Throughout the history of theme parks, one thing remains constant - the need to change. Parks continually have to build or redevelop rides, attractions, shows, shops, and restaurants to keep customers engaged and battle competition. Despite its status as the top destination in the world, Disney is no different.
Retheming or building a land can be expensive and risky, but it can also prove quite profitable, as we’ve seen in recent years with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort. Now it’s time for the Magic Kingdom to undergo a major renovation.
Part of Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom is Tom Sawyer’s Island which is themed around the 1876 Mark Twain book. In 1973 Disney opened the new attraction the same year that the movie adaptation was released. But is it still relevant? 146 years after the book and nearly 50 years after its opening?
Often ranked and reviewed in the bottom half of all Magic Kingdom attractions, visitors typically comment that Tom Sawyer’s Island is out of date, doesn’t feel like a part of Disney or Magic Kingdom, and is boring. When it does receive praise it is usually for its ability to help guests get away from crowds and feel like they aren’t in a theme park due to the nature and lack of interest. Not exactly selling points to warrant its continuation.
This leads us to talk about Bruno, and all of Encanto, the 2021 mega-hit. The film only grossed $256 million worldwide but became a viral sensation during the 2021 holiday season once released on Disney+. The film has a score of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes and received an A from CinemaScore. Encanto won 43 awards including Best Animated Feature Film from the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes. It also won three Grammy Awards for Best Soundtrack and Song for Visual Media, while “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” became Disney’s highest-charting song in 26 years, topping the US Billboard Charts for five weeks.
To reach the island guests take a classic three-story Riverboat. The general structure of the boat aligns with the Encanto timeline, but it could be redesigned to bring the colorful world into the ride, while also playing Encanto music as visitors travel to the island. Disney would be able to keep much of the natural elements or feel of the island, but modify it to have a look and feel that more closely resembles the Columbia Mountains where the film takes place. In the film, the town is cut off from the outside world, much like Tom Sawyer’s Island is cut off from the rest of Magic Kingdom.
Of course, the focal point on the island would be the Casa Madrigal, the Casita, which became a character in itself in the movie. The Disney Imagineers could bring the house to life as guests stroll through encountering motion, music, and interactive elements. The island could feature the Madrigal Family Mural, as well as the Bell Tower and shops from the central Plaza. Across the bridge to the northern, smaller, island Disney could recreate the river area in the movie where Pedro Madrigal falls to the soldiers, Alma Madrigal receives the magic and later reconnects with Mirabel.
Would you like to see Disney update Tom Sawyer’s Island? Should the new theme be focused on Encanto? Or do you have another idea? Let us know in the comments below.
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