In March, Disney fans learned that Bob Weis’ title changed from President of Walt Disney Imagineering to President – Creative and New Experience Development. But what exactly does “Creative and New Experience Development” mean? Nobody outside of the company really knows for the time being, and perhaps even they are still trying to figure out exactly what it means. But my guess is that the “new experiences” will begin to include a lot more content outside of the Disney Parks.
Just this past week, we learned about the new Walt Disney Imagineering Lab that will be part of Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship, the Disney Wish. In this lab, kids will be able to design and virtually ride their own roller coasters.
Based on the concept art, it seems like it will be a tamer version of CyberSpace Mountain, which was once part of DisneyQuest. The difference seems to be that instead of riding inside of an enclosed simulator, the kid’s version looks like a simulator in front of a large screen. But the concept between the two are similar where you design a roller coaster and experience it virtually.
Disney has clearly had an interest for a long time in bringing the Disney Parks experience to locations outside of the resorts. That was the purpose of DisneyQuest, but unfortunately the failed location in Chicago ended its expansion. But maybe it’s time for Disney to take another go at “local” attractions in various locations. I think that is exactly what “new experience development” might mean.
Even though DisneyQuest didn’t work out, I bet that a Disney arcade in your local mall would be much less costly for Disney to build, yet quite popular. Whenever a guest sees Disney’s name attached to a product, we expect it to go above and beyond. I think creating an arcade with experiences like the roller coaster simulator could be just the sort of attraction we would expect to see in a Disney arcade.
When it comes to those simulators, they could also be indirectly used as great marketing tools. There are a lot of folks who would love to visit a particular Disney Park but haven’t yet. It would be quite enticing and perhaps encourage folks to start saving for those bigger vacations if they got a taste of some of the overseas park attractions on a simulator.
We’re also seeing experiences being built like Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser (AKA the Star Wars hotel), where guests will be able to live inside of a Star Wars story. Call me crazy, but I think an experience like this might be more successful if it were not attached to a Disney Resort. When you’re visiting a place like Walt Disney World, there is so much to do that planning two entire days for an excursion like this most likely means two less days of everything else. My guess is they’re hoping you’ll spend two less days at the competitor’s parks and instead spend your entire vacation at Walt Disney World.
But just imagine if something like a Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser were to become available in big cities around the country; the destination would be that particular experience and no longer the resort as a whole. The same could be said for the dinner shows we’re seeing available on the Disney Wish, including “Frozen” and Marvel. Just think of dinner shows that have been around for years like Medieval Times… imagine if Disney got in on that business.
I’m certainly not suggesting they just take content from their resorts and cruise ships and plop them throughout the world, but I think the potential for creating unique experiences with their characters around the globe outside of the parks is the next big move for Disney — and perhaps that’s what “new experience development” is all about.
What do you think “new experience development” means? Would you like to see Disney begin to create live content all over the world, or do you like that it’s all centralized at the resorts and on cruise ships for the most part? Leave a comment and let me know.
If you have any theme park topics you would like to hear my opinion on, let me know in the comments. You might just see it pop up in a future DePaoli on DeParks.
Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” the ultimate, unofficial Disney fan podcast. Get your FREE gifts of “America’s Hidden Mickeys,” “On the Rohde Again,” “Theme Park Comfort Kit” and more at DizneyCoastToCoast.com.