it's a changed world
The concept of adding Disney characters to it's a small world was first
introduced as a way to make the attraction more interesting to contemporary
Chinese audiences at the Hong Kong Disneyland version of the boat ride that
opens later this year. A cartoonish version of Peter Pan will fly around Big Ben
in the United Kingdom scene, Lilo and Stitch will surf through the Polynesian
scene, Simba will take up residence with the rest of the wildlife in the African
room, etc. After that concept was approved for Hong Kong and the Disney figures
created to sit alongside the traditional dolls and animals, attention has now
turned to the original version of the ride in Anaheim.
Hong Kong Disneyland publicity
Even though it's a small
world has remained one of Disneyland's most popular attractions for decades, and
still pulls in over 2,000 riders per hour on busy days, Imagineering has
received Ed Grier's blessing to "plus up" the old attraction by adding Disney
Characters throughout the original 1964 show scenes. It should be interesting to
see how Disneyland's PR department spins that one, especially when the Disney
purists catch wind of it.
Another big change, but perhaps less controversial, is
now planned for the Rain Forest scene that used to inhabit the curving flume
between the Polynesian room and the Grand Finale' room. That eclectic collection
of furry animals in shimmying plastic rain showers and a small quartet of masked
musicians and dancers representing Papua New Guinea are now set to be replaced
by an entirely new scene representing the good old United States of America.
"A salute to all the countries
of the world, but mostly America."
- Sam the Eagle, MuppetVision 3-D
While the only reference to America in the World's Fair original, and the
subsequent Disneyland version of the ride, came in the finale' with the cowboy
and Indian on display near the can-can girls, the Disneyland Paris version of
the attraction does have a section celebrating America with corn fields and
skyscrapers and American dolls. The new Disneyland version of this scene is
planned to be bigger and cover both sides of the flume.
Parkinson was kind enough to provide these photos of the Paris
ride's American section.
Snazzier decorations are
also coming to the "Hello Room" and "Goodbye Room" at the beginning and end of
the ride where your boat travels under the Disneyland Railroad tracks. But it
will likely be the addition of Disney cartoon characters and the new American
room that should have riders talking the most, especially the hardcore
While bigger tourists may be to blame for the stuck
boats at it's a small world, they won't be able to blame the McDonalds fries for
sale at Disneyland much longer. Word from TDA is that some big changes are
coming to several key sponsorship deals around the parks, and likely the first
to depart will be McDonalds. In Anaheim, McDonalds sponsors two French Fry
stands on the west side of Disneyland, plus the standalone Burger Invasion
restaurant that offers an abbreviated McDonalds menu.
There were big plans for
the McDonalds relationship when it was hatched back in the late 1990's with Paul Pressler at the helm, with multi-restaurant proposals drafted for every Disney
park in America. But changing styles and tastes (along with a decline in the
success of Disney's animated features) haven't been kind to the
agreement that never quite got past Phase One, and the limited McDonalds
offerings inside the parks could disappear later this year. I don't think
they'll be missed.
Also on thin ice is the long and storied association
Disneyland has had with Carnation Ice Cream. Available in Disneyland right from
the beginning, Carnation has had its name on restaurants and ice cream parlors
at Disneyland for over 50 years now. But instead of being a standalone dairy
company as it was in the 1950's, after it was bought out in 1984 Carnation is
now simply a lesser brand name belonging to the multinational Nestle' company.
Nestle' also has a presence throughout Disneyland with several of its other
brands that just happened to already have a 40 or 50 year relationship with
Disneyland, like Stouffers that was acquired by Nestle' in 1973, or Purina pet
foods that was acquired by Nestle' in 2002.
But now the Nestle' contract as a
whole is on the rocks, after meeting up with legal headaches regarding some of
the beverages it sells that compete directly with Coca-Cola's expanding reach
into coffee and beverages besides soft drinks. As it stands now, Coca-Cola wants
to have a sponsorship presence at Disneyland and other Disney parks more
desperately than Nestle' does, and as push comes to shove with the lawyers it
looks like it is Nestle' and its family of different brands who will likely
leave the park.
Just so long as Coca-Cola makes it financially lucrative,
Disneyland may even be removing decades old signage around the park like that
found at Carnation Plaza Gardens, the sight of a long gone snack bar that served
up its last milkshake a decade ago.