Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Disney Songs and Academy Awards

I was working on a project the other day looking for movie songs that have won Oscars. My daughters school is having an Oscar themed event and I was asked to supply a soundtrack. As I was looking at the The Academy Awards for Best Original Songs(BOS) listed I was pleasantly shocked to find that there were 10 songs that had won Oscars for the Disney Company over the years. The Oscar for this category began in 1934. Disney’s impressive run began in 1940 with ‘When you Wish upon a Star’ from Pinocchio. There were two other Oscars for BOS from what I call the Classic Era movies of Disney. In 1947, with an Oscar for ‘Zip a Dee Doo Dah’ in Song of the South and in 1964 for Chim Chim Cher-ee. From 1964 to 1988 there was a substantial lack of Disney Oscars for BOS. But that ended in 1989 with ‘Under the Sea’ from the Little Mermaid. For the next 12 years Disney would dominate in this category at the Academy Awards. From 1989 to 2001 Disney was nominated 19 times and won 7 Oscars. When you do the math that might not make sense. Then consider that in 1991 and 1994 they had three nominated songs for the BOS in each year. The along with 'Under the Sea', the New Era Disney Oscar winners were ‘Beauty and the Beast’(1991-Beauty and the Beast), ‘A Whole New World’(1992-Aladdin), ‘Can you Feel the Love Tonight?’(1994-LionKing), ‘Colors of the Wind’(1995-Pocahontas), ‘You’ll be in my Heart’(1999-Tarzan) and ‘If I Didn’t Have You’(2001-Monster Inc.).
In addition to the Oscar winners there have been a number of songs that were nominated for the BOS Oscar and did not win for the Disney Company. With the eventual Oscar winners included, Disney has had 29 songs nominated for Best Original Song. Some of the nominees: ‘Baby Mine’(1941-Dumbo), ‘Love is a Song’(1942-Bambi), ‘Saludos Amigos’(1943-Saludos Amigos), ‘Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo’(1950-Cinderella), ‘Bare Necessities’(1967-Jungle Book), ‘Candle on the Water’(1977-Pete’s Dragon), ‘Someone’s Waiting for You’(1977-The Rescuers), ‘Kiss the Girl’(1989-Little Mermaid), ‘Be Our Guest’ and ‘Belle’(1991-Beauty and the Beast), ‘ A Friend Like Me’(1992-Aladdin), ‘Hakuna Matata’ and ‘Circle of Life’(1994-Lion King), ‘You’ve got a Friend in Me’(1995-Toy Story), ‘Go the Distance’(1997-Hercules), ‘When She Loved Me’(1999-Toy Story 2), ‘My Funny Friend and Me’(2000-Emperours New Groove), ‘Our Town’(2006-Cars) and ‘So Close’(2007-Enchanted). A lot of my favorite songs.
Disney has surely shown that they are cyclic masters of the movie song. All of the above songs are available on ITunes and my source for this article was the
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences web site archives. It was great listening to a lot of these songs again while writing this post.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

YouTube Disney Gold: Voices behind the Characters

I've come across some more of that YouTube Disney Gold. This from the Disney Family Album that must have been taped off the Disney Channel years ago. This one is the "Voices behind the Characters" and is really good. The guy that posted it is Darthkoon and he put it up in 4 parts. Part 1 starts out with Hal Smith giving his Goofy as Jacob Marley in a Christmas Carol voice. Then we get to see the transition of the voice of Mickey from Walt down to Jimmy McDonald. It was also very cool to see Alan Young as the voice of Donald's uncle, Scrooge McDuck.
Part 2 has Kathryn Beaumont talking about her work in both Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. Part 3 Has a great insight into the casting of Phil Harris as one of my favorite Disney Character, Baloo. He shaped that roll into his own choosing which worked to the benefit of all. In Part 4, John Byner and John Hurt talk about the Black Cauldron. john Byner was a great comic and voice actor from the 70's and 80's and John Hurt of Alien busting out of his chest at lunch fame did some great work on an overlooked Disney cartoon.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

It's all in the Details; Epcot

Have you ever seen this scene before as you walk from England to France in Epcot's World Showcase? I have past this and taken pictures and have always loved it. This past trip I learned something that a lot of people probalbly know already, but it was a wonderful surprise to me. As I got closer I got another picture close up. With Disney, it's all in the details. After I took the close up picture I looked up and right across the river saw the scene in the painting. Without the boat, true, but the detail is really incredible. It makes sense that the artist would have been painting the scene in front of him, but to really see it for the first time was very cool. Hat's off to the Imagineers!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Happy Halloween Disney Style

Whenever you talk about the Disney Parks you can't help but talk about the way Disney plays up the details. They always go the extra yard to make your expereience that much better. It appears that is the case whether you notice it or not. Let me explain. If you have seen my Disney Legend posts, I like to show the legends window if they have one and if I can find the picture on the internet. So on this last trip to WDW I took advantage of some extra time a took a lot of pictures of the Windows on Main Street. What I did not notice was that most of the windows had a pumpkin near it for Halloween. I'm sure I noticed them but they did not stick out until I looked through the pictures after the trip. Here are some of the cropped pictures of those pumpkins. Leave it too Disney to do this. The question is, is this the Art department that decorates the park or is it Cast Members that do this for them.

