Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Disney Wish List

Our Disney Wish List 
Disney Wish List (products/souvenirs you'd like Santa to bring you this year)

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

All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth, my two front teeth, my two front teeth.  Nope, already got those, but what should Santa bring me instead?  

This month on our Magical Blogorail we are talking about Disney products/souvenirs we’d like to see under our Christmas tree this year.  I don’t want to see my wish item under my tree, but on my tree.  I want a new Disney ornament for my tree.  I have collected assorted Disney ornaments for the past 10 to 15 years or so.  This year, however, I didn’t get an ornament even though I was in Disney World this summer.  I had packed a carry-on only for that trip, and didn’t have room for souvenirs.  

My mom is in Disney World this week with my aunt on a ladies-only trip (something I highly recommend…unless you aren’t a lady, of course!).    Maybe she’ll get me one (hint, hint…).  

In the meantime, let’s look at some of my personal favorites on the tree this year!

Cheers to you and your family for a very special Christmas and happy New Year!

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:

1st Stop ~ The Disney Chick
Final Stop ~ The Disney Point 

Friday, December 6, 2013

My Tops Tens - attraction queues

I’ve decide to round off my series of Top Tens with attraction queues.  

No one likes to wait in lines and during peak times, wait times for certain popular WDW attractions can be lengthy.  Fastpass has helped mitigate these longs waits, but unless you plan properly, you’re bound to be stuck in a queue at some time or another.  One of the things that Disney has done an outstanding job of is making your wait time more pleasant through the use of interactive queues, music, entertainment, and distractions to look at.  In some places, I think the attraction queue overshadows the ride itself!  See if any of your favorite attraction queues makes my Top Ten list.     
My Top Tens – Attraction Queues
10 - The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Magic Kingdom)
Re-imagineered in late 2010, the new Winnie the Pooh queue integrates the former “Thoughtful Spot” into the queue, complete with interactive features perfect for the little ones in your family.  
9 - Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin (Magic Kingdom)
Awash in Buzz Lightyear’s signature colors of chartreuse, white, and blue, this queue moves quickly thanks to it's quick loading Omnimover track.  Near the front of the attraction, you’ll come across a larger-than-life Buzz.  However, since Buzz Lightyear is really a toy, the attraction is scaled to give the illusion that YOU have been reduced to the size of an action figure.  Along the walls of the queue, you find telling details such as a giant exposed Philips screw heads and an explanation of the ride resembling a toy’s instruction sheet, only oversized.  An Audio-Animatronic Buzz Lightyear figure and giant View-master provide explanation of the "mission” - to destroy Zurg's secret weapon with your blasters. 

8 - Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom)
Space Mountain has always been a notoriously slow loading ride and it’s queue lends to the inability to see how close you are to the front.  Since it's recent refurbishment, long gone are the retro-faux 3D galaxies and star displays that once lined the long white hallway.  Now the hallway just past the first third of the queue is lined with a series of large screens. Along the side railings are sets of buttons that control short interactive games that appear periodically on the screens.  A nice way to spruce up a previously dull space and make that long wait time seem to go a little faster.  
7 - Star Tours (Hollywood Studios)
If you are a Star Wars fan, it’s not hard to be impressed walking under the gigantic legs of an All Terrain Armored Transport, otherwise known as an Imperial “AT-AT”, and into the starport of Star Tours .  Inside you’ll find an audio-animatronic CP3O and R2D2 alongside a full size replica of your Starspeeder 1000.  As you enter the next room of the spaceport, you pass through Droid Customs and see crates of droids awaiting processing.  In this area, you also see what appears to be an opaque window onto a pedestrian corridor showing silhouettes of other "passengers" from the Star Wars universe as they hurry to their own flights.  I’m sure you’ll recognize a few!  In the security area, a bot called G2-9T scans luggage and interacts with the guests. Higher up in the queue, G2-4T scans humans, and you'll be able to see a thermal-scan version of yourself on screen.
6 - Toy Story Mania (Hollywood Studios)
Much like Buzz Lightyear Space Range Spin, YOU, the guest, are shrunk down to the size of a toy as you enter the queue.  Not much taller than a playing card or a crayon, you are magically transported into Andy’s room.  The queue is loaded with an amazing assortment of nostalgic toys.  Many adult guests will recognize toys from their youth – Candyland, Battleship, Chutes & Ladders, and Scrabble.  The details are fabulous here, so take some time.  Notice how the larger-than-life crayons looks like the ends have been used.  

