Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"It's Merry May! Vacation's Near--"


It's Merry May! Vacation's near—
It's time to get your car in gear!
A Standard check-up—just the thing
To give your car vacation zing!
Then have your fun—without a care
For you'll find Standard everywhere!


Before you go, give us a peek!
We know a way to squelch that squeak!
And when you treat your car to grease
You'll roll along in quiet peace!

The batt'ry in the family bus--
Say--here's a job to leave to us!
We check 'em, charge'em, give 'em pep!
For this we've got a famous "rep"!


Treat your tires to Standard care!
Let us check 'em--tread and air.
They'll last you longer--save you dough!
Service free, where'er you go!

Unless you're guided by a star
You need a road map for your car!
From Standard men, all maps are free--
So's travel dope--for any spree!


Say! Leave your work and care today!
You need a trip--for rest and play!
Before you start--here's a tip for you--
If you need a change, your oil may, too!

Getting your car ready for vacation is the theme of our final Travel Tykes Standard Oil newspaper ad that appeared in the Los Angeles Times in May of 1939. Mickey Mouse is joined by Donald Duck, the Three Little Pigs and the Seven Dwarfs in a poetic fanfare to an automobile check-up.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"Which Oil Shall It Be for Thee?"

Behold! A queen of royal breed
Cries, "Oil, my lad—and show some speed:"
"And which oil shall it be for thee,"
Asks Mickey, "Queen, we've got three!"
"Come, come" she answers, "You know well
That each and every one is swell.
But naturally, I'll take my choice
A lady likes to have her voice!"

"Not only ladies, my fair queen,
But every driver that I've seen!
Each man to his own taste, I say
And Standard feels the self-same way!"

Though not part of the Travel Tykes series we have been featuring here at 2719, this Standard Oil newspaper ad still employed poetry and featured a fairytale theme. Minnie Mouse essentially returned to her character of Princess Minnie from the Mickey Mouse cartoon The Brave Little Tailor. As with the other Standard Oil ads we have featured, this one appeared in the Los Angeles Times in June of 1939, back when a quart of oil could be had for a mere fifteen cents.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Freeze Frame! - Mickey Under the Tree

Mickey Mouse toys were undoubtedly on the wish lists of countless children back in 1933. Disney artists payed homage to that notion with the appearance of this push-toy in that year's holiday-themed Silly Symphony The Night Before Christmas.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Snapshot! - Santa's Run Off to the Caribbean

"A week in the tropics and he'll be alright,"
"Sporting a tan as he rides out of sight."

The hilarious and imaginative set pieces at Walt Disney World's Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course always put me to mind of the Jimmy Buffett Christmas tune Ho Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum. The song relates of Santa curing his annual holiday burnout by spending a relaxing vacation in the Caribbean. In this particular scene, he enjoys a boat drink while falling victim to his mischievous elfish traveling companions.

Monday, December 01, 2008

"This Place Fries Men as Well as Eggs!"

"Help! Fan my brow!" poor Bashful begs,
"This place fries men as well as eggs!"
While Sleepy droops and near expires
Shouts Grumpy, "Men, just pipe them tires!"

Such heat! They're just about to roast!
Groans Grumpy, "I give up the ghost!"
But Happy, quick on inspiration,
Says, "Boys, there's help at Standard's station!"

Cries Sneezy, "Service everywhere!"
A-choo--some oil! A-choo--some air!"
"Ho! For the m-mountains," Doc observes.
"We'll scale the heights, spin 'round the curves!"
"Hold on," howls Grumpy, "take 'er slow!
I've heard the road is blocked with snow."

"It's ice cream," says the Standard man.
"Can you get through? Of course you can!
With Standard Gas your worry's over."
"Hooray!" yells Doc. "We're in c-clover!"

"Hi-Ho! We're off to Ice Cream Mountains!
The land of cool refreshing fountains.
We're through with motoring vexation--
We dump our griefs at Standard's station!"

As promised, here is the second of three Standard Oil newspaper ads that featured Walt Disney's Little People Travel Tykes. The adventure entitled "The Fried Egg Desert" appeared in the June 8, 1939 edition of the Los Angeles Times.

