February 19, 2018

Plan My Walt Disney World Trip

It's been nine years since my last trip to Walt Disney World. Nine years of waiting for something truly special to open, something I just had to see and do. It didn't happen. What did happen instead was the invitation to visit with our daughter and her young family. So, I sent her a list of what I wanted to do.

Magic Kingdom Must Do
Be Our Guest Restaurant
Seven Dwarves Mine Train
Enchanted Tales with Belle
Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

Attractions not at Disneyland:
Hall of Presidents
Mickey’s Philharmagic
Monsters Inc Laugh Floor
Carousel of Progress
Country Bear Jamboree
Swiss Family Treehouse

Plus all the “regulars” ☺

Epcot Must Do
Frozen Ever After
Soarin’ Over the World
New Test Track
Mission: Space (Earth exploration- kid friendly)
Gran Fiesta Tour (Mexico)
Turtle Talk with Crush
Illuminations Night Show

Attractions not elsewhere
Impressions de France
American Adventure
Wonders of China
Land Boat Ride
Spaceship Earth
Seas with Nemo

Plus all the “Future World regulars”

Disney Studios Must Do
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Slinky Dog Coaster  
Alien Saucer Swirl    
Voyage of the Little Mermaid
New Star Tours
Rock N Rollercoaster

Animal Kingdom Must Do
Flight of Passage  
Na’vi River Journey  
Rivers of Light Nighttime show
Kilimanjaro Safari Night

Old Favorites:
Expedition Everest
Festival of Lion King
Finding Nemo Musical
Maharaja Tiger Trail
Gorilla Falls Trail

What would you add to this list? What am I forgetting? What restaurant recommendations do you have? And why? Please help me get the most out of this trip.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

February 17, 2018

Helping "The View" Ladies Hear God's Voice

In the often ridiculous world of television, the ladies from The View are among the most misinformed when it comes to a Christian worldview as described in the Bible. So, I'd like to help Joy Behar, Sunny Hostin, Sherry Shephard and the others through a brief Biblical discourse as to why Christians can and should be able to hear God's voice. I hope they really do want to hear Him.

Let's start here: We won't hear Him if we don't ask to hear Him and stop to listen. Most of the time, we don't bother because we don't really want to hear what He has to say. And we certainly don't want to obey His words. Human nature from the beginning of time is rebellious. 

If you are a Christian, you should expect to hear Him speak. You must realize Jesus speaks to his sheep- and then you have to believe we really can hear Him! Look what Jesus says in John 10:27- “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” 

How can we then evaluate what we think we hear Him say? How do we know it's really Him and not just our own voice? There's three main ways and they will all work together in unison.

1. The Bible- the ultimate authority for Christians. If it seems to be full of contradictions to you, you haven't studied it enough.
"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path". (Psalm 119:105)

God speaks most commonly through His Word. The personal voice of Jesus to us will never contradict the Scripture.  What is He saying to you as you read His Word?

2.  Prayer- God desires a personal relationship with us, and He does speak to those who follow Him. But we have to ask for his guidance. "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." (James 1:5)

God reveals His will for us as we ask Him. What is He saying to you as you pray? What are you consistently hearing from Him?  It takes time. We must wait for Him. His voice will not always be immediate.

3.  The Wise Counsel of Others- Real wisdom man gives never contradicts the Bible.  "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice." (Proverbs 12:15)

Seek prayer and wisdom from those you trust know God and have an established record of being obedient to Him. Are they praying for you? Do they share scripture to support what they are saying?   Even imperfect people can have God’s wise counsel for you.  

9 "Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place." (I Samuel 3:9)

What about circumstances? Circumstances should never be the sole source of our decision making! It can be the most dangerous one upon which to base our decisions. 

1- It causes us to rely on what we see and what we can deduce from human wisdom and practicality. (Read 1 Corinthians 3:18- “The wisdom of the world is foolishness in God’s sight.”)
2- This kind of reasoning can draw us away from seeking God for direction, making us dependent on ourselves or someone else as the source.
3- Circumstances are easily manipulated .

