It's a Great Big Beautiful World! Let's Discover it Together

Showing posts with label Magic Kingdom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Magic Kingdom. Show all posts

Friday, June 28, 2013

Flashback Friday - Disneyland 1978


Time to go back in time thanks to fun old family photos of days gone by.  Growing up in Southern California, Disneyland was a popular destination for our family.  Sometimes we were there just the four of us, other times with extended family members.  Oftentimes my brother and I would get to go for school or church incentives, or as awards for a successful sports season with the teams we played on.  Trips with friends, or friends' families were often the case as well, and as we became teenagers, the park was a popular destination to hang out.
Here's a look at Tomorrowland from April 1978.  The shot itself is a bit blurry, but it's of Sam the Eagle, host of America Sings, an all-audio animatronics show celebrating America's music, which originally opened in 1974 in honor of America's upcoming Bicentennial in 1976.  The show occupied the space originally designed and built for the Carousel of Progress which opened at Disneyland in 1967, and closed in 1973 to be shipped east to Walt Disney World.  Just as COP did, the audience revolved around a series of stages, with each section celebrating a different era in American music, with the eagle and owl seen here popping up in each sequence to tell the story of the various musical styles.  Never meant to be a long-term attraction, since the Bicentennial celebration was only meant to last from 1975 - 1977, the show closed permanently in 1988.  (I was in the last performance as the carousel spun around for it's final performance).  Prior to the closing in 1988, a few geese were stripped of their skin and found a new home in the all-new Disneyland classic Star Tours, when it opened in early 1987.  When the show was dismantled, many of the audio animatronics found new life in the Disneyland classic, Splash Mountain over in the all-new Critter Country (replacing Bear Country) in 1988 as a cost-savings measure.  Thanks the smashing success of both Star Tours and Splash Mountain at Disneyland, a whole slew of new animatronics in the same style had to be created when both Star Tours opened at Walt Disney World's Disney-MGM Studios in 1989 and Splash Mountain was added to Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and Tokyo Disneyland in 1992.  

Friday, May 24, 2013

Flashback Friday - Walt Disney World 1992


Time to go back in time thanks to fun old family photos of days gone by.  Growing up in Southern California, I didn't get to go to Walt Disney World as a youth. My playground was Walt's original Magic Kingdom - Disneyland.  But when I turned 21 I did get to visit Walt Disney World, and have been back many times since then.  
Here's a look at Main Street U.S.A. in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom from my visit to Florida in October 1992.  Here we see the original Center Street section on the west side of Main Street.  This section was once a vibrant little part of the park, with the Harmony Barbershop located at the back of this little side street.  Today it's all just part of the Emporium, as this street section was closed in as part of the Emporium back in the late '90's to increase the retail space available. Today the barbershop is located in Town Square instead, near the Fire Station

Friday, May 10, 2013

Featured Foto Friday - Ariel's Entryway...East & West

The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventure recently opened as a brand-new attraction within the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World as part of the New Fantasyland 2012 renovations and expansion; but it first opened in June 2011 at Disney California Adventure park at the Disneyland Resort in Southern California.  
Both parks have given their version of this identical, omni-mover, dark-ride attraction its own unique theming and feel to the entrance queue and overall surrounding aesthetics given the attraction's location within the parks.  

In Florida, the attraction is located between the new Storybook Circus area and the assorted Beauty & the Beast based attractions and restaurants inside the new Fantasy Forest in Fantasyland, and has a very richly themed entry, including Prince Eric's castle, and caves and grottos to explore.  

In California, it's located within the Paradise Pier section of Disney California Adventure, thus it has a more seaside pavilion flair, reminiscent of boardwalk structures of the 1930's and '40s, and features bas relief images of Ariel's sisters, and a bronze statue of her father, King Triton on the apex of the curved dome structure. The actual queue entryway takes guests through the recreation of San Francisco's famed Palace of Fine Arts, from the 1910 World's Fair.  

