Welcome to Extinct Attractions. This week, we’ll be hopping across the border to see what is going on with our neighbor to the north.
Via Disneyland News
The Disney Parks and America have always shared a strong connection, which makes a lot of sense due to Walt’s strong sense of patriotism. While I love all the America-themed attractions and experiences, I’m very glad that we have World Showcase, so that park guests can get a chance to see Disney’s take on other places around the world, but most especially our neighbors to the north and south in Canada and Mexico. In the past, I’ve taken a dive into some of Mexico's history in Epcot, so today Canada gets its chance to take the spotlight.
Most Disney fans are familiar with the New York World’s Fair from 1964-1965 because of a few little attractions like it’s a small world and Carousel of Progress that debuted there and are still entertaining guests to this day. But today’s journey takes us to a different World Expo, Expo ‘67 in Montreal, Canada.
For the event, Walt Disney Productions worked with director Robert Barclay to create a CircleVision 360 film called Canada ‘67 for the Telephone Pavilion. This film entertained guests of all ages for its brief six month run before disappearing in the Disney Vault until a very brief one week event at Magic Kingdom called Salute to Canada from January 7-13, 1974. After that, we never got to see the full film again, but that doesn’t mean that all of the footage was gone forever.
Opening with Epcot and the Canada Pavilion on October 1, 1982, O Canada! restructured a lot of the footage from Canada ‘67 into a new film. It still maintained the CircleVision 360 aspect, at least, but otherwise the order of most of the footage was changed and nearly four minutes of it was cut, with very little being added. Because of this fact, O Canada! was outdated from the start of its run considering it was already showing a 15-year-old video.
Outside of being outdated, a lot of people, especially Canadians, thought that O Canada! was full of stereotypes. I must not be that up to date with what Canadian stereotypes are because I didn’t really notice many of them while I watched the film. Instead, what I saw was how beautiful the landscapes that they presented were. They really dove into how amazing the outdoors are in Canada, with some powerful songs highlighting that effect along the way.
To me, the bigger issue with the film was that it felt more like a commercial saying “Come visit Canada” than a film that paid tribute to all of the awesome things that you could do there. It was basically just switching between cities and countryside and showing you all the activities that you could do.
Basically, I think my problems all boil down to the fact that there is no unifying narrator or story. Throughout the show, each scene has a different person narrating it (with their voices possibly being some of those stereotypes), so everything feels disjointed. There was never a point where I understood why they were jumping from one thing to another because boom suddenly we were in another place and someone else was talking. It just made everything feel all jumbled and between the outdated imagery and odd narrative choices, it was definitely time for a change.
Now I wasn’t the only person to feel this way and in 2005, reporter Jack Lakey began a rallying cry to rid O Canada! of its stereotypes and have Disney update the film. Over the years, Disney never wanted to spend the money to update this attraction, but then the Canadian Tourism Commission stepped in and managed to raise money for a restructuring of the film, with the original version closing August 6, 2007. With a Canadian organization on board, Disney drafted its most famous Canadian to star in the new version of O Canada!
In case you weren’t sure who it was, maybe nine Martin Shorts is enough to give you an idea of who Disney called on to lead the attraction. At this point, Martin Short had starred in Disney films like Father of the Bride and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause as well as a few other Disney Parks attractions in The Making of Me and the Monster Sound Show. So Marty definitely had the Disney resume to carry the attraction of the country he loved.
The new O Canada! debuted on September 1, 2007, and it couldn’t have come a moment sooner because 25 years was much too long for the original version. I’ve got to say, the new version of O Canada! was one of my favorite Epcot attractions because I really cannot get enough of Martin Short. His humor added so much life to a film that was previously devoid of a lot of fun, so it completely changed the whole idea behind the film, transforming it from a breathtaking promotion to a humorous look that provided a lot of love to our neighbors above.
Since it was simply an update, a lot of the footage remained the same, but the order and narrative was changed to such an extent that you didn’t really notice it was the same unless you were really looking for it. If I had one gripe with it, it would be that the new footage that they did use didn’t really utilize the fact that it was a CircleVision film. A lot of the Martin Short footage only used a couple of the screens or each screen showing the same footage, so it was a shame to not make the most of the experience.
With all of that said, the new O Canada! was clearly the superior show because it took the same footage and managed to get you excited about Canada. It managed to take the fatal flaw of its predecessor, its lack of unification, and make it the biggest strength of the new one with Marty narrating the entire thing.
Unfortunately, Marty’s time could not last as long as its predecessor, with O Canada closing just a few months ago on August 1, 2019. I was surprised that the attraction closed just 12 years after it opened, but since most of the footage in it was over 50 years old, it’s not the biggest surprise in the world.
Right now, the theater is home to Johnny Appleseed’s Apple Orchard during the Food & Wine Festival. I love that Johnny Appleseed is finally getting a chance to appear in the park, and I’m excited to get a chance to check out the area myself when I am there this weekend.
It’s nice that Johnny is there, but soon we’ll see a new, completely original film coming in January 2020 called Canada Far and Wide. It’ll be the first time that the Canada Pavilion has had a completely new film in its entire history, so I’m very excited to see what it will entail. There’s no word yet on whether Martin Short will be a part of the experience, though the fact that they haven’t announced anything yet does not bode well. Either way, I will miss O Canada! but I am very excited for what is soon to come.
Next week, I’ll be taking a look at the box office for Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, but the following week come back for an attraction abiding by these clues.
- This overlay only occurred during the spooky season.
- This overlay began in an Asian Disney park before moving stateside.
- This overlay could only been seen in the dark.
Via Know Your Meme
Thanks for reading and have a magical day!
Cole Geryak is a college Disney fan making his way through the world. He has ridden every single ride in Disneyland in one day, all while wearing a shirt and tie. Imagination is his middle name, and his heart truly lies in the parks.