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WDW's Galaxy Palace Theater to be replaced with ... Cast Member parking ?!

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WDW's Galaxy Palace Theater to be replaced with ... Cast Member parking ?!

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"Don't it always seem to go,
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
and put up a parking lot."

-- Joni Mitchell, "Big Yellow Taxi"

I doubt that anyone -- not the choirs or the cheerleaders or all of the Cast Members that have performed here over the years -- would ever think of the Galaxy Palace Theater as paradise. Just one look under this Magic Kingdom stage at all of the piano crates that are used to help prop up this Tomorrowland venue makes it clear that this probably isn't the safest performance space on the planet.

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So it should come as no surprise that the Galaxy Palace Theater is going to be torn down shortly. Though the actual start date of this demolition project seems somewhat vague as of this moment (Some WDW insiders are telling me that this Tomorrowland performance space will be left in place 'til January 2009 so that the Magic Kingdom can then squeeze in one more holiday season of the "Mickey's 'Twas the Night Before Christmas" show. While other folks are saying that the Palace Theater will be flattened before Thanksgiving), what is known is what's going to replace the Galaxy Palace Theater. And that's a Cast Member parking lot.

I'm serious, people. A parking lot.

Now -- to be fair -- this is only supposed to be a temporary Cast Member parking lot. Specifically for those folks who now work in the Admin offices that are located on Main Street U.S.A.'s second floor.

Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

More to the point, a few years from now, once the economy recovers (More importantly, once the Imagineers finally get serious about revamping the Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland. This long-in-the-planning project reportedly includes a rather large "E" Ticket. An attraction that's supposedly so big that it would then have to be housed in a show building that would swallow up all of the space that the Galaxy Palace Theater, Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress and the old Tomorrowland Skyway Station currently occupies), then Disney will make far better use of this valuable piece of real estate. I hope.

I say "I hope" because the Disney Theme Parks are filled with rides, shows and attractions that were only supposed to be temporary. Take -- for example -- Mickey's Birthdayland. Which was only supposed to be in operation for one year, from 1988 to 1989. Now renamed Mickey's Toontown Fair, this strictly temporary new "land" celebrated its 20th anniversary at the Magic Kingdom back in June.

Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

So please forgive me if -- when I hear that the Galaxy Palace Theater is temporarily being replaced by a parking area -- I think that Disney World Cast Members will then be parking here (to borrow a phrase from this theater's next door neighbor, Buzz Lightyear) "To Infinity and Beyond !"

Anyway ... As for all of the performing troupes that used to appear on this Tomorrowland stage, I'm told that these groups are now being sent over to Disney's Hollywood Studios. Where all of these dancers, cheerleaders and high school bands will then be performing inside of the recently enclosed Backlot Theater.

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Speaking of which ... There's got to be some JHM readers out there who once appeared at the Galaxy Palace Theater. Do any of you have any memories that you'd like to share about the somewhat rickety Rockettower Plaza stage?

Your thoughts?

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  • Not the Carousel of Progress!  Granted, it's horribly, ridiculously out of date, but it was one of Walt's absolute favorites, and mine too.

    All right "Keep moving forward" and all that, yes, but I for one would much rather see the Carousel updated than removed!

  • I got to perform on this stage in 1988 with my showchoir. It was an awesome experience for the entire group that none of us will ever forget! After our 30 minute show in the hot Florida 98 heat, we had NO idea how costumed performers could go out there and do their thing without passing out!

    Perhaps the most amusing story was that during our show (which had a live band), there was a channel on Disney's soundboard that was malfunctioning. In between songs before the band had started, you could hear music playing on stage and in the audience that "wasn't" ours. Turns out that Tomorrowland's back ground music was bleeding into the sound system at the theater. About half way through the show, the rogue cable was found and pulled and the sounds of Tomorrowland were removed from our performance.

