Friday, December 7, 2018

The Columbia Sailing Ship's Fatal Accident - December 1998

Today's post is another one that can be filed under the heading, "Tragic Kingdom."

Twenty years ago this month, Disneyland's Columbia Sailing Ship was involved in a tragic accident affecting two guests and one cast member. This Los Angeles Times article is from the following day (Christmas Day).

Also mentioned, is a completely separate incident that occurred on the same day. A 4-year old boy fell off of King Arthur's Carousel and ended up in the hospital with a concussion.

This article doesn't mention it, but the man from Duvall, Washington, who was struck in the head was Luan Phi Dawson. Sadly, he was declared brain dead at the hospital and passed away two days later, after being taken off of life support.

This second article (which I believe was from the O.C. Weekly) asks the question, "Did cost-cutting cause Disneyland mishap?" Some Disneyland cast members were reportedly blaming Paul Pressler for the accident. Can we just blame him for everything that was wrong with Disneyland in the 1990's and 2000's?

This Los Angeles Times article is from about a month after the incident:

And this short article was published after the Columbia reopened to the public:

Friday, November 2, 2018

Mickey's 50th & The Star Wars Holiday Special - 1978

Mickey Mouse is celebrating his 90th birthday this month! Gee, it seems like only yesterday that he was turning 50!

That year was 1978, and there was plenty of merchandise created to commemorate Mickey's 50th.

There was "The Official Birthday Book"......

A ceramic collector's plate and metal serving tray:

A holiday ornament:

Music Box:


Some of these items were available at Disneyland, as well as other retail locations. However, some were actually exclusive to the park, like this book of matches and pinback button.

Mickey was even featured on the cover of Life Magazine, with a story about animation, inside.

There was also an article about his milestone birthday in the November 11, 1978 issue of TV Guide.

The article (by Maurice Sendak), began by mentioning that a special episode of The Wonderful World of Disney, titled "Mickey's 50," would be airing the following week.

Now, let's take a look at what was airing on television, 40 years ago:

Hollywood was celebrating it's 75th anniversary with a star-studded blowout!

The Wonderful World of Disney was showing The Boatniks, as a part of the show's 25th anniversary that year.

Ode To Billy Joe was airing on TV for the first time. I have never seen that movie. It just always sounded kind of depressing! Fifteen years later, Robbie Benson would provide the voice of "The Beast," in Disney's animated version of Beauty and the Beast.

Family Feud was having one of it's special celebrity editions with the casts of five different soap operas. I never watched daytime soaps, but it's kind of sad to think that out of all of these shows, General Hospital is the only one that is still on the air. I remember my mom watching The Secret Storm and As The World Turns!

On Dallas, the Ewing Family was facing their "worst crisis." This was before J.R. got shot, causing the entire nation to ask the question, "Who Shot J.R.?"

Pearl Bailey was guest starring on The Muppet Show, BEFORE Disney "acquired" them from Jim Henson.

The 1973 Emmy Award-winning special, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, was already an established annual tradition.

Farrah Fawcett was making her second "forced" guest-starring appearance on Charlie's Angels, following the breaking of her contract at the end of season one.

Mike Douglas and Dinah Shore both had popular afternoon talk shows. Mike Douglas had supplied the singing voice for Prince Charming in Disney's Cinderella and Dinah Shore had narrated the "Bongo" segment from Disney's Fun And Fancy Free. Mike Douglas was going to be visiting the set of Battlestar Galactica that week!

The New Mickey Mouse Club had been canceled the year before, but was still being shown in repeats.

The Love Boat and Different Strokes were both having special "Thanksgiving episodes."

And a little trainwreck called the Stars Wars Holiday Special, aired for the first and only time on television. The special is significant for Star Wars fans for several reasons....okay, maybe only one. It marks the first appearance of the character, Boba Fett. We do get to meet Chewbacca's family and we also get to hear Princess Leia sing.....not necessarily good things! The special is jaw-droppingly bad, but in a "you can't take your eyes off of it" kind of way.

The ad on the inside back cover was for the Chevy Chevette, the "Best Selling Small Car In America."

By the way, the artwork on the TV Guide cover was by the artist, Charles Santore. It depicts actor, Ron Liebman, who at the time was co-creator, co-writer and starring in the TV series, "Kaz." He won an Emmy for playing the title role, but unfortunately the show was still canceled after only one season. He would go on to win a Tony Award for playing Roy Cohn in the play, Angels In America. He also had recurring roles in Friends (as Rachel's father) and in The Sopranos (as Dr. Plepler). Here is the cover story article about him:

And here's a link to The Star Wars Holiday Special on YouTube, for anyone that wants to feel REALLY uncomfortable for the next hour and a half!

Monday, October 1, 2018

EPCOT Center Pre-Opening Items: Commemorative Ticket, Booklet & Map

In honor of EPCOT's 36th anniversary today, we're going to take a look at some pre-opening EPCOT souvenirs.

One year before EPCOT Center opened, Disney began selling special commemorative opening day tickets.

The ticket could be used at either of Walt Disney World's two parks, but not until after EPCOT Center opened.

This ad for the commemorative tickets, was featured in the Winter 1981/82 issue of Disney News Magazine.

That price of $30 for three days, seems like it would have been a really good deal, especially for a limited edition commemorative ticket. Here is what the prices were for Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in early 1982, prior to EPCOT's opening.

By the time EPCOT had opened, prices for one-day tickets (for either park) had gone up two dollars for Adults and Juniors, and one dollar for a Child's ticket.

I actually found this EPCOT pre-opening booklet on the floor of the Main Street Opera House at Disneyland, back in 1982. It was originally handed out to cast members only, during special EPCOT Center "previews" that were held in the Opera House's auditorium.

I picked this map up at Disneyland back in 1982, right around the time that EPCOT was opening. The maps were free and were available in the Carefree Corner on Main Street.

Note the building for Horizons is already shown on the map as a coming attraction in 1983. The Living Seas pavilion would go into that open lower right corner of Future World in 1986.

Happy Anniversary, to Walt Disney World's EPCOT Center!