31 July 2009

Sewing Bee

Sometimes silence can be a powerful weapon, of course so can a sharply pointed stinger at the end of an agitated bee. In this case, the silence of a character comes through loud and clear with his infernal buzzing and inclination to stinging. While given a variety of different names, Buzz-Buzz, Spike, Hector and Claudius, his heart and soul never wavered throughout his various performances.

Every character in the Disney catalogue had their own unique traits that made them immediately identifiable to audiences. The minor differences, including the aliases, can easily be dismissed as the handiwork of the various artists and animators who brought Buzz-Buzz to life. What cannot be dismissed is the constant thorn this little bee was in Donald Duck’s side. Between 1949 and 1952 Buzz-Buzz terrorized Donald in no less than six cartoons and, in a singular incident, Pluto too.

While the typical retributive sting in the bum, among other locations, could be felt in five of the Donald shorts and Pluto’s solo appearance (Inferior Decorator, Bubble Bee [Pluto], Honey Harvester, Slide, Donald Slide, Bee at the Beach, and Bee on Guard), Buzz-Buzz and Donald’s last appearance together threw the formula right out the window. In Let’s Stick Together the pair have, apparently, put aside their differences in order to muse over some of their previous pickles and fonder memories.

Today, Buzz-Buzz keeps as busy as a bee can be with his work inside of the Magic Kingdom. Tucked away in the Judge’s Tent of Mickey’s Toontown Fair are small friend offers a small service, hat stitching. Buzz-Buzz can be found perched upon the sign for the Blue Ribbon Sewing Bee Hat Stitching station. Though it appears he has slimmed down since the 1940s and 1950s, perhaps he has begun to lay off the honey or, then again, maybe we have simply been taken in by the handiwork of the wonderful Disney artists again, there is no doubt that our friend Buzz-Buzz is still larger than life, even if he can’t say a single word.

30 July 2009

The Walt Disney Family Museum - Part III

The Walt Disney Family Museum has been gracious enough to send many of us in the Disney online community preview galleries week after week to entice and excite every Disney fan the world over. While the images and information below may be repeated on other sites, if they are willing to go the extra mile (especially Communications Coordinator Andrea Wang) to include all of us, I am willing to go the extra mile and make sure everyone is getting a glimpse at what the exhibits will have to offer.

In addition to these galleries, the Walt Disney Family Museum has also launched its own website and a Facebook blog. Be sure to check both of these items out, as well as their Twitter, to make sure you aren’t missing out some incredible pieces of history!
Galleries 3 New Horizons: The Emergence of the Walt Disney Studio (1928 to 1940)The success of Mickey Mouse let Walt Disney expand the newly renamed Walt Disney Studios and improve the quality of Studio animations, so he embarked on a series of ambitious projects, including the “Silly Symphonies,” one-reel shorts that let him experiment with images, music, and story lines. In the following years, the Studio created the first Technicolor cartoons, introduced a multiplane camera to create the illusion of depth in animated films, and developed distinctive styles of movement and personality in their characters. Also in this period, Walt and Lillian’s family grew to include daughters Diane and Sharon.The continuing success of Walt’s cartoons led to a revolution in the art and technology of animation. Vintage artifacts, animation art, character merchandise, and family photos chronicle the creative explosion of the 1930s, Walt’s sudden world fame, and Diane and Sharon.

A magical, ever-turning mobile

When it’s a small world opened at the 1964 World’s Fair perhaps the single greatest incentive for venturing over to the Pepsi Cola/UNICEF pavilion was to catch a glimpse of the120 foot tall Tower of the Four Winds. The kinetic structure, built by the Kelite Corporation, was the creation of Imagineer Rolly Crump. In the photograph below, from the UCLA Library, the Tower of the Four Winds is being constructed in front of a Kelite Corporation building.While the structure no longer exists in the same grand fashion it once did, it has not been forgotten. Tucked away near the elevators on the Contemporary Resort’s Grand Canyon Concourse is a model that has been built to represent the original Tower of the Four Winds mobile. It just goes to show that greatness never truly dies, it only finds a new form. An ever-turning form as the case may be.

29 July 2009

A Fond Farewell

Eric Hoffman, as many of you know, as been the man behind the wonderful design of the Main Street Gazette. I’m good with words and ideas, but Eric has made my dreams of what the Gazette should look like into a stunning reality. As I could never possibly repay him for what he has done for me, the only thing I can do is tell you that you should check out his work over at Netmongrel.

Like many of us, Eric has a taste for Walt Disney World, and he shares a family treasure with us today in the words and pictures of Spoodles.

A Fond Farewell
By Eric Hoffman

One thing that any long-time fan of Disney has to come to terms with is change. In a land where imagination rules it is inevitable that rides, attractions, and restaurants will eventually be “re-imagined” over time. Walt Disney himself said it best: "Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world." Walt Disney World has also been faithful to Walt's vision of continual change.

