Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"Walt Disney Elementary's"; They Are All Around

I ran across something today that kind of surprised me, although it probably shouldn’t have. I was tooling around the internet and came across an elementary school named for Walt Disney. I guess it should not have surprised me that a School District would name one of their schools after Walt, there have been worse names used in the past. A couple that come to mind;

So, in my searches, I came up with 14 different schools named after the famed Walt Disney. Interesting that some of the schools are official Walt Disney while some are just Disney. Below is the list I had come up with.

Walt Disney Elementary of Levittown, Pa.

Disney Elementary of Clinton Twsp., Mi.

Walt Disney Elementary of Rochester, NY

Walt Disney Elementary of Mishawaka, In.

Walt Disney Elementary of Marceline, Mi.

Disney Elementary of Springfield, Mo.

Walt Disney Elementary of San Ramon, Ca.

Walt Disney School of Anaheim, Ca.

Disney Elementary of Tulsa, Ok.

The list is in no order, except for the first one in Levittown, Pa. That town is only 40 minutes away from me, and I never knew the school was there. This, as far as I can tell, was the first school to be named for Walt and the only one to actually have him there at the dedication. Below is an article I have found and coincidently it was posted on the Bucks Local News website just the other day. In case the link goes bad I have the contents of the article below:
By Jack Lebo, Correspondent
We just happen to reside just down the street from an elementary school named for one of my heroes, Walt Disney. Just recently, I discovered that Mr. Disney, himself came to Levittown, PA, to dedicate the opening of the school. Unfortunately, I was serving overseas with the U.S. Air Force at the time, thus, I was unable to witness this wonderful occasion.It was Saturday, September 24, 1955, and Walt Disney had come to town to dedicate the then brand-new elementary school that had been named in his honor. The school, in the lakeside section of Levittown, PA, had been built to replace the aging two-room Tullytown schoolhouse that had served the community for generations.In the spring of 1954, with the new school still in the planning stages, the Tullytown school board had asked students to select the person for whom they would name it. Generally, elementary schools are named after famous American historical figures, usually deceased. But these children had someone different in mind. To everyone’s surprise and delight, they chose Walt Disney.For a child, this was a simple choice. The name Walt Disney was known to even the youngest of them. The bulk of their entertainment was provided by Disney. The market was flooded with Disney books, Disney magazines and Disney toys. Movie theatres were filled with Disney productions. “The Mickey Mouse Club” and the Disney TV shows led the TV ratings, and the Disneyland theme Park had just opened. It was no contest. Disney was contacted, and was pleasantly surprised that a school would bear his name. AS famous as he had been for so many years, no other school had ever given him this honor. Not only did he promise to come to the dedication, but he would send artists to decorate the school’s interior. Since Gov. George Leader had proclaimed Sept. 24 “Walt Disney Day” throughout the Commonwealth, national state, and local dignitaries waited there to greet Disney. But it was the children who got most of the attention. They shunted the officials aside and surged forward almost onto the railroad tracks. They shouted and waved, and clutched at Disney as he climbed down from the train.The door to each room would be emblazoned with the name of a Disney character rather than a number. There would be the “Mickey” room, the “Donald” room, the “Pinocchio” room and the “Snow White” room. The principal’s office door would read “Captain Hook”; “the cafeteria, “The Castle of Dreams;” the girls’ lavatory, “Mermaid Lagoon;” and the boys’ lavatory, “Pirates Cove.” The nurse’s office was “Pegleg Point” and the telephone booth was “Tinker Bell.” The door to the boiler room, beyond which no student should ever pass, would read, “Never-never Land.” On Saturday, Sept. 24, shortly after 3 p.m., a Pennsylvania Railroad train approached the Levittown station. Leaning out of the window of the diesel locomotive, wearing a railroad engineer’s cap, and smiling and waving to the crowd that overflowed the platform, was Walt Disney. Beside him, was Colin Cho, a sixth grader and the school’s official greeter. After being driven in a motorcade to the old Tullytown schoolhouse, and then given a short tour of Levittown, Disney was brought to the new school. There, he laid the cornerstone to the accompaniment of songs from his many films played by the children’s school band. Once inside the building, Disney was joined by six children who alternately held his hand and led him on a grand tour of the school. He walked the halls with them and visited every classroom. Special Saturday classes were in session for the occasion, and the master story teller delighted students by telling stories and imitating some of his characters.In the Bambi room, he told them parts of the Bambi story. In the Donald Duck room, he imitated Donald. In the Mickey Mouse room, he was the voice of Mickey. In the Pluto room, he stood at a piano and plunked out, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” He posed for photos and joked with parents and teachers. Those who were there that day still remember that Disney seemed to enjoy himself as much as the children. Later, the children entertained him in their auditorium with their own special Disneyland show.Disney reportedly liked what he saw of Levittown. He commented on the way the community was laid out, “with plenty of room for gardening.” When asked if he would ever come back, he indicated that he had no immediate plans to return, but someday he probably would. Unfortunately, he never did. Seven years later he was gone, succumbing to cancer at age 66.In contrast to children in 1955, who saw Disney each week on his television show, few of today’s youngsters even recognize him. Echoing comments of other recent principals, current principal Fay Manicke commented, “It’s sad that many of the children who today attend the school look up at the large framed photograph of Disney in the school lobby and ask, “Who’s that?”

I took a quick look at each of the above schools history, if they had any. Each and every one that told about how their school was named were extremley proud of the fact that it was the students that came up with Walt's name.

So, I am going to classify this post as, "I Learned Something While Surfing the Net the Other Day."

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Disney Movie Rewards Pay-Off

I have been a member of the Disney Movie Rewards(DMR)club for the last couple of years. For those that don't know, this is a way to get free Disney stuff by buying Disney Brand DVD's. Every DVD that qualifies for the program has a card inside that has a code. When you enter the code online at DMR it adds points to your account. Each DVD is worth from 50 to 150 points. You then use the points to browse through the DMR prizes and use your points to cash in. I had used some point last year for a nice Walt Disney Studios hat but have been saving points for something really good. Well, based on a couple rumours that the club is on it's way out, I did some recent shopping. I was able to beef up my DVD collection by two and they just go here. The first 'Reward' was Frank and Ollie; Their Friendship changed the Face of Animation. This is a great movie about the two of the fomous nine old men who worked a long time with Walt and on many of the successful Disney Projects.
The second purchase was Walt Disney Treasure's: Your Host Walt Disney. TV memories 1956-1965. This is another great DVD pick-up and I can't wait to start watching. I hope you'll stop back because I am sure I will have reviews for both of these movies very soon.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tree of Life Walk-Around

The Tree of Life, the centerpiece to Disney's Animal Kingdom, is a really wonderous man-made creation. Here are some great facts. The Tree of Life is 145 feet tall, and the trunk is 50 feet wide. There are over 320 animals carved onto the Tree of Life, with over 103,000 leaves on approx 8,000 branches. The tree is made of concrete, over a modified oil rig. Ten artists and three Imagineers worked full-time for 18 months to create the 325 animal carvings on The Tree of Life. Sculptors had between six and 10 hours to create the finished image before the plaster hardened. The Tree of Life is topped with more than 103,000 transparent, five-shades-of-green leaves that actually blow in the wind.

Other than the entrance to It's Tough to be a Bug, there are a couple of great pathways that take you very close to the tree's trunk. Check out some of my pictures and try to keep count of the animals as they go by.

I counted 65, by the way.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Great new Experience at Disney Hollywood Studios; The Animation Academy

On this last trip to WDW we had one of the most fun, educational experiences and received one of the best souvenirs that I have taken away from WDW. We went to the Animation Academy. The Animation Academy can be found in the Magic of Animation attraction in the Disney Hollywood Studios. Once you watch Mushu tell you about about character creation, you exit out to a room that has really evolved from what it was originally. There is art work from the new Tangled movie, computer stations to color, add sounds or see what character you are most like. On top of that , there many meet and greet areas for the most current and some older characters. In among this multitude of animation experiences is, as mentioned above, one of the best half hours we have ever had at WDW. The Animation Academy. This is a side area in the room mentioned above that is right near the exit into the Disney Animation store. Here you queue up for a 15-20 minute lesson on how to draw a Disney Character. When the doors open up you walk into what can best be described as an Animation Classroom. At the front of the room is an artist desk with and large video screen hanging on the wall above it. An overhead projector shows you what the artist is doing. The Artist is a WDW Cast Member who was great. I believe his name was Rick. As we find a seat and sit, Rick tells us about the partnership of Disney and animation and how we were going to draw Mickey Mouse in this session. We were really excited to start. We all were sitting on the most ingenious swivel mounted stools and our desk was a well lit Mickey shaped drawing area with a piece of drawing paper. At the top of the lit part of the desk were a couple of raised pins. The paper had holes at top that fit over the pins as you draw. As you reach for the pencil you notice that there is no eraser. Uh-oh. But Rick assures us it will not be necessary. And we began to draw. Step by step we followed his instructions punctuated by historic facts about drawing Mickey over the years mixed with some humour. Our drawings progressed line by line and we all came out with pretty good Mickey Mouse portraits. This was so fun. This has just squeezed into my must-do's at DHS right after the top three; Toy Story Mania, Tower and RockNRoller Coaster. FYI, you can go through the store and past the Oscars exhibit and skip the Mushu show if you want.
This was great!!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Our last visit on the Old Star Tours, New Discovery!

One of our must-do's on this last trip was to make sure we got on Star Tours at least once if not more. Well we did and on our last ride, we noticed something we had never seen before. As you are getting ready to be split up into the different sides near the end of the line is this guy. We were in line and it had stopped moving. With all of the Starport and Droid repair noise going on I could of sworn I heard birds chirping. I shared that with the kids and we were looking around trying to find the sound. We all seemed to zone in on them all at once. I say them, because what we found was a nest of Space Ravens or something similar.

These guys were right above the doorway as you enter the area were the cast memeber moves you to your Star Tours Loading gate. We always like finding something new. And since this might not be there after the big Re-furb planned for this attraction it makes it all the more special.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Finding something new on the Carousel of Progress

I'm back and wow did I have a Great summer. Not one but two trips to WDW. Three interviews that I have worked and still working on the third for 'Walt's People' and a I feel I have learned so much. We did two more WDW tours and took a lot of pictures. I look forward to bringing a lot of my experiences here to share on the Blog.

One of the new to me things was a really cool find in the Carousel of Progress. We always see this show without exception each trip always enjoying the Walt type of atmosphere it always has. Also, because we've seen it so often I always get a kick out of finding something new and on this last trip I really did. In the second scene of the show, in the 20's, you can see that the family is now living on a more City like street outside the kitchen window. The Kohn's Chinese Rest. is really noticeable and right next to it is a small grey sign. I could see it said Attorney at Law, but could not see the name. I was hoping it might be something good. I had never really looked close at this before. Well I was not disappointed. The sign said 'Herb Ryman Attorney at Law'. Wow, very cool! If your reading this blog you probably know who he is, but just in case. Herb was working on films in Hollywood before coming to the Disney Studio in the early 1940's. He worked on a lot of the classic films along with being the illustrator of Walt's Dream of Disneyland. He retired working with the W.E.D. organization. It's a fitting tribute to find Herb Ryman in this attraction. I love finding stuff like this and putting a meaning to it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ironman 2 has a Walt Disney Connection?

