Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Disney World - part 3
I've long held a love/hate relationship with the Disney Corporation. On the negative end of things the declaration of their every product as being a "classic" including churned out direct to dvd sequels as well as the difficult to get around mass of advertisements for their other products on the dvds churns my stomach with its blatent desire for the consumer's money. I know that it's a business, and that's what businesses do, and I suppose I can admire the way they've made every product an ad for every other product from movies to theme parks, but they just seem so in your face about it that it bothers me. I have other problems with them, but that's the gripe that typically comes to mind the most.
On the other hand, I've met many people who work for Disney and they've all been super nice people. I even did a bit of work for them myself which didn't lead anywhere. Also, when it comes to their product, I'm generally a big fan. I love the artistry more than anything whether its the animation, the theme park attractions, the live action films, the old Sunday night tv show which was essentially a weekly infomercial for Disney's movies and Disneyland.
So, when I made my first jaunt to Disney World since I was a kid, back before Epcot existed (I've been to Disneyland as an adult) with my own family in tow, I had mixed expectations. I knew I'd appreciate all of the detail that went into the attractions and the parks both singly and the entire Walt Disney World as its own entity. At the same time I was expecting to feel the Disney vacuum tucked into my wallet the entire time.
I'm happy to say that all of the positive feelings I expected to have were present, and the obvious grab for my money was much less present than I expected. Yes, a trip to Disney World is expensive, but your money is well spent. The accomodations are impressive, the staff extremely courteous and helpful, the transportation, barring one exception, was a reliable well oiled machine, the meals were generous and tasted much better than you'd expect. Overall, Disney really takes care of every detail for its guests.
I was stunned by the non-overwhelming amount of merchandise being sold in the parks. Sure, there is a ton of it, but the variety is less than you'd expect. In a way this was dissapointing as I went in hoping to bring home some great stuff pertaining to the Haunted Mansion and other favorites, only to come home pretty much empty handed. I had expected every attraction and character to be exploited in merchandise as far as it could go, but there was very little ride specific merchandise to be found. There were only about a half dozen different postcards to be found, almost all of which featured Cinderella's castle, most of the souvenirs for the rides were more about their movie tie-ins such as was the case with Pirates of the Caribbean. In a way it was disappointing. If you were into the pins though, you would be overwhelmed. There also seems to be a trend at the park of converting characters into die cast race cars. I admit some of them looked pretty cool, but like the pins, not really my thing.
Here are some more images from Disney World. From top to bottom:
Three animatronic taxidermied heads from the Country Bears Jamboree, including a severed deer head named "Max," though this one didn't seem to be inebriated like his human counterpart.
One of the horse drawn trolleys carrying the Dapper Dans. My daughter was excited to be riding behind one of the horses. I was excited to be sharing a ride with the Dapper Dans.
The shooting gallery in Frontierland. You can see that the sign has been changed from the OK Corral to Boot Hill. I don't know if it was always this way, or when the change may have taken place. I was stunned to see how vividly this attraction came back to me from my visit as a kid.
The fantastic carpet and one of the tables in the Contemporary Hotel.
The newly enhanced Bride within the Haunted Mansion.
The home of Minnie Mouse in Mickey's Toontown.
The French Can-Can girls as they appear in the "It's a Small World" finale.
The Cinderella fountain inside Fantasyland.
A lighted up sea serpent seen from the dock in front of the Magic Kingdom.
Another, impressive, and enormous, sea serpent, this time made out of lego at Downtown Disney.
The not quite life-size AT-AT "Walker" from "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi" outside the Star Tours ride at Disney Studios.
Some of the birds from The Enchanted Tiki Room. I'm a big fan of the original, and was not too impressed by the new version incorporating the movie characters of Iago and Zazu as well as a Tiki goddess who sounded and looked more Caribbean than
Polynesian. The incorporation of more recent songs along the lines of "Hot, Hot, Hot" was not a welcome addition either.
A maquette of Wall-E for the forthcoming movie as seen at Disney Studios.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad as seen from Tom Sawyer Island.
Fantasia's Diana done beautifully in electric lights for the nightly parade.
Space Mountain as seen from one of Disney World's ferry boats.
Mickey Mouse (tiny on the lower right) battles Malificent in Dragon form near a lake of fire at the climax of the really well done nightly "Fantasmic!" show at Disney Studios.