January 23, 2015

Update on Shanghai Disneyland

Leave it to the Chinese to get things done quickly! Courtesy the incredible The Theme Park Guy website, we have a recent photo of Shanghai Disneyland's castle. More to come...

Beautiful Disneyland Paris

Just look at this beautiful piece of artwork by Imagineer Eddie Sotto! It may be of the Main Street U.S.A. Railroad Station and not some splashy E Ticket attraction in the breathtaking Disneyland Paris parc, but it is none the less elegant and refined. With the similarly themed- and pricey- Disneyland Hotel behind it, a slice of the scale and grandeur of the place is within reach. The most amazing aspect of the place? It is consistent in its beauty and detail, one land after another. Easily this park holds the premier version of Frontierland and Tomorrowland (here Discoveryland).
As for the centerpiece castle, it is the Belle of them all!

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

January 22, 2015

Father's Wisdom

I asked my Dad one day what he wished he would have known at my age. His response was a good one; one that books- and the Good Book- having been telling us in one form or another for years: "Don't look for what isn't there." Meaning this, be thankful for what you have. Look at how God has blessed you. Be satisfied with that... and keep your heart focused on the things that are important to God.

Thanks, Dad! It was good enough to pass on to others.

January 21, 2015

Canadian's View of America?

Anonymously written and forwarded to me:

Canadian's version of David Letterman's Top 10.
Just makes you want to shake your head in disbelief.

This is Canada's Top Ten List of America's Stupidity.

# 10 Only in America... could politicians talk about the greed of the rich at a $35,000.00 per plate Obama campaign fund-raising event.

# 09 Only in America... could people claim that the government still discriminates against black Americans when they have a black President, a black Attorney General and roughly 20% of the federal workforce is black while only 14% of the population is black, 40+% of all federal entitlements goes to black Americans - 3X the rate that go to whites, 5X the rate that go to Hispanics!

# 08 Only in America... could they have had the two people most responsible for the tax code, Timothy Geithner (the head of the Treasury Department) and Charles Rangel (who once ran the Ways and Means Committee), BOTH turn out to be tax cheats who are in favor of higher taxes.

# 07 Only in America... can they have terrorists kill people in the name of Allah and have the media primarily react by fretting that Muslims might be harmed by the backlash.

# 06 Only in America... would they make people who want to legally become American citizens wait for years in their home countries and pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege, while they discuss letting anyone who sneaks into the country illegally just 'magically' become American citizens. (probably should be number one)

# 05 Only in America... could the people who believe in balancing the budget and sticking by the country's Constitution be called EXTREMISTS.

# 04 Only in America... could you need to present a driver's license to cash a check or buy alcohol, but not to vote.

# 03 Only in America... could people demand the government investigate whether oil companies are gouging the public because the price of gas went up when the return on equity invested in a major U.S. Oil company (Marathon Oil) is less than half of a company making tennis shoes (Nike).

# 02 Only in America... could you collect more tax dollars from the people than any nation in recorded history, still spend a Trillion dollars more than it has per year - for total spending of $7 Million PER MINUTE, and complain that it doesn't have nearly enough money.

# 01 Only in America... could the rich people - who pay 86% of all income taxes - be accused of not paying their "fair share" by people who don't pay any income taxes at all.

What do you think?

January 19, 2015

Garden of the Gods

Living in Colorado, I oftentimes take for granted the places here that absolutely stun me with their beauty. Or I'm so busy with day to day life, that I do not take the time to enjoy what God has placed around me.

Colorado Springs is not my home. It's a bit over a hour away, worse with traffic, but it's always a pleasure to head off to Garden of the Gods for a drive through the surreal landscape.

Just as if it were some movie set for the latest episode of Star Wars, the red stone outcroppings rise majestically from the earth. As with most photographs, these do not do justice to the handiwork of God Almighty. I did leave all three of these incredibly large if you want to click on them for a full scale view. 

The sheer beauty of God's creation is a sight to behold- and it is not alone in purpose in bringing us joy or in telling of God's existence: 

"For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." Romans 1:20

The Apostle Paul reminds us here that everything God created reveals Himself to man, so when each man must give an account for his life, he cannot say to Him, "You did not tell me about yourself."  

