Thursday, September 12, 2013

Polynesian Concierge

    
      The Polynesian's concierge lounge had been located at the Great Ceremonial House in the King Kamehameha room since it's inception in the early 1990's.  This was the first Disney resort to offer concierge services to it's guests.  The room was fairly small, and included a few desks with cast members there to make dinner reservations and cater to the guests needs.  There were a couple couches and chairs to rest your tired feet.  The food options were minimal with pastries and coffees and such during the morning, cookies as well as various sweets and beverages available throughout the day.  This service was available to all the Lagoon view rooms at the resort. The King Kamehameha lounge does not exist anymore as it was swallowed up by the sprawling Boutiki gift shop.


    In July of 1994 the concierge lounge was relocated to the Tonga (now called Hawaii) longhouse, which required major modifications to the building.   The west end of the building was remodeled to include a three level "wing" with desks on the lower level for guest services.

  
    A second level that housed the kitchen area and main seating area as well as a big screen tv,  before big screens were the norm.  I watched many a Super Bowls here as that was the time of year that we would head down.  My family would usually stay in some other longhouse and my grandfather would somehow get us access every time we went.  A smooth talking son of a gun.

I swear there used to be a bigger tv than this
   The third level was a more quaint area that included a seating area with books to read and a couple of tables with checker games set up that used shells as chips.


     This area also had a single men's and women's bathroom located upstairs, which was very useful when you had a family of five and only one bathroom in the room.

     The food options were vast throughout the day.  Breakfast included many pastries, muffins, breads,  cold cereals, fruits, juices, and coffees.  Lunch was more snack like options and small sandwiches.  And for dinner they expanded to include many different options that varied day to day.  Sometimes there was sushi other times there was chicken wings.  Foods that were pretty filling and you could substitute for a meal if need be.





      In the evening there were also adult beverage options for a little night cap.  Or come down and have a drink before you head out for the night.  Maybe off to Pleasure Island to celebrate the New Year?  Options included beer, wine, and various liquors.

Dick, the famous personality of many years.On the left.




    I feel like the concierge experience used to be an added bonus to your stay at a nice resort.  Now it seems like people are trying to "get their monies worth" when it comes to this offering, which has lead to more of a cafeteria experience than a "lounge" experience. There have been many changes to this area since these pictures were taken, and I hope to document them on my upcoming trip for reference.  Disney has added more table seating and removed the couches to allow for more families to eat their breakfast and get to the parks and spend more money.  The food offerings seem comprable to what they used to be, but the atmosphere is definitely lacking compared back in the late '90's when I actually used to hang out here and watch old Donald Duck shorts.  Or the great programming that used to be shown on the Disney Channel.  I am glad I got to enjoy these offerings when it was in its prime.    Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I hope to get a lot more of my WDW info and pics out to the masses soon. 


 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Thunder in Paradise Filming at Grand Floridian

     About a year ago I posted some pictures from the set for Thunder in Paradise located at the Grand Floridian.  It has been by far the most visited post that I have written so far.  This was a great time to be in Walt Disney World. Back when The MGM Studios actually had filming taking place, and all the tours were really detailed and incredibly interesting.  As well as being able to see things that were completely relevant and you might see on television or in the theater one day. That being, I think all of you who enjoyed my picture will thoroughly enjoy this as well. This is a quick companion post with some video that was taken when we visited the set while staying at the Polynesian.  Enjoy!


