Cory and Ashley – Happily Ever After

Some of the best Disney stories are stories about how much Disney is just a part of our lives, and looking back on how significant of a role it plays throughout. Today’s story comes from Cory, who tells us of how a connection started with Disney being just one of the aspects, but played a very important role as a relationship progressed.

“Though my wife Ashley and I don’t live and breathe Disney like so many wonderful super-fans, Disney has had an important place in every major step in our relationship.

We met through our workplace. I am an educator in a museum and she began at the same museum as a member of the security team. That was when I first took notice of this beautiful, curly-haired girl who looked like she just stepped out of a Medieval painting. She moved on to the education team, and we discovered in the course of our first conversation that we both had a lot of love for the Middle Ages, fantasy and fairy tales, and for Disney films in particular.

After a year of resisting my charms, she condescended to date me. A few months thereafter, we took our first trip together, to Disneyland U.S.A. I had been to Disneyland twice before, as well as Paris and Tokyo, and she had been to Disneyland Paris herself. This, however, was her first trip to the first Disneyland and her birthday, so we pulled out all the stops. There wasn’t a tour or a dessert party we didn’t do. We even finagled a trip to the Disney Studios! Most importantly, it proved that we were able to travel together and further cemented what a good match we were.

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Another year and a bit later, we took a trip together to Paris which, naturally, included Disneyland. At one point, Disneyland Paris even came to our rescue: we accidentally boarded the wrong train in the city of Tours, and could have ended up at either Bordeaux or Disneyland Paris. Thankfully it was headed in the right direction! More importantly, it was at the end of our full, planned day in Disneyland that we got engaged.

I planned to propose to Ashley at some point during our trip, as everyone including herself guessed I might. I just didn’t know when that would be! But after the evening performance of Disney Dreams, as the crowds filtered out and we sat on the edge of a fountain, admiring the castle, the conversation turned and I knew that was the moment. I presented her with a ring inside of a tiny pumpkin carriage, slipped to one knee, proclaimed her my fairy tale princess come true, and asked for her hand. She replied with ‘hold on a second’… and then presented me with a ring of her own!

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Of course, some of our friends and family thought it odd that, with all of France at our disposal, we would have gotten engaged at Disneyland. Those who really knew us knew better. It couldn’t have been more perfect. Besides, you couldn’t visit the Eiffel Tower without tripping over a couple getting engaged. There wasn’t enough room for us!

Our wedding just over another year later was fairy tale themed. We didn’t have the money for a Disney destination wedding, and would have balked at the idea anyways. Instead we “settled” for a meadow overlooking a valley in the Canadian Rocky Mountains near our home and a fairy tale themed reception. Each table had a centerpiece themed to a different story like Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Little Mermaid, Wizard of Oz, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and guests first had to figure out their table from the page of the story they were given. Then, each table had to guess when it was time to head to the buffet when the song associated with their story was played. “The Unbirthday Song” and “Heigh Ho” were easy… I was frankly surprised that anyone knew “Whale of a Tale”! The song for our first dance was “Beauty and the Beast”, though I’m not sure what that says about me.

 

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Our honeymoon was spent at Walt Disney World, in our first trip there for either one of us. That we went at the beginning of September was a climatic oversight for a pair of Canadians, but we still had a wonderful time!”

 

13875016_10157342603260454_1453763255_nCommon bonds. Magical destinations. True love.

Cory, you and Ashley are living your own fairy tale, and we at Confessions wish you a very wonderful “Happily Ever After.”

Cory is the author of the wonderful blogs, Voyages Extraordinaires: Scientific Romances in a Bygone Age, and Yesterday, Tomorrow and Fantasy: An Unofficial Guide to the World Beyond Disney (co-authored with his lovely wife, Ashley!). Make sure to visit these sites for hours of fascinating and highly recommended reading.

Do you have a “Disney story” you’d like to share? Confessions of a DisNerd would like to hear from you! For more information, please contact us at COADisNerd@cox.net or send a direct message through our Facebook page.

Why Tomorrowland Matters, Part 3: Does It Matter?

