Hello & welcome to A Look at Disney and it is that most frightful time of year. I need an intro that is more fitting for today’s topic. Ah, I’ve got it.
Reader, beware ! You’re in for a scare!
Yes, Goosebumps. What child of the ’90s doesn’t remember Goosebumps? For many a ’90s child, this was their first foray into the world of horror and R.L. Stine’s books were huge , they led to a TV series, computer games, toys, and next year, a film adaption starring Jack Black as R.L. Stine. Okay, who made that last one up? Because that can’t be…
What do ya know? That is real. Now, you are probably wondering, why am I bringing up Goosebumps on a blog all about Disney? The answer lies in MGM Studios. For you see, there was a short-lived Goosebumps stage show at MGM Studios in the ’97 -’98 time frame. Now, I’ve never seen this in person and scrounging up information on this attraction was near impossible. But I have wanted to look at this thing for some time now. But seeing as I’m not the biggest Goosebumps fan in the world, I knew I might need an opinion from someone that is more informed on this franchise. A Second Opinion, if you will and that’s when I remembered my collab partner reviewed Goosebumps books last Halloween and knows this series quite well. Please welcome back to A Look at Disney, The Second Opinion.
The Second Opinion: Thank you! Thank you! I have to say, Iâ€™m looking forward to following up last Halloween with this. Although, I have to admit, I really had no idea what about Goosebumps warrants a stage show. A movie in which Stine himself is a character might be able to fill a runtime (and if not, we all know Jack Black will find a way), but what in the series is there to put on a stage and entertain an audience for an entire production? The draw of Goosebumps didnâ€™t really have much to do with a particular mascot or a particular story. Sure it had Slappy the Dummy, Monster Blood, and Horrorland, but it was more the general promise of splurging on no-holds-barred horror (for preteens, anyway), with enough flashy covers to collect like trading cards. Stine was never one to turn down a chance to expand his already-enormous franchise, but Iâ€™m not sure even his writing ever got bad enough to think this was a quality idea.
Moviefan12: I think the answer lies less in Stine and more in Disney, themselves. While MGM Studios, (now Hollywood Studios) is my favorite of the four parks at Disney World. It had a bit of an identity crisis for a while and Disney would throw anything into this park to see if it stuck. After all, this is the same park that had the Ninja Turtles in the early ’90s and a show based on the Disney classic, Ace Ventura.
The Second Opinion: Wow, that sheds some light on things. I mean, I guess I could understand the Ninja Turtles, who seem up to just about anything, but Ace Ventura? Unless they actually got Jim Carrey and paid him everything such an unexpected appearance would be worth, thatâ€™s all I want to know about that.
Moviefan12: I’ll say this much for the show, it doesn’t start off too badly. It opens with the theme song for the TV show and even has a man carrying a briefcase, the same as intro to the show did.
So, I’m willing to give the show that much as it does let the audience know upfront what they are getting into. And it’s a nice little touch for fans. And honestly, the show starts out nice with Amaz-O, our host doing some cheap kitschy magic tricks with two kids that were selected to be a part of the show but it’s around the time of the second magic, the disappearing act, where the show goes downhill. Because this is when the other Gooesbumps characters make their entrance as Amaz-O tries to bring the kids back and the first to appear is Slappy.
Because oh dear lord, was his voice annoying and also I was a little surprised by the shoddy costume work for this show considering that after all, it is a Disney show and they normally have good costumes. Well, I did some research on that and this particular show was produced by an outside company, Glickman Productions, who have worked with Disney on other projects such as some of the shows at Animal Kingdom and the opening for that park. And from looking at some of the other things, Glickman Productions has worked on for Disney, I actually saw some effort in the costumes for the Disney shows based on Disney properties. Something about Slappy’s costume and one other costume in particular, Cuddles The Hamster from Monster Blood just left me cold as they looked extremely fake and I never once bought into that those were actually the characters onstage and not just people in poorly made theme park costumes.
This costume right here is where I lost any hope of the show being good at all. Second Opinion, what is your take on the costumes for this show?
The Second Opinion: That they should have thrown out the script and started again when they realized the first one theyâ€™d have to make was for Amaz-O the magician. I donâ€™t know about the rest of you, but when I hear â€œGoosebumps,â€ I donâ€™t think â€œcheap magic shows.â€ I donâ€™t know whatâ€™s worse, the fact that they decided to base the opening act on the single most boring, useless Goosebumps book I ever read or the fact that it ends up being easily the best part of the show.
