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  1. #1

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    "Exorcism at DL", or "The Unhappy Medium"

    Do you believe in Ghosts? Disney sure does. Do you believe in spirits? Curses? Things that go bump in the night? They believe in them so much they must have hired an Exorcist at WDI; and he or she is workin' overtime expunging from DL these perilous threats to our delicate sensibilities and fragile natures.

    Ghosts, Spirits, and Curses are being forced out, to be replaced by the mundane, the homogenous, and sometimes tongue-in-cheek silliness.

    Big Thunder Mountain's original storyline had vengeful Indian spirits, awakened by the deep, greedy delvings of the gold-hungry prospectors, unleash their power over the elements and the mountain itself to extinguish the threat to their peaceful slumber. The thriving town of Tumbleweed was destroyed by flood and earthquake, and the miners were never seen again; their mine train returning to the station empty.
    In a later, softer, incarnation of the story, we see a young Inventor, Jason Chandler, builder of a fantastic new drilling machine try his new creation on Big Thunder Mountain. However, a cave-in traps 26 miners, and Chandler uses his machine to dig the miners out. He is successful, but loses his own life in the resulting massive cave-in caused by the new machine. This cave-in is so massive, it seals up Big Thunder for good--trapping himself and every trace of gold deep in the mountain forever. The town without any income, dried up.
    The newest, and most pathetic, backstory to the previously 'haunted' mine revolves around an indigent drunk. Old miner 'Sam' stumbed and fell into one of the abandoned ore cars while liquored up and went for a wild ride down the deserted shafts of the Big Thunder Mine. After emerging from the mountain, he told an Imagineer about his experience, and BTMRR was born. Consider BTMRR EXORCISED.

    Pirates of the Caribbean's cursed treasure that doomed all who dared lust after its corrupt wealth has been removed. Ironic in the sense that it was just this original 'cursed treasure' concept that inspired the storyline of the movie; the same movie that did away with the curse when additions to the ride were made to better reflect the movie's storyline (??). We now see Johnny Depp enjoying the formerly cursed treasure, free from consequences. Consider POTC's curse EXORCISED.

    The Haunted Mansion's is a haven for the spirits--surely one can find a little room for a scare here? Maybe not so much anymore. The attic has undergone many changes in its long History--but the most recent changes have taken the 'scare' out of the attic.
    Don't get me wrong, the new Constance storyline and accompanying effects are creative improvements to the Mansion. But are they 'scary'? No. The ominous beating heart, the pop-ups and blast-ups, the piercing eyes of a faceless bride--that's frightening. Now the few pop-ups there say 'I do!', the beating heart is gone, and the magnificent Constance AA (she really is remarkable, IMO) is campy, and tongue-in-cheek. Consider the Attic EXORCISED.
    Even the overlay that is supposed to exemplify Halloween, the night when Ghosts and Goblins have free reign over this world, is a cartoonish mockery of the spirit world. There are no scares in the NBC HM. It's cute, and silly and very entertaining; not scary. Consider the Haunted Mansion Holiday EXORCISED.

    These are just a few examples of what we see in the homogenization of DL. Watering down experiences so they can be more easily digested by a broader audience. The fallacious idea that DL Guests need to be spoonfed their attractions, and have such fragile psyches that 'hard facts', 'moral' commentary, and the supernatural dread of 'the Unknown' would clearly be too much for us to handle.

    It seems one of the few places one can get a good scare comes from unlikely sources: 'Snow White' still retains a scare factor for the kiddies, and the Dead Man's Caverns on PLOTSI where the 'scare' factor in some effects are well done--and yet again, an attraction specifically designed for children.

    Is this a conscious effort on Disney's part to eliminate the thrill of the good 'scare'? Is all this homogenization merely a coincidence? Is the 'dumbing down' of DL fact or fiction? Are we too sophisticated a society nowadays to enjoy a little taste of the supernatural? Does Disney think so? Do you think so?
    Last edited by fo'c's'le swab; 01-15-2008 at 10:23 AM.

  2. #2

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    Re: "Exorcism at DL", or "The Unhappy Medium"

    Great post Fo'C'. It is interesting how Disney does play up the haunted card.

    Please toss in the Tiki Room. The Thunder & Lightning was caused by the Gods being angry for all the celebrating.

  3. #3

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    Re: "Exorcism at DL", or "The Unhappy Medium"

    Quote Originally Posted by aashee View Post
    Great post Fo'C'. It is interesting how Disney does play up the haunted card.

