Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Disneyland Subs Don't Find Atlantis

Today while surfing some of my favorite Disney blogs, I saw some photos of the newly reopened Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. Part of me was happy that that large lagoon in the middle of Disneyland was now filled with working subs once again, after laying dormant since 1998. But, another part of me was angry at what we didn't get. The Voyage to the Lost Continent of Atlantis was something that Disney was planning around the time they were finishing up work on the film Atlantis The Lost Empire (2001). The plan was to reinvigorate the stale Subs by retheming them to the Atlantis movie. But, as the movie hit theaters and movie goers didn't flock to the box office to see the film, Disney scraped the idea, and the subs stayed in drydock for another 7 years.
Being a big fan of the Atlantis film, I was very excited when I heard the news that Disney was planning to retheme the Subs with an Atlantis storyline. I was extremely disappointed when I found out they were scrapping the idea and the Subs would remain silent.

Check out this article from Jim Hill Media regarding the movie and proposed attractions:

"Jim Hill looks back at Disney Feature Animation's Summer 2001 release -- a project that started out with plenty of promise ... only to have WDFA executives second-guess this film's chance at greatness away.

During the summer of 2001, most Tinsel Town insiders felt that Walt Disney Pictures had a pretty decent shot at success with its animated action-adventure film, "Atlantis: The Lost Empire." But "A:TLE" turned out to be a real disappointment, grossing only $84 million (which hardly came close to cover its production costs, never mind the tens of millions more that Disney poured into the marketing of the movie).

So what went wrong with "Atlantis: The Lost Empire?" Well, to hear Disney Studio insiders tell it, "A:TLE" really was a project with plenty of promise. At least when the production initially started out. But then "Atlantis" lost its one real chance at box office success as the project's film-makers -- under the guidance of WDFA's allegedly Creative VPs -- kept second-guessed themselves. Fixing and futzing with their film until "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" had become a pale shadow of what it once was.

Back when work first began on "A:TLE," this movie truly had some balls. "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" started out with a prologue that showed a crew of blood-thirsty Vikings meeting a grisly fate in the North Atlantic. Their longboat obliterated by some immense mysterious creature with tentacles. (This sequence was to have been the audience's initial introduction to the Leviathan, the massive mechanical creature that guarded the one remaining gateway to Atlantis.)

Well, Wise and Trousdale seemed pretty passionate about their idea. And given that Walt Disney Studios actually used to make live action films like this (EX: "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," "Swiss Family Robinson," "In Search of the Castaways," "The Island at the Top of The World"), Don thought that he might be able to sell the Mouse House brass on making a movie like this.

Just as Ray Harryhausen used to load up his stop motion epics with lots of bizarre creatures, "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" was originally supposed to have had a lot of monsters. Lots and lots of monsters.

I mean, if Kirk and Gary had just stuck to their guns, "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" would have had the crew of the Ulysses -- once they survived their deadly encounter with the Leviathan -- battling squid bats, lava whales as well as bugs the size of school buses as they made their way deep down into the bowels of the Earth. (Those of JHM readers who'd like to get some sense of what these sequences would have been like would be wise to go pick up a copy of the 2-disc collector's edition of the "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" DVD. Here, hidden among the disc's extras, you'll find deleted storyboard versions of these various scenes. Which should give you some idea how truly exciting "A:TLE" COULD HAVE been -- had these sequences been left in the movie.) In short, this film would have been just the sort of production that Ray Harryhausen could have been proud of.

But then ... well ... Wise, Trousdale and Hahn began getting all of these inane notes from WDFA's cadre of allegedly-Creative Executives. Plus the movie's monsters -- what with all of their numerous legs, wings and antennae -- were proving to be pretty darned difficult to animate. Expensive too. And -- given that Kirk, Gary and Don were coming under continuing pressure from above to streamline "A:TLE"'s production as well as keep costs down -- the easiest thing to cut back back then was the squid bat attack, the crew's deadly encounter with the lava whale sequence as well as the bug hunt (Kida's original introductory sequence, which was to have shown the Atlantaen princess -- to the audience, anyway -- as this truly awesome warrior).

The only problem was ... once these three sequences were cut, Wise and Trousdale's animated adventure film -- supposedly crafted in the style of Ray Harryhausen -- was now decidedly light on adventure and monsters.

