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Disney Dish Podcast Episode 45: What effect will Universal Orlando's Transformers and Gringott's Coaster have on Disney - Jul 12, 2013

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Transcriptions of Disney Dish podcasts with Jim Hill and Touring Plans' Len Testa

Disney Dish Podcast Episode 45: What effect will Universal Orlando's Transformers and Gringott's Coaster have on Disney - Jul 12, 2013

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Singing: The most magical place on Earth is here!

 

L: Welcome back to another edition of the Unofficial Guide's Disney Dish Podcast with Jim Hill. It is I, Len Testa. Jim Hill is here as always and we are continuing our post-lemur adventures. Today we're going to be talking about the new rides at Universal, the new Transformers ride and also what's going on with the new Harry Potter Diagon Alley attractions over at Universal. Jim has just got back from a press junket there. It was a six month adventure over there? Two days?

 

J: Uh, what, thirty-six hours.

 

L: Thirty-six hours, six months, whatever. It's all the same.

 

J: We arrived at midnight on Tuesday night, we left at noon on Thursday.

 

L: So close enough. All right, so welcome back to the show, Jim.

 

J: Yep.

 

L: So, the reason we did the show is, I just finished up the TouringPlans for the next edition for the Unofficial Guide and one of the interesting things that we uh I was looking at when I was modeling the new Universal Studios timeline was what would the effect be with the new Gringotts Bank coaster and also a thirty percent increase in the rest of the other attractions of the park. And it turns out that it's actually kind of scary to see what happens. Essentially you're for a Touring Plan, you're either first in line for Gringotts or you do it last. There's no like, go see Gringotts at 10 A.M. because of the effect that it's, essentially it's- you'll see at the Studios what you saw at IOA when Harry Potter came in. That you either went to it very very- first thing in the morning or you literally waited out the crowd until everyone had to go home and you jumped in line at the last minute. Well we think it's going to be somewhat the same thing for Universal when it opens. The interesting thing with Universal though, is they've got all these attractions up front. They've got Despicable Me, they've got Shrek, they've Rip Ride Rockit, they've got Transformers. All at the front of the park. They've got the new Diagon Alley stuff in the back and then they've got the beginnings of Simpsons Springfield USA over the Simpsons side. So Jim, what is Universal thinking in terms of this development? Are they, number one, are they planning like, are they expecting a thirty percent increase in crowds like they got for,

 

J: Yeah, in fact it's been kind of interesting chatting with them. For example about the Hogwarts Express. They had anticipated that, look, this is really a transportation system, from one park to the other. That, and they- there's going to be some themed elements. You're gonna you know, be attacked by both the Death Eaters and dementors en route. You're going to see some wonderful Scottish country-side, but again, it's only a three or four minute long transportation system. They only just realized, from  doing guest surveys, that this just as big of a draw, if not bigger, than Gringotts. You know, the notion of "I'm going to get to ride the Hogwarts Express! I'm going to get to go to Platform nine and Three Quarters!" And they're just now,

 

L: I think we should tell people when we're there that you have to run up against a wall. It's a trick door, just run up against the wall really hard. We should totally do that.

 

J: Here's you,

 

L: I'm full of good ideas this afternoon, aren't I.

 

J: And here's your souvenir, Harry Potter nose breaking kit. It's like, no splints! Okay.

 

L: So there, so they're looking at it and so, yeah. The original right? It was going to be like... When I first heard about it I'm like, okay, this is Universal's version of the Wildlife Express Train at the Animal Kingdom. It's gonna like sort of get you to another point but it's not really an attraction in and of itself. But then I heard it's like "Well we're gonna have some effects." Then I heard "Oh my God, it's going to be different effects, both ways." Then I heard "Okay, it's an actual attraction in and of itself."

 

J: Yeah, and now just working the numbers, the fact that if you take a full load of both parks, there's just no way every guest is even gonna get to experience the one way trip let alone going,

 

L: The round trip, yeah.

 

J: Yeah, just to go to experience both of these movies.

 

L: So, I heard too they're actually going to run two trains simultaneously. Instead of having just one train go back and forth.

 

J: That seems to be the, in fact, what's interesting is they've supposedly been very very very late in the came conversations about well, can we get another train on, can we get another car on. You know, cause they're just now realizing that, and more to the point, that guests who have been previously to the Hogsmeade and Hogwarts castle are going to want to start their day over at Diagon Alley, do everything there, and then go over and,

 

L: go over, right, yeah.

 

J: And it's just the notion of people who stand in line for two hours to get on a train are so much less likely to buy crap when they finally get over.

 

L: That's true. I mean, how much capacity could a train possibly have.

 

J: That's it exactly.

 

L: Yes, that's gonna be crazy.

