Wednesday, August 29, 2012

20,000 dreams. A look at what happened to the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea remake.

There has always been a bit of mystery when it comes to how Disney operates and the behind the scenes decision making process that goes on when Disney decides to tweak, change, and evolve their parks.  Like any good “smart mark” we think we know how that process works, but we really don’t. Trying to peel back this curtain of secrecy leaves many Disney bloggers and fans endlessly posting away on messaging boards and spouting off mostly false and inaccurate information. We all think we know what the future holds for the Disney Company and Walt Disney World right? AVATAR, New Fantasyland, and the Big Thunder Mountain featuring Johnny Depp. Wait… what? So many times as Disney fans we jump into the rumor pool with half-baked information by trying to connect dots that shouldn’t be connected by any stretch of the imagination; but as Disney fans, we manage to connect them anyway, no matter how reckless or irresponsible.  So in the spirit of half-baked fanboy attraction molesting, let’s see what we can come up with.
Now a days we all know that no Disney attraction gets built without some sort of connection to an already existing Disney property. Since I am not smart enough to dream up new attractions like every other DisNerd, let’s take a look at an upcoming or rumored Disney film and how it could be folded into already existing Disney parks and attractions.

Rumors of a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea remake began to surface around 2007. Director Joseph McGinty Nichol “McG” was rumored to work on the project. He is known for directing those really fast paced action flicks like Charlies Angels and Terminator: Salvation. Now this begs the question; was this remake of 20,000 going to be a high speed action packed thrill ride movie? While the original 1954 film was considered to be the Disney Company’s first major budget, live action adventure, this remake would have to be a totally amped up and a super charged version of the original. McG was a perfect fit for this remake; and I guess Michael Bay was busy blowing other shit up. Now how could Disney roll this action packed remake into an attraction you say? More on that later… 
                                                                     (Photo by: Imdb)

In late 2009 Variety reported that the remake was, “halted indefinitely” and that rumored director McG had, “Walked away from the project.” So what the heck happened there? While there is no clarity on exactly why McG balked on the project, one can reason that McG walked away from the remake for the same reason a lot of potential directors walk away from a lot of potential films. Money! Then studio head Rich Ross was only a month into his tenure when 20k reportedly got the axe. Ross came into the studio and quickly had to distinguish his projects from those of his predecessor Dick Cook. Its likely Ross did not want to green light such a massive budget for the 20k project. Likely to be filmed, partially at least, on water, 20k’s budget was surely rising through the roof. Why is water so important and costly to a films budget? Just ask the people who filmed Jaws and Waterworld how quickly their budgets got out of control. The 20k remake budget climbed to a reported $150 million! This led to newcomer Ross demanding the budget take a few hits for the green light. McG most likely didn’t want to deal with the hassle of this back and forth financial nitpicking the Disney studio is so well known for, and left the project on the concept floor. Ross would later go on to green light massive budget films Mars Needs Moms and John Carter. McG is now rumored to be working on the film adaption of the rock musical Spring Awakening.  

It looked like Disney CEO Bob Iger had something big planned for the 20k remake. Word was, not only did Disney want to film the remake, but they wanted to make a whole franchise out of the 20k brand; they wanted a new Pirates of the Caribbean style franchise where they could make multiple movies and milk the ever loving life out of to maximize its financial potential. This led to Disney hiring Michael Chabon to rework and rewrite the script. Focusing more on the main character of the film, Disney was going to brand the film and upcoming franchise, “Nemo” or, “Captain Nemo”. So Disney was looking to make a new franchise out of 20k; a fresh, updated, fast paced version of that old 1954 classic. So how would that have fit into a theme park you ask?

We all know the story of Disney’s first attempt at an attraction theme after 20k. In both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Disney built the now infamous 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction where those bulky greyish submarines would magically take you under the water and transport you into the world of Captain Nemo and Jules Verne. In 1994, 23 years after its opening at the Magic Kingdom, 20k was permanently closed. When I asked a Disney cast member why the ride closed she said, “It did not fit any of our four keys” which are safety, courtesy, efficiency, and show. The ride broke down a lot, had terrible capacity and was frankly dangerous for handicap and older guests to board. At the Magic Kingdom the lagoon was filled in with dirt and the 10 original submarines were scattered across the globe to be used for different purposes. At Disneyland, well lets just say the subs are still there, and you can see Nemo; just not Captain Nemo.  

