Wednesday, August 31, 2011

More Disney Books!

This update takes my library to 484 titles. Justice for Disney looks to be simply stunning. I know that Walt Disney and the Quest for Community will be good. This is the second edition and the first edition was a must-read! The Dark Side of Disney was a surprise and seems like it might be a really interesting alternative guide to Walt Disney World.

  • Justice for Disney. This book was published in 1992. It is a memoir of animator/imagineer Bill Justice. When I flipped through the book, I was astounded by the photos and drawings. This might be one of my top 5 Disney books of all time.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Disney Book Review: Peter and the Shadow Thieves

Peter and the Shadow Thieves (Starcatchers) is the second installment in the Young Adult Starcatchers series. I reviewed the first book, Peter and the Starcatchers, here. The series, so far, looks into the mythos of the Peter Pan story and how the characters that we have come to know through the Disney film (with minor references to Barrie's play and book) became what we know them as.

I loved the Peter and the Starcatchers.

Peter and the Shadow Thieves was even better!

There isn't much I can say about the plot if you haven't read Starcatchers, yet. The book moves and is full of page-turning suspense. I was surprised and delighted at how engaging the book was.

Barry and Pearson have created one of the finest literary villains since Lord Voldemort. Lord Ombra is part Lord Voldemort and part Darth Vader. The authors took all of the despicably evil parts of the aforementioned villains and created a vile, hateful and frightening character. The authors employ a rather slow reveal with the villain, which only serves to make it even juicier.

With the introduction of a more sinister villain, Captain James Hook is relegated more to the animated version of a buffoonish villain. He is still there, but he is no longer the main villain. It seems when Peter became Peter, Hook became the foppish clown that we love so much. This book centers on Peter, Molly, Tink and George Darling. We also learn a lot more about the Starcatchers and what they do.

This book is darker than the first one but it is still not as somber or emotionally jarring as the final Harry Potter books. For people looking for a series to pick up post-Harry, this is a great choice. (I also suggest The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott; it is an impressive and intelligent series.)

You need to give this series a chance. I think you will be pleasantly surprised!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Story of Walt Disney World 1971 and 1976 Editions

Cover of the 1976 Edition
Collecting Disney books can be an arduous task when different editions and releases come into play. We know that there are four version of the Walt Disney's EPCOT Center book (you can learn about three of them at this post) based on when the books were released.

The Story of Walt Disney World is another title with multiple editions. This book was the second major publication piece released by the company to help promote and explain what Walt Disney World was. This book is a fantastic look back at the Vacation Kingdom of the World during its heyday of the 1970s. This was a different time for the Company and they spent a lot of money and energy showing you how they created the magic of Walt Disney World.

When you start to look at the different editions of the book, there doesn't seem to be many differences. The most obvious difference is the almost two-page map that is included in the book. There are also some minor differences in the photographs on certain pages. After discussing the different editions on Twitter with Scott Otis (@otisney) and @EPCOTExplorer, we realized that there were many editions published each year from 1971 to 1980 (at least).

Back of the 1976 Edition
The following is a fun-style map of Walt Disney World from 1976. If you click on the image, you will notice that the artist emphasized the leisure activities. It is an obvious focus of a mid-1970s vacation at Walt Disney World where you would spend two days at the Magic Kingdom and the rest of the week playing golf, tennis, boating and horseback riding.

The 1971 edition is similar, save for a few small changes in some of the photographs and the following map.

This is a well-known map, since it shows the various hotels that were never built. This was also the map that was in the guest rooms at the Polynesian and Contemporary Resort.
The image is from the fantastic Walt Dated World.

I pulled the image above from a video about U.S. Steel that I featured on this page about the construction of the Contemporary Resort.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Geek-End Update: Disney Links and More

  • Travel in Style
    Fee at DF'82 shares some interesting transportation methods from Disneyland Paris.
  • Les Pirates des Caraïbes
    Shawn posts some great photos of the various details at Les Pirates des Caraïbes at Disneyland Paris.
  • Meet the toys
    Ryan from the Main St. Gazette shares an oft-missed detail.
  • Stage One Company Store
    Shane from Parkeology posts a diatribe on theme. Kudos!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Walt's People: Marc Davis and the Origins of the Haunted Mansion

I believe that I have stumbled upon one of the pivotal moments in the design of the Haunted Mansion!

