Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Mexico, Schmexico -- They're All Latin!

That's what Disney seems to be thinking when it comes to a renovation of the Rio del Tiempo ride in the Mexico pavilion.

Word is out that Disney is planning a refurbishment, and the long-rumored plan is for Imagineers to base an updated ride on the 1944 Disney animated movie The Three Caballeros.

There's just one little problem: Only one of the three caballeros is actually Mexican, and a good chunk of the movie takes place in Brazil.

The movie was designed to promote good relations with all South American countries. To base a Mexican ride on a project that was inherently Latin but not specifically Mexican is to thumb a corporate nose at understanding what makes each Latin-American country unique. It's a shame to think Disney might stoop to this level just to introduce still more animated characters into Epcot ... a move that the more cynical among us might imagine to be aimed at selling more merchandise, not at actually improving the ride.

Mexico is a beautiful country with a remarkably rich culture that goes all the way back to ancient times. To even imply that a ride aimed at showing off that culture and heritage can be "improved" by adding in some cartoon birds (sorry, Donald, Jose and Panchito, but let's call a bird a bird!) is to ignore the thousands of years of progress and contribution that Mexico has made.

The Rio del Tiempo refurbishment is an opportunity for Imagineers and Disney's park management to show they understand what makes Epcot so special and what it needs to return to its former glory.

Let's hope this rumor is really a rumor, and that Disney won't cheapen Mexico's history and people by adding in some funny cartoons and making yet more Americans and Europeans think that all Latin countries are essentially the same.


Anonymous said...

This has been a rumor for years now. I really hope it isn't true; most people haven't even seen 'The Three Cabelleros', so smearing them in the pavillion is a waste of time & money. Let's hope that Pixar doesn't release a Mexican cartoon anytime soon, because we all know what will follow (see Living Seas redux.)

El Rio Del Tiempo has needed refurbishment for years, but honestly, I admire it's goofy, dated charm. It's one of the only remaining originals at Epcot for sometime, which is great. Has that retro appeal. Sure, it's not an exciting ride, but there's NEVER a wait and it's the most relaxing ride in Disney World (besides TTA in Magic Kingdom.)

Adding cardboard cutouts of a mostly un-Mexican cartoon from the 40s is hardly a suitable update. I honestly don't think this will happen. But if they do decide to finally update 'Rio', Imagineers have a shot to razzle & dazzle by giving this a lot of thought and attention to detail, bringing it into the 21st century with new technology. But they'll probably update this on the cheap (as always) so if that's the case here are a couple recommendations: touch up everything with some new paint, new AAs, better special effects (firework scene), new music and, most of all, NEW FILM FOOTAGE!! Also, I'd like to see more Mayan ruins, etc.

- Mike
Tampa, FL

Anonymous said...

I agree with Epcot82 and with Mike! The ride obviously needs to be updated. I mean, the 1980's people in that film footage just look kind of silly now. But the concept is actually OK, and it is definitely relaxing and makes you think "Wow, maybe I need a trip to Mexico!" It could definitely be improved by teaching us a little bit more about the culture, because I agree Mexico is really cool. It would be great to see Disney do this ride the right way, and show that we actually value Mexico for more than just stereotypical reasons.

John said...

I'm afraid you're in for some disappointment. The new animation is well underway for the attraction and features the three feathery friends.

I agree that if Brazil wants it's own pavilion it should build one. But I think it's possible for the three to focus just on mexico and its history and culture.


Anonymous said...

I think it is more about appropriateness than possibility. The Future World pavilions are bad enough, but that is a different ballgame. This character invasion says one of two things to me: (1) There isn't enough exciting about these areas of innovation or culture, so we need to add characters for people to be interested or (2) that people don't care about these things, so baseline character presentation is the only way to get people in the doors. Eitehr way seems like a very strong slap in the face, especially for a culture.

Epcot82 said...

Wow. To imagine there "isn't enough exciting about these areas of innovation or culture," as spot on as your assessment might be in the eyes of Disney and Imagineers, is a chilling thought. I just saw a bus ad this morning for Mexico, one I assume is part of a campaign by its tourism bureau. "Beyond your expectations," it reads. With travel up around the world, it is hard to imagine that there wouldn't be "enough exciting" about the world.

