Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Backstories: Prince Charming Regal Carrousel

Here is the cute backstory for the Walt Disney World carousel (one r or two?), which will soon have its name changed from Cinderella's Golden Carrousel.

Prince Charming Regal Carrousel

Following their fairy-tale romance and happily-ever-after wedding, Cinderella and Prince Charming took up residence in Cinderella's Castle. With peace throughout the kingdom, Prince Charming had time to practice for jousting tournaments. In the countryside near the castle, he built a training device of carved horses, on which he could practice the art of ring-spearing, a tournament event in which a knight rides his horse full speed, lance in hand, toward a small ring hanging from a tree limb, with the object of spearing the ring. This event was known by various names throughout the lands, but generally came to be called "carrousel."

The carrousel device drew the attention of the villagers, who wanted to take a turn on this amazing spinning contraption. So Prince Charming had a second carrousel constructed closer to the Castle, where everyone could take a spin on this wondrous invention. Instead of a working knight's training device, however, this new carrousel is more befitting its regal location in the Castle Courtyard - its rustic training horses replaced with ornately decorated prancing steeds adorned with golden helmets and shields, flower garlands, feathers and other festoons. Prince Charming invites one and all to test their horsemanship skills and to enjoy their own happy ending.

Port Disney and DisneySea

Here are two big updates for The Neverland Files; Port Disney, the ocean themed resort for Long Beach, California and DisneySea, the theme park that would have headlined it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Theme, Setting and Subject

I've recently been tackling an interesting issue in theme park theory - the very notion of theme itself. Theme is what separates the theme park from the amusement park, and yet there are a number of issues surrounding it.

Most people think of theme as place and time; so Frontierland's theme is the Wild West, in the mid 19th century, whilst Fantasyland's theme is fairytale Europe, during medieval times. And yet Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde takes the viewpoint that Theme shares a definition with the literary idea of theme - the unifying subject or idea of a work, timeless and unifying ideas such as 'man versus nature', 'moral ambiguity' or 'perseverance'.

And yet despite Joe's arguement that you cannot 'theme' something (it isn't a verb), the popular consciousness has taken it very much that way. If someone holds a 'theme party', you're unlikely to spot costumes representing 'ambition', 'loyalty' or 'suffering' in favor of Superman, Fred Flintstone and a Jedi Knight.

So what word should be used to describe what is currently called theming? Perhaps setting? Main Street is set in a turn of the century American small town, rather than themed to it?

Does that mean it should be called a Setting Park?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Backstories: Condor Flats

Condor Flats was once a Mecca for pilots and aeronautical innovators. The area brought the California aerospace industry from the beginning of the Age of Aviation to the beginning of the Space Age. Rumor has it the Lockheed Company built some of its top-secret fighters here before moving to Skunkworks and Jack Northrop did the prototype testing of the Flying Wing here.

From the mid-40s to the late 60s the area became the hub of rocket research and jet testing. As the aviation industry moved into more sophisticated jet, rocket and radar research, it moved into more sophisticated headquarters, but the old hanger remained. Slowly, pilots and aviation enthusiasts began to move back to this Mecca of flying. One of the retired experimental pilots from the Flight Test Center's heyday returned and set up Condor Flats Scenic Air Tours in the old motor pool.

And then a group of younger aviation enthusiasts found out that the old test site was still around. The hangar is now home to a new generation of fliers, and their logo stands out among all the faded images of years gone by. This group of dedicated aviators developed a sort of "flying theater", a simulator in which everyone can experience the exhilaration of flying. It was designed by the best young aeronautical minds, and then installed in the revered Condor Flats hangar.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Disneyland Sourcing and Activity 2

Someone suggested a chart would be a good way of showing the trends apparent through the data, so I created these two diagrams;



There's a big jump in sourced and active attractions in the early 1990s. That's due to the addition of Mickey's Toontown, where almost every attraction is both sourced and active (I think the only exception being the Jolly Trolley). Still, it shows the basing attractions on films is predominantly a 90s phenomenon - it was only two years ago that the number of sourced attractions overtook original ones.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Disneyland Sourcing and Activity

It seems to me that two of the major issues for ardent Disney fans are the balance between original attractions versus sourced attractions (ie. based on a film or other media property), and increasingly the amount of interactivity (or rather activity versus passivity) in attractions. So what I thought I'd do is create a table of Disney attractions since opening to check out the ratios through Disneyland's history.

The table, which can be found here, includes, I think, every Disneyland attraction - not including shows and fireworks. Some attractions which are different in name only (Big Thunder Ranch Petting Zoo and Little Patch of Heaven Petting Zoo) have been consolidated as one. Active I've defined incredibly broadly as any attraction that involves input from the guest - so yes Buzz Lightyear is active, but so is Dumbo (you pull a lever) and Autopia and so on.

