March 31, 2019

Everyone Needs a Little Yesterland

With changes to the Disney theme parks coming faster than you can say "Another Marvel / Star Wars movie?", there's one resource all park fans need to know about. Yesterland by Werner Weiss. He has documented most all the changes to each theme park. From Walt's original park on, with a keen eye and a great sense of humor to go along with official images from promotional items, Werner's site is a must read. 

March 30, 2019

One for the Record

Here's a nice, nice shot of the charming, old school approach to Disney hotel gardens. This waterfall area provided a cool respite from those hot August days in California and brought a romantic touch to the walking path in the twilight of evening. This photo of the grotto at the Disneyland Hotel before its major overhaul came from poster Phrubruh at the WDWMagic Forums. 

March 29, 2019

My Sister, My Friend

Happy Birthday to You! (Repeat several times.) Thanks for being a wonderful sister and friend. If it weren't for you, I would have never met Karen Carpenter...
(Story here.)

March 28, 2019

Live from Chip and Joanna Land

No, the greatest theme park in Texas is not Six Flags nor is it Sea World! The best Texas theme park is actually in Waco, and it's called Chip and Joanna Land

Chip and Joanna Gaines have created such an interesting series of businesses- and I'm a huge fan of what they do and more importantly the Spirit in which they do it. 

My youngest daughter and her family are down there right now as we speak, and maybe she'll kindly send me photos throughout the day. I'll be updating this post as/if they come in. Enjoy!
Update: The line to get into the Magnolia Flour bakery is down the street at 2pm on a Thursday...

Video of Ant-Man and The Wasp: Nano Battle!

Hong Kong Disneyland finally opened its long awaited Ant-Man and The Wasp: Nano Battle today. Here is some exclusive video, an entire ride through:

Our heroes make an appearance off the television screens as well! Photo below:

Does it include a small tribute to Disneyland's classic Adventure Thru Inner Space? Watch and decide for yourselves. 

Heroes are doing it for themselves- and you're invited along!

Either way, it looks like a solid next step revision of Buzz Lightyear into a Marvel themed attraction. By 2023, the big E Ticket is next to come.

Thanks to!

The Girl Drummer

Just a small trio of shots of Karen Carpenter, the drummer. Yes, she certainly was a beloved singer- even to this day- but this A&M Records superstar was also an excellent drummer. And she loved to sit behind the kit!

For those of us blessed to be able to see Carpenters in concert, we'll be so ever thankful to brother Richard Carpenter for convincing Karen to come out front from her drums and sing from center stage.

Of course, Karen always played at least a bit of the instrument, be it in concert or when she appeared on several of their television shows. Fans loved the joy on her face as she pounded away!

However, as expected, Karen Carpenter will always been known as the consummate singer. Even to this day three decades after her unfortunate passing, her warm buttery vocals remain dear to music fans all over the world.

Author Randy L. Schmidt of Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter has a new book coming out next month. The focus is on each of their studio albums including interviews with music illuminaries as well as this blessed unknown blog writer. It'll be a great read and a great volume to see as it's filled with never before photographs including those of her famous solo album.

March 27, 2019

Carefree at Disneyland

For almost 20 years, the INA (Insurance Company of North America) sponsored Carefree Corner was the place to go to sign the guest registration book at Disneyland. After the sponsorship ended, the location was host to a variety of other functions.

The above photo from the Gorillas Don't Blog website reveals the elegance of the shops and restaurants found on Main Street U.S.A., where even the most utilitarian services were housed in lovely surroundings.

Free of charge, INA also provided a nice guidebook of Disneyland, listing attractions, services, shops and restaurants for each land. 

From the Mouse Museum.

There was a list of attractions by ticket, individual maps of each land, and quite the variety of information you never thought you needed to know... until you did.  

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

March 25, 2019

Six Year Miracle

Yesterday was the 6th anniversary of a miracle. Two actually. Our youngest daughter was pregnant with her daughter and had a stroke, landing her in the intensive care unit for almost a week. All while I was at work overseas. To say it was touch and go would be putting it mildly, and my poor wife handled it all with God's grace. 

