For years now, there has been a definite decline in the maintenance and upkeep for show elements at Walt Disney World. One of the most noticeable, as fellow MiceChat columnist Kevin Yee has pointed out numerous times, are the animatronics on Splash Mountain. While I do have to give them credit for fixing some of that over the past year, maintenance is a problem which affects the entire property, from the Parks all the way to the resorts.
For guests that only go to the vacation kingdom of the world every few years, some of these things may be barely noticeable. However, for frequent guests, and for those with a keen eye for the rich details Disney puts into their shows, it’s incredibly obvious.
Disney used to put a lot of love and care into their attractions and show elements. If something wasn’t working correctly, they made sure they did their best to fix it right away, sometimes at the expense of an attraction’s closure until things were made right again.
There’s no denying that the Parks are falling apart, and something needs to be done about it.
Let’s take a look at the Carousel of Progress first.
Even before you get into the attraction, you can see it’s in a sad state. The rotating theater has scuff marks all over it from years of abuse and neglect.
The walk ways leading into the show are dirty and look like they haven’t been cleaned since the last Tomorrowland makeover. Paint is chipped away on almost every corner, and it just looks miserable.
Inside, it’s even worse. The seats are incredibly filthy and falling apart. Most are filled with holes, and some are half broken.
The carpet is in serious need of cleaning…or at least being ripped up and completely replaced.
And don’t even get me started on the show itself! While the animatronics are, in my opinion, in better working order than they were a year ago, they still aren’t at 100%.
Some of the movements are a bit jerky, and sometimes, depending on the show, Father looks like his inner workings are sticking out of his neck.
The last time I saw the show (November 2012), I noticed how noisy the attraction had become as well. During each scene, when the vignettes are being rotated to prepare for the next, the sound of the turntables moving is incredibly loud, and takes away from the show itself. In truth, the attraction may have always been like this, but I’m just noticing now because some of the audio in the scenes were unbalanced.
For some scenes, especially the last one, it seems like the audio is way too low, as if their speakers are in need of some serious repair work. This is most noticeable in the very last scene, where it seems like some family members are much louder than others. Some were very hard to hear!
For an attraction that is considered one of the defining moments of Disney’s history, it certainly deserves more love and care than it is getting. Without Carousel of Progress, we wouldn’t have some of the attractions we know and love today, as the technology created for the show lead to some bigger and better things further down the road. The crowds, while not massive, still come to see and enjoy the show. On my last viewing, even the younger kids seemed to have enjoyed themselves watching it. So, it’s still a crowd pleaser. It just needs a very careful refurbishment to bring it back to its former glory.
It’s not just major attraction elements that need a little love, either. Take a look at these buckets filled with candy going around your head in the Main Street Confectionery.
They are completely dirty, and look gross. Not exactly the type of thing you want to see in a candy-making shop, is it?
How about those nets that now lay above your head at such attractions as Splash Mountain at the Magic Kingdom and around the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom? I’m sure most of you know by now just WHY they are there, right?
To protect guests from falling debris.
Yes, that is correct. Pieces have begun to fall off both of these enormous structures, and these nets are to protect folks from getting hurt.
I’m not sure about you, but those nets, however strong they may be, don’t exactly make me feel safe. While there have (thankfully) been no injuries reported from such an event yet, I sure as hell don’t want a falling chunk of mountain to hit me in the head. It’s a little scary, don’t you think?
And the better question is WHY are these massive structures falling apart? Especially considering the Tree of Life really isn’t all that old to begin with, it’s pretty frightening to think that it’s beginning to deteriorate already, and could potentially harm someone.
While the nets are a good solution, they are only temporary. Something really needs to be done about this, not only for the show aspect, but for the safety of the guests as well.
I think the one that upsets me the most is Maelstrom over at EPCOT. No, I’m not just talking about the film at the end (though, that would be nice). I’m talking about the ride itself: it’s in terrible shape.
