Review: Revealing 'Behind The Attraction' Goes Inside Disney Magic

by JC Alvarez

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday July 20, 2021

'Behind The Attraction'
'Behind The Attraction'  (Source:Disney+)

The brainchildren of the enigmatic Walt Disney, Disneyland and the Disney World Resort have become hallowed ground for many, places where one's imagination and the spirit of the inner child is secure in the belief that when you wish upon a star all your dreams will come true.

Disney was a man of unlimited imagination, and what he wanted to realize was an environment — a playground — where the joy and emotion of his cinematic creations had a place to live, and where we could all share in the magic. For many years, Disney held firm to keeping the lid on the Happiest Place on Earth...

...but not any more.

In the new documentary series "Behind the Attraction," premiering on Disney+ on July 21, visitors of the Disney Parks are going to get an entirely new perspective of the inner workings and origins of some of Disneyland and Disney World's most popular rides and attractions. Each episode examines a different attraction through creative anecdotes, blending insight from the actual Disney imagineers and stock footage the genesis of attractions like Disney MGM's "Star Tours," which first introduced the long ago, far away galaxy of George Lucas' "Star Wars" into the Disney theme park experience.

Disney now owns the "Star Wars" franchise and has exponentially expanded on the brand, but before there was a "Galaxy's Edge" corner of the resort for visitors to explore, there was a somewhat tamer experience that included a gyroscopic box with seats and a wacky-looking animatronic droid that was voiced by Pee-Wee Herman! Combining all the grit and gristle and the special effects possibilities of the time, the folks at Disney (along with George Lucas) went to work to provide Disney fans with what was, at the time, the closest thing to navigating the trenches of a Death Star.

What's most thrilling about the series is how Walt Disney himself understood that areas of the park, like Tomorrowland, would needing constant updating, and that is why it was one of the final pieces of the park to open to the public — it would feature the most exciting thrill ride of its kind, one that would continue to be a favorite for generations to come. Disney's "Space Mountain" is more than just a roller coaster, it's truly a feat of engineering that is meant to replicate space travel.

The park ride has been adapted over the years, and as it has been placed in Disney theme parks throughout the world, it's been modified to fit into the scheme of the park theme. Disney's "Space Mountain" in France is far more steampunk than "Buck Rogers," and is meant to celebrate the imagination and creative spirit of Europe's own great thinkers. The team behind the project always understood that if a ride is going to be transplanted in a sister park in another country, it has to speak to the culture.

As the first Disney park was underway, Walt Disney pulled many of his most talented designers and engineers to work on the New York World's Fair. Participating in that event inspired Walt and his team to push the creative boundaries of the theme parks with innovations that transcended expectations and sparked the imagination. That is best exemplified in the behind-the-scenes look at the making of Disney's "Haunted Mansion," which was designed by many of Disney's most talented artists.

"Behind the Attraction" isn't only for devoted Disney aficionados, though it does constantly focus on the personal stories of the talented artists who have dedicated themselves to creating the magic, and now are reveling in pulling back the curtain and sharing their work with the audience. It enhances the experience to know how much care and love goes into it all.

"Behind the Attraction" begins streaming on July 21, only on Disney+.

Native New Yorker JC Alvarez is a pop-culture enthusiast and the nightlife chronicler of the club scene and its celebrity denizens from coast-to-coast. He is the on-air host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Out Loud & Live!" and is also on the panel of the local-access talk show "Talking About".