Saying No To Cars Land – Fixing the Disney Hollywood Studios

Written by Tim Grassey. Posted in Features

Tagged: , , ,

Published on April 14, 2013 at 12:01 am with 59 Comments



Rumors about additions and changes to Hollywood Studios have existed for years. While many are figments of fan boys’ imaginations, usually where there’s smoke, there’s fire. A few months ago, Al Lutz reported that a version of Cars Land is being pushed through Disney’s offices for a late 2015 opening. While official confirmation is still pending, the expectation is that something will be announced for Hollywood Studios at or before the D23 Expo in early August.

 

I don’t doubt that some fans would be excited if tomorrow Disney announced that Radiator Springs Racers, Tow Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, Flo’s V8 Café and the Cadillac Ridge would be added to the park in the next few years. Having said that, I hope that they go in a different direction.

I visited Cars Land two weeks after opening. I braved the crowds, I rode the rides, and I was even one of the lucky few that hit a giant beach ball. I absolutely loved Radiator Springs Racers and the rest of Cars Land, and feel it’s the best addition to a stateside Disney park in recent memory. However, as Walt said, “You can’t top pigs with pigs.” I don’t want to see Imagineering replicate something they’ve already done; I want to see them produce something that nobody has seen before… something like Cars Land.

Cars Land works in California Adventure because it’s something that can’t be experienced anywhere else. To Disneyland fans, California Adventure was stale almost instantly and an investment into that park was much needed. That investment paid off significantly with some speculation that California Adventure actually saw an attendance spike of close to 60% in 2012.

It seems there is a belief amongst Disney’s Orlando operations that the theme park market has matured. This belief is publicly reinforced by less aggressive attraction spending in recent years. Comparatively, Universal Studios has been more aggressive building new attractions, resulting in significant increases to attendance. With Transformers the Ride 3-D opening within the next few months, Springfield opening shortly thereafter, and Phase 2 of Harry Potter expected to open in 2015, Comcast and Universal aren’t backing down. Even if construction were to begin tomorrow, it’s unlikely that Disney would open a substantial addition to Hollywood Studios prior to Phase 2 of Harry Potter. For this reason, I predict that one or more Universal Studios parks will have a higher attendance than one or more Disney World parks by 2016.

The good thing is, Disney is doing significant work to improve their infrastructure. Adding new hotels, restaurants, shopping and the much maligned Next Gen project will help position Disney World to accommodate larger crowds. The problem is, none of these additions entice people to book vacations. They just add content and create revenue while those people are already here. The best way to get people to book vacations is to build revolutionary new attractions.

This is where I have a problem with Cars Land in Florida. Yes it’s a proven concept, but at best it would open three and a half years after its California counterpart. At that point, the excitement will have died off if they produce a direct clone. Radiator Springs Racers is a fantastic attraction, but it should not be the new anchor to Hollywood Studios. I suspect that the people who planned a vacation around Cars Land in California won’t plan an additional trip around, “Cars Land 2: Now With Humidity”. If a new E-ticket attraction is the anchor of the Florida version of Cars Land, I’m on board, but I don’t want to see Radiator Springs Racers again. Radiator Springs Racers will help that park, but it won’t fix it.

More importantly, if Disney is looking at two true “destination resorts” on either coast there needs to be unique offerings in both locations. Replicating Cars Land in Florida will cannibalize guests from California. While I understand the benefits of cloning attractions, the benefits are realized more when the attractions are built simultaneously.

The dedication plaque for MGM/Hollywood Studios reads:

The World you have entered was created by The Walt Disney Company and is dedicated to Hollywood – not a place on the map, but a state of mind that exists wherever people dream and wonder and imagine, a place where illusion and reality are fused by technological magic. We welcome you to a Hollywood that never was – and always will be.

The concept behind the park is truly brilliant. Celebrating the romanticized view of Hollywood is both broad in scope and limitless with concepts. No longer should the park be a catch all for content that doesn’t have a home, but rather a well-conceived and cohesive story that celebrates Hollywood.

To many fans, Cars Land is an easy sell. It’s an established franchise with attractions that already exist. It’s something that fans understand, but that doesn’t make it the right decision. As a Disney fan, I know there’s a reason why I’m not an Imagineer – I simply don’t have the ability to create and imagine at the same level as these individuals. I would much rather see this team of creative individuals given the opportunity to fix the park with new ideas.

The reason why fans gravitate towards concepts like Cars Land or Indiana Jones Adventure is because those attractions exist and they know what they’re getting. In the same way, fans beg and plead for things like Beastly Kingdom or the Monster’s Inc Coaster because they’re concepts that are understood, either based on existing information or concept art. Similarly, I’m guilty of begging and pleading for a trackless ride system like Pooh’s Hunny Hunt (Tokyo) because it’s a ride system that I understand.

While I just admitted that I’m no Imagineer, I feel that I can still recognize areas of weakness as well as suggest improvements. I think both Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard are especially well themed, despite some minor exceptions and thematic intrusions. The rest of the park has segments that are well executed, but is exceptionally disjointed. It’s the “rest of the park” that I feel needs a substantial overhaul.

Indulge me, if you will, and we’ll explore the Hollywood Studios as I would like to see them.

Conceptually, the front half of the park would represent the idealized version of Hollywood as a city, while the back half of the park would represent the idealized version of individual studios. The park would remain open while construction is taking place, so attractions would have to close at various stages of the overhaul to meet capacity demands.

