Friday, March 8, 2019

Cynical Trips: Conspiracy Theories & Avoiding the Plague

Welcome back to Cynical Disney!

Today I'm writing to celebrate and rejoice! As I'm sure you're all aware by now, Disney announced that Star Wars:Galaxy's Edge was to be opened at Hollywood Studios August 30th. We had originally planned to be in Orlando from August 31st-September 3rd. When the announcement was made, I began to have a panic attack.

The purpose of our trip was to go see the Florida vs. Miami game, being played at a neutral site at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. It was reported last week that the date of the game had been requested to be changed to August 24th. This also caused a mini-panic attack, because the structure of this trip was to have a day for me (the game) and a day for my wife (Food & Wine). Having that extra day to recover was an integral part of our travel plans. Plus as a teacher, vacation days are difficult to come by. Usually she has to contract a plague or someone has to die for her to get one.

At the time of reporting about the game date change, the report noted that ESPN was the entity that initially approached the schools and Camping World Stadium. It would make sense that they'd want to capitalize on having a marquee game essentially all to itself when fans are rabid for meaningful football.

However, now a conspiracy theory has come to mind. ESPN is majority owned by the Walt Disney Company. Disney doesn't just arbitrarily set opening dates on a whim, they do it months or years ahead of time and don't announce them until they know they can adhere to them. My conspiracy theory is that Disney looked at their hotel occupancy for their target opening date, saw it was rather full, and used the moving of the game to clear out rooms that had been booked at set prices to increase their room rates. Obviously this is puppetry of the highest order if this is the case. I have no evidence of this other than one of those cork boards with red string leading to the middle. Somehow, Russia and Donald Trump is involved...


This actually works out wonderful for me now that I've had a chance to digest everything. The game is the reason for the trip. Moving it a week earlier will screw a bunch of people's travel plans up, and with them not going, hopefully the ticket market won't be as ridiculous as it could've been. Also, with it not being a holiday weekend, the hotel prices weren't off the charts. We had originally planned to use rented DVC points but had not gone through that whole process yet. Instead, we've booked a room at The B Spa & Resort, located within walking distance to Disney Springs, and did so at a VERY reasonable price because they hadn't confirmed that the game was being changed when I booked it.


Also, this is probably the biggest thing, the idea of having all those people coming in for the game and throwing in the most anticipated theme park addition in years over a holiday weekend sounds like a nightmare. I don't love the idea of dealing with a bunch of dudes from Hialeah calling me words in Cuban slang in the first place, but being surrounded by them and the dorks banging plastic swords (and I don't mean against each other necessarily) just feels like a cynical explosion waiting to happen.


So, while I don't love that I had to adjust my travel plans as I prepare for the biggest project of my career that gets started Monday, I do love that I'm not a bomb being thrown into a fire. We may still end up going to Food & Wine if we can get the Anti-Cynic some acting lessons so she can convincingly fake an illness and the festival starts that week. We'll update that as we get closer.

The next update is still being polished up, but it's a comparison of movies to attractions. It should be released next week, so look forward to that! Until next time!

-The Disney Cynic
"I'm all beers!"

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Cynical Pitches: The American Dream Park

Welcome back to Cynical Disney!

Today I'm going to pitch a bold new theme park idea, one that will undoubtedly ruffle a few of Sam Eagle's feathers. I've espoused my libertarian political views on the site more and more as time has gone on. See my last post if any further proof is needed. Though I certainly can have contempt for the federal government no matter which party is running it, frequent readers of the site know that I love the United States of America with an un-ironic passion. I wish there were more freedoms recognized and protected, I wish there was less bickering among ourselves, and I wish that I didn't have to blindly ignore things like The Oscars so I didn't have to get lectured about the evils of commerce from a wealthy person who is literally famous for pretending.

