New videos on YouTube…

I bought my first digital camera in 1996 and began taking photos at theme parks. A few years later, I bought a Digital8 (digital) camcorder. I have begun the process of posting old raw footage taken starting in 2000 at Disneyland. The new YouTube channel is:

I have also begun the process of upscaling this old pre-HD video into higher quality. I will be trying to post a new video each week, when time permits.

I have many hours of video to go through from the 2000 and 2001 trips, including lots of footage from things like Rocket Rods, Country Bears, Aladdins Oasis (the show that was there after, not the restaurant), Superstar Limo and many other items that live on today only in Yesterland.

It’s going to be a fun year.

Here’s one to get you started… It is a ride on the Sun Wheel at Disney’s California Adventure, recorded just ten days after the park opened to the public. As time allows, I will be reposting these old videos in much quality formats.

Until then…

ABC Soap Opera Bistro in 2001

One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2022 is to import all my old Disney vacation videos and share the interesting ones. I have begun experimenting with enhancing the old Digital8 footage using A.I. software to increase the resolution and details. This really messes up much of it, but as you can see from the side-by-side screen shots below, its not too terrible.

It should be quite an interesting project. I have hundreds of hours of footage to sort through.

More to come…

The Park Hopping video archives…

As I have mentioned (many times), I purchased my first digital camera in 1996. This was followed by my first digital video camcorder in 1999. It recorded digitally on 8mm video tapes. Over the years, I recorded hundreds of tapes at theme parks and Renaissance festivals. This was followed by an upgrade to an HD camcorder that used DV tapes (which I have dozens and dozens of those), then a jump to camcorders that used memory cards.

All the memory card footage is backed up to hard drives, but very little of the Digital8 and DV tapes exist anywhere other than those tapes. Hopefully my old camcorders still work, and the tapes can still be read, because I would like to begin the process of importing them for editing and sharing.

Stay tuned… This will be a huge project for 2022.

Universal and Sea World and Covid-19

Although I tend to focus on the past with photo essays going back to 1996, I hope to find some time to discuss a bit of the present — Covid-19 and how the Orlando theme parks are dealing with it. There are some interesting differences in the level of precautions taken by Disney Springs, Universal Orlando Resort and Sea World.

Stay tuned…

Disneyland’s last Annual Passholder Party in 1997.

I returned to visiting Disneyland in December 1995. I was then an annual pass holder every year except for the dark times (after the great tech layoffs following 9/11) through the late 2000s.

Disneyland used to do a yearly Annual Passholder Party. It was a hard ticket event that gave pass holders special access in the evening to presentations, entertainment and food. The last one was 23 years ago today on March 14, 1997. I thought it might be fun to look back on the event through my ancient digital photos.

Getting there is half the fun

I travelled for work, and just happened to be in Irvine, California the week this event was held. I had no ticket, but my local friend Steve roamed the lines asked if anyone had an extra ticket. Thanks to Steve and some random nice guy I was able to experience the event. (I used to have a picture of him, but it seems to have been lost to time.)

New Tomorrowland

The new New Tomorrowland was under construction, so there were many displays set up showing things to come.


This one shows the paint job that Innoventions would soon have.

Innoventions model. Disneyland Annual Passholder Part on May 14, 1997

It was on this night that the made the building rotate (to great applause) for the first time since it America Sings was inside. I highly suspect they practiced this before they tried to power it up in front of annual pass holders.

Rocket Rods

The PeopleMover had been shut down for a few years, but its high speed replacement, Rocket Rods, would soon be operating. This was a map of the track layout.

Disneyland Annual Passholder Part on May 14, 1997

The next resort…

And of course, with Disneyland soon to be the Disneyland Resort featuring a new theme park, Disney’s California Adventure, there was concept art on hand about changes coming to the resort area.

Disneyland Annual Passholder Part on May 14, 1997

And check out this “now” and “later” image showing the yucky run down strip mall look that surrounded Disneyland … and the lush tourist district it would soon be transformed into:

Disneyland Annual Passholder Part on May 14, 1997

Won’t you let me take you on a Disney cruise?

