Pirates dock at Blockbuster Café, Disney on horizon?

Tuesday, 4th August 2009 at 17:28

ImageMore Pirate props and decorations are added to the new Disney Blockbuster Café as its transformation from the old Backlot Express props warehouse continues. One room now celebrates Pirates of the Caribbean, the other High School Musical -- but when does the 'Disney' arrive?,

After the changes seen in our four month news round-up, now come more new additions. The Pirates of the Caribbean room, situated to the left of the serving area, with large windows looking out across to Armageddon: Les Effets Speciaux, continues to impress rather more than its High School Musical partner.

Now, in addition to the ship’s wheel and wooden bannisters — not to mention the ceiling filled with torn “sails” — a large ship’s stern, with three lanterns and yellow stained glass windows has appeared, just behind the wheel —

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Photo: VDR, Main Street Gazette forum

If you’d have asked any fan what the inside of Backlot Express needed — beyond a more interesting menu — they’d have probably said more atmosphere, a more enclosed environment. So, on first glance, this area of the re-do seems to have the right intentions.

Whilst the generic props warehouse of Backlot Express was interesting enough, it was generally too bright and too barren for an Aladdin’s cave — too cheaply-built, to put it bluntly. Will these changes solve that? Banners and posters based on High School Musical and decorations merely similar to Pirates of the Caribbean? This ship’s wheel, stern and torn bedsheets look nice and all, but what relevance do they have to this Disney franchise?

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Different themes – very different budgets

For a Disney theme park restaurant — especially one with “Disney” in the name — it all feels slightly distant from the mouse. Imagineering appear to be only very loosely involved — if involved at all. The ‘HSM’ theme was likely a popular choice because a few posters and banners are enough to support it.

The pleasing canyon mural by the payment desks has been replaced by a giant poster for High School Musical 3. The room is now a branding assault on the eyes, not a themed environment.

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Old Backlot Express decoration

Rumours promised us actual props from the Pirates trilogy, to arrive “at the last minute”. Since the restaurant was also rumoured for completion in July, but continues to tip-toe ahead with only slight changes each week, that “last minute” doesn’t appear to have come yet. In fact, no-one truly seems to know how this project will turn out.

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Old Backlot Express decoration

Previously, guests could admire an array of items in this props warehouse ranging from the rather famous (real Armageddon miniature sets, a real Speeder Bike from Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi) to the not-so-famous (hundreds of bric-a-brac items).

Whether the redecorated venue sinks or swims rests on this. If the new restaurant doesn’t feature real props from its two chosen franchises, what will have been the point?

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Generic basketballs, bibs and pom-poms now serve as set dressing

The worst thing about Backlot Express was and is its ugly, unwelcoming exterior, second its menu and third its interior. Like every other change across the Studios — the change to Restaurant des Stars, the tiny ice cream kiosk, the plethora of entrances now leading into Walt Disney Studios Store — this could end up just another cover-up job. None of the issues have really been addressed, there just appears to be a hope here that in-your-face branding based on distant franchises will suffice.

But still — we must watch the horizon with hope. Since Jack Sparrow came back from the dead (sorry — spoiler), anything is still possible. Isn’t it?

Pictures: VDR, Main Street Gazette forum; Photos Magiques; DLRP Today.

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