Thursday, January 31, 2008
Here is my award-winning post (nerded up for our site):
You can read about my first day at Walt Disney World here.
We continue our story with the Disney-MGM Studios. Specifically Star Tours. Besides the Haunted Mansion, this was the ride I was most excited about. Back in the day (1994), the Early/Extra Magic Hour was called Surprise Morning. They rotated the parks on a specific schedule and people really did not take advantage of them. Ah, those were the days. Anyway, Sunday was the Surprise Morning for the Disney-MGM Studios.
We arrived at the Studios a little after 8:00am. If I remember correctly, the park was scheduled to be open at 9:00am. For some reason, I remember the song Mr. Jones by the Counting Crows playing on the rental car that morning. But I could be wrong; it may have been another day we were there. Needless to say, that song reminds me of that time. Warmth. I remember that it was very warm in the mornings in Orlando.
There was no one in the park that morning. To the right and above, you can see my first view of the Star Tours attraction. I vividly remember the kid and his parents walking in front of us. The kid with the baseball hat and blue backpack. And yes, I am wearing a dark blue t-shirt. It was hot (the weather--not me). We followed the kid and his family through the line and rode the attraction. What can I say? It was great. We visited Endor and in the traditional Disney storytelling fashion--something went wrong! When we left the ride the Star Wars fanfare was playing (you know, the music they play over the credits) and it was really exciting. Then we walked into the coolest thing in the world: a Star Wars gift shop!
I know, you're laughing, right? Well, you have to remember that back in 1994, there was not a lot of Star Wars merchandise. Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn had just been published in 1991. Before that, the last Star Wars books, merchandise or toys had been released in the middle 1980's. Needless to say, Teresa let me gawk for a moment and then we went to the front of the building to ride it again.
And again. I think we stopped after the fourth ride to meander and shop. At least I did. This is another one of those moments that I remember. Picking out the books, toys and paraphernalia--trying to decide what to get my brothers and nephews. And what I wanted. I picked out a book for myself by Stephen Sansweet called Star Wars: From Concept to Screen to Collectible. I consider it one of the first books of my collection. When we finally had finished, we had spent over $400.00 (1994 dollars). Whew! Talk about spending too much! But it was Star Wars.
I do remember that the cast member gave us a lot of attitude about shipping the items back to our hotel room. Which was really weird. We just spent a lot of money...and we were at Disney! Actually, she was the least friendly cast member we ran across during that first trip. I believe that we ended up riding it at least one more time before Teresa told me we had to do something else. I don't remember anything else about the day. I know we rode other things, like the Great Movie Ride and Muppet Vision 3D, but I can't recall exactly.
Thanks to Matt and Glenn for the amazing addition to my wardrobe. I just need to get it pressed and cleaned before MagicMeets!
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
After studying Jeff's posts on 2719 Hyperion about the 39/40 World's Fair, I became more interested in this period. You'll find the links to Jeff's articles at the end of this review.
The New York World's Fair, 1939/1940 in 155 Photographs by Richard Wurts and Others.
Selection, Arrangement and Text by Stanly Applebaum. 152pages, 1977, 0486234940.
This book takes us on a visual tour of the 1939/1940 New York World's Fair that took place in Flushing Meadows. We are introduced to the history of the fair in the 10 page introduction--the controversies, financial issues and political turmoil. The rest of the work consists of maps, photographs and captions. You get a sense of the scale of the project--the vast construction project was the biggest land reclamation project of the time and over 48 million people visited the Fair during its two-year run. Unfortunately, the Fair lost almost 20 million dollars and had to declare bankruptcy.
After studying the photographs and the accompanying text, it was obvious to me that the Imagineers charged with building EPCOT Center had visited the Fair as a child or considered historical documents to follow the designs. EPCOT Center is premeditated on the basis of the Fair.
The most apparent references, physically, are the layout of the areas into larger sections and the larger architectural themes of the sponsored pavilions. As Jeff mentions, the Perisphere is the obviously the ancestor of Spaceship Earth. Every evening, on the Lagoon of Nations, there was son et lumiere show presented with fireworks, flames and colored fountains--all choreographed to music. Sound familiar?
