Monday, June 3, 2013
Since that fateful day in the mid-1990s, a lot has happened to the Fantasyland theater, most of it having little to do with being a theater. For as long as I can remember, it was some princess thing. I never knew exactly, because I never visited. I could say the same thing for Carnation Plaza Gardens in regards to it being an area I used to never visit. Ironically, it's now some princess thing.
Live entertainment that isn't for a demographic that's acutely specific, has returned to the theater that looks like Madonna's cone bra, and it's demographic is much more broad: anyone that likes to be entertained. Now, if you are only entertained by a strong story, go to the indy theater, hippie! Things that have a plot either get cancelled or bomb!
That's why, with its newest show, "Mickey and the Magical Map," Disneyland went light on story and heavy on the classic songs they know we all love so much, we don't care how one transitions from the other. (If you're counting, it took 3 paragraphs for me to get to the point. Didn't it seem like one though?)
Despite having its predecessors scar me both physically and emotionally, "Mickey and the Magical Map" had a lot to live up to. I'd started my morning off by enjoying a fine breakfast at Club 33. For something to make itself stand out in a day that starts out like that is quite a feat. Furthermore, I had risen at 5 AM to get to Anaheim by 7, so by the 12:40 show, I was...fatigued. Coincidentally, a favorite place of mine to nap is in a theater. I've heard the middle parts of Finding Nemo - The Musical at the Animal Kingdom and Disney's Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular at DCA are great. I wouldn't know.
I'm happy to report that I had my foot tapping, my fingers drumming, and my eyes open for the entire show. There was an electric feel to the whole thing that kept even me engaged for all 22 minutes of its run time. The girl screaming about Stitch in front of me also helped keep me away, but in a different way.
"Mickey and the Magical Map's" attempt at a story has Mickey reprising his role as Yensid's apprentice, way back from when the duo last appeared in 1940's Fantasia. Yensid, a poorly animated 3D (bring back the 2D! Oh, wait...) character that appears soley within a gigantic, three-tiered LCD screen, has a magical map with a missing, unpainted spot. Mickey tries to paint that spot, and by doing so, elicits King Louis, Ariel, Rapunzel, Mulan, Pocahontas, Tiana, and various other character to come out and sing their famous songs.
There's some great choreographed dancing, awesome, non-recorded singing, a cool bubble thing and a few awkward sequences where Mickey gets sucked into the map and looks like he's part of a 10-year-olds sub-par flash animation project.
Remember, despite all the negative stuff I just wrote (partly because it's more fun to dish out the disses then the praise), I walked out of the show excited and fulfilled. It has its weaknesses, but when, as a whole, the show entertains its viewers, I don't think its especially important just how it does that. "Mickey and the Magical Map" is energetic enough that you love every minute of the shoe while you're watching it. When it's over, you might be scratching your head a little, but don't over analyze it. I just did that for you.
Sunday, June 2, 2013
I'm ultra-competitive. I'm the best looking, smartest and most funny Disney guy out there (for the most prolific blog competition, I gave up on that a long time. I know that the last time I posted, it was during a month that begins with "M", and I'm not talking about this past May. Sorry, four loyal readers [See what I'm saying about the funny thing?!]). Asky anybody. That stranger eating food at the table next to him. Ask him, I don't care if he's mid bite. Ask. He'll tell you.
But I don't collect anything (accept admirers. [He strikes again!]), I'm not the Preston from "Blank Check" (and even if I was, those filmakers had a warped idea of what $1 million could do. And that kid was an idiot for not slapping a couple of more zeros on that bad boy), so I have only been to all of the domestic parks. That means I'm left with only one option to be Captain Disney: go to Club 33, the ultimate destination for Disney fans in looking for some serious bragging rights that don't require crossing an ocean.
The Club really is just your average fine dining experience (that's not an oxymoron, because I said it isn't). The food was average to above average, the service was the same (and it was a buffet, so most of it was self-serve) and the china and silverware were nice. The only thing that made it extra special was that I was in there and you weren't. Which is something I had a great time reminding those below me from the amazing balconies at Club 33.
We spoke at length with the manager, who's spiel seemed a little rehearsed, and even more with a cast member who seemed to have the authentic, enthusiastic answer to every question we threw at him. It's guys like him, whose name I didn't write down because I was too busy thinking of how to be funny, that keep the Disney customer service reputation alive.
I did not buy any alcohol, because it was $14 I'd rather spend on a souvenir that I wouldn't have to run to the toilet to dispose of an hour after consuming, which I did (buy the souvenir, that is). Maybe next time. Disneyland is still a dry park to this guy.
