Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Indian Elephant Wading Pool, 1962

“And look at all the elephants on the river today! This comes as a complete surprise to me ‘cause I had no idea these guys were going to be here. If you want to take pictures, go right ahead. All the elephants have their trunks on.”

That horribly bad pun is one of the elements that makes the Indian Elephant Wading Pool a favorite part of the Jungle Cruise attraction at Disneyland. In 1962, the elephant wading pool scene was one of the "pluses" Walt had added to this Adventureland favorite. Here are the publicity blurbs that accompanied the three Marc Davis concept art shots seen below:

Nearly two dozen life-size Indian elephants like these playful fellows will splash and squirt and spray at Disneyland this Summer in the new Adventureland Jungle River Cruise. Big ones and "little squirts," they'll cavort for explorers taking the boat trip down jungle waterways, where a new African Veldt complete with lions, tigers, zebras, giraffe, laughing hyenas and other animals is also taking shape for June opening. The two-year, $7 Million Disneyland expansion will also include the "world's largest" Tree House for Summer '62.

A portion of the nearly two dozen Indian elephants being added to Disneyland's jungle river cruise is viewed here in the artist's sketches. Big ones and "little squirts," the elephants will frolic and splash in the waters of Adventureland beginning in June. The "world's largest" Tree House, three unique restaurants operated by nationally known Stouffer's company, and a "Safari Shooting Gallery" comprise the 1962 portion of Disneyland's two-year $7 Million expansion.

This portion of the attraction can still be enjoyed today, as seen in these recent shots that I took during my last visit to the park:

In Disney home video news, "Once Upon a Time" is now out on Blu ray/DVD. I'm not good about watching TV and following a weekly series. I much prefer to wait until the home video is out, so that I can watch the episodes all at once! I hate having to wait a week to see what's next. If you are the same way, then you'd better put a day or two aside as this first season collection will keep you busy for awhile. Stylish, well told, and extremely creative, I thoroughly enjoyed each episode.

As an extra bonus today, here's an interview with Lana Parrilla, aka The Evil Queen/Regina Mills:

Master storytellers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (executive producers of Lost and writers of TRON: Legacy) invite audiences to experience an intriguing twist to the classic fairytales of Snow White, Pinocchio, Red Riding Hood and many more in their thrilling new fantasy series Once Upon A Time. Packed with enchanting icons from the world’s most beloved stories, the show stars a host of talented actors including Ginnifer Goodwin, Josh Dallas, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla and Robert Carlyle.

Did you research the mythology of the Evil Queen in the Snow White fairytales when you signed up for Once Upon A Time?

I tried to do a ton of research into the character because I was very intrigued by the role. Thankfully, I found a huge book with a lot of notes on her and it was interesting to read so many different interpretations of her character. I shared the book with Robert Carlyle [who plays Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold in the show] and I think he learned a lot, too.

Is it tough to play such an iconic character?

No, I wouldn’t say it’s been tough. Instead, it’s been a lot of fun. I did a lot of homework to ensure I didn't play evil for the sake of playing evil. I wanted to understand why the Evil Queen is the way she is.

What did you discover about the Evil Queen during your research?

I believe there is a deeper pain inside of her. It’s not like she’s thinking, ‘I want to destroy her so that I can be prettier.’ In fact, I don’t think about the vanity aspect of her character at all when I’m playing her. From the moment I took on the role I thought about things like, ‘What did Snow White do to the Queen? Why does she want to kill Snow White so badly?’

Are those two questions answered in Season One of the show?

In the first four episodes of the show, you learn lots – but I don’t want to give away any spoilers to people who haven’t seen the show. It’s fun to be able to watch the show for yourself and uncover the various plot points.

Do you feel any pressure in playing such an iconic character?

Perhaps not in the way that Ginnifer Goodwin feels when she plays Snow White in our show. It’s different for the Evil Queen. Her story has been broken down into so many different cultures and languages – and there are so many different stories about her. The story that I grew up reading was the one in which the Evil Queen asks the Huntsman to bring back Snow White’s heart, but there are many more versions than that.

What other interpretations of her story did you enjoy?

I enjoyed a lot of different stories, but when I was researching the role I discovered a fascinating Spanish version. It described the Evil Queen as a character who would use an eye or a thumb as a bottle stopper. That was something incredibly sinister and new that I hadn’t heard about before.

