Saturday, August 16, 2008

Things I Hate: Should "Great" really be in the title?

So, since I'm such a filthy cynic, I've decided I want a new feature on this blog: Things I Hate. This little number is a totally honest observation about something either well-loved (i.e. "The Country Bear Jamboree" needs to fucking be refurbished), or something that everyone has a complaint about (seriously, what the fuck is Chester and Hester's Din-O-Rama even about?). That said, this week's complaint goes to:

Balls to the people who came up with the concept for this ride. A bit of history: "The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter" was an amazing attraction housed in the Interplanetary Convention Center in Tomorrowland. The plot? You're witnessing a demonstration of spectacular new technology from an ambitious - and sinister - intergalactic conglomerate. In the demonstration of X-S Tech's new Teletransportation device, you are greeted by what you believe is the company's chairman. Unbeknownst to you, Murphy's Law (every Imagineer's best friend) has intervened, and a hungry, clawed, winged, pissed-off motherfucker of an alien has been beamed down, right in front of your sweating faces. Before you can say "Spinlock", the alien has torn its way through the teleporter tube, an X-S Maintenance worker, and the power cords, all while it touches and snarls at you in a darkness only outer space can match. Just as you think you're lunch, one of X-S's scientists finds a way to lure the alien back and blow it the fuck up into satisfying chunks, to the relief of everyone in the tiny theatre-in-the-round.
Sound exciting?
Fucking right, it is! It was exciting, dark, a tad funny, suspenseful, and (most of all) terrifying. And the best thing? It was in the Magic Kingdom. The theme park where kids can ride Dumbo, fly with Peter Pan, shake hands with Mickey Mouse, and see a bunch of malfunctioning robo-bears guffaw their way through a blugrass extravaganza had a show where the blood of an innocent maintenance worker is poured on you while his screams are heard up above. It was the perfect escape from all the cutesy shit parents (or grown-ass folks looking for a good time) were surrounded by on all fronts. Unfortunately, the powers that be at WDI felt this attraction was too much. Walt wouldn't approve. It was terrifying to kids and even some adults. Never mind "It's Tough to Be A Bug"--that has synergy. We can gas children with fog while black widows and hornets attack them mercilessly, but they're surrounded by familiar characters.

There are no familiar characters in "Alien Encounter". So let's fix it. Let's create a show that seems more kid-oriented because of synergy, but is in essence the same fucking show.
What I'm saying here is, the huge change at "Alien Encounter" was NOT because of the content of the show. There are plenty of scary shows in Disney World. No, the changes occured were because right now, Disney is trying to Disney-fy all of the attractions there that are totally original. "The Living Seas" became "The Seas with Nemo and Friends". "El Rio de Tiempo" became "El Gran Fiesta Tour - Starring the Three Caballeros". Hell, even "it's a small world" is about to have it's artistic balls cut off in order to add an assload of Disney characters (as well as a "Hooray for America" sequence, but more on that later). Before we know it, "Journey Into Your Imagination" will remove Figment and toss in the Genie from Aladdin. "The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror" will replace the "Twilight Zone" atmosphere and shift to a "Suite Life of Zack and Cody" theme. Why not? It's cheaper than having to pay CBS all the time, and there's synergy galore!
However, Disney couldn't give "synergy" as a reason for changing a beloved attraction. The people won't understand, and the ones that do will be insulted. So they did something more insulting: they blamed the renovation on the content of the show. It had nothing to do with that! The show has all the terrifying effects "AE" did. Sure, there were no gross gags, like Maintenance One's death. But in place of that, a grosser gag: The little shit burps chili dog IN YOUR FACE. You're still in the same motion-restricting harnesses in the same darkness in the same theatre. The only thing that's changed is the plot (you're a security guard?) and the preshow (the once amazing character S.I.R. is now a bumbling, unfunny, annoying security chief robot whose name ends with the digits "90210" and - when he gets scared - takes a cue from "Finding Nemo" and claims "I think I just oiled myself." Har har har.). This show takes a concept that was great - scaring you using literally every sense you have - and dumbed it down so much it's reminiscent of an old "Family Guy" joke about Christina Aguilera: "You're an insult to every one of my senses. Even taste."
Disney did not want to have guests scared by an outsider, so they hired a cheap familiar entity to do it. They wrote this overnight, threw the show together - complete with poor animation and a finale that makes the whole show so pointless, it's like a spit in the face for spending the last 15 minutes there - and are reaping the benefits. Where an amazing show with the creativity and genius Disney lovers have come to expect once stood, there is now a piece-of-shit excuse for a merchandising opportunity. God knows you can sell more plush toys of Stitch than Skippy.
*Sigh*...when will Disney learn the theme parks are not mere extensions of fads the company holds rights to, but entertainment mediums of their own? They're beginning to remind me of another company...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

"Toon Disney" to become "Disney XD"; my life officially in shambles

I've been reading a lot of reports on teh internets about the upcoming demise of everyone's favorite crippled horse, Toon Disney.

