One More Parkeology Day

Parkeology is pleased to announce our entertainment offerings for our once-in-a-lifetime “One More Parkeology Day” event, beginning tomorrow.

  • Our statistics show that most people don’t begin reading Parkeology before nine in the morning. We suspect that this is because most of them are still hung over. However, for tomorrow’s special day, we are making our vast library of wonderful and hilarious internet postings available promptly at 6 a.m. Links will be available to click as soon as you have your morning coffee.
  • Due to expected demand, our featured content will also be available via google search engine. We have added additional search times at 3pm, 5pm, and a special nighttime search at 9pm. Go to google.com at those times and enter the keyword “parkeology”
  • Our mascot, John Muir, will be performing several times daily at the American Adventure in Epcot. Check the showtimes guide for details.
  • Teevtee will brainstorming post ideas all day during normal office hours. Many of these ideas will show up in future posts.
  • Should you wish to camp out for tomorrow’s events, we are allowing you to begin commenting on this post beginning at midnight tonight.
  • As part of our offerings, we have a special commemorative email available, sent to your personalized email address. The cost is a very reasonable $25. If you wish to receive it, please email us your credit card information. For $100, Teevtee will photoshop the parkeology logo onto your face. For $5000, we will tweet personalized Twitter messages to you from Tokyo Disney Sea every hour, on the hour.

In other words, it’s going to be exactly like every other day.

Apprentices of the Magic Kingdom

As many of the great sites out there have chronicled recently, Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom has officially debuted, and attempts to build on the Kim Possible experience at Epcot by doing two things:

  1. Ditching a second-rate TV animation star in favor of some heavy hitters from the Disney vault
  2. Ditching the expensive smart phone controller in favor of Pokemon cards
I’m not going to recount the basics of the experience (everyone else has done that). But I will offer an opinion. In spite of a lot of fan hype, this thing definitely has a thing or two to learn before it can wear the pointy hat and enchant the broomsticks. This is due mainly to a few glaring flaws with what it purports to be.
First and foremost, this thing desperately wants to be a “game.” It’s intended to take you beyond passive theme park enjoyment and put you in control of a storyline that will have you exploring the entire park in an attempt to stop the Villains from taking over. Hey, you guys wanted Villain Mountain for years. This is what you get.
I don’t have a problem with the storyline. In fact, I wrote my own video game a long time ago as a college project, based on the exact same idea. It was a sort of Myst meets Fantasmic, and I’ve toyed with putting it on the internet for everyone to ridicule. But it will probably remain locked in the Parkeology vaults for years to come. The storyline is so well-worn because it works. What doesn’t work is something all games require, and that is the possibility of failure. There is a distinct difference between “game” and “interactive.” A drinking fountain is interactive. A game requires you to learn the rules, master a skill, create a strategy, mentally challenge yourself. Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom does none of these things. Provided you can read a map and face a camera, you win.
One of the few princess cards with a
legitimate weapon. Cinderella gets
sparkly ribbons, I think.
I suppose if one wants to get super technical, you can lose at SotMK. I saw two types of failure:  One, when people try to go to the portal at Uptown Jewelers and are met with “You’re at the wrong place” messages. This is a design error. There just happen to be two portals at Uptown Jewelers.
The other failure was an older couple who lost a battle with Cruella because the darn cameras wouldn’t read the spell cards they were holding up. This is a technical glitch, not a player failure, and I’m not sure the couple even realized they failed. There are  increasing levels of difficulty the more you play, but for an intelligent person, it seems almost impossible to lose.
The second failure is one of logistics. This is Magic Kingdom, after all, and it is crowded. It is not uncommon to run into lines 10 players deep at every single portal. Which means you are watching the same 2-3 minute video over and over, with very little variation. When it is finally your turn, you flash your cards and get directed to the next line. I know they are trying to tell a story and all, but they would do well to get each player out of there in 30 seconds or less. That’s enough for some rudimentary scene setting, and a quick one-on-one spell battle. Let’s face it, most of the time it’s some variation of “Cruella has captured the puppies. Stop her!” We’re not watching Inception here. Do the battles, move people along.
This card may soon be replaced
with Winnie the Pooh.
By far the most interesting part of the game are those collectible cards, and more importantly, the game that the guest has invented on their own: Trading. You get 5 of those babies every time you play — and you get them for FREE! These are actually super nice trading cards, with very detailed art work and a great style to them. They are several notches in quality above the videos you’re watching, which do a good job of featuring a wide variety of Disney characters (familiar and obscure), but destroy that good will by animating them in an atrocious fashion (think Saturday morning cartoon level).
But trading the cards can be fun, and kids apparently love this aspect of the game. There were lots of players with big stacks of cards, and while they dutifully played out the story at each portal, they were most excited by seeing what other cards the other people in line had. I can see Disney releasing new decks periodically (some sold at a premium), and even if you just get a handful of free ones, that’s a pretty nice souvenir for a kid. Better than a lot of the stuff sold in the gift shops.
Because everyone knows, a dog’s most
dangerous feature is his soot bucket.
So this is now coming off as a negative review. But it is only negative when it comes to today’s incarnation of Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. I actually believe these flaws are fixable, and that Disney will quickly realize how to address them. Maybe not this summer, but I’m predicting that in a year or two, SotMK will be substantially improved and a huge hit. The beauty of this type of thing is that it can be adjusted on the fly. So much of it is digital content (videos, rules, etc.), and new facets can be swapped in literally overnight. It really might reinvent the theme park experience.
And because this is parkeology, I would be remiss if I did not catch some obscure little Disney detail that even the game designers botched.
When playing the game on Main Street, Merlin sets the stage for you by translating Pongo’s barks. Pongo is apparently telling you that Cruella is on the loose, and that “Perdita and all one-hundred-and-one puppies have been forced into hiding.”
Either Merlin can’t speak Dalmation as well as he thinks he can, or the game designers forgot to watch the movie before writing their script. There were only 99 puppies. It took Pongo and Perdita to take the count to 101.

