Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Disneyland Edutainment Part 7 – Tomorrowland

This land was built by Walt to be the most changing and has been the most challenging to imaginers over the years. Often it ends up feeling more like Yesterland or Dreamland. When the park first opened in 1955 Tomorrowland was designed to show the then far away future of 1986. Today there is no set future date. This land above all others represents hope for a better tomorrow.

Drop into the House of the Future inside Innoventions. See what technology of today will be doing for us tomorrow! See what is about to be put out for the general public to purchase for their homes in the near future. How could that technology make your life better and what ideas do you have for new things to make life easier. Check out the other areas of Innoventions while you are in there. See what other technology is just coming out to make our lives safer, easier, fun and healthy than it is today.

You can step into Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters and enjoy a flight into a fanciful fight between good and evil! More fun than learning but you can still ride and talk about how the ride is done and how would your child make a ride of their favorite video game, book or movie? What is the story the ride is telling? This ride can really be helpful in expanding your child’s imagination and creativity. It can encourage your child to read. They get the enjoyment of acting out a character from a story they have read and therefore maybe encouraged to read more. This ride could encourage hours of creative play time at home as well.

Ride Star Tours (Shut down for now with new tours being planned to start May 2011.) and talk about the movies and translating movies to rides. How would you do it differently? What other planets in the Star Wars universe would you like to see added and how could it be done? How would you do the line area to make it more interesting for the people standing in the long line? How would you design the line so the maxim amount of people could be waiting for the ride in the available space without feeling squished and allow movement? How do they do that ride?? What is space REALLY like? How does real spaceflight work today? Get into the history of spaceflight and talk about astronomy. Who knows! Your child could be the next Buzz Aldrin or Sally Ride.

Finding Nemo is a good place to talk about the fragility of the sea and what we can do to protect it. You can talk about different marine life and how important it is to us landlubbers. What does it take to keep a Submarine going? How do you design them and what happens when it goes under water? What is in a scuba tank? How do they get the characters swimming right in front of you?

The Autopia is a fun place to talk about transportation again. Right around the corner from Autopia is the Tomorrowland Train station. Talk about a clear vision of past and present transportation! What is the best way to get around? How did people get around 50, 100, 150 or even 200 years ago? 175 years ago how long would it have taken to cross our great country? What about 150 years ago? How about today? What type of personal transportation will be around in 20, 30 or maybe 50 years? Why do we have road signs and traffic laws? Here is a funny bit of interesting trivia. Why do the English drive on the left side of the street? They drive on the left because when jousting you would carry your lance in your right arm and you wanted your opponent on the right side when you were passed. It is a carryover from days long ago. History affects today in strange ways. What other ways does history effect transportation and other parts of our lives?

Most of the plants in Tomorrowland are edible. What is the reason behind planting edible plants in Tomorrowland? What do you think it takes to keep them all looking so beautiful? What edible plants would you like to plant in your garden and how could you plant it so it is beautiful and provides food. How many plants would you need to plant to provide enough food for your family? Maybe this could be a start to a family garden!

Over all Tomorrowland is a good place to get kids excited about tomorrow. There is a great big beautiful tomorrow waiting at the end of every day! What does your child see in their future? What job would they like to do? What new inventions would they like to see when they grow up? Do they have ideas for a new “thing-a-ma-gig” that just might make tomorrow a brighter day? Encourage them to try! Tomorrow is a hope and dream for something better than today, even if today was a perfect day at Disneyland.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Disneyland Edutainment Part 6 – Critter Country

This is a happy, fun and small area. There are only two rides in Critter Country. There is Splash Mountain and Winnie the Pooh. But there is still opportunity to learn!

Spend some time before you go to read some of the original Winnie the Pooh stories and watch some movies. Then stop in and visit him! Get your picture taken with him in the 100 acre wood area. Go ride the ride and enjoy the laugh. This is really a great thing to encourage an early reader to get bug to read.

Read the Brier Rabbit stories and if you can find it watch the wonderful movie Song of the South. Talk about the values those stories share. If you are lucky enough see the movie talk about the culture right after the Civil War and how people were learning to accept Black-Americans as free. Talk about how different it is today. Did you know that the actor that played Uncle Remus was nominated for an Oscar back in 1946? How amazing that before the civil rights act a Black American could achieve that! Ride Splash Mountain and see what parts of the stories they kept. Why is Uncle Remus not in the ride? Of course you can add in talking about the science of the ride. How do they know you will not fly out of the seat on the drop?

As you walk into the area you will notice a change from the New Orleans area as you pass the Haunted Mansion. There is much more greenery and fewer buildings. There is lots of wood and you get an old wild west feel but as the it might have been before people came. There are several stores made to look like log cabins that fit into the area and blend in well. This gives you a chance to talk once again about the expansion west. What would it have been like to be one of the first people to come into the area? What was the wildlife like? How did people survive?

