This is going to be a long post so bear with me. I have occasion in my job to interact with the corporate executive world, and I have a decent understanding of how things work. I've been thinking a lot about originality at Disneyland, and I think I can guess why franchises are the hot item. Part of it is of course the amount of money Disney spent to aquire a franchise like Marvel or Star Wars, but I think there's more to it then that. **Please note, that when I refer to an attraction as being "original" what I mean is that it is not based on a specific movie or TV show**
So one thing to understand right away is the Board of Directors do not work for Disney. They are representatives who are (supposedly) appointed by the shareholders to make sure that Disney is doing everything possible to make them as much money as possible. Since the shareholders are the owners of the company, the Board has the power to say yes or no to anything, and there is no way for Disney to ever override them. Now, some Disney employees may also be on the Board (for example, often times the CEO of a company is simultanously the Chairman of the Board), but many of them are not directly involved with Disney. In fact, it is fairly normal for somone to sit on the Boards of 6 or 7 completely different companies, which means that they don't know all that much about any one company that the are on the board for. So, this means that they rely on spreadsheets for their information. Now, spreadsheets are a great thing in what they do, which is to give you every bit of factual information that you could want to know about something, and allow you to rearrange it any way you want. So this helps them discover things like one of their vendors is overcharging them for something, or that a certain investment (such as Cars Land) brought in X amount of new customers who spent X amount of dollars on tickets, hotels, merchandise, and food. However, a spreadsheet can not tell you whether something is inherantly a good or bad product, and this leads to some rather foolish assumptions that are totally untrue, but yet are used to govern the company. Here is basically what I think happened that lead Disney on the path of building mostly franchised rides for the forseeable future:
So back in 1996 when I first hired into Disneyland, things could not have been better. There were three new rides that had just opened over the last 7 years that were all home runs (Star Tours, Splash Mountain, and Indy). There was the promise of an awesome new night parade, a brand new Tomorrowland, and finally a 2nd park in Anaheim. Tragically, all three of those things turned out to be miserable failures, some of the biggest in Disneyland's history. Now, all of us on here know that Light Magic, the new Tomorrowland, and DCA were all just simply bad, but someone looking at a spreadsheet can't tell that. What they see is that Light Magic was an original idea for a night parade, the new Tomorrowland had one franchise (Honey, I Shrunk the Audience) and two new original attractions (Rocket Rods and Innoventions). DCA opened with all original attractions. All of these things represented a considerable financial investment, and all three turned out to be failures. Light Magic only lasted one summer, and they were unable to use the floats for other parades. Rocket Rods also only lasted a summer, and all told probably only operated for a combined month at best. Innoventions is still there but it has to have the lowest number of guests visiting it of any attraction in either park (probably by far). They had to spend $1 Billion dollars to fix DCA.
Now, contrast that with some of the "fixes" that they have done. They added Buzz Lightyear to Tomorrowland, which is a popular ride. They redid Star Tours and had to build a whole new section in that building to house the line because it got so long. They added Tower of Terror, A Bugs Land, Toy Story Mania, and of course Cars Land to DCA. All of those things have been fairly successful. Only Buzz Lightyear and A Bugs Land would not be considered home runs, but A Bugs Land did at least stop the complaints that there weren't enough child-friendly rides at DCA.
So never having set foot in the parks or never having gone on any of the rides, what does the spreadsheet tell you? That franchise-based rides succeed and original rides fail miserably. Also, don't build rides on the People Mover track because they will give you nightmares on how much money you have to spend on maintenance.
So unfortunately the disasters of the late 90's still haunt us today. Rides that are considered original are not approved by the Board because the data clearly shows that the public doesn't like original rides. Rides based on existing franchises are usually very successful. So until Disney can prove to the Board of Directors that there is money to be made on original rides with today's park guest, I wouldn't be holding my breath that anything not based on a successful movie will be greenlight by the Board.