Saturday, December 5, 2009

Just a reminder...

....Today is Walt Disney's birthday. He was born 108 (!) years ago today, December 5th.

Expect a review of Disney's "A Christmas Carol" in the coming days.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Brave New World

Walt walked through the gates of Magic Kingdom, wiping the sweat from his brow on the hot July afternoon. He made sure to take slow steps, taking in every crack and crevice of the concrete he was walking on. He smiled at the thought of people's names inscribed into the ground leading into this, the culmination of his life work, at the heart of which sat an enormous castle - an actual castle, by God - colored blue and white.

He wondered why there were men checking bags.

He walked through the turnstiles and breathed deep. He closed his eyes and, one last time, envisioned the same image he had when he came up with the idea of the Magic Kingdom. He opened his eyes, and laughed to himself. He kept walking at the same speed as before, taking in every minute detail. People were rushing, he noticed. No one noticed the fountain on the left. No one noticed how neatly the shrubs were cut. No one saw the names in the windows! No one even cared to notice the subtle change in theme as they moved from one land to another. Walt was puzzled - not troubled, but a little puzzled. He moved through each land, soaking in every step he took. If he could spend a week in each land, he would. He loved how the Cinderella fountain made men appear to be bowing to her. He loved the look on the faces of the kids as they searched for the ring in the front of the Haunted Mansion. He loved those orange rocks in Tomorrowland. They reminded him of Mars. He didn't know who Stitch was, but he certainly admired the work that went into convincing so many people they were being licked, or breathed on.

He sat on the curb, and watched the parade.

As Walt went into the MGM Studios, he couldn't help but be overcome with a feeling of nostalgia. He always loved the Golden Age of Hollywood, and here it was. The Hollywoodland sign gave him a rush of memories. He loved the dedication here -- the feel of old Hollywood. The camera store; the giant model of Gertie near Echo Lake; the Chinese Theatre in the distance. He didn't prefer the giant Sorcerer Hat blocking the view. "Too much," he thought. He marveled at the sophistication of his animatronics. How the Imagineers had come this far was beyond him. The Wicked Witch of the West, he thought for a moment, was a real actress! It wasn't until a second later that he'd realized the movements of the woman were a purely evolved form of what he helped to create. He stayed until night and watched Fantasmic!. He teared up at the finale, watching everyone cheer and rave for Sorcerer Mickey. 80 years later, and the Mouse is still as popular as ever. He walked under the Crossroads of the World, straddled by Mickey, and still couldn't shake how amazed he was by the show.

The next morning, he headed into Animal Kingdom. He loved the feel of it all - it was wholly reminiscent of his work on True Life Adventures. He stayed for what seemed like an eternity at each area, observing the animals, and observing others' observations. He rode Kali River Rapids, and got soaked, which was nice in the summer Florida heat. He watched the 3d film within the Tree of Life, marveling at how far the technology had come. He wasn't sure about the scariness, though -- some of the kids didn't seem to care for it too much, to say the least. He gazed at the Tree before and after the show, trying to spot each animal carved into it. He peeked around Dinoland, USA, and Camp Minnie Mickey. He rode Kilamanjaro Safari, which was his favorite in the whole park. If he could ride this all day, he would. "An attraction that never stays the same," he said to himself. He thought it perfect. He stayed there until the park closed, then went and thought long and hard.

The next - and final - park to visit was EPCOT. He was intentionally saving it for last. Part of him was worried that what was currently known as EPCOT had drastically deviated from his original vision. After all, without EPCOT, there was no basis for Disney World as a whole. The other part was incredibly excited, and knew that no matter what, his dream was in good hands.

He stood outside the gates, for what could have been ages. And yet, the excitement within him was uncontrollable. Any doubt he'd had about this park instantly vanished when he saw Spaceship Earth. He spent the entire day looking over every inch of Future World alone, and spent the next day at World Showcase. At the end of his time there, he left the park, and walked towards a young man in a blue shirt. He was constantly drying his hands on his pants up until the moment he shook hands with Walt, at which point he asked him how he liked the parks. Walt smiled and said, "Let's have a talk."

He sat in a chair in a well-lit room, across from 30 or so Imagineers, each of them top of their field; the collective conscious of the Imagineering community. "There have been a large number of complaints," they said. "People feel we've been deviating too far."
"Well," Walt began, "you have a lot going for you. This whole resort is amazing. But I can't help but wonder why you all seem to have such low confidence in yourselves."
"The people are split -- they demand improvement, but don't want change," they said. "Everything here is a byproduct of those concerns, and it's getting terribly difficult."
"But change is necessary," said Walt. "The whole concept of these parks is dependent on the notion that evolution is the greatest factor. Without it, this dream is nothing."
"People complain, though, that they want what was there before. How can we evolve if there's only monotony?"
"Evolution does not mean 'to restart'. It's simply 'to grow'. It's the same core, but a constantly shifting structure."
"We can't help but feel like there's a different motive," the Imagineers said. "Take Horizons, for example. As outdated as it was, it needed a change. People still complain about it! Do you not think it's somehow rooted in their concern for their childhood? As if a piece of it was removed?"
"Of course it is!" said Walt. "Memories are the key factor in these parks. It's the memories that keep people coming back. You will always have people show concern over returning somewhere, only to find that their fondest recollections have been completely wiped clean."
"There are also those who feel like we sacrifice story for technology."
"In many cases," said Walt, "technology IS the story. Think of Carousel of Progress. But it's true; a good story is never solely comprised of the newest advancements. They need to complement each other."
"But doesn't the technology possess more of a symbiotic relationship with the story? We could easily tell the same story of Star Tours without the ride technology we have in place there."
"Yes, but it isn't about telling the story. It's about immersing the guests. One of the shows in the Studios - The Great Movie Ride - the story could never be told without the concept of immersion. If not the illusion is broken - you're simply watching a movie. The story helps create the world. The technology helps transport them there."
"But is that making people happy? Are they enjoying themselves in these worlds we create? For every person who leaves the parks unhappy, there's another instance where we haven't done our job."
"A lesson I've learned in all my years of working in entertainment is that there's simply no way to please every last person. You will always have to deal with a sole body of criticism at any point, and that's something you can't help. You have to press on, and do what you know is your best work. My second night here, I sat in the Brown Derby and watched a young boy at dinner with who I later found out to be his Aunt. Every time I looked up at the young man, I saw him with a huge smile on his face. He simply was amazed. He was in the middle of this magical world, outside of any troubles of the real world, completely immersed in what you all have created. I approached his table after several minutes, and introduced myself. I met the boy's Aunt, and shook his hand, thanking him for making my day.
"That boy will have nothing but fond memories for that trip for the rest of his life, and you all helped make those memories for him. If you can help cultivate that happiness, that growth of imagination, in at least one child, then you're on the right track."

