July 30, 2009

A Trip to Disney World? Maybe...Maybe Not

As the new school year approaches, it is the time I begin to think about travels for the following year. It is just the way things work when you are married to a teacher! So, what is on our horizon for 2010?

Speaking of Horizons, should it be Walt Disney World? Probably not. There's nothing really happening on or the front burner for our favorite Florida park, Epcot. I was underwhelmed by the recent remakes to both the Mexico and Canada showcases. The cartooning of the once beautiful El Rio del Tiempo and the silly humor of adding Martin Short to O Canada! continues a trend of removing the dignity of their national representation. Please- update the print of the gorgeous film in France, but leave the beautiful score and serious but romanticized presentation intact. No Gerard Depardieu comedy, please. And no Belle from Beauty and the Beast either.
Hmm, World Showcase is only half of Epcot, you say. And you'd be right, but it has become our favorite section of the park since Future World has seemed to lose its focus and its optimistic view of the future. I think we'll wait to see what comes next.

Disney Studios. Certainly, I changed my perspective of the park since our last visit. (See an earlier post.) American Idol won't bring me back. Neither will Toy Story Midway Mania, especially it can be found on the west coast. Love, love, love the original Tower of Terror, but I can still have fun on the stripped down, cheaper version at California Adventure.

What about Disney's original Florida park? The Magic Kingdom is still quite the place. Liberty Square is elegant, Tomorrowland is now stuffed with toons but a visual delight. Seen the refurbished Haunted Mansion, and I'll pass on the new Hall of Presidents for now. The presentation is not worth the sole purpose or expense of a trip. If the recently circulated plans for a brand new Fantasyland are true, I will return upon its completion. That is, as long as the other parks have new attractions to stage as well.

Lastly, there is Animal Kingdom. I will say this much: If it is true- and I doubt it is- Disney can win me back to the park by adding a version of Tokyo Disney Seas' impressive Mysterious Island. However, I have a strong feeling that Disney management is very content to let Expedition: Everest carry the park for a few more years. We'll see. All said, I guess this eliminates a Walt Disney World visit for a couple of years.

Maybe it will be the Disneyland Resort that brings us back. A trip to the original kingdom is still one of the most satisfying visits for a true Disney geek. Walt's touch seems to be everywhere. Detail is heaped upon detail. Sure, Tomorrowland is a mess, but hopefully that will soon change- starting with the overdue Star Tours 2.0. Unfortunately, there's not much coming here as the attention is being lavished on its slowly improving but still needy stepsister, California Adventure.

Speaking of Disneyland's younger sibling, I think I'll wait until 2011 or 2012 for a return visit. The Little Mermaid attraction will open, the bay will be refilled, and a beautiful new Buena Vista Street will be complete. If I wait for 2012, Radiator Springs Racers will open. This should be the premier attraction that will finally put DCA (or whatever its new name will be) on the map, finally moving the park out of its "clones only" status. I guess all this means no Disneyland Resort next year either.

On the other hand, I am a true Disney geek, and the lure of a Disney park visit is hard to resist. Be it Christmastime and the wonderful atmosphere or the charm of a cool summer evening ride on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, I am drawn in. Yet, money is tighter and will get even more so in the future.

What to do? No idea. Maybe I'll just sit tight for now until Imagineering builds something that is impossible for me to resist. Maybe I can... or maybe not.
(Photographs Copyright Mark Taft)

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