by Jennifer Morrissey
I already know what to expect when I queue up for Tower of Terror, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I know most of the rides so well in fact that I don´t even bother to say the whole name of the attraction anymore. You´ll never hear me say “Hey, would you like to go ride the attraction Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin with me?”Utter the words “Tower”, “Splash”, “Big Thunder” and “Buzz” and I know exactly what you are talking about. Simpatico, baby! But that doesn´t mean that I actually want Disney to dumb down the names of their rides. Obviously we are all quite capable of doing that on our own. See the previously mentioned “Tower” etc, and don´t forget “Muppets” and “Pooh”. I could go on and on! But I digress.
`Countdown to Extinction´ was a perfect name for that particular ride (still one of my all time faves). Just hearing it made me all tingly with anticipation. When you thought about riding `Countdown to Extinction´ you thought about saving that clueless Iguanodon, all the while holding on for dear life as your rover throws you to and fro. I loved hearing that guy say, “Nope. Not our dino. ” (You know that guy from the pre-show movie with Mrs. Huxtable and also from the old NBC show Veronica´s Closet. No? Ok, perhaps I´m the only one that remembers that show. Moving on. )And who could ever forget the climatic ending when the “you know what” busts out of the trees…Smile! ! That´ll be 15 bucks, please. And just as we started getting used to the phrase, “Hey, the wait for `Countdown´ is only 10 minutes. Let´s go! ” along came the perplexing and inexplicable name change to…. DINOSAUR.
DINOSAUR?! Hey, thanks Disney. I´m in DinoLand, U. S. A. and you named a ride DINOSAUR. I wonder what it could be about. Dinosaurs, I deduce. But what kind of ride is it?What happens?What´s the plot?The shingle out front says DINOSAUR. All capital letters, folks. Decide for yourself what that means and proceed at your own risk. With “Countdown to Extinction” you could´ve at least made some sort of educated guess that you were getting into something wild and dangerous. DINOSAUR…not so much. Sounds about as ominous as “The Land. “Granted not all Disney attractions have exciting and heart stopping names. The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Jungle Cruise are all pretty plain sounding and self explanatory. But while DINOSAUR is plain sounding alright, it´s surprisingly not THAT self explanatory. Anyone expecting to float by some tranquil, leaf eating audio-animatronics a la Universe of Energy is in for a real big shocker. If you ask me, DINOSAUR needs a name change. Oh wait. Nevermind. Been there. Done that. How about an exclamation point then?
Nope, still not doing it for me. That name really doesn´t make me want to hike all the way to the remotest part of Disney´s Animal Kingdom. But then again, neither does Chester and Hester´s Dino-Rama, but that´s another story.
So I did some homework. Why DID Disney change the name of this attraction?Well as many of you know, “Dinosaur” was the name of a Disney animated tale released in 2000 about (hold on to your hats) dinosaurs! IMDb outlined the plot as such, “An orphaned dinosaur raised by lemurs joins an arduous trek to a sanctuary after a meteorite shower destroys his family home. “I recall seeing this movie when it first came out mind you, but I barely remember it. Perhaps I should check it out again. I think I´m just so darn mad about the extinction of `Countdown to Extinction´ that I have blocked the movie out of my head in a silent and subconscious protest.
Apparently, back in the day, Disney planned the release of “Dinosaur” and the opening of DINOSAUR to coincide with one another. However, Disney suffered some technology set backs before even beginning “Dinosaur”, so the attraction opened a whopping 18 months before its counterparts´ release in theaters. But here´s where I get confused, Disney Big Wigs. You knew all along that you were going to call the ride DINOSAUR, to coincide with the movie you hadn´t even released yet. However, because the movie wasn´t ready, you decided to scrap that idea and came up with the temporary but extremely fetching name of `Countdown to Extinction´?Why didn´t you just call it `The Dino Institute´ in the interim? Why waste a perfectly good name like `Countdown to Extinction´ when you were only going to chuck it a year and a half later?To be replaced by the ambiguously boring DINOSAUR nonetheless?Why, I beg of you?
Alas, I know the answer. Disney loves to tie in attractions with their movies. But let´s be honest, there are no attractions whose names mirror the movie titles exactly. (`Pirates´ does not count, Smartypants! The attraction came first! )Granted we have `The Seas with Nemo and Friends´, `Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin´, and `Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor Comedy Club´, just to name a few. But those names are more interesting and informative (and, more importantly, different! ) than “Finding Nemo”, “Toy Story” and “Monsters, Inc. “Why did Disney think that DINOSAUR was the exception to the rule here? DINOSAUR? Try DINOSNORE. I jest. The ride is nowhere near a snorefest that´s why it shouldn´t have a dull name like it does. Maybe Disney doesn´t feel the need to change the name back because people still ride it regardless of what it´s called. They probably figure, why bother with the all paint and the man hours just to change a sign. But to me, it´s not a just a sign. It´s a reflection of what´s to come. Perhaps if we all abstain from riding this boring sounding attraction, then they´ll get the hint! Oh, who am I kidding?No one is going to boycott DINOWHATCHAMACALLIT. It´s just too good pass up!
So here´s my plea to Disney: Change the name again! Please! DINOSAUR is boring and vague. To be frank, it´s stupid! And while I love `Countdown to Extinction´ all on its own, I will compromise with you and let you name it DINOSAUR: Countdown to Extinction. That way you can keep the movie title in there but also have a separate exciting name to entice the crowds and do this wonderful attraction justice. Think of all money, I mean, new pins you can make with that logo.