Saturday, May 31, 2008

Disneyland-Silver Spring Connection

Well, I finally found the connection between Disneyland and where I now reside in Maryland. Some might consider it tenuous, but it can act as a placeholder until I find something better. The connection comes from the Snow White Wishing Well. Quoting Magic Quizdom:
Where does money from Snow White Wishing Well go? Children's charities. Originally, it was put into a trust established between Disneyland and the Variety Clubs International, to go to such places as orphanages, schools and children's homes. The trust was terminated in 1972 when federal regulations restricted contributions to foreign charities, and now it goes to domestic children's charities.
In 1971, $5,000 was given to the Variety Clubs for the Indian Health Service-Navajo Hearing Project in Silver Spring, to treat Navajo children suffering from middle ear problems and hearing loss. I don't know how many of those children there were in Silver Spring, though...! (For those who don't know and can't be bothered to open up a map window, Silver Spring is an unincorporated area of Montgomery County immediately outside the District of Columbia. I live across the street from the headquarters of Discovery Communications, which moved into downtown Silver Spring in February 2003. Oh, and the headquarters of the National Weather Service are down the street.)

Dick Cook's Promotion

By now you've probably heard the news: Dick Cook has been promoted. That's right, he's just been named supervisor of Group Services! I am sure you will join me in congratulating Dick in his new assignment and will cooperate with him in every way possible...

Friday, May 30, 2008

Disneyland Encyclopedia Excerpt on the Web

I noticed that Santa Monica Press has placed an excerpt from Chris Strodder's Disneyland Encyclopedia on its web site. I have some initial impressions, but I'll wait to post about them until I have the book in hand.

More Early Matterhorn from the Newspapers

I had a brief post about an early Holiday Hill mention in 1955. A February 1956 item by gossip columnist Mike Connolly is somewhat intriguing: "Walt Disney is about to spend another $250,000 at Disneyland for a huge ski ride." Too bad he didn't have more to say about it!

A (Small) Bit More of Carousel Theater Destruction

So apparently I lied when I last informed you that I only had one image of the Carousel Theater interior when it was gutted in 1996. I discovered a few more images. No, don't adjust your monitors; they really are that size.

These have not been scaled down--they were the full resolution shot at the time! It was pretty cool to have a camera that would allow me to upload photos to my web site (in 1996, "Wicket's Disneyland Home Page" with somewhere around 10 or 25MB of storage space) the same day! Photos could also be taken at 640x480, but the image quality suffered (yes, even compared to these!). I used a Casio QV-10, which I'm sure we still have somewhere around the house. You can read a period review of the camera here. It talks about a bunch of design flaws, but the only thing I remember about the camera is how small the photos are!

Check back tomorrow for a fun internal document from the 1970s. The promised Thesaurus Thursday post might wait until Thursday.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Earliest Mention of Holiday Hill?

In a pre-opening column on Disneyland, May 23, 1955, Hedda Hopper writes in the Los Angeles Times:
One hill is completely covered with pines, and [Disney will] have a snow machine working full time, so that kids in this area who've never had a sleigh ride can rent a sled and sail down hill.
It sounds like Cosmic Waves--but frozen!

I'll probably have a Thesaurus Thursday post tomorrow (yes, on a Friday!). I found some interesting documents online that I want to write about...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Fantasyland Theatre (1965-1981) Destruction

It's been some time since the last installment of my destruction series. Today we'll travel back to January 1982 and get a look at a bulldozer pulling down the Fantasyland Theatre structure. While Disneyland retained the roof of Snow White's Adventures, the Fantasyland Theatre/Juice Bar/rest room structure was torn down completely to facilitate construction of the Fantasyland Basement, Pinocchio's Daring Journey, and the Village Inn (later renamed the Village Haus for reasons unknown to me--hopefully for better reasons than the renaming of the Golden Bear Lodge).

First up is the bulldozer poised down below with a line running to the top of the building...

A simple mechanical action and gravity does the rest:

The still photos don't really give you the destructive effect, though; to compensate, I've created an animated GIF, which gives a better sense of the demolition process. Click the image to enlarge.

Oh, and it's a big anniversary day today. In 1960 both the Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland and The Art of Animation opened; in 1966 "it's a small world" opened. ( and Disney A-Z and The Nickel Tour say "it's a small world" opened on May 28. If it did open on the 28, it was not dedicated until May 30.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Photos from George Short, Part 9

Today we finish up at America Sings with twelve images from Act 4. I think these are some of the best/most unusual of his America Sings photos. There are still more George Short photos to come. They'll be interspersed with other posts in the coming weeks, including a post on Chris Strodder's Disneyland Encyclopedia once I receive it and have a few days to sit down with it and another post on how the research efforts of Kevin Yee and myself differ from this and other products. Anyway, enjoy the photos!