Despite my lack of fulfillment on these wishes, I'd still rather be an American than a citizen of any other country. As a country, a culture and an idea, America has had a greater impact on the world than any other nation-state or empire. So it's with a patriotic spirit that I propose a whole theme park dedicated to this country & its people, our freedoms & failings, our food & drink, and our  geographic, natural & cultural diversity. Today I pitch The American Dream Park.


Premise: All four theme parks at Disney World, while full of Americana in their own way and with some attractions dedicated wholly to the country (like The Hall of Presidents or The American Adventure), are incapable to exploring the vast diversity of what it means to have civic pride. The American Dream showcase the specifics of this country in a way that would be impossible on any smaller scale. Different regions would become the different lands of this park, with states grouped together in a geographic and cultural way.

Location: I view The American Dream as a conceptual cousin to Epcot, and to me it would seem prudent to put it near Epcot. There's also a shit ton of unused and undeveloped land across the parking lot from Epcot, and with the notion of having 50+ pavilions, some with attractions, there needs to be as much or more land available as Epcot. This would seem to be the logical location from an infrastructure perspective too.


Park Details: I'm stealing from the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and American history to create a memorable entrance that will resonate with Americans and non-Americans alike. Depending on which part of the property you're coming from, you'll be directed to one of two parking areas with that are like the Disney Springs garages on steroids.There will be two entrances to access the park, one to the northeast that one must access by ferry where guests enter through a recreated Ellis Island, and a second to the south where guests enter through Texas. It's a clever way to address our cultural diversity and that we are a nation of immigrants. That said, you just scan your magic band rather than fill out a shit ton of paperwork or face deportation.

The design of the park will be an outline of the contiguous US. There will be six regions that the country will be divided into that include the following states:

  • North East: New York, New Jersey, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.
  • Atlantic Coast: Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, North Carolina
  • South East: South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas
  • Midwest: Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri
  • Mountain West: Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, and Nevada
  • Pacific: California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii
I think geographically and culturally that this is the best way to divvy up the country. You may disagree, and you're welcome to do so in the comments section. 

As previously stated, each state would have its own pavilion and its own version of an attraction. A volunteer committee (meaning its not paid for by any tax dollars) of state representatives will meet with Imagineering to discuss what aspects of their state they would like displayed at the pavilion. Because there's already dedicated attractions to the sum of American history at Magic Kingdom and Epcot, there's no reason to focus a whole lot on each states history. My goal with this is to be adaptive and able to evolve, not unlike how we're supposed to be as a nation. That said, there's no way each state could have a full blown attraction, so some of them will have to be relegated to having a cultural museum of some kind. 


Let's be real though, the biggest draw to any park is going to be its attractions. Not every state is going to be capable of putting up a thrill ride, so part of the committee of representatives jobs will be to discuss what type of attraction will be best suited for their state. States like Wyoming or the Dakotas would probably be best suited to display their natural beauty through film. Arizona would be a great candidate to have a water rafting ride "through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado river". Nevada could display its culture by having an arcade of sorts, touching on its gambling notoriety without actually playing blackjack or table games, and also advertising for Vegas.

Florida is a well represented state at Disney World, but because there's not really a display of American wildlife at Animal Kingdom, its pavilion can have natural attractions like a display of creatures found in the Everglades, with alligators, pythons, etc., all in an effort to reduce the introduction of invasive species. Roller Coasters can be reserved for states like Texas, which has the biggest state fair in America and a strong tie to the railroad industry. Pennsylvania or West Virginia could have a "Mine Shaft" attraction in the vein or Tower of Terror. There plenty of ways to represent a state that have not been made into an attraction before. There can also be regional attractions, where states that fall under the same umbrella could pool their ideas together into one big thrill ride. A miniature or forced perspective version of Washington DC monuments could be built. There are endless ways to showcase that which binds us in an entertaining way.

The greatest concern I have is repeating attractions like Thunder Mountain or The Hall of Presidents. That's why I'm not being ultra-specific about something like roller coasters. The point of creating a new theme park is to be different. While I certainly have pitched some thrill rides in the past, a park of this scale would require a lot more than one asshole on the internet to flesh out.

