31 August 2008

Consumer oriented research and development - Part III

How do you get to, or experience, the magic of Disney? Well, Disney has always been willing to offer their advice. Here are a few advertisements that take into account drivers, flyers, and boaters.

30 August 2008

This as you may recognize

I would love to walk around Discovery Island, the island in Bay Lake not the land in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, River Country, the Image Works, the Skyway Stations in Tomorrowland and Fantasyland, or the Odyssey Restaurant. To see what had become of the places I remember, but took advantage of for always being there, from my child and young adult-hood would be tremendous. It is the pealing back of the curtain, the anticipation of what might be there, and the emotional, sad mixed with wonder, of what has been left behind. That being said, I hate that these areas are not being used for Guest experiences.

I’m not saying that they should reopen the Skyway or that River Country should be cleaned up and repurposed as a special recreation area for Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge guests (not that I would complain about that mind you), but these vacant spaces deserve better. They can be used to house new attractions or can be torn down, but the life they have now is the equivalent to hospice, living a life that is not the one they were known for or would want to be remembered for. River Country ticket booths that are still there but housing cases of soda cans and Fantasyland’s Skyway Station being used for stroller parking are not what these areas are remembered for, just what they have been relegated to. They would be better off razed to the ground and formed into new experiences rather than live as the shells they are now. These attractions deserve as much respect in their extinction as they did in their heyday, and should be removed or remodeled rather than left to rot.

It seems that some moves have been made to remodel abandoned areas, such as the Wonders of Life Pavilion. Though some remnants remain of the salute to health, the majority of this building has been redone to allow it to live on as the home to Epcot’s events’ central. While not as grand a purpose as it could be, it still draws guests in and is better than soda storage.

Guests who remember these once proud pieces of Walt Disney World would still have their memories of these attractions and, more than likely, a picture or two. Perhaps they could find life as an inside joke or homage, like the naming of Discovery Island in Disney’s Animal Kingdom or Mr. Toad’s marker in the Haunted Mansion’s pet cemetery. After all, there are very few Guests, outside of the Disney community, who come to Walt Disney World and know what these areas are, or rather, were, and those of us that do remember simply shake our heads as we walk or boat past these once giants among attractions.

Walt Disney, with Disneyland, didn’t want Guests to feel like they were in their real world, he wanted them to inhabit another world. In the world I live in daily there are abandoned buildings and decaying structures. Of the Florida Project, Walt stated that, “There’s enough land here to hold all the ideas and plans we can possibly imagine.” Why then, with all that space available, would they want to remind us of the abandoned places we come from.

29 August 2008

Work being done

This weekend those of us in the United States will be celebrating Labor Day weekend. Labor Day was, originally, a celebration and showcase of the workers of labor organizations. Throughout the years Labor Day, celebrated on the first Monday of September each year, has taken on the more symbolic meaning of a day of rest and the end of Summer.

As each of us go out to rest and relax with our families this weekend, I thought it would be appropriate to send us off with a few words from our patriarch. No, not Lou Mongello, Walt Disney, “In order to make good in your chosen task, it is important to have someone you want to do it for. The greatest moments in life are not concerned with selfish achievements but rather with the things we do for the people we love and esteem, and whose respect we need.

28 August 2008

Lighting around

A while back Jessica, from If We Can Dream It…, took us on a tour of the World Showcase light poles. The lampposts presented not only show how the eye of the Imagineers hones in on every little detail, but, they also provide that out of sight, out of mind detail that truly ties the feeling of the area together. Two examples of this lamppost ambiance that I have been intrigue with for a while now are the Tree posts in the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland, and the interior lights of the Land Pavilion in Epcot.
The retro-future of Tomorrowland includes a lot of metal and concrete, but very little in the way of vegetation. That means shade trees would be at a premium. Unless of course you combine that knack for metalwork with a community need, which is precisely what these trees of Tomorrowland have done. And, rather than clutter up the streets with poles for various functions, the future-minded denizens of Tomorrowland combined manufactured shade with manufactured light. Now, that’s forward thinking!
Meanwhile, the Land Pavilion has found a way to enhance the main area of the pavilion by incorporating a theme from its marquee attraction, Soarin’. Whether these lampposts are gliders, a flock of birds, or just emulate the feeling of flight is a Rorschach Test. The fact remains that some thought of flying consciously or unconsciously enters the guests’ minds as they make their way through the pavilion in a very uplifting and encouraging manner.