Friday, October 17, 2008

"And Standard Makes My Flivver Fly!"

From East! From West! For many a mile
They've come to visit Treasure Isle!
"Such crowds!" quacks Donald. "I must say
The gang's all here for "Snow White Day!'"
And such excitement! See folks run!
They leave the Tower of the Sun--
They flock from Courts of Moon and Flowers—
The Gayway--and the Elephant Towers.

Cries Donald, "Step up! Right this way!
She's fair as San Francisco Bay!"
The throng the big arena packs--
"She'll be here soon now," Donald quacks.
But no! A shout rings through the air!
"Snow's kidnapped! Help! Surround the Fair!"

Max Hare alone, in all the throng,
Had seen the villain do his wrong!
"The Wolf!" cries Max. "He snatched Snow White
And ran that way—with all his might!"

Yells Mickey, "Let me lead the chase!
With Standard Gas I'll win this race!
Quick! Get my car! She'll start in high
And Standards makes my flivver fly!"

Upon the bridge that spans the Bay
Brave Mickey overhauls his prey!
"Unhand her, villain! Free Snow White!
You've met your Waterloo, all right!"
"You saved me!" cries Snow White. But he
Says, blushing, "Standard Gas-and me!"

In 1939, Walt Disney partnered with the Standard Oil Company to produce an advertising campaign featuring many of the studio's well known cartoon characters. The commercial short The Standard Parade was perhaps the most famous and lasting component of that campaign, though the campaign extended to other media as well. Little seen since their original publications were newspaper ads that featured rhyming storytelling not altogether far removed from the Good Housekeeping magazine pages that had been popular throughout the 1930s.

I have found three "Tiny Tykes" ads that appeared weekly in the Los Angeles Times during May and June of 1939. This one is particularly significant in that it very prominently showcases San Francisco's Golden Gate Exposition, the west coast counterpart to the New York World's Fair at Flushing Meadows.

A "flivver" originally referred to a Ford Model T, but by 1939 had become a slang term for any old, run down automobile.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Windows to the Past: Davy Crockett in Atlanta

Young boys in their coonskin caps pose in front of the Loew's Grand Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia before attending the local premiere of Davy Crockett-King of the Wild Frontier. The film was a compilation of the original three Davy Crockett episodes from the Disneyland television show and was released to theaters in May of 1955. Sharing the bill was Arizona Sheepdog, a 22 minute featurette.

Friday, September 19, 2008

EPCOT 1939: The Original Illuminations

Walt Disney World's pyrotechnic displays have been long recognized as state-of-the-art spectaculars. Epcot's Illuminations, in its series of incarnations, has in particular been lauded for its truly amazing combination of fire, water, music and pyrotechnic elements, with many observers especially praising its stunning originality in both concept and design.

However . . .

"This Lagoon of Nations display centers in a giant fountain which rises from an oval lake two blocks wide by four blocks long. Water, geysering in beautiful patterns from 1,400 nozzles, is painted in constantly changing rainbow hues by batteries of powerful electric lights from below. At climaxes in a performance, towering gas flames roar through the columns of scintillating water, from more than a hundred jets. Showers of fireworks burst overhead. Stirring music thunders an accompaniment to the display from the heart of the fountain."

From the article "Fountains of Flame" by Kenneth M. Swezey;
Popular Science, August, 1939

Welcome back to EPCOT 1939.

I have been for some time wanting to continue this series of articles from the very early days of 2719 Hyperion. Those posts demonstrated the very distinct theme and design parallels between EPCOT Center and the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair. The Fair's Lagoon of Nation's Fountain Spectacle and its clear connection to EPCOT's Illuminations afforded me such an opportunity.

As we noted in previous EPCOT 1939 articles, the overall design of EPCOT Center was distinctly analogous to that of 1939 exposition. Similar to World Showcase, the Fair's Government Zone, which was comprised of pavilions representing both states and nations, was located in similar fashion behind the technology and commercial zones and featured a body of water at its center. It was there that the Fair's designers decided to create " . . . a scene to thrill thousands," as noted in the Popular Science article. The article was accompanied by a detailed illustration of the behind-the-scenes mechanisms that produced the show.

