Monday, April 30, 2012

A Musical Souvenir of Walt Disney World

For some time since this blog began, I've been pondering ways to make the history of Walt Disney World seem more alive to the casual reader. If you're steeped in the research, the photos, and putting together the puzzle pieces, it's easy to lose sight of how the material reads on the page: to the experienced theme park goer, the myriad sensory pleasures the parks provide doesn't seem to translate to looking at photos of Otto Rabbe. History becomes textbook.

Thrills n' Chills of Olde World Antiques
Perhaps a photo essay would do? Or a virtual tour of Walt Disney World, from landing at McCoy Airbase in your Eastern jet to arriving at the Polynesian Village? Or perhaps some sort of animated slideshow or edited home movies of the era?

Eventually these ideas gelled with a longstanding concept to create an audio tour of the Magic Kingdom of the past. What era would it be? How far back could I realistically expect to wind the clock? Twenty years? Thirty years? At the time I had this idea, it seemed a pipe dream to even conceive of such a thing. But after years of contact and online connection with like minded people, the dream seemed more reasonable year by year. Previously unknown and unsuspected details about the resort's first ten years were coming to light, from photos to old background music.

The starting pistol for this project turned out to be a site called Walt's Music, which for some time had been posting treasures plundered from the Jack Wagner archives. Then, one day, it finally appeared: scratchy but still good quality source music for If You Had Wings. That was in June. I thought it would be a simple project to rebuild the rest of the park. I finished that project last week.

What I ended up creating was a flowing experience of the entire park localized around about 1977. Space Mountain was new, and Big Thunder Mountain was still several years away. Unlike the Disneyland Records style of music releases best typified by the 2005 Musical History of Disneyland, I have avoided the familiar interior attraction soundtracks and instead focused on park ambiance, background music, and relatively obscure pieces of music. I ended up consulting pretty much everyone who has some connection to Walt Disney World history research and referenced hours of live recordings, home videos, and photographs to aid me in my research.


It's ready for you now. I call it....


You will need a torrent client, such as uTorrent, and a MouseBits account

Download: ZIP Version
Hosted on the Progress City, USA WorldKey System

Download: ZIP Version via OnlineFileFolder
Thanks to Suzannah DiMarzio for uploading this here

Thanks to Jeff Lipack for uploading this here

What's Inside:
  • 2.5 Hours of Magic Kingdom music and ambiance
  • Thirteen 256K MP3 Audio Files
  • Full If You Had Wings ride-through
  • Michael Iceberg in Concert
  • Jungle Cruise ride-through - no narration
"A Musical Souvenir of Walt Disney World" booklet example
  • "Vintage" 14-page program booklet
  • 30 pages of notes, annotations, and history

What I sought to do here above all else was to give a stronger sense of both history and memory than the typical fan audio project. Besides cross-referencing all of the historical material and my supplemental research, I've included dozens of ambient sounds recorded in-park - all the streams, waterfalls, and incidental sounds which make up the textural landscape of the Magic Kingdom of our memories. And using reference recordings, I had to manufacture many more. In the process of refining and editing it - because I had to be happy with this project too - I've listened to these files hundreds of times.

I think the result is as good as I can reasonably get it. There's plenty of stuff in it that gives me cloudy nostalgia eyes while still remaining fun and fast paced. I've also discovered it's very good for visualization exercises - play it over some good speakers and close your eyes and you're there. The effect is sometimes so convincing I forget I'm in my house.

This experience was part entertainment, part exercise, and part the research equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack. It's such an irrational thing to even try to do that I'm amazed I did it at all.  Relax and enjoy, this is built to be your personal time machine to an era when the Seven Seas Lagoon was bright and blue and the Magic Kingdom was just appearing on the pop cultural scene. It is the Walt Disney World you remember.... whether that be real or imagined.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

You Do Have Wings, Orange Bird


 And as long as man dreams, and works, and builds together, this citrus will go on, in your life and mine.

There's a thing about the Carousel of Progress that's unintentional and so usually goes uncommented on, but it's a thing I think about often and one I'm thinking about now, and that is its circular shape. It's not that it's just a circle or a wheel; it's that it's a cycle which endlessly repeats despite the fact that the show is about "progress", a unilateral move forward, out, and up. Yet the show obsessively returns to the turn of the century. No matter how much progress is made, a secondary meaning of the shape of the Carousel of Progress could be that "everything old is new again".

