Sunday, August 20, 2006

14 years later and still going strong

In the 1960's, Marc Davis pioneered many favorite scenes for the attractions that we love today. Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion to name a few. However, his work did not stop there. He continued on with various other shows, America Sings, Indiana Jones, etc. But along the way, he had a large involvement with the development of Tokyo Disneyland.

Tokyo Disneyland sports its own Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, but in the 80's, Disney decided to try and plus their classic attractions. While pirates seemed to be very similar with its pluses to the Disneyland version, The Haunted Mansion was a largely different rendition.

Marc Davis created many new concepts for the mansion, some that were vastly different than what is in there today.

One concept was for a themed load area that featured a few portraits as well as a large spider chandelier.

Another concept featured an unload area crypt similar to what you would find in Disneyland, but with mechanisms that almost make them like the Corridor of Doors, where various forces push out the plates to a soundtrack of moans.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Mom always said, "Don't play ball in the graveyard!"

Good Evening Bodies,

This week we take a gander at a broken bust.

As we go through the graveyard and pass the caretaker, minstrels, animals, etc., we finally come upon a quintet of singing busts. Four of these busts are up on their pedestals, one however seems to have been broken! Who could have done this? Thieves? Vandals? Rowdy kids? None of them. For the true culprit was Imagineering itself!

As far back as the "Disneyland Showtime" with the Osmonds and Kurt Russell, we have seen that originally, the bust of Uncle Theo (Thurl) was just fine in its original testing. In pictures of models, as well as concept art, the busts are all intact. So why did they break this one?

Perhaps it was for some comic relief? Perhaps to show the talents that Imagineers could project at a 45 degree angle? Most likely not.

The most likely answer, as seen above in the image of Yale Gracey sitting the bust on a stand is that, while the upper portion of the head and shoulders are symmetrical, the base is not. Of course, some people could argue that this could be a trick of the light and shadow. However, look at the image below.

The red line indicates where symmetry is present within the bust. As you can see, the rounded base is not symmetrical. So what better to do, that instead of resculpt the figure, to simply cut the foam bust in half and angle the projector. This little goof by the WED sculpting department has now created an interesting gag present within our current mansion.

This little problem at the American and Japanese Mansions has been somewhat corrected at Disneyland Paris' Phantom Manor. Thurl, now being at the far right of the now Quartet, is actually angled 45 degrees from the 90 degree up and down. This little misalignment cleverly masks the piece of the bust which throws off the illusion of symmetry.

On a further note, its interesting that in the Disney animated film "Hercules", Disney animators cleverly added a scene that included 5 singing busts with one being broken.

"And that's how he be-came a bro-ken bust!"

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Fourth Ward Schoolhouse?


This week, we take a look at an old painting and possibly the true inspiration for Phantom Manor's facade.

Various sources say that Phantom Manor's facade was developed from an old schoolhouse in Nevada. However, when I was flipping through a book of paintings by the artist, Edward Hopper, I found something a little more interesting. Edward Hopper painted a painting entitled "House by the Railroad". This painting shows a spooky old house across a train track. However, this house looks much more like Phantom Manor than the Fourth Ward Schoolhouse does.

However, some inspiration can be taken from the school house, but I feel that this is mainly for the color schemes of the Julie Svensden Ballroom painting of the house, prior to its collapse into ruin.

I honestly don't know if Phantom Manor was based off of this painting or not, I will let you decide.