« March 2010 | Main | May 2010 »

April 2010 Archives

April 2, 2010

Which Picture Doesn’t Belong #1 - The Quiz

I've got another quiz for you. In each picture are four smaller pictures. Three of them belong to a grouping, but one doesn't for some reason. It's your job to figure out which picture is out of place and why.

In my explanations, I will refer to the pictures as follows.


1%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg


It is possible that you'll come up with an answer different than mine, but equally valid.

For the most part, the pictures are of Walt Disney World. However, when I've included pictures from other parks, I felt that a person familiar enough with Florida could still figure out the misplaced picture.

DO NOT send me your answers. No winners will be announced and there are no prizes to win. This is strictly for your amusement. Tomorrow I'll post my answers. So grab a piece of paper and letter it A through Z.

Good luck.


A%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



B%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



C%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



D%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



E%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



F%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



G%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



H%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



I%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



J%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



K%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



L%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



M%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



N%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



O%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



P%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



Q%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



R%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



S%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



T%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



U%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



V%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



W%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



X%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



Y%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



Z%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg




April 3, 2010

Which Picture Doesn’t Belong #1 -- The Answers

Here are the answers to yesterday's quiz. Remember, you might have come up with an equally good answer - something I didn't think about.

Once again, DO NOT send me your answers. No winners will be announced and there are no prizes to win. This is strictly for your amusement.


A: Picture 3 is an AudioAnimatronics animal on the Jungle Cruise. The others are of real animals on Kilimanjaro Safaris.


A%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



B: Pictures 2, 3, and 4 were all opening day countries in Epcot (October 1, 1982). Norway (Picture 1) didn't open until June 1988.


B%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



C: Although all of these rides are extremely similar to one another, the attractions in Florida, Tokyo, and California are all named Haunted Mansion. Picture 4 is of Phantom Manor in Paris, a different name.


C%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



D: Picture 1 is of the All Star Sports Resort, a budget accommodation. The other pictures are of the Yacht, Polynesian, and Contemporary, all deluxe resorts.


D%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



E: Horizons in Picture 1 no longer exists. Tower of Terror, Dinosaur, and Carousel of Progress are all still going strong.


E%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



F: Although all four rides depicted spin, Pictures 1, 2, and 3 fly while the Teacups in Picture 4 stays on the ground. However, Picture 3, Triceratop Spin is in the Animal Kingdom while the other three are all in the Magic Kingdom. So both 3 and 4 are correct. (But I was going for 4).


F%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



G: Although all of the pictures are of cars, Picture 2 of a Main Street Vehicle is the only one that doesn't run on a track.


G%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



H: All of the pictures were taken at Downtown Disney, but Picture 4 was the only one taken at the Westside. The other three were taken at the Marketplace.


H%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



I: Only Picture 2, the General Joe Potter is a real boat.


I%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



J: Although all of the pictures depict attractions that no longer exist, only Picture 4, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was located in Fantasyland, the other three were in Tomorrowland.


J%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



K: Picture 3 of the Main Street Train Station is the only picture that can still be duplicated today. Mickey's Sorcerer's Hat obscures the Chinese Theater in Picture 1. Bay Lake Tower now stands next to the Contemporary, making Picture 3 impossible. And Mickey's Hand was removed from Picture 4.


K%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



L: Picture 3 is at Disneyland. Pictures 1, 2, and 4 are at the Magic Kingdom at Disney World.


L%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



M: The castle in Picture 3 is named Cinderella Castle. The castles in Pictures 1, 2, and 4 are all Sleeping Beauty Castle.


M%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



N: Attraction poster Number 1 is from Disneyland, California. All the others are from the Magic Kingdom in Florida.


N%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



O: Picture 2 of Goofy's House is at Disneyland, California. All the others are from the Magic Kingdom in Florida.


O%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



P: That's Typhoon Lagoon in Picture 1 while the rest were all taken at Blizzard Beach.


P%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



Q: Picture 3 is the odd picture. All the other attractions have Cast Members narrating your adventure.


Q%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



R: Picture 2 of the Liberty Tree in the Magic Kingdom is the only real tree.


R%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



S: Picture 4 is of the Hong Kong Jungle Cruise and this scene only exists at this park. The others are all at the Magic Kingdom in Florida.


S%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



T: Picture 3 is at Disney's California Adventure while the other three are all at Disney's Hollywood Studios.


T%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



U: Picture 3 was taken in the Horizons attraction. Pictures 1, 2, and 4 were taken in the World of Motion attraction.


U%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



V: The gorilla in Picture 1 was taken on the Pangani Jungle Exploration Trail. The Komodo dragon, taper, and tiger were taken on the Maharaja Jungle Trek. I realize that the Komodo dragon is a reptile and the other three are mammals, but I thought that was too easy.


V%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



W: Picture 2 is of African Outpost at Epcot's World Showcase. The other three were taken at Harambe in the Africa section of the Animal Kingdom.


W%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



X: Picture 1 is of the Seattle monorail. Picture 2 is the Tokyo Disney Resort monorail. Picture 3 is the Disneyland Resort monorail. And Picture 4 is of the Walt Disney World monorail.


X%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



Y: Picture 4 was taken at the All Star Sports Resort. The other three were taken at the Pop Century Resort.


Y%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



Z: Picture 2 no longer exists in Dinoland USA at the Animal Kingdom. This dinosaur was removed to make room for Aladar.


Z%20Doesn%27t%20Belong.jpg



April 8, 2010

Epcot's Horizons - Part One

Horizons

I miss Horizons. This was a wonderful attraction that allowed me to be immersed in science fiction and science fact with a touch of Disney magic. It was grand in scope and possibilities. I'm sure when the Imagineers were designing Horizons they believed they were creating another Pirates of the Caribbean or Haunted Mansion - an attraction that would live on and on. But alas, it didn't work out that way. What is to follow is a brief history of this once illustrious attraction and then a trip down memory lane as we take one last ride.


Horizons' Logo


Horizons officially opened on October 1, 1983, exactly one year to the day after the opening of Epcot. Sponsored by General Electric (GE), the story of Horizons was designed to be a sequel to the story presented in another GE sponsored attraction, Carousel of Progress.


Carousel of Progress - Disneyland


At the New York World's Fair, Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom, Carousel of Progress told the story of a family dealing with new technologies in the 20th century. Horizons continued this story by presenting us with a family living in the 21st century. But unlike Carousel of Progress where the family remained physically close, in Horizons adult children move to the desert, beneath the ocean, and out into space.

The Horizons building was unique in its design. Imagineer George McGinnis and architect Bill Norton created a structure that looked like a spaceship to some and a giant multifaceted gem to others. In either case, their desire was to present viewers with a structure like they had never seen before - something that would help guests transition their thinking from the present into the future.


Horizons Concept Drawing

Horizons Building


During the early planning stages of Horizons, the attraction was to be called Century 3. This was to honor the third century of the United State's existence, 1976-2076. But as Epcot began to take on a more international flavor with the inclusion of World Showcase, it was decided that a less "country specific" name was in order. Next came the name FutureProbe. However the word "probe" had a negative connotation and it too was abandoned. Finally the name Horizons was selected as the word conveyed the future ahead of us. It's interesting to note, the name "Century 3" could be seen on a space vehicle during the ride.


