Thursday, August 30, 2007

Daily Figment 53 It's In the Details

daily_figment_02Who doesn't equate Main St. USA with the sound of horses clopping and the smell of fudge from the Main St. Bakery?

It is also the first place you run across popcorn--another park staple! In Disneyland: Dreams, Traditions and Transitions on page 53, is this great little sidebar. It is another example of the amount of detail that the Imagineers put into everything they do.

popcornAlthough these miniature popcorn vendors appear at Disneyland, it should be pretty obvious to most Disney Geeks where they reside throughout the park, in their respective Hot Fresh Popcorn carts.

Can you guess?

All we have for prizes is left-over popcorn from our 1998 trip to Disneyland. What is weird is that the popcorn is starting to turn green. Did I buy it at the Haunted Mansion?


Hanging out at the Library in Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland in 1998.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Daily Figment 52 MouseFest MGM Style

daily_figment_02MouseFest is getting closer.

Day-by-day (Check out the counter at the far right).

We mentioned earlier that The Disney Geeks will be there in Full Force!

A good friend of the Geeks is Matt Hochberg, over at (do we really have enough space for this?):

Whew! He is almost in more places than Jonathan Dichter.

mgmdotorgAnyway, Matt has written a great piece about MouseFest 2007 over at MGM The article details his plans for hosting events at MouseFest and what newcomers (like The Disney Geeks) can expect. The Disney Geeks will be attending the Star Tours Meet with MGM

Here's the down-low, uh, right below:

Friday, December 7, 2007

Time: 2:00 - 3:00pm

Walt Disney World 1994Location: Disney-MGM Studios: Just Outside Star Tours

Host: Matt Hochberg of MGMStudios.Org

What: Have you ever filled an entire StarSpeeder 3000 with all your friends? That's the plan for this meet. We want to fill an entire StarSpeeder 3000. Join Matt Hochberg for a fun ride to Endor.

As a tease, here is the first paragraph of Matt's article (he run's a great site, by the way):

It’s still about 4 months until Mousefest and the temperatures are still in the 80’s but I can’t help but think about Mousefest this year and wanted to tell you what MGMStudios.Org has in store for this annual December gala of Disney Internet fans.  Believe it or not, if you’re planning on going to Mousefest, you may have to start planning now as not to be overwhelmed by the entire event when you get down there.

Get the rest of the article here.

Don't forget to register for the forums and share some Geek love with Matt.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Daily Figment 51 Contemporary Construction


The Contemporary Resort is one of the iconic buildings of Walt Disney World. You could show most people a picture of it and they would be able to guess that it is "that A-frame Disney hotel"; "the one with the monorail".

Okay, kids, let's take a look at page 34 of our textbook for today: The Story of Walt Disney World (1973). The topic for today? The modularity of the Contemporary juxtaposed to the sanguine ruminations of the Polynesian.

The exciting innovations Walt Disney envisioned when he said Walt Disney World would be "a showcase to the world for the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise," are nowhere better illustrated than in construction of the first two hotels. Here, steel-framed unitized or modular construction has been given its first major showcase.lot All 1500 rooms of the Contemporary Resort-Hotel and Polynesian Village were fabricated by United States Steel at an assembly plant three miles from the hotels , trucked to the building site, and lifted into place by giant cranes (illustrated at the 14-story A-frame Tower Building of the Contemporary Resort-Hotel). Before leaving the on-the-job assembly plant, these light-weight steel rooms had been completely outfitted-walls covered, bath fixtures installed, mirrors in place and lights ready to be "plugged in."

p. 34, The Story of Walt Disney World - 1973 Commemorative Edition: A Behind the Scenes Visit to the Vacation Kingdom



Moving the rooms from the US Steel site to the construction site.


Working on the exterior of the Contemporary.


Rooms being lifted into place by crane at the Contemporary.


The cover of this amazing book. This is a very rare edition that even Scrooge McDuck would covet.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Daily Figment 50 "All that Glitters, Ain't Gold"

daily_figment_50Well, many said we could never do it.

A few said we would end up in a fist fight.

Some said it would never last.

I would like to quote from Lloyd Dobbler:

"You just described every great success story."

Of course I am referring to our fiftieth Daily Figment. That's right, we hit the big 5-0. Now we know how Mike Scopa feels.

brothers 1982

The Disney Geeks Pre-Disney (circa 1982). Check out the shorts!

mousefest2007logoThe other big mile marker is that we are 100 days out from MouseFest. Yes, the Disney Geeks will be taking part in MouseFest this year. We aren't hosting anything, but we will be attending and stalking our favorite blogger/podcaster celebrities. We will also be looking at the possibilities of some heckling.

