February 2, 2015

Disney Theme Park Disasters: Chester and Hester's Dinorama

Of course, like most of Americans who watched last night's Super Bowl, I'm still surprised by the turn of events. Have a great Monday!

Consider this new look at Disney Theme Park Disasters as the counterpoint to my earlier post (and series) "When Reality is Better Than Imagineering Art". I'm among the many cheerleaders of Disney Imagineering (and the decisions of the Suits) when something spectacular is built at the parks. Or, as in the case of Tokyo Disney Sea, when an entire park turns out to be full of substance and incredible eye candy. Be it old school (Disneyland's New Orleans Square) or new (California Adventure's Cars Land and Hong Kong Disneyland's Mystic Point) or something in between (Animal Kingdom's new Africa expansion), park fans like myself love to discuss all the detailed beauty we find and praise all who do a great job to make it happen.

The opposite is also true. I'll complain loud and clear to anyone who asks when I see Disney take the shorter and cheaper route, giving well paying guests a less than excellent product. I don't care what the project is, who the Imagineers are, or what park it is in. We've seen California Adventure at opening, Walt Disney Studios in Paris, and a number of cheap additions designed to fill a void and pad that huge paycheck of Bob Iger's and the investors in the Company. I have no doubt, that those will be the subject of future posts.

Let's take a look now at some of the worst of the worst...

Top of my list in Florida? Chester and Hester's Dinorama in Disney's beautiful and woefully (for now) under built Animal Kingdom

Relatively attractive art cannot hide the cheap look of the end result.

This area is not only a black eye on an otherwise stunning park, it is an example of everything wrong with the Florida parks under the budgeteer business mindset of the Walt Disney World leadership- prior to the stupendous success of Universal Studios' Harry Potter expansion, when they immediately realized they were content playing second fiddle to their competition. 

Be it under Michael Eisner or Robert Iger, there is no excuse for this mess of an expansion or others that similarly fall short of excellence. (Trust me, there's many other places where the Company we love has sold its fans short!)

Triceratop Spin and Primeval Whirl are the main "attractions" here, along with an assortment of carnival games to extract even more cash from a crowd that has already paid too much money to enter the park gates. Certainly this area was a quick addition to address the complaint of not enough attractions, but the overall "theme" and execution is horrible at best. Spinners should fill out a terrific menu of attractions, not replace them.

There was one good thing to be found at Chester and Hester's Dinorama. Although I never saw him, it was the temporary home of Lucky the Dinosaur, a free roaming animatronic that walked the area. He was last seen at Hong Kong Disneyland when that park was a shadow of what it is now and prior to that was found at a struggling California Adventure

As proof of how unimpressed I was with the area, I searched photos from my last two trips to the World (2007 and 2009), and I found only a handful of photos. Of course, it's now 2015, and there's not another trip to Walt Disney World in sight. But that is another story altogether. Perhaps after Pandora. Perhaps, no guarantee.

Yes, "the World" is a beautiful place and worth our time. But in this mini-land at Animal Kingdom, I say not here, not ever. Chester's and Hester's is at best a temporary project but should become extinct as soon as possible... but we know how the Mouse views "temporary", don't we?

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company. Photos copyright Mark Taft.)

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