Take a rest in the Hungry Bear Café and enjoy a break. Look around and see the wonderful wood carvings! Talk about the craftsmanship and how they do it. Sit and watch the traffic on the river and discuss life on the Mississippi and other great American Rivers. Again go back and discuss Mark Twain, Davy Crockett and other great American heroes of the past.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Blame it on the MOUSE!!

In August 1978 I asked a long time friend to come for dinner. Allan was to eat dinner at my apartment with my roommate and me. I had not seen Allan for several years so I was very excited to see him! I did not feel it was proper for a young lady to entertain a young man alone. We had not talked for several years and I was looking forward to reconnecting with him. Allan, my friend lived over an hour away from me at the time. Remember this was before the age of cell phones. Yes this was the stone age! About 15 minutes before Allan was to arrive he called me asking if it would it be ok if he brought a friend along! I asked if he was going to be late and he told me he was around the corner from my apartment and his friend, Scott was in the car! What could I say? Do I tell him not to come because he had a friend with him? Do I allow him to bring his friend? I told him his friend was welcome to come to dinner always room for one more!

When Allan and his friend arrived he whispered in my roommate’s ear and she laughed! She then winked at me as said she needed to leave something had come up and ran out the door! Now I was alone with these two guys! One I had not seen in several years and the other I did not know! Dinner was served soon after the two got there. We ate and then sat down to talk and play some games. Soon after we started talking Allan fell asleep. He had a disorder that caused him to fall asleep and then stop breathing. Nothing Scott and I did would wake Allan up so we had to let him sleep. We took one look at each other and knew it was a set up! My friend Allan had written me letters about his friend, Scott. My roommate had also talked to Allan on the phone several times before they came! Scott and I started saying, “Best friends forever, Romantic NEVER!” We knew we would always be friends but were sure there would never be anything romantic between us.

For the next year Scott and I were best of friends. Allan was away at college at the other end of California and had a girlfriend. I helped Scott study for Respiratory Therapy classes and did what I could to keep him sane during that crazy time. I helped him study, I took him to the movies, on picnics and car rides. At the end of the year Scott graduated from his Respiratory Therapy course with an A! I took Scott to Disneyland to celebrate. When you live in Southern California Disneyland is the ONLY place to celebrate!

What a wonderful time we had at Disneyland!! It was the first time we went to the park together. Both of us grew up in Burbank, Ca and had gone to Disneyland often as children but never together. We rode our favorite rides and saw a few shows. We talked and just enjoyed our time together as two good friends. We laughed as we made plans to get our friends together for a picnic or dinner at some future date. Late in the evening we sat down at The French Market Café for dinner. The Jazz Band came out and started to play. We were sitting near the stage and were enjoying the music. We were not sitting side by side, making goo goo eyes, saying sweet nothings or holding hands. We were sitting across the table from each other. We did nothing that would make anyone, lest of all ourselves think we were in love! The band started singing love songs and dedicating them to us! We laughed and said, “NO WAY!” “Best friends forever, Romantic NEVER!” The band laughed at us and said, “We have the Disney Magic and Pixie Dust so we see the truth. You two are in love! You just don’t know it yet!” One week later we were dating! Six months later we were married! This last January we celebrated our 30th anniversary! So Blame it on the Mouse!!! LOL

Friday, September 24, 2010

Disneyland Edutainment Part 5 – New Orleans Square

This is a fun area to play and learn in! Look around and see what types of buildings are around. This is truly how New Orleans looks or at least a cleaned up Disney version of New Orleans. You can sample a few types of foods from that area. Try the Clam Chowder or Gumbo. Stop at the French Market for a Mint Julep (Virgin of course). Talk about how the blend of cultures in that area of the United Stated helped form the food choices available. Look at the second story balconies. Notice how each is different. What type of job do you think the person living in there does? Why are the “Apartments” on the second floor and shops on the first? Why are the “Back Streets” so thin? Why are there the double level of stairs in front of the Rivers of America? They are there to turn back some of the storm surge/waves during storms.

Listen to the music. Talk about the history of music in general and Jazz in particular. What is unique to Jazz? (It is the only truly American music.) Do you hear things in the Jazz that make you think of other forms of music? Early forms of Rock N Roll came from Jazz. Drop by the French Market and listen to the Royal Street Bachelors sing with Queenie. Street Bands pop up all over New Orleans and you just might get to see Princess Tiana and hear her sing. Get a taste for New Orleans of the 1920-30 and later.

Stop by Pirates of the Caribbean and continue talking about Pirates. Did the pirates only plunder the Caribbean? What was the difference between a privateer and a pirate? Did all the pirates pictured on the wall in the line area really exist? Were there female pirates? Why did they have a carving of a beautiful women on the front of each ship? How did they survive? What did pirates do when they plundered a town?