Walt stood up to leave, and shook hands with each of the men and women, and left. He himself looked forward to returning in the future, if not to see how this World has changed.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

And thus, I eat my own words

So I was wrong. Wrong! I'm not perfect. However, as of D23, there are a few lights that have been shed on us that have forced me to acknowledge the fact that any speculation I've had in the last month has been wrong.

As most of you know, D23 held a conference concerning the theme parks yesterday, and 2 MAJOR points were brought up (pretty much the only points). There were a ton of rumors that circulated concerning the Expo's conference, and I felt it was necessary to address the BIG one that was popular amongst the rumor-mongers: a Fantasyland expansion. "The size makes no sense," I said. "Where's the money to pay for it?" I thought it was preposterous. So naturally the Expo comes along and kicks me swiftly in the ass.

Yes, there WILL be a complete overhaul of Fantasyland. Hell, "overhaul" doesn't even begin to describe it.













Essentially, Fantasyland will become something more in touch with, well....fantasy. From the press release:

"Guests will soon be able to:

  • Visit their favorite Disney Princess in her castle, cottage, or chateau to share a dance with Cinderella; celebrate Sleeping Beauty's birthday with the Good Fairies; or join Belle in an enchanting story performance in the Beast's castle library.
  • Be Our Guest and dine in one of three enchanted rooms inside the Beast's castle.
  • Fly with Dumbo high above brand new circus grounds, twice the size of the existing attraction with a new interactive, three-ring circus tent.
  • Journey under the sea with Ariel, The Little Mermaid, in her very own attraction - also opening at Disney's California Adventure in Anaheim in 2011.
  • Meet Tinker Bell and her friends in the magical world of Pixie Hollow."

Sounds pretty nifty, even though I probably won't spend a shitload of time there, seeing as to how I'm allergic to children and all. The Dumbo ride itself sounds pretty fucking awesome, though, and the idea of (according to wdwnewstoday.com) a ride that is "completely queue-less with a waiting area set up with bleachers for parents...waiting until their feather is called" sounds like a helluva way to avoid waiting in the heat. Also, the concept art for Ariel's Adventure looks like it will a beautifully-themed ride. All in all, I'm excited for this change to take place, because the Fantasyland area definitely needs some pizazz. As long as Philharmagic stays put, I'll be a happy camper. Again, I don't have kids or anything, so I don't expect to spend a lot of time here, but it most certainly will become the best-themed land in MK once it's all done.

Also, "Star Tours II" was FINALLY announced, after what seemed like years of speculation. I, for one, am somewhat excited about this...somewhat. First, let's take a look at
the teaser.

Now, when rumors began circulating concerning a new Star Tours, most of them were set on the idea of a podracing simulator. However, the last time anyone saw a podrace in one of the films was when Episode I came out, so needless to say those rumors quietly went away. This video, however, brings that idea back into the spotlight, and it makes me a little nervous. What if it is really just a podracing simulator?

Thankfully, I have an optimistic side.

Firstly, most of the news concerning this ride mentions that multiple adventures are to be had, and that the StarSpeeder would still be involved. Also, take a look at this press shot:














What does that look like on the right side? A motherfucking StarSpeeder. It's safe to assume the ride will probably have your shuttle take you to multiple locales, one of which being the middle of a podrace. It serves to explain why you go flying into space at the end of the trailer.

...And that was it. The end. Only those two. Unlike what MJ's website had reported, there is no official plan of bringing Captain EO back right now. It may be in talks, still, but it's all in the air. Also, EPCOT (as usual) got the boot; it seems that EPCOT and Animal Kingdom will be stuck while these other two projects are underway. For now, though, it appears as though the parks will be a little busy for the next two years.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A small update

It's official: Captain EO is coming back to Disneyland. The official MJ website confirms:

http://www.michaeljackson.com/ar/node/200089

It'll be a limited engagement, so nothing to get too worked up about. I personally like the fact that this is happening; with any luck we'll be able to get it in EPCOT too, even if it's just for a season. Also, it'll be interesting to see how this all plays out toward HISTA. It's possible HISTA won't be coming back after EO's run, which could inevitably lead to its demise at EPCOT, as well. I guess we'll see....

Thoughts?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Let's talk about the elephant in the room

So there are rumors that Disney World will be receiving a healthy update over the next five years. an update that will literally transform an area in the Magic Kingdom into something nearly unrecognizable. I'm sure many of you are familiar with these rumors. If not, I'll recap: Disney management is apparently going to stick a shitload of cash into Fantasyland and watch it evolve into a newer, better Fantasyland - as if money were a moonstone. These rumors actually started floating around several years ago, and they've appeared to go full-speed ahead, so I feel like I should share some thoughts. First, let's take a look at what the extensive rehab entails, via WDW News Today:

"Since WDW News Today launched in July 2007, we have reported on rumors that a Little Mermaid dark ride attraction was coming to Fantasyland to replace Pooh’s Playful Spot and Ariel’s Grotto. It is important to keep in mind that this rumor pre-dates any formal announcement that Disney’s California Adventure would be building this long-proposed Disneyland Paris attraction. It seems likely that construction will begin soon in the Magic Kingdom, and the announcement by Disney a few months ago that they were looking for a “one-Disney” experience only bolsters the idea of this voyage “under the sea” taking place on both coasts. If this major addition takes place, it will most likely do more than add a major E-Ticket to the park in late 2011/early 2012, but will also add a large Disney Princess store and meet-and-greet area at the attraction exit (thus allowing the Princesses to leave the perhaps doomed Mickey’s Toontown Fair). This large addition may also force “Dumbo: The Flying Elephant” attraction to move to a new location. If the Little Mermaid dark ride comes to be, we can expect the remainder of the Fantasyland expansion to take place over the 4-5 years following, including: a Mad Tea Party with a new covering reminiscent of Disneyland Paris, the replacement of Snow White’s Scary Adventure with a “Beauty and the Beast” dark ride, and the addition of a Seven Dwarves Mine Train roller-coaster on the land now occupied by the old Fantasyland Skyway building. Also amid the rumored changes for Fantasyland are new facades for most Fantasyland attractions, shedding the “medieval fair” setting, and new visual effects and upgrades being added to both The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan’s Flight.

