Sunday, July 2, 2017

Day 1644: Change is Hard


Since Disney made more than one announcement concerning the future of more than one Disney Parks attraction the other day, the internet has been buzzing with controversy. As a Disney Blogger and YouTuber, among other things, it can sometimes be difficult to stay quiet when there's such continuous conversation abut the future of the parks - about what's right and what's wrong and what Walt would or wouldn't have wanted. But if I've learned anything in almost five years of blogging, it's that you should probably stay quiet until you've had enough time to truly come to a conclusion about how you feel, and then you should probably reexamine that feeling more than a few times over. For some, this might only take a few minutes, but I prefer to take a bit more time to sort out my thoughts, and I think I finally have.

We'll start with the first announcement, concerning the attractions currently sponsored by Siemens: Spaceship Earth, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, and it's a small world. So many seemed shocked by this development, but for me, it was just a few weeks ago that I scoffed at an article that suggested the company would obviously renew their sponsorship with Disney. It hasn't been a question in my mind for almost a year actually; Siemens wasn't going to renew and I was prepared for it.

Given the track record of sponsored attractions in the Disney Parks, the fact that these attractions have kept sponsors on board as long as they have is sort of astonishing. It wasn't until January of 2016 when I stood in the Test Track Chevrolet Lounge gazing out at the Universe of Energy that I truly realized just how important sponsors are for these attractions. There I was, standing tall and pretty in a brilliantly decorated and designed lounge at Test Track when just across the courtyard was Ellen's Energy Adventure, an attraction I've come to love and adore over the years, slowly decaying. The cast member who brought us up to the lounge caught me looking at it and began to explain the sad story of how, because it has no sponsor, the Universe of Energy is only maintained to the point where it can continuing running. They'd make those minor repairs, just enough to keep it going, but it quickly became obvious that not everything at Walt Disney World is meant to stay the same, and sometimes for more reasons than one.

Does that mean I'm terrified for the future of not only my favorite attraction, but also my favorite nighttime show? Of course. I'm always terrified for an attraction that loses a sponsor, because I've seen what they've done to attractions in the past, Maelstrom at the forefront of that list. It's not a matter of Frozen Ever After being bad, because it's not. It's more about the fact that, at some point, every single one of these attractions becomes a part of the staple, normal Disney experience. We welcome new attractions into the Disney Parks family, and we say goodbye to them too, and even after all this time, I still feel for those that have lost their favorite attraction. Sometimes I even fear of it happening to me too.

Which brings us to the second announcement from Disney Parks and Resorts: the changes to the Auction scene in Pirates of the Caribbean. To say I wasn't shocked about this announcement, unlike the sponsorship from Siemens, would be a lie. I couldn't have predicted this one in a million years, and for me, it seemed so out of the blue that I initially found myself angry. How could they take out such an iconic scene and completely change it? It seemed unnecessary, regardless of the fact that I completely and 100% agree with the reasoning for changing it.

It frustrated me, then, that I was so upset about something that I knew I shouldn't be upset about. I watched as Twitter exploded with arguments on both sides of the discussion, some calling it a necessary change, praising Disney for finally working its way out of the gutters of sex slavery and human trafficking, and others petitioning to put a stop to the changes altogether. It felt odd, to sit on the sidelines and watch as so many argued about the fate of an attraction that, for the most part, will stay the same when the fate of my own favorite attractions hangs in the balance.

So I stayed quiet, until I happened across a tweet that made a reference to the future of IllumiNations. What will happen when they likely announce the replacement for my favorite nighttime show at the D23 Expo later this month? Am I not supposed to be sad? Am I supposed to walk around praising Disney for getting rid of something that literally means the world to me simply because others can do without it and it's in need of a change anyway? Am I supposed to ignore those feelings simply because what follows IllumiNations might be better or more politically correct or in tune with the world we live in today?

Simply, the answer is no, and that's what's important here. It's ok to be sad about change, even the changes coming to Pirates of the Caribbean. Yes, Walt always intended for the parks to be continuously changing, but sometimes change comes with a forced hand, oftentimes after the departure of a long-time sponsor or a change in the social climate. Yes, it's incredible that Disney has waited until now to update the Auction scene in Pirates of the Caribbean when it should have been done years ago. And yes, perhaps if you're arguing that there's nothing wrong with the scene itself, you might want to reexamine your views.

But because these attractions, whether it be experiences as a whole or specific scenes, become a part of our Disney experience, we grow attached to them. There's something special about sailing on Pirates of the Caribbean and hearing "We wants the Redhead!" because it's something we've done for a very long time. I know it was incredibly difficult for me when they removed the smoke and distinct smell of the burning of Rome on Spaceship Earth, and while that was a much smaller change than what's coming to Pirates, it still affected me. It affected a lot of us, just as these new changes will.

And as hard as it might seem, it is time to move ahead. I'm incredibly excited about the New Auction scene in Pirates of the Caribbean, because it's obvious that Disney has already put a lot of time and thought into creating a better message while preserving some of the history and nostalgia from the attraction we grew up with. If that's what we're truly getting and that's how Disney is going to move ahead with whatever is coming next, whether it be for Pirates or Spaceship Earth, IllumiNations or the Universe of Energy, what else could we ask for?

Have a magical day!