The Explorium
Star Spangled Spectacular
This fantastic press image illustrates the Bicentennial iteration of Walt Disney World’s Electrical Water Pageant. This version of the show boasted a unique hot air balloon and put in place the patriotic finale that still plays out nightly on the Seven Seas Lagoon. 
Before this, however, The Electrical Water Pageant had begun a tradition of nightly spectaculars with many important implications for entertainment at the Vacation Kingdom. Essentially the first large entertainment spectacular in Disney World, the show illustrates how different the early Vacation Kingdom presented itself to guests. With the Magic Kingdom closing early in the evening, often at 6 PM, it was expected that guests (most of them staying on Disney property) would retire to their hotels and resorts and would find entertainment there. Both the Polynesian and the Contemporary hosted large venues with music and dancing, and many forms of recreation were held on the Seven Seas Lagoon. But the unifying event of the evening was the Electrical Water Pageant, a spectacle unlike any other. Synthesized music, glittering, animated floats, all set against the bucolic beauty of the Seven Seas Lagoon and The Magic Kingdom at night served as what was designed to keep guests active and engaged at Walt Disney World. Disney’s Florida endeavor was designed to be a fully encompassing vacation destination, often meaning that the Magic Kingdom was not always the singular focus for patrons. By emphasizing differentiated activities and diversions, Disney World defined itself against Disneyland’s image of being theme park centric. Today, this allure of the Vacation Kingdom is still very much alive, though often overshadowed by the theme parks, which have blossomed and thrived, as expected.
But as a cornerstone for Disney’s entertainment history, the Electrical Water Pageant is one of the largely unique pieces of Walt Disney World heritage that defines the Florida venture as wholly its own. What began as a nightly spectacle has receded into the texture and sinew of what Walt Disney World means to the rest of Disney’s properties, but still sparkles and shines with a unique light and meaning, all its own. 
Image graciously provided by Dan Cunningham (@HonuDan) 

Star Spangled Spectacular

This fantastic press image illustrates the Bicentennial iteration of Walt Disney World’s Electrical Water Pageant. This version of the show boasted a unique hot air balloon and put in place the patriotic finale that still plays out nightly on the Seven Seas Lagoon. 

Before this, however, The Electrical Water Pageant had begun a tradition of nightly spectaculars with many important implications for entertainment at the Vacation Kingdom. Essentially the first large entertainment spectacular in Disney World, the show illustrates how different the early Vacation Kingdom presented itself to guests. With the Magic Kingdom closing early in the evening, often at 6 PM, it was expected that guests (most of them staying on Disney property) would retire to their hotels and resorts and would find entertainment there. Both the Polynesian and the Contemporary hosted large venues with music and dancing, and many forms of recreation were held on the Seven Seas Lagoon. But the unifying event of the evening was the Electrical Water Pageant, a spectacle unlike any other. Synthesized music, glittering, animated floats, all set against the bucolic beauty of the Seven Seas Lagoon and The Magic Kingdom at night served as what was designed to keep guests active and engaged at Walt Disney World. Disney’s Florida endeavor was designed to be a fully encompassing vacation destination, often meaning that the Magic Kingdom was not always the singular focus for patrons. By emphasizing differentiated activities and diversions, Disney World defined itself against Disneyland’s image of being theme park centric. Today, this allure of the Vacation Kingdom is still very much alive, though often overshadowed by the theme parks, which have blossomed and thrived, as expected.

But as a cornerstone for Disney’s entertainment history, the Electrical Water Pageant is one of the largely unique pieces of Walt Disney World heritage that defines the Florida venture as wholly its own. What began as a nightly spectacle has receded into the texture and sinew of what Walt Disney World means to the rest of Disney’s properties, but still sparkles and shines with a unique light and meaning, all its own. 