Separated At Birth

If there is one thing we love around the Parkeology campus it’s Oscar time.  Shane really goes all out with the parties and predictions.  Not only does he demand to see every single nominated film (yes, even the foreign shorts) but he also dresses up as the nominated actors (and actresses) characters, one a day each day leading up to the big event.  Today he happens to be Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe and I must say he is STUNNING.
Marilyn, Michelle, Shane, each beautiful in their own way.
We can all agree that Shane can pull off wearing pink; of course some thoughts are just so clear and plain that you would imagine EVERYONE must agree.  For example the first time you go to Islands of Adventure you make fun of the Hulk tracks, or the first time you eat corn on the cob you think “I need a plastic unicorn head to help me out here”. These are the basics, the universal (no pun intended) truths.
…since sliced bread. 
Likewise there are plainly obvious casting choices for movies… Meryl Streep for anytime you need, I don’t know…. a woman. Of course you can’t go wrong with Nicholas Cage for anytime you need subtle, nuanced acting.
(NSFW due to language, lots of it, seriously)
When it comes time for actors to portray real life people things get trickier.  Do you hire a great actor who maybe does not look exactly like the person they are portraying or do you go with physical resemblance first.
Anthony Hopkins may not have been the first guy to jump to mind when you think “Nixon” yet his acting ability pulled it off, even without prosthetics. Frank Langella is perhaps a foot taller than Nixon and looks nothing like him yet again in “Frost / Nixon” we bought it.  Philip Seymour Hoffman more or less morphed into Capote for the 2005 film of the same name and the skinny little Fresh Prince of Bel Air somehow managed to pump up and convincingly play Muhammad Ali… there is not a single formula for this.
Both different and both good.
Then there are the times when miraculously you can have the best of both worlds, you can have your cake and eat it to.  Such is the case with the yet uncast, yet uncreated, yet unwritten, yet unthought-of Walt Disney movie. Why we have yet to have a theatrical movie about the life of Walt Disney I am not really sure… He is one on the twentieth centuries most creative and innovative figures.  He led an interesting and exciting life and the impact of his creations are still felt to this day.  He also has legions of devoted fans… seems pretty obvious that there should be a Disney movie… perhaps put out by the Walt Disney Company or perhaps NOT put out by them… but it should exist.  One day it will, and if that happens somewhat soon the incredibly obvious and clear choice is an actor who is getting a lot of buzz right now, Mr. Jean Dujardin.
Walt is on the left in case you couldn’t tell. 
When we took the office field trip to see his film “The Artist”, one of the years most talked about movies, I was struck by a few thoughts.  First of all it was a shame but some sort of problem at our theater caused most of the film to be without dialogue and completely void of color to boot.  Despite the technical problems Dujardin’s performance stood out. Secondly I could not help but to think that Disney’s doppelganger was dancing and prancing across the screen.
Done… not much more to be said really.
He’s nominated for an Oscar… the guy can act… but just look at these pictures… it is like he and Disney is the same freaking guy!  Honestly I am not sure that I have ever seen an actor who looks so much like the person he would portray. Yea, yea…. he’s French, he has an accent, but he is also a professional actor who I am sure could learn to speak in Disney’s Midwestern drawl.
Take from it what you will but why have we not seen something this obvious posted all over the place?  Why is Ain’t It Cool News not running a campaign to make this happen?  Why is it that Parkeology has to blaze the trail… well that is what we do I guess. But honestly when this happens you know who said it first, and you know that it is freaky how much these guys look alike… and you know you want to see it.  Maybe a whole series of movies:  Walt Disney and the Locomotive of Destiny, Walt Disney and the Orange Grove of Fate, Walt Disney and the Chamber of Frost, I don’t know, Walt Disney and anything Lucas would think of in his sleep… it works.
A scene from the upcoming action thriller “Walt Disney and the Kingdom of Doom”
Lets try to get this to happen… I’d love to see Shane dressed up as Walt Disney for a reason for once, not simply because he happens to dress as him most of the year anyway.  I’ll be rooting for Mr. Dujardin at this years Academy Awards and hoping that Iger or someone sees what is so clear to the rest of.  When you give us credit in the titles just make sure you spell Parkeology correctly, thanks.