Sunday, March 02, 2003

New Disney Thrillrides Greenlighted

ARN&R has just learned that Walt Disney World, in Buena Vista, Florida, has been slated to receive several new E-ticket attractions, slated to open throughout 2004. According to Disney spokesman Bill Zeebub, “there’s going to be so much excitement at Disney in the next few years, no Florida visitor will even consider visiting any other parks.”

Industry experts see the greenlighting of these new projects as proof that Disney has finally realized it has lost guests and money over the past several seasons. “First of all, there are the sponsorship issues, “ stated Desmond Bishop, an Amusement Business columnist. “At the Disney World parks, they have recently lost deals with AMEX, FedEx, GE, MetLife, and others. They release a new ride very rarely at any of the parks, and it inevitably has flaws that result in closures and capacity issues. They charge obscene amounts for admission and services. It’s finally caught up to them.”

Bishop added that, “we are finally seeing Disney react to its problems in a positive fashion, though. These exciting new rides will, our publication feels, bring back the respect and influx of money that Disney expects and is accustomed to receiving. The Mouse is back!”

Zeebub gave reporters tantalizing hints as to what 2004 would hold for each of the Florida Disney parks. “Visitors to the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland should prepare for the excitement of Bridget Jones’s Diary: The Ride. This will be a 400-foot launched Vekoma coaster where passengers experience a one-of-a-kind thrill of being placed in the ‘flying’ position during portions of the coaster. Heartwarming scenes from the movie will be projected on giant IMAX screens around the riders, and we expect that they will be both touched by the cloying sweetness and have their pants soiled by the utter terror of this attraction. It’s a unique combination people will love.”

Other parks will also be blessed by new major endeavors. The MGM Studios Park will add a ride called The View, which will be “an exhilarating next-generation interactive thrill experience dealing with the popular daytime talk show.” Riders will first strap themselves onto hosts Barbara Walters, Meredith Vieira, Joy Behar, or Star Jones (actually, ARN&R has learned that these are elaborate ride vehicles themed to the hosts rather than the hosts themselves; the Star Jones vehicle will be specially designed to accommodate guests of larger proportions). They will then prepare to “experience an astonishing multisensory overload.” Apparently, the cars will move much like the ones for Spiderman at Islands of Adventure, but will be suspended and capable of inversions. Live action, 3-D goggles, and 230 million dollars worth of pyrotechnics and water tank effects will be used. A plot line involving in-depth discussion of women’s health issues, detailed interviews with movie stars, exciting fluff pieces, and a violent, gory, intergalactic space battle is still being finalized, but the show “promises to be a true dominator of all five senses.” Rumored guest contributors include all the hosts of The View, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Met Opera music director James Levine, the members of Metallica, and Carrot Top. No official word has been given on a possible cameo from departed host Lisa Ling, nor on whether the expensive attraction will be sponsored by Old Navy.

EPCOT is slated to receive 40 Days and 40 Nights: The Decimation. Details are scarce about this attraction, but Zeebub told reporters that the ride “will utilize a unique and specially designed interactive centrifuge pod system that will simulate a thrilling mission in space.” Says Lance Hart of Screamscape, “this is almost certainly a cheap last-minute retheming of an existing delayed attraction, Mission: Space. Disney is just trying to capitalize on a hastily slung-together theme so they can slap Josh Hartnett’s mug up everywhere.”

Finally, Animal Kingdom will add “Slingblade…On Ice!!!” According to Zeebub, “Disney could think of no other property it owns more suited to a dazzling display of Broadway-style songs and tantalizing ice skating spins and jumps than Slingblade. Visitors to Animal Kingdom seem to enjoy coming to the park even though there are basically no rides, so we thought we’d keep that trend going.” But that’s not all. The ice show will be the centerpiece of the brand new 5,000-dollar Deep South Land at AK. Zeebub says, “we could not locate a really appropriate themed area within Animal Kingdom in which to place the attraction, so we plan to sling, so to speak, a new Deep South-themed area together for it. Basically, we’ll have some pigs and goats, and a few old outhouses and some rusted El Caminos stuck up on blocks. The food stands will serve biscuits with mustard. We’ll also have an interactive tobacco exhibit, where you can pick the leaves, dry them, and sample the final product by putting a pinch between your cheek and gum. The kids will love it!”

Zeebub refused to confirm speculation on whether Miramax’s exciting Kate & Leopold franchise would finally receive its own E-ticket attraction in the next few years.