As always, this article reflects my personal opinions and observations, not those of anyone else.
This week I went on Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland Park to have one last visit with the Redhead, as one of so many guests who have admired and appreciated this beautiful audio-animatronic character creation over the years.
On Monday, April 23rd, the attraction will be closing for a few months and this iconic scene will be altered to better reflect the current audience’s sensibilities. The Redhead will be transforming into a buccaneer herself, running an auction of goods, rather than an object of human trafficking as she is now seen as portrayed through a modern lens. So the original bride auction version of the Redhead is going, though not everyone is happy about it, with some feeling it is destroying a piece of Disney history and Imagineering design in the process.
Thinking about this change and the furor over it made me realize that the park is really serving several different masters at this point, making it quite impossible to please everyone.
As I see it, there are three types of guests who go to Disney Parks:
- The old school hardcore Disney fans – those who have been visiting the parks for decades. They like things as they are – or preferably, as Walt Disney and his WED/Imagineering Legends originally created them. They resist change for any reason, and especially hate what they see as ‘change for the sake of change’ – which often means the adding of IP or “Intellectual Property” to a classic non-IP attraction. See the uproar over: The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management), It’s a Small World (with added Disney characters), Maelstrom becoming Frozen Ever After, shortening the Rivers of America to make room for Galaxy’s Edge, or the various changes the Pirates attraction has already undergone from adding movie characters like Captain Jack Sparrow, Barbossa and Davy Jones to the first politically correct updates made several years ago so the pirates would no longer be chasing the women, but instead chase food or have the women chase them. This crowd feels the park was always better ‘back in the day’ and few changes ever improve an attraction or a park.
- The modern Annual Passholder – the folks who go to the park several times a year or once a month or even once (or more) per week. For this group, they like change and expect and embrace it! They want the parks to be constantly evolving and offering them something new every few months at least to make the experience different. This crowd is often social media driven and looking for the latest thing to post on their Instagram, Facebook, etc. So new is always good and desirable – from new food and merchandise, to show updates, to a new “wall” to take a selfie against. This group demands that Disney constantly change to keep their attention. And whether something has history in the park or not, if it’s outdated in its representation, these folks would often support its eviction or replacement with something new.
- The tourist – those folks taking an occasional or even once-in-a-lifetime trip to a Disney Park. This group wants a mix of both! They want the classic Disney Parks experience that they’ve always heard about, but also something unique to make their trip special and different to their neighbors’ who may go in another year. As long as they have a good time – whatever experiences that includes – it was worth the visit!
So how can Disney please all these different kinds of guests? There may be no answer to that other than perhaps giving everyone a little of what they want, even if they can’t have it all. Continue reading
Recently, the Disney world lost not only one of its longtime talented artists, but one of its most memorable park music contributors as well. X Atencio passed on September 10, 2017 at the age of 98. He was remarkable not only for being a Disney animator on works ranging from Fantasia to Mary Poppins, but for creating two of the most beloved Disney Parks attraction songs ever.
Sing along with me – “Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me!”
Or perhaps you prefer – “Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize!”
X Atencio’s tribute window on Main Street U.S.A.
Yes, X was the man responsible for the classic songs we all love in both the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction as well as the Haunted Mansion. He also contributed lyrics for “Bear Band Serenade” in Country Bear Jamboree (still to this day a favorite show/attraction thanks to the humor and great songs, especially the one that tickles my funny bone the most: “All the Guys That Turn Me On Turn Me Down”).
While I have previously discussed some of the wonderful atmospheric music you will hear played throughout the Disney resorts, in X’s memory, I thought it might be nice to take a virtual stroll through the parks and commemorate some of the terrific, catchy music you will hear inside many of the most popular attractions.
The Sherman Brothers’ tribute window on Main Street U.S.A.
Let’s start with the big ones: in my opinion, the only equally iconic attraction music contributions comparable to X’s creations were clearly those of the inimitable Sherman Brothers. Thanks to them we not only have the earworm of “It’s a Small World After All” playing at most Disney Parks worldwide, but also its just as easy to get stuck in your head “The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room” counterpart. Happily Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom still celebrates that “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” shining at the end of every day at the Carousel of Progress. And for the moment at least, Figment still shares “One Little Spark” in Journey Into Imagination With Figment at EPCOT. Continue reading
Last weekend I got to check off an item on my Disney Do List… mostly… and I wanted to share the experience!
The recent return of all the attractions around the Rivers of America at Disneyland Park has not only added a welcome energy back to the area, but it allowed me to do something I’d always wanted to do: ride in the wheelhouse of the Mark Twain riverboat!
A view from the top – New Orleans Square.
Now, I’d always heard this was such a popular request that one usually had to make it over there early in the day to have a chance of getting one of these coveted rides. However, a friend and I were there on a not-terribly crowded day and were lucky enough to be selected by the Cast Member piloting the boat for that particular turn around the river simply by being up front by the gate and being quick to respond when he asked if we (or the party next to us) had ever been up top before. I jumped at the opportunity I believed we were being presented – as did the couple standing next to us – and we were told that as soon as the gates were opened, we were to follow the Cast Member up the stairs to the top, which we excitedly did!
My friend didn’t know what to expect, but I was thrilled at the prospect of this rare visit to the top of the boat!
We climbed upstairs into a small anteroom and then into the wheelhouse itself. This small area fits a maximum of four guests along with the Cast Member.
Looking out at the view behind us of the dock and Big Thunder Mountain.
From there, we had not only an amazing view of the river and the park itself in all directions around us, but we got to watch the Cast Member in action, communicating with those who helped run the attraction as well as watching him work the boat’s bell and whistle. Continue reading
I’m not going to see the new Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 movie until tomorrow, but I know that one major thing I’m looking forward to is seeing how the soundtrack will integrate into the story. And I have complete faith in director James Gunn and Marvel to make musical and cinematic magic once again!
