September 25, 2016

September 22, 2016

Lava Craters of Hawaii

From the incomparable photographer and Disney park lover, Len Yokoyama. The lava craters of Hawaii make for a stunning photo. Stay tuned for Len's trip report on the Disneyland Resort...

(Photograph copyright Len Yokoyama.)

September 20, 2016

Notable and Quotable: Charles Finney


"Everyone has a great responsibility to win as many people as possible to Christ. This is the great privilege and the great duty of all disciples of Christ... I fear I must say that the great mass of people professing to be believers seem never to have been impressed with this truth. The work of saving souls is something they feel they can leave to ministers. Many believers suppose it belongs only to those who are called to preach the gospel as a life work. They fall to realize that all are called to preach the gospel, that the whole life of every believer is to be a proclamation of the glad tidings."

Charles Finney

September 19, 2016

Escape to Disneyland or California Adventure?

A day's escape to Disneyland or California Adventure? Which would you choose? Why?

I'm sitting here thinking about how much fun it would be to treat myself to a day at one of those Disney parks, and I really can't decide. So, maybe I'll just share a few thoughts and wait for some opinions from those who read this blog.

On the pro Disneyland side- It's "Walt's Park". You can almost feel his presence as you walk around. Not literally, of course, but in a sense of his influence, his love for the project and dedication to the craft of theme park design. I know when I enter the park, there's a more gentle, leisurely pace to my stride, and I don't run from attraction to attraction. I tend to look around more, take in the sights and listen to the sounds that "say Disneyland" to me: The whistle of the train, the sounds of the Disneyland band, the honk of Main Street's vehicles, and the toot of the Mark Twain. (Of course as nighttime falls, walking through the castle while "When You Wish Upon a Star" is playing makes for a very sublime and sometimes even a very melancholy experience.)


Imagineer Marc Davis' unused Pirates art.

The wealth of attractions in this little park offer something for just about everyone, but there's a couple that are enduring classics.  In addition to the attractions referenced above, a visit to Disneyland is incomplete without Pirates of the Caribbean, the Matterhorn Bobsleds, It's A Small World, and at least one of the dark rides found in Fantasyland. Lately, I always seem to be in the park when Jack Skellington takes over the Mansion. I miss seeing the original!

Honestly, as much as I love so many of the more modern day attractions, (I'm a huge Indiana Jones fan!) only one of the "post-Walt" rides give me the same classic Disney feel: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. It's a testament to the heart and soul of Imagineer Tony Baxter and his strong understanding of what made Disneyland an enduring love of kids of all ages the world over.


A nice little nook to explore inside the castle.

Here's the problem not living close by anymore. I always have to do a "best of" kind of visit now. Or at least, I just to may sure I see what's new, since I never know when I'll be back. When I am not short on time, I love wandering into places guests rush by on their way to the mountains: The Main Street Cinema, the Firehouse, and many other nooks and crannies in each land you just have to find for yourselves. (It's something that was missed when designing  Florida's Magic Kingdom but rediscovered later at the incredible Disneyland Paris.) 

Food plays a lesser role, and a simple box of hot popcorn, a mint julep in New Orleans Square, chocolate licorice, and a cool Dole-whip in the Summer are my snacks of choice. I could spend the day wandering around, treats in hand, watching the crowds. The only exception is the Mint Julep. It just demands that I sit on the patio in New Orleans Square and listen to some live jazz! Especially since I can no longer do it on the Mark Twain under the stars. (I'd trade Fantasmic for that opportunity anytime.)

(By the way, you'll notice I'm using concept art for this post. My friend Len Yokoyama is sending me his California trip report, so I'll just wait so you can see some incredible photos instead of my amateur ones!)


The great new entrance.

As wonderful as Disneyland is, there's times I just want to go to its younger sister, Disney California Adventure. What once was a relative disaster on opening day has now become a pretty terrific but very different park all its own. The park had its serious flaws. In fact, it was almost a reverse of Disneyland: there were so many little smaller charming attractions, the "E Ticket" rides and must-sees were clearly afterthoughts or at least missing on opening day. Soarin' Over California was the exception.

I really loved the elegant Seasons of the Vine film and going into the beautiful California Zephyr train for a treat. The hidden trail woven in throughout Grizzly Rapids and the small path by the winery called for exploration.  

