Thursday, August 25, 2011

Trash Can Thursday

Last week's photo is from the path into Camp Minnie-Mickey at the Animal Kingdom, right next to an ice cream vendor.  I wouldn't mind a Premium Mickey Ice Cream Sandwich at the moment.  Those are my favorites and I end up getting one every trip.

Here's this week's photo. It's a total giveaway since I was late getting this post up.  

Happy Birthday Indiana Jones?

Today is the 22nd anniversary of the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectuacular in Disney's Hollywood Studios.  That makes this show almost as old in years as Broadway's longest running musical The Phantom of the Opera.  It's probably performed at least five times as many performances however.  What other similarities there are between the two I'll leave to another post. Now I certainly do not begrudge long running shows, but in all the trips to Disney World I've taken (all but one of which were after this show opened) I have seen the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular....once. That's right. Once. Years ago. (In the interst of full disclosure, I have never seen Phantom of the Opera at all.)  I made a slight effort to see Indiana Jones again last January.  My group and I got as far as the back row in the first two minutes of the show and then decided to leave and do something else because nothing on stage was exciting any of us and it was hard in a 2000+ ampitheatre to feel engaged with the one person narrating the show from all the way in the back.  

I do like the Indiana Jones movies. The first three anyway, I'm not sure I want to rewatch the most recent to decide if it actually has any redeeming values or not since I don't really remember it well.  The one time I was in Disneyland I never got to experience their Indian Jones ride and I wish that I could have done so. The stunts in Indiana Jones are memorable, and I bet if you get to be one of the 18 people who participate in the show it is an amazing experienc.  Yet this show has had zero interest for me in terms of repeatability.   Once you've seen and learned how someone runs away from a giant rolling rock, do you really need to see it again? I do remember liking that this show is also educational in nature about how these kinds of stunts are done, and I'm sure a lot of stunts are done the same way these days, but maybe they could show some then and now about how stunts have changed over the years? Now, I fully admit that I need to give this show another shot as it has been at least a decade since I saw it last. Perhaps there's more to the story than I remember and more entertainment in the audience participation bits than I recall.  Wikipedia tells me that this was the first theme park show to use a computer based control system to trigger all the show effects, which is kind of cool. But after 22 years, isn't it maybe time for a facelift?  Maybe those controls could trigger some new effects? 

On the otherhand, I'm hesitant to suggest messing with Indy on the sole basis that I wouldn't want something to come out that in any way resembled Universal's stunt show attempt "The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad" at Islands of Adventure.  That show I did have the misfortune to see last summer and it's a half hour of my life that I will never get back.   I won't even offer you the full video, just a trailer, but if you'd like to see the kind of show that gives theme parks a bad name it's this glittery, pyrotechnic heavy and utterly devoid of any real artistic value show. Actually it kind of reminds me of the current iteration of Spiderman: Turn of the Dark.

Giving Indiana Jones another shot and a better full out review is pretty high on my list for the next trip I take to Disney World, but until then I have to wonder why it's had 22 years of staying power.  But, happy birthday to the show anyway! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I was torn after listening to the new Muppet "Green Album" about the OK Go version of the Muppet Show theme.   This video though was totally fantastic.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Some bits from the D23 Expo

Where am I not this weekend? At the D23 Expo. It sounds like not a whole lot was announced though, but a couple of video things have been popping up, two of which make me happy.

First, a preview of the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Coaster.

It's...exactly what I expected from their first announcement. It does look like it may have some great views of Fantasyland. The preview actually reminds me a bit of Splash Mountain with the combo of outdoor views and indoor scenes. I do hope that some of those indoor scenes include either some of the scenes from the current Snow White's Adventures, or at least some sort of shout out.  I'm excited for this ride though and the whole Fantasyland expansion as it really was time for a facelift.

The second video (pointed out to me by Mr. Erin Snyder - go read his stuff) just makes me happy. It's part of a tribute to Jim Henson who was named a Disney Legend this week.  To that  I say, why wasn't he already? But, this video makes me smile and although bittersweet, I am pleased to see that Rowlf has found his voice again.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Top Favorite Live Shows

This morning Disney World’s Facebook page asked their fanbase what their favorite live show in the parks was. Every repeat visitor has their own top favorites for when they make a trip to Disney World. Here’s my top five:

Finding Nemo the Musical
Festival of the Lion King
Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage
Off Kilter (so it’s not really a show...but I’d rather watch them than most anything else)
Fantasmic (There’s “acting”, kind of)

With an honorable mention to MuppetVision 3D. Yes, it’s a movie with animatronics, but there is that cast member who comes out as Sweetums every fifteen minutes all day long.  

