Thursday, March 24, 2011
The mascot for the Blizzard Beach water park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is a cold-blooded (in the reptile sense) fellow named Ice Gator. He is in good company with other characters created for Disney Parks, including Epcot's Figment the dragon, and the Magic Kingdom's Country Bears. This bobble head of Ice Gator was sold through a Disney online discount outlet years ago.
Blizzard Beach is "a melting ski resort", which is an incredibly creative theme for a water park.
This great artwork featuring Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Minnie chilling with their cool new friends was created by artist Larry Nikolai for the "Suitable for Framing" section of the Spring 1995 issue of The Disney Magazine (a publication known for many years as "Disney News").
Blizzard Beach opened at Walt Disney World in 1995, and was designed to relieve the crowds at Disney's River Country water park (opened in 1976 and closed down for good in 2001) and Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park (which opened in 1989).
Blizzard Beach is heavily themed (yes, it has a ski lift!). I have to admit that I've never been to the park, but it looks really cool. I'd say ice cold!
Walt Disney Imagineering reportedly had a few more concepts for a water park (I really wonder what they were!), but the ski theme won everyone over after artist Tim Kirk created a drawing of an alligator character on skis (who later became Ice Gator).
Hopefully the snowy setting will trick your brain into not thinking about how hot it really is in the summer!
Walt Disney Imagineering creates detailed models for all the attractions they design. Here an Imagineer works on the model for Mount Gushmore and the Summit Plummet ride at Blizzard Beach. This picture is from a Fall 1995 issue of The Disney Magazine, featured in a story called "So You Want to Be an Imagineer?"
The Spring 1995 issue of The Disney Magazine had a nice story called "Surf's Up At New Disney "Ski" Resort" written by David J. Fisher about how Blizzard Beach was created. Fisher got the scoop from the folks that designed the park, including Eric Jacobson (senior vice president at Walt Disney Imagineering), Mark Gold (project engineer) and Kathy Rogers (show producer).
I'm not sure if the young alligators shown here (with Imagineers) have names.
Ice Gator has been known to greet visitors to Blizzard Beach. I'm guessing that his outfit is water-proof.
Ice Gator is fed well on a daily basis, so children can safely interact with this alligator.
Ice Gator has been featured on quite a bit of merchandise, including the ever-popular collectible pins.
Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park added its own alligator mascot, Lagoona Gator, in 1998 (basically a red surfer version of Ice Gator).
I found a "water and snowflake" filled Blizzard Beach tumbler at a store called Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama many years ago (much of the water has evaporated). If you have ever lost a suitcase, the bag and its contents may have been sent to Unclaimed Baggage Center. I've seen items from all over the world here, sold at a discounted price. Oprah Winfrey even did a show about the place.
If you ever visit Unclaimed Baggage Center, be sure to check out the mini-museum showcasing some of the unusual items discovered there. Fans of Jim Henson's "Labyrinth" film should get a kick out of seeing part of one of the puppets of the character Hoggle from the movie on display.
Friday, March 18, 2011
See Sea World San Diego (by the seashore)! I've never had the chance to visit the original Sea World in California, which debuted in 1964. I love this advertising artwork, which was featured in a park brochure I picked up during a vacation to Anaheim back in 1993.
Like all the Sea World parks (except the one in Ohio, which closed down years ago) the San Diego home of Shamu and his aquatic friends continues to expand and change.
Sea World was once primarily known for its animal shows, but the chain eventually started adding rides and other types of attractions. In California, these include Journey to Atlantis (a water flume/roller coaster hybrid that is different from the ride of the same name at Sea World Orlando), Shipwreck Rapids (a raft ride), Wild Artic (motion simulator) and the Sky Tower (an observation tower). Sesame Street's Bay of Play is a new area featuring rides for kids. There's also a "4-D" film featuring the Sesame Street characters called "Lights, Camera, Imagination 4-D" (this same film is shown at Universal Studios Japan, where it is called "Sesame Street 4-D Movie Magic").
For 2012, Sea World in California will add "Manta," a new Mack launched roller coaster. Sea World in Florida opened a different Flying Coaster called "Manta" in 2009.
The "Manta" attractions are not just rides---they also feature themed animal exhibits.
A few years back, I was addicted to a computer game called "SeaWorld Adventure Parks Tycoon 2" from Activision (it was like Roller Coaster Tycoon, but featured Sea World branded rides and animal exhibits). I also spent lots of time playing Roller Coaster Tycoon 3, and the expansion Packs ("Soaked" which featured water slides, and "Wild!" which included animals).