The Disney Cruise lines was also represented, showing off a model of an upcoming cruise ship.

Disneyland Annual Passholder Part on May 14, 1997

Animal Kingdom: coming soon!

There was also a new Florida Disney theme park opening — the first new U.S. park since Disney/MGM Studios opened nine years earlier. Animal Kingdom was represented with a display of concept art.

Disneyland Annual Passholder Part on May 14, 1997
Disneyland Annual Passholder Part on May 14, 1997

Test Track!

The transformation of Epcot’s World of Motion into Test Track also got some concept art.

Disneyland Annual Passholder Part on May 14, 1997

Imagineers standing by…

This is where I got to meet some imagineers for the first time. I had my photo taken with Bruce Gordon and Tony Baxter, though I don’t believe I had any idea who either of them were at the time.

Hungry yet?

Outside of Tomorrowland, the walkway between New Orleans Square and the Rivers of America was taken over by food booths. You could buy samples of all kinds of food items from the different lands of the parks. Back then, the prices were very reasonable!

Disneyland Annual Passholder Part on May 14, 1997
Disneyland Annual Passholder Part on May 14, 1997
Disneyland Annual Passholder Part on May 14, 1997
Disneyland Annual Passholder Part on May 14, 1997

Light Magic

This was also the first night we got to see a sneak preview of the upcoming Light Magic parade… but I will save that for a second part.

I thought I had many more photos from this night, but it appears they may have been lost with some hard drive failures I have had over the years. Stay in school kids, and backup often.

Until next time…

P.S. The photos in this article were all 640×480 low resolution images from my Epson PhotoPC camera. They have been upscaled using software as an experiment. What do you think? I think they look like Instagram filters. . .

Using 1996 photos in 2020.

When I bought my first digital camera in 1996, the specs were quite impressive. My Epson PhotoPC could take a picture large enough to fill my entire PC’s VGA-resolution screen – 640×480! Of course, on dial-up modems, you would never put pictures of that size on a website, so I often used the half-size 320×240 images online (or smaller).

But today, icons for phone apps are larger than 640×480. My huge 1996 pictures now look like postage stamps.

But technology always finds a way, and I am experimenting with some modern image processing that uses artificial intelligence to try to figure out what was supposed to be in the photo, and make it larger.

Here is an example… This is a 1996 photo from Disneyland:

1996 Disneyland Frontierland (original).

And here is the same photo, reprocessed to be double the resolution:

6401996 Disneyland Frontierland (reprocessed).

If you viewed the original at double size and compared it with the reprocessed photo, you could see quite a difference. But in small sizes in this article, it just looks a tad sharper. Zooming in on the people in the canoe shows there wasn’t enough detail for the AI to do much. It gives them a weird artistic filtered look.

Let’s see if we can show them side-by-side. You can click on these to see them full size.

The question I have for you today is … should I reprocess the photos I share in these articles? Or just use the original 1996 versions as-is?

Comments are appreciated.

Remembering the Soap Opera Bistro

In February 2001, I got to visit the just-opened Disney’s California Adventure Park. It seems the first thing we did was get breakfast at the ABC Soap Opera Bistro. Here’s a few minutes of video from that brand new restaurant.

Soap Opera Bistro, 2/18/2001.

More to come…

My Haunted Mansion BBS

NOTE: Unfortunately, the WordPress theme I am using does not expand, even on wide screens. I will replace the BBS text output with images soon.

Since I had so much fun describing how I shared photos using an internet FTP server in the mid-1990s, I thought it might be fun to share something from even earlier…

Before the World Wide Web came to be a thing in the 1990s, we had bulletin board systems (BBS) in the 1980s. I spent endless hours on my old Radio Shack Color Computer dialing in to other people’s computers where I would read messages from others and post my own. There were hundreds of these systems operating in Houston, Texas in the early 1980s.

