Posted by: lylescott89 | January 22, 2013

Time for some Disney Nostalgia

Hey kids,

Nostalgia is a funny thing. It can be fun and really good and then again it can be very bad. Let’s take my favorite place in the world, The Walt Disney World Resort, and examine this a little more closely.

Walt Disney First of all, just walking down Main Street USA gives me two awesome feelings of nostalgia; both a feeling for what it was like walking down that same street as a child and the idealized world that may or may not have ever existed. I have always been kind of soured on the fact that the Main Street Cinema was long ago replaced by a shop as was the old Penny Arcade. I am a strong advocate for ditching the shops and restoring Main Street to its former glory. Alas, I am resigned to the fact that it will probably never happen. I also miss Horizons and World of Motion at Epcot and they’re not coming back either. (And for that matter I still have a tendency to call it EPCOT Center. Old habits die hard I guess) however, there are two other attractions that still exist and need to be returned to their former glory: Journey into Imagination and the Carousel of Progress.

The Carousel of Progress has always been a special attraction to me. It originally premiered at the New York World’s Fair in 1964. And while I technically did attend that world’s fair it was a couple of months prior to my birth so I remember little to nothing of the experience. The COP was moved to Disneyland after the end of the fair and was eventually replaced by America Sings in 1974. Once that happened it was moved to WDW where I first saw it in 1975. I was fascinated by the show each and every time I saw it. As I grew older it became more and more special to me because I knew that Walt Disney himself considered it one of his favorite attractions and because I knew that he had personally worked on the finished product.

While the first few scenes remain virtually the same, the final scene has changed a bit through the years. When I first saw it in 1975 it was Christmas in the 70’s complete with the most hideous Christmas tree I had ever seen. This wasCarousel of Progress ultimately replaced by Christmas in the 80’s which was only a slight improvement. When Tomorrowland was undergoing a major renovation in 1993 the final scene and a few other things were changed as well. Now the final scene represented the future with the Christmas of the future being roughly the year 2000. It is now 2013 and except for a newer TV the final scene is incredibly outdated. This is not good. In addition the building itself is showing a lot of wear and tear after all these years. The inside of the theater includes ripped and broken seats in desperate need of repair while the outside is filthy and begging for a new paint job.

If it was up to me (and quite frankly it should be) the entire attraction from beginning to end would be returned to the glory of 1964. Every scene would be recreated just as it was when Walt originally presented it to the world. The final scene does not need to depict the present or the future as envisioned by us, but rather the vision that Walt Disney had 49 years ago. (Dang I’m getting old) Not only should the show be returned to its original state, but the soundtrack and voices should be as well. Do this while at the same time putting on a few fresh coats of paint and cleaning up the seating area and you have an attraction that is once again a “must see”.

Let’s travel over to Epcot and talk about the once glorious Imagination pavilion. I know it may be hard to believe, but this pavilion was popular at one time. When it initially opened it was a gem of an attraction. The ride itself featured a character known as the Dreamfinder, a marvelous tune entitled “One Little Spark” and a character with “two tiny wings, eyes big and yellow, horns of a steer, but a loveable fellow! From head to tail, he’s royal purple pigment, and there, voilà! You’ve got a Figment!” The initial appearance of Dreamfinder and then Figment are probably one of the greatest introductions on any attraction. I can still remember the awe of seeing them for the first time. Dreamfinder would then take Figment and us on a grand tour of imagination for 11 minutes. That tour lasted from 1983 – 1998 when it was wiped away forever.

Carousel of ProgressWhen it closed I did not realize that Dreamfinder was gone for good. No, I thought it was just going to be cleaned up and maybe updated a little. In 1999 when it reopened as Journey into YOUR Imagination I was almost in tears after riding it. Not only was the Dreamfinder gone, but Figment was gone as well. Instead it was re-themed to coincide with the adjacent Honey I Shrunk the Audience, which itself had replaced Captain EO (more on that later) which had replaced Magic Journeys. It was a disaster and it did not last long. That incarnation closed for good in 2001.

In 2002 it re-opened now with the title Journey into Imagination with Figment. In the few months that it was closed I had this hope that they would return it to its original format. Unfortunately this was not the case. While Figment and One Little Spark were back, Dreamfinder was still nowhere to be seen. The duration of the ride was now six minutes and while it was slightly better than the previous incarnation (in the same way that getting sat on by a 290 lb. man is better than getting sat on by a guy that is 300 lbs.) it still sucked. And that’s where we are today 11 years later. Only now there are no lines and the cast members working there probably have no recollection of what the attraction once was.

This makes me incredibly sad. Adam does enjoy the ride, but that’s only because he does not know the difference. If he could ride it as the initial designers had intended I am sure he’d be as disappointed now as I am. There is still hope. This attraction can be brought back to its original state and I cannot imagine it would be all that difficult. Sure it takes time and money and you’d either have to find all the old stuff in the warehouses of Disney or completely rebuild them, but why not? I have never spoken to anyone that has ridden all three incarnations of this attraction and said they like it this way the best. They all say the original was vastly superior.

Thus I am asking the powers that be at WDW to please give us back our original Journey into Imagination. We’ve hadDreamfinder & Figment garbage for way too many years now. With all the money that is charged for admission we, the Disney Public, deserve better than what Imagination offers us now. If you need help in getting it back to the glory days I am available for hire.

Now we come to a piece of nostalgia that returned in 2010 and needs to go away: Captain EO. When this 3D film opened in 1986 it was packed. Long lines were always the norm for Michael Jackson’s little space epic. That is no longer the case. This past Saturday I took Adam in to see it for the first time. Besides us there were a mere 16 people in that huge theater. Yes, I said 16.

In 1986 it was really cool. Even though the story was always kind of lame, the special effects were impressive for the time and the dancing and music was very good. Now it is a relic. First of all the best special effect was when the ship crashed on the planet. There was a star field and smoke that along with the 3D film made it appear that the ship was literally sitting on the stage in front of you. With those effects gone the lousy story and subpar effects are blatantly noticeable. Adam was laughing at the ridiculous hair styles and lousy effects. Sure, they used some of the leftover Honey I Shrunk the Audience effects such as the shaking theater and the mice, but those cannot cover up for bad 3D. (And no, there are no mice in the film. They just use the same effect whenever there is a “swish” of some kind)

Journey into Imagination as it is nowWith an audience that now is used to great 3D, including the marvelous Mickey’s Philharmagic in the Magic Kingdom, and impressive CGI effects, Captain EO looks like an old relic. Come on Disney, you can do better. I’m not asking for a return to any of the other old 3D Epcot shows, which are all outdated, but give us something new with modern 3D techniques and the same CGI you put in your feature films. Please?

I have more suggestions and memories to share, but I’ll save those for another day.



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