Saturday, December 31, 2011

You Want Disney Links?

A photograph of the painting that Minnie Mouse was doing of Goofy's Barnstormer. If you looked out the window of Minnie's House, you could see the Barnstormer attraction. Obviously, Minnie painted this before it was turned into an attraction. I do hope that the Imagineering Archives saved the painting.

On with the Disney-related links for this week.

Concierge Level Vacation Planning at No Additional Cost to You!

George also writes food related pieces over at the Disney Food Report where he focuses on the nerdier side of Disney dining. He is also a travel agent with Pixie Vacations and you can email him at for free vacation planning and help booking your next Disney vacation. For fun and quirky Disney links you can follow him on twitter @biblioadonis.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Skyway at the Magic Kingdom

In operation from October 1, 1971 to November 10, 1999, the Skyway at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom outlasted the Disneyland attraction by 5 years and the Tokyo Disneyland version by one year.

Let's take a trip from Tomorrowland to Fantasyland.

The first two photographs are from the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. I love how the second image has so much of the pylon in it.

Is this how you properly frame a photo?
The rest of the pictures are from the Skyway gondola bucket proper as we head languidly towards Fantasyland.
I love the scope of Tomorrowland you can see here.

Obviously, this trip was in 1997.

Does turning the camera sideways make it more artistic? The Castle Cake in all of its glory.

Yes, that is Mickey's Toontown in the background. Goofy's Barnstormer is obvious. Did you notice his pants ?

At this time 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea had been closed for a few years. It was still a beautiful body of water to glide over.

Fantasyland is always busy. This is an interesting anlge since you can see the it's a small world show building and Arial's Grotto.
Check out all of the people waiting in line for Dumbo the Flying Elephant. If you look a little closer, you can see that the queue is covered with umbrellas!

I have always been surprised by the lack of photos I took on vacations before owning a digital camera. But with each trip, I took more and more photos.

Do you have any vintage Disney photos you want to share?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Disney ebooks for the Amazon Kindle

Did you get a Kindle device over the holidays and are you looking for some great ebooks?

There is a lot of Disney-related content out there and I want to share some with you. You can fill up your Kindle for your next vacation or start to build your electronic Disney library.

Travel Guides to Walt Disney World
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Monday, December 26, 2011

Vinyl Leaves: Walt Disney World and America, a Book Review

The movie Swiss Family Robinson—based on Johan Wyss's takeoff on Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe—is one in which, as in all "Disney versions," art and history are transformed by dilution. So we have a fake tree holding a fake treehouse, representing a fake story told in a different medium from, but alluding to, a classic piece of literature, in an amusement park visited by 30 million people a year, most of whom are, like myself, enchanted.
I love that quote from page two of Vinyl Leaves. It is a great summation of what to expect from the rest of the book.

Author Stephen Fjellman is Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Florida International University. It was obvious that he spent an inordinate amount of time visiting Walt Disney World and he turned his passion into one of the first academic works on Walt Disney World.

Vinyl Leaves can be seen as two different books:
  • A sociological look at Disney, Walt Disney World and America's view of Disney. Fjellman spends time looking at how Disney tells stories through film, theme park attractions and buildings.
  • A time capsule of Walt Disney World from (around 1989 to) 1991. Fjellman offers a walk-through of almost every attraction at Walt Disney World. It is actually a pretty impressive feat to have documented Walt Disney World and it is amazing to read the attraction descriptions 20 years later.
It is hard to describe Vinyl Leaves outside of the context presented above. It is a socilogical/anthroplogical treatise that wanes between graduate level discourse and an overly-detailed travel guide. Most Disney enthusiasts will find themseslves skipping entire chapters of the book when Fjellmean wades into serious discourse that doesn't discuss the parks at all. It is mainly a look at sociological constructs and Americana.

One of the most amazing parts of the book is the Notes section. Laugh all you want, but the Notes section is 87 pages (roughly 18% of the total book) dedicated to every source Fjellman used as well as more detailed notes about attractions. I can appreciate Fjellman not using footnotes, but I found myself spending as much time reading the notes as the actual text. I hope that this book will be converted into an appropriate ebook where the notes could be a more streamlined part of the book. Still, Walt Disney World researchers and historians are going to be praising Fjellman for years.

This book is for three different types of people: sociologists and anthropologists; Disney fans looking to explore older attractions; and Disney enthusiasts and historians that are looking for primary sources. Fjellman has written a lot of theoretical explanations for why Disney presents something in a certain way or why guests react to an attraction in specific ways. It is quite enlightening and might cause you to see the attractions in different lights. Especially when a corporate sponsor is at the helm of an attraction, like during the early days of EPCOT Center.

Fjellman approached the book as a fan of Walt Disney World that has the ability to point a critical eye at his surroundings. He never bashed Disney and he never donned rose-colored Mouse Ears. He sits comfortably as a very well educated Disney fan that can discern what Disney is presenting and still enjoy it.

Vinyl Leaves is not for the casual Walt Disney World fan. Based solely on the sections that describe the attractions, this book easily makes it into my top ten books about Disney. If you have a vested interest in studying the theme parks' history then this is a definite must have.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Disney Links

A view of the Disney Hollywood Studios that you can't get any longer. When the Sorcerer's Hat was constructed, the Disney-MGM Studios tree was moved to the entrance plaza. This photo was taken in December, 2000.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Disneyland Mickey Mouse Wreath

Looking for a more traditional Mickey wreath?

The following craft is from the Winter 1995 Disney Magazine (check out the Fort Wilderness wreath here).

A holiday trademark on the lampposts of Main Street, U.S.A., the Mickey wreath will be replaced with a surprise this year. So here's how to make a smaller one for your door at home. 
  • 1 plain greenery wreath, 12" to 24" in diameter 
  • 2 smaller plain greenery wreaths, 8" to 10” in diameter 
  • 2 yards of 2 1/2-to-3 inch wide red ribbon, wired or plain 
  • 9 to 15 2” to 3" holiday ornaments 
  • Heavy-gauge wire (18-gauge works well) 
  • Green pipe cleaners 
Tools needed: 
  • Wire cutters 
  • Scissors 
  • Hot glue gun (optional) 
Attach the smaller wreaths (the ears) to the large wreath (the head) with lengths of wire. If the ears flop, secure them with additional wire or a dab of hot glue. If hanging the wreath on a door, simply tack up the ears with a nail or two. To attach the ornaments to the head, insert a pipe cleaner or other light wire through the hook of the ornament and down through the greenery of the head wreath. Twist the wires to secure the ornament in place. If ornaments lack hooks, glue them in place.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fort Wilderness Wreath - How to Make Your Own

The Winter 1995 issue of the defunct Disney Magazine has a 6-page blowout dedicated to Holiday in the Parks and they cover the main events happening during the 1995 Christmas season (including the Disney Institute's first Christmas). One of the craft projects is how to make your own Fort Wilderness wreath! This could be a fun project to do leading up to this holiday. Especially if you have some excited, bored and crafty people at home.

When designing holiday ornaments for the different Walt Disney World resorts, Christmas Services supervisor Belinda Robertson asks herself, “What do you find when you walk out the backdoor?" At Fort Wilderness, you find woods — so the resort's wreaths feature apples, pinecones, and grapevine. For real country flair, Robertson suggests substituting a red bandanna for the traditional red bow.  
  • 18-inch Scotch pine artificial wreath 
  • 20 inches of grapevine 
  • 3 pinecone flowers 
  • 5 sprigs of white and green holly 
  • 3 dried pods 
  • 10 pinecones, assorted sizes 
  • 20 artificial apples, varying sizes 
  • Floral wire 
Place the wreath on a flat surface. Unravel the grapevine and weave it through the wreath, twisting wreath branches around the vine in four or five places to secure it. Use floral wire to attach the remaining items. Be sure to scatter the apples, pinecones, pinecone flowers, pods, and holly around the wreath, rather than clumping the items together.
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Earth Station and the WorldKey Kiosks at EPCOT Center

In the early days of EPCOT Center, Disney had a lot that needed to get accomplished in regards to PR about the park. One of the features of Spaceship Earth was Earth Station (where Project Tomorrow is currently). Earth Station was the first Guest Services area for EPCOT Center and it was also an orientation center for the theme park with seven large video screens that previewed the attractions and pavilions.

Concept art for Earth Station. Notice the screens and the attraction vehicle?
In 1982, computers were still a mystery to most people. Another thing that Disney wanted EPCOT Center to do was educate people on how computers could be used in every day situations. Of course, getting people to use, or touch a computer was a more difficult process to do in 1982. So, what does Disney do? They created the Worldkey Kiosk system. It was a group of touch-screen computers that would show you laserdisc-based videos of attractions and pavilions, allow you to speak directly with a castmember via video chat and the only way to make a dining reservation.

Yes, the only way to make a dining reservation at EPCOT Center in the early days was to use the WorldKey Kiosks. More often than not, the dining was booked by 10:00am that day. What a better way to introduce people to what a computer can do, right? So, if you didn't spend the time in the morning waiting in Earth Station to use one of the WorldKey Kisosk, then you might be saddled with eating from one of the more crowded quick service restaurants.

In 1994, Earth Station closed to be replaced by the Gobal Neighborhood. Disney built a new Guest Relations building and they relocated the Worldkey Kiosk terminals to the left side of Guest Relations. From what I can surmise, the kiosks were in use until about 1997.

UPDATE: Mister EPCOT on twitter posted that the WorldKey Kiosks closed on March 21, 1999.

The kiosks are still there. If you head down the covered area you will see a nice sitting area.

Pay no attention to the looming plants. It is Disney's way of saying , "Don''t go back here."
You can still see the detail of where the kiosks were. I assume that they are still back there, boarded up behind the wood panel. The next time you are at Epcot, meander on over to the WorldKey Kiosks and see if you can finally snag that reservation for Le Cellier Cafeteria.

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