Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Welcome Mat Is Out, Today!

owdy, Stranger!

     It’s happened, again. Eric and I get to experience something we believed was forever lost. Disney has announced their theme park promotion for this term, Limited Time Magic, in which each theme park will have a series of limited time events all though the year. We really believed that it would only take magic to bring back one of the most fabulous staples opening day at Disneyland had to offer: the record-breaking Golden Horseshoe Revue at The Golden Horseshoe Saloon in Frontierland. Well, 'magic' it is, because ‘Limited Time Magic’ is returning the show to Disneyland on January 10th, 2013 and will run through February 4th,  2013!!!! If you are visiting the park during this time I urge - no, BEG -you to grab some food, kick up yer spurs at The Golden Horseshoe (make sure to look up showtimes in your park schedule!) and catch this riveting revue. It was one of Mr. Disney's favorites, so make sure to tell 'em 'Walt' sent ya.

  Purists, be warned, the title of the show is ‘A Salute to The Golden Horseshoe Revue’, so it’s hard to tell what may or may not be included. We might be lucky and experience a tribute in the way Captain EO returned, missing atmosphere, but nothing content-wise. The 30 minute revue has quite a few musical numbers, and each rootin’ tootin’on their own, so I’m hoping nothing is taken from the structure of the actual show. I also hope that whoever they use in place of the late Betty Taylor and Wally Boag not only realize how lucky they are, but fill their fascinators and holsters as best they can. Either way, I've been ready for this show all my life!

  I’m not sure where to place my insatiable gratitude: with former Disneyland President, Matt Ouimet, for his wonderful execution of Disneyland’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, ‘Happiest Homecoming on Earth’ and reminding people that ‘old’ is actually CLASSIC and really cool; the hard work, fun, and enthusiasm that Betty Taylor, Wally Boag, and the entire Golden Horseshoe Revue company put into every show they performed and making the experience unforgettable, despite the 26 years the revue’s curtains have been closed; or to Mr. Disney himself, for giving us the gift of something to remember – to say the very least. I think the real truth is, they all deserve my highest saloon girl kick for my being able to experience a slice of Walt Disney’s Disneyland, once again. But I digress ... afterall, a lady has to mind her P’s and Q’s.

  The Golden Horseshoe Revue, won’t you please come home!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merr-"E" Christmas!

e here at "... But It Wasn't Always That Way!" would like to issue you all one very grand, colorful, musical, charming, and loving Season Greeting!

               Eric, Ginger, and the Fantasyland Ticket Booth

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Once Upon a Melody Time

ear those merry snow bells chime? That’s just this yuletide lullaby from Melody Time. This festive short was brought to us in 1948, care of the incomparable artistic vision of Mary Blair and directed by Hamilton Luske, who directed – among many other Disney classics – our personal favorite documentary: People and Places – Disneyland, U.S.A.! Featured here is also an angelically beautiful tune sung by Frances Langford. I feel this song is sorely overlooked as a holiday classic, but there’s no Wintertime like the present to start requesting it from your local holiday music station…..! So round up your chestnut mares, jingle those merry chimes, and enjoy with your Sweetheart… Once Upon a Wintertime.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

111 Years Young at Heart!

appy Birthday, Mr. Disney!

 We couldn't think of a more suitable honor for this honorable, suited man than by celebrating him through his first and greatest love... Art! (No, not 'Linkletter'.) So join us, please, as we salute Mr. Walter Elias Disney from the bottom of our hearts and the surface of our canvas ('and things')...

A simplistic sketch of an intricate mind, by Eric.

Eric illustrates Walt's gift to US... "That's right, 'Audio Animatronics!'"

Deconstruction with construction paper. Another labor of love by Eric.

And finally, let's wrap up this exaltation with a song, sung by a newer generation offset of the Main Street Melodeers. Send us home, Dapper Dans..!

Best wishes on your most spectacularly special day, Mr. Disney!

