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January 13, 2014

If I Had a Time Machine

Jack Spence Masthead


I'm a big fan of science fiction. As a boy, I watched the full-length versions of many of the movies seen inside Sci-Fi Dine-In at Disney's Hollywood Studios. When "Star Trek" premiered in 1966, I was glued to my TV set every Thursday (and later Friday) night. The show was "fascinating." I was also a big fan of "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" and to a lesser extent, "Lost in Space" (Danger Will Robinson!). Additionally, I spent a fair amount of time in darkened theaters watching movies such as "2001: A Space Odyssey," "Star Wars," and "Planet of the Apes." But through it all, one theme seemed to captivate me more than any other, time travel. Even today, the 1960 movie "The Time Machine" starring Rod Taylor, Alan Young, and Yvette Mimieux holds a special place in my heart.


The Time Machine Poster


Perhaps it's my love of history that makes me ponder the subject of time travel. I've often dreamed of being present at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Or standing on the deck of the Titanic on that fateful night (as long as I was guaranteed a seat on a lifeboat). But recently, I've started to direct my time travel fascination toward Disney. What if I could go back in time and visit a Disney park? What park would I visit and what date would I select?

Of course, if I owned a time machine, I could pick many parks and many dates. But for this article, I'm only allowed to use my time machine once and I can only visit for one calendar day.

Of course, the first scenario that comes to my mind is July 17, 1955, opening day at Disneyland. What wonderful bragging rights that would give me. Imagine being at a party with all of my Disneyphile friends and casually saying, "Oh yes. Didn't you know? I was there. If you look at the film clip of Walt dedicating Disneyland, I can be seen in the background, second from the left." This statement would immediately make me the envy of all and the center of attention for the rest of the evening.

But in reality, I don't think I would choose Disneyland's opening day. In terms of "experiencing" the park to its fullest, July 17th was not the day to attend. First off, the park didn't open until 2:30 that afternoon. Half the day was gone already. Then there is the matter of attendance. Roughly 14,000 people were invited to the opening day ceremonies. However, counterfeit tickets doubled this amount. Today, 28,000 guests visiting Disneyland is no big deal. In fact, it would be a rather pleasant day. However, in 1955, this many people would be comparable to sixty or seventy thousand guests crammed into the park today.

But there were other calamities besides counterfeit tickets on Black Sunday, as opening day became known as. There were no working drinking fountains due to a plumber's strike. The park ran out of food. The Emporium was the only shop open on Main Street. There was a gas leak that caused the afternoon closing of Fantasyland, Adventureland, and Frontierland. Not all of the planned opening day rides were working, and those that were, broke down left and right. And the outside temperature reached 101 degrees and most rides were not air conditioned. In addition, the live television broadcast that began at 4:30pm included 21 camera scattered around the park, cordoning off areas to the general public.

No. Opening day would not be the time to visit Disneyland if you wanted to "experience" the park in its infancy. For me, I would wait several weeks for the festivities to die down and more attractions to come on line.

Here is a list of opening day attractions according to "The Story of Disneyland," a 1955, 22-page soft-cover souvenir booklet:


The Story of Disneyland


"’ The Story of Disneyland
"’ 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Exhibit
"’ Autopia
"’ Canal Boats of the World (Later Storybook Land Canal Boats)
"’ Casey Jr. Circus Train
"’ Disneyland Street Railway
"’ Dumbo the Flying Elephant
"’ Explorer's Boat Ride (Later Jungle Cruise)
"’ King Arthur Carrousel
"’ Mad Tea Party
"’ Main Street Cinema
"’ Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
"’ Penny Arcade and Shooting Gallery
"’ Peter Pan Flight
"’ Phantom Boats
"’ Rocket to the Moon
"’ Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad
"’ Snow White's Adventures (Later Snow White's Scary Adventures)
"’ Space Station X-1
"’ Stage Coach through the Painted Desert

Imagine how wonderful it would be to walk through the various lands of yesteryear and experience the original attractions. Picture seeing the Jungle Cruise before it was humorously reimagined by Marc Davis. Driving an Autopia vehicle when there was no track down the middle of the lane and you could bounce off the curbs on each side of the roadway. Or sitting atop a stage coach and riding along dusty trails that will someday become the Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland attraction.


Jungle Cruise

Autopia

Stage Coach


However, another time in Disneyland history also beckons me. It's the time period I personally remember when reminiscing about The Happiest Place on Earth. It's a time when ticket books still existed and you would scour through your junk drawer at home before your day began, looking for unused coupons from previous visits - only to discover there were only "A" and "B" tickets left.

The date is sometime in late 1969. All of the World's Fair attractions ("it's a small world," Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Carousel of Progress, and Primeval World) had been added to the park. The 1966/67 makeover of Tomorrowland had been completed. And Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion were now open. To me, this was Disneyland's turning point. The simple "carnival" rides that opened the park in 1955 had given way to cutting edge technology. Disneyland truly took its place as the leader of theme parks in this era.


it's a small world

Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln

Carousel of Progress

Primeval World

New Tomorrowland

Pirates of the Caribbean

Haunted Mansion


It would be so pleasing to relive my memories of this fantastic time in Disney history. To be able to ride the Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland one more time. To watch Wally Boag, Betty Taylor, Don Novis, and Fulton Burley perform in the Golden Horseshoe Review. To enjoy the original Carousel of Progress and see mother go from a housewife drudge to a yackety modern 1960's woman.


