This editorial is a reflection on Disney’s handling of closing down long standing attractions, from the viewpoint of dedicated Disney fans. The views expressed are solely those of it’s author Zack Kaplan.
Within the past year or so, Disney has started producing limited run t-shirts. In many cases, they are based around gone (but not forgotten) attractions and areas from Walt Disney World. I’ve bought quite a few of these, as they have always been a neat way to own a souvineer of something from years past. However this August, the closures of both The Great Movie Ride and Ellen’s Energy Adventure have left a bad taste in my mouth, mainly in how merchandise based around their closures is being sold, and I want to take a look at both sides.
The D23 Expo 2017 Parks and Resort panel came with many announcements of new additions to the parks, along with “shadow” announcements of ride closures. I found that within in the Disney fan community, one of the biggest sticking points of disappointment was the short notice. I can’t say Universe of Energy was alive and well (calling it dated was an understatement). The attraction has aged poorly, mainly due to the far lax view Disney took on keeping it updated. However, its years of service mean it has been a part of millions of guests’ visits to Epcot.
The sentiment of displeasure with not having the opportunity for a final farewell was far greater for The Great Movie Ride. I would argue this attraction did not suffer so much from being tired as it suffered from neglect. The content of the ride has remained mostly the same over the years, other than a few updates to the closing movie. Considering the evergreen nature of the content (great movies throughout film history), its total replacement came as a shock to me.
Side 1: T-Shirts for the Closing of The Great Movie Ride? I’ll take Two!
So many guests have fond memories of The Great Movie Ride based on its decades of operation. Its age means multiple generations have had the opportunity to experience it. Selling merchandise to commemorate an attraction’s closure will give many tangible proof of a cherished ride. Whether they experienced as a kid, or an adult, or for many, both.
Not only are guests now able to own a physical embodiment of their memories, it makes the closure of a popular ride an event. Instead of mourning its loss, guests are celebrating its long life for one last time. Giving it the long lines it hasn’t had in years or even decades. So really, what’s not to like?
Side 2: Salt in the Wound
So yeah, rides close and new experiences take their place, what’s the big deal? Well, Disney knows how much guests cherished the last remaining Disney’s MGM Studios opening-day attraction. So for a limited time, you can buy a shirt to commemorate its closure. While it may seem silly to be upset by the largest entertainment conglomerate in the world cashing in on the event, as a fan it gives me that icky feeling that the company knows how easily we can be manipulated. While the argument can be made “its a business,” I argue as a fan you don’t have to be concerned with stockholder’s dividends.
Nostalgia is a large part of what has always made Disney Parks endearing. Main Street, U.S.A was based on Walt’s nostalgia for his childhood. So am I crazy for thinking it shouldn’t be odd to sell that nostalgia while something still exists? The great thing about opinions is that we all have them and each one is unique. I want to know what you think, so please vote, leave a comment, and tell me how you feel.
To learn more about Zack and read his recent posts for WDW Radio, visit his author page by clicking the link on his name at the top of this post.