What is the Lost Legacy?
In order to express what the lost legacy is.....I have chosen to give you samples
of chapter one of the book I am currently working on to accompany the website.
...................I loved the Mission to Mars very much, but even
I had to admit that the Alien Encounter was a vastly superior ride in every
way. But, somehow it wasn't Disney, or at least it wasn't Tomorrowland.
Tomorrowland was about travelling to the future, which was supposed to have
hope and prosperity attached to it. The future Disney was presenting here
was not the happy "1996" future Walt Disney presented when he opened
Tomorrowland in his original Disneyland theme park. But, alas, times were
changing and so does Disney World. I mean, lets face it. Disney is a
company like any other, and they had a right to change their park around if
it meant a better bottom line overall. Besides that, everyone loves what's
called "E-ticket" rides. Disney fans know exactly what I'm talking about.
You see, way before my time, back when the Disney parks were first opened (at
least the US ones, and not the franchised overseas versions) admission to the
park was free, but to get on the rides you used to buy ticket books, which
ranged from A to E. The most coveted rides were the E-Ticket rides, like
Space Mountain, while A ticket nobody cared about much. I can't remember
exactly how the Mission to Mars (or Flight to the Moon, as it was originally
called) was classified. Perhaps originally it was an E-Ticket ride (or at
least a high D-Ticket ride), but as time passed it came closer to the bottom
of the barrel. (Yeah that's right baby! You know those attractions, like the
Hall of Presidents.)
Well, needless to say, the fact that Mission to Mars was gone bothered
me somewhat. I mean, Disney didn't need to close the ride down. It could
have been refurbished. The addition of some neat computer graphics would
have boosted its attendance rate, and Disney could have built a building
for the Alien Encounter in their large plot of land beyond Space Mountain.
(Come to think of it, where is there not a large plot of land surrounding
Disney World. Residents of the area are only slightly right in referring
to Disney as the Vatican, since Disney World is still roughly a hundred times
the size of Vatican City. You just have to question what Disney is doing
with all that land. But, I digress.....)
Now, where was I.......ah yes. So, the fact that Disney closed
down the Mission to Mars really bothered me. I mean, I had been basically
raised on yearly visits to Disney World. It was a narcotic to me, and I
despised whenever they made changes. (Allright, so the removal of Captain
Eo wasn't that bad of a choice. But, then again, that movie was a mistake
to begin with.) It was almost like Disney was taking away part of my
childhood, the part I would have most liked to passed on to my children.
It is absolutely true when they say that you feel like a child whenever you
visit Disney World. I mean, first of all the fact that they never let you
forget where you are, why you are there, and the fact that under no
circumstances are you allowed not to have fun on Disney Property causes you
to at least fake the fact that you're enjoying yourself when you're there.
(It almost seems as though they have a group of police that come out if you're
not having fun, and they take you away to the fun jail where Mickey comes
to enterain you until it will be impossible to remove the grin from your face
without major medication. Mental Note, so that the Editor won't tell me later
"Stop Digressing") Well, the second reason you feel like a child when you're
at Disney World is because you can't help but become one with the innocence
you once felt as a child. That's what makes Disney World. Disney World is
just a collection of cold heartless buildings. Its the people that create
the magic. I feel that nothing captures the magic more than the advertisement
on TV, that shows a little boy's face with his mouth wide opened for about
thrity seconds. The camera then pans back to his parents, and shows the
castle in the background, as they say to him, "This is just the entrance,
honey." I actually think that ad will inspire more senior citizens to visit
Disney World rather than younger people, since it shows exactly how you
can recapture the magic of childhood by watching the children that are down
Actually, if I may take a moment to illustrate this fact, a story
has just come back to memory as I talk about this. I'll always remember
on my last trip to the Magic Kingdom, they had just replaced Magic Journeys
with Legend of the Lion King (actually, that building has an entire history
in and of itself, but that is a story for a later date). Needless to say,
this was the first time ever for my family to see this show (we saw it two or
three times during that trip). The preshow was excellent. It featured
Rafiki coming out and setting up the show we were going to see on the inside,
but what was impressive was that it was an actor on stage, and the show on
the inside would also be done by performers, acting either on stage, or
through puppets. Once being seated inside the theater, the show began with
the "Circle of Life" song. I could tell that the little boy behind my family
was very excited about where he was. And as Rafiki lifted up the lion cub
Simba to be presented to the masses of jungle animals below, with the song
reaching its high point, the little boy said, "Look Mommy, they're real!"
