Over the past few years, Disney’s trend at the theme parks is to take existing properties like Star Wars or Avatar and create attractions and lands out of them. Thanks to the popularity of Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter land, it doesn’t seem like this trend is slowing down. Walt did think of properties when building his original theme park but he also wanted to create new original ideas for his park. So when did Disney decide to slow it’s building of original concepts.
Does media have a hand in this? Creating buzz for something like Star Wars Land is much simpler than opening something nobody has ever heard of. Does Disney choose to market it’s Intellectual attractions over it’s original attractions? What will the future look like? Will something like Bugs Land or Cars Land stand the test of time like Adventureland or Frontierland have?
One of the things that was tough to visualize after Keith left the podcast was how some of our shows would play out, especially our signature series, Armchair Imagineers. Asking Angie to play the role of co-host in a game is difficult, especially when you know she doesn’t like games usually. However, she enjoyed the idea of jumping on board to imagineer some Disney ideas.
Meanwhile, we never felt like we ran out of people we wanted to invite onto the show. We met Scott Campbell (@ScottACampbell) from Dixie Landings Radio in person down at Epcot back in April. We had talked on Twitter but meeting up over some margaritas at La Cava del Tequila was a way to ignite some ideas, one of which was to get him on the show for an episode of Armchair Imagineers.
Scott knows tons about hotels and hospitality because it’s been his profession for a few years now and he even worked at the Swan and Dolphin on Walt Disney World property, so the easy choice here was to Imagineer a new hotel on property with the stipulation that it must be a moderate resort similar to the old Dixie Landings hotel (aka Port Orleans Riverside).
Email Josh at Josh@ModernMouseRadio.com
Keith and Josh are back with an argument as old as film itself? Should there be sequels? For Disney, this is a debate. Providing original content or taking that effort to put forth a sequel? Josh and Keith take sides and give their reasons. What are your thoughts on sequels to films?
Email Josh at ModernMouseRadio@Yahoo.com
Things don’t always go as planned. Our Cars night was one of those instances. My stepdaughter is now 12 years old. She is at an age where she wants to start hanging out with her friends on the weekends. The weekend we had our Cars night scheduled was one of those weekends. Of course, my 3 ½ was disappointed she didn’t get to see her big sister, but she still wanted to do Cars night since it was her pick. On with the show, right?
The decorations: I used a black table cloth and cut out white lines from construction paper to create lines for a road. We then used all of my little one’s toy cars as decorations for our “road”. I also purchased Cars plates and napkins from Oriental Trading Company.
The menu: Lightening McQueen’s race cars, Mater’s mac & cheese, Sally’s salad and stop light treats. For the race car sandwiches, I made barbeque chicken. I just took boneless skinless chicken breasts and seasoned them with a chicken seasoning (I used Penzeys Spices 33rd and Galena chicken and pork rub). Then I placed the chicken in a slow cooker and covered with barbeque sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s) and cooked on low for 6 hours. About an hour before we ate, I shredded the chicken with two forks. To assemble the race car sandwiches, I took whole wheat hoagie rolls and hollowed out the center. I took four pretzel sticks and inserted them into each corner with a pickle on the end for the wheels. I then filled the hollowed out center with the barbeque chicken. I think they turned out super cute!
I actually let my daughter make the stop light treats all by herself. She loves helping out in the kitchen. She took a graham cracker stick and dipped it in vanilla frosting. She then topped the frosted side with one red M&M, one yellow M&M, and one green M&M to look like a stop light. She did a great job and was so proud of herself for making them without any help!
The activity: I purchased some balloon car racers from Oriental Trading Company. I wanted to take them outside, but it was too cold, so we ended up racing in the living room. I learned the hard way that the balloons don’t blow up very big. They pop pretty easily! My daughter had a blast with these and is still playing with them.
Even though she missed her big sister, my daughter said it was the best movie night ever and that I am “the best cooker ever”. Of course, she says that after ever movie night, but I don’t think I will ever get tired of hearing it.
It’s big sister’s turn to pick, so she picked Toy Story. I absolutely love Toy Story and plan on going completely overboard. Stay tuned for our Toy Story Triple Feature: All three movies, three themed meals, and three Toy Story activities!
