Saturday, October 1, 2011

Walt Disney World 40 Years Later

And 45 years after Walt's death. I present to you a list of things in the park today Walt would be proud of, baffled by, and angry at, in no particular order. Or to be more accurate in the order I thought them up.

5. Monorails! They go almost everywhere- er a few places!

Monorails and trains were Walt Disney's personal obsession, from the mini train he built in his backyard, the Carolwood Pacific to the 5/8th scale steam engine that circled Disneyland. I think the fact that Walt Disney World's highway in the sky is less a highway and more a few residential streets would confuse Walt as he originally laid out all of the hotels (including Asian and Persian Hotels that never made it past blue sky,) along the monorail path. The fact that only 3 hotels and two of the four parks are connected to the monorail would be baffling to the train loving zombie (I am assuming he is coming back as a zombie, that was just inherent in the premise right?)
[Map of monorail route taken from]

4. New Technology:

Walt would likely be amazed by, and proud of, many of the new technologies employed by Disney attractions. Between compliance allowing for more realistic movements, new silicons being used for "skins," and better computers for the Audio Animatronics' puppeteer to program it's movement, AAs are far more advanced than they were when Walt died. Other technologies that would likely make Walt, who was notoriously stingy with praise, ask what took so long; FastPasses have made it so that parkgoers no longer have to spend the majority of their time waiting in line, thus missing lots of attractions and shows, new projection systems have plussed the fireworks shows perhaps more dramatically than they have been plussed before (even Wishes was really just music and fireworks, like the first fireworks shows in Disneyland,) new theming and attractions have made the parks more immersive than ever before.

3. EPCOT is neither a community nor very experimental, discuss:

In fact, it is a just a combination of two tried and true concepts, every bit as trite as the cliche that describes them: Future World is Tomorrowland 2.0 and the World Showcase is a year round World's Fair (with the added benefit of showcasing fewer countries and less innovative products! Oh wait...) As much as I love Epcot I think that Walt would have a tearfilled aneurysm seeing his truly original concept for an ultra modern neighborhood turned into a rerun of the old classics in entertainment. He would likely also be confused by the decision to combine the two separate projects by, as even the imagineers working on it describe it, shoving two models together. Yes the World's Fair was where many new products and technologies were first shown to the public but really what does Future World have to do with truly new technology, particularly now that Innoventions is no longer about new arcade games, cars, and robots, something I mourn as robots always beat games that teach children about recycling. That is just a fact.

2. Animal Kingdom, a dream world Jungle Cruise finally actualized:

When Walt was first developing the Jungle Cruise he envisioned an attraction filled with real giraffes, hippos, and yes real god damn crocodiles and lions. He went on designing the attraction including the idea of a live cast of animals for a nearly a year before someone at WEDway said hmm, animals don't do what they are told on the set of movies, and those are usually well trained domesticated dogs, not rhinoceroses, this might not work out well. Actually it was Harper Goff and a zoologist who convinced him of this and it is a good thing that they did as with the plans, space, and technology of the time it would never have worked; animals would never be in the spot they were meant to be in order to be seen and the hippos would have inevitably turned on the Skippers and their constant fake gun fire ("you brought a fake gun to a giant nearly amphibious mammal fight, Sucker.")Now I can't help but picture hippos yelling "Skiiipppers come out and play-ay," like the scene from the Warriors. Anyway, Animal Kingdom developed an attraction successfully starring live animals. Sure it was forty-three years too late, but it is a beautiful park and that attraction would make Walt proud. While portions of the Animal Kingdom might confuse him, with the park's emphasis on thrill rides that were not seen at Disneyland until after his death, I think he would overlook that or accept it when he saw the whole package.

