The Nerd Herd

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Requiem for a Playground

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It goes without saying that the Nerd Herd is eagerly anticipating the creation of a “Star Wars Land” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Combined with the expected “Toy Story Land”, Hollywood Studios will eventually rival the current “king of the immersive nerd mountain,” the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal.

But with each technologically advanced addition to Walt Disney World, we tend to lose the more simplistic attractions that form the basis of some of our most endearing vacation memories. Most recently, for example, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train cost us Pooh’s playful spot and Story Book Circus cost us Mickey’s Toontown Fair.

01_2011_HISTKPNow Disney has announced they will be closing the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure to make way for Star Wars Land. More commonly referred to as the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground (HISTKP) in Disney Nerd circles, this play land (themed after the 1989 hit movie) has always served as backdrop for some wonderful WDW vacations memories for our family.

As the 2012 Color Companion to Walt Disney World describes, the HISTKP is an “elaborate playground” with “tunnels, slides, rope ladders, and various oversized props” all designed to make you feel miniaturized.

Original Ant Man?

Original Ant Man?

I recall on my first ever trip to WDW in 1999 being overjoyed running underneath the giant blades of grass, getting wet by the leaky garden hose, and jumping on the tree roots to make music. I wasn’t climbing the giant spider web with kids; I was one of the kids. I laughed out loud when the giant dog’s nose sneezed on me. And I waited patiently with the rest of the toddlers (I was a 24 year old toddler) for a chance to get my photo on the giant chirping ant.

It was no surprise that when I returned to WDW in 2001 for my honeymoon I made sure we spent some carefree time back at HISTKP. Sure, getting honeymoon photos taken in front of the castle in the Magic Kingdom is romantic, but it doesn’t compare being surrounded by 30 ft. tall blades of grass.

Honeymooning among the blades...

Honeymooning among the blades…

As our family grew, we found our appreciation for HISTKP only deepen. Sure, it was fun to climb, slide and jump around with our kids. But more importantly, it was a time that THEY determined what we did. After being dragged around from attraction to attraction, from park to park, our kids were in charge. Were we going to climb in the spider web? It was their decision. Did we want to spend more time in the tunnels? They made the call.

Andrew playing under the mushrooms...what a "fun guy"

Andrew playing under the mushrooms…what a “fun guy”

It’s been evident for several years that HISTKP’s time was coming to an end. While still fun, many of the props were outdated. For instance, we had to explain to our son Andrew what “film” was after he slid down the Kodak canister slide. He insisted he was sliding out of a battery. He held onto this belief long enough to teach his little sister on her first visit to HISTKP that she was on “the battery slide”.

"What is this 'film' you are speaking of?"

“What is this ‘film’ you are speaking of?”

As single adults, HISTKP always made us feel like kids again. As parents, it gave our children a much needed break from standing in line and gave us the opportunity to play with them on their level. As I watch WDW build more “E Ticket” attractions, and expand with extremely immersive experiences, I pray that the Imagineers don’t lose sight of the value of the simpler attractions, and the significance they play in building positive memories for all the kids (real ones and transformed ones) that travel to Orlando for vacation.

2010_Leah_petalslide 2010_Andrew_FilmSlide  2010_Spiderweb

RIP HISTKP – we will surely miss you.

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