Sunday, February 17, 2013

IllumiNations


   On January 30 of 2013 Illuminations celebrated its 25th anniversary. So I decided what better time than now to share some pictures that I have of this fantastic nighttime show.  The original Illuminations show debuted on January 30 of 1988 as an upgrade to the previous shows; A New World Fantasy and Laserphonic Fantasy.  There was also a show that took place before any of these shows debuted called Carnival de Lumiere. This show was only able to be viewed between the Mexican and Canadian pavilions due to the fact that it displayed film on rear projected screens along with fountains and music.
   Illuminations utilized some of the same technologies that were developed for the previous shows, including the use of non-linear laser images on water droplet screens as well as the water fountain barges and Pichel lights.  These Pichel lights are programmable search lights that are able to make swift precise movements, which could easily be timed to music.
   The audio that was arranged within the shows was produced and arranged by Don Dorsey, a designer and director of many fireworks shows for Disney. The difference between the previous shows and Illuminations was that the previous iterations utilized synthesized tracks while Illuminations used the original orchestral tracks.  Synthesized arrangements were used in many of the entertainment offerings up until this point; including Electrical Water Pageant and the Main Street Electrical Parade.
    Illuminations was originally sponsored by General Electric, which resulted in many lighting upgrades to the pavilions around world showcase Lagoon. New dual level edge lighting which provided a flashing effect, upgraded laser installations at the pavilions, as well as animated lighting imagery on top of the pavilions. These animated images were moved into place after darkness fell onto the park. Some of these animated scenes included a dragon on top of the China Pavilion, a windmill and the Moulin Rouge sign on top of the France pavilion, and a cuckoo clock on top of Germany.
    One of the more striking features of the lighting upgrades on the pavilions was the projection mapping techniques that were utilized to change the appearance of the pavilion buildings themselves. This technology just recently has been utilized in the pre-shows to Wishes Nighttime Spectacular. As well as a show that takes place on the It's a Small World's facade at Disneyland.
Germany projection mapping
    It is pretty amazing that this technology existed over 20 years ago, even though somewhat crude compared to today's standards.  It is now just being realized again for its entertainment value. Some examples of this in Illuminations include the changing of the American Adventure façade into the capital building as well as Germany's façade being enhanced by lighted additional trim and color combinations.
    Illuminations featured four main fountain barges that housed most of the effects used within the show as well as a fifth main laser barge in the center of the lagoon. The four barges that surrounded the laser barge included the mists screens, the air launch systems for the fireworks, and the fountains. They were also flanked by eight "dumb" barges, which provided additional colored pyro effects.
   The main laser barge featured a sphere in the middle which housed rear projection lasers inside that projected images onto the sphere's surface. There were also lasers mounted on the barge outside of the sphere that projected onto the mists screens which were located on the barges surrounding it.
   Illuminations took place over the course of three acts with the pyrotechnics coming towards the end of act two and concluding in a fantastic finale which featured the majority of the fireworks.The opening act featured laser projections on the mist screens, colored fountain sprays, and various highlights of the nations represented.
   The second act featured the individual pavilions highlighted in their own sequence with each pavilion lit up individually, beginning with France and proceeding in no particular order around the lagoon and culminating with USA at the end of act two.
   There are two pavilions not featured in Illuminations. The first being the Norway Pavilion as it was not completed until after the show debuted. And the next being the Morocco Pavilion because the king did not want the Pavilion lit up due to religious concerns.
    Act III featured the majority of the pyrotechnics included in the show, and heavy use of the linear lasers emanating from the pavilions themselves.
   At the end of the show all of the pavilions are lit up around World Showcase Lagoon in a wondrous display. And one of my favorite effects is the globe projected on Spaceship Earth with lasers emitting from the American Adventure.
     I have included my own video of the original show, while crude in its presentation, being as it was taken very non-professionally back in 1994, it does present the show as seen back then.  I am sure there are much better videos out there, but in my posts I try and use all of my own material wherever possible.
   Thanks for taking the time to look at my pictures and hopefully enjoying my brief history on the original Illuminations show. I am always appreciative that people take the time out of their busy schedule to read and enjoy my blog. I hope that you learn something that you didn't previously know, and leads to enjoying this show more as well as enjoying the current iteration even more. Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

Monday, February 4, 2013

20th Anniversary Surprise Celebration Parade

    The 20th anniversary surprise celebration at Walt Disney World was a 15 month long campaign which began in 1991.  The celebration included a daytime show at EPCOT Center called Surprise in The Skies, the debut of Spectromagic, as well as a new daytime parade that took place in the Magic Kingdom. Guests would also be randomly surprised with 20th anniversary themed merchandise.