Monday, October 6, 2008

And now, Back to the Blog!

Hello all! Sorry I have been away so long. It's amazing how much time getting laid off and then going to WDW for a week takes away from the blog. Well I am back and if you know anyone in the Philly area looking for an IT professional, send them my way. Nuff-said about that. The trip to WDW was great and I'm sure will fuel many posts. This is the first. Did you ever take a picture and knew you had seen it somewhere before. Here is a pic of the Snow Speeder over at the Star Tours exhibit, bottom left. Now with the 'So you wanna be a Jedi' stage over there, the final resting place of the Snow Speeder is on the Backlot Tour. It could be worse, it could be out of sight all together back stage somewhere. I went on this for the first time in a while and except for the Canyon itself, bleh. The other bright spot of the tour is the Wardrobe building. It seems to be the only true production part of the studio still working. If only for uniforms. Keep your camera handy there is a Wall-E in there on the left. That's where he's been hiding at the Studios. What a shame. Another redeeming quality is the AFI Villains exhibit at the end of the ride. Star Wars, Pirates and Narnia villains. There was also a Board of the top 50 movie villains which I'm sure I'll talk about later. They also had the AFI award winners board. Very cool stuff.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Floyd Norman's 'mr fun' Blog

I have been following Floyd Norman's Blog for about a year now. For those that might not know, Floyd has been a Disney animator and storyman for about the last 50 years working in both the Disney and Pixar studios. Floyd was made a Disney Legend in Oct. 2007. He was convinced to start a blog and it has been a treasure trove of great stories and cartoons. Today Floyd posted a story about the ins and outs of the design for Winnie the Pooh and Walt's reaction to the process. Very funny and enlightening. So check it out. The name of the Blog is Mr. Fun.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

We Need to Stand Together

As we get closer to the 7th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks I thought this was an appropriate post. This button is part of a set that were made right after the attacks in 2001 for the Epcot cast members and to be given out to guests. It was the reaction that a lot of us were going through early after that disaster. A feeling of let’s stand together against whoever had caused such destruction and loss of life. However, it was decided that it might not be sensitive enough so it was not released. My friends and I had a friend who worked and died on one of the top floors of Tower #2. There is not a day that goes by that we don’t think about or talk about Larry and how he’s missed. I look at this button, maybe a mistake at the time it was made, and only feel a sense of unity. And in a way, I miss the way we all stood together after the attacks. As we go through the election process I hope that all involved from the voters to the politicians remember that it is the UNITED States of America not the ‘Half That Think Their Right, More’ States of America.
We actually were on a trip to WDW in Nov. of 2001. We decided to keep the trip we had set-up pre 9/11. It was a very empty kind of 'forget the real world' kind of trip. Maybe that was the reason not to release the buttons. Keep the Maigc alive by keeping the real world just out of reach for those visiting the parks. (Once you got through the bag checks)
This button is not as rare as you might think. We got this one at MagicMeets this year. There are a couple of listings on Ebay right now. Have a great Labor Day and Remember those lost on 9/11.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Laughing Place has some Great Videos

For those that are in-between trips to the Disney parks, here is a link that'll help you get through it. Laughing is an all around Disney Web site. There is a lot of great information here. What really stood out was the amount of Videos they have posted on their site. There are all types of videos from rides, to Disney events, with red carpets and fireworks and parades.

Enjoy the Vids!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Looking back at the Animalympics

As we watch the 2008 Summer Olympics I can't help but think of an animated tribute to the Olympics that came out in 1980 that I had watched as a kid and my kids have just discovered this year. It was called the Animalympics. This was a great tribute/spoof of the modern Olympic games presented as the animals of the earth would approach the games. Voices were done by Gilda Radnor, Billy Crystal and Harry Shearrer. The writing is well done with a lot of great subtle humor. You will recognize a lot of classic stereotypes of Olympic athletes and commentators from the summer and winter games. Not Disney related at first glance, the studio that produced this was Lisberger Studios. However, when you see the credits you begin to see some pretty recognizable names.

