Ladies and gentlemen! The Disney Boxing Commission proudly presents a second full card of theme park fisticuffs between your favorite Disney attractions, restaurants, and resorts. There will be winners, there might be blood, and there are no height requirements.
Professional boxing judge Dan Sisneros leads a who's who of Disney experts, including Len Testa, co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, best-selling Disney author Bart Scott, and Disney podcaster John ("Big Fat Panda") Saccheri, in unique, round-by-round showdowns between evenly matched theme park opponents. Do you ever wonder what's better, Avatar: Flight of Passage or Soarin' Around the World? Now you're going to find out, as punches fly.
Over multiple rounds each "boxer" is rated on various factors such as theming, queues, ride vehicles, location, backstory, and Imagineering. The judges score each round, evaluating and explaining the good and the bad, and then declare a winner.
No matter how much you know about the Disney theme parks, you've never read about them like this before!
Among the twelve bouts on our colossal card:
Let's have a clean fight, with no punching below the FastPass!
Chapter 1: Barnstormer vs Casey Jr. Circus Train
Chapter 2: Living with the Land vs It’s a Small World
Chapter 3: Boatwright’s Dining Hall vs Kona Café
Chapter 4: Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree vs Primeval Whirl
Chapter 5: Liberty Square Riverboat vs Swiss Family Treehouse
Chapter 6: Magic Carpets of Aladdin vs TriceraTop Spin
Chapter 7: Enchanted Tales with Belle vs. Voyage of the Little Mermaid
Chapter 8: Club Cool vs Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough
Chapter 9: Monsters, Inc. vs Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Chapter 10: D-Luxe Burger vs Earl of Sandwich
Chapter 11: Frozen Ever After vs Maelstrom
Chapter 12: Avatar: Flight of Passage vs Soarin’ Around the World
Appendix A: Scoring Officials
Appendix B: How to Score a Professional Boxing Match
Let’s start with the obvious. Disney theme park fans are passionate, vocal, and a little bit crazy.
I mean, who else would spend hours online debating the merits of such recent additions to the parks as Guardians of the Galaxy—Mission: BREAKOUT! at Disney California Adventure? When officials at the Disneyland Resort first revealed back in July of 2016 that they were planning on transforming DCA’s version of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror into a Marvel-themed attraction… Well, such a huge howl rose up from within the Disney fan community that you would have thought that the company had proposed giving Mickey Mouse a mohawk.
“What a ridiculously short-sighted move,” Disney diehards proclaimed. “It makes absolutely no sense for the Imagineers to take a classic popular evergreen attraction like Tower of Terror and to then replace it with a flavor-of-the-month like Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. WDI’s really going to regret this decision.”
Mind you, that was what fans were saying before Guardians of the Galaxy—Mission: BREAKOUT! officially opened to the public in May of 2017. Once DCA guests got to experience this attraction’s six different drop profiles (not to mention marveling at that state-of-the-art Rocket Raccoon animatronic figure in the pre-show area), most of the online complaining evaporated. Except—of course—for a few Disney California Adventure purists who were upset to learn that—over the next few years—the Hollywood Land side of the park is slated to be transformed into a physical representation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But that’s the beauty of being a vocal, passionate Disney fan. There’s always something new for you to complain about.
That’s why I’m so grateful to Dan Sisneros for his “Disney Tale of the Tape” book series. Here, finally, is an appropriate forum where hyper-opinionated theme park fans can safely face off. Where—by using their words rather than their fists—combatants can then duke it out, and determine who’s actually in the right when it comes to which WDW restaurant is better (Kona Café or Boatwright’s) or which kiddie coaster is the best introductory thrill ride for your child (the Barnstormer starring the Great Goofini at WDW’s Magic Kingdom or the Casey Jr. Circus Train at Disneyland Park).
Okay. I know. These aren’t exactly issues that the rest of the world concerns itself with. But for me, half the fun of Dan’s books is reading what some of my favorite bloggers and online personalities have to say about attractions and restaurants at the various Disney resorts. Their takes on these previously-thought-to-be-much-beloved rides and shows will often surprise you.
