31 January 2010

Disney This Week - 31 January 2010

Disney This Week - 31 January 2010
Ryan P. Wilson

Okay, so just a month ago, I said that I was cutting back my workload and the number of articles a week on the Main Street Gazette. While the focus of the content is still remaining, and the readers out there seem to be enjoying the quality of the content we are bringing to the Gazette, I can’t help but feel that you have all been left out in the cold for weekend reading. With that in mind, it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Disney This Week. Disney This Week will be a regular column every Sunday morning that recaps a few of the articles from the Disney blogosphere that have caught my eye in the previous week. I hope you will enjoy what others have to say on the subject of the wide world of Disney.

Many bloggers and Disney enthusiasts who share our memories through photographs and videos are often concerned about our media coming back to bite us through legal ramifications. Robert Niles of the Theme Park Insider offers some fantastic insight into why we shouldn’t worry as much.

Last Friday, members of D23 and lifelong fans of Mary Poppins, both the film and the stage production, were treated to a special performance and conversation of the title. In fact, Jeffrey Epstein even lets us in on the secret that Nackvid Keyd returned to reprise his role.

If there is one thing that throws be back to my childhood spent at Walt Disney World, it is the sound of a distant train whistle. Princess Fee, of DF’82, must know this. Why else would she torture me with glimpses into the iron horses of Tokyo Disneyland?

Restaurantosaurus is, perhaps, the most richly detailed restaurant in all of Walt Disney World. Articles on the subject matter covered here could range from automotive, to music, and even to dorm life while never actually addressing dinosaurs. George Taylor, the original geek of Imaginerding, offers us some terrific insight into the books that line Restaurantosaurus’ shelves.

I have always been a collector and constructor of Legos. And now, with a new Legoland coming to Central Florida, I have even more reasons to move back to the place where I was born. Over at Progress City, U.S.A., Michael Crawford has an excellent dissection of the Lego – Walt Disney World relationship.

AJ, of the Disney Food Blog, finds a way to make me hungry no matter when I check in on her site. This week, however, she made me want to go back in time to Disneyland 1955 to grab a bite to eat.

Also, in the makes me hungry (as well as thirsty and prone to guffaws) when I read their writing department is Andy Jackson of Eating (and Drinking) around the World. This past week he reminds us that there are cocktails available in the Magic Kingdom,… if you’re a robot.

While the commentary is a little over a week old, I felt this piece deserved a place in this week’s look back, as it was one of the reasons I was driven to start this segment. Greg Grimsley, otherwise known as Doc of The Disney Obsession, put together 59 words and a single picture and completely captured the heart of what Walt Disney World is.

There were also some great guest blogs circulating this week, here is one that really caught my eye and held my attention.

Tim Halbur wrote this week for SamLand’s Disney Adventures, which is regularly penned by the thought provoking and well-versed Sam Gennawey. Tim’s article crafted a new Carousel of Progress, hosted by none other than Ludwig Von Drake.

29 January 2010

Fit the bill

Fit the bill
Ryan P. Wilson
The PhilharMagic Concert Hall is, quite coincidentally, home to Mickey’s PhilharMagic. While this may seem like a rather unimaginative name for the hall that hosts Maestro Mickey’s show, the PhilharMagic Concert Hall has hosted a plethora of events prior to the current concert of the same name. In fact, before a performance, or during the intermission, guests can take a gander at the posters that promoted these events.

Festival de los MariachisIn our inaugural Season, Donald Duck proved that his Mariachi-style trumpet really fit the bill!

I PagliacciIn one whale of a Second Season, Willie made quite a splash!

The Wolf Gang TrioA highlight of the Third Season, the Wolfgang Trio huffed and puffed and blew the house down!

Ariel’s Coral GroupAriel brought part of her world to a part of our world with the Fourth Season’s Concerto in Sea Major!

GenieAfter his “un-corked” Fifth-Season performance, Genie left his fans wishing for more!

An Evening with WheezyThe sensation of the Sixth Season were the soft and breezy vocal stylings of Wheezy!

HadesIn our sizzling Seventh Season, Hades’ performances were on fire!

