This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Things Disney Can Take To the Dump Along With the Sorcerer’s Hat. With Disney now finishing up dismantling the Sorcerer’s Hat and taking it to the landfill, we here at the SATURDAY SIX offices figured it was a great opportunity to get rid of some other things we want to see removed from WDW. Since the jackhammers and dump trucks are already out, why not take advantage of them and get rid of some other unwanted items?
So we put on our thinking caps, looked around the entire resort, and are here to present to you the six things we think Disney should just wash their hands of, starting with….
# 6 – Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama (Animal Kingdom)
If you have 30 minutes, a Disney Imagineer will explain to you the elaborate backstory to Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama and why its gaudy and obnoxious appearance works wonderful within the otherwise gorgeous Animal Kingdom park. But just like a joke that you have to explain probably isn’t funny, a land that you have to jump through hoops to explain probably doesn’t work either.
Let’s face it, Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama looks cheap. Anyone who has worked in Hollywood will tell you it takes a lot of money to look cheap, and while Disney spent a lot of time and money developing Dino-Rama, it comes across like they just threw it in the park with no thought whatsoever. It doesn’t matter whether it is true or not, perception often becomes reality. Where Disney triumphs above all else is drawing guests into a land, whether it’s walking down Main Street or the subtle transitions from Frontierland to Liberty Square, guests feel completely immersed and everything just feels right. Dino-Rama is like someone dropped an anvil on your head.
There are things to enjoy about Dino-Rama, and if this land were in any another place it would probably be lauded for its creativity. But this isn’t any other place, this is Animal Kingdom. Primeval Whirl and Triceratops Spin, two rides which you can find at your local state fair, in the same park as the elaborately themed Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safari? Cheap carnival games in a park that has Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo: the Musical? I don’t care that if this were the real world Dino-Rama is exactly the type of place that would pop up. This isn’t the real world. This is Walt Disney World, and it’s better than this.
# 5 – Electric Umbrella (Epcot)
When it comes to an overall amount of quality theme park restaurants, Epcot stands alone at the top of the hill. Via Napoli. Le Cellier. Monsieur Paul. Teppan Edo. Restaurant Marrakesh. Tutto Italia. These are just the cream of the crop. You know you are doing something right when Rose & Crown and Sunshine Seasons don’t even rank in your top 10 restaurants.
And then there is the Electric Umbrella.
Electric Umbrella actually brings me back to the days of my youth, watching Sesame Street and singing the song “One of these things is not like the other.” While it is almost inexplicable that Disney guests go to the Electric Umbrella on an average day, it gets ramped up to the nth degree during Food & Wine, when even more – and better – choices are available throughout Epcot. The fact that the Electric Umbrella exists in Epcot is like having President James Buchanan on Mount Rushmore or our very own Len Testa inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Clearly there is a group of Disney Fans that need to be saved from themselves, so here’s hoping Disney just moves Electric Umbrella in the middle of the night and drops it off at any of the bland strip malls along I-Drive.
# 4 – ABC Commissary (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)
With half of Disney’s Hollywood Studios already at the landfill (and they can’t bury The Legend of Jack Sparrow deep enough) it’s tough to justify the park losing something else, but there is absolutely no reason for the ABC Commissary to exist. Now that the park is not even pretending to be a working production studio, there is no need to have a restaurant “themed” (and we are using the loosest definition of that word possible) to a cafeteria you would find at a movie studio. The food is passable at best, and the huge seating area will have you wondering if Disney just forgot to put interesting things inside the restaurant. It is almost impossible to believe the same park contains the elaborately themed Sci-Fi Dine In Theater and ’50s Prime Time Cafe. With DHS transitioning to a more of an “adventure” park, now is the perfect time for WDW to just bite the bullet on ABC Commissary and Fix It!
# 3 – The BoardWalk Pizza Window
Last week we talked about the fact that we think that Disney’s BoardWalk resort is – top to bottom – one of the most impressively themed areas on property. It’s that good. However, if the only way to get rid of the BoardWalk Pizza Window meant losing everything else in the resort as well? Well, that’s a sacrifice we’d be prepared to make. Why? Because sometimes you have to burn a village to save it.
