Monday, December 31, 2012

January 1, 2013: Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Walt is often quoted as saying it all started with a mouse. Others argue that it all started with Walt. I want to take it back a step further. I’m going to argue that it all started on January 1, 1888 and it started with two people: Elias Disney and Flora Call. New Year’s Day, 1888, Elias Disney married Flora Call in Acron, Florida. Acron, Florida was a small town when they were married and it now longer exists today. If it were still extant, Acron would be 40 miles north of where Walt Disney World stands today. Elias and Flora moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1890 and in 1901 Flora gave birth to their fourth son, Walter Elias Disney. The circle of life, Walt was drawn back to where it all began for his family, central Florida.

Perhaps the biggest influence on Walt’s life was when Elias moved the family to a small farm in Marceline, Missouri. Walt only lived there for a short time but it stamped a love for small town America on his heart that lasted Walt’s lifetime and beyond. Mainstreet, USA is Walt’s attempt to capture the spirit of simple, small town, America and it’s a wonderful way to start any trip to Walt Disney World; looking down that stretch of turn of the 20th century real estate toward Cinderella Castle, the hub that opens all the lands of the Magic Kingdom to thousands of guests each day.

This New Year’s Day, if you are fortunate enough to be at Walt Disney World, take a moment to ponder the Wedding Pavilion at the Grand Floridian. You can see it from the monorail but take a minute to stop by the Grand Floridian and check out the beautiful and elegant surroundings. Stand there for just a moment and imagine it is 1888 and Elias and Flora are getting married 40 miles away. I guarantee they were happy, even if their surroundings were probably nowhere near as elegant.

Happy New Year, I am looking forward to the next nine months of blogs and I promise to give you at least one daily excuse to visit Walt Disney World.

Remember, your best excuse is always: waiting for your dreams to come true.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

December 31, 2012: Happy New Year and God bless Kurt Russell...

What an odd coincidence. It is New Year’s Eve and as I am researching what to include in today’s blog, I realized that something very personal fits today’s blog both in historical (to me any way) and Disney significance. It’s not easy to explain how much I love the movies. I grew up in a very small town, the entire time I was growing up the sign at the entrance to town said, “population 2000.” I don’t think that has changed even unto this day. The growth in the area has been outside city limits and, even if it has changed, the sign is not up any more.

My dad bought a restaurant in Louisa about 1970 and I moved to the town school from the one room country school I attended from first through third grade. Mrs. Frances Cane ran the Garden Theater across from the Lawrence County Court House and this became my constant hang out. For one dollar I could watch the coming attractions, two cartoons and the movie and have a pop, popcorn and five Kitts (little square taffy candies). It was wonderful and I saw everything there, some things I saw several times, there was a stretch where I watched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid probably a dozen times. Movies at the Garden Theater and comic books from Ern Compton’s Newsstand were marvelous entertainment for a nine-year-old eastern Kentucky boy.

But today’s excuse is about a boy one year younger, an eight-year-old boy and the first movie I ever remember seeing. I’m positive it was in Ashland, KY at the Paramount. The Paramount, was, and is, a palace. Today it is a performing arts center but when I was eight it was a marvelous movie palace. A great monument to a truly great era of film and I wanted to see… The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. I was eight and I thought it was a masterpiece. Kurt Russell was my hero and, later, when he became an action hero, I would tell all my friends, “I remember when he was in Disney movies.” There was a cartoon before the movie, it seems that it was Goofy in one of his “sports” Goofy cartoons. It also seems that it may have been a double feature with the Goofy cartoon being about an hour long. The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes and a twinkle in his eye; I think that’s a line from the theme song. I need to see if the movie is on Netflix. If it’s not, I’m sure it will be soon, Netflix signed a new contract with Disney.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?

The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes came out on this day in 1969. I was eight. God bless, Happy New Year and I hope you find something that you love as much as I love the movies.

Big Willie, rocking the bow tie.

Remember, your best excuse is always: waiting for your dreams to come true.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

December 30, 2012: I want to be like you-ooh-ohh...

Today and tomorrow, then 2012 is gone. Let’s hope and pray that 2013 is a better year. Many people in our tri-state area have suffered from downturns in coal and energy production and we pray that things improve financially for them and everyone. More New Year’s Eve type comments tomorrow. I am very late getting to the blog today, so let’s get straight to the excuses.

