We’re back for another Walt Disney World news round-up! This one begins with an update on Mickey Mouse replacing BoardWalk Inn’s creep clown pool, plus goats invading Animal Kingdom, the College Program’s status for 2021, the return of Electrical Water Pageant, and more.
Let’s start with the roller coaster saga of the Luna Park Pool water slide at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. As we reported last week, Disney released a statement that Mickey and his pals would be clowning around there, with guests being able to enjoy the same great ride down Keister Coaster slide with a brand-new look.
From that, we inferred that Keister Coaster slide will be re-themed to Mickey & Friends. We were on board with this idea, hoping it meant replacing the creepy clown with a pie-eyed Mickey Mouse and using era-appropriate character models would be nice enhancement that also maintains thematic integrity at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn…
Earlier this week, Walt Disney Imagineering unveiled a behind the scenes look at work on the water slide…but misspelled Keister Coaster as “Kiester Coaster” on the slide itself. (Top photo in this post.)
The post was quickly pulled, with a post on Instagram stories that Imagineering was “feeling a little ‘goofy’ about a typo.” Quick aside, but am I the only one who hates that Walt Disney World’s new way of making announcements is via personal social media accounts? Perhaps it’s meant to feel more “organic” but it’s every bit as calculated. It’s also much more fragmented, missing huge segments of the audience. (Probably shouldn’t complain too much, as that benefits blogs like this one!)
Anyway, Imagineering released more photos today, again on Instagram.
Here’s the accompanying caption: “Our @waltdisneyworld and @WaltDisneyImagineering teams are even closer to completing the brand-new design at the end of the Keister Coaster slide at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort. In these sneak peek photos with the updated graphic (that’s kEIster! We triple-checked!), you can see that Mickey Mouse and his pals are the ones clowning around as they splash down into Luna Park Pool. I can’t wait for guests to join along in the fun when the slide reopens soon!”
As you can see, this is very much in the Ren & Stimpy style of the new cartoon shorts, consistent with Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
I’ll withhold judgment until seeing this in person, but this is definitely not what I had in mind when previously defending the potential of IP integration at Luna Park Pool.
For one, these are the modern character models for Mickey and pals. Disney’s BoardWalk Inn has a 1940’s Atlantic City theme, which would’ve made pie-eyed Mickey more appropriate if there was a serious effort to infuse characters into the existing theme.
For another thing, this appears to be replacing a fully dimensional and tactile (albeit creepy) clown with flat art. Something about that just feels lazy, cheap, and hollow to me. It would sort of be like replacing a lengthy dark ride consisting of elaborate sets and Audio Animatronics figures with a shorter ride leaning heavily on projection mapping. Oh wait.
Judging by the comments to our previous Walt Disney World news update, readers were pretty evenly split on the idea of this change. Half of you were not on-board with shoehorning IP into a thematically-strong hotel, and the other half hates creepy clowns.
It seems like no one shared our perspective, which was that there’s a sweet spot or middle ground where theme and IP could be balanced in harmony. While it’s almost certainly not what’s going to happen here, just imagine the entrance to Toy Story Mania at Tokyo DisneySea, but in pie-eyed Mickey head form:
To me, that would be the best of both worlds. Toyville Trolley Park at Tokyo DisneySea is a perfect riff on Luna Park, offering a romanticized and “Disneyfied” reinterpretation of that bygone era amusement park.
Luna Park Pool could’ve done something similar, appeasing both those who want more characters and thematic purists. It also could’ve still been somewhat creepy, carrying forward the time-honored legacy of “Weird Walt Disney World.” Maybe the redone Keister Coaster will be well-executed, but I’m not holding my breath.
In unequivocally positive news, Nigerian dwarf goats have invaded Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom. While all goats are high value, these are especially so because of the protein-rich milk they provide, which is also very sweet.
As guests wrap up their journey on the Harambe Wildlife Reserve they’ll see a warden’s outpost where these miniature West African goats chase, climb, and play like kids. In other goat news, Affection Section at Rafiki’s Planet Watch has reopened for up-close visits with goats and other animals.
As some of the staunchest Disney goat advocates, we’re absolutely elated by this news. Since the demise of Goat Galaxy at Disneyland, there has been an embarrassing of goat-centric attractions in Disney’s theme parks.
Hopefully this is the first of many steps to rectify that unfortunate situation. Who knows, maybe if Imagineering can’t get the modified EPCOT plans funded, they could just fill the dirt pit with goats and open it up to guests. Dare to dream!
