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Party at the Studios?

Over the years, I’ve heard lots of rumors regarding the Studios.  Some raise their ugly heads more often than others but generally, the rule I’ve adopted is the more times I hear a rumor of something happening (and subsequently doesn’t), the less likely it’s going to happen.  Think about it. How many times have we heard the rumor about a monorail expansion? Or a villains park? Or a 5th theme park? Well one of those sort of rumors is back and this is the Halloween event at the Studios rumor.  So given the “Matt Axiom” (Yes, I did just name it after myself, but I figure it’s a dumb enough theory without any scientific basis for it for me to do that), why do I believe this one?

For those who haven’t heard this rumor (and I’d like to know which rock in Universal Studios you’ve been living under), basically it stipulates that Disney is going to roll out an annual hard ticket event at the Studios around Halloween, similar in fashion to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom, that would feature a theme of either elements from the film “A Nightmare Before Christmas” or a general villains theme.  The idea is that it would contrast the squeaky-clean image that Not So Scary has and give an alternative to those who don’t find the premise of Not So Scary appealing or scary enough.  It wouldn’t be as intense as the Halloween Horror Nights event at Universal but the sort of event that might attract that young adult demographic that tends not to generally be attracted to the parks (or Not So Scary).

Sounds like a great event, right?  Well, it’s been rumored for years.  Even went as far as to be featured in both the Official and Unofficial guides to Walt Disney World in one edition or another and has certainly made the rounds across the Internet (roughly 3256821 times) and yet I find myself biting.  I want to see this event come and I can see it happening. I promise I’m not under the influence of anything, so let me point out why I think it could happen.

The biggest boon to the event coming is the Pirate and Princesses parties at the Magic Kingdom.  These parties debuted last year and haven’t been well received or attended.  Crowds are usually much lower for these events than Not So Scary or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (to the point where those attending can go on any attraction with basically no wait for it) and yet the event has returned once already and has been announced as returning for dates in 2008.  Clearly, if Disney is making enough money to pay for the costs and make some money, that must be why it keeps coming back.

I don’t really think Disney feels it needs to compete with Universal directly like it had to in years past considering the sagging attendance figures for Universal.  And I think the young adult demographic argument is a little overrated but I do think Disney is always on the lookout for ways to make more money.  They’re expanding their operations with projects like the Disney Vacation Club Resort in Hawaii and an idea like this event could be along those lines. The Nightmare film has been released again this year following a re-release in theaters in 2006 and merchandise sales continue to do well and the film is as popular as ever (more so than when it was released in 1993), so this isn't an obscure Disney film; it's become a fan favorite.

With the impending change of the Studios name coming, the park name itself could signify the addition of the party.  Disney has described the name change for, among other reasons, to be a means of going beyond the initial scope of the park and allowing an event like this to occur.  Jim Hill wrote a little about the event and the impact of the name change on the possibility of this event becoming a reality:

In fact, the way I hear it, the Mouse's desire to get a scary seasonal event going at MGM (As opposed to the Mickey's Not-so-Scary Halloween Party over at the Magic Kingdom) may have actually played an important part in helping Disney officials to decide what the new name of the studio theme park should be.

To explain: Mouse House managers had pretty much already agreed to rename MGM "Disney / Pixar Studios" when one executive reportedly pointed out that Pixar wasn't really a name that was associated with horror. Whereas "Disney's Hollywood Studios" is a name that can easily be adapted for all manner of seasonal events (i.e. "Disney's Horrorwood Studios" and/or "Disney's Hollyday Studios").

From a guest standpoint, more choices is always better and I think it would be great to have a hard ticket event at the Studios running in tandem with Not So Scary.  For Disney, you offer a great chance for guests to go to at least one of the events and with its devoted fan base, yet another event guests can buy into. Besides, this is at the Studios.  A major knock on Pirates and Princesses is it’s very similar to the Not So Scary or Very Merry and to many, there’s no compelling reason to go to the event if they’ve been to (or are planning on going to) the other two hard ticket events at the Magic Kingdom.  A hard ticket event at the Studios is going to be very different than the previous Magic Kingdom events and not just another clone.  And given the theme of being a bit more adult (or at least different than Not So Scary), it could be different enough to make folks want to do both and bring others back to the hard ticket events that may have written them off as “all the same”. 

Given the “Matt Axiom”, I shouldn’t believe any of this and file this rumor under “Seeing is believing” but recent events and an unexplainable gut feeling tell me it will happen in time.  Maybe this is all just some wishful thinking but it adds up for me and I’ll be first in line for the event when it’s (hopefully) announced. 

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A regular look into Disney's Hollywood Studios, both past and present, with commentary and analysis from Matt Hochberg.


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Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2007 by