Century 3 Space Craft


Representatives from GE worked closely with Imagineers during the development of this attraction. Early concepts centered around the inventions of Thomas Edison and the creation of the General Electric company. As time passed, the idea evolved into a presentation of America's progression into the future. But like the attraction's name, a more international subject was needed. In order to appeal to a global audience, it was finally decided to offer a view of man's future as seen through the eyes of scientist and authors both past and present. But unlike the original Carousel of Progress whose focus was on technology, Horizons would put the emphasis on humanity.

Horizons' ride mechanism was similar to the Peter Pan attraction in the Magic Kingdom. Vehicles were suspended from an overhead rail and the track determined the direction the carriage faced. The ride had 174 vehicles that each held up to four guests. Horizons had a capacity of 2,784 riders per hour and lasted a little over fourteen and a half minutes. Fifty-four Audio-Animatronics figures and 770 props were used on 24 sets. In addition, twelve projectors and two Omnimax screens were incorporated into the ride.

The show was narrated by a couple living in the future and voiced by Bob Holt and Dena Dietrich. Holt was primarily a voice actor who also appeared in a number of movies including Disney's "Bedknobs and Broomsticks." Dietrich guest starred on many television series but is best remembered for playing Mother Nature in Chiffon margarine commercials.


Bob Holt

Dena Dietrich


Horizons was unique in that it allowed guests to select their own ending to the ride. Toward the end of the journey, riders could choose between Desert (Mesa Verde Reclamation Project), Ocean (Sea Castle Floating City), and Space (Brava Centauri Orbiting Station) from buttons position in front of them. As the vehicle continued to move forward, individual monitors appeared before each car and a 31-second video was played showing a simulated adventure over land, under water, or through space. To create the videos, scale models were built and a camera swept across and through the futuristic terrains. These models were some of the largest ever created at the time.

From October 1, 1983 to March 10, 1985, GE sponsored two attractions at Disney World, Carousel of Progress and Horizons. But when their ten-year Carousel of Progress contract expired, they chose not to renew. GE also sponsored various incarnations of IllumiNations from January 30, 1988 until September 21, 1999.

The closing of Horizons came on January 9, 1999 and was generated by several events. First, changing public tastes. Most guests were no longer content to sit for almost 15 minutes and watch one vignette after another pass by. Lines for this attraction were practically nonexistent in the later years. Next, General Electric, sensing that this attraction had seen its day, let their contract expire. This forced Disney to pick up the operating costs for a tired attraction. And finally, it was alleged that along with major roof problems, a sinkhole was discovered under the building in 1998. Something needed to be done.

Some sort of Space Pavilion had been envisioned for Epcot since the parks inception so Disney decided that maybe now was the time to move forward with this idea. But the first step would be to demolish the Horizons building. For a number of months during 2000, cranes and bulldozers chipped away at the building. A large amount of the structure's materials were recycled.

A number of the props were acquired by the Imagineers and others found their way to Disney parks around the world. The picture below was taken while I was riding the Tram Tour at the Walt Disney Studios in Paris in 2005. Here we see the submarine from the Underwater City scene and a hover craft from the Mesa Verde farming scene.


Horizons%2005.jpg


That's it for Part One. Check back tomorrow when we take a ride on this great attraction.


April 9, 2010

Epcot's Horizons - Part Two

In Part Two of my Horizons blog I'm going to take you on a ride through this great attraction.


Horizons Building


As many travel ads say, "Getting there is half the fun." When guests entered the Horizons building, they found themselves in FuturePort, a Transportation Terminal of the future. A large departure board listed some of the destinations we could travel to from this terminal. If you notice, HORIZONS is highlighted and leaving via SHUTTLE from gate 4A and is NOW BOARDING. Also in the terminal were large octagonal windows showing pictures of far off locales. These represented the travel posters of the future. All the while, overhead speakers announced the arrivals and departures from other far off locations.


Destination Board

Travel Posters


Shortly after we were seated in our car, an on-board announcement proclaimed, "Horizons One is now departing. Our final destination today - the twenty-first century." But before we visited the future, we were transported into the past to see how previous visionaries predicted life would unfold in the coming years. Our vehicle passed by drawings of the Icarus legend, early renderings of flying machines, and a man studying a cage full of birds. Eventually we came to our first Audio-Animatronics vignette. Here we saw Jules Verne and a chicken floating in a bullet-shaped spacecraft. This scene was inspired by his work "From the Earth to the Moon" in which he uses a canon to propel his spacecraft toward this celestial body.


From the Earth to the Moon


The next scene comes from French filmmaker Georges Méliès' movie "A Trip to the Moon" (Le voyage dans la Lune) made in 1902 which was based loosely on both "From the Earth to the Moon" and "The First Men in the Moon" by H. G. Wells.


A Trip to the Moon

A Trip to the Moon


As our journey continues, we see how another Frenchman, Albert Robida, visualized the future. Robida was a prolific illustrator and during the late 19th and early 20th centuries he created hundreds of drawings depicting the future. The next scene in Horizons portrayed his conception of Paris in 1950 using stylized enlargements and animations of a number of his illustrations. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of this section of the attraction. So I'm posting two of Robida's renderings to help give you an idea as to what this portion of the ride was like.


Robida Illistration

Robida Illistration


Next we jump to the 1930's and possibly the most memorable scene in the attraction. This vignette takes place in a high-rise apartment where we find a robotic butler attending to the household chores. Meanwhile, his owner contemplates the good life while staring out at a vibrant city through floor to ceiling windows.


1930's High Rise Apartment


Nearby, another gentleman receives an automated haircut and shoeshine while getting a custom suntan. With just a flick of a switch he can choose rays from the Bahamas, Hawaii, or Florida.

On the second floor, a woman takes a bubble bath while watching television. The channel selected features a young man singing "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" from the Carousel of Progress attraction. This same rendition can still be heard on this Magic Kingdom favorite.

Further on, a multi-armed robot multitasks by pouring the cat milk, washing dishes, sweeping the floor, and flipping eggs all at the same time - with dubious results.


Multi-Armed Robot


Our next stop is Neon City. Here, brightly colored strands of light created a two-dimensional vision of our future. A keen observer could even make out the outline of Disneyland and Monsanto's House of the Future. Also presented in this section were old movie and television clips that foretold our future, including some footage from the Disneyland TV show.


Neon City

Neon City


As our journey continued, we entered "present day" and were surrounded by two huge OMNIMAX screens. The ride vehicles were positioned perfectly to afford everyone the optimal view. For the next two minutes we were immersed in visions of the sun, colonies in space, microprocessors, crystals, oceans, the launching of the space shuttle, and a DNA molecule. It was an impressive sight, indeed.