 

J: But now to double back on what you were saying earlier, about, for example, Despicable Me and Rip Ride Rockit or Transformers, and Diagon Alley,

 

L: Yes so this is interesting. So the, when we look at it from a TouringPlan perspective, we look at it- when we look at theme park design, one of the key hallmarks that good theme park design is, you put your headliner attractions in every different corner of the park. And essentially you draw people that way. And it's exactly the opposite right now at Universal because they've got Despicable Me, Shrek, Rip Ride Rockit, and Transformers all literally all within like four hundred yards of the opening of the park.

 

J: But this is, again, what's fascinating about Universal Creative, which, again, just wanna stress- You've got a lot of veterans of, like, Mike West who former Imagineers who bring some very interesting, lots of experience to the table and lots of interesting ideas. And the concept that Universal has decided to go with is, for example, when you have an attraction like Rip Ride Rockit, this amazing coaster in the middle of the park... And what they saw when they opened it was "My God, people who normally would come in and make the right and go down to Men in Black or E.T. or the Simpsons Ride,

 

L: Or up the street and go to Mummy, yeah.

 

J: They're not going on straight ahead and they're going to Rip Ride Rockit. So it's like,

 

L: Yeah. Mummy for the first two hours the park is open is essentially a five minute wait.

 

J: Yep.

 

L: Because everyone gets stuck up there.

 

J: So, we need, you know, in order to get to sort of keep the crowds for Rip Ride Rockit under control, we need to speed bump. And that's literally why Despicable Me wound up being put into the Jimmy neutron building. Yes, they use the old ride system and it's a really clever repurposing of that.

 

L: It's not a bad ride.

 

J: But more to the point, it's, it stops you. It's like "Oh!!" and it, in fact that's why they spent all that money building Gru's house. When you walk in you're immediately like "Oh my God, that's Gru's house! I have to go! I gotta meet a minion." So, and just, for me, when you understand that's Universal's new business plan,

 

L: So they built Despicable Me to slow people down for Rip Ride Rockit?

 

J: Rip Ride Rockit, you know.

 

L: Oh, okay.

 

J: All right, now look at where Transformers is located.

 

L: Across the street from, and still in Production Central.

 

J: Right, but,

 

L: By Lagoon.

 

J: But it's en route to Diagon Alley. And what they're hop- in fact,

 

L: Yeah, so actually there's only, so two of the ways you could get to, the two of the three ways you could get to Diagon Alley, you either through Production Central or back behind Mel's (??). You either go through the back or the front of Transformers. The only way to really not see this is to go all the way  down (???) Drive.

 

J: But even then, all right, so even if you make the turn by Mel's you see Optimus Prime at the top of the building,

 

L: Yeah yeah, still see it, yeah.

 

J: But if I, okay, say,

 

L: You'd have to all the way down by Transformers to not, I'm sorry I meant by Terminator 2.

 

J: But it gets even funnier. Okay, you're gonna outsmart everybody. You're going the long way around the lake. Where do you end up? Springfield.

 

L: Yes, exactly!

 

J: All right? You know, it's just, when you look cold-bloodingly at what they've done at the park, it's like, look. They've, whatever they can do to slow you down, to sort of,

 

L: To cycle (???) some people off.

 

J: Yeah. They've got,

 

L: To cool the herd (???).

 

J: Yeah! It's brilliant design.

 

L: And eventually when everything is built, when they've got a fully fleshed out Sprignfield, when they've got a fully fleshed out Diagon Alley, and they've got the other attractions in the front of the park- Yeah, they'll have their sort of three corner offense there. Maybe with World Expo they'll have four, but whatever.

 

J: No it's a,

 

L: It's a good idea.

 

J: It's, and again, when you think about this is a resort that will be celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2015 and all of this stuff coming online... It's just, it's a fascinating time to watch what they're doing with these parks and with these properties. That coupled with, you know, bringing in their first Value  resort online. Which,

 

L: Oh, Cabanas, yeah.

 

J: Yep.

 

L: So the theme for Cabanas is sort of like fifties and sixties beach, family beach trip?

 

J: And, in fact, what was so funny is when Nancy and I went and did the sort of informational session this week, they mentioned specifically Wildwood New Jersey, which has actively worked at protecting the architecture of the late Ninteen Fifties, the early Nineteen Sixties, the googie (??) type stuff.

 

L: Yeah.

 

J: And, you know, it's just

 

L: Some of the finest architecture America' ever had by the way. My house was built in sixty eight. It's a mid-century modern. I totally get it.

 

J: But what's actually kind of brilliant about what they've done is that you, I mean you walk into their sample room. First of all, it's an eighteen hundred room resort, nine hundred standard rooms, and nine,

 

L: It's huge, yeah.

 

J: Yeah. But all of the rooms are done in that, you know, again you're walking on to the set of Mad Men.

 

L: It's going to be great.

 

J: That's what's really kind of interesting about this, is that this resort was supposed to be- they've been talking about building this resort since Royal Pacific opened.

