'Behind the Attraction' Season 2 shows similarities, differences between Disney parks

Disney World closes the night with a fireworks spectacular. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
1 of 5 | Disney World closes the night with a fireworks spectacular. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Behind the Attraction director Brian Volk-Weiss said Season 2 of the docuseries, premiering Wednesday on Disney+, highlights similarities and differences between Disney theme parks in California, Florida, Europe and Asia.

An episode about the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction covers the development of different versions of the attraction that inspired a movie franchise. The popularity of Pirates in Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., led to demand to install it in Orlando, Fla.


However, the land under Orlando's Disney World was close to water, requiring builders to adapt the ride to the available space.

"The Disney World Pirates is even crazier when you think about it from the standpoint of how it's actually built below ground versus how it looks above ground," Volk-Weiss told UPI in a recent phone interview.

The Pirates attraction in Tokyo combines elements of the Anaheim and Orlando editions. Volk-Weiss said the Paris Pirates picks and chooses from the first two parks, but cranks them up.


"My favorite Pirates is in Paris because that Pirates is crazy," Volk-Weiss said. "It has the best parts of Anaheim and Orlando, but it plussed it so big."

Another episode of Season 2 explores the Big Thunder Mountain roller coaster. Touring the Anaheim and Orlando versions, Volk-Weiss discovered the rides are the same with one subtle difference.

"Big Thunder Mountain in Disney World is the exact same ride path and it's the same characters as the one in Anaheim, except it's the mirror image track," Volk-Weiss said.

To fit the land in Orlando, Disney World flipped the Big Thunder Mountain track.

Not only can attractions differ from park to park, but they also adapt and evolve within the same park. The episodes on Pirates, Thunder Mountain and Indiana Jones Adventure all address changes made at Orlando and Anaheim locations.

Likewise, Season 1 addressed the evolution of favorites like Space Mountain and Haunted Mansion. Volk-Weiss said that as theme park technology advances, designers aim to update fan favorite rides as well as new ones.

The show has touched on Ratatouille and Star Wars attractions in episodes, and Volk-Weiss said those are good examples of advancing attraction technology.


"You see on Ratatouille the technology is phenomenal," Volk-Weiss said. "Then when you go on Rise of the Resistance, that's five years of progress in technology."

Another episode in Season 2 covers EPCOT Center, which only exists at Disney World in Orlando. EPCOT stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow and presented attractions based on overseas destinations for American visitors in Florida.

Sites like Tokyo didn't have room for an EPCOT and the European theme would be irrelevant to Paris, Volk-Weiss said.

"A big part of the draw of EPCOT when it was built was that it was built for Americans largely who didn't have the opportunity to go all over the world," Volk-Weiss said. "In Europe, they're going to Switzerland, Hungary and Poland."

The EPCOT episode focuses on Walt Disney's plans for the addition to Disney World. He died in 1966, leaving EPCOT plans incomplete.

After his death, Disney's research and development staff, referred to as Imagineers within the company, sought to realize Walt Disney's vague plans.

Walt Disney had ideas for EPCOT to be a residential space, too, but Imagineers deemed renting living space there unfeasible. They did, however, fulfill Walt's plans for international and future-looking exhibits.

Volk-Weiss said that Walt's brother, Roy, spent his own final years on completing EPCOT. Roy died in 1971, 11 years before EPCOT opened.


"Roy had been trying to retire for a while and then Walt got sick," Volk-Weiss said. "[Roy] makes it literally the rest of his life's work to complete the park because he knew his brother wanted that."

The EPCOT episode features trivia for specific exhibits. A dragon named Figment became the mascot of EPCOT with his Journey Into Imagination ride.

Imagineer Tony Baxter shares how he got the name Figment from a line of dialogue in an episode of Magnum P.I. However, Volk-Weiss said, there was not enough time to discuss the actual ride.

"For every minute you see on screen, we probably shot eight to 10 hours," Volk-Weiss said. "You might get 200 fun facts, but we put those fun facts through a filter."

Volk-Weiss said he and producers, which include Benjamin Frost, Ian Roumain and Dwayne Johnson, aim to include anecdotes that will appeal to both casual Disney visitors and die-hard fans.

Volk-Weiss said that also explains why the EPCOT episode does not include Captain EO, the 3D Michael Jackson film that played at the park in the '80s. It was not omitted because of allegations against Jackson, Volk-Weiss said.


"These episodes must be under an hour," Volk-Weiss said. "You literally can't put everything into one of these episode."

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