April 14, 2017

New Orleans Square and Tales from Lafitte's Crypt

Disney park fans, have you ever been to the real New Orleans? If so, the blend of charming mansions, lush vegetation, and incredible places to dine, shop, and listen to live music, make it a must see destination. So do the sacred places found in the wide variety of old churches and cathedrals. Of course, any place the sacred is found, the dark side of the spiritual world co-exists with the light. 

Disneyland's New Orleans Square is the epitome of Imagineering brilliance. When the brand new land finally opened at the park in the mid-60's, fans were amazed that theme park designers could create something so authentically charming and accurate, very faithful to the original. Here was a beautiful rendition of the city, calling visitors to explore its alleys and destinations. Watching the Mark Twain riverboat cruise the Rivers of America only added to the atmosphere.  

The masterpiece work still is Pirates of the Caribbean with its swashbuckling journey through grottoes, a burning village, and a bit of the ethereal. The opening of  The Haunted Mansion in 1969 filled out the land's roster, bringing some more obvious spirited fun for guests who dared to venture beyond its front door. Placed close to each other, Pirates and Mansion deliver the very best Imagineering has ever offered. In some ways, no other Magic Kingdom park delivers the Art of Imagineering as does this land. Even Tokyo Disneyland's mini land cannot compare to the original.

Concept Art by Eddie Sotto for the unbuilt original attraction.

It's a credit to the old school Imagineering team that folks like Bob Gurr, Marc Davis, Herb Ryman, Claude Coates continued to look for ways to further deepen the richness of the experiences found at the park. For New Orleans Square, however, it took a next-generation great, Imagineer Eddie Sotto, to come up with another thrilling attraction for an area so limited in acreage. 

These pieces of concept art reveal Eddie's proposal to add a walk through attraction into the crypt of famed Pirate Jean Lafitte. Think of Paris' famed catacombs, and you will not be too far off the mark from was proposed but never built. The mystery and stories of his exploits are still told today. Imagine exploring the creepy tomb with decayed bodies, leading to unknown adventures! 

It had been quite awhile since I thought about this project. There's  an interview with him on the subject. Go to this Imagineering Disney post to see a number of photos and the story in full.  Walt himself would have been thrilled to add this to the park. He always loved bringing some history into his kingdom.  In his day, the parks were viewed as living artwork to be enjoyed by families together, not solely a tool to increase profits and tie into the latest movies for merchandise sales. 

I found this to be the perfect piece for today! Imagine exploring the empty tomb of Jesus the Christ, His crucified body risen back to life to the glory of God the Father. Proving Jesus' own words that He would rise again- fully paying the price for my sin and yours. Owning this as eternal truth deep inside your heart leads to untold adventures of spirit and soul. It was truly a very Good Friday! His story is told to this day all over the world- and in spite of any opposition, it has never been able to be stopped.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

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