Friday, July 1, 2011

Disney Dreamboat: The Dreamfinder

Sorry bout it, Naveen. Ti-Ti has my full attention.
It's no secret that there are some serious hottie patotties in the wonderful world of Disney. Good-looking guys are a staple of both the movies and the parks. Face it, we have all had a crush on Prince Eric from the moment we laid eyes on him in 1989 and remember that adorable Prince Naveen now captured forever in that Facebook photo. To tell the truth, I couldn't have cared less about Naveen in the moment, charming as he may have been. I was all about Tiana.

Much noise is made about the lovely ladies of Disney films, but not as much about the handsome gents at their sides. Part of the draw towards wanting to be a princess has always been the fact that the position would come with your very own prince, who were always romantic, polite and quite dashing to boot. The girls were no doubt the stars of many of the films, but the boys were always there too. They provided role models for the little boys (bravery, good-heartedness, persistence) and crush material for the gay boys and girls (eyes, smile, hair).

I have decided to celebrate the men of Disney in a series of blog entries. Not just the princes, mind you. They are yummy, no doubt, but many of them are empty calories. I will look in the parks, in the non-princess movies, in the live action movies and anywhere else in the Disney Universe. I am also going to explore a bit to find that unexpected dreamboat sailing the DisneySea. The ones that you may have forgotten were so cute. Maybe even the ones you never knew about.

It's cool looking and all, but it must be a pain to park.
We will kick it all off with one of my personal favorites- The Dreamfinder from the original "Journey Into Imagination" ride at Epcot, which is now defunct. First off, let me say that the ride currently in operation is a scraggly little impostor who only wishes it was as amazing as the original ride, which I remember from when I was a child and left a huge impression on me. Yes I am aware that dates me. I am going to pretend to be fine with that fact and move on.

The ride was overhauled in the late 90's, eliminating both the Dreamfinder and his rad sidekick Figment. After realizing their gaffe, they redid the ride once again to incorporate the beloved Figment and the classic Sherman Brothers "One Little Spark" song, but the Dreamfinder seems to be lost forever. Apparently the original ride system itself was completely destroyed for the newer versions, so it would be impossible to switch back to the old incarnation even if they wanted to. In its current state, the ride ties imagination to the use the five senses to put more emphasis on the science, and is a big letdown when compared to the whimsical amazingness that the original provided.

Nothing at all gay about that. Nope. Nothing.
Watching the Youtube video ride-through, I am still impressed by the creativity on display. We meet the Dreamfinder and Figment, his purple pigmented friend, as they explore using imagination in relation to the arts, such as theatre and literature, and sciences. Using audio-animatronics, projections and atmosphere, the ride really transports you into what it must be like inside the collective brains of the imagineers. It doesn't seem dated or lame watching it today.

They have taken what was once magical and made it pedestrian now. Though I don't remember specifics of the ride from when I was little, I remember the feeling of sheer joy that I still to this day associate with the ride, the characters and Epcot. Now the only thing you'll associate with the ride is the disgusting odor they pump out into your face (consider yourself warned) and the obvious corporate flop sweat behind selling Figment themed merch, which I will admit to buying. They had a really awesome 80's-licious Figment t-shirt. Don't judge me. I needed it. How ironic is it that the Imagination Pavilion at Epcot is currently the least imaginative in the park? Boo hiss.
The glasses are a nice touch.
They always make someone look smarter.

Now, I know that audio animatronics can be a little bit creepy looking and that some of the guys they had playing the Dreamfinder were a bit on the not too cute side, but overall I still think he's a dish.

There's something about his dapper style of dress. It takes a confident individual to pull of a purple suit with vest, top hat, and gloves and the Dreamfinder does so with aplomb. He has the same appeal as Santa from the Santa Claus is Comin' to Town Rankin/Bass special before his hair goes white- bright red mane, not too skinny, not too fat, jolly, kind and vivacious.

In all honesty, I don't understand how he is not more of a bear icon, with his big, bushy ginger beard and hair. I'm also a sucker for a guy with an accent, so his British vocal affectations get me all swoony. He can sing, too, which is always a plus.

As someone who can't wait to be a daddy, I also think it's adorable how sweet and paternal he is with Figment, encouraging him to explore his imagination and supporting whatever Figment dreams up. If you look at it in parental terms, the Dreamfinder is actually a pretty fantastic dad. And there is nothing sexier than a man who is a great father.

Really I'll find any excuse to squeeze in
an awesome Stitch picture.
There were rumblings that Journey Into Imagination was going to get a major overhaul and the Dreamfinder would be a part of the ride once again, but they have died down of late and that area of Epcot remains a bit of a wasteland. It is sad. Hopefully they will come to their senses and realize that there is so much potential both in an area of Epcot devoted to the imagination and in these characters that were created thirty some odd years ago. It says something that all these years later, these guys are still so vividly wedged in my brain.

Actually, come to think about it, I don't look all that unlike the Dreamfinder, except balder and more casual. So please refrain from leaving comments about how weird looking he is. I will take it personally.

I would however love to hear your suggestions for Disney Dreamboats that should be covered in the future. Which Disney dude is your Prince Charming?

1 comment:

  1. Flynn Rider won me over. He makes me laugh and who doesn't love that?!
    And he's not a person (and as a child, I rarely was either), but I've always loved Tramp. I used to pretend I was Lady and dreamed of Tramp (that's what happens when you don't let your children have pets, they turn into their own pets!).
    Those are the first 2 that come to mind... :)