This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at recent theme park news via memes! Thanks to everyone for following along with our Artist Spotlight in February. It was great seeing the theme park related artwork of @SonderQuest, Sam Carter, Brian Cooper, and Shelby Denham. We look forward to shining a light on four more artists next year (and if you have any suggestions of who you’d like to see, please post their name in the comments). But now it is time to get back to our regularly scheduled programing and that can only mean one thing….memes. It has been a wild month of theme park news and – as always – the heroes and heroines of DisTwitter were johnny-on-the-spot adding a pinch of playfulness, a tablespoon of tomfoolery, and a drizzling of pure frivolity to the proceedings. Let’s kick it off with…
# 6 – The Off Center Barge at EPCOT
Making its debut in 1999, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth became a beloved nighttime spectacular for generations of theme park fans. Let’s face it, we are never getting a show like it ever again. With IllumiNations, we weren’t overwhelmed with characters or forced-in product placements (we’re looking in your direction World of Color) .It is the very definition of a spectacle using over the top fireworks, lasers, neon lights, and a stirring musical soundtrack to deliver its story. Yes, the story may actually be more incomprehensible than the plots of The Matrix sequels, but along with the pyrotechnic ballyhoo there is the large globe doing whatever it is that it did. We don’t know exactly why the globe unfolded like a flower, but that flower brought with it one of the most show stopping finales we have ever seen. IllumiNations was not by any means perfect, but for anyone who saw episode two of The Imagineering Story on Disney+, it was perfect representation of what EPCOT is supposed to be.
IllumiNations was replaced by the short lived EPCOT Forever, a show which was always intended to be a temporary addition until Disney was ready to unveil Harmonious. Over the last year, we have seen the construction of barges that would be used in the Harmonious show thanks to the aerial photography of @bioreconstruct. Even with those, to say “we weren’t ready” to see them in the parks is the understatement of the century. This past week the center ring barge of Harmonious was brought out into World Showcase lagoon, and the theme park community lost their minds. To be fair, it doesn’t take much for said minds to be lost, but this new Harmonious barge gave several reasons. First up, when walking towards World Showcase lagoon from Future World, the barge is distractingly off center from the American Adventure pavilion.
Let’s check out an aerial photo to see the big picture. A dotted line has been placed from the center of the American Adventure Pavilion and it runs straight through to the middle of Spaceship Earth.
Several reasons have been floated about for why the barge is sitting where it is. Possibly it would have cost more money to change the previous underwater infrastructure that was in place for IllumiNations just to move the barge over a bit, as the new ring barge is MUCH bigger than the old globe. Maybe the barge was intended to be seen by guests paying money for dessert parties at the (now cancelled) multi-level World Celebration Festival Center. Who knows the real answer, but @Blog_Mickey has a good as reason as any…
Generally speaking, any time complaints about Disney occur on social media there is a group of hardcore fans who will Knight Up for Disney and tell everyone to “wait and see.” Until now, all of Disney’s nighttime spectaculars – including IllumiNations – were removed from the area so as not to impact the view of day guests. These barges aren’t going anywhere. This led Your Humble Author to use a popular meme format using the character of Agatha from WandaVision on Disney+.
Meanwhile, to counter the amount of people saying “it doesn’t matter anyway,” Rob Yeo reminded everyone of the extraordinary efforts Walt Disney Imagineering used to go through when creating something for the parks.
Now, aside from being off center, many pictures don’t do justice to just how big this center barge truly is. Well, one picture we saw did do it justice…
Others then began using the center Harmonious barge in some E-Ticket photoshops.
After last month’s brouhaha between Eric Idle and DisTwitter, it was refreshing to see his character of Nigel Channing being used in a more lighthearted way.
One for Super Smash Bros super-fans (who might think this the only possible way to make February’s announcement worse than the Pyra and Mythra one…)
We all loved the “portals” moment in Avengers: Endgame, and I loved the attention to detail @DSNYNewscast used for the pictures inside each of their portals.
