As the boats enter the mansion, the ride's theme song is played.
"You're invited/to a picnic/monster picnic/but humans are allowed today, too!
Join the monsters at the mansion---
Glad you came inside/relax, enjoy the ride!"
The first characters seen on The Monster Mansion are new additions. Papa Razzi instructs us to make our best monster faces, then with the help of his bird friend, Nestor, he snaps our picture.
Papa Razzi and Nestor were introduced in 2009. Previously, the space they occupied was very dark, and consisted of floating furniture (the mansion is supposed to be flooded). There was a contest to name the new picture-taking monster. I entered, but cannot remember the name I submitted.
Up next is our hostess, Mizzy Scarlett. She is kind of crazy, and the only human-like monster in the ride. She and her little monster dog, Tatty-too (remember, the TV show Fantasy Island was big when these two characters debuted in 1981) welcome us back to the Mansion. Her dog barks and Mizzy tells us that "Tatty-too says, stay out of the marsh!"
Papa Razzi's picture is displayed on a large TV screen near Mizzy. There used to be a window where the TV is now, looking "outdoors" at all the monsters. Of course, you can buy the picture you see here at the gift shop after you get off the ride.
Our boat pushes through two large doors and goes "outside" to the monster picnic.
Riding on spouts of water are multi-colored new Mansion monsters named Splish, Splash and Squirt (I don't know which one is which).
Playing some odd-sounding Dixieland Jazz is a colorful band called the Lagoon Goons. A new feature to their area is a bubble machine and some colorful flashing lights.
Gone from this section is a large, fat bird character on a statue. The statue was relocated to the ride's graveyard scene, but the bird is missing.
Some new bullfrog characters named Bull, Ribbit and Croak spit water right above our boat (these are "leapfrog" fountains. Clever!)
We then meet Marshall Billy Bob Fritter, and his monster dog, Fritter Bitter. Billy Bob tells us to keep our hands inside the boat, and not to go near the marsh (our second warning!).
A mother monster swings in a tree with her children, and some monster children called the Banner Brats welcome us humans to the party. A Nanny monster tends to some monster babies (the big fat one is named Big Huey). A curious little monster named Calvin discovers a gopher popping up out of the ground. Flying overhead is the ride's propeller-beanie wearing mascot, Buzby.
Talk about sensory overload! There is so much going on here, and in the many years I've ridden this attraction, I've never gotten pictures of all the characters.
In 1981, Six Flags Over Georgia opened a boat ride called The Monster Plantation. Passengers float past dozens of comical and menacing animatronic monsters. This attraction was developed by many former (and some current) Disney Imagineers.
In 2009, The Monster Plantation became The Monster Mansion. The monsters got refinished, and some new characters were added. There are now new special effects, sets, lighting, audio, and even the exterior got a bit of an upgrade.
Shown here is the exterior and the load/unload area. I'll be posting pictures from 1985, 2008 and 2009. I'm sure many eagle-eyes will spot the changes.
In 1985, Disney entered the world of TV series animation with two new shows---The Wuzzles and The Gummi Bears. The Wuzzles debuted on CBS, and were based on a hybrid animal line of toys. The Gummi Bears premiered on NBC and were based on...candy! The shows also competed against each other. The Gummi Bears won, and lasted quite a while. In 1990, they were part of the launch of the syndicated Disney Afternoon.
Disney's Gummi Bears were bouncing characters that lived among dragons, trolls, ogres, castles, gargoyles, knights, mermaids, magic and myths. They traveled around in cars through roller coaster-like tunnels which seemed ideal for a ride in Fantasyland at a Disney park to me. Alas, the only theme park attraction they got involved plywood character cut-outs along Disneyland's old Motorboat Cruise as part of the temporary "Afternoon Avenue" event at Disneyland in California promoting the syndicated shows.
Legendary Disney Artist Ken Anderson (his credits include Snow White, Fantasia, The Jungle Book and 101 Dalmatians) did this artwork for The Gummi Bears, which was featured in the August/September 1991 issue of a magazine called Storyboard: The Art of Laughter.
Last night, I had a dream that the company I have worked for since 1999 closed its doors.
I just discovered that I will only be working half a day tomorrow. We are not closing---things are just unfortunately slow right now.
I am constantly amazed and bewildered at how much can be learned from paying attention to dreams. They really can warn you of trouble ahead.
In this case, none of this was surprising. Other folks at my workplace have had hours cut recently. This was just the first time it has happened to me.
On the bright side, I guess now is a good time to finally start selling collectibles on Ebay. I have been putting this off for years. I have a Gizmo (from the Gremlins movie) Furby still in the box that I'll sell off. How about a Fargo movie snow globe? Hopefully that didn't freeze in my garage.
I can also put some more time into some artistic assignments that I am working on, like paintings I'm doing for a friend's house (circus animals for his son's room). It would be great if projects like this lead to an exciting new future.
I have this lyric from Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress show stuck in my head:
"There's a great big beautiful tomorrow, just a dream away!"
Oh, the monkeys seen here are from something I'm working on for my cute little Squirrel Monkey character seen on my blog header.
The Land Pavilion at Walt Disney World's Epcot in Florida features a boat ride called Living With the Land. This used to be called Listen to the Land, and it opened in 1982 when Epcot debuted. It used to have a groovy theme song, but that was ditched when the ride got a new name and slight makeover in 1993.
