January 31, 2020

Design Detail: Sir Mickey's at the Magic Kingdom

For a fan who doesn't get to visit Walt Disney World all that often or even only once in a lifetime, it's understandable to rush around from ride to ride trying to get the most experiences for your money and time. I know I certainly found that to be true in each of my three visits to Disneyland Paris! Yet, slowing down and doing a bit of exploring often provides greater appreciation for what the Imagineers placed in the parks. You know, those small design details that separate Disney Parks from your local Six Flags.

Going into Fantasyland from Cinderella Castle, I popped into one of my favorite shops: Sir Mickey's. When you consider the impact one little mouse had on Disney's world, there are very few tributes to the him to be found in the park. Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway is about to change that for the Studios park, but in the Magic Kingdom, he's harder to come by. This charming shop is inspired by the 1947 animated classic, Mickey and the Beanstalk. The outside of the building is clever, but you'll only find this hidden Mickey if you step inside, proving small surprises often await those who take time to look deeper.

(Photograph copyright Mark Taft.)

January 30, 2020

Two from 72

Just for the records, some shots for my family...

January 29, 2020

An Evening at Disney's Animal Kingdom

I absolutely love Disney's Animal Kingdom at night! It's just a giant expanded version of the Magic Kingdom's Adventureland! There's few things I enjoy more on my Walt Disney World vacation than zooming out the mountain of the Expedition: Everest ride on those tighter than tight curves of the track. This stunning photo captures the beauty and mystique of it all. Pandora's beautiful and Kilimanjaro Safaris' fun, but taking off in search of the yeti is my favorite nighttime pleasure at Disney's wildest theme park.

(Photograph copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

Notable and Quotable: Tom Selleck

“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

      Actor Tom Selleck, quoting the Bible

January 27, 2020

The Ultimate Rise of the Resistance Post

Now that it is open on both coasts, so much has been written and photographed about Disney's incredible new experience Rise of the Resistance. It is deserving of all the attention! In my opinion, no one has done a better job of telling the story and giving readers equally stunning photographs than Albert Lam at Westcoaster. Give your eyes a treat and go to this link now, but remember, there are spoilers galore!

(Photograph copyright Albert Lam.)

January 24, 2020

Stunning New Retro-Tomorrowland Desktop

Disneyland concept art and attractions posters are some of my favorite pieces to collect! I love it for all the resorts, actually, but there's something special about those for California as it is my "home park". 

Above is a beautiful piece with a retro-inspired flair by Imagineer Eric Robinson to honor another Imagineer (and one of my favorite artists), Herb Ryman. This piece has it all- the majestic Matterhorn and its bobsleds, the classic monorail cruising by, Sleeping Beauty Castle, the long missed skyway buckets, and the iconic date palm with its multiple trunks. Look even closer, and you'll find the sign for the Submarine Voyage, the spires of It's A Small World and a Peoplemover car. Back then, Tomorrowland was certainly a world on the move!

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

January 23, 2020

D23's Fantastic World's Gift Map

What an odd little gift subscribers get when they join D23! This gift map is a fun bit of a mash up, mixing Spaceship Earth from Epcot with Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge and other locations. Is it enough to make me subscribe? Hmmm...

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

January 22, 2020

Only A Holy God

Who else commands all the hosts of heaven
Who else could make every king bow down
Who else can whisper and darkness trembles
Only a Holy God
What other beauty demands such praises
What other splendour outshines the sun
What other majesty rules with justice
Only a Holy God
Come and behold Him
The One and the Only
Cry out, sing holy
Forever a Holy God
Come and worship the Holy God
What other glory consumes like fire
What other power can raise the dead
What other name remains undefeated
Only a Holy God
Come and behold Him
The One and the Only
Cry out, sing holy
Forever a Holy God
Come and worship the Holy God
Come and behold Him
The One and the Only
Cry out, sing holy
Forever a Holy God
Come and worship the Holy God
Who else could rescue me from my failing
Who else would…

(The Bible calls Jesus the Lion of Judah. Above the powerful song by CityAlight.)

January 20, 2020

Magic Kingdom Attraction Posters: The Tomorrowland Collection

An Introduction: Don't you just love Disney attraction posters? I do, and I have several in our home, reminding me of many visits to the parks over the years. When the internet first came around, I began searching for them. It became somewhat of a hobby to find as many as I could. The opening of the first Disney Gallery and Store and later, the option to print on demand was a boon to this ongoing quest.

Several years ago, 2011 to be precise, I first published my collection of Disneyland's iconic attraction posters, land by land, beginning with Main Street. I continued gathering these images from many, many, sources from all over the world, including auction sites and those from the great Daveland blog. But an unexpected source brought in the largest number of the pieces I had seen.

