10 August 2015

Play in a Big Way

This is the week fans of all things Disney have waited two years for, the D23 Expo. If you happen to have a particular interest in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, then you’ve been waiting with even more baited breath. Is this the week when they announce that large tracts of the park will be dedicated to Pixar or Star Wars? Will the name change finally be announced? What other plans are awaiting a park with so much potential that has seen so many closures in the past year?

All of these are great questions, and answers I’m waiting impatiently for just like the park’s most fervent supporters. But I want to throw out an idea for something in the park that is currently open, but is woefully dated, and has the perfect modern counterpart. Obviously I am talking about the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure.

Based off of the 1989 movie, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, the attraction is a playground built around small objects in gigantic proportions, as if the guests have been shrunken down to the size of an insect. The area, found right off of New York Street, includes a leaky Super Soaker and water hose, spider web climbing equipment, a roll of film (do kids even know what this is anymore?) turned slide, and of course critters, including an ant, bee, and a dog’s nose. There’s a lot here to play with, and there are always fair sized crowds working their way through the oversized backyard.

Let’s be realistic for a moment though. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure is based off of a movie that is almost 30 years old. Disney hasn’t released the film to DVD, Blu-ray, or iTunes with any amount of fanfare calling attention to the film, which means it’s likely that kids don’t even know the source material. Walt Disney World’s other attraction based off of the property, the 3D film Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, closed in 2010 over in Epcot’s Magic Eye Theater and I don’t foresee it making a return anytime soon. As much as I love Honey, I Shrunk the Kids myself, it is dated and the play area could use an update.

We’ve already said that the Movie Set Adventure is well attended, which is likely why it hasn’t seen a change yet. There’s no need to pour money into something that isn’t broken. Kids will play in a world of gigantic Play-Doh and oatmeal cream pies any day, but what if right now is the perfect time for refreshing the play area with new life?

If you haven’t already figured it out, I am talking about Ant-Man. A small in stature, big in heart superhero that doesn’t already have a home down the street at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, but could be the answer to getting more Marvel into Walt Disney World. This wouldn’t require a gigantic amount of overhaul. The backyard setting still works as it was the place where Ant-Man’s Scott Lang did his training in the recently released movie. Let’s add in a wider selection of ants showing off their capabilities, an ant bridge structure, a couple of crazy ants that could make an electrical spark noise and a burst of air to make it seem like there was a shock, a photo-op with Anthony, and the area is in business. Throw in some oversized props for tie-in and equipment, maybe a Thomas the Train kids can climb on, lawn gnome who has toppled over and whose hat could be a slide, a sugar cube or two or three for stairs and climbing, the ants have already given us the tunnels, and the Ant-Man Movie Set Adventure is in business.

There will likely be a ton of park news coming out this week, and there are some major headliners in the works to be sure, but there are some little pieces that could really shine too. Maybe a play area isn’t worthy of an announcement on the D23 Expo stage, it might not even be in the cards for an update, let alone one that includes Ant-Man, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth it. And it doesn’t mean that this isn’t the perfect time to bring a little Marvel into Walt Disney World’s own backyard.

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