A tear welled in my eye, as I realized that Disney had done it once again.
They had brought the magic to another little child, and made me feel like a
kid again. This very un-"E-ticket" like attraction had done it for that
young boy, and through him had managed to impact me......................
..........It made me remember our first day down to Disney, on our first trip,
back when I was three or four years old. Ok, so I only had a faint memory
of the trip, and my mother filled me in on the rest. But, needless to say,
my parents took my sister and I to Lake Buena Vista. The flight had brough
us in late in the afternoon, and my parents wanted to get the tickets, and
just have a little relaxation time. So, there my sister and I were in the
middle of the most fabulous two story playgrond set ever. I mean, this was
Disney World. Forget anything they were telling me about how much better
tomorrow would be. This thing was wild. It was constructed of wood, with
a step to get up to the second floor, which had a little place to look out
at your parents below, and a sliding board. And this was a neat sliding
board. (Hey, I was three. What do you expect? Back then, I got my kicks
out of driving my tricycle to the other end of the driveway.) Talk about
wild, I mean nothing could beat looking down from the second story of
the neatest playground like structure, and seeing your parents below.
And my parents kept saying, "this is nothing like Mickey's Playground" and
"Wait until you see Mickey's Playground." I thought nothing could be
as good as that play structure, sliding down at mad rampant speeds,
and not having a care in the world. It was a kids fantasy come true. But,
nothing could prepare me though for what I was going to experience the next
day. It was like someone had taken my wildest fantasy world, and made it even
more magical and crazy. I mean, this park was like nothing I had ever experienced
before. And to tell you the truth, for me it all became very real, as it
did for that little boy that afternoon sitting in the Legend of the Lion King.
In retrospect, I'm glad that I was having those thoughts. You
see, for the longest time I was planning "The Land that Never Was," a webpage
inspired by a Disney News article of the same name...........................
[As I thought more about the project] I discovered that I had much more of a story to tell.
I had a story behind the story. What was driving me to love looking at this
unbuilt stuff so much? Well, it was because I disliked change so very much,
and by looking at these plans I could study how the park could have changed.
And, it made great points of discussion whenever my friends would discuss a
recent trip to Disney World. Let me give you an example:
Friend: I just got back from Disney World.
Me: Oh really, did you enjoy it!
Friend: Oh yes! I especially love the Pirates of the Caribbean!
Me: Oh really. Did you know that that wasn't the ride they were originally
planning on putting in that building?
Friend: Really, that's interesting.
Me: Oh yeah. It was supposed to originally be with more of a western theme.
The name that floated around for the longest time was Thunder Mesa...
Friend: How interesting.
Me: ...and the Imagineers felt such a demand from park guests that they
felt that they needed to build the Pirates......Where are you going?
Friend: I have to get to class
Me: But its after school........wait........I haven't told you about the
building layout........I HAVE BLUEPRINTS OF THE ORIGINAL PLANS
Ok, so maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit (I don't have the blueprints...
