Thursday, June 30, 2011

Disneyland Edutainment Part 6 of 10 ~ Critter Country ~ Reprised

Disneyland Edutainment Part 6 of 10 ~ Critter Country ~ Reprised

There is not much in Critter Country . . . or is there?

It’s Teaching Disney Thursday!

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!

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 many 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 of the American 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. Discuss what life was like for the Native Americans before and after the settlers moved across the land.

As you are walking into Critter Country maybe you will take a ride on the Davie Crockett Canoes. What would it have been like to have that as your main source of transportation? Why are there no motors on those little boats? Use it as a chance to show how teamwork makes rowing the boat easier. Again for the older kids talk about the science behind the shape and proper use of the paddle.

Spend some time before you go to read some of the original Winnie the Pooh stories and watch some cartoons. 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. Give older kids a chance to make up their own stories about their “adventures” with Pooh and the gang.

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, 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 big drop?

Maybe when your kids have a quiet day and start up with, “What am I do to, I’m so board!?” you can remind them of Brier Rabbit and suggest they write a story of their own. Maybe the adventures of the family pet. Get them thinking about why the dog wags its tail when you say “walk” or pick up the leash to take it out. What could be going through its mind and what would it say if it could talk.

       If you wish talk about why Song of the South is not sold in the USA. The reason is Walt Disney, after the movie was released and was nominated for an Oscar felt the movie could be seen as bigoted. Some people feel the fact that Uncle Remus “is happy” to stay with his ex-owners and care for them after being freed gives the wrong impression of how freed slaves felt about their owners.

       In truth many freed slaves did stay on with their “owners” working as share croppers ect. They did not have skills or education to other jobs nor did they have money to move away. Many owners were not vicious or cruel either. Some realized if they treated their slaves fairly they would work harder and produce more. Some used slaves because it was culturally normal and acceptable and they knew no other way. They did not see it as wrong even though it was. But I digress.

       You can use this to talk about some of the famous people that started life as slaves and were freed during the Civil War. A great example is George Washington Carver. He was born a slave. George and his older brother were raised by their ex-owners after slavery was abolished. His parents and other siblings had been kidnapped several years before and nobody knew where they were. The Carver’s encouraged George’s natural drive to learn and taught him to read and write.

       A lot of this you can and should open the topic at the park and then talk about it in the days ahead at home after your trip. Some you do while there. As always keep park time fun and light. It is a time to open the mind and teach them to learn from all that is around them. It is not a time to pull out all the text books, work books and do heavy writing assignments. On the other hand if they wish to stop and sit to write a bit then do so!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Who were Walt’s Nine Old Men?