Mine Train Though Nature's Wonderland

Golden Horseshoe Review

Final Scene from the Carousel of Progress


On Main Street, Disney merchandise had not yet permeated every nook and cranny of every shop. Wurlitzer sold piano rolls. A candle shop offered a staggering array of wax wonders. The Upjohn Pharmacy provided guests with free samples of vitamin pills. And the Penny Arcade offered a stunning collection of antique games and mutascopes.


Candle Shop

Upjohn Pharmacy


Even though I visited the Magic Kingdom in Florida three months after it opened, this park does not hold the history or memories for me that Disneyland does, so I would not use my time machine to visit this park. But I might select Epcot sometime in the mid to late 1980's. It would be so wonderful to ride on Horizons and World of Motion one last time. And I would especially enjoy seeing Dreamfinder and Figment in the original Imagination attraction. However, I have many photographs and videos of this era of Epcot so it probably wouldn't make my list.


Horizons

World of Motion

Imagination


Of course, any good time machine worth its money can travel forward in time as well as backwards. Maybe I should take a trip to the future. So what park and date would I select?

I probably would not pick Disneyland. For the most part, this park is complete. Yes, there will be new attractions and experiences in the years to come. And hopefully Tomorrowland will get the complete makeover it deserves. But I doubt that I would see significant changes twenty years from now. Sure, Pirates of the Caribbean will have had another makeover to correspond to the tenth sequel to the original movie, but do I really care?

The same logic holds true for the Magic Kingdom. For the most part, this park is complete.

Once again, I might choose Epcot. It's possible that twenty years from now there will be more countries around World Showcase. But judging by the last twenty years, probably not.

Rumors abound that Disney's Hollywood Studios will be getting a major makeover sometime soon. But I'm still young enough to hopefully witness these additions in my lifetime.

So what park and date would I pick in the future?

Shanghai Disneyland, 2035. From the precious little information Disney has released on this park, it looks to be significantly different from the other five Magic Kingdom-type parks around the world. For example, the castle will be interactive and the largest of them all. The Shanghai version of Tomorrowland will be to the left of the Hub rather than to the right. And many new attractions are being designed to please a Chinese audience.

Although I do plan on visiting Shanghai Disneyland in 2016, I know from past experience with other Disney parks that it will be far from complete. So I will use my time machine to visit again in 2035, twenty years after the park's opening. This will allow plenty of time for the park to grow and add additional attractions.


Shanghai Disneyland


So here is the deal. I'm going to loan you my time machine. With it, you can only pick ONE Disney park and visit on ONE date from opening until closing. Send me your answers and tell me why you chose as you did. I'll post them as fast as I can. Then come back to this blog often to see what others have written.

Remember, there is no right or wrong answer to this question. It is very subjective. Just because I wouldn't pick the Magic Kingdom doesn't mean that it's not the perfect park for you. Also, it doesn't have to be simply about experiencing Disney history or future. It can be reliving a park when your kids were at that perfect age to appreciate all that Disney has to offer. Or visiting with a loved one that is no longer with us.

As you know, I'm always telling you to slow down and smell the roses. Today I'm asking you to stop and remember (or look forward). Think about the good times you have had or will have or wish you could have had at a Disney park.

So now it's time for me to choose. Which of the three dates that I presented would I select, Disneyland in late 1955, Disneyland in late 1969, or Shanghai Disneyland in 2035?

I don't know.

-----------------------------------------------

Hi everyone,

We're having some technical difficulties with the "Comments Section" for this blog. If you aren't able to add a comment, please check back later tonight or tomorrow to add your Time Machine thoughts.

Jack


January 7, 2013

Is it the Disneyland Resort or WDW? -- A Quiz - Questions

Jack Spence Masthead

Today's quiz will test your knowledge of the two American Disney resorts. The game is really quite simple. I will show you a picture and you will have to determine if it was taken at the Disneyland Resort or at Walt Disney World. That's all there is to it.

Since you have a 50-50 chance on each question, I expect you to get at least half of them correct. But try to do better than that. Try to figure out "why" the subject matter belongs to one resort and not the other.

Like all of my quizzes, no winner will be announced and no prizes awarded. The answers will appear in tomorrow's column.

Good luck!