A competing (perhaps more current) concept follows the floor plans below (found on the Disney Report’s Soft Opening Blog), also adding Princess and Fairy themed areas with minor attractions while removing the entire north side of Mickey’s Toontown Fair. This plan also has Snow White’s Scary Adventure saved by building the Beauty and the Beast dark ride next door to a proposed “Gaston’s” restaurant. This would terminate the castle forecourt theme with a wall leading into the “deep woods” and lands themed to Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Dumbo, and Winnie the Pooh. This plan also includes similar upgrades (mentioned in the first paragraph) to the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, with a new facade matching the look of the Hundred Acre Woods and a new Pooh character meet and greet area across the path. I had not seen this particular version of the plans before this week, but they are quite a bit larger than the plans I had spoken about above, making me skeptical as to how genuine this drawing actually is. We’ll just have to sit back for a little while and wait to see when and where construction walls eventually rise in Fantasyland."

Did you get all that? Good.

First off, let me put this out there: as you may have noticed, I made the word "rumor" in bold throughout this entry. This is because I'm incredibly skeptical that all - if any - of this is going to come to fruition. This is exactly like that Project Gemini shit from 5 years back - the rumored rehab that would change literally every pavilion in the Future World area. The mere mention of "Time Chasers" today sends some into a coma. There is no official word, aside from a blueprint.

fantasyland_plans

So what? This may very well have been fan-made. It's been done before. Which brings me to the first of my reasons to be skeptical about this project: the size makes NO FUCKING SENSE. Is it just me, or does it seem absolutely impossible to fit ALL of this into Fantasyland without fucking destroying parts of every touching land? True, most rumors cite that a chunk of Toontown will be destroyed to make way for the area, but that's not enough space. Someone (brilliantly) took this blueprint and layed it over an aerial shot of Fantasyland. Take a peek (from screamscape.com):













Yes, it COULD work. But this, again, is just a blueprint - and it's not even official! Even if it were, it still doesn't mean that every one of these proposed ideas will meet this sense of scale. The Mermaid attraction may very well end up needing twice the space it was planned for. Likewise, it may end up needing less. It's all up in the air.

Point 2) The money. Does Disney really have the kind of dough to afford this kind of renovation? We know Disney is fucking cheap. They refuse to spend a minimal amount to paint the fucking walls at the Maelstrom. So why spend so much on just one sector of a park? The big reason floating around is Harry Potter....the son of a bitch. Universal Studios Florida is using the Islands of Adventure park to create a space dedicated to "The Wizarding World" of this iconic character. I can't begin to say how smart of a business move this is, considering the popularity of the films (and even the novels, 2 years after book 7) is at a high. Disney is worried. This will surely drive away ticket sales, and send Orlando tourists to the cheaper, newly-updated Universal. But is it a cause for concern? Again, I'm a wee skeptical that Disney would pour money into 1/6th of Magic Kingdom just to combat the possible shift in tourism to Universal for a park roughly the same size as that 1/6th of land. Even so, WWoHP will open in roughly 2010. Groundbreaking began in 2007. Disney hasn't even announced any plans for a plan. Even if they hit the ground running and got at least ONE new attraction running by then, it'd still just be one attraction. Another money-related issue circulating (mainly at the forums at wdwmagic.com) is the threat of Disney shelving plans for other projects in other parks. Will this mean that the Monsters, Inc. Doorway Coaster won't happen? Of course not. Disney built Pixar place with plans for more than just Midway Mania. It's long been known the plans to turn Soundstage 1 into a coaster based on the hit film. It'd be foolish for Disney to shelve this one project alone in favor of the Fantasyland redux, let alone the rest of the planned attractions.

This project would alienate the rest of Magic Kingdom, as well as the rest of WDW for many years. But still, I won't believe anything until I hear an official announcement. It still makes no sense that, in the midst of a very expensive refurb for Space Mountain, and smaller refurbs for other shows (Ed. - Living With the Land? What the fuck? Thanks for telling us, guys...) they would have the money or the time to work on something this big. Maybe we'll get one or two of the planned attractions - The Little Mermaid dark ride has been in the rumor mill for a few years now - but I doubt there's anything to get our panties in a twist.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Long Live the King

As everyone in the entire world knows, Michael Jackson died just over 2 weeks ago. Therefore, I know I'm a little late to the party in remembering him, but later is better than never, and I feel like I need to say something.

Michael Jackson was the zenith in a world of entertainers. It's been said before: "He was simply the greatest entertainer of all time." No other artist inspired a generation is so many ways, but with seemingly so little effort. He was already a juggernaut at age 10, but his performance of "Billie Jean" at Motown 25 is what triggered his evolution into an unstoppable force of nature. He was catapulted into orbit, they say, and never came down.

Some of you may think I'm writing this to lead into a joke about "Captain EO", or the only reason I'm writing this entry is because of the show. It's true, his connection to Disney was strong and unmentionable without speaking of the incredibly popular show. But I don't really think about "EO" all too much when I think of his connection to Disney. Instead, I think of the 23-year old performer in an interview on the set of "Beat It". He discussed his love of Disney at length, and his having a room that replicates a scene from "Pirates of the Caribbean". He was endlessly fascinated with the magic and wonder of the theme parks, films, and characters the company created. I'm not just sad we've lost the perfect entertainer - I'm also sad that we've lost a fellow Disney enthusiast.

The fact that the world will never have another Michael Jackson makes this artist's passing the ultimate instance of not knowing what you have until it's gone. He ws a man of genius, dedication, talent, and purity who gave so much and only asked of so little. His music will live forever, and I know that he, much like Walt, left us too soon.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Let me know!

