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disney change

Disney and Change

For many of us, we have been visiting Disney for years and years, and remember fondly the Disney of our childhoods or first visits. I started visiting Disneyland in the early 70’s with my family, and didn’t make it across country to Walt Disney World for another 20 years. As a child, my two favorite rides were Rocket to the Moon and Adventure Thru Inner Space. I still miss the PeopleMover at Disneyland, but fortunately I can still visit a similar one the Magic Kingdom. Sometimes that nostalgia for rides, parades and attractions keeps us from seeing that they need to replaced, or better options have come available to Disney as a replacement. We all want to go to Disney and replicate that fantastic trip we had years ago, but that is nearly impossible as the parks change. Remember what Walt Disney said:

“Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world. It is something that will never be finished. Something that I can keep developing and adding to.”

Of course, this philosophy applies to Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise ships, etc. When you sit down and think about it, Disney has done a remarkable job of keeping the original Disneyland rides open and fresh, while adding additional attractions that change from time to time. Look at the list of rides that were available at the grand opening of Disneyland:

  • Autopia
  • Disneyland Railroad
  • Jungle Cruise
  • King Arthur Carrousel
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Main Street Cinema
  • Mark Twain Riverboat
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Snow White’s Scary Adventures
  • Storybook Land Canal Boats
  • Casey Jr. Circus Train*
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant*

*These two attractions were not quite ready at grand opening, but opened within a month.

Every single one of these rides is still in existence at Disneyland. If you had visited Disneyland in 1955, and again in 2015, you could ride these exact same rides just as you had 60 years before. But of course, there are also a large chunk of rides like my beloved Adventure Thru Inner Space that closed long ago. The real question is how do we look at change and Disney? Are we upset that Disney changes anything or are we excited for the future?

Maelstrom opened in Epcot during July, 1988, about a month after the Norway Pavilion opened. Maelstrom featured a boat ride through Norwegian history, including an encounter with trolls and a backwards ride over a waterfall. While definitely not an “E-Ticket” ride, it was pretty popular. I think most of it’s popularity was because at the time it was the only real ride in the World Showcase other than the Gran Fiesta Tour in Mexico (which isn’t much of a ride). In 2014, Disney announced that Maelstrom was set to close to be replaced by a Frozen themed attraction called “Frozen Ever After”. For my kids, Maelstrom was one of their favorite rides in all of Disney. My guess is that each trip we rode Maelstrom 10 – 15 times, maybe more. It was a sad day when I had to explain to my kids that Maelstrom was going away and we would not be able to ride it any more. In the next month, Frozen Ever After is scheduled to open along with a new Anna and Elsa Meet and Greet. From the description of the new ride, it sounds like the ride itself will be similar, but it will be Frozen rather than Norway. I am sure the Norway people are thrilled as this will now be the most popular area of Epcot. Sales of Norwegian sweaters and salty licorice are going to skyrocket. While I will miss Maelstrom, I am sure my kids will love Frozen Ever After, as will many, many other people.

The Disney parks are going to change as time goes on, and we want that! If Disneyland hadn’t closed down Adventure Thru Inner Space, we wouldn’t have Star Tours now. As much as I loved Adventures as a child, I have to admit that Star Tours is a much better ride. Disney messes up from time to time (I am looking at you Rocket Rods), but for the most part, closed attractions make way for much better attractions, which makes our Disney experiences just that much better.


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