Friday, November 30, 2007

Book update: The Collector's Encyclopedia of Disneyana

The Collector's Encyclopedia of Disneyana looks like a cool resource to have. It does focus a lot on the toys and collectibles from the 1930's, '40's and '50's. Tons of pictures with descriptions. Since it is a 1992 edition, i wouldn't use it for values, per se. But it will be fun to do a little window shopping with it!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Daily Figment 116: It's a Mongello World After All!

I just finished listening to Lou Mongello's Audio Guide to Walt Disney World: Main Street USA.

There are plenty of books that Andrew and I want to recommend for your Disney Geeks' Wish List, but when I listened to this, I knew I needed to tell everyone about it. You definitely need to buy this for yourself (and your best friends) for Christmas.

I consider this Audio Guide to be one of the best ways to virtually explore the park. Imagine having the author of two Walt Disney World trivia books give you a personal guided tour. Lou starts at the entrance to the Magic Kingdom, takes us through the Railroad Station and into the Town Square. All the while, Lou talks about the details, the stories and the little things that make Main Street USA such an amazing place. You learn the back stories of shops, the reasons behind the names and why Main Street USA looks like it does.
The Audio Guide clocks in at just under two hours (slightly longer than his weekly show) and you will love every second of it. The Audio Guide follows the same philosophy behind the WDW Radio Show. Lou wants nothing more than to help you have a great vacation. He shares the little details with you in hopes that you will slow down a bit, look up and take in everything around you.

If you're still not convinced that you need this CD, think of it as an extended DSI that you can use while you plan your vacation, workout, commute or even share it with your family (but you should buy them a separate copy). Or whenever you need some Vitamin M.

My nine year-old thought that the Audio Guide was cooler than a map and it would help us get around faster. When we were listening to it on the way home from school, I had to keep pausing it to discuss what Lou was talking about. Lou's description of Marceline caused us to spend time talking about Walt's early life and why Main Street looks like it does.

Lou presents so many details in the Audio Guide that you will have to listen to it more than once.
Head over to Lou's site to purchase your copy (or bug him to purchase one at MouseFest). I already have it loaded onto my MP3 player for the drive down to MouseFest next week.

I also wanted to point out something cool about the artwork. Our good friend Jeff Pepper, at 2719 Hyperion, created the artwork for the CD. Not only is he Lou's sidekick and Dreamboy, but he is a very talented graphic artist. He also created our very cool logo at the top of our page. Jeff rocks!

Book Update: The Art of Walt Disney

The Art of Walt Disney World: From Mickey Mouse to the Magic Kingdom by Christopher Finch is one of the classic Disney books that gets revised fairly often. You have to be careful if you go to purchase one, since there are so many different types of editions. The newest edition to my collection is the Concise Edition. It is only 160 pages, whereas the revised edition is 506 pages.

What I like about the book is that it is a good introduction to the Walt Disney Company and the major areas of entertainment through the years. Animation, live-action, television and the theme parks are all covered.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Daily Figment 115: Zip-A-Dee River Run

For those of you who have been hanging around awhile, you know that The Disney Geeks love the Disney Mountains. In last week's poll question, Splash Mountain was voted the second favorite Disney mountain by you. We hit you with Expedition Everest first because of its win, but this week we bring you some tasty tidbits about the runner-up, Splash Mountain.

Michael Eisner became a proponent of building Splash Mountain the first time he saw the models that the Imagineers had built. It was a tenuous time for the Imagineers as their budget had been strangled by previous Disney bosses. The timely entrance of Eisner and his immediate buy-in to the Splash Mountain concept may have saved the Imagineers. See the quote from Disney War in our previous post, The Daily Figment 27. In fact, Eisner is credited with naming the attraction as well as suggesting it be presented as a mountain. Its working name was the Zip-A-Dee River Run. Marty Sklar recalls Eisner wanting to name the ride after the surprise hit Splash with Tom Hanks and Darryl Hannah that Disney lucked into. He even suggested adding Hannah's mermaid character to the attraction. Imagineers waffled on the name but held fast to the long understood and respected "Darryl Hannah ruins any attraction....guaranteed" mentality that permeated flume ride construction methods since the early 1400's.
Eisner tested the patience of the Imagineers by bringing his teenage son to the initial showing of the Splash Mountain model, calling his son an 'expert on theme park rides'. He was, in fact, their target market. Eisner's 14-year old son bought in once he saw the ride had the world's longest flume drop. This record was previously held by Andre the Giant's bathroom.

