Saturday, April 1, 2017

What Were They Thinking? - Light Magic at Disneyland


Well, it's April Fool's Day and unlike some of my past April Fool's Day posts, this one is not a joke. It is however, something that some of us WISH had been a joke....or just a bad dream!


"Light Magic" was the highly touted replacement for the beloved Main Street Electrical Parade at Disneyland. It started being "pushed" on us during the "Farewell Performances" of the Electrical Parade in 1996, when a special announcement right before every parade performance told us to, "Open the window to your dreams and see your wishes come true, when Light Magic makes it's journey to Disneyland in 1997. It's an exciting new street spectacular that will illuminate the night in the Magic Kingdom. We hope you will join us when the Light Magic celebration begins in 1997."

These fiber optic signs were posted above both train tunnels on Main Street during the farewell season of the Main Street Electrical Parade:





And then there was this sign hanging on the fence next to the exit of the Disneyland parking lot:


Light Magic-related construction began in early 1997 along the Small World Mall area. This nice, wide open view of the It's A Small World facade was eventually blocked by permanent lighting and sound towers that were erected for the new parade. Note the former Motor Boat Cruise lagoon (drained) on the far right.


A construction wall went up blocking off the entire roadway except for a narrow path on the far left, leading to Toontown.


And yet another sign, trying desperately to get people excited for the "spectacular journey" that was coming.


I guess this artwork on the construction wall was a little touch of foreshadowing. Pixies are coming to Disneyland! (An infestation of them!)


The section of the wall pictured above had two peek holes in it, but if you went a little further north, the wall ended and there were only tarps separating the guests from the construction. Below, is some video footage that I shot back in 1997 of the Small World Mall area under construction. In addition to the sound and light towers going up, a terraced viewing area on the east side of the parade route was being created and the souvenir stand/chalet over by the Matterhorn was also being built.





It's A Small World was closed, but guests could get a closer view of the construction from the Disneyland Railroad.




Eventually, the roadway was opened back up, but construction still continued in the area. The parade route that had previously consisted of slurry coated asphalt had been replaced with concrete to support the weight of the massive new parade units.



I hate to admit it, but we were actually suckered into paying $25 for an Annual Passholder "sneak preview" of Light Magic. This was the gate flyer being handed out that night.





Also for that $25 price, we were "given" the opportunity to purchase "exclusive" merchandise in advance before the general public. I bought this "light-up" button BEFORE I actually saw the parade.


We had originally been very excited to see the new parade. After all, if they were getting rid of the Electrical Parade after 24 years, then this new parade must be something pretty incredible, right? WRONG! The parade was so inexplicably horrible. We were dumbfounded. How could anything so awful have been allowed to get past the concept stage and actually into the park? Who kept green-lighting it along the way?


I should also mention that in addition to the parade being just plain bad, the performance that night was also delayed because of technical problems. We waited and waited for it to start, only to have Paul Pressler come out and announce that what we were about to see wasn't a sneak preview of the completed parade after all, but a "dress rehearsal" and as with most dress rehearsals, there may be some "glitches." After several long and painful "false starts", the parade finally began, but it continued to have problems including one of the projection screens not working. There were only two screens, so half of the people watching missed that part of the show.


Well, after paying $25 just to see the parade before the general public, we felt like we had been majorly ripped off. I really wanted to go complain at City Hall, even though I had/have never gone in there to complain about anything in the park, no matter how warranted it might be. As we were walking through the park and heading towards the exit, we could hear everyone around us grumbling about how bad the parade was and how they couldn't believe that THAT was what was replacing the Electrical Parade! When we got to Town Square, we noticed a very long line out the doorway of City Hall and I thought, okay, I don't need to complain because there are plenty of other people doing it. Then, just as we were passing the front door, someone came running out waving money in their hand and announcing loudly "They're giving refunds.....CASH!!!!" We immediately got in line. The cast members were processing everyone through very quickly. They weren't even asking any questions, they were just handing money out to everyone in line.

To add insult to injury that night, guests were being given a sneak peek of the "New" Tomorrowland, which was under construction at the time. "Look, we're destroying Tomorrowland....get excited about it!"


The artwork below was on display in Tomorrowland and showed the layout of the upcoming Rocket Rods attraction. We all know the tragic ending that had, so I won't go into that here. Maybe that could be the subject of next year's April Fool's Day post!


This was a model showing what the exterior mural of the Innoventions building was going to look like when finished. That mural was actually painted over just about a year ago when the "Star Wars Launch Bay" moved into the building.


