Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Princess and the Frog; A Disney Legend Cameo

We just got back from seeing The Princess and the Frog. It was as great as it was advertised. The animation, backgrounds and story were first rate Disney. Throw that together with a great sound track and I am already looking forward for DVD. I was happy to note that Disney's tradition of head nodding toward history in their movies is alive and well. I don't think it would give anything away to mention this. It'll even make your watching this movie a little more magical. In the finale of the movie, there is a bad playing. On the base drum I read that the bands name was "The Firefly 5 Plus Lou". For those that have followed Disney History, this is a clear nod toward the Firehouse Five Plus Two and Louis the trumpet playing Aligator in the movie. The FFPT was a loose band of Disney artists back in the early 1940's that would get together to just play. They became more popular and in their hey-day, they actually released a couple of albums.
Well, after reading that on the base drum I took a closer look at the band and wouldn't you know it, there was Frank Thomas playing his heart out on Piano. It was a quick look, but it was pretty obvious it was Frank. These are the "Hidden Mickey's" of movies that just let us know that this is never just a 9-5 job for the artists that draw these great animated movies.
Go out and see The Princess and the Frog it was great. I can't wait to see it again.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

One Man's Dream Jet Pictures

I had just uploaded some pictures of Walt's Office from One Man's Dream for a friend on The Walt Disney Boards. He's going to design an office around it, but I digress. While looking through the pictures I was going to give him I did a small double take at the picture to the left. On the bottom of the board there are a couple pictures, four to be precise. I had never looked closley at them due to the overwhelmingness of the entire room. But since I was taking a look again I used the zoom control and really took a look. I was expecting pictures of the WDW project or maybe some attraction shots form Disneyland. What I found was pictures of the interior of what must have been Walt's private Jet. The one that is on the Backlot Tour and that Walt took back and forth from California to Florida when he was working the WDW deal. The plane now resides on the BackLot tour with it's easy to recognize Mickey on the tail and the Plane ID known by Air Traffic Controlers at the time; N234MM. That would be N-2-3-4-Mickey-Mouse. The interior looks very luxurious for the time. A lot of wood and what seems like a lot of space.
I would throw this into the category of it's all in the details. And the moral of this story? Take a lot of pictures and make sure you look at them later. you never know what you'll find.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The DisneyShawn Blog, "The Story Behind the Story"

This is one of my favorite things to do with this blog. Being able to share information with readers and fellow Disney Gee..., I mean Disney Ner…, uh, that is Disney Enthusiasts is paramount to my goals here. I was listening to the WDW Today guys and heard a show that will change the way I view the parks from here on out. The name of this episode was ‘The Story Behind the Story’. The guys had a guest on this show and his name is Shawn Slater and his blog can be found here;

DisneyShawn .

Here is a description of Shawn from his site, “Shawn Slater has had a long and varied career with The Walt Disney Company, including stints as a writer for Walt Disney Entertainment and Walt Disney Imagineering. His love for the Disney Parks manifests itself in a passion for their history, heritage, and seemingly infinite levels of detail.”

As Shawn says in his bio, he was a writer for Walt Disney Entertainment and Imagineering. From being on numerous projects he has some great insight into the who’s, why’s and what’s of a lot of various items. The show on WDW Today was about Shawn’s involvement in the creation of Ye Olde Christmas shop in the Liberty Square section of the Magic Kingdom. Shawn goes thru the process he went thru in writing the storyline behind the Christmas shop and into some of the facts behind the story of Liberty Square itself. There is a great story here and it’s only for a retail shop. Not an attraction or ride or parade, but a store that sells Christmas items year round. True to the Pledge of the Disney Company, everything needs and has a story. And Shawn’s blog has plenty. At one point in the podcast Mike Scopa asks Shawn if they should take the story written for Le Olde Christmas store and post it outside the store so everyone can read about the story. Shawn’s answer was that basically Disney didn’t want people to come all the way to the parks just to read. The guest should be part of the story as opposed to reading the story. After listening to Shawn's stories and reading his blog, my first thought was tour book. Perhaps an extended version of the Imagineers Handbook series.

Shawn has a lot of great stories on his Blog and I can’t wait to go thru all of them. This is another of those sites that just adds so much to upcoming trips. Both in keeping myself in the Disney Attitude when I am months away from another trip and as a reference to enhance my trips to the parks. So please check out Shawn's Blog