 

L: Really. Since, what was it Ninety-Nine?

 

J: Ten years plus, okay? But what ends up happening is that they hem, they haw,

 

L: 2001 for Royal Pacific (???), yeah.

 

J: Yeah. And so when they finally decide when to turn the key on it, this goes from being a "well maybe that idea works too," again, you're doing, you're watching this in the era of Mad Men, you're watching this in,

 

L: Yeah.

 

J: And they say what's weird- I mean, the Rest Dragon (??), the Odagon (???), the creative on this for Universal, was talking about it said, "We finished the design for it and I showed it to my kid who said 'Oh that's cool, Dad.' And I showed it to my mom and its like 'Oh, I wanna stay there.'

 

J: Every generation,

 

J: It's like, that never happens. All right?  You never get, you know, just like "Oh my God, we hit a vein! We didn't know!"

 

L: True. So they're gonna have nine hundred standard rooms,

 

J: Yep. Sleep four.

 

L: Nine hundred suites. Yeah, sleep four. The suites are interesting cause they have like a sort of privacy slider.

 

J: Well that's the, in fact they were so proud of the fact that the way they've set up the bathroom,

 

L: The bathroom was an interesting layout. I've seen this in the diagrams, yeah.

 

J: The gimmick is three people simultaneously can,

 

L: Be getting ready, yeah.

 

J: Be getting ready.

 

L: Yeah yeah, I saw it.

 

J: And they're talking like, "Look, we built this resort, I mean, two feature pools with a lazy river, with a ten lane bowling alley,

 

L: That's right, yeah, ten lane bowling alley, lazy river, yeah. I mean in terms of the, but no sit down restaurant, just counter,

 

J: Food court, they will do

 

L: Pizza delivery.

 

J: There you go. But it's, you know, the idea is look, you're staying here. We want you to have fun, but we also know you're here to go to the parks. And in fact, they are actually continuing the garden walk that started at Portofino, it's going to continue,

 

L: Oh are they really?

 

J: All the way,

 

L: It's a great walk.

 

J: Yeah. From the northern most tip of the property of Portofino to the southern most tip of,

 

L: And then it'll take you, that will alleviate some of the pressure on transportation systems, too.

 

J: But that's the other thing, it's shuttle busses.

 

L: Yeah, you knew it was going to have to be shuttle busses.

 

J: Yeah, I know.

 

L: So eighteen hundred rooms, three point something people per, they're looking at six thousand people. Just in that hotel when it's full.

 

J: And the scary thing is, we were just talking about this earlier. If they're early entry and Portofino is early entry and,

 

L: Yeah, so this is the thing, this is the thing we couldn't figure out. This thing I was trying to noodle (??) right. So right now at IOA, Universal Loew's hotel guests get in early to Harry Potter.

 

J: Yep.

 

L: But we know that the maximum capacity for Diagon Alley is eight thousand people. There's more than that staying at the Universal Resorts.

 

J: Yep.

 

L: So how are they gonna, so if they give the Universal resort people preferential access for the first hour, nobody's getting in to Diagon Alley who's a day guest until like eleven o'clock. How is that gonna work? Do you know?

 

J: You know, they are... one of the reasons they are speeding construction along, in fact just being in there a couple days ago, the steel's in place.

 

L: Oh yeah, yeah. Yeah.

 

J: The facades will start going up probably within the next... first they have to close the buildings but the facades will be going up by late summer, early fall. They want to be doing soft opening and tests and guest traffic patterns by January or February. They want,

 

L: Yeah, they want spring,

 

J: They want a lot of time to get a sense of how many people we can fit into this thing comfortably, how we can move people along. Cause they, the very thing you're talking about. They, they... and the irony is that they're going to, they're going to use this as a hook to get people to stay in the hotel. You get in there early.

 

L: Yeah. I mean, cause otherwise you'll never get in, right?

 

J: Yeah. And, I don't know. That's the one sort of fly in the Butterbeer, for lack of a better term. They just are concerned about capacity on the Hogwarts Express, they're concerned about how many people they can fit into Diagon Alley. You know, they want people to go away from this... you know, with Springfield open, and with Transformers... They want them to go out and evangelize about the amazing  experience they had because they want... In fact, this is what we were talking about earlier. Look, Universal knows it's the number two in the market.

 

L: Yeah.

 

J: Behind Disney and they're always going to be behind Disney.

 

L: Yeah, they just don't have the resources to compete on that level but they could be a really good number two.

 

J: They can be a great number two.

 

L: And they can, and the thing, we were just talking about this. The Magic Kingdom is always going to be the most popular park,

 

J: Yep.

 

L: Epcot may always be number two. But I thought, I think the three and four positions are still in play in Orlando.

 

J: Absolutely. Absolutely. And if, think about it, if Universal Studios sees the thirty- and again, that may be really idealistic. You know, the thirty and thirty-five attendance bump that we,

 

L: I wouldn't think so.

