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Posts tagged ‘Tomorrowland’

Space-Age Disney Design

Source: The Hardyman Files

NPR has a story today about Space-Age design in honor of the Space Shuttle’s last mission. Point being that this really is the end of an era in America (I’ve got dope rhymes), not only are the Shuttles being retired, but America’s fascination with space exploration is waning. There was a time in the late 50’s and early 60’s when space was not only the final frontier, it was the awesome lunchbox, car, coffee shop and amusement park frontier as well.

I love lunchboxes.

The story references Walt Disney’s love of space and how he funneled that love into the design of Disneyland using southern California aerospace engineers. For people who don’t know, aerospace is HUGE in SoCal. During my time there, I met people who worked on the SR-71, the Shuttle and the Stealth Bomber. I had friends whose family were involved in the Apollo and Gemini programs and what I alway assumed were the future Mars missions. Point being, Angelenos know their space stuff. Disney took that design expertise as well as the love of the aesthetic and grew what is now Tomorrowland from California farm land.

Using far out materials like plastics, foam and aluminum, Disney crafted a vision of the future, knowing even then that corporations and commerce would be built into the system in a way that becomes part of your every day routine. It stood as a white, clean, gleaming peek into what our future could become, full of hope, promise, a sensible allocation of resources and much like Gene Roddenberry, a way for all to live peacefully together.


Sadly, that vision has been replaced with an odd mix of Jules Verne, Steampunk, CGI and Las Vegas. The giant rock forms in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World at the entrance to Tomorrowland remind me more of a Mission to Mars, which oddly enough doesn’t exist anymore, then a stroll into a better tomorrow.



Have a listen to today’s NPR story. There’s even a soundbite of Disney talking about a day when Shuttle missions would become a daily event, much like driving to work. I miss that American optimism. Disney was as optimistic as anyone during that age. And for that, I thank him.

New Star Tours 2.0 Destination Reveled!!!

In an announcement early this morning that caught most insiders, investors and cast members by surprise, Disney and Lucasfilm announced that one of the new Star Tours experiences will center around none other than Captain EO!

“We’re very excited to finally be able to tell the public about this,” a source inside Lucasfilm said. “Those of us that have been here since the 80’s have always thought Captain EO was GL’s best work. And after the overwhelming positive response at Walt Disney World and Disneyland to the Captain’s return, we all knew that adding him and his crew to the Star Wars Universe was the right thing to do.”

Details were not announced other than Captain EO’s robotic security officer and one-man band, Major Domo, would be the pilot. The new version of Star Tours, dubbed Star Tours 2.0 by many, has long been expected to have several travel destinations including Tatooine, Endor and Alderaan as well as a run in with the Deathstar and Boba Fett. Major Domo will again be voiced be Gary DePew, as he did in the original 3D film in 1986.

Captain EO's robot security officer Major Domo will pilot guests into the world first shown in 'Captain EO' in 1986.

Of course, most speculation centered around Captain EO himself, Michael Jackson. “We’re using original footage, rehearsals, outtakes and even some concert film to bring Jackson back into the role he made famous. Computer technology allows us to create an environment where Jackson will live and breathe as the heroic Captain once again,” my source says. “Captain EO is back to save the Universe once again. With Dance!”

Look for an official announcement from the Mouse soon.

Walt Disney World Resorts Character Meet-and-Greets

Did you know you and your children can meet many Disney characters face-to-face at Walt Disney World? Of course you do. Do you know where they are? Maybe not.

One of the more surprising things about my recent trip to the Walt Disney World resorts in February was the number of character meet-and-greets in all 4 parks. My family and I have been 4 times since 2006, one trip to Disneyland, and when I lived in Southern California, we went to Disneyland at least once a month. I can honestly say I never saw the number of characters interacting with park goers be as many as in 2011.

I can speculate as to why, but firmly believe that John Lasseter’s overseeing of the Disney Parks has a lot to do with it. When I first took my daughter to Walt Disney World in 2006, the only characters we saw were either at the EPCOT Character meet, during early Magic Hours at the Magic Kingdom, or at the Character meals. During all my trips to Disneyland, I can only remember one Character interaction: Captain Hook and Smee on Thanksgiving morning when the park was EMPTY.