It was with these words of Walt's in my mind and a somewhat heavy heart that our family dined at Spoodles in Walt Disney World's Boardwalk resort during our most recent visit. It was announced that come August of this year Spoodles would close its doors, re-opening as Kouzzina and be run by celebrity chef Cat Cora. This new restaurant will no doubt be great and live up to the reputation and expectations of Disney fans. Our family, however, will really miss Spoodles. It had become our family favorite dining spot serving the flavors and fragrances of the Mediterranean that we found so appealing. It also happens to be at Disney's Boardwalk which also is a truly favorite spot for us at Walt Disney World. We were fortunate enough to have dined there 3 times in the last year.

After hearing about the closure, and with no return trip on the books until after the planned change, we emailed Spoodles requesting the recipe for the Mediterranean Dips appetizer, one of the dishes we loved so much. The chef emailed us back and not only sent the recipe for the dips but graciously sent the recipe for the olive tapenade, a lusty flavored spread served with crusty bread. Jackpot! Now we could have a little piece of Spoodles right at home. Needless to say, the ingredients were purchased, and the whole family put to work on our nostalgic culinary adventure as soon as possible. It was so delicious and so much like we remembered that it could have just about been the real thing. We put on some Disney music in the background and ate our dips in bliss.

When a surprise opportunity to swing through Orlando on the way to a beach vacation presented itself recently, we jumped at the chance to have a last meal at Spoodles. This was an unanticipated pleasure, and we had the reservation made with lightening speed. This visit would serve as a farewell breakfast knowing full well it would truly be our last chance to enjoy “our place”.

Suffice it to say the food met our expectations, and flavorful, unique dishes such as their vegetable fritatta, and the Italian breakfast were savored as though it was our last meal on earth! My plate was cleaned with more than my usual enthusiasm not willing to leave a single crumb behind.

While waiting for our table to be prepared, we talked with the hostess about the upcoming changes and our fondness for Spoodles. She surprised us later with some souvenir menus and Spoodles stickers for the kids before we left. What a nice touch.

We walked out soothed by the soft early morning sounds of the Boardwalk Resort area and looked forward to our next trip in January when we would be able to try Kouzzina for the first time. We will try our best to judge it with all the impartiality we can muster.

Thanks for the memories, Spoodles!

28 July 2009

The story of dessert

As was mentioned yesterday here on the Gazette, my good friend Elizabeth Caran has co-created her own site, Take the Monorail. She has previously written articles both here at the Main Street Gazette and at Imaginerding. Today she takes us through a special evening at Victoria & Albert’s. Coincidentally, her co-conspirator at Take the Monorail, April Baker provided the photographs of Victoria & Albert's for this article.

The story of dessert
By Elizabeth Caran

As far as special occassions go, Walt Disney World offers all sorts of choices. This year's marketing theme touts how fabulous the parks are for celebrating any event of your choice in any number of styles from low-key to high-brow. Arguably, the most high-brow of all (outside of Cinderella's Suite in the castle) is the adult-only four-diamond restaurant tucked up inside Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Although the waiters and waitresses no longer wear the ambiguous "Victoria" and "Albert" name tags, they still carry on as butler and maid; your personal guides through an exquisite meal and extremely formal experience.

Dinner at Victoria and Albert's carries a heavy pricetag, so after years of traveling to the World, sometimes separately and sometimes together, my husband and I along with two other couples decided it was high time we tried this high-end experience. For some background, the three women in these couples (Alice, Karen, and myself) were sorority sisters in college. Alice met her husband Derek when we were Freshmen and they were both pre-med students. I am blamed for introducing Karen and Jeff soon after that in the classic, "My friend is in town, so can you bring a friend for him on our date tonight?" scenario. We've been in each others' weddings. We've held each others' newborns. What I'm trying to say here is... we go way back.

So when we talked about when to go on our bi-annual trip to Disney together, we chose to go in early May, coinciding with my daughter's third birthday and Karen and Jeff's 11th wedding anniversary. With childcare secured and a Disney Dining Experience card in hand for a nice 20% discount, we made our reservations--failing at our attempts for the Chef's Table, but happily "settling" for the dining room.

The evening of the event, we got all dressed up and drove from our offsite timeshare to the Polynesian, where Alice and Derek were staying. From there, we took the monorail over and paraded in. Victoria and Albert's is set off to the side of the entrance to Citricos, so we sort of joined in the line of people checking in there. The doors to our restaurant were closed, so we assumed the hostess at Citricos would help us. Instead, the doors opened just enough for a maitre-d' to come briskly out, pick us out of the line, inquire if we were "The Smith Party" and escort us in. No, we were not wearing nametags. But we might have been the only party of six in there for the first seating. I'm not sure. It was very special and cool, and just a little bit creepy.

The restaurant is elegant, the service is exceptional, and the food is really really REALLY good. I'm a bit of an amateur foodie, and I was impressed with every single bite I put in my mouth. But that's not what this article is all about. Instead, I'd like to share with you the story of dessert.Like everywhere on property, cast members at Victoria and Albert's will go out of their way to make your evening extra special, especially if you have a cause to celebrate. For Karen and Jeff, it was their 11th wedding anniversary, and the waiter made it clear he knew that we were there to celebrate the occassion.

