Monday, January 31, 2011

Disney World After Dark: Serka Zong

Leaving Serka Zong

Back in December 2008 I had the chance to visit Walt Disney World and a special moment for this trip was the chance to take some photographs in Disney's Animal Kingdom at night. If you have read The Disney Obsession for a while you know I love night photography. I still have much to learn, but I do enjoy trying to capture good nighttime images. The evening of December 10, 2008 gave me a few images.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Something On A Sunday

The Midway 08.26.09

A Sign Its Saturday... a day late

Whenever someone asks me about planning a trip to Walt Disney World, about what they should see, what they should do, I will always tell them to look at all the attractions that are available in each park, then make a list of the ones you must do. This is especially true for the first time visitors as the parks taken as a whole can be quite overwhelming. But it can also be true for people who are repeat visitors. Before every trip I will think about each park and make my list of the attractions I must visit and the things I must do. I do that, just like I would pack for a trip.

When I consider Disney's Animal Kingdom, a walk through the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail usually finds it's way onto the list. Walking through the forest is peaceful. It is educational. Walking through the forest is nostalgic. It is a way that I can recall memories of spending a day walking through a forest with friends in Central Uganda.
Let me encourage you to add the Pangani Forest to your short list for Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


I have been absent for a few days. Sorry. I will do my very best to get back into my regular routine soon; hopefully tomorrow. And who knows, maybe there will be some new content.

More on that a bit later.

I have made it a focus of this year, and all my years yet to come, to strive for happiness. Not that I am not happy, but I can be happier and I can work to sustain happiness for longer periods of time. Happiness is our right, you know, "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." But it is also a choice. We have to choose to be happy. Then we have to choose to work towards being happy. And this requires choices. It may mean changes in lifestyles or habits. But the changes are worth it. As I have come to realize, and perhaps have written before, I have fewer and fewer "one of these days left in me", so perhaps I had better make the choices that lead to more happiness now!

But right now I just wanted to share a quote I reread this morning. It is comes from January 2011 issue of Real Simple magazine (I really like this magazine). The quote is:

"Happiness comes in small moments while you're pursuing the big stuff. After a while, the small moments become the point."
~ Marcia Menter

On this chilly Saturday morning, I wish for you and myself, many small moments.

Monday, January 17, 2011

And The Survey Says... Epcot

This past week we asked, "Which park do you traditionally like to spend your last evening in?" Through the course of the week fifteen people (including yours truly) participated in the poll and the survey says...
Epcot. But not by a large margin. The actual voting gave Epcot 8 votes (53%) to the Magic Kingdom's 7 votes (46%). The other parks, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom received no votes in this weeks match up.

My vote was for Epcot. When I fly to Orlando, which I do for most of my visits, I will usually my return flight as the last possible flight on my departure day. This means I can get some time in a park before the Disney Magical Express delivers me safely back to MCO. But, it also means the night before my departure day is my last night in the parks. And for that, I prefer Epcot! I must experience IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth one last time and have the opportunity to walk (very) slowly around the World Showcase before making my way to the entrance. I have to stop just before going through the turnstiles, with the Cast Members waving good-bye with their Mickey hands. I'll stop and turn to look at Spaceship Earth. I'll stand there for a few minutes soaking it all in one more time. Then quietly say, "I'll be back soon."

That soon may be a few weeks, a few months, or longer, but it is always as soon as I can manage it. It is a departure tradition that my wife indulges me in. Perhaps you have a departure tradition? Please feel free to share!

But that was my vote and my reason. Now let's consider a new topic for the week. Which is your favorite park to visit after the sun goes down? Looking forward to seeing how this turns out and to reading your comments about your favorite nighttime park.

Something On A Sunday - The Monday Edition

I spent most of my day yesterday with my daughter and son-in-law, enjoying a nice lunch, great conversation, and a good many laughs along the way. Then, my wife and I had three of our five grandchildren over to spend the night. The girls were watching The Pacifier in one room and I thought it was time for the grandson to watch TRON; especially since I am taking him to see TRON: Legacy this afternoon.

It is things like this that take good days and make them into great days!

