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Posts Tagged ‘DHS’

Virtual Queue

October 10, 2014 1 comment

Disney’s Hollywood Studios started testing the use of a FastPass+ only line this week, where the standby line for Toy Story Midway Mania has been eliminated, at least for the time being. Guests were directed to kiosks or the MyDisney Experience app to schedule a ride time and not allowed to use the standby line.  

Online discussions about this temporary change have led to some guests being very upset about the removal of the standby line, and being forced to schedule a time. Many have already complained about not being able to just go to the standby line and wait for whatever the standby wait time was, something I find a bit puzzling, considering waits for this attraction can be 90+ minutes on most days.

I’ve speculated in the past that Disney might try to roll something like this out on a broader basis where the majority of attractions, or at least the popular ones would work this way. Some insiders have said that this is just a test for the rumored addition of the third track for TSMM. Regardless, my thinking here assumes that they would go ahead with such a plan. With that in mind, and the uproar it’s caused, led me to an idea on how to potentially accommodate these guests in their desire to wait in the standby line, if they really were to roll out FP+ only lines on a wider scale.

The idea is pretty simple (at least in my head), and focuses around the whole concept of getting guests out of line to wait for their time. Sounds familiar, right? Wasn’t this one of the original promises of FastPass? Yes, it was at least part of the marketing campaign and still is part of the marketing for FP+.

It involves creating a virtual standby queue/line where guests in the park are given the option of choosing a FP+ (scheduled return time), or a virtual spot in line. I’m going to call it “Virtual Queue” or “VQ”, but it could be called “Virtual Pass” or “Standby+” or even “FastPass”.

Essentially, it would build into the FastPass+ system, the capability to allow a certain percentage of guests to use FP+ and others (smaller percentage) to use VQ. It sounded easy enough when I first thought about it, but when trying to figure out how to do it, I realized it was a bit more complicated. The fine details and calculations of how it would work will have to be figured out using numbers I don’t have. However, for the purpose of demonstration, I will use Toy Story Midway Mania, and its estimated 1000 riders per hour capacity. Rumor has it the actual number is somewhere between 900 and 1000.

Listed below are a couple of ways I could envision this working:

1) Fixed, alternating standby queue availability. Fastpass+ and Standby alternate, with FP+ receiving higher priority and more allocations.
Example:
9:00 – 9:10 – 160 FP
9:10 – 9:15 – 80 Standby
9:15 – 9:25 – 160 FP
9:25 – 9:30 – 80 Standby
9:30 – 9:40 – 160
9:40 – 9:45 – 80
9:45 – 9:55 – 160
9:55 – 10:00 – 80 

This would equate to 960 guests per hour – 640 FP+, 320 Standby. The numbers don’t add up to 1000 intentionally, in order to allow some flexibility.

2) Variable, system assigned, next available time. Smart logic to vary the availability of FP+ and leave a buffer of open/unscheduled times for every time slot.

Example:
Each hour can be broken down into 4, 15 minute blocks, allowing for up to 240 guests per block. By default, the system would reserve 20% for standby in each 15 minute block. This number could be adjusted based on demand forecast by the day and/or hour.

FP+ times would be assigned in 15 minute blocks, where every 15 minutes instead of the system allowing 240 slots to be filled, it will only allow a percentage, based on the expected demand for the day. So, if it’s a busy day, it might reserve 40% for standby (96), leaving only 144 slots available for pre-scheduling.

The FP+ selection time process (MDE) would have to incorporate this functionality, and vary the times available in such a way as to allow for this kind of flexibility.

As an added feature, and maybe in order to help alleviate some of the issues that might arise from such a system, the last hour of the day could be left open/unscheduled to allow for a traditional standby line. This way, anyone could ride regardless of whether they had used a FP+ for the day or gone thru the standby line. It would also give those that wanted to re-ride the opportunity to do so.

Here’s how it might look in action:
1. A guest approaches an attraction with FP+only line

2. The guest will scan their MagicBand as if entering for FP+. If they have a FastPass+, and it’s their time, they will proceed into the attraction. If they do not, then they will be directed to a kiosk close by or alternatively, if the guest has a smart phone, they will be able to use the MyMagic+ app.

3. At the kiosk (or on the smart phone), the guest will select the attraction, then they will be prompted for a Virtual Queue spot, or FastPass+.