We can all agree that, by and large, Disney pizza is bad, right? You can’t count Via Napoli, Splitsville, or Wolfgang Puck, all of whom have exceptional pizza, but none of them are owned by the Mouse. I also don’t think you can count the 1,000 new flatbread pizzas that Disney put into just about every restaurant on property. Those taste good, but that’s not traditional pizza. We’re talking the pizzas we all get at our local pizzerias, or in the frozen section of our supermarkets, or call to get delivered to our houses. That’s pizza.
Somehow, Disney found a way to mess up pizza. The company that redefined log flume and drop tower rides can’t find a way to make a better pizza than Tombstone. But of all the bad pizza on property, the absolute worst is at the BoardWalk Pizza Window. Possibly the Patient Zero of awful Disney pizza, the BoardWalk Pizza Window serves slice after slice of pizza that would get you murdered if you tried serving it in New York (and they wouldn’t convict your murderer either, that’s a justified homicide.)
# 2 – Journey Into Imagination with Figment (Epcot)
It is with a heavy heart that I write this, as Journey into Imagination was probably my all time favorite Disney ride growing up. I loved the Dreamfinder. I loved Figment. I loved One Little Spark. I loved everything about the ride. Now? Now it’s like that scene from Planet of the Apes when Charlton Heston finds out his friend has been lobotomized. Journey Into Imagination with Figment ripped the soul out of the original attraction and replaced it with a cheap facsimile. Figment, a top ten WDW character, is completely wasted here and deserves better. The whimsical dragon is imagination personified; a character that encourages curiosity and discovery. Now he is reduced to cameos in scenes that have been dumbed down and aren’t that impressive to look at.
There’s a reason this ride is almost always a walk-on despite an overall lack of attractions in Epcot. It doesn’t connect emotionally to anywhere near the degree the original did, and don’t get us started on what has happened to ImageWorks. Let’s hope in the coming years, after Anna & Elsa get their place in World Showcase and Soarin’ gets its third theater, Figment and the Imagination Pavilion will get some TLC and be restored to their former glory. Heck, maybe they’ll actually put some actual IMAGINATION into the next reboot as well, giving this generation the same type of inspiration I had as a kid. And while we’re at it, let’s bring back Dreamfinder!
# 1 – Stitch’s Great Escape (Magic Kingdom)
Where do we even begin? You can pretty much make a case of just getting rid of Tomorrowland in its current state, as even The Simpsons television show mocked how outdated it has become. However, no one can deny that Space Mountain is a still a great ride, Monster Inc. Laugh Floor is an underrated family gem, and with a simple retheming to Cars, the Speedway would become immediately relevant again.
Stitch is a character Disney is going to shove down our throats whether we want him or not. The Stitch character is a great design, and his merchandise is sold everywhere. He is the John Cena of WDW (and a case could be made that Figment is the Daniel Bryan of WDW.) So it is no surprise that despite disastrous guest reviews, Stitch’s Great Escape has been chugging along now for over a decade. But enough is enough. This attraction stinks, period. If the Powers That Be demand that Stitch has to have a ride in the Magic Kingdom, then at least give him a good one.
HONORABLE MENTION: Leave A Legacy at Epcot
I will say up front that I am biased on this one. I have three family members who have tiles at Epcot’s Leave A Legacy, all of whom have now passed away. But I can not deny that these monoliths are something that a lot of WDW guests would like to see removed. Sitting directly at the front of the park, these structures have little use for anyone outside of the 500,000 or so people who bought one of the tiles. It would be like if movies went back to putting the 5-10 minute scroll of credits at the front of films instead of at the end. When you can skip something, you don’t mind it as much, but you can’t skip Leave A Legacy and you are reminded of its existence each and every time you walk into Epcot. So while I will not sign the petition to get rid of the monoliths, I completely understand the reasoning of those that do.
On second thought, maybe the Leave A Legacy monoliths need to stay forever. After all, where else are you going to see head shots of N*SYNC?! #LeaveALegacyFOREVER
So there you have it: Six Things WDW Can Take To the Dump Along With the Sorcerer’s Hat. See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you had fun, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the Pardon the Pixie Dust podcast. You can also catch Your Humble Author’s attempt to make 1,000,000 typos on Twitter: @derekburgan
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Special thanks to crack staff photographer Brandon Glover, ‘Ohana foodie Tim Grassey, MASTER photo manipulator Matt Cleary, and Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Be sure to also check out Brandon on The Park Blogger podcast with co-hosts Aengus Mackenzie and Brian Carey.