We should all write Mr. Lasseter a letter thanking him for what he's done for Disney and the parks.

Flash forward to 2011. In addition to the regular cast of characters at Hollywood Studios, which are very approachable by the way, we got to see Mike and Sully from Monsters, Inc. and Minnie Mouse in a nurses uniform filming something in front of the Brown Derby. Plus, Handy Manny at the Animation Courtyard. At EPCOT two hours after opening, we ran into both Stitch and Daisy Duck, with very short lines, at the front of the park. The EPCOT Meet-and-Greet indoor area was full with all the top-tier names.

Here I am accosting Evie Starlight. She was very gracious. And very thin.

Ms. Mouse getting her close up.

Magic Kingdom saw Pluto, Chip and Dale, Fairy Godmother, the Evil Stepmother and Step sisters, Mary Poppins at the Carousal IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY. Tigger and Pooh. Peter Pan, alone, and with no line. Woody and Jessie together, Capt. Jack, Jasmine, Frontier Donald, Buzz Lightyear and Future Chip and Dale. But the most surprising of all was Mickey and Minnie at Splash Mountain AND Space Mountain for over 4 hours! Both days we were in the park. This is in addition to the Celebration parade with a revolving cast, including the Mad Hatter, Baloo, Mr. Incredible, Mickey, Goofy and Mike Wazowski, plus the Castle show. And the talking trash can in Tomorrowland.

Thanks to Disney Nerd Stacey Lantz for the pic!

At Animal Kingdom, Goofy was outside at the gates, then inside Dinoland with Pluto. Flik, who I’ve never seen before, in between Africa and Asia, Lilo and Stitch near the Lion King and all the spots at Camp Minnie Mickey were full. We saw both Brother Bear, from, um, ‘Brother Bear’ and Terk from Tarzan.

Speaking of a Bug's Life, did you know Dot was voiced by Hayden Panettiere?

This is Terk. From Tarzan. Voiced by Rosie O'Donnell.

So all in all, a great experience. My guess is that cast members are swapping out turns so the characters are in the parks longer. There was a noticeable size difference in Stitch at Animal Kingdom from when he went in for his pineapple juice to his return.

As far as I know, all the characters will give autographs. And of course Disney just happens to sell autograph books with your favorite characters on them. But, I saw two things that I highly recommend. First, a pillowcase and a permanent marker. We got one of these for our daughter’s 7th birthday slumber party. All the kids signed it. It’s STILL on her bed, long after the gifts have been forgotten. Second, a large, blank Vinylmation. I saw this in someone’s window at POP Century with about 10 autographs, I almost knocked on the door to congratulate them on such a fabulous idea. This year, my little girl used her ‘Up’ Adventure Book (just like Ellie!) and some of the characters drew little doodles. Squee!

This is a Vinylmation. It's blank. Get it signed. Live a long a prosperous life 😉

Can you look at this and not get a tear? I can't. Bless Pixar for making such compelling characters.

Now, how to find them. For the most part, they were out in the open, if a little tucked off to one side. Mickey and Minnie were well off the beaten path, next to the rest rooms at Splash Mountain and in between the rest rooms and Space Mountain in Tomorrowland. Fairy Godmother was behind Cinderella’s fountain in Fantasyland, where as Peter Pan was next to Philharmagic.

Just announced today, Disney will offer FastPasses to meet Mickey in the Magic Kingdom this spring in side the referbed Exposition Hall area just inside the park.

There are some also some phone apps to help you find them, but I think you’ll do better taking your time in the parks, talking to cast members (they really are nice) walking those paths you’ve never been on before. As I like to say, to get the most from a Disney resort, you’ve got to get Just Off Main Street 🙂

Walt Disney World Scenes

Some iPhone shots from last week’s trip. I do so love my iPhone. Enjoy.

Why Disney?

Tomorrowland. My favorite of all the lands. Thanks to Express Monorail on Flickr.

Why indeed?