Click on illustration to enlarge

The article explained that "The whole complex mechanism is 'played,' as if it were some mighty organ, by three operators at electric consoles located in a near-by tower. Regular programs, based on such themes as “The Spirit of George Washington,” “Creation,” “Isle of Dreams,” “Fire Dance,” are presented to tens of thousands of spectators each evening." Some of those themes do not sound very far removed from that of the current Illuminations presentation, Reflections of Earth.

In his book, 1939: The Lost World of the Fair, author David Gelernter observed:

The critics raved. Fountain displays like the ones at the Lagoon of Nations and San Francisco's 1939 fair "deserve to be called examples of a new art," wrote Talbot Hamlin. "The best of them are as emotionally compelling as they are visually exciting." The show at the Lagoon gave the New York fair "its most unique and perhaps its most artistically memorable element." "Dramatic and indescribable beauty" wrote Gardner Harding.

And so the Fair closed out its daily operations every night, over a half a century prior to guests at EPCOT Center being entertained in similar fashion around the World Showcase lagoon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Windows to the Past: Snow White in a Rose Parade

Walt Disney and Disney characters have had a long association with the Tournament of Roses Parade that takes place every New Years Day in Pasadena, California. Walt was the Grand Marshall of the parade in 1966, and Mickey Mouse held that same honor some four decades later in 2005. But one of the earliest Disney-Rose Parade connections is displayed in this photo from the 1938 parade. Coming almost immediately on the heels of the film's December 1937 premiere at the Carthay Circle Theatre was this parade float that featured Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Windows to the Past: Have a Brighter Day!

Los Angeles mayor Norris Poulson, actor Jean Hersholt and Donald Duck team up to promote National Health Week during February of 1954. Donald proclaims "Eat a BETTER breakfast. . . have a BRIGHTER day!" Poulson served as the city's mayor from 1953 to 1961. Hersholt would pass away just two years after this photo was taken. His most famous movie role was that of Shirley Temple's grandfather in the 1937 version of Heidi, although he is likley best known as the namesake of the Motion Picture Academy's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11, 1968 - Walt Disney Day

Forty years ago today marked "Walt Disney Day" in the state of Missouri. The state's governor, Warren E. Hearnes, issued the proclamation a few weeks earlier as part of the planned festivities that would be held in Marceline on September 11, 1968 to celebrate the United States Postal Service's release of the commemorative Walt Disney postage stamp.

For an excellent reporting of that day's events, check out the article "Walt Disney's Stamp of Approval" by Wade Sampson at MousePlanet.

The Story of the Adventurers Almanac

Our good friend Jim Korkis has been recently deep in research relating to the histories of the Adventurers Club, both real and created. Since the beginning of the year, we have been featuring excerpts from the club's newsletter, the Adventurers Almanac. Relating to these reprints, Jim has generously shared with us the information he has uncovered revealing the creation of this fun, faux-publication.

So many guests wrote to the actors in the Adventurer’s Club (wrote to them in their personas) that it seemed best to create a more formal newsletter to answer these questions and share news. (The Almanac was based on an actual turn of the century newsletter called Adventurer’s Club Newsletter.) The editor and chief writer was Chris Oyen (who was the Show Writer and Director brought in January 1990 and continued in that role for the club and Comedy Warehouse for roughly the next five years).

Also contributing to the writing was Reed Jones, who was the stage manager and then became Show Director when Chris left.) Sometimes Chris allowed the performers to write something on a volunteer basis. Fan letters still kept coming so Chris set up a personal secretary for the club, Bernice Smythe-Fenton, who was a pseudonym for a cast member from Guest Communications who also worked closely with Chris who sometimes had to answer letters in character.

Yes, those “Membership meetings” did take place for guests to come and bring artifacts and share stories. That stopped for several reasons including the fact that Disney Legal was “troubled” about accepting artifacts from guests as well as the fact that the club manager felt the club was losing too much money on the free appetizers and drinks.

