Sunday, November 30, 2008

Magazine Review: Celebrations Premiere Issue

Celebrations Magazine. Volume 1, Issue 1, September/October 2008 (Premiere Issue).

With the death of the Disney Magazine in 2005 and the end of The E-Ticket with the next issue, there is a definite gap in the periodical world. When I first learned of Celebrations, I was excited. I am familiar with Tim Foster's books and Lou Mongello's books and audio products, so I knew that the magazine would be high-quality. As a caveat, frequent readers will know that I am a frequent guest on the WDW Radio show and that I am good friends with Lou and many of the contributors of Celebrations. I am very proud of what they have produced, but I also want to present a look at the magazine for fans of Walt Disney World.

Celebrations is printed on a very durable and glossy paper. The layout is very attractive and contemporary. Tim Foster has a great eye for design and it shines inside the magazine. Celebrations clocks in at 80 pages with something for every level of Walt Disney World fan.

So, the real question is, what is on the inside?

Interspersed are articles to help you enjoy your next Walt Disney World vacation or to relive the memories of vacations past; photographs of attractions, resorts and buildings; and activities for the young and young at heart. Each of the contributing authors offer insider tips, secrets and fun facts in the Mouse Views section. Tim Devine explains photography terminology, Cara Goldsbury discusses choosing a resort, Steve Barrett shares his favorite Hidden Mickeys, John Rick talks pin trading and Allison Jones dishes the best times to visit.

The major articles of the magazine present some special and entertaining looks at the magic of Disney. There is something for everyone: nighttime at Walt Disney World, an interview with Richard Sherman and Halloween mischief. Each article is well-written, informative and fun. Glenn Whelan (from Passamaquoddy) authored the article about the scarier side of Disney, including Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween party. Glenn offers ways to enjoy the party and the Magic Kingdom. As a hardcore enthusiast, I was thrilled to read the first part of the interview that Lou conducted with Disney Legend Richard M. Sherman. I can't wait for the rest of the interview.

One of the surprises is the detailed look at an attraction, a resort and a film. If the magazine stays true to form, there will be a different focus each issue. The editors share little known facts about Splash Mountain, Wall-E and the Wilderness Lodge--you will walk away with a new appreciation for each. There is also a closer look at the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror with all of the trivia and hidden details that Lou is famous for. The Wayback Machine makes an appearance as Lou discusses Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

Of course, I have to mention the article by Ray Harkness concerning the Chef's Table at Victoria's and Albert's at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Ray has been telling me about this restaurant for years and his description of the grand meal is enticing and tantalizes your virtual tastebuds. Now, if only I could find someone to watch my kids and pay for a meal!

I really enjoyed this magazine. Future issues should be even more promising and exciting as the editorial staff and the writers grow in this new venture. I would love to see more photographs, but I do understand that publishing can be a very expensive venture.

Bottom Line: If you are a fan of the Walt Disney World Resort, then you need to add a subscription of Celebrations to your reading list. There is something for everyone contained within the covers of Celebrations. The voices are familiar and it is obvious that everyone involved is passionate about Walt Disney World and passionate about helping you make fantastic vacation memories.

For more information on Celebrations Magazine, visit the website.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Geek-End Update, Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Book Update!

I finally received my copy of The Imagineering Field Guide to Disneyland. It looks like a solid addition to the series and should provide a lot of enjoyment to casual Disneyland Resort fans.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Way Back World Showcase

One of the Friendships is docked outside of the Morocco Pavilion in this shot from the 1985 Way Back series. I wonder if Big-Brian can tell us which one it is!

I surmise that the shot was taken from the Ponts des Arts between the France and U.K. Pavilions.

Notice the length of the show building and the bump-out for the screens, curtains and scenery mechanics for the American Adventure.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Book Review: That Art of Mickey Mouse

The Art of Mickey Mouse, Artists Interpret the World's Favorite Mouseby Craig Yoe and Janet Morra-Yoe. 1991, 144 pp. (No pagination.)

For this review, I am discussing the 1991 edition. The 1995 edition seems to be more readily available on the second-hand market and is much less expensive.

