Saturday, November 14, 2009

Horizons References in New Space Mountain!!!!

Looks like there's one cool Imagineer left. In the queue of new Space Mountain, there's a clearly labeled Mesa Verde sticker on the suitcase (as well as the cool robot butler - seem familiar?)

Photos are courtesy of Exprcoofto from

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Samantha Brown's Favorites Shoot

Last year, I was able to negotiate with my client at the time the opportunity for Samantha Brown to film an episode at WDW (as well as the Seasons of Disney episodes). You're welcome. Here's a pic of the prod crew (with yours truly). Look how many folks it takes to produce this show in the field. Cool thing was, Samantha remembered me at the Discovery upfront a few months later. She's super cool and way down to earth. These were taken backstage at Animal Kingdom, January 2008. Can you tell I'm from the Midwest?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy Birthday Horizons

It was on this day you were open to the masses. You amazed, you educated, and most importantly you let two guys run around and take pictures of your insides.

I miss you Century 3.

Thank you George McGinnis. Thank you Hoot & Chief. & Thank you EPCOT Operations for letting me work at the best ride in Epcot.

....And huge thank you to whoever created this picture.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Future Has Arrived.....well, sorta.

You hear the boarding announcements as you enter the queue. Folks heading out to Sea Castle, Brava Centauri, and Mesa Verde better hurry up as their respective flights are leaving. Of course, there’s only one destination for you and that’s of course, the future. As much as your own flight is amazing and fanciful, there’s always that wonder of the other destinations as well as the trip getting out there. So, are we destined for those destinations or will they always be held in the imagination of George McGinnis? Guess what? They’re no longer visions of the future. Tomorrow’s Horizons are here, today! Here are a few glimpses that reach toward the future to bring you a tangible Horizons experience.

Mesa Verde - The most advanced desert reclamation complex in the western hemisphere invites you to explore its wide range of career possibilities. Mag Lev Express service to Mesa Verde leaves every thirty minutes.

“Our little girl is doing wonders out in the desert.”

Mesa Verde was the vast stretch of desert that was slowly beginning to take shape as food producing farm (is that orange I smell?) of the fabled L’oranges (lime + orange). This show scene illustrated new methods in agriculture can bring barren deserts to life.

How exactly are we to turn deserts into fields? Enter Desert Control. Desert Control uses the latest advancements in desert reclamation technology to bring food producing plants to life.

Desert Control is turning deserts into Farms

The main challenge to making deserts sustainable has to do with sand. As you know sand is a loose particle that is susceptible to wind and terrible at moisture collection. What Desert Control does is treat the sand with a substance called Nano Clay. This clay packs the sand together to form dense pieces of land that maintains moisture and is less impacted by wind storms. In turn, seeds can be planted and crops grown. Currently, Desert Control is holding tests in Africa and Asia, both which have some of the largest non-fertile deserts as well as severe food shortages.

NanoClay helps to retain moisture & protect from wind erosion

Brava Centauri - Newest of the exciting Centauri Series of space stations. Offers remarkably rewarding opportunities in Earth support locations. Come up to Brava. Space shuttles depart daily.

“Mom, mom!”

Living in space, what an experience! Unfortunately, on this world of over 6 billion, only a handful have done it. But imagine the possibility of taking summer vacation in a fully habitable synthesized space city. Here, we get just a few glimpses what traveling past Earth’s atmosphere to sleep among the stars.

Well, that’s still pretty far away for most of us. But, with advancements in the International Space Station’s tenure in space at least we are giving it the “ole college try”.

There’s also another possibility.

Virgin Galactic, owned by billionaire adventurer Sir Richard Branson, aims to take folks on an interstellar joyride. Albeit, a short and expensive joyride (~$200,000 US for a 2.5 hour flight).

How does it work?

Well, 6 passengers and 2 pilots will board SpaceShip Two and be connected to the Virgin Galactic mothership WhiteKnight Two. WhiteKnight Two will take the passengers to about 50,000 feet (~9.5 miles) above sea level. From there, SpaceShip Two will undock from WhiteKnight Two and fire up its engine to reach altitudes in excess of 360,000 feet (~68 miles) above sea level. Once the trip is complete, SpaceShip Two will use the Earth’s gravitational force to safely glide back down. To put things in perspective a normal NASA space shuttle mission can reach about 350 miles and most commercial flights travel ~35,000 feet (~6.5 miles). That being said, 68 miles above Earth is nothing to scoff at.

For $200,000 I would expect a little style and this has it.

I can see my house from here!

