28 June 2008

That's so Cheetah - Part II

Remember how I told you a few weeks ago that the Girl Scouts and the Cheetah Girls segment of Road to the Cheetah Girls One World wouldn’t be the last time that we heard of the Girl Scouts and the Cheetah Girls working together? Here’s the rest of the story.

One day after the worldwide premiere of The Cheetah Girls: One World the exclusive partnership with the Girl Scouts will allow the Girl Scouts to hold viewing parties of The Cheetah Girls: One World. That’s right, on Saturday, August 23rd, at 7:00pm EST/6:00PM CST, any girl who has ever dreamed of being a Cheetah Girl will have the chance to see the film. The Girl Scouts will be able to use these screenings not only for the girls already involved in Scouting, but they will also be able to use these viewing parties as recruitment tools to attract new girls to the organization. Every girl will be welcome.

For many of us out there who already have cable, this may not seem like a big deal. We will be able to plop ourselves down on the couch on Friday, August 22nd, and view the movie’s premiere if we so desire. However, I personally know of plenty of underprivileged children who do not have the opportunity to afford the luxuries that some of us take for granted. Yet, they still dream of the dance moves, the fashionable clothing, and the belted out songs that the Cheetah Girls offer. These young women would give anything for the chance to be a part of the Cheetah Girls, or to just watch the movie the same weekend every other girl at school gets to view the movie. And now, thanks to the combined efforts of Disney and the Girl Scouts, all girls can dream with the Cheetah Girls together.

Girl Scouts is about giving a girl or young woman the tools she needs so that she can hold her head up high and not be afraid of the world, because she knows she can conquer it. Seeing a movie on its opening weekend may not be the solution to all of the world’s problems, or even to all of the problems a young woman faces in today’s society, but if it helps just one girl raise her head a little higher come Monday morning at school, then this partnership has been a success in my eyes.

Plus, word has it, this is going to be a really fun movie.

27 June 2008

Your candle on the water

Passamaquoddy is having a cookout next weekend in honor of the 4th of July and, like any good newsman, I smell a story brewing. So, be sure to check out Passamaquoddy for all the festivities in the coming week. In the meantime, how about a little background on the fair town? Here’s a little history from The Little Big Book of Disney. Also, the keen-eyed observer may find an association between Pete’s Dragon and the new film WALL-E.

When the Disney Studio made plans to tell the story of a good-natured dragon who inadvertently wrecks havoc in a small Maine fishing village, studio executives found their $10 million budget insufficient for a Maine shoot. The logical solution: build a new town.

Oscar-winning art director Jack Martin Smith, known for Cleopatra, Fantastic Voyage, and Hello, Dolly!, spent $250,000 to create the fictional town of Passamaquoddy from scratch on the back lot of the Disney Studios. He organized the face-lift of thirty existing buildings of the studio’s Western Street, the construction of eight additional ones, and the installation of a special concrete-lined pool to accommodate the period fishing boats and docks of the seaside village.

Smith’s coup: a 52-foot lighthouse built on Point Buchon, a promontory south of Morro Bay, California. Although it overlooks the Pacific Ocean, the area’s brisk winds and stunning views resemble the northeastern United States coast. At a cost of $115,000, the lighthouse took fifty men three weeks to build. Upon completion of the film, some talk circulated about preserving the lighthouse as part of an attraction for Disneyland or Walt Disney World. The plans never came to fruition, and the top of the lighthouse sat on the Burbank back lot for several years before finally deteriorating beyond repair.

The lighthouse lamp in Pete’s Dragon shone so bright that the film’s location manager needed to obtain special permission from the Coast Guard to light it for filming. The lamp, with its $6,000 Fresnell-type lens, could cast a beacon eighteen to twenty-four miles – far enough to confuse passing ships.

26 June 2008

Faster, faster, faster, faster,... say spaghetti

It’s been a while since we’ve had a good recipe on the front page. So, for all of the romantics out there, put your heart on your sleeve, an extra meatball on your sweetheart’s plate, and whip up this recipe for the famous sauce and meatballs from Lady and the Tramp.