1. Let's start with this picture of Schweitzer Falls. Is it located at Disneyland or the Magic Kingdom?


Schweitzer Falls


2. While riding Thunder Mountain we see the remains of a dinosaur. At which park is this petrified monster located?


Thunder Mountain Dinosaur


3. While we're on the subject of dinosaurs, where can these fellows be found, Disneyland or Epcot?


Dinosaurs


4. Here we have Mr. Potato Head. What do you think, Disney's Hollywood Studios or Disney California Adventure?


Mr. Potato Head


5. Where do you think Lightning McQueen was touring about on this fine day?


Lightning McQueen


6. Who do you think this judge is sentencing for grievous wrongdoings?


Judge


7. Prince Eric lives bicoastal. Where can we find this home of his?


Prince Eric Castle


8. The Rivers of America plays home to both the Mark Twain and the Liberty Belle. Which do we have here?


Riverboat


9. While circling the Rivers of America, we come across a tribe of Native Americans. Do the people in the next picture call Anaheim or Orlando home?


Native Americans


10. Which park do we find this sign advertising the Hollywood Tower Hotel?


Tower of Terror Sign


11. Here we have the Cozy Cone Motel located in Radiator Springs. But which Radiator Springs?


Cozy Cone Motel


12. Where is this restaurant that is bathed in perpetual nightfall?


Cozy Cone Motel


13. Where can these lovely hula dancers be found?


Hula Dancer


14. Here we have a picture of me ready to blast off on Space Mountain. At what park was I taking this journey?


Space Mountain


15. Here we see me riding Splash Mountain. Once again, at what park am I taking this journey?


Splash Mountain


16. This is a back alley I'd rather not find myself in after dark. So which resort offers this less than friendly venue?


Back Alley


17. At what pet cemetery can we find this dearly departed pig?


Rosie


18. Obviously, this next picture was taken on "it's a small world." This picture offers a blatant clue as to which park it is located in, Disneyland or the Magic Kingdom. Which is it?


it's a small world


19. Where can you play this carnival game?


Carnival Game


20. Where can we find this vehicle?


Tractor



December 3, 2012

Visit Disneyland - Part One

Jack Spence Masthead


I recently spent five days at the Disneyland Resort in California. It had been four years since my last visit and I needed to check out all the new additions to Disney California Adventure. While there, I started to think about all of my Walt Disney World readers who have never vacationed at this wonderful resort and decided to devote an entire article to convincing you to visit.


Disneyland Main Entrance


I know that many of you visit WDW every two to three years. I know others of you make a yearly trip to Orlando. And there is still another group of you that visits multiple times a year. You all love the magic and the wonderful experiences that can be found at the flagship of Disney resorts. Yet many of you have never visited the Disneyland Resort - and I simply don't understand why not.

I believe that many of you read my articles because I provide you with a Disney "fix" to hold you over until your next visit. But others of you enjoy my blogs for the details and trivia that I share about WDW. You thrive on the history of the parks and hotels. But in many ways, WDW pales in comparison when contrasted with the history and details that can be found at Disneyland. After all, this is where it all started. This is the park that Walt built. And even if Disneyland has changed dramatically since his death in 1966, Walt's mark on the park can still be seen if you know where to look.

If you're a regular reader, you know that I often start my articles about WDW with a look back at Disneyland. That's because there wouldn't be a WDW today if there wasn't first a Disneyland. Walt stated that it all started with a mouse, but the other 10 Disney theme parks around the world (soon to be 11 others) all started with this magnificent park in Anaheim.

The only reason I don't do in-depth articles about Disneyland is that I don't live nearby and can't do the in-person research and picture taking necessary to write a comprehensive piece. But believe me, if I lived nearby or could visit more regularly, I'd be covering this fantastic spot in much greater detail than I do today.

After my visit to Disneyland four years ago, I wrote an article comparing the Magic Kingdom to Disneyland. Not the resorts, just the two parks. In my humble opinion, Disneyland wins hands down. If you'd like to take a look at this blog, click here. Mind you, a few things have changed since I wrote this piece, but not significantly enough to change my opinion. Disneyland is the better park!

Although Disneyland is physically smaller than the Magic Kingdom, it has significantly more attractions. I took a look at the most current guide maps for both parks. Not counting character Meet-&-Greets (which both parks have), Disneyland has 48 attractions to the Magic Kingdom's 31. You can see everything offered at the Magic Kingdom in one day. It takes a day and a half (or two) to experience everything at Disneyland.

Another thing fun for you WDW visitors is attraction comparisons. (See my previous article.) It's wonderful to watch "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln" and realize that this was the humble beginnings of "Hall of Presidents." Although the same attraction, "it's a small world" is very different both inside and out at the two parks. And not only is "Big Thunder Mountain Railroad" located in a completely different section of Frontierland, they run mirror image to one another. Personally, I revel in these differences and think many of you would too.


Hall of Presidents


Disneyland also offers a number of attractions not found at the Magic Kingdom. Wouldn't you love to experience the "Matterhorn Bobsleds," "Storybook Land Canal Boats," and the "Sailing Ship Columbia?"


Matterhorn Bobsleds

Storybook Land Canal Boats

Sailing Ship Columbia


And how about reliving some of your old favorites like the "Submarine Voyage" (updated to include Nemo and Friends), "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride," and the "Davey Crockett Explorer Canoes?"