Virgin Galactic is not yet commercially available and is cost prohibitive to most of us. Also, there’s another reason this may be out of reach for awhile; all maiden voyage reservations are completely sold out for first year of operation.

Sea Castle - The newest and most exciting floating city in the Pacific invites you and your family to come away with us to the sea. Convenient daily departures by sea train and skylift.

“How often do we check our gills? Every 10 minutes.”

Or more often.

Arguably the coolest set of scenes in Horizons, sea life civilizations depicted what it would be like to travel in your own sub down to your undersea house, restaurant, or office. I like to think this was so popular due to the fact that the sea was something everyone was familiar with. You didn’t have to hop on a space shuttle, you just had to drive to the beach. Plus, everyone loves the sea.

In relation to the above destinations, undersea resorts are abundant with more being drafted as we speak. While the first resorts were somewhat primitive and needed all parties to be scuba certified, new resorts are more advanced and offer conveniences similar to that of five star hotels.

Deep in the Emerald Lagoon of Key Largo, Florida sits Jules Undersea Lodge named after the grand old man himself, Jules Verne. The resort actually is the La Chalupa research laboratory created to research the continental shelf off of Puerto Rico’s coast. It was purchased in 1995 and renamed Jules Undersea Resort. This 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom resort sits 30 feet below the surface. Look around, it has all the creature comforts of home as well as scuba room service from a “mer-chef".

Notice the "5 Fathom Club" sign? Nice.

Ugh, I always get a room right next to the pool.

Spacious eatery. Reminds me of my freshman dorm.

I don't feel like going out tonight. Let's stay in.

If you’re more about luxury and less about diving check out the Poseidon Resort Mystery Island off the coast of Fiji. This resort takes passengers to their underwater “pods” by elevator (think Living Seas’ Hydrolaters) 40 feet below the ocean’s surface. Once on the ocean bottom the guest will have the option to stay in one of 20 standard pods, a luxury suite, or a themed-suite, as well as, bars and restaurants. Rumored pricing starts at $30,000 US for a party of two per week, or rent the whole thing for $3,000,000 US per week. Slated to open in early in 2010, Poseidon is already 15 months past schedule. But, its postponed opening gives you a chance to save your pennies. Also, if you are staying 40 feet below the ocean for a week do you really want them to cut corners?

They look like escape pods.

What's that fish starring at?

And then there’s Hydropolis.

Hydropolis is slated to be a vast undersea luxury resort in Dubai (hey, it’s all Dubai these days) 66 feet below the Persian Gulf. There isn’t much information on it as of yet, but rumor has it will cost about $5,000 US per night. There are also rumblings that Hydropolis is in talks with Disney to produce an underwater show for the resort. This resort was supposed to open in 2006, so take it all at face value.

It looks like the spaceship from the Abyss.

Hmm, that veranda looks like the Living Seas.

These are just a few of the prophecies told by Horizons (an attraction that was designed in the late 70’s mind you). Try googling things like Mag Lev and Hovercar and you’d be surprised how much you can find. Not to mention the countless automated products already found in your home. Hopefully, we will continue along the path of Horizons to make the world more enjoyable.


Photo Credits are of their respective parties.
Check out my merch Here

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mickey's 10 Commandments

Marty Sklar (if you don't know who he is stop reading) came up with a list of commandments Imagineers (more importantly, Disney top brass) should follow to maintain the high standards of storytelling Walt set forth. These commandments are how Disney distances itself from other "amusement" parks and the reason guests continue to come back. Do you think that these are still valid? Does Disney Parks still live by these standards (both creatively and business operations)? What do you think?

1. Know your audience - Don't bore people, talk down to them or lose them by assuming that they know what you know.

2. Wear your guest's shoes - Insist that designers, staff and your board members experience your facility as visitors as often as possible.

3. Organize the flow of people and ideas - Use good story telling techniques, tell good stories not lectures, lay out your exhibit with a clear logic.

4. Create a weenie - Lead visitors from one area to another by creating visual magnets and giving visitors rewards for making the journey

5. Communicate with visual literacy - Make good use of all the non-verbal ways of communication - color, shape, form, texture.

6. Avoid overload - Resist the temptation to tell too much, to have too many objects, don't force people to swallow more than they can digest, try to stimulate and provide guidance to those who want more.

7. Tell one story at a time - If you have a lot of information divide it into distinct, logical, organized stories, people can absorb and retain information more clearly if the path to the next concept is clear and logical.

8. Avoid contradiction - Clear institutional identity helps give you the competitive edge. Public needs to know who you are and what differentiates you from other institutions they may have seen.