Stop by the New Orleans Train station and listen. What do you hear while waiting for the train? That click click click is Morse Code. It is Walt Disney’s opening day speech being broadcast via telegraph! Why not just show it on TV or let people listen on the radio? Why not call on the phone and pass on what he was saying? At the time this train station would have existed there were no TV’s, Radios or phones. This is a good way to bring up long distance communication and talk about how it effects our lives and how it must have been before things like the telegraph were invented. Talk about the development of communication from telegraph to the modern internet and cell phone. What was in-between? When did what form of long distance communication come into existence? For example look up when the first FAX machine was created. You will be surprised how long ago that was! While you’re at the Train Station talk about the development of trains and how that effected people and movement around the country and world.

Onto the Haunted Mansion!! How can a just for fun ride be educational?? Again, I say YES it can be educational if you take the time to look and be creative. What is the story that is being told? Try writing a scary story yourself! How do they make the pictures in the Stretching Room stretch?? Continue on and look at the pictures in the line area after the Stretching Room. How do they make them change? What about the two statues at the end of the picture room! It is creepy how their eyes follow you as you walk past! I could keep going on but I’ll leave it by saying try to figure out how they do your favorite effect in the mansion. Can you recreate the effect at home? You would be surprised at how actually “low tech” some of the effects are. A lot of them are just standard stage illusions created with placement, smoke and mirrors.

You can stand on the shores of the Rivers of America and talk about the two great ships that sail majestically past you. Are they realistic to the time and area? What was the purpose for these ships? Were they transportation, cargo carriers or recreational? This is another good place to talk about Mark Twain and life on the great Mississippi. Do you think you could have paddled a canoe up and down a river? Would you have liked to work on a Paddle Boat or been a pirate on a ship like the Sailing Ship Columbia?

What is the history of Louisiana? How did it become part of America? Why is there such a “French” influence there in the buildings, cooking and language?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Disneyland Edutainment Part 4 – Frontierland

As you enter the large gates that are the entryway from the central hub to Frontierland turn around. Why the gates? What were they built to protect people from? What is that walkway doing near the top of the wall? Talk about the US Calvary and the Buffalo Soldiers. What part did they play in the expansion West of America. Now turn back into Frontierland and let’s go explore. Do you see the flag? How many stars does it have? How strange are the wooden sidewalks! They had raised sidewalks to keep people (mostly the ladies with their long dresses) out of the muddy streets. Look at the streets and see the wagon wheel tracks and hoof prints. Talk about how people got around and how cattle drives would go through the town requiring wider streets.

Stop by the Shooting Arcade and step back into an 1850 or so game! Look into the windows and see some items that would have been sold back then. The Golden Horseshoe has a wonderful show! It is no longer the type of show that would have been seen back then or even a G rated version of the show but it is a fun show. Sometimes it is Laughing Stock, a funny audience participation show with you jokingly being taken back in time. You may get to see Billy Hill and the Hillbillies doing a Bluegrass/comedy show. Both are fun shows. The Golden Horseshoe still looks and feels like a Wild West salon. So belly up to the bar and get some lunch.

Take a ride on the Mark Twain. You can read some of Mark Twain’s short stories before you go and talk about his life and writings. Read Huck Finn and talk about life on the Mississippi River and Paddle Boats. Continue the discussion started on Main Street about transportation. Talk about how important the River Boats were in the development of our country. How did people live and work during that time and on the river?

Ride the Sailing Ship Columbia and go below. See how the sailors lived. How did they sleep, cook and store food. Read a book about pirates and discuss it. What about pirates? What made a man a pirate? What were the social and economic reason for a person becoming a pirate? What did war have to do with someone being called a pirate? Who were some of the well known and lesser know pirates? What is with the lady on the front of the ship?

Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer’s Island is a good place to continue talking about Mark Twain, read Huck Finn/Tom Sawyer stories and talk about them, Life on the Mississippi River and Pirates. Also talk a look and the water wheel driven mill and the outside of a fort.

A ride on the Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes can be a fun way to cool off and get a little exercise. It also gives you another look at transportation of that era and a bit of a look into Indian life. It opens the doors for further discussion and exploration on various subjects such as Davy Crockett, Native American Indians, The Westward Expansion of America and the early dependence on water ways for transportation.

Let’s take a ride on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Wait!! A rollercoaster is educational? YES! Look around as you wait in line. Do you see all the “old fashion” mining equipment? A lot of the old rusting equipment is really from old mining towns of 1850-1900! Talk about the different equipment and what it may have been used for. Talk about how people would have lived at that time and what was society like. Now let’s ride Big Thunder! Shall we talk about the physics of the rollercoaster? Why do you feel like you are flying at one point and being pushed down at others? What type of coaster is it?

Now let’s mosey on down the Thunder Ranch Trail toward Fantasyland. There is the Big Thunder Ranch with its farm animals/petting zoo. There are all sorts of farm animals there. They even have the Presidential Turkeys there (every other year). Great place to talk about animals we raise on farms. There is the Big Thunder Ranch BBQ with its dinner show as well!

Ok so that is enough of Frontierland and edutainment for today! See ya all later, ya hear?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Why get an Annual Pass??