Who were Walt’s Nine Old Men?
Disney's Nine Old Men - copyright Walt Disney Company
       After Walt lost Oswald and his animation team in 1928 he went looking for new animators to take their place. Even Ub left in 1930 (to return in 1940) leaving Walt in great need of help.
       Walt found 9 young animators willing to learn and grow along with him and the Disney Studio. These men became his core animation team and many later became directors and helped in the design of Disneyland.  Many of these men have been overlooked in the history of animation except by other animators and film historians. They deserve to be remembered and have their contributions to Disney, film, animation, theme park development and general contributions to our society passed on to the next generation.
The group’s name, “The Nine Old Men” was a joke started by Walt Disney. He jokingly called this group of animators his "Nine Old Men," referring to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s dismissive description of the nine justices of the US Supreme Court. The name stuck! The entire group was in their 20’s - 40’s and not one was old at the time.
Les Clark was the only animator to have been there before the creation of Mickey Mouse. Les Clark started as an apprentice animator in 1927. The rest of the Nine Old Men started working for Disney between 1933-1935.
Some or all of these men worked an all the Disney animated movies from Snow White to The Rescuers. They were credited with creating many new animation techniques and styles. Each one strived to improve his ability and the art form in general.
Here is a list of the Nine Old Men and their major accomplishments. Over the next nine weeks I will dedicate a Bio Wednesday blog to each one of these talented men.
  • Les Clark (November 17, 1907 – September 12, 1979), who joined Disney in 1927. His specialty was animating Mickey Mouse as he was the only one of the Nine Old Men to work on that character from its origins with Ub Iwerks. Les did many scenes throughout the years, animating up until Lady and the Tramp. He moved into directing and made many animated featurettes and shorts.
  • Mark Davis (March 30, 1913 – January 12, 2000) started in 1935 on Snow White, and later he went on to develop/animate the characters of Bambi and Thumper (in Bambi), Maleficent and the raven (in Sleeping Beauty), and Cruella de Vil (in One Hundred and One Dalmations). Davis was responsible for character design for both the Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion attractions at Disneyland.
  • Ollie Johnston (October 31, 1912 – April 14, 2008), who joined Disney in 1935, first worked on Snow White. He went on to author the animator's bible The Illusion of Life with Frank Thomas. His work includes Mr. Smee (in Peter Pan), the Stepsisters (in Cinderella), the District Attorney (in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad), and Prince John (in Robin Hood). According to the book The Disney Villain, written by Johnston and Frank Thomas, Johnston also partnered with Thomas on creating characters such as Ichabod Crane (in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad) and Sir Hiss (in Robin Hood).
  • Milt Kahl (March 22, 1909 – April 19, 1987) started in 1934 working on Snow White. His work included villains such as Shere Khan (in The Jungle Book), Edgar the butler (in The Aristocats), the Sheriff of Nottingham (in Robin Hood), and Madame Medusa (in The Rescuers).
  • Ward Kimball (March 4, 1914 – July 8, 2002) joined Disney in 1934. His work includes Lucifer, Jaq and Gus, (in Cinderella), and the Mad Hatter and Cheshire Cat (in Alice in Wonderland). His work was often more 'wild' than the other Disney animators and was unique.
  • Eric Larson (September 3, 1905 – October 25, 1988) joined in 1933. One of the top animators at Disney, he animated notable characters such as Peg in Lady And The Tramp; the Vultures in The Jungle Book; Peter Pan's flight over London to Neverland; and Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and Brer Bear (in Song of the South). Because of Larson's demeanor and ability to train new talent, Larson was given the task to spot and train new animators at Disney in the 1970s. Many of the top talents at Disney today were trained by Eric in the '70s and '80s.
  • John Lounsbery (March 9, 1911 – February 13, 1976) started in 1935 and, working under Norm 'Fergy' Ferguson, quickly became a star animator. Lounsbery, affectionately known as 'Louns' by his fellow animators, was an incredibly strong draftsman who inspired many animators over the years. His animation was noted for its squashy, stretchy feel. Lounsbery animated Ben Ali Gator in Fantasia; George Darling in Peter Pan; Tony, Joe, and some of the dogs in Lady And The Tramp; The Kings in Sleeping Beauty; The Elephants in The Jungle Book; and many, many others. In the 1970s, Louns was promoted to Director and co-directed Winnie The Pooh And Tigger Too and his last film, The Rescuers.
  • Wolfgang Reitherman (June 26, 1909 – May 22, 1985) joined Disney in 1933 as an animator and director. He directed all the animated Disney films after Walt's death until his retirement. Some of his work includes Monstro in Pinocchio, the Crocodile (in Peter Pan), the Dragon (in Sleeping Beauty), and the Rat (in Lady and the Tramp).
  • Frank Thomas (September 5, 1912 – September 8, 2004) joined Disney in 1934. He went on to author the animator's bible The Illusion of Life with Ollie Johnston. His work included the wicked Stepmother (in Cinderella), the Queen of Hearts (in Alice in Wonderland), and Captain Hook (in Peter Pan).

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Disneyland Edutainment Part 5 of 10 ~ New Orleans Square ~ Reprised

Disneyland Edutainment Part 5 of 10 ~ New Orleans Square ~ Reprised

What can you learn in New Orleans Square?

It’s Teaching Disney Tuesday!

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 or 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 there. 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 about 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 or sailor 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, culture, cooking and language?

Monday, June 27, 2011

That Insidious Hideous ride with that Insidious Hideous song

That Insidious Hideous ride with that Insidious Hideous song

       There is one ride at Disneyland that brings terror to my heart if you say I have to go on it. No, it is not any of the rollercoasters or the Tower of Terror. It is “It’s a Small World”.

       Ok I know if you have small kids this may be their favorite ride of all time and it does have such a wonderful and joyous message. But, have you considered that the music is totally insidious! Be honest, you know exactly what I mean! You hear the first 3 notes and the entire song is stuck in your head for days or maybe even weeks! It plays over and over in your mind and you just can’t stop it! You look at those little dancing dolls and the way they are always smiling and after a while you beginning to feel like they are going to chase you!! I know that about half way through I’m looking for a way out and hoping the dolls don’t follow me.

       The theme of the ride is well indented. This ride was commissioned for the 1964 World’s Fair to raise money for UNICEF and was sponsored by Pepsi. The idea of the ride is to show the children of the world united in joy and to show that all children have the same emotional ups and down. The Sherman Brother wrote the song and even donated all their proceeds from the song to UNICEF.