 

Tomorrowland fan-art poster courtesy of Joseph Marsh. Check out more of his amazing artwork on Behance!

Tomorrowland fan-art poster courtesy of Joseph Marsh. Check out more of his amazing artwork on Behance!

In Part One of the Why Tomorrowland Matters series, I spoke of my speculation of the upcoming movie, and my hopes of what it really was. In Part Two, I spoke of why the idea of Tomorrowland was so important, especially in a hardened and cynical world. Now, upon seeing the movie this past weekend, it’s time to ask the big question: did the movie live up to it’s expectations? Does Tomorrowland matter?

Short answer: Yes, it really does.

Of course, I have a longer reply as well, but it really comes down to the above statement. I’m reluctant to go too far into the movie plot, as many have not seen the movie yet, and I have no intentions to spoil it for those who intend to. What I will say it that, after viewing it, I definitely walked out of the theater with a feeling of optimism, which is exactly what the filmmakers intended. After seeing many mixed reviews, part of me truly believes how this movie is received depends on how much the viewer is willing to buy into this message. I, for one, am enamored with the idea of a place where people work together, toward a better and brighter future. Away from the distractions and discouragements that this world tends to offer, who knows what can happen? And that, my friends, is what Tomorrowland (The place within the movie) was meant to be. But is it? Can a brighter tomorrow be accomplished? These are the questions that linger as Casey (Britt Robertson), an intelligent and optimistic teenager who receives the mysterious Tomorrowland pin, and Frank (George Clooney), a cynical ex-resident banished from Tomorrowland, attempt to find this alternate-dimension locale.

While this movie is more about the journey than the destination, the destination itself is pretty phenomenal. To explain the real reason behind the journey aside from Casey’s curiosity would be, once again, giving too much away. Let’s just say there is a problem that needs to be solved, urgently, and the answer lies in Tomorrowland, along with the overseer of Tomorrowland, Governor Nix.

Why it all really matters, what it ultimately comes down to is this: Tomorrowland is a movie with a positive message. Are we as a people really doomed, or can we fix it? That’s what it really asks, and dares us to imagine it’s the latter over the former. I realize to many, it may come across as preachy, but for me, it was a message that needs to be heard. I’ve also heard from many there are too many plot holes. I would dare to say, there are some lingering questions that I’d love to see answered (perhaps in the form of an extended cut Blu-ray release), but to me personally, it didn’t take away from the fun or tone of the movie. And believe me, it is a very fun movie if you allow it to be – great humor and surprisingly intense action, especially for a PG rated movie!

 

I would like to register a complaint, however. I wore this on Small World... and nothing happened!

I would like to register a complaint, however. I wore this on Small World… and nothing happened!

 

As far as performances go, as the leads, George Clooney and Britt Robertson are great in their parts and do the roles justice. Robertson exudes an optimism, even in the darkest moments, while Clooney portrays Frank as jaded, but still shows a possible (deeply buried) spark of hope when the time comes to do so. Hugh Laurie was wonderful as David, and gives a great speech – about what, you’ll just have to go see and find out. (I realize there’s a lot of ambiguity in this review, but it’s best to remain spoiler free, and see and decide for oneself.) The biggest surprise though, is the performance by young Raffey Cassidy, who plays Athena, the mysterious young visitor/messenger from Tomorrowland. Her performance is quite memorable, and a character that definitely stuck with me well after we left the theater.

So does Tomorrowland matter? Yes. As a movie, very much so, and even more as an idea and a place many of us long for. I encourage anyone on the fence about seeing this movie to not listen to the critics. Instead, buy a ticket, see it in theaters while you can (I saw it on a large screen with great sound, but have heard the IMAX version is amazing!), and decide for yourself. At the same time, as a side note, you’ll be supporting original, non sequel or rebooted movies, which is something we don’t get much of right now!

I’d love to hear from you, fellow DisNerds – have you seen the movie? What are your feelings on it? Please keep spoilers to a minimum, if not non-existent. If you would like to discuss plot details, I’d be happy to do so. Just message me through the Confessions Facebook page!

