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David Koenig
Mailbag — Week of March 19, 2001

Catching Up

Insightful mail ranging from Atlantis to Soarin' over Florida to Disney Goes Ebay.

Jason Bostick wrote:

As soon as I saw the trailer at the Animation Building of DCA, I saw what you noticed, namely a ride begging to be born. I don't know how this jives with the dire predictions for the Submarine Voyage attraction, since all the recent news about the subs rotting behind the waterfall is concurrent with the Atlantis film development, but here's my fantasy pitch for redoing Submarine Voyage to become Atlantis: The Escape…

Atlantis promotional art  Disney
Atlantis promotional art Disney

Mechanics: The sub vehicles will be redone to look like the sub from the movie. In addition to track wheels, there will be hydraulics and a central pivot located at the rear of the sub (out of sight, of course). The result will be a sub with Star Tours capabilities, including pitch and yaw to enhance the action of the attraction. The interior will need to be widened and seat belts installed, along with video screens and surround sound, a la the sound effects for Alien Encounter. Also, there is no need for complete submersion during the ride. You could keep the lagoon but once the sub goes into the cavern and out of sight, drop the water level below the new tracks to save on wear.

Now, I admit that I'm not up to date on the movie yet, but there seems to be an obvious narrative structure that could form the basis of the ride attraction. Part One: the quest. Your sub and its intrepid crew dodge raiders and all manner of hazards to find Atlantis. (Again, apologies for not knowing the film's plot here). This part could climax with a confrontation with the Leviathan. All the time, the real effects of a sub could be applied in surround sound, including creaking joints approaching crush depth, klaxons, power outages/blackouts and water bursts from pipes, etc. And that's not even counting sea battle effects! (What does a giant metal claw rasping the hull of a sub sound like?)

Once the adventurers reach their goal, Part Two begins. The volcano that destroyed Atlantis once has reawakened and you must flee its wrath. The Escape sends riders through a dizzying set of canyons with steep banking and scraping rock noises and blast concussions from the volcano. The escape concludes with the granddaddy of all sub maneuvers: the emergency blow. Here the hydraulics really show off, pitching the entire sub at a steep angle while rising to the surface. The best part is that the sub could really break the surface and crash back down, just in time to return to the loading quay. Of course, people standing in line and observers on the other side of the lagoon would see this dramatic action (maybe even get splashed?), building expectation.

At any rate, I sure hope they do something worthy with Submarine Voyage. Maybe they should save the nickels they may dribble into DCA and schedule an Atlantis attraction for the summer just after the DVD release.

Jason, you don't know how close you are! Among WDI's several options for the subs are incorporating Star Tours and Alien Encounter-type effects, although in a more practical (and deceptive) way than you envision.
 

Miguel wrote:

David, after reading your article, I am eager to see Atlantis: The Lost Empire now more than ever. If it is as good as it seems, then it should be a real winner.

Conversely, anything less than a full blown, home run attraction based on this movie would be a real letdown, a wasted opportunity. Unfortunately, I no longer have trust in Disney that they are willing to go the extra mile to hit real home runs, attraction wise, in Anaheim.

Not to say that the Imagineers aren't capable of dreaming up something spectacular, but if this thing gets "Presslerized" into something mediocre, then I'd rather just see them drain that leaking lagoon and fill it up with dirt.

As much as I'd love to see an E-ticket sub attraction, I hope Disney doesn't go around replacing mediocrity with mounds of dirt. The parks can't afford to lose any more attractions—even SuperStar Limo.  

A Cast Member wrote:

Loved your article about Atlantis. Two of the characters will be appearing at Disneyland and at the Hollywood district of DCA as "face characters" when the film is released.

At this time, the two "face" characters that are scheduled to appear are Milo (the hero with the glasses) and Princess Kida (the blue-eyed, white-haired princess of Atlantis). This information has not been released to anyone outside the park, yet. So you are the first to know. But you didn't hear it from me!

Concerning the fate of the Submarine Voyage, it doesn't look good. If the attraction was to do any good, the reconstruction work should have already started to tie in Atlantis. Whatever plans I have seen would entail lots of money, and you and I know that won't happen.

Also, a tech on Fantasmic! told me that management plans to change the soundtrack to the show, probably because it will be celebrating its 10th anniversary. How much they are going to tinker around with it is unknown. It's still in the discussion stage.

Another Cast Member claimed:

Roger Rabbit Entry Sign
Roger Rabbit Entry Sign

Roger Rabbit is supposed to reopen with the start of the summer schedule. WDI is supposed to be completing testing there over the next couple of months, but communication isn't quite what it used to be.

