Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thesaurusing Live Entertainment

Perhaps some of you spent Bonus Sunday over at Vintage Disneyland Tickets. I did my "processing" of the Summer 1967 Vacationland for the thesaurus and will give you a behind-the-scenes look at my processing work. (Yawn!) If you have the magazine, take a look at the article entitled "Disneyland's Summer Extravaganza." Thesaurusing live entertainment terms can be time-consuming because of all the relationships to enter, and in this case we also have additional Park events to deal with.

I like to begin at the broadest level. Almost all of the information in the article pertains to summer 1967, so the discussions will be about the information that is in this field and how everything links back to this. I have terms for other summers, like summer 2008, linked back to summer, and also have other seasons, like holiday season 2008 (which is linked to the generic holiday season). Although this article names the promotion as Summer '67, the Park hasn't regularly, consistently named its summer season like this (that I have yet found). I thus have summer 1967 as the preferred term for standardization. So, right off the bat we have:
UF [use for]: Summer '67
BT [broader term]: summer
We learn that summer 1967 began at the Park on June 24. The article mentions several pre-summer events, including Big Band Festival (1967), Grad Nite (1967), and Date Nite (6/3/1967), Date Nite (6/10/1967), and Date Nite (6/17/1967). I've put these in the thesaurus in their own right, but they applied outside of the Park's summer season, so they are not linked to this term. We now have two more bits of information in the term record:
DN [date note]: 6/24/1967 - ?
DEB [debut]: 1967-06-24
The DN field is a free text field. While I expect to eventually come across the summer end date (perhaps from a guidemap or in a newspaper article or advertisement), I don't have it now and didn't feel the need to search it out at this time. The DEB field is an actual relationship within the thesaurus, and is linked to the date term 1967-06-24. The date term has additional information like the day of the week (Saturday), Park hours (9 AM - 1 AM), and any other useful information about the Park.

The various entertainment promotions from the summer are linked to summer 1967 hierarchically:
NTP [narrow term, partitive]: Country Music Jubilee (1967)
NTP: Hootenanny (1967)
NTP: Humdinger (1967)
NTP: Vaudeville '67
Why am I going to the trouble of disambiguating the terms by putting years in parentheses? Because these events also happened in other years, besides, and I want to use the information from this article at the right level of specificity. That is, I could just use Country Music Jubilee, but as an event with that name happened many times into the 1970s, I feel I would muddy the waters by doing so. We'll just take a look at one of these terms, Humdinger (1967). Linked terms are in bold:
DFOT [definition, other]: Vacationland (Summer 1967): Each week's special entertainment line-up will include a Disneyland Humdinger each Monday night featuring top rock n' roll recording artists.
Stars already signed for the Monday night Humdinger include, The Young Rascals, Neil Diamond, Tammi Terrell, Joey Paige, Lesley Gore, the Mustangs and Humdinger Dancers.
Humdinger will be staged at a new 1,500 seat Tomorrowland show area.

SRC [source for the term]: Vacationland (Summer 1967)

UF [use for]: Disneyland Humdinger (1967)

BT [broader term]: events, promotions, and programs by names

BTI [broader term, instance]: Humdinger

BTP: summer 1967

PFMR [performer]: Diamond, Neil
PFMR: Gore, Lesley
PFMR: Humdinger Dancers
PFMR: Mustangs
PFMR: Paige, Joey
PFMR: Terrell, Tammi
PFMR: Young Rascals, The
events, promotions, and programs by names is something like an authority file. (I have a similarly named people and organizations by names term.) The Humdinger term will eventually relate to all instances of Humdinger through the years, such as that held in 1965. (More information on the summer 1965 entertainment can be found in my June 5 post.) As it stands now, I have all of the above performers linked to the Humdinger (1967) term, but depending on the information I have, may create separate terms for each Monday night Humdinger of the summer. For example, I know Lesley Gore performed at the Humdinger of July 31, 1967, so when I go through to refine the thesaurus, she may be linked to Humdinger (7/31/1967). These same sorts of relationships hold true for the other entertainment events of the summer.

