August 31, 2016

Notable and Quotable: Joseph Stalin

"It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything."
                                          Joseph Stalin 

August 30, 2016

Space Mountain Continues to Thrill

What is it about Space Mountain that continues to excite Disney theme park guests decade after decade? Be it the original in Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or newer versions in the Magic Kingdoms of Tokyo, Paris, and Hong Kong, the fan base continues to grow.

Iconic and timeless in its design, Space Mountain thrills Disney park visitors, becoming a rite of passage of sorts for younger guests who have "matured" to the next level of accessible attractions.

Take #1
When you queue up, the first thing you notice is the variety of ages and stages of life represented. One thing is in common: everyone loves the ability to blast off into outer space for an adventure only Disney Imagineering can provide. The allure is as powerful as Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, or a host of other classics. 

Take #2
If you're in need of a fresher course or just a fun read, pick up my detailed look at the attraction at every Disney park round the world. Photos, concept art and more await to light your imagination. Just click here.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

August 29, 2016

Tony Baxter's Mary Poppins Attraction

The great Disney and More website by Alain Littaye is one of my all time favorites for a reason, and he has done it again. Go to this link to see video and concept art for Imagineer Tony Baxter's never built Mary Poppins attraction for Disneyland.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

August 26, 2016

Friday in the Magic Kingdom, 1971

Friday in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Florida. 1971. Just get a look at this opening day map. It's a pretty cool one. Even without Space Mountain in Tomorrowland and the classic If You Had Wings nearby, guests couldn't wait to get down to the Sunshine State to see what was Walt Disney's final foray into the fantasy world. 

At the end of magnificently grand Main Street, a brand new Liberty Square called out. And what a beautiful place it was! The Hall of Presidents was a must-see stop, but it was the imposing Haunted Mansion at the edge of town that caught everyone's eye. The gothic structure was especially eerie at night. 

The premier version of the Country Bear Jamboree in Frontierland entertained us all, but this side of the frontier was a little empty for the time being. 

On the opposite side of the park, the beautiful Plaza Swan Boats would soon circle the park (and the Swiss Family Treehouse which sat on its very own island).  Tomorrowland was light on attractions, but a huge expansion was a year or so from making its presence known. In the meantime, the entrance to the area was elegant and futuristic without being instantly dated.

Fantasyland had its own surprises. Walking through the grand castle, the Mickey Mouse Musical Revue played to packed houses. A double tracked Mr. Toad's Wild Ride offered guest two different excursions with Toad and friends, and right across the way,  the elegant Nautilus submarines cruised a sparkling lagoon for a voyage 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

New attractions were on the drawing boards as well- The incredible and never built Western River Expedition and its replacement, Pirates of the Caribbean. The latter was quickly shoehorned into Adventureland after too many guests wondered why the pirates weren't also found in the Florida park. 

Also planned: a well deserved The Walt Disney Story, celebrating the accomplishments of the man that began it all. I saw it all in its early years, the beginning of many, many visits to come.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

August 25, 2016

Mom and Dad

My parents in Laguna Beach, enjoying the sun. Fresh from today's cel phone...

August 24, 2016

The Original Disneyland Autopia

There's something so retro, so vintage, just so cool about the old Disneyland attractions and the thought behind it all. (It's one of the reasons I love the Daveland site.) Honestly, these days I'm really tired of the flash, the hype, the corporate greed of the Walt Disney Company. From Iger on down.

Anyway, Tomorrowland and Autopia concept art. The Imagineers of old knew how to do it! Not a bad combination, I'd say. Take a look at this piece. 

It's in vogue to get rid of old school attractions (looking at you, Tokyo Disneyland), but the delights of simpler times are not to be forgotten. Millions of kids of all ages love attractions like the Autopia, or perhaps a leisurely cruise aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat, or just circling the entire park aboard the Disneyland Railroad. It's these timeless, smaller attractions that give each park some charm, some warmth, and a connection to generations past. They round out a roster of thrills, thrills, and more thrills. (Or should I say characters, characters, characters?)

Sure, I get Disneyland is not a museum. But neither is it a corporate  billboard made of steel and concrete. Enough said.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

August 22, 2016

Starry Starry Night

My good friend and awesome photographer Len Yokoyama has sent yet another incredible photograph! It's called a Perseid Meteor Shower. And the heavens declare God's glory:

Psalm 19

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
    It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
    like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
    and makes its circuit to the other;
    nothing is deprived of its warmth.
The law of the Lord is perfect,
    refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
    giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
    giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
    and all of them are righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold,
    than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
    than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern their own errors?
    Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
    may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
    innocent of great transgression.
14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."

August 19, 2016

Another Piece of Lost Epcot

Clearly, yesterday's piece on the Universe of Energy becoming an attraction based on Guardians of the Galaxy has fit a nerve. The whole Disney universe has been talking about this for weeks now. And it is the way it should be when the suits like Robert Iger decide to blow away something so iconic and central to the focus on what made EPCOT Center so amazing.