Submarine Voyage

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

Davey Crockett Explorer Canoes


You've heard the old adage, "Good things come in small packages." Well that's Disneyland. It definitely has fewer acres than the Magic Kingdom. Walt often spoke of the "blessing of size" when talking about WDW. But bigger isn't always better. Being a smaller park, the Imagineers have had to be more innovative in order to fit everything in. And this gives the park intimacy. I often tell people that (metaphorically) Disneyland wraps its arms around you and hugs you. The Magic Kingdom just says "welcome."

Of course, not only is Disneyland smaller than the Magic Kingdom, the entire Disneyland Resort is smaller than Walt Disney World. But this works to your advantage. The Disneyland Resort's second park, Disney California Adventure, is literally across a plaza from Disneyland. Park hopping is a breeze. There is no need to take a monorail, bus, boat, or car to go from one park to another. Just a short jaunt and you're there.


Plaza


I like the "new" Disney California Adventure - a lot! The $1.1 billion invested to refurbish this park has paid off in spades. It is now worthy to be called a "Disney" park. However, I'm not going to go into detail about DCA in this week's article. There is so much I want to talk about in regards to this rejuvenated park that I'm going to devote an entire article to it next week. Disney California Adventure is worth your attention.

Something to keep in mind about the Disneyland Resort, it caters to a local audience whereas WDW caters primarily to out-of-state visitors. Because of this, the hours of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are more erratic. They might open at 7am, 8am, 9am, or 10am on any given day. In addition, during the school year, Monday through Thursday is significantly slower than Friday through Sunday.

The Disneyland Resort's version of Downtown Disney can be found at the doorsteps of the two theme parks.


Downtown Disney


I like Disneyland's version of this shopping and eating mecca better than WDW's for several reasons. First, it was built all at once rather than in three segments (Marketplace, Pleasure Island, and Westside). This gives the area continuity that the Florida version lacks. Everything seems to flow better.

Another thing I like about Disneyland's Downtown Disney is the larger selection of non-Disney stores and merchandise. With a few exceptions, all Disney souvenirs are contained in one store, World of Disney. The rest of the arcade is filled with all sorts of interesting shops offering a wide array of tantalizing goodies.


Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney


Besides some of your favorite Disney World restaurants like Rainforest CafΓ© and Earl of Sandwich, Downtown Disney Disneyland offers a number of restaurants not found at its Florida cousin. Some of these include, Catal Restaurant, Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria, Goofy's Kitchen, Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen, and Tortilla Jo's.

At night, a number of musical groups line the thoroughfare, offering live entertainment to those passing by. This is something else missing at the Florida Downtown Disney.

That's it for Part One. Check back tomorrow as I'll be discussing the three Disney Anaheim hotels and I'll continue my efforts to get you to visit the Disneyland Resort.


February 6, 2010

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror -- Part Three

In Part One and Two of this blog series, I discussed in detail the Tower of Terror (TOT) attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios. In Part Three, I'm going to give you an overview of the other three TOT's around the world. Let's start with the second tower to be built.

Disney's California Adventure

Disney's California Adventure (DCA) did not open to the rave reviews Disney had hoped for. Beginning operation on February 8, 2001, it struggled for an audience. Guests continually compared it to Disneyland next store -- and there was no comparison. Something needed to be done. DCA needed more "E" attractions.

Since DCA has a "land" known as Hollywood Pictures Backlot, similar in concept to Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards at Disney's Hollywood Studios, the Imagineers looked to Florida to see what could be copied and brought to Anaheim. It didn't take too much thought to realize that the highly successful TOT would be a natural at the California park. However, there wasn't as much land in California as there is in Florida and the bean-counters wanted to spend less building the second tower. To accomplish this, the attraction would need to be redesigned significantly.


Hollywood PIctures Backlot


In Florida, guests board the elevators in four loading zones. Each elevator has its own ascent shaft and looks into its own, separate "hallway" sequence. Once the elevators reach the Fifth Dimension Room, two vehicles merge and share a single track and move toward one of the two drop shafts. Once the elevator finishes its ride and unloads its passengers, it completes the circuit and returns to the loading dock.

This configuration required a significant amount of land, something that was at a premium in California. Also, if one of the shafts was out of service, the ride's capacity was cut in half. In addition, the Fifth Dimension Room was prone to breakdowns. It was decided that a fresh look and redesign of the attraction could possibly remedy some of these problems and bring construction costs down.

First, the Imagineers eliminated the Fifth Dimension Room. Without this section of the ride, the elevators would not need to make a complete "circle" for each cycle. This would significantly reduce the footprint of the building. Now, loading and unloading would take place at the same location. However, to increase capacity, each shaft would load from one of two floors in the boiler room. As car "A" was loading on the ground floor, car "B", which had loaded from the second floor, was experiencing the ride. But since two cars cannot occupy the same shaft at the same time, the elevators travel horizontally between the shaft and loading platforms. And finally, a third drop-shaft was added to increase capacity. Now, if a problem occurs, only one third of the attraction is out of service while repairs are being made.


