Thursday, May 31, 2012

Out of the Blue

lue is statistically the most popular color in the spectrum. A deeper understanding of this account is the topic of a whole other discussion, so I’ll try to stay on target. I will say, for the record, that my personal favorite color is orange and very much not blue. I’ve read that color preference and personality types are inversely related, which corroborates this preface: I’m aware that my opinion tends to be in the minority.

A great deal of study has gone into the psychology of colors. Blue is known as the calm color. It’s associated with relaxation and often used in art and design for a soothing effect. Some cities like Tokyo and Glasgow have even experimented with soft blue lighting at night in an attempt to reduce crime. However, certain excess amounts and dark shades can also stimulate feelings of coldness and depression.

As someone who is not the biggest fan of the color blue, I say with as much objectivity as I can that the Disney Company seems to be a bit infatuated with it. They’ve got blue coming out the wazoo. I could nitpick any number of things like their former movie logo, or almost every single one of their DVD spines… (The Disney movie collection on my shelf looks like an aquarium tank.) A particular head-scratcher is the blue-zation of Cinderella’s dress. This has frustrated me for years, and I’m astounded at the almost conspiracy-like execution of covering up any evidence that her dress was actually SILVER. It was described as “gold and silver” in the original Charles Perrault novel, appears as white or silver in Mary Blair’s concept art, and remained a shimmering silver in the 1950 animated film. Yet every piece of merchandise and costumed character since who-knows-when has her in a very blue dress. Even a tailored screenshot on the back of the DVD box shows her sporting an inexplicably blue gown. Since I swore to stay focused, let’s just note that for now and move forward. I promise you though, this will not be the last you’ll hear from me on the Cinderella blues.

Hold on to your glass slippers for this: She's not blonde either.

 “it’s a small world” has a very devout fan base, even after 45+ years of praying for world peace. There’s no questioning the emotion this attraction still rallies, given the reaction to the 2009 makeover. Just a few years ago, whether or not you supported the Disney movie character cameos, rainforest reduction, and new “Mary Blair” “America” “scene” (I didn’t.), you couldn’t argue that the people still treasured these little singing children of the world. Even relatives of Mary Blair spoke up in protest, asking the Disney Company to not tarnish the attraction’s original messages of peace and unity. Tying in color influences, I often read that the façade and final show scene are white to symbolize purity, as children were chosen to represent innocence. I wonder then, how fans and family reacted to the blue-ening of the façade circa 1980..? I especially wish there were blogs and chat rooms available when it became an exhibition of pastels. (But hey, who didn’t have highlights in the 90’s?)

 Recently, we were given our first look at Matterhorn’s new night time lighting. In fact, it was hard to miss from across the park.


I’m not sure what the logical reasoning is for this choice of lighting. (Or should I call it “lightning”?) Either the plutonium usage of our time traveling caused a radioactive meltdown in the mountain (we did visit the 1959 bobsled run back in January, after all…) or the mystery of the abominable snowman’s existence is being explained through the revelation that Matterhorn is, in fact, from another planet. This sort of science fictionery may have flown back in the days when Matterhorn was billed under Tomorrowland, but most of us have accepted its life choice as a Fantasyland attraction decades ago and have since moved on. Perhaps the role-reversal was influenced by its painfully cartoony and un-Tomorrowlandish nautical neighbor.

We shouldn’t be surprised, as years of haphazard management and heedless aesthetic choices have left parts of the park – moreover, the park itself – with a major identity crisis.

But – as much as I tried not to – I digress.

So the falls are glowing blue. So what, right? “I think it’s pretty,” one might say. Perhaps it is, but perhaps it’s just another shiny thing to make us go “Ooh… Ahh…” Another cheap, er… cost-efficient trick aimed at the lowest common denominator to satisfy our need to simply see something new. All the while, disregarding any clear definition of what Matterhorn is or what the attraction is about. Not to mention the money and effort that was just put into giving the mountain a (fantastic) more realistic paint job. I will admit to some further bias here... Matterhorn has always been one of my favorites. Even before I ever rode the bobsleds, one of my favorite things was to pass through via Skyway and marvel at its majesty. Its sounds and smells were so perfectly immersive, and that creature inside dared me to make eye contact with him (though I never would). I was also fascinated with its maze of winding tubular track which begged to be deciphered. So you see it is with great respect for Mr. Disney’s masterpiece of a thrill ride that I choke at seeing it turned into a rave party by night. Perhaps Al Lutz was right about MatterHORNica after all…

It falls – pun intended – into a Disney trend of showiness without reason. I’m reminded of Madame Leota’s crystal ball, which now soars majestically through the air despite incantation logic, storytelling purpose, or regard for her own personal safety. Disney just has her do it… because they can. It’s new. It’s visually stimulating. And by gum, you’re gonna like it!

