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Disneyland/World and Universal parks discussion thread (where the magic never ends... until a ride you loved is knocked down and replaced with something lame)

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As I wrote in another thread, I'd thought the other day about starting a discussion dedicated to thoughts, memories, news and rumours relating to Disney and Universal's theme parks worldwide. Stupidly I forgot to do so ahead of D23 as I knew we were going to get to EPCOT and Hollywood Studio regeneration news, along with updates on Star Wars land...etc. Turns out we got a good deal more too. 

 

I know we've certainly got a few big fans of the parks here, and though I have not had a chance to return to Orlando since 1994, or to California since 2002 I am always trying to keep up with news and developments in the parks. The Orlando parks would practically seem alien to me today and I'm really hoping I can get over there in 2019 or 2020. 

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So some non-Star Wars/Marvel bits to come out of D23 first.

 

At the Magic Kingdom, the TRON Legacy lightcycle ride from Disneyland Shangai is being ported to Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom in Florida. It was initially rumoured that this might come to EPCOT, but I'm glad it's going to Tomorrowland as that section could do with something new. It's going to occupy a new space opposite Space Mountain as seen in the concept art below:

 

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The ride building design is pretty much identical to Shangai. Below is an on-ride video:

 

 

 

A new theatre building to house live performances will be coming to Main Street at the Magic Kingdom:

 

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If the image of the theater looks familiar, that’s because the new entertainment venue will be based on the iconic Willis Wood theater in 1920s Kansas City, where Walt lived after he left Marceline. And as you can see from the design, it’ll fit well right off Main Street, U.S.A.

 

“Across  Walt Disney Park Resorts, we’ve been upping the game in Entertainment with shows like Frozen Live at the Hyperion,” Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts said. “It’s been a huge hit at the Disneyland Resort, and I’m sure many of you have seen it. This new theater at Walt Disney World continues that streak by bringing a new venue for world-class entertainment to the world’s biggest park.”

 

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More from D23.

 

Staying with Orlando news but moving to Hollywood studios, the Great Movie Ride will finally close this August. The Chinese Theatre facade will remain, but the ride will now house Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway, which Disney are promising will be one of their most ambitious and creative rides to date. Bizarrely this is their first ever Mickey Mouse ride too. The concept revolves around guests entering the Chinese Theatre to see a new Mickey Mouse movie, only to be pulled into the film and all that calamity that plays out. The character styles will be based on the new Mickey Mouse cartoons.

 

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Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will feature a new story and a new singable attraction theme song as well as a new experience we’re calling “2 1/2 D.” No glasses required. Walt Disney Imagineer Kevin Rafferty said teams are inventing new technologies that turn the flat world of a colorful cartoon short into a “dimensional display of amazingness.”

 

“This is one of the boldest…most impossible things I’ve ever worked on in almost 40 years of being an Imagineer. And you know what? That’s what I love about it. Well, that, and Mickey,” Kevin said. “This is not going to be a small attraction, it’s going to be game-changing.”

 

As you plan ahead, we also wanted to let you know that in order to begin to prepare the new home of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway at the Chinese Theatre in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, August 13, 2017 will be the final day of operation for The Great Movie Ride presented by Turner Classic Movies. Until August 13, you can still relive some of the greatest movie moments in history on the Great Movie Ride attraction.

 

 

 

Love the applause when they say it will not require 3D glasses. 

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D23 news for EPCOT....

 

Quite a lot to cover here. EPCOT has long seemed like the bastard child of Disney parks in Orlando, at least for the last 15 years since some of the classic rides of the 80s and early 90s began to show their age and were replaced. I'm still immensely sad Horizons never got a reboot, and I still hope it might one day, but at least Disney are giving the park some serious attention, even if it now means bringing in a lot of franchise and movie related stuff into the park. 

 

So, firstly, Future World is going to get a substantial re-design. I can't find much detail about the intended finish date for this, or indeed what's staying and what's going. Quite a bit has been rumoured recently, but I'll save that for other posts later. Concept art below captured by Insidethemagic.net at the D23 presentation:

 

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Next, this I really like as it's not tied to any movie or anything, a new restaurant will be opening near to Mission Space, which seat guests within a Space Station like environment with a 306 degree view out over Earth below.

