Saturday, February 9, 2008

Where In The World - "The Composite Challenge"

If you remember, the composite originated during the planning of Doc's "Fifty In Disney" birthday celebration. These 12 pieces of photographs was one of the ways I shared my excitement for the visit with my family and friends.

It has been a few weeks since I placed the last Where In The World on The Disney Obsession. And there a few who took up the gauntlet of what I now look upon as The Composite Challenge.

Here is what we know right now.

1. Innoventions Plaza Awnings (Ryan, aka Main Street Gazette)
2. Neon Pluto on Hollywood Blvd. (1983horizons1, aka Progressland)
3. Zip A Dee Lady in Splash Mountain (Ryan)
4. Prayer flags in Asia, specifically on the Maharajah Jungle Trek (Ryan)
8. Tomatoes in Mickey's Garden (Ryan)
9. Outpost in Epcot World Showcase (Ryan)
11. Dinosaur across from Chester and Hester's (1983)
12. Astro Orbitor (1983)

So, we still need to determine what in the world are numbers 5, 6, 7, and 10. Well, here are few clues. Numbers 5, 6, and 7 are in a park, the same park in fact. Number 11, well, it is not in a park, but you can do a great deal of shopping at the shops in this area. I do anyway.

Alright, there you are. Take another stab at it!

Disney World After Dark: United Kingdom

Passing by the International Gateway we descend the gentle hill into the United Kingdom; the tenth country on our around the world showcase tour. Perhaps you are bit thirsty, or you simply need something to refresh your palette and replace the lingering taste of the Merlot you enjoyed in France. At the foot of hill you see the beckoning sign of the Rose & Crown Pub and you decide to take a pint. But, be sure to behave yourself. The motto of the Rose & Crown is Otium cum Dignitate, Latin for Leisure with Dignity.

“The pavilion is a cornucopia of re-created British architecture. High Street features Elizabethan, Tudor and Victorian buildings. A replica of Henry VIII’s Hampton Court Palace, complete with cartouche, houses a toy store. Elegant Belgrave Square row houses, formal gardens, a hedge maze, Hyde Park, Yorkshire and Regency buildings, even a Shakespearean cottage – all are part of the architectural tour. The mélange of styles is made all the more fascinating by the ease with which the Imagineers have blended the diverse styles into a romantic fantasy of the United Kingdom.”

From Since the World Began, by Jeff Kurtti, page 114

The U.K. pavilion is like a home away from home for me. Mrs. Doc and I lived in England during the last few years on the 20th Century. We lived in the county of Warwickshire, also known as Shakespeare Country. Our weekends included shopping at the village market day and walks along portions of the green paths where, yes, we would occasionally happen upon a canal-side pub and stop in for a pint. As often as possible we would take short holidays to places like Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford, and the West Country. And we would find ourselves in London a regular basis. So when we look at the various architectural styles presented in the Disney version, we can do so with a certain amount of familiarity and nostalgia too.

On one particularly memorable visit during the Millennium Celebration, the Rose & Crown carried my favorite ale, Caffrey’s Irish Ale. Perhaps not the best ale in the Bass family of beers, but it is my favorite. It was once rumored that you could fly from one island to another in the Outer Hebrides in less time than it takes for the head to form on a pint of Caffrey’s. On the wall behind the bar at O’Neill’s on New Row in London was a plaque that showed the various stages in the beer’s head formation. But, I digress. Suffice to say I enjoyed a “few” pints on that visit. Also, suffice to say, I was disappointed when I returned in 2001 and found that Caffrey’s had been pulled from the R&C bill of fare. Since then I have had to suffer a Boddington’s, the Pride of Manchester.

So next time you find yourself in the United Kingdom, drop by the Rose & Crown, order your favorite beverage and raise a glass to absent bloggers, er, friends.


Disney World After Dark: France - Part Deux

During my last “research” visit to Walt Disney World I focused primarily on photography. Specifically I wanted to come away with nighttime photographs and detailed photographs that I would reference for my pen and ink drawings. I am also toying with an idea for book so I was on the lookout for things related to that possibility too.

I had just completed a wonderful meal in Les Chefs de France and was walking around looking for interesting shots. There was a beautiful moon overhead which prompted me to look up. That is when I noticed a little detail of Imagineering. On the level above Les Vins de France as you enter Le Petit Rue is a window. The window is draped with a light muslin material and inside you see the faint flicker of a light. For me it conjures images Puccini’s La Bohème. It was not hard for me to imagine Rodolfo and Mimi happily sharing a meager meal in this garret.

Sadly, my photograph does not totally capture the atmosphere of the scene. But for me, it takes me to a time shortly after my first visit to Paris. I came home desirous of quick return and a bohemian lifestyle. Oh, the dreams of our romantic youth.

Vive le Imagineers!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Disney World After Dark: France

We now come to perhaps my favorite country on the World Showcase – France.

“Paris is clearly the key influence for the France pavilion. The mansard roofs, casement windows, and chimney stacks are très parisien, recalling the designs of city planner Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann. The looming ironwork of the Eiffel Tower evokes the City of Light. A sidewalk café, the rich smell of a boulangerie, a fine bistro, a park inspired by Georges Seurat’s painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, even an arcade designed after Hector Guimard’s Art Nouveau entry arch for the Métro, add to the evocation of romance, charm, and elegance.”

from Since the World Began, Jeff Kurtti, page 113

There was a time when I could say that I had been to Paris more than I had been to Walt Disney World. Like London, it became a city that I visited often enough to have those things that must be done on every trip; a certain bookstore just down from a certain bistro, a small café near Opera, and so on. I always considered Paris to be the most beautiful filthy city on earth.

Disney’s representation of France captures some of the flavor of the country. True, it is not like being there, and it shouldn’t be. It is postcard version of the real thing. But it is a postcard I can appreciate when I am unable to appreciate the real thing.

The highlight of the pavilion is the film, Impressions de France. My spirit soars listening to the score from this wonderful experience. It is a highlight of my day in Epcot when I hear the finale of Camille Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3 in C Minor; the “Organ Symphony.” The other composers and the additional scoring by Buddy Baker are also inspiring.

I was moved when I walked into this World Showcase pavilion in 1989 and when I first saw the film. This portrayal of France continues to move me today.

Bienvenue à la France!