Welcome to ‘Is Tomorrowland Speedway Worth A Fastpass?’ – a new series here on One Great Holiday where we go beyond the hype and give you the real story on whether or not you should visit Disney’s new racing-themed park.
As we mentioned in our article on the park’s mega-menu, Tomorrowland is home to some incredible rides, including Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and the X-Wing Starfighter, but it also has some controversial attractions. Chief among these is the Tomorrowland Speedway, an ersatz stock car racetrack themed around the eponymous fictional company from Pixar’s latest film, Incredibles 2. Themed after their hometown of San Francisco, California, the movie’s version of the Incredibles sported a red, white, and blue color scheme and featured the unmistakable voices of Helen Mirren, Brad Pitt, and Elton John. But will reprising these iconic characters in a theme park setting be enough to appease the sensibilities of those that object to Disney’s habit of commercializing pop culture? Or will the sheer joy of the experience prove to be enough of a draw for families and children? Let’s take a dive into the data to get the real answer.
Is Tomorrowland Speedway Worth A Fastpass?
Before we begin, let’s be clear that we’re not here to bash Disney or any of its parks. This article will be fairly even-handed in its assessment of the park, analyzing its pros and its cons, and hopefully convincing you that, even though it might not be for everyone, Tomorrowland is still a destination you ought to consider visiting.
First, let’s examine the park’s attendance figures. According to Disney’s most recent year-end financial report, the average weekly attendance was 8.8 million as of September 30, 2018. That’s a healthy figure, and it makes it the #3 theme park in the world, slightly behind Islands of Adventure and ahead of Universal Studios.
Here’s a breakdown of attendance by day:
Weekdays: 8.9 million
Weekends: 8.7 million
Sundays: 8.3 million
It’s clear then that, even when factoring in the offseason, there’s a lot of interest in Tomorrowland. And it’s not just interest in the park, but across all facets of Marvel Studios’ sprawling universe, as indicated by the studio’s recently released Year-End Statement which revealed that revenues for the year reached $12.7 billion.
With all that cash, Disney could certainly build a better version of Tomorrowland. And maybe they have. According to sources speaking to The Verge, the park has had several overhauls and expansions since opening in 2017, with new rides and attractions added, and some previously featured rides revised or removed.
All Things As They Appears On TV
While we’re on the subject of Disney Parks, it’s worth pointing out that they’re masters of the television commercial. As you’re aware, the company is responsible for such classics as the “It’s A Small World” parade, which debuted in 1968 and still features in its original form today, as well as the classic “Mickey MouseClub” shorts which were first aired on April 15, 1931 and continue to this very day.
These days, Disney’s parks and resorts are such a significant part of their business that the studio employs a team of more than 500 people to solely handle marketing and communications for its parks and resorts. And it’s not as though there aren’t signs that Tomorrowland is embracing the zeitgeist and evolving with the times. As has been mentioned in several previous articles on this site, the park has been significantly altered since opening, with new rides and attractions added. And it seems that these days, these additions are focused on further enhancing the guest’s experience rather than just duplicating what’s already there.
For instance, near the main entrance, a TV advert for Captain America: Civil War features the character walking past a billboard with an Iron Man silhouette on it. Meanwhile, the latest addition to the park, Toy Story Land, is themed around the entire Pixar franchise, featuring dozens of characters from the classic films as well as new additions from the upcoming sequel, Pixar’s Secret Lab.
To give you some context, here’s a list of all the rides and attractions currently operating at Tomorrowland:
1. The Incredible Hulk Coaster
3. Captain America: Civil War – Battle of New York
4. Soarin’ Over California
5. Cosmic Bowling
6. Toy Story Land
Is Tomorrowland A Happy Place To Be?
Let’s now switch gears and consider the attractions on offer in the park itself. As mentioned above, the first major addition since the park’s opening occurred in March 2018, when Toy Story Land debuted. This is a themed area dedicated to the fantastical Disney creatures that inhabit the company’s back catalogue.
This is an area of the park where kids can come together and reconnect with their favorite characters while adults enjoy some quality family time or take in a show.
What’s more, the new area is fairly expansive. Standing in line for the popular Incredibles ride just outside Toy Story Land, we’re shown a distance of almost 1000 feet to the first of four theaters, which show first-run films and hosted some amazing stunts and animation on display. Similarly, a stroll to the right will bring you to Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War, the second World War II-set film in the park’s history, and the grand finale to a year-long celebration of the franchise.
Ahead of that, visitors will pass by the Incredible Hulk Coaster, the theme park’s first ever four-passenger roller coaster. This is also the type of attraction where you have to book online in advance, as there’s a significant amount of interest in this niche market segment. And for something completely different, we suggest you head to Tomorrowland and check out the Medusa roller coaster. In addition to being one of the theme park’s oldest attractions, this wooden roller coaster is also one of its most unusual. Themed around Greek mythology and built in 1929, Medusa is one of the few remaining wooden roller coasters in existence. It’s quite an experience to climb to the top of this antique roller coaster and observe the surrounding environs, taking in the fantastic array of buildings and attractions that Disney has to offer.
Speaking of fantastic attractions, there are plenty more on the way. Star Wars Land is set to open in January 2022, and it will be the largest addition to the park in a decade. This time, the focus is on the classic trilogy and will include several rides and walk-throughs, as well as additional merchandise shops and dining options. In March 2022, the park will open its seventh land expansion, Ratatouille Land, based on the characters from Disney’s 2007 animated classic. The area will feature food and beverage providers who specialize in authentic French cuisine, as well as new rides and displays showcasing the enchanting world of Remy.
Taking The Fun Out Of Gaming
Back when we were kids, arcades were all the rage. Kids would spend their money on games and snacks, only to return a few minutes later to continue playing. It was the perfect opportunity for parents to steal a few minutes of peace while their kids amused themselves in the arcade for a couple of hours.
These days, arcades have mostly been replaced by video games and the occasional pinball machine. While these are definitely popular, theme parks are taking advantage of the technology that is available to them, and are integrating these games in creative ways. For example, one of the newest attractions at Disneyland Paris is Paddington Station, an interactive exhibition which allows guests to play on different platforms, using phones, tablets, and/or PCs. The idea is to create a realistic railway experience, complete with live train announcements, while allowing visitors to engage with the theme park’s central character, Paddington.
What is interesting about the above examples is how they’re combining various technologies to enhance the guest’s experience. Gaming has evolved from something solely enjoyed in arcades to a form that can be enjoyed anywhere, anytime. This is especially important for Disney, given that its theme parks are now accessed by a wider audience than ever before. And while gaming might not be for everyone, it’s clear that the entertainment conglomerate has recognized the potential of incorporating these technologies into existing attractions and expanding upon them, creating a more immersive and interactive experience for its visitors.