November 30, 2013

Frozen Treat

Unexpectedly good. Very, very good, in fact. Disney's Frozen holds its own with the classics. The long in coming adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson's relatively unknown "The Snow Queen" warms hearts with interesting characters, breathtaking atmosphere, and a storyline that Disney has never worked before. 

The princess siblings Anna and Elsa have a mysterious, and at times, unfortunate bond which causes much difficulties between them. Forming the heart of the film, the characters are richer than you'd expect from Disney. The same can be said for the two suitors. Commoner Kristoff and royal Hans compete for Anna's hand. Which one will she choose? 

The voice actors Kristin Bell (Anna), Idina Menzel (Elsa), and Josh Gad as frosty sidekick Olaf, do a particularly good job with the task at hand.  The music and songs are pretty good too- much more complex at second thought than just ordinary and serviceable. In my mind, the standout number is the comedic "In Summer" by the lovable and charming snowman.

What is a great Disney film without excellence in animation? The animation here almost steals the show. The kingdom of Arendelle is so beautifully created and atmospheric that there should be a travel advisory for Scandinavia at the end of the film. The special effects are stunning- snowy storms, transitions to glistening ice,  and the rebirth of summer to the kingdom are fantastic- among the best Disney animators have ever accomplished. You must see this in the big screen. Do not wait until its inevitable home DVD release. Do buy it when it arrives, but in the meantime, you can click on the above image to see what I mean.

There's not one single standout number a la "Under the Sea" or slice of animation that matches "I See the Light" from Tangled, but instead there is a compelling cohesiveness as each piece part works together to create an absolutely winning combination. Make no mistake- superlatives and promotional material aside, Frozen is a treat for the family.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

November 29, 2013

November 28, 2013

More Than Turkey

It's Thanksgiving Day- and here's my list of what I'm truly thankful for. Of course, in no particular order. If that were the case, I'm thankful most of all for the gift of eternal life that Jesus gives to all who turn over their lives to Him. 

November 27, 2013

One More Minute of Excellence

Do your New Year's plans include a trip to Disneyland Paris? Well, they absolutely should! Why? If you are a park fan, you'll find new versions of old favorites like Space Mountain (shown), Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion (known as Phantom Manor here), and brand new attractions designed to delight. Tony Baxter and his Imagineering team excelled to new heights here!

On this blog, there are many detailed articles and trip reports. Lots of photos! However, I do not think a single photograph that I have taken compares to the one above. It's by Taysikuu from Go check it out or the original thread found on MiceChat.

(Photograph copyright One More Minute.)

November 25, 2013

The Voice's One to Beat

James Wolpert showed incredible chops and finesse doing Queen's great Somebody to Love, but it is Jacquie Lee that's the one to beat.    

Her incredible version of the Jackson5's classic Who's Lovin' You - wow- nothing short of stellar. Sets her apart for The Voice crown.

Making an Appearance at Shanghai Disneyland

Long ago, in a land far away, this piece of concept art was sent to me. It was sent labeled "HKDL", and was probably a piece designed for an unbuilt attraction mixing Countdown to Extinction with a roller coaster along the lines of Animal Kingdom's aborted Excavator. One of many planned for the woeful at opening Hong Kong Disneyland. Given the released attraction list for Shanghai, I think we'll see some of this at Adventure Isle and the Roaring Rapids attraction. Not the coaster, but a watery version of a thrill ride. Time will tell.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

November 23, 2013

While It's Cold in Colorado...

From my wonderful pilot friend who flies in Hawaii, a little gift of warmth and sunshine from the Aloha State! 

November 22, 2013

Shanghai Disneyland's Attraction List

I'm gonna be so bold as to say this: I've just seen the attraction list for Shanghai Disneyland on the great WDWMAGIC site, of course posted by the Spirit. I'm not sure its any better or any worse than what premiered at Hong Kong Disneyland on opening day, but it is a lot better than the mess found at California Adventure or Disney Studios Paris at opening! Further, I think it is a very smart business move to base the attractions on Disney's intellectual properties. It could also yield great results for park fans stateside. If Shanghai brings in the big bucks, the company should be able to cover losses on My Magic+ and start building some terrific attractions once again!

So, thanks once again to a great site- and now I know where to find it on mine as I peruse its contents and think it all through. 

