INSPIRATION: There is no question: The Space Place is a blended achievement somewhere between Star Wars and Star Trek. However the seeds of inspiration are rooted in an unlikely combination of two locations: Disney World and Las Vegas!
We are a Disney Family! We visit one of the theme parks almost every year. We shop Disney, we own practically every Disney Video. We wear Disney clothing and sport the Disney logos. My spouse and I even enjoyed part of our Honeymoon in Disney World! If I could have my dream Job, I would be a Disney Imagineer. (Disney calls their engineers “Imagineers” = Imagination + Engineering)
On Stage / Off Stage at Walt Disney World
As you browse the pages of The Space Place, you’ll notice I use the terms “ON Stage and OFF Stage”. This comes directly from our Disney experience. Several years ago, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to experience Disney World as very few have ever seen it… behind the scenes! We were part of a small, 10 guest envoy, to go places that are NOT open to the public. We walked beneath the streets of the Magic Kingdom, in the maze of utility corridors and tunnels that enable the Magic Kingdom to appear so magical!
Over the course of this full day tour, we learned that Disney has it’s “On Stage Area” and it’s “Off State Area”. And if I had not experienced it myself, I would not have believed how absolutely DIFFERENT these two “areas” are.
On Stage at Disney is what the all the guests experience. The perfectly manicured lawns and trees. The impeccably clean streets, shops and restaurants.The famous Disney characters, in perfect form and customs. The lighting, music, sounds and smells… all perfect.
The author, “On Stage” at EPCOT !
On Stage is exactly what Disney wants you to see, hear and experience. They orchestrate everything perfectly. Disney goes to great lengths to insure you NEVER experience Disney OFF Stage.
Off Stage is a TOTALLY difference experience! Walking in the tunnels beneath Main Street USA, we encountered many employees dressed in only the lower half of the costume, of the character that they play “on Stage”. We saw Alice, from “Alice in Wonderland”, in the break room, chatting with man in a ‘headless’ Pluto costume, both having a Pepsi! We saw TWO Mickey Mouse characters walking together, one dressed as normal Mickey, the other as Tomorrowland Mickey! You would NEVER see this “on-stage”! The off stage “scenery” is very boring and gray. No frills, very industrial and efficient.
Perhaps the greatest impact from this whole experience was when we were touring off stage “Main Street USA” outside. Our guide brought us to a sunny, open area, behind one of the Main Street buildings. The area had ladders, glue buckets and clutter. The back side of the building was like a pole barn. Certainly not what you would call the “Disney Experience”. Then the tour guide had us take ONE STEP through a gate…. In that one step, we were instantly “On Stage”. No ladders, clutter or pole barns. We were standing on Main Street USA just as everyone else saw it. Bright, colorful with rich architecture. We spent the next half hour going back and forth. Taking one step: “On Stage to Off Stage” then back again “Off Stage to On Stage”. Then repeating the process, all the while studying how Disney controlled everything! All the sight-lines were perfect. If an area was off stage, it did not receive even a coat of paint! It truly was amazing! (By the way, you can image that Disney is going to keep their “Off Stage” area truly off stage, NO Cameras were allowed on the tour…. sorry!)
Having experienced how Disney controlled the whole On-Stage / Off Stage settings, gave us the bug to try to create some “On Stage” experiences of our own… these were the young seeds of The Space Place.
LAS VEGAS & The Space Place ?
Ok… so how does Las Vegas factor in to the inspiration equation of The Space Place?
Four Words: Star Trek The Experience!
If you are a Star Trek fan and you have not had the opportunity to take part in this “Experience”, you are missing out!
Out of respect, I will not give away the plot or some of the awesome surprises that await you. however, I will share this: I went to see this ‘show’ with three friends. Two of us are Star Trek fans, the other two couldn’t spell “Star Trek” correctly. Nor did they care to know how. They went along for the heck of it.
By the end of the “experience” the two NON-Star Trek fans wanted to go back and do it again! IT WAS FANTASTIC!
This tour, coupled with the Disney ‘Off Stage’ experience, was all that was needed to give us our focus. We began planning “The Space Place” on this very trip!
Some very important people !
WE? If you’ve noticed, through out the notes, I keep referring to “We” rather than “I”. This is because the Space Place is a collaborative effort between myself and my good friend, Marv.
Marv, (who also happens to be my brother-in-law) is the mechanical / electrical wiz behind The Space Place. I could not have done it without his creative construction talents and his out of the box imagination. He’s an excellent sounding board for all my crazy ideas.
Marv was with me on the Disney Off Stage Tour. He was also the other Trek Fan, on the Star Trek Experience in Vegas. The Space Place is just one of our many collaborations over the past twelve years. We work well together and both enjoy the “Ohhhs and Ahhhs” that come from our creative efforts.
Marv, The Space Place Co-Pilot
A Child at Heart!
When it comes right down to it, The Space Place would NEVER exist if it were not for my true inspiration: my two awesome children. We wanted to create a unique “Play Room” for them.
What’s in a Name?
My oldest son gave The Space Place it’s name. I had envisioned calling it something more technical. But he was insistent:
“Dad, It’s THE SPACE PLACE!”
I figured a young Star Wars fan named “Luke”, knows what he’s talking about.