PixiePal 225 recently wrote into say:
I've been following the Fantasyland expansion project at
WDW's Magic Kingdom for a couple of years now. And while I love the level of design
and attention to detail that I've been seeing in the completed portions of Storybook
Circus, as a Tinkerbell fan, I have to admit that I find myself missing what
was originally supposed to have replaced Mickey's Toontown Fair. Which was a
full-scale walk-through mini-land celebrating Disney Fairies.
Concept art for the Pixie
Hollow section that was originally proposed for Disney World's Fantasyland
expansion project. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
Given how popular the Disney Fairies franchise is, I was surprised
when I learned that this portion of the Fantasyland expansion had been
cancelled in favor of Storybook Circus. Is there a particular reason that the
Imagineers made this change after they'd previously publicly announced Pixie
To be blunt, PixiePal 225, there are two specific reasons that
Pixie Hollows wound up getting nixed as Mickey's Toontown Fair's replacement.
And both of them have to do with Disney CEO Bob Iger's November 2009 decision
to have Tom Staggs and Jay Rasulo swap jobs. So that Disney's then-Chief
Financial Officer would become Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts while
the Head of Parks & Resorts would then become Disney's new CFO.
Jay Rasulo's take on the
Fantasyland expansion project. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights
Now while Rasulo had been riding herd on the Fantasyland
expansion project, Jay had wanted this new portion of the Magic Kingdom to wholeheartedly
support two of the Company's biggest franchises, Disney Princess and Disney
Fairies. Which is why -- in addition to Pixie Hollow -- Fantasyland was
originally supposed to have had three NextGen Disney Princess meet-n-greets.
Where Guests could have gotten face time not only with Belle from "Beauty and the Beast" but also with Cinderella
and Sleeping Beauty.
But when Staggs came on board as the new head of Walt Disney
Parks & Resorts ... Well, you gotta keep in mind that Tom has two
relatively young sons. And when he was looking at the Fantasyland expansion
project, he saw a $400 million addition to the Magic Kingdom that was pretty
lopsided. Meaning that there was plenty here that would appeal to young girls
but little or nothing that would attract small boys.
The entrance to Mickey's
Toontown Fair County Bounty retail space
More to the point, Staggs -- in his former role as CFO --
was very aware of which stores at the Walt Disney World Resort generated the
highest revenue. And given that County Bounty (i.e. that huge store which served
as the post-show area for those super-popular character meet-n-greets which used to be
offered to Guests in the Mickey's Toontown Fair portion of this theme park) was second
only to the Magic Kingdom's Emporium in terms of highest-level-of-in-park-retail-sales
... Well, Tom really didn't like the idea of shutting down that terrific
revenue stream just so the Imagineers could then build a full-sized version of
the Pixie Dust Tree.
So Staggs reached out to the Imagineers and asked that they overhaul
their Fantasyland expansion plans. Tom
wanted WDI to take a far more balanced approach to this addition to the Magic
Kingdom, making sure that there were rides, shows and attractions here that
appealed to little boys as well as little girls. More to the point, Staggs
ordered that the Imagineers find a way to keep County Bounty right where it
was. So that once Fantasyland's facelift was completed, this super-popular
store could once again still service the Guests who were visiting this theme
Enterprises,Inc. All rights reserved
And given that County Bounty was housed in a giant tent-like
structure ... Well, it didn't take all that much imagination on the Imagineers'
part to use the County Bounty building as the new inspiration for a brand-new
theme for this corner of the Magic Kingdom. One that would then drop Disney's storybook
characters into a circus-type setting. More to the point, which would then
allow County Bounty (with a brand-new name, mind you. Big Top Souvenirs) to
remain in operation.
Luckily for the crew working on the Fantasyland expansion
project, there was plenty of inspirational material to be found in WDI's
concept art morgue. The Imagineers pulled a number of the pieces that had
originally been created for Dumbo's Circusland (which -- appropriately enough
-- had been an expansion of Disneyland's Fantasyland which had originally been
designed back in the early 1970s but never greenlit) and used those as their
The model that the Imagineers
built for Disneyland's proposed Dumbo's Circusland addition back in the early 1970s. Copyright Disney
Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
As for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ... To be honest, this is
another project that had been languishing for decades. I remember hearing
Imagineers talk in the early 1990s about how this "Snow White"
-themed runaway train ride would make a perfect addition to Euro Disneyland's
Fantasyland during Phase II of the construction of that theme park. But then
when Euro Disney opened in April of 1992 and failed to meet its financial
targets, WDI was forced to rethink its original expansion plan for EDL's Magic
Kingdom. And instead of building the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in order to
increase that theme park's hourly ride capacity, they opted to go with the
far-more-affordable Le Pays des Contes de Fées (i.e. the Storybook Canal Boat
ride), Casey Jr. - Le Petit Train du Cirque and Les Pirouettes du Vieux Moulin
(The Old Mill's Swirls).
Promising projects getting cancelled only to then be
resurrected decades later as a possible addition to an entirely different theme
park ... That's pretty much how Imagineering rolls, PixiePal 225. Which is why
I wouldn't entirely lose heart here just because Tom Staggs opted not to build Pixie
Hollow as part the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland expansion.
The original model for a Disney Fairies-themed area which was to have been built as part of the Jay Rasulo version of
WDW's Fantasyland expansion project.Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All
After all, given the way things work at WDI, all of that
Disney Fairies-themed concept art has now been placed in a file somewhere in
WDI's morgue. And if you can just wait a decade or two (or three. Or -- in the
case of Dumbo's Circusland -- four), that perfectly solid idea for a land
and/or a set of attractions for a Disney theme park will eventually once again
bubble to the surface.
