Disneyland just kicked off its 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration with the new Paint the Night parade, Disneyland Forever fireworks, and World of Color: Celebrate. In this post, I review the new entertainment, plus take a quick look at enhancements to the Haunted Mansion and Matterhorn that helped kick off the Diamond Celebration. One thing is for sure after only a few days of the entertainment running in the parks: it’s going to be a busy summer and beyond, as all of these are pretty significant draws.
With that said, let’s start by taking a quick look at how some attractions have been and will be plussed for the celebration. I have a feeling that updated classic attractions will be a continuing trend for the Diamond Celebration. To me, this makes a lot of sense. Given the new entertainment for the 60th Anniversary and marketing push, this is probably an 18-month celebration, at a minimum. Being able to tout updates to fan favorites spaced over the course of the next couple of years will keep the celebration fresh and give locals a reason to keep celebrating (and buying tickets…and merchandise…and food…and…). To that end, the first updates are Haunted Mansion and the Matterhorn.
The Haunted Mansion finally got what was rumored to be coming for years: Hatbox Ghost. If you’re unfamiliar with the history of this character, here’s a primer. Adding Hatbox Ghost to Haunted Mansion after so many years seems like thinly-veiled fan service, and it probably is. But who cares? the figure is cool, the effect is awesome, and it’s a nice plussing for the attraction. Plus, is it really so bad that there are Imagineers with their finger on the pulse of what the fan community wants who are willing to lovingly embrace the history of the park? I think it takes some serious pessimism to view this as a negative.
The Matterhorn, on the other hand, has had some more serious criticism levied at it. Here, show scenes were added and changed to make it more of a story-based attraction rather than a fun romp. Now, the idea is that the abominable snowman is on the prowl, with some foreboding scenes and effects meant to build tension. I think this completely works, and love what was done as a whole. Unfortunately, the upgrades did not include any changes to the track or ride vehicles, so you’ll still incur some mild brian damnage during the ride, but I suppose that’s part of the fun–everyone knows cognitive abilities are overrated.
Others have been critical of a scene where torn-apart bobsleds and Skyway buckets are strewn in the snow. This scene replaced crystals and a “Wells Expedition” crate that paid tribute to the late Frank Wells. I can see the point of not wanting ‘junk’ in an attraction, but I just don’t personally agree that it’s a big deal in this case. The scene clearly establishes the ferocity of the abominable snowman and foreshadows the peril guests might encounter if they continue on. To me, it fits the attraction and is appropriate in context. Now, there might have been a better or more subtle way to execute on this, but I think how it was done is just fine. I would have thought absolutely nothing of this scene had I not read the controversy on social media.
Now let’s take a look at the main draws: the new parade, fireworks, and World of Color… (more…)