Adventureland in 1996.

Remember video games and arcades? Maybe, if you are old like me. In the 1970s and 1980s, Disney supposedly had a policy of not allowing outside cartoon/artwork in their parks. The arcades may have had Pac-Man, but the outside of the cabinet was stripped of the familiar Pac-artwork. “Only Disney characters inside a Disney park!” (Today, I guess that extends to any character that Disney purchased from someone else.)

The Indiana Jones Adventure had just opened the previous year, and Disneyland put one of the 1993 Williams Indiana Jones pinball games in a shop in Adventureland. But, instead of it having the traditional arcade artwork, it was retrofitted to look like it was a wooden box with bamboo legs:

1996 photo of Disneyland’s custom Indiana Jones pinball game.

It would be twenty years later before I would finally play this game and see it in its original format (at a local Des Moines arcade/bar called Up-Down). It’s a fun pin, and I kind of wish I had played this custom version. Does anyone know where it ended up after it left this location? Also, notice the boxes on the ground. Those were so kids could step up and play the game — common in arcades.

Also, do you remember when live birds were on display outside the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse?

A live bird in front of the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse on August 18, 1996.

For that matter, do you even remember that Tarzan’s Treehouse used to have another owner?

Aladdin’s Oasis on May 20, 1996.

And, if I had realized it was going away the next year, I might have eaten at Aladdin’s Oasis. Notice the menus posted to the left and right of the entrance of this tiny photo.

This location had been home to the Tahitian Terrace until 1993. I guess Disney Synergy(tm) was alive and well in the early 1990s and they rethemed it to tie into the successful Aladdin movie. By the time I finally visited, this location had been changed from a restaurant to a character show. Somewhere I have video of that show that I need to dig up and post.

So many photos, so much video, and so little time. Speaking of time…

Until next time…

Pleasure Island’s Comedy Warehouse in 1997.

I don’t want to leave Walt Disney World out, but I haven’t had time to go through and resort/rename them yet. The filename format of my earlier digital camera was MMDD_XXX.JPG, so I can only tell the month and date unless I open the image in special software. (It takes special software because this was before the Exif standard used by modern images. In those early years of digital cameras, there was no standard. My Epson PhotoPC uses a JFIF header to store date code, and since no graphics programs knew how to handle this, any image I rotated or edited completely lost this information. But I digress…)

In 1989, Walt Disney World opened a bunch of nightclubs and called it Pleasure Island. It stills seems like an idea that didn’t belong with the family image of Disney, but for those who did drink, it was a real fun place.

Pleasure Island in 1997.

One of the bars was called the Comedy Warehouse. You could see a group of comedians perform an improv comedy show multiple times a night. I remember visiting Pleasure Island during a family vacation. There weren’t many places a minor could go, but the Comedy Warehouse was one of them…

When I started visiting Walt Disney World on my own in the 1990s, I wanted to see how different a visit to Pleasure Island would be for someone older than 21.

Staff, not cast member, at the Comedy Warehouse.

The comedy show was hit or miss, like most improv. Suggestions were taken from the audience and skits were performed. There was a phone in the audience they could call and get suggestions, too. I recall noticing that the show I saw in 1997 was very similar to the one I’d seen years earlier with my family. It seems tourists are fairly predictable when it comes to audience suggestions.

Comedy Warehouse in 1997.

The thing I liked the best about this place was all the Disney tributes in the building. By 1997, Epcot had already started to change from the E.P.C.O.T. I loved as a kid in 1983. This former Imagination pavilion sign caught my attention:

Magic Journeys sign at Comedy Warehouse in 1997.

Magic Journeys was the original 3-D film at E.P.C.O.T.’s Future World. I learned later that it also ran at Disneyland in their Tomorrowland. Ah, look at those glorious 1982 colors!

Captain Hook’s Galley sign at Comedy Warehouse in 1997.

