The Pointer Sisters sing Neutron Dance at Disneyland’s 30th Anniversary

In 1985 they broadcast a very memorable celebration for Disneyland’s 30th Anniversary. I cannot recall where I got a VHS copy of this special, but at some point in the 1980s it started getting heavy play in my VCR. The special has a lot of great moments, but my favorite is when the Pointer Sisters sing Neutron Dance.

It is a great 80’s moment filled with high energy and Neutron Dance is the perfect song to capture that energy. Two things make it even more special. First is the addition of the floats and characters from Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade. Second is what looks to be a chorus line of TRON dancers!

TRON dancers

Okay, so I am not sure if they are really supposed to be TRON dancers. But it would be so perfect. You know Disney had a lot of TRON costumes lying around and using TRON in the Neutron dance is just too perfect. It is just the perfect amount of inspired wordplay-based laziness that I would hope for from an 80’s television special.

Read The Pointer Sisters: “Neutron Dance” from Beverly Hills Cop

Are you curious about what the Neutron Dance is all about? According to Allee Willis who wrote the song,

Neutron Dance” was written in hopes of being placed on the soundtrack of the film Streets of Fire. “We were told that there was a scene on a bus that was leaving town after there had been this nuclear holocaust, and that a ’50s doo-wop black group was going to be at the back of the bus that the lead couple was escaping on. Danny Sembello and I just met that day. I was very disinterested in songwriting at that point, and I’m writing with this kid who’s never had a record before, and I just wanted to get him in and out.

He was a phenomenal keyboard player, and I just said: ‘Play the most common sounding old-fashioned ’50s black music bass line that you can think of.’ And he just started doing the rhythm for “Neutron Dance”. And I’m someone who could write a melody to a spoon falling on the table. So I literally sang that melody down. First time down, he just kind of followed and went to the right places. And then I said, Let’s just write this quick lyric. We’re taking a half an hour on the lyric, and this thing’s gonna get done.

The song would be featured in Beverly Hill Cop and would chart. Eventually topping out at number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. Not bad for 30 minutes of work.

Watch the Pointer Sisters sing Neutron Dance at Disneyland

TRON Love Scene

Was this scene from TRON too “sexy” for audiences?

Disney’s TRON was a risk for the studio. It was a more “adult” film, but you might be surprised to learn that the film was almost a little more “adult” in nature. Like many films, extra scenes were shot for TRON that wound up on the cutting room floor. Some of those scenes are cut early, but with TRON, you can tell when a scene was cut by how much animation was done for it. It is a good indication of just how close the scene was to making the final cut.

In this scene TRON and YORI visit her “apartment”. It is a plain room, but not for long. With a wave of her arms, not only does the apartment transform in an amazing bit of animation, but YORI herself changes. Turning from:

yori tron sexy

into

tron sexy

People who worked on the film have differing opinions as to why the scene was cut (we also get one dissenting opinion). Director Steven Lisberger thought the scene was too sentimental, while star Bruce Boxleitner remarked in the anniversary DVD that it was just confusing. Bringing into question the sexuality of what up to this scene had been depicted as anthropomorphized computer programs. Visual Effects Supervisor Harrison Ellenshaw believed the scene added a lot to the film.

I tend to agree. It adds a deeper level of humanity to these programs. Something we would get more of a dose of in TRON Legacy. If it had been in the original cut of the film, it would have been something TRON fans would have been discussing for decades afterwards. Instead we get a great, but more sanitized version of the film.

Here is the entire scene in its scintillating glory. Do you think it was best left out?

For more information on TRON, check out the TRON Retroist Podcast and the TRON Diary of an Arcade Employee Podcast. (Yes, we love TRON at the Retroist.)

sexy tron

Did you know that Disney’s Robin Hood had an Alternate Ending?

Disney’s Robin Hood is a very cute telling of the Robin Hood story. It’s one of my two favorite versions of Robin Hood – The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Errol Flynn being the other. I have enjoyed watching Disney’s Robin Hood for years. What I did not know until recently was that this animated movie originally had a different ending.