So at the end of the meal, our waiter came to the table and presented Karen with a "special dessert" for their anniversary. With a flourish, he set a covered silver platter in front of her and he whisked the top away, revealing a beautiful bed of rose petals. We all oohed and leaned in to get a closer look at this fantabulous dessert that was looking more and more like maybe she was supposed to eat the rose petals. In what seemed like a minute, but was probably more like two seconds, the waiter muttered something about "this isn't right," covered the dish and gracefully issued forth apology after apology as he headed back to the kitchen.

We looked at Karen...

She shrugged...

We resumed our conversation.

He returned with the same platter, and moved in for attempt number two. This time, sitting amidst the clearly non-edible rose petals was a beautiful emerald wrap for Karen's wedding set. Suddenly, the ploy became clear. I was impressed with how well Jeff kept his cool when the waiter brought out the empty platter. He admitted later to mentally freaking out thinking they had lost the ring in the kitchen.In reality, the error actually kind of made the whole thing even more romantic. I guess the bait and switch threw us all for a loop. But any romantic atmosphere was sufficiently stifled when Karen reminded us all that 1) they've been married 11 years and 2) she manages the household when she looked at him, tears in her eyes, and gently demanded, "So which credit card did you use for this?!"

Ah... l'amour!

27 July 2009

We swim together

As I am prone to saying, the best memories of a trip to Walt Disney World never come from getting on Soarin’ three times in one hour or the lights coming on while you’re sitting in your Time Rover just before the Carnotaurus dives headlong at you. No, the most memorable moments come from quiet corners of the parks, usually a good meal is also involved, when you are surrounded by good friends.

Good friends are hard to come by, and great friends are even more rare, so today I wanted to take a few minutes to look at some new endeavors of some of the Gazette’s friends. I hope you will take some time to check each of them out.

Glenn Whelan, known to some as Doc Terminus, has for a number of years taken up residence in Passamaquoddy. Recently, however, he has taken to the film industry and launched The Pretty Good Movie Ride. The site features three of the compilation endings to The Great Movie Ride, where all the stars shine brightly. Glenn has painstakingly recreated the original, ten year, and twenty year endings, as well as crafted his own version of the ending. In addition to these monumental achievements, he also showcases the The Great Movie Ride’s preshow trailer and The Magic of Disney Animation film montage.

Tony Caggiano has been an inspiration to many with the Disney community. He has inspired us to dig deeper into the history of Walt Disney World and deeper into our photo albums for pictures of some of our first visits to Florida. With the wealth of information and history stored within Tony’s noggin and treasure chests, it is no wonder, and about time, that he has finally created a place where he can release his own thoughts and takes on the world as he knows it. Look for his tremendous collection of art and artifacts, history and photography, at THE W.E.D. PAGE.

J. Jeff Kober has been a fixture amongst the Disney writing community for a while now, both at MousePlanet and on his own site Disney at Work. Recently he, along with his company Performance Journeys, released his first app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Disney at Work: Magic Kingdom walks you through the parks focusing on the lessons of customer service, leadership, innovation, and teamwork. The application is fantastic for strengthening your own business, but is also perfect if you are simply looking for some insight into the culture and trade tricks of Disney.

After much trial and tribulation, Elizabeth Caran and April Baker, both well-known amongst in the Disney circles, have finally launched their own site. Take the Monorail is going to offer practical advice for every Walt Disney World touring situation with families. I also suspect, knowing these two as I do, that they will have some hilarious stories and wonderful content, including articles on photography and craft projects, along the way. As a side note, look for Elizabeth as a guest columnist here on the Gazette tomorrow.

I love the success I have had with the Main Street Gazette, from the sparks of creativity it has given me to the feeling of accomplishment it has instilled in me. Mostly, however, I treasure the new and long-lasting friendships it has brought to me. As any good friend will tell you, you want to see your friends succeed, and I hope each of the friends I talked about above, each with their own unique and tremendous talents, have success and I hope that each of you are a part of it.

26 July 2009

“Life & Health” at Conceptual State

Sometimes, when it comes to the attractions and pavilions at Walt Disney World, a good idea only needs to be tweaked to become a fantastic experience. Wonders of Life, which opened in October of 1989, started its life as the Life & Health pavilion. Today’s Back Issue article, “Life & Health” at Conceptual State, was originally published in the December 17, 1982 issue of the WED/MAPO Imaginews.
‘Life and Health,’ a Future World themed attraction for EPCOT Center, Phase II has been conceptualized with some preliminary work completed. No opening date has been set, but ‘Life & Health’ is slated to be included in EPCOT Center because its theme is so important to the overall EPCOT Center message; that there is hope for tomorrow.

‘Life & Health’ at this stage of design will include a dark ride and three theater shows.

