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Back in August 2014 we released what we affectionally refer to as the "Pristine Film". The color/clarity of the film and the freshness of the Magic Kingdom led to this moniker and it has stuck ever since. Fast forward to 2017...we've learned a lot about film restoration and we recently setup a brand new computer with an all new workflow that is faster and produces more accurate results. What better film to test this out on than the first film that proved the Jugle Cruise frogs existed!

We recently stopped increasing the frame rate to 30fps in our restorations, instead we are leaving the films as they were original shot (18fps). Yes there is a bit of "flicker"; but we wanted to keep the nostalgia and feel of the original film. Additionally we added the original 1971 WDW Overature to add a bit of depth and interest while watching. Purists may choose to mute their speakers! As with the original restoration the clips of the Mickey Mouse Review, Small World, Tiki Birds and Country Bears were left on the cutting room floor as most of it was too dark - but don't worry we've got some incredible footage of one of those coming up in a few months! Enjoy!

Below is the text from original our original article:

After the obligatory pan of Main Street USA, we can see the Christmas decorations are up for the holiday season. A view from the Plaza restaurant shows construction just beyond Tomorrowland and the original yellow Swan Boat landing. From there, the film dives into a world of scenery and landscape - beautifully showing how the park was just after opening. Incredible shots of 20k, Fantasyland, and the Sunshine Tree Terrace. The now famous Jungle Cruise Frogs make their appearance at the 3:17 mark followed by the remainder of the attraction, sans any dense foliage. Shots from the Seven Seas Lagoon and Main Street round out the day followed by some wonderful shots of Liberty Square, Frontierland and Tomorrowland all lit by twilight. The film ends at sunset, panning over from one of the bridges on the hub with just a hint of the castle in silhouette.

The serene exterior/entrance to Pirates of The Caribbean in our latest souvenir film restoration stands in stark contrast to the busy area we see today. The ride footage opens after the opening scenes as boats approach the galleon just after the famous "drop". For those more familiar with the Pirates of the last decade where Barbosa from the Hollywood film is captain of the ship this film gives you a good glimpse of the original pirate captain.

As the fort battles the pirates our boats glide into the waterways of the town.  There are excellent closeups of a lot of the original ride animatronics, which were a little more rudimentary in appearance than they are today, especially noticeable with the wench brides. Immediately after you see the original scene of the pirates chasing the 2 of the local women. These were the setup for the gag of a third woman, stouter that the others, chasing the pirate. This scene was changed in the early 1990's to all the women chasing the pirates in response to complaints about Imagineer Marc Davis's original gag.

For the most part what you'll notice is how little much of the ride has changed (aside from the film references and characters added in the 2000's) - except that dog holding the key which seems to completely change his look every dozen years or so.

Overall this souvenir film probably captures the attraction better than any of the others Disney sold at the time.

Wednesday, 01 February 2017 14:55

Jungle Cruise - Restored 8mm Souvenir Film

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Our restoration of Disney 8mm souvenir films next takes us to Adventureland's legendary Jungle Cruise. The film opens with the earliest of Jungle Cruise's many signs and entrance designs over the years. We see ships leaving the dock and entering a covered thicket canopy which you might not recognize because you're usually sailing under it and looking at the giant butterflies on either side of you.

As Rutshuru Ruby glides past ruins and waterfalls we see our first
wildife: a giant snake! (that doesn't appear to be moving). The next is one of a series of cool shots showing you the boat from the perspective
of the animals and ride scenes.  It's also noteworthy how thin some the
vegetation on the banks of the ride was before it had 40 years to grow.

The film takes us into the darkened temple and we see those ride scenes before 40 years of enhancements were made to them (it seems every time Jungle Cruise goes down for refurbishment they tinker with that scene).

The elephant bathing pool and wading hippos give way to footage of the famous (now retried) firing cap guns. You'll see the overturned jeep that is still in the ride but you won't see the back half of the airplane that appears today. That wasn't added until 1989 (when the front half was used in Disney-MGM studios Great Movie Ride in the Casablanca scene).

After passing the headhunting natives we glide back safely from the jungle to the wilds of Adventureland. High time for a Citrus Swirl from Sunshine Tree Terrace to refresh yourself.

 

Wednesday, 01 February 2017 13:01

It's a Small World - Restored 8mm Souvenir Film

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NOTE: This restoration has a soundtrack added; the original film was silent.

Our series of restored Disney souvenir films takes us around the world on the Happiest Cruise That Ever Sailed. it's a small world is, perhaps, Disney's most famous attraction. The original premiered at the
1964-65 New York World's Fair in Flushing Meadows, NY before moving to Disneyland in 1966.

