Theme Park Enjoyment Index for JULY 2022 (Carousel of Progress updated, ICON Park loses mind, Tower of Terror billboard RIP)

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The Theme Park Enjoyment Index (TPEI) is a monthly look at the events that have made an impact, both positive and negative, in this wild world of theme parks we all love so much. We’ll assign each piece of news a positive or negative number, tally it all up at the end and chart it. The range goes from 0-100 with 0 being Stitch’s Supersonic Celebration while a perfect score of 100 would be Pandora: The World of Avatar.

Remember, all links in TPEI open up in a new browser window. So feel free to check stuff out, we’ll be here when you get back!

As the founders of the #BeFairToFlorida movement, it has always struck a nerve that Disneyland has been referred to as “The Happiest Place on Earth.” It took 60 plus years, but Florida finally got our own designation. That’s right, this July Orlando was named The Sweatiest City in the USA.

Yeah, so THAT’S how our month started, and didn’t get better from there as the following tweet arrived letting us know exactly how crazy the month was going to get from here…

 

Well let’s see what happened in the theme park world….

*Disney celebrates July 4th

July started off in the most patriotic way possible, since the 4th of July was on a Monday, the entire start of the month was essentially a “July 4th Weekend” experience at the parks. This included characters in EPCOT wearing their Revolutionary best.

Despite the “rumor and innuendo” there is no truth to the story of the American Adventure being replaced in EPCOT by the stage show Hamilton performed by Disney characters. (photo by @Mousesteps)

One of my all time favorite movies is A Few Good Men. Here is one of my favorite “little moments” in that film.

Galloway:
Tell your friend not to get cute down there, the Marines at Gitmo are fanatical.

Lt. Weinberg:
Fanatical about what?

Galloway:
About being Marines.

That’s the best way I can explain a certain demographic of the Disney fanbase that loves Fort Wilderness. Don’t get me wrong, Bacini and I also love Fort Wilderness, but it blew my mind how many guests there go over-the-top compared to any other resort at WDW. On a recent stay to Pop Century we saw various families put decorations up in their windows, but when I went to Fort Wilderness last year during Halloween time, there were many families who had more decorations displayed on their small campsite than any house in my neighborhood back at home. It was INSANE. I noticed that many people had also elaborately decorated their golf carts as well. Later I would find out that several times a year Disney has “golf cart parades” where guests can show their work (Halloween, Christmas, and – as it turns out – July 4th). There is also a Golf Cart parade for Mardi Gras at the Port Orleans resorts.

July 4th Golf Cart Parade. (photo by @mousesteps)
July 4th Golf Cart Parade. (photo by @Mousesteps)
July 4th Golf Cart Parade. (photo by @Mousesteps)
July 4th Golf Cart Parade. (photo by @Mousesteps)
Git ‘r’ done. (photo by @mousesteps)

To see more of this year’s July 4th Golf Cart Parade, CLICK HERE.

Blogger-in-the-sky @bioreconstruct took to the air over July 4th weekend and took some incredible shots showing Spaceship Earth with its red, white, and blue lighting package.

EPCOT, as seen on July 4th weekend. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)
Spaceship Earth. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)

Parachuting from the copter (and thus not needing a pesky park reservation), Bio was also able to get some great shots on the ground.

Mickey, Minnie and friends in front of Spaceship Earth. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Indescribably beautiful. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Breezeway in EPCOT used red, white, and blue lighting for the weekend of July 4th. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

After Bacini – the official dog of DisTwitter – wished everyone a Happy Independence Day on Twitter, Scott Walker created a United States of Bacini that even Benedict Arnold himself would salute.

USA! USA! USA! (art by Scott Walker)

TPEI SCORE: +6 If there is one thing the parks get right just about every time, it is celebrating various holidays and special occasions.

*Carousel of Progress Updates Final Scene

Maybe I was living under a rock, but I had absolutely no idea Disney was updating the final scene in Carousel of Progress, and its debut came out of nowhere at the start of the month. Longtime readers of this fine blog series may remember that CoP was one of the few attractions I never experienced at Walt Disney World despite going regularly my entire life. For reasons I have no explanation for, it was never something I wanted to do. If I had extra time in Tomorrowland I would just re-ride the Peoplemover again.

Just about five years ago now, during an amazing trip in which I discovered Best Friends Pet Hotel, tackled the legendary Rio Grande Challenge at Pecos Bills, and saw Happily Ever After for the first time, I finally broke down and experienced CoPand I loved it. Just a fantastic attraction that I don’t need to tell you about because I’m literally the last theme park fan on Earth to realize it.

