Disney World History – Out With the Old

RM-Mickey's-PhilharMagicI am so pleased to welcome back Andrew Carrieri as a guest today!  Andrew is passionate about history and can always be counted on to offer up some awesome tidbits of Disney history for our enjoyment.  I want to hear from you!  What do you think when Disney replaces a ride or attraction with the latest and most popular movie or character?  What attractions are at Walt Disney World now that you’d like to see replaced with a newer theme? (Andrew can be found as a contributing writer at The Mouse For Less and on Twitter @AndrewCfran)

Disney World History – Out With the Old

Throughout the history of Walt Disney World, numerous attractions have been shuttered and replaced by attractions that are more connected to current happenings. For example, in 1994, Disney replaced “Magic Journeys,” a 3D show in Fantasyland, with a stage show called “The Legend of The Lion King.” This show, a retelling of The Lion King, which was at the time Disney’s new hit movie, entertained guests until 2002, when it closed to be converted to “Mickey’s PhilharMagic.”

Below, I will discuss three other instances where Disney changed attractions based on current trends.

1) “Stitch’s Great Escape” replaces “ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter” (2004): Despite being the centerpiece of the 1995 Tomorrowland overhaul, “Alien Encounter,” a theater-in-the-round show, never caught on because many guests deemed it too scary, especially considering its location in the Magic Kingdom.RM-Stitch's-Great-Escape

“Alien Encounter” closed in late 2003 and was replaced by “Stitch’s Great Escape,” another theater-in-the-round show, which features the alien from Disney’s 2002 film Lilo and Stitch. The attraction’s Stitch animatronic is arguably the best animatronic ever created by Disney, but “Stitch’s Great Escape” has received consistently bad reviews since its debut. People say it stinks, and I would agree with this assessment because Stitch’s chili dog burp doesn’t smell that great. Still, I thought the show was funny and an upgrade over “Alien Encounter,” which I ironically found extremely boring the one time I experienced it; I didn’t get the hype. To each their own.

2) “Captain EO” replaces “Honey I Shrunk the Audience” (2010): What goes around comes around. Following Michael Jackson’s 2009 death, Disney brought “Captain EO,” the 3D show starring Jackson, back to its old stomping grounds at Epcot’s Magic Eye Theater, replacing the long-running “Honey I Shrunk the Audience.” Ironically, “Honey I Shrunk the Audience” had replaced “Captain EO” in 1994 following the latter show’s original eight-year run at the Magic Eye Theater.

“Honey I Shrunk the Audience” had aged, and “Captain EO” was a nice throwback for a tribute, but I think it has remained too long and should be replaced by a new attraction. On a side note, 2016 will mark Captain EO’s thirtieth birthday!Malestrom / Norway Pavilion / World Showcase

3) Frozen Attraction to replace “Maelstrom” (Scheduled for 2016): Frozen has seemingly been the biggest thing since sliced bread over the past two years, so in 2014, Disney closed “Maelstrom,” a boat ride at Epcot’s Norway Pavilion since 1988, to construct an attraction based on Frozen.Princess-Half-Mile-6-Sign

“Maelstrom” had a cult following, but it was far from a headliner or even a classic attraction that Walt Disney himself developed, such as “The Carousel of Progress.” The opposition to the change, therefore, seems to be based more on the idea that Epcot’s World Showcase should feature authentic content about the various countries, not attractions based on fantasy.

I am ambivalent to the change, but I think a Frozen attraction would be a better fit for the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland, which I think could use more dark rides to compete with the vast array of these attractions present in its Disneyland counterpart.

Disney’s Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post

RM-Wandering-Oaken's-SignI know I’ve complained occasionally about the whole Frozen-ization of Walt Disney World.  Not everything is bad, though, or unnecessary.  One new Frozen-themed addition in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is nothing short of brilliant.  Of course adding a shop based on Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post from the movie was an obvious and easy choice, but even I have to admit…for something that seemingly came together in a hurry, Oaken’s shop is very well done, the details are adorable, and the selection of Frozen merchandise is very welcome indeed.RM-Wandering-Oaken's-Sleigh-Parking

Back in May, we could barely find anything Frozen to buy!  We chased rumors and ran around from shop to shop in every park where we thought we might score pins or a sweatshirt.  Finally, we ended up with two Olaf pins (the only Frozen pins we could find) and an extra-large child’s hoodie for Megan.  I was excited to wander into Wandering Oaken’s and will freely admit, I was charmed.Disney's Frozen - Olaf Pin

