Friday, November 18, 2016

Circle-Vision at Disneyland: American Journeys and Wonders of China

In January of this year, we took a look at Disneyland's Circle-Vision Theater and the film, America The Beautiful. Today we will be looking at the films, American Journeys and Wonders of China, which replaced America The Beautiful in 1984.

The photo below, shows the marquee with the name of the theater's sponsor at the time, Delta Airlines. It's a little washed out, but below the name "Delta Airlines" the marquee reads, "Now Playing American Journeys." Wonders of China would play in the theater first, from early morning until early afternoon. American Journeys was then shown the rest of the operating day. There was a short period of time in the middle of the day, when the theater would have to close in order to change the marquee and switch the reels of film on the projectors.....all nine of them! This rotation of the films continued until 1996 when both films were replaced by America The Beautiful, which had a special return engagement.

This next photo shows the marquee after Delta Airlines had stopped it's sponsorship. A strip of metal was placed over the spot where the sponsor's name had previously been. Wonders of China is listed on the marquee as the film that was playing....or would be playing once they opened the doors. The attraction poster for the film can also be seen in the display case just to the left of the glass doors.

Here is a closer look at that display case and the attraction posters for both films. At the bottom of the Wonders of China poster, it states that the film is "Showing Until 1:30 P.M."

I don't have any photographs of the theater's pre-show area, but I did shoot video of it and I am including it at the end of this post. If you look at the walls around the room, you might be able to locate cut-outs of a moon and a sun. The screen shot below shows that the moon was part of the Circle-Vision sign that hung over the doorway into the theater. I still haven't been able to locate the sun in my video, but if someone out there knows specifically where to look for it, please chime in below in the comments.

Both the sun and the moon cut-outs ended up being placed inside of Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters, the attraction that currently occupies the old Circle-Vision Theater space in Tomorrowland. They are a little difficult to spot, but they can be seen just above the tunnel that you exit as you are entering the second to last room in the ride (the room with the final Buzz and Zurg animatronics). After the camera flash goes off and your souvenir picture is taken, turn to the right and look above the tunnel that you just exited from. They are mounted on a recessed wall just above the tunnel. I hope that description helps anyone that wants to locate them!

Here are the links to the Circle Vision Theater's pre-show area and film, and both American Journeys and Wonders of China in their entirety. Enjoy!

Circle Vision Theater (Pre-show Room & Film):

American Journeys (Full Movie):

Wonders of China (Full Movie):

Friday, October 21, 2016

Movieland Wax Museum - Chamber of Horrors

Since Halloween is less than two weeks away, let's do another SCARY Movieland Wax Museum post!

The museum's Chamber of Horrors used to feature Elvira greeting guests at it's entrance.

Elvira even appeared in person at the unveiling of her wax likeness.

Her hand and footprints still exist in the cement out in front of the old museum building.....or what's left of the building. (As of today, the facade is still standing, but a large portion of the building behind the facade is currently being demolished. I'm not sure if any part of it will be kept, or if it is all going to be coming down. Hopefully, the celebrity hand and footprints out front will be preserved!)

I took that first Elvira photo during a visit to the museum back in 1991. I took the following two pics during my next visit which was in October of 2005, just a few days before the museum closed forever. At some point during those 14 years between my visits, Elvira was removed from the museum altogether (why?) and replaced with Lon Chaney Jr. as the Wolfman.

During a visit back in 1976, I had my picture taken with the Wolfman in the museum's "Monster Photo Gallery".

I found a similar shot for sale on eBay.

During that same visit back in 1976, my brother had his picture taken with the Frankenstein figure. Unfortunately, he can't find it, but a friend of mine gave me permission to post his souvenir photo of him with his brothers. I actually posted this one previously in my Movieland Wax Museum's Haunted House & Frankenstein post from last October.

Dracula "meets" the Mummy (Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, respectively). These next two photos were taken in the Chamber of Horrors in 2005.

Dracula and his victim had originally appeared in a different setting as seen in this vintage postcard.

This photo of the Phantom of the Opera (Lon Chaney Sr.) and actress Mary Philbin as "Christine," was also taken in 2005.

Here's the official postcard shot of the same scene.

Vincent Price from House of Wax, taken in 2005:

Notice how the set had changed from when this professional shot was taken.

Norman Bates isn't quite himself today! This is how the Anthony Perkins figure appeared in 2005.

The scene was quite different back when this postcard shot was taken. Note the Psycho House up on the hill outside the window, and also the stuffed bird under glass on the table.

Michael Myers from the movie, Halloween:

And last but not least, we have Linda Blair (not credited on the clap board) from The Exorcist. The head on this figure rotated 360 degrees. Too bad it didn't also spew pea soup out of it's mouth!