The Geese Quartet:

The College Quartet:

Rooster, Stork and Porcupine:

Hound Dog:


Rooster and Frog:

Motorcycle Storks:

Sam and the Owl:

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Hat Story

Here's one for you hat-lovers out there, from the May 1957 Disneylander:
The Power of Advertising - or "Now I've Heard Everything" - Seems that last week a jet pilot flew in from his base in North Carolina - at 600 miles per hour, no less - landed at the Los Angeles airport, and came to Disneyland via Helicopter. All this burst of speed just to purchase 23 Derbys. Assuredly, we ARE living in an Atomic Age. The thought creeps in, why DID he want so many Derbys??

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Nickel Tour Limited Slipcase Edition

The recent post at Imaginerding on Disneyland: The Nickel Tour inspired me to dig out my all-time favorite book: the slipcase edition of the book, sold in August 1998 at The Disney Gallery. When the original supply of The Nickel Tour was almost out, Camphor Tree numbered the final 500, produced beautiful leather slipcases for them, and had an author signing at the Gallery. My original copy had been used to the brink of dismemberment, so it seemed like a wise investment. Plus, my first copy hadn't been signed and I now knew both Bruce and David.

I have a variety of images related to this event to share today. The one thing I do not have (convenient for scanning) is the special postcard created by The Disney Gallery and sent out announcing the signing. The front of the card reproduced The Nickel Tour's cover. Bruce and David obviously loved that and included it at the end of the second edition.

This is an assortment of what I got that day. The book, the slipcase, the Disneyland 100th anniversary postcard (more on that in a minute), and a sheet announcing publication of Walt's Time in December 1998.

Each book had an autographed marker attached near the front, providing the number. In the Disneyland scheme of things, 13's not a bad number with which to end up. There was also a small yellow paper attached to the top of the slipcase with the number, but that came off pretty easily. Mine is now with some miscellaneous Disneyland paper (at least, I hope it is!).

The books were personalized, of course. I recall hearing that David actually came up with "Enjoy the tour!" and Bruce stole it from him. I believe it!

I had just returned from Disneyland Paris and proudly sported a Space Mountain hat, hence Bruce's comment. This is the only photo I have with Bruce and David, collectively or individually. I'm glad I have it.

Also included with the book was what The Nickel Tour calls one of the rarest Disneyland postcards. It's pictured in both editions of the book, but the second edition remarks that there were one hundred produced and available in December 1998. That is incorrect. Bruce and David probably confused their December 1998 signing of Walt's Time at the Gallery for this earlier event. I don't know why they said there were 100 cards; you can see below my card is clearly 13 out of 250!

It was designed by Imagineer David Durham. I just noticed that the location of the card manufacturer is given as "Parkersville, West Virginia, USA&C, Earth..." Less than fifty years until we annex Canada, I guess! As I was searching for information on the slipcase edition online, I found an interesting Emuck chat transcript with Bruce and David from the beginning of August 1998. Their monthly online chats for in 1999 were a real treat!

Also, on Thursday Werner Weiss updated the What's New at Yesterland? page and included the information that Chris Strodder's Disneyland Encyclopedia (see my earlier post) should begin shipping next week!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

New Fantasyland

We'll continue on the commemoration carousel today (probably saving the America Sings grand finale for Monday). Twenty-five years ago today, the New Fantasyland opened to Guests. I certainly wasn't there for this one! I'll just share a few random things related to the renovation. I re-created the above logo by scanning the cover of a May 1983 special edition Disneyland Line and retouching in Photoshop. If I had more knowledge, I would have re-created it in Illustrator, but I don't have the knowledge or Illustrator, and this fit my purposes.

One of the events that happened when the land was getting close to opening in Spring 1983 was the raising of the drawbridge. Some press materials say it was only lowered twice: on Opening Day and for the dedication of the New Fantasyland. Daveland has a nice photo from July 18 (which was an opening day in its own right) showing the drawbridge lowering:

It was also lowered multiple times for the New Fantasyland dedication, including for several Cast Member private parties in the new land. It's more appropriate to say that it has only been used on two occasions: at the openings of Disneyland and New Fantasyland. But as Bruce and David relate in The Nickel Tour, nobody was sure if they could even get the drawbridge up!:
When it came time to lower the bridge, Disneyland was uncertain whether or not the drawbridge could even be moved. The winch system might be frozen in place, and not usable after all those years. So, just in case the gears were frozen, Disneyland made sure a huge crane was standing by, heavy duty hoist at the ready. Everyone's concerns were unfounded, though, when (with the addition of almost a ton of counterweights) the little bridge that could said "I think I can, I think I can," and was raised and lowered--on its own--without a problem.
And here's some nice visual proof of this crane's presence in this process. It looks like a beautiful day at Disneyland!