Nowadays, the success of the park has changed its feel. In place of the old strip mall entrance which was empty 15 years ago, the charming Buena Vista Street should be a place to find the guests stopping to take it all in. It's chock full with the layers of detail that used to only be found in the other park. However, it's really an early morning mob scene as families of all types rush to Cars Land for their ride on Radiator Springs Racers, the new champion of Disney attractions. 

The change is not without solid reasoning behind it! I'd argue it is the first undeniable home run by the Imagineers since the original Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Walt Disney World. And the land surrounding this iconic attraction is every bit as spectacular as the attraction it hosts. My morning in this park begins with a quick ride on Racers followed by breakfast at Flo's. On the patio of course, while I watch the cars zip around the banked turn of the track. It's an almost otherworldly experience. I am no longer in the middle of Orange County. In this writer's not always so humble opinion, Cars Land accomplishes here what New Orleans Square does for guests at Disneyland: It provides a total atmospheric experience which makes the suspension of the current world a reality. Yes, it is that good! It will be the hallmark for which this crop of Imagineers is one day celebrated. 


The old Condor Flats Airfield- hone of Soarin' Over California.

Soarin' Over California is another must-do for me. It's as close to flawless as any of the original opening day attractions could have been - which isn't saying much looking at the slate of what was premiered. I also always ride the Little Mermaid and Monsters Inc

Mermaid? Yes. Not because its so excellently well done but because of my great love for the film and its music. (OK, and because Ursula is my favorite Disney bad guy!) The attraction does have its strengths- the Under the Sea segment and the giant Ursula are the highlights- yet I almost always walk off the attraction's clamshells thinking about what should have been. This could have been and should have been on par with Haunted Mansion, but it is still work the time spent to ride.

Surprisingly, there are some loved segments of a day at California Adventure which are centered around food. I've already mentioned breakfast in Cars Land. Next up would be lunch at the Wharf while I sit under the sun listening to the Mariachi Divas. I love the Asian bowls and their variety of sauces. (I recently discovered the Korean one. Yum!) This lunch setting gives me that Epcot vibe I can't get elsewhere on the grounds. I have yet to find the perfect dinner spot or the right treats, but once I do, the day will only get better.

What California Adventure lacks in layers of attractions it makes up for in this one simple way: The place just feels new. There's much to be said for that. Sure, there's also big gaps in the quality. Big gaps! Hollywood land is still a mess, and Paradise Pier looks much better, but World of Color aside, unfortunately, it still lacks attractions of much substance. The seaside carnival theme just doesn't work for me. Nor do endless films, which still make up too many of the parks' attractions.

So, there's how I'd spend my day escaping to either  Disneyland or California Adventure. How would you spend yours?

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

September 16, 2016

Karen Carpenter in Brazil

The Summer Olympics 2016 are over, but recent events like those surrounding Ryan Lochte will keep the country of Brazil in the news headlines for months to come. 

With that in mind, I stumbled across these interesting photos of Karen Carpenter as she and brother Richard were busy promoting their newest album, Make in America there. Brazil's famed Sugarloaf Mountain looks to be the location here. 

Upon close examination, Karen looks thin but very stylish. And it seems as if her time posing for her photo sessions for the aborted solo project were put to good use. There are very few times she looked comfortable in front of the cameras, but this seems to be one of them. 

Unfortunately, it wouldn't be much longer after this time that the beloved singer would be gone, leaving millions of fans in shock and mourning.

September 15, 2016

Taste of Italy

Take a look at those little red umbrellas on the right side of this photo. My wife and I were blessed to be there in 2007. The region of Cinque Terra, Italy is absolutely gorgeous. One of five villages, you're glancing at Vernazza. That secluded bay was the perfect spot for our mid-afternoon dip! The area is not as famous as other spots, but that is exactly what makes it a must-see place. Low numbers of tourists and a real local flavor. 

(Photographer unknown.)

September 12, 2016

Restoring Unity to See God Work in Our World

“PICTURE HEAVEN!”  Imagine- no more pain or suffering! A great time of reunion with those who have left this world before us- those who love Jesus and devoted their lives to pleasing Him and living a life that shines to a world that is dying and lost. We live in a world that's looking for love, hope, purpose, and real forgiveness in all the wrong places: Sex, Power, Politics, Food, Fashion, Money, Sports, Leisure, etc. It's an easy thing to do when you overlook the Creator of the Universe.