Love, Eric and Ginger

Friday, November 30, 2012

Polish & Tarnish

appeared in my mailbox unassuming. As I pulled a large parcel apart from my bills, the silver lettering printed on the envelope glinted before me as it spelled out the words “THANK YOU” and “DISNEYLAND”.  A free gift... for me?? In that moment, and with that word combination, I almost felt as if the white crisp of the thick envelope may just be the clean slate the optimist inside of me was starving for. It wasn’t long before I recognized that the only vacated space here was what they believed my head was full of, and they were right to a degree; as I delved further into this sparkling snare, the look on my face gradually fell to a complete blank. I sighed. It was sweet while it lasted.

This FREE GIFT I speak of turned out to be a propaganda pamphlet, huffing pixie dust, disguised as a “Special Edition Commemorative Book” entitled ‘A Celebration of a Wish Come True’, and clothed in the kind of textured cover that those extra nice art magazines or pricier plastic cell phone cases are coated with. Right away, I recognized that the pamphlet’s size (8 1/2'' x 11 3/4'') and design was comparable to an infamous series of Disneyland souvenir guides, and to any seasoned Disneyland fan, their reputation preceeds them. These guides, first available in 1955 and last truly seen in the late 1990’s, were filled with hand-drawn, park-inspired art, live action photos of real guests enjoying fantastical attractions, explanations of exactly what Disneyland had to offer and were always ended with a teasing taste of what was soon to arrive at Walt Disney’s Disneyland. Initially, Mr. Disney had these guides mailed to residents all throughout the country prior to Disneyland’s Grand Opening. His intentions were to showcase his newest love-labored endeavor to the America he adored and wanted to entertain so much - and perhaps reach homes that didn’t have TVs yet and couldn’t follow ABC’s “Disneyland” TV Show, debuted in the Fall of 1954, hosted by Mr. Disney himself, and heavily featuring documentation of Disneyland's creation process and progress. Upon Disneyland's opening and until his death, Mr. Disney sold the souvenir guides within the park at a price lower than the cost of production (much to the chagrin of the miserly bean-counter) because he wanted every household in America to know about the park and have a copy on their coffee table. In that sense, I can appreciate the marketing homage, here, with this pamphlet– the Disney company has now repaved the Parking Lot (AKA California Adventure) with a significant facelift and wants to make sure everyone runs to the polished parks to see what’s ‘new’ and spend all their money. A nice attempt, but for me, the buck stops here.

Also included was a separate letter from the Disneyland President, himself, Mr. Not Jack Lindquist . Not surprisingly, the letter included with this pamphlet instantly reeked of the manure I am much more accustomed to smelling as opposed to their silver typeface tomfoolery. Written carefully and with utmost simplicity, Mr. Not Jack Lindquist told me how much he appreciated my support over the past [fiscal] year that instead of the fall edition of Backstage Pass (the quarterly one-sheet about park updates that is included with an Annual Passholder membership and delivered via snail mail – or not at all sometimes, depending on who you ask…), I get this COMMEMORATIVE BOOK, INSTEAD! I should have been elated, and like I said, I was indulged for a moment. But after giving this letter a read, and before even cracking my 'book' open, I knew I was about to catch a coach to Pleasure Island and leave feeling like an ass. Uh, thanks for the warning, at least…

... And onto the pamphlet. It has been clear for a long time that the Disney company would like to disown itself and start anew - sans the monetary profit Mr. Disney’s name garnishes the company’s feast pig with, of course. The “nostalgic” charm of the hand-drawn craft (also known as ‘art’ according to history and old-fashioned, unenlightened curmudgeons like myself) is one of the reputations they would seemingly like to break free from. “Computers are the future!”, they perpetuate with their modern portfolio. Given Tomorrowland’s stagnant, catastrophic state of “cleanup in Aisle 6!”, it’s easy to see that the future is very important to them. In non-sardonic dialect, I mean to say that the pamphlet I received in my mailbox did not spend much time in the Art Department (maybe because no one was there). Meanwhile, over in the CG department, it sure had quite an adventure in Photoshopland! Did you know that Sleeping Beauty Castle is now located in the center of the Hub and surrounded by Walnut trees in place of the Partners statue or that the ‘it’s a small world’ Clock Tower is the color blue again, a la the 1980’s? Or that they’ve relocated the ‘Critter Country’ sign to the other side of Splash Mountain? Yeah, me neither. Before this pamphlet got to the CG department, though, it needed images to trick-out. In rolls the Photography, and here is where that modern Disney propaganda kicked in with a flash.

