June 30, 2010

Risky Love

In our day, Marriage is a risky choice- a courageously brave and difficult choice!

We live in a culture of short term commitments:
• Throwaway relationships and Disposable Marriages
• Employment that ends with the benefits don’t suit someone
• Facebook Friends we never see Face to Face

We can live our lives with the attitude of “What’s in it for me?”
We desire to live our lives without making promises.
The problem is- then no one makes promises to us!
All of which makes marriage the biggest gamble we take!

In the book of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul tells us husbands should love their wives as Jesus loved the church. But what exactly does that mean?

It means marriage is a choice of dying to our own preferences for the sake of our mate- doing this on a daily basis and holding to the promises we make on our wedding day.

When Jesus, by choice, chose to die on the cross to pay for the sins of Man, he was taking a huge risk. He knew some would not accept His Love and His Sacrifice. And the Enemy was against Him. But the pending reward of eternity with those who believed outweighed the risk. So, Jesus gave up his life because He loved His Father and he loved the people He created.

There will be times when keeping the promises will be impossible. The pain will be so deep, when the anger and fear seems impossible to bridge, when you totally forget why you even chose to marry and may regret your choice. Your friends and family may even encourage you to opt out of your promises, but this is when Love can win.

As you persevere in marriage and do so with a heart to sacrifice, your rewards will be great. God will use you to heal and bless each other- and to be a witness of His Love to a world that is dying. As you persevere, you will be transformed into the image of Christ- and you will bless your Heavenly Father by choosing obedience and sacrifice versus self indulgence!

June 29, 2010

Taking a Bite Out of Disney's Animal Kingdom

Disney's Animal Kingdom had better get going on something new! Crank up those Imagineers and loosen that budget! Zoos all over the country are taking giant leaps forward in making the experience for visitors much more like what it is at Walt Disney World. And to a large degree, they are successful. Disney's Animal Kingdom is the park most likely to suffer loss from the competition.

Case in point: The Denver Zoo. (But check out your own local zoos as well and see what they are planning! Or just search "zoo expansion" and watch the results.)

In the last couple of years, the powers that be have transformed this zoo into an amazing experience. First, a brand new entry plaza- totally first class in design and execution. Next, the newly revitalized Africa exhibit, which has been wildly successful and for good reason. The animal habitats really capture the landscape it duplicates. (My sister-in-law and her family went on an extensive three week safari, and I have seen their professional quality video and still photos.)

I couldn't believe what I was seeing when we toured last year. Very high quality exhibits and landscapes beautifully put together. The animal information was relayed in very unique ways, very reminiscent of what you would find at an Epcot pavilion.

Coming soon- the Asian Tropics area (Above. All the images can be enlarged). Now, with limited space compared to what is available for Disney in Florida, this won't be nearly as large as Animal Kingdom's Asia, but the animal exhibit space will compare well.

Take notice of the prayer flags in the rendering above. As with many zoos in the nation, theming is now an important part of the experience. Operators are going paw, hoof, and claw to toe with Disney, fighting for the tourist dollar.

Just as with Harry Potter's Forbidden Journey, Disney may discover that guests find many other ways to spend hard earned money, and as with California Adventure that the name Disney alone does not guarantee business. Tough lessons to be learned in a new and tougher economy.

Driving by the Denver Zoo this past weekend, the parking lot was almost full, and the lines to get in were quite lengthy. I am truly looking forward to going back this summer and definitely as soon as the Asia exhibit is complete. Chances are, I am not alone.

Why should Disney care and compete?

Let's look again at the zoo example. If Animal Kingdom is not a zoo, then it needs to add attractions to differentiate it from those zoos that are truly reinventing themselves into something Disneyesque. In a new market where local attractions are infusing cash and creativity with local bonds assisting (as in Denver), the ante has been raised significantly. The stakes as well! In addition, "Staycations", holidays where families remain at home exploring their own cities and those nearby, are increasing in popularity.