I’m reminded of something else – something about this particular lighting effect that just feels a little familiar, but from where…?

Lavender blue, dilly dilly.
Ah yes! All over the place. Talk about a primary color. Looks like Matterhorn’s falls aren’t the first landmark to get the LED treatment lately, and – in a place where trends overstay their welcome – I’m sure there’s plenty of cerulean cellophane to last Disney for years to come.

So why are we being treated to so much blue hum? Ginger once suggested to me that they’ve been subliminally planting Tron into our brains; I’m all for a good conspiracy theory as long as it includes glowing cocktails. Some Disney lighting director might simply have an affinity for this one particular color; perhaps polls have suggested that most guests – as statistics have shown – prefer it as well. In the spirit of Tokyo, we could be subjects of color psychology, slowly and subtly being lulled into a blue haze of serenity. Whatever the case, at least we can rule out the possibility that Disney would ever be persuading us to buy something…

Friday, May 25, 2012

I'm Just Burnin'!

n our latest visit to the park, we were subject to a few new sights. New things to see at Disneyland must always be approached with caution. As we’ve learned the hard way, “newer” does not always equate with “better”, and gazing directly at park changes can be like staring into the burning glare of a solar eclipse (which, by the way, we were also subject to last weekend).

This first sight – or rather, site – was no exception. It took a lot of courage, about 4 hours of consideration, and much egging to persuade me to poke my head over the Carnation Gardens construction wall. What I saw filled me with a fiery rage:

Warning: Viewing my cause eye, heart, and emotional trauma.
There lies the remains of the ideal Disneyland Date-Nite, chopped up and carved out with her innards glistening under the evening sky. Gaggles of bats flocked beside, fitting for this macabre twilight scene.

But with death comes new life. I do not speak of Fantasy Faire, mind you. Over in Tomorrowland, a phoenix has risen and nested above the Starcade. Behold!

Starcade 2nd level + Flynn’s 80’s arcades + Tron in Tomorrowland (once again) = Us doing the NewTron Dance!
 That’s correct, Users! While I can’t say with any certainty, it appears as though Kevin Flynn may be moving his business a bit up north. Who hasn’t fantasized about moving this arcade into Disneyland, really? Tron has a solidified home in the park’s history, so it computes perfect sense. Looks like we’ll be getting our wish and our Starcade in its entirety, so pocket those quarters now!

The glow of Tron’s grid also appears to be going viral over at a former icy-sloped Tomorrowland mountain, but more on that later. Let’s just celebrate now what we can, and dance in loving memory of our favorite bandstand.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Come out to Socialize!

s it just us, or do we sense it becoming delightfully unlivable over here? 

 Oh, perhaps it's because of this amazing 
HAUNTED MANSION ART EXHIBIT coming to our town! 

Click to zoom for information!

And not just any town... Halloween Town. Yes, you read that right. In Mr. Disney's very own Burbank, CA (and the almost-home of Disneyland!) there are two adjacent locations open year-round: one souly dead-icated to costumes, the other specializing in Halloween-only related items for freaks like us... and maybe *YOU*! Oh, my. And at Halloween Town, they are some committed ghouls: this will be their 3rd annual art tribute to The Haunted Mansion! The merging of Disneyland and Halloween simply gives us hot and cold running chills and we very much plan on attending. If you're in the area, we recommend you drag your body front and center. 

In the meanwhile, they're assembling for a swinging wake, and they'll be expecting us. 

We'll see you all a little later... (and with a full review)!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Well, It's About Time

’m often asked how I don’t get bored of going to Disneyland.

In fact, that’s cleaning it up quite a bit; a more accurate statement would describe my constant battle to defend myself from a barrage of cynical chastising, questioning how I could be so warped as to enjoy the same ‘kiddie’ park day-in and day-out, year after year. I could probably write a book, bullet-pointing everything there is to love about visiting, or drag a soapbox under my feet and preach the values of appreciating a good thing as it is while not giving in to our society’s ADD manner of losing interesting in anything that isn’t ‘new’, ‘fresh’, or (my now least-favorite term) ‘relevant’. But… *takes a deeeeep breath*……… In an effort to save on book costs, speech, and time, I simply state, “I don’t get bored of it,” and hope that I’m due the respect of being able to enjoy a hobby (if you will), just like anybody else.

That being said, a few truths are brought to surface when faced with these sorts of questions. There is some truth to repetition wearing out the senses. However, it’s not as though I go to Disneyland every day or even every week. I guarantee this to you – I see much less of Matterhorn’s abominable snowman than many people see of their office supervisor. (…and really, given the choice, which do you think most would prefer?) Which leads to another truth: People are jealous. That’s right, I said it. I go all the time and they don’t get to. Snap!