Linked to the broader summer 1967 term are also the regular atmosphere talent and guest talent not specifically brought in for an event:
PFMR: Bill Elliott's Orchestra
PFMR: Dapper Dans, The
PFMR: Disneyland Band
PFMR: Dobie Gray and his Rock Band
PFMR: Establishment
PFMR: Mustangs
PFMR: Regents
PFMR: Royal Tahitians, The
PFMR: Seven Souls
PFMR: Spats
PFMR: Ward Singers, The
One problem I frequently run into with performing groups is the nomenclature. Rarely is there consistency between sources on terms for the guest talent! But Disneyland's own atmosphere talent is not exempt. What I have referred to above as Bill Elliott's Orchestra seemingly has a new name in each source. I don't know enough yet to say if the terms represent actual different entities, or if Disneyland's marketing people just used whatever popped into their heads. Other terms related to Bill Elliott's Orchestra collected through the years:
Bill Elliott and his Orchestra
Bill Elliott with his Disneyland Date Niters
Date Niters Orchestra
Elliott Bros.
Elliott Bros. & the Dixie Dandies, The
Elliott Brothers
Elliott Brothers and the Dixie Dandies, The
Elliott Brothers Band
Elliott Brothers Band, The
Elliott Brothers Orchestra
Elliott Brothers Orchestra, The
Elliott Brothers, The
Lloyd and Bill Elliott and the Disneyland Dateniters
I'm sure there are more I haven't yet discovered! Through hierarchical inheritance, it might be redundant to say that some of these groups performed in summer 1967. The Mustangs, after all, performed in the Humdinger (1967), so by definition they performed during the summer. But these relationships are on a more general level, meaning they performed at the Park all summer long--and not just at special events. But I have inconsistency here: The article also mentions special guest bands, like Seven Souls. They are linked to summer 1967 not because they performed all summer long, but because I don't have a specific date for their performance. (I don't have a specific date from this source, anyway.) That's something that will need to be cleaned up later.

Live entertainment can take a long time to get through, because I have to consider the season, event, performers, and at what level of specificity I want to store the information. Creating new terms for performing groups--and trying to figure out when two entities are actually the same thing--can certainly take a long time! But, the whole point of this thesaurus "exercise" is to document the details of Disneyland as specifically and accurately as possible, and live entertainment has been tremendously important to Disneyland through the years.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

1970s Imagineers Tour Disneyland

I won't even ask who wants to see some photos of Imagineers touring Fantasyland in 1974, because I know it's all of you! I've attached scans from the December 25, 1974 Disneyland Line, but here's the text so Google can find it.
WED Designers And "Imagineers" Tour The Park

Last Thursday, December 12th, a talented group of WED designers and "Imagineers" toured Fantasyland and Tomorrowland with Ron Dominguez, John Cora, Craig Smith and Jim Coutu. This was one of future monthly visits by the WED personnel. Every four weeks they will tour and inspect different areas in The Park, concentrating on the attractions, food facilities, design and overall appearance of the themed Land. Any changes or improvements, no matter how small, are noted and the appropriate work is scheduled soon after.

This policy of regularly visiting the Park is not only refreshing and encouraging, but reaffirms the fact that the "Show" aspect of Disneyland is just as important as ever. The WED personnel on Thursday's tour included:

MARTY SKLAR - Vice-President of Concepts & Planning
ORLANDO FERRANTE - Vice-President of Administration
X. ATENCIO - Designer & Writer
ERNIE PRINZHORN - Head of Graphics Department
ERIC WESTIN - Director of Interior Design
SCOTT MACKIE - Coordinator
TONY BAXTER - Assistant Designer

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Minor Milestone...

Congratulations, Matterhorn1959! Your comment on Chucko the Clown on Davelandblog's first post is the first blog material to be entered into the thesaurus. The main citation in the source database looks like this:

Davelandblog (6/4/2006 0843)

Since there can be several posts on a specific day, this helps to disambiguate without having to incorporate the title in this short form. In the notes for the individual entries, when a comment is the source of information (such as with Matterhorn's), the citation looks like this:

Davelandblog (6/4/2006 0843; Matterhorn1959 comment)

Fellow bloggers, can you take a few years off so I can catch up? Thanks!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Nomenclature Narrative History of Circle-Vision

Every so often in this thesaurus business, I take a breather and survey all the terms I've assembled about a various topic to see if I've been blurring definitions, need to create new terms, and/or need to do some additional research. This is one such evaluation, of all the terms I've collected so far for Circle-Vision. Hopefully we can get this straight. The following encompasses terms related to physical locations, processes, films, lessees/participants, and the nomenclature of the attraction itself. I believe the whole Circle-Vision ball of wax to be one of the most confusing in Disneyland's history because of the attraction's very complicated story.

What follows is a glimpse into what I go through. The usual caveat applies that I still have a veritable mountain of sources to examine, so this is very much a work-in-progress. Below is a behind-the-scenes look at piecing together a history; in the next few days I'll have a more definite, easier to digest history--made possible by laying all of this out today and hopefully getting some knowledgeable comments!

