Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lost Disneyland: Carousel of Progress

“Welcome to the General Electric Carousel of Progress. Now most carousels just go ’round and ’round, without getting anywhere. But on this one, at every turn, we’ll be making progress.”
The Carousel of Progress was one of four attractions that came out of the 1964-1965 New York Worlds Fair. This attraction was sponsored by General Electric and took you through a tour of technology in America starting just before the turn of the century. It followed a family through each time period and how they progressed, and this was all done in a true carousel style, each show scene was a section of a round stage that the seating area turned around. The best part of this attraction was the great Sherman Brothers song "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow."
Most people don't know this but this attraction actually got its concept years before the fair was even thought of. It started as the main attraction on an extension of Main Street called Edison Square. This would have Main Street progress from pre-electricity to after electricity caught on. At the end would be an attraction where you would walk from scene to scene to show you the progress of technology. This was never built, but as they say in WDI, good ideas never die. When General Electric asked if Walt could create an attraction that GE would sponsor, Walt decided it was time to bring back this walk through, but he knew he needed something better to draw people in. He turned to WED and they came up with the moving theater. Not only would it have more capacity, but it would eliminate the need to redress each scene. Not only was there a show on the bottom floor, but then the audience would go upstairs as Mother and Father would show you Progress City, Walt Disney's vision for E.P.C.O.T, the Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow. It was indeed a true Community, a city if the future. After the fair ended, They brought the attraction back to Disneyland and was installed in the New Tomorrowland of 1967. In 1973, it was moved to Disney World to bring more guests. People still want to see this attraction back in its home. At this time, there is no plans to bring it back.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lost Disneyland: Mine Train Through Natures Wonderland

"Howdy, folks! Welcome to the little minin’ town of Rainbow Ridge, the gateway to Nature’s Wonderland"
That was the greeting from a friendly old miner when you boarded your mine train to natures wonderland. Natures Wonderland was a classic Disneyland attraction that ran from 1960-1979 and took up the entirety of the backwoods of Frontierland. It took you through scenes that showed Americas great wilderness. Your first stop was Beaver Valley. Here you could see beavers that were working on a dam. After Beaver Valley, you went by Big Thunder "The biggest waterfall in all these here parts."  After that you passes the Twin Sisters "You recognize 'cause they're always babilin." After that you went into Bear Country. You passed by bears fishing, scratching, and just laying around. After that was The Living Desert which took up most of the room. Here you saw geysers, the devils paint pots, and cactus that took on the shapes of people. After that was the last stop: Rainbow Caverns. You saw stalactites stalagmites and colorful waterfalls. After that you got back to Rainbow Ridge.
You can still see remains of Natures Wonderland. As you go along Big Thunder Trail, you can see Bear Country when you go past the lake. In fact when you walk along there, you are in the Living Desert. Up until a while ago you could see Big Thunder on Tom Sawyers Island. Today you can see parts of the track when you go through the Rivers of America. The old mine town at Big Thunder Mountain is actually Rainbow Ridge. So next time you are in that area, look for the tributes to this great ride.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

New Orleans Square Proposed Mega Theme

If you have been to Disneyland in the past decade you might have noticed in the lower area in front of the Haunted Mansion, there is an arch labeled 1764 that could have been used as a gutter, but it is bricked up now. If you are like most people you probably pass it by, but this arch is the last remnant of a proposed mega theme of New Orleans Square.
Here is a part of Keven Lee's book "101 Things You Never Knew About Disneyland":
A canal in New Orleans Square, labeled "1764," is all that remains of a plan to unify several themes in the land.The plan called for a crypt next to the Mansion that led into an underground catacomb of treasure and dead pirates, culminating in a pirate-themed hideout on Tom Sawyer Island. The pirate theme would have focused on Jean Laffite, a real-life pirate from the early 1800s in New Orleans. Laffite’s name might be familiar to frequent Disneyland visitors from the Pirates of the Caribbean loading zone, where a sign reads "Laffite’s Landing." The date 1764 was derived by subtracting 200 years from the birth date of one Imagineer who worked on the project. [Editor's note: this was Matt McKim, son of legendary Imagineer Sam McKim.] FURTHERMORE: Before its replacement with La Petite Patisserie, there was also a Laffite’s Silver Shop in New Orleans Square. Having a Jean Laffite identified as the "owner" of the Haunted Mansion would have united Pirates of the Caribbean with the Mansion and the island into one underlying theme, an unusual feat for an entire land. Though unrealized, the plan lives on in the form of this barricaded "crypt."
You would of entered in a crypt next to the Haunted Mansion and went down a stairway and entered the catacombs (which would be under Tom Sawyer's Island) where Laffite held his stolen treasure. You went back up to find yourself in a ship on Tom Sawyer's Island. This area would be themed to Laffite's secret hideout. It would have a lot of different things for kids to do. This idea was voted down, of coarse, but next time you go past that area with the arch, take a look at it and think about what might had been