The D23 Expo has come and gone again for the 3rd time. Overall, I had a blast covering the bit announcements for the site. Some things were common knowledge, even for people who don’t consider themselves hardcore Disney fans, and there were also some unexpected announcements that came. Highlights came in all shapes and sizes, including Bill Hader dressed as a sea cucumber, Alan Meinken and Richard Sherman performing, a fabulous rendition of “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” during the spotlight of Saving Mr. Banks, and the fact that everyone in the Disney Interactive presentation got a Sorcerer Mickey figure to play in Disney Infinity. Despite all of this great stuff happening, there still seem to be some holes that weren’t filled in at D23. People were asking left and right about several things that weren’t even mentioned at the conference. So what didn’t happen at D23? Here are my top 5 announcements not made at the D23 Expo 2013.
#5-CarsLand at Hollywood Studios. There has been lots of hype around possible changes coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. People are clearly against the “Lights, Motors, Action” show and the Backlot Tour is looks more and more like the Muppet Studios tour that Gary, Mary, and Walter visit in “The Muppets”. It’s not the great half day tour that it used to be when the park was still an actual working studio. Disney is aware of it too and has been asking guests about possible new lands and attractions at Hollywood Studios. This would have been an opportune time to announce new additions to a park that seems to need help in many park guest’s eyes. Since the debut of Cars Land over at California Adventure, rumors have been rampant about the land coming to Hollywood studios. Even if it wasn’t Cars Land, something should be announced for the park.
#4-The use of technology from Paperman. Since last year’s release of Wreck It Ralph, people have been buzzing on the animation from Paperman and the integration of 2D and 3D animation. We got so many animated film announcements from Disney, DisneyToons, and Pixar, but none of them mentioned that they would be integrating that style of animation into the new films. Personally, I was really looking to Disney to announce Big Hero 6 as a mash up of 2D and 3D animation to give it more of a comic book kind of look, but that didn’t happen. Can someone please tell me that this style of animation is happening again in a full length feature film?
#3-Avatarland. We got the original announcement for Avatarland soooooooo long ago, but we have yet to get any sort of details. Originally, we all thought that the dragon technology used at New Fantasyland was going to be part of some big Avatar announcement. Then we all thought the D23 Expo would shed some light on the subject, but they instead decided to tease Avatarland at the Imagineering pavilion. It baffles me that Imagineering didn’t get it’s own big presentation, but even at the pavilion there weren’t any major announcements we hadn’t already seen.
#2-ReImagining Disneyland’s Tomorrowland. Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland was one of the big topics to hit the stage at the D23 Expo followed up with a Tomorrowland pavilion being opened. Despite all of this Tomorrowland talk, Disneyland’s Tomorrowland has been in need of major changes and their have been rumors of more Marvel characters to come to that side of Disneyland. What’s going to happen to the futuristic world at the Happiest Place on Earth? We don’t know because there weren’t any announcements. I had made a big prediction that Disney would unveil some big master plan about revamping the land but nothing came out about Disneyland at all. Nothing new is coming to Disneyland!
#1-Star Wars. Were there Star Wars film announcements? NO! Were there Star Wars theme park land announcements? NO! Are there tons of sci-fi nerds hoping for a big announcement? YES! Are those same nerds extremely disappointed? DEFINITELY! Myself included. Disney announced that Episodes 7, 8, and 9 were coming which we already knew. They also announced J.J. Abrams as director which was also already knew. That was it. End of story. No major characters making their presence on stage. (Vader met up with Tony Baxter at the Legends Ceremony but that doesn’t count.) To make everyone happy, it would have been nice to hear about a plot or where they thought the saga would go. Instead we got the silent treatment when it came to the adventures of Skywalker.
What do you think Disney missed out on at the D23 Expo? Was this still the best Expo they’ve had. What were your favorite announcements? What would you have liked to come out of the conference? Leave your thoughts and comments to keep this conversation going!
In the 1950’s, cars were a big deal. How big of a deal? Big enough for Walt Disney to build three separate Autopia tracks at Disneyland. Yes, at one point Disneyland had not only the original Tomorrowland Autopia speedway, but it also had the Junior/Fantasyland Autopia speedway, and the Midget Autopia speedway, which was also in Fantasyland. California was known for it’s car culture and Disneyland was no exception to that. President Eisenhower had yet to sign the Interstate Highway legislation but it had been talked about for some time. Autopia was one of Disneyland’s original attractions and has been the symbol of a great American past time for years. People drive in their cars for miles to get to Disneyland, just to jump into an Autopia car and travel at 7 miles per hour. It’s almost a rite of passage and one of those Disney attractions that everyone must do.
