Disney has been able to use the Disney+ streaming service to great affect when it comes to expanding on the great worlds and stories that began on the big screen. Following two successful seasons of The Mandalorian that filled in never-before-seen parts of the galaxy, far, far, away, WandaVision has continued the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a creative way that is resonating with fans despite its incredibly unique take on the material. We know there will be lots more Star Wars and Marvel on the big and small screen to continue to expand these stories, but now we know Disney also has their eye on an entirely new cinematic universe that will bring the original characters from Disney's theme park attractions to life in a series of Disney+ shows.
Ron Moore, who previously helped build universes within Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica, will, according to THR, oversee an entire franchise of stores that will take characters and locations created for Disney's various theme parks all over the world and turn them into original series for Disney+. The first one out of the gate will focus on the Society of Explorers and Adventurers, a collection of characters first fleshed out with the construction of the Tokyo DisneySea theme park in Japan in 2001. Considering that Disney already has two of the biggest franchise universes in the world on Disney+, it could appear like the streaming service is getting crowded, but really, this is exactly what Disney+ needs.
The Universe Is Brand New And Exclusive To Disney+
The building of a streaming service is about the balance between original and library content. The new stuff that you can't see anywhere else is what frequently gets people to subscribe, but the convenience of being able to access older shows and movies that people love is also valuable. Right now, Disney+ has not only The Mandalorian but also every Star Wars movie ever made. It has WandaVision, and almost all the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. But some of the MCU is missing, and things like the new Spider-Man films might never arrive on Disney+ because Disney doesn't have complete ownership of that material.
But if it was born at Disneyland or Walt Disney World, then Disney has complete control over it. However many series or movies are created from this initiative, they'll all be on Disney+ for as long as the service is running. And it's a cinematic universe that people will be able to experience from the beginning. While some of the attractions may be decades old, the stories told here can be essentially original. Writers won't be using established characters everybody already knows, so there will be much more freedom in how everything goes together.
The Disney Parks Have Great Characters To Choose From
If you're a fan of Disney theme parks then you're probably familiar with the frustration that comes from fans whenever an attraction with an original concept is replaced by something with Disney IP. While I would say too many people take such things a bit too seriously, the reason so many fans feel that way is that they have strong connections to the stories and characters that exist in those rides. When Figment the dragon was removed from his Epcot attraction people sort of lost it, so much so that the little purple...uh, dragon was quickly brought back.
Figment is a prime example of a character who could get his own Disney+ show out of this deal, but there are honestly so many more. A serial murdering bride may not seem like much of a Disney story, but that's the only way to describe the Haunted Mansion's Constance Hatchaway. And one of her dead husbands has the same last name as Harrison Hightower III, the owner of Hightower Hotel, Japan's version of the Tower of Terror. The stories, and the connections needed to build a cinematic universe, are already there, but these stories have never been told. We could have shows that literally dramatize the events of popular rides, and then continue the story to wherever the creative people want to take it.
Disney+ Ideas Can Help Create New Attractions For The Theme Parks
As mentioned, when original concept attractions are replaced with new versions based on Disney movies, fans tend to get upset. At the same time, there's no question that at some point nearly every attraction is going to need to be updated or replaced. A collection of Disney+ series actually has the potential to help make sure that when these updates happen, the core attraction remains, as it will give Walt Disney Imagineering a collection of their own IP to draw from.
Walt Disney Imagineering will actually be part of this new project, so the people who worked to create these original concepts that people love will still have a voice in creating these new stories. This means that if, for example, we get a Disney+ series based on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Imagineers will help create the setting and the characters involved in that. Then, when it's time for the actual attraction to be updated, the settings and characters from the Disney+ show can be used.
Beyond that, any completely brand new characters or ideas born from the show could potentially lead to entirely new attractions. Making TV shows can be faster than building theme park rides, so we could see ideas incorporated into the cinematic universe as a set-up for future rides. It will all function in much the same way as adding Captain Jack Sparrow animatronics to Pirates of the Caribbean, with IP influencing rides, but in this case it's the attraction imagineers influencing the IP first
Disney+ may have no shortage of cinematic universes, but this one is special and will be a potentially huge added benefit to the service. While it's always great to be able to go on a ride based on your favorite movie and feel like you're inside it, Disney has successfully created wonderful characters and stories entirely inside the parks, and a Magic Kingdom universe will allow that work to shine and, not coincidentally, entice more people to check out those theme park attractions.
CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.
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