And, because I like you guys, here's the front of Sleeping Beauty Castle with drawbridge raised. A close-up of the photo reveals a "Fantasyland Closed" sign. Really?

A few months back--realizing that the 25th anniversary of the New Fantasyland was coming up, I started work on a model of the area. But I wanted to make something more interesting than just what was eventually built. I decided to go with "New Fantasyland Under Construction." Take a look:

Well, OK. I can't make models. And I'm a little late to the fake tilt-shift lens effect party. But I thought this one turned out particularly well--and I had a convenient anniversary for which to share it! When I e-mailed a friend to tell her I had been hard at work on this, she replied, "You did not make that model!" While she knew this isn't something I could do, the photo fooled her--and inasmuch as she knows about rapid Disneyland fans, she said she wouldn't be surprised if somebody had made a hyper-detailed model of part of the Park under construction!

The New Fantasyland has obviously proved more successful than the 1998 New Tomorrowland. Aside from the loss of the Pirate Ship, is there anybody out there who doesn't like the New Fantasyland?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It's Been Ten Years!

Yes, you're in the right place! Read on...

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the opening of the New Tomorrowland. I was there, of course, just as I had been over a hundred other days during its construction. I estimate I probably have about a thousand photographs of New Tomorrowland construction and another 10-20 hours of Hi-8 video. This was the first big construction project after I started visiting the Park frequently. Sure, Big Thunder Ranch became the Festival Arena, and the Fantasyland Theatre became the Fantasyland Theatre under a tent, but the New Tomorrowland always attracted my interest and was certainly much larger than any project at the time (until they closed the Parking Lot, of course).

It was kind of fun to watch the demolition take place. There was always uncertainty about what area would now be fenced off (or unfenced) on a visit to the Park. I remember I was home the Monday of that opening week, studying for my AP US History test. (New Tomorrowland previewed to WDI on Tuesday, had a media day on Thursday, and a public opening on Friday). That morning, I read on alt.disney.disneyland that the construction walls had come down, so I made a trip. I ran into an Imagineer I knew and ended up having lunch with him and Jason Hulst, Rocket Rods designer! I seem to recall them carrying a mirror to the Rocket Rods queue, to make it look like the two PeopleMover cars were actually four PeopleMover cars.

After school on Thursday I headed down to Disneyland, as usual. All of Tomorrowland was roped off, with the Plaza Inn serving as media headquarters. I don't remember the exact sequence of events. I know I saw a few online friends who had somehow gotten media credentials. They were telling me all about the Disneyland Forever kiosks and specifically how a bunch of Space Mountain Concourse tracks available in the morning were unavailable by the afternoon. Shoot, I needed to get in there myself to burn some CDs before more material disappeared! I hung around forlornly by the Plaza Inn, hoping to see somebody I knew. And hey, there was Bruce Gordon! I had met him by being around the construction site so much. I think he gave me a hard time for a few minutes (as any of you who knew Bruce could easily imagine), but he then very graciously motioned me under the rope and took me over to get a guest credential.

This is a nice companion piece to Jed's 1967 Tomorrowland press pass. Thirty-one years later and they're still putting rockets on them! This cartoon style was used in several advertisements. I recall seeing it on Coca-Cola products and in Disneyland Today guide maps. This pass did not entitle me to the freebies that the real media got. One of the giveaways was a forest green New Tomorrowland hat, a design I absolutely loved. Several years later, thanks to the kindness of a fellow Cast Member, Dave Marquez, I ended up with one!

I did burn a CD that first day and still have it in California. More likely than not, I purchased some Tomorrowland sounds, like the Monorail Song and the Space Mountain Concourse tracks still available. I went on the Rocket Rods seven or eight times--there was absolutely no line and most of those times I had the vehicle all to myself. (This was quite a change from the 180 minute line some family members waited in the following day.) I think I waved to Tony Baxter down below before one take-off. I don't remember much else from that evening. I undoubtedly walked around to experience the entirety of the changes. So many parts of it had been fenced off for so long that it was difficult to get an overall sense of the place.

From my destruction series, you may recall that I had a fondness for sticking the camera lens through holes in the construction fences. Sometimes, I'd see familiar people through the fence, as when I saw Bruce when the Moonliner arrived. As definitive proof that I spent too much time documenting the New Tomorrowland transformation (and frequently peeked through the fences), I hereby present the Vanity Fair article that features me and Tony Baxter. Well, maybe it doesn't feature me--I'm just the capstone to the article. Go ahead and read through the article (at least the last page, beginning with "Oh well"); below I explain what happened!