2 1/2 Cups Chopped Tomatoes (with Juices)
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Small Onion, minced
4 Tablespoons Fresh Basil, chopped
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 Teaspoon Dried Oregano, crumbled
1/4 Teaspoon Sugar
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Heat oil in heavy saucepan.
Add onion and garlic, sauté about five minutes.
Add tomatoes, basil, oregano, and sugar; bring to a boil.
Reduce heat; simmer until sauce thickens (approximately one hour).
Season with salt and pepper.


1 Pound Ground Beef
1 Large Egg
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1/4 Cup Onion, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons Parsley, minced
2 Tablespoon Fresh Basil, chopped
2 Tablespoons Pine Nuts
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

Combine Beef, bread crumbs, egg, garlic, onion, parsley, basil, nutmeg, salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts; mix thoroughly.
Shape into 1 1/4-inch balls.
Heat oil in heavy saucepan.
Add meatballs in batches and cook until brown on all sides (approximately 8 minutes).
Drain off the fat.

Combine meatballs and sauce and serve over one pound of freshly cooked pasta.

Sing of happy, not sad

You could say that I have been preparing for my role as preschool teacher since I myself was a preschooler. Like most adults of a certain age or older, who didn’t have Dora the Explorer, Bob the Builder, or Baby Einstein, I grew up on Sesame Street and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. Today I found out, through the always resourceful The Disney Blog, that Kermit Love passed away at age 91 this past Saturday.

Kermit Love was the man who helped design Big Bird, Mr. Snuffleupagus, Oscar the Grouch, and Cookie Monster. For those who remember, or have seen some of the old episodes recently, Love appeared on the show as Willy the Hot Dog Man. Through the constant six year old eyes of Big Bird I learned that curiosity was okay, my letters and numbers, how to forgive, how to express my emotions, and how do dance, badly I might add. A favorite tune of Sesame Street, Sing, told me to, “Sing of good things, not bad. Sing of happy, not sad.”

So to Kermit Love, long-time friend of Jim Henson and adamant refuter of the notion he was the namesake of the famous Frog, thank you for all the smiles you have brought to children for generations, thank you for helping to mold us into upstanding citizens, thank you for caring for all us and your creations. Today, as you celebrated the unabashed joy of youth, we celebrate you.

24 June 2008

Modern industrial equipment

We all have routines at Walt Disney Worlds, traditions of first attractions, must-dos, and habits that have become rituals. Growing up in such a close proximity to Walt Disney World afforded me the opportunity to branch out and find the not-so-imposing attractions to add to my lists of traditions. When in EPCOT Center, a trip was not complete without a ride through Horizons, a trip to the Imagination Pavilion’s Image Works to dabble with the Magic Palettes (a coloring book on a computer screen), and, depending on the year, an afternoon showing of Skylaidescope Lagoon Spectacular and/or a viewing of Expo Robotics.

Expo Robotics was a show that ran in Communicore West from 1988 until 1993. During the show robotic arms, named Ironside and Pixel, would balance tops that were spinning at 2000 revolutions per minute on the edge of a sword, a conductor’s baton, and on top of another top. For their grand finale, the arms would attempt to maneuver a top from one pedestal to another along a piece of string. This should come as much of as surprise, since the arms were accurate to within 1/10,000th of an inch. The robotic arms were also known to create drawings of guests, along with the assistance of a camera.

Standing there watching these robots do things I knew I would never be able to do, I was in awe. I’d like to say I remember thinking about all of the applications these arms would be capable of, or how through technology the world was changing, or even that one day, perhaps, I could build the next great robot. I’d like to say that, but it would be a lie, because what I was thinking about in my all-boy-all-the-time brain, a brain that had been saturated with images and facts about Transformers, GoBots, C-3PO, and R2-D2, was that this was a real robot, that could do real things, and how would I get one?

Robotic technologies may have advanced beyond the talents of Ironside, Pixel, and the rest of the Top-Spinning Robots of Expo Robotics, but it is nice to be able to look back and marvel at their skills. Especially since, even after all these years, I still cannot spin a top at 2000 rotations per minute on the edge of a sword.

