Join us this week as we create the happiest makeup look that ever sailed around the world! [Read more…]
By Seth Kubersky
It’s a world of hopes and a world of flat-screens after all, as Walt Disney World’s iconic It’s a Small World attraction has just added personalized goodbye messages to its finale. [Read more…]
By Andy Guinigundo, photo by Theme Park Review
Tokyo, Japan – While few American Disney fans have ever ventured around the world to the Asian Disney parks, reports from those who have always seem to be not just positive, but actually gushing. Just a few days ago, The Oriental Land Co., the company that owns the Tokyo Disney parks, announced $4 billion more reasons for Disney fans to make their way to the East.
$500 billion yen, or about $4.45 billion U.S. will be invested in the parks over the next 10 years. To put that staggering figure into perspective, the entirety of the Disney California Adventure initial construction was $600 million and the 2007-12 redesign and expansion was $1.1 billion. Selfishly, an American might be tempted to wonder why Disney is investing so much in the these Asian parks and fear that it may take away from the U.S. parks. Well, fear not. While these parks were built by Disney Imagineering and the Disney theme licensed from Disney, the parks are owned and operated by the Oriental Land Company. These two Tokyo Disney parks are the only two in the world not even partially owned by Disney.
So what will be expanded?
Well, like its cousin in Florida, Fantasyland will get a major makeover. Like in Florida and California, Fantasyland resides within the Magic Kingdom-style park, Tokyo Disneyland. The existing Fantasyland will be renovated. Additionally, an expansion will essentially double the land’s current size. Major new attractions, restaurants and shops are being considered for the area. No word on what these new attractions will be however.
Unlike Tokyo Disneyland that mirrors Magic Kingdom parks around the world, Tokyo DisneySea has no counterpart. A similar park may have been built in California, but reportedly, financial trouble related to Disneyland Paris put the brakes on the project. The idea made it to Japan and boy did they run with it. Opened in 2001, with a price tag of $4 billion, it was the mostly expensive Disney Park to build. The theme is one of sea exploration. Rather than themed lands, Tokyo DisneySea has themed ports of call. The entrance is the Mediterranean Harbor while others include American Waterfront, Lost River Delta, Port Discovery, Mermaid Lagoon, Arabian Coast and Mysterious Island. An eigth as yet unnamed port of call has been planned for DisneySea. It too will include new attractions, restaurants and shops.
The announcement also mentioned renovation of backstage areas, new entertainment, and development of “measures to protect guest from hot and cold weather”. They also enigmatically stated there would be “development of hardware that will enhance guest experience in the parks”. What such hardware would be is any aspiring Imaginner’s guess. Perhaps as important as park expansions and attractions is the statement that they will “continue to raise the level of hospitality provided by cast members”.
There has been speculation from several sources that a Frozen attraction will be the centerpiece and could open as soon as 2017. While it certainly fits in Fantasyland with all the princesses, one could imagine an entire rebuilding of Arendelle within a DisneySea port since that fictional town is indeed a seaport. There certainly would be interest in a Frozen attraction in Japan since it is the third highest grossing film of all time in Japan between Titanic and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s) Stone. Tokyo Disneyland will get a taste of Frozen this winter when it presents Ana and Elsa’s Frozen Fantasy from January to March 2015. This event will be similar to the summer event that took place at Disneys Hollywood Studios.
• Andy Guinigundo is the author of the Out of The Loop column in “Orlando Attractions Magazine”. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife and three daughters. He grew up frequenting theme parks around Ohio and making trips to Orlando with his family. While for most of the year, he’s out of the Orlando loop, he tries to visit Florida at least once a year. You can follow Andy on Twitter at @AttractionsOOTL.
Hosts Banks Lee and JeniLynn Knopp bring you this week’s theme park and attraction news. On this week’s episode: [Read more…]
To honor the 50th anniversary of “it’s a small world’s” debut at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, guests and Cast Members around the world will unite in song for a historic event. [Read more…]
Disney Interactive has launched a new online original series inspired by the iconic Disney Parks attraction, “it’s a small world: the animated series”.
By Andy Guinigundo
When I visited Disneyland this past November, I was excited that I’d able to experience the ride “overlays” of The Haunted Mansion and it’s a small world. A tiny part of me was somewhat skeptical however. Would the overlays be silly or poorly executed? I had to experience it for myself.
Think of a ride overlay like a slipcover for a couch. The couch underneath may be in perfect condition and is perhaps your favorite seat in the house. Let’s say, for the holidays, you wanted shake things up a little and give your living room a different look. You may throw a bright red slipcover over your comfy couch. That may be what the Imagineers were thinking when they created Haunted Mansion Holiday and it’s a small world holiday.