I just saw Ironman 2 the other night and thought it was pretty good. I’ll need to think about it a couple of days and maybe even need to see it again down the road to confirm that. The one thing that did stand out was a scene that was used in the movie that actually has a, what I think, Disney connection. I don’t think this is a spoiler, but at a couple points in Ironman2 you see an old video of Tony Stark’s father Howard. Howard is dressed in the standard grey suit of the 50’s with the white shirt, tie and handkerchief. With the slicked hair and thin build and thin mustache, Howard Stark could have been Walt’s brother. That however was not what had me thinking Walt Disney as I watched these scenes. Howard Stark was talking about something and referring to a large table top model of the City of Tomorrow. It was the Design for the Stark Expo, but it could not have looked more like what we see every time on the TTA and in a handful of Walt Disney TV appearances towards the end of his life. E.P.C.O.T. As I was thinking this thru it crossed my mind that now Disney owns Marvel, could this reference have been intentional. As I was researching this thought I came across one of my favorite Disney beat writers, Jim Hill. And, Jim had already thought of and answered that question, and I agree with Jim’s assessment. The story for Ironman2 was written and filmed much earlier than the company takeover. And as Jim points out, Howard Stark is a great match to the Industrialist and movie maker Howard Hughes.
If you see Ironman2 in the theatres or at home, tell me if when you see these scenes you say, “Haven’t I seen that before somewhere?”

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The 5 Minute Magic Podcast Review

I came across another really good podcast in the oddest of places, at another Disney Podcast's message boards. I saw a post by ScottFMM over on the BeOurGuestPodcast boards. He was asking us to take a listen to his and his partners, Emily and Melissa's, podcast about Walt Disney World. Their podcast is "5 Minute Magic" and as I am always looking for a new Disney themed podcast to listen to I olbiged Scott and gave a listen. I will now continue the review in the the style of their show.

Today I'll be rating The 5 Minute Magic show on a scale of 1-10. If you see a DING! then their rating number goes up by 1 and if you see a THPPPT!, then their score goes down by one. So set the timer for 5 minutes and we'll start them off with a rating of 5.

Here we go.

Okay, we'll start off with a DING! +1 right away and bring their rating up to 6. After listening to all 37 shows Scott, Melissa and Emily sound like three very nice and knowledgeable Disney fans who are pretty much accurate in their observations. DING! Up to 7 now with finding their Niche in the World of Disney podcasts. One of the things I look for is if the show has a niche that let's them stand out. Theirs is the up and down rating discussion of an attraction. Starting off at 5 and taking turns either raising of lowering the score while providing their reasons why. Then at the 5 minute mark stopping and where-ever the rating is, there you go. THPPPT!, -1, down to 6 because they did seem to pick a topic that will run out at some point down the road. Not that I'm complaining and there are so many different attractions and resorts, this might not happen, but... And, as quick as that, DING!, back up to 7. The last ten or so shows they have begun to expand their topics to other topics such as favorite smells or favorite narration. DING!, up to 8. They are reliable. Even as I am writing this, show number 38 just hit Itunes. THPPPT!, down to 7. They no longer have a buzzer at the end of 5 minutes. Not sure if I missed an explanation, but that was a great way to find out the time was up. Although, in the first couple shows I was wondering if they would start rushing as they became accustomed to how long 5 minutes was. DING!, back up to 8. Their shows, although not 5 minutes, are rarely over 10 minutes which makes them a great listen.


Well look at that, a rating of 8! That's the highest rating that I have ever given. Well, that is the first rating I have ever given. I don't like to give show ratings in that not all things, especially something as fluid as a podccast show, can be nailed down with a number. But with the format that the 5 Minute Magic show has, I could not resist.

This is a really good show with three people with different opinions sharing their likes and dislikes about The Walt Disney World parks and resorts. So, Scott, Emily and Melissa keep producing these great shows. Their compact size of show and their novel format makes the 5 Minute Magic well worth the download. I can't wait for the live shows from the attractions themselves that I'm sure can only be on the horizon.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Microsoft Tags to Tell the Whole Story at Walt Disney World?

