Summer Fun & Games - and "bits" & "jujus" - at Disneyland: "Legends of Frontierland" and "Adventure Trading Company"
When the Disney Parks Blog announced in July that "a new merchant is opening soon for a limited engagement beginning August 1", this was after Disneyland had already debuted "Legends of Frontierland: Gold Rush!", an interactive experience where park guests are encouraged to participate in a role-playing game (RPG) to collect rewards, earn "bits" and choose sides in a land feud between Frontierland and Rainbow Ridge. A friend and I played it for about an hour the week it debuted.
Adopting the alias "Sasparilla Joe", I was stunned to find my game name on a wanted poster only a half hour later. Arrested by the local "law" (who were cast members in on the game), I got to duel for my freedom with the fellow Disneyland guest who turned me in. After my successful shootout, which was a round of rowshambo or Rock-Paper-Scissors, I was earned bits in the amount of the reward written on my wanted poster. I could continue playing to earn more bits and buy land in Frontierland or Rainbow Ridge with it.
I enjoyed the RPG, but I couldn't see myself spending too many hours at the park playing this. It was fun updating friends on Instagram during the game. I've shared some of those pictures below.
Now back to that new merchant post I first mentioned.
So when the Adventure Trading Company set up shop inside the Indiana Jones Outpost store in Adventureland, I thought it might be another RPG and ignored it for the first few weeks. However, when the Disney Parks Blog savvily updated that the final shipments of Jujus were soon arriving to the park, the idea that I would miss getting even one of them to own at least piqued my collector-itch enough to give it some more attention.
I discovered a great, informative article about the Adventureland experience on MiceChat which explained that nine "jujus", which were small, colorful totems one a leather, beaded loop, were available to purchase for either $5 or $7.50. Three required nothing more than outright buying them, but the rest involved receiving a game sheet of some sort with your initial purchase that provided instructions on how to ultimately receive your selected Juju. The activities ranged from looking for items around the park, taking specific pictures, calling a special phone number, and telling a joke at the Jungle Cruise exit.
The idea of spending over $50 to get them all was a turn off for me right from the start. Seeing pictures of them, I didn't think they were worth that to get them all. I admit I also didn't want to work all that hard and think of a joke to tell either. So after reading the last blog and MiceChat article, I decided to invest in getting just three Jujus, two of which involved food (natch!) and one that would allow me to experience one of the quest activities.
The pineapple Juju was my first and the easiest to get and just about provided The Most Pleasure of all the Jujus I collected. I just had to go the Tropical Imports fruit stand in Adventureland and buy a new food item, a "This Side Up" Pineapple Parfait. The Juju was packaged with it. $7.50 later, first Juju collected.
The parfait was DELICIOUS! I hope Disneyland plans to continue offering them here after this experience concludes.
The other two Jujus I sought out were the eye of Mara Juju, because - duh! - Indiana Jones, and the tiki mask one, because it involved going to Trader Sam's at the Disneyland Hotel to enjoy a new drink! When I asked for these two Jujus at the Outpost, I was given two envelopes containing materials I had to work out in order to earn them. I paid $5 for the Mara quest but was given an envelope for the tiki mask juju for free. I'd pay the $7.50 for that Juju when I made my way to Trader Sam's and finally ordered the drink.
The eye of Mara quest packet included a line drawing of a map of Adventureland with a space in the lower right corner to do a rubbing from a tablet I needed to find in the land. Honestly, I had a hard time finding the tablet. I didn't find it until I saw other players hover around a spot near the Indiana Jones Adventure attraction and realized "There it was!" Turns out the tablet has a code on it. It's the same code to decipher the messages written on the walls of the Indiana Jones Adventure queue line. Disney fans know it as Mara Font or Mara's Eye Font. I used it to decipher the message written on my map, which asked me to find another tablet in Adventureland, which I found and decipher the coded message on it, which provided the answer to a question I was asked back at the Outpost when I returned there to earn my Mara juju.
It was more elaborate than I expected, but definitely doable without much frustration. It was fun and definitely in the vibe of an Indiana Jones type of adventure. A worthy exercise to earn an Indiana Jones totem!
