Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas at WDW

It's Christmas Time in Walt Disney World!

Welcome to those of you joining me from Mommy Mouseketeer and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 4th stop on our Magical Blogorail.

This month's topic is WDW Holiday Must-Dos (or if you've never been to WDW during the holidays, what would be on your list?).

I confess, I’ve never been to Walt Disney World at Christmas time for a variety of reasons.  I never got around to it before kids, and now that I have school aged children, getting to WDW during their holiday breaks is difficult and a little bit cost prohibitive, plus I can’t stand crowds.  I know you are thinking: “why would I ever go to WDW if I don't like crowds?”  Crowd levels are a relative term for me.  There are varying levels of crowds I can handle.  Christmas school holiday weeks is not one of them.  In addition, I’ve never been a big Christmas holiday fan, so the desire to go during the holidays isn’t that high.  Maybe if I go, I’ll change my mind.  I do know that if I ever go to Disney World during the holidays, on the top of my list of things to do is to see the monorail resort decorations.  Resort hopping is one of my favorite outside the park activities, and seeing the lobbies of those magnificent resorts all decked out in Christmas attire would be a sight to see.

My brother and his girlfriend recently spent a week prior to Thanksgiving at WDW and Christmas decorations were already up.  He sent me a few to display on today’s blogorail topic.  Enjoy!

I hope you enjoyed the photo tour from around the Magic Kingdom resorts.  One day I’ll get there during the holidays and, maybe, seeing the castle all lit up, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights and the resort Christmas trees will be get me jazzed about the holiday season at the World.  Until then, I’ll just watch the specials on TV, read blog postings, and celebrate in the comfort of my own home with a warm cup of hot cocoa.

Thank you for joining the Magical Blogorail Black this month. We will be back in January with an all new theme.  Keep checking in with our blogs in between loops to keep up to date with our Disney news, photos and stories. If you are looking for more Disney magic, you can make your way over to The Magical Blogorail website to see all our members and their blogs, as well as all our previous loops.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make astop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ The Disney Chick
2nd Stop ~ Manda’s Disney Blog
3rd Stop ~ Mommy Mouseketeer
Final Stop ~ The Magical Mouse Pad

Friday, November 30, 2012

Did You Know?

Prince Charming Regal Carousel is the oldest attraction at the Walt Disney World Resort. 

The carousel was originally built in 1917 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Comany.  In 1967, Walt Disney purchased the handmade carousel and horses from the Olympic Park in Maplewood, New Jersey.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Electrical Water Pageant

Favorite Night Time Show

Welcome to those of you joining me from The CanaDisney Blog and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 3rd stop on our Magical Blogorail.

This month we are talking about a Favorite Night time Show at Disney.  Mine is a long standing favorite that is unique to Walt Disney World complex in Florida:  The Electrical Water Pageant.  The Electrical Water Pageant has continuously run (weather permitting) every evening on Disney’s Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake since late October, 1971.  The show has changed little since then and remains one of the few original opening year shows to be still in operation.  

The Electrical Water Pageant consists of seven barges carrying large screens with colored lights in the shape of various characters.  The lights flicker on/off in order to create the effect of movement.  This stunning display is set to Disney themed music.  The Pageant concludes with a tribute to the United States, a huge flag, and patriotic music.  The light show can be seen from all of the resorts on Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake, but interestingly, not from the Magic Kingdom. 

The Electrical Water Pageant (EWP) traverses the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake making stops in front of each resort to perform it’s show.  Weather permitting, the EWP starts at the Polynesian Resort usually at 9pm, travels to the Grand Floridian, then the Wilderness Lodge, over to Fort Wilderness and ends at a stop in front of the Contemporary Resort at little after 10pm.  The best viewing spots are from the beaches and boat docks of the Magic Kingdom Resorts.   The light show does not make a stop in front of the Magic Kingdom, although, you could be fortunate to see some of it from the Ferry Boat or the Monorail.    

The Electric Water Pageant is often created as the idea that led to the creation of the original Main Street Electrical Parade at Disneyland...and eventually to Spectromagic at the Magic Kingdom.