I was over at the DisneyShawn blog the other day and had a chain of thoughts leading up to what I think is a good idea to better enjoy the Disney Parks. I was reading his latest update about the Outpost in the Magic Kingdom and saw a comment from Brian about how great it is that everything on the Disney property seems to have a story behind it. After reading Shawn’s blog for a while, I say that after every post. Which caused the first thought, DING “How would I ever know any of these stories if I was not such a Disney Geek and knew how to use a computer?” I guess I wouldn't, unless I talked to a cast member or bought one of the Imagineering books. But even the handbooks don’t really go into as much detail as Shawn. DING, thought number two in the thought-chain, “Why don’t they have signs at each attraction giving us the back story to the building, attraction, ride or whatever?” This was not the first time I had, had this thought. Early on after discovering Shawn’s blog I asked him about that and his response made a lot of sense. The Imagineers did not want people coming down on vacation to be forced or even to be given the option to read any more than they need to. It is an amusement park after all. DING, and then the third thought of the chain fell into place. I have been following the progress of a new type of barcode developed by Microsoft known as the Tag. These tags are colorful to begin with and can be customized to a picture or logo. In a nutshell, if your smart phone has a camera and internet access, you could download a free Tag Reader App from Microsoft. Their reader uses your camera to scan the Tag and connect you to a website. The technology for the tag can be found here. By using this technology, the Disney Imagineers could now provide a Tag at each noteworthy place in the parks. A small one liner in the park maps to explain the small signs that seem to be located at different parts of the park. (DING, thought # 4 just hit while I was writing this. Can too many of these signs clutter up the park? Maybe make them 1 inch by 1 inch? I’ll leave that issue for later.) I think they can be placed strategically at each location so as not to be an eyesore, but easy to find to scan. I'll use Pecos Bill as a sample because he has such a great picture. There would be a 2 inch square logo that you would read with your Tag Reader. This is a quick customizing job. You can get very creative in that you won't see the dots, but I'll save that for when Disney calls to ask for my help in designing the real ones. If you download the Tag Reader and scan this tag, it'll take you to Shawns post on Pecos Bill's, but that could just as easily be a Disney link.
So now those of us that want the full story can find out more right on their phones, right there. Heck, if I was Disney I would provide the phones at Guest Services, charge $20 and just call this a Self-Guided Imagineering tour. It’s not like we haven’t seen groups of people huddling around one phone listening and watching for information before…can you say Kim Possible Adventures?
I do think there is a plausibility factor here, but what do you think? Too much of a gimmick? People still not tech savy enough yet? Not that it matters. Isn’t Disney’s policy to not take ideas from outside the company? Meg? Meg Crofton? Are you reading this?
Thanks to Shawn Slater over at the DisneyShawn Blog for this, at this point, great idea.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Join the Search for Kevin Flynn!

I have been following a new web site and having a blast doing so for the last couple of weeks. is a website put out by the people marketing Tron Legacy the sequel to the Walt Disney Studio film Tron. I've always been a big Tron fan and can't wait for the next one. The first time I heard anything hinting about the search for Kevin Flynn was during this years Comic-Con. Here is a link to that event. You'll see it was quite the scavenger hunt. If you followed all of the directions and codes, you found a real Flynn's Arcade. In the arcade there was a secret door that took you into a secret room where there was Tron Legacy art and a full sized light cycle. There was some hint about this event that it was something more than just a promo. Flash to a week or so ago and we came across the FlynnLives website. The updates started in February and are getting more and more intense. Early on there were some games and ideas about what FlynnLives is about. On March 25 they posted a video interview with Alan Bradley. That is Alan1 aka Bruce Boxleitner from Tron. This really made me look at this sight with excitement and greater interest. The interview was incredible to watch in that it was an interview of the character Alan Bradley talking about new things coming to the Encom gaming company. The interview IGN and very realistic up until the end, where the guy asked a question about Flynn. The interview gets icy after that and Alan(Bruce) finishes up by making a reference to check the Encom website for an announcement to take place April 2. After a couple more posts which included a link for getting your Group 7 Clearance badge mailed to you and breaking into the Encom headquarters network and getting access to the executives email accounts after using a site supplied cracker/decoder program. One last post to FlynnLives members before the news conference on April 2nd from OperationTron. The plan is to infiltrate the Encom news conference and demand Encom open there investigationn into what happened to Kevin Flynn 20 or so years ago. The news conference begins and Alan Bradley(Bruce B.) is onstage making the announcement that Space Paranoids will be re-released on the internet. That's when the FlynnLives people put their plan into action. As they are speaking you hear a helicopter getting closer and as they camera pans up you see it's the Encom Black with red trim helicopter and someone parachutes from it. If you have seen the newest trailer for Tron Legacy you get the hint that Flynn's son is a BASE jumper. That's right, the guy was Sam Flynn who was disrupting the event to parachute in. The next post on the site had a video from Sam's point of view and it's Garret Hedlund playing Sam from Tron Legacy. This is such a great tie in into the movie it's amazing. The entire site is well done and has me waiting to see what will happen next. If I have to guess I am thinking that Encom will somehow increase their security but we'll see.
So, Join the Search for Kevin Flynn, or not, but if your a Tron fan looking for some more insight on Tron Legacy, this is the site for you.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Waking Sleeping Beauty comes to Philly

I've just returned from a screening of Waking Sleeping Beauty that was held in Philly tonight. I had really been looking forward to this and it did not disappoint. The movie was briefly introduced by Peter Schneider, the producer of the documentary and many other past Disney films. He then stayed around until the end for a Q&A. This was being held at the Prince Music Theatre in Philadelphia. Nice theatre, think older and film festivals.
This was a very good movie. Documentary really. And just as advertised, it was based on the period at the Disney Studio from 1984-1994. The main theme and hearing Peter say it with pride was for him and Don Hahn to create a documentary that had no talking heads. That would be the old people you usually see looking back at a time being discussed in a documentary. None of the video used was made after 1994. There were some new audio talking about that time of course, but the meat of this was all vintage. I'm not going to repeat what's been said, so if you have not yet, please check out the trailer from the movie. Waking Sleeping Beauty Go ahead, click the link, I'll wait. But come back.
The movie actually starts earlier than 1984 in that it talks about the executive moves made at the time. With the hiring of Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg Disney was on their way. What the trailer does not speak about and what I thought really tied this entire movie together was the involvement, business sense and what turned out to be dampening effect that Frank Wells provided. There were three very intense personalities at work at this time. I mentioned Eisner and Katzenberg and add Roy E. also. Each with their ideas of what was in the best interest of the company. Frank seeemed to be there to keep everyone in check. It was truly a big loss when he died. There is a lot of information about this upper branch of management and then there was the video and stories of the animators. Peter mentioned that they got their video from any number of sources. There are some great, funny clips. Up to and including Jeffrey Katzenberg getting mauled by a Lion on stage in Vegas provided by Don Hahn's mom. We go through the history of animation at the time starting with the Black Cauldron and Basil from Baker Street, I mean the Great Mouse Detective. The collaboration of talent for Who Framed Roger Rabbit really started the flow and it did not stop for the next ten years.
This story showed how a group of about 200 people went from working 12 hours a day worrying about being fired and animation dying at the Disney Studio. And then 10 years later a group of about 5000 people working now 16 hours a day trying to keep the fame they had found. Still the trip getting there was anything but dull.
As I mentioned above the movie was followed by a Q&A with Peter Schneider. This was very rewarding because he touched on a number of topics. How Disney might have taken advantage of Tim Burton earlier on better? What did Peter think about Pixar? Could the Princess and the Frog be considered Disney's next Renaissance in animation? Some of the ideas that were discovered using the Gong Show method. And so much more. I had one small issue, though. I would have liked to hear more about the animators than we did. There was a lot of Eisner/Katzenberg/Disney and rightly so, but I can ask , can't I? There were some great clips. I am a big Jerry Orbach fan and they had a clip of Angela Landsbury and him recording for Beauty and the Beast with Howard Ashman. The animators goofing off and discussing ideas were fun to watch also.
Peter did mention that for the cities that did not get a release of this movie, that there is a DVD in the works that would probably be a compilation of this movie along with El Groupo and the Sweatbox and one other Walt Disney Company Documentary. This was truly a great opportunity to learn a little bit more about the company and how it got to where it is today. If you have the chance, see this movie. Click below for Q&A audio.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Discovering Julie Svendsen; Artist and Imagineer

