Preserving the Magic
In case you haven’t heard, Disney has confirmed the expansion plans for Fantasyland at MK that were leaked on the Internet a short while back. Some are already calling it Fantasyland 2.0, but I’m not real fond of that, I think it might be more aptly named Princessland due to the heavy influence of all the princesses being added. Of course, Dumbo (supersized) will still be there as will Gaston, and all the dark rides that currently exist are going to stay, but there will be several new attractions aimed at little girls added to the new Princessland, eh, Fantasyland. But, I’m okay with it, really. I really think it’s something that was needed, as MK did lean pretty heavily toward boys prior to this. You have Stitch, Buzz, Space Mountain, The (Indy?) Speedway, Goofy’s Barnstormer, Peter Pan, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, Pirates, etc. There just wasn’t a lot for little girls, so this is a good move that should help balance out MK and add more capacity and freshen things at MK where it had started to become a little stale.
While I find this news, and the news of a new Star Tours enhancement, encouraging, I must admit I will be a teensy tiny bit sad to see Mickey’s Toontown go away. The new plans involve moving Dumbo, over to where toontown now sits, and adding on another side so they’ll have two sides/spinners for Dumbo. It’s not that I’ve been a tremendously big fan of Toontown or that I thought it was anything spectacular, because there really wasn’t a lot back there, and everything seemed kind of cheap and built on the fly. But the main attraction was the big cheese himself, Mickey. However, I found the the concept behind Toontown to be quite novel and entertaining. I like the idea of having a specific place set aside and themed where you could go and visit Mr. Mouse and his spouse and see where they live. Wait, are they married or not? Can’t remember.
Personally, I think they should try and preserve the concept of Toontown, somehow. I don’t see how or where they could do it at MK, but DHS might potentially have space for something of the sort. Or, if they couldn’t fit it in at DHS, maybe even somewhere at Downtown Disney. Or, better still, and here’s where Imagineering kicks in, how about a fully themed Toontown at a new location altogether. Something that would be even bigger than the soon to be destroyed Toontown, and would add even more for guests to see. I really think it’s time that Disney (World), built a separate entertainment venue, not a park necessarily, but an area at WDW housing a museum and “exploration center” type of attraction allowing guests to see the history of Walt, Mickey, The Disney Company, and WDW.
This idea stems from a couple of different sources. Over the summer, I took my family on vacation to somewhere that wasn’t Disney! Surprising, right? Anyway, we went to Hershey, Pennsylvania and visited the attractions there. And, while it wasn’t Disney, it was a charming and enjoyable experience. Outside the factory, which they don’t allow public tours of anymore, they have Hershey’s Chocolate World, which is a combination mock factory, history center, food court, and of course gift shop. They have a people mover style ride that takes you thru a factory simulation of the chocolate making process, plus several interactive activities where kids (and some adults) can participate in “making” and packaging chocolate. It’s a neat experience, although, I will say the food court they have there left a lot to be desired, but I’ll leave it at that.
The other half of the idea comes from my own thoughts that they really should have some type of history center dedicated to Walt and the history of WDW for visitors to be able to experience and learn more about him and the wonderful creations he’s responsible for. I know there is now the Disney museum in California, but I’ve yet to see, and not sure when I will. And, since it’s in California, I’m not sure when I will, as the same might go for many who visit only WDW. Which is why I think WDW could sustain something like this.
So, here’s my idea for a Walt Disney History Center. First, I have mixed thoughts on the cost of admission. I would suggest it be free to the general public and most of the attractions remain that way. Here’s a few of the ideas I’ve dreamed up for the center.
- Small World food court and play area dedicated to all the children of the world, using murals and drawings by Mary Blair and some history of her and her involvement with Walt Disney.
- History Center where the Disney story would be told. Walt’s early years and his life prior to the success of Mickey.
- Animation and Imagineering – showcasing animation and imagineering history and future achievements and failures. This area could be divided in two depending on the amount of material displayed.
- Florida Project & Epcot (City) – The establishment and building of Walt Disney World and Epcot, as well as a historical review of some of the now retired attractions. In this part they could show pictures and videos of some of the attractions that are now gone, and show what they were replaced by. I would see this as something similar to Widen Your World or Yesterland, both great sites that do their best to showcase and archive extinct Disney park attractions.
- Retro Park – Retired attractions. This previous area might lead into this part, where there would be entire attractions on display, and perhaps even a few that were still in operation.
- Toontown – This is the area where Mickey and Minnie’s houses would be moved to as well as other Toontown-related features. Visitors would also have the opportunity to visit with Mickey and Minnie and get pictures and autographs.
- Gift Shop – featuring unique items that couldn’t be found or purchased anywhere else.
For a throwback to history, they could make the attractions accessible using Ticket Books like they used to have at WDW in the early days.
I’m not sure where this would fit best. I’m torn between somewhere between MK and Epcot on the main drive there, or as an extension of Downtown Disney, or even somewhere else on property. Regardless, I think it’s high time for this, if nothing else to showcase the history of Walt and WDW. I don’t really see this idea in any shape happening anytime soon, however, it would be nice to see them at least try and preserve Mickey and Minnie’s houses in some way. Move them over to the backlot or what’s left of it at DHS, or make them fixtures at Downtown Disney, or auction them off in whole or in pieces, but don’t just tear them down, please!