31 May 2009

Yeti footprints found in Everest region: US explorers

Inside the queue of Expedition Everest are a multitude of books, quotes, articles, and exhibits on the history and study of the yeti. All of the masks, prints, and displays have some basis in fact, such as an attack on a camp. Whether or not that attack was the handiwork of a yeti is all in the eye of the beholder. In 2007 Josh Gates, of the series ‘Destination Truth,’ and his crew went to Kathmandu in search of evidence of the yeti. The group was able to obtain three footprints, with the most complete of the three being donated to The Yeti Museum, otherwise known as Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s Expedition Everest, in April of 2008.

In December of 2007, however, fresh off of the discovery, articles began to appear worldwide. Two such articles, one from The Himalayan Times and the other from The Rising Nepal, are on display in the same case as Josh Gates’ yeti print. Below is the complete article from The Rising Nepal, entitled "Yeti footprints found in Everest region: US explorers." The article, written by Prabalta Rijal, was published on 1 December 2007.
Kathmandu, Nov. 30: A team of US explorers have claimed that they had traced fresh footprints of Yeti, a mysterious snowman believed to inhabit the Himalayan mountains.

'Destination Truth', an American television crew on Tuesday said that they discovered fresh Yeti footprints on the bank of the Manju river in Solukhumbu district, northeast of Kathmandu.

The nine-member television crew that is touring the world in search of unsolved mysteries and phenomena came to Nepal in search of an ancient creature which, according to Himalayan folklore, is not only known as the protector of the mountains but is also feared. The Yeti according to folklore is believed to live in the Himalayan regions of Nepal and throughout history there have been claims of its sightings.

Tul Bahadur Rai, representative of Equator Expedition Nepal, which is the liaison of the American crew, found the foot marks near the river banks of the Manju river which according to the crew is a clear sequence of a six-feet stride prints embedded in the banks of the river. We found it around 11pm during our investigations, it looked like it was freshly made. We found those prints not long after it was made," said Rai.

According to Josh Gates of 'Destination Truth', they started their investigation in accordance to the common folklore and started looking in places where the locals claimed it had been sighted.

To date its sightings have been in regions of the Himalayan regions of Nepal and Tibet which is not too high up in the glacier nor too down below where there are human settlements but in areas where there is a lot of vegetation cover," he said.

The crew said the footprints were found away from the usual trekking trail and half-an-hour away from the nearest village at an altitude of approximately 2,850 meters.

Brad Kulham, the show's executive producer, stated that this sighting was unique because they were able to document the events as they took place. We are extremely excited about this sighting because we were able to document each step of the finding from the initial sighting of the prints to the casting of the prints to safely bring it back," he said.

He further stated that the Yeti footprint is just over a foot long with a toe span of over an inch and this is the first time the findings have been catalogued this way.

The crew used infra-red cameras, night vision opticals and thermal scopes for the investigation to ensure the proper documentation of their finding and are hoping to air this finding as the first chronicle of their second season very soon.

30 May 2009

Incredible doings

Recently, while working to get ahead on articles for the Gazette, I opened up a discussion in my Facebook status for ideas readers would like to have more articles on (an initiative for input that I would like to continue in the future). The one, and only, response I received asked for an article on the history of Downtown Disney. And while I love Downtown Disney, its history, and its intricacies, I am not what I would consider an authority on the subject.

However, fictional histories are something I do have information on. Therefore, today we are going to take a gander into another piece of the Pleasure Island puzzle. This time the plaque near the entrance to the former Rock ‘n’ Roll Beach Club, which began life as the XZFR Rockin’ Rollerdrome. While the clubs of Pleasure Island officially closed on 27 September 2008, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Beach Club actually felt the sting first, as its dance floor went dark on 3 February 2008.

As for the structure’s previous life, it housed a wind tunnel for testing aircrafts’ flight abilities. What type of aircrafts? Here is the posted information given to the curious public:

Island founder and UFO enthusiast Merriweather Pleasurebuilt his experimental “X-Thing” here. Pleasure himself designed this super amphibious aircraft that could harness the power of the wind. The “X-Thing” flew only once – September 1, 1940 – with Pleasure himself at the controls. The testflight is shrouded in mystery, but upon landing Pleasure began broadcasts to outer space. Beamed from the roof of this building, the international Morse Code messages repeated, “W-E-L-C-O-M-E.”

Further information on the incredible doings at Pleasure Island from 1911 to the present day may be found inscribed on the quasi-historical plaques at all Island entrances.”

29 May 2009

Paint Fix

A tour through the Animation Gallery wouldn’t be complete without pausing for a few moments to take in the wall of paint animators have at their disposal. So you can create your own animated masterpiece, I have arranged for a few bottles to be sent to your desktop. Now get those creative juices and paints flowing!