OMNIMAX Scene


As we exited the OMNIMAX room, we're told that these marvelous inventions and discoveries are the building blocks for our future. As we turn the corner, we see what lies ahead in twenty-first- century Nova City and we're introduced to the narrators whose voices we've been hearing from our vehicle's speakers. Seated in a modern living room is a couple in their mid-sixties, still active and youthful-looking due to advances in medicine. The husband is playing a Theremin-organ, an instrument that can be activated without actually touching the device. Named after its Russian inventor, this device senses hand movement. One hand controls the pitch while the other controls the volume. If you want to play with a modified version of this technology, head over to the Imagination Pavilion and check out the ImageWorks section at the end of the ride.


Nova City and Grandfather


While hubby is busy composing music, his wife is chatting with their daughter in Mesa Verde via a three-dimensional holographic televiewer.


Nova City and Grandmother


Looking out their windows we see fantastic Nova City. Here, mag-lev (magnetic levitation) trains were depicted. These trains, which float above the track, are not slowed by friction and thus can travel more rapidly than their predecessors. The message" Far off places are closer than ever.


Nova City

Nova City


We next pass by an array of unusual fruits and vegetables. We're told that these are the products of genetic engineering. This scene provided a nice transition as we entered the far off farming community of Mesa Verde.


Genetic Fruits and Vegetables


In Mesa Verde, we saw that once barren desert had been transformed into fertile land. The scent of oranges filled the room. We were also introduced to the city couple's daughter, who, after seven years of college has become a hydro-cultural engineer. Using voice activated controls, she directs automated harvesting of the crops while talking with her mother in Nova City. Notice the hover craft in the second picture. This prop can be seen today on the Tram Tour at the Walt Disney Studios Paris.


Mesa Verde

Hover Craft


Nearby, the "farmer's" husband could be seen in their kitchen, tending to their son. He was also hard at work baking a birthday cake for an upcoming party. Notice the role reversal between husband and wife. This concept was far more dramatic in the 1980's.


Husband and Birthday Cake


In the family room next door, we meet the farming couple's daughter. She is supposed to be doing her homework, but instead is talking to her boyfriend via a large-screen picture phone. This telephone conversation was used as a transition device to move the story from the desert to the ocean.


Farmer's Daughter


When we arrive at Sea Castle City, a new floating community, we see her boyfriend working on his one-man submarine. The boyfriend is actually played by Tom Fitzgerald, the Disney Imagineer who was the main story writer for the attraction.


Boyfriend and One Man Sub

Tom Fitzgerald


As we explore Sea Castle City further, we observe a classroom where young children are learning to scuba dive. At the underwater resort, windows look out into the ocean and we see guests peering into the deep and diners enjoying a meal at a submerged restaurant.


Underwater Classroom

Underwater Resort


Continuing our ocean journey we see kelp farming on the water's surface which provides both food and fuel. On the sea floor, a robot harvester collects manganese-rich nodules. As we dive deeper, light grows dim and we transition to the inkiness of outer space. Floating before us are astronauts working on various pieces of equipment and a space colony rotating in the distance. We enter the space colony and see a community complete with roads, residences, lakes and even a sports stadium.


Working in Space

Brava Centauri


As we look closer at some of the facilities within the colony, we discover a weightless gym complete with cycling and martial arts classes. And at the docking port, we're introduced to the Nova City couple's son and family as they arrive at Brava Centauri and become accustomed to weightlessness for the first time.


Arriving at Brava Centauri


We're told one reason for colonizing space is to develop new industries and create products superior to those manufactured on earth. Crystals, which can be grown larger and purer, show promise in this endeavor.


Growing Crystals in Space


The final vignette shows the family coming together from their various locations to celebrate a birthday. With the use of three-dimensional holographic televiewers, it's almost like everyone is actually in attendance.


Birthday Party


After the birthday party, the following announcement was made: "Attention Horizons passengers. You are invited to choose your own flight path back to the FuturePort. Please look down at the lighted panels in front of you. Press one of the three ride choices: Space, Desert, or Under Sea. Everyone can choose, majority rules. All passengers, make your selections now."

As you continued to move forward, privacy screens were lowered to each side of the vehicle as you moved in front of a monitor. A 31-second video then played showing the simulated adventure selected. To be honest, I was never blown away by this effect. After the elaborate nature of the rest of the attraction, this portion of the ride was somewhat anticlimactic - but it was unique and made me want to ride again just so I could experience all three endings.

I hope you've enjoyed this trip down memory lane. I know many people mourn the loss of this wonderful attraction. I know I do. It was nice to be entertained with Disney magic for almost fifteen minutes. But times have changed and the public now wants more thrills than this sedate attraction offered.

In October 1986 I visited Walt Disney World carrying one of those gigantic "portable" video cameras.


Jack with Video Camera


In those days, we did not have video editing equipment. What you shot was what you got. While on that trip, I filmed a reasonable portion of the Horizons attraction. I have taken that video, added a few still pictures and a new soundtrack in an effort to make a presentable presentation for you to watch. It's a long way from perfect, but I hope it brings back some pleasant memories for you. Enjoy.




April 13, 2010

Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain - Part One

Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain


Expedition Everest Logo


Like so many of my articles, I must start this one in Anaheim, California. You see, the yeti at Expedition Everest isn't the first such creature to inhabit a Disney mountain. In 1959, Disneyland saw a major expansion with the opening of the Disneyland/Alwig Monorail, the Submarine Voyage, and the Matterhorn Bobsleds. This was a big year for Walt and he was proud of how his fledgling park was shaping up.


Monorail, Submarine, and Matterhorn


But there is an interesting side note to one of these new attractions that many are too young to remember. In the early years, the interior of the Matterhorn was one large cavernous opening where girders, chicken-wire, and wooden beams were easily seen during the ascent and ride. It would be an understatement to say that these construction materials broke the illusion of actually bobsledding down a real mountain.

An elaborate interior was always planned from the very beginning, but cash was short and it was decided to hold off and complete the inside in a year or so. Then the New York World's Fair came along and consumed most of the company's time and money. Following soon after that, the acquisition of land for Walt Disney World began. Not to mention, the Matterhorn was one of Disneyland's most popular attractions and management didn't like the idea of closing it for an extended period. So for many years, riders of this "E" ticket attraction had the illusion of a real mountain shattered the moment their bobsled ventured inside the structure.

In the mid '70s, it was finally decided that this eyesore needed to be corrected and the Imagineers dusted off the original plans and added some enhancements. After an extensive rehab, the Matterhorn reopened in 1978. Gone were the girders and chicken-wire to be replaced with a network of ice caves - and the abominable snowman.


Abominable Snowman


Affectionately called Harold by some, I wouldn't actually call the Matterhorn's Abominable Snowman scary, but his presence and the ice caves added a much needed lift to this Disneyland favorite.

When the Animal Kingdom was being designed and promoted, it was billed as having real, prehistoric, and mythological animals. As we know, the real animals live throughout the park and the prehistoric ones can be found in Dinoland U.S.A. But for a number of years, there were no mythological creatures to be found in this park.