So what kind of fancy attraction could have been built for Disney’s new sleek, fast paced 20k franchise? One word; simulators. In a 2005 article Disney rebel spy Jim Hill talks about some of the early plans for a massive 200 foot long Nautilus for the proposed Disneyland addition called Discovery Bay. In this Nautilus you would be able to take a walking tour, eat a meal, and board a flight simulator that would board Nemo’s newly invented exploratory sub and dive to new ocean depths. As, “Engine bells clang into action and both glass columns suddenly begin to fill with water at terrific force“ the seated theatre audience is transported into some amazing worlds that are pulled right out of the book and the 1954 film. According to Hill, this attraction was never built because Discovery Bay was never built. Due to the bombing of the film The Island at the Top of the World, “Disney execs pretty much lost all enthusiasm for building an ornate new land at Disneyland” says Hill.
But we could easily see this type of simulator adventure based attraction reimagined for the new fast paced 20k film, and with the incorporation of the new technology of Star Tours, this attraction could easily be a huge hit. Imagine boarding a Nautilus and racing under the seas with 4k hi definition film and screens. Imagine the blue waters flying past you as your sub is rocked by a gigantic squid that comes across the screen so clear and crisps you can see what town he is from on his cast member id. (Yes, I know there is a similar scene in Star Tours already). Imagine walking through a queue where you are greeted by a Captain Nemo animatronic who is eager to show his visitors all of his new inventions. And since this is Disney, imagine all of the new 20k merchandise that will be lining the shelves of the gift shop as you exit! Have they already made a 20k vinylmation?

While this movie remake, and thus, a new attraction still seems unlikely, DisNerds can take solace in knowing that nothing is completely dead at Disney. With the company already trying to remake and profit off of already existing brands such as Maleficent and Jungle Cruise (stay tuned for that one) it is not entirely impossible to see the 20k project….resurface.  In late 2011 Disney handed over writing of the script to Andrew Kevin Walker. Walker said, “We're plugging away” and, “you don't want to go off half-cocked. You can find yourself with a $75 million overage in a movie that completely takes place underwater, especially in 3D.”

So maybe one day we will look up on the movie screen and see Captain Nemo again. Maybe one day we will step foot inside that simulator, and maybe one day we will be waiting at the Magic Kingdom terminal and instead of monorail peach pulling up to carry us away, we will see a Nautilus wrap on the monorail. Maybe. 

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

New Layout and the future of WR

Thanks to your support I have reached over 30,000 readers. Thanks a lot for that! I continue to appear regularly on the WDW DIS-Cussion Show and continue to branch the blog out with book reviews and more specialty articles.

This is what the future holds for the Wakefield Report:

Coming this October I will be adding a new weekly article that will, hopefully, help me share some of my ideas and opinions about theme parks with you. Stay tuned October 1st EPCOT fans; it'll be an article you wont want to miss

I am continuing to work on some of the technical glitches to get up and running. anyone who knows anything about building a webpage please contact me. That is almost everyone in the world who is older than 4 and not in a vegetative state.

November 10 is the 1 year anniversary of Wakefield Report and I will be celebrating it with the 2012 addition of my Top Ten Theme Park Podcast

Coming up in December you, the readers, will have a chance to take the 12 Show of the Month winners and vote from them  for 2012 Show of the Year! 

But the most exciting and by far the most important part of Wakefield fact, the heart of everything I will be doing at WR will be the new Wakefield Report Podcast. It will be a theme park podcast about theme park podcasts. I have already been busy collecting interviews from some of the biggest names in podcasting, and I can not wait to share them with you.

