Thursday, November 29, 2007

Coming down the Track

What a perfect little building in Fantasyland. This photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mr. Toad's Architectural Style

As a follow-up to Monday's post regarding the visual difference between Disneyland's and Walt Disney World's versions of Snow White's Scary Adventures, I'd like to offer another comparison point: Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. The Disneyland attraction offers a beautiful outside treatment while, in comparison, the now-closed WDW version offered a less than exciting facade which can be seen here. Toad has been a tinderbox with respect to the outcry raised when it closed in 1998; what's interesting to note is while the exterior at WDW pales in comparison to its older sibling, the ride itself was superior to the DL version. Florida's Toad offered two unique ride experiences depending upon which queue you chose and really showed the visual impact Rolly Crump placed on the attraction. This photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Snow White's Architectural Style

As with most comparisons of 'like attractions' between Disneyland and Walt Disney World, in the end it largely becomes a matter of personal taste. Disneyland does this better because of X while Walt Disney World does it better because of Y or, WDW's version is better because it's longer versus DL's is better because it's the original, and so on, and so forth.

Well, I'm here to tell you that Fantasyland at Disneyland really takes the cake compared to its Florida sibling. Today's case in point: Snow White's Scary Adventures. While the ride elements and everything inside the ride are akin to comparing apples to apples, the architecture of the ride building is not. Disneyland's exterior facades are without equal; the image at right depicts the entrance to Snow White's Scary Adventures in DL and offers to the participant a wealth of possibilities compared to its sister attraction in Florida which you can see here and here. Really, which would you prefer? Can you imagine how wonderful it would be to see the wicked witch in the window above the DL entrance and then visit WDW and see nothing? I understand WDW needs significant queue areas under shelter due to weather concerns and DL doesn't but the difference is tremendous. If for this reason alone, the Disneyland attraction really stands out and the same concept carries through for Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Pinnochio's Daring Journey, and Peter Pan's Flight. These photographs were taken by the author in July, 2007.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Shopping Season

Given the current holiday shopping season I thought today's picture should be of the same ilk. WDW offers us many opportunities to purchase items and Epcot, in particular, has one of the largest shops on property, MouseGear. MouseGear currently occupies the space where Centorium stood; Centorium was a wonderful, multi-level shopping experience complete with large art displays on the walls and ceiling and the World of Epcot art on the upper level. Now that was a store. MouseGear has won several awards for its layout and efficiency; I would have to argue Centorium won quite a few, as well. This photograph was taken by the author in November, 2007.

Friday, November 23, 2007

For George

Does anyone care to hazard a guess as to where this picture was taken? This photograph was taken by the author in November, 2007.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

One of the Many Things I'm Thankful For

This might seem silly but when I'm in Adventureland in WDW on a hot, hot day, there's nothing I'm more thankful for than a stop at Aloha Isle Refreshments. I've been fortunate to have a Dole Whip (pineapple with vanilla is my favorite) at WDW, DL, and the Dole Plantation in Hawaii. Of the three, this is where I first experienced the soft-serve confection, most likely just after a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean or the Jungle Cruise on my way back to the hub. In addition to the luscious Dole Whip, you can order a spear of pineapple or a pineapple float.

Allow me to digress for a minute here. Don't believe those who tell you these are the only three places you can order a pineapple Dole Whip are the ones listed above; although the idea of making them at home is hotly debated, you can order the Dole mix from various places and make them provided you have a heavy-duty ice cream maker. Alternatively, you might be able to grab one at Captain Cook's in Disney's Polynesian Resort. Some simple Googling will point you in the right direction.

Disney's relationship with Dole originated with Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room in Disneyland in 1976 following United Airlines decision to end their sponsorship. (You can see Dole's logo in the photograph below.) Tied to the Disneyland attraction is the Tiki Bar, where you can watch a fabulous Dole video on pineapple production; while it's old and corny, it's fun, too. And, of course, you can watch the wonderful pre-show here in DL before watching the newly restored tikis, birds, and flowers inside. If you have the time, additional Googling will return a treasure trove of information about the uniqueness of this attraction in Disneyland.