Personally I love both queues for very different reasons.  They each appeal to my individual tastes, and are richly appointed, just in different ways.  For a more-immersive feel, Florida wins, hands-down.  I know my daughter can't wait to be able to experience the new queue in Florida, and see some of the fun new interactive features that were not included in the California queue. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Featured Foto Friday - New Castles in the Magic Kingdom

The Beast's castle, high atop the new Be Our Guest Restaurant, in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, as seen from the queue to Maurice's Cottage and the new Enchanted Tales with Belle experience.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday Trivia - Adventureland Fun

The crocodiles that guests encounter on the Jungle Cruise in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom are named Ol' Smiley and Ginger. Whatever you do, don't forget that "Ginger Snaps."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tuesday Trivia - Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

After nearly 10 years of planning, and 18 months of construction, the Magic Kingdom's version of the Frontierland classic Big Thunder Mountain Railroad opened in 1980.  Designed to resemble the look of Utah's Monument Valley, more than 650 tons of steel, 4.675 tons of specially formulated "mud", and more than 9,000 gallons of paint brought "the wildest ride in the wilderness" to life in Central Florida. Construction costs for the attraction came in at about $17 million, the cost to build Disneyland back in 1955. To lend an air of authenticity in set designs, the Imagineers spent more than $300,000 alone on decor items such as the ore-hauling wagon, double-stamp ore crusher, old mill ball and wooden mining flume. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday Trivia - Prince Charming Regal Carrousel

Prince Charming Regal Carrousel (formerly known as Cinderella's Golden Carousel), was an opening day attraction at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, but it was certainly not a new carousel.  The 90-horse masterpiece was found and purchased by Disney Imagineers in Maplewood, New Jersey in 1967.  It had been spinning in Olympic Park for more than 39 years, but was originally built and placed into use in Detroit, Michigan in 1917.  The original "Liberty" carousel was in a good state of disrepair and required restoration and preservation.  The band organ that adds classic Disney sounds to the attraction is the original instrument.  The horses, made of hard maple, are also original, having been stripped down, restored and repainted, and they come in five different sizes, with the largest on the outer rows. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Featured Foto Friday - A Glimpse of What's to Come

A glimpse of what's coming in New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, peeking through the fence, in officially sanctioned view holes. Progress continues on the all-new Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride and a good pace, though the new ride won't open until spring 2014. The fence is decorated with concept artwork (right) and fun images connecting surrounding attractions (left), as the new attraction will be centrally located between the new Beauty & the Beast themed attraction, restaurants & shop, and the Little Mermaid attraction, as well as existing attractions of Winnie the Pooh and the Mad Tea Party.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Today in Disney Parks and Resorts History - Candlelight Processional

December 18, 1971 – Walt Disney World – Lake Buena Vista, FL

Walt Disney World's very first Candlelight Processional is held.  Modeled after the Candlelight Processional that has been a staple of Christmas season entertainment at Disneyland since 1958, the processional travels up Main Street, U.S.A. from Town Square to the forecourt of Cinderella Castle where a performance featuring a mass choir of 1,200 carolers from across Florida takes place, with movie star Rock Hudson narrating the Christmas story. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Evicted - Main Street Bakery

In the Disney-sphere news this week there was an item that came out which has seemingly turned the online world on its’ ear.  Tweets, Facebook posts, blob posts - even online petitions have bemoaned the fact that the Main Street Bakery at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom has essentially received its’ eviction notice.  All thanks to the second implementation of a deal that Disney signed with Starbucks – or some might say the devil – nearly a year ago that will ultimately put a Starbucks branded location inside each of the 6 domestic Disney theme parks.  Disney California Adventure was the first park to receive a Starbucks location back in June with the grand opening of the Buena Vista Street reimagining of that theme park’s entrance corridor.  

But is this particular deal truly worthy of all of the uproar?  Is the Main Street Bakery truly an icon not worth changing, or is it all just overblown due to individual preferences and desires.  I’ve read many statements that categorically and emphatically state that “Walt would NOT have approved” of such a thing. Is this deal really as bad as if, say, a corporation were to be handed the rights to start selling their wares from inside say, the White House here in the US, or inside the Notre Dame cathedral in France, or inside the Taj Mahal in India?  Is Main Street, U.S.A. truly that sacrosanct?  Apparently it is to some, yet go with me, if you will, down a little stroll back in time through the history of the Disney parks and let’s just see together, if Walt truly would “NOT” have approved of such a deal. 

But before you shoot me, just listen for a moment.  Remember that I worked at Disneyland (the original park and the only park that Walt ever stepped foot in, ate in, slept in...) - and the only one that he actually had creative input for. Remember too that the Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney World, while Walt's dream for expansion for the company, were not designed by Walt, or his brother Roy for that matter - but rather by the team of Imagineers that Walt had assembled in the years since starting to design Disneyland back in '53. Walt died in December 1966, and the team didn’t truly start doing anything until summer of 1967 when Roy and Lilly kept encouraging them to go on because Walt would have wanted the show to go on, and even then, the MK didn’t open until October of 1971.

