Monday, February 28, 2011

Celebrating 40 Years of Walt Disney World: CTX Time Rover, A Warning of the Future!

I was invited to be part of the Main Street Gazette Round Table about time travel and Walt Disney World.

Our assignment from Ryan:
Roundtable Topic: If you could have been at one event from the history of Walt Disney World, what moment would you have liked to be a witness to and why?

It was a fun exercise, but limiting myself to 350 words was a fairly painful process. While ruminating on the post, I thought of all of the different times I would love to have visited the Vacation Kingdom of the World. One day, which will remain dateless until the Archives can confirm it, was during one of Walt's visits to the future Florida Property.

Admiral Joe Fowler (l) and Walt walk the property.
I wouldn't spend too much time harassing Uncle Walt but I would let him know that the Florida Project was going to be amazing and that his dreams were going to come true. And then I would warn Sklar, Hench, et al. that One day a crazy, wild-eyed scientist or a kid may show up asking about--er a crazy, wild-eyed Paramount Executive would take over the company and build too many hotels and way too many gift shops. He would save the company but would also render everything null that made the Vacation Kingdom special. And make sure that his contract is only for 10 years.

And this is where we will put all of the FastPass machines...
The following photo shows Marty Sklar, unknown executive (General Joe Potter?) and Marvin Davis (?) checking out the future site of the Castle just after groundbreaking.
Sklar (l) walks like a Floridian!

Make sure to check out Chris' response over at the Gazette. It is amazing how great minds think alike!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Blu-ray Review: Bambi - The Prince of the Forest Returns!

Bambi (Two-Disc Diamond Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging)

Should I say it?

You'll be twitterpated by this Blu-ray!

Ok, that was pretty bad. Still, this is a fantastic film and is a welcome addition to the Disney Blu-ray collection. As I have mentioned previously, animated films shine on Blu-ray and Bambi is no different. The opening forest scene shot with the multi-plane camera is breathtaking and as 3D in presentation as most modern films.

There is nothing I can say that hasn't already been said by the multitude of reviews since the film's release in 1942--almost 70 years ago. It is what it is; Bambi is an undeniable classic and groundbreaking piece of animation history.  Suffice it, the characters are amazing, the backgrounds are stunning and the orchestral soundtrack is marvelous.

Does this butterfly make my butt look big?
Let's Talk About the Extras

Disney has taken the opportunity to offer two new features: Inside Walt’s Story Meetings (Enhanced Edition) and Second Screen. In both cases, Disney has taken a step forward in realizing their own history and realizing a more true sense of interactivity.

Inside Walt's Story Meetings is a fascinating dramatization of what it might have been like to be part  of a story meeting during the Bambi planning sessions. Described as a fascinating, multi-tiered, interactive story-telling experience. Go back in time with dramatic voice re-enactments of the moments with Walt that led to the creation of this classic film. Basically, the movie plays in a picture-in-picture format while historical photos are interspersed around the screen. These are photos of the story meetings and artists that contributed to the film. At various points, you are given the option to learn more about specific areas (characters, voices, backgrounds, animation, etc.) in vignettes featuring prominent Disney Historians (J.B Kaufman, Charles Solomon, and Paula Sigman-Lowery). Inside Walt's Story Meetings is a great way of bringing the history of the Disney Studios to life.

Second Screen? Disney has obviously given a lot of thought into creating additional reasons for the consumer to purchase Bambi again (VHS, Laser disc, DVD). Obviously, with VHS, it was the ability to own the film and watch it whenever you wanted. DVD created the rise of Special Editions, Director's Cuts and amazing bonus features. With the advent of Second Screen, we have something truly interactive. From the press release:
Disney Second Screen transforms the movie watching experience by allowing viewers to explore the story behind the film perfectly synched on a second device, like an iPad™ or laptop, without interrupting their enjoyment of the movie. By accessing the Disney Second Screen companion application on their Internet-connected device, consumers are able to dive deeper into the film by engaging with key elements of the movie.

This groundbreaking new application allows users to interact with their Blu-ray™ player by simply starting the Blu-ray movie, and then syncing Disney Second Screen to the film automatically by following the easy on-screen instructions. Once connected, they can explore interactive galleries, play games, and learn interesting facts about the scenes they’re watching.

