Friday, February 26, 2010

A Visit to Captain EO-Land


It's back! Almost 13 years after it's last showing, Captain EO has made a return to Disneyland. Personally, I'm very happy about this. It's not because it was my all-time favorite Disneyland attraction, although I did enjoy it a thousand times more than what replaced it. It's just the fact that ANY retired attraction that gets to make a return to Disneyland gives me hope for more of this happening in the future. I was practically shocked out of my wits to see the 1967 version of "America The Beautiful" make a return to the CircleVision Theater in 1996. Until then, I don't think anything like that had happened before. Then the Canoes made a return to the Rivers of America after being closed for a year in the late 1990's. The Submarine Voyage also made a return, even if it does have a new theme now. We've also gotten to see the reopening of the Sleeping Beauty Castle walk-thru. Now if we could just see the PeopleMover come back.....oh, and Adventure Thru Inner Space......and the return of the Carousel Theater as an ACTUAL theater....oh, and Nature's Wonderland. Am I being too greedy? Okay, just the PeopleMover would be a nice start!


So Captain EO is back, but how long will it stay? Well, Wikipedia already has the closing date listed for it as January 2, 2011, but knowing Disney, that date isn't necessarily set in stone. Whether it stays one year or ten years, will probably depend on how popular it is and whether or not Disney wants to spend the money to put something else into that space. In the meantime, I thought that it might be fun to go back through the history of this particular attraction "space" at Disneyland and look at all the different things that have sat on that spot over the years. Ready for another time traveling post? The time machine is engaged........here we go!

In the beginning, there were the Flying Saucers. Speaking of returns, they're coming back too, but this time to DCA. They are going to be redesigned as "hovering tires." Will they be as visually attractive as the 1960's Tomorrowland version? I guess, we will just have to wait and see.


Next, there was the Tomorrowland Stage which played host to The Kids of the Kingdom, The All American College Marching Band, The Osmonds, E. J. Peaker , the broadcast of the 1969 moon landing, and a whole lot more during it's nine year run.


In the 1970's, when Space Mountain was planned for this spot, a stage was worked into the design so that outdoor stage shows could continue in Tomorrowland.


After EPCOT CENTER opened in 1982, the 3-D movie "Magic Journeys" premiered at Disneyland on the Space Mt./Space Stage. Of course, since it was an outdoor theater, performances couldn't begin until "Nightfall."


Then in 1986, this pleasant open air space was walled up, changing the appearance of the original Space Mountain Complex forever. The newly enclosed area was renamed The Magic Eye Theater and hosted Captain EO for the next ten and a half years. Personally I would have rather seen a temporary ceiling and walls go up around this space so that when attendance declined over the years, the film could have been shown only at night, allowing for the Space Stage to be utilized again during the day.


The photo above was taken in 1997 after Captain EO had already closed permanently. Note the empty case that once held the attraction poster. Below is a photo of the poster and the display case from two years earlier.

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These next two photos were also taken in 1997 after the attraction closed. Notice the construction reflected in the sign in the first pic. The construction that was taking place was the conversion of The Carousel Theater into Innoventions.....UGH!
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Below.....original sign or "Tribute" sign?
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Next, this space hosted another EPCOT film, "Honey I Shrunk The Audience"....a film that fit in perfectly with the new depressing "Brown Tomorrowland" of 1998. I was never a fan of this film and actually found it almost painful to sit through. This is one attraction that I hope never returns to Disneyland! Bye-bye H.I.S.T.A.!


WELCOME BACK, CAPTAIN EO!!!



POST UPDATE: Check out my newer post: Captain EO-Land At Tokyo Disneyland!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Walt Disney World 1974 - Tom Sawyer Island

Let's take a trip to Tom Sawyer Island at Walt Disney World.


Wait, let's take a time traveling trip to the island. Below is the same view of Harper's Mill as seen above, but this shot was taken in July of 1974.....just about a year after the island opened.


Compare this next photo of the mill and the landing to photos taken just one year earlier when the island was under construction (click here for those construction pics).


Now, we'll take a raft over to the island. Three WDW employee's will be riding along with us....the two on the left work in security, but where does that lady in the yellow skirt (or is that a skort?) work? The windmill (Potter's Mill) on the island can be seen in the background and the Haunted Mansion, located on the other side of the island and the river can also be seen. It would not be visible from this angle today due to the almost 40 years of vegetation growth.