If the Universe of Energy provided the fuel to Future World, the epic Horizons was its heart and soul. The above piece of concept art by genius Herb Ryman perfectly captures the forward thinking but human focused pavilion. Some may argue that Spaceship Earth defines Epcot's core values, but I'd strongly counter that it was really Horizons that fully articulated what the park was all about.

The demolition of the attraction was the very first sign that the suits were moving away from what made the second Walt Disney World park unique and compelling. The next steps which brought the character invasion only cemented the direction. Frozen and Guardians are just now the major first fruits of that decision. EPCOT Center and all it stood for is dead.

Can Epcot be saved? That question (see the link) remains to be seen. Characters may come in- and even with good attractions- but it is still possible to treat this park with the respect it deserves. Will that happen? We'll have to wait to find out.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.) 

August 18, 2016

Goodbye to the Universe

It's time to say goodbye to the universe- Universe of Energy, that is. It was an Imagineering and engineering masterpiece. However, the corporate wheels seem to be in motion (no pun intended) for this once incredible opening day attraction at EPCOT Center to be demolished. In it's place- Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy.

Now rumored to a be combination dark ride and roller coaster, the attraction is a legal way to bring in a Marvel presence at Walt Disney World. Of course, multiple questions exist: Does it actually fit the theme of Future World? Why this attraction? Is this the continuation of making Epcot a park that only looks different than the Magic Kingdom?

When you think about it, folks who love Space Mountain but can't handle Mission:Space could have the best of both worlds- even if the property does not belong in this park. Am I an advocate of bringing movie properties in Epcot? No, not at all. Is Epcot needing some serious attention? Absolutely. But changing out Universe of Energy for a science fantasy film is not the answer. 

The truth is, as good as the original Universe of Energy was, the attraction is in need of a rehab. Ellen's Energy Adventure is also way past it's prime. Anyway you look at it, it's a dinosaur. 

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

Big Boy's First Day

First day of school! Remember what it's like? I am so proud of this little guy.

August 17, 2016

Answers I Like

It doesn't always happen in the way I want or in the time I think I need it, but today, God answered this morning's prayer right away. Being prompted to step out in faith with a project I felt He led me to do with His eternal purposes in mind, I needed big bucks to begin, and folks have been giving to make it happen. I was still under-funded, so I prayed today again. And the check came in the mail minutes ago. Totally unexpected- and encouraging. Especially for those days when I wonder if He's listening (although I know He always does). Thank you, Jesus!

August 16, 2016

A Rare Look at Never Built Pinocchio in Disneyland

A simple but rare piece of concept art for Disneyland's brand new Fantasyland. New for 1955, anyway! Pinocchio was a critically acclaimed film, a dark but endearing movie masterpiece. How would Walt's Imagineers bring it into the park? As we know, Monstro eventually made the cut as part of the Storybookland Canal Boats, but the rafts morphed into charming watercraft similar to what we envision in the canals of Amsterdam from years gone by.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

August 12, 2016

Is Dubai Disneyland on the Way?

With the first stage of Dubai Parks and Resorts opening October 31, can a version of Disneyland Dubai be far behind? The concept art for it is all over the web (and I should know as I first shared it in 2014). 

My guess to the question is "No". Why? First, with Legoland there and the inevitable Six Flags and Universal Studios, I can't imagine Disney will offer their product in a place that puts them at the same level as their competitors in the minds of travelers. Which is exactly what would happen if they do go there. 

Cars Land and Star Wars Land for the desert. 
Two of many, many pieces I have now shared all over the web.

Secondly, Shanghai Disneyland has just premiered, and my bet is the suits and the public are finding there is much more work behind the scenes in making this really work in addition to what's needed to keep it going. Including necessary expansion straight away.

Lastly, with Star Wars Land and Pandora World of Avatar- not to mention upcoming projects based on Marvel and Frozen, Disney is finally taking an active role in the competition for the buck. Their parks will soon once again offer compelling reasons to "do Disney". And just in the nick of time.

August 10, 2016

Design Detail: Magic Kingdom's New Fantasyland

The new attractions may have been less than what was desired, but there is no denying the amount of design detail put in by the Imagineers when it came to building the Magic Kingdom's truly beautiful New Fantasyland

Take a close look of the entrance to the Be Our Guest Restaurant. Really- go ahead. I left it in a very large size. Good friend and gifted photographer Len Yokoyama captured the nuances found in each of the pieces. The rock work, the statues of "beastly" animals, the glasswork and the tile mosaics. It's all there. Granted, you have to have a reservation to get this up close and personal, but from afar or close up, it's a work of art.

Do you love Len's photos and trip reports as much as I do? If so, stay tuned as he'll next take us on a journey to the Disneyland Resort and beyond. (I can't wait to see his photos of Cars Land!) Coming soon.

(Photograph copyright Len Yokoyama.)