The beauty of God's creation reveals His existence and His heart to men.  Let me encourage you- look around today, enjoy the beauty in the world in which you live, and thank God for His great gift!

(Photographs copyright Mark Taft.)

January 17, 2015

The Deconstruction of Condor Flats and Robert Iger's Big Bucks

You gotta hand it to both MouseInfo and Magic Eye! When you need the sites to come through with some great photos, they certainly do. 

Just as with our New Year's resolutions to improve ourselves, be it with health or spiritual resolutions, Disney is jumping in to transform California Adventure's Condor Flats into the Grizzly Peak Airfield.

The exterior transformation of Taste Pilot's Grille and the dismantling of the old mist spewing engine next to Soarin' Over California tell me that Imagineering is doing a serious revamp of the area- much more than new paint and a few new pines trees.

All the work should look fantastic when completed. This does bring up a serious question: Why does the Disneyland Resort seem to do so much better than Walt Disney World when it comes to "plussing" the parks and all around general maintenance? Even California's Frozen offerings are off the charts compared to the abysmal "attractions" offered at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Could it be the suits at the Walt Disney Company think they can fleece the buying public? I guess somebody has to pay for Robert Iger's $46 million dollar salary for 2014! 

(Photographs courtesy MouseInfo and Magic Eye.)

January 16, 2015

Concept Art: Tomorrowland 2055

The year was 1990, and I was strolling Disneyland one afternoon with my young family. We had walked into Tomorrowland to take in the Autopia and let the kiddos try their hands behind the wheel.

Next to the Carousel Theater, once home of the Carousel of Progress and America Sings, was a billboard for a new attraction called Plectu's Intergalactic Revue. For some strange reason, I snapped this photo of the concept art... and held on to it for many years.

When I began the Insights blog, I knew Disney fans would find this piece of unbuilt history of interest. Boy, was I right! Within days of first posting it in March of 2008, my humble photograph showed on on blogs and websites all over the world. And it's still be reposted to this day. Glad I took the photo!

The model for the new Carousel building.
Photographer unknown.

I cannot tell you who did the artwork. I will say, I have enlarged it and attempted to fix some of the elements to be as close to the imagined piece of art I saw it in my mind to be. Click on it to enlarge it.

Much like the two shows before it- expertly designed by Imagineer Marc Davis- Plectu's was to be an Audio-Animatronic comedy musical show and a core but small part of a new alien infested Tomorrowland dubbed Tomorrowland 2055

The less friendly Alien Encounter.

In fact, the Magic Kingdom in Florida's beloved (or reviled) Alien Encounter was also planned for the redesign. (And is it just me, or does the top of the building look much like the centerpiece that replaced the Rockets Jets high in the sky in the 1998 version of the Land of the Future?)

Florida's Tomorrowland changed from this...

...to this.

Disneyland was not so fortunate with their redo in 1998,
when plans for the much more expensive 2055 version were tossed out in favor of this.

One of few pieces of artwork seen for the Plectu characters.

Around this time, Michael Eisner and company took at long, hard look at the attractions that were crowd pleasers, and sad to say, but musical talking bears, tikis, and even Disney characters in robotic form were no longer a big draw. (Expanded history here.) 

Thanks to Mike Cozart from the Tomorrowland67 Lounge for this 2055 piece.

The plans were scrapped. Plectu's became a piece of Disney lore and history, and Tomorrowland stayed as was for almost another full decade as the plans for the 2055 version were shelved.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company. Top photo copyright Mark Taft.)

January 15, 2015

Top Ten Sting

The former Police frontman is an acquired taste. And I find Sting's  brand of pop/rock/jazz/easy listening very appealing. His more elcletic projects, such as The Last Ship, not so much. Nonetheless, after being a listener for several years, it is about time I present my Top Ten list, Police hits not included.

Being playful or is the joke on us?

1- Nothing 'Bout Me (Epilogue) (Single Remix): This bookend song from 1993's Ten Summoner's Tales puts every part of what I enjoy about the musician into play: Clever lyrics, great vocal presence, top musicianship and a jazzy vibe that hides the man's personal life under something so fresh and appealing. The U.S. version of the album is less horn driven and makes use of male background vocalists. The rarer U.K. single is more horn driven with female background vocals, giving the whole song a funkier vibe. It's a bit tongue in cheek and self-effacing, but it's great fun and a kick to sing along with on an afternoon drive. 

