Disneyland rarities and Imagineering goodies to 3D print


Grant Fowler, an Imagineering enthusiast, has a marvellous Thingiverse account full of fascinating historical Disneyland items to download and print.

Thinking about Walt Disney's bench


Grad writes, "According to Walt Disney, the idea for a Disney-themed amusement park came to him while sitting on a park bench."

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Horror movies and the Haunted Mansion


Long Forgotten continues its masterful inquiry into the horror movies that gave rise to Disney's Haunted Mansion.

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The stupendous hand-painted signs of Carter's travelling Steam Fair


The Better Letters tumblr has posted a massive gallery of the hand-lettered signs from Carter's Steam Fair, a touring vintage fair that stopped last weekend in Clissold Park in Stoke-Newington, London. Carter's is a family business, and it's a magnificent affair, even down to the gleaming, streamlined family trailers parked around the perimeter. Joby Carter, the fair's signpainter, is the son of the founder, John Carter, and he is part of a five-generation tradition of handpainted signs. My wife and I took our daughter and a friend to the fair yesterday and were amazed, thrilled and delighted by every single detail, from Voltini's Electrocution sideshow to the penny arcade where we gambled recklessly with enormous, Georgian pennies to the many rides and funhouses (and don't forget the steampunk QR code!). As my daughter's six-year-old friend said while we left, "This was the best day of my life!"

I took some pictures, but Better Letters had the run of the place at a pre-opening tour and is in any event a much better photographer than I'll ever be, so look at those pics, too.

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Japanese arcade recreates gritty walled city of Kowloon


Kawasaki's Warehouse arcade, near Yokohama, is a fantastically detailed, gritty recreation of the old walled city of Kowloon, near Hong Kong. The Tokyo Times photos depict a place that's like a fevered Gibson dream, and note that there's an accompanying, spooky soundscape. This is going on my must-see list for our next Japan trip.

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Where the Jungle Cruise queue audio-loop came from

On Passport to Dreams Old and New, the world's greatest Disney themepark critic Foxxfur traces the history of the Jungle Boat Cruise queue-loop, makes some shrewd guesses about where the Imagineers found their material, and (most importantly), what the addition of the music did to the overall design story of an iconic ride.

The WDI-created loop is widely available and runs 47:30. In order to create the loop, WDI had to get very creative in editing the music. Certain songs had slow sections which had to be removed, while others had their vocal sections entirely omitted. The Cole Porter song "I Get A Kick Out Of You" had an entire verse dropped to exclude a reference to cocaine. As a result, the entire AWOL loop as it appears in park, with narration and breaks in the music for announcements every few minutes, has a shorter run time than all of the selected pieces of music played together. Certain songs were compressed, others extended. It's a very elaborate effort.

Since the "final WDI edit" is widely available, here are the songs as they appeared on the original 78 disc releases, unrestored. The "WDI mix" versions of these songs often includes a bit of ambient reverb, which changes the sound of the some of the songs considerably, and made identifying the Dick Powell track particularly challenging.

The Jungle Cruise and AWOL Airwaves

Profile of Norman Bel Geddes, creator of the 1939 New York World's Fair Futurama


Writing in The Believer, B. Alexandra Szerlip offers a fascinating profile of Norman Bel Geddes, the man who built the Futurama at the 1939 New York Worlds' Fair. I didn't know that Bel Geddes had started out with elaborated electro-mechanical games and that these game him the skills and insights he needed to build the Futurama.

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Podcast: Imagineer Rolly Crump on designing the Haunted Mansion


Jeff sez, "On episode 5 of the DoomBuggies Spook Show podcast (MP3), designer Rolly Crump gives a very candid interview in which he talks about his career working on Disneyland's Haunted Mansion with Walt Disney at WED Imagineering, and tells personal stories including the time he spent working with co-tinkerer Yale Gracey designing special effects for the Haunted Mansion, and how he was drummed out of the Haunted Mansion project after Walt died."

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House for sale, complete with rideable scale railroad and trainyard

Marty sez, "I've seen lots of homes for sale but this one is quite unique. A rideable scale railroad encircles the property, complete with a trainyard, trestles, the works."

“Railway Resort” is Apparently a Thing (An Amazing Thing)

Themepunk's dream-job

Dave sends in, "A job advert for an educational designer at LEGO in Denmark posted on the Guardian's job boards. Looks like only teachers need apply!" Cory 2

Abandoned Santa parks of the world


All around the world, there are abandoned Santa Claus parks -- Christmas-themed amusement parks that passed their prime and shut their gates. Atlas Obscura did a deep trawl through Flickr and other online photo repositories and rounded up a gallery of amazing pictures of decaying, unloved Christmas parks from every corner of the globe.

Rudolph and Ruins: Photographs of Abandoned Santa Parks [Allison Meier/Atlas Obscura]

(via Neatorama)

(Image: Park Alalbandel (5), a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from paulk's photostream)

Misney pays tribute to New Weird and the early Haunted Mansion with new comic


The original concept for Disneyland's Haunted Mansion was a walk-through "Museum of the Weird" featuring spooky exhibits (as always, the best place to read about this is Long Forgotten, far and away the top site for Haunted Mansion history, theory and context). This has been revived for a Marvel/Disney series of comics that pick up on the "New Weird" genre motifs and also kicks off a new series of comics based on Disney attractions and their storied histories.

This is pretty danged awesome. Spooky wunderkammers, surreal horror, and theme-parks? Please add me to your mailing list.

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Beijing's "mystery rooms": single-room funhouses


Eric Jou reports on Beijing's hot mystery room businesses, in which customers are locked into single-room funhouses where they have to solve a mystery in order to escape. Some mysteries are supernatural, others are crime-scenes, and others are "hospital-themed." They're inspired by similar video-games and cost less than a movie-ticket to play.

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Naked haunted house run-through


Shocktoberfest, a spook-house in Sinking Spring, PA, is running a Naked and Scared Challenge where customers traverse the maze in the altogether. It's advertised as a means of self-diagnosing "Gymnophobia - the fear of being nude."

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Banksy's anti-BP dolphin ride


Graffiti/street artist Banksy has built and installed a BP-leak-themed dolphin ride on Brighton Pier. The coin-op ride offers trenchant commentary on the light liability borne by BP for its role in the poisoning of the gulf. Plus, it looks like a lot of fun!

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