Where Animatronics Go to Die

Our first full day at Disney World was spent at the Magic Kingdom Theme Park, or as we like to think of it, Old School Disney.

The Good. They can work miracles with sparkle paint, black light, and plywood. Evening fireworks (no parade the night we were there) are awesome. We especially marveled at the crazy woman in the role of Tinker Bell, who sailed down a zip line from the top of the castle at the end of the fireworks show. Main Street is appealing at night when it’s crowded and beautifully lit. (Pictured above with Tom’s family.)

The Bad. All of the traditional stuff that I feel nostalgic about from my visits to Disneyland as a kid — It’s a Small World, Pirates of the Carribean, and the Country Bear Jamboree — well, let’s just say that they seem incredibly and hopelessly outdated, both from a technology and content perspective. When three female bears began singing a song about how much difficulty they were experiencing in catching a man, I leaned over to Zoe and said, “How does your mother feel about this song?” Zoe whispered back to me, “you think it’s stupid.” I nodded, proudly. It made me realize that the age at which traditional Disney becomes lame and uncool must be plummeting. (You can see how Disney is reacting to this in their newer content options, which I will talk about in other theme park reviews.)

The Ugly. This prize goes to the Jungle Cruise, which is so bad, it’s almost good. This is a trip on a boat where you gaze upon some of the oldest and worst animatronic animals I have ever seen. Add in a dose of politically incorrect head hunting natives, and it’s really a spectacular train wreck. They have tried to salvage this ride by having comedians work their own schtick on board, making fun of the attractions as they give you a tour. The kids thought the comedian was hilarious, but really didn’t get the whole bad mechanized animal thing.

And lastly, a warning. In trying to upgrade the Tiki Bird show, they have added the character of Iago. Suffice to say, building an entire extravaganza around the blaring voice of Gilbert Gottfried is a horrible idea. I was nauseous and my ears were ringing by the end.

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