Stories from the Park: Something new

Last time I talked about the old rides we experienced at Walt Disney World.  This time I would like to talk about the new ones.  These are rides that were new to us as well as opening recently.

The first was the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  This was a ride The Princess and I were really looking forward to.  It opened a mere month after our previous trip to the Magic Kingdom and we were very disappointed that we could see it, but not get to experience it.  It was the first FastPass we booked and I made sure that we had another one for later in the week.  For those of you unfamiliar with the ride, it is the newest roller coaster in the Magic Kingdom.  It feels a little like it should be one of the ‘mountains’ of the park but I do not believe it is officially.  The new technology that is the ‘wow factor’ is that the cars are free swinging during the ride.  As we travel around corners, the mine cars will tip from side to side.  We were very disappointed.  The ride is short compared to the other coasters.  It is only three minutes long and the last part of the ride you are moving slowly through a tableau of the Dwarfs singing “Heigh Ho”.  As for the new, free swinging technology; we didn’t notice it.  We only rode it once and traded in our second FastPass for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Our other new rides were still VERY new, only about a month old when we were there.  We got to experience both the rides in the new Pandora section of Animal Kingdom.  The two rides are very different.  We were only able to get a Fastpass for one of the two, fortunately I guessed correctly which one we wanted.  Na’vi River Journey is a slow boat ride through the jungle of Pandora.  It is pleasant and the upgraded animatronic effects are amazing.  The wait time averages about an hour and a half and as beautiful as the ride is, it is definitely not worth that kind of wait time.  It is essentially Small World with better scenery and less singable music.

The star of our whole trip was Avatar Flight of Passage.  This ride is one that redefines the ride experience.  The technology is similar to the technology in Soarin’ but the experience is upgraded to be both 3D and single rider.  It was by far the best ride in any park hands down.  We only got to ride it twice, but it was worth every minute spent in line.  Every part of the ride was amazing from the fully immersive visual effects right down to the fact that you could feel your banshee breathing as you rode it.  This is the level we expect from the Disney imagineers.

It’s a hard thing when you try something new and are disappointed.  We want something new to be different, better, and exciting.  Sometimes it isn’t.  Sometimes it is just more of the same old things wrapped up in a new package.  Churches are very good at this.  We change the signs, change the name, add a different style of music and then claim that we are doing something new.  Radical creativity and paradigm shifting ministry are rare and remarkable.  Most of us however, just make minor tweaks to what we are currently doing and present it as something different.  The problem is people notice.  They will notice our lack of creativity and be disappointed in what we offer.  We need to be bold in our changes or honest in our status quo.  Anything else just leads to frustration, not only for us but for those who are expecting more from us.



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