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it's a changed world (continued)

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.

Former Carvel ice cream cake decorator
Hong Kong Disneyland publicity shot

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.

Secret democrat
"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.

The chores! The stores!

Ian Parkinson was kind enough to provide these photos of the Paris ride's American section.

Cars Land!

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 Disneyland fans.


Buh-bye Sponsors

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.

No meat pies

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.

Bad music performed regularly

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.

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2008 Al Lutz

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