Democracity was located in the Perisphere and you accessed it from the escalator located in the 700 foot-tall Trylon (triangular-shaped building). Inside the Perisphere, you stepped onto one of two moving rings where you could view Democarcity, a diorama of a planned urban and exurban community of the future.
Once you made your way to the Transportation Zone, you found yourself by the General Motors Pavilion--a huge sprawling complex made of multiple buildings. The hit of the Fair, Futurama, foretold of national highways, a perfect climate and the elimination of the blight of slums. All by 1960. The text accompanying the photos says it best:
20. Six hundred chairs with individual loudspeakers moved visitors over a 36,000-square-foot scale model of the highway world of 1960: seven-lane roads with permissible 100-mph speed, experimental homes, farms and urban developments, industrial plants, dams, bridges and all the intervening landscape.It all sounds familiar doesn't it...If We can Dream It...
21. Springing up around a planned traffic system-still looked on in 1939 as the guarantee of future happiness-the metropolis of 1960 was seen to be free of slums and blight, full of parks and civic centers. Energy sources would apparently be abundant, climate perfect. In 1964 GM offered an analogous ride at almost the same location.
I truly enjoyed this book. Being an armchair architect, the pictures of the show buildings were simply stunning. Art Deco, on such a grand scale, at its finest.
The Bottom Line:
Get this book if you are a serious student of Epcot--in all of its incarnations: the planned community, the theme park of 1982 or the ideas leading up to its design or execution. You won't regret it. With that in mind, this isn't the book for the lay traveler or the Disney Geek just starting to earn their Geek Certificate--there are some cooler books about Epcot we've looked at that should be in every collection.
- 2719 Hyperion articles about the 1939/1940 World's Fair and its influence on Epcot. There are 8 total, but they are well worth the read. Jeff really knows his stuff!
- An article I wrote back in November 2007 describing the similarities between Horizons and Futurama. There is also a great video of Futurama. You can get the video courtesy of Wired.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Take this sign in the picture below, for instance. No, it isn't announcing the new ejector ride behind Big Thunder Mountain; It is letting guests know that they will need to be able to transfer from a wheelchair to the ride vehicle--usually without cast member assistance. What's so special? Check the theming!
Being that we are in Monument Valley, Utah, we tend to see visual clues, such as: cacti, rocks, and ramshackle buildings--all in hues of light brown, tan, gray and light green. Big Thunder Mountain was a mine at one point--so it is safe to assume that there is mining paraphernalia left around. The handicap access sign is made from an old skillet. Probably one that had been lying around.
So, the Imagineers could have simply put up a nice wooden sign with the same symbol on it. But then, they wouldn't Imagineers, would they?
Monday, January 28, 2008
The Matterhorn had not even been conquered until 1865, and then at the cost of the lives of more than half of the climbing party, which only increased its mystique. Walt immediately sent his Imagineers a postcard of the mountain with two simple words scrawled across the back: "Build this!" Walt's marching orders made it official: the Imagineering team was to create a scaled replica of the Matterhorn with the previously discussed wild-mouse-style bobsleds racing down and around it. Toward the end of 1958, the attraction officially became known as Matterhorn Mountain.I love the fact that the Matterhorn Mountain, the first steel-tube roller coaster, was built because Walt sent a postcard with two words on it. He had spent time in Switzerland during the filming of Third Man on the Mountain and fell in love with the Matterhorn. Two words was all that it took...
--p. 14, The Disney Mountains.
Since I haven't been to Disneyland since 1998, I asked Dave from Daveland if I could borrow some of his Matterhorn pictures.
Make sure to visit Dave's site to see more amazing vintage pictures from Disneyland (and ones from today!)
Richard, from Photos From the Parks has a great shot of the sign at the Matterhorn Bobsleds. Check it out and leave him some Disney Geek Love.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
The pictures of the villains are on the right side of the book and quotes from the villains are on the left. The quotes all have the same formats as well, so you can mix and match the phrases for some great nonsense. This gem came from our last read through:
Ratcliffe shouted, "Only love's first kiss will awaken your puppies!"