yet!) But, needless to say, the information I had required a special
audience. An audience of Disney-phile people was needed to respect the
information I had gathered. The internet provided the perfect audience
to do so. Let's face it, when you have websites sprouting up in appreciation
of a particular cast member who by all intents and purposes is a person the
rest of the world would say "Who?" to when hearing his name, I could certainly
find a small audience to appreciate my website. (The cast member I am
referencing here is a guy named Maynard, who worked the Jungle Cruise for
a few years at Disneyland. People were so crazy about this guy that they
would go to the park just to see him.......and people think I'm obsessed
with Disney. Christ himself had less of a following than Maynard does. Ok,
so maybe that is a little bit blasphemous. But then again, you have to think
that the first time around, Jesus came as the son of a carpenter....follow
me for a second people. Why couldn't he come back the second time around
as, say, a boat operator at the Jungle Cruise. I mean, you need a little
bit of divine help to get through the jokes they tell on there, so I'm sure
that those telling them need even more divine help to tell them in the first
place. Plus, we all must remember that lost chapter from Revelation, "And
so did "trader Sam" stand, trying to let you get a-head. He has a special
deal for you all today, three heads for just one of yours." I better stop
with this stuff. The black rainclouds forming over my house right now
are not a good sign.).........................So I decided to write [my stories]
as though I was talking to my child, my son or daughter, and I was telling
them of this lost childhood that I once had, but now is gone. This kind of
thing happens all the time. Grandparents talk about the glory days of Coney
Island, or in particular in my area of Philadelphia, the old Willow Grove
Park. The site where that amusement park sat is now a mall, but in its center
court they have the old merry-go-round animals (since they used different
animals rather than different horses), and my mom told me of how she used to
visit that park, in particular to visit their Wild Mouse rollercoaster. That
was an experience she had that she would never be able to experience with
me. So, in order to make this webpage work, I had to write it as if I were
telling my kids how my favorite ride when I was a kid was Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
and how Disney removed that ride due to poor attendance and replaced
it with a Pooh ride. But, even more than that, I'd have to tell them about
why it was my favorite ride, and why I was so sad to see it close. I'd have
to let them in on a secret. I'd have to let them in on the legacy I was
hoping to pass on to my kids, of the childhood I had experienced. The joy
I felt as I sang along with Figment and Dreamfinder in Journey Into
Imagination, "One Little Spark, Of Inspiration, Becomes the Heart, Of All
Creation, Right At The Start of Everything that's New, One Little Spark,
Lights Up for You." The website began, indeed, on that afternoon with
one little spark...one little spark that would soon spread like wildfire
across the net. This was the legacy I held, the legacy I wanted to pass
on............................the lost legacy.
Indeed this was Forgotten Disney: The Lost Legacy. It was perfect.
I couldn't fail, as long as I kept to the theme of the title. I had a story
to tell, and the website would be the perfect place to tell it. This book
is the product of that story. Two years and thirty thousand visitors later,
the website is one of the top Disney sites overall, and has retained
somewhat of a cult status, even though as time goes on it continues to become
more and more mainstream. It has been a rocky two years for the website.
Initially it started off as somewhat of an underground site, hosted on my
personal page space on Netcom. Netcom was good with supporting the site
for those first few months, when I would get, at most, twenty or thirty
visitors a day. I too was satisfied, as the low visitor count allowed me to
respond personally to each e-mail, and get to know many of my readers personally.
That all changed in October of 1997, when Forgotten Disney won its first
award, a small award from a now defunct site. That paved the way, thought,
for the site to be mentioned in an online magazine, and from there, to real
life in the pages of Yahoo! Internet Life, in March 1998. By September 1998,
the site had changed its appearence and overall layout twice, as I realized
more and more how to get my point across. First, I'd tell the people about
the designs that never made it off the drawing board in a section called
Unbuilt Dreams. Next, I'd allow them to reminisce, or to find out, about
the attractions that existed, but were removed, in Forgotten Worlds. I
drew it all together with a page called Disney Reborn, where I gave commentary
about whatever I felt like talking about that involved Disney. It allowed
my readers to look inside my head, and see how I think, and why I think the
way that I do. By November of 1998, Forgotten Disney had grown so much that
Netcom informed me that they would no longer be able to support the page, and
that they have not seen transfer rates like mine except for Business Pages,
or Internet Pornography Pages. I took that as a high complement, although
my being booted from Netcom left FDTLL without a home for a week. The page
was saved by John Yaglenski, webmaster of Intercot, who graciously offered
to help me out in this my greatest time of need. Today, Forgotten Disney
remains one of the top Disney sites on the internet, and is rated number one
by Excite in their Disney folklore and history category. But more than just
having this page, I now have made many close friends on the net, who share
my views about the current state of Disney.
You see, most of my visitors agree that the modern Disney company
is too concerned with their bottom line. They do not care how much the
changes they make will effect what the parks "are" anymore. They just care
how many more people a year a certain attraction will draw rather than
another. Some readers tell me about how much of a struggle is currently
going on between the imagineers and the "suits" at Disney, and to tell you
the truth, I can believe it. For the longest time, Disney quietly closed
rides replaced them, and reopened them hoping that nobody would notice.