Another gag Stan (Green) and Bud (Hester) used to do was they said they knew that Marc Davis had his desk situated in such a way that from the corner of his eye he could see the hallway through his door. So if anybody walked past his office he would catch a glimpse and look up. As you know, Disney animation hallways in the building were linoleum. You heard leather shoes walking down the hallway pretty loudly. So what Bud and Stan would do would be, Bud would clomp, clomp with his feet and walk right up to the edge of Marc’s door and then stop. And then Stan would resume from the other side of the door clomping away. So all Marc would hear was the sound of someone walking but then he would never see anything. And this was just distractive enough to make him look up and like, “What the hell is going on out there?” (Walt's People Volume 9, p. 497)
Makes sense, no?

The Walt's People series by Didier Ghez is a must have for every Disney enthusiast. Consisting of interviews recorded and transcribed over the past 30 years with some of the biggest names in Imagineering and animation, the books are filled with countless stories and hidden gems. In Volume 9, Didier interviews Tom Sito, an animator, story artist and Disney historian. The quote from Tom, above, shares a gag that was played on Marc Davis, one of Disney's Nine Old Men by Bud Hester and Stan Green. Bud and Stan were key assistants and worked directly with the animators.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Forthcoming book by Sam Gennawey: Walt and the Promise of Progress City

Sam Gennawey runs SamLand, a site dedicated to design and Disney theme parks. His writings at SamLand get frequent mention on my Geek-End Updates. He was also a contributor to the book Four Decades of Magic: Celebrating the First Forty Years of Disney World that was edited by Chad Emerson (author of Project Future). A brief press release showed up in my inbox this morning and I wanted to share it with you.


Sam Gennawey 

Forward by Werner Weiss  
Walt Disney’s vision for a city of tomorrow, EPCOT, would be a way for American corporations to show how technology, creative thinking, and hard work could change the world. He saw this project as a way to influence the public’s expectations about city life, in the same way his earlier work had redefined what it meant to watch an animated film or visit an amusement park.  
Walt and the Promise of Progress City is a personal journey that explores the process through which meaningful and functional spaces have been created by Walt Disney and his artists as well as how guests understand and experience those spaces. 
Available October 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

100 Years of Magic Trading Cards: 1959 Cast Card

We have another card from the 100 years of Magic series. This 1959 Cast Card celebrates one of the most spectacular additions to the Disneyland Park.

Matterhorn Bobsleds opened in 1959 at DlSNEYLAND® Park, celebrated on an ABC television special hosted by Art Linkletter. The "Second Opening of Disneyland" also featured two other E-Tlcket attractions: Submarine Voyage and the Disneyland-Alweg Monorail System (dedicated by Vice President Richard Nixon). 

The first photo of the planet Earth taken from space was shot from the Vanguard 2 in 1959.
1959 - On February 3, Alaska is admitted to statehood, followed by Hawaii on August 21. For about six months, America had a 49 star flag.
1959 - The average American worker earns $91.3 a week.

During the nebulous 100 Years of Magic Celebration that swept the Disney Company in 2001, many different products were released to bolster sales and attendance at the theme parks. The celebration was also another 18-month event that was supposed to drive people back to the parks after the Millennium Celebration. One of the nerdier collectibles was the set of 28 trading cards that featured an important year in the Company's history--with a photograph on the front and several facts on the back. In order to be more inclusive, the cards featured a few non-Disney items as well.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Disney Book Review: Peter and the Starcatchers

Peter and the Starcatchers by Bave Barry and Ridley Pearson. 2004. 464 pp.

This book was a fantastic read!

I missed Peter and the Starcatchers when it was first released in 2004 since I assumed it was just a young adult fluff piece. Besides, how could you tell a story about how Peter Pan met Captain Hook and became mortal enemies? Wouldn't sticking to J.M. Barrie's original story be too confining?

Was I ever wrong...

Barry and Pearson weave a compelling and intriguing backstory for Peter Pan. All the characters from the Disney film are there, just in a different form from what we know today. The authors also spend some time in the literary version of Barrie's play/novel and do a fantastic job of mixing the sometimes disparate worlds.

They perfectly captured Captain Hook's voice and stylings from the film. You can hear Hans Conried's ostentatious bellows and calls for Smee throughout the dialogue. The other characters evolve more slowly, but you see flashes of them throughout the book that intone their future selves.

If you are a fan of the 1953 film, then you owe it to yourself to read this book. The authors breathe excitement back into the series by introducing a palpable reason for the existence of Peter Pan, Captain Hook and Tinker Bell. There can be some fear when an author introduces a back story. Remember when Lucas destroyed the Star Wars saga by explaining the Force as a symbiotic relationship between the Jedi and midi-chlorians? Fortunately, Barry and Pearson offer a much, more plausible reason for everything that we know and love about the Peter Pan mythology.

