Recently I wrote an article entitled, “A Tale of Two Birthdays” for the AllEars® Newsletter. The article was a commentary on two Walt Disney World attractions, which were about five years old, and how I have seen their “reception” by the guests over the years.
The two attractions are, of course, Soarin’ in EPCOT’s Future World and Stitch’s Great Escape in Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland.
I enjoy and welcome all the emails I receive from readers and I want to share one with you. It comes from Ramona and she writes”¦
“Hi there! I have to start by saying that I am a HUGE fan of both your website and newsletters! I never miss one! You guys are truly wonderful! My life revolves around WDW so I can’t thank you enough for all your information and guidance!! But for the first time ever I just had to write in regarding Mike Scopa’s article, “A Tale of Two Birthdays”. Boy, that was mean! And that was shocking for me, coming from an AllEars newsletter! I am a major Stitch lover (meaning the character) and I totally get that the attraction is not the greatest in the “World” but it felt to me like my poor little Stitch was being personally attacked, not just the attraction. It’s one thing not to like a ride or attraction but I felt this was particularly harsh. Maybe it came across feeling so personal to me was because of the context in which it was written. It seemed as though it was Stitch, not the attraction asking “Will you come back to see me?” It was so sad to me. Now, I truly believe that the world would be a very boring place if people didn’t disagree very now and then, and I understand the message Mike was trying to get across with his article, but I just had to comment on Stitch’s behalf because as I mentioned before, it really was quite harsh. Not to mention the fact that your articles do have an affect on your readers, so I really hope Mike’s article does not discourage anyone from experiencing the attraction who maybe hadn’t before. Poor Stitch!”
Thank you Ramona for sending that email.
Soarin’ continues to entertain guests and the best tribute that an attraction can get comes from when a guest emerges from said attraction and remarks, “I can’t wait to try it again!”
I have introduced Soarin’ to many people, friends and family alike. Of those, there have been at least a dozen who are not thrill ride seekers and were quite reluctant to give this attraction a try. However, after experiencing Soarin’ it became their favorite ride”¦every one of them.
Stitch’s Great Escape, on the other hand, has never hit the mark. On a day when Stitch’s Great Escape was offering a soft opening I happened to be with several friends of mine, very prominent in the Disney internet community. On that particular day my colleagues and I were right around the China Pavilion in EPCOT’s World Showcase when we got the call about Stitch.
We hustled over to The Magic Kingdom and waited for about 40 minutes in line to see this attraction. The five of us went in, experienced the attraction, heard several children cry in terror, and then sat down and discussed the attraction. Of the five of us, three had children and each one of us said we would not bring young children into the attraction.
We questioned many of the components of the attraction and were puzzled as to what the imagineers were trying to do. Should the audience be on Stitch’s side? If so then why was he portrayed as a six-foot monster instead of a cuddly little blue-furred alien? If he needs our support then why does he spit on us?
Since that day I have received many comments from guests and visitors, not just about that attraction, but the other Stitch attractions that have popped up and failed.
As much as it sounds like it’s just my opinion, all you have to do is take note of the covered Fast Pass machines outside Stitch’s Great Escape (do you ever see Soarin’s FP machines without lines?), the short life-span of Stitch’s Supersonic Celebration which lasted just about a month last summer (2009), and the poor reception from the “Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show” which prominently showcased Stitch at the 2009 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
The powers at Walt Disney World, and of course the imagineers, do their best to try and provide their guests with the best attractions in the theme park industry.
But no one is perfect and without guests and bloggers expressing their opinions, imagineers would have no idea as to what components of attractions are most welcomed by their paying guests.
Stitch, an interesting blue-furred, mischievous alien, comes across well on the screen”¦but he is not a viable character for a theme park attraction”¦at least not as he has been portrayed in recent attempts.
Now perhaps if he were the central part of an attraction like Buzz LightYear’s Space Rangers Spin attraction then many of us would feel that way”¦but he isn’t.
Those of us who blog on Disney have a responsibility to two distinct groups”¦first of course is to those who read us”¦who look for thoughts and ideas on all things Disney. For you, we try to provide information and insight to help you perhaps plan vacations or just to get you thinking about certain things in the Disney culture.
We also have an obligation to the Walt Disney Company. That obligation is not to be a shill and say everything that has the Disney moniker is wonderful and perfect but instead to try and express in a most respectful and productive manner, what works and doesn’t work so that those individuals working on concepts and ideas, have a frame of reference to work with so that their “batting average” gets better every year.
It would be a huge disservice to both groups if I or any blogger would refrain from expressing concern or disappointment from a theme park attraction, parade, show, or restaurant that we feel is not up to what we have been used to as far as Disney quality”¦but to that point it helps to try and be creative to let the word out that “it just ain’t workin’.”
The bottom line is that I am a guest, a customer, a patron of the theme parks, and have been such for 40 years and I have seen many things come and go, some have, and continue to be the best things going, while others just seem to miss the mark.
If you or me or anyone visiting the parks do not express what we like and what we don’t like, then we in fact are not helping The Walt Disney Company work towards making their business as successful as it can be.
I don’t know about you, but I want The Walt Disney Company to enjoy success now and well after I am gone. I want my children, my grandchildren, and my great grandchildren bask in Disney Magic and feel that Disney Zone vibe that we all feel.
That means whenever I can, for what it’s worth, I will do the best job I can in letting them know when they strike out, as well as when they hit home runs.
You won’t always agree with me, but as my late uncle use to say, “If everyone agreed on everything then Howard Johnson’s would have never come up with 28 flavors of ice cream!”
Now let me tell you about last year’s decision to remove The Lights of Winter”¦