The original (or OG) Autopia attraction is the Tomorrowland version. That’s because in 1955, cars traveling on the multi-lane interstate highway system was seen as a futuristic idea. At that time, cars had to travel neighborhood or local streets instead of using the much faster freeways. That meant, this attraction looked into the world of tomorrow and was suited for it’s themed land. Unsurprisingly, the attraction was popular, especially amongst the younger guests who didn’t have their driver’s license yet. As great as its popularity was, the cars themselves took a serious beating because of it. It might seem unfamiliar but in the early years of Autopia, the cars were not kept in place by a barrier rail going down the center of the road. That allowed drivers to smash into each other in any way possible. The center rail wouldn’t be installed on Tomorrowland’s Autopia track until 1965. In Disneyland’s first 3 years of operation, Autopia went through 4 fleets of cars for the attraction alone. That’s quite the bill for motor cars.
Due to the popularity of the Tomorrowland Autopia, the Junior Autopia was built in 1956 in Fantasyland. This attraction did have the center rail, keeping cars from getting too banged up. I guess they learned their lesson the second time around. This track was practically the same as Tomorrowland’s version. It had the same freeway theme and some of the same signage. Junior Autopia was renamed the Fantasyland Autopia in 1959 but didn’t get any major updates until 1991 during the Disney Afternoon takeover. Disney Afternoon took over part of Fantasyland as a promotion for the television block of animated cartoons. That’s when this version of Autopia became the Rescue Rangers Speedway. The attraction featured Chip, Dale, Gadget, and the rest of the team from the popular cartoon series for an entire year before the makeover was torn down and it once again became the Fantasyland Autopia in 1992. The attraction continued to stay open until both Tomorrowland and Fantasyland versions closed in 1999 for a complete overhaul. (We will come back to that in a moment.)
The third version of Autopia was the Midget Autopia. It opened in 1957. It sat near the Storybook Canal and took up the space that eventually went to It’s A Small World. Again, this attraction was built due to the popularity of the other two versions. The nice thing about the Midget Autopia is that adults weren’t even allowed on it. The smaller cars and smaller track allowed for kids to have their own version without having Mom or Dad drive them, as the other versions needed a parent on board if you were 7 years old or younger. As you can imagine, this attraction only lasted a few years because it would be replaced by It’s A Small World in 1966. (Thanks a lot Rolly Crump!)
The remaining two versions of Autopia got a new fleet of cars in 1967. These cars cost $5,000 each and were designed like the new Corvette Stingrays. These cars, dubbed the Mark VI fleet stayed as the fleet until Autopia closed down in 1999. These cars were kept so long due to their expense. They were deemed cheaper to fix up than replace, plus their body style looked nice. By 1999 they had gotten their use and were scrapped for new cars.
The new cars debuted with the new Autopia attraction in 2000. The Fantasyland and Tomorrowland versions were no longer separate. The new version had a longer track, an entrance in Tomorrowland, and was sponsored by Chevron. Several types of cars are all now available. An off road jeep, a sports car, and a Volkswagon Bug are the cars riders will get. These cars even have personalities and names; Dusty, Sparky, and Suzy. This was even before Pixar made Cars so keep that in mind. This wasn’t a rip off. The new Autopia also had some new scenery including new billboards, an off road area, and a scenic view, including a nice passover by the Monorail if you time it right. The longer track also allowed for more cars which now helps keep lines moving. The newer cars are also more green. They still use gas, but don’t use as much and produce less pollution.
Autopia did lose it’s Chevron sponsorship in 2012. The loss of it’s sponsor plus the debut of Carsland at California Adventure has taken it’s toll on the attraction. It’s become less popular over the last few years, especially with the continuing Space theme in Tomorrowland. Autopia seems to be out of place. Will it see it’s end in the near future? That’s uncertain. The attraction has inspired duplicates at every major Disneyland style park so far so it may be an attraction that never dies. Only time will tell what’s in store for the cars of Autopia.
What are your thoughts on Autopia? Do you like it? Do you hate it? What are your favorite memories or stories? Leave your comments below, and until next time, keep on cruising.