31 August 2010

A journey that begins where everything ends

The upcoming TRON sequel, TRON: Legacy has whipped up a frenzy for long time and novice fans of the original film. This passion for vintage Disney science-fiction could not be contained by the digital world the of Encom, however, as interest has once again been piqued in the epic story of The Black Hole. Currently, the TRON: Legacy director and producer team of Joseph Kosinski and Sean Bailey are slated to remake the space odyssey, and they even found a way to drop in references to The Black Hole into their TRON sequel.

The original film featured the talents of actors Anthony Perkins and Maximilian Schell, director Gary Nelson, and designs by two Disney giants Peter Ellenshaw and George McGinnis. The visual undertaking was so dramatic, that it would go on to garner Visual Effects and Cinematography Academy Award nominations, as well as a Hugo nomination for Dramatic Presentation. The film featured a band of space explorers who stumble upon a derelict craft that which had been missing for the past two decades. Their investigation aboard the ship, the USS Cygnus, which is perilously close to a black hole has alarming ramifications.

The Black Hole was given a premiere spot in Disney’s 1978 annual report, which touted the gutsy and immense nature of the film. Perhaps it is time to venture back across the event horizon to see what Disney had to say about the film:
On October 11, 1978, we began production of the most ambitious motion picture in the history of the Disney studio, “The Black Hole.” Nearly everything about this mammoth undertaking sets it apart from our efforts of the past.

“The Black Hole” has the largest budget we have ever committed to a film project, more than 17 million dollars.

All but one of the principal cast are newcomers to the Disney family, including Maximilian Schell, Anthony Perkins, Robert Forster, Joseph Bottoms and Ernest Borgnine. Yvette Mimieux, who joins this excellent team of actors, has appeared for us only once before.

Director Gary Nelson, nominated for an Emmy for ABC-TV’s “Washington: Behind Closed Doors,” will oversee the longest production schedule in the history of Disney live-action filming. Nearly 14 months of simultaneous and post-production filming and processing will be required.

The entire studio creative team plus a group of “Imagineers” at WE Enterprises and four Academy Award winners (Peter Ellenshaw, Production Design; Eustace Lycett and Art Cruickshank, Special Photographic Effects; and Danny Lee, Special Visual Effects) are working together to create one of the most exciting films ever made. To accomplish this, an all-new computer camera system known as ACES (Automated Camera Effects System) has been developed and, in some scenes, as many as 12 different photo processes will be on the screen at once.

Black holes are the universe’s ultimate phenomena. Neither the science nor imagination of man has provided answers to the questions they pose. Some say that time stops as one enters the mouth of these dragons of space. Other suggest that they are doorways to another universe. Most simply refuse to speculate. And that is where our story begins: at the edge or event horizon of a black hole.

With the release of “The Black Hole,” scheduled tentatively for Christmas 1979, we anticipate a major new addition to the Disney library of classic films.
As a child, science fiction and pulp stories were the films that kidnapped my imagination and gave it lots of candy before returning it home. I lived in the worlds that had been cleverly crafted for me, often times expanding the tales into full day epics in which I was the hero or sole survivor. While Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Alien films were staples of this period, so to were the classic trio of Disney science fiction: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, TRON, and The Black Hole. As an adult it is truly exciting to see these films being discovered by a new generations and give new stories that treat the originals with the respect they deserve.

30 August 2010

When the deep purple falls

Music is the soundtrack of our lives. This is never more true than when guests journey through the various adventures of Walt Disney World. The music selected to play in the background of the lands and attractions found throughout the parks and resorts are as key to the experience as the subtle hints of a yeti’s presence, the visuals of a runaway mine train, or the smell of Rome burning. There is just as much precision work to incorporating the perfect piece of music for an area as there is in sculpting the rocks to mirror a specific dessert. I could, and have, staked out a bench in a specific land to pass the time of day solely based on the music found there. However, there is one place I find myself drawn to time and time again.

