Right off the bat you may be thinking, “What a hypocrite!” I said that this blog would focus on highlighting all of the other wonderfully strange things that Orlando has to offer besides the theme parks, and here’s my first post: about the theme parks.
But I had a good reason – truly! I had to say goodbye to two of my favorite rides: The Studio Backlot Tour at Hollywood Studios, and Maelstrom at Epcot.
If you’re just hearing about these ride closures, you still have (a little bit of) time! Backlot won’t close until September 27th, and Maelstrom will make its final departure on October 5th of this year. It’s not yet known what will replace the beloved Backlot area: several rumors abound, including the expansion of the Pixar section and the creation of Cars Land, but Norway’s loveable boat ride through history will soon be home to yet another “Frozen” themed attraction. Perhaps by 2016 Disney will realize they have over-commercialized the Snow Queen story to the point of death, and #IBelieveInEpcot campaigners will successfully resurrect the Maelstrom.
But I digress.
I was sad when I heard about the Maelstrom, but my heart truly broke when I heard that Backlot was closing this past weekend. “Why do you care so much about these rides?” you might be wondering – the simple answer is, I remember them best (a.k.a., they scared the ever-loving-crap out of me as a child, and have since held a special place in my heart).
I wasn’t the kid who flocked to take pictures with characters and cared for the immersion of The Magic Kingdom. I was always interested in how things were made, how things have changed over time, and overall just loved to learn. The Backlot tour was one of my favorite rides because it gave me a glimpse into how movies were made; every time I got off that ride, I dreamed about the day I’d be working behind the scenes on my very first movie.
I remember when the tour was given by a castmember, and how disappointed I was when they changed to the bland recording girl that no longer made jokes. I remember learning about using optical illusion techniques in movie making from that ride. I remember freaking out the first time in Catastrophe Canyon, thinking that we’d gone off track, the ride exploded, and we were all about to die. I remember each time getting off the ride and oogling the items cased in exhibition room at the conclusion of the tour; on my most recent visit, they had replicas from “Gone With The Wind” and movie props from “Titanic.” The Backlot Tour was the first ride my fiancé and I went on the day we got engaged.
I remember being fascinated with Norway, because to my little-kid-eyes, that pavilion was the prettiest (and most interesting). I remember not being freaked out by “going back over the falls,” but by the sheer amount of trolls that were in the gift shop at the end. I remember loving those castmember’s accents best. I remember loving every minute of the cheesy Spirit of Norway movie every single time I saw it – in fact, as a kid, I made myself believe that I was Norwegian (now that I think about it, that’s successful propaganda, isn’t it?).
I can’t imagine the send-off these rides will get on their final days. I’d love to see, but I’m not too hip on crowds. All I can do now is cherish the memories and hope for the best.