Sunday, March 30, 2008

From the Lens of a Nine Year Old...

I gave our nine year old our older digital camera. He took 252 pictures today at the Animal Kingdom. I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree...

Just wanted to share two of his more artistic pictures.

Our First Park!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Geek-End Update, March 29, 2008

I am at Walt Disney World this week--with very limited Internet access--so the postings will be Live Updates From the Parks! There won't be another Geek-End Update until April 12.

Neener, neener, neener....

Thursday, March 27, 2008

EPCOT Center Mystery

Brian Martsolf (Big Brian) e-mailed me for help identifying a logo that he found on a pin at the Epcot: Creating the World of Tomorrow Gallery in Innoventions West.

The one we couldn't figure out was the red "K" inside of the hexagon.

I flipped though my Walt Disney's EPCOT Center book and it didn't lead me anywhere. There are a few corporations that have sponsored attractions that aren't displayed in the photo: General Electric, Exxon, General Motors, Kraft and Sperry. Kraft makes sense except that they used the traditional Kraft logo (spelled out) in the early 1980's. We even wondered if it was a logo for one of the private companies that helped to sponsor pavilions in World Showcase? Any thoughts? (And it isn't Circle K!)

Brian runs WDW in Postcards--a truly amazing site that details the history of Walt Disney World through postcards. He also produces the Mousin' It Up podcast and writes for Allears.

You can see the original photo on Big Brian's Flickr page.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Well-Read Mouse!

We spent close to an hour wandering around Mickey's House in Toontown at Disneyland. The details were amazing!

It is obvious from Mickey's shelves, that he is an avid reader.

  • Five Cheesy Pieces
  • Ben Fur
  • Little Mouse on the Prairie

  • Of Men and Mice
  • Portrait of the Artist as a Young Mouse

  • See You Next Squeak
  • Happy Poems
  • A Tree Grows in Toontown
  • Color My Mouse by Ginni Barr-Ruscio
  • Mouse of Cards

  • Pluto's Better Bones in Gardens
  • A Trip to the Toon by H. Cheese Wells
  • Gadgets 'N' Gizmos by J. Shull

  • 2001: A Mouse Odyssey
  • The Great Goofby

  • Cheese and Peace
  • Mice Station Zebra
  • Random Mouse Dictionary Edited by A. Verity
  • Moby Duck
  • The Toon Almanac 1954
  • Toons Along the Mohawk

  • The Whole Mouse Catalogue
  • Minniean's Rainbow
  • Waiting For Pluto
  • Mouse of Wax

  • Directions in Tooning
  • The Information Cheese Almanac

  • Oh No, Chrono! by E. Kicken
  • Great Stories, Amazing Facts
  • The Mouse That Roared, A Novel by C. Bothi
  • The Great Mouse Detective
  • Mousetrap: Friend or Foe: 101 Ways Around a Mousetrap, A Guide by J. Crouch

Monday, March 24, 2008

Indiana Jones Meets Adventureland!

When designing a possible Star Wars attraction in the early 1980's, the Imagineers were also looking at the Indiana Jones property for Adventureland. In Disneyland's existence, Adventureland was the only land that had not received an update in more than 30 years--since the 1964 Jungle Cruise additions. Dr. Jones would finally arrive in Adventureland in 1995. At the same time, the Jungle Cruise received a new two-story loading dock to replace the 1955 Harper Goff design. In 1999, the Swiss Family Treehouse closed and was re-imagined as Tarzan's Treehouse. For the 50th Anniversary of Disneyland, Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room was revamped to add new seating, a better sound system and new "clothes" for the birds. It still retains the original 1963 show. Most of Adventureland is now themed to go along with the 1930's Indiana Jones time period.

One of the ideas proffered by the Imagineering team for the Indiana Jones attraction was inspired by the runaway mine car from the 1984 motion picture Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom...but Disneyland already had its own mine car ride with Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. As stated in Disneyland: the Nickel Tour: "In fact, some of the mine car effects heard in the film are actual recordings of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in action!" (Gordon, p. 340)

In The Art of Disneyland, there is some amazing concept artwork and the following image is one of my favorites.

Click in the image for a larger view.