Part 1

This segment involves changes to Hollywood Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, and Pixar Place. These changes are designed to move focus and capacity to areas that will be further away from major construction. First, I would like to see a refurbishment to The Great Movie Ride. I would like to see scenes replaced, animatronics upgraded, and the finale re-done with an update to the picture quality and the montage itself. On Sunset Boulevard, I would like to see a replacement to Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage! I know a Tangled show had been rumored, and that concept would be acceptable. In Pixar Place, I’d like to see construction begin on the Monster’s Inc Roller Coaster (or other Pixar concept) in the Soundstage to the left of the current Pixar Place. Finally, I’d like to see the Sorcerer’s Hat removed (can I hear an amen?).

Part 2

I suspect that Disney’s plans for the Animation Courtyard have been put on the back burner, but this area can represent a significant element of Hollywood: television and radio. I would like to see the entire area pay tribute to television and radio. This can be accomplished by constructing new building facades that represent current and historical production facilities in Hollywood. Unfortunately this would mean the removal or relocation of The Magic of Disney Animation and Voyage of the Little Mermaid. For thematic purposes, I would like to see a new entrance created to the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster area, now made possible thanks to the removal of The Magic of Disney Animation. Additional building facades can be created along the backside of the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster building as well as the Cast Member parking lot. These new facades will then become the home of The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights every holiday season.

Part 3

Part 3 is the most important and would carry the burden of reshaping Hollywood Studios. It begins in Echo Lake, which will function as a transition area between Hollywood the city, and the individual studios. This presents two difficult transition areas: the American Idol Experience/Sounds Dangerous building and the area between 50’s Prime Time Diner and Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. The transitions must successfully blend these areas of Hollywood Boulevard with a fictitious studio concept, and I believe that a Star Wars or George Lucas land are the best choices.

Star Wars fans have begged and pleaded for a chance to dine inside Mos Eisley Cantina. This experience is a must, and could utilize existing infrastructure like Backlot Express or even help with the transition from Hollywood Boulevard. New attractions can be built in the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular area as well as in the American Idol Experience/Sounds Dangerous building. The exterior of Star Tours: The Adventures Continue should be modified so that it no longer resembles a soundstage. Between these areas, there is enough room for three substantial attractions.

The new land will end at Star Tours, leaving the Muppet*Vision 3D section, Commissary Lane and the Streets of America available for additional expansion to Pixar Place and/or other fictitious studio concepts. Pixar is an ever evolving brand, and I truly believe that there are countless opportunities for new Pixar attractions down the road. If The Muppets continue to grow in popularity, that area can be expanded as well.

Obviously, adding both Pixar and Star Wars content puts the budget well beyond what fans can realistically expect. What I have outlined is unrealistic without a California Adventure level budget (or larger), however I think that using different anchors beyond Cars Land is a stronger initial approach. I can’t help but think that the Fantasyland expansion suffered in part to Journey of the Little Mermaid opening 18 months prior in California. While I understand that Radiator Springs Racers is a far superior attraction, I can’t help but think its effect will be diminished in Florida. Thankfully, the construction of Radiator Springs Racers still fits in line with the rest of my suggestions, it just delays the content that guests haven’t seen before.

But that’s just the way I see it. The important thing is what you’d like to see. Please take a moment to share your thoughts on how Disney should reinvent the Studios park.

About Tim Grassey

Three months before being born, Tim enjoyed his first trip to Disney World. Ever since, frequent trips to Disney World and Disneyland have helped feed the obsession. Tim currently co-owns the Disney World Rumors and news site, WDWThemeParks.com. You can follow the site on Twitter @wdwthemeparks. In addition to contributing articles to MiceChat.com, Tim is also a co-host on the E-Ticket Report Podcast. The E-Ticket Report (@ETicketReport on Twitter) is a member of the Mice Pod podcasting network, and Tim along with fellow co-hosts Derek Burgan and Chris Wakefield discuss what pleases or displeases them about theme parks.

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  • WesternMouse

    In the mid-90s, WDW mgmt considered adding a drive in theater in the parking lot of the Studios. That would be cool too.

    • Maybe that’s how they swing it… They include the Drive in Theater component of Carsland so that it’s slightly different. While still not my first choice, I could get behind that more than a direct clone.

      • Susan Hughes

        There’s a rumor flying around here at Disney California Adventure that they might be building a drive in theater in between Hollywood Tower of Terror and The Cadillac Range at Cars Land.
        Construction on “something” started a month ago. Two cinder block structures; one behind Tower of Terror and the other behind Cadillac Range. In between those two locations are a lot of unused trailers and parking spaces. Plenty of room for “something”.

  • red barchetta

    I guess I’m in the minority, but while I like Cars Land itself, I find Radiator Springs to be a vastly over-rated attraction. It’s not exciting and you can see everything in a single ride-through (except for the very slight alternate path). There are no details left to discover, unlike detail-rich rides like Splash or Thunder Mountain. And that would be fine if the climax of the ride actually lived up to its potential, but it feels like you’re in a big go-cart that offers little in the way of thrills.

    I suppose this is a long-winded way of saying I totally agree I hope Disney Studios gets something different as well.

    • Anonymouse

      “I guess I’m in the minority, but while I like Cars Land itself, I find Radiator Springs to be a vastly over-rated attraction. ”

      You are not in the minority at all. The praise for Cars Land is somewhat deserved in what an accomplishment it is for Disney Imagineering, but the reality is that the praise would be even greater if it were something people actually wanted.

      1) Cars Lands’ appeal lessens after every visit. As jaw dropping as it is the first time, subsequent visits are less and less appealing because once you get over the beauty you start realizing how shallow it all is.