Unlike Disney's Hollywood Studios or even the Magic Kingdom, the suits do not have the luxury of a never ending supply of movies in which to form favorite characters and stories and translate these into experiences that will attract guests. I'd venture to say that Florida's Animal Kingdom is the most vulnerable to guest fluctuation and therefore decreased spending. If this park were a standalone Florida attraction, it would be in dire straits.

Finally, the Walt Disney World parks have grown a bit stagnant. Remaking El Rio del Tiempo into Gran Fiesta and the new (but honestly excellent) Nemo puppet show do not cause guests to book their return flight to Florida. Nor do new animal habitats. Nor do broken effects that are centerpieces of advertising!

How does Disney compete and differentiate Animal Kingdom from the local zoos? It takes stunning attractions that physically move you into the environments- like Expedition:Everest and Soarin'. These will keep visitors from spending their days elsewhere. This is where Disney shines! Showcasing Imagineering's best and brightest concepts brings in the crowds and keep them ahead of the competition.

If the teen wizard at Islands of Adventure teaches The Walt Disney Company anything, it may be that "good enough" no longer isn't. Thank you, Universal and Harry!
(Art copyright The Denver Zoo.)

June 28, 2010

Progress City, U.S.A.: Tim Delaney

Take a look at this great piece of art for Hong Kong Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean with a Splash Mountain ending. Ex-Imagineer Tim Delaney has just launched a website, and the always impressive Progress City, U.S.A. blog highlights his work with a terrific post.

Look closely at the site, and you'll find beautiful pieces on the stunning Discoveryland from Disneyland Paris as well. After viewing his work, it is all the more obvious that the suits killed the funds for California Adventure. Tim's pieces for the underfunded project are on his site as well. All said, you just have to go look for yourself. Thanks, Tangaroa and Beacon Joe for bringing this to our attention!
(Art copyright Tim Delaney and the Walt Disney Company.)

Big Troubles Ahead for Disney's Animal Kingdom?

Just finishing up a piece for tomorrow. It's a look at why Disney's Animal Kingdom is facing some fierce competition, why it is THE Disney park most susceptible to failure and what Disney must do to hold off the competition. Stay tuned!
(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company. Original image from the wonderful Disney and More blog!)

June 27, 2010

Directives from God Changed Our Lives

It's now 2016, and I buried this post deep in the blog as most people will never read it, but I hope that you, my children, will find it. Perhaps even long after I'm gone.

Some of you are still following Jesus, and I'm so thankful for that! Sometimes you may have doubted how personal the Creator of the universe is, whether or not He really interacts with the people He created. I write this for you. Just one example for you, although you could read my Bible, and look for dates marked next to verses that reveal God was making His word very personal. Or you could look in my personal files, and see I've kept written words people have given me. But here's a powerful memory not written down until now.

It was 1998, and your mother and I were overseeing the Week of Prayer at the church we were very involved with at the time. We were working with the children and happy to do so, but I did long to go into the last service for the remaining minutes of worship music. I snuck away.

Going into the sanctuary, I stood off to the side, letting the worship music have its impact. Minutes later, I found the worship leader- a man I had never met- had walked over to me. He put his hand on my shoulder saying these words: "God will make you a bridge between cultures". Your mother and I had no idea what this meant.

It wasn't until 2009 when I started to see this come to pass. If you remember, that year I went off on a foreign mission trip I did not want to go on. But I went out of obedience. The impact was so huge. My life changed forever. Two of you in the family experienced this trip with me and know its impact first hand. 

As of this writing- 10 trips later and 4 more in the planning stages- we've made many changes to our lives in order to be obedient to the Lord because of what He has done- starting with words spoken over me almost two decades ago. Even though its been hard, we have no regrets. Obedience to the Lord is its own reward. If your mother and I have pleased Him, that's all that matters. 

Live your lives the same way. In obedience to a very personal God who loves you. Jesus said He was the only way to the Father and an eternity in Heaven. He meant it. Don't settle for the things of this world when you can have the things of God. Now is so temporary compared to eternity.

