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Friday, May 16, 2014

Walt Disney World

Back in 2008 my wife suggested that we take the kids to Disney World.  I was actually a bit reluctant.  I am a religious follower of Roadside America and the idea of Walt Disney World did not impress me much.  I went there for one day when I was in 1st grade and I hardly remembered it.  To me it seemed like a squeaky clean corporate park designed for the sole purpose of selling merchandise.  Personally, I was far more interested in old school roadside attractions.  I turned up my nose, but was willing to give it a try for my family.  I was actually more excited about stopping in St. Augustine and seeing the Fountain of Youth then I was seeing Disney World.

It turns out that I was wrong.  Dead wrong.  I fell in absolute love with this place.  I felt like I had absolutely been transformed back into a child.  As the rest of my family grew weary and headed back to the hotel rooms I stayed up until 2:00 AM riding rides by myself.

No, Disney World doesn't have the same homespun charm that old school Florida attractions has, it is a different experience all together.

Disney World is all about immersion.  The sights, the sounds, the smells.....They all make you forget about your crummy life.  This is is the closest you will ever get to being a kid again.

Since our visit in 2008 I have taken my family back to Disney World 5 times.

Now for those who have not been to Walt Disney World.  It is not simply a theme park, it is a massive compound featuring about a billion hotels and restaurants and four separate theme parks: Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, EPCOT, and the Magic Kingdom.

While all the parks have their charm, to me its all about the original: The Magic Kingdom.


To me there is no feeling in this world like walking down "Main Street USA" and seeing Cinderella's castle towering overhead.


My favorite attractions at Disney World tend to be the more old school rides that rely heavily on animatronic figures, in which Disney was a pioneering force in.  I can not express how much I love animatronic figures, they have all the charm of Wax Figures, but with the added bonus of MOVEMENT.


One of the oldest and simplest examples of Disney's animatronics can be found in The Enchanted Tiki Room.


The attraction is housed in a Polynesian themed section of what is known as "Adventureland"


The Tiki room house a charming yet simple show where animatronic birds serenade you.






Also in this area you can spot an interesting little character......


That is that "Orange Bird", a character that the Walt Disney company created for the Florida Citrus Growers.  Disney had shelved the character when the Citrus Growers ended their sponsorship deal.  The character has had a small resurgence in recent years.

Over St. Augustin there used to be a horrifying monstrous version of this cute little guy.....


I also found a version of the Orange Bird sticking out of the head of a wind up toy pecan at a thrift shop.....


Seriously.............

Also in Adventureland is the notorious "Jungle Cruise."  The ride takes you in a boat ride along a jungle river surrounded by animatronic animals.  This was originally conceived as an educational attraction by Walt Disney, but the ride has morphed into what is not the kitschiest attraction in all of Disney World.



Your trip is guided by a Skipper, who narrates your trip with a ridiculous spiel filled with bad jokes and puns.


Such gems include......


"You may think that's water they are squirting............It'snot"


"Bottoms up fellows. I'm sure you'll get the point... in the end"



"That's Ginger on the right.  Watch out:  Ginger Snaps.  She's a real tough cookie."


 "That's our HEAD of sales Trader Sam, He's offering a special this week.  Two of his heads for one of yours."

Then of course the most famous joke.  "The backside of water!"   



A joke so dumb, no one know why its funny................

Another of my personal favorite old school attractions is the Country Bear Jamboree.....



Now, a lot of people consider this show to be outdated and hoky, but I think it is pouring with charm.  I hope they never get rid of it and never change a thing.




The show features a bunch of old school animatronic bears singing classic country songs. Its completely absurd and amazing. Just look for yourself.





Speaking of "outdated" attraction, I am always in constant fear that one of my favorite attractions will vanish. Disney World is always changing and older attractions are always at risk of finding themselves on the chopping block to make way for more new fangled fancy attractions. Last year one of my favorite rides was a victim of progress: "Snow White's Scary Adventures". In fairness, it was essentially a jacked up version of the haunted dark ride at your local carnival, but it had some timeless charm to it as well. It was also notorious for being the scariest ride at Disney World and making kids cry. Kids would get on expecting a nice little Snow White ride and are then horrified by the evil witch jumping out at every corner.



Another old school dark ride that is actually still very popular is Peter Pan's Flight....


Peter Pan's Flight is similar to other dark rides such as the above mentioned Snow White ride.  The main difference is that instead of riding on the ground, you are actually suspended above the scenery from the ceiling in a pirate ship.  You soar over top scenes of of both London and Neverland.







Now we move onto "It's a Small World", this is possibly the most divisive ride in all of Disney World.


This ride is a true classic, dating back to the 1964 World's Fair.  Some consider it a benchmark attraction that truly captures the heart of Disney World.  Other people feel it is a creepy warehouse full of creepy singing dolls a mind numbingly repetitive song.  Me and my family actually love the ride.  Call me a sucker, but this ride is like a happy fever dream.....













Of course, probably the most beloved dark ride in all of Disney World is Pirates of the Caribbean.


Pirates' reputation is well deserved.  The ride is awesome.  It is an awesome parade of animatronic pirates engaged in animatronic mayhem.  What is not to love?








The ride has actually been altered over the years to remove some of the more "controversial" aspects.  This included a scene where the pirates appeared to be sexually assaulting women.  However, there are plenty of not-so-family-friendly aspects still existing.

Such as copious amounts of drunkenness......



Oh yeah, and there is a scene that portrays human sexual trafficking......

Woman cry while Goats laugh
As many of people may know, this ride inspired a successful movie franchise.  Things came full circle when they inserted some of the character from the movie into the ride.

Find the movie character
 They periodically add little touches when the new movies come out.  On my most resent trip they had added a mermaid skeleton which was pretty cool.


Another beloved Headliner is the damn fine dark ride known as The Haunted Mansion.


Sadly, photography inside of this mansion is strictly forbidden.   I got yelled at for taking this picture in the stretch room.


So, sadly, I had to forgo my obsessive documenting for this ride.....


One of my favorites is the oldest attraction in the park, the only attraction built before the park was built, and the only attraction personally worked on by Walk Disney:  The Carousel of Progress.


The Carousel was another World Fair creation of Walt Disney's.  It is meant to be a celebration of technology and showed a family in different decades with the father as the narrator.


He discussed the various changes that had occurred in each decade.  The show is set in a rotating theater so when it is time for another decade the theater shifts to the next scene.


This is all accompanied by a super catchy theme song:  A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.

They would periodically update the last scene to reflect modern times and the upcoming advances in technology.  However, the current final scene hasn't been updated since 1993, leaving it painfully out of date, but in a charming sort of way. 


They mostly talk about virtual reality and voice activated ovens.

Definitely more to talk about regarding Disney World, but I would be here all night.  Hope you enjoyed this look at some of my favorite attractions.


The Carpetbagger

Please feel free to email me at jacobthecarpetbagger@gmail.com
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3 comments:

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  2. somehow in all my visits to disney world as a child I had never been in the tiki room! so when i saw it at disney i was completely shocked and blown away by how amazing it was1 when that chandelier of birds dropped out of the ceiling i actually shed a tear!
    i felt the same way you did when we talked about going last summer. i thought it would be lame, but i had the best time

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    1. It really is a great show. With all the high tech stuff Disney throws out these days its really a beautiful "back to basics" show

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