This week’s SATURDAY SIX is possibly our favorite, as we proudly present the Sixth Annual Theme Park “Turkeys” of the Year. For Thanksgiving this week we took a look back at things both Disney and Universal fans should be thankful for, but today we are going to go the other way. Gather ’round as we continue the time honored tradition of awarding six Theme Park “Turkeys” to the craziest, most outrageous, or just downright weird stories of the year, concluding with the coveted Golden Turkey award. Let’s kick off the ceremony with a look at law enforcement finding out what we WDW guests knew a long time ago…
# 6 – That time the Winter Park police found out the hard way that My Disney Experience doesn’t work that great
Back in April, the Winter Park police department took to DisTwitter in order to identify a possible suspect for a home burglary. They included a picture of two men on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, with a big red arrow pointing to the guy they wanted help identifying.
However, anyone who has actually used My Disney Experience before knows that the app REGULARLY posts other guests PhotoPass pictures on your account. So that begged the obvious follow up question…
Which led to…
Hey Winter Park PD, feel free to use the response I tweet anytime someone says that I “dishonored the locals” with the Disney Outlet Store Photo Report.
My personal biggest takeaway from this story? DisTwitter is now a recognized community by Florida law enforcement. This is like our version of the end of Miracle on 34th Street when they prove Santa Claus is real. And now that I’m an official “CI,” if any Winter Park PD are reading this I’d like to report an online felony and press charges for criminal impersonation.
# 5 – That time the Disney Skyliner went bump in the night…literally
Unless you have been living under a rock and solely came out to read the annual Turkeys (honestly, who could blame you), then you surely remember back in October when the much heralded Disney Skyliner transportation system had an accident and had to evacuate every guest on board.
On the evening of the actual Skyliner
accident – sorry Disney, I mean “unexpected downtime” – some people had a little fun with the situation.
Others were much more serious.
The picture above was drawn on a notepad taken out of an emergency kit located in every Skyliner. Interestingly enough, there was a lot of online discussion on the emergency kits themselves in the days leading up to the accident. People had many things to say on what was included in the kit, such as bags of water, a notepad with the word “Universal” on it (like you could make THAT up), a whistle like Rose had at the end of Titanic, and waste disposal bags.
In fact, there was so much discussion on the emergency kits that on the morning of the Skyliner accident I had done a Burgan Fine Art fundraiser and used the idea of what would be in various emergency kits in order to raise money for Chef Jose Andres ongoing #ChefsForBahamas and World Central Kitchen work. Here’s a couple of the drawings, including one for the Orlando Airport (MCO) and WDWNT, who originally broke the story of what was inside the Skyliner emergency kits that started the entire brouhaha.
Others took to using actual Disney Skyliner toys to “recreate” the incident.
While no video of the incident was available, one member of DisTwitter was able to faithfully recreate the events…
T-shirt and print designs were immediately available on places such as Tee Public and Red Bubble, the best of which used Disney’s own Skyliner logos with a slight tweak.
One thing to remember is that BEFORE the Skyliner originally opened, there was a segment of the Disney fan community who had to keep making sure the rest of us knew that the Skyliner would be the most dependable transportation that Disney ever had. They would often compare the Skyliner to similar gondolas in Europe which work flawlessly. Unfortunately the Skyliner was plagued with issues from the start, with constant delays. On an episode of the Disney Dish Podcast, TouringPlans’ own Len Testa discussed how it took him 90 minutes to do a full loop on the Skyliner, something that should have only taken 30 minutes if there was no downtime in the air. Again, that was before the accident (sorry! “Unexpected downtime”). After the accident the entire Skyliner system was down for days. When it came back up, there were still several days where segments of the line were unavailable to guests.
# 4 – That time Margaritaville lost its mind; forgets core demographic is the “OK Boomer” crowd
Years from now, THIS is one they are going to study in marketing classes.