What are the advantages of being an Annual Passholder?

I’m taking a little break from Edutainment to share other things. I promise I will come back to it in my next post.

To purchase a pass or not. That is the decision of every Disney fan who lives near a park. Why should you purchase a pass?

The obvious advantage of being an Annual Passholder at any Disney Park is the ability to go anytime or almost anytime depending on what level pass you purchase. What other advantage is there? It partly depends on how often you can go. How close you live to the park. What level pass did you purchase.

At Disneyland there are 4 different level passes. Each level gives access to the park for a different amount of days ranging from 170 days out of the year to any day the park is open access. When you by a pass with limited days Disney tells you what days you can come. The first 3 levels give you 10% off at selected dinning locations while the 4th and top level gives 15%. Only the top level pass gives free parking and merchandise discount at selected shops at the park and at Downtown Disney. All the passes give you discounts at the hotels on selected days. If you purchase a top level pass and go once a month the entire 12 months the pass is active entrance cost for the park is about $36 for each day and you did not have to pay for parking! Or you can look at the fact that a Premium Pass is the cost of about 5 regular single park day tickets. So if you think you will spend more than 5 days at the park in one year I suggest getting the Annual Pass. Is this savings the only advantage to an Annual Pass? NO!

We live about 1 hour away from Disneyland. We sometimes decide to go to Disneyland for lunch or dinner. We will go and spend 3-4 hours eating and maybe go on a ride or two. It is a romantic date place for us, especially during the holidays!

Most people who don’t go often to the park hurry from ride to ride trying to pack as many attractions into their day as possible. The feeling is that every moment spent sitting is money and time wasted. With a pass you can slow down. Enjoy the shows that pop up all over the park. There are parades, Dapper Dans and other singing and musical groups and small stage shows all over the parks. Slow down as you walk down Main Street and drink in the atmosphere! Do the same in the other areas. Smell the flowers (if you are not allergic). Did you notice that in Tomorrowland most of the plants are eatable! Just spend a day looking at what is planted in the flower beds! Look for the rides you have not done or that it’s been a while since you been on, even if it is an A ticket ride. Find a beautiful spot and just sit and people watch.

We love to see the fireworks! There is only one location to see the fireworks from for us. Unlike WDW that has a large viewing area to see the fireworks and the Castel Disneyland does not have a large place for people to view the fireworks as they were deigned to be seen. Only in front of the castle and a little down Main Street some can you see Tinker Bell fly and the lighting effects on the Castel. Only there can you see the fireworks frame the Castel! Otherwise the fireworks are beautiful but fragmented. The area in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castel fills up early. People in the know start claiming their spots around 5 pm for the 9:30 pm fireworks! If you want a bench you need to get there earlier. If you want THE bench that will be slid in front of the VIP seats make it 4 pm and even earlier for special fireworks shows! Yes I’m letting you in on my secret spot! Everybody has to stand during the fireworks so they can fit more people into the viewing area. I am very short, 4’9” tall. As close as people are packed in to the viewing area if a person 5’8” tall or taller stands right in front of me all I can see is their back side. Not a pleasant view I can assure you! I can’t even see the fireworks that are high in the air thru the body and head in front of me. I want the bench so I can stand behind it and give myself space. With that space I can see over people better and actually see the fireworks. I want the bench that is in front of the VIP section! Because I have a Pass and go about once a month to Disneyland I don’t mind waiting for 5 ½ hours for the fireworks. Yes, I’m totally NUTS to wait that long but would not miss doing it for the world. We don’t do it every time we go. We plan our day when we wish to see them. We ride rides and watch other shows early in the day and then go to the Castel area and sit on the bench around 4. We take books, craft projects, drawing supplies and other things to do. We sit and talk to each other and make friends with people around us. We take turns wondering off for a few moments at a time to do things. We often find families with children who would love to see the fireworks but don’t come often and don’t wish to wait. We hold space for them as well as they go on rides and do other things until an hour before fireworks. This is a great way to make new Disney friends. We would not do this IF we only came to the park once or twice a year! The Fireworks are not the only show we plan for and are willing to wait for. Fantasmic, World of Color and Aladdin are just a couple of the shows we will wait an hour or more to see so we can get the view we want. For Fantasmic people will start getting into the “best” spots around 4 pm for the 9 pm show.

I think the most fun of having a pass is bringing people who don’t go to the park often and playing tour guide! It is fun to show people shows they may never have seen or would not have seen if you had not shown it to them. It is a joy to make new friends as you wait in line or for shows. I stop when I see somebody looking over a map and ask if they need help finding something. Often I will walk them to the ride telling them the history or stories of the area and ride.