DCA Tower of Terror

DCA Tower of Terror

DCA Tower of Terror


It is interesting to note how similar, yet different the attractions are from one another. Take for instance the lobby. At a first glance, the DCA version looks just like the reception area in Florida, but upon closer inspection, you can see a number of subtle differences.


DCA Tower of Terro Lobby


The Imagineers felt bad about eliminating the popular Fifth Dimension Room. To make up for this, they added a new effect. Now the elevator makes a second stop on its journey to the top of the hotel. At this floor, the elevator doors open and you see a reflection of the car's inhabitants in a mirror hanging on the wall. Rod Serling tells us to "wave goodbye to the real world." A moment later, lightning strikes and electricity arcs around the mirror and everyone's face morphs into a ghostly green and eventually fades into nothingness. In the end, the mirror's reflection reveals only empty seats in your elevator.

Another change involved the hallway scene. In Florida, we see a window at the end of the hallway that eventually floats and breaks before us. But in California, we see an open elevator at the end of the hall. When you arrive at this floor, the narration says, "What happened here to dim the lights of Hollywood's brightest showplace is about to unfold once again." Then we see the doomed five appear then disappear, in the same manner as in Florida. But in California, they reappear in the open elevator at the end of the hall, which eventually drops out of sight, taking its passengers with it. A moment later, the elevator you are riding in also drops before making its numerous ascents and descents.

Tower of Terror opened at Disney's California Adventure on May 5, 2004. It is 183 feet tall, making it shorter than the Florida tower which is 199 feet in height. However, the California version extends 40 feet underground. Unofficial sources put the construction cost at $90M, $50M less than its cousin in Florida.

Tower of Terror is one of DCA's more popular attractions. And like all of its cousins around the world, the view from the top is fantastic. From here you can see the Disneyland Hotel, Disney's California Adventure, Downtown Disney, and much of Disneyland.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

Like Disney's California Adventure, The Walt Disney Studios in Paris was also suffering "theme park envy" when compared to Disneyland Paris next door. And once again, TOT came to the rescue. But unlike Florida and California, the Paris park did not have a comparable Hollywood street. One would have to be created to surround the tower.


Walt Disney Studios Hollywood Section


The Paris version of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is an extremely close copy of its cousin at Disney's California Adventure. Both were designed in the "Pueblo Deco" style of architecture which is the blending of Art Deco and Native American art from the Southwest U.S. In addition, it uses the same loading system as California and has no Fifth Dimension Room, but features the mirror effect.

Paris' TOT is also the only tower to present Rod Serling's introduction in a language other than English. As the library fills, the bellboy can change from the original English recording to a French narration. Serling's voice in the French version was dubbed by a vocal artist whose voice resembled the original dubbing of the "La QuatriΓ¨me Dimension" when the Twilight Zone TV show was shown in France. Both recordings feature subtitles in the opposite language.

The attraction opened on December 22, 2007. Here are a few pictures of it taken by my friend TDLFAN. Compare these to the pictures of the Disney's California Adventure tower and you can see they are practically twins.


Paris Tower of Terror

Paris Tower of Terror

Paris Tower of Terror

Paris Tower of Terror Lobby


This picture is from a Paris ad campaign.


Paris TOT Ad Campaign


Tokyo DisneySea

One of the "lands" at Tokyo DisneySea is called the American Waterfront. This section of the park is divided into three areas, New York City, New York Harbor, and Cape Cod. The time? Just after the turn of the 20th century.

One of the most recent additions to Tokyo DisneySea and the New York City section is the Tower of Terror. However, this tower varies in several ways from its cousins in the other Disney parks. In Paris and California, the exterior of the buildings have a Southwestern motif while in Florida the building has a Moroccan flavor. The Tower in Tokyo is built of red brick and has a gothic feel. To me, the Tokyo tower is the most elaborate and beautiful of the four.


Tokyo DisneySea TOT

Tokyo DisneySea TOT


Another change to the Tokyo attraction was necessitated because the Japanese are not familiar with the Twilight Zone television series. To remedy this, the Imagineers came up with a completely new storyline. Since the tours of the hotel are presented in Japanese, English speaking guests are given a handout explaining the storyline. The following five paragraphs are a direct quote from that handout.

"Welcome to the 'Tower of Terror' tour, presented by The New York City Preservation Society. On New Year's Eve in 1899, explorer, antiquities collector and multi-millionaire Harrison Hightower III held a press conference in the luxurious Hotel Hightower to announce his latest find - a statue called 'Shiriki Utundu' which he had acquired in a remote region of Africa.


Shiriki Utundu


That very night, the hotel's main elevator crashed to the ground with Hightower and the idol inside! Shiriki Utundu was recovered from the shattered elevator, but of Harrison Hightower III there was no sign. He had vanished. After his disappearance, Hotel Hightower was closed. People began calling it the 'Tower of Terror.'

Rumor has it that Shiriki Utundu is a cursed statue, and that it may have something to do with the disappearance of Mr. Hightower.