Mind you, you may not always agree with the opinions that are expressed in this book. What you read here in Disney Tale of the Tape: Volume 2 may challenge you. I know that—me personally—I questioned some of the calls that were made in the first book of this series.
But then again, what do I know? I’m the guy who, after riding Flight of Passage at Pandora—The World of Avatar in Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park, said that this new flight simulator attraction was just “meh.” Which led some Disney theme park fans to suggest that I’d gone one too many rounds without wearing the proper protective headgear.
Anywho… Settle in ringside. Dan Sisneros has arranged a very entertaining Disney-related fight card for your enjoyment. I promise that there’ll be no hitting-below-the-belt—though you may experience a surprising number of belly laughs as you page through this book.
When I was first contacted by Bob McLain back in 2011 about writing a column for the old Disney Dispatch website, I was flattered and excited. I wasn’t sure if I could write something that Disney fans would enjoy, or be worthy of inclusion alongside the wonderful writers who were already there. I mean here were “real” writers, published authors, Disney Legends, former Disney cast members, even Bob himself had a column. I felt like an amateur boxer who was making his professional debut on the undercard of a world title fight!
I wasn’t real sure about what exactly I was being asked to write, but I let my love for Disney blend with my love for the sport of boxing, and the Disney Tale of the Tape column was born. There it was, with a gloved-up Mickey Mouse facing a gloved-up Goofy who had a pillow strapped to his body (in case Mickey was a vicious body puncher, I guess). It ended up running from April of 2011 to January of 2012, 12 columns total. It was supposed to run every two weeks, but with my work schedule, and coming home every day fighting fatigue and exhaustion from a day of being pushed to do the impossible at work, I wasn’t always able to put together a bout and get it submitted in time. Thankfully, the editor was very understanding with me. Like all good things, Disney Dispatch ended. I was sad, but almost relieved as I struggled every two weeks to let my creativity overcome my fatigue. I was really grateful to Bob for giving me a chance to be part of that talented group of contributors.
Many of the combatants in those matches from the website column either no longer exist in the parks, or have changed beyond recognition. For example, Epcot’s popular rock bands, the British Invasion and Off Kilter, squared off in a 5-round epic battle that came down to a split decision by 1 point. Both are now part of Epcot history. The Magic Kingdom’s Swiss Family Treehouse took on Disney Hollywood Studios’ Journey into Narnia. The Treehouse dominated his opponent with a 4-round shutout on all 3 judges’ scorecards. Narnia has since been retired. Epcot’s Maelstrom stepped into that squared circle to score a farewell split-decision victory over intra-park challenger Living with the Land. Maelstrom retired “undefeated,” being replaced by Frozen Ever After in 2016. Pollo Campero dared to challenge Earl of Sandwich in a 7-round Downtown Disney showdown. Pollo nearly scored the upset, but was defeated by the Downtown Disney quick-service champion via split decision. Now Pollo Campero is gone, and even Downtown Disney itself has been changed and renamed to Disney Springs. A few of those who squared off in 2011 have changed so much, they are hardly the same experience as they were back then. The good thing is that there are always new “contenders” springing up for the enjoyment of Disney parks fans.
A few years passed, I finally retired, and now had time to enjoy hobbies and do lots of traveling. I was surprised to receive an e-mail from Bob, who now was running a publishing company specializing in Disney-themed books. I actually knew about Theme Park Press, and already had many of their books. When Bob pitched the idea of writing a book based on the old column, a quick flush of fear came over me, but in an instant that changed to a feeling of total honor. I thought, Well, I just retired 8 months ago, I’m still involved in pro boxing, I’m going to Walt Disney World or Disneyland 2 or 3 times a year, the timing is perfect! I excitedly told my wife about the offer, and she was all for it, so I said, “Sure! Let’s do it!”
I went to work on the first book, thinking of what Disney park experiences should face each other, and how to format the bouts. There was quite an evolution to the whole process. In the original column, I was the only scoring judge, but for the book I added two fictitious judges to each contest for color, and to make it more like a real boxing match which always has three judges. That’s the way I started out writing the book, but along the way I thought, Who cares what I think of these Disney experiences? and decided to add real experts from the Disney fan community. The original column that this book series is based on has some similarities to the books, but its overall look has been left in the dust.
