CEO Bob Iger and Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro have teased growth prospects for Magic Kingdom in the previous few months, from ‘Past Huge Thunder’ to improvement within the footprint of the park and plans outdoors the berm. This put up discusses prospects, together with New Orleans Not-So-Sq. alongside Tiana’s Bayou Journey in addition to Coco, Encanto, and Villains lands within the longer-term.
Earlier this week, D’Amaro was interviewed in the course of the JPMorgan World Know-how, Media & Communications Convention. (The identical occasion the place he indicated Disney would take a $300 million loss on Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser.) Amongst different issues, he was requested about growth plans for Magic Kingdom and the way Walt Disney World may develop capability. D’Amaro stated that administration and Imagineers are already at work on enhancing the visitor expertise at Walt Disney World and including capability in a number of methods.
When requested particularly about Bob Iger’s plan to speculate $17 billion in Walt Disney World, D’Amaro doubled down whereas additionally clarifying that the quantity didn’t embody the canceled Lake Nona artistic campus. He pointed to the final D23 Expo and talked about “bold plans that to proceed to develop these theme parks” and shared why he’s excited in regards to the future for Florida…
Specifically, D’Amaro talked about fort park growth plans on each coasts: “We’ve loads of alternative inside these present footprints to optimize–to seek out methods to extend capability of present sights inside what we name the ‘berm.’ TRON is an effective instance of constructing extra capability. With that stated, and that is typically a false impression, however we’ve got loads of alternative outdoors of the berms of these theme parks to proceed to develop fairly aggressively at Walt Disney World, on the Magic Kingdom.”
After a dialogue of DisneylandForward, D’Amaro circled again to growth of the fort parks: “We’ve each inner alternatives to develop capability and create new experiences, and alternatives outdoors of the berm to basically increase the scale of those theme parks.”
It’s probably not clear from his quote, however TRON Lightcycle Run is definitely added capability that’s largely outdoors of the ‘berm’ or present boundary of Magic Kingdom. A part of why that undertaking was extra complicated than it in any other case may’ve been was the collection of flyover walkways to facilitate crowdflow and take friends over the Walt Disney World Railroad. In contrast to a reimagined experience or redeveloped space, TRON was precise growth.
It’s the identical thought with ‘Past Huge Thunder.’ Our expectation is that the majority Magic Kingdom plans within the medium-term will truly increase the bodily footprint of the park and improve capability. In contrast to the opposite parks, Magic Kingdom wants extra bodily area with a purpose to meaningfully improve attendance. That’s exactly why Past Huge Thunder was/is believable within the first place.
Within the close to time period, it’s doubtless that we’ll see reimaginings and redevelopment at Magic Kingdom, or what D’Amaro referred to as optimizing present footprints to extend capability. That is already taking place with Tiana’s Bayou Journey, which replaces Splash Mountain, albeit not in the best way that D’Amaro characterised it. We aren’t going to rehash the well-documented particulars about Tiana’s Bayou Journey, and this isn’t meant to ‘relitigate’ that reimagining.
Setting all of that apart, that “optimization” most likely received’t truly improve Magic Kingdom capability in a significant means. Splash Mountain didn’t have underutilized capability, so it’ll go from being a preferred experience to being a preferred experience–a lateral transfer from a capability and crowd-absorbing perspective.
If something, Tiana’s Bayou Journey will induce new attendance, including to demand and probably worsening crowd ranges. That’s typical of marketable additions, and can be or would even be the case with Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and TRON Lightcycle Run absent externalities (e.g. pent-up demand, broader economic system, and so on). The distinction with EPCOT additions is that park, as an entire, has loads of underutilized capability–inducing extra demand isn’t a difficulty in anyway at EPCOT.
One factor that has not been formally introduced by Walt Disney World is additional space redevelopment for Tiana’s Bayou Journey. That is one thing that might optimize or increase park capability, relying upon the way it’s executed. Imagineers have already hinted that that is on the horizon over the last D23 Expo once they let slip that they have been engaged on Tiana’s Palace Restaurant for each coasts.
Tiana’s Palace Restaurant has since been formally introduced for Disneyland (that’s California idea artwork above), with work underway to transform French Market into it. It’s attainable that the Walt Disney World model of Tiana’s Palace Restaurant wasn’t introduced on the identical time as a result of it wasn’t truly greenlit, and received’t be taking place. Nevertheless, there are a whole lot of the reason why this nonetheless is smart–and we’re betting it’ll occur.
I’ve heard completely nothing a couple of miniland for Tiana’s Bayou Journey and am not conscious of any credible rumors that it’s taking place. Nonetheless, it looks as if a no brainer to transform Pecos Invoice Tall Story Inn & Cafe to Tiana’s Palace Restaurant. If Tiana’s Palace is coming to Walt Disney World, that’s just about essentially the most logical possibility. An growth adjoining to the mountain itself isn’t workable, and placing Tiana’s Palace at a resort isn’t as sensible. (Even when it could be good at Port Orleans French Quarter!)