The next biggest draw to this park in particular would be the food and beverage options. There's no greater debate (aside from, you know, politics...) in this country than BBQ. It's the states time to shine, recommending local restaurant proprietors to pack up their recipes and move to Florida. Disney could even host an annual competition, pitting the states against each other with sauces rubs instead of barbs from congressmen. States like California could have a food truck area, Alaska could have a seafood restaurant, while others compete for the best steak at the park. Competition is key to the success of this country, and so too would it be key to the food offerings of this park. In both circumstances, the consumers win.

The night would end at the park with a fireworks display that would make the one Trump wants look like a bottle rocket. Hosted by Sam Eagle, the fireworks display would allow him to finally showcase the tribute to America he's always wanted to do. Other Muppets would get involved and hijinks would ensue, but it's Sam's show. There would be enough red, white and blue fireworks and projections to scare the communism out of a Soviet.

This is obviously a generic overview of what a park like this could be. My goal in not focusing exclusively on history, but instead on certain cultural aspects like food or nature, would be to offer a version of the country that the cable news networks don't ordinarily cover or broadcast. It's a way to be playfully divisive without beating us all over the head like political candidates. Walt was very big on displaying an idealistic version of America. No more is this spirit evident in the parks which bear his name, and one needn't go further than Main Street USA to see it. With this nation becoming ever more divided as we progress and latch on to identity politics, I'd like to see a unifying force of some kind become available for us. If you don't like it, go to North Korea.

Let me know what you think of this idea in the comments section, and if you have any specific attractions too. As far as 5th parks go, I have yet to see anything like this bandied about as a concept. Hopefully this is more original than the Dark Kingdom idea that I pitched a year ago. Our next update will come sometime next week. I'm looking at doing another review, but some Listicles have also been rattling around in my head. Either way, keep up with us on Facebook and Twitter so you're the first to know when a new update is posted. Until next time!


-The Disney Cynic
"I'm all beers!"

Monday, February 25, 2019

Cynical Musings: Oscars, Grouches, Playgrounds and Libertarians

Welcome back to Cynical Disney!

Too much crazy shit has been going on for me to not express my thoughts on them. No, I'm not talking about the New Green Deal or Jussie Smollett (though I will point out he learned how to fake it while filming The Mighty Ducks), I'm referring to all of the actual Disney related news of late. Let's muse about the news, shall we?

Disney and Fox win lots of Oscars, but a grouch steals the show

After spending $70-ish billion purchasing Fox Studios from the Murdoch's, Disney was able to enjoy a good amount of success at the host-less Academy Awards last night. Marvel's soon-to-be juggernaut Black Panther won three Oscars, and Bohemian Rhapsody won four statues for its home studio, including Best Actor in Rami Malek. Disney did get shut out in its usual category of animation, with Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse winning, but even then Disney can tout it a little since they own Spiderman in general (just not this film). The story of the night as told by Drudge Report was that Spike Lee tried to walk out of the show in disgust after losing to Green Book, telling reporters afterwards he's lost both times when up against a driving movie. Look, I don't exactly have the melanin count to criticize Spike, but I completely understand being a sore loser. That said, if you're a noted Knicks fan like he is, you should be pretty used to losing by now.

Real Life Ron Swanson Exists in Michigan

Genesee County (MI) Clerk-Register and new personal hero of mine John Gleason decided to protest a needless use of government funds to send three of its officials on a "Culture Club" trip. If you haven't clicked on the link and are wondering what the hell this has to do with Disney, the real life Ron Swanson held a press conference where he and what I assume is Tammy Three dressed up in shitty Mickey and Minnie costumes to protest the fact that the trip was to the Disney Institute. As a libertarian Disney fan, I love this story on so many levels, but the thing I've latched onto for this site is that I didn't know the Disney Institute still existed. I remember it being a place where you could be taught how to cook like Wolfgang Puck or draw like an animator, but for the life of me I can't remember Local Governance being a subject covered. I get why you'd want to copy the culture that Disney is known for (even though they don't adhere to it themselves these days), but there's been multiple articles and books written on the subject. You can pick one up on Amazon for as low as $11.99 if you have the Kindle app on your phone. $26,000 to send three people on a glorified vacation is excessive, especially when it's taxpayer money. Keep up the fight not-Ron!


