Friday, January 11, 2013

Disneyland - CHOC Walk 2012 - Some On Stage and Backstage Shots


















These photographs chronicle October 2012's CHOC Walk, with a focus on the backstage areas behind Critter Country, New Orleans Square and Adventureland.
We started the walk at DCA (in the pre-dawn hours as you can see) and ended up entering Disneyland at Main Street (after the sun came up), meandering through the Park to the backstage gate just past the exit of Splash Mountain (fifth photo from the top).
We walked past the new home of Outdoor Vending, the Westsider Grill (which has taken the place of "The Pit" down below Pirates as the eatery of choice for Cast Members on that side of the Park), the back side of the Pirates and Indiana Jones buildings, and ultimately out the gate located near the Picnic Area and Parking Lot Tram drop off.
There were high school bands and cheerleaders along the way, as well as smiling, waving Cast Members.
If you are looking at Disneyland from above, with the Main Entrance at the southern part of your "map," the backstage route took us along the west to southwest edge of the Park.
Thought you all might enjoy a view of "what's back there," since you don't often get a glimpse.
Have a great day, Jungleteers!

---Mike

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Disneyland - Jungle Cruise - Where's My Boat?


I could sure go for a boatful of captive guests.
Where's my P.A. mic and throttle?
Since it's a work day and I have about five minutes, here are a few other things I could happily go for right about now:
  • A walk down Main Street
  • A leisurely float through the Small World
  • An impromptu performance by Billy Hill and the Hillbillies
  • A cushioned chair on the bow of the Mark Twain and a cup of Starbucks, watching New Orleans Square slide by
  • A roll of hundreds (hey, I'm dreaming here!)
  • Seriously bumping the car in front of me on the Autopia
  • A Skyway ride
  • A pan, a broom, cigarette butts, popcorn and an audience (behind the back! No looking! between the legs! Alley Oop!)
  • A suit, a name tag, a radio and an area where I'M the supervisor!  Heaven help my poor crew...
  • Looking forward to tonight's showing of the Main Street Electrical Parade.
  • On Main Street.
  • At Disneyland.
  • An open faced turkey sandwich at the Inn Between
  • An early morning "dead head" through the rivers of the Jungle
Must run.
You all have a fine day out there!
Be safe and treat each other nicely.
Don't make me have to pull this car over and come back there!

---Mike



Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Disneyland - Jungle Cruise - An Early Morning Trip Before Park Opening

