Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Checking Out...for Awhile

Tomorrow, I am in Walt Disney World. Trying to satisfy this obsession for at least another six months. I will be drinking in a lot of those little details that I have spent the last few weeks reading about on some of my favorite blog sites. Thank you to all of you for your insights; you have made a much better Disney experience possible.

I look forward to catching up on all the posts I will miss while I am away. Have a magical weekend!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Project: Disney Pen and Ink Drawings

I have always enjoyed drawing, mostly doodling, nothing of any real serious nature. I am not a student as such.

Rewind a few years. My wife and I lived in England and one day she asked me to draw a picture for her of a church I visited in Cornwall. A few months passed and I didn't do anything towards producing a picture. Then one afternoon in London I decided to begin. In time I drew that Cornish church tower, a small section of the original Warwick Castle, Westminster Abbey (above) and Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon. This was all some years ago and except for the occasional doodle, I do not draw much.

Now I have urge to draw again! I have thought about combining my obsession with my small amount of talent and begin drawing the place I love most, Walt Disney World. For years my wife has wondered why I have never done a pen and ink of Cinderella Castle. That is about to change. I have set up my drawing table, purchased some new pens, some new paper and I am ready to begin. First step, take a lot of detailed photographs. That is what I will be doing during this upcoming trip; taking a lot of photographs! I have several different series of pen and inks I would to do. But I'll start with the park icons.

I know that the Magic Kingdom's Cinderella Castle, EPCOT's Spaceship Earth and Disney's Animal Kingdom's Tree of Life are undisputed icons. But what of Disney MGM? The park design situated Mann's Chinese Theatre to be the icon. But now, we have a Sorcerer's Hat. My thought is to draw the hat. Other thoughts?

Oh, I am also photographing some things for a book project I am working on.

So you could say that this next trip is a business trip. But I do plan on having a little fun along the way.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

World Showcase: The Flag Pins

Used to be that you could purchase a small pin representing the flag or flags of each country around the World Showcase. I came away from that first walk "around the world" with my first Disney pins.

I thought I had lost these until earlier this year I found them tucked away in a small box atop a bookcase. I stuck them on an old bluejean jacket and wore them proudly during 50id.

If you remember these pins I hope you look back in time.

Remembrances: 1989

It was seventeen years in the making, but my first trip back to central Florida since ’72 was magical! And, it almost didn’t happen. If it wasn’t for two friends of mine having colds I may have spent three days in Breckinridge snow skiing. They didn’t feel like being cold so we headed south to Orlando and a love affair with Disney was born.

It was 1989 and EPCOT Center was still the newest park in Walt Disney World. There were new attractions in the Magic Kingdom to experience, like Space Mountain, and there were also things to do that I didn’t do as a teenager. No, this time, every ride was yours to experience for the price of admission. But somehow, looking back, I think EPCOT Center was the focal point of this visit.

The first day there was a marvel. I was stunned when I first saw Spaceship Earth, and further amazed at what was inside. The smell of Rome burning continues to amaze me.

How neat was it to stop by the World Key after exiting the attraction and be able to make dinner reservations? You could also do this at a kiosk on the walkway to the World Showcase.

I admit, that at first, I really thought we were descending in the Hydrolators to Sea Base Alpha.

The final scene in World of Motion still lingers; the futuristic city. I think I read somewhere one time that it was known as Centracore. I was never able to get either a good picture or video of it. I did find a nice rendering of it in a souvenir picture book published in 1987 by Crescent Books.

I really enjoyed the Listen to the Land boat ride. I still do.

I must have ridden Journey into Imagination half a dozen times wishing that the ride would get stuck in the Dream Room, the White Room. I also recall spending a good deal of time in The Image Works; specifically in the Rainbow Corridor and Stepping Tones.

Which way did I end my ride through Horizons? I tried them all but I think Brava Centauri was my favorite.

My first walk around the World Showcase began by way of Canada, the United Kingdom, and so on. I spent a lot of time in France, particularly in the Palais Du Cinema, watching Impressions de France. I especially liked the rumble of the sub-woofers during the climax of Saint-Saens Organ Symphony. I think I spent the next two months trying to find all the compositions used in the film. It is a “must do” on every subsequent trip.