So let’s take a look at the last scene of CoP in its previous incarnation. Each character in the scene has been given a glow up with a new wardrobe.

Final scene in Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress.

We’ll start off from L-R, and below is a picture of Grandpa in his previous attire and hairstyle.

Grandpa. (photo by Brandon Glover)

The updated scene has Grandpa in a stylish cardigan (definitely not a pullover, officer), red tie, and gray plaid pants. Apparently Grandpa also had his doctor fax over a prescription for Rogaine, as his head of hair is much more flowing.

Grandpa. (photo by Ivonne Ramos)

Here’s Patty in the previous version of CoP.

Patricia. (photo by Brandon Glover)

The updated version of Patricia has a much more modern hairstyle, is wearing a Progress Tech hoodie, grey pajama pants, and slippers featuring a moose with its tongue sticking out. The Progress Tech: School of Urban Planning is a great reference to Progress City, a model of which you can see while riding the Peoplemover.

Patricia. (photo by Ivonne Ramos)

Howard Bowers, one of our favorite graphic designers in the theme park community, is always Johnny-on-the-spot when it comes to developing merchandise based on the hot trends at Disney and Universal, so of course he quickly made available a Progress Tech hoodie (and t-shirt)  which you can buy and wear the next time you are at the parks. CLICK HERE to get to Howard’s teepublic store.

For our last four characters, we’re just going to look at the “new and improved” versions. First up is Grandma, who is rocking a pink sweater dress and a black cardigan. The red brooch is the same as she wore in the previous version of the scene. This was a major upgrade though as Grandma’s former attire was more of a “Sister Wife” look and her hairstyle is much more contemporary.

Grandma. (photo by Ivonne Ramos)

Son James, playing a VR game with Grandma, now wears a grey and blue pullover. Dad John now has shorter and darker hair, and could easily pass for a Norm Macdonald audio-animatronic. John’s former blue Christmas sweater has been replaced with a red one, and his apron reads “My Food Rocks!” a reference to Food Rocks, one of my all time favorite attractions that was at The Land Pavilion in EPCOT.

James. (photo by Ivonne Ramos)

James’ slippers are the same style that his sister Patricia is wearing.

James’ slippers. . (photo by Ivonne Ramos)

The logo on James’ pullover is based on a design for the never-built Mineral King ski resort, which is a project Walt Disney worked on in the 1960s.

James’ pullover. (photo by Ivonne Ramos)

Lastly we have Sarah, who is now wearing a gray sweater instead of her former red one and has received a much more contemporary hairstyle.

Sarah. (photo by Ivonne Ramos)

TPEI Score: +22 Our long national nightmare is finally over. The scene looks great, it’s always awesome when Disney updates attractions, and thankfully they had some restraint and didn’t have son James talking about which crypto currency he was “investing” in while Sarah was wondering which bored ape NFT she should purchase from the blockchain.

*Another Splash Mountain Log Takes on Water

This year’s annual Turkeys of the Year article may be the easiest I’ve ever had to do as it essentially can just be a compilation of the “Greatest Hits” seeing that we have had another Three Caballeros malfunction and a Splash Mountain log sunk again.

For those keeping track, this is the third time in recent memory that a Splash Mountain log has “taken on water” and those are just the ones we’ve seen because guests have filmed the experience and posted it on social media. When life gives you lemons, you gotta make lemonade and superstar artists @SuperQuest figured out a way to make a sinking experience on Splash Mountain something guests can look forward to…

Disney gave much more details recently on the transformation of Splash Mountain to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure and at this point it is mind-blowing why they don’t just shut the ride down and start work immediately.

TPEI Score: -14 Just close the dang ride already, or offer every guest getting on a pair of hip waders.

*RIP Tower of Terror Billboard

Last year we did an article on things in Florida that are part of the Quintessential Orlando experience. One of those items were the iconic billboards that have been made by Disney and Universal over the years. We all pass billboards every day of our lives and 99.94% of them make almost no impact, but the cool ones we remember and Disney’s Tower of Terror billboard was one of the most memorable ever made. Officially, the Tower of Terror billboard went up on Disney property back in the 1990s, but unofficially it may have been around even longer than that…

Tower of Terror billboard. (photo by @Blog_Mickey)
Tower of Terror billboard. (photo by @Blog_Mickey)

Building things? For that, Disney takes their sweet @$$ time on, but removing things? That they do in record time.