4. If a Virtual Queue spot is chosen, they will be given a return time.

5. If FastPass+ is chosen, and the guest has not used all of their FP+ options, they will then be presented with the choice of several times to pick from for a return.

The guest can then go about their business in the park, until such time as their virtual queue spot/time comes around.

Optionally, the guest can be notified 15 min before their line entry time, and then be given a 15 minute window in which to use it.

Some operating rules might need to be established to avoid abuse, and keep it running smoothly,here’s a few I thought of:

1. Guests can only be in one virtual queue at a time.

2. Virtual queue is only available for use once a day per attraction for guests in the park.

3. Guests can “get in line” at the normal line entry, via kiosk or smartphone app, but only if they’re in the park.

4. Guests cannot hold a FastPass+ for the attraction for a later time, when attempting to get a VQ option.

5. If the guest holds a FastPass+ for the attraction for later, it can be exchanged for a VQ/Standby option. But, they are not allowed to hold both.

Optionally, offer guests the opportunity to trade their FP+ for Virtual Queue.

If all of this sounds complicated and confusing, you’re not alone. I can’t help but think FP+ and the features it has brought to WDW, have also made things a lot more complicated in planning a vacation. I like the ability to pre-plan and schedule the attractions I want to ride, but I have to admit that it does add more work to the process, and I can see how this might take away some of the fun for some. I guess the question has to be asked, “is this really worth it, just to avoid standing in a few long lines?”.

Toy Story Midway Madness

November 19, 2010 4 comments

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Listening to the Betamouse podcast, episode 40, Toy Story Mania, an idea popped into my head about how Disney could maybe improve overall guest throughput and possibly reduce the wait times for this attraction.

If you’re not familiar with the Walt Disney World version of the ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it’s a hugely popular attraction. When we were at WDW in early October, wait times exceeded 2 hours at some points during the day. Unfortunately, from all that I’ve seen and read, these kinds of wait times are fairly typical. I should add that Touringplans had a blog posting about some of the issues here as well. It’s worth a read because they talk about the fastpass distribution rate, which is pretty high for this ride.

Below are a few ideas to maybe lessen some of the madness and long waits for Toy Story Midway Mania at DHS. I’ll preface these by saying some might not be very popular, but they could be effective.

1) Devise a strategy to limit the number of fastpasses distributed based on ticket type. For example, guests staying on property or using their Key to the World card might be allowed first or higher priority over non-resort guests. Perhaps this could be done using different machines, or just an algorithm that produces a different (later) time window than the resort guests.

2) Another idea would be to limit each guest/ticket to one fastpass for this attraction for the day. As it stands now, any guest can get multiple fastpasses to ride the attraction as many times in the day as they want, however, if memory serves me correct, you have to wait until after the beginning time window has elapsed for the fastpass. So, if you had a fastpass for 1:00pm to 2:00pm,  you could go get another fastpass at 1:00pm.

I realize that this would upset a few people, but the beauty of it is that Disney would still allow you to ride, you just couldn’t have another fastpass for this particular attraction.

3) Turn off Fastpass for the first hour or until the standby line reaches a 60 minute wait. This might only have a minimal impact overall, but it would help eliminate some of the mad rush of guests trying to get there first thing in the morning.

Of the three ideas, I like 2 & 3 best. These two ideas would seem to be the easiest to implement and cause the least impact and amount of frustration for the guests. Mind you, these are all hypothetical ideas that may or may not alleviate some of the long waits. At the very least, I believe these ideas would lead to greater guest satisfaction as it would allow more guests to experience the attraction in a given day. In essence it would balance out some of the crowds, especially first thing in the morning.

What do you think? Do you like any of these? Do you have a better idea that might reduce the long lines and the madness of  TSMM? Give me your feedback in the comments.

Story links:

http://betamouse.net/toy-story-mania/

http://blog.touringplans.com/2010/10/15/8768/

Star Tours 1.9

May 21, 2010 Leave a comment

If you’re a die-hard Star Wars/Star Tours fan, you may not want to read what follows here. I had an idea for the new version of Star Tours. I’m labeling it version 1.9, because, well… just keep reading, you’ll see.

