Christmas arrives early with movie promotion efforts at N.C. Transportation Museum
By Noelle Edwards
SPENCER ó Early October isn’t quite the Christmas season, and temperatures in Rowan County over the past week were hardly icy.
Still, when the Disney Christmas Carol Train Tour pulled up at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, staff members did their best to make sure it brought Christmas with it.
The train is decked out on the outside with snowy movie graphics and inside with Christmas decorations and a crackling fake fire. Singers from Raleigh in Dickens-era costumes sing Christmas carols. Machines blow bubbles made to look like snow.
Events Friday and today are promoting Disney’s “A Christmas Carol,” which opens Nov. 6 and stars Jim Carrey in several roles. An inflatable theater shows a movie preview and movie scenes in 3-D, and the inside of the train is equipped with several pieces of technology to tell visitors about the movie and show how actors’ faces and movements were mixed with animation.
Screens in nearly every car play behind-the-scenes videos. One car is lined with screens creeping up each sloped wall, showing what producers and editors would see in putting together the movie. For instance, one shot shows Carrey’s face, covered with dots to track his movement, another shows just the animation, and a third shows the two combined.
Another car has stations where a visitor can have a photo taken, then use a computer program to morph his or her face into the face of a movie character.
The Spencer exhibit is the 34th stop in a 40-stop tour. Samantha Schwartz, spokeswoman for the tour, said Disney chose stops based on an area’s willingness and ability to have such an influx of people and to deal with the logistics.
For instance, the theater where the preview is shown is 60 feet by 60 feet and 25 feet tall. Schwartz said many possible areas near railroad tracks don’t have space to set up the theater, which travels with the train.
She didn’t take a guess at how many people might come during the two-day event.
Mark Brown, who does public relations and marketing at the museum, said estimates in other cities have been as much as 7,000 people a day.
Schwartz said the Thomas the Tank Engine exhibit that came through the past two weekends helped prepare people for the Christmas Carol train.
“It will be a very busy weekend,” she said.
Brown said the exhibit will let people who don’t live in Spencer know about the museum.
The Transportation Museum set up a gift tent and areas for food vendors. Museum exhibits are open today, and train rides are available at normal rates ($6 for adults). Brown said the biggest preparation on the museum’s part was getting the staff ready. Otherwise, Disney took care of the rest, he said.
“They knew what to do and where to go.”
The Disney train brought its own skeleton staff of 10 people. The other people taking tickets, guiding visitors through the train and answering questions were from the area, mostly Charlotte, said Lauren Dalrymple, a local publicity representative for Disney.
For more information, go to disney.go.com/disneypictures/christmascaroltraintour.