SATURDAY SIX: 6 Things Disney Can Take to the Dump Along with The Great Movie Ride

by on September 30, 2017 20 Comments

Filed under: Saturday Six, Walt Disney World (FL)

This week’s SATURDAY SIX makes its long awaited return to the Disney Dump! With Walt Disney World doing a little “Spring cleaning” this summer and deciding to get rid of even more attractions (Great Movie Ride, Ellen’s Energy Adventure, and the Music of Pixar Live! among others) we here at the SATURDAY SIX have put our noggins together and figured out a couple more things they can take to the dump as well.

The world famous Disney Dump. (art by Matt Cleary)

We made our first trip to the Disney Dump a couple years ago, and anything that was asked for then would not be eligible for this article. This is why you won’t see Dinoland USA, Electric Umbrella, ABC Commissary, BoardWalk Pizza Window, Journey Into Imagination with Figment and Stitch’s Great Escape. Look at that list again and keep in mind Stitch’s Great Escape is still around while the Great Movie Ride – the heart and soul of DHS – is now gone. Today we’re going to take a look at things we’d all be better off without, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival

When Captain EO made its debut in 1986, it was the epitome of what made Disney Disney. Produced by George Lucas, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, score by James Horner, starring Michael Jackson, EO was an all star collaboration of the highest order. The movie itself was one of the first true “4D” films, in which the theater itself became part of the experience with seat movement, laser and smoke effects. There was absolutely nothing outside of Epcot Center that could be compared to Captain EO.

Now, if you have a DVD player in your house (or NETFLIX) you can have your very own replacement for Captain EO with the Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival. Unlike Captain EO, several of the short films used in the “festival” have been converted into 3D, despite the fact they weren’t made with 3D in mind. This is the difference between buying a beautiful bouquet of flowers for your significant other, and just grabbing something off your front lawn right before you get home. Captain EO represents a certain era of Disney, when only imagination was the limit to what could be achieved. In a way, the Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival also represents an era of Disney; one in which intellectual property, branding, and corporate synergy supersedes “outdated” concepts like “theme.” Do yourself a favor, stream a Pixar short on your mobile device while waiting in line for a better attraction.

Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival. (photo by Brandon Glover)

When “air conditioning” is your number one selling point. (photo by Brandon Glover)

# 5 – The Ubiquitous Flatbreads Across Property

There are three things that even the most casual of Disney fans know. The theme parks are expensive, all the rides end in a gift shop, and the pizza stinks. Thankfully in the past few years third party vendors (including Via Napoli, Splitsville, and Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza) have shown us that one can actually have good pizza at Walt Disney World. Unfortunately Disney itself has doubled down on pre-made flatbreads that have popped up across property faster that you can say supercalifragilisticpizzatastesatrocious. Despite being premade, the quality of these flatbreads are so inconsistent it almost makes me want to award a Michelin star to the BoardWalk Pizza Window, because at least their food always resembles pizza.

Flatbread from the Beach Club Marketplace. (photo by Disney Photographer Icon Tom Bricker)

“In our quest to eat all of the awful pizza around Crescent Lake, here’s some “food” from Beach Club Marketplace.” – Tom Bricker

Flatbread from Pinocchio Village Haus. (photo by user davidjjenkins1961 on the TouringPlans Discussion Forums)

“We were looking forward to eating there and trying the Sausage Pepperoni Flatbread Pizza that we had watched someone do a food vlog on. It looks so good and big.. So, we ordered that and a Sprite.

What we got was nothing like we had seen in the video and was the worst of anything we ordered, the picture makes it look big, but believe me, it is not big at all.

Kids might like it, and if you are a fan of cheap frozen pizza, you might like it. The best description that we can give it is it tasted almost like cardboard with some sauce and flavoring on it.” – davidjjenkins1961

Sausage and peppers flatbread from Pinocchio Village House. (photo by Known Disney Agitator Josh Humphries)

“Disney reportedly tested flatbread recipes for more than a month before deciding on this combination. Because there aren’t a lot of pizzerias around to go on. But to be fair, one is never really sure which defrosted meats and canned vegetables will jive together on the palate.” – Josh

Meanwhile THIS is one of the flatbreads they are serving at Pinocchio Village Kitchen in Shanghai Disneyland. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?! Keep the Tron lightcycle ride, we’ll take this!