We are going to be lodging at the Pop Century Resort.

If you're new to MouseFest, check out some of these podcasts:


Disney Geek George meets the Uber Disney Geek (Lou Mongello) in 2006.
George is on the left and Lou is on the right. They look so similar that it is almost like a reverse negative. Which means what?

Some of our favorite moments from the first 50:
  • George persuading Andrew to eat Strawberries and Cream for breakfast during a trip to Washington, D.C. because George had the same thing at Bonfamilles' at Port Orleans' the year before. Until George's wife pointed out that they were actually eating strawberries and milk. (Confounding Cream, always looking and acting like milk...)
  • Meeting a thousand cool new people (well, the people were not new, but you know what we mean).
  • Our first video post.
  • Finding a way to sneak The Simpsons into the blog. Andrew still thinks this clip is pee-in-your-pants funny (that is a certified Disney Geek term).
  • Andrew eating a whole block of near-rancid cheese and drinking two gallons of kool-aid on a dare. This had nothing to do with the blog, but it will always rank as one of our favorite moments. The few moments after this favorite moment are not so favorite.


The Disney Geeks discuss the intricacies of the Disney Dining Plan.

Keep those cards and letters coming; Thanks for being a part of our community.

Obviously, you rock!

George and Andrew

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Daily Figment 49 - The Beginnings

daily_figment_02No one will ever really know when Walt first dreamt up the idea of a theme park (which would eventually spawn this cottage industry of bloggers, podcasters and forums). The following is an excerpt from Neal Gabler's biography of Walt Disney. He doesn't challenge the traditional story told by Walt (mentioned in the excerpt by Diane Disney), but offers several other thoughts and ruminations.

It is impossible to say exactly when, but Walt Disney had decided to build a theme park.

Rudy Ising, an old Kansas City friend and one of the Laugh-a-Gram employees, recalled his and Walt's visits to Electric Park, an amusement complex, and how on one of these excursions Walt had told him, "One of these days I'm going to build an amusement park-and it's going to be clean!" Diane Disney thought the inception took place during the Sunday afternoons when Walt picked the girls up from religious services-he never attended them himself-and took them to the Griffith Park merry ­go-round, where they would spend houdl_pre_01rs. "He'd see families in the park," Diane would recall, "and say, 'There's nothing for the parents to do .... You've got to have a place where the whole family can have fun.' " Diane thought he used those afternoons and later ones with Sharon at a small amusement park at La Cienega and Beverly in Los Angeles as a "sort of research project." Roy thought that it had all begun with the model trains. Once Walt began building his locomotive, Roy told an interviewer, "he always wanted to build a big play train for the public," though it was unclear whether Walt built the model trains because he had the park in mind or whether he had the park in mind because he built the model trains. Wilfred Jackson said that Walt had first broached the idea for an amusement park during the Snow White premiere, where Walt had a dwarfs' cottage erected outside the theater as a display. As they walked past it, Walt told Jackson that he wanted to build a park scaled to chil­dren's size. Ben Sharpsteendl_pre_02 said he first heard about a park in 1940 when he accompanied Walt to New York for a demonstration of Fantasound and Walt discussed his plans for setting up displays on a strip of land across the street from the studio between Riverside Drive and the Los Angeles River-"just something to show people who wanted to visit the Disney Studio," Walt said. Dick Irvine, an art director at the studio, remembered Walt coming into the office during the war and describing a public tour of the studio that Irvine felt later expanded into the amusement park. And John Hench, an animator and layout man, recalled Walt in the 1940s pacing out the parking lot and imagining the boundaries for an amusement park there.

pp 483-484, Walt Disney: the Triumph of the American Imagination, Neal Gabler, 2006.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Daily Figment 48 - Special Weekend Edition

daily_figment_02We wanted to post a special weekend edition of the Daily Figment. We've had some new visitors coming from Jeff's post over at 2719 Hyperion.


And to our regular visitors: we still think you guys absolutely rock!

The reason for the special weekend edition is that I received a belated birthday present from my wife.


Window on Main Street: 35 Years of Creating Happiness at Disneyland Park by Van Arsdale France

This has been on my Disney Geek wish list for a long time. I didn't get the opportunity to buy it when it was published and like so many other Disney-related titles, the street value has sky-rocketed. My wife had been scouring  E-bay and other sites (, etc) since June to get it for me.

I just got it today, so this is not an official review.

DSC00948A little information about Van Arsdale France.

He was hired in March of 1955 to create a training program for Disneyland cast members, which was called the University of Disneyland.  He hired Dick Nunis as his personal gofer and was eventually brought back to Disneyland by Dick to change the initial training to Disney University. Eventually, the Disney University morphed into Traditions, which all Disney cast members receive now.

