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.