I think it’s safe to say that the original “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” soundtrack was at least half the reason that the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie was such a hit. Baby Groot dancing may have been the other half of its success – which is no doubt why he seems to be front and center in the advertising for the sequel!
Taking a look back to the first soundtrack, I can scan this list and off the top of my head sing or hum most of them:
Awesome Mix Vol. 1:
- “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede
- “Go All the Way” by The Raspberries
- “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum
- “Moonage Daydream” by David Bowie
- “Fooled Around And Fell In Love” by Elvin Bishop
- “I’m Not in Love” by 10cc
- “I Want You Back” by Jackson 5
- “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone
- “Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways
- “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes
- “O-O-H Child” by The Five Stairsteps
- “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
The second soundtrack isn’t quite as obvious for me – although there are several songs on there I do love. However, I expect to recognize most of them when I hear them playing during the movie: Continue reading
Some pirate treasure from my travels!
I seriously contemplated going to Disneyland Park today for the 50th anniversary of one of my favorite attractions: Pirates of the Caribbean.
After all, there’s a lot happening there this week and today specifically:
- Starting this past Thursday, March 16th, the attraction reopened after a fairly long refurbishment, so you can once again join your favorite pirate crew and sing “Yo Ho! Yo Ho! A Pirate’s Life For Me!” to your heart’s content!
- Special merchandise was released starting on the 16th including limited edition pins, anniversary t-shirts and an amazing skeleton pirate-topped stein (which reportedly sold out the first day within an hour and a half of park opening – but more may be released today).
- Free button! If you’re at the park early enough today only you may receive upon entrance or exit an “I Was There” 50th anniversary button. There is also a t-shirt being released today with “I Was There” on it as well.
- Themed food offerings! “Gold”-dusted churros and beignets are just the beginning of the treats that may be uncovered this weekend in New Orleans Square!
- Entertainment – yay! Lucky the Pirate will be making his regular rounds, but in a rare weekend appearance, The Bootstrappers pirate band will also be roaming the area and performing! I heard that earlier this week The Bootstrappers actually boarded the attraction and sang to some lucky passengers!
- JACK SPARROW! This was probably most tempting of all for me – rumor has it that Jack Sparrow may be doing a Meet & Greet today for the anniversary. He’s such a rare character at Disneyland Park (though he can be seen regularly at his tutorial in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort) that this is a treat indeed! I’m hoping it’s a precursor to perhaps another visit from him for the next movie release in May. But catch him today if you can!
Ultimately, I decided that it was going to be chaos at the park with all of these events happening concurrently, so instead, I’m going to the movies to see Beauty and the Beast! But for those of you who get to enjoy some of today’s pirate-y adventures, may the wind be at your back!
Note: it’s unknown how long these pirate celebrations will last – some may last only through today, others through tomorrow, and others may recur or return – time and tide will tell!
But for those who cannot be at Disneyland today, I wanted to raise a mug of rum to a few more Bootstrappers who I’ve not yet had time to spotlight here: Continue reading
Our instructor at the Animation Academy.
As someone not particularly artistically-inclined – at least when it comes to drawing – I’ll admit, I’d never set foot inside the Animation Academy at Disney California Adventure until a friend dragged me in by bribing me with the promise of learning how to draw the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland!
And the result was a super-fun experience that I highly recommend!
It all begins outside the Disney Animation Building in Hollywood Land where a board lists the various characters being taught for the day (classes run on the half hour) – choices may range from Fab Five characters like Goofy or Pluto or, of course, Mickey Mouse. But there are other popular characters such as a selection from The Nightmare Before Christmas or Olaf the snowman to more random characters like one of my favorites, the Cheshire Cat.
Let me state emphatically that you do NOT need any art training (or talent!) whatsoever to enjoy this attraction. The Cast Member instructor will show you everything you need to do to turn out a drawing of a beloved character.
I had serious doubts about my ability to do this, but was pleasantly surprised by the results!
When you first enter the room for this experience, there is stadium seating and a drawing board, paper and pencil waiting for you. Grab a board and settle in and let the class begin! Continue reading
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure.
In the past week or so, two significant announcements were made by the Disneyland Resort, which will impact live entertainment at both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure.
The obvious good news was that starting tonight and running for at least the next several weeks, live bands will return to performing on the weekends at Tomorrowland Terrace. Very happily this will include all of the favorite cover bands and tribute bands who most recently regularly played there such as the 80z All-Stars and TOMASINA.
And while I’m thrilled at this news and hope to attend several of these shows, the downside is the “limited” nature of this engagement.
Rumor has it that the bands will only be playing in August and September, ending October 1st. The speculation is that this is the end of the Walt Disney Company’s fiscal year and a new budget would have to be created to extend the bands beyond this point.
For me, it simply hasn’t felt like summer without live bands at the Disneyland Resort. I’ve gone a few times since the Diamond Mad T Party ended and found myself leaving the Resort each time before nightfall with nothing for a Mousertainment fan left to do having seen the Paint the Night parade and Disneyland Forever fireworks shows already (and these shows were also announced this week to be closing with the end of the Diamond anniversary!). Instead, I’ve been going more often to see live performances elsewhere. So the return of the bands to the park is absolutely a welcome one. But knowing this may only be for a few weeks makes it bittersweet.
Still, that good news from Disneyland Park was tempered by the big announcement of the Guardians of the Galaxy theme taking over the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure in 2017. This news made me extremely concerned for the future of that park – and not for the reasons you might think. Continue reading