Sunday, January 22, 2012

Disneyland Guide from the infamous 1997 Light Magic AP party

In 1997 Disneyland retired the popular Main Street Electrical Parade. Its replacement was called Light Magic, a strange half parade, half stage show (or "streetacular" as Disney called it). I won't go in to too much of the specifics about the parade, mostly because several other people have done that, like Jim Hill's EIGHT PART(!) series. On May 13, 1997 a annual passholder preview party was held, this was a separate "hard ticket" event that, if I remember correctly, cost $35 per a person. If you notice in the post title I called this event "infamous." The reason being is that it will go down in history as probably the biggest passholder revolt ever on Disney property. To make a long story short, the Light Magic presentation that night was filled with technical issues (not to mention it was an absolutely terrible parade). The annual passholder party was pretty much a disaster and keep in mind it had been billed as the world preimere. Then something hilarious happened, after all the issues with that night's performance Disney announced to thousands of their most hardcore and brutally critical fans in attendance that this party was not for the world premiere. Disney changed their mind and it was announced that the annual passholder party was for a dress rehearsal. After this the thousands in attendance reacted calmly, and left the park in an orderly fashion. HAHA, i'm just kidding. The APs at the party freaked out, screamed out loud and got in line at guest services at City Hall to complain. After a short amount of time the line of angry APs WENT ALL THE WAY UP MAIN STREET TO THE HUB!!! What a night! For some reason after all that fun Disney had suddenly been soured on throwing parties for annual passholders. It would be another 14 YEARS before they would hold another one. On to the pamphlet!

The front of the guide is pretty simple. Sleeping Beauty castle with some spotlights in the back. No mention of Light Magic is a little weird.

The second page shows the Light Magic logo and a quick run down of the event. I do love that the party went until 1:30 AM.

(click to enlarge) 
Besides Light Magic, the park was open with its full roster of attractions and some small extras you can see on the map. Also notice at this point New Tomorrowland construction (which opened the next year in 1998) was in full swing. The only attractions in Tomorrowland at the time were Star Tours, Space Mountain, Autopia, and the Submarine Voyage. The front entrance of Tomorrowland was almost completely blocked by construction walls. Notice the "Light Magic Viewing" areas listed on the map. This was not a typical parade that could be watched at any point of the parade route. The parade floats would stop at two points and then the show would start. The one effect I thought was cool for LM was the facades on Main Street were covered with thousands of strands of fiber optic light. During some show scenes the Main Street buildings would light up and/or appear to glow with pixie dust. This effect was never used again for any other parade and most of the infrastructure was removed during various refurbishments over the years.

 The back of the guide book. Boring! In the next few months it became clear that Light Magic was a total failure. The passholder revolt and bad word of mouth from the general public doomed the show. Heres where it gets weird, the show was canceled on September 8, 1997 ($20,000,000 spent on a parade that lasted 5 months! Ouch!) but then for some strange reason Disney announced it would be on hiatus until 2000. Why 2000? Why put a parade on hiatus for three years to rework it? It all seemed very strange. 2000 came and went with no mention of Light Magic from the Disney company but its memory lives on as one of the park's biggest failures ever.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Disneyland Pog Wild set and Collector Caps Magazine from March 1994

First, thanks to the excellent Disney Tourist Blog for linking Angry AP in their blog post from the past weekend.Second, sorry for no update last week. Overtime at work again prevented me from preparing an update.

Today's update is a follow up to this post I made back in September 2011. It was about a promotion Disneyland held in March 1994 called "Go Pog Wild and Rollerblade Crazy!" From the previous update:

"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). A big part of the promotion was the all day POG tournament which was held in the area near the Motor Boat Cruise."

The fact that I didn't have the Disneyland Pog set to show you guys has drove me crazy. Luckily I finally got a chance to make things right. This weekend I attended a Disneyana Fan Club show. I was searching through boxes of hundreds of items of random Disney ephemera from the past 50 years, then I saw it. The Disneyland Pog Wild set! 
For $10 I was able to obtain it. As I mentioned in my previous post about Pog Wild, I did attend the event and at some point did own the Pog Wild set. But, like a lot of Disneyland items from childhood, the Pog set has gone missing from my collections. I'm not going to lie, if this set was any more than $10 I probably would not have purchased it. But the Pog gods smiled upon me that day.

Here it is. 4 Pogs and one slammer. The designs on the first two Pogs reek of the early 90s (which is what makes them so awesome), the second two are a but weak. It looks like they can be found in any standard Pog set. I'd like to point out that yes, I COULD have scanned this at better quality if I removed the Pogs from their sealed bag. I like you guys, but I don't like you so much as to disturb my set of Disneyland Pogs.

As if having this Pog set in my collection wasn't cool enough, the package also included a magazine!
Yes, at one point Pogs were popular enough to have several magazines dedicated to them. This one in particular is called Collector Caps Price Guide. The front features Mickey Mouse in a football jersey and helmet (what?).

(click to enlarge) 

Be sure to enlarge the scan of this magazine to see some truly rare pictures of this event at Disneyland (look for yourself, there are hardly any pictures of this online). As you can see in the pictures the Pog area was near the Motor Boat Lagoon. Also, as I speculated in my previous post, the Rollerblade ramp was located in front of the Mission to Mars attraction. If Disney did something like put a Rollerblade ramp in front of an attraction these days I think Disney fans would be filled with so much rage they would literally suffer from spontaneous combustion.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Vintage Walt Disney World: Disney World Village, River Country, and LBV

The Walt Disney World Village was WDW's original shopping district. It opened 4 years after Magic Kingdom in March of 1975. In 1997 it was renamed to Downtown Disney. Evidence exists that at one point Disney planned to have a Monorail line and station for this area, unfortunately this never came to be.

Downtown Disney has been expanded several times in the last few decades. In this picture from the late 70s you can see the similarities that the buildings have to their current versions.
This beautiful picture shows the Empress Lily. It held restaurants and a lounge. The structure was designed by Walt Disney Imagineering and is not actually a boat, but a building that is made to look like one. In the mid 1990s Disney handed over operation to an outside company and the name was changed to Fulton's Crab House. Notice in the picture the smokestacks and paddle wheel are visible. These items were removed and never replaced when Fulton's moved in.

River Country was WDW's first water park. It is located near Fort Wilderness. It operated 1976 to 2001.

The unique thing about River Country is that it used water from Bay Lake, which you can see was connected in the top right corner of the screen. Unfortunately this could have also been it's downfall thanks to the brain-eating amoeba that lives in the lake (known as Naegleria Fowleri).

 This attraction was known as White Water Rapids.

Lake Buena Vista was a planned community turned resort. It is now known as Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa.
Here you can see the original Fairway Villas built for the resort. These were removed when Saratoga Springs was expanded. Also seen is the resort's golf coarse and tennis areas.
The tree house villas are still some of the most unique lodging available at Walt Disney World (they better be at over $700 a night). The original tree house villas were closed for decades before they were remodeled and reopened in 2009.