September 1, 2014

Where Florida's Magic Kingdom Surpasses California's Disneyland

Florida's Magic Kingdom does beat California's Disneyland in three  specific attractions- all found in Tomorrowland and depicted in this piece of Imagineering concept art. 

1- The originally named WEDway Peoplemover leads the way in differentiating itself from all other Lands of the Future. At Walt Disney World, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority is one of my must-do attractions. An all time favorite, the breezy ride around the land provides a great view and a chance to relax as it dashes inside popular destinations. Riding silently along was always a great way to people watch. Unfortunately, the attraction is now just an abandoned, empty track in Anaheim. The gap it leaves means Tomorrowland is no longer a "World on the Move", instead a hodge podge mess of attractions without a unifying element. Further, no other versions exist in any Disney castle park anywhere.

2- Space Mountain is one huge building and wisely placed beyond the railroad that circles the Magic Kingdom. The dual tracks inside are only part of the appeal: It is also one of the many pieces of eye candy seen as you approach the park from the Seven Seas Lagoon or while riding the Monorail. Extra bonus- it looks phenomenal at night when viewed from the terrace of the California Grill over at the Contemporary Resort. The "blessing of size" plays to its strengths in this case.

3- The ability to actually race against other drivers on the Grand Prix Raceway puts Florida ahead of California. Isn't that part of the fun of being in a race car? Besides, driving the California Freeways is no longer something anyone in the state seems to enjoy. 

One extra:

4- The long gone Skyway. Man, I miss this attraction. I absolutely loved gliding over the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea lagoon when in Florida, and through the Matterhorn when in Walt's original kingdom. Whether it was Disney's legal eagles or the budgeteers that succeeded in getting these closed down, either way, it was a clear mistake.  

Even though Florida now contains a few toon attractions in their Tomorrowland, I find it a much more compelling and enjoyable part of the park than what can be found out West. Score one for the younger sibling.

Could there be more areas Florida's park is superior? Stay tuned...

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

August 31, 2014

God is Good All the Time

Today, I lost one of my two jobs. A job I really loved and worked hard at. God is moving, and something new is coming. What it is, I do not know. I'm nervous, angry, scared, but I do know that He is good all the time. ALL the time. (Really just marking this day for my records.)

August 30, 2014

Japanese Invention Worth a Laugh

Could there be a funnier way to start a long weekend with no work? Take a look at one of the latest inventions coming from Japan. It's sure to impress that girl you're longing after- or make her run away!:

August 29, 2014

Disneyland Paris Influences the Original Magic Kingdom

At Disney Imagineering, no concept ever seems to truly go to waste. The piece of art above is an interesting one indeed. In many ways, it is clearly a look at the Autopia at Disneyland Paris. Nestled within the beautiful, Jules Verne styled Discoveryland, the neon rings glow clearly on the often grey and cloudy skies of Paris.

On the other hand, there are certainly elements of this piece that strongly remind me of Tony Baxter's redesign for Tomorrowland '98 at Disneyland.  That redo, the first one done to Tomorrowland since the epic 1967 version, included the infamous and short-lived Rocket Rods. The California Autopia remained a perennial favorite and was also scheduled for a revamping in look. The Chevron oil sponsored attraction there includes a building that has very similar flourishes in style to what was found on opening day in the Paris park in 1992. 

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

August 26, 2014

Nice Change of Pace

Colorado Rockies Faith Day 2014 featured my favorite Christian music recording artist, Jeremy Camp. I was not disappointed! As he led a very large crowd in several worship songs, including three of my favorites (Beautiful One, Give Me Jesus, and Everlasting God), I was overwhelmed. It's not too often you get to have live worship music from the guy who made the actual songs famous. 

One powerful piece was when Jeremy shared about how God brought Him comfort after his wife's death. It was incredibly to hear how God was so personal for him during such a crushing time. 

In the middle of this season that's so painful at best, it was water to my thirsty soul. A very nice change of pace. Thank you Jesus!

August 25, 2014

Pirates of the Caribbean 1, 2, 3, or 4

 Is it just me or has anyone else noticed there are a wide variety of Pirates of the Caribbean attraction posters- just for Disneyland Paris alone?
 To be specific, I've got a case of the blues. Really just trying to figure out exactly which is the correct color scheme. 
 Thinking here that the very top image is the one closest to the original. (I do like the second one as well!) But my eyes have deceived me before.
The official attraction poster book gives some clue. Yet we all know the printing affects the colors. So, I'll ask you- is Pirates of the Caribbean 1, 2, 3 or 4 your favorite? And what would Johnny Depp say? Especially since he's been left out of the European version of this classic Marc Davis attraction.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

August 22, 2014

Sexy Snow White

Here's a little bit of Disney sex news for you.  According to this article in the U.K.'s daily Mirror, this version of Snow White was deemed to hot for general audiences by none other than Walt Disney.  Of course, the other version of her debuted with the 1937 opening of the film that made her even more famous. If you want the cel, it is up for auction.