None of this would be possible without you, the thousands of readers. Being a DisNerd and wanting to share my thoughts with the world is getting expensive and in order to get things like the Wakefield Report Podcast and Wakefield up and running I will be adding this donate button to the side of the page. Any amount you can contribute is appreciated. This, along with a sponsorship will help me bring you quality, informative, and one of a kind content; and only with a minimum amount of typos!

Thanks for donating! Im at WDW all the time, feel free to ask for a tour, or I would love to interview theme park fans for the Wakefield Report Youtube page!

You guys are the best readers, listeners, and friends a nerd could ask for!

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

This Week in Podcasting August 12-18

WDW Radio Episode 287: On this weeks show Lou is joined by a couple of guests to discuss his recent trip to California to attend Disney’s Destination D event. This is not your typical Lou Mongello, “everything in Disney is great and fantastic” type of show. While Lou still manages to put everything at the event over, he manages to provide a lot of information to his listeners. The usual WDW Radio show is filled with lots of fluff, some information, and Lou making the same jokes about how much he likes food each week. And that is a shame; Lou is very smart, and has a lot of great information about WDW. This week the show is more than tolerable, it is a great listen. This is the only show that I listened to this week, since I cant listen to them all, that covered the evens at Destination D. As usual, the sound production and quality is excellent, and Lou does a decent job at keeping his guest hosts involved in the show. Lou is funny, smart, and this week at least, does a good job at making sure the listener gets the “must hear” information. Give this show a listen, just don’t be surprised if you tune in next week and Lou is singing the praises of Stich’s Great Escape and saying something like, “I wouldn’t change a thing about the Backlot Tour!”     

Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast Episode 37: Kind of your typical UUOP this week, but with a bit of a twist. Lee, Tracey, and Darren continue to be the preeminent voices when it comes to Universal Studios Florida. They keep trucking on this week with their, “Walk the Walk” segment. This weeks show is started off with the news/housekeeping segment. If you ask me, this segment is too long and tends to drag on with duplicated and unneeded information. Don’t get me wrong, the segment is good, but the crew could do a little bit of work to tighten up the segment and make it more efficient. Often times I find myself skipping the first 6 or so minutes of the show where they plug their twitter, facebook, etc… This same information is put at the end of the show. I skip ahead a bit because I know that these guys are so great when they are talking Universal. I get so excited to hear the main topic of the show I simply don’t want to have to listen to the same stuff that is put at the beginning of every single show. The main Walk the Walk segment was ok. And just ok isn’t good enough for this crew. Copying and pasting info from Universals website and just reading it off a paper to your audience is just not entertaining to me. Rarely did the crew expand on their own personal thoughts of the particular attraction or eatery they were talking about; but when they did it was brilliant and wonderful to listen to. I just wish it was more than a simple copy, paste, and read job. The addition of Eric Davis to the team is a big plus. His in park audio is clear, crisp, and fun to listen to. I think UUOP should try a bit harder to think outside of the book. Their interview shows are amazing. I hope that they continue to try to break the mold, and show theme park fans that there is more the Orlando than a Mouse.   

In the Loop Rebooted August 14: When I first heard that this show was being recorded without the helping production hand of host Clint Novak I was a bit cautious to listen. This weeks show is anchored by hosts Legend and Adam. The format of this weeks show is even simpler than the already simple format of Inside the Loop. Clint is not there to produce, so this weeks show is just Legend and Adam chatting to each other about theme parks. No music, no sound effect, no interviews. They do take some phone calls from listeners, and that adds a little to the show. This show was so bare bones and so simple, it was a bit of a nice respite from some of todays over produced, loud shows. don’t get me wrong, Clint is one of my favorite podcast hosts, but this weeks show was a little special. Adam House’s calm manner mixed with Legend’s wit and humor made for a good show this week. News segment was usual as expected and calls were awkward and a bit shallow, as expected. Great show this week, and I welcome Clint’s return next week.

