Showing posts with label Pop Century. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pop Century. Show all posts

The Awesome '80s and '90s!

The giant "80" pictured here does not refer to the trio of octogenarians who left their scooters parked outside the food court. No, it means it's time for us to take a trip back to the "totally awesome" 1980s at Disney's Pop Century Resort!

Bridging the gap between the '70s and '80s are the Potato Heads, Mr. and Mrs. Mr. Potato Head toys actually date back to the late-1940s, but it wasn't until 1975 that Hasbro introduced the familiar large, plastic potato shape which we all remember today.

The graphic traditions established throughout the rest of Pop Century continue in the '80s cluster with figures engaged in Break Dancing and Moonwalking and words and phrases like "Yuppie," "Preppy," "Radical" and "Fer Shure." The balconies here are turned into a giant game of Pac-Man, complete with the ghosts (Blinky, Pinky, Inky & Clyde), Pac-dots and power pellets, while the stairwells are shrouded in giant Rubik's Cubes.

While I certainly remember the '80s, I could never figure out the Rubik's Cube, and (sadly) Pac-Man was the last video game I was really able to play well. There are lots of other pop culture icons in the '80s, though, that definitely resonate, like Roger Rabbit. Who Framed Roger Rabbit, a co-production between Disney and Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, was released in 1988 and became a monster-size hit. I remember seeing the movie at least three times in the theater (movies took much longer to come to video back then), and for a time, Roger had a widespread presence at the Walt Disney World Resort. He appeared in shows and parades and was the biggest star of the new Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park.

Another icon of the '80s on display is the Sony Walkman, the first portable music player, introduced in Japan in 1979 before being brought to the states a year later. The Walkman had a built-in radio and cassette tape player, along with stereo headphones, and became a huge part of the exercise craze during the decade. Today, those old Walkman devices just look plain huge, compared to the digital music players we have now.

At Pop Century, the '80s and '90s buildings are actually part of one cluster, with the 1990s occupying just one building. When the resort opened in 2003, it was perhaps harder to feel nostalgic about such a recent decade, so relatively little space was devoted to it. From our more-distant perspective in 2011, though, it's easier to find the charm in The Macarena and The Running Man or expressions like "Phat," "Keepin' It Real" and "Whazzup?!" The balconies are adorned with Rollerblades (still in use today) and compact discs (quickly vanishing in the digital age).

The pool at the center of the '80s/'90s cluster is known as the Computer Pool. It has a soft, keyboard-inspired deck and a waterway in the shape of an '80s-era computer screen. Nearby, an engineering building is disguised as a stack of floppy disks (modeled on the 3 1/2 inch diskettes common in the late-'80s and early-'90s), and the laundry room is made to look like the computer's external disk drive, complete with vents on the side and screws holding on the front panel.

Computers get more modern in the form of a giant laptop (with a pair of "hidden" Mickey keys), serving as the primary icon of the 1990s, a time when personal computing, e-mail and the Internet became integral parts of our lives. The images on the screen include everything from Mickey wallpaper and '90s-era All-Four-Parks desktop icons to the old and a story on ABC News about the opening of Disney's Animal Kingdom in 1998. Look closely, you'll even see a banner ad for Disney Channel, inviting you to "Subscribe Today!" Remember when Disney Channel was actually a pay channel, like HBO or Showtime?

The stairwells here in the '90s are enclosed in gigantic cellular phones, the kind we had before flip phones or iPhones. They probably weren't much smaller than the ones seen here (okay, maybe that's a slight exaggeration). Now, if the Disney references on the laptop screen were too obvious for you, here's one that's much more subtle. Take a look at the phone number depicted on the screen. If you call it, you'll be connected to... Disney's Pop Century Resort!

The '70s Boogie Down!

Disco down and check out the show! It's the 1970s cluster of lodging buildings at Disney's Pop Century Resort. Here, the balconies are adorned with mood rings, platform shoes and dancers doing The Hustle and The Bump, and the rooftops ask "What's your handle?" and invite you to "Have a nice day!"

