Tag Archives: video

Photo by Nomeus, 2009 - Flurbex.com

Colony Plaza Hotel

Photo:Ramada Inn Tower during the “first look” at Walt Disney World.

The Colony Plaza Hotel was originally built as a Ramada Inn in 1968. The hotel contained a a lounge, swimming pool, tennis courts, and meeting rooms. It was also the first hotel in Orange County to receive a license to serve liquor with meals on Sundays.

The site also served as a temporary headquarters for Disney officials who hosted a press conference in 1969. As someone put it, a “giant circus tent” was set up outside the hotel and invited guests were able to preview the upcoming opening of Walt Disney World Resort. Roy Disney, along with Disney legends Card Walker, John Hench, Charlie Ridgway, and Donn Tatum signed autographs and spoke announced October 1, 1971 as the opening date. Roy told guests at the event:

“You should know that the dedication of our staff to Walt’s goals is tremendous. And I know Walt would like what his creative team is doing because these are the ideas and plans he began. Everything you will see here today is something Walt worked on and began in some way. And today, the Walt Disney organization is dedicated to carrying out these wonderful plans in Walt Disney World.”

Photo: Guests were able to view scale models, artwork and animatronic figures at the event.

As hotels started being developed to directly support Disney, the hotel declined, changing hands numerous times before it finally converting into the Colony Plaza condominium complex and a portion of that being converted into a time share in the 1990s. In 2001, the city condemned the building after malfunctioning sprinklers flooded the first four floors. Apparently, it was marketed overseas which had let it fall into disrepair.

The city attempted to demolish the structure multiple times over the years that followed but ran into legal issues related to a longtime lien on the property, as well as the building’s fractured ownership which according to the mayor, had over 500 owners. On May 9, 2009, with hundreds of spectators to witness the event, the city demolished the building.

Photo(Tantrum_Dan, 2008): The building fell into disrepair over the years after it’s condemnation.

Photographer: Nomeus
Year Taken: 2009
Website: FLURBEX

Photographer: Tantrum_Dan
Year Taken: 2007
Website: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tantrum_dan/

Archive Photos

Photo by the owls go, 2004

Xanadu: Home of the Future

Photo(William A. Ackel, 1994): The home was built by inflating balloons and spraying insulation onto it, giving the homes their dome shapes.

Bob Masters was a pioneer of houses made of rigid insulation, who designed and created inflatable balloons to be used in the construction of houses. Inspired by the Kesinger House, designed by Stan Nord Connolly and one of the earliest homes built from insulation. Masters built his first house in 1969 in two-and-a-half days during a snowstorm using the balloon construction method; inflating a large balloon in the shape of each room and spraying polyurethane insulation foam around it. The house was no bigger than a trailer, but according to Masters, didn’t feel confining due to it’s high ceilings.

Masters thought these dome-shapes homes could work for others and decided to build a series of show homes throughout the United States. Tom Gussel, Master’s business partner, chose the name “Xanadu” for the homes, a reference to Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan’s summer residence Xanadu, which is prominently featured in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous poem “Kubla Khan”.

He opened the first Xanadu house in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Designed by Stewart Gordon and built by Masters in 1979, it was 4,000 square feet in area, about the size of an average home and featured a geodesic greenhouse. 100,000 people visited the attraction in it’s first summer.

Photo(William A. Ackel, 1994): Called the “great room”, it was the largest room in the house. The large false tree supported the roof, and also acted as part of the built-in heating system.

A second house was built in Kissimmee, Florida. The house was designed by Roy Mason, an architect who was influenced by other experimental houses and building concepts which emphasized ergonomics, usability, and energy efficiency and some of his work still survives today such as “Star Castle” and the “Mushroom House”. He believed his Xanadu house would alter people’s views of houses as just inanimate, passive shelters and more as an organic system.

Walt Disney opened the Epcot Center on October 1, 1982 which prompted Masons and Masters to open a Xanadu home several miles away. The house used an automated system controlled by Commodore microcomputers in which out of the fifteen rooms the home had, the kitchen, party room, health spa, and bedrooms all used computers and other electronic equipment heavily in their design. It opened in 1983 and was over 6,000 square feet in area, much larger than an average home as it was built as a showcase. At it’s peak in the mid 1980s, the attraction was being advertised as the “home of the future” and was visited by more than 1,000 people a day.