An interactive audio-animatronic Mr. Potato Head from the Toy Story movies serves as a "Carnival Barker" over the queue.  He interacts with guests, cracking jokes and occasionally having a body part pop loose.

5 - Expedition Everest (Animal Kingdom)
In this attraction, you are immersed into the role of an explorer trekking to the fictional Nepalese village of Serka Zong.  The surrounding area is richly themed with bright prayer flags, indigenous plants, weathered buildings, and other artifacts found around the true Mount Everest area. Shops hawk climbing gear and other supplies, and the bustling air of adventure and anticipation in the village is punctuated by subtle and outright ominous warnings about a mysterious creature you may encounter, the Yeti. 
The queue line meanders through the booking and permit offices of the Himalayan Escapes tour company, a pagoda-style shrine brimming with yeti totems, a general store, and the Yeti Museum.  A makeshift exhibit in a converted tea warehouse, the museum offers evidence of the importance that the yeti plays in art and culture as well as the reverence and fear that he inspires. The displays also present information that appear to corroborate the existence of the mythical beast. 
Even if you aren’t a roller-coaster fan, this queue is amazing in it’s detail and storyline.  
4 - Jungle Cruise (Magic Kingdom)
The Jungle Cruise has a deceptively long queue that snakes back and forth through the last outpost of the Jungle Cruise offices.  And it’s not so much the theme of the queue that makes my top ten list, it’s the subtle details, the play on words, and sight gags that make this queue stand out.  All the signs, posters, and props that are worthy of your attention.
For example, there's a chalkboard with a list of missing boats and persons, with names like "Ilene Dover" and "Anne Fellen
Also listen to the overhead chatter of the Cast Members to help while the wait time away. The really bad jokes they tell give you an idea of what you're in for on the cruise itself!
At the exit of the Jungle Cruise Attraction you will see a large chalk board with a list of "Missing Persons" and "Missing Boats."  If you read the list you will find some interesting names like: Al Belate, B.N. Eaton, Emma Boylen, C.M. Cooken, Ilene Dover, Ann Fellen, Seoum Yett, Albert Knot, & Betty Dont.
3 - Haunted Mansion (Magic Kingdom)
In recent times, the Haunted Mansion queue line has undergone a massive re-design making your wait experience more interactive, but even before the change, the Haunted Mansion queue has always been one of my favorites.  Once you round the bend in the queue, you will notice that you no longer can see into Liberty Square, or hear the music from the Square.  Instead, it’s eerily quiet except for the occasional howl of a dog.  At this point, you are now on Master Gracey’s property seemingly on the outskirts of town.  Look around and take in the imposing architecture of the Hudson Gothic style mansion modeled after the "The Harry Packer Mansion" in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.
Notice the black front door wreath.  During the period of time represented by the house, black wreaths hung on doors whenever serious illness or death occurred with the house, warning guests to enter at own risk.  Also, notice that the flower planters along the front lawn are actually cremation urns.  A sure sign of what awaits you inside!  
As you make your way up a winding path, and through the wrought-iron gates, you’ll pass a small graveyard with an assortment of tombstones engraved with funny epitaphs. The names featured on the tombstones are those of some of the attraction's original designers and developers:
• Rest in peace, brother Huet. We all know you didn't do it.
• R.I.P., good friend Gordon. Now you've crossed the river Jordan.
• Master Gracey laid to rest. No mourning, please, at his request. Farewell.
• At peaceful rest, he's brother Claude. Planted here beneath this sod.
• Here lies good ol' Fred. A great big rock fell on his head.
• Here rests Wathel R. Bender. He rode to glory on a fender.
• Dear departed brother Dave, He chased a bear into a cave.
• Here lies a man named Martin. The lights went out on this old Spartan.
Guests aren’t required to go through the new section of queue, but there are several new elements in this area and it’s worth taking a look to see what Disney Imagineers dreamed up to enhance the guests experience.  I placed a few pictures here, but it’s best left to be experienced in person.  