These photographs was taken by the author in July and November, 2007.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Survey, Anyone?

Today's picture is from my recent trip to Walt Disney World. What is it? Why, it's a survey marker. There are many survey markers within WDW; this photo was taken in Epcot's World Showcase, close to the Mexico pavilion. As it stands to reason, there are lots of websites dedicated to these markers. This site lists all of the known survey markers at Walt Disney World and Disneyland and this one lists information about markers and those parade, or queue, poles we've all seen. Lastly, here is a wonderful article written about the original surveys made for WDW. This photograph was taken by the author in November, 2007.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

EPCOT Center's 25th Anniversary Exhibit (cont.)

In addition to all of the montages, models, and maquettes on display in Epcot's 25th anniversary exhibit there are lots of other items to see. I'm especially fond of the pins and buttons at the bottom representing the Future World attractions with their original icon images. Here are a few of the other items on display; I hope you enjoy. These photographs were taken by the author in November, 2007.

Monday, November 19, 2007

EPCOT Center's 25th Anniversary Exhibit (cont.)

Today's post wraps up the montage/poster homages part of Epcot's 25th anniversary exhibit. The final three are each iconic in different ways: one serves as the 'official' weenie of Epcot and is, in fact, the most recognizable icon for the entire park; one represents what was the hub of new technologies within the park; one represents the the world of what could be in the natural sciences and what has become the thrill ride element of Epcot.
Spaceship Earth is the very essence of Epcot Center; the great big Buckeyball (Buckminster Fuller is the creator of the geodesic sphere) can be seen for miles and, for the novice, provides a world of possibility as to what may lie ahead or, in this case, inside. This display features concept art by Tom Gilleon and James Dow, striking construction photographs, a beautiful cut-away model alongside a much younger looking Marty Sklar (at upper left), and various looks inside the ride structure. Spaceship Earth continues to carry the torch for education as did many of Disney's earlier forays into 'edutainment', whether it be movies or television specials. One can only look forward to the new Spaceship Earth and its unveiling in February 2008. As Jeremy Irons and Walter Cronkite previously said, "From a distant yesterday to the dawn of tomorrow."

CommuniCore, the predecessor to Innoventions, was a wonderful place for people to see how technology interacted with their world. While some may opine that CommuniCore was more fanciful than realistic, it did provide scores of children with an unlimited supply of "what-ifs" that surely did more than today's Innoventions does. Regardless of your point of view, CommuniCore was a hands-on nirvana for computer fans and featured over its lifetime such items as The Astuter Computer Revue, the Compute-A-Coaster, SMRT-1, interactive polls, the population clock, various educational centers, and, just outside, the ability to speak with guest relations via videophones. Ah, the future that never was. Wait a minute, that's Tomorrowland. Please excuse my mistake.

The montage for Future World showcases one of Herb Ryman's best known concept art pieces for Epcot and also features construction photographs and a photograph of three Imagineers working with a model. While it's rather plain it does capture a sense of what Future World would provide a guest to the park and is a great reminder of how exciting EPCOT Center was in 1982. These photographs were taken by the author in November, 2007.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

EPCOT Center's 25th Anniversary Exhibit (cont.)

Representing Future World East are the three original pavilions: Energy, Horizons, and World of Motion. The Energy montage, shown here at right, reads, "Ride on sunshine, Back to the age of the dinosaurs". A few items are predominately featured on this item; they include the wonderful dinosaurs (they might be the models fabricated by Blaine Gibson and George Snowden), a wonderful exterior concept painting by Bill Sully, and the photovoltaic cells on the top of the building. "An Imagineer's-Eye Tour", written by the Disney Imagineers, states this building is capable of generating 70,000 watts of direct current from 80,000 cells: even so, this generates only 15% of the power necessary to supply the attraction. Even more amazing is the statement that the building sports more than two acres of these energy producing cells; imagine that on top of your house! (Side note: I remember when my Dad decided to install solar cells on our rancher when I was a kid - if only I'd gone to EPCOT Center I would've thought that was cool!) This pavilion was revamped in 1996 and brought with it Ellen's Energy Adventure which, I have to say, still stands up fairly well but its 44-minute ride is a bit long in the tooth.