This movie seemed to be the testing ground back then for a number of successful people today. Since TR2N is in the news let's start with Steven Lisberger. He directed and co-wrote Animalympics. One of the Art Directors is Roger Allen. He went on to work on Lion King 1 1/2, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast to name a couple. He also went on to direct a minor picture named the Lion King. Another of the art directors was John Norton. He went on to work on Tron and the Goofy Movie and he wrote Brother Bear and The Emperors New Groove. Bill Kroyer is listed as the Animation Director. Along with a number of animation credits in movies like, Garfield, Scooby Doo and the Green Mile he is listed as the animation director for the Making of Me, the Martin Short movie in the closed down Wonders of Life Pavilion in Epcot. One other name that stood out in the list of animators for Animalympics was the name of Brad Bird. He went on to direct two of the best Pixar movies in The Incredibles and Ratatouille. One last note, the music is done by Graham Gouldman from the band 10CC. The theme song is permanetly stuck in my head which is not really that bad a thing. it's pretty good. Below is a link to part of the movie that highlights the song 'We Made it to the Top'.
Here is a link to a nice site to give more information on the movie. Enjoy the movie and the Olympics!

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Disney Legend: Marvin Davis

As the Disney Legend's website says, the Disney Legend award was created "To acknowledge and honor the many individuals whose imagination, talents and dreams have created the Disney Magic" There have been 216 Disney Legends awarded since the inception of this award in 1987. Many of the names on this list are known to most Disney enthusiasts, but for every well known legend there are 10 that you might have never heard of. These are their stories.

When I was looking through the list of Disney Legends I came across Marvin Davis. At first I mis-read and thought it was Marc Davis, but no, there's Marc further up the list. When I first looked at Marvin Davis' Disney Legend write-up I was very intrigued. Mr. Davis appears to be a true example of the thin line at the Disney Studios between the Movies and the Amusement parks. Marvin Aubrey Davis was born in Covis, New Mexico in 1910. He attended UCLA and USC and graduated with a degree in Architecture. And then the next logical step? A job with 2oth Century Fox working on such movies as Gentlemen Prefer Blonde's and the Asphalt Jungle as an Art Director. After a couple of years in the motion picture industry, Dick Irvine, a friend of Marv's from Fox, hired him on at W.E.D. Enterprises. 'Marvin developed the first diagrammatic plan for Disneyland and remembered that on August 8, 1953, Walt dropped by his office and picked up a No. 1 carbon pencil and drew a triangle in the middle of the plan and said, "That's where I want the railroad to run." While Walt had the idea, it was up to Marvin to make it workable.With a degree in architecture, it was Marvin's job to translate Walt's ideas into workable site plans. Marvin was the one who scaled the park to match the acreage.'

Marvin did most of the layout that Herb Ryman used to create his concept art of what Disneyland was to look like. After the park opened up he showed his versatility by moving back to the camera side of the company in movies and TV. He worked for Disneys as Art Director on such movies as Follow Me Boys, Big Red and Moon Pilot. He worked on all of the Disney TV shows of the 50's and 60's; Zorro, The Mickey Mouse Club, Davy Crockett and Disneyland/Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. He won an Emmy in 1962 for Wonderful World of Color. Mr. Davis returned to WED in 1965 and was working on the Florida Project. "In addition to the master plan for the theme park, Marvin contributed to the design of such resort hotels as the Contemporary, the Polynesian and the Golf Resort. " Marv was responsible for the design of Main Street and the External views of the Haunted mansion. He also worked on early plans for Walt's dream community EPCOT. He was quoted, when discussing Walt and his ideas for the Florida Project, "...he(Walt) designed the whole traffic flow around EPCOT on a little napkin." After Walt's death, Marvin still felt it his responsibility as project lead to present the plans that had been completed for EPCOT to Roy Disney. 'When Marvin Davis presented his plans to Roy, they were met with a sad, simple, answer. "Marvin," Roy Disney spoke, "Walt's dead." So was the city known as EPCOT.' The entire EPCOT project reverted into the EPCOT Center that opened in 1982.
Mr. Davis retired from the company in 1976. He was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1994 and passed away in 1998. For all he has done for the Disney Company in so many ways, Marv was honored with a Window on the Main Streets of both Disneyland and WDW's Magic Kingdom.

He shares the window over the Bank in Disneyland with Dick Irvine and the one in Florida says; Walter E. Disney Graduate School of Design & Master Planning “We Specialize in Imagineering” Headmaster, Richard Irvine Dean of Design, John Hench Instructors Edward Brummitt Marvin Davis Fred Hope Vic Greene Bill Martin Chuck Myall .

The Walt Disney Family Museum has a great interview with Mr. Davis with video clips of many topics. Please check this out.