28 January 2010

Quality California

Quality California
Ryan P. WilsonA while back, we discussed the architecture of the Sunset Ranch Market and the history of its real world inspiration, the Los Angeles Farmers Market. As with all farmers markets, Los Angeles’ began with well-worn, and well taken care of, trucks loaded down with crates of produce occupying a vacant lot in the predawn hours of the day. The Sunset Ranch Market, found at the end of Sunset Boulevard in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, has kept this tradition alive with several produce labels plastered on the walls, and a truck loaded down with various crates of crops. Coincidentally, all of the labels found on the crates are authentic reproductions of actual brand logos that could be found in Southern California during the 1930s and 1940s, the precise era represented by this corner of Sunset Boulevard.

27 January 2010

From the first nibble

From the first nibble
Ryan P. Wilson

Snacks are as intricate to the Walt Disney World experience as rollercoasters and autograph books. Of course, the lingering flavor of Dole Whips, the smell of roasted almonds, and the memories of popcorn on Main Street U.S.A can only last so long. Luckily for all of us, a flight or drive home no longer has to be the end of tasty Disney treats. Without much fanfare, Disney has been releasing several different brands of snack foods and beverages for guests to enjoy long after they have checked-out and returned home. Today we’ll tour the shelves and see what is available for a quick bite or hot sip.

Chocolatears – Bags of bite-sized chocolate snacks. Typical movie theater fare, such as chocolate covered pretzels, raisins, and maltballs are among the beloved movie time candies available to take to your own home theater.

Chocolate Favorites – Classic boxed favorites and variations. Generally reserved for romantic and festive holidays, everyday becomes a holiday with these cherry cordials, pecan clusters, and large chocolate covered crispy rice treats.

Goofy’s Candy Co. – Children’s, or adults who wish to feel like children, favorites are now bagged and served by Goofy. Red licorice bites, hard candies, gummies, and miniature lollipops are sure to satisfy the sweet tooth once home, or at for the drive home.

Chip & Dale Snack Company – Served in family and fun sizes, these bags of snack mixes not only provide something sweet but also protein for the energy to keep up with busy children, or to keep one step ahead of the parents. Chip and Dale have created snacks that help you choose you own adventure with mountain, tropical tiki, nature, and even samurai mixes, to name a few.

Minnie’s Bake Shop – Baked goods, including brownies and various cookies come in boxes and occasionally bagged individually, are handled by the Bake Shop. Back home, guests’ kitchens can become the Bake Shop with mixes that are also available, complete with spoons or whisks.

Main Street Popcorn – While Main Street U.S.A., and the Magic Kingdom as a whole, is known for its popcorn, variations on the traditional popcorn can be taken home by the bag. Kettle, Caramel, and Caramel with nuts are available for even walks or movie night.

Resort Delights – Traditional treats, coconut patties and taffy, which have often made gifts for family members and friends back home are still staples of the snack section.

Mickey’s Really Swell Coffee – Returning to work or school after any amount of time in Walt Disney World can be grueling, but some fresh perks should help get guests going. Included along side the various roasts and flavors are also classic coffee accompaniments like chocolate bars and waffle cookies.

Mickey’s Really Creamy Cocoa – Cocoa is the quickest way to warm up on those chilly nights, and with the flavored and classic cocoas, you are guaranteed warm bodies and a room full of smiles in every cup.

Wonderland Tea – Whether loose leaf or bagged, these teas, in blends such as Jasmine Green, Lemon Honey Chamomile, and even Mad Tea Party, make the perfect cup for an unbirthday or a drowsy morning spent reminiscing over vacation photographs.

26 January 2010

Retro Rewind: Disney’s Haunted Mansion

Retro Rewind: Disney’s Haunted Mansion
Tony Caggiano

Last year, 2009, was what many would consider, the year of the Haunted Mansion. Back in September, on 9/9/09 to be exact, the Mansion over on the west coast celebrated its 40th birthday. While I was, unfortunately, unable to make it out to the festivities, I was lucky enough to have my good friend, Lori “We Wants the Redhead” Burke, in attendance and she was gracious enough to hook me up with a bit of “swag” from the event…she is a Rock Star!!! Aside from the wonderful gifts she bestowed on me, another great perk of this celebration was a revival and “reprint” of one of my all time favorite Disney theme park albums, The Story and Song from The Haunted Mansion.While this album was released way back in 1969, I got my first copy of this record (yes it was a record…ahh vinyl, the good old days) back around 1977 or so. As kids, my brothers and I would be loaded into the back of my Dad’s 1974 AMC Hornet for the 20 plus hour ride down to Walt Disney World. During that long ride, I can remember, as if it were yesterday, my younger brother Frankie and I talking about and mustering up our courage to ride the Haunted Mansion. Then, as we walked the long queue line, past the gravestones, we would hear the infamous howling dog and we were scared!

