Opinion: Pondering Pixar Place

So, as literally every other blog in the tri-county area has already noticed, Toy Story Land opened to guests this past weekend. I wasn’t there, but I saw the videos of the crowds and heard some of the remarks from the opening ceremony.

While, TSL is great and all, it got it’s third attraction by rerouting its queue area from the previously spartan Pixar Place to the new land… so now the aforementioned land is home to some restrooms and the back side of Toy Story Mania. Really? That seems like a pretty big waste of space for what is essentially the gateway to Star Wars Land… kind of like their so-called “Grand Avenue” but without anything remotely of interest.

Obviously, there are an infinite number of ways Disney can utilize this unimpressive corridor (in which only the right side is usable due to the left housing TGMR/Mickey’s Runaway Railroad). Rumors point to it being themed to either Monsters Inc. or The Incredibles, either works for me, though part of me wishes they’d bring back Streets of America to make a grand entrance to SWL.

If I were to venture a guess, I’d say Monstropolis as they can move their Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor attraction from Tomorrowland (where it never should have been in the first place) into one of the open buildings on the left with the old Toy Story Mania queue area being converted into a M&G for Mike and Sully (which used to be hidden on the far backside of Streets of America) with the rest simply being decorations (unless they want to do a show/additional M&Gs in the cul-de-sac

Personally, I suspect the newly announced “Lightning McQueen Racing Academy” show is a short-term test for a larger Cars Land type expansion from the back of Sunset Blvd to the area behind Animation Courtyard as a way to more evenly distribute guests coming to SWL (yes, I know any such expansion wouldn’t open for 1-2 years after SWL).

The only problem with this idea is it reduces the park to Pixar/Frozen/Star Wars. Granted, they’ll likely have to find new attractions to replace the various SW clip shows as well as the Launch Bay area itself (which, unlike some Park Watchers, I don’t see being sucked into some hypothetical Monstropolis/Metrocity [The Incredibles] or even my own Cars Land Idea). I think the current Ewok village near Indie is likely staying put for the foreseeable future.

Back to my original point, I don’t know what (if anything) they’ll do with Pixar Place. However, the possibilities are almost endless (I kinda like the idea of a Zootopia area), but I think we can all agree, the worst thing they can do with it is nothing…

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Rumors and Possibilities

Note: I am unable to take photos in the parks for the next few weeks due to a broken shoulder, a sprained leg… and a Silver Pass which prevents me from attending the entire month of July and part of August so I may post more of these in the interim. #sorry

 

Orlando Weekly is reporting on rumors of Monsters Inc. (replacing Rock & Roller Coaster), The Incredibles (redub of WEDway People Mover and possible reuse some of those scenes from The Incredible Tomorrowland Expo on the Tomorrowland Speeedway) and possibly Wall-E themed attractions coming to MK’s Tommorowland.

Theme Park Tourist is reporting on them building the (unnecessary) Mary Poppins dark ride ride that this reposted article from 2015 chastises them for not building, but I’m still kinda hoping for a Wall-E or The Rocketeer (or both if they ditched Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin AND moved Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor to the aforementioned Monstropolis area at DHS) at Tomorrowland, and Big Hero 6 in Epcot (which they SHOULD have rethemed Universe of Energy to: Hiro and Tadeshi explains energy and conservation).

While not mentioned in either article, I’d also like to see a Bolt and/or Zootopia attraction at DHS (they could put them in the same area if they wanted), a Moana themed ride/show in Adventure Land (I would’ve said The Jungle Book, but they already screwed that up once) and a Coco ride in Epcot (Mexico) and possibly an Inside/Out ride in the abandoned Wonders of Life pavilion (similar to Cranium Command).

 

BREAKING: Literally as I’m writing this post, I saw a notification rom Blog Mickey (and confirmed by Disney Parks Blog) that a new Cars theme show is opening next year at DHS called “Lightening McQueen’s Racing Academy” though no other information has been released yet.

