April 1, 2015

Disneyland Annual Passport for Everyone

No April Fool's Joke. Did you know everyone can have an annual passport to Disneyland? The Happiest Place on Earth offers a truncated experience to those who visit this page. Please make no mistake. It's not a day in the park, but this will give you a little insight into the question about what annual passport holders are offered and how they are treated.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

March 31, 2015

Walt Disney Studios Paris: The Little Park with an Identity Crisis

It's not for lack of trying. It's for lack of trying hard enough. With the truly incredible remake of Disney California Adventure, the woefully under built Walt Disney Studios Paris theme park is now the bastard child of sorts in the Disney theme park collection.

Following the Michael Eisner disaster era of post- EuroDisneyDisneyland Paris, build them on the cheap, this park continues to suffer from a poor beginning, desperation in expansion, an uncertain future, and the sheer misfortune of sitting next door to the most beautiful Magic Kingdom ever built. 

As with any Disney park, including the now lost Epcot, the disaster of Florida's own Studios park, or the beautiful but lacking Animal Kingdom, there are "nice" attractions to be found among the ruins of potential greatness.

Crush's Coaster is a fun-filled zippy excursion through the world of Nemo, but its big box exterior and less than fully executed interior still make it a second rate attraction. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is also fun but as its straddled with the same design as that found in California, by its very beginning it's far less than it could have been. Rock n Rollercoaster looks every bit as thrown together at the last moment as it was, yet, these three attractions do provide some thrills for those wanting more of an adrenaline rush than can be had at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad next door. 

Aside from a film based avant grade "sophisticated" theater show, the park's rounded out by a very sorry Studio Tram Tour and the kiddy amusement park rides of Toy Story Playland. It's certainly not a compelling mix- and faced with a one day only choice, a wise park goer would opt for the park next door. Nor does it make Disneyland Paris a destination resort.

Although, in the current Disney world where Trader Sam's Grog Grotto is better executed than the most current Walt Disney World attractions, perhaps the Imagineers have hit it out of the park by creating the Bistrot Chez Remy. This popular but pricey and very well themed restaurant, is the French equivalent to Be Our Guest in Florida's Magic Kingdom. As with the Grog Grotto, the Paris stop and Florida's Fantasyland eatery are attractions all their own, luring guests who have now forgotten Disney used to be in the attraction business long before it was in the restaurant one.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

March 27, 2015

Never Built Discoveryland at Disneyland Paris

Imagineering's Tim Delaney crafted an incredible Discoveryland at the beautiful Disneyland Paris. At opening, the entire place had a Jules Verne theme that drew guests into his amazing world. The vibe was electric- especially at night, when the multitude of neon lights illuminated the area. Just fantastic!

As beautiful as the final execution of the land was, some of the concept art for buildings that were not built is every bit as beautiful. Just look at the piece above, and make sure you click on it to bring it to its full size. 

When you do that, you'll discover a resemblance to some of what was built years later at Hong Kong Disneyland. Naturally, that area was designed with more of a fantasy cartoon version of the future, but many of the elements borrowed from the original art for Paris' futuristic land. 

Much to the delight of this Disneyland Paris fan, the incredible Space Mountain was not duplicated anywhere else. For that matter, many of the elements of the French park are exclusive to Paris. A wise choice, making it absolutely necessary to see the most beautiful Magic Kingdom ever in person.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

Trader Sam's Grog Grotto Open at Disney's Polynesian Village

First look from the Disney Park's Blog:  Looking good! I'm ready for a drink. Are you?

(Photograph copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

March 26, 2015

Disneyland 60th Anniversary Poster

Just something for my records: Disneyland's 60th Anniversary poster. Very cool!

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

March 25, 2015

Design Detail: Disney's Hollywood Studios

Today's Design Detail post takes a look at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Now, before you grumble about what a sad state of affairs this park is in, remember, that's not what this series is about...

I won't say much about this photo. When I took it, I already knew it wasn't terrific in its composure. However, when you blow it up and take a close look, you'll find plenty of design flourishes that make the park a treat for the discerning eye.

(Not much in the realm of attractions however. Sorry, I broke my own request. Just couldn't resist!)

Photograph copyright Mark Taft.

