Saturday, August 29, 2015

Large Marge Sent Me...

To continue my Pee-wee fix...!

While we were in California, primarily for Disneyland,  we did carve out a day to seek other fun things to experience in the Los Angeles area. One day is certainly not enough but we narrowed it down to three 'Must-Do' places.   On the top of my list was somewhere I honestly never dreamed I would ever get to go to in my life!
The Cabazon Dinosaurs!
You know the ones, featured in the 1985 Tim Burton classic film, Pee-wee's Big Adventure.
I love dinosaurs and I love Pee-wee.

Now, Let's talk about your big but.

Here is a scene from the movie with PW trekking in front of Mr. Rex and Dinny.

I am not sure how, but I captured almost the same image sans Pee-wee!

In modern day, Mr. Rex has his ass behind a privacy fence, along with a creationist museum.

One of my favorite parts of the movie is the Large Marge /Trucker Diner/ Big Dinosaurs section. The scene when PW and Simone are watching the sunrise while within the T-Rex mouth's vast tongue and teeth laden auditorium is quite lovely.

I longed to be able to sit in the same spot and gladly paid the 9 buck entrance fee for that chance.
Well, as I have mentioned before I lead a bit of a sheltered life and didn't know that spot was mostly movie magic.  Tim Burton inspired for sure. 
 This is the view that is actually to be had.  At least Pee-wee accompanied me up there so we could discuss our dreams.  Mine involve doughnuts as well.

Here is a view sans me.

And this is the sight behind the mouth big tongue to sit on.  However I thought that cover-overed doorway was interesting.  With a bit of sleuthing into the history of the dinosaurs I think I figured it out.

But first things first:
The dinosaurs were designed by a Knotts Berry Farm sculptor and artist named Claude Bell. He was looking for a way to attract customers to his roadside restaurant, The Wheel Inn, which opened in 1958.

First came Dinny (pronouced Dine- ee) the Apatosaurus, whose construction started in 1964.  He took 11 years to finish.   This was in part because Mr. Bell was doing most of the work solo, though it is rumored he paid a friend one dollar and a pack of Dr. Pepper to paint Dinny. It also took time to collect the materials which were salvaged from the construction of near-by Interstate 10.   Dinny wound up being a 150 ton 45 foot tall concrete sculpture with a gift shop held in his innards. 

Mr. Rex came along in 1981, weighing 100 tons and being 65 feet tall, and taking 5-6 years to complete.

Originally, Mr. Bell wanted to install a large slide down Rex's back but this never quite came to be. Mr. Bell passed away in 1988 and the slide was filled with concrete.
So that's the deal.  Visitors could climb the steps inside Mr. Rex, enjoy the view from his mouth and then slide back down on his tail, hence the doorway.  Magical. 

The dinos have been used for several other Hollywood features: films, music videos, a video game, an album cover and in a novel.   Most notable is Tears for Fears, 'Everybody Wants to Rule the World' video and in a flashback scene in Pixar's movie "Inside Out".   
On the commentary track of Pee-wee's Big Adventure is a sweet story told by Paul Reubens and Tim Burton about getting to met Mr. Bell and having such an admiration for him.

Here is an image of Claude Bell during the construction of Dinny.
When we went in February Dinny's innards were not open for perusing. But we did have a good time running and weaving around his legs as Pee-wee did when hiding from Simone's boyfriend, Andy, in the movie. 

As part of the ticket price, as I mentioned above, is a creationist museum. It is self guided with a few winding overgrown paths with different species of dinosaurs, in varying scale size, that I doubt lived during the same periods in time.
...or that had this stripey color scheme!

It's a world where lambs and velociraptors can be BFFs!

But please don't feed the stegosaurus!

On a night just like tonight... now on to the other 'attraction' on this site from Big Adventure.  I get off right up here...

The Wheel Inn

The Wheel Inn is located in front of the large dinosaurs and has remained basically unchanged from when the movie was filmed there.
But, sadly, Large Marge can never send anyone else there again.  It closed in September 2013.

The Wheel Inn is not owned by the same management as the dinosaurs.  It was forced to close due to economical pressures.  It was known for it's peanut butter cream pies, working phone booths for collect calls, and velvet painting gallery where John Wayne and Elvis painting were big sellers. I have read a couple of articles/reviews about the restaurant and it seemed to be a fairly decent place; good food, good prices, and employees that were like family to each other.  Five years ago the waitresses dressed like cave-women as a quirky reference to the beliefs of the dinosaur museum behind them.

