May 1, 2009 was the 20th anniversary of the 3rd gate at the Walt Disney World Resort here in Central Florida. To commemorate the day, the Studios brass held a few special events, with even the top man, Rilous Carter, performing his role as part of the morning’s rope drop to start the day.
The day began, as the video shows, with a great introduction by the acclaimed film director Alberto Dante and continued throughout the day. There were commemorative schedules printed for the day as well as a special flyer to promote the Q and A Session with some of the Imagineers who helped create the park.
As you can see, there was not really major events planned for the day (Fantasmic was not even shown that night) but the big thrill for die-hard fans was the Imagineers Q&A session.
I had come fully prepared to video the discussion, but it was clearly marked that no video recording was allowed during the discussion. I have herd tell of some audio recording from that event and will try to track that down.
Suffice it to say, however, that one of the sticking points with many Disney fans has been the introduction of the Sorcerer’s Hat as the main icon of the park, relegating the beautiful Chinese Theater to ugly step-sister.
After listening to the Imagineers I am hopeful we will get our Chinese Theater back as the central icon of the park.They seem to have as much love for the Chinese Theater and the original layout of the park’s identity as the audience did.
All of the other parks in Disney’s World are attractions of some sort. The Castles, the Tree of Life, Spaceship Earth, etc. They all hold some sort of attraction-based entertainment while the Sorcerer’s Hat, although hearkening to Mickey’s heyday, is still just a store and hardly the appropriate icon for any of Disney’s parks.
The stories these 3 gentlemen shared with the audience was fabulous. There was a lot of creative references they supplied as they discussed how the Studios grew from a pavilion at Epcot to a 3rd park within a matter of several weeks.
They also discussed how the park, probably more than any other, was designed to grow, change and evolve to reflect the tastes and trends from Hollywood.
Wrapping it up
Although it was a great day, as any day at Walt Disney World is, the celebration was decidedley lacking in pomp, circumstance and celebration. I would have thought the company would have provided a bit more for such a milestone to one of its most popular parks.