I only stopped playing because my PC bit the dust.
SeaWorld has penguins, and it's easy to come up with a ride for them.
Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom had a river rapids ride called "Penguin's Blizzard River," which featured the villain from Batman and his (fiberglass statue) bird friends. Kentucky Kingdom and Six Flags parted ways, and the Penguin had to leave, so they could do this at Sea World now (with real birds).
What about dolphins? Sea World's Aquatica water park in Orlando has already combined a dolphin exhibit with a water slide.
The Dolphin Plunge tube slides at Aquatica go through a tank of Commerson's Dolphins. I bet this entertains the dolphins.
Did Sea World have eagles at some point?
Sea Eagles maybe? I can't see them getting their own ride at SeaWorld. They could do a themed Dive Coaster called "The Pelican."
Has Sea World ever had a Seahorse Carousel? That could be nice. I guess an Octopus themed Octopus spinning ride might be too obvious.
Sesame Street's Bay of Play does have an "Elmo's Flying Fish" ride.
I miss the old Sea World logo.
Sorry, this coupon expired in 1993.
SeaWorld, I am up for the challenge of coming up with your next big ride: "Manatee!"
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Walt Disney's animated version of Alice in Wonderland continues to have a life beyond the 1951 film. The characters appear in commercials, television shows, theme parks, movies, and merchandise. "Not your ordinary looking glass" is from a series of Funhouse mirror shirts sold in the Disney Catalog years ago (the line also featured a shirt featuring the Seven Dwarfs and one featuring Mickey Mouse and friends).
The Disney Catalog and Disney Store rarely missed a chance to celebrate a film's anniversary. Or its un-birthday, in the case of Alice in Wonderland.
Everyone will know that you are a little bit mad when you hang this on your front door. Or that you are a Disney fanatic. Or a Lewis Carroll groupie.
Don't let the Mad Hatter or the March Hare near this dish. They'll break it, and it is a collector's item.
Don't eat off this plate. Just look at it.
This lamp will help you read in the golden afternoon, or at night.
These flower characters along with the Tiger Lilly, Daffodil and Dandelion would be great mascots for the annual Walt Disney World Flower and Garden Festival.
The Cheshire Cat is major merchandising character. The White Rabbit is not seen as much, because he is always late to meetings with Disney Consumer Products.
These toys are from 1996. I think this is one of the best Cheshire Cat plushes I've seen.
The Alice in Wonderland characters have a good sense of humor, which is a good thing to see on a T-shirt.
How about "Alice in Down Under Land," with the characters dressed for a trip in the Outback?
It's pretty easy to build your own Wonderland with snow globes.
You can find some high-roller collectibles, too!
How about a Swarovski Cheshire Cat pin to wear to the fanciest restaurant in town? Or maybe a high-society cat show?
The Cheshire Cat is one of Alice's best frenemies.
Who needs a GPS system when you have directions like these to work with?
Martha Stewart would approve of a dinner served on these Alice in Wonderland dishes. Or maybe she wouldn't. Who cares?
The large figures of the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit (with the watch) are a bit of a mystery, as they are not mentioned in the Catalog.
If you have the Queen of England over for tea, she'll get a kick out of your Alice in Wonderland cookie jar and tea set.
I love the character designs here!
There's also a fancy, classy Jenga-like stacking tea set, too.
Here's a courtroom scene snow globe! I think this is from the short-lived Disney TV series, "Alice McBeal." Calista Flockhart played Alice, Judge Judy provided the voice of the Queen of Hearts and James Spader was the voice of the White Rabbit.
If you've ever wanted one of the figures from Disneyland's Alice in Wonderland ride, this is probably the closest thing you can get.
If you get this, you might want to warn any guests sleeping over that the eyes and teeth glow in the dark at night.
Here's a "Drink Me" snow globe.
I wonder why they didn't make a snow globe based on the plot point where Alice had to eat something...
Hasbro released some Disney Wild Racers die cast cars of the Mad Hatter and Cheshire Cat in 2002.
Hat Rod (the Mad Hatter) and Invisible Incinerator (Cheshire Cat) were tough to find!
Disney Wild Racers were dropped from retail toy store chains at about the same time these characters were released. Disneyland and Walt Disney World later sold these cars packaged individually as Disney Racers.
The cars were later re-released as a two-pack at the Disney Parks and Disney's online store for the debut of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland in 2010.
A simple paint job transforms the original Disney Mad Hatter into Johnny Depp's character, and Sterling Holloway's Cheshire Cat into the blue CGI version from the newer movie.
