Let's take a look at the new Autopia. This year, the sponsorship changed from Chevron to Honda. I get the impression part of this has to do with Honda vacating Innoventions in favor of the Star Wars Launch Bay (and good riddance....).
First things first, here is the blog post from the Disney Park Blog on the additions: https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2017/04/video-new-look-and-story-for-autopia-at-disneyland-park/
The video has a nice little interview with Imagineer Kim Irvine and great vintage Autopia footage.
Poor Kim, while a brilliant Imagineer (and daughter of Imagineer Leota Toombs Thomas), it seems she's often assigned these jobs where she has to go in and do something to a classic attraction...she was in charge of adding Disney characters to It's a Small World, and Disney Legend Alice Davis noted she did great work on a hard job. But that's another story. (And in the interest of maintaining my sources, I'm pretty sure that quote from Alice comes from Episode 193 of Lou Mongello's WDW Radio Show.)
So, the attraction theoretically has a new paint job, both buildings and vehicles. To be frank, I couldn't tell the colors on the cars were new, they clash so much with the blues of the rest of the attraction. However, I don't know that Autopia has ever been...terribly cohesive...which might be a theme throughout this post.
Also, the new iteration has a couple of new characters. Asimo, the robot who used to have a show in Innoventions. His real cache was that, unlike most robots, he can bend his knees and walk up stairs.
Anyway, for more information, go to Hondo's website for Asimo (here).
Now, the complicated part is that Asimo is joined by a little character called Bird, who is an aesthetically coordinated mechanical bird. Bird actually gives the safety spiel. Problem is, Bird (he? I think he's a he) has a voice that would drive a person to murder. And the Autopia spiel is a little long because you also have to tell people how to drive the vehicle. So, you get to hear this high pitched little character tell you to be safe (and then in Spanish) over and over and over....
...and knitting....and knitting...and knitting... (if you get the reference, comment below!)
Other than that, the ride hasn't changed too much. You go by the cute little vignettes, but if you're focused on driving, you might not even notice.
So, let's take a trip to the photo buffet...
As previously mentioned, the color scheme has shifted. Slowly the blue/silver/white is taking back over Tomorrowland, from the brown of Tomorrowland '98.
The board still plays video, now of Asimo and Bird's travels, with plenty of Disney Easter Eggs. But it was hard to focus with Bird chirping over the speakers.
One thing I loved about the Autopia presented by Chevron was the little displays in this rotunda, showing small sketches using the stop motion cars from the Chevron commercials.
No they've been replaced with video crudely animated to show Asimo and Bird preparing for their road trip.
Now, the video from the Disney Parks Blog shows how the new paint jobs on the cars turned out, with a new color scheme. But like I said earlier, the scheme hasn't really changed. Just a refresh. It looks SO out of place. Though the reds are a little more cherry.
Yes, I took pictures of the wall to see the paint. I do this for YOU people!
Blue and silver.
Asimo is a sloppy trunk packer....
Personally, I can't wait until the Railroad is back up and running. I looked over and...it's a smoking section over in the Tomorrowland Station.
VideoSo, it's hard to drive and take pictures....I found out the hard way it's about as difficult to drive and Periscope....behind a young lady who couldn't figure out that one pedal...(so pardon any yelling).
In all honesty, I thought it would be better to Periscope the drive rather than stop and take pictures. I shouldn't have worried that much!
Should I stay or Should I go?
While a total refurbishment of Tomorrowland is still a little ways down the road, let's chat for a minute about the longevity and necessity of the Autopia.
The original Autopia came about because in the mid-50s because highways were coming into being after WWII. What's more fun than a highway adventure? (Never mind, don't answer that.)
The attraction is from the first day of the park. Its cars were designed by Imagineering Legend Bob Gurr (a fellow left-hander!). It's changed from being one of TWO Autopias (one in Fantasyland and one here in Tomorrowland) to being merged into the longer journey you see today...
It's not exactly a people eater in terms of hourly ride capacity, but adds to the kinetics of Tomorrowland, a world on the move. This attraction, I'm sure, is a conundrum to Imagineering. Keep it or leave it?
I used to think "take it". It's a large footprint in a troubled land. But with Star Wars land on the other side of the park, perhaps there is room for thought.
I saw people of all ages in that line. Not just parents with whiny children. I saw semi-elderly couples getting in together. Young people, teenagers even! There is something to be said for the wide demographic of people willing to ride an attraction where you drive a car...even though you probably drove a car to get to the parks. (My aunt's reasoning for not riding the Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes has always been "Why should I pay my money to make the boat go?")
There is almost something childlike in the appeal of it. You're not fighting traffic, you're not going to work. You're going on an adventure. The car is smaller, YOU are smaller. Everyone is equal in their same little car. You don't have to rush, but please don't bump the person in front of you....
Another thing I'd like to note, is not every ride has to have the same vehicle. Sure, Omnimovers are great. Every ride doesn't need to utilize it. Simulators are great. They make some people sick, though. One of the things that gives ANY Disney park its kinetics is the variety of transport. You see the train, the Main Street vehicles, monorails, etc. Universal has been criticized for using too many screens in their attractions. I would say simulator-based, but they're not usually outright simulators.
We need rides that are different from each other, it's part of the fun.
While I REALLY don't want to lose the Subs (I should do another post about that on its own), but I was previously willing to lose the Autopia. I think Disney can, and should, find a happy medium. Micechat recently reported that Imagineering is trying to find a more permanent solution to the theming problem in Tomorrowland. Once they choose their theme, and the attractions go in, I think a form of the Autopia which mimics the vistas of the PeopleMover wouldn't be a bad idea. Don't just shove the attraction in one area, let it go all over Tomorrowland!
Take my idea, Imagineering, please. It's on me.
Well, that's it for now. If you have any comments or questions, PLEASE feel free to comment below. (Preferably not on the Facebook post announcing the blog post is up. It looks lonely over here!)
With all the news trickling in about the D23 Expo, if you all want updates before I even go, ALSO go ahead and comment. I won't have a press pass or anything, I'm still technically a Disney blogging civilian, so we'll see how things go.
See y'all soon!