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, which 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 who 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):

*****Post Update (April 2024)*****

I recently came across this advertisement, promoting the debut of "American Journeys" in the newly named "World Premiere Circle-Vision 360" theater (which was originally presented by PSA, before switching to Delta Airlines).  The ad is from the July 1, 1984 edition of The Los Angeles Times.



Major Pepperidge said...

Hooray, a new post! I never saw "Wonders of China", and it looks like it was a perfectly fine film, but I still have many warm fuzzies for the original "America the Beautiful" film. Also, why not an entire film about the Wonders of Oxnard?

TokyoMagic! said...

Hey Major, Yeah...I delayed my usual "first Friday of the month post," because I had squeezed in that Halloween post at the end of October.

I don't think there was/is a Circle Vision film that is better than the 1967 version of America The Beautiful. I didn't see what was at Disneyland prior to that, but I have seen both of EPCOT's Canada and China films and none of those compare to ATB, in my opinion. One major difference between ATB and American Journeys was that the latter movie had paid "extras" in the background and they were stiff and awkward. The people in the background of ATB were just real people on the street and it gave the film a more natural feeling. Some of the people even stared at the camera, but I think that added to it's charm! I don't think the script or the narrator from ATB can be beat either.

And speaking of EPCOT, I forgot to mention in my post that the reason Wonders of China was brought to DL, was because EPCOT had just opened two years earlier and Disney management was determined to get their money's worth out of it's new attractions by shoehorning some of them into Disneyland, whether they fit or not! Remember, we also ended up getting the 3-D film, Magic Journeys and the "Two Brothers" segment from World Showcase's American pavilion was forced into our Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln attraction. (And unfortunately, 32 years's still there!)

K. Martinez said...

Wonder why they never showed "O'Canada" here as well? It would've provided variety at least. Nothing beats the 1967 version of "American the Beautiful" though. I would love to have the audio from the original CirCARama show though, American Motors "Tour of the West".

I never knew about the sun and moon props from Circle-Vision being placed in BLAB. Next time I ride, I'll have to look out for them. It's kind of like the talking trophies, Max and Buff in the Pooh Ride, hidden from plain view but still there.

Anyway, I learned something new here today which makes the visit all worthwhile and I thoroughly enjoyed another great article on your blog.

Thanks, TM!

Major Pepperidge said...

Actually I didn’t know you were on a regular schedule! Guess I wasn’t paying attention. As usual.

Ken wants the soundtrack from the “Tour of the West”, I want to see the actual footage! I wonder if it still exists. Imagine seeing nice color footage of the West circa 1956 or whenever it was. Also, I did not know that “Magic Journeys” was originally from EPCOT. That was the trippy 3-D movie, right? I still remember the audience reaching out to “touch” the swimming fish.

TokyoMagic! said...

Ken, Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed this post and that you were able to learn something new! That is a good question about why they never showed EPCOT's O'Canada film at Disneyland. You'd think after so many years, they would have swapped out Wonders of China for a different film just to mix things up. Maybe it was a matter of money? I could easily see management not wanting to pay the cost of striking a new print of the Canada film to show at DL.

Major, Yes, Magic Journeys was the trippy 3-D movie and it originally played at EPCOT in the Imagination Pavilion. The theme song was written by the Sherman Brothers. I remember how super clear the 3-D was in that film with the fish, the kite, etc. and I remember people reaching out many times during the film.

Snow White Archive said...

Thorough coverage as always Tokyo. The Disney Company must be sending you a check by now for all the archival services you provide them, right? ;) Glad to see new posts; didn't know you had a regular schedule either. I'll keep a lookout around the first Friday of each month.

TokyoMagic! said...

SWA, Thank you! Unfortunately, there aren't any checks coming in from Disney! Wait....actually, I do get a check from them about once a year for about two dollars because a friend gave me one share of Disney stock as a birthday gift many years ago! As for my posting the I think of it, I guess I post on the first Friday of the month more often than not. However, I do alter that schedule occasionally if there is a special event, holiday or anniversary of some sort, like a Disneyland "Anniversary Post," or a "Halloween Post," etc. Thank you for continuing to check-in on my blog and leave comments!

Daniel said...
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