The Wonders of Life Pavilion is Coming Back...sort of...

Per an announcement on the Disney Parks Blog (and via our friends at NotClub33.com), the Wonders of Life pavilion in Epcot's Future World is finally going to be used for something other than an indoor festival space! Two of my Cynical Pitches can now be thrown out the window, but I'm glad they're using the pavilion as an attraction instead of shade. Details are obviously pretty scarce at the moment, but it will essentially an indoor interactive playground where guests can meet characters and ostensibly design a city. I do find it somewhat ironic that they seem to be promoting health and outdoor play with video games in an indoor pavilion, but I'm just glad Disney is investing in Future World again. Nothing against Soarin' or Test Track, but the updates to those attractions aren't necessarily my favorites (specifically Soarin'). This is the second domino to fall in what is clearly Future World 3.0, after Universe of Energy closed and a Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster was announced. With the Innoventions pavilion still being used as an air conditioned break room and rumors ever rumbling about Imagination, we're likely to see a few more announcements in the near future.

Disney Farms Light, Can Be Nuclear Power Before Iran

Despite no longer having an aptly named pavilion, Disney World still has a universe of energy options available to them. There's two stories linked in the headline, so be sure to check both out. First, Disney has opened a 270 acre solar farm to the west of the Palm & Magnolia Golf Courses that is expected to collect enough energy annually to operate two theme parks. I'm not opposed to this, because it's in the company's best interest to create their own electrical grid, but I'm not sold that this will power two whole theme parks. I'm also dubious that this is a long term solution since Florida, despite the moniker of the Sunshine State, is prone to multiple hurricanes and the central part of the state being known for its pop-up thunderstorms. Solar panels work in the rain, don't get me wrong, but they don't work if they're struck by lightning or blown a mile away by a Category 2 hurricane.

Along the same lines, there's apparently a law in the state of Florida that granted Disney the right to construct their own Nuclear power plant. This was passed as part of 1967 legislation that Disney negotiated as part of the creation of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, and now the Florida legislature wants to try to take this option away from them as a tactic to force Disney to negotiate with their firefighters union. I hate it when the religious right forces their version of morality on others, but I hate it even more when the progressive left forces the government, and therefore its morality, on businesses. The fact that the headline is about nuclear power and not that they want to take away Disney's right to self-govern is a problem. Disney was never going to build a nuclear power plant; its too expensive and the...ahem...fallout...would be too much for the company to handle from a PR perspective. It would also scare the shit out of some of their customers, to the point where they'd stop coming to the parks.

This is why you have to read the whole article. Aside from using Orange County law enforcement resources, which is probably for the best, Disney is self-reliant and proof positive that you don't need to be reliant upon the state. The fact that they're also self serving is inconsequential as far as I'm concerned. You have the option of not being an employee or a customer if their business-fueled government tactics go against your sensibilities. To me Disney is a municipal success story, and the irony is not lost on me that I'm against government employees going to the Disney Institute on the taxpayer dime. I've never encountered a pothole while driving on property, and that alone is proof that business and capitalism is more efficient and effective than any governing body.


Sorry for the Libertarian tangent I just went on, but it had to be done.

Thank you all again for going to check out my controversial take on Star Wars at Disney last week! It's been fun seeing some of the reaction, and I hope to cause more controversy and debate in the near future. The next post I'm working on is a new Cynical Pitch. I haven't put up any new ideas in a while, and I've had a couple of idea percolating in my noggin for a while. Should we have another news filled week like last week, I may publish another Musings before the Pitch. Until next time!

-The Disney Cynic
"I'm all beers!"