The End Of Originality

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Recent additions to WDW theme parks such as Stich’s Great Escape, Turtle Talk with Cruch, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, and The Grand Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros are stirring up controversy because they are all based on Disney characters and movies.  In this week’s issue, Tom Corless takes a look at this recent imagineering trend and its impact on originality.   

Disney purists will tell you that the overall WDW product has declined over the last few years.  The addition of motion picture and television program-inspired attractions has set off a lot of the online community.  However, many forget the very reason Walt Disney created the parks – to promote the products of his company.

The ideas for Adventureland and Tomorrowland were based on the weekly television programs that Walt hosted.  Fantasyland was a way of promoting Walt’s animated features.  Even most of the attractions Walt himself created for Disneyland were based on shows and movies.  Some of the classic attractions such as Peter Pan’s Flight, Snow White’s Scary Adventure, and even the long forgotten Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride are based on animated features.  Still, the desire for attractions with no former presentation is great within the Disney fan base.

New additions such as Soarin’, Expedition Everest and Mission: Space have been the only original attractions opened at the resort since 1999.  Within that same amount of time, seven attractions and three shows have opened featuring characters and stories from movies and television shows.  While most of these attractions have been widely successful, fan response has still been horrible.  While these feelings are supported by busts such as Stitch’s Great Escape and The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, there are still gatebusters such as Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and Finding Nemo The Musical that pack full houses and garner great responses every day.  However, a strong argument can be made for the creation of original attractions.  Original attractions such as Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, Test Track, Space Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad have set the bar high over movie and television-based attractions.  So which is better?  The point can be made that both are equally entertaining, but from a business standpoint, what makes more money?

In the end, something based on a motion picture or a television program is going to sell much more merchandise and is going to do a better job of bringing in people who have never visited the parks before.  Yet the success is reversible.  The development of Pirates of the Caribbean into a blockbuster film series has shown that originality can draw just as well as media-based items.  People who have never been on the ride were clamoring to see the films.

The focus, then, should not be on where the idea for an attraction comes from but rather the quality of the attraction.  There have been bad original rides as well as bad movie-based rides.  Success is not determined by notoriety rather by the guests enjoyment level.  If you believe originality is important, then I suggest you sit back for a while.  For as long as there is Disney parks, there will be attractions based on the films and shows of the Walt Disney Company.  

About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]