Greetings, Jungle Lovers!
Mike here.
Just pulled the Ganges out of boat storage and eased her up to the dock.
Hold on a second while I get these rounds loaded in my .38.
Nice morning, huh?
I am caffeinated, twitterpated, calibrated and now fully loaded.
That's the only way to start a day on Jungle.
Come on in, we'll take her for an animation check.
Nothing like being one of the first boats out.
You have your coffee?
Take the throttle, I'm a passenger now.
There you go.  Easy on the turns, but you can chug along on the straightaways.
Oooh.  That mist from the "rainforest" feels good.
Reach under the bow there and open that door.
See the radio?
I already checked it backstage.  Is the light still on?
Don't play with it!  You hit that button and we are "live" on the Operations frequency.
No need to get any supervisors marching down here wondering who's goofing off on the airwaves!
It you must play, how about I let you shoot the gun at the hippo pool?
Well we're not there yet, so put that thing back in the holster!
You bust out shots here at the Sunken City and every supervisor in Adventure/Frontier will be standing at the dock to greet us on our return!
Honestly, I don't know why I invited an "East Sider" on my boat!
You look ridiculous in that Space Mountain costume.
Good thing we don't open to guests for half an hour.
What's that?
No.  I didn't make it to Acapulco's last night.
Doug ended up in pretty bad shape, huh?
How many times do I have to tell him Long Island Teas are NOT from Long Island and that ISN'T tea!  He's gonna be fun today.  I think he's closing.
Nothing like a Jungle boat after a night of Bacchanalian bliss.
You playing Over The Line in this weekend's tournament?
You know Team Space Mountain's going down again!  Come on, no one beats the West Side.
The team from Canoes has some massive guys.
Eddie the Lead over there has arms bigger than my legs.
I saw him hit one to the breakers from the fire pit area over at Huntington!
Whoa!
Pull back on the throttle and stop!!!
Stop!
Look, Space Cowboy, if you just cruise on by the Elephant Shower without stopping, we're BOTH gonna get blasted by that elephant up ahead to your right.
Once that animation trips, he's going to squirt.
I am NOT starting my day toweling off my boat because you forgot to stop!
See.  Now once he's done you can chug on by.
This is probably one of my favorite stretches through here.
I like how the river is smooth and we're heading straight for the falls.
You ever played with the apes?
Pull the throttle back and stop us right here.
I'll hang in the boat if you want to jump out.
I can't guarantee you'll make it back in without getting your costume wet!
Wise choice.
Last guy I offered took me up on it.
Left him in the Jungle.
Last I saw, he was cursing at me and shaking his fists as I rounded the bend at Schweitzer Falls.
Gorillas and an East Sider frolicking on the bank!!
You know, it was hard for me to tell who was who.
Good thing he was wearing that name tag.
Let me have the boat.
We gotta get back before my lead starts to wonder what's taking so long.
Hang on.
This is about as fast as one of these things can go.
You have to watch out for derails when you're empty.
Over there by the Lost Safari is where we generally jump off the boat.  See where the rocks are close to the edge of the river?  We took our Area picture there last summer.
Okay.  You can shoot the hippos now if you want.
Hold the gun way above the canopy!
I'm telling you that thing is LOUD!
Two shots and NO MORE, got it?
Nice.
That's gonna leave a mark.
Dancing natives.
Yadda yadda.
Backsideofwater.
Oooh.
Aaah.
Water buffalo.
Python.
Trader Sam.
See those lights in his shield.  They both need to be green or we have to stop.
They are probably done bringing boats out, so we should be clear.
Take that coffee with you and get out of my boat!
Have fun in Tomorrowland!  You better move if you don't want to be late!
What's that?
Oh, I know.
Yeah.  We are lucky.
We're working the best attraction in the Park.
Have fun checking seatbelts!!!
Don't go away mad!
Just go away!

---Mike

Monday, August 27, 2012

Disneyland - Remembrance of Cast Members Past

I guess the trauma of Carnation Plaza Gardens being shut down left me in a two-month long funk.
Unable to post.
Languid.
Subdued.
Adrift in the cosmos.

Then...

I was at my sister-in-law's for a 16th birtday party.
My 16 year old niece's boyfriend, Matt, was there, along with his parents.
His mom, Maria, is the niece of a man whose name appears on a window on Main Street above the Market House.
She also worked Adventureland Merchandise in the mid-80s.
We got to talking.
"Remember Guest Control duty and the Main Street Electrical Parade?" Maria asked.
Yes.
Yes I do.
Her eyes lit with joy at the memory of manning the ropes and stanchions along the Plaza in the building excitement before the Electrical Parade stepped off onto its route through the heart of the Park.
"I miss that sooo much!"
Don't I know it, love.

Maria worked the Bazaar, but also handled the barrel of rubber snakes and related trinkets sold just outside the Jungle Cruise exit dock.
We probably passed each other on a number of occasions, never connecting, but then fate placed us at a sixteenth birthday party, sipping mojitos and calling to mind summer evenings of long ago.
My father-in-law was there, too.
He spoke of his time as a Disneyland cast member in the late 60s and early 70s.
He did electrical work on animatronics after he had to leave operations (Matterhorn, Subs) when he married a fellow cast member.
You could not both be in the same department back then, so he had to transfer.
He told us of the noise of the Tiki birds' mechanisms in the control room.
The difficulties in keeping the cannons firing in Pirates --- they were controlled by 8-track tapes and the heads got dirty, so he was in there often fixing them.
He would ride the attraction once an hour to make sure the animation was working.
Maria, my father-in-law and me spent a good amount of time kicking around stories from the Park.
Must've stirred something in this old skipper, because here I am back at my post after what I thought might be a permanent absence.
The Park has a hold on me that I cannot shake, no matter how much time passes.
No use fighting it.
So, thanks to Maria and my father-in-law, I am back to the blog.
Aren't you lucky?