Movieland has now been closed 11 years this month. The old sign is still standing (for now) out front. As you can see, a Starbuck's sign has been added to it. Starbuck's moved into the former Movieland gift shop (Starlite Gifts) long before the museum closed and it is still open for business today.

A theater complex and a butterfly pavilion are supposedly going to replace the former museum building. As mentioned earlier, this facade is also still standing at the moment. However, the letters on top of the building were recently removed. Last weekend, I shot some photos and video footage of certain parts of the museum being demolished. I will try to get those posted in the near future, if anyone is interested.

If you are an Elvira fan and want to watch a pretty funny clip of her interacting with her wax figure live at Movieland Wax Museum, you can click on the link below. It is from her official "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark" Facebook page, so you will probably need to be a member of Facebook in order to view it: Elvira on TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Kraft Salutes Walt Disney World's 10th Anniversary

Today is Walt Disney World's 45th anniversary! To celebrate, we will be going back 35 years to when the Magic Kingdom was only 10 years old. Even though the park already had it's anniversary in October of 1981, CBS aired the television special, "Kraft Salutes Walt Disney World's 10th Anniversary" three months later, in January of 1982.

Let's take a look at the TV Guide listing for that anniversary special. Here's the cover of the January 16, 1982 issue of TV Guide.

Actually, before we look at that listing, here is what was playing that week on the Walt Disney television series (formerly Disneyland, Walt Disney Presents, Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, The Wonderful World of Disney, and Disney's Wonderful World).

Tales of the Apple Dumpling Gang was a made for TV movie and a follow-up to the theatrical releases, The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975) and The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (1979).

The TV movie led to a TV series about a year later, starring Barry Van Dyke (Dick's son) in the title role of Russell Donovan (played in the original film by Bill Bixby and in this TV movie by John Bennett Perry). For some reason, the series was titled Gun Shy. It only lasted for six episodes before being canceled. I vaguely remember watching that series....or at least some of it.

Now let's look at that 10th anniversary special. Dean Jones and Michelle Lee (from Knots Landing) were reunited for this special. They had previously starred together in the 1968 Disney film, The Love Bug. Dana Plato (from Different Strokes) and Ricky Schroder (from Silver Spoons) play their children, while Eileen Brennan (from Private Benjamin) plays an aunt.

Michael Keaton plays a cast member with multiple jobs in this special, including a bellboy, a waiter, a valet, and a clerk in a souvenir shop at the Contemporary Hotel. He even sings (sort of) with Michelle Lee and Dana Plato.

At the very end of the special, the announcer reminds viewers that "All of tonight's recipes (which were shown during the commercials) can be found in tonight's listing section of TV Guide Magazine, and at many stores." Matterhorn Chicken? But Walt Disney World doesn't have a Matterhorn!

Also on TV that week: People of the Year: The 25 Most Intriguing People of 1981. That would be a hoot to watch today!

Bert Convy was back with an all new version of Tattletales. Incidentally, the original Tattletales from the 1970's currently plays on the "Buzzr" channel. I'm addicted to that channel and Match Game '78!

And Meryl Streep was appearing in a new musical special, Alice at the Palace.

If you want to watch the Walt Disney World special (minus the Kraft commercials), I've included a link to it below.

The show is just as corny as most of the Disney TV specials were back in the day. From the Tour Guides and Small World Hostesses drooling over John Schneider while he serenades them, to Dean Jones singing (sort of) to Ricky Schroeder about "Fathers and Sons", it's definitely a cheesefest....and even a bit uncomfortable at times. But if you're a fan of vintage Walt Disney World, or a fan of any of these celebrities, it's definitely worth watching.

Oh, and José the parrot, makes a cameo appearance in a souvenir shop at the Contemporary Hotel at the 24:00 minute mark. I wonder if that was a real souvenir that used to be sold, or if it was one of the actual animatronics from the Tropical Serenade/Tiki Room attraction?

A similar special sponsored by Kraft, had aired in 1980 for Disneyland's 25th anniversary. I have that TV Guide as well (with more themed recipes!), so I will try to get that one posted soon.

Happy 45th anniversary, to Walt Disney World!

**Post Update (10-12-16):

I'm adding these pages from the same issue of TV Guide, because of the Mr. Merlin comment (below) by Major Pepperidge. I'm sure it was a wonderful show! With Elaine Joyce in it, it couldn't have been all that bad, could it? Barnard Hughes was also starring in the original version of Disney's Tron, which had a theatrical release in July of that same year.

Also....after writing this post, I came across this promotional pic of Ricky Schroder in the 1981 Walt Disney Productions Annual Report:

Friday, September 2, 2016

Disney On Parade - 1970

Disney On Parade was a traveling arena show that performed around the world back in the 1970's (1969 - 1974). There were 4 different editions of the show with a new one being created roughly each year. The first edition premiered in December of 1969 and ran through 1970. These arena shows were the forerunner to the "Disney On Ice" shows which began in 1981 and are still running today.

