In June 2004, I visited a Universal Studios Store at an Outlet Mall in Orlando, Florida, very close to Walt Disney World. I had never been to Universal's Islands of Adventure park, and did not visit on this particular trip. I did manage to find some great souvenirs on sale, and I picked up this PVC figure representing Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls flume ride (no, I did not pay $5 for this figure).
On November 13, 2009, I finally got to Universal's Islands of Adventures. This was the last day of a week-long trip to Orlando. The Marriott Orlando World Center hotel had a special Universal ticket option: A one day, two parks ticket good after 2PM. After visiting CityWalk, and eating at the Hard Rock Cafe, the adventure finally began at Islands of Adventure.
The first stop was Marvel Super Hero Island for the Hulk rollercoaster and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (my favorite Universal attraction). The next stop was Toon Lagoon!
I quickly made my way to Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls. The parks were not very busy that day, but I was trying to experience as much as I could in a short amount of time.
That's me briskly walking past the other visitors. The weather in Orlando had been all over the place that week. It had been very warm and also quite cold. On this day, it was kind of chilly.
On this ride, Dudley Do-Right and his sidekick, Horse, must chase down villain Snidely Whiplash, who has kidnapped damsel-in-distress Nell.
I had been warned that I'd get really wet on this attraction. I got drenched right away.
In case you didn't get soaked earlier in the ride, the final drop will take care of that.
Yikes--that water is cold!!
I was in the front seat, so I stopped the big splash from hitting the rest of the people in the boat.
Universal is no stranger to re-theming or changing major attractions. One (fan) suggestion I had read online for Islands of Adventure that makes sense to me involves Toon Lagoon changing to a video game/Nintendo theme.
A Mario Bros. Plumbers theme for Ripsaw Falls seems like a great idea to me. Mario and Luigi are very popular with kids today (and of course, their parents know the characters, too). It doesn't seem like it would be too difficult to swap out Dudley, Horse, Nell and Snidely for Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and King Bowser.
Don't get me wrong, I had a good time at Toon Lagoon and enjoyed Ripsaw Falls. I think it's OK if people aren't that familiar with Dudley Do-Right. Ripsaw Falls is great fun.
Still, there's lots of possibilities with the Nintendo characters. I have no idea how much money has been spent by my own family members on Mario stuff for kids---but I'm sure it's a big chunk of change.
Darkwing Duck, "the terror that flaps in the night," made his TV debut in 1991 (like so many Disney Afternoon shows, the series had a preview on the Disney Channel in the Spring before heading to syndication in the Fall). The show was also seen on ABC Saturday Mornings. Darkwing Duck was even the star of his own McDonald's Happy Meal.
Well, in New Zealand, circa 1993!
There was no Darkwing Duck Happy Meal in the United States. Darkwing Duck may have been the victim of a change in Disney's fast food promotional partners. Disney had previously partnered with McDonald's in the United States for TV and movie Happy Meals, but that changed in 1991 with a new alliance with Burger King. Burger King's first promotion was for Beauty and the Beast in November of 1991.
However, Disney and McDonald's were still promotional partners in most other countries. For example, McDonald's had a Lion King Happy Meal in Europe to promote the film, but in America, Burger King had a Lion King Kids Club Meal.
New Zealand's Darkwing Duck McDonald's Happy Meal featured four vehicles that revealed characters from the series.
On the far left is Darkwing's Thunderquack Jet, which is piloted by Darkwing Duck himself.
The Ratcatcher Motorcycle is driven by Launchpad McQuack.
It may have been more logical for Launchpad to go with the Thunderquack Jet, since Launchpad was a pilot (though not a good one, as seen in his other Disney TV series, Ducktales).
The bookbag(?) on wheels (maybe it's a trash can?) features Honker Muddlefoot, the show's nerdy character.
Darkwing Duck's daughter Gosalyn sits in what I believe is supposed to be the Ratcatcher motorcycle's sidecar.
Folks in the United States probably remember another Darkwing Duck promotion. Kellogg's cereals had a set of figurines available as an offer through the mail.
Ironically, the Kellogg's Disney Afternoon figures known in America were also offered in McDonald's Happy Meals in other countries!
Darkwing Duck (voiced by Jim Cummings) fought crime with goofy sidekick Launchpad McQuack (Terence McGovern). They are often helped by Darkwing's adopted daughter, Gosalyn (Christine Cavanaugh) and her friend, Honker Muddlefoot (Katie Leigh). They must fight a host of wacky villains, including Megavolt (Dan Castellaneta---the voice of Homer Simpson).
My favorite Darkwing Duck character was one that only had one appearance. It was "The Rubber Chicken," and he was featured in an episode called "Mutancy on the Bouncy." He was an elastic rooster superhero voiced by Corey Burton. I thought the concept of this character was hilarious and that he deserved his own show or movie.