Another thing.
My family and I have formed Team "Jungle is 101" and will be walking in this year's CHOC Walk in the Park.
It is always a great event.
I love that I can share with the family some of the "back areas" I used to haunt as a Cast Member.
All while supporting a worthy cause.
The people who show up for the event are a great boost to one's energy level, too.
Take Disney nuts, add some altruism and caffeine, march them around the Park and California Adventure, and you have an instant formula for success!
Hope to see many of you Jungleteers out there for the Walk.
If you can't make it, perhaps you can swing by the Jungle is 101 Team page at the CHOC website and pledge a donation.
No pressure.
Of course, I will mention at this point that I am in deep with some serious witch doctors.
Just sayin'.

Oh, and Maria's uncle?  Sebastian Moreno, aka "Seb Morey - Taxidermist."
Seb helped with the original railroad around the Park and went on to be in charge of the decorating department.
Maria still has and cherishes one of the placards that adorned Main Street lampposts during the "Blast to the Past" event circa 1987-88.
Her uncle sadly has passed away, but he left Maria and her family a great Disneyland legacy.

Gotta run.
Don't be such strangers!
Sheesh!
Post once in a while or something!
Love you loyal readers.
The four (4) nicest folks I know (hi, Mom!)....

---Mike

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Disneyland - Plaza Gardens Requiescat in Pace

An icon of the Hub is soon to be gone.
I saw the skeletal remains of its old red and white, metal "circus tent" roof protruding over the construction wall on my trip to the Park last Sunday.
The colored metal pieces had been removed, leaving only the empty frame behind.
Perhaps the Disney folks are carefully dismantling it so that it may be reconstructed someplace else in the Disneyverse.
Probably not.
Walt danced there, under the circular roof and across its sparkling floor.
Louis Armstrong blew his trumpet from the tiny stage.
The Osmond Brothers made their debut.
Les Brown and his Band of Reknown used to perform before a floorful of happy swing dancers.
The original Mickey Mouse Club Mousketeers had many stints there as well.
The dance floor under the canopy was an area of the Park that had remained relatively unchanged over time.
The sparkling electric sign over the entrance was as much a feature of the Hub as the Castle drawbridge, the Frontierland entrance, the Adventureland sign or the popcorn wagon.
The little wooden bridge that led to Plaza Gardens was tucked beneath shady trees and crossed a winding brook.
Peace amidst the busy, crowded Park at almost any time.
Indeed, to this day it remained one of the few "parklike" areas in Disneyland, where guests could just sit and be refreshed.
Years ago I wrote a lament for this beloved corner of the Park once before, never, ever expecting to later be writing of its utter and complete demise.
I believe Walt wanted the Park to grow, to ADD new things, as long as imagination is left in the world.
Adding or "plussing" something was one of his many traits of genius.
I'm not so sure he would favor seeing "Fantasyland" intrude upon Main Street's Hub when presented with a storyboard or design drawing.
He probably would have coughed and raised that dark eyebrow the moment some overzealous Imagineer ridiculously suggested taking the Rocket Jets down from their old spot and planting them on the Hub, too.
Growing and adding new things is not the same as ripping out old things.
I suppose Sleeping Beauty Castle has had its day.
Maybe we can dismantle it and put up a "meet and greet" area for other "non-princess" Disney characters.
I mean where do you go these days to see Gaston, or Mr. Smee, or Horace Horsecollar, or any cast member from "Watcher in the Woods," "The Black Hole" or "The Black Cauldron" and other such "classics"?
That mountain over there with the bobsleds?
Don't repaint - REMOVE! REPLACE!
Enough with Pirates and Ghosts and Peter Pan!
We can yank 'em all out and put in attractions that have more "crossover" appeal, like "Wizards of Waverly Place Magical Hollow," "Phineas & Ferb's Platypus Manor" and "The Suite Life On Deck's Cruise of Terror."
Imagine an audio-animatronic Mr. Moseby, Zack and Cody in a dark attraction based upon rehashed "Love Boat" episodes and overgrown twins that have lost their appeal.
The heart thrills at the thought.
And Main Street.
What the heck is that place all about?
Does anyone really care about turn-of-the-century America anymore?
Let's lose the 1890s facades and trick out a West Coast version of Times Square!
Slap up some skyscrapers on either side of Main Street, with gleaming steel and glass.
Penny Arcade?
PUH-LEEZE.
We've installed "Studio 54," a 1970s disco tribute bar and nightclub in its place!
Come on in kids, it's a blast!
There's a life-sized "K.C. and the Sunshine Band" animatronics stage show that repeats itself every 15 minutes!
Put on your Boogie Shoes 'cause that's the way aha, aha, we like it!
Over on the east side of the street, the lame old Market House has been transformed into the Guggenheim West!
Immerse yourself in a post-modern, cutting edge retrospective of International Abstractionism, along with some classic Kandinsky!
Oodles of family fun await!
And the horse-drawn streetcars of yesterday are now the Manhattan Taxis!
Take a memorable journey through the streets of New Main Street in the back of a smelly cab operated by a guy with a thick accent and a meter that never stops!!

