Welcome to Jim Hill Media - Entertainment News : Theme Parks Movies Television

Kick Buttowski's Halloween episode features some great Disneyland gags

Jim Hill

Jim's musings on the history of and rumors about movies, TV shows, books and theme parks including Disneyland, Walt Disney World. Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood.

Kick Buttowski's Halloween episode features some great Disneyland gags

Rate This
  • Comments 0

For a little while there, as I was watching the Halloween episode of "Kick Buttowski - Suburban Daredevil" (which premieres tonight on Disney XD between 7:30 - 8 p.m. ET/PT), I thought that I had stumbled upon this genuinely cool theme park history-related story.


Mellowbrook at night. Please note that the Boston skyline looms in the distance.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

To explain: Sandro Corsaro - the creator of this Emmy-nominated series - once told me that "Kick Buttowski" is autobiographical. That as a kid growing up in Stoneham. MA. (which is this bedroom community right outside of Boston), Sandro had many of the same sort of adventures that Kick does in his cartoon show. Which is why Corsaro then makes a point of folding in as many references to his old hometown into each episode as he possibly can.

Which is why - if you actually know this Massachusetts town - you'll realize that the library, the town square, the elementary school, even a lot of the street names that are used on "Kick Buttowski - Suburban Daredevil" all have real-world counterparts in Stoneham.


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

So knowing this, I have to admit that I was kind of excited to see that "Dead Man's Roller Coaster" (i.e. the cartoon that airs during the second half of tonight's show) Kick's bratty older brother, Brad deliberately ditching this suburban daredevil and his good friend Gunther in the woods outside of town. And as these two stumble through a moonlit forest as they try & make their way back home to Mellowbrook, Kick & Gunther then comes across an abandoned amusement park


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"And why was I excited to see that scenario suddenly pop up on this Disney XD show?," you ask. Because Stoneham is just one town over from Wakefield, MA. Which is where C.V. Wood (i.e. the original Vice President and General Manager of Disneyland) built what was supposed to be the East Coast equivalent of The Happiest Place on Earth, Pleasure Island.


Image courtesy of the Friends of Pleasure Island

This would-be Disneyland opened in June of 1959. And even though hundreds of thousands of New Englanders would visited this 170-acre theme park to experience Disney-style attractions like the "Moby Dick Hunt," where a 75-foot-long mechanical version of the great white whale would rise from the depth and menace tourists ...


Image courtesy of the Friends of Pleasure Island

... Pleasure Island was never all that successful. Which is why - after the property changed hands a number of times, moving through four different sets of owners - this theme park finally closed for good in the Fall of 1969.


Image courtesy of the Friends of Pleasure Island

And over time, this $4 million project (which had been designed & built by many of the same folks who originally constructed Disneyland back in late 1954 / early 1955) gradually fell into disrepair.


Image courtesy of the Friends of Pleasure Island

And since no one was doing any maintenance work on Pleasure Island's elaborately themed buildings anymore ...


Image courtesy of the Friends of Pleasure Island

... those harsh New England winters really did a number on structures like the Hawkes Point lighthouse (which was basically Pleasure Island's equivalent of Sleeping Beauty Castle. That tall structure at the very center of this theme park which was supposed have served as - to borrow Walt Disney's phrase - the weenie that then compelled Guests to wander down in that direction).


Image courtesy of the Friends of Pleasure Island

Anyway ... In the 1970s, kids from Wakefield and the surrounding towns would regularly come on down to Pleasure Island and then scale the fence that surrounded the property. So that they could wander the streets of this now-abandoned theme park ...


Image courtesy of the Friends of Pleasure Island

... and explore the buildings that used to house shows like Pepsi Cola's Diamond Lil Show,  which used to be presented in the Nugget Theater in Pleasure Island's Frontierland-inspired section, Goldpan Gulch.


Image courtesy of the Friends of Pleasure Island

And since the abandoned theme park in the "Dead Man's Roller Coaster" episode featured a saloon that was just like the Nugget Theater ...


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

... where Gunther waited patiently for a Wild West show which looked to be very much like Diamond Lil's (Which - let's be honest here - was basically a ripoff of Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe Revue with Betty Taylor and Wally Boag).


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Well, given how everything else in "Kick Buttowski - Suburban Daredevil" seemed to be based on experiences that Sandro Corsaro had had while growing up in Stoneham, MA. during the 1970s, I just assumed that Kick's adventures at Meadowbrook's abandoned amusement park ...


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

... was based on Sandro's memories of having visited Pleasure Island when he was a kid.


Image courtesy of the Friends of Pleasure Island

So imagine my disappointment when - after I sent Corsaro a message via Facebook and then asked him to talk about that time when he had snuck one town over & scaled a fence in Wakefield, MA.  - that I got this note back instead:

No, the idea (for Kick Buttowski's abandoned theme park episode) was pitched relentlessly by the talented storyboard genius of Scott O'Brien. We thought it would be fun to respectfully spoof some of the gems in Disneyland.

Which then explains that attraction that Kick and the Phantom of Mellowbrook Amusement Park skateboard through, "Mr. Lincoln's Wild Log Ride" ...


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

... which features a pretty thrashed-looking Audio Animatronic version of Honest Abe.


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

If anything, Sandro was more excited to talk about the first part of tonight's Halloween-themed "Kick Buttowski - Suburban Daredevil," "Kick or Treat." Which not only features a few affectionate nods to Disney's Haunted Mansion attraction ...


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

... but also features a vocal performance by a genuine Hollywood Legend.

Debbie Reynolds ([who voices] Mary Van Der Deth [in "Kick or Treat"]) was unbelievable. She told me about Fred Astaire's late love in life for skateboarding! Now THAT would have been something to see.


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

And speaking of things to see ... If you'd like to check tonight's episode of "Kick Buttowski - Suburban Daredevil" (Which sadly, in spite of all my detective work, doesn't feature a single reference to Pleasure Island), be sure to tune to Disney XD tonight between 7:30 - 8 p.m. ET/PT.


Image courtesy of the Friends of Pleasure Island

On the other hand, if you'd like to learn more about the Disneyland clone which operated just one town over from Stoneham, MA from 1959 to 1969, then I'd suggest that you drop the Friends of Pleasure Island website. Where you'll find all sorts of images & articles that cover the colorful history of New England's version of the Happiest Place on Earth

Your thoughts?

Blog - Post Feedback Form
Your comment has been posted.   Close
Thank you, your comment requires moderation so it may take a while to appear.   Close
Leave a Comment
  • * Please enter your name
  • * Please enter a comment
  • Post