This article was in this morning's Orlando Sentinel. I hate to beat a dead horse, but when it comes to theme park innovation and "getting it right", there is a new sheriff in town and Disney had better take notice. I truly believe that it won't be more than a few years before either Universal Orlando park takes the lead right behind the Magic Kingdom in attendance, thus leaving stale old Epcot, DAK and DHS in the dust.
Comcast to speed up spending at Universal theme parks - OrlandoSentinel.com
I remember reading the story about how quickly Walt Disney got the Unicef/Pepsi Small World pavilion designed and constructed for the NYC World's Fair - in something like 10 months (incredible). If a creative ride through attraction like that can be built in a rapid development fashion (and still be a timeless attraction almost 50 years later), then why on Earth can't Disney build attractions of merit at WDW on a much faster pace? The Seven Dwarves Coaster is now on it's third year of construction already? It's going to be a two minute ride on par with Barnstormer and you are telling me that it takes that long to build - do they only have like 6 people building the darn thing? I just don't understand.
Yet interactive queues and "games" seem to come out of Imagineering at warp speed and these are things that nobody cares about let alone demand. Disney, where is your park by park capital improvement plan? I'm not talking re-painting of attraction facades (that should come as standard maintenance); when are you going to start living up to your reputation of being a theme park leader? Because, I have to tell you, you're getting your lunch eaten for you day by day from the guys up the road.
Disney can laugh and dismiss Comcast/Universal all they want but this company isn't playing games and realizes that there is money to be had from the critter wearing red shorts. He has stopped filling a niche' and they intend to fill it for him - the tween, young adult audience who pines for new experiences that are mind blowing. Universal now has the financial and creative talent to give Disney a run for their money on a consistent basis - folks, they are not a one hit wonder. Meanwhile, Disney goes "Anderson Silva" on us and next thing you know they are eerily close to letting their guard down and becoming an "also ran" - soon to be about as revered in the eyes of the American public as Denny's or Sears is - no thanks, I'll pass.
Mickey, if you want a visitor base that consists solely of 4 year old princesses and their parents that went into debt to come visit you for their once in a lifetime photo op then fine. Otherwise, you'd better pony up the investment dollars and make them quicker and more often.
As for the fan boys that have this Messianic belief that Marvel and Star Wars will come in and save the day, while these things hold promise they will be irrelevant without a 5th gate or massive capital improvements on the scale of Cars Land. An Iron Man ride here and a Speeder Bike ride there isn't going to keep Universal at bay. Watch out if Universal acquires the rights to Star Trek, Warner Brothers, etc. - yes, keep plugging along Mickey with that Avatar corner you find yourself in.
While I appreciate you have a park to build in China, very few people domestically will ever visit that place so don't let your original concepts rot and whiter in the meantime. I have a novel idea, how about less movie duds and your reinvest that money into your real bread and butter, the parks.