July 30, 2013

Messing with My Mind

Dang you, David Platt! I say this all mostly tongue in cheek, but truth be known, this book, Radical:Taking Back Your Faith From The American Dream, is putting me in my place. That is, on my knees! 

As a Christian, I have always tried to live out my faith in a way that pleases God as well as stays true to what the Bible says. Sometimes in our culture, it makes for uncomfortable bedfellows! But David Platt, much like Francis Chan (Crazy Love) before him, challenges those who say they love Jesus to live like His Disciples did. You know, the original Twelve- and I do not mean Judas! 

Watching so many churches fall prey to current trends, post-modern "Christianity" and others to the false prosperity gospel, it saddens me to think believers in our nation may be headed down the wrong road. Please God, turn my heart right toward you.

Here's the challenge for all you out there that desire to follow Jesus: take the time to read this book, and then write back. I'd love to hear your thoughts as you carefully process Platt's incredibly inflammatory words.

July 29, 2013

Wonderful DCA

What a wonder of incredible Imagineering was Disney's California Adventure at opening! This simple map shows the vast nature of the park and the surrounding expansion. Well, at least the rest of the building project truly was wonderful. The Grand Californian Resort and Downtown Disney stand among the best projects of its type.

As for the second Anaheim park, California Adventure became the laughing stock of the industry with its less than stellar line up of attractions. No amount of press could save it. Superstar Limo was instantly famous as was the Maliboomer- all for the wrong reasons. This led guests and the general public to overlook some of the very good aspects of it. Disney's Michael Eisner had a flop squarely on his hands. Thank God cooler heads eventually approved the billion dollar expansion, bringing us Buena Vista Street, a revamped Paradise Pier, and Cars Land.

Want to read more about the development and eventual revitalization of California Adventure with some concept art? Go to the series Bargain Basement Imagineering. It begins here.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

July 26, 2013

Imagination Revitalized

"A dream can be a dream come true..."  

With D23 just around the corner, and the web ablaze with rumors, I am holding on to just the tiniest little spark of hope that the Imagination pavilion could be revitalized. In its original Tony Baxter led incarnation, Figment and Dreamfinder took us into a world of wonder, charm, and discovery. For me, at one small level, Journey into Imagination set the foundation for everything else to be discovered at Disney World's second park. It held the promise of a warm and friendly future, one where friendship and caring replaced corporate profits and leveraged takeovers.

Here's to hoping all those internet rumors are true! Wouldn't it be just wonderful if Imagination returned to its status as a must-see attraction? Future World just needs that touch of magic, and Epcot needs it as well. What Epcot also needs in Future World is a new attraction that lasts more than 5 minutes...

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.) 

July 23, 2013

From the ImagiNerding Files

Not that I have too much time on my hands- because I don't- but when I saw this screen shot first posted on the ImagiNerding site, I was instantly driven to clean it up a bit.

You see, Disneyland's "World on the Move", Tomorrowland, used to be one of my favorite areas in the park. Back then, Imagineering used to be forward thinking, instead of thinking how they can cram more animated characters into Walt Disney's original Magic Kingdom. Back then, Nemo was proceeded by the word "Captain".

No matter. This is still a pretty stunning piece of Imagineering art for Disneyland. But I do know it makes me long for earlier days when an optimistic future was just a dream away.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

July 21, 2013

Wondering, Wondering

What a week! Not one of the best by any stretch of imagination.  Yet, I think, "What was that all about?" Potential major job changes, hearing absolutely untrue gossip about myself, and encountering someone who continues to be evil towards me and my family- all because of what we choose to believe. Incredible!

So, what was that all about? Still wondering, but I know I am stronger than what comes against me because of Who is in me.

July 19, 2013

Horizons Had It All

There's something, well, magical, about this concept art for Walt Disney World's Horizons attraction at EPCOT Center. Is it the nighttime glow? Partially. The use of blues, greens, and purples with small touches of red and yellow give the artwork a sizzle and mystery that came to life in real life after dark. (Click on it for a huge size.)

Perhaps its the memories I have associated with the attraction itself...