Image from Imagineer Disney's Why the Decline In Park Maintenance post
1. Maintenance, or lack there of:

The famous anecdote tells of Walt Disney stopping to pick up trash on the ground and place it in a trashcan on his walks through Disneyland. More than an anecdote this was often observed by cast members and guest alike, and in later years Eisner and other heads of the company affected this compulsion. Given his near daily attempts to make Disneyland even just a little bit more spotless I believe Walt would be saddened by the state many attractions reach before getting their yearly refurbishment. Touch ups to paint jobs in the middle of the night, divers cleaning the Rivers of America, and other daily maintenance once touted on travel programs and in books like my large beige Walt Disney World book have been abandoned it seems. Imagineering Disney contributer Lilly pointed out in her post Why the Decline in Park Maintenance?* what many stateside Disney fans have been noticing and lamenting for some time, as surely zombie Walt would when not foraging for brains. I tend to travel to the parks just before the holiday season, during the time right before the peak when everything is shined up for the massive crowds, and even then I have seen terrible maintenance issues, particularly on Fantasyland favourites like Peter Pan's Flight.

Read More on:
Walt & Monorails
Abandoned attractions that sadden me,& also zombie Walt
A biased but interesting look at why zombie Walt might be sad
The Jungle Cruise History

I have linked this before but: Walt Disney's EPCOT plan

* Warning: This post will severely depress

Monday, September 13, 2010

Disney Travel Channel Shows: Undiscovered Walt Disney Worlld

Well, for Disney dorks who would seek out these shows about Walt Disney World, I am guessing none of the information presented is "undiscovered," but oh well. Also, there are some views of the hideous millennium wand, the Living Seas, unmolested by cute cartoon fish, and Pleasure Island.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Walt Disney World of the mid-90s

[ Or Cheesy Hip Hop and Why (Oh Lord WHY!) it Was Required]

I stumbled upon this tonight and I decided after a dozen half written and unposted entries I needed to finally use this thing again.

Ah the 90s, a more innocent time when Alien's terrorized, crystals stood, glimmering before Spaceship Earth in all their glory, and apparently children were drawn to theme parks because Joan Collins was paying a visit...

... Yes, it was a time of conflicting hideousness and wonderful and a time that resulted in a often criticized but I believe necessary makeover of Tomorrowland ( Tomorrowland 95! It sounds so hip and so fresh,) one of my favourite now defunct attractions, ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which fleshed out MGM so well ( yes, I do still remember when it was the Great Movie ride, Backlot Tour, MuppetVision 3D, and Star Tours, and then well, hmm, I guess we could head over to the Animation Courtyard since it is only 10am.) I just realized that I sadly still think of Tower of Terror as a new attraction; this makes me feel horrifically old.

The atrocities that were committed during this time were created the way most atrocities are, in the name of being hip, and fresh, and drawing people for that one year because, look, LOOK! our castle looks like a cake, isn't that slamming? Examples of such horrors are as follows: the Mickey Mania Parade [if you don't recall it, you are lucky, think skateboarders in primary coloured Zubaz pants and rap/house music about Mickey being rad (or some other term overused by my favourite heroes on the half-shell,)] videos like the one above that contained some rappers making "squeaky clean" Mickey Mouse related remixes for park commercials, and of course, the closing of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ( without this ride's watery ambiance Fantasyland has become too blacktop-esque, and I still wish they had plussed it rather than pulled it out altogether.)

I know mourning 20,000 Leagues is silly; it was a low draw attraction, and it has been preserved in Disneyland, sort of, and said ambiance will likely return with the water features that are planned in the current design of the Fantasyland Expansion, but mourn it I do, despite this.

Anyway, that wraps up this voyage into the dangerous wilds of the mid-1990s, tune in next week (same mouse time, same mouse place) when we will journey into the seedy underbelly of Toontown and learn just what keeps our 2D friends so jolly.

It's a dirty job, that no one really needs to do, unless said person is me, avoiding my first paper of the term.

Edit: For those who would like to inflict the awful that was the Mickey Mania Parade on themselves you can find a very good video of it here:

Don't click that link, no one is that masochistic.

No, I mean it, really don't.
[You did it, didn't you. What was that? And why, why were there weird creepy clown faced blow up Mickeys waddling about in the middle?] Imagine, I saw that in person, and I was only a child man, ONLY A CHILD! Well, I wasn't after that, a parade like that, it changes you!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Disney Past, Present, and Future

University has kept me very busy but here I am again, already in Christmas break mode though I still have my final exams between me and carolers out in the snow or my January WDW trip.