Finally it was time to work out what I needed to do to earn my third Juju. I needed to find three icons that were displayed around Adventureland. These icons were new to the land and on crates that blended it with the look of Adventureland but still stand out. I found the first one at the Jungle Cruise exit fairly quickly. A friend who joined me later helped to figure out that the second one had to be near the Enchanted Tiki Room, and we found that one easily too. Then we both figured the final one had to be near where Indiana Jones is prominently displayed. This one took a while to find for us, but I finally found it when I looked through a Cast Member's legs! She was inside the Indiana Jones Outpost standing in front of some crates which had the icon stamped on it.
Finding all three icons, I wrote down the phrases that were printed next to them on the crates, which according to my quest sheet were the three ingredients needed to make JuJuJuice, the drink I could only order at Trader Sam's.
Trader Sam's was busy when I got there. No seats were available at the bar and waitresses were busy clearing off tables as guests were finally leaving them. I found a small table to sit at, but it took a while for me to get some service. But finally I did and I ordered my JujuJuice. She asked for my quest sheet to confirm that I indeed found the correct three missing ingredients. Then shortly thereafter, I got my third and final Juju of the day. It also came with a button. The JuJuJuice was tasty, but man, way too much ice!
So, having completed what I set out to do today, I was very happy and had a lotta fun while collecting them. During the day, I posted these pictures on Instagram and heard back from some Disney fan friends asking me what they were all about. I explained what I had learned about them and most importantly, that the supplies were apparently limited. That got some of them to start playing and collecting immediately. A few days later I met some of them who showed me what they were picking up.
I now got to see some of the other Jujus that I didn't pick up. What I haven't mentioned before is that these Jujus look and feel really nice in person. They're well designed, detailed and painted. They're cool! And I didn't realize that was the case when I initially just saw pictures of them.
And that's when my downfall began.
As I saw my friends' Jujus and how they were getting excited at the prospect of collecting them all, my collector instinct kicked in again. Damn.
And I could feel the urge to deposit more money into the Bank of Disneyland but quick!
Deciding to give in and grab a few more, I spread my search for the remaining six Jujus over the next two days. I played this inner monologue game with myself that by getting three Jujus one day and then holding off on the final three the day after, maybe some will have run out and then I can save some money. It was silly really, and they didn't sell out. So I ended up spending a total of $53.50 to acquire all nine Jujus.
Oddly enough, from the start, the one Juju quest I was least excited about participating in was the one that turned out to be one of the most fun to do. To earn the piranhahaha Juju, I had to tell a joke to a Jungle Cruise cast member. Despite being an actor, it's not necessarily fun or easy for me to be an extrovert on call. Add to that, of all the jokes I've been told, I never ever remember them. So I had to come up with one. And I did. And I thought it was pretty darn good too! It was appropriately Jungle Cruise-y, included a piranha, and the Cast Member I told it too really enjoyed it!
So having collected the set, I thought I was done. Then, a friend let me know that the park was secretly offering a tenth mystery Juju. Last year at D23 Expo, this Juju experience was originally beta-tested with the attendees there, and they earned a skull Juju. My friend said this was the mystery Juju and that I needed to follow Disneyland on Twitter to learn when adventurers were called to earn this bonus one.
Well, it was in the last two weeks of August that I collected mine, and I hadn't noticed any tweets from Disneyland about a special quest in that time. But Disney Parks Blog again comes to the rescue! In their last post about the activity, they told folks that there was an opportunity to earn a "special mystery Juju" on Friday, August 31!
I am so there!
But so were hundreds of others! When I got there in the morning, there was a line stretched from the Outpost all the way down through Adventureland, out of Adventureland and just across the entrance of the Enchanted Tiki Room. My first thought was, "This is insane!" My second was, "Damn ebayers!"
Seeing that line, all the past fun I enjoyed collecting the first nine Jujus became a distant memory. Now it was work because I had to wait in an hour long line to pay for an envelope and then wait in a second long line to fulfill an activity to receive the Juju. And I learned this limited edition Juju was available to anyone. No need to have purchased any previous Juju.