Places, everybody! And ... Action!

In case you’ve been living in outer space for the past 700 years, there’s a little film called WALL-E coming out this Friday, and in case you haven’t heard there is a little get together for the film in North Carolina on Saturday, sponsored by brothers George and Andrew of Imaginerding and Jeff of 2719 Hyperion. I also hear that Brian, of Mousin’ It Up, will be in attendance along with yours truly. The picture below sums it up pretty well, but should you have any further questions be sure to check with George.

23 June 2008

Your jokes are like wine

Within the walls of the Stage 1 Company Store are a multitude of gags, props, and scenery relating to those wild and crazy guys and gals, the Muppets. This, I’m sure, comes as no surprise to anyone, and if you are surprised, then what are you waiting for?!?! Get in there and soak up some of the Muppet goodness! One of my favorite Stage 1 Company Store sits above the guests keys of the Happiness Hotel registration desk.
The Muppets, like Walt Disney, don’t talk down to their audience. Which means that while the wordplay presented on the sign is wholly humorous on its own, understanding the meaning of the phrases in print only adds to the hilarity. A Murphy bed is a type bed that, in order to conserve space, folds up into a wall or closet. Murphy’s Law, assigned to the engineer Edward Murphy either as a direct quote or as ridicule of his haughtiness, states that, “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.

So that means that if you check in to the Happiness Hotel and in end up stuck in the wall of your room waiting on the cleaning crew to let you out, well, you only have yourself to blame. You were warned.

22 June 2008

Challenges of the future

EPCOT Center was the fusion of a World’s Fair and an amusement park, the technologies of today and the dreams of tomorrow, and Walt’s vision for a city of tomorrow and the limitations of mere mortal romantics. Creating a future that can continue to be relevant is not an easy task, but George McGinnis had the uncanny ability to balance all of these components and still create awe-inspiring attractions. As an Industrial Design Manager, McGinnis’ handiwork could be seen across Future World on EPCOT Center’s opening day. From Communicore’s Astuter Computer Revue and SMRT-1, Universe of Energy, and World of Motion, to the central component of EPCOT Center, Spaceship Earth, his show element concepts would help mold the worlds of wonder that all would experience.

Card Walker, speaking to the Urban Land Institute, stated that Epcot was to be a “demonstration and proving ground for prototype concepts,” a “communicator to the world,” and provide an “ongoing forum for the future.” Looking in from the outside, this would seem to be an instance where man’s reach exceeded his grasp, but EPCOT Center would take these trials and create a foundation built of today’s innovations which would allow the future to reach its full potential, and this view of the future would not have been complete without the work George McGinnis.

There was a fluidity to the various messages of EPCOT Center, where at one corner of the park guests could begin to chew on a message about energy sources that would carry with them until they could digest the concept fully in an attraction that carried a message about mobility or guests could see the possibilities the world held in store for them, if only we could find more inspired ways to communicate, before moving into a pavilion where the technologies that could assist us in reaching out to one another were all around them. All of these messages were touched by George McGinnis, and while these are difficult concepts to grasp, McGinnis and the other Imagineers who worked tirelessly on these attractions were not only able to take hold of these concept they were able to translate their fundamental theories into obtainable ideas for all of us. The work McGinnis completed for the various messages of Future World’s Universe of Energy, World of Motion, Communicore, and Spaceship Earth would serve him well, as these messages would combine with others from around EPCOT Center to culminate into a single striking view of the future, Horizons.

Though he was not alone in molding EPCOT Center, George McGinnis was a key component to some of the most enduring ideals and visions the park offered. He helped to create the legend that would be EPCOT Center, and in doing so became a legend himself, if only in the hearts and minds of Disney enthusiasts the world over.

