Sunday, August 2, 2009

Let's talk about the elephant in the room

So there are rumors that Disney World will be receiving a healthy update over the next five years. an update that will literally transform an area in the Magic Kingdom into something nearly unrecognizable. I'm sure many of you are familiar with these rumors. If not, I'll recap: Disney management is apparently going to stick a shitload of cash into Fantasyland and watch it evolve into a newer, better Fantasyland - as if money were a moonstone. These rumors actually started floating around several years ago, and they've appeared to go full-speed ahead, so I feel like I should share some thoughts. First, let's take a look at what the extensive rehab entails, via WDW News Today:

"Since WDW News Today launched in July 2007, we have reported on rumors that a Little Mermaid dark ride attraction was coming to Fantasyland to replace Pooh’s Playful Spot and Ariel’s Grotto. It is important to keep in mind that this rumor pre-dates any formal announcement that Disney’s California Adventure would be building this long-proposed Disneyland Paris attraction. It seems likely that construction will begin soon in the Magic Kingdom, and the announcement by Disney a few months ago that they were looking for a “one-Disney” experience only bolsters the idea of this voyage “under the sea” taking place on both coasts. If this major addition takes place, it will most likely do more than add a major E-Ticket to the park in late 2011/early 2012, but will also add a large Disney Princess store and meet-and-greet area at the attraction exit (thus allowing the Princesses to leave the perhaps doomed Mickey’s Toontown Fair). This large addition may also force “Dumbo: The Flying Elephant” attraction to move to a new location. If the Little Mermaid dark ride comes to be, we can expect the remainder of the Fantasyland expansion to take place over the 4-5 years following, including: a Mad Tea Party with a new covering reminiscent of Disneyland Paris, the replacement of Snow White’s Scary Adventure with a “Beauty and the Beast” dark ride, and the addition of a Seven Dwarves Mine Train roller-coaster on the land now occupied by the old Fantasyland Skyway building. Also amid the rumored changes for Fantasyland are new facades for most Fantasyland attractions, shedding the “medieval fair” setting, and new visual effects and upgrades being added to both The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan’s Flight.

A competing (perhaps more current) concept follows the floor plans below (found on the Disney Report’s Soft Opening Blog), also adding Princess and Fairy themed areas with minor attractions while removing the entire north side of Mickey’s Toontown Fair. This plan also has Snow White’s Scary Adventure saved by building the Beauty and the Beast dark ride next door to a proposed “Gaston’s” restaurant. This would terminate the castle forecourt theme with a wall leading into the “deep woods” and lands themed to Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Dumbo, and Winnie the Pooh. This plan also includes similar upgrades (mentioned in the first paragraph) to the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, with a new facade matching the look of the Hundred Acre Woods and a new Pooh character meet and greet area across the path. I had not seen this particular version of the plans before this week, but they are quite a bit larger than the plans I had spoken about above, making me skeptical as to how genuine this drawing actually is. We’ll just have to sit back for a little while and wait to see when and where construction walls eventually rise in Fantasyland."

Did you get all that? Good.

First off, let me put this out there: as you may have noticed, I made the word "rumor" in bold throughout this entry. This is because I'm incredibly skeptical that all - if any - of this is going to come to fruition. This is exactly like that Project Gemini shit from 5 years back - the rumored rehab that would change literally every pavilion in the Future World area. The mere mention of "Time Chasers" today sends some into a coma. There is no official word, aside from a blueprint.


So what? This may very well have been fan-made. It's been done before. Which brings me to the first of my reasons to be skeptical about this project: the size makes NO FUCKING SENSE. Is it just me, or does it seem absolutely impossible to fit ALL of this into Fantasyland without fucking destroying parts of every touching land? True, most rumors cite that a chunk of Toontown will be destroyed to make way for the area, but that's not enough space. Someone (brilliantly) took this blueprint and layed it over an aerial shot of Fantasyland. Take a peek (from

Yes, it COULD work. But this, again, is just a blueprint - and it's not even official! Even if it were, it still doesn't mean that every one of these proposed ideas will meet this sense of scale. The Mermaid attraction may very well end up needing twice the space it was planned for. Likewise, it may end up needing less. It's all up in the air.

Point 2) The money. Does Disney really have the kind of dough to afford this kind of renovation? We know Disney is fucking cheap. They refuse to spend a minimal amount to paint the fucking walls at the Maelstrom. So why spend so much on just one sector of a park? The big reason floating around is Harry Potter....the son of a bitch. Universal Studios Florida is using the Islands of Adventure park to create a space dedicated to "The Wizarding World" of this iconic character. I can't begin to say how smart of a business move this is, considering the popularity of the films (and even the novels, 2 years after book 7) is at a high. Disney is worried. This will surely drive away ticket sales, and send Orlando tourists to the cheaper, newly-updated Universal. But is it a cause for concern? Again, I'm a wee skeptical that Disney would pour money into 1/6th of Magic Kingdom just to combat the possible shift in tourism to Universal for a park roughly the same size as that 1/6th of land. Even so, WWoHP will open in roughly 2010. Groundbreaking began in 2007. Disney hasn't even announced any plans for a plan. Even if they hit the ground running and got at least ONE new attraction running by then, it'd still just be one attraction. Another money-related issue circulating (mainly at the forums at is the threat of Disney shelving plans for other projects in other parks. Will this mean that the Monsters, Inc. Doorway Coaster won't happen? Of course not. Disney built Pixar place with plans for more than just Midway Mania. It's long been known the plans to turn Soundstage 1 into a coaster based on the hit film. It'd be foolish for Disney to shelve this one project alone in favor of the Fantasyland redux, let alone the rest of the planned attractions.

This project would alienate the rest of Magic Kingdom, as well as the rest of WDW for many years. But still, I won't believe anything until I hear an official announcement. It still makes no sense that, in the midst of a very expensive refurb for Space Mountain, and smaller refurbs for other shows (Ed. - Living With the Land? What the fuck? Thanks for telling us, guys...) they would have the money or the time to work on something this big. Maybe we'll get one or two of the planned attractions - The Little Mermaid dark ride has been in the rumor mill for a few years now - but I doubt there's anything to get our panties in a twist.