Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tour Walt Disney's Hideaway

The L.A. Times reported last week that Walt's apartment above the fire station on MainStreet will be open for tours starting in January. The apartment is one of many legendary historical sites at Disneyland, "Disney built the 500-square-foot apartment, outfitted with red crushed carpet and velvety Victorian decore, in 1954. It was the park's second structure after the opera house, which doubled as a saw mill."

Tours are only available to selected guests as a part of the 2008 "Disney Dreams Giveaway," (aka the "Year of a Million Dreams" promotion, that hardly anyone knows about, only by a different name for 2008.) Although some of the ideas behind both of these promotions are great, as a whole I'm not sold on their success as a marketing tool. I'm not a marketing guy, but I have a hunch that these promotions are more of a success due to a relatively stable economy at the time being. But hey, timing is everything.

The "Dreams" promotions are funny to me. Aside from the fact that not many people even know these promotions exist, (and even if they did) I don't think it has a direct influence in getting people through the turn stiles. The random chance of getting to see Walt's apartment or staying the night in Sleeping Beauty's castle isn't going to draw anyone to the park that wasn't going to go anyhow. Are people going to the parks more often to increase their chances of randomly winning something?

The "Disney Dreams Giveaway" sounds like a used car lot gimmick, and no one knows how, what, or where this giveaway works or is awarded within the parks. How can it possibly boost attendance? Disney should get some of those survey takers that hit you for your zip code as soon as you walk in to the park to ask if anyone is visiting the park in hopes of winning the days "Year of Million Dreams" prize. At least some lucky random people will get to see some of these coveted Disney sites as a by-product.

This all brings me to something I've wished Disneyland would offer for a long time, and it's something that would actually draw people in. To keep in tradition with the overly used and cliche Disney marketing words that are slowly loosing... well... their magic, I'll call it "The Disneyland Magical History Tour."

A before hours (and for you marketing guys- yes, a separate ticket required) tour of some of Disneyland's legendary landmarks like, Walt's apartment, Club 33, and the Lilly Bell train car, and various other behind the scenes spots. Disneyland has so much history being the "original," you can't tell me this wouldn't have a waiting list backed up for months.

It would make more sense to use some of the history and sites that already exist, which are of no additional expense beyond a tour guide, to entice people who are genuinely interested enough to pay to see these locales.

(Photos: Alex Gallardo/L.A. Times)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Drawings From Imagineers: Topper Helmers

In a sense, I have Topper Helmers to thank for all the "Drawing From Imagineers" posts. As you may know from previous posts these are all drawings that Imagineers have drawn in a sketchbook for me while attending the Life Drawing workshops at WDI. Topper actually gave me the idea of doing the sketchbook and it was Topper who introduced me to John Hench, who did the first page in the book. So an obvious and multitude of thanks to Topper!!

Topper worked for Imagineering from 1990-1998 and has won many awards for his work on Indiana Jones: Temple of the Forbidden Eye, Animal Kingdom, and the Animation Exhibit at California Adventure. Topper continues to do freelance for various theme park and animation companies, and more of his work can be seen at his website here.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

AlunaTime at Epcot

I saw this awhile back and thought it has an old school Disney educational feel that I think a lot of people miss about Epcot, but with a relavant and designy feel at the same time. Given Walt's "Clock of the World" timepiece that was originally in Tomorrowland, I think Walt would certainly have wanted one of these for FutureWorld in Epcot, or glowing out in the waters of the World Showcase Lagoon.

AlunaTime is a tidal powered moon clock. It's made of translucent recycled glass that has LED lights through out the entire piece. There is one being built in England and also one in Australia that mirrors the Northern Hemisphere, one moving clockwise and the other counter-clockwise. Visit the official site here.

You can tell the moons phase, position, and the tide by the way the three concentric rings are lit up at any given time. At night the rings are lit up with white lights and during the day the leading edges of the rings change to color.

The largest ring represents the Lunar Phase, or wax and wane of the moon. On a new moon the unlit ring gradually lights up over the next 29.5 days to become fully lit by the time of the full moon. It then works it way back, waning back to the next new moon.

The center ring is the moons direct position in relation to the earth based on a lunar day of 24 hours and 50 minutes. If the moon is below the horizon the ring is visible below your feet.

The inner most ring displays the tidal cycle. It is likened to the "heartbeat" of the piece, ebbing and flowing with the tide cycle every 12 hours and 25 minutes.