Thursday, September 29, 2011

Amazing hand made Haunted Mansion stretching portrait shadow box art

My friend Dave and his wife Erin recently celebrated their wedding anniversary. As a gift Erin gave Dave these amazing hand made Haunted Mansion stretching portrait shadow boxes! What an awesome gift!
The whole gang is here, complete with the same style of wallpaper that is used in the famous stretching room. Dave says "All faces are hand painted... everything else was hard cut out and layered." Very cool, It gives each portrait almost a 3D effect.

The tightrope walker.
The detail in each one is absolutely amazing.

I have to send a shout out to Dave for letting me post these pictures! A very big thank you and congratulations on the anniversary!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lady, I think you have the wrong park...

Occasionally I will read one of the many posts that Disney puts up on their official Facebook page. The questions are fluff but sometimes they produce hilarious results in the comment sections. In this case Walt Disney World simply asked what classic attraction would people like to see return:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Disneyland Guide Map from September 1996

What's that you say? You want to see a Disneyland map from this week 15 years ago? Okay, here we go...

The summer of 1996 was the final season of the Main Street Electrical Parade. Or so we thought, the parade would eventually return to Disney's California Adventure in 2001. But in 1996 many Disney fans like myself thought it actually was "glowing away" so we bought overpriced trinkets like this.

(click to enlarge)
Lot of things to point out on this map. Notice the advertisement for Mickey's Halloween Treat (then in it's second year of existence). Also notice the Esmeralda clip art advertising Hunchback of Notre Dame finger puppets (I wish I had one to scan for you). I say this every time I scan a map but wow look at how awesome Tomorrowland was, even this late in the '90s. I'd also like to point out one thing I've never noticed before:
Out of all the maps I have in my collection, the ones from 1995 and 1996 are the only ones that warn of strobe lights being used in the attractions. Notice that the little light icon is listed on attractions like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Space Mountain, and Captain EO. It's weird that this was even mentioned.

It's interesting to see that there are several character meet and greets listed here that haven't been offered in years. Pecos Goofy, Pocahontas, Meeko, the Beast, Daisy Quasimodo, Esmeralda, Clopin, Rafiki, and Timon haven't been offered in a very very long time.

As always, the Kodak advertisement brings. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Walt Disney World Postcards From 1975 Part 2

Part 2 of my vintage Walt Disney World postcards from 1975! 
Again I have to apologize for the image quality, these postcards have sitting in a box for 36 years!

All of the vintage publicity photos for Haunted Mansion always look so cool. I don't know how they got them to look so ghostly in the days without Photoshop but they look better than most of the current images from the Mansion look today.

This image would be impossible to reproduce today. The giant ugly Magic Carpets of Aladdin would be towering in the background, and this was way before the lush jungle we see in the current Adventureland grew in.

It's hard to believe The Country Bear Jamboree has been entertaining guests for 40 years now!

The Grand Prix Raceway (now known as the Tomorrowland Speedway) looks basically the same as it does today. I always wondered why the Magic Kingdom didn't get a copy of Autopia from Disneyland. WDW's version of the ride always seemed a bit bland and boring to me. Obviously not everyone feels this way because it's still one of the park's most popular attractions.

Did you know that when It's a Small World was being developed for the 1964 World's Fair the original soundtrack for each nation was their specific National Anthem. Once the Imagineers heard all the national anthems playing together they said it sounded like hundreds of kids singing different songs. The original idea was scrapped and the Sherman Brothers were brought in to write a song that could be translated to all the different languages and blend together as the guests ride through.

Fort Wilderness looks MUCH different these days. Now you will find hundreds of camping spots and a lush forest. I've never seen anyone use a canoes at Walt Disney World but a quick search said you can still rent them. So, there you go folks, there is still a way to ride canoes in Walt Disney World!

That's it for this round of vintage WDW postcards. Be sure to take a look at the first set!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My thoughts on Disney obtaining theme park rights to the Avatar franchise

(Disclaimer: I am a terrible writer. I don't normally use this blog for this sort of thing but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share my thoughts on what will end up being the biggest Disney theme park news this decade. That's whats so awesome about news like this, even the most insignificant Disney blog like mine will have something to say on this subject.)

