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Tuesday
Aug252009

5 Things I'd do with the Magic Kingdom...If only I could.

 

I often ponder what I'd do with the good old Magic Kingdom of Walt Disney World if I were calling the shots.  Here are a few of those things:


1]  Mickey’s Toon Town Fair. First things first. Tear it out right away. It’s not very toony, it’s not much of a town, and where's the fair?  Aren’t we supposed to have fun at theme parks? There is one exception to the lack-of-fun, poorly executed, once said to be temporary, pathetic excuse for a Magic Kingdom land: The Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm.  It’s fun for anyone who doesn’t mind a mild roller coaster.  But this certainly does not make up for the rest of the mess.  “Toon Town makes lots of money selling autograph books”, you say?  Come on!  Is that enough of a reason to keep this thing going? Nope. Let people buy their autograph books in any of the dozens of other merchandise locations. So yes, on day-one in my little fantasy, we put up an unmarked wall at the narrow entrance near the tea cups, bring in the wrecking crew, and we never look back.  As for this prime park real estate, we’ll absolutely get into that on another occasion.

2]  The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management).  Once remembered as the Tropical Serenade show, this was the crowning jewel of the Sunshine Pavilion.  The what?  Yes, few people know any of this, but don’t worry, everyone is well aware of the plastic flying carpets blocking its view.  The addition of two cartoon birds (may I mention they are from two entirely different cartoons… can we stop the cross-overs already??) would be only semi-sacrilegious if a decent show was written around them.  Wait.  I take that back.  Just keep the near-perfect show like it was.  Not every non-character attraction needs the addition of characters to make it “relatable”.  Not at all.  This should be an easy-ish fix.  Take out what wasn’t there before, restore the old show, done.

3]  Rivers of America. So wonderful. So peaceful. Let’s not screw it up with Mickey and friends driving the Liberty Square Riverboat or some junk like that. For this one, all I’m suggesting is the return of the Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes and the Mike Fink Keel Boats- a couple of the only Disney attractions not connected to a track, one of which (the canoes) you can take part in powering.  For anyone who uses the excuse of “they just weren’t that popular”, lets remember, not every attraction has to have the draw of the Space and Splash Mountains, nor should they.  We need the E-ticket rides, yes.  We also need these hidden-gem B and A-tickets.  One other thing just for fun… maybe an animatronic Old Yeller with a fish in his mouth, standing in the water somewhere.  Just somthin’ fun to look at as you float on down the river.

4]  Main Street, U.S.A.  I may just have to post an essay I once wrote called, A Few Simple Moves That Would Restore the Forgotten Wonder of Main Street, U.S.A.  The ideas expressed in the essay gained minimal traction with the Magic Kingdom management until they were ultimately… forgotten.  Allow me to quickly sum up the moves.  Take out merchandise in places that are not gift shops- namely The Firehouse and The Cinema.  Restore the unique, tiny experiences that made Main Street fun for more than just mothers shopping for t-shirts.  These experiences should definitely include the Magic Shop, the custom free-hand free embroidery of names on Mickey Mouse ear hats, and The Penny Arcade games (such as the one machine that shocked you more and more the longer your touched it until the timer went out).  Next, only characters that fit the atmosphere of a turn-of-the-century American town should be hanging out in this part of the park. Sorry Timone. One last thought for now (this goes for the entire Magic Kingdom). Certain merchandise should only exist in certain shops. Pirate stuff should not be sold in eight different locations on Main Street. Keep it in Caribbean Plaza.

5]  Nightlife of the Magic Kingdom.  There is something about being in the Magic Kingdom (or Disneyland) and night.  Walt Disney hosted a wonderful TV episode of Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color called Disneyland After Dark in 1962. Watch it on the Disney Treasures: Disneyland DVD. Fantastic in every way. It captures some of the marvel that is Disney at night.  So lets add live music to more places around the park.  Lets bring back the Electrical Parade.  Maybe nighttime dining can be more of an experience than it is now with the hamburgers and such.  Bring back the dancing… perhaps.  Maybe more twinkle lights on selective trees.  There’s always that good idea of encouraging guests to head over to Disney-owned nightclubs. Not.

I love the Magic Kingdom, boy do I ever. But shucks, let’s keep the ol’ list of priorities in the proper order. It’s my belief that with a few small changes in direction, the future of the Disney theme parks is, might I say, magical.

Tuesday
Aug252009

CONCEPT: Carrying the Banner (A Newsies Welcome Show)

Concept by Lilly

Itʼs 8:55am on Main Street USA. The park opens at 9:00. Hundreds of excited guests are streaming through the turnstiles, hustling through the arches and town square, until they meet a rope draped across main street just before from the Emporium, keeping them from the excitement of the park for just five more minutes.

A couple of Newsies have wandered out of the Emporium and other nearby buildings, just getting ready for a day of selling “papes.” Some of them are just tucking their shirt in, one is just drying his face with a towel, others are arranging their newspapers getting ready to sell them.

They have the demeanor you would expect from a Newsie, pushing each other around, cracking jokes, talking about the girl they met last night. They donʼt acknowledge their audience just yet. At about 8:55 one of them sings “Try Bottle Alley or the harbor,” another Newsie adds, “Try Central Park itʼs guaranteed,” and the song continues. There are only three lookalikes in this show from the Disney film. One is Jack “Cowboy” Kelly, and he sings his own lines from the film. Eventually the Newsies bring in the audience and interact with them during the number. In the appropriate place in the song (we cut the part with the nuns), the Delancey brothers, Oscar and Morris, enter. These are the only other two lookalikes from the film. One of the Newsies states “Dear me! What is that unpleasant aroma? I fear the sewers may have backed up during the night,” and the scene continues up until Jack says “That's right. It's an insult. So's this!” Instead of knocking the hat of Morrisʼ head, he steals it and a choreographed fight scene/keep the hat from the Delancey brothers/Jack hiding from the Delancey brothers proceeds as the Newsies continue to sing around this scene up until the end of the song.

As the Newsies finish the musical number the Newsies then explain to the crowd how the rope drop will work. They form a line of Newsies in the front and then walk the guests to each land, mingling and interacting with them as they go. When they get to each land, various cast members take over and lead the guests to the most popular attractions. The Newsies stick around Main Street and sell papes.

The best part is that the papers the Newsies have are actual papers filled with never before seen articles about the Walt Disney Company. Essentially, they are collectors items and the Newsies actually sell them for whatever they can get. The Newsies donʼt advertise the papers for what they are, they just sell like Newsies would sell, but they only place you can get one is from a Newsie.

After the morning set, Jack and maybe the Delancy Brothers will continue to do sets throughout the day on Main Street, continuing to sell papers and to interact with each other and the guests.

 

Wednesday
Aug192009

CONCEPT: True-Life Adventure: A Boat Ride Through Nature's Wonderland (working title)

Intended for Disney's Animal Kingdom, this would resemble the early rides of Disney history, full of lifelike animatronics, breathtaking scenery, and nothing too modern. Based on Walt Disney's own True-Life Adventure series, produced from 1948-1960.

More details to come.