MousePlanet Mailbag

by Stephanie Wien, staff writer

In this week's mailbag, staff writer Steve Russo shares reader opinions on old versus new attractions at Walt Disney World in response to his series "Old or New" (January 29, 2010).

Larisa writes:

I just wanted to comment about your list of versus. There is no versus when it comes to Journey into your Imagination and Journey Into Imagination with Figment. None! Hands down the latter! Bring back the old Figment, my favorite ride and character. I am surprised Disney has not gone back to the original with all the people I talk to that prefer it. I want my Figment!

Also, I have never been on the food ride at Epcot, but I just KNOW it wasn't as good as Soarin'! Love me some Soarin', again another no brainer, no need to compare!

Melia writes:

While reading your newest Old or New column (which I loved, by the way), I thought of some other attractions that have been changed or refurbished:

-Old Tower of Terror or New Tower of Terror
-Countdown to Extinction or DINOSAUR!
-Old Haunted Mansion or New Haunted Mansion
-Old Pirates of the Caribbean or New Pirates of the Caribbean
-Honey, I Shrunk the audience or Captain EO
-Journey into Imagination (I think) or Journey into Imagination with Figment
-The Hunchback or Notre Dame Show or Lights, Motors, Action!

Thanks for the suggestions.

Jim writes:

Just to clear up a few things... Mr. Toad is indeed a classic Disney character. You may want to check out The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, a double feature of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and The Wind in the Willows, adapted from two classic stories.

I knew Mr. Toad had the Disney link with "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad" - I just didn't express myself very well there.

Perry H. writes:

There is no doubt that Fantasyland lost a treasure when it removed Mr. Toads Wild Ride, assuming it was the same as the Disneyland version. The Pooh ride is a complete bore. Mr. Toad was wild and dark and fun. At Disneyland Mr. Toad, is far more popular than Pooh. Location may have something to do with it; who wants to drag their kids all the way to the very end of Critter Country for a so-so ride. At Walt Disney World Pooh is hugely popular being in Fantasyland. There was something about the adventure of Mr. Toad that is missing in the happy bouncy Pooh ride.

Alas, I am older and nostalgic for the old days.

p.s. Stitch's Great Escape is just terrible.

I've often heard that the Disneyland version of Toad was better than the Disney World version. To be honest, now that it's gone, I wish I had ridden it.

I'm with you on the nostalgia (and getting older as well).

Jim R. writes:

Here is my two cents. I didn't see the first article so I'm just commenting on these. I worked in the parks for years including Walt Disney imagineering and maintenance. I have some inside info on some things.

The Living Seas versus the Seas With Nemo and Friends
- I think this was a much-needed improvement. I remember it well. No one really bought the fact you were going into an underwater sea base, even the kids.

Journey Into Your Imagination versus Journey Into Imagination With Figment
- The only reason they changed this is because it was too hard to maintain and they were forced for budget reasons into not fixing many of the effects in the ride as they broke. Also, many didn't work as advertised. For example, the room with the flowers was supposed to be one bright color then change color as you went though the ride right before your eyes. When the ride opened, they looked off-white with spots of color. The theater portion was a VERY poor design and broke down quite a bit. The main problem was a moving wall traveling the same speed as the ride vehicle. The ride vehicle came out of sync all the time and would place an emergency stop on the wall, which brought the ride down for hours. But it needed to because that wall could just crush the ride vehicle if it didn't stop. Luckily, it never happened. That problem alone probably made them change the ride.

Universe of Energy versus Ellen's Energy Adventure
- Now that Ellen is popular again, the change is great, but they changed, especially the pre-show, for maintenance reasons. Dinosaur part needs to be longer still.

El Rio del Tiempo versus Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros!
- This is the best, most needed change ever. They changed an incredibly boring cheap-looking, dark boat ride into something fun and colorful. Needed and well done.

Spaceship Earth (Walter Cronkite/Jeremy Irons) versus Spaceship Earth (Dame Judy Dench)
- I'm not sure if they will ever get the end of the ride right... even the new one.

Hall of Presidents versus (new) Hall of Presidents
- To me this is the big controversy. The changes in the presentation and redoing the movie and dialog are spectacular! But all politics aside, what happens if Obama is not re-elected. I was floored, outright SHOCKED, the political message it brings. Lincoln or Washington should be in the place of the current president. Although Walt was very patriotic, he was not political. I voted for Obama and still support him, but he has no business being the center of the attraction, and neither would Bush, Clinton, Bush Sr., Reagan or any other president in office at the time they were in office should be featured. It is a historic message NOT a political one.

Fantasy in the Sky versus Wishes
- Wishes in Disneyland is one of the best shows you will ever see. Orlando's is not bad either. Technologically improved by synchronizing fireworks better.

Animation Tour versus the Magic of Disney Animation
- One of the most missed attractions at the studio. Bad decision on Disney's part to get rid of it.

Thanks for sharing these insights. I'm in agreement on everything, especially the Animation Tour.

Jennifer S. writes:

I have another for your list: Original Playhouse Disney Live versus new Playhouse Disney Live in Walt Disney World. Original had Rolie Polie Olie, Bear, PB&J Otter, Stanley, Book of Pooh and had some of the songs from out of the box. I loved the old one I know they need to change with the new shows on TV, but I enjoyed the values and interaction with the older show.

Thanks for the suggestion and sharing your opinion.

Rich T. writes:

Great article, Steve, and I'm sorry I'll never get a chance to experience Timekeeper, but...

As soon as possible, please get yourself to Disneyland and take a spin on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride to see for yourself why so many people love it so much. And, better still; before you ride watch Ichabod and Mr. Toad (or just the Toad half of it) to see where the ride's mindset is coming from. It's a story about an eccentric, irresponsible, half-mad toad on the run from the law because he's been framed (by a bartender and a gang of weasels) for stealing a motorcar! The main characters, the cops, the bartender, the weasels...even the train...all come from the film. Except, instead of having the happy ending where Toad clears his name, the weasels get punished and Toad goes on to recklessly fly in newfangled airplanes, Disney opted to have riders go to hell.

Why? Because it's the best dark ride moment of all time! It's brilliant, startling, hilarious and absolutely unlike anything else in any Disney park...or anything else on the planet. The getting-hit-by-a-train effect is brilliant in its simplicity and effectiveness, and hell (at least in the Disneyland version) is played for humor with its mirror-image of the court prosecutor, the cackling devils (who look kinda like shmoos) and a coughing dragon. Besides, they don't even want your lousy driving habits in hell, because you're promptly booted back out to the living world.

I did ride both halves of the Walt Disney World version and loved it, but I still prefer Disneyland's remodeled the only remaining Toad ride on the planet. It's kind of a "greatest hits" combo of the two Florida tracks and the 1955 original.

Besides, it's fun to tell people who've never ridden it that there's a ride at Disneyland where you get hit by a train and go to hell. My niece told me it was very, very popular at her recent grad night party.

It's so offbeat, so chaotic, so weird, so unlikely...and so very, very Toad. I hope it rampages through the English countryside, cackling like a maniac, for ages to come. Needless to say, I do *not* think Pooh was an improvement.

Thanks. Like many of my opinions, the one on Toad was certainly tongue-in-cheek and I hope it came off that way. I appreciate the background you provided and your affection for the ride is evident.

A trip to Disneyland is something I've wanted to do for some time but the opportunity hasn't yet presented itself. Hopefully, in the not too distant future I'll be able to get out there and see what Toad is really like.