Thursday, January 31, 2008

Fantastic Plastics Works At Epcot's Innoventions East

On our last trip to WDW we did something I have never done before which falls into the general theme of this trip. We spent a lot of time at the Innoventions exhibits In Epcot. For the most part, on previous trips, we would bypass this to get further into the park and usually as we passed that way again later on, Innoventions would be closed. This trip however, we all decided that we want to spend some time exploring the exhibits they had to offer. They were all fun, but today I wanted to talk about the Fantastic Plastic Works or the Robot Exhibit sponsored by THE SOCIETY OF THE PLASTICS INDUSTRY, INC. This caught our eye because of the size of the area and all of the activity going on around it. This exhibit is billed as a Design your own robot, compete with it and then build it. It is not quite that as you will see. As you wait online, there is an area of monitors and devices that show you how molecules are combined to create different types of plastic. The next step is to get into the intro area. Here we had all of the specifics about what we were to do explained as we waited for the group in front of us to finish. Once they were done we were escorted into the computer area. Each person had a big terminal to create their own robot on. The wife and I did not take a station, we hung behind the kinds in order to help them out. You have control over all aspects of designing your Robot. It can be designed for looks or performance. The idea is that after your design is done, you can then run a race versus about 10 other people’s robots. So along with looks you want to make sure it is fast or maneuverable. To make your robot go, there are large pads on the floor that you need to run on. There are also pads to move right or move left. The race course is more like and obstacle course. I think you jump but jumping and landing on both feet. There is a time limit for all of the above. The boy did well in the race, our daughter did not do as good. Even with me jumping in at one point to keep her robot on course. However, at the end, everyone is asked to vote for the coolest robot designed. The big screen let you see everyone’s robot. My daughter came in first in design. My son came in 4th. After this part was over we were moved along into another area where we were able to grab parts for our robots. Here was the confusing part. The robot you build is not the one you designed. We had thought that this attraction was smart enough to take our design, produce the parts and let us build it. But, not the case. There is a standard robot design that they have the parts for. So, two legs, two arms, two sides of the head and two sides of the body is all you need to assemble your robot. At the back of this room was a plastic press machine making the parts we were using. It appeared to be really making the parts as they were dumped into a barrel at the end of the process. All automated and very cool. We took Tobor and Alice home with us. This post came about because we just dug them up this past weekend to play with. Here is a link with more information about this exhibit from And here is an extra bonus, the web site that let's you do everything that you can do at the exhibit. It's Fantastic Plastic Works. This is a very fun site. Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I have been hearing about for about two months now. A couple of the podcasts I have been listening too mentioned it. I even received a couple invites in my email. I finally took a look at Disfriends and set up my page. Up until now I have been able to stay away from MySpace and other sites like that. But this is a little bit more of a specific site looking for people who really enjoy all things Disney, so I joined up. This is a very fun site. There are a lot of people from the Disney Online Community that have joined up also. You can share stories and pictures and meet up with people from all the various Disney based message boards online. So, take a trip over to and set yourself up.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Mouse Lounge Podcast

The Mouse Lounge podcast has been around for a while. "With Mouse Lounge Martini in hand", Gary Chambers puts out his Mouse Lounge podcast each week. He is a very knowledgeable host who puts a lot into his podcast. If you listen to Disney Podcasts, you find that there are a couple of categories that a Disney Podcast can fall into. The first type of podcast are your Park Experience podcasts. These are the guys that tell you everything you wanted to know about a trip to a Disney Park. Another type of Disney Podcasts are the ones that cover Disney movies and history. The third type does it all. Gary’s Mouse Lounge podcast falls into that third category. His show gives you audio of attraction ride-throughs, Disney History and great commentary. His most recent show, #30, is a perfect example of what you can expect from this podcast. After he talks about the current news, Gary then has a recording from the Jan 18, 2008 opening of the re-mastered of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians from the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood Ca. What is special about this recording is the Leonard Maltin lead panel discussion before the movie started. Other panel members are Alice Davis, Eric Goldberg, Lisa Davis, and Blaine Gibson. Next he has a ride through of the Figment attraction from Epcot. Then Gary has put together a couple of audio clips of Walt Disney talking about money and how he earned it as a young man and the early years of the company. He finshes with a couple versions of the song Cruela Deville.
Gary put’s out a great podcast. I hope he continues in this endeavor for all of our benefits. So if you have any interest in The Walt Disney properties whether park or film, please check out Gary Chambers at the Mouse Lounge. Martinis are optional!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The history lesson continues...