The idea of stealing away on a beautiful Florida night- of course right after a brief storm- and venturing into the future through a building that sparkled in the moonlight made the attraction very hard to resist. There was a quiet elegance to Future World back then, when the whole park operated late into the evening,  when shopping and drinking around World Showcase weren't the main reasons for a park visit, when the park hadn't been dumbed down by the character invasion.

The wonders inside the beautiful Horizons building didn't disappoint. From the storyline to its unique execution through various medium, Horizons drew in guests. The lengthy show time was a plus: you actually had time to mentally leave your current place and time to venture into a new world. Soaking in the wonders around you, immersing yourself in its emotional impact. There's something 2 and 3 minute attractions like Mission: Space (the replacement) cannot achieve. 

Then, there's the music. Sure, the lyrics in the vocal pieces had an innocent cheesiness. But it was at once compelling and hopeful all the same. The instrumental pieces, however, stunned in their presentation and power. Mind blowing! 

Check out this ultimate Horizons music tribute:  

If you want more, just search the Insights blog for more, more art, more photos, more commentary on the EPCOT Center of old. It really was something then!

(Art and music copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

July 17, 2013

Tony Baxter's Discovery Bay

Long lost Imagineering projects always fascinate me- and this incredible piece of concept art for the never-built Discovery Bay is darn near top of the list when it comes to abandoned attractions for Disneyland

Soon to be Disney Legend Tony Baxter created this land to showcase a variety of thrilling new adventures. Island at the Top of the World was the newest film from Disney at the time. It was ambitious and flawed, a complete flop. Guess where this left Tony's pet project? 

Now relegated to the heap of artwork left behind- and right into the annals of projects that would never come to pass in their original form. Pieces would find its way into Disneyland Paris, however. Take a closer look by clicking on the top image.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

July 15, 2013

Thoughts from Dear Old Dad

So many random and crazy thoughts going through my head as I read the headlines and on line conversation boards! 

Let's start with Cory Monteith from Glee. It wasn't a show I saw more than once or twice, but here's a guy who from most accounts had everything- looks, talent, charm, friends, success, and money. But all the things the world offers couldn't take the edge off his drive for living on the edge. And this time, he lost. Very sad. I hope his death helps someone else find help with their addictions.

Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman. Clearly, the race / justice tensions are bound to continue anew now. Black kid, Hispanic man. Guns, fear, violence, tension. The world and the human race continues its downward spiral.

Lest you think all I do is bemoan the state of the human race, I also bemoan the state of other aspects of life! 

Yes, Monsters University will probably outdo The Lone Ranger in the United States. Big loss- enough money to feed a small nation for years. 

My family continues to be a blessing. With my sister recently in town and my kids raising their own kids (with three more on the way), it's clear I'm a pretty blessed man. Besides, my wife is well worth her weight in gold.

The State of Disney's American Parks and D23.  Now that California Adventure mostly rocks, and Disneyland is in tip top shape, isn't it time for Walt Disney World to see some serious upgrades? And not just to compete with Universal Orlando in the ongoing battle! (Psst. Disney's losing, by the way. The edge now belongs to the newcomer who has come out swinging for years now and their Royal Pacific Hotel is tons less than Disney's Polynesian Resort. I know. I looked at the rates for our next trip. Sorry, Disney.)

Let's be honest: Epcot is traveling full speed ahead to become the World's most beautiful shopping and dining center; Animal Kingdom has de-evolved into just a zoo; and Disney's Hollywood Studios makes California Adventure sparkle in comparison. Only the perennial favorite, the Magic Kingdom seems slightly fresh thanks to a New Fantasyland environment (but not the new attractions). The bright spot? The competition for the dollar might bring on a slew of new and first class attractions worldwide.

The Political environment: more of the same. And under President Obama, we continue to move backwards in about every area. How's that change working for you? It's not for me.

A rant? A rave? Absolutely. It's time we stopped taking it on the chin and start fighting back. It starts by looking within and realizing we need help. We mouth the words that we belong to a higher power but our lives show much too little of His influence. Mine included. Please, God, let that change!

July 5, 2013

Ranger No Pirates

Disney's The Lone Ranger is a pretty gutsy, politically incorrect, film. Where else can you find a contemporary film in this century that a- shows slavery hits a multitude of races and b- exposes the fallacies associated with the liberal agenda regarding firearms and corporal punishment? Yes, I said that.