Show of the Week: DIBBcast Xtra 30: Ok, so my first and so far only review of this show was met with lots of confusion, and a little bit of anger. I thought back then, that this shows simple and easy format was great to listen to. And writing my second review of the show a few months later, I still think that. This weeks show is what I have come to expect from the DibbCast XTra crew. They talked about some recent theme park news to start off the show. No distracting and overproduced segment breaks with lots of music and sound effects. As a UK podcast, they seemed to make themselves stand out from the rest. Yes, the news they cover is the same as everyone else in the UK, but their simple and at times, dry approach to the news is easy to listen to. I think some show hosts can sense that they are putting out the same information and segments as every other UK, so they try really hard to make themselves stand out. Sometimes this can backfire on a show. By trying too hard to be funny, or by taking a WDW Fanboy like, “I don’t really care what we are talking about” approach is nothing short of frustrating. This show is simple, and does a great job at getting the information across to the listener. That, to me at least, is why I listen to a podcast. Im not there to listen to you make what you think is a funny joke every 4 minutes. Give me the news, tell me what you think, and for the love of God, don’t put Fantasmic as your background music. The addition of the interview of the DIBBCast crew on Mousechat was a great addition to the show as well. I learned a lot from this weeks show. Again, easy to listen to, great information for the listener, and a simple format is what made this weeks show a great listen. But then again, I am a simpleton, so maybe im not the one you should be turning to for podcast reviews!   

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

From Dreamer to Dreamfinder

From Dreamer to Dreamfinder (Bamboo Forrest Publishing) is the personal memoir from veteran theme park entertainer Ron Schneider. The book is the product of many years of work, success, and challenges. At first glance one might say that Ron is best known for his work as The Dreamfinder, the loveable walk around character from Disney’s EPCOT, but soon after you begin reading this book you begin to realize that there is so much more to Ron than the man who taught many kids in the early to mid-80’s how to dream.
In the book Ron takes you on a journey through the years. He shares his story of growing up a humble Southern California kid who was there for opening day at Disneyland. Young Ron’s love for the Anaheim park quickly grows into an obsession. After years of exploring almost every square inch of the park Ron tells the story of his first time visiting the Golden Horseshoe at Disneyland and how seeing performer and Disney legend Wally Boag would change his life forever. Ron explains, “By the time the show ends, I’m certain of three things: 1) I’ll be returning to the Golden Horseshoe; 2)Wally Boag is my new hero; and 3) someday I’m going to be just like him. Ron’s journey to being “just like him” is a twisting, funny, and fascinating trip through the 60’s and 70’s. From Magic Mountain, to portraying Henry VIII in a dinner theatre in the bowels of a “Satan Room” Ron tells us how he chased and followed his dream; every step of the way picking up, and revolutionizing fundamental tricks of the theme park entertainment trade.

Again, there is so much more to Ron than his brief but important stint as the Dreamfinder. One of the more touching and underrated stories in this book comes at a time when Ron is playing the Old Man of the Mountain at Magic Mountain. Ron’s character is responsible for an entire slew of animals from snakes to an elderly lion named Major. “I’m bending over in front of Major and he bites me on the ass. I whirl around and glare at him. The guests are laughing hysterically but Major acts as if nothing has happened.” When talking to the tame and well trained lion’s handler Ron learns that the bite was merely, “a kiss”. Early on in his life Ron learned that not only did he have a knack for entertaining humans, but even the animals he worked with were fond of him.

                                                        (Photo courtesy of: Ron Schneider)

Even during his days as a Universal Studios tour guide, and a student at LACC, Ron never stopped chasing his dream of performing at the Golden Horseshoe. It is a real testament to his commitment and love for the industry. Ron makes it to the Golden Horseshoe and a few years later, of course, to EPCOT as the Dreamfinder. Even after his days of wandering the imagination pavilion are over Ron continued to entertain masses of theme park goers. One thing that remains the same and holds true throughout this book is that Ron never stopped dreaming. As corny as that sounds, Ron really makes you believe that dreams do come true. If you work hard enough at something, and really hold on to your dreams, you can do anything. And while Ron also shares with us his ups and downs in the book , it is nothing short of inspiring and uplifting to read how resolute and determined Ron is to never let go of that dream.

