Jurassic World and Disney World Movie Parallels

Hello and happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great Father’s Day and an even better weekend! I celebrated with my dad by bringing him to see Jurassic World. After the movie, my family ordered in a belt-busting amount of food from his favorite Italian restaurant.

I was excited about finally seeing Jurassic World. As a kid, the Jurassic Park trilogy scared the daylights out of me. I finally sat down to re-watch the trilogy when the newest installment was first announced and realized why my dad loves it so much.

The movie wasn’t just for special-effects junkies. As a copywriter and advertising student, I loved the sponsorships. The movie took product placement to new heights. It was an interesting twist on product placement, going as far as showing a broken Samsung phone. It’s considered taboo to display a product in anything but a positive light, even if a genetically engineered dinosaur just stomped on it.

I won’t review the movie. That’s not the purpose of this post – although it really was a great movie and a great ending to the Jurassic Park franchise. Aside from the awesome special effects and the obvious product placement, I noticed something else. Whether it was blatant or completely coincidental, Jurassic World had many parallels to Walt Disney World.

**A quick note: if you haven’t seen the movie, stop reading. There could be some spoilers mixed in here. **

The Park

Let’s start with the obvious. Jurassic World. Sound familiar? Even the name makes you think of Disney World. Jurassic World is an incredibly successful park that immerses guests in an experience.

You stay on the island, much like staying “on-site” at Disney. Even the park itself reminds me of Walt Disney World. At one point, we see guests congregated at the front of the park. Like Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, the park features a “Main Street” leading to the rest of the park. The area even resembles Hollywood Boulevard.

The park has a central command station that also made me think of Disney. With cameras everywhere, the station monitors the park to make sure everything goes smoothly. When a dinosaur escapes, the command station sends out a team of trained professionals to deal with the problem. The team is so good that it goes unnoticed, and many guests never even learn of the problem. Disney also has a tactical security team. You rarely see them, but they are always there. There have been plenty of stories of overserved guests that seem to “disappear.” Have you ever seen a shoplifter get caught at Disney World? If you think that it doesn’t happen, I have some oceanfront property to sell you in North Dakota. It happens, but Disney’s security force is so tactical that it rarely disrupts your experience.

Magic Bands

After checking into the resort, two of the main characters are presented with special “wristbands” that allow them to get to the front of the line at attractions. I let out an audible laugh and elbowed my dad at this point. The wristbands even came in a box, much like the Magic Bands you receive in the mail.

Sponsorship

The movie was quite obviously sponsored by Starbucks, among other sponsors. The fact that Starbucks was a main player in the movie is purely coincidental, but I found it funny. After all, Starbucks is the newest brand to grace the Disney parks.

After securing a sponsorship from Verizon, one character calls out how ridiculous the sponsorships are becoming. He jokes that the park will soon name dinosaurs after brands, such as a “Tostito-daur.” All I could think of at this point was Disney and the outrage fans feel every time a new sponsor emerges. Remember the backlash of Starbucks taking over the Main Street Bakery? Sponsored rides and attractions have become the norm for Disney, as well as many other parks: General Motors at Test Track, Coca-Cola products, and Siemens’ sponsorship of Spaceship Earth and Illuminations, to name a few.

Attractions Getting Pushed Back

The movie revolved around the Indominus Rex, or iRex (another subtle rib on today’s culture.) The dinosaur is a genetically engineered hybrid, featuring genes from frogs, cuttlefish, the Tyrannosaurus Rex and the Velociraptor. The lead character talks about how the “attraction” kept getting pushed back due to funding and building complications, but touts the anticipation by citing the amount of tickets already sold. This made me think of Disney and the frustration felt by guests when a ride or attraction takes longer than expected to open. A lot goes on behind the scenes that we do not know about, often leading to “open by Spring 2015” to become “Opening in 2016!”

Jurassic World also takes a rib at theme parks in general. It cites the idea that guests always want something “faster and scarier.” The park can no longer get by with educational attractions (I’m looking at you, Ellen’s Energy Adventure.)

A few other things…

– Guests get around the park via a futuristic monorail.

– Toward the end of the movie, the camera pans out to show the destruction of the iRex. There’s a resort in the background that resembles the Contemporary Resort. I’m trying to find a picture of it and will post it when I do.

– When the kids check-in at the beginning of the movie, it feels a lot like the Animal Kingdom Resort.

– The “Main Street” of the park feels a lot like a mix between Hollywood Studios and Disney Springs.

Maybe I’m grasping at straws here, but while George Lucas has a great relationship with Disney, the movie was produced by Universal. While the movie was more of a demonstration of how big corporations could ruin something, some aspects (such as the wristbands) felt like a rib or head nod to Disney. What did you think?

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