We'll start at the broadest level--the process. I began this post by talking about "Circle-Vision"--that is, a generic term to group all of this together. Eliding all but the grossest technical details, we could actually speak of two processes: the Circarama process and the Circle-Vision process. (Somewhat confusingly, Disney A-Z says the process was "later renamed Circle-Vision 360 in 1967 and in 1984 World Premiere Circle-Vision," when it actually means the attraction was renamed.) The Circarama process, using eleven 16mm projectors, immersed the Guest by presenting the action in-the-round. It was inspired by, and its name a play off of, the Cinerama process which used three 35mm projectors. Disneyland: The Nickel Tour relates that Walt saw this process at work in the Pantages Theater in Hollywood, and then inquired of his technical staff if they could put the full circle together. For filming, the Circarama cameras were mounted on the roof of an American Motors (more on them shortly) car and were dashboard controlled. To further cement the car connection, the "car" letters within Circarama were red-lettered on the attraction's marquee, as seen on this June 1956 photo from Gorillas Don't Blog:

In the 1960s, Disney improved its process and subsequently needed nine 35mm cameras. It is not clear to me at this point if that change coincided precisely with the change to Circle-Vision 360. From the listing of Circle-Vision films in Disney A-Z, it would seem that it did not. Italia '61 (1961) is listed as the first film requiring nine cameras, while Magic of the Rails (1965) indicates the name was changed to Circle-Vision 360. For the Disneyland films (more on them below), the date change makes no practical difference, and for my own sanity's sake I will be using the Circarama process to refer to producing eleven-screen films, and the Circle-Vision process to refer to producing nine-screen films. The Nickel Tour renders Circle-Vision as CircleVision, something I haven't come across elsewhere.

It's probably easiest to next go to the films. The Opening Day film was A Tour of the West, which showed scenes from around Southern California, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and Monument Valley. It was an eleven-screen film (Circarama process) and ran from July 17, 1955 until ca. 1960. (It probably stopped playing in the early part of 1960.) The next film to be shown at Disneyland was the first of three instances of America the Beautiful. This Circarama process film debuted at the Brussels World's Fair in 1958 and opened at Disneyland in June 1960. This version of the film ran until September, 1966, when the attraction closed to make way for the New Tomorrowland. A nine-screen (Circle-Vision process), re-shot version of America the Beautiful opened June 25,1967. It ran until approximately 1975, when Disney revised the film to include scenes of Philadelphia for the Bicentennial. This revised version of America the Beautiful closed on January 3, 1984. Beginning July 4, 1984, the attraction alternated two Circle-Vision process films: Wonders of China (in the morning) and American Journeys (in the afternoon and evening). July 7, 1996, marked the end of the line for these two films. In preparation for the attraction's permanent closing for the New Tomorrowland of 1998, the 1975 version of America the Beautiful returned, running from July 11, 1996 through September 7, 1997.

The attraction's name has changed several times, and is one of those attractions surrounded by a cloud of nomenclatural uncertainty. It opened in 1955 as Circarama, U.S.A. At least, according to Disney A-Z. Plain ol' Circarama seems a more likely name, however, given its use in some 1955 newspaper articles, the November 1957 Disneylander, and the 1958 souvenir wall map (A), and the attraction marquee (as seen above). If you want to bring the sponsors into this, the 1955-1960 attraction was also called American Motors Circarama Exhibit and American Motors Exhibit in a couple Disneylanders, and the signage could be interpreted as American Motors presents Circarama. 1960 brought a new film, a new sponsor, and a new name for the attraction--but I'm still up in the air over what that name is! The first signage might indicate that it should be America the Beautiful, as can be seen in this December 1960 photo courtesy of Stuff from the Park:

By May 1964, the signage had changed and now seems to indicate the name as Bell System Presents "America the Beautiful" (at the Circarama Theatre), as seen in this photo courtesy of Daveland:

In print, I have also seen Bell System "America the Beautiful," Bell Telephone's "America the Beautiful," Bell Telephone System America the Beautiful, and Bell Telephone System Exhibit.