Model sheet

Disney-Pixar’s Up opens today. While its opening may not be worldwide, the term worldwide is probably the best expression for this epic film. Guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios who take time to explore the Animation Gallery will discover a rotating exhibit that features information and concept work for a current or upcoming release from Disney.

Today, in honor of Up’s opening, the Gazette takes a glimpse into the showcase.

28 May 2009

Romantic vision of the early West

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge opened fifteen years ago, today, on 28 May 1994. The Pacific Northwest ambiance of this resort, based upon Yellowstone National Park’s Old Faithful Inn, begins with the surrounding foliage and animal prints along the sidewalk, and all of this can be found in the parking area before you even approach the front entrance, its cricket sounds, and the breathtaking main lobby. One look at the multiple fireplaces, viewing areas, geyser, totem poles, and the intriguing Silver Creek that “spills” from indoors to out before making its way to Silver Creek Springs (the main pool) and Bay Lake beyond would be enough to convince anyone that they have forever left the sweltering heat of central Florida.To celebrate Disney’s Wilderness Lodge’s first anniversary in 1995, as is often the case with Disney milestones, a medallion was created to commemorate the event and presented to Cast Members.

27 May 2009

Listen with your heart

Sound permeates just about everything within Walt Disney World. From sound effects, to narrations, the entire scores that compliment the various lands, resorts, and venues. While it is possible to talk about a variety of ways in which sound is used and the manner in which it heightens any given experience, I thought instead we would look at a few of my favorite pieces of Walt Disney World sound.

Song: Soarin’ – The score for the attraction Soarin’, or Soarin’ Over California (Depending upon which coast you are currently on), was written by the renowned composer Jerry Goldsmith. My fascination with this song goes back to before I had even had a chance to ride on Soarin’, when I heard the song on an official album. The rise and fall of the music coupled with the drama and heart that is felt over and over again, Soarin’ offers up enough can-do spirit in a few minutes that it is the perfect way to pick yourself up when you are down, start a morning off right, or just put you at peace with yourself. It is a miraculous piece of music, and one that will stay with me always.

Lyrics: There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow – Perhaps the spirit described above could also be used to illustrate the strengths of There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow as well. The longevity of this song and the idea that good music never goes out of style is proven out in this 1964 work of the legendary Sherman Brothers. With easy to remember lyrics, a catchy tune, and a tie to a classic attraction all make this a piece that will constantly be welcome in my music collection.

Area Audio Loop: Epcot’s Entrance Loop – This loop has changed a lot over the years, especially since the early EPCOT Center loop, but it is the one loop that can gear me up for a day in the parks more than any of the others. Perhaps some of my love for this loop comes from the fact that when my aunt used to get us into the parks, she would have us meet her on a bench near a Cast Member door to the left of the entrance to Epcot. It wouldn’t matter what park we were planning on visiting for the day, this was the spot where we had to meet her. More often than not, it is in that spot, early in the morning, when I feel like she is still with there with me, and the loop still keeps me company, just as it always has.

Immersive Sound Experience: Song of the Rainforest – To understand this one piece, you also have to understand the various other attractions that use this effect. Immersive sound has been used in Alien Encounter, later again with Stitch’s Great Escape, and the Sound Works area of Sounds Dangerous, among other attractions. The Song of the Rainforest booths, located in the Conservation Station at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, envelope you in complete darkness before whisking you away to splendors and dangers of the rainforest. The absolutely believable nature of this experience, coupled with the message and narration, make this a truly remarkable occurrence that can be appreciated time and time again.

Voice: Jack Wagner – If I am being truly honest, my favorite voice is probably that of Walt Disney when and where it can be found in the parks. Jack Wagner, however, was the original voice of the monorail, as well as an announcer for a plethora of other activities within Disneyland and Walt Disney World. The fact that jack Wagner’s spiels have been remembered, specifically those of the monorail, even though a handful of others have stepped up to the mic over the years, speaks to the unique nature and quality of his voice.

Sound: Walt Disney World Railroad Whistle – I believe I have mentioned this here before, but I can remember hearing this whistle early in the morning, just as most guests were waking up, when I was a child at the campgrounds of Fort Wilderness. To this day, I can hear that whistle in the background of a vacation planning DVD, a home recording, or through a phone and feel the warmth of Walt Disney World wash over me. It is the one sound that can bring me back all that is special, no matter where I am.

Sound has a lot of uses, and a lot of resonance, and these are just a few of the ways that the sounds of Walt Disney World affect us and remain with us. Sound permeates our emotions and our memories and can be recalled decades later, even after we may have thought we had forgotten lyrics or a recollection.

