Disneyland entertainment in 1996.


Disneyland Band on May 26, 1996.

If you visited Disneyland in 1996, you might have caught some of these acts. Some are still performing, like the Disneyland Band. You’d still find them giving concerts on Main Street, marching to the castle, or performing on the Mark Twain, though today’s incarnation is a much more hip and edgy high energy group compared to the traditional band of yesterland.

There is also still a ragtime piano player at Coca-Cola Corner. In the 1990s, it was Rod Miller. He was loved by the entire internet.

Rod Miller on August 12, 1996.


The mobile piano, on May 21, 1996.

You might even catch some mobile piano playing before a parade. They say you never forget how to ride a bike, but I wonder how you remember to play ragtime and steer and peddle at the same time!

And I wonder what happened to this contraption…

The Tomorrowland Terrace stage was (and still is?) used for live music, but I think I took this picture because of the security guy that was there keeping an eye on those rowdy teenagers.

Tomorrowland Terrace music on August 12, 1996.

The Bayou Brass Band was a longtime favorite of New Orleans Square. You could even buy their CDs in the park.

The song that stood out the most to me was their version of Lowrider by the group War.

They added so much to the atmosphere of the area, and they were apparently an outside band just hired to perform there (unlike other offerings that are created in-house and don’t have official members).

There was also a (thankfully) short-lived fad of percussion groups, likely inspired by the success of the show Stomp around this time. Disneyland had their own mini-version. Percussionists, dressed as custodial staff, would be pushing around trash cans. They would gather and do a short drum performance. I used to see them in Tomorrowland all the time, so I was calling them the “Tomorrowland Trash-It Authority” (in reference to the Tomorrowland Transit Authority at Magic Kingdom in Florida). But, as I look through my old photos, I see they were not restricted to that land. Here they are on Main Street U.S.A.:

August 15, 1996.

And it wasn’t just the lanes that could be alive with entertainment. Did you ever catch the “radio broadcast” from the rooftops in Adventureland?

May 23, 1996.

KNGO radio… Congo! And they were dressed like area cast members.

And lastly, who remembers Lagniappe the mime?

Lagniappe on August 18, 1996.

Lagniappe was a fan favorite and you’d find him interacting with guests and riding his unicycle throughout New Orleans Square. Disneyland eventually let him go, and the internet was very sad. If you miss him, you can drop by his page at the Mark Wenzel website. I had plans to interview Mr. Wenzel on my Park Hopping Podcast many years ago, but never got around to it. It would have been fun to hear the mime speak.

Until next time…

Country Bear Playhouse in 1996.

1996, probably May.

The Country Bear Jamboree was one of the few original attractions that opened at Magic Kingdom in Florida in 1971. This musical animatronic show is likely the inspiration behind all the pizza parlor shows that started popping up a decade later, such as Chuck E. Cheese’s (or just Chuck E. Cheese depending on which Mandela Effect universe you are from) and Showbiz Pizza.

Disneyland got its own version a year later, but the California version had two theaters instead of just one — supposedly because of how much of a hit the original had been at Walt Disney World.

I had seen the Florida version many times growing up, and recall seeing it at Disneyland as well. But, for my early digital camera trip, they weren’t showing the original show. Instead, I got to see the Vacation Jamboree:

Vacation Jamboree sign on August 16, 1996.

Disney used to be pretty strict about photography and video recording inside their attractions. I know Walt Disney World was still telling people to stop recording in 1999 (because I have a bunch of video from my trip that year where I’d be recording, and a cast member would walk over to me and tell me to stop). Maybe they had a similar policy at Disneyland in 1996, because these were the only two photos I took. Seems I would have gotten at least one inside the theater if I took the time to take pictures of two signs outside…

Until next time…

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 πŸ˜‰

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,Β perhaps, Disney’s California Adventure?)… Disney also used to really document early animatronics (there is archived footage of the original C. of ProgressΒ 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 πŸ™‚

— 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…

Disneyland ride wait times in 1996.

At the end of Main Street U.S.A. there is a sign that shows the wait times for attractions in the park. Here’s what it looks like today:

 Disneyland wait times sign from May 16, 2017.
Disneyland wait time sign on May 26, 1996.

In 1996, there was a very different wait time sign in use in May. That was one of my first trips with my Epson PhotoPC digital camera, so the only images I have are in the tiny 320×240 format.

As you can see, the sign was a much simpler board with black signs and white lettering. It’s hard to make out, but I believe the wait time for the then-new Indiana Jones Adventure was one hour and thirty minutes! Back then, the line might start on Main Street U.S.A., go all the way into Adventureland, then upstairs to fill up the second level of the Jungle Cruise, before finally entering the attraction queue. In this days before FastPass, the entire queue was used, from the bridge and lower outside area and all of the inside of the temple.

Keep that in mind the next time you complain about how long the lines are πŸ˜‰

Disneyland wait times sign on May 20, 1996.

I only have one other tiny 320×240 photo of this sign, seen here to the left. Look how simple it was. They had simple stanchions holding ropes to mark off the area. Two small potted plants served as decoration around the base of this tiny wheeled display. A simple podium and umbrella and, amazingly, two cast members staffed it.

