Behind the Attraction

Since Disney+ was unveiled more than 18 months ago, the service has offered everything from new Marvel and Star Wars shows to old shows and films that harken back to viewers’ collective childhoods. But there’s been a pretty big gap in Disney+ from the start, and that would be programming focused on the Disney theme parks.

That gap is being filled now with Behind the Attraction, a 10-episode series produced by none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Behind the Scenes of Theme Park Legends

Behind the Attraction will arrive on Disney+ on July 16, tying into the arrival of another Disney/Dwayne Johnson collaboration: the new action blockbuster Jungle Cruise, co-starring Johnson and Emily Blunt, and inspired by the beloved theme-park attraction of the same name. Johnson’s joined by Dany Garcia and Brian Volk-Weiss as producers. Volk-Weiss, previously of Netflix’s documentary series The Toys That Made Us, will serve as director for each episode as well. The series will debut on July 16, 2021.

Per the press release from Disney+ today:

“Behind the Attraction” delves into Disney Parks’ rich, amazing history using archival and never-before-seen footage and photographs to unveil how the attractions came to be and how they’ve been refined over the years as new ideas surface and technology evolves.

Behind the Attraction will cover a wide gamut of the history of the Disney theme parks, though the list of episodes implies that most of the coverage will be – perhaps fittingly – on the original theme park, Anaheim’s Disneyland. Johnson himself will only appear in the first episode, focused on (what else?) the Jungle Cruise, talking about his memories of the attraction and his favorite joke from the Jungle Cruise skippers.

The entire series is narrated by Paget Brewster, whose career has spanned so much TV that some viewers will know her as Della Duck from DuckTales, others will know her as Emily Prentiss from CBS’ long-running procedural Criminal Minds, and some of us (read: me) will know her best from the very funny Fox sitcom Andy Richter Controls the Universe. And then there’s her great voice work on the alt-comedy podcast The Thrilling Adventure Hour.

But Behind the Attraction isn’t about the behind-the-scenes celebrities, but the attractions themselves. The 10 episodes – which, notably, will be released all at once, not once a week – cover some predictable favorites. Aside from the Jungle Cruise, episodes will also focus on The Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, and Star Tours. But there are a few installments that go beyond traditional attractions – one episode is squarely focused on the Disneyland Hotel, while another is titled “Trains, Trams, and Monorails.”

jungle cruise ride updates

What Comes Next

Now, some theme-park buffs (read: me) will tell you that the railroads of the Disney theme parks merit their own standalone episode in such a series. (The same goes for the monorails, too.) But we can hope that some of these episodes do what they promise: to highlight stories that you may not be familiar with about attractions that you love. (This is where it’s worth noting that while it’s a wonderfully themed location, the Disneyland Hotel isn’t exactly an “attraction”, per se.)

Perhaps the only head-scratcher of the 10 promised episodes is one that’s still under refurbishment: the Hall of Presidents. Now, you probably have a guess as to why the Hall of Presidents is closed. Disney’s Imagineers are presumably in the process of replacing the previous Audio-Animatronic of former President Donald Trump with that of President Joe Biden. Now, it’s a safe bet that Behind the Attraction is going to do its best to avoid any delving into the controversy surrounding…oh, you know, the whole “former President Donald Trump encouraged an insurrection on the U.S. Capitol when he lost an election after whining baselessly that it was rigged” thing. But if this series wants to focus on how the Disney theme parks champion the vision of America, there are other attractions it could do so with, such as the American Adventure at Epcot or Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. It’s…well, let’s just say interesting that the Hall of Presidents gets the spotlight in the first season instead.

And let’s do hope that Behind the Attraction inspires a second season. There are a number of marquee attractions not represented here, from Pirates of the Caribbean to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to Rise of the Resistance. If the show does well enough next month, maybe Johnson, Volk-Weiss and team can get to work on a second season. Die-hards and casual fans alike know there’s plenty more that Behind the Attraction can cover.

Behind the Attraction begins airing on Disney+ on Friday, July 16.

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