June 26, 2010

Rainy Night

Another rainy night in Denver. But this one is different- it's my last Saturday night before I return to work after vacation. Yes, a bit blue I'd say, but thank God I am employed and doing what I love. Make sure you come back all this week for some new posts, ok? Thanks for reading!

June 25, 2010

The Million Dollar Disney Experience

Ever dream of living on the Walt Disney World property? Now you can in a whole new way. (Before you say "Celebration", remember the company sold it off long ago.) The new Golden Oak community begins its presale phase, offering homes close to the new Four Seasons Resort for a cool one million plus dollars.

Ah, to live the Disney life with special benefits! Close to the parks, VIP transportation and more. It's almost as if you never have to touch base with reality. Lest I sound like I am pointing fingers, let me tell you it sounds very appealing to me! Let's all just check out from reality permanently.

Sometimes it is a struggle not to run and hide from the real world into all things Disney. To keep that balance, to maintain the sense of purpose that each of us are called to, to stay healthy, we certainly need to remember we live in a real world, not Fantasyland.
(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

June 24, 2010

Picture Perfect

What a beautiful wedding! And what a wonderful couple!

It could not have been a more perfect evening wedding as the skies were clear, the moon bright, and the garden was lit up with everything from candles to lanterns. Romantic and perfect.

The bride looked stunning! (Of course, dads are allowed to say so!)
The flower girl was charming as always...

Siblings gathered together to celebrate!

The bride's side of the wedding party...Pretty cute!

Mom and daughter share a special moment...

...Dad and daughter, too!
What a special day for a special couple. Family and friends made it even better- and I thank all of them for sharing the blessing of the day with us.

June 23, 2010

Oh, Roger!

From various news sources, Disney producer Don Hahn (Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, the very sadly overlooked Atlantis, Emporer's New Groove) reports Roger Rabbit 2 is finally on the way! One of the best and most creative Disney properties is finally given a new lease on life years after its 1988 release. Cannot wait- and bring on all those imagined but never built attractions at Disney's Hollywood Studios!

Toy Story 3: Heroes and Friends

With a convincing blend of nostalgia and freshness, Toy Story 3 is another win for John Lasseter and all the folks at Pixar.

The third film in the franchise is not without its humor, but it is on the light end of the scale, Barbie's metrosexual Ken and the linguistically transformed Buzz Lightyear notwithstanding. Instead of humor, the emphasis is on heart- and this is where the film triumphs. In fact, it is safe to say that "heart" is the main element in each of the Pixar films. You just love the characters and their relationships.

There isn't a single misstep in the film. Only one missed opportunity. The Three Peas in a Pod (above) seemed ripe for both character development and marketing opportunity. Just one man's opinion.

There are too many morals in the story to calculate, making Toy Story 3 an excellent primer for reinforcing right from wrong as well as reminding viewers that often the most manipulative and evil among us are those that seem the nicest at first glance. Sad but true.

Just as in real life, in Toy Story's reel life, actions do speak louder than words. In this aspect, Woody and Buzz Lightyear are commendable heroes and true friends until the tearful end. They give their all for those around them, always believing the best but never sacrificing the truth. Like millions of fans, I'll miss them.
(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company/Pixar)

June 22, 2010

Happily Ever After

Still waiting for the formal pictures, but here's this candid shot of my daughter and her new husband after the wedding. As he is a fireman, the reception had to include photos and rides for the bridal party. A very sweet and beautiful evening for a happy couple!
(Photograph copyright Mark Taft.)

June 18, 2010

Harry Potter's Wizarding World? Count This Muggle In!

How can I say this? Neither California Adventure's Little Mermaid or Walt Disney World's Fantasyland expansion will stop me from making a trip to Universal Orlando! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and his Forbidden Journey will be my first stop. The on line videos show an attraction Disney has yet to match- with a fully immersive land surrounding it not seen since... hmm... probably ever in the States. Time to up the game, Disney. Not only has Harry arrived- Universal is now clearly on the world's map!