March 24, 2015

The Blessing of Friends

The blessing of new friends! What a great thing.

Clearly, as brothers in faith in Jesus Christ, folks who don't know each other can become good friends in a short amount of time! And so is the case here. 

I am so thankful to consider these men my friends- and to be counted as one by them. God is good all the time.

March 23, 2015

Walking Away

I want to quit.

Apparently, I'm like everyone else.  If you look at the numbers, so many people are walking away. Leaving marriages, companies, friendships, churches, their faith etc. Doesn't seem to matter what the core factor at question is, people are generally walking away from it all.

I'm not going to quit.

Yes, I'm tired. Yes, it's hard. Jesus himself described there would be an ongoing battle for those who want to follow God. A battle of flesh against spirit. Thankfully, He promises eternal life for all who would endure until the end.

It's sad though. I see some of my friends' children walking away- and some of them as well! Not all my kids follow Jesus with their whole heart. Some just don't want to press in when things get hard. Some just like the mindset of the world instead and invest little.

The big question: Is the way you're living drawing you closer or farther away to Jesus? Think about it. Standing still is really walking away, little increments at a time.

I won't do it. I want to, but I won't. My heart's desire is to finish my human race well- and right into the arms of a God who loves me.

What about you?

March 21, 2015

Haunted Mansion Tour and Its Ties to Pirates of the Caribbean

Count me in as a fan of old school Disney Imagineering. The first generation of artists really understood what Walt Disney was trying to accomplish at Disneyland. It's that crew of folks like Bob Gurr, Marc Davis, Herb Ryman, Claude Coates and more that really mentored the now retiring greats of our day, including the current torch holder Tony Baxter.

When New Orleans Square debuted at the park in the mid-60's, Imagineering hit its stride with the masterpiece Pirates of the Caribbean. The new land was a beautiful recreation of the famed city, drawing in guests to discover its beautiful ironwork, intricate back alleys, and delightful shops and restaurants. Somehow, just seeing the Mark Twain riverboat round the bend from the cafes seemed so right. So elegant. So Disney.

If Imagineering's stride was hit in 1967, the land itself hits its peak with the opening of The Haunted Mansion in 1969. It remains the cherry on top of a stunning theme park sundae. At once completing the area and further defining its mystery and romance. Being right next door to each other, Pirates and Mansion bring a knockout punch, giving guests an experience unrivaled from any other land in any other Magic Kingdom park.

This video, above, is the absolute best visual presentation to be found. It's fairly recent, as fans of the attraction will know by observing the attic scene, but it's a complete tour with plenty of opportunities to stop the video and discover some secrets.

Art by Eddie Sotto for the unrealized new attraction.

Speaking of secrets and the ties that bind...

My two of my favorite Disneyland attractions: Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion have an additional but not fully realized connection in Walt's park. Imagineer Eddie Sotto had once been involved in some new ideas to tie the two together using historical references to real life pirate Jean Lafitte. (I had forgotten about this but had heard an interview with him on the subject awhile back.)  Go to this post to see a number of photos and the story in full.  In the old days, Walt would have jumped all over this (along with other ideas like creating a dungeon walk through for Sleeping Beauty Castle). The parks were viewed as artwork then, not solely a tool to increase profits and pimp out the latest movies. 

Want more about the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean? Being these are my two favorite park attractions, this blog of more than 1800 posts contains dozens of articles, rare pieces of concept art, photographs, and more. Browse around and check it out!

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

March 20, 2015

Daveland Presents Disneyland 1959

... and what a terrific set of photos Dave has posted for us today!

Daveland is one of the best sites out there when you want a retro inspired look at Disneyland history through the ages. In addition to being a pretty great photographer himself and a real nice guy, Dave DeCaro has a fine collection of photos and slides. 

Check out today's post for a real treat- a 1959 visit to all the lands of Disneyland and a look at the Matterhorn Bobsleds under construction.

(Photograph copyright Davelandblog.)

March 17, 2015

Pathetic and Disgusting

I just get sick to my stomach when I read about charlatans that bilk the unsuspecting faith community in the name of Jesus Christ. Here's another case. A different take on the Joel Osteen prosperity gospel that is such a bastardization of true Christianity.

