On a recent visit to Disneyland with some friends, we took the opportunity to see the return of Captain Eo, which Disneyland brought back as a tribute to Michael Jackson due to Michael’s death last year. The attraction is billed as the “Captain Eo Tribute” as opposed to just Captain Eo. And the attraction is replacing “Honey, I Shrunk The Audience” 3-D attraction which I think is what originally replaced Captain Eo in the first place when Disneyland pulled the attraction.
The attraction starts out with a “pre-show” which Disneyland highlighted was the original pre-show from when Captain Eo first premiered back in 1986. And I think the pre-show just really showcased how attention spans have gotten considerably shorter, as the pre-show just dragged on and on and on endlessly where the footage would have been sliced and spliced considerably more if it was being made for today’s audiences to keep the pace moving. It showcased some of the casting, the rehearsal process, and the making of Captain Eo. The pre-show was also hammering down the notion of how landmark Captain Eo is as a collaboration of Michael Jackson (arguably at his peak of popularity), George Lucas (still hot off the heels of the success of his original Star Wars Trilogy), Francis Ford Coppola (a legendary director) and of course, Disney. Okay, we get it, big names bring big expectations.
As the previous screening group filtered out of the theater and our group made our way in, they attendant gave the film a little history to highlight when it premiered to when it was finally removed and invited us to sit back and enjoy the nostalgic trip to the past and once again see Captain Eo as it was originally presented. Unfortunately, they had no way to temporarily make you forget about all the years between 1986 and 2010 to better appreciate Captain Eo in all it’s 1986 glory.
In all honesty, I don’t remember Captain Eo being so terrible as this was. It was absolutely dreadful. I couldn’t help but snicker and laugh throughout the screening because it was just not striking any nostalgic value for me. I do remember having seen Captain Eo during it’s original run at Disneyland, but couldn’t remember the specifics of it. I don’t remember the floor bouncing and shaking as much as it did, and in general, just didn’t remember how lousy Michael Jackson’s acting was and how for a lack of a better term, the whole concept was just too gay for words. And while the 3-D of it might have been state-of-the-art at the time, in the post “Avatar” era, Captain Eo just looks like gimmicky 3-D tricks for the sake of making it 3-D.
About the only thing going for it for me was that I never realized how the evil queen creature in Captain Eo was very much like the Borg Queen from the “Star Trek: First Contact” movie. Perhaps the Star Trek writers stole the idea from Captain Eo, as the Captain Eo attraction predates the introduction of the Borg Queen by about a decade. However, the similarities were amusing, some of my giggles were thinking, maybe “Star Trek: First Contact” would have ended a lot differently if Mr. Data would have tried a song and dance, along with some crotch grabbing and yelling “Whoooooh” as Michael Jackson is known for.
In any case, it was a rare opportunity to see a Disneyland attraction resurrected from the dead, and given another chance to delight some and frighten others. The attraction did give rise to the opportunity to learn a great new word from one of my new friends I met that day named Chuck, who we met for lunch and then joined us later in the day but wasn’t there for our screening of Captain Eo. The word he introduced me to was the word “Fantard” and it was used in the context of his describing when he went and saw the Captain Eo resurrection and overheard a couple of Michael Jackson “fantards” who were commenting that Captain Eo was so good, Disneyland never should have closed it down in the early 90’s when they did.
In any case, whether you like Michael Jackson or not, whether you’re a “fantard” or not, if you get the chance to make to Disneyland while they’re running Captain Eo, it may be worth it for nostalgic value or even just fits of giggles at how terrible it is. Check it out, but only do it once, I can’t imagine suffering through that again more than once in any one trip to Disneyland. I may see it once again on my next trip to Disneyland just to make sure I wasn’t being a little too harsh. But I think it’s pretty safe to say that Captain Eo as a collaboration between Michael Jackson, George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, and Disney is still gayer than Will & Grace ever was.