Is Everything Grand?

Everything is great. Everything is grand. I have the whole wide world in the palm of my hand – ‘The Muppets’

We should have seen this coming.

The Osborne Lights went away.

And Streets of America was demo’d.

But then, Pizza Planet became PizzeRizzo and there was hope for the area around MuppetVision to remain in tact.

Until the hot air balloon and sign came down to display… the Grand Arts Theatre?

During the week of 8/14/17, it was announced that the Muppets Courtyard would go the way of Anubis, Oz and Gangster Alley. In its stead? Wait for it. Grand Ave is on its way to Disney Hollywood Studios this Fall.

Grand Ave will reflect the present day LA. This sounds… Universal. Rumors abound that the shops, pubs and what not that will occupy the area will just serve as a (immensely long) queue for Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge.

This does not give me hope for the longevity of MuppetVision.

Diz can’t give it the heave ho yet. They need the Attraction to couple with Star Tours on that side of the park.  And the park can’t afford yet another loss before 2019.

I wish they could have found a way to build a new theater on Sunset Blvd and created a Muppets area leading up to Tower of Terror and Rock & Roller Coaster at the end of the block. But I know it’s unrealistic cost wise to rebuild for a 25 year old Attraction, so we should embrace our time with Sweetums, Bean Bunny and Sam Eagle while we can.

I’m giving it until 2019.

-Brother Dillo

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Stupid Judy. Stupid Energy.

*DillosDiz would like to welcome David Boyarsky, aka @FigmentsWorld on Twitter, as our guest blogger! David took a final ride on Ellen’s Energy Adventure and ended up having his own adventure!

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Last week, Disney committed attraction murder in the worst possible way.  Not only did they kill off 1 classic attraction, they killed off 2!  Both attractions had been operating for several decades and developed quite the fan base and oddly enough, both employed the way-ahead-of-its-time traveling theater car concept.  Coincidence?  I think not.  You see, whenever an attraction becomes a ‘classic’ Disney loves to pull on our heart strings and tease us with rumors of altering or shutting down completely.  Unfortunately, we lost the battle for both The Great Movie Ride and the Universe of Energy, all in the same evening. This day also happened to be my sister’s birthday.  So when the news quickly spread of the imminent closing, we both jumped at the chance to pay our respects and achieve our goal of traveling back in time with Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and Stupid Judy one last time.

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Why the Universe of Energy you may ask?  This attraction meant so much to us.  I still have fond memories from a trip in 1994 when we rode the original energy attraction.  Everything was going well for little Figgy until a large Elasmosaurus shot out at me and I thought I was going to die.  My ride was ruined and I was in tears so I can’t really recall what happened during the second half of the 45 minute journey.  However, by the time we went back in 1998, Ellen’s Energy Adventure had taken over and this scary snake-like creature was attacking an Ellen audio animatronic instead of me!  Boy was I relieved and thus began a love affair with the most underrated attraction that ever existed in a Disney theme park.

Fast forward to August 13, 2017: final day of operation for the Universe of Energy. My sister and I had one goal: be on the very last public ride of the Universe of Energy. However, we couldn’t wait to experience the attraction so we had to ride it in the middle of the day as well (plus who could resist a mid-afternoon nap).

 

20907154_10101597383268285_1861505839_oSo after enjoying our day around Epcot, we approached the Energy Pavilion at around 6:30pm as the Universe of Energy was set to shut its doors at 7pm.  To our surprise, we weren’t the only longtime fans who showed up, so much so that Disney set up a staging area for 500 people to wait for the very last ride.  At 7:15pm, the crowd was let in for the last 8 minute preshow ever.  To say the crowd was emotional is an understatement.  Here in this room were 500 diehard fans who knew every punchline, every witty response, and every time Ellen would call her old college roommate, “Stupid Judy!”

 

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The audience responded to Ellen on screen like she was really there and started chanting for Bill Nye when he walked in.  At the end of it all, a huge standing ovation and round of applause commenced for both the film and the Cast member who delivers the safety spiel.  It was a truly magical experience that only a closing Disney attraction could ever convey.