Just to give a little background, in both versions, a ways into the movie, all of the townspeople start singing a song that calls Prince John the phony King of England. Prince John becomes so angry at the people that he triples taxes. Friar Tuck and most of the other townspeople are imprisoned because they cannot pay Prince John’s tripled taxes. Prince John has ordered that Friar Tuck be hung for high treason against the crown. Robin Hood breaks into the castle to rescue Friar Tuck and the townspeople and to get back their money from Prince John. The people and money are rescued, but the castle catches fire and Robin has to jump into the moat to escape.

This is point where the story changes.

In the original ending, Robin is wounded in the moat. Little John takes him to the church to recover. Maid Marian is by his side and Little Sister, the mouse, is treating him.

Prince John and Sir Hiss trail Robin to the church. Prince John has a knife in his hand, ready to kill Robin. Maid Marian is frightened because Robin is unconscious and unable to defend himself. King Richard shows up just in time and saves the day.

Then Robin and Marian get married just like in the movie.

Here’s a copy of the original ending in storyboard form.

Metalhead3213

In the final version that was used in the animated movie, Robin uses a reed to breathe while swimming under water and swims to safety. Sir Hiss tells Prince John that he tried to warn him, and to look at what he did to his mother’s castle. Prince John exclaims “Mummy!,” and sucks his thumb.

Prince John

It was great to be able to see what an alternate ending might have been, but I’m glad the movie turned out the way it did. I like the version that made it into the movie because it adds a sense of comic relief and lightheartedness to a previously tense scene. I prefer where Robin is not injured and looks like a hero to the end. In the alternate version, King Richard has to rescue Robin Hood from certain death. I think that ending makes Robin look less heroic.

If you like this post and Robin Hood, check out these Robin Hood cakes on my blog Between the Pages.

Why not Water-Ski at Walt Disney World?

Walt Disney World, as everyone is told, is a magical place. During your visit you can meet Mickey Mouse, visit the famous castle and maybe catch a ride or two… oh and of course you can water-ski too.

That last part was true in 1976 when this wonderful map was produced. As you’ll see in some of the close-ups below, the Magic Kingdom was a very different place in the 70’s with as much emphasis placed on enjoying a round of golf as looping around the park on the monorail.

walt disney golf

I found this great map and lots more over at the now-defunct Imaginerding Blog. Thankfully the creator of the site has kept the Blogger-powered site available after upgrading to a full website.

magic kingdom

I wonder if the latest Magic Kingdom map reflects the era of the “selfie” that we now live in? Gone are the innocent times of simply standing back and taking a picture of Mickey with your proper camera, like the picture above!

Walt Disney World Vacation Letter from 1985

As a kid (and maybe as an adult), I had a bad Disney problem. I could never get enough of anything Disney. This thirst extended into the realm of ephemera. I would cut out Disney ads from magazines and newspapers, I would save every scrap of everything when my family visited the parks and when Disney offered to send information about their magical parks via TV commercials, I picked up the phone and called right away.

This letter is from 1985 and I am pretty sure when I called them they made me put my mother on the phone because they were just not buying me being old enough to be the decision maker in the household. Good for me, my Mother was usually game when it came to sending away for free stuff. The only downside is that I did this sort of thing so often that we were on every junk mail list in the country and even up until recently my Mother was always throwing away weird catalogs and strange offers.

In the letter above, Disney is promising the most “Star-Spangled-est” Summer ever! We didn’t make it down there that summer, but I am sure if Disney promised they were going to bathe you in the electric glow of patriotic amazing-ness, that is exactly what they did.

I checked all the commercial online and found a couple of gems from 1985, but nothing especially patriotic. Although both were memorable, including a standard “Together at Disney” commercial:

and this amazing The Cosby Family at Disney version:

Since I couldn’t find a patriotic one, here is Molly Ringwald sing the Star Spangled Banner on Yankee Doodle Mickey.