As you tour this magnificent building and view Harrison Hightower's collection of rare art from across the globe, you will also hear about the mystery of his disappearance.

The tour climaxes with a ride on the service elevator up to the top floor to see Mr. Hightower's penthouse. Please enjoy the ride."


Tour Sign in Queue


Unlike the other three towers, the queue for the Tokyo version actually christcrosses its way through the lobby.


TOT DisneySea Lobby


In the pre-show room, we see a stained-glass likeness of Harrison Hightower and a statue of Shiriki Utundu sitting on a pedestal. As the story unfolds Mr. Hightower's image changes from an arrogant robber-baron to a very fearful man. Then the lights dim and Shiriki Utundu disappears from sight. The effects are excellent and sets the stage for the terror to come.


Stained-Glass Window


From here we enter the storerooms that house Mr. Hightower's vast collection of art that he's commandeered from around the world. Eventually, we're taken to an elevator for our journey to the penthouse. An interesting note, the elevators in Tokyo's tower have shoulder harnesses as well as lap restraints. Shiriki Utundu continues to play a major roll during your rise and fall and appears over and over again.


TOT Storeroom


The exterior of the building also adds a bit of excitement to the show. Before each elevator drops, a flash of green light erupts from Mr. Hightower's penthouse and then the light travels to the window of the next elevator to fall.

Photographs of Harrison Hightower can be seen throughout the attraction. A keen eye will notice that Mr. Hightower bears a striking resemblance to Joe Rohde, designer of the Animal Kingdom.


Harrison Hightower


TOT opened at Tokyo DisneySea on September 4, 2006. I can't say that the Tokyo version of this attraction is better than the other Towers around the world. But with the storyline being so different, it does add a new excitement level. The Tokyo attraction does not have the 4th dimension room like the one in Florida. Instead, the elevator makes a second stop on its way to the top as do the Towers in California and Paris.

This completes my blog series about the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. I think the Imagineers outdid themselves when dreaming up this magnificent attraction. No matter how many times I ride, I keep discovering new details.

November 8, 2008

Disneyland vs Magic Kingdom Part 2

In my last blog I wrote about the attractions that Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom share and offered comparisons. In this blog, I'm going to list all of the attractions that exist only at Disneyland any then only at the Magic Kingdom. Of course, I'll be keeping score and each attraction will receive a point.

MAIN STREET

Disneyland: The First 50 Years: This film replaced Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and presents guests with an entertaining history of the park.

Main Street Cinema: That's right folks. This area of Main Street has not been converted into another shop like at the Magic Kingdom. You can still view old Mickey Mouse cartoons here. Yea!


Main Street Cinema


Penny Arcade & Magic Shop: Although much of the Penny Arcade has been converted into a shop, there are still a number of old time machines to amuse the curious - far more than at Casey's Corner at the Magic Kingdom. Also, the Magic Shop still exists on Main Street. Unlike the Magic Kingdom, it hasn't been converted to yet another Disney-only merchandising area. These two factors are enough to garner another point.

ADVENTURELAND

Indiana Jones Adventure: This is a fantastic ride. Even though it uses the same type vehicle and track layout as Dinosaur in the Animal Kingdom, there is no comparison. This ride is sheer genius.


Indiana Jones


FRONTIERLAND

Sailing Ship Columbia: I realize that the sights and sounds you encounter around the Rivers of America are the same as those on the Mark Twain, but this is a different attraction and a different experience can be had on this ride. First, the ship is very interesting to explore, both above and below deck. But also, two cast members (not a recording) narrate the trip with a humorous spiel.


Columbia Sailing Ship


Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes: Why did Disney remove this attraction from the Magic Kingdom? Even if you weren't paddling your way around the Rivers of America, they were still visually appealing to see plying the waterways. I'm so glad they're still available at Disneyland.


Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes


Big Thunder Ranch: This area is used and reused for a number of special events. A petting farm can also be found here.

FANTASYLAND

Alice In Wonderland: A great dark ride that follows Alice into the rabbit hole.

Storybook Land Canal Boats: Here you sail past the miniature world of some of Disney's beloved fairytale characters.


Storybook Land Canal Boats


Casey Jr. Circus Train: A great favorite of children and adults that takes another look at Storybook Land.


Casey Jr. Circus Train


Mr. Toad's Wild Ride: Unlike many, I didn't have a problem with the removal of this attraction from the Magic Kingdom to make room for the more contemporary Winnie the Pooh. But I'm very glad it can still be experienced at Disneyland.

Pinocchio's Daring Journey: Another great dark ride that follows Pinocchio and his conscience to Pleasure Island and beyond.

Matterhorn Bobsleds: The first thrill ride at Disneyland and the first coaster to use tubular steel for tracks. This is a perennial favorite.


Matterhorn Bobsleds:


Sleeping Beauty Walkthrough: Currently under an extensive rehab, this quaint attraction allows guests to venture into Sleeping Beauty Castle and view vignettes of the princess' life.