The next time you are wandering the streets of Walt Disney World, it is probably worth your while to find out how exactly your steps are being lit.

27 August 2008

Unique look at how their films are created

The archway leading from Hollywood Blvd. to the Animation Courtyard offers some great insights into the world of filmmaking. Included among the reliefs of actors, directors, and landmarks are a few of Mickey’s closest friends.

26 August 2008

In the area

Yak and Yeti Local Food CafĂ© continues the fine tradition of advertisements that are displayed throughout Disney’s Animal Kingdom, as is evident from the wall bordering the exterior seating for Local Food. From these ads it is safe to assume that the people of Anandapur are aware of the logging troubles just up the Chakranadi River, aka Kali River Rapids, that residents enjoy fireworks, even though they are not used inside of Disney’s Animal Kingdom out of concern for the animals, and that even though the Yeti Palace Hotel hasn’t opened yet, it’s opening next season, it already has competition.

24 August 2008

D-I-Y: Fort Wilderness Privacy

We all love projects; gardening, cooking, scrapbooking, building, anything to pass the free time between work and trips to Walt Disney World. Today is the first Main Street Gazette D-I-Y. For the uninitiated, that usually stands for Do-It-Yourself, but that doesn’t quite have the pixie dust ring to it, so we’ll consider our D-I-Ys to be Disney-It-Yourself.

I thought we would start small with a door hanger. For this project you will need scissors, a copy size piece of cardstock, glue/paste/liquid cement, and an exacto knife (PARENTAL ASSISTANCE REQUIRED, call it a family project, if you will, as I hope that you will work as these projects together). As well, you’ll need a love of the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, because that is where our Privacy sign comes from.

Print the image below on a single sheet of regular copy paper.
Cut around the outside edges of the entire image.
Adhere with glue/etc. one half of the image to the edge of the piece of cardstock.
Fold image around to the other side of the cardstock and adhere with glue/etc.
After the glue/etc. has set cut around the outer edge of the door hanger.
With PARENTAL ASSISTANCE use the exacto knife to cut out the interior blank space (shaped like an upside down lightbulb).

There you have it, your own piece of Fort Wilderness for those times when you need to get away from it all and take a nap, need some peace and quiet for research, or just to look at occasionally as a friendly reminder of your next trip to Walt Disney World. I hope you enjoy this project as much as I enjoyed the project of putting the project together for you. Until next time, make some time to Disney-It-Yourself.

Kym Murphy: The Muck Stops Here

Kym Murphy was the Corporate Vice President of Environmental Policy from 1990 until 2006, when he retired. Murphy was responsible for many of the Environmentality policies and procedures that have become staples of the Walt Disney Company. In 1991, just a little over a year after becoming the head of the Environmental Affairs Office, Disney News was able to interview Murphy. The entire article from the Fall 1991 issue of the Disney News, authored by Anne K. Okey, is below.

In the past few years more and more emphasis has been put on the role of industry in protecting the Earth’s resources and atmosphere. In March 1990, The Walt Disney Company appointed Kym Murphy to the newly created position of Corporate Vice President of Environmental Policy, thereby committing the corporation to rigorous self-examination and strict adherence to evolving laws affecting waste disposal, emission controls, resource conservation, and other environmental concerns.

Kym Murphy spent much of his boyhood on the beaches of Southern California, body surfing and diving and beginning a lifelong love affair with the sea. “My first job,” he reports, “was collecting and selling soft-shell crabs for a penny each to local bait shops.” At 16 he left home to live and work in an animal hospital. He attended Los Angeles State College, earning his B.S. in Zoology in 1965. His goal then was “to land a job that had anything to do with critters.”