That's pretty much the story of the Orange Bird's life - everything old is new again. The Orange Bird was lately honored at Magic Kingdom in a morning ceremony outside his old stomping grounds - Sunshine Tree Terrace. He now, in fact, adorns the signs of the Juice bar he called his home, a very visual tribute to the many Magic Kingdom fans who have stuck with the park through wax and wane, a very explicit call-out to the cognoscenti: We Have Heard You, And You Matter.

Top: 1971 Bottom: 2012
 But, really, does it? Why does the Orange Bird matter whether he's on the sign or not? It's a somewhat ironic fate for a character who was only ever designed to sustain a part-time, short-term arrangement as a mascot for Florida citrus products, not unlike any of the other totally forgotten Disney-designed characters as part of sponsorship deals. The Orange Bird transcended the likes of Mohawk Tommy and Clutter the Squirrel, and we ultimately must ask: why? What about the Orange Bird has that special spark?

Well, we could talk about the most obvious thing, which is his cuteness. But it isn't just his cuteness, it's that the Orange Bird is cute in a very specific way that contemporary to where we are now. Generally speaking, in the United States and Europe, when we tend to design cute characters, they usually turn out looking basically like jowly cherubs:


What we've been seeing for the past several generations is an increasing trend away from the traditional Western forms of cuteness, ie, cuteness based on floppy puppies and pudgy babies, and towards the Eastern version of cuteness, especially cuteness imported from.... Japan.

Following the end of World War II there was an attempt to import American-style capitalism into Japan, an attempt which was essentially immediately very successful in a country which was so war ravaged that citizens were being encouraged to eat sawdust and peanut shells. Throughout the 1950s and 1960's, during a time when American characters were becoming more stylized and less lumpy, Japan embraced Western "beauty culture" until a new generation of kids began to shift paradigms away from beauty and fashion and towards simplicity and childishness - towards "cuteness". The new cute characters were minimalist and simple: unlike Mickey Mouse, who had a personality and backstory, Hello Kitty required one to use her imagination. She didn't even have a mouth.


From there, thanks to pop-cultural ambassadors like Nintendo and Sanrio, Eastern-style cuteness began to conquer the world.

The Orange Bird, created in the late 1960's, is localized at the moment of transition away from Western dominance and towards the East. His design is both minimal and modern, making productive use of the orange's circular shape. Although it's impossible to claim that Orange Bird established the wave, he has ridden it well into the 21st century while other mascots from his era now look quaint.

Another component of the Orange Bird's ongoing popularity is the way he represents an era of marketing and capitalism that has passed us by. Disney and Florida Citrus joined forces in the late 60s, in the era of the massive World's Fair spectaculars. There is currently a great deal of interest in World's Fairs, and part of that interest is what seems to our modern eyes to be the absolute improbability of them. Who today would spend money to build a massive, beautiful building that's going to be torn down in two years?


Of all of the original Magic Kingdom sponsors, Florida Citrus Growers was amongst the most prominent, alongside Eastern Airlines and RCA. They not only sponsored an anchor Adventureland attraction, but it was an attraction housed in a huge rambling three-part structure which took up the entire Western boundary of the land. The anchoring show, inside, was basically a fancier version of Disneyland's classic Tiki Room, although oranges had replaced the pineapples on the fountain in the center of the room. The pre and post shows, however, were totally new experiences, with two toucans chattering above a cluster of oranges behind a waterfall and a relaxed eating area at the exit under the synthetic green leaves of an orange tree where the Orange Bird swung happily away in the tropical breeze. This was the Sunshine Tree Terrace, the star of our story today, and in the days of Florida Citrus' sponsorship, it was the site of any number of orange related delicacies, as recounted in this 1972 article rescued for posterity by Michael Crawford:
As could be expected, orange juice and grapefruit juice are featured on the Terrace menu, but other specialties include tangerine soft freeze, a sherbet-like mixture of orange juice, tangerine concentrate, tangerine oil and sweetener; an orange juice bar on a stick and a jellied citrus salad composed of broken orange and grapefruit segments, grapefruit juice, sugar and gel.

