There’s been a lot of low-level news lately that I’ve neglected to mention, and one of these stories involves my beloved WEDway Peoplemover. The Tomorrowland classic took a brief refurbishment break when Space Mountain went down for its rehab earlier this year, and has recently opened again with some minor changes.
Visually, the lights along the overhead track have been replaced with LED lighting that is able to fade from one color to another. The overall effect is very moody at night, with dark reds and purples giving an otherworldly feel.
The most noticeable, and most discussed, change is in the attraction’s narration. Gone is the booming 1994 “future of the past” narration; instead, guests now hear a more subdued, descriptive track that does not present a storyline for the land but just serves to point out the various attractions to guests. It’s far less obtrusive than the previous narration, but many fans who grew up knowing only the 1994 ride rehab have objected to the loss of the land’s storyline and the narration’s references and in-jokes. Others prefer the new narration; why not watch this nice fresh video from Orlando Attractions Magazine and we’ll discuss?
What do you think? I don’t think it’s so bad. First, and most importantly, it does no harm. It’s low key and unobtrusive, as opposed to the previous narration that could be a little blaring at times. The biggest drawback for me is the intrusion of character voices with Stitch, Mickey, Buzz and Roz, but that’s just an unfortunate byproduct of what Tomorrowland has become. That’s a much bigger problem beyond a mere single narration track.
What’s interesting is that it’s the first WEDway narration since the original Jack Wagner track that doesn’t try to present some sort of fictional backstory. The 1994 redo and the ORAC-1 “commuter computer” narration from the 1980s both were centered around narrative conceits, while the new narration is not. It is chirpy and light in tone like the ORAC-1 version, instead of the more stentorian tones of Jack Wagner or the 1994 remodel. It also uses the term “peoplemover”, which had been abandoned in 1994 when it was rethemed to become the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. That’s a recipe for fanboy happiness.
And, in case you didn’t notice, there was a shout-out to Progress City. Thanks, guys!
The scuttlebutt on the internet suggests that this is merely a temporary track that’s being used until Space Mountain re-opens later this year. That’s definitely plausible, but hopefully they won’t replace it with something completely over-the-top. While it will indeed be strange at first to ride without the spiel that’s been there – shockingly – for fifteen years now, the many changes that have occurred in Tomorrowland since 1994 made it necessary to create a new narration. While unfortunately we’re still stuck with the character invasion, unlike Disneyland we still have our Peoplemover and that’s something to be really excited about.
Now, for a bonus trip down memory lane, here’s Martin Smith’s tribute to the WEDway. If you never experienced the pre-1994 ORAC-1 narration, enjoy: