Sunday, April 30, 2017

"Mountains are a core competency of the Imagineers"

Long look at the $$$ Disney and Universal are pouring into theme parks:

The parks are an increasingly important part of Disney’s business. Television watchers have been canceling their cable subscriptions, imperiling revenue from ESPN, ABC, Disney Channel, and other properties, which generate the bulk of the company’s profit. Stan Meyers, an analyst at Piper Jaffray Cos. who covers Disney, predicts that by 2020, as its TV profit falters, operating income from the parks will climb by 64 percent, to $5.4 billion.

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At times, according to Daurio, Rowling and Universal were predictably at odds. The company, he says, wanted to serve hamburgers, pizza, and Coke, but Rowling insisted on the kind of British-inspired food that her characters might actually eat, such as shepherd’s pie or fish and chips. (A Universal spokesman says there was never a dispute over food and declined to elaborate on the company’s creative process or its arrangement with Rowling.) As for Coke, Rowling didn’t want a drop poured, which was a problem because it had an exclusive deal to sell its products everywhere in Universal’s parks. “Imagine you’re telling the biggest soda company in the world that has a license throughout the property to sell their product in all your theme parks that they are not going to sell one Coke in the Wizarding World,” Daurio says. “That was an enormous hurdle.” He says Coke eventually consented.

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And as with the Wizarding World, there was food to consider. The Imagineers came up with Na’vi-inspired fare such as bioluminescent cocktails and a mysterious-looking meat-and-cheese item. “You know when you go to a foreign country, something is put in front of you, and it looks really unfamiliar?” Rohde says. “You bite into it, and it’s like, ‘Oh, it tastes like chicken.’ We have this odd little thing that looks like a gushy white little pod. You bite into it, and you go, ‘It just tastes like a cheeseburger.’ ”
Relatedly:
Walt Disney World plans to deploy driverless shuttles in Florida