Image graciously provided by Dan Cunningham (@HonuDan) 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Wishing you all PROGRESS in 2014!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Wishing you all PROGRESS in 2014!

waltdisneydoingfunnythings:

Oh, just Walt Disney chilling out in Adventureland, chatting with some guys around a trashcan. 
Note the signs in the background- Jungle Cruise River Boat Ride! 

waltdisneydoingfunnythings:

Oh, just Walt Disney chilling out in Adventureland, chatting with some guys around a trashcan. 

Note the signs in the background- Jungle Cruise River Boat Ride! 

Back in 1971, even the Contemporary Resort Hotel’s Christmas tree lived up to the theme of the Grand Canyon Concourse. Clad in shimmering tinsel, this tree marked Walt Disney World’s first Christmas with evocative flair. 

Merry Christmas! 

Back in 1971, even the Contemporary Resort Hotel’s Christmas tree lived up to the theme of the Grand Canyon Concourse. Clad in shimmering tinsel, this tree marked Walt Disney World’s first Christmas with evocative flair. 

Merry Christmas! 


TOMORROW! 
After a long, arduous, but first successful term of graduate school, a jaunt to Walt Disney World is in order. My first trip back after visiting Disneyland, the next few days should be interesting to see how my perspectives and expectations have changed for my “home” resort. Follow along on Twitter and Instagram, if you are so inclined. 


 ”And still we keep going back, after all this time, when anyone would think that the charisma should have been worn down to the bones… all the sights seen, all the surprises exhausted, all the thrills quenched. Perhaps somewhere down inside there’s a stubborn streak of childlike wonder that won’t let go after the onslaught of 50 years.
So there we were, on a Sunday afternoon, driving again out to Walt Disney World for some more. After all this time, there was still that inexplicable pull that kept insisting: put it all aside and to hell with all the stuff you ought to be doing. Forget it. The Magic Kingdom is just down the road.
Surely, I think, it’s like old songs now, that are never too old and faded to listen to again. Or old wine that is even better each time revisited. 
 We ride down Main Street in the horse-drawn street car, plodding slow, with the gaiety and celebration all around us. At the castle, we have to choose - so little time - and we choose first the submarine. Although the lines are long, the journey 20,000 leagues under the sea is as much an adventure as ever. As soon as we surface, we’re ready to head over to the Circle-Vision theater. Magic again. For through the miracle of cinema we soar across the face of America and see and experience the places that would otherwise have taken a lifetime to encompass. 
 There is a pause for coffee in Fantasyland, and then on across Liberty Square to Frontierland. Guns crackle in the shooting gallery. A trio strums bluegrass music in front of the old saloon. Some might call it corn. To us, it is still adventure. And because Artice has an enduring love affair with the bears, we work our way up to Country Bear Jamboree. By now, these zany animals have become old friends. Even though we know each song and scene almost by heart, we still get carried away and sit there clapping and stomping like any old tobacco-chewing hillbillies.
 Back outside again, we find the Magic Kingdom wrapped in twilight. The myriad lights are blazing, and it is yet another world. We stop for a glass of orange juice in Adventureland and listen for a while to the steel drum band playing Calypso in the square.
 Closing time is near. The crowds are thinning out. Another day in the Magic Kingdom is nearing an end. We drift with the crowds over the bridge and along the walk in front of the Crystal Palace and down Main Street and out the gate.
 Yes, time to go home. But, really, we’re not quite ready.”

-Edward Prizer, Orlandoland, November 1973. 

TOMORROW! 

After a long, arduous, but first successful term of graduate school, a jaunt to Walt Disney World is in order. My first trip back after visiting Disneyland, the next few days should be interesting to see how my perspectives and expectations have changed for my “home” resort. Follow along on Twitter and Instagram, if you are so inclined. 

 ”And still we keep going back, after all this time, when anyone would think that the charisma should have been worn down to the bones… all the sights seen, all the surprises exhausted, all the thrills quenched. Perhaps somewhere down inside there’s a stubborn streak of childlike wonder that won’t let go after the onslaught of 50 years.