Never heard of this one before. But as for that old rumor that Tinkerbell was based on Marilyn Monroe... I get that. Wanna be songstresses and actresses have been copying her look for decades.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

Walt's Kick in the Teeth

All over the world, much has obviously been written about Walt Disney and his creative genius. From Mickey Mouse to Snow White to Disneyland to Mary Poppins and beyond, there has never been a man like him. Look at this quote from old Walt himself. Not only creative but wisely reflective, I'd say.

Today is a good day to run across this. I've been kicked down once again. So many sucker punches, kicks in the teeth- or way lower. I'm strong, but I am also weak. And I'll be the first to admit I need Jesus to help me make it. I saw this billboard today: "People disappoint. God never does." Well, maybe not eventually. I will say I do not understand everything God allows, but I do trust Him, even if I never understand why. I guess that's what they call faith.

Time to keep going, I guess. There's always a fresh day tomorrow.

(Image from

August 20, 2014

Following You Home for 45 Years

Let's be honest: Celebrating 45 years of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland is mainly a cash grab. Why not wait for the 50th? That said, this poster is something worth looking at as it captures many ideas and images of the famed New Orleans Square attraction. Even with the infamous wallpaper as a background, it's still not very elegant. Kind of like the recent remodeling of Club 33 and what they have done to the exteriors of the buildings that were involved.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

August 19, 2014

Switzerland on the Way

There's more coming to my 2014 Switzerland and France travel report. Really- just as soon as I can get caught up with work. But isn't this poster a beauty?

August 18, 2014

Hundred-Foot Journey to Pleasure

Romance, food, travel. This film has everything going for it, including subtle, heartfelt performances by the four lead actors. 

Helen Mirren, the new Meryl Streep, is utterly convincing as stuffy French restaurant owner Madame Mallory. Her one Michelin starred restaurant is the only game in town, destroying the competition. That is, until the Kadam family enters the village- along with equally feisty Papa (Om Puri) and opens a restaurant right across the street. 

In an expected plot turn, young chef Hassan discovers that the lovely and single lady helping his family in distress is none other than the competition's sous chef Marguerite.  Love enraptures, success brings separation, and love eventually succeeds. Yes, you understand all this even before the opening lines of dialogue, but the actors are so pleasant to watch, you don't mind it a bit. Manish Dayal is perfectly cast, as is his love Charlotte Le Bon

Surprisingly, the star of the film is not the food. The exotic locales are smartly played to draw you in and make you forget it's really a foodie film. (And make you run to IMDB to discover exactly where in France this charming village is located.) Much like Tortilla Soup, it's a story driven, character rich film, and it is worth spending a very pleasant afternoon to watch it.

August 15, 2014

Even More Shanghai Disneyland Art

Fireworks in the daytime? Thank the smog!

How the world has changed! If you would have asked the visionary  Walt Disney where he would place an international Magic Kingdom, my bet is China would be the last place on his mind... if an international park was on his mind at all. Yet, 60 years after the opening of Disneyland, the first Mainland China park will open within the anniversary of the first. Michael Eisner and team were visionary in a way suited to their era of leadership.

Every nighttime view of a Disney park makes it look fabulous.

If you keep your eyes open and think a bit creatively, it's becoming easier and easier to find leaked pieces of Imagineering art for this park. Whereas the Los Angeles Times was the source for the one below, unexpected places yielded their treasures. Much like when I first found the art for Dubai Disneyland a couple of months ago. (Yes, I really did remove it at the request of the firm who created it. But, shhh- it's still easy to find. Every single piece. Again, think creatively.)

Soon enough from pencil sketch to reality

After the relatively thump of low attendance upon the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland, it seems the Chinese officials wised up to the games of Robert Iger and company, and they started to demand more a better. It's a lesson guests to Walt Disney World should understand. After all, look what much publicity, fan complaints, and low attendance - with a push from the City of Anaheim- did in turning around California Adventure.

With Hong Kong Disneyland in their rear view mirror, more had to be promised, added, and especially unique to the Shanghai Disneyland park. Old favorites such as Space Mountain were discarded in favor of a Tron themed coaster. Johnny Depp's version of Pirates of the Caribbean and a land ironically once pitched to the suits of Hong Kong Disneyland, becomes the focus of one of two lands of Adventure. It's A Small World hasn't shown up yet and could be aded later. (Fear not for Hong Kong. With the overwhelming success of Mystic Manor and the coming Iron Man Experience with more on the way, the beautiful seaside land will be able to hold its own next to its larger and younger sister.)