'New Horizons for you and for me.' The incredible passion many feel for Horizons must have led to this special breakout exhibit, complete with our robot butler. While researching these montages I happened across a 1998 video recording I made of the ride and found our butler friend, still moving, towards the beginning of this now extinct ride. Horizons, first named 'Century III' and 'Futureprobe' gives us the chance to view 'Lifestyles in the 21st century. This exhibit combines many of the same elements as the others: we see concept art (with monorail!); various models of the ride-through; and design work of the robot butler and the hard working, dish washing robot, too. This display, as mentioned, gives us a closer glimpse of the butler and also has one of the yellow helmets, lower right in this picture, from the ride. I believe there is a picture of George McGinnins, the overall art designer for Horizons at the middle right of the picture.

The last of the original Future World East exhibits is dedicated to World of Motion; after all, "It's fun to be free". This song, written by Buddy Baker and X. Atencio has a certain stickiness to it; it's often stuck in my head. Marc Davis designed the ride and there is a picture of him at the lower center of this photograph. We are treated, in this case, to concept art of the "world's first traffic jam", construction photographs, and views of the ride itself. I particularly enjoyed the concept art for the collision scene juxtaposed with a photograph of it in the attraction. Fans of this pavilion will not be disappointed. These photographs were taken by the author in November, 2007.

Friday, November 16, 2007

EPCOT Center's 25th Anniversary Exhibit (cont.)

As excited as I am about the 25th Anniversary Exhibit models, I'm even more geeked about the photo montages created for the Future World exhibits. Placed on the outer walls of the exhibit are tributes to many of the original Future World exhibits. For those of you lucky enough to see this exhibit before it closes, please make sure to book at least an hour's time to review each of these in detail. In today's post, I have three of the exhibits for you to review. (For those of my cyber-friends who are attending MouseFest next month, I hope someone is able to capture high-detail images of these for posterity's sake or, better yet, petition Disney to create a virtual archive of these fabulous homages. This is information that cannot be lost.) Here, at left, is the montage of The Living Seas, in Future World West. Long my favorite of the two sides of World Showcase, Future World West offers the visitor glimpses into the natural world and the world of the mind. This exhibit offers pictures of the pavilion in its construction phase, the iconic Living Seas signage at front (how many of those do you have in your personal photo albums? I must have 30 or more!), and beautiful concept art by Tim Delany. (The big image at center - it's gorgeous.) The catch-line for this exhibit, at the upper right of the montage, is "Try to imagine . . . A world of incredible adventure and discovery." While this pavilion has certainly seen its ups and downs, it remains one of the largest aquariums in the world (it was the world's largest when it opened in 1986) and, after all, who didn't love Sea Base Alpha and the hydrolators?

Another personal favorite, The Land, is offered to you at right. This is one of my favorite single pavilions in Future World: perhaps it appeals to my green thumb; perhaps I have a strange attraction to rising and falling balloons tied to the seasons; perhaps it's the fantastic mosaic outside of the main building; perhaps it's the fact Food Rocks used to be here. (Let me assure you, it's not because of Food Rocks.) This montage offers the viewer some of Herb Ryman's concept art, construction photos, photos of the afore mentioned Food Rocks , and a great picture of The Land's icon, seen in the lower center of this photo and beckons us to "Set sail for tomorrow's harvest". The Land, which was renovated in 2005, (hello Soarin'!) also features one of my very favorite food courts in all of WDW; there's something for everyone here and it always tastes good. My only real gripe with this pavilion was the recent decision to remove CMs from Living with the Land and substituting them with a standard narration track. After all, in many ways, it was a grown-ups version of The Jungle Cruise with your very own skipper. While the narration was always supposed to be the same, it was exciting to hear your CM guide say, "Living with the land." (Just ask my collection of Hi-8 video recordings.)