It’s safe to say that most to all of the pamphlet’s pictures are carefully staged, or at least loosely set up. The original souvenir guides did have some shots that appear set up, but they are far beween and quite a bit less overt about it. Many of the pamphlets photos are so saccharine that you can even hear the photographers in your head as they remind their subjects of their blocking or how to react. That’s a horrible thought to give readers - they don’t need to feel like someone has to egg Guests on to have a good time at DISNEYLAND, and besides, Disneyland is one of the best places to capture candid, happy moments. Then, there are the not-so-hidden ‘subliminal’ messages the pictures are holding. The little girls pictured are decked out with their glitter, tiaras and ‘Princess’ garb, the little boys are mini Padawans, practically every child photographed is wearing some type of Disney character tee and the images captured are almost all centralized around children because Disneyland has somehow become only ‘for kids’. Disney has even gone as far as placing a ‘Spiderman’ temporary tattoo on one little boy’s forearm as he tries his luck with Fantasyland’s currently-inactive ‘Sword In The Stone’ show prop. There are also no photos of Disneyland at night, anywhere – not even a few fireworks – and I know photography has repaired itself of that little hiccup since the 1960’s. When Cast Members appear in the pamphlet, they are strategically placed to balance pictures out (such as placing the hefty one in the center, which is a recurring theme in here) appearing mannequin-esque while posing in their streamlined costumes and wearing plastic smiles. It seems only the musicians have managed to eek by with their integrity. And by the time I found the last page of my pamphlet (with no promises of what was yet to come either!) I certainly felt like I had been robbed of my own integrity too.

 Call it a mourning phase, but the loss of my integrity goes in hand with why I’m parading around on a rant about this pamphlet in the first place: it is just an advertisement geared towards people who have either never been to Disneyland before or for the average Guest who visits a handful of times in their lives. Perhaps if it were placed in the hands of the appropriate people, the CG ‘enhancements’, the lack of art or the product placement wouldn't be as jarring to them - if at all. However, this was placed in MY mailbox simply because I am one of many Annual Passholders… and the last kind of people Disneyland should have sent it to. I find it incredibly insulting that Disney thinks I would prefer this “A Celebration of a Wish Come True” ad-book-hogwash over my HALLOWEEN edition of Backstage Pass. I visit the park on a regular basis (like Passholders usually do…)  and I was then left out of any seasonal information Disneyland had to offer during my very favorite time of year. Instead, I got a dumbed-down commerical for something I already have access to. To add insult to injury, I soon came to find that this pamphlet was sent to select non-Passholder households as well. Is this really the consideration I get after I dish out 33% more in renewal fees this year? If Disneyland wants to celebrate this "5 year expansion project" with their fans, they should have sent Passholders something a Disneyland fan would care about and make use of. A commemorative button like they used to constantly use for promotions or another type of inexpensive collectible would suffice. Passholders don’t get too many perks and the ones we do get are beginning to outweigh the increasing price we pay each year, so finding something like one of those babies in my mailbox would be amazing and refreshing. And honestly, if they had given me the courtesy of sending this pamphlet in addition to my Backstage Pass, I really wouldn't have any reason to be upset. My bottom line is, I love being an Annual Passholder, but I’m so tired of feeling continually ripped off.

 In the end, my travels as a Disneyland Optimist continue, though at a faltering pace. After observing the way Disney has misconstrued Cinderella’s silver dress, I should have known beforehand that the enticing silver typeface glittering in my mailbox would only but tarnish and make me turn blue.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Lunar Lullaby

here's a full moon in the sky tonight
It's not an everyday event
So learn this ditty before twilight
And howl at your heart's content.