If you have stayed with me this far (thank you!), here is something morbidly fascinating that I captured on video. The footage below shows the Light Magic floats (or "rolling stages," as management preferred to call them) being driven through the park in broad daylight. Why is this being done did you ask? Well, it turns out that since the parade stopped for it's "street performances" in ONLY two places along the entire parade route, the walkways in those areas would be packed solid with people. And since the parade would begin up at It's A Small World, when it was finished performing back there, many of the guests that had just seen it would try to leave the park, only to get bogged down on Main St. where the parade was having it's second "show stop."

Management decided to remedy this, by having the parade start in Town Square. That way, it would be moving in the opposite direction of the guests that were trying to leave the park. Well, in order to do that, they had to get the floats/stages over to the parade start gate in Town Square. And rather than moving them in the early morning before the park opened, they did it in the late afternoon, just hours before the actual parade, and right in front of park guests! People would already be sitting along the parade route, saving a viewing spot for the parade. I remember cast members running around telling the confused guests that this wasn't the parade and that the actual parade would be in a few hours. Talk about "bad show." The whole thing was really quite unbelievable.





Light Magic ended up closing less than four months after it debuted. Park officials kept insisting that it would be reworked and return the following summer, but fortunately that did not happen!

If anyone is really curious and wants to check out some footage of the streetcrapular they called "Light Magic," here is a video. This isn't my footage, and I'm not even recommending that you watch it. I'm just including it here as a matter of convenience for anyone that did not catch it during it's short run and has nothing better to do with the next 20 minutes of their life. OR, you could just watch the first 30 seconds of the video, which includes the Light Magic television commercial, and be done with it after that!





When I started my blog nine years ago, I never in a million years thought that I would ever be doing a "Light Magic" post, but I had the photos, the videos, and the souvenirs, and thought it might be appropriate to post them all on April Fool's Day. So there you have it! And a happy April Fool's Day, to everyone!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Pirates of the Caribbean Board Game - 1960's


Today is the 50th anniversary of Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean attraction!

I received this Parker Brothers "Pirates of the Caribbean Game" as a birthday present, back in the 1970's. Note that the box is dated 1965. The attraction didn't open at the park until 1967, but they must have been planning this game when it was still in the design or construction phases.


I like the cartoon-style graphics used on the game board. They are reminding me a little bit of the characters from the Rankin Bass Frosty the Snowman cartoon, or UPA's Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol.....or even the characters from a segment of School House Rock! ♪ ♫ "Well, every person you can know....like a wench OR a pirate!!!" ♫ ♪


The instructions and game piece sheet has both 1965 (in Roman numerals) and 1967 printed on it.


At the bottom of the "Rules for Playing," it mentions that this game was one of six in a series of Disneyland games. The other games in the series were, Adventureland, Monorail, Riverboat, It's A Small World, and Fantasyland. I have the original edition of the Monorail Game, but it was also reproduced around the time of Disneyland's 50th anniversary. I will try to get it photographed and posted soon.


I remember the "Riverboat Game" being available at the local "Lucky" grocery store where my mom shopped. This was back when grocery stores had a toy aisle! The Riverboat Game actually sat there on a shelf and didn't sell for years. It's box got a little worn around the edges over time, that's how I knew it was the exact same one. I remember being tempted to buy it, but I never did. Now of course, I wish I had!

Happy 50th Anniversary, to Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean!

(For anyone interested in other attraction-themed games, you can click on the links below.)

- Haunted Mansion Game

- Mad Tea Party Game

- Walt Disney World Game

Friday, February 24, 2017

Mustaches at Disneyland



We have just a quickie post for today (oh my gosh...two posts in one month!!!). This is a Los Angeles Times article from the year 2000, about how the cast members at Disneyland were finally being allowed to have mustaches.



The ban on facial hair was established by Walt Disney in 1957. That's kind of funny, considering he himself had a mustache. "Do as I say, not as I do!"



I also think it's funny that by the time mustaches were finally allowed, the workers didn't even care since most of them didn't want to have JUST a mustache. "You'd look like one of the Village People"......HA, HA! I'm assuming the cast member that said that was fairly young and I'm surprised he even knew who the Village People were! At least he got his wish for the company to allow goatees. Beards and goatees were finally allowed on cast members starting in February of 2012. I wonder if that cast member was still working there 12 years later. I know....it's highly doubtful!

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 MousePlanet.com (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!!!