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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Euro Disney Resort McDonald's Happy Meal

Once Upon a Time, there was a place in France called the Euro Disney Resort.  It opened outside of Paris in April of 1992.  McDonald's in Europe released Happy Meal Toys to promote the new Euro Disneyland theme park.  This set of vehicles is charming and highly animated.  It is also kind of unusual and fascinating.

The first thing to notice is that Mickey Mouse is nowhere to be seen.  My guess is that, aside from Chip and Dale (who are riding Frontierland's Big Thunder Mountain), they wanted European based characters.  Also, this set represents the lands of Euro Disneyland (Main Street, Frontierland, Adventureland, and Fantasyland) but does not include anything for Discoveryland (the park's version of Tomorrowland).  At the time these toys were made, McDonald's followed a formula of 4 toys for 4 weeks pretty strictly (especially for European sets).

Pongo from 101 Dalmatians rides in Main Street USA's fire truck.  Pongo's head moves from side to side when the car rolls forward.  The front of the vehicle and the bell in the back moves as well.

101 Dalmatians was one of the biggest Disney brands represented at McDonald's.  There were literally hundreds of different, individual 101 Dalmatians toys created for the restaurant chain during the 1990s.

Chip and Dale (as well as pieces on the train) bob around on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Frontierland at Euro Disneyland is also home to Phantom Manor, the park's Western version of The Haunted Mansion.

Captain Hook from Peter Pan represents Adventureland, home to Pirates of the Caribbean and Adventure Isle.

As with the rest of Euro Disneyland, the park's attractions were modified for the European market.  Adventureland was designed to sit next to Fantasyland, so there was a smooth transition from Adventure Isle (a pirate replacement for Tom Sawyer Island) to Peter Pan's Flight in Fantasyland.

Tigger takes a spin on the Mad Tea Party in Fantasyland.  This spinning teacup vehicle is, in my opinion, the most impressive of this set.  It is curious that a character from Alice in Wonderland was not used here.  Seriously, the Cheshire Cat would have been perfect (and would also represent Euro Disneyland's exclusive Alice's Curious Labyrinth attraction, which has a major Cheshire Cat landmark feature).

Tigger riding the Teacups strangely predicted the future of Disney Theme Parks.  When Shanghai Disneyland in China opened in 2016, the Winnie the Pooh Hunny Pot Spin replaced the Mad Tea Party concept.

Euro Disney Resort had a major image problem from the time it was announced.  Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons took merciless aim at the park's famous early struggles.  By 1994, Euro Disney Resort changed its name to (the much more romantic) Disneyland Resort Paris.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Six Flags AutoWorld: Totaled Michigan Motor City

In 1984, Six Flags AutoWorld debuted in Flint, Michigan.  Unlike the famous Six Flags parks that feature roller coasters and thrills, AutoWorld was an indoor experience.  It appears to have been sort of a mix of EPCOT's old World of Motion pavilion, plus the original version of its replacement, Test Track.  And it even had a dash of Disneyland's old America Sings animated animal show.

AutoWorld was nothing like the traditional Six Flags parks.  It looked more like a museum or a science center.

Michigan had high hopes for AutoWorld.  Sadly, the new car smell was gone by 1985.

At the time, Six Flags was experimenting and diversifying with new types of attractions that were not traditional amusement parks.

In 1985, another experimental attraction, Six Flags PowerPlant, opened in Baltimore, Maryland.  It also was short-lived (I got to visit the corpse of PowerPlant in 2000, as it had transformed into a shopping center).

Like a mall or a museum, AutoWorld's fun could be had on different levels.

AutoWorld brings to mind the Children's Museum of Indianapolis.

You can actually see Test Track at AutoWorld!  A remote control Test Track, that is.

Was AutoWorld ahead of its time?  Maybe.

The Great Race seems to share DNA with the original version of Walt Disney World's Test Track.

The Humorous History of Auto-Mobility seems very similar to EPCOT's World of Motion.

This attraction screams old school Disney.

Speaking of Disney, AutoWorld had its own mascot.  Not a cartoon car.  That would be too logical.  AutoWorld had a Horse.  A crazy looking horse.  And he hosted the Humorous History of Auto-Mobility.

Fred the Carriageless Horse!  Of course!

Fred existed in some sort of animated, three dimensional form at AutoWorld.  I'm guessing it was a robot.

Fred seems to be a relative of the Old Grey Mare driving a Model T from the 1974 Disneyland Audio Animatronics show, America Sings.

Poor Fred was probably sold to the glue factory.

Six Flags AutoWorld seemed like a clever idea.

I feel like AutoWorld was built in the wrong location, and at the wrong time.

You know that if this was Hot Wheels AutoWorld, or Matchbox AutoWorld, or Disney-PIXAR Cars AutoWorld it would have been a big hit.