It’s not like Pecos Invoice wants extra to make it a draw (its location alone makes it one of many busiest eating places in all of Walt Disney World), however there’s additionally minimal draw back and respectable upside to the change. Pecos Invoice can be one of many highest-capacity eating places in all of Magic Kingdom, and giving it a princess connection–versus a personality just about nobody acknowledges–may assist promote cupcakes, sipper cups, and different novelty objects. In different phrases, Disney may improve the coveted per visitor spending metric with Tiana’s Palace Restaurant.
Outdoors of that apparent reimagining, I hesitate to invest about what else is feasible. It’s most likely protected to say that if Walt Disney World opts to reimagine Pecos Invoice Tall Story Inn & Cafe into Tiana’s Palace Restaurant, that received’t be the one factor they do. They’ll flesh out the world with retail and a personality spot, on the very least.
As a lot as I hate to confess this, Nation Bear Jamboree is on borrowed time. There are a quantity of the reason why Walt Disney World may wish to do one thing with the beloved bear band. I like Nation Bear Jamboree and can defend it till the tip (if something, I sincerely imagine it has gained appreciation in the previous few years, too!). However I’m additionally a realist.
Nation Bear Jamboree will not be going to exist in its present kind endlessly. A decade from now, I’ll be glad if the Audio Animatronics bears merely nonetheless exist…however are singing completely different songs. That’s most likely the most effective case and most real looking situation, barring a disaster for the corporate, economic system, or tourism tanking in a means that basically causes the parks to freeze in time. (No injury inflicted, but additionally no improvement performed–we name that the “Disneyland Paris Impact.”)
Annexing a part of Frontierland for a brand new space could be savvy for various causes. For one factor, widespread refrains from Walt Disney World followers have been “Princess and the Frog will not be set within the frontier” and “there are not any mountains in Louisiana.” Imagineering already “fastened” the second grievance by rounding off the highest of Chickapin Hill to make it look odd and disguise its mountainous-ness, I assume. (Bang up job with the complaints everybody, positively the end result we wished to see there!)
The subsequent step is reimagining the world across the experience in Frontierland to make Tiana’s Bayou Journey match extra seamlessly, and create a miniland. That is completely speculative on my half, however I feel an announcement of this space between now and Vacation spot D23 in Fall 2023 is an inevitability. (Most likely sooner, as work might want to begin quickly if it’s going to occur.)
With that stated, a brand new Magic Kingdom miniland will not be strictly obligatory. Opposite to these widespread refrains, there isn’t any “want” so as to add a bayou, New Orleans Not-So-Sq., Louisianaland, or no matter it is perhaps referred to as in order that Tiana’s Bayou Journey “is smart” in Frontierland. Walt Disney World performs quick and unfastened with thematic integrity, and has demonstrated a willingness to clarify away inconsistencies with backstory and narrative frameworks.
Look no additional than Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom for proof of this. What do monsters and comedy must do with the longer term? What about family-loving aliens? There’s so much that followers now settle for as a result of it’s established, however these additions have been met with related resistance within the aughts.
There are a lot extra examples in EPCOT and Animal Kingdom, a few of which truly ended up working surprisingly effectively. The purpose is that The Princess and the Frog‘s setting in Nineteen Twenties New Orleans hardly precludes its presence in Frontierland. A minimum of a few of the complaints now are piling on from people who find themselves in opposition to the Splash Mountain reimagining. Different quibbles are much like previous skepticism followers expressed that didn’t find yourself mattering ultimately.
Personally, I don’t disagree with that latter and am a average stickler for thematic integrity. Nonetheless, Tiana’s Bayou Journey could be accepted over time by the overwhelming majority of Magic Kingdom friends. Previous precedent signifies that there’s no “want” for a bayou or New Orleans Not-So-Sq. to make it work. (A minimum of, from Disney’s perspective.)
In that case, there’s most likely an excellent enterprise justification for annexing a part of Frontierland and turning it right into a bayou or New Orleans space. For one factor, Tiana’s Bayou Journey might not be a needle-moving addition by itself. Walt Disney World is advertising it as a brand new attraction and can proceed to take action, however all third occasion protection goes to incorporate the phrases “Splash Mountain” and “substitute” or “reimaging.”
Advertising an all-new land makes it sound extra spectacular, and can doubtless transfer the needle extra in capturing new bookings. The attraction plus Tiana’s Palace Restaurant, new retail, a meet & greet location, and no matter else may incentivize extra folks to take journeys to Walt Disney World in late 2024 or 2025. That’s precious, particularly at a time when there isn’t a lot else to promote as being new. (Doubly true if the nation continues to be within the midst of an financial slowdown or recession.)
Past that, guests from Louisiana are an enormous demographic for Walt Disney World. In previous winters, we’ve famous the prevalence of LSU and Saints shirts, with Mardi Gras specifically seeing an enormous inflow of Louisiana locals. Individuals love seeing themselves mirrored and represented within the parks, and a New Orleans Not-So-Sq. would doubtless gasoline extra journeys and foster extra affinity among the many Louisiana delegation.