Pretty great concept, eh? Unfortunately (or fortunately, actually), I am iPad challenged, but a good friend experienced Second Screen on his iPad and had nothing but rave reviews for the application. Bill Burke at the Boston Herald provides a review of Second Screen.

So, owning Bambi on Blu-ray offers a gorgeous, hi-definition experience of this classic animated film. Stunning colors and sound create a home theater experience that you have to see to believe.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Geek-End Update, Saturday, February 26, 2011

Theme Park

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Book Review: Since the World Began by Jeff Kurtti

We continue to Celebrate 40 Years of Walt Disney World with the 1000th post at Imaginerding. For this special post, we present the review of one of the more important works published about the Vacation Kingdom. It is also one of the few official histories of the Florida property. Author Jeff Kurtti is featured frequently at Imaginerding, with good cause; his contributions to Disney literature is unparalleled. This is a book you need to own and Disney needs to consider updating.

Since the World Began, Walt Disney World: the First 25 Years by Jeff Kurtti. 192 pages, 1996.

I get a lot of questions about books that discuss the early history of Walt Disney World. There aren't many titles that explore the vacation kingdom in great detail--partially due to the size and scope of Walt Disney World. I put together a bibliography of titles that focus on Walt Disney World; any of the titles would be a great addition to your collection. One of the titles on the bibliography stands out for numerous reasons.

Since the World Began was published in 1996 to coincide with the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Walt Disney World. Until then, there had been only a handful of official Walt Disney World publications and souvenir guides; nothing that matched the scope of Since the World Began. Nothing else has even come close.

Jeff Kurtti is one of the more prolific authors to write on the subject of Disney. Currently, he is the Creative Consultant for the Walt Disney Family Museum. He has worked for Walt Disney Imagineering, the Walt Disney Company and various production companies. He is an award-winning producer and consultant. The litany of titles that Jeff has authored and created is impressive and covers so many aspects of the Disney organization: the Art of Disneyland; the Art of Walt Disney World; Walt Disney's Imagineering Legends; Disney Dossiers; the Great Movie Musical Trivia Book; How Does the Show Go on? An Introduction to the Theater; and many "The Art of " works on animated films.

In my list of all-time favorite Disney-related books, Jeff holds three of the top spots. Since the World Began, along with The Nickel Tour and The Art of Walt Disney World, is one of my favorite books.

In Jeff's own words, from the introduction:
That's where this book begins. How did a central Florida swamp become the Number One family destination in the world? Whose idea was it? Who built it? Why did they build it there? What were the events and who were the people that inspired its ideas, design, topography, attractions, landscaping, resorts--its very existence? What has this come to mean? What is it going to become? pp. 10-11
Jeff answers these questions and more in Since the World Began. He presents the work in a semi-chronological order--he divides the history based on the major developments of the vacation kingdom (i.e. Magic Kingdom, EPCOT Center, the Rest of the "World" and Future Developments). He begins with a look at Walt Disney and his dream for the Florida Project, including the importance of the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. The introduction of Disney's involvement with the World's Fair is highlighted in a side notes formula (of sorts). Presented on a light-blue background, Jeff relates relevant information throughout the book. Ranging from the very geeky (like the Reedy Creek Improvement District) to the more mundane (the hotels and recreation)--most facets of Walt Disney World are covered. After the segment on Walt's passing, Jeff looks at the major players and how the resort came to fruition.

In each section of the book, Jeff takes a detailed look at the construction and growth of the theme parks. Scattered throughout are concept drawings, paintings and photographs of attractions never built and some that are gone and remembered wistfully. The text is replete with historical detail and anecdotes that will charm any Disney enthusiast. It is obvious that Jeff is passionate about the vacation kingdom and it shines through his writing.

In addition to full-color photographs and historical details, Since the World Began offers the reader a singular look at the development of three major theme parks, more than a dozen hotels, ancillary services and a plethora of behind-the-scenes secrets. You won't find another work that offers as much detail in one place. Jeff should be lauded for the ability to distill 25 years into a moving and enveloping work.

