Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Celebration: the Story of a Town, My Disney Library

Book description:
Celebration, Florida, is perhaps the most successful planned community in the country, having recently won a coveted Florida state civic award. What many people don't know is that Walt Disney's original concept for what later became Epcot® at Walt Disney World was exactly what Celebration is today-a thriving town where people live, work, go to school, attend to their health-care needs, shop, dine out, bank, and have myriad recreational opportunities. The richly illustrated Celebration: The Story of a Town explores the history of planned communities in America; the original concepts for Celebration complete with input from architects, social historians, and perhaps most important, local residents; and the ups and downs of this unique community as it establishes itself as one of Florida's most desired addresses. 

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Disney Links, Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I've got some great reading for you. I get asked about being included on my updates and my only advice is to write great stuff and be original. Plus, my thoughts on these links are entirely subjective, right?

Be sure to follow me on twitter and like Imaginerding on Facebook for updates and exclusives.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Walt Disney's EPCOT, a Book Review

Walt Disney's EPCOT (also known at Walt Disney's EPCOT Center) is a title that every theme park fan should own. It is a trove of photographs, anecdotes and attraction descriptions that you will not find anywhere else. It is also a hopeful time capsule of the EPCOT Center that existed during the early 1980s. At 239 pages it is also one of the most comprehensive books about a Disney theme park that has ever been produced (Disneyland Paris: From Sketch to Reality comes pretty close).

What makes this book amazing is the amount of concept artwork and models that are presented. It was a rare time at Disney when they weren't sure how to promote their latest offering. With EPCOT Center being a new type of themed entertainment but not exactly what Walt promised, corporate Disney wasn't sure how to explain this City of Tomorrow that was more like a World's Fair. So they opened the doors at WED and let us all go behind-the-scenes. It is something that Disney doesn't do any longer.

The book unfolds just like a visit to the theme park. The first section of the book is a 20-page introduction written by Marty Sklar that introduces the concept of EPCOT Center and how Walt's ideas evolved. After that, we are introduced to EPCOT Center as any visitor would experience it, pavilion by pavilion.

As you can see from the images, this book is a treasure. The concept art, photographs of models and pictures are one reason that every fan of Epcot should own this. The other reason is the text. Richard Beard takes us through the concept and development of each pavilion. He also, when applicable, takes us on a ride-through and tour of the area. Since there is not one Future World pavilion that has remained untouched, this is one of the few opportunities to experience the first version of the ride.

Although my list of favorite and important Disney books is getting fairly crowded, this one is always in the top five. It is a constant go to book when I want to look back at EPCOT Center or lose myself in some amazing concept artwork and models. 

Concept artwork for Horizons.
As of this writing, there are four different versions of the book. There are two large ones (239 pp.) and two small ones (127 pp.). The biggest difference between the larger books is when they were produced, either pre- or post-opening. The first difference is obvious: one is titled Walt Disney's EPCOT Center and the other is Walt Disney's EPCOT. The other differences are minor but offer the most compelling reason to collect both version--the different pictures in each book. There aren't many photos that are disparate, and they are usually the difference between a pre-opening model of the pavilion and a post-opening shot. Either version is wonderful and will provide hours (if not days) of happy reading.

The model for World of Motion is in the foreground.
The book also does what Disney no longer does and that is providing concept art for attractions that are in the early planning stages. This is the go-to book for Meet the World, the Rhine River ride and the Africa Pavilion. It is almost like Disney learned their lesson and they only release artwork that is fairly far in the approval stages.

Artwork for the American Adventure show.


Concept art for Meet the World.

The Mexico Pavilion.

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Nerdy Disney Links (Post-Thanksgiving Edition)

You know, I am really thankful for all of the fantastic authors, historians and enthusiasts that work so hard every day to post great content about Disney. Sharing some of the more unique posts is always fun for me at Imaginerding. When I log into my Google Reader account each day, I know there will be over 200 Disney-related posts each day. So, sit back, unbuckle those pants and enjoy another slice of pecan pie while you read some great Disney-related posts.
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Celebration Chronicles: My Disney Library

Andrew Ross spent a year living in the Town of Celebration in order to document Disney's new town.

