Adventures of a Lost Boy in Disneyland (Part 3): Captain EO

In the continuing trend of old attractions being reborn, Captain EO has returned to the Magic Eye Theatre at Disneyland (along with EPCOT, Disneyland Paris, and Tokyo Disneyland, all four of which replaced Honey… I Shrunk the Audience). The attraction originally ran at the Magic Eye Theatre from 1986 to 1997, was replaced by Honey… I Shrunk the Audience, and then was reopened after the unfortunate death of Michael Jackson as the Captain EO Tribute.

The show ran at EPCOT from 1986 to 1994, and to be quite honest I don’t think I had seen it during that original run. My family had been to Walt Disney World 2 or 3 times by that point, but my mom was never a fan of Michael Jackson (I know it’s a travesty) so we never would have gone in and saw it. I, on the other hand, have loved his music ever since I heard it on an Alvin and the Chipmunks VHS that had Alvin animated into part of the “Beat It” music video and continue to love it to this day, even going so far as to get the DJ at my prom to play “Thriller” and got a large group of my friends to dance what parts of the dance we knew while being watched by the rest of the senior class.

Captain EO follows the story of the infamous Captain Eo (Michael Jackson) and his ragtag crew of aliens and robots as they deliver a peace offering to a hostile alien planet. It, of course, goes wrong and Eo and his crew must use the power of music to save the planet.

Captain EO is a very 80’s show past the point of hilarity. At one point the robot crew members transform into instruments, and when I say transform, I don’t mean in a somewhat realistic (or at least plausible) fashion like in Transformers, I’m talking about a Getter Robo style transformation in which they just kind of mold themselves into whatever they need to be. Captain Eo also has a superpower, he has the ability to fire beams out of his hands that can turn anyone into an 80’s background dancer and instantly teach them the dance for the song at hand. He can also fly for some reason. It is exceptionally silly, but that is one of the reasons that I love it so much.

The film features the Michael Jackson songs “Change the World” and “Another Part of Me” which were not available until very recently. The source audio for the entire show (including those songs) can be found for free download here.

The movie was directed by Francis Ford Coppola, who also directed the Thriller music video (and some movies that no one has ever heard of like the Godfather and Apocalypse Now) and was produced by George Lucas. Industrial Light and Magic did the special effects, which were amazing for the time and still manage to hold up pretty well (seriously, that is the magic of practical effects, they tend to not look nearly as dated as CG). The movie is very enjoyable and exceptionally well made, but I have a few problems with the theatre itself. At Disneyland, they didn’t do anything to change the actual theatre for the tribute, so the odd shaped screen is still there and they use the moveable theatre technology that is used in Honey… I Shrunk the Audience to make the theatre “dance” to the beat (which is really distracting).

Captain EO is a very fun attraction that is a throwback to a very different time and to be quite honest, I would very much prefer it to remain in the Magic Eye Theatre rather than bring back Honey… I Shrunk the Audience.

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