Journey with me back in time for a piece of Walt Disney World’s Hidden History and a well-developed concept that you probably never heard of – The Fort Wilderness Adventure House. We’ll look at the origins of this “funhouse” (including when it was going to be called “The Roost”), Marc Davis’ designs and gags, changes, relationship to a classic Disney attraction, and take a virtual walk-through. We’ll explore the concepts for the Fort Wilderness Stockade and Western Town (aka Fort Wilderness FrontierTown) and also look at another lost concept, Sadie Mae’s Palace, that would have significantly changed the Fort Wilderness Resort experience as a whole.
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Lou Mongello: [00:00:00] Since the day that Disneyland opened it gates in July, 1955, we have Disney fans have been given, should I say gifted, countless, incredible attractions, experiences and memories. Thanks to the creators, artists, magicians and Imagineers that have graced the halls of flower street from wed through Imagineering, but there's only so much land and only so many ideas that can become part of the Disney parks.
And that means that even more ideas and concepts sit on literal and figurative shelves and endures in those same hallowed hall. And some of them are incredibly intriguing and who knows might even be dusted off someday because they say he no good idea ever dies at Imagineering. And of course, every effort at Disney is one that is grounded in team and teamwork, but they also come from the mind imagination and pen of one person.
And for many years, one of those people. Was Mark Davis back on show 4 23. As we tried to highlight the life and legacy of some Disney legends, we took a look at some of his work. He was known as, as Walt Disney's Renaissance man for his work in animation and theme parks and Imagineering due in part because it's so recognizable and remarkable and enduring and clearly load by generations of Disney fans.
And while we looked at not only his accomplishments, we talked about some of his never built theme park concepts, like thunder, Mesa, and some tributes to mark. You can find in the park. But what you may not know is that there's also a great deal of hidden history at Disney ideas and stories, and even people that you may have not have heard of before, which is why I like to highlight so many of them [00:02:00] on interviews on the show.
And so this week I want you to saddle up because we're going to look at a truly fun concept that you probably have never even heard of before and, or its connections to an attraction that might just be one of your favorites. And when I say we, we beans of course, Kendall foreman, who you may have heard on the show.
I can't even read all the shows you've been on Kendall because there are so many going back to tomorrow, land art pieces, unrealized attractions, things you can't believe happened way back machines, beastly, kingdom, and so many more Kendall. Welcome back to the.
Kendall Foreman: Hey, I'm glad to be back and really excited to talk about this topic.
Lou Mongello: And this was, I have to give credit words to Kendall because this topic was all yours. And you said to me, Hey, cause we were talking about maybe doing the Mark Davis show. And I said, well, I already, I did a full show on Mark Davis. And he said, and you came back. I said, yeah, but you never really talked about the fun house at Fort wilderness.
And fortunately as you, I was reading the email or the message. You couldn't see my face because it was the what fun house in Fort wilderness. It literally opened up this wonderful Pandora box because there was also an expensive Pandora's box because you said you don't have the Mark Davis in his own words, Imagineering the Disney theme parks book.
While we were literally on a call, I ordered it and it changed my life forever.
Kendall Foreman: Yeah, this is a fantastic two volume tome, and I have to send a shout out to the WDW radio clubhouse members, because without them, I would not have sprung for the full price site unseen, but thanks to them. I got it on a great deal as a birthday, present to myself a couple of years ago, not long after it came out and after purchasing it.
Now I can say I would have P I, I should [00:04:00] have paid the full price for it because it's a fantastic research material, fun dive. Great geek-out moment for any Disney fan and. Whether it's small little details and attraction in an attraction, or it's giving you details on attractions that we thought we knew everything about or something like today where you get introduced to something you've never heard of.
It's just a great piece of work from Pete Docter and Christopher merit.
Lou Mongello: And let's be clear. Well, first of all, it is not the cheapest book on Amazon, but it, you said it's two volumes, it's nearly 800 pages, hard cover, full color. It is beautiful. And it is a treasure trove, not just of Mark Davis and his work, but of the history of the Disney parks around the world.
And it is, it is, it instantly became one of my favorite books in my library. And I was fascinated as I turned to a page in the six hundreds of, because like I said, it's huge. And we were in, I was introduced for the first time to this concept of a Fort wilderness. Fun house. And, you know, as I'm flipping through the book and I get to these pictures and the concept art that's in here is gorgeous.
I thought back to one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had was being able to go and interview Alice Davis, who was Mark's husband, and go and meet with her and chat with her in her home. I won't go onto my sort of nerdy love of that experience, but being able to see Mark's hand-drawn work and like, yikes, like sit in his chair and the will sat in the chair that Walt sat in, in his office and in his studio was remarkable.
And I think sometimes we almost forget just what an impact this one man had specifically on the theme park experience and just how much he contributed over the [00:06:00] year.
Kendall Foreman: Yeah, it's just unbelievable to look through this thing. And I, I am so jealous of your opportunities to get it, to sit there and see pieces of original artwork, because I mean, as a somewhat amateur freelance artists, myself, I am just astounded at his ability to, to what looks like, just rip these things off.
I mean, there's this piece after piece after piece, it was such, such a prolific amount of artwork at such a high level and characters that are created and just his personal style you see throughout all of it. You look at a piece of concept art and, you know, immediately that's Mark Davis.
Lou Mongello: Yeah. And we'll touch on, you know, I sort of teased a little bit and I will continue the tease of.
Not just this unique concept that was sort of never realized in its original form, but it's ties to a current attraction that has mark Davis's hand prints all over it and not just its connections to it, but some of the ideas that were originally planned for it. And somebody even say there's a lot of connective tissue that runs in between, but I think we need to sort of, you know, enter the dream sequence here and go back in time a little bit to the early mid 1970s and the opening of Walt Disney world and specifically Fort wilderness and what Fort wilderness and Walter's roles itself, what it was and what it was starting to go down the path of becoming in terms of Walt Disney world, being this vacation kingdom of the.
Kendall Foreman: Yeah, I love the concept of the vacation kingdom. I covered that in my, my anniversary series. You know, the influencer of the decade, I picked the, the concept of the vacation [00:08:00] kingdom as the most impactful thing that happened at Disney world in the 1970s, because it's interesting to think about, and anyone who watched the behind the attraction about the Disneyland hotel, there was just a really interesting statement made in there for S for someone, you know, my age or younger, or even just a little bit older than me, the idea of a family vacation.
First off, isn't a novel concept for one, and we travel long distances and we stay in hotels and we do activities around that hotel. And that's what we know of family vacation, but they mentioned in that Disneyland hotel, Episode how they had to market the Disneyland hotel in a certain way. Because up to that point, hotels were solely for business travelers.
This wasn't something that families did. And as a part of that, they started incorporating all kinds of things into the Disneyland hotel. They wanted it to be a one-stop shop for everything. And then once you get to Walt Disney world, that concept expands out, not just to that specific hotel, but this property where we, we want to keep you here.
We want to offer you everything that we can so that you'll want to stay for multiple days, bring the whole family, and you'll want to come back and do this again. And I think you see, especially after a couple years of it being open. That some people were starting to come in and, and they might stay for one night because there's one park to do something.
And then they move on. And I think with what they were trying to do with these proposed projects that we're going to talk about today is they wanted to expand that they want people to realize there's this whole vacation kingdom here. There's all this recreation, especially at the campground that we want you to come.
We want you to stay. We want you to try all these different things, because the more you're in our hotels, the better it is for us.
Lou Mongello: Right. And, and like you said, there was only one [00:10:00] park. It was magic kingdom, obviously, certainly not as developed now in terms of the numbers of attractions and things to keep you in the parks, which is why the resorts were so important.
It's why there were things like the Polynesian luau and the top of the world supper club, which were destination venues at the resort to give you something to do at night. And. What Disney was was seeing. And I think the vision from the very beginning was to add some more of those off the beaten path type experiences to not just you going to the parks and then coming back to resort to sleep and then eat.
It's why things like, you know, discovery island were built and even going back two months after Walt Disney world at first opened, there were plans to add to Fort wilderness. In the Northern section, they were going to add the settlement with a beach and a petting zoo and a boat dock they wanted to have, and eventually did have this narrow gauge steam railroad with open air cars that were going to transport guests through this loop of track between the camp sites and the reception and recreation areas.
They were going to have this Fort wilderness stockade and a Western town complete with dining and shopping. And entertainment. So more than just pioneer hall and hooptie, do they really wanted to build and eventually did with, like I said, treasure island, discovery island river country opens in 1975, but there were, there were other plans for a frontier town where it wasn't just a place for a guest of Fort wilderness to have something to do.
But they specifically wanted to build this to make you extend your vacation. Right now, we can go for seven days and not see anything. Like you said, you can go for one or two, see it all, and then move on maybe to another up [00:12:00] and coming destination in Florida. So to create this town and this recreational concept complex, it would give you a reason to stay and add an extra day.
And while they're continuing to. Improve on Fort wilderness. And then, you know, in, in the mid seventies, around 76, as the oil crisis is over and tourism is really starting to kick up. This is when the really start to ramp up some of these ideas and Mark Davis steps into the picture and says, one thing that we maybe can do here is build really, for lack of a better word until the way to best describe it is a fun house in Fort wilderness.
Kendall Foreman: Yeah. And I think they had an initial concept of kind of this, the Fort wilderness fun house, looking like a bar. And being more of just a straightforward, fun house, like what you see at a, you know, a typical county fair. I'm sure it would have been more elevated than that because it would have been a permanent structure.
And, and you see, mark did a con concept piece for that of the red barn, but then you really start to see mark come into the picture, like you said, in, in late 75, 76, where they start to flesh this out as, as a broader concept with more of a story.
Lou Mongello: Yeah. And it's interesting how this comes to be and where those ties are too.
Again, I, I alluded to know, I know good idea at Walters role ever dies and the attraction that I was so cryptically referring to was, and the ties that it connects to was going back and looking at some of the original plans for a walkthrough attraction. Of the haunted mansion and the concept that they first came up with was something called the roost.
And again, in this book, there's [00:14:00] a fully flushed out drawing by mark of like you said, this barn, which was going to be sort of, you know, this, this hillbilly type hotel. And what I love about this kettle is how even early on, they had crafted and market sort of designed these characters, right? So Jasper and mod, we're going to create this place to escape some of the, the, the, the critters of Fort wilderness.
They were former chicken farmers, and they had this bizarre idea of creating this giant red barn, which. According to the concept. Art was going to be sort of like this indoor Tom Sawyer island, which based on what we saw initially, even just from those initial concepts of the barn was exactly what this was going to be a place that you entered into.
And it was going to have all of these different literal and figurative paths and adventures. You could go.
Kendall Foreman: Yeah. And when you look at the book, even sometimes, it's kind of hard to judge where certain pieces of concept art fit in together with others. And you can tell this is definitely an evolving project.
