February 28, 2014

Must See This Lingerie Ad!

                 This has to be one of the most impactful videos I have seen in quite awhile. It's in Thai but has English subtitles. It's worth every minute spent watching. 

Top Ten Gloria Estefan

A celebrated performer, writer, and all around nice lady, Gloria Estefan has accomplished a career most would envy. Her albums- both with Miami Sound Machine and solo- comprised of Latin, Pop, and Standards, have brought her fans from lovers of all genres all over the world. Including me.

Here's a look at my Top Ten of Gloria's best:

1- "If We Were Lovers" - This English language translation of her hit "Con Los Anos Que Me Quedan" first appeared on her Greatest Hits II disc. I loved the original version in Spanish- and this version is just as beautiful. The delicate guitar and yearning vocal perfectly express the tender words of love. This all time favorite takes me right to Miami and a tropical evening under a silver moon.

2- "Live For Loving You" - The first time I heard this song was in 1992 while Gloria was performing live on the televised opening of EuroDisney, now Disneyland Paris. "Ooh, La, La, La, La". Just lots of fun. (Can't embed the performance, but you can find it here.)

3- "I Know You Too Well" - Another ballad showing off her vocal gifts. It is well known that Gloria was a fan of Karen Carpenter, and this lovely piece showcases Gloria's voice to great effect.

4- "Don't Let This Moment End" - This is a blistering cut off the disco "Gloria!" album. Incredible production, great songs, and powerfully strong vocals reminiscent of Donna Summer at her best.  If you think the upbeat version is great- and it is- the rarer to find ballad version is just as enticing.

5- "Traces" - Sure, its a remake from Classics IV, but in an album of all remakes, it stands out. This is a case where the photography is better than the music, but it is still an album of much loved songs from hit makers past.

6- "What a Wonderful World" - The old Louis Armstrong classic. Every bit as good as you think it might be.

7- "Rhythm is Gonna Get You" - And, boy, does it. If you can help but tap your feet or get up on them, maybe you aren't listening to one of Gloria's catchiest songs ever.

8- "Christmas Through Your Eyes"- Beautiful, simple, charming. One of the few instances where a children's choir truly belongs on a song sung by an adult. 

9- "Here We Are" - This is one performance that took time to grow on me. It was probably the first time I truly heard Gloria's potential to be an artist for all time. Very mature lyrics befitting a woman who has lived a very full life. 

10- "Don't Release Me" - Another thumper from the "Gloria!" disc. With an absolutely sumptuous opening vocal line from her, the listener is pulled in and never let go. Wyclef Jean brings just the right touch of grit, complementing Gloria's most smokey vocal.

February 27, 2014

Ten Years and Deaf

Oftentimes, assumptions are easy to come by. People say or do things that, due to years of life experiences, lead us to come to the same conclusions as we have in the past in similar circumstances and events. Usually, its unfortunate. Sometimes, the results are startling.

Until recently, I have been frequenting the same gym for years. It was close to my office, had the equipment I needed, and most of all, it was cheap. A good combination. 

Over time, I came to know several of the regulars there. One man in particular, I had several interactions with. He was nice, a bit shy, and even quiet. We'd greet, smile, talk briefly, and move on. 

Then, one day I discovered why it there was so little conversation. He was speaking to a mutual friend, and I discovered this man was 100% totally deaf! I was shocked. He had been reading my lips and answering my questions or greeting perfectly well- if with few words.

There was a lesson there for me- things and people are not always what they seem. Like almost all of us, I'd guess, my hearing impaired friend become adept at compensating for a real loss. Very well, actually. We all do it at times, some of us most of the time. There was another lesson: we do not have to be limited by our difficulties or by our poor choices. We can move on and not live as victims, but instead live as victors- especially those of us who follow Jesus, the Greatest Victor of All Time. Gotta remind myself of that more often!

