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  1. #1

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    Small details you love, that you suspect few other people notice?

    What details have you noticed that you believe only a few people with the right set of eyes will spot? They can be related to characters, small details related to cartoon or movie plots, mechanical and technical works, architectural features that are especially accurate, or the like.

    One of my hobbies is collecting antique lighting. Main Street, USA is supposed to be an early-1900s town, and it succeeds in some ways, doesn't in others, and no longer does in some ways (such as the lack of traditional businesses any more). One way some shops succeed more than others is with their lighting fixtures. There are many non-period fixtures, especially most of the stained-glass bowl lights. Period ones exist, but most modern ones do not look like the old ones. However, there are some shops which nail the look more than others, and at least one in which the effect is so perfect that I told City Hall about it!

    Here is an example of a proper period fixture. At this time, several cities and towns were adopting electric lights, but without completely abandoning gas. Gas lighting had many problems, but it was cheap and reliable. Electricity was new, fashionable, and exciting, but there was a lot of distrust (with some people believing everything from buried cables zapping you through the ground, to bathing in its light causing illness, to it being associated with the devil!) Electrical outages were common, especially in the evenings! Since some believed electric lighting might be nothing more than a passing fad, and due to its reliability problems, combination gas/electric fixtures were made. Gaslights had to point upward, except those using a mantle which could (sort of) point downward. But electrical lights could be in any desired orientation and, due to both practicality and novelty, often pointed diagonally downward. Shown below is an authentic antique gas/electric fixture, restored and wired for electricity. Note the wide shade holders on the gas lights, with large openings to allow enough air to the burners. The glass shades are also antique.


    This is a similar modern copy made by a company in Oregon, and this shop (I forget which) also contained a larger version with eight arms. These have replica shades, too.


    A matching gas/electric wall sconce. In the case of these, there's an interesting small detail: the gas lights are lamped with lower-wattage bulbs than the electric. Very appropriate!


    Here, in City Hall, we find another replica by the same company, in a Mission style. These Mission-style fixtures were not necessarily only installed in rooms with the same design. Replica shades used.


    A (mostly) matching wall sconce, having a traditional key-switch socket in place of the ceiling fixture's larger fitters. City Hall also has some two- and four-light all-electric replica fixtures.


    Here is another gas/electric fixture, with beaded fringe, a really exceptional antique with beaded fringe. The shades are replicas. In many cases, antique shades came in matched gas/electric sets, though it's period-appropriate to use different shades on the gas and electric fitters.


    An extremely large and VERY rare antique gas/electric chandelier in another shop. Spectacular! This uses the same replica shades as the one above. The stained glass bowls in the background are absolutely not period-appropriate, but few guests would know that.


    Another extremely rare large gas/electric in a DCA shop, with winged dragons having coiled wire tongues! Same replica shades as the last two. This would be even better with some antique shades.


    Here's a gas/electric in what I believe was the Magic Shop. Wonderful acid-etched AND cut gas shades, and lovely brass-bound electric shades with green slag glass panels. The entire fixture, shades and all, is a replica, and aside from improper gas shade holders, there's one glaring problem many guests would neither know nor care about: it hangs on a chain! Gas fixtures MUST hang on a tube or pipe, for what I hope are obvious reasons. There were occasional exceptions using a rubber hose, but they're rare; you could, however, remove a gas burner, hang a hose on the pipe, and run it down to a gas table lamp!


    The real star, however, is the photography shop, and I wish I knew how many people notice and appreciate its detail, who put this detail there, and whether said person has any aims on sprucing up the other shops. The Photography Shop was formerly lit only by gas, but they recently decided to install that newfangled electric light. Not wanting to knock out the walls, they did what many places did: the cloth wires were tacked to the walls with porcelain cleats. Here is the chandelier. Six lights, three of each. The wires cross the ceiling, and pass through the thick molding inside ceramic tubes, which poke out of both sides. This is an antique fixture, though again, unfortunately, it uses replica shades, unless Disney bought a big lot of the antique ones of this pattern!


    Off to one side is a smaller fixture. These quirky two-lights with electric poking down off one side and gas curling or looping off the other were actually quite common.


    They also installed two of those heat-fighting electric fans, for those hot summer months. The cloth cords spiral down around the downrod; some early fans had the power connections exposed on top of the motor. These are Hunter "1886" models, which imitate - though not precisely - one of the earliest fans made by Tuerk Water Motor Company, which became Hunter. The originals had two blades. Like the old ones, the fretwork basket around the motor revolves. Originals would have been brass or copper in most cases, though black was also available. These are run slowly, even though antique ones were usually run very fast, and I think it looks great.