Jazz/Rock/Rap perfection.

2- Bring on the Night/When the World is Running Down You Make the Best of What's Still Around: From the 1986 live album of the the same name. Whereas the Police version of the songs are grittier and clearly rock and roll, this far superior eleven plus minute medley swings and rocks at the same time. The jazz rock fusion created an uproar among the hardcore jazz community when saxophonist Branford Marsalis decided to tour with Sting, but the end result justifies the partnership. The song smokes. Even the obligatory audience participation fits perfectly with the apocalyptic party scene. Sting rocks the vocals, Branford's swinging saxophone sizzles (who knew the man could rap?), but the unbelievable keyboard work of the late Kenny Kirkland takes the whole thing to a new level. Love him or hate him, this performance shows the visionary Sting is and how his gut instincts tend to be right when it comes to musical artistry.

Julia Ormond inspires the softer side of Sting.

3- Moonlight:  Another cut from the "Nobody will tell me what to do" department, Sting goes all out as dashing crooner on this 1995 selection from the soundtrack to the movie Sabrina. With Julia Ormond as his muse, he does it so well that you can count me in as one who will buy his Great American Standards disc should he ever choose to release it. 

The gift of a friend.

4- Englishman in New York: I had heard this song but hadn't given it a second thought until a soon-to-be dear Scottish friend brought it to my attention via his CV (resume). Thus, a business interaction began my reintroduction to the singer. From Sting's 1987 album Nothing Like the Sun.

Another disc, another character.

5- Dead Man's Rope: Like much of his deeper work, Sting mixed the spiritual with the natural, the lusty with the demur, telling tales from a variety of character's perspectives. Dead Man's Rope is the title of a gem found on the 2003 Sacred Love CD. Once again, Sting examines the life of the main character:

"A million footsteps, this left foot drags behind my right
But I keep walking, from daybreak til the falling night
And as days turn into weeks and years And years turn into lifetimes
I just keep walking, like I've been walking for a thousand years
Walk away in emptiness, walk away in sorrow,
Walk away from yesterday, walk away tomorrow,
If you're walking to escape, to escape from your affliction
You'd be walking in a great circle, a circle of addiction
Did you ever wonder what you'd been carrying since the world was black?
You see yourself in a looking glass with a tombstone on your back
Walk away in emptiness, walk away in sorrow,
Walk away from yesterday, walk away tomorrow,
Walk away in anger, walk away in pain
Walk away from life itself, walk into the rain
All this wandering has led me to this place
Inside the well of my memory,
sweet rain of forgiveness I'm just hanging here in space
Now I'm suspended between my darkest fears and dearest hope
Yes I've been walking, now I'm hanging from a dead man's rope
With Hell below me, and Heaven in the sky above
I've been walking, I've been walking away from Jesus' love
Walk away in emptiness, walk away in sorrow,
Walk away from yesterday, walk away tomorrow,
Walk away in anger, walk away in pain
Walk away from life itself, walk into the rain
All this wandering has led me to this place
Inside the well of my memory, sweet rain of forgiveness
I'm just hanging here in space
The shadows fall around my bed
When the hand of an angel,
The hand of an angel is reaching down above my head
All this wandering has led me to this place
Inside the well of my memory, sweet rain of forgiveness
Now I'm walking in his grace I'm walking in his footsteps
Walking in his footsteps, Walking in his footsteps
All the days of my life I will walk with you
All the days of my life I will talk with you
All the days of my life I will share with you
All the days of my life I will bear with you
Walk away from emptiness, walk away from sorrow,
Walk away from yesterday, walk away tomorrow,
Walk away from anger, walk away from pain
Walk away from anguish, walk into the rain"

Sting's character discovers there in freedom and hope found in relationship with Jesus Christ. In exchange for a life of brokenness, hopelessness, and disappointment, He gives peace and victory over death. Just as Christ himself experienced in his death and resurrection.

I have to say, I think Sting missed a great opportunity for a play on words. He should have included this verse from the Apostle Paul:
"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" (I Corinthians 15:55)

A man in love.

6- Fields of Gold: Unashamedly romantic. Instant classic. Radio staple. Signature song. 1993 was a another banner year for Sting as a solo artist. I can't hear this song without thinking of my wife.