Oh, you mean the quality of the costumes themselves? Eh, well, I guess that was the most I wouldâ€™ve expected from Slappy. He looks like the dummy in a suit heâ€™s supposed to be, although he is pretty portly for a dummy, constantly described as thin and lanky in the books. Also, the smug and corny wisecracks are true to the character, who is pretty much the closest thing Goosebumps ever had to a mascot. On the other hand, if it was too much trouble to wrap bandages around the face of â€œthe mummy,â€ of all the not-actual-villains in the series, instead of that obvious rubber mask, youâ€™d think they wouldâ€™ve gone back to the grab bag and picked something they could do right. For example, the ax man from the cover of A Night in Terror Tower, who makes an appearance at the end, wasnâ€™t a villain in the story either, but at least the costume does a good job invoking that memorable cover and giving something that actually looks intimidating. Although, it doesnâ€™t help that his assistants are just the kids from the opening act in masks. Would it really have been too much trouble to give them some cheap robes to slip on over their clothes?
But Iâ€™m sure, after your bit at the end, Moviefan, that what you all really want is for me to talk about Cuddles the hamster some more. So here, in order, are my thoughts on Cuddles: Why, oh why, oh WHY?! One of our three villains is not like the others, which is quite an achievement, considering the differences between a living ventriloquist dummy and a living-dead mummy. I can understand wanting to use monster blood, which had more books in the original Goosebumps series than even Slappy, and a living pile of green goop would have been hard to pull off. But if the hamster from the cover of Monster Blood 2 was all they could think of, they shouldnâ€™t have bothered. It may be a memorable image, but itâ€™s, well, a hamster, and it wasnâ€™t a villain akin to the other two. If they thought their costume would somehow make it scarier, they didnâ€™t know the definition of â€œscarier,â€ because apart from the â€œangry,â€ buck-toothed mouth, Cuddles looks like a fat teddy bear suit, the kind of cheap mascot meant to imitate a name-brand character. If I didnâ€™t know better, Iâ€™d assume his bounding around the stage was supposed to be cute.
Moviefan12: THANK YOU, this sums up my feelings on the costumes and to think that they these costumes were passable for meet & greets. Oh yes, after the show, kids could get their pictures taken with Slappy, Cuddles, and the Mummy. Okay, this may just be my weird brain over thinking things but I WOULD NOT want a picture taken with a dummy that said he was going to enslave me, if I were a 10 year old watching this. Sure, I know everyone loves a bad guy but I just can’t wrap my head around that. And also, another thing I noticed that was particularly odd is that Curly (who according tho the Goosebumps Wiki is supposed to be the Goosebumps mascot) called out attention to all of the characters onstage and each had a proper introduction save for when the kids came back onstage. Why do I find this odd? Well, I remember the Goosebumps TV episodes of The Haunted Mask and it’s sequel. And the masks, those kids were wearing were clearly those masks, yet no mention of this is ever made.
I get that they were trying to wrap up the show at this point but it just seemed inconsistent, when almost everything else had some sort of introduction. Maybe, I’m nitpicking here but I dunno. And that also leads me to my biggest complaint with this show. It has no structure or narrative to it, the show doesn’t really start until Amaz-O attempts to bring the kids back but then, it just becomes a cavalcade of Goosebumps and trying to see how much recognizable Goosebumps material can be thrown into the show’s running time. All it boils down to at the end of the day, is here’s a Goosebumps characters, here’s another Goosebumps characters, here’s yet another Goosebumps character. Rinse, wash, and repeat.
The Second Opinion: Hey, those were the haunted masks in the TV show, werenâ€™t they? They looked so much better on the covers. (Well, the old man mask was a fail regardless, but that aside.) I think somewhere in the chaos was a line about how Amaz-O disguised as the Ax Man â€“ mistakenly given The Executionerâ€™s name â€“ was taking over the show from Curly, and the kids in the haunted masks were supposed to be his assistants, scaring the others including Curly away. In fact, I also caught a line from Slappy or someone fearfully asking what kind of monsters the kids were, which brings me back to my point about how they donâ€™t seem like theyâ€™re even supposed to look like anything besides kids in masks. Come on, a black cloak from the nearest costume store was too much trouble?
