Magic Kingdom Moat filled and Mine Train Prepares for Soft Opening

Written by Cory Disbrow. Posted in Dateline Disney World, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

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Published on April 16, 2014 at 3:00 am with 102 Comments

About Cory Disbrow

Cory likes Walt Disney World so much, he recently packed his bags and moved to Orlando. Cory is a photographer and writes MiceChat's Dateline Disney World columns every Friday.

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  • CaptainAction

    Wow, slow down there WDW or you’re gonna pull a muscle.

    Soft openings already for the Dwarf Coaster?!?

    Why don’t you guys take a break, leave the fence up another month or two, and make certain you don’t want to move a shrub or two around?

    Your lightspeed attraction building is truly mind boggling.

    • solarnole

      It’s so authentic that only 7 singing dwarfs were used to build it that’s why it took 5 years to finish.

      • CaptainAction

        Funny stuff here – like it!

    • mainejeff

      I was young when they started building this attraction.

      • CaptainAction

        Yes, gave us time to grow up and meet the hieght requirement

      • solarnole

        “Walt loved the circus and was constantly trying to install one in Disneyland”

        That is just pure spin Walt got most of what he wanted installed in his theme park. He could build a Swiss mountain and a sub lagoon but not a circus. I guess I’m just not drinking enough cool aid to believe that a Disney park was designed to look like a tacky circus with clowns. Sorry but I have higher expectations especially for the market leader.

        Cory I’m going to suggest that you watch Dumbo and tell me where the fab five characters are in it and why they are forced to live in a dirty circus tent. At least in town toon they had houses. It’s not great theming it’s forcing a cheap theme on an area to reuse old tents from toon town fair.

        Look at the Harry Potter Castle and the Beasts Castle side by side. What really ticked me off about new fanastyland is how they added their faces to the angels on the ceiling and made a huge painting of the CEO of magic kingdom. That’s just arrogant and has nothing at all to do with the movies.

        I really hope that the pencil pushers can make a Frozen ride faster then they did for the little mermaid sorry but two decades is way too long. If Disney went screen based it could be updated and changed more quickly.

        Its only Disney fanatics that are excited about a restaurant, a 30 second roller coaster and new bathrooms. Sorry but to me a theme park exists to go on rides not to go on a themed toilet. Disney used to be the market leader with new thrill ride systems like Twilight Zone but at least Universal took up the torch.

    • BradyNBradleysMom

      I know it’s popular to rag on Disney for this taking a while to build, but let’s be fair: they never promised this would be done sooner and they built it according to their time schedule, not the schedule us fans would like.

      They planned this construction project to take X-amount of time and that’s what they budgeted it for. Sure they could have built it in a year and a half (probably at twice the cost). I know superfans wanted that, but that wasn’t what Disney and its shareholders wanted.

      It’s a business, and businesses plan their budgets with what’s best for them. It appears that Disney wanted the Dwarves coaster to be new for 2014 to give people something to come back and visit that is new this year. That appears to be the thinking behind the staggered opening of New Fantasyland, where something new debuted every six months or so. The Dwarves coaster is the first new thing since the Princess Fairy Tale Hall and it will be something Disney has to offer right before the new Harry Potter stuff opens at Universal. People coming to see Potter will also by and large come to Magic Kingdom to see the Dwarves coaster. That was Disney’s thinking.

      Whether superfans like it or not, this is just the reality. Disney had no pressing need to build this fast, so they staggered it out and planned it to open for summer 2014. Just repeating the same, tired old indictments of that is boring at this point.

      • TodAZ1

        Seeing Disney, of all companies out there, taking THAT long to build a roller coaster is the sad thing to take note of, Brad. Sorry.

        Now, they’ve put themselves into the position of further scrutiny and criticism if the coaster doesn’t live up to expectations.

      • solarnole

        Are you paid by Disney?

        For how much this business raises prices on tickets, parking and food each year I think that so called super fans have a right to rag on them for taking almost half a decade to build a kids roller coaster.

        Disney is not your local zoo they charge $100 to get in and $17 to park. All your post says to me is that Disney does not care at all about its customers but we can’t be upset because it’s a business and we are all just crazy super fans that expect more for our money.

        They can build a 1000 room time share in less then four years like Bay Lake but don’t have the budget to build a 30 second family coaster in two years.

        Universal is like an upstart Apple challenging a slow cheap out of touch Microsoft in Disney.

        Disney needs to unfreeze Walt to fix this Mickey Mouse operation.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        Solarnole, despite Apple’s success with the iPhone, the iPad and general perceptions of better products, they never held a candle to Microsoft with regards to personal computer market share. I’m not saying that Disney should follow Microsoft’s example, but they shouldn’t be following Apple’s model, either, especially if theirs is based on continued visitation and not premium pricing for less market share.

        Everyone else, it’s plainly obvious that Disney has spent this long on the coaster in order to time the opening with Harry Potter 2.0 over at Universal. That way, Disney can steal some PR thunder, fly in captive journalists to the resort for favorable publicity, churn their contacts at Gannett and the Travel Channel to get heavy rotation coverage and “inside the magic” specials and so on and so forth. As a theme park fan, it sucks. As an effective marketing wedge against HP2.0, it’s pretty brilliant.

      • CaptainAction

        Aaronius, it is not brilliant to hold a kiddie coaster, c ticket attraction, which is about 50 seconds long up against the most immersive themed LAND in USA with never before experienced technology tied to Harry Potter.
        This is sad.
        Not brilliant marketing.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        CaptainAction,

        You AGAIN miss the point. Disney is opening the Dwarf Coaster to draw attention away from Harry Potter Land. They will, no doubt, pull out all the stops, as they did with the half-finished New Fantasyland opening two years ago. Whether or not it’s a worthy competitor to the entirely new Harry Potter Land opening over at Universal (it’s not,) that’s not the story they have to tell the public. To the public, they’ll tout the “final centerpiece in the Magic Kingdom’s largest expansion in its history.”

        They play their spin on captive, eager journalists, all put up at their most expensive Deluxe Resorts, all wined and dined to placid, non-critical reporting, all eager to spread the good news about the Dwarf Coaster. (This practice is well documented in Carl Hiassen’s brilliant screed against Team Rodent, incidentally.)

