Disney World’s Latest Update Continues a Divisive Trend, Expert Weighs In

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Magic Kingdom crowd levels memorial day weekend

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The Walt Disney Company is so beloved because it encompasses many popular franchises. The entertainment catalog, teamed with its theme parks, has made the House of Mouse one of the most valuable companies in the world. But, it is not always a harmonious relationship between the brands that Disney owns and its industry-leading theme park business.

Child wearing Mickey Mouse hat with parents in front of Cinderella Castle
Credit: Disney

Walt Disney World Resort, found in Orlando, Central Florida, is one of the most popular theme park destinations in the world. Housing four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom), two water parks (Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach), as well as Disney Springs and a plethora of hotels, it’s no wonder Guests choose to flock back to the Disney Park year after year.

Performers in front of Spaceship Earth
Credit: D23

Over the more recent years, though, Disney World, and by extension, the rest of the Disney Parks brand, has suffered fan backlash like never before. From complaints over the polarizing Park Pass reservation system and its associated Park Hopper function to the arrival of the paid “FastPass” offering Disney Genie+ and the a la carte Individual Lightning Lane, Disney World has come under fire for its increasing difficulty to navigate and rising prices.

Accessing Genie+ service from smartphone
Credit: Disney

That said, attendance has been relatively strong at the Resort following the pandemic shutdowns as many head to get their piece of Mickey Mouse magic.

Since reopening, Disney World has opened a number of attractions, including the popular Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in EPCOT’s France pavilion, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind in EPCOT’s new World Discovery neighborhood (formerly Future World), and the TRON Lightcyle / Run ride in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom.

Because these are all based on popular franchises, they all have one thing in common — they are based on Disney-owned Intellectual Property. And the constant use of IP has been a debate for the ages.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind cover art
Credit: Disney

Disney World IP

Of course, Disney — one of the biggest entertainment corporations on the planet, which owns the likes of Lucasfilm and Marvel Studios — will incorporate its IP into the theme park space. But as more and more get created or rebranded (looking at you, Frozen Ever After), a part of the fanbase is crying out for more Disney originality.

However, it looks like IP infusion isn’t going anywhere soon.

Speaking to Click Orlando, the International Association of Amusement Park and Attractions (IAAPA) CEO discussed the trends sweeping the industry. “Delivering the same services to the same people is stagnation,” said Jakob Wahl. “The theme park industry is huge about innovation.”

External Shot of TRON attraction and signage at Disney World
Credit: Disney

Report: Bob Iger Wants More IP at Disney World and This Is What Could Be Coming

The report acknowledges Wahl’s comments on how “parks are creating rides less focused on being the biggest and fastest, [and] instead, companies like Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld are honing in on new technologies and intellectual property.”

In fact, Disney’s next big IP attraction is just mere months away from opening. Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana, is slated to open in late 2023 and will take Guests on a circular loop around water-based attractions all inspired by the 2016 movie Moana. The update to EPCOT will strengthen the offering in the World Nature area of the Park.

Disney World Imagineers and officials testing out the new Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana attraction at EPCOT
Credit: Disney

Like Disney Parks, Universal Destinations and Experiences (formerly Universal Parks & Resorts) is also going heavy on keeping IP prominent in the parks. Most recently, Universal Studios Florida opened the new Villain-Con Minion Blast attraction, based on the Despicable Me franchise. And in 2025, it will debut its massive new theme park, Universal Epic Universe, complete with lands themed to franchises like How to Train Your Dragon, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and SUPER NINTENDO WORLD.

IP is everywhere, and if the recent success of incorporating more Marvel, such as The Art of Marvel rebranding of Disney’s Hotel New York at Disneyland Paris and the Avengers Campus land at both Paris and Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, is anything to go by, it is also here to stay.

All the characters at Avengers Campus in Disneyland Paris
Credit: Disney

Related: Iger and D’Amaro Collaborating on Infusing MORE IP at Disney Parks

In the future, it can be expected that Disney World IP will grow to include new areas themed to Zootopia (2016), Moana, Coco (2017), and Encanto (2021) if Josh D’Amaro’s “blue sky” ideas come to fruition.

What are your thoughts on Disney World IP? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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