He became an aquarist at Sea World in San Diego in 1965, and held a number of management positions with that company, opening Sea World of Florida in 1972. In 1973 he was named Corporate Technical Director and Corporate Curator of Fishes, Sea World of San Diego, Ohio and Florida.

In 1974 he formed Wet Inc., an aquatic design consulting firm based in San Diego. The Walt Disney Company was among his varied clients. During that time he designed a 1,000,000-gallon underwater filming facility (aquarium) in Bermuda where Columbia Pictures filmed “The Deep.” In fact, this project led to the beginnings of the Living Seas concept. During 1976-77 he also functioned as Director of Operations for Marineland of the Pacific.

In 1978 Murphy officially joined The Walt Disney Company as Project Manager for The Living Seas and The Land pavilions at Epcot Center. In 1984 he was named Corporate Director of Marine Technology at Walt Disney World, concentrating on the operation of The Living Seas.

From 1987 until his newest appointment, Murphy held a succession of creative management positions at Walt Disney Imagineering. During this period he contributed to the design of Typhoon Lagoon, Stormalong Bay and DisneySea.

DISNEY NEWS spoke with Kym Murphy about his new responsibilities.

DN: Why did the Company create and Environmental Affairs Office?
KM: Well first, our Company has always been concerned with environmental issues. That came from Walt himself. When he was starting out in Florida, he brought in the most prestigious environmentalists of the time, including the heads of the Forestry Service and the Audubon Society, to monitor the development of Walt Disney World.

Back then, to be thinking about preserving wetlands was essentially unheard of, but it was one of Walt’s top priorities. He was determined to build the elements of Walt Disney World as part of the existing environment, not at its expense.

At that time, Walt Disney World was considered the hallmark of environmental planning; it was cited as exemplary.

I feel that we have continued to exhibit exemplary environmental ethics, even though we have had to clear some difficult hurdles during the past two years. Federal and state laws have become increasingly complex and challenging. Our people have definitely accepted these challenges enthusiastically and professionally.

Now to answer your question. Some time back, I suggested that we needed a “point person” to keep abreast of environmental issues. But I had thought of it as an Attractions-oriented position. Michael (Eisner, CEO) and Frank (Wells, COO) decided to make it a corporate position. They felt the time had come to address environmental issues from a corporate perspective.

DN: How do you go about organizing and environmental effort in a corporation as large and diverse as Disney?
KM: First of all, when I accepted this position, I discovered that we already had dozens of grassroots efforts underway, along with an amazingly dedicated cadre of individuals that were willing to spend that extra effort to expand our Company’s “Environmentality.” I call these people Disney’s Green Team. Consequently, I decided against creating a singular “enforcement agency.” Instead we’ve developed environmental affairs offices throughout our Company, made up for the most part of people within each specific business unit. Not just for technical applications, but human resources as well. As a result, we have scores of people directly involved and literally thousands of Cast Members directly involved.

We let these offices co-author programs to fit their needs. Each business unit has its own reason for being, its own traditions and personality, so in each case the environmental affairs departments are somewhat different. This gets a lot more people involved in a positive way. It’s a proactive approach.

DN: How have employees reacted to this new emphasis on environmental awareness?
KM: Although we’ve just begun many of our programs, the general attitude and enthusiasm has been fantastic. We give presentations throughout the company on various environmental issues and the turn-out is consistently high. Even when the subject matter may seem dry – like compliance-related paperwork for waste disposal – the people come out in droves. They genuinely want to learn how to take better care of our Company and their planet.

We’ve established a program called “Environmentality,” designed to encourage and recognize our employees for thinking and acting “environ-mentality” at home and on the job. The intention is to introduce or reinforce the idea of “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” into the everyday consciousness of our Cast Members. By committing to certain behaviors, employees are rewarded with items produced just for this program.

DN: What kinds of rewards do you offer?
KM: For example, when we kicked off this program last January, each company newsletter carried an environmental pledge. Employees completed the pledge, indicating what they would do to protect the environment – like turning off water while brushing their teeth, turning lights off, copying on two sides of the paper, ridesharing, etc. When the pledge was returned, the employee received a coffee mug with our Environmentality logo. We’ve given out more than 30,000 mugs. Participants in our Rideshare program – “Frequent Freeway Flyers” – can accumulate points similar to airline programs which in turn can be redeemed for merchandise at The Disney Stores. The bottom line here is wonderful merchandise and cleaner air.

