Saturday, January 26, 2008

Disney World After Dark: Morocco

Leaving Japan, we continue on our evening stroll around the World Showcase. Our next port-of-call is Morocco.

“On the drawing boards along with the rest of the opening-day pavilions, the Morocco pavilion did not actually open until September 7, 1984, nearly two years after the rest of World Showcase. The pavilion is a true celebration of the architecture and ornamentation of Morocco, welcoming visitors with its warm earth tones and green tile roofs, as well as its inviting geometric patterns and sensual textures.”

from Since the World Began by Jeff Kurtti, pg. 113

I also enjoy the passage from Birnbaum’s World Disney World. This from page 148 of the 2007 edition, “Nine tons of tile were handmade, hand cut, and shipped to Epcot to create this World Showcase pavilion. To capture the unique quality of this North African country’s architecture, Moroccan artisans came to Epcot to practice the mosaic art that has been a part of their homeland for thousands of years.”

Morocco is a pavilion that has grown on me through the years. The detail is rich and you can lose yourself as you wander deeper and deeper into the street atmosphere. The intricate designs are a photographers dream.

Enjoy the mystery of Morocco!

Editor's Note...

Our technical difficulties have not been completely handled, I am sad to say. I am also sad to admit that I am not savvy in the ways of Information Technology. So when it comes to such things as “ipconfig”, “ping” and so forth, I am at a complete loss.

Yet, in my ignorance I must ask, is it too much to ask for a router to work once it is properly installed? Why must one stay on the phone to someone in another country for hour and a half, and still not have a working wireless router?

I go to the store, I purchase a router, and I follow the installation instructions to the letter. I expect it to work. Is that wrong?

I know this is a Disney blog. It is supposed to be always happy. At least I believe that is what we endeavor to do in our posts; spread happiness. But forgive me this go ‘round. I am frustrated. I have missed my posts. I missed honoring a Disney Legend a few days ago and celebrating the release of 101 Dalmations.

So, I have temporarily plugged my laptop into the modem and send these thoughts. Old school? Yes, but I had to get a post fix real quick.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Please Standby...

We are experiencing technical difficulties at The Disney Obsession. Blog service will resume as soon as the modem and router are restored to their normal working order. We appreciate your patience (I sure could use some).

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Legends: Claude Coats

When Uncle Walt set out to turn his dream of a place where children and adults could have fun together into a reality, he selected a special group of people from his Studios. These individuals were the genesis of what we now call Imagineering. These were the first Imagineers and among them was Claude Coats.

He was born on January 17, 1913 in San Francisco. In 1934 he graduated from USC with a degree in fine art and architecture. Following some additional studies at Chouinard Art Institute, he joined the company in 1935 as a background painter. His oft heralded work spanned the range of classic Disney films from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937 to Lady and the Tramp in 1955.

It was in ’55 that Coats was tapped by Walt Disney to make Disneyland real. Looking back, it is difficult to imagine Disneyland, the Magic Kingdom, or EPCOT without Claude Coats influence, as he was involved in the design and development of The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, World of Motion, and Horizons to name a few. He was also involved with bringing the Carousel of Progress and It’s a Small World to the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair.

True, there are many extremely talented individuals who spent their lives helping Walt to create the magic, but as Marty Sklar said, “Claude…was a genuine one-of-a-kind.”

Claude Coats died just a few days shy of his 79th birthday on January 9, 1992. He became a Disney Legend in 1991.

Next time you find yourself on POTC or exiting the Haunted Mansion, whisper a thank you to Mr. Coats.

Photo Credit: Disney Legends Website

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Legends: John Hannah

I must confess, I have never been much of a Donald Duck fan. No, I am a “Mickey Man”. If you cut me I will bleed red mixed with some yellow and black. But, if you follow The Duck, then you know of Jack Hannah.

Jack Hannah was born in Nogales, Arizona on January 15, 1913. Following his 18th birthday he found himself in Los Angeles enrolled at the Art Guild Academy and designing movie posters to make a living. In 1933 he was hired by Disney as an in-between and clean-up artist. He worked on Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and the Silly Symphonies cartoons.

Yet, it is with Donald that he would be best remembered. In all he worked on 65 Donald Duck shorts and in the process collected eight Academy Award nominations. He served as key animator on the Oscar winning short, “The Old Mill” which introduced the multi-plane camera.

In 1939 Jack moved from animation to the story department. He continued to work on Donald and eventually teamed with Carl Barks to create 27 on the Donald Duck shorts. He was also instrumental in bringing his feathered friend to television with titles that include, “A Day in the Life of Donald Duck” and “At Home with Donald Duck”.

He continued as an artist working with oils following his retirement in 1959.

Jack Hannah died at the age of 81 on June 11, 1994. He was made a Disney Legend in 1992.

Photo Credit: Disney Legends Website

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Disney World After Dark: Japan

We have just enjoyed watching The American Adventure and are now making our way back out into this clear evening in the World Showcase. Although we were able to rest a little during the show, we still need a quite moment to be at ease and to reflect on our day. We have come to just such a place - Japan.

