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Old 08-16-2014, 05:25 PM   #1
rodinia
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Fantasyland & Avatar "blown" / compared to WWOHP (Really)? + Star Wars Land thoughts

As a longtime DISBoard reader (and now first-time poster), I'm really surprised at some of the comments I've read throughout multiple discussions here. More specifically - calling the Fantasyland expansion and the Avatar projects flawed / blown or trying to compare them to WWOHP. Let's take some steps back on what has happened over the past few years and discuss Disney's theme park strategy to this point. Granted, it's only my opinion, but there is some simple logic to follow here.

We probably all agree - WWOHP was a serious kick to Orlando Disney's ego. Beyond the success - if there is one demographic Disney would like to grow, its the Tween / Teen sector (boys, especially). Some of Disney's related programing is very good and Pixar has helped tremendously. But let's face facts - if I could morph back into a 9-14 year old boy, I'm zapping bad guys with my wand at WWOHP, not "letting it go" with Anna and Elsa. Since my parents know that and (most likely) flipping the bill for my vacation, guess where we are headed - at least for a significant amount of time? Disney has nothing to counter WWOHP on that scale and to that demographic. But, what should they do? What will get the buzz back to Disney's side of Orlando?

Is it supposed to be Avatarland? James Cameron's ambition would tell you otherwise, but that wasn't Disney's plan. There is one important thing to remember about Disney - they will never dedicate a major chunk of real-estate to Intellectual Property they don't own or have a large majority stake into. Rides and restaurants? Absolutely. But never something of WWOHP scale. Avatar is a springboard that Disney is using for one thing - nighttime hours to AK. When you add as many hotel rooms / DVC stuff as Disney has over the past few years, the guests have to go somewhere. Although there are four main Disney theme parks in Orlando, only three are open at night today.

Is it Cars Land to DHS? No, and two reasons highlight this. First, California Adventure has a tumultuous history of money-losing ambitions since it opened. Cars Land has finally reversed its fortunes and Disney wouldn't cannibalize its own attendance. Also, Disney likes to diversify its parks enough to entice it's fan-base to travel to other locations. Think about it - would you spend tens of thousands to fly the family overseas to attend basically the same theme park you could see in your own backyard?

So it must be the New Fantasyland, right? Again, no. Similar to AK, attendance is growing and the guests have to go somewhere. WDW is the busiest theme park in the world today and Fantasyland has to be one of the most crowded areas I've ever seen. Sure, the size and scale of the project was ambitious, but could hardly be seen as a WWOHP counter-move. It served to create some buzz, addresses the growing needs of the park and solidifies the current demographic - it does not expand on it.

So what about Star Wars Land? Well, here are some things to think about...

1) - Harry Potter is a more recent phenomenon that appeals to a specific generation of fans. Star Wars is legendary and spans multiple generations, including the parents who are paying for the Orlando vacation. If I want to deflate the Harry Potter buzz - Star Wars is the knockout punch.

2) - Disney spent $4 billion on the franchise and committed to three new movies, almost immediately. You don't spend that kind of money / then commit even more if you're not being serious. Remember: Disney didn't just buy Star Wars. George Lucas sold his baby to someone he trusted - Bob Iger. There is a history there.

3 - Iger mentioned a "significant" Star Wars presence to theme parks announcement in 2015 - in a shareholder's meeting. That's big news.

4) - Take a look at today's DHS. American Idol is closing soon (IP they didn't own). SoundStage is closed. Indiana Jones is being reported as closing soon (again, IP they don't own). And where do all these acreage eating, unused attractions sit? Conveniently next to Star Tours and Tatooine Traders.

I know that fan buzz / commercials can over-hype things, but Fantasyland was never anything but an expansion. Avatar / Pandora hasn't even been built yet, so I don't understand how it can be criticized. In any case, I'm off my soapbox now.

However, the 9-14 year old kid in me is very excited about the potential of a Star Wars Land - hopefully at DHS. Wife and I visit Disney frequently, but the crowds have been a little off-putting to me these past few visits. Star Wars Land would get me out of my shell pretty fast.

