Think you know all there is to know about Disney, its theme parks around the world, and its attractions?
Well, you might just learn something new very soon! Back in July, Behind the Attraction became available to stream on Disney+. This show doesn’t just show you behind-the-scenes details, let you hear amazing stories straight from the Imagineers themselves, and teach you all kinds of things you didn’t know — it also will (likely) make you chuckle!
In each episode of Behind the Attraction, you’ll get the chance to learn some of the most interesting stories behind your favorite rides. This might remind you of The Imagineering Story, but this show is actually VERY different when it comes to tone and humor. Check out the trailer below and you’ll get a sense of this show’s unique style.
Immediately you get the sense that this show’s trying to go for something different, something funny — which is really unique and refreshing.
We were lucky enough to be invited to a Behind the Attraction press conference held by Disney featuring some of the key individuals featured in and behind the show, and the humor is something that was immediately pointed out. During the conference, executive producer Brian Volk-Weiss was asked to describe the show in one sentence and he noted that it’s a show that’s first and foremost designed to entertain, but hopefully when it’s over you might have learned something.
Volk-Weiss noted that much of his early career was in comedy, which explains the unique humor of this show. He also shared that it’s a show talking about a happy subject so it shouldn’t take itself too seriously!
Volk-Weiss specifically noted that the show is different from The Imagineering Story in that it really tries to get into the fun. He noted that this show really goes for those fun nuggets of information or circumstances that helped build the pop culture we’re in now or that allowed Disney to continue to have a big voice in our culture.
When asked what interesting thing he learned while working on the show Brian noted that he thought he was an expert in Disney, but quickly saw that he had MUCH to learn. When talking about the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage ride in Disneyland, Brian noted that an Imagineer explained to him how they’ve moved cables and plumbing through that area for attractions that won’t be built for 15-20 years. While the guests might be just enjoying the rides here and now, Disney’s always thinking years into the future.
As you would have seen in the trailer above, Dwayne Johnson is an executive producer on the show. During the conference, Volk-Weiss shared how Johnson loves Disney as much as anyone who was there during the conference, and that he was always willing to help with what the show needed.
Vanessa Hunt (Senior Design Asset Specialist at Walt Disney Imagineering) noted that Johnson actually toured part of Imagineering’s collection of art when he was working on Jungle Cruise, and how he wanted to learn about the Imagineers who brought Jungle Cruise to life.
We all know that a lot of work goes on behind the scenes to make a Disney ride happen, but Volk-Weiss put it perfectly during the conference. Volk-Weiss shared that Disney attractions are like icebergs — the public sees maybe 2% of the ride, but if they knew about the infrastructure that makes these attractions work, they’d be blown away. Behind the Attraction gives all of us the chance to jump in the water and see more of the iceberg!
Jeanette Lomboy (Vice President/Site Portfolio Executive at Walt Disney Imagineering) noted that the stories featured in the show are ones that guests never get to hear, and that the Imagineers were asked questions about things they don’t typically get to talk about.
Dave Durham (Executive, Creative Ride Engineering at Walt Disney Imagineering) said that this show gave the Imagineers the chance to speak in a way where they don’t have to bite their tongues. They get to share it all — the history, the fun, and the challenges.
If you’re wondering what to expect when it comes to the structure of the show, there will be 10 episodes and there’s a LOT packed into each one. The first 5 episodes started streaming on July 21st.
Volk-Weiss noted that in the show itself they may focus on a small detail and then over the rest of the episode they’ll reveal more of the meaning behind the story and more context. He shared that it’s like a connect-the-dots game. By the time you finish the shows, you’ll be able to connect the dots. And when you see things in the park that have been discussed in the show it’ll all hit you and you’ll be reminded of the cool facts you’ve learned.