Eventually, I ran my own BBS. It went through many incarnations over the years, with the final one running in 1995 in Des Moines, Iowa. That system was called DeltaBoard. The “delta” was for change, because the system had many different themes and you’d get a random one each time you called in.

One of the themes was Haunted Mansion. I recently found my old BBS software and thought I’d show you what it looked like.

Connection Established

When you dialed in, the first thing you would see was the system ID message:

When hinges creek in doorless chambers, and strange and frightening sounds
echo through the halls...  Whenever candlelights flicker where the air is
deathly still - that is the time when ghosts are present - practicing their
terror with ghoulish delight...
        .                .      .    \\  .  /--------------------------\
Welcome, foolish mortals, to the...  //.   / .  .  _  . . . . ___ _ __  \
   _   .  .  __________  .  .       /_     | |__| /_\ | | |\|  | |_ | \ |
  (_)     __/ ___  ___ \__   .   __/  \  . | |  | | | |_| | |  | |_ |_/ |
 .   .   /__\ |_|  |_| /__\   __/    /_    | .  .  _  . .  __ .  _  . . |
   .     |[]| .. __ .. |[]|  /  .   / /  . | |\/| /_\ |\| (_  | / \ |\| |
     . + |--| # |  | # |--| +        /_    | |  | | | | | __) | \_/ | | |
      _|_|__|___|__|___|__|_|_   .    / .  \                            /
 __---         /    \         ---__         \--------------------------/
I am your host.  Your ... Ghost Host.  Kindly step all the way in please and
make room for everyone.  There's no turning back now . . .
Please tell me your name, or type 'NEW' if this is your first visit.

Bad password

If you couldn’t remember your password, you’d see this:

Ah, there you are.  And just in time.  There's a little matter I forgot to
mention...  Beware of entering the wrong password.
Hurry back, hurry back.  Be sure to bring your real password if you decide to
join us.  Make final arrangements now.  We've been dying to have you...
The mansion door slams shut behind you...
                                                               Rest In Peace.

Welcome, foolish mortal!

Once you logged in successfully, you would be presented the message of the day:

Our tour begins here in this gallery where you see paintings of some of our
guests as they appeared in their corruptable, mortal state...
Your cadaverous pallor betrays an aura of foreboding, almost as though you
sense a disquieting meamorphosis.  Is this haunted room actually stretching? 
Or is it your imagination?
And consider this dismaying observation:  this chamber has no windows, and no
doors.  Which offers you this chilling challenge...  To find a way out!
Of course, there's always _my_ way . . .           ___-------___
                                                  /     RIP  _/ \
                                                  |             |
                                                  | Your        |
                                                  |\_   Name    |
                                                  |        Here |

Orders, please.

After this, you would be presented with the main menu. It had all the various options you could do… It looked like this:

                  ..        /--------------------\        ..
                 _||_    @}| Haunted Mansion Menu |{@    _||_
                  ||        \--------------------/        ||
         ________/||\_______  _||____________||_  _______/||\_________  
        /                   \/                  \/                    \ 
       | {A} Solicitors        -}- Graveyard -{-   {L}ist Spirits Here |
       | {B}oo-letins...       {N} All Tombstones  {O}ther Mansions    |
       | {C}all Ghost Host     {P} Carve Tombstone {Q}uestionaires     |
       | {D}own/Uploads        {R} Read Tombstones {T}erminal Setup    |
       | {E} Playground        {!} List Crypts     {U} Spirit Listing  |
       | {F}eedback to Ghost     Private  Mail     {V}ideo Mode        |
       | {G}oodboo - Log Off   {M}orbid Mail       {W}orkspace         |
       | {H}elp                {S}end Morbid Mail  {X}pert Menu Toggle |
       | {I}nfo on Mansion     {K} Config Alias    {Y}our Vital Signs  |
       | {J}oin a Seance       {Z} Send File       {.} Today's Spirits |
       |                                                               |
       | {@} Change Password   {/} List Processes  {=} FAST Log Off!   |

