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Entries in Disneyland (50)


Layers of Imagineering

A reader of the blog submits this optimistic look at early roots of Imagineering that still exist at Disneyland today.  Literal and symbolic layers have been added to Disneyland over the decades.  It’s nice to be reminded that a lot of these early “layers” still play a part in Disney park experience.   I only hope that future layers can reflect the wonder and marvel of these first layers and not be layers of pure tackiness that we’ve seen in recent years.  Just sayin’.   -Admin


Whenever I think about Disneyland, and how it grew, literally, from an Orange grove in Anaheim, California, I am continually amazed at how its roots were planted, and even after all these years since its groundbreaking, those roots still exist; the roots of imagineering.

 Walt Disney has been quoted as saying that Disneyland will always evolve and change - never to be static. It was designed from the beginning to set sights on the future and pay homage to the past.

But, even as time moves on, and new 'layers' are added onto the existing structure of the park itself, I hold on to the memories of those that first set in stone, the 1st layers of Imagineering. When visiting Disneyland, one feels a sense of the original Imagineers there in the park as though they are always present, watching over the park and guiding its visions for today’s Imagineering and the art of Illusioneering.

"X" Atencio, Marc Davis, Claude Coats, "Rolly" Crump, Harriet Burns, Blaine Gibson, just to mention a few, these men and women were, in a sense, tasked by Walt Disney, to move imagineering from the 2D world into the 3D world. They began what really became a science in creating illusions; one that allows the viewer to be transported to another place and time. Disneyland Park is a living, breathing 3 - dimensional entity in and of itself. From the moment when you walk onto Main Street, one may not realize that each building is designed to have forced perspective. Each floor above the 1st is reduced in height, to create a sense of even taller buildings. And, one may not know that even the color and values of the foliage are placed in such a way as to create more depth and perceived space throughout the park. That … is what lives on. That … is part of their legacy; the 1st Imagineers.

One of my fascinations in the park is with Audio Animatronics. This is truly where the legacy of Disney art moved from 2D to 3D. The Imagineers that created the Abraham Lincoln exhibit for the 1964 New York World's Fair may not have known that they were setting a standard for future park innovations, and even creating technologies that even today, are being expanded upon, not only in the entertainment field but even medical as well.

The choreography of artistry is amazing throughout Disneyland. Even the audio tracks leave a lasting impression. My favorite voice talent, Paul Frees, is heard all over the park, and when you look back at previous attractions such as Adventures Through Inner Space, you can still hear his unique voice echoing in the park from times gone by. And speaking of voices - lets not forget about Jack Wagner. He welcomed us and then thanked us for visiting Disneyland. Those are just a few of the memorable voices throughout the park.

I also have an appreciation of the colors used on the attractions. Deep blues into colorful purples seem to be a major theme throughout the park's history and even in the animated films as well. Mary Blair's unique designs are unforgettable. I see that as one of the most important contributions that the original Imagineers set forth for generations to come.

So maybe Walt himself is still looking over Disneyland from his small apartment above the Fire station, making sure that past innovations live on and to ensure that new innovations more forward in that space. A space that will always change and will always be watched over by the original "cast."

Times will change and technologies will progress but I will never forget those 1st "layers" of Imagineering that shine through to this very day.

-Monte E. Ross


How to Put Tomorrow Back into Tomorrowland  

Article submitted by -Joe Stitt 

UPDATE: Joe has started his own blog, My Park, My Rides.  Check it out.

“A vista into a world of wondrous ideas, signifying man’s achievements….a step into the future, with predictions of constructive things to come. Tomorrow offers new frontiers in science, adventure, and ideals: The Atomic Age, the challenge of outer space, and the hope for a peaceful and unified world.”

-Walt Disney
July 17, 1955 

      That was the dedication given by Walt himself to Disneyland’s Tomorrowland. When compared to what we have today in Disney World, it makes me wonder how things could go so terribly wrong. To me, Tomorrowland as we have it today is one of most inexcusable offenses committed by WDI in the Magic Kingdom; second only to the unholy mess in the Enchanted Tiki Room. But unlike their poor tropical friends, I believe the citizens of Tomorrowland can rebuild their city of tomorrow to regain its former glory.

