Posts Tagged ‘Walt Disney World’

Magic Journeys

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Arthur de Wolf, Walt Disney World transit map


I’m a sucker for a nice map. A couple of years ago, I posted about Walt Disney World and Disneyland maps. As a nice by-product, we were then hired to design a new souvenir map for Disneyland. I can’t show this to anyone due to the contract, but believe me, it’s good. A kind follower of burningsettlerscabin recently sent me this remarkable map of Walt Disney World by Arthur de Wolf. Holy cheese and crackers, I am blown away. This is one of those times I find myself saying, “I wish I’d done that.” It’s reminiscent of Massimo’s 1972 New York Subway map. Fortunately it isn’t like the most confusing map I’ve ever used for the Tokyo Subway system. Try to figure that one out. Now I know why I see photos of passengers being shoved into trains in Tokyo. They obviously are all lost and endlessly changing trains to find the way home.


Massimo Vignelli, New York Subway map, 1972

Tokyo Subway map

Tokyo Subway pushers, Shinjuku Station

Great Expectations and Bleak House

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

World magazine, 1977

I’m one of those odd people who loved high school. I recall sitting in the cafeteria at Seaside High School my senior year thinking, “This is the best time of my life.” Sad, you probably say. Middle school was another story. But, then, does anyone think middle school was the highlight of his or her life?

Being thirteen was hard. I had just returned from grammar school in Australia and had an accent that seemed “snobby” to the other students at Archie Clayton Middle School. My mother was between husbands and we were living at my grandmother’s house. I kept my clothes in a box and slept on a cot in my great-aunt’s room. Good times. In addition, I now realize I had awful taste in shirts.

I had a couple of tricks that helped my daily attitude. As corny as this seems, I tried to recall all the good things that happened each day before I went to sleep. I also was constantly in a planning state for a trip to Walt Disney World. I know, the whole story is sounding Dickensian. I had an issue of World magazine and the fact sheet Questions. Looking at the Questions piece now, I’m not amazed by the low prices, but by the incredibly tight leading of justified Avant Garde Light. How could I read this? I also spent hours trying to decipher the images in World magazine (remember no internet, and 3 television channels). There is one couple that seems to be everywhere. Who were they? How could they be so carefree? Then there is that yellow creature. WTF? I don’t know what that is.

One of my favorite blogs is Passport to Dreams Old and New. Cracker Jack writing and incredible images makes this a daily stop for me. One post points directly to this question. The Beard Dude and his Farrah Fawcett-esque girlfriend show up often. Today, I spend a large amount of energy trying to drive clients away from posed and artificial images toward a more authentic journalistic approach. Now, I see how wrong I have been. At 13, I bought the message that this couple had all problems solved and this vacation was the highlight of their existence. From now on, I’m going to request photography of posed couples, men with beards, women with Farrah Fawcett hair, and an unbridled enthusiasm in the most mundane activities.

I make fun of these artifacts now. But these pieces of paper made the difference for me between intense focus and planning of a vacation, or selling dope and robbing 7-11 stores.

WDW Questions, 1977

Questions, 1977

Questions, detail, 1977

World magazine, 1977

World magazine, 1977

World magazine, 1977

World magazine, 1977

World magazine, 1977

Farrah Fawcett woman and Beard dude boating

Farrah Fawcett woman and Beard dude with cocktails

The odd yellow creature

The hideous shirt

The View from Here

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Disneyland Main Street West

Disneyland Main Street East

Disneyland Main Street Plaza

Disneyland Main Street model

Disneyland Frontierland

Disneyland Frontierland 1965

Disneyland New Orleans Station

I gave a talk about the narrative design of Disneyland at the Cusp conference a couple of years ago. I covered the idea of a cinematic experience and viewer participation. The visual landscape of both Disneyland and Walt Disney World is carefully planned to create an experience like a film. For example, the tunnels on either side of the Main Street train station act like the darkening of a theater, then the guest passes onto Main Street and the “film” begins. But, the viewpoint is not straight down Main Street toward the castle. It’s to the right or left, then as the guest moves into the park, the view is revealed. The castle acts as a draw, or in Disney terms, a “weenie” and the guest is pulled toward the center of the park.

Each vista is planned to serve as a setting, information delivery vehicle, navigation device, and entertainment. At the same time, the overall sense of security and familiarity is created. Think of the experience this way: there are long shots of a Panavision nature, medium shots of singular buildings, close-ups of pedestrian level windows and doors, and detail shots of individual elements such as a birdcage on a porch or old apothecary bottles in a window.

While others are taking photos of their friends or family members in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle, I’m shooting the long shots and details. I’ve found shooting panoramas by standing in one spot and rotating 360 degrees, or moving down the street and taking a picture every twenty feet to work well. Of course it looks crazy, but so what?