          In the 80's we had Duck Tales
          On TV and our Nintendos
          This level made me wonder
          What goes on up in the cosmos.


          Thanks for bearing with my poetry
          Which I promise will all be over soon
          And thank you for enjoying
          This humble dedication to our moon!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Today, America Sings!

veryone's favorite instructional duck is doing it, and you should, too!  Don't let your new U.S. President greet you with a 'fine how-do-you-do":  if you're in the U.S., make sure to take your tail to the voting polls and say what you have to say! VOTE and make America sing! Happy Election Day! Also, who else wishes they could fill out their ballot in Disneyland's City Hall?!

(And a special thanks to our favorite blot, Bryan, for sharing this video!)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

13 Real Chills


My first memory of visiting the Tiki Room on one enchanted afternoon, everything was going so well. The birdies had their fling, we heard the flowers sing…. and then… then it all went very, very wrong. The gods that were perched high up the walls seemed to pose no threat at first. Despite their gleaming eyes and menacing grins, they were at least stationary and motionless. Yet with a sudden, theatrical pummeling of the drums, they exploded with life. Pounding away at their instruments at about the same rate as my heart beat, bobbing their heads back and forth; this was some serious high drama that I did NOT sign up for. Images of luau girls and sandy shores accented by a harmonious steel guitar were slashed instantaneously as ancient ghosts and bubbling volcanoes took their place in my mind. Oh. And then a crashing thunderstorm causes a blackout. Man, the 60’s really were turbulent.


Whether we were departing from glittering Fantasyland or taking off from kinetic Tomorrowland, there was one ominous mountain with an infamous – and VERY HUNGRY – resident that awaited our passing while riding The Skyway. And by meatballs, if we didn’t duck down in that little slow moving Skybucket and completely take cover while we passed through under his watch, the horrid abominable snowman would spot us instantly and lunge forward in an attempt to hang off of the side our your Skybucket. He would then reach inside with a furry claw to scoop us up by the lederhosen and eat us alive in front of everyone just to hear our bloodcurdling screams and watch our loved ones cry.  Oh yes, as children Eric and I were well versed in the roars of the Yeti, as they forewarned of this terror, and we learned at an early age to not only love the Skyway, but to respect the power of the Yeti. After the nightmares, of course. With an introduction like that, it took us each many years to actually ride the Matterhorn Bobsleds.  But why not see for yourself?


My first memory of Pirates of the Caribbean is a loud, violent blast coming out of a cannon. That pretty much sums up the relationship between my childhood and this attraction. Prior to ever sailing with this motley crue, my introduction to them was a Disney Sing-A-Long in which the explosives dangling over your head at the finale are actually shot at and explode over an unlucky group of Disneyland guests. My inherit fear of guns aside, my larger worry was always that I was going to be the next victim of overhead ‘explosivo’. Needless to say, I didn’t embark on the Caribbean in my youth very often.

I was somehow born with a deep respect for death and the things that came before me. I believe it is at the root of most of my childhood (and adulthood) fears. Upon my first Disneyland visit, Pirates of the Caribbean knew how to tap into this fear by putting me into the same cavern as the steering Skeleton Ghost in Dead Man’s Grotto. I knew there was nothing more mysteriously spooky about this bony spector and I paid close attention to my new forever foe as I floated on by. This was the origin of how I discovered safety on the left side of my ride vehicle. As Pirates of the Caribbean is a perfect adventure of traveling back in time, it managed to stay my very favorite Disneyland attraction for most of my life, regardless of my steering skeleton fear. And in more recent times I’ve even been brave enough to give him an approving chin-nod for his new rain effect installment. Now THAT’S love.

