After All…Or, Happy 50th, Small World!

“There’s so much that we share that it’s time we’re aware… It’s a small world after all.”  – Richard and Robert Sherman

 

small world

“It’s a Small World” at Disneyland

It’s the ride and song people love to mock and say they hate. It’s the valley of the dolls in the Happiest Place on Earth. It’s the attraction people most fear getting stuck on. So much so, in fact, that many refuse to ride it. It’s the song that has at times been used as a punchline in Disney movies itself.

It’s also the first attraction we took our daughter on when she visited Disneyland for the first time. It’s the ride that I find myself wanting to do at least once every day of my trip. It’s a song that has shaped not just my philosophy on why I love to write about Disney, but thoughts on life itself.

Yes, we have our differences. But we all have hopes and fears, excitements and disappointments. And I believe in lifting each other up, encouraging, and helping others to smile within the darkness we feel at times. We’re human, and need to treat each other accordingly. I feel that in reaching out to our fellow human beings, we’re helping ourselves as much as each other. Be positive. Learn to look past our differences to love each other. We may not agree on things, but perhaps…there’s some common ground. The mountains may divide us; the oceans may separate us. But in this day and age especially, the world is getting smaller and smaller in terms of communicating and reaching our fellow human beings.  When I think of the song in those terms, when I ride a boat through various countries and see smiling, happy children… I believe the world CAN be better.

There’s a video that I love watching to this day of songwriter Richard Sherman, beginning the song as originally intended – as a ballad. It really drives home the lyrics for me, and many times brings a tear to my eye:

This, to me, is the perfect example of the mastery of the Sherman Brothers’ music in score and lyric. As the story goes, the original concept was for the children of each country to sing their own national anthem. However, on a boat ride, the overlapping songs made for a jumbled, Tower of Babel-esque mess. How beautiful and symbolic for these two to come up with a melody and infusion of lyrics that would carry from room to room regardless of the language in which it was delivered!

A couple years back, upon the passing of Robert Sherman, his son (and co-director of “The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story”) wrote the following in memoriam of his father:

“From the time the ride opened, it was a tradition for the Bob Sherman family to always go on “It’s a Small World,” every time we visited Disneyland. Dad would be on the boat, but he never took in the ride. He’d watch the children’s faces. Dad studied their awe and wonder and loved that, by the end of the ride, these kids would know the words and be singing along. He’d always tear up.

Dad told me he wished he could just stand at the end of that ride and shake everyone’s hand as they stepped off the boat. He wanted to thank each person for listening, for taking to heart his deceptively simple message of peace and brotherhood….

….It warms my heart to know Dad’s messages of peace and love, brotherhood, charity and humility, hope — and family — are there forever in his and my Uncle’s songs. And I know that somewhere in the world right this very moment, some child is learning and singing out Dad’s lovely words and Dick’s gorgeous melodies — “It’s a Small World” or one of the Sherman Brothers’ thousand other beloved songs. Simple, sing-able and sincere. And these children will, in turn, pass them onto their own. And my Dad is right there with them, smiling through a tear. As I am now.

Dad and his dear, sweet heart and brilliant mind will live on forever. His ride may be over, but when you sing his words, know that Bob Sherman is smiling down on you — and wishing he could shake your hand. —– Thank you.”

Thanks for your words, Jeff. I have no doubt that he is and lives on, not only in this attraction, but in so many other works as well.

I would be remiss in not mentioning others who helped make “Its a Small World” what it is. Wonderful legends such as Mary Blair, Alice Davis, Harriet Burns, Rolly Crump. Their contributions to costuming, architecture and color design helped turn a boat ride in a show building into a beautiful work of art. And of course, the man who dreamed it up and really believed in the message he put forward, Walt Disney himself. Years from now, people will still be making fun of the song. They may still be debating whether Disney characters should have been added to the attraction, whether the outside facade should be colorful or white. Yet, I truly believe that even more people, young and old alike, will continue to ride and be amazed at the artistry and the message the attraction brings. Perhaps they will be able to forget their worries for 15 minutes as they listen to the lyrics, thinking about how wonderful life could be if we all found common ground. Maybe, for at least a moment, they really will realize that it truly IS a small world after all.

Happy birthday, “It’s a Small World!” Thanks to all who made it the amazing attraction and song that it has become on a worldwide scale. Here’s to many more happy cruises!

Looking forward to setting sail again!

Looking forward to setting sail again!