      2) Cars popularity is greatly overrated. Yes, its easy to point at merchandising and piles of money to make the point that the world loves Cars, but I believe that the reality of it is that Cars is Pixars most 2D property. The characters are as generic and flat as any roadside postcard you send to a relative that you really dont want to write a whole letter to.

      3) Little boys like Cars… so what. Sure, little boys like Cars but little boys also like McDonalds and fart jokes. They are an important segment to market to, but they do not represent the market as a whle.

      4) Cars Land is the land that NOBODY asked for. I challenge anyone to find a post anywhere before Cars Land was announed where someone said “I wish Radiator Springs was a real place because I’d love to visit”. Yes, its impressive and well realized but no, its not interesting.

      5) Cars Land (minus ride time) can be finished in 30 minutes. There’s a hippie tent that sells banans, 3 gift shops, a food place and 3 rides. And of those 3 rides, only one is really worthwhile. So the ONLY thing that keeps people in Cars Land for so long is that the rides take forever to get on. Thats not the formula of a good time, its a formula of wasting time.

      Okay, well by now i’m sure people think I hate Cars Land. I dont. I think Imagineers did an absolutely amazing job, and that is exactly why repeating their work seems so lame. Cars? Avatar? Is this really what anyone is asking for? These guys proved that they can make a bad franchise look good, so imagine what Imagineers could produce if it was a franchise people actually asked for.

      • MrGoat

        I could not possibly agree more, with everything you said.

      • LoveStallion

        I agree with all of your comments, but remember this:

        Disneyland was a place no one asked for.

      • LoveStallion

        I agree with all of your comments, but remember this:

        Disneyland was a place no one asked for.

      • Marko50

        “ ‘I guess I’m in the minority, but while I like Cars Land itself, I find Radiator Springs to be a vastly over-rated attraction.’

        You are not in the minority at all.”

        Wait. What? You agree with him so he’s not in the minority? Really?

      • scarfan

        “3) Little boys like Cars… so what. Sure, little boys like Cars but little boys also like McDonalds and fart jokes. They are an important segment to market to, but they do not represent the market as a whle.”

        The Princess focus for the past few years have been marketed exclusively to little girls and I note that even the new areas that have many fans praising has very little appeal to boys, so it baffles me that this comment seems to be accepted here when the very same can be said about little girls.

        The ideas presented appeal to far more than little boys, unlike the Princess focus, and would help greatly to stop the flow of people who are excited by Harry Potter, Transformers and the Simpsons but just not interested in Princesses. I don’t care how detailed it is, Fairytale Hall is worthless to me if it will only be appealing to a tiny part of my group.

      • forevermercy

        Ok I couldn’t disagree more.
        Following your points, here’s why:

        1. ANY park looses its appeal the more you frequent it. As a Florida native, frankly I’ve seen it and done it all. For instance, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was a marvel to me at first. Couldn’t wait to visit again but other than the one simulator ride with going on, I quickly realized how “shallow” the rest of the island was. Can say the same with any new attractions after a while.

        2. You can say the same for most animated films. How dynamic and memorable a character is highly relative. I personally dont care for Monster’s Inc. characters. To me there all plushy creatures with varios color furs and number of eyes. But others think Monster’s Inc was the best thing ever! Its a matter of opinion, and the popularity speaks for itself.

        3. Like Scarfan, I also take great offense to the idea of “so what” to the idea of for once in Disney’s history they cater to little boys! I happen to have a little boy and think its great that I don’t have to prematurely push him to content way too old for him because there is little to none Disney content catered to him! Its been all princess all day for he past decade and has made a parent like me pass over WDW because I know its not geared towards my little boy! So KUDOS to Disney for making it more of priority to give little boys what they delight in!

        4. Most of the attractions at WDW and is a bunch of stuff no one asked for! Did anyone HAVE to have Tower of Terror, yet its now one if its biggest attractions? Many of us have been eager to see Cars integrated more in the parks but didn’t have much of clue how to see it through. Cars Land is beyond what many of us could have imagined for the concept. And now that it is here, there IS a demand for it here in Florida.

        5. Again, this can be said of any attraction/sub-park. I remember one day where we did everything worth anything in HWS in a little over 2 hours! It was a slow day, granted but it’s the same with Animal Kingdom and even most aread is MK you can probably knock out each land in half hour or less, minus show times and standing in line.

        I’d be thrilled for this to come to fruition here in FL and I AM asking for it!

  • xboxtravis7992

    When I visited Florida in 2007, it seemed Disney-MGM Studios (as it was called back then) was the weakest park, despite being there during the awesome Star Wars Weekends.

    I think the main issue is that nearly everything in DHS is stage shows, there were only 5 rides in the park then. While many of those shows such as Indiana Jones were must see attractions, most seemed to be filler. A few good rides would do good in DHS.

    And yes, Carsland is not the answer. However we have to remember Universal is copying Harry Potter in California, and Disney might unfortunately view Carsland as a similar “copy and paste” attraction.

    • Your point on Universal parks cloning attractions is a good one, but it does appear that the Hollywood Counterpart of Harry Potter will include the larger scale dining component as well. If they want to keep the same anchor (Radiator Springs Racers) and tweak the surroundings, that’s a reasonable enough compromise.

      To that point though, I think the impact of Transformers won’t be as great in Florida as it was in California. That’s in part to Spiderman, but also in part to it opening a year+ after the California version.