Friday, October 23, 2009

Contempo Cafe Review - Aug 09

On our most recent trip to Walt Disney World this past August we ate at a new restaurant located at the Contemporary Hotel. The Contempo Café is the newest restaurant to open at the Contemporary and it was a pretty good find. It is a Counter Service(CS) Rest. And we had not even known it had opened until we heard about it on one of the various Disney Podcasts
we listen to. On this trip, our first day was split as we were coming into Orlando around 1:00 pm. So instead of fighting our way to the hotel and then into a park, we decided to make a nice and easy afternoon/evening for the first day. So part of our first day activities was to take a ride on the monorail around the lake and then switch monorails and on around Epcot. Well the Contempo Café fit right in with those
plans. We arrived for dinner around 6:30 and it was not that crowded. This restaurant is located in the Canyon of the Contemporary where the monorails run. The ordering computers are right beneath the
big, beautiful, and colorful Mary Blair mural. And the entrance to the restaurant is right next to the entrance to Chef Mickey’s. We even had a mini character meet as we got to say hello to Donald and Goofy who were hanging out at the Chef Mickey entrance. The Café eating area is as open as the rest of the Canyon at the
Contemporary is. Since the entire canyon area is open, you only have 4 foot walls denoting where you walked into the restaurant. As you walk in, there is a menu posted directly in front of you with all the restaurants offerings. This CS serves breakfast lunch and dinner from 8:00am thru 12:00am. I direct you to the menu at Allears.net as theirs is very complete and accurate. There are many offerings from sandwiches to flatbreads. Burgers and salads and even the requisite kid’s meals, Pizza/Burger/Nuggets. We ordered off of the computerized kiosks and received a receipt with a number on it to pick up at the window when the order was completed. The computers were the only bad part of the experience. We had some issues navigating and getting it to recognize finger touches. I mentioned
this to a Cast Member as I am a computer guy and hate to see a good thing such as a computerized menu ordering system not work to potential. He said they were getting ready to re-load software to these machines to fix some bugs. Not the term to use in a restaurant perhaps, but maybe by time you go the kinks, a much more restaurant friendly term, would be out of the system. The kids had Chicken Nugget and Cheeseburger kid’s meals and I had the
Honey Lime Chicken sandwich served with Green Bean Salad. It was early in the trip and chicken was not a bad word at dinner yet. The entire meal was prepared and out in 5 minutes.
The food was all very good. Moist chicken and a great sauce was all it took for me. The kids had no complaints either. I was about to say we had a very peaceful meal, but in that location it was really anything but peaceful.
As we watched the monorails race by and people running to get to their ressies at Chef Mickey’s our world, at that moment, after a day of traveling, was relaxing. In a nutshell this could be considered just another resort Counter Service restaurant, but with the added attraction of the location, this place was a Thumbs Up experience for us. Next time you might be staying at the Magic Kingdom hotels or taking a break from the parks, the Contempo Café is a great stop to recharge your mind and body.
Thanks to WDWMagic.com, Waltsbasement.yuku.com and Hotels.about.com for help with pics.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy Birthday Walt Disney World!!!

To celebrate the Birthday of the Happiest Place on Earth I present a link to a video made by the Disney Parks Blog. I am still exploring this site after hearing about it on the Walt Disney Boards forum. This is a day in the life of the Magic Kingdom presented in a whole other way. They use a process called Tilt-Shift Video that makes everything and everbody look like toy models. By taking, I would guess, thousands of pictures and putting them together they have created a very beautiful look at a day at the Magic Kingdom. There are a couple really nice shots of all of the Disney Transportation and really inspiring video of the Spectromagic parade. WOW!



A Model Day at the Magic Kingdom







Enjoy the video and let others know that it's that good.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Walt Disney, the Great Educator

I have the privilege to digitize interviews of Disney Studio employees and their relationships with Walt. This effort is part of the Walt's People series of books put together by Didier Ghez. By doing this I come across the greatest information. The latest interview was one of Carl Nater. Carl was a production coordinator during the World War II days at the studios. Later on he was President of the Disney Studio 16mm division that made mostly educational films for private companies such as GE and General Motors. He gave a very specific and clear narration of his years working with Walt Disney in this interview. He worked closely with Walt when the studio was spending 90% of it's time making training and public service films for the armed forces. Mr. Nater had many stories about Walt and the beginnings of the Studio's interest in educational films.

In the interviews I transcribe and digitize, there is always a part of my brain listening to the stories I read and trying to see how they fit into the life and achievements of Walt Disney. It's like a jigsaw puzzle that gets more and more complete as you add each piece. Carl's stories were very amusing and more like memories as he was speaking into a tape recorder. This interview was given in 1972. Over all, there was this constant theme of Walt's push to educate as well as entertain. In Nater's words about Walt, "I'm convinced he would have been very, very pleased if he had gone down in history, if he had been known as one of the great educators as well as being one of the great entertainers."