 

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The restaurant, which will be located adjacent to the park’s Mission: SPACE attraction, will invite guests to travel into space for amazing dining experiences in the stars. Walt Disney Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald shared a first look at the restaurant during the Walt Disney World Resorts presentation at D23 EXPO 2017. 

 

“We know our guests love dining at Epcot – and the restaurants really are out of this world,” Tom said. “Now we’re about to create one that takes that literally.” 

 

The new space restaurant will be operated by the Patina Restaurant Group. Patina Restaurant Group operates several other restaurants at Walt Disney World including Tutto Italia and Via Napoli at Epcot and Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs.

 

 

Onto the rides. The ancient Universe of Energy will finally close this summer (13th August). The ride building is thankfully being kept intact (it was always a great looking building), but it will now house a brand new Guardians of the Galaxy ride, completely different to the one at California Adventure that replaced Tower of Terror). Universe of Energy is a HUGE building and apparently much of it will be dedicated to the queue area now with the actual ride building built onto the existing structure at the rear.

 

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Next, over in the World Showcase a new circlevision movie will be coming to the China pavilion, but for now it is France that will be seeing the most notable expansion with the addition of a Ratatouille ride. This ride will be a direct port of the one at Disney Studios in Paris. It's a trackless ride (sadly it requires 3D glasses). You can watch a ride video below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New transport systems are coming to the Magic Kingdom. The most notable of these is a skyline/gondola which will connect several of the hotels to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. The gondolas will have memorable character designs on them:

 

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Disney are also setting up their own "Minnie" van taxi service to transport guests to anywhere they desire to go within the Magic Kingdom. 

 

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It's been 1995 since I've been to Disney World.  I have to hear 2nd hand every one else's experiences.  Sucks that I have to live vicariously through other people.  And I have heard one thing consistently: the older you get, the more you appreciate Epcot.  Because alcohol and worldly foods. :-)

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We leave for Florida on Wednesday. We're spending two days at Disneyworld and going to Magic Kingdom and Epcot, I believe.  My wife was in charge of doing that part. I haven't been to Florida in 15 years and Disney specifically since the 3rd grade, which has been about 30 years. We are really looking forward to it. 

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My plan is to go in a few years to Florida when the newer attractions open. I have never been there.

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I've been 3 times. 

 

The kids and I don't like Disney parks... they get bored. EPCOT is specially a huge waste of money.  Disney Hollywood is the most decent of the 5 or so parks they have in Orlando.

We enjoy Universal way way more than Disney.

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, Dimness said:

It's been 1995 since I've been to Disney World.  I have to hear 2nd hand every one else's experiences.  Sucks that I have to live vicariously through other people.  And I have heard one thing consistently: the older you get, the more you appreciate Epcot.  Because alcohol and worldly foods. :-)

 

EPCOT is a fascinating park, or was, and certainly has a fascinating history (Walt himself imagined it as a social community where people would live rather than it being another park). It's crazy to me that Disney neglected it over the years as sci-fi and technology are such huge parts of our culture you'd think a technologically driven sci-fi park would be a sensational hit all year round. The original rides were really something great too, in fact Horizons and Journey into the Imagination are up there as some of my fondest Disney park memories. It was a shame to see Horizons go. I know it was getting dated, but it could so easily be redone in future.

 

 

 

STUNNING building too. All of the future world buildings are striking (again, I'm glad Guardians will retain the old Wonders of Life building). That's quite a unique thing about EPCOT that the Future World rides were in single vast buildings, rather than in huge buildings hidden behind smaller entrance facades.

 

It's exciting to know Future World is getting a long overdue redo. I'm keen to know more about what will change. Rumours suggest The Seas will undergo further Finding Nemo theming renovation by having it resemble the Marine Life Institute from Finding Dory. It's also been claimed that Journey into Imagination will become an Inside Out based ride (that's actually a terrific idea), but apparently Disney are looking to retain Figment and have him be a part of a new 3D movie attraction in the park as they know how beloved he was. It's a shame Billy Barty is no longer around to voice him if they do indeed plan to do something new with the character in future.