What will each of the episodes in this series cover? Here’s a FULL list of the episodes and the descriptions Disney has provided for each of them:
- Jungle Cruise: Join a skipper for the story behind Jungle Cruise, and try to spot the backside of water! When Walt decided to create the original immersive attraction, he tasked Imagineers with building a river in the Southern California desert AND the mechanical animals to populate it. Lead designer Harper Goff and horticulturist Bill Evans scrambled to get it all built in time for Disneyland® Park’s grand opening in 1955. Guests have been cruising its waters ever since. Dwayne Johnson also appears in this episode where he discusses his childhood memories of the attraction and his favorite joke from the skippers.
- Haunted Mansion: Welcome, foolish mortals, to the Haunted Mansion — enter if you dare! When Walt Disney developed the attraction, he didn’t specify if it should be funny or scary. Ultimately, it became a perfect blend of both. Haunted Mansion proved so popular that it inspired several later iterations, including the chilling Phantom Manor at Disneyland Paris and the weird and wonderful Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland.
- Star Tours: Lightspeed to Endor! A long time ago…Disney created Star Tours, a thrilling simulator attraction that takes guests to a galaxy far, far away. It inspired Imagineers to build a whole new land — Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. There, guests can use the Force to explore the remote outpost of Batuu and the cutting-edge attractions Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror: Discover the ups (and downs!) of creating this gravity-defying attraction set in the eerie world of Rod Serling’s renowned “Twilight Zone” television series. Then hold on tight as Imagineers reimagine the Disney California Adventure version as Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! Learn what it took to build the attraction — and what it takes to ride it!
- The Castles: Castles are at the heart of Disney Parks around the world. The original at Disneyland® Resort in California quickly became a symbol of The Walt Disney Company on par with Mickey Mouse. Hear the unique story behind each one and learn how Imagineers designed and built them.
- Disneyland Hotel: Disneyland® Resort with no hotel — what?! It almost happened. Check in to see how Walt got it built. Envisioned as an extension of the Park, funding for the hotel proved hard to come by, so Walt struck a deal with producer Jack Wrather. Jack would own the hotel, but Walt’s name would be on it. Together, they made it into an immersive experience, setting the stage for all Disney hotels to come. After Jack’s death, The Walt Disney Company bought the Disneyland® Hotel. Today, Disney operates dozens of hotels worldwide.
- Space Mountain: You’re about to hear the story of Space Mountain in T-minus 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…launch! Walt’s vision of an attraction that simulates space travel was a design challenge Imagineer John Hench tackled head on, creating a signature structure now in Disney Parks around the world. Imagineers continued the tradition by creating another thrilling indoor attraction, the landmark TRON Lightcycle Power Run at Shanghai Disney Resort.
- “it’s a small world”: It all began at the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair! If a chance encounter between an Academy Award®-winning actress and Walt Disney hadn’t taken place, this beloved attraction might never have been created. With its signature, unforgettable song, its flume boat ride design, and Audio-Animatronics® figures, it was a huge success. Versions were designed and built in Disney Parks around the planet, proving that it really is a small world, after all!
- Trains, Trams, and Monorails: All aboard! Everything moves at Disney Parks, especially the guests — by land, water, and air! Walt loved locomotion of all kinds — trains, trams, monorails, and boats. They’re all fun, but Walt also believed the monorail could help cities end traffic. The vast transportation network at Walt Disney World Resort is a testament to that. Every Disney Park built since has continued this tradition, creating transportation systems to whisk guests efficiently to their destinations.
- Hall of Presidents: This unprecedented presidential attraction in Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom brings our commanders in chief to life. Walt created the world’s first human Audio-Animatronics® figure based on his childhood hero, Abraham Lincoln. Honest Abe helped launch this revolutionary technology that populates Disney Parks today. Who knows what the future holds for this mesmerizing Disney technology?
We can’t wait to see what kinds of amazing information we get to learn (and how many laughs we have along the way) as we take a peek at these attractions in a new and unique way. Remember that the first five episodes of Behind the Attraction are streaming now on Disney+!
Are you going to be checking out the Behind the Attraction show on Disney+? Tell us in the comments!
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Disclosure: We were invited by Disney to attend a media preview/press conference about Behind the Attraction. This did not affect our reporting of the event — our opinions are our own.