Expansion Sounds Nice, But Without Successful Original Content, Disney Parks are Going Nowhere

disney parks expansion
Credit: Disney/ Canva

Disney Parks are known for their enchanting experiences and captivating content that have entertained generations of visitors. However, in an ever-changing entertainment landscape, it’s natural to question whether Disney Parks expansion can continue successfully even if their original content faces challenges.

Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park

Credit: Disney

As moviegoers seem unhappy with new Disney products like Elemental (2021) and Wish (2023), while others are complaining about Disney rehashing old stories into new ones or promising sequel after sequel to films like Frozen (2013), we have to consider the possibility that our own dissatisfaction with Disney’s current slate of original content is to blame.

Sensational Storytelling

Disney’s ability to captivate audiences stems from its exceptional storytelling. While the success of original content is crucial, Disney Parks, such as Disney World, can still expand by leveraging their rich catalog of beloved characters and timeless stories while acquiring new intellectual properties.

anna from the Frozen series (left) smiling at Snow White

Credit: Disney, Canva

By skillfully integrating these elements into new attractions and experiences, The Walt Disney Company can create immersive environments that resonate with guests, regardless of the performance of their original content.

More of the Same

However, a problem occurs when guests to popular Disney destinations like Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, and so on grow bored with seeing the same old Disney Princesses and characters wandering the magical streets of Animal Kingdom, Tokyo Disney Resort, or Disneyland Paris.

Mickey Mouse and Child Disney Military Salute Ticket Pricing

Credit: Disney

Despite the evolution of experiences at Disney’s multiple domestic and international theme parks, some guests have complained regarding the reuse of classic Disney characters at places like Magic Kingdom.

Related: Investors, Wall Street Angry Over Disney’s New $60 Billion Parks Strategy

The problem is that Disney, which relies heavily on its properties to set its theme parks apart from other similar business models, can’t expand without reusing the same stories and features from popular films like Frozen (2013). This is primarily due to their ineffectiveness in registering with audiences at the box office.

Evolving Experiences

Disney Parks like Magic Kingdom at Disney World and Shanghai Disneyland have a remarkable ability to evolve and adapt to changing times. By embracing technological advancements and incorporating them into their attractions, Disney can enhance the overall visitor experience.

World of Frozen Elsa and Anna

Credit: DisneyParksBlog

For instance, the integration of cutting-edge animatronics, virtual reality, and augmented reality can breathe new life into existing content, allowing guests to rediscover and engage with beloved characters in exciting and novel ways.

This is all well and fine until you realize that those same ground-breaking technologies will most likely be used to bring more Frozen, Toy Story, Star Wars, and Marvel products to each theme park. It’s doubtful that Bob Iger and other Disney executives are unaware of the success surrounding these IPs, but at what point do Disney theme park guests want more?

Star Wars Rise of the Resistance

Credit: Disney

South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone certainly seem to think so, as their latest jab at Bob Iger and Kathleen Keenedy suggests that Disney has become lazy in their writing, leaving little originality left in the wonderful world of movie making and animation.

Synergistic Collaborations

Collaborations with other studios, franchises, and intellectual properties can provide an incredible opportunity for Disney Parks to expand their offerings. By partnering with established brands like Disney-owned-Pixar, Disney can tap into existing fan bases and attract new audiences.

character meet and greet magic kingdom

Credit: Disney

This strategy allows Disney Parks to introduce fresh content within their expanding universe, rejuvenating the visitor experience and ensuring continuous growth, even with failing original content as of late.

Disney Parks Expansion

In a recent article published by MSN, notable cash-cows like Princess Ana, Olaf, and Queen Elsa from Disney’s Frozen were discussed alongside recent insight into The Walt Disney Company’s ten-year plan to “turbocharge” their theme park growth.

bob iger disney parks

Credit: Disney Parks Blog

“It goes without saying that Frozen is probably one of our most successful franchises ever,” Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger told USA TODAY in an interview alongside Frozen’s creator and co-director and Walt Disney Animation Studios Chief Creative Officer Jennifer Lee, Disney Experiences Chairman Josh D’Amaro and Disney Entertainment Co-chairman Alan Bergman.”