June 16, 2010

Waiting and Hopeful

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn't been so weak, we wouldn't have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.

From The Message, Eugene Peterson

June 15, 2010

Under the Sea Trumps a Galaxy Far Far Away

Pod racing we expected. It's a natural fit after all. But when Imagineer Kathy Rogers spilled a few previously approved beans that the new Star Tours 2 in 3D (Say that quickly three times!) included some travel to and through Coruscant, I must admit that option never crossed my mind.

Certainly the suggested in house effects will add much to this attraction. (See Stormrider at Tokyo DisneySea.) Yet, overall, I'm not too impressed. Guess my next trip to the resort will be to see California Adventure instead of Disneyland. With World of Color and The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure opening by then, I'd rather spend the day experiencing some new attractions versus a refreshed one. Or even looking at concepts and models for Carsland, Radiator Springs Racers, and Buena Vista Street at the Blue Sky Cellar.

Should Disneyland continue with its focus on revamping the past, (Tom Sawyer Island, Tarzan's Treehouse, Sleeping Beauty Castle Walk Thru, the "New" Tomorrowland with its emphasis on the past, Captain Eo, Pirates of the Caribbean with Johnny Depp, and now Star Tours), the park will become the museum it is accused of being. This is not to discredit Tony Baxter's loving care of the past, only to highlight the problems this approach represents when used to the exclusion of new attractions. (Let's face it- Tony's hands - and that of the other Imagineers have been effectively hogtied for a decade!)

As this trend continues, The Disneyland Historical Preservation Society will rejoice- but this fan will eventually move on to occassional visits to Disneyland for nostalgia purposes and nothing more. And I'm guessing, so will many others.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

June 14, 2010

Beyond World of Color

Beyond the fun and games, it's a serious world out there!

The Afghanistan Parliament has called for the execution of Christians.

See for yourself here. (And see today's planned article below.)

Flash Forward: California Adventure 2012

Flash forward with me to Disney California Adventure in 2012...

And what a great day is was! Just starting the second decade, it's hard to imagine this is the same little bare bones park we walked through in 2001!

Sure getting into the place seemed a bit tighter as the entrance through the trunstiles into Buena Vista Street noticeably closer to that of Main Street U.S.A. at Disneyland. For the first time in quite awhile, the line for both parks seems about the same. Visitors are lined up everywhere, and that earlier opening for California Adventure gives us some extra time for breakfast- that is right after we grab our Fastpass tickets for Radiator Springs Racers!

Rushing down Buena Vista Street, I wanted to hop on the Red Car Trolley, but we don't really want to wait in line. Let's catch it later. Follow me, will you?

Down at the the end of the main drag of Hollywoodland, the theater's showing a great new production straight from Disney on Broadway. Sure, it's scaled down for time's sake, but still pretty impressive to be able to see this in a theme park! Whoa, there's Twilight Zone Tower of Terror- no, don't stop yet- we gotta go into Cars Land to get our tickets. Just follow the crowd heading the right direction. This reminds me of the daily mad rush yesterday at Disneyland for the Indiana Jones Adventure. Incredible!

Here we are. What? A fifteen minute wait in line just to get a Fastpass for Radiator Springs Racers? Guess it really is that popular. I'll wait to out while you get us some Cokes.

Take a look at those mountains! Those red rock formations are really cool. Just watching those cars race around makes me glad I decided to wait in line. Hard to believe we're right in the middle of the city of Anaheim! I'll have to check out the Drive-In Restaurant. Sure glad the suits decided to go ahead and build this thing. The food's good and the whole thing's fun.

Finally at the front. OK. 1,2,3,4. Got all those Fastpasses. Come back at 11:30am. Can do. Here's yours. What's that? You saw that Luigi's Flying Tires and it looks better than you thought it would? Sure, let's do it! This whole place looks like something right out of the movie. I could spend all day here.

You are right- Flying Tires was a blast! Let's do it again later on. Hmmm, what's next? You know, there's Mickey's Fun Wheel. Means California Screamin' and Toy Story Midway Mania are right around the corner. Follow me...

