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The Five Biggest Needs at Walt Disney World

With all the new DVC Resorts, what does WDW need to do?

A few weeks ago during a quarterly results call Disney CEO Bob Iger seemed to imply that once the Magic Kingdom’s new Fantasyland is done and California Adventure’s remake is complete that will be the end of major projects for the parks, at least for a while. I’m not sure he’s taking into account the long list of work that needs to be done.

The list of small projects that could make a trip to Walt Disney World better for the guest is nearly endless. It ranges from little things that could be done better (parking guests at the back of the parking lot when whole sections closer to the gate are still open, bringing back the Country Bear Holiday Show) to large projects (building that bowling alley at ESPN WWOS, a new country or two at EPCOT). But I wanted to focus on the largest needs, those that would make the biggest difference in guest experience.

So follow me below the jump for five suggestions I think WDW should commit to:

1. Something to make guests want to stay in Disney’s Animal Kingdom after 4-5pm.

Many fans think Disney’s Animal Kingdom jumped the shark with Dinoland

This has always been a problem for DAK. They’ve made some in roads with Expedition Everest, but that ride has it’s own problems. SeaWorld (also an animal heavy park) manages to make it work at night. They do it mostly through the addition of some special night time shows. I believe that DAK is the most likely candidate for a water show that uses World of color technology, which would be one part of an answer. But I’d also like to see them add either Australia (a mini-SeaWorld with dolphins, killer whales, and shows) or a new themed land (whatever their replacement for Beastly Kingdom would be).

2. An answer to Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Forget about losing guests to Universal, this is just to show WDI is still the best team at theme park design. Right now that honor belongs to Universal in Central Florida with the WWoHP. Imagineering needs to show they can take a world that exists only in books or the movies and make it real for its fans. There is one obvious choice for this – Star Wars.

One of the most delicious rumors I’ve heard would be the addition of a Star Wars land to DHS. Indiana Jones Stunt show would get re-themed to Star Wars. Backlot Express would receive a Cantina makeover. Then the area behind the restaurant and Star Tours would get one or two new attractions (one themed to Speeder Bikes based on a design WDI did for Disneyland’s Tomorrowland). All this with the type of detail that makes guests actually believe they’re in the world of Star Wars that George Lucas created.

3. Help for back half of Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Help for marketing too apparently?

Excepting the twice a day showing of Lights, Motors, Action there is no reason to visit the back portion of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The backlot tram is a pale shadow of its former self and the Premiere theatre sits empty most of the year. When LMA’s not running other than to walk the Streets of New York (pardon me) America, there is nothing to do for a full 1/3rd of the park. I think the rumored Star Wars Land is a great idea for DHS, but really that area would be served best by an expansion of Pixar Land. This all depends on how well the new Carsland is received at California Adventure.

4. A new vision for Tomorrowland, one that includes an actual vision of tomorrow.

Disney Imagineers have all but given up on the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland. They’ve allowed the future to be invaded by cartoon characters and abandoned any attempt at a cohesive theme for the land. Truth is, this has been a continual challenge for WDI since the 1967 remake of Disneyland’s Tomorrowland. It’s not that they don’t have the talent to come up with a vision, it’s just that the future is always in flux, so the land has to change frequently to keep up with new realities.

It was actually a hard to choose between Tomorrowland and Adventureland, they’ve both suffered from neglect and injudicial application of cartoon characters. WDW might have an easier time breathing life back into Adventureland. Perhaps with that addition of a new thrill ride and upgrades to Jungle Cruise, Tiki Room, and some cultural elements.

For item number five it was another difficult decision. It came down to more affordable rooms versus better transportation options around the resort. Since they’ve announced the Art of Animation Resort (aka the Legendary Years), I’ll give transportation the win.

5. A transit system that inspires and works.

Three elements have conspired to make the roads of Walt Disney World busier than ever before. First, the last decade has seen a huge expansion in hotel rooms at Walt Disney World, mostly in the form of Disney Vacation club resorts. Second, the last few years Disney has also added the Disney’s Magical Express offering free shuttle service to and from Orlando International Airport. Third, the change in the economy has made Walt Disney World more of a ‘driving destination’ than ever before. One result of these three changes has meant that that there really is no slow season any more, just less busy times.

With more cars and busses on the roads than ever before, this has put a stress on the WDW Transportation System resulting in longer waits and and longer drives before you reach your destination. Some even attribute the rash of accidents and incidents to these new stresses. The missing piece of the formula will be a High Speed Rail Station set to open between WWOS and Pop Century.

This creates a huge opportunity for WDW to re-think how transportation is done at the resort and to put some excitement back into the idea of mass transit and green technology solutions. There have been a ton of ideas on how this could be accomplished. Disney even has a taskforce dedicated to the challenges.