I'll start off by saying I don't like Avatar but I also don't like Harry Potter. But that didn’t stop me from thinking that the Harry Potter ride at Islands of Adventure is one of the greatest theme park rides on the planet (right up there with Haunted Mansion, Indiana Jones Adventure, and Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean). A lot of people don't like Avatar, just like a lot of Disney fans hate Cars. But Cars Land looks like it will be one of the most highly detailed theme park attractions on the planet and it is this reason why I am looking forward to see what Disney will do with the Avatar franchise. Yes, I would rather see new rides/lands that are NOT based off of existing franchises but this is 2011 and it is as good as we are going to get. The bottom line is that Disney fans need to realize that Beastly Kingdom is never going to be built, and Thunder Mesa will never be added to any Disney theme park.

The rumor is that Disney is developing a new ride system for the attraction that will end up being the headliner for a Avatar-based land. Let's think about some of the new ride systems Disney has developed in the last 20 years. EMV for Indiana Jones Adventure and Dinosaur, the trackless “LPS” system for Pooh's Hunny Hunt, and the Tower of Terror elevators. These are only a few of the examples of new ride systems that WDI can create when they have the right budget. Which brings me to my next point.

James Cameron will have the same creative pull over this that John Lasseter has over Cars Land and J.K.Rowling has over The Wizerding World of Harry Potter. Why does this matter? At the D23 Expo this year John Lasseter told a story about how an accountant was going over the plans for Cars Land with him. The accountant was going over all the items that he deemed unnecessary and just basically strangling the project creatively like so many bean counters have done in the theme park industry and will continue to do until the end of time. John Lasseter then told this unnamed employee (I am paraphrasing here) “If this is the best you can do then I am willing to accept that. But, if we do cut all these items then you need to stand at the entrance of Cars Land and explain to each and every guest why they made all those cuts. Every day from park opening to closing, to every single guest. Do we have a deal?” This is exactly what the theme park division of Disney needs to avoid things being done “on the cheap” such as Disney's California Adventure, Dino-ramma in DAK, and the 1998 re-do of Disneyland's Tomorrowland. James Cameron will be the person to push for budget that is required to make Avater land the spectacle that Animal Kingdom (and whatever other Disney park that ends up getting it) needs.

Imagineering is on a creative hot streak right now. Look at Cars Land in DCA, the Fantasyland Expansion at MK, and Shanghai Disneyland. Even going back to 2006 with the opening of Expedition Everest, they are still able to make amazing and immersive attractions. Disney also has the once in a lifetime chance to open a land based off of a mega-franchise right in the middle of when the movies are still being released. The current date be mentioned by Disney is 2015 which would put it right between the releases of the second sequel (2014) and the third (December 2015). This will be a huge boost financially for the Disney company and especially Walt Disney World which currently has three parks in need of new attractions (DHS and Epcot).

My final point is that some fans where up in arms when Disney first announced that Star Wars (and then later Indiana Jones) themed attractions were coming to Disney theme parks. Now, as over 20 years has passed since these attractions where built they have become ingrained in the history of the parks (especially Disneyland). 20 years after the Avatar attractions finally come to life the same thing will happen to it, like it or not.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Disneyland Today from 1994 Featuring POG WILD and Rollerblade Crazy!

 As I was preparing for today's update I said to myself "I want to post something really obscure." Well, it doesnt get more obscure than a pamphlet for a Disneyland POG promotion. For those of you who don't know what POGs are (or are acting to cool to remember) here is the link to the Wikipedia article describing the game. Naturally Disneyland (and even Knott's Berry Farm) wanted to capitalize on the fad so they offered an exclusive Disneyland POG set  (4 pogs and a slammer) to kids under 13. I have them around here somewhere but I can't find them (and for that reason I have failed you) but this site does have scans of the set! A big part of the promotion was the all day POG tournament which was held in the area near the Motor Boat Cruise.

Another part of this promotion was "Rollerblade Crazy" where guest could "See Team Rollerblade(TM) rock the house the Mouse built with their wild and wicked high-flying stunts on a 45-foot half pipe!" Wow... Also take a look at the ticket prices in 1994. $30 for a single day ticket!

All joking aside, that live entertainment schedule is jammed packed. As for the Team Rollerblade half pipe I can't find any pictures of this on the internet, and hardly any mentions of it. I don't even remember watching the show but using the map it *kind of* of looks like the half pipe was located in front of Mission to Mars or possibly the empty America Sings/Carrousel of Progress building. If you have a picture of the half pipe please post it in the comments!

