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Robert Niles
Editor

Should Theme Parks Use Live or Recorded Narrators on Attractions?

Published: May 29, 2015 at 11:27 AM

Walt Disney World this morning unveiled the changes to its Great Movie Ride that we told you about earlier this year. The centerpiece attraction in Disney's Hollywood Studios has a new sponsor, Turner Classic Movies, and the channel's host Robert Osborne is now featured in recorded spiels in the ride. That means less spieling for the Disney attractions cast members who previously had narrated the entire ride.

Great Movie Ride

As @midnightsky82 reported on Twitter, "So Robert Osborne and the live CM co-spiel. Osborne fills in the technical information and the live CM does the color commentary/quips."

This is not the first time that Disney has replaced live hosts with recorded narration, in full or in part. In 2006, Disney removed cast members from the boats on Epcot's Listen to the Land, replacing them with a recorded narration. Disney World lost another live-spieled attraction in 2001 with the closure of the Mike Fink Keelboats. Disney continues to use live spieling on the Jungle Cruise and, at Disneyland, the Storybook Land Canal Boats. But you'll find recorded narration on the Liberty Square and Mark Twain riverboats, and perhaps most famously, by the "Ghost Host" on the Haunted Mansion.

What do you prefer to hear on a narrated ride? Do you prefer the consistency of a pre-recorded narration? Or would you rather hear a live spiel, as unpredictable as that might be?

Sure, sometimes you get a bad spiel with a cast member on the mic, but a recorded spiel can't interact with guests. A Jungle Cruise skipper who's tuned in to his "crew" and going off-script to joke with guests can be cringe-worthy, or a magical highlight of your day. Many Great Movie Ride cast members helped raise the entertainment level on that attraction through their energy and creative spieling. With a recorded Robert Osbourne doing a good chunk of the narrative work now, the experience changes — for better or worse, depending upon your history with the ride and point of view.

Here's a recording of the new clip montage from the end of the ride:


What is your favorite attraction narration? What makes/made it so great? Tell us about it in the comments!

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