Jeff is able to share inside stories from Imagineers and the people that worked on the various projects. We see the spark of inspiration for each park and how they grew from simple drawings to fully-realized locations. Since the book was published almost 15 years ago, much of the information has become common-place for the Disney enthusiast. This doesn't erode the book's value, it reinforces the importance of the book for the fan and the researcher.

Every Walt Disney World fan needs to own a copy of this book. It is a researcher's dream and I hope that Disney Publishing is planning a new edition of this work for the 40th anniversary in 2011.

October 2011 marks the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. The Vacation Kingdom has seen a lot of changes over the past four decades and the editorial staff at Imaginerding wants to celebrate the unique and rich history of the resort with a series of posts. A very special thanks to Celeste Cronrath for designing the series of logos. Make sure to follow her on Twitter.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Second Greatest Second Assistant Director Ever!

We continue our Celebrating 40 Years of Walt Disney World series with this post from Andrew. After a forced hiatus where he spent time lining up his four children and getting them to sing it's a small world over and over, he returns with an often overlooked detail at the Hollywood Studios. What's next for Andrew's kids? He mentioned something about a homemade version of Toy Story Mania with nerf guns and cream pies. Those poor kids...

Also, a special thanks to Celeste for creating our more humorous logo.

Take it away, Andrew!

In a previous Daily Figment, we discussed the IBSAD window on Sunset Boulevard in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Today, we are proud to induct the second member into this esteemed international brotherhood. The second greatest Second Assistant Director of all time is.....

Jeffrey Schwartz!

Admittedly, Mr. Schwartz’s SAD credits are geared towards a newer Disney audience than our first inductee, however he has a nice list of Disney related credits. Some of his work includes:
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)
  • Mars Needs Moms (2011)
  • Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience (2009)
  • Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert (2008)
  • A Christmas Carol (2009)
  • Herby Fully Loaded (2005)

Next time you are strolling down Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood Studios, look up at the window and pay homage to Jeffrey.

And as always, may the Schwartz be with you…

October 2011 marks the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. The Vacation Kingdom has seen a lot of changes over the past four decades and the editorial staff at Imaginerding wants to celebrate the unique and rich history of the resort with a series of posts. A very special thanks to Celeste Cronrath for designing the series of logos for our posts. Make sure to follow her on Twitter.
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Monday, February 21, 2011

Halyx: For Those About to Disneyland!

Right...this looks nothing like a certain Hildebrandt Star Wars poster!
Mouse Tracks: The Story of Walt Disney Records by Tim Hollis and Greg Ehrbar is an amazing look at the music of Disney and the creation and development of Walt Disney Records. It is filled with fascinating biographies of the singers and songwriters as well as descriptions of all of the released albums.

I was pleasantly surprised and intrigued to see mention of Halyx, a modern rock group that Disney created in the early 1980s. According to the authors, Disney was trying to branch out their stable of recording artists and wanted to enter the arena of rock.

The band played frequently at Disneyland and in the Los Angeles club scene. Bambi Moe (former A&R rep for Disneyland Records) states in Mouse Tracks:
They were fun. Lora's husband Tom was the keyboardist, and his keyboard was built into a golf cart he drove around on stage as the headlights flashed up into the audience. Roger Freeland, who was over six feet tall, wore a Wookie-like costume and wildly played bass. Tony Caputo, the percussionist, had a gymnastic rope so he could do somersaults and things. And Bruce Gowdy was the handsome leading man, sort of a space-age rock-and-roll guitarist to our Princess Leia type, who was Lora. The response of the Disneyland crowd was so phenomenal, it was causing the park a problem because they did not want people to get up and dance—it wasn't really allowed! Their sound was of the time, the sort of legitimate pop rock you would have heard on the radio, along the lines of Kim Carnes and Blondie.

Thanks to BANGOE for providing the image.
Due to various changes with their recording company, Halyx was eventually dropped from the Elektra/Asylum/Warner Brothers label before their first recording could be released.

Sit back and enjoy this live recording from Disneyland!

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Celebrating 40 Years of Walt Disney World History: Contemporary Construction

We continue our Celebrating 40 Years of Walt Disney World Series with a look at constructing a contemporary icon.

