July 25, 2016

From the Galaxy to South Dakota

Last week was quite the Disney news week! Returning from my not so long absence, I discovered that Disney finally announced the transformation of Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in California Adventure into a Guardians of The Galaxy attraction. The rumor first broke due to the insights of WDWMagic's own WDW1974 aka Spirit. Long before other bloggers claimed it as their own, I might add.

The old rugged cross.

Where was I? South Dakota. It wasn't a vacation, but I was able to take it a few of the sites after our work was done. Beautiful land even though we saw the harshness of it as well... in the middle of 100 degree plus days. 

The coming sunset.

Carhenge. Really.

 Mt. Rushmore. 

After being gone, it was good to come home to my loving wife. And air conditioning...

(Photographs copyright Mark Taft.)

July 12, 2016

Mourn An Epcot Legacy

This is an absolutely brilliant piece of art, at once depicting what once made Epcot great and what caused its downward spiral. RobidaFlats, the artist found on the WDWMagic Discussion Boards crafted this slice of excellence. Just a look at what is marked on the gravestones tells a story: Journey into Imagination, Horizons, World of Motion, Maelstrom, and Wonders of Life. Truly, with Frozen Ever After replacing Maelstrom and Guardians of the Galaxy rumored for Universe of Energy, what was will never be again.

(Art copyright RobidaFlats.)

July 8, 2016

Broken America

Orlando. Baton Rouge. Dallas. San Bernadino. Aurora. These are just the cities on our country, not even looking outside at the world- and I can't list them all. It goes on and on, and the senseless violence  never seems to end. Today, it hit me hard as I woke up to the news.

Is this the world that cries out for peace but practices hatred and violence? I guess so. 

But who do we go to in our time of need? Who do our prayers reach? As a nation, we have intentionally removed God from as many places as possible. Schools, government, business- and that list goes on and on as well.

Gods' great gift of love to a people He created is Jesus Christ- his son given sacrificially over the death for the payment of sin. All that is evil, God paid the price for on our behalf. We concurrently reject Him and yet cry out for Him to do something when our world is falling apart. 

Are we like the ancient peoples of Israel who rejected Him and instead made false gods out of wood, stone and metal? Absolutely. Is He still waiting for us to truly turn to Him and turn away from our sin? Absolutely? Will our nation do it? Maybe. Will you do it? 
It all starts one person at a time.

Vintage Disneyland Paris Photos from 1998

The year was 1998, and it was our first (and I thought only ever) visit to Disneyland Paris. My wife and I had saved quite a bit of money to take our growing family to go see our relatives in California. Then, in a surprise move by British Airways, they opened up the Denver to London market by announcing $99 one way to London. Of course, we quickly called them, explained the opportunity, and waved "Farewell" to California but "Hello" to London and Paris. 

A newly opened and freshly planted Parisian Storybookland.

It was the adventure of a lifetime for our 8, 12, 13, and 14 year old kids. It was for us as well as we love to travel but had always seen a trip to Europe as something that financially would never happen. Of course, God had different plans. It was going to be very tight financially to do this, but due to a windfall business situation, my Mom and Dad sent us a few thousand dollars as a gift! We were on our way to Europe on Delta, who had matched the fares of the competition.

The classic Discoveryland attraction.

Amazing tales were the order of the trip! I won't go into any details here that matter to folks outside our family, but suffice it to say, for Americans in London and Paris, our ten days flew by with one discovery after another. 

Given we had our kids with us, we kept things very family friendly with a few rules as we planned: One museum a day and/or one church a day when we visited either, as many famous kid-friendly sights (Tower of London, etc.) as possible, and for dear old Dad in particular, a trip to Disneyland. Not that the family minded!

It all went off without too much of a hitch- that is until a huge storm made it very difficult to get across the English Channel to France. Eventually, we did about 3 am in the morning but at the cost of losing our lunch reservation at the cheapest restaurant at the Eiffel Tower by an hour. (Still a splurge, though! We did get to the top of the Tower later in the week, standing in line next to a family from Cuba. What a treat to meet so many people from different parts of the world.)

The three oldest kids got to ride Space Mountain with Dad. 
The youngest was two inches too short, 
so he settled for Autopia with Mom.

As a Disney park freak, I loved absolutely everything about Disneyland Paris! The incredible and unique Le Visionarium was a favorite as well as the dragon in the castle's dungeon, the stunning new Space Mountain, the Nautilus, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and my favorite version of Pirates of the Caribbean. It's an old family joke now that the castle was "boxed up" for repairs, but at the time I was a bit disappointed.

We all returned home happily exhausted. Mom and Dad determined to return to Europe without the kids one day, and we would do so in 2007 to celebrate our 25th anniversary. (Trip report here.) Nor did we realize we would do it again in 2013 and 2014 due to a business trip I needed to take. (Oops- I just realized I never did finish that series on our 2014 trip to Switzerland and the South of France. No Disneyland Paris at all then.) Together, that's meant three trips to Disneyland Paris in three different seasons and in three different decades. God never ceases to amaze me... 

The kids are much older now with families of their own, but they still talk about this trip! As do we with very fond memories and a few laughs.

(Photographs copyright Mark Taft.)

July 7, 2016

Beach Break!

Long day and long night ahead. Being we just came back from our vacation, I can't take more time off. But that doesn't mean I can't imagine...

July 6, 2016

Look Away

This photo from an ad for a local boxing club caught my eye. This guy really looks like a friend of mine who lives far away. What I like most about this photo is the determined "Don't Screw with Me" look on his face. It's like how I feel this morning. 