Mold and water damage adorns the ceiling in the loading area, along with the rest of the ride. Take a look at those air vents…nasty, right?
“But Jeff,” you might say, “I never look up there, so who cares? The ride still works, right?”
Well, yes, it does. But it still looks terrible.
The polar bears are in serious need of a cleaning as well. They are dirty and probably filled with the same dust that fell on them on the attraction’s opening day.
Take a look at some of the paint peeled and chipped away on these show scenes.
These types of things are VERY noticeable in places.
It’s right in front of the guest’s eyes!
The sorriest state of affairs in the ride are these photos.
Yes, you are seeing that correctly. The rock work in front of this polar bear is completely missing. Everything is exposed, and you can see the polar bear right through it.
HOW IS THIS ACCEPTABLE?!
Short answer: it’s not. In fact, this is exactly the type of thing that Disney World continues to get away with because not enough people take the time to complain about it. Disney figures that if no one says anything, then why bother fixing it, right? This is the type of mindset that exists throughout the entire resort these days, and it’s just not acceptable.
The few items I mention are just a small portion of the things broken at Walt Disney World. But if no one stands up and says anything, that list is just going to get longer.
I need to say that I am absolutely NOT bashing the maintenance department at the Parks. These wonderful folks are out there night after night, fixing the things we love, making sure that they are running for people to enjoy. They go where they are told, and they do their jobs wonderfully. This isn’t a front lines, lower level problem…this is the fault of upper management of the Parks.
I get that there are a lot of things to do and fix at Walt Disney World. I also get that it costs money to repair these things. It even affects crowd control when attractions are down for refurbishment. But things that are in such a noticeable state of disrepair as some of the attractions above are in is simply unacceptable. It’s not only “bad show,” but it also seems like those little details that Disney used to care so much about before are now not even on their radar.
Which is why I am asking for a call to arms on this, guys and gals. If you see something wrong, if a show element is not working, if something needs repair…say something. Go to Guest Relations and let them know what you’re unhappy about. Let them know what needs to be fixed. In addition to that, it really helps if you voice your opinion publicly, such as here on MiceChat. Go to the forums and make a post about it. Tweet your feelings on Twitter. Make yourself heard.
Nothing will ever get fixed unless we voice our opinions on it.
Walt Disney World is a place I grew up loving, and still do to this day. I’m not pointing out these flaws to be mean and just to complain about something…I’m doing it because I genuinely CARE. No one wants to see something they love fall into such a sorry state. That’s why we need to open our mouths now, before it gets even worse.
We’re not looking to bash Disney, so make sure you voice your opinion in the most respectful way possible. It’s a place we all love, and we just want it to get better. We’re not out to get anyone…we’re out to help fix something that holds a special place in our hearts.
It wasn’t too long ago that Disneyland was in a similar state. But thanks to people being vocal about it, consistently and respectfully, it forced them to make a change for the better. They spent a significant amount of time and money to try to bring Disneyland back to a better working condition. And when they did that, the entire future of the resort moved in a direction that changed its prospects for the better. Look at it now! Disneyland has made major strides, looked toward its future, as well as maintained the legacy of its past, and have been breaking records for both attendance and profits.
If we Walt Disney World fans want to have a higher quality product on the East Coast again, we need to stop being afraid to speak our minds. Too much has been scaled back, too much has been left broken, and too much has been left unsaid. We’re slowly losing the magic that once made this place so wonderful. We need to get it back. So, please…help me up here on this soap box. There’s room for everyone. We just need to start being heard. The space in the comments section below would be a great start.
A big thank you to fellow MiceChat contributor King Eric for the use of his photos and his vigilant eye when it comes to these things!
by Jeff Heimbuch
If you have a tip, questions, comments, or gripes, please feel free email me at [email protected] or leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!
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Jeff co-hosts the weekly VidCast Communicore Weekly as well!
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