 When I was young, I hadn’t quite grasped the concept of Disneyland attractions being guided by tracks. The Imagineers had done an excellent job at illusions and emersion, accompanied by my overactive imagination. If there was a steering wheel, for all I knew our lives were dependent on my steering. There was a long period in my childhood where I avoided this attraction. I’d be damned (to hell) if I put my dad’s life and my own in jeopardy again after almost careening into a river and head first into a locomotive. In fact, by the time I was older all I could remember about the attraction was a train coming right at us. Blimey.

All I have to say is that as a child, a suit of armor almost fell on me and I was then sent to Hell by a demonic judge, where I was taunted by tiny demons.  And it was hot there too. Very hot. One excellent example of how Fantasyland is not just meant for kids.

Sure, all was silly and fun when you gave the Country Bears a sit down and listened to their Vacation Hoedown. Fun, that is, until the curtain on the main stage was drawn mid-show and revealed a moonless night sky instead of the cheery daytime setting that was there previously. I’m not sure if it was the Bears' phenomenal performance and lyrical content of the song ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’, the strong and almost haunting harmonization of vocals or the thunder and lightening that concerned me the most. What I can say for sure though, is that during this scene in particular I felt exactly like the scared little cub scout that sat on stage with them during this performance and that someone needed to help him. Just not me. 

Two words. 
To the Disneyland marketing team of 1989, I still hate you.

I don’t enjoy being terrorized by water and after dealing with the sad Cub Scout bear from the Country Bear Vacation Hoedown, I learned that sad-faced audio animatronics break my heart. The final scene before Splash Mountain’s drop encompasses all of these elements and I wear it like a “wet blanket”, so to speak. Also, due to my distaste of being splashed, it is because of this very ride that the sound of bees makes me extremely uneasy. It is still a bit of a struggle to get me on this ride and I bet if I had ever had the chance to take a seat for the magic of ‘America Sings’, convincing me would be almost impossible.

When asked to name one thing I fear most, I usually say hippos. They’re enormous, slimy-looking, big-sharp-fanged beasts, and yet somehow beloved by most of the world. Whoever does PR for these creatures has done a fantastic job of tricking the mainstream into believing these monsters are sweet and cuddly.  BE INFORMED! Hippos are the deadliest African animals with a higher murder rate than crocs, lions, and bears… Oh my! To this day, if you see me on the Jungle Cruise going through the hippo pool, I’m probably tensed up, frozen in the center of the boat… if not, I’m likely zoned out playing that soothing Jungle Cruise boathouse 1930’s jazz in my head and thinking of happier times, like when we were only passing by harmless gun-toting gorillas. Make no mistake about it, I’m not afraid of the hippo pool because I don’t like hippos. I hate hippos because of the Jungle Cruise hippo pool. Not only did turning that back corner mean encountering these huge creeps with their bubbles and wiggles and gaping jaws, this also meant dealing with another antagonist of mine: guns. Yes, to add insult to injury, a gun fires in this scene. Twice. Not only did little 6-year old me have to curl his body into a ball, he had to cover his ears too. For the record though, I will defend keeping the guns on the Cruise ‘til my dying die! That day most likely being my next trip to Africa.

The PeopleMover – may it rest in peace – was one of my favorite things to ride in the park. I don’t think I ever visited Disneyland from my birth until summer of ’97 that I didn’t embark on the PeopleMover. On many occasions, it was the first thing we ran to. However, there was one little problem with riding PeopleMover, just one little issue. It wasn’t the swiveling Storm Trooper with an attitude. It wasn’t the pitch black preview of Space Mountain. It was the Tron tunnel. It was loud, psychedelic, very successfully had you believing you were traveling at high speeds, and confusing as heck since I had never seen or heard of “Tron” as a kid. It was years before I realized this disorienting Game Grid was based on a movie. 5 years old was just way too young for me to experience my first drug trip.