After years of searching, I was sent missing posters from my good friend (and eventually this blog's additional author) Len Yokoyama. He had gathered them from a variety of official Disney documents covering many of the parks in the ever growing Disney park universe. Upon looking at them and what I already had collected, I was astounded. I had amassed just about everything I'd wondered and heard about- and soon after, the first post appeared on the Insights blog. I had no idea this series would become so popular. (Look here.)

Naturally, I began to think about doing the same for the other Disney resorts, beginning with Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. This was more of a challenge as 1- There are fewer attraction posters created, and 2- There did not seem to be as much interest in parks beyond Walt's original.

That was, until The Walt Disney Company put together its own book, Poster Art of the Disney Parks. Covering all the Disney Parks, it is a magnificent work of love that included its own tear out poster at the end of the final chapter.

One last note as I begin this series of attraction posters in the Magic Kingdom: Over time, as I found with the Disneyland group, I keep discovering more to add, so look back every once in awhile. You may discover something new. Enjoy!
Eastern Airlines sponsored If You Had Wings.

Tomorrowland is first. Unlike the collection for Disneyland, I have the largest number of attraction posters for this area of the Florida park. That is in direct contrast to what happened opening day when this area had so few actual attractions to enjoy!

In 1971, the beautiful Magic Kingdom finally opened its doors to guests in the midst of The Walt Disney World resort complex in Florida. The massive undertaking of building, essentially, the real EPCOT- a full city and vacation complex- placed a huge financial strain on the company. Much like Disneyland's realm of the future, the new Tomorrowland had to open with minimal attractions. With time and budget coming into play, many concepts for attraction posters came from Walt's California park.

Lots of clean up needed on this one!
A revision of the Disneyland original.

The Grand Prix Raceway was here, thrilling young kids and their parents who got to watch them drive. It sat on a huge piece of land as drivers didn't cruise by the landscape single file. No, this was an actual race between drivers. A nice twist on the original Autopia in California. Worthy of two posters.

Circle-Vision 360 was here as well, with America the Beautiful giving audiences a lovely tour of the country. Filmed attractions from the Magic Kingdom would prove to be popular inspirations for EPCOT Center, which would open a decade later. The attraction poster was a copy of the same one on the West Coast. 

American Journeys would update the original. Later, Magic Carpet 'Round the World replaced the American film. 

I have never found that poster, so the one above is actually from Tokyo Disneyland. I'm confident in time that one will surface.

Direct from Disneyland.

A version of the Flight to the Moon and the Skyway to Fantasyland rounded out the roster. (Unlike the first kingdom, there would be no train station in the land of the future.) I do not know if there was a poster created for Flight or not. Maybe you can tell me as I have never been able to get a clear answer to that question.

About nine months after the grand opening, the Eastern Airlines sponsored fan favorite If You Had Wings opened. Although this addition helped fill out time spent there, it was a massive addition to the area in 1975 that changed the face of Tomorrowland going forward. It was also one of the few attractions here that existed with two changes in sponsorship, new names, and significant re-Imagineering.

Decades late, this would appear.

In addition to the iconic roller coaster in the dark, the high flying AstroJets came into view on the skyline, and a few months later, the WEDWay Peoplemover began its grand tour of Tomorrowland.

As I wrote about in this article, eventually Tomorrowland needed an overhaul. With new attractions and a new aesthetic, a this beautiful poster arrived on the scene showing off the land's alien inspired elegance. 

This Timekeeper poster was taken from my 1999 photo.
I enhanced as best I could for this article.

The Timekeeper, starring Robin Williams as the friendly robot that takes you through history, had a poster within the land to advertise an exhibit at the "Tomorrowland Metropolis Science Center". Because the poster was located within the land and was part of the story, no "branded" official attraction poster exists. 

I would certainly love to find a better looking attraction poster for the out-of-the-box ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, but as far as I know, one does not exist. This is the best one out there.

Probably the best place for this attraction poster.

I'd like to end this article with three posters from Greg Maletic. As you can see below, even though they were unofficial at the time, these are beautiful pieces of art celebrating Tomorrowland, Space Mountain, and the long-gone but beloved attraction, If You Had Wings (had wings, had wings, had wings... Sorry, couldn't resist).


Mr. Maletic's love of Disney attraction posters eventually propelled him to create his own. As a result, Greg was hired on by Disney to create beautiful posters for Hong Kong Disneyland and California Adventure

That's it for today. Keep your eyes open for the next chapter in the attraction poster saga!

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

January 18, 2020

Early Morning at Disneyland

Rise of the Resistance has finally opened at Walt Disney's original Magic Kingdom. The crowds are insane, the boarding groups are a "novel" approach that seems to be full of challenges, and Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge will finally be complete months after the Millenium Falcon: Smuggler's Run debuted. Problems and crowds aside, Disneyland is still pretty magical! This photo, taken from "Th3 DUd3" at the WDWMagic Boards shows the park in its early morning grandeur. 