And with that our day began. Radiator Springs Racers was a rush. (In fact, we ended up getting another ride at night but it was almost a two hour wait.) After Racers, we decided to ride the rapids at Grizzly River, hop on Soarin' Over California, then go to Tower of Terror. Something's wrong? We forgot something, what was it?

Oh yeah, breakfast!
(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

June 13, 2010

Answering the Amy Grant/World of Color Question

From Amy Grant's blog:

"Unfortunately, Amy spent two full days in the studio recording her vocal parts for the Disney “World of Color” but the Disney executives decided they wanted to go in a different direction vocally. Amy was very disappointed to get bumped from the project but it all happened the same week her dear friend Ruth McGinnis passed away and Amy was not in the emotional place to try to regroup and take another run at it in the studio with Disney."

(Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images North America)

June 11, 2010

It's Showtime!

Disney's World of Color water show finally makes its official debut tonight at California Adventure!

The second park in Anaheim, which opened to dismal reviews in 2001, needs the presentation to be a resounding success. Disneyland, Walt Disney's original kingdom, still packs in the crowds after almost 55 years, but its smaller sister park is still the ugly stepchild. And the numbers show it.

In many ways, World of Color is the beginning of Phase Two- and a major step in the billion dollar transformation of the park by the Walt Disney Company Imagineers. These creative genuises were strangled by a slashed budget and limited vision by the company suits last time. Now, they have a chance to prove they can rebuild a park that would make Walt proud. Let's see what happens...
(Photo copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

June 10, 2010

Sting With Strings

In concept, the pairing of Sting with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra would only confirm the Police frontman's move from Rock and Roll to Adult Contemporary music. In execution, however, the idea was brilliant, and the result defied single genre classification.

Whether it was the beautiful evening sky at the much heralded Red Rocks Amphitheater outside Denver or the musicians partaking of some preperformance relaxation, both main artist and musicians presented a stunning two and one half hours of music.

Leading off with the solo hit, "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You", Sting confidently entered the stage looking very much like a prim and proper English gent- black suit and perfectly groomed for the A&E concert special being filmed. Playing a bit of harmonica for this tune, he gently reminded fans he was as much a musician as singer. Vocally, Sting has never sounded better. All through the evening, he neither avoided the high notes or shortened the long ones.

Following the opening number, he continued with "Englishman in New York" before delighting the crowd with a very light and playful version of "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic". While Englishman took benefit of a great clarinet solo, Every Little Thing perfectly showcased the intent of the night: presenting both singer and song in fresh ways and new textures. I had a hunch even the old Police tunes would benefit from a full orchestra, and I was right. Sting's lower register vocals on "Roxanne" were surprising and extremely effective. By this point four songs into the concert, the crowd was enthusiastically following every move he made.

Moving from "Straight to My Heart", the orchestra was put to full use creating the ominous and menacing tones for "Russians", giving Sting the opportunity to make the only political comments of the evening as he introduced it. The first half continued with the expected "When We Dance", the beautifully renewed "I Hung My Head", then "Shape of My Heart" and the tender but direct"Why Should I Cry For You?"

Drawing from the wrongly overlooked "Sacred Love" disc, "Whenever I Say Your Name" shined in duet form with Jo Lawry- and Mary J. Blige not missed a bit. Another light hearted approach with flute and piano added to Sting's obligatory masterpiece "Fields of Gold". A twenty minute break followed for necessities, and then the music returned.

The second half somewhat suffered out of the chute with several songs that were tedious in style but still beautiful, really being saved by the man's terrific vocal work. However, this also included an emotionally overwrought "Moon Over Bourbon Street".

A few songs later, I was thrilled to hear an absolutely stunning version of "All Would Envy", with Sting and orchestra turning this into a brilliant smooth jazz masterpiece. The incredible trumpet work would make Herb Alpert proud! "Mad About You" came next. It was a compelling performance that set the tone of the rest of the evening.