It is also the reason why there was no Something On A Sunday posted yesterday. So, in my attempt to keep 'with the program', here is yesterday's Something On A Sunday.
Manitou Springs, Colorado 02.05.10

I could live there. I realize as often as I make a statement like 'I could live there' or 'If I lived in Central Florida...', that is could lead someone to think that I am not content where I am. But I am! I love where I am, yet, I have always had a sense of wanderlust about me.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Sign Its Saturday

Somewhere in Disney's Animal Kingdom 10.25.09

... and just for the fun of it, and since no one has proffered a guess at the current Where In Then World, can you tell where in Disney's Animal Kingdom you would find this sign?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Where In The World

You may recall that back on December 6th (wow, over a month ago - I have been busy) I posted an abstract rendering in orange and yellow with the name George in the upper right hand corner. It was a sign of things to come as it was George Taylor of Imaginerding that correctly identified the photograph as having been taken while in the queue at Living With the Land attraction in the Land Pavilion. He actually said, Listen to the Land, but I'll give it to him since that is song that accompanied the attraction. I do have to give April Baker of Scrapping the Magic an honorable mention, being fast on George's heels with Living With the Land.

You're singing now aren't you?

"Just make believe, you're a tiny little seed,
a tiny little seed that's reaching up to meet your need.
With the right amount of faith, and the right amount of earth,
you'll grow to see the sunshine on your day of birth.

"Let's listen to the land we all love,
nature's plan will shine above,
listen to the land, listen to the land."

Now for a new challenge. Where in the World would you find this?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Something for the New Year

As I look back over 2010, I can look at those seven ideas that I sat out as goals and feel good about some and not so good about others. I did manage to post to this blog a good deal more than I have in recent years. In fact, with 199 blogs entries this year, I exceeded my total number of posts for ’07, ’08 and ’09 combined. True, as I said at the start of this year, it wasn’t all Disney all the time, and many of them were photographs with little or no commentary. Still, it is a goal that I made and met.

I have made some progress on the Everyman’s Library “Essential 100”. Not as much I would have liked, but some. I found myself pausing from time to time to read about Peter and the Starcatchers or of Finn and the other Kingdom Keepers. I also bowered a book from a friend entitled Waking Walt. Interesting read. And there have been other Disney related books here and there. But, the “Essential 100” is a multi-year project and I am working through it. Currently I am involved in A Tale of Two Cities.

Let’s see, the “not so good about others”. I didn’t make it to the Gulf Coast and I didn’t lose 28 pounds. We won’t go into that subject other than to say I am working on it again. Though I made multiple trips to Walt Disney World, I was unable to meet up with my friend Ryan on any of them. But we were able to meet for dinner in Waynesville, North Carolina one evening last year. It was nice for Mrs. Doc and myself to share a nice meal with Ryan and his wife. I will say that I had a great few days in the parks with my good friends from England, Dave and Susan Steer and their two sons Ben and Jake.

Photography? I am still working at it, and will continue to do so. In fact, I hope to work at it with more fervor this year than last.

And as for the Number 1 resolution for 2010, well, it is the same this year. I feel I am a good husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, uncle, in-law, and friend. But, we can all do better in all our relationships and that is my intent.

But let’s look at this year. The object, the goal, for this year is downsizing and simplifying. I have been having thoughts along this line for a good part of this past fall, but as 2010 drew to a close I became aware of just how complex my life had become, how cluttered it was. Not just the physical clutter of having many years of accumulating around me, but mental clutter – the clutter of having too much going on. I found myself running so that I was unable to do the things I enjoy doing most, or working towards creative goals and projects that I sat for myself. Example: I love to draw, but I never have the time and could never seem to make the time.

So, as I move forward in 2011, simplicity is key. I hope that when this year closes and we visit this theme again in 2012, that I can tell you that life is slower and more creatively fulfilling. I’ll keep reading. I will continue to visit Walt Disney World. And yes, I’ll keep blogging. Hopefully I’ll post an article that will be of some interest to you and, I hope that from time to time a really nice photograph will catch your eye.

Here’s to 2011! I hope your year provides you with many fulfilled dreams!

And The Survey Says... Magic Kingdom

As I mentioned last week, there are times when you put out a poll and feel, with a good deal of confidence, it will turn out a certain way. This past weeks poll was one of those occasions. We asked, "Which park do you traditionally visit first?" And the survey says... Magic Kingdom!
This is the park entrance that 68% of you wish to see first; probably on a bright day filled with sunshine, and not overcast as when this photo was taken. Of the 16 people participating in the poll, 11 (68%) like to visit the Magic Kingdom first. Five people, or 31%, would rather walk through the turnstiles at Epcot first. And it seems that Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom are parks that can wait until later in the holiday.