Now THAT is a flatbread! (photo by @bioreconstruct)

 

# 4 – Circle of Life: An Environmental Tale

The Circle of Life experience in The Land pavilion at EPCOT can best be described as theme park’s version of being scared straight. Who doesn’t like The Lion King? Well, Circle of Life uses our pals Simba, Timon and Pumbaa to educate theme park guests on how they – all of us humans in fact – are destroying the planet. Impressionable kids may come away scared from the fires and other infringes upon nature seen in the film, so be prepared. Strangely enough, Circle of Life almost seems like it was made by someone anti-theme parks and no one at Disney noticed for twenty years. The film actually would have fit in perfectly at the Banksy art exhibition Dismaland: A Dystopian Theme Park. Maybe we could redo this concept with the Lion Guard and tone it done by about 20%, although I don’t think most guests are going to want to learn about floating plastic garbage patches given the next attraction on our list…

“Hey, I like the Lion King….” (photo by Brandon Glover)

The only attraction at WDW with “wall carpet.” (photo by Brandon Glover)

Timon and Pumbaa. (photo by Brandon Glover)

# 3 – Club Cool

Speaking of synergy, when a Coca Cola gift shop becomes one of the few attractions left standing, it may be time to rethink Future World. The most original part of Club Cool, the opportunity to taste thimble sized versions of soda from around the World, has been made partly irrelevant thanks to a much better experience served at the Coca Cola store outside bar at Disney Springs. Over the years Disney has also become a leader in making the parks a healthier experience for kids, with “Mickey Check” meals and more, so it may be a good idea to also move away from a “Drink More Soda” attraction. WHAT IF we ditched the Coke sponsorship, kept the “cold” theme, and made this a fun meet and greet area for characters like Frozone and Olaf, or even any character dressed in “winter” gear. Then we get an actual attraction for those that are into pictures and autographs, while also delivering the air conditioning people want to take a break in. Win/win.

Club Cool. (photo by Brandon Glover)

I bet you didn’t even know you needed a $35 Coke shirt. (photo by Brandon Glove)

In Beverly’s defense, it does taste better than Coke No Sugar. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Club Cool. (photo by Brandon Glover)

# 2 – Bongos Cuban Cafe

When turning Downtown Disney into Disney Springs, WDW didn’t just hit a home run, it hit a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth to win the World Seres. The new additions (including Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’, Frontera Cocina, and Morimoto Asia) have done the impossible by making Disney Springs the Go To place on property for great restaurants, taking the throne from Epcot’s World Showcase. New stores have come onsite, a great new bus depot for transportation, and a new Cirque du Soleil show is on the way.

We mentioned some restaurants earlier, and they all have one thing in common: celebrity chefs. There was a time in American history when the restaurant rage was celebrity owners. Bongos Cuban Cafe is from singer Gloria Estefan and her husband Emilio. Bongos takes up a large footprint at Disney Springs, sits waterside, and historically has scored extremely low with TouringPlans readers. I’ve been to Bongos and had a pleasant enough experience, and can only guess to why it scores so poorly with many others. Possibly it is because the menu may see “exotic” compared to others in the area, and the live salsa music a start contrast to the more rock music you will hear at the nearby House of Blues and Splitsville (not to mention Disney Springs background music.) With many of the new restaurants going into The Landing area of Disney Springs, maybe a new restaurant replacing Bongos in the West Side could help draw some traffic away from there. Possibly one by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay (trying to get my Hell’s Kitchen-themed restaurant experience by hook or by crook.)

Bongos Cuban Cafe. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Bongos Cuban Cafe. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Table and chairs at Bongos Cuban Cafe. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Gloria Estefen signed CD in Bongos gift shop. (photo by Brandon Glover)

# 1 – The All-Star Resorts

The concept of a true “value” resort offering rooms at a much lower cost to allow more guests the opportunity to stay onsite is a good one. When the All Star Resorts were opened in 1994 you could even make the case they were a decent alternative compared to the hotel landscape in Orlando. However, in the last twenty plus, the competition surrounding Disney has upped their game. In 2014, the Universal Orlando Resort opened their first value resort with the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, and it was filled with amenities including a bowling alley, a lazy river, and pool bars that served food.

After a recent stay at the All-Stars, I think it is time for Disney to start putting  some TLC into the resort so that it feels more “Disney” level of quality. The decor around the hotel is larger than life, and while some don’t like that idea in general, I think we can all agree what is there has become stale and could use some freshening up. With the amount of Disney brands and characters that have been created and/or bought in the last two decades, this seems like an easy fix. Disney could even reconsider the current concept of sports, music, and movies and change them to more Disney-inclusive ideas like pirates, princesses, and superheroes. We can assume Disney could also bump up the room rate a bit if a guest’s room view was looking out a giant version of Thor’s hammer instead of a three story tall Coke cup.

The All Stars. (photo by Neil Trama.)