Near the front door of the mansion is perhaps my most favorite part of this queue.  On the left is a mysterious tombstone for the infamous Madame Leota. Watch carefully and you’ll notice Madame Leota’s head moves slightly, and her eyes open for a little bit.  The movement is very subtle and, definitely, creepy.  Unless you watch it carefully, you might miss it which makes the effect all the more interesting.  I like watching other guests experience it for the first time.  I know they are thinking “did I really see the eyes open?"  The tombstone inscription is a sly reference to the character of Madame Leota, a disembodied fortune teller inside a misty crystal ball that haunts the attraction. It reads:
Dear Sweet Leota
Beloved by All
In Regions Beyond Now
But Having a Ball
2 - Kali River Rapids (Animal Kingdom)
While I personally don’t like this attraction (I don’t like being wet in street clothes!), I believe this has one of the most overlooked queues in Walt Disney World.  The details and landscaping are incredibly well-themed.  The queue winds through several buildings, passing by ancient, decaying statues, knee-high prayer shrines similar to those found in Nepal, overgrown ruins and lush landscapes. Outside the ancient temple there are many pairs of sandals lined up, reflecting the Asian custom of removing shoes before entering places of worship.  Wandering through the painted shrine, you’ll encounter 15-foot tall feline-like statues. Looking up, you’ll find hand-painted murals on the ceiling, each of which tells a legend of Bangkok.  No detail is spared in creating the Asian atmosphere.  In keeping with the ride theme against illegal logging, chainsaws can be heard in the forest near the queue. While approaching the loading pagoda, one passes through a boathouse and on a television screen the proprietor of “Kali Rapids Expeditions” explains their company's mission: to show visitors the natural beauty of the area. She also warns of illegal loggers, and the dire ecological impact their actions have.

1 - Tower of Terror (Hollywood Studios)
Arriving at number 1 on my Top Ten list of attraction queue is Tower or Terror in Hollywood Studios.
The story of the hotel, adapted from elements of the Twilight Zone television series, includes the hotel being struck by lightning on October 31, 1939, mysteriously transporting an elevator car full of passengers to the Twilight Zone and causing an entire wing of the building to disappear.  Disney Imagineers create an atmosphere that transports the guest from the hustle and bustle of Sunset Boulevard to the eerily abandoned Hollywood Tower Hotel in the Hollywood Hills.
Guests enter the Hollywood Tower Hotel though the main entrance gate. The outdoor queue winds through the overgrown gardens of the hotel.  The outdoor queue takes you through gardens of broken stoneware and decaying plants.  An empty fountain and cracked fountain awaits you at the entrance to the hotel. In the background you're listening to haunting melodies from the past by Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Vera Lynn, and other notables from that era.  Once inside the lobby, it is dark and covered in cobwebs and dust. There is a yellowing copy of the Los Angeles Examiner dated October 31, 1939, a table set with tea and stale pastries, several suitcases, and a cobwebbed owl sculpture surrounded by a circle of dead flowers that appears to be the centerpiece of the room.
Behind the front desk is the broken elevator, a sign still reads "Out of Order". Everything in the hotel has apparently been left undisturbed ever since it closed decades ago. Guests are informed that their rooms are not quite ready yet. For the time being, guests are asked to simply enjoy themselves in the hotel's library. The library is full of not only books, but exotic antiques, a television, and plenty of Twilight Zone memorabilia. Through the window, guests observe that there is a thunderstorm going on outside.  At this point, the pre-show starts with a lightning strike and the television coming on, apparently of its own accord.  The opening sequence of The Twilight Zone plays, followed by a supposedly "lost" episode. 
The attention to detail throughout the queue is amazing here. You’ll feel as if you’ve entered into a hotel that was long since abandoned.  It’s quite an eerie atmosphere.

Monday, December 2, 2013

My Top Tens - water features

Moving on to water features.  Water is a consistent feature throughout the Walt Disney World Resort.  From Bay Lake to the falls at the Norway pavilion, water is an ever present design feature.  Water can be used to enhance the imagination, integrate the design of the landscaping, power an attraction, or mask outside noise.  Imagineers use water as an architectural element to break up the landscape, separate lands, and divide resorts.  The natural beauty of water is evident everywhere.

