Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Discovery Bay Teaser

For obvious reasons, Disneyland likes to promote its new and coming attractions. (When you have ideas like Walt's, wouldn't you want to proclaim them widely?) This tradition dates to the Park's origins, with the weekly ABC television show introducing viewers to the idea of Disneyland, and then to its additions over the years. But the Resort has had a number of on-site preview centers over the years, too, including at The Disney Gallery and the more recent Blue Sky Cellar for the Disney's California Adventure remodel. From 1973 to 1989, Disneyland Presents a Preview of Coming Attractions stood at the corner of the 600 block of Main Street, U.S.A., facing Town Square and seen here as it appeared in 1982:

This preview center's interior featured a mix of historic Park photographs...

Conceptual artwork...

And models...

On display above in the preview center are two new lands considered for Disneyland expansion in the 1970s and 1980s: Discovery Bay and Dumbo's Circus. Discovery Bay may be the most well-known and beloved unbuilt land, the brainchild of Tony Baxter and Tom Scherman. Dumbo's Circus would have been built up in the area now occupied by the Fantasyland Theatre (as indicated by the yellow map marker in the above photo).

On August 13 and 14, 1976, Tony, Tom, and fellow Imagineer Rolly Crump, presented ideas for these two new lands to Disneyland Cast Members. As described in the August 26 Disneyland Line:
An exciting proposal for the future of Disneyland was presented in the Center on August 13 and 14. Tentative plans were highlighted for a Park expansion program that could possibly take place over the next six years.

WED Designers Tony Baxter, Tom Scherman, and Roland Crump gave Disneyland employees a preview of the proposed design of two major theme areas now identified under the working titles "Discovery Bay," and "Dumbo's Circus."

Situated in the northern portion of Frontierland, "Discovery Bay" is designed to reflect the cultural and eccentric era of San Francisco in the mid-1800's. Featuring Captain Nemo's Salon and an "Island at the Top of the World" attraction, the area would symbolize the opening of mans' knowledge to the Industrial Age.

Moving from "Discovery Bay" to "Dumbo's Circus" would be accomplished by a sky-balloon attraction that would serve as an appropriate transition between the two areas. Among the proposed attractions in "Dumbo's Circus" are "Mickey's Mad House," a ride-through using vintage Studio cartoon footage from the 1930's and 40's; an Audio-Animatronic circus show with Disney Characters taking over traditional "Big Top" roles; and a Pinocchio-themed attraction.
Thankfully, the Line also included a couple of photographs from the Cast previews:

Tony Baxter describing the projects

Tom Scherman is at the far end of the model

Which leads me to the point of this post: Following one of Tony's presentations to Cast Members about this possible expansion, a novel preview came to the Fan I Food Stand, seen below in a June 1960 photo courtesy of Daveland.

This food facility was razed for Big Thunder Trail in 1979. But before this, for only a few months, lingering Guests could hear an eighteen-minute-long teaser medley of music from Maurice Jarre's score to the 1974 film "Island at the Top of the World" (with which Discovery Bay had strong ties and which premiered 35 years ago this month). The film's score has never been released commercially; a record album features Thurl Ravenscroft narration and audio from the film. The "Island at the Top of the World" Laserdisc has an isolated score on a secondary audio track (but only in mono). Maybe the association with Discovery Bay and the imagery of the Hyperion airship, but I quite enjoy the film's music and it's a treat to hear this short-lived promotional piece.

Thanks to my friend Huck Caton, I'm pleased to present this audio for download (for a limited time):

Fan I Food Stand, Island at the Top of the World Medley.mp3
(approximately 25MB)

Area music at Disneyland used to originate from endless loop cartridge tapes, which degraded over time from physical wear. When carts were replaced, they were discarded--or, apparently, if you were interested and asked for them, you could easily acquire the worn carts from the Sound Department. The above audio is sourced from such a used cart and is a definite rarity.

The only analog from Disneyland's history that I know about is the infamous Tomorrowland 2055 "Bathroom Loop," produced by Bruce Gordon as a new recording of themes from Tomorrowland's "greatest hits." The land never came to fruition, but the loop plays (played?) on the Space Mountain Concourse and in the bathrooms down below.

I know it's a longshot, but does anybody remember this music playing in Fantasyland long ago? Or perhaps attended one of these Cast previews in the 1970s?