The dark ride will be titled ‘The Incredible Journey Within,’ a thrilling ride in which guests will be reduced in size to travel in an ultrasonic probe vehicle through the human body. Inside, they will see how our body ‘machines’ operate.

Next door are three theaters. In ‘The Joy of Life’ theater, guests will view a film presentation that focuses on the beauty and wonder of the life cycle, using a theme that it’s great to be alive at any age.

‘The Head Trip’ theater will be highlighted by a show featuring three ‘Audio-Animatronics’ characters; Emotion, Intellect and Nervous System, who will take guests on a tour of the human brain, humorously explaining the date handling and internal capabilities within all of us.

The ‘Good Health Habits’ show will star three mechanical people. The show is a three act musical table performed by Disney ‘Audio-Animatronics’ characters in the form of a mechanical analogy.

‘Life and Health’ will feature a variety of entertaining shows and experiences themed to the wonder and care of the incredible human ‘machine.’ Guests will learn that good health is based…more than anything else…on their own habits and behavior.

25 July 2009

The Art of Henna

Today is the wedding of my cousin, probably the closest cousin I have in my family. In honor of her wedding, to a wonderful friend of mine, I thought we would step inside the Gallery of Art and History in the Morocco pavilion of Epcot.Currently the exhibit, entitled Moroccan Style: the Art of Personal Adornment, features clothing, jewelry, and weaponry. One case of the exhibit features the tools and patterns of Henna. A small plaque, labeled “The Art of Henna,” in the display explains:
“These elaborate temporary ‘tatoos’ are created using a dye produced from the crushed leaves of the henna plant. Henna tattoos play an important role in weddings. The women of the wedding party gather on the evening before the ceremony for ‘The Night of Henna.’ Older women paint the hands and feet of the bride and her party while they share wisdom about married life. According to tradition, the new bride must do no work until the tattoos have completely faded.”
While my cousin may not have had “The Night of Henna,” I know she has been offered more than her fair share of words of wisdom. I hope she has a wonderful wedding day, and that her future is as bright as any star in the sky.

24 July 2009

We make scaring good for you

Monsters Inc. wants to keep its workforce healthy, just as any employer would. One way to help a staff to a healthier lifestyle is to inform them of potential hazards and how to avoid injury. This sign is posted in both the Monsters Inc. Meet area of Disney’s Hollywood Studio and in the queue of the Magic Kingdom’s Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. The information on Repetitive Scare Injury is provided by the Monster Ergonomics Institute (MEI) and explains the effects of long-term scaring and tips to avoid RSI. Here’s what the poster has to offer:
It is important to remember proper Ergonomics when scaring. Permanent injury can often result when basic RSI guidelines are not followed. Below are the common indications of Repetitive Scare Injury. If you are experiencing any RSI warning signs, consult your local Monster Ergonomics Representative for advice.

1. Permanent Scowl – Also known as the day grimace, permanent scowl can result from over-taxed facial muscles during repetitive scare sessions. To avoid facial strain, put on a happy face between scares.
2. Hunched Back – Hunch Back is symptomatic from stooping through children’s doors and leaning over children’s beds. Other complications car arise from this condition, including muscle spasms, achey neck, poor posture and back humps. While humps can improve ones’ physical appearance, the hunch back can make some of the most mundane activities difficult. The best preventative measure is back, neck and arm stretching.
3. Horn & Claw Chafing – Low ceilings, hardwood floors, unforeseen obstacles are just a few of the hazards that can chafe horns and claws. When not treated, chafing leads to chipping, and chipping can lead to horn and claw loss. Proper polishing and manicure is the best way to preserve your best assets.
4. Hoarse Voice – Scaring day in and day out places an inordinate demand on any monster. The greatest demand falls on the voice, and as any scarer knows, no scream–no scare. To keep your voice in its top form, gargle warm water between scares, and balance your range with softer, high-pitch vocal exercises.

Basic RSI Guidelines:

1. Stoop, Stand, and Stretch
2. For every mean face, make a happy face
3. A gargle a day keeps the hoarsies away
4. Clean horns make healthy horns
5. Sing after you scream
6. Avoid unnecessary exposure to kids
7. Know your layout–don’t squint in the dark
8. Practice deep bellowing exercises
9. Stretch your wings
10. Exercise your eyes–the put them back
11. Flex your tentacles–don’t keep them curled
12. Wash your claws after every shift

23 July 2009

The Walt Disney Family Museum - Part II

The Walt Disney Family Museum has just released some more information about their soon-to-be-open exhibts. Here are the details and a few sneak peeks! Am I the only one blown away by the quality and quantity of family history guests are going to be able to take in? Enjoy!
Gallery 2 - Hollywood (1923-1928)Walt arrived in California in 1923 hoping to find work as a director. But when he received a contract for his own work, he launched Disney Bros. Studio with his brother Roy. By the end of 1924, Walt was focusing on story development and directing and was no longer working as an animator. After several business setbacks, Disney created Mickey Mouse, which established Disney Bros. Studio as the leading animation studio in the country. With the third Mickey Mouse film, Steamboat Willie, Walt joined the vanguard of the talking-picture revolution by creating an animated film with synchronized sound. Both Walt and Roy Disney married during this period, Walt to Lillian Bounds, a studio inker.Original artwork, including the earliest known drawings of Mickey Mouse, will illustrate Disney’s sensational success with his character. Other exhibit highlights include business correspondence between Walt and Roy, the move to the new Hyperion Studios, where Disney created four of its great animation features, and Walt’s meeting with and marriage to Lillian Bounds.