I felt that the audio-animatronics were great in Spaceship Earth but I had not yet seen Ben Franklin walking up stairs in the American Adventure. Incredible! What a show. I still get a lump in my throat when I hear “Two Brothers”.

I first experienced Illuminations from the patio of the Cantina de San Angel on the World Showcase Lagoon. I can still hear the lone clarinet announcing the tribute to America with “Rhapsody in Blue”. The finale of “The Great Gate of Kiev” from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture was spectacular.

There are so many wonderful memories I have of this trip and of the first time experiencing the Second Gate. Like the Magic Kingdom, there are things I experienced on this first trip that I have to relive whenever I go. Sadly, some things have passed into memory and can only now be experienced in old video footage.

I think it began with that trip. But now, every time I leave Epcot, I stop just before exiting, turn around, and look at the wonder that is Spaceship Earth. I stand quietly for a moment or two, then say, “I will be back”. Then I turn and walk away and begin dreaming of my next trip.

Next Sunday evening I will do it all over again, and I plan to speak those words. I am looking forward to it.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

“The Beginnings: My First Visit”

The last visit I made to Walt Disney World was in April of this year. It was for the occasion of my 50th birthday. It became known among my family and friends as the “Fifty in Disney” Celebration, or 50id for short. My next visit will be in eleven days. As I look forward to this next visit and all that I wish to accomplish with it, I think back to first trip. The memories I have from that trip continue to be relived with every new visit.

My first trip was in the spring of 1972. I was in the 9th grade and Walt Disney World was still less than one year old. My father had borrowed a motor home and packed up the family for a two week journey around Florida. Packed into that motor home were my mom and dad, my younger sister, my grandparents and me. The whole affair was quite an adventure.

Our circular trip around Florida allowed for one day very full day in the Magic Kingdom. We took the monorail over to the park and remember being fascinated with going through a hotel. As I remember it, the park was very crowded and I was hampered by just recently having had a cast removed from my leg. I also remember that my grandfather was so concerned that my grandmother would have her pocketbook stolen in the crowds. His solution was to carry it for her. He had the handles tight over his shoulder and the bag firmly tucked under his arm. No one bothered the purse, but he did get more than a few enquiring looks.

We were in Adventureland on our way to see the Enchanted Tiki Room. We stopped to listen to a group of musicians playing steel drums. My grandfather insisted that the music was being piped through hidden speakers (most likely from behind the tiki statues) as it was impossible for music to come from an oil drum.

Some of my memories have faded over the years, but I have wonderful ones that are still with me. I remember going to the Country Bear Jamboree and the Hall of Presidents (my grandparent’s favorite). We visited the 999 Grim Grinning Ghosts, and went 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea with Captain Nemo. I still miss that ride. I feel fairly certain that we rode on Cinderella’s Golden Carrousel.

No matter how old I become I will never forget the first time I rode Peter Pan’s Flight. I remember being amazed at hearing Peter say “Off to Never Land” and the rounding the corner to fly over London. All of those tiny lights were simply magic to me and now no day in the Magic Kingdom is complete without taking a ride in a flying galleon through the story of Pan. Each time I am struck by the sight of London and find it impossible to set back during the ride; I am always on the edge of my seat.

My only souvenir from that first trip was a letter opener my parent’s bought for me in the gift shop in Cinderella’s Castle. It is called Fantasy Faire now, but then I believe it was known as The King’s Gallery. I still have it and use it to open my mail. If only I had kept the ticket booklet.

While I am proud to be able to say I was there the year that it opened, I don’t think I fully appreciated what I was experiencing. If memory is any indication then I know I didn’t.

I do know that deep down inside of me a little magic was born that day. It was to lay dormant for quite a few years as I finished school and did those things that “grown ups” do. It was in 1989 when I became a lost boy once again and the magic was given its freedom and it began to grow. But that is another story for another time.

An Editor's Note

(Editor’s Note: As I begin this adventure in blogging, let me first say that my desire is that this becomes more than a travelogue or random updates on me and my obsession. I hope to have something to add to the dialogue about this subject we all love. But until I find my voice, my niche in this rich community, I will write about my history as it pertains to Disney.)