  • In the interest of a healthy initiative for Disney employees I think the admin staff can WALK like the rest of the cast!!!  No matter how poor the facility is I would rather that a theme park venue be kept as theme park venue and not a cast member area.  At least a Wall*E meet and greet would be better.

    Anyway, my best memory of this theatre was Disney's attempt at a Sci-Fi convention in the mid-90's.  I think it was only once and done but it was well attended.  It was only one weekend and it was included in the regular admission.  I recall a entertaining Q&A session with James Doohan from Star Trek plus Jonathan Harris and Billy Mumy from Lost in Space.

  • I've had the chance to perform on this stage, the America Gardens Theater (prior to being covered), and the Theater of the Stars (prior to being moved down the street). I can unequivocally say that this was by far the worst performance venue of the three, even with the floating dressing rooms at EPCOT. There's an insane amount of ambient noise from the TTA, and almost nothing separating you from the current parking lot behind the stage. MGM was fantastically upscale compared to the tomorrowland venue.

  • I've seen DL's COP and WDW's COP and Tokyo's rotating theatre attration "Welcome to the World" and it's one of those unique experiences that make the Magic Kingdoms special. But alas, the Carousel is long gone. Years ago I had a dream that I accidentally discovered all the old rides that had been retired  reassembled in a hidden area in Glendale. The rides were all in various states of decay and the show buildings were all grey steel buildings with exposed girders, but all the rides were fully functional. (dangerous, but functional) I was never so disappointed to wake up in my entire life.

    I love all those old rides, but I love to hear about all the new blue sky projects too. I hope the parking lot is short lived and Disney comes through with something really big to take its place. Do you have any real details?

  • The theatre and the skyway building are both old eyesores that need to go or be updated.  If that means losing the Carousel then so be it. (Don't tell my wife I said that though.)

    As to the parking lot...  See I've been to meetings in those buildings so I have a different perspective and I gotta say that something has to be done.  There a lot of women in working in those building and they mostly have to wear heels.  This is one cast member who doesn't mind sacrificing to make things a little easier for them.  My point is this:  Don't knock it till you've had to make the walk yourself and imagine doing it on a regular basis!

  • Well one potential plus is that the Carousel building should be movable.  In pieces, of course, but it may not have to be torn down and ruined.

    I do have a question, though -- what's in the back part of the Skyway building?  Looking at a satellite image, it's bigger than I thought.  Was that whole space used for the queue?

  • Sorry, but I can't gather a lot of sympathy for some admin folks who don't want to be bothered riding the shuttle from backstage to the Utilidors entrance like all the hourly cast members.

    It used to be that the Company would provide very few perks or spend money on infrastructure for admins and execs. Disneyland went for years using old farmhouses saved during construction until they finally got around to bulding an administration building (and the story always was that the only reason it got built was because the Primeval World diorama got a home in addition to the admin types).  As you can see with the Team Disney buildings in the various parks and at the Studios, those days are long gone...

  • A couple of facts to get in the way of folks opinions:

    Fact #1 - the scenery for the Christmas show is currently being installed on this stage.  I saw it today.

    Fact #2 - there is an employee bus that will take you from the Pluto cast member lot to the existing parking lot between Main Street and Tomorrowland.  No reason to walk the tunnel.  

  • The backside of the Skyway building in Tomorrowland, from what I remember, was the storage area for all of the Skyway gondolas when the ride was closed.  Sort of a "Skyway garage"!

  • Well now that does make sense.  I should have known they wouldn't leave them all hanging on the lines!  Thanks, brotherdave.

  • And throwing all this into chaos is the news that Disney has filed the permits to have repairs made to the skyway building.  So much for all of this.

  • Anyone remember Tabasco?  They used to perform at the Galaxy Palace Theater back in the 80's and early 90's.  Good times.

  • I remember Tabasco, they performed mainly at the Tomorrowland Terrace and occassionally at the Theatre.  Some of their videos are on youtube.

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