Saturday, September 6, 2008

"Keep Moving Forward"

Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
-- Walt Disney

Hey Folks-

As I've alluded a couple of times, I've been working on a Disney related list. In fact, it's a Disney related list that may be considered a little controversial coming from me, considering the Disney Kool-Aid that I clearly mainline on a daily basis. I even asked my friend Annie (another Disney kook) to help me come up with ideas for it. She said she felt guilty even suggesting things. I know exactly how she feels. But then I remembered the quote by Walt Disney that leads off this blog. "We keep moving forward." If there was anyone who kept his finger on the pulse of the times, who looked for ways to always improve his product, to keep from irrelevancy, it was Walt Disney.

So...with that I give you:

Dan's Top 5 Things Disney World Needs to Change, Remove, or Improve

5) Make The Contemporary Contemporary.
This one comes directly from Annie, and I thought about it a lot before adding it, because I wasn't sure if I wanted to consider the hotels, but clearly...that's silly. It's part of WDW, so it's fair game. Here's the thing, there are some really cool things at the Contemporary. Chef Mickey's has one of the best Character Breakfasts in WDW. California Grill is one of the highest rated (and priciest) restaurants in the Kingdom, and let's not forget the totally bad-ass Monorail Station (that goes through the middle of the building. These are all features that could easily appear again in the new iteration. Let's be honest though... the place (though currently going through interior refurbishment) doesn't LOOK contemporary anymore. It looks like it was one of those buildings built in the 70s to look "Futuristic". I actually think it's bordering on kitsch at this point. Now...I don't know if it just needs to be knocked down, and rebuilt. I don't even know if that'd be feasible, what with the monorail needing to go that way and whatnot. Still, there has to be a way to make it look like a sleek, modern building, while keeping the Disney charm.

4) Swiss Family...who? this is where I'm gonna start getting people riled. You know what? That's alright. I say it's time to get rid of the Swiss Family Treehouse. I know...I know... you loved it as a kid way back in 1981 or whenever. It's classic from Disneyland. There'd be protests like there was with Mr. Toad. I know all of those things. But let's be many kids today read the book (written in 1877) let alone have religiously watched the 1960 film? May as well call it.. "Treehouse" and it'd mean the same. I'm not saying that kids SHOULDN'T read the book or see the movie, but they aren't. On a practical level, the "attraction" takes up a shitload of space in Adventureland, and could so easily be used for other things. Or hey... How bout keeping the treehouse theme and make it "Tarzan and Turk's Treehouse" or "King Louie's Treehouse" or "Rafiki's Treehouse". I'm just sayin... there's better ways to utilize the space.

3) Witness...The Magic of.....Zzzzzzzzz
I am an on-the-record lover of Epcot's World Showcase. I think it's awesome. Easily one of my favorite features in the varied tapestry of WDW. That said, there's one thing that doesn't have much repeat value to me... The movies! The stupid, boring country-promoting movies. Of the 11 countries represented, 3 have these movies. (It used to be 4, but Norway wisely stopped showing theirs, which was probably the worst of them all.) These movies are boring. They aren't particularly interesting visually. They take up giant theaters that could be used for more things like Rio del Tiempo or The Maelstrom. Worst of all, they are dated. I actually would be totally cool with checking out a new one of these movies every time I was there, but it's been the same damned "O' Canada" movie every time I've ever gone to Epcot. That's now a time span of 15 years... (wow...15 years). Same with France. The worst part is that the people who work in these "Pavilions" are from these countries, and you feel like you're insulting them if you don't sit there and applaud for their country. Norway was the worst. You would ride the Maelstrom, and they'd make you...THEY WOULD MAKE YOU sit through their movie afterward. Ohhh the looks on the faces of those hurt (though buxom) Norwegian girls when you'd walk straight through the movie theater to the exit before the film started. Come on Disney! Save us all from an international incident. Please.