Opinion: Housing the Magic

Rumors are swirling around that Disney is planning to bring their popular “Mickey and the Magician” show over from Disneyland Paris when it (the show not the park) closes in September. Orlando Weekly gave three possible locations, all in DHS as that had the most amount of wasted space (and the only usable space for the show at MK being turned back into a parking lot).

 

Animation Courtyard: I don’t see them closing “Disney Jr Live on Stage” (which they say is being “refurbished” later this year), but they could conceivably close “The Little Mermaid” show (surprised they didn’t do that years ago) thinking the dark ride in MK was enough. Also, since the backstage area of “Mermaid” is big enough to accommodate large props and several human actors, this is the most likely of the suggested places.

Hollywood Blvd: Another suggestion, which they immediately dismissed, was to move the Frozen show out of the Hyperion Theatre to an undefined new location. Not going to happen, the show is far too popular for that. If the criminally underused theater that used to house “Sounds Dangerous with Drew Carey” and is now a Star Wars clip show was larger, I might put the M&TM show in there.

Sunset Blvd: The OW writer suggested they could enclose the Theater of the Stars venue to protect the screens used in the show from rain. Another idea is the opposite of what they did last year – house the M&TM show in Sunset Blvd during the morning/mid-afternoon (they can market it like “Fantasmic” for kids who can’t stay up late enough to see “Fantasmic”) and the B&TB show in the late afternoon to evening. The problem with this idea is it draws more people to that part of the park while “Fantasmic” is showing making the already crowded area more congested.

 

Two additional venues they hadn’t listed:

Animation Courtyard: Yes, I already listed two possible locations there, BUT there is a hidden theater at the back of Star Wars Launch bay (said theater coincidently houses another Star Wars clip show) that could easily be expanded once it comes time to retheme the area come 2019 (the article gave no timetable for the show’s move).

Fantasyland: This is the most obvious choice thematically for the show, but where would they put it?

If only there was a show with a similar theme (a character being sucked into the worlds of other Disney cartoons) that was modestly crowded, despite its central location, that could easily be switched out without a lot of fanfare.

Commentary: What should play in this theater?

Nerdist of all sites had a speculation post on Facebook this morning about the new theater under construction behind Main Street USA. They suggested Frozen (based on its success at DHS/DCA), The Lion King (which just finished a year-long run at Shanghai Disneyland), Mary Poppins (from the popular Broadway/touring productions), Moana (from the popular movie and upcoming show at Shanghai DL) and Aladdin (as the previous occupant of DCA’s Hyperion Theater) as possible choices.

From that list, there are only two that seem even vaguely plausible: Moana and Aladdin. As the story suggests, Moana has popular songs by the current “it” songwriter… but Aladdin spent 13 years at the Hyperion – that’s a damn good track record! As for the others, Frozen is already well represented in both DHS and Epcot, whereas The Lion King already has a show at DAK. Mary Poppins, despite her new movie and upcoming addition to the UK pavilion at Epcot, is simply too much of a dark horse for such a high-profile location.

While Aladdin or Moana are two of the most likely candidates, we cannot forget about other shows that could resurrect from their theme park graves like: Tarzan Rocks (DAK, 1999-2006), Pocahontas (DAK, 1998-2008), Tangled (Disney cruise line, 2017-) or even moving Finding Nemo: The Musical to a presumably larger, more prestigious venue.

But while Nerdist wants to see MP, I feel like it’s bit of a reach. There is nothing stopping them from reaching so why not Big Hero 6: The Musical (yes, I know, they have problems with the Baymax suit, but a story focused on Hiro/Tadeshi could work) or even Treasure Planet as that film, like The Emperor’s New Groove, has developed somewhat of a cult following over the years.

Personally, I think they’d be better off rotating the shows on a regular basis with special shows at night to help draw crowds AWAY from the castle, like how they repurposed Theater of the Stars for a “Pixar symphony” over the summer, but they could also do special Disney Villians show for Halloween or a Frozen Holiday Celebration, etc.