Closing dates were announced last week for Star Tours, Disneyland will close theirs on July 27th and Walt Disney World (Disney’s Hollywood Studios) will close theirs on September 8th of this year to begin the work for upgrading the 20-year old attraction to Star Tours II (or 2.0). The announcement was made in September of last year at the D23 expo that this was coming in October of this year, but I guess they decided to get started a little bit sooner. The news last week, however, has started a new discussion across the Internet about what will be in the new version. It also prompted a somewhat frantic message from my oldest son earlier this week, who had not heard the announcement. After exchanging a few messages and re-assurance that they were just closing it to upgrade and enhance it, I began thinking about a possible story line.

Jokingly, I made comment to my son that part of the new upgrade would be a new pilot replacing Rex… by the name of… Jar Jar Binks!  (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself) Which started the wheels turning…

I don’t know how they’re planning to design/build the new ST, but I really really hope they have multiple experiences, kind of like what was teased before in the queue. They could do this either randomly via programming on each simulator, or they could have each of the simulators running a different trip/destination that guests could choose during less busy times, or castmembers would assign during the busy times. On one of the trips Jar Jar will be your pilot and take you on a fun-filled, action packed and sometimes frighteningly scary, mis-adventure  similar to the fashion in which Rex did. Side-note: A couple of years ago, my then 12 year-old son pointed out the irony of his name, (Rex or is it Wrecks)  oddly, in all the years I had ridden, I never thought about it.

Script

Boarding would take place as usual, and once the show begins, you are immediately informed that your pilot cannot be found.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome aboard Star Tours. We apologize for the delay, as our pilot has not reported in. Please remain seated, while the stand-by is summoned to the flight deck.”

Following the announcement, noises can be heard in the cabin, and the blast shield is lowered shortly after to reveal your new pilot.

“Heddo, Meesa Jar Jar Binks, your humble servant”

“Meesa happy to see you. Weesa gonna have a good trip today, nooo wordies, Meesa been on this trip maaannny time. Yousa just sit back and enjoy da ride. Weesa dare in no time. Okey-Dokey?”

The flight plan/destination would be a trip to Tatooine to see Annie (Anniken Skywalker) defend his title in the pod races, however, due to Jar Jar’s bumbling pilot skills, you never leave Naboo. The trip would include an accidental trip to Gungan city thanks in part to a droid ship that spots yours and begins chasing you. In an effort to evade them, Jar Jar diverts the ship into the waters and onward to Gungan city.  Of course Jar Jar is chastised for coming there because he’s still banned for his clumsiness. Upon leaving Gungan city you would encounter the sea monsters and your ship would lose power, much like in Phantom Menace, only this time he has to get you out alive without the help of the Jedi, somehow he manages to just barely pull it off. In an fit of panic and desperation, Jar Jar bangs the console with his fists, which short circuits the controls and restarts the ship. Upon exiting the water, the droid ship once again spots yours and they resume the chase. Your ship is fired upon several times, rocking the cabin and causing various small explosions in and outside the ship. The pursuit continues, and the droids order you to land. As Jar Jar begins slowing down in preparation for landing, he accidentally deploys the emergency chute instead of the landing gear. Because of the droid ship’s close proximity in pursuit of yours, the chute is sucked into their engines and destroys their ship. Of course, he’s recognized as a hero now, but because of the damage incurred in the fight, the ship is not able to make it to Tatooine, and so he has to return you to the port.

 

On a somewhat related, and better note, I found the following video of a TV commercial advertising the 2010 Star Wars weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it’s pretty cool.

The Animation Experience

January 7, 2010 Leave a comment

Recently, while reading about Dinsey’s newest traditional animated film, The Princess and the Frog, (which I highly recommend to everyone) and how the film was put together, I had a thought about the whole animation process and how it might make for a possible attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Several years ago, at DHS, back when it was still known as Disney’s MGM Studios and movies were still being crafted at this park/studio, there used to be a mini tour thru the animation building. On this tour, you could see the actual areas where the animators worked and maybe even catch a glimpse of work in progress for a future Disney film. I only went on this tour once, and thought it was quaint, but somewhat interesting. I believe all that remains of this tour is a short presentation by a Disney “animator” on the process of creating an animated film.

My idea, however, would bring back some elements of the original tour where guests not only get to see how a film is made, but actually work together as a team to craft their own short animated feature. It would take some effort to put this together, but I really think it could be done using current computer technologies, similar in format and function as guests build a coaster and ride it at Cyber Space Mountain at Disney Quest. Here’s how I see it working. Guests would come into the presentation area and see a short film talking about animation and its history and of course Disney’s involvement in the industry. When the history and presentation of animation is finished, they could offer guests who want to leave the opportunity to do so, and those who wanted a more detailed experience and the chance to create their own film could choose.