Some of my favorite water features include:

10 - The Seven Seas Lagoon.  The Seven Seas Lagoon is the man-made lake in front of the Magic Kingdom. The lake reaches a depth of 14 feet.  You can't get to the Magic Kingdom without crossing the Seven Seas Lagoon in some fashion, be it boat, bus, ferry, or monorail.  Technically,  the buses cross under the Lagoon; and you can walk from the Contemporary Resort to the Magic Kingdom, but I doubt you can ignore the presence of the Lagoon.  The Lagoon provides virtual transition from "real world" to Magic Kingdom.  The Lagoon also acts as a visual stage foreshadowing lands you'll find in the Magic Kingdom:  Polynesian Resort reflects Adventureland, Contemporary resort reflect the futuristic Tomorrowland, The Grand Floridian is reminiscent to the Victorian era you'll find on Main Street USA, and although not on the Seven Seas Lagoon but in the adjacent Bay Lake, you can find Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge which are reflections on Frontierland.
Seven Seas Lagoon as it appeared in concept art prior to 1971
9 - Polynesian Lobby.  In the center of the the Polynesian's Great Ceremonial House is a lovely 2 story garden filled with tropical plants and a waterfall.  The first thing you notice when you walk in to the lobby of the resort is the soothing sound of that running water.   It's relaxing environment and a wonderful place to rest and people watch after a long day in the parks.

8 - Jungle Cruise River/Back-side of water.  The Jungle Cruise river is fed by the same waterway as what's around the moat; however, along the Jungle Cruise line, it's dyed using an organic and biodegradable dye to hide the shallow bottom and boat tracks.  I especially enjoy the "backside of water".   Who knew it looked the same as the front side?!?

7 - The crashing waves outside the Living Seas.  Very cool effect.  Once you've seen it, you'll understand.  

6 - Fire Rock Geyser, Wilderness Lodge.  Fire Rock Geyser, fashioned after Yellowstone National Park's Old Faithful, sits between the Pool and the beach shoreline at the Wilderness Lodge.  Every hour, from 7am to 10pm, the Geyser erupts, shooting plumes of water 120 feet into the air.   The surrounding hot springs even appear steaming.  The effect is created using sprays of mist.  The water is the same temperature as the ambient air.  When ducks decide to swim in the "hot" springs, the illusion is broken. 

5 - Waterfalls of the Canadian pavilion in EPCOT.  Although you can't see it from the front of the Canadian pavilion, walk through the gardens toward the back and you will find a 30 foot rushing waterfall.    The waterfall and associated mountain represent the Rocky Mountains.  It can be viewed from an upper level courtyard beyond the Hotel du Canada, or up close by following the lower path through the Victoria Gardens, and through a narrow canyon.  A true hidden gem of EPCOT. 
Water falls in the Canadian Pavilion
4 - Voyage of the Little Mermaid (Hollywood Studio) under the sea effect.  Using a spray of water from above, coupled with fog effects, and the laser lights give the impression that you're truly below the waves.

3 - Fountain of Nations.  Located on the plaza behind Spaceship Earth in EPCOT, the Fountain of Nations.   Also called Innoventions Fountain, this found is the largest on Disney property.  Set to music, the fountains appear to "dance", shooting water up to 150 feet in the air.  At night the fountains are lit with colored lights given the "dance" a more dramatic effect.  

2 - Fantasmic projection screens.  The night time spectacular, Fantasmic, at Hollywood Studios uses dramatic lighting, pyrotechnics, music, and water to create Mickey's dream.  The giant water-mist screens that are used to project images of Disney characters is dramatic and amazing to behold.  

1 - Upside-down waterfall outside the Imagination pavilion.  Upside down water fall!  What else is there to say?!?  Just outside the Imagination Pavilion at Epcot, you'll find a variety of water features, the most whimsical being the "upside-down waterfall".  Stretching up to an amazing 80 feet, water moves up from the base to the top of the falls.  Only in the world of Imagination does this seem possible.  
Upside Down Water Fall

Monday, November 25, 2013

My Top Tens - special effects

Continuing with my "Top Tens" series.  Next up, special effects at Walt Disney World.  Disney uses special effects on its attractions to enhance the guests experience and make you feel like you are part of the attraction itself.  This immersion into the storyline is something that Disney is extremely good at.  The special effects below range from the simple to the complex, but each creates a unique experience that always leaves me saying "Wow!", even if I know how they do it.

10 - Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom) Space Warp.  A simple effect of using lights and sound to feel like you are being accelerated at warp speed into deep space.

