WW GOES TO WDW at Yesterland.com Walt Disney World Renamed!
(April Fools Day 2012)

Disney Parks

I usually post a new article each Friday. However, the news here at Walt Disney World—or, more accurately, here at the FORMER Walt Disney World—is so big that I had to post it immediately.

Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, April 1, 2012

Before you take this article seriously, please notice the publication date.

Disney Parks

Items that had been slipped under the door

A letter and a couple of new brochures were slipped under our resort room door this morning.

The letter explained that the Walt Disney World Resort is now the Disney Parks Resort. Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom have all been renamed to Disney Park. Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach are now both called Disney Water Park. And every hotel here now shares the same name.

It’s simple. It’s consistent. It eliminates the need to remember dozens of different names.

Disney Parks

New name and new sign at the former Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Villas Resort

When we checked in at Disney’s BoardWalk yesterday, I noticed that the large capital letters that spelled “BOARDWALK” around the arch of the porte-cochère were gone. Painters were repairing and painting the siding. I assumed the letters would be replaced when they finished.

I had no idea that our resort would have a new name this morning. It’s now the Disney Parks Resort. I talked to the sign crew as they were cleaning up. I learned that everyone with the skills to install signs was told to plan on working overnight. They weren’t told why until they showed up for work last night. Only nine people in the whole Walt Disney Company knew the plan ahead of time, with four of them working secretly in an off-site sign shop for three years.

If everything has gone the way it was supposed to, every theme park, water park, and resort has new signs this morning. It’s remarkable how the Disney Company can work its “magic” so quickly while guests are asleep.

Disney Parks

Take a bus to Disney Park. But which one?

I decided to take a look around the property. As I walked to the bus stop, I just missed a bus whose destination was Disney Park. Fortunately, a minute later, another bus heading to Disney Park pulled up to the curb. I took a seat right behind the driver and realized that I didn’t know which park was the destination. So I asked the driver.

“We’re going to Disney Park,” he replied. I told him that his answer was meaningless to me. “I’m sorry,” he responded, “That’s what we were trained to say this morning. The destination is supposed to be a surprise, sort of like when you ride Star Tours. But since you asked, we’re going to the Disney Park with the castle.”

“Magic Kingdom?” I asked.

“Yes, but we can’t say that name any more. It’s now Disney Park,” he corrected me.

Disney Parks

Monorail station at the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC)

The Magic Kingdom—I mean Disney Park—was still closed, so I decided to take a loop on the Monorail. I exited at the TTC.

I have to say that it was really impressive to see that all references to Walt Disney World and the former park names were gone. It’s one thing to replace a few large signs, but they must have had an exhaustive list of every reference to the old names and had replacements for all of them. Well done!

I wanted to return to… the Disney Park with the castle (see, I’m learning). There were three entry ramps up to Monorail platforms. One went to “Disney Parks Resorts.” The other two were both labeled “Disney Park.” I checked which one had its track going toward the Disney Park with the castle. (I’m sorry if that’s cheating.)

Disney Parks

The former Magic Kingdom

By the time I returned, the park was open. I noticed that a splendid Disney Park sign had replaced the old Magic Kingdom sign. What really impressed me was that the tops of the train coaches had been repainted with Disney Park Railroad lettering. I have no idea how they did that overnight.

As I walked up Main Street, U.S.A., I started to think about the name change. Disney’s marketing executives have spent years building up the Disney Parks brand. Surely they know what they’re doing. They’ve probably determined that guests love it. The Disney Parks brand has been on merchandise and in advertising for years, and this name change is the next logical step.

Every McDonald’s restaurant is called McDonald’s, even though the decor varies between locations. If each McDonald’s had a different name, it would weaken the brand. In exactly the same way, Disney has thrown out its hodge-podge of different park and resort names in favor of consistent branding. Brilliant.

Disney Parks

Disney Parks logo apparel

I went into a shop where I considered buying a Disney Parks windbreaker. I can’t explain why, but I decided against it. Maybe it will just take some time until I get used to the new naming. I need to accept it.

The next step for Disney is undoubtedly to do the same thing in California, where the Disney Parks Resort would have two parks: Disney Park and Disney Park. An added bonus would be that Disney wouldn’t have to produce two separate ads to run after the Super Bowl next year. The star player can reply to “What are you going to do next?” with a single answer, “I’m going to Disney Parks!”

Disney Parks

Chicken Parmesan on a paper plate

I had skipped breakfast, so I was hungry for an early lunch. I noticed that the Pinocchio Village Haus was already open. I ordered the Chicken Parmesan with Pasta for $8.79.

Until this point, I marveled at Disney’s branding skills. But then I noticed something that disappointed me.

It was my paper plate. It said “Disney Parks” on it.

Was this really the best that Disney could do? Why didn’t this plate have Pinocchio artwork, or at least Fantasyland artwork? Why such a generic plate? Disney is supposed to be about delighting guests with creative details, not about branding consistency.

Then I reminded myself that this is 2012. The brand is king. Long live the brand!

*   *   *

You’ve undoubtedly figured out that this is an April Fools Day story. The Disney Company would never do things such as promoting Disney Parks as a national brand, selling Disney Parks logo apparel, or using the same, generic Disney Parks paper plates at counter-service restaurants all over Walt Disney World, would it?


Florida Citrus Tower
Disney’s AVATAR Kingdom

© 2012 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated June 29, 2012.

Photo of Magic Kingdom Main Street Station by Allen Huffman used as basis for the edited image.
All other edited images based on photos by Werner Weiss.
Image editing by Werner Weiss.