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Alex Stroup and Kevin Yee
Reader reViews!

- "Waste of Time" or "Time well spent"?

Readers React:
The reViewing continues with the readers!

Reader reViews for 7/12/00:
Hey guys liked your review! 

I have a question. I know Disney World has an Innoventions how is that attraction rated? If it does well at Disney World, maybe Disneyland can steal some of its ideas. I think Innoventions is a bore, I go in there every time I visit the park hoping for change, but it is a real waste of time. I would have also liked to see a show. 

Are you guys going to do a dual column on Rocket Rods or Tomorrowland? 

See you at the park!


Tony -  

Regrettably I did not find the time to visit Walt Disney World's incarnation of Innoventions. Everything I've heard, though, says it is much better than Disneyland's (your mileage may vary, though).

- Alex

In November 99 we jaunted into Innoventions to go see what it was about. We were given the home-furnishings related "zone" and cheery CMs opening doors to flashy models and displays and another CM running the game show of sorts (then themed to the already gone-lets-move-on-to-the-next-thing Inspector Gadget). 

The CM, who obviously from his humor (which I'm sure didn't totally stick to the script. He asked a kid a trick question then when the child started to leave the stage, he called her back up) was obviously aspiring to get a job on the Jungle Cruise.

Anyhow, my father is now of the age where he can't take extended displays of slapstick and corny jokes, and quickly ducked out.

After that was pretty much nothing to look at. The only entertaining display was watching the children at the GM display move all at once like something out of 1984.

Since I'm a sucker for anything at DL (they could put rides as-is from my local carnival with NO changes and I'd still consider it top-notch stuff), I asked my father what he thought and he compared it to a Best Buy.

Sad, no?


Michael - 

Two things:

1) What is that age? A former grandfather of mine was the king of slapstick and corniness to the day he died (in his seventies).

2) You may be getting lucky. It is the opinion of many people that with Disney's California Adventure management is pulling attractions "as is" from your local carnival.

- Alex


I really enjoyed your dual reviews for today. I read Watt's book a little over a year ago and thought it was a much needed cultural analysis of Walt Disney and his impact on American cultural history. I am happy to see the revisionists coming in and giving us a more complete look at Walt Disney (the good and the bad). What I am seeing more and more is that there were many people who made "Walt Disney" who and what is was and is (was that a confusing statement?) People like Roy Disney, Art Babbitt, Herb Ryman, and the countless artists and imagineers are finally getting their role in the creation of the company known. 

This is not to distract from Walt Disney, who had the vision to bring these people together (for good or for ill in the case of Babbitt) to accomplish so many remarkable tasks. It brings Walt back down to earth, more of human being than a saint or sinner -- and frankly, I like Walt Disney the human being. I know that is a little off the topic, but I wanted to mention how I see Watt's book (and Thomas' book on Roy) are fitting into this trend. Comments?

As for Innoventions, I too am guilty of thinking about the attraction in relationship to other inhabitants of the Carousel Theater. Your comments were very enlightening. I hear they may be moth-balling the Carousel of Progress in WDW. I know I am dreaming, but I would love to see it come home to Disneyland with a revamped Progressland show! Place the show in its historical context with Walt's fantastic experimental city, and I think it could be a winner!

Thanks for your thoughts,

Michael Sweeney

Michael -

It is definitely a feature of modern academia that historical figures need to be "deconstructed" to show their entire personality. Revisionist history isn't inherently bad, but it definitely warrants a close watch.

Through the years Walt Disney biographies have leaned more towards hagiography than to objectivity. In this light, The Magic Kingdom is a nice bit of fresh air. Unfortunately, another feature cultural studies as found in academia is the need for most scholars to fit everything into some predefined cosmology. 

Steven Watts definitely shows some of this in his need to define absolutely every element of Walt Disney World in terms of commodification.

- Alex

Dear Kevin and Alex,

This is in response to your debate about Innoventions. First I must say your column is really great and I found the article about Innoventions especially interesting. I think that Innoventions is a lot like the new 45th anniversary parade (Parade of the Stars). They both are *okay* if you haven't seen anything else in the park. 

Like if you've never been to DL or any other Disney park and Innoventions or the parade is the first thing you see there, they may seem pretty good. But then if you go on something like Indy or Star Tours or any of the really great rides, you'll see how bad and commercialized Innoventions really is. The same thing with the parade. If you go to WDW afterwards and see MSEP you'll see that the "Parade of the Stars" is really bad, too.

I also want to say something more on the topic of commercialization. I do understand that Indy and Star Tours and a lot of the other great rides do have sponsors. But they only have one each. I personally think that more than one sponsor per ride is disgusting. It's just not very "Disney." It reminds you of the real world, which defeats the purpose of DL. I agree that Innoventions does not belong in Tomorrowland (or DL for that matter). It's too modern, not futuristic at all.

