Orlando is often referred to as the “Theme Park Capital of the World”, and with good reason. The area is already home to seven of the world’s best theme parks.
Walt Disney World is by far the largest theme park complex in the world, let alone Orlando. In addition to countless resorts, a shopping district, and two water parks, its 39 square miles (101km2) of land is home to four world-class theme parks:
- Magic Kingdom – 1971
- EPCOT – 1982
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Formerly MGM Studios) – 1989
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom – 1998
Apart from the pandemic related closures and capacity limits, the demand for theme park entertainment in Orlando has been growing steadily since Walt Disney World opened its doors in 1971. The ever increasing demand has led to Universal Studios and SeaWorld setting up shop in Orlando, but Walt Disney World takes the Orlando theme park crown.
Orlando Is Due for a New Theme Park
For the vacation capital of the world, there hasn’t been a new theme park built there in over 22 years. Some would say they are overdue for a new park. The demand is there, and the time seems right to build a unique, state of the art 5th park. There would immediately be huge levels of hype built up if Disney announced intentions to build a 5th park.
Recently, there have been industry trends from companies such as LEGO and Pokémon to take what has been traditionally seen as things for children and created new, more mature products for those same children now that they’ve grown up. Disney can apply the same strategy by gearing its next park towards a more adult audience. We’ve all seen the “childless millennial” memes, and this strategy fully embraces it.
Revenue Will Be Key
Now more than ever, Disney leadership has been focusing on the bottom line when it comes to making theme park decisions. Luckily for them, this park concept should satisfy the requirement for revenue as a key feature of the park. Later on in this post we will dive deeper on the fusion of guest experience and revenue.
In this post we’re going to explore and imagine what an adult-focused Disney World park could look like. Introducing Disney’s Villains Kingdom.
Darker, Adult Themed Disney Park Experience
The Villains Kingdom would be something new and different at Disney World. Think less fairytale, less Toy Story, more Maleficent and dark vibes. The park would be themed around Disney villains from the numerous films and universes that Disney has created or acquired.
There are so many available to choose from, but to name a few of the most popular Disney villains:
- The Evil Queen (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)
- Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland)
- Hades (Hercules)
- Scar (The Lion King)
- Cruella de Vil (101 Dalmatians – which is receiving a 2021 reboot)
- Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)
- Jafar (Aladdin)
- Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)
It gets even better as Disney can tap into more adult-centric content by leveraging the treasure trove of content acquired through their purchases of Lucasfilm, Marvel Studios, and 20th Century Fox.
Here are some of the most fitting choices:
- Darth Vader (And other Star Wars villains)
- The X-Files
- Planet of the Apes
- American Horror Story
- Sons of Anarchy
- Night at the Museum (This one might be tough to fit in but boy would it be cool)
Disney can even offer more adult-centric Marvel experiences. Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox gives the company full ownership of the Marvel characters that were previously under Fox’s control:
Adult-centric Marvel experiences could include:
- The Fantastic Four
- The X-Men
Guests of all ages would be welcomed in such a park, but the experience would be geared more towards adults in both themes, attractions, and by serving alcohol more prevalently than the other parks.
Adult Oriented Themes, Attractions, and Live Shows
All of that intellectual property is worth its worth in weight in gold when it comes to creating theme park experiences. Imagine eating at an X-Files inspired restaurant or drinking ales in Gaston’s real Tavern.
Disney World could also benefit from more boundary pushing thrill rides. When it comes to tall and fast roller coasters, Disney tends to shy away, while their nearby competitors take advantage of that fact and eat their lunch, so to speak.
For its work on The Mandalorian, Disney’s Lucasfilm has pioneered and begun utilizing new technology called “Stagecraft” that uses a massive rear-projected LED screen to create an immersive background environment which essentially works as a real-time green screen. Not only is this technology groundbreaking, it would be perfect for creating riveting live show attractions in Villains Kingdom Park.
Cursed Castle Centerpiece
Villains Kingdom Park’s centerpiece will be a familiar site to anyone who has visited Disney World before.
