Stitch's Great Escape!
(November 16, 2004 - present)
History and photos of the Stitch's Great Escape! show in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.
Located near the main entrance to Tomorrowland is Stitch's Great Escape!, a somewhat thrilling attraction that uses some of the characters from Disney's 2002 animated film, Lilo & Stitch.
The previous attraction that was housed in this location was The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter. Alien Encounter was a wildly fantastic attraction that placed park guests at the clutches of a fierce alien creature. The show was loud, pitch dark at times, and it used special sound and other effects to play with your senses and make it seem like there really was a creature right next to you. Although this was a Walt Disney World attraction, it definitely was NOT intended for little kids.
Nevertheless, many parents ignored the warnings and still took their kids (as long as they met the height requirement) into Alien Encounter. A lot of people didn't believe that the Magic Kingdom would have such a scary attraction. They were wrong, their kids were terrified, and the parents complained about it at Guest Services. That was one of the reasons why Disney pulled the plug on Alien Encounter on October 12, 2003, eight years after the show opened.
Fortunately for Disney, the replacement for Alien Encounter was discovered the previous year in the smash hit animated film, Lilo & Stitch. The question for Alien Encounter was rather simple: What if the alien creature was changed to Stitch? Parents and kids love Stitch, and a less intense version of the show *could* be the next hit attraction in the Magic Kingdom.
That was the gamble that the Disney Imagineers took. The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter was closed for about a year as it went through a refurbishment and some re-theming. Many of the attraction's segments remained the same (including the second preshow), and some new elements and special effects were added to the main show.
Stitch's Great Escape! officially opened on November 16, 2004.
To help advertise the new attraction, stitch decorations were added to the front of the Walt Disney World monorails. When the monorails arrived at the Magic Kingdom monorail station, Stitch's would say, "Welcome to 'Stitch' Kingdom." Outside of the World of Disney store in the Marketplace at Downtown Disney, it looked like Stitch crashed a prisoner transport van and escaped from custody.
Stitch's Great Escape! is themed to the opening segment of Lilo & Stitch where Stitch (a.k.a. Experiment 626) is imprisoned on Captain Gantu's ship. In this case, change Gantu's ship to a Galactic Federation Prisoner Teleport Center, and there you go.
WARNING --- SPOILERS!
The experience for Stitch's Great Escape! begins with approaching the Galactic Federation Prisoner Teleport Center there in Tomorrowland. Guests are ushered into the center a group at a time. Inside of the first preshow room we hear the voice of Pleakley (voiced by Kevin McDonald) tell us to rise and welcome the Grand Councilwoman. Of course, we're already standing as there are no seats in this room.
On a television set the Grand Councilwoman (voiced by Zoe Caldwell) welcomes us as new recruits at the Galactic Federation Prisoner Teleport Center, a jail for rather naughty alien creatures. Or job is simple. We're to contain the naughty creatures inside of the jail until they decide to become nice and civilized. We then meet Captain Gantu (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) and he shows us a few mugshots of some of the prisoners inside of the detention facility. He's serious about security there.
The video ends and we're sent into the second preshow room, one of the prisoner teleportation rooms. Here the Audio-Animatronic Sergeant C4703BK2704-90210 (voiced by Richard Kind) welcomes us, and we see the two teleportation tubes on each side of the room. Inside one of them is the Skippy alien from Alien Encounter. We then see another alien get teleported to the prison. Suddenly the emergency sirens sound and Captain Gantu is on the screen. He informs the sergeant that a Level 3 prisoner (the highest level of dangerous prisoners) is en-route to the prison, and it's up to us to be there for when he arrives. The sergeant then faints and Pleakley tells us to move into the prisoner teleportation chamber.
NOTE - The cast members are very strict about there being no photography or video taping in the main show at Stitch's Great Escape! Portions of the show take place in total darkness, and any amount of light will ruin the effects for everybody.