I jumped into my rental car and started the 37 mile, one and a half-hour drive from Los Angeles to Anaheim. On this cool California Saturday evening, the park was open until midnight. I arrived as the sun was setting and jumped on the Disneyland Railroad to New Orleans Square and made a beeline to the Haunted Mansion Holiday.
The normal décor of the Haunted Mansion in California differs from that of the Magic Kingdom version. The exterior is white and generally not very spooky in comparison the exterior in Orlando. Walt Disney famously said that “we will take care of the outside and the ghosts will take care of the inside”. Hence, the exterior was to look like well-manicured southern manor house.
Upon walking up to Haunted Mansion Holiday, one sees that Jack Skellington from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” has taken over the decorating for the season. It appears as a strange mix of Halloween and Christmas with pumpkins and Jack himself in a white beard and “Sandy Claws” hat and suit. While the exterior appeared to be in full “Nightmare” mode, the fun had only just begun. While I won’t go into complete detail here, I will say this is indeed a full overlay. I cannot think of an instance or scene that is untouched. For example, within the stretching room, innocent Christmas portraits on the wall are stretched to reveal such horrors as a man-eating wreath and sinister toys. The ballroom is decorated for a Christmas ball where the waltzers eerily dance right through large but dead Christmas tree. When you enter the graveyard, it is now winter and a snowfall covers the ground. Most definitely, the soundtrack is altered with a new narration and Christmas carols intermixed with Grim Grinning Ghosts. Hitchhiking ghosts are replaced with Nightmarish gifts. Finally Sally, Jack’s friend from the movie, stands in place of the Little Leota reminding you to “Hurry Back.”
I loved Haunted Mansion Holiday. For me, it is combination of two things that I already really enjoy. The combination works well.
Despite it’s a small world being a less elaborate ride in general, its transformation is no less spectacular. Just as with the Mansion, the small world’s exterior differs from that of Orlando. The white and gold cityscape and familiar clock face along with the queue area are completely outdoors. For the holiday version, the buildings are outlined in multi-colored Christmas lights.
At first, I had difficulty getting on the ride. When I was in Disneyland in September, Small World was a walk-on. In November, the wait for Small World was 20 minutes. In fact, the queue actually travels across the street and winds around before making its way back to the ride. The street is used for parades so the ride is closed during parades. I was shut out for about an hour.
When I finally got in line, I learned that every 15 minutes, something very cool occurs. Usually, the clock opens up and some figures travel around the bottom, cuckoo clock style. During Holiday, all the lights go dark. They then project amazingly sharp cartoon images of the holidays onto the small world cityscape complete with the Nutcracker soundtrack. On the final beat of the music, the multicolored Christmas lights return and all is quiet except the sound of the clock’s tick-tock.
As with Mansion, not a single scene has been left untouched. The boat ride includes a trip to the North Pole. Even the newly placed Disney characters get into the holiday act. The soundtrack completes the mood. Of course, the small world music remains, but “Jingle Bells” and “Deck the Halls” have been so expertly interweaved that in no way does it sound out of place or shoved in. Some scenes are most definitely Christmas. Others are a more generic winter season or New Years.
It’s a small world holiday, too, was a fun change for the season. Anyone who has ever been to a Disney park during the holidays knows what a beautiful job they do. The holiday ride transformations complement the mood and décor of the park. The beauty of the overlays is that you always get your favorite rides back in January.
• Andy Guinigundo is the author of the Out of The Loop column in “Orlando Attractions Magazine”. Out of the Loop keeps you up-to-date with attraction news outside of Central Florida. Andy lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife and three daughters. He grew up frequenting theme parks around Ohio and making trips to Orlando with his family. While for most of the year, he’s out of the Orlando loop, he tries to visit Florida at least once a year.
By Andy Guinigundo
First off, I would like to thank my colleagues for bringing such complete coverage of Disney’s D23 Expo from Anaheim. Out of the Loop took a mini hiatus during this time since much of the coverage was news from outside of Orlando, which is this column’s focus. While, I was unable to make it to the expo, I did find myself in Disneyland the Saturday of the D23 Expo. I was fortunate to get a side trip out to Anaheim when my other job took me to Southern California that weekend.
This was my first trip to Disneyland. Many people don’t remember their first trip to Disney World or Disneyland as this is often an experience tucked away in our childhood memories. Rather we often harbor a generalized good feeling that we carry on to adulthood and eventually hope to pass on to our children. For me, there are several rides and experiences at Disney that conjure up this nostalgic good feeling. These include: Pirates of the Caribbean, The (original) Enchanted Tiki Room, The Carousel of Progress, If You Had Wings, Main Street Electrical Parade and it’s a small world.
