Friday, November 28, 2008

Tis the Season...


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!

.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Welcome back to blogland. We've missed the updates. It's good to see and hear about some of the changes going on. My family and I visited DL just prior to Halloween and got to check out the prospective changes for California Adventure. They look great. Can't wait to see them in place!

Anonymous said...

Yay! All of the changes going on make me smile uber wide. :D Tis a good time for Disney.

Spokker said...

It's telling that you mentioned the facade for Toy Story Mania but not the ride experience itself... :)

Anyway, have you heard the rumors about what a poor state Expedition Everest is in?

They say that when Joe Rhode visited the park they made sure to make sure everything on the attraction worked. After his visit, everything was broken again.

I don't follow WDW as closely as Disneyland, but I've heard a lot of discontent about the shape the Magic Kingdom is in.

PhantomPatriot said...

Wait Barrack is going to in Great moment's with Lincoln? I always thought it was just Lincoln himself.

I don't know, it just seems sad that people lose patriotism when they don't agree with the President.I don't agree with Barrack himself, but I am sure not going to lose my spirit of saying that America is the greatest country on Earth and that Americana is dead and gone, and I think that is how Walt would want it.

Gn2Dlnd said...

"the splash of Siemens all over Spaceship Earth"

Oh my, somebody get Spaceship Earth a towel!

(Thanks for the blog update, it's been far too long)

Anonymous said...

Is "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln" really going to feature an Obama figure? Isn't that a little premature? His election is historic, but we know nothing about his presidency. He could be another Franklin Roosevelt, or he could be another Jimmy Carter. People seem to forget that even Dub'ya was popular his first couple years in office.

Van said...

GREAT to see you guys return - especially with an article like this (which I'd suggests largely points to the fact that WDI is listening to comments on blogs like this).

I'm SURE you have no shortage of topics to blog about, but perhaps here's one that deserves its due attention: bad show.

Need to see examples? Check out the WEDWAY path in Tomorrowland, ride the monorail looking out the right side (of the forward motion) - both at Disneyland. Then hop over to WDW and again ride the resort monorail and count how many times you see junk/garbage/construction materials. -- There's plenty of other examples. I'll let you find them all! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I agree with PhantomPatriot -- Americans today seem far too unwilling to separate politics from patriotism (perhaps because politics now unfortunately infects and influences so much of our lives). The fact that a "thank god" re: our new President made it into this otherwise fine post might illustrate that. I didn't vote for Obama, but I'm still proud of my country. In the words of Dave Barry, maybe we all just need to drink more gin.

Mr Banks said...

The 'God Bless America' quip wasn't intended as a shout out to Obama, but the line has been changed regardless. The inclusion of Obama into Great Moments is still iffy, so we'll have to wait and see. In the interim we're delighted than Lincoln is coming back with or without our 44th.

Anonymous said...

Where did you get your Lincoln/Obama information? From the same place that Al Lutz did? That rumor has pretty much been quashed. They'll be lucky just to get enough budget to get Lincoln back on line. There's no way that they would cough up the funds to support an entirely new character and the additional show requirements.

I'm really getting the feeling that someone in WDI has been set up to feed misleading information in order to root out leaks. Better triple check your sources.

PhantomPatriot said...

Well I'm just glad that Lincoln will be back, the speech that he gives, hopefully not just the Gettysburg Address, and what precedes it, hopefully not some headphone thing, is what I am hoping to see be different.

Anonymous said...

Well, as Tony Baxter would apparently be involved, I expect that the update of Lincoln would result in an improvement similar in quality as what he did for the Castle Walk Thru.

Anonymous said...

Thank GOD something is being done about WDW's Fantasyland. It is truly underwhelming. It's way too small, cramped, desperately in need of seating, landscaping and atmosphere, and yes...ATTRACTIONS WORHTY OF THE NAME "FANTASYLAND". The only recent addition that deserves the title is the wonderful "Mickey's Philharmagic". I've read rumors about a Seven Dwarfs Minetrain ride (hopefully it'll have key scenes from the movie in it) and I hope that rumor at least is true. And when is Narnia going to be utilized? It should make an appearance in Fantasyland, or perhaps it could help the Beastly Kingdomme attraction we were promised and never given...?

/bsdb said...

There's no way that they would cough up the funds to support an entirely new character and the additional show requirements.

They have to "cough up the funds" for MK's Hall of Presidents anyway, so building a second animatronic wouldn't break the bank.

I heard a rumor awhile back that MK's show is getting overhauled with the addition of President Obama. If that's true, then Anaheim might be receiving a variation of the same show, minus the other Presidents.

Two-For-One is the Imagineering Way.

Anonymous said...

It's great that they've done this much before the market crashed and hopefully are pregnant enough to get some more done. Let's be thankful for sure.

However, I would not hold our collective breath on anything too far out right now. Disney has cancelled projects at the last minute on economic news in the past. If the planet is tanking they are not gong to do half of what they said months ago. They probably will design it so it's in the drawer but hold off funding it. I'm sure there's lots of stuff under construction they wish they could have stopped (Contemporary Hotel). As they have in the past, they will batten down the hatches and try to weather the storm, no frills. Operation Shorter Churros.

AARON GUILLERMO HALE said...