Before I say anything on this short entry, let me point out a small rumor that's been making the rounds for a few days. According to the boards at wdwmagic.com, Stitch's Supersonic Celebration is set to be closed.

A moment of silence for the greatest fucking rumor to appear in months.

Now, to the point: I'm considering expanding the blog a wee bit, and one of the bigger ideas I'm toying with is podcasting.

So, a query: If a "Project X" podcast were in existence, who all would listen? The response I get will probably have a large impact on whether I choose to do this or not. So let me know.

UPDATE: In response to a comment, I'll clarify a bit: The podcast would have a strict schedule, so don't expect infrequent posts in the vein of this blog. I'll be shooting for a weekly/bi-weekly show.

Monday, May 4, 2009

We meet again, my furry blue friend...

Well, here it is, via WDWNewsToday:



Hm.

Ok, a few things. First of all, Tomorrowland needs to be saved. Like fucking NOW. It's slowly losing what made it Tomorrowland, and the only thing left there that actually represents the area properly is Carousel of Progress. The rest is just Stitch and (the unbelievably misplaced) Monster's Inc. But aside from that, this show is pretty much what I expected. It's devoid of any real story or decently memorable entertainment, and is instead something to keep the 2-year-olds giggling. All the while you, the adult needing something to do until that Buzz Lightyear fastpass is good to go, stands and watches uncomfortably as you feel like someone is threatening your life if you don't dance. You don't - yet you're still really uncomfortable, and pray that fucking projection of Stitch doesn't call you out in front of everyone.

Ahem.

I was unsurprised at the host who overdid it to the point where I hoped he would be evaporated by those fucking robots, and who also came off like a sketchy dude who has a secret second life. There were the aforementioned robots who - again, I'm unsurprised - danced to a song that Disney got to use for barely any money. Finally, there's Stitch. To be completely honest, I chuckled once at a moment a little after two minutes into that video, and that's about it. To be honest, I'm getting really tired of this digital puppetry craze going around the Disney property. The show pretty much revolves around it, and it shows that the technology is still too shaky to use as a centerpiece. Have you seen "MILF"? And no, I'm not talking about your mom...right now. I'm talking about the Laugh Floor show, where most of the digital puppets looks like they're foreign film characters dubbed over. It's a great concept, yes, but it needs to be refined before we're turning the whole park into something along these lines. Speaking of, apparently Disney is planning on doing that. 'Scuse me while I kill myself.

In an article on MiceAge, Al Lutz talked about a new, "next-generation" RFID program to be used in Fantasyland (as a start). The program apparently would require guests to "fill out a survey form prior to their arrival, and then that information would be downloaded onto the RFID tag embedded in their tickets."

Two problems with this: 1) I don't know if many people would do it, especially the amount of people needed to justify this kind of change to the area. 2) Is this just for resort guests? What about people who purchase tickets at the front of the parks? The article mentions the survey as "prior to their arrival", so it must be something only set up for people who have a full vacation plan. Sucks for you, everyone else!**

I don't know. I'm probably reading too far into this. I'm sure they'll iron out whatever shit needs to be ironed out between now and when the ball gets rolling. I'm hoping that never happens, though, because this whole technology, again, is shaky. For anyone who's seen the "E.T. Adventure" at Universal Studios, the program is a little awkward. Sometimes E.T., in his old age, forgets to mention your name. Or he'll switch up the names of your car's passengers with another's. Sure, it's sometimes the ride technician's fault, but it's all in the technology being used. So imagine what can go wrong if Disney unveils a super-advanced version of this tech to use on a shitload of Fantasyland rides. Like digital puppetry, it's a great idea, but we can all presume that Disney will try to rush it into the parks before it's totally (or more than just "pretty") reliable.

I know that's alot of shit to digest, but to put it simply, Disney is yet again riding the gimmick wave. I can already see this failing. Also, aren't most of the rides in Fantasyland cheapish dark rides? Having a wooden Snow White that sways from side to side saying your name and asking how Manchester is doesn't have the same impact as if Figment were to say it.

Which (final point, I promise) makes me wonder: Are they only going to do this in the Magic Kingdom? Because aside from "Imagination!" in EPCOT Center, there are pretty much zero rides with speaking animatronics on them in WDW. Odd, right? Sure, there's "Dinosaur" or "Universe of Energy", but those are dinosaurs. This isn't "We're Back", dinosaurs don't fucking talk. You sure as hell can't have them address you in a 3D show; there are too many people. That just leaves Magic Kingdom, really. Maybe Mr. Potato Head in the line for "Midway Mania", but that's about it. Have they really thought this through?

WHEW.

OK, Andy Rooney-esque rant = done. I'm about to bring this bitch home, but let me wrap up by saying that I am NOT 23. Nor do I plan on being 23 anytime soon. Yes, the website has some occassionally nice articles, but the price to be an official member is almost as outrageous as this membership price. It's a blatant grab for cash in these economic troubling times, and I don't plan on drinking the Kool-Aid. I'm just fine reading my old copies of Disney Magazine, thank you.

**UPDATE: So, upon further review of the MiceAge article, it is pointed out that "
WDI and TDA both see the ballooning population of Annual Passholders (APs) in Southern California as a prime audience for this technology," and "WDI has been scoping out scenes and specific animatronics in some of Anaheim's major E Ticket attractions to mock up concepts where an RFID tag in an Annual Pass would trigger special acknowledgements and plot twists for Passholders." Guess what, this idea FUCKING BLOWS. Plot twists? What? "Oh, guess what! Turns out the entire time, Aerosmith was dead! Thank God for that Annual Pass! Now the whole attraction makes sense!" Who will pay that much for a fucking talking plank that somewhat resembles Pinocchio to say your name and thank you for paying Disney so they could afford to open ANOTHER HORRIBLE RIDE?
Chalk up another money-pissing plan for Disney! Hats off to you, you stupid bastards!

...I need a nap.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Who remembers "Even Stevens"?












Me = going to hell.

Sorry about the lack of posts, all - in the next day or two I'll be back with a complete post, concerning my opinions on D23, some rumors I read about RFID, and some other shit - who knows?

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What the fuck crawled up Jim Hill's ass?