The almanac was put together in the days before computers so all those pictures and text were hand done and pasted onto a master mock-up. It stopped because it was labor intensive, it was getting to be too expensive because they had to increase the print run and because Chris left to work on the Diamond Horseshoe and Galaxy Search. In addition, it didn’t seem to generate new attendance but basically seemed to bring in the regulars (like for the Membership Meeting and free drink and appetizer).

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Souvenirs: The Star Wars Travel Postcards

These postcards from 2001 are among my favorite attraction-themed souvenirs. I misplaced them a few years ago, and was excited when they resurfaced during our recent housecleaning and remodeling projects. Star Wars has always been rooted in retro and so marrying the Star Tours attraction with the style of vintage travel posters made for some very dynamic and fun designs.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Adventurer's Alamanac: Lillie-Levitt Safari Returns

From Volume No. 55, Issue No. 9 of the Adventurer's Almanac, we learn of the adventures of the famous Lillie-Levitt Safari and Travel Company:

The Lillie-Levitt Safari and Travel Company returned from a Club affiliated tour of the Sepik River region of Papua, New Guinea. Tour leader Art "Paddlefoot" Levitt graciously donated a lime garnish holder used in native beetlenut chewing rituals to the Club's Permanent Collection. Immediately after mounting this new artifact on the western wall of the Zebra Mezzanine, "Paddlefoot" regaled those members present with one of his legendary lectures, complete with photographic documentation. The four surviving safari members of the original expedition force of twenty eight remarked that the experience was "unbelievable" Those interested in participating in future Lillie-Levitt Travel Company exploits, or for pricing information, may contact them c/o the Club. Scott "Thumbs" Lillie, who has become quite an amusing fixture at the Main Salon Bar, hinted that next spring they might be repeating the piranha teasing excursion to the lower Amazon which has made him somewhat of a Club celebrity.

On the same page of the newsletter there was also this interesting Bulletin Board announcement:

Congratulations to Alvin Chowderflute After months of living with, eating with, and copying the mating habits of the lemming, Alvin wired us that he had finally ascertained why these creatures mysteriously throw themselves off of cliffs and into the sea. Unfortunately, the stress of this undertaking apparently took its toll. When last sighted, Alvin was seen running at a fast pace at the head of an enormous lemming herd, screaming "I am your King! Follow me!" in the vicinity of Niagara Falls.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Freeze Frame! - Kinney's Saloon

It appears that Disney cartoon director Jack Kinney was moonlighting as a saloon owner as evidenced by this scene from the 1952 Goofy short Two Gun Goofy. Kinney spent close to three decades at the Disney Studio and was the primary director of the Goofy cartoons. He was good friends with story-man and big "Mooseketeer" Roy Williams as the two had both attended the same Los Angeles high school. His brother Dick Kinney also worked at the studio in the story department and the two collaborated on numerous cartoons.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

A Quick Note

Apologies for the shortage of content this week at both 2719 Hyperion and Boom-Pop! We got caught up in some extensive home remodeling that was long overdue but is now happily completed. We will return to our regular schedule of posting next week. Thanks as always for your continued interest and encouragement!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Snapshot! - Mickey and Minnie Go Green

Walt Disney World has long been famous for its topiaries and this vignette from the Magic Kingdom shows off these two wonderful examples. The backdrop of Cinderella Castle sets the scene for Mickey's and Minnie's horticultural counterparts.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Windows to the Past: An All Color Walt Disney Show

The Capitol Theater in downtown Salem, Oregon hosts an "All Color Walt Disney Show" during the summer of 1952. It was literally the best of all possible Disney entertainments. The live action feature The Story of Robin Hood, accompanied by the True-Life Adventure Water Birds and the cartoon short The Little House. Posters for The Story of Robin Hood and Water Birds can be seen in display cases on each side of the theater entrance.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Disney's Victory Gardens

Posting simultaneously on our sister blog Boom-Pop! is a feature on Victory Gardens, a home front initiative that encouraged citizens to cultivate vegetable gardens to help alleviate food shortages and reduce the need for rationing during World War II. The Victory Garden emerged as one of the more prominent aspects of mid-1940s popular culture, and so it was inevitable that the Walt Disney Studios would in some ways intersect with this pastime of patriotic seed sowing.