In my opinion the greatest thing about having an Annual Pass to a Disney Park is that it allows you to slow down and enjoy. What you don’t see today you can catch the next time! Even with the pass we make plans. We will ask each member of the family what they want to see that day. Will it be a Fantasmic, Firework or World of Color day? World of Color takes a little extra planning that starts days before by the way. Will it be a Stage Show day or is it a couple of special rides we just can’t miss? Is there something new or temporary like a holiday show or overlay to a ride? Very few days don’t have one or two “special” things we wish to see. Each trip is a little different but all are fun!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Disneyland Edutainment Part 3 Fantasyland

Due to my husband working extra shifts right now I’ll come back to Main Street and finish that later. He wants to help fill in and talk about each window and other things that can be seen on Main Street.

So lets march straight down Main Street and onto Fantasyland!! What is there to learn there? It’s all Fantasy and silliness right? No it is not!

Let’s start out with the little kids and move on up. For the tiny tots that are just learning to count and or identify colors and shapes have fun! How many steps are there between the Carrousel and Dumbo. How many rows of Horses or how many Horses are on the Carrousel and how many Dumbos are flying around? How many steps are between Dumbo and Mr. Toad. As they get older and more able start adding. Add the steps between the Carrousel and Dumbo and Dumbo and Mr. Toad. Subtraction works the same way. Get creative! Count people in line anything! When they get ready go onto multiplication. If there are 12 Dumbos and 2 people ride in each Dumbo how many people can ride at the same time? Division? If 24 people can ride Dumbo at one time and you are the 48th person in line in how many times will the ride load before you get on?

Fantasyland encourages reading and literature. Read the original Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland (when they are old enough) and other stories the movies and rides are based on. Read it to them as bedtime fair or have them read it for themselves if they can. After reading the books watch the Disney movie. While at the park ride the ride. Talk about, or have your older child write about how the story was told differently in each version. What is the moral of the story? Does each version bring out the same moral? Is there more than one point that can be taken away from the story? For example in Peter Pan you can take away keep a childlike heart and enjoy life but know when to grow up and you can do anything when you believe. How would they translate the original to a movie or ride? What parts would they keep and leave out. You will be amazed what happens at home while watching movies later. My daughter came up with a crazy great idea for a ride based on the Emperor’s New Groove! Just wish Disney took suggestions. Suggestions . . . Don’t do more than one story at a time. Don’t have them write the report at the park unless they are excited and want to do it while taking a break or waiting for something. Let them enjoy the moment and think about it for later. Maybe do a little talking about it to help it sink in.

When they read the book or watch the movie they will see something we consider insensitive to a people group today. A great example is the “What makes the Red Man Red” song in Peter Pan. It is a very stereotypical attitude for the time the movie was made. We must show our children these things and not hide the fact that people did not always treat people fairly. It also is a time to talk about how people have changed and should change how they treat and talk about the people around them. Should Disney take that song out of future releases of the movie? NO! Keep it in! Not only is it a funny song that can be look at as just a silly moment, it can be a teachable moment between a parent and child.

Now for my favorite subject History! Many things to talk about here but I’ll just stick to the main points and let you fill it in. Look at the buildings. They are from different times and places as are the stories they represent. Talk about how people lived during those times and in those places. Look at the Castle. Beautiful building!! Talk about why the drawbridge and small slits. Why not big windows people could look out of? What was the feudal system like, how did most people live then. Why the moat? Drop by the Harold Shop and talk about family crests and what they meant and why they were so important to people and gave them identity. How would it feel to walk around, ride a horse and fight in a suit of armor?

Another thing to teach it that Fantasy is an important part of life. Without Fantasy there is no Imagination. Without Imagination new technology and thoughts would not be possible. In all Fantasy there is some Reality.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Remembering 9/11

I just had to share this even if I don’t want to. I do it to honor those lost on 9/11.

My family was on a week long vacation at Disneyland September, 2001. We had 3 more days left on our vacation. We were staying at my brother’s house near Disneyland. The park was beautiful as usual. We had stopped in at Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and we were the only people there. We saw the Electrical Parade and loved it as usual. We commented that the final float, Salute to America, was missing ½ of its sections. No one stood and cheered when the Salute to America came by. There were no patriotic pins, shirts or banners to be found. I was told it was not the 4th of July so they were not in stock.

9/11 we were getting ready for another day of fun when my sister-in-law came into our room and told us to come see what was on TV. We watched in horror as they showed over and over the 1st plane and then the 2nd plane hit the Twin Towers and then the Towers fell. We cried and prayed for the families and friends who lost people.

After a short time my husband knew he had to report to work. He works at a Trauma center in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, Ca. He is part of the disaster response team as well as a working as a Respiratory Therapist. He needed to be at work just in case there was more attacks. Due to his training he knew a little about the type of targets terrorists would wish to hit. The list includes Disneyland.

After working that day and the next we decided to go back to Disneyland. When we got there we were meet at the gate by security. This was new and at first felt wrong! They stopped us and asked very politely to check our bags. There were no tables to set things on and it was not easy to get through. To go from one park to another you had to have your bag checked at each park. With the two parks so close it was frustrating but worth it for the added feeling of safety.