Craig Yoe has been a toy designer, VP for the Jim Henson Studio, animator and studio owner. He was part of the creative team that created The Muppet-Vision 3D attraction. Janet Morra-Yoe is a photographer, sculptor and fashion designer. The book originated from the Yoes when they thought about Mickey's popularity in pop culture. They took their adoration of Walt's mouse and began asking world-famous artists to contribute unique interpretations of Mickey.

Author John Updike provides the seven-page introduction to the book. Mr. Updike discusses his love of Mickey and shares his thoughts on the Mouse's enduring popularity. The introduction provides the only academic reference in the text--the artwork is really what is important.

It is obvious to the casual observer that the first edition, published in 1991, is really centered on contemporary pop artists. A lot of the artwork contains colors that reflect the times; it is obvious that popular tastes change over the years, especially dealing with pop artists. Much of the artwork is representative of the artists during the late 1980's and early 1990's. What is obvious to me, is that the artists in question have a deep and abiding love for Mickey Mouse and his affect on culture. They have created some amazing pieces of art that showcase our favorite mouse. Yes, some of the art might seem dated, but they still honor Mickey.

Beyond discussing my favorite pieces, there isn't much else to say about the work. About 25% of the art is astounding and looks good over 15 years later. The rest are political, extremely 80's or just strange. Artistic expression abounds! A few of the artists included: Andy Warhol, William Steig, Charles Schultz, Maurice Sendak, R. Crumb (Rolly Crumb) and Peter Max. Over 100 pieces of art are presented.

In reviewing a work like this, the images can say far more than I can.

Untitled by Hajime Sorayama

Model Sheet by Ward Kimball

Mickey, the Dragon Slayer by Michael R. Hague

Mickey's Mission by John Ceballos

The First Temptation of Mickey by William Joyce

Untitled by Keith Haring

Bottom Line: This is a fun book, but offers little for the theme park or animation fan. If you are a hard-core Mickey fan, a fan of 1991 artwork or the artists featured, then you must have this book. If you can find a cheap copy of the book, I could almost see buying a few copies and framing some of the pieces. There are several editions available, make sure you order the large format one.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Geek-End Update, Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Electrical Water Pageant on the Seven Seas Lagoon

Fellow Disney Geek and avid photographer, Jeff B, has taken some fantastic pictures at Walt Disney World. I have been fortunate enough to use some of his photos on posts at Imaginerding.

I profiled Dave Smith using Jeff B's pictures, here.

I will share some, from time-to-time, to help all of us during those in between vacation moments. You know those times; when you just need a little bit of Disney. Make sure you click on the picture and leave Jeff B a comment on his Flickr site.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wayback with Beacon Joe

As we continue our Way Back look at 1985 Walt Disney World...

We find Beacon Joe sitting with Rufus (the dog) at Alligator Swamp along the Rivers of America.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Book Review: Walt Disney World Then, Now, and Forever

Walt Disney World Then, Now, and Forever by Bruce Gordon and Jeff Kurtti. 2008, 184 pages.

This book is a theme park exclusive; getting your hands on a copy might be a little more expensive than other Disney-related books. Unless you are visiting or have a friend there, you will have to pick it up on the secondhand market, which will increase the price. If you are able to visit Walt Disney World, you might need to ask a castmember to get it for you.

Bruce Gordon and Jeff Kurtti should be very familiar authors to Disney enthusiasts. Before Bruce passed away, he was an Imagineer and had created a solid body of work that will be treasured for years to come. Jeff is a Disney historian, author, consultant and award-winning producer. Bruce and Jeff worked together on the book until Bruce's passing. Jeff finished the title for the July, 2008 release.

The format for this book is based on the impressive Disneyland Then, Now and Forever title that was released in 2005. Throwing out the traditional souvenir guidebook format, the authors chose another path. This book reflects the feeling of a family scrapbook--not just your most recent vacation, but a lifetime of vacations to Walt Disney World. They share the photos and text based on larger themes, as opposed to theme park or resort: imagination, traditions, surprises, adventure, wonder, movies, thrills, music, innovations and dreams & makers. Looking at the resort in this light allows the authors to connect attractions in different ways, instead of geographically.

