Lance’s Armchair Imagineer #8 ‘Adventureland’
#8 Bound For Adventure 09/01/13
Hello Bold Explorer! Welcome to this Adventureland Installment of Lance’s Armchair Imagineer.
The Adventureland area of the Park has some great attractions and a lot of atmosphere, so let’s not waste any more time, our safari awaits.
Overall, this land is meant to give the parkgoers a taste of foreign and ‘exotic’ lands…all spoken in English and without the dysentery.
Your Humble Blogger is a complete wimp when it comes to visiting….um, less-developed nations. So, the Disney versions are fine by me…EPCOT especially.
When the park starts getting crowded, Adventureland has a serious log jam between The Hub and New Orleans Square. especially around the Treehouse, Indy, and Pirates. I tend to avoid that route when it’s packed.
Working our way from the Hub side, over the wooden bridge, (take a look, the decor is pretty cool), the first Attraction on your left is…
THE ENCHANTED TIKI ROOM: This venerable and remarkably intact attraction is Walt’s very first in-Park use of Audio-animatronics. It’s a Classic and I’m so glad they haven’t messed with it.
It’s always easy to get into and a good place to relax for a few minutes (Like Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln in that regard). What I like most is that it feels very much in voice, music, design and tone like the Disney entertainment I know and love from my childhood. I hope they never change it.
That being said…. temporary Holiday Overlays might be fun! There have been some other versions of this show at other parks. One with Stitch and another starring Zabu and Iago ‘Under New Management’. I saw the latter. It was fun. I wouldn’t object to a rotating schedule of variations as long as the Classic version dominated the year.
I also really enjoy the courtyard pre-show and those yummy Dole whips! Some tips: The Dole Whip line is shorter from within the courtyard. Also, did you know that there’s a ‘secret’ public 1-person bathroom? It’s up the stairs to the left of the main entrance. Built when they were planning the show as a restaurant experience. That idea was abandoned early on, but the bathroom remains.
Speaking of bathrooms, there’s a very convenient one just a little past The Tiki Room. We make a left here and you’ll see Aladdin’s Oasis on your left. I confess that I’ve never been here. I think it’s a children’s storytelling Attraction. Have to check it out at least once, I suppose. For Completion’s sake, if nothing else.
Make a right and the body of Adventureland stretches before you. When they added the Indy ride, this whole area got a serious makeover and it looks great. The stores are interesting with a lot of great details (which really goes for every retail place in the Park). On your left is a Classic Opening Day Attraction:
THE JUNGLE CRUISE: I love this attraction. It’s a difference experience by day or night, and especially fun if you have a great skipper with a batch of fresh jokes. I went on a rainy night once and the skipper was exceptional. Best Cruise ever. This is an Attraction they have tweaked over the decades, but the experience remains basically the same, thankfully. I always live in dread of the day they decide to PC it up.
The Florida incarnation has a great beat where you cruise briefly within some temple ruins. That would be cool here.
An amazing thing is how isolated this Attraction feels. At the end, you’re just one wall away from Main Street U.S.A. but you’d never know it. The Tiki Room and Jungle Cruise sum up Walt’s Adventureland and I’ll always love them for that.
Grab a skewer at the Bengal Barbeque (a great treat) and we’ll look at the last pair of Adventureland Features…
THE TARZAN TREEHOUSE: Formerly the Swiss Family Treehouse. Yes, I get that Tarzan is a more recent, familiar, and relevant film for your average parkgoer. Doesn’t mean I don’t prefer the original. I definitely miss the kinetic waterwheel, settings, and Polka music (which must have driven the area Castmembers crazy after a while). That bamboo plumbing system was an amazing feature of the tree and Tarzan or not, I don’t get why it had to go.
(Original Attraction Poster)
Those hard, fiberglass figures are a bit off-putting too. Bring on the Audio-Animatronics. You’d have to encase the figures to isolate them from the elements, but that would be an innovative move. ‘Outdoor, up in a tree, Animatronic figures modeled after animation-styled characters.’ That would be a gutsy thing to attempt. True, the Jungle Cruise figures are outside, but you don’t get too close to them. The Treehouse would demand a higher level of detail and realism.
