29 March 2012

See it to believe it

The eyes of Magic Kingdom gazers have, for the most part, been focus squarely on the expansion of Fantasyland on the former sites of Mickey’s Toontown Fair and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea over the past couple of years. There have been grumblings and misgivings about what has been taking place along border of Fantasyland and Liberty Square, but those whispers have continually been swept under the rug and chalked up to the massive expansion of Fantasyland.

In case you haven’t heard ladies and gentlemen, the alpine lodge and clocktower, previously home to the Skyway, has finally come tumbling down. Is this news or noteworthy? Let’s find out.

Let’s step back over to the massive expansion of Fantasyland that is unfolding before all of our eyes. Granted, short of putting the entire land, either the expansion or current attractions, into a giant bubble that could be used to project background images upon, there are not a whole lot of options for covering up such a massive construction project. We accepted that the vista from Dumbo would have tournament tents and towering castle spires alongside mounds of dusty dirt and monstrous cranes. We accepted that there would be a few pieces of concept art left as our only window into one complete side of Fantasyland that was lined entirely by wooden walls. We accepted that the rat-tat-tatting of the jackhammers and booming thuds drowned out the well-crafted ambient background loop of music. We accepted all of this as common place and then allow the same indifference to be applied to the opposite side of the land that, in all honesty, had no tie to the work that has over taken the rest of Fantasyland.

The Fantasyland station of the Skyway, dormant for the better part of two decades, has finally reached the end of its run as the alpine anchor to the west side of the realm of Fantasy. I had fond memories of this space and felt it served a purpose and created a beautiful nook, even if it was vacant. Yet, that doesn’t mean I don’t understand the reason for its demolition. While I had hope for the station to be repurposed as a restaurant or some other suitable second opportunity, I am happy that the space is going to be put to good use. What I cannot understand is why on earth everything on this side of Fantasyland lays open and exposed, like a gory, festering wound.

If we apply the logic we have adopted from Fantasyland East, then great, this wall that is barely taller than I am serves as the perfect backdrop to hide the construction. Like the Great and Powerful Oz, we should pay no attention to the machinery, earthen mounds, and show buildings exposed just beyond our reach but not outside of our gaze. Sure, there is some sort of screen over the top of it that appears to be vegetation. The problem with that idea is that there is no longer any vegetation back there. But this isn’t the urban sprawl of expansion projects, it is a small corner that is being redeveloped as restrooms and a walkway, or so the reports are proclaiming.Stepping aside momentarily, we have apparently decided that cleverly concealing show buildings or access points is no longer a priority. Painting the backside of Everest brown or the backside of Dumbo’s new queue (the side that butts up against the Tomorrowland Speedway) green is not the same as labeling a door part of the Tommorrowland Light and Power facility for deliveries only. However, allowing the castle court façade to run out and leave the tail-end of it’s a small world hanging out is an even more egregious error.

Back to our regularly scheduled tirade, we learned just half a decade ago how masterfully a job could be done at encouraging imagination and masking intent with a simple wall. In fact, we have to go no further than just around the corner and into Liberty Square. When the Haunted Mansion was reworked in a number of ways, a brown wall appeared near its entrance. Slowly that brown wood took on the appearance of wooden wall and gate with brick pillars between the sections, complete with sculpted planters on top. Pinned to that gate was a letter from Master Gracey about the new spirits he was seeking out in the netherworld. It was a barrier meant to keep guests from seeing the realities of construction, but it was so much more to the eyes and minds that saw it. Even the photo realistic screens covering Main Street U.S.A., along with other lands, are better than a plain wall.

It does not take much to distract guests, and I include myself in this category. There are plenty of other sights, sounds and adventures to sink our teeth into, but that doesn’t mean the little things, like a true barrier, creatively designed to keep the machinery monsters away from the dreams of Never Never Land should be forgotten. The Skyway is dead, the least we could do is give this corner of Fantasyland some dignity while it is refurbished and treat guests to a bit more imagination.

1 comment:

Mini-V said...

Just remember, remodeling in one's home isn't pretty either during the construction phase. Patience grasshoppers.