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Tomorrowland and Adventure Thru Inner Space

Grandpa Bob in Tomorrowland; my sister and I share a drink in the background, 1982

The last time I was able to go to Disneyland with my Grandpa Bob, we must’ve to Tomorrowland to ride Adventure thru Inner Space a half dozen times. That year, Grandpa Bob was dying, and his trip with us was a last hurrah. He was one of the people in my life to teach me chess and to fill the father-sized void. We toured him around Disneyland in a wheelchair, and we got on all the rides without waiting. Grandpa could still walk some, so he would get out of the chair and walk down the ramp with me to the Atomobile.

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Disneyland Doubles Down on Star Wars

The opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was either handled correctly or greatly misfired depending on who you talk to. With limits placed on annual passholders, a complicated reservation system that required many guests to stay at the Disneyland Resort hotels, and fears of overcrowding keeping other guests away, Disneyland’s first half of June was light on crowds in the park as a whole. Wait times for HyperSpace Mountain rarely rose above an hour. Other favorites had manageable wait times from 35 to 45 minutes, and many Fantasyland attractions had walk-on wait times of 5 minutes.

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The Real Problem with Tomorrowland: Creating Is Difficult

Astro Orbitor

Adventureland drew from real life: plants, animals and explorers. It was meant to complement Disney’s pioneering and award-winning wildlife documentaries.

Frontierland drew from America’s history. With the unexpected Davy Crockett craze, Frontierland also had a surprise star, even in absentia.

Main Street, U.S.A. took its cue from small town America, specifically, Fort Collins, Colorado and Marceline, Missouri. It had Harper Goff’s and Walt Disney’s memory to draw on.

Fantasyland drew from the movies and storyboards that Disney had already made or was planning on releasing in the relatively near future: Snow White, Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland and others. The research and creation had already been done. It just needed to be adapted into 3D.

Tomorrowland was a problem. Its subject matter didn’t really exist, yet.

“[Tomorrowland] was the most difficult because everything in it had to be created, while the other lands were the result of research” said Imagineer Marvin Davis (as cited in Walt Disney’s Imagineering Legends and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Park, Jeff Kurti, 2008, p. 35).

Tomorrowland has always been a problem for the Disney Company. In Paris, it solved the problem by recreating the tomorrows of yesteryear based on H. G. Wells and Jules Verne writings. In the U.S., they haven’t been able to solve the riddle. Americans are less familiar with classic science fiction writers, so the Disney Company went a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, and to infinity and beyond while shouting “Excelsior!” and “Just Keep Swimming!” without really considering the subject of tomorrow.

Space Mountain, and the Monorail are the only attractions left that represent the future, with an honorable mention to the Astro Orbiter. Tomorrowland has stopped moving forward because Disney found that as soon as they created something it was already on the market and no longer from the future.

The future can’t be researched. It must be imagined and created. Unfortunately, creativity is messy, time-consuming, and a matter of trial and error. A business can’t rely on creativity to make a profit, so it settles for what’s easy, what’s already made, and what will bring in the most amount of money.

That makes it our job to imagine a future we want to live in and then to create it. Sure, Tomorrowland is a lot of fun, but in order for the real tomorrow to be fun, we have to be its originators. Live to improve the planet, your life, and the lives of your progeny. Keep moving forward.

Try our Tomorrowland quiz at penguin8.com.

For more on the Disney Company, preorder “Penguinate! The Disney Company” and think deeply about the house that Walt built. For more on creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity” and “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

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Disneyland Attractions and Their Movies

Partners statue in Disneyland

Many Disneyland attractions already have movie attached to them. The Jungle Cruise will get its eponymous movie, starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt in 2020, though the boat designs were based on 1951’s “The African Queen.” The Indiana Jones Adventure has a series of films and a TV show based on the popular character; there are rumors of a fifth film in the works for 2021. Tarzan’s Treehouse is connected to Disney’s animated feature of the same name and was formerly known as the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse; the Swisskapolka is still played in memoriam of the former incarnation. This leaves only the Enchanted Tiki Room as an attraction in Adventureland without a movie.

The Pirates of the Caribbean has had five movies based on it. A sixth one was scheduled but the writers walked out and Disney has yet to clarify whether the reboot will move forward. The Haunted Mansion had a terrible movie made about it and deserves a do-over. Tom Sawyer’s Island, based on the Mark Twain stories of Tom and Huck Finn with a pirate overlay, has a movie starring JTT and the tie-in to the Pirates of the Caribbean. The seasonal Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes have the surprise hit of the 1950s “Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier,” which started on the weekly Disney TV show and moved to the theaters after it became so popular. New Orleans Square is pretty much covered unless you want to count the Blue Bayou or Club 33 as attractions.

Critter Country’s Splash Mountain is based on the never-to-be-seen-in-the-U.S.-again “The Song of the South,” and Winnie the Pooh has several films, and TV shows – most recently, “Christopher Robin.” The Country Bear Jamboree also got a movie; however, the film released after the show was evicted from the premises.

Over at Frontierland, the Mark Twain doesn’t have its own movie; neither does the Sailing Ship Columbia or Big Thunder Mountain. Big Thunder Mountain does have a series of comic books. The Golden Horseshoe Stage was designed by Harper Goff who also did the saloon in “Calamity Jane.” The Shooting Exposition is another attraction that is missing a movie. But does it deserve one?

Fantasyland is all about the mostly animated films of Walt Disney, which contributed to the TV show “Once Upon a Time.” From “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” to “Frozen,” just about every attraction has a movie to go with it. “Dumbo” and “Alice in Wonderland” are represented twice, and that’s not including the miniatures in Storybookland Canals. Even the Matterhorn is tied to “Third Man on the Mountain.” It’s a small world, however, does not.

Toon Town is also replete with films, or at least, the short cartoons of Disney’s past. Home to the Big Five, Toon Town also features nods to the Disney Afternoon with Gadget’s Go Coaster. “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” provides the framework for Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin.

Tomorrowland has its own movie, which was better than it was given credit for. The attractions in Tomorrowland mainly rely on “Star Wars,” “Toy Story” and “Finding Nemo for their themes. The exceptions are Space Mountain, the Monorail, the Astro Orbitor and Autopia.

Main Street U.S.A.’s attractions appear to be completely ignored by Disney’s movie making machine. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, the Penny Arcade, and the Main Street Cinema are all attractions without movies though Disney did distribute “Lincoln” in 2012. None of the vehicles on the street have their own films.

So, which of the attractions that do not have films should be made into a movie? Or is Disney going to need to create new attractions to find the next Pirates of the Caribbean franchise? Leave your comments below, include a possible plotline, just keep it PG.

Thinking deeply about a subject is part of becoming more creative. If you like Disney, a great place to start to think deeply and improve your creativity is with “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” for a more in-depth analysis of my favorite ride. For other articles related to Disney check out these links.