Before you enter the store, the exterior details make you feel as if you are definitely in Norway!  The snowy trees and landscape are fun!RM-Wandering-Oaken's-Exterior RM-Wandering-Oaken's-Snowy-Trees2 RM-Wandering-Oaken's-Snowy-TreesInside, Oaken’s is much more than a place to shop!  A blue-lit winter wonderland, compete with snowy play area (“Frozen Snowground”), take up a great deal of space at one end of the building.RM-Wandering-Oaken's-Snowy-Trees-With-Lights RM-Wandering-Oaken's-Snow2 RM-Wandering-Oaken's-SnowThere are plenty of excellent photo ops and a Disney photographer is on hand.RM-Wandering-Oaken's-Interior-Wall  STUDIO_FROZENFUN1_7068714183As you move from the play area to the store, the lighting changes and you’ll begin to notice more great details.RM-Wandering-Oaken's-Shop RM-Wandering-Oaken's-Merchandise    RM-Wandering-Oaken's-ShelvesThere is plenty of Frozen merchandise here!  I may or may not have purchased a few early Christmas gifts while I was there.RM-Wandering-Oaken's-Olafs RM-Wandering-Oaken's-SvensMostly, we just wandered around and enjoyed the immersion in those amazing Disney details.  The sauna absolutely cracked me up!!!RM-Wandering-Oaken's-Sauna RM-Wandering-Oaken's-Decor RM-Wandering-Oaken's-ToolsOaken’s is not far from Toy Story Midway Mania, so if you’re headed over to Pixar Place, don’t miss the opportunity to pop in an take a look around.  On a hot day, it’s a great place to cool off!

Have you been to Oaken’s Trading Post?  What did you think?

Walt Disney’s World Showcase – The Maelstrom Matter

Mural in Maelstrom / World Showcase / EpcotYesterday I wrote about why Walt Disney World must change.  I discussed the need for change in a broad, general scope.  Today, I feel the need to weigh in on the Maelstrom Matter.

I don’t feel the outrage I thought I would.  Initially, when the rumors were just a whisper, I was heard to say, “And so begins the utter ruination of the World Showcase.” but then I took some time to consider.  Does this really mean World Showcase is doomed?  It could certainly be the beginning of the end for the initial purpose of the World Showcase.  Conversely, it could be the start of a new era for Epcot.  Time will tell.

Before I go much further, let me add that I am what I would classify as extremely neutralEpcot's Norway Pavilion about Maelstrom at this particular moment in time – I am in no way going to attempt to sway your opinion about this issue one way or another.  It’s the duty of every Disney devotee to feel passionately about their most valued Walt Disney World parks, rides and attractions.  Maelstrom is, soon to be was, a ride I rode and enjoyed on nearly every visit to Walt Disney World.  I sincerely and deeply love the Norway pavilion (I professed my affection here and here).  At the same time, I also have wished for many years now that Disney (or Norway) would pour some much needed resources into updating this special little corner of the World (Showcase).  Alas (oh, yes, I did), beggars can’t be choosers.  Be careful what you wish for?

Buildings in Epcot's Norway PavilionSo, now we’re getting a major change.  While I liked the movie and found it entertaining, I’m not a huge Frozen fan (gasp!).  Here’s what I believe will be the best case scenario and what I’m strongly hoping for at this point –  Norway will continue to be all about Norway.  Frozen‘s characters will be integrated in a way that is strictly in keeping with the traditions, vision, and values of the original World Showcase concept.  It would be ideal if Hans-Kristoff-Anna-Sven (the movie’s nod to Hans Christian Anderson) and the other characters would guide guests through the history, folklore, culture, and customs of Norway.  Hey, a girl’s gotta have hopes, right?

I know what you’re thinking. This thing could go the other way completely – and you’d have a very valid point!  Disney could go all “Little Mermaid” on it and replace Maelstrom with nothing Norway Pavilion's Viking Statuebut a series of movie scenes, some big, in-your-face animatronics, music, and some colorful props.  The World Showcase will be packed with children and their parents willing to wait five hours for a trip through Arendelle.  Norway, the country, will be completely lost in the melee.  I know!