Likewise, as newspapers and magazines continue to add technology sections and the latest technologies make it onto the national news, it seems technology is more a part of our lives than ever, and that people would be quite curious to see what lies ahead.

The real possibility, in my mind, is that Disney just doesn't know how to make it interesting and appealing anymore ... and that says more about Disney than society's attitudes!

Epcot82 said...

John, if that's true, then I guess it's just one more reason to sit at home with my books and videos of the EPCOT Center that could have been and instead actually travel the globe myself to discover new cultures and visit my local science/discovery center to learn about technology and science matters. These days, the center up the street is doing a much better (and, based on the attendance I've seen) more successful job at the goal Disney once set for itself.

Ironically, with prices at Walt Disney World being what they are, it is almost as expensive to see the world myself than go to Florida ... and when I learn about a country, I do so with authenticity and integrity, and I'm not forced to consume Disney "content" while doing it.

Is it really that hard for Imagineers and theme-park managers to understand that EPCOT was intended to be and deserves to be an experience that is different than The Magic Kingdom?

Anonymous said...

Do you think that the average WDW guest has ever seen The Three Caballeros, let alone knows that only one of them is Mexican and that the story largely takes place in Brazil? Heck, I haven't seen the movie since I was a little girl. I didn't know that.

I am all about preserving the good EPCOT. Honestly. That's my thing. But nobody rides El Rio. If The Three Caballeros will get people on the ride and maybe spark an interest in Mexican culture, then great!

My feelings are the same on the Nemo takeover of the Living Seas. The pavilion was dead. It's alive now thanks to Nemo. If Nemo can get people interested in the ocean, then so be it.

FoxxFur said...

You know, guys, this is one that I'm not against as of yet (kinda makes me wonder what I'm doing here then..), as I planned out something similar years ago that would've left the ride essentially intact, given it a better ending (let's face it, that carousel needs to go) and given the old film and projectors a reason to be digitally cleaned up and restored. That is, this is assuming they did it the way I thought up, which was essentially as a way keep the thing open and running.

Of course this isn't how they're going to do it, I'm sure, but my point is that, if you pull up Three Caballeros and watch it carefully, especially the "Baia" section, then compare that to the romanticsed version of Mexico presented on the ride, you'll notice that Three Caballeros, El Rio del Tiempo, and If You Had Wings are actually aesthetically unified. Yes, that's right, they all present more or less conceptually and stylistically identical entertainments in the form of "travelouges".

I don't think this is a matter of geographic displacement because, to me, Three Caballeros and El Rio more or less capture the same spirit. Furthermore, shouldn't we be celebrating that Disney is dipping into their vast and artistically diverse history and giving us an attraction that will encourage children to actually figgure out who these characters are? I love the Wartime era stuff. Caballeros is tops for me. Caballeros in El Rio del Tiempo makes sense.

Here's another reason not to start a huge panic yet: let's face it, they're not gonna be given too much cash for this. I can tell you that they're also updating the ride control system a'la Pirates. I also think Disney learned their lesson with Imagination and we're not going to see them tearing out existing scenic elements simply because they're doing new stuff next door. So the fact that this won't be too expensive I think is actually the thing that will save much of the atmosphere of the existing ride.

Finally, reality check here: do we really think that adding obscure 40's Disney characters is actually going to cause attendance to pick up on this attraction? It won't. There's not much room for a merchandise push either, or at least a merchandise push that's any more irritating or cheap than the stuff that's currently sold in Mexico. This could be a positive change.

I'm not in favor of "characterization", guys. But I'm not against improving pavillions that haven't had attention in years. Living Seas was in a pathetic state by the time they added Nemo everywhere, and at least people are in there, expirencing that tank again. I'd rather have that than it be bulldozed. What I'm against is "stupidification". That's over at Imagination. That was Food Rocks. That's Test Track. The verdict is out on Rio. But I'm cautiously optimistic.

Anonymous said...