I went to Walt Disney World for the first time in 1977 with my grandfather, his new wife and her son. I was 7. We drove down in granddaddy’s candy-apple red Lincoln Town Car with a white leather roof. We stayed somewhere in Orlando. There are two things I remember about this trip: I was terrified of the Haunted Mansion; and I thought the Contemporary Hotel was from the future.

We stayed here once. It was delicious.

The next trip was the Summer of ’82 when EPCOT opened. There are two things I remember about this trip: being in awe of Spaceship Earth; and being laughed at by a group of Asian tourists for the shirt I was wearing (this was the 80’s after all, we all had those Japanese character shirts/head bands. Right? Just me?)

You know you totally had one of these back in the day.

Since then, I lived in Southern California for 5 years in the early 90’s where I went to Disneyland as much as possible. Even going on Thanksgiving once, which is still the emptiest I’ve ever seen a park. Mom and I ate corn dogs with Captain Hook and Smee.

Nothing says "Happy Thanksgiving" like a pirate and his fat little sidekick 🙂

We took our daughter for the first time in 2007 with my mom. Flew down, took the Magical Express, stayed at the All Star Music resort. My daughter remembers nothing of that trip. I’ll remember it forever. Since then, my wife and I and our daughter have been back to WDW at least 3 times and Disneyland once. We return in February next year.

I highly recommend this.

So what? You’ve read this far and I’ve made no point. You’re right, but you needed some background first. When I first began to toy with the idea of a Disney blog, it was to showcase some design ideas I had over the year. Stuff I’d like to buy in the parks, but have never seen. That idea grew into talking about things at Disney that you don’t see a lot. Not a critical view so much, but more of a “I did not know that!” angle. Then I found out a high-school classmate worked there after graduation. Then a grad student on campus I was photographing told me she interned there. Then I found out how many people on campus were former cast members. I’m awash in Disney content that no one else covers…

but why?

I adore the Disney parks. I adore most Disney films. I adore a lot of what’s on the Disney Channel. I adore Pixar, the Muppets and Star Wars…I think you see where this going. I love Disney because Disney takes care of everything. They look at all the angles. They talk and test and try and try and try to get it right. If it’s not right, they try harder. Ever been to the bathroom in a Disney park? Ever noticed them before. They’re always clean. ALWAYS. Ever seen a full trash can at Animal Kingdom? Ever not have a question not answered at Hollywood Studios? Ever seen anything broken or not working that wasn’t plainly marked as such? No, you haven’t. Disney takes care of its customers, of which I’m happy to be one.

Not Disney's brightest hour...

Or this. I didn't even like this when they remade it and called it "Avatar"

Here’s a news flash: DISNEY IS EXPENSIVE. It’s true. I know, you try to forget it, but you can’t. Is it too much for the average person? Yes! Is it worth it? Yes! That money buys you an experience you can’t get anywhere else in the world. Full immersion. I know it’s a ‘Disneyfied’ view of the world. Know what? I don’t care. I’ve seen the world. My daughter has seen more of America than a lot of you have. I’m not hiding behind the Disney facade to try and escape the horrors and real-life experiences the world offers. We go to Disney for a break. It’s a true vacation. I don’t have to think, worry, stress, agonize or pull out hair at Disney. I go, get a nice, clean room; eat good food; laugh with my daughter; kiss my wife; hug my mother and smile.

My mom (she's the taller of the two) and my daughter at Hollywood Studios.

Because that’s what Disney is to me…a giant smile. With funnel cakes. And a haunted house.

Yes, this is an actual Disney funnel cake...mmmmmmm, funnel cakes....

What’s your take?


No, this is not her, I just like it. Thanks to JeffChristiansen on Flickr

My next interview came from asking around the UGA campus for faculty, staff or students who currently work for, or have worked in the past, for Disney. I was pleasantly surprised at the number that turned up, including at least 3 in my college alone. Today, I’m featuring someone with a special Disney tie-in to the Christmas Season, one I’d love to see someday. Emily is a current Disney cast member, and while not a full-fledged Bulldawg, has spent some time in our fair city. I can’t thank her enough for answering a dozen emails and being so helpful and pleasant. I’ll say that Disney is lucky to have her! Enjoy…

Tell us about yourself

My name is Emily L. Lloyd, I’m 22 and I’m from Cartersville, GA (Ed’s Note: I went to high school in Dalton just up I-75 from Cartersville, as did many of you kind readers. It is indeed a small world).