It's an amazing experience, but what makes it special is that it's a once in a lifetime kind of thing, (or ten years if you're as awesome as me.) It's nothing out of the ordinary as a dining experience. But you feel something extra special because you know that the walls surrounding you are soaked with history, and if they could talk, oh boy, the money that would cost Disney in mechanical costs would be amazing (I'm sure they'd tell some cool stories, too.)
It's kind of like seeing the Grand Canyon. You go, you do it, it's spectacular, and when it's over, it's over, which is usually in about 90 minutes. Just, this trip gets you mad bragging rights. Everyone can go to the Grand Canyon.
If you've got some time, check out these panoramas I took while in Club 33. There are so many awesome details, so zoom in, swipe around and check out every pixel.
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
That's what everyone has been saying about Fantasy Faire, the new area at Disneyland where you can have a meet and greet with the princesses or catch a retelling of one of their stories, told with heavy "theatrical" liberties (don't worry, that's a good thing.)
Well, those hipsters who swing (swung) dance can shut it. The new Fantasy Faire is a great addition to Disneyland, and turned an area I never used into something I just might visit every time I'm in the park. I'll go so far as to say I'm in the majority on this one, too.
Fantasy Faire doesn't officially open until March 12, but since I'm awesome (and dropped a ton o' cash on a premium annual pass), I was able to get a sneak preview of the new area that sits between Sleeping Beauty's castle and the entrance of Frontierland.
After getting in line to get a wristband, then getting in line to get into the new area and trying to get off a Vine of Figero (didn't happen), I sat down next to Dusty and Norman from MiceChat (a happy coincidence) and watched the retelling of Rapunzel, a 20-30 minute show put on by Rapunzel, Flyn Ryder, a pianist and two jesters, with the latter two wearing many different hats (and wigs) throughout the performance, playing parts ranging from Mother Gothel to Maximus the horse. It was all in a funny, self-aware way that kept the heart of the story while providing laughs for both young and old. It was a very entertaining show and I cannot wait to see the Beauty and the Beast show they also run in the theater. Way better than swing dancing!
I don't mind much the Pepto Bismal color of the Royal Theater, but I forsee a change coming. If we can whine enough to get Ariel's hair-do changed, we can complain till they change the color scheme to more naturally fit in with the rest of the village.
As for the rest of the village, the theming was spot on. It fit in like it was a part of the 1983 Fantasyland renovation. Disney seems to be all about theming and "guest experience"lately, (New Fantasyland and its one presently operating ride), and with the Fantasy Faire expansion, they don't disappoint (unless you're some crazy person that thinks Walt would have stuck with "tradition" and kept the CGP. I have a book full of quotes that proves you wrong, but hey, logic and proof, they suck sometimes [if you're disappointed by the theater, that's ok with me]).
Clopin's music box, a small box that plays music and rotates through scenes with a hand crank sitting by itself by the entrance to the princesses, is a nice little detail, featuring some familiar characters on the background of its many different, moving layers, and Figaro lazily swiping at the chirping caged bird next to him on a windowsill and fun little details and add to the thoroughness of the new area.
I finished off the experience by grabbing one the the three new twists on food they have, that are literally twists made from bagel dough. You can get strawberry, chocolate or garlic cheddar, and I got the garlic cheddar. It was delicious, and made for a great snack. I also got the apple freeze drink, which is the same thing they serve at the cones at Cars Land. It was still good. Count on long lines for this little cart in the future.
Having gotten my breath stinking to high heaven, I decided it was prime time to visit the princesses. My first stop was Ariel, who dug my shoes and asked if I swam from my hometown in NorCal, then to Cinderella, who also dug my shoes, and pointed out hers were of a similar ilk, and I told her they could have used some lime-colored laces, she said her fairy godmother would be assigned the task. Then onto Aurora, who dug my shirt, because it's blue and had her castle on it. Princess training 101: COMMENT ON THE OUTFIT. Got it?
Overall, I spent nearly two hours in the small area and had a great time. It's a perfect little area that will provide both live entertainment and a nice area for the princesses to call their own. I'll probably never visit them there again, but I know that there are millions of little girls out there who will be completely psyched and it will provide a more Disney-esque experience for them. That's a good thing, as is the whole area.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
|I got to see the original, up close and personal. It was amazing.|
Our host had put some thought into planning this, as he then took us from the three Burbank park plans, over to a video set up on a MacBook pro of Herb Ryman, or Herbie as our host affectionately referred to him as, discussing in an interview how he and Walt stayed up for a weekend drawing the original plan for Disneyland to show the bankers in New York to get funding for the park. Then, in a well-planned reveal, our host pulled back curtains to reveal that exact hand-drawn, large scale pencil rendering of the plans for Disneyland.
It was amazing. I almost cried. Here I was, standing in front of what was essentially the drawing that started it all. The Disney parks are my favorite aspect of the company besides Walt himself, and here in front of me was a piece of history that was made up equally of both. From the hands of a legendary imagineer and the mind of Walt himself, I almost didn't know how to take it all in. It was like meeting my idol.
