My friend Yasuo Amano, who lives in the town of Shizuoka about an hour outside Tokyo, runs a Japanese blog called Hey Presto. It is mostly concerned with the unique magic tricks produced a Japanese toy company named Tenyo, about which I’ve just written an enormous set of books that will be released in early November.
The Tenyo Company has been in business since 1931, and sells its magic tricks to regular folks at its “Magic Corners” in department stores across Japan. Even though the tricks they devise are easy to do, they also appeal to magicians because of their creativity.
And then there is Tokyo Disneyland, which is turned into a most mysterious and magical place at Halloween. Amano’s latest blog video combines a recent visit to Tokyo Disneyland’s seasonal Halloween event with a performance of some of Tenyo’s newest tricks.
I know … Halloween is still weeks away, but for purposes of commerce Halloween now commences in early September at Disney parks around the world, and even at your local supermarket and drugstore where the candy and greeting cards now appear before summer has officially ended.
In the latest and most annoying development, yesterday at Rite-Aid I saw Christmas cookies already out in the Halloween aisle. Don’t make me punch you in the face, Santa.
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Yeah, you’ve heard of Disneyland (that’s the one in California) and you were probably dragged to Walt Disney World (that’s the one in Florida) when you were a kid. And, possibly, if you give a rat’s patootie about Disney theme parks, you might have heard they have them in other countries, but you’ve probably never heard of Tokyo DisneySea.
“TDS,” as the Japanese call it, is what is known as a Disney resort’s “second gate.” If you’re a WDW person, then Epcot is the second gate; if you’re a DL person, then Disney California Adventure is the second gate.
In 2001, when The Walt Disney Company built Disney California Adventure, it spent one billion bucks for the park, the Grand Californian Hotel, and Downtown Disney. The same year, when The Oriental Land Company (who owns the Tokyo Disney Resort—The Walt Disney Company receives a royalty and percentage) built Tokyo DineySea, it spent three billion dollars just for the park. The Imagineers who conceive all this amazing stuff for Disney, most of which rarely gets built, got the chance to see their best creations realized. I could write a book about Tokyo DisneySea, but here are just 15 really cool things.
1. Drinking a Kirin Frozen Draft while standing beside the Nautilus. Yes, they serve Japanese beer with a frozen “head” right next to Captain Nemo’s killer sub. Nice when it’s 85 degrees and 90% humidity.
2. A quiet street in a small Italian town … except it’s really in a theme park near Tokyo. Read the rest
If I have to pick the single best Disney theme park in the world, it’s always going to be the one Walt built — Disneyland in Anaheim, California. It really is different, and better, than anyplace else and the people who run it and work there take special pride in that. But the best Disney Resort in the world, taking into account all its parks, hotels, special seasonal events, and transportation (don’t you hate waiting for those buses in Orlando?) has to be The Tokyo Disney Resort. It’s has the second best Magic Kingdom style park in the world, with many unique rides. They’re really big on seasonal events, too, and they go all-out for Halloween.
Plenty has been written about Cosplay (i.e., “costume” + “play”) in Tokyo, but people mostly focus on dressing up as manga and anime characters in Harajuku — on the Harajuku Jingu Bridge; coincidentally right next to the cicadas singing in Mejii-Jingu — and in Akihabara.
Less well known is that for precisely 10 days in early September and 7 days in late October, The Tokyo Disney Resort has official Cosplay days where adults are allowed to come to Tokyo Disneyland in full costume. Here, however, the only costumes allowed are Disney characters (no surprise). These are not the tired schleppers dragging their kids around you see in the U.S. In Tokyo Disneyland there is a regal quality to the care with which the cosplayers make the costumes and the pride which with they wear them. Read the rest
Part of the ongoing Disneyland/Muppet crossover video series: I'm away from home and blogging this so that my daughter sees it!
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If you’ve ever been to a Disney theme park, you’ve undoubtedly seen the large posters showcasing some of the popular rides and attractions. Over the past sixty years, what started out as teasers for park guests have evolved into valued works of art. They transition from simple works with minimal design and color of the mid 1950s to finely-detailed full-color masterpieces that perfectly capture the tones and atmospheres of each attraction of the present day.
Poster Art of the Disney Parks compiles Disney theme park attraction posters from around the globe into one volume. The book is oversized for proper viewing of the full-page prints, which are rich in history, color, and detail. Each chapter is broken down into the different lands (Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, etc.) as well as two chapters dedicated to the Disney California Adventure park and the Tokyo DisneySea park.