Reading Carl's stories and thinking of Walt and education made me reflect on a famous Walt Disney quote, "I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained." At first look, this quote seems to say that Walt had decided that it was better to entertain than educate. But a story that Carl told says different. In the early days of World War II right after Pearl Harbor, the armed forces were desperate to get good quality training films created to help train the American fighting man making his way from civilian life to a fighting soldier or sailor. The Studio's first project was to work on the subject of aircraft identification. The Storymen working on this project were at the mercy of the military as to how to make these kind of films. After-all, Disney Studio never made a Military training film before. All through the process the Disney guys had attempted to add hints of humor to make this dry information easier to watch and learn from. The military always squashed these efforts relying on the philosophy that since this information would save the men's lives, they would pay close attention even if it was dull. At one production meeting after Walt had reviewed the work on Air Identification, he made an observation. Walt said, "I'm just convinced it will put people to sleep, maybe you could lighten this thing up a little bit by putting Donald Duck into the story". From Carl's description you would have thought the Army/Navy officers were having heart attacks and strokes. Walt deferred to them with the thinking that after all, these military men were the experts on training there own troops. Well the movie was finished and delivered and was a very boring snoozefest. As the war went on the Studio and the military got better at these kind of movies. By 1943 as the war was beginning to turn towards the favor of the allies, the BigWigs in Washington invited the filmmakers that had been working on the war effort to a big dinner banquet to thank them for their help. As the night went on, awards were given out and they had gotten to the time of the night where they showed a reel of the worst movies...as a joke. Well, Carl watched the clip from the Aircraft Identification film they had made and he agreed, it was a bomb. Then one of the two high ranking navy officers that were sitting next to him leans over to him and says, "You guys really should have added a little humor to that. Maybe have Donald Duck or one of the Disney Characters liven it up a bit." Go figure. But it does give some credence to Walt's famous quote. By adding a little humor, or a little action via Donald or Mickey the audience would be sure to watch and most of all, pay attention.

Another item I picked out of this interview was about a term I have heard and I'm sure you have heard over and over but not as much in today's world. Did you ever hear Mickey Mouse used as an adjective? A phrase like, "What kind of Mickey Mouse business is this?" or maybe something that was complicated was this, "Mickey Mouse kind of thing." Carl tells another amusing story that perhaps shows the birthplace of this phrase. In the early 1940's as the studio was working with the military, they would often have crazed officers needing to make films to train a certain skill as quickly as possible. There were times the Writers and Story people would begin working before there was even a contract. Getting that contract was tough and getting paid usually tougher. And even when they did there were issues. Carl goes on to explain how that Disney did their books a little differently and would add expenses on that had nothing to do with that particular project, but costs to keep the company working. You would see a general cost for the administrators in Anaheim and the distributors in NY and the Sales people in South America and so on. It did make sense... Well it didn't take too long before the government auditors were coming in and digging through this odd type of billing system. After a long day Carl was again explaining to the lead auditor, a fellow named Ballinger, how their system worked. After listening and trying to understand, the auditor turns to Carl and says, "That system you've got over here, that's the darndest system of Mickey Mouse bookkeeping I ever heard of in my life. That's really Mickey Mouse bookkeeping." After the meeting that story burned through the studios to big laughs. Everyone was telling that story and adding their own Mickey Mouse ideas. Carl had a pretty good feeling that it just spread to the rest of the world from there.

One last thought I took away from this interview was Walt's true love for Education. As one that had limited formal education, he realized the value of it and felt none should be left out. The problem was there was no money in educational films. In order to make a good film there were certain minimal costs before even adding effects or advertising. Educational films would never make back that initial minimal cost so they were not made as much as they should have been. Walt, due to low budgets could not make them they way he thought they should be made. Some times there are ways around the money though. Walt would try sneaking an educational movie in as a short once in a while. Carl remembers, "A good example of what I'm talking about is 'Donald in Mathmagic Land', which he made. He professed that he was making it for theatres, and he did make it, and it was running in theatres, and it bombed out in theatres. It didn't do very well in the theatres, but it became a classic film in the field of education."

Carl Nater might not be a big name in the history of the studios, but he does have stories to tell. I have not even scratched the surface here. You can read more stories from Carl in an upcoming volume of Didier Ghez's Walt's People.

Thanks to Didier for use of the interview as a source and to Thelostdisney on Youtube for the Donald Link.

Update: Some of you might know that I am working as a Technology Teacher in a K-4 school now. How is this for a coincidence, I was asked to help out with getting a VCR to work. There is a Sub teacher in today and she needs to show...this is great...she needed to show Donald in Mathmagic Land. And I just posted this last night. Holy Crap that's just a little bit of a spooky coincidence.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I went to the D23 expo this Weekend and Never Left my House