 

J: Really?

 

L: I don't...I think it's entirely do-able.

 

J: Wow.

 

L: It's gonna be insane. I don't know what they're gonna do, cause remember now, some of those attractions now are older.

 

J: Yeah.

 

L: Right. Those were built for six to nine million people a year.

 

J: Yep.

 

L: You know, you try and put, let's say they average seven and a half million. You go from seven and a half million to twelve or fourteen million? You know, that's... there's only so much capacity they can add to... Like for the Simpsons ride, right?

 

J: Yep.

 

L: They're not gonna have any more simulators. I mean, cause if they did they'd have to tear down the building.

 

J: Yep.

 

L: Men in Black, they're not gonna add- I mean they can add a few more cars, right?

 

J: Yep.

 

L: But beyond a certain point, you know, they can't let the cars touching.

 

J: No. No. Though it's interesting that you bring that up because there evidently has been some conversation about the very issue you're talking about. There's a, evidently there's an expansion pad behind Men in Black and the argument is like "Look, rather than build a brand new ride, what if we were to add two or three new rooms to the attraction?"

 

L: Oh, and add more cars to it. Then it'll be easier to do.

 

J: Yeah, and then you can bump out your capacity. I mean, you still have the same issues with load. You still have only so many people... It's still a thirty second load routine.

 

L: Yeah, but if you have, if you go from like a six minute ride to an eight minute ride, that means you get more cars on and that means your capacity gains.

 

J: But they are... That's the interesting thing. There's the three to five year plan... In fact, if you're a fan of Twister,

 

L: Go see it. Go see it, yeah.

 

J: Cause that's supposedly is going away, cause again the belief is, we need, again, another new attraction that's off the main drag that will take people away from Diagon Alley. That supposedly is getting reworked.

 

L: So, yeah, from Twister all the way down to the end of the street,

 

J: Yep.

 

L: And then a little bit to the right. I don't know how far Mummy goes to the left of Mummy. But,

 

J: Well, you've got, what, the gift shop there coupled with that Italian restaurant,

 

L: Oh, Luigi's.

 

J: And you need, I mean... Again, you're suddenly in sacred cow country. You can't really get rid of Beetle Juice because that's a show you stage multiple times a day.

 

L: Yeah.

 

J: People... And,

 

L: Beetlejuice you can move around. I mean, that's really, that's an outdoor event. You can move, you can pull that to the other side where Transformers is and sort of put it up against the building if you had to.

 

J: But there's also been, you know, for example, conversations about Disaster, I mean, just it,

 

L: Disaster pulls a lot of people in, though.

 

J: It does! It does. But it also used up a lot of real estate.

 

L: A lot of real estate and it doesn't pull that many people in. I mean... The problem with Disaster is gonna be like, with Monster's Laugh Floor where people are just gonna walk by that thinking, "Oh that's a lovely facade.

 

J: Yep.

 

L: And just keep going.

 

J: No, that's their... and that coupled with the fact that you still need back of the house areas that you can do Halloween Horror nights cause that makes an insane amount of money for the company.

 

L: Yeah, the alcohol (???) involved there is just incredible.

 

J: You can't... There are certain areas you just can't bump out into because for those three or four months out of the year, excuse me, two or three months out of the year,

 

L: Yeah, (??) does that.

 

J: And coupled with two or three month build for those things.

 

L: So what are they gonna do with the restaurants? Like, so if Luigi's... First of all they're, in part, dining in the Studios is probably, literally the weakest component of anything at Universal. Have they  talked about anything with dining?

 

J: Well, we got,

 

L: What's the food component for Diagon Alley? I actually think Three Broomsticks is the best restaurant in the other park.

 

J: They're being a little tight-mouthed about that now because, of course, the food component (???) that they want to talk up is what they just opened at Springfield. The Springfield themed food court.

 

L: What's that?

 

J: Well, for example, they have,

 

L: Well, they have Mo's in there.

 

J: They have Moe's, where, again, we sampled Duff, Duff Lite, Buzz Cola, and in fact the Flaming Moe is , it's a fascinating drink. What they do is, it's a citrus drink that, it's served in a cup that actually has kind of what looks like the top, for lack of a better description, the top of a sewer. Because what they've done is they put in the bottom of the glass, dry ice.

 

L: Really?

 

J: So, you pour the drink and, but it's, the genius of the design of the cup is, because of the grid pattern like this table top here, you pour the liquid through, the dry ice is below on the bottom, fizzing up through the grid so you're drinking the dry ice. And of course when you put liquid on top of it, it dissipates.

 

L: Yeah. But it's a mist, or a,

 

J: Yeah, it's a, just bubbles and foams in front of you,

 

L: It's called the Flaming Moe's?

 

J: It's called the Flaming Moe.

