Theme Park Insider Contest: Write an attraction backstory
Last week, Disney announced a new backstory for its Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
rides. According to the "new" legend (is such a thing even possible? I guess so…), the mountain's gold mine is the property of Barnabas T. Bullion
"The longtime mining magnate comes from a powerful East Coast family and considers gold to be his very birthright by virtue of his oddly appropriate name; in fact, he considers the ultimate gold strike to be his destiny. And that is why he is having so much trouble with Big Thunder Mountain. According to superstitious locals, Big Thunder Mountain is very protective of the gold it holds within, and the unfortunate soul who attempts to mine its riches is destined to fail. And so far that prophecy is coming to pass. The mine has been plagued by mysterious forces and natural disasters ever since."
Devoted theme park fans might notice that ol' Barnabas looks a lot like Disney Imagineer Tony Baxter. The new backstory will provide material for the interactive queue that Disney's installing at the Magic Kingdom in Florida. Perhaps the portrait's also a good-bye tribute to Baxter, who's said to be nearing retirement.
All this gets me thinking - I wonder what other theme park attractions (Disney or not) could use a fresh backstory? And I wonder what some clever Theme Park Insider readers could devise?
Hey, it's time for a contest!
Submit in the comments your best narrative for an original backstory to any existing theme park attraction. Be funny, scary, informative, or just really snarky. For whichever one I like best, I'll let its author select a prize from the TPI Prize Vault.
We've got Theme Park Insider T-shirts (in sizes S-XL for women and S-L for men), signed copied of Stories from a Theme Park Insider, and a couple of limited-edition theme park souvenirs: Two copies of the full-color photo book of the new Disney California Adventure that Disneyland sent its annual passholders earlier this year, and one copy of the souvenir "New Fantasyland" edition of the Eyes & Ears cast member magazine from the Walt Disney World Resort. If you write the best backstory, you get to pick which prize you want. Heck, if more than one story really impresses me, I'll pick more than one winner. The contest is open to Theme Park Insider readers in the United States, Canada and the European Union. (I don't know enough about contest laws to open it up to readers in other countries.) If you're not a registered TPI reader, you'll need to include your name and email address in the comment, so I know how to contact you if you win.
Have at it!
I would, but school doesn't allow time for fun stuff like this -_- Are we going to get to read the winner/ entrants?
Maelstrom at Epcot
Backstories can be cute and all but sometimes an attraction works best because it just EXISTS without the need to explain it all. To put it in Star Wars terms, did we really need the concept of midichlorians to explain the existence of The Force? Part of the appeal of classics like Haunted Mansion is the relative ambituity of their stories. There is a place for backstories (as in an actual narrative, not just a setting), of course, but I'm just not sure they need to be created for every attraction, restaurant, lamp post, etc.
In 1963, the Polaroid Camera company was testing out a new version of their instant camera, the model that we now know as the Polaroid Instant Camera and needed some people to test out the camera. They turned to the Walt Disney Company that was doing some globetrotting in effort to come up with a new ride for the 1964 World’s Fair showing how the world’s people all come together. The Disney team traveled all over the world taking pictures of people in different countries, who oddly seemed to wonder off before the smoke of the flash had cleared. The team put the pictures in a suitcase and didn’t think anything about it until the suitcase was opened by Mary Blair back at WED headquarters. What she found in the suitcase was not a bunch of still pictures. The new Polaroid camera had kept on developing until the suitcase was full of three dimensional objects oddly similar to the people the pictures were originally taken of. Mary noticed that with a little bit of blush the objects could be considered crude renderings of children, due to the poor quality of the camera. The dolls were put on a shelf and forgotten about for several weeks until during a piano lesson, Mary noticed that the dolls moved back and forth in time to the music, but as soon as the music stopped, the dolls also stopped. After a bit of inspecting, Mary found that the dolls were actually alive, but in a catatonic state that only responded to certain musical scales. After consulting with Walt, the Sherman Brothers, and Marc Davis, Mary Blair came up with the idea of building a ride that allowed employment for a group of catatonic miniature humans that only responded to certain bits of music in the style of the land that they are from. The special camera that Disney never gave back to Polaroid is still used to this day to recruit more people to staff the ride at the various theme parks. From time to time, the ride is closed to clear out the dolls that have died, only noticeable through their lack of movement. Walt thought it was in bad taste to name the ride Children of the World as originally planned and chose to use the nod-and-wink name It’s A Small World in tribute to those who are brave enough to be miniaturized and used to staff the ride.
From Danny McNeil
It's A Small World:
I have no clue what Tony Baxter looks like, but after a moment, I realized I was looking at a dead ringer for Donald Sutherland.
DINOSAUR! We'll be boarding our Time Rovers to travel back to the Cretaceous Period- ostensibly to rescue a dinosaur from extinction. Or will we? Perhaps instead, we'll be traveling back to the Cretaceous Period, to diabolically bring BACK that dino to the present day? Wrong on both counts! The real story is...we are trying deperately to go back in time... to...1935! Once there, we will attempt to wrestle our ride platform away from one Dr. Indiana Jones, thus restoring the swagger and excitement somehow missing in our little reptilian/avian corner of WDW...
The Jungle Cruise –
This is the only backstory that I can come up with that would make this particular theme park feature make any sense:
It was a cold dreadful night as I walk in the park alone and hearing what seems to be little pidder padders behind me. I quicken my pace as I quickly look behind me. The chill in the air turns to dead cold silence. "Oh holly machrel I'm being followed and why am I in a park at night all alone!" I freakishly mumble to myself.
There once was a Pirate Named Captain Jack Sparrow…. Oh
I know this is not a reader-judged contest, but I liked Karly's Space mountain idea.
He looks more like Donald Sutherland.
The monorail back story:
For about 30,000 years, a native culture of indigenous people lived off the land in perfect harmony with nature and wildlife. Although it does make sense, because after 30,000 years, anything that you abused would have gone extinct several years in. The Vikings made several visits over the years but not finding Valhalla, kept looking, stopping only to proclaimed how boring it was in what would soon be Canada, a proclamation that has been widely embraced by the native Canadians, after their lips have unfrosted enough to make normal conversation possible. After several hundred years, a mere blink of an eye to such a long established culture, uppity explorers from some crowded and dirty place across a vast expansion of water showed up and said that they owned everything. In one of the greatest bad moves in history, this ancient culture took in the freezing and starving foreigners, and taught them how to be one with the land. As a gift from the people that they saved, the native culture was given massacres, small pox, their own land in unusable expanses of desert, and eventually mineral rights and casinos.
I actually have a really long story planned out for Space Mountain (I was inspired by artist Brianne Drouhard's Space Mountain Princess design...) But here's the gist of it:
GRAN FIESTA TOUR - Epcot Mexico
SPACE MOUNTAIN - Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
SPLASH MOUNTAIN The Movie
How long will this go before deciding? Fun stuff so far.
Expediation everest would make a great story
I think we'll keep it going until Monday. I'm looking at multiple winners so far.
Jeff's story still scares me....
That's ABSOLUTELY Baxter!
Deep in the caves of the Matterhorn there are said to be natural jewels hidden from the world. Locals have stayed away from these jewels as fear of the mountain guardian, the Abominable Snowman.
SPACESHIP EARTH backstory
It's a Small World
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