 

Not even rumours have any hint of what the hell could happen to the Innoventions and Wonders of Life pavilions and that's perhaps what I am most keen to hear about in future as those are huge spaces just sitting there (Innoventions looks utterly lame and desolate from videos I have seen, while Wonders of Life is just a shell now, only used for seasonal food festival events).

 

It's probably going to be a good four to five years for EPCOT to get its groove back. 

 

2 hours ago, JoeyN said:

My plan is to go in a few years to Florida when the newer attractions open. I have never been there.

 

I'm aiming for 2019 or 2020 myself, yes. Should be a good time to go for new attractions at both Disney and Universal parks. I have airmiles stacked up, but money needs to be saved for park entry, hotels...etc...etc.

 

1 hour ago, AlbertA said:

I've been 3 times. 

 

The kids and I don't like Disney parks... they get bored. EPCOT is specially a huge waste of money.  Disney Hollywood is the most decent of the 5 or so parks they have in Orlando.

 

We enjoy Universal way way more than Disney.

 

 

Universal is looking very strange to me these days, with so much of what populates the parks not even Universal owned IPs, and such reliance on attractions requiring 3D glasses. WTF is 'Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket' (what an eyesore) and ughhh to the recent Jimmy Kimmel ride. Despite that, they still have a lot of stuff I'm keen to see. Islands of Adventure did not exist when I was last in Orlando, and I'd like to go on that Mummy ride, though that shows up just how long it has been since I was last there if a thirteen year old attraction based on a movie that's already had another remake/reboot could be considered "new" to me. It could well be gone by the time I finally go back.

 

I think Disney are beginning to respond properly to Universal leading the charge for the past 15yrs in having the best technology driving new attractions. The Mickey and Minnie ride sounds really promising, and I think the studios will end up their most popular park in Florida come 2019 (Toy Story Land opens next year, then of course Star Wars the year after, and Tower of Terror remains intact). Disney also seem to want to resist rides requiring 3D glasses too which I applaud them for (Ratatouille in Paris and now Star Tours everywhere are the only two I can think of).

 

I agree Disney Anaheim is better than the Magic Kingdom, there's just something... original... about it. You can almost feel the difference the moment you hit Main St. It has the better versions of Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain too, a far more distinctive building facade for the Haunted Mansion, plus Indiana Jones is a magnificent ride you'd otherwise have to go to Tokyo Disney Sea to experience (I'm surprised they never brought that to the studios park in Orlando, or ported the Indiana Jones mine cart coaster over from Paris to Orlando). I like the look of the Fantasyland redo at the Orlando park, they seem to have done a nice job there. Hopefully Tron is the first sign of sprucing up Tomorrowland though as that needs a rethink in some areas. Why the hell does the Stitch's Great Escape attraction even exist anymore? It's on seasonal operation now so surely can't have much life left, but what could replace it?

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I love Disneyland, hate Florida's Magic Kingdom.  Everything just seems so... truncated at Magic Kingdom.  

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I'm borderline obsessed with Disney (and Universal) Parks. Especially lately with the arms race Universal and Disney have been on, and all the major rumours that have been going around. This weekend has been hard to keep up with all the D23 Expo news.

 

I have made 5 trips to California with visits to Disneyland, Universal, Knotts, Six Flags Magic Mountain and Seaworld contained in those. The last one was in 2007. 

 

I've been to Orlando 3 times and have visited all 4 Disney Parks, Typhoon Lagoon, both Universal parks and Kennedy Space Center. Last trip was in 2013. 

 

I have also been to Disneyland Paris and the Studios Park in 2015. 

 

Im glad to have a dedicated thread for this (we've talked a bit about theme parks in the Disney acquiring LucasFilm thread and the Nintendo/Universal thread). I look forward to Angry and I have some good discussions. 

 

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EPCOT might have been cool in the 80's but in this decade, it's super outdated. Only little kiddie rides, overwhelmed with country themed gift shops.