Those who chose to stay, would be presented with a more detailed overview of the process of creating a Disney film. Ideally, Disney would update this every couple of years and use storyboards and ideas from their most recent films, and allow guests to build their own version of the story using a variety of options. They could also make this part where guests could choose from other Disney classics and then work on them. Guests would go thru each of the processes involved in bringing a new film to the theater in a very abbreviated and fast pace to create their own short film. If possible, the process should be contained to at less than 30-45 minutes. At the end of the process, they would get to view the film they created in a small theater. Optionally, they would be able to buy their film on DVD or BLU-RAY to take home with them.

Of course, trying to squeeze the animation process into a 30-45 minute attraction might be a near impossible task. So, I propose a second option on this idea.  Make it into a full day experience that would be even more encompassing and allow for a lot more creativity. Disney has reportedly been looking for some kind of deluxe or exclusive (pricey) experience they could offer guests similar to what SeaWorld offers with Discovery Cove. At one point they were rumored to be working on a project called Dark Kingdom which was thought to be their answer. I could see this working if it were maybe a 6-8 hour experience that took guests thru the process of creating a short film and then viewing it.  Of course they would have to find a way to make it fun and cut out all of the menial parts of the process like the sometimes endless cycle of loops and story changes that a film goes thru to get to production. But, I think it could be done, if it were set up in modules that the guests could choose from. Ideally, they would have enough options that each group that went thru this process would produce a unique product of their own. They could choose to re-do Steamboat Willie, colorizing it, giving it a new soundtrack, adding some features to it, re-voicing it, etc. They could choose to do a mashup where they took elements from several movies and re-did them. They could take a segment from a movie and maybe change it altogether with new dialog, scenery and music.

The possibilities are pretty endless and Disney of all people should be able to make this happen. They have a huge library to work with of movies, songs and characters, all they would need to do is to put them all together in digital library and develop the software to pull it all together. I don’t mean to trivialize and make it sound easy, because I know it’s not as simple as it sounds, but I believe it’s doable using today’s technology and would make for a truly unique experience.

Disney Theme Parks 2.0

October 2, 2009 1 comment

So, we have the so-called web 2.0, which, to paraphrase is a more interactive (social) web, hence the blog you’re reading now, and allowed to post comments to. So why not “Theme Park 2.0” that’s more interactive and responsive to the guest/visitor? I would like to lay claim to the label “Theme Park 2.0”, but in researching/writing this entry, I came across a blog posting at Theme Park Insider, by Robert Niles where he talks about some of what’s going on, not just at Disney, but other parks as well, and he calls it “Theme Park Interactivty 2.0”, so I’ll give him the credit, and as he said in his entry, this is “a topic that we ought to talk about more”.

I wasn’t able to attend D23, but in the days since it wrapped up, I’ve been reading, watching and listening to various people tell about some of the presentations that were shown, and I must say, I’m really hyped to hear what they’ve got planned. It really sounds like Disney has started a new chapter in the design and function of new attractions in their parks. Taking in all of the media from D23, led me to my own naming and further thoughts on where they might be headed.

Really though, while Disney may not necessarily choose to label their new creations how Robert or I would with the “2.0” moniker, this new chapter appears to have actually started at least in part over 10 years ago with Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. Sure, as some may say, it’s just a moving version of the Frontierland shooting gallery, but still, it takes interactivity up a level, and gives the rider somewhat of a different experience if not challenge when they ride it. In some sense, Toy Story Midway Mania took Buzz up at least another level if not 2 or 3. Yeah, at the core it’s still a moving shooting gallery, but it’s one that uses 3D screens and compressed air effects to react to you with a much broader range of actions, taking the fun, challenge and variety to a whole other level.

It’s nice to see that “2.0” isn’t limited to just attractions either. Starting back a few years ago, Disney debuted their first walkabout animatronic, Lucky the Dinosaur. They’ve since followed with Muppet Mobile Labs and Wall-E. While I’ve yet to see any of them in person, I’m really impressed with what they’ve done with these and hope to see more of them in the future. These are great additions to the parks, and have the potential for creating a really unique experience for guests that they’re very unlikely to experience anywhere else. Another, who isn’t a walkabout, but still impressive, is Remy (the rat from Ratatouille) at Chefs De France in Epcot. And, while they’ve begun building walkabout animatronic characters, they haven’t forgotten or neglected the classic costumed characters such as Mickey, Minnie, Donald and others. They’ve given them sort of a “2.0” upgrade by making their mouths and eyes actually move now instead of just being stationary. I have to admit though, while it was neat to see the first time, it’s also a little on the creepy side.