Bibliography: Beyond Today Bibliography

20 June 2008

The nose knows

The Disneyland Hotel has an enormous amount of history to take in and so many details it would seem almost impossible to catalogue them all. One of my favorite pieces in all of the Disneyland Hotel is this tissue dispenser found in the bathroom. Printing the word “TISSUE” would isolate guests from foreign countries, while leaving the area blank would just seem truly un-Disney. The solution? Add in an iconic figure that has a used a hanky or two in his life. Gesundheit, Sneezy!

19 June 2008

The Official School Map of the Kingdom of Anandapur

Trying to get the lay of the land inside of Disney’s Animal Kingdom can be rather tricky. Thankfully, at the Kids’ Discovery Club: Asia, a large wall map provides a well-plotted guide to the Kingdom of Anandapur, including the district and town of Anandapur and the Chakranadi River. Though Serka Zong does not appear on the map, a town called Zerka Dzong is located in the more mountainous regions of Anandapur. Perhaps we westerners have been missing this silent ‘D’ all these years, or maybe this is just a geographical coincidence. Either way, I hear that Forbidden Mountain calling to me once more.

18 June 2008

What a great toon

Throughout Walt Disney World there are stories, and details from stories, and details that tell a story, but never has there been a more complete story told than with this stunt vehicle and two framed pictures. Located in a tucked away corner of Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Backlot Express, these pieces of cinema history tell the story of Who Framed Roger Rabbit’s crabby cabby, Benny the Cab.

Benny the Cab was a mesh of stunt vehicle effects and animation. The process of shooting the Benny the Cab scenes were stressful, especially for Bob Hoskins who had to act and react to the animated Benny and Roger characters, who were not present, all while pretending to drive. That’s right, pretending to drive. Readers with eagle-eyes may notice that behind Bob Hoskins brownish’ seat is another seat, lower and with a more orange tone. This seat was reserved for Charles (Charlie) Croughwell, a stunt driver who would don a completely black jumpsuit and hood before taking to the wheel as Benny the Cab. A vague outline of Charles’ head can be seen behind Bob Hoskins in the photograph.

Even without research, this corner of Backlot Express tells the story of how the effect of Benny the Cab was built, layered, and executed. From expert driving, finessed acting, and well-placed strokes of animation, Benny was given life instead of just simply being a stripped-down stunt vehicle. So, don’t forget when you’re looking up, down, and all around that sometimes the story is right before your eyes.

17 June 2008

Without the soul for getting down

I have a friend who has done the Thriller dance more times than anyone, save Michael Jackson, and who was doing the dance long before it came back in style. Mrs. S, of A Pocketful of Pixie Dust, found this video which combines a few of my favorite things: Star Wars, Thriller, and Disney. I just had to repost this video here for everyone to get a good laugh in the middle of their week and as a tribute to my friend Kenny.

For every girl and boy

In 1995 Kathy Jakobsen (My New York, Johnny Appleseed, This Land Is Your Land) released a picture book entitled Meet Me in the Magic Kingdom through Disney Press. The story, which is conveyed through fifty oil paintings, tells the story of Kate, who is from New York, and her cousin Bonnie, who lives in Minnesota, and their family vacation to the Magic Kingdom.

The story itself can, at times, feel quite disjointed since you do not know this family or their personalities, and the introduction to these characters come as details from the attractions are also being wedged in to a few lines of text. As well, as time will often do, the book is dated by the inclusion of attractions that are no longer present (Alien Encounter, Mickey’s Starland, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea).

The illustrations, however, make this a perfect reminder for children coming home from Walt Disney World or as an anticipation builder for children getting ready for their trip. These paintings capture everything that makes the Magic Kingdom, the excitement, the crowds, the colors, the lights, the warmth, even the exhaustion. I even felt that if I listened real quietly and closely I would here the laughter of the guests and the music of SpectroMagic.

Meet Me in the Magic Kingdom is essential gear for a Young Adventurer, especially the preschool adventurers. Even though there are attractions included that are no longer within the Magic Kingdom, this book will succeed, with its tremendous artwork, in giving a child a well-rounded idea of what the Magic Kingdom has to offer them. Once there, with so many varied options for adventures, the attractions now missing will be forgotten in a sea of new explorations.