I highly considered just leaving this post as-is, with no text in the body. Just the title, and a link to the article on Jim Hill Media that I read this morning. "Let 'em gather their own opinions!" I said. But I feel like I have to vent some frustration I'm feeling right now.

Fuck Jim Hill.

I've never really been a big fan of Hill, but in the past my reasons have been petty. I hate his writing style (where - if you look at any article he's written - Jim does things like make ridiculously long parenthetical statements. Statements like this one. In which he writes up to an entire paragraph inside of the parentheses, breaking it up with frequent hyphens - like this - and periods to break up his thought. By the time he ends said parenthetical statement, you have no idea what the hell he was talking about before he started it). I hate his almost Rush Limbaugh-esque approach to Disney. He has a very specific viewpoint on every little thing, and God forbid you should try to change his mind. I don't have a problem with his having an opinion (that'd make me a hypocrite), but I wish he would for ONCE look at things from another perspective that isn't the Almighty Jim Hill's.

But those were, again, petty issues that I took up with the site. Until today. I was skimming different Disney news sites when I stumbled upon a new article Hill himself wrote, concerning the recent "small world" refurb in Anaheim. I've already shared my opinion on these changes, but I was curious to see what Hill might have to say.

What resonated through my head while reading the article (which you should read before I continue), was a definitive feeling of "What the fuck."

A play-by-play:

"Last week, I got e-mails from a bunch of West Coast Disneyana fans who were hoping that JHM might champion their cause...As politely as possible, I told those people 'No.'"
-OK, so Jim sets himself up immediately as some sort of God that Disneyana fans come begging to on their hands and knees. "They want me to 'champion' their cause," I can hear Hill thinking, "the foolish peons!" The start of this article is the equivalent of a high school student bragging to his friends to make himself seem cooler. "Stacey totally begged me to go to the dance with her, but I was all, 'No, bitch!'" Great start, Jim!

"I told those people 'No.' Pretty much for the same reason that I didn’t join last year’s 'Save the Rainforest' campaign. Because – to be perfectly honest here – I thought that Disneyland’s 'small world' redo was a pretty stupid thing to get all worked up about."
-Again, Jim sets himself upon a pedestal and spits on the faces of anyone who has asked him for help with a cause. If you went to ask a person of note - whose voice is heard by at LEAST several people - for help organizing a campaign, or a rally, and they said "That's pretty fuckin' stupid," would you put up with that? I, personally, would fucking pulverise them. That's just me, though.

"Mind you, one of the reasons that I feel that way is that I’m lucky enough to know Alice Davis."
-Name Drop!

"That Disney Legend who – along with her husband, Marc, and their good friend Mary Blair – helped to create the original version of 'it's a small world' for the 1964 New York World Fair."
-Name Drop times 2! If you want to seem important, you have to drop the SHIT out of those names. And then condescendingly tell your readers who they are, in case the poor things are clueless.

"Care to guess what her reaction to the revamped ride was?"
-No, Jim! Tell me! I'm DYING to know!

*Alice then makes a pretty valid point about "Young Turks" coming in and changing shit up. Which I don't disagree with. Then, things get weird.*

"Which is why WDI is so lucky to have Kim Irvine. She’s a very talented person. Kim was born with a Disney spoon in her mouth. Her father-in-law was Dick Irvine and her mom was Imagineer Leota Toombs.
Leota was one of the first Imagineers. Kim’s mother was one of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. Toombs was generous and sincere, and she taught Kim to know & respect all the early Disney artists like Mary Blair."
-Even Alice Davis is dropping those names! But the problem is, despite the fact that we all know who Leota Toombs is, that means essentially nothing. You can be raised into a family of atheists and want to be a nun.

"So I take my hat off to Kim. It’s not 'small world' as it was before. But Kim did the best possible job with what she was given, and I’m very proud of her. I can’t think of anyone who would have handled the 'small world' redo project as well as she did. Kim did what she could to keep this attraction as 'small world'-like as possible. She was very clever with how she did that. But instead of appreciating all of that effort, everybody is up in arms."
-
Did Kim Irvine fucking write this herself? First of all, if Alice Davis and Jim Hill are so obsessed with jumping on this attraction's dick, why is Kim Irvine the ONLY person they mention? I'd hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I almost think that they weren't too happy with the prospect of this refurb, and found a positive (in their eyes) element to attract attention to. No mention of Tony Baxter or Joe Rohde, etc. If they're proud of the work that was done on a task that's a horrible idea, why not say that? Why set yourseves up like you're rooting for the little guy? Re-read that quote from Alice Davis. "Kim did the best possible job with what she was given." That should speak volumes.
Ed. - I still fucking hate the job that Kim Irvine did, because those new "dolls" make this ride scarier than "Alien Encounter".

"Kim Irvine did a wonderful job here and the general public needs to understand & appreciate that. Sure, this was a project that was started by a committee. But that committee was smart enough to hand this project off to an artist who actually understood this attraction and really respected the people who originally created 'it’s a small world.' Which is why this redo turned out as well as it did."
-
More Kim Irvine love. If she respected the people that understood this attraction, she would have put her foot down and refused to put Disney characters in this show.

"A lot of people decided before they even rode the revised version of 'it’s a small world' that they were going to hate it. Well, to them I say, 'Get a key and open your minds.'"
-
Hey, Alice? Maybe everyone decided this idea sucked before it opened because it FUCKING DID. And still does. It's funny that you tell us to "open our minds" when you're speaking on behalf of a company that refuses to open any new attraction without some familiar character's face all over it.

"So long story short here: If Alice Davis is okay with the changes that have been made to Disneyland’s newly-character-fortified version of 'it’s a small world,' then I’m okay with them too."
-So you need the fact that someone else agrees with your (still not fully-formed) opinion to openly express it yourself? Hm...I think the word we're looking for in this case is "spineless". Even for Jim Hill's radical-approach-on-Disney ass.

This whole thing still makes me feel like all these old Imagineers popping up and speaking in defense for the show aren't really speaking for themselves. With idiots like Jim Hill prodding them on, that won't change.

So Jim, great job on alienating an entire fanbase with one random opinion to back up your own.