As a student of all things Walt Disney from a very early age, I can say definitively that from the very beginning, Walt and Roy realized the need for capital in order to get the park built. If it hadn't been for the amazing deal that Roy was able to structure with then-fledgling ABC, the park never would have actually been constructed because neither the company nor the Disney brothers had enough resources to do it on their own. Inside the park - and yes, on Walt's beloved Main Street, U.S.A. there have been concessionaires since the very beginning in 1955 - and in other lands too. Walt personally invited several companies to participate, and Roy did others. Eventually they created an entire department to handle those business dealings. Anyone like the blown glass beauties that Arribas Brothers does? They've been inside New Orleans Square since it opened in 1966. I know they are at WDW as well - I know at DTD, but they also used to be on Main Street in the MK. Anyone ever see all of those corporate sponsorships for attractions, and shops? Has anyone noticed how every new attraction built in the past decade or two has a shop at the exit - many of which are sponsored locations? Did anyone realize just how important corporate sponsorships were to get Epcot built in time to open on the mandated date of October 1, 1982 set by then CEO Card Walker? 95% of all pavilions HAD to have a corporate sponsor - basically to use the other company's money in order to design and build what they did. There are 4 classic attractions that came out of the 1964-65 NY World's Fair - all of which ended up at Disneyland after the Fair closed, and later were added to the MK at WDW in one form or another as well. NONE of them would have been built without the corporate deals that Walt himself, and Roy too, put together.

I certainly do recognize the sentimentality and nostalgia that swells up around Main Street, U.S.A.  It is an idealized vision of what small-town life at the turn of the 20th century was - but let's face it - the entire strip has changed so much from what the original Imagineers designed.  Gone are so many of the charming non-revenue elements such as the Flower Market that used to inhabit Center Street… in fact gone is half of Center Street, with the closing in/expanding of the Emporium to basically encompass the entire west side of the street all the way up to Casey’s. On the east side – there’s a charming little ice cream parlor… anyone like ice cream?  Well it’s sponsored by Edy’s Ice Cream in case you hadn’t noticed that before. The reality is folks – this deal was done nearly a year ago.  The ink wasn’t allowed to dry on the contracts before every single location that Disney was committing to it – one in all 6 domestic theme parks remember – until Starbucks also committed to a wide array of supporting details from their side of the equation. I have many friends who live in the area near Disneyland , and others who still work at Disneyland, and all have said that the Starbucks location that opened with the new Buena Vista Street inside Disney California Adventure turned out really well, and it’s not as noticeable or detracting as you might expect.  There’s a brand new wave of imagination coming out of the Imagineers these days – gone are the “on the cheap” designs of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. There has been a very real re-birth out of Glendale – just look at the amazing stylings of New Fantasyland. Don’t get so worked up about this deal. Yes, it will change your experience a bit, and yes, the menu might be different – but don’t throw tomatoes just yet… Disney didn’t just give away the farm on this one.  There were strict standards and rules on both sides of the equation that were hammered out. I have a friend who worked for decades in commercial real estate for a very large corporation that wanted a deal with Disney.  It took nearly 15 years for it to finally be hammered out because neither side wanted to budge, but finally they did, and it turned out to be a very profitable partnership for both companies for at least a decade thereafter. In all that you do – remember this fact – Disney the company, while continuing the tradition that Walt set with family entertainment and wonderfully immersive experiences (theme parks, etc) – is first and foremost a business. Yes they listen to their guests, but ultimately, they will do what they believe is best for the long-term growth of their 

business units… and this deal with the coffee company is just one part of the overall pie.  I agree that giving up the Bakery AS WE KNOW IT doesn’t seem like the best fit – but at the same time – think of the prime real estate that it is.  There’s no way that Starbucks would commit to a deal that put them in the back of the park, and Disney was willing to make some changes in order to boost their business.  Disneyland too is going to have Starbucks on Main Street – and after Epcot, both Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park will get them.  It’s all a done deal ladies and gents – your uproar won’t do much to change that.  I feel your disappointment, but in the grand scheme of things, I’d much rather have a healthy Disney company that continues to draw guests – who by the way want to use my services to get them there – then worry about whether I personally can get an overpriced cinnamon roll on Main Street.  From what I’ve been told, the Starbucks deal is truly a blended deal… their primary product, techniques and processes coupled with Disney products at the same time. 
Starbucks even created a softer logo for the theme parks that better fits into the existing Disney environments. In the end, yes, this deal was all about money, but then so too were things such as the acquisitions of Marvel, Pixar and most recently LucasFilm.  Disney is not a benevolent organization, but rather a forward-thinking company looking to sustain long-term growth the entertainment that all know and love.  