So there we were, on a Sunday afternoon, driving again out to Walt Disney World for some more. After all this time, there was still that inexplicable pull that kept insisting: put it all aside and to hell with all the stuff you ought to be doing. Forget it. The Magic Kingdom is just down the road.

Surely, I think, it’s like old songs now, that are never too old and faded to listen to again. Or old wine that is even better each time revisited. 

 We ride down Main Street in the horse-drawn street car, plodding slow, with the gaiety and celebration all around us. At the castle, we have to choose - so little time - and we choose first the submarine. Although the lines are long, the journey 20,000 leagues under the sea is as much an adventure as ever. As soon as we surface, we’re ready to head over to the Circle-Vision theater. Magic again. For through the miracle of cinema we soar across the face of America and see and experience the places that would otherwise have taken a lifetime to encompass. 

 There is a pause for coffee in Fantasyland, and then on across Liberty Square to Frontierland. Guns crackle in the shooting gallery. A trio strums bluegrass music in front of the old saloon. Some might call it corn. To us, it is still adventure. And because Artice has an enduring love affair with the bears, we work our way up to Country Bear Jamboree. By now, these zany animals have become old friends. Even though we know each song and scene almost by heart, we still get carried away and sit there clapping and stomping like any old tobacco-chewing hillbillies.

 Back outside again, we find the Magic Kingdom wrapped in twilight. The myriad lights are blazing, and it is yet another world. We stop for a glass of orange juice in Adventureland and listen for a while to the steel drum band playing Calypso in the square.

 Closing time is near. The crowds are thinning out. Another day in the Magic Kingdom is nearing an end. We drift with the crowds over the bridge and along the walk in front of the Crystal Palace and down Main Street and out the gate.

 Yes, time to go home. But, really, we’re not quite ready.”

-Edward Prizer, Orlandoland, November 1973. 

In celebration of Walt DIsney World’s Pirates of the Caribbean celebrating its 40th anniversary today, here’s a tribute to its history that I wrote, last year. Happy 40th! 

epcotexplorer:

39 Years of the Caribbean - Dead Attractions Tell No Tales

On this day in 1973, Walt Disney World opened up her version of Pirates of the Caribbean amidst an interesting and fateful set of circumstances. 

Striving in 1971 to open a theme park and a resort very much unique and removed from the original Disneyland, the Magic Kingdom didn’t plan on building a Florida version of the popular California attraction. Instead, attention was diverted to creating experiences unique to the Vacation Kingdom. Among these were the Mickey Mouse Review, aesthetically unique versions of the Haunted Mansion, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, and plans to further expand the Magic Kingdom. These plans would fundamentally alter the Magic Kingdom’s similarities to Disneyland, but would also change dramatically, surprisingly, in response to fan desires. 

When Pirates of the Caribbean premiered in Disneyland in 1967, it was a darling of the press, and widely seen as one of the last great attractions that Walt Disney had a personal influence on. With this in mind, guests in Florida expected to see WED’s efforts replicated in the new resort. Disney had other plans. 

Disney, fearing that Florida was too close to the actual Caribbean to be able to recreate a thematic version of that associated culture, set their sights on a western themed attraction. Marc Davis was tasked with dreaming up the Western River Expedition, a variation on the theme of Pirates' modus operandi. The ride would have been massive, taking up the western corner of the Magic Kingdom, and housed in a show building adorned with rock work, and a roller coaster. At the end of all this, only the roller coaster would reach fruition and become Big Thunder Mountain Railroad under the direction of Tony Baxter. 

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But Marc Davis’ Western River Expedition was set to be Florida’s version of Pirates of the Caribbean. An expansive journey down a flume, guests would have seen cowboys and Native Americans, landscapes and animals. All of these tableaux would have been populated by audio animatronics, reflecting Disney’s desire to recreate the experience driven ride of Pirates, while shifting the thematic intent of the ride. 

