Monday, September 25, 2017

A Selection of Snapshots

It's time for another selection of mid-1990's snapshots, courtesy of GDB regular Irene and her brother!

First up is this photo of the "retro" sign over at the Tomorrowland Autopia - at this point they had already given up on any sort of futurism, instead relying on the nostalgia of a 1950's drive-in diner (or something). "Happy Days" in the future! It's just odd. Anyway, up to the right is the former Peoplemover track, getting ready for the Rocket Rods. I believe that the current very large Autopia structure was added to the park in 2000.

This photo actually had a date ("1995") on it! We're looking at the former "Mission to Mars" building, although that ride had closed in 1992. As far as I know the structure remained unused until it became "Redd Rocket's Pizza Port" in May of 1998. Notice the sign for "Captain EO" on the pylons to the right, as well as a small sandwich board back toward the Mission to Mars entrance...

... and here's a closeup of that sandwich board! The most exciting sandwich board in the world. The addition of those tiny photos from "EO" is strange - one can barely tell what they are unless you are right on top of the sign - there's Michael Jackson, Angelica Huston, and (most importantly) the Kodak logo. Perhaps it didn't matter, as Captain Eo was nearing the end of its initial run (1986-1996). Fun fact: I never saw "Captain Eo"!

This next one is undated, but the Rocket Jets were still whirling (up high, where it belongs!), so it is from 1998 or before. The Mary Blair murals on the north side of the walkway are still there, but the Peoplemover appears to be closed by this point. You win some, you lose some.

Thank you to Irene and her brother!



Actually, after MISSION TO MARS closed it was used as a Magic Kingdom Club reception center -at least the passenger holding pen entry. And after that , Disneyland Entertainment music department (who had been ousted from the second level of The Carousel Thester) used the lobby area as their office and their files and audio storage were kept in the top tier row of the Mission Controll guest viewing ramp and in the "passenger Concorse" between the tow ship theaters. Most of the basement of Mission To Mars had been the Tomorrowland (and Main St. USA later on)sound room since 1967.


"The Tow ship theaters " should read TWO Ship theaters


This period of Tomorrowland was very sad ; the great designs of 1967, 1977 .... and even the beautiful 1987 Star Tours exterior was about to give way to the giant CRAP SANDWICH that was New Tomorrowland '98!!

I'm sure the imagineers and management that worked on Tomorrowland 1998 are highly ashamed of what that dumped on Disneyland and its guests - if they aren't , they should be!

I remember at a architectural presentation John Hench went off on how horrible that Tomorrowland was - I never head him be vocal about how AWEFULL something at a Disney park was. And he was so right!!

K. Martinez said...

Oh look! "The Space Place" entrance. I used to love going there for lunch. I didn't like they added that second pylon for the "Captain EO" signage at the Space Mountain Entrance, but I also didn't like that they sealed up the Space Stage. Tomorrowland became so architecturally junked up over time.

And once Eisner's Montana Future arrived in 1998, Disney put the final nail on the coffin of Tomorrowland by closing the classic Submarine Voyage and toon-ifying the Autopia in 2000. The current Autopia structure is awful. It's too large and blocks the view of the Matterhorn and Tomorrowland area from the Disneyland Railroad Tomorrowland Station.

For me, they started ruining Tomorrowland well before 1998 when Michael Eisner and George Lucas arrived on the scene. Captain EO and Star Tours moved Tomorrowland away from science towards fantasy. I really disliked that they repainted the People Mover vehicles white with stripes and that Tomorrowland as a whole was recolored in pinks, purples and lavender which removed the warm optimistic feel that Tomorrowland used to have. All my opinion of course.

I like Star Tours in and of itself, but it's too bad they didn't already have a second gate at the time to put it in. Back in 1987 it really bothered me that they put a non-Disney IP in Disneyland as well as the Michael Jackson Captain EgO attraction. It's like yeah, Tomorrowland still had many cool attractions at that time, but as a whole it became out of balance. End of Rant.

Thanks Irene and Brother. I always appreciate your pics as they do provide documentation of an era not much covered online as far as photography go. Again, your brother has a nice sense of composition.

Nanook said...


The 'Pressler Era', and a glimpse into the world of how private equity firms operate. Yes, indeedee. He should have started at one prior to joining Disney. On second thought - he didn't need to.

Thanks to Irene and her brother for sharing these images.

Melissa said...

Mission to Mars was the first Disney attraction I have a road, so it would probably be my sentimental favorite even if it hadn't been fun in its own right.

I didn't catch Captain EO until it's EPCOT Revival a few years back.It was enjoyable, but probably would have been better with all of the 4D theater effect intact.

In Florida's Tomorrowland, they pulled down the beautiful entranceway and plastered the bronze and pastel toy robot doodads all over the building facades. But there wasn't enough money for a total renovation, so there are still swaths of the original futuristic, blue and white, 1971 design left visible. The result manages to look over the top and half-assed at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Major, Irene and brother for great pictures of Tomorrowland in the early years of it's decline.

I personally date the beginning of the end of the "Old Disneyland", that we remember so fondly, with the closing of Adventure Thru Inner Space, and it's replacement with Star Tours.

Still not sure why, with so much empty real estate in TL even then, that ATIS had to go to make room for the Star Wars ride. This isn't a knock on ST, it's fun, but why not in the Mission to Mars building? Office lease space is cheap, makes no sense to keep back-office departments in the high-earnings potential space inside the park.

If Pressler was a VC, he wasn't a very good one not to figure this out. I think the reason for most of this was really a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the product that Disneyland sells, and a lack of creativity (or appreciation for creativity) in developing that product. Sloppy workmanship all around, and a bad show.