The last of today's montages focuses on the much beloved Journey Into Imagination. This attraction, which featured the first iconic character in Epcot, Figment, is very much passed it's glory years but still offers some of the most stunning architectural design in Future World West. The twin pyramids, long my favorite in Epcot, are featured in this montage as are the Dreamfinder and his pal, Figment. (The concept art here I cannot identify but believe it to be John Hench's; please let me know if you can confirm or deny.) In addition to planting "One Little Spark" into our minds, this pavilion also features two fantastic water fountains; the upside-down waterfall, and the leapfrog fountain. Each of these whimsical additions are very much central to the concept as are/were the 3-D movies located within. As the exhibit says, "One little spark of inspiration". These photographs were taken by the author in November, 2007.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

World Showcase Models, cont.

The last of the three detailed models currently on display as part of the 25th Anniversary Epcot exhibit is the focal point of World Showcase, the American Adventure Pavilion. Much has been written about this pavilion but, from an architectural point of view, this building is unique from any other in WDW in that it uses a reverse form of forced perspective: in order to accentuate this building the Imagineers fit its visible, three story frame into what is actually five stories in actual height. This effect, in contrast to the other buildings in World Showcase, is quite powerful. If you've visited this pavilion you might not even recognize it; I've linked to a photo here (copyright property of where you can see for yourself just how large the 'first' story really is. Look for the gentleman in the light blue shirt at the right of the main entrance; if he's 6 ft. tall that's a 20 ft.+ first story. This photograph was taken by the author in November, 2007.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

World Showcase Models

As part of the 25th Anniversary exhibit at Epcot, three detailed scale models of World Showcase pavilions are on display. The model for Germany, shown below, provides an excellent view of the prevalent technique know as forced perspective within the parks. From the vantage point of the visitor it appears the building at the back of the pavilion looks much further away than it really is. This approach creates a sense of time and place that full-scale buildings would lack.

Here's another view of the pavilion, from a slightly different, and more real, perspective. Here you can see how the placement and scale makes it seem the building at top is a long way away. It's this very technique that makes World Showcase work; without it, the illusion of 'being there' would be gone.

Shown here is a portion of the Canada pavilion model. While the Germany pavilion predominately focuses on shops and places to eat, Canada is home to a 360° CircleVision theater, currently showing a new version of 'O Canada!'. At the upper right of this shot you can see how the Imagineers constructed a facility that completely encloses the CircleVision theater; this Rocky Mountain range also uses forced perspective, as does the Hotel du Canada building. These models are absolutely astonishing in their detail and serve as a great reminder of the design challenges each pavilion faced during concept and construction. Although the Victoria Gardens look a bit different than the model shows, the rest of the pavilion is here in miniature.

If we look at the real thing, as shown here to the right, we are again reminded that the overall effect is quite tremendous and the visitor is none the wiser as to the techniques put into play.

These photographs were taken by the author in November, 2007.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

EPCOT Center's 25th Anniversary Exhibit

As part of Epcot's 25th anniversary, a truly enjoyable exhibit is on display in Innoventions West. This exhibit, though small, contains a wealth of vintage EPCOT Center items including models, maquettes, memorabilia, and more. At the very back of the exhibit this pre-1988 map shows EPCOT Center in all its glory (the Norway pavilion and Wonders of Life are not shown); we have one of these tucked away at home and I was thrilled to see it here. If you look, you can see this particular map was one of the many handout maps offered to visitors as evidenced by the visible folds. This photograph was taken by the author in November, 2007.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Restored to Perfection

It's been a busy week here in Orlando and we're headed home. What's in store for 'Photos from the Parks'? Lots and lots of WDW pictures plus a few Disneyland items from time to time. For today, here's a picture of the recently restored icon from EPCOT. Although Spaceship Earth is still months away from completion of its rehab, the icon has been restored to all its former glory. This photograph was taken by the author in November, 2007.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Guided Tours and More Source Material

Well, our guided tour of Disneyland needs to take a breather. Actually, although we have lots and lots of photographs to share, we are always in need of more source material. As such, we will be on-site at WDW from now until next Tuesday to get us through the winter months. We'll see you soon. In the meantime, please wait here for your guided tour to resume.