Adventure Isle

(Shop) Adventure Supplies

(Shop) Laughing Monkey Traders
(Shop) Rainbow Frog Trinkets
(Show) Storehouse Stage
(Food) Piranha Bites
(Food) Tribal Table
(Ride) Roaring Rapids
(Ride) Soaring Over the Horizon
(Walk-through) Camp Discovery Challenge Trail
Happy Circle


(Food) Corner Market

(Food) Merlin's Magic Recipe
(Food) Royal Banquet Hall
(Food) Tangled Tree Tavern
(Food) Troubadour Treats
(Misc Attraction) Enchanted Storybook Castle
(Misc Attraction) Sword in the Stone
(Play Area) Evergreen Playhouse
(Ride) Hunny Pot Spin
(Ride) Peter Pan-s Flight
(Ride) Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
(Ride) The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
(Shop) Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
(Shop) Castle Gifts
(Shop) Hundred Acre Goods
(Shop) Mountain Treasures
(Show) Storybook Castle Stage Spectacular
(Walk-through) Alice in Wonderland Maze
(M&G) Storybook Court
Hundred Acre Wood
"Once Upon a Time" Adventure


(Food) Chip & Dale's Treehouse Treats

(Food) Fairy Godmother's Cupboard
(Food) Picnic Basket
(Food) Pinocchio Village Kitchen
(Food) Timothy's Treats
(M&G) Meet Mickey and Friends
(Operations) First Aid/Baby Care
(Operations) Tip Board
(Ride) Dumbo the Flying Elephant
(Ride) Fantasia Carousel
(Shop) Be Our Guest Boutique
(Shop) Casey Junior Trinket Train (ODV)
(Shop) Melody Time Gifts
(Shop) Mickey and Minnie's Mercantile
(Show) Westside Performance Venue
Carefree Corner
Gardens of Imagination
Melody Gardens
Teahouse of the Wandering Moon
Voyage to the Crystal Grotto


(Food) Club 33

Avenue M Arcade
Il Paperino
Lucky Express


(Operations) Lockers

(Food) Mickey & Pals Market Cafe
(Food) Remy's Patisserie
(Show) PORTAL -- Walt Disney Theatre


(Food) Sweethearts Confectionary

(Shop) Whistle Stop Shop


Well Spring

Alpha, Beta, Gamma
Arena E
(Show) Arena E Stage


(Food) Spiral Snacks

(Food) Stargazer Grill
(Food) The Light Stuff (ODV)
(M&G) Meet & Greet
(Operations) First Aid -- Tomorrowland
(Ride) Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue
(Ride) Jet Packs
(Ride) Tron Lightcycles Power Run
(Shop) Intergalactic Imports
(Show) Stitch Encounter
Power Supply

Toy Story Land

(Food) Celebration Cafe

(Food) Toy Box Cafe
(Ride) Rex's Racers
(Ride) Slinky Dog Spin
(Shop) SHOP
(Show) Woody's Roundup

Treasure Cove

(Food) Pintel & Rigetti's Grub to Grab

(Food) The Snackin' Kracken
(Food) Tortuga Treats
(Ride) Explorer Canoes
(Ride) Pirates of the Caribbean -- Battle for the Sunken Treasure
(Shop) Barbossa's Bounty
(Shop) Doubloon Market
(Show) El Teatro Fandango
(Show) Stunt Theater
Jolly Gypsy
Ocean Song
Shipwreck Shore
Siren's Revenge

November 21, 2013

Tokyo DisneySea Mermaid Lagoon Concept

Every once in awhile, the Disney Parks Blog dishes up a piece of beautiful concept art previously unseen by many outside Imagineering. Like today. Just checking in to see if there's anything of interest, and while the articles were not, the header art certainly was!

Tokyo DisneySea's beautiful Mermaid Lagoon. There it was in its rendering glory- even more stunning in the large image. You can click on it. Yes, we Disney park fans know TDS is the epitome of what Imagineering can do when given the right vision and elaborate budget. Just as we know what happens when corners are cut in budget, space planning, and vision. (Yes, I'm looking at you Ariel's Undersea Adventure- a "D" Ticket that is enjoyable but had the potential to be a super "E" as in the glory days of Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. Sadly it is not.)

