Recently, Disney announced the construction of a 14-acre Star Wars Land at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Some of the impacts of Star Wars Land have already been felt at Walt Disney World with some attractions closing. Late last week, Disneyland announced that Fantasmic!, The Disneyland Railroad, The Mark Twain Riverboat, Davy Crockett’s Canoes, Sailing Ship Columbia, and the Pirate’s Lair will all close for at least a year to make way for the Star Wars Land construction. My questions are: did this need to take place so quickly and why disrupt Disneyland Park during the 60th Anniversary celebration?
Let’s take a look at the first question: did this (construction) have to take place so quickly? The only reason that I am coming up is Disney wants to have a grand opening at both parks on the same day. Having both parks start their construction at roughly the same time and since both parks are going to have the same attractions and dining experiences, it can be easy to sync up construction schedules barring major weather events (hurricanes in Florida, earthquakes in California).
A dual park grand opening gives Disney a chance to match the hype and exposure that Universal gained with the opening of Harry Potter a few years ago. The Harry Potter opening was front and center on the Today Show and other NBC/Universal networks. Disney can give Star Wars the same treatment on Good Morning America and the ABC/Disney family of networks.
Looking at it from this angle, I can see what Disney chose to start construction quickly at both parks. Is it going to happen in the way that I envision? Probably not. It’s just a theory.
That leads into the next question: Did this need to take place during the 60th anniversary celebration of the Disneyland Park?
I understand the need for media exposure especially if Disney is planning a great dual Star Wars Land opening in the future. But did that need to come at the expense of what is currently in the park during the 60th Anniversary Celebration? My answer to this question is no. The park, in my opinion, should be the same when the celebration ends as it is when the celebration starts. People deserve to have the same experiences during the celebration.
By closing a large portion of the Big Thunder Ranch area and draining the water making all of the water attractions (except for Splash Mountain) and Fantasmic! out of commission for at least year is not a good practice. Yes, Disneyland gets a lot more “day” traffic compared to Walt Disney World. However, it also gets visitors like myself who made a special trip out to Disneyland, this year, for the 60th anniversary celebration. The special trip visitors are the group that misses out on these attractions closing and it is the exact reason as to why the park should not undergo any closures during a celebration year.
Disneyland announced that the 60th anniversary celebration would be extended until Sept. 5, 2016. Then just a couple of days later, Disneyland announced the closures. That’s just poor PR optics. “Please come help us celebrate the 60th anniversary but your experience will be 90% of what the people who have already celebrated.” It just looks bad. Disneyland could have announced that the 60th anniversary was going to close at an earlier date and everything could have been fine. The weather is much less extreme in California than in Florida. Virtually no thunderstorms and zero hurricanes to worry about in California to delay construction. A 2-4 month delay could easy be made up by the California crews. A 12 month delay in construction can not which is why, in my opinion, Disneyland closed these attractions.
But, this will, most likely, all be forgotten in a couple of years when Star Wars Land opens in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland.
Thanks for reading!