So we were talking the other day about Harry Potter’s expansion at Universal Studios Florida and the topic came up, again, about how Disney might counter this business challenge. Naturally, one of the first topics to arise is Disney’s ownership of Star Wars and how they could exploit that in the park.

There is certainly enough material for an entire park devoted to this franchise, but would Disney be willing to commit to that timetable and budget (probably 5 years and at least $6 billion) to defend their title as theme park king from the wizard down the street? Disney has the money to do it as well as the available land at their location, but the requirements to create a new park might outweigh the speed to market if they reworked a current park with a larger Star Wars presence.

The natural pick would be Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It is in desperate need of updating and with Epcot, there hasn’t been any real thoughtful additions to the park to make it a compelling competitor to all of the Hogwarts goodness at Universal Studios Florida.

Partial footprint of the current park. Click for large image.

Partial footprint of the current park

Being the nerdy-geek, or is it geeky-nerd, I fired up Google maps to see what the park’s current footprint might hold.

Click for larger version

Click for larger version

If we look at the map, we see that both the American Idol Experience and the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular announced that they will be closing. Looking at the footprint they leave behind, it is a considerable gap in the park’s attractions, but hardly enough to create a space large enough to accommodate all of the Star Wars mythology.

Click for a larger version.

Click for a larger version.

However, if we push the boundaries out from these two attractions we can start to capture space from some of the lesser valuable attractions within the park. Expanding the perimeter out and around Muppet Vision 3D and running all the way down to Epic Stunt Spectacular stadium opens a space sufficient for development while still being able to manage the crowds.

Click for a larger version.

Click for a larger version.

Ultimately, you could argue that Muppet Vision 3D should make way for this expansion as well which would open up all of the space West of New York City Street for Star Wars and the assorted attractions you could put into place over time. This would allow continual new development in a park that sorely needs fresh attractions and some thoughtful consideration for the future.

Now I have no idea what will happen and this is just idle speculation, but with all of the great reviews coming out of “that other park” in town, Disney Parks and Resorts officials have to react in order to compete in a game that has suddenly shifted favorites. I hope that the Disney team starts to introduce more compelling reasons to spend my money on the ever-increasing ticket prices at our local theme parks.

In the meantime, we have Avatar-land to look forward to…

[UPDATE 2014-08-06]

I have heard from some folks that their is no current plan to close the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. This is normal and expected to hear from Disney once rumors begin. And they may be correct, but the title of the post is focused on wild speculation, so I wanted to continue along that thread.

With The Walt Disney Company’s third-quarter earnings call for 2014, you can listed here, Bob Iger announced a significant Star Wars presence in Disney’s parks. What does that mean? Does it mean expansion akin to the above speculation? Which is nice, but still an after-thought in my mind.

Or does it mean, hopefully, an entirely new park dedicated to Star Wars and all of its mythologies? I believe the Star Wars universe could easily support an entire theme park and face the challenge posed by Universal Studios Florida’s latest addition to their growing Harry Potter presence. A new Star Wars park also presents new and unique opportunities to put in place technologies and experiences that the Disney Imagineers have been working on over the years at their scientific facilities around the globe. The infrastructure and expansive land is already in place here in Florida to support the expansion.

Bob Iger has shown he has the business acumen to spend money when needed to grow businesses and protect Disney’s core competencies. A move towards this Star Wars expansion in the parks is great, but will it be bold enough to stave off that young wizard and all of his fans flocking to him?

Again, this is all speculation and fun on a topic that is near and dear to us here at etckt. I have no inside information…but am willing to listen.

May the force be with you…