Don’t tell Lou, but I watched a video of the new Frozen Ever After attraction on YouTube the other day (Hopefully, I’ll be able to actually ride it when I go down next month). It’s a beautiful ride, but I was most struck by what the Imagineers put into the attraction that came from Marc Davis’ original idea for a Snow Queen attraction. It got me thinking about the old Imagineering adage, “No good idea dies” and how many attractions over the years have come about because of that saying. I thought it would be fun to run through a few of them.
1) Jungle Cruise/Kilimanjaro Safaris
When Walt originally envisioned the Jungle Cruise as a part of Disneyland’s True Life Adventureland, he envisioned live animals inhabiting it. Pretty quickly though, he realized how hard that would be (and by “realized” I mean “enough people told him that he finally believed them”) that he settled for the animatronic animals we enjoy today. Nobody has to feed them or make sure they’re happy or that they have enough space or worry that they won’t show up for the guests.
Jumping ahead a few decades to the mid-nineties with the opening of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and we have Kilimanjaro Safaris, a trek through Africa that includes live animals. Over the years, the Imagineers have found ways to answer the earlier concerns with caretakers around the clock and plenty of space to roam (the entire Magic Kingdom could fit comfortably in this attraction). Finally, guests can have the experience that Walt always wanted them to have.
2) Mickey Mouse Revue/Mickey’s PhilharMagic
In case you don’t know what the Mickey Mouse Revue is, let me describe it for you. It was a show where Mickey conducted an orchestra featuring other Disney characters and played music from Disney’s animated movies.
If that sounds familiar, no you’re not experiencing déjà vu. That is the basic concept for Mickey’s PhilharMagic as well. PhilharMagic is even housed in the same building the Revue was. The biggest difference between them is that the Revue boasted animatronics of the characters while PhilharMagic is a 3-D movie. What Mickey’s PhilharMagic did was essentially update the Mickey Mouse Revue for modern audiences.
(Bonus points if you know where you can find some of the Mickey Mouse Revue animatronics in the parks these days.)
3) Mission to Mars/Mission: SPACE
Another pair of attractions that fall into the “they tell the same story but one has newer technology” category is Mission to Mars, formally in Magic Kingdom (where Stitch makes his great escape these days) and Mission: SPACE in Epcot.
(Fun Fact: Mission to Mars was the first Disney attraction to have a movie based on it. The movie starred Gary Sinese who also stars in the Mission: SPACE attraction.)
4) Matterhorn Bobsleds/Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
The Matterhorn Bobsleds is the grandfather of all steel roller coasters. Without it, we would still be riding the rickety wooden ones. Expedition Everest, then, is a continuation of the Matterhorn on its most basic level. But beyond that, the stories of the two rides are also, basically the same (though they do have two distinct settings), where you end up racing down the mountain to escape the clutches of a large, mythical snow creature.
5) Marc Davis’ Snow Queen Attraction/Frozen Ever After
This is where I should give you a spoiler warning if you don’t want to know anything about the new attraction before riding it yourself.
Consider yourself warned.
First of all, they’re both boat rides. Also, the stories are basically the same. In both versions of the ride you are on your way to the Snow Queen’s castle. Some of the scenes with the trolls and with Olaf remind me of some of the concept art I’ve seen as well. And, when you get to the castle to meet the queen, she whisks you away using her snow powers in both versions.
(Photos from the author’s personal collection. Concept art ©Disney.)
Your turn: what attraction would you like to see a “spiritual sequel” of? I’m not talking about bringing back an extinct attraction, but bringing back some of the themes and/or story of an attraction for modern audiences.
Chris grew up during the Disney renaissance of animation and took his first trip to Disney World when he was ten. Even though he has loved Disney his whole life, his obsession didn’t start until he began planning a trip for his honeymoon. Right now, his primary job (at least the one that doesn’t pay the bills) is to indoctrinate his daughter with his love of Disney while at the same time convincing his wife to move to Orlando, so he can become a tour guide in the parks.