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We've arrived on the island, but the two security guards have stayed behind on the raft. I wonder what that was all about? Checking for stowaways? Yippies? Did WDW ever have a problem with Yippies?


Here's a sign welcoming us to the island.


The sign reads:

WELCUM!

IF'N YOU LIKE DARK CAVES, MYSTERY MINES, BOTTOMLESS PITS, SHAKEY BRIDGES N BIG ROCKS YOU HAVE COME TO THE BEST PLACE I KNOW. IF'N YOU DON'T LIKE CREEPY OLD SCARY PLACES DON'T WORRY......HUCK FINN AN MYSELF WUZ PLENTY SCARED TOO. HUCK WUZ MORE SCARED THAN ME.

TOM

WUZ NOT!

HUCK


Now let's mosey on over to Harper's Mill. Hmmm, there's another sign.


This sign reads:

HARPER'S MILL

THIS HERE DESERTED GRIST MILL WUZ NAMED AFTER MY FRIEN JOE HARPER'S OLD MAN. IF N YOU CHOOZE TO GO INSIDE, PLEASE DON'T SCARE THE BIRDS THAT YOU WILL FIND THERE UNLESS SOME NO GOOD DONE SCARED EM BEFORE YOU DID.

TOM SAWYER


We'll be heading back now. Sorry for such a short trip, but I don't have anymore vintage island shots. Fort Langhorn can be seen here in the distance as we leave the island.
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If we zoom in on the shot above we can also see one of the totem poles over on the mainland.

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Ah, we got back safely and we're back in the present too. I hope everyone enjoyed this little Walt Disney World time traveling trip!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Roger Rabbit "Hearts" Jessica Rabbit & Squeaker Postcard

In honor of Valentine's Day this weekend, we have a photo of Roger Rabbit all decked out in a tuxedo. He's holding a heart-shaped box of chocolates in one hand and a picture of his wife, Jessica Rabbit in the other. The wallpaper in the background even contains silhouettes of Jessica Rabbit and Baby Herman. This was a Main St. window display at Disneyland in February of 1996. The window was located next to The Candy Palace on Main Street and is the same window as this one that contained a paper sculpture of the Castle for Disneyland's 25th birthday in 1980. Sixteen years had passed since I took that first pic and I had now learned that if you are going use a flash to take a photo of something behind glass, you have to shoot it at an angle to avoid seeing the reflection of the flash!


I'm throwing this image in just because of it's heart-shaped background. This is one of my earliest Disneyland souvenirs from childhood. It's a "squeaker" postcard. These are called squeakers because they are extra thick with a little device located inside and when squeezed in the middle, they let out a "squeak." The pin hole at the top is there because as a kid, I had this pinned to a bulletin board in my bedroom.


Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!!!


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Walt Disney World - Steamboats of The Magic Kingdom

Today we will be staying with the theme from last week, the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. These first two photos are from the early 70's and show the Admiral Joe Fowler Riverboat alongside it's dock in Liberty Square. This paddle wheeler was named after Joe Fowler, the retired Navy Admiral that played an important role in the construction of both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. The ship was very similar in appearance to Disneyland's Mark Twain Riverboat.


Unfortunately, the Admiral Joe Fowler was damaged beyond repair during a 1980 rehab, so it was permanently removed from service at that time and scrapped. (In 1999 however, one of the ferries that take guests from the Ticket and Transportation Center across the Seven Seas Lagoon to the Magic Kingdom, was renamed the Admiral Joe Fowler. That boat had previously been known as the Magic Kingdom I.)


Below, is a 2007 photo that I took from almost the same spot along the riverbank as the photo above. The Haunted Mansion is still visible off in the distance, but notice how much the vegetation has grown over the years.


In 1973, a second riverboat, the Richard F. Irvine was introduce to the Rivers of America and actually coexisted with the Admiral Joe Fowler until 1980. This boat was completely refurbished in 1996 and was renamed the Liberty Belle as seen below. Note the single smoke stack on this vessel. I am wondering why Disney built a second riverboat that so closely resembled the original....especially when that original boat was still in operation. How curious!


I had heard that parts of the Admiral Joe Fowler were later reused in the construction of Tokyo Disneyland's Mark Twain Riverboat, which opened in 1983, but I haven't been able to confirm that for sure. Does anyone out there know if that's true? This last photo is from 2009 and shows Tokyo Disneyland's Mark Twain sitting alongside it's dock in Westernland. Splash Mountain can also be seen off in the distance.