There is a lot to marvel at within the opening avenues of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. First and foremost the architecture and design found along both Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards are stunning, and prime examples of a stylized heyday. And while the music of these two lanes are gorgeous, you have to venture all the way to the end of Sunset to find my musical happy place. That’s right, the Hollywood Tower Hotel.

The first tendrils of the standards from the 1930s drift over the garden walls and become part of the landscape of the green spaces of the Hollywood Tower Hotel. The toe tapping rhythms linger into the lobby where remnants of former guests still remain. Even after the frightful experiences of the unhinged service elevator, the haunting vocals hang over the courtyard off to the side of the hotel. In short, the music permeates the entirety of the Hollywood Tower Hotel and become just as much a part of the Tower of Terror as the scarring on the side of the building.

So, what comprises this evocative musical loop? The Hollywood Tower Hotel takes a trip back down the musical highway to include tunes that would have been popular in the year 1939 and songs that had transformed into standards over the previous decade. Performers on the playlist include Duke Ellington, Vera Lynn, Cootie Williams, Hellen Forrest, Noble Sissle, Henry Allen, and Jimmie Lunceford, among others. The pieces themselves have stood the test of time, and include I Can’t Get Started, Pyramid, Jungle, Sleepy Time Gal, Mood Indigo, Inside, Deep Purple, and many more.

The melodies that surround the Hollywood Tower Hotel are enough to soothe the nerves of guests spellbound by the continual screaming from the elevators above, while still enhancing the overall environment of the tower. In short, even if I am not taking a trip to the Twilight Zone, I am always drawn down Sunset by the haunting musical memories the Hollywood Tower Hotel’s loop evokes.

29 August 2010

Disney This Week - 29 August 2010

Amanda Tinney is getting ready for Halloween, with pirate face painting tips on Disney Every Day.

DisneyShawn author, Shawn Slater, explores the connection between Lights, Motors, Actionand the world-renowned stunt coordinator, Rémy Julienne.

Matt Hochberg explains why the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame calls Disney’s Hollywood Studios home at Studios Central.

There is a cupcake mystery afoot at The Disney Food Blog, and AJ is hot on the trail!

Greg Grimsley contemplates living close enough to Walt Disney World to drop in for an occasional visit at The Disney Obsession.

The True Disney Fan, otherwise known as Jessica Clawson, measures the miles of fun that can be walked at Walt Disney World.

Over at Tulgey Wood, Jim Fanning explores a project by Richard Sherman that breaks with preconceived notions.

Melissa Loflin takes a moment to capture Harambe’s Independence on Makin’ Memories.

Heather McPherson, of The Daily Disney, catches up with California Grill’s amazing sushi chef, Yoshie Cabral.

The fine folks at Imagineering Disney have dug up the original 1964 introductory presentation on CalArts.

27 August 2010

Marvelously young

Way on down the Sassagoula River, near the area known as Port Orleans – Riverside, there is a secluded island known as Ol’ Man Island. Like most river-bound islands, it calls to the children of the area as a natural wonderland. For children islands of this sort are treasure troves of new adventures, secret meetings, a place to hide from whatever ills them away from the island, and a place to have more fun than they can shake a stick at. As far as Ol’ Man Island is concerned, however, it was a built as just this type of refuge for children, with plenty of entertaining escapes just waiting to be discovered.

According to the local legend, the island was first inhabited in 1835. A young man, seeking the solace of the Sassagoula found an island where he could live tranquilly. As time passed by the nearby Riverside area began to flourish, as wealth poured into the area so did new inhabitants and new dwellings. Eventually the children of Riverside journeyed out to the island and found a wealth of engaging activities. A swimmin’ hole filled with chutes, spouts, and even a deck to lay out in the sun was the main attraction, but the island also had a well stocked fishin’ hole for lazy afternoons when dropping a line into the river was the only activity that would do. In tribute to the man who had assembled the island wonderland, the residents of Riverside named the island Ol’ Man Island as a “tribute to the ol’ man and the happiness he gave to the children and all of Riverside’s neighbors.”

