Sunday, February 27, 2011

Retro 71

This week’s Retro 71 shirt is completely era-driven. I wanted to incorporate some unique designs into the apparel line that didn't necessarily rely on an attraction. Instead, I wanted to play around with the general feel of 1970's apparel design. I've seen a few shirts on the market that pull off this same look—most of which are sports-related—and every time I see these shirts, I instantly think of Walt Disney World. It might have to do with the typography of the shirts.

Nothing says ‘70s to me more than the classic typeface Avant Garde Gothic. Avant Garde Gothic is one of my favorite typefaces because it was designed by my favorite typographer, Herb Lubalin. He based the typeface on a logo he had created for the magazine, Avant Garde. The demand for a font based on the logo was in such high demand that he and a fellow typographer, Tom Carnase, designed the full-fledged typeface in 1970. My second favorite typographer, Ed Benguiat, later created a condensed version of the font in 1974.

I extended the font by creating the diagonals, and I added the Walt Disney World logo to the design. Also, no Retro 71 shirt concept could be complete without some aged distressing to the design. I personally feel this shirt sums up the attitude of an era, and it reminds me of both Tomorrowland and the Contemporary Resort because Avant Garde Gothic is prevalent in both places. Well that about does it for this week. Tune in on Friday for another typography case study and thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Space Mountain

In this week’s case study we take a look at the typography of Tomorrowland's Space Mountain. Space Mountain is the brainchild of WDI legend, John Hench, who began designing the attraction in the early 60's for a revamp of Disneyland's Tomorrowland. With the desire to appeal to an older demographic, Walt Disney World management felt the Resort needed a high-speed "thrill" ride similar to Disneyland's Matterhorn Bobsleds, and Space Mountain was their answer.  After many revisions, the attraction officially opened at the Walt Disney Resort in 1975. Many of Hench's early concept sketches differ dramatically from what was finally built — here is just one example of what could have been: WYW Model.

Space Mountain became an instant classic, and Disneyland soon followed suit with the construction of its own version. Today, Space Mountain appears in every Disney theme park across the globe with a few subtle theme variations.

The typography of Space Mountain, which has evolved over the years due to various refurbishments, falls into three main classifications: Sans Serifs, Art Deco and Retro. We could even go as far as describing the themes, such as techno, LCD, comic, etc.

As discussed in my earlier case study on the Wedway Peoplemover, Sans Serif fonts are the fonts of the future: they’re progressive, sleek, and in some cases, futuristic. Various weights and treatments are present within the font palette of Space Mountain.  In the 90's, designers began to incorporate Art Deco fonts with their elongated x-heights, sharp serifs and terminals which convey both the old (one foot in the past) and the new (one foot in the present). More recently, designers have begun to add retro-themed fonts to help support the comic book/Buck Rogers feel of Tomorrowland. Most of the retro fonts are script-based fonts derived from the Atomic Age of the 1950s and 60s.

The fonts and type used for Space Mountain provides viewers with a glimpse into the unknown that speaks of classic science fiction; a sort of H.G. Wells meets Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. The steel structure looms in the distance, beckoning guests to Tomorrowland where Mission Control prepares their voyage into the true final frontier.

Well that about does it for this week. Tune in next week for a new Retro 71 shirt concept and case study. Thanks for coming by.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Retro 71

This week’s Retro 71 shirt concept is from the long-withdrawn Magic Kingdom classic, If You Had Wings.
Located in Tomorrowland, If You Had Wings was one of the original attractions in the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World resort. Since travel and flight were the main themes of the attraction, IYHW saw its fair share of travel industry sponsors over time, such as Eastern Air Lines, then later Delta Airlines. The attraction was somewhat of a carbon copy of Disneyland's Adventure Thru Inner Space: both attractions were dark rides that utilized the same Omnimover track system, and both were designed by one of my favorite Disney Imagineers, Claude Coates. Both were located in Tomorrowland, and whether or not it was intentional, both attractions had four-word names.

 IYHW, however, seemed to change names with every change in sponsorship: If You Could Fly in 1987, Delta Dreamflight in 1990 and Disney's Take Flight in 1997. The attraction closed its doors in 1998, but has since been reimagineered by WDI to what is now known as Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin.
Even though this attraction had a more contemporary theme, it still felt at home in Tomorrowland. Most remember the short lines, the air conditioning and that classic theme song written by Buddy Baker and X Atencio.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s Retro 71 concept and could imagine adding it to your growing Retro 71 apparel collection. Tune in Friday for another Disney attraction typography case study. See ya real soon!

