Bring Star Wars to DisneyQuest

Should Disney Bring Star Wars to DisneyQuest? Why Disney Should Learn Lessons From Frozen’s Success

My apologies for not having written in some time. From time to time I have to go make a living. But I really love to come back to this blog, and I appreciate those who take the time to read them.

Yesterday millions of people eagerly went online and to theaters to see the trailer for the new Star Wars saga: The Force Awakens. Of those who rated it, 96% gave it a thumbs up on YouTube. Is there any question that Star Wars isn’t here to stay? This thing is going to make Disney a boat load of money. It’s true, the last three films weren’t all that well received. But they still did fairly well in the box office, and Star War fans are still hungry for more.

"There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?" From the first trailer of the new Star Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens.
“There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?” From the first trailer of the new Star Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens.

Another film people are hungry for more of is Frozen. Or course, no one knew before it came out it was going to be a box office bonanza as well. Still, how long does it take to figure out this thing has legs and you should do something big with it? I spent time at The Tokyo Disney Resort this last August. Amazing! There is still much about that experience that  I still need to write up, but I wanted to mention the one thing that wasn’t at Tokyo Disney Resort–Frozen. No character appearances–in shows, parades, meet ‘n’ greets, whatsoever. This seemed to be a huge miss. While it was released later in Japan than in most markets (not until March), the film came to be the third-highest grossing film in Japan at the time behind Titanic and Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. It’s absence at Tokyo Disney was a stark contrast to the Frozen Summer event that had just premiered at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The best I could find in Tokyo was a few random pieces of merchandise. I thought it was very strange. It was if everyone was being too cautious about doing anything related to a new film. It seemed like a big miss.

Of some 1,000 photos taken while at Tokyo Disney Resort, this is the only one that has any reference to Frozen. Can you see Olaf? Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Of some 1,000 photos taken while at Tokyo Disney Resort, this is the only one that has any reference to Frozen. Can you see Olaf? Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

It was probably because of the success of the Studio’s summer celebration that only days after I got home that Tokyo Disneyland announced it was going to have Anna and Elsa’s Frozen Fantasy–a celebration not too unlike the Frozen event at the Studios. This event is timed from January through March–a season that is probably the lowest in attendance–largely because it is rather frozen in Tokyo that time of year. I would not be surprised to see attendance increase substantially during that time. Disney California Adventure is slated to do something similar–again, not as part of the Christmas holiday, but to improve attendance in dead of winter.

Here’s my point: Disney was months into an enormously successful film before someone finally said, “We should do something more than a meet ‘n’ greet for Frozen.” Most people have no clue that the Studio event went from decision to implementation to opening weekend in only two weeks. It was their way of countering to Harry Potter down the street. And for the investment, it made a big return. I’m sure that changing out Maelstrom was well underway, but why did it take so long to figure out you could do something so much bigger, so much sooner–even for a very reasonable investment?

All of this counters to a recent Orlando Sentinel article that questioned whether interest in Frozen was waning. You wouldn’t know the other night when I tried to move enter in the hub of The Magic Kingdom a few minutes after the new Cinderella Castle lighting show, A Frozen Holiday Wish, had just taken place. The area was packed–“frozen” in place. I heard from Cast Members who stated that on a previous night the crowd started frustratedly chanting in front of the castle when the show was rained out at the last minute. Only at The Magic Kingdom could you have protests over not seeing a Frozen show.No, Frozen is not going away. This is one snowball that is building momentum.

So what does all of this have to do with Star Wars? Reading about the new trailer made me think about this poster I saw for the first time the other day in front of DisneyQuest.

I could see Buzz Lightyear or Pirates of the Caribbean advertised here, but Star Wars? Photo by J. Jeff Kober
I could see Buzz Lightyear or Pirates of the Caribbean advertised here, but Star Wars? Photo by J. Jeff Kober

What makes this strange is that there is no strong Star Wars presence in DisneyQuest–only a few arcade machines–popular as they might be. Why would they link the attractions inside to Star Wars when there is no serious Star Wars presence? Curiously, at the same time “Ride the Comix” closed only a couple of months ago. These vehicles–found on two floors, were a major attraction for DisneyQuest, and now they’re gone.

I think these vehicles are begging to have a new paint job and attraction inside them. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
I think these vehicles are begging to have a new paint job and attraction inside them. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Now I may simply be making a link that really is as stretched as they come, but I have always thought these vehicle platforms for “Ride the Comix” looked a lot like Bantha-II cargo skiffs, like the one used over the Pit of Carkoon in the third Star Wars installment, Episode VI Return of the Jedi. Again, it’s only conjecture, but if I were Disney, and I would want to really take advantage of  the Star Wars brand, I would be stretching opportunities throughout the parks, like Universal does to Harry. “Ride the Comix” even used a sort of Lightsaber. Wouldn’t this make sense? Yes, it would take a little bit of investment–but it would be minor compared to the number of people who would suddenly show up at the door step of DisneyQuest. And it would cost a lot less than gutting the building and doing something else.

Here’s my point: Don’t get frozen feet. Take chances Disney. If I were making a guess on any film being successful, it would have to be the new Star Wars movie. It only makes sense to add an attraction to DisneyQuest to liven that experience up. If you can be assured that Frozen will bring in a massive amount of people for a modest investment in a seasonal experience, you can be assured that the same modest kind of investment in Star Wars at DisneyQuest will do even better. And you don’t have to wait until Episode VII comes out to be sure of that.

Oh and by the way, let’s not wait so long to get construction moving on adding more Star Wars to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Don’t let that one sit in carbonate too long.

What about you? Does having a major Star Wars attraction at DisneyQuest interest you? Would your next visit to Walt Disney World include DisneyQuest if it included an attraction based on Star Wars?

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