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Should Disney World's Cirque du Soleil show be replaced by something more Marvel-ous?

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Should Disney World's Cirque du Soleil show be replaced by something more Marvel-ous?

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Have you heard about this survey that's been making the rounds? The one that asks people who've previously attended performances of La Nouba (i.e. that Cirque du Soleil show that's been entertaining WDW visitors on Downtown Disney's West Side since December of 1998) about a possible replacement for this popular nighttime show.

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There are two questions in particular on this survey that have got themed entertainment insiders buzzing. The first asks:

 "Let's imagine that Cirque du Soleil opens a new show in Downtown Disney at the Walt Disney World Resort, right next to where you attended La Nouba. How likely would you be to attend this new show if you were to go back to the Walt Disney World Resort?"

The second then solicited people's opinions about possible show concepts for this La Nouba companion show " ... that Cirque du Soleil could (possibly) open in Downtown Disney." Among the concepts that this survey mentioned were:

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  • A show based on the Disney characters
  • A show created specifically for kids ages 6-14
  • A show based on a Hollywood blockbuster movie (like Avatar)

Survey participants were also asked if they'd like to see a clone of one of Cirque du Soleil's other shows built at WDW. To be specific:

  • Another family-friendly show (comparable to La Nouba)
  • An adult sensual cabaret - like Zummanity
  • A magic show like Chris Angel Believe
  • A true classic Cirque du Soleil production - like Varekai
  • A Water Show - like O

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So what exactly is going on here? Is Cirque du Soleil serious about possibly setting up a second show at Downtown Disney? Not exactly, no.

No, what this survey is really all about is what happens in this corner of Walt Disney World come 2013. To be specific, what Downtown Disney will be like after construction of the Hyperion Wharf project is complete.

Let's remember that one of the main reasons that WDW management pulled the plug on Pleasure Island was because they were working to improve Guest flow across Downtown Disney. Not have that gated collection of nightclubs, shops and restaurants that sat at the center of this 120-acre complex continue to serve as a defacto barrier between WDW's original shopping village and the West Side expansion which opened back in 1997.

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This is why Hyperion Wharf - in addition to having an innovative array of new dining, shopping and entertainment experiences -- will feature wide-open spaces. A relaxing lakeside park as well as enhanced pedestrian walkways. Which will then make it that much easier for WDW visitors to cross this complex.

Which brings us back to that Cirque du Soleil survey. Truth be told, what Disney's really looking to do here is - once construction of Hyperion Wharf is completed in 2013 - is come up with a compelling new carrot for Downtown Disney's West Side. Give WDW Guests (who nowadays tend to cluster in that relatively small area between Rainforest Café and the World of Disney store) a reason to wander all the way over to the other side of this complex and then once again sample some of the West Side's shops & restaurants.

And in the Company's eyes, the easiest way to do this is by staging a brand-new spectacular inside of that 9-story circus-tent-like structure that sits at the edge of Lake Buena Vista.

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"But would Cirque du Soleil really build a new show around the Disney characters?," you ask. Well, let's remember that - in the 12+ years that Mickey and this Québec-based company have been in bed together - Cirque's creative team have built staggeringly entertaining shows around the lives & music of Elvis Presley, the Beatles and (coming soon to a city near you in October of 2011) Michael Jackson. So is it really all that hard to believe that they could do the same with the Disney characters?

More to the point, let's remember that - these days - the library of characters & stories that Cirque du Soleil could draw from extends far beyond the Fab Five. They now include the Muppets plus all of the  characters from the Pixar & Pirates of Caribbean films. Not to mention all of those comic book favorites that the Company acquired with its purchase of Marvel Entertainment, Inc. back in 2009.

In fact, when I was talking with a Company insider earlier this week, they actually floated the idea that this new Cirque du Soleil show might be the way that the Marvel characters finally make their way into Walt Disney World. As they explained this somewhat convoluted situation to me:

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"Those licensing agreements that Universal and Marvel worked out in the 1990s are very specific about what can and can not be done with Marvel's characters inside of a competing theme park on the East Coast. But Downtown Disney isn't a theme park, is it? Which gives the Company's attorneys a loophole that they could potentially explore if Cirque du Soleil actually wanted to pursue this idea."

So what do you folks think? Would a show like "Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark" (with fewer people falling & injuring themselves, of course) be a compelling enough reason for you to return to WDW's Cirque du Soleil theater? More importantly, pony up $120 for a seat as well as revisit some of the shops & restaurants on Downtown Disney's West Side? If not, what sort of Cirque-style entertainment would you like to see replace La Nouba?

Your thoughts?

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  • Exactly how long does the deal between Marvel and Universal last? I remember reading that within the coming years the Marvel theming would slowly start to fade away from Islands of Avdentures(First the walking characters, then the stores, etc.)

    Will we never see an Iron Man or X-Men ride at Disney?

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  • If Disney were looking for a way to dilute its brand identity and also to end up in a lengthy lawsuit with Universal, this dumb concept to theme Cirque as Marvel would be just the way to go.

    I would invoke the lesson of Epcot here.  Some things are better without a guy in a Mickey suit thrown into the mix.  Or in this case, a guy with some spidery nylon.  If you have artistic expression, you probably don't need Mickey on stage as well.