16 June 2008

That's so Cheetah - Part I

Girl Scouts are more than just cookies, camping, and crafts. This summer, viewers of the Disney Channel will begin to see just how this organization touches the lives of the girls involved, and how they in turn touch the world around them. Girl Scouting is about building the character and confidence of the girls involved with troops worldwide. Traits such as leadership and social conscience have led girls to brighter futures, while giving them the awareness and the ability to change issues that affect them here and now.

Girl Scouts, a worldwide organization which serves ten million girls and leaders in one-hundred and forty-five countries, were recently given the opportunity to meet with the Cheetah Girls while they were filming their new movie, the Cheetah Girls One World, in India. The three inspirational girls, alongside the Cheetah Girls, were filmed for a segment of the Road to the Cheetah Girls One World, an ongoing series of clips already beginning to air. These young women have been working to raise awareness for cancer, again showcasing the skills that are so important for tomorrow's leaders and how they can help today.

While talking about her experiences with the Girl Scouts, Cheetah Girl Adrienne Bailon remarks, “It really really made me feel self-sufficient.”

The meeting wasn’t all about community service and leadership, there were group hugs and plenty of dancing throughout the day. These girls are, after all, still girls and still like to have a good time.

Be sure to keep an eye out for the Road to the Cheetah Girls One World segment featuring the Girl Scouts which will begin airing on June 27th on the Disney Channel. For more information about the Girl Scouts and how you can get involved, check out http://www.girlscouts.org/.

Oh, and don’t think this is the last we have heard of the Cheetah Girls and Girl Scouts teaming up. While I cannot divulge anything else right now, let’s just say you’ll have to tune-in later this summer.

Young Adventurers - The Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm

Pint-sized pilots seeking their wings should take to the air at Goofy’s Wiseacre Farms. Make your way through the barn and onto your plane. Then, make your way through the barn, and its’ roof, in your plane. Test your skills as you loop by Minnie's House, Wiseacre Farm, and Donald’s Miss Daisy. As you come in for a landing, you may believe your first flight was too short, but fear not, for you are now an aviator and you can be my wingman anytime.

Red, blues, greens

I am willing to admit that even I, as a self-made Disney geek, make mistakes. The wonderful thing about mistakes is that you can learn from them. For years I have briskly maneuvered from the Japan pavilion to the France pavilion, my well established favorite of the World Showcase pavilions, disregarding almost entirely, the pavilion of Morocco. Even Richard Beard’s highly detailed look at EPCOT Center in Walt Disney’s EPCOT, which was published just prior to opening day, showcases Africa as a forthcoming pavilion, while Morocco is overlooked completely. If the time is not taken to immerse yourself within the many wonderful intricacies of Morocco, then that, my friends, is a grotesque oversight.

True, there are no movies or boat rides in this country, simply a couple of restaurants and a menagerie of shops. Looking into the pavilion from the promenade, guests can feel as if the pavilion is very small, with no real depth beyond the gate and move along, as I have so often done. What lies within the courtyard before the gate, and the city beyond, is simply astonishing. Stonework, carvings, meandering corridors meant to give the pavilion a disorienting sense of depth, and tile work give Morocco such a spirit that its power cannot be denied.

Another day we will touch upon the intricate carvings that are peppered throughout the pavilion, but today I want to turn your focus to the massive amounts of tile mosaics that permeate Morocco. In order to obtain the most precise appearance of Morocco, King Hassan II sent nineteen maalems, or craftsmen, to World Showcase. While there they placed nine tons of handmade enameled terra-cotta tiles, creating an astonishing number of intricate, and authentic, mosaics. Below are just a few examples of the fine work they completed.

Next time you are making your way around World Showcase, be sure to stop in and just allow yourself to become lost in the art that is all around you. It is an almost forgotten treasure of Epcot that you are sure to become enthralled with.

Special thanks must go out to my wife and Doc who both, in their separate ways, encouraged and nudged me until I became overwhelmed with the beauty and spirit of the Morocco pavilion. Many thanks to you both!