Future programs will offer t-shirts, golf shirts and a canvas shopping bag.

DN: Why do you think it’s important for Disney to take extra measures to protect the environment?
KM: If you look at the stage we’ve created, you can see that Disney is thought of as much more than just another company. We exemplify what America is all about. Our Theme Parks are noted for cleanliness, friendliness and quality. We owe it to our public and our employees to maintain that same level of concern for environmental quality. Our Company is expected to be the leader.

DN: Many corporations are beginning to establish environmental affairs offices. How do you feel your position differs from others?
KM: Very few environmental affairs officers report directly to the COO and CEO. And that makes a he difference in getting things done. We are fortunate to have a senior management team that is so enthused and supportive of our environmental efforts. As I’m sure you know, Frank is environmentally dedicated, and Michael is equally enthusiastic about our programs.

We’ve been able to commit to not just manpower and suggestions, but dollars as well. We’ve invested in some very expensive equipment to expedite recycling and conservation efforts. We’re also spending a lot of time and money on our employee programs, and it’s paying dividends.

DN: What are some of the most notable changes your department has accomplished so far?
KM: Our recycling of solid waste has increased from a relatively small activity to a very significant one. We have tens of thousands of points of collection throughout our Company. Within each of our divisions we now have the means of collecting white paper, mixed paper, newspaper, aluminum, cardboard, glass, wood, plastic and other recyclable commodities. We are literally diverting millions of pounds from our waste stream for recycling. And we’ve started an experimental program of collecting and recycling Styrofoam; we already have a number of tables, benches, fences, and other items created from the recycled foam. These are second generation products that will last indefinitely. Also, our purchasing departments have made a huge impact by searching out products and services that are environmentally appropriate. In some cases we have actually driven the market, not only to the use of recycled materials, but package and product minimization.

The list of “notable changes” literally goes on and on.

DN: Are there any specific elements that set Disney’s efforts apart from other corporations?
KM: Because of the diversity of our organization we have resources at hand that are not available to other corporations. For example, at Walt Disney World we were able to create the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) which in turn enabled us to implement unique conservation programs and master planning. RCID also has one of the most sophisticated sewage treatment plants in the country; one of the few that involves composting.

The RCID Environmental Laboratory is one of the finest in the country. A staff of 30 scientists constantly monitors all of Walt Disney World’s significant environmental parameters, including air and water quality. They also work closely with state and federal agencies and the scientific community.

And with our film and television companies, we’ve started reviewing scripts in an effort to integrate environmental theming wherever possible and appropriate.

Our diversity gives us a unique opportunity to contribute in a lot of different arenas. My job is to see that we do our best to make the most of that opportunity.

23 August 2008

Lifetime journey

Today is the Main Street Gazette’s 1st birthday. Over the past few weeks I have come up with a myriad of ideas of how to celebrate. A State of the Disney Union, which would include all of my thoughts on the current condition of Walt Disney World, contests, an article revealing the source of the past year’s article titles, guest writers, a D-I-Y (Disney It Yourself), and even just a regular daily article which would allow the day to pass without notice, I’m not really one to want to draw attention to myself any way.

Over the past several days, as most of you who have been following my Twitter updates, my family has been going through a rather difficult experience, and it got me to thinking about what really matters. So, today, I’m going to talk about why Walt Disney World matters to me. Forgive me if I ramble or wax poetic, or if I find a way to do both at the same time.

Walt Disney World, in the scheme of life, seems insignificant. It is, after all, only a collection of fiberglass, boards, paint, nails, lights, and concrete. My family has traveled the world from Korea and France, from the mountains of the East to the deserts of the West, and untold passport stamps in between, and, yet, we always come back home to Walt Disney World. Why? Because Walt Disney World is so much more than the sum of its parts.

