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General Discussions Discuss Hanging on to the "old" WDW in the Community Center forums; I just wanted to start a discussion about a topic I think about from time to time. Basically, the question is: How should Disney expand/refresh/renew its theme parks in a ...
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    Granny's Avatar
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    Hanging on to the "old" WDW

    I just wanted to start a discussion about a topic I think about from time to time.

    Basically, the question is: How should Disney expand/refresh/renew its theme parks in a way that pleases everyone?

    This is spurred in part by the discussions on the Rumors board about the re-use of the space used for 20K Under the Sea and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

    I have a lot of thoughts on this, but am putting myself in Disney park designer shoes, and figuring how to bring new attractions without alienating those who visit WDW often and want to see the sentimental favorites remain.

    I think it's important to note that my first visit to WDW was in 1998, at the age of 43. I don't have childhood memories or attachments to many of the attractions, though I certainly have my favorites. So to me, I see evolution of attractions as a necessary thing. And when the park boundaries are already defined, that means that something usually has to go in order to bring in something new.

    So...my question is, how should Disney bring in new attractions without destroying the sentimentality of the old ones?



    Personally, I think attractions like Pooh, Mickey's Philharmagic, Buzz Lightyear and others have freshened the experience for a long standing park like MK. On the other hand, I'd hate to see them tear down Carousel of Progress, even though it seems outdated. And for all its critics, It's a Small World needs to be there I think (though they could update it too, IMHO).

    I'll just leave this out there for thoughts and discussion.
    Granny (Yep, I really am a guy)

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    The MK is very luckey it doesn't have Epcot syndrome - being that all of the attractions go under the knife at one point wether anyone actually wants it to or not (contractual obligations - which led to things like the Imagination fiasco).

    You can change things - you just have to pace it. You also need to realize what was the big idea behind the old attraction your replacing - will the new idea do it justice? If you fix a problem, like for example make Energy faster paced, or take the cartoony feel out of the Land boat ride - you get approval from the public. But if you "***** it up" like for example by taking Figment out of Imagination - you'll never hear the end of it. It's a fine line to walk.

    Also, you have to remember that each attraction has a purpose - a general feeling or idea that they lend to the park as a whole. MGM without the Great Movie Ride would seem empty - even though it's not the most popular attraction. A good example of replacement and exchange would be M:S at Epcot. It replaced Horizons - but not on its own. For the longest time, Horizons was the thematic center of Epcot - the whole bright shiney for the future place with whimsical technology and the can do spirit. Without it, Epcot sorta seemed dead - some will argue it still does, but they did make some major changes to accomodate that you might not have noticed.

    Spaceship Earth was "meant" to be the focus of Epcot, but when Horizons opened it took over that role - and strangely enough at that time Spaceship Earth's script was drasticly changed. Spaceship Earth has been so focused on technology and mans specific accomplishments for several years, in what was the classic Walter Cronkite narrated version. During Horizon's demise, things began to change for SSE again. Knowing full well that SPACE was coming - the space sequence for SSE was removed, painted black, and hidden. If you were unaware, the original top of the ride starfield sequence was the image of earth from the moon - complete with spacestation you exitted from into the theater, and projections of astronauts and the a space shuttle floating about. Look for the mural at the entrance - it depicts man's acheivements, from fire to space flight... its the last remnant of the old focus.

    So SSE changed, not just in that one scene, but also overall - the script became a more "look at what we can do, bring the world together, happy warm fuzzies" and less "look at the nifty technology, aren't we smart?" Sounds a bit more like Horizons doesn't it?

    Epcot's theme center was once again SSE - in combination with the Millenium celebration and the whole "bring the world together, celebrate humanity" idea. That's when Horizons began to be closed and torn down. This was not a coincidence.

    Then the idea comes full circle - M:S is a thrill ride. M:S is a simulator thrill ride. M:S is about traveling in an experimental vehicle to a place you could only go in your imagination. M:S has a post show designed with many interactive elements.

    Sound familure? There's a reason Body Wars and its host pavillion is now closed, right next door to M:S. Body Wars demise wasn't that simple either - ever notice how both the Imagination pavillion and Body Wars have shrinking machines? Well, that's not all they shared, in the remake of Imagination's ride, the four senses - once explored in depth in the Wonder of Life, were brought in as a major thematic element. This again, was not some hap-hazard decision, but rather poorly executed as fatr as time was concerned - it shouldn't have opened until after BW's area was closed. Open at the same time, people could easily point out how Wonders of Life explored the topic in a more impressive, if dated, manner.

    See, there's always a plan. Old ideas give way to new idea. Did you know that one of the original plans for the Land pavillion was the fly around over the world's various terrains in a hot air balloon? That it was scrapped from the pavillion due to budget concerns? Well, the idea is coming back now with the create of Soarin'.