He officially retired in 1978 but went to work as a special consultant for Dick Nunis. He was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1994. Van passed away in 1999.

Van's Window on Main St. reads:

Van Arsdale

Professor Emertius
Disney Universities

I can't wait to start this book!


Van in his office at Disneyland


Van walking to his office at Disneyland


The back cover of Window on Main Street

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Daily Figment 47


New Hidden Mickey Alert!

Someone needs to let Steve Barrett, author of Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World's Best Kept Secrets, know about this latest Hidden Mickey.

Actually, before we get into this new Hidden Mickey, I need to preface it with a statement:

It takes true Disney Geek-ness to have a dog with a Hidden Mickey.

Maxine by Connery

Maxine, the Disney Geek Dog.

I can hear the anguished cries from all over the interweb.

"But, George! What Hidden Mickey?"

I am so glad you asked. Typical Hidden Mickeys on animals are usually found like this:

Walt Disney World 1994


Of course, this isn't Maxine. This is the famous (or was she fa-mouse?) Minnie Moo. This picture was taken in 1994 at Mickey's Starland at the Magic Kingdom. A farmer discovered the markings and sold her to Disney. (I really hope he got more than three magic beans.) Minnie-Moo retired to Ft. Wilderness where she passed away in 2001.

Anyway, back to Maxine.

She does have a Hidden Mickey. Are you still not sure what a Hidden Mickey is? This should help (from Steve Barrett's Online Hidden Mickeys Guide):

What are Hidden Mickeys?
A hidden Mickey is a partial or complete impression of Mickey Mouse placed by the Imagineers and artists to blend into the designs of Disney attractions, hotels, restaurants, and other areas.

The most common Hidden Mickey form is the tri-circle Mickey frontal silhouette: three circles that form Mickey’s round head and adjoining round ears.

Since we don't have Maxine's lineage (beagle-sheltie-what?), we can't verify that an Imagineer put the Hidden Mickey there. We can use the Minnie-Moo defense, however; live animals are exempt from the Imagineering clause.

Still need more proof? Okay, here it is...


I would love to see Lou top this!

Unless, of course, he has his own Hidden Mickey. If so, I will just have to take his word for it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Daily Figment 46

daily_figment_02This denial of the seasons opened up unlimited possibilities for importing exotic seeds, trees, plants and flowers and for integrating them into the gardens, homes and workplaces of all who prized them for their beauty. And, as the interest in indoor greenery became more widespread, conservatories came into being. These were places to "show off" the many exotic tropical species. Today, following in this tradition, conservatories, sunrooms, and atriums bring the outdoors of the tropics indoors.


The Crystal Palace of the Magic Kingdom was inspired by the magnificent Crystal Palace, designed in 1850 by Sir Joseph Paxton for the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, London.Its delicate, ballooning outline and pane after pane of diamond-like glass made it seem like more a mirage than an actual edifice. In our Crystal Palace, which actually serves as a garden restaurant, the intent of the conservatory has not been lost. Towering fishtail palms, bright green coffee trees, and other tropical plants bring the garden indoors.


P. 138, The Gardens of the Walt Disney World Resort, 1988.

I love the Crystal Palace for the outside--the views, architectural details and the scene that is sets from the Adventureland bridge and the Central Hub. I have never eaten there, and I don't have the gumption to, either. Pooh is not very big in this Disney Geeks' household, so we have chosen other venues for food. The Victorian styling of the Crystal Palace is a functional transition point from several areas in the Magic Kingdom, though.

As you leave Main St. and head towards Adventureland, the Crystal Palace sets the tone for what is to come. You get a sense of excitement and as you pass into Adventureland, the feeling of the building changes, as well. The green canopies hide the building and close it off from the world and from your view. You are passing the last remnants of civilization. Your last view of the Crystal Palace, as you cross over the bridge, shows overgrown vegetation and water coming right up to the building. You are leaving what is known and entering the unknown. Because, honestly, you never know how bad the skipper's jokes are going to be. And the badder they are--the better the Cruise.


This is one of my favorite spots in all of Walt Disney World. To me, it is the place where the Imagineers got everything right. The sights, sounds and general atmosphere.

(Disney Geek Grandma, Andy's obviously better half and me. 2001)

Standing on the bridge to Adventureland is a Zen moment. It is something that I look forward to and is a part of every vacation.

