April 28, 2011

Welcome Back, Tokyo Disney Sea!

Today marks the day that the most beautiful of all "second site" Disney parks reopens after the disastrous events of late that have rocked Japan. The stunningly gorgeous Tokyo Disney Sea awaits a crowd that longs to experience the pinnacle of Walt Disney Imagineering art come to life. Welcome back!
(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

April 26, 2011

Notable and Quotable: John Ortberg

"Spiritual maturity is the capacity to see God in the ordinary. And if you receive that capacity, if you become someone with eyes that can see and ears that can hear, you are given a gift."

Author and Pastor John Ortberg

April 20, 2011

1,000th Post- A Visual Journey


Today marks the 1,000th post on the Insights and Sounds blog! In a poor attempt to present something unique, I'd like to invite you to view a visual journey through the blog... just by looking at this post! Some of these randomly placed images, particularly the Imagineering art and travel photos, are ones I have left quite large. Just click on them to see them full size. Lastly, I may comment along the way, but certainly not every image. There's just too many. Please enjoy- and thanks for reading!

Indiana Jones Adventure has to be my favorite "new generation" theme park ride! The old school favorite? Pirates of the Caribbean, of course! With or without Johnny Depp, it is the ultimate Disney classic.

Not only was Disney's Beauty and The Beast the first animated picture nominated for an Oscar in the Best Picture category, it's my personal favorite. Tangled certainly ranks high up there, too. And I cannot wait for Ariel's Undersea Adventure at California Adventure! The Little Mermaid is a beloved film with our family. Ursula happens to be my favorite Disney villian ever!

What does the rubber message band say? It's a version of this, "God so loved the world that when Man ran away from Him, He gave His only Son Jesus to die on the cross and be resurrected, so that all the questions in Man's heart would be answered as he would turn to God to be saved from his sin." An appropriate discussion right before Easter Sunday, wouldn't you say?

Just dig the art of the SHAG man- and this piece designed especially by him for the classic Haunted Mansion is striking.

Our family at the Southern California beaches. That is, right before two recent marriages!

Breathe in. The best 80's band from the U.K. since the Beatles. Breathe out- they disappeared almost as quickly as taking a single breathe. Too bad- front man David Glasper was a great vocalist in the realm of George Michael and a terrific songwriter as well. Just catch a listen to "Does She Love That Man?" and you'll know that for yourself!


Stunning Mission San Juan Capistrano (above), and a man of the cross (below).


Karen Carpenter lives! The female voice of her generation, at least in my home. Vastly underappreciated and supremely talented. Lady GaGa could use a lesson or two in understatement and style. Let the hate mail begin. ;)

Television rarely gets better than Criminal Minds. Am I ticked they got rid of Paget Brewester as Emily? Faster than you can catch the unsub! Warning- if they ever kill off Hotchner (the brilliant Thomas Gibson), it's game over.


A bit of retro Disneyland... Love the old style maps- and yes, It's A Small World!


Salma Hayek and Matthew Perry teamed up for one of the sweetest and funniest one night stand movies ever! It's a romantic comedy with a bite, made for a generation that likes to laugh and live freely but has mostly forgotten about the long lasting benefits of doing the right thing.


Will Expedition: Everest's yeti go the way of Dreamfinder? Please bring them both back, and I'll have two reasons to return to Walt Disney World!

Paris. Say it again. Paris. It just rolls off the tongue and conjours up romantic nights and amazing sights. The food's not too bad, either. And yes, the French are friendly...

Elliott Yamin seems to be pulling a disappearing act. Such a shame.

One incredible photo- and one amazing Creator. A product of evolution? Absolutely not!

Friends real (top) and imaginary. The true ones are available when there are tears, too. The television ones brought of years of laughs- and lots of sadness when they left the airwaves.


Another favorite singer seemingly out of commission. Gloria, where art thou?


Babies, weddings, celebrations. What a gift! God is so good and faithful.

When Epcot lost Horizons, it lost its most ambitious attraction. Yes, it was due for an overhaul, but from start to finish, it was wonderful to get totally absorbed in the adventure.


Old friends Herb Alpert and Richard Carpenter celebrate LIFE. Thanks for your partnership, guys- and for the faith you had in the Carpenters, Herb!

I love the islands! Anything tropical sets my dreams ablaze. Good old Walt Disney inspects the creation of his dream, Disneyland. My world would never be the same.

Compassion International. A great mercy based organization doing the work of Jesus among poor children of the world. I'm a huge fan!

The first of my children to get married. He's now heading towards a career as a college professor, she to Med school. Who would have guessed!

This is Jeremy Camp. If you happen to be under the impression that there is no such thing as solid Christian Rock, well, you'd be mistaken.

The first reading of Mysterious Island made me a Jules Verne fan for life. What a brilliant mind! Did you know he predicted things that would come to pass within the next hundred years of his life. Fascinating stuff!

Katherine Heigl's doctor Izzy made Denny's head spin on Grey's Anatomy- and launched a career at the same time. America's love affair with the blonde bombshell continues strong.

Not the original but the best in the series. Harrison Ford and Sean Connery? A promotion man's fantasy- and what should have been the end of the series.

The trip of a lifetime. But lightning did strike again the following year...

Where it all began (above) and wedding Number Two (below)!


The King of Pop? Maybe, but Michael Jackson made one great album here. I much prefer Off the Wall to Thriller. Count me in the minority, but "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough" had my ears tuned in from the first listen. Quincy Jones knows how to make the sound, doesn't he?

A day alone at the beach. Yes, it is possible in California. You just have to know when and where- and I did!

Just days away and it's wedding Number Three! Another fantastic match...

Professor Quizzit. A non Disney character that is quite a character. You can find him strolling thre grounds while he fiddles with his Time Machine at Adventure Camp in Denver.


The most elegant and fascinating of all themed Disney lands. New Orleans Square shows what the Disney Imagineers can do when they are inspired and given the necessary cash to do it right. It is the gold standard in Disney theme park environments. Nothing in Paris, Tokyo, or Florida comes close.


My long gone grandmothers. How I miss them, their tender hearts, their caring souls. Rest in Peace.

Still a lovely voice. Olivia Newton-John made some terrific records, and her gentle duet with Andy Gibb on "I Can't Help It" continues to draw me to this day. Perfect late night ear candy on the radio.


Our wonderful and wise parents. There really are not enough years together...
Celebrating together in Paris. A wonderful three weeks alone all through Europe.

Maybe I don't want to grow up at times. But I have a great role model!

Long gone but always remembered. Like so many Disney attractions before it, Rainbow Caverns had to give way to newer developments. Can't please all of the people all of the time.


Oh, Roger! It's time to return to the screen- don't you think?
Santa Barbara is a paradise tucked away on the shores of California. The rooftop views are just as incredibe as what you'll find on the ground level.

Seaside, Florida has to be one of the prettiest towns in the United States. A planned community Jim Carrey was lucky enough to live in The Truman Show.

The ultimate Space Mountain is actually at Disneyland Paris. Want to discover them all over the world? Take a look here.

Little did the other members of The Police know they had a crooner on their hands! Sting can rock as hard as anyone else or be as smooth as Frank Sinatra.

Just a terrific new band! Check out Tennis and the captivating vocals of Alaina Moore!

From our Europe travels. The best photograph I have ever taken.


What are the suits dreaming up for Walt Disney World's 40th? It had better be good!

Well, this ends our visual tour of the Insights blog and the 1,000 th post! Thanks for reading! Now, what should I write about tomorrow? ;)


(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company. Personal photographs copyright Mark Taft.)