Monday, December 03, 2007

Boy, Do We Need Them Now.

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."

-Douglas Adams

(L to R) Herb Ryman, Ken O'Connor, Collin Campbell, Marc Davis, Al Bertino, Wathel Rogers, Mary Blair, T. Hee, Blaine Gibson, X. Atencio, Claude Coats and Yale Gracey

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Tomorrow Is Another Day

No doubt about it. Re-Imagineering has gotten considerably quieter these past few days. The reason is simple; so much has been going right at Imagineering that the temptation to rain on anyone's parade seems counter productive.

The fiercely offensive Mickey Wand is now history. California Adventure will be getting a billion plus makeover. The Subs are back at Disneyland. Even Disney Studios Paris is turning over a new leaf.

With aggressive competition coming from Universal soon, Imagineering is eagerly stepping up to the plate. Every year for the coming ten will bring new and interesting surprises from coast to coast and creative management, two words that haven't earnestly been used together at WDI for nearly two decades, is pressing for quality at all costs.

Of course it's not all peaches and cream. Our watch-dog days here at Re-Imagineering are far from over. There are still walls to tear down and dreams to nurture. Passionate discourse and debate from our readers, the heart and soul of this site's campaign, has been the real fuel for change at Imagineering.

It's time attention was paid.

In the coming weeks some of the most dynamic and passionate voices 'behind the blog' will come front and center to remind us of much of the work that still has yet to be done.

Disneyland's Tomorrowland is a great start.

"The Astro Orbitor in DL is an example of ego gone wild. This overdressed, ripped off from 'The Dark Crystal' carnival ride was shoehorned into the available real estate by someone who should know better. Taller than Walt's castle right next door, with half it's animation broken for years and it's cheesy "plastic painted like metal" toy store finish, it clashes wildly with the rest of the hub. Not to mention the hideously out of place rock work that surrounds it, an obviously desperate attempt to somehow blend it all together.

Tear it down and give us the WDW Astro Orbitor or even the old Rocket Jets weenie with a new paint job. Put the Rocket Jets back where it belongs, atop the Peoplemover with brand new 3rd generation [vehicles] winding below. Walt was not wrong about the placement ... as it was it was truly thrilling unlike the current grounded model."
-David Smith

"Here's another great flop. The wet marble fountain.

When they designed it they didn't think people would actually go in and get wet. So they got two problems. One, it smelled like a sewer from sweat, dirt, urine and feces from children since they didn't chlorinate it, and they had soaking wet people sitting down in plush seats in 'Honey I Shrunk the Audience' and ruining them!

Then they chlorinated the water to lose the sewer problem and wound up rotting the rubberized pavement which was never designed for chlorinated water. Did anyone think ahead at all? If you've ever seen any of the REST of Tomorowland 2055 that Bruce Gordon worked on you'd see just how much was never built. INNOVENTIONS was never part of the original plan.."

"I think Imagineering can offer a lot more to revitalize Tomorrowland's tarnished reputation than a wholesale return to its past glories. It certainly needs the multilevel kinetic energy and atmosphere lost by the foolish removal of the People mover and the original skyline placement of the Rocket Jets. Tomorrow land would benefit hugely by the creation of an immersive attraction that does not rely simply on another animated character overlay. It needs something fresh and purely Disney in tone and execution, like Pirates or the Haunted Mansion. While I'm extremely pleased that the subs are returning, for both their crowd-relief and visual potential, I'd have preferred to see an original adventure of underseas exploration. Something to take us to a new places and immerse us in the sort of faux-scientific reality that used to make Tomorrowland the liveliest corner of the Park. That's what Mission to Mars/Moon and Inner Space provided and made them so popular in their time. A re-imagined, state of the art Inner Space Adventure would be fantastic. Put it in the center of the getting rid of Innoventions! It's like a big black hole looming over the area, sucking out all energy. Same with HISTA. If we must keep Star Tours, at least put a different film in each pod so the experience is fresher and more random."

"I've really thought that they should have fully embraced the 1967 aesthetic in their Tomorrow land revamp at Disney land. The LAX airport attraction is a perfect example of maximizing the theme. A Tomorrow land using this space-age googie aesthetic combined with the best of modern ride technology would be killer. Adventures Thru Inner Space with modern effects and ride systems? Sign me up right now. There's a way to embrace the design of the period without it being completely tongue-in-cheek and kitschy. It doesn't have to be loaded with obscure references. It just has to be cool. I would love to see every Tomorrowland allowed to retain a unique identity. There's been an alarming homogenization of Tomorrowlands in recent years that must be stopped and turned back. Finding a unique voice for DL would be a perfect start."

-Michael Crawford

"I visited Disneyland today for the first time in about a decade. While I enjoyed Space Mountain and Star Tours, Tomorrowland overall struck me as being somehow "broken". I didn't realize the Rocket Jets had been removed, and actually walked around confused for a moment looking for them. I really missed that Saturn V replica that looked so tall and scary to me as a child. Their replacement looks like a silly kiddie version that wouldn't have impressed me at 3, certainly not worth my time now.

Innovations was HORRIBLE. The opening speech made me feel like I had signed up to be in a commercial test audience. "And check out this new PEN PHONE. It even has a CAMERA. On the screen, pictures of Earth from space thanks to GOOGLE! Now go play on computers with...INTERNET GAMES!"

Ooooh! Aaaaah! I could have avoided the line and replicated the Innovations experience by pulling out my own mobile phone and surfing the web.

And how on Earth could Disney have eliminated CircleVision?!? I never once missed that when visiting in my younger years. I never got tired of the presentation. To this day it is something completely unique. The following should be brought back ASAP: Rocket Jets, CircleVision, and Carousel of Progress. If ASIMO is any good, put him in his own attraction.

• Tomorrowland Poster by Greg Maletic