Late night jazz radio perfected.

7- She Walks This Earth (Soberana Rosa):  Sometimes when an artist appears on a tribute or compilation of various artists, the end result can be a piece of throwaway music. Not so here. Sting's tribute to and cover of Brazilian artist Ivan Lins is smart, sexy, and altogether intoxicating. Worth hunting down if you don't own it.

Great video performance.

8- Brand New Day:  Perhaps a bit pedestrian for some fans, but I find this song of romantic plea for a new start encouraging in a world which continues to kick us in the teeth from time to time. It's a reminder to me that regardless of my own shortcomings (and there are many!) that God loves me and gives me a fresh day to start all over.

As the key and title song of his last album from the 90's, Sting decided to pair with a musical legend: Stevie Wonder. The combo works wonderfully, and Stevie's harmonica brings just the right amount of grit and humanity to it all. The music video places Sting as messiah- a very arrogant move- and like the album cover, is not a very good visual presentation of the music found on the disc which earned him two Grammy awards. 

Live and with an orchestra.

9- Every Little Thing She Does is Magic: OK, I said Police numbers were not included, but his solo version of the song is part of his Symphonicities disc of 2010. Often accused of being easy listening, Sting goes for it in that exact genre- with a twist. Even when being accompanied by an orchestra, there's no denying this old Police song is full of... magic. My wife and I were blessed with tickets to his Red Rocks concert for this tour. Incredible show (review here) and one of the few artists she would go see again.

Urban cowboy.

10- This Cowboy Song: An extra song added to his first solo hits collection. You'd think this would be another cut to toss aside, but Cowboy is a fun song with an even more enjoyable video that parodies but honors movies from the Western genre. On his Live in Berlin (Symphonicities) video, Sting and band create a hoedown worthy of the Old West. Urban Cowboy indeed!

So, are you a fan? If so, what are your favorites?

January 13, 2015

Notable and Quotable: Matt Chandler

"Heaven isn't a place for those who are afraid of hell. It's a place for those who love God. There's no such thing as fire insurance. You don't come to God just so you won't go to hell. That's not how it works."

 Pastor Matt Chandler, The Village Church

January 12, 2015

The First Attraction Poster for Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln

Direct from the New York World's Fair to Disneyland. The stunning attraction for the State of Illinois came to the Opera House on Main Street U.S.A. 

This attraction poster is a rare one, that's for sure. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln continues to be a crowd favorite. Long before thrills became more and more common, guests that were enamored  with Disneyland's warm sense of patriotism really appreciated Walt's desire to honor one of the greatest American presidents. 

When land became more available in the form of Walt Disney World, the Lincoln show was expanded to include all in the Hall of Presidents in Liberty Square. The show itself changed over the years and more men spoke but none so passionately, eloquently, and full of sincerity as the God-fearing Honest Abe. 

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

January 6, 2015

Sneak Peak: DCA's Condor Flats Becomes Grizzly Peak Airfield

It seems as if one of the "gifts" to celebrate the 60th birthday of Disneyland includes even more cosmetic work on its much younger sister, California Adventure

The addition of Cars Land, the revamping of Paradise Pier and the full on cosmetic surgery of the Sun Plaza into Buena Vista Street has made Anaheim's second park finally worthy of the Disney name. She certainly was an unattractive child, but as she's entering her teen years, she's shaping up quite nicely! And there's more to come.

Coming your way soon. Photo from MiceAge.

MiceAge is reporting that DCA's Condor Flats will be melted into the Grizzly Peak area. Newly renamed Grizzly Peak Airfield. This will involve a transformation from the dry desert landscape into the lush greenery of the California forests. The news is nothing new if you've kept your eyes open- and if you have a copy of Jason Surrell's The Disney Mountains: Imagineering at It's Peak. Inside is this piece of concept art that shows it all.  

The newest park map shows Condor Flats closed.
Click on this for a larger image.
From the always excellent Magic Eye website.

Instead of cactus greeting guests coming off Carthay Circle, the pine trees will welcome guests to a mountain top airstrip. Soarin' Over California now sports a fresh mountain look, and everything around it will fit seamlessly into the atmosphere as Grizzly Peak looms in the near distance. Given the work is mostly new landscaping and much paint, the finished product should be done by the Summer season, hopefully at the beginning of it. 