 

L: Genius.

 

J: You know, but again! But the, they went through all twenty-five seasons of the Simpsons and,

 

L: What's that like? I mean, it's twenty-five- twenty-two episodes, twenty-five seasons, so five hundred  and fifty half hour shows,

 

J: And the thing of it is, it's going through and picking out THE restaurants that people remember. For example, I asked them, "Were there any you didn't do?" They said "Yeah, we didn't do Kentucky Fried  Panda. We wanted to, but, you know,"

 

L: But, you know, we just couldn't.

 

J: But Cletus' Chicken Shack is there, and The Frying Dutchman,

 

L:  I saw The Frying Dutchman is there.

 

J: But part of the problem was, I was talking with Steve Jason, the gentleman who is in charge of food at Universal and it's... you have... The Simpsons only introduce food when they're making fun of food.

 

L: Yeah, the food is supposed to be bad on the Simpsons, right?

 

J: Yeah, in fact, for example, Krusty Burger is supposed to serve the worst hamburger on the planet. And so, you know, for Steve's case it was like, "Well, I can't serve bad food, so I gotta make it look like a cartoon." So they literally went out and found a bun that is literally, that when you see it the burger depicted on television, that weird, rounded shape. They found a bun that looks just like that.

 

L: Oh, that's awesome.

 

J: And for also it to be fun, cartoon food. But they decided to do was take, well, let's put too much sauce on it, for example. Instead of having a cheese slice, let's do a, like a pour a cheese wizzy kind of a thing on it.

 

L: Cheese sauce.

 

J: Cheese sauce. So when you're eating, the sauce dribbles down your face. You suddenly have that cartoon moment of having to grab for too many napkins.

 

L: That's great.

 

J: But that's the thing. He's served up all of this quality food, Simpsons, but all the side- in fact, that's what's great about it is, the Simpsons, they actually took the food to California to get Matt Groening  and everybody to sign off it. So they filled this conference room with the food and here are the writers who actually wrote the food and one of the writers walks into the room and looks down at- evidently the sandwich they sell called the Aorta Burster (???). And the guy is like "That's it! That's it!"

 

L: "That's what was in my head!"

 

J: "You made the sandwich in my head real!" And it's like "Oh my God, this is so scary!"

 

L: "This is the thing you call the Aorta Buster (???)? I'm so happy!"

 

J: So, you know, but they were so thrilled, they then turned around and wrote all the menu boards for the restaurant. So honestly, don't just go there and order the food. Read the signs, all of the signs. I mean, this world is so deep, so dense. You know, particularly for a Simpsons fan. In fact, that's the, again, what's always interesting about Universal is they always have an eye toward the fans from the UK and it turns out, as popular as the Simpsons are in the States, they're hugely popular.

 

L: Are they really?

 

J: Yep. In the UK. Even bigger. And so that's the thing of Don't worry about the fried food. You know, just, "Yeah I'll go for it." But they also as part of this event took us on the other side of the construction fence to visit, for example, where they're working on Kang and Kodo's Twirl n Hurl.

 

L: Twirl n Hurl, yeah.

 

J: Twirl and Hurl. And it's, that's actually kind of an, they even just- Universal even didn't do just your normal spinner. This is, what's cool about this one is that you are riding in flying saucers that spin around. Kang is in the middle of the coaster or the ride shouting orders at you about destroy Springfield. But there's a ring of tentacles, stationary tentacles rising up around the attraction. And in each of these tentacles is a picture of a citizen of Springfield. And each of the ride vehicles, your spinner has a ray gun, and you get to shoot at these things and if you hit them, the photo spins and you hear, you know, POW, and you hear that character's voice. Again,

 

L: That's great.

 

J: And right beyond this is the outdoor Duff Gardens, which, again, I,

 

L: Duff Gardens?

 

J: Duff Gardens. But,

 

L: Like Busch Gardens?

 

J: Yes! But no, it gets, you will love this. The killer, the absolutely killer touch of this is that outside of Duff Gardens is The Seven Little Duffs, all right? Seven Little- including Surly (???), all right?

 

L: Surly!

 

J: But Don and Topi (???) are (???), just marching alongside the (???) building. But they're doing, again, what's just so fun about talking with the Universal guys is, for example, they built the donut store from Springfield. Lard Lad. And it was a great pride to Mike West, that the fact that he managed somehow to get the Lard Lad statue, is actually larger than the Optimus Prime that is standing on top of the entrance of Transformers. So he says, "So when they come to life," you know.

 

L: Exactly. You know,

 

J: "Lardlad can take out Optimus!"

 

L: Because it's in one of the Simpson's episodes, remember? Yeah, exactly.

 

J: No, that's it exactly! So, sadly, again, they're being a little reticent about Diagon Alley food. Cause, you know, all the Simpsons stuff is in the front window.

 

L: Yeah, yeah.

