Stocks and Bongos

The most evil buzzword in the theme park industry today is “interactive” (followed closely by “guest experience,” and rounded out by “Potter-killer.”)  I’m a traditionalist, darn it, and I prefer my theme parks shaken, not stirred.  If I have to hear about another “living character initiative” or “NextGen project,” I think I’m going to have a “protein spill” all over my “social media collaborators.”

That’s why today is not so much about finding new secrets, but reminiscing about some old ones.  I’ve got your interactive right here, courtesy of some Magic Kingdom Day One features.
We come to Disney parks for the awesome rides, the incredible resorts, and above all the absolute top-notch quality of the fast food restaurants.  But we fall in love with it because of the details.  As Tower of Terror says, this is something you won’t find in any guidebook, but thousands of people enjoy two of these traditions every day.  And I guarantee had more fun than at that Stitch Dance Party in Tomorrowland.
Introducing the Talking Tower of Terror!  A Parkeology Living Character Initiative.
How’s this for some picture-taking fun?  Locate a medieval humiliation device in the middle of the Magic Kingdom and tell your sister to climb on in!  Yes, I’m speaking of the Liberty Square stockades.
These things are never NOT without a line (triple negative FTW!).  And yet they are the most simple things imaginable.  Holes for your head, holes for your arms.  The very height of hilarity. Spaceship Earth can slap our faces on cartoons and the Haunted Mansion can transform our heads into a ghost balloon, but big wooden holes are what we really want.
Nothing says “liberty” like public imprisonment.
Why does this primitive little diversion bring people so much joy?  There’s nothing digital about it.  It can’t even graph your face onto a cat (thank you, Image Works).  There’s not a word of explanation, no PhotoPass guy stationed out front.  People just intuitively want to try it out.  The next time Disney wants us to text our second-grade-level jokes to Monstropolis, they would do well to remember that simple is often best.
And even if you are well past those first few visits, where the stocks still had that shiny “new place to stick my face” smell, you can still play one of my favorite Walt Disney World games.  Just stand around nearby and listen for about 15 minutes.  You will invariably hear some idiot tourist call them a guillotine.
Our next bit of sugary goodness comes from the far off reaches of Adventureland, where you will find six chummy tiki gods waiting to impress you with their awesome drumming skills.  They’ve been around since opening day (or very near it), and originally began life down at the Jungle Cruise, where they were arrayed in a circle (although some people call a circle with six points a hexagon).
Drumming tiki gods.  Or future sarcophogi for the Dapper Dans.
They’ve moved locations a few times, and now are directly in front of the Magic Carpets.  The basic idea is that each tiki has a particular drum sound, and they play a little beat with each other, and pose for pictures, sort of like a static wooden version of Blue Man Group.  You can’t stick your faces in them (at least not without looking creepy), but it was so great to stand in the middle of their circle and listen to the echoes.
During their last move, they were (criminally) enhanced to spit water.  Now that seems to be what draws folks in, especially folks in diapers.  But next time you pass them, listen for the drums, and remember what made the Magic Kingdom so special.  Then text me about it so we can collaborate our social infomediaries.
Because true Adventure is about spitting.

9 thoughts on “Stocks and Bongos

  1. To be perfectly honest, I’m not ANTI-NextGen. I’m just not super gung ho about it all. I actually think the new Hitchhiking Ghosts, the new Mansion and Pooh queues, the (very mild) queue enhancements for the Mickey M&G, and the Castle projection shows are welcome additions, a way to freshen up and “plus” things.

    But I don’t think all this interactive stuff is the wave of the future. People are still going to be awed much more by the actual castle, than by your ability to paste their picture onto it.

  2. I agree with this wholeheartedly. It’s nice to see someone else who refuses to buy into all the “NextGen” crap.

    @Nate – What, you don’t like what they did to the Haunted Mansion? Don’t CGI images look waaay more real than physical props? Isn’t that photoshop cutout of your photograph more realistic than an ACTUAL reflection of yourself?

  3. Great Post. I like the idea of an interactive queue where it is completely unbearable (Pooh, Soarin), but when they start messing with attracts like the Haunted Mansion I think that they have gone too far.

  4. @Frontierland Fan, I assume you are referring to the tiki out at Disneyland. Regrettably, I have never stuck my hand under it. I’ll have to do that next time I’m out in SoCal

  5. Great article! It’s so true. As cool as the “Your Future” thing is, it can hardly stand up to the details. One of my favorite details is the fountain with Maui. It’s super fun to put a hand under it and fell the cool water when his arm moves.

  6. much as i still love this blog, your really never going to get back to that mystery door in animal kingdom are you?

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