Steve Jobs passed away today. He had a massive influence on our society in general and perhaps Disney and it’s fans even more so.
I think Steve Jobs in many ways is a modern day Walt Disney. His image is so closely tied to that of his company, and he has so many legions of fans, that today must feel somewhat similar to the day Walt died.
We originally ran this piece a while back before many of you found us. In honor of Steve we are going to rerun it, though it focuses mainly on some silly minutia of Spaceship Earth is also reminds us of what a great inspiration Jobs has been for many millions of folks.
We all know that Steve Jobs is the man with the Midas touch these days. The CEO of Apple has taken the company he started (and was then forced out of) from the brink of bankruptcy to the largest and most influential tech company on Earth. Earlier this year Apple surpassed Microsoft in market capital and has not looked back since. When he is not cranking out magical devices he keeps busy
revolutionizing industries: computing, animation, music, phones, retail and more have all been massively impacted by Jobs work.
Of course Jobs has a strong connection with Disney as well. He has reportedly been instrumental in encouraging Disney to take a new and better approach to the Disney stores. He sits on the Disney board and is friends with Disney CEO Bob Iger. He became Disney’s largest shareholder (with well over 4 and a half billion, with a B, dollars worth of Disney shares) when he sold off his little pet project that he started in his spare time (you may have heard of it; it’s called Pixar). Look at the credits of any Pixar film and you will see Steve’s name prominently displayed. Even now in Toy Story 3 (created after Jobs sold Pixar to Disney) you will see a special thanks to him.
Surely a guy who is one of the richest and most influential people on Earth could be forgiven for having an ego. I mean he was part of the duo that created the first personal computer and he was only in his early twenties at the time. He has given touching inspirational speeches and survived a liver transplant. He has done more in his still relatively young life than most of us would do in 1000 lifetimes… so I can cut him some slack if he is feeling pretty good about himself.
Good thing it is Jobs and not Donald Trump with the Disney
connection or else this would be 24k GOLD baby!
Still, it felt odd when word emerged in 2007 (while Spaceship Earth was undergoing some updates) that Disney was adding a Steve Jobs figure to the time traveling attraction. This was the year after the sale of Pixar to Disney and many pointed to a certain petty narcissism on Jobs’s behalf, in essence forcing his way into the Epcot mainstay.
Wozniak and Jobs… “This board is a magical device that can hold up to 5 Songs!”
In the newly added scene Jobs reportedly was shown creating the first personal computer in his parents’ garage. The thing is that while Jobs certainly was doing that in the late seventies the real tech genius behind the creation of the first Apple computer and many other innovations was not Steve Jobs but Steve Wozniak, Jobs’s partner and co-founder of Apple.
Jobs’ parents garage, where it all really went down.
Jobs was always the showman, the big picture guy… frankly more of the Walt Disney of the operation. Wozniak (or Woz for short) was the nuts-and-bots mastermind who actually engineered this stuff and often built it from scratch (think of him as Ub Iwerks). It would certainly seem odd to depict Jobs as the creator of the computer and not tip a hat to Woz.
Lets take a look at the actual scene:
Get a job you lazy hippies!
When we see what it looks like, it is impossible to tell who that guy really is. With his back to us he is probably an amalgam of Wozniak and Jobs and every other bearded pot-smoking hacker of the time, or is he? If we take a closer look the answer becomes clear and the scene also gives parkeologists a great chance to snoop around.
(Wozniak on left, S.S.E. figure on right)
Same Shirt, Same Hair, Same Beard, Same Guy!
First of all, just look at the guy… he looks exactly like Wozniak and virtually nothing like Jobs. Jobs is (and was back then as well) tall and lanky, Wozniak is stocky and has much more heft… just like the figure we see on Spaceship Earth. Wozniak has always had a full scraggly beard just like we see on the attraction. They even dressed him exactly like Wozniak in the 70s (and probably today for that matter). By looks alone one would draw a pretty solid conclusion that this is Woz, not Jobs. It also plain makes more sense, since Wozniak would have been the guy soldering away, not Jobs.
8-track tapes, Albums, Posters… All Fleetwood Mac, all the time.
What were we thinking in the 70s?
But lets take a look around that cluttered garage for some other clues. There are some cute little references to “Mouser Electronics” and some other Disney touches like a Mickey Mouse sticker and even a somewhat oblique reference to Luxo Jr. (mascot of Pixar) in the particular desk lamp being used, but what’s the deal with this guy’s taste in music?
Luxo’s Cousin is sitting on the desk as well.
