I’m sure I will get flack for saying this, but I think the announced plans for additional lands featuring Star Wars at Disneyland and Walt Disney World are a mistake. Yes, a mistake.
I will admit to being something of an old fashioned theme park fan when it comes to Disney, but that doesn’t have a lot to do with this issue. I do see that the Disney company needs to exploit the franchise it purchased as part of the Lucasfilm acquisition. While the film productions will generate a sizable return, the company wants to maximize that return. Hence, the finally announced plans for expansion.
The problem from my little corner of the Internet is that Disney already has serious issues with capacity in Anaheim, especially at Disneyland. As it is now, any kind of special event and the place is chaos. Disneyland is simply too popular for it’s own good. Adding attractions that increase guest capacity only will serve to make a bad situation all the worse.
From just getting into a parking lot to finding your way inside the Park and not standing in lines all day, the average guest – as I have said before, that mythical family of four from Peoria, making their one and only visit to Anaheim – will face more of a challenge than ever before with the addition of a new Star Wars land at Disneyland. And they probably won’t be real happy with the outcome.
Anyone who thinks that the implementation of Magic Bands in Anaheim will go well should step back and take a deep breath. Unlike Orlando, the massive numbers of Annual Passholders out West will have their own influence on the process. And they will, despite all intentions to the contrary, manage to game the system so that it benefits them the most. Leaving the crumbs for that mythical family who don’t know the in’s and out’s of the process.
Disneyland has to change. I get that. Making use of wasted space in the Park? I am all for that.
But this time, I think putting all the eggs into the proverbial basket was not the right answer.
I know that Bob Iger has repeatedly said that Anaheim will not get a third gate. And I understand the logic behind that. But Star Wars is a franchise that can and should support a theme park all it’s own. It need not rely upon the existing locations. In Florida, adding another park, when the company has the land available, seems a no-brainer. Give guests something else to stay another day or three and you bet they will do just that.
But in California, why not do the same thing? Create another destination, another place guests must see and they will go there. Even the local AP’s will go. Does it have to be in Anaheim? Wouldn’t hurt but why? There are certainly a lot of potential locations nearby that could easily come into play.
I get that the additional lands to existing parks may be the safe thing to do. But thinking outside the box and looking at something grander, that’s the real Disney way. It is the kind of chance Walt took with the 1959 expansion of Disneyland. And it is the kind of thinking that could pay bigger and better dividends down the road.
Last but least, let us recall that Disney plans do not always go as announced. Recall how the 1990’s were once termed the Disney decade. Plans for Anaheim didn’t go exactly as announced and in the East, plans did not even get to the shovel stage at Disney’s America. I got a buck that says things change a lot between now and opening day.
As Master Yoda reminds us, “Always in motion is the future.”