When we were back at home, we would flip through the pages of the book that also served as the album cover and listen intently to the story of the Haunted Mansion. We were far braver at that point than during our actual visit to the Mansion, but nonetheless just as excited.

Like so much of my vintage Disney vinyl, this album is now framed and hanging on my wall. Yet, with the newly released CD of this recording, I am able to once again enjoy the spooky story of The Haunted Mansion and the newly re-mastered recording of Grim Grinning Ghosts, which is also found on the disk. The new CD also doubles as a CD-ROM with fantastic images of Collin Campbell’s original paintings of the images from the accompanying book.

Whether you are a long time Mansion fan, or just long to bring a bit of the parks into your everyday, I highly recommend this album. It has certainly stood the test of time and is as good today as it was 40 years ago.

25 January 2010

WDFM - March Schedule

WDFM - March Schedule
Ryan P. Wilson

The Walt Disney Family Museum has just released its schedule for March 2010. Looking through the various activities and events, a month known for luck and spring showers will bring just that to guests of the exhibits. With Darby O’Gill providing the luck and a shower of Imagineering insight in the form of the Tiki Birds and Mr. Lincoln, March will be a terrific time to visit San Francisco.



March 20 –Disney Innovator Don Iwerks discusses the Nodal Point Camera invented by his legendary father, Ub
3:00 pm, Theater

tickets available online at www.waltdisney.org

The making of Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959) presented particular challenges. Walt Disney wanted the audience to believe that Darby was talking and singing with the King at the Leprechauns but the scale had to be perfect. To tackle this technical problem, he turned to Ub Iwerks, Join Don Iwerks—former Disney executive, founder of Iwerks Entertainment, and son of Ub as he talks about Ub’s creation, the Nodal Point Camera.

March 28 – Disney’s first Female Imagineer, Harriet Burns, visits during Women’s History Month
3:00 pm, Theater

tickets available online at www.waltdisney.org

Harriet Burns became the first woman to work at WED Enterprises, adding her special touch to Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, the Haunted Mansion, and the Enchanted Tiki Room. Her daughter, Pam Burns-Clair, and Don Peri, author of “Working with Walt: Interview with Disney Artists,” will introduce you to a woman who worked beside legends and became one herself.


Darby O’Gill and the Little People
1:00pm and 4:00pm, Theater
(except Tuesdays, March 13, March 20 and March 28).

tickets available online at www.waltdisney.org

Before he was James Bond, actor Sean Connery was Michael Murphy, an Irishman caught up in the magical adventures of Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959). Follow Darby (Albert Sharpe) as he tries to out trick the King of the Leprechauns and reach that pot of gold. Does he succeed? You will have to come to one of our screenings to find out.


March 13 – String Circle Quartet
4:00 p.m., Special Exhibition Hall

tickets available online at www.waltdisney.org

This musical adventure will pair the last string quartet of Mozart’s with the first of Benjamin Britten’s; these are both pieces of sparkling wit, great beauty, and off beat character. Jonathan Dimmock will join the quartet on piano in a quintet arrangement written by Mozart for glass harmonica.

Public Programming

DISNEY DISCOVERIES: Second Saturday of each month

March 13 – An Enchanted Tiki Bird
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm, Learning Center: Art Studio

Imaginations and creativity will soar with our new Disney Discoveries! The second Saturday of each month, join us for family fun and activities in the Learning Center. The activities planned by our education staff will inspire the hidden artist in young visitors while learning about the life and work of Walt Disney.

The Disney Discoveries! activities are free with paid admission to the Museum. No ticket is needed for members—just show your membership card.

Look Closer

March 26 & 27 – Inside Audio-Animatronics: The Making of Mr. Lincoln
11:00 am and 3:00 pm, Gallery 9, Lower Level

Would you like to know more about one of the artifacts in the galleries? Our Look Closer series will give you that opportunity—staff will reveal little known facts—and behind the scenes information during the 30-minute gallery talk.