        No doubt, they already have travel themed videos and specials about the attraction, for web and television use, designed to play on the heritage of the Snow White & The Seven Dwarves brand, designed to play up the new animatronic tech, designed to showcase how complete and awesome a day at the Magic Kingdom is with this latest addition.

        By delaying the opening of the Dwarf Coaster as they did, they have something to sell, something to put out there in the marketplace and the media to, at the very least, detract from the opening of the second Harry Potter Land at Universal. Without it, they have nothing.

        Does it remotely “compete” with an entirely new land at Universal (or, more specifically, the closure of one land and the replacement with Harry Potter?) No, of course not. But, we’re theme park geeks. We’re not Mom & Joe Public. Will Disney’s team of brilliant marketers whip this relatively minor opening into a giant media storm and command attention, detracting somewhat from the opening of Harry Potter 2.0 up the street? Absolutely, they will. And from a marketing perspective, it’s brilliant in both its timing and its cynicism.

        You have to stop confusing good theme park design and construction with good marketing practices. For better or worse (arguably, for worse as far as infrastructure development is concerned,) Disney is the best in the business (arguably, ANY BUSINESS,) at the marketing side of the equation.

      • solarnole

        Disney delayed avatar land, beastly kingdom, Star Wars land, cars land and multiple other attractions so that they can market against a much smaller less profitable rival. That makes perfect business sense. Not investing in a business for decades is also a great plan.

        The old Disney that had a larger market share at least would compete. They opened Living Seas after Sea World came, MGM/Hollywood when Universal came, and Animal Kingdom against Islands of Adventure.

        Apple is worth almost double Microsoft and makes products that people actually want and is one of the top rated brands in the world. I don’t think they care about the PC market.

        When a business is lazy, greedy, and arrogant it will catch up to them and it’s customers will notice. I have with Disney

      • AaroniusPolonius

        “When a business is lazy, greedy, and arrogant it will catch up to them and it’s customers will notice. I have with Disney”

        And yet, it hasn’t caught up with them to date. As of their last quarterly report, they (a) reported record attendance at Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disney and Hong Kong Disneyland and (b) that they were making more than a billion dollars a month from their theme parks worldwide, and more than $600 million in profits during that quarter as well.

        “Disney delayed avatar land, beastly kingdom, Star Wars land, cars land and multiple other attractions so that they can market against a much smaller less profitable rival. That makes perfect business sense. Not investing in a business for decades is also a great plan.”

        And yet, people still keep going, in record numbers. We need to ask WHY they are going instead of WHY don’t they stop going or WHY don’t they see the lack of investment as a disincentive for them not going. Because them basically doing nothing has resulted in more profits and more attendance. One can even look at the slight 0.03-0.05 percent drops in attendance at DCA and Disneyland as ‘proof’ that investment doesn’t necessarily drive attendance.

        To put this another way, you wishing that everybody would see the lack of investment at Disney in the same way that you do does nothing to change the conversation. Clearly, Disney is doing something right, as they are breaking records and making more than a billion dollars a month at their crappy little theme parks that “everybody hates.”

        Ask WHY.

        “The old Disney that had a larger market share at least would compete. They opened Living Seas after Sea World came, MGM/Hollywood when Universal came, and Animal Kingdom against Islands of Adventure.”

        …and, if I recall correctly, ALL of those moves were critiqued by theme park geeks as derivative. Which is to say that the vaunted Disney shouldn’t be opening their versions of SeaWorld, Universal Studios or Busch Gardens, but should rather be opening something new and fresh and uniquely Disney. Haterz gonna hate, apparently.

        And, indeed, one can look at New Fantasyland as something uniquely crafted for the Disney audience: family-friendly, fun for young ages, princess focused, etc. It’s probably the most uniquely “Disney” offering they’ve made in Florida in YEARS. (Certainly the most thematically complete.) And yet, haterz gonna hate.

        My one critique with regards to New Fantasyland is that I feel that it is missing that one big “Mountain” of a ride, like a Maleficent Mountain of sorts. But, as a whole, it’s a vast, VAST improvement over what was there before and what they’ve done in the recent past.

        “Apple is worth almost double Microsoft and makes products that people actually want and is one of the top rated brands in the world. I don’t think they care about the PC market.”

        Well, that’s in part due to recent historic successes with the iPod, iPhone and iPad, all of which are suffering in sales due to increased competition from other companies. Prior to that moment, Apple had to rely on being the premium PC manufacturer, carving out about 3% of total sales in that market to people who really wanted to drive a Lambo versus a Toyota at their desk. They may well be on their way back to that place again (due to fierce competition from all sides, including and especially Microsoft.)

        Don’t get me wrong: people will always love Apple and idiotically stand outside in the rain for the latest iPadPhonePodMac. (I’m responding on an iMac presently.) But they may not always have the market share that they do at present (see: Apple’s own history, post Windows.)

      • Cory Gross

        “And yet, people still keep going, in record numbers. We need to ask WHY they are going instead of WHY don’t they stop going or WHY don’t they see the lack of investment as a disincentive for them not going. Because them basically doing nothing has resulted in more profits and more attendance. One can even look at the slight 0.03-0.05 percent drops in attendance at DCA and Disneyland as ‘proof’ that investment doesn’t necessarily drive attendance.

        Ask WHY.”

        If I can venture a guess based on my own personal reflections… The simplest answer to this question is that IT’S DISNEY.

        I think people who look at it simply in technical terms – how high, how fast, how new, etc. – completely underestimate the appeal that Disney has. Disney isn’t about riding the newest hottest thrill ride simulator. Disney is about Disney. Disney sells Disney. Disney’s product is Disney.

        Sure, Universal can build some reportedly amazing rides based on Transformers and Spiderman, but so what? I don’t care about Transformers, or Spiderman, or how innovative the ride is. When my fiancee and I take our honeymoon in WDW in September, we’re planning on a day at Universal for exactly TWO reasons: she loves Harry Potter and I love Jurassic Park. I mean, I like Harry Potter too, but that wouldn’t be enough to get me to go to Universal if I wasn’t already going to WDW. And while we’re there we might as well ride The Simpsons ride and the Dudley Do-Right one, since I also love Rocky and Bullwinkle, but “might as well” is a far cry from UNIVERSAL RULES, WDW DROOLS!!!