Hidden in a very long story without many moments of pure fun (until the last quarter of the film), our hero, John Reid, played with a strange quirkiness by Armie Hammer,  comes to the conclusion that sometimes bad guys will remain evil- and that no amount of idealistic talk of justice will change them. Am I all for citizens to take the law into their own hands? Not at all- at least not in the 21st Century. The Lone Ranger also discovers villains sometimes are hidden behind the most pleasant of men and women. Tough lessons to learn in the Wild West.

Oh yeah, Tonto and Johnny Depp. Typical twisted hero role we've seen before. Nicely played but risks becoming a stereotype.

The movie had the potential to be fantastic as the storyline is gripping and the scenery spectacular. However, that said, this Ranger is not on par with the first and best Pirates of the Caribbean. Maybe the next chapter in the saga will be better.

(Image copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

July 4, 2013

Disneyland Attraction Posters: The Tomorrowland Collection

Continuing on to the last post of the Disneyland Attraction Posters series, it's time to present Tomorrowland!

Back in 1955 when Disneyland opened, it was pretty evident that Walt's park would set aside space for a land devoted to the future. His ABC Television show included a segment, many actually, piquing viewer's interest, readying them for a visit to the world of the future.

In contrast to the incredible mashup of architecture and themes found in Disneyland's Tomorrowland right now, at opening it was more unified in spirit but still quite the mess.

There just wasn't enough money to truly finish this part of the park, so the Imagineers made due with corporate exhibits and decorated buildings with a variety of banners and bunting to make up for what no money couldn't buy. It worked for awhile because the idea of a theme park seemed so groundbreaking... and because Walt's enthusiasm for and skill in marketing the park made a powerful one-two punch.

Although it was quite tame by today's thrill-seeking standards, TransWorldAirlines' (TWA) Rocket to the Moon was considered one of the high tech successes of the park and the centerpiece of Tomorrowland.  The giant, iconic, rocket ship stood tall in the sky, promising and delivering an out of this world experience.

Space StationX-1 gave guests a chance to see America from a satellite view, something quite uncommon even for today. It was a simple exhibit, but the attention to detail in theme and a smart presentation created another Tomorrowland attraction worth visiting. It was one of the smaller attractions that contributed to giving the park its charm, but it was groundbreaking in thought. Decades before the premier of Google Earth!

The only original attraction still remaining in the land, and an all-time favorite of the younger set of guests, Autopia, was a breakout smash. Who could resist driving their own car on the freeways of tomorrow? Every kid and swinging dad (shown above) just had to get in on the action! 

In 2016, Honda took over sponsorship of Autopia.
Photo from Mint Crocodile at Magic Eye.
Clean up from yours truly.

It became so popular that a mini-version (Jr. Autopia) was built and eventually one for the Fantasyland area as well. I still find it great fun when I do take the time to ride during an off season visit when the kiddos are back in school.

1966 Tomorrowland poster.

To fill out the smaller opening day attraction roster, a precursor to CircleVision 360 was developed, featuring nine instead of twelve screens. Finally, the Imagineers mined the giant sea monster from the very popular Disney film, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, to create a walk through exhibit. The poster (first image) bears some resemblance to the one designed for a walk through Nautilus attraction designed for Disneyland Paris almost 40 years later. (the attraction in the French park is a must-do for any fan of the film or Jules Verne! In a small lagoon right next to Space Mountain, it's a pretty special gem, though often overlooked as just a set piece.)

Later in 1955, once the park became famous and a mecca for tourists, smaller attractions came to the land of the future to help with crowds. These were not headliners, like the Flight Circle, the House of the Future, and the Tomorrowland Boats.  None of them warranted an attraction poster for more publicity.

Within the next year, Walt began to fulfill has promise that "Disneyland would never be completed", and a couple of new and instantly beloved attractions were added to Tomorrowland.  

The Skyway debuted, provided scenic views for guests going to and from Tomorrowland into Fantasyland. From opening day to 1994, this attraction pleased crowds, and the management was rewarded with long lines at both stations. 

