Disney has just announced that a new original “pop history” docuseries focused on Disney Parks attractions will be debuting Friday, July 16th on Disney+. Behind the Attraction is a 10-episode, hourlong series produced by Seven Bucks Production (co-founded by part-time Jungle Cruise skipper Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) in partnership with Brian Volk-Weiss, the creator behind the hit Netflix pop-culture docuseries “The Toys That Made Us.”
In the summer issue of Disney twenty-three magazine, Volk-Weiss explained the show’s genesis:
“I got a call from Dwayne’s company asking to collaborate on a show together, and after developing a few ideas, we landed on a deep-dive series that focused on the Disney parks and attractions. We tried to really embrace the story behind each attraction and focus on the joy and brilliant work of the Imagineers did to breathe life into it.”
To properly tell the authentic stories behind the Disney attractions and the people who built them, the show’s producers required access to archival materials and other original sources. Thankfully, Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) was eager to contribute to the project. According to Volk-Weiss, WDI President Bob Weis was an enthusiastic partner: “After we got his thumbs-up we then received access that, to be honest, I still can’t believe we got. I saw things that… well, let’s just say we saw a few things that I can’t talk about ’til the 2030s!”
The Disney Parks Blog shared that WDI’s contributions went beyond background information and will include on-screen appearances in the form of “exclusive interviews with Disney Legends and dozens of past and present Imagineers, including Bob Weis, Jeanette Lomboy, Kim Irvine, Scott Trowbridge, Tom Fitzgerald, Scot Drake, Carmen Smith, Joe Rohde, and others.”
Imagineer Mark LaVine explained to Disney twenty-three magazine “We know our guests love much of what we create in the parks, but I’m not sure how many of them realize that behind each attraction and experience is a somewhat long journey from initial idea to the final construction.”
By now you are probably wondering what Disney Parks attractions will be featured in the show. By piecing together bits from the Disney twenty-three magazine and Disney Parks Blog features on the series, here’s our educated guess on what the 10-episodes will focus on:
- Jungle Cruise
- “It’s a small world”
- Haunted Mansion
- Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
- Space Mountain
- Star Tours
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- Disneyland Hotel
- Disney Park castles
- Disney Park transportation systems
The Disney Parks Blog indicated that all 10 episodes will be available when the series debuts on July 16th, which is a bit of a departure from past practice with new original content dropping on Disney+. That means you can celebrate Disneyland’s birthday on Saturday, July 17th by binging 10 hours of content about the history of Disney Parks attractions, which is pretty cool.
Disney announced that the first episode of Behind the Attractions will appropriately focus on the Jungle Cruise. Disney twenty-three magazine noted the episode will contain footage of Disney Legends Bill Evans, Harper Goff, and Marc Davis. Also in the episode is Imagineer Jeanette Lomboy who told the magazine: “The first generation of Imagineers was awe-inspiring for their inventiveness, and it’s pretty miraculous to see what they were able to accomplish in less than a year of not just building the Jungle Cruise attraction, but constructing all of Disneyland.”
The inclusion of Imagineers in the series, both past and present, marks their ever-growing presence on Disney+. Previous shows, including The Imagineering Story and One Day at Disney, also highlighted the many contributions of Imagineers. Disney Parks and history fans have widely praised these series, and will undoubtedly have high expectations for Behind the Attraction.
These show help connect the parks and attractions from all eras back to Walt’s original vision for Disneyland. The original Imagineers not only sought to build attractions to entertain adults and children alike, they aimed to create unique experiences that guests couldn’t find anywhere else in the world.
LaVine picks up on this point in his comments to the magazine:
“…no matter when something was created be it back at the beginning with Walt Disney directing the work himself or our very latest generation of Imagineers, there is a consistent drive to push farther, challenge what’s been done before, and never take the easy way out when designing our lands, attractions, hotels and more. It’s in our DNA. It’s a through line that spans 70 years and one that I hadn’t really thought about until looking at the finished episodes back-to-back.”
The good news is that the team behind the series is eager to share even more about Disney attractions. Producer Brian Gerwitz let slip to Disney twenty-three magazine that “we wanted to hit as many iconic attractions as possible, but also be able to have more stories to tell for future seasons.” Future seasons!