One interesting note, Marvin was married to Marjorie, daughter of Bill Cottrell, a Disney executive for over 40 years and niece to Lillian and Walt. Marjorie had actually co-starred in a couple of the early Alice series of live action/cartoon's Walt had directed.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

YouTube Gold: Disney Animation Special:The Illusion of Life

I was very well rewarded on this trip onto Youtube. Have you ever heard of the book Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life, written by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas? According to the Disney Books Web-site, "The Bible. Does not request any further comment. This is THE best book about Disney animation. Period. Found on every animator's desk (even non-Disney ones) and in every serious library about Disney." I was well aware of the book although not fortunate enough to have ever read it. I was more than surprised to find a 1981 TV special title: Disney Animation Special: The Illusion of Life. This was posted in 5 parts by Yensidtun over on Youtube. This special is hosted by Hayley Mills. The first part is an intro by her and then a storyboard and recording session withPearl Bailey as Big Momma from the Fox and the Hound. Part 2 has Ward Kimball discussing the early animation at the studio including all of those rubber hoses.
Frank and Ollie than step in and discuss showing a characters emotion and how important the right voice could be as we see with Snow White.
Part 3 has Ken Anderson talking about Walt's intro to the idea of SnowWhite to the animators. Frank and Ollie discuss various characters from features they had worked on.
John Musker and Hayley Mills look at animated facial emotion. Eric Larson talks about personality in characters such as Figaro and how the Live Action session with Peggy Lee helpedhim with Peg from The Lady and the Tramp. Marc Davis then shows a little of how live action helps the animator with help of Cruella. '...somehow out of your own experience there is a way this character should behave. This is the way they should do something.' Live action provided that experience. Part 4 has Marc Davis talking about the child like manor of Fred Moore which came across all to well with Mickey Mouse. And the worldliness of Bill Tytla that comes out on his work of Night on Bald Mountain and his work in Pinocchio.Mill Kahl continues about Bill Tytlas methods. Milt goes on about his own challenging work. Ward returns and talks about personality characters and abstract animation. "I would fight Boredom with Innovation." Part 5 has Glenn Keane getting inspiration from the Morgue from Woolie Reitherman's Bear attack scene and Woolie talks about it.Hayley takes us through the Ink and Paint, Camera, and Dubbing depts. We see some of the camera design and background art and even some character design from the Black Cauldron. Hayley ends with a quote she remembers from Walt, "The only limit to imagination is animation. How else could you see an elephant fly." Please enjoy these looks back. I did. Don't forget Disney Fans Youtube is your Friend. See you next time.

Sources: Wikipedia, Disney Books,

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thank You Fred and MagicMeets Staff!!!

This past weekend we attended MagicMeets in Harrisburg, Pa. My whole family went and we wanted to send a Big Thanks out to all involved in running this event. MagicMeets is a Walt Disney fan get together that was organized and run by Fred & Renee Block. Fred started this 5 years ago and it has grown since then. With Podcasters, Sponsors and even an Imagineer, we were entertained and had a blast. There were 550 attendees all looking to share Disney stories, talk to Disney experts in Travel and Imagineering, and most importantly to raise money for the Make a Wish Foundation. And raise money we did. Through Lou Mongello’s Dream Team Silent Auction, the contributions of various sponsors at the event including MEI Travel, Tim Devine, and All StarVacation Homes. With the help of the WDWToday guys broadcasting live and collecting money, we were able to raise $20,000 dollars. Can you say WOW?!?! With all the fun we had during the day the amount of cash raised was just icing on the cake. I had read that the previous year was just under $10,000. Needless to say, the calendar is set to make reservations for this event next year. A couple of not so random thoughts: Top 7 Stacey calling Mike Scopa live, Way to Go Giants!, Dave Anderson's insights into Walt, WDWToday Podcasting live, Lou was not as short as I was led to believe, Deb Wills Pirating the Cruise Line, standard WDW lines everywhere but meeting new people this way was great, food was good, Fred and the Segway coming through, Mousesurplus selling T-shirts like we were at a concert, many chances for raffles, we did not get anything in the Silent Auction...look out next year, and grown men crying on a stage for a great cause; Priceless.
Thanks again, all, for an event we'll remember for a while.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Lost American Adventure Narrator?

Didier over at the Disney History Blog posted a great article given to him by Jim Korkis. The article is titled 'DisneyLand is Good for You'. Written by Charlie Haas. This dates back to Dec. 1978. The article was great and explained a lot of how the architecture and colors are all there to put you at ease at the primal level. A very good article well worth the time to read it. One part of it jumped out at me though. John Hench was talking about a new attraction that they were going to put into Florida. Now this article was 1978, so I am assuming Epcot and based on what he says, it's the American Adventure. It seems that there were some changes made in the presentation of the show between it's Story-board phase and opening. John says,

"...though in Florida, we’re going to have a special pavilion about America and tell about America today, so we are taking on that problem. We have spokesmen for the past—Benjamin Franklin, Will Rogers and Mark Twain -but we don’t have anybody for the present the future yet. We’ll have animatronic figures of those three men, like Lincoln, and those figures speak to you. They have a living presence. As it were. Franklin will tell about what the American spirit really was how it came here and got started, then Mark Twain will take over for the great expansion, and Will Rogers will sum it up. Those last two guys were kind of iconoclasts, Mark Twain was certainly a balloon-buster if there ever was one, so it isn’t a Pollyannia kind of thing. But we’re backing it up with big images. ‘‘for the summing up and the future, that’s a problem. I don’t know who in today’s world sums it up as accurately as musicians, the young musicians. But who are they? They seem to be a collective bunch, they come and go like flowers. You never know—there’s no one guy. But they seem to distill an essence, the spirit of things today. Most of them are optimistic.”

