June 22, 2024

‘Behind the Attraction’ S2 Brings New Disney World & Disneyland Secrets to Disney+

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Season two of the original docu-series “Behind the Attraction” will premiere November 1, 2023 on Disney+ with six new episodes featuring famed Walt Disney World and Disneyland attractions. This post details each of the rides

Season two of the original docu-series “Behind the Attraction” will premiere November 1, 2023 on Disney+ with six new episodes featuring famed Walt Disney World and Disneyland attractions. This post details each of the rides and other topics that’ll be covered in this backstage look at how Imagineering makes the magic, plus our commentary about how “Behind the Attraction” compares to “The Imagineering Story” and more.

“Behind the Attraction” is a series from Disney Branded Television, and is executive produced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Dany Garcia from Seven Bucks Productions, and Brian Volk-Weiss from The Nacelle Company. Narrated by Paget Brewster (“Criminal Minds”), the original series gives viewers an exclusive peek “behind the curtain” of the most beloved attractions and destinations at Disney Parks and Resorts around the world.

“Behind the Attraction” delves into the rich history of Imagineering’s greatest creations using archival and never-before-seen footage and photographs to explain how the attractions came to be and how they’ve been refined over the years as new ideas surface and technology evolves. The Disney+ series also offers up rare interviews, including with Walt Disney himself and other Disney Legends; plus dozens of past and present Imagineers, including Bob Weis, Jeanette Lomboy, Kim Irvine, Scott Trowbridge, Tom Fitzgerald, Scot Drake, Carmen Smith, Joe Rohde, and others who divulge insider secrets of the parks and how iconic Disney attractions were brought to life.

Here’s the full list of all 10 episodes of “Behind the Attraction” from Season 1, which debuted two years ago and is currently available on Disney+ for streaming:

  • Jungle Cruise
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Star Tours
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • The Castles
  • Disneyland Hotel
  • Space Mountain
  • “it’s a small world”
  • Trains, Trams, and Monorails
  • Hall of Presidents

Looking forward, here’s the trailer for Season 2 of “Behind the Attraction,” which will debut on November 1, 2023:

Season two takes a look at six brand new storylines from your favorite attractions, food, and nighttime spectaculars! These episodes include the following (all descriptions and ‘behind the scenes’ photos courtesy of Disney+).

Indiana Jones Adventure

Crack the whip and join Indiana Jones on the adventure of a lifetime – just beware of the snakes! Following the success of Star Tours, Michael Eisner and Frank Wells thought it was time to have George Lucas bring another cinematic hero to the Disney parks. With action sequences in every Indiana Jones movie that seemed like blueprints for exciting attractions, the choice was obvious.

Indy is everywhere in the parks, from a live action stunt show, to Disney’s first inversion roller coaster at Disneyland Paris, to the thrilling Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland Park that proved so popular another one was built at Tokyo DisneySea. These attractions are so good, they belong in a museum!

Pirates of the Caribbean

It’s a pirate’s life for everybody aboard Pirates of the Caribbean! Walt Disney loved adventure stories, especially ones that featured swashbuckling pirates. That inspiration led to one of the most beloved attractions in Disney history.

Initially conceived as a wax museum, technological advances convinced Walt that a more sophisticated attraction could be created using state-of-the-art Audio-Animatronics figures. The classic version in Anaheim proved so successful it spawned a hit movie franchise and iterations in Disney parks around the world, including the cutting edge reimagining at Shanghai Disneyland.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Step aboard the wildest ride in the wilderness! Based on a concept by Disney Legend Marc Davis, Imagineer Tony Baxter reimagined this mountainous thrill ride that is sure to float your goat! Inspired by the American West, this attraction has spread around the world.

The version at Disneyland Paris is on an island and is connected to Phantom Manor, while the ones at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Park are inverted versions of each other on opposite coasts. Hong Kong Disneyland Park even boasts a sister attraction – Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has it all – runaway trains, mining town Rainbow Ridge, disturbed spirits, and spinning possums! Rumor has it there’s even a secret goat trick…

EPCOT

Where can you both glimpse the future and travel the world without leaving Florida? At the Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow, where the impossible becomes possible! When it opened in 1982 at Walt Disney World Resort, EPCOT was the biggest Disney park yet. At its heart stands the astounding architectural achievement that is Spaceship Earth.

Situated around the lagoon, World Showcase features pavilions that celebrate nations from around the world. Some even host attractions, like Norway’s Frozen Ever After and France’s Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, as well as Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind in the World Discovery neighborhood. As long as there is imagination left in the world, EPCOT will never be complete.

The Food

Churros, DOLE Whip, turkey legs, and more… Discover the stories behind these tasty treats! Walt knew food was crucial to the park going experience. From walk-around snacks to themed dining experiences like the piratical Blue Bayou Restaurant, there’s something for everyone.

Learn how the churro debuted at a Disneyland teen nightclub, how the Central Bakery makes all of Disneyland’s sweets, and what goes on at the secretive Flavor Lab at Walt Disney World. What’s the Flavor Lab? That would be telling! Globally, explore how Disneyland Paris puts their twist on Walt’s favorites, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort creates character-shaped dim sum, and Tokyo Disneyland reimagines popcorn, to name a few. Food keeps the story going beyond the attractions!

