Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fireworks of the Universe

You know, I love vintage Walt Disney World ad publicity. It's nearly always well written, terse, and evocative. The Lake Buena Vista Club isn't just a golf clubhouse, it "features 14-ft. vaulted ceilings with exposed beams, rough-sawn cedar planks, plush carpeting and wide-view windows overlooking the fairway." Really, who wouldn't want to go there after a description like that? And the Polynesian luau isn't just dancing, it features "the delightful Samoan slap-dance, [and the] romantic Hawaiian Wedding Song."

The delightful Samoan slap-dance. Try saying that to somebody out of the blue. Spectacularly strange language.

But sometimes they just hit it clear out of the park and into a low-hanging orbit, such as the cover story for this January 1975 edition of Walt Disney World News:

Take that, Arthur C. Clarke! We got there 26 years early!

Amongst a front page featuring such curiosities as "World Swings into P.G.A. Winter Activities" and "Hall of Presidents Adds No. 37" is a pretty picture of Space Mountain (with topiaries!) and the subject of our article today. We all can agree that Space Mountain is a pretty big deal, right? I mean, Magic Kingdom would not be Magic Kingdom without it. It's been rebuilt in every Disney "castle park" around the globe. But you just don't get it, man. Space Mountain isn't just a big deal - it's going to CHANGE THE WORLD. The article is so full of astonishing hyperbole and bizarre turns of phrase that I have no idea what to say about it besides..... it may be the apex of all Walt Disney World promotional material.

"THE FUTURE BEGINS TODAY IN ALL-NEW TOMORROWLAND

As the rest of the world steps nimbly into 1975 with the hopes of better times in a better year - Walt Disney World steps boldly beyond the limits of time and space into the 21st century!

At 2:00 pm, Wednesday, January 15, the Grand Opening Ceremonies of Space Mountain, the monolithic white "mountain" towering over Tomorrowland, will mark the beginning of a new era in space adventure! Visiting dignitaries (including U.S. astronauts), the musical pageantry of over a thousand band members, plus a spectacular display of daytime fireworks will celebrate the end of the "armchair astronaut."

For in Space Mountain, presented by RCA, you, without any previous aeronautical acquaintance, can experience the incredible adventure of outer space!

You'll board the eight passenger space capsule, buckle your seat belt and be whisked away into the most enthralling, free-falling flight through brilliant stars, whirling spheres and unearthly forces ever imagineered!

Disney imagineered, of course (see related story, p. 8).

After a spinning re-entry into earth's atmosphere, you'll disembark and tour the technological wonders of life in the twenty-first century in the RCA "Home of Future Living."

Then, be off to visit the second exciting addition to Tomorrowland - the G. E. Carousel of Progress. A unique unveiling of the American Family's advancement from the wood-burning stove of the 1890's to the micro-wave wonders of the 1970's, each of four eras is portrayed by audio-animatronic actors as the audience rotates around them, carousel-style.

This unique theater is similar to the original "Carousel of Progress" which entertained more than 45 million guests at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair and later joined Disneyland in 1967.

And, for another high-speed adventure, board the air-bound gantry elevators to the launching pad of Tomorrowland's centerpiece, Star Jets. Here, you'll pilot your own space ship up, down, and around the atmosphere of your very own mother ship.

Adding still another futuristic look to Tomorrowland will be the People-Mover, scheduled for operation later this year. An elevated transportation system, which winds its way around the entire complex, the People-Mover will be comprised of 30 "trains" with five cars each. Operating under a covered guide way 14 feet above the Tomorrowland mall area, the People-Mover will transport over 3,500 guests an hour.

The most highly appreciated aspect of the People-Mover, however, is that it operates via a magnetic field of force without moving parts and, consequently, free of any pollution whatsoever.

Space Mountain, Carousel of Progress, Star-Jets, People-Mover. All part of an all-new Tomorrowland which will allow you, our guests, to touch tomorrow today - at Walt Disney World."

Wow. Where to begin. That's a heck of a way to begin an article, isn't it? All this time you knew that your method of entering the new year was inadequate compared to Walt Disney World's ability to bend time and space. And let's not forget that we take for granted that back in 1975 humankind forever vanquished the age of the "armchair astronaut." Somebody behind the typewriter had a previously unforeseen gift for the Amazing Ongoing Alliteration. And of course it's always amusing to see a description of the plastic red re-entry tunnel as "spinning", which popped up both in Disneyland and Walt Disney World promotional materials and which seems as inappropriate as ever. Really, spinning? Did that red plastic ever spin?

It's amusing and fun to see the term "imagineered" half explained and not capitalized as it would be today. It was not yet a marketing term!

And I personally am very enthusiastic about calling the cavernous Tomorrowland pedestrian space the "Tomorrowland Mall Area." Thank you, anonymous Walt Disney World ad-pub writer of two generations ago!

Let's not overlook the brilliant use of boldface!

The hilarity continues in the article mentioned on page eight, "The Mountain That Imagineering Built", although with less concentrated interest and lunacy. I'll not transcribe it here, but I'll have you know that it features the phrase "Fireworks of the Universe", which is either Byronian opium-induced poetic verse, of just another example of early Walt Disney World's astonishing fever dreams of promotional prose.


I only wish we had nonsense like this today.

8 comments:

Reid said...

FoxxFur, I just discovered your blog and am adding it to my bookmarks post-haste. The research on display is astonishing and the writing is first-rate. As a thinker, professional writer and (yes) semi-WDW obsessive since childhood, it's right up my alley. Keep up the good work!

mmcgowan said...

I just discovered your amazing blog. I'm an ex Imagineer and urban designer...would love to connect. My blog is www.melmcgowan.com and the firm that I started is www.visioneeringstudios.com

Richard Ivey Photography said...

Puffery abounds! I do think the 'spinning reentry' refers more to the way the track circles around at the very end though. Love the blog!

philphoggs said...

Nonsensical as it may be I think this sort of authoritative and over the top phrasing still worked well into the 70's. Fading fast, but especially to us who were at a young age often taking it as gospel. You are so right when you imply how the attractions themselves were perceived back then, although the adults seemed to happily accept these "facts" as if speaking of Santa Clause.
Always fun, thanks

Michael said...

Fantastic! I miss these times, I wasn't even alive to be a part of them..

tamajinn said...

Daytime fireworks? I can't help but wonder how that went. I have never seen daytime fireworks anywhere, making me think it turned out to be squinty and not-so-amazing.

You know what I recently rediscovered? Some music they played in the Space Mountain Queue, the inspiring, stirring melody with that lone trumpet soaring over it all. I had one of those all-flooding-back moments, I could hardly breathe. Sort of like the thrill I feel when I hear "Tomorrow's Child." Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFutUBGGn7o&feature=related

Thanks so much! I hope I get the book you contributed to for Mother's Day, it's on my Amazon wish list!

A Snow White Sanctum said...

Well done. Very humorous.

At the end of your post you say, "I only wish we had nonsense like this today." We do. But we call them politicians :)

SurfacetoAirMedia said...

Totally lives up to the hype. ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rR6ra7ULa8