26 August 2010

Flowing together for more than a million years

Water is a critical component of life on earth, not to mention that it covers two-thirds of the globe. Water is, obviously, an essential element to weather and temperature, but since the dawn of time it has been fundamental part of daily living. Water hydrates humans and livestock alike, is used for irrigation of crops, houses a wonderland of food, fountains have been utilized as central meeting places, is traveled upon, and natural falls and pools of water are renowned for their beauty. The many forms and uses of water as an integral part of earth, and our place in it, are explored throughout the pavilions of World Showcase. While each pavilion presents at least one view of water’s role in a culture’s existence, on many occasions there is more than one work of water being showcased.

25 August 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mickey Mouse Cookies

Yesterday, we briefly touched upon the Nestle and Disney relationship and the commemorative tin Nestle released as part of Walt Disney World’s 25th Anniversary. Tucked away inside of the Toll House Tin was a recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Mickey Mouse Cookies. Last week I doubled up the recipe and made a batch, but let’s take a look at the recipe, some photographs of the preparation, and then we’ll have some thoughts.
(Makes about 2 ½ dozen cookies)

2 ½ cups All-Purpose Flour
2 cups (12-ounce package) Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels, divided in half
1 cup Quick Oats
1 cup (2 sticks) Butter or Margarine, softened
1 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1 cup Packed Brown Sugar
1 ½ teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs

Dough Directions:
Combine flour and baking soda in small bowl.
Beat butter, peanut butter, sugars and vanilla in large mixer bowl until creamy.
Beat in eggs.
Beat in flour mixture.
Stir in 1 cup morsels and oats.
Freeze until slightly firm but not hard.

Baking Directions:
Roll dough into 1 ½-inch ball; press down slightly on ungreased baking sheet.
Roll a 1 ¼-inch ball; cut in half.
Attach halves to first ball as ears.
Repeat with remaining dough; place 2 inches apart.
Bake in preheated 350° oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until light brown and centers are still soft.
Let stand for 3 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool.

Decorating Directions:
Microwave remaining morsels in heavy-duty plastic bag on HIGH (100%) power for 45 seconds.
Knead; microwave at additional 10 to 20 second intervals, kneading until smooth.
Cut tiny corner from bag.
Squeeze to pipe chocolate to create Mickey Mouse faces.
Allow chocolate to set.

The cookies were easy enough to create, although they take up quite a bit of space on a cookie sheet, so allow ample time for baking multiple rounds of cookies. For the ears, while rolling one ball and cutting it in half will suffice, it is just as easy to make two smaller balls and attach them as ears. As for decorating, I went for a classic Mickey in the style of the old Walt Disney World ice cream Mickey bars, but the preparations had some problems. The first set of morsels I tried to microwave melted the heavy duty bag and started to smoke in the microwave, and then in the kitchen. I found it more useful to melt and mix up the morsels in a small cup or measuring cup and then spoon the chocolate into a plastic or piping bag.

As for the taste of the cookies, they were terrific! And I’m not usually one to enjoy the combination of chocolate and peanut butter. The oats and morsels add a nice texture to the generally chewy cookie, while the vanilla lingers around as an aftertaste, even with a strong peanut butter flavor. While baking is not my strongest kitchen gift, these are simple enough and tasty enough that I would whip up a batch again.

24 August 2010

Nestle Toll House celebrates the magic

The relationship between Disney and the various companies that comprise Nestle goes back decades, as far back as Carnation hosting the Main Street Ice Cream Parlor at Disneyland beginning in 1955. Far beyond the American shores, Nestle was also one of the twelve founding sponsors of EuroDisneyland, now known as Disneyland Paris. When a new partnership was announced in 1992, which would take effect on 1 January 1993, it not only deepened the relationship between the food and entertainment giants, but it had a profound impact on one of EPCOT Center’s original pavilions, The Land.