Just when I thought it couldn't get better than the previous two selections, Sting rocked the house with an extended "King of Pain", electric guitar, orchestra, and vocalist ripping into the night with gusto. Perfect use of all three elements!By the time I realized we were nearing the end, "Every Breath You Take"began, we were still on our feet, wishing for one more hour.

Encore tunes included a beautiful, sweepingly symphonic "Desert Rose", a very compelling "She's Too Good for Me" (but unfortunately no "Seven Days" follow-up), and a gorgeous version of "Fragile" before strangely ending with an a cappella version of "I Was Brought to My Senses".

Aside from overlooking his specialty releases of late, Sting varied the song choices, evenly selecting from each disc and only partially favoring "Ten Summoner's Tales". With minimal but effective conversation, the emphasis of the night was on singer and song. The orchestra was used to great effect and with much respect for both its skill and versatility.

To all who would doubt, I say bring on the night- and then bring the artist back for a second taste of this tour. Saying Sting has aged gracefully is true but incomplete. The man continues on as a brilliant artist that deserves the accolades he now enjoys after a career that now spans the decades.

Disneyland for Beginners

I grew up by Disneyland, and I have been there at the busiest times of the year. I know all the best ways to get around the crowds. So, here are my recommendations: Disneyland for Beginners- Summertime Version.

The best thing you can do is 1- Buy your tickets the night before - but get a map and 2- Get there before it opens. If you do these two things, you'll get to see most of the best attractions without waiting in the line for too long. If you do not, you can still see a few good rides, but you will spend most of your time waiting.

The most impressive rides to see and the ones that are "classic" Disneyland are these:
Indiana Jones Adventure
Pirates of the Caribbean
The Haunted Mansion
It's a Small World
Space Mountain
Big Thunder Mountain
Splash Mountain

Since you are going in summer, and the crowds will be heavy, the opening time is 8:00am , but get to the front gate by about 7:30am.
Let me suggest a pattern to follow so that you see the most you can. Here we go! :)

Walk right down Main Street and take an immediate left into Adventureland. Keep walking until you reach the Indiana Jones Adventure. This is Disneyland's premier ride (and one of my favorites), and if you like the movies, you'll love this! It's a runaway jeep ride. Regardless of the line length, if you go first thing in the morning, go here first.

Once you get off the ride, you can do one of a couple of things if you want to ride it again: 1-Go to the entrance and find the attendant. Tell them you are "single riders". You'll get to go to the front of the line but you will not be able to ride together. They will use you to fill in jeeps with empty seats. 2- Or go to the "Fastpass" Machine. Fastpass lets you put in your admission ticket, and the machine spits out a special ticket with a time stamped on it. (Make sure you take out your admission ticket and keep it with you.) When your designated time arrives, take your ticket to the Fastpass line. You'll get to walk by most of the crowd. This is important. You need one Fastpass ticket for each person. You have a one hour timeframe to return or your Fastpass is not valid. (By the way, after your return time begins, you can get another Fastpass for any other ride that offers it.)

If you do not go to Disneyland early, go ride to this ride anyway and use one of the two ideas above to make sure you get a ride on Indiana Jones Adventure.

Walking out of Indiana Jones, turn left and walk past Pirates of The Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion right to Critter Country and go to Splash Mountain. This ride will have very long lines all day as well. This is a water ride with lots of Disney characters. You will get wet, but it is so much fun! If you want to ride this again, go back in line if it is short or use Fastpass again.

After riding Splash Mountain, go back the way you came in and ride The Haunted Mansion in New Orleans Square. It's not scary but suspenseful and the special effects are amazing.

From there, go back to Pirates of the Caribbean. If you walk to the Treehouse, you've gone too far. This is my favorite Disney ride and one of the best. Captain Jack Sparrow robots are very lifelike- and he makes an appearance three times in the ride. Pirates is a ride where the line moves pretty fast, so even on the very busy days, the wait should be no more than 30-40 minutes.