Snow White's Grotto: A magical spot next to Sleeping Beauty Castle. Many a marriage proposal has taken place here.


Snow White's Grotto


MICKEY'S TOONTOWN

Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin: In this dark ride guests ride in Benny the Cab and turn the vehicle in circles with the steering wheel (similar to the Mad Tea Party) as they ride along a track while retreating from the weasels.


Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin


Goofy's Playhouse: Only children are allowed in Goofy's house where they can literally bounce off the cushioned walls.

Chip 'n Dale Treehouse: Although adults are welcome, children will feel more at home in the chipmunk's home.

TOMOROWLAND

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage: Although some of the sights are similar to Epcot's "The Seas with Nemo and Friends," I don't feel it's fair to compare the two. The experience is completely different when climbing into a submarine rather than riding in a clamshell. It's a shame Disney retired the submarines at the Magic Kingdom. Nemo would have fit much better into Fantasyland than it does in Tomorrowland or Epcot.


Submarine


Now it's time to list the attractions found only at the Magic Kingdom. Since most of my readers are more familiar with Disney World, I'll skip any explanation of the attractions. Once again, each attraction gets a point.

Magic Carpets of Aladdin

Country Bear Jamboree

Hall of the Presidents

Mickey's PhilharMagic

Fairytale Garden

Ariel's Grotto

Pooh's Playful Spot

Tomorrowland Transit Authority

Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress

Stitch's Great Escape

Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor

I have to give the Magic Kingdom a point simply because it is larger and handles crowds better than Disneyland.

However, I also have to give Disneyland a point because it is smaller, giving the guest a more intimate (magical) feel.

So, here's the final tally:

Disneyland 29

Magic Kingdom 17

So there you have it, absolute, mathematical proof that Disneyland is far superior to the Magic Kingdom by twelve points.

November 7, 2008

Disneyland vs. Magic Kingdom Part 1

I just got back from vacation. A portion of my trip was spent visiting the Disneyland Resort in California. For those of you who have read my bio, you know that I grew up in Anaheim and visited Disneyland often during my childhood. When I turned eighteen I got a job at the Blue Bayou Restaurant and worked there and at the Club 33 for nine years. I love this park.

When I returned from vacation I decided to write a 100% biased comparison of Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom. Please note, I'm only comparing the parks, not the resorts. I know everyone has a belief as to which park is better, so I decided to settle the argument once and for all with my prejudiced, yet scientific method. I will start by comparing duplicate attractions, giving one point to what I believe to be the better ride or show.


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MAIN STREET

Disneyland Railroad / Walt Disney World Railroad: First, Disneyland has four stations to Disney World's three. But more importantly, the Grand Canyon Diorama and Primeval World easily makes Disneyland's train the better attraction.


Primeval World Disneyland


Main Street Vehicles: Even though Disneyland runs their vehicles more frequently than Disney World, I would have to rate these attractions as equals.

ADVENTURELAND

Jungle Cruise: Walt Disney World easily beats Disneyland since it has the indoor temple section.


Jungle Cruise


Enchanted Tiki Room / Under New Management: Disneyland still features the original show (albeit shortened slightly). I find "Under New Management" at Disney World obnoxious. Disneyland wins this one.


Tiki Room


Swiss Family / Tarzan Treehouse: I really like the fact that Disneyland's treehouse has been updated with a Tarzan theme. Most kids today aren't familiar with the Swiss Family Robinson. However, the tree at Disney World is larger and negotiating the stairs is much easier. I'd have to rate these attractions as different but equal.

Pirates of the Caribbean (Located in New Orleans Square at Disneyland): Anyone who has ridden this attraction at both parks knows that California's version is vastly superior to Florida's. The ride is almost twice as long, has two waterfalls, and has a number of scenes that are missing from the Magic Kingdom's version. I'd like to give Disneyland two points from this attraction, but will stick to my rules and only give it one.


Pirates of the Caribbean


FRONTIERLAND

Mark Twain / Liberty Belle Riverboat (located in Liberty Square): The boats are similar as are the sights along the way. I'll call it a draw.

Big Thunder Mountain: The rides are mirror images of each other, but overall, I think the experience is about the same. The Magic Kingdom has the washed-out town that you ride through, but Disneyland has the town of Rainbow Ridge in its queue area. Another draw.

Tom Sawyer Island / Pirates Lair: I have always thought that Disneyland's Island had more to offer than Disney Worlds (more caves and more rocks to climb on). And with the new pirate theming being added in California, I'd definitely have to give Disneyland the nod.


Tom Sawyer Island


Splash Mountain (Located in Critter Country at Disneyland): The Disney World attraction is slightly larger and has side-by-side seats whereas Disneyland has a bench you straddle. Thumbs up for Disney World.


Splash Mountain


Shootin' Gallery: Equal

LIBERTY SQUARE / NEW ORLEANS SQUARE

Haunted Mansion: The exterior of both mansions are beautiful in their own way, but I feel the recent updates to the Florida attraction and the additional scenes of the piano player and library give this haunted house the edge. However, because Disneyland offers the magnificent Nightmare Before Christmas overlay for three months out of the year, I'll call this a tie.