 

J: But that all comes online, everything's ready to roll, midsummer. I think in the absolute latest, August First. And then it's all full bore (???). Of course, you gotta get through Halloween horror nights and Christmas, but they're gonna be building B-B-B-B. I honestly, if you want to get an early taste of Diagon Alley, I would schedule family vacations for February, March,

 

L: You think that soon?

 

J: They're... Honestly Len, they are so concerned about capac- I mean, yeah, again, the very thing you're talking about. They THINK they can get eight thousand people in there. But they want to be able , they want to be in a situation where, for example, if you're staying at the Portofino or the Hard Rock or that sort of thing... Some morning, a leaflet will come under the door like "Hey would you come,"

 

L: Five forty five A.M. until six twenty three A.M.

 

J: Yeah, you wanna come over and do something for us. It's next late winter or early spring of next year  would be a really smart time to schedule your vacation. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's gonna be intermittent. You know, they're not gonna do it every single day. And they're going to probably swap it out to differ resorts.

 

L: It's sort of walk people through to see what the test is.

 

J: Yeah. And just,

 

L: How it tests, I mean.

 

J: Because, look, they, Gringotts coaster,

 

L: Well, Diagon Alley's supposed to be what, four or five stories tall in some places?

 

J: Yeah. Yeah.

 

L: It's, oh, retail and food.

 

J: Yep. Well, but again,

 

L: Except for Gringotts and one other ride, right?

 

J: Well, but the belief is that on... You know what really changed the game was Olivander's.

 

L: Okay.

 

J: All right, think about it. That... how many people stand in that line for an hour,

 

L: They actually capped (???) the line at an hour now so you, nobody gets heat stroke.

 

J: Yeah. But you get into that,

 

L: Everyday. Every day the line's an hour.

 

J: Yeah. And the twenty four people cram into that little shop,

 

L: Well, when I was there, when we were there? October. You know I wanted to buy some souvenirs for some of my friends who were Harry Potter (fans)- I waited forty minutes to pay. To PAY.

 

J: Yeah.

 

L: I waited for, it was like going to the Apple store at Christmas. Where it's like "Please take my money  faster, PLEASE."

 

J: Well, that's what they're hoping Diagon Alley will take, you know, I mean. They're hoping that sales levels don't necessarily fall but the lines will.

 

L: They'll do, I mean, they'll do crazy business because a lot more merchandise. It'll be more... You could have your Hogwarts stuff, you could have your Diagon alley stuff, it would be different. And then, I heard they're gong to duplicate Ollivanders?

 

J: Yep. Actually, that, this is going to be a, the, you gotta remember that the Ollivanders is sort of the satellite store. The notion is that you're at Hogsmeade, you break your wand, this is where you go.

 

L: Yeah.

 

J: In Diagon Alley is the REAL, and they're, in the style of Mickey has four friends. There are going to be three Ollivanders shops. You're gonna be, you'll enter the lobby and you'll be directed into the sales room. So they'll be, they'll definitely be able to hump (???) more people through that space.

 

L: That's a great show, by the way. I really really,

 

J: No, it's,

 

L: I really like it.

 

J: It is, again, honestly, it's, but at the same time it occupies an interesting space in the history of theme parks. Cause, think about it. The child who is selected for this thing has that wonderful experience and then the wand chooses them and you get that amazing lighting affect and the music,

 

L: Yeah, oh yeah, it's great.

 

J: And the show continues but it's always... What I am fascinated by is the handoff. That the employee continues to talk whose run the show, but there's a team member who pulls the family of the child  over and goes, "Look, the wand selected you. But you still have to buy the wand." You know, and supposedly upwards of 85% of the families do in fact do that. It's like,

 

L: How do you not?

 

J: No, that's it exactly. But this then becomes... They're using this as the justification for the fact that starting next summer, they're going to be people who buy that one park ticket for Islands of Adventure and see the Hogwarts Express like "Aaoooh!"

 

L: "I wanna go." Oh that's what the, oh, so okay. I get it now. So they're gonna, so Hogwarts (Express) is gonna run from IOA to Studios and back.

 

J: Right.

 

L: So you think people are going to get there, they're gonna say "Oh what's this one attraction, oh but you can't go on it because you've only got the one park ticket,"

 

J: There you go.

 

L: But conveniently, there's a ticket booth probably right next to,

 

J: That's it exactly.

 

L: What a coincidence.

 

J: You know, and the other thing just to be aware of... They're not done. All right. Even when Diagon Alley opens, there is a plan... in fact, this is what was fascinating actually about the development of Diagon Alley. When Harry Potter opened, you know, Wizarding World first opened, it was so hugely popular. Like "Ugh, we gotta,"

 

L: An hour wait just to get into the park, right?