Taking a deep breath now.
So I waited an hour or two before getting in the line. When I got in it, the end of the line ended at just the Adventureland Bazaar, and my wait in line only lasted twenty minutes. For my five bucks, I got an envelope containing instructions on the outside and a sheet of paper inside.
The second line queued into Aladdin's Oasis. Looking into the area from the entrance, I could see several lines of cord strung all around the inside patio with scores of these sheets clipped onto them. Seems like Disney marketing found a clever way to collect data about this experience from all its participants. I also saw Cast Members inside, some just talking with guests, others interviewing them on camera.
On my sheet, I chose the "illustrate" option mentioned in the instructions and did a sketch of my adventure collecting every Juju on this August journey.
I waited for this line to die down too before finally getting in it. I asked a Cast Member how long the experience inside would last and I was told it'd take no more than 10-15 minutes.
When I got in, I was among a small group of eight joining two Cast Members who asked us to tell the stories we'd written down...but with a twist. As one started to tell his/her story, the next person had to segue their story at the end of the previous one. It was fun listening to some of the park guests get really into it creating original stories. When it was my turn about midway through our group, I showed them I'd just drawn a picture. But as a way to have me tell a story, she suggested I tell my joke. I was happy to, and everyone liked it -- tho' not as much as that Cast Member I first told it to.
After the final story was told, we turned in our cards and each received our skull Juju.
I later spoke to another friend who claimed his skull Juju that afternoon. His experience to earn his was different than mine. He had to also tell a story, but his group also had to decipher a message displayed before them. The message needed to be decoded using the Mara Font again. In addition, everyone in his group scored a treat that I really wanted to have again. They each got free mini cups of the "This Side Up" Pineapple Parfait. DAY-UM!! Color me jealous.
So there you go. I got a few bits and a whole lotta Jujus from Disneyland this summer. Despite the crazy long line that put a big drag on what had been a lot of great, impulse fun previously (and smacking of just giving eBay businesses an easy way to make great profits for a few hours' time while robbing folks who want one for themselves the cheaper $5 way), I had a lot more fun collecting the Jujus than I ever expected.
I hope Disney does this again. I hope if they offer another bonus Juju, that they ask for proof of getting the previous Jujus first. And I really, really hope the "This Side Up" Pineapple Parfait becomes a regular item they sell at Tropical Imports or elsewhere in Disneyland!
You can see a few more pictures from my hunt on Instagram.
Disney geeks know that July 17 is Disneyland's birthday. It's the day in 1955 that Walt Disney officially opened his theme park to park guests in attendance and those watching a live television broadcast.
For this year's 59th park birthday, I won passes from Disney Parks Blog to attend "...a sneak peek at some of what’s in store for the resort’s 60th anniversary celebration next year." While many Disney fan and news sites speculated about what would be announced, as it turned out the sneak peek was simply the introduction of a new diamond-themed logo and the announcement of a photo contest granting its winner and guests a trip to Disneyland. Those websites were disappointed, but I wasn't.
I would've gone to Disneyland on this day anyway, regardless of winning passes from the Blog. As a Premium annual passholder, I can go in anytime! But attending as guests of Disney Parks Blog definitely had its privileges, as my friend and I joined other Blog guests in receiving complimentary 1-day park hoppers; Blue section World of Color FASTPASSes; exclusive upfront viewing for the park's 59th birthday celebration; an exclusive reception with refreshments and photo ops with Disney characters; and a couple of amazing keepsake gifts!
We arrived early on July 17th to the park to check in at one of the ticket booths. After showing my ID, we had wristbands put on us and received the passes, voucher and schedule shown in the photo above. Getting park hoppers caught me off-guard. For some odd reason, I had assumed this event was exclusive to annual passholders. But I was wrong. It was open to all Disney Parks Blog readers, who aren't necessarily passholders or if they were, might've been blocked out today. Curse my snobby privileged AP mentality! (This is where a smiley face with a tongue sticking out would go. But this blog isn't a text, is it.)