As the park grew, the skyway provided everything from a safe look at the thrill ride (Matterhorn Bobsleds) to advertising for the New Fantasyland of 1983. Due to changing times, guest manners, and legal eagles, the attraction ultimately displeased the corporate lawyers always on a lookout for whatever disaster could happen. It's loss created a void never met in any other attraction.

Found this rare poster on the Gorillas Don't Blog site.

With one of the briefest fully operating attractions ever to appear at Disneyland, the Viewliner was the predecessor to the monorail. It lasted about a year. Riding alongside the Disneyland Railroad at parts, it was futuristic looking but destined for the history books very quickly.

The rare and not fully completed 1956 version of the poster.

The other high flying ride was AstroJet, an instantly popular spinner attraction, its iconic shape and style piercing the Tomorrowland sky in one variation or another ever since. In its latest incarnation, the attraction has been grounded, thereby losing much of its appeal, becoming a ride for pre-schoolers versus thrill seekers.

All these smaller attractions lended charm to a formerly barren area, but in 1959, three major attractions stole the spotlight, becoming fan favorites that lasted for decades beyond their debut.

The Submarine Voyage launched a cult following- and many variations on this attraction exist or have existed in other Disney parks. A journey through "Liquid Space" was irresistible, proving so popular, another version Walt Disney World's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, made the roster for opening day attractions at the Magic Kingdom in 1971. Naturally, it's also the centerpiece attraction of the Jules Verne themed Mysterious Island at Tokyo Disney Sea.

Also coming on line was the Disneyland-Alweg Monorail, which is still in operation to this day. At opening, the trains journeyed right to the Disneyland Hotel, but now due to the reconfiguration of the land around it, trains glides past California Adventure and into the  Downtown Disney station. The station location hasn't changed, it's just no longer part of the hotel.

As the poster above shows, the third major "E Ticket" attraction to be launched at the same time was the Matterhorn Bobsleds. Its location has fluctuated between Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. Park enthusiasts debate which of the two sides of the attraction provide the greatest thrill.  (To see the poster with a designation of Fantasyland, look here.)

A smaller attraction opened in 1960, and it only lasted a few years. The Art of Animation exhibit gave guests a chance to see for themselves what it took to create the beloved Disney characters. It would be a precursor to a more detailed attraction that would open at Disney-MGM Studios in 1989.  A special thanks to Gorillas Don't Blog website, where I found this poster and the one from the Viewliner.

The only Tomorrowland attraction to be revived in revised form in California Adventure first came to surface in 1961: The Flying Saucers. Operational problems derailed the long term life of the attraction, but it was beloved by a young John Lasseter. So enamored was he, that when it came to light that his Cars franchise would be the inspiration at the struggling park, John thought it a perfect fit as Luigi's Flying Tires

Tomorrowland mostly rested as is until the big redo of 1967.  And a big redo it was! Beginning a trend that still holds power today, the Imagineers redesigned the Land of the Future using much of the existing buildings and layout of space.

Fan favorite and the original Disneyland make out spot, Adventure Thru Inner Space drew crowds almost instantly- partially due to its location but mostly due to its imaginative plot and execution. This attraction holds the distinction of being the first ride to use the Omnimover system, a couple of years before its use in The Haunted Mansion. Even though it was a corporate promotional tool for Monsanto, the journey through the microscopic world of the snowflake was difficult to resist. It had it all: stunning atmosphere, incredible storyline, a mesmerizing musical soundtrack, and a great narration. All said, even its cutting edge replacement still left many fans wanting this old school attraction.

American Journeys played in the theater for as season as well!

Wonders of China from EPCOT Center
also played in Tomorrowland.

In the new Tomorrowland, a full Circle-Vision 360 film finally debuted, America the Beautiful. Honoring the States, guests were taken to far reaching locations and sights with action happening all around them. A different variation of this film came about later, American Journeys. As with a few of the attractions, new posters made their debut with the new incarnation of future lands. In the 80's, Wonders of China was next to fill the slot. The highly anticipated film came from the China showcase at EPCOT Center
Carousel of Progress. What is there to say about this iconic attraction? Doing a bit of research, I discovered two color versions of the attraction poster. My gut tells me that neither is in the original color scheme. Anyone have one in the right colors?

