Friday, November 17, 2023

Sun Bank on Main Street USA, WDW

Orlando-based Sun Bank (also Sun Banks and later SunTrust) operated a branch on Main Street USA at Walt Disney World from June 24, 1977 to c. June 23, 1997.

Prior to Sun Bank occupying the building, which was there from October 1, 1971 forward, I believe the space was used for booking guided tours of the park. That operation was based in the adjoining garden space by the time I paid any attention to this corner of Main Street as a kid. After Sun Bank left the building 20 years later, it became The Main Street Gallery which opened September 6, 1997, selling Disney-themed art and collectibles. Years later it was converted to The "Main Street Chamber of Commerce" and began handling the park's Lost & Found services, which were previously based in City Hall.

My parents used the original downtown Orlando Sun Bank as far back as I could remember. I opened my first bank account at Sun Bank's Windermere branch in 1985 when I was sixteen and got a job (with paychecks to cash) at Orlando's Mystery Fun House. By the end of that year I was working at WDW and was cashing my weekly checks at the Main Street USA Sun Bank branch using the backstage cast member walk-up window.

I took out a $3,000+ loan from Sun Bank in 1988 to buy my first PC, mostly to start writing books (which I never finished) and to create document files using the Disney information I'd been collecting since fifth grade. A lot of that information helped me get WYW the fanzine & website going a few years later. And because I was an annual passholder, I kept using the Main Street USA Sun Bank to cash post-WDW job paychecks up until about 1994, when I finally started doing direct deposit. The line to see a teller was never very long and walking up to the old-fashioned counter with its big antique safe behind the desk reminded me of The Apple Dumpling Gang.   

According to WYW reader Monica Roddey, Sun Bank "was always our first stop at the Magic Kingdom as my mom would hop in there to cash some traveler's checques!"

***

Sun Bank exterior February 20, 1995
image source: Widen Your World

Main Street WDW Elevation Art c. 1971 by Ernie Prinzhorn, with the
building that would become Sun Bank to the far left
image source: WDW

Sun Bank lobby interior, southeast corner, January 6 1994
image source: Widen Your World 

Sun Bank lobby interior, south wall center, January 6 1994
image source: Widen Your World

Sun Bank lobby interior, southwest corner, January 6 1994
image source: Widen Your World

Sun Bank lobby interior, northwest corner, January 6 1994
image source: Widen Your World

Sun Bank deposit envelope logo & lettering, 1992
image source: Sun Bank



***

WYW's basic WDW Sun Bank credits: Tom Morris, Monica Roddey, Sun Bank, WDW Eyes & Ears, The Walt Disney Company

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Strawberry Switchblade Photos & Covers

Strawberry Switchblade was a pop group from Glasgow that was once a four-piece but by the time they had a couple hits in 1985, there were down to the duo of Rose McDowall and Jill Bryson (Janice Goodlett & Carole McGowan left behind). They broke up in 1986. I first came across their music at Murmur Records in Orlando in 1985 and haven't heard any other band with a sound like theirs.

Rose & Jill, 1985

First iteration of the band c. 1981: Jill Bryson, Carole McGowan,
Rose McDowall & Janice Goodlett

Jill & Rose c. 1984

Jill & Rose c. 1985


Image Credits: Smash Hits magazine, Star Hits magazine, Sheila Rock and Strawberry Switchblade official print media 

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Space Port, Tomorrowland Mountain & Space Mountain 1965-1975

Many of the original Space Mountain's details have changed over the decades but no matter what version one considers, it's always been an enigmatic, exciting time. 40-plus years after my first ride in the 1970s, I still get a sense of youthful anticipation sitting in one of its vehicles  waiting to launch. It's just SO GOOD. It was the first ride I remember seeing under construction as a kid and also the last WDW attraction I was trained to work as an Operations cast member, which was in 1989.

Writing about Space Mountain's history for this site was easy in 1996 since no one on the internet had done that yet. RCA's Home of Future Living, the dog Nipper in a UFO at the entrance, "Here's To The Future" as a lyric or (and most importantly) Space Mountain being the only attraction where Blondie made an appearance... before 2023... I quickly covered all that stuff just so there'd be mentions of it online and also posted some rare images. What I DIDN'T do was introduce any important new information about the ride's genesis to the public record, since its basic origins were already covered in Walt Disney Productions annual reports or press releases and most interviews about the greater details of how the ride came to be hadn't even been conducted yet. What I knew about Space Mountain in the 1990s included, but wasn't rooted in, how the attraction evolved as a concept for Disneyland. What I've learned about that since then isn't entirely different than what everyone else has learned if they were reading The E Ticket, Jason Surrell or blogs like Progress City. But that's good stuff! And where that tapers off, I have material to add about the ride transitioning to WDW.