At the park entrance, one turnstile at the far left was marked for "Special Guests". We entered through there and was asked to stand to one side to wait for a Cast Member to escort us into the park. We didn't wait at all as one arrived at that moment and walked us through the berm tunnel into the town center, where we could see park guests already crowding in the space in front of City Hall. The pathway onto the street was clear tho', because it was roped off. But as we approached with our escort, a Cast Member there unhooked the rope to allow us in. We were told we could stand in one of two taped off areas on the street and sidewalk.
To be honest, I was a little confused at this point. I didn't know what we were going to be seeing today and how it would be presented. So having the whole unexpected VIP treatment upon arrival and being escorted to a taped off area on Main Street was kind of surreal. But once we saw the new 59th birthday display set up on the top steps of Main Street Station (that's the photo at the top of this blog), the pieces started to come together in my head. The entire street along the front of Main Street Station was roped off and regular park guests were filling up in street areas around us and behind the flag pole, saving their spots to see the 10am celebration. We, as it turned out, were gonna see it from the front row.
Well played, Disney Parks Blog!
Over the course of the hour we had to wait for the event that this week's Entertainment Times Guide called "Celebrating Disneyland's 59th Anniversary", my friend and I took pictures around the area and chatted a bit with the other guests that we stood with. Noticing a red carpet behind us with a microphone standing on it, we started speculating what it was for. Someone next to us said it represents the spot where Walt Disney stood when he gave his dedication speech. A Cast Member overhearing us added that we should return here later at 2:30 p.m. to hear the speech played at that time.
Finally, the event started on time at 10 a.m. as the Mayor of Disneyland arrived at the podium to begin the festivities. He introduced the Dapper Dans and, for this performance, their piano accompanist to perform a number of signature Disneyland songs including "The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room" and "It's a Small World". Their five-song set got the crowd warmed up and in great spirits! Then, the mayor returned to briefly speak a bit about the success of Walt's theme park before welcoming 59 Disney characters and park Cast Members who entered town center and scattered themselves on and around Main Street Station for the next part of the celebration, leading the park guests in singing "Happy Birthday".
After that, the Mayor of Disneyland unveiled a new logo for Disneyland's 60th Diamond Anniversary with a flourish of white doves. And then the ceremony closed with the 59 Disney characters and Cast Members dancing to an upbeat version of "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" that's been performed at past park birthday celebrations. I gotta say, overall it was a fun fifteen minutes. And having front row privileges really made it that much better.
Afterwards, after chatting with some very jealous friends who were at the park too and found me after the ropes dropped at the end of the show, it was off to the Opera House where we would learn what this reception thing was all about. Our wristbands were again our exclusive pass to get in, and once inside we found the front exhibit area crowded with guests. There were also refreshments found for the taking: ice water, lemonade, and three flavors of cupcakes. Cast Members were everywhere to help with clearing trash off the tops of a few tall tables that were set up here and there and to replenish the drinks and cupcake trays when they were empty. Looking over the crowd, towards the back area where the entrance to Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln is, we saw lines going around the Capitol building model ending in photo ops with Elsa, Anna, Mickey and Minnie. I'm not usually one to make any effort to get my picture taken with a Disney character, but knowing how much of a grind it is these days to get pictures with the popular queen and princess from "Frozen" at the park these days, I felt I couldn't pass up this opportunity. I mean, now I can tell my friends I got my picture with Elsa and Anna and didn't have to wait three hours in line to get it! (If this blog were a text, this is where a smiley face with a huge grin would go.)
After my cupcake, lemonade and pictures with Disney royalty were taken, it was time to head out. Earlier while we were waiting in line for our photo ops, I received a text from my friends outside.
"We know what your gift is! Awesome wish we could have gotten one."
My friend had seen large boxes on a tray near the entrance when we walked in but didn't see what was inside. Now it was time to find out.
