D23 Destination D: Attraction Rewind, Day 2


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On November 22-23, D23 held its big annual event at the Contemporary Resort in Walt Disney World, “Destination D: Attraction Rewind.”

Day 1 emphasized the contributions Walt Disney made to the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, which I outlined here: /blogs/lauragilbreath/2014/12/d23_destination_d_attraction_r.html Day 2 was focused on attractions, and references to attractions, which have either been removed from the parks, or never made it to fruition.

(No photography or recording was permitted during the presentations. All photos thereof are courtesy of D23.)

The morning started off with a bonus showing of the 1982 3-D film shown at both the Imagination Pavilion in EPCOT and the Magic Eye Theater in Disneyland, “Magic Journeys.” From the crowd reaction, it was evident that this long-departed visualization of a child’s imagination still has its devoted adherents.

Our second surprise of the day was a virtual ride-through of the never-realized “Enchanted Snow Palace” attraction. The short film took us on a tour of the incredibly charming Marc Davis concept art, set to a score that Buddy Baker had created for it, produced by Jeff Crawford.

Marc Davis' Enchanted Snow Palace

The first presentation of the day was “Disneyland: Fond Memories of the Past,” featuring the ever-charming Historian Stacia Martin and Walt Disney Archives Director Becky Cline sharing their recollections of Disneyland attractions that are no more.

Walt Disney Archives Director Becky Cline

Disney Historian and Artist Stacia Martin

Among the many fondly remembered landmarks was the Skull Rock waterfall formation that overlooked the Pirate Ship Restaurant in Disneyland’s original Fantasyland. They were sadly lost in the tradeoff for a less-crowded layout in the 1983 New Fantasyland construction.

Skull Rock at Disneyland

Tomorrowland has seen its share of changes as well, with one of the more notable losses being “Adventure Thru Inner Space.”

Adventures Through Inner Space

Opened in 1967 as part of “New Tomorrowland,” it continued to shrink guests through its Mighty Microscope until its closure in 1986 to make way for “Star Tours.”

Interview with Stacia Martin and Becky Cline:

After a short break, programming resumed with Imagineer Jason Grandt moderating a panel of Disney Legends Tony Baxter and Charlie Ridgeway on memories of past Walt Disney World this time, in “Widen Your World.”

Imagineer Jason Grandt, Disney Legend Tony Baxter, Disney Legend Charlie Ridgeway

The three reminisced about some of their favorite retired WDW attractions including the Mickey Mouse Revue–once situated where “Mickey’s Philharmagic” is today.

Mickey Mouse Revue

This animatronic-heavy show was the only attraction that was actually relocated to Tokyo Disneyland rather than recreated. It was replaced in 2009 there for “Mickey’s Philharmagic,” as well.

Another perennial favorite was the Eastern Airline-sponsored “If You Had Wings.”

If You Had Wings

Fondly remembered as a free ride, in an era where most attractions cost a ticket for entry, the whirlwind tour of Eastern Airlines destinations closed in 1987, at the current site of “Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.”

Interview with Disney Legend Charlie Ridgeway:

Next up, Jason Grandt returned to the stage with fellow Imagineer Wyatt Winter to talk about “Retro Rewind References”–the little easter eggs they’ve included in present-day attractions, that call back to their extinct brethren.

Imagineer Jason Grandt

In the Town Square Theater, Mickey is shown to have mail on which all the stamps reference past attractions, while the recently-redone queue of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad features references to “The Apple Dumpling Gang,” “Those Calloways,” and Discovery Bay’s Jason Chandler.

Imagineer Wyatt Winter

Interview with Imagineers Jason Grandt and Wyatt Winter:

After the lunch break, Tony Baxter returned to deliver what was the highlight of the weekend for many, “The Discovery Bay Chronicles.”

Disney Legend Tony Baxter

This was an in-depth look at a land (and then a separate theme park) concept conceived by Baxter and developed with Disney Legend Harper Goff. Set on the California coast in the 1800’s, Discovery Bay would have been loosely tied in with the soon-to-be-released Disney movie “The Island at the Top of the World.” With a heavy steampunk aesthetic, and visually anchored by the dirigible “Hyperion,” from the movie, the land would have encompassed an E-Ticket flight on the Hyperion, dining experiences on the Nautilus, a fireworks themed shooting gallery, and much much more.

Artist Rendering Discovery Bay

A trailer was even produced and shown to the D23 audience for a companion TV series “The Discovery Bay Chronicles,” starring Peter Renaday as Discovery Bay founder Jason Chandler. This series would have served to give backstory on the new land, while building audience anticipation for it, as Walt did on TV for the opening of Disneyland.