Another slice of DCA 1.0 disappears.

In the old days, as much as I loved the look of the desert airstrip, it was truly an abrupt change to round the bend and find the Grand Californian Resort, then the geysers of the rapids adventure. But that was DCA 1.0, when transitions mattered little, hip and edgy was the order of the day, and the suits felt as if the guests were too dumb to notice the company had delivered an inferior product but charged full fees for it. It certainly was cheap. (Take a look at my multi-part series Bargain Basement Imagineering. This approach created some of the shallowest, themeless attractions ever to be seen at a Disney park.)

With the success of DCA 2.0, a new day has dawned. Here's hoping that Phase Two of the renovation begins as Condor Flats goes away. And what else was in that book, anyway?

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

The Disease of Terminal Niceness

The Christian Church in America is Dying From the Disease of Terminal Niceness! Let that statement sink in for a bit before you keep reading. How did we get there and so far away from Historic Christianity?

Let me throw some thoughts your way. First, “The Soft Gospel”. It says, "Come to Jesus and your life will become better." It's the Pathway to Prosperity, etc. It's a teaching that has taken hold in the United States for a few decades now. We have come to believe it is our God-given right to health and wealth. This mindset keeps us focused on our own needs- and ineffective in God's Kingdom! We don’t think about God’s priorities but our own! It is still “all about us”!

Let me say, Jesus didn't end up wealthy and healthy on this earth; neither did the Twelve Disciples, neither did the early New Testament church. Many were killed for their faith! Even today, true believers are not welcomed in our world. The latest martyrs- believers in the Middle East who are executed- certainly didn't end up with a life on earth full of money and comfort.

This thought is no better than any other philosophy, reducing Jesus’ bloody sacrifice on the Cross- and His Resurrection- to nothing. It reduces Jesus to just another philosopher instead of the Creator God who will return to Judge all Creation. Following this thought pattern reduces the Christian to another self help group, and we can fall into the trap about talking about Jesus and thinking about Him, intellectualizing Him, without actually following Him into a life of self-sacrifice and death. Ultimately, the church and the Christian faith looks like what the world offers but from a different slant!

I read the Bible where Jesus said, “Whoever serves me must follow me.” (John 12:26). On the way to his crucifixion, he asks Peter “Will you really lay down your life for me?” (John 13:38) The same question holds true for us today!

The second reason the church has been infected by terminal niceness comes from another incomplete piece of theology. “It’s All By Grace” – Yes, that is true, and I am thankful for Amazing Grace- but it does not mean nothing is required of us! The Biblical book of James was written for a reason. Faith without works is dead!

Work is an expression of, and a response to, the grace given us, an outpouring of our gratefulness toward Him who gave all for us. Jesus himself set this example in motion! To be Christlike is to also engage in the work the Father gives us. For His purposes and for his glory. If we never work, we become spiritually fat, lazy, and dull! We remain self-focused and immature, useless in God's kingdom.

So, that begs the question- What Does Terminal Niceness Look Like? What are the symptoms?
1- We get Bored- and We look elsewhere for fulfillment! Be it entertainment, business, family, sports, money, leisure, outright sin, , etc. Why? "Soft Christianity" doesn’t fulfill because it has no depth, no challenge, so we look other places.

It used to be the Military appealed to patriotism to recruit. In the last few decades, when that no longer worked, they changed tactics and now appeal to a “Are You Man Enough?” approach. They realized we are designed by God to be about something bigger than ourselves! This is partially why we "come alive" on serving others- Missions Trips and Service Projects! We do what we are designed for!

2- We get Frustrated and Cynical!
As people in the church respond to lack of direction and clear purpose, frustration continues, and in response the church becomes focused on making people happy and being nice- reinforcing the cycle!

3- Other Symptoms

There are plenty! Here's a few.

• We rewrite the rules to justify our personal weaknesses.
• We are fearful to confront sin. Truth tellers become the problem.
• Iron no longer sharpens iron- We got stuck in our disfunction.
• We become insincere as everyone must start to look good and be content or risk not fitting in. • We segregate ourselves from the outside world or we begin accepting everything the world says as ok for Christians. We become useless salt.
• We begin to protect the status quo in the church. At the extreme, we defend it to the result where good is labeled evil, and evil is justified away.

