Monday, September 22, 2014

Frozen and Harry Potter

The Orlando Informer has this post discussing Disney's obsession with Frozen and Universal's big investment in Harry Potter.  Disney's recent announcement of replacing Maelstrom at the EPCOT Norway pavillion with a Frozen attraction serves to highlight how much Disney is trying to leverage the Frozen franchise.  Critics, and there are many, ask why Disney is spending money this way instead of investing in new attractions.  Also, some people see the countries at EPCOT losing their identity.  To paraphrase the beginning of Maelstrom, you are not the first to pass this way but someone is going to be the last.  Over the falls one last time.

But, as the post points out, Universal has its share of critics complaining about its obsession with Harry Potter.
The honest, if still leading, question and all the debate it invariably causes is actually strikingly similar to the growing contention among Universal fans regarding that company’s franchise of choice: Harry Potter. With two theme park lands already devoted to the property and at least two more phases, including more attractions and, possibly, even another land at Universal Studios Florida, already rumored to be under consideration, cries of overkill and fears of franchise fatigue have already reached a pitched level.
 So there are obvious differences in the way development at Universal and WDW is being managed, and the discussion about which is the better approach might be a bit of apples to oranges.
There is an extremely telling element to Disney’s handling of its biggest property from the past 20 years, and that is the form the attractions have taken, which have, thus far, revolved almost exclusively around character meet-‘n-greets and exclusive, time-sensitive celebrations and merchandise offerings.
There’s an easy explanation for this: money. Whereas Universal has only just started to build up its theme park infrastructure in terms of rides, restaurants, and hotels, Disney has reached its sweet spot some years ago, meaning that the return on investment is nowhere near as large as it used to be in Disney World’s youth (or Universal Orlando’s present).
 Disney's approach has the advantage of agility and flexibility.  Frozen's success was apparently a surprise and Disney is quick to take advantage of it.  This strategy also allows Disney to quickly change out elements that are no longer as popular.  Critics would say that this is just a facade and the lack of major new attractions will ultimately hurt Disney.  But at this point this does not seem to be a problem.

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