Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Movie Based on the Attraction or the Attraction Based on the Movie?

There are some questions that may never be answered, like whether the chicken or the egg came first. Other questions may have similar themes, yet definite answers.

Such is the case with the many iterations of "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Ride Disney Thinks People Won't Ride If They Don't Constantly Change It."

Wait...Where's Jack Sparrow?
No, wait... It's just called "Pirate of the Caribbean." My mistake.

In a more literal world, the ride would have that snarky title. In the actual world, it just lives up to it.

Today, on the Disney Parks Blog, it was announced that the Florida version of the attraction will be undergoing minor tweaks, adding some things from the most recent film, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," because that was such a critical darling.

I understand what Disney is shooting for with these changes. Sometimes, I appreciate them. I feel they inserted Captain Jack Sparrow into the ride subtly enough, at least in terms of the scenes.

What I wasn't psyched about was how they altered the story line of the whole ride to adapt to his presence.

The projection of Davy Jones and later Blackbeard, plus the ability to change on the fly are features I'm in support of. Projecting onto fog looks wicked cool.

What I'm not in favor of is the philosophy behind all the changes. (Beware: the curmudgeon side of this 21 year old is about to emerge: proceed with caution.) The ride has been around since 1967, and until the first movie came out in 2003, the only changes they made were because of people whining about how men chasing women is politically incorrect. (By that logic, wouldn't the reverse be true, too? Oh, logic!) Then came the the Cap'n Jack overhaul in 2006, which closed the ride down for months. Suddenly, billboards and advertisements started popping up, advertising the ride with the picture of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack, as if the ride what based on the movie.

Kudos to marketing department for making a classic attraction look new again, but shame on them for skipping history. Those young, skateboarding kids need to know about the classic attraction's history: that it was Walt's last creation and that it came first, that Jack wasn't always popping out of barrels. I'm not saying they should like the movie because they enjoy the ride, but knowing the origin of things is always useful.

So, if you can't tell, this guy right here writing this post: not excited for the "enhancements." Luckily, they're only going to be implemented at the lackluster, abridged version of the ride at Walt Disney World. Always have to look on the bright side of things.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wi-Fi at Disney World

In the past couple of weeks, both Epcot and Magic Kingdom have rolled out free Wi-Fi throughout the parks.

All I can say is, finally!

Let's hope they turn those spires into Wi-Fi antennas
Some traditionalists may decry that this is the real word encroaching into the fantasy land that exists beyond the gates, especially for Magic Kingdom. With them, I dissagree: a quick connection to the internet has the potential to enhance the fantasy.

Wi-Fi is the first step towards the completion of Disney's NextGen initiative, which will eventually create a more immersive, more convenient experience in the parks, with RFID technology and other technological advancements.

I understand the argument that the internet posses all the fantasy-crushing facts one could ask for, and a Wi-Fi connection will make it that much easier to stay connected to the outside world.

Internet in the park isn't something providing free Wi-Fi has introduced. People have been using their connected devices in the parks since they were first available.

Disney can either force people to waste their expensive data on a slow, overcrowded networks while in the park, or they can work with the technology and use it to their advantage.

In the App store, Disney has had their share of hits, most notably "Where's My Water?", but there are dozens of other Disney apps out there, from the ABC Player, to the Disney Parks app. It's the latter where I see the potential.

Disney could enhance these apps and make them more data-rich, or make new sections of the app for certain locations in the parks. With a reliable, fast connection to the internet, the Disney parks could use your hand-held portal to the outside world into a handheld magic-enhancer.

And then there's the old question of "What would Walt do?" which at times can be dangerous to ask, because the answer is always hypotheical. Disregard the danger: Walt was an innovator to the fullest extent. I feel if was still around (at the age of 111), there would have been Wi-Fi in the parks years ago, and much more park-related content on the App store. But who knows, maybe he would have wanted a digital "burm."