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500 guests bolted for theater cars for the final time to get the perfect seat.  The theater rotated and the big bang portion of the film began, not a dry eye in the house.  Afterwards, as has happened for the last 35 years, the theaters magically travelled out of theater one and into the dinosaur diorama without a single track on the floor.  As the dinosaurs came to life and the theater cars broke apart, Ellen’s dream was suddenly interrupted.  Lights flashed on and off, theater cars halted, and the crowd went wild!

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As most people who have ridden this attraction know, this ride was quite possibly the most prone to breaking down and today, the final day of operation on the final ride, was no exception.  But something magical happened that night.  You see, instead of being ushered out of the building by Cast Members and being told to put our cameras away, they opened our theater car doors and looked the other way for Energy’s most diehard fans.  Yes, that’s right, they actually had no objection to us walking through the entire Dinosaur diorama, touching, feeling, smelling it all for one last time because come Monday morning, it was all heading to the dumpster.  So while we were figuratively still stuck in Ellen’s dream we got to interact with the entire attraction like never before and bid our fond farewells in one of the most unique ways possible.

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There were some hopes about possibly fixing the attraction and letting us ride again but eventually it was decided that the battery pack in one of the vehicles was too faulty and they just couldn’t wait to scrap the whole thing in the morning.  It was a bittersweet moment.  While we never got to complete Ellen’s dream that night, we got to see off one of the greatest classic Epcot attractions in the most truly fitting way, through one last e-stop and ride evacuation. This was the night that the Universe of Energy ran out of energy but as Ellen and Bill Nye taught us, our brain power will never run out and our fond memories will always live on.

I leave you with these pictures from our exploration of the dinosaur diorama as I am getting very tired.  “Stupid Judy.  Stupid energy.  Maybe the universe needs energy but I don’t.  I’ll take a nap for a hundred.”  ~Ellen the uh… Just Ellen I guess

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What are you looking at?!

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Still fighting over if the Universe of Energy or Horizons was the better attraction

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I’ll miss you the most despite the fact that you sneeze on me every time I see you

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It’s a Dino-celebration party 220 million years ago, give or take a day

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Boy I bet Ellen really wished she figured out how to work that clicky thing earlier

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What’s Better Than The GMR?

In case you missed it, the voices of the Dillo siblings were heard for the first time ever on ‘The Improviser’s Guide Podcast’ saluting The Great Movie Ride (which is closing 8/13/17).

Listen & Subscribe HERE!

I’m taking myself to task for stating towards the end of this episode that GMR (maybe) cracks the Top 20 WDW Dillo’s Favorite Attractions. I didn’t think before I said it and it made me wonder what Attractions are ahead of it.

Here within, that list, with a few qualifiers:

A) this is All Time, childhood to ::coughs:: forty something

B) this is all inclusive, meaning water parks too

C) this is always subject to change and is in no particular order

1-3: The Triple Mountain Whammy (Splash, Space, & Thunder)

4: Peoplemover

5: The Original Journey Into Imagination

6: Horizons

7: Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

8: Summit Plummet

9: Tower of Terror

10: Muppetvision 3, nay, 4D

11: Star Tours

12: WDW Monorail

13: WDW Railroad

14: Spaceship Earth 

15: Tomorrowland Speedway

16: Peter Pan’s Flight

17: Pirates of the Caribbean

18: It’s a Small World

19: Carousel of Progress

Listing only 19 as GMR would make 20. Please take a moment to flip out over my not listing Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, Soarin’, Test Track, or anything in Animal Kingdom.

If I was to try to put these Attractions in order, it’s likely The Great Movie Ride is in the mid-teens. However, if it held up the high standard that was so present in those first 5-7 years of opening, it may very well have cracked the Top 10.

Brother Dillo

DillosDiz Salutes The Great Movie Ride!

