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ADMINISTRATORS
Tuesday
Nov112014

SOUVENIR: Felt Pennants

New in our Souvenir Store! 18" x 8" screen-printed souvenir felt pennants. Each pennant design celebrates the future as viewed by different periods of Disneyland and Walt Disney World's pasts. Quantities are limited so get them while they last.

 

 

 

Monorail '59    $12


 

PeopleMover '67  •  $12

Space Mountain '75  •  $12

SMRT-1 '82  •  $12

Horizons '83  •  $12

 

 

All artwork created by ImagineeringDisney.com's co-founder Mitch.

 

 

Friday
Sep192014

Maelstrom, a Victim of Timing

Our wonderful and unique little boat ride through scenes of Norway is about to go the way of so many EPCOT Center favorites. It’s time to make way for ultra-popular Frozen.

Could this have been prevented? Can it still be saved? Yes and no. Or maybe yes and maybe.

Why Epcot?

Timing. And theme. Mostly timing. And only partially because of theme. And also money and urgency.

For better or worse, these are the real reasons Disney has made their decision. Consider the following.

Timing

Think about all the recent and upcoming major construction in the other three Walt Disney World parks– New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom, Avatar at Animal Kingdom, and rumored-but-pretty-much-confirmed Star Wars expansion at Hollywood Studios. Epcot hasn’t seen even semi-major changes since Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros and The Seas with Nemo and Friends. Those changes were made more than seven years ago.

Theme

"The theme is a close enough fit." Well... Frozen takes place in a country called Arendelle. This
fictional country is very Norway-esque, yes. The architecture of Epcot’s Norway Pavilion looks like something you’d find in Arendelle. So if the Norway Pavilion was on its own, and wasn’t a part of the cultural celebration that is Epcot’s World Showcase, then you'd might have a pretty sort-of okay fit. But it’s not its own entity. And let’s remember, architecture is only one of many elements of theme. The Norway Pavilion is an important piece of World Showcase and celebrates, much like the other World Showcase pavilions, the culture of the country it represents. So "theme" is not the biggest reason for a Frozen ride to go to Norway. In fact, it disrupts long-standing theme, making the foundation of this argument shaky at best.

Money

Money money money. I’m not talking only about the money a Frozen attraction will make (with merchandise, food, and increased park ticket sales), but the money Disney will save too. Reworking the existing boat ride, full-service restaurant, bakery, and string of gift shops is, of course, significantly less expensive than designing and constructing such an area from scratch. (I’m not saying it’s better and I’m not saying I agree with this. I most-often disagree with this approach.) As you might imagine, this method is pretty attractive to the shot-callers at Team Disney.

Urgency

Strike while the iron is hot, right? One could argue that the Frozen iron is extremely hot. Five-hour lines just to meet Anna and Elsa?? I wouldn’t think of waiting even one hour, but clearly there’s a large audience of “lovers of all things Frozen” that, at least for the time being, pines for such things. So it’s a matter of quick-fix vs. long-term considerations.

John Lasseter reportedly tried to convince Bob Iger, shortly after the Pixar acquisition, to open theme park rides the same day their corresponding films hit theaters. In theory, you’d be able to watch a brand new film then enter into that world (in the form of a theme park attraction) the very same day. Iger was reportedly reluctant to the strategy, fearing the parks would end up stuck with expensive rides based on unpopular films.

We continue to see rides built based on films released several years or even several decades earlier. Is that necessarily a bad thing? Sure the Little Mermaid iron wasn’t as hot in 2012 as it was in 1999. But regardless, the film and the ride seem to be very timeless and popular.

I, personally, see value in both the rush-to-market and the wait-and-see strategies. I also know both have been implemented foolishly. Tarzan’s Treehouse comes to mind. Sure it opened just five days after Tarzan released in theaters. (Did you know that??) Sure it was neat to experience that environment right after seeing it on the big screen. But perhaps the urgency to open the attraction ended up hurting the attraction, and maybe even Adventureland in one way or another, in the long run.

Why not Fantasyland?

Again, it’s timing. Had the Frozen phenomenon hit say four years ago (perhaps if it had been produced and released at the time of Tangled), can anyone doubt that New Fantasyland would have included some sort major-to-pretty-major Frozen attraction? Or even an entire Frozen mini-land?

But now with the current New Fantasyland offerings (which are fantastic, by the way), Fantasyland has very little room for expansion. There was room. There isn’t now. Or is there?

Magic Kingdom still has “the blessing of size”. They could go north into the swampy forest between Mermaid and the railroad tracks.

They could go east into Tomorrowland Speedway territory.

They could even expand northeast of that, across the tracks.

And what if? Would it be worth sacrificing Speedway to save Maelstrom? It’s in that sort of outer darkness area of Tomorrowland. It’s “not that popular” (if you want to go with that mostly-silly argument). I happen to love riding Tomorrowland Speedway. Always have. I’m most-often in support of keeping it (and its older sister, Disneyland’s Autopia). You could potentially include Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant in the expansion. That might not be the worst thing to happen to that area. Think about it.

Why not Studios?

Why not? Sort of hard to disrupt the theme of that park, especially when basing an attraction on a film. Free up some space somewhere and go nuts.