Which is a real shame. Because -- its flaws aside -- there's a lot to like about "Atlantis: The Lost Empire." From the film's distinct design to its wonderfully loopy supporting characters. I mean, how can you dislike a picture that features Gaetan Moliere, perhaps the weirdest individual to ever appear in a Disney animated film?

Yes, I know. A lot of you animation fans were very disappointed with "Atlantis: The Lost Empire." That -- in spite of the promise of its premise -- the picture basically failed to deliver the goods.

I say ... if Wise and Trousdale had actually been allowed to produce the picture that they had originally pitched to Don Hahn -- a film in the Ray Harryhausen tradition -- this story might have ended very differently. "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" might have actually found the success at the box office that it deserved.

Which would have meant that WDI would have been able to go forward with construction of those "Atlantis"-themed attractions that the Imagineers had been planning for Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Which would have meant that -- this summer -- WDW visitors would have been able to scream their way through "Fire Mountain," Disney World's first transforming coaster (which was to have been built -- inside of a giant volcano-shaped show building -- out behind Adventureland's "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride). And guests at Disneyland would have been able to reboard that theme park's Tomorrowland subs to go out on an undersea treasure hunt in Atlantis (and -- with luck -- avoid an encounter with the Leviathan)."

[I have used just a small part of the story. Read the full story at JimHillMedia.com]

So, here we are 7 years later and this story still makes me cringe every time I think about it. As I said above, I am happy that the Subs are back in service at Disneyland, and the Nemo theme will probably appeal to a new, young audience, but I happen to think the attraction could have been so much more. Sure, the lines are long now, as people line up to ride the Subs for the first time in 10 years. For many young kinds, this is the first time the Subs have been running during their lives. Although I have not experienced the attraction myself yet, it seems to me that the Nemo theme may become stale pretty quickly. To me the new Nemo Subs are a "D" attraction. The Atlantis Subs could have easily been an "E" ticket attraction, with a real life expedition to Atlantis and a Disney style encounter with the Leviathan.

It reall is a shame that the box office receipts of the movie were enough to kill the imagineers plans for an "E" ticket attraction to fill the lagoon in Tomorrowland with an exciting underwater adventure to discover the Lost Empire of Atlantis, while avoiding Disney style animatronic monsters.

* At the top of the article you will find the original Submarine attraction poster from 1969, along with my slightly altered poster. One can dream, right!?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Little Golden Book Monday #41

Today's Little Golden Book is Walt Disney's Surprise for Mickey Mouse. This is the second printing from 1972.
This story has a cavalcade of characters in it including: Mickey's nephews Fredie and Morty Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Horace Horse, the Three Little Pigs, Geppetto and Pinocchio, Figaro the kitten., Cleo the goldfish, Donald Duck and Huey, Dewey, and Louie, Dumbo and Timothy, Daisy Duck, and Pluto.
The story ends when Mickey, Fredie, Morty and Pluto end up at Wald Disney World at the Mickey Mouse Revue. Turns out that all of Mickey's pals are part of the Mickey Mouse Revue orchestra. Mickey had never been so happy. His musical revue was wonderful. The audience clapped and cheered, and Mickey's orchestra took twenty-seven bows. They would have taken twenty-eight, but Donald Duck got so excited that he fell into a bass drum.

The Mickey Mouse Revue was an attraction that opened on October 1, 1971 in Walt Disney World, Florida. It played from 1971 - 1980, and moved to Tokyo Disneyland to continue to this day. This attraction was a musical Animatronic show much like the Country Bears and America Sings. The show started with the Audio-Animatronic orchestra figures conducted by Mickey Mouse rising up from the stage while playing cartoony warm up music. Mickey then laughed and counted an intro and the characters began an instrumental medley of various Disney songs including: Heigh Ho, Whistle While You Work, When You Wish Upon a Star, and Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee (An Actor's Life for Me).

Even with the large number of characters that appeared in this Little Golden Book, there were a ton that had to be left out due to lack of pages/space. If all 81 characters from the Mickey Mouse Revue had been included, this would not have been a "Little" Golden Book.