My first thought was, I guess they could not come up with someone to be that last narrator. The show, as it is now, ends with a film montage that takes us through the decades from the 40's into the 80's and then Mark Twain and Ben Franklin return for a pep talk for the future. John Hench mentioned that he thought the remaining narrator would perhaps have been a musician of the day. The interview was published in 1978, so who would have been on the short list for this? John Lennon maybe or Billy Joel? One of the Beach Boys? That's a tough one. Or maybe an older musician like Frank Sinatra or Gene Kelly or maybe Lou Rawls? An interesting thought exercise. Outside of music I would have thought that perhaps JFK could have been a good narrator. The silver lining in this cloud is that in a future re-hab of this attraction, maybe we can see them pull out some of the old notes and add that last narrator.

Here are a couple of links with more of the standard information for the attraction and John Hench

Friday, July 11, 2008

Farewell Pleasure Island

Everyone by now has heard the news of last Friday that Pleasure Island down at DownTown Disney will be closing in a couple of months. My first instinct was “Oh, no! They can’t do that. After listening to a number of Podcasts this week and giving it some more thought I actually think this can be a good thing. I was looking for the original story that the Imagineers had created for Pleasure Island and came across this article from Wade Sampson and his Way-Back Machine over at Mouseplanet. The first half of the article talks about how the Pleasure Island that they are closing is a far cry from the Pleasure Island that opened in 1986. The remainder of the article tells the story of Merriweather Adam Pleasure and his family and the settlement of Pleasure Island in the early 1900’s. A very cool story you should enjoy. Wade, as I wrote this, came out with another article addressing the closing. Again, another good read. And one more set of links of what the actual plaques that were placed around the park said. Part1 and Part2

There are only two places at Pleasure Island I will truly miss. The first has been gone for years, the Fireworks Factory. We loved this place for the food and the way it looked. The second, and I think most people’s, is the Adventure’s Club(AC). We would always go here. This link to AllEars has a great description of the AC and what you could find in there on any given night.
We will have a couple more months to watch the final countdown so here is a big Kungalush to all of the other Adventurers’ out there. The only thing left once it closes is to keep a watch on Disney Surplus and Ebay for stuff their going to sell.

Friday, July 4, 2008

A Disney Legend: Joyce Carlson

As the Disney Legend's website says, the Disney Legend award was created "to acknowledge and honor the many individuals whose imagination, talents and dreams have created the Disney Magic" There have been 216 Disney Legends awarded since the inception of this award in 1987. Many of the names on this list are known to most Disney enthusiasts, but for every well known legend there are 10 that you might have never heard of. These are their stories.

Dolls by Miss Joyce, Dollmaker for the World. If you were walking down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom of WDW, as you pass the Toy Store next to the Arcade, take a look up at the windows and you’ll catch a glance of a very prettily decorated window with the above text written on it. From that one line you might be able to deduce that Joyce Carlson might have had something to do with the It’s a Small World attraction. Dolls and a World theme as the give away and you would be right. But there is so much more to Miss Joyce-y, as she was know to her close co-workers than It’s a Small World.
Joyce Carlson was born in Racine, Wisconsin on March 16, 1923. She and her family moved to Southern California when she was 15. After finishing High School in 1944, Joyce was in need of a job and was hired at the Disney Studios as a ‘traffic girl’. That is pretty much someone who delivers things through the company such as mail or office supplies to the animators through-out the studio. She earned herself the nickname ‘Hotshot’ after a character she resembled from a Comic Strip called Terry and the Pirates. It stuck with her for a while. After working
with the company for over six months Joyce decided that she wanted to do something more and interviewed for an Ink and Paint job. She had been busy in her first months at Disney and had a very nice portfolio put together that ensured her the job. At that time the Ink and Paint Department had the non-pc name of the ‘Nunnery’ for it was staffed almost exclusively with female employees. Miss Carlson worked on a number of projects in Ink and Paint starting with a number of the Training Film shorts for the government during the war. Joyce then moved up to features including The Three Caballeros, Cinderella, Peter Pan, and Sleeping Beauty. She was promoted to Lead Ink Artist for the production of Lady and the Tramp. With the 1960’s there was a big change in the animation process. With the Xerox machine Ink and Paint artist were not needed as much. Joyce was fortunate enough to get moved over to W.E.D. which would later become Walt Disney Imagineering. She was part of the team that created the models and designs for the It’s a Small World attraction for the 1964 Worlds Fair. Miss Joyce is credited with designing many of the singing and dancing dolls found in this attraction and she helped bring this attraction to many of the Disney Parks. Joyce has also worked on Carousel of Progress. She has worked with many Disney Legends including Mary Blair and John Hench. Through-out the 1980’s and 1990’s Joyce continued to work with Imagineering. Part of her job was ensuring the quality of any of the new attractions would be first-rate. Another part of Joyce’s job in her last years at Disney was in passing down to new Imagineers some of the tricks of the trade passed down from older animators/imagineers to her. Joyce was the first female Disney employee to have a 50 and 55th anniversary with the company. In an interview with Jim Korkis in 2000 Joyce says:
"I always
wanted to be in the creative end and I got my dream. I've still got lots of ideas and boxes and drawers filled with things and tools. Around Christmas, I get ideas and I make things out of Styrofoam. I love working with Styrofoam. I still have one of my pens from my ink-and-paint days where I can get any kind of line you want from thin to thick. I still get out into the parks. I still ride Small World."

