Stayed up just now watching the ‘Martin’s Ultimate’ tribute to Tower of Terror at DHS. (click the link to get the torrent for yourself at MouseBits.)
Really captivated me, all the ambiance footage and detail around the attraction, especially compared to the bare bones version at DCA, and so it got my mind to wandering….
That attraction, Florida version, really captivates me. I love many Disney attractions, but with a lot, there is a level of disconnect: hard to think of the Enchanted Tiki Room, Pirates, Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln, or MuppetVision as a place in the ‘real world’ and the fantasy concepts could be real. Tower of Terror, though…for me, it offers that opportunity, to play along, or imagine that more. Thinking along the lines of what those events actually would be like for the people involved: Halloween night and a big party, all the guests and hotel staff, cooks, entertainers, big Hollywood stars, maintenance staff being rushed out of the hotel when it is hit by lightning, and then realizing eventually…five people are missing….
Years pass, and the bodies are never found, or even evidence of them. The hotel being locked up basically and rotting from within. Newspaper stories, retrospectives, the families looking for what actually happened, and the mystery just grows of where those people went. Talk of ghosts, and curses, and doubtless organized crime conspiracy theories.
It’s a captivating and enthralling fantasy backstory if you let your mind imagine it really happened, and you’re going into this long-shuttered hotel still containing artifacts people just left close to seventy years ago, not knowing what was happening, rushed out by hotel staff and management. Rooms full of rotting food, abandoned clothes and belongings, musical instruments, things that will never see the light of day. And in this place you’ve entered, five people still might be there, dead, decayed, lost: or worse, shades of them trapped forever, roaming the hallways. You might see them.
If you let your mind run with the fantasy, and hit it at the right time when no other guests are about in a certain area, just you, the eerie, distant vintage music, the clank and groan of the boiler room, a distant, half-heard whispered voice…quite chilling indeed.
And all this makes me wish I was there, right now, in Florida: local time, 4:40 a.m. Imagining no other people about, no guests, employees magically out of sight, and wandering the dimly lit lobby, the library, the boiler room, the exterior grounds. It would be amazing. Pitch black still and the chill night air, silence, apart from the thematic attraction audio. Give me the shivers just thinking about it. I’d love it.
And there ends my ranting…but here’s a little night music, from the Hollywood Tower Hotel to your eardrums:
Magic Kingdom - Country Bears Vacation Hoedown - 1991
The other Country Bear show.
This version ran at the Magic Kingdom from 1986-1992, after which the original show returned (well, until late last year when about five minutes was removed from the show to present a shortened version instead).
This version also ran at Disneyland from 1986 until the attraction closed in 2001.
“In many ways, Walt Disney World is a labyrinth. People used to get lost at Animal Kingdom, did you know that? When it first opened, visitors literally couldn’t find the exit and Disney went through and added a whole bunch of signs and stuff, a few months after opening. Apparently the intentional layout — designed to invite exploration — proved too much for the average family from Iowa. You can still find skeletons of lost souls if you know where to look. People who simply curled up behind a lemonade cart and gave up the ghost. It’s tragic, really.
This must be a newer set than the one I got three cards from a couple years ago. Mine have purple borders, and say they are cards #1, 2, and 3 of 18.
Card #1 is The Gillig, one of the newer styles of buses (at the time — it was before the higher-capactiy articulated bus was being tested) in use all over the resort (I don’t have my scanner handy to show you the actual cards, so you get random internet pictures of the buses).
Card #2 is The Nova, a slightly older bus model.
And card #3 is The ATS, the oldest bus model in use.
I wonder what seven cards were added to the set?
I think the painting may be backwards…it’s his other eyebrow that usually goes up like that (I don’t have a Tony Baxter kink or anything to know this — I just noticed it while looking for a good pic of him to use as a side-by-side comparison).
(Tony Baxter photo source)
Ward Kimball (1914 - 2002) was a steam railroad enthusiast, animator, director, and jazz musician/enthusiast employed by the Walt Disney company.
His notable artistic style is seen in his character work on Jiminy Cricket, the Cheshire Cat, Mad Hatter, Lucifer the cat from Cinderella, the Three Caballeros musical number from the film of the same name, Ichabod Crane, the Pearly Band in Mary Poppins, and several segments in the ‘Man And Space’ and ‘Mars and Beyond’ episodes of the Disneyland television show.
The top selection of four images are from Ward’s work om the previously-mentioned space programs, and the bottom is a mural gracing the queue for the newly-opened Little Mermaid attraction in WDW’s Magic Kingdom. I am very pleased to see what is fairly clearly an homage to Kimball and his style of drawing, if in an rather unexpected place, included in a modern Disney park. I love the sea monster and caricature quality of the sailors, notably similar to the examples provided above.
I may not agree with all changes made to the parks or even all ‘hidden Mickey’ style tributes when they get too obvious, but I love this one for it’s placement, subtlety and masterful use of style to pay tribute to a most worthy artist and figure in Disney company history.
Little Mermaid line photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/insidethemagic/8080491657/
Harriet Burns, one of the founding members of Walt Disney Imagineering. When she was assigned, the department was three members big (herself, Fred Joerger, and Wathel Rogers). She worked on model work for the Matterhorn, designed and painted the underwater figures for the Submarine Voyage, and helped design and ‘finish’ figures and environments for the Enchanted Tiki Room, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Haunted Mansion.
All three of the early Imagineers listed above, including Harriet, currently have tribute/homage tombstones outside Walt Disney World’s Haunted Mansion.
While waiting in line for the new Little Mermaid attraction at the Magic Kingdom, keep a weather eye open for this tribute to a now-gone (and to my mind, much superior) attraction which once took guests under the sea in this same location.
In addition, Whale of a Tail is among the instrumental sea shanties heard in the grotto/shipwreck area at the ride entrance.