I have also heard good things about the Tuna platter accompanied by a milkshake.
I was able to snap a pic of the interior through the dusty windows.
This is the bar Pee-wee sat at!
It is a shame the restaurant is not open anymore.  I saw them together as kinda like getting a packaged deal; two fun locations from the film in one spot.  
I haven't read anything about what will become of the Wheel Inn property.

Well.. That old highway's a-calling.
I have two more stops to make!

Have a nice day!
Be sure to tell them...

Thursday, August 27, 2015

I Pity the Fool....

...who doesn't know that today
Paul Reubens

To celebrate, we plan on heading out to a biker bar, knocking over some choppers, and then dancing in platform shoes on the bar top to 'Tequila'.  And then we are going to hop a train and sing songs with hobos.  And then we are going to ride a bull in a rodeo.  And then go hitchhiking with a ghost lady trucker.  And then we are going to cover our faces in scotch tape!

And then when we are finally ready for a snack, we are going to have some of these "Mr. Breakfast" cupcakes I made...but we'll wear x-ray vision glasses while we eat them!

I love how the cupcakes turned out.  Well then, why don't I marry them?!

I made the (lightly toasted) pancake face from a frosted cookie.  Most of the other features: egg yolks, strawberry nose, and bacon mouth, I modeled from starburst candies!  The egg whites are white almond bark.
We don't have any Mr. T cereal laying around so we plan on dumping peanut butter Captain Crunch on 'Mr. Breakfast' instead.  But, of course, we will eat it with an oversized fork!

We hope Paul Reubens has a grand day and Jambi grants him a wish!
Meka Leka Hi Meka Hiney Ho!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Dinseyland Wrap Up

When I started this series on Disneyland I posed the question
 if it would still look as magical as it did  60-50 years ago. 

I think it may be even more magical now.  As Walt always envisioned the park, never being completed, this has made the experience a progression but with respect to the past.  Most all of the cornerstone attractions are still there only they have been "plussed up" as Walt called it, always evolving.

 The only 'evolving' that happened from the vintage images of the park I could do without is in the guests.  Fashions, and some people's lack of,  leaves much to be desired. The park does have an event called "Dapper Day" where once a year guests are encouraged to dress more properly...meaning not in dirty sweat pants and work out gear.

Making the pilgrimage across the country was well worth it and I think I may even like Disneyland more than Disney World.  I like that it is smaller and has more history involved with it.  Being able to know that Walt walked the same paths we did is very humbling.

We now have to make it back so we can see and do some of the things that were in maintenance and restoration when we were there.  I want to be able to see the facade of Small World and ride Peter Pan and the Matterhorn.  And I want to ride Alice again...and Pirates...and Haunted Mansion...and....

looking forward to next time!!!

Disneyland~Haunted Mansion

The Haunted Mansion is my second favorite attraction at Disneyland/world.  I know, that doesn't make sense given my love of HALLOWEEN!!! 66 days till!!!!
But it is a very close second place.

Drag your wretched body this way....

The Haunted Mansion in Disneyland opened in August of 1969.  
Design ideas for the attraction actually started in 1951 but construction did not start til 1962.  The slow construction somewhat added to the creepiness and "foreboding" of it's opening.  Large cast iron gates kept curious guests a safe distance from the mansion...or perhaps the gates were keeping something a safe distance from the guests? For several years guests had been confronted with a macabre sign outside the empty building that read:  

The Haunted Mansion was originally planned to be a walk through haunted house.
At the end of the tour, it would empty back into a restaurant called The Museum of the Weird, a showcase of curiosities collected from all over the world.  Below (circa 1965) is Imagineer, Rolly Crump, with a mock up of items for the proposed Museum of the Weird. 

Disney's involvement in the 1964-65 World's Fair was a part of what held the attraction from coming to fruition sooner.  But the biggest blow was the loss of Walt Disney in 1966.  The attraction was still in developmental phases at that point.  It took the Imagineers time to recover and move forward.  The Haunted Mansion is seen as a major milestone in the park's history as the moment when the Imagineers had to fly on their own without their guiding visionary.