Simpler times.

Was this a temporary sign I just happened to catch? The reason I ask is because just a few months later there was a different wait time sign there:

Disneyland wait times sign on August 14, 1996.

They had built this larger sign into the flower bed area. Notice the construction barrier to the right, and no fencing to the left.

Then, just a few days later, it looked like this:

Disneyland wait times sign on August 18, 1996.

In this photo you can see a fence to the left and right of this sign. Did I happen to visit during a refurbishment of this sign? Or was the park transitioning from a temporary on-wheels sign to something more permanent?

Oh, and hey, Indiana Jones Adventure was only 45 minutes when I took this photo! And you will see The Spirit of Pocahontas stage show was running, as well as The Lion King Celebration parade plus The Main Street Electrical Parade! Yes, Virginia, there was a time when Disneyland had a daytime parade and a separate nighttime parade.

I am amused that, even in my first few trips with a digital camera, I was starting to notice trivial things like wait time signs and minor changes like this.

I wonder what else I’ll uncover as I continue to browse through my gallery…

Until then…

Disneyland Hotel in 1996.

I’ve always made it known that my focus when visiting Disneyland or Walt Disney World were the rides and attractions. Unless there is something truly “Disney” about a restaurant (like eating under the moonlight at the Blue Bayou Restaurant at Disneyland, or eating in a car atΒ Sci-Fi Dine In at Disney Hollywood Studios), I’m pretty sure I can find good restaurants all over. Likewise, I can find luxury resorts with plenty of amenities in my home town. With that in mind, I find it surprising that, during my first visit with a digital camera in 1996, I visited the Disneyland Hotel.

Back then, there was only Disneyland, a parking lot, and the hotel. Perhaps I just wanted to get off at the monorail stop and explore. Perhaps I was doing the “here’s how to drink adult beverages at Disneyland” trick (though I see no photos from anything else, so I’ll assume I was just exploring and that the alcohol trick came later).

Somewhere inside the hotel there used to be this massive collage of Disney memorabilia:

Disneyland memorabilia on display in 1996 (probably August 16, 1996).

My ancient 640×480 digital photo doesn’t do it justice. If I had encountered this today, I’d have taken tons of photos of the various items in this display case. I wonder if this display is still there somewhere?

I was also impressed to find that there was live street entertainment at the hotel:

The Bellhops band at the Disneyland Hotel on August 16, 1996.

The Bellhops would ride up on their golf cart and perform. I did not have a video camera with me during that trip, but I did find someone else’s brief video of the Bellhops from a few years earlier (1991) on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mjw3oQTAl8
YouTube user “starleet2001” 1991 home video of the Bellhops band.

A quick web search did not turn up much about this band. Anyone know more about them?

Moving on, I was impressed with the “lake” that existed between the three Disney Hotel towers! You could rent a paddle boat and ride around.

Paddle around the Disneyland Hotel lake on August 16, 1996.

This area has been remodeled at least twice since I took this photo. During a recent visit with Werner of Yesterland.com, he pointed me to a collection of old Disneyland Hotel press photos from this era that showed more about this “lake.” In those years, before it was actually owned by Disney, it was quite an attraction on its own with entertainment and activities. If you go back early enough, there was even a large golf course next to the original tower!

But I digress.

I also snapped a picture of the pool area. By today’s standards, it doesn’t seem that impressive.

Disneyland Hotel pool area on August 16, 1996.

I’m not sure what caught my attention in this photo. Perhaps it was the lush landscaping behind the pools that blocked out the view of a contested city area. Perhaps it was the sandy beach where the volleyball court is.

I’ve wanted to stay at the Disneyland Hotel for a long time, but the pricing was outrageous to me back then… Today, we’d jump at a chance to stay there and pay 1990s prices.

Thanks for joining me on this quick look at some of my earliest digital photos from Disneyland. I figure we have about 150,000 more to get through, so check back again sometime.

Until then…

The Spirit of Pocahontas in 1996.

Just down from it’s a small world was the Fantasyland Theater, home of The Spirit of Pocahontas. (Be sure to see the Yesterland article for all the details.)

The Spirit of Pocahontas on August 15, 1996.

This was one of the stage shows that was also replicated at Walt Disney World. Their version was at the Disney/MGM Studios, though it doesn’t look like I have any photos of it. It was Huntchback of Notre Dame by the time I took photos there. Regardless, I think I preferred the Disneyland version since it made use of a trap door in the stage to let characters “appear” rather than having them run on/off stage.

But I digress.

The theater, back then, was far less themed than the one that Disneyland has today:

Theater control booth on August 15, 1996.

I don’t even think I really wanted to “waste” my time and watch a show, but I was online friends with a show technician that was working the show that day and I wanted to say hi. He was one of the guys that would be up on all that scaffolding running lights and such. I wonder if his position was eventually replaced by computer-controlled lighting…

It also had fire…

The Spirit of Pocahontas on August 15, 1996.

The theater would later get updated and become home to a Snow White show. Remind me to talk about Disneyland, food, and that Snow White show when I get to it. I heard some really neat stories about it.

Until next time…