In 1967, the attraction reopened as part of New Tomorrowland as Circle-Vision 360--perhaps. Disneyland Guide Summer 1972 and Disneyland Guide Fall 1973 provide this name, as does Disney A-Z. Signage indicates that it might be called America the Beautiful Presented by AT&T, as seen in this August 1976 photo from Daveland:

I have also seen America the Beautiful Circle-Vision 360 (Disneyland Guide Spring 1976), Bell System's America the Beautiful (Disneyland Guide Fall/Winter 1970-1971, Disneyland Line (6/19/1980)), Bell Telephone Circle-Vision 360 (Disneyland Guide Summer 1970, Disneyland Guide Fall/Winter 1970-1971), Bell Telephone Exhibit (Disneyland Line (6/26/1974)) The Bell Telephone Exhibit (Disneyland Line (2/17/1977)), and Bell System exhibit (in the October 1967 p.t.m. magazine for Bell employees). These terms refer to the attraction between June 25, 1967 and January 3, 1984.

On July 4, 1984, the attraction re-opened as World Premiere Circle-Vision. This is the name given by Disney A-Z and Disneyland: Your Souvenir Guide for 1984 (4/1984), and shown on the signage, as on this photo courtesy of Bearride at Videblog:

Finally, some certainty! This name persisted through April 1989, with the attraction shown below in another photo from Bearride:

In 2001, I found WORLD PREMIERE CIRCLEVISION on the Cast Member podium in the theater:

Disney A-Z says the attraction at some point changed to simply Circle-Vision. The Disneyland 1993 Souvenir Guidebook (1/1993) uses this designation. This perhaps happened when the attraction got a new marquee. By the time America the Beautiful returned for its final engagement, the attraction's name was assuredly simply Circle-Vision:

The lessees and sponsors of Circle-Vision through the years only add another layer of complexity. We could possibly say that these were American Motors, Bell Telephone, PSA and Delta Air Lines--and leave it at that. Of course, that would be a gross simplification.

We'll start with American Motors. According to Wikipedia, "American Motors Corporation (AMC) was an American automobile company formed on January 14, 1954 by the merger of the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation and the Hudson Motor Car Company." I make note of this merger because the exhibit area within Circarama, below the screens, displayed Kelvinator refrigerators and American Motors automobiles. The attraction's marquee indicates that American Motors "presented" Circarama. In today's Disney parlance, this would mean that American Motors was a participant, paying to have its name in lights. I believe, but have not confirmed, that American Motors was actually a lessee, additionally providing its own personnel to staff the attraction.

This supposition is drawn from two Disneylander snippets that imply the employees mentioned worked for American Motors. The first is from September 1957:
LOU CURRAN and RAY KOMARA, both of our Disneyland Security Force, are now working part-time at the American Motors Circarama Exhibit.
And from December 1957:
Cliff Grundy and Mel Phillips (formerly with the American Motors Exhibit) are now with the Monsanto Chemical Co. in Disneyland, and are working at the Monsanto "House of the Future."
The American Motors association with the attraction lasted as long as A Tour of the West. When the attraction reopened in 1960, now playing the eleven-screen America the Beautiful, it was presented by the Bell System (which I've also seen as The Bell System). This association continued with the New Tomorrowland of 1967, though now signage indicated the attraction's sponsor (still a lessee) was AT&T, with the "host company" being Pacific Telephone. (I'll readily admit to not understanding how the telephone monopoly has manifested itself throughout the years! It's all basically the same entity, however.) Bell System Hostesses from Southern California staffed the attraction exclusively until some male hosts began in March 1973. (In 1973 the "Bell Girls" also won the canoe races!) I assume that the Bell sponsorship and staffing continued until the run of America the Beautiful ended January 3, 1984.

When the attraction re-opened as World Premiere Circle-Vision, playing Wonders of China and American Journeys, PSA [Pacific Southwest Airlines] was the sponsor. Although PSA had its last flight in 1988, its sponsorship apparently continued until 1989, at which point Delta Air Lines stepped in. I do not know when Delta ended its sponsorship; it was still the sponsor in March 1995. The attraction had no sponsor when it closed.

We're down to the last piece of the puzzle: the physical make-up of the attraction through the years. From 1955 to 1966, the attraction was crammed into the westernmost part of Tomorrowland's north exhibit pavilion. There seems to have been some sort of a pre-show area, as the Summer 1960 Vacationland says:
Entering visitors are given a demonstration of cross-country Direct Distance Dialing by Bell System representatives, then invited to view the wide-ranging story of communications, told through a dimensional, curving mural that carries out the theme "...from sea to shining sea."
It goes on to say that America the Beautiful is shown in the "adjacent" Circarama Theater. In 1964, the attraction also featured a demonstration of Bell's Picturephone, linked to the company's pavilion at the New York World's Fair. At any rate, the 1955-1966 incarnation of the attraction was small compared to its later version.

