Holy mackerel, I remember these guys!
This is TranStar. They used to play in front of Mission to Mars, back when it was still Mission to Mars (now the location of Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port).
The guy in front played a Steinerphone, which was sort of like an electronic saxophone/clarinet thing that you blew into, but made electronic sounds. I wanted one. Here’s what they look like (though the one TranStar used was black):
The vertical guitar-thing on the right is a flutar, which was played by tapping the strings along the frets with both hands as opposed to plucking or strumming like a guitar.
And, of course, the keyboard is a keyboard and the dancer is a dancer. But together, with their dust buster mobile and their silver clothes and their electronic sound, TranStar was the epitome of music’s future in the late 80s/early 90s. And they fit in perfectly with the instruments in Captain EO next door.
Here’s the Space Shuttle Endeavour’s flight over Disneyland earlier today.
#spottheshuttle time! Here’s hoping for a good view from #Disneyland! (Taken with Instagram)
Hehehe…Disneyland spelled the sign wrong.
Well, sort of. They spelled it in American English, whereas NASA spelled it the way the rest of the world does.
We Are Here To Change The World - Tomorrowland 2055 version/test recording.
If you are lucky, you might hear this track and the rest of the loop of ‘retro futurism’ Disney songs on it around the Space Mountain concourse at Disneyland (especially in the bathrooms).
I dig this.
Although I have a feeling that if I had just happened to hear this without having the name in front of me, I’d have spent the whole time knowing that it was familiar, but not quite being able to place what the tune was.
Space Shuttle Update
NASA has delayed tomorrow’s takeoff of the Space Shuttle Endeavour from Edwards Air Force Base by an hour in hopes that the extra hour will make for less fog when it flies over San Francisco.
As a result, tomorrow’s fly-over of Disneyland has been moved to between 11:30 and 12:30.
I just hope it doesn’t pick up any Universal Studios cooties when it flies over that park on the way.
If you’re at Disneyland on Friday morning, don’t be surprised if you hear a loud airplane approaching. Somewhere around 10:30am, the Space Shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to pass over the park at a low altitude, piggybacking on a 747 on its way to LAX.
So keep your eyes skyward and your camera ready. I can’t wait to see the pictures that people get of this.
Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, now in icon form
I live in the Haunted Mansion now.
A long read, but after reading it you will be anxious to go visit New Orleans Square again.
Haunted Mansion: Jean Laffite and the Mega-Theme Temptation (originally written and posted by Dan Olsen at Long-Forgotten)
“The solid, factual core behind today’s topic is plenty fascinating in its own right, but the phenomenon goes beyond that core. If you extend it both backwards and forwards in time, what was merely a fascinating example of “lost imagineering” (to borrow a phrase from 2719 Hyperion), becomes something mysterious and intriguing and perhaps a little ominous as well. Something wicked this way comes.
We will start where everybody starts when discussing this topic. There is a curious, bricked-up, sunken archway in the esplanade along the river front, out in front of the Haunted Mansion.
What that is, is the tip of an enormous imagineering iceberg, an ambitious concept that came to naught. Or so we are told. The first published discussion of it, I do believe, was by Kevin Yee, in a book he co-authored with Jason Schultz, 101 Things You Never Knew About Disneyland. Number 27 on the list is the mysterious archway:
A canal in New Orleans Square, labeled “1764,” is all that remains of a plan to unify several themes in the land.
The plan called for a crypt next to the Mansion that led into an underground catacomb of treasure and dead pirates, culminating in a pirate-themed hideout on Tom Sawyer Island. The pirate theme would have focused on Jean Laffite, a real-life pirate from the early 1800s in New Orleans. Laffite’s name might be familiar to frequent Disneyland visitors from the Pirates of the Caribbean loading zone, where a sign reads “Laffite’s Landing.” The date 1764 was derived by subtracting 200 years from the birth date of one Imagineer who worked on the project.