You donâ€™t need me to confirm that no structure is exactly right. I donâ€™t think it knew what it wanted to be, unable to overcome the fact that Goosebumps doesnâ€™t inherently lend itself to this. It wasnâ€™t based on â€œmascots,â€ and the show put all its focus into digging through the books to find some. The Amaz-O portion, while cheesy, works the best because itâ€™s point is clear and well-established: An eccentric and irresponsible magician performs magic tricks on kids that he seems to worry will go wrong and mutilate them. (And while Amaz-O is an odd choice for our hero, all the more so if youâ€™ve read Bad Hare Day, I have to credit the actor for playing his part with gusto. Heâ€™s a better Amaz-O than the original.) But whatâ€™s the point of the villains showing up? A horror conflict about Amaz-O battling mosters to reclaim his show and save the kids? Some Stine-esque comedy about spooks butting heads? A showcase for the favorite Goosebumps characters? Itâ€™s as though the show is proud of itself just for stuffing in enough lines to check off all three categories and still managing to stumble across the finish line, completing something that resembles an arc. Amaz-O and Slappy seem to still have a chance in their portion, duking it out with lines about getting rid of one another and saving/enslaving the audience, and any comedy between them is part of the battle. But Curlyâ€™s appearance embodies all the ill-fitting distractions. He gives Slappy a showcase introduction after weâ€™ve already established who he is and what heâ€™s about, he makes jokes about the monsters more than he rallies them or tries to make them sound scary, and by the time the ax man shows up to turn the tables on them, the dialogue has become so disconnected that we can barely tell whatâ€™s going on. Itâ€™s only value could be in pandering to the fans.
Moviefan12: I really don’t have anything left to say on the show. It was a bad idea but here’s the thing, a Goosebumps attraction could’ve worked. The idea is possible. Let me bring up something else that was a part of this attraction, they had a house of mirrors/funhouse.
Now, this is a good start but here’s what I would’ve done. Play up the Horrorland motif a little bit more, scrap the show. Maybe the entrance of the house resemble the house from Welcome To Dead House.
And then maybe scatter different related Goosebumps items throughout the haunted house. I don’t know but wouldn’t a Haunted House make more sense. Now, according to some blogs and forums, I read the Goosebumps characters would chase the guests around the hall of mirrors as they tried to find their way out. Okay, that’s not much but that does seem to make a little more sense than what this show was.
The Second Opinion: Now that would have been playing to Goosebumpsâ€™ strengths, inviting kids to be scared, in that way they tend to enjoy, and providing a way to fit in a slew of recognizable characters, instead of expecting any to fill a mascot role. And there are definitely a few Goosebumps books such as One Day at Horrorland and especially The Headless Ghost that would lend themselves to that. Or even more perfect, A Night in Terror Tower
In fact, even the stage show probably would have been better if it had played more like that, thrown the horrors, or a villain with a more prominent motive, or something more full-blooded than a few random characters bickering, at us. As is, it aimed to be a novelty act, and even there, it only hold a little bit of water.
Moviefan12: I don’t think there is anything else, we can say. With that out let’s head to our final thoughts
Our Final Thoughts
Moviefan12: Is this the worst MGM Studios attraction? Well, I’m not sure I can say that as this is the same park that was also home to Sounds Dangerous Starring Drew Carey. So, I’m hesitant to say it’s the worst attraction in this particular park. On the same token, so much more could’ve been done with the Goosebumps franchise, if a lame stage show. And I’m sorry but there is a problem, when people are walking away from your show as you can see in the video and has also been reported by Disney fans on various forums such as MiceChat, who saw it, that they saw people walk away from the show. Second Opinion, your final thoughts on this show?
The Second Opinion: Hey, maybe the show just scared them away!
Sorry, I really shouldnâ€™t pick on it like that. Actually, I have read a few Goosebumps books that were worse than this (Bad Hare Day, for one), and itâ€™s not unwatchable, except maybe for the most disjointed portions towards the end. Itâ€™s just an incomplete project, cheap, enthusiastic about all the wrong things â€“ believe me, Stineâ€™s humor is hardly what readers came for â€“ and negligent to keeping its audience invested in its conflict.
Moviefan12:Â Thank you forÂ joining me at this look at this short lived show that was a part of MGM Studios.Â Â
Â The Second Opinion: My pleasure, and thanks for having me!