The schematic itself was on a rolling wire-mesh wall, with many walls like it in front of it and behind. Hung on those walls were many other original Herb Ryman paintings and drawings, as well as other famous pieces or Disney park art. It was a lot to take in.
We were then shown some of the original silk-screened attraction posters. It was a funny coincidence that I had just started pinning these, and it was an experience to see all these, right there, in stacks. I wish I could have walked away with a couple.
On another wall, behind another curtain, were both the original concept paintings of the stretching room, and ones used on stage. Right there in front of my face, as creepy as ever. It was phenomenal.
After reluctantly pulling myself away from the room, we went to our hosts office which he shares with Vanessa Hunt, one of the two authors behind the new"Poster Art of the Disney Parks" book. I got to meet her, and was bummed I didn't have my copy with me to get signed. Alas it will not arrive until September and is completely sold out at the parks. It was enough just meeting her.
In the office, we were shown the software that the archivists and others use to access the digitized archives. Man, the pinning potential!
Also, sitting in a corner was Figment, an original from Epcot, all nonchalantly. That's just how it is when you're in a building with the most amazing Disney artifacts. Something that could be a spectacular piece on its own is no big deal. It's a weird, overwhelming feeling.
After getting a preview of the Poster art book, while standing in front of its author, we headed over to the WDI gift shop. If I we're a pinning man, I'd have dropped some serious dough on the WDI exclusive pins. Heck, I should have as someone who appreciates a nice ROI, but I'm not. Instead, I got myself two t-shirts: a classic WED Imagineering tee and a more modern, yet equally classic WDI shirt with the blueprint of Sleeping Beauty castle as a background. My girlfriend, in my opinion, got a much more interesting shirt, with an original Disneyland Date night flyer on it. Girls apparel is always more interesting than mens. Always.
It was then that we had to leave. It was a sad moment, but not so sad, because our connection to the place will always be around, and another tour is not impossible.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
That was the day, thanks to a friend of a friend, I toured Disney's Glendale campus, home to Imagineering (which I was not authorized to tour. They keep that place locked down like they're designing the next iPhone in there), and the Imagineering library, which holds some of the most iconic pieces of Disney history.
Jack Rabbit Slim's restaurant in "Pulp Fiction." A cool fact, but anyone can walk by and see that. Like the saying goes, it's what's on the inside that counts.
We met our host, and the first thing I noticed was a full size print of a stretching room painting from the Haunted Mansion. It was cool, but just a taste of what was to come. We then walked down a hallway with all the highlights from the Disney parks, both domestic and international.
Then it was off, through the new courtyard area, to the library. In that library, Imagineers go to research everything. I was told the library had nearly every National Geographic ever printed, so the Imagineers can get every natural detail right when creating their own environments. We went into the children's library, where, if you pulled out a book, chances were some historic imagineer had picked out the same book years ago. If you were lucky, the book's library slip would be the original, documenting all who had read it before you, maybe John Hench, maybe Bob Gurr. Maybe no one, because someone decided they wanted a centerpiece for their personal collection.
From there we walked by a model of Disneyland constructed of pieces you would receive month-by-month if you were subscribed to a certain magazine. There were a lot of pieces. We also passed a tiki-room animatronic. Herb Ryman's personal library, donated from his estate. It was cold in there, to keep the history fresh. Open up just about any book, and there you could fin Herb's personal notes.
It was off to another room past a Walt Disney World Mr. Toad ride vehicle, and into a room full of binders that had every single detail of every attraction, from the specific color a certain feature was painted. The time I could have spent in there nerding out. We were shown a revolving file cabinet that was so large, the building had to be built around it. All that in old-form, paper media. I was told it was getting digitized. It should be done by 2035. That year was made up.
Another thing we were shown was the room where they do some of that digital documenting, with, ironically, a camera that seemed to be from the Ansel Adams, completely non-digital era. What wasn't old school was the device they used to capture those images, which cost thousands of dollars and produced multi-gigabyte images.
But that was just the beginning... Stay tuned for part 2 of my report!
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
blog post with just about every original Tomorrowland poster from the early days of Disneyland.
I'd never seen many of these in person because I was too young to ever go on the rides, but some of these have been part of, what I feel, is the best memory that can be had at Disneyland: walking underneath the Disneyland Rail Road, through the tunnel with all the posters with the awaiting attractions, and walking into town square on Main St. USA.
Those posters may be just static pieces of paper, but what they represent is magic, fun, adventure, exploration, and everything that a day in the Disneyland can be.
I then, through my new fascination with Pinterest, unearthed the other classic posters, from the Matterhorn, to a Indiana Jones to a Peter Pan poster I'd never seen before.
