Welcome to the next edition of Disney Extinct Attractions! My name is Cole Geryak, and I’ll be your director of the unofficial film we’ll watch today!
Sorry, it took me a little bit more than a week to get this post out, but I’ve been absolutely swamped with school work and a bunch of other activities. Also, I apologize about the quality of the first few images, but I couldn’t find any at a higher resolution. Other than that hopefully, I can make this post worth the wait!
Speaking of waiting, we finally got some more news about when new attractions (like Frozen Ever After) will be opening at Walt Disney World, and details about the new Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land! This article provides a pretty solid overview of everything Disney talked about, but one thing I want to add that I couldn’t see in the article is that Frozen Ever After will definitely open in Summer 2016 (hopefully June), so get ready to ride it for the first time in forever!
I think that meme really sums up how a lot of people think about Frozen right now (except me if you couldn’t tell!), so now we’ll move on to a few more Disney Animated Classics, starting with another classic that lost some color over time, Pocahontas.
Pocahontas opened in theaters on June 23, 1995 to a mixed reception from critics, but audiences loved it, with the movie becoming the 5th largest movie of the year (in terms of worldwide gross). Because the movie did so well at the box office, Walt Disney Imagineering obviously seized the opportunity to capitalize on it within the parks and promptly proceeded to produce some shows focusing on Pocahontas. One of those was the Spirit of Pocahontas in Disneyland (which will be discussed at a later time, don’t worry!), but the one that I’m going to focus on now was called Pocahontas le Spectacle and appeared at Disneyland Paris.
Opening on May 12, 1996 in the Chaparral Theater in Frontierland. Pocahontas le Spectacle brought the story of Pocahontas to life in a manner that involved the audience in a way unique to Parisian audiences, but similar to Walt Disney World fans.
I’m sure many of you have seen the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular in Disney’s Hollywood Studios before (this isn’t a side track, I promise!).
For those of you who haven’t, the basic premise of the show is that you get to watch the “filming” of the stunt sequences from Raiders of the Lost Ark with the “director” and other “crew members” talking you through the entire filmmaking process. There is also some more explicit audience participation where people are chosen to be extras in the show and get to go on “set” during one of the scenes. Overall, I think it’s a fascinating idea to involve the guests in the show both actively and passively, especially through the idea of being able to watch something being filmed!
Clearly, the Imagineers behind Pocahontas le Spectacle thought so as well because the show takes a lot of cues from the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. Guests had the opportunity to watch the “filming” of the movie Pocahontas, and some volunteers would be asked to take the stage as extras. I think it was really smart of the Imagineers to take a winning formula that they had found with the stunt show and apply it to a different genre of show, one with an emphasis on musical performances. The format of the show really helps the show stand out from the typical fare that on sees at a Disney park, especially one inspired by a Disney Animated Classic.
One other thing that I really thought set the show apart was its stage.
As you can see above, the show took place completely outdoors, and the set really has that feel to it. The stage also fits the theme of Frontierland really well, with its use of trees and rockwock to create a more rustic environment. Furthermore, the production truly utilizes every inch of area that it has, even using places that you wouldn’t expect objects to be coming into or out of! To find out what I mean, you’ll have to check out the video of the show found right here (advice:the actual shows starts around minute 5). Don’t worry about not understanding it either because the whole show is done in a combination of English and French, but in a way that doesn’t leave guests feeling out of the loop if they only understand one.
Overall, I thought that while the attraction was certainly unique and fun to watch, Disney’s greatest show ever, it was not. Ultimately, its unique nature (pun intended) could not save it, and the show’s run ended on August 29, 1999. It closed because Pocahontas was not becoming as beloved of a Disney Animated Classic as many Disney executives hoped, so it was deemed time for a different adaptation of a Classic to swing on into the theater.
Tarzan: The Encounter opened in Disneyland Paris on April 1, 2000 in a renovated Chaparral Stage that made the entire show indoors. One quick note about the show that applies to Pocahontas le Spectacle, too, is that the shows were seasonal, primarily playing in the summer months when it was warmer, and there was no snow to worry about. I’m pretty sure that most of the readers of this blog predominantly frequent Disneyland and Walt Disney World, with few trips to the international parks, so snow seems like a foreign element (double pun intended) at the parks.
But as you can see from this picture of Phantom Manor, it certainly exists within Disneyland Paris, so some attractions cannot function in the winter months and have to be seasonal (Pocahontas le Spectacle), while others remain seasonal simply for cost reasons (Tarzan: The Encounter).
Anyway, I feel in love with Tarzan: The Encounter! So much so that it is one of the five most entertaining Disney shows that I have ever seen! It was so different than any show that I had ever seen Disney produce, in that it felt like a Disney version of Cirque du Soleil. There is a constant sense of motion and music throughout the entire show, with the show never stopping or lagging. It kept me hooked from the very beginning, and I know I suggest watching all of the videos I post, but this one I recommend more than any of the others so far! So you can watch it right here or here or even here. (Now I’m worried I hyped it up too much!)
The entire experience is extremely visual, but that does not mean that Phil Collins’ superb soundtrack is left out! In fact, the whole show hinges around the songs, and the performers do a great job of helping all of them come to life. But the coolest thing about the show’s soundtrack is that Phil Collins rerecorded the songs to incorporate the English, German, Spanish, and French languages and the combination of them all is absolutely perfect (I got chills at some points).
In case you couldn’t tell by this point, I really think Tarzan: The Encounter was a fantastic show, so I’m pretty bummed that the attraction closed in 2008 (no exact date could be found). Actually it was closed, but fans managed to bring it back from June 11, 2011 until some time in 2012 (again no date).There is almost no information about its closure and the fact that nothing replaced it in the theater until 2015 truly perplexes me. If fans obviously loved it enough for them to revive the show for a little while, it’s very unclear as to why they let the theater sit empty for 3 years when they could’ve had an amazing show there! I’m sorry I can’t give y’all a definitive answer this confuzzling management decision either!
So with that mystery stuck in your mind now, the post has to come to a close sadly enough.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t get excited for the next post! I expect I will have another busy week, but I’ll do my best to have it out within a week. Without further ado, here are your three clues to the next attraction!
1. This attraction has been mentioned in a previous post on this blog.
2. This attraction only existed in one park.
3. This attraction was open for less than three years.
As always, I love hearing your feedback about your thoughts on the blog! Keep sending me ideas for attractions you would like to hear about, as well. In fact, this post happened because something asked to hear about an attraction from Disneyland Paris, so I really do listen to what you all want to hear about! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, join the Facebook Group to get updates on when future posts are put up and fun tidbits about the parks that I find!
Hope you enjoyed the post and have a magical day!