Oh, one last quote from the article:
"And as for those of you who still have your knickers in a twist over this non-issue … I believe that William Shatner – in his somewhat infamous appearance on 'Saturday Night Live' back in December of 1986 – put it best: 'Get a life, willya?'"

Hahahahahaha! Hey, Jim?

FUCK YOU.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Disney announces motion picture based on "Epcot"

In case you missed it, earlier today at ShoWest, Disney announced (albeit quietly) a new motion picture being made for a release next fall. The movie will simply be called "Epcot", and will feature a "group of kids who stumble upon a lost area that encompasses the sea, space, automobiles, plants, the future, and the world."
Disney's press release notes the plot revolving around (as of now uncast) tweens who mysteriously stumble into what seems to be another dimension while on Spring Break with their widowed mother. One scene depicts a tween flying a spaceship to Mars to face off against an evil emperor (Dustin "Screech" Diamond"), and another sees a tween journeying deep into the sea to help find Nemo, in an unprecedented showing of live action actors interacting with Pixar familiars. The press release also notes that part of the climax of the film involves a tween growing a mile tall and using Spaceship Earth as a golf ball to attack the film's lead villain, who is rumored to be played by Eddie Murphy.

Disney also notes that other attractions from WDW will make appearances, although in a somewhat more "familiar" tone. For example, the kids will have to save their mother by going on a hair-raising limo ride, a la "Rock'n'Roller Coaster", though the film will remove any mention of Aerosmith and replace them with Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers. "The Great Movie Ride" will also appear; but instead of journeying across the great cinematic achievements of all time, the kids will be reliving scenes from "High School Musical" and "Camp Rock".

"Epcot - The Movie" is scheduled to appear in theaters in RealD 3D Fall '10.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Things I Love: The "D" in 3D stands for "DAMN!"

So I complain alot.

FUCK YOU.

Sorry, sorry. I just feel so much...love right now. And when that happens, I become frightened, like a baby cobra.

BASTARDS!

See? Anyway, you may be asking why exactly I'm in such a loverly mood, and I'd have to tell you that it's not the fact that I've been doing alot of prescription drugs. I save that for SpectroMagic.
















Totally not true, by the way. ...On Thursdays.

But I realized that I spend so much time criticizing that I never get around to pointing out the shit I like. Thus the inclusion of this feature. Where - today - I'll be talking about my favorite thing in the Magic Kingdom, and one of my top 5 favorites in all of WDW.
"What's that?" you ask.

Mickey's PhilharMAGIC.
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2269/2451865253_a8607d1199.jpg
I absolutely need this show. It's typically the first thing I go to in the Magic Kingdom. I loved it when I first saw it, a little over 5 years ago, and I love it just as much now. Which is rare for an attraction, especially a 3D show.
One of the nicest things about the show is its simplicity. There aren't 15 rooms you have to cross through to get in the main waiting area; just one foyer with some pleasant, funny opera posters - reminiscent of "it's tough to be a bug!" There isn't a huge queue video that tells you what you're doing there. There isn't a queue video at all! It doesn't patronize you, and you know simply from that one line area and a voice-over in the queue that you are, in fact, in an opera house (though, if it were up to me, I'd put a few TVs in the queue area showing some Silly Symphonies - just to keep people occupied).

The show itself is pure genius. The first thing I thought of when I left the theatre the first time I saw it was, "Pure Disney." It's fun, goofy, sweet, endearing, and - most of all - unforgettable. Unlike attractions like "Journey Into Your Imagination", or...well, we all know I'm going to say "Stitch's Great Escape", so nevermind. The show has an amazing score, actually hilarious bits with Donald, and doesn't lose sight of what it is at any point in the show. It leaves me begging for more every time, and a show where - literally every time I've seen it - the audience applauds after the first song (not to mention just about every other scene) has to be doing something right. Some people have complained that the 3D models of Ariel and Aladdin and Jasmine are a bit creepy/Barbie-like, but I very much disagree. They look amazing, nowhere near the artificial creepiness of their "small world" counterparts.

All in all, it's an amazing show, and I hope it stays in the Magic Kingdom forever. Or until the "Stich Teleportation Extravaganza - 3D!" or whatever the next garbage experiment in synergy arrives in full form.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spoodles is gone, son! IT'S GONE!

Everybody party!

According to Screamscape and WDW News Today, Spoodles is leaving the Boardwalk and will be replaced by a place called Kouzzina featuring "Mediterranean-style cuisine".

I love the Boardwalk more than any resort, and I've always felt that Spoodles just didn't belong. It was overpriced, and I personally wasn't a major fan of their offerings. Although, it seems like this new place is going to have more of the same in terms of menu choices. Plus, the chef Disney is teaming with - Cat Cora - is apparently hot shit, as she is the "first and only female Iron Chef on Food Network’s hit show 'Iron Chef America'."

So basically, my excitement is null, since this is basically going to be more or less the same. But, on the other hand, it's not Spoodles!

Boardwalk really needs a solid Mediterranean place, since it fits so perfectly with the atmosphere; however there was something about Spoodles that didn't quite fit. It was lacking a certain "je ne sais quoi". And "Spoodles" is a fucking stupid name. Hopefully, the new chef - who already has a solid history with Disney World - will bring a bit of flair to that area.

Pizza from the Spoodles window for everyone!

Wait. Shit.

Friday, March 13, 2009

On rehabs and refurbishments, Part 3

Hello again!

Sorry for the delay...I got back from a trip to Orlando the other day, and blah blah blah you don't care.

In the last part of my ludicrously over-thought view of rehabs and refurbs, I focused on some of the sweet ones that have filled the Disney skies with a glimmer of sunlight, or what have you.

But it's not all gumdrops and cotton candy.














There was, of course, the much talked about (by me) Primeval Whirl rehab. And the long-discussed recent rehab of "it's a small world", which apparently was vastly improved through the new process of raping its foundations while everyone watches.

A bit extreme, I know. But the rehab was pretty fucking extreme.

Over a year or so ago, reports were going around that Disney was apparently going to put the Disneyland version of "it's a small world" into rehab, with more than a new paint job. An improved soundtrack was in order, with Disney characters added into the scenes and an all new "Hooray for America" sequence being plopped in right where the rainforest scene was.