Joyce Carlson passed away in January of 2008 at the age of 84. The next time your in the Magic Kingdom walking down Main Street or riding through It’s a Small World. Give a thought to the Imagineering involved and give a big Thanks to Miss Joyce-y.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Andrew Stanton Wall-e Interview

I was very lucky to come across a link over at Blue Sky Disney to an interview that Capone at the Ain't It Cool News Blog had with Andrew Stanton the writer and director of Wall-e. This is a great interview as he comes across as a regular guy who has a great love of the sci-fi shows and movies of the 70’s and 80’s. The interview is great and makes me want to get out and see Wall-E as soon as possible. Here’s a link to the interview. The other bit of interesting information to come out of this interview is verification that Pixar has indeed picked up the rights to John Carter on Mars and Stanton will be directing it. Here’s a quote from the interview:
I have been a fan of those books since I was 10, and I've watched vicariously from the sidelines as it has gone from studio to studio since I was in college in the '80s. And just as fan, wanting to see it be made, and praying to God it would be done right. I thought it was truly going to get done by Jon Favreau, and the minute it fell apart, I couldn't believe it. And the timing was just right with my schedule, and I said, "I don't know, this is crazy but I'm going to see if we can get it." And here we are. Believe me, if it doesn't fall apart for other reasons, I'm going to do it right, because I have been a huge fan of those books.
Here is a link to a previous post on John Carter of Mars

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Walt Disney World Rope-Drop

I always assume that the terms I use when discussing the Disney parks are known by all but was reminded this past weekend about a term that might not be widely know. The term is Rope-Drop. This refers to the ceremony that occurs in all parks at the beginning of the day. Each park’s ceremony might be a little different but they are all mainly the same idea. Before the park opens, you are allowed to go into the park to a certain point. In the Magic Kingdom; right at the tunnels under the Train Station. At Epcot; after you get past Innoventions to across from Mousegears. In the Disney Studios; near the Sunset Blvd intersection and in the Animal Kingdom; right at the bridge as you first view the Tree of Life. Only the Magic Kingdom and the Animal kingdom have real shows at the Rope Drop. Epcot and DHS really did not have a planned show as far as I can tell. The Disney Studios link is a link to a DisBoards post by Robo. This is a very detailed description of what to expect. Thanks Robo!
I have seen a couple of different versions of the MK show. Sometimes with the family of the day sometimes without. Sometimes with the train pulling up, sometimes not. Either way, right as the time for the park to open arrives you hear the music volume turn up and the Welcome song begins. One of the podcasts I listen to, Character Breakfast uses this song for their opening. The characters sing and dance with the family of the day and then they would open the park and then the Mad Dash would start. Look for more on that in another post. In the Animal Kingdom, as you are waiting for the ‘Rope-Drop’ an old and rickety Jungle truck drives in from the direction of Dino-land and has some of the Fab 5 on board. Mickey is missing but shows up later. They go through a nice script to welcome you to the park and then the Rope-Drop and the Mad Dash begins. Epcot was a little more relaxed in that I could not tell if there was a planned show. The Fab 5 come out dressed in shiny tuxedos and do a quick dance and then that rope-Drops and the Epcot Mad Dash begins. Similar at DHS. Although there were times where the Streetmasphere people do there shticks and then that Rope-Drops and the DHS Mad Dash Begins.
Here’s a couple of words about the Mad Dash I mention above. As soon as the rope drops people take off toward the attractions in what can best be described as a Mad Dash. Everyone is trying to get to those E ticket attractions that get crowded fast. Each park has two or three of these attractions. In DHS, most people make the Mad Dash to the Tower of Terror and the Rockin Roller Coaster. In Epcot, it’s Soarin, Test Track and Mission Space. This is a picture of the line for the Soarin' FASTPASS right after Rope Drop. Something to look forward to. In the Animal Kingdom it’s Everest and the Safari. The Magic Kingdom actually has two routes. The first for the kids is the mds-Dash to Fantasyland and Dumbo or Peter Pan. For the older crowd, the Mad-Dash is to the mountain of your choice. I would think Splash Mtn . and Big Thunder get the biggest share.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Does NASA have a Corporate Sponsor in Disney?