The church's call to Holiness, living a life that pleases God, is not legalism or simple narrow-mindedness - it is asking the church to be the church, the believer to be a disciple, the challenge to live as we say we believe. If we carry the name of Jesus, we should live like him!

If we look at 2 Timothy, where the Apostle Paul addresses Timothy- who was young in the faith but set aside to pastor a church, we get our "job description" as a person who follows Jesus Christ. It's interesting to note that in this letter to Timothy, Paul is the one in prison, but he is encouraging the young pastor to stay the course!

“1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (II Timothy 2:1-3)

Just some observations- We need to acknowledge God’s grace to live this life. Don’t rely on yourself. The Holy Spirit empowering us! Secondly, we as Jesus followers all have work to do, and Paul was encouraging young Timothy to endure hardship- knowing Timothy was working.

Some authors, like the popular Christian author John Eldridge, believe the church has been feminized. This may be why men are dropping out in record numbers, but I believe it is more than that. If it was just feminization, the drop out rate of college age students would be decreased by half!

I believe we have been rendered ineffective by being pacified. We have become pacifists- but God calls us to something different. He calls us to be active in our world, making it better becasue we are in it, contributing to it.

Paul compares being a Believer to being a soldier. But what are soldiers called to do? The job of a soldier is to: Defend, Protect, Free Prisoners, Advance Against and Break Down Enemy Strongholds

The book of I John tells us the whole world is under control of the Evil One, that is the devil. (I John 5:19-20). We know that he is like a roaring lion waiting to devour (I Peter 5:8). Yet, even without the Scriptures to remind us, we can see evil is winning battles in this world, although God has won the War. We are at war! Reality says “If you want to live in a nice world, go to Disneyland!”

Look at Jesus’ words about this battle: "12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force." (Matthew 11:12- New American Standard version of the Bible). What does this mean? The best explanation from the commentators is this: “The Kingdom of God Belongs to Those Who Contend for It!” Who will win? Not the nice guys! Hear me, I'm not advocating aggression or a victim mentality; I'm advocating perseverance and remembering our priorities.

Further in 2 Timothy 2: 3-4: “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs- he wants to please his commanding officer.” There's only two comments from Paul here. First, a reminder. Don’t get involved in civilian affairs In other words, remember your first priorities! And second, please your commanding officer – the bottom line! For the soldier, this priority remains job Number 1.

Obedience is required- full understanding of all the facts or circumstances is not necessary even if it is preferred. This is training in integrity, commitment, and perseverance. There's no excuses- you are in the military or you are not. Own what you signed up for! Soldiers train for battle, refined by their commander. Every person is under someone’s authority. Each has special skills which work together for the common good, and all of us in the battlefield of life must be able to rely on the other.

Sometimes, the Commanding Officer is blunt, direct and honest- preparing the platoon for things to come; not always liked but respected. He's not your Mamma! We need Him to keep us from getting lazy and getting off on the wrong track. We need Him to remind us what Our Mission is!

Churches and People can forget their true Mission! It's the Great Commandment, to love God and one another. And it's the Great Commission, to go out into the world, be it near of far, and share the good news that Jesus died for the sins of men to save them from an eternity in Hell.

What challenges do soldiers face? Plenty- we must "Fight the Good Fight of Faith!" It should be a joy and a delight to work with God. At the least, it is exciting to be obedient and see where that leads! The Lord will judge us for our deeds; He will forgive our sin, not our excuses!

We are human and we like to run from truth to justify ourselves. We let ourselves and others stay in sin and old unhealthy patterns- this is not good for the church and not good for us as individuals! We like having just enough Jesus to save us from Hell but this kind of shallow satisfaction isn’t enough to give us deep freedom and healing. Only full submission will do it!

Not only is the way to eternal life narrow, the path for a true follower of Christ is narrow. It’s a path that leads us to the cross as well! Choosing to die to our own desires and embrace His calling.

We stand at a crossroads every day. What will it be, our purposes or His? Obedience or sin? It's time we fight the disease of Terminal Niceness in our churches. Isn't it?