        Despite how fanatics are complaining about the Seven Dwarfs coaster, I actually am looking forward to it. Why? Because I love Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. A kiddie coaster with brilliant theming and crazily on-model animatronics is just my speed, thanks. My fiancee loves Beauty and the Beast, so she seriously is looking forward to the restaurant. We also love Peter Pan, and Little Mermaid, and Dumbo, and Alice in Wonderland. Sure there are attractions we love too, but not really because the Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, or Enchanted Tiki Room are wicked E-Tickets. We love them because they’re so iconically Disney.

        I don’t care about Avatar, so I’m pretty cold on any news about that. Nor am I slavering about Expedition Everest, though I will certainly ride it. What I most want to see at Animal Kingdom are the animals, because animals are awesome. I do want to ride the Dinosaur ride, because dinosaurs are even awesomer. Neither one of us really cares a whole lot about EPCOT… We only have a half-day planned for it. Almost none of the attractions appeal to us thematically, and we’ve actually been to half the countries in World Showcase. Hollywood Studios has some things we want to check out, but we’re not going too goo-goo-eyes over that one either, after having been to the real Hollywood.

        I’ve also been to Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disney. Besides Pirates of the Caribbean, my favourite attractions in Paris were all walkthroughs: the Nautilus, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, Adventure Isle and Alice’s Curious Labyrinth. Tokyo has my two favourite Disney attractions of all time: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth. I could care less about their ride mechanics though. I love them because Jules Verne is my favourite author.

        Anyways, my point is, the answer to “why?” is the connection that millions of people have to Disney. What exactly the rides do is secondary to how well they are Disney.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        Cory,

        First, thank you for genuinely positing a response, instead of going to pithy discourse that doesn’t move the needle.

        Second, your post kind of confirms the supreme power of the Disney Brand, does it not? It’s pretty astonishing how ingrained, iconic and pervasive it is.

        I’m pretty sure that Disney “gets” this connection, encourages it, and markets it holistically across all age groups. (Indeed, there was that “visit with everyone in your family” thing a few years back.) So, in many ways, there’s this cultural attraction to Disney that the competitors just don’t have (yet, if ever.)

        Which isn’t to say that Disney should get a free pass for their more cynical moves and their sometimes cheap pockets (although I think the overt fanwank drumming regarding New Fantasyland is ridonk: they spent a ton of cash to produce a fully thematic, integrated experience, answering every critique in one fell swoop.) But, perhaps it explains WHY they get the visitors and the cash and loyalty.

        People go to Universal to ride the awesome new Harry Potter rides, or be a Transformer, or drink at Moe’s.

        They go to Disney to live the brand that is Disney, and that overall experience trumps an impressive collection of franchises up the street.

        Ain’t fair. Doesn’t make a whit of logical sense. And yet, here we are.

      • solarnole

        Disney is a great brand but it still needs to keep up with the times and attract a younger audience. Little mermaid came out in 1989 and just got a ride. Universal has movies from the last several years.

        My parents would have never went to Universal on their own they went because their kids begged them to go because they wanted to go on rides that are relevant to them. After going they have gone back because the rides are a higher quality then Disney.

        Toon town sadly was much better then storybook circus plus the fab five characters will never feel right in a circus setting as it goes against what Walt was about with his parks.

        The quality has really dropped. Disney ripping off butter beer and the Harry Potter castle is just sad. I don’t remember giant gargoyle statues in front of beasts castle in the movie

        The whole expansion was focused on a 500 seat resturant and more bathrooms so that they can pack more people in. Now they are filling in gardens and water in front of the castle for cement. At this pace I would not be surprised if they start having shopping cart strollers.

        It’s turning into a less magical place which is sad and not good for business. My parents don’t even go anymore.

      • Cory Gross

        I find the anti-New Fantasyland fanwank especially weird when New Fantasyland is (please excuse the emphasis) EXACTLY THE REASON WHY WE ARE GOING TO WDW AT ALL.

        My fiancee and I have been to the resorts in Anaheim and Paris, and I’ve been to the one in Tokyo. Looking at the old WDW roster, it didn’t really appear to be offering anything unique that really made us want to visit. I already explained that we’re not super excited about EPCOT or Hollywood Studios, and after three other Disneylands under my belt, Magic Kingdom didn’t offer much else. I figured if I ever went I’d want to stay at Wilderness Lodge because I love the romance of the golden age in the National Parks, but I might as well just drive a couple hours to Glacier or Yellowstone (my fiancee vetoed staying there on the same grounds… “It’s just like here”). Personally, them taking out 20,000 Leagues pretty much killed my interest, since that was the only unique thing that I REALLY wanted to see.

        But then they built New Fantasyland, which looks AWESOME. Not awesome in the sense that it has 15 new E-Ticket attractions, but awesome in the sense that Fantasylands are emotionally (even spiritually) our favourite land and to have a huge, expanded, beautifully themed one is an attractive propostion. Furthermore, Beauty and the Beast is my fiancee’s favourite Disney film, so Be Our Guest and Enchanted Tales with Belle legitimately ARE reasons for us to go. By themselves maybe not, but they certainly tip the scale by offering something at WDW that interests us that we can’t find at another Disney park. For the price it costs us to go to WDW, we could easily go to Paris or Tokyo again, which have the benefit of being Paris and Tokyo. Or we could save a few thousand dollars and go to Disneyland USA again, which has the benefit of being THE Disneyland, the original, where Walt himself trod, ground zero of the Disney brand experience.

        I’m sure somebody will snipe and complain that I’m part of the problem, but I totally want to eat at Be Our Guest and ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and see the queue for Little Mermaid. They’re all connected with the Disney brand experience that we are attached to. To me, the biggest POINT of a Disney park is to be able to enter into the world of those films. Sure, I love Mysterious Island because of 20,000 Leagues and Journey to the Center of the Earth, but it’s not simply the sum of those parts. I love it because I love Jules Verne and that space allows me to enter his world (albeit through the lens of Disney).

