Your Souvenir Guide

Disneyland Ex Machina

It’s a sacrosanct world after all

it's a small mosh

I’m not in the habit of apologizing for long gaps between bl-g posts. I make my living as a writer – eight or more hours a day, five to six days a week. When I come home at night all I want to do is hit the gym, drink some sneaky pete and forget that the Web exists.

But some nice people have inquired about the status of this bl-g in recent weeks (and not just my dad, though even he has chimed in), so I offer this stopgap post until I’m able to get back into the regular habit of making posts. And I am sorry, savage reader. Thanks much for your encouragement and compliments; it means a hell of a lot.

I do feel like I should offer comment on the big news out of the Park this month: The controversial rehab of it’s a small world that’s currently in progress. There’s a rumor going around the bl-gs that this nearly year-long rehab will add a few of Disney’s animated characters to the ride-through dollhouse. They’ll be designed to match the attraction’s existing aesthetic, created four decades ago by the great pop artist Mary Blair. (In the case of “Alice in Wonderland,” the Imagineers will actually be able to use some of Blair’s concept art.)

I think it’s a wonderful idea, but the Disneyland fan community’s take on it runs from indifferent to hostile. Never mind that it will freshen a ride that bores virtually everyone between the ages of eleven and thirty-five; never mind that it will grant badly-needed extra exposure to characters that – let’s face it – are less relevant to today’s kids than Miley Cyrus; never mind that the addition of storybook characters will only enhance the attraction’s pop-up book charms. But haters will hate, y’know, and I have to respect their views even if I’m usually at a loss to understand where they’re coming from.

That being said, I am in lockstep with the haters in denouncing one rumored change: The removal of the “rainforest” scene in favor of something USA-themed. All political considerations aside (the Blair family called it “misplaced patriotism,” in a vitriolic open letter that may do more harm than good), the rainforest is one of the loveliest set pieces in the attraction. Its color temperature is markedly different from the rest of the attraction – cool and blue as opposed to warm and pink – and the long, softly-waving strands of plastic that hang from the ceiling to approximate falling rain remain an ingenious effect after 44 years.

The colors and “rainfall” give the set the character of an undersea world (which, fittingly, is the very next scene). It gives badly-needed contrast to the sunny scenes that precede and follow it, and it represents a part of the world whose existence needs to be made manifest in every little way possible. The real rainforest is falling victim to manifest destiny even as we speak, and it needs all the good publicity it can get.

It may not be happening at all. Disney has not confirmed or denied the reports. (They seldom make any official statements where the Parks are concerned, at least until something breaks.) I have as much fun reading Al Lutz and Jim Hill as the next embroidered-hat geek, but I take their every word with a grain; they have only a fifty-percent success rate, the same as an Anton Chigurh coin toss.

But if Imagineering is in the attraction right now ripping down trees and rainclouds, I beg them to reconsider. This isn’t plugging characters into existing scenes; this is an act of dumbfuckery that will radically alter the tone of the attraction, and not for the better. As it is now, it’s a small world is a compressed two-day journey, with the “night” scene of the rainforest acting as a segue between them. Removing it would be disastrous.

We’ll talk later this weekend, I hope. I have a few choice words to say about the closing of DCA’s Seasons of the Vine, but I need to get good and liquor’d up before I spill ’em. Oh sneaky, sneaky pete.




  1. Mr. Lincoln

    2008/04/01 at 6:15 AM

    Glad you're back, and great post!

  2. Hi Geoff,

    Thanks for your comments over on The Disney Blog. Glad to have you back writing…

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