       I do enjoy the holiday version of the ride. The It’s a Small World song is diminished and Christmas carols are added. There are Christmas decorations in keeping with the style of each country. It is beautiful ride at the holidays.

       I will be honest, I like the ride for the message it tries to teach and the positive feelings it encourages. For a parent homeschooling or just wishing to be part of teaching a child it is a great way to open conversations on different countries and cultures. The song is catchy and well written. It is so well written it sinks into your brain and takes over. You have to admit the Sherman Brothers did a wonderful job with the song. It does exactly what they intended it to do.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mickey’s SOUNDsational Parade!

Mickey’s SOUNDsational Parade!

       I recently had the pleasure of spending a day at Disneyland and I chose to do something I’ve not enjoyed in a long time. I decided I wanted to write about the new parade so I needed to see it. This new parade is part of the Disney SOUNDsational Sumer.

       For about the last 15 years or so Disney has changed the style of parade they have. They use to have a moving show parade. The parade route became a stage with a flow of movement and dance. About 15 years ago they changed to a show stop parade style.

       In a show stop parade the parade stops at designated locations for the characters and performers to do a specific routine. The problem is not all the floats stop at all the stopping points! If you are like me and want to see every part of the parade you had better have an annual pass or lots of money so you can come back often to watch the parade from different locations. Even that will not guarantee you will see each floats special routine clearly.

       Part of the reason for the show stop parade was to encourage audience participation. This was an epic failure in my opinion. People just don’t join in when they give the invitation to join the characters and performers dancing or singing.

       The one show stopping parade that worked was the Lion King. This parade did not ask for audience participation. That parade had such a high wow factor it was breathtaking.

       The new Mickey’s SOUNDsational Parade does not stop. It is more like the classic Main Street Electrical Parade. It does not stop but carries on giving a continuous nonstop show.

       The theme of the parade is music. All the floats are either musical instruments or made of instruments. The same song is played throughout the parade but the style of the song changes to fit the characters passing your location. When the Lion King goes by it has an African beat then they go into a song from the movie and when Tiana goes by it changes to a jazz style.

       Unlike the last parade that I avoided this parade does not assault the ears or overload the eyes. The music is enjoyable and lively. There is just enough going on to keep your involved and entertained without overloading the senses and making you frustrated because you miss things.

       If you are at the park this summer I highly recommend you take the time to see this very enjoyable parade. It is a great show and fun way to give your Disney abused feet a break.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What mementoes can you bring home from the Disney Cruise for little/no $$

What mementoes can you bring home

from the Disney Cruise for little/no $$

       We all enjoy bringing home mementoes from our trips. I know I want to get things to remind me of all the wonderful fun I had while was having my adventure. Problem is we can’t always afford to buy all the fun things we wish to. Even if we did buy them all what do we do with that large sombrero or stuffed fish that demanded to be purchased?

       There are lots of things you can bring home from your Disney Cruise that cost little to nothing. For a small amount of money you can purchase post cards. These give you pictures of the ship and/or ports you could not get otherwise. You can add them to a scrapbook or frame them to hang on your wall. You can purchase stamps from the various ports you go to. You can either keep them pristine or mail them home to yourself on a postcard. These can be framed or put in a scrapbook with your postcards as you desire.

       There are wonderful drinks you can get in plastic glasses you can bring home. The drink is about $7 and you keep the plastic goblet it comes in. these come in both alcoholic and non alcoholic versions. Watch for discounts toward the end of deck parties and other events! Be aware the discounts are offered on the drinks they have already made and are left over. You take what is there or don’t get them. These glasses are a wonderful reminder of fun times when you get home.

Take a good digital camera and lots of batteries (or several sets of rechargeable batteries and a charger) with extra memory chips or a laptop computer you can download the chips too. Digital pictures can be made into picture CD’s or DVD’s with slideshows and music to relive the magic of your trip for years to come.

Remember to take your camera to character meet and greets. In fact keep your camera with you wherever you go because you don’t know when you will see something you wish you could take a picture of. You also never know when you will see a character just walking around the ship. This can save you lots of money on the professional photos. Usually the professional photographer will take pictures with your camera as well as theirs if you ask. If they will not, and for some reason there are times they say no, you can usually ask the person in line behind you to take a picture or two. You can offer to do the same for them making a new friend in the process. If there is a crewmember around that is not a photographer they are always willing to snap a picture for you.

