Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Country Bears Covered In Pooh
Originally planned for the proposed Mineral King Resort that never made it thru funding, the elaborate, classy and character driven Audio Anima- tronics Extrava- ganza 'Bear Country Jamboree' debuted at Walt Disney World in 1971 where it's still delighting audiences. One year later Disneyland got its version of the show in a wilderness themed land all its own. In 2001 Disneyland's Country Bears were evicted and replaced by a Winnie the Pooh themed ride.
The tradition at Disneyland, inspired directly by Walt Disney, went like this: If you're going to replace an older attraction with a newer one make sure it's more elaborate, more sophisticated, more amazing than the one previous.
But with the new Winnie the Pooh attraction this wasn't going to be the case. As with most corporate culture decisions at Imagineering over the last decade, this addition to Disneyland was inspired by greed and built on the cheap; an attraction with no interest in entertainment and every interest in cashing in on Pooh Mania, the MBA Bean Counters deciding that the Pooh craze was hot-hot-hot and with an attraction like this they could move even MORE Pooh Plush.
The 'Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh' is little more than a cynical ride past several Disney Store shop windows geared entirely at showing the newest line of Pooh Merchandise. Forget sophisticated audio animatronics, forget a fully realized dimensional world, forget clear storytelling. If slogging past wobbly wooden flats while sitting inside a giant carved out turd is your idea of fun then you will be delighted.
It's time to clean the Pooh off the streets of Disneyland and bring the original Country Bears out of retirement. Whether they're back at Disneyland or fill a corner in the appropriate backwoods portion of California Adventure, they're sorely missed; a testament to when Imagineers created intelligent whimsy and didn't scrimp on quality or showmanship.