Al Lutz 8/25: The Reluctant Dragon
The Reluctant Dragon
[ . . . ] The good news is that the dragon has been running through his paces correctly in recent days, and the delay now is more about waiting for unique valves and replacement parts for the ferocious fire breathing effect and the need to get in some quick rehearsal time before the public debut. Barring any unplanned setbacks, the dragon could appear later this week. [ . . . ] Expo Expectations
Shortly after the dragon arrives, the massive D23 Expo sets up shop across the street at the Anaheim Convention Center and the anxiety level is rising by the day for the Burbank planners behind the event. Jay Rasulo recently took a tour of Disneyland and DCA with a gaggle of Imagineers to familiarize himself with the property and upcoming projects, as Jay is infamously uninterested in the theme park side of his business and he realizes he needs to brush up on his Disneyland geography before he tries to speak knowledgeably about it in front of thousands of fans.
It's no longer much of a secret that Disney will use the Expo to announce the revamped Star Tours ride coming to Disneyland in 2011 that we've told you about, with that official announcement coming during Jay's speech on September 12th. It's also not a secret that WDI will use their exhibit space to showcase the highly advanced animatronics figure coming to the Mr. Lincoln show this December, with his ability to move facial features, hands and fingers noticeably more realistic than anything WDI has done before.
The DCA expansion, particularly quite a bit of new artwork and insight into the massive Cars Land area, will also be on display at the D23 Expo. They will also be trying to showcase some WDW plans at the Expo; however the leaked blueprints for Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland and the smaller budget that project now is getting has left some Imagineers wishing they could just ignore Florida for the time being.
What is unknown is what else they might throw out for the Disneyland fans at D23, or at least admit is coming to Anaheim in the next year or two. Under the caring supervision of Tony Baxter as Disneyland's assigned creative executive, there are quite a few small and mid-sized projects winding their way through the budget process and headed to Disneyland in 2010 and 2011, while DCA gets the bigger mega-projects as part of its extreme makeover in 2010 through 2012.
There's already a short list of things in final design and approval stages for Disneyland that would put fans in a frenzy at D23, such as Captain EO being shoehorned back into the old Magic Eye Theater for a limited run. There's also the imminent return of the Hat Box Ghost to the attic in Haunted Mansion (after this year's Holiday overlay is removed in January), with slick digital technology improving the clunky mechanical effects of 1969 that evicted that ghost and his hat box from the house in the first place.
Assuming that Consumer Products and the Studios can keep the momentum going on the young Fairies franchise, a Tinker Bell and Fairies themed dark ride is now slated for the old Motor Boat Cruise lagoon early in the next decade. And this winter when the Rivers of America is drained for several months, Tony Baxter is looking forward to adding back a lot of the animatronic wildlife and storytelling drama that has slowly been removed from Frontierland over the last two decades.