9 - Space Ship Earth (Epcot) Infinite Stars.  Towards the end of the attraction, you reach a show scene which is pitch black except for the twinkle of an infinite number of starts.  The illusion of endless stars is created with mirrors and pinpoints of lights.

8 - Voyage of the Little Mermaid (Hollywood Studio) under the sea effect.  Using a spray of water from above, coupled with fog effects, and the laser lights give the impression that you're truly below the waves.

7 - Pirates of the Caribbean (Magic Kingdom) Davy Jones image in the waterfall.  Davy Jones invites guests to proceed if "they be brave or fool enough to face a pirate's curse". The riders pass beneath the waterfall and emerge into the next scene seemingly dry.  The waterfall is really a curtain of mist projected with Jone's image.

6 - Honey, I Shrunk the Audience (Epcot), Now Captain EO, moving theater.  In both attractions, the theater feels like it's being moved.  The effect is so much better in Honey, I Shrunk the Audience when Dr. Solinsky's son picks up the box the audience, after being shrunk, is in.  The slight movements in the floor really give the guest the perception that the theater is being picked up by a child.  In EO, the effect is used for the crash landing of the ship and fighting scenes.

5 - Tower of Terror (Hollywood Studios) The First Ascent Scene - After the first ascent of the elevator car, the doors open to reveal a long, dimly-lit hotel corridor with a single window at the opposite end. A violent thunderstorm is raging and lightning flashes outside the window. Ghostly images of the five doomed guests from 1939 appear for a moment, then vanish in a burst of electricity. (These ghostly images, while thought to be holograms, are actually a classic example of a Pepper's ghost effect. Other Pepper's ghost effects at the Walt Disney World Resort include ones inside the Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom). The guests disappear in a burst of lightning. The corridor then fades away, but the window remains and morphs into a creepier black-and-white version and shatters in the now star-filled hallway, like in the opening segment of each episode.

4 - Turtle Talk with Crush (Epcot) Interactive Crush - The show is a cutting-edge blend of sophisticated computer graphic techniques, image projection, and live, interactive, quick-witted improvisation.  The "Window to the Pacific" is in reality a large rear-projection screen portraying an animated undersea environment. The image of Crush is a digital puppet controlled by a backstage actor/puppeteer whose performance is translated in real time into 3D computer animation. Crush's movements and voice-activated lip synch are rendered realtime and are projected at 60 frames per second, so that the turtle's mouth moves in synchronization with the actor's words.  Digital puppetry techniques allow the puppeteer's movements to control the body motions of the projected turtle, enabling Crush to maneuver about naturalistically with real-time human control. This technology enables every show to be different than the one before as Crush responds uniquely to each individual audience.  Thanks to a system of hidden cameras, the invisible actor is able to see the audience, and respond particular questioners, as well as their location in the theatre.  But I like the alternate theory, that you are really talking with Crush.

3 - Journey into Imagination (Epcot) Disappearing Butterfly.  As your omnimover passes through the sight lab, you will see a caged butterfly that disappears before your eyes.  Magic?  No, there is a simple answer.  There's only half a butterfly held right up against a mirror. As you approach you are looking at it and the mirror, giving you a whole butterfly. As you pass by you are looking at the other side of the mirror which is reflecting the empty cage.

2 - The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Magic Kingdom) floating Pooh.   The floating Pooh is seen after the Tigger bounce scene where Tigger tells an impressionable Pooh about Heffalumps and Woozles.  Once in Pooh's house, Pooh falls asleep, and magically floats up into the sky, as the room blackens (Pooh's floating is achieved with a Pepper's Ghost illusion).

1 - The Haunted Mansion (Magic Kingdom) Ghostly Ballroom Scene - It has long been rumored that the ballroom scene, which features multiple ghosts merrily carousing, was created with holograms. This is not the case. In fact, the Ballroom uses a visual trick developed in the 1860s to show realistic ghosts in theatrical productions called Pepper's Ghost.  In the Pepper's Ghost illusion, there are two identical rooms separated by clear glass. One is kept dark and is not visible to the audience, but it contains the item which is to appear in a ghostly manner in the visible room. When it is illuminated, the item will be reflected in the glass and will "appear" in the visible room. The audience sees only the reflection, which can interact with whatever is in the visible room.