Do you know what a phrase like that does to a three year old? Giggle central. So, without further Apu...I mean adieu, here are the villains for the latest poll:
- Pistol Pete (AKA Pegleg Pete)
- Cruella de Ville
- Captain Hook
- Queen of Hearts
So, leave a comment. Tell us who we missed if you think we really dropped the ball. Maybe we will do a follow up poll to battle out the ones we missed. We could do a NCAA-type bracket and see who takes the crown. Or is it s scepter?
Friday, January 25, 2008
Andy at the Backside of Water has a detail shot of the Village Lock and Safe. How have I never seen this? He also presents a park mystery.
Jack Spence from Allearsnet has a great article about the Pacific Electric Railway and its connection to Disney.
Honor from Blue Sky Disney takes us on a journey into the history of the Disneyland Hotel. As always, Honor builds so much more into the story.
Over at Cartoon Brew, they discuss the salaries of top Disney execs. Nuff' said!
The Ghost Relations Dept. has a creepy post about the Hatchet Man.
Massimo at Town Square Photography has some nice shots of Adventureland...at Disneyland Paris You can see the whole series here.
Mike Scopa shares lots of pictures of his experiences before the WDW 5K Race and some details leading to the WDW Half-Marathon.
For all of you Disneyland Detectives, Vintage Disneyland Tickets has a post with some questions about some mysterious brochures. Another post with a special Mickey's Toontown passport from 15 years ago has some great artwork and a scan of the brochure from way back when. Wow...$28.00 for a one-day ticket.
Jeff from 2719 Hyperion shares a detail from his recent trip: Adrian and Edith's at the Disney Hollywood Studios.
Cartoon Brew shares a Bizarro cartoon that makes everything we do make so much sense!
Jennifer from Broke Hoedown shares a news item about Nintendo DS's being used in the parks...she always has great news items...
Ed from Ed South's Wonderful World of Blog shares a Youtube video he found with an amazing sense of late 1980's Disney fashion!
The Epcot Central takes a moment to defend itself and talk about Epcot--and its loss of vision.
Jessica from If We Can Dream It shares a park detail from Aloha Isle. Strange markings, indeed.
Daveland--this time on his Jungle Cruise Blogs (how many does he have?)-- monkeys around and shares a comparison between the Jungle Cruise and Pirates!
Outsidetheberm has a scan from an early brochure of America The Beautiful at Disneyland. There is a great illustrated cut-out of the ride building.
In a rare tag-team post, Stuff From the Park posts about the awesome Monsanto House of the Future and Paleo-Future adds some more to the discussion!
Progressland has an interesting article looking at edutainment.
I know its not a blog, but...
Mark from Mouseplanet has a cool photo tour of the Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas at Jambo House.
Special thanks to JP Digital Graphics and Design for our Geek Approved graphic!
Thursday, January 24, 2008
**The Death Noogie and Atomic Wedgie are torture moves patented by the Big Brothers Society for Cruelty to Younger Brothers Everywhere. George is a charter member of the BBSCYBE of NC.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
- David Iridiumfield
- First Year Primer of Literary Kritosaurus
- A Confederacy of Darwins
- Beak House
- Allosaurus in Wonderland
- Desire Under the Cycad
- Desire Under the Stratum
- East of Edmonton
- Cretaceous Park
My other favorites are: East of Edmonton, 1984 B.C., Count Dracopelta, Buried Treasure Island, Atlas Coposaurus Shrugged, The Lizard of Oz, Driving Miss Daspletosaurus, and The Asteroid Also Rises.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Cinderella's Castle 59 (42%)
Spaceship Earth 53 (37%)
Sorcerer's Hat 3(2%)
Tree of Life 9 (6%)
Sleeping Beauty's Castle 16 (11%)
We weren't surprised that Cinderella's Castle took the top spot. It has been the virtual symbol for Walt Disney World since 1971 and if you ask most people to tell you their first thought about WDW (a little word association) they will more than likely say Cinderella's Castle.