 

But I see why they are putting Guardians of the Galaxy there... they need something to keep the park operating and force you to stay more days - because let's face it... with park hopping you end up wasting tons of time, so you usually just end up dedicating one day to a park. 

 

I do want to go back to Disney once Star Wars Land opens up however :)

 

As for Universal, a lot of those 3D rides though are really well done though especially the Harry Potter stuff. Escape from Gringotts is the best mix of rollercoaster with simulator blend. I was really impressed with it. The Mummy is an excellent ride too - we probably did that one about 10 times in a day.

Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket looks cartoonish and probably out of place but damn it's a great but short rollercoaster. 

Skull Island: Reign of Kong is pretty cool ride+simulator with a nice huge face animatronic at then end. 

 

But that's us we get way more mileage out of a Universal ticket than a Disney one.

 

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, AlbertA said:

EPCOT might have been cool in the 80's but in this decade, it's super outdated. Only little kiddie rides, overwhelmed with country themed gift shops.

 

But I see why they are putting Guardians of the Galaxy there... they need something to keep the park operating and force you to stay more days - because let's face it... with park hopping you end up wasting tons of time, so you usually just end up dedicating one day to a park. 

 

 

No argument from me on those points. It's highly doubtful that I would visit EPCOT at this time were I to go to Orlando. Test Track always looked a little odd to me. Do you like that ride? The design seems clever but the premise rather weak and out of place for Future World. Mission: Space looks interesting and yet somewhat underwhelming at the same time, and I am glad Spaceship Earth remains, but what else is there? I'm not a Frozen fan so the ride that replaced the Maelstrom in the Norwegian pavilion is of little appeal. Once we know more about the Future World re-design and once it is complete I will be keen to go back though, but again I suspect that will be a rehab that takes a good five years to finish.

 

It's good they are adding more rides to the World Showcase pavilions. There's a rumour the England section will get a Mary Poppins ride at some stage which is a nice idea if true. World Showcase is impressive, but I always felt it needed more rides just to please a larger audience it's a good way to draw people to an area they might not otherwise be interested in, and perhaps have them stumble upon something new they like but would have otherwise breezed past. It's definitely smart to bring Ratatouille to the France section.

 

What I always thought was smart about EPCOT in the 80s and early 90s was that they head great rides that could actually subtly educate guests along the way, and again being a technology and science based park you'd have thought it would have been constantly updated but that never happened, Disney just didn't know what to do with it which was just baffling to me. Over the last decade+ as I have watched its decline from a distance I kept wondering why they don't give George Lucas or James Cameron a call for some ideas to inject new life into the place. I hope some new Future World attractions do inherent the old idea of exploring science and fururism both throughout history and where we might be in 100s of years time (Horizons encapsulated that vision perfectly), and environmental concerns are such a big deal to a lot of people these days you'd think the park could also have so much more dedicated to the use of greener energy. It doesn't matter if they use Disney characters to pursue those concepts. 

 

EPCOT was always a haven for loves of dark rides like myself too, though I don't object to them adding more thrills to the park. It's only right given audience expectations and competition from other parks. Still, they can have all that and still seize on making the park utterly unique, and Disney do seem wise to what old EPCOT fans always loved about the place, so I hope renovations and additions in future are respectful of its past whilst embracing the future.

 

 

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Getting back to the big stuff from D23, Nick shared the bulk of this in one of the Star Wars threads but it's obviously worth repeating here. We now know Star Wars Land will carry the nickname 'Galaxy's Edge' though I don't believe they have named the new planet and outpost that guests will be roaming around.

 

The lands at both Hollywood Studios in Orlando and Disneyland in Anaheim are said to be virtually identical, the main different being the points of entry. I looked at construction photos and videos of the Florida version and it's clear it will almost, but not directly, connect up with Star Tours (this isn't possible because Muppets Courtyard would be in the way). 

