I thought I would use some of the amazing technology predicted at world's fairs and do some talks about these great expositions while we're stuck at home keeping safe from the corona-virus. Want to join me? Just fire up your trusty Bell System Picture Phone and let's get started!
Hmm. No Picture Phone handy? Well, please join me then on Zoom, a popular teleconference site. You can download the software for your browser or watch on-line at zoom.us, or download apps for your phone and tablet through the various app stores. The software and chats are free but are limited to 100 participants.
In order to reduce the chance of spammers joining us, I will post the invitation information for each session here the day the talk begins, so please stop back then and look for the link.
Here's a list of upcoming talks planned at this time.
Saturday 1/30/21 - 10 AM PACIFIC - THE 1964-1965 NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR - STATE AND FEDERAL AREA
I'll be continuing with our deep-dive into the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair with a look at the various state and federal government pavilions. Some of the exhibits are well known, such as Walt Disney's "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln" at the Illinois Pavilion, but there were some unusual ones like the world's largest cheese or largest road map, or the chance to go canoing and trout fishing - or hang around with dance hall girls in the Old West.
The link to the talk will be posted here at 9 AM PACIFIC on that morning.
Some other topics under consideration:
Have a favorite topic and would like to be a guest presenter? Just let me know.
Links to videos of past talks will be provided here approximately 24 hours after the talks.
Saturday 4/25/20 - DISNEY AND THE WORLD'S FAIRS. Several years ago I was asked to put together a presentation for Disney cast members exploring the effects Disney had on world's fairs and vice-versa. This is an updated version of that talk with some newly unearthed information. The video of the talk is now on-line: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EeSXk96RvBI
Saturday 5/2/20 - REMEMBERING TOMORROW - Albert Fisher and I took a look back at the 1939-1940 and the 1964-1965 New York World's Fairs. We explored how each of these incredible events came to be, with rare photos showing how they were built and some of the most memorable exhibits. The video of the talk is now on-line: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hw0eEppCImI.
Saturday 5/9/20 - THE 1962 SEATTLE WORLD'S FAIR - Albert Fisher and I traveled back to the days of this breath-taking "pocket-sized" Fair. It may not have been the biggest Fair ever built but it was one of the best. Albert shared some amazing inside stories from his time working at the Fair - including what it was like to go on a double date with Elvis Presley! Unfortunately due to a technical error no video is available for this talk.
Saturday 5/16/20 - A RETURN TO TOMORROW - AN UPDATED LOOK AT NASA AND THE WORLD'S FAIRS. NASA at the world's fairs - spacecraft and astronauts have been popular crowd pleasers since the 1962 Seattle fair. Dr. Kenneth Carpenter of NASA and I discussed these very popular exhibits, which included actual hardware that had been flown in space as well as some concepts that never got off the ground. This is an updated version of a talk I gave at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. We were also joined by Doug Drexler, a name well known in the Star Trek community! The video of this talk is now on-line: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_FKJIRP3uI
Sunday 5/17/20 - DISNEY AND THE WORLD'S FAIRS. This is an encore presentation that I did for some fellow Disney retirees. Nothing like doing a chat with the folks that designed and built some of this stuff! The video of the talk is now on-line: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EeSXk96RvBI
Saturday 5/23/20 - MONTREAL'S EXPO 67. This is one of my favorite fairs, and I was planning on being back in Montreal for another visit to the site this year. Unfortunately it looks now like that won't be happening just yet, so I took the time machine back to the days of Expo 67, with a look at some of the major pavilions, and some views of how it became to be, in effect, the longest running world's fair of all time. The video of the talk is now on-line: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_xPTtxzFbU
Saturday 5/30/20 - WORLD'S FAIR & EXPO "SHOW AND TELL". Several dozen world's fair fans brought out parts of their collections to show off their favorite items and memories. It was fun to see how varied these collections are, with folks joining in from across the US, from Canada, and even Australia. The video of the talk is now on-line: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OloIDcIFvk
Saturday 6/6/20 - THE LOUISIANA WORLD EXPOSITION OF 1984. Also known as the 1984 New Orleans World's Fair, this was the last world's fair held in the United States. A rather small fair, and mostly forgotten today, it has the dubious distinction of being the only fair to declare bankruptcy while it was open (many other did when the gates closed). That was an unfortunate situation, as it was actually a fun event and well received by the local residents who flocked there, especially in the evenings. I talked about the main displays at the fair and some of the circumstances that contributed to its problems. I was joined by Mark Sumner, a retired Disney Imagineer, who shared some of his experiences trying to create and open a new boat thrill ride. The video of the talk is now on-line: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ycwkfv-f2UM