As with many things Disney, the planning art can be deceiving. But in this case, all you have to do is find photos and video of the end result to know Tokyo DisneySea and its Mermaid Lagoon really deliver what was promised.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

November 16, 2013

Jungle Cruise Rarities

Had to take a bit of a break this morning. Well, I looked at my own blog and realized the last piece was a bit grim from a graphic standpoint. So, while I was investigating previous articles on the great Passport to Dreams Old and New site, I stumbled across this beautiful, and to my eyes unseen, piece of concept art from Imagineer Marc Davis. 

We all know his work:  Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion, Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland, and this, from the Jungle Cruise. Magic Kingdom style. I'd never seen this and am admittedly becoming a bit of a Disney pessimist. Who says wonderful surprises are not in store?

(Art copyright the Walt Disney Company.)

November 14, 2013

Destroying Addictions

Why are we drawn to what destroys us? It seems like friends are going backwards into the very things, the very habits, that Jesus freed them from. It hurts me to watch- and I can fall into it myself too if I'm not careful. "We are as free as we want to be!" I tell myself and others. Cutting, porn, you name it- our addictions can destroy us every time we say yes instead of no. If you need help, find it- please. "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free." Galatians 5:1.

November 13, 2013

Tired Before It Even Begins

Between major events at work, in my volunteer life, and at home, the next two weeks already exhaust me! Unfortunately, they haven't started yet, but I'm already tired. Trust me, posts will be few.

November 11, 2013

Wordless Thank You

(photo from

November 8, 2013

Yesterland Introduces Tomorrow at Universal Orlando

One of my favorite sites to visit is Werner Weiss' terrific Yesterland.  On today's post, Werner introduces at look at Disneyland's House of the Future by starting off with a look at Universal Orlando's new and not-quite-open yet Cabana Bay Beach Resort. The styles certainly tie together, with a cool mid-century retro vibe that appeals to me and probably thousands of other folks, too. Here I was thinking my next visit to Orlando would mean a stay at Universal's beautiful Royal Pacific Resort. I just have to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the new Diagon Alley expansion. Hmm, this is making me rethink things a bit... including spending a bit more time at Universal than I thought. No matter, go to Yesterland now. Really.

(Photograph copyright Werner Weiss.)

November 6, 2013

Jingle Cruise All the Way

Must be a Jungle Cruise kind of day! Disney Parks blog just released a poster to promote their Christmas themed Jingle Cruise. Happening at both Disneyland and at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, this should be an enjoyable diversion. Kudos to the suits for trying something new. (See my Jungle Cruise article below.)

(Art copyright The Walt Disney World.)

Heads Are Gonna Roll

By most any measure, at the opening of Disneyland, the crowing achievement on the attraction list was the Jungle River Cruise, the centerpiece of the new park's lushly beautiful AdventurelandWalt Disney was justifiably proud of his Imagineers for this thrill ride through the exotic and dangerous. This beautiful piece of concept art depicts headhunter country. Guests instantly queued for the attraction and have never stopped. It's a long time favorite with corny jokes from skippers with just the right playful, irreverent attitude.

The significance of the attraction goes beyond opening day and its continued popularity. I would venture this attraction and its impact had the most to do with Michael Eisner giving the ok to build Disney's Animal Kingdom. Sure, Michael's competitive nature was also driven by Busch Gardens' success down in Tampa, but I believe it was also the public's love of the attraction- and Joe Rohde's clever tiger in the boardroom stunt- that tipped the scales in favor of a brand new wild animal kingdom.

Today, the newer Jungle Cruise inspired park is not the success the suits hoped it would be. Long story short, the team working with James Cameron on the Pandora / Avatarland project had better make it a huge success- or more heads are gonna roll.

(Art copyright the Walt Disney Company.)

Eyes Still Sparkles

After a day like yesterday, I knew I had to blow off some steam...
So, today, I went out for a little exercise. What should come on my i-pod? An old favorite- Art Garfunkel's remake of the classic "I Only Have Eyes For You". I hadn't heard this sentimental favorite in awhile. My wife and I love this song! It sounded so perfect, so nuanced, no sensual, with its delicate lead vocals, doublemint guitars, and ethereal orchestration. The layers of background vocals (all Artie) just make it a perfect love song for a starlit night with your lover. Beautiful.

November 4, 2013

Goofy's Kitchen- Fun for All Ages!

Who says the Disneyland Hotel's restaurant and character experience Goofy's Kitchen is just for kids? Not me! Here are my wonderful in-laws enjoying the morning with Chip or Dale. (Always get them confused!) Love the Kitchen's Creme Brulee French Toast!