August 9, 2016

Let's Hear It For the Ladies (A)

With my i-pod really tripping out today, I was treated to a variety of musical selections, beginning with the letter "A". So what was Linda Ronstadt doing at the beginning of the alphabet? Crooning the absolutely show-stopping "The Very Thought of You" with Aaron Neville. (Of course, yesterday I listened to "Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind", her almost half album full of duets with him. What a great disc! Including background vocals by Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson on the chilling "Adios".)

Akiko Kobayashi. The name should be familiar to anyone who has followed Richard Carpenter and his production efforts post- Karen.   Her album, City of Angels, is a solid effort. One day, I may do a full review of the disc as it is chock full of great selections. Her voice is warm and inviting, uniquely her own, and she's a fairly good songwriter as well. Should you ever want a glimpse of where Richard might have taken the Carpenters in the late 80's, just give a listen to the intoxicating "Only the Angels Know". 

She may be the first breakout star from Christian Contemporary to mainstream Pop, but Amy Grant is certainly no flash in the pan! Her classic smash "Baby Baby" popped on, and I grooved along. The album Heart in Motion holds many great memories for our family and our road trips. As do many of her albums before and since.

I remember A&M's then promo guy Jon Konjoyan working hard on this- and to good result. He relayed to me that he had been to Amy's home for a barbecue, recalling she was one of the nicest people he'd ever met. 

The Beatles are a very tough act to cover, but may I say that Anne Murray's remake of "You Won't See Me" still remains one of my very favorites? There's a "lift" to the tune that's irresistible. She's pretty quiet nowadays, and that really is a shame.

Annie Lennox. Sweet dreams are made of this! Her voice rocks- and I love her remake duet of Sting's "We'll Be Together". However, it was her remake of The Clash's classic Train in Vain that was rocking my world. Totally different arrangement and 100% just as powerful.

Last but certainly not least, the legendary Aretha Franklin. The woman is often imitated, but no one comes close to her power and sass! In so many ways, the music of the 80's and early 90's was instantly dated- and this song may be one of them- but I totally love "I Knew You Were Waiting For Me".  He may be somewhat of a cliche by now, but George Michael is great on the song- and even though he can't hold his own with Aretha, he comes pretty close.

One day, I'll cover the "B's" on my player, but for now, I'm enjoying the "A Team". What about you?

August 8, 2016

Vintage Fantasyland

Oh the charms of Disneyland in its humblest beginnings! This great shot of Fantasyland (photographer unknown) makes me smile.

Personal Confession

Time for an admission: I am intentionally shying away from anything personal on the blog right now. There's just so much I'm working on and working through. And there are some things I will not post on a public forum. 

August 6, 2016

Brazil for Epcot's World Showcase

Watching the Olympics sure makes me wish Disney Imagineering had gone ahead with their plans for an Epcot World Showcase version of Brazil! Of course, nowadays, any new thing added to World Showcase which actually focuses on the nation vs. a cartoon character would be welcome.

Black and white is also nice!

The concept art above, in color and in black and white, makes a pretty impressive statement. Either way, it's a shame it never made it past the drawing boards. First found on the great WDWMagic site courtesy an insider...

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

August 3, 2016

Disney To Remove The Great Movie Ride- Mickey on the Way?

Yes, it's true. Sad but true. Very trusted sources on the WDWMagic boards have confirmed it is on its way out. With the changeover of Tower of Terror to Guardians of the GalaxyMaelstrom to Frozen Ever After, Star Wars Land at Disneyland park, and now this, Robert Iger and company have shown us repeatedly that theme no longer matters at the Disney parks. It's all about promoting the latest hot properties.

A great video of this classic attraction.

Why does the removal of The Great Movie Ride matter? I'll write on that later, but for now, you'll get a glimpse of it by reading my very detailed history of Disney's Hollywood Studios at 25 years old. This massive posts includes rare concept art, vintage photographs from 1989, details on what was almost built, and much, much more. Go here and enjoy.

UPDATE: According to WDWNews Today, it seems Mickey Mouse himself is the focus of the new attraction opening 2019. (It was hinted at by a WDWMagic insider back in 2013!) So, now all is clear: The new Studios park is all about Disney properties and not films and filmmaking in general. 

Mickey's quite a surprise choice! I'd love to see the Great Movie Ride updated and a new Mickey attraction. Disney's got the space- and certainly the money.

Disney's Imagineers once had a different concept for a Mickey attraction. Artwork here.

August 2, 2016

Vintage Disneyland Tickets Returns- Sort Of

One of my favorite Disney blogs just returned- sort of. Vintage Disneyland Tickets came back on the scene on April 1- but I didn't see it until now. Here's his infamous "F Ticket". I hope Tim returns soon.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

Richard Carpenter's Russian Girls

Richard Carpenter and the girls from Russian music duo t.A.T.u.

The same duo that brought the world Gomenasai recorded his Friend or Foe. From their album 2005 Dangerous and Moving. These photos were taken when the duo recorded the video for the song.

August 1, 2016

It's Time

Finally hit the end. The end of feeling like crap, wondering why my metabolism is not like it should be. Time for a brand new round of discipline. Time to change it up, and time to change up my work out routine. Back to the running. It's time- hope I have the endurance.