So those are my big five. Where Disney goes from here says a lot about how they want to be thought of in the future. Are they content as being seen as static by the general public and risk losing market share or do they want to continue to be the recognized leader in theme parks and retain that ‘must see’ status?

Am I missing any big needs? What else would you like to see on this list?

44 thoughts on “The Five Biggest Needs at Walt Disney World”

  1. I dont think that we (meaning Disney) :) needs anything to rival the Harry Potter ride @ the other park. From what I hear they arent doing well and it has not even been a month since they opened and from what I have heard they have short lines…in the middle of the summer that should be unheard of …but what can I say (that isnt mean and spiteful). Can you tell that I am a Disney die hard!!?!?!? 8(:-P

    In terms of the other needs, IMHO nothing is going to keep people at DAK during the 4 – 5pm hour. That is when the animal care CMs are starting their routine of getting the animals to backstage areas for the night and when the parade ends people know its time to start making their way to the exits.

    Yes the transportation infrastructure has always needed help…and until the city and Disney come up with a financial plan to make that happen it will continue to be a problem.

    and in terms of the back half of DHS and Tomorrowland in the MK ….keeping those areas up to date and relevent will always be an on going project …and in order to do that money needs to continuely be poured into those projects ..and higher ups like Iger have to pick and chose where the money goes.

    Besides I have always liked the retro feel to Tomorrowland :D

    TTFN :)


  2. You’ve made some very valid points and suggestions here. I feel that the Animal Kingdom is always growing and evolving. We were there the very first year, and there wasn’t much to see. Now it has expanded, but you’re right – not much to do after dark. (Although riding Expedition Everest in the dark IS fun!) I think they could start with a night-time parade or water show of some kind. I like the idea of special evening shows. They could borrow from the AKL and do some kind of dinner show with an African-themed buffet, dancing and singing, and African story telling around a fire.

    I am hopeful they will do something with Star Wars AND Pixar. With the addition of Toy Story Midway Mania, that back area is ready for some more Pixar fun. (And let’s be honest – those movies hold the hearts of the newest generation of Disney fans)

    As far as transportation goes… I thought there were talks of a regional rail system that would add Disney World as a stop on a train from the airport. (This would replace Magical Express) If so, this would greatly ease congestion on the roadways.

  3. I would love to see transportation around the resort improved. The bus system is not particularly forward-thinking or part of the famous Disney Environmentality.

    Since solar power is becoming more and more financially feasible all the time, I would love to see a series of localized (i.e. MK area, AK area, etc.) solar powered people movers. There would also be transfer stations to get from area to area.

    One of the great frustrations with the bus system is having to wait for the bus, then wait when people are loading at various resorts. Sometimes there are no buses to be had, especially if you’re coming from dinner in one resort and trying to get to another resort across the property.

    With an omnimover system, there is no waiting. A car comes along, you get in it and go. You get off where you want, you transfer when you need to, and there’s no fear of being stranded anywhere, because there’s always more cars coming within seconds.

    If you’re going to dream, dream big!

  4. Leaving aside the fact that EPCOT fundamentally dodged Walt’s original vision (grrr), the essential flaw of the park is transportation. They desperately need a less tiring way to get around the international section. The ferries are too hot (or at least the wait for them is), and too infrequent. EPCOT needs a continuous transportation system.

    I would love to see them install a WEDway Peoplemover circling the park (or at least 3/4s of it). The track could be behind the attractions, much the way the steam train at MK is. This would be a great incorporation of the futuristic vision Walt originally had, plus be environmentally friendly and with a relatively minimal installation footprint.

  5. WDW’s Tomorrowland should be somewhat liberated due to Future World at Epcot, and Adventureland should be somewhat liberated because of Animal Kingdom.

  6. @Dizneluver

    Actually, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has seen huge lines since it opened, including an 8 hour wait just to get into the land itself on opening day, not to mention the large amounts of merchandise they have been selling (which would have Disney more concerned than park attendance)

    Also, personally i’ve never found Epcot to have a problem with it’s layout, i’ve always enjoyed the walk around World Showcase promenade, but that’s just my opinion.

  7. I think you hit on several big things that need to happen at WDW, especially with Tomorrowland. It’s a hard land to create since new ideas of the future are always forming – but it doesn’t need to include so much synergy such as Stitch, Buzz, and Monsters Inc. Each attraction is unique in their own way, but doesn’t provide any sort of accurate feeling for Tomorrowland. Something drastically needs to happen to the land, and soon.

    As for Animal Kingdom, nighttime entertainment is very important – but at the same time, I do think another major addition to the park is needed. Everest is in very poor shape and the hype of it has been over for quite some time now. It’s time to either up the current attractions (Dinosaur, Everest, Kali) with new properly working effects (or even extensions of the ride such as Kali). OR the park needs more additions, like Mount Prometheus which could house a form of Journey to the Center of the Earth from Tokyo DisneySea. Nighttime entertainment – whether it’s a nighttime parade or a water/special effects show similar to World of Color is also very important to keep the park open later. All of these is needed at Animal Kingdom – not one is more important than the other. Ride upgrades/expansions, more attractions (Beastly Kingdome?), and nighttime entertainment.

