This is pure speculation on my part, but while I was reading a press release regarding Chicken Little being projected in 3-D (w/ glasses), a thought suddenly popped into my head. What if this whole DFA shift from traditional animation to CG animation was an engineered event to open up a whole new revenue source for Disney? ...continued...
For a moment, let's pretend that Disney was looking to not only put more people in theatre seats for their movies, but potentially open up a revenue source where other film makers had to pay Disney to display their 3-D movies in those specially equipped theatres. You are probably thinking that 3-D had its chance back in the 40's and 50's. The difference is that 3D CG films is a natural use for 3-D projection. The objects all exist in 3D space, they just need to be rendered twice (one for each eye). Sure you can go back and fake 3-D to already existing live action or traditionally animated films, but it would'nt come close to CG 3-D.
The first film to showcase this new technology in mass will be Chicken Little. Disney is helping to install the hardware in some 100 theatres across the country by the time CL releases. Before Wilbur Robinson comes out (Disney already announced that it will be displayed in 3-D too), there will be a much larger number of theatres equipped. Think about it. If Disney can get their "Disney 3-D" into most of the major theatres, any other company that produces a film and wants to jump onto the 3-D bandwaggon will have to pay a licensing fee to display it using their techniques. Not only are they potentially getting more people in seats for their movies (from the "wow" factor), they are potentially opening up a new revenue source from other movie makers that want to do the same.
By now you are probably wondering what this has to do with Disney dumping traditional cartoons for computer ones. Disney already got beat by Pixar with the move to CG. They've got to be pissed they didn't do it first. How do you one-up the competition (and yes, Pixar is competition to them)? You go one step further with 3-D projection. You push 3D a little further. If they are going to take advantage of this new technology and sell it as THE way to display animated films, they have got to go balls out and be completely CG.
Disney is accomplishing a few things with the release of Disney 3-D and Chicken Little. First, their first full CG film. Second, their first full CG film that will showcase new 3-D technology and potentially excite more people to go to the theatre. Third, possibly opening up a new revenue source when other film companies want to release a film in 3-D and use their equipped theatres (that will require them to license Disney's technology). Sure, they are taking a risk that no one really cares for 3-D. But if people do, they are locking in a potentially lucrative niche for themselves.
Makes perfect sense to me.