October 31, 2020

Notable and Quotable: Nathaniel Gorton

"Here you are, an admired, successful, professional actor with a long lasting marriage, two apparently healthy, resilient children, more money than you could possibly need, a beautiful home in sunny Southern California — a fairy tale life, yet you stand me before a convicted felon. And for what? For the inexplicable desire to grasp even more."

These words of wisdom come from Judge Nathaniel Gorton in his comments to actress Lori Laughlin during her sentencing for participating in a college admissions scandal. The Full House and When Calls the Heart star chose to made some poor decisions based on entitlement. And they cost her a two month prison sentence. Every sin comes with consequences. Lord, have mercy on us! How we need you, Jesus!

Pick a Haunted Mansion

Have you ever seen Imagineer Dale Hennesy's concept art for the exterior of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland? If not, here it is in full color! Certainly, it is a very different take than the one Walt's park got. I have to admit, I'm so used to the original in New Orleans Square, that I took it for granted when I compared the exterior to the more gothic one at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom or the Psycho inspired house of Disneyland Paris' Phantom Manor. Yet, on the occasion I return to California, I am again impressed with the deceptive elegance and charm of it which fully betrays the evil inspired adventure within. Which one is your preference for exterior? In any form, the haunted attraction remains a masterpiece of Disney Imagineering!

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

October 30, 2020

Scarier than Halloween Itself

Watch the video below if you dare. But be forewarned, it will chill you to the bone. Definitely scarier than any Halloween Haunted House this year! Do you trust our government? My trust is decreasing day by day. Protect our right to speak freely. It's part of being American- and no one, Republican or Democrat or Independent should ever stop that from being allowed.

Happy Birthday My Beloved Wife!

This may be seen as a very odd photo to post today for my wife's birthday. But this says so much about her! Her love for people, travel, being obedient as God leads her and more. Our family sees it and comments, but I don't do it as much as I should. 

So today, my beautiful wife, I just wanted to say how much I love you and how blessed I have been in all our years together. We may not be as young as we once were, but our love has grown deeper through the years. May God be glorified as we walk out the years ahead. Much love to you...

October 29, 2020

Goodbye Disneyland Paris

With surging cases of COVID-19 and winter coming, the French government has just released orders causing Disneyland Paris to close. Today will be the last day of operation for several months. But it is subject to change based on evaluations every few weeks.

This most beautiful of all Magic Kingdoms has to be seen in person to be believed. Imagineer Tony Baxter and crew designed the most elegant park imaginable in one of the world's most beautifully designed cities. Every land is unique among the kingdoms, taking attractions and elements both old and new, making long time Disney theme park fans look at it in a brand new way. Trust me, once you visit this park, you'll never see the castle park at Walt Disney World the same way!

(Photograph copyright Mark Taft.)

October 25, 2020

Take Me to Shanghai Disneyland!

In Sunday fantasy mode here, I want to ride Tron Lightcycle Power Run! I mean just look at this attraction poster for the mega attraction at the mainland China park. Imagineer Scot Drake and team created one of the most exciting attractions ever- and I am one of those fans that can't wait for it to come to Walt Disney World. It'll be worth a trip to the Magic Kingdom just for this!

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

October 23, 2020

The Nastiest Disney War

So a little vacation reading did include Disney War by Pulitzer Prize winning author James B. Stewart. It's a lengthy, in-depth, and eye opening report of the ascent of Michael Eisner and Frank Wells to the thrones of the Walt Disney Company- and then Michael's fall from grace with investors and insiders. I'd read both Eisner and Iger's books before picking up Disney War. In contrast to this one, Michael and Robert's accounts of their own stories come off as pure propaganda.

While I always deemed Eisner great for the theme parks and animated movies in his first decade, it was easy to see his success wasn't lasting for his second one. Lousy animated films, second rate direct to video movies, half baked parks such as California Adventure and Walt Disney Studios Paris, and poor quality television shows tarnished the Disney brand- all making the way for Eisner to be pushed out. (If like me, you're looking for a book rich with stories about the development of theme parks, attractions, and the battles and strategies behind them, this is not the book for you. There's a handful but nothing you can't find elsewhere.)