You see, you know, the, the barn is the first concept and then the, then the barn, while they're talking about this hotel idea and the roost and it kind of transitions into, okay, now it's no longer a bar and now it looks more like if you took a Victorian house or even, you know, to use a modern example, if you took mystic manner and built it in the American Midwest, you know, this house has kind of all these towers and tourists and tons of.
Chicken weather veins on top. And almost like it's a big house. That's been turned into a hotel and [00:16:00] there's two separate entry points that you see in the book. Two different concept, art pieces, at least this is what to me, it seems like when you look at it is that there was one, one version where you enter into the hotel and Maude and Jasper looked to be Pepper's ghost type effects where they're above the registration desk and they're welcoming you in and introducing you to their hotel.
And then there's a cast member down on the main floor, and then there's another. Piece of concept art that looks like it may be the entry point because there's also a cast member there. And mark has specific notes on that piece where there's multiple chickens in the room laying eggs, and each time they lay an egg, it makes a bell ring.
And once the bell is rung three times, then this portrait on the wall, it comes to life of Jasper and mod and, and that kind of served as the pre-show. And it's sort of why that,
Lou Mongello: yeah, sorry. I'm was writing it cause it's sort of weird when you look at the exterior concept heart, right. And you have this gigantic houses, this, this mansion, which.
Is, you know, somewhat reminiscent of what could easily be a hundred mansion. To me, it looks a lot like the, like the Winchester mystery mansion it's as the concept art calls, it it's this rustic Victorian. And yet you see these odd, I mean, there's, there's a multitude of chicken, whether rain, so this, this carrying over of the chicken roost concept is, is somewhat disjointed with this, but you can see, they want to at least carry over some of those elements of the story.
And I think this, this. Exterior concept art of this upscale wilderness hotel is so intriguing because it it's such, it's such a weird mishmash of [00:18:00] different types of eccentric architecture, all sort of blended into each other. You know, there's a little bit of haunted mansion. There's a little bit of grisly hall.
There's a little bit of Victorian Manor, all sort of melded in together.
Kendall Foreman: Yeah. And clearly when you see it's like the chickens have taken over, I mean, the chickens are on the weather veins. The chickens are in the architect or the chickens are on the fence, you know, depicted in all those different ways.
And then the chickens are allowed to live inside the hotel. Mo Maude must have really loved her chicken.
Lou Mongello: And, and, but going back to the characters of Jasper and mod, again, they were sort of really kind of fully flushed out. So there was a, a reason and an understanding and a, and a method behind the madness of the design.
So even just, you know, Jasper is this very small, skinny, meek, and mild mannered tinkerer who sort of the inventor of the hotel and mod is a larger, stronger presence who, you know, clearly loves her chickens and is like, listen, Jasper, you're going to live with me. You're also going to live with, with me and my chickens.
Kendall Foreman: Yeah, I get a very like Kermit miss piggy vibe from Jasper and why.
Lou Mongello: Yeah. And there's, and there's this, you, you sort of get the sense as, as much of what mark did and what we even see in places currently like frontier land. There is this sort of fanciful basis in like American folklore, right? Not based on any specific characters, but, or sort of like these folk stories and a lot of this full folksiness of [00:20:00] Americana that is brought into the, that is brought into the story and the theming, not just on the outside, but as you mentioned on the inside as well, and the incredible, somewhat disjointed and disparate theming of each of the rooms, and you sort of get the sense that these two.
People tried to build their best version of an upscale elegant hotel. Maybe not a hundred percent quite right, but certainly with a lot of the Jasper and mod flair layered on top.
Kendall Foreman: Yeah. I mean, it has like all of the components of a great mansion, but it incorporates that Mark Davis playfulness and sight gags.
I mean, like one of the best examples of that combination, I think is the image you see of the trophy room, where not trophies as in sports trophies, but it's trophies as in hunting trophies and, you know, in a great mansion, you would expect the man of the house to have, you know at that point in time in history, a great trophy room with, you know, bucks or, you know, or elk or whatever on the wall, but in the.
Hotel mansion it's, you know, a unicorn and a shark and a walrus and tiger the rooster. So I'm not sure maybe how mod feels about that one being mounted on Jasper's trophy room wall, but, and
Lou Mongello: they're all given names to like each one. So they're all not just sort of trophies, but, and this is sort of weird.
Like they are, they are characters who had clearly personalities of their own and, and, you know, they're like, there's Mojave a camel and there's hot lips, a dragon like breathing fire, and there's a unicorn, so they're real and [00:22:00] somewhat mythical. And you almost don't know, you know, that's why they're called unlikely trophies for the trophy room.
Kendall Foreman: Yeah. And it almost makes you what, like, I really hope that these things are going to be like animatronics that spoke, you know, and not just hanging on the wall. But yeah, I mean, you take, and again, like another example of something being elevated and yet just like still a little bit of hillbilly is, you know, mods dining room.
You have this fancy table set and fancy lights, and, and then you have this kind of Victorian grading hanging from the ceiling that serves as a track for buckets. And the buckets are delivering food to the dining room. And then there's a train track delivering food to the dining table. And obviously this isn't a place where guests were supposed to come in and eat this whole thing's a walkthrough, you know, attraction, but just that.
You know that juxtaposition of something fancy, fancy mansion with these gags and, and silly hillbilly ways of doing things.
Lou Mongello: Right. And that's, and sort of give you, you know, as you're listening, you have to sort of visualize in your mind's eye. And again, I refer to the book because the concept art really helps piece it together, but you really are.
Once you're through that pressure, you go through this, you know, it's, it's like a fun house, but there's interactive walkthrough attraction. And there are these multiple rooms. I'm sure, you know, each one kind of came and went. So in the kitchen is sort of that. When you see the concept or the kitchen, and it's all sort of on this gigantic slant, you think of sort of that angled fun-house room, right where the eggs are rolling in the wrong direction and the there's, you know, chairs that sort of shouldn't be where they should be.
There's a [00:24:00] barrel room with barrel tops are spinning on the floors and teetering barrels on the walls. You could sort of imagine that Mark Davis, world of motion type scene, that's there with the, this is a drunken chicken that is singing again. There's American folklore. There's like a Paul Bunyan bedroom that has this gigantic bounce mattress.
And there's Paul and babe the ox and the paintings on the wall. One of the interesting things is this hall of D of doors, which was. Would utilize that way. Thull Rogers projection screen technology, where you would walk down this hallway and again, think sort of like the mansion's corridor of doors, maybe.
And I, and as I was reading this kennel and sort of trying to connect the two, I envisioned this hall of doors that you would walk through. And I started to think of the inspiration from the haunted mansion. And as we go through the mansion now, and we see all those doors after we pass the coffin, you wonder if this is what the original concept for the walkthrough mansion might've been, where as you were walking down this hallway, All these different doors would open up into all of these different types of gags.
So if you want to, if you open the door that had the exit on it, you would open up to this dark room with Mr. Toad's wild ride, like a train coming at you or the Florida room would have all kinds of rain and thunder. The, the restroom just had this single chair for you to go to rest into. So it's a more humorous take on what might have been the original mansion hardware of doors concept.
Kendall Foreman: Yeah. I mean, you think there has to be some connective tissue there between the two, [00:26:00] like what you mentioned, just, just by virtue of the fact that there are several of the same imagine years working, you know, on this concept broadly. And then Mark Davis working on the actual art design specifically and.
I think it's very interesting to look at some of those, some of those more fun house-y concepts that were apart of the ruse versus some of the more even, you know, fleshed out interactive concepts that once it, it becomes the adventure house, because you take like that, the concept of the mods kitchen and this angled room.
And I, from what I understand, I believe that was more part of the roost versus then you take an angled room in the adventure house and they've turned that into Jasper's den. And so you still have this idea of things rolling uphill because now it's Jasper's billiard table and the balls are rolling up the hill and, and there's still chickens living in the dead, but then you've also added this large fish tank in, in there.
And it, Marc really wanted to use a. Rear projection in order to make it look like there was a shark in the tank. And just how ahead of his time really kind of that was that, you know, we, we come all the way to, I don't remember the year that finding Nemo and Nemo and friends opened at the seas, but, you know, to get to a point where we have like a fully realized version of that tech, that visual interactivity that mark wanted to use in this fun house.
Lou Mongello: Well, and I think, I think that's the distinction right there. I think the roost was more fun house than like the matching, right? It was, the idea was this was going to be something that really would appeal to kids. And if you look at some of the other specific rooms that were at least [00:28:00] proposed for the, the roost, so for example, When wagon Smith's nautical quarter, which was this circular room that had windows looking out onto what would eventually become frontier land with all these interactive cranks that would spin and rotate the weather veins on the outside of the house, which is why I think we saw so many of those chicken weather veins out there.
There was a concert for a guest room. Which you would open up the door and there'd be this huge sleeping bear inside. And the bear is snoring so loudly that it's making the room itself, have this sort of effect that it's breathing. So think almost the movement of the ceiling in the stretching room, but expanded to making that whole room because he's snoring.
So loudly expand and contract. There was a mirror maze, a, a dark maze an entirely touch based maze. That's, you know, I don't think necessarily in, in practical terms could have happened. There was a perspective hallway, which makes me think of the endless hallway again, in the mansion, but something that you would encounter as a walkthrough, there was an earthquake room, a dosey DOE balcony.
Again, think about that shaking floor of the exterior of some fun houses. You'll find at carnival. There was a Prairie schooner hall. Jasper's attic would have a self playing piano. Again, inspiration coming, not just from Mark Davis, but you know, Ken Anderson and Claude coats variations on this self playing piano that we eventually see in the haunted mansion.
A headless horseman was going to throw his head at visitors at the end of the hallway. Again, going back to inspiration from early Ken Anderson Strongs. And there's a, there's a cool greenhouse drawing in the book that has man eating plants. And again, if you [00:30:00] think back to rolly Crump's idea for museum of the weird that's exactly what he wanted.
It never happened. Mark Davis took that idea, said, we're going to get this man eating plant. We're not going to put it in the mansion. We're not going to put it here. He wanted to put it in the jungle cruise here in Walt Disney world. It obviously didn't happen. But I think all of these ideas again were meant.
It made me feel more almost carnival fun house. And I think with it came inherent problems, whether it be guests, flow-through safety execution, what it might be, but that original roost concept eventually starts to morph into this adventure house and. The, the levels of interactivity and what you would have been able to do and, or affect or change would be different.
I think the adventure house was more of a passive experience as opposed to the initial idea of the roofs being something far more interactive.
Kendall Foreman: Yeah, definitely interactive on, like you say, like more of a physical experience, like you're thinking of those things, like you mentioned, like the spinning floor and a bounce floor and, and some of those carry over, like I mentioned, you know, the difference between, you know, the angled kitchen and Jasper's dish, then both being an angle floor room.
