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I’ve long told my wife that when our Bricker Banana Stand business makes it big (someone told me there’s “always money in the banana stand”…this has not proven true for us), we would sponsor Journey Into Imagination at Epcot, and ensure that it received a proper refurbishment. If all went according to plan, this would just be the first step of our plan, as Bricker Banana Stand Co. would become a modern day Kodak in the parks, sponsoring everything from postcards to the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover. As business continues to flounder, perhaps because of all the frozen bananas with double the chocolate, nuts, and two sticks we’re giving out to relatives, this dream seems out of reach. Of course, I can always dream, so here are the changes I would make if I were playing “Walt Disney World Tycoon,” and could make as many changes as I wanted, without the pesky constraints of reality. While I don’t want to come across as the type who constantly complains about Disney, I don’t think a little constructive criticism (or a fun hypothetical) ever hurt anyone.
Making these changes Rollercoaster Tycoon style benefits Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios the most, where attractions will be lifted and moved with complete and utter disregard for the logistical improbability (impossibility?) of such moves.
The first move is removing Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, which will be dropped into Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Pixar Place. This will occur as part of a massive overhaul to Tomorrowland that will give the land a Retro-Futuristic theme. In the place of the Laugh Floor, we’ll add a witty audio animatronics alien-and-robot variety show that can best be described as Kitchen Kabaret meets Plectu’s Fantastic Galactic Revue meets 1960s visions of space and the future. Sonny Eclipse’s show at Cosmic Ray’s will be re-recorded to mesh with the storyline of the variety show, and add backstory to Tomorrowland.
The Stitch overlay will be removed from Stitch’s Great Escape, with the Stitch AA being sent to the roof of the Adventureland Veranda to add to the spitting motif of Adventureland. Actually, scratch that. The Stitch AA will be repurposed for an all-new show from X-S Tech in this space. To avoid history repeating itself, the dark humor and wit of the original Alien Encounter will be present, but scares will not. Carousel of Progress will be redone to feature the 1900s, 1920s, 1940s, and the future as (hilariously) predicted by the 1960s. The Tomorrowland Transit Authority will receive new show scenes and have some of its lulls of dark hallway filled with cheeky posters that add to the backstory of the land.
That’s enough construction walls in Tomorrowland for the moment, so let’s head to Adventureland. First order of business: adios, Aladdin spinner! Jungle Cruise will also receive an extensive refurbishment aimed at bringing the attraction into the 21st century. The humor will remain, but not as much of it will be self-deprecating with Skippers poking fun at the sad state of the attraction itself. Other enhancements aimed at beautifying Adventureland will restore water features to give the land more kinetic energy.
Magic Kingdom has plenty of other problem areas that need addressing, but rather than fixating on a modernization of Fantasyland, we’ll move on to Epcot…
EPCOT Center’s original version of the future world isn’t a post apocalyptic one, so the tombstones are the first thing to go here. Next stop is Spaceship Earth, where the 2007 refurbishment will finally be finished–with more than just touchscreens. The manatee presence at The Living Seas will be increased, because manatees are that awesome (okay, maybe this isn’t paramount to the plan, but it’s a pet project!). Pixar won’t be forced to vacate the pavilion, but the ride-through attraction could use some enhancements (perhaps a new Pixar-created manatee?!) so that it rivals its sister-attraction at Disneyland.
The Imagination pavilion is the first big stop, where the whole pavilion will go down to replace the comically-dated Captain EO with a new 3D film featuring Figment, and to gut the Journey into Imagination building and replace the ride with a version worthy of, and referential to, the original. It will be an entirely new attraction featuring the original, non-annoying Figment and a modernized Dreamfinder. The pavilion’s upstairs area will be utilized featuring hands-on displays and a Walt Disney Imagineering Blue Sky Playground to share new technology that showcases the power of the imagination.
In Future World, other projects will include the reclamation of Wonders of Life from seasonal and special events and a new film for Soarin’ that has guests departing Florida for a trip that flies them over the countries of the World Showcase.
World Showcase will receive plenty of attention, namely, the addition of attractions in Japan (an exciting ride on the Shinkansen, which is interrupted by Yōkai), France (a Ratatouille wild mouse ‘kitchen’ ride), and Germany (the storied Rhine River Cruise, featuring an encounter with the Lorelei). These attractions plus the addition of specialty bars in each country, and expansion of the Outpost to capitalize on seasonal offerings in Epcot, should not only improve World Showcase, but improve its bottom line.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The Sorcerer’s Hat will be torn down (not moved…too many bad memories!), giving Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards more thematic consistency. Given the obscene waits at Toy Story Mania, more family-friendly rides will be added to the Studios, replacing the Backlot Tour and Lights, Motors, Action! with a considerable expansion to Pixar Place to balance out the park. Pixar Place will not receive its own Cars Land, which will stay exclusive to Disneyland Resort. Instead, Pixar Place will receive a large-scale Up attraction that will feature Dug’s misadventures as he searches for Kevin; the attraction will utilize technology from Pooh’s Honey Hunt in Tokyo Disneyland. In the second family ride, guests will board the Pizza Planet truck on a montage-based dark ride through its various adventures. All of this in addition to the Laugh Floor relocated to Pixar Place from Magic Kingdom. This much Pixar might upset purists, but Pixar is Disney, and right now, it’s the best part of Disney.
The MuppetVision 3D area of the Studios will be expanded to a Muppets Studios land, dusting off many concepts that nearly came to fruition in the early 1990s including the addition of the Great Muppets Movie Ride, and Great Gonzo Pandemonium Pizza Parlor replacing Pizza Planet. Star Tours and Indiana Jones Adventure will form the basis for LucasFilm Studios, which will also include the retheming of Backlot Express to Mos Eisley Cantina and the transformation of the old Sounds Dangerous building into an enhanced Jedi Training Academy.
Other concepts for the Studios would include new scenes for Great Movie Ride pulled from classic films and a participatory attraction highlighting greenscreen, motion capture, and other technologies used in the movies to replace the American Idol Experience.
To address concerns that it’s presently too similar to a zoo, three dark rides would be added to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Two of these will be found in “Cryptid Sanctuary,” a new land which will replace Camp Minnie-Mickey (with Festival of the Lion King moving to Africa). One will simulate the flight of the Griffin as it flies around attempting to guard the jewels of its kingdom, and the other will center around a yet undetermined mythical creature’s attempt to avoid “extinction” at the hands of early-human hunters.
DinoLand U.S.A. is the other area that will have significant changes made. Gone will be the off-the-shelf carnival attractions and contrived Chester and Hester versus Dino Institute rivalry. In its place will be one cohesive land that explores the majestic nature of dinosaurs. This heavily renovated area will receive a family friendly ‘walking with dinosaurs’ type ride to replace the Chester and Hester area. Animal Kingdom will also finally receive a nighttime light parade.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list of the changes I’d make to Walt Disney World if I were not constrained by the realities of “budgets,” “return on investment,” and things of that sort, I feel it’s a good start. Note that no new family suites, themed hotel rooms, or Disney Vacation Club properties were added as part of this ‘tycoon’ experiment. While I understand the revenue-generating nature of these items, I feel these areas have been adequately (and then some) addressed in the last decade-plus, at the expense of capital expenditures in the theme parks. It’s time to focus on the real reason that guests visit Walt Disney World Resort, which, I feel, is what the above changes do.
What do you think of my changes and additions? What would you do if you were “playing” Walt Disney World Theme Park Tycoon?