Thanks for letting me share it with you.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Daily Figment 45: Book Review - The Art of Disneyland

daily_figment_02The Art of Disneyland by Jeff Kurtti and Bruce Gordon. 2006, ISBN: 1423104595

Released to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Disneyland, The Art of Disneyland is a visually stunning and historically amazing work. The large scale of the book (almost 11" X 13") forces you to turn the book sideways to enjoy the art. This is by no means an issue. More page space set aside for the artwork is what makes the book truly shine.
Paintings, concept art, layouts and sketches fill out this impressive volume. What I truly love about The Art of Disneyland is the amazing conceptual art. The book starts with Main St and ends with Tomorrowland. And yes, it does include Mickey's Toontown!

The Imagineering roll call is inspiring: Ken Anderson, Claude Coats, Mary Blair, John Hench, Harper Goff, Marc Davis, Peter Ellenshaw, Sam McKim, Herbert Ryman and so many more. Seeing all of this artwork in one place, by so many different artists, is like having a conversation about what Disneyland might have been. But then we actually know how it turned out. Most of the artwork is so true to what was developed, though. If you have ever spent any time at Disneyland, you will enjoy this book.
I've pulled a couple of the images from the book to share. They speak so much better than I do.

Main St. USA, Center Street, Sam McKim, 1967
Main St., USA, Coffee Garden, Unknown Artist, 1957
Main St. Snow Scene, Unknown Artist, 1978
Splash Mountain, Dan Goozer, 1987

My favorite section would actually end up as a fist fight between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. The artwork for both sections is astounding and they both have the unique honor of being the two lands at Disneyland to have been re-done, so to speak. In the case of Tomorrowland, it has had several minor revisions, including the big mid-1990's re-do. The famous Mary Blair Tomorrowland murals are also reproduced in the book.

The front endpaper of the book presents the Fun Map of Disneyland done in 1957 by Sam KcKim. The rear endpaper has the Fun Map of Disneyland by Nina Rae Vaughn in 2000. They hug the book; reverently and figuratively.

The Art of Disneyland is filled with beautiful paintings, ride concept sketches and amazing bird's eye views of the various lands. At $49.99 retail, it is rather expensive, but you can find it on Amazon much cheaper. This is a great addition to any Disney Geeks library collection.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Daily Figment 44

Birthday Contest: The Lesser Known Geek

Ah yes, I know three of you have been salivating, wringing your hands, and waiting with baited breath for this Geek's answers to the questions John Frost posted on his blog, The Disney Blog. Patience grasshoppers.....
Clearly, John has the best name for a blog out there and has asked us to pronounce it Thee instead of Thuh. For those of you that have followed his work for sometime, you know the quality of work John does. For those of you who are not familiar, finish reading this, cry a single tear, and then go check out John's stuff. You will not be disappointed. He is Geek Approved.

1. Have you ever celebrated your birthday at a Disney theme park? If so, tell us about it. I have not celebrated my birthday at Disney. However, I have celebrated vicariously through The Grumptser over at Grumpy's Hollow. He left a good picture of him and Sleeping Beauty that I get a kick out of. I do feel like everyday is a celebration at Disney, so to have a birthday there would be Grumptastic. I would eat 9 times that day instead of the usual 7, and I would
sing happy birthday to myself in every queue for the entertainment of 'the simpler folk'.
Truthfully, this question did make me fantasize about going on my birthday next year until I realized the temps in mid Florida on May 31st are usually chaffing hot.
(Ed. Note- Chaffing hot is a very technical and scientific term that falls right above Sweaty Pits Hot and right below Ebola Hot)

2. What is your favorite or most useful tip for guests of Disney's theme parks?

My favorite tip is to do less better. For someone who is going to Disney for three days and may not go again for five years, the surest way to invite misery into your trip is to CRAM everything into those few days. Seriously, stop and ask any father who is screaming at his four year old about how he doesn't deserve this trip why he is yelling and he will tell you his kid is an spoiled brat. The real issue here is that dad has kept a four year old out in 98 degree heat for 15 hours a day. Not to mention that both almost suffocated on the bus ride home after Wishes. The kid can't enjoy being yanked by the arm every time he wants to stop and soak in some mind blowing attraction with the dad yelling "COME ON GUSTAFF, WE STILL HAVEN'T SEEN TEST TRACK YET!!!!".
Please slow down, smell the turkey legs, breathe deeply, and enjoy each thing you do. You will have a better overall experience, and in turn an better overall vacation. And Gustaff will have two arms the same length...

3. What is your favorite Disney theme park attraction or show and why?
Splash Mountain ain't no ordinary mountain... It reeks of bear butt and chlorine.