    Hollywood Studios needs expansions focused on two huge film groups – Pixar films (an expansion of Pixar Place) and Star Wars (with the creation of Lucasland). Both expansions would help solve the jumbled up mixture that the park currently has to offer. With more dedicated lands based after major movies (Family & kids – Pixar Place, Adults & teens – Lucasland) the park would feel more of a whole park, one where you could spend an entire day at. The concept for Lucasland, which as you said, included re-theming to the stunt show and the Backlot Express, along with additional attractions would be a pretty good response for Harry Potter. Granted it might not showcase a revolutionary attraction like the Forbidden Journey, but Star Wars is the only big brand that Disney has access to which could counteract The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (but it’d probably be too late for it).

    One major component that wasn’t mentioned is Future World. While people may think it’s seen recent additions such as the Spaceship Earth refurb, Nemo at The Living Seas, Soarin’ at The Land, and Mission: Space… the truth is that Future World is falling apart at the seams. Spaceship Earth’s descent still hasn’t been completed after it’s major refurb, the Wonders of Life pavilion sites most of the year collecting dust, Universe of Energy is not only outdated – but it doesn’t really capture the audiences attention, Journey into your Imagination is need of a serious overhaul – with the re-introduction of Dreamfinder (as well as re-opening upstairs), and the Nemo “overlay” at The Living Seas is the worst thing to ever happen at EPCOT. The Nemo characters add no educational purpose to the pavilion. I’d much rather see it completely re-done to focus more on Sea Life and humans (in the future) can use technology to live, learn, and study the magnificent beauty of life in the ocean.

    The major issue with Walt Disney World currently is the management team, and it’s hurting their reputation – as a vacation resort. Management doesn’t want attractions closed long for refurbs (so they never look up-to-date) nor do they want to foot a big bill to go all out on new attractions. On top of all of that, higher up management only wants to see successful marketing synergy at the parks with brands such as Nemo, Cars, etc. WDW is in sad shape and it’s future looks no better…

  8. First, there is NO WAY that Harry Potter isn’t doing well. Are you insane? Lines of 4+ hours still in the mid day.

    BUT, the one thing I would LOVE to see at Disney, and maybe this could be implements in at least the Deluxe resorts is something similar to what Universal does with it’s Express (or Front Of The Line) Pass.

  9. @Dizneluver

    uhm.. i’m not sure what you have heard. But the lines for the WWoHP are NOT short at all. There was a THREE HOUR wait just to get one of those special wands last Thursday. On the other hand, you have Disney who have had mediocre crowd levels this year. The parks felt empty last week!

  10. I agree with you on most parts.

    The one area I can’t agree on is a nighttime show and extra hours added to Animal Kingdom. The main reason Disney closes that park earlier and has no nighttime show is to maintain their conservation efforts and allow the animals to stay adaptive and as relaxed as possible within their surroundings. Many of the animals during the 5-6PM time make their way to their nighttime enclosures due to Animal Rights activists and potential poachers in the area. (and yes there are poachers in orlando that would love to get their hands on a white rhino or giraffe). Any animal-themed park will encounter a huge battle with animal rights activists and places like PITA, Disney has done everything they can to maintain a positive relationship with these groups and one of those reasons is putting the animals first. Animal Kingdom barely breaks even financially due to not staying open late and ensuring their animals are taken care of the best they can. The suits would like nothing more then to bring in something to keep the people their longer and spend more, I’m proud of Disney standing up and taking the efforts they do and ensure their animals are well taken care of.

    The thing I agree with you most is Hollywood Studios. That park is hugely needing some attention. I don’t know how well a Star Wars Park Land would do in the long run, Star Wars weekends brings a HUGE influx of people to the parks each year and brings in more money by keeping it exclusive. I would like to see them expand Pixar Land and move over some of the rides from Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom. I think they could turn the horrific Backlot Tour and convert that to a E-Ticket ride (possibly the Cars Racers from California Adventure if well-received).

    I’ve been pretty happy with Disney’s Transportation. Even being on a bus that was in a Accident, I can’t fault Disney for sticking with their bus system. As great as it would be to see a Monorail style system installed throughout the entire resort, there are three points that prevent it from happening. Initial cost, to expand the Monorail the cost to build it would close in if not surpass the cost of the entire California Adventure project. I would project a minimum of $2Billion. The labor training and upkeep costs are more then bus upkeep and employee training is a lot less. Last thing is it simply wouldn’t bring in much if any money to the parks. Unless Disney increased their Resort/Park Ticket costs to somehow balance it out, they will receive to money from the project.