    It's all a big loop and a circle of ideas - things change but also stay the same. A park has its core values and thos eneed to remain, it's jsut the way the story is told which is refreshed and if done properly you'll not notice the difference - but simply be awed and amazed as if its all brand new to you, even if its a story you've heard a thousands times before.

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    Loric...wow, that's quite a response. Obviously something you've thought about before.

    And what you say makes sense to me. So that's why, to me, making Alien Encounter into a Stitch Encounter is much more true to the "values" and audience of Magic Kingdom. I never thought a truly scary attraction made sense in that venue...with Stitch it will be scary but friendly...like Space Mountain or Haunted Mansion.

    I never visited WDW when many of the attractions of the past were running: Horizons, If I Had Wings, World of Motion, Skyway, Captain EO, Mickey Mouse Revue, and many many more. I never saw the original Journey into Imagination with Figment.

    So I haven't had much experience with attractions that I really like being closed down to make room for something new.

    I like the idea of whatever replaces an attraction has to "fill it's shoes" from a theming/goal standpoint.

    And I agree that it's a very fine line that Disney walks. When do they "tweak" an attraction (Tiki Birds, Stitch Encounter) and when do they scrap it and start anew?
    Granny (Yep, I really am a guy)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Goofy Guy
    I never visited WDW when many of the attractions of the past were running: Horizons, If I Had Wings, World of Motion, Skyway, Captain EO, Mickey Mouse Revue, and many many more. I never saw the original Journey into Imagination with Figment.

    You really missed something wonderful - they each brought somthing special to each visit. Figment was my favorite!

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    I feel like change is a necessary evil. Overall, the changes that have been done to the World have been for the better. The only change that I really have anger towards is the removal of Mr. Toad. But that is mostly because I hold on to episodic memories from that ride when I used to ride with my dad. It held a special place for me so I have trouble letting go of it. The other changes that have occurred, I hate to see the attractions go, but I think in the end it works out better because it helps make every trip a new experience. I miss 20K Leagues, but that ride was becoming outdated, so removing it hasn't caused that much turmoil for me. I just hope that Pooh doesn't take over that aera too. With Alien Encounter, I loved that attraction. But then again, I am 22 years old and I enjoy thrilling and scary rides. However, did Alien belong there? No, it was to scary for small children and the MK is a children's playground. So, I think Stitch will be a good addition to the park. As for the Carousel of Progress, closing that ride would be the worst thing they could do. They will need to update it from time to time though. The final scene of that attraction is already becoming now, so periodically, a renewal of the final scene to make it futuristic again would not be a bad thing. It's true that I do miss a lot of attractions that have been erased like Horizons and Mission to Mars. But I think that change is a good thing. I think Walt started this whole thing because he dreamed of a different world. And I think that change will help keep that different world from turning into just another day. If Disney keeps changing, at least some, then they can remain the greatest thing on earth instead of just becoming another theme park like Busch Gardens.
    Engaged to a wonderful woman on 12-12-08 at the Magic Kingdom!

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    crashbunny...yes, I know that I missed a lot of great attractions. But I also feel like those who only went in the earlier years have missed such awesome additions such as MGM Studios, DAK (okay, not awesome but really good), and the newer attractions at MK and Epcot. I'm happy with change, but agree that it needs to add more to a park than the subtraction of whatever it replaced.

    NORMNB8S....you bring up the exact points that got me thinking about this topic in the first place.

    The only change that I really have anger towards is the removal of Mr. Toad. But that is mostly because I hold on to episodic memories from that ride when I used to ride with my dad. It held a special place for me so I have trouble letting go of it.
    I think that those people who really enjoy WDW, and feel the magic, will always be concerned when a part of that experience is ended. The ties that bind us to WDW are emotional ones, and it is hard to let go of anything to make way for new experiences.

    We could take a poll, find the worst-liked attraction at WDW, and within a short time I could find a lot of people who would be outraged that Disney would consider destroying something so precious.

    And I agree that Carousel of Progress, more than any other attraction at WDW, is testimony to Walt's vision and optimism about our country. I'm not sure how they could replace it with something that portrayed that feeling as well. Is it outdated? Sure it is, and I agree that they need to keep updating the last scene every few years. But it has now been relegated to being a seasonal attraction that is used only to help with the high crowd seasons. Because at other times of the year, people just don't go there much.

    Thanks to all for your input and discussion on this. I enjoy the philosophical discussions about Disney. I'm in the minority opinion on many points, but here are two that come to mind.

    1. I didn't like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Didn't get it, didn't see what it had to do with WDW or the MK experience. Just an opinion, and I respect others who formed an attachment to this attraction.