I must say the whole "educational" thing is not a good idea. Very few people go to DL to learn anything. People want to have fun when there on vacation at DL. It has, in a way to do with the philosophy of DL. It's a fantasy. And very few people who come to DL have fantasies about going to museums, as Alex compared Innoventions to.

I do have a *few* positive things to say about Innoventions, though. You never have to wait too long to get inside the "A/C'd" building. On an old "Walt Disney Presents" about the 1967 new Tomorrowland there was a huge line of people waiting to go on the Carrousel of Progress. I don't know if it was always like that, though. I never had a chance to go on it or America Sings, since they both closed before I was born. 

The other thing I have to say is that I really like Tom Morrow. I agree with Kevin that Tom Morrow is one of the only reasons to go in there. But even though "he's" a good incentive to go in there, he still didn't bring me in the last 20 or so times I've been to DL in the past ten months.

--"Tom Morrow"

Dear Tom Morrow, 

I'm betting that's not your real name, do I win anything? 

I agree with most everything you say. The big point here is that Innoventions really is "just okay" as you say here, maybe something to see if it's brand new to you, but otherwise not.

- Kevin

Hey Kevin and Alex,

I'm a current cast member who went to University of Missouri-Columbia. Steve Watts was my History professor Freshman year. He was amazing and I learned a lot. He was working on his book at the time. Glad you enjoyed it.

Dear Reader, 

As I said in the Dual Review, I quite enjoyed Prof. Watts' book. I can only imagine how the student experience would be. Did you get to study Walt Disney as part of the course?

He-he I'm not surprised to hear he was amazing. I hope to meet him sometimes.

- Kevin

I have to say I go to Innoventions quite a bit, but only during the summer when it is hot. The A/C is nice from 1 to 4 pm if it is really hot out. That is probably the best thing within Innoventions.

Now some of the ideas within Innoventions are OK. I thought the very best thing about the whole exhibit was the Sun Microsystems exhibit on graphics. Some wonderful examples of cutting edge graphics and the hardware that produces them. Most people have very little experience with how the end product is produced and this exhibit shed some light on it. Of course, this was removed for the Bug's Life exhibit.

The GM Exhibit has quite a bit of thought put into it, but aside from the queuing, it really does not have much to offer. Sparky is fun, but the ride is something of a let down.

Compaq is almost a complete waste. When the industry changes every three months for something faster and better have machines that are over a year older than what you can see at CompUSA is rather silly. If DL was really smart, get Sony there to demo Disney games and short demos of games that are coming out in two to three months. E3, a video game convention, offers much more innovation and imagination than you see in Innoventions. What if games being sold in Japan were demo'ed in DL six months before they go on sale here?

SAP is a good explanation for a relatively unknown company. But honestly, how interesting can SAP be and be a relatively unknown company. Can anyone really get excited about Cisco? Or Adaptec?

I think the new product outlook for things like HDTV and electric cars are nice, but things move! Innoventions covers only those things that exist now or are about to be released. Let's look at some things that are farther off. Will Compaq be looking into Biocomputers? How far away is AI (artificial intelligence)? What are the chances for computer graphics to replace live action films? 

I think the idea should be to glance at what is just around the corner and focus on the horizon. This seems like what the TL of the 1960's did. The house of the future was not something due out in the stores. Everything was looking 15-40 years into the possible future. I think a good Innoventions (and TL itself) could do with a bit more vision, looking not down at where we set our feet on the path, but on the horizon where the future and magic truly is.


Rob -  

Considering the number of people who are using Innoventions simply for its air conditioning, perhaps what Disney should do is:

Hollow it out; put a bit ice cream shop in the middle; insert many tables, chairs and benches; turn the A/C way up.

Actually, it is probably big enough for a brew pub!

- Alex

I haven't visited Disneyland in many years, but I always keep up with the news about what is currently going on at the park. I just want to add my two cents and say that it seems that as time goes by, there have been some neat things that have been added.  

I wished that I would be able to see what has taken place in all of the Magic Kingdom such as Rocket Rods (which I hear as a rumor that they may be headed on the way out). If they ever do go away, let's hope that the people who make decisions, will decide to just give all of us old timers an updated version of the PeopleMovers in its place! I used to love that ride, and it was relaxing and neat as well. Oh well...

All in all, I still enjoy hearing about Disneyland, and even if some attractions don't merit up to what I would like to see, there's probably a reason behind it. As for the Innoventions attraction which I have stated several times now that I haven't had the chance of seeing yet, from the sound of it, it's like one of those things that I would want to see only ONCE. Then if I ever went back to DL, I'd schedule my day and purposely avoid seeing it.

