The BLOGFlume—Frozen Over

Homage to Disneyland in Washington, "The Feud" ends, and Kennywood grows.

Written by Russell Meyer
Published: July 10, 2005 at 4:39 PM

Mickey Goes to Washington

As I had reported about a month ago, Michael Eisner presented the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History with some memorabilia from Disneyland in honor of its 50th Anniversary. Much to my surprise, the exhibit is actually not a huge Disneyland advertisement, and despite its rather prominent location in the museum, it’s actually smaller than I would have expected. The two main focal points of the exhibit are an elephant from the Dumbo attraction and teacup from the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party attraction. There is also a display case with a few Disneyland trinkets including: a souvenir book, scrapbook, serving tray, and a guide map. The display is nothing to go out of your way for, but is appropriate for the museum’s pop culture collection. I’m not sure how long the exhibit will continue to be on display, but there is word that the entire American History museum could be closing for up to two years to complete renovations. It had actually been quite a few years since I was in this museum, and it’s a real mess right now with exhibits all over the museum’s three massive floors. The Smithsonian is currently trying to decide whether renovations should be done while keeping the museum open, which would take significantly more time and money, or close the museum to complete the renovations faster and cheaper. At least for the time being, though, there’s a little piece of Disneyland in Washington, D.C. right now.

A Dumbo ride vehicle donated to the Smithsonian Institution

A Teacup ride vehicle donated to the Smithsonian Institution

A Disneyland serving tray

Disneyland memorabilia

The End of the World is Near 7/8/05

In Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, the human race comes incredibly close to extinction, and if my eyes aren’t deceiving me, we may be coming close. Roy E. Disney’s website has issued a statement that unofficially ends the feud between the Disney/Gold and the Walt Disney Company. On the surface, the reasoning behind this statement is clear – there was a pay-off. In exchange for ending the fight, Roy E. Disney will be named “Director Emeritus and consultant,” and Disney and Gold will acknowledge Michael Eisner’s contribution to the Walt Disney Company. Disney/Gold have agreed to drop all lawsuits against the Walt Disney Company, and will also refrain from running a rival board, while the company will agree to follow established company policy to rotate board members on a regular basis. This sounds like the fairy tale ending that no one ever thought was possible, and I’m not really sure where this came from, unless Roy was wondering whether he was ever going to get his invitation to the Disneyland 50th Anniversary Party next week. While I can sense a little grumbling from both sides in the statement (Disney has to be begrudgingly recognizing Eisner’s achievements as Disney’s CEO, and the company is definitely stretching to give Disney an official title in the Walt Disney Company), to finally have an end to this bitter feud could not come at a better time. The big question left is how long this “truce” will last. I know one thing for sure; Disney stock is going up big tomorrow morning.

Pittburgh Post-Gazette 7/6/05

Yet another seemingly impossible development has occurred in western Pennsylvania. Kennywood Entertainment Company has purchased land adjacent to the theme park contingent upon the completion of a highway. The park is possibly one of the tightest parks in the country in terms of available space, and every square foot of extra space the park can find is as valuable as gold. Because of space limitations, the park has upgraded more attractions than it has built from scratch over the past five years. As it stands right now, Kennywood would have to remove a number or smaller attractions or one of its signature coasters in order to add a more modern roller coaster. Kennywood has not said how they intend to use the additional space if the terms of purchase are met, but some options may include a hotel or parking garage. The latter would allow the park to use all or part of the existing parking lot for park expansion. Immediate expansion plans are not evident, but this potential purchase could be quite beneficial for one of the best “old fashioned” theme parks in the world.

Readers' Opinions

From TH Creative on July 11, 2005 at 3:57 AM
So Roy "Fredo" Disney caved, eh? Funny how he made the decision without first polling all those registered members at

This was never about the company, nor the quality about its product. Rather it was about Fredo feuding with Michael Eisner. Fredo felt like his influence was dissipating and so he had a hissy fit. Now that he realizes that his long shot lawsuit over the appointment of Robert Iger is his last chance to return to the company, he gladly accepts the honorary title (bone) being tossed to him.

Certainly there are those who believe the quality of the Disney product has decreased significantly. But as long as Roy is happy, why should we care?