So there you have it. The "Go POG Wild & Rollerblade Crazy" promotion lasted less than a month and was never heard from again. On a personal note I experienced Pog Wild on March 26th 1994, my 11th birthday. Like most kids my age I was absolutely nuts for POGs and Disneyland so at the time I probably thought that my life couldn't get any better. Little did I know, 17 years later I would be blogging about it on the internet! Dreams really do come true!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Vintage Disneyland Walk Around Characters

I thought I would change it up today and do a post about something I have never covered on this blog before. Characters! Full disclosure, I am not a big fan of the walk around characters but I do appreciate that they are loved by many and have a place in the parks (except Epcot). And I will admit that a hug from someone in a giant Pooh costume is never a bad thing. 

[image removed at the request of copyright holder]

This picture from 1958 is scary for many reasons. Walt looks slightly angry but nowhere near as angry as Mickey Mouse. The child actor playing Alice looks innocent enough but look at that bunny character! I don't know much about cold war era costume technology but surly they could have done better than that!

This next one from the seventies features an older Alice face character that looks fine (besides her outfit that looks like has spent 100 years fading in the sun). The White Rabbit character looks similar to the characters that we know today. The same cannot be said for the Mad Hatter. I'm sure many children fled in horror, never to return to Disneyland again after seeing the giant headed characters like Hatter.

This picture is from the opening day of Disneyland in 1955. The Mickey and Donald costumes are the things nightmares are made of. I truly feel sorry for the kids who went to the park on opening day. Not only did they have to deal with long lines, broken rides, and hot weather, but they also had to see these terrifying representations of their idols.

Walt with his stars. I love this charming picture but...

Mad Hatter looks like pure evil!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Walt Disney World Discovery Guide From 1986

Today I wanted to show you all one of my favorite vintage Disney brochures in my collection. This is not a guide map but more like one of those pamphlets you would find in a truck stop or hotel lobby. This was printed in 1986. To give that some context it was the year when Country Bear Vacation Hoedown premiered as a seasonal version of the Country Bear Jamboree, The Living Seas opened at EPCOT Center, and construction started on Disney-MGM Studios!

The reason why I love this guide is because it's so original EPCOT Center-centric. The cover shows Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto in there amazing space suit costumes standing in front of Spaceship Earth.

 Another reason why I love this pamphlet is because its not cheesy like the advertising material of today. If you pick up a brochure for Disneyland or Walt Disney World these days they would be covered in clouds and have the words "Magic" and "Dreams" plastered all over the place. Not this though! It makes it look like adults visiting Walt Disney World is actually acceptable and encouraged (of coarse it is!).

The original and amazing EPCOT Center!

 The left of the page gives a basic rundown of Magic Kingdom's offerings. On the right you can see the tticketing information. The cost of a one day WDW ticket in 1986 was a very affordable $24.50, which would be around $48 when adjusted for inflation. 

They don't call it the "Vacation Kingdom of the World" for no reason! This page makes it clear you can have a jam-packed vacation without even going in to the parks!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Even More Vintage EPCOT Center Future World

I don't know about you but I could look at vintage EPCOT Center pictures all day long!

A side view of Spaceship Earth and Earth Station building.

The famous Bell Systems Network Operations Center scene from Spaceship Earth

From inside Earth Station. Notice the WorldKey Information kiosks in the back and the original Epcot guest services desk on the left.

Dreamfinder! The more I get to know people that grew up going to Walt Disney World, the more I understand how much this classic attraction is missed. I was lucky enough to ride the original Journey into Imagination on my first trip to WDW in 1996 (a couple of years before it closed forever).

An outside picture of the Imagination pavilion. Notice the beautiful original fountain on the right that was replaced with it's current, less exciting, pyramid fountain.  

I get that Test Track is one of the most popular attractions in all of Walt Disney World but it's too bad Epcot had to lose almost all of it's classics like World of Motion. Also, don't you think this pavilion looks a lot better without all that Test Track crap out in front of it? It is amazing that they gutted this building completely and installed Test Track within the same structure, considering that they are two completely different experiences.  

The entrance and queue to Spaceship Earth. I wish I had a higher resolution version of this picture but the book I scanned it from is very small.

