Belated YouTube and podcast recommendation: I’ve been a fan of the Theme Park Stop channel for a while, where Alicia Stella does videos about theme park news and rumors, mostly focused on Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. She somehow manages to make even speculation about patent applications interesting, and she also does a killer impression of Mickey Mouse from the Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway ride.
I haven’t had much time for podcasts since I stopped having to commute, so I missed out on a recent episode of their podcast featuring my real-life pal Dave Cobb. He was talking about the Men In Black: Alien Attack attraction at Universal Studios Orlando, a project on which he was the creative director. It’s a great conversation about the planning and development of the ride, with hosts who not only know the ride inside and out, but are big fans of it not only as theme park guests, but people who try to closely follow the business.
Dave is super-generous with his time, enthusiasm, knowledge, credit, and friendship, and he and his husband have been my hosts in LA and for Disneyland gay days more times than I’ll ever be able to pay back. It’s fun hearing him talk about a project he’s proud of, sharing his personal contributions and emphasizing the work of so many different people that went into making it.
It’s also a reminder of how the ride is the highlight of Universal Studios Orlando, and I’m not just saying that because I’m biased. I’ve got to admit that I’ve always been kind of an a-hole about Universal Orlando, because I immediately forget that I’m an adult and instead revert back to being an insufferably hyper-critical guest (and rabid Disney Parks fan) in my late teens and early 20s.1And in the summer in Orlando, no less, which just added to the feeling of irritation. I only got to ride Men in Black for the first time a few years ago, and it was immediately clear how there’s a level of thoughtfulness that went into that attraction, from start to finish, that you rarely see even now, in the post-Wizarding World of Harry Potter era. As they say at the beginning of the podcast, there’s a reason it’s lasted 20 years in a park that is constantly changing!