Honor Hunter over at the Blue Sky Disney blog shed some light on the long awaited games update of the Toy Story Midway Mania attraction. When this attraction first opened, we were told its technology could be updated in a matter of days to bring in and move out various carnival games depending on things like the holiday (Christmas, Halloween and so on) or a special promotion (such as the upcoming release of Toy Story 3). It was a great idea, but two years later it hasn’t materialised – perhaps soon it will.
This brings me to the subject of this blog entry; why can’t more Disneyland attractions be modified so that big changes can be brought about at different periods. Certainly this isn’t new; the Country Bear Jamboree traditionally had its Christmas and Vacation makeovers, the Haunted Mansion and “it’s a small world” at Disneyland have their Christmas updates, Space Mountain at Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland have dipped their toes in the water with the Halloween ‘Ghost Galaxy’ makeovers, and we’ve been given the (unsuccessful) Rockin’ California Screamin’ and Rockin’ Space Mountain (I preferred the original RockIt Mountain name).
But the most intriguing idea was never green-lit: Pirates of the Scareibbean – a makeover of Pirates that would, every night, transform it into a boat ride through a haunted pirate world of ghost buccaneers, cursed treasure and voodoo spells. So, the proposal: why not run with this and have the attractions so that they can be modified nightly into vastly different attractions to their daytime counterparts?
The first problem people bring up is how you would do the changeover, but I think there are solutions for this. Firstly, extremely efficient systems would need to be in place to complete the transition as quickly as possible. With appropriate investment, everything could be automated so that the entire thing could theoretically be done at the push of a button. Similar to this is how to manage the queue during the changeover. Perhaps it could be announced that after, say, 6pm, the attraction would have its changeover. Have a Castmember enter the queue at 6 and until they reach the actual load continue the attraction as normal. When they do reach the queue, shut the ride down, perform the switchover, and then let the guests who joined the queue after 6pm experience the new version of the ride.
In effect, Disneyland could effectively increase the number of attractions they have without anywhere the near the levels of investment it would typically require. The program would involve both reimagining existing rides, as well as constructing new rides with this idea in mind (just as Midway Mania has already been done).
- Perhaps we could have a change to Space Mountain where, instead of flying through space, we’re entering the Tron-like interior of a computer: CyberSpace Mountain.
- Or a Jungle Cruise which changes from the typical comedic spiel and instead performs the story of a jungle expedition to recover an ancient artefact.
- Maybe a different film could be played in the Magic Eye, Muppets or Bugs Life theatres. In fact, there's precedent for this: back in 1984, Tomorrowland's CircleVision theatre rotated showings of 'American Journeys' and Epcot's 'Wonders of China'.
- Could the Haunted Mansion be changed so that after sundown it becomes genuinely scary?
Subtle changes can have a major difference on attractions; major changes can completely transform them. By changing the music, changing the voice recordings of the animatronics, altering the lighting or perhaps adding in costumed actors to add new surprises, practically new attractions could be added to Disneyland’s line-up at a fraction of the cost. Of course, this seems very much a Disneyland possibility catering to the locals rather than Walt Disney World's tourist market.
Some fans may yell at me for altering classics like Pirates or Mansion, but Haunted Mansion Holiday already alters it; and I would still want the original attractions to be available throughout the majority of the day. But it would be cool experiment, no?