February 26, 2014

Alien Encounter of a Different Kind

Were you lucky enough to experience Alien Encounter at Walt Disney World before its disappeared? It only lasted a fun ten years, but Did you know plans were almost approved to add this thrilling and scary (but very fun!) attraction to the line-up at Disneyland? It's true.

Here's a piece of Imagineering's concept art to prove it. 

Tomorrowland circa 1967 was a world on the move. With innovative attractions and transportation systems on and above the ground, it was the place to be seen- and to be watched. But time made sure this park's Tomorrowland started looking to much like todayland. This attraction was to be one of the stars of the renewed "Tomorrowland 2055". 

Why didn't the scary show make the cut? Two main events: the over budget Disneyland Paris and parent feedback from the frightening attraction already built at Florida's Magic Kingdom. Cold feet and lack of cash meant this alien would stay foreign to Disneyland - for good.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

February 25, 2014

Alice Goes Down

If you're a fan of this Fantasyland classic, you'd better get over to Disneyland prior to March 9th. The Disney Parks Blog just announced that Alice in Wonderland will go down for an extended refurbishing. This means OSHA requirements will be met by changing the outside of the attraction once and for all. Hopefully, the Imagineers have great plans to meet the requirements without losing the whimsy. With laws so screwed up in California, who knows what is next.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

Design Detail: Epcot's Nine Dragons

If this were California Adventure circa 2001, any Disney park fan would expect the restaurants to have layered detail upon detail. But, it's Epcot, a park that opened in 1982 with a magnificent array of detail found in amazing attractions, quaint shops, and yes, distinctive restaurants. Back then, a quick stroll around World Showcase was a journey to places both exotic and more accessible to us in the USA.  

The China showcase remains one of my favorites. The film is still stunning if a bit disjointed by the most recent upgrade. My last visit to Walt Disney World in 2009 ended with our last night there. The park was closing after Illuminations, and we walked around the Mexico / China side of World Showcase to exit. I had heard that Nine Dragons Restaurant had been remodeled, so I wanted to take a peak inside. 

Opening the door, I found this beautiful glass mural depicting two dragons fighting for a rare pearl. Beautiful! With no one inside, I took the time to pull out my camera and take a shot. Isn't it an impressive piece of art?

(Photograph copyright Mark Taft.)

February 24, 2014

Downton Abbey Season Four Wrap-Up

To quote Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities as a very appropriate way to wrap up Season Four of Downton Abbey: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness..." 

Aside from the expected story line of how Lady Mary will survive her beloved Matthew's death, the fourth year of the series seemed to play out like an elongated cruise on television's Love Boat. It seemed everyone was eventually bitten by the bug- even Thomas Barrow, who seems more in love with himself than ever.

As perhaps expected, the most powerful performances came in episode one. Michelle Dockery's deft handling of Mary's widowhood was surpassed only by Penelope Wilton's subtle and extremely moving portrayal of a mother grieving her only son. Not to be outdone, Maggie Smith's delicate engagement of Mary with a rare confession of love for her granddaughter ranks right up there with the best the show has offered this year.

The Daisy/Ivy/Alfred triangle has run its course and much silliness ensued before it ended. Mrs. Hughes, it seems, has turned into quite the plotter, by necessity manipulating circumstances to save the day. Even though she found herself in the middle of what could be a great storyline, Lady Edith continues to bore, yet it seems to be more of the writer's fault than that of Laura Carmichael. Of course, Cora is always silly, more than a bit naive to everyone around her, and her husband the Earl of Grantham continues his downhill slide into insignificance. Let's not talk about Rose, but I will say that Gary Carr as Jack Ross deserves an extended time on the air.

The "Desire of Suitors"- well, it is a quite well chosen description. Evelyn Napier never stood a chance. The name betrayed him from the beginning. Tom Cullen's Lord Gillingham is charming, kind, but overly enthusiastic much too early. Clearly, Mr. Blake is the lead contender for Mary's affections, positioned as the one with a backbone but a good heart- shades of Matthew. Yet, I'm rooting for Tony. I'd love to see him do and say something unexpected to win Mary's respect and help her realize she doesn't know everything about him. 