I am excited for said trip, particularly to show my boyfriend the wonders of the World and to see the refurbishment of Space Mountain in person. I have also spent some time, while avoiding fleshing out my notes, looking through old Disney photos from many people online, in particular over at Gorillas Don't Blog. I find these retro photos engrossing even when they are focused on the random family, so I thought I would share a few of my own retro family pictures.

My First Trip to Walt Disney World, 1986-1987
My First Trip to Disney World
Yes that is a Horizon vehicle we are riding in, we here being (from left to right) my sister, my mother, my paternal grandmother, my grandfather, and myself, being tiny and in his lap. My father was either squished into the same vehicle or in one right after us, it is hard to tell, but he is the photographer of this.

In front of the Magic Kingdom 1989-1990

Mom, Linz, and I
This is an awesome photograph for many reasons, one being that my mom has clearly not very enthused and has the a wonderful expression making this very obvious; the second fabulous part about this, my poor adolescent, awkward sister squinting into the sun in her terrible red plastic Sally Jessie Raphael glasses. Another great part about this is my clear excitement, in contrast to my sister and mom's posture, I am doing a dance, a very excited dance. I clearly aware and am excited about being in Walt Disney World, as opposed to the previous photo where I am looking off away from the action at something else that has caught my eye.

Outside of the Grand Floridian 1989-1990
Linz and I outside of the Grand Floridian
Awesome outfits, both my sister and I and the people in the background.

Mickey's Starland or Birthdayland, Daisy's Cafe
Lindsey and I in front of Daisy(?)'s House
This was the original Toontown type land, it was very small, as if scaled for the real animated characters and yet the suit characters in the area were still adult human sized, very confusing, anyway.

Let's leave those terrible haircuts and really bad jeans behind and push straight onto the now.

The now in this case being the newly refurbished, recently reopened Space Mountain.

Most of the work was done on the queue not the ride itself, you can now play games with an ORAC like robot in the queue which I have heard sadly effects the Star Tunnel (entrance tunnel)'s ambiance. The Star Tunnel is pretty much my favourite part of the ride so this is rather upsetting but I won't be able to report firsthand until January.

The Princess and the Frog: OPENING 12.11.09
princess and the frog

Yes the Princess and the Frog, the animated film that is being touted as a return to the classic Disney animation beloved by many, the classical animation style that created Snow White, Cinderella, and the Little Mermaid. I am far too excited about this but I am so glad Lasseter explained that just because the Pixar style works for Pixar stories and has been successful doesn't mean Disney should abandon their own style, a style loved for generations.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

D23 Park announcements| Tomorrow IS just a dream away!

Well, it has been a bit since I have posted and lots of things have happened. D23 announced several amazing additions and changes to the parks, World and Hong Kong in particular.

First, the rumour floating around that Fantasyland will double in size, and there will be two Dumbo rides side by side and we will finally get The Little Mermaid ride that was mocked up years ago? TRUE! This will however mean the end of Toontown in Disney World, but it was never as good as Disneyland's so it is no lose too me.Hong Kong will also be expanding and two new lands are being developed, and so many other things that I can't detail them all here, so watch these videos!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Old Disney Park Travel Videos

1954: The Disneyland Story

1971: Project Florida

1981: A Dream Called Disney World

1981: Disney Decade

A look into the history of Walt Disney World.

1984: WDW Brochure Video

1994:A Souvenir Epcot Video

The Disney Story

The story of the man himself, as told by his "best friend," Mickey.

Disney Parks in TV: II

Disney Holiday Magic with Samantha Brown

Disney at Christmas, my favourite time to be there.

WDW: Past, Present, and Future

Disneyland Behind the Scenes

The Making of the Tower of Terror

Walt Disney World Unwrapped

Disney Tokyo!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Walt Disney World Explored in Television

I am addicted to these shows, Travel Channel, Modern Marvels, anything about Disney parks. It is a shameful not-so-secret guilty pleasure of mine, in fact Disney is a keyword permanently in satellite's recent search field. I will watch these shows too often, usually just in the background while I mess around online or talk on the phone. In fact, sadly, I have seen most of these so many times that I can pick up on the slight changes that occur, like when they update the show to talk about newly opened rides.