Are you ready to go to Tomorrowland? I know I am!

 

 

Why Tomorrowland Matters, Part Two

Copyright The Walt Disney Company

Copyright The Walt Disney Company

In “Why Tomorrowland Matters, Part One,” I talked about the early hype and speculation I had for the upcoming Tomorrowland movie. Yet, in doing so, I realized I never discussed WHY both the movie, the theme park land, and the idea of Tomorrowland as a real place matter to me, and should (in my opinion) to others as well. I hope the words that follow make sense, as it’s a reason very near and dear to my heart. It’s also one of the reasons Walt Disney was such a fascinating man to me.

We live in a cynical world. And it’s understandable why we do. I mean, look at the news. As I write this, people in Nepal are recovering from a devastating earthquake. Clashes, riots, and terrorism are constantly main headlines for news outlets. Now, natural disasters, wars, civil unrest, and social injustices are nothing new. I know looking back even thousands of years, we can see evidence of these things happening. But at the same time, with advancements in technology and humanity, can we say this is the future Walt Disney envisioned when he built Tomorrowland in Disneyland? I don’t think anyone would argue the answer to that one. The Tomorrowland of 1955 is not where we are at today.

Yet, that vision is what we need. As many have noted, Walt was an optimist, or as Ray Bradbury preferred to call him, an “optimal behaviorist.” Every day, he was pressing forward, trying to be the best he could be, looking for new ways to do things, always looking to make better what had already been done. And better it he did. The development of the multiplane camera gave animation depth. An amusement park laid out through a central hub with themed lands in every direction gave birth to the theme park. A desire to make attractions more interactive and lifelike gave rise to Audio-Animatronics. Walt believed in looking forward, in using this technology for the greater good. I often stop and wonder what might have become of EPCOT, had Walt been given even just another five years on this earth.

 

 

Walt believed that people could work together. That they could solve problems. That the technology that was developing at such a rapid pace could be used for the betterment of all mankind. Sadly, this is not the world we seem to live in. We have this wonderful tool for learning called the “internet,” only too often it’s used to bully, attack and harm others. We have amazing opportunities for space travel and exploration that can be used not only to explore our limits, but learn more about this crazy place we live called Earth. However, at this time, the shuttle program has been shelved. We use resources and materials that can harm our environment instead of pursuing more efficient and cost effective ways to use clean energies. And why are the energies that CAN make a difference so costly and hard to obtain for some? Why are we NOT banding together more and asking, “What can I do to make a better Tomorrow? How can I help and do my part to make for a more livable future?”

It’s easy to give into doom and gloom. Turn on CNN and you can easily believe the world’s going to hell in a handbasket. However, Walt never believed that way. He believed in innovation. How can technology and moving forward help society? Peoplemovers and Monorails…. they were more than just theme park rides to him. They were mass transportation units that would alleviate everyday stresses and congestion of individual commutes. The Carousel of Progress was not just a history of how far we’d come, but how much further we could go. These ideals of a better tomorrow were ideals Walt believed in, and one of the biggest reasons I admire the man. I know things aren’t that pleasant in the world right now. But I’d love to see how we could make things better if we worked together to help instead of hinder or stay complacent.

My hope with the new movie is that Tomorrowland is seen as this sort of place. That it gives us hope that, despite all the wrong in the world, there still can be a “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.” I have read a few rumblings online (not many, mind you) of people unhappy with the idea of how Walt would be presented in the movie. Would he be another fictionalized account of Walt Disney, and why would they even do that? I, for one, would argue that the idea of Tomorrowland is very much the spirit of Walt, his optimism, and ideals. It’s something I personally would love to see reflected in the theme park versions of Tomorrowland once again as well. Perhaps if this movie does well, plans are in place for such a move? It’s just my opinion, and lots of speculation, but a Tomorrowland like that is an area that’s sorely needed right now. In the meantime, we can hope this optimism spreads beyond the realms of Disney. Could we be the change that is sorely needed? That’s where my real hope lies. As Father said in the Carousel of Progress, “I would like to say this much. Progress is something we can’t take for granted. Progress takes a lot of people wanting it and willing to work for it.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter, dear readers and fellow DisNerds? And be honest. Am I getting my hopes up on what’s really “just a movie?” Do you have hope for it like I do? Or, like me, do you hold out hope that somehow, we can build a REAL Tomorrowland if we can all manage to work together? If this article resonates with you, please comment, share with your friends, and start more conversations.