Also offered is tangerine cheesecake, comprising cake topped with tangerine and orange glaze sauce; citrus tarts of heavy cream in an open shell, topped with orange sections and glazed orange sauce, and crepes ambrosia, a delightful mixture of oranges, tangerines, marshmallows and coconut dipped in heavy cream and rolled in a French pancake.
Now this complex is hardly as elaborate as some of the better World's Fair pavilions of its era - Disney was likely going to build a Tiki Room with or without Florida Citrus - but it still represents an era of thinking about commercial investment that would not fly in today's "economies of scale". Looking at a list of Disney's sponsorship partners of the era can be a little intimidating - who really remembers that it was Monsanto who sponsored Circle-Vision 360 in Tomorrowland, or that Welch funded Troubadour Tavern in Fantasyland? Yet all of these companies contributed time and a lot of money to have their name associated with Disney World - often with very difficult to distinguish immediate benefits. These sponsorships were absolutely essential not only to operating the park, but to getting it built in the first place.

EPCOT Center was based on the sponsorship deal more than any other theme park in history, and in today's era of investment concerns, has spellt disaster for what was once Disney's most daring and original theme park. There still are dozens of sponsors at Walt Disney World, but their presence is much more limited. There's no longer a special theme song or an attraction devoted to telling your marketing story. Probably the very last attraction to ever be recognizably in the classic Disney sponsorship mold was Delta Dreamflight, and that was back in 1989. Even Test Track, an extremely elaborate sponsored pavilion from 1996/8, could easily be sponsored by any other car manufacturer instead of General Motors, and indeed as of this writing GM is in the process of shifting the pavilion to focus less on their corporate brand identity and more on their Chevrolet imprint.

If you're a company looking to sponsor a pavilion today, what your financial investment is likely going to buy you is going to look like this:

Ta-DAH
 A tiny sign. That can be easily removed. In some way, it's hard to blame companies for not wanting to step forward more often. Based on a hugely significant cash outlay and yearly maintenance stipend, a lot of these companies are  getting only a cursory involvement in the attraction, or, at the opposite end of the spectrum, a strong involvement that can completely backfire.

But the funny thing is, most of Walt Disney World's unique things and characters and concepts that are most beloved are those tied to corporate sponsorships. Kodak's Dreamfinder and Figment. Kraft's Kitchen Kabaret. General Electric's Horizons. Florida Citrus Grower's Orange Bird. When the sponsorship agreement died, in every one of these cases, the properties did too. And the Orange Bird, he wasn't just a theme park character, he was a cross-platform marketing tool, appearing on television, in "Miss Florida Citrus" parades, on records, comic books, and in fruit stands across the state as the mascot for Florida citrus.

So the Orange Bird raises an interesting question, if by proxy. Now that widespread corporate sponsorship on a scale seen in, say, the RCA Space Mountain or the Monsanto Adventure Thru Inner space is no longer fashionable, what was the value of these to begin with? How many of us have spared a sunny thought or two for Monsanto because of "Miracles From Molecules" in complete ignorance of their current activities? How many of us instinctively reach for Kikkoman Soy Sauce in the grocery store because of a restaurant they sponsored twenty years ago? Eastern Airlines-Walt Disney World material is amongst the most readily sought-after material on the secondary market. I know I instinctively think of Delta when I think of airlines because of uncountable numbers of trips through Dreamflight.

What is the value of a lifetime of brand awareness and loyalty?

Today, the Orange Bird is no longer a Florida citrus thing - he's a Walt Disney World thing, and an old one at that. At some point he stopped being about selling your oranges and became a fetishistic nostalgia token, traded on memories. There's a final component of the Orange Bird that needs to be discussed, then.

Right now there is a generation of young people starting to finally exert themselves economically, voting with their dollars. and what these young people have voted for, time and time again, is a category of things we have no real good name for yet and so have been dubbed "retro". T-shirts are printed now to look as if they're already 30 years old. It's astonishingly easy to go into youth-oriented stores and see products designed to emulate the look and feel of products from twenty years ago, when these people were young... to recall the look of NES games, vintage cartoons, forgotten breakfast cereal boxes. Today people restore Nintendo Entertainment Systems and Apple II computers with the level of care and attention generally associated with steam railroad enthusiasts. Young kids walk around with things like Atari 2600 controllers on their shirts, a system that died out before they were even born.

