Boing Boing 

Taxonomy of theme park narrative gimmicks


Foxxfur has published "The Theme Park Trope List," a first approximation attempt to summarize the narrative gimmicks used in theme park attractions to move the action along, for example, "the book report ride," which "shows exactly the same events which occurred in the source film in the same order."

Read the rest

Philip K Dick on Disneyland, reality and science fiction (1978)


Here's an excellent, rambling PKD riff on the relationship of Disneyland to science fiction (and Episcopalianism) and what is, and is not, real.

Read the rest

The Haunted Mansion was almost the Tiki Room


Another outstanding photo-essay on the Long Forgotten Haunted Mansion blog shows how many of the original Rolly Crump concepts for a walk-through Haunted Mansion at Disneyland eventually made their way into the Enchanted Tiki Room, with effects based on Cocteau's 1946 movie La Belle et la Bête.

Read the rest

Musical time-machine to Walt Disney World in the late 1970s


The amazing Foxxfur has spent 3.5 years assembling a new installment in her "Musical Souvenir of Walt Disney World" series, pulling together audio rarities from WDW in the late 1970s to create a six-hour soundscape that faithfully recreates the incidental music, cast member spiels, and ride narration from one of the golden ages of Disney themeparks.

Read the rest

Englandland: BBC plans a theme-park


The BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, is in plans to build a themepark in the Thames estuary, in cooperation with a Kuwaiti property developer and Paramount Pictures.

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

Oregon's Davis Graveyard: local haunters who go all out

Dan from the Journal of Ride Theory writes, "The semi-pro Hallowe'en display in my neighborhood just gets better every year. I'm sure you'll spot the Haunted Mansion references."

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."

Read the rest

Horror movies and the Haunted Mansion


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

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

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."

Read the rest

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!"

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.

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

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."

Read the rest

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!

Read the rest

Audio memoir of original Disney Imagineer, with free sex-and-drugs excerpt!

Last week, I blogged about More Cute Stories: Volume 1, an audio memoir of Rolly Crump, one of the Imagineers who help build Disneyland and maintain it in its early years. I've had a chance to listen to it since then and it is fantastic. Crump is a charming raconteur, and he treats us to many fascinating remembrances that shine light on the personalities, engineering, business reality, and weird and wild times that made up the early years of Disneyland.

Read the rest

Audiobook memoir of Disney Imagineering legend Rolly Crump: More Cute Stories

Jeff sez, "After the success of It's Kind Of A Cute Story, Disney Legend Rolly Crump's memoir, Bamboo Forest Publishing is proud to announce the release of More Cute Stories, Volume 1: Disneyland History (CD/MP3). This high-quality recording includes nearly fifty minutes of all new stories about Disneyland that weren't included in the book, told by Rolly himself. No one can tell a tale quite like Rolly, so we decided that having the man himself actually tell you these brand new stories was the best way to preserve them!"

I'm getting a review copy of this and I'm really excited; Crump is an amazing raconteur and was part of some of the critical moments in themepark history.

Read the rest

Kickstarting a Coney Island 3D scanning studio and 3D printed miniature model of Luna Park

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/fredini/coney-island-scan-a-rama

Fred Kahl, a Coney Island performer and magician, is kickstarting a project to put a 3D scanning/printing studio and a 3D printed miniature Coney Island at Coney Island's Luna Park. He's developed a cheap 3D scanner based on a Kinekt, and will release the full plans to Thingiverse once he's fully funded. He's looking for $15K (he's already crested $10K), and $25 gets you scanned in his NY studio ($60 gets you scanned and printed).

A 3D Scanning Portrait Studio based in America's Playground- Coney Island, NY (Thanks, Fred!)

Overgrown, abandoned rollercoaster


From the Abandoned Geography Tumblr: an overgrown and abandoned rollercoaster in Hubei Province, China.

Abandoned roller coaster in Hubei Province, China

Aireal: generating the sensation of physical contact in thin air

Aireal is a Disney Research/University of Illinois project that can generate the sensation of interacting with physical objects in thin air, by acoustically firing precisely aimed puffs of air:

In practice, Aireal can do anything from creating a button for you to touch in midair to crafting whole textures by pulsing its bubbles to mimic water, stone, and sand. This is all very neat, but maybe even more important, Aireal has an inherent convenience factor. A single Aireal could conceivably support multiple people, and a grid of Aireals could create extremely immersive rooms, creating sensations like a flock of birds flying by. And for the end user, taking part is never more complicated than standing somewhere. It’s capable of creating a virtual tactile environment without forcing everyone to strap on strange peripherals.

Disney’s Crazy Invention Lets You Feel Phantom Objects Floating In Air [Mark Wilson/Fast Company]

(via Beyond the Beyond)

Spectacular footage of Disneyland 1955

DisneyHistory has edited together scraps of found home movies from Disneyland in 1955, its opening year, harvesting only the sharpest, clearest shots highlighting the rarest and least-seen elements. The result is one of the most vivid views of that year I've ever seen. There's also a list of spot-the-rara-avis moments from the footage, including the "Closed Mondays" sign, the lingerie shop on Main Street; a performing organ grinder's monkey and Canal Boats of the World ("in which guests floated past dirt").

Disneyland Voce 1955

Photos of Space Mountain's construction


From the Imagineering Disney blog, a wonderful gallery of photos from the construction of Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. This is the original mountain, beating the Disneyland one to completion by two years:


Although the concept of Space Mountain was originally envisioned for Disneyland, the first Space Mountain to open was at Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. After the Matterhorn Bobsleds opened at Disneyland in 1959 and were hugely popular, Disneyland management asked for a second thrill ride. Walt was on board but the plans for this second coaster were delayed for another decade. Disneyland didn't get their Space Mountain until 1977, more than two years after Magic Kingdom got theirs in 1975.

Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain Construction

Photos of ruined and rotting themeparks around the world


IO9's Vincze Miklós has collected a marvellous gallery of photos from abandoned and rotting themeparks around the world. Several of these have been featured here before, while others are entirely new to me. The Katrina-wrecked Six Flags park in Louisiana and Walt Disney World's sadly abandoned Discovery Island are both especially compelling in their graceful ruin.

The Crumbling Chaos of Abandoned Amusement Parks

(Photo: Pain of Death, Squared2x)