The Evil Queen’s story has such a varied history. Do you get to play the character the way you want to play her?

Early on, I spoke to [executive producers and show creators] Adam Horowitz and Eddie Kitsis about this. They told me they were trying to do something different with the fairytale characters, which was really interesting to me. It’s nice to have the history of these different renditions of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs but, as I hope we've proved during Season One, we definitely have our own take on it.

Will that continue in the second season?

I certainly hope we will stay open to that idea. We get to learn a lot about the characters in Season One, but I’m sure there’s much more to come. It’s fun to see so many more sides to these famous characters than anyone has ever seen before. I think it’s especially fascinating to see the conflicting vulnerability in all of these iconic villains.

Why do you think fairytales are so appealing to audiences around the world?

These are the stories that everyone has read, with characters that everyone can relate to. There is a moral in every story, so you get a life lesson just by reading one. They have a timeless appeal. They are magical and enthralling. They are thrilling to read.

Why do you think there’s been a recent resurgence in the genre on television and in movies?

If you look around, there is so much destruction and so many disasters in the world today. I think we all need to dream a little bit. There is hope out there and that’s what these fairytales are about. That’s why they were written for children: to dream, to fantasize, and to hope for something.

Has it been difficult to show the contrast between the Evil Queen and your other character in the show, Regina Mills?

I like to think I’ve worked pretty hard at showing the contrast between the two characters. The Evil Queen is very powerful and she puts everything out there. She’s open in her quest, whereas Regina masks everything. They are very different, so it’s been an easy task to separate them.

Do you enjoy playing the villain?

Yes, because the villains are always the most fun to play. They are the most challenging, but if you dig deeper you find the jewels in them.

Did you always dream about playing an iconic villain like the Evil Queen?

As a child, I never wanted to be a princess. Instead, I always wanted to play a witch. I love the ocean and I loved The Little Mermaid, so Ursula was always my favorite character. I preferred to pretend to be a sea witch rather than anything else.

How easy is it for you to connect to the Evil Queen on a human level?

Robert Carlyle plays Rumplestiltskin on the show and he has compared our portrayal of these evil characters to Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver. Remember when he speaks to the mirror and says, “Are you talkin’ to me?” He’s looking in the mirror and he’s by himself in monologue. You’ve got to be a smart actor and you’ve got to make some really bold choices to connect with the audience on such a human level like that. I hope we do something similar with our portrayals in the show.

Is it difficult to stop yourself from going over-the-top or campy with your portrayal of the Evil Queen?

Whenever I’m playing a character, I’m always thinking about what motivates them and what they are feeling – but I know when to pull pack. When it comes to the villainous portrayal of the Evil Queen, it’s all about honesty. You have to focus on something that’s truthful about her and the acting follows through.

Do you think the script offers many campy lines for the Evil Queen?

Our lines can be campy and over-the-top, but it’s our responsibility as actors to make some honest choices and keep the scenes believable. I feel that we’ve all managed to do that successfully in the cast, so it’s not a worry for us. To be honest, we look forward to receiving the scripts and discovering what fun things we have to say each week.

How much have you enjoyed working on the show in Season One?

I’ve had a complete blast. I think any time an actor is handed a script where you get to play two roles is pretty awesome. It’s an incredibly fun show to work on and it’s great to work on a project where everyone in the team gets along so well. You know what? I can’t wait for Season Two.

I can't wait either!

See more vintage and current Disneyland Jungle Cruise photos on my Jungle Cruise web page.


K. Martinez said...

Love the concept art of the elephants for the bathing pool.

Rich T. said...

I love the guests' reaction every time the bathing pool comes into view. No matter how many times you see it, coming upon it like that in the jungle is always such a surreal, wonderful, knock-out moment.

Great interview! I enjoyed a lot of Once Upon a Time, but it always bugs me when anyone treats Alice in Wonderland and Pinocchio as if they're part of Grimm's Fairy Tales. And I kept wondering: the fairy tale world is depicted as so dark, dreary, tragic, violent and depressing...why on earth would *anyone* every want to return there? The modern little town they're now "trapped" in is paradise compared to what they had before! Maybe they'll deal with that in Season two...