Rumor's of Michelle Dockery's departure persist. I do hope she hangs around long enough to bring a satisfying ending to the show.  It's her wit, her resilience, and her dedication to taking care of the estate that make her appealing and propel the reason for watching. At this point in the series, should she leave, the cast and story would be lost without her. 

(Photograph by Nick Briggs.)

February 23, 2014

Is this Shanghai Disneyland's Tomorrowland?

An interesting piece of art was just leaded on the WDWMagic.com site. Could this actually be a concept for Shanghai Disneyland's futuristic area? We know that the Tron Light Cycle (Power Run) Coaster is certainly a bet to replace Space Mountain.  Is that what Imagineering's been up to? Would the suits in China be happy? How fast will more authentic pieces leak- or is this just a ruse to see who is sharing private information? More questions than answers- and the search for real information continues.

Good Friends Are For Keeps

(Our friends) Shari and Rob Davis stand in the doorway of their restored 1956 Airstream Safari travel trailer on Friday, June, 15, 2012. The Airstreams remain very popular. Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post. (C) 2012 The Denver Post, MediaNews Group

February 22, 2014

Stale Maps, Stale Parks

Just for fun I ordered my free Walt Disney World park maps. When the arrived in the mail today, I was looking forward to opening them up, thinking about my last visit and wondering if I'd be prompted to plan another. The answer was no. 

The retro style art was well done, the images of various attractions and the layout of each park echoed the great Disneyland maps of the past. But there wasn't a single depiction if any new attraction or area, New Fantasyland included (No Seven Dwarves Mine Train Coaster shown, by the way), that made me sit up and take notice. Then it hit me, the maps felt like each park. Muted, empty, and without life. Nothing to be found exciting, new, cutting edge, must see. Looks like my next Disney park visit with be California. 

(Art copyright The walt Disney Company.)

Unimpressive Idols

American Idol Season 13 is certainly unlucky! After viewing a handful of episodes, I am thoroughly unimpressed. The judges are probably the best mix since the original ones. Jennifer Lopez always displays her soft side (except on stage!), Keith Urban is kind but honest, and surprise hard nose Harry Connick Jr. is generally as dead on as Simon Cowell.  The show is past its prime when greats like Carrie Underwood and Daughtry made a splash. We won't see artists like them again. It's time for The Voice to return.

(Photograph by Michael Becker, Fox)

February 21, 2014

I Need to Be in Love

In happier news, traveling round the net, I found this trade advertisement for the 1976 Carpenters' single,  "I Need to Be in Love". Richard looks great, Karen looks pensive but pretty- and the  single should have been a much bigger hit than it ended up being. The choir killed its chances at Top 40 radio, and the production was way too soft for a Spring, Summer's Coming release. If it had half the power of the earlier Rainy Days and Mondays, it could have been much bigger. Regardless, it is a classic Carpenter/Bettis composition. And in hindsight, Karen was telling us more than she let on.  "So rarely spoken...so magnificently sung."

Imagining a Different Life

February 19, 2014


Can't recall ever being this disappointed in people. Disappointment after disappointment after disappointment. Thankfully, I know life will always change- and I know God hears my cries for help.

February 18, 2014

Happy Birthday Silly Honey

Although you're now a Mommy yourself, you will always be our little Silly Honey! Happy Birthday with love...

February 17, 2014

Vintage Disneyland Map

Freebies at Walt Disney's new Magic Kingdom were not unheard of. And sometimes, they yielded some great treasures. In 1956,  Bank of America, one of Disneyland's proud sponsors, offered this map to any guest at request. A stylized look to the map, now retro but then very consistent with the times, gave visitors a quick look at the attractions, shops, and eateries to be enjoyed.