Lots of fun and laughter

Within the first week of meeting my wife, I knew I had something special on my hands. At that point, I decided that I should try to push the envelope and see how far we could go, and so I suggested we take a trip down to Walt Disney World. It sounded like a good idea to her, we would visit some family in the Tampa area and then head over to Walt Disney World and spend several days visiting the parks. Free Dining had been offered and we booked ourselves into Port Orleans: French Quarter towards the end of August in 2005. By the time the trip arrived we had been dating for six months and, as it turns out, we had a fantastic trip and found out that we travel extremely well together. And the rest, as they say, is history.

The point of the introduction is that if you are a young couple, young in terms of your relationship not your age, I highly recommend a trip to Walt Disney World, if only to see how well you can travel and compromise together. Any trip can put a strain on a relationship, a trip to Walt Disney World will test just how far you can push one another and, if the pairing is right, strengthen the bonds between you.

Walt Disney World is, however, first and foremost about fun. While on a trip you should be relaxing, enjoying the experiences as they present themselves, and doing the absolute silliest thing you can think of. Those are the memories that last and last years after a trip has ended.

Many families love to take pictures of themselves or their children in a sombrero in Epcot’s Mexico pavilion, but what about the other ten pavilions of World Showcase. On that first trip my future wife and I set out to take a memorable picture in each of the pavilions. Some are sillier than others, usually those are the ones that I am in, but the point was to have fun and explore the pavilions rather than offer them a glance and pass on by. My wife was the queen of finding great backdrops and I was the king of props and silly faces.

Who says, just because you are an adult, that you have to grow up?

22 July 2009

I walked with you once upon a dream

Disneyland Paris has La Tanière du Dragon and Disneyland has the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough situated within their respective castles. While I would not diminish the experiences Cinderella Castle offers, the Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boutique and Cinderella’s Royal Table, what wouldn’t any Disney enthusiast give for a real walk-through attraction in the heart of Cinderella Castle?

While they may not be the thrill rides with the latest in coaster technology, the effects, including the shadow of Maleficent at Disneyland and an Audio-Animatronics dragon at Disneyland Paris, are enough to thrill even the stodgiest of guests. These attractions evoke emotional responses and present to guests the true-life adventures of what they have always believed living in a castle would be like. The same feelings are already present n the forms of flying over Never Never Land and London, soaring on the back of Dumbo, and bouncing alongside Tigger, but Cinderella Castle is the heart and soul of the Magic Kingdom and an attraction based in its corridors could only intensify the magic that is already felt in its presence.

What kind of walk-through attraction would I like to see inside Cinderella Castle? Here are a few of my own blue sky thoughts:
¤A Cinderella walkthrough, complete with dioramas, similar to the Sleeping Beauty Walkthrough.

¤A dungeon featuring the cells, fully adorned and decorated, of classic Disney Villains, such as Captain Hook, Maleficent, the weasels, the Queen of Hearts, and the Evil Queen.

¤A labyrinth filled with optical illusions, similar to the maze found in Cinderella Castle in Kingdom Keepers.

¤A Fantasia/Fantasia 2000 walkthrough.

¤A look at the homes of the fairies like the Blue Fairy, Fairy Godmother, and Flora, Fauna, and Merrryweather.

These are just a few of the ideas that I’ve had for what would make a spectacular Cinderella Castle attraction, but I know that mine are not the only dreams. What kind of wishes would you make in the fountain for the Magic Kingdom’s castle?

21 July 2009

Spare our bats

Situated along the winding route of the Maharajah Jungle Trek is the Anandapur Community Hall, nestled against the Bat Cliffs. Inside, like most community centers are bulletin boards with newspaper clippings, photographs, upcoming movie posters, and community advisories. As with many of the posters, signs, and artwork within Disney’s Animal Kingdom, these posters tell a story. This particular story is about the local bat population, the good they do for the area, and what people can do to aid the bats.The first poster in the Community Hall alerts hunters that the bats are needed to help grow and fertilize the farmers’ crops. The artwork features a non-threatening depiction of a bat to emphasize that these bats are not a threat and should be left in peace. The second poster discusses not only how the bats work as pest control, but ways in which the village can create an environment in which the bats could thrive. Ideas listed include building a bat house, preserve the forest, and not using pesticides.Within the space between the Bat Cliffs and the Community Hall is an area filled with prayer flags, large amounts of vegetation, ornate wood and stone pieces, and a hefty accumulation of bats. The bats who reside in these cliffs and alongside the flags are Malayan Flying Foxes and Rodrigues Fruit Bats. The Malayan Flying Fox can have a wingspan of up to six feet and can daily consume up to its own body weight in food, but due to their size they cannot take flight from the ground. The Rodrigues Fruit Bat, however, can take off from the ground and, during flight, hover in midair. As graceful as this fruit bat may be, it makes up for it by producing loud screeching as it continually jockeys for an advantageous place to perch.Like many of the often untraveled and overlooked areas of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and even those that are heavily traveled, the amount of stories contained within a single space are immense. Whether it is the Community Hall of Anandapur, Harambe Wildlife Reserve, or The Dino Institute, take note of everything around you there is always a story and a message waiting to be uncovered by the curious.