I agree with other Mouse watchers that it will likely be Aladdin, Frozen or Moana, but what shows would YOU like to see?

Opinion: Goodbye, Ellen and TGMR

So today, Sunday, August 13th, is the last day to ride both “The Great Movie Ride” (an opening day attraction) and “Ellen’s Energy Adventure” …to be replaced by a Mickey Mouse dark ride and Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster respectively.

I’m open for change at Disney parks, but getting rid of either of these rides makes ZERO sense timing wise. September is the beginning of the Food & Wine Festival – the busiest time of year for Epcot, and the WORST possible time to close an attraction in the so-called “Future World.” Whereas, closing TGMR now is an even worse idea because that brings the park down to FOUR rides (Tower of Terror, Rock n’ Roller Coaster, Toy Story Mania and Star Tours).

I have no real deep emotional connection to either ride because the TCM update basically killed TGMR for me and Ellen’s ride was so laughably outdated that it burns any good will it may have accumulated in its notoriously bloated run time, and yet both of which could be easily fixed with half the effort or expense of starting fresh.

Seriously, how hard could it be to get Bill and Ellen back on that soundstage or if they really want something new retheme it to BH6 or Meet the Robinsons – anything but GOTG… and this link goes over some quick and easy fixes to TGMR.

I was hoping to spend this week trying to get some new shots of the new Grand Avenue section peeking up beyond the soon to be taken down construction walls… but, sadly, I can’t afford to stay on property right now as I’m still paying off my Knoebels trip (with a two day “layover” in Miami) from last month…

Opinion: Epcot updates from D23

Everyone else is talking about the new Guardians of the Galaxy (which I’d rather see in either Tomorrowland or DHS) and Tron rides, but I’m probably the only person on the internet excited about the recently announced restaurant at the newly expanded Mission Space attraction and the new upgraded film at the China pavilion (the French pavilion needs it more as their new ride will apparently be in a separate, newly constructed show building).

I love the Coral Reef Restaurant and The Skippers’ Canteen, but I really love the idea of dining on a space station overlooking Earth and the other planets. I can’t speak for the food, but if the other two are any indication, the prices will be “out of this world.”

GotG is being installed in the Universe of Energy pavilion which isn’t necessarily the best idea as there are better ways to update the tired “Ellen’s Energy Adventure” (closing August 13th) than turning it into a roller coaster and/or dark ride. My idea was to have Tadeshi educate Hiro about energy – this works for TWO reasons: 1) the characters are super popular at Epcot, and 2) they fit with the educational theme of the park. Bonus, 3) they could keep the dinosaurs! Kids love dinosaurs!

I’ve been calling for an import of the Ratatouille ride for years and while I’m super excited to finally ride it stateside, there’s not much new I can add at this point that I haven’t said 100x before either here or on any of the various Disney forums I subscribe to.

Memorial Day Weekend Update

Saturday is the official opening of Pandora: The World of Avatar at DAK. I was in the park when they were filming The View previewing it’s opening, but while it looks pretty when it isn’t crowded, this weekend isn’t going to be one of them. In fact, I will not set foot in the park until at least October or even December and, even then, it will probably still be packed.

Another place that will be packed is Universal’s Volcano Bay. It’s a brand-new water park and it’s walking distance to two of their main hotels (the others will offer a free shuttle service). Everything I’ve seen or heard about it makes it sound awesome…but I’m not sold on buying an expensive “3-park pass” to enter it (which is cool if you haven’t been to the other parks in a while, but for a park photog like me, it isn’t much of a deal).

Of course, LEGO Land Florida is opened it’s newest theme area (such as they are) “Ninjago” last month and their 2nd hotel The LEGO Land Beach Resort back in January. However, this weekend, is the opening of their water park.

I’m sure SeaWorld Orlando is doing something special, but I’m not sure what. However, as it is the “Last Sunday of the month,” expect Animal Rights Florida to be outside their main gate for at least most of the day.