Some would call it corny, or roll their eyes, but it takes magic to turn a vast amount of building supplies into a seemingly inhabited world. Every corner is a part of the story, and every corner of the stories brings with it a memory, or series of memories. Not just for me and my crew, but for everyone who has ever seen Swiss Family Robinson or has dreamed of a future that never was. There is something for the scientist, child, literary critic, historian, zoologist, actor, foodie, and outdoors-person in each of us to enjoy. Walt Disney World pulls from every corner of the great big world out there and gathers it all together in one place that is accessible to the masses.

This worldview is evident not just in its architecture, but also in its accessibility, culture, and people, the people who work for Walt Disney World and the people who come to visit, or come home to, Walt Disney World. It is people who remember their last trip on one of Mike Fink’s Keelboats or recall the time that their Dad made them put on those awful Mickey Ears for a family photograph (for the record, I love the ears). People are at the heart of what makes Walt Disney World just as, I assume since you are reading the Main Street Gazette, Walt Disney World is at the heart of what makes you the person that you are.

Like Walt Disney World, we are all more than the sum of our parts. My history with Walt Disney World includes a first trip when I was under 1 year old with my Mom and Dad and a pup tent in Fort Wilderness (yes, you are correct in assuming I was almost basically raised there) to my aunt working in Walt Disney World security and having a car accident on her way to work, my memories run from my wife’s first visit to the last visit I had with my father before my wedding. Walt Disney World is as much a part of my family, even those who claim to disown it, as all of you whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting or talking to. Walt Disney World means so much to me because, to me, it means family. That crazy group of people that I love the most, the people who put up with the constant blathering about news, rumors, and the details that make people like myself stop our entire group so that I can take a picture.

Thank you for being a part of my family, and for putting up with my blatherings, for the past year. I hope to share many many more with you.

19 August 2008

Shoot him instead

The Frontierland Shootin’ (or Shooting, depending upon the source) Gallery opened with the gates of the Magic Kingdom in October of 1971. Over the park’s first decade the constant maintenance of the rifles, which fired metal shots, and the attraction’s targets, worn clean of paint from said metal shots, in addition to concerns over guest safety, caused WED Florida to consider alternatives. Planning began in 1982 to redesign the Frontierland Shootin’ Gallery using light sensors instead of the harmful pellets. One piece of the proposal presented to park management was an advertisement for the Hawken, a .54 caliber cap lock rifle produced by the Frontierland Arms Company.

When the Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade debuted on September 24, 1984, the Hawken’s place in the past of Frontierland was secured. After all, who could pass up a weapon which comes standard with a Authentic Sound Simulation?

15 August 2008

Myths and legends of an old world

With all the talk of Pleasure Island's past and future, I thought a glimpse into its history would be much appreciated. Below is the account of Pleasure Island given to Jeff Kurtti by the Imagineers. The report, along with more notes from Jeff Kurtti, can be found on pages 150 and 151 of Since the World Began.

In the late 19th century, an adventuresome Pittsburgh entrepreneur, Merriweather Adam Pleasure, moved to the island and founded a canvas manufacturing and sail fabricating industry. The Florida climate favored his business, and though the merchant sailing industry was in its twilight, pleasure yachting discovered his superior product and his success was made.

The earliest buildings on the island were a wood-burning power generating plant (collapsed and rebuilt in concrete in 1934), the textile mill where high-grade canvas duck was woven, the circular fabrication building where sail making was done, and the owner’s residence. During the First World War, the manufacture of military tents required several additions to the mill and fabrication buildings. After the war, the pleasure craft industry expanded and boathouses for yacht outfitting were added. Before the catastrophic decline of the St. John’s aquifer in 1928, yachting clientele were accommodated in a salubrious club. Pleasure commissioned the building after becoming acquainted with the work of the Messrs. Sir Edwin Lutyens, Charles MacIntosh and Eliel Saarinen during a visit to the Paris ateliers of the Ecole des Beaux Arts.