One of the projects I have been working on for the last 5-6 months has been as a digitizer. Basically what this means is that I receive hand typed interviews in the mail and then scan them into my computer to make them available in Word document format. Sounds pretty boring, right? Not when you consider the material I am scanning. They are interviews of family members and employees(friends) of Walt Disney.
About 6 months ago I was reading some of the Disney blogs that I visit. One of them is run by Didier Ghez and is called the
Disney History Blog. I mentioned his blog in an earlier post about pursuing my interest in history related to Walt Disney. This is a great Blog that concentrates mainly on all forms of Disney animation and the history of Walt Disney. Didier is also known for his series of books titled, Walt’s People’. These are a series of books that have interviews directly from the people that worked with or were friendly with Walt Disney. There are 5 volumes with a sixth coming soon. Didier had put out a request for help on his blog. He had just received a number of typed interviews and wanted help digitizing them. I had just gotten my new 3-in-1 printer of which a scanner was one of the three so I responded to him. I received my first interview a couple of weeks later. I have scanned, and of course read interviews from Frank Thomas, Card Walker, Ruth Disney, Dick Irvine, Bill Cottrell, Bill Anderson and more. I have read many interesting stories and remembrances. I think the importance of this compilation of interviews is that they let you see a person’s complete thoughts. What I mean by that is that most of the biographies that quote someone about Walt use a line or two that was said and that’s it. You can’t really tell, for the most part, if that was what the person really thought or if it was a quote taken out of context to help an author prove a point. Here is an example. In some of the Walt biographies there is mention of the trip to South America in the Early 40’s as a way to get away from the strike at Disney Studios. Based on some of the responses from Frank Thomas, who was on this trip, he makes it seem like it was purely a business trip and a meet and greet for those fans south of the Border. A new way to find more topics to create new films. The way Frank goes over how the trip went, tells volumes of what that trip was really like.
So as my education in the History of Walt Disney and his company continues, these interviews have certainly added much to that goal. The sad part is I think I am almost to the end of these interviews and will need to start buying Didier’s books to keep up with all of these great stories. If you have the opportunity, check out this series of books. You will not be disappointed

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Visit to Epcot's Base21

Base21 is the Siemens run meeting area, banquet facility and employee relaxation station located beneath Epcot’s Spaceship Earth. It was opened this past summer and we could not wait to visit it on our last trip. To start the visit process out, I logged on to the Base21 web site before we left from work. Through the web site I was able to schedule my visit. I then received an email back with a pin number needed to enter Base21. Flash ahead a month and with this pin packed we made our way over to Base21 on our third day in the parks. The entrance to Base 21 is on the right side of SE as you walk into the park. As you pass where the stand-by line maze was, the entrance is on your left. It actually shares one of the main entrances to the SE Post show. As soon as we walked in the door we turned left instead of continuing into the post-show and we went through a door into a small room. There was a small computer screen and a key-pad set into the center of the wall and a locked door to the right. I entered our pin and I guess it was correct in that the door opened up to a small entryway with a Elevator and a stairway inside. We took the elevator up and were greeted as we got off by the receptionist who asked us to sign in. As I was signing in, we were all looking around. This was a very cool area. There was an information kiosk with a lot of Siemens technology on display. There was a video screen and an announcement boards listing park events for that day. We were then greeted by Jim, one of the Siemens reps. He filled us in on all that Base21 can do. He then showed us a Computer datapad that had a floor plan of Base21 on the screen. He touched a color and then the floor in our area, after a couple of seconds turned to that color. He was demonstrating the quick wireless communication with the Datapad and the mainframe that runs Base21 and Spaceship Earth. The kids loved this and for the next 10 minutes changed the floor in the visitor center all colors of the rainbow. This area also had coffee and soft drinks available. The only part of the visit that was a bust is that when you are finished you are led through a VIP doorway to get onto Spaceship Earth with no line. As the ride was down for re-habbing, we did not get to do this. After a drink or two and some inside information about the changes that were to occur in Spaceship Earth, we said goodbye to Jim and made our way downstairs to the Post-show exhibit. It is a room kind of like the Innoventions rooms that had a huge rotating Earth Globe in the center of it. Around this were some demo games. This first was a driving game that demonstrated the different kinds of driving technology that Siemens is developing. From radar windshields to see through fog and laser wipers to cut through ice to a driving system that would take over for you in case your car goes out of control. The second was a 3D Medical procedure device. With the help of the 3D glasses and some computer control handles, you would put together virtual parts of the virtual human anatomy as they passed by on a conveyor belt. All very cool. There are rumors of a third attraction for in here also we did not see it, but I have read a couple posts that talk about it being a city management program.
Base21 was a fun visit and we will be sure to stop by again next time we go.