Theme park meme icon @SuperWeenieHtJr took a different approach, and used Spaceship Earth as a literal golf ball to put through the Harmonious barge like in a game of mini-golf.
How about instead of just being off-center, Disney threw in some other items from years past to spark outrage?
Others chose to use the off-center approach to show how it would work in other places at WDW, including Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
Before we get to our next meme, we need to remind you of a REAL item. For reasons still unknown, Disney has created a line of products based around the world “HOME” using Cinderella Castle as the “O.” However, I can’t imagine any actual human beings would think the silhouette of the castle reminds them of an “O” and mostly would say it looks much more like an “A.”
You know what does look like an “O” though…
Our next memesmith thought outside the box, and came up with a way to make the Harmonious barge even more exciting. First, let’s see an unaltered photo…
A large steel structure inside a theme park? Certain residents of Florida may be more interested than others…
# 5 – VelociCoaster sign
We are getting closer and closer to the debut of Universal’s newest E-Ticket roller coaster at Islands of Adventure. Located in Jurassic Park, the VelociCoaster was already drawing ooooohs and aaaaaahs from guests now that the construction walls are down, but the anticipation level went up a notch this week with the debut of a sharp looking sign that was installed in the park.
Official SAT SIX photographer Michael Carelli (of Plastic in the Parks fame) quickly noted that the signage at Universal was similar to the signage used for attractions in the Jurassic World film. This is one of those details that many guests won’t even think twice about, but is absolutely perfect.
Our man @bioreconstruct had fun with the VelociCoaster sign, adding in a second directional arrow and a fine feathered friend…
Meanwhile @ThemeParkBar did his best to try to manifest something many of us want to see in the Jurassic Park land.
Even without the incredibly themed signage, Universal has been hitting it out of the park getting people excited for the upcoming VelociCoaster. Right after offering some fantastic wallpaper and home screen artwork for guests to use, Universal unveiled a series of tweets using infographics to deliver the deets this upcoming coaster.
Not being able to help myself, I submitted my own infographic.
# 4 – Spider-Man sequel officially gets title
After a couple of fun misdirects, Marvel officially announced the title of this December’s Spider-Man sequel. In a short video, Tom Holland, Zendaya, and Jacob Batalon have fun playing off the history of Holland accidentally letting movie spoilers slip. The video ends with a close-up on a white board revealing the official name: Spider-Man No Way Home. The white board itself is filled with top notch Easter Eggs for movie fans and Spider-Man fans featuring rejected titles. These include suggestions such as Home Alone (rejected for “copyright issues!!”), Home Schooled (“Aunt May says NO”), and – my favorite – Webcamming (“Keep it PG!”).
DisTwitter had fun with the new Spidey title card, including using the aforementioned “HOME” with Cinderella Castle as the “O.”
Always nice to see the iconic Hitchhiking Ghosts from the Haunted Mansion.
One user offered great pandemic advice with their title, especially to people who refuse to wear their face masks correctly.
While yet another played around with a often-used welcoming for DVC guests.
However, despite being advertised as coming “only to theaters,” some still had reservations about sitting in a closed in space with strangers…
# 3 – Tree of Life Oil Rig
This one involves a rather long story, but we’ll sum it up as succinctly as we can. Back in early February, a wildly successful Influencer/YouTuber – one that loves the Disney parks – made a claim that the Animal Kingdom’s Tree of Life was made out of a repurposed oil rig. This is one of those Disney myths that has run wild over the years, and probably at this point more people believe this particular story than do not. However, after the Influencer made a thread talking about the oil rig “tying in a bigger theme in Animal Kingdom of the interaction between mankind & nature,” people responded to contradict the story. One person tagged Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde, asking if we could get some clarification on this Tall Tale. Joe’s response,
“We did not go find a used oil rig. The structure is the same in its engineering, design, and structural units… but designed to our scale and needs. But it was also not ironic or subtextual. Just pragmatic.” – Joe Rohde, on construction of the Tree of Life.
