Thursday, April 29, 2010

Attractions That Need Just A Little TLC

Earlier this week we had an opportunity to head to the Magic Kingdom for a little while in the morning and early afternoon to let off some steam. It was an absolutely gorgeous day (even slightly on the hot side - mid-80's), so we decided it might be a good time to once again try Splash Mountain.

It had been months since we last rode Splash, and that's for several reasons: 1) It's been a cold winter, 2) It just hasn't worked out recently with our touring, and 3) Last several times we were on it, it REALLY showed its age. And while the main reason of not going on Splash was mostly due to a combination of 1 and 2, when an attraction gets to the point of where Splash had been the last few times we were on it, it bumps down the list of must do's. Especially when attractions like Space Mountain go through the kind of quality refurb it went through. If we were going to dedicate a lot of time to a "Mountain" it would be the newly polished Mountain.

Anyway, we decided to give Splash a try with a fastpass on this beautiful day. It's a miserable wait in that queue when the stand-by lines are long, so fastpass, as with most superheadliner rides, is always recommended for Splash. We got ours and had a return time of about 11:00 a.m. I was actually looking forward to this because I knew it underwent a recent refurbishment, but I didn't now the extent of the changes.

Now, there weren't many "changes", so don't worry - it's still good ol' Splash. But let me tell you - it LOOKS bright, shiny and NEW. It's apparent that they went through this attraction with a fine-tooth comb and took care of basically all the things that needed some TLC. The colors of the painted objects pop. The colors of the lights are bright and bold - which really contrasts well with the large areas of shadow. The dioramas stand out and look beautiful. All the characters are moving the way they're supposed to move now (a fully hopping b'rer rabbit is back!) and they went through and touched up some of the costumes that were really starting to come apart. In a word, the ride looks AWESOME.

Back on April 2nd, we compiled our official list of the of the Top Ten Can't Miss things at Magic Kingdom, and Splash did indeed make the cut. But this refurb kicks it back up the list of attractions at Magic Kingdom toward the very top of the best attractions in this original WDW park.

What they did to Splash got me to thinking about how they could improve certain attractions at The Mouse with just a little TLC and it would make them instantly better. Here are 5 that could benefit from that type of attention:

Norway pavilion, Epcot

Now, I don't want to change anything major on this attraction. I love the weirdness and uniqueness of the ride. It just exudes classic 80's EPCOT Center, and for that it's awesome. But it could use some touching up. Especially the large, flat gray walls that are just way too apparent in too many parts of the attraction. More trees, paint, bushes, drapery and other props need to be included to hide some of those walls - many of which have peeling or cracked paint, show bolts or nails, etc. A few of the animatronics need a little help, too (some are just too clunky at this point). Little improvements would REALLY help Maelstrom and these little things wouldn't ruin the original Spirit of this classic.

Great Movie Ride
Hollywood Studios

OK, some would say this needs MAJOR work. And it does. Some of the scenes could (should?) be replaced with newer movies that might mean a little something more to today's audience. But that doesn't necessarily need to happen with the type of refurb I'm talking about. With GMR, it would be very similar to my suggestions for Maelstrom: new coats of paint, a better job of hiding the walls, more dynamic lighting (like Splash - that would do wonders for GMR), etc. Little things to help sell the illusion of what's currently there just a little better. How about trying to make Tarzan's skin look a little less "plastic"? How about trying to get the Footlight Parade girls to move once again like they did way back when? How about a new face for Sigourney Weaver in the Aliens scene - or at least helping out with snapping, blinking eyes that makes me think of a ventriloquist dummy? They don't need to reinvent the whole attraction if they don't want to dedicate that time and money, but a Splash type refurb would do it a world of good.

Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin
Tomorrowland, Magic Kingdom

Buzz is still pretty good even though Toy Story Mania has really put it to shame as the next generation "shooter" attraction. It's still a lot of fun and has its place (especially with Toy Story 3 almost here), but it really needs some TLC too. I've noticed a lot of places where the neon/blacklight paint it employs needs a new coat. Paint is chipping and faded in certain spots and looks bad. And if it wants to stay competitive with Toy Story Mania at all, they need to address this. Even the guns on some of the cars don't work properly anymore and some are very dirty - a thorough cleaning and new paint jobs needs to happen here as well. Bright, clean colors and lights are probably more important in a ride like this than almost any other.

Living With The Land
The Land, Epcot

I know this just went through a short refurb not that long ago, but it still needs help. Help as in the GMR-type help. A lot of the animatronics are VERY much showing their age - clunky movements, fur that is coming part, etc. Also more dynamic lighting (like Splash) would help the first half of the ride not be so dull and tired in appearance. I know the darker atmosphere is there to help hide some of the structural elements, but like with Maelstrom, there's ways of helping that. Living With The Land needs that help and it'll be just fine.

Primeval Whirl
Dino-Land, USA, Animal Kingdom

OK, we all know that the vast majority of people out there don't like the "theme" of Chester & Hester's Dino-Rama, and in particular, the theme of Primeval Whirl. I'm one of those people. Dino-Rama is the one place in Disney World that I'm ashamed of when it walk by it or through it. I do understand what they were doing when coming up with this theme, but I don't like it. So, with the understanding that the theme is not going away any time soon, at least they could hit a home run WITH this theme. Going on Primeval Whirl not too long ago for Chance's first ride ever on it (we'll post about that soon), gave me the opportunity to once again check it out. They've let it go. So much of it has been damaged by the outdoor elements and time - paint is faded, chipped, cracked. Perhaps new illustrations covering up existing paintings would add new life into this attraction. Let's face it: they could re-paint the whole attraction with all new illustrations and it would be relatively cheap and not all that time-consuming...and might make the thing actually look good. But until then, at least brighten and tighten it up!

All in all, WDW does a great job in keeping up with paint touch-up and the little things that keep the illusion real. They are the masters of attention to detail. But a few of the attractions could benefit from that much-needed TLC.

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