The "Peter Pan Generation" has consistently embraced things which are in many ways throwbacks in reaction to the previous regimen of Generation X irony and detachment. Things which once seemed childish, laughable, or not to be taken seriously are being taken seriously. It is not a kitsch movement. The new generation wants to unironically embrace things like Disney musicals, clunky old electronics, and cultural obscurities because they seem purer and less corrupted and worn out than our current Dancing with the Stars era.

Culture Theorists Timotheus Vermeulen and Robin van den Akker have termed this "Metamodernism", a sort of post-post modernism, an embrace of things seen as purer, less ironic, and less detached than our current culture. In Disney fan group terms we can see this in the current interest in EPCOT Center attractions which in their day were seen as suspect, kitsch, or laughably out of date - often with the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers watching from the sidelines in horror. There is both an interest in a return to cultural naivety and a distance from taking such things too seriously -  informed naivety, pragmatic idealism.


The Orange Bird is uniquely suited to the "New Sincerity". He stands at the cultural crossroads, between Modernism and Post-Modernism, between Cute and "Kawaii", between retro and modern. The young people of today, who grew up in an era when Pikachu and Super Mario were more recognizable characters than Mickey Mouse, see much to embrace in the design, history, and cultural significance of the Orange Bird. Put simply: the Orange Bird was astonishingly serendipitously poised for a comeback.

Earlier today, D23 made good on their promise to be an official conduit between the fans and the company by unveiling a variety of Orange Bird surprises at the Magic Kingdom. The bird now graces the attraction marquee, sippy cups, shirts, and so on. What's better, a dedicated Sunshine Tree Terrace poster is now on display under the train station:

Ruthlessly swiped from Attractions Magazine!
 Guys, seriously. This is serious. The Orange Bird is on a poster under the train station. This is a commitment to history. Because Disney history doesn't belong in a museum, it's a living part of you and me.  Disney history is Disney culture. The Orange Bird song and Orange Tree have been re-recorded under the watchful eye of Dick Sherman, which handily effaces the Orange Bird's linked history with social discrimination. But the biggest surprise was the return and restoration of the original figure in place at the Sunshine Tree Terrace:

Actually a real thing!
But what does this mean to you, a person reading this article on the internet? I mean, if you grew up with the Orange Bird and love him dearly or if you are a person who came to the Orange Bird through the historical record, either way, this is a massively important gesture on the part of D23 and the entire company. This isn't a multi-day event in a hotel ballroom or a convention, it isn't a temporary thing that goes away in a few days - that bird is back, up there, on the facade, above the juice counter. He's back there because of you.

Yes, that's right, you. The Orange Bird's unbelievably unlikely revival came about because of fan interest. It began, perfectly enough, in Japan, with a wave of new Orange Bird merchandise which probably was half due to his right kind of cuteness and half due to Orange Day, a marketing "holiday" where couples are encouraged to exchange citrus and citrus-colored products. If that sounds like something the citrus industry dreamed up, you're absolutely right. What a beautiful resurrection- snatched out of obscurity to sell citrus half a world away.

From there, the drumbeat started to sound stateside, on sites like Widen Your World and this site here, Florida Orange Bird products began to appear on eBay with more frequency, and Disney Design Group picked up the little guy, featuring him on pins, vinyl toy merchandise, and shirts (these are the same folks who are single-handedly bringing back the resort's evocative original logo, by the way). Last February, the Disney Parks Blog gave the character even more exposure, and last May's Destination D event prominently featured an Orange Bird t-shirt. Richard Sherman sang "Little Orange Bird" in front of an audience of hundreds of paying customers, and for probably the first time in forty years.

The last year or so has actually been something like the Adventureland Spring, which began with Iago being fried like a marshmallow in the Tiki Room, continued through citrus-heavy activities at Destination D, became even stronger with the 40th anniversary of the resort and the re-opening of the Enchanted Tiki Room and a beautifully restored Swiss Family Treehouse, and - seemingly - climaxed with the return of the Citrus Swirl and a frenzy of internet activity.