20 July 2009

Vintage Posters

On August 5, 2009 Swann Auction Galleries in New York, NY will be auctioning a number of unique posters. Entitled Vintage Posters, the event will showcase posters with a distinctly summer feel, both in color and by the scene and destinations presented. The artwork of Mather & Company, Jules Chéret, David Kline, Jean Cocteau, and a plethora of other remarkable artists will be well represented. Vintage Posters top lot, L’Estampe Modern, comes from Alfons Mucha and features over one hundred images.While the amount of poster art gathered in one place for this experience is grand, you may be asking yourself why the average Disney enthusiast would be interested in such a sale. Included among the five hundred and two lots of the Vintage Posters auction are three pieces any Disney fan would be proud to display in their own homes. A 1940 Pinocchio poster and a 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs poster, both 40x27, are included alongside a Disneyland/United Air Lines poster by Stanley Walter Galli. While outside of my budget, I sincerely hope they find their way into the hands of a dedicated Disneyana collector.If the weather happens to be dreary, I invite you to peruse through the wonderfully warm Vintage Posters catalogue available on Swann Auction Galleries website. Information on the specific dates and times of the Exhibition and Auction can also be found there. And, if by any chance, you happen to be looking for your own piece of Disney history, I can think of no better place to look.

Addendum: The next best thing to being there

A few weeks back, the Main Street Gazette featured an article about the children’s book A Fun-Filled Visit to Walt Disney World with Mickey Mouse. A reader named La Shonda, who coincidentally authors Theme Perks, commented that, “My only regret is that you did include more photos. Wasn't there one of the Haunted Mansion that lifted up?”

She was right about the Haunted Mansion with a pop up ghost. And with that kind of memory, I thought I would share a few more pictures from the book with her, and the rest of you. I hope you enjoy the trip down memory lane, wherever the day finds you.

19 July 2009

The Lean Machine

With the recent news coming out that General Motors is now out of bankruptcy, I thought it would be only fitting to look back at one of their unique offerings from the days when GM sponsored the World of Motion. The article below, The Lean Machine, comes from one of the handouts that were available to guests as they made their way through the TransCenter after the main World of Motion attraction.
There are visionary vehicles in GM’s “World of Motion” that are more than dreams. One possibly historic innovation has been dubbed the “Lean Machine” because of its slender girth and leaning capabilities.

It may be the first new road vehicle invented in this century. Similar to a motorcycle in size and weight, computer studies show it can accelerate to 60 mph in seven seconds and travel up to 200 miles on a gallon of gas. Although similar to cycles, the “Lean Machine” parts company mainly in its suspension, aerodynamics, and passenger accommodations. A motorcycle is unstable and must be propped up on its two wheels when not moving. And its rider sits out in the open.

Not so with the “Lean Machine.” It has one wheel in front; but two more in the back give it a three-point stand. And the rider is enclosed in a fiberglass shell. Not for the “lean.”

This elongated passenger pod, mounted at either end of above the power pod, rotates horizontally and separately from the lower unit. The rotation enables the rider to lean into a turn, as cyclists do, while the power pod remains upright.

The passenger compartment has all of the conveniences of an automobile. Steering, braking, and throttle controls are combined in the handlebars. It has an automatic transmission and a rear-mounted, liquid-cooled, 38 horsepower engine.

In the wind tunnel, GM engineers have reduced the aerodynamic drag to less than one-fifth of a motorcycle and one-eighth of an automobile. That means it’s lean on gas.

18 July 2009

Like nothing else in the world

Catalogues, the magazine quality publication sometimes thicker than a phonebook, have become a thing of the past. Thankfully, the Magic Kingdom still believes in yesterday and the great feelings that nostalgia brings. These three photographs were captured along Main Street U.S.A. and exemplify the types of toys available in catalogues as these tree modes of transportation leap from the catalogue’s pages. These three dimensional advertisements not only include the monorail, pirate ship (presumably the Wicked Wench), and Walt Disney World Railroad, but they also include a quote from, or about, the attractions. As well, the announcements that surround each item offer similar type toys, as would any self-respecting catalogue.

Additionally, these same advertisements, just like all of Main Street U.S.A., offer a much different feel in the evening hours.

