On various Internet sites, including the "Captain EO @ Disneyland" Facebook page, Disneyland is being urged to bring back the Captain EO attraction to honor Michael Jackson.
Captain EO, which debuted at Disneyland on Sept. 18, 1986 (six days after its world premiere at Walt Disney World's Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida), and ran continuously through April of 1997, was the 17-minute film you see YouTubed in two parts above.
Because of its revolutionary 3-D effects, Disneyland guests enjoyed the Star Warsesque flick projected in a tricked-out theater that sat 500 people per screening. It's perfectly acceptable to make the Star Wars reference (sorry, geeks) because the flick was executive produced by George Lucas. But Lucas did not want to direct it, so he called his pal Steven Spielberg. But Spielberg was busy, so Francis Ford Coppola got the gig.
That might have been fortuitous, in a reverse-fortuitous way, because Coppola already had a rep for blowing his budgets (The Godfather; The Godfather, Part II; Apocalypse Now). EO would up costing about $30 million to make, which makes it both the most expensive 17-minute film ever made and most expensive music video ever, since that's what it really is. It showcased two songs, "We Are Here to Change the World" and "Another Part of Me."
As someone who formerly manned the microphone on the back of Disneyland trams, I'm all about the employee spiel. See if you remember this one ...
"Get ready to experience the singing, dancing, and song-writing talents of Michael Jackson, in a spectacular, 70-millimeter, 3-D space adventure. You might have to wait a while. There's only one theater, and it only has around 500 seats. The show lasts 17 minutes, and it takes several minutes to reload the audience between the shows. It's worth the wait if you're a Michael Jackson fan... or if you're a special effects fan. There are 150 special effects on the film, and a bunch of in-theater effects too. Pick up your 3-D glasses as you enter the Magic Eye Theater, but please don't put them on until you're seated."
After the doors open:
"Please move all the way to the end of a row and take a seat. You may put on your 3-D glasses now. If you wear eyeglasses, don't worry; the 3-D glasses fit right over them. If you don't like really loud music and noises, this also might be a good time to put some cotton in your ears. Sit back and watch Captain EO and this faithful, if unusual, crew--Hooter, Fuzzball, the Geex, Major Domo, and Minor Domo--as they prepare to land their little spaceship on an oppressed planet.
"Where's landing beacon? Don't trip any alarms . . . Oops. The crew tripped the alarm. Oh no! There's an enemy patrol ship. Still no landing beacon? How about a map? Hooter ate the map?"
The story was cooked up by Lucas, Coppola and producer Rusty Lemorande. Up on the screen you'd first see Capt. EO (Jackson) and his ragtag spaceship crew (puppets and costumed characters) embarking on a mission to deliver a gift to the Supreme Leader (Anjelica Huston, filling the usual wicked Disney queen shoes) on her jacked-up planet. Upon arrival, the crew is captured and sentenced to torture. But as EO is being carted away, he tells SL he sees the beauty hidden within her, and that he can unlock it with the song he has brought her, "We Are Here To Change The World."
Then robots change into different stuff, Evil Queen snaps out of her spell and goes ballistic and a bunch of other stuff that you can see in the above videos happens.
The preceding post was based more on information from a variety of sources than my foggy memory. The same can be said of the following EO trivia:
*The Captain EO attraction replaced Magic Journeys in Tomorrowland's Imagination pavilion.
*To celebrate the premiere at Disneyland, the park remained open for 36 hours continually and attendees received a souvenier t-shirt.
*External effects inside Magic Eye Theater included lasers shot over audience members' heads and smoke and stars in the ceiling and walls.
*The late, great Dick Shawn--whose 2nd Funniest Man in America live stage show in LA was one of the funny things I ever saw--played Captain EO's commander, who only appears in shakey, holographic form at the beginning of the film.
*Honey, I Shrunk the Audience began screening in the same theater in 1994, but it did not replace EO's exterior facade at Disneyland until the good captain split in '97.
*At one time, besides Anaheim and Florida, Captain EO was showing at Disney parks in Japan and France. It hung out the longest at CinéMagique, presented by Kodak, in Discoveryland at Disneyland Paris, where it departed on Aug. 17, 1998.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
*"Another Part of Me" wound up on Jackson's Bad album (1987).
*"We Are Here to Change the World" did not make it to a Jackson album until 2004, as part of Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection. R&B singer Deniece Williams covered it 16 years earlier on her As Good As It Gets album.
*Captain EO has yet to be released onto DVD or any format, something that may have to do with Jacksons' legal issues.
*The "Captain EO @ Disneyland" Facebook page has 435 friends.