Tower of Terror billboard. (photo by @Blog_Mickey)
Tower of Terror billboard. (photo by @Blog_Mickey)
Tower of Terror billboard. (photo by @Blog_Mickey)

DOWN SHE GOES. (photo by @Blog_Mickey)
“Rumors and innuendo” say that a certain company’s CEO stopped by to pay their respects. (photo by @Blog_Mickey artwork by Scott Walker)
It gone. (photo by @Blog_Mickey)
Like it was never there. (photo by @Blog_Mickey)
Now it looks like the current state of Journey of Water: Inspired by Moana in EPCOT. (photo by Ashley Carter)

Leave the memories alone….(art by Ivonne Ramos)
The reality. (artwork by Scott Walker)

Meanwhile, in an alternate timeline….

If only… (meme by Scott Walker)

TPEI Score: -4 Another one bites the dust.

*Icon Park Loses Mind

So Icon Park, which is located on International Drive (down the street from the Universal Orlando Resort and pretty close the new Disney Ticket Store which you can see from Outer Space) decided to add a new interactive element to their giant ferris wheel (which keeps changing its official name and goes from bad to worse, like Facebook to “Meta.”) The new interactive part? Guests can hold guns with sniper scopes and shoot targets from the ferris wheel cabins. This went over about as well as you can imagine and reaction was filled with vitriol and anger.

Did the overwhelmingly negative reaction cause Icon Park to reconsider their decision, and possibly do some reflection and ask themselves if maybe, just maybe, this was a bad idea? NAY NAY, they apparently got a new Public Relations department from reddit and posted the following response:

Absolutely amazing. I’m convinced that the original PR statement just said “haters gonna hate” but the PR team gets paid by the word so they added more details in. Icon Park wants us to believe that shooting targets from an elevated position in a real life environment is exactly the same as playing Toy Story Midway Mania or Men in Black: Alien Attack at the theme parks.

(meme by @CoolDisneyland)

Just a completely tone deaf response from Icon Park, which is still REELING from a story from earlier this year which was so horrific that we couldn’t even cover it in TPEI. The latest addition to the park was so insane that it seemed more appropriate as a headline from The Onion…

(meme by Scott Walker)

TPEI Score: – 28 “When in doubt, DOUBLE DOWN. Always works.” – Elon Musk, probably.

*Disney Puts Next Level Bonkers Ad in Cars Land

Theme parks need more benches. Period. Thankfully EPCOT has recently added some new benches, which allow guests to take a much needed break and also offer an alternative to the nearby Creations Cafe and Connections Eatery. Thanks to guests having to wait around for their Cosmic Rewind boarding groups to be called, both of those venues can be slammed with people. A couple years ago Disneyland actually removed a good amount of their benches for the highly touted “Project Stardust.” This was one of the actual reasons some Pixie Dusters used when trying to explain why Disneyland “felt” empty after Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened (spoiler alert: it felt empty because it was empty.)

Meanwhile over in DCA, Disney took synergy to the next level with a new sponsored advertisement on a bench in Cars Land. There’s no two ways about it, Cars Land is one of the most well themed lands in any theme park and is absolutely gorgeous during the day and night. You feel completely immersed in the world of Cars. However, the more you think about this bench ad, the less sense it makes. In the world of Cars, the vehicles are sentient. Who would be renting them? Is this a next level joke, and in the Cars universe this is an escort service for gentleman vehicles? Would Lightning McQueen be renting an EV to save on gas mileage and being driving said vehicle from Radiator Springs to Cadillac Range?

Advertising works, says the author of this fine blog series featuring approximately 222 ads per blog. (photo by @Hastin)

TPEI Score: -8 WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!

*NASA’s picture of the Cosmos is straight up E-Ticket

One of the biggest pieces of business in the Real World this past month was NASA posting a photo from deep DEEP space. This picture was so special that a sneak preview was given to the President of the United States. Imagine that POTUS actually getting the honor and privileges usually reserved for the most elite among us: theme park influencers.

Webb’s First Deep Field contains the deepest, sharpest infrared view of the universe to date, and was released on July 11th. To see a collection of the STUNNING photos, CLICK HERE. No, seriously, stop reading this article, CLICK ON THIS LINK, and admire the beauty & wonder of the universe. It’s hard not to contemplate some Big Thoughts when seeing these photos.

Let’s take a look at one of them now…

Carina Nebula. Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI.

The photos are absolutely jaw dropping and, personally speaking, it is almost impossible to believe there isn’t some sort of intelligent life out there. In fact, I truly believe that somewhere out there in the deep cosmos, there is a civilization of beings which was able to create a watchable version of The Eternals, something we mere humans could not.

