Archive for March, 2013

Photoland: Singing My Way

Monday, March 11th, 2013

The Haunted Mansion’s exterior hasn’t changed a lick since it opened (aside from the addition of the pet cemetery, the extension of the queue, the removal of part of the graveyard, the addition of the Mormon funeral coffin, some landscaping, installing a manhole cover in the middle of the grass for some reason, and the occasional annual redecorating for the Halloween/holiday season). See?

Photoland: Singing My Way

Next up: A raft of photos

Photoland: It’s the Rail Thing

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Disneyland’s train engines have remained the same over they years, even though some of their surroundings have changed. For example, Frontierland Station was replaced with New Orleans Square Station…

Photoland: It's the Rail Thing

…and the sideways-seating cars seen here have been replaced with faster-loading front-seating cars. But as Walt Disney himself said, “I’ll give up my trains when you pry them from my coal dusted hands.”

Next up: Room for one more

Photoland: Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a Photograph for Me

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

If you ever want to take an old photograph and hold it up while taking a photograph of it, don’t do it in a moving vehicle in a dark room or it will turn out like this:

Photoland: Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a Photograph for Me

You might have better luck taking a picture in a restaurant, but if the restaurant is lit only by tiny, animatronic candles and fake fireflies, it will still turn out like this:

Photoland: Blue Bayou

Next up: In training

Photoland: Reserved for Indiana Jones

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

This one’s a bit whimsical. We found a photo of the old Disneyland parking lot, and by using triangulation, a solar-position database, and Google Maps were able to calculate that it was taken from a point that is now part of the Indiana Jones Adventure queue!

Photoland: Reserved for Indiana Jones

Is the parking lot sign seen in this photo the very one that is currently found hidden within Mara’s temple? Nobody knows! (But we’re going to say it is anyway.)

Next up: Pirates!

Photoland: Tikimania!

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

Aside from Main Street, the castle, the train, Pirates, the Haunted Mansion, and the Main Street Vehicles, there is no attraction at Disneyland more associated with Walt Disney than the Enchanted Tiki Room.

Photoland: Tikimania! entrance

The entrance to the Tiki Room has changed little over the years and, like today, was often completely empty.

Within the building we find birds…

Photoland: Tikimania! bird

…singing plants…

Photoland: Tikimania! flowers

…and, of course, tikis!

Photoland: Tikimania! tikis

(One thing we don’t find is a anyone willing to let us use a flash or set up flood lights to take pictures, no matter how cool or important to Disney history those pictures are, so these are a little dark. Sorry about that.)

If you compare the old animatronic creatures to the new ones, you can see one important difference: the old Tiki Room figures were entirely pneumatic! They were all converted to electricity some years ago after the park ran out of the original air purchased to run the pneumatic machinery and found that it was prohibitively expensive to replace.

Next up: Temple of the Forbidden Parking

Photoland: Hubbub

Friday, March 8th, 2013

In our collection, we have many, many photos of Sleeping Beauty Castle. This only makes sense, because what sane person would visit Disneyland with a camera and not take a photo of the park’s most iconic icon?

Photoland: Hubbub

Even though the castle has been in the park since day one, it (and the hub before which it stands) have changed quite a bit over the years. For example, the trees have grown, the pain scheme has been adjusted, and the 24-carat gold on the spires has been replaced with “fantasy gold.” More significantly, if this picture were taken today, the castle would be completely obscured by the Partners statue!

Next up: Tikis!

Tips from Pixar

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Former Pixar intern Cemma Oats tweeted quite a few insightful glimpses into the world of storytelling before being let go for general unfeeling incompetence. Here are a few highlights:

  1. Computer animated characters are admired more for their resolution than for their resolve.
  2. You have to keep in mind what’s interesting to the audience (explosions), not what’s fun to do as a writer (World of Warcraft).
  3. Trying to make a meaningful point is important, but you won’t see what the story is really about ’til you present it to management. Now rewrite.
  4. There once was ___. Someday ___. Then I ___. Because of that ___. Oh, shoot I ___. Now I have to buy a new ___.
  5. Simplify. Trim. Cut. Kill what you love. It’ll feel like you’re selling your own children for pin money, but it leaves you material for a sequel.
  6. What is your character best at, happiest with? Throw the exact opposite at them. Literally. Like racecars and stuff. With a trebuchet, maybe.
  7. Write a good ending before you worry about the beginning or middle. Really. Nobody cares about the buildup making sense if the ending is awesome!
  8. When you hit your deadline, you’re done. Forget about it even if it’s not perfect. It’d be great if you had more time, but things have to keep moving. There are already vendors out there making the Happy Meal toys.
  9. If you don’t know what to do, write out all the things that absolutely COULDN’T happened next. Then do that. They won’t see it coming.
  10. Pull apart the characters you love. With wolves, maybe.
  11. Think hard before putting it on paper. If you keep it in your head, it will never become reality, but at least nobody can steal it.
  12. Forget the first thing you think of. And the second, and the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. Wait until you think of something you’d never possibly think of. Paradoxically surprise yourself.
  13. Give your characters opinions. Easy going might seem likable but it’s boring to viewers. Nobody remembers Pleasant K. Smellworthy. Everyone remembers Hitler.
  14. What’s the big deal about THIS story? Why are you telling it? What’s the heart of it? It’s probably because of something the marketing department came up with, or because the characters are renderable with the latest software.
  15. If you were a character in this story, what would you do? Probably a lot of screaming, right?
  16. What’s at stake? The character’s future? Your job? The company’s future? What happens if you don’t succeed? How many people’s lives will be destroyed? No pressure, though.
  17. Even if you have to throw it out, no work is ever wasted. You’re not burning ideas; you’re employing recyclers and landfill operators.
  18. Know yourself: the difference between getting coffee because you need caffeine to keep going, and getting coffee because it gets you away from your desk. Either way, good story is mainly Starbucks related.
  19. Coincidences that complicate the story are great; coincidences that solve a problem are unsatisfying; coincidences in unbelievable piles are George Lucas.
  20. Plagiarize: take the best parts of a movie you love and rework them into something that you can say you wrote.
  21. You’ve gotta identify with your characters; imagine yourself in their situation. This is YOUR dream. Everyone else in the story should be doing stuff to make things cool for YOU.
  22. What’s the hook of your story? How can you describe it as the comingling of two Hollywood hits? If you know that, you can get funding and distribution.

Photoland: Phony Calls

Friday, March 8th, 2013

In the Market House at the end of Main Street is an old-fashioned telephone:

Photoland: Phony Calls

Pick up the receiver, and you can hear a fanciful old party-line telephone call (so called because those with enough money to own a phone at the time were stereotypically rich Republicans who always voted “along the party line”) in which a woman is so confused that she has called the postmaster to tell him that her barn is on fire.

Note that the phone is farther to the left on the wall in the old picture than it is in the new picture. Many years ago, the phone was moved further into the corner to make more room for merchandise in the shop.

Next up: The hub

Photoland: Where’s the Fire?

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

There are several vehicles that take guests for rides up and down Main Street. One of them is this old-fashioned fire engine:

Photoland: Where's the Fire?

The engine was originally built in 1899, but Walt Disney himself purchased it and had its horses removed and a gasoline engine added so that it could be more easily used in his park. Today, the gasoline engine has been replaced by a more modern, clean burning, high-pressure liquid hydrogen fuel cell (with, when fully charged, enough energy to level a city block), but despite what’s under the hood, the body of the car remains true to its antique history.

Looking at this old photo, one can’t help but wonder about the people in them. Who knows what ever happened to the smiling driver shown here? Perhaps he still works in the park!

Next up: It’s in the barn!

Photoland: Two Half Sisters

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Main Street features a number of artificial women in prominent roles.

One of them is the mystically popular Esmeralda…

Photoland: Two Half Sisters 1

…who to this day tells fortunes in front of the Main Street Candy Store Penny Arcade. Although prices have gone up a little over the years, Esmeralda’s prophecies remain as accurate as ever.

Across the street…

Photoland: Two Half Sisters 2

…is Esmeralda’s sister Tilly. Tilly is the Main Street Cinema’s ticket taker, but when the park stopped using ticket books she was no longer needed to perform this function. Her animatronics were removed (they were later used in one of Splash Mountain’s dancing chickens) and Tilly’s role became a purely decorative one.

Next up: Fire!