 

 

 

 

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The two rides (concept art above) were already known, one is a Millennium Falcon ride and the other is a First Order attack ride. The entire land will span 14 acres, which is 2 acres bigger than Cars Land at Disney's California Adventure park. Since it will be an entirely immersive section of the park there will of course be cast members in costumes, as well as free roaming animatronic droids as demonstrated on the D23 show floor below:

 

 

 

The recent leaks about a guest survey for an immersvie Star Wars Hotel at the Walt Disney World resort was also confirmed. This is planned to be a 2-3 night experience for guests, though it doesn't appear to be known if this will open alongside or a year or two after Galaxy's Edge itself. Apparently there is space for the hotel near to where the Star Wars land will be, so it's possible the hotel could have its own access point into Hollywood Studios.

 

 

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I can easily imagine this costing upwards of $1000 to cover the stay for a guest for a few days. Disney's premium hotels can already command $450-$500+ a night, and demand for this will be insane. Since it is limited to a few nights stay my guess is they will be able to reset the clock on the experience and have new guests check in on the same day, that way every guests would experience whatever the core story/events that will happen within the hotel. This whole concept is mind boggling.

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In California the big D23 news was an expansion at Disney's California adventure to incorporate an immersive Marvel themed land which will feature Avengers and Spider-man attractions. There's little chance of this being replicated in Florida anytime soon as Universal still hold the licensing rights to have Spider-Man, the core Avengers characters and some others in their parks (and apparently their contract allows them to hold the rights in perpetuity). Disney can use Guardians in Florida as we know from the EPCOT attraction, and they could probably do something with Ant-Man (and maybe Black Panther?) as well as neither property was in Universal's contract.

 

The location of this land is not yet known. Some say it could sit behind the Guardians Break Out ride, or could take over the Bugs Land which sits opposite the tower. Looking at a park map my thinking is it could eat into space both opposite and behind the Guardians ride, as if they just build over Bugs Land it would not leave much room for expansion, although I suppose they could build their first, then build out behind Guardians in future.

 

 

 

In other California news, Paradise Pier at DCA will be re-themed as Pixar Pier in the future, effectively turning the North part of the park into a Pixar land as it's right beside Cars Land. This change will be complete in 2018.

 

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6 hours ago, Angry the Clown said:

Test Track always looked a little odd to me. Do you like that ride? The design seems clever but the premise rather weak and out of place for Future World.

Yes it's very out of place - it's just ok I suppose. It's kinda Similar to Radiator Springs Racers but the Cars ride goes faster and of course in Cars Land it's completely appropriate for the setting :)

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Did you ever ride both versions? The current version I guess they've tried to "future up" with all the Tron like neon. The original version actually looked more impressive theming wise from videos I have seen, but even more out of place as it had a more literal test track design. The current version is going to look and feel even more redundant when Tron hits the Magic Kingdom as that has better effects, is faster, and similarly the track goes outside at the end of the ride. Perhaps when Tron is in place at the main park Test Track will be replaced.

 

It's interesting how both Mission Space and Test Track had such troubled histories. 

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Could be one that has good excuse to use 3D, although the Ratatouille ride kind of does the tricks you'd expect of an Ant Man ride so if they ever did one they'd likely have to do something more unique (although since Ratatouille would just be in Paris and Orlando then they could use the same trackless ride + 3D glasses for an exclusive in California). Right now though an Ant Man ride is just me speculating. You'd think it ideal though.

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2 hours ago, Angry the Clown said:

Did you ever ride both versions? The current version I guess they've tried to "future up" with all the Tron like neon. The original version actually looked more impressive theming wise from videos I have seen, but even more out of place as it had a more literal test track design. The current version is going to look and feel even more redundant when Tron hits the Magic Kingdom as that has better effects, is faster, and similarly the track goes outside at the end of the ride. Perhaps when Tron is in place at the main park Test Track will be replaced.

 

It's interesting how both Mission Space and Test Track had such troubled histories. 

No only the neon version, though I vaguely remember those sections.

 

My kids/wife just went to Universal again last month in an impromptu trip - I couldn't because of work but the kids said the Jimmy Fallon ride sucked :) 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Angry the Clown said:

Or you know what else might be fun? A T2-3D style ant man movie that combined a 3D film and live stage effects. 

That would be neat yes. I actually still like that T2-3D show even though it a bit dated now.

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