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The SATURDAY SIX Looks at Recent Theme Park News via MEMES (Joe Rohde, Magical Express, Disneyland APs, and more!)

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This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at recent theme park news via memes! 2021 is just three weeks old, but boy has a lot happened during that time. Thankfully, the heroes and heroines of DisTwitter are making sure we get all the news we need to know along with a dash of lighthearted fun.

# 6 – Disneyland Cancels Annual Passes

One thing that many theme park fans thought *should* happen, but never thought actually *would* happen is the Disneyland Resort doing something about their annual passholders. Unlike Walt Disney World in Florida – which has a much smaller amount of APs compared to regular day guests – Disneyland has a lot of APs because of the sheer amount of people that live within driving distance to the parks. That fact, along with Disneyland being the one park Walt himself walked in, helped Disneyland sell a ton of annual passes, despite having some huge price increases over the past few years.

With no clear end point for the coronavirus in sight, Disney needed to do something to prepare for when their California parks finally reopen, presumably with a limited capacity. When Walt Disney World instituted a park reservation system, it drew the ire of many annual passholders. Disneyland is surely going to implement a park reservation system to help handle capacity as well, and they would have a lot more angry APs if they didn’t rip the band-aid off now. To the shock of just about everyone, on January 14th Disney released the following statement:

DisTwitter created their own statements.

This statement would actually make Tom Bricker’s day. (meme by Gratuitous Disney Memes)
To get across how angry someone is about a certain topic, a popular meme format uses a moment from the movie Marriage Story where the character played by Adam Driver punches a wall during an argument. (meme by @ropedropchris)

Others brought back popular meme formats to use with this story, such as the “how it started/how it will end” meme comparing the Disneyland AP to another relic from a long ago era.


Heaven needed an Annual Pass…(meme by @bressler)

Sometimes you have to look at the bright side though. Yes, your annual pass is gone, but the good news is that you’ll soon* have that pre-paid money back in your bank account. (*Soon being a relative term as it took months for many WDW APs to get their money refunded when Disney allowed guests to cancel that option in 2020.)

And if Disneyland doesn’t reopen to theme park guests, well we can still repurpose it into something useful..

(meme by Clint Gamache of ThrillGeek)

# 5 – Joe Rohde Retires

Earlier this month Joe Rohde officially retired from Walt Disney Imagineering after 40 years with the company. With a resume that includes being the lead designer for the Animal Kingdom theme park, Animal Kingdom Lodge, and the Aulani Resort in Hawaii, Joe is possibly the most well known Imagineer to today’s casual theme park guest. For hardcore theme park fans, Rohde would be in the mix to be on the Mount Rushmore of Imagineering, along with names such Rolly Crump, Mary Blair, Marc Davis, Tony Baxter, Harriet Burns, and X Atencio.

In recent years, Rohde has been tasked with what could be considered impossible projects, and instead made them immediate fan favorite hits. When Pandora: the World of Avatar was announced for the Animal Kingdom, some scoffed at the idea of adding such an IP-driven land into a park based around conservation. However, from the moment Pandora opened, it was a huge hit with guests, with Flight of Passage becoming one of the most popular rides in theme park history. Meanwhile, after Disney bought the rights to Marvel, it was tasked to Rohde to shoehorn a comic book IP onto the Hollywood Tower of Terror attraction in Disney’s California Adventure. Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! took everyone by surprise by delivering a ride experience that was much more fun than its predecessor along with having great appeal to theme park, comic book, and movie fans with all the cameos, references, and Easter Eggs throughout the queue.

Expedition Everest along with its main creative force, Joe Rhode, and the Yeti. (artwork by @SonderQuest)
Joe Rohde incorporated into the Tree of Life. (meme by Gratuitous Disney Memes)


There’s niche and then there’s niche. This is the latter. (artwork by @SonderQuest)

On the day of Rohde’s retirement, some of DisTwitter went down the rabbit hole after discovering the Pokemon character Klefki bares more than a passing resemblance to Joe’s iconic earrings.

(meme by @DisneyDan)
(meme by Gratuitous Disney Memes)

# 4 – TRON Lightcycle Run Closes Portal

Readers of this fine blog series are used to delays in Disney construction projects. Hearing that the TRON coaster in Disney’s Magic Kingdom won’t open in 2021 wasn’t a huge surprise to most, but it was weird to see an opening in the large show building completely sealed off. Blog Mickey got the photo below which shows the track for the TRON coaster that appears to be going straight into a wall (which, granted, would probably still be more fun than riding Primeval Whirl again). Before it was sealed off, this area had a large opening and was a “portal” that guests will go through when entering the show building.

TRON Lightcycle Run. (photo by Blog Mickey)

DisTwitter had a lot of fun with this one…

(meme by @SuperWeenieHtJr)
(meme by Gratuitous Disney Memes)
(meme by @HackermanJoe)
(meme by @n8creative)
(meme by @avoidTIMtation)

# 3 – The Absolutely Incredible Story of Another Caballero Dying at Gran Fiesta Tour (Seriously, This. Actually. Happened.)