I see a lot of arguments state that the Nemo additions have breathed new life into the Living Seas pavilion, and I have to agree that attracting guests back inside that pavilion is a positive thing. What people seem to overlook is that the pavilion was allowed to languish for years with bits and pieces of the experience stripped away over time. It's no wonder that something new and apparently nicely produced is going to bring back the people. It didn't necessarily need to introduce Nemo.

The issue is not that the original Epcot form of entertainment is not relavant to today's audience and needs these characters to enliven it, it's that in so many cases these wonderful shows have been allowed to become shadows of what they were supposed to be after years of neglect and little upkeep. If El Rio del Tiempo had been updated incrementally over time, with new projection and effects installed, and a new finale and storyline tweaks to keep it fresh, then I doubt that Disney would be making such a brash decision to try to rescue it's ridership today.

Anonymous said...

Foxxfur - well articulated argument. I can definitely see the travelogue parallels between 'Three Cabelleros' and Rio. Your argument does make me feel a little bit better - at least Mexico is getting updated and that's certainly better than tearing it down (R.I.P. Horizons.) As long as they leave the volcano, pyramid and various rock structures intact, I won't feel bad about these changes whatsoever. I do want to take one last ride on that goofy old version though; that song sticks in your head for days!

- Mike

FoxxFur said...

Well, Rio del Tiempo is just about one of the most sublime peices of nonsense ever concocted. I'm not lying when I say it's my favorite thing at EPCOT. I usually affectionatley refer to it as "If You Had 'If You Had Wings'"

And Dean, yes, I agree, and furthermore would state that your argument holds true for EVERYTHING that's been removed from WDW. Imagine if they had sunk money into new exibits for Communicore every year! That was the gross miscalucation on Disney's part on EPCOT - they built attractions which presented ideas and statistics which were factual and cutting edge at opening. But then Disney failed to pony up the cash to keep these things up to date. No wonder they ran off with their tail between their legs and went back to doing "timeless" stuff, like Animal Kingdom.

Epcot82 said...

Well, I can't say much more than has already been said here ... except that I'm still basically opposed to taking a movie that represents all of Latin America, most particularly Brazil (where "Ze" Carioca is still huge), and using it to represent Mexico.

I do have to take exception to the idea that the merchandise in Mexico isn't worthwhile; it's one of the few pavilions where I can invariably find a few items I genuinely want to take home. A stuffed Panchito or Donald in a sombrero wouldn't, ahem, float my boat.

The argument that Disney let EPCOT essentially rot while its attractions became outdated is spot on. But the answer is not to strip the park of everything that made it special -- it's to re-invest in it, to prove, once again, that Disney can do something no one else can do. I would think that would be the sort of challenge that Iger and Lasseter would want the company to take on.

But, apparently, I'd be wrong.

Let's just stuff more cartoon characters in there and call it a day.

Anonymous said...

Any change to El Rio (as long as the "outside" part with the pyramid isn't changed (for the worse), because it is one of the most impressive uses of theming this side of Pirates.) would be an improvement. The whole movie projection thing didn't work. I think it's amazing how much better the effect is in The Seas With Nemo, but there is is done with much more control and a forced perspective that just doesn't exist in El Rio. The first time I went on the ride, I was blown away by the amazing "outside" segment. That tunnel into the mists of time was one of the most dramatic moments on any ride at WDW... Then the ride turns stupid. The entire ride from that point on could be compleatly changed and I wouldn't care. There is almost nothing of redeeming value. If the Three Cabelleros are done properly, then I will be happy. However, if it is the same thing as the current ride with different films, then the ride would still suck. This is one ride where more change is definately better.

Anonymous said...

Remember the dictum to be careful what you wish for. Saying that more cartoon characters if "done properly" are good additions to EPCOT/Epcot is a dangerous statement. Who's to say if it's done properly? Who's to say how much is too much? I'd rather err on the side of letting Disney know that I am AGAINST this idea than encouraging them to experiment with replacing rides that genuinely tried to impart a sense of place and story (no matter how badly they were executed -- I mean, look at Florida's "Pirates of the Caribbean"!) than support the idea that every ride can be improved if we just "kiddify" it.

FoxxFur said...