Although the Disney Studio never produced a Victory Garden themed cartoon, Walt did lend out two of his biggest stars to participate in Victory Garden promotional efforts. Mickey Mouse was featured on materials for a Green Thumb Contest sponsored by the National Victory Garden Institute in 1944. State war councils sponsored the contest locally. Illinois Mobilizes, the newsletter of the Illinois War Council, noted in their July 1, 1944 issue, "Each entrant receives a contest record book, with a cover especially designed by Walt Disney to be used for keeping a record of planting and harvesting."

Donald Duck was licensed for use on a Victory Garden sign, produced by W. L. Stensgaard. According to World War II historian and Disneyana expert David Lesjak, the sign came in two different types. A fiberboard version retailed for $1.00 while a sturdier one made of masonite board cost $1.69. Lesjak reported that a promotional flier sent to retailers advertised that, "Everybody will want to identify their victory garden with this colorful, durable, outdoor marker. Creates a new spirit for gardens. Thousands will buy for own use, also gifts and prizes."

Donald Duck planted his own Victory Garden in the comic book Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #31, published in April 1943. In "Donald Duck's Victory Garden," Donald and nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie square off against a trio of hungry crows, out to pilfer freshly planted Victory seeds. The comic was written and drawn by Disney Legend Carl Barks and was his first Donald Duck story published for the Walt Disney Comics and Stories title.

In the mid-1990s, Disney Imagineers planted a Victory Garden just off of Sunset Boulevard in the then Disney-MGM Studios at Walt Disney World. That particular area of the park evokes a strong World War II-era atmosphere and a Victory Garden is a natural extension of that theming. Set adjacent to Rosie's All-American Cafe (playing tribute to another war-era pop culture icon, Rosie the Riveter) is Rosie's Victory Garden.

Be sure to visit Boom-Pop! for the companion piece to this post, Gardening for Victory.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lost Imagineering: The Lewis and Clark Expedition

The Lewis and Clark Expedition was the proposed E-Ticket centerpiece of the Native America area of the ultimately canceled Disney's America theme park. The blue sky designs for the attraction would subsequently serve in the development of Kali River Rapids at Disney's Animal Kingdom and also, and more directly, Grizzly River Run at Disney's California Adventure. Press materials provided the following description of the Native America area:

Native America explores the life of America's first inhabitants, their accord with the environment and the timeless works of art they created long before European colonization. Guests may visit an Indian village representing such Eastern tribes as the Powhatans, or join in a harrowing Lewis and Clark raft expedition through pounding rapids and churning whirlpools.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Geiger's Rare Books and 1st Editions

Disney's Hollywood Studios is literally peppered with references to the golden age of Hollywood. One notable tribute goes largely unseen--a window advertising Geiger's Rare Books and 1st Editions. The window is located on the second story of a building facade near the Mama Melrose Ristorante Italiano.

The window sign pays homage to the classic 1945 movie The Big Sleep, based on the Raymond Chandler novel and starring Humphrey Bogart as private eye Philip Marlowe. In the film, Marlow is hired to investigate a suspected blackmailer named Arthur Gywnn Geiger. Early in the movie, Marlow visits Geiger's place of business, A. G. Geiger's RARE BOOKS and DE LUXE EDITIONS. Geiger's storefront is featured prominently in a scene where Humphrey Bogart dons a pair of dark glasses prior to entering the shop.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Take Jack's Haunted Mansion Holiday Tour

I just noticed an interesting special feature listed on the specifications for The Nightmare Before Christmas Collector's Edition DVD arriving in stores today. Jack's Haunted Mansion Holiday Tour provides viewers with a virtual tour of Disneyland's annual holiday makeover of the classic attraction. An optional "Off Track" feature reveals a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the popular overlay.