The prisoner teleportation chamber is the main show for Stitch's Great Escape! Like in Alien Encounter, there are several circular rows of seats that face inward to a much larger version of the teleportation tube. After we take our seats the shoulder restraints lower to keep us in place.
The show begins and Captain Gantu's assistants beam the Level 3 prisoner into the teleportation tube in the middle of the room. When the smoke clears we see that it's Stitch (voiced by Chris Sanders). Gantu and his assistants are a little confused as they were expecting a big and scary monster, not something as small as Stitch. They err on the side of safety and still code Stitch's DNA to the security system, a pair of large and powerful cannons that hang from the ceiling. Gantu then leaves to get this mess straightened out and see if Stitch really is a Level 3 prisoner.
Stitch plays around with the security cannons and notices how they follow his every move. Then he gets an idea. Stitch spits into the audience (don't worry --- it's just water) and the cannons fire wherever the water lands as the water has Stitch's DNA. He has the cannons continue firing until the room loses power and Stitch is able to escape into the theater. When the power flashes on again we see that he's missing from the teleportation tube.
Captain Gantu returns and is furious that Stitch has escaped. He has his assistants try to restore power and recapture the alien, but it's a difficult task. Whenever the power goes out we hear and "feel" Stitch moving around the room. He "hops" onto our shoulder restrains, we hear him answer and then smash a person's cell phone, and he even eats a chili dog and then breathes it onto us. We even feel Stitch's tongue flicker on top of our head.
When the power is restored in the room, Stitch gains the upper hand by reprogramming the teleportation tube. He runs inside of it before the glass lowers and the teleportation process begin. Gantu and his assistants are powerless to stop Stitch from permanently escaping. They use their galactic cameras to track Stitch's location to planet Earth and a land called Florida. We see then Stitch on Cinderella Castle. He knocks on an upper door and enters it, telling Cinderella that he is her prince. She kicks him out of her castle, claiming that he's not her prince.
As Gantu figures out what to do, Stitch discovers the camera and licks it, showing them that he has won. The shoulder restraints are raised and we exit the prisoner teleportation chamber.
Depending on which theater you use, the exit for Stitch's Great Escape! is through either the Merchant of Venus or Mickey's Star Traders store.
END OF SPOILERS!
"Stitch's Great Escape! used to use Disney's FASTPASS system, but that was removed as the attendance slowly dropped. The show can still experience moderate crowds in the mid afternoons, but that's mainly during the busy time periods. Otherwise, Stitch's Great Escape! doesn't draw the crowds like other Tomorrowland and Magic Kingdom attractions.
The biggest problem for Stitch's Great Escape! is that this is still a show that uses very loud sounds, and part of it takes place in pitch black conditions. Although this show is not as scary as its predecessor, those current problems were some of the chief complaints with Alien Encounter. Disney made the attraction more appealing to the younger crowds, but it's still an experience that many kids simply do not like. It's still dark, loud, and it can be pretty intimidating to kids.
That's really a shame too as the Audio-Animatronic for Stitch is really impressive. It's one of Disney's most technologically advanced creations, and it really shows. It's very realistic the way that he moves around and interacts with the security cannons.>It's no secret that I was a huge fan of the previous attraction, The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter. It was sad seeing it close and be replaced with Stitch of all creatures. Despite that, Stitch's Great Escape! is still an entertaining show with many similar elements as Alien Encounter.
Stitch's Great Escape! is best enjoyed at night when crowds are at their minimum. You'll be less distracted by screaming people and better able to hear the dialogue and enjoy the show.
|HEIGHT REQUIREMENT||You must be at least 40" / 102 cm to experience Stitch's Great Escape! This *show* has a height requirement, A) Because of the specialized seats, and B) To prevent the littlest of kids from experiencing it.|
|TIP||Experience Stitch's Great Escape! at night. The wait time will be a minimum, it'll be easier to see the preshow, and you'll hear the dialogue in the main show a lot better.|
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