Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Haunted Halloween, All You Spooks!

Here's one of my favorite possessions (no pun intended).

This was pinned up in the New Orleans Square employee break room and saved by a young castmember as a memento.

It's an employee poster made for the 'soft opening' or employee preview of the Mansion on August 7th and 8th, 1969. Planned for after hours operation, the preview was an attempt to do full capacity run thrus of the attraction to find any kinks in the ride system.

I guess it worked out ok as the ride did officially open on August 9th, 1969...the very day of the Sharon Tate murders by the Mansion Family singers. Nice, huh?

Now, here's our favorite haunted domiciles from early periods of their history....

The Disneyland Haunted Mansion in 1974...

The Walt Disney World Haunted Mansion in 1972...

...and now, a carriage approaches to take you into the boundless realm of the supernatural!

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Happy Day Before Halloween, All You Spooks!

Here's a cover page from a very neat technical manual done for the Haunted Mansion in 1969.

While working on the first Mansion for Disneyland, WED was well aware they would soon be building Walt Disney World's, Magic Kingdom. It too would feature the spook house so they went ahead and built two of everything.

The WDW Mansion was actually the first completed attraction for the new park. While they had time after the late 1969 opening of Disneyland's attraction, WED completed this through technical guidebook for the installation of the second Mansion.

A very scary puss!

It features many key effects and animatronic characters of the ride in schematic breakdowns.

If you ever win the lotto and decide to build your own Haunted Mansion, you'll definitely need one of these!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

a gift from Disneyland on Sunday...

To augment Patrick's post on the Tour Guide Hostesses, here's some name tags that would be issued in case you hit your head and forgot who you were. Dated 1958, these are a little earlier than the Hostess SOP guide which dates from the mid-sixties...

These are the less common type which were adhesive stickers rather than the later hang-tag type. The stickers didn't last too long as you can guess how quickly the adhesive would slip the surly bonds of your clothing and drop back to Earth.

A sad thing too, as a lost tag might cause one to end up in City Hall crying in a puddle of one's own tears...

Friday, October 27, 2006


Part Five...

Even More Rainbows, Chrome and Purple Dragons!

We move forward with imagery from various areas around 1982-85 Epcot Center that showcase the optimism and style of this once great park...

Epcot Center was just plain trippy! It was a playground of 'extra-curricular ' activities for visually stimulated guests...

Please keep hands and arms on the exhibits and extinguish all smoking devices!

Man, is that car smooth or what?

Up, up and away in my Rolly Crump balloon!

Holy Shit! That group of vegetables are singing and playing instruments!

Whoa! Now the dairy products are speaking! What kind of weed is this stuff?

With all of it's style and innovation, there was a weird sterility to the park. Again, in my mind...not a bad thing. I was asked about "sex" at the park in relation to my posts about vintage Disneyland selling sex. Epcot Center absolutely, undeniably sold NO..ZERO...ZIP...NATTA sex within its pastel gates. The park was a sort of church to our future...

Kodak's Journey Into Imagination had an uncanny resemblance to The Crytsal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Ca.

This was the early 1980s and the Women's Lib movement was at it's peak. Women were equals in society. That's a good thing. It was about time too. The problem with this movement was a byproduct (well intended or not) that weakened the primal attractions between the sexes...at least in the media. At Disney, this created a world of polyester sterility where women and men became one in the same...Politically correct Lego-like characters where the only differentiating factor was hair length and the occasional mustache. Everyone was equal; On the space station platform or in the bedroom...

I guess I should let this one speak for itself...

Epcot didn't have lightly clad mermaids, riding crop wielding vixens in plaid or silver mini skirts with knee-high space boots...nope. Epcot foretold a future where everyone was equally bland and uninteresting.

But the architecture was sure cool!

Here's the Living Seas pavillion c.1985. It was Epcot Center at its best...

World Showcase also gave an extremely positive outlook towards our neighbors on Spaceship Earth.

The original participating nations were given the 'star treatment' by WED's artitsts with pavilions that surpassed anything previously presented at World's Fairs.

All of the Disney show tricks were used to place a generous light on the national advertisements presented in World Showcase.

Canada, Japan, China, Morrocco, Italy, The United Kingdom, France and Mexico were among the first to benefit from a hyper-presentation of their country's attributes through the eyes of the Disney masters...

Pavilions such as Journey Into Imagination, The Land, Horizions, Universe Of Energy, The Living Seas and World Of Motion were truly inspiring attractions that showcased art, technology and optimism in every way they possibly could. For those first few years, Epcot achieved some of what I believe Walt Disney intended for Epcot in spirit.

The Imagineers at WED had a final showcase for their artistry of mind and taste. Everything that came after Epcot 1982-85 was under a new umbrella. The Eisner regime. Idealism was dead in the theme park arts and commerce muscled in.

Well, that's our visit to the original Epcot center 1982-1985. Hope you got something out of it. For those of you who always liked it, this was a nifty look back. For those of you who always thought it was a hacked out compromise, I hope this look gives you reason to look again.

And, for those of you who never saw Epcot and think these two below are from the West Los Angeles Pavilion sponsored by Eveready Batteries...

...there never was a West Los Angeles Pavilion at Epcot!

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Part Four...

Rainbows, Chrome and Purple Dragons!

That's why I love Epcot Center 1982!

Today, we’ll foc
us mainly on style within Epcot’s perimeter…and stylish it definitely was!

As stated yesterday, science fiction and computer advancements had an incredible influence on Epcot’s design in architecture and show concept.