Finding Nemo and The Lion King were mentioned in almost all the comments I saw (400+ in less than five minutes!) with some folks going for things like the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and Voyage of the Little Mermaid and some people going back in time with shout outs to Tarzan Rocks (sadly I missed that) and Hunchback of Notre Dame (I’d love to see this one again and see if my memories hold up) and  a few folks mentioning things in Disneyland (read the prompt people!).

Notice what isn’t on this list: Anything in the Magic Kingdom.  Some of  the  special holiday shows were somewhat fun (That does not include you A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas. You were just awful), but I think that’s based mostly on the fact I’ve only seen them once.  Every time I see Dream Along with Mickey I wish that it didn’t seem so tired and well, theme parky. From the synthetic color coordinated costumes to the jazz hands it just screams “I’m a theme park show!” and Disney has proven more capable than that.  It’s unsurprising that the performances guest respond most positively too are those that are the most “live” in nature. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Need a job?

Hey can go audition to be part of the cast of Finding Nemo: The Musical.  Puppetry skills erquire.  Nemo is one of my favorite live shows in all of Disney World.  I'm sure I'll extol it's virtues sometime soon but puppets and not completely canned singing are two of the main selling points for me. Plus I actually like the score.

Trash Can Thursday

Last week's trash can is actually on the ferry from the Ticket and Transportation Center to the Magic Kingdom.  I happened to get a shot just as we were passing by the Polynesian Resort.

How about this one?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Trash Can Thursday

Last week's trash can can be found right as you step into the indoor queue portion of Star Tours.   In May over the first Star Wars Weekend I spent a determined few days riding Star Tours 2.0 until I had seen all the major planet scenes.  It took a while.  I became very familiar with the trash cans along the line route.

Here's a photo for this week:

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Trash Can Thursday

The trash can for last week can be found in the queue for Kali River Rapids.  With the way this summer's temperatures have been recently, I would gladly ride that several times a day. I particularly like the lines for several of the rides at the Animal Kingdom, particularly Kali River Rapids and Kilamanjaro Safaris because of the detail that appears.  The queue for Everest is often identified as the most interesting and detail oriented, but since I rarely wait in that line (single rider line all the way!) I'm partial to the other two and the signs and artifacts you can find along the way.

Switching parks, see if you can identify this one:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

This morning the Walt Disney World facebook account posted the question:

If you could have one of these Disney Water Parks all to yourself for a whole fun-filled, sun-filled day, which would you choose?

My immediate response is Typhoon Lagoon because if I were choosing to spend the day at one of the water parks it would be there without question. Over the years I've visited Typhoon Lagoon a lot more than Blizzard Beach, but this past summer I did a day at both and was reminded yet again that I prefer Typhoon Lagoon. Most of the attractions are comparable, but I tend to prefer the Typhoon Lagoon versions. Plus Typhoon Lagoon has the Crush 'n' Gusher, a water coaster that is definitely lacking from Blizzard Beach.   The real winner though for me is Castaway Creek, the lazy river at  Typhoon Lagoon which unlike Cross Country Creek at Blizzard Beach doesn't dump ice cold water on you unexpectedly, just slightly cold water. 

Then I thought a little further on the subject and realized that while I prefer to spend my time at Typhoon Lagoon, I like the story idea behind Blizzard Beach better. Typhoon Lagoon's "narrative" involves a typhoon that swept over a tropical paradise leaving boats like the park's centerpiece the Miss Tilly atop Mount Mayday.  Typhoon Lagoon does feel like a discombobulated tropical island paradise, but for the most part the story doesn't really come through in the attractions that strongly. It's just a nicely themed park with some great attractions. 

Blizzard Beach's background story is clear in all of that park's attractions.  The "legend" of Blizzard Beach involves a freak snow storm in Florida (with presumably more snow than the marathon weekend two years ago!) that led to the building of a ski resort, which needless to say was on the verge of closing when someone spotted the "Ice Gator" sliding on the ski runs and thus the idea for the water park was born.  Each of the slides is themed around the idea of an old ski resort, from the Toboggan Racers to the family raft ride that appears to be on a bobsled track.  You can get to the top of "Mount Gushmore" by taking a ski lift which leads you to the various slides including Summit Plummet, the parks fastest ride that looks like it's a ski jump. In each piece of Blizzard Beach, from the cross country skiing track that makes the lazy river to the ski trails that are the body slides to the food and souvenier vendors this story can be seen and appreciated.

So while I would still rather spend my water park time at Typhoon Lagoon (mostly divided between the wave pool and Castaway Creek after early morning slides) and I appreciate the more subtle theming of that park, I also have an appreciation for the detail and connection that Blizzard Beach was constructed with in relation to its Disney narrative.