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"Blue Sky" expansions coming to Walt Disney World (Moana+Zootopia to Animal Kingdom, Coco+Encanto+Disney Villains to Magic Kingdom)

cookie

Hyper Poster
Two new expansions have been announced for the Walt Disney World resort. Located "beyond Big Thunder Mountain" at Magic Kingdom, plans have been unveiled for an area featuring locations themed to the films Coco and Encanto, as well as an area themed to the Disney villains.

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At Disney's Animal Kingdom, Dinoland U.S.A will be replaced by a new area featuring locations from Moana and Zootopia.

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No further details such as attractions or a construction timeline have been shared, but we could be looking at a late 2020s opening for both areas. Parks and Resorts Chairman Josh D'Amarro was adamant in saying that these lands are still under development, so plans may change as they get closer to start of construction.



Edit: For more clarity as to where the Magic Kingdom expansion would be located, it would take up this mostly vacant area here, likely cutting into Rivers of America like Galaxy's Edge did at Disneyland.

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Pokemaniac

Mountain monkey
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
I can't say I dislike the choice of themeing, but I think it illustrates something quite problematic with making all the attractions IP-based: By the time the attraction is finished, the IP is already quite old.

Moana and Zootopia came out in 2016, while Coco is from 2017. By the late 2020's, it will be more than a decade since those movies were in theaters. The rides will be based on "years old news" even when brand new.

Granted, Disney has made rides based on very old movies before, but they used to be a studio that cranked out like one big movie every two years, and the movies the rides were based on had plenty of time to establish themselves as classics. Nowadays, they're releasing movies at a rate of more than one per two weeks. Encanto, while a great movie, was one of 34 Disney films released in 2021. Among other Disney movies that foght for a spot in the public consciousness that year were Raya and the Last Dragon, Cruella, Luca, Black Widow, Jungle Cruise, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and Eternals. Oh, and 2021 was a quiet year due to the pandemic. Disney is due for 57 movie releases this year.

By contrast, take Peter Pan's Flight, which was an opening day attraction at Disneyland, two years after the movie premiered. Here's an exhaustive list of Disney animated movies that had been released between Peter Pan's premiere and the ride's opening: The Lady and the Tramp, end list. Peter Pan was still fresh in the public memory when the ride opened. It might even have been still running in cinemas, because there weren't that many animated movies vying for the public's attention in those days.

Today's production cadence means that a movie turns into "yesterday's news" extremely fast. Anybody remember Turning Red, for instance? It came out half a year ago today. But since then, Disney has released a few other big-news movies that took over the spotlight for a while: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, Lightyear, Thor: Love and Thunder, and Pinocchio, just to name the big ones. By Disney.

So movies nowadays get a very short timeframe to establish themselves as a pop culture mainstay, and there will have been an extreme number of "media cycles" passed before any attractions based on the movies can be built and opened. We risk that the parks manage to build a huge land themed to "that thing that was popular for half a month ten years ago", quite dated already on opening day, and outright obscure by the ride's tenth anniversary.

Of course, if the movies get sequels, they may salvage the image of the theme park land somewhat. That Avatar land in Animal Kingdom was a bit outmoded already when it opened (but it's worth keeping in mind that the movie was still in theaters and the Biggest Thing Ever when Disney first approached James Cameron about building a theme park land based on the movie), but the franchise is coming back to relevance with the sequel this year. But not all movies lend themselves to sequels easily, and even though they're popular today when the rides enter the concept stage, they might be completely unknown to young audiences when the land is finished ten years later.

In short, I think IPs move a bit too fast for theme parks to keep up with them. Might as well make their own IPs instead.
 

roomraider

Best Topic Starter
I agree with everything you said Poke but God do I want a dark ride based on Coco. It could be soooo much fun.

However yup it will be 10 years late and while it's probably my 2nd fav Pixar movie I doubt I'm in a majority.

That does pose something of a problem for all parks that are owned by IP producing companies. You kind of have to go with IPs that stick in the public consciousness and that consciousness is getting shorter and shorter.

I guess the ideal IPs for rides are long running series that absolutely everyone's heard of (James Bond, Mission Impossible, Potter, Tomb Raider, Terminator, Star Wars, MCU etc) but to keep things fresh I personally am quite excited about a couple of these more obscure 1 off movie themes.
 

HeartlineCoaster

Theme Park Superhero
I can't say I dislike the choice of themeing, but I think it illustrates something quite problematic with making all the attractions IP-based: By the time the attraction is finished, the IP is already quite old.

