I thought I’d write a quick post tonight as my wife is already asleep at 7:30. Pretty impressive work on New Year’s Eve for her. Melissa Hoyt’s post will be up on Saturday instead of today. That one will be about the changes Disney’s California Adventure has gone through since it opened. I’m really looking forward to that one.
Seeing how it’s New Year’s Eve, it seems like the perfect time to ask the question, what will the Disney Parks be remembered for in 2014? There were a number of small (although that might not be giving enough credit) additions to the parks. Frozen fever hit both coasts and continues with no foreseeable end. Disney Springs and Pandora (Avatar Land) construction saw significant progress. Rumors of Star Wars Land are circling in both American resorts, although more so in Disneyland. A few restaurants closed and opened. Festival of Fantasy debuted in Magic Kingdom, along with a new theater for Festival of the Lion King in Animal Kingdom. Several rides in Disneyland are or have gone through refurbishment or renovation to prepare for the 60th anniversary coming in 2015. There was the controversy of Maelstrom closing. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train finally opened in the Magic Kingdom to pretty good reviews. Those are just a few of the things that happened throughout the American-based Disney Parks.
While all of those things are important to the parks, I don’t think 2014 will be remembered for any of those in particular. What I hope 2014 will be remembered for is a wake-up call for Disney World. Disneyland seems to keep chugging along at a good clip without much competition and is able to keep the status quo because of the progress California Adventure has made in the last five years. About 3,000 miles away in Florida, the story is a little bit different.
Unless you’ve been living under a barn, you have probably heard about what opened up the road from Disney World. Dragon Alley is a true achievement and one of the best theme park areas I’ve ever been to. What Universal has created with Diagon Alley is better than anything Disney has done in Orlando in… I don’t know how long.
To think that Disney hasn’t felt or seen the effect of the new additions to Universal is foolish. Universal Orlando shows no signs of slowing down either. Now is the time for Disney to respond to this threat with the additions of their own. The good news? I think they are starting to respond.
The aforementioned progress of Disney Springs and Avatar Land continues. Disney Springs is set to finish in 2016 and Pandora is set to open by 2017. More plans are announced in Animal Kingdom, it seems, every month. Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been stripped to the bone and hopefully will no longer settle for the mediocrity that it dwelled in for years. Magic Kingdom just opened its largest expansion ever and is now the hub to help out with the humongous crowds. I wouldn’t be surprised if changes to Epcot (besides just the Frozen addition to Norway) are coming in the next few years after the Hollywood Studios plans are started.
While it may be a tense time for Disney Imagineers and executives, this should be a great time for Disney fans. What Universal has done has upped the competition. Now all fans are about to enjoy the reward from that. No matter if you’re a fan of Universal, Diagon Alley, or Harry Potter they have changed the landscape in the theme park world, specifically in Orlando. It’s a very exciting time to be a fan of theme parks, no matter which one, and I think 2014 may be remembered as the year that started all of this off. I certainly hope so.
Happy New Year everyone! Thanks for reading our little blog. We look forward to sharing more with you in 2015!