As we rounded the corner to exit, we were greeted by a very dramatic scene. There were indeed gentlemen carrying trays near the entrance/exit, and the opening past them that normally led to the Mad Hatter store was now curtained off with displays set up inside. We walked up to the gentlemen and one of them asked for our gift vouchers. Handing them to him, we each received a bagged cookie with the new Disneyland 60 Diamond Celebration logo printed on it. Then we continued into the new display area, which felt a little like a jeweler's shop, where another Cast Member handed each of us a blue box with the same new logo printed in silver on top. He opened it to show me what was inside and that's when my jaw hit the floor.
It was a large, beautiful crystal with the Disneyland 60 logo etched on top. I didn't realize until I got to my car later and my friend pulled it out of the box, that the crystal is in the shape of a diamond! We also received a Disneyland coupon book filled with actual FASTPASSes that we could use in both parks today only. The Cast Member explained that there was a colored ticket on top and a matching white duplicate ticket underneath each colored ticket. The duplicate is the one we could show at any attraction today to use as a FASTPASS. That way, if any were used, the colored tickets would still remain to give the coupon book its original appearance. Of course, you know what I was thinking when my brain managed to understand what he was saying as I was still working to pick my jaw up off the ground. That there was NO WAY I was gonna violate this sweet new Disney collectible by tearing any pages from it! Silly Disney Cast Member.
Dazed and thrilled, we left the Opera House feeling euphoric over the gifts we received and the great, great time we were enjoying today, all compliments of Disney Parks Blog.
There was only one hiccup to our otherwise exceptional day.
We decided to hang out until 2:30 p.m. so we could enjoy Walt's speech then as we were told by that Cast Member. We spent our time in between having lunch at the French Market, enjoying jazz music by the Royal Street Bachelors, and uploading our day's pictures to Instagram.
At around two, we started heading back to Main Street, U.S.A. Halfway down I realized we hadn't heard any announcements overhead stating the Walt Disney speech would be played soon. Then I remembered the traditional time his speech is replayed is 4:45 p.m. So why 2:30 p.m. today? Then I realized we had already heard the speech. It was played during this morning's birthday celebration.
I went to City Hall to ask about it again. It was now 2:20 p.m. But a Cast Member there also said it would happen at 2:30 p.m. So my friend and I waited.
There was a small gathering of guests including a few we recognized from standing with them this morning at the celebration. Mickey Mouse came out, but only to pose for pictures by the flag pole and sign autographs. Now why is Mickey signing autographs? Shouldn't he be part of the Walt Disney speech event?
After twenty minutes we finally gave up. It was the only downer, but only moderately so, to what was otherwise an incredibly - yep - magical day. But even if it somehow had turned out to be a lame, boring day, we were still cognizant of the fact that we were leaving the park with diamonds!
You can see the rest of the pictures I posted that day over on Instagram and also see those plus a few extras all embiggened in a new gallery I have on Flickr.
Looking forward to Disneyland's 60th!
On May 27, word was released of a great disturbance in the Force...
...in the world of Disney running events.
So. Disney announces a Star Wars Half Marathon. Crazy! And this, just three months after announcing another new running event at Disneyland for their Marvel Comics property, the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon.
Since 1994, Disney has hosted running events in Florida over at Walt Disney World. They now include the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend every January, the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend every February, the Expedition Everest Challenge every May, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend every October, and the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend every November.
It wasn't until 2005 that the west coast would finally host their own runDisney event when the "Happiest Race on Earth" would take place during the inaugural Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend in mid-September 2006 (before moving up a couple of weeks to Labor Day Weekend thereafter). Eight years later, the west coast is now also home to the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend (originally a January event, the next one is scheduled for May) and the aforementioned Avengers (November) and Star Wars (January) runs. Disneyland is quickly catching up to Walt Disney World!
I'm not a runner. Not a fan of it at all. And the idea of paying to go running, especially to run just over 13 fricken miles, sounded stupid!
But by then, I'd been visiting Disneyland using my annual pass for seven straight years and in that time, I'd become a bonafide Disney geek. So when the idea of earning a hunk of medal with "Disneyland" stamped on it came up, "stupid" quickly evolved into "sucker"! I registered for the first year and then, followed up doing the next four.