What are some of your favorite sounds found in Walt Disney World?

Inspired by the beauty and elegance

This year’s fragrance garden, France’s contribution to the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, offered more than mere perfume bottle topiaries. Through carefully constructed bed and container gardens, guests were shown the intricacies that go into crafting the perfect scent of a woman, or man. While visually alluring, the information presented throughout the pavilion in the form of plaques and larger displays increased not only the guests’ knowledge of individual plants, but also showcased what the combination of certain fragrances can achieve in creating and amplifying specific scents.A side note for all of the female readers of the Main Street Gazette: It has been reported that the scent of lavender is the number one aphrodisiac for men, so chose your next perfume with care.

26 May 2009

Wherever you dwell

For many years, enthusiasts of the Haunted Mansion, and its 999 happy haunts, were forced to look beyond Liberty Square for merchandise. Perhaps the most sought after piece for collectors was the Haunted Mansion Secret Panel Chest. After years of waiting, following gift shops being added to the conclusion of many attractions and becoming common place on new attractions, the Haunted Mansion finally received Madame Leota’s Cart.The old gypsy wagon, parked just beyond the gates of Gracey Manor, or Gastley Mansion (depending on your reference), merchandise is now available for guests seeking immediate gratification of the yearning for ghostly gifts. And yet, like many of the fantastic yet overlooked details of Walt Disney World, Madame Leota’s Cart offers an immediate return on the previous experience by bringing pieces of an attraction out into the “real” world.

In the case of Madame Leota’s Cart, items used during Leota’s séance have apparently either come from or made their way to the wagon:
Harpies and furies, old friends and new,
Blow on a horn so we’ll know that it’s you.

Wizards and witches, wherever you dwell,
Give us a hint by ringing a bell.

The next time you are looking for mysterious tomes or a paranormal pin for trading, be sure to barter with Madame Leota’s Cart. While there be sure to mind your manners as you never know whom or what may be listening to the music from regions beyond.

25 May 2009

We have indoor plumbing now

On my most recent trip to Walt Disney World I had the pleasure of dining at one of the newest, and most unique, offerings in Walt Disney World’s dining repertoire, Sanaa. While the food is truly beyond description, a few of my dining partners, Glenn Whelan and Marissa Gordon, tried our best to do just that as we sat down to the table with Bryan Ripper on All About the Mouse this past weekend. The fun flows freely whenever I have the chance to join Bryan and Jonathan, but with the more the merrier mentality, this conversation was truly a grand experience. And one I hope that everyone will check out this week, as well as every week.During the course of the conversation, my zeal for photographing the restrooms of Walt Disney World was once again brought to the forefront. The Main Street Gazette has previously discussed how the fixtures and faucets, wall and floor tiles, signage, handles, and miniscule details all create a sense of place for restrooms inside of Walt Disney World. The sense of place is a symbiotic relationship between the restrooms themselves and the land, restaurant, or attraction to which they are tied. The restroom use the existing area’s motif to create its distinctive style and, by doing so, lend credibility to the locale.Now, I understand that there are quite a few people who would find taking pictures in and around restrooms questionable, even in Walt Disney World. As a general rule, especially with my work with preschoolers, I would concur, which is why when documenting such areas I am mindful of my surroundings. I thought it would be prudent to provide the etiquette of photographing bathrooms, as well as a few pointers, in case any of the readers wished to create their own personal restroom collection.
•First and foremost, never take a photograph in a restroom that has people in it. It does not matter if they are in the stalls and cannot be seen. A camera’s flash while someone is using the facilities is obscene and an invasion of privacy.•While photographing exteriors, such as signs or the restroom’s structure, do not impede other guests who are actually attempting to use the restroom for its intended purpose.•Many restrooms that have been built recently, and some that have been retrofitted, include family facilities with doors that lock. For those not wishing to intrude on another guest’s experience, these offer a convenient and out of the way manner in which to document tile patterns.•Time is not on your side. These are not shots to take your time with and try to frame up. Have a camera ready, take the picture, and hope for the best. If the shot is blurry, you can always come back later.•Parades, fireworks, early mornings, and when shows are in progress are some of the best times to take photographs of nearby restrooms as they are likely to be uninhabited until after the show has let out.

The public press to call attention to this Order

Thank you to the men and women of our armed forces who have, through their strengths and sacrifices, protected and defended us all.
General Orders No. 11

I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but Posts and comrades will, in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, Comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers sailors and marines, who united to suppress the late rebellion." What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead? We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security, is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull and other hinds slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains, and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledge to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon the Nation's gratitude—the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.

