By Jayship Earth
Walt Disney World is constantly evolving. Nearly every week you’ll hear of a renovated restaurant, a new after-hours experience or an upgraded attraction. This is one of reasons why many of us can keep returning year after year. But often these additions also mean the replacement of sometimes classic pieces of our vacation memories. Generally I’m fine with updates. Often the existing attraction, space or experience is feeling dated, and I completely understand the need for a change. I loved the old Test Track, but I see the value in and quite enjoy the updated version. However, there are a select few things that no matter how much time has pasted or how much I even enjoy the replacement, I simply can’t get over and still miss to this day.
Spectromagic – I don’t think I gave Spectromagic the proper respect it deserved until it was gone. I now realize it was my favorite Disney parade. When it was announced a few years ago that the classic Main Street Electrical Parade was returning for a limited time, I was excited with nostalgia to see the first parade I ever saw in Disney World again. But after seeing it once and absorbing all its retro charm, I felt once was enough and longed for Spectromagic’s return. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like that will ever happen. Gone are the brilliantly illuminated floats, a parade that featured Roger Rabbit and what is arguably one of my favorite soundtracks to any Disney attraction. I even liked the creepy doll-faced trumpeters. The look, sounds and overall theme were so strong, and to me represented the quintessential Disney parade experience.
Resort/ Attraction specific Merchandise– One of my favorite things about visiting Walt Disney World in the 90’s was discovering merchandise that was unique to different resort and attraction gift shops. I loved finding items such as ones that featured B’rer Rabbit, items only found in Adventureland, or refillable mugs with artwork from Caribbean Beach Resort. I am a fan of the parks and loved finding items that could only be found in the various lands and areas of each park. I appreciated a Journey Into Imagination photo frame more than the generic “Fab Five” ones. But around the 2000’s, you began to see the same merchandise in every gift shop on property. There was no need to buy a particular magnet or photo album because they were literally everywhere. In fact, lots of items simply said “Disney Parks”, so they could be sold in any park worldwide. This has actually gotten better in the last few years, with more attraction specific merchandise appearing in their respective gift shops, and I hope to see it keep going in that direction.
Spaceship Earth narration– One of my all-time favorite attractions is Spaceship Earth. And like most people, the first narrator you hear as a kid usually remains the definitive one in your mind. For me it was Jeremy Irons. The dramatic gravitas that he imbued in his reading gave the attraction such an epic feel. The importance of these historically events reverberated in his deep, British tones, and the soundtrack completed the package, but that all went away in the last renovation. The current Dame Judy Dench narration is fine, but definitely lacks that extra magic. I still love the attraction, but it definitely is missing something.
The Adventurer’s Club– I had heard bits and pieces about the Adventure’s Club for years, but never fully understood the entire concept and didn’t bother seeing it, mainly because I was under 21. But one trip my wife and I made a point to check it out, and I immediately understood the fanatical enthusiasm guests had for the establishment. If you never got a chance to see it, The Adventurer’s Club was a multi-level bar that was themed to an early 20th century hunting club, where explorers, socialites and other crazy characters hung out. Improv actors portrayed various period-specific characters that populated the club and interacted with guests. “Scenes” would take place in various rooms throughout the night, telling stories about jungle expeditions, reciting the club oath and hunting for the elusive Balderdash Cup. Guests were encouraged to participate and become part of the show, and could come and go throughout the night and experience different scenes. The bar served specialty drinks and the space was amazingly well-themed. The show was never the same, as different stories were performed on different nights and the actors even switched rolls. I actually only saw the Adventurer’s Club once, but it left a strong impression on me, as well as on its die hard fans that vocally opposed it’s demise a few years ago. Sadly, the space is now rubble, as we await the long gestating Downtown Disney renovation to come to fruition. There was nothing like the Adventurer’s Club in all of Walt Disney World, and I feel that kind of entertainment could still draw new fans, even if it was revived in some new incarnation.
What do you still miss at Walt Disney World? Be sure to comment on this post or on the Facebook place about the things that sadly are but mere memories at the happiest place on Earth.