For the first time ever you can hear the voices of Brother and Sister Dillo!

Brother Dillo has recently started The Improviser’s Guide Podcast (be sure to subscribe on iTunes). DillosDiz took over for this very special episode to pay tribute to The Great Movie Ride which departs Hollywood Studios (#AlwaysMGM) on August 13, 2017.

Join us as we virtually embark on our adventure and speak off the cuff to the Ride, the scenes, the movies, our memories and more! Being the nostalgic bunch we are, how could we not?

Click Here to listen!

Could this be the start of an official DillosDiz Podcast? ….Stay Tuned!

Sister Dillo

*Please note any research not conducted prior to recording this podcast, has been completed.

iG Special: Dillos Diz Salutes The Great Movie Ride

D23 Announcement Quick Hits

Last month, Disney fans went on a wild ride at the D23 Expo. Saturday night in particular brought the big guns, hitting all in attendance and across social media like a prizefighter.

We have spent the time since those announcements mourning the loss of one Attraction. More on that in a bit. Here within are some quick hits on the changes that are coming. 

The name of Star Wars Land is Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge… my first thought was “will we just call it Galaxy’s Edge someday? Then it’s fine.” But you can’t call it The Galaxy’s Edge of Star Wars when there’s The Wizarding World of…

The Star Wars immersive hotel… take all my money. Take a good percentage of my annual salary for my two night experience in the universe.

Tron cycle for Tomorrowland… we rejoice in the saving of the Speedway and the addition of another thrill ride in the Magic Kingdom. Now, can we partner Buzz’ spin and the Monsters Inc Laugh Actors with The Incredibles baby Jack Jack escape in place of Stitch? No?

Ratatouille in France pavilion… having visited Disneyland Paris in 2014, this was all the talk of the Studios there. We didn’t get to go on but am excited for it here. I am pro-Disney influence in each World Showcase pavilion. 

Toy Story Land in Summer 2018. Having been an #AlwaysMGM cast member when  TS premiered in 1995 and the pandemonium for those characters that followed in that park – any addition in this fashion holds a special place in my heart.

Future World overhaul… what does the cryptic artwork mean. Are the Communicore/Innoventions buildings going away forever? (FOREVER?) 

Guardians of the Galaxy bump Ellen and the Universe of Energy… and Peter Quill visited EPCOT Center!!! My Twitter feed suggested more of an uproar of this over the other Attraction August 13, 2017. I am, however, always willing to give ‘change’ a chance if it pays homage to history and tradition. And – let’s face it – we all needed a new place to nap which leads us to –

The new movie in the China pavilion.

The themed restaurant adjacent to Mission Space. This is a win. Consider the other restauarants not named Coral Reef in Future World.

Gondolas (skyway) connecting EPCOT to Caribbean Beach Resort, et al… I’m not sure about the optics about this – prove me wrong.

The Great Movie Ride to replaced by Mickey’s Runaway Railway, oh and it closes August 13, 2017… um, WHAT?!!?? We knew GMR going away was inevitable. The morning of these announcements, Sista Dillo and I were plotting our fast passes for the great big spectacular-spectacular Dillo’s September 2017 vacation (STAY TUNED!!!) and, presuming a 2018 closure, contemplated a fast pass to ensure us a place on the ride one last time. We will have A LOT more regarding this decision  on Thursday August 10, 2017!

Brother Dillo

WWEWDW: Remembering Marty Sklar

I wrote this blog separately from DillosDiz in 2013 following reading Marty Sklar’s book today. I was amazed by how many of his ideals I truly value – and may be why I continue to watch pro wrestling!

Most of the links and images have since been removed – enjoy!

Over the past 24 hours, I have completed renowned Walt Disney Imagineer Marty Sklar’s book ‘Dream It! Do It! My Half Century of Creating Disney’s Magic Kingdoms’ and have been disappointed by my third WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) pay per view in the past two months. The disappointment of the latter led into my thoughts abut the former and how these two entities – Disney & professional wrestling/sports entertainment/rasslin’ have consumed a large portion of my life.