There was something else we noticed besides the added security. Main Street, and every other area was covered in Red, White and Blue! There were patriotic shirts, pins and other items everywhere. People were all dressed up in Red, White and Blue. Everybody called out, “HELLO” to anybody near. People were reaching out to each other. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln was packed! We had to wait for a couple of shows before we could get in! At the end of Lincoln’s address the entire audience stood and applauded! We went to see the Electrical Parade again. We waited in anticipation for the Salute to America float to come down the street. Now it was back to full length! This time everyone stood and cheered!! The dancers escorting the float seemed to kick their feet a little higher. It was deafening! It felt good! It felt right!

Nine years later the crowds to see Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln are less but still more than before. They don’t applaud as loud but there is still respect. The last time I saw the Electrical Parade (last year) the Salute to America was still at full length even though many other parts of the parade had been removed. People still clapped and cheered but again not as loud. Instead of taking down the Red, White and Blue bunting after July 4th, it was still up until after Labor Day. You can always find patriotic pins, shirts and other items in the park.

It was right for us to go back on 9/13. It was right for us because it helped us heal. People said we were disrespectful and selfish. We see it differently. The terrorists want us to be afraid. Disneyland is on the hit list because if they can hit it they will make us afraid to do anything. We refused to live in fear. We refused to stop enjoying life. We honor the lives of the men and women who lost their lives by living our lives to the fullest and not allowing the terrorists win by stopping us. So today, 9 years later, don’t let them win by continuing to live in fear and hate. Live life, love and care for others. Never forget what happened 9/11 but don’t let it control your life. We need to remember the lesson learned that day and understand that there are people who hate our country. We need to live with a new level of awareness of our surroundings and what is going on. We don’t need to lived with distrust and hate of those who are different or that worship the same god as those who attacked. Not all Muslims are evil. It is not the religion it is the radical fringe.

Disneyland Edutainment Part 2 - Main Street Part 1

The first installment of how to use Disneyland as a classroom was an overview. Let’s start at the parks gate and go land by land and see what we can learn. I know that what I did is only a start. I’m sure you can come up with more ideas than I have.

I suggest you tell your child you are going to do school at Disneyland before you go. Try turning it into a game. Make sure that you don’t take all the fun out of Disneyland. Keep it light, short and simple in the park. Point things out, “Look at that . . . it’s so interesting”. Then come back to it later while sitting and eating, waiting in a line or maybe even the next day when you get home and talk about what was so interesting about it. Maybe even take a picture of it to remind yourself and your child of what you saw.

The first thing I’m going to say is have a plan for what subject you will teach before you get to the park. Be ready to read up on the subject before you go so you can answer questions and don’t be afraid to get the ball rolling at the park and go looking for the answers with your child after you get home. There is nothing wrong with telling your child you don’t know but that together you can find the answer. It’s a way to continue the Disney fun and memories long after you leave the park.

I may repeat information as I write in further blogs. I may write about what is in an area and then later write about that same area when I discuss subjects. For example Main Street is a great place to discuss the History and living conditions of the turn of last century. There are other areas in the park that can be used for History as well. But, there is more to learn on Main Street if you want to use the area to teach math along with other subjects. So the same areas of the park or subjects may get covered twice.

Let’s start with the most obvious learning experience in the park. As you walk down Main Street stop into Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. Other than a nice way to get out of the heat, cold, very occasional rain or to just rest your Disney abused feet it is a wonderful look into our 16th President. What more can you learn? Can other subjects be brought up from that attraction? The attraction will not answer these questions or teach all there is to know but it will open eyes and minds and bring up questions that will start conversations and learning. With the current version of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln you can discuss the Civil War. What effects the Civil War had on families and society. Why was the Civil War fought. Mr. Lincoln’s life and his Presidency. Slavery and the abolishment of Slavery and the effect it had on society. In the last version you could also have add the development of photography, Matthew Brody, Fredrick Dougles, unequal payment of blacks in the Union Army, Lincoln’s understanding that payment to black soldiers was unfair but he understood it was not time to push it on society and medical care during the Civil War. You can still add these if you talk about how we got pictures from that era and add in talking about blacks and others besides Lincoln who were part of the Civil War and freeing the slaves. Herriot Tubman would be one of many good people to add that was not mentioned in any version of Great Moments. You can add the Underground Railroad and how slaves would run away and often joined the Union Army to fight.

After you leave Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln look at the park area. There is a flag central and high. Patriotism is high on Main Street USA. Walt Disney’s privet apartment is above the Firehouse and when he was at the park he would stand in his window and watch the flag retreat. There is an area for the band to play and people to gather to listen. This is very much in keeping with how people lived at the turn of last century. Most small towns had a park where people would gather for music and talk about events going on in city and country as well as celebrate events.

Look around Main Street. What do you see? There is the Main Street Train Station, Horse Drawn Streetcars, Old fashion cars and Fire truck and a Double Decker Omni Bus. Now would be a great time to talk about how people get around. You can talk about how at one time the only way to get around was by foot or horse. Then came trains and soon after that cars. Even firefighting equipment changed from horse drawn to gas engine as time progressed. How do we get around today? What is the same and different from 1900. How do you think people will be getting around in 25-50 years?

