April 19th Disney Parks Update: How Disney’s New Fifth Key Will and Won’t Impact Parks
How do you feel about the Stretching Room’s scariest element? Have you missed a macabre painting at Haunted Mansion?
Everything’s on the table this week as Disney plots the future for some of its most iconic attractions.
Respecting the Past AND the Customer
The Walt Disney Company recently added a Fifth Key, a monumental decision for such a world-renowned company. The new key is Inclusion. Park officials have committed to Inclusion by taking a hard look at some beloved attractions and making tough decisions.
You already know that Disney will re-theme Splash Mountain to The Princess and the Frog. Work is similarly underway at Jungle Cruise, where the ride will feature new storyline elements. Simultaneously, the sets will move away from culturally inappropriate representations. Some of those changes have already occurred. Trader Sam is no longer visible at Magic Kingdom’s version of Jungle Cruise. Also, the rhino pole is no more, meaning nobody else will get the point in the end. This past week, Disney disassembled several other set pieces, notably the shipping office. You’ve stared at this area many times as you’ve awaited your boat ride. Now, some items have vanished, presumably for good. Others have moved to the forefront as Disney plots the ride’s new narrative.
Haunted Mansion Changes
At Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, we knew that changes were underway. One of them involves the return of Marc Davis’s April to December painting. That’s the image where the beautiful woman changes into a hideous crone. I’d also presumed Disney removed it due to concerns about sexism, but that’s apparently wrong. It’s back!
Conversely, a staple of the Stretching Room may go away forever. In an LA Times interview, a park official confirmed that Disney may remove the Hanging Corpse. The intent of this sight gag is to establish the fate of the narrator, the Ghost Host. Unfortunately, this imagery also stirs feelings regarding suicide and comes with associations to lynching. Neither of those things is very Disney. I suspect the Hanging Corpse goes away soon.
Other Park Updates for the Week
Let’s start with a change at ride photo displays. The monitors have recently added watermarks, preventing guests from capturing images with their phones. Disney has obviously done this to increase PhotoPass sales, which seem redundant without the watermarks.
Next, I’ve got a more extensive update coming about this, but admission tickets and Park Passes are now available for Disneyland’s reopening. The first day of booking was something of a disaster, as we’ve come to expect from Disney tech. Potential guests got stuck in the online waiting queue for hours on end. Some vloggers were livestreaming from the parks and kept showing the seemingly frozen screen. All the ones I saw were unable to book on opening day. Others proved more fortunate, as Disneyland Resort has already doled out all its Park Passes at both gates.
If you plan to visit Disneyland Resort anytime soon, I’d strongly encourage you to go online and schedule your trip immediately. Otherwise, you risk getting shut out completely, and I’m not being hyperbolic. Demand vastly surpasses supply at the moment. At Walt Disney World, I’m tracking a curiosity. Social media mavens have posted photos of at least two missing handwashing stations.
While these stations may have malfunctioned, it’s also possible that Disney is gradually phasing out some of its handwashing areas due to lack of need/want. Similarly, cast members are now seating more guests on some boat rides. The ones with five rows load three of them instead of two now. That, too, seems like an indicator that Disney is growing more confident about the end of the pandemic.
Of course, the one thing we’re all awaiting is the return of fireworks. While we wait, here’s this video to fill the void and bring you some joy: