Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Reflections on a Golden Horseshoe

Re-Imagineering is a relatively new blog with the self-described purpose of being, "A forum for Pixar and Disney professionals passionate about the Disney Theme Parks to catalog past Imagineering missteps and offer up tenable practical solutions in hopes that a new wave of creative management at Imagineering can once again bring back some of the wonder and magic that's been missing from the parks for decades."

A noble goal, and like many Disney fans, I'd love to see the theme parks glowing again with the magic they had when I visited Disneyland in the '60s and '70s, or even when Peggy and I visited Disneyworld in the '80s.

Although you might have guessed Tomorrowland, Frontierland was always my favorite area of Disneyland, largely due to the presence of the Mark Twain steamboat which - even on rails - made me dream of steaming down the Mississippi with young Sam Clemens.

It was a running joke in my family that once in New Orleans Square, my Dad would simply hand me all the "D" tickets from the coupon books and I would head to the Mark Twain and repeated rides, while my brothers and parents would go to Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion (I liked both those too, but the Mark Twain was my ride).

Another New Orleans Square/Frontierland favorite was The Golden Horseshoe Revue, a semi-burlesque - or more accurately, a Disney imagining of what a Wild West saloon/burlesque would be - that I saw countless times in Disneyland and that I took Peggy to on one of our Disneyworld trips (Peg would end up on stage with Roger Rabbit and gun-slinging cowboys during that visit).

"Merlin Jones" (great pseudonym, that) has a thoughtful and thought-provoking essay on why the Golden Horseshoe Revue worked so well in the past, and why it should be brought to life again in the future.

"With a saloon madam, her dancing girls, an Irish tenor and a cowboy comedian (and their band), The Golden Horseshoe Revue didn't try to be relevant to the times in any way, but transported guests back into another era of entertainment; to the days before movies and television when seltzer and pantaloons reigned supreme...Well, guess what? That sort of entertainment was way out of date in the 1960 too - As kids, we didn't relate to it either, or get the timely gags - - we just thought it was cool! We loved being able to go to another time and place. And those girls were great dancers with a contagious joie-de-vivre!"
And yes, that's Annette Funicello, my one-time heart-throb, pictured.

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