A never built land, to be called Beastly Kingdom, was to be home to these mythological creatures. The premier attraction for Beastly Kingdom was to be a dragon-themed coaster. But like the interior of the Matterhorn, budget constraints got in the way and it was decided to make Beastly Kingdom a Phase Two project and open it at a later date. However, without Beastly Kingdom, the Animal Kingdom would feel incomplete so the Imagineers threw together The Festival of the Lion King Show using old floats from Disneyland and created Camp Minnie/Mickey as an inexpensive place holder until finances facilitated replacing it with Beastly Kingdom.


Camp Minnie/Mickey

The Festival of the Lion King Show


Have you ever noticed the unusual rock formation off to the right while crossing the bridge into Camp Minnie/Mickey? If you look closely you'll discover it is in the shape of a dragon's head. That's because this area was to be Beastly Kingdom.


Dragon Waterfall


In the meantime, Islands of Adventure opened at nearby Universal Studios with a Lost Continent area that featured twin coasters called Dueling Dragons. Since Disney likes to be a leader, not a follower, their planned dragon-themed coaster lost some of its appeal. In addition, the "temporary" Festival of the Lion King show had become extremely popular, making it difficult to justify closing Camp Minnie/Mickey to make room for Beastly Kingdom. Yet the park still needed to feature mythological creatures as originally advertised and it also desperately needed to add another "E" ticket attraction for this ride-deficient park.

Remembering the Matterhorn, the Imagineers started to think how the abominable snowman had breathed new life into this already popular attraction. Continuing with this train of thought they wondered if a similar mountain and creature in the Animal Kingdom might be just what the park needed. Of course, the European continent is not represented at the Animal Kingdom so duplicating the Matterhorn was not an option. Instead, the Imagineers decided to introduce the abominable snowman's cousin, the yeti who is fabled to live in the Himalayan Mountains of Asia, a land that already existed in the park. Yeti is a Sherpa word meaning "magical creature."

When people think of the Himalayan Mountains, they automatically think of Mount Everest, the tallest peak in the world. But unfortunately, this mountain lacks a distinctive shape like the Matterhorn. In fact, it's rather unremarkable in appearance. So lead Imagineer Joe Rohde decided to create a "range" of mountains and place Everest in the background. By doing this, Everest didn't need to be the "tallest" mountain in the range since it was "far off" in the distance. This also allowed the Imagineers to come up with a more interesting peak to build their story around - Forbidden Mountain.


Everest and Forbidden Mountain


Although most people call this attraction Expedition Everest, its full name is Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain. This can be seen on the banner and partially hidden poster near the entrance of the attraction.


Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain Sign


In an effort to make Disney's Himalayan range as authentic as possible, the Imagineers made a number of trips to Nepal, Tibet, and China to study the topography, architecture, and myths of these areas. What they brought back with them was knowledge of a rich culture and heritage that they hoped to recreate in the Animal Kingdom.

When the Animal Kingdom was in its planning stages, Michael Eisner insisted that the park portray an environmental message -- a message that promotes harmony between man, the planet, and the animals that coexist with us. While researching the yeti, the Imagineers learned that this creature was far more than a ferocious beast. It was the protector of the mountains and its surroundings.

Much thought went into the design of the yeti. The Imagineers wanted to create a realistic animal that might actually live in the high altitude and cold environment of the Himalayans, not a sci-fi monster. A number of primates, including the golden monkey and orangutan, were studied and various aspects of each were used, along with other practical adaptations, to create what we see today. When these concepts were transitioned from paper to machinery, the largest, most dynamic, and fastest AudioAnimatronics figure ever created was designed and built. So intense is the yeti's movement that he had to be placed on a separate foundation that did not touch the track or mountain's structure.


Yeti


Designing the mountain range was another arduous task. The Imagineers created twenty-four models before they settled on a final design. Then, using laser technology, their six-foot model was scanned into a computer. Once digitalized, the Imagineers could fine tune the ride sequence and create detailed drawings that would be needed to construct the attraction. What we see is an accurate depiction of the northwest face of Mount Everest

I mentioned earlier that the yeti stands on his own foundation. In addition to this, the track and mountains also stand on their own, separate foundations and do not touch one another. The designers endeavored to put six inches of space between the track and the mountain. This was necessary to insure that the vibration of the trains rumbling through the mountain and the swaying of the track did not shake, crack, and damage the mountain's structure. Unfortunately, the yeti's intense movement proved to be too much for its foundation and it cracked sometime ago. Because of this, the yeti has been switched from Mode "A" operation (movement) to Mode "B" operation (stationary with strobe lights and fans). It's my understanding that the damage is great enough that repairs will need to wait until the attraction is closed for rehab.

The mountain range sits on six acres of land and was crafted using more than 3,000 prefabricated "chips" created from 25,000 individual computer -molded pieces of steel. The mountains contain 1,800 tons of steel. That is about six times the amount of steel used in a traditional office building of this size. The mountains' surface contains 18.7 million pounds of concrete and 2,000 gallons of paint. The track length is approximately one mile and reaches a top speed of 50 miles per hour at the bottom of the 80 foot drop.


Artist Concept Drawing


At the base of Disney's Himalayan Mountains is the village of Serka Zong. Serka Zong means "fortress of the chasm." This community was based on the styles of several locales but mostly on the Kali Gandaki region of the Annapurna Conservancy in Nepal. Building techniques (or the appearance of which) remained true to the area by using stone and hard packed earth as building blocks.


Stone Construction

Hard Packed Earth Construction


Artists used hammers, chainsaws and blowtorches to "age" wood and buildings in the village to give the appearance of being longstanding parts of the landscape. More than 2,000 handcrafted items from Asia were used in the queue and surrounding area.

Careful attention was also given to the surrounding plant life. More than 900 bamboo plants, 10 species of trees, and 114 species of shrubs were planted around the mountain to simulate the lowlands surrounding the Himalayas.

Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain officially opened April 7, 2006. Before this date, everyone raced to be first in line for Kilimanjaro Safaris. But now the morning crowd splits at the tree of life, half heading off to Africa while the others scramble to get their first adrenaline rush of the day on this great coaster.

That's it for Part One. Check back tomorrow when we will walk the queue and then take a ride on Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain.



April 14, 2010

Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain - Part Two

In Part One, I gave you a brief history as to how Expedition Everest came into being. Today I'm going to discuss the queue and ride.

Our story actually begins on the other side of Discovery River. Just beyond the Yak & Yeti Restaurant is a clearing and temple. Here you'll find an Information sign describing the mountain range in the distance. Each peak is named and elevations given. The middle peak is labeled Forbidden Mountain and is said to be the legendary home of the yeti.


Mountain Range Plaque

Forbidden Mountain Plaque

Next to this sign is a temple. If you study it carefully, you'll notice that its shape matches the mountains in the background. In addition, the center temple (Forbidden Mountain) contains a representation of the yeti which has been adorned by the local inhabitants.


