August 14, 2015

Disney Odds and Ends - D23 Edition and More

There's surprisingly a lot going on in the Disney news world these days, but not too much of it rattles fans stateside- that is until D23 comes along today. 

Just for a little fun, I thought I'd spit out my predictions in great anticipation of D23's announcements for the theme parks.

(By the way, why this photo above for D23? Just a reminder that the best plans of men who work for the mouse get changed all the time.) 

Darth Vader and friends coming to a new and expanded location.

Mouse on the Web: Sadly, Al Lutz has gone missing, and his once powerful MiceChat / MiceAge has almost morphed into just another fan site- almost. They've brought some gusto back to the game with their latest update, however! As sure as the Second Coming of Christ, you can bet Disney suits will be doing something huge and significant with their stellar Star Wars property- at least at my beloved Disneyland for now. (It does leave Tomorrowland a thematic mess, however.) It would be nice to feel assured of the same quality coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios/Adventure, but given the recent track record, I have my doubts. Prove me wrong, Disney! And please finish the work before 2021.

Spiderman and more coming to California Adventure.

Marvel, however, makes perfect sense on the West Coast (perhaps not in theme at California Adventure), since the suits are under contract to forbidding anything with the Super Heroes in Florida. Imagine a really compelling new Spiderman attraction, one so good that it just might discourage folks from going to Islands of Adventure in Florida- that is, if that pesky Harry Potter went away. Anyway, expect Marvel at California Adventure in a big way. Even though it is out of theme in my mind, I help it is excellently done. Well, at least this leaves the space for the Third Park free for a brand new concept.

Close by on the web, Mouse Info remains a fun place to visit with& WDWMagic being the place to go for the inside scoop on Walt Disney World. My friend Alain Littaye still rocks on Disney and More, and my little boutique blog Insights and Sounds continues on doing its own thing. I know these guys will all be bringing us great stuff in the days ahead. Can't wait and Thank you!

Animal Kingdom: Yes, the big news out in the lushest Disney park ever built is Avatar land / World of Pandora. That fun website Da Mouse was the first one to really hit the nail on the head and identify it as a "quiet transformation" on the scale that the parks in Florida have not seen that often. Moving of the Lion King show, creating an expanded Harambe in a couple of areas, changes to the Tree of Life and to Discovery Island. Lots of construction- and perhaps even a few things we know nothing about. Of course Rivers of Light is scheduled to open sometime next year. I go back and forth on Pandora. Sure, it will look cool- but will it have something unique that really is a compelling attraction or two? Doubtful. I'm kind of over simulators, Soarin' aside. But the Disney suits have lots of prove after their big push for the project coming off their loss of Harry Potter to Universal. All said, Animal Kingdom has some of the best potential to be a powerhouse of a theme park since Tokyo Disney Sea. We'll see.

China, China, and more China!

Disney's (Disastrous) Hollywood Studios: With Star Wars certain and Pixar expansion a necessity, this park will be the one to watch in the year ahead. Closures abound in preparation for the future. Magic Kingdom has had its big splash in New Fantasyland, and Epcot is being ignored for now. The big budget almost guarantees a relaunch a la Disney California Adventure, but unless the suits allow the Imagineers to do it up big time, the park will become one where folks talk about "what could have been". Not a good thing- unless you're Universal Orlando. Many see Robert Iger as a man who cares most about stock value versus great product. When will he finally see real quality and real investment bring great results? Toy Story Playland? Been there, done that. It's time for something new instead of another rehash from overseas.

Beautiful, yes!

Shanghai Disneyland: Speaking of Iger, the plans for Mainland China's Disney park look great. Many unique aspects and that Tron coaster than should have come to the States. My bet is there's a few more pieces of concept art and some great models. Should be fun to hear what the Imagineers have to say abut it all. Expect nothing political, though.

The one that got away!

Frontierland Expansion for Florida: This one will be on hold for a couple of years. I'm sure something will happen in the Magic Kingdom for its 50th, (not that they need a new draw for THIS park), but the plans will stay wrapped up. Unless a miracle happens, long time park fans can kiss any version of Western River Expedition goodbye. It's too bad- this could be a great way to honor Walt Disney World's story- and Imagineer Marc Davis- and build that dedicated fan base similar to that of Disneyland. Instead, I fully expect a toon-based attraction.

Do you want this in your park or the truncated version below?

What won't we see at D23? Anything Frozen for Tokyo Disneyland or even the slightest peek at plans for their new Fantasyland expansion. The suits will never reveal so clearly why the Asia parks are the ones to get most all the great stuff while the States can sometimes get knockoffs and second rate versions of what's built overseas. 

Fast, quick and easy.

Would you want your U.S. fans to compare what's coming to Epcot vs. what the Imagineers are doing with their biggest hit in Tokyo? I didn't think so.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)


Len said...

Interesting times for Disney park fans for sure! My one major concern is Disney pricing out even the middle class. I fear visiting the parks will be a luxury indulgence for the very wealthy only one day...

Mark Taft said...

I agree with you, Len! But that could be their long term strategy to a degree. At last for resort occupancy!