The first one was truly magical. The first eight miles was work, and I didn't enjoy it. But as I headed back towards the park from Angel Stadium and finally saw the back entrance of DCA on Harbor Boulevard, tears of joy welled up in my eyes. "Damn, I'm actually going to finish this!"
The four half marathons that followed became routine affairs. Like the first, I'd only be able to run during the first six to seven miles before my calves would cramp up. I'd have to walk the rest of the distance, but I always completed the runs within the required 16-minute mile pace.
After earning my fifth straight Disneyland Half Marathon medal - which I did by refusing to run at all and walking the entire distance and still within the required pace, I was DONE with running. I proclaimed to myself and my friends, "No more running for me!" Another motivating factor was that the fee to register increased every year. $90 for the first one was fine. Approaching $140 by the fifth one, and for me, this was no longer worth it after this.
When the Tinker Bell event was announced in 2011, I felt a little hook to do the run, since Tink is one of my favorite Disney characters. But the distaste for running half marathons was still fresh on my mind, so I quickly brushed off that desire. And as a comic book fan, I'm more a DC Comics guy than Marvel. So when the Avengers event was announced earlier this year in March, that was an easy one to ignore. By the time this Star Wars one popped up, I was like, "Meh."
But then a bunch of my friends registered during the early Annual Passholder sign up period. And I started to feel a little envious. I mean, I've designed Star Wars toys and even been to Skywalker Ranch more than a few times. Could I really let this Star Wars event, happening in my own backyard, pass by without being involved in it?
Flash forward to a week ago Monday. I was reading MousePlanet's weekly Disneyland Update which shared tips on getting signed up for the different Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend events - 200m dash, 5k, 10k, Half, and Rebel Challenge - to make registering for any one of them easier when registration opened the next morning. They also claimed it would sell out very quickly, which sounded totally legitimate. Reading over their strategies, I started "role-playing" in my mind, mulling over "What if I did...?" scenarios. I looked up the event page. And studied.
Before going to bed Monday night I talked myself into wanting a medal with "Star Wars" on it, dagnabbit! But I decided to cut myself a break and do the light and easy 5k. However, by Tuesday morning, I decided I'd rather have cold hard metal rather than the plastic medallion normally handed out for Disney 5k events. So by 8:59a, a minute before registration opened worldwide, I firmly decided it was the 10k for me!
At 9:00a, after some bizarre-ness reaching the proper page of race options (thousands of Jedi and Sith hitting the website at the same time might've had something to do with that), I finally got in...AND THERE WAS NO 10K OPTION LISTED.
Considering how I'd only worked out wanting to register for one of the running events in just the last twelve hours and decided on registering specifically for the 10k in only the last thirty minutes, I thought the omission was hilarious! For the next few minutes, I went back to the home page and clicked the proper link several times, only to continue getting options for all the other races but the 10k.
I went to runDisney's Facebook page and was relieved to find others couldn't see it either. Several minutes after 9, someone posted that runDisney was looking into the 10k dilemna.
With nothing else to do, back to the event website I went and continued to click the 10k option. Finally, by 9:18a the 10k race was finally added to the options. Ready, set, GO!
So, eventually...and eventfully, I'm in, and before all slots for the weekend sold out in the first two hours. Happy Ending. Cue Return of the Jedi celebratory music here. Not the new age-y stuff from the 1997 Special Edition, the "yub nub" chant from the original 1983 release.
I took pictures before, during and after each of my Disneyland Half Marathons. I posted the ones from three of the events on Flickr. The set from 2006 is posted here, the set from 2008 is here and for 2009 here. But of course, the 10k course won't need to take me as far as Angel Stadium. Instead it sounds like, after running through the parks, I'm heading north up Anaheim Boulevard for a short spell before making my way back to the parks to finish the run. Snapping a new set of shots during the 10k - which I plan to mostly walk the entire time - will be fun.
And for those of you who successfully registered for the weekend as well, may the Force be with us all...