Hooray!! Did I read that right? A re-opening of Eyvind Earle's walk-thru?? God, I hope so. I just posted a blog about him and his fantastic art a few weeks ago!

Moochie said...

It was good to be reminded of all the good things happening in one post. Makes me feel much more optimistic...and makes me want to save the money to visit again!

Anonymous said...

/bsdb said...
" “There's no way that they would cough up the funds to support an entirely new character and the additional show requirements.

”

They have to "cough up the funds" for MK's Hall of Presidents anyway, so building a second animatronic wouldn't break the bank.

I heard a rumor awhile back that MK's show is getting overhauled with the addition of President Obama. If that's true, then Anaheim might be receiving a variation of the same show, minus the other Presidents.

Two-For-One is the Imagineering Way."



Building a second figure COSTS the same as building one. When a project’s budget is barely sufficient enough to get an existing attraction up and running, increasing the costs with a figure that has NO relevance to the attraction is not going to happen.

Yes, Epcot’s Hall of Presidents will be getting the upgrade, just as it does EVERY time there is a new president. However, the Lincoln show at Disneyland is SPECIFIC to Lincoln and is in no way supposed to represent any sort of general presidential showcase.

And, don’t be fooled into thinking that there is any real benefit to the “two for one” concept. It RARELY happens to provide any significant financial benefit, and often the second version (there have never really been identical copies) costs more than the first.

Anonymous said...

I doubt Lincoln will ever be brought back in a way that dignifies him or his message. He's been relegated to a role that pimps him as a bobblehead novelty of robotics, an arm waving curio in Disney's animatronics story. It's really sad that no one can write a good enough show so Lincoln could hold his own. Instead we add 3D audio "flies" in the theater, a talk show set, or worse, to be touted as the robot he is as an early effort of Walt.

Call Ken Burns now.

/bsdb said...

Building a second figure COSTS the same as building one.

But the design costs for the AA are factored into the first figure, which is a hefty percentage of the overall costs. Building a second one at the same time does not save in cost for materials, but there is some modest savings in tooling and labor.

Yes, Epcot’s Hall of Presidents will be getting the upgrade, just as it does EVERY time there is a new president. However, the Lincoln show at Disneyland is SPECIFIC to Lincoln and is in no way supposed to represent any sort of general presidential showcase.

Unless, of course, Disney decides to change the show in Anaheim, which is what the recent web rumors have been about.

I could easily see TDA importing a shortened version of the new MK show for the 55th in 2010. This Baxter revamp of the Opera House would cost less than a brand spankin' new made-from-scratch attraction, but still have solid marketing potential to increase attendance.

Even with the current economic woes impacting P&R's profitability for 2009, I'll be surprised if these plans don't move forward.

Anonymous said...

/bsdb said:

“But the design costs for the AA are factored into the first figure, which is a hefty percentage of the overall costs. Building a second one at the same time does not save in cost for materials, but there is some modest savings in tooling and labor.”



There are no real “design” costs. They use the same AA mechanics as the previous president, whose embodiment is applied to a new static frame. So, any new figure for another attraction would have to be completely built and programmed from scratch.


“Unless, of course, Disney decides to change the show in Anaheim, which is what the recent web rumors have been about. 

I could easily see TDA importing a shortened version of the new MK show for the 55th in 2010. This Baxter revamp of the Opera House would cost less than a brand spankin' new made-from-scratch attraction, but still have solid marketing potential to increase attendance. 



Even with the current economic woes impacting P&R's profitability for 2009, I'll be surprised if these plans don't move forward.”


As have been indicated elsewhere, those rumors of figure additions to the Lincoln show have been denied. The economic issues facing the company means there is little chance that they will be investing on a totally new show that would detract from the Lincoln show. Even securing the budget just to update the existing show will probably be challenging enough.

With Baxter being involved, I see a quality that has been missing for decades, return to the show.

Anonymous said...

We are making some real progress around here! YEAH Keep it up WDI and Disney HQ, remember the little things and remember
If you Build it well and with imagination, heart and soul while keeping to the principles of good showmanship, they will come. They will come!
Nostalgia sells very very well, especially in these uncertain times. People long for a place to escape the worries of everyday life. Stick to the tradition of what made the DisneyLands idea so popular, magical and special at the same time. Keep up the great work and lets continue to spread this magic to the all the Disney properties!

tonecapo said...

I cannot wait for those horrible obelisks are removed from EPCOT's entrance. They are truly a hideous money maker.

Stephanie said...

Oh Disneyland, oh Disneyland,
How you've made me smile
(For when the higher-ups listen
To those that really know)
It seems as though, I would go...walking each 400 miles

A thrill for me is that they see
the need for all the fuss
As Disneyland is, into itself
A place where magic is must

Verges of change are here to stay
though some will infact dismay
I however, will greet them each
As opportunity to play

A thanks be granted to those
Who simply know what they're doing
But beware you fine imagineers
or
else
Mickey Mouse will be booing

:)

Kirstin said...

Wait, the Country Bears are back? At Disneyland?? Wow that was my favorite show. I never quite forgave Pooh for what seemed like intrusion.

Anonymous said...

Thankfully, I never contracted Obamamania.

Steven said...

I for one lover the mickey hand on spaceship earth I gave it a dsiney charm. Im not saying that spaceship earth is plain but it could use something. When the imagineers come out with something new the datails are always great.