The tome focuses strongly on the art with minimal text. There are a few paragraphs at the beginning of each chapter and a few captions to accompany the images, but beyond that, it’s an art-lover’s dream. There are so many poster images that even a hard-core fan of the Disney theme parks wouldn’t recognize all of them. Add to that the plethora of sketches, color samples, and poster variants, and you’ve got a 146-page book that is jam-packed with visual treats that will rekindle childhood memories of the Disney theme parks.
– Robert Nava
Poster Art of the Disney Parks
by Daniel Handke and Vanessa Hunt
2012, 144 pages, 11.2 x 14.2 x 0.8 inches
$28 Buy one on Amazon
See sample pages from this book at Wink. Read the rest
My new Guardian column, What is missing from the kids’ internet? discusses three different approaches to teaching kids information literacy: firewall-based abstinence education; trust/relationship-based education, and a third way, which is the proven champion of the offline world.
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The Disneyland Book of Lists is a fantastically fun, incredibly dense collection of Disneyland trivia!
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Unvaccinated people are being officially warned by California epidemiologists to avoid Disneyland in the wake of a measles outbreak. In some counties in California, more than 1 in 5 kindergartners are unvaccinated due to "personal belief exemptions." Read the rest
Thanks to an anonymous benefactor, Boing Boing is pleased to present the first-ever look at the original Disneyland prospectus.
A number of friendly, charity-minded social clubs have sprung up in Disney fandom. They dress in disnefied versions of biker wear, gather together in Disneyland, help people out, and keep each other company. I encountered the Neverlanders several times last year when I had a residency at Disney Imagineering, and I loved the way they blended counterculture and fandom. A long, smart piece about the clubs in OC Weekly traces their history and growth -- fuelled by Instagram -- and the way they encountered mainstream Disney fandom through message-boards and in the parks.
As the article notes, there's a long history of counterculture at Disney parks, from the Yippie invasion to the goth takeover of Tomorrowland prior to the New Tomorrowland renovation. This sort of thing was my direct inspiration for proposing a fan takeover of Disney in Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, and the goth redesign of Fantasyland in Makers.
The presence of counterculture/bohemians in Disneyland shows how appropriation runs in two directions, and also points to a new direction in fraternal organizations. The activities of Disneyland's social clubs -- Neverlanders, Pix Pak, Black Death Crew, Main Street Elite -- would be recognizable to my grandparents, who were active in groups like Kiwanis and B'nai Brith, and who unwound with their friends through bowling and card-games and multi-family picnics.
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Dan from the Journal of Ride Theory passed me a copy of the original prospectus for Disneyland -- a rare and wonderful document I've never seen or even heard of before. I'm delighted to bring it to you today. Dan explains:
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I like it because I get the sense it's an edited transcript of Walt just making up fun stuff on the fly. I have no evidence for that, but I know he was good at telling stories without a script, and there's something about the phrases used that sounds a bit like Walt talking off the cuff. But what do I know?
I found it ten or so years ago, in the files of Eyerly Rides in Salem. They had a contract to build the Dumbo ride and a windmill Ferris wheel for Disney, but the deal fell through when Lee Eyerly got cancer. Also, Walt insisted the ride must load everybody all at once, while the Eyerlys knew from experience that was an inefficient way to work the queue.
At one point, somebody at Eyerly went to a bookstore and bought a Little Golden Book (or something) of Dumbo so they could have reference pictures in order to design the fiberglass elephants.
Take Walt being intractable, add the Eyerlys insisting they knew their business, then throw in cancer, and the deal fell through -- amicably, as I read the documents. Arrow Development got the contract for Dumbo. It barely worked on opening day and queues have been long for that ride ever since.
Disneyland fans have created many of their own theme days, some of which I've been lucky enough to happen upon or attend -- Bats Day (goths); Gay Days, and more. But I didn't know about Dapper Day, where 10,000+ people descend on Disneyland and Walt Disney World in natty outfits and style their way through the fun park. Just looking at the official gallery makes me want to mark this in my calendar for next year.
"People are looking for an excuse to dress up," said Justin Jorgensen, who started Dapper Day in 2011 and has organized five of the events, all at Disneyland. The latest Dapper Day — the same Sunday as the Oscars, Hollywood’s own dress-up day — drew an estimated crowd of 10,000 to the Anaheim park and about 1,000 more at Florida's Disney World.
"Everything, including the workplace, pushes this idea of being casual," said Jorgensen, 38, of Burbank. "When do I get to wear my great stuff?"
