The Back to the Future ride at Universal Studios is closing -- perhaps as soon as next month -- to make way for a new attraction, sources tell me.
No comment from Universal, but speculation on some unofficial Web sites indicates a new storyline and ride vehicles could be based on The Simpsons cartoon or The Fast and the Furious car-racing movies.
Back to the Future, based on the Michael J. Fox movie trilogy, opened in 1991 for an estimated $40 million. Back then, it was among the most sophisticated rides around.
But today, a generation of kids may know nothing of Doc Brown and his time machines -- making the ride less relevant for a park that is already struggling with attendance. WHAT GOES ON . . . inside the mind of the Mouse?
That was the question this week at the Governor's Conference on Tourism, which began just as Walt Disney World increased ticket prices.
It wasn't just that this was Disney's second increase of the year -- or that, at $67, entry at Mouse World is more than twice what it was 15 years ago.
Officially, Disney says it upped prices so that its industry partners would have the information in time for their 2007 guide books. The company won't say whether that means it will forgo a price increase next year.
But the experts I spoke with wondered whether the latest increase could mean that Disney senses a downturn in attendance. Charging a few bucks more a head might allow the company to meet revenue goals even with fewer clicks of the turnstile.
Orlando's hotels know this strategy. Occupancy is down, but hotels have increased room rates. That's why the resort tax in Orange County continues to climb.
And despite the dire predictions, there's no evidence to suggest that Disney's (relatively) gradual price increases have ever hurt attendance.