If The Great Movie Ride Has to Go

Nearly three years ago I wrote this article about the rumored demise of the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, which so far has remained unscathed.  The newest Studios scuttlebutt predicts the replacement of The Great Movie Ride with something completely different.  I’ve got mixed feelings about this one.  Let’s discuss!

If The Great Movie Ride Has to GoThe Great Movie Ride

Like much of Disney’s Hollywood Studios in recent years, The Great Movie Ride hasn’t received a whole lot of love.  New intro, change in narration, and nothing else.  The scenes are stale, some of the animatronics don’t work, and the scripts on the two versions are exactly the same…every. single. time. The Great Movie Ride

The premise of this attraction makes it perpetually ready for awesome updates and theme/action changes at regular intervals.  So much Hollywood greatness to be showcased, incredible potential for an infinite number of scene changes and movie genres to explore.  None of that has happened and I still ride it on nearly every visit.  Why?  Nostalgia mostly.  I have a love/hate relationship with many of the scenes.  I love the Casablanca scene, hate Tarzan, love John Wayne and Mary Poppins, hate The Public EnemyThe Wizard of Oz is my absolute favorite and so well done!  If other fans are like me, nostalgia alone probably isn’t enough to keep this ride alive.

If the Rumors are True…

According to speculation from August, 2016, The Great Movie Ride may be replaced by The Great Mickey Ride.  Think about the possibilities!  Trackless vehicles moving guests through the history of Mickey in all his lovable forms.  He’s recognized world-wide and has yet to have his very own attraction!  The original spirit of the Studios would live on and new generations of Mickey fans would learn the story of the world’s most famous Mouse.  Makes sense as Mickey will celebrate his 100th birthday in 2028.  With so much to showcase, this could easily be one of those attractions guests would ride again and again to see what they might have missed on previous visits.The Great Movie Ride

With money and resources currently allocated for Star Wars and Toy Story lands, it seems doubtful that anything will happen in the near future.  Goodness knows, the Studios can’t handle anymore closures without new attractions to fill in the gaping holes.  I can see how the long-term survival of The Great Movie Ride in its current form is unlikely though, and I’m prepared for it to go away.  In the meantime, I intend to ride it a few more times and enjoy one of the last vestiges of what Disney’s MGM Studios originally used to be.

How about you?  Are you a fan of The Great Movie Ride?  Are you ready to see it replaced?

 

Who Would Love Disney’s Rivers of Light

Rivers of Light – Fraught with problems and persistent rumors from its earliest pre-production phases, this newest nighttime show in Disney’s Animal Kingdom got mixed reviews from Raymond, Joseph and I when we recently saw it for the first time.

Who Would Love Disney’s Rivers of Light

Originally scheduled to premier in April, 2016, Rivers of Light finally made its long-awaited and much-anticipated debut in February, 2017.  Rumors about the cause of the delay ranged from problems with the floats to mechanical difficulties to dissatisfaction with the music and/or show storyline.  Early reviews have not been favorable, but we’re a family that likes to decide for ourselves where on our attraction popularity scale each new offering falls.  We booked FastPasses so we could arrive at 8:00 pm for the 8:30 show.  The FastPass entrance to the amphitheater (in Asia near Everest) was just opening up as we arrived and we found seats easily.Who Would Love Disney's Rivers of Light?

There’s a pre-show for Rivers of Light that involves lights in the trees, animal noises, shadows and music.  I thought the lights were nice.  When the 15-minute show began, we were captivated by the visual effects.  Animal Kingdom’s first nighttime spectacular predictably focuses on the relationship between nature and all living things.  There are shamans on boats who do a lot of arm waving which creates some cool shadow effects on the boats’ sails.  The combination of lights, lasers, music, boats, lanterns, projections on water screens, and colorful floats sounds like an easy win – and the show itself is not bad, just not what we’ve come to expect from Disney.Who Would Love Disney's Rivers of Light