The Land, known for its technologically advanced greenhouses, a strangely alluring Audio-Animatronics show, and a film depicting the nature of humankind’s relationship with the world around them, would undergo a staggering change in the first few years of the Nestle’s new sponsorship. The first changes to The Land pavilion’s attractions came in the renowned greenhouse boat ride in September of 1993, where the opening Symphony of the Seed scene, closing scene, and marquee Listen to the Land song were all removed. Listen to the Land was renamed Living With the Land and opened with a new rain water opening, new score, and a new global ending. Following this change, the refurbishment of The Land continued with the Kitchen Kabaret took its final curtain call in January of 1994. It would be replaced by a similar nutrition based show, this time featuring pop icons as food items. The final change made during this initial refurbishment phase was the Harvest Theatre’s shift from Symbiosis to Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable, a film that spliced scenes from Symbiosis, new footage, and the personalities from The Lion King to present the symbiotic relationship message to a broader audience.

The wide ranging partnership led to tie-ins between the various Nestle foodstuffs and Disney characters and films. Outside of the theme parks, however, there was very little cross-branding during the boom of the Nestle and Disney partnership. One of the only crossovers was the Toll House Semi-Sweet Morsels commemorative tin, celebrating the 25th anniversary of Walt Disney World. The tin featured a single panel focusing on each of the three parks found in Walt Disney World in 1996, while the fourth panel was an mash-up of images from all three parks.

The tin, which housed a bag of semi-sweet morsels had one more surprise in store, a recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Mickey Mouse Cookies. But, that’s an article for another day… maybe tomorrow…

I want to thank my good friend Jaime McKee for seeing this tin and immediately thinking of me. Disney and food, yep, she knows me pretty well!

23 August 2010

Our richest resource

Here we are again, August 23rd. Three years ago this was just an ordinary day, now it demarks the beginning of the amazing journey known as the Main Street Gazette. I could have never imagined the road that was before me then, just as I cannot dream what the next three years have in store for me now, but I am truly thankful for all I have gained. The one thing I am most grateful for are the people I have had the opportunity to meet and become friends with over the past several years.

Time after time, the memories I carry back with me from a trip are of the new people I get to meet or the great times with old friends. And it doesn’t take long for new acquaintances to become fast friends, some of whom have become as close to me as family. They are not only the people you ride The Great Movie Ride With, but they are also the people you call, text, or email when there is news in your life or because you are simply having a bad day. This is the group of people who stand in line at the D23 Expo just to pick up a book for you, they modify their schedule to have a meal with you, they track down recipes during festivals for you, they send you old Disney memorabilia, and they drop hints to you about upcoming refurbishments, but that’s not why they are considered family.

While we all share a love for Disney, a passion that intersects at movies or the theme parks, or at all points of Disney entertainment, that is simply the starting point of much deeper connections. While we all come from different walks of life, have differing political and religious views of the world, none of that truly matters when you get down to the heart of the individuals. We begin to take an interest in their children and spouses, we love their quirks, and they in turn put up with ours. If the Gazette were to end tomorrow (it’s not, mind you), I would gladly part with it knowing that it has allowed me to forge some tremendous bonds.

My favorite memories from the past few years include almost altercations, sharing our knowledge and passion with intrigued strangers, glow stick duels, lessons in nighttime photography, tours of overlooked areas, dessert parties, new spouses and newborns, and more meals than I could shake a stick at. The things that each and every memory have in common are remarkable friends, wonderful conversations, and an heaping scoop of laughter.

For the sake of space (and knowing that I would likely forget someone that I would never wish to forget), I will just say that those of you in my Disney family know who you are, and I thank you, and cherish you, for being a part of it. To the Main Street Gazette’s readers, I hope each of you know the joy of your Disney family, and know that you are always welcome in mine. As always, I am humbled by the fact that so many of you keep reading my blathering, but so long as you continue to read the articles, I will continue to write them. Thank you, one and all.

22 August 2010

Disney This Week - 22 August 2010

As a child of the 80s, Thomas Smith posted the coolest photograph ever on the Disney Parks Blog, Indiana Jones vs. Darth Vader.

The Studios Central Studios Update has a lot to cover this week, as Matt Hochberg addresses changes in the park, the Tower of Terror Summer Nightastic event, and the Last Tour to Endor.