Guests will be haunted by a broken, spooky, cursed incarnation of Cinderella Castle. Ghostly in appearance, full of cracks, missing bricks and ceiling tiles, the castle’s pinnacle is in ruins and does not reach as tall as Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom due to it being cursed and in a state of decay.
We spent some time in the design lab and this is what we came up with:
The centerpiece could have been the Evil Queen’s castle from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, but the contrast with Magic Kingdom right down the road makes a corrupted incarnation of Cinderella Castle the right choice. There are a limited number of lights coming from within the castle indicating something went horribly wrong, and that someone, or something is still home.
Alcohol = Fun (and Also More Revenue)
Disney has a huge opportunity to cater to its growing adult market by offering increased alcoholic beverage options and sales points such as kiosks and other quick service options.
Much like “drinking around the world” at EPCOT, the guest experience at Villains Kingdom would allow for alcohol to be enjoyed while walking around the park. For example, in the Magic Kingdom, alcohol is only allowed to be consumed while sitting for table service.
Walt Disney famously insisted that his parks would be dry parks because he hated the circus atmosphere that drinking brought. In 1956 he told the Saturday Evening Post: “No liquor, no beer, nothing. Because that brings in a rowdy element. That brings people that we don’t want, and I feel they don’t need it.”
Serving Alcohol Has Evolved
Disney theme parks have moved past that philosophy by serving alcohol at all four parks, but this policy can be improved with modern technology.
In order to appease Walt’s desires to not have a “rowdy element”, Disney could implement a drink per hour limit by tying drink purchases to each guest’s My Disney Experience mobile app account. This would allow Disney to keep the atmosphere enjoyable and safe for everyone. And to further promote safety, guests could be required to pass a test before being allowed to drive home.
A New Competitor Enters the Arena
Disney World would suddenly become competitive with Las Vegas as an adult getaway destination. Such a park would open up opportunities for bachelor/ette parties, corporate vacations, and more.
An increased presence of adult beverages is a win/win because it offers guests a more adult experience and Disney gets the benefit of the increased revenue.
The phenomenon of shopping under the influence has been well documented, so Disney has a ton of potential on the monetary side. Adult beverages typically have huge profit margins and tipsy guests eat more food, purchase clothing, merchandise, and souvenirs.
Alcohol Isn’t Required
There is a large number of people who choose to not drink alcohol for a variety of reasons, and they’ll be just as welcomed in Villains Kingdom. Alcohol isn’t required to have a great time (especially at Disney World!)
A good idea would be to offer alcohol free mornings so families and guests can enjoy the park with a different atmosphere. This could be balanced with adults only events held at night.
All in all, focusing on safe alcohol sales is a win for everyone involved. It offers a more fun, adult experience, and aligns well with Disney’s current corporate interests. Villains Kingdom would be a great place to spend a day or more on vacation for all types of people.
Epic Halloween Festivities
If you’ve ever been to a Halloween party before, Villains Kingdom would like that on steroids AND year round.
But what happens during Halloween season? Villains Kingdom would double down on the fright and become THE halloween destination in America.
Festivities could include:
- Individually themed haunted houses
- Trick or treating every day
- Costume contests
There is already some precedent for this as Disney has already hosted “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party” and the “Disney Villains After Hours” event. Universal Studios Orlando is famous for its annual “Halloween Horror Nights” so Villain Kingdom’s Halloween festivities would be aimed squarely to compete with them.
Lightning strobes and special Halloween overlay projections could transform Villain Kingdom’s Castle into a mad scientist’s hideout – similar to Frankenstein’s castle.
There is plenty of demand and opportunity to get Villains Kingdom built. There would be totally new experiences and places to explore. With Universal Studios planning on bringing yet another theme park to Orlando in the near future, Disney World is overdue for its 5th park to be added.
This article barely scratches the surface of what would be possible in an adult-oriented Disney theme park, but it gives you a good idea of what you could expect, and why it all makes sense.
What live shows and attractions would you like to see at a hypothetical Villains Kingdom? Let us know in the comments below or holler at us on Twitter.