                                                      (Photo courtesy of: Ron Schneider)

Ron Schneider is so much more than The Dreamfinder, and this book is so much more than a collection of funny stories about lions biting hippies on the ass. This book is about one mans journey to becoming a themed entertainment legend, and how he never settled. Ron even uses the latter portion of his book to share some of his coveted tricks of the trade. Ron’s ability to, “think of your audience as a close friend who’s sitting next to you in a moving car” has won over millions of fans and tons of accolades from his peers. Coming from one nerdy theme park fan in South Florida who never got to meet the Dreamfinder, the Old Man on the Mountain, or Ron Schneider I can say that his story and this book are an amazing example of something the Uncle Walt taught us when we were kids; dreams do come true. Thanks for showing us how to dream Ron.                 

                                                     (Photo courtesy of: Ron Schneider)

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

This Week in Podcasting July 29- August 4

WDW Big Q Episode 10: On the 10th show for WDW Bid Q the crew talks about their favorite sounds at Walt Disney World. The interesting part about this segment though is that the crew is not allowed to play audio of the certain sounds they like. So in an attempt to make this show more interesting the crew is only allowed to make the sound themselves. So instead of playing a clip of the drop on Splash Mountain, they try to make the sound with their mouths…..? Ok, kind of funny, or neat, I guess. Why not just play the clip? While that may be a bad mark against the show, points go to the hosts for keeping this show organized, efficient, and for having decent audio quality. This weeks show clocks in at just under 20 minutes and the single topic/question format keeps the show pretty tight. This weeks show is not the best I have heard in the world of theme park podcasting, but it does show some really good potential. With only being 10 shows in, I am sure this show will grow in the future. The crew seems to have good chemistry and I did enjoy the interaction between the hosts. Since the show is so short, I think it would be worth the 20 minutes of listening.  

The Hub PodcastEpisode 44: This weeks show from The Hub is over two hours long! Who do they think they are, WDWNT?! To start off this weeks podcast the two hosts talk about the recent turmoil between the Disney owned ABC network, and the Modern Family cast. Since this is my first time listening to The Hub, I found myself wondering why this was in a Disney podcast. Wait; is this even a Disney podcast? I guess it is since the next topic the two hosts talk about is the free Magic Kingdom park wide wifi. Whew, I thought I had wondered into a podcast about ABC’s prime time lineup. The hosts of this show are very smart and articulate. They really do know their stuff about the parks, and about how the resorts work. The guys do being up a lot of good points during their talk about the impending infiltration of Starbucks into the Disney parks. while this show lacks the standard segment style structure, the more loose relaxed format allows the two hosts to have a casual back and forth conversation that makes for some really easy listening for the listener. Hosts Aaron and Matt do not get into topics that are too serious and they keep the conversation light. As usual, I am partial to a podcast that gets into Disney history and this show seemed to be void of that. But that is ok, because the hosts still manage to keep the show interesting. Even though this show is kind of cut and dry, it is still a joy to listen to. Sometimes dead simple is better. I could easily see myself listening to this show every week. I do not know if this is the type of format they use for every show, but I do like it; even though I would like to see a bit more Disney history in the show. It seems that’s my answer for every podcast; more Disney history.         