I sought out some of my personal favorites from the Disney fan underground. The first name I thought of was Len Testa, the co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and host of the Disney Dish podcast with Jim Hill. I had corresponded with Len during his time as one of the co-hosts of the original WDW Today podcast, and it turns out he’s quite the boxing fan, so we hit it off pretty well. When he agreed to write the foreword for the book, I was ecstatic. Later, when I decided to change the format to myself and two other actual judges doing the scoring, Len agreed to become one of my judges for the book. Double ecstatic! I began reaching out to other celebrities from the Disney fan community. Authors, bloggers, podcasters, video producers, one by one they came on board. I felt like S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Nick Fury assembling the Avengers. Most accepted, some declined, but all were gracious and I ended up with a line-up of great judges who knew their stuff. I learned much about the different Disney experiences just from reading their scorecards as they came in. It’s so much more fun for me to see how the bouts actually turn out when the scores of the three judges are tallied up and read by the ring announcer. I hope it is more fun for the Disney parks fans who are reading, too. Just like a real boxing match, they can “root” for their favorite as the bout progresses—just like it was when I was actually judging real boxing matches. I would turn in my scorecard and then wonder how the other two judges saw the bout.
I also decided to use actual officials from the world of professional boxing, so I reached out to some of my friends in the sport, and to my surprise, found that a few of them were actually as Disney crazed as I was! I asked permission to write them in as officials for the book, but a few of them were such fans, they ended up scoring some of the bouts.
I began putting together the bouts, and before I knew it, I had more than enough for the first book. I had to decide which ones to include, and which ones would not make the cut. Those were hard decisions, but there just wasn’t room for all of them. Luckily, the first book did well enough that I was asked to write a second book, and all of those bouts are included here, along with some new ones.
There are some minor format changes this time around. For one, as much as I love to judge the bouts in this book, I will not be a judge for every bout this time around. That will make room for more “celebrity” judges from the Disney community to score bouts.
We will have a rematch, too. In the first book, Disney California Adventure’s Monsters Inc. fought to a 7-round split draw against Disneyland’s classic Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. One judge had it for Monsters Inc., one judge saw it for Toad, and the third judge scored it even. It was an exciting battle, but the fans demanded a rematch, so, the venue is booked, three new judges have been assigned, and they will face each other again, this time set for 8 rounds. Hopefully, we will get a clear winner this time.
There is also our first “women’s bout” featuring Disney Hollywood Studios’ Voyage of the Little Mermaid defending her title against Enchanted Tales with Belle from the Magic Kingdom.
There will be a few new judges, and other officials, too. But the main difference will be the contestants going head-to-head in the matches.
So, it’s time for another card of all-star Disney boxing! As with the first book, you may or may not agree with the decisions rendered by the judges for each bout, but you will enjoy the action between the ropes!
And now, as one of my favorites of all time, my friend Mills Lane, used to say at every match after giving the final instructions to the two boxers: “C’MON, LET’S GET IT ON!”
Dan Sisneros lives in New Mexico with his high-school sweetheart, and wife of 40 years, Tammy. He was a pro boxing judge with the New Mexico State Athletic Commission for a decade and enjoys being involved in the sport he loves so dearly. Join his Facebook group, Classic Boxing (www.facebook.com/groups/320361248110837).
Dan also enjoys family trips to Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland Resort in California. He is the author of Disney Tale of the Tape: Volume One (Theme Park Press) and Mat Tales: True Stories from the Bizarre, Brutal World of Pro Boxing (Pulp Hero Press).
Visit his Disney blog, “Disney Fountain of Youth”: disneyfountainofyouth.blogspot.com.
If you would like to talk Disney (or boxing), you can reach Dan at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dan retired in 2015 after 30+ years as a mail carrier with the United States Postal Service. He attends Calvary Chapel in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and gives all of the praise and glory to his heavenly father in Christ Jesus.
Romans 10: 9-10