Forbidden Mountain Temple

Forbidden Mountain Temple Yeti


If you approach Expedition Everest from Dinoland U.S.A., you'll discover tea growing on the slopes of the mountains. More tea can be found around the village of Serka Zong. In years past, this area was a thriving tea plantation complete with steam trains to transport the crops to nearby Anandapur. Several of the buildings were once used for the processing of the tea as can be seen by a sign located in what is now the Yeti Museum.


Tea Crop on Mountain Slope

Tea Warehouse


However, for some mysterious reason, the plantation was shuttered and the trains stopped running. Rumors abound that the yeti played a part in the plantation's demise and locals have erected a number of shrines to appease the creature.


Yeti Shrine

Yeti Shrine

Yeti Shrine


Years after the closing of the plantation, Norbu and Bob came along and opened Himalayan Escapes - Tours and Expeditions. They refashioned a number of the plantation buildings to suit their new business and rerouted the train to take adventure seekers to the base of Mount Everest where they would be dropped off to make their final ascent of the mountain by foot.


Himalayan Escapes - Tours and Expeditions Sign


Your adventure begins in the booking office. This building was once the headquarters for the Royal Anandapur Tea Company. Here you'll find secondhand furniture and equipment as supplies are expensive in this remote area. Also pay attention to the board mounted on the back wall. All of the recent tours are listed and their current status and position are noted.


Booking Office Exterior

Booking Office Interior

Expedition Tracking Board


Once outside the booking office, the desolation of the land becomes apparent. Shrubbery is sparse and a dry riverbed can be seen running between the buildings. Also notice the prayer flags waving in the breeze. These pennants are used to promote wisdom, strength, compassion, and peace. As the wind slowly unravels the fabric, the threads are carried to heaven and these benefits rain down and help all.


Outside the Booking Office

Prayer Flags


Signs have been posted from the booking office to the train depot to make sure your tour group stays together and doesn't get lost.


Expedition Group Signs


Next visitors pass by the Yeti Mandir. A Mandir is a Hindu temple that is usually dedicated to one deity -- in this case, the yeti. The ringing of the surrounding bells is one way worshipers show respect to the deity. It's at this point that tourists start to wonder if the legend of this mythical creature just might be true.


Mandir Pogoda

Mandir Sign

Yeti Shrine

Yeti Shrine

Mandir Bells


While admiring the Mandir, be sure to pay attention to the intricate carvings found throughout the structure.


Mandir Carvings

Mandir Carvings

Mandir Carvings


At Tashi's Trek and Tongba Shop you can pick up the supplies you'll need for your climb to the top of Everest. As the sign says, "We provide the finest in mountaineer equipments for all needs new and used."


Tashi's Trek and Tongba Shop Sign

Tashi's Trek and Tongba Shop

Tashi's Trek and Tongba Shop


From the supply shop you enter what was once a warehouse that stored the tea waiting to be shipped to Anandapur. With the help of Professor Pema Dorje Phd., Norbu and Bob have converted this space into an elaborate Yeti Museum that features a collection of artifacts that present both legend and purported facts about this creature.


Yeti Museum Sign

Yeti Museum

Yeti Museum

Yeti Museum


Be sure to pay extra attention to the "Mystery of the Lost Expedition" exhibit. These artifacts were retrieved from the slopes of the mountain and leave little doubt as to what happened to these adventurers.


Mystery of the Lost Expedition

Mystery of the Lost Expedition

Mystery of the Lost Expedition

Mystery of the Lost Expedition

Mystery of the Lost Expedition


As you approach the train platform, pictures of your staff line the wall. Under each photo you'll find their title and job function. For example, it's the responsibility of the Expedition Leaders to organize the food, supplies, and gear, select team members, and monitor their health and well-being. The Porter carries equipment and food weighing in excess of 125 pounds.


Train Station

Expediton Leaders

Porter


If you would like to ride at the front of the train, just tell the cast member who is directing guests to their seats. You will be asked to step aside and wait in another line. Personally, I don't see the front of the train adding any additional thrill so if this second line is long, I'd just sit where directed.

After boarding the old converted tea train and securing the lap restraint, your journey begins. With a toot of the whistle, the train pulls out of the station and passes a siding before easing down a slight dip in the track. It then begins a small climb as you hear the sounds of birds native to Nepal.


Secure in Your Seat

The Journey Begins

The First Incline


The train glides down another hill as you pass beside a waterfall and underneath an old trestle. The track straightens out for a few moments as you cross the lowlands that surround the mountain chain. Once again, the arid nature of the area is noticeable by the sparse placement of the plant life.


Tracks and Waterfall

Overhead Trestle

Straight Track


After another hairpin turn, the train starts up a steep incline. To the left is a ceremonial stairway leading to an ancient fortress. As the train passes through a tunnel beneath this citadel, ceremonial drums, gongs, and low churning horns can be heard. Overhead on the back wall is a fresco of the Yeti, guardian of the Forbidden Mountain.


Incline to Fortress

Fortress

Yeti Fresco


As we exit the tunnel the train whistle blows and we discover we're high above the ground on the old trestle seen earlier and remember that Serka Zong means "fortress of the chasm." Off to our right is a stunning view of this charming village and Discovery River. Ahead are the inhospitable mountains beckoning us forward.


Trestle

Serka Zong and Discovery River

Inhospitable Mountains


Across the 110 foot high trestle we cross a mountain crest and speed downhill along a curve and into an ice cavern.


Ice Valley

Ice Cave


On the other side of the cavern the train speeds up a sharp incline and comes to an abrupt stop. It seems that the track ahead has been ripped up, preventing us from going forward.


Emerging from the Ice Cave

No Track Ahead


Sitting in the front seat of the train affords the rider with a spectacular view of Walt Disney World. However, for me, this breaks the storyline of being high in the Himalayan Mountains and I usually avoid this seat.


View from the top of Everest


The train sits perched for several moments on this precarious slope. Overhead, prayer flags flap in the wind. To the side of the cars, large footprints and claw marks can be seen in the snow. At the same time, gravity is tugging on the train whose brakes are not equipped to handle this sort of stress. Soon the train begins to shake and rumble and eventually, the brakes fail. The cars begin to move backwards, picking up speed as they travel back into the ice cave. But this is not the same route that was used to ascend the peak. We now find ourselves hurtling in reverse deep within the mountain. Eventually, we come to a second stop within a large cavern. On the wall before us we can see the shadow of the Yeti ripping up more track.


Shadow of the Yeti


A few moments later, the train reverses directions again and starts moving forward down an eighty foot hill, reaching a speed of fifty miles per hour. The train passes through a bamboo forest then races up the other side of the mountain and disappears into another cave.


Leaving the Cave

Down the Hill We Go

At the Bottom of the Mountain

Back Inside the Mountain


Emerging on the other side of the mountain, the train spirals upwards through another forest before plunging back into the cave and darkness. As the track straightens out, we see the actual Yeti perched on a ledge above us, reaching out to grab anyone within his reach.


Racing Through the Forest

The Yeti Attacks


Narrowly escaping the Yeti's clutches, the train rumbles forward and out into the open once again. Fortunately, the Serka Zong Station and safety are close at hand.