Photo: Children using the computer in the bedroom.

The Xanadu houses were considered a failed experiment. Other architects and designers saw Xanadu as an unprofessional design because of the materials used and the odd use of colors and shapes inside the home. Many others disliked the home for it’s low ceilings, curved walls, and cramped rooms.

By the 1990s, they began to lose popularity as the technology used in their construction became obsolete. The houses in Wisconsin and Tennesse were demolished, but the Kissimmee home continued to operate until it closed in 1996. It was sold in 1997 and used as office and storage space. By 2001, the house had suffered greatly from mold and mildew due to a lack of maintenance and was put up for sale again for $2 million. The house sat for a long time, and during that time, the house suffered even further damages as vandals and vagrants destroyed much of the inside. On October 2005, the house was demolished.

Though the initial houses are gone, the idea lives on. In 1993, the Xanadu of Sedona was built in Arizona, originally designed and modeled after the Xanadu home in Kissimmee. Said to be indestructible, it uses poured concrete for the domes instead of sprayed on insulation and is networked throughout for computer and internet use. The family hopes to open the house to tours sometime in the future.

Photographer: William A. Ackel
Year Taken: 1994
Website: http://wackel.home.comcast.net/~wackel/Xanadu/

Photographer: the owls go
Year Taken: 2004
Website: http://www.flickr.com/photos/theowlsgo/

Photos of what the house looked in July 1994, shortly after it closed to the public.



Youtube.com – Xanadu Home of the Future with Designer Architect Roy Mason

Photo by Nomeus, 2007 - Flurbex.com

Disney’s Pop Century, The Legendary Years

Photo(Nomeus, 2007 – Flurbex.com): The Legendary Years section was to be themed around the 1900-1940s decades

Disney’s Pop Century Resort is one of four hotels that cost less but still retain the Disney quality you expect. Originally planned to open in 2001, the opening was delayed due to a sharp drop in tourism following the September 11 attacks. The resort finally opened on December 13, 2003.

The hotel is unique as it is themed around American culture icons from different decades. The icons are then super-sized and placed throughout the building of the decade they pertain to, for example, the 1980s themed buildings have super-sized versions of Pac-Man and Mr.Potato Head.

Part of two phases, the first phase was named “The Classic Years” and includes 1950-1990s themed areas. This section of the resort consists of 2880 rooms, three pools shaped like a flower, a laptop, and bowling pin, and a central area called the “Classic Hall”.

The second phase was to be called the “Legendary Years”, which was to include 1900-1940s themed areas. The section was to be located across a lake from the “Classic Years” resort and connected by a bridge. Though construction on both resorts were started at the same time, Disney scaled back the project after the drop in tourism, opening the “Classic Years” section and abandoning the “Legendary Years” section that had already been partially constructed.

Photo(Nomeus, 2007 – Flurbex.com): The project was abandoned mid-construction

Disney began preparing the land around “The Legendary Years” in January 2010 and announced on May 12 their plans to complete the buildings as part of an all-new resort known as Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. As with Pop Century, it will be value-priced and will be themed around four of Disney’s popular films; The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Finding Nemo and Cars.

Construction began that same summer with the first section of the resort, themed around Finding Nemo, opening on May 31, 2012. When the “Legendary Years” buildings were first being built, a bridge named the ‘Generation Gap Bridge’ was constructed to connect both parts of Pop Century and made them accessible to each other. The bridge now connects Pop Century to the Finding Nemo section of the Art of Animation Resort.

The Cars section of the resort opened on June 18, 2012 and was themed after the Cozy Cone Motel from the film. The Lion King section opened on August 10, 2012 and features a more “natural” setting reminiscent of the wild. The final section of the resort, themed around The Little Mermaid, opened on September 15, 2012.

Photo(wdwmagic.com, 2012): The Cars section of the resort, themed after the Cozy Cone Motel from the film.

Photographer: Nomeus
Year Taken: 2007
Website: FLURBEX