This is a timely piece for me. This past weekend I visited by 12th different Disney park in the world, and that makes all of them. I was reflecting on the decades of change I've seen. I'm trying to figure out how much of it is simply change for improvements and keeping current, and how much of it is change for no good reason except "Star Wars is hot right now". I'm still mulling over this but two themes are floating up, and the announcements this weekend and this thoughtful piece bring them out:
1) Your piece touches on it, the slow change from parks where the visitors visited a "working X", where X was prototype community of tomorrow, a nature preserve, or a TV/movie production studio (even if the "working" aspect was mostly theater), but the change from those to a run-to-the-next-ride amusement park. This is good in that the new rides are terrific fun and wonderfully creative: The Mystic Manor in HKDL is a ride style I can't wait to see reimagined in other ways, Tron is amazing, especially on the outside with the nighttime lighting of Tomorrowland, and the new Pirates in Shanghai DL is a whole new ballgame. But the perceived need to cram an RC Car racer track into the parks is destroying sight-lines from all directions (those orange tips of the tracks are everywhere). They haven't been letting up on non-ride entertainment, which is a good sign. And updates are good and can be done well, but they are losing sight of the overall quality- sometimes an attraction doesn't belong in the park (or at that point in the park) no matter how many riders it gets in another park.
2) the cross-promotion is getting very heavy and unnecessary. It appears to be urgent that no ride can just be a ride, there needs to be a tie-in with some other franchise. At Hong Kong DL there's Hyperspace Mountain, where they took space mountain and applied a vernier of Star Wars to it and in the end reminds me of a bad Walmart cake: "Star Blars" in red text with a picture of a Golum carrying a crossbow. The Small World ride has small world versions of everybody from Ariel to Nemo to Cinderella. The Astro Orbitors at HKDL play star wars music during the stopping sequence for no good reason. And sometimes too much at once can be too much (think "Stitch")-- they're getting there with IronMan and Guardians already IMO.
I don't know. I saw all the exciting announcements this weekend and that's great. But I'd like to seem them announce that they were going to pour some money into making you not realize that they had to spend so much attention on something, if that makes sense.