My family went to see the first edition of Disney On Parade at the Anaheim Convention Center, in August of 1970. This is the souvenir program from that show.

The show opened with the curtain going up and a cast of Disney characters running out across the arena floor and into the audience. During this opening segment, the song "How Do You Do And Shake Hands" from Alice In Wonderland was playing.

My dad took a few Polaroid shots during the show and captured the characters running across the floor of the Convention Center.

Here, Gideon from Pinocchio greets guests in the front row. Pinocchio himself can also be seen going up the aisle in the background.

After the "meet 'n greet" with the characters, Mickey performed some magic tricks while dressed as the Sorcerer's Apprentice and Pluto outsmarted a Dog Catcher with the help of some live canines.

Prior to each major act, footage from it's corresponding movie was shown on a screen above the stage. I think this was done not only as an introduction to the next act, but also to give the stage hands time to prepare the sets. The lights would go down for the movie footage, and when they came back up, the sets would already be out on the arena floor and the action would begin. As a small child, the whole thing was kind of like a magic trick. "Look over here at the shiny object" Then POOF! The sets appeared!

The Alice In Wonderland segment was very elaborate. The tea party table (above) came apart in sections and moved around on the floor individually.....sort of like Disneyland's Tencennial birthday cake!

My dad took a pic of the "off model" White Rabbit. He looks like Thumper here. It's interesting that the White Rabbit costume didn't match the one that was being used in Disneyland at the time, and neither one of them was really spot on for the character in the movie. Disney finally got the look of the costume right, but it was decades later.

The Jungle Book segment was another very elaborate act.

At one point, the act went psychedelic with multi-colored flashing lights and "catwomen" go-go girls.

This photo isn't so great, but I'm including here it anyway. You can just make out some of the go-go girls in the background.

After Intermission, the show started back up with Cinderella's visit to the royal ball. When the lights went down and all of the dancer's costumes lit up, it was just like the Cinderella unit in the Main Street Electrical Parade....but this was two years before there ever was an "Electrical Parade"!

Next came some smaller acts like Goofy and his jalopy, the toy soldiers from Babes in Toyland, and the the Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Pigs.

These were followed by "The Dumbo Circus" segment, which featured high wire acts and aerialists. There was always something about those "elephants walking on their front feet" costumes that I liked. Maybe they reminded me of the topiary that used to be outside of It's A Small World at Disneyland.

And then came The Grand Finale!

One last shot by my dad:

The program includes some nice little behind the scenes shots of the set painters, costume makers and the performers rehearsing.

There are some well known Disney names listed in the credits below, including Roland (Rolly) Crump as Art Director.

In addition to buying my brother and I the program, my parents bought us each a souvenir during intermission. We both chose "Snap-Eeze" figures which were made by Marx (the same company that made Disneykins). My brother's was a Goofy figure and mine was Pluto, but somewhere down the road, I lost mine! Here's is my brother's Goofy, but it has seen better days. He no longer has his moveable ears and he is also missing one arm and a little bit of paint on his hand!

I wasn't able to find our exact figures on ebay, but I did come across some other Disney Characters and the back of the original packaging shows our Goofy and Pluto figures.

Apparently, the figures came with a base as seen with this Brer Rabbit figure. I don't remember that, but Goofy does have holes on the bottom of his feet for attaching to a stand.

Later in the year, my brother received a "Disney On Parade" View-Master pack as a birthday or Christmas gift. If I ever get a scanner that allows me to scan View-Master reels, or if I figure out a better way to scan them using my current slide scanner, I will post all 21 of those images!

I found some original tickets for the show on ebay. This first one is from the show's premiere at the Long Beach Arena on December 16, 1969. I wonder why they didn't reserve seats for the premiere engagement?

This ticket is for a show at the L.A. Memorial Sports Arena in June of 1970. This would have been two months before my family saw the show in Anaheim. I didn't think to ask my mom if she saved the tickets, but I'm assuming if she had, I would have seen them by now.

If anyone is interested in watching the show, it was actually shown on an episode of "The Wonderful World of Disney" back in 1971. There are some differences in this show from the one I saw. I'm sure some things had to be edited out for the one hour TV show, but there are also quite a few acts included that we didn't see and that aren't listed in the program above.

After doing a little research, I realized that this televised show was a cross between the first edition of the show and the second edition which ran from 1970-1971. The second edition acts seem kind of choppy and crammed together at the end of the hour. They include segments for Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, the Disney Villains, Herbie the Love Bug, and those dancing barnyard chickens that I have never been able to figure out what they are from, but they were used prominently in one of Disneyland's early Christmas parades. Watch for a brief cameo appearance by "Colonel Sanders" at the end of that segment! The finale here is also from the second edition of the show and features a very groovy rendition of "It's A Small World." Enjoy!