I know from reading these forums that there are very few people who like Tarzan's Treehouse, especially compared to the old Swiss Family Treehouse. But in part 2 of the latest podcast from Seasons Pass podcasts (The Season Pass: The Essential Theme Park Podcast), Tony Baxter sheds some light on the decision to replace the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse with Tarzan's Treehouse.
During the Paul Pressler era, Swiss Family Treehouse was almost removed in favor of a gift shop. Instead, Tony Baxter and the Imagineers lobbied to save the walk-through attraction by re-theming it for the upcoming Tarzan movie. They were given a relatively minor budget for the transformation, which was completed in time for the movie's opening date.
Some time later, the financial department told Baxter that the amount of visitorship generated by the new Tarzan attraction would have allowed twice the budget for the re-do, had they known how successful it would be. For one thing, Baxter says he would have liked to have added moving figures from the film instead of the static figures they had the budget for.
I think the lesson for me is that, if Pressler and park management had had their way, the attraction would have been removed and replaced with a retail store. While I would have preferred that the park had kept the old Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, I think the Tarzan Treehouse is a far better alternative than if another gift shop had been built in that location.
While there have been attractions that were still popular but closed largely for financial reasons (I'm thinking about the old submarine ride and the Skyway), I think park management has a legitimate point when they say that people complain a lot when one of their beloved attractions are closed, but the reason they were closed was because not enough people were visiting those attractions to keep them open (this was in other articles I've read about closed attractions at Disneyland).
I'm the first one to be nostalgic about closed attractions like Mine Train through Nature's Wonderland and Adventure through Inner Space, but I think Tony Baxter's explanations for how these were replaced by Big Thunder Mountain and Star Tours makes a lot of sense.
The first part of the interview is at: http://micechat.com/35371-season-pas...r-interview-1/ and the second part, where he talks about the Swiss Family Treehouse is at: http://micechat.com/36673-season-pas...-baxter-part2/