  11. I agree that Animal Kingdom needs to be left alone. They close early because of the animals needing some peace and quiet. That should never change. Most of Sea World’s animals are under water so they probably are not affected by the loud noises.

    Their transportation needs some tweaking, however. We used to go to WDW all the time years ago and stay at their resorts. The last few times we stayed there, we waited at the hotel over 30 minutes for a bus to pick us up. Then when we were at Epcot, we waited 45 minutes for a bus to take us back to the All Star Resorts.. 45 minutes!! We tried calling and we were just told it was coming. My neighbor went recently and he said the same thing – waited 30 minutes for the bus to come to their resort. What the heck is up with that???

  12. All good points, but here’s what I would add:

    Soundstage – what were they thinking? You see this once, it is enough. Does anyone ever really go through soundstage again? Replacing with a ride, would be much better. They need more rides all around at Hollywood Studios, I think.

    American Idol – Might have been a good idea about 5 years ago, but now? Seriously? Unless you or someone in your family aspires to be a singer, I can’t see spending valuable ride time sitting through this. Besides, American Idol is great, but is not the hype it used to be, and it seems it was brought in near more of the downslope of the show than during the the time when it was at it’s zenith.

    They definitely need a few more rides at Futurer World in EPCOT and at Hollywood Studios for the younger set, as otherwise, there is not much reason for them to go to those parks.

    AKL you hit the nail right on the head. There is nothing to keep you there all evening. Not only that, but that park seems to be the hottest park ever, and I’m not sure I’d stay long even if they did due to the heat. The tropical plants and whatnot look great, but it’s like a sweltering jungle in that place unless you go in say February. They need more “inside/cool” places for lines for rides and just more cool-off places. At least in the other parks you can get on an “inside” ride to cool off, but not much of that in AK.

  13. If the new land in DHS is Lucasland, couldn’t they keep the Indiana Jones show (maybe even add a copy of the DL ride)? Now that Indy has fought aliens the transition between the two franchises would be fairly easy.

    I haven’t been to WDW in years (although I am going next week), but it seems to me that the natural cartoon fit for Future World in Epcot (assuming they MUST have one) is WALL-E. Does he have any presence there?

    Between the Unofficial Guide to WDW and the comments on this post, I’m not looking forward to the transportation problems that surely await me. Maybe I’ll pack my pogo stick.

  14. First of all, WWoHP was built by Imagineers– Disney laid off the talent so they now create for the other guys in town, and do a beautiful job, I might add. I know because I am a former WDW cast member (MK Tour Guide) and wife of a former Imagineer who was laid off long ago. When Disney let the talent go they really began to suffer the consequences.

    Now to the fixes needed: Epcot needs to be redone, it is a bore now. Theme park management has allowed it to be dumbed down.They removed the music and songs from the attractions and left it meaningless. When they got rid of Figment and changed Imagination, they really destroyed a wonderful part of the park. This was done due to political infighting. The scientific information at Future World isn’t even accurate any longer. The best part of Future World is the place where you can try different sodas from around the world.

    Then there is the death march around World Showcase. The distance of the walk isn’t bad but there are no trees! So, you are left walking in the scorching sun. Early on the park had transportation that traveled around the lake, but no more. So, the walkway needs to be reconfigured to allow more trees to be planted, and more shade to exist. The food quality has come down also. It does not have the world class cuisine it had years ago, it appears to, however, once you’ve tried the restaurants you’ll realize that it doesn’t. The attractions are also very outdated and need help. How about making it worthwhile to go the different countries? How about being creative? How about a Mary Poppins attraction in the UK? How about getting the rights to Dr Who and having a blue Police Box with an attraction on the area? All of Epcot needs to be redone– all of it. Time to think outside the box.

    DHS: dreadful. It lost its light long ago when the company sent the artists and animators packing. It is no longer a working studio so it lost its synergy and its magic. Very little worthwhile to see there. How about some props and info on LOST?

    DAK: Wonderful. I was there at night recently as a hotel guest using the extra hours benefit. It was nice. No animals to see, and that was just fine — it was peaceful and beautiful.

    MK: hmm, my personal favorite and old stomping grounds. I love it, but I am not too sure of the expansion of Fantasyland. Tomorrowland needs help — I’d like to see the monoliths returned to the entrance– I miss them. I miss their cooling mist. A more retro Tomorrowland would be better as our technology has already exceeded our look into the future.

    Speaking of technologies being outdated, my flat panel, HDTV has a better picture than most of the screens in the parks. Time to update those also.

    So, yes, the company has lot of things that need to be done. My personal opinion is that only the KIngdoms are worth visiting- The Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The others are outdated, old, and uninteresting.