Because everything on social media is just the written word, sometimes things can come across more harshly than people intend. Throughout the course of this oil rig saga, the Influencer’s feelings were hurt – as they felt attacked – and many an account was blocked. The dust has now settled though, and we can all go back to enjoy the parks (and the Influencer’s contributions), but thanks to this whole story we did get one heckuva tweet…
# 2 – Cardboard Characters
This still seems impossible to believe, but after the Theme Park Turkey Of The Year winning story of a Three Caballero A.A. shuffling off this mortal coil, things got even crazier at Gran Fiesta Tour. Earlier this year the Donald Duck A.A. had a memorial service, and then all three Caballeros were replaced with cardboard cutouts!
Your Humble Author, never one to shy away from a controversial topic, used a classic CSI: Miami meme format to express my thoughts.
Interestingly enough, right after the news of the cardboard cutouts at EPCOT hit social media, people noticed that Bruce the shark was missing over at Universal Studios Florida.
Universal’s social media team responded with a tweet that should be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Reminder, this was done during the first few hours that people were reacting to the cardboard cutouts at EPCOT.
Meme icon @SuperWeenieHtJr took the next step and tied the missing Bruce the shark story into the controversial Tree of Life/Oil Rig story (which he was an active participant in and was one of the people blocked back to the stone age by the Influencer).
# 1 – Imagineering-themed edition of Pat The Bunny
One of the more surprising news recently was the announcement of former Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde taking on a new position as “Experience Architect” at Virgin Galactic. This is great news for Joe Rohde, Virgin Galactic, and all the guests who are going to be able to see Rhode thrive in a new environment. It’s bad news for all of us theme park fans who now don’t have Joe Rohde delivering home run after home run on incredible projects such as Pandora: The World of Avatar, the Aulani resort in Hawaii, and The Adventurer’s Club.
Now then, one of our favorite children’s books is Pat the Bunny. A “touch and feel” book, Pat the Bunny lets kids interact with various elements of the book. Social media user @TheDisneyDelete mocked up his own version of Pat the Bunny featuring Disney Imagineers, including the ability to put your finger through Joe Rohde’s ear lobe! To an average person, this probably makes no sense, but to a devoted SAT SIX’er such as you, Dear Reader, this type of detail is wonderful. One part charming, one part hilarious, and three parts next level insane. Just the way we like it!
Also featured, the ability to feel Marty Sklar’s sideburns!
See the world in vibrant colors like the incomparable Mary Blair!
Spin one of Rolly Crump’s whirligigs!
HONORABLE MENTION – Super Nintendo World’s Toad Character
When Super Nintendo World made its debut at Universal Studios Japan last month, it blew people away. The immersive land, rides, food, and merchandise were everything we were hoping for and then some. However, one nice surprise was the Super Nintendo World meet-and-greet characters, especially the adorable Toad.
One person on social media tried to figure out just how an actual person would be to operate inside the Toad character outfit.
DOUBLE SECRET HONORABLE MENTION – WandaVision Series Finale (SPOILER FREE)
As we have stated many times in this fine blog series, I am a life long comic book fan and the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been like a wish coming true. Marvel’s track record on superhero TV shows is nowhere near the level of quality that the MCU attained. There have been some good to very good shows (including Daredevil and Jessica Jones on NETFLIX), but there has been a lot more of “meh, it’s okay I guess” (Iron Fist on NETFLIX) or “just plain bad” (The Inhumans on ABC). In recent years, the people behind the MCU took over Marvel television and announced they would start doing the TV shows, which would also now be exclusive to Disney+. This was exciting news, but even though the MCU have earned my trust by making one fun film after another, I was still wary of the first TV show coming to Disney+, WandaVision.
Well, turns out I should have trusted “The Process,” because WandaVision was better than I could have ever expected and was a blast to talk about with my friends and coworkers each week. This week was WandaVision’s season finale, and while we won’t spoil anything here, there was a brilliant meme using the ridiculous ending to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker that had me rolling.
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).
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Special Thanks to Meme Master Gratuitous Disney Memes, 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.