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Relive the Nostalgia at Paradise Pier

When Disney's California Adventure opened, the land that had the most complaints was "Paradise Pier." The biggest complaint was the fact that Disney was trying to recreate the sea side amusement park, which meant they could go cheap and put in off of the shelf rides. Since then, WDI has healed DCA's wound with the latest changes to the Pier. The first addition was of "Toy Story Midway Mania." This is a midway themed ride that incorporates the characters from Disney*Pixar's Toy Story. You went through various midway games such as: ring toss, pie throw, and darts. The next change was the transformation of the Sun Wheel to Mickeys Fun Wheel. This was a simple change that took out the sun face and put in a pie-eyed Mickey face. Also, they added a new color scheme, replacing the metallic gold with a sleek black, as well as the addition of LED light that change pattern through the night. The next change was the transformation of the Orange Stinger, a typical swing ride, to The Silly Symphony Swings. This is based on the classic Mickey Mouse cartoon "The Band Concert" which showed Mickeys orchestra that gets blown into a tornado while playing "William Tell Overture." This attraction lets you relive this tornado. As you start to rise and swing, you can see a mural of the tornado with various character blowing along with you. The next change was the bulldozing of the MaliBOOMer. This was a cheap off the shelf launch ride. This will be part of the new "Paradise Park" area. In two weeks, a new attraction will open up called "The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure." This will let you go through the famous parts  from the movie of the same title. Finaly, in July, the last attraction to be added will be "Goofy's Sky School." This will be based on the Goofy how-to shorts where, in this one, Goofy will show you how to fly a plane. This will be a re-theme of Mulholland Madness, the wild mouse coaster. After all this is done, this land will turn from a mess into a nostalgic area

Monday, May 2, 2011

Disney and T.V

      Disney has been in the business of television even at its release to homes. Family's all over America knew that every week they could turn on the ABC network and visit their "Uncle Walt" and see what he has to offer. Alot of people don't know that Disneyland and Disneys history with TV are connected. When Walt first thought of an idea for a theme park in Anahiem, he knew he couldn't afford it on his own. So he went to a new TV station, ABC ans asked for sponsorship for Disneyland, and in return, he would host an hour long show each week. That show was called "Walt Disney's Disneyland." The first show aired in 1954. His first show was named "The Disneyland Story." The show was based around the four lands of Disneyland: Adventureland, Tommorowland, Fantasyland, and Frontierland. Each week was themed around one of these four themes.ABC was even host to the opening of Disneyland, which was one of the first live television broadcasts. 
    In the 1960's, color television developed. So Walt decided to change the name of the show to "The Wonderful World of Color" and move to NBC, which was one of the first television stations to have color. The new show showed off Walts new movies, that he would cut down and show in parts on the show. Also, it would show cartoons. There were also specials at Disneyland, such as "Disneyland's 10th Anniversary" and "Disneyland After Dark." This show also got the catchy theme song by the Sherman brothers. In the 1980's, CBS took the show and changed the title to just "Walt Disney." The show itself went unchanged.
      Then, in the 1980's, ABC aired the "Disney Sunday Night Movie" which was hosted by Michael Eisener. This showed straight to TV movies.
           Then in the 2000's, the show was changed to "The Wonderful World of Disney." It stayed that way until 2008 when it officaly went off the air for good. Disney is split between ABC, NBC, ABC Family, and The Disney Channel.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tron: Histroy

