This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six of Disney’s (Not So) Secret Plans for the Next 5 Years. This past week The Unofficial Guide’s Disney Dish with Jim Hill podcast went over a lot of exciting possibilities for Walt Disney World’s near future. The show was the talk of the theme park world, and while it was loaded with a metric ton of information, scintillating rumors, and insider scoops, we’re going to count down the six biggest takeaways of this audio starting with…
# 6 – The Sorcerer’s Hat ain’t going anywhere…
Haters gonna hate. (photo by Matt Cleary and Brandon Glover)
The era of nightmares doesn’t seem to be coming to an end anytime soon over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Jim Hill says that despite the fact that many guests see the giant Sorcerer’s hat sitting in the middle of the park as the biggest eyesore since Cinderella Castle was turned into a giant pink birthday cake, it serves an important purpose to the park. More to the point, the stage below the ugly hat plays a vital roll in allowing DHS to hold various live shows and draw the crowds away from popular attractions such as Tower of Terror and Toy Story Midway Mania.
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Here is what went on last week, just in case you missed any of the great content:
Did you know that Dixie Landings was originally going to be built next to Downtown Disney? The idea was that Fulton’s Crab House would be one of the icons (as well as a snazzy restaurant) marking the entrance to this resort from DTD. Hear the whole story as Jim walks us through the history of Disney’s hotel development starting from Disneyland and going up through the Eisner era.
Jim walks us through the history of Pirates of the Caribbean, first as the 1968 release Blackbeard’s Ghost (with Peter Ustinov), then as an attraction at Disneyland. Jim points out that even in the 1960’s, the attraction was borrowing scenes from the movie. Fast forward to the Pirates franchise movie franchise today, and you see a cycle where the movie borrows from the rides, then the rides borrow from the movie, and the cycle repeats with every sequel.
Join Jim and me as we discuss the history of Tokyo Disneyland, from its conception through opening day and its reception by the Japanese people. While the Oriental Land Company had long wanted a Disneyland of its own, it wasn’t until the late 1970’s when Disney finally took the idea seriously. Hear what it was like to be in those negotiations and how future projects, such as Tokyo DisneySea, also happened. And Jim has a surprisingly not disturbing discussion on Tokyo secretaries.
One of the ideas discussed for keeping Future World “future-y” is to invite college and university R&D labs to exhibit their ideas. In 2008, for example, the folks at MIT’s User Innovation Lab were working with 3-D printers – three or four years before they became relatively common. Showing ideas such as those, while still in their infant stages, would give Epcot an element of “here’s the future” it’s (mostly) lacking.
How would you suggest Epcot bring back its future-looking perspective?
Episode 36 of the Unofficial Guide’s Disney Dish podcast is out. Recorded last week at the Magic Kingdom, Jim Hill and I cover the history of Disney’s Hall of Presidents. From early demos using the head of Confucius, to then state-of-the-art animatronics for Abe Lincoln, Jim tells the story of how Walt got the idea for a patriotic show, then iterated through its design to its current form.
In this show, Jim and I walk through Disneyland’s Toontown and discuss how it came to be built. As soon as the early 1960’s, Disney realized that guests wanted to interact more with their favorite characters. Things really took off in the early 1980’s, though, when inexpensive videotape recorders began to replace 8 mm film recorders for home movies, and families no longer had to worry about the cost of filming longer and longer interactions with the characters.
Toontown is also one of the rare Disney theme park features that moved west from Disney World, instead of the other way around. Jim talks about how Mickey’s 60th birthday party finally kickstarted the development of Toontown, and how the success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit gave Disneyland it’s own version of the land.
Episode 26 of the Unofficial Guide’s podcast is out. Join Jim and me as we walk through what Disneyland’s Main Street USA was like when it opened, and what Walt had planned for that part of the park. Recorded live on Main Street in Disneyland.
Episode #24 (iTunes link / MP3 link) details the steps Disney went through to boost attendance at DCA. Jim covers Disney’s introduction of “quick fix” live shows, through the development of Little Mermaid, World of Color and Cars Land. Recorded live in DCA in October 2012.