A quick look finds some now long gone favorites: the Conestoga Wagon Ride, Stagecoach Rides, the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship Restaurant, and more. Miss the Welch's Grape Juice Bar? I do, but here it is, right on the map. 

Back then as now, even bathrooms were marketed, hence the Bathroom of the Future in Tomorrowland. (Take that, Tangled restrooms at Florida's New Fantasyland!)

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

February 15, 2014

The Betrayal of Frozen

The success of Disney's Frozen comes as a surprise to me. I saw it opening day, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The story held together pretty well. The animators created a beautiful landscape and incredible village begging for a full-size replication. Yet, I did not see the movie as equivalent to the Disney classics such as Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid. The music was largely ordinary. Even the "it" song, Let It Go, rang hollow and leaving the theater meant not being able to remember a single melody. But the story was strong, the animation beautiful. Expecting it to have a good run, I put the film in the back of my mind.

Then, the box office numbers continued to build week after week. Talk continued. "Great film, instant animated classic, huge moneymaker." Attractions planned, meets and greets with four hour waits, parade floats, and even talk of a sequel. What was I missing? Eventually, I decided to see it once again. 

The opening symphony of voices reminded me more of The Lion King than I remembered- it felt a bit bloated and self-grandising. Not a good start. Once the noise died down and the story began, I found it more appealing, if not redundant to Disney princess stories of the past: girl longs, girl meets boy, trouble ensues, happily ever after. 

It was in the second viewing, once I knew the story and watched for the clues, that the power of the film took hold. At its heart, Frozen, is the story of betrayal... and the triumph of love. Aren't the most powerful of stories the ones that include this angle? (Including the most famous one of all- The Son of God being betrayed and crucified for our sins. Him choosing to forgive us in spite of it. If that isn't the triumph of love over betrayal, I do not know what would be. But back to the film...)

Betrayal touches at the heart of the human experience. Every person lives through betrayal at one point or another. Some grow bitter, some thrive through it, and others find forgiveness for the person who wronged them. The act of forgiveness takes time- and it does not necessarily include reengaging in relationship. Would anyone but a fool counsel a beaten wife to return to her abuser? Should a molested child be forced to have a relationship with that deviate uncle? Of course not! Yet forgiveness must be worked through for the benefit of the one wounded. 

In the film, Anna and Elsa work through their very real issues. Anna doesn't understand the motives behind her sister's rejection and presses her for understanding. Elsa responses defensively, then in anger. Eventually owning her anger and making it a motivation for how she lives her life, she continues in this mode to near disastrous results. Thankfully -and every princess story must have a romantic angle- after a false start filled with manipulation, love steps in, real love. Revealing what's truly inside her, Anna saves the day and the relationship between the siblings is brought back to solid ground.

Now I understand why repeated viewings have built such a loyal audience. The story is unconventional and gripping. The central  characters are far more complex than we expect. The plots twists shock us. (In fact, I heard a very audible gasp from several viewers when darker secrets are revealed in the film.) There's no gap or weak point in the flow of the film. The beauty of the landscapes and settings hold their own with other eras of Disney greatness. The songs... well, they remain good but are still subpar to previous beloved hits. In fact, the movie may have been even more powerful if it were not a musical. Darker, perhaps, but more effective.

Whatever Disney does with the success of Frozen has yet to be fully seen. Revamp Epcot's under kept Maelstrom?  Finally use that trackless technology for a wild sleigh ride through the icy roads of Scandinavia to tell the story? The expected meet and greet whose queue never ends? Disney will keep its pulse on the popularity of its latest achievement- and families everywhere have a new tool in which to tell an important story.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

Tennis- Young and Old

A new album by Tennis- with a listen!

February 14, 2014

To My Only Valentine

We have such a wonderful story to tell! One of God's goodness beyond what we ever guessed...