    TRON has been a geek phenomenon since its opening in the 1982, but its history goes back to the first video game, in 1976. When PONG was released, director Steven Lisberger was fascinated by it. He set up an animation studio, with Donald Kushner, to develop animation software in order to create TRON. He took the storyboards to various studios but he was rejected. Then he took it to Disney, and they accepted it. They figured out how to get live-action film and put it in a CGI world.
    TRON is a story about a young software developer named Kevin Flynn. He is a programing genius but his software was stolen by a company called ENCOM. So Kevin decides to hack ENCOM's master computer. But instead he gets sucked into the computer world, by means of a prototype lazer that makes you digital. Inside is a dictatorship lead by the Master Computer program. MCP has brainwashed the programs into thinking that there aren't any users. However there are still some who are faithful to the users, and they go to the Game Grid to be gladiators. Kevin escapes and attempts to get home by means of the portal.
     Later in 2010, the long-awaited sequel to TRON called TRON:Legacy. This story starts a few months after Kevin got back from the computer world. He is telling is son, Sam, about the world that he has created, called the Grid.Then he leaves to work on the Grid. Then he disappears, leaving is company ENCOM, to his partner. Then, 20 years later,  Sam is a rebel late teenager who gives ENCOM a hard time because they have went away from Kevins vision. HE then discovers that there was a page from his fathers office in the arcade. So he goes to investigate and finds a secret room that has the lazer from the first movie. He gets sucked in to the Grid. He gets sent to games to fight with other programs. He escapes with a girl named Quorra. He finds that his father has been hiding here all these years. When he went that night, CLU, a clone copy of Kevin who he ordered to create the perfect system. CLU took it too seriously and saw Kevin as an imperfection and tried to destroy him. If you want to know the rest, you have to watch the movie. End of Line....

Friday, April 29, 2011

What is in store for Beuna Vista Street

If you have been to Disney California Adventure recently, you might have noticed some walls coming up in the entrance. This is for the new Beuna Vista Street entrance. The main entrance has been walled up and you can see molding for the new turnstiles. These are going to resemble the Pan Pacific with its Art Deco design and teal blue color. As you go in, you are going to be in a 1920's LA, when Walt Disney first got there with his newest creation, Mickey Mouse. The Pacific Electric Red Car line will be going back and forth between the entrance and the newly renamed Hollywoodland. The shops will be references to old Disney Characters and shorts, such as Clarabelle's Ice Cream Parlor and Oswald's Filling Station. There will also be tributes to Walt, such as Elias and Company Department store, as well as a statue like the Partners Statue in Disneyland. that shows a young Walt and a young Mickey looking in on the scene. At the end of the street will be the Carthay Circle Theater, which is the theater that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered at. It hasn't been announced what will be inside just yet, but they have thrown around ideas such as a member only restaurant, like Club 33, or something like One Man's Dream at Hollywood Studios in Florida. All in all it will be a very ornate and beautiful entrance to a park.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Little Mermaid at DCA

Disney Insider wrote a fantastic article about the new Little Mermaid ride:

Look at this stuff, isn't it neat? Paradise Pier area's collection of turn-of-the-20th-century-style boardwalk attractions will be more complete when The Little Mermaid~Ariel's Undersea Adventure opens June 3, 2011, at Disney California Adventure Park. With exterior architecture reflecting the era, Walt Disney Imagineers used whimsical special effects, gadgets and gizmos aplenty to create an immersive experience overflowing with seaside flavor. Creative Director Larry Nikolai and Show Designer Chris Crump discuss the whozits and whatzits galore behind the Park's first fairy-tale-inspired ride.

Though construction took almost four years, Larry tells us that the desire to convey Ariel's story as a ride-through attraction is almost as old as the film. "'The Little Mermaid' has been around for 22 years. We started designing the attraction several times, but it never materialized." Luckily for fans, all that's changed.

According to Larry, Ariel's Undersea Adventure attraction will be as memorable as the movie. "Our vision was to celebrate the music, because that's what people remember. We recorded brand-new orchestra music for certain scenes and in-between transitions." Guests can sing along to original songs from the film, including "Part of Your World," "Under the Sea," "Kiss the Girl," and "Poor Unfortunate Souls."