Before its replacement with La Petite Patisserie, there was also a Laffite’s Silver Shop in New Orleans Square. Having a Jean Laffite identified as the “owner” of the Haunted Mansion would have united Pirates of the Caribbean with the Mansion and the island into one underlying theme, an unusual feat for an entire land. Though unrealized, the plan lives on in the form of this barricaded “crypt.”This was the brainchild of Eddie Sotto, a brilliant Imagineer who joined WDI (then WED) in 1986 and eventually became Senior Vice President of Concept Design there. He left WDI in 1999 to form his own company. In subsequent conversations, both public and private, Sotto has vouched for the accuracy of Yee’s report and supplied further details about this amazing project. The esplanade was redone in the early 90’s in order to improve the area for Fantasmic! viewing (and whatever other shows might come along). Sotto had the cryptic archway put in at that time as a kind of “note to self” with regard to the Jean Lafitte project.To elaborate the concept further, after entering a crypt near the Mansion (NOT the riverfront archway) you would tunnel through a series of secret chambers lined with skeletal victims of pirate/privateer Jean Lafitte (or “Laffite”; you see both spellings). These tunnels were inspired by the catacombs of Paris. It would represent a sort of macabre tribute to Lafitte’s fallen comrades and shadowy conquests.There was a smuggling theme in all of this too. Anyway, you would eventually emerge into the hold of a buried ship on Tom Sawyer Island, and ascend to the surface there. Fort Wilderness would be replaced with another, capsized ship, full of treasure, covered with foliage and serving as a pirate hideout on the island. There would be lots of things for the kids, like a cannon-firing arcade and a saloon where you could get pop-rocks mixed in your drinks (pop-rocks being a big candy fad at the time), this latter feature in imitation of Chinese pirates, who mixed gunpowder in their grog, Sotto tells us.Like Yee says, the project would have combined Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, and Tom Sawyer Island under an umbrella mega-theme, revolving around Jean Lafitte. Disneyland’s grand poobah at the time, Paul Pressler, looked at the proposal, said no, and that was supposedly that.Sotto has repeatedly said that the original inspiration for this big idea came from (1) the “Laffite’s Landing” sign in POTC, and (2) the historical fact that the island of Barataria lay off the coast of the real New Orleans and served as a hideout for Jean Lafitte and a base of operations for the clandestine smuggling and selling taking place between him and the residents of New O. The presence of Tom Sawyer Island across from New Orleans Square naturally suggested Barataria to Mr. Sotto.Sotto boned up on Lafitte and found him to be a fascinating character, very much tied into the history of America at the time (early 19th c.). He sided with the U.S. against the British in the War of 1812 and was a significant player at the Battle of New Orleans, where he rubbed shoulders with another equally colorful character, Major General Andrew Jackson, who later rewarded Lafitte for his “patriotism” when he became the nation’s seventh president. Much of the fascination with Lafitte lies in his ambiguity: a pirate? a smuggler? a patriot? a hero? Take your pick.So far, what I’ve given you are just the facts, ma’am. But at this point … mysteries begin to multiply. First of all, it is hard for me to believe that the “Laffite’s Landing” sign really is the Disneyland artifact that first inspired this grand idea. However much the sign may have boosted it, I would think that the suggestion was ultimately *ahem* anchored in a different Disneyland artifact.When the esplanade was redone, a lovely garden patch was incorporated, with a ship’s anchor in it. Note well: this was done on Sotto’s watch.When I first saw that, I figured it must have come from the hand of Sotto himself. It obviously fits in with the Lafitte über-theme. No wonder it’s so close to the mysterious archway. The problem is, it didn’t come from Sotto. Previously, the anchor had been sitting out in front of the Golden Horseshoe. Here it is in 1989:Hmm. Okay. But 1989, you say? Then it could still be a Sotto artifact, theoretically.Well, no. Here it is in 1964:The fact is, the anchor has been around since opening day at Disneyland, and the plaque has always read exactly as it does today.What is also curious is that the plaque has been lovingly maintained all these years, which seems a little odd for such a minor DL artifact. It’s been redone several times, as you can see from the photos above.Well, maybe Sotto just forgot about the anchor and left it out inadvertently when he was talking about his earliest inspirations for the Lafitte thing. And maybe its careful maintenance is just that, an example of unusually good maintenance. Interesting, but there are no mysteries here.Maybe not, but there are mysteries a-plenty coming up. Like I said, Sotto left in 1999. But it is clear that someone has continued to carry the torch for this project. First of all, there’s the Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island thing. You may think that it is simply Disney’s attempt to cash in on the pirate mania sparked by the wildly successful POTC flicks. Of course it is, but it is also obvious that it is drawing inspiration from several of Sotto’s ideas; e.g., wrecked ships on the island, hidden treasure, secret tunnels, pirate hideouts. Well why not? Those were good, fun ideas, based on a pirate theme, all ready to pull out of the dead letter files when the POTC craze hit.Yes, of course, of course. But why this utterly unnecessary name-dropping, then?
In 2006, Doombuggies.com premiered an exclusive audio file, “Nuptial Doom”, an elaborate retelling of the original backstory for the Haunted Mansion, based on the old Ken Anderson sea-captain tale. You know the one: Girl marries mansion’s owner and later discovers he’s a bloodthirsty pirate. Murder. Suicide. Ghosts. The story is told by Kat Cressida, the voice of Constance.It’s credited largely to Kat Cressida herself, but a lot of WDI talent shows up in the “special thanks to” column, including some pretty big names. Anyway, in “Nuptial Doom,” we learn that the sea-captain owner of the Mansion was “a compatriot to Jean Lafitte himself,” with a passing reference to the War of 1812 for good measure. More completely needless name-dropping.We’ve mentioned Andrew Jackson, hero of the Battle of New Orleans alongside Lafitte. Whole books have been devoted to exploring their rich and complex relationship.Of course, if you had a special interest in Old Hickory, you would have wanted to drop by Fort Wilderness years ago and see his tableau there.