    1. Someday someone will write the book chronicling how talent Disney laid off from WDI has been responsible for much of the quality themed design and not just at IOA either.

  15. Great points John. Regarding the Backlot Area of DHS, couldn’t agree more. Backlot Tour, while a classic attraction in it’s “hey day”, is a relic of it’s former self and needs to be put out if its misery at this point. Because it has so much space, it is a prime candidate for re-utilization.

    Speaking of re-utilizing, you should add replacing “dead areas” of the park. Sounds Dangerous, Wonders of Life, Fantasyland Skyway are all places that have been boarded up for years. Let’s use them for SOMETHING. Not everything has to be an E-ticket attraction, but it’s time to fully use these prime spaces.

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  17. I am saddened to say that on my most recent visit to Walt Disney World this June, I found the heart and soul gone from Walt Disney World.

    My first visit to Walt Disney World as an adult was in 1991 for my honeymoon. The service was excellent and the overall experience was wonderful. Over the years I have returned to Disney World a total of 5 times. During these visits the true quality of Walt Disney World was evident in the service and value of the experience. As part of that experience there were souvenirs that were well designed and appealing for all ages and the cast members were happy and helpful.

    Over the years Disney has become a soulless corporate machine which no longer strives to provide a quality family experience. It is all about selling. Selling cheap, poorly designed stuff to kids. Whether it’s selling little girls on pink princess plastic purses, little boys on plastic pirate hooks, or their parent’s on the fact that they need to drop $100-200+ on a character breakfast, it is all about fleecing the pockets of the consumer. Disney has become just another theme park with expensive food, $10 sodas, and cheap souvenirs. This trip the Disney Magic died for me.

    As younger generations become more environmentally aware, Disney World should consider rethinking it’s reliance on consumption and return to creating a quality, value driven experience like it used to provide.

  18. Well of course I’d be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to recommend the reopening of at least a few of the Pleasure Island comedy and dance clubs. Not every guest at Disney is there with children. Some are adults without children, some are meeting and convention attendees and some are with children but have the ability for a night out without them. There is a dearth of options currently on Disney-property and after nearly 2 years of nothing at PI, it’s time admit the mistake and reopen a few things!

    Oh, and Dizneluver, the 2-3 hour lines in pouring rain just to get IN to Wizarding World are indeed much shorter than before. The place is clearly dying! Nothing wrong with being a Disney lover but you’d smart to go over there one day and witness the place for yourself. You’d then see just how amazing it is for yourself. Even diehards are leaving thoroughly impressed.

  19. Why does everyone think thrill rides (Beastly Kingdom) and more shows are what AK needs? Hello, Everest/Nemo/Dinoland/Kali… clearly, these aren’t the worst additions to the park, but just adding rides doesn’t really flesh out the concept, and shows that don’t have actual animals don’t either. I agree, they need something, but let’s use real animals. Isn’t that the point?

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  22. For me, I like the idea of Tomorrowland being based on the whole “future that never was” idea, however I think that the current attractions largely don’t embrace that concept. I can think of one thing that could be moved that would solve two problems…take the Laugh Floor and put it in the Studios at Sounds Dangerous. It’s about the same quality level, and makes better sense there and would fit in the building design. I’d love to see Wonders of Life made into some sort of healthy eating-themed buffet to cater to the picky eater crowd so they’ll stop complaining about the great restaurants in World Showcase. (And hey, maybe even go character with it… do the whole Goofy about Health theme or something.) Aside from that, both Epcot and the Studios do need some TLC.

    Likewise, transportation needs some good thought about how to move into the modern era because most people who come down to WDW aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of public transportation and get very frustrated very easily by not being in the swing of it all. (You…the dude who is arguing with the bus driver about having to fold down your monster stroller. Yeah, I’m talking to you! ;) )

    I don’t think there’s a need to be reactionary to something like Harry Potter land, as it is a dying franchise. What needs to be the focus is more timeless expansions and not fly-by-night trends (ala American Idol). I also don’t think that there’s a need to keep people in AK later in the evening. I actually like being able to not have every single day in the parks until late at night…it allows for one evening to go back to dinner at a resort, hit the pool, or maybe do a bit of shopping. Which brings me to the one item I think that you missed….

    Downtown Disney needs major help for both Pleasure Island and the West Side. And realistically, with merchandising becoming homogenized throughout the resorts, I don’t even go to the Marketplace on most trips. I do my shopping at Mouse Gear and am done with it.

  23. A really good post. However, I don’t think there’s too much of a problem with Tommorowland at Magic Kingdom, except that maybe Space Mountain is well past it’s sell by date. I don’t mind the cartoon invasion and really enjoy both the Buzz Lightyear and Stitch rides/experiences. I agree the Monsters Inc stand up doesn’t really fit, but I think the area still looks good.