And instead of having like, you know, about's floor room, now you take that conservatory concept that you mentioned, but then they convert it, like in a slight riff on a bounce room. It has like a squishy floor and they they're gonna put. You know, bring fog in over the floor with these mad eating plans on either side of you.
And now it turns into this eerie walkthrough area and something that's a little less litigation causing than putting a bunch of guests in a room [00:32:00] where they're bouncing around.
Lou Mongello: Yeah. And I think, you know, th that's the thing, I think there was always this recurring idea for a walkthrough attraction, right.
Going back to the, you know, the haunted mansion was time and time again, again, pre opening a Disneyland, you know, rolly, Crump and yield Gracie, all sort of had this idea and storyline that we eventually got to see out. Immigrated into the, into the Walt Disney world version specifically when it did its reefer a number of years ago.
But, you know, Mark Davis really had also conceptualized so many different walkthrough versions of a Hotard mansion and gags. He developed for that as well as for Tom sewer island, that's never came to be, but again had to sort of morph even further as this interactive walkthrough became what eventually would be called and considered the adventure house.
Kendall Foreman: And one of the, the pieces of concept art that to me, looks like something. It definitely could come right out of the haunted mansion or wood or could fit right in there today. That's that was part of the adventure house. Iteration is Jasper's photographic studio and it looks like, you know, a long tunnel through this room.
And there's cameras set up on either side that flash, which, you know, maybe knowing what we do today about health limitations. This might not be the best thing to implement, but it is a fascinating concept that it, you know, if you're walking through and it flashes on the right than on your left, you would see these silhouettes of like ghosts and goals and skeletons and things like almost like the flash capture that silhouette on the wall.[00:34:00]
And then it starts to fade away and then that side would flash and then those similar type of apparition appearances would occur on the opposite wall. As you walk through.
Lou Mongello: It's interesting. Try and follow. And to a certain degree, Kendall almost have to piece together what the flow of these rooms were in the adventure house.
So one of the content art pieces that, that I love is of this waiting area. That again, has this recurring theme of the hens and the roosters. And I couldn't quite understand, like there would be hens in there. And every time they laid an egg, it would drop into a basket, a Bellwood ring. I'm having visions of Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory.
And when one of them played three eggs, the bell would start to ring rapidly. And there was a portrait of modern Jasper that would come to life. But if you look at the notation off to the side, you see. Guests sitting on these benches that were meant to sink or expand sort of grow and shrink, which made me think about if you remember back when the adventurous club opened and the stools at the bar that would go up and down much to the surprise of guests, it was all sort of signage on there.
It's sort of that reintegration of that similar type of gag or joke that clearly Davis was a fan of.
Kendall Foreman: Yeah. And I, even today, I just, I love some of the relative simplicity of some of these things, but the F the freeness of it, like, it's kind of shocking to me that we don't really have any walk through attractions like this at Walt Disney world.
Especially considering how popular they [00:36:00] seem to be in a lot of the international parks. Like I think you could very much take these concepts and, and use this today to create something, you know, even if you elevate it with today's tech, whether that's, you know, things that we've seen, like the, the magic mirror in enchanted tales with Belle, or, you know, some of the animatronic technology that we have now, some of the projection mapping technology that we see in places like the Peter Pan's flight cue, like, you know, and, and maybe it's because of concepts are like this attraction that we have some of those things today, but it definitely seems like this is a concept that could be fleshed out and spectacular.
Lou Mongello: You know, as we, when we come to sort of the end of our discussion, sort of think about what could happen potentially with some of these ideas for the future. I was thinking about places like Hong Kong, Disneyland, which during Halloween is an amazing place. And the walkthrough attractions that they have there that are not only interactive.
They're downright scary. Now go back and listen to a review of our trip to Hong Kong Disneyland, but they work right. They work in there. It's a temporary environment. I mean, it's sort of a temporary structure created specifically for this. They also had an Avengers theme one, which was a very temporary sort of test pilot for this walkthrough experience, which works very well there.
And as I think back to those, and I look at the concept art here, the theming is different. The gags are different, but a lot of. What a lot of the specificity, I think that Davis and some of the other Imagineers put in was utilized an integrated today. So for example, in between scenes, there were [00:38:00] short hallways to each of the different rooms that wildly varied from being short and simple, to incredibly well themed they're soundproofed.
So you don't know what is coming around the next corner, what that next room might have in store for you. And it's this weird sort of abstracts connection between sometimes these rooms, which might not necessarily make sense, right? If this was a, a real hotel, but was fascinating when you see them all kind of put together.
And again, this, this. Taking some of these old carnival concepts, making them less Funhouse and more of a passive perspective view type experience. And again, we are trying to sort of piece together. We don't know what order these rooms would have been, but as you look at the car, the concept art, and as you read the, the descriptions, you can see where some of these concepts certainly carried over.
Not to. Walkthrough version of the mansion, but the current version that we have, whether it is the stretching room, the disappearing portraits, some of the other aspects as well, some of these, these appearing and disappearing, and I love the way that you sort of get the sense that, again, you're, you're guided, it looks like from the concept art that there's almost like a Butler in gray pants, bow tie and red vest that is guiding you through which again, I wonder just sort of logistically how that might happen, but this idea of coming around the corner much as you do when you enter magic kingdom and there's this reveal of a room and there's this reveal of these gags around you.
And instead of experiencing them via dune [00:40:00] buggy, you're experiencing that. By walking through. And you wonder just again, logistically, like when you get to this, this mirror maze, right? We've all been to fun houses where characters are appearing and disappearing, and you're sort of finding your way through how that might work for a concept like this.