More of my vintage EPCOT Center posts:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Making of Fantasmic! From Spring 1992 Disney News Magazine

 The Disney News magazine is one of those things from my childhood that I will always remember. It  was the Disney fix I needed when I couldn't be in the parks. It was also way before the internet which means besides the local newspapers it was the only way to read about what was headed to Disneyland! For example, the issue we are looking at today previewed the upcoming show Fantasmic! and WESTCOT Center, the planned (but unfortunately never built) second theme park for Disneyland Resort. Also featured are other Disney theme park related stories such as behind the scenes of Euro Disneyland, the stories behind Disneyland attractions, "Galactic Gifts From Tomorrowland" and many more interesting articles. You can see why a Disneyland-crazed kid like myself was obsessed with this magazine to a point where I would read every issue until they fell apart. I'll revisit this magazine from time to time on this blog but today I'll be focusing on the Fantasmic! cover story. 

If you are having trouble reading the print or seeing the pictures on the pages, click the images to enlarge them.

The cover shows a beautiful collage of the various show scenes.

 I always thought Fantasmic! had a great logo. Did you know this show was originally going to be called "Imagination"? Rumor has it that Disney changed the name in the months leading up to the debut when they realized they couldn't copyright the name. You can still hear the singers say "Imagination" in the beginning of the show's soundtrack.

This page shows a lot of rare concept art for the show. As we all know things change between concept to completion and you can see evidence of this in the middle painting. Notice during the Kaa scene you can see a planned but never implemented cast member in a canoe with a torch.

More designed but not implemented show elements can be seen on this page too. Notice in the Pinocchio scene you can see Geppetto on a raft while Monstro chases him! How cool would that have been.

Fantasmic! was designed to last a few years but little did anyone know at the time of this article that it would become one of the most classic and beloved nighttime spectaculars in Disney history. Personally I am not a fan at all of Disney's Hollywood Studios version of the show but Disneyland's Fantasmic! is still one of the best theme park shows Disney has ever done.

Just for fun I wanted to include this scan of a Magic Years Club advertisement!

More post on Fantasmic:

Friday, September 2, 2011

Disneyland Souvenir Guide From 1990

1990 was a great year for Disneyland. One of most successful marketing campaigns in the park's history (35 Years of Magic featuring the Dream Machine) and arguably the most popular parade ever to hit Disneyland (Party Gras) both premiered that year.

On the left you can see the new entertainment offerings for the Summer season. Notice the Dick Tracy Live show which lasted less than a year. The show took place in the Videopolis Theater (currently known as the Fantasyland Theater). Dick Tracy Live was only designed to run to promote the film but there was a mega E-Ticket attraction themed around Dick Tracy planned for Disneyland and Disney MGM-Studios (Disney and More has a great article about it). Unfortunately the attraction never got off of the drawing board but it did heavily inspire the ride system eventually used in Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden eye.

This page describes all the fabulous prizes that can be obtained for the 35th birthday celebration. Notice at the bottom of the page you can see the outline of what the Dream Machine looked like.

Almost all of the classic Disneyland maps look great and this one is no exception. 

These were the days when guide maps were beefy. As you can see every single shop and attraction has a description and then is mapped out on it's own mini map on the side.

Splash Mountain was only one year old in 1990. "Watch your life splash before your eyes!"

I always love looking back old Tomorrowland stuff. It's probably because it is the land that has most changed. All the classic attractions are here, except for America Sings which had been closed for about 2 years at this point. Notice the Space Place is listed as one of the restaurants. In a previous post I talked about how you can still clearly see the remnants of Space Place near the entrance of Space Mountain. In this picture you can see it in its current boarded up glory, complete with it's menu holders still in place.

 Disneyland Hotel advertisements used to kill me when I was a kid. I wanted to stay there so bad when I was a kid but my grandma never let me. Probably because we lived 15 minutes away but I'm not bitter...

On the left you can see a great advertisement for the block of programming that would end up being engrained in the minds of all the kids that grew up in the 90s. The Disney Afternoon. On the left you can see a list of healthier food alternatives but I question the healthiness of a few of these items. cheese enchiladas? Teriyaki chicken? Lasagna? I'm actually surprised they don't offer something like this these days considering how health conscious most people are.

 Today I'm including this button to be a part of Magical Days with the Mouse's flashback Friday. Be sure to take a look at the other entries! They are always entertaining.