Sorry.

I got a little carried away there.

Carnation Plaza Gardens, I will miss you.

Thanks, as Bob Hope said, for the memories.

---Mike

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Disneyland - The Price of Poker's Gone Up, Kids

Renewing my annual pass recently, I saw that the Park has significantly raised admission prices.

Why not?

The Euro has collapsed (it's just waiting for everyone to "officially" admit it).

The dollars that we here in the United States have electronically "minted" (through the looking-glass magic of the Federal Reserve's "quantitative easing" program) are holding steady, supposedly, at somewhere around $2 trillion.

Among friends, after all, what is $2 trillion anyway?

Here in California, the cataclysm of today's "economy" is visible everywhere.

Count the shuttered car dealerships.

The carcasses of former banks.

The "for lease" signs at the mini-malls and corporate parks.

The empty "big box" stores.

The failed restaurants.

The boarded up department stores.

As an example, the Montclair Plaza shopping mall in Montclair, California, has had a huge amount of retail square footage at its eastern end sitting vacant since 2006.

The space used to be a Broadway store from 1968 until it became a Macy's in 1996.

It stayed a Macy's and finally closed its doors in 2006, never to reopen.

It's kinda weird to see a mall in the middle of populous Southern California with a giant, empty store at one end.

All those stores, banks, dealerships, mini-mall shops, restaurants and retailers were once filled with people.

And merchandise.

And jobs.

Banks would accept money from businesses and individuals for safekeeping.

Workers would deposit their paychecks and businesses would deposit their cash receipts.

Banks would take the money and invest in assets and lend some of money back into the community---to businesses and consumers.

Businesses would use the money to buy product, build things, create retail space, hire employees, etc.

Consumers would borrow money to buy cars and homes and appliances.

They would also earn money from working for the businesses and restaurants and such.

In turn, they would save a little of their money in the banks and, of course, spend a little at the restaurants, amusement parks and businesses in their community.

THOSE were the days.

What is YOUR home worth today?

Are you even still living in a house?

Still employed? Thank God.

You know several people who are not quite so fortunate.

Even here in Southern California.

California was once the 6th largest economy on the planet, I've heard.

If we in the "Golden State" have such visible signs of decline, I can only imagine how others in this grand country are faring these days.

Yet.