The '70s is the one cluster without its own pool. Instead, the center courtyard is designed to be a giant rec room. Rec (short for recreation) rooms surged in popularity in the 1970s as increased leisure time inspired people to dedicate space in their homes for fun and entertaining. This outdoor rec room is dominated by a giant foosball table, players at the ready. In the corners, you'll even find a couple games of Twister. Twister was created in 1966 and became a staple of 1970s parties. The games here are actually playable, with a spinner positioned nearby and a nice, soft surface for the inevitable tumbles.

Not to age myself too badly, but I was definitely a kid of the '70s. I may not have had a Nehru jacket or a pet rock, but I did have a Big Wheel and a Mickey Mouse phone. In fact, I still have the Mickey phone on my desk today. Mine is the touchtone variety, not a rotary phone like the giant one at Pop Century, but it's still pretty retro cool.

My memories from the '70s also include my grandparents having a CB radio. CB radio use grew in the 1970s, especially among truck drivers during the oil crisis, and it soon became a widespread fad. This image on one of the 8-track tapes at Pop Century reminds me of those times when folks would ask, "Ya got yer ears on?"

I never had an 8-track player, but my uncle did. In a bid to outdo cassette tapes, 8-tracks were set up so you could push a button and switch "tracks" to another song on the tape more easily than having to fast-forward or rewind. Of course, in today's digital age, it all sounds fairly prehistoric.

At the Pop Century resort's 1970s cluster, it's giant 8-track tapes that shroud the stairwells at the ends of each building. They don't completely cover the stairs, though, which allows you to peek around back and see some of the song titles on each tape. They're fictional, just like the songs we saw in the '50s, but they bring back even more memories of the Disco era, everything from Polyester to custom vans and The Godfather.

The '60s Are Far Out!

Welcome to the '60s, man, Pop Century-style. The 1960s cluster of buildings at the resort occupies the central area, right off Classic Hall and is anchored by the Hippy Dippy Pool, formed in the shape of a flower. Flower Power is definitely a pervasive theme here in the '60s, along with Peace signs, dances such as the Jerk and the Mashed Potato and catchphrases like "Groovy" and "Out of Sight!"

But the 1960s wasn't just about Hippies and Flower Children. It was also a decade known for surfing and car culture. Check out this little photo op, tucked off the path on the way to the '70s. It's surfer Goofy ready to hang 10 (or is that 8?) alongside a genuine 1964 Corvette.

Another icon of the era, popular both then and now, is Play-Doh. Introduced in 1956, Play-Doh became a monster success in the '60s with the introduction of a wide variety of colors and toys like the Play-Doh Fun Factory (which included pieces like those on the back wall for making various shapes). There are some really nice details in this piece, like the gob of Play-Doh holding the lid to the can, giant fingerprints pressed into the ears of the elephant and mascot Play-Doh Pete (not seen in this picture) wearing his original smock and beret. Pete's look was updated in 2002 before Pop Century opened, but the depiction here is accurate to the decade.

Another plaything, a yo-yo, is used to shroud the stairwells on the 1960s buildings. Yo-yos have actually been around for hundreds of years, with the first ones made and sold in the U.S. in the '20s. It was in 1962, however, that entrepreneur Donald Duncan launched a hugely successful media campaign to kick off sales of his company's Butterfly and Imperial Yo-Yos, creating a fad that would last for years.

Here on the outskirts of the '60s cluster along the shore of Hourglass Lake is also where you'll find Memory Lane, a hidden gem of Disney's Pop Century Resort. Not only is Memory Lane a nice place to stroll or to catch a glimpse of construction on Disney's Art of Animation Resort across the way, it's also dotted with a series of signs recalling significant events of the past century. Next time you're there, be sure to make some time for a walk down Memory Lane, and pay attention to both sides of each sign. There's lots to see, and who knows? You might learn a thing or six!

One of the signs lets us know Disney's The Jungle Book swung into theaters in 1967. The film, actually the last of the animated features supervised by Walt Disney, is considered a timeless classic. When you watch it, though, you'll find it's full of '60s culture, from the Beatles-inspired vultures ("Don't start that again!") to the laid back attitude of Papa Bear himself, good ol' Baloo. Can you dig it?

