A casual reminder to all of those at the Oscars…
…..You’ll never beat Walt.
Walt Disney was nominated for 59 Academy Awards, won 22, and earned 4 honorary recognitions from the Academy.
More like Walt Disney doing NAUTICAL things…
….And this time it is about Disneyland!
Once again, I’m a guest on the Disney Project Podcast, with my good friends, Jon, Jeff, and Keith. We have a roundtable discussion about the thematic qualities of Disneyland from the perspectives of a longtime visitor, a local, and a tourist. As I just visited Disneyland for the first time this past August, I (and Jon) assume the role of the tourist. As a lifelong Walt Disney World visitor, seeing Disneyland inspired many thoughts and emotions. This is part one of a two part series on Disneyland. Enjoy!
Wonders of the World’s Fair - Ryman and Ford’s Wonder Rotunda
In 1964, corporate might coupled itself with artful, themed exhibition and gave the citizens of New York a World’s Fair that served as a cultural hinge point for the art, and even science, of creating thematic attractions, with an educating purpose. Of course, that purpose was aligned to the purposes of advertisement, but basic knowledge and topical subjects were also exhibited. Disney’s work on Ford’s Magic Skyway is a fantastic example of this dichotomy in character.
Fairgoers, or students of World’s Fair history most fondly remember or associate the Skyway with the Audio Animatronic laden ride that boasted a space age-inspired trek back into time to witness the innovation and progress of man’s early accomplishments. Of course, this was popular at the fair, and many rides, be they ones that delved into far flung futurism (Futurama, Progressland) or ones that dealt with the heady march of time (Traveler’s Triumph of Man) centered themselves around exhibiting the human condition, inspired by the frenetic scientific and technological changes taking place in the 60’s. These themes and ideas strike a parallel to EPCOT Center’s take on technology and progress in the 1980s, when computers and technology began to become even more commonplace and useful. With this in mind, the New York World’s Fair of 1964 could be considered a proofing ground for EPCOT Center and its concepts. By extension, Disney’s efforts with corporate sponsorship in Tomorrowland is an influence.
It should come as no surprise then, that, Ford’s Magic Skyway wasn’t only just about a journey back in time, hosted by Walt Disney. Ford sponsored the pavilion and explicitly dictated that the queue for the ride would showcase their cars and how their products helped make the international world a more accessible place. This ideology, too, was a major selling point of the 1964 fair, reacting to the climactic and violent events of the 1960’s and 50’s.
Herb Ryman was tasked with designing this part of the pavilion and came up with the International Gardens- tableaux of cities and ports of call from all around the world, boasting international landmarks and architecture. Think Disneyland’s Storybookland Canal Boats, but themed to World Showcase… and interspersed with Ford cars.
While the main show itself seemingly only used Ford as an ends to a means, the preshow and queue were packed with marketing and product driven information. Being one of the busiest pavilions at the fair, Ryman designed the International Gardens to be well equipped with an extensive queue. After guests wound their way through the International Gardens, and the models of miniature towns and landmarks from across the globe, they found themselves in the Wonder Rotunda, essentially a Ford showroom. There, concept cars and new models sat amongst pools of water, fountains, and colored lights while guests meandered past, gazing at the vehicles that were about to send them on a fantastic voyage.
Although certainly not subtle, this brand of synergy speaks to the drive and ideology of the New York World’s Fair and all of the endeavors it would come to inspire. Disney, while in creative control of the content being presented to guests, was guided and inspired by the corporations that sought to advertise and influence potential customers. The product created is one that entertains and educates, a hallmark of Disney’s brand of entertainment, and the hearthstone for EPCOT Center.
For more information on Disney’s involvement in corporate exhibition at the New York World’s Fair, GE’s Progressland also served as a prime example:
Ray Bradbury on the wonder of WED’s new Audio Animatronic technology:
"Ray Bradbury was fascinated with the project. He wrote 'I watched the finishing touches being put on a second computerized, electric- and air-pressure driven humanoid that will 'live' at Disneyland from this summer on (1965). I saw this new effigy of Mr. Lincoln sit, stand, shift his arms, turn his wrists, twitch his fingers, put his hands behind his back, turn his head, look at me, blink and prepare to speak. In those few moments I was filled with an awe I have rarely felt in my life.' He claimed, 'Only a few hundred years ago all this would have been considered blasphemous, I thought. To create man is not man's business, but God's, it would have been said. Disney and every technician with him would have been bundled and burned at the stake in 1600.' Bradbury declared, 'Disney is the first to make a robot that is convincingly real, that looks, speaks, and acts like a man. Disney has set the history of humanized robots on its way toward wider, more fantastic excursions into the needs of civilization.' “
Ray Bradbury quotes appeared in the October 1965 issue of Holiday magazine, collected and published in The Disneyland Story by Sam Gennawey,
New Tomorrowland, under heavy construction in late 1966. The Carousel of Progress, Peoplemover Tracks, and Adventures through Inner Space, as viewed from the slopes of the mighty Matterhorn.
It’s the early spring of 1973 and Walt Disney World’s Space Mountain has surmounted a major milestone- its topping out ceremony. Standing at close to 180 feet tall, the topmost spire of Space Mountain has been installed, while the rest of the facility awaits the instillation of poured concrete slabs to make up the iconic facade and upper dome of the ‘mountain’.