When the ride was nearing completion, Eisner insisted on the first test ride. He was covered in trash bags because the ride still had wet issues after the final descent. The ride passed his test as he asked to go again after the conclusion of the first test. Other accounts have Eisner getting drenched and after the ride saying he loved it but that the water was too much.

Hmmm....Eisner in trash prophetic.

The attraction has made residence in every Magic Kingdon-style park, except Hong Kong Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. In Toyko Disney, Splash Mountain has significantly reduced splash due to the colder weather (and the fact that the Japanese patrons do not like getting wet at theme parks).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Daily Figment 114: World's Fair

Hat tip to Boing Boing for this link to Wired.

We've posted before about the articles that Jeff Pepper has written at 2719 Hyperion about the World's Fairs of 1939-1940 and 1964-1965. If you've been paying attention to both of our blogs, then you are aware of the importance of both of these World's Fairs on Disneyland and Epcot.

Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln, The Carousel of Progress and It's a Small World were all rides created by Disney for the 1964-1965 World's Fair and imported to Disneyland after the Fair. Disney also created a ride for Ford called The Magic Skyway, but Ford would not allow the ride to be relocated to Disneyland. Disney was able to bring the dinosaur animatronics to Disneyland to add to the railroad train scene after Tomorrowland for the Grand Canyon/Primeval World diorama.

If we jump back a little further to the 1939 World's Fair, we can start to see where the Disney Imagineers found a lot of their inspiration for the Epcot Center Pavilions. I won't go into too much detail, since Jeff has done a wonderful job of taking a look at specific attractions.

If you read Jeff's article and then take a look at the article and videos on the Wired site, you can see the similarities between the General Motor's Futurama Pavilion from 1939 and the 1983 Horizons Pavilion at Epcot Center.

Both Horizons and Futurama had a positive message about the future and what we could expect. In 1939, GM was forecasting that everyone would own a car and that the National Highway System would provide effortless and congestion-free transportation. To a family coming out of the depression in 1939, this would be an extremely positive message about the future. If you remember Horizons, it still looked at technology, but with three distinct thoughts. There was the historical future with very Jules Verne-inspired ideas, a whimsical look at the future from the 1950's and 1960's and finally, a more more modern approach using technology as a communication tool. A lot of the ideas found in Horizons dealt with technology enriching our lives, mostly through video-chat but also with advances in agriculture and technology. Life in space, undersea and throughout the earth shows that we still need technology to bring us all together.

Finally, let's take another look at 2719 Hyperion. Jeff wrote a post back in early 2007 about his dreams for a New Horizon Pavilion. Enjoy!

Futurama graphics appearing on this post courtesy of 2719 Hyperion.

Visit The Journal of Ride Theory and Dannys Land. Dan was interviewed by Wire for the Futurama article.

Book Update - Disney Picture Dictionary

Here is one that my wife won in a multi-book auction. Obviously geared towards the Disney Geek-In-Training, it has over 900 entries, most of which are fully illustrated.

Here is a picture for my wife which always makes me think of the funniest animated scene ever. "I can still hear her little voice."

Monday, November 26, 2007

Daily Figment 113 - 1976 Transportation & Ticket Center

6. Transportation & Ticket Center - Your "port of entry" for Walt Disney World adventures. Monorail trains, ferry boats and motor trams carry arriving guests from this area across and around the Seven Seas Lagoon to the Magic Kingdom. Ticket booths for the Magic Kingdom, Guided Tours, Guest Relations, Public Lockers and Lost & Found are located here, as is the "pet motel" - the Walt Disney World Kennel Club.