He’s got a Fleetwood Mac poster, a Fleetwood Mac LP and at least two Fleetwood Mac 8 tracks. Sure, Fleetwood Mac was big in the seventies but to have almost exclusive reference to one band seems odd. But maybe there is a reason behind it?
US Festival in 1982… First this, then EPCOT opens a month later, then
Woz ends up in EPCOT 35 years later… fate?
Not only has Wozniak publically stated that Fleetwood Mac is one of his favorite bands, but in 1982 a suddenly rich Woz sponsored (spending upwards of 15 million of his own money) the US Festival (that is pronounced as the pronoun, not as initials). This cultural and music fest was designed to rival Woodstock and incorporated more than just music, including technology as well. The first of what were two US Festivals was held September 3 – September 5 near San Bernardino CA. It featured artists such as The Police, The Grateful Dead, The Ramones, Talking Heads, Jimmy Buffet, Tom Petty, Pat Benatar and you guessed it; Fleetwood Mac. In fact Fleetwood Mac was considered the headliner, closing out the last day of the event. Clearly Wozniak has a warm spot in his heart for the band. Jobs on the other hand has zero connection to Fleetwood Mac, he was always more of a Beatles kind of guy.
We have a winner!
So between the fact that the figure on Spaceship Earth looks exactly like Woz, is dressed exactly like Woz, is tinkering away exactly like Woz, and shares the same taste in music as Woz, I think it is safe to say that he is in fact Steve Wozniak and not Steve Jobs.
Once home to free love and some of the biggest names in music, the US Festival
stage is now home to foam heads and lip syncing college kids.
Oddly enough though there is another connection to Disney. Wozniak built a large stage for the US Festivals. The site later became home of the San Manuel Amphitheater which is the largest of its kind in the U.S. but the actual stage and rigging were moved to Disneyland in 1985. Once at Disney the stage has served as the home of Videopolis and the Fantasyland Theater.
Going even deeper Lindsey Buckingham (Male Lead singer of Fleetwood Mac) went on to record “Holiday Road”. This song was used in the 1983 movie “Nation Lampoon’s Vacation”. Vacation is of course about Chevy Chase taking his family on a bumbling adventure to a Disney style park in California (Wally World). Many do not realize that the movie is based on an original short story written by John Hughes titled “Vacation ‘58” in which the family visits Disneyland and Walt Disney himself ends up getting shot in the leg! Beyond those connections is the fact that Fleetwood Mac has “Mac” right in its name… “Mac” as in short for Macintosh the famous Apple computers.
Crazy Cardboard Computer versus the doomed Apple Lisa
And speaking of computers; when the newly remodeled Spaceship Earth first opened the Wozniak scene featured some sort of crazy, giant, cardboard / wood hybrid of a computer that looked like a prototype of the Apple Lisa which was the computer that directly preceded the Mac.
Less crazy new computer seen on SSE today and a real Apple-1
However the Lisa did not come out until 1983 and the ride’s narration informs us that the scene is set in 1977. In fact the computer Woz is shown working on clearly has a floppy drive, a technology that would not be around for years to come. Today a smaller unit housed in a wood casing, something much closer to the Apple-1, has replaced the original computer.
You know that if you click these they get bigger… right?
Look closely at that red cooler to the left.
It’s fun to dive into the scene and look around… see that old handheld electronic game sitting on the red cooler? That is a Coleco “Electronic Quarterback” game that came out in 1978… as we know the scene is set in 1977 so maybe Woz and Jobs created a time machine as well?
A year off the mark.
This is a rare case of Disney messing up… they meant to use the Mattel Football game that was introduced in 1977 but I guess we can forgive them. Where there is a geek parkeologist any mistake will be caught… Disney needs to learn this.
Great info… thanks for the feedback!
Hi! I was the field art director for the Spaceship revival. You are correct. Everything on the exterior of the set was based on Jobs’ house, down to the blue trim around the garage. As for the interior, I told the decorator to use things from 76-78. We did not know the script was going to announce that it was 1977 because the script writer didn’t think the art director needed to know!
Another funny set was the newsboy set. The exec producer wanted that set redone as a snowy winter scene. As we began to icicle and snow up the set, I repeatedly asked what the headline on the newsboys paper was going to say. I got put off and put off til the snowjob was complete. Then I was told the newspaper was to say Civil War Over. I pointed out to the writer and exec producer that the Civil War ended in April and the likelyhood of snow and icicles was remote. The set had to be chipped clean and entirely repainted back to its original look. True story.
looks more like 70’s era Stephen King to me
The wizzard is Woz
I hadn’t heard about that new scene in Spaceship Earth before I saw it for the first time. I remember gasping and saying to my friend, “Is that who I think it is? Is that Woz?”