Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Sci-Fi Dine-In at Disney-MGM Studios and the worlds of old science fiction

Over five years ago I took a trip to Walt Disney World. A decade had passed since I visited the park and I was curious to see what had changed.

One of the places I was determined to visit was the Sci-Fi Dine-In at Disney-MGM Studios theme park. I had seen the entrance on my last visit, but I didn't have time to stay and have dinner.

The Sci-Fi Dine-In is a 1950s drive-in movie theater re-created indoors. It fits into theme of the Disney-MGM Studios park's appeal to baby boomer nostalgia for Hollywood's past and retro design.

Visitors to the Sci-Fi Dine-In sit in booths shaped like small cars. The walls are decorated with stars and a nighttime landscape. On the menu are drive-in favorites: burgers, fries, shakes. Clips and trailers from old black-and-white science fiction films play on the screen up front. Even the drinks play up the sci-fi theme, with electric glowing ice cubes.

While I am part of the generation that grew up with Star Wars rather than The Day The Earth Stood Still, 1950s and 60s science fiction was part of my childhood. I saw most of those films on Saturday afternoons on TV. The special effects (and often the plots) were tacky, but the filmmakers and artists who made those films often pulled off amazing visions with no CGI or lavish budgets.

Visiting the Sci-Fi Dine-In made me reflect on how much of my childhood was influenced by design and culture created long before I was born.

I realize the 1950s were not the idealized time that some believe them to be. Read some history and you will know it was not Leave It To Beaver or Ozzie and Harriet. However, the 1950s were marked by an excitement about the future (especially space travel) that is missing from our more cynical times. The events of the last fifty years have insured we will never go back to a state of innocence, yet the music, movies, architecture, and graphic design of that time period have endured.

The films and TV shows of the 1950s are part of my past and continue to inspire me. The Sci-Fi Dine-In is a tribute to the era of tin-pie-plate flying saucers and rubber monsters, and entertaining no matter what era you live in or what age you are.

To see more of the Sci-Fi Dine-In, here are some links....

YouTube videos are here, here, and here.

Photos on Flickr are here.

Here is the official entry on the Sci-Fi Dine-In on the Disney World Home Page.

No comments: