Returning once again to the underused space of the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree (fka the Festival Arena) makes me think of all of the potential this area has. And yet, so often, events or shows don’t work here well enough to draw a lot of guests to this somewhat distant location in the park.
It may be due to the size of the space that overwhelms most shows. Or the limited, shorter-term options for seasonal events that may fill the area, but not *inhabit* it.
But it just seems to me, in my own personal opinion, that there are so many possibilities for transforming this area into something really exciting and interesting and, dare I say it – magical!
First, a look back at what hasn’t worked here:
- Semi-permanent shows like our dearly missed Billy Hill & the Hillbillies (to be spotlighted at a later date) who I wish had never been moved out of their perfect fit home in the Golden Horseshoe Saloon as they worked so much better in that more intimate atmosphere
- Temporary shows like The Music of: Nashville or the 2014 Christmas melodrama (to be spotlighted at a later date) – as much as I enjoyed the Nashville show in particular, it didn’t bring a lot of people over to this far corner of the park
- Visiting school bands and choirs – these shows seem to work so much better on the Backlot stage in the easier to get to Hollywood Land area of Disney California Adventure and they gather more “traffic” there
Okay, so what has worked here?
- Holiday celebrations like the pumpkin carvers and villains Meet & Greets at Halloween or visiting with Santa and Mrs. Claus at Christmas or the recent Spring Roundup with Disney rabbit characters entice people to head over here for these brief periods
- Long Lost Friends weeks with rare character Meet & Greets (to be spotlighted at a later date) filled this space every day with hour-long+ lines
- The Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – Sneak Peek 3D movie preview featuring various pirate-y entertainment including an appearance by Captain Jack Sparrow – one of the best uses of this space that I can recall in ages!
But since it’s been several years since such a fun event like the Pirates preview has occurred and the seasonal events leave this area often closed or underused for much of the rest of the year, here are some off-the-top-of-my-head personal ideas of what this area could be more productively used for year-round instead:
- More regularly scheduled, big-scale tentpole movie preview themed experiences held here with characters and entertainment instead of just as 3D film previews in some of the park theaters – for example, I would love to see this area turned into Wonderland for the next Alice in Wonderland movie with Alice and the Mad Hatter from the films appearing or back to a buccaneer crew-filled pirate ship-themed soiree for the next Pirates of the Caribbean film!
- Make this area a permanent Long Lost Friends Meet & Greet, changing out the characters here each month
- Make this location part of a Star Wars Land (I know, even using the forest moon of Endor is a stretch for theming of this area but you know you want to visit Endor on more than just a screen!)
- A Lone Ranger or John Carter of Mars attraction – yes, the movies were not big successes but just because a movie doesn’t have a large devoted fandom, doesn’t mean the attraction can’t impress (see: Avatarland in Walt Disney World Resort’s Animal Kingdom – no one was looking for a land based on this property, but it will no doubt be impressive when it’s done – but then again, so would have other options for that park like an addition of a new “continent” such as Australia, or the long-time rumored original and highly desired Beastly Kingdom concept of a land of fantasy creatures)
- A Pocahontas Colors of the Wind dark ride
- A Toy Story themed kid coaster with Jessie, Woody and Bullseye
- Bring back a smaller version of the Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland
- Move Goofy’s Sky School kid coaster here and re-theme it to The Barnstormer ala the one at Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom – and then put a version of Hong Kong Disneyland’s Mystic Manor in Goofy’s former spot in Disney California Adventure – maybe themed to California’s famous Winchester Mystery House?
- An UP attraction taking you to the jungles of South America with Carl, Russell, Kevin and Dug – preferably something using balloons or the Spirit of Adventure blimp (okay, yes, maybe this is more of an Adventureland idea and there’s probably not enough room for such an attraction here, but I’m all for anything UP!)
- An Oz attraction – a transition from Kansas to Oz is like a transition from Frontierland to Fantasyland which is perfect for this location – and how wonderful it would be to see the Emerald City! Especially with hot air balloons and twisters to get you there…
Do you like how the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree area is currently being utilized? Or would you prefer to see something else in that space?