Phish's concept concert based on Disney's "Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House"

For Halloween, rock group Phish traditionally creates a 'musical costume' by covering a classic album from music history. This year, the band created a new set of music based around the 1964 Disneyland album Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House. Interesting set of music with a cool stage design, the band uses the original narration and inspiration for the songs."

It makes for quite a concept album, to rival Kilroy Was Here and 2112.

What "the worst ride in Disney World" teaches us about media strategy


Foxxfurr's latest article on Disney theme park history is yet another amazing and insightful read that uses the tenth anniversary of Stitch's Great Escape ("the worst ride in Disney World") as a jumping-off point to show how the history of theme-parks, animation, the elusive 5-12 year old boy market, and the entertainment business all influenced one another.

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Olaf costume hoodie


Frozen's Olaf the snowman was the funniest animated character I've seen in years, and now there's a women's costume hoodie that'll let you (possibly) fool your friends into thinking that you're him.

Vintage toys: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Thumper, and... Idiot?

idiot

The 1949 Airboy comic has an ad for 5 puppets: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Thumper... and Idiot. We'll assume Idiot is not a Disney-licensed character, though he looks a bit like their Hunchback. The same firm also sold Halloween masks:

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Haunted Mansion leggings


These Disney Haunted Mansion wallpaper leggings are a limited edition, and sell for $80. (Thanks, Alice!)

Please, Disney: put back John's grandad's Haunted Mansion tombstone


John Frost writes, "It's been 46 years of happy haunts at Disneyland's Haunted Mansion, an attraction both Cory and I share a certain affinity for; when the attraction first opened, the exterior queue featured a small graveyard full of tombstones with humorous epitaphs."

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Nerdy steering-wheel covers


Oklahoma City's Beau Fleurs sells a remarkable variety of steering-wheel covers, each adorned with a hellokittyish hair-bow (pictured here: the Marvel comics edition, $25).

(via Geeky Merch)

Buzz Lightyear cited in legal brief


From a motion related to the Speedy Trial Act: "The government cannot simply fail or refuse to respond to a motion and toll the Act 'to infinity and beyond.'"

Mickthulhu Mouse


A tee from the Neatorama shop: $20.

Medievalists on Disney's middle ages

A fascinating new scholarly essay collection, The Disney Middle Ages: A Fairy-Tale and Fantasy Past, looks at Disney's portrayal of the middle ages and reflects on how these are inextricably linked to other Disney settings, from Tomorrowland to Frontierland, and how the "Americanized" medieval narrative has played out over the decades.

John McChesney-Young sent me a great review of the book by Yale historian Paul Freedman, which is in the current issue of The Medieval Review (but not yet in its online archive):

Fantasyland is the home of neo-medieval stories, especially of princesses and their accoutrements; it has been gendered female. Adventureland, Frontierland and Tomorrowland incline towards a male audience, or at least they did in their heyday. Changing public perceptions have meant that the Old West as a setting for the making of rugged American character runs up against an appreciation of the fate of Native Americans, while with the fading allure of pre-internet "Gee Whiz" technology, Tomorrowland has been partially reinvented as "Retroland," a kind of self-mocking "Jetsons" take on what we once thought the future would look like (p. 69).

Fantasyland remains the core of the Disney imagination, and it is lightly dusted with medieval fairy-sparkle. It can't really call to mind even a first-order artificial nineteenth-century romantic Middle Ages, because that would interfere with the goal of presenting Disney's modern world as "the happiest place on earth," a happiness that is more goal-oriented and, one might say, middle-class values-centered than escapist or expressive of discontent with the present. The pastness of Disney's fantasies is tempered and in effect denied by anti-elitist, can-do characters. Amy Foster in "Futuristic Medievalism" shows how the medieval past is shaped by American anti-elitism and the promise of technology. Unidentified Flying Oddball was a 1979 reworking of Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court in which a NASA engineer is transported to Camelot. Not only does he amaze the court with his scientific knowledge and gadgetry, his "regular guy" nature is paramount. He treats peasants, servants and King Arthur alike, for example. Bob Gossedge, in an essay devoted to the 1963 animation of The Sword in the Stone, points out that young "Wart," the future King Arthur, is the only principal character in that film with an American accent. Merlin, in a cultivated English voice, instructs Wart that he needs to get "these medieval ideas out of your head--clear the way for new ideas: knowledge of man's fabulous discoveries in the centuries ahead" (pp. 127-128). One sees similarities in the all-American rendering of underdog heroes like Zorro in the 1957-1959 television series or Remy in Ratatouille (2007). Disney's principal characters tend to be resourceful Americans (whatever their putative nationality) stuck in a past that is attractively fantastic, but irritatingly hierarchical and behind-the-times.

Disney's egalitarianism is about universal opportunity, not economic equality. It amounts to what Foster (p. 164) refers to as "sentimental populism" based on Horatio Alger, not Marx. Anyone can be a princess, anyone can cook (in the non-medieval Ratatouille). The mistreated Snow White and Cinderella are eventually exalted and not only does "happily ever after happen every day," but it happens to anyone receptive to the Disney message or "magic."

The Disney Middle Ages: A Fairy-Tale and Fantasy Past [Pugh and Aronstein, eds]

(Thanks, John!)

Phantom Manor stretch portrait/princess mashups


That Disney Lover's created a set of Haunted Mansion stretch gallery portrait mashups featuring the paintings from Disneyland Paris's Phantom Manor (originals here) and characters from Disney animated features; the Ariel/Ursula one is inspired.

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First-ever Disneyland ticket


Mikayakatnt posted this image of the first Disneyland gate-ticket ever sold, from opening day, July 17, 1955.

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Frozen/Haunted Mansion stretch-gallery mashup

Its creator, DJ Clulow, promises to start selling prints of it in his Etsy store ASAP.

Frozen Haunted Mansion [Instagram/DJ Clulow]

(via Walt and Mickey)

The birth of Disney's dark ride

Jeff Baham, author of The Unauthorized Story of Walt Disney’s Haunted Mansion, celebrates the attraction’s 45th anniversary with a look at its uneasy genesis—and its enduring appeal.

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Haunted Mansion/Batman mashup tees

Today, Teefury offers shirts based on Artistabe's brilliant Batman/Haunted Mansion stretch gallery mashups.

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