  • That's so funny Jim. Last week I was reading "Cirque du Soleil: The Spark" and was thinking that very identical thing. It's the best option I could ever imagine going in there. I just wonder if beyond the Universal legal agreements, there isn't some legal tie to doing a "theatrical" production since Julie Taymor is doing Spiderman. And I can't imagine a Marvel show not having Spiderman. That said, when there's a will, there's a legal way!

  • **Will we never see an Iron Man or X-Men ride at Disney?**

    Yes. Never. If there's a God in heaven.

    The idea of something like that giant Wolverine placard stuck to the side of ANY building in WDW makes me want to hurl.

    If Disney wants a new idea for a Cirque du Soleil show, I've got one...well, actually it's an old idea: FANTASIA. A Cirque du Soleil show based on Fantasia could be awesome.

  • I find it amazing that Zumanity would be considered. I've seen it. It isn't for the squeamish and it is definitely on the cutting edge. It is well suited for Las Vegas and it should stay there for that reason. It is not for anyone under 18. It will flop instantly. The original show took years to evolve to where it is now. I would still call it experimental. It does have some amazing sensual elements that could be transfered to a more family show. I love the 2 women stunt swimmers in the bowl. How do they do that?

    The best bet is a Beatles show. I think it fits quite well. It appeals to the mainstream crowd. Don't do another standard Soleil show since La Nouba is a classic show of that type.

    As for trying to get people to the other side, well, it won't work. People congregate to one spot because they are used to it. A show will only get people there for a brief amount of time. After a show, it clears out again. Have you ever been to theater complexes?  Many are dead before and after a show. There is life during intermission. Cirque don't have intermissions. People will leave after a show.

    The "Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark" might be a good idea if they fix it. I wouldn't count it on for a LONG TIME.

  • How does a $120 a ticket attraction serve as any sort of "weenie"?  Are they really expecting people to wander over from WoD to look at the building and say, "Hey kids, look!  No way we can afford to go there!"

    As for any potential loophole, I'm sure "theme park" is defined in the original Marvel/Universal contract.  I can't believe the definition isn't broad enough to include DTD.

  • Maybe this would force universal's hand releasing the marvel characters sooner than they want. An xmen ride is definitely feasible,  disney didnt buy these properties to not maximize the most potential out of them. Disney has been very careful thus far in they're use of these characters furthermore universal licenses in too many outside properties already.

  • Beatles please.

  • I have nothing against superheroes and actually enjoy the films they've released on most of them in recent years, however, I NEVER want to see them in cohabitation with Mickey & Co.

    Build a completely separate establishment if you must but please don't ruin the Disney magic but mixing it with something that simply won't mix. My life (as I'm sure many others as well) will be happier if I never see Mickey dressed as Spidey or anyone else.

  • I know I'm in the minority, I know, but boy, a reasonable dinner and a nice quiet stroll through the old LBV village sounds great. Maybe a couple of places to have a drink and hear some music, but not "high energy dancing" and not $120/ticket theatre shows after a long day of walking and watching shows at theme parks.

    Then again, although I keep saying I'm in the minority, Pleasure Island/DTD has never really worked, has it? Maybe not so much the minority.

  • I think traveling to and from Downtown Disney is too difficult.  If you're at a Disney theme park, you have to take a bus to one of the resorts and connect to a bus to Downtown Disney.  Given this frustration, Disney needs to setup their game at Downtown Disney to make the nearly hour travel to and from worth the effort.  And since Disney is encouraging folks to avoid renting cars, so they don't head over to Universal, this travel issue makes me less likely to want to bother with Downtown Disney at all.  So I'm not likely to drop $120 on a ticket and deal with the 2 hours of travel.  I'd be better off staying at a Universal hotel and spending time in their downtown area instead, which is setup like Disney's downtown on the west coast.

  • Wow!! That really would be amazing! I would love to see an addition of Marvel...get to it!! :0)

  • Personally, I would build another theater in addition to Cirque du Soleil that was designed for Disney's Broadway productions.    Disney could rotate the shows off of Broadway and into this theater.    There are so many possibilities (Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan, Mary Poppins, etc) it surprises me that this hasn't been done before.    These are so different from what Cirque does that I'd imagine the area could support both, but perhaps Cirque has an exclusivity guarantee.

  • I don't think West Side or even Hyperion Wharf will ever enjoy the guest volume that the village has until they fix the transportation issues of both getting to, and then getting around INSIDE of, this complex.  

    Let's not even get into the whole bus nightmare versus monorail extension discussion.  Once you're in the Village, unless you're training for a marathon you'd be hard-pressed to find a reason to exert the physical endurance necessary to climb up through PI into West Side.  The only reason most folks go to PI is because they can't find a parking space at the Village.  And the only reason folks go to West Side is to see a movie or Cirque.  

    I don't think that replacing La Nouba with a new show is compelling enough for folks to make the hike.  The complex is just too large.  Put in some boat transportation or (dare I say it?) PeopleMover that connects the Village, PI, and West Side... and then, just then, you might start seeing different guest traffic patterns that you can then begin to influence with new restaurants, shops, and yes... new shows.

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