The Orange Bird became a cypher for fan interaction, a symbol for dedication stronger that that signified by, say, Figment, who never fully left and who still has, after all, an attraction at EPCOT. I remember making an Orange Bird shirt at home in 2006, years before Disney's official ones became available. Orange Bird was gone, a true extinction and obscurity, and had become a signifier to a specialist audience. What better symbol for the Florida parks? He symbolized our history and heritage, both Old Florida and Disney Florida in a single stroke of a pen.

Let's lay it out clearly: this is the very first permanent thing in the history of Walt Disney World that is there because of the internet-centered fan base. Not even Journey into YOUR Imagination was killed because of the internet, which was too small and spotty back then to leverage much fear. This is D23, Walt Disney World, and interest groups moving in perfect harmony. This happened because of us. This is something to be proud of.


It's small, yes, but it's huge, too. It's huge because this is the sort of thing we fantasized about D23 being able to pull off at its inception. It's huge because Walt Disney World has never thrown its fans so much as a bone. It's huge because it proves that small things - like pins and shirts and blog posts and forum signatures - can build to bigger things. We need to stand up and support this and keep that little orange snowballing down the hill. It's proof that maybe, in the end, it's all worthwhile.

Because to us, and now to Disney too, the Orange Bird symbolizes us all. He's jumped on the Carousel of Progress now too: everything old is new again.

Enjoy your Citrus Swirl, you've earned it.

--

Orange Bird event photos provided by Travis Munson of DisneyProjects. Follow DisneyProjects on Twitter!

The Carousel of Citrus:
Walt Disney's Forgotten Characters by Kevin Kidney
Little Orange Memories by Michael Crawford
Sunshine Tree Terrace by Mike Lee
Oh, Little Orange Bird by Moi
Florida Orange Bird Returns to WDW by Jennifer Fickley-Baker
An Enchanted Opportunity by Michael Crawford
A Ray of Sunshine by Michael Crawford
Florida Orange Bird by Fritz
Orange Bird Quest by Hoot
Orange Bird Lands on New Merchandise by Steven Miller
Orange Bird Returns to Adventureland by Jennifer Fickley-Baker

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

All the Lights of the Kingdom, Part Two

(Part One)

Last time we looked at how lights and lamps help set the stage for the Magic Kingdom and how both Main Street and the Hub work variations on that, using lamps that help tell the story and create a sense of place. We also saw some suitably exotic examples in Adventureland and how the 1975 Tomorrowland used modern light fixtures to reinforce geometric architecture. Now let's venture on into Fantasyland, Frontierland and Liberty Square!

FANTASYLAND

There is more or less only one consistent rule in the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland, and that is that Big Lights = Fantasy. This, left, is a light that's buried deep inside the extended queue for Peter Pan's Flight, and is to me the poster child for this "Big = Fantasy!" approach. It's sort of hard to tell, but it's about the size of a small child's upper body. I'm about ten feet away from it when I took this picture.

The rule is upheld elsewhere. But its size aside, most of the Fantasyland lights are quite elaborate compared to those elsewhere in the park. Although the Florida Fantasyland has a much vaguer theme than, say, the 1983 Disneyland version, that later version is still indebted to certain aspects of our Fantasyland here. A general "old Europe" theme pervades, mashing up Renaissance festivals and Old Heidelberg. It is a frothy melange of influences.



More Olde Europe styling, this little lamp has been seen before, in Part One as a light fixture on the Adventureland Bridge. There, dangling from a rope and with stained glass instead of amber pebble glass, it looked faintly exotic. Here, it's been joined by an impressive anchor fixture. I'm pretty sure that this one in particular and a few other Fantasyland fixtures we'll be seeing were thrown together with parts from different lamp kits, adding to the eclectic, slightly naive charm of the lights in this part of the park.












 This does a good job of showing how the "Old Europe" and "Ren Faire" visuals work together, and this is a deliciously Gothic lamp, with its' bird's head supporting a lamp that recalls European cathedrals. I particularly like the three "candles" which are each irregularly elevated inside. The 1971 Fantasyland tents weirdly mash up modern sheet metal, medieval details, and European weapons like spears and lances; here we can see lanterns hung from shield bolted to spears to accent the entrance to Peter Pan's Flight.