This is a list of the characters that perform in Mickey's orchestra:
1. Mickey Mouse - baton
2. Mad Hatter - bass clarinet
3. March Hare - helps with bass clarinet
4. Dormouse
5. Winnie the Pooh - kazoo
6. Rabbit - slide whistle
7. Piglet - harmonica
8. Minnie Mouse - violin
9. Daisy Duck - cello
10. Uncle Scrooge - ukulele
11. Monty (city mouse) - clarinet
12. Abner (country mouse) - saxophone
13. Pluto - high-hat cymbal
14. Huey - trumpet
15. Dewey - trumpet
16. Louie - trumpet
17. Gus - trombone
18. Jaq - helps with trombone
19. Goofy - bass viola
20. Dumbo - tuba
21. Timothy - helps with tuba
22. Kaa - his own tail!
23. King Louie - xylophone, wood blocks, timpani, etc.
24. Baloo - flute
25. Practical Pig - brick organ
26. Fifer Pig - accordion
27. Fiddler Pig - fiddle
28. Snow White
29. Bluebird
30. Doe
31. Fawn
32. & 33. Squirrels
34. & 35. Quail
36. through 40. Rabbits
41. Raccoon
42. Sneezy - oboe
43. Dopey - flute
44. Grumpy - pipe organ
45. Doc - lute
46. Bashful - accordion
47. Happy - mandolin
48. Sleepy - fiddle
49. Alice
50. through 52. Pansies
53. Daffodil
54. & 55. Tulips
56. & 57. Shy Little Violets
58. White Rose
59. Red Rose
60. Iris
61. & 62. Morning Glories
63. Dandelion
64. Tiger Lily
65. Donald Duck - maracas
66. Panchito - pistols
67. Jose Carioca - guitar
68. Donald #2
69. Panchito #2
70. Jose #2
71. Donald #3
72. Panchito #3
73. Jose #3
74. Fairy Godmother
75. Cinderella - workmaid
76. Cinderella #2 - ballgown
77. Cinderella #3 - ballgown
78. Prince Charming
79. Brer Fox
80. Brer Rabbit
81. Brer Bear

The original date for the first printing of Surprise for Mickey Mouse, was 1971, the same year that the Mickey Mouse Revue attraction opened at WDW. So, it would seem that even back then, the Mouse was king when it came to promotional tie-ins and promotion for their new parks and attractions.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Pigsty of the Carribean

I found this in the recent Previews magazine and had to post it for all to see.
Zannablu brings you Pigsty of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Jinx. What is this you ask? Well, here is the description on their web site: An amazing comedy-based story acted by a clumsy wild boar, Bluetusk, who gets enrolled in a pirate crew by mistake. He will soon find himself amidst of a dispute between Capt. Jazz Barrow and Capt. Barbecue: the former wants back his own ship, stolen by the latter who wants only to get rid of a very odd curse, because of which he and his crew fear the moonlight as it turns them into business consultants. Only Bluetusk, who accidentally owns a very odd artifact can solve the situation...
And for those who can't get enough of of this crazy character, you can also pick up his other comic tales; Harry Porker, Kill Pick and Star Porks.
I don't post this because I like it or endorse it. Its much more like a traffic accident, I just couldn't help looking as I passed by.
As for Pigsty of the Caribbean, I don't know why, but this sort of reminds me of something, just can't seem to figure out what?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Squeeze Toy Alien Avoids the Claw

Here is a silly photo I took of one of my Squeeze Toy Aliens from the films Toy Story and Toy Story 2. This guy has just landed on earth and is venturing out from his space rocket to survey the area. Since the Aliens in the Toy Story films did not have their own space ships (remember, they were all waiting for The Claw to choose them and send them to a better place), this guy has commandeered Marvin Martians rocket from a toy set I picked up in the dollar bin at a liquidation store a few years back. The Alien came from McDonald's Happy Meal.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Little Golden Book Monday #40

Today's Little Golden Book is another Fozzie Bear title. This time it is Fozzie's Funnies: A Book of Silly Jokes and Riddles, starring Jim Henson's Muppets - more to the point, Fozzie Bear. The book is from 1993. As I have said before, I am a big Fozzie fan, so this book was another great find!
As one would expect from a Fozzie Bear joke book, the jokes are just unbearable... get it... unbearable!? Ok, so lets have a look-see inside shall we.

