Make the Haunted Mansion's Hitching Ghosts Who Follow You Home

The Haunted Mansion, no matter what Disney park it’s in (California, Orlando, Paris, or Tokyo), has been a fan favorite since it opened at Disneyland in 1969. For years even The Walt Disney Company would refer to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride as the last attraction which Walt personally supervised, but that’s baloney. Walt was shown concept art and models of many of the effects that would appear in The Haunted Mansion which eventually opened years after his death. Which brings me to today’s Halloween offering. The three Hitchhiking Ghosts appear infrequently in the ride, however they have become the iconic characters most identified with it. Years ago, Disney published three paper sculptures on The Disney Blog that allowed you to download, print out, and construct three very special models of the Hitchhiking Ghosts—their heads turn and follow you as you pass them by. The effect is based upon the ancient optical illusion known as The Hollow Face. Most simply, a cast of a face is made in a concave (or negative) sculpture. If you look at the cast with one eye closed and walk by it, the face will appear to turn and follow your movement. The Walt Disney Company obtained a patent on a new process that lit the reversed face in such a way that it was more easily viewable while both eyes are open. These busts appear several times in its Haunted Mansions. To see the sculptures created for you to download by Disney, watch this movie (since the camera has only one eye, the turning effect works very well). Read the rest

Nemo and Friends SeaRider Opens at Tokyo DisneySea

Disney fans here have been much preoccupied with the retheming of “Tower of Terror” to “Guardians of the Galaxy—Mission Breakout” at Disney California Adventure, and the opening of Pandora at Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World. On the other side of the planet at Tokyo DisneySea (one of the best Disney parks in the world—ask anyone who’s been there, or just look at a photo below) the latest attraction to open is “Nemo and Friends SeaRider.” The new ride, which opened on May 12, replaces one of the park’s 2001 opening day attractions, “Stormrider.” That ride was kind of like a bigger version of “Star Tours,” but not nearly as good. You could see the seams all over the large screen, thus destroying the illusion that you were supposed to be looking out a large observation window at the front of a new type of plane. Said aircraft was designed to drop a “fuse” into the center of a hurricane which immediately dissipates it. The ride was not the best thing Walt Disney Imagineering has done, and it usually had the shortest line in Tokyo DisneySea, about 20 to 40 minutes in a park where two- and three-hour lines are the norm.

They just fixed it by redoing the entire thing with an overlay from the film Finding Dory. There are many Disney park enthusiasts who bemoan the conversion of a ride with an original storyline and characters to that of an Intellectual Property (“IP”) which Disney owns. Personally, I don’t care as long as the ride is good. Read the rest

10 photos from L.A.'s long-gone Pacific Ocean Park, a day out by the sea you'll never enjoy

Pacific Ocean Park--or as it was commonly known in Los Angeles from the '50s through the '70s, P.O.P.--was extraordinary in both its glamorous rise and spectacular fall. As a family-oriented attraction in the '50s with modernist-styled rides designed by Hollywood's best, P.O.P.'s attendance briefly surpassed that of Disneyland.

Domenic Priore and I uncovered hundreds of images, most unseen elsewhere, including original ride designs, illustrations, and photos of the Tiki-rich, space age, and nautical rides. P.O.P. was often widely seen in movies and television shows throughout the '60s. Its Cheetah auditorium hosted important early rock shows, including those by Ritchie Valens, The Doors, and Pink Floyd. Read the rest