From the blurb:
Scholar and iconoclast Andrew Ross spent a year living in the much scrutinized, and often demonized, Celebration--the picture-perfect town that Disney is building for 20,000 people in the swamp and scrub of central Florida. Lavishly planned with a downtown center and newly minted antique homes, and front-loaded with an ultraprogressive school, hospital, and high-tech infrastructure, Celebration was to offer a fresh start in a world gone wrong. Yet behind the picket fences, gleaming facades, and "Kodak moment" streetscapes, Ross discovered a real place with real problems, and not a theme park village cooked up by the Imagineers. Compelling and wide-ranging in its analysis, The Celebration Chronicles provides a startlingly fresh perspective on the link between contemporary urban planning and corporate bottom lines.
There have been a slew of books written about Celebration during its first few years. I will share more over the next few My Library posts.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Geeky Disney Links

Time for some great Disney links and reads!

It appears as if Delicious has finally started reposting my favorited Disney links from various blog postings around the world! This is not a return to the Geek-end Update, but a more frequent listing of fantastic posts!

Older posts from October:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Disney Prep & Landing, a Review

Need a little holiday spirit?

Prep and Landing premiered in 2009 and has become a modern, holiday classic. We received our review copy over the weekend and my youngest has watched it four times. The animated Christmas special clocks in at 22 minutes, but there are plenty of other featurettes that add to the fun. I enjoyed the new mythos that Walt Disney Animation brought to the holiday season. The idea of a hi-tech team that prepares for the Big Guy's arrival at each house was a great way to make the story resonate with kids that use gadgets every day.

Here is the review from my eight year-old son:
Kids that like spy movies will like it because it starts out with lots of action. You think the elves are spies! I liked the prep and landing parts the best. It was like they were playing a real video game. It is a great Christmas show and kids are going to love it. You should buy it now so you can watch it a lot before Santa comes.
So, after dictating his thoughts to me, he grabbed the copy of the show and started watching it for the fifth time.

This one is definitely a winner in our house.

Bonus Features:
Prep & Landing Stocking Stuffer Shorts:
  • Tiny’s Big Adventure-The assistant to the North Pole Christmas Eve Command Center is trying to make a pot of coffee and in the process, accidentally ruins the elves' break room.
  • Operation Secret Santa-Lead elves Lanny and Wayne are sent on a special assignment by Mrs. Clause (voice of Betty White) into Santa's office 
  • Prep & Landing Kringle Academy Training Videos-Entertaining Elf training videos shot in Santa’s workshop – Fruitcake Factory/Spa Navidad – Welcome to Kringle Academy – Kringle Academy Equipment Training – Academy Do’s and Don’ts

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Phineas And Ferb: Phuntastic Box Set

We received a review copy of the Phineas and Ferb Phuntastic Box set from Disney Publishing and I knew that my eight year-old son would be perfect for this review. It was his suggestion to record a video:

The three books are:
  • Speed Demons
  • Runaway Hit, and 
  • Wild Surprise
He really enjoyed them (we love the show) and felt that kids between the ages of five to eight would love reading them. His two complaints were that there was not any laughter (like a laugh track) and that there was too much narration. Since the books are based on actual episodes, they should be familiar.

When I looked through the books, they seemed to be well-written and faithful to the shows. They are considered chapter books and I would place them on second and third grade levels. This is a great series for reticent readers, especially for boys that love the show but might not be into reading. There are plenty of black and white images from the shows, with at least one image per page.

Hey. Where's Perry?

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

What Mickey Mouse Reads

Mickey's Toontown Fair at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World is long gone. There have been some rumors about Mickey's house returning somewhere in Florida (Disney's Hollywood Studios?). Until then, the only official domicile for the Mouse is in Toontown at Disneyland

The Imagineers have added some special titles to Mickey's home library. We have seen books in many attractions and restaurants over the years. Sometimes they are real titles and sometimes they are riffs on literary classic --with a dash of cheesy humor.

It is obvious from Mickey's shelves that he is an avid reader.

Five Cheesy Pieces
Ben Fur
Little Mouse on the Prairie

    Of Men and Mice
    Portrait of the Artist as a Young Mouse

      See You Next Squeak
      Happy Poems
      A Tree Grows in Toontown
      Color My Mouse by Ginni Barr-Ruscio
      Mouse of Cards

        Pluto's Better Bones in Gardens
        A Trip to the Toon by H. Cheese Wells
        Gadgets 'N' Gizmos by J. Shull

          2001: A Mouse Odyssey
          The Great Goofby

            Cheese and Peace
            Mice Station Zebra
            Random Mouse Dictionary Edited by A. Verity
            Moby Duck
            The Toon Almanac 1954
            Toons Along the Mohawk

              The Whole Mouse Catalogue
              Minniean's Rainbow
              Waiting For Pluto
              Mouse of Wax