Stop in the Firehouse and see the horse stalls that are unused and the telegraph to notify the firemen of fires on the other side of town. No phone or modern radio equipment in there. Look at the equipment and talk about how it differs from today’s modern firefighting equipment. Note how little true equipment they really had compared with today.

Have you looked at the street lights on Main Street? Do you see something strange? They are all the same right? No they are not! At the entrance end of Main Street the lights are electric. At the Hub end of Main Street the lights are gas. Why is that something noteworthy? Before 1900 gas was used to light the streetlights and someone had to go out every night and light each one. With the advent and spread of electricity streetlights went electric saving gas and manpower. Now the city did not have to pay people to go out every night to light each light as it got dark. Instead they could flip one switch and turn all the streetlights in the city on. It took time to transition from gas to electric.

There is a wonderful place to stop and sit for a few. There is a nice little patio in front of the lockers, between Main Street Markethouse and the Disney Clothiers. Why do I bring that area to your attention? Sit there for a few minutes and listen. If you are lucky from open windows around you will hear a conversation between a music teacher and a young student. (The student can’t play piano very well. lol) There is the dentist telling his patient about the newest medication to relieve pain while getting his teeth worked on, ether is all the dental rage. I hear a hotel owner telling a person checking in that NO accordion players are allowed. Now get up and walk into the Main Street Markethouse and what do you see there? On the wall is a phone, pick it up and listen to a 1908 partyline conversation. Wow a phone that was not privet! There is a huge potbelly stove in the middle of the store with a table and chairs next to it. On the table there is a checker game set up ready to play. Yes you can stop and play. Why do I find all of this interesting and noteworthy? It is a look into how people in America lived at the turn of last century. You hear how the teacher talks to the student and the newest medication is something we find funny and even dangerous now. The entire lifestyle was different. The local market was a place to come sit and talk. People would spend hours playing checkers and talking so the store would have set aside an area to do so. It’s so much different from the get in get out mentality of today shopping establishments. Today chairs in restaurants and other places have been designed to be uncomfortable for us to sit in for more than 20-30 minutes so we will leave opening the seat for another person.

Look at the buildings on Main Street. Do you see something different or unusual about them? First off the first floor of each building is built at 7/8 scale. This makes the buildings feel more the right size and welcoming for a child and adults feel like they are entering a playhouse from their childhood and feel more playful. Then each additional floor is smaller than the floor below. This is called Forced Perspective. It makes the buildings look taller than they are. It is an old stage trick to make things look bigger for a show.

So to sum it up on Main Street you can learn various history topics and some stage art tricks. There is more to learn on Main Street. We can talk about the history of trains. There are interesting things on display in the shop windows from long gone days. There are shops on Main Street that have fun bits of history in them. My husband will me help fill those in later.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Disney Education Part 1 – An Introduction

Disneyland as the classroom? Can Disneyland be a classroom? Yes, it can be a classroom!! We homeschooled our daughter until 8th grade and we would go to Disneyland often for school time. For a long time we went an average of twice a week to the park and for several hours we would take time to talk about what we saw.

So what can you learn at Disneyland? Would you be surprised if I said Reading, Art, Science, History, Math, Literature and Sociology. This is the first of several installments talking about edutainment, the mix of education and entertainment. Walt Disney himself said, “I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained.” Don’t you learn best when the subject or at least the lesson is entertaining? Why should it be different for a child?

Reading assignments are easy. When the child is young you can ask them to identify letters. As they grow they can identify words then read signs and schedules. Give the child a schedule and give them the responsibility of finding the times for shows and parades.

Art is all around Disneyland. Bring drawing supplies and take a few moments and have them sit and draw what they see or maybe even their favorite Disney character. At Disney California Adventure they have a “show” where they teach you how to draw a Disney character.

Science is a fun one to teach. You may need to read up before going on the physic of how a rollercoaster works. It is a wonderful thing when you child gets off a coaster and asks, “Why do I feel like I’m going to fly at one point but then seconds later I feel like I’m being pushed down.” Stop by the Animation Building and see how animation is done and talk about how the eye and brain work.

History is all around Disneyland. Walk down Main Street and you are taken back to 1905-1920. You can talk about all the exciting changes in the world at that time and the explosion of new technology. Stop in at the market and listen to a 1908 party line phone call. Listen to a dentist tell his patient about the newest developments and medicine available. Frontierland is a good place to talk about the wild west. DCA has a lot of California history.

I remember the earliest days when our daughter was just learning to count. We would have her count the steps between the rides. When she was secure in counting we started teaching her to add and subtract the steps she took. When she got older still it was counting the cars that a ride had and multiplying that by how many people each car could hold.

Literature was an amazing subject for Disneyland!! Once we read the original Peter Pan then we watch the movie. Then we rode the ride and talked about how the story was told differently. What parts of the story were missing and how would you have done it differently?

