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185: 20 Animal Kingdom Facts We Love

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is turning 20 years old! To celebrate, we’ve put together a list of 20 of our favorite fun facts about Walt Disney World’s youngest park, from hidden details we love, to engineering feats that set the park apart from all other theme parks.

But that’s not all. Animal Kingdom takes center stage in our other segments as well, including “Munchies & Merch” and “Take Five.” It’s our wildest episode yet. Tune in now!

Are you on social media? We’d love for you to connect with us on Facebook (/madchatterspodcast), Instagram (@madchatters), and Twitter (@MadChatters). Or, send your emails to comments@madchatters.net. Thanks for listening!

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176: Disney Storytelling – 9 Walt Disney World Attractions and Their Fictional Backstories

Did you know Big Thunder Mountain is located in the town of Tumbleweed and sits on Native American burial ground? Or that the steam train you board before riding Expedition Everest once transported tea for the Royal Anandapur Tea Company? Disney is all about storytelling. Sometimes understanding the story is easy, but other times it requires a bit of digging. Enter our latest episode…

On show 176 we highlight nine Walt Disney World attractions and share the fictional stories you become part of whenever you ride them. Rides discussed include Kali River Rapids, the Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, and more!

Plus, we play a round of “Where in WDW Am I?” and we do some Armchair Imagineering by giving Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster a brand new overlay. Come join the fun!

Are you on social media? We’d love for you to connect with us on Facebook (/madchatterspodcast), Instagram (@madchatters), and Twitter (@MadChatters). Or, send your emails to comments@madchatters.net. Thanks for listening!

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93: Overlay or Over-nay? – Evaluating Disney’s Shoehorning Strategy

What used to be Maelstrom is now Frozen Ever After. The original show Rivers of Light has been put on hold, and a “Jungle Book” show has debuted in its place. Now, rumors are flying that attractions like Mission: SPACE and Tower of Terror will be given “Guardians of the Galaxy” overlays. Is the age of original attractions over?

On this week’s show, we dive in to the topic of Disney overlays and share our thoughts on this latest trend. Then, with our tongues firmly in our cheeks, we each give five ideas for how to either improve or ruin current Walt Disney World attractions by overlaying them with Disney films and characters.

In the segment “Munchies and Merch,” we discuss the food items and merchandise at the parks that have our attention. Plus, we play “Take 5,” a game in which we use just five words to express our feelings on categories such as the weather in July and what the Maelstrom trolls are up to now. A bit of fun and a whole bunch of silliness await on episode 93 of The Mad Chatters Podcast!

Have you reviewed us on iTunes? If not, we’d love if you would rate us and let others know about our show. It’s an easy way you can help out. We also want you to connect with us online! Find us on Instagram (@madchatters), Twitter (@MadChatters), and Facebook (@madchatterspodcast). Or you can email us at comments@madchatters.net.

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68: Do This, Not That (Animal Kingdom)

This week we continue our “Do This, Not That” series, in which we share our tips for what can’t be missed at Walt Disney World . . . and what can be skipped if pressed for time. In this episode, we share our tips for the must-do restaurants, experiences, and rides at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, as well as the elements of the park we’d bypass if we had a choice.

In another Mad Chatter Top 10, we count down the Top 10 Signs You’re at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2016. Plus, we discuss the latest round of closings at Disneyland, and in the Mad Chatter game, “In a World,” we guess the Disney film based on its horror-fied synopsis. Come join the discussion and the fun!

For more of the Mad Chatters, connect with us on Twitter (@MadChatters) and Facebook (/madchatterspodcast). You can also send your feedback, questions, and more to comments@madchatters.net. Thanks for listening!

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36: Top 5 Attractions in Need of Refurbishment

Refurbishment, change, an overhaul, TLC… Whatever you want to call it, some attractions need a bit of love. This week we count down the five attractions at Walt Disney World that need the most attention. We don’t want to see them go; we just want them to reach their potential.

On the subject of refurbishments, we discuss the recent changes that were made to The Great Movie Ride, including a new pre-show and a new finale montage. Also in the news, we talk about Orange Bird’s triumphant return and whether or not Tomorrowland‘s box office is to blame for Tron 3‘s demise.

In “Eating Around the World” we review Whispering Canyon Cafe at Wilderness Lodge. Plus, we share our latest Disney obsessions in “The Disney Fix.” Come join the conversation!

For more of the Chatters, like us on Facebook (/madchatterspodcast), follow us on Twitter (@MadChatters), or send an email to comments@madchatters.net.