How should we view circumstances? As opportunities!  God allows us to be placed in circumstances that are difficult and beyond our control.

This is not to discourage us but instead to:
o Display his power
o Help us learn to rely on Him
o Conform us into the image of Christ
o Draw others to Him

Think of the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead in John 11. Even at the request of his sisters Mary and Martha, Jesus delays going to heal him. He dies; the sisters are hurt- thinking Jesus doesn’t care about them.

Yet when Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, he gives them something better than just knowledge He can heal the sick.  Jesus proves to them He conquers death and is above all of our life’s circumstances- a much greater gift!

So ------ As you are seeking God for direction, He will answer you if you are submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, believing He alone is the payment for your sins and that He rose from the dead, proving He is God in the flesh!

In all these things, remember Believers have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16)

God also speaks through dreams and visions as well as that still small voice you hear as you wait in prayer. But that's for another post. Therefore, if you see multiple pieces of this evaluation come together in unity, chances are pretty good that you have heard God clearly.

One last question to ask yourself: An important measuring tool- Who gets the glory if you are obedient to what you’ve heard God say? This is perhaps the best indicator of all.

Jesus is speaking, and He is calling everyone to a relationship of love with Him. He doesn't want to see anyone perish for eternity in their sins, but He also knows not everyone will respond. 

Jesus says "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by me." (John 14:6) This isn't because He hates people. It's because He desires to make it simple and clear.

Joy, Sunny, and especially Sherry, whose last name is probably a testimony in and of itself, research it for yourself. Or you can choose to believe your own thoughts and the voices of the world. That's been happening since time began. You can read all about it in the New Testament in Romans Chapter One. 

February 16, 2018

New Entrance Art for Disney World's Toy Story Mania

If you've wondered what the Imagineers will do to retheme the new entrance for Disney Hollywood Studios Toy Story (Midway) Mania at the all new Toy Story Land, wait no more. Take a look at what it will be. Fits in perfectly with the new land and the two new coming attractions on June 30. The Studios, and most all of the parks are getting something new in the years to come. Some, like the Tron Lightcycles will majorly change the face of the parks they inhabit. Others, like the new Los Angeles based side street at the Studios, will barely be noticeable. One thing's for certain- finally Disney is investing big time in Florida. Thank you Universal and Harry Potter for bringing the competition. 

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

February 15, 2018

Death and More Death

As is my habit, I often write blog posts well ahead of their actual publishing. Be it to celebrate a holiday or commemorate a particular date, I try to anticipate what is coming up and write accordingly. 

No one can prepare me for all these mass shootings. Coming from Colorado, the home of Columbine, my heart particularly grieves at the announcement of each tragedy. Of course, I pray, but we also have a very real personal responsibility. 

It's past time for our lawmakers of all political parties to get off their rear ends, and bring a stop to all the available military grade weapons. These are not used for legitimate purposes and those allowed for purchase without extreme background checks. Our amazing law enforcement officials can only do so much. 

Yet, the laws will only go so far. We are a nation that needs to turn its heart back to Jesus, and in doing so, walk away from the sin that so easily entangles us. May He have mercy on us! We are taking a beating, one killing at a time.

Even Ugly Disney Parks Can Have Great Concept Art

Here's proof that even the ugliest of Disney theme parks can have terrific looking concept art. This time, it's not the Walt Disney Studios Paris - still winner of the titlebut Disney's California Adventure 1.0 and the much aligned Paradise Pier

Given a continually slashed budget and a less than great idea for a theme, Imagineer Tim Delaney did the best he could to portray the Bargain Basement Imagineered park in a positive light. Using dashes of color and plenty of swirling shapes, Tim created a very attractive painting. It's too bad the area of Paradise Pier was more realistically a sign of trying to fool Disney fans into thinking this park was cutting edge work. 