And for the longest time, strangely, nobody did. But, then, along came
Forgotten Disney and websites like it. Strangely enough, these sites had
readers. Even stranger, these readers had opinions, and weren't afraid to
share them. Many of these sites remained underground, since it was not felt
that they were run by true fans of Disney. That has always bothered me,
because I can disagree with company policy and still love the company, and
what it has done thus far. Trust me when I say that Disney's list of good
things they have done for both youthful and mature people is much longer
than any list of bad, and I continue to rate Disney World as the number one
vacation spot in the world. So, the voices, the outcry's over attraction
closures, removals, and destruction grew louder and louder. It is only now
that Disney is beginning to note the ramifications of what they have been
doing. While they did not waver in the slightest about the closure of Journey
Into Imagination and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, they have shown some concern over
the closure of Horizons, and rumors continue to fly around that, whereas
replacement once seemed the only choice for the ride, renovation, upgrade,
and modernization of the ride is now another choice being considered by the
company. Also, Disney's choice to issue past park music at their in-park
Kiosk's, where you can make your own CD's, shows even further how the company
realizes that people often miss old attractions that the company allowed to
fall victim to their policy of closure and replacement. But, obviously, while
the company might recognize a little more the effect sites like Forgotten Disney
is having on the view readers of these pages have about Disney World, they
continue to remain unchanging in their policies..........................
.........The point behind that is that: First, you can't have all E-ticket
rides.................................................You need some
less than E-ticket rides to keep people interested and because overall
no matter what, if your company has a track record for releasing good family
entertainment, you will continue to be capable of releasing quality
entertainment. Second, replacing your staple [rides...such as Mr. Toad's]
with different rides or characters is not only impossible, its stupid.
If you have a good thing going, you keep going with it. If it needs some work
(I.e, a boost in the arm like Horizons could use), then you work on it.
But, you don't just pick up and replace it. Third, if you do decide to try,
just make sure that you're ready to accept the fact that people don't take change
very well. Disney learned this fact the hard way, when they tried to push off
Light Magic as vastly superior to the favored Electric Parade in Disneyland.
Thus, they found that they needed to rethink their original plans, and return
to something like what they originally had................................
.....................Disney faces its greatest challenge right now, that of
remaining original and unique in a marketplace that is rapidly catching up
to the Disney style. Many other theme park companies have taken their cue
from Disney and stylized their parks to give much more of a Disney-like
experience (like the Busch Corporation, Universal Studios, and Premier Parks.)
The real question is, is Disney following the right path as they trudge from
Theme Park dinosuar to once again top of their game in every single field,
or are we wrong in considering Disney a Theme Park dinosuar to begin with?
My friends, this [website] is about the park my readers and I find
ourselves drawn together to think about and discuss together. But, while
it may seem like its about the buildings and what has happened to them,
I promise you that that is not my intent at all. It want to talk about
people, and the response I see when they find out about Disney's plans for
the future, and what they have already done. I've heard a lot more from
people who take their kids down to Disney World, and get set to ride Mr.
Toad's Wild Ride, and are shocked to find that its not there anymore, having
been replace by a coming soon marquee for the new Pooh ride. While many say,
and I agree that a Pooh ride is needed in Disney, it is in no way a valid
replacement for Toad. When you contrast these stories to the magic I will
discuss in the pages coming up, you begin to realize how very much the focus
of the Disney company has changed, and how in many ways they have lost the
dream Walt Disney once had. Once when talking about Disneyland, Walt Disney
said "Disneyland will never be complete." He never said anything about
replacing Disneyland though with newer, modern, and flashier attractions.
The same is true for Disney World. What would Walt think about his Florida
dreams, his dreams for Epcot, and the future of the company he loved
so very much. I'd like to think that Walt would very much so agree with us,
and he'd be very good friends with many of my readers.
So gather around kids, grab your mouse ears, and get ready for
a journey down memory lane, into a time long forgotten back when you were
an innocent child. Back when your greatest worry was how to tie your
shoe lace, and whether or not you would be capable of getting along
with everyone at school. It is this childhood I believe that Disney World
once was capable of returning us to, and how with each change a little more
of its ability to take us on that magical trip is taken away. This is not
just my story about what Disney World means to me, it is our story about
the legacy that we will not have to pass on to our children, at least
if the Walt Disney Company continues down their current paths. Therefore,
I say welcome, my friends, to your lost childhood.
Welcome to Forgotten Disney: The Lost Legacy.