The BLOGFlume—Let’s Go Crazy
Insanity, Disney World, and the Pixar debacle
Written by Russell Meyer
It doesn’t quite look as insane as its name would suggest, but Insanity, on top of the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas, Nevada has opened. The attraction, built by X-Scream designers, Interactive Rides, tests the fears of riders as it flings them over the side of the tallest structure west of the Mississippi. The video of the ride shows the operation of the attraction, and the views of the ground that look pretty terrifying. Ever since the tower was denied a rocketcoaster launching up the side of the tower by the city of Las Vegas, the hotel/casino has added two impressive attractions that prey on people’s natural fear of heights, and make the High Roller and Big Shot seem like simple playground rides. The only problem is that there is no more room on top of the tower to add anything else without dismantling a current attraction. It’s actually pretty amazing that they were able to get 4 complicated attractions on the top of a 1,000-foot tower, but how many different ways can there be to exploit acrophobia. I would definitely be willing to give Insanity a spin, but these rides on the top of the Stratosphere cannot keep their mystique forever. The Big Shot and High Roller are no longer hip because of X-Scream, and most people only rode the two original attractions because it made more sense to pay for all of the attractions and elevator ride. Can the attractions on top of the Stratosphere last, or will they slowly wither away with age and disinterest? Stratosphere may have added Insanity too soon after X-Scream. Interest was still high for the X-Scream experience, and a new attraction really wasn’t necessary to boost interest. I don’t think that Insanity really changes anyone’s plans for a Vegas vacation. While Insanity looks incredibly terrifying, in the end, it is just another carnival ride 1,000 feet off the ground.
Typhoon is Back
What once was one of the most innovative water parks in the world is just about done with a massive facelift. Typhoon Lagoon, Walt Disney World’s second water park after River Country, unveiled its newest attractions which includes Crush N’ Gusher, a water coaster much like the famous Master Blaster at the Schlitterbahn water parks in Texas. I still can’t stand that name, as it probably doesn’t translate very well in other languages, let alone English. Still, the slide itself looks like a lot of fun, and early reviews suggest that the slide complex will be a big hit at the water park that has recently fallen to second fiddle to the critically acclaimed Blizzard Beach.
Walt Disney World is also preparing for a series of attraction openings in conjunction with Disneyland’s 50th anniversary. EPCOT Center has reportedly begun testing and previews of Soarin’, located in The Land pavilion, and no, it doesn’t look like a new movie was shot to differentiate it from the original California Adventure attraction. However, there are rumors suggesting that a new movie may start production and be worked in after the 18 month Disneyland celebration. Disney/MGM Studios has also begun previews of the new Lights, Motors, Actions! Extreme Stunt Show, and it has been reported that guests have been able to get Fastpasses to watch technical rehearsals for the new stunt show. Both attractions are slated to open for full operations prior to the May 5, 2005 kickoff of the 50th Anniversary celebration. The one Walt Disney World attraction that is still under construction, Expedition Everest, is supposedly ahead of schedule, and recent photos of the massive mountain suggest that the innovative roller coaster is in its last year of construction. Animal Kingdom looks like it too will be joining the party before the celebration ends at the end of 2006.
Life Without Pixar
Clearly one of the most important tasks for Robert Iger when he takes over as the leader of the Mouse House is to try to improve relations with Pixar, and try to woo Steve Jobs back to the bargaining table. However, Disney is not making Iger’s job easy. By planning for a worse case scenario, and an uncertain future without Pixar, Disney has formed a computer animation division that will solely be responsible for making sequels out of Pixar movies starting with Toy Story. It appears that Disney is no longer interested in original ideas – instead they choose to piggyback on Pixar properties. What’s really dumb is that Disney is still required to pay royalties to Pixar on sequels that Pixar is not involved in, and they plan to set the budgets just under $100 million with one sequel planned per year. Not only does this division make the mending of fences nearly impossible for Iger, but it puts a lot of money into sequels of movies that could blow up in Disney’s face if the sequels cannot rekindle the same spirit, enthusiasm, and box office punch of the Pixar originals. While it behooves Pixar to make good with Disney, it has to really annoy every employee at the animation firm to think that all of their hard work is going to be shredded by this new Disney unit.
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