One of my favorite implementations of “2.0” has to be the combination of  technology and show in what Disney calls the “Living Character Initiative”. First seen at Turtle Talk with Crush at Epcot, then Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor Comedy Club at Magic Kingdom, and the latest addition of Luxo Jr at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the recently opened and closed Stitch’s Supersonic Celebration. I still recall my first time seeing Crush and watching him interact with guests. Everyone in the room was completely in awe by this turtle from Finding Nemo moving around and talking right in front of us. To this day, it is still one of my favorite shows.  I like The Monsters Inc comedy show too, but it seems like they struggle more with the material and finding good comedic rhythm. Perhaps it’s just been the talent that was working the show on the two times I’ve seen it. Still, it’s a cute show with enough variety and interaction to make it an okay show. In my opinion, it could be a better show if they had a comic show writer to help freshen the material from time to time.

Other “2.0” like features have also included Pal Mickey, which was a lug-around, somewhat plush Mickey reportedly with the guts of a PDA and infrared receiver that triggered specific phrases stored in his “brain”. Being a techno-Dinsey geek, I rushed out and bought one of these when they first came out. He was cute, but a little corny, and the tidbits of information he gave while you were roaming the parks made him slightly entertaining and fun to carry around, most of the time anyway. Sadly, he’s been discontinued now, and is no longer being sold in the parks, but from what I hear, the sensors that trigger him to talk are still in the parks and he will still work. Another of Disney’s latest interactive features, is the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure. Themed to Kim Possible, guests use a “Kimmunicator” that is actually a flip phone, and wander thru the different pavillions in World Showcase tracking clues sent via the device. The device will also trigger some effects when the guest is near or has found them. I like the concept of this, but I think the theming of Kim Possible is a bit late. Regardless, it’s still a neat new use of “2.0” in the parks. Perhaps in the future they will expand this to other parks using other themes.

All of these lead in to the announcements made at D23. If they wind up doing everything they presented, it should make for some fun, interactive experiences never before seen. Let me just try to highlight what they presented. 

Probably one of the biggest attractions, they’ve ever designed and to be built, Radiator Springs Racers Disney’s California Adventure sounds like it will have a few new “2.0” features. At the core of this is what’s being called a next gen Test Track with 2 tracks side by side where riders will race each other thru Radiator Springs. I’m not real sure what next gen means in terms of Test Track, but the riders will experience what sounds like a few different interactive features where the riders can choose different stops along the route like Luigi’s Casa Della Tires, or Ramone’s House of Body Art.

The new Fantasyland upgrade/expansion at Magic Kingdom, is chock full of new “2.0” features.  In Cinderella’s country chateau, behind the castle, guests will get to witness her fairy godmother magically  transform the princess from her servant’s clothes into her ball gown right before their eyes. Afterwhich, they will help her practie for the ball or train to be one of her royal knights. One that’s interesting and a bit mysterious is the Beauty and the Beast adventure. Apparently there will be a “magic mirror” at Belle’s father’s cottage that will somehow transport guests to the Beast’s castle. Once in the castle, they will get to participate in retelling the Beauty and the Beast by performing it for Belle. Another mystery is the “interactive games” that were promised to eliminate the queue for Dumbo. All of these sound quite intriguing, but so far are details on them are rather sketchy.

Moving out of the Magic Kingdom, over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, is probably one of the more exciting (for me at least) attractions, rather upgrades, and that’s Star Tours II. It may be a stretch to put the “2.0” label on this yet, because details on this are sketchy as well. But, from the sound of things, this attraction is prime material for having some real “2.0” style features. It’s being reported that there are at least a couple of different scenes from the different Star Wars movies. The trailer used at D23 showed a sequence from the pod races on Anakin’s home planet, Tatooine. Also, the attraction will be in 3D.