The EWP is one of my favorite evening treats at Disney World.  It's quirky and fun.  It's also one of the few parades where you don't have to line up hours prior to view.   For my family, it's a wonderful way to end the evening!

Here’s a sampling of the current music line-up for the EWP:
   Opening music: "Fanfare" from The Little Mermaid
   Sea Serpent (four floats) featuring "Boo Bop Bopbop Bop (I Love You Too)" from Pete's Dragon
   Whale (one float) accompanied by "Whale of a Tale" from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
   Turtle (one float) 
   Octopus (one float) accompanied by "Poor Unfortunate Souls" from The Little Mermaid
   Three Jumping Dolphins (three floats)
   Brachiosaurus (one Float) accompanied by "Walk the Dinosaur" 
   Crocodile (one float) accompanied by "Never Smile at a Crocodile" from Peter Pan 
   Four Seahorses (one float) accompanied by "Fanfare and "Under the Sea" from The Little Mermaid
   Neptune (one float) accompanied by "Fanfare and "Under the Sea" from The Little Mermaid
   All floats change to the American Flag & Stars and are accompanied by:  "You're a Grand Old Flag", 
   "Yankee Doodle", and "America the Beautiful".
   Closing music "Fireworks" and "Jig" from The Little Mermaid 

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is The Disney Point.  

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

2nd Stop ~ The CanaDisney Blog  
4th Stop ~ The Disney Point
Final Stop ~ The Disney Chick

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Favorite World Showcase Pavilion

Welcome to those of you joining me from 400 Miles to Disneyland and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the final stop on our Magical Blogorail.  

Our topic on the Magical Blogorail this month is our favorite World Showcase Pavilion.  I must admit, this topic is hard for me as it’s difficult to pick my FAVORITE pavilion.  Each country represented is so unique in its own right that it’s hard to compare apples to apples.  But if I must pick, I’m going to pick the one that is most intriguing me.  That pavilion is Morocco.  I think I find Morocco the most fascinating because it’s the culture represented in Epcot that I know least about.  

Koutoubia Minaret
of Marrakesh
Quite unassuming on the outside, Morocco is often passed by for more familiar countries by many guests.  Morocco doesn’t have an attraction, so most people don’t bother with it and that is a shame.  Just inside the walled city, lies an amazing architecture, adorned with beautiful tile work and impeccable craftsmanship.  A walk through the local bazaar (or market place) reveals delightful treasures.  It’s a truly unique shopping experience.

The Morocco Pavilion was the first expansion pavilion to be added to the World Showcase, opening in 1984.  The pavilion is the only one designed with the named government’s aid.  King Hassan II sent Moroccan artisans to design and create the many mosaics and buildings you’ll see in the pavilion.  Due to Islamic beliefs on the content of art, the mosaics contain no representations of people.  To this day, the Moroccan government continues to sponsor the pavilion, while corporations hold sponsoring rights to the other World Showcase pavilions.  

Bab Boujouloud gate

Three cities of this northern African country are represented here:  Casablanca, Fez, and Marrakesh.  Guarding the entrance to the pavilion is a reproduction of the Koutoubia Minaret of Marrakesh.  This intricately carved tower was built by native craftsmen.  As you delve deeper into the pavilion, you’ll see more exquisite craftsmanship in the gate to the Medina (or old city) in a replica of the Bab Boujouloud gate.  Through the gate, you’ll find the bustling bazaar.  All the shops are interconnected to give you the feel of being in a real outside shopping bazaar and it’s easy to get lost in these shops!  The bazaar is a wonderful place to find unique gifts for that hard-to-buy-for person in your family.  Doesn’t your Cousin Tim need a Fez?  How about a belly dancing video for your Aunt Helen? 

Enter the Fez House to see a representation of a typical Moroccan home.  The tile and word work is amazing.  If it’s quiet, I’m sure you can hear children playing in the distance!

One of many
A flower filled courtyard is surrounded by native plants -- citrus and olive trees, date palms, banana trees, and a fountain.  Some of the gardens are irrigated by an ancient working waterwheel.  

