion investment into California Adventure make you think this is why Disneyland has been left alone either. Cars Land and its Radiator Springs Racers and Buena Vista Street will be fantastic additions to the once bare bones park. However, Disneyland has been left alone for the most part since Indiana Jones Adventure in the mid-nineties. Again, no excuse.
Lest I forget Florida, let me say it's just as bad over there, if not worse. The gorgeous Animal Kingdom remains a couple of hours of diversion. Avatar will not be its savior. Something substantial must happen in the meantime. And fix that Yeti!
Disney's Hollywood Studios is as much a jumbled mess as Disneyland's Tomorrowland. Again, no excuses for a movie based park from a company that has the rich history and future Disney has. Poor Epcot may be the worst of the bunch with its outdated exteriors of Future World attractions, pavilions that are a shadow of their former glory, tired films of World Showcase, and lack of anything new in that section of the park for decades.
Hear this: Lack of corporate sponsorships is the result of a park that is losing its focus, momentum, and excitement. The Walt Disney Company can build great attractions that will draw crowds without someone else's money. They just need to do it. And they have the money. They keep building timeshares and cruise ships, don't they? And they keep building foreign parks. There's just no excuse, but while they wait, the magic is growing thinner and thinner while competitors up their game.