It might work through in someplace like a fun house maze at, at a carnival or a special themed event. I don't know that it would necessarily work in what would I have to imagine to be a, a permanent attraction. That's not necessarily obviously in a park, but is meant to be a destination and you start to wonder like, why, why didn't this happen?
Right. Why did this attraction never come to be? I think Kendall, it's probably less the execution of the effects because. You know, a lot of these concept arts were also mocked up in 3d, you know, Mark Davis, albertino set up some of these little you know, test pilot rooms just to see, you know, what the effect would really be like.
And so you wonder if adventure house seemed to have had the support, not just from the Imagineers, but from up above in terms of, we need to make this place be a destination. Why does adventure house not happen over at Fort wilderness?
Kendall Foreman: Yeah. And as I said earlier, like, I think you, you can look at these and say, this would be a fascinating place to visit, you know, walk through to attractions, work other places, but you do make a great point of, as you're trying to progress through this, if you're not being led by a cast member, Then do you have people, you know, stopping and lingering and then what kind of guest flow do you [00:42:00] have?
And if you do have a cast member leading you through it, then, you know, are you getting to experience it really in the, in the way, you know, like in this exploratory manner that it seems like it's, it's supposed to be enjoyed. And I definitely agree with you that I'm sure, you know, obviously we had other attractions that the initial concepts were walkthroughs and that didn't happen.
And in this case that probably most likely was a concern yet again, and I'm sh I'm sure. As we talk about the other concept that we're going to focus on next in conjunction with this one. I think there were some other things just in the timeline of Walt Disney world that factored into why this did not become a thing.
Lou Mongello: Right. And I, like I was asking myself, could this concept work today in Walt Disney world? And I think the answer is yes. And I think the, the location is. In a place like a resort, actually think Fort wilderness might be the ideal place for it, because if it's in a park, it becomes another attraction. You have the, the, the issue of too many guests.
Whereas if something like this exists at one of the resorts, you don't have necessarily the theme park size crowds being able to do it. You can theme it appropriately. You could make the resort continue to be even more of a destination. As I think many of them are. I think this is an extension and an expansion of it.
I think it probably would have to be in an add on ticket to something. So it's not just this absolute free for all. And then the, the resorts start to be overrun with non guests. It's something for resort guests, but obviously non guests could go and do it as well. So maybe there's a relatively diminimus cost [00:44:00] for.
Doing it it's something I would be really interesting to see them almost try the way they did out in Hong Kong in terms of this walk through attraction. And I, and I will tell you that I don't, I'm not a camper nor do I play one on TV. I've always dreamed, like if I'm going to camp anywhere, it's going to be at Fort wilderness, but I do love the Fort.
I love the cabins there. I obviously love hoopty do trails end is one of the best restaurants and values on property. I need to do a lot of reviews soon, but you start to think of what Fort wilderness could have been had. This frontier town been built and you alluded to, this was not the only concept that was going to be added.
And I don't just mean, you know, water park and things like that. But again, something I had never heard of before was SAIDI made.
Kendall Foreman: Yeah, this was a total surprise when I opened this book and through some internet sleuthing you're not going to find much there. There's not much to be found about Sadie maze.
And if you go digging, you will find a Sadie maze Disney connection. When you look up SAIDI, maze is spelled S a D I E and then Sadie, and then M a E. But it is not this dining entertainment location specifically. It's speaking of the orchestral or the band Oregon that was supposed to be a part of this location.
And in the Mark Davis book, it mentions that Bob Yani, who at that point in time was the director of entertainment for Disney parks that he. Acquired a whole set of, of mechanical instruments. And one of them was [00:46:00] this large apparatus called Sadie Mae. And I I'm, I I'm really excited because I think I might have a piece of trivia that you don't know.
Do you know where Sadie Mae played a role in Disney parks history prior to this concept,
Lou Mongello: I'm resisting the urge to press pause. So we're seeding may had a connection to Walt Disney world
Kendall Foreman: specifically not well Disneyworld I'll give you a clue. It was Disney land.
Lou Mongello: Is it America sings as it's something with America sings?
Kendall Foreman: are. You're very close with the America concept. Sadie may was used to record the soundtrack for America on parade for the bicentennial parade. Was done at Disneyland. And this, I had to go on a side tangent because this is just fascinating to me,
this piece of equipment. It was from 1890 and it was restored by a man named Paul ekes who lived in Missouri and he had several of these things. And so one of the other ones that he had was big, big Bertha, which today you can see big Bertha in the wall at 1900 park fair at the grand Floridian. So at this point in time, Paul ache EEGs, or Eakins he X Eakins, he owned big Bertha and Sadie may and he restored Sadie may until I could play.
And the individuals working on the music for. America on parade. They wanted it to have a, a music and American music box type sound. And so they decided we're going to get this music to play on Sadie Mae. And then we're going to combine it with a Moog synthesizer so that it has this like music box, main street, electrical parade type sound.
But Sadie may was huge. So [00:48:00] they couldn't transport this thing to LA to record the music. So they moved it from Missouri just to the grand old Opry house in Nashville. So they child there recorded the music on Sandy Mae, which actually is run, think like a player piano only. It uses like. Like cardboard punch sheets.
And at that point in time, there was only one guy who made these things. So they had to send the music orchestration to Belgium. So this guy could make them the punch sheets for Sadie. May they record it in Nashville and bring that music back to LA and mix it with the Moog synthesizer that then is used for Disneyland on parade.
