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Category — A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

TOY STORY MIDWAY MANIA

By Jim Korkis

The highly popular Toy Story Midway Mania! attraction opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on May 31, 2008 in the area labeled Pixar Place. It was John Lasseter’s suggestion that the archway entrance look like the entrance to the real Pixar Studios in Northern California, even using the same type of brick.

At the Studios, as park guests enter the attraction, they find themselves in Andy’s room from the 1995 Pixar animated feature film Toy Story which is strewn with board games, puzzles and other toys. The murals located in the load area are the biggest murals painted since Epcot was built.

The toys all look gigantic because the guests have “shrunk” to the size of a toy because the toys won’t come to life if a human is around. The area was designed so that a five foot six inch tall person would feel about fourteen inches tall.

According to the back story, Andy has received the Midway Games set for his birthday. However, before he can completely set it up and play with it, he is called away and Andy’s toys decide to set up and play with the set themselves.

The Mr. Potato Head Broadway Barker figure (the most complex audio-animatronics figure ever built by Disney) is actually not part of the set itself but an additional figure that was “sold separately” as can be seen by his boxy stand and backdrop. Imagineers spent more than thirty hours with comedian Don Rickles who was the voice of the character in the original films to record his dialog.

The idea for the eighty million dollar attraction began in May 2005, when Imagineers were working on the concepts for Cars Land at Disney’s California Adventure and thinking about how they could bring some interactive components to the area. They later discarded those ideas as infeasible for the new land but were still intrigued by the initial concept.

After some in-depth research at the local Los Angeles County Fair with classic midway games, the idea progressed. The pull-string shooter was inspired by the Pirate Adventure game at DisneyQuest. In order to create a show that responds not only to every pull of a guest’s spring-action shooter, but also every move their midway tram makes, there are more than 150 computers communicating over multiple networks throughout the attraction.

Imagineers Lori Coltrin, her brother Robert Coltrin, Roger Gould and Kevin Rafferty were the primary team on the attraction.

The look of the attraction was inspired by a game that one of the Imagineers had as a kid called Snoopy and the Red Baron which is why there appears to be cardboard backdrops, stickers, and pieces molded out of single color of plastic.

In their test group, the Imagineers saw noticed young children were reluctant to break the plates so they added the line where Sarge yells: “I am not your mother -break those plates!”

Typically over one million of the virtual China plates are broken every single day. The green army men work hard to clean up the plate shards as plates are shattered all around them, although most riders never pay attention to that action.

Toy Story Midway Mania is the first blacklight show viewed with 3D glasses, which made mixing the paint colors more of a challenge. The Imagineers involved in the art direction had to always carry 3D glasses around with them when they were working inside the attraction.

The attraction opened before Toy Story 3 was released, so in May 2010, Disney changed the mini game, “Bo Peep’s Baaa-loon Pop”, and replaced it with “Rex and Trixie’s Dino Darts”.  Trixie was a new character introduced in the new film, as was Buttercup who was added to the Hamm and Eggs game.

The attraction was so popular that a third track was added in May 2016.

*  *  *  *  *

Thanks, Jim! Toy Story Midway Mania will become part of Toy Story Land on June 30, 2018.

Here’s the review of attraction from The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018:

And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, Call Me Walt, and his Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, all published by Theme Park Press.

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest!!

June 15, 2018   No Comments

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: The Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

SCI-FI DINE-IN THEATER RESTAURANT

By Jim Korkis

The Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater restaurant at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a huge soundstage with high, dark ceilings made to resemble the starry nighttime sky, and row upon row upon row of 1950ish convertible automobiles that serve as the dining area for the guests.

It is meant to resemble the classic drive-in movie theaters of the era. For those who prefer not to be in a car, just like in a real drive-in, there are a few picnic table and tables with umbrellas available along the back as well.

(c) Disney

All of the seating is aimed toward a massive movie screen on one side of the room. The forty five minute film loop compilation that shows there of coming attraction clips of 1950s science fiction films, cartoons, vintage news clips, and intermission/refreshment announcements was put together by Stephanie Keith of Theme Park Productions.

