Recently, Disney parks released concept art and details of Pixar Pier in Disney’s California Adventure. Naturally, the reaction online is a bit mixed. Some are excited for new life to be brought into an area of the park which most definitely needs some TLC, while others are upset that an area of the park with nostalgic attractions is being replaced with even more intellectual property. This begs the question, will we ever see any new original Disney attractions that aren’t tied to any kind of existing Disney film, television series or character?
To understand the answer, you’ve got to take a step back and remove yourself from the situation. Forget how you feel about a particular franchise or character. Maybe you love The Incredibles, or maybe it’s your least favorite Pixar film. Maybe you’re a huge fan of California Screamin. Perhaps it was the first roller coaster you ever got the nerve to ride. Maybe you hate it. The point is, this isn’t about you. It’s not even about your friends and family. It’s about millions of people who visit Disney Parks every year and how they respond to new or refurbished attractions with intellectual properties attached versus original concepts and storylines.
Let’s take California Adventure’s recent transformation of the Tower of Terror switching over to Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout. We covered this when the news broke in 2016: fans went berzerk. To this day, the announcement video for Mission Breakout has more “thumbs down” than “thumbs up” on it, by around an 80% margin. Why Disneyland fans are pretty resistant to change. Plus you have the argument that Tower of Terror was pretty popular, not to mention it was based on an intellectual property (just not Disney owned).
Fast forward to the Summer of 2018 and not only is it the smash hit of the Disneyland Resort, it is one of the most talked about rides in the country. Disney executives even trumpeted that it was the highest rated attraction at the Disneyland Resort at the 2017 D23 Expo. Even more importantly, many of the online naysayers were converted once they experienced the attraction themselves. Sure, there are some that miss the Tower of Terror of California Adventure and you can certainly make the argument that the facade doesn’t match with the rest of the park (for now!) but by the masses, both Mission Breakout and Monsters After Dark are viewed positively across the board.
Similarly, the fan reaction to Maelstrom being replaced by a Frozen attraction was met with a similar outcry in the online community. Screams of Disney selling out and children losing the chance to learn about culture were shouted by literally hundreds of angry Epcot fans. Yet, here we are two years later and Epcot’s Frozen attraction still has some of the longest waits at Walt Disney World and it’s nearly impossible to snag a FastPass without planning weeks in advance.
The disconnect is this: your friends, acquaintances, and co-workers represent a tiny fraction of the millions of people who visit theme parks annually. As much as I would love to believe that even 20% of theme park guests visit ANY theme park fan website on a regular basis, that’s just not the case.
At the end of the day, regardless of how you feel about a particular franchise, intellectual property will sell over something completely original. Take an original cupcake and make it the best tasting, most beautiful cupcake you’ve ever seen and it will sell well. Slap an Olaf piece of white chocolate in it? It will sell even better.
At the end of the day, Pixar Pier is a cupcake with a character slapped on top of it. Same cupcake, more appealing to a wider range of people. Guaranteed, when kids see the commercials for Pixar Pier (who drive an entire family to book a Disneyland vacation), they are going to ask their parents to go. Paradise Pier? Maybe, maybe not. It’s that simple. So the answer? No, we aren’t going to see much of anything coming to Disney Parks without an intellectual property on it. Anything that doesn’t have any type of franchise (or a popular one) attached to it, is in jeopardy from here on out. You can bet on it. Thoughts? Let us know how you feel about this on social media by using the hashtag “#IReadTheEntireArticle”!
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Images Copyright: Walt Disney Parks and Resorts