Naysayers will say nay.  Little Mary Sunshine types (like me, in this case) will hold on to our belief that the Disney Company will do the right thing for everyone and amaze us with a new and improved Norway Pavilion.  Only time will tell.  Come 2016, we shall see.  I will be there, with an open mind.  I’ll be visiting the actual country of Norway on Disney Cruise Line in June (2015) and I’m pretty sure the experience will only make me wish for a happy ending all the more.

I’ll leave you with this:  “I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained” – Walt Disney

Troll Topiary in Epcot's Norway PavilionWhat about you?  How do you feel about the matter of Maelstrom? 








I Don’t Hate Disney’s Frozen – Really!

Snow White at Walt Disney WorldIt all started back in June when I wrote this blog post about how burned up I was over Snow White and Aurora getting kicked out of Princess Fairytale Hall – evicted to make room for Frozen’s Anna and Elsa.  Then I got busted by one of the hosts of the WDW NE Podcast (a podcast I happen to love and listen to regularly) tweeting about the Frozen takeover a few weeks back – I’d mentioned in a tweet that I had 10 ideas for how Walt Disney World could have incorporated Frozen into the World without pushing classic princesses out into the street.  So Paulie (@YoPaulieNJ) asked me to provide him with said 10 ideas for his perusal.

Next thing I know, in Episode 11 of the WDW NE Podcast, all four hosts (Mike, Sal, Dean, and Paulie) were debating the merits of each one of those 10 ideas.  (Be sure to listen to this show!!!)  Much strong language and hilarious discussion ensued.  As a result of all this – pretty much created by my own actions then carried on a wave of social media – I may have developed a teeny bit of a reputation for not liking Frozen as much as most other folks.

I’d like to dispel that rumor once and for all.  I do like Frozen (the movie) very much!  I can belt Festival of Fantasy Parade Frozenout every word of Let it Go to the car stereo as enthusiastically as the next person (even if my ability to actually hit those high notes is questionable).  I think Olaf and Sven are adorable side-kicks and Anna and Kristoff do indeed make the most darling couple!  I loathe Hans to the appropriate extent for being so mean and villainous.  Shoot!  I’m even taking a Disney cruise through the fjords of Norway next June knowing it will be full to the brim with Frozen tie-ins, merchandise, and superfans.  Yes, I do own the DVD and have enjoyed watching it on several occassions.  See?  I’m good, right?

I’m glad we could clear up that little misunderstanding.  While you’re here, I’d like to also share with you five very important life lessons I believe can be learned from Frozen and its beloved characters.  Here goes:

1.  If you accidentally injure your sibling while playing, you should be separated from that sibling for the foreseeable future…for everyone’s protection.  Does this only count in cases of magical power gone awry?  Because that one time when Megan dropped her baby brother headfirst onto the stacking donut toy did not result in any type of forced separation.  Does that make us bad parents?

2. If you’re orphaned at a young age and raised by the domestic help, you do not develop the ability to recognize unscrupulous men who want a relationship with you purely to steal your Disney's Frozen - Olaf Pinkingdom.  Good to know.

3. If you, as a young adult, go off to find yourself, it’s perfectly fine to have created a really great sidekick and then forget about/ignore them completely.  Seriously, I was a tad traumatized by Olaf being left out there on his own (nose-less, I might add) for an undisclosed amount of time.  I think there should be laws against that.  Is no one else bothered by this at all?!!?!?!?  I suppose the fact that he’s the most loving, selfless character in the movie means there was no harm caused by Elsa’s seemingly callous behavior.  But do we really know for sure?

4. Parents who discourage unique talents in their children by forcing them to hide their gifts cause a LOT of problems!  Especially if those parents go off and die instead of finding a magical tutor (a member of the Troll community perhaps?) to help the gifted child grow and develop their individuality in a healthy and productive way that does not involve shaming.  Just sayin’.

5. Trolls, maligned in both folklore and mainstream media, are actually very loving, nurturing, and caring creatures who are capable of raising a human child (my, there seem to be a lot of orphans in Scandinavia, no?) into a pretty decent adult…attachments to reindeer notwithstanding.

Don’t forget to listen to the WDW NE Podcast (available in all your favorite podcast-downloading locations).  Especially episode 11…which is pretty darned special, if I do say so myself.

How about YOU?  What were your important takeaways from Frozen?  What lessons did you learn from this delightful tale?