    The Magic Kingdom parade had it's origins beginning at Disneyland.  The parade was called Party Gras, and ran for about 11 months for the 35th anniversary of Disneyland.  This was a hugely popular parade and was arguably the most popular part of the 35th anniversary celebration.  The parade only ran for less than a year during 1990 because of the incoming Celebration USA parade.

   This parade was pretty much just sitting unused in California.  So in typical Disney fashion, why not haul the parade over to Walt Disney World to be used during the 20th anniversary celebration.  The only problem with this was that the themes of Mardi Gras and Carnival did not entirely gel with the theme of the "surprise" celebration on the east coast.  But they went along with it anyway being that this was the most economically feasible option.

    The parade featured massive character balloons that stood around 40 feet tall.  These balloons featured the Fab 5 as well as Roger Rabbit.  The floats did receive some aesthetic upgrades and an entirely new Mickey balloon for the stint at WDW.  The Disneyland version portrayed Mickey in his sorcerer garb.  
Cinderella and Snow White Graced this float
   The parade also featured characters from Pinocchio and the Jungle Book.  As well as Chip and Dale in their own individual mini floats and various dancers and unique costumed characters.
    Although the parade did not have all the fantastic elements that made the Disneyland parade so popular, it did have enough staying power to last for almost 3 years. This parade ran throughout the celebration and for a couple years after, until the ever popular Mickey Mania parade replaced it in 1994. 





Friday, December 21, 2012

Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights on Residential Street

     
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights has been a mainstay of MGM Studios since 1995, when Disney acquired the display from Jennings Osborne.  Jennings began his display when his daughter wanted their house decorated in lights for Christmas in 1986. Initially the display consisted of 1000 lights, and every year after it got bigger and bigger. Until his display got so big, that he purchased the properties on both sides of his own property to expand the display even farther.  Eventually the neighbors around him started filing lawsuits claiming that the traffic around the neighborhood made even the simplest errand take up to two hours or more. After much legal turmoil, in 1995 the state Supreme Court shut the display at his own residence down completely.
  John Phelan, project director at Walt Disney World, thought that the display would benefit Disney and also bring a pleasant addition to MGM Studios at the time. So he made an offer to Osborne, who was a fan of Walt Disney World and gladly accepted to move most of the display to Residential Street, which was located on the back lot at the time.  By 1996 Disney had added many lights to the display bringing the total up to 4.5 million.

     Residential Street was experienced as a ride through portion on the original Back Lot tram tour. It contained a "neighborhood" of  many various houses that consisted of no more than the Street side façades. If you got a good look behind these façades you'll see that it is pretty much bare steel and wood with no completed back structure of the house.  When Residential Street hosted the Osborne light display, the streets were opened up to guests to walk about the neighborhoods and admire the enormous display of lights draped about the facades. There were many other elements besides the lights on the houses.  Which included Santa, reindeer,  toy soldiers,  nativity scene, as well as many lights on real and fake trees and even lights on cars.
Golden Girls house


















    Residential street was closed to the public on July 2, 2003. The street was scheduled for demolition to make way for the new stunt show: Lights, Motors, Action. Which resulted into an even more abbreviated Back Lot tour.  The Osborne lights were moved to an area of the park known as New York Street.  Which was eventually renamed to streets of America. The show has undergone many changes through the years, including a dancing portion of the light display. Which warrants the most recent name change to the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
    This show really adds a nice holiday element to Hollywood studios which doesn't have the amount of offerings that the other parks do. I think some of the charm is missing compared to when the display was on Residential Street. But the wow moments and overall feelings are definitely there nowadays.  I hope Disney continues to utilize technological advances that are available, and invent new ways to plus this show to keep it relevant and exciting to park guests for years to come.  While keeping the charm and history of the display in tact.  Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!