Wow! - Lots of words from me today. Wonder what my second post will look like

Last edited by rodinia; 08-16-2014 at 05:39 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old 08-16-2014, 05:51 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by rodinia View Post
Indiana Jones is being reported as closing soon (again, IP they don't own).
Disney got Indiana Jones when they picked up SW as they are both Lucas properties....so that would be their IP.

http://variety.com/2013/film/news/di...nt-1200927216/

That said...I hope SW land is built...is huge...and is AWESOME. Once it's built, I will really have to fight the urge to move to Orlando and buy an AP.
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Old 08-16-2014, 08:41 PM   #3
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Avatarland isn't open yet....we don't know what it will do for Animal Kingdom or the resort overall.
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Old 08-16-2014, 10:01 PM   #4
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Disney has had the opportunity to cater to the demographic you speak of (and others as well) for the past decade and has more or less chosen not to, at least in Orlando. Cars Land has been a success in Anaheim and Toy Story Midway Mania is arguably one of the most popular attractions in the Orlando complex. So where are more attractions based on items in the Pixar library? Why keep everything else on the shelf when Pixar has shown that it can bring the crowds in?

As far as Disney dedicating a major chunk of real estate to their IP, Avatarland follows the same formula that Disney has followed since Orlando opened up in 1971. Look at the Magic Kingdom and the vast majority of the attractions are not based on any IP that they owned. They more or less own them now (stuff like Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion have gone the movie route) so they can do what they like. When Epcot opened there wasnít a single shred of Disney IP anywhere. As for MGM Studios, large parcels of real estate were devoted to things they didnít own. Animal Kingdom follows that same line of reasoning.

The point is that Disney doesnít always load up the parks with attractions once they buy something. Of course times can and do change, but past behavior tells me that it wonít change much.

To your points about Star Wars:

1 - Harry Potter will transcend generations. J. K. Rowling and company will see to that. Young adults, some of whom are starting to become parents, are passing their love of Hogwarts down to their children. I donít see Harry Potter going away anytime soon. Back on Disney for a moment we need to remember that the flagship of the Fantasyland expansion is based on a movie thatís 77 years old. If the product is popular then time has no limits.

2 Ė Yes, Disney spent big bucks on LucasArts, but dove directly into movie-making and brought Avatar into the park instead. That to me speaks volumes and again follows the tradition they have of sitting on IP and doing very little with it in the parks.

3 Ė Something will show up that is based on Star Wars, but I donít think it will be a land loaded with attractions like so many others think. Yes, I think Orlando will get something, but I feel the big stuff will go to Anaheim or Shanghai (or both).

4 Ė With Indiana Jones going away that leaves a perfect stadium to have a show in a similar vein, or perhaps like Fantasmic. I donít see an E-ticket type of item going there. I indicated in an another thread that I think weíll see a big gift shop, the aforementioned show, a themed restaurant like Be Our Guest and theyíll do something special during Star Wars Weekends, maybe even to the point that they become hard ticket events.

Naturally Iím speculating like everyone else, and I do have hopes and wishes that something big would come in based on Star Wars. Heck, Iíd love to see Epcot return to its splendor. But again past behavior and gut instinct are telling me otherwise.
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Old 08-16-2014, 10:31 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wallrock View Post
Disney has had the opportunity to cater to the demographic you speak of (and others as well) for the past decade and has more or less chosen not to, at least in Orlando. Cars Land has been a success in Anaheim and Toy Story Midway Mania is arguably one of the most popular attractions in the Orlando complex. So where are more attractions based on items in the Pixar library? Why keep everything else on the shelf when Pixar has shown that it can bring the crowds in?

As far as Disney dedicating a major chunk of real estate to their IP, Avatarland follows the same formula that Disney has followed since Orlando opened up in 1971. Look at the Magic Kingdom and the vast majority of the attractions are not based on any IP that they owned. They more or less own them now (stuff like Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion have gone the movie route) so they can do what they like. When Epcot opened there wasnít a single shred of Disney IP anywhere. As for MGM Studios, large parcels of real estate were devoted to things they didnít own. Animal Kingdom follows that same line of reasoning.

The point is that Disney doesnít always load up the parks with attractions once they buy something. Of course times can and do change, but past behavior tells me that it wonít change much.