    I think Future World at Epcot is a completely different story. I just came back from 18 nights at the Boardwalk and after the first visit, I only returned to Epcot for World Showcase (which could do with more countries). Ever since test track came in I think they lost the plot in that part of the park. Then they brought in simulator rides like Soarin and Mission: Space, which I think are just lazy and show very little imagination.

    Most of the Pavillions look horribly dated (especially The Land), while the Wonders of Life Pavilion only exits as a shell for special events now.

    The worrying thing is that they have updated this part of Epcot in the last 10 years but have done a really bad job of it, in my opinion. Nothing has the charm of rides like World of Motion any more (which I know was dated and had to go, but deserved a better replacement).

    I very much agree with your point about transportation as well. I used to spend a great deal of time on Disney resort buses and boats, but they are now so unreliable that I barely used them this time except to go to the Magic Kingdom. I walked to Epcot and Hollywood Studios and drove everywhere else.

  24. I really enjoyed this post. We make it to WDW almost every year, and I’ve been going since the 25th birthday of Magic Kingdom (with the cake castle).

    A lot of people always ask me how I can stand going over year “when nothing changes” (not always try) but I do truly love the feeling of the place. However, I do recognize that things need to keep transitioning and getting better.

    Hollywood Studios – I was very upset when they turned the Backlot tour into a recorded tour. One of the best parts of going on that ride, were the cast member. And ever since they knocked down the neighborhood for the stunt show, it’s just been horrible. They do something with the Museum back there, and I wish they would open up the movie memorabilia they have when you walk through to the trams… I’m always SO interested in that stuff. You would think being Disney, they would have a little more to share than a “Villians” exhibit for about a million years.

    The Little Mermaid and the Beauty and the Beast shows… are just sad. I’ve seen the Broadway productions of the Disney shows in New York and they are amazing and wonderful. These are corny and outdated and I think that they could really utilize the space with something more magical, wonderful, and up to the standards of Broadway.

    There are just so many unlimited possibilities when it comes to show business and Hollywood. I would love some old movie exhibits. The Disney Animation tour used to be spectacular, and I know it’s no longer a working place… but they could change up the animated character couldn’t they?

    Unfortunately, even the Great Movie Ride, is outdated. I love it, I do. It’s such a classic. But it would be nice if it was changed up a bit. Even the corny mobster, cowboy, whatever… I’m a little over it. It would be great to incorporate a new movie. Have the script changed up a bit. I have it memorized as well.

    Epcot – Noticed this time around that while I love walking the World Showcase, I never really go into the countries. A lot of the time, I don’t want to sit and watch a movie about a country. I just don’t. I’m sure there is other ways to make the countries interesting. (Right?!) I like the idea of Mary Poppins in the UK. Maybe something like flying kites or something. Although UK does have the Beatles, which I love.

    Future World, and all the rest of the front is a mess. I’m not too happy with the Nemo ride. There is no fun, nothing innovative about it. I do like how they changed the Living Seas to incorporate the characters. The last attraction was pretty boring. We never even go into Innovations. I do like the new Spaceship Earth a lot… that’s a must. And if there was more going on up here, maybe Soarin wouldn’t always have a ridiculous wait time.

    As for AK, I just love it. I really do. I like to make it early for the great awakening and I can get everything by 4pm. I did notice this time though… that the fast passes are stopped SO early. By noon? That seems a little ridiculous. I’m very interested to see what they will do with the rest of the park. Sad that Camp Minnie Mickey doesn’t have too much going on (although love that Lion King show).

    I always thought it would be great to have a planetarium of some kind. Tim Allen doing the voice, Buzz Lightyear thrown in there. Not sure where it would fit but everyone loves Space. They could also change that up every now and then (just like at the Museum of Natural History.) Maybe also like the Museum, they can feature a traveling exhibition – like the Titantic or King Tut or something like that.

    I would love to learn more about Disney history when I’m at the park. See more pictures of it before it was all built. Problems they encountered, etc. I think it’s important for guests to know about where they are standing.

    I’m looking forward to all the expansion at Magic Kingdom. I think that could be pretty excellent.

    Whew, this is long. :) Anyway, great great post.

  25. I agree with these suggestions but I think Disney’s biggest problem right now is not introducing any new rides geared towards teenage boys. The Fantasyland expansion is great but they are only focusing on attractions that young girls will like. My 12-year-old son is not excited about any of the new attractions and that’s why more families with teenage boys are now taking trips to Universal instead of Disney. Why not introduce some thrill rides?

  26. TickledPinkRabbit

    I completely agree about the expansion ideas at DHS and the need to jazz up EPCOT. I’d love to see the Monsters, Inc. roller coaster get green lighted. I’d also love a new country in EPCOT (and they definitely need to bring some shade into the World Showcase.) I think it’s sad that there are so many old attractions sitting empty – and so many other attractions that clearly need to go to make room for new attractions (Can I be the first to take a sledgehammer to Sounds Dangerous??) I just wonder, after 2013 when the Fantasyland expansion is done, where will the money for these projects come from? Are they banking on the economy bouncing back and more and more people visiting the parks?