For those of us that love Jesus and realize we need Him to get us there, that we can't do it on our own, the question becomes how do we express our great love and thankfulness.

Let's begin by looking at what happens right around the time Jesus ascends into Heaven. 

This will be a quick summary look at the Book of Acts, written about the Apostles and leaders and common people that decided to become a follower of him. 

First, Matthias is Chosen to Replace Judas (Chapter 1) Then, Pentecost occurs (when the Holy Spirit visits the Apostles and many hear the Gospel message in their own language happens), and God empowers the believers with his own Holy Spirit (Chapter 2).  Peter, who once denied Jesus three times before the Crucifixion, ia a changed man. He gets bold and steps out to preach - and 3,000 people are saved and baptized.  (Acts 2:41). Momentum builds, and the faithful are encouraged.  Real community, real life-changing friendship happens with deep teaching and fellowship established with lots of great food and prayer.

And then there's more:
  • Wonders and miracles happened from the hands of the Apostles
  • Believers shared what they had (They didn’t hoard possessions!)
  • People added daily   (Acts 2:47) 
  • Persecution comes- (Acts 4-6)  But more believers are added!   
  • Stephen becomes the first Martyr- (Acts 7) 
  • The church spreads Saul’s conversion – This is important-  Ananias, a common believing man- is used by God to heal Saul (Acts 9)
  • The church was strengthened, encouraged by the Holy Spirit and continued to grow (Acts 9:31) 
  • Signs and wonders continue, including Peter raising Dorcas from the dead, and more people come to faith (Acts 9- on)
  • The Holy Spirit continues to fall on those who hear the Gospel – (Acts 10:11, 11:15)
  • Teaching, conversions, miraculous signs, and persecution continue (Acts 11-Acts 17)
  • Paul’s Ministry takes off as he travels the world. (Acts 18-28)
From a practical perspective, how did God fuel this movement?   

Of course, all the good we do comes from God and originates in Him, but what was the environment that positively contributed to this season?  Let's now look at a few key verses in the first five chapters of the same book.

Acts 1:14

These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
    
Acts 2:1

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 
  
Acts 2:46

So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart
  
Acts 4:24

So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them

Acts 5:12

And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch.   

See the common theme? If not, here's the answer: They were all "in one accord". In the original Greek language of the New Testament, it means they were all of one mind. They has a singular focus. A singular mission. They loved each other and gave to each other what we needed to get the job done. This pleased God- and the impact the early church had in their world ensured that the Good News of Jesus Christ and his gift of life by his death on the cross would go from generation to generation.




Of course, God is not the only one who notices what's going on. He's not the only one who takes action.  The devil, the one already conquered by God, notices and takes action to try to thwart God's plans. Human self-interest comes into play, too. God calls this kind of pride and self-focus sin, and He's not pleased.

The truth is, from the very beginning of the church, the unity of believers is always tested when things are going well. Why is that? The answer is because we as Christ followers are in a spiritual battle which impacts eternity. Souls will be saved, and souls will be lost.

Jesus knew how the church would grow best, and knew how the message of His Life Giving Sacrifice for our behalf would best be known. In the book of John, (17:20-23) as he is praying in the garden waiting to be arrested to be hung, Jesus prays to the Father for all the believers:

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,  that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—  I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then  (emphasis mine) the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Jesus is saying two very important things here. First, a break in the unity among the faithful stops their powerful testimony of changed lives because of Him. Secondly, he reminds the leaders of this new growing spiritual movement that people are important. People are the Ministry. Not organization, not buildings, not committees. People. People are the reason Jesus came to earth to die. On the cross, he became the payment for our sins to satisfy God's requirements. Its' totally out of love!


But what happens when unity is successfully broken?

Think for a minute when unity is broken in any kind of team environment. Be it sports, business, an orchestra, or a philanthropic organization, when oneness of mind falls apart and people begin to look toward their own self-interests, the focus on the organization becomes internal- and the goals are compromised. People then take their eyes off what matters.

This happened with the early believers, but if we look once more at the Book of Acts, we see that after every test, they can come back together- and God blesses their work once again!

