Zamgwar’s 2003 State of the Parks Address

by Zamgwar
All Ears® Feature Writer

Feature Article

This article appeared in the December 25, 2012 Issue #692 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

(EDITOR'S NOTE: This article by our dear friend Zamgwar originally appeared in the September 16, 2003, Issue #208 of AllEars®. As we look ahead to the year 2013, we thought it would be fun to revisit his thoughts on the state of the Walt Disney World theme parks, nearly a decade later.)

Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.

This is for all those with trip countdown clocks that read more than 365 days, and for those who are packed and ready to go. It's for the folks who have been a hundred times, and for all those who have never been.

I am very happy to report, at least in my eyes, all is well in Mousedom.

It is important to understand I do not travel as a critic. I do not go as a connoisseur of all things Disney. I do not go to inspect for burnt out light bulbs or to wax poetic about things that used to be. I do not travel with a Palm Pilot to make notes on things I've seen or done.

I go to marvel over the "theater" of it all. I go to make sure I haven't lost touch with the 9-year-old who lives inside my heart somewhere. I go to make fond memories. I go to have fun!

And fun I had once again.

In spite of more than 12 trips since the late '80s, the warmth, colors, sounds and "magic" of passing beneath the Walt Disney World Railroad Station and emerging on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom STILL makes my heart soar, and a smile stretch from ear to ear. It's a place where you'll find that time doesn't move — you can lock into a childhood where Mom held your hand while crossing the street, and Dad would protect you from everything.

The air on your face in the Astro Orbiter still makes you momentarily forget that it will take the jaws of life to remove two full-size adults from the tight ride vehicle. The Mad Tea Party teacups still make you squeal with delight as the rest of the park becomes a spinning blur. Pirates of the Caribbean is still a hoot, and would be even if there wasn't a blockbuster movie — the movie just adds a storyline little kids can relate to. Space Mountain still causes you to yell "AGAIN" at the end. At night's end, the lights of the park still twinkle like fairies sitting on every building and in every tree.

Epcot continues to be an amazing jewel in the Disney crown of theme parks. It constantly reminds you there is no other park like it on Earth. From the Dancing Fountains and zipping two-wheeled Segways to the wonderful countries peacefully existing side by side, Epcot screams, "The Future is going to be all right!"

As you stand alongside the pond in the Rose Garden next to the Imagination Pavilion's reverse waterfall and watch a monorail go overhead, the Land Pavilion jutting up through the trees, the urge to take your camera out and once again photograph a scene you already have 20 pictures of from previous trips has not diminished.

It is that much a feast for the eyes.

Off Kilter in Canada hasn't lost a beat yet. IllumiNations and the movie in American Adventure still prompt the ole peepers to well up and make you to wipe away a tear of joy before the lights come up. As "She Who Must Be Obeyed" pointed out to whining children she passed during the week (a la Tom Hanks): "There's no crying in Disney World!"

The Tree of Life continues to be one of the most amazing theme park icons ever built, and the entire Animal Kingdom hasn't stopped its climb up my personal list of "Favorite Disney Parks". Its many paths continue to invite those not in a rush to discover their way to serene moments with living attractions. The Tusker House rotisserie chicken is still the tastiest counter food in the parks.

The rainbow colors of neon signs in Disney-MGM Studios haven't dulled one bit from time. The Muppets have not yet reached the list of attractions we can skip. As always, a limo ride with Aerosmith on the Rock 'N' Roller Coaster pumps you full of adrenaline as you roar into the darkness. The Cobb Salad at the Brown Derby maintains its "yummy" ranking.

Considering all the Disney Orlando parks are at the top of the list for "Global Theme Park attendance" all things still seem pretty squeaky clean and brand new. No small task for those Cast Members who must maintain it. No disappointment for those who visit.

While it is all well and good to say everything is as it was and always has been, it's even better to say a few things have even gotten better.

Animal Kingdom's cover gets thicker and more lush every year. Animals are more abundant. Dare I say it? I rode Primeval Whirl twice because it spins like a banshee, and I screamed like a Girly Man. Chester and Hester's Dino-Rama was packed with kids. Regardless of my personal distaste for the area, it is increasing the park's "family" gate. The growing attendance numbers will bring new attractions. The construction of Expedition Everest, the new coaster slated to open in 2006, is evidence of that.

Perhaps it was the summer's heat, or maybe I'm just older and more forgiving, but the Sorcerer's Hat at the Studios isn't as offensive to me as it was the last trip. It's more open without the stage beneath it and somehow seems to "fit" more. Perhaps in time I'll even like it. Streetmosphere performers seemed more in abundance than ever before. The Stars and Motor Cars parade, which I skipped last year because I'm not a "daytime" parade fan, is one of the most enjoyable parades I've seen in awhile. It was nifty.

Tower of Terror 4 surprises you each and every time now. The new random drop profile is sheer genius.

Edible "attractions" at restaurants get better and better each and every visit. Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge is now a "must do" for us, forever.

In all parks, the live music seems to have grown and was once again "everywhere".

Mission: SPACE puts Disney Imagineers back on the map.

All in all, everything within the borders of the realm of The Mouse still remains practically perfect in every way. It is vacation entertainment at its best. It causes you to forget work and remember fun. It makes anything you may spend, and any time off you take to get there, a bargain for the good memories you'll bring back. While Cinderella Castle can never compete with the natural wonders of this marvelous planet, or the amazing things built by its ancient civilizations, there is still nothing like it to put a smile on your face.

That's My2Cnts. What's yours?

Office of Annual Re-Mousing Trips
The Zamgwar Institute


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Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.