Roland F. Crump is better known as Rolly Crump. He got the nickname “Rolly” from his former boss, Walt Disney. Rolly Crump, a former Imagineer, has a window dedicated to him on Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland and was named a Disney Legend.
I first learned of Rolly probably from his appearance on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color TV show, in an episode celebrating Disneyland's 10th anniversary. I own a copy of the episode on DVD, released about ten years ago. In the episode Walt asks Rolly to show off some pieces he created for the yet-to-be-opened Haunted Mansion attraction. Walt mentioned Rolly’s creations would all appear in a section of the Mansion called the Museum of the Weird. But Walt died a year later, and the Museum of the Weird never materialized.
Excerpt from 10th Anniversary episode of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color featuring Walt Disney, Disneyland ambassador Julie Reems, and Imagineers Marc Davis and Rolly Crump
Last week, Marvel Comics debuted a new comic book titled “Seekers of the Weird”. The idea for the series was recommended by current Imagineers who felt Rolly's creations, which by now had become legendary among Disney geeks by the very fact that they were introduced by Walt himself but never seen after that, would provide great material for the series. I soon learned that those Imagineers would be doing a signing of the first issue at a local comic shop not far from Disneyland. In addition, Rolly Crump would join them for the signing too.
I say all that to set up the enthusiasm I felt after reading that enjoyable first issue, followed by meeting Rolly himself at the signing. I searched the Internet to learn more about him and his Museum of the Weird and quickly discovered Rolly's 2012 autobiography "as told to" Jeff Heimbuch. After placing my Amazon order, I was surprised to learn it included a free Kindle version. As soon as I downloaded it, I started reading it.
I cannot remember the last time I read a book that felt like one long, friendly conversation, told in an easy-going style, and being enchanted by great stories and fascinating anecdotes both about the world of Disney from the 50’s to the 90’s and the remarkable life of this lucky guy. Nor can I remember finishing such a book as quickly. I finished this book in three days. For a guy who easily gets distracted for hours at a time on his iPhone or surfin’ the web, finishing a book in three days is one amazing feat!
I'm a designer by profession, so his stories as a young artist were ones I easily related too. He was hired as an animator for Walt Disney Animation in the early 1950s. Even though he had no training in animation, he took a $45 pay cut from his $75-a-week ceramic factory job to pursue the arts field. He worked as an in-between on films like “Peter Pan” and “Lady and the Tramp” before being transferred to WED Enterprises (later named Walt Disney Imagineering) to work on projects including the Enchanted Tiki Room, it’s a small world, and the Haunted Mansion. He eventually became Supervising Art Director at Disneyland and also ran his own independent business, working on projects for the Knott's Berry Farm family, Wet 'n' Wild, Steve Wynn, Jacques Cousteau and scores of other clients. He shares his memories about each of these projects, seasoned with details about these and many other people he encountered, the rich, the famous and the not-so-famous.
And they are all cute stories. Especially his stories about working with Walt, because, you know, this guy Rolly actually worked with him. The proof is on film!
If you're a Disney fan, interested in the creative mind, or just want a good, fun book to read, I highly recommend this book.
P.S. – So what do I do when my Amazon shipment finally arrives? Well, the book includes photos, so it’ll be great to see them all again in the printed copy of the book.
UPDATE (1/28/14): My book arrived yesterday. I'm glad I got to read the free Kindle version immediately after ordering the book, but after skimming through the pages of the book, I'm also really glad I own the print edition.
The Kindle version includes all the photos from the book, but the book, which measures 8 1/2" x 11", showcases them better, laid out next to the stories that concern them. I especially appreciated the full page photos and smaller photos grouped together in a page spread to compare them easily to each other. I couldn't do that in the static layout of the digital version which had images on their own separate pages. Ironically, I was able to see the details in the printed photos better than on my tablet (I don't own an iPad for those of you curious, discerning types; still getting by on my HP TouchPad). The pages are also designed with graphics familiar in the author's work that also effectively echo the whimsy of Crump's personality. But that design palette includes a pale yellow cast printed on all of the pages. At first I thought the dull look made me think it was printed on newsprint. I think I'm glad I read this on the high contrast screen of my tablet.
