|Good morning! Today we're starting something new with the column,
in response to your many notes and e-mails about both its length and
As content permits, of course, we'll now be publishing shorter
columns on a more frequent basis. While we still won't be able to
promise specific run dates, you should be able to see us more than
once a month on the site. There will also be more reviews and
commentaries about new additions to the Park, as many of you have
indicated you've missed these in the past.
So you got that orange juice squeezed, and the Danish microwaved?
Let's get going shall we? - Al
it's a mall whirl
You knew it was a bad idea when you first heard about it, but it
really takes a cruise through the newly reopened small world
attraction to understand just how misguided the new changes are.
Adding the Disney characters into the ride is something that only
the marketing people could love, because it sure doesn't do any
favors to the show itself.
The opening day
What once was a celebration of the children of the world has now
turned into a game of spot the character, which of course is now for
sale in plush at the exit in the gift shop. No time to enjoy the
various dolls, costumes or scenery, or try to listen to the language
the song is being sung in because it just might take you away from
spotting Mickey, Donald or Woody.
Particularly jarring for me are the new poorly arranged and
orchestrated musical counterpoints shoehorned into the soundtrack,
which make absolutely sure you cannot miss the characters by
grabbing your ears if not your eyes as you float by.
Where's Cher, Whoopi and Tim?
The Salute to America room, which replaced the rain forest
section, brings the whole thing to a disastrous conclusion. None of
the styles used in this section match anything else in the ride and
look like a garish cross between Green Acres the TV show, Little
Abner the movie musical and your local Hollywood video rental store.
It's right up there with the long shuttered Superstar Limo
attraction from DCA, in that it's such a pointless addition that it
might actually decrease your IQ as you float through it. It's too
bad riders aren't given sticks so they can beat the two pi˝atas that
are trying to pass for Woody and Jesse dolls here as they drift by.
Got your stick ready?
Which all these misfires it's hard to focus on the things they
got right in this rehab, a tweaked loading system, the refreshed
backdrops, a new sound system, a new lighting scheme for the finale
room, not to mention a nighttime light show that dances across the
fašade as the Disneyland Railroad crosses across the front of the
What would I have done differently? After all you can't complain
without offering some solutions of your own, right? The first thing
I would've done is made the character appearances seasonal, popping
into the attraction only during the holidays. Instead of the America
room I would have replaced it with a room full of children
communicating to each other in various ways, including the Internet,
exchanging messages of peace and welcome. It would be right way to
acknowledge the latest technologies in a dated attraction.
I think it speaks to just how bad this makeover is that someone
like myself, who has never been a big fan of this ride, nor of the
art direction within it, can get so upset over how poorly this was
done. To those that say the kids like it just fine, they should
remember they are on this planet to broaden horizons. To those
others who don't think it's a big deal just keep in mind that if
the suits succeed here, they will find other things to screw up.
While Imagineers crammed the new Characters inside the ride and
went crazy with glitter-glue and new paint, Cast Members from
Disneyland's Scientific Systems department spent the five week
winter rehab working on the software and mechanics that control the
loading area. Specifically, more work and software tweaks were
installed on the underwater track switch that controls which side of
the station boats are sent to at the end of the ride.
The pre-rehab boats...
That switch has been causing problems for several years now,
since allegedly more advanced software was installed on the 1960's
mechanism prior to the 50th. That station track switch is the weak
link in a famously high capacity attraction, and over the last
holiday season it had been preventing the ride from reaching the
people-eating rate of 2,500 riders per hour that it is capable of.
The attraction reopened for the Christmas season with high hopes
that problems with the track switch had been solved, but it was
still causing jammed boats and backups over the holidays. Those
problems have at last hopefully been solved with the latest round of
software edits, and while the Park hasn't been busy because of the
rainy weather, the early results from this past weekend looked very
...the new boats.
With the new and more buoyant boats and slightly deeper flume
that was installed last year, the once-constant problem of bottomed
out boats has now been banished from the ride. The heavier riders of
the 21st century can now load up on all the churros they want
without fear of causing stuck boats and embarassing escorts out of
the backed up ride. And with the extra attention paid to the station
track switch, it looks like it's a small world has re-joined the
ranks of the highest capacity E Tickets at the park and can once
again pull in over 30,000 riders per day.
CD Box Set: Walt Disney and the
1964 World's Fair
Walt Disney with a model of the
World's Fair small world ride building.
Ironically, while the Walt Disney Company trashes one attraction
from the 1964 world's fair, it honors it and three others in a new
five CD box set. First assembled by the late Imagineer Bruce Gordon
to be sold at Disneyland in its burn on demand CD kiosks, this set features more
than three hours of recordings from those exhibits and shows along
with a 24 page full-color booklet.
Below is a listing of what is on the five discs:
- Progressland: Behind-the original World's Fair scenes
recordings and original music from the Progressland Exhibit,
featuring a never-before released production of Carousel of
- Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln: Experience the sounds
of the original Illinois Pavilion. As a special treat, you'll
hear the original recording sessions of the man who gave Mr.
Lincoln his voice (Royal Dano) and listen to the lavish original
score by Disney legend Buddy Baker also presented as individual
- "It's A Small World": Includes the original demo
recording of the legendary song as well as isolated vocals and a
grand master mix of the varied international interpretations of
the famous tune directly from the attraction soundtrack. Also
included is a tour of this charming "little boat ride" with Walt
Disney as your guide.
- Magic Skyway: Takes you on a time-traveling "road
trip" with Walt Disney as he personally escorts you through the
Age of Dinosaurs, the ascent of man, and to the distant future.
- Bonus Disc: Carousel of Progress - Alternate Universe
While this compilation has long been available in many different
unofficial and bootleg versions, this is the first time it has been
properly mastered from the original full-length multi-track sources and
annotated so lavishly. If you are a fan of the CD box set that was
assembled for Disneyland's 50th anniversary, I'm sure you will find
this new package just as exciting and as good a value.
Originally this set was
solicited to retailers with Bruce Gordon's original title
for it, Disneyland Goes to the World's Fair. The title was
later changed to avoid confusing retailers and customers.
Originally scheduled to be released today, it has been pushed
back to March 24th. The main reason I bring it up in this column is
because I feel quantities will probably be limited, and it may be
difficult to find after their initial release sells through.
The story of the massive Team Disney Anaheim executive layoffs is
still being fleshed out, as the resignations are understandably
being played very close to the vest now. It should be noted however
that this is primarily good news all around, and many long time TDA
insiders are giddy with excitement over what this means for
refocusing on the true mission of the Resort as a theme park and
We'll have more on these layoffs for you in the next update, but
the thinning of TDA's clueless executive herd is already being
heralded as a big step in the right direction.