So many years ago- 33 in fact- on this day, my wife and I met on a blind date. She went a bit begrudgingly but not me, as this was the daughter of one of my friends. Neither of us thought about it being Valentine's Day. (Good thing because Valentine's Day had been permanently stained years prior- too private a story to tell, but it wasn't pretty!) To us it was just a three year old girl's birthday party; the same little girl who would be the flower girl at our wedding in the Spring. 

What a gift my wife is from Him! After all these years, her beauty shines brighter and her heart to love and serve God continues to delight and impress me. Thank you, Stephanie,  for being my best friend, for being the wonderful mother of our children, and my favorite person to spend the day with... at home or overseas, for work or for play. (And by the way, you're also a terrific grandmother! Oh, how the years fly...)

Happy Valentine's Day! You are still the only one for me!

February 13, 2014

Disney Attractions Never Built: Port Disney

Oh, what could have been! In fact, preparing these latest series of posts, I almost named the Disney Attractions Never Built, "Great Opportunities Missed"! You're looking at a piece of art for the aborted Port Disney, the predecessor to the elegant, expensive, but extremely successful Tokyo DisneySea

Had the project been built as deigned, the city of Long Beach, California, would have become home to a Disney styled aquatic theme park and more. Disney already owned the nearby Howard Hughes' airplane Spruce Goose and the ship Queen Mary. Both acquired from Jack Wrather- who Walt Disney persuaded to build the Disneyland Hotel when his cash was tied up into creating Disneyland

Plans were announced in 1991 and quickly abandoned. Some say the entire idea was actually a ruse, a power play by Disney to get the City of Anaheim to fund very expensive infrastructure improvements as Imagineers prepped a second gate for the parking lot of Disneyland. If it was, it worked.

Whatever the truth, Port Disney was never built, and the plans for the water based theme park morphed into what became Tokyo DisneySea. The brilliant, forward thinking executives of the Oriental Land Company previewed the designs for the proposed second Disney gate in Japan. With their philosophy closely aligned with Walt's- quality creates loyalty and high returns on investment- they immediately moved ahead, realizing it would be the new gold standard for outdoor entertainment. The results speak for themselves.

As for California, with Port Disney now dead and the City of Anaheim committed, Michael Eisner and company planned for Westcot, a new take on Epcot, which quickly gave way to the much cheaper to build California Adventure. It was a bait and switch for guests, the city, and eventually for the Walt Disney Company. To say the Golden State themed park was a flop would be kind. The deservedly maligned amusement park became an overnight embarrassment to the company, the fodder for late night television jokes, created open disdain from fans, and a let loose a financial drain instead of being an income builder. Within the company, the disaster turned into a divide among creatives and  executives which has never truly healed.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

February 12, 2014

When Reality is Better Than Imagineering Art: Disneyland Paris' Frontierland

Walt Disney Imagineering art always promises grand vistas, gorgeous colors, and a scale and scope that makes even the smallest addition look like it is the next "E" Ticket attraction. I love it! From The beautiful Tower of Terror art for Japan, to just about everything created for EPCOT Center, each piece seems worth digging out that magnifying glass to look for details.

The concept piece for Disneyland Paris (above) is absolutely stunning. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad commands the eye as the centerpiece of the land and the propellant of the story behind the town, Thunder Mesa. Dramatic with its piercing sunset, the concept calls for further investigation. In the shadows, viewers will find the foreboding Phantom Manor in the distance, perched high up on a cliff. 

Every once in awhile- before the suits get to cutting the budget- the end result of what's actually built turns out better than what the artist could paint. Such is the case with the park's Frontierland.

The photo above is taken by me from Fort Comstock, up in the arcades. (Click on it for a large view.) It's a darker, overcast sky in the afternoon of winter. I wish I would have taken this exact same shot during my first two visits to the park instead of my last. The first trip came in Fall of 1998, and the second in the Summer of 2007. The most recent trip was January 2013, unfortunately when the photograph wouldn't look as close as possible to the artwork. On the other hand, seeing Paris and Disneyland Paris at Christmas is worth the trip.