If you are traveling with a large group of people look into sharing a photo package at Shutters. Another idea is to get together and split the cost of a photo CD from Shutters. You can have all the professionally shot pictures for your entire group put on one CD for a single price. I believe the price is around $350 (too expensive for a single family in my opinion) but I do not know the exact price for sure. This is not widely advertised. They don’t have the information on the website and you need to ask for this at Shutters when you get on the ship. Once you purchase this photo CD you can designate one member of your group to make copies for everyone. They can take it home and mail it to everybody or, if they bring a computer and blank disks do it before you leave the ship. You can then print the pictures you like at home if you have a good printer or take them to a store and have them printed. You not only get your children and spouse’s picture you get the pictures of everybody in your group! I have friends who did this and they ended up with well over 350 pictures of people in their group from all over the ship and Castaway Cay. It worked out to a little over $1 per picture for the total price!! Well worth the price, especially if you split this between four or more family groups.

       I suggest you pack a divided travel folder to pack away print material to bring home. This will keep it from getting folded or wrinkled during your trip. Anything small thing that may get damaged drop into the folder.

The first free mementoes you will receive is your luggage tags. It will be mailed to you several weeks before your sail date. We scanned our luggage tags before putting them on our bags. Then when we returned home we carefully cut them off and stuck them in our folder until we can get them into a scrapbook. You will also get a luggage tag at the end of the cruise that indicates where you can find your luggage in the port terminal and what disembarking group you are in. Ask your room steward for an extra one for your scrapbook. Grab an extra map of the ship as well!

When you get to your cabin you will find some Disney Cruise Line Stationary for writing a note home along with a couple of complimentary post cards. I suggest you save those as you can’t purchase these anywhere.

       Everyday you are given a Personal Navigator. I went to guest services and got a second copy or maybe even two. Take a highlighter with you and mark one copy with the things you want to do. Maybe even check off the things you did after that so you can have them to look back at later to jog your memory on what you did each day. The days can get so busy it is easy to lose track of what you did each day.

       The kids have crafts they make in the kids clubs every day. Those are always fun to keep and look back on. If it is something your child plays with take a picture of it before they play with it too much so you can remember their creativity. I suggest you get your child a inexpensive digital camera and put their name and your cabin number on it. They will see a lot of characters in the kids clubs and will want to take pictures of and with them. They will also make many new friends they will want pictures of so they can remember them.

       There are many different lectures/classes onboard each has printed directions for what they taught. For example, when you sit in on a Disney Art of Entertainment lecture on cooking they give you printed copies of the recipes to take home. If you enjoy towelgomi you can get directions for some of the fun towel critters they leave in your room at a class that teaches you how to make them. Besides being a fun thing to do at home they are good mementoes to remember you time on the ship. Even if you did not go to the lecture/class you can pick up the paperwork if you happen to go past the area before they clean them up.

       If you wish to get either all of the Princess’ or the classic Disney characters autographs all together here is a fun way to do it. Take something along with you to have signed. It can be a pillowcase, shirt or a picture frame matt. The choice is yours. Let your mind get creative on what you want signed. Drop it off at the Guest Services Desk in the Atrium Lobby near the start of your trip. Sometime toward the middle end of your trip it will be returned to your stateroom signed by the characters you requested. You can purchase something in the gift shop and have them sign it if you wish. We purchased a picture of the Disney Wonder in Mexico and had the classic Disney characters sign it for us. We will frame it and hang it in a place of honor later.

       This may sound strange but take a small note pad and pencil. Use this to give new friends your contact information and if you wish and to write down their contact information. This way you can keep contact with these new friends when you get home.

       You can also find things like napkins and other items with the cruise logo or characters on them. Let me know what other free or low cost mementoes’ you like to bring home.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

       This much anticipated new ride at Disney California Adventure opened to great fanfare and with much excitement.. This is part of a much larger expansion and numerous changes to DCA.

       This ride is a nonstop enjoyable swim through Ariel’s world. It is a dark ride in the style of many classic Disney Fantasyland rides like Peter Pan’s Flight and Snow White’s Scary Adventure. The difference is in the use of some updated technology. They use video projection and updated Audio-Animatronics. Ariel’s hair moves, ever so slightly to give the illusion of floating in the water. Ursula does an amazing squash and stretch movement just like the character does in the movie. Over all it the ride relies on the old standby use of moving props to tell the story.

When we went on the on a Thursday the line was short. This was a surprise as the ride has not been open that long. Part of the reason the line is short is the nonstop loading. Even guests in wheelchairs board while the ride is still in motion. It does slow down for wheelchairs to load into Triton’s Chariot but not that much.