17 July 2009

Splashing good time

During a recent research and materials collection I came across this old photograph taken on Bay Lake. While swimming in the Seven Seas Lagoon, Bay Lake, or any of the natural waterways of Walt Disney World is prohibited, it is nice to remember that, once upon a time, you could idle away many of the summer hours awash in the unchlorinated waters.The caption to this picture reads, “SPLASHING GOOD TIME -- Walt Disney World guests enjoy splashing good times year round in the water of Bay Lake across from the Contemporary Resort Hotel. Water and sunshine are two of the keys to the charisma of the Central Florida resort.

The Walt Disney Family Museum

I just received this press release from The Walt Disney Family Museum, and a bunch of sneak peak photographs of some of the amazing pieces of the Disney family history the museum will have on display when it opens. With today being the fifty-fourth anniversary of the opening of Disneyland, I thought there could be no better way to celebrate that to celebrate the man, and the family, that brought so much joy to so much of our lives!

The Walt Disney Family Museum to Showcase Early Drawings of Mickey Mouse, Personal Letters, Disney Family Home Movies & Groundbreaking Technologies

San Francisco, CA, July 16, 2009—The fascinating and inspiring story of Walt Disney, whose artistry, creations, and vision helped define 20th-century American culture, will be brought to life at
The Walt Disney Family Museum, which opens in San Francisco in October 2009. The Museum will illuminate Walt Disney’s tremendous successes, disappointments, and unyielding optimism as he pursued innovation and excellence while entertaining and enchanting generations worldwide through his pioneering ventures.The creator of Mickey Mouse, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disneyland, and the global yet distinctly American company that bears his name, Disney was an independent risk-taker who started his first business at the age of 19 and worked tirelessly to elevate animation to an art form. He invented timeless characters and stories that brought the fantastical to life and continue to inspire a sense of wonder. Through animated and live action films, television programs, and theme parks, Disney created global symbols, icons, and characters that, more than 40 years after his death, are an indelible part of popular culture in America and around the world.

The Walt Disney Family Museum will illustrate how Disney’s irrepressible creativity enriched the imagination of generations. The Museum will tell the story of the man behind the myth in Disney’s own voice and in exhibits that reveal his expansive vision, from early drawings of some of his most popular characters to plans for Disneyland and EPCOT.“My father's name is probably one of the most well-known names around the world, but as the ‘brand’ or trademark has spread, for many, the man has become lost,” said Diane Disney Miller, one of the Museum’s founders. “We are committed to telling the story of Walt Disney’s life, in his own words, and in the words of others who knew him well and worked with him. My father was very open and approachable, and in many conversations and interviews that were captured in audio, you will be able to hear in the galleries as you learn the story of his life. It is a wonderful story. Dad himself loved to tell it. Thanks to the amazing work of many dedicated people, we are fortunate to be able to tell it here using the tools he worked with—art, music, film, and technology—to present an honest yet affectionate portrait of this amazing artist and man.”

“From Steamboat Willie to Pinocchio to EPCOT, Walt Disney’s unyielding ambition was to ignite a sense of wonder and to enrapture audiences through great storytelling,” said Richard Benefield, founding director of The Walt Disney Family Museum. “He recognized the power of art to spark the imagination, and time and again, pushed himself and his companies to the breaking point as he pursued the highest level of excellence in feature animation. The Walt Disney Family Museum will present the compelling story of his life—of his successes and failures—as he entertained and enlightened the nation while it struggled with the Great Depression, joined the fight of World War II, and entered a golden age of prosperity and preeminence.”About Walt Disney
The Walt Disney Family Museum will shed light on Disney’s remarkable life. One of five children, Disney was born in Chicago on December 5, 1901. He spent his early years in rural Missouri, where he developed a love of nature, of drawing, and of trains. After the family sold their failing farm and moved to Kansas City in 1911, Disney began working on his father’s newspaper route and developed a love of the stage. When his family moved back to Chicago in 1917, Disney drew cartoons and took photographs for his high school newspaper and attended night classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. During World War I, he was rejected by the army because of his age. He enlisted in the Red Cross Overseas and served as an ambulance driver in France. An ambulance similar to the one he drove in Europe will be exhibited at the Museum.

The Museum will chronicle Disney’s early, fitful starts at developing live and animated films, including the hardship with his first cartoon company in Kansas City, where he settled after he returned from Europe. After Laugh-O-gram Films went bankrupt in 1923, Disney took the train to California, with $40 in his pocket. By the end of the 1920s, despite his humble Hollywood beginnings, Disney rose to international fame and recognition with the invention of the world’s most famous mouse. His studio also enjoyed great financial success—and changed the animation industry—with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), its first feature-length animated film and a movie that skeptics had warned Disney against making. On the other hand, Disney’s animation studio nearly went bankrupt after the completion of Fantasia (1940), a film that received mixed reviews in its day although it is now celebrated as a cinematic landmark. Throughout these decades, Disney pushed groundbreaking technological innovations that revolutionized animation and focused on the areas of story, character development, color, dimensionality, and original music to improve his storytelling. He consistently challenged himself and his employees to surpass what they had already achieved.The Museum will illuminate Disney’s parallel interests in the fantastic and real. After completing the early-1940s animated masterpieces Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi, and after a hiatus mandated by World War II, Disney began to expand the scope of the studio’s work by making live-action documentaries about wildlife and the environment that reflected his childhood love of nature. He sent a team of naturalists to Alaska for a year to film anything they might find interesting. The result was Seal Island, which won the 1949 Academy Award® for best two-reel documentary.

