Nuggets of Wisdom

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Shameless Plug Saturday: Extinct Attractions

Having been around for more than 60 years, Disneyland has garnered a rich history, especially though the innovations made through its rides and attractions. However, as I mentioned in a previous entry, while many of these attractions have withstood the test of time and become classics, others have since fallen by the wayside and become nothing but fleeting memories.

One man has strived to keep the memories of these attractions alive by preserving their history through video documentaries. That man and his work is the focus of this week’s Shameless Plug Saturday: Extinct Attractions Club.

David O’Neal is a video editor whose filmography stretches back as far as 1993, having worked on commercials, training and marketing videos, and even television series such as "Friends" and "Walker Texas Ranger.” However, the work he’s most famous for (at least for me) has been Extinct Attractions, his series of video documentaries on Disneyland attractions old and new.

While a few of his documentaries have focused on attractions that are still around such as the Monorail, Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean, most of them focus on the older attractions that have since become, well, extinct. Such attractions include Mission to Mars, America Sings, and Horizons.

These documentaries can be extremely lengthy, with some of the longer ones maxing out past two hours, but the detailed history crammed into these videos are more than worth the watch, especially since they feature actual interviews with the Disney Imagineers who helped design the rides, along with vintage ride footage.

For the sake of this entry, I’ll be sharing one of the shorter documentaries on Nature’s Wonderland, a miniature train ride in Frontierland that took guests through dioramas of natural settings, and which was inevitably replaced by Big Thunder Mountain Railroad:

Unfortunately, I cannot talk about David O’Neal and his work without addressing the elephant in the room. In 2010, he was sued by Disney for selling copyrighted Disney video and audio. No, I’m not talking about the footage that appears in his documentaries, as those fall under fair use. I mean he made a buck on his website by selling actual short movies made by Disney, which is actual copyright infringement.

Because of this reason, I seriously deliberated whether or not I should even feature his work. But then I decided to do so anyway. I think its okay to praise and appreciate a person’s work without necessarily condoning the person themselves and their other actions.

After all, if we can still enjoy Bill Cosby movies without endorsing his sexual harassment, and we can enjoy "Ender’s Game" without endorsing Orson Scott Card’s homophobia, I believe we can appreciate David O’Neal’s efforts to preserve Disney’s history without endorsing his other illicit activity. When it comes to great works, love the art but not the artist.