 

 

A Bench in the Park

THE Bench. Or at least one of them. There were a few around the carousel at Griffith Park. Photo courtesy Mr. Twitchy

According to Walt, it’s important that we all remember one thing: that it was all started by a mouse. But when it comes to Disneyland, I also can’t help but think…. it was all started by a bench.

As has been repeated over the years, I’m sure by now we all know the story. Walt would occasionally take his daughters on a date to Griffith Park for a day together. As the girls would ride the carousel at the park, Walt would sit and watch, eating popcorn and thinking. Thinking about a park where parents could enjoy themselves as much as their children. Where entire families could have fun instead of someone being relegated to a bench. This bench proved to be a catalyst for Disneyland – a theme park that far exceeded those expectations.

Therefore, it was somewhat both fitting and ironic, when asked by a friend where my favorite spot in Disneyland to just “hang” was, that I responded with “a bench.” But not just any bench. While there are many places to take it easy and rest in the park, there’s one location in my opinion that has the others beat.

Simple, unassuming… and the perfect spot. Photo Courtesy of Mr. Twitchy

While not as exciting as an attraction, nor as appetite satisfying as a restaurant, there’s something incredibly amazing to me about sitting on a bench at the base of Main Street Station, looking out at Main Street toward Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. As one sits on one of these benches, especially later at night, one gets a true feeling of how amazing the park can really be.

Imagine sitting on a bench, listening to turn-of-the-century style music, hearing conversations between cast members and guests, seeing guests hurry into stores to make last minute purchases. Observing other guests as they leave the park for the day with children passed out in strollers. These same little ones who started the day with such energy and excitement are now reliving the adventure in their dreams. While sitting it that spot, you get a whiff of the popcorn from the nearby stand in Town Square, beginning to contemplate giving in and getting your own box. Keep a sharp eye out and you may see a feral cat scurry by amidst all the hustle and bustle, causing you wonder how it feels to be a small feline living in a land of over-sized mice.

If you look further down Main Street, you can see, against a backdrop of a European castle, the outline of a man and a mouse smiling at all the happy guests. At that moment, you turn to look to the fire station and see a light on – indicating that the same man’s spirit lives on…

Yes, that bench is the ultimate “just hang” spot for me. And perhaps that’s the ultimate beauty of Walt’s original Magic Kingdom. With so much to enjoy for the whole family, the benches placed throughout the park give us a view to such an amazing panorama of everything that makes it truly magical.

With that being said, now I ask, dear readers and fellow DisNerds – Do you have a favorite spot to just relax and enjoy within Disneyland or any of Disney’s theme parks for that matter? I’d love to hear from you as well!

On a side note – this weekend (Feb 21st-23rd), Confessions will once again be at Disneyland, including participating in Dapper Day festivites! Make sure you’re following on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for updates and pictures from the park!

“Ask a DisNerd” Is Moving!

Greetings, all! As we move forward into 2014 and prepare to roll out more features and articles on Confessions of a DisNerd, I wanted to let you all know of a bit of a change.

 

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Last year, I added a new feature: Ask a DisNerd. The goal in this was to open up a dialogue on all things Disney. Whether the subject was movies, music, theme parks, opinion, or something a reader was curious about but never had an answer to, I wanted a forum where people could ask these questions. However, the functionality of a true “ask” feature never came to fruition – the only options were to message through Facebook or comment on a blog post. As well, some questions require a quick answer, and some may require more detail, and I’d really like to answer them as they come in. For that reason, I’m happy to announce that the “Ask a DisNerd” section of the blog is going to a new home – on Tumblr.

For those not too familiar with Tumblr, it’s a crazy blog/social media hybrid where people can share their innermost thoughts and reflections, or in many cases, pictures and gifs… but I digress.

Tumblr also has a great feature for asking questions of the blogger, with the best part being you don’t have to have a Tumblr account – you can ask anonymously! All you need to do to submit a question now is go to this page: Ask a DisNerd on Tumblr. (Maybe a good idea to bookmark while you’re at it?) In the sidebar you’ll see a blue box that says: “Ask me anything about Disney – Theme Parks, Movies, Music, Opinions, Trivia!” Just click on that box and ask away!

If you're not signed up with a Tumblr account, you'll have to ask anonymously, but you can still include your name in the question if you wish!

If you’re not signed up with a Tumblr account, you’ll have to ask anonymously, but you can still include your name in the question if you wish!

 

Of course, there may still be times when a question requires an entire blog post, so I plan on sharing the love on both here and Tumblr in those instances! Also, if you do have a Tumblr account, feel free to follow me there so I can follow you back as well. As always, feel free to contact us through the other methods listed on the “Other Places to Find Us” page. Looking forward to this fun change, and to answering more questions!