Sadly, there is another truth – one I don’t often respond with in the company of casual friends, family, or coworkers – one I don’t even like to think about… At the risk of going off on a tangent (there will be plenty of opportunity to rant in the future of this blog), I will point out that the Finding Nemo attraction is nowhere near as fun for me as the original Submarine Voyage through Liquid Space was. I don’t think anyone would prefer dragging themselves through Innoventions over sitting back and watching America Sings or the Carousel of Progress. Certainly, the Skyway was much more fun to ride than staring up at a forsaken loading station from the roped-off base of the hill. The sad truth is that over time, Disneyland is running out of things to be enjoyed. Classic attractions get treated to marketable facelifts with a hit-or-miss success rate, if not completely replaced in favor of Disney’s current fad-of-the-day, (see our previous entry) or simply abandoned. This is, for the record, as objective as I can be in describing the modern state of Mr. Disney’s cherished playground. There I go cleaning up statements once again.

"A" or "B"?

When movie-goers are presented with forgettable films or lackluster remakes, critics can hearken back a more golden age of cinema. Many eclectic types with a wide familiarization of music would sooner turn to the oldies station than MTV. Disneyland by design should theoretically attract sentimental folks with a taste for nostalgia, class, and true Americana. So where do these lost souls turn to when faced with unattractive franchises and tacky souvenir stops thrown up all over their beloved park? I mean, let’s face it – Disneyland is like a former beauty queen with a frightening skin peel and a botched boob job, and we’re now expected to accept these cosmetic changes or be chastised for suggesting the Emporer has no clothes and weird boobs. Grin, nod, and pretend not to notice..? Hey Emperor, you’re naked and standing right in the middle of the Tomorrowland entrance!

Turning to a more glorious past seems to be the best way to relive Disneyland’s golden age. My cohort, Ginger, and I have found a lot of comfort in reading old books, 'Walt Disney's Disneyland' souvenir guides, exploring the internet for photos and trivia, and watching yesteryear features like ‘Disneyland After Dark’ (1962), ‘Disneyland Goes to the World’s Fair’ (1964), or our FAVORITE (and I mean favorite film EVER):

‘People and Places: Disneyland U.S.A.’ (1956) 

To relive the 1980’s Disneyland which we remember from our childhoods is always accompanied with a special kind of warmth, but to experience Mr. Disney’s original Disneyland through these vintage specials has unparalleled magic – a harmonious marriage of retro-charm, innocence, and best of all, an unsullied version of Disneyland hand-crafted and 100% supervised by its own visionary creator. There are so many attractions and shops (“and things,” as Mr. Disney would add) we were personally unable to experience. The further we would envelop ourselves in this history, the more fascinated we would become with its mysteries and unattainable delights, to the point where it just became frustrating! WHY?! Why can’t we ever take a mine train through Nature’s Wonderland? Why can’t we ever eat tuna sandwiches behind the Chicken of the Sea pirate ship?? Why on EARTH were we doomed to never breathe the same air as Mr. Disney himself????? If only we could go back somehow…

Wait a tic. Were we on to something here? Mr. Disney proclaimed that he was not the sentimental type. To a degree this is true, embodied in the original Tomorrowland and showcased in his progressive ideas such as EPCOT (that’s the projected city, NOT the Florida park). He always had one eye looking ahead at the future, but his soft spots for steam trains, American heritage, and especially his home town of Marceline – which we now know as Main Street, U.S.A. – suggest his one foot in the past. Surely the allure we found in Disneyland’s history and heritage was justified with appropriate irony. Neither Ginger nor I can accurately remember who said it first, as stating this rhetorical and inevitable question was simply verbalizing a fancy that had been developing in both of our brains… What if we visited Walt Disney’s Disneyland?

Without even sorting specifics, our like minds envisioned a trip to the park where we would only experience attractions, restaurants, and shops which were birthed from Mr. Disney’s own touch. For one whole day, "Walt Day", there would be no such thing as Toontown and no adventures for Winnie the Pooh. No Splash Mountain or Star Tours. There would only be original rides through the Jungle River and classic spins in a Mad Tea Party. We would not see Pixie Hollow or abandoned loading stations, but a glorious House of the Future and a thriving line of Skyway buckets. Sure, it would take some voluntary suspension of reality, but Mr. Disney had taught us well..! In the absence of any verbal coordination, we had even dressed in 60’s-style garments, paying homage to the era.