Earlier this year the Margaritaville Resort Orlando opened, and part of the resort is the Island H20 Live! water park. For those that don’t know, the term “Margaritaville” is based off a song by Jimmy Buffett. In the past several decades, “Margaritaville” has become a very large brand, with “relaxation by the beach” being the hook. Jimmy Buffett’s main group of dedicated fans are called Parrot Heads. Now, certainly everyone can enjoy Jimmy Buffett’s songs, but his strongest appeal is to older adults, the ones who were in their teens and twenties during the 70s and 80s when Buffett was at his peak musically.
The water park attached to the Margaritaville Resort decided to go the other way. Instead of giving off the vibe of lounging around at the beach, Island H20 Live! decided to target millennials. We probably should have known something was up when the water park had an exclamation point built into its name, but no one was ready for some names the park was giving to its slides and restaurants…
Another problem Island H20 Live! has is that it’s pretty ugly, especially when compared to Universal’s Volcano Bay. Some of the slides are so clunky and metallic you’d think they were built by the same design group who made the new Tesla truck, or maybe some kid in Minecraft trying to design a water park.
To take its Turkey worthiness up a notch, the park also had to immediately change the name of one of its slides. When it made its debut, one attraction was called Retweet Racers.
It was soon changed to Reply Racers. One can only suspect that Twitter itself had a problem with using the word “retweet” in a commercial venue.
# 3 – That time the opening of NBA Experience made the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge look great by comparison
Who could have seen this coming? Except everyone.
Many were surprised when Disney announced it was demolishing DisneyQuest and replacing it with the NBA Experience. While DisneyQuest never quite lived up to expectations, it still had a bunch of fun things inside (including a great Pirates of the Caribbean game if you had a group of people). Meanwhile Universal CityWalk replaced it’s NBA City restaurant with Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and saw an increase of attendance of approximately 1000%
For whatever reason, it appears Disney expected the NBA Experience to be a smash hit. Bob Iger was at Disney Springs for the Grand Opening, which he wasn’t for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at DHS.
One can only assume Disney expected the throngs of people to be so many, that they had all non-invited guests watch the Grand Opening ceremony at the nearby AMC theaters.
As any sane person would imagine, it wasn’t exactly standing room only.
To be fair, this is a good idea of what being IN the actual NBA Experience would be like after the Grand Opening, so good on Disney if that was the plan.
In September, people started seeing NBA Experience Cast Members out and about at Disney Springs, trying to drum up interest.
SPOILER ALERT: It didn’t work.
This month Disney did what we all expected them to do in the first place, basically make the NBA Experience free in order to get people to go.
Odds of this new plan working? Well, we’ll see…
# 2 – That time it seemed like Toy Story Land was put together by 10 year old Andy himself and not an actual construction crew
The SATURDAY SIX is often amazed at how fast the Universal Orlando Resort can complete a project, especially compared to how slow it can be over at Walt Disney World. We are often told by diehard Disney fans that this is because Disney “builds for the long term,” meaning that Disney spends more time making sure the attractions are designed to have minimal start up problems and hold up for years.
Apparently Toy Story Land didn’t get that memo.
Some of you may remember that IMMEDIATELY after Toy Story Land opened, the plastic fences that bordered Slinky Dog Dash were cordoned off from guests. Disney never said why, but we can be reasonably sure it was because of safety issues. The fences were replaced with wooden boards, and eventually completely remade using metal.
During the entire first year of Toy Story Land, guests would notice things in the land falling apart, but it was in January when the most noticeable problem happened. The tails were removed from the Slinky Dog trains.
Here’s some examples of the type of issue you’ll see throughout Toy Story Land. First we have Wheezy’s microphone cord that seems to have been fixed with duct tape.
The decals in Toy Story Land are chipped away by guests so fast that Disney can’t even fix them fast enough. If you zoom in on the picture below, you’ll see the right hand side ear has already been painted over at least once.
Earlier this year guests were tweeting about bubbling up of a giant decal in Toy Story Midway Mania, and it wasn’t long before another guests took a picture of an entire flap coming down.