Great Use of Special Effects

Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot to like.  Joseph thought it was good entertainment and was especially impressed with the visual effects.  Raymond wished it had been a little more “Disney” with familiar (or at least memorable) music or even the inclusion of some appropriate characters (Pocahontas, Jungle Book, Brother Bear, etc.)  I thought the music was pretty terrible, but the water screens, projections, and floats were fantastic.  The storyline (if you can call it that) seemed to be an overly simplistic “we are one” theme.  Based on the kids around us who were asking if the show was over barely five minutes in, I’m guessing Rivers of Light will not be popular with kids up to about age 8 or 9.Disney's Rivers of Light Who Would Love Disney's Rivers of Light Disney's Rivers of Light

I received a survey about Rivers of Light via email after we got home and tried to be as honest as possible about what we did and didn’t like.  Hopefully Disney is planning to make some improvements.  I completely understand the need for Animal Kingdom’s nighttime show to reflect the park’s conservation message, but there’s certainly room for improvement with the music and disjointed scenes.  Go see Rivers of Light for the beautifully illuminated floats and projection effects.  Don’t expect catchy tunes or a soundtrack you’d like to purchase.

Since Megan hasn’t seen Rivers of Light yet, we’ve got FastPasses for the last week in June.  Maybe seeing it for a second time will give me a better appreciation for the music and overall message…we’ll see.

Have you seen Rivers of Light?  What did you think?  If there were children in your party, was it a hit with them?

Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Stop for Gorilla Falls Aviary!

My enthusiasm for all things Animal Kingdom knows no bounds, but I have a confession to make:  I tend to rush through the aviaries at the end of Maharajah Jungle Trek and Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail.  I get excited about seeing all the animals and then when I get to the aviary, I start thinking right away about what I want to do next or when our next FastPass will be.  Birds-shmirds, right?  They’re basically all the same and can be…well…boring, no?  They can also drop “bombs” on unsuspecting passersby and who wants that vacation memory?  Recently though, I decided to try something new.  At the end of the Gorilla Falls trail, when we reached the birds, I took a different attitude.  Here’s what happened…

Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Stop for Gorilla Falls Aviary!

We were actually almost to the exit when I started watching this little yellow bird search for something that turned out to be a small red leaf.  It took the leaf, flew to it’s nest and, except for its tail sticking out, disappeared inside the nest.  For a while.  I could see it was busy trying to place the leaf, I suppose, so I waited to see what it would do next.  The little bird popped back out and still had the leaf in its beak!  Which it promptly spit out…leaf rejected!  What the heck kind of bird was this picky thing with the cool looking basket-like nest?

Heaving a pretty big sigh at myself, I quietly called to Raymond and Joseph to wait a minute, I’d be right back.  I knew from doing the Wilderness Explorers adventure there would be a bird spotting guide back by the entrance, so I wove back through the crowd, against traffic, and snagged one.  As I walked back to the guys, I started paying much more attention to the birds.  There are a lot of birds.  Different shapes, sizes and colors  – up above and down below.  If you’ve got a fear of birds (Ornithophobia), you’ll maybe want to skip this area.

The spotting guide’s a must.  The picky little yellow bird?  Taveta Golden Weaver!

Raymond and Joseph, familiar with my ways, waited patiently as I took my first extended tour of the aviary.  I learned some stuff.  The birds seem really happy.  If you’ve been skipping out on this, you should give it a try next time you’re there.

Have you spent time in Animal Kingdom’s aviaries?  Which do you prefer, the one on Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail or on Maharajah Jungle Trek?

 

runDisney – Star Wars Dark Side Half 2017

“When you said challenge, I thought you meant running the two races.  I didn’t know the actual challenge was lack of sleep.” – Joseph Green in the starting corral for the Star Wars Half, 2017

runDisney – Star Wars Dark Side Half 2017

3:15 am.  Mickey Mouse called and said it was time to start the day just as the alarm on my phone (across the room) started to play its tune.  Is there an adjective to describe more-than-exhausted-less-than-dead?  Whatever that word is, Joseph and I were it.  We got ready in silence except for the few moments of panic when we couldn’t find Joseph’s race bib.  Crisis averted, we practically chugged our coffee as we made our last-minute preparations.  Matching shirts on, Cliff Bars and PowerAde in hand, playlists ready, we were out the door and headed to the bus stop once again by 3:50.  We could have actually walked to the starting area from our resort, but…seriously?  No.

