Two examples from the Crystal Palace, which sits on the Adventureland side of the Hub; notice the tropical palms and fronds already starting to transition us into Adventureland are echoed in the flowery, organic design of the lamps. Like everything else on the Crystal Palace, these are polished brass and quite beautiful.
While WED could have simply re-used the Hospitality House lamps here for the same effect, they didn't. The more open, twisting nature of these lamps brings to mind gardens and vines instead of the stoic, dense details used on Main Street. At the Magic Kingdom, the Hub really is its own land, with its own meanings, quite distinct from Main Street...
...Once past the Tiki Room, these Caribbean Plaza streetlights appear. There's about twelve of these lining the street headed towards Pirates of the Caribbean, and they're a nice transitional feature, preparing us for the Spanish colonial setting even before the whitewashed plaster, iron railings and tile roofs appear...
...There is a small area in Liberty Square dividing Frontierland from the rest of the land which is intended to recall St. Louis - "The Gateway to the Frontier" - immediately surrounding the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon. This elaborate light, near an exit to the saloon and right at the border nicely straddles the line between the Frontierland kerosene lamps and the Liberty Square colonial lights, as well as echoing the Adventureland Veranda Breezeway lights seen in Part One. It's quite an elaborate "hero" light, straddling three times and places effortlessly.
Disney parks aren't about having the biggest roller coasters. They're about the whole experience. Not the whole experience while on the ride, the whole experience from the time you set foot inside the gate.
I tried explaining this to a coworker once, but I think she took it wrong and thought I sounded snobby or something: For example, you go to Six Flags, and you have a big roller coaster with a chain link fence around it. There's probably a sign out front with the name of the ride on it, but overall it feels a bit industrial. But that's ok, because the whole point is to ride a bigass roller coaster with extreme thrills.
At a Disney park, the coaster isn't that huge, and it's not that extreme. But the coaster and the environment surrounding it are carefully crafted to make you feel like you're in another place. The Expedition Everest coaster is carefully themed to make you feel like you're traveling to Mount Everest in search of the mysterious Yeti. The queue area looks like a base camp mixed with Tibetan style buildings and decor. Your coaster looks like a mountain train. The ride itself doesn't go super fast or go upside down, but you go around a curve and it looks like the track is broken, then the train stops, reverses direction and goes backward into a cave. Suddenly a shadow flickers across the wall. Is that the Yeti?! You round another curve and the train reverses direction again. You enter another tunnel and suddenly there's an enormous animatronic Yeti growling and swiping at you. Before you can react to that, the train drops out of the cave into its big, fast slope, which is right next to the queue area so everyone waiting gets a peek.
I understand that some people are put off by all of the theming and find it creepy and fake. Personally, I enjoy it and appreciate all of the care and design put into it.
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