Coming back from the store this afternoon I was listening to the local news radio station and heard a report on how the NASA Space Shuttle crew were awakened this morning by the theme from the Mickey Mouse Club. Here's a LINK to the official NASA site, click on the correct format for Day 9. This follows hearing last week that Buzz Lightyear had indeed made it into space on this latest Space Shuttle flight also. And, as I read in this article there was a microphone stand from ESPN also going up in this flight. Pilot Ken Hamm is going to be on the Mike and Mike show, if he has not already. The flight also took a couple of other items into orbit including jerseys from Lance Armstrong and Eli Manning. So there is an ESPN tie in also. One other item that I knew about but did not put any importance on a the time was the NASA Space Day at WDW in Sept. of 2007. They are both in Florida so a little inter-state friendship is never a bad thing, but I wonder if the always $$$ strapped agency might be making a couple of bucks on this.

Monday, June 2, 2008

YouTube Gold:Looking Back through WDW TV Commercials

Here is another example of how Youtube is a Disney Geeks best friend. I was playing around the other day and came across some past Walt Disney World Commercials. There are a lot of them out there ranging from the early 1970's to David Cook, from American Idol, and his promise of going to WDW. As I watched these again I could remember most of them. Each from some different time as I grew up. It is also an incredible snapshot of a particular time. The way people are dressed shows a lot in how America looked at the time. Seeing the promise of new attractions that are now retired or old but true favorites is certainly a great nostalgic thrill also. How about Capt. Eo as a main attraction and the tease of a brand new Park Named Disney's MGM Studios? The other side is noting how these 30-60 second ADVERTISING spots are just that, advertising. You must keep that in mind while viewing. The full range of emotions are conveyed through various methods. Very effective. In fact, I want to go right now. See ya! ...I wish. Below are some links to the better of the commercials that I saw out there on the Youtube. If you want to see more, do a search on Walt Disney World Commercial, there are a ton.
This first embedded Video is a perfect example of how someone 'Gets it'. By 'Gets It' I mean the time when a person instead of saying, "Why are you going to Disney World again this year?" fianlly Gets It and is the person that now says, "We're going back to WDW again this year, wanna go?" I give the Disney advertising team a Big Gold star on picking up on this theme and making such a good commercial around it.

This is one of the first TV commercials for WDW. It's a little scary and odd, but I remembered it as soon as I saw the dwarfs. WDW 1971
This commercial from Delta has a lot of great flash-backs.
Here are a couple that can only be termed as before and after
. We did both the before and the complaints. Before=No Kids After=It's all about the Kids and again, After
As for emotional, if you have a little girl, this one will make you cry...just a little. Princess
Don't forget Disney Fans Yotube is your Friend. See you next time.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Live Streaming Video from Boardwalk Villas Boat Ramp

Boardwalk Villas and more Live! Here is a link for a live vid-cam set up overlooking the boat launch at the Boardwalk Villas. It's a small little dose of what's going on in one little piece of the world. It even sound like Jellyrolls, the piano bar, in the background. It's only up until June 8th. With Space Ship Earth in the background also, we'll see if we can see the fireworks or not. Enjoy. FYI, the picture to the left is not what you'll see on the link.

Live Cam Link

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Comcast OnDemand Disney Travel Videos

For those that have Comcast OnDemand, Disney has a couple of travel videos that you can watch for free. To get there, go into the OnDemand menu and click on Searchlight, then Travel&Leisure, then Disney Travel. You will then find 9 categories to choose from with one or two 5-9 minute videos in each one. They are as follows:

What's Cooking has a video from Jiko.
Making the Magic has a two parter about what went into the making of the Princess and Pirate Party.
Disney Insiders has a money saving video(nothing new) and a Jonas Brothers video.
Park Attractions has a video about Expedition Everest.
Live Events shows Daniel Powter in disneyland in concert.
Fact or Fiction. Does the Matterhorn have a Basket-ball court inside and are there really tunnels under WDW's Magic Kingdom?
Sneak Peeks has an American Idol and a Jonas Bothers video.
DreamMakers is a video of Joey Fatone giving away a stay in The Castle Suite.
Vacation Club has a video about the Animal Kingdom Villas DVC.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Maz Top 3: Magic Kingdom Attractions

My next top three list had a small flaw. It was to be The Maz Top 3 attractions in the Magic Kingdom. The flaw was that I am hard pressed to come up with my top 3. In my mind there are about a half dozen attractions(I'm trying hard not to say ride) that could be my number two ride in the MK. Based on that, this week I will name The Maz Bottom 3 attractions in the Magic Kingdom.

