Captain EO poster

Yesterday saw the return of the late Michael Jackson's 3D movie Captain EO to Disneyland, with hundreds of adoring fans turning out to be among the first to see it.

The updated version of Captain EO features a 70mm video print and improved audio quality thanks to "acoustic enhancements" made to the Magic Eye Theater since the show last played there in 1997. Another new addition is a brief introduction from a Disney Cast Member, who explains the history behind the attraction. However, the show is lacking the laser beam, star field and smoke effects that were part of the original version of Captain EO. In their place, Disney has made use of the moving seats, strobe lights and compressed-air effects that were installed for Captain EO's successor - Honey, I Shrunk the Audience.

Several hundred fans lined up in advance of Disneyland's opening to secure a place near the front of the line for Captain EO. However, the crowds soon filtered away and the attraction was a virtual walk-on later in the day.

Predictably, given the make-up of the crowd, online reactions to the new version of the attraction were overwhelmingly positive. However, the lack of special effects has led to some criticism of Disney. Below are a selection of views from around the Internet:

  • DisneylandNewsToday.com features a review from Chris Lastrapes, who praises the quality of the video and audio in the Magic Eye Theatre (which has been updated since Captain EO last played there in 1997). Although stating that attraction "holds up to the test of time", Lastrapes does point to the claymation segments of the movie as appearing dated. He also bemoans the lack of special effects, which make the revised Captain EO a "glimmer" of the original attraction.
  • ABC Local features quotes from several Jackson fans who turned out for the opening day. The quote from Scott Freeman is typical, saying "It was wonderful. I grew up on Captain EO and I'm so glad it's back."
  • OC Weekly praises Disney's preservation of the "80's cheese ball" feel of the original film, saying that Disney has preserved Captain EO in "the right way". It points to a number of guests returning to experience an attraction that reminds them of their childhood, but also features quotes from a number of excited younger Jackson fans who attended the opening.
  • MiceChat features a review from forum user Fishbulb, which praises both the film (which it awards 4 stars out of 4) and the updated experience (3.5 stars out of 4). Though bemoaning the lack of star field effect and the grainy re-print of the movie, the review praises Disney for giving fans another chance to experience Captain EO.

Captain EO will remain in place at Disneyland for a "limited run" of unspecified duration. It replaces its successor, Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, which is now closed. Disney is yet to confirm any plans beyond the initial run of Captain EO, and whether Honey, I Shrunk the Audience will return or be permanently replaced.

Captain EO originally opened at Disneyland in 1986, finally closing in 1997. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and executive-produced by Star Wars creator George Lucas, the movie was produced when Jackson was at the peak of his fame. The show's story sees the eponymous Captain EO (played by Jackson) and the crew of his spaceship travelling to deliver a message to the wicked Witch Queen.

At just 17 minutes long, the film cost a massive $30 million to produce. It included "4D" elements such as lasers, smoke effects and starfields. At the time it was the most expensive film ever produced if measured per-minute (at $1.76 million), however this has since been topped by Universal's Terminator 2: 3D at $5 million per-minute.


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