When the Fort closed in 2002, many of Jackson’s props were put into the attic of the Haunted Mansion, including such personal effects as his uniform, his boots, and his chair (and LOTS of other stuff too). When Constance moved into the attic in 2006, with all of her wedding junk, none of Jackson’s personal items were removed. If anything, they were placed in even more conspicuous view.The tendency to retire props from the Fort Wilderness tableau into the HM attic actually goes back to the 90’s. The second, gold-framed Geo. Washington portrait (seen above) moved there in 2002, but in doing so it was only following the lead of the first one—the one it replaced—which probably went there in 1995.Recall that one element of the Sotto mega-theme ties the Mansion into the Lafitte universe by making him an owner of the house at some point, according to Yee. Are Jackson’s effects merely a typical example of recycling of props and nothing more? If this phenom were standing alone, I’d say yes. But in view of all the other creepy goings-on, I can’t help feeling a little more conspiratorial. For his part, Sotto denies any involvement in this transfer of Jackson props, and doesn’t even know anyone from WDI personally who would be responsible. He had no knowledge of it, and as far as he’s concerned it’s a big nothing. A coincidence. Similarly, he had no knowledge of the other Lafitte name-dropping and allusions to his concept in the movie background materials or in “Nuptial Doom” until they were brought to his attention.There’s more. For awhile there were popular outdoor pirate shows in New Orleans Square, with comedy and music, another way to play off of the pirate craze inspired by the POTC movies. They had a platform—not far from the anchor and the arch, actually—and some interesting props.
Hmmm. Pirate smuggling activity. Not really an element of the POTC movies, wasit?
Plus, any Mansion fan worth his salt immediately recognized the portrait. It’s the greatly-missed April-December changing portrait, removed from the HM in 2005 in order to make room for “Master Gracey.”
(Actually, to be perfectly accurate, it’s neither “April” nor “December.” It’s “June.” As many of you know, the April-December portrait was originally supposed to have four phases, not two.)Looking at that platform, you’d almost get the impression that someone was trying to tie the POTC and the HM together in some way, and that the Someone was just as interested in the old Sotto mega-theme as in the POTC movies.Furthest down the list of possible manifestations of this Lafitte shadow-theme is The Chair. We thrashed this one around quite a bit over at the “Long-Forgotten” threads on Micechat. Suffice it to say, it has been noticed that Connie’s husband Reginald, Jack Sparrow over at POTC, and Edward Gracey in the HM movie, all use the exact same chair.This was more interesting when we thought the chair was a unique design, but in fact it’s pretty common. The upholstery, however, indicates that yes, it’s true: the Sparrow and Reginald chairs are probably recycled props from the HM movie. And if we didn’t know that there was this subterranean impulse trying to tie the POTC and HM together under one theme, “recycled movie props” would be all there is to say about it.There’s an argument to be made that this is all just a string of coincidences, because these things are far, far too subtle to be deliberate show elements. For example, who would ever notice that Andrew Jackson’s uniform or his chair from the old Fort Wilderness tableau is now in the Haunted Mansion attic? Surely not one rider in 100 million. The same goes for some of this other stuff. It must be Disney thrift or laziness at work, and the (admitted) curious resonances with the discarded Jean Lafitte mega-theme must be put down to coincidence, since most of them cannot reasonably be considered show elements.But I think we make a mistake if we box ourselves into a choice between “deliberate show element” and “coincidence” as the only two options. There is also something I would call “manufactured karma,” executed with an eye to the future. If I were an Imagineer of standing, and I hoped ardently that this Lafitte thing might some day be resurrected and realized, then heck yeah I’d be tempted to plant little things around to make it feel more real, more inevitable. It’s a hyper-geek thing. Manufactured karma. Putting something tangible in there that gives you a private buzz, a creative tingle. Some of it may be discernible by the public, and some of it not. Of course, one reason to do some of it at a level that the public can sense is to make the thing seem natural when it appears. Plaster a big “Lafitte’s Tavern” sign on the building on TSI years in advance, and when Lafitteland finally debuts it seems a little less foreign; why, it’s almost familiar. Like it’s been there all along.Do I have a suspicion about who is behind all of this, who is carrying the Lafitte torch? Yes I do. Will I name this person? No I won’t.On March 11, 2011, Eddie Sotto (“Dr. Bitz” in the Comments) went from skeptic (pretty much) to believer (pretty much), when he saw the following new bulletin board at Disneyland:This first came up in the Comments section, and I thought the new data belonged here in the post itself. It ties Huck and Tom in with a certain “Jackson Island” and suggests that Jean Lafitte once used the island as a headquarters. This gives a boost not only to the Jean Lafitte theme but to the shadowy Andrew Jackson connections in our grand conspiracy.”