I love Splash Mountain. Disney gives us amazing attractions that submerse you in fantasy and give escape at the most perfect levels. Splash Mountain does this as well as any attraction at Disney.....FOR TEN MINUTES! It's lengthy ride time, coupled with the Zip-A-Dee Lady payoff (which no other log flume ride in the world bothers with, basically, you drop and you exit), and the amazing buildup with the ultra kinetic water and screams combination you see and feel on approaching the attraction make it tops in my book. Albeit, it is a very wet book from the Laughing Place. I could go on and on about this attraction but I will save it for the tome I am currently penning entitled "The Laughing Place and You: Six Minutes to Tighter, Firmer Abs"

I am hoping the abs part will sell it.

Happy Birthday John's yet to be named four year old!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Daily Figment 43

daily_figment_02John Frost, over at The Disney Blog, has initiated a birthday contest for all of his readers: answer the questions, put a link to his blog and e-mail him when it is posted. Of course, the Disney Geeks have answered the call (even though Grumpwurst beat us to it here and here)!

Oh, yeah. You can win one of three really cool prizes.

  1. Have you ever celebrated your birthday at a Disney theme park? If so, tell us about it.
    Nope. I have not had the opportunity to visit during August. But I will celebrate each member of my family's birthday as the years pass.
  2. What is your favorite or most useful tip for guests of Disney's theme parks?
    Read. Whether it is your favorite guidebook (ding), blog, or forum. Read, read, read. Also, don't hesitate to contact people that write blogs and post in forums. They are people just like you and me, but with a little more theme park experience. (I should add that you should listen, too. Lou; Eric & Dan; Nathan, Tim and Jackie O. But reading is way more important and it is fundamental.)
  3. What is your favorite Disney theme park attraction or show and why?
    I will need to answer theme park attraction and show. Splash Mountain is my favorite (with the Haunted Mansion and Star Tours coming up close). Splash is one of those perfect rides. Great theming throughout (even the queue), incredible music and wonderful show elements. Plus, everyone remembers the first time they saw the Zip-A-Dee Lady. Talk about the ultimate finish.
    For shows? Gosh. I really love Mickey's Philharmagic but the winner is Muppet Vision 3D, flippers down. Why? Best. Pre-show. Ever. Seriously. Muppets and Disney. Probably the only thing better is Star Wars and Disney. Oh wait; Star Wars, Muppets and Disney. Now, that would rock.



By the way, if The Disney Blog is not on your daily Disney to-do, it should be. John writes one of the best Disney blogs for news, original content and links to other great Disney-related blogs. You have no idea how excited I was the first time I made it into one of John's Morning Roundups. Besides, he is super nice!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Daily Figment 42

daily_figment_02Go Disney Channel!

Disney's Mouse Is Ratings Big Cheese

Anthony Crupi

AUGUST 14, 2007 -

Disney Channel racked up its fifth consecutive ratings win, topping all basic cable networks in prime time with an average delivery of 3.06 million viewers.

According to Nielsen Media Research data for the week ended August 12, the Mouse continued its two-year streak in the kids 6-11 and ‘tweens 9-14 demo, averaging 1.29 million and 1.07 million viewers respectively.

The non-ad-supported Disney Channel notched eight of basic cable’s top 20 rated programs last week, posting its biggest numbers with the Friday night premiere of the theatrical Ella Enchanted, which drew just under 5 million viewers between 8 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. The net also continued to draw a crowd with its original series, Hannah Montana and The Suite Life of Zach & Cody.


So, even though I am no where near this demographic, it is a good sign for the Walt Disney Company. The Teen and Tween demographics are two of the hottest properties out there. Snagging those two is great for the company; not only for advertising dollars and brand recognition, but for future growth.

I still wish that the Disney Channel would start re-running the old Vault Disney shows, though.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Daily Figment 41 - Puzzle Watch



My sons and I bought this torture device, er, puzzle for mommy.

I don't remember if it was a Christmas, birthday or just because present. I just remember seeing the puzzle and convincing the 8 year old that he and mommy would have fun with it.

A word of warning: I am not a puzzle aficionado. I can hardly stand the chunky cardboard puzzles that my children played with when they were toddlers. You know, the puzzles with only eight or nine pieces. So, this one is a Mickey photomosaic puzzle, and I quote from the box: "Thousands of miniature Disney Movie Frames combine to make one awesome portrait!" Well, alright-ey, then! Thousands. Thousands of tiny little pieces. Each with a different scene from a Disney film. I will stick to reading books, thank you very much!

She's been working on this in her spare time (about once a month--ha!) and we think that she started in February 2007.


This picture is from last night. I would have given up long before I even opened the box! I will keep everyone updated on the progress. I can't wait to frame it and hang it somewhere in the house. But not in our Mickey Mouse bathroom.