All Star Sports. (photo by Brandon Glover)

While there’s not much Disney can do about the “intimate” space inside each room, at least they could be a little more themed outside of a picture on the wall.  Art of Animation showed the level of detail that Disney can put into a value resort overall, and specifically the actual room you stay in, and it would be nice to have more of that onsite and less of the Motel 6-vibe that’s there now.

Room in the Herbie the Love Bug wing at All Star Movies.

In the last five years, “food and beverage” has exploded in the Orlando area giving us incredible resort experiences such as Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at the Poly, Abracadabar at the BoardWalk, and Stone Water Tavern at Universal’s Sapphire Falls. We had fun a while back with a SATURDAY SIX doing a value resort bar crawl, but the article was done tongue firmly in cheek to show people how awful these bars are compared to everything else on property. At the all-Stars, the bars are small extensions directly off the food court and have all the charm of a kiosk in the middle of a mall. Guests at the resort deserve better than that.

Food courts have also taken a major leap in quality since the All-Stars were created, and one only needs to look at AOA’s Landscape of Flavors or Cabana Bay’s Bayliner Diner to see value resort quick serve food options that can compete with any other hotel on property. The food court at All-Star Movies was not in that league and actually made it feel like eating at the resort was a punishment rather than something to look forward to.

All Star Movies. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Each night at the All Star Movies food court saw a similar scene. The line for pizza was so long there is actual switchbacks (which you can’t see in the picture but are closer to the front of this line) while other food stations are closed.

A burger served on a cinnamon roll. Even the secret menu items at the All-Stars are bonkers.. (photo by Ian Barritt)

If you’re considering staying at the All-Stars, spend a couple minutes checking out this blog by Neil Trama: 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Checking into Disney’s All-Star Sports.

 

So there you have it: Six MORE Things That Can Go to the Disney Dump! See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the E-Ticket Report podcast. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).

The official pool of the Disney Dump.

If you enjoyed this article, you will surely like the following:

SATURDAY SIX Makes Its Inaugural Trip to the DISNEY DUMP

SATURDAY SIX Investigative Report: DISNEY PET PEEVES

SATURDAY SIX Investigative Report: The WORST Places to Propose at Disney

The SATURDAY SIX Uses Disney Villains to Explain Theme Park Blogging

Worst Theme Park Idea Ever: VALUE RESORT BAR CRAWL

The FOUR YEAR ANNIVERSARY of the Disney Outlet Store Photo Report

Special Thanks to crack staff photographer Brandon Glover, “Groovy” Michael Sheehy, the bio-est of all reconstructs @bioreconstruct, and blogger to the stars Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Be sure to also check out Brandon on The Park Blogger podcast with goofballs co-hosts Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde , while fellow Potterheads may enjoy Meg’s work on the Central Florida Slug Club.

FINAL PLUG! Did you know The 2017 Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando has a special edition of the SATURDAY SIX in it? Finally, someone came up with an actual reason to read a book. ORDER this baby now!

It will be good….one day. (photo by Michael Sheehy)

Posted on September 30, 2017

20 Responses to “SATURDAY SIX: 6 Things Disney Can Take to the Dump Along with The Great Movie Ride”

  • We tried Bongos a few years ago and generally like “exotic” menus. Never again. The service was awful, food was bland and low quality. Tear it down.

  • I would like to see a Wall-E attraction replace Circle of Life. Wall-E isn’t anywhere in the parks and it puts the environmental conservation theme of the Land Pavilion perfectly. Also, they could make a really cool attraction with Wall-E’s futuristic theme.

    Yes, I would be fine with them replacing Club Cool. We actually skipped it during our last trip.

    I think comparing AoA to the other Value resorts is unfair. I know Disney classifies it as a Value, but let’s face it, AoA is only a value resort in one building, the Little Mermaid rooms. The rest of the resort is a Moderate Resort…and the price point process this.

    The All-Star resorts are not “that” bad imho. Yes, they are old and could use updating and overhaul, but they are definitely a less expensive option and the food and amenities are good enough. Also, they maintain classic Disney charm with the older character statutes around the resort grounds.

    Thanks, I enjoyed your article!

  • WHAT? You want to take away free sodas on a hot day in Epcot? Are you mad? Mad? Some people never go to Disney Springs, and even if they do, free soda samples in the middle of a theme park when your’e melting is a lot more useful than free soda samples at the end of the day when you’re well away from the parks. If you want to set up something offering ‘healthier’ drinks, then be my guest. But don’t take away my free refreshment!

    And FWIW, I love Coke Zero (now Coke No Sugar) and it is my favorite beverage. So my guess is that we’re just totally different types of people. But I’m certain there are a lot more like me (I see them crowding the Cool Spot every time I’m in Epcot) who appreciate free cold beverages.