To your points about Star Wars:

1 - Harry Potter will transcend generations. J. K. Rowling and company will see to that. Young adults, some of whom are starting to become parents, are passing their love of Hogwarts down to their children. I donít see Harry Potter going away anytime soon. Back on Disney for a moment we need to remember that the flagship of the Fantasyland expansion is based on a movie thatís 77 years old. If the product is popular then time has no limits.

2 Ė Yes, Disney spent big bucks on LucasArts, but dove directly into movie-making and brought Avatar into the park instead. That to me speaks volumes and again follows the tradition they have of sitting on IP and doing very little with it in the parks.

3 Ė Something will show up that is based on Star Wars, but I donít think it will be a land loaded with attractions like so many others think. Yes, I think Orlando will get something, but I feel the big stuff will go to Anaheim or Shanghai (or both).
4 Ė With Indiana Jones going away that leaves a perfect stadium to have a show in a similar vein, or perhaps like Fantasmic. I donít see an E-ticket type of item going there. I indicated in an another thread that I think weíll see a big gift shop, the aforementioned show, a themed restaurant like Be Our Guest and theyíll do something special during Star Wars Weekends, maybe even to the point that they become hard ticket events.

Naturally Iím speculating like everyone else, and I do have hopes and wishes that something big would come in based on Star Wars. Heck, Iíd love to see Epcot return to its splendor. But again past behavior and gut instinct are telling me otherwise.
Idk a lot of insiders with good history on this type of stuff say Walt Disney World will get the biggest piece of the pie when it comes to Star Wars. Disney knows they have to do something with Hollywood Studios. Also Disney already has come out and said Star Wars wouldn't be in Shanghai Disneyland for the opening but they wouldn't put down the option for expansion in the future....so basically no but if they needed to they will. Anaheim will probably see some new Star Wars stuff but a Tomorrowland takeover is looking less and less likely. To be honest who knows what Disney will do....they've been known to shock people before.
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Old 08-17-2014, 07:24 AM   #6
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Old 08-17-2014, 02:42 PM   #7
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Personally, I think Star Wars has nothing on Harry Potter. If Disney doesn't hit it out of the park with the next movies they will really have nothing. Harry Potter has like 7 recent movies that were defining to a generation. Star wars has 6, the first three were awesome and defining to a generation, the next three kind of sucked and were more about CGI than anything else. The generation that star wars captivated is now in their 60s, and their kids have moved out of the house. Their kids are now having kids and those people grew up on Harry Potter killing the box office and a few crappy star wars movies here and there. Sure Star Wars will draw crowds however I really don't think that they will be able to maintain public interest for the next 20 years like Harry Potter will UNLESS the new movies are absolute classics (which I doubt they will be honestly)
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Old 08-17-2014, 05:40 PM   #8
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Personally, I think Star Wars has nothing on Harry Potter. If Disney doesn't hit it out of the park with the next movies they will really have nothing. Harry Potter has like 7 recent movies that were defining to a generation. Star wars has 6, the first three were awesome and defining to a generation, the next three kind of sucked and were more about CGI than anything else. The generation that star wars captivated is now in their 60s, and their kids have moved out of the house. Their kids are now having kids and those people grew up on Harry Potter killing the box office and a few crappy star wars movies here and there. Sure Star Wars will draw crowds however I really don't think that they will be able to maintain public interest for the next 20 years like Harry Potter will UNLESS the new movies are absolute classics (which I doubt they will be honestly)
I couldn't disagree with this more - and we are actually reading "Prisoner of Azkaban" aloud to our daughter as I type. My kids, including my 13 year old son, really enjoy HP. HP is big. Good for Univ Studios, and good for us. I actually enjoy visiting U.S. now, unlike before HP. It is well done. Again, congrats to U.S.

Star Wars, however, is not just big. It changed American Culture. The cultural impact of Star Wars cannot be overstated - kinda like Elvis or Sgt. Peppers. Disney now owns that cultural phenomenon. ...AND boys love Star Wars. The same 13 year old mentioned above wears a Star Wars shirt to school once a week or so. He won't wear his HP shirts - too kiddie. I predict that once Hollywood Studios opens the new huge "Star Wars Land" (or whatever they call it), that it will begin to rival Epcot as the #2 park in Orlando.