Most of those in attendance that day were in their 20s and 30s. They had come of age in a time of shoulder-padded power suits, windbreakers in neon colors and frizzy hair — not exactly a time that will be remembered for its classic elegance.
"I think people like history, people love nostalgia," said Heather A. Vaughan, a historian studying 20th century fashions. "People love imagining a time they didn’t live in."
Dapper Day at Disneyland, the nattiest place on Earth [LA Times/Rick Rojas]
(Photo: Christina House)
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LA architecture historian Chris Nichols says: "I am hosting an evening with Disney legend Bob Gurr next Wednesday at the Hollywood Heritage Museum. Bob designed the Monorail, Autopia, Flying Saucers, and all the ride vehicles at Disneyland starting in 1954 and is a really inspiring designer and super-cool guy. It's a small room and we're almost full, so please click on the ticket link below if you can come. I look forward to seeing you there."
Bob Gurr is a Disney pioneer who began working on Disneyland the year before it opened. He imagineered the original Monorail, Autopia and many iconic ride vehicles for all of the Disney parks. On March 13, 2013 at 7:30 pm at the Hollywood Heritage Museum, he will discuss his memorable theme park and movie creations, including Disney's animatronic Abraham Lincoln, Universal's King Kong, concepts for the Jurassic Park dinosaurs and robots for the 1998 production of Godzilla. In addition, he will autograph his book, Design: Just For Fun. Disney fans won't want to miss this rare opportunity to hear Mr. Gurr share memories from his legendary career. This evening is sure to be a sell-out, so book your tickets early to avoid disappointment!
Evening @ the Barn: Bob Gurr - Disney Imagineering Pioneer Read the rest
Trader Sam's, the (fab) Trader Vic's knockoff tiki bar at the Disneyland Hotel, has rolled out its own line of souvenir tiki mugs, which are reminiscent of the old Trader Vic's mugs, but with rather good designs that are all their own.
New Tiki mugs are Trader Sam’s Barrel Mug, with Shipwreck on the Rocks made with bourbon, freshly muddled lemon and mint with organic agave nectar. “Have too many of these and you’ll be setting a course for Davy Jones’ locker!”
Also new is the “bowl” for the Uh Oa! This popular drink is made with light and dark rums, orange, passion fruit, guava, and grapefruit juices, falernum, cinnamon and freshly squeezed lime juice. This one is “recommended for two or more guests,” so be responsible and share with your friendly natives.
Check Out New Souvenir Cocktail Glasses at Trader Sam’s at the Disneyland Hotel
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Walt and Lilian Disney's daughter Diane talks to the Huffington Post about her parents' "secret apartment" over the firehouse on Disneyland's Main Street, USA. The apartment, decorated by a film production designer called Emile Kuri, was a private haven for the Disneys during the construction of Disneyland, and remained so after its completion. The apartment is still there (though it's off-limits to the public) and is a kind of time-capsule of the Disneys private lives.
There's another space, over the Pirates of the Caribbean, that was built to be a more lavish family apartment, but Walt died before it was completed. It was the "Disney Gallery" (a shop selling prints and other souvenirs) for many years, though it was lately converted to a luxury hotel suite, the "Disneyland Dream Suite." Initially, stays in the suite were awarded as surprise prizes to visitors, but now I believe it can be rented at a very high tariff.
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Did a lot of people get to go up there, or it was a very private place?
Very private. It was for them. It was their residence there and they would invite people up, if there were special people in the park, mother and dad would go out and they would invite them up. Early, it was during "Davy Crockett," I remember there was some event there that day and Fess Parker and Buddy Ebsen were both out there for it, and dad was looking out that window and saw them and he said, "Hey, come on up!"
He told them how to get around, back behind, and get up to the apartment and there was a fire pole in it, it's not there now, but there was a door into the closet area that had a fire pole, like the firemen would have, and he showed it to them and said, "Why don't you guys slide down that?" And they did!
This restored 1957 home movie of a Disneyland visit, from the Disney History Institute, is an absolute treat. I love the rare footage of the Frontierland pack-mules and the Jungle Cruise as it was before the jungle really grew in; I'm likewise captivated by the sight of the (by modern standards) harshly metallic and dangerous-looking conveyances for small children. From The Disney Blog:
The Disney History Institute scores big again with a vintage color film from 1957 Disneyland. DHI uses the same transfer process that Ken Burns does to get his amazing footage and the result is something with the truest and brightest colors I’ve ever seen from Disneyland’s early days.
1957 Disneyland Film is a Treasure
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