Relying upon your perspective, that may sound apparent or unfaithful. In spite of everything, what number of Jerseyans complained in regards to the inauthentic menu at BoardWalk Deli? True…but additionally a foul instance since that deli is an abomination. One other instance could be the Brazil pavilion in World Showcase being aimed on the rising variety of Brazilian friends. (That additionally may appear to be a foul instance because it’s unbuilt, however solely as a result of that authorities made it untenable!)
So I assume you’ll simply must belief me on this one (or not). Even once they nitpick the accuracy, folks embrace theme park representations of the locations they name house. It’s a matter of regional delight.
Magic Kingdom including New Orleans Not-So-Sq. can be about the one approach to make sense of Imagineering’s many analysis journeys to New Orleans. The Princess and the Frog already exists, and the Walt Disney Animation Studios staff did analysis over a decade in the past to make sure cultural authenticity. That work is finished, and there’s an entire e-book about it. Tiana’s Bayou Journey is predicated on the animated film, and arguably doesn’t necessitate the diploma of extra analysis being performed.
The experience’s presence in New Orleans Sq. at Disneyland doesn’t account for a bunch of analysis journeys, both. That land already exists, and is extremely effectively performed. All Imagineering must do there may be incorporate the (present) characters and particulars from the film in tasteful ways in which don’t disrupt the authenticity and allure of the land.
That actually simply leaves Walt Disney World and redeveloping a few of the present space of Frontierland into an space primarily based on Louisiana. On the subject of that, a whole lot of analysis might be performed. Presumably, the purpose could be transitioning from an animated attraction to an outline of the American frontier by means of early twentieth century Louisiana. That will require not simply particulars from the film, but additionally the wealthy tradition and historical past of New Orleans and past.
Within the medium or long-term, increasing Magic Kingdom outdoors the berm makes a ton of sense. We’ve been bullish on the Magic Kingdom Enlargement Prospects “Past Huge Thunder” since final D23 Expo, at the same time as different followers expressed (utterly comprehensible and legitimate) skepticism.
As has been mentioned elsewhere, the preliminary pleasure for the tease of Coco, Encanto & Villains lands shortly soured–constructive sentiment gave approach to cynicism about these attainable plans. That’s completely truthful, particularly in gentle of Disney’s not-so-stellar monitor report in constructing issues that have been introduced at previous D23 Expos.
Throughout the subsequent decade, we absolutely anticipate to have the ability to stroll from Huge Thunder Mountain Railroad to Haunted Mansion with out passing Tiana’s Bayou Journey. From our perspective, that past the berm growth is much less a matter of “if” and extra “when” and “what.” Our expectation is that it truly shall be some mixture of Coco, Encanto, and Villains (however not “Cocoland” or “Encanto Land”). The higher query is when and, frankly, that’ll most likely be nearer to 2033 than 2023.
Given how far into the longer term that’s, how a lot issues can change, and the way lengthy this put up already is…maybe it’s higher if we save the ‘Past Huge Thunder’ dialogue for one more day. Even with the fixed chorus about $17 billion price of funding at Walt Disney World, that also appears too tenuous.
There’s so much to type out within the meantime earlier than that spending begins–from the way forward for streaming, potential ESPN and Hulu offers, twentieth Century Fox acquisition debt, and the present standoff with the state. However these are short-term speedbumps and Magic Kingdom growth is a long-term resolution to an ongoing concern. It can occur.
Finally, my guess is that we get information later this summer season about New Orleans Not-So-Sq. or no matter else is accompanying Tiana’s Bayou Journey at Magic Kingdom in 2024-2025. The larger wildcard is what, if something, is revealed for Magic Kingdom at Vacation spot D23 this fall.
We had been anticipating Vacation spot D23 to be a giant occasion–and are nonetheless hoping that’s the case, however what the corporate is snug saying may rely upon the place issues stand within the Disney vs. DeSantis battle. Then once more, each Iger and D’Amaro have had no hesitations in trumpeting the $17 billion funding and their pleasure for the longer term in Florida, so possibly that’s not a giant issue within the announcement calculus.
If all goes effectively, the last decade to return at Walt Disney World might be larger than the prior one. The present plan to speculate $17 billion quantities to greater than was spent on New Fantasyland, Pandora, Toy Story Land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the EPCOT overhaul, new resorts, and a major quantity of infrastructure. (As beforehand mentioned, so much of cash was wasted on issues that didn’t come to fruition or have been quick lived.) If much more cash is invested with out the misallocations of sources, it might be a blockbuster decade for Walt Disney World. It’s simply going to be no less than a number of years of ready whereas the near-term speedbumps are addressed and development commences.
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What’s your response to Josh D’Amaro discussing park growth within the present footprint of the park and past the berm at Magic Kingdom? Suppose this implies New Orleans Not-So-Sq. in 2024? What about different redevelopments of present areas? (Not mentioned right here, however there may be positively underutilized area in Tomorrowland!) Suppose this may be reconciled with the near-term cost-cutting, or would you reasonably not construct anticipation for one thing a number of years out, or which will by no means come to fruition? What potential plans have you ever most and least excited? Something you’re hoping does not find yourself coming to fruition? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments? Any questions we might help you reply? Listening to your suggestions–even if you disagree with us–is each fascinating to us and useful to different readers, so please share your ideas beneath within the feedback!