Oh Pooh.

I've lived to see a few very bleak days for the Walt Disney Company.

And now today is one of them.

No, it's not the stock price - as I'm writing this it is hovering around eighteen dollars, which ain't bad for this economy.

Today, at Disneyland, is the "soft opening" of the new Winnie The Pooh attraction.

A "soft opening" is the opening before the Grand Opening. Kind of a non-guaranteed preview while they're still testing and tweaking the show.

This whole mess can be traced back to September 7, 1998. That's when Mr. Toad took his last Wild Ride in Florida, when Walt Disney World shuttered Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Then on June 5, 1999 The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh opened in Toad's place. Yes, that's less than one year after Toad closed. I mean, you know it's going to be a good ride when it takes less than a year to gut the former and build a whole new one.

Oh, they also build a store, too. Pooh's Thotful Shop. "Thotful". God damn do I hate that bear.

It's not bad enough that they take out Toad, but to replace him with That Bear? Argh.

Then came Disneyland's time. Now, Disney had to be trickier with closing attractions at Disneyland. Disneyland fans are more rabid, more vocal, and more local. They notice when things change - hell, just last week I read a whole article about how the trees at the front of Main Street were replaced! So to get Pooh into the park was tricky. They did the old standard line of not announcing the closure of the doomed attraction until a week prior. And they picked an out-of-the-way attraction to close.

Now, why they can't just build a new attraction instead of closing a fan-favorite, I don't know. I'm sure there's something that you'd learn in business school in there. Things you'd need an MBA to talk about, using phrases like Strategic Planning, Human Capital, Intangible Assets and Asset Valuation.

So anyway, the Disney brass picked the The Country Bear Playhouse to close. Now, it's not really a popular show, I mean, the only time I visit the Country Bears is the mid-afternoon in summer when I need a nap. Seriously. I always doze for a few minutes in there. The music lulls me to sleep.

But you know what? I like that! I've always been a proponent of NapLand. Think about it. A nice, slow omnimover cycling through darkened rooms with happy music playing. Cool air-conditioning blowing down on your hot little face. Hell, I'll even sell-out to the MBAs and let the ride dump you out in a gift shop. But I'm telling you, on a hot July afternoon it'd be the best FastPass in town!

So no, I don't get over to the Country Bears much. But I like the Chuck E. Cheese-quality show. I like the sappy music and the dumb jokes ... as well as the high potential for napping. Where am I going to go now? The Tiki Room? With all of those squacking birds? Hell, that rainstorm would give me a nightmare! Disneyland has just disrupted my sleep in a big way.

The most amusing part of closing the Country Bears is the total lack of synergy (disney's catchphrase of the decade). The Disneyland attraction closed down on September 9, 2001. The Walt Disney Pictures nationwide release of the Country Bears movie was July 26, 2002. Months later. Isn't this supposed to be Disney's cup of tea? Aren't they supposed to love this shit?

Shit is right. "Come one, Come none. In this brand new attraction guests join Pooh and friends -- including Piglet, Eeyore, Gopher, Owl, Rabbit, Tigger, Kanga and Roo -- for a magical journey through a storybook page and into the Hundred Acre Wood."

I can just imagine the sad song the Country Bears would sing about losing their home to a roly-poly bear. Argh. That Bear!

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Last Updated on: March 25, 2003

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