The best thing that new “2.0” features offer is the relative ease and flexibility in changing and enhancing an attraction. Not necessarily a “2.0” feature, but the guys at Imagineering were very wise when the built the Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It’s unknown if they intended to change up the drop sequences when they first bult the attraction, but by making some programming changes, they transformed the ride into something that’s potentially different every time, or at the least it’s a random experience which the rider doesn’t know or expect. By designing attractions with this kind of flexibility, hopefully it will allow them to stick around long after they might have been otherwise replaced. This kind of branches into a future entry I’m working on regarding the chemistry of classic attractions, and how there haven’t been very many in the last 15-20 years. But, like I said, that’s a future entry.

All of  this is a natural and very welcome evolution of (Disney) theme park attractions. And, I believe it’s what Walt had in mind by constantly pushing the envelope, looking for new and exciting ways to entertain people.

I neglected to mention, The Orlando Sentinel also posted an article along these lines, titled: Theme Parks’ Goal: Less watching, More Doing, it’s worth a read.

Preserving the Magic

September 14, 2009 1 comment

In case you haven’t heard, Disney has confirmed the expansion  plans for Fantasyland at MK that were leaked on the Internet a short while back. Some are already calling it Fantasyland 2.0, but I’m not real fond of that, I think it might be more aptly named Princessland due to the heavy influence of all the princesses being added. Of course, Dumbo (supersized) will still be there as will Gaston, and all the dark rides that currently exist are going to stay, but there will be several new attractions aimed at little girls added to the new Princessland, eh, Fantasyland. But, I’m okay with it, really. I really think it’s something that was needed, as MK did lean pretty heavily toward boys prior to this. You have Stitch, Buzz, Space Mountain, The (Indy?) Speedway, Goofy’s Barnstormer, Peter Pan, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, Pirates, etc. There just wasn’t a lot for little girls, so this is a good move that should help balance out MK and add more capacity and freshen things at MK where it had started to become a little stale.

While I find this news, and the news of a new Star Tours enhancement, encouraging, I must admit I will be a teensy tiny bit sad to see Mickey’s Toontown go away. The new plans involve moving Dumbo, over to where toontown now sits, and adding on another side so they’ll have two sides/spinners for Dumbo. It’s not that I’ve been a tremendously big fan of Toontown or that I thought it was anything spectacular, because there really wasn’t a lot back there,  and everything seemed kind of cheap and built on the fly. But the main attraction was the big cheese himself, Mickey. However, I found the the concept behind Toontown to be quite novel and entertaining. I like the idea of having a specific place set aside and themed where you could go and visit Mr. Mouse and his spouse and see where they live. Wait, are they married or not? Can’t remember.

Personally, I think they should try and preserve the concept of Toontown, somehow. I don’t see how or where they could do it at MK, but DHS might potentially have space for something of the sort. Or, if they couldn’t fit it in at DHS, maybe even somewhere at Downtown Disney. Or, better still, and here’s where Imagineering kicks in, how about a fully themed Toontown at a new location altogether. Something that would be even bigger than the soon to be destroyed Toontown, and would add even more for guests to see. I really think it’s time that Disney (World), built a separate entertainment venue, not a park necessarily, but an area at WDW housing a museum and “exploration center” type of attraction allowing guests to see the history of Walt, Mickey, The Disney Company, and WDW.

This idea stems from a couple of different sources. Over the summer, I took my family on vacation to somewhere that wasn’t Disney! Surprising, right? Anyway, we went to Hershey, Pennsylvania and visited the attractions there. And, while it wasn’t Disney, it was a charming and enjoyable experience. Outside the factory, which they don’t allow public tours of anymore, they have Hershey’s Chocolate World, which is a combination mock factory, history center, food court, and of course gift shop. They have a people mover style ride that takes you thru a factory simulation of the chocolate making process, plus several interactive activities where kids (and some adults) can participate in “making” and packaging chocolate. It’s a neat experience, although, I will say the food court they have there left a lot to be desired, but I’ll leave it at that.

The other half of the idea comes from my own thoughts that they really should have some type of history center dedicated to Walt and the history of WDW for visitors to be able to experience and learn more about him and the wonderful creations he’s responsible for. I know there is now the Disney museum in California, but I’ve yet to see, and not sure when I will. And, since it’s in California, I’m not sure when I will, as the same might go for many who visit only WDW. Which is why I think WDW could sustain something like this.

