Editorial: Refurbishments and enhancements

LAKE BEUNA VISTA, FL. (December 6, 2012) – I have just returned to the hotel from the opening of the “New Fantasyland” expansion at the Magic Kingdom. First off, I have to say that reports of Ariel’s Grotto, Belle’s Enchanted Forest and Dumbo’s Storybook Circus swallowing up the entirety of Fantasyland are unfounded, but they overshadow it to the point of making the original “land” virtually irrelevant.

If you’re a fan of Peter Pan’s Flight, Mickey’s PhilHarMagic, Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel or even It’s a Small World (possibly the most annoying theme park attraction EVER), you can still ride them to your heart’s content as the only ride they’ve closed for this expansion is Snow White’s Scary Adventure (to be replaced by Princess Fairytale Hall in 2013) though a new SW themed area is slated open in 2014 to the west of Ariel’s Grotto.

Also, the new refurbished Test Track (one of my favorite rides at EPCOT) opened today. This of course got me thinking of other WDW attractions in far greater need of replacement and\or refurbishment. Here are a few of them:

  • The Pirates of the Caribbean – I don’t care how much the Johnny Depp AAs cost, but his appearances are pointless and distract more from the ride than they add. The franchise ended, it’s time to retire Sparrow too.
  • The Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse – Yes, I know it’s a “classic,” but their left coast branch replaced this attraction with Tarzan’s Treehouse in 1999 without incident (as young visitors are probably more familiar with Tarzan than with the Swiss Family Robinson).
  • Tomorrowland Speedway – Sadly, this attraction not only does this generic ride have absolutely nothing to do with “the future that never was,” but it feels isolated from the rest of its intended land. I think they could possibly salvage it by retheming this attraction after the futuristic race from Cars 2 or doing like DL and create a new “Cars Land” that ends at the newly refurbished raceway.
  • Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros (formerly El Río del Tiempo) – This cheap, plastic, horribly dated (looks like it was last refurbished in 1980s) and utterly terrible looking ride exemplifies everything that’s wrong with this particular pavilion as a whole.
  • Spaceship Earth – Another horribly dated attraction, this ride needs serious updating and the tacky “you’re in the ride” bit where it takes your picture and gives you multiple choices on “what kind of future you want” is not gonna cut it. On the plus side, it’s the only ride that doesn’t make you to buy said picture at the end of it.
  • The Great Movie Ride – Similar to Spaceship Earth, this once great ride is severely dated. Sure they can keep their signature scenes (Wild West, Gangster, Wizard of Oz, Casablanca and Indiana Jones), but the ride needs an infusion of newer movies to keep it relevant.
  • “The Voyage of the Little Mermaid” – Now that they have the similarly titled Under the Sea: The Voyage of the Little Mermaid in the Magic Kingdom, this stage show at Hollywood Studios is redundant.
  • The Magic of Disney Animation – the walk through portion of the attraction is well done, but the “attraction” part with Mushu is so poorly handled in both writing and acting that even the live “animator” looked bored.
  • “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” Movie Set Adventure – Does anyone actually use this playground? Surely Disney can find a better, more productive use for this space.
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