Saturday, May 31, 2008

Test Track (cont.)

As you enter Epcot at park opening you'll notice most people veer left, towards Future World East, home to Test Track and other thrill rides. Test Track occupies the pavilion previously housing World of Motion and takes its riders through a simulated test course that borrows much from what its sponsor, GM, does with new vehicles although in a subdued manner. The signs in Future World East feature a funky, kinetic style in keeping with the frenetic pace of Future World East.

The sign below, for the post-show exhibit, is a boon for those who enjoyed World of Motion's car showroom. Much like its predecessor, Test Track offers guests an opportunity to view current model vehicles in a stage-like setting. (I wonder how long it takes to remove the fingerprints each night?) The Fuel for Thought exhibit in this area, dedicated to ethanol (E-85), closed earlier this month with little information outside of the fact GM is reconsidering which alternative fuels to showcase here. (More on why later and how GM wound up supplanting the relationship Disney had with Ford Motor Company.)

Finally, the big moment arrives and you're either a fast pass away or a long, long wait from strapping on your seatbelts and starting your ride. Lots of folks have panned the entrance to this exhibit from this particular point of view and I can see why: while the exterior of the building retains the classic circle the sight lines are geared towards a rectangular point due to the large awning in place to provide shade.

(Note: this outdoor queue can be a mess and I'd suggest any members of your party who wish to wait spend their time close by investigating the butterfly garden located along the hypotenuse of the Test Track - Odyssey Center - Innoventions East triangle or, if that's not your thing, the Cool Wash Misting Station is another 'overlooked' attraction here.)

However, that view completely changes as you reach the building and catch a glimpse of the outdoor portion of the attraction and hear the 'whoosh' of the cars above.

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

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Test Track

Test Track is slowly creeping up on its 10 year anniversary and I thought it best to run a small series on this attraction before the rush. Say what you want about this ride; the fact is it's the last major Epcot attraction to have kept its original sponsor, General Motors. And while GM's current sponsorship of this pavilion ends in 2009, it's likely they will renew given the tremendous exposure this ride provides and the abundance of other GM relationships on property: Lights, Motors, Action! (Opel); fleet vehicles to Disney employees; the 30,000+ who pass through the GM lounge inside the pavilion yearly; you get my drift.

So, sit back, strap in, and let's take a ride.

This photograph was taken by the author in November, 2007.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

EPCOT Center's 25th Anniversary Exhibit (revisited)

There are a few more shots of the EPCOT Center 25th Anniversary Exhibit still (?) on display at Epcot. While these aren't stunning shots in any way, shape, or form, they are important in that any time the history of a park is celebrated it must be noted and embraced. I'm still smarting from the lack of a proper 25th celebration and can only hope that a 40th or 50th will be phenomenal.

This ticket, a commemorative one sold before the park's opening, is most likely from a personal collection but includes the original ticket sleeve, a great parking pass, and what appears to be an EPCOT Center ticket from circa 1986 (on top of the parking pass). Does anyone have any information on this ticket?

Lastly, these tags shown below look much like guided tour tags and would be great in anyone's collection of Epcot memorabilia.

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

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Lanai Garden

From time to time my mind wanders and when it wanders west it usually stops in Disneyland. And while many can't stand the singing birds and drumming tikis, I can't imagine a visit to there without checking in on my good friends, Michael, José, Pierre, and Fritz. The lanai garden is an interesting area and of interest to me, of course, is the architecture and signage. Today's photographs focus on the thatched roof design, horticulture, and two of the signs in the lanai garden area.

The shot above is of interest to me based on the combination of the thatched roof and the gingerbread scrim on top. (Sort of Swiss Family Robinson, don't you think?) This motif continues above the main building and I especially love the light fixture below. (Note: the scrim helps the visual transition from the Enchanted Tiki Room to the Plaza Pavilion.) Notable to many was the amount of time spent bring this attraction back to spec during the 50th anniversary and I can only hope the upkeep 'keeps up' from here on.

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

Friday, May 23, 2008

20th Century Music Company

One of my sentimental favorites on Disneyland's Main Street USA is the 20th Century Music Company. This nondescript store front, easily missed by many, hold a special place in my heart as it used to house the Disneyland Forever kiosks and serves as a great place to 'hear' your way through the parks. For those of us who love Disney music, this store is a great place to stop and smell the roses, even if you must comb the shelves for something not related to Hannah Montana.

This photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

East then West

Ah, Disneyland; where else could you turn for a look at the Jungle Cruise? Noticeably different from WDW's version is Disneyland's entrance queue. This multi-story structure (weenie) certainly helps locate the ride which is easy to miss when standing by Tarzan's Treehouse as the Indiana Jones Adventure - Temple of the Forbidden Eye queue really diverts your attention. While the original 1955 version had a similar structure, this one is a bit higher in elevation due to the 1994 rehab. Odd to me was the lack of a Fast Pass queue for this attraction. Has the magic worn off in DL?

On the flip side is the exit area; opposite of this structure, you'll find Tropical Imports where you can grab a quick snack on your way towards the Enchanted Tiki Room or the main hub.

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

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Jungle Cruise Signage

Without a doubt, the Jungle Cruise is a Disney classic; from the jokes to the rudimentary audio-animatronics, this ride takes the cake. WDW's version of the attraction offers some of the most intriguing queue signs in the park and the two below are here for your viewing pleasure. I'm not sure what precipitated the inclusion of these hand drawn elements as part of the 1994 rehab but they're worth an idle moment of viewing and appreciation.