    Please toss in the Tiki Room. The Thunder & Lightning was caused by the Gods being angry for all the celebrating.
    The 'scare' factor is still alive in the Parks, IJA comes to mind when I think of a good quality 'scare' attraction. But will it endure? The supernatural spookiness we have seen in the past may actually be a thing of the past. I hope that no one at WDI forgets that 'fear' is one of the most valuable resources an Imagineer has when designing an atrraction to 'thrill' a Guest. Not merely the animal sensations associated with being 'afraid', but the psychological impact that we all secretly crave (some not so secretly).

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    Re: "Exorcism at DL", or "The Unhappy Medium"

    Nice thread! I'm always interested in the "paranormal". This is very interesting!
    "Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world."
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  5. #5

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    Re: "Exorcism at DL", or "The Unhappy Medium"

    Quote Originally Posted by fo'c's'le swab View Post
    The 'scare' factor is still alive in the Parks, IJA comes to mind when I think of a good quality 'scare' attraction. But will it endure? The supernatural spookiness we have seen in the past may be a thing of the past. I hope that no one at WDI forgets that 'fear' is one of the most valuable resource an Imagineer has when designing an atrraction to 'thrill' a Guest. Not merely the animal sensations associated with being 'afraid', but the psychological impact that we all secretly crave (some not so secretly).
    I don't think the supernatural factor will ever die at Disneyland. This is assuming they still give half a diddly about themeing, but that for another topic. There are only a few way of explaining why a roller coaster is going so fast. If you have the luxury of being an amusement park without theme, who cares, it's a fast roller coaster.

    On the other hand, Disneyland has to create a side story as to why something is happening. Why is the IJA ride so rough and crazy? Because you looked into the eye of a haunted idol. Why does BTMRR have runaway trains? Because they are on cursed ground.

    This is absolutely what sets Disney apart from the rest. WHile many are afraid by the thrills along, Disney takes it one step farther by explaining WHY the ride is thrilling.

    For these reasons I don't think Disney will ever pull away from supernatural themes.

  6. #6

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    Re: "Exorcism at DL", or "The Unhappy Medium"

    Well, Chernabog summons up the dead in Fantasmic!

    Mwahahaha

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    Re: "Exorcism at DL", or "The Unhappy Medium"

    Disney its bid to do all it can to not offend is doing all it can to remove humor. Freud explained with infinitesimal detail how it was impossible to create a joke or humor that did not hurt someone. All humor has in the background the sharp knife that separates the recipient from the object of the joke. Disney by trying to make DL neutral is in fact left with the need to remove the joke from the show.

    While abhor the practice as it occurs at DL I must also blame the guest. If we are unable to laugh at ourselves we have truly become lesser people than our parents. Many comics made a living telling 'Jewish' jokes to a mainly Jewish audience. There are many other examples in the history of comics. My point is we seem to have lost the ability to laugh at ourselves.

    The people who complain about being offended by 'ghost' references are no worse than the guest who find offense at petty mistakes or errors made by the cast during their stay, and there are plenty of examples of those complaints posted on this board. We all could lighten up a bit. I have no idea who is offended by the supernatural references but they are no worse than the people who complain about whatever else offended them.

    Swab is right Disney is kicking out the ghosts, but perhaps the kick should be pointed at a different target.
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  8. #8

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    Re: "Exorcism at DL", or "The Unhappy Medium"

    While I believe you are spot on regarding Pirates, I'm not sure if I agree with you about BTMRR. Since it is a roller coaster, you aren't explicitly made aware of the story. I have to admit, I've never even heard the current backstory that you mentioned. I don't think any changes to the ride have accompanied these story changes, have they? Even though the story may me watered down, I don't think it's fair to say the whole ride has been watered down if no physical changes have been made. I doubt most people riding are even aware of this backstory or have any clue that BTMRR was ever anything more than a runaway train through an old mine.

  9. #9

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    Re: "Exorcism at DL", or "The Unhappy Medium"

    Quote Originally Posted by mousechild View Post
    Swab is right Disney is kicking out the ghosts, but perhaps the kick should be pointed at a different target.
    Good post MC but I wanted to focus on this sentence.

    Disney is NOT kicking out the ghosts. Tower of Terror perfectly illustrates this with ghost references throughout the queue and ride itself. I'm not sure about Expidition Everest but I think that may have supernatural overtones as well.

    The problem today is now committees have to be formed to make sure no-one is offended. I guess this can be viewed and good since the Chevy Nova meant "no move" in Spanish. Either way, you have to be very touchy because news agencies love doing stories on the poor people that were offended by a dead person theme.

