Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Grumpy Mumblings - The Week of Rumors

Chances are you've heard about all of this by now, but the rumormill has been running rampant all week. John Frost at the Disney Blog has two posts up about some BIG changes to Fantasyland and some overall plans for Walt Disney World (including new RFID technology that could revolutionize the industry if the plans come to fruition.)

Personally, I'm a little skeptical about these plans.

The plans for Fantasyland seem to involve expanding over the current Ariel's Grotto area back to the service road and encompassing (and possibly totally eliminating) Toontown. This is belivable although does sound an awful lot like fan-fiction kind of stuff since I know Disney has always claimed to have a good reason to not extend to the service road (the need to move the train tracks being one such reason.) Plans call for...
  • An expansion of Pixie Hollow (Perfectly plausible since it's extremely popular.)
  • A Cinderella meet and greet (Once again plausible since she already has one but the plans put it nowhere near the Castle or the restaurant, which is just illogical and creates the problemof people seeing Cinderella in two places at once.)
  • A Sleeping Beauty meet and greet (This one I like less but it would make sense if it's part of a whole "Princess Greeting Experience" which is what they seem to be doing. Basically it's gonna look like a Princess version of Pixie Hollow.
  • An expanded Ariel meet and greet along with a LITTLE MERMAID DARK RIDE. (This is where the train comes off the tracks for me. The Little Mermaid ride has long been toyed with but was considered so dead that Disney "released" an artist's rendering of it as a bonus feature on the Little Mermaid DVD. If someone was to fake plans for a Fantasyland expansion, this is something they would put on it.
  • A Belle meet and greet and "Be Our Guest" restaurant with "Gaston's Tavern" next door. (This one I don't believe for a second. It sounds like a great idea and was one that I've always included in my own "fan fiction" Fantasyland plans and that's the very reason I don't see it happening. Fantasyland already has a full service restaurant and a quick service spot. I'm not saying that Fantasyland couldn't use more places to eat but with such limited space as it is and the intention being to build a land to rival Wizarding World of Harry Potter, unless they plan to build stuff on multiple levels, it seems like a huge waste of space to open two new restaurants.)
  • As an addendum to my last point, the original "blue sky" plans called for an e-ticket attraction that no longer seems to be in the works. They eliminated the E-TICKET and kept the FAST FOOD RESTAURANT!?! Not buying it.
There are also rumors about some more changes coming around Walt Disney World...
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth is supposed to be coming to Animal Kingdom from Tokyo DisneySea. (Say it with me "BEASTLY KINGDOM." The long dead rumor rears its ugly head with a new name. I'm not saying this would be a bad idea because it would be awesome. All I'm saying is until I hear it from John Lassiter's notarized tongue, I'm not buying it.)
  • Wide World of Sports will have more ESPN branding including some worthwhile experiences (think "Characters in Flight") and possible re-theming of the Legendary Years to involve sports. (Now think about this one for a second. Disney needs to ESPN-brand a hotel so they opt to do it with Pop's Legendary Years. On one hand it could kind of work with the 1920's having a Babe Ruth theme, the 1940's being about Seabiscuit or something. But why in the world would Disney screw up the integrity to the theme of Pop Century when they could just rebrand the All Star SPORTS Resort that they already have? Doesn't jive.)
  • Pleasure Island will have some new tenants to make it worthwhile to visit any time of day. Also an IMAX Theater is coming somewhere. (This I actually believe 100% and I've been saying it's the way they should go for a year now.)
  • A former Epcot executive is now apparently in charge of creating a second generation Pal Mickey, only now using RFID technology to let various parts of the park know that you are in them so they could interact with you. The example given is that on, say, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Pooh would be able to say your name. (This is a VERY interesting idea. Disney could always know the number of people in line for a ride, know who visits what attractions a lot in a given day and therefore suggest stuff for future days, even know where people eat, which shows they like, etc. Some people might get a "big brother" feel from it but I think it's awesome. It also sounds like something that's a LONG way from being implemented but it could be a huge deal when it is.)
So, all that having been said, I think there are some great ideas in there but really the only stuff I see happening is the Princess area (though I don't believe it's expanding to the access road or into Toontown) and the WWS/PI/RFID stuff. I'm not buying that they're building a Little Mermaid ride until the day I set foot in it. (BTW, they recycled the cars and the main design element for The Seas with Nemo's dark ride. So they'd have to retool the entire attraction to make it work. Not happening, folks. Sorry.)

Now, this is all just picking apart rumors on the surface and not even getting into the insanity of rebranding Fantasyland to be ENTIRELY for girls and throwing the boys over to Adventureland and Tomorrowland. I could rant for awhile about this (though, really, I don't mind Fantasyland being princess heavy since most of the appropriate stories are about princesses anyway) but that is a column for another time.

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