--p. 11 The Story of Walt Disney World

The Transportation & Ticket Center was created with the intent of allowing day visitors and resort guests to leave their car while visiting the Magic Kingdom or while on a week-long vacation. You park and use Disney transportation for your entire stay! No need to drive anywhere. Of course, if you visit any internet forum the Disney transportation vs. car debate has pundits on both sides.

As often as not, the rumors always surface about expanding the monorail line to the Disney Studios and the Animal Kingdom. When the Epcot loop was built, the running total per mile was estimated at one million dollars. Wow. That's a lot of cheese. Originally, the monorail was planned to travel to the Lake Buena Vista area, or the Downton Disney Marketplace as we know it today. As what frequently happens, the best-laid plans of mouse and men go astray. This plan was shelved after the energy crisis on the late 1970's.

Meet our Neighbor: Foxxfur Chapter Three

It is time to wrap up the final installment with blogging neighbor Foxxfur over at Passport to Dreams Old & New.

You can peruse chapter one and two. Don't forget our previous Meet Our Neighbor participants:

> What is the most significant architectural feature of WDW?

The castle, of course. It's the thing people want to see.

> What is the weakest Epcot country?

Despite my instinct to say American Adventure, which I find pedestrian and think the design of the building is horrid (I'm also allergic to the Voices of Liberty), I admit that people like it, so I vote for Italy, which offers a lot of... well, nothing, for everyone. It wasn't even finished, and boy is it obvious! UK has a similar problem, in addition to being an aesthetic outlier, due to the fact that the bulk of the structures are around you the minute you enter it. Since the cash to build that Music Hall behind the park in the back of the pavilion never appeared, it's never really felt whole.

OK, let's be honest. The Africa pavilion SUCKS and needs to be demolished.

> What is your favorite Disney guilty pleasure?

The possibilities! Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo? Monkeys Go Home? The Gnome Mobile? Return of Flubber? What to choose?

I admit I'm at something of a loss on this since my definition of a "guilty pleasure” is rather obtuse, so I'm going to go ahead and say it'd be Maelstrom. The attraction ought to be awful - it has no cohesion, no pace, is too short, has terrible writing, and an awful last scene, but I'm happy to see her every time. For those of you who usually run through the theatre, stay for the movie next time: the nonsense of the attraction is actually extended by the film, where we are told, through Soviet style film syntax, that Norwegians flying a helicopter is the same thing as Vikings rowing a boat!

> Where do you spend most of your time online when in the Disney-sphere? (ed. note--this was a clear cry for attention from

These days I just kind of make the circuit through my blogs and log off, minus an occasional stop at MouseBits or Jim Hill. I can't deal with forums anymore, since the airing of bottomless opinions is pretty tiresome to me by now. I'd much rather be drawing or watching a film or whatever it is I actually do with my spare time. =)

> You are the CEO and you have to cut one division: film, animation, parks, music, ABC, or ESPN. Where do you start cutting?

Jeez. I'd just LOVE to cut ESPN, being an eternal enemy of sports, but I know money comes in there. I'd like to be wise and cut film, since Disney hasn't produced anything good in years, but I understand that some people actually liked whatever than fantasy film with the big cat, possibly a leopard, and oh yeah....that other one with the guy with eyeliner battling Cthulu. Yeah. So that could be a bad idea.

Here's a radical idea: cut the parks and sell them back to WDI. Betcha maintenance standards wouldincrease!

> Do you have any money we can borrow or have?

No, but I do have a basket of unclaimed Halloween candy, mostly mini M&Ms and Mary Janes...

LOL. Aren't I supposed to be the starving artist and you the Lauded Librarian? ;) And Company, of course...

> What do you consider the most historically significant or defining moment in Disney history?

Well I can't really say I have an opinion on the other parts of Disney history since I'm not, nor do I claim to be, an expert on those, but I think the biggest thing in themed design history is probably Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln - the first convincing but fake person ever. That was a real moment where WED showed the world something new.

> How do you feel about Disney's stance to remove Song of the South and other period specific pieces from its association?

