Normally at this time of year, I write a retrospective piece looking back at the year in Disney, but for personal reasons, I’ve decided now is the time to look forward, not back. Instead of recollections, I’m writing prescriptions.These are the things I believe will help Walt Disney World continue to compete for the hearts and wallets of their fans while fending off challenges from other entertainment options both near (Universal Orlando) and far (changing TV viewing habits at home, for instance)
I’ll try and limit myself to one or two recommendations each and something that can at least get started in 2014. I don’t intend each prescription to solve every woe, but it will at least make a significant difference in one or two major problem areas.
The oldest theme park in Central Florida is showing its age more and more and suffers from serious stagnation in both attractions and entertainment (translation: a serious capacity issue). There is something they can do quickly to make a dent. As part of an overall project to update Tomorrowland, I prescribe for the park an indoor air-conditioned high-capacity theater capable of hosting shows similar to the Hyperion Theater at California Adventure. With multiple shows a day, this adds a lot of capacity, gives guests a place to cool off in the heat and humidity, and allows for a showcase for Disney’s latest animated musicals (Rapunzel Stage show anyone?). This is also something that could be accomplished quickly and with minimal in park disruption by setting the theater outside the berm. Additional revenue can be raised by hosting events in the space, something the Magic Kingdom is currently lacking.
This park has the highest capacity of all four parks. It has two wonderful festivals and an enjoyable Christmas overlay. These are wonderful for what they do to attract guests. However, the mission and vision of EPCOT has been ignored for too long, and many areas of the park are in serious need of rejuvenation. Let’s tackle the two sections of the park separately.
Last night I was invited to attend a gala party to re-open the California Grill at the Contemporary Resort. In addition to a revamped menu, they remodeled the dining area with a mid-century modern look inspired by Disney artist Mary Blair, added a new show kitchen, even upgraded the exterior with new windows and allowed easy access to the south observation deck for the first time. On both observation decks they added new lights and a new sound system that delivers the fireworks soundtrack clearer than ever before.
After dinner we were all invited outside to watch Wishes performed in the air over the Magic Kingdom. We choose the new south observation deck which allows a better view of the Magic Kingdom and Cinderella Castle. You’re able to see the front of the castle, which if you have great vision or a zoom lens, lets you get the digital projection show too and I’m sure will be spectacular when it’s lit up for Christmas season.
Below is a video of Wishes taken from the very end of the deck.
Tonight Spaceship Earth transformed into “Monsters University” Star Mike Wazowski to help announce 24 hour events that will include special parties for the Magic Kingdom, Disneyland, and Disney California Adventure. Sully put in a brief ‘scary’ appearance too.
“This summer, Disney Parks are bursting with a monstrous lineup of new thrills, shows and happenings,” said Kalogridis. “Guests can start Memorial Day Weekend with a 24-hour-marathon of memory-making as three Parks stay open all day and all night to celebrate the bi-coastal kick-off of a Monstrous Summer at Disney Parks.”
Here’s a video featuring just Mike Wazowski:
[Updated] and here’s the whole announcement:
More details from the press release below the jump:
In addition to creating “The Happiest Place on Earth”, Disneyland was innovative in many other ways. In the 50’s, believe it or not, waiting lines at banks or airports were traditionally a straight line. Sometimes a movie theater would bend them around a corner; the Department of Motor Vehicles would simply open the front door and run the line out onto the sidewalk. Think what it would look like if security checkpoint lines at airports were linear instead of the sinewy system in use today! I had never seen a waiting line that snaked back and forth like the lines for attractions at Disneyland, where they created a holding pen that economized space. Such was the system introduced by Walt Disney’s Imagineers.
They also thought of a way to use existing technology to create the Disneyland Monorail System. In 1959, it was the first daily operating monorail in the Western Hemisphere. Though the park was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays in the off-season, visitors could board at the Disneyland Hotel and still see the Park (though quiet on those days) from a bird’s-eye view. Now, monorails are common at places like metro airports, transporting passengers swiftly from terminal to terminal.