FANTASYLAND

"it's a small world": The basic experience is about the same at both parks, but the exterior of Disneyland's attraction and the Christmas overlay make the California version the winner over Disney World.


Disneyland's its a Small World


The following attractions may have subtle differences, but overall, I'd have to rate them as equal:

Snow White's Scary Adventures - Disneyland / Disney World

Peter Pan's Flight - Disneyland / Disney World

King Arthur / Cinderella's Golden Carousel

Mad Tea Party - Disneyland / Disney World

Dumbo the Flying Elephant: Even though the basic ride is the same, the attraction is visually more appealing at Disneyland due to the fountains and calliope. I'd have to vote for California over Florida.


Dumbo the Flying Elephant


Sleeping Beauty / Cinderella Castle: Even though this is not an attraction, the castle at Disney World is awe inspiring. It deserves a point.


Cinderella Castle


The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (located in Critter Country at Disneyland): Although the Disneyland and Disney World versions are slightly different, I can't say that one is really any better than the other. Tie.

TOMORROWLAND

Space Mountain: Disneyland's version has synchronized music (similar to Rock N Roller Coaster). I understand that Disney World's version will be adding this feature in the future, but until then, California wins the space race.


Space Mountain


Autopia / Tomorrowland Indy Speedway: I think the Disney World's version is boring. You drive around a figure-eight with little to see along the way. On the other hand, at Disneyland you drive on an elaborate roadway with different tracks taking different routes. Also, there are a number of sights to see along the way. Another thumbs up for California.


Disneyland's Autopia


Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin / Astro Blasters: The simple fact that the lasers are attached via flexible cables at Disneyland, allowing guests to pick up the guns for better aiming, gives Disneyland a definite edge.


Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters


Astro Orbitor / Astro Orbiter (Note, "Orbitor/er" is spelled differently at the two parks): I was very disappointed when the "powers that be" moved Disneyland's rocket jets from their high perch to the ground-level entrance of Tomorrowland. Disney World's jets still sit well above Tomorrowland and this makes their attraction much more exciting. Score another point for Florida.


Astro Orbitor


Starcade/Tomorrowland Arcade: Both venues offer a large assortment of video games. Another tie.

Star Tours: Here things get a little more difficult. Since this attraction is located at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida, it's difficult to know whether it should be included in the comparison. But since the attractions are identical, I'm just going to call it a draw. Disneyland's version.

Monorail: Once again, this attraction is more difficult to compare because at Disneyland it is part of Tomorrowland while at Disney World, it never enters the park. Still, I think the monorail in Florida is superior due to its larger size so I'll award a point to Disney World.


Monorail WDW


Innoventions: Although not present at the Magic Kingdom, it does exist at Epcot with more displays than Disneyland's Tomorrowland version. I'll give a point to Florida for this one.


Innoventions


Honey I Shrunk the Audience: Like Innoventions, this attraction is in Disneyland's Tomorrowland and Epcot in Florida. But in this case, the movies are identical so we have another tie.

MICKEY'S TOONTOWN / FAIR

Disneyland deserves a point simply because their Toontown is twice the size of Florida's. For basic "strolling through the area" there is no comparison. California wins due to the multitude of "gags" that can be discovered in the Downtown area of this land.


Toontown in Disneyland


I think Minnie's House, Mickey's House, and Donald's boat are all so similar it would be unfair to pick one over another.

Gadget's Go Coaster / The Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm: Although the theming is completely different, both are kiddy coasters and offer the same excitement for the little ones. A tie.

That's it for shared attractions. In my next blog, I'm going to list all of the attractions that exist only at Disneyland and only at WDW.

May 11, 2008

Adventureland - Magic Kingdom - History Lesson

Q: Do you know why Adventureland is located on the west side of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World?

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A: It's because Adventureland is located on the west side of Disneyland in Anaheim. When planning the Magic Kingdom, Imagineers used Disneyland's layout as a starting point when designing their new park.

Q: Do you know why Adventureland is located on the west side of Disneyland?

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A: Original plans called for the "True Life Adventures" (later to become the Adventureland) to be located on the east side of the park between Main Street and "World of Tomorrow" (later to become Tomorrowland). This can be seen in an early concept drawing by Herb Ryman.

Herb Ryman Concept Drawing Disneyland

But while surveying the orange groves that would eventually become Disneyland, planners found a windbreak of giant eucalyptus trees that had been planted around the turn of the century. Ironically, these trees helped determine the location of Main Street as it was decided that they would make a nice backdrop behind City Hall and help delineate between "civilization" and the "jungles of the world." Thus, Adventureland was moved to its current location on the west side of the park.

These trees, now over a hundred years old, are clearly visible in an early Disneyland postcard and are still visible today.


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About Disneyland

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The β€œWorld” According to Jack in the Disneyland category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Disney California Adventure is the previous category.

Disneyland Paris is the next category.

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