Friday, February 18, 2011

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

In this week’s case study we look at the typography from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Not too much reference material exists when looking at the now-retired Walt Disney World attraction, so thank goodness for the alive-and-well Tokyo DisneySea. 

From a typography standpoint, 20,000 Leagues is the missing link in the transition from the more medieval-era fonts of Fantasyland to the ultramodern fonts of Tomorrowland. 20,000 Leagues uses a combination of Slab Serifs, Egyptian/Egyptienne, and some of the other classifications of type seen in the previous lands, mainly Adventureland and Frontierland. One font in this week’s case study isn't present within the parks, but it should be. Typographer and designer David Occhino designed an amazing display font titled Nautilus. Inspired by the novel and Harper Goff, the typeface is completely accurate in theme and time period. Be sure to check it out, especially the Barbed and Barbed Submerged versions. No Disney font collection would be complete without this typeface.  

20,000 Leagues features classic serif fonts accurate to the time period of this Jules Verne classic. Tokyo DisneySea accomplishes this same effect while incorporating more of a steampunk feel, mixing elegant Victorian-style fonts with hard-edged, bold slab serif fonts. Both attractions utilize steampunk fonts to some degree, but it is definitely more prevalent at Tokyo DisneySea. Disney Designers also added a few typefaces that aren't really related to the time period such as art nouveau style fonts. While these fonts may not be accurate to the era nor to the genre, they do have a nautical, underwater look to them.

20,000 Leagues was/is the perfect attraction for a typeractive person like myself. As always, thanks for stopping by and remember to tune in Sunday for a new Retro 71 shirt concept. See ya soon!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Retro 71

This week’s Retro 71 shirt design is based on 1980's Walt Disney World Resort branding. This branding was used mainly on gift store boxes and bags within the Magic Kingdom.

At a certain point in time it was a Terpstra tradition to search the shops of Main Street U.S.A. to find the perfect souvenir for my grandmother. As I recall, my mother had one particular shop she enjoyed, the name of which eludes me. I never shopped with my mother when I was little – I would probably have been found across the street with my dad in the Magic Shop. But each year it seems my mom would purchase these delicately hand-painted Italian porcelain flowers for my grandmother. These object d'art sit in my grandma’s formal living room to this day with WDW price tags still fixed to the bottom.

It wasn't until I was older and rummaging around my grandma's closets that I came across the package that one of those flowers came in. I remember picking up the box in amazement – not only did it bring back memories of those early trips to the kingdom, but now, as a student with an interest in design, the pattern blew me away! The color palette was shocking and vibrant with its bright yellows, pepto-bismol pinks, warm oranges and cool purples. The design was vacation-driven with images of what all Walt Disney World Resort had to offer; a hula dancer from the Polynesian Village, the majestic tower of the Contemporary Resort, Cinderella’s Castle, a Space Mountain vehicle rocketing through the air, the iconic architecture details of one the shops from Lake Buena Vista Village, Dumbo taking flight, the Monorail, and of course Mickey Mouse.

The layout and composition of the collage makes me think of all my past vacations – small venues of magic and happiness.

Well that about does it for today. See you all back here on Friday for a new Disney Typography case study. As always thanks for stopping by.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Enchanted Tiki Room

In this week’s case study we look at Disney's own tropical oasis, The Enchanted Tiki Room. The original Tiki Room opened in the early sixties, when Polynesian pop was at its peak. This Americanized take on Polynesian culture quickly evolved into heightened kitsch, and as countless tiki-themed bars and hotels popped up all over the states, it was only fitting that Walt would want to design an attraction based on this craze. Originally conceptualized as a dining experience, Walt and his Imagineers felt the new-fangled Audio-Animatronic birds could carry their own weight as a floor show attraction.

 The typography used to help establish The Enchanted Tiki Room comes from the early to mid-sixties. Most of the display fonts are heavily themed to reflect the Oceanic cultures represented within the attraction. A few of our classic Disney fonts make their appearances in the signage, such as the popular typeface Bookman Swash, which appears in two other attractions within the parks. A few classic serif fonts are used here and there, most likely to ease the viewer’s eye. The Enchanted Tiki Room also includes a few hand-carved and hand-painted fonts. Out of love for this classic Disney attraction, a few typographers such as David Occhino and Brian Bonislawsky have taken the time to recreate these one-of-a-kind fonts.

