As expected despite the cast members warning people that Space Mountain would not be opening until later in the morning. The circular space around the old peoplemover/ rocket rods station was all set up with press tables on the old peoplemover loading level and down at ground level as well, the cosmic waves fountain area was partially closed off, you had to walk around to the "Honey I shrunk the Audience" side of it to get into the fountain area, and half of that area was closed off from the inside filled with various press equipment. Cast members were stationed at each side of the fountain so access to this area was choked to these two points, this allowed cast members to inform people that Space Mountain would not be opening until after the ceremonies, though I'm thinking I was also notified of this at the front gates, so people were being informed pretty well. They still were letting people pass, they were just keeping everyone informed, perhaps trying to discourage to much of a crowd from forming. I asked one of the cast members where the ceremonies would be held and they informed me it would be in the upper deck of the Space Mountain area, there was a jumbotron TV set up over here, and I think this is when I asked if that would be showing the ceremony, it turned out it was for the events on the 17th. It was clear at this point that I would not be able to see the press event I also learned that Neil Armstrong would be there about this time. I still hoped that perhaps I'd be able to hear and record audio of the event if the sound was amplified well enough, so I proceeded to look for a good spot in the cosmic waves/Honey area to wait. As I was looking for a spot to sit I saw a band proceed to set up in the triangle formed by the outer edge of the waves fountain, the Innoventions/America Sings building, and the press tables around the old peoplemover building, their costumes said New Orleans Square to me and as I got closer I saw their instruments did too.
It was a dixieland band, I got my MD (mini-disk) recorder out in time to record their first tune, and after that one had ended asked their name, they are the Dixie Kings, and when I asked if they usually played New Orleans Square their leader replied that they'll play anywhere they put them, then to his band mates "Right, Guys?" to which they made sounds of affirmation. I really enjoyed hearing these guys play. As their set progressed I looked around and took in more details Goofy was up on the second level balcony of Innoventions and he was wearing a Space suit (I later learned this was set up as a VIP area), after a few minutes a space-age attired Pluto passed by as well, and boy were the cast members and suits out in full-force!
After their first set I hit the nearest pay phone to check in with Carlene, and remind her of our Bayou priority seating at 11:50, I also spent some time chatting with another person who had sat and enjoyed the Dixie Kings, and soon it seemed the band returned, I continued to record , the band leader (the banjo player) was really good at interacting with guests, it was fun to watch him work.At one point during a break between songs a guest approached the band leader and asked directions to something he was unfamiliar with, he directed them to the cast member who appeared to be working crowd control on this side of the fountain (Marcie) and she gave the guests the proper directions at one point employing the use of the "Disney Point" (using two fingers to point out the appropriate direction)to which the band applauded her (making her giggle slightly). At another point when the crowds were particularly thin he stepped way out in front of the band to where two girls facing the opposite way were studding their park map when his next part came to strum it really surprised them and they turned around and laughed! He also asked one child if she was having any fun then strumed various chords some happy sounding some sad to see just how much fun she was having.
These guys were really good, After I got back home I took some time to find out more about this group and it's lead performer " Dwight Kennedy " it turns out the Dixie Kings is just one of the bands Dwight leads, and that his groups do quite a bit of work for one of the other Southern California Tourist attractions, Universal Studios. The Dixie Kings have had two CDs out, one of which I purchased through a half.com seller, later I contacted Mr. Kennedy, through his web site and was able to purchase one of the other disks directly from him. If you are looking to hire a band in the greater L.A. area check this guy out! http://www.dwightkennedy.com/about.htmlAs the time neared a quarter til 10 AM a line began to form for Space Mountain I figured the Dixie Kings might begin to get a bit more applause now that they had a larger audience but the first song after the line started forming didn't garner much , the band tried to bring the audience to them more with their next selection picking a lesser known "dixieland tune" but well known among surfers "wipe-out" this tied in well with Space Mountains re-opening since the previous sound track to the ride had been performed by Dick Dale another name more well known in Surf Rock circles than Dixieland. This helped some but I think the thing that really helped bring the crowd around was the bit the band leader worked out with one of the folks in the line standing nearby, who had reacted a bit more than most to the music playing, a young 18-20ish fellow their with a couple of his friends (who also were a bit more lively than the rest of the crowd) this young man who looked as if he could be a surfer. Anyways after a short conversation between the two they did a number that seemed to me to be a variation on a bit I've seen done by the leader of the Main Street marching band at the Magic Kingdom some years ago when the Magic Kingdom still had a full size marching band. In that bit the band leader would pick a child out of the crowd and have them "conduct" the band would then try to follow the time signature the child set up using the conductors baton. This was similar, only rather than having the young man keep time (their was after all no baton) he would point at various members of the band to either have them start or stop playing, it was quite a bit of fun , at one point this high-energy young man broke into a bit of air-banjo himself making the strumming sounds out loud with his mouth this brought a nice round of laughter.
After about a 45 minute set, ten-o'clock rolled around, and the Kings left the area, heading back stage. I realized, from the occasional bursts of applause, that the proceedings had begun above and tried to see if I could find a spot to pick up some audio, but I could not make out the speakers even faintly from any vantage point. This was a little disappointing, though having had such a nice time with the Dixie Kings I can't say I felt too disappointed. Besides, Laughingplace.com came through with nice coverage on the event including Video. Still with nothing left to see in regards to the opening I prepared to leave the area, then I noticed "Push" the talking trash can moving about in the crowd nearby so I got a few minutes of audio and a little of video of him.
Looking at my entertainment schedule I saw something else
interesting on the horizon, something I had long wanted to
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