Suzannah DiMarzio provides Zannaland readers a primer for applying to the Walt Disney World Moms Panel.

The delicious Artist Point Berry Cobbler now comes homemade-style, thanks to The Disney Chick.

Over at Top Culutured, Oral Adams showcases a unique series of letters between Walt Disney and a young fan.

While dining with friends, AJ reviews one of the best meals in Walt Disney World, Flying Fish Café, for The Disney Food Blog.

Shawn Slater morphs into action as DisneyShawn and takes readers along for the Power Rangers' final mission at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

A book about a Disney golf course? Why, yes please. George Taylor pours through the relationship between Lake Buena Vista and Audubon International on Imaginerding.

SamLand’s Disney Adventures scribe Sam Gennawey does a fantastic job discussing the life and times of Harrison “Buzz” Price.

Fiona Doyle shares some of the extraordinary Pirates of the Caribbean exteriors in Parc Disneyland Paris at DF’82.

Makin’ Memories photographer-author Melissa Loflin highlights one of my favorite aspects of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the streetmosphere.

21 August 2010

WDFM - September 2010 Schedule

Short of Walt Disney, perhaps the one Disney Legend who most influenced my childhood is Fess Parker. All during the month of September, the Walt Disney Family Museum remembers and explores Davy Crockett through film and programs hosted by his family by the always entertaining writer, Jeff Kurtti.


Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier (1955)
1:00pm and 4:00pm daily, Theater
(except Tuesdays and September 12, 18, 19 and 25.)

Tickets available online at www.waltdisney.org
Watch Fess Parker fight for freedom at the Alamo in this classic Disney film. Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier is a memorable live action movie about a legendary American folk hero.

REEL LOCAL with Jan Wahl
3:00pm, September 12, Special Exhibition Hall

Tickets available online at www.waltdisney.org
Join us for an afternoon of Bay Area film and food. San Francisco is the star of this Reel Local film program that features popular cinematic hits and local, mouth-watering treats. From Vertigo to Dirty Harry, experience San Francisco through the eyes of top filmmakers while you snack on unbeatable Bay Area bites, wine, and brews.

A Tribute to Fess Parker

September 18 and 19
Tickets available online at www.waltdisney.org
Join us for a one-of-a-kind celebration of the life and career of one of the most popular and renowned of Disney’s players, Fess Parker. Jeff Kurtti, one of the leading authorities on The Walt Disney Company and its history, will moderate this special weekend.

Davy Crockett Marathon: Davy Crockett Season One
10:15am, September 18, Theater

Tickets available online at www.waltdisney.org
“Davy Crockett Indian Fighter” (as originally broadcast December 15, 1954/”Disneyland” Season 1, Episode 8), “Davy Crockett Goes to Congress” (as originally broadcast January 26, 155/”Disneyland” Season 1, Episode 14), “Davy Crockett at the Alamo” (as originally broadcast February 23, 155/”Disneyland” Season 1, Episode 18). Introduction by Disney Historian Jeff Kurtti.

Davy Crockett Marathon: Davy Crockett Season Two
3:00pm, September 18, Theater

Tickets available online at www.waltdisney.org
“Davy Crockett’s Keelboat Race” (as originally broadcast November 16, 1955/”Disneyland” Season 2, Episode 10), “Davy Crockett and the River Pirates” (as originally broadcast December 14, 1955/”Disneyland” Season 2, Episode 13). Introduction by Disney Historian Jeff Kurtti.

Our Dad, Fess Parker
3:00pm, September 19, Theater

Tickets available online at www.waltdisney.org
The family of Fess Parker—Eli Parker, Ashley Parker Snider, and Tim Snider—will be on stage for a special tribute and panel discussion with Disney historian/moderator Jeff Kurtti that will feature rare film footage and photos of Parker’s days at Disney.

Public Programming

DISNEY DISCOVERIES: Second Saturday of each month
Disney Discoveries! Davy Crockett Satchel
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm, September 11, Learning Center Art Studio

Be inspired by Davy Crockett’s frontiersman costume as you create your own hand-made satchel of felt and yarn.