There were many things that the company has done both during and after Walt's lifetime that were/are a bit strange. The Wizard of Bras store on Main Street in 1955-56 - the Wurlitzer Organ shop... yes, people could actually go to Disneyland purchase an organ to be shipped home... the Hallmark Cards Store on the corner of Main & Center (that lasted until the early 80's)... none of those truly fit the theme that Walt desired, but all were good for business.  I agree that Starbucks isn't necessarily the best fit, and I agree that they could have been placed further in the parks... but in the end, it is what it is.  I have spoken with many people who are thrilled to be able to get their favorite morning coffee now when they go to Disney parks... and others who absolutely despise the decision.

It’s true that The Walt Disney Company is NOT the same as it was during Walt’s lifetime... it all changed the day that Michael Eisner was hired by the board in 1984, but at the same time - if it weren't for Michael Eisner... we wouldn't have all of the fabulous resorts, the 3rd and 4th parks at WDW, the water parks or many of the other good things that came about during the high-growth period of the late 80's and through the 90's. Nostalgia plays a BIG role in the Disney parks. I agree.  But it's the OVERALL experience that they sell.  There are so many little things that disappear annually in Disney parks and resorts and NO ONE seems to notice... at least the uproar is diminished because something like this comes along and then it seems like it's the end of the world. I felt the exact same dissatisfaction when back in 1995 Disneyland announced the end of Carnation Main Street... a restaurant that Walt enjoyed and a company that he had invited to come in and be a part of his park as a sponsor for his new table service location on Main Street.  Carnation as a company had been sold a couple of times since Walt was alive, and at that point was merely a shell of what it had once been being absorbed by Nestle.  But Nestle maintained the arrangement for several years because of the relationship with Disney. There was an uproar back then amongst the fan community, though not online since it wasn't really something available back then.  The company listened, but did not change their plans.  Same as will happen now.  They'll listen, but won't change anything.  

Ultimately we grew to enjoy the revised restaurant that went in to that same space, which in 2012 was changed again.  Change happens.  Walt himself took out things in his park when he saw that they weren't working or if he thought something better could improve what was there first. It's not always fun, but it happens.  And yes, it can be divisive - almost to the same degree as speaking about politics or religion can.  Disney fans are some of the most vocal and rabid out there.  I get that too.  But in the long-term, again, I am looking not a coffee drinker and truly don't care about that aspect.  I also don't have the same love for the Bakery as others online seem to  - other locations yes - the Bakery no.  I've been very torn through the years watching things be homogenized and removed.  It's always for the almighty dollar, but in the end, I would rather they have a healthy, profitable organization.  Rather than whether a Starbucks is bad business inside Main Street, I personally feel that many other things they have done and are getting ready to do are worse business than coffee. 

Walt was yin to Roy's yang... Walt was creative and very guest-focused, knowing that resources were necessary to keep his vision moving forward.  Roy was all business, and didn't always agree with Walt's ideas, but went along with them because he knew that together they could achieve more.  In the years following Roy's death, yes, the business side of the business definitely grew more important. bEisner and now Iger were truly businessmen. bWhile the company publically sells nostalgia - family entertainment and experiences - memories for a lifetime - it's the stockholders who truly demand that the eye be kept on the ball and the company move forward and profits keep pouring in year after year.  Yes, there is no denying that the Walt Disney Company of today is different from the 1950's, and that money drives everything - if that weren't the case, we'd still have a Dining Plan that gave appetizers and included gratuities, and was priced $10-20 less than it currently it is.  