This book shines as a souvenir guide that highlights the aspects of past vacations. The layout is very appealing and contemporary. It sets itself above most other Disney-related guides through the design and presentation. The book conveys a lot of energy and excitement. The writing is crisp and informative. It is a very general overview of Walt Disney World and a lot is covered in minor detail. There are plenty of photographs from throughout the resort's history--a few which were new to me.

One of the weaknesses of the book is that 184 pages is not enough space to dedicate to the history and current state of Walt Disney World. You get the feeling that a majority of attractions and resorts get glossed over. This has to be from a space and money standpoint. I imagine that a Walt Disney World version of the Disneyland book would need to be close to 500 pages or sold as four to five volumes. I can imagine that Bruce and Jeff had some difficult choices to make about what to include--overall, I agree with everything presented; I just wish there had been more.
Naturally, I wanted to compare this guide with the Disneyland version. Although the books have similar approaches, themes and DNA, they are covering resorts with differing audiences and histories. Both do an excellent job of catering to their intended audience. The Disneyland version offers more for the hardcore Disney enthusiast and the WDW version is geared more for the lay Disney fan.

Bottom Line: As presented, Walt Disney World Then, Now, and Forever is a fresh breath in the line of souvenir guides. It is rather light-weight on the hidden details and minutiae, but serves the purpose of being a vacation scrapbook very well. I would recommend this book to the completists or if you are looking for a very general look at Walt Disney World. It is a light read that is easy to digest. The pictures are beautiful and you will enjoy this title many years from now.

Other Walt Disney World books I have reviewed:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Geek-End Update, Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Did I Say Candy?

Apparently, I spoke very highly of the candy from Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party on the WDW Radio Show with Lou Mongello.

Colin, from The Disney World blog contacted me about donating some candy to my, uh, personal cause. Since Colin works for a major candy company, he has access to some great stuff.

As long as Lou doesn't come asking for his 10%.

Thanks Colin!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Way Back!

A very faithful reader sent in some scans of her August 1985 trip to Walt Disney World. I thought it would make a fun series over the next couple of weeks.

I love the clothes and the line to get into the Universe of Energy.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Book Review: Disneyland, Then, Now and Forever

Disneyland Then, Now, and Forever by Bruce Gordon and Tim O'Day. 2005, 192 Pages.

This book quickly jumped into the list of my favorite Disney-related books. Published to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Disney's inaugural park, Disneyland Then, Now and Forever looks at the history of Disneyland with a rather unique twist. It replaced the traditional souvenir guides that you could purchase at the parks. Earlier guides were presented as a companion to your vacation. Usually, they saw minimal changes throughout the years. In this instance, it is so much more.

The unique aspect is that it takes us through the past five decades of Disneyland Resort. Not only do we look at the attractions, but we see the traditions of Disneyland as they have changed and progressed throughout the years. This book is also one of the first sources to show you what attractions existed before the current ones.

Take the section on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, for instance. It covers every attraction that stood in that area since the beginning of the park: Big Thunder, Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland, Rainbow Caverns Mine Train and the Stage Coach and Pack Mule trails. Full-color, full-page photos that show the attractions, the ride vehicles and the landscaping. It is a wonderful way to look at Disneyland--you get a better sense of how the park was arranged and how it has evolved through the years.

What was there before Big Thunder? Nature's Wonderland.
As a Disney enthusiast, my only criticism is also one of the book's main strengths: the layout. Like previous publications that Bruce Gordon has created, Disneyland Then, Now and Forever is artistically and stylistically beautiful. The modern page layouts are inviting and attractive. The information is presented in a readable and entertaining format. Yes, the artwork presented is one-of-a-kind and was never before published--but I kept longing for larger shots and less large-scale pictures that got lost in the fold. I know, I can't have everything!
It is almost shocking to run across a shot of Tomorrowland with wide avenues and not a current building in site. Seeing where the park has been and where it is now is wonderful; I can almost imagine the excitement that guests of the past felt walking towards the Moonliner Rocket.