I do not know where the Captain Hook’s Galley sign was from, unless it was from the famous Disneyland Chicken of the Sea restaurant. If you follow that link, you can read all about it on Yesterland. Perhaps there was a similar eatery at Magic Kingdom in Florida? Or perhaps this was just a replica sign made for the club? If you know, please leave a comment. For now, I need to get back to going through all these old digital photos.

Until next time…

My original custom T-shirt…

A long, long time ago (let’s call it 1995, because it was), I had my very first personal home page. It was hosted for free at a site called GeoPages. The very old timers out there might know this by the it’s later name: GeoCities. Back then, you could get 512K of free storage for your very own web site! (I know, hard to believe, but true!)

In 1996, I purchased my first digital camera, and started taking digital photos during my visits to Disney parks. As my online photo library expanded, I started using some other hosting services to share the thousands (I know, hard to believe, but true!) of digital photos. I eventually moved my site to Simplenet.

In 1995, I had also signed up to an email aliasing service called POBox.com that gave me a redirection URL that I could point anywhere. I started out with www.pobox.com/~alsplace redirecting to my old www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/1842 site, and then was able to change that to point to whatever my old Simplenet address was. (And, I think, my people.delphi.com address somewhere in between.)

It was during this time that I made this classy home-made T-shirt to wear during my Disney trips…

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you a mid-90s state-of-the-art heat transfer T-shirt…

Al’s Place T-shirt front pocket logo, circa 199X.

Al’s Place T-shirt back design, circa 199X.

You know how webmasters in the early days had egos, right? I’d proudly wear this “classy” shirt to the parks to promote my personal home page. There were several variations of the shirt over the years as the count of photos I had increased. This was somewhere in the middle. (Eventually it would become a DisneyFans.com shirt.)

One time, while getting food at Disneyland’s Big Thunder Ranch BBQ, a cast member noticed the shirt and asked me about it. She wrote down the web address so she could visit my site later. To my surprise, she presented me with free “happy birthday” chocolate cake. This was one of many special things I received in those early years because of my website.

Times have really changed since then. Today there are hundreds or even thousands of Disney fan sites. There are endless “news” sites that echo the same tidbits. But back then, there weren’t that many of us… internet newsgroups were still the main place to discuss Disney theme parks. Web forums would come much later 😉

What a long, strange trip it’s been…

In future posts, I’ll share some of the real shirts I have collected over the years, including a number of limited edition ones which, for some reason, I’ve never even worn…

Until next time…

BONUS: Do you see my later DisneyFans.com shirt in this following photo?

Circa 2000 retro/VR Magic Kingdom theater rumors?

Recently, I’ve been trying to find the source of an old rumor about Disney doing a retro (though we didn’t use that word then) attraction theater at Magic Kingdom. On July 28, 2000, I wrote the following in an old Yahoo! group (yes, Virginia, there was a day before Google)…

Now, it is known Disney has taken film of all their major parks being built (except, perhaps, Disney’s California Adventure?)… Disney also used to really document early animatronics (there is archived footage of the original C. of Progress somewhere)… Does anyone know if Disney bothered to film each segment of World of Motion, Horizons, etc., before closing them down “for the future”?

Someone has a site suggesting putting up a “VR lost attractions” area at the photo expo at WDW’s TMK. It’s a great idea, and shows like CoP could be done great by simply filming it from the audience in 3-D. Other attractions could be done using Cave technology or whatever. Has anyone seen the site I talk about? If so, where is it? I’ve not been able to find it 🙂

— Al

Here we are, almost 20 years later, and I guess the odds of me finding that site are long gone. Most sites from back then are only available thanks to archive.org copies.

Does this ring any bells to anyone?

Happy new year!

Welcome to 2019!

Aren’t you glad Disney didn’t do this every year?

November 8, 1999.
November 7, 1999.
November 8, 1999.

Man, that thing was huge. It actually made Spaceship Earth look small!

November 8, 1999.

It was a massive structure.

November 8, 1999.

…which looked pretty nasty from the side.

November 8, 1999.
November 8, 1999.

But hey, it says “2000” on it, so it’s only going to hang around until the end of the next year. Enjoy it while it lasts!

Until next time…