At some point after that, according to the Mark Davis book, Bob Jani acquired Sadie may then, and they were going to put this big orchestra and band Oregon, which includes drums and pipes and symbols, and was able to mimic the sounds of trumpets and violins and flutes. And this was going to be on the main stage at Sadie maze at Fort wilderness, as part of this overall show that they were going to perform.
Lou Mongello: Wow. Like I, yeah. I never knew any of that. In terms of the, the, the Providence of, of SAIDI Mae. But I think what's really, what's fascinating about this is, you know, and this goes back to Dick Nunis right. Dick Nunis wanted this frontier town for wilderness, and he wanted the place to be called SAIDI maze palace.
Right. And next door, he was going to have this granny Kincaid farm, where kids were going to pet animals and, and running the hay and sort of, you know, which is not just, which is also sort of an, obviously an homage to waltz, right. Because in his Walt of not just of, of things like railroads, but his love of miniatures.
And [00:50:00] we know about granny and Cade's cabin which you can now find at Walt Disney presents over at Disney's Hollywood studios, but CD amaze palace. The sense I get from the concept. Art is almost a more elegant upscale version of what of what we have, or at least what we had in frontier land in terms of the, this, this sort of Missouri style show palace, where you would not only have this orchestrion, but.
Live actors live, performing performers, audio, animatronic animals, right? Sort of copies of things from like America sings and country beer jam breeze. But it also would have been this combination of theatrical experience and dining experience. The concept art looks like there are, you know, there's a bar around the outside, so I don't get the sense that it's a place that you would go and sit down for a show.
But like we have in frontier land, it was a place to go where a sort of a show was going on throughout the day or multiple, multiple times throughout the day around you using animatronics and live actors with Sadie Mays, sort of being. You know, at the, at the, literally the forefront and center stage.
Kendall Foreman: Yeah. And some of the mechanics of this place, just according to, you know, some of the notes that Mark Davis has, are really interesting too, because it has those side boxes, like what you see at country bears, but instead of them rotating, they, it actually was like an elevator system behind the curtain. So you would have three separate audio animatronic vignettes, and you would have an open space at the bottom, those three vignettes and then an open space at the top, so that you could use like an elevator system to shift, which one was [00:52:00] in the box.
So curtain closes, one moves into place, opens. And these animatronics would have interacted directly timed with the cast members, which I also think is an interesting idea as well. And then, you know, they finished their scene, curtain closes and then behind the scenes that's able to shift up or down so that with the four boxes, they would have been able to have 12 different acts.
Lou Mongello: Yeah. And I wonder if it was going to be like again, frontier land in the seventies where you would need to, do you remember, you're not gonna remember. You have to go to main street USA and get a ticket for one of the shows that was going to be performed throughout the day. So there was sort of a, a cycle of shows.
There was almost like a seating, but without actually seating.
Kendall Foreman: Yeah. I mean, I think there's definitely. It definitely seems like this would have been something that would have been ticketed, just because at that time, like in the annual reports, you see references to this idea of developing a ticket book for Fort wilderness.
It would have included river country and the railroad and adventure house, and most likely SAIDI maze as well.
Lou Mongello: So this almost sounds like, and maybe I'm imagining this wrong. It almost sounds like a unique version of the diamond horseshoe or the, you know, Disneyland's golden horseshoe, but specifically built around and for CD may and again, to make Fort wilderness become a destination resort.
Kendall Foreman: Yeah, definitely. And I, I can't help, but combine Sadie maze with adventure house and think along the lines of. They had planned to build in mineral cane, this concept of you know, a resort in and of itself with this, [00:54:00] you know, an attraction or two. And like earlier, like you said, you know, making Fort wilderness a destination, but I also just can't help to think.
Could this have even today, could you take ideas like this and come up with a separate location? Somewhere else entirely, you know, and then that's probably a wishful thinking on my part, but dust them off and, and find some other place in the country to put Sadie maze and adventure house and a resort.
Lou Mongello: well, I wonder, right. Let's sort of go back to another show that we did together. Talking about the unrealized resorts and the Disney decade go back to the early nineties when newness, they actually announced Buffalo junction. It was later called Fort wilderness. It was, it was Buffalo junction.
Then I think Fort wilderness junction, and then just wilderness junction. They were going to build the 600 room hotel in between Fort wilderness and wilderness lodge. I think this was part of the plan, not just to add hotel rooms, but also to add. A themed sort of a cohesive themed destination. Ken would have something like Sadie maze, probably not adventure house, but would something like CD maze have fit in perfectly there.
I think so. Right. Because now all of a sudden having these three resorts and this literal physical connection between all three makes it sort of this, you know, wilderness type boardwalk, not just resort area, but dining and entertainment area as well.
Kendall Foreman: Yeah, definitely. Definitely. And, and, you know, you mentioned that in the nineties of like what the original plans were for the boardwalk was to have a lot more attraction.
Hold it hold it there then even than what there is today, right? Cause
Lou Mongello: what are they going to [00:56:00] have their own version? Or maybe even just a an exact replica of the Buffalo bill. The, the wild west show from Disneyland Paris was going to be there too. Like it was really going to be this themed, you know, old west, you know, sawdust street type of, I don't want to call it a hotel because it really is a destination.
Kendall Foreman: Yeah. And looking at it, you know, from that viewpoint, like you think about today, like, and, and even at this point, I, in your hall is there they've, they've built pioneer hall. It has opened, they are running the hooptie do review show. So how many people do you have coming to the campground to watch hoop de doo, which actually now that I say that I can, I can tell you, cause it was in one of the annual reports, it, they, they actually said they had twice as many people coming to the campground from the other resorts to see who do you do as what we're staying at the campground.