II. It is the purpose of the Commander in Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to call attention to this Order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

III. Department commanders will use every effort to make this Order effective.

24 May 2009

Orange Groves to Theme Park

Though I have only been to Disneyland once and Walt Disney World will always be where my heart belongs, Disneyland has a quality to it, as the first park, which should be revered. The storied history of Disneyland continues to fascinate me, and I plot out the next trip I will make to the first park, Walt’s park, as a sort of pilgrimage.

So it was with awe that I read and reread this week’s Back Issue article, Orange Groves to Theme Park, which features an interview with Ron Dominguez. Dominguez started out his career with Disney as a ticket taker for Disneyland in 1955 before becoming the vice president of Disneyland and the vice president, Walt Disney Attractions, West Coast. In what can only be considered the truth is stranger than fiction, he also happened to have lived with his family on ten acres that were purchased by Walt Disney for Disneyland.

Orange Groves to Theme Park was originally printed in the Spring 1990 Disney News.

Ron Dominguez well remembers the orange groves of Anaheim that were destined to become home to a brand new concept in family entertainment – Disneyland. He grew up there. The Dominguez family owned and lived on 10 acres of property that were eventually purchased for the revolutionary project. Today, Ron Dominguez is Executive Vice President of the original Theme Park.

“Our house was situated right about where the entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean and Café Orleans are today,” he says. “We were actually the last people to leave the property. Our new house wasn’t quite ready, so we didn’t move until August of 1954.” Construction of the new Park had begun in July.

Putting together the acreage needed to house the new entertainment center wasn’t as easy as you’d think.

“Prior to 1955, as far back as ’51 or ’52,” recalls Dominguez, “a group of real estate people approached the land owners and tried to obtain a block of land. But they couldn’t make it work. Later, two independent brokers from Anaheim were approached by Disney to try. Each took the people he knew, people they could deal with, and explained the project and benefits. This way they were able to put the package together.”

The Dominguez property was settled originally in the mid-1890s by Wyran Knowlton, Dominguez’ maternal grandfather, who emigrated from Perry, Iowa. Knowlton first planted a walnut grove, then, in 1910 changed the walnuts for oranges. He died in 1912. In 1920, Knowlton’s daughter, Laura, married Paul Dominguez, who was part of the Bernardo Yorba clan which held enormous land grants in Southern California.

The couple set up housekeeping at the Anaheim orange grove and in 1925 built the house eventually purchased by Disney. Dominguez was born while the family was living in that house in 1935.

“My mother had a lot of sentiment about selling the property to Disney,” Dominguez recalls. “She had gone through some very tough times there getting the orange grove to pay off after her father died. Also, ‘amusement parks’ had a bad connotation in those days, and people didn’t know what to expect. But Disney invited everyone to a presentation up at the Studio, and after that everyone felt good about it –about what was coming to Anaheim.”

Many of the houses situated on the property were put to use rather than being torn down or moved. The Dominguez and another home were put together to form the first Disneyland Administration Building. A third home was moved over to West Street to become the Casting building. A house on The Disneyland Hotel site was moved behind the Park for use by the Landscapers. Although these homes have now been replaced by newer, more functional buildings, one house still remains. Originally located where the Toll Entrance now stands, it t0o was moved behind Park where it still stands next to the Circle “D” Corral.

At the time the property was sold, Ron Dominguez was a 20-year-old student at the University of Arizona. When Disneyland opened the following year, he applied for a summer job. “I was a Ticket Receptionist at the Main Gate for two weeks,” he says, “then I was transferred to the Trains. After the summer, my boss (‘Doc’ Lammon) said to me, ‘You ought to stick around. This place is here to stay. You should get in on the ground floor.’ So I decided to stay, and I’ve never regretted it.”

23 May 2009

Proverbs are like butterflies

Proverbs are like butterflies, some are caught, some fly away. –Ghana

Proverbs, or words of wisdom, have been a part of our oral tradition dating back to the beginning of spoken word. A proverb presents a universal truth in a compact succinct manner which can be shared generation-to-generation and even language-to-language. The proverb above is the first maxim most guests will come across as they enter the Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village, and it sets the stage for not only the other proverbs scattered around the resort, but also for the beautifully crafted butterfly ornamentation that can be found near the other proverbs of Kidani Village, drawing your attention to the words and stories presented throughout the area.

Though this sampling is not a complete catalog of the numerous proverbs found around Kidani Village, they include some outstanding insights into the spirit of what it is to be human, the histories of people throughout Africa, as well as hint into the nature of the guests’ current surroundings, such as the ‘pot that boils’ proverb along the entrance to Sanaa.