    The wires enter the room through porcelain tubes in one wall, and one pole is looped down through a surface-mounted snap switch (which is non-functional, but it looks proper!)


    The biggest bit, though, is that not only are the gas lights dimmer than the electric, but they all flicker slightly, and not all in unison, either!! The effect is subtle, but it really helps those of us who know their historic lighting suspend disbelief.

    Impress your friends with your knowledge! How can you tell if a gas fixture is antique, or at least uses antique parts? Here's a detail of the gas valve from the small two-light fixture in the Photo Shop. Note in the lower image that the part attached to the arm is cut away on half of its diameter, and in the cut-away area, the valve key part has a protruding pin. (This will be halfway along said cut-away, since that's the fully-open position, and an electrified fixture will have the key glued in that position.) Replica fixtures always have the valve key and its valve base cast as one piece, and it's obvious that the key was never made to turn! The pin allows the key to turn only 180 degrees, from closed to open to closed. Watch "Lady & the Tramp" to see a gaslight being adjusted.

    Antique electric lights' sockets will often, but not always, have a black paddle-shaped key (switch) protruding from the side. Why? Most homes lacked light switches in the earliest days; like with gaslights, you'd light each electric bulb at the socket. Many replicas have these switches too, though. When you see them, they're almost always functional.

    Some terminology you can use, if you want to impress your buddies with geeky lighting knowledge: Gas ceiling lights are called gasoliers; a "chandelier" technically refers to one lit by candles. An electric chandelier, back then, was...an "electrolier," naturally. There wasn't much of a proper term for a gas/electric, they were just fixtures. Wall fixtures are called 'brackets' ('sconce' refers to candles) and gas table lamps, plumbed by a hose hung from a gasolier, are 'portables.' Similarly, before the advent of wall receptables, to power a portable table lamp or small appliance, you'd unscrew a bulb from an electrolier or bracket and screw in the plug, which was shaped like a light bulb's base. Oh, and table and floor lights were 'portable fixtures,' since a 'lamp' meant a light bulb.

    The ball partway down the downrod is the "ball break" and it visually ends the decorative part of the fixture there. The downrod below may be reeded or spiral, but the rod above is plain; with the high ceilings of that era, everything above the ball break was utilitarian. The ball break need not be round, it may be flared instead. Directly above the fixture's body, there's often another flared piece; this is the dust catcher.

    Oh, and I'm not sure if there's a word filter on this, since this is a family site, but the proper hname for the gas valves which turn on/off each individual burner is a "gas ___," with the blank being another term for a rooster, beginning with the letter 'c.' That's your basic antique lighting primer. Also note that one of the outdoor signs on Main Street is a gas-lit sign. It has bowed sides for adequate heat dissipation, a vent on top, and a gas pipe curling along the lower edge to the perforated vent around and below the burner. If this flickered at night, it'd be perfect!

    Here's one more replica by the same company, of a very common un-classy fixture from the early 1900s, found in countless utilitarian spaces like closets and attics. Cloth cord and a ceramic ceiling canopy. This one has a shade holder with a replica shade, but many had only a bare bulb and those are available, too.


    One last replica by that firm, but not one that was ever common. This is a loose copy of a custom fixture from a mansion in Portland, Oregon. A bat, wings spread and with uncannily-lifelike detail, holds the shade holder on a ring in its mouth; the original had two gas lights under the wings instead, their pipes coming from the same spots in the bat's mouth. The ball break on the downrod, a common part of old fixtures, has a snake going in one side and out the other, its body coiling up around the downrod, head reared up. Here, the ceiling canopy has been removed, and the fixture sports an exceptional replica of an antique Quezal iridescent art glass teardrop shade, hand-blown just like the originals. Supposedly, the symbology involved was "the triumph of science over magic," don't ask me how. The McKenzie House in Portland has lots of weird features and fixtures, such as cast brass hands holding wall sconces. This fixture is, appropriately, in "Le Bat en Rouge" in NOS, where a few shops feature several fixtures by this company... though le Bat also contains one antique fixture with an antique shade!