Well first of all I understand that I apparently have a thicker skin than most when dealing with racial issues, but I really think the hoopla surrounding Song of the South is grossly overvalued. The animated sequences and James Baskin are wonderful, but the film is a crashing bore. There's live action and animation combined in Three Caballeros also, why doesn't anyone care about that?

I guess I really don't understand what's so terrible about the film. A snotty young white kid learns to be a better person through the cultural experience of the Southern black folks. Uncle Remus is one of the few significant positive black images presented on screen in the 1940's. He may be a fictional stereotype, but he has heart and integrity.

I think it's sad that there isn't a better rounded black onscreen image to cull from in the era; between the extremes of Stepin Fetchit and Paul Robeson, there wasn't a lot. So I understand that the reason to attack Remus is that there is no other representation of that kind of figure around; white characters and white images abound in cinema, but black figures are the narrowest margin until the late 50's. Still, I don't think attacking a generally positive, moral, serious and integral black character when his only other competition is Stepin Fetchit or Eddie Anderson isn't really reclaiming much ground.

Is the world ready for Song of the South again? I don't know. I don't hear much apologizing for Haddie McDaniel's character in Gone With the Wind these days, but then again, that film may finally have been absorbed in the cultural ether of banality from which it emerged in 1939. I was recently watching King Vidor's really excellent 1929 film "Hallelujah!", which is a morality play set in the world of Southern black culture, music and religion. Everyone's still apologizing for that very intelligent and naturalistic depiction of a certain era, so Gone With the Wind may be an abnormality.

I think when Disney finally lets Song of the South out again, the world will collectively go "Oh... that's what were upset about all this time?", shrug, and go on. It really is not a good movie.

> If you could change one thing about a Disney Movie, what movie would it be and what would you change?

I had to think long and hard on this one, but here she is:

When I was a kid seeing Hunchback of Notre Dame in a theater is probably the key thing that sparked my interest in much of what obsesses me today. That first shot, where the camera rushes towards the cathedral through the clouds with the chorus chanting in Latin and the bells tolling, floored my eleven year old self and I still haven't really recovered from the power of that moment. That's probably the film that made me aware that people can *choose* to do things in films, that they don't just happen, and that every moment, especially in animation, is there for a very specific reason.

OK, so that having been said, Hunchback is a film uneasily perched on the cusp of greatness; its' need to still be the 1996 Disney summer blockbuster means the seriousness and artistic integrity of the film occasionally succumbs to nonsense. I don't have a big problem with the Festival of Fools being silly, nor do I have a problem with the Gargoyles being silly, but their song and occasional interjections, especially in the otherwise splendid "Heaven's Light", is too much.

So I say: scale back the gargoyles a bit, and the film is really way beyond Walt's standard. It's probably the most artistically significant film Disney made during its' second major animation era.

Passport Recommended Reading List:

We would like to take a moment and thank Foxxfur for her contributions to our site. We are going to make a formal anouncement about her post on Imaginerding's sister site, The Minute-By-Minute Guide, but we felt like we should tell everyone about it now. She has volunteered to write posts for the blog about how a local sees the Walt Disney World theme parks. We are very excited about this opportunity!

Don't forget to stop by her site and leave her some Disney Geek love.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Daily Figment 112 - Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination

Book Review

Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination by Neal Gabler

Clocking in at 851 pages, this is the longest non-Harry Potter book that I have ever read. The text itself is only 633 pages with an additional 171 pages dedicated to Mr. Gabler's notes and research. A bibliography, acknowledgements and the index round out the rest of the book.

This release was heralded as a true, in-depth look at Walt Disney's life. Not quite the glossed-over corporate biography by Bob Thomas nor as dark and mis-leading as Hollywood's Dark Prince. It has also been compared to The Animated Man by Michael Barrier.