The book offers plenty of surprises: concept art, the infamous ride posters, rarely seen photos, some intriguing secrets and some less secret secrets. All-in-all, this book offers something for everyone. Even if you are a Walt Disney World only fan, seeing Disneyland presented with such love and excitement will open your eyes to the Magic Kingdom's older sibling. Remember, there would be no Walt Disney World without the successes of Disneyland.

The authors take us on a journey through most of Disneyland's history. Throughout the journey, we share snapshots as if in a scrapbook of our vacations. We see how Disneyland has grown and how it has changed. Some moments are wistful and some are potent. But honestly, was the Dairy Bar any different from Club Cool at Epcot? All of the current attractions (from the 50th Anniversary) are covered--there is more presented than just Disneyland's history. This is quite a remarkable look at an amazing theme park.

Bottom Line: Anyone who has spent time at the Disneyland Resort needs Disneyland Then, Now and Forever on their bookshelves.It is not as comprehensive as The Nickel Tour or Disneyland: Inside Story, but it offers a very accessible history of Disneyland. It is a nostalgic and heart-warming trip through Disneyland's first 50 years. You won't regret owning this book--there has not been anything else published like it.
Other Disneyland books I have reviewed:

Friday, November 7, 2008

Geek-End Update, Saturday, November 8, 2008

Disney Book Signings @ Disneyland!

For all of my Disney Geek brethren on the West Coast...

Book Signings with Don Hahn & Jeff Kurtti

Walt Disney Animation Studios Producer, Don Hahn and Author & Disney Historian, Jeff Kurtti.

Disney authors, filmakers, historians and all-around good guys Don Hahn (l.) and Jeff Kurtti (r.)

Date: November 8, 2008Time: 9 AM to 11 AM

Location: Bonanza Outfitters, Frontierland, Disneyland Park

From the Press Release:

Join us as we celebrate the release of two very special books by Walt Disney Animation Studios Producer & Author, Don Hahn and Author and Disney Historian, Jeff Kurtti.

Don and Jeff will be on hand for a special appearance and signing from 9 AM to 11 AM at Bonanza Outfitters in Frontierland.

The Alchemy of Animation: Making an Animated Film in the Modern Age is a step-by-step introduction to animated filmmaking from one of the foremost producers of animated features. By drawing upon more than seven decades of Disney's beloved classic animated films, this stunning book explores the role of directors, story artists, songwriters, and animators who each play an integral role in the creation of an animated feature. This book includes a special focus on the digital techniques of filmmaking and fresh, behind-the-scenes work from the most currently Disney films, including Chicken Little, Meet the Robinsons and Bolt, as well as showing other forms of animation such as the stop-motion of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach.

The Alchemy of Animation: Making an Animated Film in the Modern Age by Walt Disney Animation Studios Producer, Don Hahn will be available for $19.95 tax.

Walt Disney's Imagineering Legends and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Park
Although Disneyland was the idea of one man, Walt did not achieve this history-altering concept on his own. Using his innate talent for combining disparate skills and personalities, he assembled a creative team that blended imagination with engineering. Walt called this group his "Imagineers." Walt Disney's Imagineering Legends and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Park introduces a core group of the originators of Disneyland and the other Disney parks. It explores their individual relationships with Walt and each other, their creative breakthroughs and failures, and their rivalries and professional politics. This candid narrative of their lives and contributions to a very special form of entertainment illustrates why, half a century later, their work continues to be vital and important to millions of people every day all over the world. Lavishly illustrated throughout with rare and never-before-seen artwork and photographs, this book will further enrich the reader's appreciation of the exceptional talent behind Disneyland's creation and ongoing evolution.

Walt Disney's Imagineering Legends and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Park
by Author and Disney Historian, Jeff Kurtti will be available for $35, plus tax.
Disneyland Press Release

If anyone makes it out there and wants to get a signed copy for me...

You can read my review of Walt Disney's Imagineering Legends here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Imaginerding on the WDW Radio Show

Listen to the Imaginerds on the WDW Radio Show as they join host Lou Mongello to discuss books, tips, theme park visits and anything else that comes to mind.