From 1967 to 1997, the attraction had three-parts: a pre-show, the Circle-Vision Theater, and a post-show (although much of the post show disappeared sometime in the 1980s). Aside from showing different films, I do not believe the central Circle-Vision Theater (replacing what had originally been Space Station X-1 and then The Art of Animation) experienced much change over the years. The pre- and post-show areas, did, however. I am not an expert on those, but I know they're fondly remembered by some of you out there, so chime in (if you're still reading!).

Let's first address the pre-show area. The 1967 pre-show featured the Bell Hostesses telling the story of the Bell System. It's not clear if this was still the case in 1974, as this June 26, 1974 Disneyland Line article is awfully vague about what's going on in there!:
The pre-show area at the Bell Exhibit has proven extremely popular with our guests as it gives them a chance to participate while waiting for the next show. Asked about how the banners were created for the pre-show area, Mary [Hanson, Exhibit Manager] explained, "Our company engaged a couple in the New York area to do the abstract banners. The intent was to get something that would welcome guests to the area and would give them something entertaining while waiting the 18 minutes for the next show."
When PSA took over in 1984, the pre-show was changed to a show called All Because Man Wanted to Fly, which Disney A-Z describes as "a lighthearted look at early human efforts to fly." Was this a film shown in the pre-show area? It lasted as long as PSA's sponsorship, until 1989. At that time Delta Air Lines became the sponsor, and the Circle-Vision SOP describes Delta's "Magic Wall":
The Preshow area of the attraction offers guests an opportunity to learn more about Delta with a 4½-minute film hosted by “Dusty,” the Delta Air Lion, Delta’s “Magic Wall,” and a 28-foot route map depicting the many Delta destinations. The film not only introduces “Dusty,” but explains what a Circle-Vision theatre is and how 360° filming is done. At the conclusion of the film, Dusty presents Delta’s “Magic Wall.” This wall graphically displays Delta destinations with the aid of over 30 animated cut-outs on the walls surrounding the Preshow area.
When Delta ended its sponsorship (1995 or 1996), I believe this pre-show was just covered up. In its final year state flags hung upon the walls, and that was the gateway for Cast Members to engage the audience. And, we can't leave the pre-show without emphasizing the magnificence of its air conditioning and cushioned seats!

In 1967, the post-show offered Guests the opportunity to use some "advanced communications equipment." The October 1967 p.m.t. article referenced earlier lists the following devices:
  • "voice mirrors" to see and hear your voice
  • Picturephone, linked to EXPO '67, the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, or "booth-to-booth"
  • "Weather Station" to phone for the weather in eight major cities
  • "Family Booths" to utilize speakerphone functionality
  • "Kiddie Phones" (also known as Character Phones), to talk with Disney characters who relay phone etiquette tips
I don't have information immediately available about how the post-show changed, but I do rememeber the "Family Booths" being there much later. Were those available until the very end? I know that voting for the Epcot Center Poll Person of the Century also occurred at the Circle-Vision exit.

The post-show area shrank considerably after Bell's sponsorship ended. That happened in early 1984, while The Premiere Shop opened December 18, 1985. The timing is too coincidental for me to believe that the store wasn't designed to fill that space, but I don't know if it was vacant or had something else temporarily there. At least some elements of the post-show remained, such as the "Family Booths."

And with that, we wave goodbye to Circle-Vision... at least for a day or two! Thanks again to the following blogs for allowing use of their images: Gorillas Don't Blog, Stuff from the Park, Davelandblog, and Videblog.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Carousel Theater Railing

For those interested in the details, a close-up of the 41-year-old railing from a Carousel Theater emergency exit staircase seen in my September 21 trip report:

Get Out Your Wallet

From the June 11, 1971 Disneyland Line. I know one of the Tomorrowland benches is already spoken for!

Monday, October 6, 2008

What Guests Want in the Guest Relations Lobby, February 2, 2002

On February 2, 2002, I kept a tally of why Guests were coming into the Guest Relations Lobby at Disney's California Adventure, much like I had tallied Lost & Found Guests on April 8, 2001. They are listed below in the order that I recorded the Guest need.
  • Birthday: 19
  • Special Assistance Passes: 38
  • Dining Reservations: 3
  • General Information: 11
  • Foreign Language Guidemaps: 10
  • English Guidemaps: 5
  • Blast! Tickets: 8
  • Disney's Electrical Parade Reservations: 2
  • Purchase Tickets: 6
  • Concerns: 5
  • Entered Wrong Park: 5
  • Assistance with Lockers: 4