                Directions in Tooning
                The Information Cheese Almanac

                  Oh No, Chrono! by E. Kicken
                  Great Stories, Amazing Facts
                  The Mouse That Roared, A Novel by C. Bothi
                  The Great Mouse Detective
                  Mousetrap: Friend or Foe: 101 Ways Around a Mousetrap, A Guide by J. Crouch

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                    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

                    A Pair of 1971 Magic Kingdom Benches

                    One of my passions is discovering long-forgotten Walt Disney World. Her older sister, Disneyland, is fairly well-documented and you will often find sites devoted to when the last time a certain patch of grass was mowed. As many of you know, plumbing the depths of Walt Disney World history can be fraught with misinformation and no information at times. Especially disconcerting is the stance that the Company takes regarding the Walt Disney World Resort and its past 40 years, Could it be that they don't want anyone to think of the resort as being old? Who is to say, really.

                    One of my favorite past times is to find little corners of the Magic Kingdom that have remained untouched over the years. Sometimes it can be a door or a pathway that hasn't had a bean-counter stumble across it. More often than not, they are quiet little areas with little traffic.

                    What a wonderful mixture of rooftops and walls.
                    A case in point would be from a trip to the Magic Kingdom a while back with Foxfurr from Passport to Dreams Old & New. We were doing a vintage touring plan, which consisted of visiting attractions and areas that would have been open during the 1970s. It is a fun way to spend a languid afternoon in the parks. As we were looking at the sight lines in Liberty Square and discussing the changes of Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe, we headed behind the shop to check out some other architectural features.

                    Lo and behold, but what did we see?

                    Yep, two benches sitting rather serenely on the side of the Liberty Tree Tavern (trust me, they really were serene). Foxfurr was a little surprised to see them in that spot. She was able to confirm from a video tape that they were official benches that were there when the park opened. She claimed that they have been moved around somewhat.

                    It is rather amazing to see something that has lasted in the park for that long without having characters added to it or being re-themed as Stitch's Bench Party. Do yourself a favor and see if you can find the benches. Take a picture of yourself enjoying the benches and post it on the Imaginerding Facebook page.
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                    Sunday, November 13, 2011

                    Feed Our Small World: a Cookbook for Kids, a Book Review

                    Disney presents a charming collection of recipes for children ages 3-7 in their latest It's a Small World series offering. In conjunction with FEEDprojects, Disney presents 26 recipes geared towards introducing kids to the joys of cooking, eating and thinking about the world. The book is broken down into four sections of recipes and is bound to have a few selections that will make even the most finicky eater happy. 

                    The artwork and styling of the book are part of the It's a Small World series in which Disney has partnered with other organizations to provide food, sustenance and other needs across the globe. The artwork was done by Nancy Kubo and was inspired by Mary Blair's iconic style

                    The recipes are based on traditional fare from different countries. There is also a fun fact with each recipe Enjoy this fact about cheese (I know you will):
                    Did you know that cheese sweats? As it ages, the proteins in cheese release moisture. It's all part of the process that makes cheddar and other hard cheeses so flavorful.

                    Bonjour Breakfasts
                    • C'est Magnifique Quiche
                    • Morning Fiesta Mini Frittatas
                    • Jammin' Jammy Scones
                    • Snappy Gingerbread Waffles
                    • Streusel-rific Coffee Cake
                    • Fruity and Nutty Muesli

                    Lickety-Split Lunches
                    • Canadian Cheddar Cheese-tastic Soup
                    • Easy Pita Pockets
                    • Wrap 'n' Roll Wraps
                    • Warm and Toasty Empanadas
                    • Sensational Sesame-soy Noodles
                    • Chicken, Pineapple, and Mango Tango
                    • Zesty Peanut Soup

                    Delizioso Dinners
                    • Spectacular Spaghetti and Meatballs
                    • Chicken-or-the-Egg Rice Bowl
                    • Peanutty Beef Satay
                    • Kickin' Chicken Stew
                    • Caliente Veggie Quesadilla
                    • Super Shepherd's Pie
                    • Perfect Paella

                    Dreamy Desserts
                    • Dolce Ricotta Pie
                    • Tummy-Tempting Thumbprint Cookie Pie
                    • Mouse au Chocolat
                    • Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie
                    • Island Breeze Ginger Cakes
                    • Buttery Shortbread

                    About the cookbook project:
                    Vitamin A not only helps prevent kids from losing their eyesight, it helps malnourished children fight off killer diseases such as measles and pneumonia. Sadly, millions of children do not have access to basic health care and nutritional supplementation. For these children, this one nutrient can make a big difference. This cookbook was created in collaboration with Disney Press and FEED Projects, a company with the simple mission to create good products that FEED the world.
                    A donation was made in support of the book to help FEED with the Vitamin A project.