Mr. Gabler spends a lot of time discussing Walt's early career in animation. I came away from the book with one over-arching theme: control. According to Mr. Gabler, Walt spent most of his time and creative energies looking for control. Whether it was running from his father's control or seeking his own by creating animated worlds and theme parks; Walt was always looking for a perfect and controlled world. The work is broken into four main parts: we see his early life until he leaves Kansas City; the animated days in Hollywood; the live-action films; and, ultimately, Disneyland and the beginnings of the Florida Project. In each era, we see Walt rise to greatness and break barriers until he ultimately loses feeling for the project(s) or loses his ability to control every aspect. Mr. Gabler supposes that Walt actually lost interested in animated films after completing Snow White. He realized he could never actually top it.
I would recommend this title if you have read other Disney biographies and you are looking for more information about his animation career and how he ran the studios. It paints a picture of Walt that doesn't jibe with the corporate symbol that has become the myth. After reading the biography, Walt does seem more intent on controlling everything and it is obvious that the animation strike hurt him deeply. He never quite regained the trust in his animators after that.

I will reserve full judgment on which Disney biography to recommend until I have read Michael Barrier's The Animated Man. For now, Gabler's work is very exhaustive and focuses very heavily on the period from the 1920's to the latter part of the 1940's. For us theme park junkies, there just isn't a lot of information available on Walt's activities at Disneyland. Granted, Disneyland and the plans for Project X only took up about thirteen years of his life.

It is a very compelling, detailed and well-documented work. You will learn a lot (I did) and will leave the book with a greater appreciation for the fact that the Disney Studios were never quite solvent until after Disneyland.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Geek Link: Disney Geek Shout-Out!

I've made a lot of great friends since Andy and I started Imaginerding (back when it was Disney Geeks).

Good friend Richard at Photos From the Parks has posted a special picture for me and a challenge to all the readers out there.

Head over there and see if you can figure out the detail.

Thanks, Richard!

P.S. Don't forget to leave him some Disney Geek love (comments, people--we love comments!)

Book Update - The Disney That Never Was

Disney That Never Was: The Stories and Art of Five Decades of Unproduced Animation looks like it is an an absolutely amazing book. The book is filled with concept artwork and the stories behind the stories never told. It will take a long three-day weekend to take it all in. This would make the perfect Christmas present for any good animation buff.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Book Update - The Disney Way

There hasn't been a flurry of Book Updates in awhile because I haven't wanted to inundate you with so many posts (especially with all of the great Geek Links). I have about 15 books my wife got me over the past two weeks, so some updating is in order!

The Disney Way appeared in 2002 with a slew of other Disney-management style titles. Eisner was at the top of his game in the mid to late 1990's and everyone was trying to cash in. This edition is the 2007 updated version. In addition to Disney, the book also covers the Men's Wearhouse, The Cheesecake Factory, Griffin Hospital and others.

I haven't read this edition, but I do remember reading the 2002 version. It was an enjoyable read and a lot of the principles outlined would benefit most businesses. You could even apply the Dream, Believe, Dare, Do philosophy to your personal life.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Daily Figment 111 - Wish List Double Header

The day after Thanksgiving is typically one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

We don't want all of you Disney Geeks being left out in the cold, searching through used book stores, dollar stores and electronic stores for your favorite Disney Geek. We want to share three more items to add to your Disney Geek Wishlist that you can order from the comfort of your home.

The first one up--are you ready for this--is a DVD. That's right, we are recommending something besides a book for once (even Ray could watch this one).

Modern Marvels: Walt Disney World is a two-hour long DVD about the history, construction, secrets and general awesomeness that is Walt Disney World. Hands down, it is one of the best video-related productions on WDW that we have seen. Each park is covered, including a lot of behind-the-scenes information and construction. Anyone who has visited WDW will enjoy this DVD. Trust us, you will learn something by watching it. And besides, what else are you going to do for two hours?

Our next two items are so well-known that we bet each and every one of you already owns both volumes.

Good friend Lou Mongello has written two of the best WDW trivia books available. Filled with so many trivia questions, you'll wonder how he does it all: award-winning podcast host, author, Disney Kingpin, forum administrator and Jeff's sidekick. Wait. Strike that. Reverse it.

When you delve into one of Lou's books, you will find a hard time putting it back down. The books are broken down by sections, so you could take the books into the parks and entertain your whole group while you wait in line. You could have trivia contests to see who gets to sit with whom. You could challenge everyone at the table to trivia questions to see who has to pick up the bill. You could even alienate your wife and children by spouting off so much useless trivia.
Oh, wait. That was me.