I found this great web site the other night while looking for, I can't remember what. But this was quite a find. I found the site of Julie Svendsen and it really gave me another peice of the large puzzle of Disney History I always refer to. Julie Svendsen is an Imagineer and has quite a collection of work as seen on her site. I had sadly never heard of her before now. She is an artist and designer and her work can be seen around the world. You can catch a sliver of the back of her head in the Walt Disney Imagineering book on page 44 while discussing how to present Figment at Epcot. Her work with the the Disney company was for the parks and it's marketing side with some great toy renderings. One, a cool looking Dug plush from the recent movie Up. Anyway, as I was looking into Julie's career I saw that her parents were both connected to the studios. Julie is daughter of famous Disney artist Julius Svendsen and Disney employee Carol Svendsen. There is quite a story here and I plan to explore this thoroughly. I wanted to pass on Julie's site for now. Her Disney work is incredible and her non-Disney equally so. I am very excited to have found this site and looking foward to learning more. Enjoy her site and check back for what I find.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tech Tweets Mickey at the BetaMouse Podcast

I don't usually review a podcast so soon after it starts, but I needed to make an exception with this one. The BetaMouse Podcast uploaded its first show on Feb. 3, 2010 so it is still young.  But, I always like to point out, that for a podcast to succeed it must find it’s niche. With Disney podcasts it can take a number of shows before the host(s) are comfortable enough and have decided what their focus will be. Not true with the BetaMouse Podcast. Simple and to the core from show #1, their niche is how all of the new Tech. being released can and will relate to the World of the Mouse. In their words, “Born of a friendfeed discussion, the betamouse podcast covers disney/tech stuff with a crack team of disney geeks. We produce weekly episodes.” Even in their About us statement they mention another great tool out there for online chat, Friendfeed. And here are the Disney Geeks:
The Betamouse Podcast is headed up by Henry. Henry is the Web Developer at, the official site of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World (ding!). He is also the developer of the Smart Phone app, Lines. This App is amazing because it not only estimates the line wait times for you for all of the WDW parks, it also lets you keep track of live updates of wait times to boot. Not to mention the key information from‘s Crowd Calendar. It’s a pretty nice tool. The price at this point is just right also…Free. Although I am a member of, so charge away.  In all seriousness, there are two or three trip planning resources that I use and is one of them.  And I can vouch for their crowd calendar.  Along with Henry are Jeff, a life-long Disney World visitor and tech. geek. Nate, a former cast member and co-host of the WEDway Radio podcast is also a life-long WDW visitor with plenty of info to share. Scott is the fourth member of the team. He’s a web developer and will be debuting a web site soon at The last but not least member of the team is Katie. Katie has the DVCLife Blog and shares duties with WDW Today’s Matt at the Disney in My Life photo blog.

The BetaMouse team is without a doubt qualified for the topics that are discussed on this show. Their first seven shows covered topics such as location apps in the parks,  going to Disney with your laptop, Camera Gear, and a great Smartphone Survival Guide.  In this guide, they point out places in the parks where you can recharge your phone.  You'll need to listen for those tid-bits.  But I'll tell you now, there is a prime one in the Magic Kingdom that I would never have thought of.  It's great having this new resource to appreciate and learn from.  I've got an Iphone and plan to load it for bear for a couple of up-coming trips to the world.  Mainly sound-recording and Tweets, but we'll see what I hear about next.  That Foursquare and Gowalla sounded interesting on show #7.  Maybe I'll check them out.

If you have any kind of electronics that you take down to the world, or even not as these are a great group to listen to, check out the BetaMouse Podcast.

PS: Cool logo and very aproppriate opening theme song.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Maz Disney Blog Turns Three this Month!

Happy Blog-day to me. Happy Blog-day to me.
Happy Blog-day you Disney Geek.
Happy blog day tooooooo meeeeeeee.

I had a random thought this afternoon, checked it out and confirmed it. The Maz Disney Blog was started three years ago this month. Woo Hoo!  I was really pumped to see that it’s been three years and almost 20,000 hits. I write to this blog mainly for myself. I don't want to torture my family with my non-stop Disney discussions. So as an outlet for that interest I use this space. And follow about 20 or so Blogs. And listen to the same amount of podcasts. And subscribe to a bunch of message boards…Did I mention Disney Geek?