This book is a real page-turner and you will find yourself wanting to read just one more page before stopping. Even though it is a young adult novel, this is something that everyone will enjoy. Be forewarned, there are some dark moments and the characters sometimes display a penchant for violence and subterfuge.

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Geek-End Update: Disney Links and More.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Moonshine Express and Splash Mountain

The Walt's People series by Didier Ghez is one of the hidden gems of Disney-related literature. Didier has collected hundreds of interviews with animators, actors, employees and Imagineers. He has complied them into a series of books that offer an amazing insight into what it was like to work for Walt Disney. The following quote is from Volume 9 (pp. 380-381).

Didier Ghez: What was the first project you tackled at WDI and what were your main contributions to that project?
Julie Svendsen: My first project at WED as a new show designer was called the Moonshine Express, a ride, which much later morphed into Splash Mountain. My Art Director was Rolly Crump and I contributed story sketches showing various scenes with animal characters that you might encounter along the course of the ride.

Didier Ghez: Can you describe the Moonshine Express and how it was different from the final Splash Mountain? 
Julie Svendsen: I worked on the Moonshine Express for only a short time and my only recollection of it is sketching different forest animals and making them appear to be singing and as cute as possible.

A bit later in the book, Julie discusses working with Rolly Crump (p. 385):
My first encounter with him was when he reviewed my portfolio after I graduated from Art Center and he hired me to work at WED as a show designer in the Model Shop. That’s when I started working with him on a ride, which was then called Moonshine Express. My work on Moonshine didn’t last long because it was determined that I was needed more to work on New Fantasyland and, eventually, to paint colorboards for the pavilions in World Showcase at Epcot.
The daughter of Julius and Carol Svendsen, Julie was born on November 13, 1950, and joined WED in 1970. She spent about 25 years at Imagineering and worked with such legends as Collin Campbell, Marc Davis, Herb Ryman, Wathel Rogers, Yale Gracey, Harriet Burns, Rolly Crump, Jack Ferges, Fred Joerger, John Hench, and her friend Walt Peregoy. A tremendously talented Imagineer, she discusses her career, her parents’ life at Disney, and her friendships with many of the Disney legends she knew.
If you search for Moonshine Express (don't forget to add Disney to the search terms), you find some interesting information from Jim Hill. Jim recounts:
"And what -- pray tell -- was the 'Moonshine Express' supposed to be like?," you asked. Well -- in this proposed version of a flume ride for Disneyland -- there are the good bears that live in Bear Country (I.E. The bruins who live in town and perform at the Country Bear Playhouse) and the bad bears. You know, those bruins who live 'way out in the woods and brew moonshine.  
Well, the local sheriff (Who -- if I'm remembering correctly -- was supposed to be a brother of Henry's? You know, the MC of the "Country Bear Jamboree"?) is asking for our help. Which is why we all eventually wound up in hollowed out logs, floating through the swamps out behind Bear Country, trying to find us some moonshiners.
Jim goes into greater detail on his site. Make sure to read the rest of the article.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Disney Blu-ray Review: Fox and the Hound

The Fox and the Hound / The Fox and the Hound Two (Three-Disc 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray / DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging)

This is an interesting release for the Walt Disney Company. It is the first time that the Fox and the Hound and the Fox and the Hound II have been released on Blu-ray. It also appears as if the only reason the Blu-ray is being released is to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the Fox and the Hound, which debuted summer of 1981. The sequel was released in 2006 and was nearing the end of the Company's plans to bulk up their coffers by releasing mediocre direct-to-video (dvd) sequels, prequels and mid-quels.

The only reason to buy this set is to watch the Fox and the Hound on Blu-ray. There is one featurette and it is a gimmicky look at how animals of different species can be friends. You would hope that Disney would have released a treasure trove of documentaries and behind-the-scenes information, since this was one of the most popular animated films done between the Jungle Book and the Little Mermaid. Alas, the only reason to buy the Blu-ray is to secure a hi-definition copy of the Fox and the Hound.

The Fox and the Hound was the film that acted as a watershed between Disney's Nine Old Men and the next generation of Disney animators. This film was a proving ground for many of today's animating legends: Glen Keane, John Musker, Ron Clements and Don Bluth. This was the film that saw Bluth's defection to create his own studio and with him went a large number of experienced animators.

The Fox and the Hound II is a midquel, a film that takes place in the middle of the Fox and the Hound. The animation has that sharpness of modern animation, that sets it apart from its predecessor. It also neglected to catch the attention of anyone in my family, outside of my seven year-old. He claimed that the movie was fantastic while the rest of us gave up on it.