Over the past couple weeks excitement has been rising of the D23 expo that is being help in Anaheim this year. I was impressed with the long list of presentations and promised vendors. The only bummer is that I was not going. A trip to California was not in the budget. As I came to grips with this I heard a great one-liner from Lou Mongello on his show, the WDWRadio Podcast. He was going to the D23 expo and he was going to try to broadcast live from the expo. I figured that this would be a couple of minutes here or a couple of minutes there, but from the first test on Wednesday, Lou has been broadcasting live from the Expo floor non-stop from opening to closing each day. I have watched a couple hours of each day and I am watching Day 4 right now and cannot believe how addicting and fun this has been. Yesterday was unbelievable when the Tweets were coming out of the Parks Update Conference and the announcement of Star Tours 2.0 and The Fantasyland makeover. We've been seeing that blueprint that "leaked out" a couple of months ago. Today was the Pixar announcements of Cars 2 and Rapunzel and we are waiting to hear about any Muppets announcements. Right now we are taking a walk to the Lego exhibit. Lou has had a lot of help with Becci M. from MouseFanTravel. Justin Muchoney has been going to presentations and reporting back. This whole WDWRadioLive.com event could not have been better if it was planned. And right now we asked our legs, Marc, to take us to see Push the Talking Trash Can on display and he did. At one point there were 1,800 people all watching at once. This was very addictive and almost like being there. I can only hope, and I will suggest that this become an ongoing broadcast idea for various events. At one point Marc passed Ricky Brigante from the great Inside the Magic Podcast and Attractions magazine. I can also see Ricky doing this next year or at one point soon. Boy did he and his friends look tired at the end of this event. Could we get away doing something like this in the park? A live walk-around with back and forth comments? Must look into and report back.
The online chatters watching Lou's live feed gave themselves, me included, the name Box People. We the Box People are planning more events. There was even a Face Book Group out there for the Box People. GO BOXERS! This was and will be great for the rest of the night. The Imagineers and Pixar in the Parks Presentation is still in the works. I am still watching as I am writing this as I scan and crop the pictures above of Becci and Lou. The first picture is Lou, the second Beci and the third, Big Momma...don't ask. A great Thanks goes out to the Twitter Folks I had followed at the D23 Expo; Inside the Magic(Ricky), Touring Plans.com(Not sure who was there), Otisney(Scott Otis a reoccurring visitor and Of course Lou Mongello. Thank you for a truly great experience.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Hidden Mickey Goes Away

I have mentioned in the past the fun of looking for Hidden Mickey's is an extra boost to a visit to Walt Disney World. Just in case you don't know, a hidden mickey is a mickey head shape hidden in some part of the parks or resort. Here is something for you to try. It is, I believe, the biggest hidden mickey and it can be seen from Google Earth or some similar satellite picture site. Find the Magic Kingdom and zoom down only a little south of the parking lot. You can't miss it, right inside the racetrack. I think it is a cool connection you can get knowing that the Imagineers have added these items for you to find. We just discovered that even though hidden mickey's are always added, they can also be removed. One of our first hidden mickeys we had found before we even knew what hidden mickey's were is while you are descending the Swiss Family Tree House stairs, you can look over the edge and look down at the families dining table and see the most perfect hidden mickey. If you notice there is a pineapple between the ears. We actually called this a Hidden Minnie. Either way, it's gone. We were there in Mid Aug. and as we were walking down we could not believe our eyes...all gone. No Hidden Minnie or even mickey, just another table setting. So now we need to find where they hid that Hidden Mickey. We can only hope they moved it to somewhere else in the tree-house. So in your next trip to Walt Disney World, keep your eyes open for those hidden mickeys that are there or were there. Thanks to Steve and the Hidden Mickey's Guide for the before picture. I could not find ours.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Walt's People, Volume 8 has been Released

A friend of mine, Didier Ghez of the Disney History Blog, just released the 8th volume in his series of books called Walt's People. Didier collects the best interviews of the men and women that worked with Walt Disney in the studios with animation and in the parks with imagineering. I have transcribed and read many of these interviews and it's as if you are there with them as they tell their wonderful and not-so wonderful stories of working with Walt. Either way their stories and tales are an incredible window into the world of the Disney Studios from early into the years after Walt's death. Check out this series of books, you will not be disappointed. You can purchase volume 8 at the Xlibris web site.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

YouTube Disney Gold:HISTA Pre-Show from the Past

Honey I Shrunk the Audience is an attraction located in the Imagination Pavilion at Epcot. One of my fondest memories of this attraction has always been it's pre-show video by Kodak. Up until around 2003 that is. That is when they changed it. The Epcot Imagineers are 0-2 in my mind with their changes to this pre-show and the changes to Figment. I was lucky enough to find a audio version of the soundtrack, "True Colors" from the pre-show a couple of years ago. We played it a lot. It is not Cyndi Lauper but some studio artists doing a great job. I just came across the video on Youtube just the other day. It was great to see the syncing up of the song to the video. I was also reminded of the most inspiring part of the the video, the 'text messages' that are shown through-out the pre-show:
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR IMAGINATION
Use it
Ask questions
Take risks
Take a picture
Take a vacation
Take a vacation without leaving your house
Be curious
Expect...the unexpected
Invent your own language
Think
Backwards Think
Doodle
Build a model…without the instructions
Look at the world…from a different angle
EXERCISES FOR YOUR IMAGINATION
Stretch your mind
Play “What if?”
Pick up a camera…and see what develops
Stay up all night
Write with your opposite hand
Take a blank piece of paper…then do something with it
Make believe
Remember: Things aren’t always what they seem
HOW TO JUMP-START YOUR IMAGINATION
Think about something else
Talk to yourself
Talk to the animals
Look at the BIG picture
Look at Nature for inspiration
Play
Be playful
Look at the world through the eyes of a child
HOW TO COME UP WITH AN IDEA
Brainstorm
Don’t procrastinate
Turn your thinking inside out
Notice the little things
Get in touch with your inner child
Loosen up
Stay focused
Daydream
Paint something
Use all the colors of your imagination
Imagination comes in many colors
The first rule of imagination: There are no rules
If you can imagine it, you can do it.
Believe in yourself
Never say never
Imagine the possibilities…are endless
True colors are beautiful like a ra
inbow
I would always try to take some part of that message away with me each time we would visit this attraction. Note the obvious Kodak plugs above in purple.
Take some time and watch the video and really see if you won't really like this flashback.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Madame Leota's Beautiful Eyes