Demand for the outfitting of luxury watercraft ebbed during the depression, and although financially unscathed in the market crash of 1929, the founder of Pleasure Canvas and Sailmaking, Inc., left the business in the hands of his two sons and embarked on a late-in-life adventure to the far reaches of the earth. Aware of the westering circumnavigations of Irving Johnson and the youthful crews of his “Yankee Clipper,” Merriweather Pleasure commissioned the yacht ”Domino” (named for his then-favorite pastime), which brilliantly foresaw the awesome J-boat formula. With his daughter Merriam and her second husband, he embarked on a series of eastward ’round-the-world voyages. T hey returned from their many expeditions with a vast treasure of adventure and discovery. The trophies eventually overwhelmed Pleasure’s comfortable Bermuda-style house, and he built a warehouse to store and catalog them.
In 1937, Pleasure hit upon a novel advancement in amphibious aviation, and became consumed with the development of a secret device. He worked feverishly with a small staff of experts in a mysterious metal building he constructed just offshore in Lake Buena Vista.

The ”Domino” was presumably lost with Merriweather, Merriam, and all hands, having been reported pitchpoled in a howling summer storm while attempting a circumnavigation of Antarctica in December 1941.

With the outbreak of World War II, Henry and Stewart Pleasure’s sail and canvas business boomed, so much so that they added several large prefabricated steel buildings to house their expanded operations. The success continued after the war into the 1950s, sail making and chandlery being augmented by a flying boat service, until Stewart’s poor business decisions and Henry’s lavish lifestyle forced Pleasure Canvas and Sailmaking, Inc., into bankruptcy in 1955. As a note of finality, Hurricane Connie inflicted near-total destruction two weeks before the creditors’ sale, ripping the roof and siding off the 1937 amphibian building and leaving the island an unsaleable shambles.

Letters to the Editor - Everybody neat and pretty?

It isn’t everyday that the Gazette gets a letter, though we love when we do, it gives us a chance to stretch our people skills and our research muscles! Today we received this delightful email:

Good Morning,

I am trying to find out what brand of shampoo the Disney World resorts used before the H20. I noticed you posted an entry about the switch. I am hoping to find out which brand was in the bottles with the quote “Everybody neat and pretty? Then on with the show!

I would appreciate any information you have.

To be honest, I was kind of stumped, but the question had piqued my curiosity as well, so I started digging. The bottom of the shampoo and condition bottles, stamped with the name Hunter Amenities Int’l and a phone number, gave me a clue to dig with. The number and the name both led me back to, surprise surprise, Hunter Amenities International Ltd.

Hunter Amenities has been producing hotel and spa beauty products since 1980. They have created, or co-created, collections for Westin, Loews Hotels, Hyatt, Portico, and Revive among others. They use a wide variety of fragrances, ingredients, and unique packaging and molds to assist their clients in creating the perfect product to represent them.

So the “Everybody neat and pretty” brand was created solely for Disney by Hunter Amenities International until the switch to H20 Plus in 2006. Which means, unfortunately for those of us who seek to have a little bit of the resorts at home with us, that we cannot just run out to our local store and pick these bath items up. However, for those of you interested in the new Disney brand, a number of the products available at the resorts are also available online from H20 Plus.

I hope that keeps you all squeaky clean so you can get on with your show!

13 August 2008

Look alive

Life is a peculiar thing to justify, quantify, or explain. Life is, that’s about as far as we can define it without spiraling into metaphors and philosophical studies. Yet, for me, within Walt Disney World, it is the lack of life that drives the story of occupied lands.

This is a realization I came to in the least likely of spots, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror’s queue. The amount of detail available to soak in while you wait for your elevator, or while you recover from your brush with the Twilight Zone and make your way back to Sunset Blvd., is mind boggling. From luggage and abandoned desks to mail in boxes and a mahjong game that has been abruptly been cut short, life is missing here. That is expected because, after all, the Hollywood Tower Hotel is haunted. However, while standing in line I became conscious of the fact that this absence of life is found throughout Walt Disney World. The only difference is the story we are being told. The lack of people within the Hollywood Tower Hotel makes sense because they shouldn’t be there. But a forsaken raft on the shores of Tom Sawyer Island isn’t telling us the island is haunted it is telling us that, more than likely, there are some scoundrelly boys up to mischief on the island.

