DragonQuest 101

August 31, 2009, 5:02 AM · Update, Sept. 1: Disneyland reports that the dragon will debut during Tuesday night's showing of Fantasmic.

Well, the plan this morning was that I would be bringing you video and some still photos of Disneyland's renovated Fantasmic! show, complete with the new high-tech Maleficent dragon animatronic that Disney's been promising all summer.

Disney was supposed to debut Maleficent earlier this summer, at the "Summer Nightastic" press event, but the dragon went "101" (Disneyspeak for "not working") and has remained inoperable since.

Until Friday, when I got a breathless e-mail from Disney's PR rep, inviting me (and many others, I am sure) to a pre-dawn "dress rehearsal" of Fantasmic! this morning, complete with the new dragon. I RSVP'd with a "Heck, yes!" and hauled myself out of bed at 3 o'clock this morning for the drive down to Anaheim.

You can see where this is going, can't you?

"Murphy," as many folks inside and out of the company have taken to calling the dragon ("whatever can go wrong, will"), still ain't working, as I discovered when I arrived and the PR reps informed us that the event was off.

So Disneyland's dragon joins Universal Studios Florida's Rip Ride Rockit coaster as the most recalcitrant theme park attractions of the summer. Of course, Rip Ride Rockit eventually did open. And, I suppose, at some point Murphy Maleficent will appear as well. Until then, though, Disneyland seems well on its way toward setting the record for most press events hyping an attraction that no one in the press has yet seen.

Two, and counting.

(I'm going back to sleep.)

Update: Disney's sent hand-out art and video of the dragon from a run-through when it did work:

Fantasmic Dragon

Replies (9)

August 31, 2009 at 5:51 AM · I can't say I'm all that surprised. Wasn't the dragon supposed to be incredibly sophisticated? The way I see it, the more sophisticated it's gotta be, the longer it's gonna take to work properly. I mean, there's plenty of great examples of this in theme park attractions that I can think of.

Like, y'know, a certain mummy.

August 31, 2009 at 6:22 AM · I didn't break it! Don't blame me just because they decided to name the Dragon after me!

But yeah, the bigger story is that they dragged Robert Niles out of bed. I am more curious of why it seems that the Dragon at DL never works, but I have never seen DHS's dragon go down. Bigger? Better maintained, better secure

August 31, 2009 at 9:17 AM · Hey, Disney has gotten me out of bed at many early hours before. Of course, back then, it was paying me. :-)

The DHS dragon, from what I am told, is the old model, and nowhere near as advanced as the new dragon.

Though, at this point, I am beginning to see the upside of the really old-school approach of sending someone out there in an enormous rubber suit....

August 31, 2009 at 12:54 PM · Methinks that with the Marvel deal and the SoCal wildfires, no one was going to give much airtime to Murphy today anyway.
August 31, 2009 at 8:11 PM · It looks like the Dragon will make an incredible addition to the show when (and if) it functions correctly. Fingers crossed that next time you get the call it will be "for reals"!
August 31, 2009 at 9:15 PM · Oh my god!

That dragon is cool! No wonder you got up so early! I want DHS to have it! How could they not have it! If DL can do it, then DHS can!

August 31, 2009 at 11:38 PM · Robert, I went twice to Disneyland myself this summer (not as early as you) to catch a glimpse of the new dragon. Disappointed on both occasions.

This summer's biggest flop was not Land of the Lost.

September 1, 2009 at 10:18 AM · Whats wrong with the Dragon? I personally think it looks great! Now if it breaks down to no end, I see a problem, but LOOK AT IT!!!

Do you have any idea how they do it?

September 1, 2009 at 7:20 PM · Maybe "Murphy" can be roommates with "Disco Yeti" in room 101 at the "Millions Wasted" retirement home for brokendown animatronics.

It's a shame they can't get either of them working right.

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