Friday, November 22, 2013

My Top Tens - background music

I've been busy lately and light on the blog topics, so I thought I would pull out a series that I've been thinking on for a while.  It's call "My Top Tens" of Disney World.  I'm still thinking of topics, but these are going to be more than favorite resort or attractions.  It's light and it's fun.  I have always enjoyed reading other's "favorites" lists and got my inspiration from WDW Radio's top ten that Lou Mongello does on his podcasts occasionally.  They are always fun to listen to.  So, without further explanation because there's really not much to explain, here's the start of my top tens
My Top Tens - Background Music

disclaimer:  I exclude ride-thru, parade, and show music from this category because I can.  :)  Actually, what I'm focusing on is the background music that you don't pay attention to but adds to the environment or show.  You'll see what I mean when we get started.

10 - Fort Wilderness area music.  This is the country/folk stuff they play around the trading posts and near the Hoop Dee Doo Review.  Reminds me of growing up and spending summers at the Fort.

9 - Magic Kingdom Entrance music.  Really, who does love this?  It's like the opening track for a lovely show.

8 - EPCOT Germany Pavillion.  Tubas, accordians, oh my!  Makes me want to grab some lederhosen and dance!

7 - Magic Kingdom Liberty Square.   I bet you never thought about the background music played here?   Much of the music heard in this area reflects music from the colonial times which was less American music and more ballads and folk songs brought from England and other parts of Europe adapted to the American culture with instruments of the time including violins, fifes, recorders, drums and and flutes.  True to Disney form, the music in this area was recorded using only the instruments available during the colonial period.

6 - Polynesian Resort.  This music is just fun.  I enjoy an evening stroll through the Polynesian resort and hearing the music throughout the resort.  The speakers are hidden in nondescript boxes that blend into the bushes and landscaping or disguised as "rocks".

5 - EPCOT Innoventions Plaza.  Usually it's so loud with crowds that you don't notice this music too much, but it's there if you stop and listen.  It's unique and reflects some of the other attraction music in the park.  It's almost like it "glues" together the feel of the entire park.  Hard to explain what I mean.

4 - Hollywood Studio Sunset Boulevard.  It's 1940 and I just want to dance with my sweetheart all night long before he goes off to war.  It's an era dominated by smooth jazz and swing music.  Walking down Sunset Blvd, you could almost imagine yourself in Los Angeles in the 1940s.  I almost expect to see Clark Gable or Ava Gardner.

3 - Hollywood Studio Entrance Music.  What would Hollywood Studio's be like with movie sound tracks? As you walk into the park, past the turnstiles, you can hear music from such movies as Robin Hood, Goldfinger, Chariots of Fire, Ivanhoe, The Magnificent 7, Superman, Towering Inferno, Rocky, and more.

2 -  EPCOT - Future World Spaceship Earth Area Loop.  It's hard not to be awe of your environment standing under Spaceship Earth.  The geodesic structure is like no-other, and a person can feel so small underneath.  This music is dramatic and inspirational, just as Spaceship Earth is.

And my number one, all time favorite, background music is.....

1 - Hollywood Studios Tower of Terror.  I like the music played in the outside queue so much that I have all the songs in a playlist on my iPod and listen to them nearly everyday.  My husband swears I was born in the wrong era.  I adore the music from the 1930's and early 40's.  

Vera Lynn is my favorite songstress.  Vera who?  Oh...my....you have to google her and find out for your self!  Her voice is amazing.  Two songs of hers are featured in the ToT queue line and it just couldn't be more perfect to the atmosphere.  Below is a sampling of waht you hear while waiting in the queue line.  But it's not just the songs here that make the atmosphere.  It's how they are played; like they are off in the distance but you can't pinpoint the direction.  Very spooky, especially at night.

