Friday, February 3, 2017

Tragic Kingdom....

Today's post can be placed under the heading of, "Tragic Kingdom."

First up, we have two cartoons from The Los Angeles Times. Both are referencing the measles outbreak that affected more than 140 people here in the U.S. and spread to Canada and Mexico, as well. The outbreak was traced back to Disneyland, with a starting time of December 2014. Four months later, the California Department of Public Health reported that there were no new cases within the U.S. (from this particular outbreak), and that nobody had died. The outbreak sparked a national debate over vaccinations, because most of the people that were affected had not been vaccinated.

This first cartoon is by political cartoonist and illustrator, Ed Hall. I like how he incorporated the Disneyland sign, which used to stand at the entrance of the old Disneyland parking lot from 1989 to 1999.

And this one is by political cartoonist, Tom Meyer. It might be a little difficult to make out, but the back of the mom's T-shirt reads, "Moms Against Vaccines."

Next we have an undated article from The Los Angeles Times. I am guessing that it is from the 1990's, but maybe somebody out there remembers this story and will chime in with the year or at least confirm the decade. (Post Update: Meet The World reader, "Chuck" has posted a comment below with a date of April 16th, 1981, for this incident. Thank you, Chuck!)

I cut out this next article when I was very young. It is one of the two oldest newspaper clippings I have related to Disneyland. I believe it is from around the approximate time period of 1974-1976. I remember cutting it out of my Grandmother's local newspaper, The Daily Breeze, which serves the South Bay area of Southern California. I also think I shared this one during "current events" at school.

This incident is much more recent (May 28, 2013). It turned out to be a Disneyland cast member that had put the dry ice into a bottle and placed it in the trash can.

I decided to include this Knott's Berry Farm Log Ride incident that occurred in 2014 (the article is from 2015).

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The 1971 Tournament of Roses Parade (Disney, Knott's & More!)

Happy New Year, everyone! Today, we will be taking a look at the Tournament of Roses Parade, from 1971. The theme that year was "Through The Eyes Of A Child."

First up, we have some pages from a pictorial souvenir of the parade.

The Grand Marshal of the parade was Billy Graham.

Here is a sampling of the floats from that year. The "Sesame Street" float was sponsored by the Chrysler Corporation and featured members of the show's cast riding on board. I wonder if that is "Bob" (McGrath) standing at the head of the float? It sure looks like it could be him.

The Hi-C Drinks company sponsored a float titled, "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head, " which had been a number one song (by B.J. Thomas) on the Billboard charts the previous year. It was also featured in the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and had won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

According to a post by Jim Korkis at (from January of 2014), "Disney gave permission to the Sunkist Corporation to use characters from the feature film Song of the South on their float titled, "Tales of the Briar Patch."

The "Dolls of Many Lands" float from the Union Oil Company reminds me of "It's A Small World"!

I'm pretty sure Farmer's Insurance didn't need permission from Disney for their float, featuring a "generic" Cinderella riding in her carriage. And the title of the City of Santa Monica's float, "Tweet, Tweet, Tweet", seems ahead of it's time. ;-)

I think it's interesting that the Knott's Berry Farm float had Walter and Cordelia Knott riding on it, but their great-grandchildren were being "portrayed" by other children (including actors, Johnnie Whitaker and Todd Starke.)

I also think it's interesting....and ironic, that the theme of the float was about Walter and Cordelia retelling generations of "family tales" to the children. The float depicted pioneers of the West and their covered wagons, which was very similar to the Covered Wagon Show diorama that was at Knott's for nearly 50 years.

This was the show that told the history of Walter Knott's grandmother and great-grandmother's journey out west in a covered wagon. And it was the same show that was taken out and replaced with a souvenir shop during the time that the Knott's children still owned the park. I'll never understand that. Okay, my mini "Knott's rant" is over!

The City of Anaheim's entry that year was, "Dreams Come True in Anaheim". Note the two children (Angela Dutton and Jimmy Sundali) in the bed with the giant Walt Disney storybook. Scatman Crothers who voiced the character of "Scat Cat" in Disney's animated movie, The Aristocats was riding on the float, along with costumed characters from the film. At the rear of the float, you can see a yellow cat wearing sunglasses. The description below states that Mr. Crothers and his band of cats were "furnishing the crowd with lively music." I'm assuming that they were singing the song, "Everybody Wants To Be A Cat" from the movie.