The proposed 'Alien Jamboree Show' concept sounds like it would've been a neat idea, and another milestone in Disney Audio-Animatronic entertainment, not to mention a new show in Tomorrowland. An Instant Classic. Just like all of the new Disney Animated Movies coming out.

Anyone know why this attraction didn't get produced?

Anyway, I am always amazed at the ideas that come forth out of Walt Disney Imagineering - even if they don't always get produced. I guess one has to look at reality - if this show - Innoventions - is all about current technology and a look at what's coming, even in the land of tomorrow, it can still have a place. I mean I like to see new and upcoming things, so if these things are placed in a futuristic environment, and remembering that many shows there at Disneyland do have corporate sponsoring (Space Mountain used to be sponsored by RCA), the sponsors must just love being able to present their shows and displays in an entertaining setting.

In the case of real ride attractions there at the park, I personally don't mind seeing a corporate logo attached as a sponsor for an attraction. I know that's how many of the attractions at Disneyland originally came into being. As you probably already know, that's how you get attractions designed and built for little money and everyone's happy. Sponsors, people, and the company.

The one and only thing that I don't particularly want to be reminded of while visiting the fantasy environment of Disneyland, is to be reminded of 'the real world'. In the case of 'corporate sponsoring' which you just can't escape in the modern world today on a daily basis, you are going to have to live with it. I guess there's no way in which to escape it - it's a fact of modern life. Even in the House of the Mouse. They're a business first, then to everyone else... you get the idea.

Anyway, if like like Innoventions, that's good. Or if you don't, well, then it's bad as in the story that I had just finished reading on your site. I can't say anything about it since I've never seen it, but you can be sure that one way or another you can't always get what you hope for (I'm actually hoping that one day we'll all get to see the entire show that Marc Davis had conceived in its entirety - someday, somehow, we'll end up seeing the Western River Expedition in all what could have been its glory! Oh well, can't sit around forever hoping!).

So who knows? I was one of those that was fortunate enough to see the original General Electric's Carousel of Progress when it was there, and for its day and age, it was a neat show. The Audio-Animatronic figures were especially neat, because not too many shows had featured them then. If that show was to re-appear now, which is highly unlikely, they would just be a little bit time-worn.

I also enjoyed the 'America Sings' show when it played, and it was a really fun and lively show. Maybe one day, all your dreams will come true, and there will be a great and neat show to replace Innoventions. All we should hope for is that something doesn't take its place that's much worse.


Dear Roger,

You raise a number of points. First, about the alien jamboree show "Plectu's" which we mentioned: this was to be an integral part of the "Tomorrowland 2055" redesign, and Eisner pulled the plug on that design. So we can safely point to him, here.

Now, about corporate sponsors: this is fodder for a future Dual Review, so I'll be brief and say that I'm fundamentally opposed to the sponsorships. Yes, I know they have been there forever. Coke is a product of the real world too. Still, I think DL would be an even better immersive experience if absolutely NONE of that existed.

- Kevin

A friend and I visited Disneyland during spring break of 99. This was not to long after the changes to tomorrow land had been completed. We soon found that afternoons were the most crowded part of the day. We decided to try to avoid the e-rides during this time.

On one of our three days in DL we went to inventions to fill the afternoon. The intro out side the building was pointless and boring. Once inside it was apparent the entire building was full of advertisements. The outer circle exhibits were not that interesting. We are both highly technical people and did not find anything there enlightening.

At least it was air-conditioned. There was one game where you fired disks across a round rotating table. It kept jamming up and was not that fun to play. The only fun we had was when we tried to get out to the Internet on one of the numerous PC’s in the building. We thought it would be novel to install ICQ and message some friends from inside DL. However they had excellent security on the computers. 

The GM "ride" was a pointless advertisement. After waiting in line for twenty minutes, we were greatly disappointed. The I couldn’t help feeling betrayed as we left the building. It seems like a waste of valuable real estate.


Dear Austin,

Your reactions mirror those of many people, including mine. I even tried to mess with the computers too, as they must have known people would do, but like you found their security impressively good (good for them). And the experience really could be, as you state, underwhelming.

- Kevin


We're always happy to read your further comments, but our next mail column will center around the subsequent reView topic, and not any longer on this one.

Dual Reviews

Alex and Kevin debate current events and review Disney books.

This column is about opinions; unfortunately, we don't know any important Disney insiders so they are just our opinions. We are bringing this column to you as two ordinary Disney fans, much like yourself. We hope you enjoy and respond.

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