Moana and Zootopia came out in 2016, while Coco is from 2017. By the late 2020's, it will be more than a decade since those movies were in theaters. The rides will be based on "years old news" even when brand new.

Granted, Disney has made rides based on very old movies before, but they used to be a studio that cranked out like one big movie every two years, and the movies the rides were based on had plenty of time to establish themselves as classics. Nowadays, they're releasing movies at a rate of more than one per two weeks. Encanto, while a great movie, was one of 34 Disney films released in 2021. Among other Disney movies that foght for a spot in the public consciousness that year were Raya and the Last Dragon, Cruella, Luca, Black Widow, Jungle Cruise, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and Eternals. Oh, and 2021 was a quiet year due to the pandemic. Disney is due for 57 movie releases this year.

By contrast, take Peter Pan's Flight, which was an opening day attraction at Disneyland, two years after the movie premiered. Here's an exhaustive list of Disney animated movies that had been released between Peter Pan's premiere and the ride's opening: The Lady and the Tramp, end list. Peter Pan was still fresh in the public memory when the ride opened. It might even have been still running in cinemas, because there weren't that many animated movies vying for the public's attention in those days.

Today's production cadence means that a movie turns into "yesterday's news" extremely fast. Anybody remember Turning Red, for instance? It came out half a year ago today. But since then, Disney has released a few other big-news movies that took over the spotlight for a while: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, Lightyear, Thor: Love and Thunder, and Pinocchio, just to name the big ones. By Disney.

So movies nowadays get a very short timeframe to establish themselves as a pop culture mainstay, and there will have been an extreme number of "media cycles" passed before any attractions based on the movies can be built and opened. We risk that the parks manage to build a huge land themed to "that thing that was popular for half a month ten years ago", quite dated already on opening day, and outright obscure by the ride's tenth anniversary.

Of course, if the movies get sequels, they may salvage the image of the theme park land somewhat. That Avatar land in Animal Kingdom was a bit outmoded already when it opened (but it's worth keeping in mind that the movie was still in theaters and the Biggest Thing Ever when Disney first approached James Cameron about building a theme park land based on the movie), but the franchise is coming back to relevance with the sequel this year. But not all movies lend themselves to sequels easily, and even though they're popular today when the rides enter the concept stage, they might be completely unknown to young audiences when the land is finished ten years later.

In short, I think IPs move a bit too fast for theme parks to keep up with them. Might as well make their own IPs instead.
An interesting analysis and it's fascinating to hear about the ridiculous rate these movies are being churned out recently compared to the past.

I'm not sure it's the right way to look at it in this particular case though. Recency isn't always the most important factor when it comes to getting the most out an IP, particularly in the Disney universe. Staying power and suitability to a theme park are very important too.

It would almost seem foolish to throw a ride up within a couple of years for just one of the many many films mentioned, they wouldn't know how popular it will remain over time. You could end up with something no one really cares about quite quickly. The IP needs to prove it can go the distance first and that takes time.

So much of the parks work around princess films and they obviously like to stick to their roots on that. Moana fits in with this nicely, has remained popular over time with a solid set of songs which still get huge crowd reactions during night time shows in 2022.

Zootopia may seem like a bit more of a wildcard but it's a world builder that's quite unlike a lot of other stuff released and has the potential to translate well to a theme park. They've obviously done their market research and as far as I'm aware it was exceptionally popular in many parts of the world - Judy Hopps achieved legend status pretty quickly out there.

For so many of the other films listed I would agree with the sentiment. Lesser known Marvel characters when you can do Spiderman now. Remakes, sequels and animated films that didn't pack the same punch just aren't going to translate as well.

Yes the consciousness moves quickly, but they need to look beyond that and make something last. These seem like good calls. (But maybe that's just because I like them).
 

Christian

Hyper Poster
The IP is just Disney taking the easy route. In the end, I think quality is what matters, regardless of IP. If these are great rides they will live on to be fan favourites even in the years when nobody will have heard of Coco or Moana. Great attractions always get traction, regardless if anybody knows the IP.

Instead of building a generic Hawaii Land or Mexico Land like Phantasialand might do, Disney decide to throw their IP on it. Using an already made IP and characters is a lot easier, than having to make a new one. It also requires less creativity to replicate things from a movie than to design brand new ones. If Disney never make another Coco movie then the kids in 30 year might get to know the franchise from the attraction and not from the actual movie.
 
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Indy

Mega Poster
I definitely understand and empathize with the sentiments here, but I have to even pause myself and really think about this.