Shall I sing it, or would you like to?)

What’s your favorite Disney park

Magic Kingdom or EPCOT

What’s your favorite Disney ride

I love the blue transport cars in Tomorrowland. (Ed’s note: The Tomorrowland Transit Authority, an attraction in operation since 1975, was originally referred to as the ‘People Mover.’ During the Tomorrowland refurb in the 1990’s, the ride was renamed. We’re not really sure why. But, earlier this year, the “Super Skyway” was renamed BACK to “People Mover.”  See, Disney does listen to fans. 🙂

No, the People Mover does not go this fast. But this is an awfully cool shot. Thanks to Express Monorail on Flickr. You should really check him out, his photos are some of the best I’ve seen.

What’s your favorite Disney food or treat

Mickey Mouse Ear Chocolate Covered Rice Crispy Treats!!!!! (Ed’s Note: Is there anyone who doesn’t love these?)

Do you have a favorite Disney souvenir: My half-marathon medals (read more about the Half Marathon here)

Photo courtesy of Lee Harrison - for more awesome photos and videos, please check out Lee’s website: http://www.lunalee.com/Luna_Lee_Photography/Welcome.html

What’s your favorite Disney movie

Mary Poppins

How long have you worked at Disney

Almost 3 years! I auditioned for a college program in 2007 and was offered Entertainment for Spring Advantage 2008 (Spring-Summer).

Which park or unit do you work in

I’m global.

Tell us a little about what you do

I was formerly in Entertainment, Shows and Parades. Now, I’m on a temporary assignment (TA) with Magic Music Days and the Candlelight Processional. I work with the guest choirs on a daily basis. We do 3 shows a night: 300 guest choir members, 75 cast choir members, a full orchestra, the Voices of Liberty, and a guest Celebrity Narrator every night.  There are 2 sets of choir members, so we have 600 in rotation each day. I stood next to John O’Hurley backstage tonight.

John O’Hurly. IMDb lists over 100 acting and voice-over roles for O’Hurly. In addition, he’s a financier and investor as well, he is a principal partner for Round One Investments in Los Angeles and Heritage Capital Advisors in Atlanta.

Have you had the chance to meet other celebrities in the parks

Yes, I met Tommy Hilfiger and his guests in 2008.

Do you live in Orlando

I lived in College Program Housing at Chatham for Spring 2008 and 2010. I currently live in Winter Garden, about 9 miles from the Magic Kingdom. (Ed’s Note: How awesome would that be? Later, I’ll have an interview with someone from Orlando who went to the parks after school! Some people have all the luck)

Tell us your favorite memory of working there

Recognizing guests for a 2nd, or 3rd time by name.

Ever have a really bad day at Disney

Even on the bad days, I always come away with a fun story. Mostly bad days consist of extreme weather or rude people. (Ed’s Note: I’m seeing a trend with the bad weather equaling bad days working at Disney. I will say that they may not like it, but all the cast members I’ve interacted with, and heard about, are exceptional during bad weather. Again, Disney’s doing something right)

Tell us something funny that’s happened to you at the parks

I can’t think of anything specific, but I have been hit on by drunk people at EPCOT.

Apparently, EPCOT serves alcohol. Who knew?

Tell us something no one knows about Disney

We have an employee cafeteria called the Mouseketeria.

Tell is what you’ve learned from Disney

I appreciate the structure and efficiency in the workplace that Disney supplies.

Are you still in contact with Disney co-workers

Yes!  Even while I was back at school, my roommates and friends from my college program in 2008 would plan road trips; I still call them.

How did you share the Disney magic

Entertainment! (Wink)

Are you glad you worked there


Thanks to Whatnot on Flickr for the image

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