What's a castle park with a beautiful castle?
Haunted Mansion is no where to be found, neither is Splash Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Instead, suitable replacements will fill in the gap: Roaring Rapids, Soaring Over The Horizon, and the Enchanted Storybook Castle grotto attraction- which would be a surprise if it didn't have a villain or two along the way. An announced further investment into the park could bring an even more complete assortment of delights.

Stay tuned for the next round of Shanghai Disneyland Imagineering art. I was thrilled to find the Tomorrowland piece. I've posted it once. It's around here somewhere...along with those Dubai pieces all over the web.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

August 14, 2014

Magic Kingdom Opening Day Map

Disney park maps, especially "Castle Park" maps, have always been a favorite souvenir item. There have been many, many great and detailed maps for Disneyland but not really too many for Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. Here's the opening day souvenir map.

How different the park was then compared to now. Long gone are opening day attractions such as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Snow White's Adventures and the Mickey Mouse Revue. 

It's also hard to believe what wasn't there on opening day. Not a single mountain existed: no Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, or Splash Mountain. The legendary Pirates of the Caribbean was not even built. Nor was it on the drawing boards because the Imagineering legend Marc Davis was busy cooking up a Cowboy and Indian musical journey in the grand Pirates tradition: the unbuilt Western River Expedition

Regardless of the smaller number of attractions compared to Disneyland in California, guests couldn't wait to experience Walt Disney's Florida Kingdom. It was then and remains now, the heart of Walt Disney World.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

August 13, 2014

Things We Said Today

Disney. Star Wars. Marvel. Theme Parks. Universal and Harry Potter. Dying Faith. Jesus in the Storm. Perseverance. Prayer. Israel, Iraq, Hamas, Gaza. The entire Middle East. Ukraine, Russia and Putin. Obama. Healthcare. A World in Crisis. Friends. Family. Marriage. Grandchildren. Travel. Escape. Work Pressure.

The things I think about. Not in that order, but the list goes on and on and on. Many things I will never say, but here's some I will.

Since this is mainly a Disney related blog- although in reality it had also become a journal, a travelogue, and a family history book- I'll begin with my Disney related ramblings.

Even without any new announcements, the Tokyo Disney Resort is the place I want to see in the Disney universe. It's been five plus years since I've been to Florida, almost two since I've been in Paris, and the same since I've wandered into a California theme park. Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland? Awesome no doubt, but not enough to make me yet get on a plane. Shanghai Disneyland? Looking hot- and I'd love to tour the country that created the Great Wall. Yet, there's Tokyo. Bright, clean, and full of the spirit that Walt Disney himself had when Disneyland was built. Give the customer more than they expect. Always a lure and closer to one day becoming a reality.

Frozen at Epcot leaves me cold. It's a quick and easy overlay that doesn't involve much heart, soul, or creativity while it removes some of each from a park that needs an infusion. Where is the love for the once upon a time most incredible theme park ever? New pavilions for World Showcase are a thing of the past. One based on Israel? We might need it. The Middle East is hotter than ever and not in a good way. And don't be foolish enough to be on the other side of Israel. The Almighty God of the Bible has always and will always preserve the people He chose. The entire Old Testament tells this story of God's love for them (and man at large). They were only brought into captivity when they spent time focusing on idols instead of the Great I Am. And God hates idolatry. 

Star Wars at Disney's Hollywood Studios. It's about time. I'm not even a fan, but it's clear to me this park needs something. Since Marvel can't come to Florida- and we all love our superheroes, Star Wars may be the next best thing. It will come to California too. That is Star Wars to Tomorrowland Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland, and Marvel will go somewhere. Ah, the elusive third park. Making California Adventure Pixarland in disguise wasn't a bad business move- and Radiator Springs Racers and the gorgeous Cars Land was the smartest thing they could have done. That Incredibles ride? Do reconsider it.

My family wants to take a trip to the World all together one day. They continue to be a huge blessing to me. My son-in-law just got baptized, and he is now headed in the right direction. Putting his newfound faith into action and following Jesus. It's pretty easy to see many will use his name as a mask but in reality live as functional humanists. My this journey for him be the real deal. 

The truth is, embracing Jesus as savior and as director of your life absolutely changes your focus. It gives you hope for this life and the eternal one to come. The older I get, the more I appreciate the reality that without Jesus, I can do nothing good. When left to my own thoughts and actions, I will choose the selfish choice, the one that most benefits me, the one that makes me look good. But as I see Jesus changing me, I have a chance at reflecting His love.