Building IP-based rides years later isn't new. Frozen, Little Mermaid, Seven Dwarfs, and Ratatouille are all examples at WDW from the last decade. And yes, I realize that some of those have been proven to stand the test of time. But, there a few aspects that we need to keep in mind when it comes to Disney's point of view.

First, they have an astonishing amount of metrics availability to them today. They aren't operating solely off of box office tickets and video sales. They have statistics for Disney+ views, YouTube views, merch sales, you name it. They have so many statistics at their disposal over the course of several years that help them determine what is truly popular and is likely to stand the test of time and draw in the biggest crowd.

Second, I would argue that building the attractions/lands further assists with ensuring that these IPs stand the test of time and continue to rake in money for Disney. Coco and Moana are pulling in major views? Great. Build lands themed to them. People who already like those IPs want to visit those attractions and probably buy merch. People who aren't as familiar are still going to visit the attractions and it may build interest, which leads to more views and possibly sales.

I certainly miss the days of developing unique attractions/storylines for the parks, but it simply doesn't make much sense to continue that approach from a financial standpoint. The company spends millions upon millions of dollars each year to develop stories for films. It makes more sense to apply those to their attractions and only continue to build the value of their IPs. A kid who loves Expedition Everest leaves WDW talking about how they loved Expedition Everest. A kid who loves the Encanto ride leaves WDW talking about how they loved the Encanto ride, and they probably want to go home and watch Encanto again which might result in the kid's parents purchasing the film or a Disney+ subscription. And they might want to watch Encanto sing-a-long videos on YouTube which pulls in ad revenue. They might want to buy the Mirabel dress at the local department store which pulls in merch revenue. The revenue of an IP-based attraction cascades and it's always about money.
 
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cookie

Hyper Poster
Walt gambled on Disneyland’s main icon being based on a movie that wouldn’t come out for another four years after the park opened, and that film then ended up being such a big commercial failure upon its initial release that it led to mass layoffs at their animation division. The only reason Sleeping Beauty then became iconic was because Disney had to keep pushing it. Same was true of Bambi and Pinnochio. They didn’t become enduring IPs overnight.

What they’re doing now is a version of that, just with their modern films. Building lands to Moana, Zootopia, Coco, etc. makes sure they stay in the public conciousness and continue to rake in revenue for the conpany. The attractions work as much as advertisement for the brand as new films would (and they are making new Moana and Zootopia stuff for Disney+, so it’s not like they’re just letting them sit), and as long as the attractions themselves hold up, they will endure.

Would I have wanted to see more original rides? Sure. But I think the options they’ve picked out here stands the best chance to endure, since they’re quality films with universe-building potential. And if original rides were somehow the be-all end-all solution for everything, Universal’s parks wouldn’t exist and thrive like they’ve done for decades. Yet I never seem to see that being brought up during discussions like this.
 

Crazycoaster

Giga Poster
It was really a very weird way to make an announcement about this stuff, as none of it is actually confirmed, it seemed they were more throwing it out there to see what public perception of it would be. Much like one of those surveys for future attractions that parks do. “We ‘COULD’ build this…? Or maybe we’ll build ‘THIS’…?”

It’s a bit disappointing, and seems something like they’re just trying to appease people who have been looking at the huge amount of attractions and progress that Universal is making in comparison in a sort of “wait.. we might make some new rides… at some point..” way.
 

cookie

Hyper Poster
Would I be right in saying that these are “drawing board ideas” as opposed to “attractions that are confirmed to happen”?
I don’t think they would throw this out there if there wasn’t at least some concrete indication that it would happen. It could still be at a stage where it could be easily cancelled, but I’ll assume that unless the backlash’s ginourmus for whatever reason they’re moving forward with at least a version of it.
 

peep

CF Legend
I've been reading a lot of Disney forums since the D23 presentation. It sounds like most of these ideas have been thrown around for years behind closed doors but it feels like they had so little to announce yesterday that they just threw these out there to draw our attention. Maybe even as to get an idea of what the fans would like or to help get the budget confirmed?

Either way it feels like current Imagineering and management haven't got a clue on how to expand the current parks. Like Poke rightfully said, by the time anything actually opens in a Disney park the IP is at least 10 years old. Frozen came out in 2013 and two of the 3 lands based purely on that film don't open until its 10th anniversary at the end of next year (Paris following in 2024 - hopefully).

We should probably treat all of these as 'not happening' but the Animal Kingdom plans sound quite far along in development and could be happening - even then it won't open for a very long time.
 
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