This was one of the major blue sky ideas for a revamp of Adventureland that would have merged the Jungle Cruise, the Disneyland Railroad, the Indiana Jones Adventure and a mine car coaster (with a loop!) into one massive attraction.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Discovery Island: The Early Years

Discovery Island, situated on Bay Lake, has endured many names and identities over the years. More so than its name changes, I thought that we should look into the history of this dormant attraction.

The Island was one of the spots that caught Walt's eyes when they were looking for property near Orlando. He would fly over Central Florida in the company jet and this island caused him to set aside the surrounding property as the first to be developed.

Island History

Jeff Kurtti's Since the World Beganhas an excellent section on the island that details the history. It was called Raz Island from 1900 to 1937 from the family that lived and farmed there. Delmar Nicholson, Florida's first disc jockey, purchased the area in the late 1930's. He lived on the island with his wife and a pet sand crane. When he fell ill, Nick sold the island to some local businessmen who used it as a hunting retreat. Disney purchased the land in 1965. (Kurtti, p. 53)

The island was named Blackbeard's Island when Walt Disney World opened. It appeared on guide maps but development of the island didn't start until 1974. At that time, 55,000 cubic yards of soil were used to build up the island's acreage. It was renamed Treasure Island and opened on April 7, 1974. It was closed from January to March 1976 for a renovation that included a snack bar and an aviary. When it re-opened on April 1976, it was finally named Discovery Island. The Island was accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association in 1978 and functioned as a breeding facility for rare birds. Discovery Island became renowned for its bird, plant and tortoise populations. (Kurtti, p. 53) The island was officially closed on April 8, 1999 after many of the conservation and breeding efforts were moved to the Animal Kingdom.

For more information, visit the Treasure Island page at Widen Your World.

Treasure Island

I ran across an old guide map for Treasure Island at Tim Gerdes' Better Living Through Imagineering Flickr site. He was kind enough to let me use it for the article.

Sail the Seven Seas of Walt Disney World to an island filled with tropic beauty, colorful birds, and the mystery of Ben Gunn's buried treasure!

Future Attractions:
In the future, other attractions will be added to Treasure Island...inspired by the famous Robert Louis Stevenson story. Among these features will be...
  • Billy Bone's Dilemma...Captain Flint's first mate falls prey to the perils of the open sea.
  • The Blockhouse...Site of the battle for the treasure map. "Though fully armed...we were still out-numbered by Long John Silver's buccaneers!"
  • Spy Glass Hill...A fantastic group of rocks in the heart of the island. In this primeval playground, you'll discover the secrets of this treasure isle!
  • Ben Gunn's Cave...As mysterious as the strange hermit himself. Its exact location is unknown even today...but we know it's someplace on the island!
  • Wreck of the Hispaniola...This seagoing vessel led by Captain Smollet, once anchored here in search of buried treasure...only to be overtaken by her mutinous crew, headed by the self-appointed captain. Long John Silver! She was later ran ashore by the brave young Jim Hawkins...never to sail again!
The Wreck of the Hispaniola (or should we call it the Walrus?).

Friday, March 21, 2008

Geek-End Update, March 22, 2008

  • Foxxfur has updated our Minute-By-Minute blog with an article about her quest for coffee. Having tasted the Disney coffee on both coasts, I'm not sure how pretty this is going to be!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Plaza School of Art

In Disneyland, above the Main St. Photo Supply Company at the hub end of Main St. USA, is a wonderful window.

Plaza School of Art

Herb - He did the first rendering of Disneyland for Walt and he did design work for Sleeping Beauty Castle, New Orleans Square and the Indiana Jones Adventure. A Brush with Disney: An Artist's Journey, Told through the words and works of Herbert Dickens Ryman

John - He did the original concept and design for Space Mountain and largely responsible for the look of every Disney theme park. Author of Designing Disney: Imagineering and the Art of the Show.

Peter - He did the painting of Disneyland that Walt used on the television show, he was a matte painter for Mary Poppins and painter for WED. The Garden Within: The Art of Peter Ellenshaw.

Truly an inspiring window. Teaching the rest of the world what a theme park is supposed to look like.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Disneyland Review on the WDW Radio Show

This week on the WDW Radio Show, Lou invited Jeff, Eric and myself to discuss our recent Disneyland trip.