The Aristocats had just been released in theaters one week earlier.

I have never been to the Rose Parade, even though I was born and raised in Southern California (literally a half-hour's drive from the parade route!) However, my family did go to see the floats after the parade a few times. It is tradition for the floats to be out on display for a couple days following the parade and this was one of the years that my family went to see them. I am including the photos from that trip, below. I should also mention that my brother took all of these snapshots.

Here again, is the City of Anaheim's float titled, "Dreams Come True in Anaheim". Note Dumbo and Timothy Mouse on top of the float and the floral "fireworks" above the castle. This was the parade's "Theme Prize" winner.

Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket were at the rear of the float. Right behind them was the area where the costumed characters from "The Aristocats" performed during the parade.

A floral Mad Hatter could be found in a giant-sized tea cup. The large ice cream sundae in the background was part of a separate float.

The City of Glendale's float won the "Grand Marshall's Trophy" and featured "Punch and Judy".

Cal Poly's entry was the very first float in the parade and was titled, "Once Upon A Dream." It won the "Judge's Trophy" that year.

Below, is some very brief professional footage of that float, along with some commentary.

And once again, here is the "Sesame Street" float. During the actual parade, Oscar The Grouch's head popped up and down out of his trash can. Big Bird is just out of frame on the right, and you can see the stools that the children were sitting on as the float went down the parade route.

The character below, is Roosevelt Franklin, Sesame Street's first black-influenced Muppet. He was on the show from Season 1 through Season 7 and was voiced by Matt Robinson. Robinson also played the part of "Gordon" on the show, and had worked very closely with Jim Henson on creating Roosevelt Franklin.

Incidentally, I received a Roosevelt Franklin puppet for my birthday the following year! I still have the puppet and the box that the puppet came in. I plan to post pics of both of those in the future but for now, here is a professional shot of the lesser-known Sesame Street character.

The footage below shows the Rose Parade floats on display after the parade. A few of the floats still have their animation running. I don't think they leave the animation going on any of the floats today. Unfortunately, there isn't any footage here of Anaheim's Disneyland float. Also, at about the 4:20 mark, the float footage ends and switches to Chinatown in Los Angeles.

If anyone is interested in watching more footage of the actual parade, here is some pretty good quality home movie footage of the parade going down Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena. The Disneyland float is shown here, but it is at the very end of the footage.

I want to wish everyone out there, a happy and healthy 2017!!!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Disney's The Black Hole (Mega Post!)

Thirty-seven years ago this month, Walt Disney Productions released the film, The Black Hole. I purchased this poster at Disneyland back in 1979 (before the movie's release) and it hung on my bedroom wall for quite some time.

The Fall/Winter Disneyland guide book announced the film's upcoming release on the inside of it's back cover.

The Black Hole was the company's first PG-rated film, because of some swearing and the depiction of human death (the death of Bambi's mom and Simba's dad didn't warrant a PG rating?) Regardless of the more mature rating, the movie was paired up with the second re-release of Sleeping Beauty and billed in some newspaper ads as "Two Worlds of Disney Fantasy."

I clipped this ad out of the Los Angeles Times.

My grandfather took me to an evening showing of this "double feature" at the Rolling Hills Theater in Torrance (now a BevMo!). I remember my grandfather nodding off during parts of Sleeping Beauty! And I nodded off during parts of The Black Hole! It was unfortunate because I had been looking forward to seeing the movie ever since I first read about the making of it.

The Fall 1979 issue of Disney News Magazine had included a cover story about the movie's upcoming release.

The back cover featured an ad for the movie:

I always thought that this movie was Disney's response to Star Wars, but Disney was reportedly planning this movie as early as 1974. After rereading the Disney News article, I see that it even starts out by saying "After five years preparation....."

Going back a few years earlier, here is what the company had to say about the film in their 1977 Annual Report. It's working title at that time was "Space Probe."

And here's what was written about the movie's progress in the 1978 Annual Report.

After it's release, the film had several mentions in the company's 1979 Annual Report. The caption for the photo below reads, "Maximilian Schell, commander of a massive derelict spacecraft in The Black Hole, stands amid some of his ominous creations. Four Academy Award Winners contributed to design and execution of film's spectacular special effects."

