August 26, 2012

Lightyears beyond Buzz

Neil Armstrong, along with Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins of Apollo 11, was an attraction as at home in 1969's Tomorrowland as at Tranquility Base on the moon's surface.

The Tomorrowland Stage stood about where Space Mountain does today. Disneyland guests stood there on that famous day when Armstrong stepped off the ladder of the Lunar Module and spoke his famous words. What it must have been like to see it broadcast live while surrounded by the Magic Kingdom's "world on the move"!
A vista into a world of wondrous ideas, signifying man's achievements . . . a step into the future, with predictions of constructive things to come. Tomorrow offers new frontiers in science, adventure, and ideals: the atomic age . . . the challenge of space . . . and the hope for a peaceful and unified world.
Neil spoke and was honored at Space Mountain's 2005 "relaunch," receiving a plaque thanking him for the inspiration that his "giant leap" brought to the world. Can you imagine him stowing it a locker after that ceremony and then wanting to ride "Rockin' Space Mountain"? Or go off to "save the galaxy from the Evil Emperor Zurg on Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters"? Or get "accidentally jettisoned into a battle with the Empire" on Star Tours?

Disneyland had the right idea when it honored the first man to set foot on the moon. Honoring his memory should spark a renewed effort to rebuild Tomorrowland in the same spirit that it once radiated and that Neil Armstrong represented.

August 12, 2012

What a day in the Park

Thank goodness for old home movies of our Disneyland. If you were one of those who still feel something when you think back around thirty years to the Park as it was then, these could just as easily be images of your family. A brief record of a simple but wonderful day long ago.

Here is the world of imagination, hopes, and dreams before marketing largely replaced magic or morphed it into the CGI-based surrealism that seems to surround everything new. Movie tie-ins remained subtle at most (how many people have seen "Third Man on the Mountain," the picture that inspired Walt's Matterhorn?) A family's admission didn't cost a mortgage payment.

Plus, just look what you got for your money! Especially after you reached the Hub, climbed down off the old Fire Wagon, and stepped into Tomorrowland. Mary Blair's murals cheerfully salute children of the world. PeopleMover vehicles and silent Monorails glide by overhead. Rocket Jets swirl higher, and Skyway buckets swing above all. A world on the move that we thought would never stop.

In a way, it hasn't. Sure, you can tear down and build over Disneyland, reshape it into a Pixar paradise, strip it of its permanent Cast, and squeeze it until the last dollar dribbles out. But you just can't deconstruct the happiness that it helped create back when happiness was its primary reason for being. The Happiest Place on Earth is always there for those who knew it.

That's the great thing about these old home movies. Most don't even have sound, but the happiness is almost fully preserved. If the only thing you know is the "resort" of today, then you can see just enough to feel a little bit of how it felt to be part of the magic of Disneyland during earlier days. And if, like me, you haven't been to the Magic Kingdom in a long, long time, then the scenes in these movies might have been shot yesterday. You can still feel all of it.

What a day in the Park.