    2. I like to see changes at WDW. Yes, a part of me says "it's cool to do a particular thing EVERY TIME I visit WDW". But since we go every year, another part says that I like the natural evolution of the parks, as long as they maintain the theming and values that made the park special in the first place.
    Granny (Yep, I really am a guy)

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    i think that no matter what disney does, they cant please everyone. while some people seem to like the new hitech rides, others miss the really old rides like horizons and toad.

    i like the old rides as well (from what i can remember), but also like change and to see rides based on new movies too. with all that land, why dont they just add on rides instead of taking down old ones that people still love?

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    Quote Originally Posted by judycats
    i like the old rides as well (from what i can remember), but also like change and to see rides based on new movies too. with all that land, why dont they just add on rides instead of taking down old ones that people still love?
    judycats...they do have a lot of space in places like EPCOT and DAK...MGM and MK are much more limited from that aspect.

    But Disney also has to staff any new attraction, and they don't want to increase the numbers of employees because most new attractions don't really drive ticket sales. They act more as a customer retention for frequent visitors, or a bit of a lure for someone who's never gone. So I can understand why Disney management would rather swap an attraction by deleting an older one so they don't need more total employees to run the parks.

    All in all, I personally think Disney does a pretty good job of balancing the need to preserve heritage with the need to keep the park visits fresh.
    Granny (Yep, I really am a guy)

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    I missed some of the very early atrractions - we didnt start going untill 1988- but we did see a change over the years and it doesnt quite seem to fit what it seems that Mr. Disney had in mind. I watched the video of Walt talking about the Pirates of the Caribbean - he was so excited and animated about it- and he wanted the parks to be ever changing, but not so much that it took all the magic out of a visit. It seems that a lot of the latest additions ( aladdins magic carpet, the kiddie rides in animal kingdom, etc) are all things that most of us can get at 6 flags or the equivalent in your neck of the woods. We have gone most every year - even when there were no changes or upgrades. We have done this for so many reasons- the magic that unfolds as you walk down Main Street and see the castle again, the flood of childhood memories that rush over you when you see Mickey again, the joy on your kids faces, the joy on your husbands face when he flies down summit plummet ( and gets a giant wedgie!! ), the wonderful feeling watching the fireworks at Magic Kingdom, the lump in your throat when you watch Spectomagic again, the smile that comes on your face when you see that giant golf ball again walking into EPCOT, ........... I have so many more ... ( good article idea Lou?)

    Anyway I agree that there has to be a balance - it does however have to enhance your experience and not not take away from it. We still enjoy the CoP and other supposed "outdated" attractions- we are disappointed when we go in November and cant get to see them. Something dedicated to the "extinct" attractions would be interesting....I'd love to see stuff about some of the thing that were gone before we ever got to WDW.

  10. #10
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    Lou Mongello is offline Lou Mongello (AKQJ10) - Disney Expert, Host, Author, Speaker and Entrepreneur
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    Interesting point about how recent attractions are similar to those found in "local" amusement parks (with the notable exception of Mission: Space)
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    Allow me to add my 2 cents on this topic. First, you have to realize I am an old timer. I visited DL in August of 1955 as a child. My WDW experience starts in the 70's with my children (5 visits) and continues today with most of my visits (8) since 1996, when we first stayed on property.

    I don't think Walt ever imagined what WDW would be like. You have to remember he was gone in 1966--5 years before there was a WDW. The MK was basically a clone of DL. Why ruin a good thing? All the other parks were the ideas of others. I doubt Walt ever thought there would be such an affection for his parks some 38 years after his death. However, if you read about his ideas you know that he intended when you came back to Dl or WDW there would be something new and something old, and something gone!

    I doubt Walt ever imagined the cost involved in running his parks and adding new attractions. You have to remember Walt was born in 1901. He experienced the invention and/or improvement of dozens of basic technologies (electricity, phone, aviation, motion pictures, automobiles, etc.) we take for granted. Yet in 1966 he had no idea what lay ahead as far as technology and how the world and especially our culture would change.

    For better or worse, Disney is a business. The bottom line rules, unfortunately. The Disney execs must balance what "sells" to today's youth (drugs, s** and hip hop, or whatever they are into as far as music) and what the old timers expect as far as nostalgia. The old rides and old attractions were old technology. While Disney has gone digital a lot of attractions still are based on old carnival and amusement rides of a 100 years ago. Pirates could be made almost lifelike, but would it make it better? The same goes for CoP, HM, and others. Perhaps Disney could take the old rides and make a new park sort of like Las Vegas is doing with the old neon signs that have been replaced with the newest optical technologies.

    Yes, I miss the old rides, but I also want new and better attractions. I sometimes wonder if Disney has a master plan, or are playing by their ears (pun intended). I guess we will never know for sure. I wonder what Walt is thinking if he can see WDW today and what he thinks of the persons running his business?
    Last edited by Jiminy Cricket; 08-14-2004 at 05:17 PM.
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