The sign below is found as you approach the attraction entrance and in every way prepares you for what lies ahead. And, while a boat has never been lost, it's always possible your expedition might be more than you expected.

This sign may be found as you exit the attraction, in the area between the docks and the landing. Once again (referencing our earlier post on Splash Mountain exit signage), I'm always happy to find elements of a theme somewhat related but not directly tied to an attraction. Nowhere else in the attraction do we hear mention of or see a story element tied to spice trading or commercial activities on the river but this bit of eye candy somehow 'feels' right. Does anyone know if this is a reference to Marc Davis, Bill Evans, Wathel Rogers, or any other Imagineer?

Lastly, I usually travel the parks with my son and today's last image fairly depicts a great number of images in my photo library. Consider this a 'before and after' look at most of my photos.

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

Thursday, May 15, 2008

WDW Splash Mountain Exit Signs

George, our intrepid Disney Geek, has a reader who asked for pictures leading into Walt Disney World's Splash Mountain. While I can't shed light on that topic, I do have a particular fondness for the exit queue and these signs below are some of my favorites.

What rabbit could resist the lures of King Carrots?

Let's move all of our stuff to the Laughin' Place!

Can anyone help me with a reference to coffee?

In addition to Splash Mountain, there are other places in WDW that feature what appear to be hand painted signs on wood; one perfect is example is the carriage barn on Main Street USA (parade entrance) and another is the Jungle Cruise exit queue, which we'll look at later.

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

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Canadian Pavilion Totems and Mountains

The Canada Pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase features an excellent, although compressed, view of our great neighbor to the north. This pavilion is bit unique in that it focuses more on natural features as compared to architecture. In total, it's a success, but it does provide an interesting contrast to other World Showcase countries with the possible exception of Japan and China.

The outdoor theme continues with the presentation of Epcot's Victoria Gardens, representative of British Columbia's Buchtart Gardens in Victoria. While not overwhelming in its presentation, this area helps tell the story of a country that spans great distances and appearances. The Imagineers, planners of the utmost degree, required two full years prior to park opening to acclimate many of the annuals and trees located in this area of the pavilion.

Like many, I really enjoy the wonderful totems located on the other side of the Canada Pavilion. These totems, while similar in style to those located within Disney's Wilderness Lodge, are representative of Canada's northwest provinces and are unique to that area.

According to 'The Imagineering Field Guide to Epcot at Walt Disney World', the totem below was carved on stage by David Boxley in 1998 to add extra flavor to this pavilion. It's interesting to note the contrast between the totems above and below.

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

Friday, May 2, 2008

Mission: SPACE Grab Bag

After some posts elsewhere in the Disney blogosphere I thought I'd prepare a Mission: SPACE grab bag for today's post. First up is the large sign located inside the planter in front of the attraction.

Second is the highlight of the detailed logo just outside of the building as part of the planetary section.

Lastly, I've included a shot taken of the pavilion prior to its opening. Compare this to Ryan's image and post over at the Main St. Gazettte. Notice anything interesting regarding that planter?

These photographs were taken in November, 2007 and October, 2003.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mission: SPACE Eye Candy

While this attraction located in Epcot's Future World East area offers an immersive experience (some might say entombing experience) is a blast to ride, and offers those stuck in a long queue a lot of things to look at, it somehow fails to supersede its predecessor, Horizons. My favorite parts of the queue are a mix of the old and new and while it fails to tell a comprehensive story it sure helps to pass the time.

For my money's worth, the faux mission control center is pretty cool. After all, anything with wide screen monitors is always exciting for today's 18-55 year old male and just as much as I fit that demographic I love this room. Can anyone tell me if CMs assigned to Mission: SPACE ever 'pretend' to work in here? I frequently ride Mission: SPACE as a single rider and I rarely get to see anything going on inside this area. Come to think of it, has anyone ever noticed an HP logo on any of the simulated computer equipment here?

Another interesting aspect of this queue is the host of NASA artifacts. The image above is one of the lunar buggies created as part of the Apollo moon missions and informs us the LRV (lunar roving vehicle) had a top speed of just under 9mph. Hmm. Did we just leave these things up on the moon after the Apollo 15, 16, and 17 missions? If so, do you think the keys are still in the ignition? A little known fact regarding the LRVs is that the seats have fold-down capabilities. Why? In all, ten were built at a cost of $38 million by Boeing and Delco within a 17-month time frame. On a side note, I love the fact those fold-down seats look a lot like lawn chairs.

The Training Operations queue area, broken down into Green and Orange teams, poses this interesting question: What's the purpose of the hangar/garage door above the queue?

Think the hubcap in the above photo looks familiar? Of course. In a fitting tribute to Horizons, the gravity wheel continues to live on as a slightly out of place but visually dynamic addition to the queue area. I once read or heard the Horizons wheel was actually a tribute to Disneyland's Adventures Though Inner Space. While it looks a bit like the snowflake under magnification (MAG-NI-FI-CA-TION) I can't quite see it otherwise.

The ISTC logo celebrates 75 years of human spaceflight (Yuri Gagarin's Vostok mission took place on April 12, 1961). I sure hope some of these remain within the park when this ride is shuttered only to see what Disney guests celebrating WDW's 65th will think of it.

And to close things out, here's a shot of the great typeface used throughout Mission: SPACE that celebrates the month of May.

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