You can download a PDF of the cover and article or look through the page images below:

One day in April, 1998, I spied Tony and another Imagineer I recognized through the construction fence. "Tony!" I yelled. I waited a minute. Nothing. "Hmm," I thought. Perhaps it's not the best idea to shout out to Imagineers while they might be trying to actually manage a construction project? I was about to run away with my tail between my legs when Tony and his party came out the door with somebody I didn't recognize. He was introduced to me as Bruce Handy (a reporter from TIME magazine), doing a story on the New Tomorrowland. He wanted to ask me a few questions, which worked out fine because I wanted to have Tony sign my New Tomorrowland press kit (from 1996 or 1997). So I answer some questions and get my press kit signed and we go our separate ways.

I kept my eye on the TIME magazines flowing into our house. The May 25, 1998 edition featured a story called "All Our Yesterdays," which described how difficult it was to keep Tomorrowland relevant. But there was no mention of me anywhere! That didn't greatly surprise me, because I didn't think I had said anything too important. I figured that was the end of it. That is, until the Fabulous Disney Babe IM'd me in February 2000 something to the effect of "YOU MADE VANITY FAIR." Given how much time had elapsed since I talked to this reporter, I had no idea what she was talking about. I did manage to get some more details from her and then rushed off to get the magazine. I don't know if the author had intended to write this long piece for Newsweek or not, but I certainly was surprised to find myself in the article. (There was a small thread on alt.disney.disneyland about this when it came out.)

At the time my dad asked me if the author had quoted me correctly, and I said that he had. (OK, I don't know why I would have said that there was twice as much stuff going on in New Tomorrowland 1998! Maybe the old Tomorrowland had been dead for too long...?) The author had asked me if I thought much about the future, and I had replied "no." That wasn't true, though. By that time, I had already decided to become an archivist and did have a sort of career path laid out. When he asked me, "Do you think much about the future?" I interpreted it as "Will you be taking a Rocket Rod to work, or will you stick with a jet pack?" I wonder how his story would have ended if I replied that I did think about the future!

This is surely not the last time you'll hear about the 1998 New Tomorrowland on this site (remember all those photos and video?). I think we're all strongly influenced by the Disneyland in which we grew up. Since the renovated land came into being at the same time I grew interested in the Park's history, I'll always have a special affinity for it--even if its staying power has been considerably less than other major land renovations.

Photos from George Short, Part 8

We're up to Act 3 in George's America Sings series: The Gay '90s.

Showgirl Pig, "Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home?":

Old Gray Mare, "The Old Grey Mare" (well, it's a nice shot of the automobile!):

Fox, "Bird in a Gilded Cage":


I should have mentioned this previously, but these America Sings photos are all from 1974, its opening year. Tomorrow we'll step outside the attraction and travel 24 years into the future...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Photos from George Short, Part 7

Bob Gurr helpfully informs me that, in the aviation community, "gone west" is a euphemism for death. I hope I have not scared anybody off or, indeed, killed any of my readers. I didn't write the America Sings script!

Saddlesore Swanson, "The Old Chisholm Trail" (is he in Splash Mountain?):

Sombrero-wearing dog, "Who Shot that Hole in My Sombrero":

Vultures, "Billy, the Bad Guy":

Sam and the Owl... do any of the cacti not visible in this picture form Hidden Mickeys?

The Gay 90s were upon us now! (Well, tomorrow.)

Photos from George Short, Part 6

Today we'll begin a week-long trip 'round and 'round the Carousel Theater to see America Sings. That's right--you'll be in here a week! (Except for Thursday, where we'll take a time-out to commemorate the opening of the New Tomorrowland.)

Today: Act 1. All of the shots I'll be sharing this week are of the show itself, but George does have some perspective on the characters that regular Guests couldn't get. (At least, Guests who stayed in their seats!)

First up, The Swamp Boys:

Mother Possum... she's singing "Single Girl," but she's thinking "stay away from the Laughing Place!":

The Coyote, "Birmingham Jail":

Foxes, "Down by the Riverside":

Hens, "Down by the Riverside":

And two views of The Swamp Boy Frogs:

Also, in response to Friday's post at Gorilla's Don't Blog, here's a nice 1980s shot looking out toward Harbor Boulevard with Chao's visible in the upper right. There are some other fun things in this photo, like the Grand Hotel and... oh, hey, that's Tomorrowland there in the foreground!

That's all for now; tomorrow we're Goin' West!