      • forevermercy

        Agreed

    • LoveStallion

      The shows really are the “problem.” I didn’t notice it as much the one time I went to Disney-MGM (in 1999), but when I visited Walt Disney Studios in Paris in 2009 (which I know is the most pathetically developed of all Disney parks), it was all shows. Just shows show shows. And the problem with this is that it requires one to plan a day according to a show schedule, rather than just ride rides at one’s leisure.

      I think the team in Florida is attempting to combat that, but it’s difficult to come up with ride ideas in a studio-themed park.

      And regarding Cars Land in FL, I think it is an awful idea. I loathe attraction clones.

  • brianpinsky

    No RSR for DHS! You should have the whole Marvel land! Disneyland I feel does not need it and we can find other franchises to fill DL and DCA. I last visited WDW back in 05 (before Everest opened) and DHS is a breeze, all I remember was Light Motors Action and Fantasmic (which makes me glad of DLs) if something needs to be added it needs to be different from DLR, DLPR, TDL, and HKDL make it something completely different and so far out of Disney that no one would ever guess it. Just my opinion.

    • Susan Hughes

      I recently was sent an online survey from The Disneyland Resort. All the questions had to do with building a Star Wars Land at Disneyland. Would I like to see it happen? What planets should be in the land and what characters? Very specific. It’s obvious they’re interested in building a Star Wars Land.
      But there’s no room for such a place at Disneyland. Could this survey actually be for Orlando, but they wanted to disguise it as a Disneyland project?

  • chesirecat

    DHS supposedly doesn’t have enough room for Carsland as it was built with marshland and a freeway around it. Also, DHS get way more traffic than DCA 1.0, and AK actually has a lot of room for expansion. With WDW, anything new and uber-cool at any one of the four parks will drive attendance, overall, at the whole resort.

    • This is the first I’ve heard anyone say that Carsland can’t fit into DHS.

  • DG2

    Totally agree ! It’s great having unique and different attractions at each park and gives people a reason to visit both parks. DHS should install a racer type ride but O would make it Star Wars Pod Racers !! Something really cool like that. Both DHS and Epocot need a new “A” ticket ride. And make it wild

  • QPerth

    Great article, and so many terrific suggestions.
    DHS already has its theme, it just needs refreshing and far more Star Wars! It can’t have Marvel, so give it what it can have, and something that Uni probably wishes they had – Star Wars! Give the West Coast some Marvel to attract a crowd and the East Coast Star Wars. Make each Resort a destination in their own right.

  • Great article Tim.

    I understand the temptation to build Cars Land at the studios. They saw how it fixed DCA and they want to repeat the magic at Hollywood Studios.

    While I absolutely agree with you that they would be far better off building something unique, I think they’ve done the calculus and determined that the entire Eastern half of the US belongs to WDW and likely hasn’t experienced Disneyland’s Cars Land, and likely won’t unless its built at WDW.

    At the same time they are working on Cars Land, they will also be building an even more expensive project at Animal Kingdom, Avatar. The budget for that project is rumored to have swelled to $750 million. The one two punch of Cars Land and Avatar is very likely to accomplish exactly what Disney is hoping for . . . 100% occupancy of its hotel rooms and substantial increases in ticket and merchandise profits (with huge price increases to go with them).

    I’m not arguing that Disney has chosen wisely with either project. I certainly think they could have picked better franchises (or something original) to really wow us. But they are finally working on the “If you build it big enough, they will come” mindset and that’s a good thing.

    Cars is my least favorite PIXAR film, but one of my favorite theme park lands (aside from the two uninspired flat rides stuck in there to compliment the Racers ride). It is going to be a BIG draw in Florida. Not as big as the new Harry Potter at Universal, but big.

    Now, if Disney really wants to go big at the Studios, they’ll build a Star Wars land. They’ve designed all sorts of concepts from massive to cheap. If they want to steal Universal’s thunder, they need to go big. With Cars and Star Wars, the Studios could go from the weakest of Disney’s stateside pars to one of the best.

    Whatever they do, they must abandon the old “what’s the least we can get away with” mindset and go big.

    • Herc

      DHS needs some serious help and I completely agree that Carsland is NOT the answer. I am a big Cars and Carsland fan. I live in New Jersey and will make a second trip out this summer with the family. It gives me a reason for a destination vacation. I make at least one trip a year to WDW and I feel that there could be other areas in DHS to focus on.

      Let’s just say I totally agree that the Big Eyesore Hat MUST go. Great concept, but at the entrance to World Drive or in the middle of the parking lot. Not at the end of Hollywood Blvd. Also, a total revamp of the Great Movie Ride is in order. I would move the AFI presentation to the wait line/preshow areas. Some scenes in the attraction could stay and some could go, but all have to be rethought. The ending MUST be completely changed.

      1) I know there are Pixar haters that don’t want more Pixar films in the theme parks, but giving Pixar Place a huge addition, would really set this park apart. I would bring at least three more attractions from the Pixar movie brand. If the Monsters Inc Door Coaster comes to Orlando, I would hope that TDA would not add a Monsters Inc. miniland land in Hollywoodland. Keep the parks separate from clones. Move Pizza Planet over, change Honey I Shrunk to Bugsland. I’m sure that if the Imagineers were left to create two more unique attractions for Pixar Place, they would be fantastic. I say let the movie Cars be represented as a Meet and Greet. Kill the Cars2 one on the other side of the park and move a Radiator Springs representation here.

