04 June 2012

U.R. Daring

There was something I have been thinking on for about the past week, with the closure of Snow White’s Scary Adventure we have also lost another attraction in one of my favorite category of attractions. That is, rides whose vehicles that, no matter how similar they are in design, give each vehicle its own name.

The long-lost Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride employed the naming of the out of control motorcars after the chaps from The Wind in the Willow. The rafts of Tom Sawyer Island bear the names of well-known Twain characters. The Jungle Cruise’s steamers and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad’s runaway trains both exploit wordplay to give their vehicles clever names. And lastly, but not least, the dwarfs of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs were used on the front of the mine cars in Snow White’s Scary Adventures. More recent attractions give their ride vehicles well thought out designs and names, such as Time Rovers or StarSpeeder 3000s, but there aren’t a lot of individualized attraction vehicles.

I want take time for a quick aside to mention that while they aren’t unique vehicles, the assignments handed out to guests in MISSION: Space do have a similar feel to me. They give each guest a unique experience, but they aren’t entirely the same, are they?

While you may not think about it at the time, when you were boarding your Dopey mine car somewhere in your mind you realized there was probably someone with the same vehicle name already deep in dark forests of Snow White. Yet, I’m willing to bet, you stood in the queue waiting and wondering what vehicle you would get, and perhaps you even crossed your fingers to get a particular named vehicle. Does it change the attraction experience? Not one little bit, but that never stopped any of us from wishing and watching longingly as the vehicles took their last turn out of the exit and towards the loading area.

So, if they don’t add to the ride experience, why alter the details on the vehicles and give them names? I don’t know, it just always felt right, like something that should be happening. I’m not sure even the great brains of Imagineering could give you a solid answer as to why. Perhaps the inability to quantify the reasons to name the vehicles is why we haven’t seen any new individualized ride vehicles in quite some time. Not be able to explain why to do something isn’t, in and of itself, a reason not to do it.

Vehicles with names were a big part of visiting Fantasyland when I was a kid, and not just names but the colorful flying ships or Peter Pan or zany patterned tea cups of the Mad Tea Party. I can remember always wanting Moley or MacBadger cars in Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, for no other reason than I thought they were funny names. As an adult, traveling with my wife who rode a horse named Doc for years, I wanted Doc to be our mine car. These seemingly trivial details added an unquantifiable bit of magic or randomness that I loved about them.

Just as I kept my fingers crossed for a particularly named vehicle, I now keep my fingers crossed that as the parks grow, change and expand, that some of these nonsensical details make triumphant returns.


Jim said...

So true. The named ride vehicles enhances yet alleviates a degree of the building anticipation as we wait en queue. Our family loves watching the new cars come around the bend to see what color or what name we might receive. Unless I'm mistaken, they really missed an opportunity with the Honey Pots in Many Adv. of Pooh. I can only trust that the new mine trains in the 7 Dwarves ride will be named.

Thanks for your dedication to your blog!

Ellen said...

Great post!! I will truly miss these named ride vehicles. I'm not really sure why - but I always eagerly anticipated which car I would get, and feel a special connection with Doc after getting his car on my past two trips to WDW. I really hope the mine cars in the new Snow White ride carry on this naming tradition. It would be a sad thing if another one of these unique Disney details was lost forever.

Rich T. said...

Completely agree! On Big Thunder, my favorite's the U.R. Courageous. I just like the name. :)

At DL, we also have the character-named Storybookland boats, and we used to have the Motorboat cruise, with each boat named after a female Disney character. To this day, I'm disappointed the Pinocchio ride vehicles don't have character names on them.

Even simple color scheme variety can increase the fun; I'm always hoping for the rare, burnt-orange caterpillar on Alice, and on the old Mulholland Madness at DCA, we'd actually let people go ahead of us in line so we could get the Highway Patrol car. :)

Great article!

Debbie V. said...

I would be figuring which car/ship would be next and counting how many kids/people were in line in front of me, anticipating which one I/we would get!
"perhaps you even crossed your fingers to get a particular named vehicle. Does it change the attraction experience?" Heck yes it did make a big difference. Anticipation is a big part of every enjoyable experience.
I tell everyone while I planned for NINE months before our first trip to WDW last Nov 2011 - that the 9 months of planning was almost as much fun as the trip itself. Almost.
Thank you for another great post from the hear.

DM said...

I agree with everything you wrote here. It doesn't change the ride in any way, but I always hope for a specific named vehicle. My family even plays a game where we bet which vehicle name or color we'll get (I never seem to win). I hope we see different named vehicles with the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and in future attractions. I would hate, like you, to see this die out.