Over time, designers have added more tropical tiki-themed fonts through various refurbishments and enhancements. Unfortunately (or thankfully, depending on how you see it), you will not see any of the WDW “Under New Management” fonts in today's case study poster.  Well that about wraps it up for this week. I raise my tiki mug of Otto's Octane to you, Mahalo.  See you next week for another exciting look into the wonderful world of Disney typography, and be sure to stop by Sunday evening for another Retro 71 shirt concept.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Retro 71

This week’s product post is something different. Don't worry, next week we'll continue with more Retro 71 shirt concepts, but this week I wanted to showcase another avenue of product development. I have ideas for more than just softlines, guys. 
The one thing that Disney Theme Park Merchandise lacks is “story”. With Disney putting so much emphasis on the theme park attractions telling guests a story, I have to ask, why then, doesn't the merchandise? Now, granted, we all know that most of the in-park merchandise is lacking. We all want more than just keychains and ink pens—we want more specific stuff. Case in point: Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The merchandise sold within the Islands of Adventure land is doing it right. The product supports the entire story, right down to the packaging. Each gift shop supports the attraction, which supports the story, which makes it more thematic and believable. Every element works together to create one giant magical package. As Disney guests, we also want to take the magic back home with us. It's like the old shops on Main Street U.S.A. that helped support the overall concept of what one would find and/or see on the main street in any small town in America. The real working barbershop, the tobacconist shop, the hat shop, and the clock shop – forty years ago you would buy merchandise that supported the overall theme and not just browse through five stores of the same product.

 What better attraction to use as an example than the Haunted Mansion? A year ago, I was using the Mansion for another product development concept when that spark of inspiration lit up. I began looking at one character in particular, Madame Leota. After all, she has a cart of merchandise outside Walt Disney World's Mansion. However, the merchandise on said cart leaves a lot to be desired—if I ever met Madame Leota, I don’t think she'd actually have bobble heads or plush Jack Skellington dolls in her traveling caravan. So I began to think of what a gypsy/physic/medium would actually store on her traveling home when I came up with the notion of the Spirit Board, a twist on the classic Ouija Board game.

The packaging and overall design of the product is simplistic, era-driven, funny, and yet believable. It's something I could imagine Madame Leota using.

Instead of branding the product with the Haunted Mansion, I centered it on the character. This one product has since expanded into an entire product line based on this look and Madame Leota – products I feel help support the overall story and themes of the Mansion: magic, ghosts, the unexplained, etc.

So what do you guys think? Would you pay for a Madame Leota Spirit Board and try to speak to ghosts from the beyond, or would you rather have a Haunted Mansion key chain?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

DCA Attraction Posters

This week, I'm stepping away from the Magic Kingdom to look at some new Disney typography from the all new Disney California Adventure attraction posters.

A few versions are floating around out there, so we can only speculate on which posters will make the final cut. The first set of three were released for public viewing on the official Disney Parks blog, but these have clearly undergone a few edits, which are evident in the newer three over at the Blue Sky Cellar. Most of the edits are typography-based, and we designers can breathe a collective sigh of relief that they have axed copperplate.

The typefaces used in the designs are true to the time period of Paradise Pier with a few creative liberties taken here and there. Type within these new posters range in classification from Gothic and Art Deco to Carnival/Tuscan and 1920/30s.

 It took me four days to track down the fonts used on the new posters—some of the fonts were rather tricky to locate. I had almost thrown in the towel on one of the fonts until Sunday evening. I was on my way to dinner when I passed a well-known chain restaurant and noticed they had used that same font in their signage. With a bit of light searching, I finally found that one elusive font.

Stylistically, the posters are great. I really appreciate Disney ushering back the classic attraction poster. Speaking of which, there's rumor of a new Disney publication, set to release this spring, which focuses on attraction posters from the parks. I have yet to see anything on Amazon about said book, but I know one guy who will be buying three copies when it finally is released! 

Be sure to tune in Monday for a very special, non-t-shirt Retro 71 concept. Thanks for stopping by and have a good weekend!