Seriously. You would be horrified if I showed you a pie chart.

The pay per view was the Survivor Series. When I was a kid, this was a Thanksgiving tradition – a rare opportunity to see superstars fight other superstars in rare 5 of 5 elimination style match-ups. The past 15 years of cable televised wrestling, initiated by the mid-90’s competition resulting in WWE buying out its rival WCW, have diluted this format. There are very few matches that feel fresh or unique and the challenge the company is facing in creating compelling storylines for, um, renewed rivalries is quite evident.

Last night, the best match on the card was the one that paid homage to the days of yore: the 5 on 5 elimination style matchup. And it made me long for the simplicity. It made me want to say to whomever in Stamford, Connecticut may listen – keep it simple, stupid.

So, it was quite interesting this morning as I finished Mr. Sklar’s book that he references the k.i.s.s. – It made me flip back to his creation, ‘Mickey’s Ten Commandments’ (there are actually 40, but he started with 10) to see if I could draw parallels betwixt the world of Disney Parks and the world of the WWE to see why the struggles are the way they are.

1. Know your audience.

Now, if you read the internet about wrestling (and SO MANY of you reading this blog right now do…), the collective fists have been shaking in the air for about 3 months regarding the use of Daniel Bryan. He’s not a giant. He’s not a powerlifter. He’s not the leading man type. Daniel Bryan is an underdog who became the most exciting entertainer in the WWE during the Summer of 2013. The audience reaction grew, intensified, with their responsive chants of ‘YES! YES! YES!

When the face of the company, John Cena, needed surgery and a few months off, it was clear who should take the ball and run with it for that period of time. The audience dictated it.

Instead, they demeaned Bryan on television. Pointing out the flaws. We’re all led to believe these are just villainous things to do, but audiences are not stupid. They could sense it. They knew this story was not going to end well. For four consecutive pay per view events, where the audience pays $55 to watch at home – the WWE stripped their audience of a happy ending.

The audience is still waiting. And sitting on their hands for the current main events taking place.

Know your audience – which you may be thinking about me and my blog as I write about pro wrestling/sports entertainment.

2. Wear your guests’ shoes.

Critics will also say that the WWE never thinks about the audience’s perspective. That the company will run gags and gimmicks that amuse themselves more than what the millions of Twitter followers think.

This, honestly, has been going on for years. What the company seems to be failing at is taking the time and patience for the audience to accept the gags and gimmicks (the ones that work) before the company changes direction, or trying to force feed corporate methodology when we accept them too quickly. This has made the audience complacent.

3. Organize the flow of people and ideas.

“Make sure there is a logic and sequence in your stories and in the way guests experience them.”

Last night was the first staredown between the storyline driven ‘face of the company’ Randy Orton & the ACTUAL face of the company since 2005, John Cena. Cena returned from injury last month – why would we want to follow a storyline about the evil ‘Authority’ (Owner Vince McMahon’s daughter Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley and, her husband, multiple time champion Triple H) wanting Orton as the face of the company when the face of the company has been back for a month? And we all know he’s the face of the company without question?*

*this opinion is subject to change based on the direction of this developing storyline

4. Create a visual magnet.

Well, there’s a ring – so, bravo!

5. Communicate with visual literacy (color, shape, form, texture – all nonverbal ways of communication)

Whether it’s the mood lighting for Sin Cara….

Or, structures, like the Hell in the Cell…

Or, the awesome new entrance of The Wyatt Family.

WWE plays with these forms more than we realize, which is, in part, why we keep watching. It’s visually appealing.

6. Avoid overload – create turn-ons.

“Resist the temptation to overload your audience with too much information…”

I’m looking at you broadcast team. You want to promote the main event during a lower level match, that’s one thing. Having a completely off topic conversation or engaging in bad word play while a match is taking place? Channel flipping worthy.