Each morning during the Summer and Fall, I sit in my garden and read, reflect, pray- and drink lots of coffee. When we moved here, our backyard was nothing but grass. Now I see fully grown trees, a stone patio, and lots of shrubs and flowers. The passing of time is seen right in my backyard. This life on earth goes so quickly. I am older now than I ever imagined I would be when I was in my 20s and 30s. I still see myself as young, but the reality is, I am not. I've been through many careers and phases, but what I am doing now as I write is the most fulfilling ever. Two worlds. Two places to serve others. All with people I love. What could be better? Instead of a "bucket list", I want to leave behind a strong family that will endure the future and make a difference. A family that knows and loves and serves Jesus Christ. Everything else is really temporary.

Taking a look at my musical choices,  I realize my tastes evolve as I encounter different places and people. Do I still love the voice of Karen Carpenter and the music she made with brother Richard? If you have to ask, you haven't read this blog long enough. Too many musical idols have passed away, but as sad as it is, I'm learning a lot with that. Sometimes, it is just a pleasure to listen to nothing and enjoy the quiet that our world seems to steal from us all too easily. Some of my favorite musical times happen to be on Sunday mornings when the guy that leads the music enters into that place of intimacy with God and takes us along on his musical journey. Give Me Jesus, indeed.

Some point in the years ahead, I imagine that my wife and family will be reading these posts after I'm gone. Hopefully, laughing at how eccentric I was and how much I loved them and loved life. Just in case you're reading this now- Thanks for being an amazing wife and for being children and grandchildren I am proud of. You've all made my life richer than money ever could. See you on the other side.

August 12, 2014

The Magic of the Movies

All too often, we as adults forget the simplest of pleasures and take them for granted. Like going to the movies, and the magic of film.

Recently, my son-in-law invited me to go to my three year old  grandson's first visit to the cineplex. Planes: Fire and Rescue was on tap. (And it was better than I expected, by the way. Great animated sequences.)

Getting him a kid's special treat box (popcorn, root beer, and a snack pack of gummies), we settled into the theater chairs. I wasn't sure what to expect, as my grandson is high energy.

It was amazing. As soon as the Disney castle appeared on the screen, I could see my little grandson was instantly mesmerized. He sat in basically one place the entire film. At a pivotal plot point, I heard him say to his Daddy, "Will Dusty be ok?" He was engrossed in the film. When it was over, he said innocently, "Can we go see another one?"

The final amazing aspect of the afternoon came on the way home. It was quiet, and he said, "Thank you, Daddy, for taking me to the movies today." How very sweet! And what a statement that is of the power of the movies. 

August 11, 2014

R.I.P. Robin Williams

I'm in shock. Actor Robin Williams just passed away this morning. Known for many wonderful roles- and in my mind, he's the only Genie fit for Aladdin- you could tell he was a kind hearted soul.
That's all I will say for now.

First Look at Shanghai Disneyland Shopping Village

In the smog filled Shanghai district of Pudong, Walt Disney Imagineering will build a Chinese version of Downtown Disney. It will be the perfect complement to the Shanghai Disneyland theme park. The resort itself will focus on China's fast growing middle class and the wealthy. The shopping district will be Italian themed, providing opportunities for those with the money to spend it on lavishly expensive items and luscious meals. 

Actually, it's a very smart business decision to move away from the "contemporary fantasy" style that Downtown Disneys are known for. Italy's charms are timeless and a very trendy opposite from what the Mainland China residents have experienced. 

Europe is a popular and exotic destination for many Asians. For proof, just take a look at the beautifully charming Mediterranean Harbor at Tokyo Disney Sea. In spite of not having a single "E Ticket" attraction, the land is a popular place to shop, eat, and ride the gondolas. This immersive and vast area makes it a very attractive landscape to view from the suites of the overpriced and successful Mira Costa Hotel. It's my bet the Chinese will also fall in love with the style of it all, creating yet another successful part of this Disney business venture.

Correction: Per my friend Randy- "To clarify, the shopping center in this art and described in recent press releases is not part DisneyTown (SDL's DTD area) or Shanghai Disney Resort at all, but is part of the "Shanghai Resort Area" which, confusingly, encompasses Shanghai Disneyland and a much wider non-Disney zone of the city. It should be near the property, but is owned, designed and operated by an entirely different entity. Regarding DisneyTown, I also think it would be great if it were heavily themed, like World Showcase or Mediterranean Harbor, but what I think you can expect is Entertainment Retail like you find in the Stateside DTDs. Disney's philosophy: If you want immersive theme-ing, you are going to have to pay to get in. "

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)