Stay tuned for Part Three in the series, as I plan on sharing my thoughts on the movie itself shortly after it opens!

 

Why Tomorrowland Matters, Part One

I hope we never lose sight of one thing: It was all started by a box.

Mysteries Galore...

Mysteries Galore…

When this “mystery box” was unleashed upon the public in 2013, many of us attempted to decipher what it could mean. All we knew is this “discovered” box would be the premise for Brad Bird’s upcoming film, “1952.” Now, this isn’t meant as an “I told you so” kind of brag, but I started talking to any of my friends who would listen about my wild ideas for what this film could be. There were three things that stood out for me about this box. The first was that 1952 was the year Walt Disney established Disneyland, Inc, and the public first heard of a proposed Disneyland idea (in this instance it was the much smaller park intended to be built next to the studios). The second consisted of the scattered pictures of Walt with different people – I honestly have to admit I didn’t look close enough at this point to figure out who they were. The third (identified with help from other geeky sites intrigued by the mystery), was the Amazing Stories magazine, which brought about a science fiction element. To me, the strongest possibility was this:

This movie was not going to be titled “1952.” This was Disney’s “Tomorrowland” movie finally seeing light, and being made by Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof.

The public had been teased with the idea of a Tomorrowland movie before. After the success of Pirates of the Caribbean, many wondered how many attractions would get their own movie! At one point, I remember hearing wind of Tomorrowland being made into a sci-fi comedy, with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson attached as a possible lead. This wasn’t the vision I had hoped for. This was more along the lines of the Eddie Murphy fronted “Haunted Mansion” – visually stunning, yet rather lackluster. Tomorrowland had more potential than that, I thought. Thankfully, we never got to see the full vision of that one played out, as Tomorrowland faded quietly into the background for a few years. Until the mystery box.

What could it be? Like I stated above, I had my theories. What if Walt had planned on his small little park next to the studio, only to be intrigued so much by this vision for the future, that he realized he needed a bigger space? He needed an area where he could build different lands, including a Tomorrowland that had a secret portal into a real land of the future? The idea was staggering to me. The thing is, it was all a crazy theory cooked up in my mind. But also, should Disney go ahead with something even remotely like this, it was a bold move I could totally get behind. When Bird announced that he was indeed working on a Tomorrowland movie, I became giddy with excitement. I knew it! But still not known was, what would it be about?

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Of course, we now know enough to know my hypothesis wasn’t completely accurate. This movie isn’t about Walt Disney building Tomorrowland. But… we know that Tomorrowland is a real place in the movie, and that Walt had quite the hand in it. That right there is enough to keep me looking forward with a very real anticipation. To know that Disney, Bird, and Lindelof would dare to imagine this alternate reality storyline where Tomorrowland matters and is perhaps the most important place in the world is nothing short of mind blowing. However, while this explains my excitement for the upcoming movie, it still doesn’t explain WHY Tomorrowland matters so much.

This is something I plan on doing my best to explain in part two of this three part series. Part two will be posted a few days from now, as I attempt to put into words why we need a place like Tomorrowland, and how this movie (I hope) can help us all realize that need. Part three will come after I’ve seen the movie (I don’t have media access to sneak previews, so unless I miraculously get an invitation to one, this will happen opening day), and am able to form thoughts on whether the movie succeeded in presenting this idea.

I’d love to know your thoughts on the movie. Excited? Intrigued? Or just rather ambivalent towards the whole thing? I’d love to know why! Talk to you soon, fellow DisNerds!

It’s a Jolly Holiday For Mary!

Love this poster. Looks like it’s staring Gene Van Kelly And Cyd Andrews.