Anyway, both of these volumes are amazing and they deserve to be under your tree this year. If you are going to be at MouseFest, stop by his table and buy a copy. He does have a wife and kids to support. Trust us, if you enjoy Lou's podcast (I know you do), you need to have both of these titles. The amount of information he presents (more than just trivia--the answers are mini-essays at times) is awe-inspiring.

Also, Lou needs to publish a third volume of the trivia book so that he can put his son on the cover. We would hate for him to grow up and need counseling.

Geek Link: These Are a Few of My Favorite Things!

Two of my biggest passions: Walt Disney World and power pop music. In the early 1990's, Andy and I were in a band together, called Vertigo Joyride (you can see us at the bottom of this post).

One of my favorite bands is Powerspace. I was checking their website this morning and I was pleasantly surprised to see this Holiday Greeting from the band. Only one way to explain it: Spinal Tap with ADHD meets Walt Disney World! It is a truly frenetic look at Walt Disney World in under 4 minutes. I think these guys deserve an Official Disney Geeks Certificate!

Happy Thanksgiving!

For a little more musical fun...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Daily Figment 110- Seven Seas Lagoon

We continue our series about disussing the 1976 map of Walt Disney World found on pages 10 and 11 of The Story of Walt Disney World.

5. Seven Seas Lagoon - A 200-acre, man-made lagoon for sailing, swimming and special nighttime water shows.

--p. 11, The Story of Walt Disney World

Bay Lake (on the other side of the Contemporary) was one of the original areas that caught Walt's attention while he was flying over the area. When the Imagineers were looking at the land for Phase I, the location of the future Seven Seas Lagoon was actually low wetlands. Several areas were not stable enough for building. It was decided to turn the area into a man made lagoon that would connect to Bay Lake in the east. When Bay Lake was drained, they removed the silt, roots and muck. Over seven million cubic yards of fill from Bay Lake and the lagoon were used to create the height needed for the Magic Kingdom's famed Utilidors.

Beautiful and pure white sand was found at the bottom of Bay Lake. It was used to line the four and a half miles of beaches that encompass the lake and the lagoon. Both bodies of water were then filled with water from the surrounding wetland, as well as fingerling bass.

Before opening, Dick Nunis fought for a $400,000 wave machine for the Seven Seas Lagoon that would lap waves on the shore of the beach at the Polynesian. Dick hoped that professional surfers would be able to put on shows and that children and body surfers would be able to enjoy the inland ocean experience. The wave machine worked, although it mostly eroded the Polynesian's beach. As a side note, Dick Nunis would ride the first wave at the opening of Typhoon Lagoon, almost 17 years later.

Since October 26, 1971, the Electrical Water Pageant has made the nightly trek across the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake. It was also the inspiration for the Main Street Electrical Parade, which premiered at Disneyland in 1972 and the Magic Kingdom in 1977.

Additional Geek Resources:
--pp. 29, 75, 78, Since the World Began by Jeff Kurtti, 1996
-p. 92, Window on Main Street: 35 Years of Creating Happiness at Disneyland Park by Van Arsdale France, 1991

Book Update: The Disneylands That Never Were

The Disneylands That Never Were arrived last week. It looks like it will be a fun read. According to the jacket, it purports to discuss the rides, attractions and shows that never quite made it off of the drawing board.

I'll have a full review soon!

Geek Links: Star Wars and the Daily Roundup

Jack Spence at The "World" According to Jack has posted a great series of shots of the new Jedi Academy Training Stage outside of the Star Tours ride at the Disney's-MGM Hollywood Studios. Check it out and leave some Disney Geek comment love.

We have also seen the glorious return of The Daily Roundup from John Frost at the always impressive The Disney Blog. Many thanks go to Ray for bringing back this Grumptastic part of The Disney Blog. Stop by the Disney Blog and leave John some Disney Geek love.