After a solid but not thorough reworking in 2012, this seaside diversion did have much more charm than the original incarnation. Will the transition to Pixar Pier kill that? We'll have to see.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

February 14, 2018

Beautiful Romance

"Romantic love is blind to everything except what is lovable and lovely..." It's a nice beginning to a beautiful and timeless truth. This quote by Frederick Buechner strikes me for its encouragement and also, surprisingly, its bluntness. Continuing "...but Christ's love see us with terrible clarity and sees us whole. Christ's love so wishes our joy that it is ruthless against everything in us that diminishes our joy. The worst sentence Love can pass is that we behold the suffering which Love has endured for our sake, and that is also our acquittal. The justice and mercy of the judge are ultimately one."

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

February 13, 2018

Inexpensive Impact

"One kind word can warm three winter months."
         Famous Japanese Proverb

Whose world will you warm today?

February 12, 2018

A Brand New Beast

Disney animator Glen Keane will be directing Netflix's upcoming Over the Moon, a tale about a young girl who builds a rockets and takes off on an exciting adventure. He's certainly no stranger to creating memorable characters! Glen was the backbone to many Disney projects (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Tangled). 

For me, the ultimate Keane project was Beast, from the classic Beauty and the Beast, my favorite Disney animated film (which also holds up stunningly well next to the live action release). Not only does the animated film have a huge following, but the whole experience of animating / transforming Beast was a powerful one! This was apparently just as true for his animator.

Glen says,

"This is the moment- this is what I was born for...As I started animating it, for me it's really an expression of my spiritual life. There's a verse in the Bible that says 'If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away and all things have become new...'Because it is really about an inner spiritual transformation that's taking place with the Beast. I saw it as a parable of my life."

Boy, I'm with you, Glen. Perhaps that's why this film strikes such a deep note in me and millions of others! There's a longing in us to be more than what we've been, perhaps to be the best version of ourselves, the version that God created- free from the eternal stain of sin and with new hope for life eternal. This is what Jesus Christ does! 

When our hearts are opened by God to hear His Message of hope, forgiveness, and a fresh life, our heart leaps! When we choose to believe that Jesus died for our sin, paying full price for it, and then was raised from the dead to prove He is God in the flesh- wow! Just wow! New life is birthed in us. The failures and brokenness from the past are now just a part of our eternal journey as we increasingly become who God designed us to be. Make the leap into the Arms of Love- and Beast's transformation will be your own parable as well. 

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

February 10, 2018

Beautiful and Deadly

You've got to read this article by the BBC! Chilling, sad, deadly. Regardless of your politics, its' worth a read.

(Art copyright BBC.)

February 9, 2018

Breakfast is Coming!

How can anyone not love Chip and Joanna Gaines? Fun, gracious, generous, and innovative- a couple of folks that seem to have their heads screwed on straight. Their smash show Fixer Upper maybe leaving HGTV at the end of the season, but Magnolia Table is on its way. 

Some Waco residents were understandably not happy that the name of the classic, historic restaurant was changed from The Elite Cafe, but hey guys, they saved the place. That is the important part. 

One day soon, I'm sure we'll take a road trip at Texas to see the ever expanding "Chip and Joanna Land". Can't wait.

(Photograph copyright Chip and Joanna Gaines.)

February 8, 2018

Happy Birthday California Adventure

This is telling: I just realized this is the 17th birthday of Disney California Adventure.

So here's some detailed looks back at the park at the 10 Year mark:

Ten Years of DCA
Bargain Basement Imagineering 1.0
Bargain Basement Imagineering 1.5
DCA: Changes in Attitudes

There's almost 400 articles on the blog about California Adventure- Enjoy your exploration!

February 7, 2018

New Alien Swirl Art

Breaking image from WDWMagic: New concept art for Toy Story Land's remake of the popular Mater's attraction at California Adventure. Alien Swirling Saucers. Yes, it's coming, and yes, it's fun!

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

Like Father, Like Son

Super Smart, Super Cute, Super Nintendo!