The line itself is pleasantly themed and a good portion of the line is under the roof so you will be in the shade. While you wait in line take time to look around. Look at the ground and you will see sea creatures in the walkway. Shells of various sea creatures look to be imbedded in the walkway. The line moves quickly due to the nonstop loading of the ride so the wait should never be too long.

The ride is broken into segments that show you different scenes from the movie taking you through the entire story. All of Ariel’s friends are there to entertain you as you go through the ride. The colors are bright and cheerful. Even though it is a “Dark Ride” (Meaning a ride totally inside a building with the environment totally controlled to tell the story.) very seldom is the ride “dark”. Only when going through Ursula’s lair is the lighting dimmed some.

Other than Ursula there is nothing scary about this ride and even the little kids should enjoy it. Even Ursula is not that scary and her scene is short.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Disneyland Edutainment Part 4 of 10 - Frontierland ~ Reprised

Disneyland Edutainment Part 4 of 10 - Frontierland ~ Reprised

What can you learn from Frontierland!

It’s Teaching Disney Thursday!

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?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Disney Legend ~ Ub Iwerks ~ Part 2

Biography Wednesday
Disney Legend ~ Ub Iwerks
Part 2 ~ 1928 ~ 1971

Ub Iwerks

From 1928 ~ 1930 Ub worked with Walt and continued to be the main animator for Mickey Mouse and the studio in general. Walt also had Ub training his new set of animators. Ub trained up Walt’s famous 9 Old Men. From what I’ve heard he was a demanding teacher and when mistakes were made he was sharp and ruthless with his criticism. If you did well he was light on praise. He was also considered one of the best teachers because he was so good at what he did and he pulled the best out of students who had talent and tried.

       Because of the betrayal Walt felt over the loss of Oswald and more importantly his animation crew Walt became driven and mistrusting of people in general. This often was taken out on Ub. In 1930 Ub had finally had enough of Walt’s demands and the fact that Walt seemed to be taking the credit for his work. When Pat Powers came to him with an offer to finance a studio of his own Ub could not refuse.

Flip the Frog Annual       Ub created several characters for his Iweerks Studio, one being the Mickey styled Flip the Frog and another Willie Whopper. For three years Ub tried to get his studio going but could never compete with Disney. The studio failed in 1936 and the majority of Ub’s cartoons from that time were never widely distributed but some are available today on DVD.

From 1937 to 1940 Ub worked for various studios was even contracted to direct four Looney Tunes cartoons. He did two of them but before he could return to finish another team was hired to do the other two. Ub also did a ComiColor series that included a short titled “Little Black Sambo”. It was so racially stereotyped that it was banned in the United States.

       In 1940 Ub did the unthinkable and returned to Disney studios but not as an animator. Not many who crossed Walt Disney could ever get back in his good graces. He worked on developing special visual effects. He is credited as developing the processes for combining live action and animation used in Song of the South, as well as the xerographic process adapted for cel animation. He also worked at WED Enterprises, now Walt Disney Imagineering, helping to develop many Disney theme park attractions during the 1960s. Iwerks did special effects work outside the studio as well, including his Academy Award nominated achievement for Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds in 1963.

       Here is a list of his awards.

Academy Awards, USA
Academy Award of Merit
Shared with:
Petro Vlahos
Pohl, Wadsworth E.
For the conception and perfection of techniques for Color Traveling Matte Composite Cinematography.
Best Effects, Special Visual Effects
for:The Birds (1963).
Technical Achievement Award
For the design of an improved optical printer for special effects and matte shots.
Annie Awards
Winsor McCay Award

Dr. U'bx       DC comics has a super villain named Dr U’bx in Ub’s honor.

       Ub was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1989. His two sons Don and Dave both worked for Disney. There is actually a fourth generation of Iweerks working for the Disney Company today.

       So hats off and pencils up in honor of Ub Iweerks, The Hand Behind the Mouse.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Disneyland Edutainment Part 3 of 10 - Fantasyland ~ Reprised

Disneyland Edutainment Part 3 of 10 - Fantasyland ~ Reprised

What can you learn from Fantasy!

It’s Teaching Disney Tuesday!

Let’s 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 or anything you see multiples of! 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 when they get home 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 may 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 and the story was written. 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 is that Fantasy is an important part of life. Without Fantasy there is no Imagination. Without Imagination there are no dreams. Without dreams new technology and thoughts would not be possible. In all Fantasy there is some Reality. In all Reality there is some Fantasy.