Friday, August 9, 2019

The Haunted Mansion's 50th Anniversary!

Today is the 50th Anniversary of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion! We'll celebrate today, by looking at a couple Haunted Mansion souvenirs from my personal collection, as well as a couple of my personal home videos.

The Haunted Mansion Secret Panel Chest was sold exclusively, in the Magic Shop on Main Street and Merlin's Magic Shop in Fantasyland:

The sides and bottom of the box were made up of tiny inlaid wood squares.

There are small sections on the side panels of the box that can be moved in succession. There are seven moves to make altogether. After the first four moves, the top panel can be slid open to reveal a storage compartment below.

A diagram showing the solution to the "puzzle" was included with the box. Sliding that top panel over (Step 5), allows a panel on the side of the box to lift up (Step 6), revealing a drawer in the very bottom of the box, which can be pulled out (Step 7).

These two sets of GAF Pana-Vue Slides were sold at the park, in the seventies and early eighties:

The back of the slide strips listed some other Disneyland Pana-Vue sets, which were available for purchase.

The captions on the Haunted Mansion slides are as follows:

Set One - "Mansion of Mystery"

"Ghostly Hallway"

"Seance with a 'Head' Medium"

"A 'Spirited' Organ Recital"

"Caretaker and Dog"

Set Two - "Singing Statues"

"Spooks Play a Haunting Refrain"

"Old Friends with Grave Problems"

"Phantoms of the Opera"

"Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts"

In the late 1990's, a friend of mine knew one of the cast members who worked in the Haunted Mansion. She let us stay in the "Stretching Room" after all of the guests had exited, and "ride it" back up to ground level! I shot this video of the experience. Note how it returns to starting position much faster than it moves when it's in "show mode."

And here is footage that I shot in 1997, of the "Changing Portraits." This was before the April/December portrait was removed and replaced with the portrait of "Master Gracey" from Walt Disney World's and Tokyo Disneyland's Haunted Mansions. WHY DID THEY DO THAT? I don't get it! It made about as much sense as taking out the old bride in the attic and replacing her with the current monstrosity of a bride (no pun intended.....and that's not a compliment either!)

Happy 50th anniversary to Disneyland's Haunted Mansion!

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Disney's Sam the Eagle & the 1984 Olympics

For this Fourth of July, let's go back to the summer of 1984, when the Olympic Games were being held in Los Angeles, California.

Actually, let's first go back four years earlier, to when the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee was deciding which local animation studio would get to design the Olympic mascot. Ultimately, the committee chose Disney. The following article appeared in the Winter '82/'83 issue of Disney News Magazine.

Disney artist, Bob Moore came up with the final design of Sam the Eagle. He had worked on such films as Fantasia, Dumbo and Bambi. He also created the Orange Bird mascot for the Florida Citrus Commission in 1971 and co-designed the postage stamp honoring Walt Disney in 1968.

Sam the Eagle made his public debut, the day after the closing ceremonies of the 1980 Olympics.

As the 1984 Olympics got closer, he began appearing on a wide variety of merchandise. Below is just a small sampling of items.


Picture frames:


Ceramic Mugs:

Collector's Plates:

Plush toys:


Note cards:


Key Chains:

Cloisonné Pins:

Sam even appeared on corporate promotional items such as McDonald's, "When The U.S. Wins, You Win" contest.

Sam also starred in his own animated Japanese TV show, "Sam The Olympic Eagle" (The Disney Studios were not involved in the production).

The series ran for one year with a total of 51 episodes being produced (two episodes, per half-hour show). Today, the show is super hard to find, but two of the episodes are available on YouTube. Both of those episodes can be viewed here:

Some people reportedly confused "Sam the Olympic Eagle," with Marc Davis' "Eagle Sam," the audio-animatronic host of Disneyland's "America Sings" attraction. Since both are anthropomorphic versions of bald eagles, who both wear red, white and blue top hats, have the same name and were both designed by the same studio, it's kind of easy to see how that mistake could have been made.

Los Angeles has been chosen to host the 2028 Summer Olympic Games. Unfortunately, Sam cannot be used again as the mascot, since the International Olympic Committee prohibits the use of any Olympic mascot, past the end of the calendar year in which the Olympic games were held. In fact, any promotional materials, costumes, unsold merchandise, etc., bearing the image of an Olympic mascot, are supposed to be destroyed at the end of the calendar year.

Does this mean that the Sam costume below does not still exist? It seems like it should have been placed into a museum somewhere. And that makes me ask the question, of why there isn't an Olympic museum in Los Angeles? After all, Los Angeles was the location of two Summer Olympic Games (1932 and 1984). Squaw Valley (in California) has a museum to commemorate their hosting of the the 1960 Winter Olympics, so why doesn't Los Angeles have something similar?

In anticipation of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Disneyland hosted "Olympic Spirit Weekends." To read more about this event, you can click here for my post from last year: Olympic Spirit Weekends at Disneyland

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

****Post Update (July 24, 2019)****

Some of the souvenirs for the 1984 Olympics used the "Star In Motion" logo on them, instead of "Sam the Olympic Eagle." And in some cases, both were used (like on the ceramic picture frame shown earlier in this post). The "Star in Motion" logo was created by graphic designer, Robert Miles Runyan.

This particular pinback button, was a very common Olympic souvenir that year. Not only is the "Star In Motion" logo included on it, but it also uses the color scheme used at the various Olympic venues. There were other versions of the button available, with "Welcome" printed in different languages. This one is the Spanish version which reads, "Bienvenidos."

Here is another pinback button. This one shows the Olympic torch (multiplied by three) and the dates of the events.

Each of these large-size postcards uses the image of an "athlete," competing in a different Olympic event.

This first one shows a man throwing a javelin, superimposed over the flags of many nations:

This one shows a man throwing a discus, superimposed over a nighttime view of Downtown Los Angeles:

And this last one shows a runner, superimposed over a view of Downtown Los Angeles at sunset.

I mentioned the color scheme that was used at the various Olympic venues. Deborah Sussman is the artist who came up with the designs and color choices. The photo below, shows the entrance to the Los Angeles Colosseum, which is where the Track and Field events were held (and also the Olympic's opening and closing ceremonies).

This was the entrance to the Archery events, which were held at El Dorado Park in Long Beach.

Archery was the only 1984 Olympic event that I attended. Here is the front and back of my ticket, dated August 11th.

I even saved the parking ticket/receipt.

The 1984 Olympics had many corporate sponsors, with each one getting to claim that their product was the official airlines, car, film, soft drink, etc., of the Olympics. I saved this M&M's wrapper, which included the proclamation that it was the "Official Snack Food of the 1984 Olympic Games."

The candy would have expired in May of 1985....if I hadn't eaten it!

There was an "Official Music of the XXIII Olympiad" record album, which included the traditional "Bugler's Dream," composed by Leo Arnaud for the 1958 Olympics, as well as John Williams' "Olympic Fanfare and Theme" (which incorporates "Bugler's Dream into it's opening).

As the sticker on the shrink wrap stated, other songs which were written specifically for the 1984 Olympics, were included on the album. The artists involved were, Giorgio Moroder, Christopher Cross, Loverboy, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Bill Conti, Foreigner, Philip Glass, Toto, and Bob James.

The album also had this nice gold seal affixed to the cover.

The back cover featured a photo of a gymnast on the balance beam.

If you would like to hear the John Williams track, you can listen to it on YouTube, by copying and pasting the link, below:

We will end this update with one more pic of Sam the Olympic Eagle. I really hope that at least one of these "Sam" costumes was saved!