Looking Back…Looking Forward

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By Dave of Mouseextra.com

Do you consider yourself a Disney World purist? Do you long for the days when you can walk without waiting onto Horizons? Do you shed a small tear every time you think about Mr. Toad? Do you occasionally have dreams about standing in an hour long line in the blazing heat waiting to board the subs of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea…and being happy about it? If so, times may be somewhat difficult for you now and in the foreseeable future.

For the purist, the Magic Kingdom is sacred ground. They can handle changes to the Animal Kingdom and the Studios with little to no problem. It is more difficult to handle changes to Epcot, since Walt Disney himself once uttered the word.  But saying “Epcot” is about where the similarity between Walt’s dream for Epcot and what opened in October of 1982 ends.  But the Magic Kingdom is something completely different.  For many, the Magic Kingdom is Walt Disney World.  It is the first place they came as a child, and the last park they go to before flying home.  Looking over their shoulders at Cinderella’s Castle while taking the monorail heading home brings a tear to the eye of many purists.  Now the Magic Kingdom is in the middle of perhaps its most significant change in its history.  It’s this change that has Disney World’s most addicted fans constantly debating.

Take a look at what has already happened.  The beloved Toad and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea are both history.  Stitch has invaded Tomorrowland, as well as Buzz Lightyear and Monsters Inc., both Pixar characters which many purists consider non-Disney to begin with.  The Haunted Mansion is not what it used to be.  Disney officials planted a spitting camel in the middle of Adventureland, and even the sacred Pirates of the Caribbean has been a victim of the dreaded “synergy”.  But that’s just the tip of this giant iceberg heading our way. If rumors are to be believed, nearly everything at the Magic Kingdom is being considered for a change or update.  Tomorrowland’s controversial re-making is not nearly complete.  Reports say Space Mountain is about to undergo a re-haul, and it could be extensive enough to make it seem like an entirely new experience.  A new e-ticket may finally spell the end to the historical Carousel of Progress, and there also is the possibility that the Speedway will finally get an update, and many are assuming the movie “Cars” will feature prominently.  Can the purist handle even more Pixar?

But things are not only happening at Tomorrowland.  Adventureland has been the source of many rumors.  There is always the possibility of a re-themed Swiss Family Treehouse, perhaps not unlike the Tarzan one over at Disneyland.  We have also heard the Imagineers may be adding characters in the Jungle Cruise, or at the very least updating it for an upcoming film inspired by the ride.    There is also some talk about a more sweeping Pirates invasion in this corner of the Kingdom.  Either way, WDI has set its sights on Adventureland. And that just covers two of the lands.  Fantasyland, Liberty Square and all the rest have older attractions Imagineering may dismantle to make room for a new ride with new characters or interactive experiences.  Pooh’s Playful Spot, to the delight of many, is rumored to be on the chopping block. 

If you look back over the past few years, there always seems to be something changing at the Magic Kingdom, and each change ushers in a flood of criticism and debate.  This trend is not ending anytime soon.  Before long, there will be little left at the Magic Kingdom that looked the same as it did when many people my age made their first visit.  We got hooked as children to what we saw inside those magic walls, but can we handle the change?  When all is said and done, will we still have the love for it we did all those years ago? Personally, I welcome new experiences.  Nostalgia is never something I attach to a theme park attraction.  I am a devoted fan to Imagineering, and get excited when I get to see something new.  Yes, sometimes a great classic is lost as the expense of something less than wonderful.  But more often I find myself happy to see something new and fun.  But I understand the point of view of the purist, even if I rarely agree with it.  Whether we can handle the change or not, it’s coming.

About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]