Then And Now – Part 2

Walt Disney World – Then And Now

Walt Disney has said that ‘Disneyland will never be complete’ as it is constantly going to evolve. This is the same as Walt Disney World. Since it opened, Walt Disney World has opened and closed several different attractions and shows. Some have progressed to being classics in their own time, while others have crashed and burnt into obscurity.

Everyone has their own opinion on the closing of attractions, from the departure of Mr Toad’s Wild Ride, to the scandalous re-theming of Alien Encounter. However, Disney was never one to listen to their customers and would push on with their decisions regardless of how unpopular these may have been.

The filling in of the lagoon, where the submarines of the 10,000 Leagues Under The Sea attraction was located, was an unpopular decision that Disney progressed with. This was a great attraction, which took a pretty obscure film and thrust it into the middle of the Magic Kingdom. The submarines took you into the depths of the waters where you looked out of the portholes into the open ocean and where you could view the bright coloured sea-creatures. As everything was going great you all of a sudden were attacked by a giant squid, which put the whole vessel into distress. New regulations from the US Government for access to disabled and wheelchair guests were passed, and this made this attraction unviable and would have been more hassle than it was worth to change the boats and access ramps to let this ride carry-on. Nevertheless, the filling in of the land and it changing to a play area based around Winnie The Pooh was just a cop-out. I can understand that Disney may have been looking at the bigger picture and was putting the plans for New Fantasy Land in place, but this attraction was unbelievably good and I have very fond memories. I for one was glad that I was able to ride this before it was removed.

Probably the biggest area that has been re-themed has been the strip between the hub in the Magic Kingdom heading towards Tomorrowland. Attractions such as The Timekeeper and The Extra TERRORestrial – Alien Encounter have been stripped and replaced by somewhat tamer attractions such as Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor and Stitch’s Great escape. Again, this has been fitted into this land in order that popular characters are prominently placed in the Park. Calls for Stitch to be re-themed again has been widely discussed within the Disney community (one of which I totally agree with). Recent rumours are bound that Stitch shall be re-themed again to have a Virtual Reality ride featuring Wreck It Ralph, which shall tie into the release of the sequel feature film in March 2018.

If you think that the previous replacements were being crammed into the parks – the two biggest franchises of the last decade are about to come ‘over the hill’:

• Although there has been a presence of Star Wars in the Studios, with Star Tours and the Jedi Academy, tied in with the hugely successful Star Wars Weekends, the emergence of Star Wars Land shall shake the whole theme park community, much the same way that Universal Studios have done with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Star Wars Land has taken over a huge chunk of land at the Studios and has taken the whole area previously tenanted by Lights Motors Action. Lights Motors Action, was a crowd puller and took a large amount of people out of the park, letting the other attractions become less congested. But, while the new land is being built, the guests that would have been eaten up by this attraction would be spread throughout the rest of the Park. This may be an issue due to the depleted number of attractions currently running at Hollywood Studios.

• With the huge success of the James Cameron film ‘Avatar’ in 2009, the decision to put ‘Pandora’ into The Animal Kingdom Park may have again been a knee-jerk reaction to the Harry Potter phenomenon. Although this may bring further guests into the Park and elongate the hours of opening, would this ever had been considered knowing that George Lucas was selling the rights to Star Wars only a couple of years later?

As the Parks are constantly evolving there shall always be guests who are unhappy at the closure of classic (or not so classic) attractions, but on the other side, there shall be guests who are excited about newer rides and shows coming.

I for one am glad in the whole of newer attractions coming to the Parks, but only if these are of a higher standard of attraction than the one that was replaced. Disney have been guilt of this not following through on this concept, which they must be addressed especially with the competition coming from down I4 from Universal.

Twitter: @sjmdisney

Facebook: Steven James Maxwell

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