Really, Star Wars is three times the size of Harry Potter now. Twenty years from now it will be even bigger.
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Old 08-17-2014, 05:53 PM   #9
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The generation Star Wars captivated is in their mid 30's to mid 40's, not in our sixties. My two daughters love Star Wars as we watched Clone Wars together on Cartoon network along w/P&F Star wars special & all the movies, etc. We are looking forward to Rebels and Disney has to get more SW in the parks as we are visiting Universal on our trip in Oct & may never need to go back to Disney. That is how Disney is losing $$$$. They need to hurry up& build...New Fantasy land is okay, but Harry Potter lands look awesome. As long as disney is making $$$$ on magicbands, I'm afraid they wont be investing what they should be which is very disappointing.
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Old 08-17-2014, 10:49 PM   #10
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Take it for what you will but Star Wars will have the largest presence at WDW by far from what I have heard at least(brother in law). Anaheim will have some mainly a Tomorrowland/SW reboot with some Meet and Greets etc.

Again take that as you will and thats at the moment, nothing is beyond planning at this stage. As for the HP vs Star War’s as a fan of both, HP is not going anywhere, but comparing it to Star Wars is like comparing a gorilla to a baboon by weight, and thats without the new Abrams movies.
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Old 08-18-2014, 07:23 AM   #11
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My kids are 7 & soon to be 5, and know nothing about Harry Potter. Never seen any of the movies, never asked about the books. But they both have light-sabers, my son has a huge Star Wars figures collection, and they watch the movies, all 6 of them, on a regular basis. My son particularly likes Episode II.

Star Wars merchandising brings in over $1B per year, only 2nd behind Disney Princesses in licensed merchandise... someone is buying (and playing with) all of that stuff.
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Old 08-18-2014, 01:24 PM   #12
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Personally, I think Star Wars has nothing on Harry Potter.
Totally disagree, 1000%.

U.S. is cashing in now with HP, but don't kid yourself into thinking that Disney won't have the last laugh with SW.
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Old 08-18-2014, 02:22 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by newdeal View Post
Personally, I think Star Wars has nothing on Harry Potter. If Disney doesn't hit it out of the park with the next movies they will really have nothing. Harry Potter has like 7 recent movies that were defining to a generation. Star wars has 6, the first three were awesome and defining to a generation, the next three kind of sucked and were more about CGI than anything else. The generation that star wars captivated is now in their 60s, and their kids have moved out of the house. Their kids are now having kids and those people grew up on Harry Potter killing the box office and a few crappy star wars movies here and there. Sure Star Wars will draw crowds however I really don't think that they will be able to maintain public interest for the next 20 years like Harry Potter will UNLESS the new movies are absolute classics (which I doubt they will be honestly)
I was curious when I read your post so I went and checked my drivers license...nope,not in my 60's yet! And I didn't even bother going to check my daughters because I am fairly certain she isn't, either!

You have to figure Star Wars has already maintained public interest longer than 20 years, and shows little signs of slowing down anytime soon.
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Old 08-18-2014, 03:16 PM   #14
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star wars will only appeal to boys

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Old 08-18-2014, 03:59 PM   #15
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If anything, I think both franchises are here to stay for a very long time. I'd argue that the advantage SW has right now over HP is that SW very much has been big for multiple generations -- so it's not only the kids that would be drawn, but also the parents (and grandparents). Because HP is newer, it doesn't have quite the penetration in the older generations that SW does.

Let's say you're a parent of kids that are huge fans of both HP and SW -- you enjoy HP, but have loved SW since you were 5 years old. If you can only choose one place to take your family for vacation, where are you going to go?

Now, in 10 more years, all those kids that grew up with the HP books will have their own families, so I could see HP's draw increasing over time. To counteract that momentum, however, is the fact that there will be 3 new SW movies (and countless more games, TV shows, books, and comics) in that time and likely no/limited new HP material.

I definitely would love to go see WWOHP some day, but I will visit whatever WDW does with SW over and over.
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