9. For every ounce of treatment , provide a ton of fun - How do you woo people from all other temptations? Give people plenty of opportunity to enjoy themselves by emphasizing ways that let people participate in the experience and by making your environment rich and appealing to all senses.

10. Keep it up - Never underestimate the importance of cleanliness and routine maintenance, people expect to get a good show every time, people will comment more on broken and dirty stuff.

Martin Sklar, Walt Disney Imagineering, Education vs. Entertainment: Competing for audiences, AAM Annual meeting, 1987

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

More Horizons pics

As promised, here are a few more Horizons pics from closing day.

Better shot of the Hidden Mickey

That's our daughter the desert dweller. She's doing wonderful things out there in the desert. (She also has a ginormous booty as seen in previous blog post).

Old Uncle Jules may not have had all the answers, but his space capsule sure smelled like animal dung. (No privacy at all 'round this place).

This picture speaks for itself. Somebody on the Imagineering team was a fan of the ladies.

...and someone was a fan of the fellas. (Aw, now that's really lovely. Practical too. Practical indeed).

Love this pic.

Oh, the irony. Tom Fitzgerald fixing a sub. Subs get sunk in the water. Fitzgerald sunk Imagineering. Ironic.

This poor guy's been waiting over 15 years for his wife to show up. Unfortunately, she's off with her "other" family.


A feat of engineering if you really think about this show scene.

Hope these photos have helped to give you a sense of how wonderfully detailed this attraction was. Can't seem to think of any new ones this detailed. Of course, if you count a ton of tv screens as detailed, well then, I guess today's rides are detailed. :(

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Day Horizons Closed

So long Horizons...

Now, I think you all know my fascination with Horizons; it was the ultimate attraction. Enormous, overly detailed, great music, great storyline, and never a wait. I can recall first riding in early 1984 and immediately falling in love with it. In fact, while most of my family was off exploring the rest of the park I could be found at Horizons riding over and over. I even had the pleasure of working a couple of shifts there during my stint in Epcot attractions. I sure wish I was smart enough to bring a camera along, but appreciating an attraction and working an attraction are two very different scopes. Anyways, I thought I would post a few pictures of Horizons from January 9th, 1999. Fans will recognize this date as the day Horizons closed for good to the public. It did run though afterwards for events and private parties till about April. Anyways, these pictures may not be as cool as my friends over at Mesa Verde Times' pics (which are flippin' awesome), but they're special to me. I apologize for the quality. These pictures were taken with a 1st Generation Sony MAVICA digital camera that took photos on 3.5 floppies. Also, there's really no order to the photos as I have a ton of them. Enjoy!

As you can see it's 1st thing in the morning and it's chilly. We headed straight to Horizons to get in as many rides as possible. The best part was as we were castmembers, we could park back by Wardrobe (between WOM & Mexico) and just walk in a little early.

Cheesy, but anywhere I ever hear this phrase, it makes me think of Horizons.

I'd give anything to hop the Mag Lev Express service to Mesa Verde or Sea Castle.

Always dug how these pictures moved. Kudos to George McGinnis!

Dedicated to the great Georges Méliès' 1902 classic A Trip to the Moon.

Easy living indeed. I always wondered if the guy getting a tan was the freeloading Cousin Orville from Carousel of Progress. "No privacy at all 'round this place!" Dig the curved design, very retro.

Loved the '50s music in this scene. Does anyone else remember the "beep beep beep beep" that went to the rhythm of the music? This reminded me of the Jetsons.

I'm sorry, but this lady had a ginormous, flat ass. That jumpsuit isn't helping her cause any.

Shut up Scott. No one likes a teacher's pet. As you can see Rover's about to chew his face off.

I always called her 'basketball head'. I know, classy.

The mix of distance, rear projection and matte paintings really made this work well.

Hidden Mickey in Nova Cite

Hidden Mickey in Space Colony

That's it for now. I'll post more later.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Horizons T-Shirts

Hi folks. Well, I finally got around to designing some t-shirts that I have been wanting to do for some time. They're not much, but if you're a Horizons fan it's all you'll need. Pick your favorite destination or get all 4. Wear them with pride as you walk past Mission:Space and say, "No thanks. I don't ride this attraction." Shirts can be customized by male/female size, shirt type, and color. Here are some images of the shirts and the link to purchase. I'm designing a bunch more so keep checking back in the future.

Here's the link to my Zazzle store.

Mesa Verde

Sea Castle

Brava Centauri

Nova Cite