Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Eastern Airlines and Walt Disney World

      Right around the opening of Walt Disney World, Eastern Airlines started servicing the Orlando area. To promote the tourism to the east coast Disney project, Eastern was brought on board as a sponsor and named the "official" airline of Walt Disney World.  This was a mutually beneficial relationship in the fact that Eastern was able to use the Disney name and characters in it's advertising and Disney received sponsorship money.  It was an estimated ten million dollars that Eastern put forth to sponsor an attraction in Tomorrowland named "If You Had Wings", which opened on June 5, 1972, eight months after the Magic Kingdom officially opened.  This attraction was designed by Claude Coates, and offered  to guests without a ticketed entry fee as to expose people to Eastern Airlines and promote the company.  This attraction was extremely popular mostly due to the fact that you did not have to use one of your A through E tickets to ride it and it was included with the park admission.  This sponsorship lasted until June 1,1987 when Disney cut ties with Eastern Airlines and the company later filed for bankruptcy in 1989.
        Sponsorship did play a major part in the expansion of Walt Disney World, and still does to this day.  The reason that we have lost good things in the parks is due to lost sponsorships, or lack of sponsorship funds.  I hope that companies see the benefits of Walt Disney World attractions once again and put the money toward viable experiences in all the parks.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Here Come The Muppets

           The live stage show "Here Come The Muppets" debuted at the MGM Studios in the Animation Courtyard Theater on May 25th 1990, and ran until September 2nd 1991.  The interesting thing about this show was that all the Muppet characters that appeared were life size.  So no puppeteer, but an actual walk around character in a suit.  Another interesting thing about this stage show was the inclusion of many not so well known Muppet characters.  The show was meant to be a temporary fill until Muppetvision 3D opened.  The stage show ran alongside Muppetvision 3D for 4 months as Muppetvision opened on May 16th, 1991.  When the stage show finally closed it was replaced by the ever popular "Voyage of The Little Mermaid", which opened just two weeks after Muppets closed and has occupied that theater ever since.  
               The Muppets' presence in the studios was planned to be much more extensive than it ever was, or is today. The whole area around the Muppetvision 3D attraction was to be a Muppets themed land.  The "Muppet Studios" portion of the MGM Studios was to have featured a parody of the park's headline attraction, The Great Movie Ride, called "The Great Muppet Movie Ride".  As well as an eating establishment named  The Great Gonzo's Pandemonium Pizza Parlor.  The demise of this project, and the acquisition of the Muppets franchise by Disney fell through when the owner of the Muppets, Jim Henson, passed away on May 16th, 1991.  Disney did finally acquire the Muppets franchise in February of 2004, but the grand plans for the MGM Studios have not been rekindled as of yet.  
              Hopefully with the renewed interest in the Muppets franchise with the release of the new Muppets Movie and a sequel announced for the future, hopefully the Muppets presence in the Studios will be expanded beyond what space it occupies today.   And WDI revisits some of the ideas that were on the table around the inception of the park.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tower of Terror

    Here are a couple of clear photographs of the first scene in the Tower of Terror in the Studios when the elevator makes it's first stop.  These pictures were taken in 1996, even though the scene has remained mainly unchanged since then.  The occupants of the elevator appear in the hallway beckoning for you, reaching towards you in a desperate plea for help.  And all of a sudden they disappear in a wave of electrical energy. The lights begin to fade into a star field, and the hallway that was once before you becomes indistinguishable.  The window at the end of the hall becomes more pronounced , begins to sway, and then shatters.  As if you have left the real world behind, and where you are now, the physical bounds have no merit.
      This is my favorite scene in the attraction purely for the fact of the perceived distortion of your surroundings.  You are in an actual hallway where apparitions appear in the dead center and then everything vanishes.  Your physical surroundings disappear.  It is one of those effects that make you wonder how they do that.  This type of show scene is what makes WDI shine.  This is the type of experience that me, as a fan, longs for.  I hope that all of the ventures in the future, including the Test Track refurbishment, can bring this emotional response out of me and the many guests that enjoy them.
This detail is pulled directly from the lobby area.
 You feel as if you did just go up a few floors in the hotel

I am surprised this photo turned out so well