This one is part of the Columbia Harbour House on the Fantasyland side; it also does double duty in Caribbean Plaza as a "Spanish" style lamp. Again, its' wall bracket here is beautiful, and although it does double duty to protect the lantern from Florida storms, the dangling chain adds a touch of Old World elegance.











A nearby lantern at Columbia Harbour House with a unique "wreath". Notice how this one also reflects the New England styling of the Harbour House, which straddles - and exits out into - both Fantasyland and Liberty Square. On the Liberty Square side, nearly all fixtures are white incandescent; Fantasyland lamps have a strong preference towards amber lights and dapple glass.







This one at right is representative of the lights seen all around the west side of the Small World show building/facade, although several have gone missing in recent years. They're just beautiful things; the side of the Florida Small World is designed to look like it's the very edge of the courtyard "enclosure" connected to Cinderella Castle that's rambling off out of sight, and I profiled it here as the "Small World Gate". These lamps both manage to recall Cinderella Castle without having to be faithful to its designs, as we will see.










This lamp is part of the castle courtyard between the exit to the castle the Cinderella's Golden Carrousel, which as a stronger medieval French-inflected design to go along with Cindy Castle itself. This one has a nice "flower" motif in the details and curling leaves.












 Now we're starting to work our way towards the castle "campus". These lights manage to look both Gothic and pleasantly deco modern at the same time, yet their crown-like crest and stained glass details absolutely make their relationship to the castle clear. This one is on the backside of the castle; these also grace the walk up to the castle as well as the terraced area behind it overlooking Main Street from Fantasyland.








Absolutely all of Cindy Castle is lit with indirect light; light bulbs hidden in a decorative crest atop the castle's columns cast light up and into the arched ceiling, which reflects down on the main pedestrian passageway. As a result, nearly all of the visible lamps in the castle are purely decorative and cast little to no light at all; just inside the main entryway from Main Street, it can be positively black at night.

 These two lamps to the left and right of the central arch slightly illuminate the way; notice their royal-crown like details on top as well as their handsome geometry.









This is the basic Cindy Castle light, and it's actually another one that seems, to me, impossibly huge; I'm standing three feet off the ground on a planter to take this picture.

I love WED's use of cracked glass and pebble glass in the Magic Kingdom lighting fleet; at night these lanterns cast lovely shadows on the walls. The Magic Kingdom, it must be said, lacks something for texture that you get at Disneyland, due to both a somewhat more geometric design and larger open spaces, the effect can sometimes be flatter. But at night, the light fixtures bring out new shadows, details, textures and patterns. It's a very intricate design.








The large chandelier from the reception area of the castle restaurant. Again we see WED making good use of lights which reinforce Cinderella Castle's arch-heavy design elements. This one really looks medieval, which is only accented by the fact that it hangs off a beamed ceiling, the only one we can see in the entire lobby portion of the castle. It's fun to imagine Robin Hood or King John or some similar middle-European figure having this as a dining hall fixture.


This one is my favorite and I've saved it for last. Although rather shopworn, this happy little light has been overseeing diners at the outdoor patio of Pinocchio Village Haus for four decades. It's another huge one, about a foot and a half across, and it serves absolutely no lighting purpose but seeing it always makes me happy. With it's three lights, amber bulbs, and faux "candle" bases, it reminds me of Christmas lights we put up in our windows back up north. It's simple, a little plain perhaps, but I find it naive and lovable. May she shine on for four more decades.

FRONTIERLAND

Frontierland is primarily lit with lamps intended to recall gas, kerosene or oil lamps; this could make for a potentially dull lighting landscape, but WED does pull out some nice variations on the basic cold-blast kerosene lamp to keep things interesting. Although these fixtures seem quite stock and generic at first glance, each facade has its own unique light or lamp, which helps the area feel a little more like a boom town that grew up in fits and starts.

This is the basic Frontierland street light. Although not seen in this photo, the base of these lamps is interesting. It looks as if the current lamp is lashed to an older post emerging from the pavement, as if these newer lamps took the place of older ones, a small suggestion of this place's history.





The basic Fronteirland wall lamps which appear in the stretch of facades from Grizzly Hall down towards the Mile Long Bar / Pecos Bill Cafe area.