So, for the third time: the only reason to buy this Blu-ray is to have the Fox and the Hound in this pristine, digital state.

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Geek-End Update: Disney Blog Links and More.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Disney Library: Building a Dream, The Art of Disney Architecture

Building a Dream: The Art of Disney Architecture by Beth Dunlop. 1996. 208 pp.

This is a fantastic book if you have an interest in the architecture commissioned by Michael Eisner. The author does spend some quality time in the parks but she takes a serious look at the offices, Team Disney buildings, upscale (read modern) hotels and other Disney buildings. If you can find one for a decent price, it is worth adding to your collection. There is quite a bit on Disneyland Paris, as well.

From the blurb:
Disney is not just for kids. Over the past 10 years, the Walt Disney Company's chief executive, Michael Eisner, has commissioned some of the most renowned contemporary architects--Robert Venturi, Robert A. M. Stern, Arata Isozaki, Frank Gehry, Aldo Rossi, and Michael Graves among them--to design important buildings for the company. In the process, Disney has set new standards for postmodern architecture and has become one of its leading patrons anywhere in the world. The resulting projects, which include quirky, fantastic theme parks, hotels, resorts, movie studios, and offices, are evidence of how Disney's long-standing use of popular, often surreal, imagery and iconography has been absorbed into the architects' styles. This stunning volume offers original architectural drawings and superb color photographs of the projects alongside an expertly written text that incorporates extensive interviews with the architects and executives involved.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Book Review: Walt Disney World, the First Decade

I posted this review in 2008 and it has always remained a favorite book about Walt Disney World. There has not been as much published about the history of Walt Disney World, as compared to Disneyland, so we are forced to glean a lot of material from primary and secondary sources. If you are looking for more books that detail the history of the Vacation Kingdom of the World, then check out my bibliography of titles on Walt Disney World. I added a few more photos of the book at the end of the post. Enjoy!

Walt Disney World, The First Decade (1982, 128 p.)

Looking for a fairly inexpensive and photo-filled look at the first 10 years of Walt Disney World?

This book is for you!

A cross between an annual guide, PR piece and corporate history, this is a fascinating look at the first ten years (well, it does cover the construction--closer to the first 15 years) of the Walt Disney World project. As per most titles on the subject, there is general coverage of the Company, Disneyland and the early progress on Walt Disney World. After the introduction, the book takes off on a leisurely, but extensive, look at everything during the first ten years.

The book focuses heavily on the Magic Kingdom and looks at each land in detail--with descriptions and lots of pictures. In-ride photos, photo-ops with celebrities from the 1970's and views of the park make up a majority of the pictures. Trust me, you will open this book many times just to take a virtual trip back to a Magic Kingdom that is no more.

Remember the Greenhouse on Center Street?

The Contemporary and Polynesian Resorts each get about five pages apiece in their coverage; lots of views of the lobbies and guest recreation areas. It is one of the few places to get basic info about the Golf Resort, the Lake Buena Vista Resort Community, the Village Marketplace and it is also one of the few places where you can visit River Country one last time. Fort Wilderness and the Tri-Circle-D Ranch are covered in wonderful detail. The photographs and details available in this book about the Walt Disney World resort are simply astounding.

What is really going to excite the Disney Geek is the behind the scenes information that Disney was so keen to publish before Epcot. Especially when they were trying to show off the new technologies that were promised as a result of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The state of the art reservation center, the Central Energy Plant, the water reclamation center and the environmental planning (canals, ecology and conservation) are all given coverage.

The very last section is a short look at Epcot. Can you spot the missing Pavilion in the picture?

Bottom Line: This is a wonderful read and a must for every Disney Geek. If you were able to visit Walt Disney World before 1985, many of the descriptions and pictures will be a walk down memory lane. If you weren't lucky enough (or born yet) to visit Walt Disney World in the 1970's, then this book will provide many of the details of lost attractions, shops and aspects of WDW that are long gone or have changed. It is a look back at a simpler, more relaxed Walt Disney World. From the standpoint of historical documentation (even though it is corporate), this book is a must for any serious scholar of Walt Disney World.

Images from the Lilly Belle at the Village Marketplace. Lillian Disney christens the "steamship". The Riverboat Rascals perform on the Empress Lilly. (Photo added to the review in August 2011.)

The signage for the Great Southern Craft Company at the Village.  Latch Hooking and Russian Embroidery are the specialties. (Photo added to the review in August 2011.) 

Roy O. Disney greets "citizens" in Liberty Square. (Photo added to the review in August 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 for our posts. Make sure to follow her on Twitter.


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