That ol’ Rumor Mill is a funny thing. Long, long droughts can occur and it seems like nothing new will ever come over the transom. Then, all of a sudden, there’s a flash flood of new speculation to sift through. Such is the case now, as the rumors concerning Walt Disney World’s impending 40th anniversary celebration have reached the boiling point. There are a whole slew of possibilities being discussed at this point, but precious few details of any of the planned changes.
What is intriguing about this celebration is the fact that, unlike recent anniversaries or resort-wide marketing events, the focus is not entirely on new park additions but also includes several legacy attractions. This is similar to Disneyland’s 50th anniversary, which focused a great deal on the restoration and revitalization of several classic Disney attractions that had fallen into disrepair under the shameful mismanagement of Paul Pressler. It seems at this point that the Magic Kingdom will receive a bit of much-needed TLC to revive it from its own current state of decay; the not-so-benign neglect of current management has left Florida’s park a poor shadow of the refurbished Anaheim original.
Thankfully, we’ve already seen some improvements come to the Magic Kingdom. The Pirates of the Caribbean rehab which added Jack Sparrow actually improved the attraction, something which couldn’t be said for the Disneyland iteration. Last year the Haunted Mansion received a massive overhaul which not only fixed its rickety audio system but actually plussed the attraction beyond all expectation. We’ve also reported on the Country Bear Jamboree, which goes down for a critically needed rehab this fall. After that, though, things start to get speculative.
One thing we do know is that the Hall of Presidents will be closing on the first of November for an incredibly long rehab. Disney’s public refurbishment calendar is only available up to February, but reputable message board sources report that the rehab will actually extend until early next July. With the presidential election looming in November of 2008, it was expected that the attraction would eventually go dark in order to mercifully remove the animatronic of the current child-king from his speaking role and to add the animatronic of our new commander-in-chief. What is unexpected is the apparent length of the upcoming rehab and the scope of the changes it indicates.
There has been a lot of speculation recently that the new president, no matter who wins, would not receive a speaking role like the current inhabitant or Bill Clinton before him. This would reduce the risk of polarization in the current political climate, as well as avoiding uncomfortable undertones due to things like marital infidelities or being a war criminal with a 20% approval rating. The predominant rumor is that the focus of the show will return to Abraham Lincoln himself, and while no one yet knows what the tone of this new presentation will be, one hopes that it will resemble the scope of the original 1971 show rather than the slavery-centric storyline that was tacked on in 1993 to appease historians critical of Disney’s efforts to build a theme park in Virginia. I could elaborate on what else needs to be done to restore this impressive attraction to its original status, but thankfully Foxx at Passport to Dreams has already done it for me. Hopefully we’ll find out more about this long and hopefully significant rehab soon.
This brings us to the final attraction currently rumored to be destined for rehab – the Enchanted Tiki Room. Unlike the two previously mentioned show upgrades, this refurbishment currently resides only in the realm of rumor and hearsay. Yet multiple sources continue to say that, at some point before 2011, something will happen to the Tiki Room. This stands to reason; after all, aside from Journey into YOUR Imagination, The Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management! has to be the most reviled attraction overhaul in Walt Disney World history. Disney fans have bemoaned the attraction since it opened in 1998, and mostly tend to stay away these days. Meanwhile, in California, the original Tropical Serenade show was fully restored for Disneyland’s 50th anniversary and plays daily to happy and entertained guests. So what’s to happen in Orlando after Iago and Zazu get the boot?
Here opinions differ; so far there seem to be two versions of the story. The first says that for Walt Disney World’s 40th anniversary the show will be returned to its original program for a short time while preparations are made for the installation of an entirely new show. The other version omits this return of the Tropical Serenade and says that WDI will just skip to the new attraction. Both versions agree on what this new show will be – after all, it’s already playing in Tokyo.
Earlier this year WDI debuted the third show to play in Japan’s Tiki Room, The Enchanted Tiki Room: Stitch Presents “Aloha e Komo Mai”. The new show, which is completely different from the original, adds Stitch to the mix and incorporates music from his film Lilo and Stitch. Rather than have me tell you about it, take a look below:
As a fan of the original Tiki Room, I have several thoughts about this. First, it’s not all that bad. It’s definitely a darn sight better than the current Under New Management show. The addition of Stitch makes far more sense thematically than Zazu and Iago, and the music from the film is a nice match as well. Hopefully the English script would be punched up a bit; in the version above there’s a bit too much “saying what’s happening” going on. The dialogue is a tad redundant as well, and needs a bit of that original Tiki Room charm. I’d also dial down the confusion and loudness factor, and let things play out a little bit more. The current version of the show is way too in-your-face; after all, isn’t the tiki lifestyle all about relaxation? Most importantly, though, is the cardinal importance of returning the original theme song. People going to the Tiki Room expect to hear The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room and should be able to get it without Gilbert Gottfried screaming or Stitch blowing an airhorn. Throw in the Hawaiian War Chant from the original show as well, and I’ll be a happy camper.
Again, this is all hearsay at the moment but hopefully some change is on the way to Adventureland. Sources say that the addition of the Stitch show depends on its success in Tokyo, but that seems assured. Less certain is the supply of money or willpower from management, but we can always hope. Hopefully the Tiki Gods will smile on us and come 2011 the birds will sing words and the flowers will croon once more.