Are Disney Making Fun Of WDW Guests?

wdweth123456-613x920Typically a theme park is a fun place to go and Walt Disney World has really mastered the art of offering the magic to wave upon wave of long term fans and first timers alike.
Once you’ve been, they know you will want to return, again and again.

Sure the competition is hotting up in Orlando and Disney appear to be making plenty of progress in profit and attendance terms, while some, such as SeaWorld are experiencing opposing fortunes, and hopefully a temporary basis!
Just by being in Orlando, just isn’t enough to guarantee the visitor dollars. ¬†It’s got to be right, it’s got to be current and it’s got to be exciting.

So what on earth is going on with Disney’s Hollywood Studios lately is still an ongoing mystery.
After many a year as a kind of cool, half day park, with a distinct lack of direction (I was thinking movie industry terms there ūüėČ ), Hollywood Studios definitely seems to be in the PR wilderness right now.

I’m sure it’s only going to be a short to mid term issue, and I’m sure that there will be something amazing there, at some point, but the questions of ‘what and when’ do appear to be two very, very tiresome questions of our time.

The HS ‘zeitgeist’ isn’t very kind at the moment. In fact it is beginning to stink a little more than a well worn character costume.
Universal Parks often themselves play a ‘game of secrecy’, but usually it lasts 12 to 18 months or so, much of that time, with construction walls and steelwork offering a firm clue of what lies beyond.

Disney however, who are arguably one of the world’s most successful marketing machines, offers little more than just annoyance to eager fans.
HS has lost a lot of features and attractions over the last year. ¬†Sure it gained, and was perhaps rescued by some fairly lame ‘Frozen’ events.

But what are guests to make of a visit to ‘half of a half day park’?

Worse still, many are only assuming that the much anticipated announcement at D23 2013 didn’t arrive for the same reason that this year’s D23 announcement possibly won’t¬†arrive; Disney aren’t yet sure themselves, what’s happening!

If that sounds crazy, think back to Avatar.  Disney took years just thrashing out the detail before anything happens for guests in the parks.  The result being a 6 year gap between Disney first discussing the project with James Cameron and construction beginning in 2014.
The area won’t open until at least 2017.

If Disney take as long at HS, the construction boards could be up until 2021!
Slow work in comparison to Universal’s stellar performance at delivering largescale and innovative projects in very quick timescales!
Now that is a PR success story all of its own!

Another Park Restricts Fastpass+ Choices

According to touringplans.com guests will now be restricted as to how many Fastpass+ reservations they will be able to make at WDW.

Column A (Choose one only)

  • Beauty and the Beast ‚Äď Live on Stage
  • Fantasmic!
  • Rock ‚Äėn‚Äô Roller Coaster
  • Toy Story Mania!

Column B (Choose two only)

  • Disney Junior ‚Äď Live on Stage
  • The Great Movie Ride
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!
  • Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show
  • Muppet*Vision 3D
  • Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

The change now restricts a guest to book one A attraction and two B attractions per day inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
This appears to be a move by Disney that people immediately hate, before they even try it.

In reality though, the new rule probably favors the experienced Disney fan that loves attractions like Toy Story Midway Mania, but rarely get chance to grab a paper fastpass because it is past 11am.
Now, it seems, guests can assure themselves of a Fastpass+ by going online, months in advance, provided that they are booked on Disney property or are Annual Pass Holders.

Overall, once the newness has faded, I think people will either love or hate the new Fastpass+ restrictions. ¬†Sure, you may get to ride some stuff at guaranteed times, but the spontaneity that the old ‘fastpass’ system offers will probably fizzle out as the online bookings snap up the regular fastpass slots quicker than ever.
During peak holidays and weekends, brace yourself for those paper passes to be gone just after park opening as fastpass+ users steal every spare gap in the lines.

As Disney experiment with Fastpass+, I begin to wonder what’s around the corner for the park’s priority line wait system. ¬†Fastpass ++ that allows a few more picks from each category for an additional fee?

Would Disney offer an unlimited Fastpass to guests willing to pay $100 per person, or free of charge if they are staying in any of the Deluxe Resorts?

If they have spent the $1.5bn that is rumored on MyMagic+, you can be sure that they have some hefty upgrade packages in mind for that rubbery wristband on your arm next vacation!

Backlot Tours To Stay Around A While at Hollywood Studios

If anyone can work out what Disney should do at their Hollywood Studios park, then please email Disney with some ideas!

Seriously, the latest news is that the Studio Backlot Tour is to get  a hefty refurbishment starting January 6th 2014.   Set to remain closed until March 2nd 2014, we can only assume that the attraction is going to be sticking around for at the very least another year.

With that large patch of land, along with the space taken up by Lights, Motors Action, I think we can safely assume that this location and possibly no other will play home to Cars Land.
As a few sharp theme park observers already note, Cars as a franchise simply won’t stand the test of time of at least another 14 years (4 before it opens and 10 to pay back the investment).