Happy Birthday, Mary Poppins! You’ve aged quite gracefully!

Today, Walt Disney’s masterpiece (and this DisNerd’s favorite Disney live action movie) turns 50, and we celebrate all things Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious in honor of its release.

Instead of posting every reason I love this movie (including the Sherman Brothers’ most amazing score), I thought I’d share my absolute favorite part of the movie, then open it up to you, dear readers, to share with the DisNerd community your favorite part as well!

As magical as Mary Poppins is in the movie (in no small part to the amazing performance of Julie Andrews), the defining moment for me comes from a scene where Ms. Poppins is absent. After an incredibly and understandably frazzled Mr. Banks (David Tomlinson) has returned from a career defining (and not in a good way) day at work, after chasing off countless chimney sweeps, and seeing the one person he blames for all of his problems, George Banks is left to reflect on his misfortunes as he sees them while Bert the chimney sweep (Dick Van Dyke) finishes up his job. His utter disappointment in anyone but himself is quite clear, and Bert is all too understanding. Watch the look in his eyes as he hears Mr. Banks pour out his frustrations. He realizes the problem of a man not being able to see past himself, and figures out a way to reverse the tables, allowing George to take a long look at himself. Mary may have come to save the family, but in no small way, it’s Bert who helps to “save Mr. Banks.” There is some true magic in that as well, and this scene and song have helped me to shape my life philosophy, especially when it comes to spending time with my family. I don’t think there will ever be a time when it won’t get to me.

Now it’s your turn, friends! Do you have a favorite scene or song from Mary Poppins? Sound off below – we’d love to hear and discuss! In turn, your pick may be featured on our Facebook page, as we continue to celebrate this motion picture achievement over the next couple days!

Happy birthday, Mary Poppins! No wonder that it’s you (along with Bert, the Banks family, Uncle Albert, Admiral Boom and so many others) that we love!

We Never Had a Friend Like You

This morning, we pay tribute to a man who left us way too soon. Entertainer and Disney Legend Robin Williams left his mark on this world in so many ways, and left us way too early. Perhaps because of how it happened… perhaps because the stigma of depression that so many struggle with was given a very public face… perhaps because we just weren’t ready to say goodbye… This one affected so many in so many different ways. Today, Craig, Jake and Hayden share their individual tributes to the talented genius that was Robin Williams.

 

Robin Williams (1951-2014) and his Disney animation alter-ego, The Genie

Robin Williams (1951-2014) and his Disney animation alter-ego, The Genie

 

From Jake:

When kids like myself grow up, we look up to people who can make us laugh. Why? We look up to people who can make us laugh because it’s the purest form of happiness. Laughter is universal, and with laughter is its predecessor: comedy. The world lost one of the best comedians who made the world laugh for years and years. Robin Williams was a man who I admired growing up. His humor was for everyone. He had family jokes, kid jokes, adult jokes. Just a little something for everyone. Yet today, Mr. Williams passed away. A man who was admired for decades worth of roles that spanned a variety of film styles. He went from being a doctor with a red nose, to a wise cracking professor helping Will Hunting fully utilize his brilliance. He was a stand up comedian who didn’t just get us to laugh, but think about why we were laughing, and what we were laughing at. It was true brilliance. Some may disagree, but I would put him on a pedestal next to other greats. If Charlie Chaplin were alive, I would bet he could give him a run for his money.  If George Carlin had a stand-up competition, Robin would go toe-to-toe. He was a mastermind of what to say, when and how to deliver it, and we would all erupt with laughter. Now, we’re going to laugh less because we lost him. There’s no more new characters, only the ones we grew up with. Thankfully, we can revisit Genie, Pan, Patch Adams, and Mrs. Doubtfire, and many more, and remember a man who once said as Dr. Sean Maguire in ‘Good Will Hunting’: “Real loss is only possible when you love something more than you love yourself.”

 

From Hayden:

The news of Robin Williams’ passing has been a tough reality to process. The Birdcage has one less bird, Peter Banning has flown back to Neverland.