Back at Serka Zong Station


After exiting the train, you enter Serka Zong Bazaar, a shop set up by the townsfolk to cash in on the tourist trade. Besides the normal souvenir purchases, a number of handicraft items are on display.


Serka Zong Bazaar

Serka Zong Bazaar

Serka Zong Bazaar

Serka Zong Bazaar


Outside the Bazaar is a large courtyard and wonderful spot for taking a few pictures of the mountains. Be sure to look at the scenery on the other side of the wall. You'll see more yeti shrines and a dry riverbed created by the spring runoff.


Courtyard

Dry Riverbed

Yeti Shrine


Expedition Everest is an extremely popular attraction. If you want to ride, I suggest making this one of your first stops of the morning. FastPass and a Single Rider Line are available. Children must be 44" in height to ride. Guests in wheelchairs must transfer to the train. Near the Single Rider Line is a mockup of the Special Needs train seat and transfer instructions.


Special Needs Seat

Special Needs Seat Instructions


I have created a seven minute video of Expedition Everest. However, I've done more than just film the ride. I tried to capture the surrounding area and recreate the "feel" the Imagineers were trying to convey. Enjoy.



April 16, 2010

D Street Grand Opening at Downtown Disney

For the past ten years, pins have been the souvenir of choice for Disney collectors and traders. This simple product line has brought many hours of enjoyment to thousands of fans who wanted to bring a little of the magic home with them after vacation. But a new collectible arrived on the scene recently and is capturing the imagination of Disney fans - Vinylmation. These Mickey-esque figurines, made out of vinyl, come in one basic shape (several sizes), but are decorated in a multitude of styles to capture the spirit of Disney and beyond.


Vinylmation


A new shop officially opened at Downtown Disney Westside today (April 16, 2010) and will be the flagship location for Vinylmation at Walt Disney World. But before we talk about these cute little Mickeys, let's take a look at the store and some of the other things that will be offered here.


D Street Exterior.jpg


While attending the press event today, I had the good fortune to speak with Kelli Coleman, Vice President Product Design & Development. She told me that D Street is similar to its sister shop Trend-D located at the Marketplace. Both are cutting-edge shops that offer pop culture apparel and novelties. But unlike Trend-D, boys and men will also be able to find unique Disney fashions to take home with them. I snapped a few pictures of the shirts that are for sale to give you an example of what I'm talking about. As you can see, this is not the same merchandise line that you'll find at the Emporium at the Magic Kingdom.


D Street T-Shirt

D Street T-Shirt

D Street T-Shirt

D Street T-Shirt

D Street T-Shirt

D Street T-Shirt

D Street T-Shirt


D Street is a lot of fun and full of energy. Many of the props that line the upper shelves came from the old Adventure's Club on Pleasure Island.


Adventure's Club Props

Adventure's Club Props


Here are a few more pictures of the "apparel" side of the store. Be sure to notice the numerous Mickeys - some hidden, some not.


Check-out

Hidden Mickey

Apparel

Mickey

Mickey.jpg

Mickey


The right hand side of the D Street store is primarily devoted to Vinylmation. Everything from starter kits to one-of-a-kind pieces are available here. Check out some of the cool displays.


Vinylmation Sign

Zebra Display

Vinylmation Display

Vinylmation Display


This chandelier has 49 nine-inch figures and the table has 782 Vinylmation characters worked into its design.


Vinylmation Chandelier

Vinylmation Table

Vinylmation Table


It's at this table that you'll be able to create your own, personalized Vinylmation figurine. Blank characters are for sale and marking pins are on hand to help you design your own unique figure. You can use the Mickeys found in the table for inspiration or exercise your own imagination. Also, if you'd like to add some interesting eyes and mouths, a wide variety are available.


Marking Pins

Eyes


But if you're not artistically inclined, some really cute, ready-made characters are just waiting to go home with you. These next pictures show three of the Vinylmation categories for sale, Park, Urban, and Muppet. There are other categories so be sure to check them out when you visit this store.


Park Vinylmation Line

Urban Vinylmation Line

Muppet Vinylmation Line


Also available are celebrity signed pieces and Vinylmations created by the Disney Design Group Artists. And for a slightly different take on this craze, canvas paintings with characters from the "Park" series can be found posing in front of their attractions. Here are a few samples.


Special Artist Vinylmation

al Artist Vinylmation

al Artist Vinylmation

Canvas Picture

Canvas Picture


D Street will also offer "Cast Member Vinylmation Trading." This will give you a fast and easy way to complete your collection by swapping one Vinylmation for another.

As part of the press event, I was asked to sign a special Vinylmation that will be on display in the store. My name and ALLEARS.NET can be seen right below Mickey's buttons.


Press Event Vinylmation


I think D Street is a nice addition to Downtown Disney. This shop offers a different line of merchandise than can be found in so many of the other stores found at Disney World. And even if you're not into Vinylmation, you should take the time to check them out. The creativity that goes into some of the designs is truly amazing.

If you've ever wondered what it's like to attend a Disney press event, I videotaped the opening ceremony today. I have edited the speeches in order to keep the video at around six minutes. The elapsed time for the "speed painting" was about eight minutes. Be sure to watch the Mickey dance routine at the end. It's high energy and a great show!




April 20, 2010

Disney Quiz 101 -- Questions

Disney Quiz 101

I have created another Disney quiz for you -- but this time, there are no pictures. I titled it "Disney Quiz 101" because in my circle of friends, these are easy questions. In other words "Beginning Disney." So grab a pencil and paper and get ready for twenty questions and one bonus brain-teaser. Tomorrow I'll post the answers.

Once again, do not send me your answers. This quiz is for your amusement only. No winner will be announced and no prizes awarded.

Good luck.,


1. On what day did Disneyland open?

2. What is considered to be the first AudioAnimatronics attraction?

3. The Jungle Cruise was inspired in part by what series of short subject documentaries?

4. What two World Showcase pavilions were not present at Epcot's opening (October 1, 1982) and were added in later years?

5. What was the first foreign Disney Park to open?

6. What was the first commercially released cartoon to be produced in the full-color three-strip Technicolor process?

7. On what day did Walt Disney World open?

8. What was Walt Disney's first full-length animated motion picture?

9. Who played Davey Crockett?

10. What was the first attraction to open after Walt Disney's death?

11. What Disney animated short was the first to be created using the multi-plane camera?

12. What was Walt's brother Roy's middle initial?

13. What was the name of the cartoon character that Walt lost the rights to in the spring of 1928?

14. What was Walt's wife's first name?

15. What four attractions did Disney design for the New York World's Fair?

16. What attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios was originally planned for Epcot?

17. What did Professor Brainard invent?

18. What Disney movie was the first commercial film released in multi-channel (stereo) sound?

19. What was the first science fiction film produced by Walt Disney Pictures?

20. Where did President Nixon say "I am not a crook?"

Bonus Question. The following movies were set at what fictitious university, The Absent Minded Professor, Son of Flubber, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, Now You See Him, Now You Don't, and The Strongest Man in the World?

April 21, 2010

Disney Quiz 101 -- Answers

Here are the answers to yesterday's quiz. I hope you got them all right!


