This is another Disney Blog by a Disney fan who wants to talk about whatever he wants. Disney related, of course.

Monday, August 20, 2007

O, CircleVision where art thou?

I was reading a press release today from the Canadian Tourism Commission regarding the updates to the CircleVision movie for the Canada Pavilion at Epcot and it made me sad to realize something. There are no longer any CircleVision movies in Disneyland. Not just in that one park but in the entire resort. It is true that they are dwindling at Walt Disney World too, but they still have two.

Tomorrowland used to be home to two fantastic CircleVision movies. You could visit the Wonders of China and American Journeys. You were able to see one movie in the morning and one in the evening. As a child one of my personal favorite features of this attraction was going to the row that had the translation telephones and listening to the narration in different languages. Too bad none of it stuck.

In the waiting room to enter the theater you rarely found a crowd. There was usually a seat available and you could watch the preshow video in a nice air conditioned room. Every few seconds if you looked up and behind the Peoplemover would pass by. This was an appropriate waiting area for the show you were about to see.

As you entered the CircleVision 360 theater you were surrounded by screens. When the movies would start you would be focused on one screen in the front of the theater then as the screens filled in you were immersed in the environment. It felt like you were riding a wagon over a covered bridge in America or floating down the Yangtze River in China. On more than one occasion I had to reach out and grab the lean rail to keep my balance since my senses had been fooled.

Both American Journeys and Wonders of China gave you a broad overview of the scenery of the two countries. They found some of the most beautiful and special places that either country had to offer. There is nothing quite like the experience of watching 360 degrees of beautiful scenery to make you feel like you are there.

In 1997 the CircleVision 360 theater was closed to make way for the Rocket Rod queue. The Rocket Rods opened on May 22, 1998 and closed permanently in September of 2000. This attraction never lived up to expectations with frequent break downs and the fact that you had to slow down at every corner due to lack of banking. It was disturbing that one of the truly unique experiences in the parks was downgraded to a queue. At least this would give Imagineers another chance at righting the wrong that was the Rocket Rods.

Buzz Lightyear Asto Blasters opened in the building on March 17, 2005. While this interactive attraction is fun and I enjoy competing with friends and family for the best score, it has never had that special feeling of a great attraction to me.

Now for anyone wanting to have the CircleVision experience you will have to trek across the country to Walt Disney World and visit Epcot. There you will find two CircleVision movies playing daily. In the China Pavilion you can see Reflections of China and in the Canada Pavilion you will get to see O, Canada. O, Canada has recently had 65% of the film updated and added narration by Martin Short. This update will be debuting soon at Epcot.

I for one can not wait to visit Epcot again and take in the whole experience of these two beautiful countries in CircleVision 360. Seeing these countries in a CircleVision theater is something that all should experience. It embodies the edutainment that Disney and Epcot are famous for.

Disney's California Adventure is about to undergo a major transformation. This would be a great time to bring back the CircleVision 360 theater to California. I think Soarin' is already offers incredible visuals of the varied landscape of California so a new CircleVision movie could explore the details of the Golden State. I personally would love to see American Journeys or Reflections of China back in Disneyland's neighbor across the esplanade. I know that CircleVision is not a new concept, but it would be great to see it in DCA. If it is even on a drawing board in Glendale consider this my vote for the inclusion of a new 360 theater somewhere in the Disneyland Resort.

“Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” - Walt Disney

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In 1990 thru 1997 I had the distinct pleasure of being an attractions host in Tomorrowland in Circlevision. I did work at other attractions but mostly in the "Big Room" as we called it. I can honestly say I enjoyed every minute of my time it that wonderful theater. Even when I was a castmember at the Magic Kingdom I could see the interest in Circlevision with most guests was not very strong. We tried to keep the shows full (850 guests per show, 3 shows per hr.) but sadly, most guests were in line across Tomorrowland at Star Tours or Space Mountain. The guests that did enjoy the theater really liked it... Guests of all ages.once in a while we would notice a guest with tears in their eyes while exiting. Due to the strong patriotic message in the movie. Some castmembers would laugh at them, I felt great pride that the movie was so well done it brought such strong emotion. I'm happy to say that once in a while it even got to my emotions... And I saw it HUNDEREDS of times... I loved each showing.I miss that theater and it's movies to this day.

During my last summer, after the final screening of American Journeys for that evening I had a German couple come up to me. They wanted help in making a call to speak with someone on the phone with their airlines about making flight arrangments to fly home to Germany. Their english wasn't too good and as a Castmember on Circlevision I was happy to help speak with the person on the phone for them. I explained what the situation was to the man with the airlines, he said he spoke German!!! I gave the phone to this young couple,and when they heard the person speaking to them on the phone in their language.... all I can say is that's real Disney magic!...(Thanks Walt) As I would say every night at the end of the last show in Circlevision.... On behalf of all the castmembers at Disneyland Thank You for joining us today, have a pleasant evening and a safe journey home. Good Night!