Welcome to the very first “Beyond the World” article here on “Ink and Paint in the Parks!” Walt Disney may have been a pioneer in both the field of animation and themed entertainment, but the parks he and his company have built over the years aren’t the only ones where guests can come face to face with popular cartoon characters. From the black and white toons of the medium’s early days to the latest CGI blockbusters, wide variety of animated properties have been featured in a theme park environment, and this is certainly true at Central Florida’s various attractions. In this new monthly column, I’ll be sharing photos showcasing how animation has inspired aspect of these parks just I have with Walt Disney World for nearly two years now, beginning with the Mouse’s biggest Orlando rival.
Universal Orlando Resort likes to distinguish itself as Florida’s edgier, more thrilling alternative to Disney’s fairy tale charms, and this attitude is on full display at “The Simpsons Ride.” Since replacing “Back to the Future: The Ride” in 2008, this simulator attraction has sent Universal Studios Florida guests on an out-of-control ride through Krusty the Clown’s “Krustyland” theme park with America’s favorite dysfunctional cartoon family. Complicating things further is Bart’s murderous arch-nemesis, Sideshow Bob, who has escaped from jail and now aims to make the Simpson family’s trip to the park the last they’ll ever take. Given the ride’s setting, it should come as no surprise that plenty of satirical jabs at the theme park experience pop up throughout the attraction, including some pointed squarely at Universal’s Orlando neighbors and even a few at their own expense.
Long-time fans of the animated sitcom should remember that “The Simpsons Ride” isn’t the only time a theme park visit turned into a life-or-death struggle for Homer and family. In the Season 6 episode, “Itchy and Scratchy Land,” the Simpsons took a trip to an ultra-violent version of Disneyland based around Bart and Lisa’s favorite cartoon: “The Itchy and Scratchy Show.” While their time at the park certainly didn’t start out smoothly, things went from bad to worse when the family found themselves stranded there as a group of haywire animatronic began going on a murderous rampage, shades of “Westworld” and “Jurassic Park.” Clips from this classic episode, as well as several others that have parodied theme parks, are screened in the queue for “The Simpsons Ride” to help give Universal Studios guest a taste as to how their own “Krustyland” experience could “possib-lie go wrong.”
For more “Beyond the World” articles, be sure to check back on the second Thursday of each month as we continue to explore how Orlando celebrates animation outside the boundaries of the House of Mouse!