    As for Circle of Life, I thought that was already planned to go? I recall reading an article somewhere that said that it would be replaced with a different attraction by 2020…?

  • Calling a Disney resort a “value resort” is an oxymoron of the highest order. No real reason to stay in a room that is of Motel 6 quality and be left with food choices consisting of $15 burgers and fries at the food court when a family can stay at any number of condos in the area for the cost of a value resort room and have the added luxury of preparing reasonably priced food in the condo’s kitchen.

    • No real reason except: Magic express, no car rental, EMH, and the Disney bubble.

      • Even when you crunch the numbers with a car rental and parking, still cheaper to stay offsite.

        Make no mistake about EMH: it is advertised as free for resort guests, but you are paying for it in other ways. Avoiding EMH days and using the well designed touring plans of this site is what works best for me. But to each their own, I guess.

        As for the Disney bubble, it all looks the same from the back of my eyelids, and don’t need it 24 hours a day.

  • Let’s not forget the new years eve incident started by bongos horrible service and the old guy fighting with a manager and people downstairs yelling gun and starting a stampede that cascaded all the way to world of Disney. Mass hysteria!!

  • No trip to Epcot is complete without watching people drinking Beverly. If you’re going to get rid of Club Cool, at least have Beverly come out of one of the water fountains.

  • by Ruth Broadhurst on October 2, 2017, at 5:31 am EDT

    I disagree with your comment regarding the Disney Pixar Show in the old EO/ Honey I shrunk the kids auditorium. My husband and I avoided it for a few trips because of the write ups. This September we decided to go see it…we loved it and will certainly be taking the grandkids to see it next time!

    • I think Derek’s point was that all of the shorts featured in the “festival” are readily available on Netflix, YouTube, and the DVD section of your local Target. The shorts themselves are great, but to string three together and declare them a Fastpass-worthy attraction at one of the world’s most famous theme parks is…not so great.

  • Keep Club Cool! It comes to the rescue on hot afternoons when energy is lagging! And it’s all free!

  • by disneybroadwayfan on October 2, 2017, at 11:35 am EDT

    Have to disagree on the Pixar Festival at Epcot. The films are fun, and the pre-show history of Pixar interviews are interesting and entertaining.

    Also, does your critique of the “one poster” decor at the All Stars apply to POP as well? The updated rooms there have the vibe of IKEA meets college dorm, while one picture of Mickey and one of Pluto (I think, behind the drop down bed) does nothing to go with the different decades, either.

    And as for the bar that you showed…that’s the inside the food court walk up stand where you can order and take it back to your table. The bar service is outside – it’s a pool bar after all. Been to all 3 and they have nice bartenders who pour a strong drink. The difference? The plastic cup they serve it in. Same basic drinks at the pool bars across property from Contemporary to French Quarter to All Star Sports. I’ve tried them all. The lack of snobby attitude found at the All Stars bars is, frankly, refreshing.

  • Totally disagree with Club Cool! It was a fun break midday and was FREE refreshment! Our family loved sampling all the different flavors!

    I also have to say that we loved the Pixar Show – I almost skipped it because of the reviews here but we had some time waiting for our older kids to finish another ride so I took our younger kids to the show. We thoroughly enjoyed it! I thought the 3D effects added to the short films and it was fun to see them featured.

    As a final note: Circle of Life needs to go and yes, my kids were scared straight. My daughter asked as we left, “Mommy, is the planet really going to catch on fire and burn up?” Thanks Simba for that conversation!!

  • So the Value Resort Bar Crawl was just a joke???
    I hate it when I’m the last person to figure out Saturday Six Sarcasm.
    Looks like DW & I will have to plan something else to do for this New Years Eve.

  • I appreciate your criticism of Club Cool (and will now always think of it as the “Drink More Soda” attraction), but I have to echo everyone else here and defend it. Sure, the Disney Springs Coke store offers a better experience, but Club Cool is free and in a great location.

  • In 2005, we stayed at Pop Century for $55 a night. That was a value. When I see those same resorts now showing up at two or three times that (possibly more), it’s silly when you consider the alternatives. I’d rather pay for an off-site condo for the same price. You’re out of the bubble, but the space is definitely worth it.

    • I know! The summer 2017 standard room rate at the All-Star resort is $152 per night! Next June I have already reserved a 3 bedroom, 2 bath condo for $115 per night. The bubble is not worth an extra $40 per night for 1/4 the space.

  • You’ll pry my thimble of Bibo from my hot, bloated hands…

  • Get rid of Club Cool?!?!?! Heresy, shear heresy, bordering on nascent communism 🙂

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