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  1. #1

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    WDW Since 1994...Reasons to be Happy

    Recently we had a thread about top mistakes at WDW. Certainly, the resort today has declined in many ways since I first visited it in the 1980s. In 1994, 20000 Leagues was dismantled, and this began a decade (or more) of great rides being torn down or replaced with inferior versions of themselves, as well as many other changes that have caused grievance to fans like myself. But in all fairness, there have been many good things that have also happened since then...and I felt a thread recognising these, would be appropriate.

    Things to be happy about since 1994:

    1. Animal Kingdom. The concept for this park isn't exactly new...but the Disney difference, compared to its predecessors like Busch gardens, is quite palpable. Most of this park is truly beautiful, and unlike the other three parks, feels fresh and vibrant. A Disney experience unique to Orlando...and one that promises to get only better.

    2. Tower of Terror. OK...the concept for this originates in an era before 1994...but let's include it. I haven't been on any other Tower of Terror...and I must say that the architectural details of the one in Tokyo look fabulous. But the vista down Sunset Boulevard, and the queue through the garden, give this TOT a special presence and ambience, which as far as I can tell, hasn't been duplicated anywhere else. Not to mention, this ride took the age old, tired concept of drop rides and turned it into a truly memorable visual and sensory experience.

    3. Kilimanjaro Safaris. A ride bigger than the Magic Kingdom...it boggles the mind. And the finest environmental theming at any theme park anywhere.

    4. Expedition Everest. A glorious exception to the rule that every new theme park ride must be tied to the latest Pixar or Disney release. I heard the complaints about this ride...about the unthemed backside, or that it wasn't covered in real rock like Mt Prometheus, etc etc. But seeing it for the first time, all I could think was...what an amazing, beautiful structure. It was a beautiful cool April day...and the cloud effect at the top of the mountain was working just fine (I have heard that it doesn't always). Those of you who have seen the real Everest will know that clouds really do blow of the summit just like that...how cool! And all this...for a roller coaster! - This is why I love Disney. This is why I ride a roller coaster at Disney parks, and not six flags.

    5. Mickey's Philharmagic. IMO, the best 3-D movie Disney has ever made. I don't get tired of it no matter how many times I see it...it is both humorous and uplifting. During scenes such as the one from Aladdin I even get the sensation of motion even though I'm just sitting on a stationary theater chair...neat!

    6. Tomorrowland 1995. In the early 1990s, the Tomorrowlands of both MK and DL were both to be remade in the likeness of the new Discoveryland at Euro Disney. Then Euro Disney started to hemorrhage money...and budgets got slashed. But the imagineers still managed to give Tomorrowland a unified look...and although personally I would have preferred to keep the older look, as they have done in Tokyo...I must admit that the new look, isn't half bad. This colorful "Buck Rogers" type look has also IMO provided an appropriate foil for the newer toon based attractions that are now populating the land. If you have to work with a shoe-string budget...as Imagineers unfortunately occasionally do these days...then results like this are something to be grateful for.

    7. Pioneering technology. Some truly neat technologies have debuted at Orlando in the last 14 years, like the interactive guns of Buzz Lightyear or the Test Track ride system. Yes, Buzz at Disneyland or JTTCOTE at TDS are improvements on these...but that's how it should be! Later iterations of rides should always be better than the originals. But the originals themselves, were / are still quite good works of imagineering...that still draw great crowds more than a decade on.

    8. Good imports. The West Coast has sent some fine rides and shows our way these past 14 years...like Fantasmic and Soarin, in particular. Yes yes we've all heard the complaints..."There's no Peter Pan!"...or "Why are we Soarin over California...in Florida?" Personally, all I would say is that I have nothing but positive memories from my experience with these attractions in Orlando. Fantasmic works so well as a climax to a day at DHS...and Soarin manages to thrill without ever a harmful G force, something I for one greatly appreciate.

    9. Seas with Nemo. Pixarification is a fact of life these days...and there are many thematically inappropriate intrusions by Pixar. But The Seas with Nemo is, IMO, Pixarification done right...contextually appropriate, it makes this pavilion fresh and relevant to a new generation without changing the basic edutainment ethos of the original. And the two attractions here are both very well done. Crush is the best interactive show so far..and makes a lot more sense at The Seas than at DCA or HK. The Nemo ride has an excellent queue, and the underwater projection technology works the way it should.

    10. Ride refurbishments...may only happen once in a blue moon, but occasionally, such as that with the Haunted Mansion...they end up exceeding expectations. Even those who dislike the ending of SSE should admit that the first 3/4 of the ride looks better than it ever has. Which gives me great hope for the future and future refurbishments like Space Mountain.