The Haunted Mansion in Walt Disney World is one of my favorite attractions. I've always loved haunted houses growing up and the Disney Imagineers version of one is the best bar none. There are many cool things to look for in the Haunted Mansion and I always like finding something new. One of the best items is before you even get in the front door. As you walk up the line you see various tombstones from most of the family with the occasional Imagineer listed. The last tombstone you see is that of the poor departed Madame Leota. Her's is the most detailed and as you just missed getting in the attraction you have a couple minutes to really look at the tombstone. Wait...did it just...look there it is again...IT IS ALIVE! Or looks to be. As I watched this video I also saw something I really did not catch at the time of filming, her head moves alsoThe picture on the right is a new hooby of mine. Paper models. In the video, wait for it. Sorry for the quality. Another quick note, as you watch the video you'll hear the wolf howl in the background. To let you know how far sound travels down there, we were sitting at the Grand Floridian near the Marina and could still hear that wolf. video

Saturday, June 13, 2009

John Carter of Mars is Official and On It's Way

Last March I had posted an article about a book that was rumoured to be coming to Pixar, John Carter of Mars. Here's the link to the post : http://themazdisneyblog.blogspot.com/2008/03/pixars-turn-at-john-carter-from-mars.html
The rumour is more than true in that Sci-Fi Wire just announced that Taylor Kitsch, who played Gambit in the Wolverine movie will be playing John Carter. Here is a pic from IMDB.com

Andrew Stanton is still on as director and this thing looks ready to go. The writing is done and the latest rumour is that they'll be filming in Utah. I can't wait for this to happen and will be keeping up to date with new events. Hit some of the links from the first post. The websites are up-dating with new info also.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Tip of the Hat to WDW and their Charity Work

WDW definitely gets my Tip of the Hat award for this month. I came across this article and was so impressed I felt it should be shared. The title of the article was "Central Florida Charities 'Shine On' thanks to $700,000 in Disney Grants." That title caught my eye, $700K in grants is incredibly generous. The part that really makes this announcement special is the fact that these grants have been given out in just the last two weeks. Starting on May 11th, the WDW company began giving these generous grants to deserving charities and schools in the central Florida area. Here is a video that shows one of the 'Shine On' prize patrols. Disney always does things in such a grand manner. Here is a link to the web site: http://shineontoday.com/ Stop by and check out how Disney contributes to it's central Florida community.

video

Here is a listing of the organizations that will be using this out-pouring of cash from WDW to better their services:

Adult Literacy League, Inc. ($17,000) · Best Buddies Florida ($12,000) · Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Florida ($50,000) · Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, Inc. ($40,000) · Boys & Girls Clubs of Lake & Sumter, Inc. ($10,000) · Bridges of Light Foundation, Inc. ($48,000) · Camp Fire USA Sunshine Council ($18,600) · Center for Independent Living in Central Florida, Inc. ($17,400) · Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida ($60,000) · Community Trust Foundation ($15,000) · Early Learning Coalition of Osceola County ($15,000) · Explorations V Children’s Museum ($15,000) · Florida Children’s Repertory Theatre ($10,000) · Florida Citrus Sports Foundation ($25,000) · Foster Grandparent Program of Central Florida ($30,000) · Foundation for Orange County Public Schools, Inc. ($10,000) · Golden Rule Foundation, Inc. ($14,000) · Habitat for Humanity in Seminole County, Inc. ($10,000) · Harbor House of Central Florida, Inc. ($39,000) · Hispanic Resource Link, Inc. ($15,000) · Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida, Inc. ($20,000) · Hope CommUnity Center ($35,000) · Jewish Community Center of Greater Orlando, Inc. ($20,000) · Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando, Inc. ($15,000) · Justice and Peace Office, Inc. – Apopka Family Learning Center ($25,000) · New Hope for Kids ($25,700) · Orlando Day Nursery Association, Inc. ($10,000) · Orlando Museum of Art ($9,500) · Orlando Repertory Theatre ($10,800) · Orlando Science Center, Inc. ($20,000) · Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Inc. ($10,000) · Osceola County Council on Aging ($15,000) · Restore Orlando, Inc. ($10,000) · Winter Park Day Nursery ($3,000)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

MDP's Disney Themed Spring Concert

This past week my daughter's school, Mother of Divine Providence, held their Spring Concert. This was a great event. The best part about it, other than my girl was it's theme...Disney. This is a annual event where the kids sing various songs that follow a theme. One year it was 60's and 70's sit-coms. Another year it was cartoon theme videosongs. The eighth grade then does something to enhance the show such as sing solos or act out songs. Here they are in the 100 Acre Woods. This was a really fun night and
I think the kids really out did themselves this year.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Epcot Announces India

Walt Disney World Welcomes India...

