Six Things Disney Should Bring Back to the Parks
Today is one of those times when I feel like reminiscing.
I’m not one of those people who swear that life was better at some undetermined time in the past because it wasn’t.
The world gets a bit better each year, and that’s doubly true at Disney theme parks.
Over the past few years, we’ve gotten Star Wars, Toy Story, and Avatar themed lands. Soon, we’ll have Frozen and Zootopia.
Disney keeps improving, but there’s still plenty of stuff I miss. Here are six things Disney should bring back.
The Adventurers Club
During Destination D23, Disney officials excitedly informed the audience about an upcoming book series.
The Society of Explorers and Adventurers (the S.E.A.) will move to the forefront in Shinji Takahashi and the Mark of the Coat.
When this book goes on sale in April of 2022, people will learn about new members of the S.E.A.
Disney has a plan to build a theme park universe around characters we don’t really know yet. Their stories will play out on Disney+ and in movie theaters.
Yes, Disney is ready to level up the S.E.A. as an integral part of its storytelling universe.
So, the time seems perfect to bring back the Adventurers Club, the Disney Springs restaurant that provided live entertainment each night.
Here’s MickeyBlog’s previous ode to the greatness of Adventurers Club.
ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter
In 1994, Imagineers grew provocative and daring. As a result, Disney moved away from its own intellectual properties for a while.
The two most ambitious attempts were Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and this attraction, both of which catered more to adults.
Disney felt at least some pressure from the recent debut of Universal Studios Florida, which targeted grown-ups as its primary demographic.
So, Disney tried more mature fare. In the process, Tower of Terror became an instant classic that remains thrilling to this day.
I would argue that the same statement applies to ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter. This terrifying theater attraction gave humans first contact.
Yes, this experience no longer exists, but it would seem almost prescient with its storytelling if it did.
Simply stated, Disney designed an attraction that was 25 years ahead of its time.
For several years after its debut, fans flocked to Alien Encounter, which oddly caused problems. Not everyone loved it.
Kids, in particular, felt traumatized. Of course, that’s not true of all of them, but it was enough for Disney to close it after less than nine years.
Still, I’m devout in my belief that if Disney brought this back today, a newer, more mature generation of fans wouldn’t flinch at it.
Kids have played enough videogames to have a thicker skin about this stuff. And nobody ever questioned the quality of Alien Encounter. It was a masterpiece.
Journey into Imagination
Have you ever watched or, better yet, ridden the original Journey into Imagination?
If you’re under 30, you’re either too young to remember or weren’t alive anyway.
For fans of old-school EPCOT, the loss of Journey into Imagination still stings.
This ride embodied the purity of EPCOT’s vision for a better tomorrow. Anything was possible thanks to the power of imagination!
Then, in 1998, EPCOT officials made the regrettable decision to switch to a millennial version of the concept.
In the process, Disney dumped Figment, the iconic character from the original…and the Dreamfinder, too.
That version lasted two years and a week. It was a disaster.
Since 2002, we’ve had the current ride, Journey into Imagination with Figment, whose leading actor, Eric Idle, claims he doesn’t even remember it.
I find that anecdote telling. The ride you can experience at EPCOT right now is fine, but it’s…missing something.
Disney can and should bring back the original Journey into Imagination as either a perfect replica or a modernized version of the first ride.
Several Character Meals
Some of the requests I’m making are of the pie in the sky variety. Disney moves forward and rarely looks back, save for merchandising.
Once a Disney experience dies, it stays dead. Only a few exceptions exist to the contrary.
Conversely, this suggestion will happen. I just want it to happen sooner. It’s strange for my family to plan Disney vacations right now.
We’re obsessive about character meals and have identified favorites over the years. I’m talking about places like 1900 Park Fare, Akershus, and ‘Ohana.
Right now, none of these places offers a character meal. In fact, 1900 Park Fare and Akershus haven’t even reopened yet at the time of publication.
So, we can’t book our favorites even though Disney is operating some character meals.
Obviously, Disney is still limited capacity, at least somewhat, during the last days of the pandemic, which factors in.
Still, if ‘Ohana is open, I’m not sure why Disney doesn’t have Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Lilo & Stitch greeting guests.
Star Wars Weekends
Let’s be blunt. Disney is in the business of Star Wars now. The impending arrival of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser proves this point.
Of course, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge had already proven it anyway. In fact, Disneyland has only introduced two new themed lands since 1972. Star Wars is one of them.
This brand matters and that’s why it’s crazy to me that Disney ended Star Wars Weekends a few years ago.
Park officials decided that this celebration of the Star Wars universe would ruin the illusion of Batuu, the planet for Galaxy’s Edge.
If people want to spend a few days playing in the Star Wars sandbox, Disney wants them to do so at this themed land or the upcoming Star Wars Hotel.
To my mind, that misses the point. Star Wars Weekends were about having fun with fellow fans.
I mean, I don’t even care about Star Wars, yet I still went several consecutive years.
I have the fondest memories of Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine, a Hollywood & Vine character meal exclusive to the event.
Then, there’s the Star Wars dance-off that still cracks me up whenever I think about it.
How are we not still doing this? Come on, Disney!
The clock’s ticking here, but I haven’t given up hope. On the contrary, I believe that the governor will call any minute now.
Okay, I honestly don’t believe that, as Disney seems pretty set on the idea of retiring Magical Express service.
Until December 31st, tourists can relish this free amenity for official Disney resort guests. It provides free transportation to and from Orlando International Airport (MCO).
Better yet, the transportation is a giant Disney bus that plays Mickey Mouse cartoons and park tips for newbies. It’s wonderful.
While Disney hasn’t technically ended this one yet, I’m already calling for its return because the absence of Magical Express lessens my vacation enjoyment.
Even now, I’m juggling my needs with that of another traveling party. We’re all going to meet at MCO and travel to our resorts, which adds another level of difficulty and stress.
Walt Disney World vacations should come with Magical Express. Period.