Three Caballeros doesn't represent all of Latin America. This is obvious from the title characters alone - one for America, one for Brazil, one for Mexico. The locations, actions, and cultural traditions presented in each are unique to that country. Saludos Amigos doesn't represent all of Latin America either - it represents Argentina, Chile, and Brazil. A feature to represent Cuba was planned as well, but dropped.

Neither is the film "most particularly" about Brazil. Although the Baia segment is lengthy and quite extensive, it's one of three large segments in the film: first of Donald, the American, watching films about Latin American birds; then going with Jose to Baia; then Panchito joining them and they all go to Mexico. The Mexican segment itself is really two segments: the travelouge portion, and the "surreal reverie" portion. Although it's easy to forget with all those colors flashing everywhere, the surreal section is also Mexican: they even use "Jesusita"!

I don't deny that the Baia section's three parts are the most memorable parts of the film for most, with their combonation of live action and animation, but it really accounts for only about 20 minutes of the film and the Mexican episode is much, much longer, really an even half of the film. So the argument that using these characters who supposedly represent all of Latin America to represent only Mexico doesn't hold much water for me, as the famous grouping comes from a film which is mostly about Mexico. Would it somehow improve the situation if they were to use only Panchito?

The idea of throwing characters at a problem and making it go away is rather repellant, but if installing those birds into that boat ride means the thing'll be around for another 20 years, I'd rather do it than have Disney just wall up the thing outright, like they did with 20K. That'd be a thousand times more heartbreaking to me, seeing that walled off entrance while dining at San Angel Inn, than whatever they can (realistically now, people!) do to the attraction in just three short months.

As for the shopping expirence inside Mexico itself -- while I find the Animales Fantasticos to be great even if they're not worth the prices they're asking, once you get inside around the fountain it's nothing but cheap instruments, sombreros, and pinatas. Some of the better items a bit further back are offset by the preponderance of garish sarabes and margarita mixes. Arriba Brothers is nice, but the jewelry store that used to be there was nicer, not to mention that the bulk of what you see there can also be found at Magic Kingdom and Downtown Disney. What they're offering in that marketplace is pretty sour and spare these days.

Really, what this is all about is ultimatley that a lot of people are going to chafe at the idea of adding characters into one of the final holdouts of original EPCOT-ness. I agree. I think it's sad. But they're going to do it anyway. And I'd rather see them make a smart decision about matching character with content and buff up the rest than just give up on a tired, creaky and unpopular ride or gut the thing to the studs and turn it into The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh II. I'm trying to be a realist here, not an idealist. Like it or not, there aren't many idealists left at Disney.

Epcot82 said...

FoxxFur, I am glad you are in the discussion and appreciate your thoughts and stand corrected on many of my statements about The Three Caballeros, which were made from memory not from sitting down and watching the movie.

It's great to be a realist, but if "realism" means liking what Disney is doing to cheapen its product, then I'd prefer to stay an idealist. As a shareholder and a fan since childhood, I'm incensed that Disney takes such a short-term view. If there aren't many idealists left at Disney, then Disney needs to clean house. It needs people who will stand up, all the way to the top if necessary, and point out that it's not just wrong to layer in characters, it's absolutely unnecessary. It's the easy way out. It's the coward's way out. It's the way that leads to obsolescence in the long run, not to continued good will.

Would any of us be here -- would we be reading and writing a blog devoted solely to Epcot -- if we hadn't been immediately and forever attracted to the concept and the execution of EPCOT Center some 25 years ago? If it hadn't stuck in our hearts and minds?

But if EPCOT Center had been what it is today -- if Disney characters had been everywhere, if merchandising had been ubiquitous, if the park had been filled with thrill rides and half-empty or closed pavilions (due to lack of sponsors) -- would we have been lifelong fans?

I'll leave that one to you, but I know my answer would be that while I might have enjoyed myself, I wouldn't have begun a lifelong fascination, I wouldn't (this is important from the shareholder standpoint) have gone back over and over again.

I can't be too critical of those who take that "realist" mindset that characters "need" to be added to appeal to the public. I grant you, it's one way to enhance the overall marketability of Epcot.

One way.

Not the right way, not the best way, but one way.

There are so many others. But they are difficult, they require creative thinking from all involved (including guests!), and they demand more time and effort.

So, the easy way wins.