For those of you not aware, John also shares his favorite Disney-related blog items at his Google Reader Shared Items list. The Shared Reader items are similar to what John used to do with his Daily Roundups, but not as nicely summarized.

Geek Link: Bedroom Mural

Cartoon Brew has the Disney Geekiest bedroom mural for any Disney Geek (especially those Disney Geeks in training!).

I am sure that Jeff's entire house looks like this!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Daily Figment 109 - For Those About to Rock!

Rock Band has just been released for next-gen video game consoles. Not quite as hyped as Halo 3 (yes, we did Finish the Fight!), Rock Band is being anticipated by more gamers simply because the play is so much more intuitive and easy to grasp. A good friend of mine bought it today and gave it two very sore thumbs up (and eight sore fingers)!

So, what is the Disney connection?

I'm glad you asked.

Before Harmonix became uber-famous from creating games like Guitar Hero and Guitar Hero II, they did a little work for the Mouse.

In their own words:

Harmonix was founded in 1995 by Alex Rigopulos (CEO) and Eran Egozy (CTO), who met while working in the computer music group at the MIT Media Laboratory. Alex and Eran formed Harmonix initially not to develop videogames, but rather to create new ways for non-musicians to experience the unique joy that comes from making music. Before developing videogames, the company created interactive music attractions for theme parks, including Disney's Epcot Center, and other location-based entertainment venues. These exhibits allowed users to improvise music simply by moving their hands in the air.

After much scouring, I was never able to put my finger on exactly what they had done. I assume that it is from the Imagination Pavilion Image Works area. Probably the What If Labs. But then again, I will wait until I hear from Lou or Jeff! When we visited the Imagination Pavilion in 2004, the five year-old had the best time playing in the What If Labs. Many of the attractions made music and sounds, but I can't put my finger on anything that allowed you to play music by waving your arms.

I wonder if this one will be waiting under the Christmas tree this year?

Geek Link: Things That Make You Go Ha!

Every once in a while, you find something really funny on the Interweb (go figure!).

When I saw today's post over at the Disney Hub, I thought I was in store for another great Jeffica-style post (Jeff / Jessica). I love those posts and I was wondering what it would be.

Head there now and take a look at it. He found a great historically-accurate picture of Attila the Hun, er, Mouseketeer.

You know the drill! Make sure and leave him some Disney Geek love. Everyone can use a lot more love this time of year!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Daily Figment 108 - Poll Results

The winner of our latest poll was Expedition Everest with 43% of the votes. Splash Mountain came in a close second with 40%.

When the Animal Kingdom opened in 1998, there was no rollercoaster for the opening day enthusiasts to enjoy. Instead, parkgoers were treated to a mix of incredible nature scenes and a detailed world like nothing Disney had done before. The only thrill ride on the early menu was Dinosaur, a ride vehicle synced to action filled scenes guessed it....dinosaurs.

In addition to being short on thrill rides, Animal Kingdom was short on attractions around the whole park. The first mega attraction to hit the ground was a planned dragon coaster. However, when Imagineers dug a little deeper, they returned to the roots that made the parks resonate with so many. They turned to the concept of the mountain as the attraction. The team project leader, Joe Rohde, obviously felt a strong attachment to the mountain based attraction concept:

The mountain is a very, very potent mythological symbol, a symbol that if you experience this, something will happen to you, you will change.
Two very's. Now that's potent! In true Imagineering fashion, Disney went ultra potent with their symbols. Mount Everest and the Yeti combined to create a large, fast thrill ride with a few surprises and a close encounter with a very un-Disney like beast. There is nothing tame about this Yeti.

To create a credible environment, Imagineers, along with scientist and biologists, made several research trips to the Himalayas. They concentrated on places where the Yeti lore was historically focused. They talked to locals, immersed themselves in the local mythology, and ate Himalayan dirt. (Ed. note- I made that last part up. I am sure they ate something on their travels, but I doubt it was dirt.)

When you enter the largest mountain in Florida, you are actually enjoying the harmony of three separate structures. The first structure is a rigid steel frame that supports the outside facade. The second is a flexible ride track that is built to give and sway with the constant force of speeding coasters. The third is the support for the massive Yeti, a complex animatronic that serves as the largest audio-animatronic in the world!