Well I was curious to see what I posted as my first post so long ago and after the requisite intro post the second post was about seeing a caricature of Walt Disney sitting in the audience of the Circus in Dumbo. I had heard about that on the defunct Mousepod podcast and was so excited to see for myself…and there he was. Walt watching DumboIt was fun watching the movie again and then making the video capture and then finding a picture from a similar time. Then putting it all together to share.  I really like the process.  I am a closet historian and what better topic to explore.
Another thought I had was that after three years I should probably have checked my About Me comments and updated them as to where the blog is today. I was very pleased to find that after a read through that I had NO changes to make. I had actually stayed true to my original idea three years ago. “Welcome to the Maz Disney Blog. I am a fan of all things Disney. With this Disney Themed Blog I will pass on any information that I think is interesting. I listen to many podcasts and look for and return to some of the best Disney Blogs on the internet. Along with my own thoughts and experiences, I will also provide links to articles of interest where ever I may find them. So, Have your Ticket ready…Keep your hands and eyes inside the Blog and enjoy your stay.” And yes, I still get a chuckle out of my last line there. Geek.
Where do I see the blog in three more years? I can only answer this by relating how I think I just recently put a handle on the why. Why such interests in something like the Parks or a Company or a Man? Well let’s not forget that, “ was all started by a Mouse…” that was created by a man. And that man, Walt Disney, is quite possibly one of the most intriguing men of the last century. After reading a number of biographies, stories and interviews, I come away with a man who truly changed the world. He did this by instilling such a work ethic mixed with accomplishment that brought out the best in all who worked with and for him and their final products. True it was not always pleasant, but I get that there was such a feeling of accomplishment and teamwork that I can only hope to experience that at some point in my career.  And there is always something new I did not know. 
So here is to first three and to one more year of being another drop in that bottle of animation ink that is made up of all Disney enthusiasts!  Yeah, yeah, maybe a little corny, but the sentiment is right. 
Thanks for checking out the Maz Disney Blog!

Friday, March 5, 2010

So Dear To My Heart: Disney Studio's First Live-Action Movie

In one of my last posts I mentioned a movie that was released in 1949 by the Disney Studio titled So Dear to My Heart. I mentioned it because of a quote from Walt Disney, “So Dear to My Heart was especially close to me. Why, that’s the life my brother and I grew up with as kids out in Missouri.” Based on that quote I put this, never before heard of movie, at the top of my must see list. And as luck would have it, a couple weeks ago I was at the library and took a chance, looked and was happy to see that they had it. During the last snow storm I had a chance to watch it and, you know, it was really good. Right from the beginning credits you are put into the relaxed atmosphere of a simpler life with backgrounds of good ole country, Grandma quality, quilts and the turning pages of a very full Scrapbook. This scrapbook becomes an important storytelling tool as we travel through this movie. Jeremiah (Jerry) Kinkaid, played by Bobby Driscoll, is a young boy living in a turn of the century, small town that could have been anywhere in the US at that time. Jerry lives with his Grandma on a farm alone. They are occasionally helped by Uncle Hiram, the towns blacksmith played by Burl Ives. Burl is best know to this generation as the voice of the Snow Man from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. After seeing a prized race horse one day Jerry sets his heart on the un-realistic goal of somehow getting a colt to raise as his very own prized Race horse. His plans change after the birth of a certain black wooled little lamb. His thoughts and his scrapbook go from prized horse to prized sheep. The story revolves around Jerry raising that lamb and his goal of winning a blue ribbon at the County Fair. There is fun and adventure along with some real fearful moments. Jerry’s scrapbook is used to convey lessons as it transforms into animation through-out the film to teach Jerry the important things in life. One of the better of the scenes is based aroundthe song "It's Whatcha do With Whatcha Got". We follow Jerry and his Grandma played by Beulah Bondi, through the summer and then to the County Fair and suffice it to say a classic Disney ending. As I did some research on this film I un-covered a number of unknown, to me, facts that I think are really interesting. This was the first live action movie out of the studios. I had always though it was one of the Richard Todd movies but it was this movie in 1949. After some initial testing with the movie it was found that an all live-action film from the Disney Studio might not be taken seriously, so it was decided to add the animated scenes. Here is a quote from the actual NY Times review of this movie; “Walt Disney's latter-day practice of intruding ‘live action’ into his films, thus displacing in increasing measure his familiar animated images, has worked out something like the donkey which meekly stuck its head in the door. ‘Live action’ has now taken over his latest feature, ‘So Dear to My Heart.’ Except for brief passages in cartoon, which altogether run for twelve minutes, at most, the bulk of this children's fable, now at the Palace, is in straight ‘live action’ style.” Think about how you felt when Disney released The Darryl Hannah/Tom Hanks movie Splash. At the time it was un-heard of for the Disney studios to release a movie with a PG rating. Back then I remember people talking about how Disney had lost it’s values and worse. But they do it all the time now.
One part of the movie stood out to me in that it showed me what it was like in 1903 and how small towns relied on the train for all kinds of things that we take for granted today. There was so much excitement that the train was stopping at an off schedule time. It was as if the circus had come to town. It was close though, that train was carrying Dan Patch a real prize winning horse of that day. But to see the entire town come out for train makes me see a little better the importance and reverence that Walt had always shown for this form of transportation. Another point that stuck out is the un-settling Disney theme throughout a lot of their pictures, no parents. We never find out what happened to Jerry’s parents to have him being raised by his Grandma. Besides that, this is a very fun, touching and down home type of movie. There is a good story, some great action and even a tear or too. The one scene where Jerry goes looking for his lost sheep, he finally takes to heart a lot of what Grandma has been preaching about. Please find time to see this movie. It was based on a novel by Sterling North. I read on the Daveland Blog that the train station set went to Ward Kimball for his backyard scale train set-up. On a sadder note I followed through on Bobby Driscoll's career after this and later Peter Pan and his un-fortunate end. After the recent Corey Haim death it is sad to see that Hollywood does not learn from it's mistakes. Another, funnier note of the time, the NY Times wanted to make sure all of the Loyal Disney Studio animation fans would be ready for the next feature with the final line of their review: “We are happy to say, as a footnote, that Mr. Disney will fully animate his next long film.” The public is slow to change...