As with several other things that Walt Disney had his eye on during the last few years of his life, a space-themed thrill ride came to Florida first before tracking back to Anaheim in a new version. The original plan was for a rocket ride in the style of a Matterhorn sequel of sorts... four tracks veering in and out of a massive white cone/peak with guests visible in their vehicles to those standing in front of the attraction. It was part of a project called Space Port, envisioned for a late-1960s update to Disneyland's Tomorrowland. When Walt Disney first suggested the ride in 1964, Tomorrowland had been aging for nine years and he wanted to see it updated in a big way. WED Enterprises' John Hench came up with Space Port as a centerpiece for the new look of the land and honed the ride concept for years both before and after Walt's death in 1966. At that time there was no link between the ride and RCA.

In the company's 1965 Annual Report, the large structure dominating the concept art was referred to (and only once ever to my knowledge) "Tomorrowland Mountain." Within WED, the attraction was officially named Space Mountain sometime around 1967 and referred to by the name in print for the first time in 1969, along with the first published concept art, in A Complete Edition About Walt Disney World. By this point the ride was designated as being part of the Florida project, in the Tomorrowland section of Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, and plans for the ride at Disneyland were on hold.

Originally, plans for WDW's Magic Kingdom suggested that Tomorrowland would open in a "completed" state along with the rest of the park on October 1st, 1971. As construction progressed, it became clear that the land would be minimal on opening day compared to its stature in 1969/1970 blueprints. What was now called Space Mountain in pre-opening publications was still being conceptually developed all the way up to and through the Magic Kingdom's opening. With that structure being the intended visual anchor of the area surrounding it, Tomorrowland would be light on attractions for several years after 1971 and the last part of the park to come together at the end of what the company referred to WDW Phase One.

Space Mountain's profile evolved from the more elaborate indoor/outdoor four-track behemoth envisioned on paper and in a 1969 scale model, made in conjunction between Arrow Development and (primarily) WED sculptor Mitsuo Natsume, to an increasingly sleek cone with no outside track elements, between 1968 and 1972. Arrow Development (1945-1984) was heavily involved in the design of many early Disneyland rides including the Matterhorn. For the WDW Space Mountain model, they provided the track portion with WED enclosing it within slopes of their own making. There was a challenge with Space Mountain's original four-track design related to the computer control system that would be needed to operate the ride, since the technology in 1966 was not advanced enough to complete the project. When it finally became possible to move forward a couple years later, the ride was pared back to the two tracks that guests are still riding today. Looking at models of the final track layouts, it's hard to imagine four tracks within the current cone or to envision how much larger the building would need to be if four tracks were to coexist.

RCA's earliest involvement with Walt Disney World was either their possible sponsorship of an Alice In Computerland show (its date and concept details mostly unknown to me as of November 2021) that became the precursor of EPCOT Center's Astuter Computer Revue (1982) or their 1968 effort to sell Disney on their proposed "WEDCOMM" communication system that would serve the resort as an integrated means of collecting data, managing reservations and monitoring park and hotel activities. "A system of Systems, a network of Networks," RCA called it in their 71-page 1969 Project 90 booklet. Reading the full description, it sounds like a hybrid of a card catalog, 2001: A Space Odyssey's HAL and the yet-to-come internet. The system didn't come to fruition and RCA dismantled its computer division in 1971, at which time WED Enterprises saw an opportunity for getting RCA directly involved with an increasingly fast-developing new Tomorrowland thrill ride.

* prophetically, 1969's Project 90 included both textual and visual references to Space Mountain years before RCA was to sign on as the attraction's sponsor in 1972. What is NOT referenced in the document is that rarely-discussed Alice In Computerland show concept.

The combination of WED and RCA on the project resulted in an attraction design that went beyond the nature of anything that had come before in its scale, concept and variety of content. The ride itself would be the first completely indoor roller coaster in history (capitalizing on that by putting half the ride in near-total darkness) and the third in Disney's history, behind Disneyland’s Matterhorn and WDW’s Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, to have two distinctly separate tracks. The additional features revolving around RCA's space cameras/equipment and consumer products were also extensive enough for Disney to promote the Space Mountain pre-show and post-show as, combined, an attraction unto itself, warranting a visit by anyone even if they wouldn't be riding the coaster. Never before in theme parks had the non-ride portion of a ride been recommended as something to do based on its own entertainment value. And it was genuinely worth that investment of time.

