Today sees our first look at a show rather than a ride, one that arrived in parks for the first time back in the 80’s, closed in the 90’s and reopened again in 2010.
Its an attraction that I know has divided people’s opinion since it returned, but for me having not seen it the first time round, still find it a great experience
Now I will admit to being a fan of Michael Jackson before we begin, never got to see him live, but did have tickets for his residency that would have happened at the O2 Arena in London.
So where to begin with the story of EO. Lets start with a little bit of behind the scenes.
George Lucas, Creator,Writer and Director of the Star Wars Films, was working with Disney to create a new ride experience based in the world of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, which we know today as Star Tours.
After this work was completed Disney moved on to their next project, as well as Lucas looking to do something that wasn’t based around the same themes of the Skywalker family.
Disney also had an idea that they want to capitalise on Michael Jackson’s love of Disneyland in California, where he would often visit.
The turning point happened when Disney realised Lucas was a bit of a hero to Jackson and so the collaboration began.
The original plan was that Lucas would direct show himself, but eventually it was decided that some help would be brought in to both direct it and also co-write. That would help would come from the Creator of the Godfather Trilogy, Francis Ford Copolla.
Coming as no surprise given the involvement of Lucas, the film was a space adventure set in far off world (or a Galaxy far,far away!!) a group of rag, tag space couriers, led by Jackson’s character, the Captain of the ship, EO.
After running into trouble while trying to deliver a parcel, they land in a desolate planet of metal, led by The Supreme Leader (played by Oscar winner, Anjelica Huston), who sentences EO to years of torture and the rest of the crew to be turned dustbins.
Pleading with the Supreme Leader, The Captain delivers his pleas in the form of song, with the mechanical members of the crew turning into instruments for their alien team mates to play. That song was “We Are Here To Change The World” which wouldn’t be officially released until 2004.
EO uses the power he gets from the music to transform the Leader’s henchmen in to the crew’s dancers, harnessing even more power to turn her in to the beautiful woman she could be and change the planet into a beautiful Greek style palace.
This would then be followed by a celebration involving an early version of a song that would become a track on Michael’s album,Bad,and also a number 1 single in it’s own right, Another Part of Me.
At the time, EO was the most expensive film to make per minute, costing a pricey $1.76m per minute. Classed as a 3D film (in itself not as commonly used as it is today) it was actually the first 4D attraction , incorporating physical effects within the theatre.
A version would come to Tokyo Disneyland the following year and Disneyland Paris some 5 years later as one of their attractions on opening day
Sadly the attraction in all parks wouldn’t last much longer, come the end of 1998 the movie had been replaced by Honey,I Shrunk the Audience.
But there was another sting in the tail.
On June 29th 2009, Michael Jackson died of an overdose of a powerful sleeping medication,which would kick start a whole new fascination with anything to do with him.
A group of fans would campaign for Captain EO to the Disney Parks, and it would return beginning again with Disneyland in California early 2010 followed by the other three parks that Summer.
Some of the effects had been removed, but having seen the theatres rebuilt for Honey I Shrunk there was also a new addition, dancing chairs. The chairs would dance along to the the two Jackson tracks.
The show would be around for the following 4 years and are currently still going, but again the future is beginning to look bleak for the attraction.
It has been confirmed that the version in Tokyo will be closing at the end of this month to be replaced by Stitch Encounter in 2015
And it seems the others will go the same way, so I will make the most of what will be my final experience of the show in November.