The Look Closer series is free with paid admission or paid membership.

Hot Laps Around The World

Hot Laps Around The World
Tony Caggiano

Since I started officially writing articles on my exploration of Walt Disney World over a year ago, I have always prided my self on one recommendation above all…SLOW DOWN. Today, I am going to tell you just the opposite. With Disney’s recent introduction of a free ride along at the Richard Petty Driving Experience, I began to think about just how much fun it was to SPEED UP, if only for a little while.

Back in the summer of 1998, I was fortunate enough to have taken part in the Rookie Experience at the Petty Driving Experience. They offer a few different packages over at the Walt Disney World Speedway, this one was one of the shorter offerings, but even at just around 10 laps or so, it was an afternoon I would not soon forget.

First, you are taken to a classroom where you begin your experience with the traditional signing your “life” away. Not really, but you are required to sign a release form and acknowledge the fact that you are participating in a dangerous activity. Once the formalities of the legal end were out of the way, we sat down and watched a brief video and had some instruction on how everything would “go down” by an instructor, who himself was an actual stock car driver. We then donned our Nomex fire suits and headed out the door..Outside, we were loaded into a van which was taken for a few laps around the speedway. When you are driving at 40 miles per hour around the track, you would swear that the van was about to tip over any second. After our instructional drive around the track, we headed for pit row, where we put on our helmets and headed towards our stock cars

On this sultry July afternoon, with a temperature approaching 95 degrees, the cockpits of these race cars made it feel like you were climbing down into the depths of Hades. But, once you flipped that switch and heard the roar of the 700 horsepower engines…all of that was forgotten.

The driving experience itself was not very long. Including warm-up laps, it lasted about 20 minutes…but it was twenty minutes I can recall clearly, even now, twelve years later. Over the course of my “hot” laps (those other than the warm-up and cool down laps), I averaged a speed of around 119 MPH with a fastest top speed of 128 MPH.

I would highly recommend the Petty Driving Experience to anyone, whether a fan of racing or not. It is quite simply a wonderful life experience. This is one of those rare times that I would advise each and every visitor to throw my old rule out the window, don’t even think about slowing down…just GO FAST!!!

For more information you can visit the Richard Petty Driving Experience.

22 January 2010

Final boarding

Final Boarding
Ryan P. Wilson

With Space Mountain’s recent refurbishment, Walt Disney World enthusiasts were introduced to Starport Seven-Five. The clear reference here is to the year 1975, when Space Mountain opened. What may not be immediately apparent to guests who venture into Starport Seven-Five’s Final Boarding area, whether via the Alpha or Omega Lounge, is that there is actually a seven step process to the boarding and launch procedure.

Phase I: Rocket Arriving
Phase II: Prepare To Board
Phase III: Lower Gravity Bars
Phase IV: Secure Personal Cargo
Phase V: Check Invisible Oxygen Dome
Phase VI: Initiating Launch Sequence
Phase VII: Have A Pleasant Flight

21 January 2010

Super highways

Super highways
Ryan P. Wilson

On Christmas Day in 1986, my sister and I opened up a pair of twin red fire engines from Hess. It was a hot commodity as, in those days, when the trucks went on sale on Thanksgiving morning you had to get to a Hess station early or you would be out of luck and without a truck. My sister and I pushed the fire trucks/banks to their limits, shredding tires and ladders alike until they hardly resembled the mighty trucks they had once been. When they began to lose their play value, my dad put the better looking truck away on the top shelf of his closet.From that moment on, he had a new tradition. Rather than continue to buy us trucks to dismantle, he began purchasing, or having one purchased for him as a gift, a truck each year and then storing it away in his closet. The boxes have gotten larger in size and quantity, and are only matched by the passion he has for the toys he never plays with!It was then with great excitement that I discovered today’s Photo Safari. Located at the Hess Express, most guests notice the giant atlas-type map covering the building, but very few take the time to peer through the clear strip that runs through the front-center of the building. Hidden behind this glass is a collection of various Hess Trucks from throughout the years. While the collection does not include all of the trucks, and remarkably does not include any from the trucks’ inception in 1964 and through the 1970s, it is a fantastic indication of the types of trucks featured over the years and the quality of the vehicles. Let’s take a look: