Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Wonders of Life Pavilion

The Wonders of Life Pavilion in Future World East seems to be a lightning bolt for strong opinions; either you love it or you could care less. The pavilion opened in 1989 after securing a sponsorship from MetLife; unfortunately, the pavilion closed in January 2004 and is now open only during peak traffic seasons with a limited offering of attractions inside. The beautiful golden dome and 75ft tall double helix structure are hallmarks of the architectural design and inside the pavilion it is open and spacious. Attractions that scream 1980's are inside; the following remain operational when the pavilion is open: Cranium Command, Body Wars, The Making of Me, and Fitness Fairgrounds. This pavilion is a great example of original Epcot Center thinking as it combined science, knowledge, and entertainment. (The area background music is also a treat.) It's truly a shame to see this attraction shuttered. This photograph was taken by the author in May, 2000.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Diamond Horseshoe

The Diamond Horseshoe Revue has been part of Frontierland since the park's opening in 1971. The Diamond Horseshoe is a close relative to Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe Saloon, the site of Wally Boag's wonderful rendition of Pecos Bill and Betty Taylor's Slue Foot Sue. In all, more than 39,000 showings of the variety show took place there. Wally Boag departed Anaheim for Orlando in 1971 and anchored the show at Walt Disney World for three years before returning to Disneyland. On the fifteenth anniversary of the park's opening, October 1, 1986, the name was changed to the Diamond Horseshoe Jamboree and performances required a reservation. The attraction was subsequently changed back to Diamond Horseshoe Revue on April 7, 1995 and food service became counter-style only. In 2003, the attraction shifted yet again, became known as Goofy's Country Dancin' Jamboree and served as a 20 minute vehicle for Toy Story characters. This attraction closed in 2004 and now serves as a character meet and greet location. This photograph was taken by the author in December, 2004.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Splash Mountain Queue Signs

This is a pretty busy photograph of WDW's Splash Mountain queue area. To the left, you can see the attraction sign which promises a flood of some type, the fast pass ticket machines and entrance to the right, standby entrance to the lower left, and the gift shop/restroom area mid frame on the right. The Splash Mountain queue and overall theming is perhaps the best in the Magic Kingdom and this photo provides just a glimpse of the setting for this ride. This photograph was taken by the author in December, 2004.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Tomorrowland Signage

Here's an interesting photo of signage in New Tomorrowland. Far from the earlier norm of using signs to indicate attractions or directions to visitors, this conglomeration advises guests of fictitious organizations, civic groups, and/or affiliations. This type of signage in the Magic Kingdom is, to the best of my knowledge, completely restricted to Tomorrowland and is found only by the Tomorrowland Interplanetary Convention Center (read - the old Alien Encounter attraction) and on the opposite side of the main artery into Tomorrowland from the Hub by the now shuttered Timekeeper exhibit. This photo was taken by the author in December, 2004.

Matterhorn1959's blog, Stuff From the Park, has a wonderful run of signage from Disneyland's Tomorrowland, circa 1966, and can be seen here.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Fastest Ride in the Wilderness

Walt Disney World's second 'mountain' and the second of four installations at Disney theme parks worldwide, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is located in Frontierland at the northwest corner of the Magic Kingdom. The attraction officially opened in November 1980 (one full year after it opened in Disneyland) and has offered guests a highly enjoyable 3 1/2 minute ride through an abandoned mine town. The ride was inspired in part by the legendary Marc Davis and his 'Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland' attraction in Disneyland; the scenery at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was inspired by Monument Valley (located in Utah and Arizona and within the Navajo Indian Reservation). As the missing conductor advises at the beginning of the ride, "Hold on to your hats and glasses, 'cause this here's the fastest ride in the wilderness!". This photo was taken by the author in June, 2005.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

There's a Great, Big Beautiful Tomorrow

The Carousel of Progress, firmly anchoring the southeast corner of Tomorrowland since 1975, is one of the very popular 1964's World's Fair attractions created by WED Enterprises to land at Walt Disney World. This attraction is often said to be one of Walt's very favorites and it's easy to see why. The rotating theater, home to six scenes chronicling the technological advances of 20th century American homes, has played to more audiences than any other American theatrical performance and showcases WED's talents in the arena of audioanimatronics.

After its highly successful run at the World's Fair, the show played in Disneyland from 1967-1973 and moved to WDW partially due to General Electric's, the attraction's sponsor, wish to see the show exposed to a larger audience. The Carousel of Progress has been updated many times but the music has always been the work of the Sherman Brothers.

Of particular interest to this blog is the current signage design; the current mechanical wheel was part of the 1994 New Tomorrowland overhaul. It was also at this time the official name of the attraction became Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress. The sign stays up to date as the current year displays in the upper cog as seen in the photo.

