Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Small Piece of the Puzzle that is Walt Disney: W.W. I

As you might have seen from the blog, I have a large interest in all things Disney.  But the thing that I really live for is finding another piece of the puzzle that made up Walter Elias Disney and everything he created.

This piece of the puzzle was actually discovered by accident as I was heading home from a trip to WDW.  I stopped at my parents in New Bern, NC and their local town's culture center was having a WWI re-enactor demonstration.  Dad and I went to kill the time and it was actually pretty good. 

A few gentlemen were dressed up as soldiers from that era.  There was a lot of equipment on display and a couple of rooms with some great exhibits including a trench set-up. 

Along the walls there were some great posters from the time.  Patriotic and volunteer seeking posters.  One that really stood out for me was this one. 

As most of you that read this blog know, Walt entered WWI as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross because he was too young to enter any of the armed services.  Part of the movie in One Man's Dream in Disney Hollywood Studios has Walt telling this story himself. 

"My Brother had joined the Navy, so I wanted to join him.  well, I was still a year too young, I was 16.  Finally this kid come in to me really excited. He said, 'There's something...there's something just forming here that you and I can get in.'  I said, 'What is it?'  He said, "An ambulance unit.'"
Walt joined the Red Cross and was sent over to France as an Ambulance Driver and arrived just as the war was winding down.
As you can read on the poster they were looking for men over 31 years of age which means to old to fight in the military.  And with Walt's story we can easily believe they would take a couple of 16 year olds to young to fight, especially in that part of the century. 
So this small piece of the Puzzle that was Walt Disney might not have come from a Disney source, but it does add depth to the story of Walt.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Finding the Letter 'Q' at Disney.

I'm going to categorize this post as a Challenge Post.  A relatively new but good friend of mine, Charlotte, challenged me to write about the Letter Q and how it applies to Disney.  Now Charlotte is a great blogger in her own right and must of known this was going to be hard.  Challenge on.

Okay, so Q in Disney.  Well, lets start with Walt Disney World and the Q's we might find there.   I hope this is not cheating but hey, look at that, I just did a post on the Queue lines at WDW.  That's a great Q word and here's a link to that post:

The next Q I came up with in WDW has to be the Quick Service Dining(QSD).  Which, opposed to the Table service is a great, cheaper way to get a meal.  There are some really great themed QSD's in the parks, hotels and Downtown Disney.  My favorites right now are; Epcot: Sunshine Seasons, The Pork Chop and Beet salad are a great combo.  MK: Columbia Harbor House, I always get the Tuna sandwich, but a lobster roll is on the horizon.  DHS: I have no favorite here, look for a post on this down the road.  AK: Flametree Barbecue, they have a great chicken and rib combo and the pulled pork is tasty. DTD: Earl of Sandwich.  This did take a dip in popularity when I saw it's a chain and they have them on the rest stops of the Fl. Turnpike.  For a Hotel QS, I'll go with the Pop Food Court, they have a great selection.

 Moving on we can stay in DTD and walk over to the West Side and go to Disney Quest.  We were there a couple of years ago and had a great time.  Disney Quest is the Arcade, game, ride and family center that was suppose to change the entertainment world.  We're still waiting for the one we were promised in Center City Philly.  Disney Quest is a multi-floor complex that would be so much more awesome if not for the fact that it is within a short bus ride of 4 very fun amusement parks.  That being said it is a very fun place with a lot of good family games and activitiesDisney Quest

The next Q is someone we have all seen if not taken advantage and used their talents.  I am of course referring to the Quick Sketch Artists.  These folks can be found all over the parks.  The one location that I know is a regular for these great artists is in the MK, across the bridge from the Crystal Palace, behind the Christmas Store in that outdoor covered area.  These are great memories to take home form the parks.  We are so glad we had done these when the kids were smaller.  Also, not a sketch, but there are the other artists that use scissors to make the shadow boxes of the kids.  They are pretty Quick.

Now for a stroll through the huge cast party of all of the Disney Characters over the years and who do we have.  Well, Quasimodo jumps right out.  After him we have QuackerJack an insane toy maker bad guy from the Darkwing Duck series.  And then, we have the Queens.  Queen Athena who we found out later was Ariel's deceased mom. Queen Grimhilde which was the name of the Evil Queen in Snow White.  Queen Leah, the mother of Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, and Queen Miranda form Sophie the First.  Queen Mousetoria from the Great Mouse Detective.  A more recent Queen would be Queen Narissa from Enchanted and Queen Clarion the queen of the fairies.  And of course the boil pot of rage the Queen of Hearts.  And of course...best for last...Queen Elsa.

So that's my tour of the Q's of Disney.  Thanks for joining me on this quite quintessential journey of the letter.    What did I miss?  Comment below and let me know!  Stay tuned for the Letter Z.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

WDW Interactive Queue Entertainment; What's next?

