This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at 6 Reasons We’ll NEVER FORGET 2021 (No Matter How Hard We Try!) With the new year upon us, it is time for another SATURDAY SIX annual tradition of looking back at some of the most “memorable moments” of the previous twelve months. Now we already covered some of the most next level bonkers events of 2021 with the prestigious Theme Park Turkey of the Year Awards, so today let’s look at six theme park stories that fall into a different area. Events that are almost hard to believe actually happened, but we promise that they did, and we’re here with the proof. So let’s kick it off with…
# 6 – Lightning Lane Gets a FastPass to the Disney Signage Hall of Shame
When Walt Disney World reopened after the pandemic shutdown, there were many things that didn’t open with it. These included meet-n-greets, attractions such as Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, Typhoon Lagoon water park, and various hotels including All-Star Sports (which as of this writing is still closed). The most noticeable change however was the loss of FastPass+. For the first time in years, almost every single guest at WDW only had one choice when it come to an attraction: the stand-by line.
At first, the mandatory six foot social distancing caused stand-by lines to extended into areas of the theme parks no one has ever seen before. It was almost comical. Many guests were upset and it was hard to blame them. Despite actual evidence showing that the elimination of FastPass lines make the waits in stand-by much faster, guests have been trained to expect FastPass+ and the loss of it was frustrating. While there had been “rumor and innuendo” on podcasts such as the Disney Dish and various theme park message boards that Disney was working on a paid replacement to FastPass+, there was zero communication by Disney on what – if anything – would be happening to the FastPass+ queues at every attraction.
Then on September 2nd, out of almost nowhere, Lightning Lane signage went up at the WDW parks. Because Disney had been so secretive about this project, apparently not even informing front line Cast Members of this upcoming change, signage was put up overnight.
The results, in some cases, speak for themselves.
The original FastPass+ entrance sign could still be seen underneath the Lightning Lane sticker.
Meanwhile, over in Fantasyland…
So of course the Lightning Lane signage was immediately inducted into the Disney Signage Hall of Shame, where it joins legendary Disney signs such as EPOCT, Art Or Animation Resort, and everyone’s favorite Wax Been Done.
For me, the Lightning Lane signage had the same feel of when Universal was making the change from Lucy: A Tribute to the Hello Kitty gift shop. One day the Lucy sign was up…
…and the next day it was just turned around and duct taped back on.
# 5 – Disneyland Guest Takes a Public Potty Break
When theme park videos go viral, it’s almost NEVER for a good reason. In the 8th annual Theme Park Turkey of the Year Awards we covered the story of the Cast Member who filmed himself drinking water out of Disney fountains only to be fired shortly thereafter once the videos gained notoriety. About a week after the Lightning Lane stickers were put up in Florida, Disneyland had its own bit of publicity when a guest was asked to leave the park after urinating in a cup inside the park (but not inside a bathroom.)
For reasons still unknown, this guest had a family member filming the discussion they had with a Disney Cast Member giving their side of the story and posted it online. The story, as unfathomable as this may sound, involved “being judged for a bad bladder.” All the Karen cards were pulled out including can I talk to your manager, and I pay for your paycheck, along with the ultra rare I went to Aulani, in April.
Keep in mind that the person peeing into the cup was not that far away from not just one, but TWO bathrooms.
# 4 – Disney+ Series Rips Off YouTuber
When Disney+ made its debut back in 2019 we looked at the Good, the Bad, & the Ugly of the streamer which has become the basket that Disney is putting all of its eggs in. The Mandalorian showed that Disney+ has the potential to do incredible Star Wars stories, opening up the possibility of seeing a look at the galaxy outside of just The Skywalker Saga. The Made-For-Disney+ movies are still underwhelming, but the Marvel shows have all been decent to outright fantastic (especially considering they all had major challenges being produced during the pandemic.) There’s still not enough theme park based material for me, but one show we did get was Behind The Attraction.
The debut season of Behind the Attraction had 10 episodes. The episodes covered such attractions such as The Haunted Mansion, Star Tours, and Space Mountain. Each episode covered the history of how an attraction came to be, using interviews with people such as Walt Disney Imagineers to tell the story. For theme park fans, it is a fun watch.
Episode 4 dealt with The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and a YouTuber noticed some similarity between his work on a video titled How Disney’s Tower of Terror Works and what Disney+ had on screen in Behind the Attraction.
There were more examples as well.
What is even crazier, is that generally Behind the Attraction would use a blue background for visuals, but in the specific cases where it looks like they outright stole someone else’s work, the background was changed to red.
The online response to Behind the Attraction’s “theft” was brutal. St. Onge’s Twitter thread showing the various problems received thousands of likes along with hundreds of replies and quote tweets in support, from some high profile people as well. One of the more well known producers of the series was Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and his company, Seven Bucks Productions, so The Rock was tagged in many tweets. Behind the Attraction had to do something, and they did.
It’s a shame that it took such a major outcry for something to actually happen in this story and make things right. You have to wonder how common outright theft can be in this industry. Going “viral” can be the luck of the draw at best, and most people simply have no voice when it comes to someone higher up on the food chain getting credit for their hard work.