·       PEOPLE BEGIN WANTING TO BE NOTICED AND DEEMED SPIRITUAL AND IMPORTANT (ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA – ACTS 5:1-11.  NOTICE MORE FOLKS CAME TO CHRIST AFTER THEIR DEATHS? VERSE 14. DISCIPLINE THEN GROWTH)  (PRIDE)

·       FACTIONS AND GRUMBLING BEGIN WHEN THE GRECIAN JEWS THOUGHT THEIR WIDOWS WERE BEING OVERLOOKED IN THE DISTRIBUTION OF FOOD – ACTS 6:1-6. (AND MORE CAME TO FAITH AFTER THE ISSUE WAS RESOLVED. VS 7. PROBLEM SOLVED THEN GROWTH)  (SUSPICION AND DEMANDING OF RIGHTS LEADING TO DIVISION)

·       SAUL CONVERTS BUT THE DISCIPLESS ARE AFRAID OF HIM. (ACTS 9:26) BARNABAS STEPS OUT IN FAITH AND DEFENDS HIM. SAUL/PAUL IS EVENTUALLY ACCEPTED AND BEGINS TO PREACH. THE CHURCH ONCE AGAIN GROWS. VERSE 31.  GROWTH COMES WHEN WE INVEST IN EACH OTHER AND ARE NOT THEATENED BY THE GIFTS GOD HAS GIVEN THEM!  (FEAR)

·       THE ISSUE OF CIRCUMCISION THREATENS TO DIVIDE THE CHURCH. THE NEED FOR WISE DECISIONS AND GOVERNMENT IN THE MINISTRY ALSO BRINGS GROWTH (ACTS 15 THRU 16:45) (LEGALISM AND TRADITION OVER BIBLICAL FREEDOM)

As a church, we always mention how persecution brings growth and the Gospel spreads, but here we also see that Godly discipline and problem resolution brings growth and health.  

The Bible is very clear that our enemy is after us (1 Peter 5:8 says he is like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour). And we also know that non-believers are captives of the enemy- but not our enemy- and they can contribute unintentionally to the problems (See 2 Timothy 2:24-26). 

We are used to these Biblical truths. However, there is one more enemy that comes into play, creating problems. A quote I read recently:

“It has been said that the Jews turned the gospel into a religion, Romans a philosophy, Europeans a tradition and Americans a business.”

The Apostle Paul warns believers of this deception! In the letter to the Colossians church, chapter 2:6-8:

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.

This truth applies regardless of our nationality- we are Christians first before we are identified by God as anyone else. The result of this deceptive philosophy? We can begin to look at the ministry of Jesus as a "Business Model", complete with a humanistic business plan. This is a detrimental mistake because as Jesus followers, we are a family!  (1 Timothy 3:15; Ephesians 1:5; Hebrews 2:11)    



The truth is, when we think and function like a business, the church or the ministry will bear fruit as a business would. What does this look like?

First, we'll discover that people become focused on power, position, and influence. This core mindset produces an entire treasure trove of problems:
·       THERE WILL BE A SPIRIT OF COMPETITION AND JEALOUSY
·       THERE WILL BE FEAR- AND CREATIVITY WILL DRY UP AND DIE
·       THERE WILL BE LITTLE JOY- INSTEAD THERE WILL BE BITTERNESS
·       WE WILL BECOME SUSPICIOUS OF EACH OTHER’S MOTIVES
·       A SPIRIT OF LEGALISM WILL TAKE OVER- NOT FREEDOM
·       PEOPLE WILL BECOME EASILY TOSSED ASIDE INSTEAD OF BEING VALUED- FREINDSHIPS ARE BROKEN!
·       WE WILL LIVE LONELY LIVES
·       WE CURSE INSTEAD OF BLESS!
·       WE WILL LOOK LIKE THE WORLD AND NON-BELIEVERS WILL STAY AWAY FROM THE FAITH!
·       THERE WILL BE LITTLE GODLY FRUIT
·       GOD WILL NOT BE GLORIFIED

Naturally, Satan will rejoice when this occurs in the church!Why? Because as this happens and people function differently than what God intends, we as Christians look no different than the rest of the world. 