Disney may have something awesome up their Fantasia Cape’s sleeves, but from where I’m sitting, they could easily be accused of being caught wrong footed at a time where Universal are cruising powerfully along with a relentless upsurge in investment.

While Disney have indeed focussed heavily on commerce activities within the theme parks, including the colossal Disney Springs project and Magicbands projects, they appear to have slipped on a banana skin when it comes to doing what guests are actually looking for: Attractions.

Disney do seem to have a conceptual gap at the moment.
Sure, their new acquisition of Star Wars will end up being successful as a brand, but really?
A 37 year old brand is going to form the mainstay of your future in the parks?

Avatarland equally confuses me.  Yes I loved the film, yes I would love to visit Pandora, but, I have to ask what on earth this non Disney, non Animal concept is doing over in the Animal Kingdom?

Then a flaky rumor now floats around that Lord of the Rings is heading to WDW.
OK, we can’t blame Disney for the rumors that others put out there, but the point is, that is how crazy the lack of direction Disney has right now!

Tom Staggs (CEO and Chairman of Disney Parks) looks set to go into the history books as Disney’s most financially successful yet.
The cost?  A bunch of money churning parks with a distinct lack of identity.

For me, this is where the Magic begins to fade and we see the workings more than the show!

 

 

Hollywood Studios set to double in size?

I’ve always had to summon a lot of courage each time the wife tells me we’re off to Hollywood Studios.

I don’t mind it, I don’t love it.

Sure, the Tower of Terror and the Rockin Roller Coaster is fantastic but after half a dozen times, do I really want to watch Indiana again?
The show remains unchanged since its launch in 1989. ¬†Can you imagine how many times I’ve had to watch that?
Dare I even mention my favorite Lights Motors Action to her?  No, of course not!
It completely does her crazy!

Star Tours did well in our family after the revamp, but hey, I’m just about done with that.
Taking HS seriously as a big theme park is getting harder and harder.
Surprisingly, that complaint doesn’t surface for the other three Disney Parks.
Animal Kingdom is the closest, but the sweet charm, constantly changing Safari and beautiful landscaping always make it a pleasure.

Reading some new rumours about a huge parking lot change at Hollywood Studios is getting my interest though!  Could it really be that as long last the park will finally grow up?
The rumoured project is huge, very costly and obviously there for a BIG reason!

If it comes off, I will definitely be renewing my annual pass!
(Ha as if I ever wouldn’t!)

Osbourne Family Christmas Lights to Finally ‘Pop a Fuse’?

Osborne Famiiy Lights

With all of the gossip floating around over Cars Land, Star Wars Land and just about every other possibly conceivable rumor that’s about to happen at Disney’s ‘weakest’ park, Hollywood Studios are now rumoured to be showing the¬†Osbourne Family¬†Christmas for the very last time this December.

If it’s all true, Hollywood Studios might as well become just be a parking lot, tram and building site with the Hollywood Tower of Terror poking out of the ground!

Sure, we all know that it’s time for change at HS, but really? ¬†Can all of these rumours be true?

  1. Backlot Tours to make way for Cars Land
  2. Lights, Motors, Action to make way for Cars Land
  3. Great Movie Ride to make way for a new thrill ride
  4. Backlot Express to make way for a Star Wars attraction
  5. Sounds Dangerous Theater to make way for Jedi Training
  6. Muppet theatre to make way for Cars Land
  7. A Monsters Inc Monstroplis somehwere
  8. Fantasmic to make way for a Star Wars show

If some of it is true, then great, but if all of it is on the cards, where on earth are we all going to go to get our $100 worth of fun each day?
When you see the crazy rumors laid out bare, it spells out one of two things

  1. The internet is hugely inaccurate
  2. Disney are in a blind spin over Universal’s progress

Sadly, I think that the answer to the question is quite frankly both!
The moment those construction walls at Islands of Adventure went up all of those years ago was the cue that Disney simply missed.  Of course Harry Potter was going to be a huge success, rather like Star Wars, it always was and always will be thanks to the huge franchise that has been built just to keep books and merchandise selling.

Why were Disney caught napping I wonder?
From where I’m sat, they aren’t in a bad position at all, but, that’s not where their shareholders want them to be. ¬†2% attendance growth just isn’t enough.
I admit that the corporate world of entertainment leaves me a little out of my depth, but I know one thing for sure, Disney need to make some announcements soon and commit to sorting out their ‘fourth¬†park’¬†before¬†it ends up looking like a rather burst balloon at the end of a party!

Sofia the First Character Heads to Hollywood Studios

Although hardly¬†likely¬†to make a huge splash in the same way that the much rumoured Cars Land or Star Wars Land rumours are making these days, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is striving¬†forward¬†in ‘baby steps’ to make the park more child friendly.

While Sophia the first might not be high on the parent’s agenda as a character greet, the popular kid’s TV character will be quite a hit in a low key kind of way when she arrives in the Animation Courtyard this summer.

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