17 January 2018

Tell It like It Is, or Was, or Whatever

There has been a long debate about IPs (Intellectual Properties) within the theme parks. Many see the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios as the places where characters and stories from various films belong, while Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom should stay bastions of unique storytelling. Then there are those who think that the more characters, the better. Then there’s a group of individuals who, like myself, don’t care about where IPs are, but feels they should fit within the confines of where they are located, enhance a story, and that the overall development of the parks should try to keep a balance between new narratives and well established stories. With that in mind, I thought today we should look at seven IPs that are either underutilized or absent from the parks of Walt Disney World and where and how they could be utilized in the future.

WALL-E – Once upon a time I had hoped for a revamping of Tomorrowland, with WALL-E being one of the cornerstones of Tomorrowland version 3.0. However, looking back at WALL-E’s environmental parable, I now think it would work even better as a reimagined Conservation Station in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Kids running around yelling, “Computer, define goats,” next to virtual rainforests, deserts, tundras, and grasslands, not to mention some robot meet and greets sure sounds like a bright future to me.

Mulan – Yes, Mulan and Mushu do make appearances in the China pavilion, but there’s so much more that could be done with this story of the woman who saved China. First and foremost, I’d love to see a dark ride that puts guests in the middle of the battle with Shan-Yu, maybe on a cluster of horse-type ride vehicles that move through the scenes before they are reset for the next group, even splitting up the group to move through larger scenes separately, leading through multiple battles leading to a fireworks display over the Imperial City. Something akin to blending Mystic Manor in Hong Kong Disneyland with Universal’s E.T. Adventure.

Robin Hood – When New Fantasyland was announced with a corner dedicated to fairies and then, to placate the boyish factor, it was changed to Storybook Circus, I always thought an opportunity was lost. Some section of that area would have been, and still could be, the woods beyond the castle boundaries, and the perfect place for Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest. Some climbing structures, self-contained archery type tournament games (think Winnie-the-Pooh queue), and maybe even a dark ride put to the animated features soundtrack is just what this child of the 80’s would love to see.

Big Hero 6 – If Arendelle can find a place in Norway, the San Fransokyo could find a place in World Showcase, especially considering that the American Adventure and Japan pavilions happen to be right next to one another. Bring back the bullet train concept for Japan, give the Big Hero 6 team a new villain to face where the train we’re on is in jeopardy, and maybe even drop in Aunt Cass’ Lucky Cat Café for dining and we’re ready for our fistbump with Baymax.

Zorro – Frontierland, stunt show, maybe even a cameo from other legends of Disney’s Frontierland past (Davy Crockett and maybe even animal tricks from the beloved Old Yeller), done.

Mary Poppins – This year will see a renewed interest in the nanny who sets parents and children alike on the right path with song and magic. One concept for an early World Showcase attraction in the United Kingdom pavilion featured guests on carousel horses who would then venture off of the merry-go-round and into the world of Bert’s chalk drawings. I could foresee an attraction that does this very thing, but also incorporates some of the yet unseen magical elements from 2018’s installment in the Mary Poppins story.

The Princess and the Frog – If we were in Disneyland where New Orleans Square resides, this would be the easiest place for Tiana’s Café to be placed, but we’re sticking with Walt Disney World. While there is a hint of The Princess and the Frog around the Port Orleans complex, there is still more that could be done. In fact, Main Street, U.S.A. could use some diversity of menu and quality dining and the ornate décor of Tiana’s Café, coupled with the fact that the film takes place in the early fifth of the 20th century, could easily slip into the overall surroundings without too much fuss.

Honorable Mention: TRON – Sure, the TRON Lightcycle Power Run is coming in the near future to Tomorrowland, but there could always be a bit more of the Grid or even Flynn’s Arcade to round out the surrounding area.

Honorable Mention 2: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – Captain Nemo’s time in the Magic Kingdom may have very well come and gone, but there is still a lot left in this story that could be utilized to tell an excellent story, especially if you’ve ever seen Tokyo DisneySea’s Vulcania. What I’m proposing is using the fictional world of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to share the story of seas creatures in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. And no, we don’t need another submarine attraction, but a submarine walkthrough with unique aquatic creatures (i.e. not those already within The Seas at Epcot) and plant life seen throughout could be something special.

1 comment:

Debbie V. said...

One of the characteristics that endears Walt Disney to me is the way that he would use everyday subjects - history, mathematics, science, literature, travel, nature - and make them entertaining. In elementary school we frequently had Disney "film strips" and movies as part of our class time. Remember Johnny Appleseed? Jiminy Cricket in "I'm not fool, No siree" Donald in Mathmagic Land, The history of Aesop's fables, The movie about the racoon (I can't remember his name at the moment" and many, many more movies and shorts.
I love having a Disney character show up in a costume matching the place they are in (like Donald in a buckskin jacket and coonskin cap in Frontierland) because we identify with the character and the place we are visint. I don't know how to explain it. It's like they take us to a closer place between the movie and the reality.