Scuttle welcomes Guests into the shipwreck's broken hull before they sail through scene after scene. From Ariel's grotto to Sebastian's "Under the Sea" extravaganza (the largest scene), the show boasts 183 characters in all, including 49 spinning starfish. Larry talks about how they selected characters for "Under the Sea." "We chose characters mentioned in the lyrics – there are 129 in that scene alone!"

Cramming a full-length movie into a five-and-a-half-minute attraction is always tricky, but Larry points out some of the other challenges. "One of the most amazing things we're doing is animating Ariel's hair. It's important her hair looked like it was 'floating' because it almost has a life of its own in the movie. We didn't animate individual strands of hair ... that would've been distracting."

Fortunately, Larry says, Imagineers got pointers on the sculpture process from Ariel's original animator, Glen Keane. "He advised us to handle it as a mass with its own fluid movement apart from hers – but not to 'over-animate.'" Chris adds, "It's common to work with a character artist, but not the original animator. John Lasseter wanted us to consult with Glen to ensure we remained faithful to his vision. We were very lucky!"

New technology made other Imagineering firsts possible, like the digital 3D design program used to model the building facility, portions of the ride, and the major environmental components. Larry explains that skin technology advances helped the team construct Ariel, King Triton, and Ursula. "The fact that Ariel really isn't wearing much of a costume is challenging. To get the skins on and off each figure, we need seams, fastenings, and closures. Finding the right place for them is difficult when you're working with that amount of exposed skin."

Chris describes how skin is handled when it doesn't cover the entire body. "The hands or necks of most figures usually terminate into a sleeve, cuff, or collar, which makes things a lot easier. In Ariel's case, her body is all skin from the waist up to her arms and head – that's a pretty complicated 'skin suit.'" Larry says that King Triton and Ursula presented the same difficulty, but thankfully, "Skin technologies have changed immensely in the last 30 years. New materials hold up better and provide more movement. If we'd done Ariel 15 or 20 years ago, it might not be the same result ... which is a really neat development."

Ursula's one of the most advanced Audio-Animatronics® figures ever built. As Larry puts it, "She's amazing in sheer size alone – 12 feet wide by 7.5 feet tall. We've given her torso a 'squash and stretch' function (traditionally used in hand-drawn animation) so she can dance along to her number. Our figure animator, Ethan Reed, has done a wonderful job with her." The staggering sea witch conjures up some surprising special effects at her caldron as well, which only enhance her delightfully dark side.

Now that their work is done, both Larry and Chris agree it'll be hard to let Ariel go. "The show's become so much a part of our lives ... it's such a high point for both of us. We're going to miss the people too. While working on a project like this, you get close to everyone on your team – the artisans, architects, engineers, construction workers, painters, and electricians who've all worked tirelessly. I want to see very long lines," laughs Chris. Larry nods. "Our finale goes a little beyond the film. I think it'll surprise people and give them a lump in their throats ... that's what I'm hoping for."

Be part of their world when The Little Mermaid~Ariel's Undersea Adventure opens in Paradise Pier June 3 at Disney California Adventure Park!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What To Expect from Star Tours: The Adventures Continue

As the opening is almost upon us, lets take a look at what to expect from the new Star Tours. The new adventure is opening May 20th in Disney's Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World and June 3rd in Disneyland. It will be a 3-D adventure with multiple ride combination. As in, there will be a slot for a beginning middle and end that will change each time. According to WDI, there will be over 50 ride combination's. What does this mean? You might get in a battle with such villains as Boba Fet, the Empire, or the Dark Lord of the Sith himself, Darth Vader. You might go to the desert planet of Tatooine, or go to the city of Coruscant.

The queue line appears to be almost the same. You will go into a space port and be greeted by R2-D2 and C3PO, the famed droids from the Star Wars movies. Also, the new pilot AC-38, or ACE, will be greeting you as well. The new (or should I say old) star speeder is the Star Speeder 1000 (the original was 3000). You will be boarding flight 1401, but with some mishap, C3PO is in the pilots seat instead of ACE. So C3PO will be your guide through the Star Wars Universe.
You will meet favorite characters along the way,. It will truly be out of this world!