FoxxFur said...

Well, that was written in one of my darker moments.. but sometimes I think it's true.

I'm not sure my mentality is that it's realistic to expect that characters must be added. I think Disney is at its' best without identifiable characters. I guess that back when they closed half of my favorite stuff in the world in just a few short years (20K, Mr. Toad, Dreamflight, World of Motion, Journey Into Imagination), I really have been on the defense ever since in that I'd rather see my sacred cows replaced by stuff that I find value in than just gutted or removed of all is' value. I've stopped saying to myself "well, it shouldn't have been removed" and gone on into the next stage of mourning - taking what I've got and finding it's value.

EPCOT Center was, let's be honest here, probably the most aesthetically unified and brilliantly designed thing to ever come out of Disney. It will probably be that way forever. I occasionally go through depressive fits thinking about EPCOT Center. I'll freely admit that I once found myself driving around listening to "One Little Spark" and sobbing.

Sadly I think EPCOT was simply just too conceptually advanced for most tourists. I really do. I think you once addressed this in your Blog. I think your answer was that, damn the torpedoes, they'll get their learning and like it too. And Disney's response was to just cut the place's balls off. I really wish that Disney would just suddenly spend billions and rebuild Future World as it was in 1983. Rebuild Journey Into Your Imagination. Bulldoze Wonders of Life and rebuild World of Motion. Put Horizons between The Seas & The Land. But I have to be realistic here and I am realistic in saying that I still enjoy Epcot for what it is: a kind of cultural center for Disney. Where else can I watch Arlo Guthrie perform with forced perspective countries in my peripherial vision? =)

I think we can still reach people and teach people using characters as facilitators. I'm hoping this is what they try to do in El Rio. They almost get there in The Nemo Seas, but drop the ball. Regardless it's still a killer aquarium, they still run unique scuba diving tours in there, and now that it's got a new lighting grid the thing looks fantastic.

So please don't misconstrue me saying that "being realistic" means accepting that everything's gonna be characterized. I'm really hoping they make the best out of an awkward situation and come out with something that does justice to the artistic quality of that film and that ride.

Onto nicer subjects, I hope to eventually expand the thesis in my first post about the aesthetic qualities of El Rio, Caballeros, and If You Had Wings into a full article of the kind I just put up about Country Bears over at my blog. Have you seen that one yet?

Epcot82 said...

Can you please post the link to your blog for all of us? (By the way, I have gotten several e-mails -- all requesting anonymity -- from people who say they work for Imagineering lately. Looks like this might be gaining some interest, even if they all agree that the situation there as it exists now is absolutely hopeless.)

You're absolutely right that, in many ways, EPCOT Center represented the best that Disney has ever created. Most look at EPCOT and see what was lost when Walt's vision, without him, wasn't possible to pull off. I have always looked at it as one of the most genuinely brilliant pieces of planning, design, ideas and messaging ever created, and I am unhappily certain it will never be duplicated or matched ... at least, that is, by Disney.

FoxxFur said...

Here's a good quote for EPCOT fans. It was written by Billy Wilder in 1961.

"The situation is hopeless... but not serious."


Kevin Carter said...

I'm in a hurry today, so I'll have to keep this brief. I'm not sure how I feel about this overlay yet. I personally feel that this ride has been a waste since it first opened. As someone else mentioned earlier, the opening to the ride where you ride past the pyramid and into the mists is the most amazing beginning to a ride that I've ever seen. It's a shame that they ran out of any real creativity after that point.

What came after the mists was the biggest joke played on consumers that I had ever seen. What that ride could have been with that intro was amazing, what it became was something that was always demeaning to me as the guest. I felt like they violated one of Walt's greatest principles in "Don't talk down to the guests". I feel like that's what they do to me every time I ride that ride.

I'm not much of a fan of the 3 caballero overlay but it can't be any worse than what is there currently. Maybe they can take the three of them and have them explore Mexico and give insights as we go through. It won't make me love the ride, but maybe it'll be slightly better than it was to begin with.

What I'd love to see is something of a very dark ride through the actual history of Mexico where we go from one show scene to another learning about the history of Mexico until today with a nice narrator voice pulling us along through the rivers of time through Mexican history. If the ride was similar to the beginning of Living with the Land I'd have enjoyed it. I've never liked what it currently is. NEVER.