    What details make YOU happy due to your focused knowledge, but are things you suspect most people don't notice? What enhances the experience for you that, to most people, is just part of the background, or not even noticed at all? If so, I'd love to hear all about it-- educate me and I'll appreciate those details even more!
    Last edited by JonasClark; 11-23-2013 at 05:40 AM.

  2. #2

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    Re: Small details you love, that you suspect few other people notice?

    The ship in the background of New Orleans Square. I just noticed it on my last trip after never noticing it many, many times.
    I am so sick of Frozen I can't even describe the feeling.








  3. #3

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    Re: Small details you love, that you suspect few other people notice?

    I do love the Hotel Marceline on Main Street, since that represents such an important aspect of Walt's life.

  4. #4

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    Re: Small details you love, that you suspect few other people notice?

    ​What a fun thread! I look forward to more posts.
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  5. #5

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    Re: Small details you love, that you suspect few other people notice?

    Please explain the ship behind NOS? I don't know that one.

  6. #6

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    Re: Small details you love, that you suspect few other people notice?

    JonasClark, thanks for sharing all that about the lights. I found it really interesting.

  7. #7

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    Re: Small details you love, that you suspect few other people notice?

    Quote Originally Posted by JonasClark View Post
    Please explain the ship behind NOS? I don't know that one.
    New Orleans is a port city. You can see, when standing on TSI or far back from the buildings what appears to be a ship behind them. It can make you feel like you are walking a block off the harbor.

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  8. #8

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    Re: Small details you love, that you suspect few other people notice?

    One things I like which is well known among Disney Fans is that names on windows on Main Street are tributes to those who built the park and company.
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  9. #9

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    Re: Small details you love, that you suspect few other people notice?

    I love the masts and sails, that's lovely. The windows, I knew about, but do they still play sound effects from the various upstairs businesses, or the party line phone?

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    Re: Small details you love, that you suspect few other people notice?

    Quote Originally Posted by JonasClark View Post
    I love the masts and sails, that's lovely. The windows, I knew about, but do they still play sound effects from the various upstairs businesses, or the party line phone?
    Yep! Both. Although lately it's been so loud-because-crowded it's hard to hear the upstairs spiels. But near the cone shop there's the whole piano lesson thing. And even after the Starbucksification of Market House, they have the party line phone.

  11. #11

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    Re: Small details you love, that you suspect few other people notice?

    I like how the landscaping and detail in it is always immaculate. I wonder how they cut grass in small gated areas where a mower wouldn't fit. Also the changing of flowers at the hub almost every time we visit.

    The major thing is the fact that there is always something new and different to find every time we go. I recently just noticed the full sword shop in FL this last trip. That's intense!

  12. #12

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    Re: Small details you love, that you suspect few other people notice?

    I don't know if it's necessarily a small detail, but I don't think enough people pay attention to the landscaping. As Stinky634 mentioned, there are great details in the landscaping and it changes constantly.
    I am so sick of Frozen I can't even describe the feeling.








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    Re: Small details you love, that you suspect few other people notice?

    Quote Originally Posted by DrFink View Post
    I don't know if it's necessarily a small detail, but I don't think enough people pay attention to the landscaping. As Stinky634 mentioned, there are great details in the landscaping and it changes constantly.
    Yes, the landscaping is such a wonderful part of the magic of the Park. I feel it's an under-appreciated "attraction" in its own right! It's not "necessary", but it adds so much. Such a supporting role to the main "stars". Actually, I've often found myself reveling in the highly-manicured landscaping more than anything else! The team that tends to all that flora deserves much kudos. It would be fascinating to wander around at night and see all the re-planting, pruning and tending that goes on.

  14. #14

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    Re: Small details you love, that you suspect few other people notice?

    In the store, Pieces of Eight, located near the Pirates attraction exit, Look up at the chandelier near the entrance doors, and at its center you will notice the figure is a monkey holding an apple. Yes this chandelier was in the store before it was remodeled. No doubt this served as the inspiration for Jack the Monkey in the very 1st Pirates movie! Who knows, perhaps the apple in the monkey's hand is one of the reasons why the apple was Barbossa's fruit of choice.

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    Re: Small details you love, that you suspect few other people notice?

    Quote Originally Posted by DrFink View Post
    The ship in the background of New Orleans Square. I just noticed it on my last trip after never noticing it many, many times.

    I know of this but I never manage to see it. Where can it be seen from?

    Anyway, I like sticking my head into "the duck hole" across from the entrance to the Tiki room.
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