Al Lutz chimes in today with a big Disneyland news update. Do you give the new Princess Power plan cheers or jeers?
In the past, longtime aficionados could take some comfort that the truly bad executive brainstorms somehow got nipped in the bud thanks to folks working many years there that kept a watchful eye on Walt Disney’s original theme park. Sure Corporate management would change over all that time; leaving behind an awful attraction or two (Pooh anyone?) or a gawd-awful paint job (Brown Tomorrowland), but the park’s basics, and their refined charms over the years have remained – until now.
Two hub-centric projects have been quietly approved, that will fundamentally change Disneyland as we know it. Thanks to the success of last year’s New Orleans Square Club 33 redo that “showed us we can (and should) feel free to finally fix a sacred cow or two” (a direct quote from a Disney executive) we can – literally – expect an “attack” on one of the park’s most enduring icons. Bob Iger hinted at an expansion at Disneyland in the last shareholder meeting, and only a few know that he was really looking to Orlando’s Magic Kingdom to lead the way. Those wishfully hoping he was going to green light anything involving the Star Wars or Marvel cannon weren’t focused on the real reasons anything really gets a go-ahead at the haus of Maus, and that’s revenue generation.
It’s no secret that the most successful component of Walt Disney World’s recent Fantasyland refresh is not the fire-prone Mine Train ride, Dumbo’s doubling of flights or a Mermaid’s disjointed blacklight story. It’s really a “quick-service” restaurant for breakfast or lunch and table-service at dinner, that goes by the name of “Be Our Guest.” All those twenty dollar eggs and thirty dollar steaks (not to mention seventy five dollar bottles of Champaign) added to the already sky-high revenues from the up to sixty dollars a head Cinderella’s Royal Table in the nearby castle have left the Burbank and Anaheim executives hungering for more. The solution came from Imagineering; via an old story told about an original sketch of Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty castle, and a newer saga about the unfathomable excitement some in Orlando had over a simple castle wall in New Fantasyland.
Originally Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Anaheim had a different look to it as Disneyland was being dreamed up; here’s what up to now had been thought was one of the first conceptions…
But a look at another earlier artist’s rendition of the castle shows that it had evolved into a cheaper to build façade shown above, from an original courtyard design with the castle itself at the back of Fantasyland, surrounded by an elaborate wall.
“Inspired” by the above sketch, it was Bob Iger’s suggestion that the removal of the small set of turrets at the top of the original castle “wall” would allow a clear view of the back of Fantasyland; where a newer, bigger castle could be built on the current Fantasyland Theater location…
Sold to the public “as what Walt Disney himself wanted and originally planned,” the new castle will actually host three new dining facilities; both the “Be Our Guest” and “Cinderella’s Royal Table” concepts each on a level of their own, and a Club 33 members only cocktail lounge “Tink’s” that would be squeezed into the very top. Rumor has it the old castle turrets and other removed items could be reused in the Club 33 lounge as décor, most likely as a bar backdrop. Also inside the new castle visitors will find two stories of a“Royal” shopping arcade, a basement cooking and break area and a security detention room. (Yep, a new Disneyland Jail.) As a result, Disneyland’s slow to fill Village Haus, and expensive to operate Big Thunder Ranch will both become retail space.
Since the removal of the current castle’s top will open up a large flat area up on top of that wall, Disneyland’s Entertainment department will create a new daytime show to be presented several times a day upon it, and consumer products was clear with the parks management on what it would focus on. This is the other hub project we mentioned above, a redo of a character meet and greet which just lost its reason to exist, “Pixie Hollow.”
It’s no secret that the Disney Fairies video franchise has run its course. Sales continue to plummet in both home video and associated merchandise as the last title in the series hit the stores last month. It was painfully clear the restyled Tinker Bell was a pointless remake of a character best left to simpler tasks, stuck with friends who were too easy to confuse with the supporting cast of just about any Disney Channel sitcom. Their consignment to WalMart bargain bins left a prime piece of Disneyland property, “Pixie Hollow,” newly available.
Moving into the Hollow will be the “Disney Power Princesses,” pumped up with “Ninja Action” accessories (sold separately, of course) for a whole new set of adventures, designed from the ground up to expand and refresh the brand’s target markets with Marvel and Lucasfilm merchandise techniques. The new “Disney Princess Power” Disney Channel show is the core property here, designed to move merchandise and appeal to a broader pre-teen, teen and adult audience.
Steve Davison has been working on the show and promises “Princesses will butch things up by repelling evil villains with their super powers and lots of big guns,” led by royal sister refugees Anna and Elsa, and special guest princess Leia (of Star Wars fame). Look for lots of motorcycle jumps and wheelies, girls sliding down ropes with occasional pyro effects thrown in to add a little excitement, “and then the show up on the wall stage has a dreamy runway walk to show off all the elaborate royal princess gowns at the end. It’s all to die for, if you’re a villain that is.”
The demolition of the castle top will begin at the conclusion of the sixtieth anniversary celebrations. “Disney Power Princesses” are soon set to take over for the Fairies, just in time for the debut of a new Disney Channel show. The entire new hub area, with the new castle and its dining facilities, will be finished by April 1st of 2017.