Nighttime Spectaculars

The magic continues after dark with Disney Parks’ nighttime spectaculars. What began as a fireworks show in the skies above Disneyland Park has evolved, over the years, into a wide array of shows at Disney parks around the globe. Thanks to technological innovations like projection mapping, mist screens, and even drones, they have become more spectacular with every passing year.

Longstanding Disney favorites like the “Main Street Electrical Parade,” “Fantasmic!,” and “World of Color” have been joined by newer dazzlers like “Momentous” at Hong Kong Disneyland Park and “ILLUMINATE!” at Shanghai Disneyland. Come for the attractions, stay for the shows!

We watched the first season of “Behind the Attraction” on Disney+ and, honestly, I couldn’t tell you a single specific highlight of the series. Then again, we started watching The Accountant the other night and it took us almost 5 minutes before we realized that we had already seen it…like just last year. So us forgetting something we’ve seen isn’t exactly unprecedented.

In this case, forgetting “Behind the Attraction” isn’t so much on us. It was a very forgettable show. Like an average Netflix documentary that’s flashy, loud, over-produced, and filled with fluff. Somehow simultaneously too short given the subject matter and too long given the substance of the show.

While that’s an apt contemporaneous example, perhaps the more fitting one is to the Travel Channel specials about Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Imagineering that were huge in the early to mid-aughts. If you’re a Disney fan of a certain age, you probably know the ones I’m talking about.

And that’s why, even though this is light criticism of “Behind the Attraction,” it’s really not. We love those Travel Channel specials. After our first trip back to Disney as adults, we downloaded all of those episodes, loaded them onto my Playstation 3, and watched them repeatedly. Along with the Top 7 Must-Sees with Stacey and other old television specials, they gave us our “fix” in between trips.

More importantly, those Travel Channel specials were one of our “gateway drugs” into the wonderful world of Disney fandom.

I’ve seen a lot of criticism of “Behind the Attraction” from diehard Walt Disney World and Disneyland fans. Constant refrains about how the series is superficial, fast-paced, exaggerated, fluffy, and so forth. I agree with most of this (to the best of my recollection). I was also hoping for something more like a sequel to “The Imagineering Story,” and this series most definitely is not that.

If you’re wondering how “Behind the Attraction” compares to “The Imagineering Story,” it does not compare. There’s a good chance that you learned a lot during that documentary, and found it to be incredibly fascinating and compelling material. “Behind the Attraction” is more like a documentary meets a marketing video on in-room resort television.

You might learn a bit in each episode and get a few peeks behind the curtain, but there’s also a lot of foundational stuff that you already know. “Behind the Attraction” is still good to put on in the background, for a quick Disney fix, or to get your kids interested in Imagineering, though.

I also agree with the criticism about “Behind the Attraction” being chaotic and too high-energy, but then again, look at what’s popular these days. People have the attention spans of gnats. (I feel dumber every time I scroll social media for thirty seconds.) Nevertheless, my hope is that “Behind the Attraction” dials it down from 11 to maybe 7 or 8 this season. I’d greatly appreciate that, even if the series stays relatively surface-level.

Regardless, I think it’s important for fans to support Disney+ shows about Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Imagineering so that more get made. This isn’t to say that you can’t offer feedback that you’d prefer something on par with “The Imagineering Story,” but watch (or at least hit play on) “Behind the Attraction” regardless. We don’t get more documentaries or other content about the parks unless that ‘minutes viewed’ metric hits its targets.

To the point about “Behind the Attraction” being too surface level, I can appreciate that not everything is made with me squarely as the target audience. If that were the case, we’d have a lot more content about singing bears, imaginative dragons, traveling tigers, and mystical monkeys. We’d also have world peace and prosperity, as people discovered said content and lived hand-in-hand in harmony. But I digress.

Ultimately, I appreciate that “Behind the Attraction” exists because, like the Travel Channel specials were for me, this could be an accessible gateway into Disney fandom for others. A lot of hardcore Disney fans seem to forget this, but you probably didn’t simply flip a switch and go from zero to an extremely knowledgeable, diehard fan overnight. “The Imagineering Story” is fantastic, but it’s also denser and perhaps less approachable than a slicky-produced and more bite-sized documentary series. I could see it being intimidating for the uninitiated.

That’s the role “Behind the Attraction” fills. It serves as an easy entry point to suck the unsuspecting into this quirky little community of ours. From there they graduate into meatier things, like Disney Dish and DisneyWar, and all sorts of other books, documentaries, podcasts, forums, and blogs like this. You don’t go from riding “it’s a small world” for the first time to reading a 3,000 word treatise on what it means that Bob Chapek pet a hippo. That’s not how it works–that’s not how any of this works!

What I’m saying is that not everything is aimed at us nerds. If we want to create more of us (nerds), normie content like “Behind the Attraction” is necessary. So don’t gatekeep and dismiss this series as not being for “real” fans because it’s too surface level (as I’ve heard some say). A real fan is anyone who takes an interest in these topics–all it takes is one little spark to go from a casual first-timer to a lifelong fan. Everyone reading this should know that.

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YOUR THOUGHTS

Did you watch the first season of “Behind the Attraction” when it came out a couple years ago? What were your thoughts on it–if you remember it? Planning on watching “Behind the Attraction” Season 2? Which episode topic has you most excited? Are you a Disney+ subscriber? What’s your favorite series or type of content on the streaming service? Agree or disagree with my perspective about “Behind the Attraction” vs. “The Imagineering Story”? Any questions? We love hearing from readers, so please share any other thoughts or questions you have in the comments below!

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