The crowd goes mild!

Why aren’t Disney building new attractions at Walt Disney World?

The cute and family friendly Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is open at last, and so a long and desolate vacuum is born.
Setting any upgrades to one side, believe it or not, the next entirely new Walt Disney World attraction is not going to appear until 2017.

No, that isn’t a bitter rumour or exaggeration.

That is when Disney are expected to open Pandora to the public after literally years of debate and negotiating with James Cameron over the detailing of the highly immersive area that is often referred to as Avatar Land.

Cameron has been rumoured to be a bit of a detail freak, but I am beginning to wonder if Disney had been using him as an excuse instead of the real reason which many of us suspect to be the Next Generation project that Disney guests know more as MyMagic+.
As reported earlier, the top man for next gen became a corporate casualty in May 2014, despite delivering what has clearly been an immense project.

If the rumours and evidence are all aligned, its increasingly clear that Disney’s capital budget has not only vanished into MyMagic+, but maybe, enough of the next few year’s funds have also vanished into the ether(net).
The timing is dreadful for Disney, as Universal grasped the opportunity to turn the ‘money hose’ on in style since 2012.
In just a few years, let’s take a look at what Universal have been up to:

  • Diagon Alley (a vast area that took just over two years to build)
  • Springfield (a high quality Simpsons themed dining and shopping area)
  • Transformers Ride
  • Spiderman Update
  • Cabana Bay beach Resort
  • Land Buy for Wet n Wild
  • Rumours of a new water park based resort

Disney’s Imagineers have been placed into an eternal sleep it seems until the money grabbing programs of Disney Springs and MyMagic+ have paid their way back.
Of course, Disney could be plotting right now to exceed our expectations, but anything other than an upgraded Frozen version of Maelstrom is very unlikely over the coming years.

Disney have a monopoly right now on that middle class, middle aged, high end customer base, but a new wave of youthful magic is focussed more intently on the rather cool and exciting world that is rising from the ground at a lightning pace at Universal Boulevard.

Disney need more than Angelina Jolie’s help to awaken their slumbering royalty at Lake Buena Vista!

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MyMagic+ is Great For Guests But Lost A Guy His Job!

Annual Passholder RFIDNick Franklin is probably the bravest of Disney Executives.
As the very old saying in procurement goes; “nobody got fired for specifying IBM”.
This week though, the guy at the very top of Disney’s mind blowingly ambitious ‘NextGen’ project (MyMagic+ to me and you), left the company.

Wow, to use that metaphor, he certainly didn’t specify IBM, he couldn’t.  MyMagic+ is without doubt one of the most complex IT/Retail/Room Access/Entertainment/Reservation Systems ever built!
OK, let’s go one step further, it is the only such system ever built.

He took the challenge, and from where I am sitting right now, he did a pretty good job of it too, despite having it taken off him prematurely and handed over to the parks ops guru Tom Staggs.

So kids, if you ever get a job at Disney, forget what Uncle Walt said;

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

Instead, just take the safest route possible, take your pay check and never do anything out of the ordinary!
Nice job Disney!  That should encourage the stars of tomorrow’s boardroom!

Oh he left did he?  He wasn’t asked to leave?

 

Can a Rat Impress at Epcot?

Remy has been at Epcot for many years over in the Chefs de France restaurant, until the big meat cleaver came down, to send him on his way back to France we guess!
Picking up on one of my favoirte theme park rumour blogs there’s a remote possibility that a soon to open Disneyland Paris attraction might also head to Orlando at some point.

Sure, as the blog post suggests, it is as vague as can be right now, but the one thing that Epcot really does need is a big bunch of family fun, and fast.
Right now, Epcot appeals to ‘certain types’ of Disney guest, so if you are an Epcot fan, which of these are you?

  • Middle aged
  • Middle Class
  • Determined to travel the world but don’t have a passport
  • Your kids eat trail mix but not Skittles
  • You are from one of the countries that are represented in the World Showcase

Haha! I bet you were getting mad up until the last qualifier!

No, but seriously, do your kids really bounce around the hotel room at the prospect of going to Epcot?  Happy yes, excited, no.
Somehow, Disney really do need to add some more appeal to Epcot for the whole family and create some exciting new attractions and fast.
Ratatouille, Frozen, Soarin upgrade and a rethink of Innoventions would be a great place to start!

 

 

How is MyMagic+ Working for Disney?