There is so much great information , history and connections within the Haunted Mansion that my single mere post can not contain it all.
Here are a few fast blurbs though:  
  • Imagineer, Leota Toombs, as seen with 'the red head'  in yesterday's post on the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, was literally, the 'head' model for Madame Leota seen floating in the crystal ball in the seance room.
  • "Master Gracey" is named after Imagineer Yale Gracey who worked closely on the project.
  • Spreading the ashes of a loved one on the ride is a popular yet illegal event.  The park has a special HEPA vacuum they use for cleaning up the ashes and tiny cremated bone fragments. So if you ever happen to hear a cast member mention a "HEPA cleanup' you will know someone was trying to check in as the 1000 happy haunt.
  • Imagineer X Atencio wrote the script for both attractions, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion.  Along with writing the lyrics for "Yo Ho, A Pirate's Life for me" and "Grim Grinning Ghosts".
  • The organ being played in the ballroom at the Disneyland attraction is a prop from the 1954 Disney production: 20, 000 Leagues under the Sea.
  • Lastly, The mystery of the Hat Box Ghost.  When the attraction first opened there was a super creepy elderly fellow that resided in the attic.  He was holding a hatbox that when his own head would disappear from his shoulders it would reappear inside it.   He did not occupy the attic for very long though, maybe a couple of months. As the legend tells he just disappeared all together one day.  His illustration and likeness (seen below) was still used on promotional materials through out the last 45 years and he developed a bit of a cult following.  The truth of the matter is that the feature was removed from the attraction because the illusion didn't work well most of the time.  Fast forward 45 years to May 9, 2015.  The illustrious Hat Box Ghost has found his way back to his creaky old attic home at Disneyland!  We missed out seeing it though!  We went Feb 2015.  I hope they put a version in at Disney World.

As I said. I have only scratched the surface of the tombstone of the great information out there on this attraction.  I recommend checking out DoomBuggies for all things Haunted Mansion.

Here is a short excellent video of the history of the Haunted Mansion featuring several of the original Imagineers and Walt himself. 

The Haunted Mansion is going to be our last stop on this Disneyland trip and retrospect.  There are soo many more attractions and history to cover but I think I will save that for the next trip!
Let's pick up a few 'souvenirs', vintage Haunted Mansion style, on the way out though!

 IScream Sundaes!
I read that these came with a little red plastic spoon featuring the three hitchhicking ghosts!

Your own personal tombstone!
"I told you I was Sick!"
I have heard that Disney World has a newly opened Haunted Mansion gift shop where you and your beloved dearly departeds can have a ghostly family photo taken.  Suitable for framing for sure!
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!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Disneyland~ Pirates of the Caribbean

THIS is my absolute favorite Disney ride!
We went on it 3 times in a row once at Disney world!  
The version at Disneyland is superbly amazing and even better than the Disney world version.  It's hard to grasp that concept I know..but it's true.  Disneyland's has TWO waterfall drops!!  
Let's get in to some history on the attraction, ye mateys!

"Don't tell him Carlos! Don't be cheecken!"

The Pirates of the Caribbean adventure ride opened in Disneyland March 1967.  Walt's   
original concept was for it to be a walk through showcasing historical pirates and villains as wax figures.

After his experience with the 1964 Worlds fair, using "It's a Small World" as a model, he realized he could move more people through the attraction if they had their own little boats...and the best part is it worked with the theme!  To help Walt get the experience of what the guest would see before the ride was completed, Imagineers rigged a chair up to a dolly and pushed their boss through the ride at the same speed a boat would pass through.  Though they thought he would be upset that the guests would not be able to hear all of what the pirates were saying, Walt was actually delighted!  He thought it was like being at a cocktail party, and was pleased that people would be able to catch something different each time they sailed.

For the official launching of the ride a typical ribbon cutting opening ceremony just would not do!  Disney recruited veteran performer, Wally Boag, of The Golden Horseshoe Revue fame to hijack press night on the Ship Columbia and steer them toward the new ride. There the swashbuckler cast members walked the plank, carried off maidens, and raised the Jolly Roger flag on the ship!  Boag and his crew then disembarked the ship at New Orleans Square and busted through the fake front doors of the attraction to "open" it. 

"Yo Ho Ho, A Pirate's Life for me!"

 Walt Disney passed away Dec. 1966, 3 months before the ride opened to the public. 

"We wants the red head!"
with Disney Imagineer Leota Toombs

Here is an excellent video showing Walt discussing the ideas for the ride, behind the scenes construction, and footage from the pirate take over on the opening day!

If you are interested in reading more history on The Pirates of the Caribbean ride, I suggest this site.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Intermission Time!

I am going to be taking a bit of an "Intermission".  

Go grab yourself some refreshments.

And make sure to visit the snack bar!

I will return next month and pick back up with my Disney series.
With only a few weeks left of summer vacation, the fam and I have wieners to roast, Harry Potter movie marathons to watch, and water sprinklers to run through!

PS. Make sure to pick up some wiener related items for the whole fam while at the concessions...after all, it is 
National Hot Dog Day today!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Disneyland~ It's A Small World

Most people either love or hate this ride.  I am in love with it!  
So much so that when we made our plans to go to Disneyland and discovered that Small World was going to be closed for refurbishments during the time we planned on being there we changed our dates. This also changed the cost of our trip.  In essence, we paid 300 dollars to ride a 15 minute boat trip.