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.

Look Closer: Photo of Walt with Fess Parker
11:00 am and 3:00 pm, September 24, 25, and 26, Gallery 9

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, behind the scenes information, or just additional information during the 5 to 8-minute gallery talk.

20 August 2010

The big one

There are so many Toy Story gags found throughout Pixar Place and Toy Story Midway Mania, that sometimes the smaller details are left by the wayside. Take, for instance, this pair of mischievous monkeys.

The monkeys have obviously escape from the Barrel of Monkeys game, no doubt the same barrel and monkeys used by Mr. Potato Head, Rex, Hamm, and the rest of the toys to try and rescue Buzz after he had been unceremoniously whacked out of the window in Andy’s bedroom in the first Toy Story film. These are also the same monkeys used by Evil Doctor Porkchop (aka Hamm) for the fiendish trap known as Death by Monkeys.

Of course, most guests will recognize the monkeys scattered about the area. What makes this pair, found along the edge of the roof with a tree and small building protrusion masking their activities, intriguing is the rocket they are monkeying around with. The rocket in question is The Big One, the same rocket that Andy’s toy dissecting neighbor Sid strapped to Buzz to send him into outer space. This is the same rocket later used by Buzz and Woody to blast off down the road, return RC to the moving truck, and make their way back to Andy in his van towards the end of Toy Story.

19 August 2010

Waiting in the kitchen

More often than not, there is a subtlety to the transitions between two lands in the Magic Kingdom. However, once in a specific land, one look at the surrounding buildings, and it is very clear what land a guest is currently inhabiting. The tables and chairs found scattered about each land can, at times, be ambiguous, but at other times they tell the tales of their host realm better than some of the architecture.

18 August 2010

Treats to share

There are certain foods that firmly stick to the memories of children as snacks meant only for vacations. One such gummy snack is taffy, which has always been available in Walt Disney World, specifically, along the lanes of Main Street U.S.A. Recently I rounded up the three types of taffy available in Walt Disney World and gave them a proper taste test. The three forms of taffy currently available are the Disneyland/Walt Disney World Taffy, Goofy’s Candy Co. Taffy, and Resort Delights Tropical Taffy.

Goofy’s Candy Co. and the Disneyland/Walt Disney World Taffy had very similar textures and tastes. In fact, even the patterns and colors found on the individual pieces of taffy mirrored one another. Typical taffy flavors comprise the mixed bags and the substantial chewiness of each piece allows for a longer tasting experience.

The Resort Delights offer a much different taffy experience than the previous two. For starters, the flavors are, indeed, more tropical and include coconut, citrus, and other exotic fruits. As for the consistency of the taffy, it has a softer texture and begins to dissolve in much less time than either Goofy’s or Disneyland/Walt Disney World.

While the tropical flavors are a nice excursion from the ordinary taffy flavors, I am more of a traditionalist and would much rather have a piece of taffy to chew over a period of time. However, for a park that does not sell gum, the taffy is a perfect replacement. Plus, it makes for a great snack at home or to share with the office after a trip to Walt Disney World.

17 August 2010

Humbug and Co.

Epcot’s World Showcase is a year-round cultural display seeking to display not only the culinary stylings, history, and traditions of the representative countries, but also how similar each civilization is to one another. On occasion, however, festivals are constructed to bring even more awareness to the cultures are of the world. One such event took place in 1984 and was known as WorldFest.The festival highlighted the music, arts, crafts, and stories from each of the countries included in World Showcase. In the United Kingdom, the World Showcase Players put on the tale of A Christmas Carol, as told by Humbug and Co.

While festivals such as WorldFest or the International Food and Wine Festival may seem repetitive to the cause of World Showcase, their novelty and limited-engagements have always brought more attention to the mission of World Showcase and the peoples of the world.