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Alas, Poor Yeti, We Knew Thee… Not Very Well at All Actually

Expedition-Everest-Yeti-783404

I remember catching my very first glimpse of the concept art for the newest major thrill attraction coming to Walt Disney World in the now discontinued Disney Magazine. A new “roller coaster-type attraction” was on the horizon for Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Expedition Everest.

I can remember imagining all the excitement such an attraction would bring. Immense, highly detailed, and thrilling, Expedition Everest promised great things for a park in great need of something spectacular.

Indeed, Expedition Everest was going to offer fans everything they had come to love about Walt Disney World attractions. At the top of this list was the news that Expedition Everest would feature the fastest, most fluid, largest, and most advanced animatronic figure of all time, a twenty-five foot tall Yeti; the mythic Himalayan version of the abominable snowman, the guardian of the mountains.

I mentioned in Episode 6 of the Mad Chatters Podcast that there was a TV special that featured an extensive look into the making of Expedition Everest and the highly anticipated Yeti. Since that episode, I did a bit of searching and found the full Discovery Channel special entitled, “Building a Thrill Ride: Expedition Everest.”  I’ve included it below. The portion about the Yeti begins near the 30-minute mark,

Disney went to great lengths to be sure that the general public was very aware of the Yeti, now clearly billed as the hands-down highlight of the new attraction.

To see the Yeti in its original and full glory, watch this video below:

Having experienced A-Mode Yeti several times, I can tell you that it was quite terrifying. The train slows just a bit as you enter that last cavern, and you hear an ungodly roar just before you turn the corner to see this huge, 25-foot monster glaring at you. Well lit and fluid as ever, you’d have sworn his huge five-foot diameter hands came within inches of the train as he literally lunged at the vehicle.

The coaster was great, but it was this climactic moment that left you breathless when the train came to a halt in the station. You really felt as if you had just escaped the Yeti’s terrible claws.

However, after only a year (give or take a few months), the famed, longed for, highly anticipated, insanely advanced Yeti animatronic entered a non-moving, immobile state now known unaffectionately as “Disco Yeti.” Also known as “B-Mode,” Disco Yeti was dubbed as such because that terrifying, free flowing, lunging Yeti is no more. In its place is a still figure, barely lit except by the occasional strobe that is so quick, it is easily confused with your on-ride photo-op.

For the last seven years of the attraction’s existence (essentially the vast majority of the coaster’s life), the Yeti, the prize of Disney Imagineering at the time, has not been operational.

The first logo to be released for Expedition Everest featured a mountain peak-looking focal point, which upon closer look also doubles as the Yeti’s furry head, the two “e”s in the wordage composing two red, glowing eyes.

Expedition_Everest_logo.svg

You will do well to find any remnant of this logo today.

Also, earlier advertisement for the attraction was heavy on the Yeti. It promised a certain encounter with “The Guardian of the Forbidden Mountain,” and clearly billed that encounter as the highlight and climax of the ride.

Newer advertisements still feature the Yeti, but are quick to use phrases like “glimpse” and “watch out for,” rather than “encounter.”

The prevailing ruling on why the Yeti no longer works in full A-Mode is that the Yeti figure itself moves so powerfully and so forcefully it needed its own compartmentalized section of show building to withstand the pressure. Apparently, even the foundation of this structure began to crack and wear with the ever-forceful (and impressive) lunge of the immense figure. It was seemingly deemed unsafe for full use.

“Why so long to fix?” That was my question as well. Now that you’ve spent millions of dollars on an attraction that was to feature this game-changing figure… why let it rot in “Disco Mode” for seven years?

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park opened in 1998 to much commercial fanfare, but aside from the massive Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction and Dinosaur (then called “Countdown to Extinction”), the park didn’t have much in the way of ride-type attractions. The arrival of Kali River Rapids soon after the park’s opening gave a small bump in that direction, but it wasn’t until 2006 and the opening of Expedition Everest that Disney gave a loud answer to the demand for more attractions.

That being said, the park still doesn’t have much in the way of serious E-Ticket (top billed) attractions; and with Expedition Everest as the park’s main draw both visually and otherwise, management simply can’t afford to shut it down for the length of time necessary to return the Yeti to its first glory… Unless something large is added to the park.

With the announcement of and groundbreaking for the much-anticipated “Avatar-Land,” now known as “Pandora: The World of Avatar,”  Animal Kingdom is set to receive Walt Disney World’s largest and most comprehensive park expansion to date.

Speculation seems to agree that when this large expansion opens in 2017, offering a whole new land and several new major attractions to enjoy, Expedition Everest will receive some long overdue TLC.

Here’s hoping that when the big flying dinosaur things and naked blue people finally arrive, they’ll bring a new Yeti with them!