The number 3 Maz Bottom attraction is the Mad Tea Party. For those that might not know what this is, sit on your chair in the office and spin it around and pick up your feet. There you go. Okay, there is a little more to it than that, but not much. There is no queue theming. The ride only lasts 1 and a half minutes and after the age of 21 you have a very good shot at getting nauseous from it. I liked Alice in Wonderland just like the next peson, but not enough to bring me back to liking this ride. I'll leave you two thoughts, first, this is a ride that can be found in many amusement parks so what's the big deal. The other thought and perhaps a saving grace is at least we get a chance to watch a little Church Group Mom Whoop Ass the next time we wait on line for this. (That is just one more acronym for the masses; C.G.M.W.A.)
My second worst ride in the Magic Kingdom is the The Magic Carpets of Aladdin. I can see trying to get Aladdin into the park as the movie was very popular, but didn't Iago and his appearance over at the Tiki Room warn you about this? As everyone points out, this is Dumbo light. But there is a difference. At least on this ride you can get sprayed by water. I've been on it three times and each time we were not able to control the carpet. Waiting 45 plus minutes for this? I just don't get it. I rated this worse than the Tea Cups because the Tea Cups were created long ago and are traditional. Aladdin's Magic Rugs was built in the 1990's. No excuse. I love the scene from Mickey's Philharmagic of Aladdin and Jasmine. Let's chalk that up as the Aladdin reference and get rid of the Carpet ride. How about re-configuring that space for a nice Adventureland themed Rest.

And now the Absolute bottom most attraction at the Magic Kingdom is the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway. First of all, Tomorrowland? I think the model for the cars is very Yesterdayland. The other sad note about the TIS is that we will be driving gas powered cars in the 'Future'.
Now a word about the line at any given time of the day except for 5 minutes after rope drop:LOOOOOOOOOONG. Here is a quote from

"Since the queue is long and in an unshaded area, it's a good idea to bring a
bottle of water with you as you wait for your turn around the Speedway."

This is one rides line and they are telling you to take water. I see a couple Buzzards circling even now. If your real lucky, there might be a warm humid breeze blowing the fumes into the queue. Then you get in a car that only a kid really fits into. After you fold up your legs and begin your trip on a nice 7.5 mph cruise. Provided the little guy in front of you doesn't forget how to make the car go or you've got the pig of the cars and are getting rammed by the guy behind you or your engine dies in the middle of the track.(it happens) The last nail in the coffin of this attraction and it even over-rides the idea that this attraction was a WDW attraction from day one. This is another ride that can be found on any Boardwalk or amusement park around the World. So my advice to you little guys. When you get to that magic 52" mark and can get up early, ride it as much as you can. That'll end.
So that is the Bottom Maz 3 of the Magic Kingdom. What do you think?

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Disney Legend: Milt Albright

As the Disney Legend's website says, the Disney Legend award was created "to acknowledge and honor the many individuals whose imagination, talents and dreams have created the Disney Magic" There have been 216 Disney Legends awarded since the inception of this award in 1987. Many of the names on this list are known to most Disney enthusiasts, but for every well known legend there are 10 that you might have never heard of. These are their stories.

Milt Albright has a very distinct title among many. Milt is the very first Disneyland employee on record. But that is just the middle of the story. Milt Albright came from Missouri in the footsteps of another famous Missourian, Walt Disney. Milt started at the studios as a junior accountant in 1947. His job was basically writing out and delivering the checks to most of the people in the studios at that time. Even to Walt Disney. On some occasions they would share a story about Missouri. One of Milt's hobbies was automobiles. In 1953 he used that hobby to design a car for the new Disneyland Park that Walt was working on. As the story goes, Walt was not to impressed with the car, but he was big time impressed with Milt. Walt hired Milt Albright as the first Manager of Accounting for Disneyland. And that was it, Milt was the very first employee at Disneyland. There were other things for Milt in the Disney Company. In 1957, Milt was the manager of the short lived Holidayland. Holidayland was part picnic grounds, part circus, part corporate function area. Some of the Mickey Mouse Club members would perform here when not shooting the show. It's now the Disneyland employee parking lot. Per Milt, “It wasn’t any one thing that killed Holidayland. It was just the combined effect of a whole lot of things.” It closed in 1961. After Holidayland, Milt moved into Guest Services part of the company. While there he founded the Grad Night tradition at Disneyland. The first Grad Night was on June 15, 1961. Milt also developed and presented the Magic Kingdom Club, a chance for Disney park goers to get various discounts in the parks. Another major project of Milt's was the Disney News magazine which each Magic Kingdom Club member automatically got. The first issue came out in Dec. 1965. Milt's last position with the Disney Company was Manager of Guest Communications. He retired from the park in 1992. Milt is a Member of Club 55, the club for the original Disneyland employees. He received his Disney Legends award in 2005 and even has a window on Main Street in Disneyland.

"Milt Albright, Entrepreneur. No job too big, no job too small."