The Museum will also explore his marketing acumen. In the 1950s, lacking the funds to complete Disneyland, Disney embraced TV as a platform to test and promote his ideas while securing the financing needed to complete what would become the world’s first theme park. Disney, who always looked toward a utopian future, was enchanted by the promise of technology. In addition to being an early champion of color television, stereo simulcasting, and widescreen technology, he brought his interest in transportation to bear by opening the first daily-operating Monorail system in the United States and creating the PeopleMover—an innovative tram system with no on-board motors—in Disneyland.Toward the end of his life, Disney developed innovative attractions for global events, notably the 1960 Olympics and the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. Beginning in 1960, Walt and his key creative executives approached several American corporations with the intent of collaborating on major shows and attractions for the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. The result was four of the most popular attractions at the Fair: the General Electric Progressland featuring Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress, the UNICEF Pavilion sponsored by Pepsi-Cola featuring, “it's a small world,” the Ford Wonder Rotunda featuring Walt Disney's Magic Skyway, and the State of Illinois Pavilion featuring Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. These attractions were later exported to Disneyland in California.

Disney’s work with Robert Moses inspired him to develop a new paradigm, EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow), a project Walt described as “a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing, testing, and demonstrating new materials and new systems…a showcase to the world of the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise.” With a unique city infrastructure that separated pedestrians and traffic, EPCOT foreshadowed the New Urbanism movement by 30 years.Inside the Museum: An American Story
The stories of Disney’s life, creativity, family, and the processes and innovations he brought to his art will be told through a series of ten galleries. Highlights of the Museum will include:
• Drawings Disney made in his youth
• Drawings and cartoons from Laugh-O-gram Films, Disney’s first company
• Early drawings of Mickey Mouse
• Storyboards, a Disney innovation that mapped out timeless film classics
• The technically innovative Multiplane Camera that brought vibrancy and depth to his revolutionary feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
• The unique Snow White Academy Award®, which included a full-size Oscar® and seven miniature castings
• The narrow-gauge Lilly Belle train he built for his Hollywood home, which recalled his youth and helped spur his vision for Disneyland
• A model of the Disneyland of Walt’s imagination

Throughout the exhibits, visitors will find rare film clips, concept art, scripts, musical scores, and cameras that Disney and his staff used in creating his characters and films. The visually stunning design incorporates movie posters that come to life to show scenes from Disney films, interactive light tables, and discovery drawers that add nuance and layer to the story of his life. Visitors will find hundreds of individual animation cels that reveal the labor-intensive animation process.

The exhibits will also pay tribute to Disney’s many groundbreaking achievements and innovations, among them:
• The first film that successfully synchronized sound and animation
• The first movie soundtrack released as a consumer recording
• The first original song from a cartoon to become a national hit (“Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?”)
• One of the first nature documentaries and the first to receive an Academy Award®

Disney and his family will be represented, as well, in photographs, artifacts, and home movies. Although famous for his work behind the camera for Walt Disney Productions, Disney was an avid home moviemaker throughout his life. The Walt Disney Family Museum will exhibit to the public for the first time clips that ranged from experiments with trick shots (unspilling a glass of milk) to reels that documented Disney’s life at home with his wife, Lilly; his daughters, Diane and Sharon; and his brother and business partner, Roy, and his brother’s wife, Edna Francis.

Walt Disney Family Museum: Facilities
The Walt Disney Family Museum is located in three historic buildings within the Presidio of San Francisco, which is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area of the National Park Service. The centerpiece is a former army barracks at 104 Montgomery Street, redesigned and upgraded by architecture firm Page & Turnbull of San Francisco, and with interior architecture and installations designed by the Rockwell Group. The Museum uses the building’s original domestic-scale rooms to frame the story of Disney’s life and incorporates a wide range of materials and technologies, from historic documents and artifacts, to listening stations and other interactive displays, to more than 200 video monitors. In addition to the galleries, the Museum contains a 123-seat screening facility, a learning center, a store, and a café.The Museum campus includes a former gymnasium that houses the Walt Disney Family Foundation’s collections and offices. The building is the site of a 2,000 square foot hall that will be used for special programs and concerts until the special exhibition program begins in January 2012. A third small building in the Presidio will house the Museum’s mechanical equipment.

The Walt Disney Family Museum, L.L.C. is owned and operated by the Walt Disney Family Foundation, a non-profit foundation. The Museum is partially funded by California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank revenue bonds.