Opening date has slipped from 2014 to 2015 to who knows? Not saying this won't happen, but I certainly wouldn't want to lay bets. Disney has a history of announcing projects that don't happen: From the Pleasure Island redo called "Hyperion Wharf"

to the Flamingo Crossings: a cheaper version of Downtown Disney, all the way back to the fan-fabled Western River Expedition ride that was usurped by Pirates of the Caribbean & Big Thunder Mountain.


Tangled/Rapunzel  Meet & Greet

It's an open secret Disney has been quietly constructing a Tangled-themed area in Fantasyland near Peter Pan's Flight & it's a small world.

When it has been referred to, this area has been presented as bathrooms & maybe a smartphone recharge area. To meet Rapunzel, the best bet seems to be on the Princess Fairy Tale Hall where the Snow White ride was until last year.



New Waterside restaurant for Epcot's Morocco

Ok. This one seems to be a go. The operator of the restaurants in this pavillion say it is happening, and though Disney is silent, we've seen how much they love to add restaurants to World Showcase.

Mexico in particular shows how much they love adding restaurants they can see Illuminations Dinner packages for. I expect the much-loved water wheel/garden area to be bulldozed very soon.
On a side note, I understand the new, much-larger pastry shop is now open in France -- near the exit of the movie. I've heard good things, and hope to bring you a first-hand report soon.


Springfield expansion at Universal.
 
Universal has been particularly coy lately about its construction plans: plans very much in the works and under way.  I don't have any first-hand photos, but have seen enough reports from the Universal-loving Parkscope blog & others to say: Yes -- this is absolutely under construction and due to open this year.

I've heard varying reports on the exact scope  -- but at the very least look for Moe's Tavern, Krusty Burger & a few other Simpsons Businesses very very soon. Persistant rumors say a small new ride will pop up. I haven't confirmed it with my sources, but I wouldn't be surprised at all. As I mentioned in an earlier update: the momentum is with Universal right now and the head of the parks division has a Disney background. Look for a lot of new attractions from Universal in the time it takes Disney to open the smallish Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster.

Harry Potter: London at Universal Studios

Ummm. Yes. No doubt. Well under construction. Probably won't be announced for months. But one source who is working on the project says it will make the current Wizarding World look tiny and underwhelming in comparison. That's a bold claim. We'll see.


Seuss Landing/Jurassic Park/Universal KidZone

There are a lot of rumors about these three sections of the Universal parks. A lot could change, but currently it seems like an expansion of Jurassic Park will happen in conjunction with the new Jurassic Park 4 in 2014. We should know more soon.
I hear KidZone is very much in play -- with any or everything being bulldozed in the general area of the ET Ride to the Woody Woodpecker, Fievel and Barney areas. Again, plans for this area should be clearer soon.


LegoLand Florida expansion

We have brought you news that LegoLand has filed permits for what appears to be a pirate-themed area. 

This park will expand as rapidly as it can, and while I have no personal reason to doubt a new Pirate area is/was in the works,  the Orlando Business Journal  says another idea could take its place. 

CarsLand for Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Like Animal Kingdom, multiple sources tell me Disney sees their studio park as being particularly in need of a makeover. It is telling that Kathy Magnum (one of the lead creatives on Cars Land at Disney California Adventure) and the guy who did all of the fake rock work have both been moved to Florida. 

It does not appear any final decisions have been made, but most signs point to at least part of Cars Land coming to DHS. This may be the first of Disney's big announcements this year.

Then again, like Avatar, it could end up churning for a while. My money is on yes. But Disney changes its mind on projects big and small faster than anyone.

 That's a quick rumor roundup for you. There are a lot more that are out there, and as I hear more I will fill you in to the best of my knowledge.

If you have any tips or hints -- of projects from the big 3 -- or the smaller attractions, please email me at kpilcher@wkmg.com    

See you in the parks!

______________________________________

January 11, 2013

Disney's Marketing Magic: Off & Running

We have three examples today of different ways Disney can often be genius at attracting crowds during what, traditionally, is one of the slowest times of year, including this weekend's Disney Marathon.

First, Disney has brought back the 3-Day Florida Resident ticket deal. This year's edition is called "Discover Disney" and will set you back $119. Want to park hop? That's another $28. A better deal: Add a 4th day for $10.
The tickets must be used by June 7th and there are a  few blackout dates during times you probably don't want to be in the parks anyway.
 A good deal. The standard 3-day pass is $242.
 But last year's version of the special ran $99.
Here's a Link for more information.

By the way, here's a secret that I once found helpful: If you decide you'll end up going more than 4 times, the full price of the Discover Disney pass can be applied to the price of an Annual Pass as long as you do that before you use up your 3rd (or 4th) day.

 
The Second example of marketing is part of a new year-long promotion called "Limited Time Magic."
The Official Disney Parks Blog (tm) announced today that Epcot's Canada Pavilion is turning into a winter wonderland complete with "falling snow." (hmmm... maybe those soap blowers from Mickey's Christmas Party & The Osbourne Lights aren't going into the attic just yet)


Winter will strike next week only. January 14th-20th. Even more curious, Winter only runs from 10:30am-2:10pm. It takes a lunch break and comes back from 3:05pm-5:45pm.



  Read More  on the Disney Parks Blog. 


The 3rd, and biggest, example of Marketing Magic: The 20th Walt Disney World Marathon. It was started in 1994, as a way to bring people to Walt Disney World in what was, as I mentioned, a very empty time for the resort.

The first race went through the (then) 3 theme parks and drew about 8,200 runners who each earned these medals:

Today it has an official sponsor (Cigna) and Disney says more than 55,000 will lace up their shoes this weekend to run through all 4 parks.