Who hasn't stood in front of Cinderella's Castle for the ubiquitous pose? Buried in a sea of other tourists, you look just like a speck in front of the Castle. In order to provide some different shots of the Castle, we asked our good friend Foxxfur, from Passport to Dreams Old & New, to take some unconventional shots for us that show how design comes into play.
Thanks for the pictures Foxx!
Foxx also posts on our other blog, The Minute-by-Minute Guide to Walt Disney World. She posted a great article about How Disney Thinks about Dining--which is a completely different way of looking at Disney Dining! Be sure to check back in the future...she is planning an article about Disney coffee for us junkies.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Lou's adoring fans at the after-the-half-marathon-meet. All 10 of them. Maybe the little one was a fan, but it is hard to tell from this angle. She (?) looks like she is asleep.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
- Captains Cretaceous
- Dinos In Love
- A Dino for All Seasons
- 1984 B.C.
For those interested in the smaller details, we believe the shot glasses were probably brought by some of the Grad students working at the Dino Institute. There are two from Utah and one from Niagara Falls, Charleston and New Mexico.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Jessica (the unofficial Taylor sister) has a rare shot of the caged Lou and his better half. Make sure you've added her blog to your daily read.
Outside the Berm has a scan of the Nature's Wonderland insert from 1960. Very cool.
D.O.C. shares information about Disney Legend and animator Jack Hannah (Go, Donald!) and another post about the amazing Claude Coats!
Vintage Disneyland Tickets has a post with some uber-cool Start Tours merchandise from the opening at Disneyland. There is another post with a shot of Walt and Lilian on vacation in 1935.
Jack Spence, from the World According to Jack, sends out a reminder about the change in the Disney Dining Experience.
Honor from Blue Sky Disney does a great Where Are They Now? post on some much, uh, disliked (and some liked) ex-Disney employees. He also presents a great look at Steve Jobs, Disney's largest shareholder, and the power he has at Disney.
Of course, mad props must go out to our friend Doc Terminus (Glenn) at Passamaquoddy. Bringing us news of small-town life is priceless: Broken Monorail and The BassPass System.
Progressland, a newer blog, has just done a post entitled Remembering Roger. There are some great detail shots--current and historical.
Over at MouseExtra, Dave shares a post about the architectural influence of everyone's favorite Mansion in Orlando.
How many times have you had THIS conversation with someone? DisneyDean at My Disney Blog shares a great story.
The New Fantomorrontierstreet Land Vid Blog wins our award for most original name (Sorry Glenn, Foxx, Jeff and Jessica)--simply because we're not sure how to pronounce it. Nonetheless, there is a great post celebrating a visit to 1988.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
We have seen some of the pictures on other blogs around the time of Celebration 25 back in October, but the pictures just don't do it justice. Along the wall are matted prints for each pavilion in Future World and World Showcase, each with architectural renderings, construction and Imagineer photos and historical information.
One of the cooler things was a poster of a speech that Ray Bradbury gave to the Imagineers back in 1981. We wanted to share it with you.
The John and Marty referred to at the beginning of the speech are John Hench and Marty Sklar. Probably two of the most influential Imagineers that worked with Walt Disney. They were charged with carrying out his final dreams. They were true Renaissance people. Ray Bradbury gave this speech to help motivate the Imagineers while they finished the massive Epcot project. At the time it was the world's largest and most expensive construction project.
John and Marty told me I was supposed to come up here and explain you to yourselves…and to tell you what you are and what I am and what I am doing here. I’m here because I want to be here. There are a lot of places in the world I could be, but I’ve been coming through WED and going to
Disneylandfor many years now and I like what I see.
A wonderful thing happened to me in 1954…I went to
for the first time ever. I traveled through Rom and Italy Florenceand . I saw the works of Fra Angelico and I came home inundated with the Renaissance. By a wonderful coincidence, a few months later I came out to the Disney Studio and wandered through and saw the sketches and the drawings and the paintings for “Sleeping Beauty.” I said, “My God…this is fantastic, that I’m seeing work here commensurate with many of the things that I saw in Renaissance Italy when I visited there for the first time..." Venice
And so, really, what you are is Renaissance People. If there ever was a Renaissance organization, this is it. You haven’t peaked yet, but you’re peaking, and sometime in the next twenty years when you peak completely, the whole world’s going to be looking at you…
Buckminster Fuller lectures us on how to change the World and yet the only people I see who are successful at changing the World are right here—people with very special dreams. We’re acting out what Schweitzer often spoke of in his philosophies years ago. He said, “…set a good example for the World. If you are excellent, if you are of high quality, the World will imitate you.”