Like I said in my post devoted to Pinterest, the website is enriching my knowledge of Disney History, and with that enrichment comes a huge amount of excitement.
Through Pinterest, I've discovered just how much of Disney's history can be told through visuals, but no other visuals make me feel more like I'm at Disneyland than these posters. They look the same on the screen as they do in real life, unlike everything else, from the castle to Mickey Mouse himself. They literally represent everything that is Disneyland. Many posters have remained unchanged over the many years, and the new ones are done in the same style. The colors are fantastic, the style is simple yet tells the whole story of the ride.
Disney knows this. If you're in the parks, you can pick up their new "Poster Art of the Disney Parks," or if your life is sad like mine and you don't frequent the parks, you can preorder it and get it in September.
I really hope that Disney starts making reprints of these more available. I know there's a kiosk you can order prints from in the Magic Kingdom. Though, getting your hands on a poster that's rare, it's that much more special.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
I started a personal Pinterest way back when it was a semi-challenge to get an invite. I pinned some stuff, gave it a chance, and then, like so many other one-trick social networks, I stopped giving it any attention.
Then I realized that a majority of the things that I was either posting or sharing on Main St. Monitor's facebook fan page (which you should like!) were photos. People love photos, I love photos, and Disney has so many amazing photos floating around the internet, just waiting to be appreciated. Facebook was a good place to share them, but not the best place.
So I sent an invitation to myself and made a Pinterest for Mr. MainSt Monitor. Unlike my first go at the mostly-female populated photo/idea sharing site, everything finally clicked.
There's such a vast archive of Disney images out there, from classic photos of the parks, to iconic posters, to early-stage sketches for animated features, that populating my pin boards these inaugural days of the MSM Pinterest have been a blast.
What I've also noticed is there seem to be hundreds of Disney blogs, podcasts, Facebook pages and Twitter account out there, but only a few boards and, besides Disney's official Pinterests, just about zero accounts dedicated solely to Disney (If I'm wrong, comment with the ones you've found, I'd love to follow and re-pin their stuff). So a lot of the things I've been posting have been my own original pins. Though the things I do re-pin are always fascinating.
It has also led to to further explore what hidden Disney gems the internet has to offer. Up until now, I've mostly been following current events, reading about Disney's rich history via old media, like paper books (Yes, they still exist).
People seem to be more receptive to what i share on Pinterest than anywhere else. A couple people like the things I put on the MSM Facebook Page, or click on the links I share on Twitter, and the interaction is a little uneven. From the moment I posted my first pin, people started repining and sharing my content. I haven't had a heavy flow of followers, but people on Pinterest seem to share more freely than on any other social media platform. I'm sure this is old news to anyone who's a casual to heavy user, but it's fascinating to me. No wonder businesses got on board as soon as possible.
Starting the Pinterest account has been a blast, but the best thing that's come out of it is the digging I do to populate the board. There's so many spectacular Disney visuals out there, and pinning them is my new mission.
Monday, July 16, 2012
Thursday, April 5, 2012
As someone who (used to) go to the parks of Walt Disney World regularly, at a certain point, the rides lose their appeal.
Speaking from the perspective of someone who hasn't been to a Disney park in a couple of months, I would love to go on Space Mountain or Tower of Terror or really any Disney ride right this moment.
But if you visit frequently, it becomes less about the thrill and more about just being there. I'm someone who likes to stay busy, so I need to do just a tad bit more than soak up the wonderful atmosphere that exists within the parks.
It doesn't matter if you can't draw (OK, it kind of does. If you do this, and your sketch ends up not even resembling the teacher's perfect, seemingly effortless masterpiece, it's only human to be frustrated.), the instructions are easy to follow, and you get a free, hand made (by your own hand) souvenir to take home and display on the fridge (or line your birdcage).
When I first started going to the Animation Academy at Hollywood Studios, I drew Woody. He looked like half his face had been exposed to some intense heat. But I got better.
Now, when I'm bored, I like pull up a "how to draw" tutorial and sketch one of my favorite Disney characters. It's relaxing, and there's nothing more rewarding than turning a blank page into one of your favorite characters.
Friday, June 10, 2011
|What welcomes you|
After walking from the normal ticket booth to the entrance of the Dine-In Theaters at the other end of the 24-screen theater, I hurried in, got my ticket torn, received a weird look from the ticket taker (it wasn’t because my fly was down: I’d pulled it up at that point), walked in, sat in my assigned seat, and took in my setting.
The seats were much larger than your typical theater recliner, accompanied by a small, bar-esque table in front of you that is just far enough away from your seat to make eating a dish a comfortable activity, all of it lit with some classic movie theater rope-light .