Download the podcast (it's free and you can listen to it on your computer) and discover:
  • Eric's favorite ride,
  • Who got to Disneyland first,
  • Where Jeff got left behind,
  • What Lou stepped in and, of course,
  • Our favorite eats!
We discuss the differences in the parks and offer our opinions on Why Every WDW Fan Should Visit Disneyland.

Bringing You More Geeks in More Places!

As an extra, here was the view from the room:

Monday, March 17, 2008

The New Imagineers Strike Back!

It's time for week three of March Madness for the Imaginerding showdown between your favorite Imagineers. First off, let's recap...

In week one, Sklar and Hench cruised to victory on the collective shoulders of over 30% of our readers. In week two, X and Broggie had similar landslide wins, crushing some serious competition. This week, we will judge six Imagineers who are still pimpin' dreams for Disney.

Remember, the two winners from each of the three weekly polls will square off in a winner takes all bonanza. The final Imagineer standing will receive one complete back waxing from George as well as signed copy of Andrew's new book, Chicken Soup for the Nerd.

Here are the new recruits for this week's soiree:
  • Jason Surrell
  • John Lasseter
  • Tony Baxter
  • Wing Chao
  • Tom Fitzgerald
  • Bruce Vaughn

Yes, I know some of these Imagineers now hold executive positions. Official Imaginerding poll rules state in fine print (section 34B, line 16, article 4) that I can choose who I want and you can comment me into oblivion if you so choose. Please drop a little Geek Love on us and let us know who we missed!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Carolwood-Pacific: Fair-Weather Route

In the Spring 2008 edition of The Disney Files, a DVC member publication, there is an article on the dedication of the Carolwood Pacific Room at the Villas at the Wilderness Lodge.

In the article, Michael Broggie (son of Richard Broggie) talks about Walt's first miniature railroad in his Holmby Hills backyard. Roger helped Walt build the 1/8 scale railroad and Walt ran it from 1950-1953.

Young Michael Broggie, whose father, Roger, was one of the studio staffers who helped build Walt's railroad, was among the few children outside of the Disney family to ride aboard the Carolwood Pacific.

"I vividly remember my first ride, straddling one of those train cars as it rocked back and forth," Michael recalled. "I remember entering a long tunnel, which was absolutely pitchblack. You could hear the chugging of the engine echoing off of this long tunnel. You could smell and taste the coal smoke. You could feel the vibration of the track. Walt had created a sensational experience that touched every one of your senses.

Decades later, with trains surrounding Disney Parks across the globe, Michael helped Imagineers assemble a detailed collection of Carolwood Pacific Railroad artifacts for the main gathering space of The Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge. When the resort opened in 2000, everything was perfect. Almost.

"The Iron Spike Room name fit the railroad theme, but I wanted to see the name truly represent the backyard railroad that played such an important role in Disney history', Michael said.

Remembering the "four Cs" Walt taught him during the early Disneyland years (Curiosity, Confidence, Courage and Constancy), Michael worked through the years with Imagineers to change the name to the Carolwood Pacific Room.

"It looks fantastic,” Michael said as he unveiled one of two brass signs bearing the new moniker. "This is the real deal."

--p. 21, Disney Files Magazine, Spring 2008, Vol. 17 No. 1

The case in the Carolwood Pacific room with the two trains from Walt's Holmby Hills line has the following inscription:

In 1950, prior to Disneyland Park, Walt Disney created a miniature one-eighth-scale live steam railroad at his family's Carolwood estate in the Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles. These are two of the original freight cars built in the Studio's Machine Shop by Roger Broggie for the Carolwood Pacific Railroad. Passengers rode on the cars traveling over 2,615 feet of track that ran through-out the five-acre property on Carolwood Drive.

Special thanks to Tim Gerdes. He was gracious enough to share these photos from his flicker account at Better Living Through Imagineering.

For more information about Walt Disney and the Disneyland Railroad, check out these two titles: Walt Disney's Railroad Story: The Small-Scale Fascination That Led to a Full-Scale Kingdom and Welcome Aboard the Disneyland Railroad!