What we’re doing here is inventing a “Schweitzer Centrifuge” … That’s the way I look at the EPCOT Project. If we build all of this correctly, if we build it beautifully, if we set an example for the World, we can change the whole damn country. That’s how important you are. That’s how important I feel, working with you. People will come from all over the World; they’re already doing it at Disneyland and Disney World—when you get people like Hirohito, or you see Kruschev pounding at the door and not able to get in—and being irritated by it—you know you’ve got something. And so, what we’re going to do in the next year and the next five years and the next thirty years is change our own country, only for the better. And after that—the world.
It’s a big project. But of all of the groups in the world, while everyone else is busy talking, you’re doing the stuff that’s really going to count.
--Ray Bradbury, c. 1981.
A little daunting, wouldn't you say?
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
The following scene in Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is easily overlooked. Although it is crucial to building dramatic tension in the pre-ride show, it is easily missed from the stand-by queue since that line wraps around the inside of the building. However, from the FastPass line you have an outside path to the train, so your view of the impending doom is first class. The rub is that most FastPassers scoot through the line expeditiously and overlook the scene developing to their left. If you take a moment to stop and look, you will see that the Imagineers carefully crafted a very foreboding scene: a broken bridge falling into disrepair, about to end someones train ride tout de suite, awaits the next train. If that one survives the rickety structure, then surely the next one will plummet. That is a spectacular detail that can be easily overlooked and is often not far from your field of view. Our suggestion? Let a few people pass you and take a good, thorough look around. The few people you let scurry past will lose more than they gain.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Not just me and you.
My thought is that there was a time when the Disney Theme Parks were educating the public on what it meant to be entertained in a Theme Park. Before Disneyland, there really wasn't anything like it. We had to be taught how to have fun. Fun the Disney way.
This reminded me of a quote from Marty Sklar from The E-Ticket Magazine:
I had the little office right out in front of where the Tour Guides are now, in the building that was once the Police Station. There was a light globe out front that said "police" and I learned a lot when people came in my office and asked me questions. That was when I began to realize what people didn't understand about Disneyland, from the questions that they'd ask. So I began to spend time out at the ticket windows. I quickly found out that people were saying, "Now I want to go on the Mark Twain, and I want to go on the Jungle Cruise, but I don't want to go on any rides." I learned that they related rides in those days to the whips and the shoot-the-chutes and all the stuff that was in the old amusement parks, and they knew that Disneyland was something else. Walt had sold that on television. They didn't really understand the word "rides" in connection with our kinds of shows and experiences. Because of this, we invented a whole new language and started calling them "attractions," "adventures," "experiences" and we wrote the word "ride" out of our vocabulary for many years. The public brought to the Park their preconceived expectations about the Mark Twain and the Steam Trains, and didn't consider them rides in the traditional amusement park sense.
--Marty Sklar, as interviewed in the Fall 1998 edition of The E-Ticket Magazine. pp. 5-6.
The quote from Marty Sklar sums up anything I could say about the issue. Even though Disney is educating us on being a theme park guest, we are still educating Disney on what theme park guests actually are and what they want. The best thing that we can do for Disney, as bloggers, podcasters, forum members and Disney Geeks, is to be evangelists. Preach to everyone we can what Disney is and what a Disney vacation can be. We know what a great Disney vacation can be; it is now our job to share that with the world!
If you haven't subscribed to The E-Ticket Magazine...you really should. It is the most amazing magazine concerning Disneyland, Imagineers and attractions that are gone but not forgotten. They publish irregularly, but each issue is worth its weight in gold. I'll have a full review of the magazine and specific issues over the next couple of weeks.