 

J: Yeah. I mean, the thirty thousand people standing in line ringing the lagoon just to, going in from what, Superhero Island all the way up to Jurassic waiting to get in. They went to JK and they were like "Oh, we want to expand, we want to do Diagon Alley. We'll just build it right next to it. We'll flatten Lost Continent." And Rowling came back, "No no, you can't do that." And it's like, because Hogsmeade Village and Hogwarts Castle are far away from London and,

 

L: You have to take a train.

 

J: Yes, that's it exactly. And so it's one of these things where it's like they left the meeting, "Oh man, she won't let us expand." And it's like, no.

 

L: What she said, she said they're far away.

 

J: They're far away. "They're far away, put it in the other park! Hehehe!" And they go scampering off. But that doesn't mean that if they can... the belief in-house, and evidently they've talked with her, is that, well look, if we do things that are around Hogwarts Castle, we can still build them next to Hogsmeade and they said yes. So there is a plan for,

 

L: Lost Continent is just going away. I mean, it will, it really will be,

 

J: Well, the only thing that's sacred, supposedly, is Mythos and even that's up for negotiation.

 

L: You know, I'd be okay with it.

 

J: Yep. Well, you now, "Another lamb skew please."

 

L: Yeah, I mean, it's, it's had its day, anyway.

 

J: But supposedly the notion is to just take the entrance, slide it further down the hill. You put a Womping Willow spinner in. And you take, for example, Poseidon's Fury, the existing structure there and you actually use that as a Chamber of Secrets attraction.

 

L: Oh,

 

J: So, you know, I mean, you've only seen, you just saw,

 

L: The first film, the Sorcerer's Stone.

 

J: All right, Sorcerer's Stone.

 

L: Yeah, don't ruin the next, what, twelve? Fifteen? Twenty-three films?

 

J: Okay, after you see Chamber of Secrets, you'll understand what's going on.

 

L: Isn't that the uh, no, that was National Treasure: Book of Secrets, sorry.

 

J: Yes, right.

 

L: Nicholas Cage is in that movie?

 

J: There we go. That's right. All the treasure in the world. And John Voight.

 

L: John Voight, exactly.

 

J: So, but yeah you're,

 

L: So they have, do they have a ten year plan that's even farther out there,

 

J: Just creep it down the hill and then you'll just have one giant Harry Potter- And supposedly there are... the argument is that we can make the stunt show go away. We can bump out Diagon Alley over the studio,

 

L: If anything needs to go, it's the stunt show.

 

J: But at the same time, it's like, you know, what is it, ten months out of the year you're not really doing capacity on that but then you're doing Halloween Horror Nights, you're doing Bill and Ted. And you need that,

 

L: Oh yeah yeah, you need the menu.

 

J: I mean again, that's the way... The interesting thing when you're talking with theme park guys is they, it's almost like having conversations, fourth dimensional conversations. Like "Yeah, ten years- ten months out of the year we don't do what we need, but we make so much money during those two months,

 

L: That it all balances out, yeah.

 

J: Yeah. So it's like, yeah, I know you're looking at it, you're standing there in August and why is this empty? It's like "Come back here in September."

 

L: Yeah. We'll be making money hand over fist. Cool, so starting in the spring... Head down now you can see Transformers, you can see Springfield,

 

J: Yep. Definitely and again, Transformers is worth it alone. In fact, you hope people would be fascinated. They had to build this giant attraction in the middle of the park. And it's, but they had thirty thousand square feet. But they only had, and they had sixty thousand square feet of attraction. It's literally- it's a ride on top of a ride. But you have to move guests from the first floor to the second floor.  They have- and this is the challenge for TouringPlans listeners, that there are two media silos (sp???) in this thing. You roll in to it, in fact, there are two media silos (sp??) that are side by side. There's actually four of them. So they can throw a different ride vehicle in each of them. They're sixty feet tall and you get inside this tube, you're surrounded a hundred and eighty degrees with high def action-packed film that's been put together by Industrial Light and Magic. But it's a forty second show, just rising you up at that point to move you to the second floor, where you then go,

 

L: The best elevator in the world.

 

J: No, that's it exactly!

 

L: And most expensive. Otis (??) is looking at that going "We can't. We just, we can't."

 

J: "But we can shake the bottom." but no, it's amazing technology, great storytelling, and it's, in fact, the weird thing is Spielberg himself came out for the opening of this thing yesterday,

 

L: Oh really?

 

J: And it was so funny. It was actually, you know, that they're walking little teeny tiny- Steven Spielberg is this far away from being one of the seven dwarfs at this point. It's just, you know, just getting smaller and grayer. But they brought him in and had him positioned across from the entrance to the attraction and it was so funny to watch Steve Spielberg become a human being because they had this great- you know, I'm standing next to the press area and next to the camera platform and I see the head of publicity franticly wave and chase across the street and he's, Steven is standing there with the president of the Universal Parks and you could actually see from the gestures what the conversation is. Steven has his phone out, all right? And,

 

L: "Hold on, I need to tweet this."