Folks will still find a way to buy admission into Disneyland.

The Park is perhaps taking the place of the old movie theaters of the 1930s, where Americans escaped the woes of the Great Depression by spending precious money on a matinee or a double-feature.

An hour and a half of "fantasy" in the darkened cinema, with Clark Gable, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Fred Astaire, Giner Rogers, Shirley Temple, the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, Mickey Mouse or the Three Little Pigs, brought a respite from the literally depressing state of Americans' daily life.

While today's malls may be emptier, the Park has remained crowded to capacity.

Cars Land and the recent efforts to "fix" the Eisner-iffic masterpiece known as Disney's California Adventure have sparked further interest.

The Park has cleaned up its act tremendously in the past four years.

Check out the newly refurbished West Side of Main Street, from the Emporium to the Candy Palace.

Look at the gleaming new Matterhorn paint job and the mountain's suddenly glowing waterfalls.

Do waterfalls actually glow in the Swiss Alps?

Ah. I digress.

March along with the crowd of guests around you.

Start doing the math.

Think what each of them has spent to be there (either as an annual passholder or a ParkHopper purchaser).

Of course, each of them has to eat and drink and perhaps grab a plush toy or a sweatshirt.

Where are all these folks getting all this money?

Disney seems quite happy to provide them with a beautiful place to spend and enjoy it!

The Park masterfully anticipated the coming financial collapse by permitting passholders to pay for their passes on a monthly basis over the course of a year!

Now Disney has an income stream, even if folks can't make it to the Park.

It worked.

The crowds are thick as ever.

The guests seem pretty darn satisfied, too.

I am still one myself!

Hike the price?

Looks like we all will still gladly pay it.

Even in the midst of the Greater Great Depression of 2008-present!

Of course, I imagine the number of Greek, Italian and Euro-zone guests may have dropped off a bit of late (and more so in the coming weeks and months, no?).

How's Euro-Disney doing these days, I wonder?

For us in Southern California, the Park remains a place to set aside one's cares for a while.

Truly a place to "leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy," as Walt wished for his guests when the Park flung open its waiting arms in 1955.

I am still willing to pay to answer its embrace.


Sorry for being gone for so long, Jungleteers! I missed each of you deeply!