16 August 2010

Chapters of our minds

I have something to admit, when I was a child I would cower with my head between my knees for a good deal of Captain EO. It wasn’t the Captain and his crew that frightened me, on the contrary, for the first several minutes of the film I felt as though I was cruising around the cosmos battling evildoers, a similar sensation I had during my many viewings of the Star Wars trilogy. No, it wasn’t Idee, EO, or Hooter that startled me, but the Supreme Leader and her minions. One of the most terrifying images, that haunted many of my nightmares, were the outstretched claws of the Supreme Leader with that terrible smile etched upon her face. It should also be noted that my sister loved Captain EO and made us visit the attraction on each and every visit, I think sometimes just to terrorize me.

With all of that baggage, you would think that I would have had knots in my stomach when it was announced that Captain EO would be returning to Epcot earlier this year. But my reaction was precisely the opposite. From viewing the film online, reading about the work put into the film, and focusing on the moments in the film that I did enjoy, I had developed a fondness for the film that had caused me so much grief in my youth. In fact, whenever I read more about Captain EO I actually became more upset with myself that I had not enjoyed the film more when I had the chance. With a second chance looming I was ecstatic to give the Captain his due.

When I stepped back into Magic Eye Theater last week to see Captain EO, I was as giddy as any child of the Star Wars era should have been during the film’s original run. So, how did the film hold up?

The preshow, focusing on the making of Captain EO, serves more as a teaser for the feature film. The preshow showcases the construction and staging of scenes, with only shadowed glimpses of Michael Jackson and actual scenes from the movie, in an attempt to not give too much away before stepping into the theater.

Once inside the Magic Eye Theater, we are informed that this is the original 70mm print being shown on screen. The film was better than I had remembered, and had that early 1980s sci-fi vibe to it that has made it so enduring to fans for so long. The in-theater effects stood strong against the test of time, as did the 3D moments when the film invaded the theater. The true test, however, was the music. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was tapping my feet and singing along with Captain EO towards the end of the film. In fact, even my wife, who had never seen Captain EO during its first run in Epcot, was singing with me.

As for the Supreme Leader, I’ve seen a lot worse since I was that scared child trembling in his seat, but that didn’t stop me from having a single jolt of recognition when she reached out from the screen. Still, I stood my ground and watch her transformation with the glee I should have watched it with way back when.

Overall, the movie was precisely what I expected and remembered. Captain EO was, and still is, the perfect melding of Star Wars and Thriller, and has enough entertainment to make even the stodgiest of park guests sing and smile at the intergalactic fun.

15 August 2010

Disney This Week - 15 August 2010

Shawn Slater explores the area of Blizzard Beach known as Tike’s Peak on DisneyShawn.

A few historical drawings of the future are displayed by George Taylor at Imaginerding.

Tokyomagic! and Meet the World showcases a vintage Haunted Mansion postcard folder.

AJ highlights some of the best dining establishments that don’t need reservations on The Disney Food Blog.

At AllEarsNet, Jack Spence edutains readers with an investigation of Living With the Land.

Over at Zannaland, Suzannah DiMarzio captures some great images of the garden of Japan.

Heather Hust Rivera posts a video hinting at new Star Tours destinations at the Disney Parks Blog.

13 August 2010

Masks and beads

Plastered all throughout Africa in Disney’s Animal Kingdom are posters for various businesses that call Harambe home. One such business is Jorodi Masks & Beads, who claim to have ‘the finest collection of traditional art in East Africa.’

Like many of the names and posters found throughout the park, this one references a real individual, Imagineer Joe Rohde. Known for his unique earring, Joe Rohde was the driving force behind the creation of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The actually storefront of Jorodi Masks & Beads can be found in the open air marketplace setting of Tusker House’s buffet. Along the second floor, over the hallway leading to the restaurant’s restrooms, is the small establishment whose walls and railings are adorned strings of beads and carved masks. In one final nod to Joe Rohde, there is an additional sign hanging from the handrail, this one reminds patrons that Jorodi also specializes in earrings.

12 August 2010

Specialita della casa

We’ve talked about, and viewed, the fare of Via Napoli yesterday. Today, let’s explore the art and architecture of Via Napoli.