        Some time ago, on my Victorian Sci-Fi blog, I wrote about the confusion some people have between form and content in a Disney park (http://voyagesextraordinaires.blogspot.ca/2009/02/form-and-content-in-disneyland.html). I think here we see a perfect case. People complaining about the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train seem to think that its CONTENT is a kiddie coaster and its FORM is the Snow White theme. That is 180 degrees off. The FORM is a kiddie coaster, and the CONTENT is the opportunity to enter the world of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs aboard a runaway mine cart. This is also why I don’t get a lot of the Universal and Six Flags type rides, because they have no content. Sticking a plywood cut out of The Hulk or something on a rollercoaster doesn’t make it anything more than a rollercoaster, and not only don’t I care about rollercoasters, but I actively DISLIKE rollercoasters unless there’s an extenuating reason for me to go on them… Like, say, a Snow White theme.

        Universal has potential, but I don’t think they know what to do with it. The complaint that Little Mermaid came out in 1989 is totally off, because if you have something that old and that fondly remembered, it becomes a timeless classic. Harry Potter will stand that test of time, but Transformers? Meh, I would be surprised if that lasts any longer than Back to the Future or Terminator 2 3-D. The best thing Universal has going for it are the classic monsters from 80 years ago… You can’t buy icons like Dracula, Frankenstein and his Bride, The Wolfman, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, but they don’t know what to do with them. There should have been a “monsters island” at IOA right when it first opened.

        “plus the fab five characters will never feel right in a circus setting as it goes against what Walt was about with his parks.”

        Didn’t we already have a conversation about this solarnole? Walt loved the circus and was constantly trying to install one in Disneyland until he got the hint that people didn’t go to Disneyland for something they could see in their own towns once or twice a year. I think Storybook Circus is a perfect fit, and Dumbo the Flying Elephant is ALREADY our traditional “last ride” of a vacation.

        “I don’t remember giant gargoyle statues in front of beasts castle in the movie”

        The ones on the bridge are from the scene when Maurice first enters the castle. The lions are in the scene where Gaston and the villagers are going to break down the door to Beast’s castle.

        I’m going to suggest that if you don’t even remember Beauty and the Beast and can’t pick up on those visual quotes, that might explain why you’re so nonplussed by those additions. You don’t have a connection to them the same way someone like my fiancee does.

      • solarnole

        solarnole
        April 18, 2014 at 9:27 pm

        “Walt loved the circus and was constantly trying to install one in Disneyland”

        That is just pure spin Walt got most of what he wanted installed in his theme park. He could build a Swiss mountain and a sub lagoon but not a circus. I guess I’m just not drinking enough magic cool aid to believe that a Disney park was designed to look like a tacky circus with creepy clowns. Sorry but I have higher expectations especially for the market leader.

        Cory I’m going to suggest that you watch Dumbo and tell me where the fab five characters are in it and why they are forced to live in a dirty circus tent working jobs that they have never had. At least in town toon they had houses. It’s not great theming it’s forcing a cheap theme on an area to reuse old tents from toon town fair. Dumbo used to fly by a castle now he flys by a go cart track and train tracks it’s less magical now.

        Look at the Harry Potter Castle and the Beasts Castle side by side. What really ticked me off about new fanastyland is how they added their faces to the angels on the ceiling and made a huge painting of the CEO of magic kingdom. That’s just arrogant and has nothing at all to do with the movies. At least at Universal they pay attention to detail and don’t plaster their faces all over the themed area.

        I really hope that the pencil pushers can make a Frozen ride faster then they did for the little mermaid sorry but two decades is way too long even for a classic. The people want it.

        Its only Disney fanatics that are excited about a restaurant, a 30 second roller coaster, nemo clone and new bathrooms. Sorry but to me a theme park exists to go on amazing rides not to go on a themed toilet. Disney used to be the market leader with new thrill ride systems like Twilight Zone but at least Universal took up the torch.

        Disney fans should thank Universal because new fantasyland was only built because of Harry Potter and if people keep going Disney will build more themed areas and rides.

      • Kenny B

        Cory….

        So you like Harry Potter, but two themed lands, two E-ticket rides, and a themed train ride isn’t enough for a solo Uni visit?

        And you love Jules Vern, but don’t care about “ride mechanics”? So, the plastic cut outs of the Hulk– that would be enough for you to love the ride? Because content is king right? The ride doesn’t have to be good?—- You almost stated as long as you like the source material, the ride doesn’t matter to you.

        You have some pretty hardcore “I love Disney” values instilled in you my man. I agree, new fantasyland is neat, you say you want to see the Mermaid queue? What about the Forbidden Journey queue, or going for the castle tour? I’ve only seen a little footage, but the immersiveness of Harry Potterland looks fantastic, and it looks like Diagon Alley is going to be even better. Your going to be surrounded by tall buildings, a dragon that breathes fire that isn’t in a parade… and did you see the renderings for the multistory magic shop? It looks incredible.

        BTW, I like Disney more than Universal by a landslide…. But Universal is playing all the right cards currently, and to defend Disney so their shareholders make more money seems counter intuitive. Don’t you want new attractions more often then every 6 years?

    • MrsMonroe

      ahhhhh i see what you did there ;)

  • pianojohn

    My suggestion: replace the new popcorn cart with a replica of the red wagon that sells corn dogs from Disneyland. Every time I have gone there, there is ALWAYS a line. Popcorn can be purchased anywhere!

  • TOMCROSSMAN

    Thanks for another great article!!

    I wish they’d put the fake grass on Splash Mountain. It looks so much more organic, and more like the original SM renderings.

    Tom

  • tooncity

    I’m so pleased to see that they’ll have, the Dwarves Coater, open in time to celebrate its 5 year anniversary. Another triumph for budgets and planning; Congratulations Magic Kingdom.

  • chughes1683

    Do you think they’re only covering the Fast Pass signs with tarps because they’re not 100% confident in the new FastPass+ system and magic bands??? Seems logical to me as they are pretty quick about cosmetics at Disney (when compared to most companies in the world). It’ll be interesting to see if the old signs still have tarps on them when I get there in a couple of weeks.