Pretty much all true.

To the credit of WED, the changes made tried (TRIED being the operative word) to be subtle. There were no goofy looking Disney animatronics breaking down as you floated past.













The "Hooray for America" sequence does TRY to match the style that Mary Blair used to make the attraction so unique.

HOWEVER.

The whole concept of the refurb is all wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. Wrong. Wrong in principle, and wrong in execution. The prime reason of its wrongness is "Why couldn't the damn thing just stay the way it was?" There was nothing wrong with it. It's gone for 4 decades now running the way it is, and people have been consistently charmed by it. Some of you may ask, "Good point, but why not?'"
There are several reasons as to why this shouldn't have happened.
A)The reason I listed above; that it's fine the way it is. As long as Disney doesn't let it become Norway, it's fine.
B)The induction of the Disney characters is just awkward. They don't fit. They do look like they've been infused with Mary Blair's style, but it still looks painfully obvious that Disney just slapped these 30-odd characters into the show. http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3363/3306916735_93670fa0f3.jpg
Tell me that's not the creepiest thing you've ever seen.

C) The America sequence is fucking USELESS. It adds nothing to the show. It actually subtracts, considering WED tore down a rainforest to put up some cowboys and crop farmers. Again, we ask ourselves, "Why? In what way does anyone benefit from this?"
I suppose children will, seeing as how they don't remember the good old days of when original attractions didn't need "plussing" with Disney characters. And thus, Disney makes money, by profiting off of the children's lack of complaint.

Not that this is the first time Disney has been known to use the cluelessness of youth to make a quick buck.
http://adisneyworld.disney.go.com/media/wdw/images2003/languagespecific/eng/nontheme/passholder/KimPossible_300x429.jpg

http://i91.photobucket.com/albums/k320/dianebug/stitch.jpg

Marty Sklar explained to us why this happened, and soothed our nerves. But I still can't help but call bullshit (especially on this letter, it's hard to imagine an Imagineering legend would be so welcoming to such bastardizing changes), and think that if Walt were around today, he'd want to know exactly what in hell that blue monster has to do with the "Children of the World".
http://www.mouseplanet.info/gallery/d/82968-2/IASW-LiloStitch-020509-AVP.jpg

P.S. I also read a piece on the rehab that criticized everyone's critiques of the "America" scene. Aside from this being pretty much the dumbest thing ever written, and probably written by the same Disney exec who wrote Marty Sklar's letter, the whole idea of Paris having an "America" section is acceptable because Paris ISN'T IN FUCKING AMERICA. Ass.

And sure, it's in Disneyland. So why am I talking about it? Because if this idea is gold in Disneyland, then we may soon see the Orlando counterpart getting the same facelift.

Anyway, moving on. I promised everyone I'd conclude this letter with a retrospective of what was (and still is!) the most horrendous and despicable rehab known to man. And it's not "Under New Management!"

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/media/photo/2005-11/20425561.jpg
...The attraction that has its opening known worldwide by Disney fans as the moment Walt not only rolled in his grave, but also sat upright and screamed bloody fucking murder.

No, the attraction I'm referring to is "Journey Into Imagination". Also known as "Journey Into YOUR Imagination" and "Journey Into YOUR Imagination - with Figment!" And probably something else. Hell if I know.

JII opened up in 1983, a year after EPCOT Center opened, and it was well worth the wait. People were amazed at the simplistic (almost Mary Blair-esque) design of the queue, and the show waiting inside was something much more than a dark ride. It gave Disney its first unofficial park mascots; characters serving as ambassadors to a theme park that weren't preestablished Disney creations. Figment and the Dreamfinder were 100 percent EPCOT, and you couldn't go anywhere else to find them. Unless it was your middle school science class (click on the TV, then the icon in the dead center with an animated Figment).

However, in 1998, to commemorate 15 years of Imagination, WDI thought it necessary to completely gut the shit out of the building and rebuild it - inside and out. What resulted was a disturbing blend of corny effects that you could find in a Ripley's building on I-Drive, a bunch of anticlimactic nothingness, and Eric Idle (in a move to better combine the theme of JII and its neighbor, Honey I Shrunk the Audience, which also led Disney to re-establish the entire pavilion as the Imagination Institute) called "Journey Into YOUR Imagination!". As if people would approach the ride thinking "I wonder whose imagination we'll be visiting?"
What followed was bat-shit INSANITY. Pure hysteria. People called it, in a show of amazing wit and tit-for-tat, "Journey Into Your (Lack of) Imagination".

Hm.

Don't worry, I was right at the forefront as well. I'm pretty sure I wrote a pissy letter to Kodak the second I found out that Figment was demoted to a shitty cameo at the end of the ride.

ANYWAY.

Disney, in a rare occurance, decided that maybe 10,000,000,000 complaints can't be wrong, and shut down the ride just a week after its 2 year anniversary. They reopened it with most fans (myself included), hoping a Dreamfinder and Figment-filled journey would be waiting for us. What we got was significantly better than the previous iteration of the attraction, but still lacking in any sort of enjoyability. Dreamfinder was gone, still, with Eric Idle in his place. Figment played a much more significant role in the story - Disney even slapped his name on the ride as a white flag - but for some reason the show writers (perhaps in a show of bitterness towards the fans that demanded him) made him into kind of a...well, kind of a dick. He always pops up in front of Nigel, fucking up the whole show, to do something annoying.

Now, believe me, I don't like the character of Nigel Channing in my Imagination anymore than I like cockroaches in my tortellini (ew). But Figment just overdid it. He was annoying. He came off as a pest, instead of a fun-loving, childlike dragon. He was a pest that pooted in your face. Literally.
Nevertheless, fans have accepted this one, seeing as how if it didn't exist, we'd still have that God-awful shitmonster from the Millenium Celebration. Yet, we can't help but feel that some change is in the air. Shirts have popped up in shops with the Dreamfinder on them. Pins, and other little goodies are circulating, too. The cynic in me is pretty sure this is merely a marketing ploy for the recent 25 years of EPCOT deal that was going around. But still...we can dream, yeah? Besides, Disney's bound to get tired of all the bitching for a proper Dreamfinder return. There's still alot of people who haven't discovered what's become of their favorite EPCOT duo...
video

Anyway, that wraps up this piece. Leave comments, and let me know if you agree/disagree, or what your thoughts on recent/future rehabs are.