Since these buildings were designed and sponsored by the country of Morocco, they hold great religious significant.  As a result the pavilion is the only one not lit up during the nightly Illuminations performance.  

Here is a sampling of what’s available to you in this pavilion:
  • Gallery of Arts and History - A museum of sorts filled with a display of science, music, and technology of Morocco.  
  • Moroccan Style:  The Art of Personal Adornment - An exhibit that features clothing and jewelry of Morocco.  
Lunch at Tangerine Cafe
  • Restaurant Marrakesh - Sit down restaurant location serves various types of Moroccan cuisine.  Belly dancers provide entertainment to diners.
  • Tangerine Cafe - Serves hummus, salads, rotisseries chicken, lamb, and baklava along with moroccan beverages include strong coffee, mint tea, and beer.  The amount of food you get here in their platters is enough for two!
  • Tangier Trades - Sells jewelry, and Moroccan clothing and shoes.
  • Brass Bazaar - Handworked brass items.
  • Outdoor Bazaar - extension of the Brass Bazaar. Items include ceramic tiles and vases, music instruments, and handmade baskets. 
  • Medina Arts - Woodcrafts, lamps, leather goods, furniture
  • Casablanca Carpets - Rugs and other textiles.
  • Souk-Al-Magreb - Cooking utensils and food, fez hats, perfumes, and belly dancing accessories

  • Mo'Rockin - Live performances vary.  See park guides for times.  The band offers a blend of rock music and Arabian rhythms.  
Meet & Greet Disney Characters 
  • Here’s the place in Epcot to meet Aladdin, Princess Jasmine & Genie.
A final fact about the Morocco pavilion you may not know - The Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios is seen at an angle from the Moroccan pavilion.  The top of the Tower of Terror is designed so it blends in with the Moroccan architecture.
Thank you for joining Magical Blogorail Peach this month. We will be back in December with an all new theme.  If you are looking for more Disney magic, you can make your way over to Magical Blogorail website to see all our members and their blogs.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Favorite Attraction Music

Welcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail Black. Enjoy the ride as we share our favorite Disney attraction music.

There is scarcely a place on property at Disney World where you don’t hear music.  It’s piped in all around you and while it may seem like ambient noise, and somewhat random, this music serves a larger purpose.  Music at the parks can create a mood, define a time period or place, provide a transition, mask other noises, and create a story.  It's purposeful and deliberate.  Music is an integral part of the storytelling that is ever so present at the parks.  As such, Disney spares no expense in providing truly unique and distinct music for it’s theme parks.  Case in point:  “It’s a Small World” is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable tunes world round.  You’ve got to give props to Disney for enlisting amazing and talented songwriters and musicians over the years.   What they have produced are timeless classics that can be enjoyed for years.

One of my favorite musical scores comes from the classic attraction, The Haunted Mansion.  "Grim Grinning Ghosts" was composed by Buddy Baker, a Disney legend who served as music director for the Mickey Mouse Club years before becoming music director for Walt Disney.  X Atencio provided the lyrics.  Even though X Atencio was not a lyricist, his success in development of the script for Pirates of the Caribbean made him Walt Disney’s personal choice to pen a script for the Haunted Mansion.

The popularity of the attraction is obvious, as versions of this creepy manor exist at all four major Disney park locations.
Gothic style mansion, Walt Disney World & Tokyo Disneyland 
Plantation House, Disneyland 
Phantom Manor, Disneyland Paris

The title song of the attraction heard at all four parks, "Grim Grinning Ghosts", comes from a Shakespeare poem, “Venus and Adonis”:
Look, how the world’s poor people are amaz’d
At apparitions, signs, and prodigies,
Whereon with fearful eyes they long have gaz’d,
Infusing them with dreadful prophecies;
So she at these sad sighs draws up her breath,
And, sighing it again, exclaims on Death.
‘Hard-favour’d tyrant, ugly, meagre, lean,
Hateful divorce of love,’—thus chides she Death,—
‘Grim-grinning ghost, earth’s worm, what dost thou mean
To stifle beauty and to steal his breath,
Who when he liv’d, his breath and beauty set
Gloss on the rose, smell to the violet?

Appropriate?  I think so!