"The torii gate is found throughout Japan at the entry to ancient shrines. A great vermilion torii on the shores of the World Showcase Lagoon, adapted from the Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima Bay, is the entry to Disney's shrine to the architecture and heritage of Japan in World Showcase.

Looming 83 feet above the pavement is a pagoda, adapted from the seventh-century Horyuji Shrine at Nara. (Although similar to the Chinese pagodas that inspired them, Japanese pagodas use less color, less curve, and less ornamentation, emphasizing instead the grace of the designs and simplicity of line.) Its five stories symbolize earth, water, fire, wind, and sky; and the pagoda is topped by a sorin composed of nine rings, each with its own wind chimes."

from Since the World Began by Jeff Kurtti, pg. 110

Here is Japan. Enjoy the peace and listen to the quiet!

Where In The World

Last weeks Where In The World photo was indeed a section of one of the fountains found outside the Imagination pavilion. Congratulations to first time visitor Daniel Ross who is Living the Yellow Jacket Life at Georgia Tech.

Alright then. I feel that the last few weeks entries to the WITW series have been fairly easy. It may be time to elevate the challenge just a bit.

I give you, the Fifty in Disney composite challenge. Huh? Last April I turned 50 and my family thought it would be a great idea for me to celebrate at my Happy Place. So in the months leading up to the blessed event I sent out monthly newsletters with information about the vacation, games, trivia, etc. The composite to the left was in the March 2007 issue.

You'll recognize some items fairly easily and some may be a bit more difficult. In fact, one has already made a WITW appearance a few weeks back.

As for hints, here are a few. I have used photographs from all four parks and Downtown Disney. And just like the hint from the Gates of Africa, some of the photos are a part of the whole. I have added numbers to the bottom right corner of each photo as a reference.

So, there you are. Take the challenge or enlist your families and friends and have some fun. My family and friends did. Oh, and turning fifty in Disney was not to shabby either.

What Sites Do I Visit?

Recently, DisFriends asked the question, "What Sites Do You Visit?" as part of their journal entry initiative. I posted an entry there and I thought I would add it here. It is sort of my tribute to those who inspired The Disney Obsession.

Here it is.

There are a few. My favorite is The Disney Obsession! I like to drop by every morning and every evening to see if anyone has left a comment. I suppose it is what we bloggers do; not only are we obsessed with Disney, but we are also obsessed with receiving comments.

But, I started The Disney Obsession because of the other great blogs that I read. There is a wonderful little thing that inspires us all called 2719 Hyperion. Jeff Pepper puts up great content and graphics that spur us all on to higher levels.

The Taylor brothers over at Imaginerding will help you get your "nerd" on. They also provide great information on books. Check out their recent recommendation on The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World by Bob Sehlinger. I'll be going by the bookstore this weekend.

Ryan is the editor of the Main Street Gazette. He comments on a variety of different topics. I recommend checking out his new series called "Once..." You'll enjoy his "dramatizations, fan fiction, or down right tawdry rubbish." I did.

At If We Can Dream It..., Jessica explores the often overlooked and under appreciated details of the parks. Together with Foxxfur's essays on parkeology at Passport to Dreams Old and New, you will become expert on the details of the parks.

Can I go on? I sure can.

I have recently been making daily visits to Broke Hoedown, my life on the WDW d-list (I have been getting a real kick out of these two sites), My Disney Blog, Grumpy's Hollow, Blue Sky Disney, Epcot Central and others. Could I simply check my RSS feeds? Sure. But I like to visit.

Oh, and don't forget to check out some stunning photography at TMIP. Whenever you need a little virtual Disney, Tim's can set you up.

So there you are. Those are most (not all) of the sites I visit on a daily basis. And, hey, I do it all before leaving for work. I suppose that could be a reason why I seem to stayed tired.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Legends...

Today begins a new series on The Disney Obsession. I call it The Legends. These are the Disney Legends and this series will spotlight those people who have distinguished themselves among those who played a special part in bringing us the magic.

The Disney Legends program began in 1987 and so far it has honored 216 individuals. These are the animators, the vocal talents, the Imagineers, the film makers, musicians, and others who have worked to create the Disney experience for our enjoyment.

During 2008 I will focus on the Disney disciplines of Animation, Imagineering and Attractions, celebrating the birthdays of those people honored for their contributions in these areas. In future years we can explore other areas of creativity, and along the way we may celebrate a few birthdays of future Disney Legends.

Since I will offer only a brief sketch of the individuals celebrated I encourage you to visit the Disney Legends site and learn more about each person.

I can not think of a better way to begin a new series on The Legends than to begin with a Disney. To him, Uncle Walt was truly his father’s brother. Roy E. Disney was born in Los Angeles on January 10, 1930, the son Roy & Edna Disney. Young Roy enjoyed a life that most of us can only dream of and that was he had the opportunity to grow up around the studio.

Following his graduation from Pomona College he started his career as an assistant film editor and later joined the Walt Disney Studios in 1954 as an assistant editor on the True Life Adventure films.