Disney Magic and MoreEpisode 43: This is yet another podcast that strays away from the usual Disney theme park talk, and focuses exclusively on Disney movies. On this weeks show the two hosts discuss the Disney movie Atlantis. I am always a little cautious when listening to shows that only talk about Disney movies; often times they fall into the trap of giving a broad brush and simple recap of the movie and the hosts tend to annoyingly over quote the movie and giggle their way through the entire show. So I found myself wondering if this was going to be that kind of show, or a more mature, insightful podcast. While the hosts do give some great background information on the movie, there still is a good amount of unneeded giggling. While, obviously, its ok for hosts to laugh and have fun during a show, this show is riddled with giggling, and high school like comments and conversation; particularly by the female host. If you listen to the show it sounds like she is just waiting for the other host to stop talking so she can swoop in with a silly comment or giggly joke. She really did not add much information to the show, but rather a less than stellar color commentator who, personally, I wanted to be quiet so the other hosts could bring the show back to order. Don’t get me wrong, its not a bad show, but I found it getting increasingly difficult to listen to because the female host was seriously dragging the show down. I hate to sound so mean and callous, and that’s probably not fair, but she really did make this show kind of hard to listen to. if you are looking for information on Atlantis, you will get it out of this show, you just have to hang in there, and weed through the silly comments and giggling. Id much rather have a podcast host who is so passionate about a topic she giggles and laughs her way through an entire show, than have one who couldn’t care less about a topic that she is just going through the motions. To sum it up; I’m confused, probably a hypocrite, and might give this show a few more listens hoping it gets better.         

SHOW OF THE WEEK: CoasterRadio Episode 644: This is a self-admitted “complainie” show this week from Mike and EB. They share some stories about people inside some of the theme parks that annoy them; this show has potential. A topic like that to a theme park podcast listener is like comfort food. One thing that Mike and EB get into before they hit this topic is they put a call out to their listeners. After explaining that this is the end of another season of the show, they ask their listeners to go onto their website and fill out a survey to help the hosts improve the show for the next season. In the last couple of years of listening to theme park podcast, i’ve never heard this type of request. Most of the time show hosts think their show is perfect and needs no improvement. Trust me, I have enough emails from hosts who were offended that I dare write and suggest that their shows might be slightly less than perfect. With that being said, its good to see that this pair of show hosts are humble and understanding enough to realize that we all can improve and do better. The live trip report in the show is standard fare for the show. Mike and EB had on a guest who recently broke a world record on a Canadian theme park attraction. While I am not the biggest fan of these types of interviews, this segment was pretty good and well worth the listen. Mike and EB do a great job at asking some really good questions from their guest. I am always amazed by the amount of chemistry that Mike and EB have with each other. The guys are funny, quick, and really do a good job of playing off of each other. This weeks show is nothing out of the ordinary from Mike and EB, and that is a good thing. Each and every week these guys put out informative, stellar, funny, and entertaining shows; without a doubt this show is one of the best out there.        

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Saturday, August 4, 2012

July Show of the Month

I gave you, the readers, a chance to vote on which one of the three Shows of the Week from Jult you thought should be Show of the Month. The votes came in via twitter @wakefieldreport and the winner and July Show of the month is.......

Show of the Month: CommucoreWeekly Episode 27: Another sleek, efficient, and fun show to listen to. Like Communcore Online, this show is heavily segment based, which helps the podcaster, and listener to focus on one topic out of time and not feel overwhelmed with information. This is one of the best produced shows out there, and I like the original audio drops between segments. (I know I have said this all before, but it still rings true). This is one of those rare consistent podcasts you can listen to and know what you are going to get, each and every week. When I saw that this weeks history segment was going to be on the now gone EPCOT attraction World of Motion, my ears perked up and I was really looking forward the segment. Thankfully George and Jeff did not disappoint and gave a lot of great information and really got me more interested in World of Motion; hello Youtube! Always funny, and always informative, this segment is quickly becoming one of my favorites in all of podcasting. I just wish it was a little bit longer. The Book of the Week segment is also one of my favorites. As someone who can not get enough Disney history, I find this part of the show not only entertaining, but very useful. One of the best parts about this show is that the hosts do not take the usual topic bait that other podcasts out there take. So when everyone else in the world is talking about Cars Land or Art of Animation, you can always count on Communicore Weekly to have original content.   

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Voting for July Show of the Month

You can now begin voting for the July Show of the Month. You can pick from the three previous Show of the Week winners.

The nominees are:

                                                                   WDWNT Episode 149
                                                              CommucoreWeekly Episode 27
                                                               Disney FilmProject Episode 81
Tweet me your votes @wakefieldreport or go to the Dis Film Project, WDWNT, or Communicore Weekly Facebook page and tell everyone you are voting for them for June Show of the Month!

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