Last week I had the opportunity to briefly converse with a Disneyland insider familiar with the park’s current long-range plans. This person cautioned that this only reflected where discussions are at the moment—everything’s fluid, is sure to change, and none of the projects have any funds yet allocated to them. But it does give an interesting picture of where planners’ thinking is at on how to follow up Star Wars Land.





My assumption was that, after Star Wars Land opens in 2019, Imagineering would finally get serious about “fixing” Tomorrowland. As currently configured, it’s a congested patchwork of the popular (Space Mountain), the poorly placed (Astro Orbiter), the soon-to-be-out-of-place (Star Wars Launch Bay, Star Tours, and Jedi show), the underperforming (Subs), and the painful scars of Attractions Past (former PeopleMover tracks).

However, the source revealed, “If you’re holding your breath to see a new Tomorrowland in the near future, you’ve got a ways to go. After the Stars Wars land is completed, Fantasyland is going to be ‘refreshed.’ This is going to be the biggest rehab of the land since it was reopened in 1984. How much is going to change is unknown. However, don’t be surprised if we lose a classic attraction or two (Mr. Toad has missed the chopping block a lot of times; this time, it might not). It is going to be a high-tech makeover to bring [the land] into the 21st century.”

After the Fantasyland makeover, it will be Disney California Adventure’s turn with the formal start of an entire Marvel-themed land, which will consume a large chunk of Hollywood Land and the area around and behind Bugs Land. The Marvel Land will connect with Cars Land and don’t be surprised if Bugs Land is a casualty.

After that, Tomorrowland will finally get its rehab. That puts groundbreaking at least seven years from now, with the refresh planned to take another two years. On the wish list: demolishing the Innoventions carousel building, Autopia, and possibly the subs. Although the latter two are sentimental favorites, they cover a huge amount of acreage that could accommodate two more marketable E-ticket attractions that, most importantly, can relieve the inevitable crush in Star Wars Land and better spread out the crowds.

There are no plans to move Star Tours. The Jedi show, however, could easily be relocated when Star Wars Land opens, once again freeing up Tomorrowland Terrace for live bands.

Lots of factors will influence how much these plans will morph over the next 30 months, but in the end, the insider said, “The budget dictates what will finally happen.”

The news left me scratching my head. Then I considered, land by land, the age of current and past attractions:

Fantasyland
– Operating Attractions: 13
– Average Age: 58 years
– Closed Attractions: 5
– Average Life Span of Closed Attractions: 18.5 years

Main Street
– Operating Attractions: 4
– Average Age: 58 years
– Closed Attractions: 2
– Average Life Span: 3.5 years

Frontierland
– Operating Attractions: 4
– Average Age: 54.5
– Closed Attractions: 6
– Average Life Span: 25 years

New Orleans Square
– Operating Attractions: 2
– Average Age: 49 years
– Closed Attractions: 0
– Average Life Span: N/A

Adventureland
– Operating Attractions: 7
– Average Age: 39 years
– Closed Attractions: 4
– Average Life Span: 25 years

Critter Country/Bear Country
– Operating Attractions: 3
– Average Age: 34 years
– Closed Attractions: 2
– Average Life Span: 22 years

Tomorrowland
– Operating Attractions: 7
– Average Age: 33 years
– Closed Attractions: 22
– Average Life Span: 15 years

Mickey’s ToonTown
– Operating Attractions: 5
– Average Age: 24 years
– Closed Attractions: 3
– Average Life Span: 10 years

Historically, Tomorrowland and Fantasyland are polar opposites. Fantasyland has the most rides of any land (not counting exhibits or temporary shows), with the longest average age. It also has the lowest percentage of attractions removed (apart from unchanging New Orleans Square). It operates nearly three times as many rides as it’s lost, as opposed to Tomorrowland, which has removed more than three times as many rides as it operates. Tomorrowland has killed off the most attractions of any land and on average (apart from Mickey’s EyeSore) they’ve lasted far shorter than in other areas—even though they always seem to hang around longer than they should.

So while, to the naked eye, Tomorrowland and Mickey’s ToonTown are in most desperate need of a refresh and should be next, my correspondent says that’s part of the reason why they won’t get it. Imagineering is determined to correct Tomorrowland once and for all, adding dramatic upgrades that have staying power, and no one can come to a consensus on just what those would be.

Fantasyland, on the other hand, has attractions and brands that are seemingly eternal. And, in modernizing its infrastructure and integrating a more contemporary franchise or two, WDI wants to make sure that the area remains the heart of the park and just as timeless for another 65 years.

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