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Magic Kingdom's SpectroMagic

New Post on Youtube for me. Spectro is great!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

An Unexpected Walt Disney Biography Book Review

I usually leave the the book reviews to the experts like George over at Imaginerding or Didier at the Disney History Blog, but I came across a book today that I wanted to share. What makes it so great a find is the point that I almost did not even pick it up. My daughter is 9 and working on a biography report for school. She chose to write about Walt Disney bless her heart. Her school library did not have any Walt biographies so I borrowed a couple from my school library. The first was a 20 page or so book and the other was a book of pictures. As I said I had really dismissed these books. After all, I have read a number of 300-400 page biographies about Walt Disney, what could these elementary books offer. Well once again I am proven big time wrong. The picture book was "Walt Disney His Life in Pictures" edited by Russell Schroeder with an Intro by Diane Disney Miller. This book, with the help of the Disney Company archives, has over 170 pictures chronicling Walt Disney's life sprinkled with many of his life lesson quotes in chapters broken up through the decades of Walt's life. Granted, a lot of the pictures here I have seen before but there are a number that are totally new to me. I really like the sweatbox series of pictures of Walt acting out scenes in Snow White and Pinocchio and there is a really great picture of Walt, Ub Iwerks and Les Clark taken late in Walt's life. All three men are laughing and are said to be reminiscing over a short they had all worked together on in 1929. There are some other pictures which I had not seen before. The quotes also are not the common "It was all started by a Mouse" type quotes, but more specific about different items as he moved through life. One that caught my eye was about a live action movie he made called So Dear to My Heart. This is about a young boy growing up on the farm. Next to another picture I had not seen before of Walt lounging on the bed of the old farm house of Granny Kincaid was this quote, "So Dear was especially close to me. Why, that's the life my brother and I grew up with as kids out in Missouri. The great racehorse, Dan Patch, was a hero to us. We had Dan Patch's grandson on my father's farm." I had known about Walt's life on the farm but not his feeling in regards to his upbringing and this movie. I will be adding that to my must watch list of movies now. This was a nice little book that unexpectedly added a little bit to what I know of the history and story that is Walt Disney. And, you can get yours right now on Amazon for .48 cents each.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Give-A-Day-Get-A-Day Step 3: I'm Going To Walt Disney World

I got my voucher notice the other day...and here it is. I am planning a trip in June. We decided that we will volunteer again with the kids if I can find something appropriate.
The idea is to take this voucher with ID to the Park and get a one day ticket. I will look into exchanging it for a 10 day ticket once I get down there. All in all this was a very positive opportunity. I had a great time helping out with the seniors. I am sure that they liked getting their questions and needs look at and resolved. I will be helping out with a program at our school that will bring seniors into the school's lab and then train them on how to use the computers and the Internet. I have been following other peoples stories about Give-A-Day-Get-A-Day and for the most part it has been positive.
If you have not looked into doing this yet, you should. It is not that much time, and the reward is what any Disney fan can ask for, another chance to go to the parks. I'll re-visit this thread of posts once I get to the parks and turn in the voucher.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Give-A-Day-Get-A-Day Step 2 Completed

This past Monday night I had completed Step 2 in Disney's Give-A-Day-Get-A-Day promotion. In the last post I went over finding the volunteering opportunity. In this one I discuss the actual experience. I was signed up with three other people to visit a Senior Center in Philadelphia to help answer and troubleshoot computer questions. Not the first thing that comes to mind when you see Kermit and Miss Piggy building that house in the commercials. My coverage time was 6-8. I got there around 5:30 and after signing in I found the library/computer center. As I was waiting for the event coordinator to arrive I took some time to take a look at the four pc's they had on site. I had time to check that all were pretty much up to date with software and anti-virus. Before the session started the coordinator asked us to fill out a short form that would be submitted to the HandsOn people to be relayed to Disney. The first person I helped was a nice woman named Alice. We went over things such as email, using mapquest, getting a value on her 1985 toyota and some other things. There were a couple more people I helped in the pretty much the same way. The time went pretty fast and I'm pretty sure I was helpful. When we finished up we were thanked and it broke up. I left my email for the people I had helped in case there are any future questions I can help with. The next day I got an email from HandsOn people and they wanted to thank me and let me know that they would soon contact Disney and I should get an email from Disney in up to two weeks telling me how to claim the park ticket. Stay tuned for Step 3

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Be Our Guest Trip Planning Podcast:"Ready to Take a Trip to the World?"