As a side note, once again, bring your subject close and let the castle be a background. Unless you need to shoot their entire outfit with shoes, we don’t need to see their entire body. There is no need to be upset when people walk between you and the subject 50 feet away. If I see you do this I will purposely walk between you and the subject and stand there.

Walt Disney World Main Street east

Walt Disney World Main Street Plaza

Walt Disney World Main Street Town Square

Walt Disney World Rivers of America

Walt Disney World Liberty Belle

Walt Disney World Frontierland

Epcot Plaza

Walt Disney World Yacht Club

Walt Disney World Yacht Club

The Other Side

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Richard Terpstra, Walt Disney World Florida t-shirt

You can’t tell if something is dark without also seeing something light. In the same way, it’s hard to know when something is bad, when it’s all you’ve known. When I was growing up, we moved constantly, as if my parents were on the run from the law. When I left home at 18, we’d moved 22 times on three continents. I didn’t realize this was bad until I was able to stay in one place for more than 18 months.

I had another realization like this last week. I was at Walt Disney World and saw someone wearing a completely groovy t-shirt with the original Walt Disney World 1971 logo. I assumed it was an old shirt until I found it in a store. Richard Terpstra designed the shirt this year. On a side note, Terpstra is a genius at creating new products that have a sense of history and never seem forced or bad replications. Then, I found more t-shirts that I loved. Yes, they all nod to the past and fall into a post-modern pastiche concept. Yes, they are ironic and something someone would wear at a coffee house in Brooklyn or spice store in Silverlake. But, I could wear them too. That’s a real accomplishment to create a product that can run the gamut from hard-core hipster to Fred MacMurray.

Now, why was this a realization? Because I’m not used to seeing something this well designed on my side of the country at Disneyland. I’m a huge fan of Kevin Kidney items, and own an amount of them others find “eccentric”. The other merchandise at Disneyland is, well, cheesy. I hear about the issue of annual passport holders not buying merchandise at Disneyland often. I’ve had an annual passport since 1984 and don’t buy t-shirts. But I’ve only seen the overwrought glittery hyper-cute Disneyland t-shirts.

The cat’s out of the bag for me. I’ve seen what is possible. Someone in Florida at Disney Park merchandising is doing something wonderful and exciting. They’re taking risks and designing for an audience other than the Housewives of Anaheim. Bravo (no pun intended).

Walt Disney World Epcot t-shirt

Walt Disney World Epcot t-shirt

Walt Disney World Sunshine Pavilion t-shirts

Walt Disney World Epcot t-shirt

Walt Disney World t-shirt

Richard Terpstra, WDW and DLP t-shirts

Kevin Kidney, Disneyland vintage logo shirt

Kevin Kidney, Walt Disney World ceramic cups

Walt Disney World Sunshine Pavilion Orange Bird cups

The extremely cool Mary Blair vase, Kevin Kidney

Disneyland t-shirt

Disneyland t-shirt

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

Peoplemover, Magic Kingdom

“How many photos of the same ochre door in Liberty Square at Walt Disney World do I need?” Obviously, the answer is “never too many.” Organizing my iPhoto library this weekend, I found the same image photographed almost in the exact same location over the course of ten years. Clearly, each time I see this door, I think, “oh, that would make a nice photograph.” But clearly, my mind is a sieve.

The other surprising discovery was the large amount of Walt Disney World photos sans people. I’m not talking here about the lack of photos of family members. I mean no people, as in Life After People. This tells me something about my psychological makeup, but I can’t focus long enough to know what. I don’t know how I manage to take so many images at a place with millions of people that are devoid of human activity. And there are quite a few images that may have a couple of guests, but are of empty areas of concrete or sand.

I have a secret dream of retiring and creating a job at Disneyland helping people with their photos, and offering guidance to the guests looking lost. “Excuse me,” I would say, “Are you looking for Space Mountain?” Or, “May I help you with a photo tip? Bring your child forward, and let the castle be in the background.” I could wear a white shirt and black bow tie, and be the “Answer Man.” The trick would be to not direct people to shoot scenes without any human presence. “Now wait, ask your child to get out of the shot. Okay, there are no people in the frame, shoot it now.”

Liberty Square, Magic Kingdom

Peoplemover, Magic Kingdom

Space Mountain, Magic Kingdom

Grand Floridian Resort, Walt Disney World

Monorail track, Walt Disney World

Monorail cabin, Walt Disney World

View from Yacht Club Resort, Walt Disney World


Odyssey Building, Epcot

Imagination Pavilion

Canada Pavilion, Epcot

Japan Pavilion, Epcot

American Pavilion, Epcot

American Pavilion, Epcot

German Pavilion, Epcot

China Pavilion, Epcot

50s Prime Time Diner, Disney Studios

50s Prime Time Diner, Disney Studios