This photograph was taken by the author in November, 2004.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Fire Engine Signage

As mentioned yesterday, I am a tremendous fan of the signage at Disney World. Pictured here today is the Fire Engine: One Way to Cinderella Castle sign for located at the entrance to Main St. USA in the Magic Kingdom. This sign marks the spot for visitors wishing to take one of the four different Main St. vehicles from the entrance to Cinderella's Castle. The ride takes roughly 2 1/2 minutes and guests using wheelchairs or ECVs must be able to transfer from those to the ride. The Main St. vehicles hark back to a popular element at Disneyland and are key to transforming oneself from the present to the past. This is a great way to leave the 'real world' behind you as you enter the turnstiles. This photograph was taken by the author at park closing in May 2005.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Fantasyland Classic Signage

I'm a huge fan of Disney signage with most of my favorites to be found in the Magic Kingdom at WDW. Here is an example of signage within Fantasyland, the Mad Tea Party sign. This sign is visible as you approach the Mad Tea Party attraction from Tomorrowland and also the junction of Fantasyland and Mickey's Toon Town. This sign indicates the ride is all about the tea and so it is. This attraction is an original in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World and are identical except that Disney World's is under cover. On a side note, Disneyland offers guests an additional 'Alice in Wonderland' attraction with that same name; Disney World does not have the attraction. This photograph was taken by the author in November, 2004.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Mission: SPACE Detail

Mission: SPACE, which opened in Fall 2003 on the former site of 'Horizons', is an oft maligned spaceflight simulator in Epcot's Future World East pavilion. While the ride attempts to simulate astronaut training aboard a fictitious X-2 Deep Space Shuttle as part of the International Space Training Center and provides quite a large thrill component with gravity reaching 2Gs, it is perhaps less appreciated for its beautiful outdoor theme and wonderful queue area. This picture is a detail of the outside queue; guests enter the attraction below the center ringed planet (as seen at the lower left of that image in the center of this photograph). The outdoor theme celebrates man's presence in space and is an excellent example of WDW weenies in Epcot. This photograph was taken by the author in February, 2003.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Magic Kingdom Hub, Looking South from Tomorrowland Entrance

A lengthy blog title for a nice nighttime shot of the Plaza Restaurant seating area, as seen from the hub leading into Tomorrowland. This shot provides a glimpse of the yellow and white canopy umbrellas and one of two designated smoking areas on Main St., USA. For a great view of additional umbrellas, please refer to the following blog entry on Stuff From the Park. This photograph was taken by the author in November, 2004.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

I'm Going to Disney World!

Either a Colt or a Bear will utter this iconic phrase sometime late this evening and another Disney celebration will take place in the Magic Kingdom within the next two weeks. The campaign originally started after the 1987 Superbowl and Phil Simms, quarterback for the NY Giants, will forever be paired with that phrase. The 'program' has since expanded to MLB, the NBA, the NHL, and also an Olympic spot. Only two years ago did Disney stop the tradition and this has been attributed to the Janet Jackson half-time incident. Last year, Hines Ward of the Pittsburgh Steelers told the world he was headed to the world after the Steeler's win (he took along Jerome Bettis in a wonderful gesture. It's my guess that should the Colts win Peyton Manning will be headed to Lake Buena Vista. If the Bears win, I'd guess Rex Grossman, Devin Hester, Thomas Jones, or Brian Urlacher would take the honors. Here's to another "I'm Going to Disney World" day. This photograph was taken by the author in November, 2004.

Update: 2/5/07. I forgot the Pro Bowl is this coming weekend (Peyton Manning leaves for Hawaii tomorrow; Dominic Rhodes is headed to the Magic Kingdom. Enjoy!)

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Harmony Barbershop, Main St. USA

The Harmony Barbershop, located next to the Car Barn on one side and the Emporium on the other at 43 Main St., USA, specializes in first haircuts and other trims and 'do's. (My son received his first haircut here and comes back each time we're in WDW. We still have his 'First Haircut' Mickey ears.) The shop is said to handle between 350 and 400 cuts a week and tends to draw repeat business from kids and adults alike. Michael Marach is a wonderful man to whom I owe a debt of gratitude; this is one of the few places where the magic lives on a daily basis. Four other salons are to be found at WDW; these are: the American Beauty Shop and Captain's Chair at Disney's Contemporary Resort; Periwig's at the Yacht and Beach Club resort; Casa de Belleza, at the Coronado Springs Resort; and another favorite of my family's, the Ivy Trellis Salon, at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. One last thought; while at the the Harmony Barbershop, beware of glitter and stickers! This photograph was taken by the author in May, 2005.