A couple of months ago, I previewed the film Tomorrowland by wondering if it could help enhance or fix the Tomorrowland in Disneyland and Magic Kingdom. While I’ll get to more on that specific film in a little while, that post ended up being a bit of precursor of upcoming films that could enhance theme parks. In what’s been a pretty good year at the box office this year, there are quite a few films that could affect Disney and Universal theme parks for years to come. Factor in that theme parks have become more and more franchise and film based and then you have a recipe for new attractions based off of 2015 films. In this post, I’m going to look at a few films that could or already are a part of the theme park land scape. While we don’t usually talk much about Universal theme parks on this blog, I’m making an exception in this post.
Furious 7 had a somewhat surprising showing at the Box Office, pulling in massive numbers worldwide. It was even before Furious 7 came out that Universal had started work on a Fast and the Furious presence in the parks. Universal Studios (Hollywood) has recently added a segment to their legendary tram tour which includes Fast and the Furious characters. Rumor has it that Universal Orlando will also begin working on an attraction based on this franchise. I think the Fast and the Furious franchise lends itself well to theme park attractions and Universal seems eager to add this franchise in.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
In the least surprising news of the summer, Avengers pulled in huge numbers at the box office. While it wasn’t quite the success its predecessor was, Age of Ultron was still a good film in a long line of quality Marvel films. Disney would love to put a Marvel presence in theme parks on both coasts. Unfortunately (at least for Disney), they aren’t allowed to put any of the Avengers characters into Disney World because of a contract with Universal. So, if in Orlando, your chance to see the Avengers is only at Universal Orlando. There are rumors of an upcoming Avengers attraction at Universal Orlando but nothing has been announced or confirmed. On the other coast, Disneyland has a free reign of the Avengers and will most likely be putting an increased presence of the Avengers in California Adventure. The rumor for now is that there will be an Avengers coaster at that park. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that announced at the upcoming D23 Expo.
While I wrote about what this film could do for the theme parks in May, it looks as if none of those things will probably come to fruition. Due to a poor marketing campaign and lackluster storytelling, the film came in well below expectations at the box office. While its’ heart seemed in the right place, there were many holes in Tomorrowland and just didn’t make enough of an impact. While updates to Tomorrowland and Epcot (which embodies more of the films tone than Tomorrowland) are likely, I doubt they will be heavily influenced by this film.
From a film that bombed to a film that made history at the box office, Jurassic World was huge and a blast to watch. While not especially a ‘great film’ it was the quintessential summer blockbuster. Universal Studios and Universal Orlando already have a Jurassic Park attraction but with the success of this film and an upcoming sequel, could we see an increased presence in the park? I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this was the case. While there isn’t much room by either attraction to increase in size and make it its own ‘land’, there could be updates to the attraction or expansion in both theme parks. Like Frozen for Disney, this film may be simply too big for Universal to not try to capitalize on in the theme park world.
Inside Out was a wonderful film that will probably draw some awards during Oscar season. It is very imaginative and heartfelt. We’ve been big proponents on Wandering in Disney about adding more Pixar to the Disney Parks, and nothing about Inside Out makes me change my mind about that. I think it would go wonderfully in the Imagination Pavilion at Epcot. That has been rumored, and as I don’t want to totally lose Figment, I do think there is a compromise that could be made there.
There are other films that will or already have made dents on the theme park world. The Minions already have attractions at both Universal Resorts so the success of their movie will only help their presence in the theme parks. The Pitch Perfect franchise has been a big success but it’s a little hard to try to imagine an attraction that features the franchise outside of a live show. Cinderella was a sneaky success of 2015 but I don’t know if we’ll see an increased presence in the theme parks because of it. Mad Max would make an interesting addition to a theme park but I don’t know if it has a big enough audience to warrant an attraction.
While 2015 is barely half over, it’s films are making a dent in the theme park world. With Star Wars, another Pixar film, and several others coming up, there are many more films to keep an eye on for theme park fans. What recent films would you like to see have a presence in theme parks?