                    Disney Publishing Worldwide provided a review copy of this book.
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                    Thursday, November 10, 2011

                    The Rarest Disney Book Ever!

                    The Nickel Tour and Disneyland Paris: From Sketch to Reality are two of the rarest and most sought after Disney-related books. Want to find out about the rarest Disney-related book of them all?

                    Anyone who knows us at Imaginerding is well aware that we consider Splash Mountain to be the ultimate Disney ride. Although Andy's favorite ride is Spaceship Earth and mine is the Haunted Mansion, we both agree that Splash Mountain offers a great story, wonderful songs, a fun (although wet) ride and a lot of details. Other rides may have better lineages (Haunted Mansion and Pirates) but Splash is an all around "really-good" ride*.

                    On one of our research trips, we were able to ride Splash Mountain twice without any wait. We took as many pictures as we could in the queue and the daylight areas of the ride for future posts.

                    Just for you, though, we broke our rule and took a flash picture inside the ride--just this once. We saw this book on our first ride and didn't have our cameras out. Andy nailed a great shot on the second go around.

                    We present another book update: How to Catch a Rabbit by Brer Wolf.

                    Since I wasn't able to snag a review copy of this title or step out of the log, I can't do an official book review. What I can tell you is that I would not recommend this book. After spending nearly 10 minutes following the author's escapades throughout the attraction, I can safely conclude that Mr. Wolf is a hack and that the book did not help Br'er Fox secure any rabbits while on the ride. Near the end, Br'er Fox did catch the rabbit, but ended up throwing him into the briar patch after some quick talking by said rabbit.

                    If you can get your hands on a copy of this rare item, it is worth it from a collector's standpoint. Otherwise, I would leave this title in the swamp.

                    As the famous architect Ludwig Mies van der Mouse once said, "Walt is in the detail."

                    *As voted on by George and Andrew.
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                    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

                    Zorro DVD Review

                    The WEDWay Radio Boys (Matt and Nate for the uninitiated) produce one of the very best weekly podcasts about Disney. Unlike most podcasts, Matt and Nate cover every aspect of the Disney Company, including: travel; animation; theme park history; imagineers; films and so much more. They look at everything. This week's episode is a look at Zorro and its influence on the Company and the theme parks.

                    I posted this review on November 2, 2009. It is still a fantastic set and worth grabbing on DVD.

                    Out of the night,
                    When the full moon is bright,
                    Comes the horseman known as Zorro.
                    This bold renegade
                    Carves a "Z" with his blade,
                    A "Z" that stands for Zorro.

                    WOW! This is the perfect DVD set to introduce or re-acquaint yourself with Zorro. Growing up in the 1970's, I saw a few reruns of the 1957-1959 series and I knew about Zorro from various films and pop culture references. I never had the opportunity to see them as presented on television, so I wasn't as familiar with the Disney series. When I popped in the first disc of my review copy of season one, I was hooked from the get go.

                    This is the first time that the entire two-season collection has been offered in its original black and white airing; previous releases were Disney Movie Club exclusives that had been colorized. I was surprised at the intelligence, warmth, humor and excitement in this 50-year old television series. You are immediately drawn into the characters and the plot lines.

                    Leonard Maltin introduces the set (as in all of the other Walt Disney Treasures) and he waxes poetically about the series. What caught my attention was when Maltin mentions that Zorro was a precursor to the Lone Ranger and Batman. As I watched the series unfold, I noticed the similarities: Don Diego de la Vega (Zorro) was a wealthy nobleman; he had a secret cave located under his hacienda; he had a faithful manservant that assisted his work; and he was a masked man that stood for justice. Bob Kane has said that Zorro was an early influence during the creation of Batman.

                    The series' writing was very comical. Don Diego's man-servant, Bernardo, was an immediate favorite. Bernado portrays himself as a deaf-mute in order to help spy for Zorro. The hapless Sergeant Garcia became as sympathetic as he was inept; it was obvious that his heart was in the right place. The following clip is a song sung by Sergeant Garcia and is a perfect example of the interaction between Don Diego, Garcia and the ancillary characters.

                    As expected, the series is full of swashbuckling action, daring sword fights, brazen and over-the-top villains, horse chases and beautiful senoritas.

                    This set is great family fun and will provide many hours of entertainment. I can't tell you how many sword fights that I have had with my sons since we started watching Zorro. Of course, we were using foam swords and I always played the evil Comandante!

                    This set will make a fantastic Holiday present for the Disney enthusiast in your family.

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