Can Maelstrom still be saved?

Is it too late to save Maelstrom? Is it too late to spare Epcot and World Showcase of something that just doesn’t fit? Is it too late to build the Kingdom of Arendelle in a Magic Kingdom full of little kingdoms? Have WDI and management gone too far down the path of reworking the Norway space? Would adoring Frozen fans worldwide be outraged if newer, better, bigger Frozen plans were announced? Wouldn’t the delay be worth it?

I’m not, by any means, a Frozen freak. I liked the movie, but let’s just say I’m not wearing Frozen apparel anytime soon. But I vote to give this big film bigger treatment. I spoke with my good pal, Hoot Gibson, the other day. He brought up good points about the Maelstrom space. He said he always thought Maelstrom was too short. Why not give the hit film a bigger space? It is a pretty short ride. A capacity nightmare in the making, at least for a while.

Can we #savemaelstrom? A hashtag is yet to save anything at a theme park. But perhaps the idea of a bigger, better, more lucrative, Harry Potter-challenging mini-land, complete with restaurants, high-capacity ride (or rides!), merch merch merch, and lots and lots of Olaf jokes (keep these to a minimum, please) would appeal to the decision-makers in Orlando and Burbank.

 

Related posts:

Rhine River Cruise Mysteries
EPCOT
 Construction from the Air
EPCOT 30TH: A Photo Tour of the Past [Part 1]
EPCOT 30TH: A Photo Tour of the Past [Part 2]
EPCOT 30TH: A Photo Tour of the Past [Part 3]
THEN AND NOW: Epcot World Showcase [Part 1]
THEN AND NOW: Epcot World Showcase [Part 2]

 

Friday
Aug222014

"it's a small small world" [ PART 1 ]

Who loves theme park models?? We do! Join me as I build a scale model of a portion of Disneyland's beautiful "it's a small world" exterior. 

While I was building a tiny Jungle Cruise model, my wife suggested I model part of her favorite attraction, "it's a small world". I figured such a model would require many different fabrication processes... which would make for a good model-building tutorial... which is something I've wanted to do for a while... so here we are.

First, I decided to create a tiny passenger boat using a process I'd never tried before– 3D printing. I built a 3D model in Google Sketchup (free version!) then exported the file to Shapeways.com. Within seconds I had a price quote for each of the many materials offered by Shapeways (like plastic, steel, and even gold). I chose "White Strong & Flexible Plastic". This particular model at this size came in at just over $18.00.

After a few business days (which felt like FOREVER), the tiny boat arrived in the mail. Basing my color selection on an old photo of an actual "it's a small world" boat, I painted the 3D-printed boat with two shades of pink plus some black for the bumper. 

I found a pack of unpainted HO-scale figures by Model Power® at my local hobby store which I then painted with regular old craft paint.

They fit!

 
The layered cut-out look of Mary Blair's "it's a small world" facade called for some laser cutting. I drew each layer in Adobe Illustrator then separated the layers before sending them to be cut. I found a guy nearby with a laser cutter in his garage who offered to cut the designs into 1/16" clear acrylic for about $30.00.

Laser-cut pieces are cut with great precision and are well worth the cost. Cutting these by hand would have been a big old pain in the neck. No thank you.

A quick check to see if everything is here.

Now it's time to peel away the protective paper... But only the portions that need texture.

The protective paper serves perfectly as a mask, when cut accordingly.

You'll notice the real "it's a small world" facade is made up of both smooth flats and textured flats. About half of this piece of facade needed texture. A quick coat of textured spray paint did the trick.

Next, all protective paper needed to be removed.

I then made a simple oak box to contain the model.

The flume was a cinch to construct. I used Evergreen Scale Models® sheet styrene and styrene strips (modeling must-haves) and Plastruct® Plastic Weld solvent cement (my favorite solvent) to join the styrene pieces together.

According the Evergreen package, "Unlike wood or other materials, styrene parts are joined by bonding with a solvent. Parts are assembled by merely holding them in position and applying a small amount of solvent to the joint. Use a small brush and apply the cement very sparingly– only a little is required to make a joint. The cement will be drawn into the joint by capillary action, softening the mating surfaces so that a fast bond, as strong as the styrene, is formed."

It's recommended that this sort of styrene structure be air brushed or spray painted, but I brushed on craft paint with a normal 1/2" flat brush and it turned out just fine.

The same process of joining styrene together was applied to the clear acrylic pieces.

A block of green high-density floral foam is cut to form the hill between the flume and facade. More about this in Part 2.

A quick, temporary assembly of existing pieces brings the model to life. 

I then sprayed a coat of primer onto the acrylic.

Then two coats of white spray paint.

We're about halfway through the model-making process. You might be happy to know that this sort of thing requires less artistic ability than most people assume. It requires some know-how and a bit of practice, but really, most people can do what you see here.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

 

Related posts:

Tiny Jungle Cruise Model
Tiny Submarine Voyage + PeopleMover Model
EPCOT City Model [Part 1]
Working Splash Mountain Model
Mechanizing a Miniature Main Street Electrical Parade
Mars and Beyond Robot
Swiss Family Treehouse Model