In 1971 it's a small world was an opening day attraction at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World and is the second of an eventual five copies of the attraction (the others are in Paris, Hong Kong and Tokyo).

The souvenir film shows the attraction's exterior with the Seven Dwarves apparently protesting it for some reason. We sail through Europe and Africa, South and North America, The Arctic and Antarctic, Australia, Asia and everywhere in between. Much like the Country Bears the changes here have been minimal over the years - improvements almost always being visual as opposed to material changes to the ride content.

The film condition prevents us from really seeing Imagineer Mary Blair's brilliant use of color and whimsy but you get a nice glimpse of ride footage that home movie makers rarely captured due to the difficulty shooting 8mm home movies in dark conditions.
 

Wednesday, 01 February 2017 12:53

Country Bear Jamboree - Restored 8mm Souvenir Film

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Our restoration of Disney souvenir films continues with a look at Frontierland's iconic Country Bear Jamboree. This attraction was the brainchild of Imagineer Marc Davis and was originally intended as entertainment to be offered at Walt Disney's never built Mineral King ski resort in California near Sequoia National Forest.

The film opens with a view of the attraction entrance and exterior. Note the sign showing the two original sponsors Pepsi and Frito-Lay. This is of note for two reasons. First, because these were the only two sponsors the attraction ever had from 1971-1981. Second, this was a time when Pepsi co-existed in the parks with Coke, which has been the main soft drink supplier to the resort since it opened and sponsored attractions in the park at the same time. Some restaurants even offered both Pepsi AND Coke during Pepsi's sponsorship days.

The attraction footage begins with the opening scene showing the bears in their original splendor. While you won't note many glaring differences from the show you see today you may note today's animatronics look a little more colorful. Some of that is owed to advances in technology of their synthetic exteriors. However, some of that is due to a 2012 refurbishment which controversially trimmed a few minutes from the show.

At that time several of the bears got completely new fur done in colors and hues more closely matching Marc Davis's original concept art. As the scenes haven't really changed over the years this film will seem very familiar to most of you.

One of our recent acquisitions was 6 different WDW souvenir films - each 3 minutes and each featuring a different attraction. Most WDW souvenir films had a longer run time and generally featured a whirlwind tour of the Magic Kingdom, but 6 these films are rare and unique in that they focus an entire 3 minutes on an attraction.

In the days of film no one would take a camera on a ride; the cost, size, weight and lack of low light sensitivity made doing so just awkward, expensive or downright dangerous. Disney wanted you to promote the resort for them in your living room,  so they would shoot high quality footage of the attractions with the proper lighting and cameras. Most were shot on 16mm film and then down converted to 8mm for the home market. These films were sold in the parks and were designed to be shown at home to their friends and family. A simple $3-$4 souvenir made them money and was free advertising.

Technically speaking, the majority of souvenir films were printed on inexpensive 8mm film. The quality of the dyes on the film is so poor that even after 40 some years of storage in a shrink-wrapped never-before-opened box, these films had faded. There is something to be said about Kodachrome and the longevity of the color and quality. Once transferred we did extensive color balancing on each of the scenes trying to get them as close as the original. We have not been able to find any other copies of these films in viewable condition anywhere. Be sure to check out both versions of the film!

1. Final Restored footage with added Soundtrack

Our visit to River Country begins looking across Bay Lake at the Contemporary Resort Hotel from the top of the Ol’ Swimmin’ Hole’s slide. As the camera pans back you get a good glimpse of River Country’s swimming pool, barrel bridge and filtered Bay Lake water fed swimming hole just beyond the chlorine swimming pool in the foreground. It give you a nice glimpse of what the place was all about.

We see guests hopping and sliding into the chlorine pool. Check out the size of those drops from the slide into the water! Then the zip line, inner tube slide and wading pool of the lake-fed pool is featured. We also get to ride along with guests going down the biggest and fastest slide in River Country (the one WDW President Dick Nunis is alleged to have careened over the side of once). What a wild way to close out this short souvenir film!


2. Original vs Restored Footage Comparison

There isn't much footage out there of River Country and to find this film uncovered some of the best footage we've ever seen of the now shuttered park. It even features POV (Point of View) on ride footage of Whoop 'n Holler Hollow slides! Before watching the film with the additional soundtrack added, take a look at this comparison film showing the original and restored film compared. This film was a mess, but we were able to bring back as much color as we could with out making it look artificial.

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