You would think the Theme Park Turkey Award Winning story of Jose Carioca going down at Gran Fiesta Tour in EPCOT would be the last time we’d hear about that attraction for a while. NAY NAY. In the first week of January, Donald Duck was physically propped up due to some issues the audioanimatronic was having.

Gran Fiesta Tour. (photo by Blog Mickey)
Gran Fiesta Tour. (photo by Blog Mickey)

DisTwitter created a meme showing Roger Rabbit holding Donald in place. Normally, that would be the end of the story…however we’re not even close to that.

(meme by Gratuitous Disney Memes)

The next day, Donald Duck was removed from the attraction and what looked to be a memorial was put in its place.

Gran Fiesta Tour. (photo by Blog Mickey)
Gran Fiesta Tour. (photo by Blog Mickey)

DisTwitter had a lot of fun with this one, including using the “ghost” of Donald Duck as we saw in the Disney Sing Along Song Series: Disneyland Fun.

“I want to tell you my secret now. I see dead people ducks.” – The Sixth Sense (meme by Gratuitous Disney Memes)

Plot for Soul 2 in the works for Disney+.
If I were Panchito Pistoles right now I would rent, not buy. (art by @SonderQuest)

Eventually, even the memorial was removed. We don’t know what’s going to happen to Gran Fiesta Tour next, but we can’t wait to see it….

Gran Fiesta Tour. (photo by Blog Mickey)

# 2 – Tragical Express

While those in California got the surprise of AP cancellations, we in Florida got shocking news of our own with Disney announcing that the popular Magical Express bus service would be ending later this year. We’ll wait to see what Disney plans for a replacement, but right now this seems like a short sighted move to save money. Magical Express kept people in the “Disney Bubble.” A bus would be waiting for you at the Orlando airport and would take you straight to your Disney hotel, where you could then use the various forms of Disney transportation (including busses, Skyliner, monorail, and boats) to stay on Disney property for your entire vacation.

On Disney message boards and Facebook, this announcement went over about as well as you’d think it would, with people flipping out. Adding fuel to the fire, DisTwitter memesmith @SuperWeenieHtJr came up with an iconic photo.

(original WALK meme created by @SuperWeenieHtJr)

This  meme went viral, going everywhere on all forms of social media. Your Humble Author also shared it on Twitter. When sharing it, I did so via a RT, which showed people exactly who the meme came from. However, an Influencer must always remember the sage advice Uncle Ben gave Peter Parker, “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility…”

The next part of the story is unfortunately “part of the game” when it comes to creating memes in today’s world. Because most people don’t watermark their work, there are times it can be hard to trace back who was the original creator of the photo. Other times people are much more devious, clearly taking someone else’s popular meme on Twitter and pretending it as their own when reposting on Facebook or Instagram.

Weenie’s WALK meme started appearing everywhere uncredited. Some of us on DisTwitter started to have fun with that fact, adding our watermarks onto the photo to drive @SuperWeenieHtJr even more crazy.

# 1 – Theme Parks Feel The Bern

This past week was a pretty major one when it comes to America, and there was no bigger sign that big changes are already here than “The Bernie Meme.” During Joe Biden’s inauguration, what caught many people’s attention was the sight of Senator Bernie Sanders, sitting by himself wearing a thick pair of Vermont-made mittens.

Tons of people immediately shared the above photo, adding a description of their own above it.


Others started adding Bernie to photos, and that’s when things REALLY got good. Theme Park fans hit home run after home run putting Bernie into various places in Walt Disney World.

Bernie on Splash Mountain. (meme by @SonderQuest)
Bernie at the France Pavilion in EPCOT. (meme by @SuperWeenieHtJr)
Bernie as the dog-with-the-keys in Pirates of the Caribbean. (meme by @hackermanjoe)
Bernie as Sonny Eclipse in Cosmic Rays. (meme by Gratuitous Disney Memes)

“What year is it? Oh, right around the turn of the century. And believe me…”

Bernie as John in Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress. (meme by @shanew21)
When they choose you as “that guy” at Monsters Inc. Laugh Factory.  (meme by @TGrahamMemories)

Going above and beyond are those who made videos. Below is a screenshot of Bernie in a Haunted Mansion Doom Buggy, but you can also watch the animated version. After seeing that, check out this one featuring Bernie in MuppetVision 3-D. AMAZING!

Sorry Bernie, only “happy” haunts here. (meme by @Yester_World)

Here’s what is most stunning about the Bernie meme. Normally a meme like this would catch fire and then be immediately forgotten about in a couple hours because some other next-level bonkers event happened in the world that we all had to worry about. The Bernie meme continued into the next day, something pretty much unheard of over the last several years. (I would say “four years” to be precise.)

