If you rode Rock ‘n Roller Coaster sometime in the first few years it was open you may remember something about it being different. No, the actual ride is still the same. And the décor has pretty much been constant. If you think back to a few years ago, you’ll remember there being in the preshow a real life Cast Member being in the recording booth and interacting with the film, specifically with Joe Perry.
In the preshow film, before leaving the Studio for their limo, Joe Perry asks “Chris” to grab his black Les Paul guitar. In the first few years of the attraction, a real life Cast Member would gesture to Joe that he would indeed get it for him. However in recent years you will notice “Chris” is no longer there and hasn’t been there for a while. So what happened?
When the attraction first opened, there was indeed a black Les Paul guitar once owned by Joe Perry that made its home at the Rock ‘n Roller Coaster, and was featured in the pre-show for the first few years of the attraction. There was a regular cast member position open for the role of “Chris”, and as with most front line positions, shifts changed throughout the day, so access to the preshow room and the guitar was a lot easier to obtain than it is today. As a result, the instruments and props in the 'recording studio' area of the preshow were damaged, intentionally vandalized, and in some cases, completely disappeared.
Look closely: there are holes on the music stands were bolted-down harmonicas were ripped out, the rug is torn, and most of the guitars are missing their strings. While it’s disturbing to think some Cast Members would intentionally ruin their own attraction, it makes it even worse when you consider that every item in the room were gifts from Aerosmith to Walt Disney World and in just a few short years (the attraction isn’t even 10 years old) these amazing items of memorabilia have been damaged beyond repair and removed from the attraction.
The lead singer for Aerosmith, Steven Tyler, rides the attraction frequently and if someone notices these damaged and/or removed items destroyed by employees of the company to which the items were entrusted, it would be Steven. Granted, there haven’t been any public statements by Tyler about his dissatisfaction with the attraction, but I’m sure it’s not lost upon him that things today are different than they were when the attraction opened in 1999.
So with these problems, the position of “Chris” was eliminated. The black Les Paul was locked up, and now sits in an undisclosed area away from public sight. The pre-show room is kept locked during normal operating hours, with keys held only by a select few. Some of the management crew at Rock ‘n Roller Coaster told the story with heavy hearts, as "Chris" was a favorite position, and considered an honor among their cast. They said they'd never get rid of "Chris" for throughput or financial reasons; it'd be like getting rid of the cowboy or gangster in the Great Movie Ride. It's all part of the show.
It’s sad to have seen a position like “Chris” go because it’s one of those magical positions that is overlooked sometimes but it really adds a dimension to the attraction. I remember when I first saw Rock ‘n Roller Coaster and noticed that interaction between a film and human being thinking to myself “That’s pretty cool...” It’s this sort of role that separate Disney attractions from other theme park attractions because it lends that aura of magic and “believability” to it. I can’t say I place too much blame on the Cast Members and most of them do a great job and I’m not sure I wouldn’t want to touch something as cool as a former Aerosmith guitar. Rock ‘n Roller Coaster is still a fun attraction and I love seeing the reaction people who have never experienced it ride it for the first time but I definitely miss Chris.