  27. Walt Disney World is starting to suffer from it’s own success. It has grown to be huge, and over that period of growth, has become quite old. As we approach the 40 year mark, so many changes have been made that certain areas have lost their congruence. This is Tomorrowland and Future World’s issue. They need a redeclaration of what their theme is.
    The studios is starting to suffer from age, it’s approaching 20. And in those 20 years, there have really not been any major changes since we picked up Sunset Boulevard. People expect the studios to be one of the freshest, its based on movies which is a rapidly changing market. Rip out the backlot tour, greatly refurb Star Tours (which they figured out) and Great Movie Ride, and put in a new land. As far as I am concerned, Streets of America and the Osbourne Lights can go away (or move to Epcot).
    Magic Kingdom needs major refurbs everywhere. Take out the existing Snow White and Peter Pan and replace them with modern counterparts. The Kuka arm tech could make a brilliant Peter Pan. Do something about the Indy Speedway. Either rip it out and put something actually futuristic, or upgrade to all electric.
    Transportation is a whole separate rant, the entire department needs an overhaul still.

    But know what the issue with all of the above comments? (Including John’s and everybody else’s)
    Disney is a business. And all of the above improvements are hard to justify on the basis of increasing revenue somewhere. The only reason the Fantasyland improvement is going through is the amount of up-charge experiences it has. This is where Universal was brilliant with WWoHP, people are waiting hours to then drop $100 on stuff that costs $5 to produce. Same with the new Star Tours, they are going to get way more merchandise conversions with it. The transportation system will only be overhauled if they can show it will increase room bookings. One issue I foresee in our future is that because of DVC people are locked into a contract to visit and Disney can let transportation fall apart.

  28. I found reading this post and most of the comments really interesting and informative..
    Obviously, I don’t agree with all of them, but some I definitely agree with.

    We just spent a week at the Caribbean Beach Resort, an “EPCOT” resort in June and found the bus system to be even worse than imagined.. We spoiled ourselves at the Contemporary last summer, so this was hard.. but we were 25 minutes from Epcot, it once took us 45 to get back from MK.. That’s just unacceptable. Plus, we waited just to get on the bus ALMOST every time for 10-20 minutes. I let most things pointed out slide because I love Disney so much, but that was just unbearable. It doesn’t make sense to have 2 parks not connected by monorail. That over ANYTHING (imho) needs to be fixed.

    And Kurt – Peter Pan ALWAYS has a line. It’s personally my absolute favorite in MK and it’s rare to see a line under 45 minutes.

  29. It’s really hard to argue with any of these – they are all great ideas. I think the Animal Kingdom one is a challenge though – granted, SeaWorld has a lot of (marine) animals but do they suffer from the same potential problems from noise as the wide range of species housed at AK? I’m not enough of a zoological expert to know, but I’m guessing it’s not a straightforward issue. At the end of the day, the animals’ welfare needs to come first.

    I think another issue that needs to be addressed is overcrowding of certain attractions. In particular, the Toy Story Mania FASTPASS stampede has become ridiculous, and I don’t see any sign of it calming down any time soon. What chance is there of building a duplicate circuit to increase capacity? Maybe I’m dreaming here, but I really feel for parents whose kids drag them into 3 hour lines for that ride (as fantastic and groundbreaking as it is).

    1. I’ve given up on the Fastpass issue. Disney obviously feels the goodwill it generates for those who use it outweighs the operations issue and badwill it generates for those who don’t or can’t. This despite the many cases when they’ve ended fast pass for an attraction because it was unneeded for most of the day (Haunted Mansion, Philarmagic (during off season), Little Mermaid, etc)

  30. I don’t disagree that there is work to be done as you stated. But this is a mixed bag here. As somebody fairly new to the whole WDW experience, and with only 2 trips to WDW, my perspective is I think a little different, and certainly not as harsh as some comments.

    Perhaps some are jaded and worn out by just seeing the same thing year after year for so long, but rarely (and yes there are times to say good-bye to some things) should anything “classic” be removed from Disney (like Snow White and Peter Pan as one person suggested). But as somebody that has not had the vast experience and knowledge that the rest of you share… I will tell you that my family with the 2 trips we have made have been absolutely THRILLED with our visits to WDW.

    No, the food may not be the best in the world, but it is still a far cry better than anything at a 6 Flags or other lesser parks. Is food expensive? And is it all about marketing? Well yes, and in this world today, I expect no less. The Parks need to show a profit. And I fully expected that going in.