The concept was so compelling, Baxter was told to work it up as a separate gate altogether for Disneyland. Unfortunately, as work went forward on it, “Island at the Top of the World” opened and sadly underperformed at the box office, causing Disney management to lose all confidence in the idea.

Aspects of the land still exist here and there, however–the dirigible and Nautilus both make an appearance at Discoveryland in Disneyland Paris; The Firework Factory became a restaurant in Pleasure Island; Tokyo DisneySea has Mysterious Island, which has a marked steampunk motif; and a gallery of illusions, “Professor Marvel’s Gallery,” evolved into Journey into Imagination.

Professor Marvel's Gallery

Interview with Tony Baxter:

After this extensive glimpse at an amazing land concept, we then got to see Imagineers Dave Minichiello and Pam Rawlins tackle the unenviable task of following Baxter with “An Evolution of Make Believe Made Real,” going over the development of the new Magic Kingdom attraction, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

Imagineers Dave Minichiello and Pam Rawlings

They made a point of showing the great effort that went into making many of the details in the ride match the original 1937 film. It was obviously a labor of love and it was not at all their fault that they were by then facing a roomful of people resentful about not being able to ride a dirigible.

The final presentation of the weekend came from the very funny Disney Legend Ron Logan, who was responsible for creating, casting, and producing all live entertainment products for The Walt Disney Company during his tenure.

Disney Legend Ron Logan

In “That Was Entertainment!” he went through some of the trials and tribulations involved in a handful of past spectacles he developed, including “Skyleidoscope,” “The EPCOT Dare Devil Circus Spectacular,” “Light Magic,” and “Spectromagic.”

Epcot Entertainment

Interview with Disney Legend Ron Logan

In between presentations, our host for the weekend, D23″²s Marketing Director Kristan Rodack, introduced mini-segments which usually introduced additional experiences open to Destination D guests. In “Computer Central Reboot,” iPads were set up in another room with the original World Key games and videos to simulate going to Communicore at EPCOT back in the day. In a look forward, Rodack and Carl Allen from Disney Parks introduced a new “Show Your Disney Side” app that can transform your photos into your favorite Disney characters.

Kristin Rodack and Carl Allen Show Your Disney Side

A small exhibit of related items from the Archives was on display as well, in “Treasure of the Walt Disney Archives.”

Disney Archives Exhibit

Disney Archives Exhibit

On one of the days, a working Mold-A-Rama machine was set up and guests could watch it running while it churned out plastic figurines.

Mold-A-Rama machine

On the whole, and having been to all the Destination D’s D23 has produced so far, I would say that I thought this one had the best programming to date (I am biased however, because the 1964-65 NYWF has always been my top destination for when we develop time travel.) The speakers were great and the concept art ride-through videos they’ve begun to develop for a lot of these unrealized/retired attractions are a wonderful way to experience something that does not physically exist.

Destination D: Attraction Rewind showcased some of the best the Disney Parks has historically offered. Looking back at all the amazing experiences they’ve developed, from Magic Skyway, to If You Had Wings, to Discovery Bay, to Skyleidoscope, there is an ambition and an optimism and a joyfulness that pervades all of them. Given how often we find those qualities missing in present day times, inside and outside the parks, it’s a wonderful gift to be able to revisit and appreciate them all over again.


Here’s how you can win a special Destination D Magic Band! Simply leave a comment below about Destination D Attraction Rewind OR leave a comment on one of the videos posted in this blog between now and midnight December 22, 2014. We will pick a comment at random for the Magic Band!


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Jeanine resides in Southern California, pursuing the sort of lifestyle that makes her the envy of every 11-year-old she meets. She has been to every Disney theme park in the world and while she finds Tokyo DisneySea the Fairest Of Them All, Disneyland is her Home Park... and there is no place like home.

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7 Replies to “D23 Destination D: Attraction Rewind, Day 2”

  1. I haven’t attended any D23 events but this one would have been a good one to have attended! Thanks for your report!

  2. Thanks for the recap! I had no idea about the Discovery Bay possible park. The connection to the Island at the Top of the World movie always seemed a bit puzzling to me; I wondered why they picked such an obscure reference for the theme park. Now I understand a bit more. Thanks for the great report!

  3. Boy that took me back. To a much younger me lol I Loved “If you had wings” I still can sing the tune. ” If you had wings had wings had wings…..My grandmother always flew Eastern and when we would pick her up at the airport seeing those planes reminded me of that ride. And Mickey Mouse Revue was cool too. Sometime you almost forget about those rides from the past. So it is awesome when someone revisits them and your like “Oh yeah I remember that” Wish there was a Movie at the MK that played a tribute to them all. little clips from the rides etc. Would Love that.

  4. What a great lineup for Destination D Attraction Rewind! My husband and I were lucky enough to meet Stacia Martin on a Disney cruise. She is charming, as well as very talented . Thanks for the recap.