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?


TokyoMagic! said...

Thank you for sharing that audio clip! I don't remember hearing it at the park, but I do remember seeing the model when it was on Main St. I have a couple close-up shots of it from 1980...those are on my list of "Things to post." Those photos of past DL attractions were added for the 25th anniversary and then remained there for years after. Before that there was preview artwork on display for Space Mountain, the New Matterhorn and Big Thunder.

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

WoW - Awesome post! The whole Discovery Bay/Dumbo's Circus concepts fascinate me - seems like Discovery Bay is still a valid idea for the grossly under-utilized Thunder Ranch section of the park.

Here's a super page scan from the 1976 Disney Annual report, looks like Tony is wearing the same shirt as in your photo (link).


Major Pepperidge said...

I always loved that air ship from "Island at the Top of the World", but I'm not sure the movie warranted its own attraction. Haven't seen it for years, but I'll bet it's pretty creaky. Captain Nemo's Salon, no wonder his hair always looked so shiny and manageable!

C33 said...

Currently the Tomorrowland 2055 music only plays in the Space Mountain exit bathrooms- the regular Tomorrowland music loop heard throughout the land can be heard from the outdoor concourse queue.

I have yet to make a list of exactly which tracks are playing or in what order, but I always recognize several tracks from the original Epcot entrance music loop. These tracks were released as well on the Disneyland Forever system (though not all of the 2055 loop tracks were released). It's quite interesting to be in a bathroom in Tomorrowland and be hearing Listen to the Land.


ason: That preview center on Main St had a big impact on me as a child. One that greatly influenced me in becoming a model maker. I used to spend a great deal of time studying that Discovery Bay and Dumbo Circus model. That Big 7 year master plan you mentioned also included a Liberty Square! (not a Liberty Street) but a Liberty Square at Disneyland! I think once the Bicentennial was over a god deal of steam for that project dies down. I also remember the exhibit prior to the one you show on you post--it featured Big Thunder and Matterhorn enhancements and "Pinocchio’s Village" at the base of the Skyway station. Big Thunder was the anchor display as all the description placards for Matterhorn and others were done on wood with Frontierland style trim and white lettering. I know history lists that exhibit opening in 1973, but the space was used prior to that to showcase the newly opened Walt Disney World and its expansion plans. I remember wandering in there from the Hills brothers’ Coffee shop while we waited for the main St Electrical parade. This was the summer the Parade premiered -1972 and my sister was not born yet -she was born Jan 1st 1973 --so the space was already being used as a preview center of sorts, and seeing the Thunder Mesa and Space mountain model (a clear cone with a red and blue wire representing the track layout) I loved the Thunder Mesa model and began making some clay copies of what I remembered seeing --I was 5 years old then. Later Tony Baxter explained that the exhibit was done to show Disneyland guests what was happening and going to happen in Florida and that HE built that small Thunder Mesa model for the Disneyland exhibit on WDW!!! Great Stuff Jason--see you in a few weeks!

outsidetheberm said...

I'm on the same page with Mike C. Clearly remember the Thunder Mesa model prior to 1973 and took a number of photos, as well. In addition, even before that, the area served for a short while as a preview center for CalArts sometime prior to its opening in November of 1971. Diagrams, models and such. I *think* there are pictures of that, too...

Wonderful post, Jason.


....also those little illuminated panels that show Disneyland's past attractions and later showed Space Mountain concepts, originate to the Wurlizter Store --it was used to showcase the various pianos and organs available from Wurlizer. OUTSIDETHEBERM: I'd love to see the Thunder Mesa model pictures!!

Chris Jepsen said...

How nice to see Huck Caton's name pop up again! I used to check his "Huck's Place" website regularly for updates and still miss it.

I remember the Preview Center too, but from later years. I couldn't tell you exactly what was on display, except that it was pretty exciting to me as a child. It heightened the feeling that you were in the middle of an ongoing project, and that ANYTHING could happen at Disneyland,... if you were patient.

Thanks for a great post.

TokyoMagic! said...

Thanks Mike C. for mentioning the Liberty Square and Pinocchio Village stuff in your comment. I was going to mention that in my first comment, but then started to question my own memory of it. I definitely remembered seeing info on the Hall of Presidents coming to Disneyland. Question: was there ever something in the Preview Center about a China Town or China Street coming to DL? I seem to remember something about that too.

TokyoMagic! said...

Oh, and in the early 1980's information about Tokyo Disneyland was displayed on the walls of the Preview Center including a large map of the new park.


I know there was a plaque above the Discovery Bay/ Dumbo Circus model that mentioned a China Town encampment in Discovery Bay (Where the Fireworks Factory was to be located) but I don't know if there was ever anything on display regarding the Main Street/China Town extension. --For a short period the windows from the INA Carefree Corner featured a display on EDISION SQUARE -long before my time however! And of course there was the International Street Displays and Liberty Street displays facing Town Square where the outdoor dining patio is for Town Square Cafe. Yes, the Discovery Bay/Dumbo Circus model and map were removed and replaced with a TDL map and the display case then features some preopening postcards, buttons and brochures on early Tokyo Disneyland --the video wall opposite the TDL/Discovery Bay display case once featured a preview of Space Mountain --then later a priew of upcoming Disney films then finaly a Disney Channel display. The opposite displays featured New Fanstasyland exhibits. I think the last display before they removed the origibal walls and cases was for Capt'n EO---then after the big remodel a exhibit with the Splash Mountain model went in.

The new Lincoln/ Gallery "history" room feels very similar to the old Disneyland Showcase.

Jason Schultz said...

Thanks for all the additional information on this corner preview center! I have some more interior photos from the same day that I hope to post in the next few days. The corner location could have been used as a preview center from sometime after the closing of Wurlitzer (in September 1968) until 1989, but I don't have guidebooks handy to see what it might have been called. (The "Disneyland Presents a Preview of Coming Attractions" name and dates are from Disney A-Z.)

C33, I posted a list a Tomorrowland 2055 loop list in July ("Thesaurusing Area Music Loops).

Chris Merritt said...

Wow - stellar post Jason!

Cory Gross said...


I always loved that air ship from "Island at the Top of the World", but I'm not sure the movie warranted its own attraction. Haven't seen it for years, but I'll bet it's pretty creaky.

It's not as good as it could be, or was going to be. When you see the concept art, it looked like it was originally going to be much more epic. The Hyperion itself was supposed to be bigger and more impressive, befitting the hopes that it would be Disney's next Nautilus.

The film that was made had been scaled back dramatically. Speaking of drama, the acting could have been better. It's still a nice little potboiler of an adventure, but its definitely a penny dreadful compared to Jules Verne's literary classic.

Chris Jepsen said...

Your post inspired me to watch the movie. It's currently available on YouTube in 10 parts. The image quality is quite tolerable.

A much better version of this movie could be filmed today.