As with each land in Paris, Frontierland is expansive, impressive in scope and scale. Designed for each land to be visually hidden from the others, it's easy to suspend belief and soak in the time and place created as being real. 

Being very familiar with both Stateside versions, it was a bit disorienting to find familiar attractions in different locations. Yet that is what makes this park so fun to explore. And once inside the doors of a familiar attraction, the Imagineers have made sure everything else is fresh and different from what you can find back home. Team Leader Tony Baxter did a terrific job bringing in the best of the crew for design. Kudos go to Imagineer Pat Burke for creating the most perfect Frontierland ever. 

Each attraction here is part of a larger story. I'll leave it for you to discover, but let's just say gold, greed, and murder make for a pretty intriguing piece of theme park. Not necessarily child friendly, although it is easy for kids to not see the connection and still have a great time here. We spent several hours touring the Wild West that never was. After three visits, and hopefully more in the future, Frontierland remains my favorite destination in the park. 

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company. Photograph copyright Mark Taft.)

February 11, 2014

Narrow Minded?

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  (Matthew 7:13-14)

February 10, 2014

New Shanghai Disneyland Art

Cruising other Disney blogs and sites can bring big rewards! Are you as curious about Shanghai Disneyland as I am? If so, on the MiceAge/MiceChat boards, poster Randy Savage has uncovered a potential new piece of concept art for the Pirates of the Caribbean themed area. He found it on a page labeled "This is Mr. B." A quick look at this image, enhanced a bit by me, shows a plan that matches what readers have been told: a battle of ships behind a Caribbean town, an island for exploration, and a brand new revamped version of a Disney classic. This time, unlike Tokyo Disneyland or Disneyland Paris, this version of the iconic attraction is not from Imagineer Marc Davis' version but movie inspired and stars Johnny Depp aka Captain Jack Sparrow, from the beginning. Ahoy, Mateys!

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

A Bit of Sochi at Epcot

The Sochi Olympics are certainly a hot news topic. Hotel rooms in disarray, reports of insufficient security into the Olympic Village, corruption, kickbacks, and more. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to travel and see the country without having to encounter the harder traveling conditions? Well, truthfully, usually what's different about a country is what makes the travel exciting. New food, new experiences, walking around touring and hearing languages different than your own. With the cost of airfare rising again- and mileage plans such as United Airlines Mileage Plus cutting their travel rewards programs by increasing how many you need for a free flight- it would be terrific if you could visit a place such as Russia without all the headaches.

It almost happened. Yes, a Russian pavilion was this close to being built at Epcot's World Showcase. A couple of times, actually. Imagineers envisioned giving guests the opportunity to visit Red Square, enjoy an attraction taking riders into the history and culture of the land, and the chance to eat some authentic food. 

What stopped this from becoming a reality? Short-sightedness. As with the poor planning and execution of some parts of this year's Winter Olympics, the suits at the Walt Disney Company instead chose to focus on the short term: big bonuses for executives (just another form of payola) and quick return on stock instead of long term investments for continued growth. So, this project, like so many others, is now relegated to on-line discussion, coffee table books, and fodder for Imagineer presentations. Decisions like this, and the infusion of character tie-ins at attractions which have absolutely no business incorporating Disney characters in the show, have helped make Epcot a shadow of its former greatness. Another sad story of greed.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

February 9, 2014

Yesterday: The Beatles Invasion- 50 Years

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Beatles invasion, here are just a few of my favorite tunes by the group that changed musical history:
  • "I Saw Here Standing There"- I grew up on Motown, so unbelievably, I did not know the Beatles music as theirs until after 1970. This song, among the first I'd heard with knowledge, stands out for its playful, youthful vibe- the power of boy sees girl. And isn't that the fun part of Rock and Roll?
  • "Day Tripper" - The opening notes are instantly recognizable, the melody sinks into your brain and never leaves. 
  • "The Long and Winding Road" - Sentimental and symphonic, the pure emotion of the piece overwhelms me at times. If there was any doubt Paul McCartney and John Lennon would be legends, this puts the argument to rest.
  • "Back in the USSR" - I just love to listen to this as I run! With its lyrical tongue in cheek tribute to the Beach Boys, the song is just Fun, Fun, Fun.
  • "Yesterday" - no explanation needed, is there?