There have been many discussions about the countries that did not make it into the World Showcase of Epcot. I have heard many podcasts and read many great articles about what countries the Imagineers had planned to use to upgrade World Showcase. Argentina, Australia, South Africa and many more. What would it be like if WDW management had decided they liked India? India is a big part of our world. We don’t know a lot about their country and there seems to be a big draw for Indian food since there tends to be a couple Indian restaurants in every town. Let’s find out with this announcement from Meg Crofton:

"Walt Disney World would like to welcome our newest country to the Crown of Jewels that is our World Showcase area of Epcot. With Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, America, Morocco, France, United Kingdom, and Canada, we are happy and proud to introduce our newest World Showcase Country: India. India calls to mind the wonderful people and culture of its land, the exotic jungles and mountains of its landscape and its mysterious and beautiful animals.
As you walk through this newest of Epcot's pavilions you will experience the wonder and beauty of India all around you. As you explore you will find a new state of the art 3Dx3D attraction, two incredible new Indian themed restaurants and shopping opportunities from all parts of India.
The WDW Imagineers have out-done themselves with the first ever use of 3Dx3D. Adventures of India will have you travel to middle India on a photographic Tiger Hunt. Try to get the best picture as you explore through the thick grasslands experiencing the wildlife of India thru audio, video and 3Dx3D technology. Mid-way thru your journey a couple of old friends from Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book make sure your see the very best of India and its wildlife.
After building up an appetite on the Adventures of India ride, come and join us in the Bukhara Mahal our new 5 star Table Service restaurant offering the finest cuisine of all regions of India. Its wonderful indoor/outdoor dining areas are complimented by beautiful tile work and fountains with exceptional service. If you’re in the mind for a lighter snack, then stop and eat at Louie’s Grill, our newest counter service restaurant serving a smaller menu full of quality.
And before leaving India, you must stop at one of the two gift stores where you are promised to find many treasures from India. We are very proud of the job we have done on this new Pavilion, we know you will enjoy it to. Thank you."
Stay tuned to this media outlet for more details about our new Indian pavilion and it’s offerings.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Disney Stoveworks

I have a matter of a little mystery on my hands and I was hoping for some help. I recently read an interview of Richard Todd talking about Walt Disney curtousey of Didier Ghez of the Walt's People books fame. Richard was Robin Hood in the Disney live action movie, The Story of Robin Hood. Based on the interview he had a close relationship with Walt Disney. He tells many funny and moving stories. One of the most touching was how Walt would send his kids gifts each Christmas and how Richard had to explain to the kids why they stopped getting them after Walt's passing. Another comment of note in the interview is the way Todd talks about the Disney studio process of using story boards. Also, how unlike studios like MGM, Paramount and 20th Century Fox, the Disney studios were run by one man...Walt.

There are other stories in the interview, but the one that really caught my attention had to do with Walt's more private side. Richard talks about knowing Walt very well and going to his house in the Holmby Hills often and about the 'big barn shed' that Walt had in the backyard for working on his trains. He mentions that Walt had another hobby, creating miniatures "...and he started a thing he called the Disney Stoveworks." I have seen the exhibit at the Disney Hollywood Studios, One Man's Dream, with the house scene that Walt had built in scale form. I also remember hearing mention of a traveling exhibit of Walt miniatures so this comment made sense. But then Richard went on, "...now one of the things that he'd always rememberd from his boyhood was pot-bellied stove. So he start making pot-bellied stoves himself on his lathe, and they were all hand painted and they were like little Dresden pieces. I've still got my pot-bellied stove. They were about four to five inches high and everything worked; the little riddle worked and the laid worked and they were beautifully painted, such pretty little things, as I say, like little pieces of Dresden china from the Walt Disney Stoveworks."