14 June 2008

Walka-walka this way

An occasional reference to Disney-MGM Studios can still be found here or there. For instance, I was still able to find these slates available for purchase at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in April. This is not entirely startling, considering Disney has merchandise they would rather sell than discard and that pieces of history in Walt Disney World seem to be forgotten rather than removed. This is all well and good, but what should one make of a reference, or rather multiple references, to a piece of the park that never actually existed?

Did you catch the phantom history? No?
How about now?

These crates and barrel, found deep within the bottomless bowels of detail in the MuppetVision 3-D queue, more specifically in the preshow area, all sport the same destination: Muppet Studios. Perhaps this is a misstep by the dedicated professional that designed them. After all, Muppet Labs at Disney-MGM Studios could very well get tangled, mangled, misconstrued and come out the other side looking like Muppet Studios. This would be an easy assumption to swallow, if not for the fact that the equally tangled and mangled relationship between Disney and the Muppets includes a Muppet Studios.

Throughout the 1980s there were several opportunities for the Walt Disney Company to combine forces with the Jim Henson Company, first under Ron Miller and Roy Disney and later under Michael Eisner. These deals were all left closed due to reasons ranging from the control of Sesame Street to Jim Henson’s untimely death in 1990. Many, though not all, of the planned collaborations would come to see daylight including Disney-MGM Studios’ shows Here Come the Muppets, Muppets on Location: Days of Swine and Roses, and MuppetVision 3-D.

MuppetVision 3-D was the last film directed by Jim Henson, though he never saw the completion of the attraction, which was planned as the anchoring attraction in a land that would occupy the space between Echo Lake’s Star Tours and the Streets of America’s New York Street. The land was to be called Muppet Studios, and it would have housed not only MuppetVision 3-D, but also the Muppet Movie Ride and the Great Gonzo’s Pandemonium Pizza Parlor. The Muppet Movie Ride was to have been a parody of the Great Movie Ride with Muppets adding their own personal flair to classic films. The Great Gonzo's Pandemonium Pizza Parlor would have featured an interior dining space full of Muppet gadgets and props, video screens throughout the restaurant would show guests how Gonzo, Rizzo, and the Swedish Chef were running amok in the kitchen, and the occasional explosion of smoke and chicken feathers would have completed the experience. Though the Muppet Movie Ride never came to fruition, a pizza parlor was eventually added to this area of Disney-MGM Studios under the guise, and with reduced theatrics, of Toy Story’s Pizza Planet.

The addition of Muppet Studios to the Disney-MGM Studios would have been seamless as, in 1990, the Wonderful World of Disney aired a special entitled to Muppets at Walt Disney World. During the special, the audience learns that Walt Disney World is on the other side of the swamp, Paradise Swamp, that Kermit grew up in.

Sadly, since the Walt Disney Company acquired the Muppets in 2004 there has been little mention of rezoning Disney-MGM Studios or Disney’s Hollywood Studios to include a Muppet Studios, but that doesn’t mean that it has been forgotten.

13 June 2008

Stop jumpin' around

During the course of any day within the Magic Kingdom you will find that you can no longer go on, and that you need to rest. Lunches, waiting for parades and fireworks, and Pooh’s Playful Spot, not to mention the multitude of benches, are all wonderful places where you may rest your weary bones. Yet, for me, there is no place finer than this recessed area of Frontierland to rest, relax, and engage in a few cheap, or free, games.

The Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade itself offers the Guests, especially the Young Adventurers of your group, the chance to saddle up on the range with their rifle in hand for some much-needed target practice or trick shootin’. Try your hand at targeting graves (with some of the cleverest quotes this side of Poor Old Fred), cans and bottles, pesky perched birds, far off saloons, and even distant train cars. Though the price has gone up, now a dollar for thirty-five shots, on this often passed over attraction, it is an investment worth making.