Discovery Channel's Everest: The Experience

I love Disney, the incredible effort they put into things is why they are Disney. They talk about mostly unnoticed details, but they are right, they are taken in as a whole and that is why their themeing is the best.

Disney's Imagineers

I want so much to play in the Imagineer's simulators and mock up rooms!
This special is a bit older so it also has a look into ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, one of my favourite now defunct rides.

A look inside Disney Thrill Rides (which, for some reason, includes Toy Story Mania)

Modern Marvels: Walt Disney World

Now if that isn't an indepth look at Walt Disney World I don't know what is, oh wait I do, and that is why I have about twenty more videos to fill this page with...

The Making of Walt Disney World

Yes, there is inexplicably no part three

Behind the Scenes: Walt Disney World

I realise now that there are far too many Disney Park television specials for me to post at one time, next time? Disney and the Travel Channel,synergy at it's best??

Monday, July 20, 2009

Disney World Musical Theming III: A look at Epcot

Subtitled: "How I learned to stop worrying and love Epcot"

Full Soarin' Epcot Soundtrack

The Original Journey into Imagination Ride Music

Horizons Music 1

Horizons Music 2

Tomorrow's Child

Epcot is a jumbled mess, but I love it. The Imagineers involved with it's beginnings literally explained that they had two projects mocked up: a Future World, based, sort of, on Walt Disney's concept of an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, and a park based on showcasing international cultures. They literally shoved the two models together and decided, yes, yes that looks about right. What they had made was a year round World's Fair, which they would consistently deny was just a year round World's Fair (sound familiar? AK's promotions which insist it is more than just a zoo with rides.)

Originally Epcot was just for learning and drinking it seemed. Before boarding your omnimover in the Living Seas you watching an education video about water, and how water has effected the Earth and our evolution. Now the Living Seas has been transformed into a paraphrasing of the movie, Finding Nemo. The movie was great, and the ride is entertaining, but you come out and look at the famous space aged sphere that houses Spaceship Earth and you remember, isn't this meant to be future world? What do lost cute, cartoon fish have to do with that exactly??

There was the, now defunct, Wonders of Life Pavilion, which contained Body Wars and Cranium Command, took a lighthearted look at everything from teenage hormones to DNA. Yes, the information was more candy-coated than at the Living Seas, or The Land Pavilion, but it definitely taught some children a few general facts about human biology.

The Original Journey into Imagination, and it's pavilion,was a Montesorri-esqu experiment with creativity and children. Jump over here, you make music, run through that tunnel, the lights change. It was all about interacting and creating. The new, maimed, "Open house at the Imagination Institute" lacks a lot of it's original pavilion and seems just to chant about experiments and senses with no experience for the children afterward.

Mission Space is one of the few new attractions that I feel actually fit the theme, though it does make Future World look a bit more like Space-World. That is not to say that I don't miss Horizons, I really do, but I think that Mission Space is the logical next step. It will be so easily plussed because it is a simulation, and thus could be reprogrammed completely.

As for Soarin', a ride I also truly love, the Land Pavilion was just where it sort of fit best, and since it was such a success in Disney's California Adventure, they found the slot and stuck it in. I have hopes that the Imagineers will film new footage that fits in with the the theme more, though I doubt this will happen anytime soon since it is relatively new and very successful. I can dream though, of a Timekeeper like video you could "soar" through, but it will likely just be a dream for some time.

How does the confused theming and purpose of Epcot reflect in it's music? Listen and then you tell me.

Original Plan for EPCOT

(yes I am such a dork that I made these videos semi-Epcot colours.....)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Disney World Ride Through and Miscellaneous

Ellen's Energy Adventure, Epcot:
Ride/Watch Through

AKA The Nap Ride; Also Sam, the "radio" portion starts at about 7 minutes into the second video.

Monorail Ride Through

An Odd Collection of Disney Music/Announcements