    Well, that should do it for now. I could go on, but I think I've spent enough of my evening on this There's a lot of things that have gone downhill at O-town over the years, but we should not forget to count our blessings. WDW flawed as it is, remains for me a special place, and I have enjoyed every visit. These are some things I am happy about...please feel free to add yours.
    Last edited by tasman; 07-03-2008 at 07:27 PM.
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  2. #2

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    Re: WDW Since 1994...Reasons to be Happy

    Quote Originally Posted by tasman View Post
    5. Tomorrowland 1995. In the early 1990s, the Tomorrowlands of both MK and DL were both to be remade in the likeness of the new Discoveryland at Euro Disney. Then Euro Disney started to hemorrhage money...and budgets got slashed. But the imagineers still managed to give Tomorrowland a unified look...and although personally I would have preferred to keep the older look, as they have done in Tokyo...I must admit that the new loo, isn't half bad. This colorful "Buck Rogers" type look has also IMO provided an appropriate foil for the newer toon based attractions that are now populating the land. If you have to work with a shoe-string budget...as Imagineers unfortunately occasionally do these days...then results like this are something to be grateful for.
    I enjoy the MK Tomorrowland more than any other with the exception of Discoveryland. Now, if the entire land had been done in the Buck Rogers-ish theme, and not just the Avenue of Planets and Rockettower Plaza, then I would put it above Discoveryland. The land is absolutely stunning at night with it's bright colored lights illuminating the area.

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    Re: WDW Since 1994...Reasons to be Happy

    I'll add Rock'n'Rollercoaster to that list and Expedition Everest as well. Everything else I agree with, but I'm afraid I can't add much else aside from new rides.


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  4. #4

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    Re: WDW Since 1994...Reasons to be Happy

    I was on the "Shut it DOWN!" bandwagon when it was in the news a lot, but Mission Space should probably be up there. Yeah, okay, they ratcheted the motion up too hard, but the non-spinning one is great.

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    Re: WDW Since 1994...Reasons to be Happy

    Quote Originally Posted by Coheteboy View Post
    I'll add Rock'n'Rollercoaster to that list and Expedition Everest as well. Everything else I agree with, but I'm afraid I can't add much else aside from new rides.
    I haven't been on Rock N Roller Coaster so I can't really comment with full authority. But I don't think it fits within the context of Sunset Boulevard. The exterior might look neat in a different context but doesn't fit with the elegant art deco of its surroundings. And the ride itself has nothing to do with the magic of the movies or with the golden age of Hollywood.

    As an aside...here's my idea of something more appropriate: do you remember the Dick Tracy concept that was supposed to feature EMVs outfitted with Buzz-Lightyearesque guns? While the idea of guests "shooting" at gangsters might have been too distasteful for a family park, a roller coaster riding through such a shootout might work very well...and would fit quite well within a 1930s / 40s themed context.
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    Re: WDW Since 1994...Reasons to be Happy

    Quote Originally Posted by MickeyMania View Post
    I was on the "Shut it DOWN!" bandwagon when it was in the news a lot, but Mission Space should probably be up there. Yeah, okay, they ratcheted the motion up too hard, but the non-spinning one is great.
    I haven't been on Mission : Space yet, but something about a nausea-inducing centrifuge doesn't appeal to me. The exterior of the pavilion, on the hand, is an exceptional piece of theming.

    Again...just my armchair imagineering opinion of what this ride should be: according to Jim Hill (and I know, some people here won't believe anything he says)...the original concept for this ride was a "spacewalk" where guests would glide through the cosmos on a kuka-arm. That sounds excellent to me (the Harry Potter ride at IOL should be a similar experience). Maybe it could even employ an option like the kuka-arm Knights attraction at Legoland, where guests can choose the intensity of their ride...the same kuka-arm being able to function at different speeds.
    Last edited by tasman; 07-03-2008 at 08:40 PM.
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    Re: WDW Since 1994...Reasons to be Happy

    Quote Originally Posted by tasman View Post
    I haven't been on Rock N Roller Coaster so I can't really comment with full authority. But I don't think it fits within the context of Sunset Boulevard. The exterior might look neat in a different context but doesn't fit with the elegant art deco of its surroundings. And the ride itself has nothing to do with the magic of the movies or with the golden age of Hollywood.

    As an aside...here's my idea of something more appropriate: do you remember the Dick Tracy concept that was supposed to feature EMVs outfitted with Buzz-Lightyearesque guns? While the idea of guests "shooting" at gangsters might have been too distasteful for a family park, a roller coaster riding through such a shootout might work very well...and would fit quite well within a 1930s / 40s themed context.


    While I agree that the exterior of the ride is pretty haphazardly done, I think the attraction itself works for the area. Sunset Blvd (the real one) isn't just movies so I can definitely see that a Recording Studio fit into the area, and it's a realm that the park itself was going towards anyhow.

    But you're right that it doesn't quite match the surroundings. That would be my one criticism. Second would be that it's too darn short.

    I remember the Dick Tracy concept was meant for Disneyland... not sure where but it was announced on the air at some point (The Disneyland Story tv show). I would love to see that finally come to fruition.

