Archive for the ‘Rant’ Category

Avatar is coming to Animal Kingdom in a New Land

Disney announced one of the most perplexing pieces of news this week completely out of the blue (ha ha, puns): Avatar is coming to the Animal Kingdom as a new land, construction will start in 2013 and is set to open sometime in 2016. That’s it, that’s all they announced. There was also the normal PR statements like:

“James Cameron is a groundbreaking filmmaker and gifted storyteller who shares our passion for creativity, technological innovation and delivering the best experience possible,” said Robert A. Iger, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “With this agreement, we have the extraordinary opportunity to combine James’ talent and vision with the imagination and expertise of Disney.”

My problem with this statement is that unless the movie is rated R, James Cameron’s movies are overly long and kind of suck. What movies do people think about when they’re talking about James Cameron? Terminator and Aliens, not Avatar and Titanic.

“AVATAR created a world which audiences can discover again and again and now, through this incredible partnership with Disney, we’ll be able to bring Pandora to life like never before. With two new AVATAR films currently in development, we’ll have even more locations, characters and stories to explore,” said James Cameron. “I’m chomping at the bit to start work with Disney’s legendary Imagineers to bring our AVATAR universe to life. Our goal is to go beyond current boundaries of technical innovation and experiential storytelling, and give park goers the chance to see, hear, and touch the world of AVATAR with an unprecedented sense of reality.”

Ugh, a trilogy of Avatar films? Maybe they’ll actually have stories that are worth telling.

“AVATAR is a uniquely powerful franchise that has global appeal with audiences of all ages. Its spectacular settings, intriguing characters, imaginative creatures, and strong themes of family and loyalty make it a perfect fit for Disney,” said Thomas O. Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “We can’t wait to give our guests the ability to journey to Pandora and explore the incredible immersive world of AVATAR in person.”

Spectacular settings? Yes. Imaginative creatures? Yes. Strong themes of family and loyalty? Yes. Intriguing characters? WRONG. The characters were one dimensional stereotypes that were completely uninteresting to watch on film and only made the story seem even less interesting than it already was. The Avatar land is very obviously Disney’s response to the runaway success of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but I am dubious as to the staying power of Avatar compared to the staying power of Harry Potter.

I really did not like Avatar. I thought it was a pretty movie that was completely vapid when it came to characters and story. All of this was made worse by the fact that it was about an hour to an hour and a half too long. That being said, I am cautiously optimistic about this new Avatar/Animal Kingdom project. The world building in Avatar was very impressive and I would love to explore the world of Pandora, just as long as they keep the story and characters from the movie out of it. Avatar just does not have a strong enough story to hold up a single attraction let alone an entire land. Besides, a Disney park is no place for any form of military industrial complex.

The possibilities of this land is what interests me the most. In 2010, Disney patented a technology that would allow puppeteers and their puppets the ability to “fly” with their puppets and the obvious implementation of this is to have the dragon things and the Na’vi in some sort of show. The world of Avatar is a very well designed one and they could do some very cool things with the Living Character Initiative for interacting with animals if Disney were to put the necessary money into it (and the land is supposedly going to cost 200 million dollars) and the attractions could end up being very cool if they stay away from the story of the movie. The world of Pandora could work inside Animal Kingdom if they handle it correctly, and I really hope they do. Animal Kingdom was supposed to be about both real life animals and beasts of fantasy, the fantasy inspired Beastly Kingdom land seems to be completely gone at this point, so Pandora could fill in that role (actually, it wouldn’t surprise me if they use some of the plans for Beastly Kingdom for Pandora).

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Now I Don’t Normally Condone Arson, but…

It’s no secret that I REALLY do not like the Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management and like any other (more or less) sane person on the planet, I do not like fires that could have been an accident (but some would like to think could have been started for a reason), but when it works out well in the end…

EDITORS NOTE: We at the Adventures of a Lost Boy blog do NOT condone arson for any reason (unless it could bring back a better version of a Disney attraction. I’m looking at you Figment.)

Earlier this year, there was a fire in the attic of the attraction at the Magic Kingdom and some Audio-Animatronics were damaged during the event. It hasn’t been open since and there has been quite a lot of work going on in the thatched roof building. This, of course, made a lot of Tiki Room fans (myself included) yearn for the years before Iago and Zazu took over the show from Jose, Fritz, Pierre, and Michael in the late 90’s and hope that if we couldn’t get the original back, that we could AT LEAST get one of the two fantastic versions from Tokyo Disneyland. (Hey Disney, why don’t you put in the current one that has Stitch in it and bring back the ExtraTerrorestrial Alien Encounter? I don’t hate Stitch’s Great Escape as much as other Disney fans, mostly due to the fact that it scared the daylights out of me when I was a child, but now that I’m older I feel like I can really appreciate the attraction.)

It was announced today that yes, the rumours are true, a show “reminiscent” (as the Disney Parks Blog puts it) to the original Enchanted Tiki Room (and Tropical Serenade) is coming back to the Magic Kingdom. No word as to who will be sponsoring it (if anyone) or whether or not you will be able to take Dole Whips into it like you can at Disneyland (which is the much more pressing issue).

When the park first opened in 1971, Tropical Serenade was one of the very first attractions at the East-coast Disneyland. If you notice, I didn’t say that it was called the Enchanted Tiki Room and there is a very specific reason for that: the original attraction at Disneyland was personally owned by Walt Disney and WED Enterprises, hence why it is called Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. The Walt Disney Company could not use the name “Enchanted Tiki Room” without express permission from WED until the company was re-absorbed into the Walt Disney Company and renamed Walt Disney Imagineering.

There’s Some Spooky Stuff Going on at the old Gracey Estate

There have been some major changes going on at the Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom recently. The one that is most visible as of right now is something that has been changing throughout the parks, namely the introduction of interactive queue elements that make people WANT to wait in line. They have one at Soarin’ (I doubt people actually want to wait in this line, it’s more that the FastPasses are gone by noon and the attraction is still wildly popular), Space Mountain, the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and there are plans to have one of the most ornate ones put into the new version of Dumbo the Flying Elephant that will be a part of the Storybook Circus in the New Fantasyland. Little is known about what is being put into the Haunted Mansion’s queue, but a lot of Disney fans (myself included) are hoping that it will somehow contain the same humour that is found in the graveyard that the Imagineers tore up to expand the queue. All we know is that is is being built.

One thing about the changes going on in the Haunted Mansion is this:

My first thought is: Disney y u do dis?

The best word to describe this change is shoddy. They replaced some spectacular audio-animatronics and one of the most amusing effects in a Disney park with some projections. Just some projections. The only thing that gives me solace is that Cast Members are saying that this effect is only a work in progress, and I really hope so. I would even be fine with the projections if they were to put the mirrors back up, just so that you could see yourself riding with the Hitchhiking Ghosts again. I want to be able to ride out with Phineas, Ezra, and Gus again, Disney. Just let me have this one.

I’ll keep you readers posted as to what happens with the changes to the Haunted Mansion when the information becomes available to me.