Unbeknownst to many of you, I spent the weekend in Disneyland. On an evening walk down Main Street, it was touching to see a hardly-noticeable homage paid to Mr. Williams by the Silhouette Studio; A small, Genie portrait was placed in their window display. I spoke with the artist responsible, briefly thanking him for such a sweet gesture. We both agreed: the world lost a lot of good heart today, and has a little less to laugh about.

Toodles, Mrs. Doubtfire. Good night, Mr. Colema… Er, Goldman. Enjoy your freedom, Genie.

 

From Craig

Words were hard to come by upon learning of his passing, but emotions weren’t. In a mere matter of moments, I felt myself going from shock to extreme sadness, from sadness to anger, from anger to empathy, to a feeling of true loss in this world. Even now I find myself asking why. Sure, I can feel angry that Mr. Williams chose to leave this world and rob his fans, and more importantly friends and family of any time he may have had left on this earth. But then, a form of depression so strong can take its toll in ways I personally have no understanding of, so that’s not completely fair. Nonetheless, I feel an emptiness at the passing of one of the true greats in the business. As a child I grew up with Mork from Ork. With the addition of a cable box in my household, I watched Robert Altman’s Popeye more times than I care to remember. Say what you want about the very… unique movie, Williams’ performance as Popeye was very memorable. As I got older, movies like Dead Poets’ Society, Good Morning Vietnam,  and Awakenings showed an entirely new side of Robin’s talent. Then came Aladdin. The role of the Genie may be the most remembered role by any Disney fan. Giving Robin free reign to improvise was a sheer genius move – even from the animation side. Sitting in the movie theater, watching this incredibly spastic and hilarious performance… I was in tears of laughter. It was Robin Williams unleashed in a family friendly format, yet still with decidedly adult comedy. I loved it, as did countless others.

However, for me, the most memorable performance of his career was yet to come. In 1997, Miramax Films (a division of Disney pictures at the time) released Good Will Hunting, a movie about a troubled South Boston youth who is eventually helped and mentored by a therapist, played by Robin Williams. Williams won an Academy Award for best supporting actor, and it’s not hard to see why. To me, this movie showed the most genius levels of his acting. Williams’ Sean Maguire is funny, inspiring, and in turn, heartbreaking. The following scene epitomizes what I’ll miss most about the amazing work of Robin Williams. In one scene, he manages to go from heartbreaking to funny, only to turn sentimental and inspirational at the end. It was by far, one of the most human roles I’ve ever seen him do. (Warning: Some pretty foul language here. Don’t watch in front of kids or if you’re offended by strong language.)

 

 

 

Robin, I hope you’re at peace now. I want to thank you for the years you spent with us. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: You left too soon. But you left us with a lot. And for that, you’ll always be remembered fondly.

So Long, Eddie Valiant… (R.I.P. Bob Hoskins 1942-2014)

bob-hoskins-roger-rabbit

“Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” was one of the iconic films of my childhood. It was one of those unexpected movies for me, one that I found myself laughing quite a bit at. While the Disney and other animation references flew fast and furious, the thing that stood out to me even more was the performance of Bob Hoskins. Mr. Hoskins played the straight man, detective Eddie Valiant quite convincingly, yet it took an amazing level of genius to play it so straight with a bunch of ‘toons. Eddie Valiant was quite the Disney (Yes, I know the movie was made under the Touchstone label) anti-hero: Alcoholic, womanizing, and gruff… Yet, when one learned the painful backstory – a ‘toon killed his brother – one began to sympathize and cheer for him to get justice for Roger and the other Toontown citizens! As I grew older and began to appreciate the film making process even more, I grew to appreciate the talent and physical humor it took to play such a character. The following scene still brings the biggest smile to my face as an adult:

Bob Hoskins passed away on April 29th at the age of 71. Along with the role of Eddie Valiant, Hoskins will be remembered for his roles in Hook, Mermaids, Mona Lisa, and many other films. Today we celebrate all of his great performances and say thank you to an outstanding actor. Rest in peace, Mr. Hoskins. And thank you. You will be missed.