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Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Category

Life imitates Pixar: “Up” in Seattle

Edith Macefield's house, with balloons, in Ballard, Seattle

I thought this to be a delightful photo in its own right, but then I read the story behind the house. Long-time resident of Ballard, Seattle, Edith Macefield, refused to sell up as the land around her one hundred year-old property was radically developed — even when offered a million dollars.

Edith sadly passed away last year but, recently, dozens of coloured helium balloons were tied to her home to promote Pixar’s latest feature “Up”, a story of a man who refuses to give up his own home after his own wife passes away.

More vintage Disneyland Hotel stuff

1950s Disneyland Hotel postcard

I recently had an email from Donald W. Ballard who corrected a few details in my previous article on the Disneyland Hotel. Don’s written a book on the subject so should know his stuff!

His blog is a treasure trove of things about the hotel; early photographs both private and promotional, concept art, newspaper and magazine clippings and advertisements, brochures, passes, memos… even a mini golf scorecard! You name it, it’s probably in there.

The Disneyland Hotel: The Early Years is available direct from the author for $47.50 plus shipping.

The Disneyland Hotel, 1964

Disneyland Hotel

While browsing my feeds today (thanks Feedly!) I came across this wonderful photograph. Gorillas Don’t Blog wasn’t taken aback by it (“I wish there was more hotel and less blue sky”) but I sure was. The innocent simplicity of the nine-year-old Disneyland Hotel as it stood 45 years ago, surrounded by nothing but the odd southern California palm tree, is in very stark contrast to it’s present state.

If anyone has a photograph of the hotel from this very position today I’d love to see it.

The Disneyland Hotel was third party operated when it was built in October 1955, four months after the Disneyland park opened. Texan Millionaire Jack Wrather, probably most famous for being the producer of the TV show Lassie, financed and owned leased the property as Disney had run out of cash building the amusement park itself. It wasn’t until 1988 that The Walt Disney Company purchased it and the original tower pictured here was demolished in 1999 as part of the “Disneyland Resort” expansion which included the construction of California Adventure on what was Disneyland’s parking lot.

Be sure to check out the rest of the Gorillas Don’t Blog site for more superb vintage Disneyland pictures.

Update: Just had an email from Don Ballard, who has recently written a book on the Disneyland Hotel to tell me that the the Sierra Tower, the tower pictured here, wasn’t demolished. In fact it’s the only original building left standing.

“All of the original Hotel from 1955 – 1960 was demolished in 1999 to make way for Downtown Disney. This included all of the old two story Garden Villa Structures (my favorites), shopping areas, original restaurants, including the Monorail Cafe (my favorite), Travelport, Monorail Station, original Embassy and Magnolia Ballrooms and the Olympic Pool. To me, the Hotel lost most, if not all of its charm in 1999.”

Video Game Level Design Learned from Disneyland


Yes, yes, yes! A belief I’ve maintained for many years — that Disneyland is an experience designer’s wet dream — has been confirmed! I’m so glad to see that THQ’s Creative Manager Scott Rogers shares my understanding. Scott worked on games including Pac-man World, God of War and Drawn to Life.

Thankfully Cory Doctorow took notes from Scott’s presentation at GDC today and made them along with photos of the slides available for all. Scott states on his blog that he’ll make his slides available shortly.

Update: The slides are now up.

This has just brought to mind the piece Cory wrote for Wired back in 2006 interviewing former Disneyland Imagineer Danny Hillis about Disneyland as an alternate world, a precursor to today’s massively multiplayer games. It all gets me wondering whether anyone else has written about or has been inspired by this topic… Some investigation awaits!

(via Boing Boing)

Space Mountain Retrospective

Space Mountain interior

Here’s a wonderful retrospective of Disneyland’s Space Mountain by Geoff at Your Souvenir Guide.

I wasn’t lucky enough to be anywhere near Anaheim on its opening day in 1977 (nor, for that matter, old enough!) and haven’t had the opportunity to revisit since the 2005 revamp, which saw it return to the original iconic white, but this ride still holds a special place in my heart.

Disneyland’s Space Mountain is “Star Wars” and punk rock and “Saturday Night Fever” and the New York Blackout, all made one single, glorious whole. It’s all about believing, just for a moment, that you are riding the engine at the center of the universe. At that moment, you are ten years old, like me.

I couldn’t have said it better.

I’ll still miss the Dick Dale soundtrack which ran from 1995 to 2003 though!

EPCOT: Goodbye Spaceship Earth wand

Bye bye EPCOT wand

Ding dong, the wand is dead. Finally!

The hideous millennium wand and dismembered Mickey Mouse arm that’s clung to the side of EPCOT’s geodesic sphere for the last seven years is finally coming down. It has been reported that Siemens, the new sponsor of the attraction, made a request that it be removed as part of the current Spaceship Earth rehab.

In a kind of ironic fashion, the news has been confirmed just one month after the EPCOT Central blog decided to call it a day.

The Leave a Legacy monoliths with remain until at least 2020, but I hope they at least remove the ugly brown decals from the support legs before then.

Some related bits and pieces:

In case you’d forgotten how fantastic it used to look, here’s a reminder. This is a promotional slide from Walt Disney World in 1982, courtesy of Jeff B on Flickr:

EPCOT Center: Spaceship Earth in 1982

Update: Keep an eye on the progress of Spaceship Earth over at

Disney’s Tower of Terror: Half-Life 2

Take a look at this fantastic version of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror from Walt Disney World’s MGM Studios in Florida. It’s created wholly with Garry’s Mod and Half-Life 2! I think this is the file here. (via The Disney Blog)

Dreaming: New Disney theme park concept art


The Walt Disney Company have just released their latest annual report, containing all sorts of numbers and junk that mean absolutely nothing to me. What is interesting, though, is that there’s a section within it entitled “Dreaming” which contains an array of concept art.

Concepts include “Carland”, a covered “urban entertainment center”, a new theme park, a “Pirate-themed adventure” (I wonder if this is linked to the Tom Sawyer island overhaul), a Monsters Inc. attraction and a new “night-time water spectacular” (a suggested replacement for Fantasmic, perhaps). (via The Disney Blog)

Forgotten NY

Forgotten NY: Forgotten subway signs, advertisements, cemeteries, signs and more. Remnants of years past peeking through to today. (via Design Observer)

Remember the magic: EPCOT Center as it was

Another favourite blog of mine is EPCOT Central. Like, the Re-Imagineering blog, it borders on the cynical “they don’t make them like they used to” side of critical journalism, but often raises some very important points on Epcot’s current lack of direction.

They also uncover some fantasic gems, like these brilliant videos from a more enthusiastic age. Sure they’re a bit cheesy now, but they only emphasise how revolutionary Epcot was back in the early days when Disney didn’t feel the need to pump the park full of Disney princesses, thrill rides and inappropriate merchandising.

Why EPCOT Center was so special.
Seeing into the future.
When enthusiasm was enthusiastic.