The '50s Are the Most!

The clusters of lodging buildings at Disney's Pop Century Resort are each dedicated to a decade from the latter half of the 20th century... and some of the pop culture icons of that era. Consistent among the buildings are slang phrases popular at the time and large figures posed to represent a dance from that decade. Here in the '50s, you'll find the Jitterbug, the Lindy and the Twist, along with expressions like "Cool," "Dreamy" and "Way out!"

The balcony railings are also decorated with musical memories of the '50s, in the form of transistor radios and 45 rpm records (that decade's equivalent of today's 99¢ iTunes download). The song titles are made up, but reflect other timely trends: "The Goldfish Gulp," "Penny Loafer Love" and "Sputnik Spin." Two of my favorites are "Alaska If She'd Like to be the 49th State" and "Hawaii? I'm Fine! (50th State Hula)," references to the fact that both states joined the union during the 1950s.

The stairwells on the end of each building in this cluster are encased in giant, 65-foot-tall bowling pins - officially sponsored by Brunswick, a rare example of participant branding in a resort. Looking around, you'll find nine of these pins standing. The tenth has "fallen" to form the pool. Around the pool are other details supporting the story of ten-pin bowling's popularity in the '50s, from the lane markers to the laundry facility disguised as a rack of rented bowling shoes.

The giant jukebox at the end of the bowling pin pool speaks to other major trends like sock hops, malt shops and rock 'n' roll. There are lots more fun song titles to be found here, especially if you're willing to take the time to walk around the entire jukebox and read all the tags. There's "Drag Race Daredevil Danny," "The Wallflower Blues," "Poodle Skirt Parade" and "The Tiki Torch Tango."

You'll even find a few Hidden Disney references, including the fabricated "I've Got a Date at Disneyland" and the very real hit songs "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" and "Mickey Mouse Club March."

There's one element of Disney, though, that's not hidden at all. In fact, you can't miss the tribute to Lady and the Tramp, Disney's animated feature which debuted in theaters in 1955. At one side of the courtyard is Lady, shy and demure. On the other side of the tracks is the Tramp, all tall, proud and sure of himself. You can almost hear him calling, "Come on, Pidg'!"

My favorite detail in this vignette is one that's often overlooked. It's a small engineering building which anywhere else would be simply painted "go away" green and surrounded by tall shrubs. Here, though, it's part of the show, dressed as Lady's doghouse out in the yard.

Everything POP

Everything POP is the name of the shopping and dining venue at Disney's Pop Century Resort, and while there's certainly quite a lot to browse and enjoy there, I find myself spending even more time perusing the nostalgia-filled display which runs through the heart of Classic Hall. To assemble this timeline of treasures, the Imagineering team on the Pop Century project tapped into every resource available, from eBay and swap meets to pawn shops and their own closets. The result is a collection of articles that together tell the pop culture story of our lives through the latter half of the last century. There are more pictures here than in probably any other article on the blog, simply because there's so much to see, so be sure to click on each one to see everything larger and in more detail!

The tour follows a timeline along the ceiling, from the '50s to the '90s, with real items from those eras many of us remember, some of us may have forgotten and others may have only heard of. The 1950s gave us roller skates, poodle skirts and saddle shoes, along with rabbit ears and TV Guide. I especially enjoy the inclusion of a speaker pole and speakers from a drive-in movie theater. I may not have been around in the '50s, but I certainly recall going to the drive-in as a kid. In fact, I saw my first Disney animated feature, Robin Hood, at the drive-in... six times!

Another shadowbox from the '50s is a roundup of popular toys and games, with everything from Lionel Trains and a Hula Hoop to Pick Up Stix and Cootie. They even have a copy of Boys' Life magazine and Name That Tune, "The Best Game on Record!" Next, we come to the first of several Disney references along the wall. Appropriate, of course, since Disney has played such a strong role in our popular culture for the past 80+ years. For this decade, it's "Mickey Mouse Club," Cinderella and Disneyland, not to mention the classic Disney school bus lunch box!