February 7, 2014

Herb Ryman's Liberty Square or Was It Liberty Street Disneyland?

 Yesterday, I shared a piece of concept art for Liberty Square in Florida's Magic Kingdom, a few thoughts on the attractions, shops, and dining options to be found. In 1975, it was the land I instantly wanted more of. Little did I know back then that the inspiration for the place came from ideas Walt Disney himself had for a similarly themed avenue at Disneyland in California. Or was it to be a full-fledged land in the Anaheim park? Keep reading...

Here's a piece of concept art I had never seen before... and I do not remember where this came from, so please forgive me for not giving credit where it is due. I'll take a guess that the Imagineer responsible for this art is none other than the legendary Herb Ryman (whose rather unseen work appears paragraphs below). The layout of the proposed addition is quite different than what was finally built years later in an entirely new theme park. I'm sure the attention to detail would be found, but keeping the design linear by necessity would create an entirely different experience. Contrast this piece seen above to the classic art of the Florida entrance below:

Of course, color aside, this piece creates an area a bit more expansive and inviting. Note George Washington never made an appearance at the bridge entrance, and sadly, the boats that once traveled under the bridges (Plaza Swan Boats), no longer do. The missing slice of kinetic energy creates an odd stillness to the area- something that a Magic Kingdom park should never have. In contrast, Imagineer Tony Baxter and team understood the impact and importance of movement in drawing crowds. At Disneyland Paris, most every land comes equipped with its own "weenie" to draw guests in.

Back to Herb Ryman. This piece above is labeled "Liberty Square Waterfront" and is dated 1964, the year Walt starting gobbling up land in the swamps of Florida. Could it be that artwork design on an East Coast kingdom really was in full swing by then? Or was Walt going to use a parcel of Disneyland shoreline to add a taste of Colonial America to his beloved park? 

It would have been a kick to find another elegantly executed, historically based, land at the bend from Frontierland. Certainly the Sailing Ship Columbia could have had its dock moved and then the Mark Twain could have found itself properly placed in New Orleans Square. Lest you think that to be a logistical nightmare, let me say- both ships are rarely run concurrently.

Perhaps both Liberty Square and New Orleans Square point to the reason I find Epcot's World Showcase so appealing. The detailed environments and attractions found within encourage exploration and the discovery of culture and history. It's something lost on many guests to the Magic Kingdom styled parks today as they rush from attraction to character meet and greets and back.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

February 6, 2014

The Pursuit of Liberty (Square, That Is!)

Just as Disneyland's New Orleans Square stands as its crown jewel, it is Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom that is set apart as an achievement in taking guests to another place and time. During my first visit in 1975, I was taken aback by the "sense of place" which created the warmth and charm in this area. Little details were to be found just about everywhere I glanced. With great attractions in a spectacular setting, period appropriate merchandise, and a strong sense of patriotism in all that is good in a Young America, this land is a winner. 

Over the years, much of both has changed, but the Hall of Presidents continues to stir me. The Liberty Tree Tavern and the Columbia Harbour House are among my first choices when I want to dine in the Kingdom. Lastly, but certainly not least, I find the creep factor of the Haunted Mansion to be superior than the California mansion due to the choice of design and it's location high above it all. Loving our heritage, Liberty Square is the one area of the park that I wish were expanded with new attractions, streets to explore, and discoveries to be found.

Could there have been a Liberty Square in Disneyland? Come back tomorrow to see some evidence...

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)