Friday, June 22, 2007


American Adventure v2.5

Just got back from Epcot where the newly-updated American Adventure debuted this morning. Here are my impressions based on one viewing. The bulk of the show is unchanged, except for some needed maintenance to the animatronics and effects (did ya know Jefferson's candle smokes?).

The Golden Dreams segment however has been heavily revised. While the visual motif is unchanged, the entire sequence looks to have been digitally recomposited, so the original images that remain are edited differently, and everything is much cleaner and sharper (especially compared to the film segments in the rest of the show). The song is a slightly remixed version of what we're familiar with -- fewer drums in some places, more choir in others -- but with the same vocalists and basic arrangement.

The first half of the segment, from WWII to JFK, has been shortened, and a few faces like MacArthur are missing (Thankfully Walt and Tink are still there). The speeches from JFK, MLK, and Armstrong are largely unchanged, and the images leading up to the Vietnam memorial are mostly the same.

The post-Vietnam part of the song is almost entirely new, and begins with a young George Lucas with C3pO, who get more screentime than Reagan, Gorbachev, and the fall of the Berlin Wall combined. The Challenger crew is still glimpsed, as is "Stop AIDS Now", but Princess Di has replaced Ryan White and Magic Johnson.

The inevitable 9/11 tribute is plane crash-free, starting with a shot of the ruined towers, followed by the famous picture of firefighters raising the flag at Ground Zero. Next, heroic shots of our military and "support the troops" signs. Then, bizarrely, it cuts to a montage of sports stars, with Tony Hawk flying across the screen, Muhammad Ali hoisting the Olympic torch, and Lance Armstrong pedaling. The final image before the Statue of Liberty appears is a non-sequiter of little kids holding sparklers.

All in all, not a travesty, and an update was overdue. But somehow the show that always made me -- one of the least jingoistic people you'll meet -- a little misty-eyed, failed to elicit any emotion for the first time in years.

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