Additional Sources: Walt Disney Productions annual reports, The E Ticket magazine, The Disney Mountains by Jason Surrell and mitsuonatsume.com


1964 First rendering of Space Port concept by John Hench

Vic Greene, Walt Disney & John Hench with an early model of
Space Port c. 1965

1965 Walt Disney Productions Annual Report 

1965 Space Port rendering for Disneyland by John Hench, Herb Ryman


c. 1965 Disneyland Tomorrowland concept by John Hench,
with Space Port in the background


Three c. 1965 John Hench Space Port / Space Mountain concepts

From 1969's A Complete Edition About WDW, an early rendering of how Space
Mountain might appear in Florida - this was a Space Mountain / Matterhorn
hybrid approach with four separate tracks running through the attraction


From the cover of 1969's A Complete Edition About WDW, a view of the
WDW's Tomorrowland in concept form - Space Mountain in more of a
"circus tent" shape than the cone that materialized four years later




WYW's Basic Space Mountain Credits: The E Ticket Magazine, mitsuonatsume.com, Mike Hiscano, Dave Hooper, Alison Matthews, Tom Morris, The Walt Disney Company & stuff I learned working at the ride

Friday, August 11, 2023

EPCOT Center Orlando-Land Articles & Similar Materials 1980-1983

Context: Various scans of things I collected as a kid with related material


Orlando-Land May 1983 A

Orlando-Land May 1983 B

Orlando-Land May 1983 C



Orlando Magazine November 1983 Scan A

Orlando Magazine November 1983 Scan B

Orlando Magazine November 1983 Scan D

Orlando Magazine November 1983 Scan E

Orlando Magazine November 1983 Scan F

Orlando Magazine November 1983 Scan G

Orlando Magazine November 1983 Scan H

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (20K) Audio & Video Links


Audio Links

Submarine Organ Track (source)
https://youtu.be/oIYAyS_UrZg

Submarine Organ Track (live)
https://youtu.be/qMDeAxcNdrA

Submarine Live Ride-through 1975
https://youtu.be/uG_eT_74Yw8

Submarine Live Ride-through 1989
https://youtu.be/Go3BEMt4hE0

Video Links

Ride-through 1994
https://youtu.be/FcpHNj8woDI

Ride-through 1990
https://youtu.be/3aoPd4dHWrA

Rehab Compilation Footage 1990
https://youtu.be/Qpbq70QOJfs

Nighttime Spur Line Operation
https://youtu.be/3IFz7IMQ9lk

Lagoon Viewpoint
https://youtu.be/JDeKCpROStM

Front Dock Viewpoint 1993
https://youtu.be/BZ8CgvfQSIU

Front Dock Viewpoint 1994
https://youtu.be/-XRUZItq9tg



Thursday, June 1, 2023

Jellystone Park Campground, Orlando (1969-1996)

Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Campground, on Turkey Lake Road in southwest Orlando, opened in late 1969 and became Central Florida's first family-oriented attraction built around a famous character. It was the also the second Jellystone Park to exist anywhere, right after the original in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin opened that July. Its creator, Doug Haag, was reported to have considered different themes for his concept of a family campground chain and decided to pursue licensing for Yogi Bear through Hanna-Barbera upon seeing his kids watch Yogi on TV and hearing the name "Jellystone Park." He thought it would be a great fit for his aims.

The Orlando campground was along Interstate 4 between Orlando and Lake Buena Vista, accessed easiest by using the Sand Lake Road exit and driving down a then-very rural Turkey Lake* Road with cattle pastures, orange groves and an older (residential) trailer park being the other features. Big Sand Lake sat behind all of these things to the west. In the middle of the campground was Mirror Lake, which was renamed Boo Boo's Lake when the campground opened.

* Turkey Lake itself did not sit anywhere along Turkey Lake Road. Instead, it was located about a mile north of where Turkey Lake Road dead-ended at Conroy-Windermere Road.

"Yogi Bear Park," as my grandmother called it, was the first place I can remember that captured my heart and mind as a child. It was free to visit, and while it contained no rides or shows it featured enough Yogi-centric elements to make it feel special. And just as with Mr. Toad and Walt Disney World, it was this place that really introduced me to Yogi instead of cartoons on TV or theatrically released films. Seeing Yogi clinging to that tree at the base of the entrance sign with Ranger Smith shouting up at him, visiting the Ranger Station shop, playing Yogi Bear mini-golf and climbing into the 12' tall Yogi's picnic basket (or being held up to touch his necktie) were things that captivated me. I went to WDW at very young ages also, but my first memories of the Magic Kingdom were of being overwhelmed by just how much was going on and how big it was. Jellystone Park Campground was many things - overwhelming wasn't one of them.