Saturday 6/13/20 - VANCOUVER'S EXPO 86. This was the last world's fair held in North American - and it was a wonderful way to close that chapter (for now, at least) on these international showcases. I discussed how Vancouver transformed a run-down section of the waterfront into a vibrant part of the city, with some of the site still in use today. If you like colorful pavilions and displays you'll love seeing Expo 86. The video of this talk is now on-line: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qIwimrvPho
Saturday 6/20/20 - SPOKANE'S EXPO 74. When Spokane first proposed a world's fair the critics scoffed. Surely that small a city had no hope of holding a world's fair, let alone a successful one. Well, the critics were wrong. The 1974 Spokane World's Fair, aka Expo 74, was small, but it was very well done. It's now a beautiful park and well worth a visit. I showed some of the challenges faced in turning a polluted rail yard into a fair that stressed the need to protect and preserve our environment, and a look at the site today. The video of the talk is now on-line: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ColaKzYx4JA&feature=youtu.be
Saturday 6/27/20 - WALT DISNEY'S ZORRO. A change of pace! This week I left the world of international expositions behind and instead featured Walt Disney's TV series Zorro. I detailed the creation and casting of the series and showed how the masked avenger became one of the biggest television and merchandising hits of all time. The video of the talk is now on-line: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIhOSE730L0. Want to learn more about the series? Take a look at my Zorro web site.
Saturday 7/4/20 - DISNEY'S AMERICA ON PARADE. I stepped away from the barbecue and pool to take a look back at Disney's America on Parade, a two-year salute to America's Bicentennial celebration. Featuring over-sized characters and fanciful floats, the parade ran at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World in 1975 and 1976. I showed the development of the parade and scenes of it at both Parks. Some former parade cast members joined in with their memories as well. The video is now on-line: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRd790hQZVY
Saturday 7/11/20 - THE 1933-1934 CHICAGO WORLD'S FAIR. The politicians didn't want this Fair but the public did! In fact, thousands chipped in to help fund it. The Fair was supposed to only be for one season, but it was so popular it returned for a second year - with major new attractions and shows added. I'll cover how the Fair overcame all obstacles to become one of the most successful world's fairs held in the United States. Hint - it made a profit! The video of the talk is now on-line: https://youtu.be/eamwNs8Rsq8
Saturday 7/18/20 - VINTAGE DISNEYLAND PHOTOS. I took a look back at vintage views of Disneyland. I was planning on celebrating the 65th Anniversary of Disneyland with a look at photos from the first 25 years. Well, it turns out I had a lot more photos than I thought! So, please join me for a look back at the "First Five Years of the Happiest Place on Earth!" The video is now on-line: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rf6CXTtz_0E
Saturday 7/25/20 - VANISHED SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ATTRACTIONS. There have been many different theme parks and other attractions that once dotted the Los Angeles area but are long gone, surviving now only in photographs and memories. I showed highlights from some of them. Remember Busch Gardens, the Japanese Deer Park, Cars of the Stars, the Movieland Wax Museum, the Bernheimer Japanese Gardens? What? You've never heard of the Bernheimer Japanese Gardens?? Well, it was there, and more vanished attractions, so come watch the video! The video is now on-line: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfcwCn-Jm5M
Saturday 8/1/20 - DISNEYLAND - THE SECOND FIVE YEARS. The look at the first five years of vintage photos of Disneyland seemed to be well received so this week I showed some of my favorites from 1960 to 1964. Some parts of the Park look pretty much the same but others have completely vanished! The video is now online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaJ5j7OfSgk
Saturday 8/8/20 - WALT DISNEY WORLD - THE FIRST FIVE YEARS. Not wanting to spend all of the time on vintage Disneyland, we moved eastward this week to showcase vintage photos from the first five years of the Vacation Kingdom of the World. It's hard to believe WDW is coming up on the 50 year mark - and my, there have certainly been some changes over the years! The video is now online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZznEMFc_8wM
Saturday 8/15/20 - NO CHAT THIS WEEK. As much as I wanted to be doing my normal Saturday Zoom chat that week, my dentist informed me I would be spending several hours in his chair undergoing oral surgery.
