Should Disney Update These Classic Attractions?
Every once in a while, the rumor mill percolates with new updates for some of Disney’s most historically significant show attractions.
Over the past four years, each of the shows I’m about to discuss has faced whisper campaigns about its future.
Disney apparently won’t cancel any of these shows (hooray!), but the company has considered modernizing them for current theme park guests.
Should Disney update these four classic shows? Let’s evaluate the pros and cons.
Country Bear Jamboree
Walt Disney planned this attraction as the primary Disney element of a potential ski resort at Mineral King.
At the time, Audio-Animatronics were brand new and the pinnacle of Disney Imagineering.
The Country Bears show would have reminded people that they were visiting a Disney vacation destination even though it was a ski slope in the mountains.
Alas, those plans collapsed due to bureaucracy. After Uncle Walt’s death, those plans relocated to Orlando in the form of this opening day Magic Kingdom attraction.
This show is so much fun. I genuinely wish that more people had an open mind when they entered the theater.
Yes, Country Bear Jamboree looks like a somehow older version of Chuck E. Cheese, which isn’t great since that business is dying.
Still, I’d describe the presentation as timeless enough that fans overlook its flaws. And some of the musical choices are hysterical.
Let’s be realistic about this place. The Critter Country version at Disneyland closed in 2001. It was already outdated then.
The original attraction works differently, though. Disney cannot callously discard anything that Walt Disney personally had a hand in creating.
Still, there’s a reason why you rarely wait more than ten minutes to watch Country Bear Jamboree. It just ain’t that popular these days.
I think we’d all be fine with Disney changing a couple of songs. In fact, we’ve advanced enough with Audio-Animatronics that a rotation should be possible.
Disney should be able to randomize the various country and western musical numbers. Matching the writing to these updated songs shouldn’t be hard.
I’m not okay with Disney ending Country Bear Jamboree, but giving them occasionally different country music ditties shouldn’t bother anyone, even the diehard loyalists.
Hall of Presidents
Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln demonstrated the realism of Audio-Animatronics to amazed guests at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
Obviously, Disney only built one robotic Abe Lincoln for this show. That original went to Disneyland.
When Walt Disney World opened, park officials desired something similar but on a grander scale.
Disney constructed Audio-Animatronics for all the Presidents of the United States and has continued to add them.
Walt Disney was all about patriotism, and he would have beamed with pride at this remarkable achievement.
We take the technology for granted. It’s an entire room full of lifelike Audio-Animatronics. During Uncle Walt’s day, ONE animatronic shocked the world.
Also, this attraction didn’t exist in any form during Walt Disney’s lifetime. So, it’s one that Disney could change with less of an outcry from park purists.
This attraction has turned oddly political in recent years. In fact, some speculated whether Disney would even construct a robot for one recent POTUS.
When his successor won the election, many Disney insiders believed that Magic Kingdom might shut down the attraction for good to avoid all the drama.
Yeah, this one can go. We live in a politically divided society that seems to depress 30 percent of the population each election cycle.
We’ve reached a point where even something as optimistic and well-intended as the Hall of Presidents can cause a small percentage of the audience to boo or mock.
Rumors persist of a Hamilton-themed attraction. Yes, that would come with its own series of challenges, but I think it’s better than what we currently have.
Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
Walt Disney loved this ride so much, probably because it was biographical to an extent.
From its beginning, the Carousel of Progress demonstrated how much better life has gotten for each generation that followed the last.
The four settings start with the earliest days of municipal power and evolve to a Christmas dinner that includes virtual reality video games.
Obviously, Disney has updated the last scene over the years, but the first three-quarters of Carousel of Progress still tells the same story as when Walt was alive.
I think I just laid those out for you. It’s as directly a Walt Disney attraction as is possible.
Also, Disney and his Imagineers somehow planned for the future. They told a story whose final chapter could adapt with modern times.
Seriously, Disney could show the zombie apocalypse at the end, and it’d still fit the overall theme. Uncle Orville would just look a lot more hardcore.
Those first two scenes reflect a time in American history that nobody alive today remembers. The setting is the turn of the 20th century.
You’d have to be 130 to possess a strong recollection of those times…and nobody 130 years old can remember what they had for lunch today.
Sadly, half the attraction has grown somewhat dated.
Okay, I’m about to anger some purists. No, Disney can never shut down Carousel of Progress.
However, Disney needs to age the story to reflect a larger swath of time. I mean, Carousel of Progress is roughly 60 years old.
At the time of its creation, all four of its stories covered roughly 60 years of progress. We’ve come a long way, baby.
If Disney wants to liven up the proceedings, it needs the show to cover about 35 years per section. That would keep it updated until nearly 2050.
Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
Disneyland introduced the Enchanted Tiki Room in 1963, which means the show will turn 60 in June.
Even the most ardent supporters of this attraction would admit that the 12-minute show has lost its fastball.
A few years ago, a rumor about its closure proved so topical that the Disney Parks Blog shut it down, the only time I can ever recall that happening.
Still, fans and Disney loyalists love the characters of Fritz, Jose, Michael, and Pierre. They’re like family to us…robot bird family.
The story told in Enchanted Tiki Room wasn’t exactly groundbreaking in the 1960s. At this point, it’s as dated as a baud modem.
I have to believe that a team of Disney Imagineers could construct a new story that ties back to the rich history of the Enchanted Tiki Room without cutting ties completely.
Disney tried replacing this presentation once before. It was a disaster.
Do you recall The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management)? I hope for your sake that you don’t.
Disney fans came after this update with torches and pitchforks, and cast members happily welcomed them inside.
I’ve never met a person who liked the Under New Management update.
Also, the Enchanted Tiki Room, while not quite as revered as Carousel of Progress, also ties back to Walt Disney himself. So, it’s not something we’d like changed significantly.
I’m not entirely against Disney updating Tiki Room to provide new dialogue or show elements.
However, I think I speak for all of us when I say that the Audio-Animatronics must stay. They’re an essential piece of Disney history.
Also, any new story would need The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room as an integral part of the plot. Otherwise, what’s the point?
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