Magic Kingdom was my choice. Although I count Epcot, and particularly the World Showcase, as my favorite park in Walt Disney World, I always wish to visit Magic Kingdom first. There is no single event that says "Welcome Home" quite as well as walking into the Magic Kingdom and down Main Street U.S.A.! Once I have done that, then the holiday can begin. With the few people who commented on their choice, it is much the same. There is that certain something about Main Street U.S.A. that exudes the sense of coming home. Mrs. Doc will be flying down to the World on 02.25 for a few days in the parks prior to the cruise on the new Disney Dream. We plan to meet friends for dinner at LeCellier that evening, but be assured, we will not set foot in Epcot until after we've experienced the magic of walking down that wonderful street and exploring the lands of the Magic Kingdom.

For this weeks poll let's look in the opposite direction. Instead of "which park you traditionally visit first", let's look at "Which park do you traditionally like to spend your last evening in?" Again, this may be predictable, but then, maybe not. I know my answer could very well change. And as always, if you'd like, feel free to leave a comment to let us know why you voted the way you did.

See you next Sunday.

Something On A Sunday

Union Station Hotel 02.20.10

Some years ago this was a working railway station. The Union Station was opened in 1900 and provides an example of late Victorian Romanesque Revival architecture. It once provided a stop for the Amtrak Floridian train service. My father and I once took a trip aboard the Floridian in 1970; one of my few trips on an overnight train and still a fond memory. When Amtrak ceased services in 1979, the station was shuttered, providing services only to a growing number of pigeons. Union Station was restored and opened as a hotel in 1986.

It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Note from Mrs. Doc - The Disney Dream

My wife enjoys writing. From time to time she will add things to a site called List My 5. This is a site where people can contribute lists of five things, such as, Top 5 this or Top 5 that. Every so often she will add a list that has something to do with Disney. I suppose in our home, you can't go too long without admitting there is a strong Disney influence in our little piece of the world.

As an ongoing feature of The Disney Obsession, I will add articles from my bride that have some connection to that influence Disney has here. To start, she recently wrote about the new Disney Cruise Line ship, the Disney Dream, and outlined five characteristics unique to the Dream.


"Disney's newest ship, the Disney Dream is scheduled to leave from Port Canaveral for its Maiden Voyage on January 26, 2011. No matter what age, Disney fan or not, you will love all the unique offerings of the Disney Dream.

This is very first water coaster at sea ever! It's not for the faint at heart though as this coaster travels 765 feet and features an exciting ride down and around 4 decks. Part of the ride slides guests over the sea with nothing below but water. As the Disney folk say, "it’s splashtactular!"

"Magical Portholes
Guests whose quarters do not include a direct ocean view will still have a "room with a view." Those staying in the Inside Staterooms will see the exact same thing as those in Oceanside Staterooms thanks to Magical Portholes. Each Inside Stateroom has a real-time view of the sea. As an added surprise for those with Magical Portholes, guests will be able to see some of Mickey's animated friends stop and wave as they swim by their porthole from time to time.

"Sky Line
Adults have 9 clubs to choose from where they can get away for an adult beverage aboard the Disney Dream. The Sky Line boasts a digital fireplace, which is the only one of its kind in Disney's cruise ships. But the most unique offering of this club is the breathtaking, ever changing backdrop to the bar. Tall "windows" (7 LCD big screens) line a wall that offer a life-like view of some of the world's most beautiful skylines in the world. It is said to appear as if one is looking down from atop a high rise.

"Enchanted Art
Virtual art pieces can be found throughout the Disney Dream ship and are referred to as Enchanted Art. Each piece suddenly comes to life whenever someone walks up to them. Some will interact with the person in front of them and others will interact with another piece of art. These amazing Enchanted art pieces can be found in various art forms. Some will be photographs, some animated posters, oil paintings or paper models.

"It's Biggest Yet!
The Disney Dream is the largest of Disney's current cruise ships. She is 47,000 tons larger, 2 decks taller, 151 feet longer, and its beam is 15 ft wider than the other two Disney ships. The Disney Dream can hold 4,000 passengers and has 555 more crewmembers than the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder.

"Final Thoughts
There are several perks being married to someone who is, what I lovingly refer to as, a "Disney Geek." We are going on the Disney Dream in about 7 weeks. I am so excited!"


Looking at the calendar, we have 49 days until we sail! I am sure we'll have a bit more to say before we set out on this adventure, and afterwards.

Oh, and if you take a notion, here is a link; please drop by my wife's article and leave a comment. You can also comment here if you'd like.

