Stories from the Park: Something old

One of the fun things to do when visiting a Disney park is riding the old rides.  Things we have done over and over.  Classics that, while they do not have new, cutting edge technology, are still fun and engaging.  I’m sure you can all think of those rides and shows.  They are iconic.  The technology behind Dumbo or Mad Tea Party has not changed in its basics in decades, but we ride them every time we go to a park because they are still fun.  We discovered on this trip, however, that not everything holds up that well.  We experienced a couple of attractions that are in desperate need of updating.  Oddly, they may not be the ones you might expect.

First, over in Hollywood Studios Muppetvision is showing its age badly.  When there are so many newer and updated 3D attractions, this one simply doesn’t hold up.  The effects are dated and the storyline is tired.  I have loved the Muppets since the 70s when they were on TV on Saturday nights, but I do not feel compelled to visit Muppetvision again any time in the near future.

Also in Hollywood Studios is The Great Movie Ride.  While never extraordinary, this too seems to be suffering the effects of aging.  It has never been an overly engaging ride.  It’s like riding through a wax museum with narration.  It’s long, slow, and a good way to get off your feet for a while in air conditioning.  It is a ride whose time has passed.  Even the drivers seem bored at this point.  Plus, it is very sad to hear Robert Osborne’s narration after his passing earlier this year.

We move to Epcot which seems to have stagnated for years.  There is a lot that needs to be updated, some of which is underway.  Ellen’s Energy Adventure is slated for closure.  I am not sad about this as I literally fell asleep riding it this last trip.  Journey into Imagination needs some upgrades and Spaceship Earth could benefit from some globalization of the story.  (Asia exists!  And people did things!)  The World Showcase could use some updating, but with the success of the Frozen refurbishments in Norway, I think that might be underway.

Both the Magic and Animal Kingdoms are in fairly good shape attraction wise.  Everyone knows that Stitch’s Great Escape needs to go but I would like to see some of the Disneyland additions added to Small World.  Seeing the Disney characters added to their country of origin made the ride much more engaging as we hunted for the new additions.  However, compared to the other attractions on this list, that is a minor thing.

I have said in this blog that change makes me uncomfortable, however, dealing with the consequences of not changing is so much worse.  Change is hard when we come face to face with something that is traditional or has emotional ties for us.  But difficult doesn’t mean unnecessary.  Real growth and change is natural, normal, and needed.  If Muppetvision in closed, I will miss it.  However I would rather miss it entirely than be continually disappointed in how badly out of date it is.

This is a lesson for our churches.  No matter how much people remember and love the church of their childhood, they will leave us if we are increasingly out of date, out of touch, or out of step with the times we live in.  They would much rather keep their memories untarnished by a current reality that is disappointing.  It is our job to stay relevant, to keep engaged, and to focus on what comes next; not by changing our message, but by learning how to present that message in a way that is meaningful to people both inside and outside our walls.  It’s not easy.  Sometimes it means doing away with things that are no longer functional even though they are well loved.  Growth and change can be painful.  But when we can look at things from a new angle, we can find some objectivity and make the hard choices.

Everything old isn’t of value.  the trick is figuring out what works, what doesn’t’, and  what’s next.



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