After sitting for about 10 minutes, I pressed my waiter button (which all restaurants should have. I’m a guy who needs around 8 refills a meal, and I’m too passive to just ask, so a “waiter, come hither!” button would be perfect for me), and eventually the waiter came hither, sat next to me in the empty seat, and took my small order of a popcorn and a Diet Coke.
A couple minutes later, he delivered, and I started eating at an extremely rapid pace so I could take advantage of having the waiter refill my popcorn. I didn’t need to try to inhale my drink because that’s a natural thing for me (technically so is eating a lot, but an entire large popcorn, that took some Kung Fu Panda-like concentration.)
|My "meal" a Diet and popcorn|
Overall, the waiters walking through the theater, taking and delivering orders, was not as distracting as it could be. Neither was the brighter-than-usual area lighting, and the air must have been circulated in the theater better than the non-dine in theaters, because unlike when the person behind me orders a hot dog with everything, and the person in front of me orders nachos con jalapeño, thus making the theater stink like a flamingo corral, the other-people’s-food-always-smells-like-a-garbage-can problem was not a factor.
What was a problem was going through the menu, getting an order, getting a bill, paying it and the distraction all of that caused. I’m a guy who likes to be completely immersed in a film at the theaters, and generally am. That’s why I’m willing to drop so much dough at the box office every month. The things that should have been the obvious distractions were no problem, but the Dine-In experience still has its flaws. If you’re serious about your movies, then skip it. Dining in at a movie is a novelty, and like all novelties that have to do with the film going experience (3D, Drive Ins, Sing-alongs), it’s more distracting than anything. If you want to see a movie, than do that and only that.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Unfortunately, if the event doesn’t happen on a Wednesday or Thursday, I’m out of luck, because the first priority assigned to me as a CP is to work. Work I do, all day for five days a week. I’ve been able to squeeze a few CP Alumni speaker series events into the mix, and I went Busch Gardens Thursday, but generally, I see an event that interests me, I look at my schedule and go “Oh well, can’t do it, I work that day.”
Not this week! As aforementioned, I went on a the Bush Gardens CP housing event and experienced Cheetah Hunt (and it’s 90 minute queue), then the following day, I was lucky enough to go on a backstage tour of Expedition Everest. Backstage tours: this is why I did the College Program, people!
It was awesome. Totally worth waking up at 5:30 in the AM after a day of Busch Gardens excitement, and before a 5:15 PM-3:15 AM shift.
A small group of us was vanned over to Animal Kingdom, and we drove around the massive outer circumference of the Walt Disney World Resort’s largest theme park, square footage wise. It smelled terrible, like there was a bunch of animals back there or something...
We then parked behind the Everest peak, and were taken to meet our tour guides in front of the ride. They introduced themselves, and then started the tour. We first walked into the mountain range, and it was spectacular. Well, to me at least. To anyone else, it was a bunch of steel beams, cement blocks, and a cement slab floor. I was fascinated by the intertwining steel tubes and bars, holding up the mountain range itself, the coaster’s track, and the walkways around the track. The three never touch, and are all separate structures. They informed us the mountain was built around the track. Then there was a fourth structure: one specifically to hold up the massive Yeti.
The ghastly Himalayan primate was the next stop on our tour, and seeing the beast up close with the lights on was worth the price of admission (the price was $0.00, not to demean to tour, just to be funny). The thing was massive, its face horrifying, even in a well lit environment. They explained to us how the fur weighs a ton, is made of up actual animal fur, and can be completely removed to expose the audioanimatronic skeleton. We also learned that the attraction itself cost $90 million, and the Yeti alone was $20 million. And it hasn’t been fully operational since 2009. The sweeping motion it executed every time a train went by was too much for its foundation, causing so much force it was tearing its roots out of the ground. To fix the beast, they would have to shut down the attraction. To shut down to attraction would mean a loss of five to eight thousand guests in the park a day, and they do not want that. A complete ride rehab is rumored to be happening next year, but as of now, it’s just a rumor.
We then left the good old Yeti behind to walk to 14 flights of stairs to the ride-switch, where the train stops and then proceeds to go backwards. This provided a beautiful vista of all three of the parks, as Expedition Everest is the tallest structure at the Walt Disney World resort, just a wee bit taller than the Tower of Terror, and just a wee bit shorter than what would lawfully require it to have a blinking light at the top to warn planes, and ruin the show.
The detail of the surrounding area of the ride switch, with Yeti foot prints, the broken track, and the prayer flags was a sight to see up close.
Everything that happened after that was much more informative, much less breathtaking, and not really worth mentioning. They showed us the hidden Mickey’s in the queue, talked about all the inside jokes and references in Asia and in the queue, and gave us a ton of other insider information that I’m sure i’ll bore whoever’s in line with me the next time I partake in Expedition Everest. I’ll spare you, no worries. Especially since you’ve read 900 words deep into this post. Good job.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
But what it lacks in attractions, hours, and age, it makes up for in theming. The other three parks are okay when it comes to theming: Epcot with its World Showcase, Hollywood Studios with its Sunset Boulevard and the Magic Kingdom with just about ever land within its boundaries. But nothing can really compare to what imagineer Joe Rohde did with Walt Disney Worlds largest park, square-acreage-wise.
