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The WEDway’s Back

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:

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10 comments to The WEDway’s Back

  • I really like the new narration… I was running around shouting “ORAC-1 has returned!” after it came online. That’s not quite what’s going on there, but it’s close enough for me. They even call the ride system the “Peoplemover”,which makes me very, very happy.

    Yeah, people who knew only the irritating TTA “let’s shout about nonsense constantly” version won’t be happy, but you know what? This change wasn’t for them. Those of us who were weaned on white Tomorrowland know what’s going on here. And I, for one, am happy I can just go around above Tomorrowland and look at things and not have people shouting about tentacles and hoverburbs constantly.

    We all know that there’s a time and place to be shouting about tentacles, and Disney isn’t it!

  • android.dreamer

    I think it is really the only area where you get a look at the original designs for E.P.C.O.T. It goes by so fast, I really would have preferred if it was in a different area so I could really take my time and study it.

  • philphoggs

    Yes we all know that there‚Äôs a time and place to be shouting about tentacles… like a 20k die hard protest! :)
    I hear it was really something to see the full EPCOT model once at Disneyland, I wonder what sort of pics are out there?
    Ok, since you asked for opinion, I agree with you folks on the relative improvement (maintenance crew good touch), but voice talent is a solid C. The lighting effects mix well with todays atmosphere. Nice, nice.

  • Yeah, the voice isn’t too great, but I’m not sure that a voice begging for attention would be appropriate on the WEDway. It’s the same guy who voices the automated spiel on Living with the Land, which is similarly functional and pleasant. Far worse is the obvious “this is John from marketing’s best Buzz Lightyear impersonation!” nature of some of the character voices.

  • Yeah, really like how they didn’t butcher anything, and enjoy the lighting, but if anything… I’m not really that hot on the narrator’s voice – too young. I’d prefer the lady’s voice through Space Mt. (or even a deeper male voice), just because those more “adult” voices seemed to give the trip/mode of transportation a kind of validity. Overall, though, great job!

  • DizWiz

    Count me among the people who like the new narration. I’m one of the ones who grew up with the ORAC-1 spiel, and this is a definite throwback to that. I hope it doesn’t turn out to be just a temporary narration; or if it does, then I hope the final narration is in the same vein. I think it’s time for a change from the previous narration.

  • android.dreamer

    I really want to check it out in person. I will be there on the Nov. 14th and won’t really make a decision until I rode it a couple of times through. I think it makes a difference when you are trying to pay attention to the exhibits, the echoing noise around you, and the narration combined together.

  • @Foxxy:

    LOL. Indeed. I do wonder if it was an intentional nod to “white” Tomorrowland; when I first heard it, I was instantly reminded of ORAC-1, but hadn’t heard that spiel in a while. When I listened to it on that tribute video I was surprised at how similar it was.

    I agree with those who aren’t totally sold on the voice; it does seem a little “temp track” to me, but I kind of like hearing something at Disney that isn’t overly slick to the point of self-parody. It’s just… relaxing, which is what the WEDway should be! I hadn’t realized it was the same voice as the Land, Foxx… good ear.

    @android

    I wish we’d get a better look at the EPCOT (or should I say, Progress City!!) model too. And I wish we’d get to see the full model that was featured back in the day at Disneyland.

    @phil

    Zing! I also agree that the lighting effects are nice.

    @Matt

    Lady voice… interesting. I think that would work well. Maybe for the next narration, when they ditch SGE and MILF? :)

    @DizWiz

    Yeah, I definitely hope they keep the feel too…

  • WDWLocal

    There’s nothing wrong with the added character voices, IMO. They’re just as unobtrusive as the overall new narration track itself, which I agree is a throwback to ORAC-1.

    Besides, there’s nothing wrong with the characters. They’re part of Disney and a big part of the overall magic and big picture.

    And, Michael, SGE and MILF are not going anywhere anytime in the future, so I would not hold my breath.

  • Do Fuss

    Always hopeful, yet discontent, knows changes aren’t permanent, but change is.

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