Let me say that at this point, the crowds will start coming in. Depending on how early you are there, you may get on more rides than this before the crowds. Also, make sure you walk around and explore the shops and restaurants as well. But rides are the most important and why Disneyland is famous! :)

OK- Walk out of Pirates, make a right turn and head across the park to Big Thunder Mountain in Frontierland. This is a Disney roller coaster. It's not the biggest or scariest one ever, but it is very fun. If you can, ride it at nighttime, too. It's like a totally different ride. This is also a ride that uses Fastpass, by the way.

Probably by now, I am sure the crowds are there, so be prepared to wait in line!

Leave Big Thunder by taking a left and walk through the Frontierland fort across the park to Tomorrowland. You are headed to Space Mountain.

This is a roller coaster ride through outer space. It is also a Fastpass ride. It will have a very long line, so if you can get a Fastpass, it might be smart to do it. If you do, from there I would either go to Buzz Lightyear AstroBlasters . It is a video game ride where you shoot targets as you ride along a track. (It has Fastpass as well.) Or if that is not interesting to you, consider going to see the 3D movie, Captain Eo starring Michael Jackson.

If neither of these options look good, then head toward Fantasyland (through the Castle) all the way back to It's a Small World. This is a very sweet musical boat ride around the world. People love it or hate it (we love it!), but it has the feel and "stamp" of Walt Disney all over it.

OK- If you've done these, you have ridden the best in the park, but there are many more little gems to be found all over.
And make sure to check out when the fireworks show is!

Here are my suggestions for other Disneyland rides worth a look:
Matterhorn Bobsleds : a coaster ride through the Swiss Mountain
Tom Sawyer Island: an outdoor island to explore caves etc.
Mark Twain Riverboat: a relaxing boat ride around the river
Peter Pan's Flight: In Fantasyland, a ride over the rooftops of London to Neverland
Jungle Cruise: In Adventureland, a silly boat ride through tropical rivers with (fake) animals. One of the first rides in 1955.
Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin: a ride through the world of the movie. The lines are long, so use Fastpass if you can.
Disneyland Railroad: A train ride all around the park. Ride it all the way back to where you started. You can get on it at Main Street, New Orleans Square, Toontown or Tomorrowland.

Half the fun of Disneyland is walking around and exploring things.

Wish I could meet you there and take you around personally!

June 9, 2010

All Over the Place

Bunch of randomness today:

Going to see Sting tonight at Colorado's famed Red Rocks outdoor amphitheater. An unexpected gift from my kids- and I couldn't get tickets.

Can't wait for the premier of California Adventure's World of Color- even more excited about the next phase of the Blue Sky Cellar!

God has pulled off a relationship miracle when all seemed hopeless. Thank you, Lord Jesus! You are amazing. How do folks do life without you?

Our daughter's wedding is one week from Saturday- boy, is there a lot to do when you host it all in your garden!

Randy L. Schmidt's new epic on Karen Carpenter continues to make me think...

Just loving Criminal Minds these days. Great cast, solid scripts. Good acting, too.

Too many jerk celebrities- and thank God that Van der Sloot has been jailed.

See you later for a Sting concert review!

June 8, 2010

Karen Carpenter: Toxic Waste Under Fantasyland

Randy L. Schmidt's new biography on Karen Carpenter is one fascinating read.

As someone who has followed the career and personal lives of Karen and Richard Carpenter for almost 40 years, I was alternately, surprised, dismayed, curious, angry, sad and ultimately touched by his portrait of a beautiful young woman who could not escape the toxic world she actually lived in- the world far beyond the pristine Fantasyland imagined by listening to her art. No wonder the woman loved the recording studio!

The Carpenters hits on A&M Records almost seem to deny what was under the surface of it all: a possessive and insecure mother, a passive but loving father, and a strangely codependent and sometimes destructive relationship with her brother and musical partner. Yet a second look at their albums reveals the truth is there- see "Road Ode" from A Song for You album, "Ordinary Fool" from Voice of the Heart, and yes, "I Need to Be in Love" from A Kind of Hush.