"It's a Small World' was originally made for the 1964 World's Fair UNICEF pavilion in New York, and was called "Children of the World".  The attraction was so popular that it was packed up and shipped to Disneyland after the close of the fair.  Shipping stickers from 1965 can still be found on the back of some of the set pieces. At the reopening dedication at Disneyland in May 1966 children from around the world poured water from their native lands into the Seven Seaways.  100 regions of the world are represented with over 300 costumed audio-animatronic children.

The attraction was designed by legendary Disney artist, Mary Blair.  It is meant to resemble a fantasy world crafted out of construction paper, ribbon, glitter, and paper mache'.  The simplistic design of the sets are to mirror the imagination of children.  Rumor has it that there is a specific doll that is meant to represent Mary Blair in the ride, a little blonde with glasses flying in a balloon over the Eiffel Tower in the Paris area.  However, I have never seen a photo of Mary Blair ever wearing glasses, so I am not so sure about that claim.

Walt with Mary Blair

Richard and Robert Sherman (musical geniuses behind all sorts of wonderful Disney tunes, such as Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book and non-Disney Chitty Chitty Bang Bang...) wrote the iconic and catchy tune.  Walt asked them to make one song that could be translated into all the languages and played on a round.  They made sure to use instruments that were from each region of the world that is pased through... bagpipes for Scotland, Peruvian reed flutes, Tahitian drums.  The song, "It's a Small World" was so catchy that Walt renamed the ride after it!

Here are a few of our pics from our 'happiest cruise":
I was a bit bummed that the exterior of the attraction was a huge painted sheet. Because of the park preparing for their upcoming 60th anniversary celebration, several of the attractions were like this...even Sleeping Beauty's Castle.

The inside was gorgeous as I expected.  Something different from Disney World is that Disneyland's Small World has 37 characters/dolls from various Disney features (Alice, Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Nemo...) that were added in 2008.  You can see Pinocchio in Italy above.  I am not sure that I care for them.  Their styling is not consistent and doesn't always mesh well with the long standing residents from 1964.

Here is the main reason, I love 'Small World' so much.
It has become tradition that PB and I take a picture together on the ride every year that we go to Disney.
(You can see Alice and the White Rabbit over our shoulders)

Here is a video of the 1966 dedication of Small World along with a ride through!
If the song happens to get ear-wormed into your mind for a hour or so after hearing it, consider this :
Robert Sherman Jr. says, "Since 1983, there has not been a moment when 'It's A Small World' wasn't playing in at least two locations on the globe."

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Disneyland~ Storybook Land

That whale! What a cutie! Yes he is still there!

As the story goes, The Storybook Land Canal boats are one of the original attractions of Disneyland's opening day in 1955.

 Here are a few images of yesteryear.
When the ride first opened, it was really nothing more than a muddy stream with a few boats that conked out a lot. It closed after two months to have the miniature plants and buildings added, reopening in June of 1956.

The Casey Jr."is comin' down the track, comin' down the track, with a smokey stack "train has been weaving it's way around the canal since July 31, 1955.  I love the caged cars with "Wild Animals" over the bars.  We made sure to sit in one of those compartments on our ride!

Here are a couple of our pics from our visit.  I love that whale.  But, he is not quite the same. He is more rounded and cartoony looking now.  I still think he is adorable and love that his blowhole still works! oh! And his eyes move too!
The Giant's patchwork quilt landscaping from Disney's 1933's Silly Symphonies Lullaby Land.

I was curious about the so called Giant's patchwork quilt and found a video of Lullaby Land.  Here is the plot, it's very...bizarre :

A baby is transported to "Lullaby Land of Nowhere", where pacifiers grow on trees, diapers, bottles, and potty chairs march on parade, and the gingham dog comes to life. He wanders into the "forbidden garden", full of things like scissors, knives, and fountain pens that are not for baby and begins smashing watches with hammers and playing with giant matches. The matches chase after him; baby escapes by riding a bar of soap across a pond, but the smoke from the matches turns into boogey-men, which chase baby but vanish not long afterwards. The benevolent sandman, dressed as a wizard, spots baby hiding and works his magic, bringing baby to sleep. 

But here is the weird thing.  There is a giant patchwork quilt as part of a landscape in the short film but not a Giant's patchwork quilt. No Giant ever shows up or is even warned about.  I read somewhere that sometimes the canal boat tour guides will tell the passengers to keep quit so as not to wake the sleeping Giant.  The official Disneyland website claims it as The Giant's Patchwork Quilt.  
Something is amiss here...