Next, bad but predictable news as Disney Programs released (via Twitter) a non-update on the future of the College Program and internships: “We have not recruited participants for the upcoming semesters and we are still uncertain about when we will be able to resume our Disney Internships & Programs.
The silver lining here is that College Program will return at some point. It’s very important to Walt Disney World for a number of reasons. Moreover, Disney has continued construction on the next phase of the East Campus development at Flamingo Crossings. If built as originally planned, this multi-phase project has an estimated price tag of over $600 million (!!!) in total, with thousands of rooms, community centers, pools, and other high-end amenities.
However, don’t expect it to return for the next couple of years. While we haven’t dug into the details to see if there’s an exception for internships, various Cast Member unions reached rehire agreements as part of their layoff negotiations with Walt Disney World. To our (admittedly limited) knowledge, those laid off union members will retain their seniority, rate of pay, and the right to return to their previous job at Disney until October 1, 2022.
If applicable here, these rehire agreements would essentially give tens of thousands of laid-off Cast Members priority before Walt Disney World hires new employees. Of course, that labor pool will be depleted by those who will find new jobs or leave Central Florida altogether. Nevertheless, the unemployment situation is such that there will still be many laid of Cast Members out of work, meaning thousands of people “in line” with priority before the College Program. (Again, if applicable.)
While many students love the Disney College Program, it has long been controversial for supplying a non-union form of disposable and renewable labor with below-market pay. In thriving times, we recognize the bad, but also see the good in the College Program–it’s an excellent gateway into the company for those who are passionate about Disney and its founder’s ideals.
However, given the employment situation in Central Florida now and for the near-term future, it’s impossible for us to advocate for the College Program’s return. We feel sympathy for those who had programs cut short or were accepted but never got to start their internships. Nevertheless, for the sake of the region’s economic and general health, it’s better that these programs remain paused for the next couple of years.
In some very good news, Walt Disney World has officially announced via its social media channels that the Electrical Water Pageant will soon make its return to Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake! Guests staying at Magic Kingdom area resorts will soon be able to see this twinkling nighttime musical processional that’s enchanted onlookers since 1971.
Check out this new video to take a backstage look at the pageant with Walt Disney World Cast Member Jimmy:
Guests at Disney Resort hotels along Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake will once again have a chance to see The Electrical Water Pageant as it will soon make its return to the waterways of @WaltDisneyWorld Resort. pic.twitter.com/ImuN6G3CcL
Per Walt Disney World’s official entertainment schedule, the Electrical Water Pageant returns on December 20, 2020 (don’t be surprised if it unofficially debuts a night or two earlier). You can see it from viewing spots along the shore or in guest rooms at these hotels:
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort — beginning at 8:45 PM
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa — beginning at 9:00 PM
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge — beginning at 9:30 PM
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground — beginning at 9:45 PM
Disney’s Contemporary Resort — beginning at 10:00 PM
These times are approximate and may vary by several minutes.
We spotted the Electrical Water Pageant prepping backstage the last two days while using the Grand Floridian walkway to Magic Kingdom, and there have been recent reports of sections testing, so it’s not a huge surprise that it’s returning.
Nevertheless, it’s a huge relief. For years, we’ve joked that the only reason Electrical Water Pageant still exists is because the “team” behind it is a dude named Earl who Walt Disney World management forgot was on the payroll 3 decades ago. He hauls it around behind his 1970 Sears fishing boat every night, hoping none of the hotshots wise up.
Just this year, the Electrical Water Pageant has survived the addition of a new bridge over its waterway, the closure of Walt Disney World, and temporary suspension of most entertainment. Any one of those things could’ve been a convenient pretense for bringing the classic water parade to an end.
Even before all of this, Electrical Water Pageant’s existence defied logic in the era of Walt Disney World’s “modern” management and entertainment cost-cutting “ideologies.” That it has not only survived all of this but is returning before almost any other nighttime entertainment is downright baffling. Perhaps Earl is one of the behind the scenes power brokers at Disney, wielding his influence with impunity. Or maybe he has blackmail material on Mickey, Randy, and a certain pangolin.
Thoughts on any of this Walt Disney World news? Excited for more goats? Looking forward to the return of Electrical Water Pageant? Disappointed or happy that the College Program isn’t likely to return in 2021? What do you think of Luna Park Pool getting a new look? Would you be on board with a pie-eyed Mickey Mouse in the style of the Creepy Clown? Think the flat art is lazy or a good change? Do you agree or disagree with our advice and commentary? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!