Roy left the Studio in 1977 after 23 years to pursue other interests but returned in 1984 to serve as vice chair and head of animation. It was during his watch that Disney enjoyed what some call The 2nd Golden Age of Disney Animation with such current classics as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and The Beast and The Lion King. He also restored his uncle’s vision for Fantasia with the premier of Fantasia 2000 in December 1999.

Roy Edward Disney became a Disney Legend in 1998.

Photo: Wikipedia, Roy E. Disney article

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Where In The World

Here we are in 2008 and it is time to bring you the first Where In The World for the new year. We will start off simple. But before we do, let's acknowledge our winners for the past two World posts.

Back on December 21st I posted a photo of the terracotta type light fixtures in the Outpost area of the World Showcase Promenade. That is the area between China and Germany. Congratulations to Ray at Main Street Gazette for having the correct answer. Then on December 30th, almost as soon as hit the "Publish Post" button (or so it seemed) George over at Imaginerding correctly guessed Muppets 3D, specifically, the clock tower at Muppet Vision 3D. Congratulations to you George.

This weeks photo will keep take us away from DHS, but keep us in the parks. Again, I think it rather easy; but that is just me. So, here you go. Take a look. Take a guess. And...tell your friends to visit. Even if someone has answered correctly it doesn't stop them from playing, or at the very least, leaving a comment. Spread the word!

Disney World After Dark: The American Adventure

We now leave Italy and continue our walk around the World Showcase. Next stop, the host pavilion, The American Adventure!

"The uncharacteristically gigantic Georgian brick building that houses The American Adventure, presented by Coca-Cola and American Express, is a far cry from the original plan for the United States pavilion. The question of how to present the spirit of America daunted the Imagineers. The United States was not one of the original World Showcase pavilion concepts; it was to be a sleek two-level structure on stilts in a transitional area near Future World. As the host country, the United States was to have a walk-under facility, with an attraction above - a gateway to World Showcase. There was concern that placing the United States in the Showcase itself might appear arrogant, but that setting it apart might appear aloof. Finally,the Imagineers decided to celebrate the very spirit that could produce a project like EPCOT Center. The United States pavilion with its spectacular show, The American Adventure, would become the central focus of World Showcase."

from Since the World Began by Jeff Kurtti, pg. 110

The American Adventure, or U.S.A. as it was known in some earlier guide maps, is one of my favorite pavilions on the promenade. It is not so much the building, but what is inside it that makes it special. My heart begins to swell as I ascend the Corridor of Flags and enter the theater, and I mentioned in an earlier post that I get rather emotional when "Two Brothers" is played. I tend to do the same during the finale with "Golden Dream".

I lived in Europe for a time during the 1990's, visited several European countries and have been in and out of Africa on a few occasions. During that time I learned how to miss America. I learned how to appreciate this great country and what was endured, and is yet to be endured, to make it so.

I never felt this more than when standing in front of The American Adventure on a particular Friday in September 2001. At 12:00 noon that day the whole country paused for a moment of silence in reverence to those who fell in the attacks of 9/11. I looked up and noticed that the flag on top of the building was flying at half staff. I shall never forget that image or that day. This American Adventure that we are a part of became so much more important in that moment.

Enjoy your visit and your memories here at The American Adventure.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year - 2008

I was given a copy of The Quotable Walt Disney for Christmas and I wanted to begin the New Year with something from Uncle Walt. But it was hard to settle on a single quote.

In fact, it is hard to settle on any specific theme for this post. With it being the New Year I was hoping for something profound to share that would inspire. But it is late, I’m tired, and profundity escapes me. I suppose it is simple enough to say that I am happy to have arrived at this year. I am blessed by having my family near. Even now four of my five grandchildren are asleep downstairs as I write this.

I am equally blessed by friends, both here in Nashville and elsewhere in the states and abroad. I have known many of my friends here for over twenty years. We have been through so much together. Now, my friends and I have begun to know what it is like to experience the loss of friends. The experiences this past year has caused bond we have to become even tighter and our times together all the more precious. We are learning (again) how not to take our friendships for granted.

These thoughts extend to these posts; both the ones that I write and more importantly, the ones that I read. I sense that there are among us, friendships waiting to be established, nurtured, and enriched in the year(s) to come. I know it is my wish to get to know those of you who share this obsession for Disney; to begin friendships beyond our postings and our comments. I know this is possible. I know these things happen through events like MouseFest, and I am committed to being there this year. But I hope to build friendships in this wonderful community long before December 11th.

I believe that friendship is a gift and in our Disney community those friendships are magical gifts. We help each other find the Magic each day. By doing so, we are in some respects continuing the legacy of Walt Disney with each bit of magic we post.

Writing this now, I guess a theme did emerge: friendship.

And, I did find a quote that may be appropriate. It is a challenge to friendship; both for my long time friends here in Nashville and to my new friends in the Disney online community. With a nod to Meet the Robinsons, I quote,

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We KEEP MOVING FORWARD, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
Walt Disney

Happy New Years friends and here is to the Magic!