I thought that was such a cool little item that I had not heard about Walt. The idea of him taking the time to create something so small but fully functional and then giving it to close friends was a really nice way to envision Walt. Where would he have gotten the time to do this and why have I not heard of or seen one of these stoves? I needed to find out more information about this and did the regular searches as follows:
  • I went out and googled the Disney Stoveworks and got nothing except the usual commercial adds for New Disney company items to buy.
  • The next thought was let me try going with a search on the Workshop. There was a lot of information about the shed and the trains and the move to the new location by the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society, but again nothing about the Disney Stoveworks or the pot-bellied stoves.
  • I reached out to various Disney boards and Blogs with no luck.
My next thought is to start hitting the Disney Biographies. There are so many of such varying quality. Please comment here or send me and email at maz24681@yahoo.com if you might have an idea as to where I should look next for more information on the 'Disney Stoveworks'.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

SpectroMagic from Around the Magic Kingdom

Our favorite parade in Walt Disney World is Spectromagic. We've seen it from many places in the park and are totaly enthralled by it.
Here is the official Disney description:
"SpectroMagic" Parade is a dazzling nighttime procession filled with brilliantly lit Disney Characters and floats at Magic Kingdom theme park. Your heart will glow along with the brilliant lights and joyous music of this gleaming parade that celebrates scenes from Disney films. Disney Characters are magically transformed into living ornaments of light in this magical, glittering spectacle.
Half a million lights and miles of fiber optics cables light up the night during the "SpectroMagic" Parade to create miles of smiles for Guests of all ages.
I can’t agree more. My heart glows every time I even hear the music, let alone attend in person. We have seen this parade many times from many different places. I’d like to go over some of those places in the hopes that you’ll try somewhere new next time you have a chance for viewing Spectromagic. I also have a couple tips and facts about the parade.
I don’t want to be-labor the history and creation of the parade or even the photos. When your done here you can go over to LaughingPlace.com. They have a great article on Spectromagic and a bunch of pictures of the entire parade.

Just as an FYI, the parade starts on the circle on Main Street near the Fire Station and ends at the junction of AdventureLand and FrontierLand right underneath Splash Mountain.
The first four or five times we have seen this parade we have watched it from various place
s on Main Street. We did not know any better yet. Usually the place was dictated by the crowds and when we got there to wait for the parade to start. Main Street seems to have more activities run by the cast members as you wait for the parade. My son's first pin trading was done waiting for the parade. We’ve watched from in front of City Hall, in front of the Candy Store, half-way down Main, in Front of the Plaza Ice Cream place and on the Tomorrowland side of the hub. Without a doubt the best experience was sitting half-way down Main Street. We found our spots and camped out maybe 30 minutes until the parade started. The kids and wife played games on the street as I guarded our seats. The Parade was great as always. You get close to the Parade on Main Street but there is some pushing. A new spot we discovered had a back-drop that we did not fully appreciate until
videowe had gotten home and watched the videos. Cinderella's Castle in the background changing colors added just a little more magic. You can see the bridge to the right. This was a small pathway that takes you from the Crystal Palace right to Liberty Square. You can see how close we were and there was not much of a crowd. The next place that we found to be a very good place to sit is in Frontierland, right across the pathway from Pecos Bills. There is not a lot of room for depth which keeps it pretty free of crowds.

video

This is about 100 yards from where the parade goes off stage and was a great viewing spot. It also let us get onto Splash Mountain pretty quick and we were able to see parts of the Wishes fireworks show as we went in and out of the mountain and then down the big hill, very cool.
Tips:
  • If you want to sit on Main Street get there 45-60 minutes before the parade. I would also bring a blanket or towel to put down on your spot on the curb. People setting up for Main Street can get brutal. We usually plan to do our shopping in the Main Street stores as we wait. We take turns reminding people that we were there first and getting our food for the parade and fireworks.
  • Check the times when you check in to your hotel, they can change.
  • If you have a choice always see the second parade if offered that night. Ride attractions while the first parade is going on.
  • If you want your kids (or yourself) to feel part of the parade, bring glow sticks and necklaces with you for the parade.
One last item. Last year I went on the Keys to the Kingdom Tour. It was a great tour and I was amazed at what we were shown and where we were taken. One stop was the SpectroMagic storage warehouses where the parade floats are stored and repaired during the day. Very cool seeing where a lot of the 'cockpits' were for most of the floats. One final bit of info. The parade was originally led by handlers around the parade route who manually kept track of where the parade is and when to start music and such. They had switched to a computer run system that used sensors buried in the parade route. You can see the brass colored circles about 2-3 inches across still today. I say still today, because they are back to the human handlers directing the parade. The sensors, it seems, could not keep up.

If you have not seen SpectroMagic, it is a must. If you have but have not left Main Street, try to watch it from somewhere else next time, you will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Walt Disney Companies' D23 is Released

As most of us that are in the Disney online Community have heard, Disney has started a new Disney sponsored Fan site called D23. To say site only would under-sell what Disney is offering in this new endvour. There is a new D23 magazine that is for the fan with stories about all apspects of the Disney company minus the advertisements. The other major item is that there is to be a Mousfest type event in Anaheim this September, put on by the Disney people. The cost of membership is $74 and change. Click on Mickey above to get the full details from Disney. I wanted to throw this post out there to point out the outstanding interview that Eric and the gang at Mouseguest had this week with Non-other than Disney Legend and Founder/Chief Archivist of the Walt Disney Archives Dave Smith, Manager of the Walt Disney Archives, Becky Cline and head of D23 and overseer of the Archives and Photo Library, Steven Clark. The trio discuss the Archives, the D23 club and membership, "Disney twenty-three" magazine, the D23 Expo, and they also address some concerns the Disney online community has voiced about D23. This is the only Podcast so far this month that has such an exculsive and detailed interview. Please check it out by clicking the MouseGuest logo. My plan is to get a copy of the magazine and hold off on the membership for now. Have fun checking out D23!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure, Norway:Completed