Being the newest park has its advantages, which is clearly seen in the detail of almost every square foot in the park. Walking up to the entrance gate, if you look down, you will notice the pattern of a tree. Walking through the gates and onto Discovery Island, you'll notice the hidden animal exhibits that hint to new guests at what they are about to experience. Then, once on Discovery Island, you'll notice the gigantic Tree of Life, which with its sheer size is impressive from a distance, but with its intricately detailed roots, is even more impressive from close up.
Go through the queues of Expedition Everest and Kali River Rapids in Asia, and you'll be wowed with the amazing features that surround you and set up the story you'll fully experience once on board the attraction.
Expedition Everest takes you through what feels like a classic Nepalise courtyard, then takes you through what a small, home made-feeling museum dedicated to the Yeti you're about to encounter. With its sculptures, displays, artifacts and interactive features such as the bells that can be heard ringing throughout the queue, the whole experience perfectly frames the main feature of the roller coaster and almost outshines the brief ride you're about to experience.
Almost the same thing can be said about Kali River Rapids. The queue is amazing, with its different areas setting up the whole story behind the ride. With it's fallen, Asian themed statues at the forefront of the queue, accompanied by the sound of chainsaws roaring in the distance, the clash of history and destruction theme is set up. Then you walk through its gorgeously themed queue, with a big statue of an cat greeting you, looking to be thousands of years old. There are the Bollywood posters, the old plates, the colorful chandeliers, the cobra fountain and the carpeted ceilings.
|The amazing theming of the Tree of Life|
Head over to Africa and all the shops and restaurants are housed in what looks to be an authentic African village. And unlike Frontierland and Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom, that's all you can see. There's nothing to distract from the story the imagnineers created for you.
And of course there's the Tree of Life. With it's hundreds of animals cleverly carved into the roots and trunk of the enormous tree, it epitomizes amazing theming.
With all this, one of the aforementioned faults of Disney's Animal Kingdom is really one of its strengths: its young age. It was built in a more modern age, with more resources available, and thus it feels like a newer, better, more shiny thing.
Next time, when you're walking around Dinoland, Africa, Asia or Discovery island, take a couple of minutes to observe the excellent theming of Walt Disney's World's youngest parks, and appreciate the most well themed, and possibly most "Disney" of the parks at Disney World.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Generally, when I talk about how I love just about anything Disney Parks, I'm talking about the Disneyland version. Well, lucky for me, Liberty Square's Haunted Mansion was built at just about the same time as New Orleans Square's, and the attractions are virtually the same. I may go as far as to say the World's version is slightly better, with it's haunted stair case scene. Now that it has the new hitchhiking ghosts and interactive queue, it's almost definitely the superior of the two manors.
Yesterday, I finally had some time off from my job at the Magic Kingdom, so what did I do? I went back to the Magic Kingdom. They've been getting quite the array of new features, so it made the most sense to go back to the place I spend 40+ hours a week.
First off, I went to visit Magician Mickey. More on that later.
Then, I went over to Liberty Square to visit the Haunted Mansion. Along with half the park.
One of the criticisms of the new interactive queue is that there's hardly anyone ever in the queue for the Mansion, seeing as it has an omnimover system, thus resulting in an extremely high rider capacity. Not the day I went. The stand-by wait time was posted at 50 minutes, which I ignored, because as the future often proves, it was a little exaggerated.
What I found in the interactive queue was great. The touch-and-play instruments, the misty organ, the bookcase and the interactive poetry were great. Also, Madam Leota's living tombstone was very creepy, and thus fantastic.
My only negatives words on the subject would be that it was really more of an area than a queue. It was nice seeing everything in one fell swoop, but it would have been nice to see it while I was actually waiting in line, like "Space Mountain's: and "Soarin's" games. There was a tone of boring, chain-linked queue as a predecessor to the interactive part that could have been livened up.
Then, there was the other part of the Haunted Mansion that I came for, at the exact opposite end of the attraction: the new hitchhiking ghosts. I'll get to the point: they're amazing. I've always pantomimed petting or elbowing the previous, static hitchhiking ghosts, and now they do the same (kind of) thing to me! I went on a tour of the mansion twice, and I was a little annoyed that both times I got the bearded ghost, who both times put his beard on my face. The other ghosts seem to switch the heads of the guests it sits in between, and I don't know what the third one did. But it was cool, whatever it did.