The only problem is -- by the time the full-sized
walk-through version of Pixie Hollow finally gets built -- you may have to buy
a plane ticket to Brazil in order to be able to visit the Disney theme park where
this Tinkerbell-themed area finally
Disney CEO Bob Iger during his
appearance on Bloomberg TV earlier this month. Copyright 2012 Bloomberg L.P.
All rights reserved
And -- no -- I'm not pulling that idea out of thin air. Go
listen to that interview that Bob Iger did with Bloomberg TV's Carol Massar
earlier this month and you'll hear Disney's CEO admit that The Walt Disney
Company is looking towards Brazil as part of its international expansion plans.
But the upside is ... If you really are a Pixie Pal,
PixiePal225, you can avoid purchasing a plane ticket for your flight by just
hitting up Tink for a little pixie dust.
Copyright Peter and the
Starcatcher. All rights reserved
But seriously ... Don't give up on Pixie Hollow just yet.
That idea for a new theme park land is just too solid. More to the point, given
that Tony-nominated production of "Peter and the Starcatcher" which is
now on Broadway (more importantly, given the movie version of this Dave Barry
& Ridley Pearson book
that Walt Disney Pictures recently put into
development), it's not as if the Mouse is going to stop making trips to
Neverland anytime soon.
So you just have to have a little faith, PixiePal225. Faith,
hope and pixie dust.
I find it funny that the person whom has asked the question claims to have kept up with the fantasyland project but for some reason didn't know 'why for' disney changed the plans.....this website along with others has talked about it multiple times.
without question...the SMARTEST move by Disney in a long long time.
I was never happy with the decision to add Pixie Hollow, let alone an entire mini- land. If anything, Pixie Hollow and Neverland...should consider a home over at Animal Kingdom; to replace "Rafiki's Planet Watch!
This would be a logical and easy overhaul allowing Peterpan, Jake and the Neverland characters, Tink and her fairy friends to teach environmental education, offer meet and greet areas, and maybe a ride or two. It just "fits" Animal Kingdom better.
With regards to the Storybook Circus, what...if anything is being done with Aladdin's Magic Carpet ride?
Is it being removed entirely, rethemed or relocated.
The whole Pixie Hollow was a hair-brained idea from the start. Why in the world would you build an entire new land of aging princesses who's video's had been locked in a "vault" for decades while a whole generation passed by. Scaggs will go down as a Disney hero when this is all said and done by saving Fantasyland from the princesses. I hear the new land is beautiful and very detailed ala Walt's vision including the new restaurant being build. Good for Disney if this is a winner, although this won't stem the tide of people who will choose Harry Potter (and it's new land being build where Jaws once stood) over Fantasyland. Disney needs to do more to it's terribly out of date and aging EPCOT and Tomorrowland and soon to be outdated Hollywood Studios.
So how about telling us about the 5th park you hinted about a year ago. I´m sure it´ll be an avanger park with Pixie hollow in a Tron Theme and it will have .. well you are better making this stuff up.
No surprise the Walt Disney Company might be looking at Brazil. World development economists have identified a group of countries known as the BRIC's: Brazil, Russia, India, China. These are countries on their way to join the first tier of world economies. Disney's last park was Hong Kong and its next one is Shanghai, so it has the BRIC's on its mind. And Brazilians are becoming a significant component of WDW's foreign visitors.
On the other hand, in those same interviews for Bloomberg, Iger acknowledged that they do have future locations in mind, but cautioned that they were 'in the drawer' and not 'on top the desk'. It sounds to me like it will be the next CEO that will make that call.
Always bear in mind, however, that the foreign parks don't generate as much money for the company as the domestic ones. Of course, there are co-investors so it doesn't require as much company capital either.
Brazil Disneyland? Come on. While it would be great to keep that many tourists off of WDW property, how much further are they planning to dilute this brand before every country has it's own Disney theme park? Ugh.
So may I blame Staggs for ripping out the Snow White dark ride or was that always the plan?
Great article Jim, this is what I love about this site, these behind the scene articles on Imagineering. One of the few types of articles I like to read again every couple of days as you a tingle up your spine when you think about what might have been and what was. If you ever write an Imagineering book, I'd be the first to buy it!
I was kind of surprised that TDO went with the Circusland concept as it looked very old school to me, celebrating a relatively older Disney film, Dumbo, and using the circus theme.
I read the older article on Dumbo's Circusland was was surprised to see that it included a dark ride. As an armchair Imagineer, I thought that this new land needs a dark ride, or at least more rides. If Storybookland Canal boats, Casey Jr. Circus train and the windmill were 'cheap' rides to add to Disneyland Paris after the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Coaster was dropped, will these 'cheap' rides be added to MK?
I'd feel sad if they built a Brazil Disneyland as the yellow t-shirted Brazilian tour groups are practically a part of any visit to WDW in summer.
I wish you guys had a facebook share button....
Ask and you shall receive. There is now a Facebook Share button at the bottom of the articles. Thanks for the suggestion.
Thanks!! Now I can share your articles without cut and paste. :-) Keep them coming.
I love your blog, Jim. One thing I have to comment on about the new placement of the Dumbo attraction at MK: Used to be that the 360 view of Fantasyland was a pretty magical part of riding this in the old location (for young and old). Now I imagine getting to see the top of the tent queue for 180 of the spin is perhaps not something that the little ones will notice, but nonetheless seems like a downgrade for riders to this Disney park-lover. While on this subject of simple spinning rides and their placements, I have to say that when I visited Disneyland and rode the Astro-orbiter near the hub I found its new proximity nearer to the ground a total buzz-kill. Why did they move it years ago to such a blah spot out there on the west coast anyway? At least its counterpart in Florida is still riding high (literally)....which is 80 percent of the attraction's thrill (let's be honest). Don't even get me started on that tacky, metallic, spinning Aladdin's carpets monstrosity. Yeesh.