If you turn to the right, you might accidentally fall off. Wait, you’re ok. Then you turn to the left and you might accidentally fall off again. And you alternate like this while you descend down some slippery leaves for a minute or two and then you’re safe. Sometimes I wonder if maybe it’s because I am a short person that I love being on the ground so much and then I remember childhood trauma like being on the outside tracks of this ride. If it weren’t for seeing those surprise caterpillar shoes everytime that sit on top of the mushroom, my memories would be a lot more troubled. And yet, I would give most anything to see these tracks in their original form once again. Ah, the way Disneyland has versed me in the art of love/hate!

Dad (looking at Storybook Land): “How about we go on that?”
Me (age 2-12, seeing boats enter an angry whale’s gaping mouth): “NO.”

Just for the record, I couldn’t ever say or think anything negative about this incredible Disneyland monument and am nothing but enamored with my old, dear friend Monstro.

The Haunted Mansion seems like a pretty obvious choice for childhood scares, but I always took delight in the macabre mischief of this Louisiana residency. While the more “genuine” or intentional scares of the manor may have tickled my fancy, my personal phobias and unshackled imagination never let me out the Exit sweat-free. The threat of being trapped in a room with “no windows and no doors” did not bode well for a young, impressionable first-timer prone to claustrophobia. I always sympathized with the Caretaker and Bride (not realizing she herself was dead… I mean, she used to scream!) and wanted so desperately to aid in their escape. Speaking of escape, when I was told a ghost would follow me home… I really wanted to believe that it wasn’t true. I really, really tried to tell myself that it was made-up. Nevertheless, without fail, I consistently found myself staring at the empty backseat of the car every ride home. One night I even shut the door behind me as fast as I could back at the house!
In my opinion, the left side of every DOOMbuggy should be worn thin by now from people scooting as far as they could to get away from that TERRIFYING AND HORRENDOUS red-eyed, and then green-faced, bride b**ch that used to live in the attic. And I do mean every run-on word of that.

 It’s funny how selective my imagination could be when I was younger. I had no doubt that Mission to Mars was really taking us up into space. I wondered how they dried the exterior of the Enchanted Tiki Room so quickly after every rainstorm. And yet, I always knew that there was a real person under every Mickey Mouse mask. I somehow managed to not be duped into believing that those characters walking around the park were anything but people in costumes. So if any of them put their arms around me, it creeped me out to no end. (I was never a fan of mall Santas or Easter Bunnies either.) They were just masked strangers, akin to Jason or Michael Meyers. I didn’t know who they were, or what they were capable of. To this day I think that posing for a picture with these silent, overly-dressed actors is one of the most socially awkward situations imaginable.

Suspended in a tangled chaos of wires and cables, almost as if disembodied, the Supreme Leader undoubtedly has the “gift” of making the 5-year-old versions of Eric and me sit still in our seats while watching Tomorrowland’s Captain EO. When faced with her royal heinousness and her notable cuspidated fingers, the only life-saving tactic any desperate kids like us could do was nervously peek from beneath our 3D glasses while paralyzed in fear just to remind ourselves that she is only a screen projection…. for now.  We almost forgot that we would do this until EO was reopened in 2010 and we noticed the kids in this new generation doing it too. That hissing, shrilling voice, those terrible wide eyes, that nasty egocentric temperament, and most importantly… THOSE CLAWS that reach out to shish kebab your very soul would surely leave anyone unsettled upon first (and perhaps last!) encounter. 

(what scared YOU?)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Haunted House of Mouse

alloween has a long, cold running history in our culture. For centuries – in one ghastly form or another – spooks and ghouls have been plaguing us this time of year, creeping into our neighborhoods, minds, and homes. It’s the time of year when the supernatural are able to frolic into our dimension, wriggling and grooving to the sweet sounds of our screams. Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion is one the ultimate culminations of all macabre aspects of this gothic holiday… but 40 years before this creepy old crypt rose into our world, Mickey Mouse discovered a haunted home of his own. Here, the inhabitants (including a cameo appearance by the stars of The Skeleton Dance, released that same year) dare to dance on Mickey’s would-be grave, forcing him to play spirited sonnets on the piano. Let’s join Mickey now in his historic first encounter with the undead…