We were greeted in Town Square by a double-decker omnibus, which – I don’t know about you – NEVER happens to us! It was the kind of welcoming we had only ever heard about. We lunched at the Golden Horseshoe Saloon while taking in a show (starring Betty Taylor and Wally Boag for all you know), sailed aboard the proud Sailing Ship Columbia, ran through the former Swiss Family Treehouse, paying extra special attention to the leftover Robinson relics and tapping our toes to the Swisskapolka. We fished off of Tom Sawyer’s Island then hopped aboard a canoe. Visiting an old dock in Fantasyland, I swear we watched little Motor Boats take off for a Cruise around the bend, and nobody could tell us otherwise. We hit as many classics as we could, including the Disneyland Railroad, King Arthur Carousel, Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room, and soaked in some good ol’ fashioned patriotism care of Mr. Lincoln himself. The evening was perfectly capped with a quick serenade at Snow White’s Wishing Well.

Now our friends have new questions for us, such as, “What is there left to do from Walt’s era?” A simple inquiry, because as it turns out… LOTS! Yes, there has been a lot of superficial mangling, but rest assured that Mr. Disney’s park is still in there, buried at the core. In fact, there wasn’t enough time to see it all! The Monorail, Peter Pan's Flight… some of these standards had to be left behind for another day. His superior talent and standards for quality may be masked – in certain places more than others – but his spirit still haunts the halls of Disneyland, U.S.A.; it just takes a keen eye and perservering faith to spot it sometimes.

We were tickled by the success of our time-traveling visit, so much as to say it may have been our favorite excursion to date! We were not only able to soak in that vintage charm we had so fervently sought after, but also honed in on something unique. We discovered a new, original way to experience something familiar and habitual. I now have a more satisfying response when asked how I don’t get bored of the park. Much to my surprise, my tale not only dispels skepticism, but also seems to intrigue both fans and critics of Disneyland.

This won’t be the last time we travel back. There are different years eras, various versions of attractions, lands, and shops… a sundry of findings we’re more than happy to bring back and share with you here. Given the overwhelming history waiting to be uncovered, we can’t wait to time warp again… and that’s a statement I don’t need to clean up one bit.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Goodnight Sweetheart: An Addendum

"Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world."
– Walter Elias Disney 

his quote is the one - and often, only - argument people believe they have in their pocket when the Disney company tinkers with Mr. Disney's Disneyland. For those that believe Mr. Disney was referring directly to every move the future Disney company will make in removing something ‘old’ and replacing it with something ‘new’ within Disneyland, I can only hope they become a lot more educated on the philosophies that Mr. Disney ran his park by. The real truth is, as long as the Disney company’s only motivation is the dangling carrot of the dollar sign, there is no room left for imagination, at all.

 Unfortunately, this lack of imagination has been the problem for quite a while. The proof is in the pudding: there is nothing imaginative about a Prince$$ meet-and-greet. By removing something of historical value and replacing it with something that will help revenue for Disney’s still-going 'Princess' campaign the only people that are losing are the guests (have you noticed that Cast Members all over the park are now greeting little girls as ‘Princess’? Yikes...). Sure, plenty of little girls will be meeting a princess and reveling in the joy of being told she is beautiful… but that has been happening inside of the OTHER Fantasy Faire located at the Fantasyland Theater for quite a few years.

Upon proper use of Mr. Disney's quote, like Disneyland, I’m finding that writing for a blog is also something that constantly changes and grows. Because this blog is mostly about taking people on our adventure of re-discovering the history of Disneyland and the ideas of Mr. Disney, I thought it would be great to add a few links to follow my “Goodnight, Sweetheart” post addressing the destruction of Carnation Plaza Gardens. I figured a Wikipedia page would do it some justice, and perhaps somewhere, some like-minded fanatic had a full write-up about it, littered with the love and the research they carefully crafted together, meant to teach myself and everyone else about the Gardens. As it turns out, that wasn’t quite the case. Into Google, plugged in every query I could think of relating to the actual history of Carnation Plaza Gardens. Nothing. Each round, I became more and more creative with my queries but to no avail. However, the results did get were more than I could have asked for. Though I did not learn anything factually new about the Gardens, I did meet a WHOLE lot of people who are a WHOLE lot of broken-hearted about the fate of the stripes we wore proudly. This touched me. So, instead of including links to historical facts that we could all learn about the Gardens (only because there isn’t anything extensive enough to actually learn from, yet), I will include a list of various links to blogs and internet findings about the removal of Carnation Plaza Gardens. An objective list, but all together an example of the impact of the loss Disneyland and its guests have suffered - whether they realize it or not.  

As you can see, I have only enhanced my former blog entry with additions of new and better ideas that help support its effectiveness and then added something necessary but separate at the end of it. This example is most likely what Mr. Disney was referring to when he made his infamous quote. I would also like to emphasize that unlike the Carnation Plaza Gardens, my original blog entry is only a week old and has not been bringing memories and dancing feet to incredible amounts of people for a good 46 years.

And now, finally, to the links. I will be adding to these so if you know of some that should be included, please let me know!