We’d been the recipients of a little extra Disney magic the previous afternoon and had a surprise waiting for us in our room.  Fuel for our fight against the resistance!  Well, being secret rebels, we could not be swayed from our mission by PowerAde and granola bars, but we did appreciate the gesture and that PowerAde came in handy on race morning.

The bus was waiting for us once again and this time it was so crowded that by the time we picked up runners from Shades of Green, the aisle was packed and every seat was full for the short trip to the starting area.  For a few moments there on the dark bus I was asking myself exactly how I though I was going to be able to run 13.1 miles with zero energy, but then we arrived and I put on a happy face determined to use the fake-it-til-you-make-it philosophy.

We met up with Dave and Anne at the same spot as the previous morning – all of us a bit less cheerful and we forgot to pose for any pictures together.  Joseph was assigned to corral B and I to corral C for this race, but he moved back to start with me and we settled in to wait our turn to go.

The course this time would take us first to Animal Kingdom, then to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and finally through Epcot to the finish line.  Like the day before, the first few miles alternated between pitch black and flood lights except as an added feature for the half, there were “lasers”.  Moving colored lights that, when they hit you, were instantly and completely blinding.  Luckily, we made our way without serious incident and started to notice signs we were nearing Animal Kingdom.

We entered the park near Kali River Rapids and made our way uphill towards Expedition Everest, passing monkeys and cheerful Cast Members as we went.  We barely had time to stop for a few quick selfies before we passed up DinoLand USA and were out on the road again.  At mile 8, volunteers were offering GU packets and, being a little picky about what I eat while running, I grabbed water and passed on the GU…I should not have done that.

Around mile 10 we arrived at the Studios and took the same route in and out, but there were more characters to see than there were for the 10K.  The Storm Troopers had a short line, so we waited for a picture with them.  One said, “Greeting Citizens”, we posed for the picture, and the other one said, “Move along”.  So we did.  Once again taking the walkway along the water towards the Boardwalk.

We got to run around the entire Boardwalk and that’s extra fun because quite a few people show up to cheer for runners and many of those fans hold funny signs.  Looking at the signs was how I spotted Tim and Bob from The Resort Loop Podcast and I was SO excited to see them, I stopped to speak to them and introduce Joseph, but forgot to take a picture.  Their show is great, you should give it a listen.

Before long, we were headed up the bridge to Epcot. This slight uphill felt monumental!  I was paying the price for not getting some carbs back on mile 8.  We’d taken a couple of short walk breaks between miles 9 and 10 and I knew we only had about a mile to go, but I needed just a minute of rest.  Joseph looked sad and I told him with a joking tone that while I knew I was a disappointment to him, I had 30 years on him and I was out of gas.  The very nice young lady running in front of me, having heard what I said, spun around and insisted, “You’re doing GREAT!”.  Then she reached into her pocket and handed me a “salted watermelon” flavored GU…which was the most delicious thing in the world to me at that exact moment.  I am still so grateful to this perfect stranger!  Like spinach for Popeye, that GU gave me a burst of energy and we immediately ran right on to the finish line.  Here’s a picture of us after I felt better:

For as tired as we were and as bad as we’d felt waiting for the race to start, we had an amazing time.  We also felt pretty great when we finished.  Overall, it was everything we’d hoped for (except enough sleep!).  We found Raymond and the three of us were enjoying cold recovery beverages (beer) and munching on some snacks when Anne and Dave joined us and we had fun comparing our experiences.  The weather was beautiful and we had the whole day ahead to enjoy being at Walt Disney World.

If I could change anything, we’d have gone to sleep earlier and I would have fueled better during the half.  I must add emphatically that having someone to run with increased my enjoyment of these events immensely!  Thank you, Joe!!!  I love you.

Here are the stats:

Finish Time:  2:35:28

Overall Place (We crossed the finish line exactly at the same time, but clocked 2 places different!)

  • Lisa: 5,196/16,311
  • Joseph: 5,194/16,311

Gender Place

  • Lisa:  1,965/8,800
  • Joseph:  3,231/7,511

Age Group Place

  • Lisa:  93/522
  • Joseph:  173/359