1. On what day did Disneyland open?

July 17, 1955

Between 10-15 thousand opening day tickets had been made available to the press and invited guests, but between counterfeit tickets and gate crashers, it's estimated that twice that number actually attended the park on opening day.


Opening Day at Disneyland



2. What is considered to be the first AudioAnimatronics attraction?

The Enchanted Tiki Room

Opening on June 23, 1963 this attraction had 225 AudioAnimatronics performers directed by a fourteen-channel magnetic tape feeding one hundred separate speakers and controlling 438 separate actions.


Walt and Jose in the Tiki Room



3. The Jungle Cruise was inspired in part by what series of short subject documentaries?

True Life Adventures (specifically The African Lion)

Produced between 1948 and 1960, True Life Adventures covered a wide range of nature-related topics and won numerous Academy Awards.


The African Lion Movie Poster



4. What two World Showcase pavilions were not present at Epcot's opening (October 1, 1982) and were added in later years?

Morocco and Norway

Morocco opened on September 7, 1984. King Hassan II sent Moroccan artisans to design and create the many mosaics seen in this pavilion.


Morocco Pavilion


Norway had a soft opening on May 6, 1988. A month later an official opening was attended by Crown Prince Harald in a ceremony that was broadcast live to Norway.


Norway Pavilion



5. What was the first foreign Disney Park to open?

Tokyo Disneyland

Opening on April 15, 1983, Tokyo Disneyland is owned and operated by the Oriental Land Company which pays licensing fees and royalties to the Walt Disney Company.


Tokyo Disneyland



6. What was the first commercially released cartoon to be produced in the full-color three-strip Technicolor process?

Flowers and Trees

Flowers and Trees was already in production as a black and white cartoon when Walt Disney was introduced to Technicolor's three-strip process. Walt was so impressed that he had the black and white footage scrapped, and had the short redone in color.


Flowers and Trees Movie Poster



7. On what day did Walt Disney World open?

October 1, 1971

However, the official dedication was held on October 25th. This gave the company time to work out any problems before a formal opening was presented to the press and the rest of the world.


Magic Kingdom



8. What was Walt Disney's first full-length animated motion picture?

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 34th in its list of the 100 greatest American films of all time.


Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Movie Poster



9. Who played Davey Crockett?

Fess Parker

Davy Crockett was the first miniseries in the history of television. Its five episodes aired on the Disneyland TV show in 1954 and 1955. The first three episodes were later edited together and shown in theaters under the name of Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier.


Fess Parker as Davy Crockett



10. What was the first attraction to open after Walt Disney's death?

Pirates of the Caribbean (Disneyland)

Pirates of the Caribbean was the last attraction that Walt personally supervised during its design and much of its construction. It opened three months after his death on March 18 1967.


Pirates of the Caribbean



11. What Disney animated short was the first to be created using the multi-plane camera?

The Old Mill

The Old Mill won the 1937 Academy Award for Best Short Subjects: Cartoons.

Disney's multi-plane camera, invented by William Garity, uses up to seven layers of artwork and is shot using an overhead movable camera.


The Old Mill



12. What was Walt's brother Roy's middle initial?

O

Roy Oliver Disney was Walt's older brother (June 24, 1893 - December 20, 1971) and co-founder of what is now The Walt Disney Company. Roy's son, Roy Edward Disney, also played a pivotal role in the company as a longtime senior executive.


Roy O. Disney



13. What was the name of the cartoon character that Walt lost the rights to in the spring of 1928?

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

In February 2006, Disney CEO Bob Iger secured the rights to the original 26 Oswald cartoons created by Disney. The remaining Oswald cartoons still belong to Universal.


Oswald the Lucky Rabbit



14. What was Walt's wife's first name?

Lillian

Lillian Marie Bounds was working at the Disney Studio in the "ink and paint" department when she met Walt. They were married in 1925. After Walt's death, she married John L. Truyens in May 1969. John died in February 1981. Lillian suffered a stroke on December 15, 1997, 31 years to the day after Walt's death. She died the following morning at aged 98.


Walt, Lillian, and Mickey Mouse



15. What four attractions did Disney design for the New York World's Fair?

"it's a small world" - sponsored by UNICEF and Pepsi
Progressland (later to be known as Carousel of Progress) -- sponsored by General Electric
Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln - sponsored by the State of Illinois
The Magic Skyway - sponsored by the Ford Motor Company


Disney%20Quiz%20101%2015.jpg



16. What attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios was originally planned for Epcot?

The Great Movie Ride

The Great Movie Ride was being developed as a Future World pavilion to cover the topic of entertainment. But when Michael Eisner became CEO of the Walt Disney Company in 1985, he proposed an entirely new park devoted to entertainment with The Great Movie Ride as its premier attraction and the idea for the Disney/MGM Studios was born.


The Great Movie Ride



17. What did Professor Brainard invent?

Flubber

The movie The Absent-Minded Professor opened in 1961 and featured a scatter-brained professor creating a substance that defied gravity. The movie was both a critical and financial success and spawned a sequel, Son of Flubber in 1963.


The Absent-Minded Professor



18. What Disney movie was the first commercial film released in multi-channel (stereo) sound?

Fantasia

Fantasia was the third full-length animated film produced by Disney (following Snow White and Pinocchio). The film was not a commercial success during its initial release and left the company strapped for funds. In an effort to save money and recoup losses, Disney next produced Dumbo, a much shorter movie and by comparison to Fantasia, a simple to animate film. Despite Fantasia's initial commercial failure, subsequent releases more than made up for any losses and today the movie is considered a classic. A sequel, Fantasia 2000, opened on December 17, 1999.


Fantasia Movie Poster



19. What was the first science fiction film produced by Walt Disney Pictures?

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Opening in 1954, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea starred Kirk Douglas, James Mason, Paul Lukas, and Peter Lorre. When Disneyland was being constructed, cash was short and Tomorrowland was lacking in rides. In an effort to add attractions to this land, the props from the movie were displayed in an exhibit by the same name and entertained guests from 1955 to 1966.


20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Movie Poster



20. Where did President Nixon say "I am not a crook?"

Disney's Contemporary Resort

Speaking before 400 Associated Press managing editors, Nixon defended his record in the Watergate scandal. This proved to be a defining moment in his presidency and the beginning of the end.


Contemporary Resort



Bonus Question. The following movies were set at what fictitious university, The Absent Minded Professor, Son of Flubber, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, Now You See Him, Now You Don't, and The Strongest Man in the World?

Medfield College

Interestingly, two other college-themed movies, The Misadventures of Merlin Jones, and its sequel, The Monkey's Uncle were set in Midvale College.

April 27, 2010

Dumbo the Flying Elephant

Dumbo the Flying Elephant


Lately, my attraction blogs have been lengthy affairs about "E" ticket rides. These have been two-part articles that explore the history and details of some of our favorite attractions at Disney World.