 

J: Yeah! And it's one of these things, where things are going to happen? "Well, the Jets are going to fly over here, the-" And so it's like literally telling the world's greatest film director where to line up his shots (???).

 

L: "All right, you want to be here when they countdown from three."

 

J: Yeah. And so, but, to watch,

 

L: "Slow pan and then sort of dissolve over my Transformers."

 

J: But it was just kind of sweet to watch him pull out his phone and do it. Just, you know, "I want to be able to show the kids at home the, hey I was there- Oh look, the Jets!" You know, you go to Steven Spielberg. You think he'd be ridiculously jaded at this point. "I'm at a theme park and I want to know what to shoot." So,

 

L: He wants to know what angle to take on everything.

 

J: So,

 

L: That's fantastic. All right, cool. So now for those attractions and I think late spring for Cabanas and Diagon Alley?

 

J: Well, Cabanas, the first six hundred rooms at Cabanas open first quarter of,

 

L: Yeah, I heard March, some time.

 

J: And in fact, they're taking reservations right now,

 

L: I heard.

 

J: Starting March 31st. And they're hoping they'll actually have it open a little earlier in March so that they can do,

 

L: Easter and Spring Break.

 

J: Yeah, and, you know, test guests and that sort of thing. The other twelve hundred rooms will not open,

 

L: Yeah, it's,

 

J: Until summer.

 

L: Yeah, summer and fall.

 

J: In fact, that's- to be honest, the only reason I would tell people maybe to hold off on Cabana, is that when the second wing opens, that pull is the one that includes the lazy river.

 

L: Okay. All right, good enough.

 

J: So. But it looks amazing and, but it's a fascinating one two punch to open, you know, Diagon Alley and this,

 

L: And the prices on Cabanas too, I mean, it's like, somewhere between Disney's, what is it, it starts under a hundred bucks a night for the,

 

J: Well, it's standard rooms, we were quoted a hundred seventeen dollars for the rooms that sleep four. A hundred and seventy five for rooms that sleep six. Which is,

 

L: So, much less than at Disney Suites.

 

J: Yeah.

 

L: Ah, so they're really sort of thinking, we're taking in Disney's Values and then the Art of Animation.

 

J: Now when I was talking with David Bartek- he's the rep for Loew's, he's the one who handles these hotels- he admitted that they went out, they looked at Art of Animation and they looked at Nickelodeon Suites and the whole notion was, "Okay, we understand about families coming to this resort." And in fact, what was- the thing that Dave was proudest of, I mean, don't get me wrong, these, they worked hard to make sure these rooms look Nineteen Fifties, Nineteen Sixties. For example, the rooms have flat-screen TVs, but it was like, "Look, the only way a flat screen TV works in this environment is you hang it on the wall and you put a wooden frame around it. It's a picture, all right?" You know, it's, mom and dad,

 

L: Classic.

 

J: Yeah. But at the same time he said, "Look, I have four kids. And when my twenty year old goes into a hotel room, it's like, he doesn't need an outlet, he needs multiple outlets.

 

L: Yeah, twelve outlets.

 

J: He's gotta get,

 

L: Oh that's right! They put this in the press release, how many outlets there are in the,

 

J: No but that's it exactly. This is- it's gonna have a sixties, fifties sixties look, but it's the first time ever where it's like, you're not on your hands and knees looking for outlets. There are, in fact he was talking about, for example, the redo they just did at Portofino. It was like, same thing. It's like you go into a Portofino hotel right now, you sit down at the desk, you look at the leg of the desk, there are six outlets sitting there, in the leg.

 

L: Yeah they essentially built a, the leg of the desk out of- it's kind of funny,

 

J: Poster (???).

 

L: Normally they, when people redo rooms they're like "Oh, we redid the soft goods, we redid the lighting, we redid the beds." These guys are like "Hey, we got more electrical outlets!"

 

J: And to be honest, think about it. I mean, the, this is the way we travel.

 

L: Everyone's got a phone. There's probably another device, so, you know... People, every person needs two outlets.

 

J: Yep. So,

 

L: Interesting choice.

 

J: So, again,

 

L: It seems like they put some thought into this. I'd be interested in seeing what happens.

 

J: Absolutely.

 

L: Oh good. All right, Jim. Cool. Thanks very much for your time on that one, Jim. All right, this is Len Testa for  Jim Hill. You've been listening to another edition of the Unofficial Guide Disney Dish Podcast with Jim Hill. Please go onto Itunes and rate us and tell us what you would like to hear next.  For Jim, this is Len. We will see you on the next show.

 

Touring Plans Podcast Network Ending: This has been a presentation of the TouringPlans.com Podcast Network. Enjoy your next trip! "Will you stop this foolishness!?" "What foolishness would you like to see?" Music "So long!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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