She couldn't take the normal medicine as it would cause her to lose the baby. It was instead determined that twice daily shots was the course of action, but the blood clot in her brain would remain for now. (After much prayer with the laying on of hands by our family and friends, God removed the clot, leaving only a slight trace outline to remind us of it.)

After a several months, our sweet and lively granddaughter was born! And God spared our daughter's life as she had to be on blood thinners, bringing a risk of bleeding out during delivery.  

It doesn't always work like this, but God did give us the miracles we prayed for. Thank you, Lord Jesus!

Flying with Peter Pan in Shanghai

There's a reason that even Shanghai Disneyland gives guests a chance to fly to Neverland with Peter Pan: this iconic Disney attraction is just plain fun! Walt Disney knew visitors all of ages to Disneyland would not be able to resist boarding a pirate galleon and flying over London and follow the second star to the right. This concept art perfectly captures the thrill of soaring high above it all. 

You'll see this beloved attraction at home in every Fantasyland ever created- except for Hong Kong Disneyland, which continues to amaze me since British rule and influence has made such an impact on the people. Perhaps the newly Imagined larger castle will lead to other enhancements for the beautiful but small park. 

Much of the Mainland China park is unique and enticing, yet the weakest part of it all is their version that holds this flying attraction. 

I haven't been there yet, but I think it looks like Fantasyland is an epic design fail. Where shall I begin?

The monstrosity of the boxy castle lacks elegance and charm. Big is not always best. Even worse, the layout of the land seems awkwardly clumsy with an attraction lineup that lacks depth: Aside from the mine train roller coaster, the supposed to be stellar Voyage to the Crystal Grotto is a well known disappointment. The Tim Burton inspired Alice in Wonderland maze seems like an out of place nightmare, and Pooh is just a mash up of cheaper versions found in California and Florida. Fantasyland is clearly where budget cuts and rumored bribes took a bite out of what could have been. Did the money go to the government's Shanghai Shendi Group or somewhere else? And why isn't there much information on which group of Imagineers designed the park?

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

March 24, 2019

Sunday in Kauaii

Another dreary day, the sun has gone away, and I'm longing for my fantasy island home. Kauai that is! I've been to the Hawaiian islands many times over the years, particularly when I was young and lived in California. This one island is still my favorite of all. 

I think I'll go back to bed... and dream.

(Photographer unknown.)

March 23, 2019

Saturday Playtime

This series of photos from late Summer 2018 says it all! When warm days are here and the siblings are friends and not just family, fun is easily found.

Adorable or what?

Happily Ever After

Although very modern compared to the classic Disney attraction posters, I find this particular one very interesting. The nighttime show Happily Ever After at the Magic Kingdom is a crowd pleaser. 

Even if these shows in front of the castle create a huge mess of a crowd- and they certainly do- they also accomplish one important task: getting guests to Main Street to exit the park as quickly as possible. This makes for a wonderful time to visit the farther edges of the park and enjoy it in comparatively quiet solitude.

March 22, 2019

Disneyland's Sinking Ship

As we all know, Disneyland is not perfect. Nor is the resort's sister park, Disney California Adventure. Tomorrowland is certainly a problem for the otherwise wonderful Kingdom. Across the way, the latest mess called Pixar Pier is a strong testament to the fact that serious problems and a lack of strong commitment to the classic values of Imagineering are in full play. 

In spite of all this, there's only one sinking ship: It's on Marc Davis' rare piece of concept art for Pirates of the Caribbean. And wouldn't this be a great addition to the already iconic attraction in New Orleans Square? Absolutely.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

March 21, 2019

Prediction: Disney's Flying Robots Bring Spider-Man to Life

Why in the world would I think that we'll see this? Listen to this quote from Marvel project lead  Disney Imagineer Scot Drake

"I’m personally most excited to see Spider-Man swinging through these lands in a new suit that you can see now at Walt Disney Studios Park, soon at Disney California Adventure park, and at other locations in the future. "

Brings to mind this video from about 8 months ago or so. What do you think?

California's Golden Coast

Another one from The Traveler Studio. Golden Coast indeed!