Speaking of Bad Show, Captain EO was never more than MTV dreck, IMHO. It still reminds me of the movie "Ice Pirates", for some weird reason. It could have had a decent run of even a few years, but was allowed to drag on and on, far past the 'use-by' date. The fact that the mediocre "Kid Shrinking" show was allowed to run even longer just underscores the desiccation of the creative juices at WED in this sad era.

On our last family visit in 2015, in the middle of the Star Wars mania, we caught the brief reprise of Captain EO. My now-adult children were too young to remember that they had seen it before. My son's response: "WTF did I just watch, and why?". In fact, this show might have been the start of the Lucas love affair, which makes it even worse.


Melissa said...

Irene's brother is the best Irene's brother I never met.

Nancy said...

Very interesting commentary here.

The views here are beautiful and I especially love the colors. Thanks so very much to Irene and her brother as well as the Major for sharing these great shots.

I didnt know first hand the original Tomorrowlands, as my first visit wasnt until 2001. All I can say is thank goodness for GDB and all the other wonderful blogs and websites that provide me and others with these fun pictures and history of Disneyland the way it was meant to be

Major Pepperidge said...

Mike Cozart, thank you as always for the amazing detailed info! It sounds like all of the post “Mission to Mars” uses were not available to the general public. Strange that the Disneyland Entertainment music department had to use the MtM lobby as its office.

Mike Cozart again, I agree with your assessment 100%!! I often think about how much work goes into every project at the park, and I hate to say mean things, but damnit, there are times when it there is no other choice than to point out the elephant in the room. When I see some of the color usage around Disneyland, I am reminded of just how much thought John Hench invested in every choice. These days it seems as if they use whatever color is leftover from a previous project. Again, maybe I’m being unkind, but the money just isn’t being spent.

K. Martinez, Eisner’s concept of Montana in the future is such a snooze. Nothing against the great State of Montana, but I hated that so many of Eisner’s choices were based on his own personal likes. “My kid plays hockey, let’s start a hockey team”. “Brother Bear” was produced because Eisner wanted a movie about a bear. So dumb. Like you, I didn’t like the white Peoplemover vehicles, and I have already been pretty vocal about my dissatisfaction with the color palettes used throughout the park. Wouldn’t it have been amazing to have a whole “Star Wars Land” third gate? I’ll bet it would be worth the investment! “Captain EgO”, ha ha.

Nanook, just wait, I have some photos from Irene’s brother showing the Devil (Paul Pressler) himself!! What a disaster he turned out to be.

Melissa, I am surprised that Mission to Mars was your first Disney attraction! Not the Disneyland (or Walt Disney World) Railroad, or one of the Fantasyland dark rides? I just had no interest in watching “Eo”, though I know some people loved it. Soon I will have a very early photo of the entrance to Florida’s Tomorrowland - even in its barely-finished state it is a thing of beauty.

JG, gosh, I never thought of it, but YES, if only they had used the Mission to Mars building for Star Tours, rather than Adventure Thru Inner Space!! Perhaps it wasn’t suitable. And my guess is that they were itching to remove ATIS for any reason. Paul Pressler probably made some shareholders happy, but I have been a shareholder for a long time, and he didn’t make ME happy. Apparently his move to The GAP was not auspicious either. Based on the clips I’ve seen of “Eo”, it is hard to believe that it was the most expensive movie (based on dollars per minute) ever produced… it just doesn’t look that good.

Melissa, I hope Irene’s brother reads your comment!

Nancy, I still recall looking at magazines (such as “The E-Ticket”) and seeing parts of Disneyland history that were completely new to me. It was mind-boggling. I had to know more!


Btw: the TOMORROWLAND 1998 was referred to us John Hench design theorists as TACO BELL TOMORROWLAND since the TacoBell restaurants of the 1990's used those same burgundys, greens and yellow-brown colors .

And WHY would ANYBODY at WDI ever agree to using those colors in TOMORROWLAND ?!? The browns , rusts , brasses are all colors in frontierland , Adventureland and Fantasyland!!!

And ANY SINGLE IMAGINEER who ever agrees that Tomorrow really comes to fast and these old fashion colors are s good excuse for holding off future tomorrowland renovations should have been let go right-away . Doing a Discoveryland , or a Tomorrowland taking on the Deco-Tech 20's & 30's vision of the future is an entirely different matter. But Tomorrowland 'a leagacy is suppose to be a bright promising vision of what the future could be or what we hope it will be - and if it has to be updated every 5 years ..... so be it : that's Tomorrowland's legacy and imagineers should hold to it or go into another line of work!

Walt would be pissed of ( like John Hench was!!) if he saw that it 2017 that the greatest Tomorrowland was 40-50 years ago!!!

Disneyland's Tomorrowland has bee incredibly stagnant for almost 20 years now! And no major attention has been giving to it while more and more Pixar Pigeon droppings attrCtionshow up at Disneyland and DCA .....

How so dissapointed and ashamed the founding WED imagineers would be of WDI.

TokyoMagic! said...

I agree with Mike, they should all be ashamed! And boy, Tomorrowland '98 just won't go away, will it? I wonder if anyone involved with it is wishing that Disney would get rid of the '98 additions, so they don't have to be reminded of how they ruined an entire land.

I believe the Mission to Mars building was also used as a backstage area in the nineties for the performers of "Ham's All Doll Revue" when they did the Toy Story Funhouse overlay on Tomorrowland. The stage for that show was build right up against the Mission to Mars facade.

You can see how that newer Autopia sign was just placed in front of the elongated diamond shapes of the 1967 Autopia sign. I wonder how much that cost them?

TokyoMagic! said...

I forgot to thank Irene and her brother for sharing, and Major for posting!