January 16, 2020

One Out of Eight

Will you be next? Hatred is a universal condition, and what people do to each other because of it is often extreme and with lasting consequences. No one is immune from the effects. Hard core persecution for spiritual beliefs is very common in the world we live in.  Yesterday morning, Open Doors, a Christian relief organization released its World Watch List for 2020, the 50 Countries Where It's Most Dangerous to Follow Jesus. Yes, China, home of Shanghai Disneyland, is on it at #23. So is the home of the (most likely) next Magic Kingdom, India, at #10.

The list is formed from data researched in two main areas: Violence and Pressure (National Life, Community Life, Family Life, Church Life, and Private Life.) Violence includes murder, rape, imprisonment etc. 

That statistics show an overall increase of 6% from 2019. Here's the current "Top 50":

Jesus himself warned his believers about coming persecution for those who follow after him. The Bible's book of Matthew gives this in detail that even mother and father would turn their children over the be killed and visa versa.

According to this year's report, 260 Million people suffered severe persecution because of their faith- 1 out of 8 believers in Jesus- with almost 3,000 killed, 3,700 wrongfully jailed, and almost 10,000 churches and buildings destroyed. 

Maybe you're not a Christian, and you don't care. But you should. This famous writing by Martin Niemöller - written during the middle of the 1940s- should make you think twice:

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

(Data copyright Open Doors.)

January 15, 2020

Not Seen at the Top of Expedition: Everest

Now here's that sign that's missing at Animal Kingdom. You know, the one that should be at the top of Expedition: Everest but was cut due to budget overruns... Man, I need to remind myself of this every time I don't get my way.

January 14, 2020

Rare Look at Disneyland's Tomorrowland 2055

The Potter and Potter auction on line mentioned by Alain Littaye at the Disney and More blog yields some pretty fantastic pieces of concept art if you dig into its 31 pages. Above is a piece by Imagineer Dan Gooze for the proposed revision to Walt's kingdom, found on the auction site. Dan is also known for his very famous piece of Indiana Jones Adventure art. (Please note that other pieces below are not from that same site.)

Having been fascinated by the Land of the Future, I remained very interested into what it would become, particularly when the iconic and very stunning Tomorrowland 1967 would begin to change. A visit to the park several decades later would bring something unexpected...

The year was 1990, and I was exploring Disneyland one afternoon with my sweet young family. What a great day already! We decided to walk over to Tomorrowland to take in the Autopia and let the kiddos try their hands behind the wheel for the first time. Heading straight into the land, the carousel theater was ahead, but as we got closer, something looked different.

Next to it, once home of the famous Carousel of Progress and patriotic America Sings, was a billboard for a new attraction called Plectu's Intergalactic Revue. For some strange reason I wouldn't understand until much later, I snapped this photo of the concept art... and held on to it for many years.

Back in 2008, when I began the Insights blog, I knew Disney fans would find this piece of unbuilt history of interest. Boy, was I right! Within days of first posting it in March of that year, my humble photograph showed on on blogs and websites all over the world. And it's still be reposted to this day. Glad I took the photo!

The model for the new Carousel building.
Photographer unknown.

As I explored around the web myself, I discovered I was not the only one fascinated by Tomorrowland and especially the unbuilt 2055 version. I cannot tell you who did the artwork for the piece I photographed. I do not know to this day.  There was more concept art for this project floating around and more chem year after year. 

A different park, a different look?
Or was this for Disneyland as well?

Anyway, back to the plans. Much like the two shows before it- expertly designed by Imagineer Marc Davis- Plectu's was to be an Audio-Animatronic comedy musical show and a core but small part of a new alien infested Tomorrowland dubbed Tomorrowland 2055

The less friendly Alien Encounter.

In fact, the Magic Kingdom in Florida's beloved (or reviled) Alien Encounter was also planned for the redesign. (And is it just me, or does the top of the building look much like the centerpiece that replaced the Rockets Jets high in the sky in the 1998 version of the Land of the Future?)

Florida's Tomorrowland changed from this...

...to this.

Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom did get Alien Encounter and some new experiences, but not Plectu's. The fantasy inspired future was well received overall but lost steam over time, as most Tomorrowlands seem to do. (Read about it here.)

Disneyland's redo in 1998.

One of the Plectu characters.

Back to California. Around this time, CEO Michael Eisner and the suits took a very long, hard look at which attractions that were crowd pleasers (and people eaters) and which were not. As a result,  musical talking bears, tikis, and even Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters in Audio-Animatronic form were no longer a big draw. (Expanded history here.) 

Thanks to Mike Cozart from the Tomorrowland67 Lounge for this 2055 piece.