Somewhere in the back of my head, as I grew to know more about Yogi Bear from his cartoons, View-Master reels and other toys, I kind of processed a disconnect between the  heavily-forested topography of the animated Jellystone Park and this sunny, scrubby, palm tree-dotted Florida campground. The real-life version was cute, but didn't quite round the corner into ownership of its theme. But people did have mobile home ownership there. Retirees and whole families lived there year-round. The campground was even on my school bus route from Lake Bryan to Tangelo Park in the mid-1970s and I thought the kids who got on and off the bus at Jellystone Park were the luckiest kids on the planet. I'm currently not sure that they weren't

Even though it didn't really look like a mountainous national forest, Orlando's Jellystone Park had some street names that evoked its source material. Those names included Avalanche Avenue, Boo Boo's Bluff, Bottomless Pit Place, Cindy Street, Geyser Gap and Yogi Pass. There was some alpine trim work on some of the buildings and just a few fake rocks found scattered around the property.

Over time, this particular Jellystone Park came to be in a state of disrepair. As a franchise owned by the family of its last manager Chris Peterson, much of the campground needed more themed component / landscape maintenance than it was given. This lent it the appearance of being a mobile home park built on the remnants of something more charming and fun. What the owners' obligation was to the parent company, I have no idea. It was sad, though, to visit it as an adult and see things I remembered fondly from childhood faded, falling apart, missing or covered in weeds.

The Petersons sold the campground to a developer in 1996 and everyone living on the property was given a couple months to relocate. After the campground was vacated, the new owner filled in part of Boo Boo's Lake and built The Jefferson apartments near Big Sand Lake, with the rest of the campground cleared and left mostly open.

Jellystone Park campgrounds (including the one built along Interstate 192 in Kissimmee in the early 1970s) no longer operate in Florida, but are thriving in other parts of the United States. The franchise was still expanding as of 2022. The last one I visited was in Cave City, Kentucky around 2018. It was well-maintained and pretty busy. I wanted to stay there but was outvoted on that point.

Some of the pictures below were from the collection of Disney animator Mark Kausler, posted on the blog of Doug Yowp. I don't like to use a lot of content from single, unofficial sources other than my own, but these photos were too good not to share with anyone who loves the topic. 


One of my later visits to the Orlando Jellystone Park
Campground in 1992. I could still fit in Yogi's basket!
Image source: Widen Your World, photo likely taken
by Dave Ensign

The entrance to the campground in 1995, one year before it closed.
Image source: Widen Your World

1974 postcard

Entrance characters Yogi Bear & Ranger Smith, 1989
Image source: Mark Kausler via Doug Yowp

1973 bumper sticker      Image source: Ebay

Cindy Bear on the mini-golf course, 1989
Image source: Mark Kausler via Doug Yowp

Campground postcard shot c. 1980. Some of these kids definitely
lived at the campground. Extra points for the Black Hole shirt.

Yogi Bear on the mini-golf course, 1989
Image souce: Mark Kousler via Doug Yowp

Yogi, Boo Boo and the Ranger on the Ranger Station's Roof, 1989
Image source: Mark Kousler via Doug Yowp 

1970 brochure showing the campground as it appeared in its
brand-new state, including a fully-functioning Old Faceful geyser!





Tuesday, May 23, 2023

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (20K) Documents

This is where my current and future scans of 20K official documents (except maybe blueprints) will go. Some are pages from the SOP and other training materials that I brought home when I worked at the ride between 1988 and 1989. Some were on the internet already. Some I no longer remember exactly where they came from! 


SOP "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Story" from my
training at the ride in 1988

SOP Block Light location diagram, from my
training at the ride in 1988


SOP Fire Equipment location diagram, from my
training at the ride in 1988

Animation Checklist Port Side Sheet 1 from when I
worked at the ride (1988-1989). There were never
any dolphin wheels, but that would've been cool

Animation Checklist Port Side Sheet 2 from when I
worked at the ride (1988-1989). As with the dolphin
wheels on Sheet 1, the fish wheels weren't part of
the attraction

Queue diagram from when I worked at the ride (1988-1989),
showing the basic layout of the entrance, switchbacks and 
dock loading areas


20K Seating Chart "cheat sheet" used to maximize the
loading of rows in each sub... 20 seats per row