Moving on to the groovy '60s, we see peace signs, paisley and wild prints, along with nods to musical legends like The Beach Boys, The Beatles and The Mamas and The Papas. One whole case is dedicated to the July 20, 1969, moon landing, with an original newspaper page from that day. We then see how the fascination with space played out in other facets of 1960s popular culture, from space toys to "My Favorite Martian."

Look, too, for Mary Poppins, James Bond, Planet of the Apes, Creature from the Black Lagoon and another appearance by Disneyland, this time in the form of the Monorail Game. Travel destinations, no doubt reached in the good ol' Family Truckster, are another subject for the '60s, with a shadowbox tapping into memories of Route 66, National Parks and the Seattle World's Fair of 1962.

Next up is the 1970s. Not to date myself, but now we're in my era. I may not have worn the platform shoes or had a lava lamp in my room, but I rode a Big Wheel just like that one on the wall, pretending the hills in my neighborhood were roller coasters, and I have that Mickey Mouse phone. It's sitting right next to me on my desk as I write this!

Of course, for Disney the milestone event of the decade was the opening of the Walt Disney World in October 1971. One large display includes everything from magazine and newspaper articles about the opening to original souvenirs, guide books, tickets and a resort matchbook collection.

The '70s wouldn't have been the '70s without the music of KISS, Barry Manilow, Chicago, The Village People or Donna Summer and disco... all played on gloriously clunky 8-track tapes. Check out the eclectic musical tastes represented by the 8-tracks on display: Rod Stewart, John Denver, WAR, Burt Bacharach, Sonny & Cher, Englebert Humperdink and Captain & Tennille. "Muskrat Love" anyone?

Moving to the '80s, we graduate to cassette tapes and CDs... and a VHS copy of ET: The Extra Terrestrial. There was also a big health kick in the '80s, represented by Jane Fonda, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jazzercise and Deal-A-Meal. High cut aerobics wear and leg warmers were all the fashion rage, as apparently were wide belts and hair crimping (gag me with a spoon!). I will admit, though, to owning at least one Swatch watch back in the day... with Swatch Guard!

I also once owned the game of Simon, Trivial Pursuit, a Rubik's Cube and a couple of those Star Wars PEZ dispensers, and my wife still has a couple of her old Cabbage Patch Kids and Strawberry Shortcake dolls.

My brother and I were lucky enough one Christmas morning to get an Atari 2600, just like this one at Pop Century. We had a blast with Asteroids, Space Invaders and other games we thought were so incredibly awesome (which today look incredibly lame). Sadly, the level of gaming on the Atari 2600 represented the limit of my hand-eye coordination and the end of my video game days. We own a couple of consoles now, but the Wii is mostly for my boys (they love Epic Mickey and LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean) and the PS3 is my Blu-ray player (the best Blu-ray player there is, by the way).

While video games may have lost me, I must say I've done a better job keeping up with computer technology. The Apple IIc on display in the '80s section is just like the ones we had at my high school, and today I'm still proud to say, "I'm a Mac!" There's lots of other old tech in this case, too. Anyone remember those old floppy disks? How about the disc camera, scientific calculators, Fax machines or Max Headroom?

The '90s portion of the timeline continues the technology story with the introduction of laptops, cellular phones and the Internet. There's also a nod to the explosive resurgence of Disney animation during the 1990s, led by the success of films like Beauty and the Beast and Toy Story.

Also big in the '90s: Spice Girls, Britney Spears, New Kids on the Block, Phil Collins and Prince (formerly known as that weird symbol, formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince). There are displays acknowledging the increase in environmental awareness and recycling, as well as one dedicated to the rise of extreme sports like roller blading, snowboarding and BMX.

A '90s TV display features a universal remote and nods to hits like "The Simpsons," "X Files" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The decade was also big for toy trends. Look for Power Rangers, Furby, TY Beanie Babies, Game Boy, Tamagotchi and Pokemon. There are even Disney references here, from the obvious (Pocahontas) to the more obscure (Dick Tracy and Encino Man).

What moments from your past are stirred up by the timeline of treasures at Disney's Pop Century Resort? What's your favorite piece in the collection? What do you wish were there that's not? Share your thoughts in the comments, and (as they say) let the memories begin!