“Maleficent” Introduces a Haunting New Cover of “Once Upon A Dream”

“Maleficent” is flying to a theater near you May 30, 2014! Released today was Lana Del Rey’s haunting, dark cover of the Disney classic, “Once Upon A Dream,” which supposedly will play at the end credits of the film. Enjoy portions of the song (and wickedly fantastic shots of Angelina Jolie as the Mistress of All Evil) in this new trailer. And give us your thoughts on this upcoming feature in the comment section below!

Disney’s 2014 Oscar Nominations

This morning, the nominees for the 86th annual Academy Awards were announced, with the following nominations for Disney:

 

Copyright The Walt Disney Company

Copyright The Walt Disney Company

 

“Frozen” received nominations for Best Animated Feature (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Peter Del Vecho) and Best Original Song with “Let It Go” (Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez)

 

Copyright The Walt Disney Company

Copyright The Walt Disney Company

 

“Get a Horse” received a nomination for Best Animated Short Film (Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim).

 

Copyright The Walt Disney Company

Copyright The Walt Disney Company

 

Thomas Newman received a Best Original Score nomination for “Saving Mr. Banks.”

 

“The Lone Ranger” (Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier) and “Iron Man 3″ (Marvel/Paramount) (Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick) received Best Visual Effects nominations, while “Lone Ranger” also received a nod for Best Makeup and Hairstyling (Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny).

 

There you have it, folks! Any nominations you’re happy to see? Any you feel were missed or snubbed? (Personally I would have liked to see Emma Thompson get a nomination for Best Actress, as well as think it would have been nice to see a little more love for “Saving Mr. Banks” in general.) Sound off in the comments section!

Visit the Oscars website for a complete list of nominations.

Captain America Coming to Disneyland

In anticipation of the upcoming Marvel Pictures release, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” Shawn Slater of the Disney Parks Blog announced today that Cap will be making his way to Disneyland this spring to greet guests, along with fellow avenger Thor. Although specific dates and the location have not been set, one would think this would more than likely occur at least a few weeks before the movie’s release date, and even more likely in Innoventions with the Thor:Treasures of Asgard and Iron Man exhibits.

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I haven’t had the chance to visit the other exhibits in Innoventions – it’s not high on the list of my six year old when we’re at the parks – but I’m loving these meet and greets at the park, and Cap is my favorite Avenger! Anyone else excited?

Captain America: The Winter Soldier opens in theaters nationwide April 4th, 2014.

Disney’s “Frozen” Gets Official DVD/Blu-Ray Release Date

While pre-orders for the latest animated feature from the Disney studios began on Amazon practically as soon as the movie opened in theaters, today the Walt Disney Company officially announced “Frozen” would be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on March 18th, 2014.

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Special Features on the Blu-ray combo pack include the following:

  • Original Theatrical Short – “Get A Horse”
  • The Making Of Frozen: People want to know how movies are made, this piece will do that for you. Hosts Kristen Bell, Josh Gad and Jonathan Groff take you deep into the Disney Animation Studios on a musical tour written by composers Kristen Anderson Lopez & Robert Lopez. Directed By Kenny Ortega
  • D’frosted: Disney’s Journey From Hans Christian Anderson to Frozen: While Frozen is a new and unique fairy tale, the story of Hans Christian Anderon’s The Snow Queen was one of Walt Disney’s projects in development for years. Through research and never before seen concept artwork by Marc Davis, we take a look at the legacy of this story and how it lead the way for Frozen.
  • Breaking The Ice (The Real Making Of Frozen): Join the filmmakers and crew of FROZEN as we go behind the scenes and explore how this modern Disney Classic was made.
  • DELETED SCENES with introduction by Directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee:
  • - Never Underestimate The Power Of Elsa
  • - The Dressing Room
  • - Meet Kristoff #1
  • - Meet Kristoff #2
  • Let It Go (End Credit Version) Music Videos:
  • - Demi Lovato (English)
  • - Martina Stoessel (Spanish)
  • - Martina Stoessel (Italian)
  • - Marsha Milan (Malaysian)
  • Frozen Teaser Trailer
Frozen will also be available for HD Download on February 25th.
Disney is currently pre-selling the movie here.
Anyone else excited for this release? I have to admit, I’m looking forward to watching this again (and again and again) in the comfort of my own home, but it is well worth the price of admission in theaters if you are able to make it – the big screen experience is not to be missed!
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