7. Tell one story at a time.

WWE has 50+ wrestlers/sports entertainers that they are trying to get on television every week, so there are multiple stories. Let’s just take a look at a couple:

The Miz: he just became a bad guy (I think..) last week after a a year long dalliance as a good guy… are we going to find out why? Does this character have an objective? You know, like characters do in stories.

Big Show: he was fired by the McMahon-HHH ‘Authority’ because he wouldn’t do what he was told, then rehired after filing a lawsuit. Then, he was rehired and demanded a title match at the Survivor Series pay per view. Who’s the protagonist and who’s the antagonist in this scenario? Because, when he lost his match to Randy Orton…

Ok, that’s all I got.

8. Avoid contradictions – maintain identity.

There are characters who maintain their identity despite the many changes that is weekly episodic television. John Cena, he who is WWE’s Superman, is loved by half the audience and absolutely loathed by the other half. He has had a longer run at the top of the company than Hulk Hogan did in the 1980’s prime of Rock ‘n’ Wrestling. That’s the first problem – burn out – and a stark refusal by some, or all, of the players involved to adapt and change with the times. The second problem is when Cena should be emotionally phased by a storyline occurrence- he isn’t, and when he is – he shouldn’t be. Despite the countless times he has lost titles or just his matches, we have never seen John Cena’s kryptonite, or believed that it was kryptonite if it was staring us in our Metropolized faces. His Wrestlemania 29 match against Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson was the climax of a story for Cena, where he struggled for 12 months following his loss to Rocky at WM 28…

Except he beat Brock Lesnar a month after that loss. You know, Brock Lesnar from UFC? After Lesnar destroyed him for 20 minutes.

Nobody bought into this redemptive storyline.

Identity? Yes. Contradictions? Aplenty.

9. For every ounce of treatment, provide a ton of treat.

I think the argument by many would be that they are getting an ounce of treat because there is no treatment.

10. Keep it up! (maintain it!)

Here’s the last one. For three months, WWE has been maintaining mediocrity (and I’m being nice). This is unfortunate due to the amount of excitement brewing within their roster: The Shield, The Wyatts, Cesaro and his giant swings, the Rhodes’ Brothers, Bryan, CM Punk, The Usos (if used properly), the AJ/Kaitlyn feud that sadly went off the rails because there’s a WWE Divas show on E!

And I get that the WWE is not a theme park, but the similarities are there – why else would I be drawn to both the way I am?

The WWE is on its fourth decade of being my guilty pleasured addiction. The potential is always there and that’s what really gets me.

What is potential if there is no follow through?

Moa-mmy Moments 

I’ve recently been watching Moana with my 2 year old son. Truth be told I have yet to make it to the end since we’ve been watching leading up to bedtime. So far I like what I see: the music, the look and the fact that it makes me want to stay at the Polynesian (as if I don’t want to do that everyday anyway). But – this isn’t a blog to review the movie.
I’m having a mommy moment. I’m watching a new Disney movie with my kids (my younger one is almost 8 weeks old so she’s not watching, just in the room). Aside from Pixar, this is the first Disney movie my 2 year old has been sitting through. It’s all crazy to me. Crazy that I’m at this stage of my life. Crazy to see my son act out scenes. Crazy to be able to see the Disney DNA running through his veins.

Sidenote: Not that I don’t enjoy hearing well known celebrities behind many animated films, but it wasn’t like that in my day. I’m happy that Moana is played by 16 year old Auli’i Cravalho in her acting debut. By having an unknown talent, it brings back that feeling that anyone can be a Disney princess and they’re not reserved to famous actresses. The same feeling girls felt while singing ‘Part of Your World’ during recess…um or so I’d assume. 

So far this movie is providing an ode to some of the older Disney movies mixed with a feel of the Polynesian and of course the modern music of Lin-Manuel Miranda. This all equates to major points in my book. 

I love the fact that I get to enjoy Disney movies with my kids, it’s a new level of awesome. 

Sister Dillo