Review: The Imagineering Story Episode 5: A Carousel of Progress

The Imagineering Story Title Episode 5 A Carousel of Progress

The last episode of The Imagineering Story left us on one of Disney Imagineering's worst days. Disney California Adventure was a failure and the parks had lost the ambitious attitude that had made them what they were.

As this episode begins we immediately start on better days with the revitalization of Disney California Adventure.

We start with the creation of Toy Story Midway Mania and Paradise Pier 2.0 as early changes to the park.

Then we launch into World of Color which is shown as being given the pressure of relaunching the entire park on its own.

We also would get an in-depth look at the creation of Cars Land, with the surprising revelation that it started development as an original concept that was only rethemed to Cars mid-way through development, explaining why it was called Cars Land not Radiator Springs as Carsland was the name of the original concept.

As we are getting more modern, there is less rare footage to show, something that was one of the best parts of the early episodes. The documentary replaces that with an inside look at the modern Imagineering, from the tools they use to their creative process.

It also respectfully addresses the sometimes toxic but intensely passionate internet Disney Parks fanbase, something I never thought I would see Disney address. This section goes through a series of some controversial changes to classic attractions and the negative reaction before they happened. Now beloved projects like Haunted Mansion Holiday were hated before they even happened, then becoming classics in their own right.

We get a great look at the plussing of Disneyland's Peter Pan's Flight utilizing modern technology alongside the classic scenes and keeping the tone intact. It makes us excited for what Imagineering is going to do with the upcoming Snow White's Scary Adventure plussing.

The documentary also tackles some of the modern challenges of Walt Disney Imagineering like social media, the growing guest hatred for long lines, and the growing amount of technology available to both Imagineers and guests.

Then we venture into the challenges of 21st-century original attractions through the story of Mystic Manor. The need to create universal experiences without barriers in a short period of time, with musical motif, characters, and relatable themes.

Ratatouille was explored as a look at Disney's early usage of screens in a large active role in their attractions.

But this documentary has been and continues to be nothing short of brutally honest, showing the 2011 Japan Tsunami through the lens of Tokyo Disneyland. We see the earthquake happen in Tokyo Disneyland, see the park close, and then see the public response to when it reopened after a mourning period.

We end looking ahead to one of the main topics of the next episode, the building and opening of Shanghai Disneyland.

This episode essentially follows the correction of the missteps of the time period covered by the previous episode, acknowledging that Disney made mistakes and making the investments to fix them not just for today, but for the future. It no longer has the rare footage that drew people in, but continues with its intriguing storytelling and brutal honesty for the good, and bad.

Have you been enjoying The Imagineering Story? Which has been your favorite episode? Let us know in the comments!