Ah, so punny. The message base was the “graveyard.” In case you were wondering what the other options where, here was the generic DeltaBoard menu:

                           |                      |__
                           | DeltaBoard Main Menu | |
                           |______________________| |
       |                                                               |__
       | [A)dvertisements       Public Messages    [L)ist Who's Online | |
       | [B)ulletins & News    [N)ews Reader/Net   [O)ther BBS List    | |
       | [C)hat with Allen     [P)ost Local Msg    [Q)uestionaires     | |
       | [D)own/Uploads        [R)ead Local Msgs   [T)erminal Setup    | |
       | [E)ntertainment       [!) List Msg Area   [U)ser Listing      | |
       | [F)eedback to Allen     Private  Mail     [V)ideo Mode        | |
       | [G)oodbye - Log Off   [M)ail Read         [W)orkspace         | |
       | [H)elp with System    [S)end Mail         [X)pert Menu Toggle | |
       | [I)nformation         [K) Config Alias    [Y)our Statistics   | |
       | [J)oin a Conference   [Z) Send File       [.) Today's Callers | |
       |                                                               | |
       | [@) Change Password   [/) List Processes  [=) FAST Log Off!   | |
       |_______________________________________________________________| |


And lastly, when the user was done and logged off, they would see this final message:

Ah, there you are.  And just in time.  There's a little matter I forgot to
mention:  Beware of hitchhiking ghosts.  They have selected you to fill our
quota, and they'll haunt you until you return. 
     If you would like to join our jamboree,
     There's a simple rule that's compulsory:
          Mortals pay a token fee...
          Rest in peace; the haunting's free!
     So hurry back, we would like your company...
The ghost will follow you home...
Hurry back, hurry back.  Be sure to bring your death certificate if you decide
to join us.  Make final arrangements now.  We've been dying to have you...
The mansion door slams shut behind you...
                                                               Rest In Peace. 

And more!

Other themes included Star Trek (parody), a hotel, a medieval castle, a groovy “den of iniquity”. It was such a great time back then, before point-and-click and pictures took over correspondence.

But who knows … now that I have found my old software, maybe I will resurrect this Haunted Mansion BBS sometime and make it available over the Internet.

Until next time…

Sharing digital photos in the 90s

A long, long time ago, I got my first digital camera and wanted to share photos online. The problem was, back then a website might only give you 512K (five thousands bytes, not mega, not giga) of storage. I could only put a few small photos online at a time.

To work around this, I would share photos directly from my computer by running a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server on it. I would dial in to my dail-up Internet Service Provider (ISP) that I dialed into with a dial-up modem (get the point?) and let it run overnight for folks to connect to and download photos.

I am confident I had the largest collection of Disney photos online anywhere on the Internet.

I had a script (a DOS .bat batch file) I would run any time I wanted to turn the service on. It would upload a customize web page to my website that had the current link to my computer at home. When I would shut it down, another script would upload a “the server is not available right now” page.

It was cutting edge.

When you’d connect, you’d see something like this:

Time travel commencing…

When a user would connect (all via a text interface, not the world wide web), they would see this:

[Welcome Before Login]
| INTERNET EXPLORER USERS!!!  Having problems?  Try NETSCAPE!  It works :)
| Also, PLEASE set your "ftp" configuration to send your e-mail address as
| the password.  If you don't know how to do this, try NETSCAPE!  :)
           Welcome to the Al's Place FTP Photo Archives Server!

Hello, user connecting from [$origin].  Please login as "anonymous"
and use your COMPLETE e-mail address as the password.  Want your own
login account?  mailto:// and ask!

It’s funny thinking back to the days when the Microsoft stuff was just not very good at Internet. Above, “[$origin]” was replaced with the IP address of the user visiting. All connections on the internet at tracked, and the same was true even 25 years ago.

I had a public anonymous account set up so anyone could connect. Once they entered the correct username, they would see this:

[Welcome After Login]
Hello, [$user], and welcome!  There is/are currently [$usersonline] user(s) 
online (out of [$maxusers] allowed).