February 5, 2018

It's the Little Things One Park to the Next

Thinking about the little things that make Disneyland so special. It's not just all those truly magnificent "E Ticket" attractions we know and love. For me, it's also those little things, the personal touches found all over the park, the one's that feel like Walt Disney himself put them there just waiting to be discovered. Those quiet nooks that bring in no revenue. Those charming items like the Petrified Tree or the Court of Angels in New Orleans Square or the Snow White Grotto and Wishing Well. These smaller items make the park a treat for explorers young and old.  May they continue on to be an Imagineering tradition from each kingdom to the next.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

February 4, 2018

Thirty Five Years Without Karen Carpenter

While I find it difficult to believe, it has been 35 years since the golden voiced Karen Carpenter passed away unexpectedly. Like many of her fans, I can remember exactly where I was when I heard the news. Granted, this should be a sad day of remembrance. 

I had initially planned to post another review of her one and only solo album. Yet, I realized I did an in depth look at it five years ago (here).  Then I thought about posting about her final years and the warning signs of eating disorders, but I decided against that. Those of you wanting to read about her last days should look here.

Truthfully, I have written so many articles on Karen and Richard Carpenter that I didn't know what I should do. Her voice brought happiness to so many people. So, in honor of Karen today, I'm sharing a handful of photos that show her happy, joyful side. 

Here's a  screenshot of Karen appearing on good friend Olivia Newton-John's television special, Hollywood Nights. Originally, she was going to premier a song from her forthcoming (but cancelled) solo album. It wasn't to be. Instead, Karen's part on an all star line up covering the Eagles' classic Heartache Tonight. If you can turn her up, you'll hear Karen sounds as well as looks terrific. It's clear she's having a great time!

Photo shoot for the epic A Song for You album. With so many hits under their belts, more were to come. In addition to boasting five smash singles, it also includes Bless the Beasts and Children, the amazing title song written by Leon Russell, and the pensive and powerful Road Ode, written by members of their band. 

Karen loved Mickey Mouse and Disneyland! Who doesn't? Here she is with Richard having a good time as they toured the park. 

Making the cover of Rolling Stone and finding a fairly objective-   even positive-article on the duo inside its covers had to make them both very happy. Seeing Karen ham it up for the photographer is a nice change of pace from the expected serious pose.

Solo and glamorous. Finally, somebody had the sense to present her in a fresh, updated, contemporary, and beautiful light. 

Another solo shot. Though, sadly, never released until after her death, Karen was rightly proud of this effort.  Jazzy, bluesy, and even with a bit of dance music thrown in, the solo album deserved much better than it was given by A&M Records.

One last photo. Karen at the time of recording All You Get From Love is a Love Song. (She's wearing the shirt found on the Horizon cover, however.) Getting thinner here but still looks happy. I can just see her on that Boat to Sail!

Thanks, Karen, for all the happy memories. Rest peacefully- and joyfully- in the arms of Jesus!

February 2, 2018

New Epcot Plans on the Horizon

Starting with a sparkling new, lush, green, and fully redesigned "spine", plans for an Epcot renovation are in full swing. Or so you might think. The Imagineers have leaked out enough pertinent information to keep Disney rumor boards buzzing. Here's another  ideal perhaps realized plan presented us to from the folks at Imagineerlandblogspot.com 

It's not just Future World- and its new version of Tokyo Disney Sea's Aquatopia or Shanghai Disneyland's Jet Packs- that's been given a fresh perspective, it's also World Showcase. But you'll have to go to the link to explore that. Some of the newer countries chosen are quite surprising, and they would be quite effective at rounding out the park. 

Unfortunately, the official plans keep changing. And as long as all the various festivals keep the place full of people liquored up, there won't be much reason to really create the detailed and enchanting projects as in the opening years.

(Art copyright Imagineerland.)

February 1, 2018

The Cool Blues of a New Tomorrowland

Let's be honest here. After Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opens up in 2019, the poor little area known as Tomorrowland is going to be woefully outdated. Oh, wait! It already is! 

It's Disneyland's  biggest embarrassment. The suits can stuff it with Star Wars themed odds and ends, toss in a Halloween layover for Space Mountain, act as if the Peoplemover track is really there only to support banners, and stick all the characters in it they can imagine, but the fact is, they can't- and won't- attempt to keep up with the future. If Walt Disney was truly frozen, he'd be coming back and yelling "What did you do to my beautiful future?" 

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)