As hard as Stewart tries, he cannot help but come to some conclusions that remove the pixie dust from those readers wanting to stay happily in the Disney bubble of fantasy. Behind the scenes, Eisner's poor relationship skills with those he worked with and other non-Disney executives come to light- particularly Pixar's Steve JobsEisner comes across as arrogant, narcissistic, backstabbing, paranoid, and unwilling to consider the input of others. He's certainly creative, but he's a man who lacks integrity and is dishonest as can be. Disappointing.

Although Robert Iger comes off as rather stiff creatively during these years, he is viewed as rather honest and likable overall. Certainly not  bad qualities to be viewed as poccessing in that fast paced cut throat world. Is that still him? I'm not sure. The quick switch of roles with Bob Chapek pre-COVID changing life in the States makes me think years at Disney changed him for the worse. I'd love to be proven wrong. Perhaps the story will be told in a Disney Wars sequel. And Stewart would be just the man to write it.

October 22, 2020

Over the Moon!

Veteran Disney Glen Keane animator directs this brand new film, Over the Moon, and I can't wait to see it. His work on classics such as Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin show he knows how to tell a story and tell it well. Certainly the opening of the new E Ticket Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast at Tokyo Disneyland is further proof of the impact this enduring classic has made. Glen has his own fascinating story to tell about the impact of Beast on his life. Go here to read more.

October 20, 2020

Calling All Those Named Chris

Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Chris Pine, and Chris Pratt. Hmm. Who to pick? Tough call and one not even with making a contest over. Yet some television writer and producer I've never heard of, a woman named Amy Berg (not to be confused with the infinitely more incredible Amy Coney Barrett) seems to think we have to choose one over the other.  With Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy movies and many popular television appearances, you'd think he'd earned his place. Not so in a Hollywood gone crazy. It's time for all the other guys named Chris on the list to speak up in defense of a great guy.

October 19, 2020

The Return

After a much needed rest in California, the blog will return after I complete the onslaught of email requests, bills, and projects that accumulated during the time. Disneyland and the surrounding area looks like a ghost town due to the actions of California's governor. Hopefully, that will change some day soon. 

Had a great time including an un expected visit with a friend whose kindness brought me to tears. (You know who you are!) God has blessed me and my wife in so many ways. In the midst of trying circumstances in the world, His goodness prevails!

(Photograph copyright Mark Taft.)

October 6, 2020

Concept Art for Disneyland's Kodak Shop

In honor of my late father-in-law's birthday, here's a piece of concept art for the Kodak shop at Disneyland- right in the heart of Main Street U.S.A.  

The Imagineering art is pretty sweet!

Joe worked 30 years for Kodak. They treated him well, and we gladly honored the company by working his tail off. It was never about him. It was about honoring God and keeping his promises to others. This included his wife, kids, friends, his God, and yes, his company.

Integrity goes a long way! And Joe, as your first in-law kid, I want you to know how much I appreciated you and all you did. You're not forgotten and neither are the values you represented. Thanks for everything.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

October 5, 2020

My First Disney Blog Post

My very first Disney related post back in 2008. Yes, that's how long the Insights blog has been going! And although I'm currently running on empty regarding fresh ideas, this too shall pass. But for now, here it is- the first one and the first "Notable and Quotable":

Here's the coolest Walt Disney quote ever:

"Think beyond your lifetime if you want to accomplish something truly worthwhile." 

Ran across this quote a few months back as I was reading about Walt and his plans. Boy, did Walt really live up to that quote!

Can't even remember which book or article it was, but what a find!
If we took this advice to heart, it seems to me that we would live a little bit differently as we make our mark in the world. Maybe a little more kindly, maybe a little more generously, maybe with a bit more purpose.

October 4, 2020

A Dream is a Wish...

Sunday morning in Hawaii... What I wouldn't give to wake up to this view with my pineapple, coconut yogurt, and Kona coffee! 

(Photographer unknown)

October 3, 2020

Treasure Awaits!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  (1 Peter 3:1-5)

October 1, 2020

Magic Kingdom's 1971 Grand Opening in Three Sketches

On October 23 through October 25, 1971, Walt Disney World held its Grand Opening for the Magic Kingdom theme park. It was a weekend long event marked by parades, singers, bands, and a host of speakers.

 An uncredited artist created a series of renderings which were used to create a handbook of sorts for everyone involved in pulling off this spectacular event.

It was the absolutely perfect way to kick off the crowing jewel of the "Vacation Kingdom of the World". 

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)