    On a side note, I really like how the old system was. It rewarded those who got to their favorite attraction the fastest. Oh well, not all change is bad. Hopeful this new system works!

    • billyjobobb

      I was wondering the same thing. Is Disney holding on to the old signs and not removing them just in case the new system fails? What’s gonna happen this summer when everybody has to deal with the new system, and what if they hate it?

      • CaptainAction

        Maybe WDW is pulling a “Return of Classic Coke” ploy?

        Welcome back to the original, better, loved, Classic Fastpass!

        Make guests really appreciate it by throwing this Magic Handcuff at you and then pulling it?

        I think they spent too much money on this Handcuff for this to happen, but they should quit throwing good money after bad.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        I’m betting that they’re going to remove and/or repurpose those signs along the way.

        Y’all need to surrender the dream. FastPass “Classic” is gone. Disney has invested 1.5 billion dollars in My Magic+, which will give them an accurate, real-time track of in-resort consumer behavior, in real-time, for every open hour of the day. If that peeves a few guests off initially, or even in the long term, the gain that Disney-as-corporation will get from the system are unimaginable.

        I can’t stress that enough. I’m a professional marketer. To have THIS large of a captive consumer audience to measure, track and market to, with a wealth of real-time behavioral data to both use and manipulate, is practically the HOLY GRAIL of marketing. That’s why they invested in it; if they can sell the perception to their guests of a more personalized experience while drinking down all that holy grail marketing goodness, they’ll make HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS MORE A YEAR at Disney World, and BILLIONS if they roll it out worldwide.

        Again, none of this directly benefits the consumer. Sure, they’ll be “planning” benefits and “Disney Your Way” benefits immediately, with text and email blasts for “deals” and “experiences” as the system rolls out. But the primary purpose of MyMagic+ is to create this real-time marketing master tool.

        Now, should theme park fans be happy about it? Probably not. But y’all are crazy, crazy, crazy wishful thinkers to remotely think that (a) Disney will spend 1.5 billion on tech they don’t think will deliver and (b) that it won’t deliver. In the Magic Kingdom alone, if they can “direct” guests to “experiences” that will cause them to spend $10 more per day, they’ll make about $170 MILLION DOLLARS PER YEAR. They’ll pay off the system in less than ten years.

        Add in the other parks at roughly 10 million visitors a year. Each will make $100 MILLION A YEAR with $10 per day increased spending via real-time tracking directing guests to places and “experiences” where they are more likely to spend. In four meager years, MyMagic+ will have paid for itself.

      • CaptainAction

        Aaronius, I always thought good marketing attracted customers but I guess it should tick off your customer base, huh!?!
        Ever seen so many theme park thought leaders complaining about WDW’s Magic Handcuffs and lazy efforts?
        Ever seen so many folks on a Disney friendly website praising WDW’s competition?
        Ever seen Disneyland fans quaking in their boots praying that something from WDW (Magic Handcuffs) won’t come to California?
        Yes, marketing genius by WDW..I guess.
        So good marketing should repulse your customer base?
        Ok

      • billyjobobb

        that seems to be an awful lot of ifs there.

        How many companies dream of this kind of marketing? And how many have pulled it off? I think that’s why they left the old system. They know there is a real chance that this new dream just might crash and burn and they will need to be ready IMMEDIATELY to bring the old system back on line if one morning the whole thing goes belly up.

        Can you just imagine the peeved customers if the system crashes?

      • AaroniusPolonius

        CaptainAction,

        We are, AGAIN, not the base that Disney is catering to with MyMagic+.

        We are theme park geeks. We are not theme park “thought leaders.” Those people are working for the theme park industry.

        As for the praise for Disney’s competition, that’s been going on since Eisner/Pressler. This site has been, and should be, critical of Disney and its cheapness and cynicism.

        Yet, despite all of that, they gain attendance and visitation. They’ll get the “Magic Handcuffs” to work properly and they’ll garner additional revenue as well. Clearly, even without pleasing the theme park nerds and their supposed “base,” they’re doing something right, or at least something that induces people to go to Disney Parks versus the parks up the street.

        So, with that in mind, perhaps the correct mode of attack isn’t a sarcastic snarl against the woes of Disney (and there are many; see: Animal Kingdom, DHS, a third of Epcot.) Perhaps we should look at the WHY. Why is it that people, despite the “thought leader” defection, despite the geeks rallying against them on critical websites, despite major investments from rival companies, despite all of that…WHY are people still choosing to spend ample time and vast amounts of money at Walt Disney World? I mean, last year was yet another record revenue and attendance year for the Mouse.

        I’d be curious to know why. And…be careful! It can’t be as simple as “those people are idiots,” as anyone staying in a moderate resort or above is in a college-required profession. It can’t be as simple as “Universal isn’t promoting Potter/Simpsons/Transformers/Cabana Bay as well” because they’ve really stepped up their marketing game since Comcast/NBC/Universal all became one.

        I’m sure some of that has to do with history and heritage, something that the competition up the street just doesn’t have. I’m certain some of that has to do with familiarity and consistency, where one generally knows what one is going to get at a Disney park. And I’m certain that some of that has to do with marketing, and their brilliant multi-day ticket and resort room packaging.

        But, maybe there’s something else at work here as well. Because theme park geeks and “thought leaders” have been kvetching about Disney Parks since Eisner basically cut all budgets post-Euro Disney in the early 1990s. That’s twenty years of complaining about how much Disney sucks, and twenty years marked by higher attendance, spending and resort stays.

        I think the “something else” is the Disney Brand in and of itself. It’s one of those properties that inspire ardent, fervent fans, that (absurdly) rally to the defense of the Brand and its properties At All Costs. It’s that Brand Love that enables Team Rodent to put a turret on a toilet and call it a themed bathroom area. But, again, I think that’s only part of the story.

        The WHY is way more interesting, I think, than the theme park geeks howling “why not?” Because until we fully understand the WHY regarding Disney’s continued dominance and profit making, its just a bunch of people urinating in the wind. Sound and fury signifying nothing.

        “So good marketing should repulse your customer base?”

        Good marketing is clearly, plainly and obviously driving attendance to Disney Parks.