She spent hundreds of hours visiting film libraries and collectors as well as the National Film Archives in Washington, D.C. to review old news footage. “Some of the prints were pulled out from dusty boxes in the back of someone’s garage,” said Keith. Some of the film was in very poor condition that required extensive restoration.

“It was a challenge to make a piece of film look good but not too good,” post production supervisor Louise Gladden said. “We needed to keep some of the scratches, which add to the charm of the film.”

The film trailers include:

  • Devil Girl from Mars (1954)
  • It Conquered the World (1956)
  • Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958)
  • The Amazing Colossal Man (1957)
  • The Horror of Party Beach (1964)
  • The Giant Gila Monster (1959)
  • Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965)
  • Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)
  • Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957)
  • Robot Monster (1953)
  • Cat Women of the Moon (1953)
  • Missile to the Moon (1958)

In addition there are two edited MGM animated shorts: Mouse Into Space (1962 Tom & Jerry) and The Cat That Hated People (1948 Tex Avery)

The News of the Future newsreels include segments of the kitchen of the future (from the Monsanto House of the Future), a radiation hazard suit, a flying disc, a mini-car model that drives itself on an electronic wire track embedded on the ground (in the driver’s seat was a ventriloquist dummy of Jerry Mahoney smoking a cigarette), a picture phone with a ten inch video screen, real chimps as “space cadets” riding on an amusement park rocket ride, a “frying saucer” and an automated nursery.

For Disney fans, there is a compilation to the song Great Balls of Fire, featuring a clip of Garco the robot, Disneyland’s Trip to the Moon astronauts on the moon, the flying jetpack man from Disneyland, a cartoon clip from Mars and Beyond, Tinker Bell introducing Tomorrowland from the weekly Disney television show, a costumed Mickey Mouse at the dedication of the new Disneyland Tomorrowland in 1967, as well as images of real rocket launches, Tom Corbett Space Cadet, and scenes from Forbidden Planet, Commando Cody, and The Thing.

Announcements include the warning that public demonstrations of affection will not be tolerated, the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning if the car motor is running, the importance of disconnecting the speaker, an advertisement for the Satellite Space show for boys and girls, and more.

“Even though the Sci Fi Dine-In was designed as a restaurant first and an attraction second, it’s sometimes hard to set them apart,” said Imagineer Eric Jacobson. “It’s very strange to watch the guests, eyes riveted to screen as they eat and nobody is talking!”

*  *  *  *  *

Thanks, Jim! Here’s the review of the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre from The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018:

And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, Call Me Walt, and his Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, all published by Theme Park Press.

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest!!

June 8, 2018   No Comments

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Safari Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

SAFARI VILLAGE AT DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM

By Jim Korkis

Safari Village was meant to be the thematic heart of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and serve as the central hub. Encircled by Discovery River, Safari Village  [renamed Discovery Island in December 2010–Dave] was a lush, green island that serves as a magical departure point for each of the different realms of the park.

As the original promotional material stated, Safari Village

“… is a mix of tropical and equatorial styles featuring references to the Caribbean but also Polynesian influences. Strong, bright colors dominate the landscape. Animal forms decorate every possible surface of the one-story structures smothered in many-hued tropical foliage.

“A unique vocabulary of animal images, inspired by folk art from around the world, gives the Village a playful look that celebrates the beauty and power of animals. Safari Village’s shops make it the natural center of the park. It’s also the ideal place to encounter a unique brand of live entertainment celebrating the special connection between humans and animals.”

Safari Village has folk art inspired forms on every available surface including walls, ceilings, windowsills, gable ends and more.

The buildings are not just ornamented with animals, but also each facility has its own theme. Island Mercantile features animals that migrate and work – whales and wildebeests, bees and beavers. Creature Comforts features animals with stripes and spots. Beastly Bazaar has animals from fresh and salt water cavorting throughout it.