  We'll Meet Again - Vera Lynn 
  When the Sun Sets Down South - Nobles Singers
  Inside - Fats Waller
  Jungle Drums - Sidney Bechet Ken Burns
  There's A House - Henry Allen
  Sleepy Time Gal - Glenn Miller
  Benny Berigan - Can't Get Started 
  Mood Indigo - Duke Ellington
  Wishing (Will Make it So) - Vera Lynn 
  Uptown Blues - Jimmy Lunceford
  Remember - Red Norvo
  Dear Old Southland - Noble Sissle
  Jeep's Blues - Johnny Hodges
  Pyramid - Johnny Hodges 
  Deep Purple - Helen Forrest & Artie Shaw
  Another World - Johnny Hodges
  Alabamy Home - Duke Ellington 
  Delta Mood - Cootie Williams 

Well, I hope you have enjoyed my first set of Top Tens, as much as I've enjoyed created it.  Music is an essential part of the story line throughout the parks and Disney takes full advantage of your auditory sense to enhance your experience without you ever knowing about it.  Sit back, relax and take a listen sometimes.  I highly recommend these sources for audio tracks of the parks:  Sorcerer Radio, Mouse World Radio, and D-Cot.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Holidays in WDW

It's Christmas Time in Walt Disney World! 
What events are you looking forward to or wish you were seeing/attending

Welcome to those of you joining me from Manda’s Disney Blog and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 2nd stop on our Magical Blogorail.

This month's topic is:  What events are you looking forward to or wish you were seeing/attending this holiday season?

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 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:

1st Stop ~ Manda’s Disney Blog
2nd Stop ~ The Magical Mouse Pad <-- you are here
3rd Stop ~ The Disney Point 
4th Stop ~ The Disney Chick

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Lawnmower Tree

Lawnmower tree, Nov. 2012

On the pathway from the Pioneer Hall to the Marina at the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground can be found an unusual item that has been a fixture at the Fort since it's opening in 1971 -- The Lawnmower Tree.  Almost gone now, the lawnmower tree was a prominent fixture at the Fort in the early days, even marking it onto the original campground maps in the 70's.  So what is the lawnmower tree and how did it get there?

Fort Wilderness map, circa 1973

Lawnmower tree plaque
The lawnmower tree is the stuff of "urban legends" of Disney.  According to Disney lore, Bill Bowlegs parked his mower much too close to this tree which quickly grew to encompass Billy's mower.  Don't believe me?  It's written right there on a marker next to the tree.  :)
Too long did Billy Bowlegs
Park his reel slow mower
Alas, one warm and sunny day
Aside a real fast grower

Of course, most Disney lore is a slight stretch of the imagination based on some reality.  Long before Disney World became the theme park mecca it is today, the land was mostly orange groves, farmland, and swamps.  There were a few buildings and some abandoned houses surrounding Bay Lake when the property was bought up by Disney's myriad of shell companies.  Most likely, a farmer leaned an old-fashioned push lawnmower against this tree and left it many years prior.  Why it survived the construction and became a staple of the Fort is classic Disney style.  The designers integrated the tree into the history of the Fort and even crafted the poem you see above.  I often wonder if Disney himself observed the lawnmower tree on one of the early excursion trips to the area.  It is often noted that the decision to build on this particular piece of land was made while viewing Riles Island (now Discovery Island) from the air.  Walt probably did not see the tree before his untimely death, but the allure of that idea is appealing.

Unfortunately, hurricanes and bugs have gotten the best of the tree and it had to be cut down in 1997.  Only about four feet of the original pine tree is left.  You can still see the remnants of the lawnmower at the base of the tree along the quaint pathway.  I'm afraid one day it's going to completely disappear.  I can only hope that it will remain in our hearts much like our beloved River Country, Discovery Island, the Fort Wilderness Railroad, the trams, and the peacocks.
Picture of the lawnmower tree from
early Fort Wilderness guide book

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Happy Halloween, Foolish Mortals!

Just in time for Halloween.  Here are some creepy Disney facts you may not know!

Imagineer’s built Tower of Terror’s landscape to resemble Elysian & Griffith Parks in Los Angeles.

The Haunted Mansion’s attic is filled with more than 200 objects, including musical instruments and nautical artifacts.

The storyline of Tower of Terror takes place on Halloween night.
Early names for Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion included Old Gore Mansion and Bloodmere Manor. 
The organ in Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion is Captain Nemo’s pipe organ from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. 
At Disneyland Paris, the Haunted Mansion is call Phantom Manor and, according to the storyline, was occupied by the Ravenwood family.
The names of the Hitchhiking Ghosts are, from left to right, Phineas Queeg, Ezra Dobbins, and Gordon Gracey  
    The hearse at the Haunted Mansion in the Magic Kingdom was used in the 1965 John Wayne film “The Sons of Katie Elder”.

    Dear Sweet Leota
    Beloved by All
    In Regions Beyond Now
    But Having a Ball