# 3 – Disney Door Dash
The last two years have seen the unbelievable rise of food delivery services such as Door Dash, Grub Hub, and Postmates. One thing almost all of us theme park fans love is the amazing restaurants at Walt Disney World, and the thought of being able to have them deliver straight to your house seems too good to be true. One user on social media found out that is exactly the case.
Various Disney World restaurants popped up on food delivery services throughout 2021, and @clarabellecows wasn’t going to miss out!
Everything was looking good…
…until it didn’t.
No one knows why the Walt Disney World restaurants keep popping up in the delivery systems, but each story ends the same way, with orders being cancelled and refunded. When you think about it, it wouldn’t even make sense profitability wise for anyone to make this idea ever work. Unless Disney ran their own system, whatever driver Grub Hub or Door Dash was picking up the order would have to have an annual pass, make a park reservation (good luck on that at times), pick up the food, leave the park, and then deliver the order. You’d lose your shirt, although to be fair many companies with less solid business plans have received millions of dollars in start-up money so what do I know. I should also note the one restaurant at WDW you can get delivered on property is Earl of Sandwich in Disney Springs.
Now delivery while IN the park? That’s an idea we can make work. So I’m standing in a never ending line for Tower of Terror and I can have a Ronto Wrap delivered to me while I wait? Where do I sign up?!!!
# 2 – The Magic Kingdom puts a DJ on Main Street USA
While it has become a well worn cliché at this point, no one truly knows what Walt Would Have Wanted. Well I guess we do know one thing, Walt would definitely not have wanted a DJ playing rock music off a lap top at the end of Main Street USA as guests made their way home after a long day at the parks. However, that’s exactly what happened for a limited time back in August. Turn of the century mid-western nostalgia mixed with an airhorn sound effect and some dank beats, nothing is more Disney than that!
I want everyone to be absolutely clear that we aren’t making fun of DJs here. They can be true heroes and are used to great effect at both Disney and Universal. We are making fun of the very concept of Disney putting one on Main Street USA during regular guest hours. We don’t get to use this word often here, but a DJ in this particular spot is incongruous.
In fact, let’s look at a case from 2021 in which a DJ in Disney’s Magic Kingdom was awesome. For New Year’s Eve, DJs could be found throughout the park, including leading what seems like a wild dance party in Frontierland. However there is a huge difference on the chaos atmosphere for a party night like New Year’s Eve and a normal night in August.
Your Humble Author, never one to let a joke die, took a picture posted in December of Goofy waving goodbye to guests and added a little something extra….
# 1 – Guest Goes Food Shopping at LIVING WITH THE LAND
We mentioned earlier that videos taken at theme parks which go viral often paint all of us theme park fans in a poor light. The video which may have went the most viral in 2021 was one featuring a guest on Living with the Land jumping off the boat to steal a cucumber. Upon returning to the boat, the guest tripped and fell flat on their face which caused another guest to get out of the boat in order to help them.
Don’t do this.
Honorable Mention – If you can’t read the article, or even the headline, at least “read the room”
For me personally, my favorite thing involving Disneyland last year was their bonkers reply to a tweet from the OC Register. For those who don’t know, the OC Register is daily newspaper in California which often “carries water” for Disney. In fact one of their stories to explain the lack of attendance in Disneyland after Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened was so ridiculous that we had to parody it here in This Fine Blog Series.
Anyway, after Disneyland introduced the Magic Key program this summer, the reaction from theme park fans was not kind. Many guests had a hard time defending this new version of an annual pass that came along with price increases and a frustrating park reservation system that had many dates unavailable to even the highest tiers. After critical reaction reached a fever pitch, here came the OCRegister to explain how “per ride” Universal Studios costs nearly 10 times more than Disneyland. Quoting a “study” from Britain (which literally just took the price of a ticket and divided it by the number of rides) the OC Register made an entire article using no context to explain how the cost of a day ticket for a park with less than a dozen rides like USH compared to a park with a lot of rides like Disneyland. What OC Register didn’t mention is that one ride at USH, the 45-60 minute long Studio Tram Tour, can’t be compared to a normal theme park ride like the Mad Tea Party in Fantasyland. Similar to Disney’s Animal Kingdom and its animal exhibits, USH is more than just theme park rides. It is still a working movie and television production lot. While making the case that that lack of rides at USH doesn’t match favorably to Disneyland, the OC Register also didn’t mention how three out of the four theme parks at Walt Disney World have about as many rides as USH, if not less. Funny how that happens.
Regardless, the Disneyland social media team quote tweeted the OC Register article with a response that seemed like it was written by a robot.
So there you have it: 6 Reasons We’ll NEVER FORGET 2021 (No Matter How Hard We Try!) 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 THEME PARK ENJOYMENT INDEX, giving a monthly recap of all the theme park news you need to know (and a lot more you don’t need to know, but we’re gonna tell you anyway). You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).
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Special Thanks to The Elite Brandon Glover, Digital Maestro Scott Walker, 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 mighty maven of merchandise Hedgehog’s Corner, 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. Absolutely no help was added by SeaWorld Influencer @SuperWeenieHtJr. 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.