A Sign Its Saturday

Not every sign needs to be of an attraction. When I consider the design work of the Imagineers, elements like these add to the immersive experience.
In late 2001 I was extended the invitation to spend two weeks teaching in Pokhara, Nepal. I would have flown into Kathmandu then taken a small regional flight to the western part of the country. Sadly, other events prevented this from happening and a teaching engagement in Switzerland and France could not be extended to include Pokhara. In a life lived with few regrets, this is one. The chance to been near the roof of the world would have been tremendous experience. One I still miss.

The closest I will now come to Himalayas, I suppose, is the fictional town of Serka Zong. We all imagine what we think something should be like, and thanks to Mr. Rohde and his team, I feel that this area of Disney's Animal Kingdom closely matches what I thought Nepal would be like; just as my travels in Zimbabwe fit what I always felt Africa should be.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

...if i lived in central florida i'd...

... i'd be walking around the World Showcase with friends who have come to town to run in the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. Oh, now that would be fun - the walking around the World Showcase, not the running bit.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Disney World After Dark: Rock 'n' Roller Coaster

Zero to Sixty in 2.8 seconds! What is not to like?

Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith uses a LSM Launch (Linear Synchronous Motor) to send passengers along the 3,403 feet of track with two loops and a corkscrew. The attraction is the fastest coaster in Walt Disney World history and marks the first time that Imagineers turned riders upside down on American soil.

Two other pieces of information: the maximum G-force a guest will experience is 4.5g. That is the reason why my stomach feels as though it is being forced through my spinal column during take off. Also, at one minute twenty-two seconds, the full ride is less than one half the time you spend in the pre-show prior to boarding.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

And The Survey Says... Horizons

This is a survey that I thought would turn out the way that it did. What is not to love (and miss) about Horizons? It was a classic attraction in the tradition of Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress. Every so often I'll pull out an old VHS tape of the attraction, or browse through YouTube to find video. And I can honestly say, I wish Disney would bring back Horizons. But that is not how I voted.

I voted for Journey into Imagination. As much I enjoyed Horizons, I enjoyed Journey into Imagination slightly better, and that, purely because the of Art Room. I have also heard it called the Dream Room or the White Room. It was the the room done mostly in white with light pastels and the primary focus was on various carousel animals. If ever I wanted an attraction to stop in a particular place, it was this attraction. This and over the city of London in Peter Pan's Flight. The music was happy. It was a wonderful part of a wonderful attraction and I miss it.

I also came very close to voting for World of Motion. It is Marc Davis! It was fun. It was whimsical and at the same time, informative. What I miss most about this attraction is CenterCore, the futuristic city at the attractions finale. I tried on many occasions to capture the city on film and video tape but without success; I could never get a good image.

But, this is just me. The people have voted and Horizons takes the prize. And it should really. The votes broke down like this. Of 18 votes cast, Horizons had 10 (65%), Journey into Imagination captured 6 (33%) and The Living Seas came in third with 2 (11%). Sadly, World of Motion and Communicore garnered no votes.

Now, on to this weeks poll. You are about to embark on a 7-day holiday in Walt Disney World. What is the first park you visit? And... I would really appreciate if you would leave a comment telling us why you visit a specific park first. I think there are number of very good reasons and we'd love to hear them.

Editors Note: If you have a good photograph of CenterCore, I'd love to have a copy!

Something On A Sunday

Hall House 07.06.08

I appreciate interesting interior design. I don't think I am that good at it, but I have an appreciation for those who are. I tend to alternate between a nicely cluttered home or one that is ordered, much in the style of Feng Shui.

One goal I have set for myself in this new year is to downsize and simplify. But in doing so I don't want to lose the essential essence of how I live and how I interact with my family. What am I getting at? I had a conversation with a good friend a few weeks back and the subject of downsizing and simplifying came up. He asked me about my memories of growing up with my parents and grandparents and the feelings I had for their homes. I recall that they had the feeling of being lived in and not museum pieces. Then he asked, "What do you think your grandchildren will remember best, a home that is cluttered with all the things that reflect who you are and make your life what it is, or a home that is Feng Shui?"

He made a good point.

I still will strive to downsize and to simplify, simple because it is needed. But in doing so, I will be mindful not to give up what makes our house a home; not to lose who we are.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Sign Its Saturday

We'll start the new year with a consideration of signs in Disney's Animal Kingdom. First up, a more or less encouraging sign in one of my favorite parts of the park.