January 5, 2015

Ladies and Rogues: Pieces of Art for Pirates of the Caribbean

There's much to love about the work of Imagineer Marc Davis. The man contributed to so many classic Disneyland and Walt Disney World attractions! The Jungle Cruise, Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland, America Sings, Country Bear Jamboree, and of course everyone's favorite, the Pirates of the Caribbean

No one like Marc could do magic when it came to pulling off clever gags with humans and animals- and the first two pieces of art show exactly what I'm talking about. The top piece contains two lovely ladies that did not make the cut when it was time to build the attraction. The art below shows a monkey and his human friend enjoying a pint- another that never found a home in New Orleans Square.

Just last month I rode the attraction and realized there was still an enormous amount of open space where previously unused concepts could come to life. My hope is that one day, Anaheim visitors will find sword fighting as guests can do while riding the excellent reworking of the attraction at Disneyland Paris. It's something a guest doesn't even realize is missing until its seen for the first time. Quite the feat the Imagineers pulled off.

Just when I think I've run out of Marc's pieces for Pirates, I find something else in my files. Perhaps one day, I'll unearth more...

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

January 4, 2015

The Return of Downton Abbey

OK, I admit it. I really enjoy Downton Abbey. Television rarely has an evening drama so engaging and never one with Maggie Smith in it. So, what's not to like? And it returns tonight for season six in the States.

My friends in Scotland don't think much of it, but then they are used to living in an area with such grand and quaint and charming homes. The entire mix of lower, upper, and middle class houses combined with lush greenery and a history full of grand tradition.

Confession time: I like the television show enough that I sometimes read ahead... and you'll never guess what happens this year!

January 3, 2015

Saturday Afternoon Gametime

Enjoying lunch and a sweet little afternoon game with my wife. Makes the snowy and gray day not as dreary. What a blessing from God she is- except when she gets competitive! ;)

January 2, 2015

Friday Night Special: At Pleasure Island

Here's my first offering for something new on the blog. A Friday Night Special. This time it's a piece of concept art for the great adult entertainment area. It's beautiful when enlarged.

The Imagineers did an incredible job bringing some nightlife to Walt Disney World. Now, the Comedy Warehouse only shows up at Disney's Hollywood Studios at Christmas, and the excellent Adventurer's Club is a relic from the past. Boy, it was something back then! 

Want more Pleasure Island? Go to this post for some great vintage photos taken right after the grand opening- including a large, leg swinging Jessica Rabbit

Times change, and we all have new places for some fun. Just remember to keep it in check- we don't want to end up like those bad boys in Pinocchio

Do search for more Pleasure Island posts on the blog. You'll be surprised what you find around here...
(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

Elusive Liberty Square Haunted Mansion Attraction Poster

Starting off the new year with something I've been dying to get my hands on! The smaller size doesn't do it justice, but here's a look at the attraction poster for the Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World's elegant Liberty Square. (You can click on it to get it in a very large size.)

Back at the park's opening in 1971, there wasn't a need for an elaborate interactive queue to draw guests in or give them an advance look at what would lie inside the manor. The clever Imagineers knew that sometimes waiting for an attraction fueled the guest's imagination- all the better for an attraction that promised an encounter with "999 Happy Haunts". Sometimes less is more.

Of course, the motto for the inside of the attraction had to be something along the lines of giving the guests so much to look at that they had to return for another visit to take it all in. It's part of what made the old school Imagineers such great artists. Always giving paying guests more than they expected. Classic attractions that stand the test of time always do.

Speaking of the classics, come back Monday for some rare concept art from your favorite adventure on the high seas.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

January 1, 2015

Untying the New Year

A new year and a fresh beginning. Happy New Year!

Most of us carry expectations into the year, wishing and hoping we see some things come to pass. Sometimes it means working hard and getting down to business to see what we want come to fruition. Other times, God drops blessings right in our laps because of His great love for us.

So, it's time for me to put away the festivities, focus, and take some time to move ahead.

This blog has been something I've enjoyed, hated, and looked at as a combination journal, travelogue, social commentary, and historical review. I've always wanted it to be fun as well. After six years, I am asking myself, "Where am I going in 2015?"

The real world is taking more and more time. New job, busy life, less large chunks of time to really write.  So, here's my promise: I'll post when I can, continuing on sharing about the things I love. It may not be as frequent, but I want to keep writing, especially as my life keeps changing. 

I've tried to get a head start on things, so those of you who are fans of Disney concept art may want to hang around. Starting tomorrow...