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More Vacation Planning, 1994 Style

When last we met, we watched a lavish trip planning video from 1993. Today we’re going to stop by Walt Disney World merely one year later, but it’s pretty obvious that by 1994 things have really changed.

For one thing, there’s the length of the video. The 1993 edition is almost fifty minutes long; by 1994 it had been pared down to twenty. You can tell how this affected the flow of the segments – it took nearly twenty minutes in the 1993 video to look at the Magic Kingdom and Disney-MGM Studios alone. In this video, we breeze through those parks in about eight minutes. The result is that many of the older attractions, even some classics, get no mention at all. Watch how the video skips around the Magic Kingdom, and think about how many key elements have been completely left out.

There have been some changes in the parks, too. A new Tomorrowland arrived in the Magic Kingdom, and Sunset Boulevard opened at the Disney-MGM Studios. A number of changes were underway at Epcot – not longer EPCOT Center, please note, and soon to be the ridiculously titled “Epcot ’94”.

Other things to note in this video, aside from the massively sped up pace, indicate the slow creep towards blatantly deceptive advertising. This can be seen in the promos for new attractions Alien Encounter and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which have been used and reused so many times over the years that I guarantee you’ve seen at least elements of them before. These highly “dramatic” depictions of the attractions bear little resemblance to the actual rides whatsoever, and are obviously attempts to be “edgy” and appealing to teenagers. What’s funny is that I was a teenager when they emerged, and I was mostly annoyed that they indicated that Disney thought I was an idiot. The production values of these newly-filmed segments are notable, as they employ many tactics and gimmicks that Disney still uses today


If you’ve watched the 1993 video, you can also catch Disney in a lie here and there, as they re-use guest interviews from the earlier video to describe completely different attractions. Of the guests offering “testimonial” for Alien Encounter in this video, one group was actually describing the Sorcery in the Sky fireworks show and another was talking about her ride on Splash Mountain.

Towards the end of the video things get really insidious, as we begin to see actors start to appear as fake families talking about their Disney experiences. This really starts the narrative of Disney as a place only for families or kids, and it indicated the dream/wish/magic saturation that would emerge in years to come.

But check it out for yourself! 1994, Disney propaganda style:

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12 comments to More Vacation Planning, 1994 Style

  • Celeste C

    Really, how much time do you actually need to cover WDW? You can do the whole place in a day or two.

  • I so cant wait for ‘Update 95′

  • I noticed a very quick glimpse of an Aladdin Magic Carpet Simulator type ride in the Epcot section of the video (part 1). I assume that was some part of Disney Quest?

  • Adam S

    I remember doing the Aladdin Magic Carpet Sim. around that time. It was at Epcot in part of Innoventions, if I remember correctly. I think it had changed from Commincore by then.

  • Another Voice

    Disney created the ‘Imagineering Labs’ (if I recall the name correctly) in Communicore. It’s announced purpose was to show off the gee-whiz stuff from WDI. They had a short presensation about Imagineering and the ‘Aladdin carpet ride’ was the showpiece of the great wonderous technology Disney had in store.

    The real purpose of the lab was that Eisner (and others) were trying to create a brand out of WDI to be used in video games, electronics and other consumer goods. Eisner decreed that WDI’s days of being nothing but a cost center were over and they had to turn a profit like everyone else. Not much really came from from it besides a couple of failed video games, so WDI was collapsed into Attractions.

  • The Aladdin clip is indeed from the “Imagineering Labs”, which were in Innoventions West. They were in the area that was last used for the EPCOT 25th exhibit.

    The attraction was much like AV said – small groups were led into one room, with lots of technical-looking equipment sitting around in bins. The host would talk about WDI, and then pick two people from the audience to test-drive the prototype VR carpet rigs that would later emerge at DisneyQuest. There were televisions overhead so that you could see what the riders were seeing on their headsets. Lots of good PR for Silicon Graphics :)

    If I’m not mistaken, the entire show is on one of Martin Smith’s Communicore/Innoventions tributes…

  • Adam S

    I just remember running into Iago a lot and the VR helmet giving me a headache.

  • Bob Smith

    The downfall was caused by the creation of the Value Resort category. Disney suddenly had to fill thousands more rooms — cheap rooms. So now they had to target poor, uneducated people in their marketing. Thus, the dumbed-down vacation planning video.

    That inevitably led to the Dining Plan and the dumbing down of the menus that we’re dealing with now. All because Disney started targeting poor, uneducated people instead of sticking with their traditional constituency.

  • [ this is jerry ]

    Around :49 of the second video you can hear a stock laugh they jammed in there to match to a kid laughing. It’s the same audio as when you do ‘:D’ in Trillian (an IM client). Look for LOL.wav.

    I’d roll my eyes, but I don’t want any canned laugh track to start playing inside my office.

  • Another Voice

    The problem at the time wasn’t the Moderates (that’s a whole ‘nother issue), it was all those millions of sophisticated, hip and educated Europeans that refused to visit Eisner swank “I know what they want” Euro Disney, and all those hip, edgy, sophisticated educated types who didn’t want to learn to master the skill of making pesto sauce at The Disney Institute between spa treatments at the Grand Floridian that really did in Walt Disney World.

    The first was pure economics. Disney was counting on the billions of francs pouring in from Paris to flood the company with money. Not only was that not going to happen, Disney was having to pour cash into that sinkhole, to prop up the stock price, and in higher borrowing costs. Everything was (temporarily it was thought at the time) cut pending the day when those French people would come to their senses and flock to beet fields outside of Paris. They never did.

    The second issue was Eisner’s long standing goal of moving WDW upscale, away from all those inbred square state yokels to the correct kind of people from the correct kind of places with the correct kind of values. Eisner didn’t want Main Street, he wanted Fifth Avenue. That’s where the real money and the real prestige was. Here too the fashionable elite continued in their indifference.

    The death of Frank Wells removed Eisner’s adult supervision and things quickly spiraled out of control. Euro Disney sunk even further, WDW’s high end offering were still ignored by mouth-breathers looking for plush and so Eisner abandoned any interest in the theme parks. Besides, by 1993/1994 he was in full Lord of All Media Mode and was scamming for a television network to plunder. WDW went from being the core business of Disney to an open pit strip mine. WDW would fund a decade of failure, boondoggles, and mistakes make by the rest of the company.

  • philphoggs

    Always enjoy this blog with the interesting and insightful opinions commented here.
    Can’t add much, but have to laugh ‘:D’ because I was thinking, hey, this is far better than the planners we get now. Just then the Swan En Dorphin comes into view slapping off the rose colored glasses. “This planning video has been literally been brought to you by FED EX” ~ OMG.

    Anticipating the scary adventure of update 95.

  • […] guys over at Progress City USA located some old Disney Promotional videos from 1994. I love a good classic Disney video! Be sure to check out their podcast […]

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