Why did the chicken cross the Road? To get to the other side!

Why did the rooster cross the road? He was following the chicken!

Why did the chicken cross the road halfway? She wanted to lay it on the line!

Why did the turtle cross the road? It was the chicken's day off.

Where does a six-hundred-pound gorilla sit? Anywhere it wants to!

What does a four-hundred-pound canary say? CHEEP-CHEEP!!!

Hotel guest: Young man, please call me a taxi. Doorman: Yessir. You're a taxi!

What's black and white and black and white and black and white and green all over? Three skunks fighting over a pickel!

How do you know when an elephant had been in the refrigerator? There are footprints in the butter!

What do you get when you cross a duck with popcorn? Quackerjacks!

Why shouldn't you tell secrets in the cornfield? Because it is filled with ears!

What do cows wear in Hawaii? Moo-moos!

Did you hear about the man who turned into a pair of glasses? He made a spectacle of himself.

Ok, I could go on, but I am sure you have all stopped reading by now as you are all doubled over at your computes laughing hysterically.
Wocka, wocka, wocka!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Captain Canuck Unplublished

Captain Canuck unpublished covers
Tonight I present a desktop I made a few years back. This desktop shows 3 Captain Canuck (Canada's own superhero) comics that were never officialy released. Actually that is not entirely true, as issue #15 was released as a special limited edition of 150 signed and numbered copies, in 2004. That makes 23 years between issue #14 (released in April 1981) and issue #15. This is not the only time that Captain Canuck issues had a long gap between issues. Issue #4 of the original series was released in 1976, with a cliffhanger ending. Readers had to wait 3 years for issue #5 which was released in 1979, before the cliffhanger would be revealed and they would find out who was behind the Captain's mask.
Issue #15 was released as a special limited edition, and I have issue #53 (of 150). I have one more, but its packed away somewhere, and I am not sure of the number. This special printing has a nice colour cover and black and white interior pages. There are 28 pages, 18 pages from the original issue, 7 pages of the syndicated Captain Canuck newspaper comics, and 3 pages of news, updates, ads etc. For a huge Captain Canuck fan like myself, this was a wonderful opportunity to add something to my collection that I had always wished I could have read back in 1981.
The other two unpublished issues shown are;
The unpublished Captain Canuck Summer Special #2, which, I was told recently by Richard Comley, that only the cover was ever produced, no interior pages were drawn. For my desktop, I coloured the b/w cover myself in Photoshop.
Issue #4 of Captain Canuck Reborn. I have no info on this, other than this small b/w cover that was published in an issue of Previews magazine soliciting this comic, which never came out. I have no idea if it was actually a finished product that just didn't get released, or was just a cover, much like the Summer Special #2.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Little Golden Book Monday #39

In honour of the The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Collection DVD which I have not purchased yet, but have at the top of my Amazon.ca "Wish List", I present today's Little Golden Book, Woody Woodpecker Takes a Trip. Originally printed in 1961, this is the Twelfth printing from 1981.
I have always liked Woody Woodpecker, but there are certainly many of the classic cartoons (most notable the later ones) that are pretty lame. But, the ones that aren't lame, are usually really enjoyable, with many being absolutely hilarious! This book is very much in the "enjoyable" category, as the story is fun, and the artwork by Al White and Ben DeNunez is really pleasing eye candy.
As for the DVD which was released July 2007, I am looking forward to sitting back and watching all the early cartoons, especially the very first Woody cartoon, "Knock Knock" in which Woody is absolutely out of control. And "Ski for Two" has one of my all time favorite cartoon scenes, as Woody swooshes down the ski slopes singing this demented little song which was stuck in my head for many years as a child!
If anyone has an extra copy of this DVD set that they don't know what to do with, you can send it my way!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A Musical History of Disneyland