From Robert OGrosky on July 11, 2005 at 7:01 PM
While i agree that tghe American History Museum does need some updating it would be moronic at best to close the whole museum for 2 yrs to do so.
They should be able to make changes while the majorirty of it is open so as not to make things bad for the people who visit it.
From Russell Meyer on July 11, 2005 at 8:17 PM
It's not that they cannot renovate the museum while they keep it open, Natural History has been almost completely renovated wing by wing over the past 10 years. The problem is that it would take 5 times as long and almost twice as much money as it would to close the museum and do all of the upgrades at once. If you haven't been in recently, the museum is a mess, and doing it piece-meal will not do the museum any favors with long-standing exhibits having to move all over the place, or into storage.
From Melinda Webster on July 12, 2005 at 7:26 AM
I just got back from DC and was suprised at what a mess the American History Museum was. I do admit it would be a shame to have to close it, but we closed the Washington Monument for upgrades and people delt with it. I would rather it not be an option for two years versus the next 10 seeing it in the state it is in now.
From Robert OGrosky on July 12, 2005 at 11:15 AM
Its easy to say close it for those who have been there, but what about those who would want to see it and the one time they come to DC, they find it closed.
This museum should be updated in a slow/deliberate manner, even if it costs more so thiis museum can be experiened by as many people as possible.
Its one thing when you are changing the mechanics of a attraction like the Washington Monument than updating a building .
From Russell Meyer on July 12, 2005 at 12:00 PM
A lot of the ugrades do involve re-engineering the building. The entire basement has to be re-designed. The museum also has very antiquated climate control and security systems that were only meant to be "patches" until a full redevelopment plan could be put into effect. A number of the redesign proposals call for completely changing the building's layout, which would leave almost half of the museum a construction zone anyway. The Smithsonian has already closed one of their museums, The National Portrait Gallery, for renovation. That place in a hot part of town, right next to the MCI Center, has been closed for almost 2 and a half years, and is not slated to re-open until July 2006. Also, the Smithsonian does not have the kind of funds necessary to keep the museum open while performing such a major renovation. For those who don't know, all of the Smithsonian museums are FREE. The museums survive solely on donations and sponsorships unlike other major museums around the world. Living in DC all my life it was quite a shock the first time I went to a museum in another city and was asked to pony up to go through the turnstyle. The Smithsonian is a privilage that everyone should take advantage of at some point of their life, and if they need to close a museum for a year or two to make it better for everyone, then so be it. It's not costing us anything!

If you look at Washington DC like a theme park, it would be really unfortunate for a major attraction like this museum closed, but there are many many many more places to visit that can easily fill a week's time (Natural History, National Galery of Art, Air and Space, Hirshorn Sculpture Museum, National Museum of the Native Americans, Holocaust Museum, Corcoran Art Gallery, Spy Museum, White House, Capitol, WWII, Vietnam, Korea, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument (looks awesome with the new lighting BTW), FDR, etc...), and that's just the basics or a DC vacation. What do you think people who planned trips to New Jersey will do when they find out Kingda Ka is closed, or the people (like me) who have ventured to Disneyland over the past two years wanting to ride Space Mountain? They'll ride the park's other coasters and rides instead. It is disappointing that the museum is in the condition that it is, and a complete redesign is the best way to fix the problem. American History, unlike many other museums, gets new artifacts daily. The museum struggles to keep up with the times. An exhibit that was just redesigned a few years ago to document the history of the computer is already out of date and closed. As the Smithsonian loves to boast, if you spend 10 seconds looking at every single artifact they have on display, you would spend a lifetime in their museums. There are other places the tourists can go, and I'm sure the Smithsonian will set up tempoary exhibitions in the Castle or the Building Museum to keep the public's appetite whetted. I even heard a crazy rumor that they would rent space in the Reagan Building (just across the street from American History) for the first lady's gowns exhibit.

It will be very sad to see the museum closed, if they do choose that route, but the museum will re-emerge a more organized, more technologically advanced, and all-around better museum for everyone.

From Robert OGrosky on July 13, 2005 at 11:22 AM
There is no comparsion to a single roller coaster being closed down and a entire musuem being shut down for years!!!!!!!!!
The only true comparsion would be to close down the entire MK park at wdw for several years.
What they should do is get the moneyed people in USA to cough up money for a new museum and when that one is built then shut down the curent one for rehab, then have 2 museums yo showcase outr country as they have more than enough money to do so. This would be much more useful than live8!!
They just recently opened up a new Air/Space Museum with donated money so they could showcase more the the items they have, so if they work hard and show some vision it can be done.
But closing the entire museum for years is a AWFUL idea
From Robert Niles on July 13, 2005 at 2:24 PM
Yes, but if they close it all for a long while, we will finally have a scenario for that yet-another "National Lampoon's Vacation" sequel we've all been longing for: Clark takes his great-grandkids to Washington, only to take a guard hostage when he discovers the museum closed... hijinks follow!

(Note: this message drips with sarcasm. I promise my enduring scorn upon any Hollywood producer who even thinks about making such a flick.)

From Russell Meyer on July 13, 2005 at 2:48 PM
Expect release forms from Warner Brothers in a week or two.