With the closure of The World of Motion and Horizons, the number of Audio Animatronics figures in Epcot has been reduced drastically in recent years. The monkeys, birds, and other small animated animals here are among the few original Epcot animatronic survivors.
Shortly after the rainforest scene, the boats climb up a steep lift hill, then drop down a thrilling 90 foot waterfall plunge into a greenhouse below.
They don't really do that, but wouldn't that be insane if they did?
The boats do travel through a greenhouse, though, where all sorts of plants and fish are grown in mind-boggling, spine-tingling ways.
There is a rotating restaurant called The Garden Grill that overlooks the sections of the ride containing animatronic wildlife. This used to be called The Good Turn Restaurant (1982-1986) then The Land Grille Room (1986-1993). I have never eaten here, and regret not doing so.
Back in my day, we didn't have any confusing Internets or computers with fancy gizmos and flashing lights. We wrote letters on paper, and sent them in an envelope with a stamp. We waited weeks or months for a response, and we liked it!
Well, we didn't know any better.
I love the Internet, and wish I had it when I was younger.
The Disney Channel used to distribute The Disney Channel Magazine, and that publication featured a column with Disney Archivist Dave Smith. You could write in letters with questions, and he would answer them.
None of my questions were ever printed, but Dave Smith always did write a response to me in the form of great letters! Many of these letters were printed on nifty Disney stationary, too.
In June of 1993, my Dad had to go on a business trip to Anaheim, California and he brought me along. I had just graduated high school, and was excited about flying across the United States to visit Disneyland for the third time.
I also got to visit The Walt Disney Studios and have lunch with Dave Smith. It was very exciting!
Here I am with Dave Smith at The Walt Disney Studios in June of 1993. Good times!
I am wearing yet another Splash Mountain shirt in this picture---this one was from Walt Disney World.
In 1991, a young Imagineer named Chris Oliver was working on Walt Disney World's Splash Mountain, and noticed my letters in the Archives. Imagine my shock when he wrote me! After I had lunch with Dave Smith, I got to meet up with Chris on this trip, too!
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad debuted in Frontierland at Disneyland in California in 1979. This attraction is a mine train roller coaster through a highly themed mountain filled with special effects and animated animals.
Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain was inspired by Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. My favorite "character" on this ride is an animatronic goat that is chewing dynamite. The goat is also visible on the walkway from Frontierland to Fantasyland. I had to zoom in to get a picture!
Walt Disney World's Big Thunder Mountain opened at Frontierland in the Magic Kingdom in 1980. This version and later versions in Tokyo and Paris were based on the rocky formations in Monument Valley in Arizona and Utah.
The Walt Disney World version features a flooded mining town called Tumbleweed. Tumbleweed is also visible from the Walt Disney World Railroad, and features animated animals and people. When I was a kid, I thought the donkeys were real! Because there is so much going on here, and you pass by so quickly, there are many details you don't catch all at once. The pigs here include copies of pigs from Pirates of the Caribbean and a sitting pig seen in Epcot's World of Motion. The Bobcat on the cactus was being chased by wild pigs, and was based on a scene from The Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland (another mine train attraction that was at Disneyland in California before Big Thunder Mountain took over). There is also a roadrunner and a snake in Tumbleweed based on a scene from Nature's Wonderland. Maybe these animated animals were actually used in the Nature's Wonderland ride---does anyone know?
I have never been to Tokyo Disneyland or Disneyland Paris, so I am curious how their Big Thunder Mountain Railroads compare.
I really like the mining town scene in Florida, but overall I prefer California's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I think the "rock candy" mountain is very charming, and I enjoy how the line to wait for the ride weaves under the railroad tracks and right past the dinosaur bones. I'm also a fan of the tortoises seen to the left on the second lift hill and the section with the howling coyotes. And I LOVE riding it at night!
I really miss Epcot's Horizons attraction. Horizons was a dark ride that opened in 1983 and closed on and off between 1994 and 1999. Horizons was eventually torn down to make room for the thrilling Mission: Space that opened in 2003.
Horizons entertained visitors with a fantastic look at what the future could have looked like.
I must admit that I did think Horizons seemed outdated on my last ride. However, it was very imaginative, and was just massive in scale. I think an upgrade would have been nicer than tearing the whole thing down. They could have put Mission: Space elsewhere in the park.
Horizons had a large Audio Animatronics cast of characters. When I saw the Sealab 2021 show on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim years ago, my mind thought of Horizons, and its vision of the future.
Brainstorm: Disney, make a Horizons animated series!!! It would have to be a comedy.
I believe this animatronic cat was endlessly watching a jumping animatronic fish. This was a very minor background show scene, and I'm sure most people didn't even notice it. I did, though!
This may be one of the funniest things I have ever seen.
I think most everyone is familiar with the "interactive" children's book, "Pat the Bunny," which debuted in 1940 and featured elements like soft "rabbit fur" and a mirror.
The Ren & Stimpy Show, a "Nicktoon" that debuted in 1991, was great fun because it did not play by the rules. John Kricfalusi's wild characters and their twisted shenanigans no doubt made Nickelodeon nervous.
My favorite episode was "Space Madness," in which Ren the Chihuahua went off the deep end as only he could.
"Pat the Stimpy" debuted in 1993. I bought this for $1 at Books-A-Million many years ago. It is missing the sock feature, but I did not care.