Related: Op-Ed: What Does a “Turbo Charged” Disney World Look Like in Ten Years?

Speaking of Josh D’Amaro, he recently told employees at a town hall meeting that Anaheim possess enough space to build an entirely new Disneyland. So, yes, it sounds like expansion is clearly on the minds of Disney bigwigs, but what will they fill their new parks and lands with?

As the World of Frozen takes shape at Hong Kong Disneyland, the extremely popular animated feature has made a name for itself in Disney parks around the globe. Whether it’s EPCOT or Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Disney Springs, or Downtown Disney in California, the exciting story is a large draw for The Walt Disney Company.

Bob iger villain Walt disney company ceo chief executive officer bob Chapek disney villain Robert iger Robert a iger chairman

Credit: Village Global/ Flickr, Disney

However, as Disney has committed to expanding their park experiences, including new lands, rides, shows, and attractions (with some speculating even a new park at Disney World), are guests happy with more Frozen? Or more Marvel and Star Wars? Or Should each Disney Park be a home for new, original content, despite how it performs at the box office?

Reinventing the Classics

Disney Parks can breathe new life into failing original content by reimagining and revitalizing classic attractions. By incorporating innovative technologies, updating storytelling techniques, and enhancing visual effects, Disney can transform outdated experiences into modern marvels. This approach not only appeals to nostalgia-driven guests but also attracts new visitors who are drawn to the allure of a revitalized and modernized park experience.

live action snow white walt disney

Credit: Disney/ ABC

Still, we have to wonder if the same old, same old is enough to fill up new, potentially expanding theme parks. Although Disney has already announced expansions and rethemes, including Zootopia (2016), is nostalgia enough to keep building new experiences around? Will guests ever grow tired of the old and want something new? Is Disney making the same mistakes by rehashing old stories with new looks, both at the movies and in theme parks?

Creating Unforgettable Watercooler Moments

Disney Parks have a history of creating unforgettable moments that define generations. By focusing on creating unique and awe-inspiring experiences, Disney could transcend any challenges faced by original content.

halle bailey (forefront) during ABC interview, Live-Action Little Mermaid poster (background)

Credit: Disney, ABC, Canva

However, a growing number of fans are weary of the same stories being told over and over. This is partially the reason for box office failures like The Little Mermaid (2023) and Haunted Mansion (2023). Fans don’t want Disney messing their the classics too much, but to continue to expand park experiences to meet demand, they’ll have to provide new products and attractions.

Can Disney Expansion Happen without Well Performing Original Content

Although there is zero doubt that vacation destinations like Walt Disney World Resort will continue a trend of creating groundbreaking rides and shows, immersive lands, and events, all of which will continue to surprise and delight audiences, the line in the sand says that to expand, Disney needs new, well-performing content like Encanto (2021).

Related: According to Disney Exec, ‘Zootopia 2’ Is ‘As Good or Better’ Than Original

While the success of original content is vital for Disney Parks, it is not the sole determinant of their expansion, although it is important. Through exceptional storytelling, evolving experiences, synergistic collaborations, reinventing classics, and creating unforgettable moments, Disney Parks can overcome failing original content and continue to expand successfully. By embracing innovation and adapting to the ever-changing entertainment landscape, Disney Parks will continue to enchant guests with magical experiences for generations to come.

The views and opinions in this article are reflections of the author, and not Disney Dining or The Walt Disney Company.

About Michael Arnold

Michael is a father, husband, and an Army Veteran. Michael spends his weekends at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando checking out new merchandise and food. Michael is a graduate of the University of Alabama and has an education background in Public Health. You can find Michael riding Pirates of the Caribbean over and over again or binge watching new Marvel and Star Wars content. Han shot first. Thor is the strongest Avenger. Roll Tide and Wash Your Hands!