Good-bye Tom Sawyer? Will Disney abandon book lovers for 'Pirates 2.0'?
Al Lutz today dropped the bomb
that Disney's considering dropping the Tom Sawyer
theme from the the Rivers of America island in favor of making the Disneyland playground yet another Pirates of the Caribbean
First, let me make clear that we're talking about my two favorite attractions here. And not just Disneyland attractions. These are my two favorite attractions on the face of the Earth. (Universal fans, flame away!) I worked both attractions in Florida, studied Twain extensively in college and read my daughter "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" when she was five.
Not some abridged kiddie version. The real thing. Which she loved, by the way. (We'll back to that in a moment.)
Lutz lays out the rationale for the switch, which he reports is not yet a done deal. The island's play areas can't compete with more modern playgrounds. The bathrooms are terrible, there's no place to eat, and the fort's in such lousy shape that Disney shuttered it.
And, most damning, kids today have little idea who Tom Sawyer is.
Again, I love Pirates of the Caribbean. The Disneyland version is the greatest dark ride ever built. The movie's a gas. But expanding the "Pirates" theme into every attraction on the Magic Kingdom's west side reminds me of what Disney did to "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" a few years back. That should have taught Disney not to dupe a great thing to the point where everyone grows sick of it.
But as much as I love Pirates, it is entertainment, not art. In Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain created the most compelling, debated and beloved characters in all of American culture. If today's kids do not know of them, why, that's a pretty damning indictment of the rest of us, as parents, educators and artists. That Disney's failed these characters, and their story, by allowing Tom Sawyer's Island to fall into decay does not speak to an inherent lack of appeal in the characters, but to a lack of foresight by Disney.
Not every corner of a theme park must be devoted to the hottest flavor from the cineplex. Great theme parks find a place to appeal to the kids, and parents, who find their inspiration from books, not just movies and video games. That's why I, and my kids, adore Seuss Landing at Universal's Islands of Adventure. And the Fairy Tale Brook at Legoland. And Tom Sawyer's Island.
Yeah, I'm a freak. We don't have cable or satellite TV in our home. And my kids are not allowed to watch any TV or DVDs on a school night. (Looks like that was a good call, BTW.) So my kids read a look of books, and don't much care about the newest characters on Nick or the Disney channel. They love Tom Sawyer. And "Treasure Island." And Heidi. And Dr. Seuss.
If Disney wants to reinvigorate Disneyland by purging it of literary influences in favor of pop culture, well, that's Disney's right. But I hope someone else in theme park industry remembers that there are families out there who find joy and inspiration in the pages of great books. Even in elementary school. And that they make an effort to build a great new, interactive and imaginative attraction for them.
Because if Disney closes TSI, this family likely won't be visiting Disneyland as often anymore.
Well we know what you love in Disneyland!
As a parent I commend you for the no TV on school night, Robert. Reading is something that a lot of kids dont get enough of.
If they do make some Pirates 2.0, they should at least keep some of the TSI, for nostalgic purposes, and for the kids to still run around on. Keep everyone happy. TSI will still have some life left, and P2.0 will shed some life. Now, the likelyhood of this is probably rare. The only problem I have is that ever since that one girl hurt herself on TSI, I remember hearing you were not allowed to climb on the stuff and run around like kids used too. All she got(from what I understand) was a sprained arm. Honestly, I'm sure the kid made a full recovery.
I agree with Robert 100% TSI has always sparked my imagination. I remember the thrill of trying to find my way out of the caves when I was a kid. We used to play hide and go seek there, and I had my sister convinced Injun Joe would get her if she didn't watch out.As a teenager it became the place to go to grab a quick toke.As an adult, I take my kids there, and watch as they experience the same magic I did. I can't believe Disney would consider taking it out. A better solution, and probably cheaper is to renovate the area, maybe put a place to eat and a store in the fort area, add some new bridges and cave areas, etc. I can't believe that parents would allow their children to miss out on the wonders of the classics, have we become that shallow as a society?I hope not.
A point well made and which gets my support; culture and heritage merit being cherished.
i love the park they could have both the pirates and tom sawyer
I agree that kids today don't know a thing about Tom & Huck. But it don't 'mount to a hill a beans if'n they're havin' fun runnin' and climbin', cause while the youngins are doin' what they do best, us old folks need a place to sit a spell and rock under a clear blue Disney sky.
Terri, your comment made me smile. :D
"Disney shouldn't even consider a second pirates attraction in their parks and I'll tell you why: the PotC rehab has been a success."
Nemo anyone?? It's overdone. It's everywhere. PERMANENT structures of Finding Nemo are taking over the parks. There is no need to have ANY movie/characters (with the exception being Mickey & gang) take over more than one attraction. I think that the IDEA of a Pirate island could be a lot of fun but I say, don't do it. resist!
Closing TSI for a version of Pirates would break my heart.Why do they think they need TSI to compete with anything else.Why spend millions on a newer version of Pirates.Fix up the fort(how did it fall into such disrepair in the first place?)Upgrade the restrooms and not every section of Disneyland needs a restaurant.TSI is a good place to relax and wander around and escape the crowds and take time to enjoy the area.File this with the bad decision and idea of closing the Submerine Ride because it took to many people to run it and wasnt cost effective and replacing it with a Little Nemo Submerine Ride, Same ride different theme .It really makes me wonder sometimes if Disney management ever really learns from there mistakes?
It was summed up. "there's no place to eat" Tells me that they are either losing money on this section of the park, or they are not making enough. If they go to revamp it, a lot of disneyphiles would more than likely say "why would they update it? Why not just replace it?" So in that rationale, why update it? Why replace it with the same thing? It doesnt make sense, in that form of thinking,to simpy replace it with something old and out of the minds of everyone. Make it something popular!
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