"Pastor" Creflo Dollar (!) wants his congregation to pitch in and buy him a $65 Million jet. Let that sink in for a minute after you read this article. How many people could be fed and clothed? How many Bibles could be distributed in native languages to folks who have never heard of the Good News of Jesus Christ coming to die to pay the penalty for their sin? How much could be given to support the men and women and children that are trying to survive under regimes that kill them all in the name of their god?

No wonder atheists and humanists look at the church in disgust! But even this does not the away from the truth found only in Jesus Christ.

Want to see true Christianity in action? Read the Gospel accounts of Jesus' life on earth and then read the book of Acts which describes how believers lived after Jesus left the earth to return one day. That is real Christianity lived out. 

Real Christians exists everywhere and walking out the real faith in Christ happens all over the world. Yet it seems too much of the American church has blended the American success story and search for comfort above all with their faith, resulting in a faith that isn't true at all. Just another false gospel.

(Photo copyright Phil Skinner.)

March 14, 2015

Yesterday and Tomorrowland Lead the Walt Disney Company

Who says that imagination is dead at the Walt Disney Company

At the movie houses, Cinderella seems to be on the road to being the latest hit, Tomorrowland is on the way, and more is coming. Like Pirates of the Caribbean before them, great movie concepts are taken from iconic attractions at Disneyland, old animated classics, and then spun into gold. All you have to do is look at the upcoming slate of Disney films to see that looking to the past is the new future for the Company.

Robert Iger leads the way into making the most of what as been done before and what has been brought into the company fold. Marvel, Star Wars, and a little project called Shanghai Disneyland will make the most of what Disney can do, be it via Imagineers or film makers.

True forward looking projects such as Epcot, have taken a back seat to money makers. Disneyland's Tomorrowland looks backwards as do most of the castle park's "Land of the Future". Making a quick buck by exploiting the past is the new marketing focus and a way to grow revenue. It's all about the money.

And visionaries like Walt Disney and his crew like Herb Ryman (who designed the piece of concept art, above), would cry to see what they've done to their company.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

March 13, 2015

Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad Attraction Poster

Here's a beautiful attraction poster! This one is from Hong Kong Disneyland. The old railroad posters, be they from Disneyland in California, the Magic Kingdom in Florida, Paris or Tokyo, or any of the castle parks, have long been a favorite of mine. Like the others, this one is elegant- very befitting the charm of a century ago.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

March 12, 2015

Billboard Magazine Ads for Carpenters

Thanks to my friends over at A&M Corner, my chronological album reviews of music by Karen and Richard Carpenter now include a set of ads placed in Billboard magazine. The images can be very stunning, such as the one above, celebrating the release of the Carpenters self-titled album. While these ads announce each new release, they also reveal the clear problem A&M Records executives had in promoting the brother and sister duo. Regardless, they are a fascinating piece of music history for anyone who appreciated the most gifted vocalist of the 20th century and her incredibly talented brother who produced, arranged, and even wrote many of their hits. Just looking at the ads, it's Yesterday Once More.

March 10, 2015

Frozen Fever Poster

While I'm busy doing blog maintenance, here's an interesting little poster for the Frozen Fever animated short. The one everyone knows is part of Disney's reboot of Cinderella.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

March 9, 2015

New Art for Grizzly Peak Airfield

It's finally here! Concept art for Grizzly Peak Airfield. Disney Imagineering has just released some concept art giving us a preview of changes to come.

Taste Pilot's becomes Smokejumper's Grill, with a new improved menu that is sure to please guests and will most likely retain a few favorites from opening day.

Opening March 20, just a week and a half away, the interior will have shades of the former tenant but will also offer some new touches more in theme with the forest environment.

It's the revamping of Soarin' Over California that has me the most excited however. When it reopens in time for the kickoff of the 60th Anniversary celebration, there will be refreshed visuals and special effects. This classic attraction gets a new exterior and soon enough, a new film as well. Soarin' Over the World / Horizon has to first open at Shanghai Disneyland, but it will make its way to California Adventure

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

Super Heroes Do Good Everyday

Chris Pratt and Chris Evans doing a superhero visit to the Seattle Children's Hospital. Doing good for others with nothing to gain should be a goal for everyone. Don't you agree?