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"Stitch Live!" adds irreverant, interactive fun to Walt Disney Studios

"Stitch Live!" adds irreverant, interactive fun to Walt Disney Studios

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I'm not saying that my son is a big "Lilo & Stitch" fan. But when he learned that our family would be driving over to the Disneyland Paris Resort to attend a preview of "Stitch Live!," look which outfit Christopher chose to wear?

Photo by Kara Johnson-Craven

Though this new Walt Disney Studios Park attraction doesn't officially open to the public 'til next month, annual passholders were invited to come by the theme park this past weekend. DLPR execs were there as well to get some sense of how this resort's first "Living Character Initiative" show would be received by the regular guests.

Photo by Kara Johnson-Craven

FYI: "Stitch Live!" is located inside of the Walt Disney Television Studios building. Which used to be home to a rather limp behind-the-scenes tour of the French headquarters for the Disney Channel.

That said, this new WDSP attraction still has a somewhat tenuous tie to the Disney Channel. In that we're supposedly making use of this cable channel's advance technology (i.e. the gold satellite dish that you see perched on top of the "Stitch Live!" marquee in the photo below) when it finally comes time to link up with Experiment 626 in deep space.

Photo by Eric Craven

As for the interior portion of the queue for this new Disney Studios show, this area continually reminds you as well that you're allegedly about to enter a Disney Channel France facility. As the six monitors in this pre-show area -- when they're not displaying other-worldly graphics -- are running ads for DC programs like "Hannah Montana."

 Photo by Eric Craven

Every 20 minutes or so, a new group of guests is let into the main theater area. When our hostess stands in front of this huge video display and -- after welcoming the audience -- quickly links up to that satellite ...

Photo by Eric Craven

... we're now in direct communication with Stitch. Who -- given that he immediately turns two ray guns on the audience -- doesn't initially seem all that glad to see us.

 Photo by Eric Craven

But once Stitch realizes that we're not Gantu (It seems that Experiment 626 has just "borrowed" the good Captain's ship. And this little blue alien is now using Gantu's star cruiser to hot rod around the universe), the guns quickly get put away and Stitch then begins chatting with the audience.

And given that "Stitch Live!" is truly an interactive attraction, every show is different. Take -- for example -- what happened when my son was sitting down front. Experiment 626 was just yakking away when he suddenly stopped cold. Staring intently at Christopher, Stitch then seemed very confused. "What am I doing out there? How can I be in two places at the same time?"

My son then patiently explained to this obviously rattled alien that he was just some little boy in a costume. That he -- the on-screen version of Experiment 626 -- was still the one & only Stitch. Once the little blue alien heard this, he wiped his brow with obvious relief and then continued on with the show.

Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

And that one brief exchange with Stitch just made Christopher's day. Sure, he loved the rest of this show, where the audience had to work together in order to restore gravity on the spaceship as well as help Experiment 626 make the jump to light speed. And the very end of this new WDSP attraction, where you have to shout out directions to Stitch so that he can avoid being captured by Gantu, was fun too.

But that moment where the "Living Character" version of Stitch singled out my son to talk to, quizzing him about his costume as well as where he lived in Germany ... That just blew Christopher's mind. For the rest of the day, my son had the biggest grin on his face. Because the really-for-real Experiment 626 had spoken with him.

Is "Stitch Live!" for everyone? Well, easily offended types might have trouble with the moment in the show where Experiment 626 first sticks a finger up his nostril and then flicks a booger at the audience. But if you can handle that teeny bit of gross-out humor, this new "Living Character" show is a welcome addition to Walt Disney Studios' array of attractions.

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  • This is another of the growing interactive shows that are showing up at WD Parks. Turtle talk with Crush, Monster's Inc Laugh Factory. I just hope it doesnt get played out where there are too many of these type shows.

  • they are just planning to have one of these in each resort.

    Only left is Tokyo.

  • I agree with Zootube,   Balance is important for every living character iniative disney needs to have a great signature attraction like Everest or Soarin...  Pirates . Its a small world, Haunted Mansion, etc.    The things that have made Disney special. Also very important  a balance of character based attractions  vs non character based... Again what makes disney special is important

  • As long as there's no chili dog smell, I can handle a little booger humor. ;P It actually looks like fun, sorry I won't be able to see it.

  • I was wondering how they handled the whole French / English language barrier?  Is Stitch bilingual?

  • I have to say that Turtle Talk and the Laugh Floor are pretty awesome, but I agree that this is too prevalent of a technology. I would love to see more living initiative animatronics as opposed to living initiative characters on a screen. The Bunsen Honeydew and Beeker thing shows great promise in that department and I haven't even seen that yet.

    Does anyone else feel like they are pushing the whole interactive thing too much? Buzz, Turtle Talk, Spaceship Earth, Toy Story Mania?

    I don't feel the need to interact with the attraction. I can really enjoy just sitting back and letting the attraction and it's atmosphere and it's story, etc. take me away, without me having to push buttons on a monitor or fire weapons or talk to the screen. Peter Pan can totally transport me and all I have to do is sit there and soak it all in. I think they feel that kids today need something more, but my 9 year old enjoys Peter Pan, Snow White, etc. just as much as she does Buzz and Crush.

  • I agree, we don't want too many of these type of attractions. However, I'm all for replacing the current Stich Attraction in Orlando with this! Probably never see it happen with MiLF right next door but it would still be better than what we have now!

  • I think Tokyo'd get Stitch too, since they are getting their own Stitch toon over there.

  • Flicking a booger at the audience is the antithesis of what I expect from a Disney attraction.

  • I don't care what happens as long as I can go to Tomorrowland and see Wall-E rolling around picking up trash.

  • We don't need a ton of these attractions...but on the other hand, we've got two in Florida (in different parks, too) and one or none in the other resorts.  Unless Disney goes haywire and decides to add many, MANY more of these I think we're far from having it be overplayed yet.

  • I agree, they should incorporate the technology with real animatronics, either a free form platform that can be directed through the parks or on rides. Either way, as a kid, what is more magical than something that you know is not real interacting with you. It is the ultimate child’s fantasy. I am all for moving this technology forward to make eye contact with a guest and interact with him/her to help extinguish the line from reality to fantasy.

  • I guess I'm trying to say, keep moving in the direction of "lucky the Dinosaur" and the Muppets Beaker thingy and incorporate that in a few C and D attractions throughout the parks.

  • Yep, I agree with everyone here:  This technology is a pretty good idea, but should definitely not be overused.  

    And also, Lucky and Bunsen and Beaker are totally where the future of imagineering *should* be at, if you ask me.  Obviously the digital interactive experiences are cheaper (and so, sigh, of course, Disney will love them til we're sick of them), but I absolutely believe that NOTHING can compare to a really-for-real animatronic standing in front of you.

    Five words:  Jack Skellington, Haunted Mansion Holiday.  A life-size, moving and talking Jack Skellington impressed me just as much in my 20s as it would have when I was 5 (if that movie had been out then, anyway).  Real life is way harder to pull off - and way more worth it - than some stupid screen.

    It's really not that far from a video game being played by someone you can't see.  I can do that sort of thing at home.  Give me something worth the price of admission and I'll keep coming back for more.  :)

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