TPEI Score: +4 We toss around the phrase “indescribably beautiful” a lot in these pages – mostly in jest – but these photos from NASA justify it.

*Disney+ Gets R-rated Superhero Films

For fans of the superhero genre of movies, one frustrating experience is that not all the movies under the Marvel umbrella are available on Disney+. This was for a variety of factors. For example, the Spider-Man solo films are produced by Sony, so despite the fact that Spidey is now actively involved in the MCU ol’ web head’s films aren’t owned by Disney. Earlier this year Disney+ did start putting on many of the Marvel films that were made by 20th Century Fox. This included the disastrous Fantastic Four reboot in 2015 and the X-Men films (which range from the top tier Days of Future Past, First Class, and X2: X-Men United to unwatchable dreck like Dark Phoenix, Apocalypse, and The New Mutants.) Three films related to the X-Men didn’t make it to Disney+ and just so happen to be three of the very best movies 20th Century Fox ever made in the superhero genre: Deadpool, Deadpool 2, and Logan. The reason given was that Disney+ didn’t air R rated movies, that’s what Disney  had the Hulu streaming service for.

Well, July brought with it the 2022 San Diego Comic Con and right before the event started a huge bomb was dropped by Ryan Reynolds the star of Deadpool, giving great news to subscribers of Disney+. These three movies would be available on Disney+ and it would pretty much be immediately. Reynolds did so in a way only he can, showing that other films in the Disney library which are currently rated “G” should probably have a harsher rating because of their content.

 

Bambi.
Old Yeller.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

I loved the following tweet by the official Deadpool film account, because it mocked up the R rated films in the old school clamshell VHS cases that many of us still have taking up way too much space in our house.

TPEI Score: + 2 Hallelujah!

**QUICK HITS**

*Brightline NOT Coming to Disney Springs

The LONG PROMISED high speed Brightline train to Disney Springs has joined the Polercoaster in the list of projects that were talked up by many and had very little chance of actually coming to fruition. Disney passed on paying for the station, and Brightline has said a station will be built “adjacent” to Disney Springs. Anyone who has ever stayed at a hotel that promises it is “close to Disney World” knows what that means (ie; bring some extra money for a long cab ride to where you actually want to go.)

A twist on a old classic. (meme by @superweeniehtjr)

*BREAKING: Someone Actually Out “Nickel & Dimed” Bob Chapek!!

Theme park prices across the board are high enough, but imagine seeing this when purchasing lunch at the parks.

 

In a way, this is a catch 22. Yes, SeaWorld could just raise the prices across the board 5% and “build it into the menu.” However, IF – and that’s the biggest “if” of all time – these charges are legitimately temporary due to market conditions – they would never be reduced at that point. This still allows SeaWorld the opportunity to eliminate them. That said, as we saw with airlines and baggage fees, Disney hotels and parking fees, etc ete etc, once these get a taste of that easy money they don’t ever want to let it go.

There’s also the added layer of SeaWorld really trying to hide these fees. Check out a menu below from SeaWorld Orlando and see if you can spot where it explains the 5% surcharge being added.

This is across the board at all SeaWorld and related parks, including Busch Gardens Tampa/Williamsburg, and even Sesame Place.

They make you work for it, but it’s there if you look closely… (photo by @BGWFans)

*The Bacini Mix

Let’s take a quick story. When the m&m store opened at Disney Springs I went there to get some of the “Mickey Mix.” The Disney Springs location was the only place where you could get m&m’s with the iconic Mickey Mouse silhouette printed on them. Spoiler Alert: I bought the wrong Mickey Mix, a fact which Josh easyWDW tormented me about on the regular.

The m&m store was officially Dead To Me. However, this month I found out you can make your own m&ms. So Babydoll and I took a quick trip to Disney Springs and see how that worked.

It was great. You can get up to four pictures printed on your m&ms (for an added charge) with many options themed to Disney. We went with Cinderella Castle.

It was official, the m&m store at Disney Springs is now OFF THE LIST.

 

Oops, I did it again.

*Tale as Old as Time…

*One Day at the Grand Floridian Cafe…

This wasn’t even the worst theme park sign of the month, as check out this one from Cabana Bay in which every single movie but Trolls is misspelled. As a typo man myself, that’s actually impressive.

(photo by Clint Gamache)
Maybe it’s not a typo after all. (artwork by Scott Walker)

*The Set Up and The Shot

*Jeff Bezos on Space Mountain

We’re not completely sure this photo below of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos having a personal car on Space Mountain is a “shoot” or a “work” but it would make sense considering he was at Disneyland and his ego is right up there at the tippy top.

