In the United States, Walt Disney will unveil one of the world’s most expensive roller coasters at its Epcot theme park this month, underscoring the importance of its investments in Florida to the company and the tourism industry. ‘State.
Starting May 27, Guardians Of The Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind pilots will ride in a four-seat cockpit that rotates 360° and travels up to 60 miles per hour, immersing guests in a Star-Lord story. , Groot and other characters from the Marvel franchise.
Disney spent US$500 million (RM2.185 billion) on the ride, according to an estimate by industry consultant Dennis Speigel.
“The technology there is amazing,” he said. The company declined to comment on the cost.
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The investment underscores how important Florida is to Disney — and will continue to be as the company publicly battles with Governor Ron DeSantis. In April, Republican lawmakers voted to dismantle a special municipal district in which Disney has operated since the 1960s, in retaliation for the company’s opposition to a bill banning the teaching of gender identity. in some classrooms. Disney has four theme parks and 29,000 hotel rooms in the Orlando area, employing 70,000 people.
“Disney World isn’t going anywhere because it’s a huge investment,” said Chad Emerson, author of a book about the Florida resort town. “You can’t get rid of Disney World, the state and Disney would have consequences.”
The Guardians attraction is the latest stop in a multi-year refresh of Epcot. When Disney opened the park 40 years ago, designers deliberately left out movie and TV characters to set it apart from neighboring Magic Kingdom park. Now, Epcot is being renovated to feature more stories from the company’s programming well and boost its appeal to families with young children.
After cutting capital spending to conserve cash during the global pandemic, Disney plans to invest a record US$6 billion (RM26.22 billion) in its business this year. The resorts division, which includes consumer products and cruise ships, is expected to earn more than all of Disney’s other businesses combined in 2022, including sports networks ESPN and movie studios. It’s the first time this has happened in decades, thanks in large part to an American consumer eager to get out and have fun again.
“Disney World is jam-packed,” said Rich Greenfield, analyst at LightShed Partners. “They’re raising prices and literally looking at demand that they can’t handle.”
Epcot was the second theme park the Burbank, Calif.-based company built in Florida. Founder Walt Disney envisioned it as a place where people would actually live and work, an “experimental prototype community of tomorrow.” Instead, the park has become something of a permanent world’s fair and science fair. The flower and food-related festivals drew crowds of adults, many of whom enjoyed pub crawls at the park’s country-specific pavilions.
In 2016, Disney redesigned a Norway Pavilion ride to include characters from its hit movie Frozen. The oil rigs and the vikings have come out, the princesses Anna and Elsa have arrived. That success inspired a broader redesign of Epcot, according to Zach Riddley, the Disney designer who spearheaded the remodel.
A ride linked to the film Ratatouille, about an adorable rodent who aspires to be a chef, opened its doors last year in the French pavilion. More entertainment expansions are coming, including music and images of Moana in an outdoor water garden. Disney characters will also be featured in an interactive Play! pavilion, still under construction.
Many projects have been delayed due to the pandemic. Disney has suspended plans for a Mary Poppins ride at the UK pavilion. But movie ties are appearing elsewhere in the Disney empire. An Avengers-themed campus opened last year at Disney’s California Adventure in Anaheim, California.
The nearby Paradise Pier Hotel is being renovated with a Pixar theme.
Some Disney purists object to putting characters everywhere, said Carissa Baker, a professor who studies parks at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, but the average fan is happy.
“Ratatouille has its place in France,” she said. “It’s a love letter to French cuisine.”
Riddley said the company arranged for Guardians to integrate with Epcot. The attraction includes a detailed pre-ride explanation of how representatives of the planet Xadar came to Earth to open a pavilion showcasing their culture in the park.
Glenn Close resumes his role as commander of the Xandarian army. One of six different songs, including Disco Inferno and One Way Or Another, will play during the ride, a nod to Star-Lord’s love of old school mix tapes.
“We have a lot of great touchpoints where you bring the world of Guardians to life, but in a way that feels pretty unique,” Riddley said.
Disney expects strong demand. He charged fan club members US$35 (RM153) to be among the first to pilot Cosmic Rewind before it opened to the general public. The tickets sold out. –Bloomberg