    As for Mission:Space... I loved it.


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  8. #8

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    Re: WDW Since 1994...Reasons to be Happy

    Count me in as another Mission: Space fan.
    Even though it was planned before '94, I'll add Blizzard Beach to the list too.

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    Re: WDW Since 1994...Reasons to be Happy

    Quote Originally Posted by Coheteboy View Post
    I remember the Dick Tracy concept was meant for Disneyland... not sure where but it was announced on the air at some point (The Disneyland Story tv show). I would love to see that finally come to fruition.
    I think the movie itself was only average but the sets were some of the most atmospheric ever created IMO and a perfect backdrop for a ride at the Studios. Here are some pictures...first three were posted by Alain Littaye on his blog...I have shrunk them down to fit here. Wouldn't these sets look awesome with an indoor roller coaster (and as opposed to the somewhat sparse theming of RNRC)? The last pic is a plan of unbuilt Disney-MGM Europe with the Dick Tracy ride labeled as "Gangster Shootout." The blue building to the left of it is The Great Movie Ride...from this one can see that the DT ride would have had roughly the same size footprint as Rock N Roller Coaster.






    As for Mission:Space... I loved it.
    I'll try to find some pics of the original kuka-arm concept...I had them somewhere but can't find them just right now.
    Last edited by tasman; 07-03-2008 at 08:43 PM.
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    Re: WDW Since 1994...Reasons to be Happy

    O_O

    I wanna see that Dick Tracy ride in real life!


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  11. #11

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    Re: WDW Since 1994...Reasons to be Happy

    Honestly, three letters: DAK.

    Beyond that, I think WDW has done nothing but head downhill since the mid-90s.

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    Re: WDW Since 1994...Reasons to be Happy

    Here's an image of the kuka arm version of Mission Space that I was talking about. Guests would float through space on chairs held by kuka arms. Personally I think it was a much nicer concept than a centrifuge.
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    Re: WDW Since 1994...Reasons to be Happy

    I missed out on WDW between 1990-1996. I hit up MGM when it first opened with the extended backlot tour and then moved was overseas and caught Euro-Disney's opening and attended that park multiple times for the first couple of years. When I finally made it back to WDW, the wand and tombstones were up in Epcot, the Polynesian pool was gone, and River Country had a fence around it.

    I went to the Magic Kingdom for the first time in years a couple months back. I had no idea the Aladdin ride was where it was. I didn't know Stitch or Monsters Inc were in Tomorrowland.

    MGM has a lot more closed buildings than I remember and Animal Kingdom is Disney-fied zoo. Don't get me started on the Disney Parks merchandise...

    But what's improved from 10 years ago?

    ....

    I'm going this weekend with my 10 year old niece. Maybe I need a different perspective. I really hope there's something, because if nostalgia is all that's keeping me going to the parks and resorts, that's only going to last so long before it wears off. I've got my annual pass and I'll make the most of it.

    P.S. Digging on the TS signature. Down with the hat indeed.

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    Re: WDW Since 1994...Reasons to be Happy

    Quote Originally Posted by tasman View Post
    6. Tomorrowland 1995. In the early 1990s, the Tomorrowlands of both MK and DL were both to be remade in the likeness of the new Discoveryland at Euro Disney. Then Euro Disney started to hemorrhage money...and budgets got slashed. But the imagineers still managed to give Tomorrowland a unified look...and although personally I would have preferred to keep the older look, as they have done in Tokyo...I must admit that the new look, isn't half bad. This colorful "Buck Rogers" type look has also IMO provided an appropriate foil for the newer toon based attractions that are now populating the land. If you have to work with a shoe-string budget...as Imagineers unfortunately occasionally do these days...then results like this are something to be grateful for.
    I personally think that MK's Tomorrowland's is one of the ugliest sections in any Disney theme park. "Unified" yes...the Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor and Stitch's Great Escape match. Other than those atrocities, there is Buzz and Space Mountain which pale in comparison to DL's; TL Indy Speedway, another sad version of Autopia; and the Carousel of Progress, a beloved attraction which is now in such disrepair and has such low attendance that it is painful to watch.

    8. Good imports. The West Coast has sent some fine rides and shows our way these past 14 years...like Fantasmic and Soarin, in particular. Yes yes we've all heard the complaints..."There's no Peter Pan!"...or "Why are we Soarin over California...in Florida?" Personally, all I would say is that I have nothing but positive memories from my experience with these attractions in Orlando. Fantasmic works so well as a climax to a day at DHS...and Soarin manages to thrill without ever a harmful G force, something I for one greatly appreciate.
    Unfortunately, as you have already stated, all of these West Coast imports do pale in comparison to the DLR versions.

  15. #15

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    Re: WDW Since 1994...Reasons to be Happy

    This is a great - positive thread!

    Definitely Soarin' is one of the best things at WDW today.


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