        “How many companies dream of this kind of marketing? And how many have pulled it off? I think that’s why they left the old system. They know there is a real chance that this new dream just might crash and burn and they will need to be ready IMMEDIATELY to bring the old system back on line if one morning the whole thing goes belly up.”

        Well, dropping back in the old system wouldn’t be expensive or hard at all, as it’s basically late-nineties tech we’re talking about here. However, the Magic Bands are quite a bit like your room key on a cruise ship, where they have the ability to track your movements based on dining room choice, purchases and so on (at least while on the boat.) I suspect the genesis of the technology came from the Disney Cruise Line experience.

        And yes, I’ll concede that there are a lot of ifs there. But I also think that there’s a lot of money behind this, and really, the returns from both a revenue generation aspect and a data farming aspect are too vast and too remarkable to pass up, I’d suspect.

        To put this another way, let’s say they have kinks and issues and annoyed guests for about a year. That stinks. And then next year they have a wealth of data regarding real-time consumer behavior at every hour of the day, every day of the week, every month of the year at their theme parks in Florida. They put that data to good use, and make another $10 off each guest each day, or another $470 million a year. They begin to quant and filter the data even more finely, which translates to “personalization” for the guests and “microtargeting” for the corporation.

        Again, it’s the HOLY GRAIL. You have to, at the very least, give them props for going after the HOLY GRAIL. I mean, this is like Delta Air Lines giving you a band that tracks your movements and purchases in the Atlanta airport. Only you’re at the airport all day, and you’re already primed to spend. HOLY GRAIL, guys.

      • billyjobobb

        again, though, the corporate world is littered with companies that took their customers for granted and instead of giving them a reason to come to their business, chose to try and increase the profits they made off their customers.

        These kinds of mistakes often take years to play out and by the time the company figures out what happened, it already happened and is something that will be difficult to recover from. The effect of most corporate mistakes show themselves years after the mistake.

        I’d bet that companies like Sears and JC Penneys thought they could take their customers for granted at one time too. Both are circling the drain. How many great, iconic corporations no longer exist? Have you been to a Woolworth’s lately? How about Montgomery Ward’s? The theme park market is changing and instead of concerning themselves with the new expectations, Disney is more concerned with figuring out how to make a Disney trip even more expensive than it already is.

      • CaptainAction

        Aaronius, You say they squeeze $10 out of a guest a day.
        I just don’t agree with that but say it’s accurate.
        Have you seen all the comments just here on Micechat where folks who loved WDW have decided not to keep their vacations at WDW or have at least postponed?
        Figure someone cancels a WDW vacation at a value of $5K. That just wiped out a lot of guests $10/day (which, again I don’t agree with).
        WDW has missed 2 vacations a year from our family of 5 for 3 years now. We were in some of the first groups to have felt ignored by WDW and to take our 2 vacations a year elsewhere.
        I think you are way too early to pronounce success of the Magic Handcuffs. If they don’t change them in a major way, I think it will have very negative effects over the years.
        We here are theme park thought leaders in our communities. I spend time on the phone with many families every year who have been refered to me by folks I haven’t even met live who I’ve helped plan vacations for. The circle grows larger every year. I’m explaining the Handcuff and Universal (if their children are tall enough) and they are choosing Universal.
        I’m sure that I’m not alone on this site as the one folks look to for help planning a theme park vacation.
        These are very real danger signs for any corporation. No company is above this and many giant companies have taken serious hits for ignoring customers desires for their own.
        Way too early to pronounce anything here as genius.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        “again, though, the corporate world is littered with companies that took their customers for granted and instead of giving them a reason to come to their business, chose to try and increase the profits they made off their customers.”

        BillyJoeBobb, in the first place, it took a loooooooong time for the companies you quote to crumble under the weight of their activities.

        In the next, Disney is positioning this as an invaluable tool to unlock your magic during your vacation to Disney World. And truly, from the front end of the tech, that’s what it will present itself to be. It may work fabulously, as well! All those people who buy the planning books and reserve restaurants months before arriving will LOVE this tech. Kids who like to glam up bracelets and interact with their environment will LOVE this. Much like an effective website, the front end here is all about you, the consumer. The back end is all about them, the corporation.

        Finally, while I wish they would have spent the cash on stuff to do instead of tech to make the stuff to do more granular to access, if they get it right, they’ll really be dramatically, astonishingly ahead of the curve, drinking from the HOLY GRAIL for ear’s sake. They’ll have tech that is entirely up to speed with their visiting audience, their wants, needs and desires.

        “The theme park market is changing and instead of concerning themselves with the new expectations, Disney is more concerned with figuring out how to make a Disney trip even more expensive than it already is.”

        I think that’s a gross oversimplification of what Disney is trying to do with My Magic+, although no doubt, increasing guest spending is baked into the mission statement. I think that the consumer data gathered in real time from every guest, at every hour, of every day, during every month, of every year, will obviously enable them to make more money, but will also set up Disney to know in a really specific, detailed and astonishing manner, how to meet the expectations of their guests depending on income, family group, ride preference, hell, sexual orientation the first week of June, and so on. What’s more, they’ll know how those expectations change from hour to hour, season to season and so on.

        IF they pull this off, My Magic+ has waaaaaaaaaaaaaay more potential to be a game changing experience for both the guests and the corporation than any awesome ride does. Not that I don’t want awesome rides, but this has the potential to be really, really, really big, paradigm altering stuff, and I think that’s being lost in the pithy “Magic Handcuffs” critiques dismissing it. (I also think that it has the potential to be really, really, really scary and invasive, especially if the other massive companies see the advantage that Disney hath wrought from their real-time behavioral data mine.)

        But, as you say…that’s IF they pull it off. Considering that they’ve dropped the equivalent of a fifth theme park’s worth of money into the effort, I’d say that Disney is super serious about pulling it off. Because it’s a game changer.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        “Have you seen all the comments just here on Micechat where folks who loved WDW have decided not to keep their vacations at WDW or have at least postponed?”

        CaptainAction, have you ever met anecdotal evidence that you didn’t cite? It ain’t evidence.