And the caption for this next photo states, "A team of technicians from WED Enterprises and Disney Studio developed the film industry's most advanced computerized motion-control camera, "Automated Camera Effects System (ACES)," to accomplish the complex miniature effects in The Black Hole.

The following info abut the ACES system is from Wikipedia: "Although Star Wars had revolutionized the use of computerized motion control miniature effects, The Black Hole was shot using a blend of traditional camera techniques and newly developed computer-controlled camera technology. Disney had wanted to rent equipment from Industrial Light and Magic, but it was unavailable during the film's production schedule and was also prohibitively expensive. In the end, Disney turned to its own engineering department, which spawned the A.C.E.S. (Automated Camera Effects System), the Mattescan system (which enabled the camera to move over a matte painting), and a computer-controlled modeling stand. The movie's opening credit sequence featured what was then the longest computer-graphics shot ever filmed."

The 1979 Annual Report also mentions a December episode of Disney's Wonderful World, which included a tribute to special effects in (Disney) movies and a sneak preview of The Black Hole. Joseph Bottoms, who played Lieutenant Charlie Pizer in the film (and pictured below in the "M.E." costume), played "Major Effects" in the episode.

Here is the listing for that episode, from the December 15, 1979 issue of TV Guide. (Fonzie Alert!)

Below, composer John Barry is shown conducting the musical scoring of the film, and the merchandising campaign for the film is discussed. (Disco Mickey Mouse Alert!)

I remember that there was a lot of The Black Hole merchandise available at the time. The photo below shows action figures, models, lunchboxes, coloring books, shoes and more. Right now on ebay, there are also ViewMasters, Colorform playsets, comic books, board games and even bed sheets. I had/have the 1980 Calendar that is shown in the lower right corner.

I also purchased several packages of "The Black Hole" trading cards at the local "Stop 'N Go" store. I remember asking the clerk if I could have the display box that the packets of cards came in.

I even saved a wax wrapper from one of the packages. Each packet contained ten "movie photo cards," one sticker, and one stick of gum, which was standard at the time for "Topps" brand trading cards. I had been collecting various Topps cards from a very young age, starting with "Wacky Packages."

I never got the complete set of 88 cards, but here are 47 of them.

Spoiler alert! The gruesome "human death" scene was shown on a couple of the trading cards!

And here are 9 of the stickers:

In 2009, it was announced that a remake of The Black Hole was planned. In the meantime while we wait to see if this really happens (helloooo, Jungle Cruise Movie?), here is the original trailer for the film:

And this is a fan's "modern" version of a trailer:

Here's one last little (obscure) detail that I remember about the 1979 release of The Black Hole. Space Mountain at Disneyland received some large rear-lit photos from the movie, along the wall of it's exit corridor (which were later replaced with photos of the cosmos and then again with photos of "aliens" in advertisements for Fed-ex). Another change that was made to Space Mountain at that time, was the addition of three small video monitors that were placed above the exit speedramp. The monitors played a short video, which placed us, the viewers, traveling around the outer rim of a black hole and eventually being sucked into it. It ended with the title of the movie coming up on the screen. The black hole in the footage was represented by an animated green line grid, just like the one visible in the original trailer above. The video was very short and would repeat on a loop over and over. Does anyone else remember this?

After the film came and went, the monitors were removed and the holes where they were located were covered up with square panels. For years however, you could look up and still see the recessed areas in the ceiling where the three monitors had been. I believe the ceiling remained that way until Space Mountain received it's massive redo in the mid 2000's and the exit speedramp was replaced with stairs, however I don't have photos or video to confirm that. I do have some home video footage from the nineties of the ramp itself (in case anyone is feeling nostalgic about that old exit ramp!) Below, is a screen shot from that video footage. The monitors were located in recessed niches, just above the guest's heads.

If you have stuck with me this far today, thank you! And I hope you have enjoyed this "Journey that begins where everything ends!"

****Just in case anyone is interested in watching that entire Space Mountain video (even though at this point in time, there weren't any "Black Hole" movie tie-ins), it does include footage of the old Space Mt. loading station, the Fed-ex robot that used to be located in the station, and a complete ride-thru prior to the first on-board soundtrack being added to the vehicles. And by the way, as was usually the case with Disneyland's speedramps, the one at the exit was turned off and guests were having to walk up it!