When you ask to spend $1,000,000,000+ on a brand new, never before tried concept, that relies on entirely upon hi-tech computerisation, you can expect a lot of questions.

And MyMagic+ enters the room!

Over the last 18 months, a LOT of questions have been asked about MyMagic+, and like any huge Disney project, both inside and outside of the boardroom.
While Tom Staggs takes the board room heat for the performance of the brand new RFID technology, the theme park guests are the ones that really boil the whole thing down in the real world.

Uncertainty and doubt had plunged much of 2013 and the early part of 2014 into a ‘naysayer’s paradise’.  Guests really took their time to adopt the idea of Magicbands, let alone the reality of putting one on their wrists!
Now it appears, just like evolution itself, things settle down to a new order, and what seemed before strange, now seems the norm.

This week, Disney again recorded great figures in all areas, but most importantly of all, those theme park attendances rose by 3% and spend per visitor rose by 4%.
It’s that 4% figure that the MyMagic+ team will be focussing on.  That is after all, what those Magicbands are all about.  Keep guests on property for more of their vacation and they will in turn spend more.

Armed with a Magicband, linked to a credit card, resort guests can make purchase with a touch of the band and a pin entry at the till.  Who could resist that?
At the moment, Disney report that 3/4 of resort guests are using the MyMagic+ system in some way, and despite only being in operation for a short time, a quarter of day guests are also using MyMagic+

One thing that is a pleasant surprise to guests, is that the Fastpass+ system is working very much in their favor, with more Fasr]tpass availability throughout the day than the old system, which creates a better spread of line waits across the entire theme park during peak periods.

If things keep going well and Disney start installing the next tier of guest interactions that work with Magicbands, we can be fairly sure that almost all Disney guests will be wandering about with Magicbands by the end of 2015.

As a final note, Im not entirely convinced that Bob Iger is being truthful with this quote in the Orlando Sentinel:

“Disney Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger said Disney is not worried about its rival’s expansion plans.”

If I were Disney right, now, I’d definitely be happy with the short term influx of traffic to the entire region that’s being caused by Universal’s exciting new theme park developments, but I definitely sense that the ’empty product pipeline at WDW’ is going to embarrass Disney in the longer term.
There’s no let up at Universal who seem intent on showing Disney how to open up several large scale projects in the space of time that Disney appear to cover half a project.
New Fantasyland has taken 4 years to complete, whereas Diagon alley has taken just over passes of earth around the sun!

Can’t Wait for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train to Open!

SEVEN DWARFS MINE TRAIN DEDICATED AT WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORTWell, today arrived, and I confess to being a little very excited by the prospect of a brand new Disney attraction.
I watched dozens of ride videos, point of view (POV) clips and studied pictures of the inner workings of a fully working Disney Jewel Mine, eager to spot every possible detail about this massive investment inside WDW.

At 7:30 this morning, I dialled into the Disney Parks Blog, just like they said I should and sat, with my Bose headphones on awaiting patiently.
With multi angle shots, and a grey drab sky, Disney worked hard to bring the razzmatazz to the mock timber mine train set that had been temporarily created for the media (I told you I’m not good enough for a Disney invite!).
As Chairman of the Parks, Tom Staggs (or Mr T as I like to thing of him), seemed a little nervous as he talked of the importance of the Mine Train ride as the ‘Jewel in the Crown’.

As I watched, I couldn’t help think; “Really?  A two day press event for this?”.

I wondered throughout, as if Mr T was also thinking along the same lines as me.  The crowd of press hacks and bloggers appeared subdued, perhaps nursing hangovers from free Disney booze, or in the case of the bloggers, more concerned about finding a charge point to top up their mobile devices so that they could tweet and post updates!

I felt a little underwhelmed and, I suspect, Mr T is having a chat with a few people about ‘Bangs for Bucks’ and PR fails.
For me, today’s webcast was just that, a damp squib, a letdown.  See for yourselves.

But wait, there’s more.
A little jaded by the whole press hype thing, I decided to settle down and continue my research for an article on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
The misery continued, perhaps an anti-climax effect, but now that the path though the woodlands is clear, and the enchanted cottage is now almost in reach, I have to ask a question; “Is the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and New Fantasyland in general, really good enough to warrant four years and half a billion dollars?”  I’ll let you know for sure soon!
But for now, I can’t wait for the ride to open and the hype to silence, but the wait times are going to be next on the blogger’s pages!  More booze and battery power needed to see us all through that!

Take a look and let me know!