Just got back from D/MGM and EPCOT Center, where I spent a quick couple of hours checking out this year's Star Wars Weekends 2006 event and EPCOT's tamer version of Mission: Death, err.. Space, which I would lovingly like to call "Mission: Chickens in Space". Hahaha!!! I kill myself!!
First up. The geekiest event at WDW since the good old days of the Disneyana Conventions at the Contemporary.. "Star Wars Weekends 2006" Not to be confused with the frumpiest event in Nov or the gayest one next weekend in early June)... And when I say "geekiest" .... I mean it with LOVE since I am the Queen Geek of all things Disney, so look who's talking!!!
Arrived at MGM in mid afternoon and much to my surprise...the place was not as jammed packed as I expected it. As in previous years... you could not walk inside MGM when the Star Wars fans took over the place but I have to admit, I was shocked today was mildly crowded and not all that unpleasant. Of course.. I have to admit I am not a Star Wars fan and would be the last person to cry if Star Tours was given the pink slip, but today's event was simply low key. I have to admit further the only reason I went was to buy the event limited edition pin and Darth Vader Goofy plush for a friend, otherwise you would not be enjoying this little report. The highlight of the day: seeing Jake Lloyd from Star Wars Episode 1. Little Anakin is now grown up and a manly little man. Hubba Hubba. Short in height and cute as a button, he sat there autograghing away for fans of all ages and sexes. While he will eternally be remember as young Anakin Skywalker, I do hope he is able to shake that off and move on to other things in the entertainment field. Not sure what else he has done, but being as cute as he is... I would not mind seeing him do something else in the field.
Anyways... the usual stuff around the Studios... some Star Wars fans in character costumes, some of the (Disney-employed) character walkarounds posing with guests, the Jedi Academy show, photo ops with Jedi Mickey and Darth Maul and Vader...etc etc etc.
Studio Soundstage #1 (the former home to MMC, aka the show that launched Cristina, Justin and that tramp Britney) was transformed in the event's merchandise location. They also had some "pay" photo ops next to an X-Wing craft and other activities.
After about 45 mins in that area (seemed like most of the Star Wars event was confined to Mickey Ave.) I was bored and left for EPCOT to try the new tamer version of "Mission: Space".
Arriving at EPCOT, the lines at the front were a bit backed up but not as bad as I have seen on other days... and they moved expeditiously enough to be bearable. I headed straight (or gayly forward) towards Mission: Space, and immediatedly noticed the new signage out front by the ride. You are now required to make up your mind which way you'd like to do the ride: Intense or less-intense. If you want the full force version, then you choose to go on the "Orange" line. If you go on the tamer version, then you go on the "Green" line. A CM at the front of the line will ask which version you will ride and will provide you with a leaflet either green or orange in color with more advisories and lawyer-administered cautions. Later on, another CM will grab these leaflets from you and point you in the right direction. PLEASE NOTE: due to the dual ride version availability, the "single rider line" has been *eliminated*. Muahahahaha!!!!! Oh well.
Of course... the tamer version was posting a 5 min wait so I proceeded promptly and was immediately assigned into the briefing room, where we have to endure the Gary Sinese (sp?) spiel about training jada jada... But of course, this being WDW and this not being the perfect place it once was... the Gary intro came to a hault and nothing else happened. We stood there for about another 5 mins before a CM came thru the entrance to tell us they were having "technical difficulties" and would be moving to another briefing room... Bad news though... we had to watch that Gary video once again!!! Luckily, no one slashed their wrists at this point in time. The video has been edited so that new language refering to the tamer version was allowed to be inserted into it.
Anyways... we proceed to the final briefing before getting on the ride...Here, the last briefing video was re-edited and the part in which you are told to keep head against headrest and avoid looking sideways was edited out. From this point on... nothing else was different.
*SPOILERS** SPOILERS*** SPOILERS***
The ride itself remains exactly the same. Nothing in the ride's video has been changed. However.. there is no spinning at all. Yet, the sensation of speed is effectively achieved as the ride's pods tilt, shake and sway the same way they did before. The only difference I noticed was on launch. Seemed to me the pod tilted backwards much farther than it did before, allowing gravity to take over and achieving that "push" feeling we felt in the original version. The sensation of travel and light gravity was still effectively achieved with what was left there from the original version and in all honesty, it did not hamper the enjoyment factor one bit. I was still surprised at how well the ride plays throughout, especially at the ride's climax moments when your craft is about to land on Mars...the "drop" sequence as we decended upon Mars still gave me butterflies in my stomach. KUDOS!!!
Now... final thoughts on this. The ride does loose a bit of thrill without the spinning g-forces, however, the loss is so minimal, it doesn't really matter. I actually wondered for a second why not kill the intense version and leave the tamer version on permanently from this point on, but I realize Disney wants to give the vomit seekers something Universal is better at delivering. So I am OK in regards to living with both versions, and I feel this is one of Disney's best decisions of late to offer a tamer version of the ride.... However, there are still some restrictions to keep in mind. For example, pregnant women are still not allowed to ride the tamer version and I would not advise it either. For people who have hearing problems of are easily prone to dizziness due to ear problems such as ringing noise etc... I would not advise to ride either. Keep in mind that while your body is not being compressed against the seatback, you are still going to feel some "air time" in some portions of the ride.. so be cautions. Just in case, the vomit bags are still there just in case. Use them if you must, but aim away from me if we happen to share a ride...
...And that just about summs up my feelings on this topic.. and because I am nice I am sharing some of the pics I took today for your enjoyment.