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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Disney's Splash Mountain Goes On A Western River Expedition With Brer Roadrunner

This vexes me.  I'm terribly vexed.  I need a mystery solved.

I recently found this very interesting concept art for Disney's Splash Mountain.  I happen to think this is the most interesting version of Splash Mountain that I've seen.  It's too bad it was never built.  It looks like the perfect match for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

At Walt Disney World in Florida, you'll find Splash Mountain in Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom, right next to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  Frontierland is based on the Wild (South) West.  The source material for Splash Mountain is Song of the South, a movie based in the South East of the United States.  How do you create a mountain for Song of the South in the middle of Frontierland?  Another logical question might be, "Why would you do that in the first place?"

In this case, it was a place where a water-based attraction had always been planned for Frontierland.  Instead of southern rabbits and foxes, it would have had some kick-a$$ cowboys, designed by legendary Disney artist Marc Davis.

The look of the Western Splash Mountain seems to take inspiration from The Western River Expedition, a cowboy version of Pirates of the Caribbean that was planned for Walt Disney World's Frontierland (where Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain currently exist).

The Western River Expedition is famous among Disney enthusiasts.  This attraction was teased for years in the 1970s, and even appeared on early maps of the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom.  How cool is that Pecos Bill type cowboy, by the way?

Instead of cowboys, the park got a copy of Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland.

Is this Western Splash Mountain artwork for real?

I decided to ask someone I know (a former Disney Imagineer who worked on Florida's Splash Mountain, which opened in 1992) about this mysterious version of the attraction.  The Imagineer had never seen this art before, but noted that it looked too much like the Southwest to fit a ride based on Brer Rabbit.

The most shocking thing mentioned is that Florida's Splash Mountain was considered early on to be part of Adventureland.  If that is true, it is totally F***ing Insane.

To make things even crazier, Walt Disney World's Splash Mountain features a character named Brer Roadrunner.

In case you wondered, there was not a character named Brer Roadrunner in Song of the South.  Because roadrunners do not live in the southeast.  But they can live in a cartoon southern mountain right next to a southwest mountain in a wild western town in a theme park in central Florida.  That's logical.

Brer Roadrunner is actually a copy of an animatronic roadrunner from the Western "Home on the Range" section of a show called America Sings that played at Disneyland in California from 1974 to 1988.  Most of the animal cast (who were designed by artist Marc Davis) became secondary characters in Disneyland's Splash Mountain in 1989.  Then many of the America Sings animal characters were duplicated for versions of Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland (both opened in 1992).

Note that the roadrunner's color was changed to blue when he was duplicated for Florida's Splash Mountain.  I am guessing that many people riding Splash Mountain think that Brer Roadrunner is Mr. Bluebird.  Then again, most people probably have no idea who Mr. Bluebird is, either.

It's kind of amazing that Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, Brer Bear and all their southern friends have not yet been evicted from Splash Mountain by a much more merchandise-friendly cowboy.

Could there ever be a Splash Mountain starring Woody, Bullseye, and Jessie?

Would Stinky Pete ever invade Frontierland and threaten Woody, Jessie and their desert animal friends?  Could the interior of the mountain contain just a handful of animatronic characters, and use digital mapping technology (seen in Hong Kong Disneyland's Mystic Manor and Tokyo Disneyland's Jungle Cruise) to bring sweeping Western vistas and critters to life?  Would a TNT explosion caused by Stinky Pete send the Splash Mountain logs down the final drop?

Could the Splash Mountain finale change from Zip A Dee Doo Dah to You've Got a Friend in Me?

Brer Rabbit is probably safe, but you have to wonder if someday we'll be hearing Woody and Jessie sing "Cool Clear Water" as part of a new Western River Expedition for Splash Mountain.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Kristoff And Sven's Reindeer Ranch At Disney's Animal Kingdom

Frozen has been such a hit that the characters from the film are making a home for themselves at Walt Disney World in Florida.  Anna and Elsa greet guests in Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom.  In 2016, the Frozen gang returns to Norway in Epcot with a ride and a revival of their famous 2013 World Showcase meeting location.  Frozen Summer Fun (complete with a parade, store, skating venue, sing-along-show and fireworks) hit Disney's Hollywood Studios in the summer of 2014 and took the park by (Winter) storm.

Why should Disney's Animal Kingdom be left out of the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of success the Frozen characters can bring?

I would like to suggest Kristoff and Sven's Reindeer Ranch at Disney's Animal Kingdom, replacing Rafiki's Planet Watch.  The new Sven attraction could feature live reindeer (of course) and a chance to meet Kristoff.

There's no doubt that the line to meet Kristoff could exceed the wait time for Expedition Everest.  You'd think Kristoff was Elvis the way people reacted to him at Frozen Summer Fun.

Kristoff and Sven's Reindeer Ranch would also need an indoor snow arena, where you could build a snowman or ice skate.  And an indoor merchandise location, too, of course!

Have you ever been to Disney's Animal Kingdom on a Summer Day?  A snow attraction at Animal Kingdom would be the most popular thing the park has ever had.

And it would be funny if Kristoff and Sven's Reindeer Ranch also had a flat ride starring Marshmallow the Snow Monster (as a nod to the Yeti from Expedition Everest).

Guests of Kristoff and Sven's Reindeer Ranch may purchase a package of Olaf Noses (carrots) as a snack or to feed to the reindeer.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Anime Olaf, Elsa and Anna: Disney's Frozen In Japan

Frozen has been a global smash hit for Disney, especially in Japan, where the film's title is Anna and the Snow Queen.  Japan knows how to make cool toys, and put a new twist on the movie's merchandise.

Let's be blunt, the merchandise in Japan (made by companies like Takara/Tomy) is insanely cute, especially for Olaf the Snowman.

This a snowman that is easy to hug.

Anime backpack Olaf has got your back!

Olaf will keep your drinks cold inside his boneless body.

Like Elsa, you can give life to Olaf (in puppet form).

This snowman won't give you frostbitten hands.

Anime Anna is just as friendly as her computer animated American counterpart.

Anna is eager to flee the palace and have fun with you.

When this Elsa grabs on to your keys or cell phone, she won't Let It Go.

Elsa is the warmest Ice Princess you'll ever meet.

Here is a very different Anime Elsa, on a stylish cloth bag.

This stunning artwork makes me wonder if we'll ever see a hand-drawn animated Japanese Snow Queen series from Disney (I really hope so!).  Hey, it happened for Lilo and Stitch!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Upset, Icy Waterbirds: An Angry Birds Parody

Sometimes my mind comes up with really unusual things, like this Penguin parody of the hit Angry Birds.  My nephew is (was?) obsessed with this very popular game.

Why not make fun of it with some ticked-off female penguins, and some inconsiderate walrus characters replacing the green pigs?

Angry Birds currently has their own take on Star Wars.  Maybe the PMS Penguins could do their own take on The Real Housewives franchise or Designing Women or The Golden Girls.