So while I'm not happy with the decision to put cartoon characters into the ride, I'm also not angry. I'm not, because it's not any more insulting to me as a thinking guest than what occupied that pavilion and the lie that I felt the setup to the ride made to me anyhow.

Captain Schnemo said...

foxxfur: "...if installing those birds into that boat ride means the thing'll be around for another 20 years, I'd rather do it than have Disney just wall up the thing outright, like they did with 20K.

This is a really dangerous line of thinking. First of all, you're creating a false choice between complete closure and "stupidification". Those are two terrible options, and I think you could even argue that the latter is worse since it wastes funds on something which is fundamentally bad and it resets the update clock on attractions, ensuring that the new bad changes will be around for long, long time.

Given Disney's behavior, I don't have any patience for the "at least they didn't close it" argument any more. The new Tiki Room is so horribly insulting that I'd rather they'd just shut it down. Instead they insist on attempting to corrupt my positive memories.

Spending lots of money on bad things is always bad, and should always be met with disapproval.

I'm not going to pay all that dough to visit Lesser of Two Evils World.

Sadly I think EPCOT was simply just too conceptually advanced for most tourists.

I don't think there's any evidence to support that. Even if most tourists wouldn't notice a theme, that would be no reason not to have one. In the past, Disney has always made an effort to cater to everyone from the lowest common denominator to elitist snobs simultaneously. Disney has proven that it's possible to appeal to both, but recently they've stopped trying.

If the greatest praise we can muster is "at least they didn't bulldoze X attraction", it's not even worth making the statement.

The time for giving Disney slack is long over. Things have been too bad on too large of a scale for too long to just accept anything short of total destruction as a win. They've lost the benefit of the doubt.

Anonymous said...

I see a lot of comments here that imply that Disney "ran out of creativity" and really botched El Rio when it opened. Let's not forget that EPCOT was unlike any other undertaking Disney ever did -- the attractions were sponsored, with heavy involvement from the sponsors on every level.

The story I've heard about El Rio is that the Imagineers asked their Mexican sponsors for input, and were told "Can you make a Mexican version of "it's a small world"? So the Imagineers did so, and when they presented the mockup it was approved, with the stipulation that they add a bunch of stock footage from tourist films that Mexico had sitting around. So they added the intro area with all the video screens. That's why you get the incredibly bizarre Aztec battle scenes, the kitchy tourist films, and the salesman selling you crappy junk on the street.

I love it. It's totally goofy and silly, but it's a calm and fun attraction. And it's so low-traffic that last time I went, my group asked if we could stay on the boat and go again, and the hostess laughed and nodded and let us. It's even better the second time!

Epcot82 said...

Were I given a choice to have to experience "Stitch's Great Escape," "The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Managemenet)," "Triceratop Spin," "Sounds Dangerous" or "El Rio del Tiempo" ... guess which I'd choose? Hands down.

Not only is it not demonstrably terrible, like those other rides are, it has much to recommend it, and with just a tiny bit of re-imagineering, my guess is it could become one of the classic Disney dark/water rides ... and it wouldn't even need The Three Caballeros!

Anonymous said...

I would pick Sounds Dangerous hands down. I love the biarual sound technology (and it's definately used better there then in Stitch's Great Escape.) and think it is a good simple attraction that doesn't ask much of the guest and gives a little but of lite entertainment for your time. It doesn't start with an amazing spectical and take a left, misty turn into a stupid travelogue and puppet show about nothing. It sets up low expectations and it delivers. I leave satisfied every time I see Sounds Dangerous. I feel insulted when I get off El Rio.

Epcot82 said...

Not to start a tangential debate here, but not only does "Sounds Dangerous" showcase technology that's no longer exactly new or impressive, it's one of the most forced, least funny "comedy" bits I've seen since "No Deposit, No Return."

I've never gotten off "El Rio" feeling at least a little rested and at least grateful for a few lovely, tranquil moments that -- as old-school and cheesy as they may be -- actually do put me in mind of Mexico.