March 20, 2019

Disney Freaks and Geeks

Freak or fool? Sometimes I just hate who I am! The words above have been hurled at me for years and not always in the way most admirable. Yes sir, I sure love the Disney theme parks, and I love so many of the animated movies. I brought this upon myself by even being up front about my love for the creativity and innocence of it all. Give me a trip to Disneyland or Walt Disney World over Las Vegas any day. But I'm not just a Disney freak.

As a big fan of the Carpenters, I take a lot of flack as well. For years! Let's be real, a guy just doesn't like Karen Carpenter (and brother Richard) without opening himself up to some crap from the people around him. No matter- good music never goes out of style, and Karen Carpenter had a once in a century voice. She was an Ordinary Fool (one of her best songs), and I guess I am as well. (And I'm so honored to be a part of Randy L. Schmidt's new book, Carpenters: An Illustrated Discography.)

You see, as much as I am a freak and a geek, I'm also a fool. A fool for Jesus, and I'm in good company! The Apostle Paul put up with much more than I ever will! He writes:

"We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored!" (I Corinthians 4:10)

I didn't get it either until I did. Why?

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
    the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,  but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength." (I Corinthians 1:18-25)

In many ways, I'd like to be different than I am. But I am who I am, and God's grace on me is more than sufficient. My life, though strange and out of the ordinary in many ways, is a huge blessing- and I pray it is an ongoing testimony of who Jesus Christ is and the difference He can make through one single life.

March 18, 2019

Evening at Disneyland's Plaza Inn

From a 1960's promotional piece for the expansion of Disneyland: The Plaza Inn is an under appreciated restaurant on Main Street U.S.A. The Imagineering concept art is an expression of Walt Disney's desire to give park guests more than they bargained for. A smart business plan to keep them coming back!

The decor is subdued but elegant. The food is very good by theme park standards, and the place has a fairly loyal clientele. In the Summer, it's a quiet refuge from the crowds outside, and in the slower months, it's overlooked in place of the park's splashier dining establishments. Either way, the place is worth investigating!

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

#carpentersbook - My Incredible Honor to Be Part of It!

What an honor! Randy L. Schmidt, author of Little Girl Blue the Life of Karen Carpenter, contacted me several months ago. Randy asked if I had any interest in being a guest commentator for his new book, Carpenters: An Illustrated Discography. His plan was to gather folks to discuss the music and career of my favorite duo.

Of course, as a life-long fan, I was happy to be involved with this great project!  

Randy has gathered a very elite group of music industry folks and fans! (I still cannot believe I was included!) They have combined forces to discuss the following albums:

THE SINGLES 1969-1973
Richard Carpenter: TIME
Karen Carpenter: KAREN CARPENTER

My piece was to contribute in a larger group discussion regarding the duo's 1976 release A Kind of Hush. All about the music, the stage of their career, our memories, etc. Really a special time for me as I first saw them during the tour for Hush and met them backstage afterwards.

I won't really say any more. You'll have to read it for yourself. (And see all the never before seen photos Randy has gathered for each album.)

Let me just say this: Randy's other contributors to our group discussion were very fun for me to interact with! Such insights!

Thank again, Randy, for the once in a lifetime opportunity!
I have many, many, articles and even rare photos regarding the career of Karen and Richard Carpenter on this blog. There are also my album reviews including those of a "Fresh Look" at the original albums after many years of listening. If you're a fan of Carpenters, I think you'll find much to enjoy here.

March 15, 2019

New and Very Rare Discovery Bay Art for Disneyland

A brand new and exciting discovery! Here's a rarely seen piece of concept art for the long lost, never built, Discovery Bay at Disneyland. On the back of this piece is the stamp from Disney, proving its authenticity.

One of the premier attractions, Island at the Top of the World, would have certainly drawn guests. And what a large surprise they would have encountered. But the movie flopped, and all was put to rest.

Imagineer Tony Baxter never did get the permission to go ahead and lead the build out of the land originally set to be artistically wedged between Frontierland and Fantasyland, but that didn't stop him from getting bits and pieces of it into Disneyland Paris.

Island was the farthest thing from a movie box office hit.

Looks like many parts made it to Disneyland Paris!

More Disney and dinosaurs! Always a great pairing.
Where can we find them in the theme parks?