On our trip down to WDW this past January we had the chance to try out the new Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure. This was fantastic. A truly interactive, I can’t wait to see what happens next, kind of activity. It is a great way to give kids, big and small, a new experience in the World Showcase at EPCOT. I am going to go through the experience in detail, so there might be spoilers(Pssst, pssst, there will be spoilers...and pictures...and video). But, since this is only for Norway and since there is suppose to be 6-7 more adventures, you could read this one and plan on doing all the other Adventures first. I’ll also not tell the exact story so that will be kinda new when you do this. This was really fun.
I had heard about this from the various podcasts I listen to, but had r
eally forgotten about it until we saw the Kim Possible sign recruiting to ‘Save the World’ directing us into Inoventions West. Right inside the door to the left is a Kim Possible (KP) Wall with various stations with a monitor at each. They are touch sensitive and you read through a number of screens asking about your party and telling you the beginnings of a story about Kim and Ron not being available and could you help out. Next to the machine is a slot that spit out a Fastpass looking card that had a country name (Norway) and a time that our Adventure would begin. I think we started at 12:45. We had some time so we hit Club Cool. Got the video 8 year old with Beverly, but that’s another story, and strolled through Mexico. The KP stand was easy to spot as were the Cast Members. Nice Ron stoppable looking Purple shirts. We handed over our pass and were given a cell phone looking device. We were told how to use them and then we were directed to get about 100 feet away from the cart. Even though there were specific times to start the adventure, you did not have to be there at the time that was on your ticket, so there was a little bit of sound over-lap between our team and others. We listened to Wade describe a World Class disaster in the making and we need follow clues through Norway to solve the mission. I have never been in the Stave Church in all my times down to Epcot and that’s the first place the game took us. Wade directs you to a place and then asks a question that can be answered by reading or looking around where you are sent. Here is one example. In the Stave Church there is a replica of a famous Norwegian boat, can’t remember the name. Wade’s question, that will help us catch the villain, was how long was the boat. The question has four possible answers and you pick the right one to continue the adventure. SPOILERS: The interactivity was great. At one point Wade had us look at Japan and smile. A picture of us from a hidden camera was then sent to our phone/device. Again, the interactivty with the Norway pavailion was great. We caused smoke to rise out of one of the chimmneys near the Maelstrom. We lit lanterns for signals and had flags raised
over a Dragon as an answer to a vital question and even talked to a famous norwegian marathon runner's statue. There was a great finale which you'll need to see and then you dumped videothe device into a trunk near the entrance to the Maelstrom. This was great. I saw parts of Norway I have never seen before. The Stave Church and Perrin's Roost and just the general details of Norway. It took about 40 minutes and I can see us doing this at least once or twice on our next trip. I can't wait to do China or Japan next. Let me know if you've done any other countries.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

New Hidden Mickeys...at least new to us.

The Walt Disney Park Imagineers are men and women who have created rides and attractions both big and small. However, one of their best creations is something that started small but has become a fun obsession for the family and I. Hidden Mickeys. For those that don't know, "...a hidden Mickey is a partial or complete impression of Mickey Mouse placed by the Imagineers and artists to blend into the designs of Disney attractions, hotels, restaurants, and other areas. " That quote came from the number one expert on Hidden Mickeys(HM), Steve Barrett and his Hidden Mickey Guide and website. You can even buy his book in the parks. Steve has a couple of Disney travel books, but the HM's are the most fun.

We are always looking for more. This past trip in Jan. we spotted three new HM's. At least they were new to us, when we got home and checked Steve's site, they were all already reported. It was still fun spotting them though. The first two were at Epcot. First in the Living Seas with Nemo. As we walked down to the aquarium section of the pavilion, we saw this very obvious HM on the seabed. Next on Spaceship Earth. We always screw our heads around trying to find a new one in here. Well, we thought we had done it, found a new one. In the scene with the Jewish Library, as you see the one guy sleeping, behind him on the shelf, there are three scrolls that are next to each other. Here is a LINK to Steve's site and a picture of this one. My pictures in Spaceship Earth never look good. The last one for this trip was found while we were on line for the Jungle Cruise. We were in the Fastpass line on the left side of the dock as you face the water. We were moving in line to the right and saw this jar with what looked like walnuts in it or ping pong balls. But there it was, the classic hidden mickey shape. When I was down in September I had a really novel HM pointed out to me. Novel in that it was always there in front of us. Too bad my picture was not that great. But it You can get the general idea of what it looks like. These plates are on the table in the Dancing room. So next time you head out to a Disney park, Hotel or Restaurant, keep your eyes open for those hidden extras the imagineers have left for you to find.