Special thanks to Ray over at Grumpy's Hollow for the astounding Expedition Everest pictures.

Geek Link: MouseFest

Mike Scopa at and the WDWToday podcast has great article posted about planning for MouseFest 2007 (less than 15 days till we leave) over at The View from Scopa Towers.

Check it out and leave him some Disney Geek love!

Meet Our Neighbor: Foxxfur Chapter Two

We shared the first set of Foxxfur's Meet Our Neighbor questions last week. This week we share the second set of questions!

Don't forget our other Meet Our Neighbor posts:

> What is your favorite place to be at WDW?

Ah-HA! Trickier question. On the beach of the Polynesian in the late summer afternoon, World Showcase on a cold winter day before Christmas, Downtown Disney Marketplace very early in the morning and in Caribbean Plaza at dusk.

> What is your favorite restaurant?

Before quality began to slip there I loved Spoodles. Then it was Citricos, still a very special eatery to me. I was utterly bowled over by Jiko earlier this year and went back in short order. The quality of the food and the expertise of the wait staff really staggered me.

Did you know that Disney doesn't know how to brew coffee? Places like Boma and Kona Cafe offer French press pots of coffee for an OK price, but if you ask them to brew the coffee to your specifications, they'll fight you on it. Disney trains the staff to brew the coffee six minutes, which will turn even the finest, lightest roast beans to sludge (by contrast, when I brew coffee in a press pot I wait 3 minutes maximum). So I was staggered when the Jiko staff asked me how long to brew the Kenya AA in the press pot, I asked for what they thought, and they responded *two minutes*. As a result of this Jiko is the only place I've ever had a properly prepared African coffee.

Kona Cafe's press pot is made with a Kona blend with a surprisingly high amount of real Kona in it, one of the most valued beans in the world. It's worth your $6 if you can get them to prepare it right!

> What is the first thing you want to do on your next trip?

To Magic Kingdom? Ride Haunted Mansion.. see Country Bear Jamboree... walk down Main Street. Climb the treehouse.

> What is your favorite fireworks show?

I don't like anything loud so, as you can imagine my favorite fireworks show is one not seen and not heard. I run to Impressions de France if Illuminations is coming up.

Despite this, I cried my way right through Disneyland's Remember... Dreams Come True (those parts that weren't Wishes, of course).

> Where did you develop your love of Disney?

Walt Disney World, undoubtedly. Disney Afternoon helped me get my fix when we were back in Connecticut, especially Tale Spin and Gargoyles and Chip n' Dale Rescue Rangers. Later it was Disney Channel and Vault Disney. Finally I just moved to Florida.

> If you had to choose parks or movies, which would it be?

Umm... is there a third option? Like death or something?

> Which character do you associate with the most?

As I've said, Minnie, when I'm feeling playful and happy. Marian, when I'm feeling romantic or sensual.
The other character I love is SEGA's Amy Rose, who represents, I feel, my more aggressive, competitive side.

They're my girls, and they make me happy.

> Does any forensic evidence exist linking you to the Kennedy assassination?

No, but I've always wanted to restage the Kennedy assassination in the Magic Kingdom: the embankment replacing 20K could be the Grassy Knoll; next to that, between Mad Tea Party and Toontown, is a big green fence... and what's right across the way? The

Actually I once wrote a short film where James Stewart arrives in a courtroom to make the case linking the Kennedy assassination with MAPO and the Hall of Presidents, since the real presidents are actually MAPO robots manufactured by Communists... shot in
Oliver Stone type nonsense-o-vision!

> Would you make any major changes to the current design of any of the parks?

I wish Splash Mountain wasn't in Frontierland, perhaps an aesthetic link between Fantasyland and Liberty Square... no, sorry, that sucks now that I think about it... the best place would be for it way behind Big Thunder, back in Tom Sawyer's wilderness...

I'd also like to make MGM's layout less obnoxiously confusing.

Passport to Dreams Recommended Reading List, Part Two:

Next Week: The last and final chapter--for now!