Drawing on Anthony Giddens’ idea of ontological security, this chapter considers fan reactions when favourite rides are closed or replaced. First it explores fan responses to the closure of the Maelstrom ride at Walt Disney World's EPCOT Park which was replaced by attractions based on the animated film Frozen and how opposition was linked to the importance of ‘classic attractions’ to the park's history and Disney's brand, and a desire to remain ‘true to’ EPCOT's original emphasis upon education. Second, the chapter looks at how Disney's abandoned River Country Water Park in Florida has offered some of the most detailed instances of fan archiving, curation and discussion online, considering what remembering, representing and discussing the park online offers fans within participatory theme park culture.
Keywords: ontological security, fan remembrance, archives, fan endings
This chapter considers another common element of theme park fandom; fan responses to the closure of favourite attractions or, in some extreme cases, entire parks. Whilst Rahn (2011) has discussed the upgrade of Disney's Snow White ride in relation to changes to the rides’ narrative structure and Olympia Kiriakou (2017) has discussed nostalgia for previous versions of the Disney Parks, little work in theme park, tourism, nor audience studies has explored how fans react when beloved rides are replaced. However, the loss of fannish places is worthy of our attention since such moments enable researchers to ‘examine the role that sites of fan-tourism have on fans’ memory-making processes and the ways in which these processes are affected when these sites close’ (Jones 2017). The closure and replacement of favourite places or attractions is part and parcel of theme park fandom which is
entrenched in a perpetual and oftentimes nerve-wracking sense of physical evolution […] the landscape of Walt Disney World is always changing, and remains unstable and forever ‘incomplete’. Maintenance and building are ongoing processes, and attractions, hotels and entertainment complexes are constantly being built, modified or dismantled. In short, virtually every visit to the World has the potential to be different from the last.