Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Backstories: Grizzly River Run

German emigrant Jakob Probst discovered gold at Grizzly Peak in the mid-1800's. But far from being a genius, Probst's discovery was by pure chance. Frustrated at failing to get his mule across Grizzly River, Probst threw his hat into the river and trampled it. Picking it up and putting it back on his head, he discovered a one-pound gold nugget had fallen inside. Probst immediately staked a claim he later sold for millions to the Eureka Gold & Timber Company.

Nicknamed "The Pride of the Sierra", the Company was a successful business throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Gold was extracted from the mountain and shipped to San Francisco. A company office and adjoining store were built right next door as well. But by the early 1950s the mine was exhausted and Eureka Gold & Timber closed down. The structures stood empty for years with only the office and company store remaining in use, converted to an outdoor supply store.

The land itself was sold to the government to create the Grizzly Peak Recreation Area. Over the next few decades the land was reborn with trees growing back and rivers clearing up. Eventually, California's rafting enthusiasts discovered the whitewater thrills of Grizzly River and the word got out about the crystal-clear waters and Class V rapids there. By the 1980s, that hobby had grown into a business with several companies offering guided raft trips to customers. One of those companies was run by a savvy group of young entrepreneurs. They purchased the old mining structures to use as their base of operations. The Grizzly River Rafting Company was born.

Monday, May 21, 2012

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Tokyo DisneySea) Transcript

Whilst perhaps fighting for it's place with the Tower of Terror, the Indiana Jones Adventure, and perhaps Journey to the Center of the Earth for its position, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is my favorite attraction at Tokyo DisneySea. My own measure for how much I enjoy an attraction is often whether I would want to step out of the ride vehicle and explore its story-world, and 20,000 Leagues, along with classics like Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion, does that magnificently.

I'm not able to speak Japanese, however, and so I never knew what the ride spiel was telling me while riding. Fortunately, I was able to get a recording of it, and my very kind Japanese flatmate sat down with me and translated it. There are probably some mistakes, either from the recording quality or the fact that my flatmate had never ridden the attraction herself and had only my description of events to go from, but I think this is mostly there. Enjoy!

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Transcript

CREW: This is the control centre. Remote control system is set, stand by. Testing search light. Hatch and air lock shut. Propeller condition good. Air pressure and hydrogen meter is clear. Testing submarine defence system. Dive. Nearing twenty thousand leagues. All systems clear, so from now on, we’re going to start remote controlling submarine.
NEMO: Volunteer crew, this is Captain Nemo. Welcome to the magnificent underwater world. In this mysterious ocean, there may be highly developed intelligent beings. Your mission is to solve that mystery.
CREW: Manual search light ready to turn on.
NEMO: Good, everybody in the submarine, you can control search light with the joystick. Please be careful when you search. You have to investigate very carefully. Don’t miss anything or any movement. Your discoveries may bring new knowledge to humankind.
CREW: It’s almost at the destination.
NEMO: Good, rise slowly.
CREW: Captain, defence system is activated. It’s going to be dangerous. Something is attacking!
NEMO: All ahead full power.
CREW: It seems like we are captured. We can’t move!
NEMO: Increase voltage, and attack it.
CREW: Captain, the voltage of the submarine is decreasing quickly. It’s going down.
NEMO: What?!
CREW: The main power is overheating. Captain, we changed to back-up system.
NEMO: Okay. Can you analyse where we are?
CREW: No, it looks like we’ve strayed into some unknown abyss. Captain, backup power is decreasing and oxygen level is dangerous. Oxygen is in the danger level.
NEMO: Minimise the use of energy.
CREW: Aye-aye.
NEMO: Bring the submarine up quickly. We must save the volunteer crew. Can you ascend?
CREW: No, the control has not been recovered. Wait! It looks like something is pushing the submarine up. It’s a miracle! Captain, the submarine is back!
NEMO: I am pleased you have all come back safe. But there are many mysterious which are not yet solved. There is no end to our study and exploration. I look forward to your return to this mysterious sea.
CREW: Please stay seated. We will now begin unloading the submarine. Please gather your bags and watch your step as you unload. 


Friday, March 23, 2012

Architectural Replication in Studio Parks

Following on from my last post which made available a resource I'd compiled, I present this next webpage which allows for easy comparison of the replica Hollywood buildings used in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney California Adventure, Walt Disney Studios and Universal Studios Florida.

Recently, I've become fascinated with facades (facadinated?). In researching the authenticity of theme park facades, I found a wonderful resource on on the replicas in the studio parks ( Though hours of staring revealed intriguing details, my hand quickly grew tired scrolling up and down between the images, each time attempting to remember what the previous image looked like. So to help myself, I put together this webpage to easily compare the images side-by-side, and thought others might find it useful. Do give a visit for further great descriptions, history, insights and explanations for each of the images.


Except where otherwise noted, these images were compiled by Werner Weiss for, a fantastic resource, not myself.
All credit goes to him for the fantastic work he did in putting these investigations together.
I am solely reorganising their arrangement on this page.

The webpage can be found at:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spaceship Earth Script Comparison

So my friend Ian (of the terrific blog Pure Imagineering) has suggested that I add a new post to my blog, and while I can't upload anything analytical at the moment, I did want to share something that I think will interest fellow theme park students. In my research into theme park writing, I wanted to take a look at the evolution of the script of Spaceship Earth, which in my mind has run the full spectrum from some of the best theme park writing ever written ("Poised on the threshold of infinity, we see our world as it truly is: small, silent, fragile, alive, a drifting island in the midnight sky.  It is our spaceship.  Our Spaceship Earth.") to some of the very worst ("To move their armies around, they built a system of roads all over the known world. Rome built the first World Wide Web, and it’s leading us into the future.").

Four different versions of the script have been written; the original by none-other than the genius Ray Bradbury. They are fascinating to compare. The original is poetic, esoteric, and perhaps to a theme park audience, convoluted. The latest has been attacked as dumbing down, cramming in references to 21st century buzzwords. (And in some cases, curious - 'Islamic scholars' has been changed to 'Arabic').

Here's an example of the change; the opening scene at the dawn of recorded time. The original:

"Where are we now?  It is the waiting dawn where vast things stir and breathe.  And with our first words and first steps, we draw together to conquer the mammoth beast.  It is the dawn of a new beginning, the dawn of recorded time."

And the current:

"Here in this hostile world is where our story begins. We are alone, struggling to survive, until we learn to communicate with one another. Now we can hunt as a team and survive together."

You can find the document at:

I think it's also relevent to include this quote from Walt: "You can’t live on things made for children – or for critics. I’ve never made films for either of them. Disneyland is not just for children. I don’t play down."