See, for those of you who are unaware, Toon Disney was once a haven for those of us who absolutely hate the fucking garbage Disney channel has been airing. This was before "Hannah Montana", folks. This was around when shows like "Lizzie Mcguire" began generating steam as tween favorites. I remember a time in my childhood when (this was before we could get the channel in our house) Toon Disney was essentially the best thing about hotels in Disney World. Fuck atmosphere! I wanted "Gargoyles"! There was nothing like coming back to the hotel room after a long day at Magic Kingdom and watching "Bonkers" or "Marsupilami". Re-living the amazing cartoons of the past, before ADD-infused skullfuckery like "Jake Long: American Dragon" was born. So, imagine my dismay when, after a few months of finally getting the channel, a little monster named "Jetix" decided to move in with Toon Disney. This was not a mutual agreement. Toon Disney HATED Jetix, because Jetix was slowly stealing all of Toon Disney's precious on-air time. They were forced to live together, though, so Jetix made Toon Disney his bitch.

TD: "Jetix, what the fuck, 'Power Rangers' is NOT a cartoon! And what the hell is 'Super Monkey Robot Team Hyperforce Go!'?"
Jetix: "Shut up! Just for that, I start at FIVE P.M. NOW!"

Basically, while the Disney Channel was losing it's male boy demographic in favor of talentless teenyboppers like "Hannah Montana" or The Jonas Brothers or the "High School Musical" kids, Toon Disney was slowly getting more of this demographic. Disney saw that boys, when faced between watching "The Wizards of Waverly Place" or "Jackie Chan Adventures", opted to watch the latter. So, instead of just making The Disney Channel have a "Jetix" lineup every evening, the company decided to eliminate it altogether.
So, Toon Disney is safe now, right?
Toon Disney, which has been slowly fazed out over the last few years, is disappearing completely. It went from a veritable Fort Knox of brilliant cartoon nostalgia to a network that had to pick the best (read: most chronologically relevant - *coughcoughBuzzLightyearcough*) programs to show in the mornings so Jetix can spoon-feed our children with zany, cheaply made bastard cartoons like "Ying Yang Yo!"

So what's becoming of the network? Why, it's being revamped, of course! To none other than "Disney XD". What's "Disney XD"? Glad you asked! Disney realized that instead of having essentially one-half of a network devoted to boys while their flagship network is so popular with the princess crowd, why not balance things out? Let's make the channel 24-hour Jetix, but without the Jetix name (it needs to have that Disney ensignia somewhere!). How about something....extreme? Yeah, with an X! Xtreme Disney...XD! Sweet Jesus, the guy who worked on that project must have gotten a nice raise (I'm really assuming it stands for "Xtreme Disney", because what else does it mean? Is it a laughing emoticon?). So, fuck you, Toon Disney! No more "Darkwing Duck" for the kids, because now they're getting..."Aaron Stone"!

"Aaron Stone" is a brand-new comedy/drama show that will be the major deal for the network. What's the plot? Basically, this teenage guy is a spy in his spare time, but has to hide that while keeping a normal life.
I want everyone to stop and take a lonnnnng breath.
Now picture the fact that Disney is making money off of - essentially - taking a dump. "Aaron Stone" is just a male rehash of a popular show (guess!) and, needless to say, has already been done. Why not just call it "Jim Possible"? Or "The Famous Jett Jackson: Now in Caucasio-vision!"? See, Disney is, unfortunately, going to make a shitload of money off of this channel. Which is sad, because it certainly means that our old friend, Toon Disney, is going away for a long time, and may not come back.

There's always DVD...

Friday, August 8, 2008

My last day here...

So, today is my last day in the Walt Disney World area; I've been here maybe a week now. Let me say this: a week is FAR too long for me to be here anymore. I've come here maybe 17 times in my life total, and I have to admit, aside from a few attractions (PhilharMagic), I've found myself getting really tired of the same old things. Now, it's not to say the shows aren't good. I love Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, and I feel like it's one of the best shows EPCOT has to offer. However, I can't see this show once a year. I find myself enjoying the gags less and less, and as I figure out how things work, they fail even further to impress.
Let me say this: I'm a huge on WDW nostalgia. If I could rip up the "Leave A Legacy" monuments, or pull that eyesore of an "icon" the Sorceror's Hat is in MGM Studios, I would. I am quite vehemently opposed to major changes in the parks, and like them the way they are (mostly). That said, my views of boredom in the parks may seem a tad...hypocritical. But don't think that. I'm merely saying that I myself plan on taking at least 3 years away from the resort, and hopefully when I return, there will be some things added. This is where talks of hypocrisy step in.
"Wait a minute," you say, "For someone who loves the 'old' Disney World so much, you want more added?" Yes. See, while I am opposed to bastardizing classic elements of Disney World (like "The Seas with Nemo and Friends", which I'll cover later), I am not opposed to removing some of the lower-caliber attractions for something good.
Example? Why not.
MGM Studios (which you'll notice I do NOT refer to as "Hollywood Studios" around here, I'm too used to its former name) removed a relatively popular show - "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire - Play It!" - in order to make room for one of the best attractions the park has to offer: "Toy Story Midway Mania".

Now, at first, I was unsure if this was a good choice. However, I rode this bitch THREE times, and found that each ride was well worth the ridiculous wait times. On the other hand, for every "Midway Mania", there's a "Stitch's Great Escape" - a useless merchandising ploy that took the place of an amazing, original concept.
Nevertheless, I've found myself getting bored with the thousandth ride of "Mission: SPACE", so I'm hoping that if I come back in a few years, I'll be as entertained by everything as much I was entertained by the newer stuff.