I'm gonna go watch Captain EO.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Leave comments!

....Dammit!

I'm trying to gauge the actual amount of people reading this thing. So lemme know what you're thinking of the blog!

Friday, January 2, 2009

On rehabs and refurbishments, Part 2

Before I get started, let me wish a happy 2009 to all of you, and may your days be merry and your trips to WDW be filled with the most delicious confection to grace this Earth, the Aloha Isle Dole Whip, and its big brother, the Dole Whip float.


Mmmmm. Whippy.

So, aside from talking about Dole Whips, I know I was posting here for a reason. I...I can't remember. Perhaps a haiku will help?

Oh, delicious whip
Chocolate, vanilla, a blend?
Pineapple, of course!

Ah, yes. The "rehabs" story. Last time, I bitched about attractions that desperately need (or, in "Primeval Whirl"'s case, don't need) them. Attractions that are either dying of old age, like "Snow White's Scary Adventures", or new attractions that are suffering bouts of debilitating issues at young ages. Attractions like Expedition Everest, which has frequent blackouts and hallucinations at the tender age of 3.
You ask, "Hallucinations?"
I reply, "Yes."
The attraction has frequent periods in which lighting and animatronics are adjusted so movement is evident where there is, in fact, no movement at all. The park spent maybe a metric shitload on this enormous yeti animatronic, but the sonofabitch keeps breaking down all the time. It's no surprise, since such ambition went into creating it. Legend tells that the AA has as much force as a 747 turbine, and was able to break through it's restraint during testing. Then, it murdered thousands of tourists after some asshole pushed him while in line for "Midway Mania".
















Ok, I made the "Midway Mania" part up. Maybe.

The point is, this is the most complex monster to ever live inside of a Disney World attraction, and he just...sits there. Some strobe lights go off, maybe. He used to swipe at you, didn't he? Roar? Now, he just hangs around. The train goes by so fast, he may even be holding a cup of tea, offering you a place to chill. And SURE, a bunch of people may take that "fast train" deal as a reason NOT to bitch, but it's not necessarily about the experience as much as it's about the fact that Disney pissed away so much on something that will REFUSE to work.

It's like "Test Track".

Almost literally EVERY time I've gotten on Test Track, it's broken down halfway through. These attractions have line waits of up to 70 minutes! Shouldn't we compensate for that with a kickass ride, and not a kickass ride that falls asleep all the time?

BAH....Anyway. I wanted to also talk about the rehabs from recent times that have actually been enjoyable. And the first will certainly stir up a wee bit of controversy with some.

I actually loved the "Spaceship Earth" rehab. It was brilliant. First off, it could have been better. OF COURSE. But consider this: Remember those rumors of a "TimeChasers" ride sponsored by Microsoft that was to come out in the "Project Gemini" era? The one that was going to be such a mega-indoor coaster, that Disney would have to gut Spaceship Earth just to fit it in there?

Well...now you do.

This rehab is a great step toward that pure "EPCOT" feeling. Jesus, it even has a logo!

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3075/2781572488_b222f74231.jpg?v=0
That tiny little buddy right above the attraction title there. Just like the old days, right? When every pavilion had an insignia - for more than coolness, but also to fit in with the motif of the park. Simple, elegant, and straightforward. And also, bad-fucking-ass.
Anyway, the attraction itself has been overhauled with some new scenes and effects. Most of these are the same general idea that was behind the original versions, just...spiffier. Take the moving hieroglyphics in the "caveman" scene. I've never noticed that before! Seeing that made me feel almost like a child again, wondering just how in the hell it looks so sweet. There are totally new scenes, as well, such as the "70's retro lab" scene, which I absolutely loved. Many people hated it, saying it was useless, and no scientist would wear leg warmers in a lab coat. But I thought it worked well. It was a nice, subtle jab at the (I'll admit) occasionally ridiculous 80's motif that riddled the park's music and walk-around characters when the park was getting started.
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2348/1846441387_7563c3fef8.jpg?v=0

And then there's the "Horizons"-esque "Decide Your Future" finale. It works out well, giving the attraction a new insight into the future, and it's also a nice homage to the amazing past we may remember. I do have my nitpicks, as always. Judi Dench isn't really feeling her lines, it seems. And she says some stupid shit ("The first world wide web"? What?). The music isn't as memorable as it once was. The entire last 3rd of the ride is essentially a blank canvas, save for some Christmas lights (and I know, the rider's focus is on the screen in front of them - which seems ironic to me - but it's still disheartening to see all that empty space in such a big dome). And yea, the attraction becomes more about the future itself towards the end than communication, as if the show writers just switched gears completely halfway through an all-nighter. But these are small, petty issues. I love this incarnation of "Spaceship Earth", especially considering the butchering it could have EASILY gotten.

I also was able to see the newest version of "The Haunted Mansion" and was pleasantly surprised to see this was more of an overhaul combined with a rehab. An entirely new 1st act is essentially in place, even tossing in that little M.C. Escher reference that was originally supposed to go into the 1999 "Journey Into Imagination" rehab (also known as "The Doomsday of Rehabs"). Also, I was amazed when I read about the incredibly simple methods taken to achieve those weird (in a good sense) new effects. There are articles around the web that go in depth. Check it out. Google that bitch.

It's easy for Disney to learn from the successful rehabs, from bigger ones ("SSE", "Haunted Mansion") to the smaller ones ("it's a small world", for example, didn't compromise any of the original artistic merits it had for its rehab - yet...). As long as Disney can maintain the original theme and concepts housed in the idea - be it the future and our connections to it, or the amount of tension and spookiness a few well-placed light boxes on sticks can create - then keep the rehabs coming. It's not about state of the art technology, but about preserving the magic we all felt the first time we rode these attractions. If necessary, use that technology to keep it alive, but at least go the distance to never make it look stale. Because once it goes stale physically, then it goes stale in our memories.

In Part 3 (AKA "The Conclusion", or "Revolutions") I'll talk about future rehabs and what the hell Disney was thinking with that debacle at the Imagination Pavilion. Cheers!