Religious Orders

Lessons About Updates

Posted: Friday April 10 2009 @ 7:09pm

Religious Order: Travel

So, we were at Disney World last week. It had been several years since our previous visit and many rides had been updated. Sometimes, the updates were nice. Sometimes not. Sometimes neither. Let me bore you with my observations:

Good update: Spaceship Earth

Spaceship Earth is a long-time favorite of mine. I'm a sucker for old Disney rides that stick you in a car or boat and run you by dioramas. It recently underwent a major refurbishment. And the results are great. Some of the dioramas are brand new. Others are modifications to old ones. Others are basically unchanged. But it all melds together smoothly. It's not at all obvious where the updates were made. There's a new narration by 'M' as well. But the best addition is at the end.

The way the ride works is that they slowly pull the lines of cars uphill past several dioramas until they reach the top of the big sphere. The top is where they show you Earth from afar. Then they drag you back down to the bottom, in pretty much a short straight line. In days of old, there wasn't a whole lot to see of do during the descent. But now, there's an interactive screen in your car.

At the beginning of the ride, they snap your photo. During the descent, you're presented with some options about your interests. Once you've done that, you get to watch a short video showing you your life in the future. The video is customized along several lines based on your earlier selections. But the best part is that they cut out your faces from the earlier snapshot and stick them on top of animated bodies in the video. Sometimes this works really well and the resulting video is hilarious. Sometimes the head cropping is really bad. It helps to not tilt your head to the side. It also helps if your hair color clashes with the darkness behind you.

Also, after the ride is an area where you can send the video to yourself via email. (Actually, you send yourself a link to the video page.) The video itself is just a Quicktime file, easily downloaded by those with a modicum of web skillz.

Oddly, the video they provide online is not exactly the same as the one you see in the ride. In one case, our heads swapped places. In other cases, the head crop changed entirely.

Meh Update: Pirates of the Caribbean

Due to the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, the ride is now themed more along the lines of the movie. It now includes audio-animatronics characters from the movie, including many instances of Captain Jack Sparrow. Dialog of other pre-existing characters has also been changed to reflect the inclusion of the new characters.

The additions don't ruin the ride, but they don't really add much to it either. I suppose it makes the ride more interesting to kids that grew up with the films first and ride second. I still love the ride. But I really don't have strong feelings on the changes.

Ruined Ride: El Rio Del Tiempo (now known as Gran Fiesta Tour Starring theThree Caballeros)

El Rio Del Tiempo was a sleepy little ride at EPCOT. It was part of the Mexico pavilion. It's your basic slow boat ride past stuff kind of ride. You would see some little kids straight out of It's a Small World. You would see some films loops of Mexico. And then you would be done. It's was simple and relaxing.

But now there's a new version. And it sucks. To update this simple ride, they decided to add a story-line of Donald Duck getting lost in Mexico. How did they incorporate this idea? By overlaying the existing Mexican film loops with animation. Donald and two other characters are superimposed over the existing footage. It's loud. It's garish. It just looks bad. It totally ruins the ride.

Finally, in closing, I'd just like to mention that I still sorely miss Horizons.

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