Saturday 8/22/20 - WALT DISNEY WORLD - THE SECOND FIVE YEARS. Wow! The audience vote for this week's program was strongly for more vintage Walt Disney World, so I covered 1976-1980 through vintage photographs. As it just so happens 1976 was when I started working there, and I had pictures from down in the tunnels, aerial shots from helicopters I rented, and more! The video is now online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTArK6g1Wkk
Saturday 8/29/20 - THE 1982 KNOXVILLE WORLD'S FAIR. Not one of the biggest of fairs - in fact one of the smaller ones - but still fondly remembered by those that went to it. I showed how the "Scruffy Little City" confounded its critics and turned a dilapidated rail yard into first a world's fair, and then into an outstanding city park. The talk included a look at the many pavilions, shows, and more of the fair, and a more modern look at the park and Sunsphere. No, they don't sell wigs there. Don't get the joke? Tune in! The video is now online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abm5o-Y8znQ
Saturday 9/5/20 - FREEDOMLAND. If you grew up in the New York City area in the early 1960s you'll likely remember hearing this jingle on the radio:Mommy, daddy, take my hand, take me out to Freedomland! I took a look at this long-vanished East coast version of Disneyland. There were plenty of similarities - not a big surprise, as some of the designers had worked on Disneyland - but it closed after only a few years. We looked at what went wrong, with views of the post popular rides and shows. The video is now online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8Y2uhmyz50.
Saturday 9/12/20 - THE 1939-1949 GOLDEN GATE INTERNATIONAL EXPOSITION. Often overlooked in the shadow of the bigger New York World's Fair held at the same time, the GGIE was a spectacular fair held on a new man-made island in San Francisco. I showed pictures from my upcoming book that look at how the Fair came to be, the building of Treasure Island, and many of the fanciful pavilions that delighted guests over both seasons. The video is now online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvTDPLQvpMM
Saturday 9/19/20 - UNIVERSAL STUDIOS 1965-1988. Over the years millions of guests have toured Universal Studios out here in Los Angeles and have been thrilled with a behind-the-scenes look at how their favorite movies and TV shows are made. I took a look at some of the things they saw, so join me for a peek at the sets from shows such as McHales' Navy and The Munsters, how the theme park has changed over the years, and more. The video is now online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSheStheVTY
Saturday 9/26/20 - Expo 85 - TSUKUBA, JAPAN. A side benefit of working in Tokyo was being able to visit Expo 85, a Specialized Expo with the theme "Science and Technology for Man at Home." Please join me for a trip back to the first display of the Sony Jumbotron, a look at maglev trains, artistic robots and more. The video is now online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIRqguQMAfQ
Saturday 10/3/20 - DISNEYLAND AS SEEN IN VINTAGE SOUVENIR SLIDES. I've taken a few looks at the early days of the Happiest Place on Earth through amateur photos, but for this week I showed scenes captured on souvenir slides. Many of these have unique views that could only have been captured by stepping inside the attractions or other off-limit areas. Some of what they captured and sold might surprise you!. The video is now online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZ3lqpUgEDY
Saturday 10/10/20 - GET YOUR KICKS ON ROUTE 66. Guest speaker Don Lancaster took us on a tour of the fabled "Mother Road" that led from Chicago to California and was traveled by many families looking for a new start on the West Coast. This was well before the interstate highways we have today, and was not an easy drive by any means. Join us for a look at some of the wacky tourist spots along the way! The video is now online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVBdcAE9QwA
Saturday 10/17/20 - WE CAME HERE TO SHINE. Join award-winning author Susie Orman Schnall as she talks about her newly released novel set at the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair that’s appearing on must-read lists including those of Good Morning America and Travel + Leisure. Schnall discussed how she came up with the idea for the book, the research she did to bring this World’s Fair story to life, and some of the fascinating and behind-the-scenes history of the fair that takes center stage in the novel. The video is now online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9PI0qJCo10&t=5s
Saturday 10/24/20 - ROUTE 66 - THE WESTERN SECTION. Don Lancaster returned to finish taking us across the fabled Mother Road. In his first talk we were left stranded out in the middle of a desert, but no worries, Don got us all the way to the end of the journey at the Santa Monica Pier this time. The video is now online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8vrT-uq8Rg
Saturday 10/31/20 - ODD AND ENDS FROM THE VIDEO VAULTS. This week's Saturday Zoom chat took a bit of a detour from the originally planned topic due to a schedule conflict for the previously scheduled presenter. The topic presented was "Odd and Ends from the Video Vaults". I showed some obscure Disney video clips I've collected over the years. All sorts of forgotten commercials, including ones by Disney and others that ran during the Disney shows, or peeks at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. There were also rarely seen gems from The Disney Channel and more oddball bits of this and that. Trust me, you won't be seeing this stuff on Disney+ anytime soon! The video is now online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdsVuDZKOZk.