Randy's book provides some insight into the reasons Karen struggled with anorexia but allows the reader to draw his own conclusions. Her life is more the focus than her career, but Randy balances the story well, including exposing real life bad guy ex-husband Tom Burris for what he was. Bravo to Karen's friends Karen "Itchy" Ramone and Frenda Franklin for daring to speak out.

Some little tidbits of new information will make you want to pick up this book:

  • Olivia Newton-John discussed working with Karen both in the studio and on tour
  • The truth behind Karen's marriage and why it was doomed before it happened
  • Karen was offered "Rock with You" and "Off the Wall" before Michael Jackson
  • Richard's shocking and short sighted response to her about the solo album
In all, we've got the story of a very real woman trapped by her own success and emotionally held captive by her family. Yet Karen was not a innocent bystander. Randy also reveals her flaws and human shortcomings, with her own destructive behavior towards herself and those who crossed her. Again, it's a fascinating read that will make you listen to the music with your eyes open.
Go here to see details and buy the book.

If you want to see/read more about Karen's last hours, this post will interest you.

Want more Karen and Richard? To date, there's over 100 more posts on this blog, including album reviews, rare photos, and more.

June 7, 2010

Glow Away

What can I say? The whole "Glow Fest" idea is horrible- a throwback to the "hip and edgy" days of California Adventure 1.0. The launch of World of Color deserves something substantially better than this. So do guests to the Disneyland Resort!
(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

Toonless in Tomorrowland

From the Imagineering book: Tomorrowland's Adventures in Science- Not much is known about this attraction, what's inside, who was the primary Imagineer or who the corporate sponsorship belongs to. Although so much is uncertain, one thing is for sure- this is when Disney Imagineers and the Walt Disney Company took the concept of Tomorrowland to mean new technologies, explorations in sciences of all types and predictions for the future. Not a toon to be found, and Disneyland was better for it.
(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

June 4, 2010

Joining the Ranks

Add Miley Cyrus, aka once Hannah Montana, to the ranks of young women selling out both arenas and morals. May be a good career choice, but it's a poor, poor personal choice. Ask Olivia Newton-John who tried to make her good thing better by riding Physical farther, giving us worse quality albums as the music got racier.
(Photo from The Improper, UK.)

June 3, 2010

Long Ago and Oh So Far Away

With another wedding just around the corner, life keeps changing! It seems like only yesterday that we were a sweet little family on vacation in sunny Florida! I do not live in the past as I would miss so much right in front of me- but instead I'm thankful to God for the family I have and for the wonderful life He has given.

June 2, 2010

One Little Spark of Inspiration...

To quote my favorite Dreamfinder: " ... is at the heart of all creation". Maybe our friends in Imagineering are getting it right this time?

The ugly duckling of Paradise Pier at California Adventure is looking quite beautiful these days! (How many of us thought we would never say that after the opening of the park in 2001?) Just when I think the suits are putting it all into autopilot, the Walt Disney Company surprises me. The sum of all these little changes add up to an impressive makeover.

As I've said before, it will never be Epcot and certainly never Tokyo DisneySea, but California Adventure may just transform into a great little second park in Anaheim. World of Color looks promising- a fine cousin to Illuminations, and the little changes to the trattoria show they are looking at the overall experience not just an attraction or two to wow us. That's the spirit!

Here's to the Imagineers keeping it going with all the next projects in line: The Little Mermaid, Carsland, and Buena Vista Street- and more! May the fruits of their labor and the willingness to spend some dough continue to bring in the guests!

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

June 1, 2010

The Little Things

It's those little things, the smallest choices, the seemingly minor decisions that can have the greatest imapct. That tiny bit of gossip, that off-handed comment that's slander, a lie to save our reputation, a choice to do something we later regret that can destroy our lives, causing great pain to others, and unravel community.

When will we learn our actions impact everyone around us, including innocent people? So, stop and think before you act. Then just stop. Spare yourself and others.