Sunday, December 11, 2011

D&M Archives : A Special Alien Encounter - Stitch's Great Escape Tribute

When the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter attraction opened at WDW some years ago it was quite an event. Not only it was part of a new re-themed Tomorrowland, but "Alien" was supposed to be a real frightening attraction, the first of its kind in a Magic Kingdom. Well, for the adult audience, it was really fun, and not-so-scary. But for the 12 years old young girls, the 3D sound ,the darkness and in-theatre effects were may be a little bit too scary!

No need to say that WDW executives didn't like at all to see these young girls exiting the attraction theatre crying, and this is probably why this brand new WDI attraction - that was supposed to be built in other Disney parks - remain the only one of its kind... Mind you, still in 1994, Tim Delaney, DLP Discoveryland show producer was still expecting to built it right at the entrance of the land where the room has been kept , on the little hill on the right, between the "Constellations" shop and Autopia.

Let's begin by some rare WDI artwork as well as official pictures of Alien Encounter.

We all know what happened next: the attraction was re-themed around the Stitch character and is supposed now to be less scary than before. On the pictures above and below, the difference between the two pictures of the same scene is interesting: on the Alien Encounter one the boys are yelling, but on the Stitch one, the boys are younger and smiling. The message is clear: no need to be afraid of this attraction any more, come on in!

Also, note the difference between the two photos of the pre-show sequence , with the small teleportation experiment. On the Stitch version, the S.I.R robot - one of the best programmed Audio-Animatronic i've ever seen - is now dressed in a more cartoonish look. But the really interesting shot above is the sixth from the top, as this rendering show a kind of pre-show "laboratory" scene that finally was never built...

And, last but not least, you may have noticed on the Alien encounter marquee that the attraction was supposed to be a " Sensory thriller from Disney AND Georges Lucas ". Why Georges Lucas was involved in Alien Encounter, you ask? Well, apparently, and if i'm right , it seems that the concept/idea of the attraction came from him during a meeting, and when Lucas have an idea, you better not forget that it came from him...which, i must agree is perfectly legitimate.

And now, on with the show, as below are the Youtube videos of the two versions. The two first videos show the pre-show and the show of Alien encounter and the two last one show the pre-show and the show of Stitch's great escape.

Photos and Artwork: copyright Disney

Videos: Copyright Martin Smith or SaveTheLastRide


simmy25 said...

I still don't understand why they couldn't have moved it to DHS. It's such a perfect fit

Eric said...

Man. I was at that perfect young(er) age when ALIEN ENCOUNTER first launched. It took me two days to get up the guts to go on it and I remember having the PANTS scared off of me in the end. It was that perfect kind of scary that made you jump and had you leaving the attraction with your adrenaline pumping: all ready to go on a few rides.

I was skeptical when it got revamped into the Stitch attraction that stands today, but I went on it a few years ago and, I gotta say, I was downright charmed with what they made. Really top-notch animatronics, great use of the Stitch design aesthetic throughout and a story/experience that nicely rides the line between funny/exciting/scary.

Thanks for this art and history! Love the blog!

-eric stirpe

Lacey said...

The first time i rode "Alien Encounter" i cried so hard i was shaking. My mom literally smacked my dad for putting me on it (and i was a teenager). i laughed thru it the second time (same day) thanks to my brother. My entire family (all grown up now) much prefer the Stitch version. (He's so cute and fluffy!)

Anonymous said...

Ugh...They ruined a great, unique and original attraction by shoehorning the annoying Stitch into it.
The MK's biggest fail of the last 15 years.

Marco Antonio Garcia said...

I really liked Alien Encounter, liked it more than the Stitch version, but the current version is not bad at all, and I think that Lilo and Stitch is one of the best Disney animation of its time (a low time for Disney animation).

The mistake was to build it at the MK, they should have built the attraction at Epcot's future world, or at DHS.