The area surrounding the Frontierland Mercantile has these cold-blast kerosene lamps with reflectors around the entrance to the store; one on each side of the door. It adds a little touch of gentility to the store and helps it stand out alongside the rather rough-hewn buildings seen elsewhere in Frontierland. It's interesting to note that this particular facade facing Country Bear Jamboree is probably the most gentrified front in the whole of Frontierland, with its fancy latticed porch and upstairs rooms to let.




Two lamps from the middle section of the Frontierland Mercantile facade, these square lights are very cute and add a touch of charm to this bright and cheerful little store front.














More kerosene lamps from the Shooting Gallery side of the Mercantile facade, this one resembling a rough slate and wood structure. These are probably most interesting thanks to their special design which casts light down as well as up.

Another super size lantern, this time from a decorative staircase near the original entrance to Pecos Bill Cafe. This lantern was once also used in Adventureland, although I think most examples of this have since been removed. I find the sandy color of this example especially pleasing when paired with the earth tones of the Southwest-styled Pecos facade, almost like aged and tarnished silver.

If you've never found this little side staircase, which has been largely obscured by later development and a now-huge tree, it's worth seeking out. Tile lined and appealing, it's very very close to something you might find at Disneyland, and indeed the entire original Pecos Bill complex was, before expansion, probably the most direct link between Magic Kingdom and Disneyland, being a nearly direct reproduction of the old Casa Del Fritos / Casa Mexicana facade, and indeed sponsored by the same food conglomerate (Pepsi Cola / Frito Lay).


Some appropriately stylish "Southwest" lanterns, also near the original Pecos Bill entrance, brings us to the end of Frontierland. This entire complex was originally a much more rustic and simple series of facades, with thatch-draped patio areas and charmingly low, simple architecture. During the 1998 expansion which swallowed up all the original al fresco dining space and dropped in a series of huge rectangular facades and dining halls into what was once a rambling collection of intimate rooms. This small courtyard is one of the few remnants of WED-era design in the entire western half of Frontierland.


Frontierland is not the most inspiring of Magic Kingdom lands when it comes to lamps, but it also doesn't fare too badly, working some interesting variations on limited material.




LIBERTY SQUARE


There is a small area in Liberty Square dividing Frontierland from the rest of the land which is intended to recall St. Louis - "The Gateway to the Frontier" - immediately surrounding the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon. This elaborate light, near an exit to the saloon and right at the border nicely straddles the line between the Frontierland kerosene lamps and the Liberty Square colonial lights, as well as echoing the Adventureland Veranda Breezeway lights seen in Part One. It's quite an elaborate "hero" light, straddling three times and places effortlessly.

These nearby lamps don't work quite as hard, but they're still part of the Liberty Square-Frontierland "transition". The dangling one on the right, in particular, with its chain and strong wooden post, is very evocative of Frontierland's earthen textures and colors.







An appropriately brassy big city lamp outside the Diamond Horseshoe. Although both facilities are the same size and very similar inside, the Diamond Horseshoe takes up much less facade space than its counterpart at Disneyland, the Golden Horseshoe. This means something, but I'm not sure what. And yes, this building is part of Liberty Square, despite what some places - including sometimes Disney - would have you believe.



Two Liberty Square wall lamps, similar but quite distinct. Frontierland's gas lamps all flicker and pulse, but I've always found Liberty Square's use of bright steady incandescent lights to be an interesting choice for an area which could become overloaded with "candlelight". These two little lamps cast a lot of light thanks to their reflectors.


This cute little light is part of the side of the Liberty Tree Tavern, which is disguised to recall colonial homes. Placed next to an artificial "front door", it's welcoming little lantern.














One of the few amber lamps in Liberty Square, this light hangs off the side of Olde World Antiques / the Christmas Shoppe. The use of steady incandescent light in Liberty Square helps create, I think, a sense of peace and tranquility after Main Street's popcorn exuberance, whereas the lights in Adventureland, Frontierland, and around the Haunted Mansion, which are dimmer, fewer in number, and often flickering like flames, help create the impression that these areas are less civilized.


One of Liberty Square's fabulous "corner bracket" lights, this one also gets a through workout over by the Hall of Presidents. These lights are tall, large, and elaborate, natural partners to red brick and white moulding.


