Monday, November 5, 2007

From Toontown Station Back Home

The Toontown Train Depot is one of the more fanciful stations on the Disneyland Railroad circuit. I wish I had some detail about this station but, unfortunately, I do not; all I have is this picture. On your way back to the Main Street Station you'll find a very interesting billboard, as evidenced below.

The Agrifuture Billboard is neat Disney initiative most of us would more commonly associate with EPCOT Center. While not quite Living with the Land, it is true, however, that each plant found within Disneyland's Tomorrowland is edible. This initiative, part of the 'New Tomorrowland' which debuted in the late '90s, is unfortunately pretty much a non-event nowadays. Nonetheless, I love the attempt and it's nice to see a little bit of WDW here in DL. The above photographs were taken by the author in July, 2007.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Disneyland Railroad

This view of the Main Street Station of Disneyland Railroad is a view that greets you as your engine approaches the station. The rich detail of the inset Disneyland Railroad logo is a welcome sight as you get ready to depart the train. Just prior to arrival you pass two attractions in 1958; the Grand Canyon and the Primeval World dioramas.

These attractions, which you might call an 'easter egg' by today's standards, were incredible for their time and are only seen by riders of the Disneyland Railroad. The Grand Canyon Diorama backdrop spans 306 ft. in length and is 34 ft. high. Contained within are a multitude of animals ranging from big horn sheep to mountain lions and the scene offers weather transitions from snow to sun and in between. In 1966, the diorama was altered and the audio-animatronic dinosaurs from Walt Disney's Ford Magic Skyway attraction featured in the 1964 World's Fair were added.

Unlike the stationary animals in the Grand Canyon Diorama, the dinosaurs move and captured the imagination of all who have seen them since. This particular attraction shows its age as our understanding of these animals has certainly expanded since the diorama opened. Nonetheless, it's an incredible finale to your ride on the Disneyland Railroad. The train station photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007. The two poster images are copyrighted property of the Walt Disney Company.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Exiting the Disneyland Railroad

My true photographic love is capturing signs from the parks; here is the sign that greets you as you exit the train at the Main Street Station. This photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Ward Kimball

Once you enter the park you have a choice of either left or right; in this case I chose left. Above the tracks of the Disneyland Railroad there is a wonderful inscription: "Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy." In this photograph we also see the #5 engine of the Disneyland Railroad, the 'Ward Kimball". This engine was purchased in poor condition in 1999, restored, and put into service in June 2005 renamed for the then recently passed Ward Kimball.

Ward was one of Walt's 'Nine Old Men' and was part of the golden age of Disney animation. His work includes credits in 'Cinderella', 'Alice in Wonderland', 'Dumbo', 'Pinocchio', 'Mary Poppins', and others. In honor of Ward's contributions the 'Ward Kimball' is the only engine in the fleet which features a Disney character; Jiminy Cricket is featured as a gold leaf silhouette on the engine's headlight. Additionally, Ward was the band leader of the Disneyland 'Firehouse Five Plus Two', one of the park's musical troupes. This photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


This is a spot I have attempted to photograph within the turnstiles of each Disney park; to me, nothing heightens the experience like a glimpse of the Disneyland or Walt Disney World Main Street Train Station. It's hard for most to realize the passion Walt had for trains so I find it especially beneficial to spend time during each trip exploring the areas around the stations. Without a doubt, these trains offer a fantastic view of the park and the stations themselves are wonderful period pieces. Part of the original 1955 opening, the Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroad was sponsored by Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad. The attraction featured steam engines and cars created on a 5/8 scale overseen by Roger Broggie and the first two engines were the 'C.K. Holliday' and the 'E.P. Ripley'. This photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007.