Our family is mixed. We are white and our daughter is adopted and black. We have family of different ethnic heritage married in. We are truly an All American family. We wanted our daughter to learn that people are different and Disneyland is a great place for that. She got upset one time when a Japanese family sat very close to us when we were waiting for the fireworks. She asked me why they were so rude. I told her to look up information on Japan. She saw that the island was small and that there were many people there so they were use to a crowded space. She realized they were not rude they were just doing what is socially normal for them.

This is just a taste of what you can teach and learn at Disneyland and other Disney Parks. In future installments I’ll share more of our family adventure in learning the Disney way.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Why the Disney Addiction???

I can trace my Disney Addiction all the way back to my childhood. I grew up in Burbank, California not to far from the Disney Studio, along with many other studios. Disney is a big part of Burbank life. Back in 1960 one set of my grandparents decided to take my two brothers to Disneyland but refused to take me. They said I was too young (I was 2 ½) and too much of a problem for them to take. My other grandma decided that was unfair and I had to go to Disneyland! She was elderly and ill but made sure I went. I only remember her going on three rides that day but she totally loved the place. She fell in love with Peter Pan, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the Skyway. She loved sitting and watching people having fun. She gladly waited as I rode the rides she could not or did not wish to ride. She would sit on a bench near the exit of the ride so I could run over right as I got off to tell her about the ride. I always started calling out to her as the ride vehicle was nearing the end of the ride. I rode many rides that day!! I remember Matterhorn Bobsleds along with many others. She wanted to know about everything I saw and felt on the rides she could not go on. She took me back once or twice a year for the next 4 years until she was too ill to go anymore. Each time she would say some grandchild or another had to go and my mother had to take them and grandma. If my mother went I had to go!

After grandma died I still got to Disneyland an average of once a year. Usually my Uncle would pay my mother to take some of my cousins to the park. In the early days of tickets we did not do many rides but we loved watching people. All through my school years I looked forward to Gradnight at Disneyland. Oh my!! Stay up all night at Disneyland!! How magical is that??

All through my childhood I watched Disney movies. As I grew I found I liked the depth of the stories and characters. I loved the richness of the animation and the attention to detail that Disney took with their movies. No other studio could do animation as well! I remember all the Disney educational films being shown in school. I grew up watching things like, Our Friend the Adam and Donald Duck in Mathematicland. I remember watching Uncle Walt on TV. The Disneyland TV show and Wonderful World of Color were a bright spot in my week. I would watch the clock all day and run into the livingroom and turn on the TV sitting on the floor as close as my mother would allow waiting for Uncle Walt to come on and tell me what wonderful, magical and amazing store he would tell that week! If I was at my grandparents home we would watch it there because grandma was also addicted. During the next week my grandma and I would talk about the story.

In 1978 I was set up with a wonderful guy. From the start we thought it a bad match. We both said no way! Best friends forever! Romantic NEVER!!! For a year that was our mantra. My “Best Friend” went to college and took a 2 year course in Respiratory Therapy and completed it in 9 months! He aced his finals and then his State Boards! What would I do to celebrate his accomplishments?? I took him to Disneyland of course!! We were sitting in the French Market Café enjoying dinner when the Jazz band there started playing love songs and dedicating them to us! We laughed and said, “No Way!!” The band just laughed and told us, “We have the Disney Magic and we can see you two are in LOVE!” The love songs kept coming until we ran out! Within the week we realized we were in love and started dating! January 1980, 6 months later, we were married! Thank you Disney!! We celebrated our 30th this year.

My husband and I would look for a way to spend a joyful and peaceful day so off we would go to Disneyland. When we adopted a child we quickly introduced her to all things Disney and took her to Disneyland for the first time when she was 3 months old. We decided to homeschool our daughter and we would take her to Disneyland often to learn. We would walk down Main Street and talk about history, the development of transportation and electricity and in the Opera House we talked about Lincoln, the Civil War, (for a time) development of photography, slavery and state rights. There are many other ways to learn at Disneyland if you have an open and creative mind.

I’ll tell you the one last reason and it’s a secret for my Disney Addiction. I suffer from depression, life has not been kind to me in many ways. I choose to take Walt Disney’s advice and live by his example and choose to be happy and make a difference instead of wallowing in self-pity. Walking into Disneyland I truly leave most of my problems at the gate and give my soul time to recharge. As a Christian I take to heart Jesus’ words, “Come to me as a child.” I believe that means I should not be childish but childlike. A child has whimsy and an open heart. There is a willingness to suspend reality (the truths they know for sure) to accept the amazing. Going to Disneyland or watching a Disney movie reminds me to be childlike and be ready to be amazed.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Welcome to Pixie Pranks!!

Here I'll share some of my Disney Memories, Ramblings and Craft Ideas. Drop in kick off your shoes and explore.

This is just the begining and I'll be back later to fill it in.