The plans were scrapped. Perhaps not a bad decision as theme park demographics were changing. So, Plectu's and the whole of Tomorrowland 2055 became a piece of Disney lore and history. Its art was delegated to table top books and blog articles. Disneyland's futuristic land remained mostly untouched until 1998 when Imagineer Tony Baxter tried the best he could with a limited budget to reimagine the future. In came the short lived Rocket Rods and some new aesthetics with a few Florida retreads. 

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company. Top photo copyright Mark Taft.)

Pieces of Olivia's Legacy

Quite a stunning piece of eye candy, isn't it? Throughout each season of her life, Olivia Newton-John was always presented by her label in the most fetching of ways even if some photographs or music didn't always stand the test of time. The song itself is an 80's tune: frantic, lively, and ultimately a lot of fun but not one that is timeless. 

While out for a visit back home, my wife directed me to a large stack of vinyl as we were helping my recently widowed mother-in-law clean up/ clear out some belongings. These singles stood out to me (as did a copy of the Carpenters "Live at the Palladium" disc.) Which of her six children had such similar musical tastes? Hmmm.

As for The Best of Me, superstar producer David Foster set his sights on being an artist and more than a successful man behind the scenes. His voice on this 1986 release is adequate but not much more. Regardless, Olivia is as lovely as ever and the song ever more timeless. Certainly it will reflect a legacy of popularity and excellence. The song itself made the rounds as Kenny Rogers covered it as well. 

No, I didn't bring any of the finds home as my luggage was limited. But it got me to thinking, what will my kids take from my large collection of music and Disney memorabilia when I pass away? Some of it really is quite valuable as evidenced by what things sell for on e-bay. My legacy should be more than the things I enjoyed. What will yours be?

January 13, 2020

A Different California Adventure Entrance

Take a look at this an alternative entrance for Disney's California Adventure. We've all grown so accustomed to the famous "CALIFORNIA" letters with the flanking title murals that it is hard to believe another idea was once considered. 

A closer look shows an arbor with what looks like grape vines growing over the top, lush side gardens, and those famous tile murals pushed together just beyond the gates. Would this warmer, foliage filled entrance have set a more welcoming tone to guests considering where to spend their hard earned money for the day? Probably. But then again, had the second Anaheim park been a bit more successful, Robert Iger may not have announced the overhaul we got!

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

January 11, 2020

Back to the Future Again: Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland 1994 Edition

The year was 1994, and the mission seemed impossible: a full re-Imagineering of the Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland. Could the Imagineers bring a fresh perspective to Florida's crowning jewel of a theme park? The challenge was on- but it always was a challenge creating a land of the future.

Early guidebook page of Tomorrowland-
after the opening of a couple more attractions. 

Upon the Magic Kingdom's opening in 1971, the park's original Tomorrowland had a pretty, crisp, clean white palette. But it was lacking in a significant attraction roster. The Skyway, Raceway, Flight to the Moon and Circle-Vision 360 film was about all there was.

An original attraction poster.

Within the year after opening, the beloved If You Had Wings and the equally loved (and still missed in Disneyland) Wedway Peoplemover brought a new excitement to the land of the future. The contemporary feeling was clear- and still white, but the future was not.
One beautiful piece of  art for the Magic Kingdom. 

The mid-1970's opening of Space Mountain drove crowds to that side of the park. The land of the future was no flush with guests, and for the most part, the landscape stayed the same for the next decade or so. The iconic attraction had such an impact, that it was duplicated in various forms all over the world. (You can read about the historic impact here.)

Back to 1994, and the challenge made to the Imagineers. After much back and forth, it was decided that aliens would be invading the Florida Tomorrowland- and the future would never look as colorful! 

A new poster for a dazzling new land!

The beautiful but old standard Circle-Vision film would be replaced by The Timekeeper, starring Robin Williams as a robot with a mission. But it was the replacement for Mission to Mars that would become the most controversial: Alien Encounter

So not Disney but oh, so fun!

Scary and almost terrifying, guests would be trapped into an experiment gone bad. So unlike anything else in the Kingdom, it was loved and reviled at the same time. (Check out even more about Alien Encounter here.)

Above image from the amazing Vintage Disneyland Tickets

The land seemed to be a hit! My family and I couldn't wait for our next trip. We loved the new attractions, especially the encounter. At night, the place was even more beautiful with neon showing off all the new features. Great props, signs, and those cool palm trees set off the land as if it were in a galaxy far, far away. 

My photo of the attraction poster.

Flash forward to today. As expected, time has caught up with the  Magic Kingdom's land of the future. Alien Encounter and its child friendly replacement Stitch's Great Escape are gone. Timekeeper is now the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. Tron is coming and not too soon- even if its placement is less than perfect. 

The Imagineers are once again bringing change to the land. Can they pull it off once more? We will see.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company. Photograph of Timekeeper poster copyright Mark Taft)