      2) I would also spend time with Star Wars Land. I mean come on, Star Wars Weekends are HUGE. Adding two more attractions, a store, and the Cantina would really help bring this area together. Get rid of the “really looks added” Jedi Training Academy stage and really treat this experience with the respect it deserves. It definitely has to be open air and not an enclosed theater. Something along the lines of the old Tomorrowland Theater in the MK would do the trick. Meet and Greets can be placed around.

      2a) I dunno what to do with Indiana Jones. There are four (ok, three) really great movies in the franchise. Can we not come up with some sort of attraction between DL and DLP versions that is sorta different enough? The time period could work with the transition from Hollywood Blvd. My gosh, take over American Idol Sounds Dangerous areas.

      3) Sunset Blvd. needs some care. Can we somehow fix the Rock N Roller Coaster theme to the 1930’s? The theme is so blown in this area. It’s not a big thing, but adding the Red Car Trolley would help bring both Hollywood and Sunset Blvds together. Another attraction would be great, but I think there is no room at the inn. Changing the BATB show to Rapunzel is a great idea (too bad all that work in the MK was for restrooms). If there was any way to change the entrance to Fantasmic to the entrance by Oscar’s, it could possibly free up enough room. Still the entire backstage area really needs fascade theming leading up to Fantasmic.

      4) Animation Studios is in dire need of help. Animation tour is not a good one and needs to be reworked. It worked with the tram tour, but not seems so disjointed. Agree television and radio should be represented here and could continue the nostalgic theme. Ariel should go. Great concept in 1989, but not now. She had a whole new area in the MK. Other projects could go here. Rumor has Phineas and Ferb coming, but that would make the Meet and Greet on the other side of the park so not right. This area needs a reason to visit it. Not much to do behind the arch. Years ago there was a Catwalk Bar and an Aladdin restaurant. That is what this area needs again.

      5) Muppets. Too bad this area is so small. Pizza Planet could become a Swedish Chef quick service. Mama Melrose’s could be rethemed to Muppets. There is a Muppet shop, but there could always be one more and possibly one or two attractions. Muppet mania is growing again and I think that this franchise needs a chance. They should chuck it out of DCA, revamp the Florida one and DHS would have a unique area.

      6) Streets of America. Ok, what to do with Lights, Motors, Action? I think this very expensive, can’t run in the rain, only a few times a day attraction should go. Way too much valuable land to build on. I would take the streets and get rid of the fascades. Add the Christmas shop here, Add a real New York pizza place, add a Ghiradelli ice cream shop, add SOMETHING to the old Hunchback theater. This area is always great for Osbourne lights, but something has to be done.

      Alot of this has been said already, but I needed to readdress to make my points. I hope that TDO can get off their big pile of money and make this a park all would want to go to. Right now, it seems to be an after thought or a “let’s go early, get the kids into Jedi Training and ride Toy Story Mania and then we’ll leave.

  • MrTour

    Yes! Get rid of the Sorcerer’s Hat!

  • Anonymouse

    <<>>

    Its true. Pixar IS an ever evolving brand, and thats why I have no faith in them (or Lasseter) anymore.

    Pixar makes (made?) incredible properties but IMO in their “evolution” the Pixar and Lasseter have lost their way and their goal now seems to be more about rehashing an old formula rather than pioneering a new path. Cars 2. Nemo 2. Monsters U. Monsters 3D. Nemo 3D. Cars Land DCA. And Cars Land DHS? Is this really the world we all imagined when Pixar was acquired?

    And as for my Lasseter rant (and which I would LOVE someone to write an article about because the evidence it out there). My theory has always been that he thinks he’s Walt Disney and he wants to mark his territory which is why he keeps shoving HIS franchise down our throats and delaying/hiding the acquired franchises (Star Wars/Marvel) that have quickly become what fans are interested in. He isn’t looking for whats best for the fans or the company, he’s trying to immortalize himself through brute force and one day soon he’s going to propose a statue of himself and Mater in a park.

    The ongoing theory has always been that Cars is being pushed because there’s no “boys” properties in Disney’s portfolio. Well, here it is. Marvel and Star Wars. So where’s the plans to put their names to use because adding more Cars isn’t anything that ANYONE is asking for (except for JL).

    • wave789

      You’re totally wrong. Cars is not being pushed because of a personal affection by Lasseter, but because it happens to be one of Disney’s strongest merchandise brands ever. Lasseter’s personal affection is icing on the cake.

      As for Marvel and Star Wars, it’s pretty obvious why neither has really shown up in the parks yet. Star Wars is too new of a Disney property to be fully realized yet for a theme park. Marvel has been in the burner for years, but where exactly should they put it? Not at WDW, since Universal has the exclusive rights to Marvel theme park attractions east of the Mississippi. And they can’t put Marvel at DLR yet because all the recent attention and budget has been focused on DCA’s billion dollar makeover that was clearly much more necessary than a Marvel expansion.

      Marvel’s timing was simply off, preventing it from having a place in DCA’s makeover. The best bet for Marvel in the states is at a third gate for DLR. Star Wars, I expect, will find a home in DHS and DLR’s third gate.

      • wave,

        Thanks for dropping in. I agree with what you’ve said – it sounds like Cars Land was pushed through because it was an easy sell to many people high up at the company. Publicly, Lasseter has said that there were as always a wish to do something with the California Cars culture and Cars Land was a natural progression from that concept.

      • StevenW

        The most obvious addition to DHS is a Star Wars Land. I agree Carsland should not be installed; however, that doesn’t take away the WOW factor. I think DHS will benefit from a Carsland, but it needs something unique.

        How about the new Planes movies as counter point? Unfortunately, this is at least a decade away from fruition.