2) Safaris are ALREADY cool.
Kilimanjaro Safari at The Animal Kingdom is already one of my favorite attractions in all of WDW, and yet... there's thing nagging thing that's always bothered me. take a look at the picture from the ride up above... see that leathery creature with the long trunk? That's a real, live elephant! Why is this anything special on a safari ride? Well... because one of the things that Disney can probably be fairly accused of is... souping up things that don't really need souping. This ride/attraction has tons of real animals doing their own real why? WHY did Disney feel the need to create a manufactured, somewhat ridiculous storyline about saving "Little Red" the baby, animatronic elephant from poachers? WHY? I know that somewhere in there, there's a good message about conservation and protecting the protected species of our world and whatnot, but there's a strange dissonance that occurs when one moment you're seeing real, honest-to-god lions and elephants doing their real, honest-to-god thangs, and in the next moment you're listening to the vaguely offensive game-warden Wilson talking about catching poachers. It's just dumb and unnecessary in an attraction that is awesome in so many ways all on it's own. GET RID OF THE STORY!

1) Oh no! It's the Wicked Witch of the.... Line?"
The Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios (FKA MGM Studios) was my first "favorite ride". When I used to dream about working at Disney World there were 2 places that I wanted to work more than any other place... Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (no idea why) and The Great Movie Ride. See... it's a ride that involves actors! I thought that was the absolute, coolest thing ever. There's the Ride Car Conductor and the Gangster who busts out of that James Cagney movie and hijacks your car for a while. Then, as you're going through the Indiana Jones set, a "High Priest" gets rid of the Gangster and saves you. Then it's revealed that the High Priest is really your old Car Conductor! It's awesome. I've always thought it would be the most fun thing to do. I still do, actually. The problem is... well... the actors suck now. Maybe they always did, but they REALLY suck now. It's not like... you know... complicated. (I could recite all of the lines for you after the 3rd time I'd ridden.) It's fully automated, so it's not like it's different every time. Maybe that's the problem. You do it 25 times a day, and it's bound to get a little stale, but still.... Come ON. You're supposed to be creating movie god-damned magic here! I've noticed that the Gangster is usually the weaker of the 2 characters, and perhaps that's because the pool from which to choose is smaller (the other role can be a man or a woman), but it's still not hard, and you can ad-lib with the people a lot more, and it would be FUN. So please... please Disney... Please cast better actors for these parts. I'm begging you.

Some Honorable Mentions:
-- How bout some love for the new age of Disney? Hannah Montana? High School Musical? Jonas Brothers? These are the first giant stars of Disney since the late 50s with Annette and Cubby. Maybe a pavilion, or a ride for them.

-- Please do something better with Tom Sawyer Island. Please.

-- Update the movie scenes in Great Movie Ride.

-- Update the movie in Soarin'. Currently it's the same as the "Soarin' over California" ride at Disneyland. How 'bout a Soarin' Over America version?

-- Newer, more advanced animatronics on Jungle Cruise.'s gettin pretty stank.

-- Go back to the old Tiki Room. The effin' thing has been "Under New Management" for like...10 years now. Plus, the old one was better.

So....there it is. I didn't design it this way, but each of the 4 parks are represented as well as the hotels. I think changing these things would only make the greatest place on Earth just that much greater.


Gregg Fraley said...

Some good ideas in here for Disney. I had a thought reading through -- why doesn't Disney do new spiffy version of the old movies like Swiss Family Treehouse? Partner with Pixar, or use that technology.

Beefy Muchacho said...

I think that's a great idea. I used to be against the computer stuff, but the more I read about Walt, the more I realized that he'd have been the first man in that boat.

I think Disney has a hard time balancing the obvious nostalgia people feel toward certain movies and attractions with the burgeoning popularity of some of their new movies (Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Cars, Wall-E). They've done a ton to implement these movies into the parks, but it's hard to do without alientating the traditionalists. Your idea sort of melds those together a bit more.

I think they should create a whole new park (they're currently only using about a 3rd of the space they have in Florida) and make it focused on the pixar themes. Maybe there's not enough source material yet, but a lot of the movies lend themselves to theme park attractions.

briana said...

This is quite the insightful blog, brother. I think you make very valid points.

One thing I've learned from being here in Rome, is that they don't tear down anything. And I mean, anything. You'll see modern houses and buildings alongside half of a stone building or something of the sort. Crazy!