Five of Our Favorite Attraction Additions
There are so many changes coming to Walt Disney World over the next few years, beginning with the opening of Toy Story Land this summer (Slinky Dog here we come!). Change is an exciting part of the Walt Disney World experience, and one of the things we love so much about Disney is the promise of…yes, we’ll go ahead and say it…a great big beautiful tomorrow! As we eagerly await all of the new arrivals that will be coming to the parks, we thought we’d take a brief look back at some of our favorite additions and changes that have come to many beloved attractions. There are lots of obvious ones, so we thought we’d dig just a little deeper and think of a few that might not come to mind right away, but nevertheless made for wonderful additions.
The Haunted Mansion Wallpaper
The Haunted Mansion has received numerous updates over the years…everything from the Leota tombstone and the Escher-like staircase room to the CGI hitchhikers and of course the interactive queue. But there’s one tiny detail that may go unnoticed by some folks, yet is one of our favorite additions to the foreboding mansion (partly because it’s so innocuous, but so effective). Early on in your tour, you’ll notice some eerie eyes peering out at you on the left side of you Doom Buggy…floating in the still air and watching you intently as you glide by. But keep watching…those eyes slowly morph into the pattern on the wallpaper seen throughout the room. The transition is subtle but mesmerizing nonetheless…and makes you wonder how many of those eyes and ghoulish faces hidden in the furniture and wallpaper have been watching you this whole time!
Pirates of the Caribbean Beach Scene
No, we’re not talking about the recent changes to the auction scene; we’re actually going to go a bit further back in time. As new “Pirates” movies have been released, new additions have arrived at the attraction, most notably the amazingly lifelike Animatronics of Jack Sparrow and the translucent visages of Davy Jones and Blackbeard that appear on the mist waterfall you pass through as you embark on your journey. But our favorite oft-overlooked addition can be seen a few moments later, when you see* that the skeleton of mermaid has been added to the beach scene (a nod to the mermaids, including Syrena, who appeared in “On Stranger Tides”). Their presence is haunting, as is the ethereal music that echoes throughout the cavern. A tranquil scene to be sure, but best hang on for rough squalls ahead…
(*Thanks to Kurt who let us know that the mermaids have actually moved on to a…hopefully…better place with the recent refurbishment! But we will never forget them, or their siren song…)
Donald Comes to Life in Mexico
Gran Fiesta Tour ranks right up there on our list of “most overlooked attractions” (and with Frozen Ever After right next door, we can’t blame you!). But the tranquil tour through Mexico, courtesy of the Three Caballeros, is a relaxing, fun-filled cruise a la “it’s a small world” (see if you can find the Donald Duck piñata!). The final scene of the attraction takes you to Mexico City and the stage where Donald and his pals finally get back together to entertain us with their one-of-a-kind show. When the attraction first opened the show was a film projected onto the screen on the stage. But one day, a magical thing happened. With very little fanfare, Guests were surprised to see that Donald, José, and Panchito had been replaced by amazingly detailed Animatronics. In fact for many (myself included), they had to do a double-take…”were these always Animatronics?” No they weren’t, and this unexpected upgrade (which came as a surprise to those who weren’t avid blog readers and such) was a true treat…and another example of how the Imagineers at Disney never stop in their quest to make our experiences more magical than ever.
Making You a Part of the Show on “it’s a small world”
“it’s a small world” is one of the most beloved Disney attractions of all time (certainly one of our favorites), and though it’s seen its share of fresh coats of paint and a redesigned queue, the attraction itself has pretty much stayed true to itself over the years. But with the advent of MagicBand technology, a subtle new detail was recently added that makes you a part of the show. As you glide into the farewell room, you used to be greeted by a collection of signs offering you a fond farewell in many languages. But now, in addition to those signs, a few new ones have appeared that magically bid you a personal warm goodbye, complete with your names! At first you might be puzzled as to how they knew your name (or else you just chalked it up to a bizarre coincidence), but it’s those magical MagicBands that allow for that small little personalization. It’s a subtle addition, but one that further immerses you into the show and makes you believe that we truly live in a world of hope, love, and togetherness.
The Nighttime Splendor of Pandora
This doesn’t really fall into the category of a change that has come to an existing attraction, but we thought we’d include at in the broader scope of “a change that has come to an entire park.” (And yes, we acknowledge that’s cheating a bit, but it’s OK, it’s Disney…it’s OK to break the rules!!). There are so many details to explore in this breathtaking new land, but one of the cleverest details comes out only at night. And it’s genius lies in its simplicity. Sure, you have you’re towering floating mountains and your bioluminescent fauna, but as you walk along the pathways winding their way through this beautiful land at night, you’ll notice that the ground is glowing. A clever use of fiber optic technology? Some sort of projection mapping that follows your every step? Specially formulated building materials that conserve the daytime sunshine to create a nighttime glow? Nope. How about a simple splattering of glow in the dark paint that is illuminated by black lights shining on the ground? Yes, someone literally splashed paint around haphazardly. Simple, no? Mesmerizing? YES! (And now you know why your shoelaces are glowing with an eerie purple light).
Those are just a few of our favorite attraction additions, but we want to know what YOU think! Please comment below and tell us about some of your favorites! Who knows, you just might share that one detail that the rest of us have overlooked, and you’ll have made our next visits that much more magical!