It was 1967, and the first man to step on the Moon wouldn't accomplish the task until 1969, so the Imagineers felt there was life left in the original concept. The earlier Rocket to the Moon changed its name to Flight to the Moon, and eventually to Mission to Mars. New technology improved the attraction and a sleek new exterior replaced the landmark rocket, itself returning to the 1998 incarnation of the land.

Like your Peoplemover with Tron? 
It didn't last for too long but it did add a new element to the attraction.

Perhaps the attraction hard-core Disneyland fans most miss is the PeopleMover. And for good reason! What could be more enjoyable on a hot summer day than gliding above it all, watching the crowds below as well as viewing the sparkling Submarine lagoon? Not much, actually. The ill-fated replacement attraction, Rocket Rods had an element of fun, but it lasted on the roster for about 30 seconds. Pity- but glad I rode it while it was still around. 

High atop Rocket Tower Plaza lies the Rocket Jets. Oh yeah, that's in Florida's Magic Kingdom! In Disneyland, the AstroJet didn't just change names. In the '98 redo, the jets were grounded. While the design seemed to be an up to date improvement, the placement ruined something iconic and special. I've ridden once since its been misplaced, and I probably won't again until I have a small child in tow.

The "Freaky Friday" promotional poster.

Space Mountain- iconic. An American cultural touchstone for young teens imported to other Disney Parks around the world. Walt wanted this at Disneyland from the 60s, but it wasn't built until technology made it possible in 1977. So glad it did! 

Michael Jackson and Disney- a natural fit?! Well, the suits thought so under the reign of Michael Eisner, and this strange film came to the park in 1986. The music was good, however.

EO in a slightly richer color pallet.

It was part of an era that saw other companies' properties arrive at Disneyland. In Adventureland, that meant the excellent addition of the Indiana Jones Adventure, while in 1987, Tomorrowland received the ground-breaking Star Tours. 

Two versions for a new "E Ticket" attraction! Directly above, the original poster for  1987 version of Star Tours.  It was certainly groundbreaking then, George Lucas brought magic to the parks in a form that the current generation understood all too well! Disney was passé. Star Wars was anything but. Version two was promised but wouldn't come until too many years later.

Tomorrowland 1998 opened to mixed reviews, but this nice poster (above) communicated the fresh update- even if the Rocket Rods didn't last long.

The tooning of Tomorrowland continues. 

The next era of changes brought Pixar/Disney animated characters to the parks, changing the feel and focus of Tomorrowland even more. A little orange fish arrived to make a big splash.

What would Tomorrowland be without a little controversy? When Tony Baxter led a team of Imagineers to bring Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage to the long empty lagoon, some hailed it as a necessary move to save the submarines while others cried about the advancing infestation of animated characters into a land dedicated to the worlds of the future. Both points valid from this man's perspective! It may have been a necessary move to save the lagoon, but I think the end result is lacking. I've ridden twice. Both time, the kids on board were loving it- and I enjoyed it but missed what used to be. Filmed fish just didn't do it for me. In fact, I prefer the similar attraction to Epcot Center instead.

Here are the new posters for Star Tours ("2"), the Adventure Continues. After years of suggesting new destinations because it was an easy format to update, the suits finally delivered in the 2000's! All a great lead in to the proposed Star Wars changes coming to Tomorrowland in 2015 forward.

Photo taken on my 2018 visit to the park.

When Star Tours 2.0 (The Adventures Continue) arrived, so did a brand new attraction poster! This was a GREAT way to get guests to experience the attraction all over again- this time with multiple, varied destinations.

When the film Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opened at the end of 2019, a new attraction poster debuted to coincide with the ride adding new scenes from the latest film.

The August 2015 D23 announcement of Star Wars Land at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World also brings the Star Wars themed HyperSpace Mountain to California. The poster premiered at the exposition.

This post wraps up the look at Disneyland attraction posters. What comes next in this series? I just don't know, but stay tuned- and thanks for your patience on this last one.

Special thanks to Daveland and Yesterland for some of the images- and to Gorillas Don't Blog site for the rare Viewliner and Art of Animation ones.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)