Additional features new to this edition include commentary tracks by Tim Burton, director Henry Selick and composer Danny Elfman, and a Christopher Lee rendition of Burton's original poem upon which the film was based. I usually steer clear of DVD "double-dips" but I have to admit being especially intrigued by the Haunted Mansion Holiday feature. If anyone happens to pick up the set, let us know your impressions via the comments section.

Image © WDSHE. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Windows to the Past: Wilshire Theatre 1931

Mickey Mouse shared the marquee at the Wilshire Theatre in Los Angeles with what was one of the most popular films of 1931, Trader Horn. The adventure movie starred Harry Carey and was notable for being the first major Hollywood production to be filmed on location in Africa. The Mickey Mouse cartoon was likely The Moose Hunt, as both it and Trader Horn were released in May of 1931. Disney would parody Trader Horn the following year with the cartoon Trader Mickey.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Walt Disney's Imagineering Legends

Over fifty years ago when Walt Disney launched Disneyland, he successfully blended the creative forces of imagination with the sciences of engineering to essentially create a new and wholly innovative form of entertainment: the theme park. Yet it is a chapter in Disney history that has long been neglected and under served in book form. There have been volumes dedicated to the company's legacy in animation, but the history of WED Enterprises and subsequently Walt Disney Imagineering, has been chronicled primarily outside of mainstream publications in smaller, yet still comprehensive efforts such as the E-Ticket Magazine and numerous other fan-based initiatives.

That is why Walt Disney's Imagineering Legends and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Park by Jeff Kurtti is such a welcome release. While the Disney-published 1997 book Walt Disney Imagineering provided an extensive and lavishly illustrated history of the what of Disney Imagineering, Imagineering Legends focuses on the who--those first-generation Imagineers who literally over the course of two decades pioneered the creation and execution of theme park entertainment.

The book, not unlike a Disney theme park attraction, is an altogether immersive journey back to earlier times and places, rich in both design and content. Creatively designed by the late Bruce Gordon, the pages of Imagineering Legends strongly evoke via retro-themed styles, Disney Imagineering's own Hyperion era of creativity and innovation during the 1950s and 1960s.

Surrounded by Gordon's wonderfully placed designs and illustrations, author Jeff Kurtti profiles twenty-nine "Imagineering Legends," beginning with the very first Imagineer, Walt Disney himself. Kurtti then separates the "Legends" by various disciplines. Following Disney, Harper Goff, Ken Anderson, Herbert Ryman and Sam McKim are credited as The Prototype Imagineers; Richard F. Irvine and Bill Cottrell are members of The Executive Suite; Marvin Davis and Bill Martin are The Place Makers; Marc Davis and Claude Coats form The Story Department; Masters of Mixed Media include Bill Evans, Rolly Crump, Yale Gracey and Blaine Gibson; The Model Shop consists of Fred Joerger, Harriet Burns and Wathel Rogers while The Machine Shop features Roger Broggie and Bob Gurr; The Music Makers are the Sherman Brothers, Buddy Baker, George Bruns and X. Atencio. Kurtti concludes the book with whom he considers The Unofficial Imagineers, Ub Iwerks, Bill Walsh, James Algar and Ward Kimball; and showcases John Hench as The Renaissance Imagineer in the book's final chapter.

Kurtti's individual biographies are extensive and informative, showcasing individuals who have largely gone unrecognized and too often unacknowledged in other mainstream Disney histories. And the accompanying illustrations truly compliment the text. They are not repetitions of previously published concept art, but generally heretofore unseen artwork and photographs of the Imagineers themselves as they applied their skills and talents. This is by no means a book to quickly rush through; every page is an utter joy to behold, read and ultimately savor.

Beyond these many merits, Walt Disney's Imagineering Legends and the Genesis of the Theme Park will also fill a much needed void that has been present in Disney history research libraries for some time. In the past, information on the individuals showcased in Imagineering Legends has been scattered among many different and too often, hard to access resources such as the E-Ticket and Disney magazines. For me personally, I foresee it becoming a valuable and indispensable resource for many, many years to come.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Yes, That's Donald Duck

For all the details, check out this very interesting post on Michael Sporn's Splog.
You'll be quite amazed.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Souvenirs: The Story and Songs of the Orange Bird