However, when we function like the family we are as God intended, we will bear good fruit as a family would:

·       PEACE, LOVE, JOY etc.- ALL THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT WILL BE EVIDENT
·       PEOPLE WILL BE VALUED AND HONORED AND GOD WILL BE GLORIFIED
·       OTHERS WILL WANT TO GIVE THEIR LIVES TO JESUS AS THEY SEE REAL COMMUNITY
·       ETERNAL PURPOSES WILL BE FULFILLED

Stop for a moment here, and evaluate your life and actually your ministry here on earth. (We've all been given work to do by God as His children and His ambassadors to a broken world.) What do you see? Is God pleased? If not, it's time to do some further evaluation and change your ways.

When the great Apostle Paul was speaking in Athens about "The Unknown God", he had some pretty profound things to say. At first glance, it doesn't seem like it applies, but bear with me a moment:

Acts 17:24-28

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

What’s the point? Most importantly, we see here:
and it may be a bit out of context, but I’d say it’s a safe stretch to understand- the Holy Spirit will not dwell freely in a church or a ministry that is designed by and run by the methods of men. It's got to be done God's way and with His Gracious Heart if it is to be pleasing to Him. It has to be this way if it is going to bring about the results that please Him. There is no other way.



Sometimes, we are our own worst enemy!

Jesus' words here make so much sense. He puts it all in perspective: 
 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? (Matthew 6:25 )

We begin worrying about the things God says are of little importance. Well- at least they are of little eternal importance is the point here. It's God's way of bringing us back to the unity of mind, being of one accord, of one purpose and heart. Who cares about what this person out that person thinks about how I live my life? Does it please God? Am I reflecting Him well? 


Romans 12:3
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
 
It's not about social status or authority, position or power. We all have different roles and responsibilities, and we all need each other. Whatever place and position you've been given in your family, your place of business, your church, well, it was all given to you by God. And He will reward you.

I used to believe in order to please God I had to be as spiritual as a Billy Graham, as much of a servant as a Mother Teresa, etc. The truth is, I am only responsible for the things God has told me to do. The things I read in the Bible and the things He reveals as I pray. We each play different roles and are placed in different places in our world in order that the most number of people will be impacted. Therefore, God will only hold me responsible for what He has asked of me, not what He has asked someone else. It is very, very freeing!


1 Corinthians 3:8

The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.

There is one last great story I'll share today from the Bible. In the book of Matthew 20:20-28, the story is told of the mother of John and James coming to talk to Jesus. Pay attention here to what happens, and the responses of each person involved. If this doesn't speak to our world today, I really don't know what does!

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.
“What is it you want?” he asked.
She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”
“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”
“We can,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”

When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 

Jesus takes it one step further for those who say they want to follow: Continuing on with Matthew 23:11-12-

The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

·       This story fits the American stereotype of the Jewish mother- pushing her way into places she doesn’t belong and promoting her children! How are you like the mother? The sons? Is someone else pushing you to “move up”? To prove your worth?

·       Jesus’ words ought to scare us “Exalt yourself- and you WILL be humbled”!
o   It’s a guarantee. You may think this won’t happen, but it will! I’ve seen it too many times. Including in my own life!
o   Look what happens here when people puff themselves up. Others get indignant. It sets a whole thing in motion that is not good.
o   The challenge here is NOT to trust our own instincts and think like a businessman. But we are not business men and women- we are servants of the God most High- and We are a Family!


Sometimes we act this way because we are not taking the time to be alone with God, to read the Bible, to pray, to seek His heart. So we forget what is important to Him, and we look around and begin thinking like those who don't know Him.

We've got to start fresh with each other and with God. Don't you think this makes sense? Doing this is a way to recapture your love for God and your passion for the things that delight His heart. They also enrich your life because when you do the things He has designed you for, your life feels of value. You're making a difference, and there's great joy in being used by God.

Ephesians 4:3  “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Paul and Barnabas had a nasty fight and went two separate ways (Acts 15:38-39). A great friendship was destroyed and the ministry was impacted.

Thankfully, they reconciled. People must have rejoiced for this. Somebody had to take the first step. They were reconciled. Paul considered Mark "of great service" (2 Tim 4:11) and told the believers to welcome him (Col 4:10). Paul became the great apostle  (2 Tim 1:11). John Mark became the first gospel writer.  