The theme song can be heard in nearly every area of the ride, with various instruments and tempos.  Different music loops are used throughout the Haunted Mansion scenes.  Some of these variations of "Grim Grinning Ghosts" can be heard:

Entrance foyer:  "Grim Grinning Ghosts" is played in a slow cadence of a funeral dirge.  These simple organ notes set the spooky tone for the mansion.

Loading area:  One of the most unique uses of the attraction tune, an alto flute plays a low rendition of the song, along with a wind-like sound effect that follows the pitches of the song.

Seance Room: As guests pass into Madame Leota’s seance room, a variety of instruments float through the room with the song’s melody humming in the background.

Ballroom:  On the far left of the ballroom, you can see spirits streaming out of a pipe organ playing "Grim Grinning Ghosts", this time as a waltz.

Graveyard:  X Atecios’s lyrics are first heard in the graveyard scene.  A large number of loops are played throughout this area with the ghosts singing the lyrics over a background of the melody.  All four verses are present in this scene.  One of the most distinguishable voice talents in the attraction is Thurl Ravenscroft who is most recognizable as the voice of Tony the Tiger (“They’re Great!”).  He leads the five singing busts in the graveyard scene with his deep voice.  The other four voices are Jay Meyer, Chuck Schroeder, Verne Rowe, and Bob Ebright.

While the repeating one-minute refrain is heard throughout the attraction, it avoids becoming too familiar and repetitive by changing the style and feel in each show scene.  "Grim Grinning Ghosts" ties the entire attraction together from start to finish with one musical piece.  Guests no doubt leave the attraction with the song in their head.  I know I do!

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Capturing Magical Memories.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make astop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ The Magical Mouse Pad
2nd Stop ~ Capturing Magical Memories
3rd Stop ~ The Disney Chick
4th Stop ~ Manda’s Disney Blog
Final Stop ~ (What's Going on in) Heidi's Head

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

EPCOT, at 30

With the 30th anniversary of EPCOT just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to reminisce about EPCOT of the past.  When EPCOT opened on October 1, 1982 it was initially named EPCOT Center.  In 1994, the "Center" was dropped from the park's name, and by 1996, the park was simply named Epcot.  However, for me it will always be EPCOT (spelled with all capital letters).  EPCOT stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow which was the original name of Walt Disney's concept for a Utopian-style community of the future.  Walt envisioned building a place that would be a test bed for the ultimate model for city planning and organization.  Walt Disney died before he could develop his vision of EPCOT, and with the opening of the Magic Kingdom in 1971 and that park's operation, Walt Disney's concept was put on a back-burner.  But, they say that no idea ever dies at Imagineering, and with the success of the Magic Kingdom, plans for an EPCOT-themed park developed.  And the rest they say is "history".

Things have come, things have gone, and some things have return at EPCOT since 1982.  We've lost Horizons (one of my favorite), World of Motion, the original Dreamfinder, and Kitchen Kaberet, among others.  But we've gained, too.  Norway and Morroco were not original World Showcase countries.  Soarin' and Mission Space have taken us to new places, and we are anxiously awaiting what's in store for Test Track.  But I'm not here to argue what should have gone, what should have stayed, or what should return.  Let's just have fun taking a look at pictures from the past.  I think the thing that stands out most in my mind is how much the landscaping of the park has changed over the years.

Early park map

Spaceship Earth, 1984
Fountain of Nations

The America Pavilion
World of Motion
The Land Pavilion

Spaceship Earth, 1987
Spaceship Earth, as view from Horizons

Imagination Pavilion

Spaceship Earth, viewed from inside Imagination Pyramid
World of Motion
World of Motion

World of Motion

Entrance (and a very skinny me), before those
hideous Leave a Legacy stones were installed
Canada.  I don't believe the shoreline is the same?

Spaceship Earth, 1989
The Living Seas (before Nemo)
Imagination Pavilion
Somewhere in World Showcase?
Norway opened in 1988

So, what does the next 30 years hold for EPCOT?  Who knows?!?  But if it involves this guy, then I'm all for it!

Spaceship Earth, today.  The future is
so bright, you got to wear shades.