        That’s why I believe going with Star Wars Land makes the most sense.

    • danielz6

      I don’t think anybody thinks they’re Walt Disney…and I doubt a statue of anyone, besides Roy Disney, will ever be put in WDW. That being said John Lasseter and pixar is one of the best things that’s happened to Disney in the last two decades as they had nothing to compete with dreamworks and blue sky animation otherwise (except for Bolt). And lets face it, toy story is the steam boat Willy of the modern CG animation world so let the man be proud, he deserves it. And carsland, although not what people expected has worked wonders in DCA.

    • Kenny B

      You should check out Pixars slate of upcoming movies…. besides Finding Dory, theres “The Good Dinosaur”, about ‘what if dinosaurs never went extinct”, then there’s”The second untitled project, directed by Peterson’s Up co-pilot Peter Docter, is a “wildly ambitious” look inside the human brain”., and a movie about Día de los Muertos, or “the day of the dead”. Sounds like Pixar has some great! upcoming original! films soon – get excited.

  • red014

    I think a way to re-use Radiator Springs Racers AND the Cadillac range, without actually remaking the DCA ride, would be a podracer ride based on Phantom Menace. Slides right into Star Wars Land. I know it’s part of the evil new trilogy, but just level off the Cadillac mountains into canyons and rework the ride vehicles.

    • That could be a really fun concept

    • danielz6

      Sure! Now someone just needs to invent anti gravity!

  • daveinfontana

    I feel that each Disney park should have a unique attraction onto it’s self. Give people a reason to visit it . A StarWars Land with a total emersion experience would be an exciting place. Give it some good rides ,not three or rehashed ones. Avatar was a visual movie and I don;t think it could be replicated to the fans content. StarWars could. It could be enough that would draw people on the Pacific side to want to travel to Florida.

  • jtizzle1023

    Amazing Artical!
    These are the exact points I have been trying to make for a long time. Stop with the cloning and lets get something new and special. That’s why I believe Avatar will work. Although the story has been used before, you can’t deny that it is an amazing environment that only Disney could remake. While it might not be a draw like Potter or Cars, it still will be a reason to go to AK for more than Everest and Safaris. I think that you also make a good point with the different “studios”. I think if they break it up to different studios based on the muppets, lucasfilm, disney and pixar with having “old hollywood at the front and by TOT would be great. Hopefully people at Disney see this because its a great read.

  • Mr Wiggins

    “Disney may have finally found the grail. You don’t need imagination or art. All you need is a brand”
    – Neil Gabler

    • LoveStallion

      That Disney biography by Gabler is outstanding.

  • animatronic

    I agree that having unique attractions at each park is key. They should adopt changes to make Hollywood Studios a better park overall rather than just bringing Carsland. Well said.

  • SxcyMike

    Maybe it’s just me, and if so that’s fine. I’m ambiguous to believe that these Star Wars concepts is the answer. I mainly feel it would be rather otiose do to do many of the younger generation (myself slightly included being 29) being out of sync with a brand based off in the 80-90s time frame. I’m bewildered of the notion that the average 7-15 y/o would jump for joy in praises of going to Disney HS for the Star Wars experience. As popular as the brand is I just can’t come to terms with that concept being the next cash cow at that park for the younger clientele. In other words, I’m not for the cloning of any attraction, lacks originality. In the far corner of my mind I can’t help to think that just because I didn’t ask for something doesn’t mean I won’t love it when I get it.

    • Marko50

      You forget that Disney is doing a bunch of new Star Wars movies, the first to be out in (correct me if I’m wrong) 2015.

    • Marko50

      You forget that Disney is making a bunch of new Star Wars movies, the first of which is due out in (correct me if I’m wrong) 2015.

      • Marko50

        OK, first my reply didn’t show. Then I redid it and it showed up twice. :-/

  • SpectroMan

    I will agree with one thing mentioned so far – that the vast majority of Americans east of the Rockies probably won’t see our DCA Cars Land in their lifetimes. That said, I STILL hope it doesn’t get duplicated.
    Cars is the worst Pixar film to date. The land is visually impressive, especially at night, but the thrill quickly wears off. RSR is, for me, a D ticket disguised as an E ticket because of the huge amount of real estate it takes up. The other two are forgettable after a few times each. Other than that, we have gifts shops and a few nice new foods, but honestly, now that I’ve been to Cars Land a few times, my first pass swipe of every trip is about 90% Disneyland and 10% DCA. I realize this wouldn’t be the case in Florida – WDW guests flock to new things whether they’re good or not – but still, cloning has got to stop.

  • Ravjay12

    Great article! I agree with NOT having Cars Land at DHS because they already have it in the form of Test Track at EPCOT. RSR should be exclusive to DCA because it needs something unique from other parks, and it doesn’t seem to fit anywhere else but DCA. DHS should focus on Marvel theme or Star Wars land because it would fit better with the movie theme. Star Wars land would work the best because they already have Star Tours 2 and they do the annual Star Wars days event there. Now that they see that investing in quality attractions pays off, DHS could really get something special. Can’t wait to see what they do..

  • DocEagle

    I remember when the Tower of Terror was supposed to be the answer for DCA. The hugely popular ride now coming to California!!

    Well, except for maybe its first few months, it was rarely busy. You can walk right on most of the time.

    Disney would be much better off it the attractions at each park were different. It’s as though Disney doesn’t WANT any east coasters to be curious enough to pay a visit to Anaheim.