The clever theme of the Flame Tree Barbecue restaurant is predator and prey – prey are painted on the tables and predators on the chairs. Pizzafari’s dining rooms each have different themes. One room is dedicated to animals that hide in their environment. Another room is dedicated to animals that carry their houses on their backs like turtles, snails and hermit crabs. One room is based on animals that hang upside down.

Pizzafari (c) Disney

For Safari Village, Imagineer Joe Rohde wanted to create a place no one had ever seen before. There are nine separate color schemes on Pizzafari alone.

“Jenna Goodman and I said, ‘You want it bright? We can do bright’.” said senior show designer Katie Olson. “When we did color design for Harambe we pored over books of photographs, trying to make sure we were rendering exact copies of a village in Kenya.

“Safari Village has a little bit of a tropical feelings but we just said, ‘I think lime green would look really good with this color’ and we tried it. At first, it was a little difficult breaking all the rules, but once we got into the rhythm of it, it became a really fun project.

“It didn’t have to be recognizable as anywhere in particular and that gives you a lot of freedom. But you have to still respect the form of the architecture. We used a lot of Caribbean color and references like Mexican wedding dresses and Oaxacan carved animals. If the color design successfully supports the overall story we are telling, the environment becomes that much more magical for our guests.”

Designers journeyed to Mexico to find basket weavers who could fashion wicker kangaroos to hold merchandise. In Oaxaca, Mexico, four hours down a dirt and boulder road, they found a family that carves and paints fantastically shaped animals. Imagineers ordered 300 bats, 120 bugs and 150 butterflies to hang in Pizzafari.

Principal production designer Ken Gomes actually relocated to Bali to oversee the production of more than one hundred hand-carved articles that were shipped to Florida for the Animal Kingdom each month. Gomes became part of village life, attending weddings and funerals and acquiring the native name of Wayan (“second-born”) Sin Ken Ken (“no problem”).

“The sense of community is refreshing,” said Gomes. “The talent and skill in Bali are incredible resources. They don’t realize how gifted they are.”

*  *  *  *  *

Thanks, Jim! Safari Village was renamed Discovery Island in December 2000, obviously because of the Discovery River but perhaps partly in homage to the old area of this name between the Contemporary Resort and the Wilderness Lodge.

And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, Call Me Walt, and his Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, all published by Theme Park Press.

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest!!

June 1, 2018   No Comments

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Walt Disney World Hidden History

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

YOUR PERSONAL DISNEY LIBRARY (6)

By Jim Korkis

When I bought the first volume of this book in 2010, I immediately wrote to Kevin to tell him how jealous I was over the title which I thought was a perfect way to describe some of the details that could be found at Walt Disney World. I wish I had thought of it for one of my own books.

This second edition contains all the gems from the first printing but with additional treasures as well. More importantly, it is better laid out and contains several color photos on each of the 135 or so pages to better illustrate the details being discussed.

It is important to realize that this is not a cohesive narrative but a scattering of nuggets that can be read in any order. He has a general chapter on Walt Disney World and then individual chapters devoted to each of the four theme parks.

Each detail is one paragraph long but some of those paragraphs are fairly lengthy. The end of the book includes several extras: A listing of the opening and closing dates of WDW attractions, a complete listing of the names on the Main Street U.S.A. windows (but no description of who these people are), and a four page chapter on the some of the hidden history details of Universal Studios Florida.

Kevin Yee is a former Disneyland cast member (for over ten years), author and blogger who writes about travel, tourism, and theme parks in Central Florida. He is a founding member of MiceAge (where his columns still sometime appear) and has written numerous articles and books about Disney parks since 1997.

He is also a faculty administrator at the University of South Florida and holds a Ph.D. in German Literature from UC Irvine and for years has kept his two worlds separate. His students are often unaware of his long interest in Disney and his Disney fans are sometimes clueless about his academic background.

I am particularly fond of his 2013 book The Original Grimms: Highlights of the 1810 Manuscript, where he translated the original manuscript of well known fairy tales before they got watered down and edited in the more commonly known versions. Of course, many of these tales later got translated into Disney animated feature films so there is a sort of “cross-over” that may entertain Disney fans as well. Yee teaches a popular Honors Seminar entitled Fairy Tales From Disney to Grimms and Beyond.

