Note: *sigh* I never thought i'd live to see this day. This was an article posted on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette's website at 11:28 this morning.
The Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood of Make-Believe ride at Idlewild and SoakZone has ended its run and will be revamped for 2015 with the new theme of “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” PBS’s successor program to “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
The old Neighborhood of Make-Believe ride, which opened in 1989 and featured animatronic versions of King Friday XIII, X the Owl, the Platypus family and Daniel Striped Tiger, concluded its 25-year run at the end of the 2013 season.
For 2014, a costumed version of the Daniel Tiger character will appear at Idlewild daily, noon-7 p.m., in the area of the old ride.
In conjunction with the South Side-based Fred Rogers Company, Idlewild plans a new “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood”-themed attraction for 2015 in the same location along with a live-action show featuring Daniel and other characters from the PBS Kids series.
Jeff Croushore, Idlewild public relations manager, said the common thread between the late Fred Rogers’ show and “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” is the trolley. So the new attraction will retain the trolley ride while changing the rest of the existing attraction to represent the new series.
“The Fred Rogers Company has moved forward with the new series and kids really identify with the new series,” Mr. Croushore said. “Of course everyone in the region loves ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ but we wanted to reach out to the kids of today. They know and they love Daniel and we wanted to make an update and move forward with Daniel.”
Some consideration was given to keeping the old ride open during the transition year.
“We thought maybe we could include Daniel this year and still have the old ride,” Mr. Croushore said, “but it was a mutual decision between the Fred Rogers Company and Idlewild that we didn’t want to mix the brands when making the switch. So we ultimately decided to move forward with Daniel.”
The move at Idlewild mirrors the fate of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” on PBS where it was downgraded from daily airings to weekends in 2009 with some stations not carrying the show at all.
Meanwhile, “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” an animated series featuring the children of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe characters, has become a popular PBS Kids program that already has spawned books, toys and music albums.
Idlewild and SoakZone opens May 22 for its 137th season.
Any contributions: concept art, images, Behind-the-Scenes construction videos, ANY new information about the ride that comes forth over the next year would be greatly appreciated.
NOTE: If you are seeing this article by November of 2015, you may request that it be closed.
EDIT 3/13/14: I should have done this before. For those of you who no idea what I'm saying, this should help you: http://neighborhoodarchive.com/misc/other/idlewild/