  • gboiler1

    I’d like to see some refresh and add attractions. Tim hit it with adding another Star Wars attraction and expand that area the same with the Muppets, or at least refresh the existing show if not add another attraction.
    Pixar Place really should have at least two additions to Midway Mania. A Cars ride would be fine but perhaps add a Monsters Inc ride or something along the lines of a dark ride that pays homage to all the Pixar movies.
    Really DHS needs an overhaul much like DCA got.
    Maybe someday…

  • sec504

    Hey, Tim, great article. As a CM at MGM (94 – 96; “Inside the Magic: Special Effects and Production Tour) you may be surprised to know that back in 94, a lot of us were talking about the fact that if Disney didn’t keep up with the times, technology would make the reason behind the park obsolete. The CMs in our break room were full of suggestions (without regard to cost or maintenance, of course–it’s always easy to be an armchair Imagineer without a budget) such as constantly updating GMR (we didn’t like the ending back then, either), and adding two strong D-ticket dark rides (at least one being an OmniMover) celebrating the movies in a “timeless way,” and so on. Of course, our biggest complaint back then was that Superstar Television would either need to be continually revamped or scratched altogether. I still think that at least one strong D-ticket OmniMover ride (what used to be known as “The Magic Kingdom Bread-and-Butter,” at least in our break room, in a different area of the park from Toy Story and the northern reaches of Sunset Blvd. No, it wouldn’t be a thrill ride, but if they do it well enough, it could displace roughly 2,000 guests per hour, and give them something fun to do for seven or eight minutes (hopefully). The theming of this ride should be timeless, yet use modern technology in a way that makes tweaking and updating relatively easy. As fantastic as Haunted Mansion and many of the old Future World attractions were, they’re prohibitively expensive to maintain properly (not that I am suggesting that as an excuse). But this OmniMover ride should have something to do with celebrating movies within the original concept of “The Hollywood that never was–and always will be,” yet wholly different than GMR, as it would be an original attraction, and not a tour through assorted famous scene simulations. Just a though. Thanks again for a terrific article.

  • JiminyCricketFan

    I loved your article. I really think that Hollywood studios needs to really be rethought from the ground up. Park suffers from layers upon layers of “Just add one more thing” to fix the park. Hollywood studios now is bordering on a theme park that has forgotten its Theme.

    First we can agree that the stupid hat needs to be removed.

    Second, I believe that the park needs to be planned out in the master plan. The current Hollywood Studios feels like nobody had an idea what the original park was going to be. There does not seem to be any discernible lands or experiences it just seems to be one big experience.

    Third, I do believe these lands can be themed after movies. Having a Star Wars land is a “no-brainer”. But just having one fiend land does that seem to balance out the park. They need to have two more major experiences for people to go to fourth Park. This is where I believe that marble can step in and a superheroes area of the park with fit perfectly if they wanted a third scene they could also do a Muppet area for the smaller kids. Would this be left Disney? Yes, I do believe it would be less Disney so you would need to have at least one or two really solid Disney themes in the park. The difference would be that instead of Disneyland where you experience just one movie experience per attraction you have a whole area in which you’re immersed in the movie itself. a Tangled area would certainly be a wonderful theme with a tower and of course the wonderful hub with singing and food I think would be a big hit. It would make up for the stupid bathrooms they put at Magic Kingdom.

  • David Hollenbeck

    I’m surprised that this hasn’t come up before (that I’ve seen and I admit to not looking too hard, but really, I’m just talking about this thread), but do you really want to see what Disney would do with Marvel, but are frustrated by the legal maneuverings that block it? There is an answer. Do you want a world rich in potential and limitless in its storyline so that E-ticket super-coaster fit in it as easily as A-C ticket rides? Pass through the gates of DHS and run past TSM to Pixar Place’s newest, most immersive, thoroughly unique to WDW land – The Incrediville, featuring the big new coaster on the newly formed Nomanisan Island.

    Is the Incredibles a bigger franchise than Potter? No, but if they make killer rides there, it would definitely hold its own. Have that plus a great Star Wars land and DHS will be THE place to go.

    Just for the record, I think there would be no problem at all with young people being out of touch with Star Wars, there is just so much for the younger set in the TV shows, LEGO and online stuff that would pretty much cast those worries aside. I will grant that there is a bit of a sandwich generation that was between the original release of the films and the newer stuff that maybe saw the prequels and thought “What’s the big deal?” or something similar, but many, many young boys are still fans of Star Wars. Is it A1 on their interest list? Not necessarily, but it’s still big.

    Also, I’ll save my venting for another time, but I thought Cars and Cars 2 were both awesome and I was among those that was thrilled when I heard they were making a Carsland in DCA. I wasn’t asking for it, but I didn’t ask for Tower of Terror either, and that was fantastic, so please don’t think that everyone was just blase about it and pleasantly surprised when it did well, Cars does have fans that aren’t redneck crazy NASCAR-fan yahoos, though I admit that with the right level of beard growth, change of shirt and a beer in my hand, I’d be undetectable among tailgaters at a race. 😉

    Dave

  • MickeySmurfette24

    Sure, No!

    I would rather put Wreck-It Ralph Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, instead!

  • Uncle Bob

    I agree with a lot of the article, but the decision isn’t surprising. It’s been pretty obvious for several years now that Disney consider’s WDW and DL completely separate markets. In many ways they probably are, so in that sense this plan makes sense. But I really don’t think it’s actually going to drive attendance in nearly the way they think. My sense is that it will be a much more modest increase in visitation for a number of reasons.