Once in a while, I’ll take a stroll through the tree, but it’s hardly a Must-do since the reworking. Lastly, we finish with the headliner of Adventureland:
INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF THE FORBIDDEN EYE: This is a detailed and sophisticated attraction with a great deal of craft and Imagineering in the excecution. I like it a lot, but I also have some serious Notes.
First, the good stuff… The Queue for this line is nothing short of breathtaking. Vast, greatly detailed, filled with all sorts of interesting touches and story. It sets the Standard for this sort of thing (along with Roger Rabbit). I love the dual ideas of an ancient temple overlayed with an arceological dig from the 30’s. The ancient temple has many traps, some of which have been triggered, some have been neutralized. Of course, I LOVE the hallway with the lowering spikes…especially if no one’s triggered it and I get to give the guests a thrill by doing so! I can’t praise this queue enough. It is a masterpiece.
The ride vehicle itself is an engineering marvel. A moving platform zipping along a track. Brilliant. It really simulates a wild vehicle journey….especially with the added sound and music blasting from the vehicle. This vehicle was also adapted with great sucess in Florida’s Dinosaur ride in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
There are also a few incredible slight-of-hand tricks with the track itself. The multiple-choice opening and the boulder scene use some very tricky methods to fool you. Clever Imagineering.
Overall, the attraction is detailed, designed well and provides a thrilling experience. I’m really glad my mom had the chance to ride it a few times because she loved it. Some have criticized the Attraction for intruding a non-Disney film property into the Disney park. I understand this, but the details and time period of this property fit pretty seamlessly into Adventureland. Let’s say much, Much better than Star Wars does in Tomorrowland. This ride is a Must-Do.
This Attraction Poster is painted by legendary Movie Poster artist Drew Struzan, the artist responsible for most of the Indy movie 1-sheets. Smart of Disney to get him to do it. This one, I have on my wall.
Okay, here’s what I don’t like as much. There is a lot of cheesyness to elements of this ride, particularly the big foam snake (make it look real or don’t bother) and the painted blow gun corridor. Why aren’t these audio-animatronic figures (ala Jungle Cruise) or sculpted stone relief detail like every other wall in the entire attraction? The Day-Glow Blacklight painting is incredibly cheap and tacky compared to everything else in the ride (even that snake). No excuse for it in a modern Disney Park. And why is the maintenence door (?) always open at the end of the blowgun corridor? It can’t be part of the design, but it can’t be accidental every time I’ve gone on that ride since it opened. If the painted corridor doesn’t ruin the illusion, that certainly does!
The main room is very well crafted for the most part (sorry, fake snake), but I feel you keep figure-eighting through the same space. I think some of the sub-areas, (the snake room, behind the giant Mara Face, etc.) should be visually isolated and expanded from the main room. Also, is there a way to simulate being on a failing, swaying bridge? That’s a missing thrill. Challenging to engineer, but if anyone can do it, it’s those guys.
Below is a Blue Sky Imagineering concept illustration from Brian Jowers. See how it portrays that main room as a huge open space working on several levels. The Train and Jungle Cruise routes pass into and through this room (The Cruise looks like it could go near the edge of a waterfall!). There’s also an Indy Mine Car ride and mining ‘Skyway-type attraction integrated into the whole thing. This would have been glorious. Once you see this painting, you’ll never be entirely satisfied with what they did.
Overall, I think the attraction is under-manned with characters. There are three very nice Indy Audio-Animatronic figures, but I think the place could be populated with all sorts of interesting, colorful characters and creatures. Compared to Pirates or Mansion, this A-List Headliner is woefully unambitious in this area. The ride isn’t equal to the perfection of the queue.
I do appreciate that this Attraction has its own unique story and isn’t dependent on any of the films and it is still a Must-Do….but if they ever get the urge to pump it up, I think that’s a great idea. As would be a thorough Halloween Overlay.
Well, I think that wraps up Adventureland for now. It’s definitely an integral area of Disneyland and we can all be grateful so much of Walt and opening day still thrives here.
Of course, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this Land of Adventure.
Thanks for Reading and Imagining!
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