Saturday 11/7/20 - THE DISNEYLAND HOTEL. Donald W. Ballard took a look at the history of the Disneyland Hotel. Don claims to possess the most complete collection of Disneyland Hotel ephemera and memorabilia in the world. He was a featured speaker at Disney’s D23 Expo in 2011 & 2013 and has spoken at numerous Disney events on the Disneyland Hotel’s rich history. The video is now online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfC5Y37Fa2A.
Saturday 11/14/20 - THE GENERAL. Beth Burns Bramlett was our guest speaker and took a look at one of the most famous locomotives of all times, The General. It played a major role in the Civil War when a daring band of Union soldiers stole it and set off to disrupt rail traffic in the South. The video is now online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVJfAjnGFf8.
Saturday 11/21/20 - NO CHAT THIS WEEK. My wife was recovering from open-heart surgery so the chat on the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair at night was pushed back a week.
Saturday 11/28/20 - THE 1964-1965 NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR AT NIGHT. For many visitors, the best part of the Fair was seeing it at night. The crowds were smaller, it was cooler, but best of all, the night-time lighting and fireworks were spectacular. The video is now online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3PmUfPnmQc
Saturday 12/5/20 - WALT DISNEY WORLD THROUGH VINTAGE SOUVENIR SLIDES. I showed the many souvenir slides sold at Walt Disney World over the years, going way back to the early sets sold at the Preview Center when the Park was still under construction. Many of the attractions shown have now vanished or changed greatly - and a few were never ever built!The video is now online at https://youtu.be/vnt-kRqIMA4
Saturday 12/12/20 - No talk due to more dreaded dental surgery.
Saturday 12/19/20 - JAMES ALGAR, A TRUE DISNEY LEGEND, AS REMEMBERED BY HIS DAUGHTER. James Algar was rightfully named a "Disney Legend" for an amazing career that took him from the early days of animation through the wonderful "True-Life Adventures" and shows for the Disney theme parks and the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. Please join me as his daughter Laurie shares some inside information on a truly imaginative - and from when I knew him, very modest - man. The video is now online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6tlak40x_s
Saturday 12/26/20 - MEMORIES OF DISNEY CHRISTMASES PAST. I took a look back at some of the many ways the Disney gang have celebrated Christmas over the years. It included some vintage cartoons, very early TV shows (not on Disney+ nor likely to be for quite some time), scenes from the theme parks, and more The video is now online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxwJ0MhSO9k&feature=youtu.be
Saturday 1/2/21 - THE 1964-1965 NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR - LAKE AMUSEMENT AREA. We started the year off with a deep dive into the Lake Amusement Area at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. I showed the various pavilions and live shows, headed out on Meadow Lake in amphibious cars, and looped around the area on the AMF Monorail. No tickets required! Hats with long feather are optional. The video is online at https://youtu.be/rOsm8mQ1OqU.
Saturday 1/9/21 - THE 1964-1965 NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR - TRANSPORTATION AREA. This week it's off to one of the most popular parts of the Fair. How could it not be a hit? Dinosaurs, the new Ford Mustang, underwater hotels, moon exploration, giant robots, and an underground home! Not surprisingly it had two of the most popular exhibits at the Fair. The video is now online at https://youtu.be/V9JxNfMPFA8
Saturday 1/16/21 - THE 1964-1965 NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR - INDUSTRIAL AREA - Part 1. When many nations decided not to sponsor pavilions for the Fair due to a long list of reasons, Robert Moses turned to American industry to fill the void. And fill it they did, with amazing shows from General Electric, IBM, Pepsi-Cola, and more. I covered the first half of the Industrial Area this week. The video is now online at https://youtu.be/qRINyDXF6uc
Saturday 1/23/21 - THE 1964-1965 NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR - INDUSTRIAL AREA - Part 2. We returned to the Industrial Area for a look at some memorable pavilions like Pepsi's "Small World" and Johnson's Wax, and stopped by a few lesser-known ones. Did you know you could rent a room and take a nap at the Fair? The video is online at https://youtu.be/kUSHwLKLJPY
Got any feedback for a past talk, suggestions on how to improve them, or ideas for a future talk? Please contact me.
If you enjoyed any of the talks and would like to help defray the expenses please consider making a donation through PayPal.
As a "thanks" to those who watch one of my Zoom talks, I'll include a free world's fair gift with any purchase from this site as long as supplies last. Just click this button to add the free surprise gift to your cart, then continue shopping. One per order, please.