        Here’s evidence: last quarter, Disney World posted record visitors and the Disney Parks posted record profits. Magic Handcuffs, as you say, isn’t going to remotely detract the mass market, upper middle class, long term visitor that Disney is looking to grab.

    • Kenny B

      Guys, Micechat is not giving the whole story.

      They already added, or are about to add that there will no longer be a minimum of three a day, after you use your three fast passes you will be able to get more.

      And also Disney is working on park hopping fast passes.

      I haven’t used the system yet, but it seems to favor locals more so then on site guests. You can plan three rides with minimal wait the day before your visit and have a great four hour day.

      Rome wasn’t built in a day.

  • Skimbob

    Great update. Thanks for the latest.

  • blondiemouse72

    Looking good.2 weeks at Wilderness Lodge in September can’t come soon enough

  • tofubeast

    Beautiful photographs, Cory. So happy to see the water back in the moat. Main Street and the Castle look sharp! Excited to be back there in a few weeks to see it all myself. MK is looking great!

  • Fukai

    I believe it took the same amount of time to build both Cars Land and Buena Vista Street at DCA as it has taken these chuckleheads to build this stupid coaster. God forbid they should actually build some of the more complex rides from the Tokyo Disney Resort here in the US. It would take them 10 years.

    • CaptainAction

      Avatar 2022!

      • solarnole

        They are holding off on Avatar land so that they can market against the indoor bumper car track that Fun Spot is building. It’s smart business

      • AaroniusPolonius

        SolarNole, if Disney thought that FunSpot’s indoor bumper cars would attract premium theme park bucks, you can bet a dwarf that Disney would hold off on their ride opening to command some of the attention.

        You can totally diss Disney for not investing enough in rides, but in terms of business acumen, marketing and timing with regards to the prior? They are geniuses. They’re lessons unto themselves in marketing classrooms around the world. Chapters in books (like No Logo by Naomi Klein, for example.) They do this the best. End Stop.

      • CaptainAction

        That’s funny stuff solarnole!

  • Ravjay12

    I wish I was excited about Gadget’s Go-coaster 2.0, but I’m just not. Took way too long. Expedition Everest was built in less time. Should’ve built the Princess meet and greets…They expect people to flock to this thing?

    • Cory Gross

      My fiancee and I were holding off on visiting WDW until after it was done, so I guess the answer to your question is “yes.” Okay, maybe “flock” is a strong word, but I actually am interested in this attraction, because I can appreciate what it IS rather than be embittered by what it isn’t.

      • CaptainAction

        I think WDW should put your last sentence on a billboard advertising the Dwarf Coaster.” Be interested in the Dwarf Coaster rather than embittered by what it isn’t”. Dwarf Mound Coaster 2014

      • AaroniusPolonius

        Considering that visitation is up at Disney World, I suspect the “embittered” guests and fans are not exactly leaving the park.

        And seriously; harping on Disney taking forever to build this is immaturely looking at the situation. Disney could have EASILY finished this coaster a year or two ago. They CHOSE to meter out the construction in order to have “new ride” news in order to deflect attention away from Harry Potter 2.0. Not good for theme park fans, but probably great for Disney-as-company.

      • solarnole

        If you were holding out until Magic Kingdom opened a new E ticket ride you are still waiting the as last one Splash mountain opened in 1992.

        Disney delayed Beastly kingdom and Avatar land multiple times in order to have an attraction ready for 2022 to take press away from Universal because that’s what a market leader has to do to compete with a smaller rival…

        In 2014 people are not stupid they have the internet and they can easily call out a company that is ripping off its customers. There is no excuse for the Mickey Mouse way they are running WDW.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        “If you were holding out until Magic Kingdom opened a new E ticket ride you are still waiting the as last one Splash mountain opened in 1992.”

        Yeah, that totally sucks. Totally agree.

        “Disney delayed Beastly kingdom and Avatar land multiple times in order to have an attraction ready for 2022 to take press away from Universal because that’s what a market leader has to do to compete with a smaller rival…”

        Well, Disney CANCELLED Beastly Kingdom outright and never intended to build it, especially after the designers it fired went to Islands of Adventure and opened up Dueling Dragons, etc.

        And yes, that’s EXACTLY what THIS market leader is doing with regards to Universal. Whether you like it or not, it’s irrelevant. Record attendance plus record profits. I don’t know why, but the mice are clearly doing something right to retain both market leadership and market profitability. They are counting a LOT of beans.

        “In 2014 people are not stupid they have the internet and they can easily call out a company that is ripping off its customers. There is no excuse for the Mickey Mouse way they are running WDW.”

        And yet, even with the internet, even with people expressing their voices against Disney, enough people are FOR a Disney vacation that they are setting attendance records and profits. Now, I’m a total cynic. I firmly believe one can never underestimate the stupidity of the American Public. (See: political party affiliations, people who watch Duck Dynasty or Honey Boo Boo.)

        So, there are enough stupid people out there that still go to Disney Parks in droves, driving record attendance and profit. Or enough people of average to smart intelligence joined with the stupid people going to Disney Parks in droves, en masse, in throngs. A gaggle of a google of tourists. You wishing that weren’t the case doesn’t make it so.

        Ask WHY. WHY, despite the lack of investment, is Disney still generating this much attendance and profit? WHY are people not fleeing Disney and their cynical, shameful lack of caring for their customers? Could it be that their overall customer base has a different perspective on Disney than theme park advocates? Could it be that the suits in charge know something about their audience that you don’t (the answer to that is obvious: yes, of course they do. Otherwise they’d be following your advice and spending billions on new rides and attractions to “compete” in a “contest” they’ve already “won” by a “landslide.”)

        (Incidentally, Disney also noted that it spent $540 million in infrastructure investments in that quarter, so they’re clearly investing in the parks, although, I suspect, not in the ways that please the theme park geeks here.)

      • Kenny B

        People won’t stop going to Disney because people like the comfort of stepping into Grandmas old house. It conjures up old memories that can only be lived at Disney. People like the familiarity of Disney. It’s like music, anything different or out of the ordinary is challenging to comprehend. And people don’t want to think at Disney, people want comfort and nostalgia. — That has been proven year after year, and it’s not going to stop anytime soon.