Word is that the Main Street Electrical Parade, at least that which remains of it, is to return to Disneyland in 2002. Jokes are already circulating that Disney will trade DCA passes for all the lamps they sold off when it left for Florida!

He also included an email, sent to salaried employees resort-wide:

MEMORANDUM

Have you ever wondered what to do with that old sign that just got replaced by a new brighter sign, and is now sitting in the corner of your storage area taking up space?

Have you discovered some extra plastic leaves from the remodeling of the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House?

If so, please do not discard them. The Disneyland Resort is able to reuse this product to enhance our Guest's experience through Disney Auctions Online.

Hello, my name is KC Sanders, Manager of Online Initiatives, located here at the Disneyland Resort and I would love to talk to you about your possible product. I would be happy to evaluate the possible value of any items big or small as well as taking care of storing them in the interim.

I will be concentrating on finding unique pieces to drive awareness to the Disney Auction site. Toward this effort, I will be approaching you and others to seek out the product (old, new, prototypes) to create the optimum assortment. In addition, if you have ideas or leads for me, please let me know you know your business and its appeal to a Disney Guest better than I, and I will rely on your expertise.

Guidelines have been established for approving Disneyland Resort product to be placed Online. This is to protect the integrity, brand and image of The Disneyland Resort. Therefore, any product to be placed on auctions through Disney Online Auctions must have the proper approvals. I will be coordinating this process.

My contact noted:

Disney continues to prostitute itself any which way it can in order to get more money… all in the name of "trivia" Could this be the first of many signs that Disney could be going under?! and be sold off on eBay? Ha! Will this give cast members "incentive" to rape and pillage attractions?

I asked him: "Is there any incentive for cast members providing items to Disney's New Auctioneering Department?" He responded:

Under the Eisner/Pressler regime?!?!?! All one gets is the pleasure of enhancing the company's bottom line!!!

I next posed the question to KC Sanders, Manager of Online Initiatives, who replied:

How did you receive this the email?

Finally, a sampling of new themes suggested for Soarin' over California when it is added to Disney World.

Reader Roger Colton wrote:

I would hope that any Soarin' adventure for Florida would be a more general Above America theme. Imagine flying above the Shenandoah Valley or, taking a page out of the old CircleVision, a bird's-eye view of colonial Williamsburg. Or how about an aerial view of the Grand Canyon?

One could come up with an endless line up of spectacular views that guests would enjoy. And, yes, even some of the views from California such as the Golden Gate or Yosemite could sneak in.

An aerial view of just Florida might be a touch boring. However, an aerial view of a space shuttle launch could be a real show stopper!

Jason suggested:

When I first heard from the DIG that Eisner wanted to take DCA to Orlando, my first thought was that we could change Soarin' over California to "Flight of the Snowbird," a rollicking journey down the I-95 from Boston to a summer retirement village in Miami, complete with special effects like the smells of fry oil from the rest stop Hardees restaurants!

Soarin' Over California
Soarin' Over California

Seriously, though, the first time my wife and I rode Soarin', my thoughts immediately turned to one inescapable conclusion: this would be the way to see the original Star Wars. Imagine: to celebrate the opening of the updated Star Tours, Disney Entertainment throws a high-end limited attendance party (a la Toad, Villains night, etc.) where guests can attend a one-night screening of the original film on the IMAX screen. Or better yet, just edit a 10-minute version of the climax of the theatrical release so you can career (not careen, look it up) down the trench of the death star before being escorted to the new Episode One Star Tours. As one of the shrinking number of fans who can claim that they saw Star Wars first on the big screen (mind you, I was only seven), I would beat a path and camp out for this experience.

And Greg wrote:

I have another idea for your Soarin' speculation rides series: Pearl Harbor!!! I think there are a looooot of planes in this Disney movie, don't you think? Could be perfect in the Orlando Studios and in the Paris Studios.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Koenig is the senior editor of the 80-year-old business journal, The Merchant Magazine.

After receiving his degree in journalism from California State University, Fullerton (aka Cal State Disneyland), he began years of research for his first book, Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears Look at Disneyland (1994), which he followed with Mouse Under Glass: Secrets of Disney Animation & Theme Parks (1997, revised 2001) and More Mouse Tales: A Closer Peek Backstage at Disneyland (1999); all titles published by Bonaventure Press.

He lives in Aliso Viejo, California, with his lovely wife, Laura, their wonderful son, Zachary, and their adorable daughter, Rebecca.

You can contact David here.

LINKS

Click here to go to David's main page for a list of archived articles.

Visit MouseShoppe to purchase copies of David's books. (Clicking on the link opens a new window.)

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