Theme Park Ranger
10:16 AM EDT, May 10, 2012
Ramblings and a semi-rant of a Theme Park Ranger:
•I can't get over the outpouring of love for Orange Bird, the cartoon character that returned to Magic Kingdom last month. Some Disney fans have been jubilant ever since.
His appeal could be based in his old-school lineage, having been designed specifically for use in Disney World in the early 1970s, but I've overheard teenagers squeal with delight upon approaching his perch at the Adventureland's Sunshine Tree Terrace, where you can once again buy the long-missing, yummy Citrus Swirl treat ("orange slush" with vanilla ice cream).
Orange Bird doesn't appear in Disney films or have much in the Disney vault, except for a couple of record albums, although that's a feat because Orange Bird is mute. Plus, he is tied, via orange-juice commercials, with singer Anita Bryant, which hasn't been a career boost for many.
Yet here we are, four decades later, with Orange Bird pins, sippy cups and Orange Bird T-shirts for sale next to the also-mysterious turkey-leg T's. Coming this summer: mouse-ear hats that look like the top half of Orange Bird's head.
You can't tweet this stuff up.
But I can't help but notice the similarity to Duffy the Disney Bear. Oh, yes, I went there.
Duffy and O.B. were both in the parks (Duffy was then just an unnamed Teddy), faded away, had no real entertainment product, gained popularity in Japan, then returned to fanfare.
But I suspect Duffy gets hate mail. A legion of Disney fans are decidedly, vocally anti-Duffy. "It's like they're trying to shove him down our throats," one Duffy hater told me.
On the other hand, park guests are voting with their pocketbooks and snatching up Duffy merchandise and posing with him at Epcot.
Maybe Duffy needs a better public-relations expert. Or a taste treat — something with berries, perhaps?
•Isn't it startling to see Disney cast members with beards? Men were given the OK for full facial hair in February, but my instinct is still to point them out — with two fingers, of course. It's the Disney way.
•All the Fantasyland talk has overshadowed the re-imagining of Epcot's Test Track attraction, which is set to reopen this fall. Disney hasn't been too specific with the plans, but we do know that the migraine-inducing pre-show will be gone, that the inside-outside speedy part will remain — as will the single-riders line.
•With Universal's Cinematic Spectacular lagoon show now in place, you might wonder if its mesmerizing water screens might be used to horrific effect during Halloween Horror Nights. When Universal officials were asked that during a recent event, the response was somewhere between sheepish and awkward and landed squarely in the "maybe" folder.
And then there's the annual rumor that HHN will take place in both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. I'm still waiting for spooky songs to be added to Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit's soundtrack, so I'll believe it when I see it.
•SeaWorld Orlando's Manta and Kraken roller coasters are part of Travel Channel's upcoming series "Insane Coaster Wars," which debuts July 8. But fans can vote for their favorites online (travelchannel.com) now.
Each episode will cover a different category. Manta is in the "Hang 'em High" program, which airs July 8 (vying against Busch Gardens' Montu and others), while Kraken will be seen July 22 in the "Wrong Way Up" episode.
•Closing with a semi-rant that applies to all of our theme parks' parking situations. Why, dear guests, do you insist on getting out of the car and walking head-on into traffic when one aisle over, it's completely clear and safe for all? Were you raised by wolves?
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