Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Original Walt Disney World,

Back in the early 1960s, Walt had several plans for his budding Audio Animatronics technology. We've all heard of the earliest concepts such as Lincoln and the Tiki Room.

Depending on how learned a nerd you are, you may have even heard of such concepts as the primal Dancing Man/Disneylandia show, the early pre-Ford pavilion-Disneyland dinosaur exhibit or the Main Street/Chinatown Confucius character.

True, all of these were conceptual thoughts that pre-date the Tiki Room, but another early concept that eventually came to be was The Mickey Mouse Revue!

Upon the first successful tests at WED, Walt immediately thought the Audio Animatronics technology would be a perfect progression in the evolution of bringing his film cartoons to life.

His concept was to reinvent the age-old presentation of a character puppet show. In keeping with the joyful thoughts of his little wooden head, these puppets would have no strings! The show itself, a musical gag production using songs from his greatest films. Of course, the emcee would be none other than....well, Mickey Mouse!

As we've heard before, there just wasn't enough time for all of Walt's ideas to be realized in his lifetime. However, when the new park was being prepped in the late 1960s, Walt's 'super-puppet show' would be resurrected and given a fitting home.

The show had many neat sequences , featuring Disney stock characters from the films: Alice in Wonderland, The Three Caballeros, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Jungle Book, Winnie the Pooh, Cinderella, and even some TV and short film characters such as Ludwig Von Drake and Clarabelle Cow. Yep, Minnie, Pluto, Donald, his wench, his rotten nephews, Goofy and the Three Humaniod Pigs were in on the act as well...

Unfortunately, if you never visited WDW in the 1970s or very early 80s, you wouldn't have seen it. The low attendance attraction was pawned off on the Japanese when they bought Tokyo Disneyland in the late 1970s. The Revue was dismantled rather than recreated and was ready for the April 1983 opening in Japan.

Oddly enough, if these rare interior shots pique your interest enough, you can still see this great show today. Tokyo Disneyland is still very much intact from it's 1983 opening...and the Mickey Mouse Revue just happens to be one of the survivors! The show is virtually the same as the 1971 show...except re-recorded in Japanese!

It seems like a no-brainer, but three dimensional recreations of the Disney CARTOON characters could really breathe some life into the parks again. America Sings, Country Bears and later, Splash Mountain all used AA technology to bring cartoons to life as opposed to the simple servo motor animation in the dark rides.

Hopefully with Pixar in the mix, the AA tech will once again bring the classic characters back to America with new shows in the spirit of Walt's, Mickey Mouse Revue!


Blogger Adam Hazlett said...

I saw that show when I was 5....I don't remeber it. My dad bought a souvenir 8mm film reel of the park back then and we would watch it on our silent projector...the MMR was my favorite segment in the film. It seems like Chucky Cheese and Showbiz pizza really tired the public on animatronics which is sad, Disney does it so right.
Thanks for the great post!

10:28 AM  
Blogger Major Pepperidge said...

I always wondered what had happened to this attraction...I was only familiar with it from Viewmaster reels, and I think a record album had some of the music. Nice to know that it is still running in Tokyo!

12:16 PM  
Blogger DC88SPACELINER75 said...

The Mickey Mouse Revue was pretty popular at Tokyo Disneyland too--
Lots of merchandise has been done there on this attraction including a rare cermanic series a few puzzle sets, and alarm clock and serving tray set, a bronze MM figure and more. In the mid 90's they did a series of posters for sale that included -of all things-copies of the entry mural Mickey Figures!!! The same as the old 1971 WDW version!
-odd stuff

1:24 PM  
Blogger DC88SPACELINER75 said...

another interesting note: Rolly Crump and Bill Justice were the main designers on this--Rolly told me how pissed he was with WDW management-they insisted that the Mickey Mouse Revue was not popular with guests because it never ran with a full theater!--The problem was that the pre-show theater could only hold 1/4 the amount of people---and that the show was designed to go of in dispatched groups----Ealy one-they cut the size of the preshow area-Rolly tried to fight this major reduction insisting th show was not designed that way--so almost 10 years after the 1971 intro it gets quickly packed to Tokyo!
IF YOU HAD WINGS was another WDW show that was almost complety relocated--it was planed to go where Star Tours was built.

1:29 PM  
Blogger thepicklebarrel said...


thanks for the additional info. didn't know rolly had worked on that one.

if you had wings was relocated????


man, i'd give my left nut to ride that one in its original form again!

as a kid in florida, that was one of my favs! especially since it was free!

the extinct attraction club dvd of IYHW does a pretty good job of giving you a hint of the attraction.

2:46 PM  
Blogger DC88SPACELINER75 said...

If You had Wings was proposed to have been relocated to Tokyo DL-but wasn't ever done so--The thing is--would the sponsor have changed?? Did Eastarn Fly to Japan? Or would new films and locations had been done say for.....Japan Air --None of the drawings or plans give any information other that the show building location and attraction

3:40 PM  
Blogger Matterhorn1959 said...

I hope to get to Tokyo Disneyland one day to see this show. Thanks as usual for the great information.

6:48 AM  
Blogger Ed South said...

Everyone head on over to youtube.... you can see the show in Japanese if you search enough, there is also some footage from the US version tucked away in a WDW grand opening special that someone has posted in bits and pieces!

10:21 AM  
Blogger Dominic said...

Great stuff, Jordan! Thanks again!

11:14 AM  

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