Ready to Take a Trip to the World?” I always am, aren’t you? That line is the phrase that opens up every Be Our Guest Podcast. And every time I hear that line I find myself nodding my head YES! ” This is the show where you are the star! Each week, we will talk with a new "guest" who has just recently returned from their vacation to Walt Disney World. We will discuss planning, resort stays, restaurant reviews, park experiences, and much more!” The Be Our Guest Trip Planning Podcast (BOGP) has been recording since March of 2008. They are coming up on their two year mark this March and they have just released their 196th show.
The BOGP show is run by Mike with his co-hosts Riki, Deb and Pam. This podcast team has a lot of talent. Pam and Mike are both professional trip planners. The entire crew is back and forth to WDW a lot and Deb even lives down in Florida. The format of the show is really easy to listen to and the show length averages from 30 to 45 minutes. Mike releases two shows a week, one on Monday and one on Friday. The Monday show is an interview with almost anyone. The catch is the Disney tie in. From people like you and I with trip reports or someone with a new angle on the parks each of these interviews are always interesting and informative. The Friday show is reserved for the panel type discussions about almost anything Disney. This is a Podcast put on by people that are true Disney Fans first and Disney Podcast fans second and then Disney Trip planners last. Their shows are varied with topics from dining to hotels to the parks. The have a ton of experience but never hesitate to admit not knowing an item. As a fan of many Disney Podcasts, I never hear the other podcasters talk a lot about other shows. Not true about Mike and his crew. They are fans of Lou and Len, Matt & the Mikes and a lot of the other Disney Podcasts. Just recently Mike and the BOGP crew took a trip down to WDW for Marathon Weekend. Between their Tweets and Mikes audio updates, it was a little taste of what being there that weekend was like, snow and all. A big CONGRATS goes out to Mike and all the runners this year at WDW. That snow looked pretty hairy. I do agree with Mike, from his last show, about how this will be race you'll be telling your grand-kids about. BOGP has a nice website with a great set of message boards. The big story right now are people getting there reservations all set for the BOGP Cruise which will be in June 2011 on the new
Disney Dream. The family and I are booked for this cruise and can’t wait. Mike's latest venture is Magical Mouse Radio. This is one of the few all Disney online radio broadcasts that can be picked-up through Live 365. Mike has a great mix of Disney themed music and tracks 24 hours a day 7 days a week. He has just started adding shows such as the "Resort Loop" and "Kiss Goodnight" that features specific music from different parts of the World.
The Be Our Guest Trip Planning Podcast is available on ITunes and at their site for downloads. Please check them out, you will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hidden Details:Minnie's Busy Life and More

I love finding details in the pictures that I take at Walt Disney World. I can be assured of looking over the last trips pictures and find some nod toward Disney History or a hidden joke.
It seems Minnie has a pretty busy calendar. On a trip through Toontown, we stopped in and visited Minnie's very Pink little cottage. There is so much to see in here that it can be over-whelming in the detail. The kitchen has some pretty good gags and the artwork and pictures everywhere are great. On the way into the kitchen there is a small little alcove that has a bulletin board with a whole bunch of posts. I can remember taking the picture and seeing a couple pictures and names stick out, but not until recently did I take a closer look and really see the Hidden Details in this little alcove in a little house in a corner of the Magic Kingdom. As I was looking over everything Minnie had pinned up the first thing that grabbed my eye was the picture of Jiminy Cricket and his Safety seminar "I'm No Fool". Can you live with your conscience if you miss it? As soon as I read those lines, I flashed to the song I'm no Fool and flipped over to Youtube for a quick search and there they were. Jiminy Cricket did a series of shorts in the 50's that were safety orientated. Topics such as bicycle, fire and pedestrian saftey and more were filmed. Here is a link for the first one I remember as a kid in school, the one on Bicycle Safety. The next item on the board that caught my eye was a Wedding Invite for a Miss Prunella Pullet and a Mr. Hick Rooster. I had an idea where this reference was going. A couple of quick searches found the 1935 Silly Symphony short, 'Cock of the Walk'. This is the classic lose the girlfriend then win her back, hick versus city rooster type of thing. Still classic and an unexpected nod from inside Minnie's house. Although, I guess they all live together in ToonTown. The next item I looked at was a small hand drawn note from someone named Penny thanking Minnie for teaching her how to publish a magazine. Hmmm, that sounds odd. I did some searches and did find a childhood friend of Minnie named Penny. At one brief moment, there was a Minnie Mouse for Mickey, a Daisy Duck for Donald, and a Penny Dog for Goofy. Disney HooZoo says, "...she seems to have played a major roll in Minnie's early life, forming the third in a trio of compadres akin to that of the Mickey, Donald and Goofy trio. Second, because she may be the mysterious mate of Goofy and mother of Max..." Read more at Disney HooZoo . (Love that name) I could not find a reference on the magazine though. A couple other references that I am not sure of is for Dr. Drillum, the local Toontown dentist. He even has a house in Toontown, Disneyland. The one add that Minnie had posted that did not make much sense was about Hewie, Dewie and Lewie and was very light on information. It seems that Duckburg's very best food prep service is now available in Toontown. That's right, the Three Nephew Catering Co. "Three Nephews From Duckburg will help you if your Stuck-burg" The best theory I have as to this one is that everyone needed a job and in the crap-shoot of jobs available the boys got the food business. They even have a window on Main Street in Disneyland Paris. Based on Disney's insistance to story there must be one. The final picture was too good to pass up but I could not find anything except for Roo's new friend Lumpy. But the Elephant's only been around a couple of years so I don't think it is it. But the add was pretty nice so I added it here. The other big item was a list of things to do , nothing special.
One of Walt's favorite sayings was that he wanted to educate but never at the expense of entertainment. The added details in these very entertaining attractions does educate, but in a way Walt never imagined. They educate in the History of himself and the company he created, which to anyone probably reading this far, would truly consider education. So, keep your eyes open for the Hidden Details of Walt Disney's World and enjoy every detail the Imagineers can dish up.