But even with those numbers, it does make me wonder, like, would you have been able to sustain both of those in the same location? Like with only those, you know, at that point in time, it's only the Polynesian, the contemporary, the golfers or, and the campground. But if you fast forward to the nineties or today, and you have a resort there.
I think you could sustain something like this. I mean, because clearly getting into the spirit of Aloha or getting into hoop T2 hooped, you do review was a pretty tough reservation for a long time.
Lou Mongello: No, I absolutely think something like Sadie maze would not only work. I think it would be welcome. I think it would be ridiculously popular, especially if, and when they ever do build this third of the wilderness resorts.
And I honestly, Kendall, I think something like an adventure house, not necessarily as it was specifically laid out, but I think a version and [00:58:00] variation of it could work too, because. Relatively speaking. It is a simpler concept to execute why it is less reliant on, and I'm not saying this is a good or a bad thing.
And just in terms of the, the probability of something like this happening, it's a self-sustaining attraction where the only cast members that you would need would be the hosts and the guides walking through it, as opposed to Sadie Mays. And look, I love live entertainment. I would love to see this.
There's obviously a lot more that goes into it in terms of entertainment, in terms of server, it also means that there's a higher potential of revenue generation from it. So it does necessarily possibly become even more attractive as something to do because there is less of a mechanical technology that has to be built.
So you can argue easily for one, or for both.
Kendall Foreman: You know, like you say, with the adventure house in, in today's world, if you take a concept like that and add, you know, the Instagram component, you know, the, the social media component, because you see the popularity of things. And obviously this is a very, a very different concept, but like you see the popularity of places like Meow Wolf or the museum of ice cream that, you know, their, their walks they're, they're relatively simple.
In in execution and, but people love them. I mean, definitely both hard tickets to get. I mean, I think when museum of ice cream, oh, open, I think that was like a sellout for the first year that it was open. So there are ways even to that today with as simple of a design, as some of these things were to make them relevant.
Lou Mongello: And I think you're right. And I think sort of utilizing the examples that, that you [01:00:00] mentioned. I think we as guests, we as consumers want things that are. We've shifted from 1955 perspectives in a, in a lot of ways. But in terms of, from an entertainment perspective, we don't, aren't necessarily just satisfied getting into a vehicle and being shown what the quote unquote directors want you to see.
We want to have some sort of interactive element to it. We want some sort of say, we want some sort of participatory type of thing. You wonder if something like. Low slash high tech walk through attraction might satisfy something like that. It's not something that is scary. It is something that remains family friendly.
If it is hosted and walked through, you can obviate the clearly easy problem of guest flow, guest accessibility, et cetera. I think it could work. I think it could be something that would be unique and incredibly popular as well, and something people would be willing to pay for.
Kendall Foreman: Yeah. And I think, you know, with all that in mind, then the question becomes like, why, why did, why didn't this happen?
Was it just, you know, wrong place, wrong time, maybe, you know, the, the walkthrough wasn't the best concept for that time. But I think the biggest reason why this didn't become a thing is. Is the fact that at the end of the seventies, you can see, you look at annual reports from 76, 77, 78, right? When this is, these concepts are coming about, those in your parts are dominated by nothing but Epcot.
It was all hands on deck for Epcot. And, and I don't, you know, [01:02:00] I, I don't have personal information for, you know, firsthand primary source information on this, but you have to think that all attention went there and everything else that wasn't already in progress. Right. Push it aside.
Lou Mongello: Yeah. I think that's a great point.
But the hope is that, like we said, no good idea ever dies. I mean, we talked again, we talked back on show 6 30, 2 about some of the unrealized. What does the world attractions specifically of the Disney decade, but Kendall there's obviously a lot more. I just made up the term hidden history in terms of concepts that we almost got and who knows we might still get.
And that's a gentle tease towards inviting you back to do this again. I'm not sure if we ever talked about the unrealized Oz attraction and some of the other things that even just, we see in the Mark Davis concept and sketchbook. But it is always fun to, to not just look back, but also to look forward and speculate, not just what was, but what might be listen, I would, in a heartbeat, I would you build this adventure house exactly as Davis conceptualized it.
And I would be all in because this has everything that we love specifically about Mark Davis, the, the wit and the whimsy and the fun that we, that we don't necessarily get a chance to see. So I would love to certainly do this again. I will post a link in the show notes, not just to other shows that we've done, but if you go to www.com, go click on the little search icon to search for Kendall foreman.
She is not only been with me on a number of shows, but as a prolific blog writer as well. And oh, by the way, I have to just say it. Your Legman Lego figment. Mosaic is just amazing.
Kendall Foreman: Thank you. That was, it was a [01:04:00] labor of love and he is sitting in my office right now. And, and I really hope that there's, you know, listeners readers out there who were encouraged to either, you know, make their own figment or come up with their own Lego mosaic designs from seeing those posts.
Lou Mongello: And if people want to connect with you or follow you elsewhere on social, where can or should they.
Kendall Foreman: You can find me at KL and underscore foreman, F O R E M a N on Twitter. And then you'll also just find me interacting in the, on the clubhouse page on Facebook. And then obviously, as you mentioned I've got posts coming out fairly regularly on the WDW radio blog.
Lou Mongello: Awesome ghetto. This was a great idea. A lot of fun really appreciate it.
Kendall Foreman: Absolutely.