Tuesday, November 15, 2011

(Why Can't Stitch Catch A Break?)

A larger-than-life Stitch at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, 2007.
I recently was reading my AllEars newsletter (something I look forward to weekly), and in passing, the writer expressed her distaste for Stitch's Great Escape (an opinion I vehemently share). That really got me thinking about the little blue alien. Ah, Stitch. You are, without a doubt, one of my all-time favorite Disney characters. Your movie is fantastic, your hometown is enviable, and we both share a deep love of The King. And yet, we just can't seem to find a place for you, can we? Let's review the planet-sized failures (and perhaps some victories) of Experiment 626.

First and foremost, there is Stitch's Great Escape! What is pretty much a fail on its own is made even worse by the fact that it replaced one of the most beloved attractions in the Magic Kingdom. The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter was terrifying, and definitely not for children. But it was one of the best experiences the Magic Kingdom ever had and will ever have. I do understand the need to scrap it, because perhaps the Magic Kingdom really isn't the best place for blood-curdling screams and human-eating aliens to inhabit. Still, I lament the loss and wish that somehow the attraction could have been moved to Hollywood Studios, where it certainly would have been much more at home (and put that alien in the Great Movie Ride to shame). Instead, what replaced the terror, along with my dear friend Skippy, is one of the greatest disappointments in all of Disney's history.

Downtown Disney, 2005.

It started out rather cute. On my visit in the early spring of 2005, Stitch was on the loose in Downtown Disney. He crashed a van into a tree and left the evidence behind. NOTHING TO SEE HERE the signs around the crime scene said, with Wanted posters scattered around the area. It was a fantastic tie-in, in my opinion, to the new attraction in the Magic Kingdom. It showcased Stitch as we all know him, a mischievous little devil, wreaking havoc throughout the resort. I was impressed with the playfulness of it all. Moving into the Magic Kingdom however, is where the issue really begins. I think what Disney really did wrong was not scrapping the entire Alien Encounter attraction. Stitch may have had a better chance of obtaining his due popularity in his own right if the Imagineers had started over and built something just for him. You can't replace one of the greatest attractions in Disney history with something mediocre yet so similar and expect it to work, though it did seem to make sense at the time. Even the Cast Members working there aren't feeling it. Still, Stitch's Great Escape! remains. I'm not sure that it's high on the list of priorities right now, especially with the attraction across the way being so popular (The Laugh Floor Comedy Club is counted among my new favorites). We will just have to wait and see what Stitch's fate in the Magic Kingdom will be - I know I am not the only one who has made my distaste for this attraction apparent, and the lack of wait times tend to say it all.

Stitch's Supersonic Celebration, May 2009.

In the Spring of 2009, Stitch struck again in the Magic Kingdom, and unfortunately his luck wasn't any better. Stitch's Supersonic Celebration was a high-energy dance party featuring technology used in the uber-popular Turtle Talk with Crush over in the Animal Kingdom. The technology has been very successful, also being used in the Laugh Floor Comedy Club and entertaining guests young and old. So why didn't this show work? I'm not sure exactly. For one, this particular area of the Magic Kingdom doesn't seem to be all that high-traffic (like say, the stage in front of the castle). Also, perhaps many of our Disney kids don't like to listen to Elvis (crazy, I know). Perhaps the downfall of it all is that the show was 25 minutes long, which tends to be fairly lengthy when there are no seats and space is extremely limited. Whatever the reason, it just didn't work and Stitch's time dressing in Elvis attire was over soon after it began.

photo courtesy of Flickr

Now here is a place that Stitch can really call home. The 'Ohana restaurant, nestled in the Luxurious Polynesian resort, holds a Best Friends Breakfast every morning featuring Lilo & Stitch. What better place to host a meal than one reflecting your native Hawaii? I have not been to the breakfast myself, but have been told good things - this is a highly successful dining option for the Polynesian. Score one for the Stitchmeister.

Animal Kingdom, May 2010.

Another sunny moment for Stitch are his character outings. People love to see Lilo & Stitch while they are wandering around the parks, and lines to meet them are frequently long. In the above photo, J and I are posing with our friends in the Animal Kingdom. My question is this - what do Lilo & Stitch have to do with the Animal Kingdom? This one puzzles me. Nonetheless, squealing park visitors were delighted to see the duo out and about. Another high note for Stitch.

Downtown Disney, 2010.

Downtown Disney is quite possibly my favorite place for Stitch, and one of the most delightful. Sure, he's not "in the flesh" here, but he's up to his same old tricks. Stitch sits atop one of the entrances to the enormous World of Disney, daring anyone to try and avoid getting wet as they move forward! I have seen many park guests just standing outside, waiting to get a little dose of alien spit in the hot Florida sun. It's fun, it's colorful, and it really plays up to Stitch's character. I mean you wouldn't see Cinderella spitting on guests, now would you? 626 scores again!

So, I guess when you think about it, Stitch doesn't fare well with his own attraction. Maybe he'll land one some day, but I sort of doubt it (I hope to come back here in 5 years and have to correct myself). This doesn't mean that the little alien doesn't have love. He delights park guests in many ways day in and day out. Headlining just isn't his thing, at least for now.

Where do YOU think Stitch's place is in the Disney parks? Do you miss the Alien Encounter as much as I do? Tell me all about it!

Happy Mischief-Making!

No comments:

Post a Comment