The book cover feels a little odd too. It feels to have a latex finish to it. It feels rubbery, something I've never encountered on other books. That caught me off guard and I wondered at first if I ought to wipe it down so it didn't feel weird.
I would love to get this autographed someday. Makes better sense than having my tablet autographed.
I turned 50 today. And I decided to embrace it boldly and proudly. Taking the same route as my Christmas card art, I created this banner using selected moments, memories and achievements from my life to spell out my message graphically.
This was a last minute project I thunk up for myself too. The notion to do this only hit me yesterday morning. I brainstormed words and letters for about fifteen minutes, then went about my day as thoughts and notions ruminated in my brain. I got to work with the actual graphic designing at 8:30p last night. As I'd hoped, I finished it just before midnight, as yesterday transitioned into my birthday.
This morning, I spent a few hours to compose and write this blog. Figured you'd wanna know where each letter comes from. So here you go. Enjoy the read!
F is from Super Friends
One of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons growing up.
I is from The Tick
The first kid's meal toy program I worked on from start to finish was for a comic book super hero that I'd never even heard of before. The Balancing Tick (at left) and Charles the Brainchild toy (concept sketch below and photo of the produced piece here) were the first toys I ever designed. Check out my portfolio page to find my original concept sketches of The Tick toy.
F is from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
This is but one of many geek shows I loved watching. Others were The X-Files, Xena: Warrior Princess, Firefly & Serenity and most anything with "Star Trek" in the title.
T is from Batman
I loved this show as a kid! Batman is my favorite comic book hero to this day.
Y is from Barry Manilow
Yes, I am a Fanilow. And darn proud of it.
Back in the day, there was this thing called the Columbia Record Club where you could get like 6 records for a penny. This two-LP set was one of the ones I ordered.
Y is from Disneyland
That's no surprise, right?
I have hundreds of photos I've taken at various Disney events and parks posted on Flickr, including the one below from my experience joining hundreds of thousands of Disney fans at three in the morning to celebrate Disneyland 50th birthday. Click it to check out the entire gallery.
E is from Huey Lewis and The News
My favorite rock band, the voice of my college-age self.
A is formed by the Starfleet Uniform pin from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Like I mentioned before, I've been a Star Trek fan since the original series. The art I used for the "a" is a graphic I rendered myself, first for a tee-shirt design and then an infographic I created this past year that's posted over at this site.
R is from Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition
I designed Star Wars kid's meal toys. And for that, I was forced to take many business trips to a place called Skywalker Ranch. Ho hum..
Below is a Taco Bell promotional header card showing the toys in the promotion, shamelessly pointing out the ones I concepted in the series. You can see some of my concept art on my portfolio page.
S is from San Diego State University
That's where I went took the five-year plan to earn my degree. This was the logo they were using oh those many moons ago.
O is from San Diego Comic-Con International
The first time I went to Comic-Con, Bob Kane, the co-creator of Batman, was there to help ease fans' fears about Michael Keaton being cast as Batman. Comic-Con then was nothing like the monster it is now.
Visit Flickr to see my pix from my visits to Comic-Con and WonderCon over the past few years.
L is from the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games
At the first company that hired me after graduating college, I got to build and manage a staff to design and develop lapel pins and collector's pin sets for the Olympic Games sponsors and retailers when Atlanta hosted the games. All that experience working personally with the licensing office in Atlanta, as well as with licensing offices on other sports licenses, groomed me well for my eventual work designing products for licensed entertainment properties like The Tick and Star Wars.
D is from DC Comics
This is the 1970's version of the logo that I saw on the covers of the comic books I read and collected back in the day. I still read comic books today which, since I have freelance work for clients including Sideshow Collectibles, doubles professionally as "research"!
Below is the first of many other projects I've worked on at Sideshow this past year, including some DC Comics characters, that should all finally see the light of day beginning in 2014.
All About Me
A fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Batman, comic books, Blu-rays, Disney, soundtracks, taking pictures, theatre and...Barry Manilow!