Of course the pic is going to be used for memes, this is DisTwitter after all. My favorite featured the carcass of the Ellen animatronic.

(meme by Ivonne Ramos)

I think maybe we need to do a SATURDAY SIX for the Celebrity-at-Disney Hall of Shame. We have Bezos on Space Mountain and Billy Corgan on Big Thunder Railroad. Any other suggestions?

“Today is the greatest day I’ve ever known…” – Today, Smashing Pumpkins

*Love these Disney logos

This t-shirt featuring an awesome Main Street USA logo was found at the parks.

(photo by @JLap64)

It came from a series of great logos Disney had used in the 1980s. Let’s have all of these as shirts!

 

*Theme Park Championship Belt

(photo by @JLap64)

There is a natural tie-in between professional wrestling and the theme parks. Several wrestling companies have taped matches at Disney and Universal over the past two decades.

The television show Thunder in Paradise was also filmed at Walt Disney World, and it features a whole bunch of wrestlers AND iconic Disney locales!

@TheMattCardona and TouringPlans’ own Len Testa replicate the iconic Hogan/Sting face off.

*DisTwitter Rookie of the Year

*Great merchandise this month!

Jurassic World popcorn bucket. (photo by Michael Carelli)

Universal, which had almost no themed popcorn buckets of note for the last two decades, has now put out so many in the last month you’d think we were in Tokyo Disneyland.

Minion popcorn bucket. (photo by Hedgehogs Corner)

You can read our DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO PRESSED PENNIES AT THE UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT which has been updated with this awesome new Wizarding World pressed penny book.

WWoHP pressed penny book. (photo by Hedgehogs Corner)
With exclusive penny. (photo by Hedgehogs Corner)

Had no idea my iPhone needed a comfortable DCL themed chair to charge on, but it does! This is the number one reason to book a sailing on the Disney Wish.

(photo by Scott Sanders)
(photo by Scott Sanders)

Well, as the movie Unbreakable taught us, if there is something really good out there we must also have something really bad. It doesn’t get much worse than this shirt.

(photo by Guy Selga)

Last month’s Theme Park Enjoyment Index: 45
This month’s net change: -32
Current enjoyment level: 13

Writer Derek Burgan, when not cleaning Len Testa’s pool, can be found reading comic books, watching professional wrestling, and taking his dog Bacini to Universal and Disney. organizing his various Tsum Tsums in alphabetical order. He will not, we repeat not, be found at a Disney Outlet Store. An official DisTwitter Influencer, you can interact with him @derekburgan

Digital Artist Scott Walker hails from Scotland and is the fifth most famous person from this country following Alexander Graham Bell, Ewan McGregor, Gerard Butler, and Groundskeeper Willie.

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8 thoughts on “Theme Park Enjoyment Index for JULY 2022 (Carousel of Progress updated, ICON Park loses mind, Tower of Terror billboard RIP)

  • July 30, 2022 at 9:52 am
    Permalink

    This new series is great! Thank you for it!

    Reply
  • July 30, 2022 at 3:58 pm
    Permalink

    My husband and I have a disagreement – ie whether Carousel of Progress had been updated when we last went on it. I don’t think it was or we would have noticed it there and then, but my husband thinks that, with the news that it had been updated, he remembers that it had been. So can anyone confirm what date the Carousel of Progress was updated – to settle the argument? Thanks 🙂

    Reply
    • August 1, 2022 at 10:23 am
      Permalink

      Looking back at distwitter, the first mentions & photos of the CoP wardrobe updates was on July 1st (as well as the updated peoplemover narration, which went unmentioned in the TPEI calculation).

      I hope that means you won the argument. 🙂

      Reply
      • August 1, 2022 at 2:33 pm
        Permalink

        It does – hurray!!!! Thank you 🙂

  • July 31, 2022 at 10:14 am
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    The comment about campers at Fort Wilderness Campground…. had me rolling on the floor !

    Reply
  • August 1, 2022 at 9:53 am
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    The new slippers the kids are wearing have the classic, tongue-out reindeer from the Christmas parade of many years ago!! (I have to admit, another blogger had pointed that out, but I thought it was too good not to share! Another thoughtful nod to WDW’s past!)

    Reply
  • August 1, 2022 at 10:09 am
    Permalink

    The “moose” on the slippers that Patricia and James are wearing is a tribute to the old-school reindeer (with the long Pluto-esque tongues) that used to be in the christmas parades.

    Reply

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