July 5, 2016

The Loaded Gun

Gun control at its finest and  most appropriate! You just have to love a guy who had the guts to tell it like it is. Overtime I go through a metal detector - and that includes the airport,  Disneyland and Walt Disney World- I want to remember this quote.

June 29, 2016

A Whole New World Instead of A Disney Vacation

Who needs high prices, long lines, overpriced rooms and those Walt Disney World attractions that seem to go down regularly? Not us!

We ditched Walt Disney World (and, yes, Disneyland, actually) in favor of a beautiful week that didn't require advance reservations to ride a Frozen redo of an old attraction that long needed an upgrade.

Where did we venture? Beautiful Northern California- home to world famous sights and the great cuisine of San Francisco, the wines of Napa and Sonoma, and absolutely lovely, breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. Not a regret in sight.

Few kids, quiet restful mornings, relaxing excursions, great meals, and evenings of water views and charming villages in front of the setting sun. Will we go to Disney again? Sure. But not for quite a while. There's  just a great big beautiful world to see.

(Photograph copyright Mark Taft.)

June 28, 2016

Disneyland's Pineapple Whip Poster

As a follow up to yesterday's post... Deep from my Imagineering files: a fairly rare attraction poster for Disneyland's Enchanted Tiki Room, or really, the Dole Pineapple Whip. Who can resist this delicious treat on a hot summer day? Just head toward Adventureland

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

June 27, 2016

Dinner in the Enchanted Tiki Room

Had Walt Disney's original plans come to pass for his park, the very lovely Enchanted Tiki Room would have come to life as a sit down restaurant in Adventureland. For the day, this would have been quite the unique experience. Imagine sitting under in the beautiful Hawaiian inspired room enjoying a meal while the Tiki Birds serenade. The concept art shown is a fairly rare piece as it portrays tables placed inside the room and guests walking around in it. 

Personally, I'm quite pleased the Disneyland Imagineers went an entirely  different direction. Had they made this a high end restaurant, only select number of paying guests would have been able to experience the earliest incarnation of Audio-Animatronics. As a continual show, Disneyland guests had a chance to see the latest and greatest Imagineering technology without having to pay more.

A more thrilling show could be found in Adventureland anyway. A full on South Seas revue at the famous Tahitian Terrace- complete with hula girls and fire dancers providing more excitement than a group of machine birds could ever compete with!

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

June 26, 2016

In All It's Glory

The beauty of the ocean! Only an all-powerful, creative, and loving God could design such a gorgeous thing! It's always been my perfect place for prayer, reflection, and for feeling His presence.

(Photograph copyright Mark Taft.)

June 25, 2016

Tebow Stands for Orlando

Victims of the Orlando shooting may have been shocked by the latest person to come and show some love: Tim Tebow. One of his old friends, Rodney Sumter Jr., a bartender at the Pulse nightclub, was shot several times and ended up in the hospital. Once Tim heard the news, he cut his vacation short and took off for a visit. Once again, the light of the love of Jesus shines through the way this man lives his life. 

(Photograph copyright Instagram.)

June 24, 2016

Mickey's Mad Mouse Ride

Blast from the past: Here's a fairly nice piece of Imagineering concept art from the D23 calendar for 2010, Mickey's Mad Mouse

The year was 1976, so long before the idea of California Adventure was misconceived by Michael Eisner, Robert Iger, and company. Imagineer Ward Kimball designed this funky little mad mouse coaster for an indoor dark ride attraction celebrating Mickey Mouse and his black and white cartoons. 

Think DCA 1.0's ugly Mulholland Madness fully fleshed out with a story and great indoor special effects. It wasn't Frozen Ever After, but it certainly wasn't Primeval Whirl either. Nor was it Goofy's Sky School. Too bad it never made it off the drawing boards.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

June 23, 2016

A Beautiful Deluge

In the midst of a difficult day, God lets it rain to remind me of His faithfulness. (And my little grandson and I run outside and play in the backyard doing our rain dance!) Thank you, LORD Jesus!

June 21, 2016

Bathroom Humor

Potty talk! Well, in this case, signs that help direct those needing to use the facilities. With all the debate on public restroom use and who can go where, I thought it was time for some humor.

These were sent by a friend. I did not post the ones that were pretty off color- you can find those on your own. :)

It's time we all laugh a bit, isn't it?

June 20, 2016

Silly Old Bears at the Jamboree

Zeke, Zeb, Ted, Fred, and Tennessee. The Five Bear Rugs- usually with Gomer on the piano, and little baby bear Oscar along for the ride. The centerpiece act of the one and only original Country Bear Jamboree, a Florida Magic Kingdom opening day attraction.

When I was in high school, my father worked with a man who had "inside" connections at Disneyland. This guy ended up arranging a brief behind the scenes tour for us. I was thrilled that we were able to go behind stage at the wonderful Marc Davis designed Country Bear Jamboree! It had just opened a couple of years ago, replacing the Indian Village. 

Bear Country and the Jamboree 
coming soon to Disneyland.
A Marc Davis classic replacing the Indian Village.

We went in through some back entrance and headed toward the rear of the stage. Unexpectedly, I looked up and saw the backside of Henry, the master of ceremonies. He was huge! I could hear the show going, and I could even see through a very, very small opening, a slice of the theater. 

After hanging out for awhile, we headed out of the park. I never will forget this once in a lifetime opportunity! For a long time Disneyland fan, it was quite a gift from my Dad to set this all up. Another in a long list of great and personal Disney thrills.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)