---Mike

Monday, April 30, 2012

Disneyland - Fantasyland Break Area - Costume Changes and the Disney Look

Through a pathway among the bushes at the back side of Storybookland was the entrance to a small covered break area.
It had old-school vending machines, including one that had Eskimo Pies and chocolate ice cream bars.
I loved those!
Orange picnic tables were available for taking a few minutes' rest from being on one's feet.
Chief among this break area's positives was the fairly constant flow of female cast members clad in classic Fantasyland style.
Blue skirt, knee-high white stockings, cute shoes and a neat white blouse with colorful trim and short sleeves, sometimes accentuated by a matching headband or bow.
Adorable.
We were mostly college-age folks, clean-cut and with cheerful dispositions.
Come on, it was the old Disney.
Way before political correctness.
Back when costume policies and grooming standards were still strongly supported and enforced. No facial hair for men.
No wild hair styles or excessive make-up or piercings for either sex.
It was, as the Disney University taught us, the "Disney Look."
Why the "Disney Look" in 2012 must now permit facial hair after 56 years is not an issue for my pay grade.
Why the Park long ago decided to allow its cast members to wear their costumes home instead of turning them in to Wardrobe at the end of the shift is beyond me.
Moreover, who designs the modern costumes?
If you are out there, hear my plea - "Do something for the poor folks in Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and just about EVERYWHERE over at California Adventure!"
I am sorry, but no one can really pull off the strange uni-sex olive pants, blousy shirt and frumpy hat that Fantasylanders must don today.
Think "poochy."
And this is true for folks who may be thin as a rail!
The entire kingdom of Fantasyland looks "poochy!"
Oh, Peter!
It's true, Wendy!
And what is with the hats?
It's as if "Newsies" collided with Lampwick after a particularly hard night of drinking at Pleasure Island.
Not a skirt or primary color to be found north of the drawbridge these days, I'm afraid.
Then there's poor, poor Tomorrowland.
Never a region to top the list of "best costume" award winners, this area is absolutely languishing in the modern era.
The flumpy silver jackets.
The 21st Century shirts from a futuristic bowling alley or full-service gas station.
Hey, it isn't like they aren't trying.
Here is an article about modern Disneyland costuming, to show that it is quite a process to outfit thousands of cast members.
No doubt, one or two stinker costumes are going to rear their ugly heads within such a wide and varied mix.
Anyhow, we really should applaud the fact that the Disneyland show continues.
There are pirates and Haunted Mansion hosts and hostesses, Riverboat Captains, Big Thunder miners, canoe explorers and even jungle skippers that actually look the part.
Soon they'll be bearded and mustachioed.
Not so bad for Pirates, I guess, but I'll miss the clean-cut, All-American look that Disneyland cast members once sported.
I know, I know, "But Walt had a mustache!"
Okay, you start your own animation and entertainment empire, design, build and launch an utterly new type of theme park against all odds and amass armfuls of Academy Awards, all while keeping the whole enterprise moving and afloat somehow - then you can wear any mustache you want.
Oh, and Walt could pull it off. Like Clark Gable or Caesar Romero or Douglas Fairbanks.
I am sure things will work out.
Not every change is the equivalent of "New Coke" or the Edsel or doubling the price of Netflix.
Look, most of the dwarves have beards.
So do Jafar, Stromboli, the Queen's Hunstman, Merlin, King Triton, Jack Sparrow, Captain Hector Barbossa and others.
Mustaches abound as well: Captain Hook, Mr. Darling, Gepetto, Mr. Potato Head (okay, he's Pixar), etc.
Of course, back in the 1980s, things were a bit different.
Let us close with a quote from one of the Three Little Pigs:
"Not by the hair of my chinny, chin, chin!"

Today's post was brought to you by Burma Shave:

To get away

from hairy apes

ladies jump

from fire escapes!

Burma Shave


And one more for the road:


He had the ring

He had a flat

She felt his chin

And that

Was that!

Burma Shave


---Mike

Friday, March 16, 2012

Jungle is "101" - Disneyland's Jungle Cruise And Other Disneyland Stuff: Disneyland - Bats Day

Jungle is "101" - Disneyland's Jungle Cruise And Other Disneyland Stuff: Disneyland - Bats Day: Long after my initial romp as a Disneyland cast member, starting in 1999, a curiously strange and clearly "unofficial" event began at the Pa...