Yet, Boothill doesn’t offer the only test of skill in these parts. Just below the raised walkway of the Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade sits another old-time favorite set upon on old barrel table, checkers. Pull up a chair and teach the finer points of the game to your Adventurer, and show them what makes a true king, or take a moment to relax with the Missus (or Mister) while the young pups relive the great battles of the game of red and black.
This cozy corner of Frontierland has a lot to offer for prices once found only on the plains and prairies, and the prizes are memories you are sure to cherish on down the line. Be sure to take in a game or two whenever you have the chance, or just pull up a chair, sit back, and calm yourself.

11 June 2008

Numbers, letters, papers for writing

Schools across the country are out for the Summer, but that doesn’t mean the learning should end, or that skills should become rusty. Summer reading lists have become commonplace in today’s education system, and who am I to argue against literacy. In the hopes that your child’s summer adventures include a little guy named Mickey Mouse, here are a few old Golden Books that might come in handy.

For the more inquisitive adults out there, this is one of my favorite pieces of illustration in any child’s book. The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe, from Walt Disney’s Mother Goose, is a veritable who’s who of Disney animation. I have enlarged the image slightly so that you may have the opportunity to spot your favorite character.

10 June 2008

For every need and every care

In 1981, just a year prior to the opening of EPCOT Center, there were not multiple theme parks, mini-golf courses, or Pleasure Island with which to fill your days and nights if you happened to be staying in the Vacation Kingdom. So, how exactly did you pass the time when you weren’t strolling around Fantasyland? Let’s take a peak inside the Tencennial DiscoverGuide and find out.

Well, that all sounds like a lot of fun, but what do ‘River Country,’ ‘Discovery Island,’ and ‘Walt Disney World Village’ really look like?

Okay, I’m sold, pack up the station wagon and let’s head on down I-4.

Ah, the memories this little guide brought back; the sandy shores and zip-line of River Country, the scavenger hunt on Discovery Island, and the much plainer buildings of the Walt Disney World Village. Walt Disney World seemed, and for all intents and purposes was, much simpler back then, but that didn’t make it any less exciting. If anything, it helped foster my imagination and nudged me into creating my own adventures, but that may have just been me.

I know there are those out there that wish we still had River Country and Discovery Island, myself included, but I think if we pine for these lost, or rather forgotten, pieces of Walt Disney World we miss out on what we have been taught. Walt Disney World is a work in progress, and improving upon original places and concepts is fundamental to that work.

Treasure/Discovery Island may be just a restroom for waterfowl on their way across Bay Lake, but the message and idea of connecting with the wild world around us has been given a much larger showcase now in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The message that was given birth on Discovery Island has cultivated fresh ideas inside of Disney’s Animal Kingdom that the Island, in its limited capacity, could have never dreamed of.

River Country, on the outside, may seem like an entirely different issue. The ideas of a watering hole don’t seem to have found many homes inside of Walt Disney World. The land itself has never been repurposed, even without venturing beyond the green fence that creates the border between Fort Wilderness and River Country, there are still visible signs of the once dream watering hole. Yet, lessons can be seen in the move from River Country to Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. One such lesson was how much guests did not just want to plunge down a water slide, but that they also wanted to interact with their environment. From the simple zip-line, one can imagine, came a train of thought that would create attractions like the Shark Reef and the Downhill Double Dipper.

Treasures like the Tencennial DiscoverGuide are treacherous to those who have memories of these experiences and those who wish they had had the opportunity to partake in such adventures. They can cause us to focus blindly on the past, while ignoring the present and future. However, when taken in the right doses and with the right mindset, they can be gems that help us meander memory lane and give us hope for a brighter future.

09 June 2008

The fastest information highways

A few months back, I talked about some postcards I had received that once belonged to my grandmother. What I didn’t share then was the bag the cards came in. But now that has been remedied. As I stated in the earlier article, I believe that the postcards are from the opening years of Walt Disney World. And today, after much research on the bag, I can say with 100% confidence that I have absolutely no idea what year, or time period, this bag comes from. Yet, I am hopefully that this bag will get me into a closer range than I have had before.