Today's blog will be no different, except there isn't nearly as much to talk about when discussing Dumbo. You see, the beauty of this ride is in its simplicity. If you're young, you really believe you're flying with your elephant-friend above the clouds. And if you're an adult, a smile will find its way to your face and your inner child will escape for a few moments. And there probably isn't anything grander at the Magic Kingdom than taking your child on their very first Dumbo ride and watching their excitement.

I know I usually start these history lessons at Disneyland. And I will get there eventually. But before I do, we must travel back to 1940 and take a look at the movie Fantasia. You see, as much as we think of this film as a classic today, it wasn't all that well received during its first release. The critics gave it mixed reviews and audiences were looking for another Snow White and Pinocchio. Fantasia, having no storyline or real dialogue, left moviegoers confused and it failed to make a profit during its initial distribution. Couple this with the fact that the Studio was still reeling from an earlier strike and a World War on the other side of the Atlantic was cutting into the company's foreign profits, it's easy to understand why Disney was strapped for money after Fantasia's failure. But if it wasn't for this failure, we might not have a Dumbo attraction today.


Fantasia Movie Poster


In order to recoup his loses, Walt desperately needed to make a cheap movie and Dumbo was the ticket. Based on a recently published book, the story was uncomplicated and its circus theme lent itself to simple animation. In the end, the movie was only 63½ minutes long and cost $812,000. When you compare this to Snow White at $1,488,423, Pinocchio at $2,289,247 and Fantasia at $2,280,000, Dumbo was a real bargain. And luckily for Walt and his company, the movie was a huge success. Today, Dumbo is considered one of Walt Disney's finest films.


Dumbo Movie Poster


Flash forward to Disneyland, 1954/5. As wonderful and innovative as Walt's new park was, most of the Fantasyland attractions were simple carnival rides. Dark rides had been around for years and there was nothing new about a merry-go-round. But the Imagineers brought these tired rides to life by theming them to Walt's classic films. And Dumbo was another good example of taking a simple spinning ride and making it magical.

Originally, the ride was to be called "Ten Pink Elephants on Parade." Taking its cue from the inebriated and somewhat hallucinatory segment of the movie, the ride was originally installed with ten pink elephants. In addition, their ears were supposed to flap - an effect that was never realized. But given the no-alcohol policy in the park, it was decided that recreating visions brought on by a drinking binge was inappropriate and the pachyderms were given a new coat of gray paint and Dumbo debuted almost a full month after Disneyland's initial opening.

Dumbo was an instant success at Disneyland and it was an easy choice to be included in the new park that Disney would be building in Florida. However, in the early years, the attraction was far less elaborate and the pistons that raised and lowered Dumbo were plainly visible. In addition, the attraction only had ten elephants compared to the sixteen that fly today.


Dumbo in the Early Years

Dumbo Today


The queue for Dumbo uses a simple switchback design. Fortunately, much of it is covered to protect guests from the sun and rain. Within the queue are several simple diversions. A clown-face mirror and a mix-and-match clown body can help little ones pass the time in what can be a very long line.


Dumbo Entrance Sign

Clown Mirror

Clown Body Mix & Match


As always, I will ask you to pay attention to the details of this ride. Although all the elephants are gray, their hats, collars, and saddle blankets come in a rainbow of colors. Also pay attention to the ride mechanism. Gone are the pistons to be replaced with intricate gears and spinning pinwheels and chipmunks. Overhead, Mr. Stork can be seen delivering Dumbo to Mrs. Jumbo.


Dumbo with Orange Trimmings

Chipmunk

Pinwheel

Gears

Mr. Stork


Surrounding the attraction are elephant topiary and lampposts featuring the matronly pachyderms performing a circus stunt.


Topiary

Lamppost


Keeping everything running smoothly is Timothy the Mouse who stands above it all and choreographs the merriment. It's interesting to note that at the Magic Kingdom in Florida, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland, Timothy carries Dumbo's magic feather. But at Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland he holds a whip.


Timothy with the Magic Feather

Timothy with a Whip


Of all the rides at the Magic Kingdom, I think Dumbo offers some of the best opportunities to capture some artistic photographs.


Artistic Dumbo

Artistic Dumbo

Artistic Dumbo

Artistic Dumbo


Pictures of your little ones aren't always easy to achieve from the ground so Disney has set up a photo opportunity nearby where you can take all the time you need to pose the perfect picture.


Dumbo Photo Op


Here are a couple of shots of me getting ready for takeoff and soaring over Fantasyland.


Jack Getting Ready For Takeoff

Jack Riding Dumbo

Jack Riding Dumbo


As you may have heard, Fantasyland is receiving a major expansion. Mickey's Toontown Fair will be razed next year and the land that once was occupied by the "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" attraction will be used to add a new Little Mermaid attraction, create princess meet-and-greet locations, and build a new restaurant based on "Beauty and the Beast." As part of this expansion, two Dumbo rides will be built in what is now Toontown Fair. In addition, the queue will be housed in a big-top tent and will feature interactive entertainment to keep the kids occupied. Disney has said that the current Dumbo attraction will remain open until this newer version is complete.

Also, the "Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm" is rumored to be receiving a new circus theme, linking it to Dumbo. No firm dates have been announced, but individual sections of this expansion are slated to open in 2012 and 2013. Here are a few concept pictures for the new Dumbo attraction.


Dumbo Concept Art

Dumbo Concept Art

Dumbo Concept Art

Dumbo Concept Art


If you have little ones, Dumbo is a must-see attraction. I strongly suggest making Dumbo (and Peter Pan) one of your first stops in the morning. Long lines ensue shortly after opening and 40 minutes is a long time to wait for a minute and a half ride. There is no age limit for Dumbo, but younger children must be seated on the inside of the vehicle.

And don't bypass this ride just because you don't have kids with you. I don't have any children yet I have ridden this attraction at all five Magic Kingdoms around the world - and will continue to do so in the future. As I said at the beginning of this article, the beauty of this ride is in its simplicity.

I have created a short video of Dumbo the Flying Elephant for enjoyment. Have fun!




April 29, 2010

Castle Couture - Fantasyland - Magic Kingdom

A new shop has opened in Fantasyland. Replacing Tinker Bell's Treasures is Castle Couture.


Castle Couture


Located across the courtyard from Cinderella Castle, this new shop allows Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique guests to have their royal portrait taken in regal style. But the experience is not limited to just the young princess as family-style portraits are also available here. A studio has been set up and offers a formal setting in which to capture the moment.


Castle Couture


In addition, guests no longer need to pick up their portraits at Exposition Hall on Main Street as they can be purchased and printed at Castle Couture.

Even though the theme of the shop has been altered, the merchandise has not changed significantly with the makeover. For the most part, princess costumes and accessories make up the bulk of the offerings.


Castle Couture

TIP: Be sure to check out Sleeping Beauty's dress as Flora and Meriweather repeatedly change it from pink to blue.


Castle Couture


For more information about PhotoPass and packages available, click here.


Return to Blog Central

About April 2010

This page contains all entries posted to The “World” According to Jack in April 2010. They are listed from oldest to newest.

March 2010 is the previous archive.

May 2010 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.