The Contemporary Resort is one of the most iconic buildings of Walt Disney World. As one of the innovations of the Florida Project, Disney worked with US Steel to build the Polynesian and Contemporary Resorts. At the time, US Steel was very excited to be involved with the Walt Disney World project. Although the business separation after the hotels were built was not as amicable as hoped, US Steel went into the project hoping to create efficient and inexpensive building models. They were also interested in using their partnership with Walt Disney Productions to enhance their image. US Steel has helped to create other iconic structures, including the Unisphere at the 1964-1965 World's Fair.
Assembly plant.
The exciting innovations Walt Disney envisioned when he said Walt Disney World would  be "a showcase to the world for the ingenuity and imagination ofAmerican free enterprise," are nowhere better illustrated than in construction ofthe first two hotels. Here, steel-framed unitized or modular construction has been given its first major showcase. 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."
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.

What follows is a minute and a half public relations piece for US Steel that focuses on the company and its modern building techniques. You do get to glimpse some of the interior furnishings near the end of the commercial and there are some great shots of the rooms being constructed.

The following two shots show the US Steel building in its current incarnation. The second shot shows the plant in relation to the Contemporary Resort.

October 2011 marks the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. The Vacation Kingdom has seen a lot of changes over the past four decades and the editorial staff at Imaginerding wants to celebrate the unique and rich history of the resort with a series of posts. A very special thanks to Celeste Cronrath for designing the series of logos for our posts. Make sure to follow her on Twitter.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Geek-End Update, Saturday, February, 19, 2011

Theme Park

Thursday, February 17, 2011

More Disney Books!

Don't forget that the brand new book, Four Decades of Magic: Celebrating the First Forty Years of Disney World is available for purchase (and download) at Amazon. Many of your favorite bloggers (Foxxfur, Jeff Pepper, SamLand, Michael Crawford and me) contributed to the book.

With the addition of the following titles, I have 400 Disney books in my collection!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Celebrating Walt Disney World: Walt Peregroy and Early Epcot

October 2011 marks the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. The Vacation Kingdom has seen a lot of changes over the past four decades and the editorial staff at Imaginerding wants to celebrate the unique and rich history of the resort with a series of posts. A very special thanks to Celeste Cronrath for designing the series of logos for our posts. Make sure to follow her on Twitter.

Howdy Partners. For your safety, remain seated with your hands, arms, feet, and legs inside the article and be sure to watch your kids. If any of you folks are wearing hats or glasses, best remove em' cause this here is the wildest ride in the wilderness! 

Julie Svendson interviewed Walt Peregroy in December 2007. The amazing (and long) interview was published in Volume 9 of the Walt's People: Talking Disney with the Artists who Knew Him series by Didier Ghez.

Scanned from Walt Disney World: 20 Magical Years.
Do you know what I did in the Kodak pavilion—Images and Imagination was the name of the ride? I also designed the banister on the stairway and colors and designed the outside of the elevator. It’s probably all gone now. I designed the entranceway into the Images and Imagination ride and I did the four-seasons mural in The Land pavilion and the Symphony of the Seed. I did the 27-foot tall, 360-degree sky in the Land pavilion. And I designed the three solid balloons in The Land pavilion that would go up and down with different foods. I designed the fountain below the balloons, but I didn’t get my way on the fountain. Jim Sarno sculpted it. Beautiful. He told me he left because the fountain wasn’t finished with the top the way I designed it. I intended that it all be different foods not only sculpted but painted.

Scanned from Walt Disney's EPCOT Center.
Every celebrity in the world has gone through Disneyland, I’m sure, and I’ve done things there but there’s nothing obvious. But the two pavilions at Epcot are very apparent. You can’t go there without seeing them. And I have this delusion—they could take any piece out of the Symphony of the Seed, very carefully lift it out and put it outdoors or indoors and, with colored lights, it could be a fantastic, contemporary piece of sculpture. But museum curators, art critics, they insult Disney and all of us who work for them saying it’s Mickey Mouse and it’s not true. That’s what they think.

Walt Peregroy worked for the Disney Studios from 1951-1964 and 1974-1983. At the Studios, he worked on Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmatians, Sleeping Beauty and others. His last six years with the Company were spent working at WED on designs for EPCOT Center.
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