It’s that time of year again to once again sluff off the cynicism and be thankful for our many blessings. Since its inception nearly three years ago, Re-Imagineering has witnessed much to be thankful for and it never hurts to remind ourselves of the many projects going right in the world of Imagineering.
Our first howl of disapproval was that giant Mickey Wand gracing the sleek lines of Spaceship Earth at Epcot Center. It seemed to exemplify all the tacky turns for the worse the stateside Disney parks were all suffering through. Now it is gone. The collective sigh of relief that followed undoubtedly spiked global warming to it’s most dangerous levels yet.
Where once the submarine lagoon at Disneyland sat dormant for nearly a decade, it resurfaced last year in fine fashion. We may whine that the Nemo and Friends overlay is more Fantasyland than Tomorrowland, but the love infused by animators and designers shines through, diluting that argument substantially. The subs are back, and that’s cause for celebration enough.
Expedition Everest, a classy, carefully researched and finely detailed attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, was a call-back to what Imagineers do best. Opening in early 2006, it’s another jewel from the team of Joe Rhode, an Imagineer that truly ‘gets it’. Walt is smiling and so are we.
California Adventure got the new name, ‘Walt Disney’s California Adventure’, and the new infusion of more than a billion dollars of capital. Finally this glowering mis-mash mall of the cheap will become the romantic sun-kissed orange blossom state of Walt’s 1920’s arrival, all mission-style tile roofs, red-cars and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
Walt’s own California Adventure will, of course, be only be the beginning. John Lasseter is overseeing Car’s Land, a giant slab of acreage celebrating the romance and lure of Route 66, while the beloved little mermaid Ariel will debut in her own E-ticket extravaganza sometime in 2010. What she actually has to do with California is a little bewildering, but what the heck, we’ll welcome her to the golden state regardless.
Though the work at WDCA will take years to complete, the fact that the brass at corporate are putting their money where our mouths are signals much to be thankful for. Already Paradise Pier has seen a swatch of Victorian Era gingerbread bloom along its shores with the opening of Toy Story Midway Mania and the recent draining of the area lake is a clear sign that work has already begun to re-tool for the planned water fountain spectacular ‘Disney’s Wonderful World of Color’. Let us bow our head and give thanks.
Say what you will about adding Disney-kin ready-to-order dolls to ‘It’s a Small World’, (and this blog certainly has) but when version 2.0 re-opens in early 2009 it will be cleaner, sound better and revive missing details not seen since the late 60’s. Perhaps refreshing those glittering details came with a deal with the devil, but we’re thankful for the spit and polish nonetheless and will try not to notice the price-tags affixed to those adorable Disney characters throughout the attraction.
Now that Obamania is in full swing and the country appears ready to proudly wave the red white and blue again, Disneyland’s Main Street is ready to highlight the long neglected ‘U.S.A.’ part of its title in the coming months. Up will go the banners and flags while the Opera House will welcome back a resuscitated Lincoln, this time possibly sharing the stage with Barack himself in a supporting role. Republicans and Democrats can now both unite and give thanks.
Back at Disney World, Space Mountain is slated for an infusion of some tender loving care in the near future and though it may not be the complete overhaul this classic deserves, every little bit helps.
The rumor mill is also closely monitoring the plans for a much needed re-tooling of Florida’s Fantasyland. Details are sketchy, but it appears hopeful that the entire land will undergo a complete makeover. Perhaps we should thank Harry Potter over at Universal for that one.
We also bow courteously to the ooky new sets and surreal sounds at the Haunted Mansion, the splash of Siemens all over Spaceship Earth, the newly refreshed bears at Country Bear Jamboree and the promise of things to come at The Hall of Presidents.
Finally this week marks the soft re-opening of a true gem at Disneyland’s Fantasyland, the retro ‘57 Eyvind Earle version of the original castle walk-thru not seen at Disneyland since the mid-70’s. Though this is a small animatronic-free series of intimate dioramas and not a splashy blast-em up E-ticket extravaganza, it remains a sterling example of Disney magic at it’s absolute finest.
Here quality, craftsmanship and artistry take the front seat and the effect is positively swoon-worthy. Mere thanks for this re-opened jewel-box doesn’t seem appropriate. Genuflect.
Happy Holidays from Re-Imagineering!