7/3/98 *** Want your own private account here?  E-mail me for details!

Welcome to the *Al's Place* FTP server.  This site is only available
when I am logged into the network:

     WWW -

Here you will over ***4,600*** digital photos (over 220 megs) from
theme park and amusement places such as:  Disneyland, Walt Disney World,
Kennywood, Six Flags Georgia, Paramount's Gret America, Adventureland,
Universal Studios, and many, many others.

Most images are in 640x480x16.7 JPG format and about 55K in size.  You
are welcome to use any of the images on your web site if you please give
me credit (such as a link back to my site).

Enjoy!  And please drop me a line if you encounter any problems
or have any specific photo requests!  mailto://[$email]

My ICQ number is 373286.  Page me if you need to.

Wow, 4600 whole photos back in 1998! The first generation digital camera I had would take a 640×480 resolution photo and store it at around 55K, which is why that many photos only took 220 megabytes. (Well, I say “only” today, but back then, that was a ton of space. It would have cost a fortune to pay for that much storage on a web host provider. Just getting a custom domain name was $75 back then – adjust that for inflation in 2020 and you’ll get the idea of how much it was then, compared to $8 today.)

And does anyone remember ICQ? “I Seek You” was an early chat program. I had started out using one called PowWow. PowWow is long gone, but some variation of ICQ still runs today (or did the last time I checked). My user number was pretty early considering they were in the tens of millions (wiki says 42 million daily users in 2010).

Now, although I had an anonymous account that anyone could use, I did ask that they use their e-mail address for the password just so I could know who was visiting. If they did not give it, they would see this:

[Anonymous Denied]

Anonymous users are currently not allowed to log in.  Please send e-mail
to [$email] asking for access.

You are likely seeing this if you didn't use your real e-mail address
for the password when you logged in.  Please be considerate and at least
let me know who you are -- thanks!

I could shut off the service at any time, and then users would see this:

[System is Closed]
Al's Place is currently closed.  Please try back later, or sent mail to
[$email] asking what the problem it.

And anytime I needed to shut it down, any user currently online would see this:

[System Shutdown]
The system is being shut down.  Please check back again later, as
sometimes I just have to take the server offline to reboot the system.

Since I was running this on my 486 Toshiba laptop, and was using a very slow dial-up connection, I would limit the number of users that could be online at any time. It was slow enough as it was trying to download a 55K image over dialup.

[No More Users Allowed]
| INTERNET EXPLORER USERS!  Try NETSCAPE.  It seems to logout properly
| from FTP sites such as this.  IE seems to "hang" holding on to the
| connection.  Most of the time when the system says it is full is due to
| Internet Explorer apparently holding on to IDLE connections.  Sorry!
Sorry, but the Al's Place FTP Photo Archive Server has a limit of [$maxusers]
users logged in at the same time.  Currently, there are [$usersonline] users
logged in right now ([$anonsonline]/[$maxanons] anonymous).  Please try back
again in a bit and see if the system is less busy.

NOTE:  If you are trying to connect using a web browser, each access
counts as a "user".  Please note that this site feeds off of a computer
that is connected to the internet by a 56K dialup modem (when I am
online) so doing multiple downloads is going to make things go much
slower for all connected.

I even had online help!

Sorry, no help is available currently.  I hope to have some in the
future.  Until then, feel free to leave mail to [$email] and
ask any questions you may have.


Well, at least I could ban troublesome users, and they’d see this:

[Your Class is Banned]
Your user class is currently banned from accessing the system.

I know you are stunned to know people were being jerks on the internet even in the 1990s.

And lastly, when the user was ready to disconnect, they would see this:

Thank you for visiting the Al's Place FTP Photo Archives server!

And that, my digital friends, is how folks were able to browse and download digital photos back in the 1990s before websites were able to handle large photo galleries.

Enjoy surfing in the 2020s! It’s much nicer than it was 25 years ago.

Until next time…

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