Listen to Michael Iceberg at the Galaxy Palace Theater from 1995
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“Michael Iceberg and the Iceberg Machine.” I paused for a moment and contemplated those six words printed on a sign outside the Galaxy Palace Theater, which were followed by showtimes. I recognized them, but this was September of 1995 and it had been over a decade since the synthesizer wizard had appeared at the park. I don’t think I’d run as fast into an attraction since Hoot Gibson and I saw the placard stuck at the entrance of Disney-MGM announcing the soft opening of the original Star Tours.
It was real, it was him. It was as crazy and amazing and weird and magical as it had ever been, but now even more so. Prior to the show, the sound of Michael’s voice came over the PA system purporting to be T.A.P.I.O.C.A. (Tomorrowland Automated Program Information and Official Comment Announcement system), cracking several super-specific jokes which referenced new Tomorrowland’s backstory and pitching the show.
Once it started things got even stranger and better. Iceberg’s machine was in the form of a golden pyramid and as “Also sprach Zarathustra” boomed over the sound system, it was slowly approached by performers in daygo colored monkey suits that had to be leftover from Disney on Parade, in a parody of 2001: A Space Odyssey’s “Dawn of Man” sequence. As the first monkey touched the shiny surface, a car alarm went off, scattering the simians and opening the top of the pyramid to reveal Michael. Holy crap, shit just got real.
And off he went into the Michael Iceberg zone, bringing the audience with him through space and time just as he had done for so many years in the Tomorrowland Terrace. But this time Disney, amazingly, was actually trying to plus things. There were dancers with choreography and stories baked into the show. There was effort.
I looked around to get a gauge on the audience. There were a handful of us who remembered and you could tell by their expression we were all on some other astral plane. There were children with the pained expression that was a combination of confusion and delight that my own face must have wore when I first experienced the Iceberg Machine. Then there were the hapless adults who just wandered into the show because it was going on who clearly did not get it.
If there would have been cell phones or Twitter or any other way to get messages out back then, I would have called or tweeted all of you to see it. But we didn’t have that then. I did have my MiniDisc recorder with me so I was able to record it to share with you now.
After the show was over, I was able to overhear some Disney people talking to Michael’s wife, who was seated in the front row on the benches to the left of me. Disney had brought him in for a few days of test performances both in the Magic Kingdom and at EPCOT to see how things went. Ultimately, they must not have been convinced, because when I came back the next weekend the theater was empty again. But for the few of us there, it was magical. It was Disney. It was the future that never was, the way it was meant to be.
The show was recorded on September 17, 1995, in the Galaxy Palace Theater at Rocktower Plaza in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.
Sony MZ-1 MiniDisc recorder
Radio Shack 44-533 telephone pickup
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