In 1985, Hanna Barbera had an animated TV series called Paw Paws. This was part of The Funtastic World of Hanna Barbera, a rotating syndicated block of shows. I don't really remember much about the show, but a couple of years ago I found these PVC figures (made by Applause) in a bin at a gift shop that seemed to be frozen in time. I had to look up the names of these characters. On the left is Slippery Paw (a villain) and the dog is Pupooch.
This series featured a civilization of tiny Indian bears. Hanna Barbera had a similar show called Biskitts in 1983 featuring a group of tiny dogs in a medieval setting. This was a time when characters like the Smurfs and the Snorks were popular TV shows.
This past spring I found myself back at that same shop frozen in time, so I decided to check the PVC bins. There were no Paw Paws there, but it had been a few years, so I wasn't shocked. I started talking to the friendly owner of the shop (he was the only person in the store) and I explained to him what I had been looking for. He walked from behind the front counter and took me across the store. He opened a drawer underneath a greeting card display.
The drawer was full of Smurfs, Snorks, California Raisins and Paw Paws, and many were in their original containers. The Paw Paws were in a big clear bag, and there were multiples of these characters. From left to right, there's Dark Paw, Brave Paw and Bumble Paw.
There were other Paw Paw figures made, but I'm guessing the store owner just randomly put the figurines in the bins, so they may have been sold twenty years ago!
"The Great Sesame Street ABC Hunt" is a fun hardcover book that I've had for as long as I can remember. Maybe that's because the book debuted the year I was born. This book is quite the time capsule. Sesame Street has changed a great deal since its debut in 1969. For starters, Big Bird used to be the show's main character.
Mr. Hooper's Store was the happening place on Sesame Street. Big Bird frequently mispronounced Mr. Hooper's name. Actor Will Lee (Mr. Hooper) died in 1983. Rather than have the character recast or have him move to Peru, the cast of Sesame Street addressed the death of Mr. Hooper. This is one of the most memorable episodes of the series.
For many years, none of the adults on Sesame Street believed that Big Bird's friend Mr. Snuffleupagus was real.
This was addressed in 1985, when the adults finally saw Mr. Snuffleupagus, and apologized to Big Bird.
This book is "A Me Book." This may have been one of the first presents that I ever got. People rarely call me "Daniel." It seems kinda strange to see that over and over again.
My Grandparents loved getting these personalized books for me. I have a "Fox and the Hound" book and a "Jungle Book" one, too (they are thin, cheaper paperback books). This Sesame Street one is different because it is an actual hardcover book. I had actually forgotten it was "A Me Book" until I opened it up.
It looks like Snuffy is really good at this ABC Hunt. Big Bird has a secret advantage, though---me!!
Big Bird spouts off a lot of knowledge about me in this book. He knows my birthday, my address, and the name of our cat. It's pretty cool for a kid to be included in the story!
Mr. Snuffleupagus, have you really been to Alabama? Well, maybe with Sesame Street on Ice...
With my help, Big Bird does really well on the ABC Hunt!
Oh no, Big Bird! Something tells me Mr. Snuffleupagus is about to ditch you.
No, Snuffy, NOOOOO!!!!!
Mr. Hooper is such a nice guy.
Dig those funky threads the adults are wearing!
As usual, nobody believes Big Bird.
Once again, Snuffy hits the road before the adults can see him. Snuffy is sort of a fair-weather friend.
Yes, Big Bird, I did. Sometimes people only see what they want to see.
I hope you took something from your trip to old-school Sesame Street. I know I did. It was a place where most people dismissed you or didn't believe you. Your authority figures were right and you were silly and foolish for thinking otherwise or challenging them with something they could not understand or see. It's just like how the real world often operates. But YOU knew they were NOT right about everything, and Mr. Snuffleupagus WAS real!
Hanna Barbera characters used to be everywhere. They were on television, at the movies (sometimes), on toys, cereal boxes and books. I can even remember a Dino the dinosaur toy "egg vending machine" at the bowling alley!
The H-B crew could be found at amusement parks, too (Kings Island, Kings Dominion, CaroWinds, Great America, Marineland, Canada's Wonderland, Australia's Wonderland, and Universal Studios Florida (and probably others). Fred Flintstone and friends have been evicted from most of these parks, typically by Snoopy or Nickelodeon characters depending on the time and location.
However, if you really want to see Yogi Bear, you can visit Shipp's Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts all across the United States!
I've been to Chattanooga (yes, aboard a choo-choo!), but I've never been to Jellystone Park. I think the idea is pretty clever.
It looks like there's plenty to do near this location...
I do wonder if there is a Jellystone Park souvenir shop. Maybe they sell Pick-A-Nick Baskets with Yogi's face?