People were raving about both the queue and the new hitchhiking ghosts, both seeming to be a huge hit. I though the imagineers did a great job enhancing a classic without changing it too much and respecting its legacy.
Have you been in the new queue or been in the company of a new hitchhiking ghost? How was your experience?
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Now don't get me wrong, it's not just another day when you can go on Rock N' Roller coaster or see the gorgeous golfball Spaceship Earth, or you get to see a castle transform into a rocket and then take off. Really, just seeing a castle kind of makes that day a wee-bit more special than a typical day.
I'm going to be honest though, that pressure of a vacation, that sense of urgency, it really makes you look at things differently. I'm not saying I'm bored, because I'm not. I love having a main gate pass to all the parks here at Walt Disney World, but it's a different type of love than when you've got a Key to the World, and you're here with your family. It's different, not different in a way that is better or worse (maybe a little better, but not in a "I'm so negative about my current situation" kind of way), just different.
It could just be the fact that I'm spending 9 months at the U.S.'s most popular vacation destination, and I'm neither on vacation, nor is it a destination. It's a reality, not a vacation built on fantasy. That doesn't mean it isn't fun, though.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
For many people, experiencing something in such a repetitive manner could cause complete disgust and disdain for whatever that reoccurring thing is.
|The Main Street Electrical Parade|
Sure, the shows aren't as spectacular to me the fifth time as they were the first time, but they still have that shimmer of magic that only Disney can provide.
The fact that in a small way, all this makes me feel cool, is a little questionable, but that's ok. I'm a Disney nerd, I mean, you are reading my blog about Disney right now, so what do you expect?
Friday, January 21, 2011
Well, most of it was about resting. We had to be at the Commons apartment complex down the street by 9:45 in the a.m., though here we just go by military time.
|Getting pictures taken with Genie and Co.|
Then me and my roommates got to experience the bus ride to Walmart. It took about 15 minutes, depending on how long you stop in the Publix parking lot. We got all our food and such, and then we were on our way back, this time with an elongated stop at the Vista Way apartment complex. We finally got home, and just relaxed for a little bit. I even took a nap. Exciting stuff, and I’m sure you’re super excited to read about. Lucky lucky.
I decided to try out the pool later and do some laps. It was freezing, which was good for me, and bad for the people who wanted to play instead of work out in it. Sadly, it wasn’t cold enough detract them from getting in my way.
|Throw yo hands up, the welcome party at Vista|
My roommate, Jacob, then took us over to his family’s timeshare, where they had authentic Gumbo waiting for us and freshly ironed shirts, so we would be prepared for Traditions. It was a great time, and the night ended with a group sing along of “Just Can’t Wait to be King” and “Hakuna Matata.”
Now it’s almost midnight, and I’ve got to get up at 5:30 to get on a bus no later than 6:45 to participate in Traditions, where I will get my job location assignment, name tag, and most importantly, my Disney ID, which can get me into all the Parks here, for FREE. Life will be good.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
|Patterson, where I live|
Then we arrived at Vista, and got to wait in line and meet some more DCP members, all of which lived in either Texas or to the East of it. Not many people from the West coast here, I guess they all went with the familiar. Not me, I want to learn as much about the domestic Disney parks as possible.
Then we got to the front of the line, signed some papers, then signed some more papers, then some more. We got to choose where we lived, and Livingston and I chose the newest apartment complex, Patterson, in a three room apartment, so we have four other room mates. Well we should have four others, but one never got here, so the first person Livingston and I met, Jacob from Louisiana, gets to have the room to himself, for now. Lucky him.
It was back to the busses it was back to Vista at 12:30, so in between we ate lunch and unpacked, which consisted of putting our bags in our rooms and taking off.
We got on a bus and it was off to the casting building, where I learned that I will be working outdoor quick service food and beverage at the big kahuna, The Magic Kingdom. Our fingerprints were taken, we got instructions for the next couple of days, and finally got a PhotoPass picture taken to commemorate the busy, monumental day.
|The casting building, where I spend a good portion of the day|
It’s been busy, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been exciting, even with the monotony. The day after tomorrow, I get to participate in Traditions, where I will get my Disney ID and name tag. Then, on Saturday, training starts and the whole thing gets rolling!
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
|The original plan for EPCOT: Want to hear about it?|
Having come back home, I encounter people almost on a daily basis who are curious about the program, making me a sort of ambassador for the program, which thus far I’ve only been accepted into, having not experienced a day of the actual thing.
My most bare-boned response to their inquiry: “It’s a work study program, emphasis on the work.” I feel like a chump explaining it to people, because I only know what I’ve read, so I’m sort of giving them a cocktail of plagiarism and summarization.
I’ve also found that people have a preconceived idea about the program, that it’s more exclusive than it is, that there’s more “college” involved in the College Program, that it’s in Disneyland, even after I’ve said “It’s at Walt Disney World” a dozen times, or that for some reason, I’m going to ditch the resort first thing and head over to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter as soon as I can, because allegiance means nothing.