Disneyland - Bats Day

Long after my initial romp as a Disneyland cast member, starting in 1999, a curiously strange and clearly "unofficial" event began at the Park - Bats Day.
It started as a promotion put on between "goth/industrial and death rock clubs Absynthe and Release the Bats," according to the official Bats Day site at http://www.batsday.net/.
Gee, when I worked there I think Sparks was about the most "cutting edge" thing to enter the Park.
Now, a hapless guest at Disneyland on the weekend of May 18 - 20, 2012 will stumble upon herds of folk in black "Goth" attire, eye liner, pancake makeup, fishnets, high leather boots and occasional vampire fangs.
And those are just the toddlers of the group, tagging along in strollers with their similarly-clad mums and dads.
Disneyland and Goth/Death Rock.
Practically peas and carrots, coffee and donuts, salt and pepper, Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, Martin and Lewis, Simon and Garfunkel, or any other natural pairing, right?
I remember stumbling into my first Bats Day as a guest.
A child in black crepe with eye liner and black lipstick was walking ahead of me with a Mickey Mouse balloon in his small hand.
His proud parents, dressed as what can best be described as a zombie bride and groom, walked on either side of him, beaming with parental pride (as much as folks can "beam" while wearing pasty white makeup!).
I paused.
A longtime resident of Southern California, I chalked it up as a typically family visiting from the San Fernando Valley or maybe North Hollywood.
But then I saw another group of folks in similar dark attire.
And another.
Soon enough I began to feel somewhat out of place in shorts, t-shirt, Nikes and a baseball cap.
Putting self-consciousness aside, I decide to strike up a conversation with one of these guests, to see just what in the heck was up.
"Hi. I'm Mike and I love the top hat and death's head cane! Are you guys with a wayward youth group or something?"
"Oh no," came the friendly and smiling reply, "It's Bats Day!"
Now I had been in and around Disneyland for many decades, but "Bats Day" had never made it onto my Park radar.
He may as well have told me it was "Opossums Day" or "Capybaras Day."
"Ah. Bats Day," I said.
"What...uh...what is Bats Day?"
"It's like when Goth people come to Disneyland for some fun. This is our second year!"
Clearly this was no accident. It appeared to be an event that happened regularly.
Hmmm.
"Well, have a great time! Enjoy the Haunted Mansion!"
"Oh, we've been on that three times already! Now we're going to Snow White!"
That went well, I thought.
The rest of the day, in lines, along walkways, in shops and food service locations, I encountered and conversed with Bats Day participants, never quite getting the concept but enjoying the outfits and conversations.
I felt like the guy giving candy on Halloween.
"Look! What a cute little undertaker/dark overlord! Honey, come see!"
Without exception, the people I met were nice, happy to share and genuinely were enjoying themselves.
Maybe this year I'll sport a Dead Skipper or Guest-Control-of-the-Damned costume.
Disney does not officially sanction this gathering, but they seem happy enough to sell admissions, churros and bat-Mickey ears to the participants.
Well, I'll be da...darned.
Hurry! You have only about 60 days to get your outfit together, book your hotel and rent a hearse for the 2012 edition of Bats Day(s)!
Oh, the angst!

---Mike

Monday, March 12, 2012

Disneyland - Starcade

The crowded cosmic alley that the Space Mountain exit dumps you into, where you can get a photograph of you riding on the attraction or make a quick restroom run, also leads to what was once...

...the Starcade.

In the days before everyone had three gaming systems at home, an iPhone and an iPad, people would actually pay a quarter to play a single video game.
Oooh!  Tell us more, Uncle Mike.
It's true, children.
Why, you can still find some of these old-fashioned, coin-operated video game machines at places like your local miniature golf "family fun center," or the waiting areas of some restaurants, or in dimly-lit, smoke-filled bars that sell Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap and smell of decades of spilled pilsner.
In the mid-1980s, there was even a really goofy TV game show called "Starcade" in which contestants played video games for prizes.  Check it out...

I lived through the 80s.
I can safely say that somehow, I never knew of, nor did I ever see even a moment of, "Starcade" back then.
I only came across it in a search for Disneyland's "Starcade," which actually debuted at the Park in 1977 along with Space Mountain.
It had that late 70s vibe.
It had two stories of video and arcade games!
Air hockey?
How about 10 or more tables?
Asteroids?
Pacman?
Tron?
Even Star Wars made an appearance eventually.
Two stories of arcade!
Nowadays, the arcade is confined to the lower level, with two escalators to nowhere blocked off on the first floor.
An old X-wing fighter hangs from the ceiling above the dormant escalators.
No lines for the hottest machine.
No rows of quarters lined up to "reserve" a machine for the next game.
No groups of people milling around.
More merchandise location than arcade.
Even the Peoplemover no longer glides by the second level (or anywhere else in Tomorrowland for that matter!).
The bands cannot be heard from the Space Mountain stage either, since it was long ago covered over for such 3-D extravaganzas as "Magic Journeys," "Captain Eo" and "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience!"
It isn't the lively and bright area it was in the late 70s and early 80s.
It looks like Today finally caught up with Tomorrowland.
Such is life, no?

For now, friends, a fond adieu!
And here's to a great big beautiful Tomorrow!

---Mike