But Ryan, you might ask, how is that possible? You just said that you don’t even know when the bags were in use. Fear not devoted reader, this is where you come in. I am hoping that by posting an image of the bag that someone out there will recognize the design and be able to give me a more definitive time-frame than the one I have now. That is, at least, my hope. If not, well then we were all able to take a moment and reflect on a very cool, yet underappreciated, piece of Walt Disney World history.

Those are extra magical

When you step out onto a limb, with all the opportunities to fall, it is nice to have a support system out there. These supports shouldn’t keep you from trying something new, and they shouldn’t be there to catch you, they should encourage you to keep experimenting and to keep picking yourself up. In the world of blogging, especially about Disney, these supports come from a variety of places. Family and friends are, obviously, there when you’re taking baby steps, but when you start to spread your wings you’ll find others who feel as if they are on just as shaky ground and together you can soar.

I have found many friends in the Disney community since starting the Main Street Gazette, and I just wanted to take a few minutes today to pay homage to some of them. They mean the world to me, and always find a way, whether they know it or not, to keep me going.

George, resident bibliophile, Jedi/Muppet/Indy/Sunset Blvd. Restroom lover, rival of Princess Fee’s honor, and all around good guy. While in Disney’s Hollywood Studios in April I found several signs and stickers on the Streets of America Public Library, and immediately knew I had to capture them in honor of one of the original Imaginerds. Here is one such decal.

Jeff has done more for Walt Disney World bloggers than I think he will ever know. I’ve said it here before, but by seeing his 2719 Hyperion, and the wonderful work he was doing there, I felt that there was a place for me out there where I could express my thoughts and insights into the wonderful world of Walt Disney World. He was my original inspiration, and his love for Chester and Hester’s seems to know no bounds.

Marissa, she may not have a blog, but her love of Disney, and pins, lots of pins, seems to know no bounds. This one is for you.

Lou, or Papa Disney as he should be referred to at this point, gave me my first taste of Disney details years ago, and I haven’t let up since. Not only that, but he is as genuine a guy as there is out there, though he is extremely busy with all of his projects, he continually makes time for anyone seeking to pick his brain, talk Disney, or just say hello. I hope one day he completes his quest to eat one food item in all of the lands of the Magic Kingdom, until then, I suppose he will just have to make due with meetings in his office above Columbia Harbour House.

Princess Fee, Fiona, daily gives me reasons to visit Disneyland Paris, makes me laugh, and shares wonderful pieces of her history with Disney. Though she may live across an ocean, she finds a way of making anyone who reads her site feel like you are old friends who live down the street. Once a College Program participant, this shot of the gardens in the United Kingdom pavilion, for some odd reason, continually reminds me of Fee.

Glenn has an ability to create worlds and develop those that already exist, all while offering thought provoking and insightful commentary. He is one of those people who, after meeting him for the first time, I felt I had known all along. Though we’ve seen this image before, Doc T is, and will always be, linked to Glenn in my mind.

Jessica has continually amazes me by her eye for detail, as she does us all. Yet, in person, I found her wit and sense of humor just as sharp. Whether it was in creating fictitious stories about details in the parks or discussing Pop Century’s Depression Years, she was always on her A-game. She and I have a fondness for the Haunted Mansion night effects, so this one is for her.

Doc, aka Greg, is probably the one person, aside from my wife, that I give the most credit to for keeping me going. Through planning emails, and just daily ‘how are you?’ emails, he reminds me that Disney is all about family and fun, not just the details. He has taught me, through observation, how to take a better photograph, he has offered me, not only friendship, but a camaraderie seldom seen these days, and he has been a great griping-post when I need one. He has a sense of wonderment that I hope I hold a glimmer of. Here is the man in action.

There are so many others, Bryan, Ray, Foxx, Richard, Craig, Amy, Andy, Ed, Joel, Cheri, Andrew, Krissy, Dean, and others I am sure that I am forgetting, that help me in some way, shape, or form daily. Another day, I promise, I will pay you what you are truly due. But for now, know that you work and comments never ceases to amaze, inspire, and keep me going. To all of you I have mentioned, those of you I forgot (I am so sorry), and those of you who simply find a way to read the Gazette every day, thank you! You keep me flying high!