The ride could be infinitely better, but there are those few moments, which are a few more than I've ever experienced in "Sounds Dangerous" or any of the other rides I mentioned.

But, hey, that's just me!

Anonymous said...

The biaural sound technology has been around for over 50 years. And for the record, I liked No Deposit, No Return when I was younger. It is by no means a great movie, but it is better then some similar movies from that era at Disney. But the key reason I like Sounds Dangerous better then El Rio is that it doesn't tell you it will be good at the begining. It has no pretense whatsoever. It asks literally nothing on it's audience. From opening act to the end, it is consistently medeocre. El Rio starts off amazingly and decends to a mix of parts that don't belong and aren't very good. It's individual segments don't hold a candle to It's A Small World or World of Motion (from what I remember of that.) The only part of any worth is the amazing "outdoor" section which is up there with the best of all imagineered scenes. It is in the begining and foreshadows a ride that doesn't exist.

Anonymous said...

All hail mediocrity!

Don't try something grand and fail, just be consistently mediocre and no one can be disappointed.

What lousy thinking.

Though, come to think of it, it's kind of the thinking that The Walt Disney Company uses on just about everything these days.

Captain Schnemo said...

Personally, I don't see anything terribly wrong with El Rio, except perhaps the out-of-date clothing styles. It certainly encompasses the history and culture of Mexico in a nice way. And even though I haven't been on it for almost 10 years, after reading this discussion last week, I had the song stuck in my head for days!

It's a nice dark ride in a park that had (up until recently) apparently declared war on that type of signature Disney attraction. It's got some decent effects, some nice sets, a catchy song, that great opening and some lasting imagery. And a fair amount of cheese, yes.

Another reason I don't care for the Caballero idea is that it would be attempting to represent a culture with characters who are American interpretations of other cultures. If they must insist on putting cartoon characters where they don't belong, they could at least be Mexican characters.

It's bad case of Borat Syndrome.

Anonymous said...

As a Mexican and former El Rio hostess, I know this ride is tired, boring and desperately needs an update. It's embarrassing, really. The carrousel at the end is just awful (but I do like the firework effect). The song GRATES and lives in your head for days.

But a Three Amigos overlay? Hmmm, not sure how to feel about that. It could be good, or bad, depends on how it's presented.

One thing that does need addressing is the entire Plaza area - way too dark. And cold. It may be a nice respite from hot, sunny Florida for the guests but it is awful to work in. Not only that, but the thing that Mexico is known for is sunshine and what is the one thing lacking in the pavilion? Exactly. Doesn't make sense.

The whole area inside the pyramid is also a wasted space... I could go on. I love the pavilion as it was "the office" for a long time but if there was a chance for a refurb, Mexico desperately needs one. Starting with those awful, awful yellow/green attractions host/ess costumes which remind more of Brazil and flatter NO ONE. The Merch costumes are kinda nice, though (nowhere near as nice as the Norway costumes, those are stunning)

Rant over.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"All hail mediocrity!"

Obviously he doesn't get what I'm saying. I think that Sounds Dangerous is a consistent medeocre show and that El Rio has one amazing scene followed by several scenes of incredibly low magnitude. The ride says it would be one thing and turnes around and does two other things which are vastly inferior. If El Rio was all a Mexican Small World, I would like Sounds Dangerous better, because the Mexican Small World scenes suck, regardless of the fact that they have little/no connection to the themes of the other parts of the ride. I am not celebrating medeocrity, but am instead saying that (medeocre+medeocre+medeocre)/3=medeocre and that (amazing+crap+crap)/3 =bad. medeocre>bad, so Sounds Dangerous wins.

Epcot82 said...

I get what you're saying, but personally I always prefer a creative effort whose creator tries and succeeds at least partially (a novel, a movie, a TV show, a ride) over one whose creator didn't try because s/he really didn't care!

Anonymous said...

I get what you're saying as well. The whole point I think of this is that I would be happy if the redo is well done and improves the current ride, because I think the majority of the ride isn't any good. We are definately disagreeing on this issue, however I think both of us should reserve judgement untill the ride is done with it's redo. Then I may even find myself agreeing with you. However, it is also possible that you may change your mind as well.