As I've mentioned in previous posts, YouTube is your friend.  I was watching a recent video that showed the new Interactive Queue Entertainment updates that were made to the Peter Pan attraction at WDW.

The things they come up with are great and always an improvement on the past.  The shadows are sooooo sharp and you can't really tell the difference of the animation and the guest.  Tinkerbelle in the bedroom is very cool as is the clap, Pixie Dust room.  I can't wait to try those things out.
The Disney Imagineers have been busy with these great side projects that has been going on for a decade or more.  There had to be someone, somewhere in Disney Mgmt. who asked, "How can we improve the Guest's experience in the parks?"  Or better yet, "How to make the guy that just spent a lot of $$$ forget that he is on a long line?"  Either way, the ideas they've come up with have been really good.
To explain further, I'm not talking about pre-show movies like they have in Muppets or Monster Inc., but the activities or entertainment to help you enjoy your Stand-By Line experience.  And, as far as I've determined, there are three main type of these Interactive Queue Experiences(IQE).  The first is the large animatronic kind of distraction.  Buzz Lightyear and Mr. Potato Head are two great examples.  As well as Stitch. 
The second type of IQE's are the physical kinds of activities like the games and the touch-me or better yet, waving activities.  The new things on Peter Pan are a great example of this.  I think the Soarin' Queue might have been the first kind and wow have they come a long way since.  The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train has some great ones.

The third kind of IQE is the general overall look of the attraction kind of queue.  Almost every ride queue at a Disney park has a great overall look.  There is so much detail packed into a regular line area that for 30 years nothing was really needed to be done to improve the line standing situation.  Think of walking through Pirates or Splash Mountain or even the Jungle Cruise's queue.  Those queue's with no electronic help at all are pretty awesome.  Take a look below at us walking through the Splash Mountain line once we go inside.  You totally believe that your moving from our world and going underground and getting ready to enter the world of Briar Fox and all his friends and enemies. 
Same with Pirates.  That fort is one of the most realistic areas on property.  Another thing to note is the music.  Every attraction queue has it's own music.  On second thought, every pathway and restaurant has their own theme music, that's how immersive Disney Imagineers make it.  In my opinion, audio is just as important as visuals in almost every form of entertainment.

The Magic Kingdom in particular is being taken over by these Queue upgrades.  There are now IQE's on Pooh, Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder, Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, Peter Pan, Seven Dwarfs, Little Mermaid and Dumbo.

The question now, is what's next?  Of the remaining attractions that have extensive lines in the Magic Kingdom, there are 3 really good candidates.  My thinking is that these 3 attractions, Pirates, Splash Mountain, and the Jungle Cruise are the next to get an IQE.  All 3 of them are kind of already set up for it in that they have inside controlled areas. 
 Pirates could be as easy as including some animatronic characters on the Queue.  How about a pirate in a cell?  It would react to people passing by and talk.   Or perhaps windows out to the harbor from the fort as we walk through it showing the approaching pirates.  If the guys playing chess where not on the Fastpass line I'd say animate them.  Seems like a waste if people are speeding by it on fastpass.
The Jungle Cruise has a lot of great things to look at and read while your on line.  But on crowded days when they open up that back area of the line, it can get boring.  The extra line is so long, there's a water fountain at the other end of it before your turn and come back.  Maybe a bank of two way radios where you can listen into conversations between "imagineered" skippers?  Or some of the Under the Sea crab like technology in a form suitable for the Jungle Cruise.  I could also see holographic maps of the Jungle and a electronic version of the deceased remote control boats.  Same kind of screens and controls like Space Mountain, but a jungle course where you can drive boats.  Or imagine the car driving game from Post-show at Test Track but mounted on the wall.
 Splash Mountain is another attraction that has a substantial line that sometimes backs up.  With two distinct areas in this queue, there are a lot of things that can be added to take the guest's mind off the wait.  The outdoor section as you go around the switch backs could have some interactive activities but they must somehow match the really nice landscaping they have back there.  As much as I don't want people to just look down out there, a similar game like the iPad like gem game as they have on the Seven dwarfs queue would work well.  Maybe something like catch the Briar Fox.  Another idea would be to use the trees involving the birds of the story to get people to look around. As you go inside and down into the tunnel to where the logs are docked, the entire left wall can be utilized in an number of different ways.  Touch screens and various other 3D holographic games themed to Splash.  It'll be fun.
So what do you think?  What is the next attraction to get one of these Interactive Queue Entertainment makeovers?  I only discussed the Magic Kingdom in this post and plan on talking about others down the road.   Thanks to WDWNews Today and Ricky at Inside the Magic for some of the YouTube help.