Excuse 1

British author and poet Rudyard Kipling is born in Bombay, India in 1865. One of the most popular writers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, his most recognized work, The Jungle Book, was released by Disney in 1967.

You have multiple opportunities to honor Kipling and encounter his characters in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. King Louie is my personal favorite.

Tin Toy, a short by Pixar Animation Studios and directed by John Lasseter, is released in 1988. It will win the Academy Award for Animated Short Film. So get on over to Pixar Place and ride Toy Story Midway Mania but be sure to get to the park before rope drop and get a Fast Pass. It is not unusual for all Fast Passes to be gone around noon.

Remember, your best excuse is always: waiting for your dreams to come true.

Friday, December 28, 2012

December 29, 2012: All you need is... a signature.

Yesterday we had a house full of children from 8th grade through college. When my home is full of these young people, I have no idea what is going on in the world unless I am on my laptop surfing news. They have sung and played video games all afternoon. As I write this blog they are in the living room trying to organize the next a capella super group. I don’t see this becoming a lucrative situation. It is fun though and I’m sure that this laughing will continue until it has turned into crying.

Speaking of world famous singing groups, this date in 1974 is considered by many to be the end of the Beatles. The Beatles ended in 1970 but, like any other huge financial institution, it takes a little time to get the paperwork in order. John Lennon was staying at the Polynesian Resort at Walt Disney World when the stack of paper was delivered to him and, with a simple signature; he dissolved the bonds that made the band (the other three Beatles had already signed the documents). Legend has it that on this trip to WDW, Lennon particularly enjoyed riding the monorail. In fact, he did something that I have done with my family; he rode up front with the monorail pilot and he did it a couple of times. Now you can’t ride with the pilot any more (an after hours crash a few years ago ended that practice) but you can and should ride the monorail. In fact, a true WDW fan understands that the monorail is one of the few attractions that you can ride at absolutely no charge. So go, ride it, now.

Matt riding up front with the pilot of the monorail at WDW (2006). This is no longer allowed after a tragic, after hours accident.

Another view from the front of the monorail

Angelina Jolie’s daddy, Jon Voight was born on this day in 1938. Mr. Voight has made dozens of movies but in our little universe he played Mr. Sir in Holes and Nicolas Cage’s father in both National Treasure movies. Get to the World Showcase in EPCOT and search for the national treasure in each country’s pavilion (I recommend playing the Agent P game to accomplish this task).

A sign for the Kim Possible activity at EPCOT (2009), now Agent P.

Remember, your best excuse is always: waiting for your dreams to come true.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

December 28, 2012: Excelsior!

Today is National Chocolate Candy Day. You can get so many different chocolate things at Walt Disney World. Practically every store, restaurant or stand sells something chocolate and, remember, calories at Walt Disney World don’t count. That alone is reason enough to go but wait, there’s more.

In 1895, the world’s first movie theater (or is that theatre) opened in Paris, France. Without movie theaters there would be no Walt Disney World but since there are movies, let’s head over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and ride The Great Movie Ride. It’s the perfect ride for me because I love the movies. The last time we were there, I rode it and it was messed up. I wish I had a camera with me. The entire ride is different when you are about 20 feet off the mark every time the ride car stops.

EXCELSIOR! True believers! It’s Stan Lee’s birthday. Stan is one of my lifelong heroes. I’ve read Marvel comics all my life and Stan was the brain behind some of, if not most of, Marvel’s greatest characters. Disney hired Stan several years ago and then, the next thing you know, they bought Marvel. You think these guys don’t plan ahead? I am so happy that I lived long enough for the technology to catch up to Stan’s comic book visions. It is so wonderful to see Spider-man, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man and all the others look and act on the screen the way they looked in my head. You see comics, for all of their visual stimulus, never looked as good on the page, on cartoons or in live action as they looked in my head. In my mind, they were real, they looked real, they acted real and I was a hero as well. Thank God for Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Bernie Wrightson, Mike Grell, Steve Ditko and all the other great writers and artists who made me want to be a hero. Happy 90th birthday, Stan. Go to WDW and do something nice, be a hero to a child, make it a magical day.

Remember, your best excuse is always: waiting for your dreams to come true.