Orlando focus may shift back to Disney with Fantasyland expansion

Posted Monday, January 9, 2012 8:54 AM | Contributed by Jeff

After nearly two years largely focused on Universal Orlando and Harry Potter, 2012 may be the year that Walt Disney World wrests back the spotlight from its smaller theme-park rival. Two of Disney World's biggest capital projects in recent memory are expected to begin bearing fruit this year: the expansion of Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom, which analysts have estimated will cost $425 million, and the sweeping technology initiative dubbed "Next Generation Experience," projected to cost at least $1 billion.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012 9:43 PM

I do have to say that I love the idea of refurbishing Test Track. That has always been my all time favorite ride at Epcot. Soarin could be better if they put in a new video every couple years but that's a different topic. It'll be nice to see a new test track but I really don't like the idea of designing your own car. The next gen is GREAT on Space Mountain but with Test Track, I just wanna ride the ride. I don't wanna have to design this and that. Also part of the fun in Test Tracks queue is looking at all the dummy's and the cars.

IMO, when it gets down to it, it doesn't sound organized. I imagine people roaming around a big open room designing cars and waiting for their number to be called like at a restaurant.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012 10:05 PM

I'm pretty sure Soarin' is film.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012 12:33 AM

My experience is that the "NextGen" Space Mountain queue rarely is utilized to full effect -I have gotten to play the games a few times, but mostly we walk right by them and then get stuck in "the pen" for longer than would have been optimal if they'd simply closed off some rows and had the line back up far enough to bring the games area into play...I only mention it because it came up, and Disney *almost always* has those kinds of details WELL in order.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012 6:06 AM

I don't mind preplanning out my vacation. Last visit we set our table service meals up at least 4 months ahead of time. The only thing that we planned ahead of time along with our dinners was what days we'd be going to other parks. The day we went to BGT we didn't use the credit that day and doubled up to go to a dinner show. On the days we went to universal we ate later at night. We didn't have to plan a whole itinerary for the day. We just had to plan for when and where dinner was so we were on time. I'm not opposed to planning our whole day out, but I prefer to go with the flow of the day.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012 2:59 PM

Jeff said:
I'm pretty sure Soarin' is film.

It is filmed, but nothing says that can't add a new film to change up the scenes every couple years.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012 3:21 PM

When we were there this summer, people rushed to Soarin at park opening and FP tickets were gone pretty early in the day. They can get a new film and change the programing of the ride to match, but at this point, it doesn't appear that they need to do that.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012 3:46 PM

My point is that it's not video, as you indicated. Though it does make me wonder when they'll convert it. The Simpsons Ride shows that the technology is more than ready. The Soarin' print showing the last time I did it was in poor condition.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012 3:47 PM

Don't get me wrong, the ride is awesome and one of the best in all of Disney but like a lot of things, an updated video would be awesome.

It's not like in order to do that they need to totally revamp the ride.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012 3:49 PM

/me smacks forehead

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012 9:19 PM

I'd imagine a switch to digital would occur if the long-rumored "Soarin' Over the World" (flying over landmarks around the world) actually happens at some point.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012 10:20 PM

I am still dumbfounded by all of the love for Soarin.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012 11:12 PM

I think it's the simplicity of it. The flying sensation is reasonably convincing, and kind of neat with the "wind." We've made a point to do it at least twice each visit.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012 11:33 PM

It also has a broad appeal across all ages. The experience can be exciting to folks that typically avoid simulators and thrill rides (by virtue of the "lift-off" and gentle flying sensation) and it can also be mellow and relaxing to others who are used to more thrills.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012 10:34 AM

I am still dumbfounded by all of the love for Soarin.

I think Jeff captures part of it, but it's not just the ride system. The score (which is awesome) combined with the scenes somehow manage to capture drama. None of the elements individually is world-changing, but the ensemble somehow Just Works and reaches people in ways most other attractions don't quite manage.

Nearly every time I've ever ridden it, an enthusiastic audience applauds at the end. That's pretty rare for a no-humans-involved attraction.

But, the film is in horrendous shape---to the point where it really distracts from the overall impact of the attraction.

Last edited by Brian Noble, Thursday, January 12, 2012 10:35 AM
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Thursday, January 12, 2012 11:08 AM

See, I figured they'd just have a bunch of prints and replace them as necessary, they way they do for Spiderman (until they convert to digital projection this year). But yeah, the one I saw had scratches and a hair in the projector.

To get nerdy, I wonder if they'd consider shooting future versions at 60 fps. They opted for 24 fps on the Harry Potter ride, and I'm not sure if that makes sense. Doesn't the Simpsons Ride do 60?

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Thursday, January 12, 2012 12:38 PM

Were the Harry Potter movies filmed at 24 fps? If they were, I could see them wanting to keep the feel the same (though I doubt most people would notice) with the ride. And the Simpsons are TV based which is at 30 fps so I can see why they would have the Simpson ride at 60 fps.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012 1:15 PM

I figured they'd just have a bunch of prints and replace them as necessary

They might, but there is often visible dust in the projector, and that might be enough to ruin the prints faster than they can get around to replacing them.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012 1:16 PM

Almost every movie for all time was shot at 24 fps, though Cameron and Jackson have recently been experimenting with higher rates. The problem is that 24 fps "feels" like a movie to most of us, while 30 or 60 "feels" like the news or sports. Part of the film esthetic is that rate. One of the problems with that is that it has never been good for tracking horizontal motion, but even that is part of the "feel" we expect now.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012 1:24 PM

Seems to me that Potter fans experiences with Potter in moving action is at the movies. So if you want to make people feel like they are part of that moving action when they are on the Potter ride, doesn't it make sense to have the ride at 24 fps? Maybe the experience from a purely visual stand point would have been better at 60 fps. But I can see the sense in having it at 24 fps.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012 1:52 PM

I believe they did some testing at both rates, as well as several resolutions (I'm fairly sure they're using 4k projection, which is about four times what a lot of digital movie theaters are doing). It's interesting how fast projection and acquisition technology is moving in the last few years. In fact, JVC just announced a 4k hand-held camera for under $5k. That's nuts.

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