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Fridays with Jim Korkis: Dick Tracy’s Crime-Stoppers at Walt Disney World



By Dave Shute

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

THE DICK TRACY’S CRIME-STOPPPERS ATTRACTION

By Jim Korkis

Dick Tracy (1990) was an expensive movie produced by the Walt Disney Company through its Touchstone brand.

Even as film production got underway in February 1989, CEO Michael Eisner had Walt Disney Imagineering develop a major “E Ticket” attraction for the Disney MGM Studios park (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios) that would capture the excitement of the film.

It was to be called Dick Tracy’s Crime-Stoppers, based on a term used in Chet Gould’s popular comic strip of the character.

The attraction was to be located at the end of Sunset Boulevard in the area that now includes Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster and the Tower of Terror, in a section called Chicagoland that would have been themed to Chicago during the wild Roaring Twenties.

The exterior of the attraction building would have looked like a warehouse on a seedy waterfront street. In addition, there would have been a food and beverage location and merchandise shop devoted to selling Dick Tracy merchandise and promoting possible movie sequels.

The ride attraction would put guests inside an old-fashioned roadster as it roared through the streets of Chicago of the 1920s when vicious gangsters ruled the city.

As they careened at seemingly dizzying speeds with the vehicle lurching back and forth wildly through buildings, over bridges, and past the Chicago docks, they would have confronted audio-animatronic infamous Dick Tracy crooks, except the guests were armed with their own tommy guns so they could participate in the bullet blazing action from the movie.

The cars would have been based on the same type of vehicle that was later used in Disneyland’s Indiana Jones attraction and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Dinosaur attraction. It would have been able to safely recreate rocking and tipping movements of a high-speed chase.

The gun system was based on one that was later incorporated into Walt Disney World’s Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and Disneyland’s Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters. It would later be utilized in Toy Story Midway Mania.

Basically, in the Crimestoppers’ attraction, the guns would shoot a stream of light (with machine gun sound effects) at objects that would react when hit like a rattling trash can or the sound of shattering window.

Supposedly, part of the concept was that sometimes different things could happen each time you shot something which would increase the rideability of the attraction like shooting the top off of the trash can or the scream of a cat from inside of it.

Of course, this violent action brought up the concern about whether this fit into the Disney brand to have guest participate activities like shooting at people, even if they were only audio-animatronics.

The concept renderings are very reminiscent of the streets under the elevated tramway at the American Waterfront of Tokyo Disney Sea.

Eisner expected that the film would do so well that Disneyland would’ve gotten a whole new addition called Hollywoodland that would’ve been an idealized version of the film capital’s “Golden Age” from the ‘20s and ‘30s. A version of Dick Tracy’s Crime-Stoppers would’ve been the major new attraction there as well.

Disney sadly over-estimated star Warren Beatty’s box office appeal, and the public’s interest or connection with the character. However, the park did feature a live-action stage show, Diamond Double Cross, featuring Dick Tracy, and there was a display of costumes and props from the movie at the park as well.

With no excitement surrounding the initial release, no sequels on the way, EuroDisney bleeding money, and no new Tracy merchandise to push, there was little reason to build an expensive new attraction.

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Thanks, Jim!  And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his new books Vault of Walt: Volume 10: Final Edition  Kungaloosh! The Mythic Jungles of Walt Disney World and Hidden Treasures of Walt Disney World Resorts: Histories, Mysteries, and Theming, much of which was first published on this site.

 

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