    Some of the DCA success was due to the overall long period of marketing of the DCA renovation and increasing positive word of mouth for several years. This quick addition of a copy of a single land within the context of a much smaller overall project just isn’t going to generate the same kind of interest and buzz. I also think that there’s so many relatively local people to visit DLR that there’s a lot of people who can rush to check out the big new thing. WDW trips tend to be more expensive for a lot of people and I don’t think it’s going to immediately increase overall visitation nearly as much as at DLR. It will shift more guests to DHS certainly, but I don’t think it’s going to be as big of a game changer the second time. I also think that a lot of big spending hardcore Disney fans and hardcore Cars fans have already seen Cars Land. I could be overestimating that impact as there are certainly many on the East Coast who haven’t seen it; But I’m betting many of the biggest spenders already have been to it.

  • DavidCH

    At some point you simply have to accept the fact that each of the various Disney sites cater to specific regions in general and that just because a Disney fan is inclined to visit multiple sites and expect a different experience, the average person and family is most likely only going to visit one site and site only. I live in Orlando and would never have visited DL if I hadn’t found myself living in San Diego for three months. Why should I have been denied the experience of Indy simply for the argument that each site should be unique? You make the argument for uniqueness, but I suggest that the argument should made in defense of those families that will never visit any other site. Why should a middle income family of four be denied the experiences in Tokyo Disneyland simple for the sake of Tokyo Disneyland being unique? I would love to see the Journey to Center of the Earth ride, but I simply can’t afford the time and money necessary to travel half way around the world for it. I’d have to look at it, but one must ask the question just how much did Magic Kingdom differ from Disneyland when it opened in ’71. Would you go back I’m time and yank out Space Mountain from DL and subsequently DLP and DLHK for sake of making each site unique? How many visitors to each of those park have enjoyed that attraction? Would you deny a child a carousel simply because a previously built park already had one? All that aside, there is also the simple financial reality that in this day and age Disney builds just enough to amaze and not a bit more. By designing an attraction for multiple parks, theoretically the attraction can be more amazing than if it were designed for just a single park as the cost of the wow! factor can be spread across the various sites.

    • David,

      Why can’t the sites be of the same quality but have different offerings? Isn’t that best for the company? Yes, certain people will only be able to see one quality offering while those that can travel more will see two. However, I would think Disney would want to encourage people to hit up as many of their resorts as possible, and homogenizing them isn’t the way to do that.

  • DavidCH

    Posted from my iPad forgive the errors.

  • DG2

    Disney spend billions on the Star Wars franchise. What a perfect time to take the car is land radiator Springs racers technology and just apply it to a Star Wars themed race ride that would be perfect and would generate even more fans and cars land. Having said that I think the other posters were right that John Lasseter here is the brainchild behind cars land and if he wants it in Florida it’s going to be in Florida. Azasan like the others on this posting a really really should make it all star wars that would be huge and much much bigger than Harry Potter !!!

  • DG2

    Sorry for typos. Was voice texting on iPhone.

  • horizonsfan

    I’m really excited to go to Cars Land in California Adventure, but one of the main reasons is that’s a new area in a park that I’ve only visited once. I’m right with you on the idea of duplicating it at the Hollywood Studios. There are so many possibilities from Star Wars and Pixar that just matching their success in California is the lazy approach. While it will likely grow attendance, it’s not going to be the game changer they expect. The solution comes from building new attractions that make DHS a destination, not just a half-day park to visit when you’re taking a break from the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT.

  • Big D

    I’d like to see them really change the concept of the park, to where it is different movie themed lands like Star Wars land, or Pixar Land. Then, they could put Avatar Land here instead of Animal Kingdom, and it wouldn’t feel so forced. I wouldn’t be interested in a Muppets Land, but if kids are going to like it, then bring on Muppets Land too. I don’t know how long it would take Disney to be allowed to build a Marvel Land, but I’m sure that eventually they’ll figure out a way. They can keep a Hollywood Land with Tower and Rockin and still keep one land with the concept of the Hollywood that never was and always will be, but overall that theme is just not enough for a whole theme park without becoming Universal Studios. As much as I like the concept of the Great Movie Ride, I think that needs to go as well, because Disney has proven that they’re not willing to spend the money to keep that ride current. If they did all of that, then I’d even be willing to let them keep the hat.

  • forevermercy

    While I agree with some points of your article, I think bringing Cars Land to FL is a fantastic idea!

    Is it the right fit in DHS? Mmmmaybe not. But where else would they put it? And most of us who frequent parts are less concerned with how well a park flows as opposed to how much it attracts.
    Putting Sesame Street in Busch Gardens Florida left many scratching there heads but who cares! My kids love it and it makes me want to buy tickets! Cars Land would do more than that for DHS.

    But I completely agree that it should have been a simultaneous build with DCA, AND that there should be some variation and not a complete clone. People are attracted to the Cars concept and having that integrated more into the parks. So adding twist and variety to the DCA version of Cars Land is not only smart but almost necessary to keep patrons interested in both WDW and WDN.

    It seems in this article maybe Cars and the idea of Cars Land isn’t relevant to you, but it is for MANY quite possibly a majority out there! Personally, as a parent of a little boy the idea is thrilling! But even before my son was born, I was entirely bored with the constant princess parade and am excited to see a push to cater more towards little boys.

    Would it be interesting to see imagineers come up with something new? SURE! But if Cars Lands opens in Florida, guess what, WDW has won a good chunk of mine and many Florida residents’ hard earned dineros. And THAT is thier REAL bread and butter, my friends.

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