Eventually I explain to my lucky listeners everything I know about what it entails, to which they usually exclaim “that sounds amazing!” or “that’s so you!” and I say “Yes it does/is,” because I’m a little literal and extremely sarcastic, but I try to sound sincere (I swear, I can turn it off for on the job customer service).
If my audience is fortunate, I then will go on to either explain the history of EPCOT, or discuss with myself how it’s a stepping stone on my career path with Disney.
What all this has helped me discovered about myself is that I’m tired of explaining the program from the perspective of a prospective cast member. I want to do this, and I want it bad.
As with every thing, the closer the day comes, the further away it seems. But it really isn’t that far away, and when I think about it, there’s quite a bit to do before the important day of the 18, like say, booking my hotel room for the night before.
Better get on that.
Friday, December 10, 2010
|Disney merchandise for rides that no longer exist|
Retro, or vintage, Disney is extremely trendy right now. It could be because of the down economy, which some say causes people to look to the past for comfort. This is not the case for me because I have yet to join the workforce and fully realize what a hole we're in, but I still look with admiration towards the things of Disney past, and Disney seems to be quite aware of this. Or it's that Disney also has released some exclusive merchanidse to celebrate their 55th anniversary.
With their Disney gallery, one of the first things you stumble upon when walking under the Disneyland Rail Road's berm, models of the original Disneyland, sketches of past Disneyland attractions are displayed along with paintings of what made Disneyland iconic when it opened in 1955. In the store, you can buy the prints, take them home, put them on your wall, and be constantly reminded of Disneyland past.
Or you can buy the $75 vintage pin/lanyard combo, designed after all the original Disneyland merchandise. Head down to D-street and you can buy retro-Matterhorn, Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, or Flying Saucer t-shirts.
Maybe you're not at the parks. You could go to the Disney store, where their bags are modeled after the classic versions of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, or pop in one of the Walt Disney Treasures DVD's. If you've got a Wii, you could play the new Epic Mickey video game, where Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Mickey's predecessor, is a main character involved in the gameplay. The creator of the game, Warren Spector, laboriously went though the Disney archives while researching the game.
|New merchandise, old look|
Or you could just wait for the Jon Favreau directed "Magic Kingdom" film, about a family trapped in Disneyland over night that discovers the rides come to life when the sun goes down. In a recent interview with Geek Time Radio, Favereau discussed how he looked to Walt's original Disneyland and vision for inspiration:
"I've got to watch every Disney property. I started with 'Steamboat Willy' working my way all the way up. I really want to focus on the classic stuff like 'Dumbo,' 'Steamboat Willy,' all the early black and white Mickey Mouse cartoons -- all the Fantasyland stuff. I think there was something timeless about what Walt [Disney] did, and I want to explore, not just Disneyland, but Walt’s vision of Disneyland. If you look at his concept art it diverges a little bit from what the park turned into over time; but if you look at his original concept art and really explore what that world is, I think there is something really fun and magical to be done there," Favereau said.
Or you could watch one of Walt's ultimate pet projects: "Fantasia"on BluRay, a format on which it was recently released, or watch the Sherman brother's documentary, "The Boys," also having been recently released for home viewing.
I've never been on the Flying Saucers, nor was I around for Oswald, or the opening of Disneyland. With Disney's new marketing scheme subtlety focusing on the Disneyland of the past, it's left me longing for the old days. Those old days, that for a young person like me, would be completely new.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
|The Redwood Creek Challenge trail original sketch|
One of those new things was the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail in the Golden State area of California Adventure. I'd been to it once before, when the park opened, but I skimmed it more than I embraced it.
This last trip, I took some time and really explored the whole Disney's-version-of-a-jungle-gym in full, and guess what? It was great. I've always loved gigantic play structures, probably because that's the only size that has ever been able to accomodate me.
Realistically, anytime anyone thinks about a jungle gym, they think small children and ball pits with hidden surprises. A fair assumption that is...generally. At the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, there are none of those pesky height, age, or weight limits (unless you want to ride the tire-ziplines, then you're out of luck).
The huge towers with webs or rope connection them and rickety bridges were almost more fun for me than they were for little kids. Running up and down them at top speed (probably a little dangerous), I whisked by many youngsters creeping up the webs with a look of extreme caution on their faces.
It was great being able to let my inner kid out again, having a playground that was big enough for anyone to play on again. And to think, I skipped the area because I thought it was geared towards younger people!
Next time you're in California Adventure, you've got some free time, and you want to experience what it's like to be a kid again in a more first hand point of view, then take a hike down Highway 49, and pull over at The Redwood Creek Challenge trail. Because you know you miss that good ol' playground.