Think of it this way, and perhaps we can agree slightly that in this vein, the company hasn't really changed as much as one might think... the Imagineers keep Walt's dreams and vision moving forward - it's the Accountaneers who we all have to watch out for, keeping Roy's dreams and visions alive and well for a company that is profitable, viable and healthy.  Roy & Walt first took the company public in the early 60s.  Demand for growth has been there all along.  So with all of that said – before you go claiming that Walt would not approve of this, that or anything else… just think about the fact that Walt was the world’s greatest salesman – he just didn’t think he was selling anything, but better than anyone else, he understood the importance of resources to keep moving his dreams forward.

So whether you are excited about the possibility - or loathe the reality - Starbucks will be moving in to what is currently known as the Main Street Bakery in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in early 2013.  I look forward to at least checking it out and seeing how it all plays out for myself.  No I won't be getting a grande mocha latte-whatever, but I will be checking out all of the rest of the details.  Because as we all know, the devil is in the details.  

Until next time,

Friday, October 26, 2012

Featured Foto Friday - Cinderella's Royal Table

Guests dine amid medieval splendor inside Cinderella's Royal Table These hand-stitched banners have been hanging above guests since the restaurant first opened inside the castle in the Magic Kingdom in 1971.  It was originally known as King Stephan's Banquet Hall when the park first opened.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Today in Disney Parks and Resorts History

October 25, 1971
Walt Disney World - Orlando, FL

Walt Disney World is officially dedicated by Roy O. Disney, Walt's surviving business partner, and Mickey Mouse, in the Magic Kingdom's Town Square.  A Grand Opening parade featuring a 1,076 piece marching band works it's way up Main Street, U.S.A. led by the "music man" himself, Meredith Wilson, composer of the famous piece, "76 Trombones."  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday Trivia - Magic Kingdom Grand Opening

More than 5,000 human performers joined in Walt Disney World's Grand Opening and dedication festivities on October 25, 1971 - and were joined by roughly 500 doves released over the Magic Kingdom.  

Monday, October 8, 2012

Today in Disney Parks and Resorts - Mickey's Philharmagic

October 8, 2003
Walt Disney World - Orlando, FL

Mickey's Philharmagic officially debuts inside Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tips on Thursday - Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

© Disney

Celebrate the magic of the holiday season with your family at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, a special event held select nights in November and December at Magic Kingdom theme park!

This festive celebration is filled with spectacular fireworks, a very special holiday parade and live entertainment featuring your favorite Disney Characters. Purchase of an additional event admission ticket is required to attend this event, and tickets sell out quickly.
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party features:
  • The enchanted Castle Dream Lights on Cinderella Castle
  • Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, complete with a special appearance by Santa Claus himself
  • An exclusive holiday fireworks extravaganza — Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season
  • Live entertainment featuring Disney Characters
  • Meet and greet opportunities throughout Magic Kingdom theme park with some of your favorite Disney Characters
  • Complimentary cookies and hot cocoa
  • A magical snow fall on Main Street, U.S.A.
  • Special access to many of the most popular Magic Kingdom attractions
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is held from 7:00 p.m. to 12:00 midnight on select nights.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tuesday Trivia - Prince Charming Regal Carrousel

Prince Charming Regal Carrousel (originally known as Cinderella's Golden Carrousel) was originally built in 1917 in Maplewood, New Jersey.  This 60 foot diameter carrousel is one of the largest carrousels ever built.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tuesday Trivia - Magic Kingdom

After more than seven years of master planning, and 52 months of construction (nearly four and a half years), with more than eight million cubic yards of earth moved - the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World opened on October 1, 1971.  It was the largest individual construction project since the Hoover Dam.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tips on Thursday - Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

© Disney

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is a Halloween-themed special event held on select dates in Magic Kingdom theme park. Purchase of an additional event admission ticket is required to attend Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

During Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, Guests of all ages are encouraged to dress up in their favorite Halloween costumes. Even better, you can collect delicious candy as you trick-or-treat around Magic Kingdom theme park.

In addition to many favorite Disney attractions, Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is filled with special entertainment, including:
  • Mickey's "Boo-to-You" Halloween Parade —including Disney Characters and the stars of the Haunted Mansion attraction. The parade begins with a spook-tacular ride by the Headless Horseman.
  • Happy HalloWishes — a spectacular fireworks show where the Disney Villains go trick-or-treating in the sky.
  • Many favorite Disney Characters and Disney Villains in special Halloween costumes.
  • Special lighting, music and theming effects transforms special areas of Magic Kingdom theme park into happy haunted hollows.
The tone of the event is, well, "Not-So-Scary", and is appropriate for children of all ages.