Adventureland Oddities

With Teevtee off galavanting through famed naturalist John Muir’s back yard, I figured I should probably get off my lazy butt and post something good here. But instead I went to Magic Kingdom.

It was a nice stroll through the park near sunset, which is probably my favorite time of day to visit (my second favorite time is at precisely 3:47 a.m., when the time portal opens and for a brief moment, you can see a shimmering vision of Horizons beyond the clouds).

Walking through Adventureland, I took note of several things: Walls still up around the Tiki Room. Tarps up over the gate to Frontierland. And a bit of strange newness right near the entrance to Pirates.

Nothing conspicuous here at all.

It stood out because it’s a bit of bad show. It’s nothing more than new a frame at the base of the Torro del Cielo (the big tower at the front of Pirates). This was until recently a grate-covered window, possibly an old ticket window from long ago. Today it is roughly (read: badly) outlined in grey primer, and two exposed speakers have been installed on either side. The stone edging along the bottom also appears to have been altered.

Clearly it’s a work in progress. There’s no way that’s the final paint job, unless they recently hired chimpanzees to work the night shift. And so help me, those speakers weren’t there before. I’m surprised there wasn’t a wall around it, since they’ve got more work to do.

I can only assume that this is preparation for that Adventureland Scavenger Hunt thing, which is sort of a Kim Possible clone from Epcot, but without the easily stolen cell phones. We’ll probably see a few more of these things popping up from time to time in the next few weeks.

Cleverly hidden speaker, just like in pirate times!

In other news, someone has suddenly decided to replace lightbulbs in Pirates. I think it’s the same chimps. There were at least three separate spots in the ride where things were suddenly a lot brighter. I noticed it in the Auction scene, where the Auctioneer and his cohort were suddenly blasted in yellow lighting, and also some background lighting in the flaming village scene.

It was grievously bad in the section of village directly behind the Hairy Leg pirate. The whole set was lit up with bright red lighting, illuminating the black painted walls and faux facades. The lighting quality looked different, more LED than anything. I think somebody needs to go back through and dial it down some.

The Fairies were also back in the Magic Kingdom, and working full time in their new location inside the Adventureland Veranda. I didn’t want to wait in the line to see their actual set, but I did step into the restaurant to explore the queue area. They’ve definitely put some work into this. Previous character areas were nothing more than backdrops, within the space of the old restaurant. This time, there’s a wall dissecting the middle of the area, and most of the interior has been repainted in a new blue color scheme.

It’s hard to tell in this grainy photo, but that center painting on the wall is actually a flat panel display of some sort. I presume it changes periodically, but I didn’t stay to watch. As an adult man, I tend to feel uncomfortable hanging out in the greeting area for pixies.

Also, with the rumor that the Main Street Firehouse (boarded up) is about to become a character greeting area, or possibly the starting place for the Scavenger Hunt, the cynic in me tells me we have seen the last of the Frontierland Shootin’ Gallery. In spite of the fact that they have a huge open space in Diamond Horseshoe, and another fairly recent spot for Davy Crockett Donald, I have a sneaking suspicion we’re about to get more greeting areas there. Just a hunch, but the Shootin’ Gallery feels like something the current management wouldn’t care about.

Finally, I leave you with a picture of the windmill on Tom Sawyer’s Island. I lucked into the dramatic lighting, and couldn’t resist sharing this.

Not representative of my normal photo-taking skills.

Tokyo Disneyland Owns Halloween

This is just a short post to highlight something truly awesome from a Tokyo Disneyland fansite. Apparently Halloween is such a big deal at Tokyo, Disney has to issue rules about what costumes people can wear. They are usually limited to Disney animated characters, or characters from the parks.

This site has several pictures of costumes from last year, I believe:

I love two things about them:

  1. How creative they are at expressing the essence of a character without being a full-on character costume. This is especially noteworthy in costumes for Lady and the Tramp, various Country Bears, Robin Hood characters, and Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit.
  2. How truly obscure many of the characters are. You have a trio dressed as the Babettes from Beauty and the Beast. You have another trio dressed as Bunny, Bubbles, and Beaulah. The Walrus and the Carpenter from Alice in Wonderland. Somebody even dressed as Tokyo DisneySea’s lighthouse.

I have to say, the bar has been raised for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. I don’t want to see any more Snow Whites or Jack Sparrows this year, got it? I myself will be going as Marahute the Golden Eagle.

Oh, my favorites from the Tokyo pictures? I really like the Horned King, the vampires from Nightmare Before Christmas, and the Walrus and the Carpenter. But that kid as Judge Frollo is super cute.

Spaceship Earth Is A Slow-Moving Journey Through Time

It’s pretty tough to paint yourself into a corner when your show building is a giant round ball. Yet somehow the Imagineers managed to do it.

I’m sure Imagineering is more concerned with the big problems. How to simulate Zero G. How to make Abe Lincoln deliver a speech. How to apologize for Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor.
“And then, an 8-year-old submits a joke using text messaging.”
I’m far more fascinated by the little problems. I think it’s because they are so hard to spot. Little problems usually have simple solutions, and unless you have Sherlock Holmes’s powers of perception, you will never realize that a problem existed to begin with.
I’ve found a few before. Truly minor things, like the Rock’n’Rollercoaster preshow. The only things that give them away are how intentional they are. You accept them at face value, and only when you begin to question how things work do you see these details as solutions to problems you didn’t think of at first blush.
If you sat down and thought about the problem for half a second, you’d hit upon the solution easily enough. I always wonder how far along things are before some of these problems rear their ugly head. I bet sometimes the ride is half built before somebody says, “Wait, what if it’s the cowboy instead of the gangster?”
When it comes to Spaceship Earth, I have to imagine they were locked into an Omnimover in a geosphere with a big star field at the top, well before somebody considered what might happen on the way down.
No, I’m not talking about awful cartoon commercials for Siemens.  Photo courtesy of Express Monorail.
According to the safety spiel, Spaceship Earth is a slow moving journey through time—time in this case meaning a serious of progressively worse celebrity narrators.  Nobody thinks anything of strapping a chair onto a slow moving chain going uphill, because the backrest has already been invented. But move that chair downhill and a need for a frontrest comes into sharp focus. Your time machines are rotating backwards for your return to Earth, solely to prevent you from looking like John Ritter at a staircase convention.
I’m being a bit disingenuous here, as Spaceship Earth wasn’t really the first time such a problem had been encountered. Ever since Imagineers first needed a way to get us out of the Attic and down into the Graveyard, they’ve known how to use the Omnimover to solve this little problem. I just highlight Spaceship Earth because it’s a rare instance of a feature being added solely to solve a single problem problem. The Doom Buggies frequently rotate to show you areas on the sides of the track. Spaceship Earth never uses the Omnimover feature, except to get you back down. Place the exact same ride in the Universe of Energy show building, and you could do the whole thing with Snow White Mine Cars (though you would have to put up with Stupid Judy).
So basically, they have to build an entire pivot mechanism into every single car in the train just because they wanted you to go up first. Seems like a lot of engineering work. And what I find even more fascinating is that they did extra vehicle customization not once, but twice! Ever notice how you board the Time Machines from the left side, but exit on the right? That means two sets of automatic doors on the cars, all because they didn’t orient the loading and exit stations the same way.
And we wonder why the maintenance department seems overburdened.
P.S. Go check out that Rock’n’Rollercoaster post again, if for no other reason than to read one of the comments our friend Russ posted more than a year ago. Highly suspicious stuff there!