      Step one in the rebuilding phase is a complete overhaul of its crown jewel, Space Mountain. While this little refurbishment the Suits allowed is nice, in order for it to become great again a whole new Space Mountain is needed. The improvements should include new cars with the much longed-for onboard speaker system, a brand new track to reduce the roughness of the ride, and a new lift hill, pre-show, and post-show to totally bring the ride out of the 1980s and reflect a more advanced view of space and space travel. During this construction time, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority can also receive some TLC. The story on the ride can be greatly improved by updating the scenes you pass through on the ride. A more creative view of the other TTA lines can be presented based on upcoming transportation systems.  Some cars that are more pleasing to the eye wouldn’t hurt either since the current trains are pretty bland. These improvements would be a step in the right direction, but they aren’t the only rides pleading for help in Tomorrowland.

      One of Walt’s favorite attractions, the Carrousel of Progress, has been allowed to slowly fade into oblivion. To me, this is unacceptable.  Yes there is a bit of a nostalgic factor to this beloved attraction, but that does not mean that it doesn’t have a solid story. It is quite possibly one of the greatest audio-animatronics shows ever created. I believe this show can be brought back to life with more life-like audio-animatronics and an updated last scene. Somewhere around 2050 should be a good estimate. Even though it would a big jump story-wise, I believe people could let that slide since it would provide a glimpse into their own future. Next, we head from a small suburban home to the headquarters of Star Command.

      While I don’t believe any Pixar or other name-brand characters belong in Tomorrowland, I believe Buzz Lightyear can be an exception to that rule. Even though characters should be in Fantasyland, he gives the little kids a fun adventure in our world of tomorrow. But like every other attraction, a little touch of paint and some new effects couldn’t hurt it.  Now if only Buzz can stay, that means we say goodbye to Stitch and our Monsters Inc. friends.

      Let’s start with re-modeling the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. First of all, the Tomorrowland Interplanetary Convention Center needs to be brought back. I always liked the way it fit in the Tomorrowland storyline. As far as the new attraction to go in the convention center goes, you can’t fantasize about the future without time travel, can you? I picture a galaxy-wide convention on time travel, where we as Tomorrowland citizens are allowed to be the lucky test subjects for a new time travel vehicle. Instead of traveling one minute into the future as planned, a malfunction occurs, and we are taken on a journey through some of the greatest milestones in science. Our trip would end with a scenic view of Tomorrowland in the year 3000. And since this would be a simulator type ride, it would be possible to update the movie every few years to keep the experience fresh. This takes care of one problem, but we still have that fury little troublemaker across the street.

      As if Stitch wasn’t stuffed down our throats enough by Disney, he even got his own attraction in Tomorrowland. I don’t necessarily have a problem with Stitch being in Tomorrowland as much as I just feel like the ride was a poor effort by the Imagineers; they simply shoe-horned Stitch into a pre-existing attraction that was already successful. I believe that some more thrill needs to be put into Tomorrowland. Even better, what if we were able to put some education back into the parks? The attraction I picture for this area involves the most popular innovation of our time, the Internet. I know Tomorrowland is supposed to be based on future innovations, but not only is the Internet a new frontier, it is also growing and constantly changing. The ride would be a wild mouse style spinning rollercoaster that took guests on a high-speed adventure on the information superhighway. The pre-show could slowly take guests inside a computer, through the circuits and hard drives, and eventually to their destination of the Ethernet cable. The post show would provide the newest information on the Internet. It would showcase the newest innovations and have interactive games that taught lessons on how the internet works and how to properly use it. Done well, I believe it could be a new E-Ticket for Tomorrowland.

      All of these changes are just a start. There is so much that could be done with the extra space available, the vacant Tomorrowland stages, and even the scenery in the area. However, I believe that this would be a step in the right direction on the long road to rebuilding Tomorrowland. The important thing to remember is that there is always room for change in Tomorrowland. It should be a headquarters for innovative new rides and a breeding ground for new ideas.  A beloved extinct attraction said it best, “If we can dream it, then we can do it”.

-Joe Stitt 


LEGO Disneyland

This is pretty impressive.  Click on the link see more of Disneyland made of Legos.  Look for details.  I love the old school Tomorrowland complete with PeopleMover.  Also they made some of the interior of Pirates!  Not bad.