It finally arrived today! I received my copy of the 50th Anniversary "A Musical History of Disneyland" collection, which includes 6 audio CDs containing over 7 hours of Disneyland music, as well as an exclusive 72 page hardcover book.
I have been wanted this ever since I first heard about it back in 2005. The original sets also included a reproduction of the very first Disneyland Records LP "Walt Disney Takes You To Disneyland" on gold vinyl. The original sets were only available at Disneyland, or though the Disneyland mail order, and the cost was over $100, and shipping though Disneyland mail order is incredibly high to Canada, so as much as I wanted it, I never did buy it. It showed up on Amazon.com about a year later, without the vinyl reproduction, and with a price tag of about $100. At the time the US/Canadian conversion was still pretty high and the cost of shipping to Canada, and the almost assured costs of duty when crossing the boarder were still enough to keep me from buying it. When it finally showed up on Amazon.ca with a slightly lower cost, I was excited, but still never shelled out the cash to buy it.
Finally this Christmas when I was asked by my mother what I would like for Christmas, I though about it for a while and came up with the two items that I really, really wanted; the Disneyland Records display unit, and the Musical History of Disneyland set. Since I knew that I would have many changes to pick up the CD set, but would probably never see another Display unit like this one, I decided to ask for some cash to help out with the purchase of the display unit. But I still wanted the CD set. Upon visiting the Amazon.ca web site over the Christmas holiday and seeing that they were showing 'just 1 copy left' of the "A Musical History of Disneyland", I decided to take the plunge and order my copy before it was too late. A day or two later when I received the conformation email letting me know my copy had been mailed, I was thrilled! Today it arrived. It's been added to my iTunes collection, and I am listening to it while I type this. I am currently listening to "Country Bear Vacation Hoedown".
I always love those photos I see on the internet of people unpacking new computers etc as if they were some sort of incredible treasures. So I decided to take some pictures of my own. I now present the 'unboxing' of my "Musical History of Disneyland" CD set. Enjoy!

If you are looking for a review and complete listing of what is on the set, check out the review on Mouse Planet.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Little Golden Book Monday #38

Tonight's Little Golden Book is Disney's Brother Bear. The book and movie are from 2003, and there is a big difference between the animation style of the movie and the illustrations in the book. As with most LGB's the drawings in this book are more cute and cartoon like. The book is adapted by Ben Smiley, illustrated by Samantha Clark and designed by Disney's Global Design Group.
I wasn't a big fan of the movie when it was in the theaters, and have never bothered to pick up the DVD. Judging from the numbers below, I wasn't the only one that didn't get to excited about this film. It did very well as a movie, but as far as Disney films go, it didn't really really hit the mark.

Lion King (1994)
Theatrical Performance
Total US Gross $328,539,505
International Gross $455,300,000
Worldwide Gross $783,839,505

Treasure Planet (2002)
Theatrical Performance
Total US Gross $38,120,554
International Gross $53,679,446
Worldwide Gross $91,800,000

Brother Bear (2003)
Theatrical Performance
Total US Gross $85,329,248
International Gross $165,053,971
Worldwide Gross $250,383,219

Finding Nemo (2003)
Theatrical Performance
Total US Gross $339,714,978
International Gross $524,900,000
Worldwide Gross $864,614,978

Chicken Little (2005)
Theatrical Performance
Total US Gross $135,386,665
International Gross $178,479,000
Worldwide Gross $313,865,665

Ratatouille (2007)
Theatrical Performance
Total US Gross $206,445,654
International Gross $410,800,000
Worldwide Gross $617,245,654

I do really like this book though, as it is a nice simple story, and I really like Samantha's wonderful illustrations. Well worth the 99 cents I paid at my local thrift shop.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Ft Wayne Komets 2007/08 Schedule Pen

Back on June 2, 2007, I posted about the 1953-54 Ft Wayne Komets Spinning Schedule, which was by far the most innovative and unusual team schedule I had ever seen. It seems the Komets like to produce schedules that stand out from the pack, so this year they produced a schedule pen. But not just any old schedule pen. I have seen other teams print their schedule on a pen (last one I can remember was two seasons ago when the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL produced a large blue pen with their home schedule printed on it.
Taking the idea of a schedule pen to the next level, the Ft Wayne Komets of the IHL have produced a very unusual schedule pen for the 2007/08 season. As seen in the photo above, this looks like a regular 'click' pen, but it has a small metal strip on the side of the pen, which can be pulled out to reveal the full Komets home and away schedule. When you let go, the schedule springs back inside the pen.
Very cool schedule for my collection, and a great idea for all kinds of businesses etc that want an unusual way to advertise!