Say what you want about Small World – the song is annoying; the ride is long; it’s boring. To me, the ride represents the beauty of the innocence of childhood. It is certainly a reflection of Walt himself. It was a ride that he personally developed. I have fond memories of each of my children riding Small World when they were around 1-year-old, gazing around in wonder and amazement while having vague memories of doing the same as a child.
Small World went under refurbishment out in Disneyland in January 2008 and re-opened in February this year. There was much controversy about the changes that occurred within the ride. First off, it was rumored that the boats had been changed to accommodate a heavier average person to prevent bottoming out. Maybe, maybe not; this has no bearing on the ride experience although preventing a boat from getting stuck is definitely a positive. The real controversy came in the addition of Disney Characters into the ride – Cinderella, Woody, Stitch, Donald Duck, Nemo and 24 others.
I was with the group that strongly opposed such a change. In fact, surviving family members of the ride’s main artist, Mary Blair, vocally came out against the changes. They cited the fact that blatant marketing would “bastardize” the integrity of the ride. One of the ironies of the change was that the famous rain forest area was figuratively cut down and replaced with characters from Toy Story.
With these issues in mind, Small World was high on my list of must-ride attractions during my trip, knowing that I would be limited to only a handful. As the sun began to set, my wife and I found ourselves toward the back side of the park, close to Small World. Near the entrance of the ride, a plaque commemorates the ride’s historic first voyage at the New York World’s Fair, April 22, 1964. We made our way through the outdoor queue area and walked right on to the next available boat. Many of the queues in Disneyland are uncovered. Apparently, afternoon thunderstorms and crazy heat and humidity are not common in California.
While I could focus on every tiny similarity and difference between California and Florida, I feel that this has been done elsewhere. (Check out the Wikipedia entry for ‘it’s a small world’.) I tried to keep an open mind as the boat rounded the bend and into the ride. However, the pessimist in me wanted to not like the changes. Soon, though, I found myself saying: “Look at Peter Pan”, “Hey it’s Cinderella” and “I found Nemo”. I laughed about being able to voice my over-used Finding Nemo joke to my wife. My wife and I were definitely smiling as we made our way through the store that the ride exits near. We ran off the ride in search of Roger Rabbit.
Did I love the changes? No.
Would I want them to come to Florida? No.
Was it as bad as I thought it would be? No.
I would surely ride it again and I hope to take my kids on this incarnation of the ride some day. I think the Small World changes do hold on to history while attempting to move forward, trying to appeal to a broader audience. I think Disney cares what the fans think, but they don’t ask us for our blessing. If the Imagineers tried to please fanboys like me all the time, it would be impossible to move forward. Failing to move forward and evolve would be worst sin of all.
• Andy Guinigundo is the author of the Out of The Loop column in “Orlando Attractions Magazine”. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife and three daughters. He grew up frequenting theme parks around Ohio and making trips to Orlando with his family. While for most of the year, he’s out of the Orlando loop, he tries to visit Florida at least once a year.
I spent a few hours at the Magic Kingdom today, as I was invited to come watch the Donegal High School Marching Band from Mount Joy, Penn. perform before the 3:00pm parade. Be sure to tune in to the upcoming June 21 episode of Inside the Magic (show #220) for a binaural recording of the band marching down Main Street U.S.A.
Now, on with the photo update…
With the recent announcement that Stitch’s SuperSonic Celebration would be permanently going away on June 27, less than two months after its official premiere, I decided to check in on the show while it’s still around to see how popular it is. Around 5 minutes before the 3:30pm show began, here’s what the gathered crowd looked like:
Around thirty people crammed into every available nearby shaded area, trying to avoid the midday extreme heat while waiting for the show to begin.
As the show began, I spotted a cast member wheeling a cart nearby filled with ice-cold water and fan spray bottles. After standing out there for a few minutes, I was quite tempted to purchase one. Very smart.
The nearby Carousel of Progress let out a couple of minutes into Stitch’s SuperSonic Celebration. I’d estimate around 70-80 people exited the Carousel theater, though only around 10 stopped to watch Stitch’s show. But a surprisingly large amount of guests wandering through Tomorrowland did gather once the outdoor show began.
Here’s a panoramic view of what the watching crowd looked like at its max (click the image to enlarge in a new window):
In the end, around 75 people decided to take the time to watch Stitch’s SuperSonic Celebration. But as you can see, most of the group crowded underneath the shade provided by the Tomorrowland Transit Authority track. I can only assume that this is one of the major reasons why Stitch’s Supersonic Celebration will be coming to an end so soon. No one wants to sit on the hot pavement for 30+ minutes in the summer heat in Florida. I wonder if the show would have continued longer had it been featured in the now-demolished Galaxy Palace Theater, which included seating and some shading. [Read more…]