    What baffles me is how Disney can “afford” to leave some major areas seemingly undone or underutilized. It is not like they don’t have enough story or character properties that they can’t fill these spaces.

    Lilo and Stitch have always been underutilized (IMNSHO of course), Disney according to one thing I read plan on trying to make a franchise out of Phineas and Ferb… so where are they in the parks?

    Disney wants to make a push for boys with XD… so where is the whole XD “experience?”

    And yes, something needs to be done with transportation. But it doesn’t have to be radical. There is already a “hub” for the Monorail… so progressively, over time, add a new route to/from different areas of the resort. They can work in conjunction with the buses to help alleviate traffic and congestion for all.

    So, yes, back to the original point, I think Iger may have been understating how much work needs to be done. But it could be a question of semantics when he says that this is it for “major” changes. I guess only time will tell for sure.

  31. Pingback: Five things Walt Disney World is doing rightThe Disney Blog | The Disney Blog

  32. The one thing I’m surprised to see no one has mentioned is a resort overhaul. While some is in progress, the resort rooms are painfully outdated. In the deluxes especially, Disney needs to take a cue from Vegas. Better pools, flat panel TVs, better spas, granite/marble & luxury bedding.

    We stayed at both The Beach Club & Boardwalk & rooms were gross. Nasty carpet, old bed spreads, mismatched furniture. With the exception of AKL & BLT the DVC resorts are in even worse shape.

    I had a better room reciently at an $89 Hampton Inn in Scotsburg, Indiana than the $300+ per night Boardwalk

  33. I’m hoping they’ll do something with their new Marvel properties in Hollywood Studios. They already have the streets of NY there. It would be the perfect place!

  34. As a former cast memner, I do agree with many of these ideas. However, as for your first items mentioned – I know that with the parking situation – they do that for a specific reasoning. No, I do not know exactly what it is – but it is not just poor judgement on a cast member’s part – everything at Disney happens for a reason, whether it be safety or just general guidelines. I worked at Finding Nemo The Musical, and people didnt understand why they couldnt just sit wherever they wanted. there really is a reason behind it, and its generally for efficiency reasons and getting as many people in to see the shows as possible, but in an orderly fashion.

    As for adding another country, Ive heard a few times from severall different people, that there isnt room for another country to be added into the world showcase. Yes, it seems huge, but when you look into the depths, there really isnt a whole lot of room for anything else. The only place I could possibly see a country being added is over by Canada.

    As for everything else, I respect DIsney’s desire to keep everything ‘original’…but you can only go back so many times before it gets old, ya know? Aerosmith is getting revamped into Hannah Montana roller coaster, which im still feeling a little uneasy about. How many boys are going to want to ride a Hannah Montana coaster? And although i like to see advances, I feel like Hollywood Studios is kind of the one park that shouldnt be altered too much. Its all about Hollywood history and movie stars. Wait 10 years, and then you can put a Hannah coaster in. The Lights Motors Action show is about the only good thing in the back area, with the exception of Toy story – but i feel that entire area back there is ALL wasted space. lots of backdrops, no rides. its great if you just came to take pictures, i Guess. Osbourne family lights are awesome, though! i just feel the back area always seems like its under construction – even though its not. it seems like theres something missing. and they need to change the drew carey show into something. i dont know how long its been down.

    as for epcot, i think its probably about time to change the ellen show. and maybe a new thrill ride?

    after working at DAK, yeah, i definitely agree it needs something more. i cant tell you how many times i heard guests walking by, stating that they wanted to go to another park because there was nothing to do there. ill is alot like a zoo, with a few rides. people go to zoos all the time, so its not very exciting after you’ve hit all the big attractions. we usually had animal kingdom covered within an hour and a half. but it is true, all of the animals usually want to go to sleep around 5pm, so when the park stays open later, guests only have the attractions (excluding the safari). a water show on the water in front of everest would be pretty cool.

    mk obviously needs revamped. they’re in the process of building the new princess castles – which i think will be pretty cool (if you’re a girl) but tomorrowland and the rest of fantasyland definitely needs something new. its all outdated

  35. I think Iger was mis-guided to suggest the big work on the parks stops here. If anything, Walt Disney Imagineering should be working overtime on bringing the entire collection, worldwide, up to code. I was at Disneyland Paris again a couple of days ago and it’s still wonderful, but the whole place could do with a bit of a polish – for instance, there are a lot of tiles on pavements and such which could do with replacements, and Walt Disney Studios still needs a way to alleviate the preposterously long queues for Crush’s Coaster. It rarely dips below an hour and this is a relatively tame coaster.

    The competition, worldwide, is hotting up. Upstarts are opening parks, often funded by the seemingly-limitless wealth of the middle east, which use brute force and cash to amaze guests. Disney badly needs to counter the insurgence with good old-fashioned Disney Imagineering and Cast Member efforts.

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