We feel ya on this one Bernie. (meme by Disney Food Blog)
Bernie high atop Spaceship Earth. (meme by n8creative)
Bernie in Frozen Ever After. (meme by @SuperWeenieHtJr)

Hey, I know this story…

Have to give major props to those who go the extra mile.

Bernie at the Hollywood Tower of Terror. (meme by TequilaBecca)
Bernie on one of the infamous nanny chairs at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort. (meme by @brresler)
Bernie on a monorail. (meme by Brad Starr)
We LOVE this one with Bernie at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. (credit current unknown, but meme was discovered by SAT SIX’s own Megan Stump)

Crazier still was that the Bernie meme was shared by a lot of famous athletes, musicians, and movie stars. Currently on Disney+, the show WandaVision is a gigantic hit with fans and critics alike. One of the stars of the show shared a meme using Bernie in a moment from WandaVision episode 2.

Each episode of WandaVision pays tribute to television shows of years past, including homages to the openings of shows like Bewitched. One animated opening to WandaVision had an animated Bernie added to it!

WandaVision and Bernie. (artwork by @pk_kenzie)

Here we have Bernie patiently waiting for Disneyland to reopen.

Disneyland Bernie. (meme by @WDWTales)

You’ve heard the story talked about by Len Testa and Jim Hill on the Disney Dish Podcast, but here is Bernie at the “Save Mr. Toad” sit-in at the Magic Kingdom back in the day.

Bernie the honorary blogger. (meme by @hackermanjoe)

Of course the Universal fans had fun with Bernie as well, including added him to Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.

“Having fun? Well, tell your face.” (meme by @Papi_Cumpleanos)

Finally Universal was able to do something about that pesky Osprey problem

Bernie nest on top of the VelociCoaster. (meme by @G_Prodigy)
Bernie on the VelociCoaster ride vehicle. (meme created by one of those responsible for the actual ride vehicle, @G_Prodigy)
Bernie splashing down on Jurassic Park River Adventure. (meme by Andrew Warner)

HHN Fans had to represent.

Jack, Chance, and Bernie. (meme by ThrillGeek)
For me personally, this is ::Chef’s Kiss:: (meme by @HackermanJoe)
Bernie at our beloved Voodoo Doughnut. (meme by @StitchThePomFL)
I’d watch this show. (meme by Blue Man Group)

Let’s close the Bernie memes tying back to an “unforgettable” moment from last year


Honorable Mention – When Memes Are So Weird They Are Great

Lost amidst this month of gigantic news was Universal putting out a meme so bizarre… so insane… so incredibly weird that it’s actually awesome.

(meme by Universal Orlando Resort)

So there you have it: The SATURDAY SIX Looks at Theme Park News via MEMES! 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 covering the latest from the Disney Outlet Stores. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).

If you enjoyed this article, you will surely like the following: 

The SATURDAY SIX Looks at Theme Park News via Memes (vol 1)

The SATURDAY SIX Looks at Theme Park News via Memes (vol 2)

The SATURDAY SIX Looks at Theme Park News via Memes (vol 3)

The SATURDAY SIX Looks at Theme Park News via Memes (vol 4)

The SATURDAY SIX Looks at Theme Park News via Memes (vol 5)

The SATURDAY SIX Looks at Theme Park News via Memes (vol 6)

The SATURDAY SIX Looks at Theme Park News via Memes (vol 7)

The SATURDAY SIX Looks at Theme Park News via Memes (vol 8)

The SATURDAY SIX Looks at Theme Park News via Memes (vol 9)

The SATURDAY SIX Looks at Theme Park News via Memes (vol 10)

The SATURDAY SIX Looks at Theme Park News via Memes (vol 11)

The SATURDAY SIX Looks at Theme Park News via Memes (vol 12)

The SATURDAY SIX Looks at Theme Park News via Memes (vol 13)

The SATURDAY SIX Looks at Theme Park News via Memes (vol 14)

Special Thanks to The Elite Brandon Glover, the bio-est of all reconstructs @bioreconstruct, Captain Cruiseline Scott Sanders of the world famous Disney Cruise Line Blog, my personal protege Hunter “Elvey” Underwood, artist @SonderQuest, the SAT SIX Fun Squad of Parkscope Joe and “the Dadalorian” Nick, hot shot Michael Carelli, charter member of the Universal Four @Nitro230, 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.

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4 thoughts on “The SATURDAY SIX Looks at Recent Theme Park News via MEMES (Joe Rohde, Magical Express, Disneyland APs, and more!)

  • I seriously cannot get enough of the Bernie memes! Thanks for giving me a much needed laugh this morning!

  • Please, somebody make a meme with Bernie sitting beside angry splash mountain woman!

  • I know that I can always count on you, Derek, for an excellent laugh. Bernie is now selling sweatshirts with his picture, mittens and all, to benefit Meals on Wheels. Hopefully, this is the start to a year that just keeps improving.


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