Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Dream Cars = Victory Vehicles

I really love it when Disney Imagineers subtlety incorporate some of the studio’s classic animation into design elements at the theme parks. In this regard, I did an enjoyable double-take recently at Epcot's Test Track when passing through the Inside Track post-show area.

A relatively new Kidcot Funstop had been set up and largely featured Goofy exploring aspects of aerodynamics and automobile design. One particular montage at the station was entitled Dream Cars and featured nine different scenes from the 1943 Goofy cartoon Victory Vehicles. Nearby was an actual scale model of the bathtub contraption featured briefly in a blueprint design near the short’s beginning.

Victory Vehicles
is truly a short immersed in the history and popular culture of the time in which it was made. At the height of World War II, gasoline and rubber shortages severely limited the average citizen's use of automobiles, and in this cartoon, Goofy demonstrates some imaginative and very humorous alternate forms of transportation. It is a number of these concepts that are used to form the basis of the Kidcot Dream Cars display.

Victory Vehicles, while clearly fun and lightweight, is very much a time capsule of the U.S. home front during World War II. Director Jack Kinney and his crew filled the short with numerous wartime references, many of which are likely lost on today’s younger generations. The swing-shift defense worker, the air raid warden, the drugstore cowboy, rationing boards and Victory housing projects are all prominently featured. Details abound and it takes a quick finger on the DVD remote pause button to catch many of them. One particular moment involves a newspaper article with Goofy portraying a stumping politician. Incredibly, the fine print is an actual story, not just typeface filler. The first paragraph reads:

WASHINGTON D.C. (Special) -- Professor Donald Da Gradi, noted heel, and tire specialist, declared today, “If human beings needed tires to travel, they would have been born with a set on their pedal extremities.”

The story continues on for three more paragraphs.

When the short turns into a celebration of the pogo stick, sight gags and wordplays literally spring up everywhere. Billboards and signs are filled with “pogo” references. An advertisement for the Hop Right Inn is my favorite.

Recycling was the order of the day, and in that same spirit, Imagineers recycled the fun elements of Victory Vehicles some sixty years later for a kid-friendly Epcot exhibit.


Anonymous said...

When I first saw Victory Vehicles (which, ironically enough, was on the Complete Goofy WDT set, which was the very first WDT set I got), I really liked all the funny cars, most especially the golf car, or "Model 'Tee'". I didn't know that this was at the Kidcot FunStop at Test Track, because I always seem to be trying to get the h-e-double-hockey-sticks outta Dodge City every time I'm there. I truly need to spend more time over there.

Thank you Jeff for all that you do, and I really enjoy your work.


BJ Wanlund