Tag Archives: Throwback Thursday

Disney Buttons of Yesteryear – Throwback Thursday

Disneyland-Mickey-ButtonIf you walk onto any Disney property anywhere in the world, what’s one of the biggest-selling souvenirs? Pins. Cloisonne pins by the truckload, commemorating anything and everything Disney can think up; holidays, characters, special events, attractions – you name it, there’s probably a pin for it. And it’s all supplying the demand; Disney pin collectors are ravenous for those things – and unlike in the ’80s and ’90s before pins were really a thing, you could walk in to the Emporium on Main Street and pick up a cool land pin or whatever for maybe a buck or so; probably less. Today, collectors burn entire credit cards on these things – literally – as they go for well over $10 or $15 much of the time; and that’s off the shelf – in the secondary market among these collectors… sky’s the limit. Take out a loan, kids! It’s crazy!

On this Throwback Thursday, we’re going back to the thing that was a thing before these things were things. I’m talking buttons. Disney very early on began seeing the promotional – as well as souvenir – value in buttons that folks would buy, pin onto their clothes or hats, and wear around the parks and beyond. Free advertising, absolutely; but also, it was a cost-effective way of promoting events, seasons, and even attraction openings in the days long before Twitter and other social media platforms. Hell, we’re talking pre-internet in many cases. Buttons, buttons, buttons – by the handful – next to the registers in the Emporium, Star Trader, or any of the larger shops on Disney property. If memory serves, these little gems usually sold for between $.75 and a buck; in later years, we’d see the price jump to something obscene like $1.50. Now, if any exist, I don’t know what they are – maybe $3 or more.

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Creating Pirates of the Caribbean at WED – Throwback Thursday

Pirates-of-the-Caribbean-Disneyland-WED (3)

Lee Toombs applying detail to a Pirates of the Caribbean figure’s face.

It’s hard to imagine in a way, but Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean attraction is now 48 years old. In today’s world of high-tech attractions and digital wizardry creating media-based effects and ride experiences, Pirates of the Caribbean stands out as one of the greatest ever created. In my own opinion, Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean remains the single greatest attraction ever designed and built, hands down. The fact that Pirates stands up to all other rides and attractions nearly five decades later, is a testament to the vision of Walt Disney and his talented team of designers that he assembled at WED in Glendale, California, to take on this huge project.

Even as a child, I had an affinity for Pirates of the Caribbean. Woe be my family if we arrived at Disneyland to find Pirates listed on the “Attractions Not Operating” board at the ticket booths! In later years, my love of Pirates would grow by leaps and bounds, as that was my first attraction to work on when I became a Disneyland Cast Member in 1988. When you’re brought into the theme park fold at Disney, you’re warned that becoming an employee will likely ruin the “magic”, since you’re about to learn the gritty ins and outs of the operation. Pirates training then was a two day process. Not only did I have to learn the ride system competently, I had to become familiar with the labyrinthine footprint of Pirates itself, which is comprised of two very large multi-level show buildings. It’s very easy to get completely turned around and lost wandering through the Pirates show buildings – so it is essential that Cast Members assigned to working it be very familiar with all aspects of it.

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Toon TERRORtory at Knott’s Scary Farm 1996 – Throwback Thursday

Toon-Terrortory-Knotts-Haunt-1996 (3)This week’s Throwback Thursday takes us back to 1996, to a new maze at Knott’s Scary Farm’s Halloween Haunt called Toon TERRORtory!

Toon TERRORtory was a short-lived attraction, lasting only two years at Halloween Haunt – 1996 and 1997. Guests would enter the maze from Ghost Town; the footprint was in the California Marketplace, roughly where the gate/secondary entrance is today near the base of GhostRider’s lift hill.

In a departure from typical Halloween Haunt mazes, Toon TERRORtory was one of very few “humorous” mazes in the history of the event. Maze designer Todd Faux, along with creative direction and input from Chris Williams (yes, kids, that Chris Williams) created an alternate reality cartoon world for the strange attraction, using well-known characters such as Speed Racer, and Beavis and Butthead, along with pre-war era-inspired monsters/characters as well!

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Indiana Jones Opening at Disneyland 1995 – Throwback Thursday

indiana-jones-opening-disneyland (5)It’s totally surreal writing this, but 20 years ago this week, Indiana Jones Adventure opened at Disneyland, as thousands of excited guests ventured into the subterranean darkness of the Temple of the Forbidden Eye in Adventureland.

I’ve never been so excited to be a theme park fan as I was in those years, months, and final weeks leading up to the opening of Indy at Disneyland. It was a huge deal. There was no social media then – if you wanted to see Indy construction progress, you had to get in your car and drive to Disneyland to check out whatever you could see. We were at Disneyland a lot then, documenting the transformation of Adventureland into the Lost Delta region, as well as the re-positioning of the Monorail to go around the massive show building that Indy lives in. We snapped a lot of pictures back then – of course, they had to be developed and you crossed your fingers that they came out each week or whatever. It was expensive and time consuming; no instant digital image to edit and tweet around the world in seconds. As a result, Theme Park Adventure has a large stack of really cool Indy pictures that has never seen the light of day, even though we used many in our printed publication at the time, The Brake Zone. Luckily, with the advent of Throwback Thursday, we get to share some of our never-before seen images with our TPAers now, two decades after they were taken!

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Disneyland Parking Lot – Throwback Thursday

IMG_20150225_0001Not many people would get excited about parking lot pictures. But when it’s the Disneyland parking lot – then you have fans’ attention, right?!

Today’s Throwback Thursday feature isn’t a deep dive into history or a wordy recollection of the way it was. However, what is cool about the few images we want to share with you, is that they capture a really interesting moment in Disneyland’s history – as it began its transformation from a theme park to a resort destination.

There are no dates scribbled on the backs of these photos, so I will guess that they are circa 1997 – 1999, as Disney California Adventure’s construction had just started (at least, in one of the shots, it has).

This first photo shows two generations of Disneyland parking lot tram sitting side by side in the parking lot. In fact, I do believe this was the first of the Walt Disney World-style trams that eventually replaced Disneyland’s iconic blue and gold trams, which you can see in the background. Just a neat snippet in time, as the new trams come on the scene and the old ones begin their fade into the history books.

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