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Sadly, this would all be lost, as visitors to the Vacation Kingdom expected to see Pirates. Facing a massive budget crisis, and strong desire to expand the Magic Kingdom’s guest capacity in some way, Disney executives (namely, Dick Nunis) decided to postpone the Western River Expedition and construct Pirates of the Caribbean. Marc Davis, although bothered that his new concept was slowly being ignored, at least took solace in the fact that Pirates, an attraction he had a great influence on for Disneyland, would be recreated, and with new attention to problems that the original had with continuity.

Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean is a meandering epic through time and far flung environments. It was a hope that WDW’s version would strengthen the experience’s cogency in narrative. These changes were deemed too costly to make… and the Florida version of Pirates ended up losing one third of the Disneyland experience. 

However, Florida did end up with one large fix for her version of the Caribbean romp, the environment she exists in. Boasting an extension of Adventureland, Caribbean Plaza was created to be the counterpoint to New Orleans Square, which houses Disneyland’s Pirates. Caribbean Plaza placed Pirates of the Caribbean in massive Spanish Castillo, in support of the ride’s cultural niche. The queue to the ride was designed by Davis to fully improve the mood and experience leading up to Pirates, something the Disneyland original lacked. A series of corridors were designed to wend through the fort, offer detailed examples of placemaking, and support the idea and time period surroundings that beset when pirates plundered the Spanish Main. Sound clips and music heightened the experience, adding a subtext of narrative; Spanish soldiers warned of attacking marauders and a town in peril. The Castillo itself is surrounded by the small village of shoppes and eateries, as mentioned in the ride, and Disney World suddenly was given a unique environment and area of the Magic Kingdom. Rounding out Adventureland, Caribbean Plaza, was a fully encapsulated version of Pirates of the Caribbean. Although the ride itself is watered down to the most iconic and necessary moments of the original, Caribbean Plaza provides a unique backdrop that purports the experience and guiding thematic emotion of the ride. 

So, on December 15th, 1973, Walt Disney World opened her version of Pirates of the Caribbean to much fanfare, while fundamentally altering the projected plans for the new park. Pirates had plundered the resort’s budget, and any funds left were sent to furthering the capacity of the other side of the park: Tomorrowland. Building on the need for the thrill ride, the one originally planned to be part of the Western River Expedition, Space Mountain, a long conceptualized addition of the Florida property, was given approval for funding. When Tomorrowland was finally completed in 1975 (With the Carousel of Progress, the WEDway, and the Astro Jets) and focus settled once again on Frontierland. By this time, Tony Baxter had built Big Thunder Mountain in Disneyland, without the Western River Expedition to accompany it. Walt Disney World would receive a facsimile of the ride, in an effort to save funds for other upcoming projects.

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And thus, one could label this as a sad story in the annals of Disney’s history, especially when considering the loss of a grand concept for Frontierland. But, on this, the anniversary of Caribbean Plaza and WDW’s Pirates of the Caribbean, I would like to offer a unique perspective. Walt Disney World DID get something unique and consequential out of the entire debacle. Caribbean Plaza is filled with the quality, details, charm, and grit that most of us appreciate in Disney’s parks. It is a thematic statement, totally Disney World’s own. Pirates and Caribbean Plaza speaks to the efforts of Marc Davis, a legend of WED, and the subtle brand of happenstance and history surrounding Disney’s Florida kingdom. With that in mind, the Florida version of Pirates’ shortcomings are far outshone by the quality and vision of the project. 

 

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47 years ago, today, we lost a dreamer, a doer, and a visionary. 
“He was a happy accident, one of the happiest this century has experienced. And judging by the way it’s behaving, in spite of all Disney tried to tell it about laughter, love, children, puppies, and sunrises, the century hardly deserved him.”
- Eric Severeid 

47 years ago, today, we lost a dreamer, a doer, and a visionary. 

“He was a happy accident, one of the happiest this century has experienced. And judging by the way it’s behaving, in spite of all Disney tried to tell it about laughter, love, children, puppies, and sunrises, the century hardly deserved him.”

- Eric Severeid