What Does Magic Kingdom Really Need to Add?
With the pandemic mostly over, we can start evaluating the short- and long-term futures of various Disney theme parks.
Today, I thought I’d start with the one that’s about to turn 50. Don’t let its age fool you, though!
This place is just as magical as ever…but how could we make it even more magical?
What does Magic Kingdom need to add? Here are a few thoughts.
Let’s Talk about Magic Kingdom’s Shows
I’m a loyal fan of classic Disney attractions like Country Bears Jamboree and Mickey’s PhilharMagic.
I also adore the spontaneity of Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, which is basically an improv show cast members hold multiple times a day.
While the Laugh Floor recycles many jokes, each experience feels fresh and new. After all, so much of the humor relies on the people in the audience.
So, I wouldn’t touch a thing on this attraction, which I expect to return this summer.
As for Mickey’s PhilharMagic, I believe that show is perfect as is. I try to watch it at least once per Magic Kingdom visit.
However, PhilharMagic functions as a timestamp, too. It doesn’t highlight any 21st century Disney animated movies, many of which are iconic.
What I would suggest for Magic Kingdom is the introduction of a second attraction akin to PhilharMagic.
This one would tell the stories of Anna and Elsa, Moana, and Lilo and Stitch.
I would lean heavily on these properties, the ones that do the best with merchandise sales.
Should We Update or Replace Shows?
Country Bears Jamboree and Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room require more challenging conversations.
You may recall the uproar in 2019 when rumors circulated that both attractions would receive re-theming.
In fact, the Tiki Room had tried that once before, and it was a debacle.
When fans bristled, the Parks Blog reassured everyone that things would stay the same.
Similarly, Disney can NEVER take Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress out of Magic Kingdom. People would riot.
Disney always walks a fine line with its heritage, which means that updating the animatronics would prove divisive.
So, I think these attractions must stay as is.
My strategy for adding another new show involves the same approach as Great Moments in History with the Muppets.
I’d suggest temporary IP-based shows that last a year or two then get replaced. This tactic increases the urgency for return park visits.
People miss the Muppets enough that Magic Kingdom occasionally brings back these performances during peak holiday periods to entertain guests.
Every themed land at Magic Kingdom can and should offer such live entertainment.
Unfortunately, Disney cut most of it due to pandemic-related budget constraints. It’s time to loosen the purse strings again.
We need more pirates lurking around Pirates of the Caribbean!
Let’s Talk about Park Access
Here’s a topic nobody discusses that I feel bears more attention.
Currently, you may only enter Magic Kingdom from the front. Contrast that to parks like Disney California and EPCOT, which have multiple entrances.
I prefer having options, don’t you?
To its credit, Disney has streamlined the park admission process during the pandemic. MagicMobile already allows guests to enter via smartphone.
Facial recognition technology has finished testing and could receive implementation soon.
Both these methods get you into the parks faster than ever. They force you through the same admission bottleneck, though.
For a long time, rumors persisted that Disney might add an entrance gate in the Space Mountain section of the park…and they should!
Have you ever walked from Disney’s Contemporary Resort (or Bay Lake Tower) to Magic Kingdom?
You walk by the Space Mountain building on your way! If Disney added an entrance there, some guests could start their day in Tomorrowland.
In doing so, people would split the foot traffic at two different parts of the park. And I’ll even suggest a third!
Another rumor has suggested a Disney resort beside Adventureland.
This volcano-themed property may never happen, as I haven’t heard much about it for years.
However, its existence indicates that Disney has planned for an Adventureland park entrance.
Imagine how much your park visit options would expand if you could enter from Adventureland, Tomorrowland, or Main Street, U.S.A.!
Also, the crowds at the front of the park would become a distant memory!
Let’s Talk about Potential Rides
Okay, Disney’s done very well on this front. I want to acknowledge that in advance.
We only have X amount of space at Magic Kingdom, and much of it goes to rides.
Now, I still notice some wasted space when I evaluate the blueprints. For example, the Tomorrowland Speedway could host two or three attractions.
That’s a lot of acreage currently committed to one outdated ride experience.
Still, Disney would have killed the attraction already if it were doing anything there immediately.
Instead, Imagineers modified the area to fit Tron Lightcycle Power Run into that section.
Right now, the largest debate involves one of the tiniest spots. The former Stitch’s Great Escape! ride building remains unoccupied.
Before the pandemic, Disney had weighed the option of a Wreck-It Ralph VR attraction.
Since then, Ralph Breaks the Internet hasn’t held well as intellectual property.
Due to the limited building space, a VR attraction (or small show) makes the most sense. It just might not involve Ralph, though.
Otherwise, Disney is currently re-theming Jungle Cruise modestly and Splash Mountain dramatically.
Combined with the Tron roller coaster, that’s enough new rides for the next three or four years.
Let’s Talk about Parades and Fireworks
The final topic today involves something else that happened during the pandemic.
Disney temporarily stopped parades from clogging the streets. It was a way to ensure social distancing.
Oddly, the replacement amenities, the Cavalcades, proved wildly popular. If you surf YouTube, you’ll find dozens of them.
As you watch, notice the faces of the people watching the Cavalcades. They’re fully engaged in a way that few respond to the parades.
I would strongly encourage Disney to keep Cavalcades in the rotation, even as I watch the parks phase them out.
You’ll only find one at EPCOT right now, and it could go at any time. That’s a regrettable choice.
The previous Disney parade, Festival of Fantasy, is lovely when it’s not on fire.
I find the Cavalcades more intimate, though. Personal experiences embody the best of Disney, the memories you’ll carry for a lifetime.
Realistically, the only time that happens with the Festival of Fantasy is when a fire-breathing dragon swallows too hard and bursts into flame.
As for the fireworks, we’re all anxiously anticipating their return. I couldn’t offer any suggestions to improve them.
The most recent incarnation with projected digital displays is breathtaking, and Disney has already promised to zhuzh it up more.
Starting in October, pixie dust will sprinkle from the sky and make the castle more magical than ever.
Imagineers are doing everything possible to answer the question of what Magic Kingdom needs even before we can ask it!