A hanging "nautical" light from Mike Fink Keelboats. This building should be explored more in a future post, but suffice to say it manages to look nautical and New England from the pedestrian level, to match the Yankee Trader and Columbia Harbour House, while simultaneously appearing rustically Southern from a distance, to match the Mississippi riverboat and southern ambiance of Tom Sawyer Island. Some of the pure ambition of the multifunctional architecture in Magic Kingdom continues to astonish.

These lamps also used to grace the entrance to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which was torn down in 2004.

Two lamps, again from the rustic rear side of the Olde World Antiques complex, these have recently been rebuilt and look fresh and new. I've always admired the fun flower/starburst behind the bulb of the circular lamp, one of the few decorative reflectors in the area. The timbered wood posts and stone walls give this stretch of facades a slightly rustic touch, and these lamps play off that without looking out of place in the area's strongly Philadelphia/Greek Revival overall atmosphere.

Stately, eagle-topped lights hanging in the entrance to the Hall of Presidents.

For the Liberty Square area, WED went to quite extreme lengths on this occasion to ensure the proper atmosphere; the bridge and river is flanked with slate from a quarry near Williamsburg, there are rocks from the Potomac in the hub canal nearby, and WED even raided houses of the period for decorative boot scrapers, door handles and knockers seen on the various facades in the area. I've been told that some lights in the area are actual antiques, but I've always doubted it - a lot of what I've profiled above looks like basic yard / "estate" lamps direct from the catalog. I think these three, however, may be actual antiques. They're visibly much older and fragiler than the rest.

Georgian style sconces inside the Hall of Presidents rotunda nicely match the...









....Georgian style chandelier nearby. These are among my favorite light fixtures in the area, both for their beautiful gilt color and the way they sneakily walk the line between old and modern with their candle-flame light bulbs.

The Hall of Presidents rotunda overall combines ancient and modern in interesting ways, throwing Georgian fixtures, hand-carved plaster paneling, and brightly-lit modern domes and recessed lights into a mix that is effective and not visually contradictory. It is miles better than the American Adventure's similar rotunda and galleries, which sometimes reminds us of what Martha Stewart's idea of Colonial America would look like.

These hanging lamps wouldn't look out of place outside the Disneyland Haunted Mansion. They're from the facade of the Liberty Tree Tavern, which at times strongly recalls that attraction's emblematic front. They speak of hospitality, warmth, and cheer, and are amongst the biggest and brightest fixtures in the Square.















Two gorgeous specimens from the side of the Tavern, which to me match the Hall of Presidents lamps and may also be antiques. These have also recently been rebuilt.















 Two beautiful examples from the dim lobby of Liberty Tree Tavern, amongst the most evocative spaces in any theme park. Compare the simple austerity of these pressed tin and simple copper lamps to those very elaborate ones seen in the Hall of Presidents - 50 feet away - to truly appreciate how much effort WED put into making every facade and room in the Magic Kingdom feel unique. These also use frosted taper bulbs instead of clear ones, which give off a much warmer, homier glow.


Sconces and smaller chandeliers inside the Tavern in context.

Now, I've spent a lot of time discussing these lamps and lights, it's time for some larger context. Theme parks are not made in splendid isolation, and unless Emile Kuri was a much busier boy than I think he was, not every light and lamp in the Magic Kingdom was some sort of brilliant executive decision. A good deal of the choices were carried over from Disneyland. A good deal of these lamps were off-the-shelf models, raided from other facilities, or Hollywood's quite elaborate movie warehouses. Indeed, the rich variety of lamps in the Magic Kingdom is as much a tribute to the film industry than any one person or place.

But all of the decisions are careful. Even when the decision is somewhat arbitrary, in the way that a lot of the exterior Liberty Square lamps are basically interchangeable, we see a careful consideration on the part of somebody of the lamp, the architecture it's on, the space it occupies, and how the whole thing will go together. They aren't just simple choices, they're the right choices.

That's the amazing things about these parks, that we can drill down to the level of, say, a doorknob and see how all the doorknobs of the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland suit their area. It's the reason why these two parks in particular cast such a long shadow over popular culture - a shadow that Disney is now, more than ever, racing to stay ahead of.