There are hundreds of fascinating entries in the WDW Hidden History book with three or four appearing on each page. Whether tribute or remnant, each item discussed starts with something visible in today’s parks. Yee’s idea is that this is something you could visit and see with your own eyes today, and then appreciate the historical thinking behind it being there. He captured several things I had never noticed which once again proves that no one can know everything about Disney.

Other books by Kevin you might explore include Magic Quizdom and 101 Things You Never Knew About Disneyland (both focused solely on Disneyland), Mouse Trap: Memoir of a Disneyland Cast Member, and the Unofficial WDW Earbook series.

*  *  *  *  *

Thanks, Jim! And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, Call Me Walt, and his Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, all published by Theme Park Press.

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest!!

May 25, 2018   No Comments

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Toy Story Land

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

TOY STORY LAND IN DISNEY’S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

By Jim Korkis

Variations of Toy Story Land that were inspired by the popular Pixar movie franchise exist at Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland and at Shanghai Disneyland.

In 2015, it was announced that a Toy Story Land would be built on eleven acres at Disney’s Hollywood Studios near the area already designated as Pixar Place, and would open summer of 2018. (It will open June 30–Dave.)

(c) Disney

According to Disney publicity, in addition to Toy Story Midway Mania! that already opened in 2008 and expanded to include a third track in 2016 (and supposedly is under Andy’s bed), the land would feature the following:

“Toy Story Land. In Andy’s backyard, guests are shrunk to the size of their favorite toys and invited to join Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie and the rest of the Toy Story gang for a larger than life adventure among giant building blocks and game board pieces. It’s the perfect setting for toys of all kinds to gather together for an experience that’s more fun than a Barrel of Monkeys.

“Alien Swirling Saucers. Andy has collected enough game tickets at Pizza Planet to get the Alien Swirling Saucers (Home Edition), which has now landed (pun intended) in his backyard. The game features Alien-driven flying saucers whipping rockets around four turntables while “The Claw” looms ominously overhead, seemingly ready to nab those who are ‘chosen’.

“Slinky Dog Dash. Andy built Slinky Dog Dash with his Dodge & Dash Mega Coaster Kit. Instead of using the coaster that came in the box, he decided to put his Slinky toy on the tracks. The result is a family-friendly thrill adventure that whooshes around curves, up hills and down drops as it winds around the backyard.”

According to Imagineer Kathy Mangum, Toy Story Land was inspired by the overwhelming guest response to Cars Land at Disney California Adventure.

“As all of you know, here in Anaheim, we’ve been quite successful with taking immersive experiences to a whole new level as we did with Cars Land. In fact, one of our favorite stories from opening day is that we overheard a little boy asking his mom, ‘Is this where they filmed the Cars movie?’” Magnum said.

“That’s exactly how we want people to feel – like they’ve stepped onto the set of their favorite film … like the quaint town of Radiator Springs or, in the case of ‘Toy Story,’ the wild and adventurous outdoors of Andy’s backyard.”

The idea behind the Slinky Dog Dash was to have a family friendly coaster but also to take advantage of the fact that Andy has a big imagination, so would have incorporated some of his other toys into the standard design, and made the coils stretch to their limits.

For Alien Swirling Saucers, “As you rotate around the toy planets and satellites as part of the game, you’ll swirl to the beat of fun ‘Space Jazz’ music developed just for this experience,” Mangum said. “The music, the lighting, and the sound effects will add to the flurry of your adventure while ‘The Claw’ looms ominously over you.”

The entrance to the new land will be through the area that originally held Soundstage 4, where walk-through experiences like The Making of the Haunted Mansion Movie, a set from the live action version of 101 Dalmatians, two different versions of the Journey into Narnia, and the Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow were presented.