The late 19th Century Barbary Coast / San Francisco area provided inspiration for a variety of attractions- much more than just the two we'll find in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge when it premiers in a few months. Much, much more.

The unbuilt Spark Gap Coaster.

Proposed Coaster Attraction Poster. Say that fast three times!

Fireworks Factory shooting gallery with the Discovery Bay Lighthouse.

How about a new-fangled shooting gallery? The Fireworks Factory would have fit right in place in the Chinatown mini area. These kind of smaller attractions still have their place in the theme parks, bringing charm and variety, fully fleshing out the main story. They also disperse the crowds!

Did you know EPCOT Center's very famous beloved little purple dragon had a role at Disneyland long ago?

Does "Professor Marvel" and his dragon friend look a bit familiar?
They should!

Professor Marvel's incredible Gallery of Illusion.

Visitors to Discovery Bay would cruise along a classic Disney flume ride! This exciting encounter with dinosaurs would sit next to a mega dark ride on the Hyperion airship through the movie's icy environment. Nearby, Professor Marvel would host some hands on adventures and his little dragon friend. 

A very different version of the area's map.

Fully colorized map.

EPCOT Center's much adored original Journey into Imagination truly had its roots in Tony's plan for Disneyland. Nothing really ever does go to waste, does it?

The classic concept art.

One last version of the map.

Discovery Bay only exists now in our minds. As with other unbuilt masterpieces such as Western River Expedition for the Magic Kingdom and the also unrealized Atlantis Expedition for Walt's park, Tony Baxter's Discovery Bay has been relegated to the Disney fandom history.

One day, Disney may one again take another look at the concept. Once they can turn it into a successful film and Intellectual Property. Until then, we can just about forget it.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

March 14, 2019

A Surprise Awaits You Tomorrow

Just wait until you see what I have you! I'm anxiously waiting to share it tomorrow morning! You won't believe it... really!

Time for a Baroque Hoedown!

Wanna watch the Main Street Electrical Parade at Disneyland- in miniature? Here's the totally enchanting video. Perfect for a snowy day! (And it's blizzard conditions as I write this.)

And now, the full size, real version from the parade's return to Disneyland in 2017:

March 13, 2019

Dropping the F Bomb

OK, I'm gonna go ahead and do it. Something I've said in the past and will probably say again: It's freezing. (Did you really think I was going to admit I've dropped the real F-Bomb? Well, I have. So there.) It's been icy cold and snowing since yesterday afternoon and going to continue until tomorrow afternoon. Thank God I work at home.

Notable and Quotable: Olivia Newton-John

"Nature is the most beautiful thing we have. 
It's better than art because it's from the creator."

 Olivia Newton-John

March 11, 2019

Walt Disney World's Fire Mountain

Never heard of Disney's unbuilt Fire Mountain attraction? Have you ever seen it? As a lover of Imagineering art, I've been looking to find it for years. "Never give up!" applies to sop many things in life, but here it is:  the infamous never-built Fire Mountain for Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Almost approved by the suits, it was to be an extension of the Magic Kingdom's Adventureland, this incredible idea would have also sat across the Seven Seas Lagoon from the Polynesian Village Resort. Not a bad thing to be looking at while you're on the beach waiting for fireworks! It would certainly bring a new look and feel to an old and tired part of the park as well as opening up the options for new stories.

If you look closely at the art (and as always, click on it for the largest size), you'll see the project also went by the name Volcania
What is that front and center? Well, your eyes are not deceiving you. That is, in fact, the Nautilus submarine. Would that be a nod to 20K Leagues Under the Sea or a full-blown attraction? If you're thinking as I am that the suits at Disney would try to pass this onto the Oriental Land Company for Tokyo DisneySea, my guess is we are right.

Rumors of old attraction being reborn come and go (think Western River Expedition), but sometimes it really does happen. It's rare- and in this case, I'd say we chalk up a great idea to the history books. By the way, I found this art on the Neverland Files site and did a few quick fixes to highlight the details.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

March 10, 2019

Fly Hawaii

Escape to the islands while you can! This winter season still has some frosty days ahead! #NeverWinter...