    Good post MC and interesting topic Fo'C'

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    Re: "Exorcism at DL", or "The Unhappy Medium"

    Good post Swab. A very curious topic indeed. We seem to be living in a touchy, dont offend anyone society. That gets kind of boring after a while.

    I dont fully agree with whats gone on in POTC. Some of the supernatural does seem to have been removed. But i hope Disney will not ever take out all of the supernatural aspects of its attractions...

    "The moose say's you're closed, i say you're open" Clark W. Griswold

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    Re: "Exorcism at DL", or "The Unhappy Medium"

    Quote Originally Posted by aashee View Post
    Good post MC but I wanted to focus on this sentence.

    Disney is NOT kicking out the ghosts. Tower of Terror perfectly illustrates this with ghost references throughout the queue and ride itself. I'm not sure about Expidition Everest but I think that may have supernatural overtones as well.

    The problem today is now committees have to be formed to make sure no-one is offended. I guess this can be viewed and good since the Chevy Nova meant "no move" in Spanish. Either way, you have to be very touchy because news agencies love doing stories on the poor people that were offended by a dead person theme.

    Good post MC and interesting topic Fo'C'
    But I think what Swab is talking about, and if he is I agree with him, is not the removal of 'ghosts' or 'haunts' themselves but the removal of the spiritual nature or background of the 'ghosts'. Your post about the Tiki room is spot on. What was removed was the idea that the physical manifestation was because the Gods were angry. Indian spirituality denotes a spiritual reason for each natural phenomena, there is a God behind the thunder, a God behind the wind and even a God inside the earth itself.

    Ghosts were mediums because they were a media for 'God' to communicate with man. They were a sign, a mandala, an omen from 'God'. That portion of the story is what is being removed.
    Last edited by mousechild; 01-15-2008 at 11:11 AM. Reason: I had an e e cummings monent that needed correction
    Quote Originally Posted by SummerInFL View Post
    Jesus, even I wouldn't eat that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wanda Woman View Post
    Turtle, the dorks are going to take upskirt robot pics.

  12. #12

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    Re: "Exorcism at DL", or "The Unhappy Medium"

    Quote Originally Posted by kirbilicious View Post
    While I believe you are spot on regarding Pirates, I'm not sure if I agree with you about BTMRR. Since it is a roller coaster, you aren't explicitly made aware of the story. I have to admit, I've never even heard the current backstory that you mentioned. I don't think any changes to the ride have accompanied these story changes, have they? Even though the story may me watered down, I don't think it's fair to say the whole ride has been watered down if no physical changes have been made. I doubt most people riding are even aware of this backstory or have any clue that BTMRR was ever anything more than a runaway train through an old mine.
    What you say about BTMRR is absolutely true, and that, to me, is what makes it so puzzling: to change a backstory away from its supernatural origins, when it clearly is obscure to the common Guest--in fact, I would wager most do not even know BTMRR even has a storyline--so why change it? Weird.

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    Re: "Exorcism at DL", or "The Unhappy Medium"

    Quote Originally Posted by mousechild View Post
    But I think what Swab is talking about, and if he is I agree with him, is not the removal of 'ghosts' or 'haunts' themselves but the removal of the spiritual nature or background of the 'ghosts'. Your post about the Tiki room is spot on. What was removed was the idea that the physical manifestation was because the Gods were angry. Indian spirituality denotes a spiritual reason for each natural phenomena, there is a God behind the thunder, a God behind the wind and even a God inside the earth itself.

    Ghosts were mediums because they were a media for 'God' to communicate with man. They were a sign, a mandala, an omen from 'God'. That portion of the story is what is being removed.
    Exactly--not only the 'spooky' supernatural, but the spirituality associated with 'supernatural' experiences. Is this, to Disney, straying TOO CLOSE to religious commentary?

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    Re: "Exorcism at DL", or "The Unhappy Medium"

    Quote Originally Posted by fo'c's'le swab View Post
    Exactly--not only the 'spooky' supernatural, but the spirituality associated with 'supernatural' experiences. Is this, to Disney, straying TOO CLOSE to religious commentary?
    I would hope that Disney, as well as us as a culture, have not gotten this soft.

    "The moose say's you're closed, i say you're open" Clark W. Griswold

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    Re: "Exorcism at DL", or "The Unhappy Medium"

    Yeah, most people I have talked to have no idea about any of the backstories of BTMRR. My favorite is still the original as it is the most imaginative. Plus it makes for a fun ride if you try and convince yourself it's real. =D

    Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep. mycroft16 on Twitter

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