This rule the same for abandoned canoes that tell us the rivers are still in use around Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the painter who has left their work in progress near the France pavilion who will return shortly, the empty security booths that are likely due to confrontations with wannabe actors around Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the bits of broken jewelry embedded in the walkways of what is surely a bustling marketplace in Adventureland, and all the crates, oh the many crates, scattered all throughout Walt Disney World. The pots, pans, carpets, radios, set tables, bottles; everything is a sign of life. Life, on a strictly intellectual basis, can be defined by conversation, memory, and the people that are there around us. When looking for signs of life, conversely, it is the things left behind and the absence of people that tells us all the story we need to know.

11 August 2008

Hang around here all day

If you are, like myself, from the South, then you know that signs are everywhere and they can advertise for everything from gasoline and soda pop to fishing line or that much needed plumbing service. They can be painted on old barns and brick buildings, metal signs can be tacked or nailed onto the side of old gas stations, fishing lodges, or used for decoration just about anywhere. Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort is no stranger to this custom of Southern signage. Below are some of my favorites, including a few that sport some surprise guests.

10 August 2008

I lived in Marceline

Saturday, September 20th, Walt Disney’s boyhood town of Marceline, MO will be hosting its 10th annual Toonfest, a local celebration that includes exhibits, a Princess Tea Party, kettle corn and apple butter, the Yellow Creek Pirates, seminars and demonstrations by world-renowned illustrators, kettle corn and apple butter, a parade, silent auction, oh, and did I mention the kettle corn and apple butter? As well, the Walt Disney Hometown Museum will be open. This year’s speakers are Michael Jantze, Jan Eliot, Greg Evans, and Dave Coverly. Should you be in the area that weekend, I recommend stopping by and see the place where Walt spent several years of his childhood, and where he once humbly stated that, “I’m not a funny guy; I’m just a farm boy from Marceline that hides behind a duck and a mouse.”

09 August 2008

Bringing brighter days

I have been remiss in mentioning Contemplative by Design: Creating Quiet Spaces for Retreats, Workshops, Churches, and Personal Spaces, by Gerrie L. Grimsley and Jane J. Young. If you follow The Disney Obsession, you know that this is the book co-authored by Doc’s wife. While the ideas presented within the book obviously come from a heartfelt spiritual base, you do not have to be spiritual yourself to gleam wonderful insight from quiet spaces plans. As Doc could tell you, even though I have absolutely no space to build any type of garden in my current residence, I have an unabashed enthusiasm for designing and redesigning my own garden. When that garden finally arrives, you can bet I will have taken a page, or two or three, out of Gerrie’s book!

By way of bringing all of this back to Disney, Doc, in his ever present humility, never mentioned on his sight that he has two photo credits in the book. That’s right, he’s a big-time published photographer now! Oh, and I just happen to know that one of his two images just happens to be from somewhere in Walt Disney World. Perhaps it will appear in a Where in the World someday as well.

Oh, and Gerrie, thank you so much for the book, Aileen and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Be sure to visit

In the Spring of 1998 Disney released press kits introducing the world to, “A New Species of Theme Park.” The press kit boxes included a video, several slides (along with a Disney’s Animal Kingdom slide viewer), a built-in map complete with trivia questions and answers, and a pamphlet describing what Disney’s Animal Kingdom was and what it was about.

Looking through the booklet now, you can see how, like the animals the park represents, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has evolved; Journey into the Jungle Book is no longer, and Countdown to Extinction has long been extinct, at least in name anyway, and the Safari Village has become a homage to the original, albeit much smaller, Walt Disney World wildlife preserve, Discovery Island. Pouring over the guide a little deeper, an even larger piece of Disney’s Animal Kingdom is missing entirely. That piece is Asia, which the pamphlet gives no information on whatsoever, though it is mentioned as opening in 1999, along with the forthcoming attraction Tiger Rapids Run (or Tiger River Rapids Run), on the press kit’s map. Taken as a whole, the brochure is a great time capsule of what Disney’s Animal Kingdom had in store for all adventures when it roared open.