So what does the data tell us?

Sourcing

In Disneyland's history, 69% of attractions have been original and not based on an established media property.

During opening year 1955, 68.6% of attractions were original.

Of all the attractions that came and went during Walt's life, 76.7% were original.

At present, 46.2% of Disneyland's current attractions are original.

Interactivity

In Disneyland's history, 24.8% of attractions have been active.

At opening, 14.3% of attractions were active.

Of all attractions existing until Walt's death, 18.4% were active.

At present, 38.5% of Disneyland's attractions are active.

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So there we go - some data to back-up (or refute!) people's claims. We can see here 'What Walt Did' as well as trends across time. I'm not intending to make any statement here (I'm not meaning to agree or disagree with any 'sourced attractions are bad' or 'interactivity is bad' points of view, or vice versa), I just wanted to contribute something to the debate!

The Disney Decade at Disneyland

The Disney Decade is one of the most legendary of Imagineering's project. Coming of the success of the Disney-MGM Studios, Michael Eisner announced a bold, ten year plan to boost the Disney park attractions around the world. Unfortunately, the financial difficulties at Disneyland Paris gave the executives cold feet, and despite the huge promotion, the idea was just left to fade away. With my interest in the never built plans of Imagineering, I thought I'd present a runthrough of the Disneyland plans:

1991

Indiana Jones would come to the park, just not in a ride. Instead, young Indy would star in the Young Indiana Jones Adventure Spectacular. Located at the Festival of Fools arena, the entire show would have been performed inside a circus tent with - get this! - the Disneyland Railroad actually running through the tent! Remember the locomotive chase from the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? Disney planned to perform exactly that right inside the tent ... unfortunately, Operations said it would interfere with the Disneyland Railroad passengers too much.

The Muppets would have begun their in-park presense (Disney was expecting to buy them at the time, although Jim Henson's death would delay the purchase by a decade) in Here Come the Muppets, a clone of the show at Disney-MGM Studios which would have been performed in the Videopolis theater.

Only one announced attraction - the Dick Tracy Musical Revue: Diamond Double Cross - would get the greenlight.

1993

The Muppets would continue their park invasion with Kermit the Frog Presents Muppet Vision 3D (note that it's not Jim Henson Presents at this time). Unbelievably, this clone of the Disney-MGM Studios attraction was considered to have been located in the Main Street Opera House, replacing Great Moments With Mr Lincoln. Barring that, the attraction was also planned to have been located in a new land:

Mickey's 65th Birthday would have been celebrated in a year long celebration, including the opening of Mickey's Starland - which we all know as Mickey's Toontown. As well as possibly holding Muppet Vision 3D in its downtown area, Mickey's Starland would additionally have included The Little Mermaid, a clone of the dark ride planned for Disneyland Paris.

1994

The next year would have seen the opening of the legendary Tomorrowland 2055 (named after the 1955 opening date of Disneyland. Overseen by George Lucas, the land would have included Alien Encounter - the same attraction that would open at Walt Disney World, and The Timekeeper, a clone of 'De Temps en Temps' from Disneyland Paris.

Brand new would be Plectu's Fantastic Intergalactic Revue, located in the Carousel of Progress theater, with Battle Droids upstairs.

1996

Dick Tracy's Crimestoppers, a high-speed car chase attraction, would combine "state of the art technology with a classic story from the past".

1999

1999 would expand the Crimestoppers locale into a whole new land - Hollywoodland, headlined with a clone of Disney-MGM Studios' The Great Movie Ride.

Roger Rabbit's Toontown would have been present with the Toontown Trolley simulator attraction and Baby Herman's Runaway Baby Buggy ride, a wild dark ride that probably evolved into Roger Rabbit's Car-Toon Spin. Superstar Television, a green-screen show, would have completed the land.

To conclude this post, here's a video segment featuring some of the mentioned attractions taken from 'The Disneyland Story: 35 Years of Magic':



Saturday, May 1, 2010

Disneyland Aesthetics

Sorry for the lack of updates recently, that would be due to my university course coming to and end, and having to work to meet all my final deadlines. However, these same deadlines should provide some new content in the coming weeks.

Just yesterday I handed in my dissertation project, 'Disneyland Aesthetics', an 11,000 word piece examining whether film aesthetic theory can be applied to the Disney parks. On Wednesday I shall be handing in 'A Disney World', an exploration of globalization and the Walt Disney Company, and shortly after that will be handing in a project examining the cultural impacts of Disneyland Paris. All of these will eventually make their way to this blog, so stay with me!

As for The Neverland Files, I have a lot of new content still to upload (including very, very rare concept art) so stay tuned!