Being a ‘permanent World’s Fair’, the park followed in the path of such predecessors as the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, The 1964 New York World’s Fair, the 1968 San Antonio HemisFair and the Osaka Expo 1970.

All of these featured state of the art “blue sky’ architecture in their pavilions with an emphasis on mod styling. The Pop Art movement and celebrity industrial designers such as Saul Bass, Raymond Lowey, Verner Panton, Eero Saarinen and the Eames’, all had showcased presentations of exhibition design. There’s little question these elements had a hand in the inspiration of Epcot’s concepts.

Just look at these interior pics of the Communicore section. Rolly Crump was one of the key designers of this kinetic display. There’s a striking resemblance to Charles and Ray Eames’, touring exhibition “Mathematica” and their “Information Machine” presentation for the IBM Pavilion at the 1964 NYWF.

As usual, Disney artists took inspiration from the visual work of others and ‘plussed’ it with the charm that only Disney could.

The thing that draws me to early Epcot more than anything else is how amazingly it captured the sensibility of the time. I call that sensibility “New-Age Sci-Fi”. (Think Jean-Michel Jarre or Stevie Nicks on the Space Shuttle and you're getting warm.)

It was a weird combination of conservatism mixed with science optimism, sprinkled with a dash of soul-less spiritualism.

What I mean by that is the almost religious nature of clean mysticism offered within the park. The pavilions and surrounding grounds were executed with a cold beauty. Everything from the pigmented asphalt to the ethereal drone of synthesizer muzak piped into the air gave one a sense of a new age dream.

1982 Epcot felt a lot like you were walking in the coldly beautiful future of Logan’s Run.

And, when I say “cold”…it’s a good thing! Star Trek: The Motion Picture was the epitome of this “New-Age Sci Fi”.

The sci-fi look of the era consisted of chrome and rainbows against starscapes.

Epcot drew much from this combo…

The many pavilions strove to inspire from every angle. Unlike Disneyland, the architecture was presented on a grand, roomy scale.

The distant view was taken full advantage of in that Epcot was a spacious layout.

Nighttime lighting was presented in the spectacle generally regulated to World’s Fairs and Nuremburg Party rallies….

Tomorrow: The High-fallootin' Promise of Epcot!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Part Three...

What? You still here!? Boy, you must be really bored OR you’re a true connoisseur of Disney Theme Park history!

We left off with WED’s final decision to move forward with a remixed vision of Walt Disney’s original EPCOT. This time, the business plan was one the Imagineers could justify to the stockholders with sound corporate and foreign investors. The official presentation was made in July 1975. By 1978, the design phases for Epcot Center were well under way. We’re at the tail end of the disco age.

The Carter Administration was limping towards it’s last year in control. Ronald Reagan (one of Disneyland’s Opening Day hosts) would soon be nipping at their heels with a new brand of 1950s style Conservatism for America. Star Wars was a worldwide phenomenon that affected the cultural context forever. Science Fiction would have a hand in the style and design of many art forms. Computers and satellites were molding our future into our present.

Strong thematic influences for a new theme park…

As Disneyland before it, the WED designers of Epcot Center knew the cornerstone of their new park had to address the current public consciousness. Epcot had to engage it’s audience by not only showcasing the present state of the World, but offer a tangible forecast of what the future would hold for them. Luckily, this era contained lots of great inspiration to the writers and designers of Epcot Center. Computers and interest in space perhaps had the greatest influence on the creative direction of the park. Both were the most prominent within its many pavilions.

Everything from the architecture to show presentations to the park signage had to project optimism…better yet, DISNEY OPTIMISM. Using some of the finest designers from within WED and the studio, the Disney team went whole-hog with an extremely tasteful approach.

Some of the key figures in Disneyland’s creation were applying almost 30 years of experience to the project. John Hench, Herb Ryman, Rolly Crump, George McGinnis, Bob Gurr, Collin Campbell, Blaine Gibson, Wathel Rogers, Gene Johnson, Claude Coats, Walt Green, and Marvin Davis were among the many veterans lavishing unbelievable amounts of good taste and visionary audacity to the project. Add to them WED outsiders such as Ray Bradbury, Robert McCall, Claudio Viazzoli and Ward Kimball and things quickly gelled into something very new.

The Disney hype machine wasted no time in the marketing of this new wonder. I first read about this “Epcot Center” from Starlog magazine in 1978. A several page article showed concept art and linked the project to a ‘lost’ Walt Disney concept finally brought to life. Soon newspaper articles, posters, radio ads and TV specials followed. The anticipation within the public was masterfully stoked as the countdown to October 1982 drew closer.

Driving through the sprawling, well-manicured Disney turnpike one could see the rising ball of Spaceship Earth over the horizon. At the turn off to the Epcot construction site, there was an Epcot Preview Center that showed what was in store for guests in the future. The presentation was amazing. A beautiful scaled model of the park was angled in the middle of the gallery and if you weren’t hooked before you walked in, the model harpooned you with fascination.

In a gesture of goodwill and good marketing, Disney offered Florida residents a Monorail Preview of the construction site starting in the late Spring of 1982. The tour took you from the main WDW Transportation Center across the property to the Epcot Center construction site. A brilliant plan as the Monorail prevented guests from seeing too much or somehow getting loose in the park. It was just the right taste to get you hooked on that Disney brand of primal entertainment heroin!

The views were a striking glimpse upon the shape of things to come…

Tomorrow: The Style of Epcot Center 1982!
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