Woody’s Lunch Box is the quick service food and beverage location. Andy has taken a vintage Woody themed lunch box and propped it open with a thermos. Scattered about the area are toys, items from the lunch box, and a book. A green army man keeps a lookout for Andy’s return to grab a snack.

*  *  *  *  *

Thanks, Jim! For more on touring Disney’s Hollywood Studios after Toy Story Land opens, see this.

Lovely wife Amy Girl and I will be seeing Toy Story Land by using the Club Level  extra FastPass+ deal:

And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, Call Me Walt, and his Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, all published by Theme Park Press.

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest!!

May 18, 2018   No Comments

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: The Verses of Fantasia Gardens

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

THE EIGHTEEN HOLE VERSES OF FANTASIA GARDENS

By Jim Korkis

For those so engrossed in not exceeding the six-stroke limit per hole, or so entranced by the audio or visual treats that getting the ball in the hole might produce, that you might have missed it, here is the complete verse for each hole at the Walt Disney World Fantasia Gardens mini-golf near the Swan and Dolphin resorts, as written by Imagineer Robert Coltrin, WDI concept designer for the course.

(c) Disney

Tocatta and Fugue

1.  Our musical game has just begun/And here comes treble for everyone/Up to the top the ball must run/For any hope of a hole-in-one.

2.  The notes upon the staff you see/May seem quite lovely musically/But now as you begin to play/You’ll see they may get in your way.

3.  Before our little fugue concludes/The music swells and changes mood/Avoid the rests and you will hear/Chimes a-ringing sweet and clear.

Nutcracker Suite

4.  Spring is here and just beyond/Blossoms float upon the pond/The open bud should be your goal/Its dainty petals surround the hole.

5.  These lively mushrooms circle ‘round/While one is hopping up and down/At the feet little Hop Low/Is where you want the ball to go.

6.  As Winter arrives, the fairies create/A frost-covered pond where they can skate/Their path on the left is where it should roll/Then watch as it waltzes down to the hole.

7.  And so this musical suite we close/Amidst the flurry of winter snows/Weather the storm where snowflakes fall/Or easily putt around them all.

Pastoral Symphony

8.  Within Mount Olympus this opus unfolds/And what mythological creatures it holds!/When putting the ball, be careful to go/Straight through the pillars to the caverns below.

9.  The impish faun loves to tease/As he plays his pipes with ease/So if you putt straight and true/Perhaps he’ll play a tune for you.

10.  In all of the land there’s no one more raucous/Than this fellow here, the infamous Bacchus/He’s poured you a path that you simply putt up/Hit it just right and it spills to the cup.

Dance of the Hours

11.  You will notice in a glance/These graceful ladies love to dance/This bird ballet is lovely, but/They may distract you as you putt.

12.  And there, the dance grows even greater/Enter now: Ben Ali Gator/With hippo high, he strains beneath/Now simply putt between his teeth.

13.  After they dance their amusing duet/Hyacinth Hippo will now pirouette/Carefully watch as she spins here for you/Time it just right and the ball will go through.

14.  Twilight brings a mood of romance/The perfect time for an elephant dance/So while she strikes this beautiful pose/Aim for the path beneath her toes.

15.  Before we can finish this silly ballet/This fanciful fountain is ready to spray/So keep an eye out for each little jet/They’re hopping and hoping to get the ball wet.

Sorcerer’s Apprentice

16.  Mickey’s in trouble for casting a spell/Meant to assist him in filling the well/Now armies of brooms with a water supply/Are ready to douse anything that goes by.

17.  When Mickey is dreaming, he’s brave and he’s brash/Conducting the stars and creating a splash/From high on a cliff, he’s on top of it all/He’ll show you his stuff when you’re putting the ball.

18.  The wave has grown bigger, with magic it stirs/When up from the bottom, a whirlpool occurs/A putt to the left will spin it, and then/We hope you’ll return here again and again!

*  *  *  *  *

Thanks, Jim! For more from Jim on Fantasia Gardens, see this. And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, Call Me Walt, and his Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, all published by Theme Park Press.

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest!!

May 11, 2018   No Comments