Matthew 5:23-24  
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

Perhaps you’re on the edge or you’ve fallen flat on your face. The pressure’s getting to you, you’re thinking like those in the world, or maybe you’re pushing your way around and forgetting that People are the Ministry-

Let me encourage you to run to the LORD and confess your sin- and start all over.

September 9, 2016

A Beauty in Tokyo Disneyland

Much has been written and photographed regarding the incredible Tokyo Disney Sea and justifiably so. It is one incredible theme park- the crown jewel of Imagineering's work. It certainly is the envy of theme park fans everywhere.

Less stunning but still fun of unique attractions and design, Tokyo Disneyland is also a fan favorite.  Where else can you ride the groundbreaking Pooh's Hunny Hunt, Monsters Inc. Ride and Go Seek and soon enough, an amazing Beauty and the Beast ride a la Hong Kong's Mystic Manor? Certainly not Shanghai Disneyland!

Here's a look at one of the few new pieces of Imagineering concept art for the first Tokyo park. Imagineer Herb Ryman did an outstanding job showing World Bazaar under a huge canopy that protects guests from Tokyo's extreme weather conditions. It's a beauty!

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

September 6, 2016

More Miracles on the Hudson

With Tom Hanks set to star in "Sully", the film is released Friday, there is much interest in what has happened to the passengers and the pilot of the famous Hudson River Crash


Two of the passengers, Chris Rooney and Karin (Hill) Rooney happen to be good friends of mine. In fact, their story is now presented in greater detail in an article in the UK Daily Mail and the New York Post.  Stories in People magazine are forthcoming as well.

These are great folks, and their story is filled with struggle but triumph. Well worth a read. (On a personal note, I was honored to be asked to officiate at their Colorado wedding!)

September 2, 2016

Big Beautiful World Beyond Disney

About a month and a half ago, my wife and I took off for a long deserved vacation- and we skipped Disney parks entirely. We opted for San Francisco, Napa, Sonoma, and a tour of where we used to live. 

What a smart choice it was! We watched whales jumping in the Pacific Ocean, ate some great meals, did a wine tasting, and just acted like two young marrieds for a whole week. The weather couldn't have been more beautiful or the people we met nicer. It was just so relaxing without having to plan everything in advance- something the folks at Disney haven't realized is a goal for lots of vacationeers!

We enjoyed it so much that I decided we would delay our next Disney trip for at least a year in order to go to Europe or somewhere else instead. There's a great big beautiful world beyond Disney. Go see it!

(Photograph copyright Mark Taft.)

September 1, 2016

A Figment of Our Imagination

Disney Imagineer Tom Morris has a particularly interesting Twitter account. If you're a fan at all of classic Disney attractions and theme parks, it certainly deserves a look! (And he'll always be an Imagineer to me, by the way. So will Tony Baxter.)

Take a long look at this great piece of art depicting a green and yellow Figment of our imagination. Certainly his color scheme is a little different, but that same impish, playful side is easily seen. Can't you just see Dreamfinder coming by the pick him up for a Journey into Imagination? Oh, the days of classic EPCOT Center!

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)


August 31, 2016

Notable and Quotable: Joseph Stalin


"It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything."
                                          Joseph Stalin 

August 30, 2016

Space Mountain Continues to Thrill


What is it about Space Mountain that continues to excite Disney theme park guests decade after decade? Be it the original in Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or newer versions in the Magic Kingdoms of Tokyo, Paris, and Hong Kong, the fan base continues to grow.

Iconic and timeless in its design, Space Mountain thrills Disney park visitors, becoming a rite of passage of sorts for younger guests who have "matured" to the next level of accessible attractions.

Take #1
When you queue up, the first thing you notice is the variety of ages and stages of life represented. One thing is in common: everyone loves the ability to blast off into outer space for an adventure only Disney Imagineering can provide. The allure is as powerful as Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, or a host of other classics. 

Take #2
If you're in need of a fresher course or just a fun read, pick up my detailed look at the attraction at every Disney park round the world. Photos, concept art and more await to light your imagination. Just click here.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

August 29, 2016

You've Got to See This!

The great Disney and More website by Alain Littaye is one of my all time favorites for a reason, and he has done it again. Go to this link to see video and concept art for Imagineer Tony Baxter's never built Mary Poppins attraction for Disneyland.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)