  • solarnole

    I hope it’s as amazing as the Tangled bathrooms. It’s like walking into a storybook to take a dump. It’s themed so well. Locking yourself in the stall is like being locked in the tower. Let down your roll and when you flush it’s like the flood scene. They theme everything.

    I can’t wait for the Frozen bathrooms with a rousing bowel inducing “Let it go” soundtrack. Let’s end winter and constipation!!!

    • sixalex

      Seriously funny stuff here.

    • Cory Gross

      Personally, I’m a big fan of bathrooms. When you gotta’ go, you gotta’ go.

      • solarnole

        You will love new fanastyland the whole expansion added three different bathrooms and no new E ticket attractions.

        The park opened the last E ticket Splash Mountain in 1992. Silly superfans need to understand that its a bathroom business now because that’s what the shareholders and the board want.

        I’m a big fan of hot unforgiving pavement. I’m glad that they are paving over the ugly moat and planters in front of the castle so that they can pack more people in to ride less attractions.

        Walt would be so happy that they finished his dream of a carivnel circus, buses right in front of the park and a paved over garden area.

      • Cory Gross

        After riding an E-ticket, I ESPECIALLY need a bathroom.

    • CaptainAction

      Kenny B, so WDW can thrive in the future as a Theme Park Museum?

      Kids today don’t sit still for Dumbo, Peter Pan, and maybe not Snow White. My kids are ok with these rides but don’t care to watch these movies with their parents.

      Their really isn’t any nostalgia value at Animal Kingdom, or Epcot. Notice the crowds heading out of AK just after lunchtime.

      Magic Kingdom has nostalgic value but I’d argue that it is becoming less with younger generations. There is much less connection for this generation to the Fab 5, Peter Pan, Winnie, etc, than previous generations. The girls still love the princesses of course but that wanes around 8-10 years of age. The Little Mermaid Ride is my kids least favorite dark ride. The line for Mermaid is often one of the shortest as WDW went cheap on the execution.

      Add spending $500/day for a vacation which as the mom and dad walk away are discussing, was essentially the same vacation they took 5 years ago?!?

      There are a lot of warning signs here for WDW my friend. As the kids today get taller and older they want to go where the excitement is and that is Universal Orlando. Harry Potter, Hulk, Spiderman, the Mummy coaster, MIB, Simpsons, Despicable Me, exciting coasters, 4 new E Ticket attractions at the same time WDW builds 1 kiddie coaster, lazy river and bowling at a resort your parents can afford, 2 more theme parks coming (1 is a waterpark theme park never seen before), all resorts and parks will be connected by a “monorail type” system (no standing up on stinky buses), some resorts skip all the lines, etc.

      I don’t know…you think grandma’s house and the Theme Park Museum for $1,000/day will hold guests the same way in the future?

      What happens when Universal passes up attendance at Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney Studios?

  • EC82

    The greatest trick Disney ever pulled off was getting its fans to shout the “It’s a business” mantra. Walt Disney wouldn’t even raise the cost of parking past 25 cents and kept spending all the profits his company made, yet Walt Disney Productions seemed to do just fine. Strange, eh?

    Disney IS a business. It is also an entertainment company that has set very high expectations with its audience, and is big and strong enough to warrant and withstand some criticism. Its CEO is the second most highly-paid CEO in the business world, but won’t answer anything but the most softball of questions from his shareholders.

    Personally, I think it’s fair to wonder why Walt DIsney World is getting a kiddie roller coaster and a completely unnecessary expansion of the hub (which has done just fine for 43 years), and is spending $1.4 billion to roll out a marketing-based technology program filled with glitches and that worsens the guest experience, while its primary competition in the theme-park space is spending $1.6 billion to build new rides, lands, hotels and experiences for its guests to actually see, feel, touch and enjoy.

    • AaroniusPolonius

      As a matter of public record, Disney-as-business has gone through many troubled times. Walt himself bet the farm and nearly lost the company quite a few times, notably with Fantasia and later, Sleeping Beauty. That he placed such a high regard on an affordable, premium guest experience just meant that the company he founded was nearly taken over with hostility in the early 1980s and reorganized into the conglomerate that it is today via Eisney and Co.

      I agree that “it’s fair to wonder” as to why Disney is investing in areas where you or others don’t think warrant merit (especially if you’re a shareholder.) But I suspect that the answer won’t please you, especially as a theme park fan. Each of the investments (the hub plus MyMagic+ parade seating; the entire MyMagic+ consumer data system,) is designed to generate more revenue per guest. That’s it. If they build more rides AFTER MyMagic+, they’ll hopefully use the system to generate even more money spent per guest. That’s it.

      Don’t get me wrong: I’m not excusing Disney for not taking that 1.5 billion dollars and creating new rides and attractions with it. (It peeves me every day when I think of how they could have basically made all three non-MK theme parks full day, upgraded offerings.) But I entirely understand the business choice behind it.

  • billyjobobb

    How long ago was the coaster announced? How long have we been told about “Avatarland”?

    What would we be talking about if Disney built things at a regular pace. With their schedule they’re able to always keep us hanging. Just wait for the “NEW” whatever, and then take years to deliver it? It keeps us from noticing that in 10 years we get 1 or 2 things? What if they had opened this coaster with New Fantasyland? It would be old by now and we would all be focusing on what’s next, and what’s not coming down the pike.

    It’s a shiny ball that allows some fans to endlessly occupy themselves imagining how great the new ride / land / bathrooms will be.

    If Disney had gotten the rights to Harry Potter, we’d all still be speculating about how it will look, what will butterbeer taste like? I wonder how great the coaster will be when it opens in 2020? I can’t wait! I’m already booked at the hotel!

    Just look at Star Wars? The movie is how old now? And yet again we’re getting rumors that some day Disney might give us a land for it? I was 7 when Star Wars came out, and I will likely be dead before Disney builds a Star Wars themed land. But we’ll get plenty of leaks about it. Woo Hoo!

  • Nodak

    So excited for the mine train! I really hope it is a long ride and not just over in 2 mins.

    • CaptainAction

      I read 50-60 seconds. Probably right because the footprint of track is pretty small.

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