# 1 – That time Bob Iger put his foot directly in his mouth
Our Golden Turkey winner started off innocently enough with Bob Iger being interviewed by the financial publication Barron’s. Iger talked about adding IPs into the parks and compared them to an attraction without an IP…
To put Iger’s answer in a more relatable form to a SAT 6 audience, here it is presented in meme form…
No one knows exactly how Bob Iger truly felt when giving that answer, but the only coaster ANYONE knows that is themed to India happens to be in a Disney park. Yet despite having no IPs, Expedition Everest is consistently among the highest rated attractions at any Disney theme park in the world. To say the reaction to Iger’s quote in the Disney fan community was negative is the understatement of the century, with many pointing out that Disney’s non-IP attraction in Everest often gets higher waits than IP based rides.
Reaction to Iger’s quote was bananas. Hundreds if not thousands of people were tweeting him directly, with many upset about the overall tone of the interview dismissing original concepts and instead humble bragging about the “Return On Investment Capital” that IPs bring. What’s notable is that Iger himself very rarely interacts with people online, but for whatever reason out of the many people who tweeted him directly, Iger responded to my E-Ticket Report podcast co-host Tim Grassey.
However, while Bob Iger wass trying to say “there’s nothing to see here,” his interview in Barron’s quietly had a change. The “[themed to] India or whatever” line was removed.
Now that we are so far removed from the story, it’s hard to remember just how all encompassing this whole deal was when it happened. For 48 hours it was a whirlwind. In the theme park communities online, EVERYONE was talking about it. At the same time – in possibly the greatest trolling moment in history – the Imagineer behind Expedition Everest put out a post on Instagram explaining just one of the many subtle reasons why Everest is amazing.
Now one has surely NOTHING to do with the other, but it wasn’t long after Rohde’s post when Bob Iger’s Twitter account was deactivated.
This did not stop the Disney fan community. Much like the Skyliner accident (sorry, “unexpected downtime), creative people were out in force delivering the goods.
Not to be outdone, Iger got the last laugh when he suddenly came back to Twitter several week later, making absolutely sure people knew that IPs were always better than non-IPs.
Honorable Mention – That time the town of Celebration had a costly typo
DOUBLE SECRET HONORABLE MENTION – That time Disney’s most amazing theme park in America was located in France.
TRIPLE THREAT HONORABLE MENTION – That time Disney was trying to sell leftover cookies from Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in Animal Kingdom
So there you have it: The SIXTH ANNUAL Theme Park Turkeys of the Year! 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 enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the E-Ticket Report podcast. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).
If you enjoyed this article, you will surely like the following:
The 5th Annual Theme Park TURKEYS of the Year (Maleficent dragon float, AA heads falling off)
The 4th Annual Theme Park TURKEYS of the Year (police called on geese at Disneyland, Pandora photoshops Tom Staggs out of existence)
The 3rd Annual Theme Park TURKEYS of the Year (WDW hurricane box, TP blog in court case)
The 2nd Annual Theme Park TURKEYS of the Year (AK poop snacks, Pop Century meth lab)
The inaugural Theme Park TURKEYS of the Year (guests walked to Frozen meet and greet at MK)
Special Thanks to The Elite Brandon Glover, superstar artist Brian Cooper, Captain Cruiseline Scott Sanders of the world famous Disney Cruise Line Blog, my personal protege Hunter “Elvey” Underwood, the bio-est of all reconstructs @bioreconstruct, Mr. ‘Ohana Tim Grassey, the SAT SIX Fun Squad of Parkscope Joe and Nick, hot shot Michael Carelli, crazy cat lady – and our Fearless Leader – Laurel Stewart, and Hermione Granger’s tutor Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. The SAT SIX is inspired each week by goofballs Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde and you Potterheads will enjoy Meg’s other blog work over at the Central Florida Slug Club.
FINAL PLUG! Did you know The 2019 Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando has a special edition of the SATURDAY SIX in it?That’s right, ANOTHER NEW ONE EXCLUSIVE TO THIS EDITION!Finally, someone came up with an actual reason to read a book. ORDER this baby now!