So, here’s my idea for a Walt Disney History Center. First, I have mixed thoughts on the cost of admission. I would suggest it be free to the general public and most of the attractions remain that way. Here’s a few of the ideas I’ve dreamed up for the center.

  • Small World food court and play area dedicated to all the children of the world, using murals and drawings by Mary Blair and some history of her and her involvement with Walt Disney.
  • History Center where the Disney story would be told. Walt’s early years and his life prior to the success of Mickey.
  • Animation and Imagineering – showcasing animation and imagineering history and future achievements and failures. This area could be divided in two depending on the amount of material displayed.
  • Florida Project & Epcot (City) – The establishment and building of Walt Disney World and Epcot, as well as a historical review of some of the now retired attractions. In this part they could show pictures and videos of some of the attractions that are now gone, and show what they were replaced by. I would see this as something similar to Widen Your World or Yesterland, both great sites that do their best to showcase and archive extinct Disney park attractions.
  • Retro Park – Retired attractions. This previous area might lead into this part, where there would be entire attractions on display, and perhaps even a few that were still in operation.
  • Toontown – This is the area where Mickey and Minnie’s houses would be moved to as well as other Toontown-related features. Visitors would also have the opportunity to visit with Mickey and Minnie and get pictures and autographs.
  • Gift Shop – featuring unique items that couldn’t be found or purchased anywhere else.

For a throwback to history, they could make the attractions accessible using Ticket Books like they used to have at WDW in the early days.

I’m not sure where this would fit best. I’m torn between somewhere between MK and Epcot on the main drive there, or as an extension of Downtown Disney, or even somewhere else on property. Regardless, I think it’s high time for this, if nothing else to showcase the history of Walt and WDW.  I don’t really see this idea in any shape happening anytime soon, however,  it would be nice to see them at least try and preserve Mickey and Minnie’s houses in some way. Move them over to the backlot or what’s left of it at DHS, or make them fixtures at Downtown Disney, or auction them off in whole or in pieces, but don’t just tear them down, please!

The Prop Room

August 27, 2009 Leave a comment

This is a new restaurant idea I had that could replace the stale and boring backlot tour. The idea was originally posted by me on 8/26/09 to the discussion forums at Intercot.com, one of my favorite Disney World discussion forums.

The backlot tour at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has become stale and boring over time and needs to be replaced. The following is an idea I had recently for a new restaurant that could take the place of the Backlot tour.

I think it would be a neat idea to use the front part of the backlot tour, and turn it into a new restaurant. They could call it the “Prop Room”, or the “Prop Warehouse” or something like that. It would be kind of like Planet Hollywood, but on a grander scale. They’ve already got a small “warehouse” as part of the queue that could be used to line the walls with the items in there. They would just have to expand the floor space and build a kitchen.

The waiters and waitresses could all be aspiring actors working in Hollywood. They would be dressed in coveralls as if they worked in the warehouse, or they could be wearing different prop costumes as if they had been on set. They would all have an attitude of “I’m only doing this job until I get my big break”. They could brag about a small role they had in a commercial, or knowing somebody who knows somebody whose cousin is a director who said they could get them in a movie “next week”. Or, they could be an older person, who once had a small role in a movie nobody’s ever heard of, and act frustrated when they tell about it and nobody knows it. They could also have an occasional “director” walk in and make a scene about not being able to get his props, or how his props were being used at somebody’s table. Or, he could find a “star” in the room, and do a screen test on the spot, and end it by feigning interest, only to have one of the waiters/waitresses get mad because he never gave them a callback. Another idea would be to have one or two of the street performers make an appearance and demand that they get a table right away because of their “stardom”. There are multiple ideas that could be used here, these are just a few I thought of.

The food could be themed to different classic movies, the recipes “supposedly” from some of the stars themselves. They could use old “mock” props for serving pieces and platters. The tables could have famous script lines printed on them. They could also have pictures of stars’ portfolio pictures, and maybe a list of the different movies they were in.

An issue that I thought of after posting this was that DHS already has 5 restaurants, Hollywood & Vine, 50’s Prime Time Café, Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, The Hollywood Brown Derby and Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano . So, one of these would most likely have to go. If I had my say, I would choose to axe Sci-Fi. I really like the atmosphere and theming at Sci-fi, but the food and the service have never lived up to the theme for us. It’s a shame really, because it’s a neat idea, but this is the one I would choose. I believe they could actually replace Sci-fi with this idea and it might make a good fit for the location.


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