The Mock Turtle and Gryphon were not in any of Disney's films, but they starred in a Disney Jell-O commercial in the 1950s!
The Mock Turtle character was based on a real dish from author Lewis Carroll's time. "Mock Turtle Soup" was made using a calf's head. That is kind of gross, but the character has always been appealing to me. I'd love to see Disney revive the Gryphon and the Mock Turtle!
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Welcome to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida. It's the year 2015, so we can visit the newly expanded and refurbished Fantasyland.
Snow globe Fantasyland is made up of merchandise that appeared in the Disney Catalog from 2000 to 2005.
You can take the train at the entrance of the Magic Kingdom to get to Fantasyland (after a stop at the train station in Frontierland) or you can just walk down Main Street, U.S.A. to Cinderella Castle (you can't miss it).
Cinderella Castle is the gateway to Fantasyland.
I wouldn't count on seeing Hercules or Esmeralda here, unless they are in a parade in front of Cinderella Castle.
Cinderella Castle is 189 feet tall and features a restaurant called Cinderella's Royal Table, where you'll probably find Cinderella. Only a lucky few have stayed at the Cinderella Castle Suite, a special bedroom inside the castle.
After you walk through Cinderella Castle, you'll find the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel (formerly Cinderella's Golden Carousel).
Mickey's Philharmagic is a great 3D film adventure starring a mix of new and classic computer animated Disney characters. Fantasia is not the main focus here, but I thought this snow globe was really impressive (plus Mickey's Sorcerer hat and the brooms are prominently featured in Mickey's Philharmagic).
Despite the title, Donald Duck is the main star here.
You can fly, you can fly, you can fly to Neverland with the help of Tinkerbell on Peter Pan's Flight.
Journey to the second star to the right and watch out for Captain Hook!
I'd love to see an Aladdin Magic Carpet ride like Peter Pan's Flight.
It's A Small World has a very famous (infamous?) theme song.
This snow globe is actually Disneyland's version.
The Pinocchio Village Haus is a favorite dining spot for many Fantasyland visitors. Many people have fond memories of eating Figaro Fries here.
A few of the tables have a view of the Small World loading station.
Beauty and the Beast are featured in a major new section of Fantasyland.
Stroll through Belle's Village and visit Bonjour! Gifts and Gaston's Tavern.
Off in the distance is the Beast's Castle.
Step inside the Beast's Castle and let the kitchen utensils entertain you at the Be Our Guest Restaurant.
The Beast has thousands of plates, cups, dishes, forks, spoons, and knives that were once human and they really want you to use them. They're not whole without a soul to wait upon.
Travel "Under the Sea" with The Little Mermaid on Ariel's Undersea Adventure, a new musical dark ride.
Ariel and her friends (and foes) are brought to life through the magic of Audio Animatronics.
You'll see slugs cutting a rug and trout rockin' out! Sebastian the Crab and his crustacean band will make you envy all the creatures living in the depths of the ocean. So you've got to decide when you'll visit them.
To quote Ursula the sea witch, "Life's full of tough choices, innit?"
Also new to Fantasyland is a new Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs themed Mine Train.
I can't believe how much this snow globe looks like the concept art for the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction.
Of all the new Fantasyland additions, this is the one I'm most excited about.
This new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train means the end of Snow White's Scary Adventures in Fantasyland.
Snow White is leaving her old home and inviting all the Disney Princesses to occupy the space for the Princess Fairytale Hall, a new meet and greet location.
I would have liked a Sleeping Beauty dark ride here instead, featuring Aurora, Phillip, the Goons, and a finale with Maleficent the Dragon!
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is a ride featuring the popular hunny-loving bear and his friends in the Hundred Acre Woods.
Watch out for Heffalumps and Woozles!
Have a spot of tea with Alice and her friends in Wonderland at the Mad Tea Party.
On second thought, don't consume any food items before riding this!
Dumbo the Flying Elephant has a new home called Storybook Circus.
There are now two Dumbo rides (Dueling Dumbos) to increase the capacity for this famous attraction.
Guests find circus themed entertainment under the Big Top while they wait for a spin on Dumbo.
The Casey Junior Circus Train provides an opportunity for kids to let off some steam.
Storybook Circus is located on the former site of Mickey's Toontown Fair (formerly Mickey's Starland and before that, Mickey's Birthdayland).
Circus clowns threatened to take control of Goofy's Barnstormer, but their plans to re-theme the coaster were thwarted by the Great Goofini (Goofy as performing pilot, the new theme for the Barnstormer).
This is not a snow globe, but I thought this was really funny.