Lock Me In The Vault

Remember waking up to this?

As a child of the 80s, The Disney Channel was a huge deal. As a premiere channel, it was THE channel to have added to your basic cable subscription. Unfortunately, not being able to afford to do so, glimpses of its greatness were few and far between. Still, whenever we would see the words “free preview” in our TV Guide, my heart would leap, and I’d be looking for blank VHS tapes to record as much as I could during those rare times of broadcast. In the three or four days of preview, before the screen became a distorted mess where you could almost make out Mickey’s famous silhouette, the channel was very rarely changed when I had the opportunity to plant myself in front of the TV. Waking up to “Good Morning, Mickey!” and a blood pumping “Mousercise?” That was the way to go. Classic Disney shows in the evening? Just as good. When the sneak peek was over, I’d occasionally flip back to channel 2 (yes, I still remember the channel) to see if by any chance this was the magical time the cable company forgot to switch it back over. Sadly, this never happened.

Yet, those times of watching the programming Disney had to offer, as limited as it might be, had an effect on me. I soaked it up. I memorized the song to “Good Morning, Mickey.” I caught my first glimpse of the original “Mickey Mouse Club.” I saw old episodes of “Walt Disney Presents.” I wanted my DTV.

And I Still Want It.

And I Still Want It.

Years went by, and the memories stayed. The Disney Channel went public. Many of the shows I remembered were long gone. But there was one aspect of the channel that continued to appeal to me: Vault Disney. Say these words to a child of the classic Disney Channel era, even to their parents and you’ll elicit a smile, and perhaps a sigh of longing. Vault Disney was a blessing for insomniacs, a late night programming block of Disney heaven for nostalgia loving enthusiasts. From episodes of “Zorro,” “Swamp Fox,” and even DTV segments, to reruns of “The Wonderful World Of Color” and “Walt Disney Presents,” viewers were treated to glimpses of the history of the Walt Disney Company.  Younger viewers such as myself were seeing these shows for the first time. Baby boomers were reliving fond memories of the past. My mom and I didn’t watch much TV together, but we both sat through a Spin and Marty marathon. I first saw the entire opening day broadcast from Disneyland this way. I laughed and smiled through “Disneyland Showtime,” the very dated, but fascinating, program where Donny Osmond got lost at Disneyland, leaving it up to his brothers and Kurt Russel to track him down before their scheduled performance.

Not to mention, seeing behind the scenes footage of the newest attraction was pretty cool, too.

Although I can’t remember the exact year, I do remember when Vault Disney signed off for the last time. I wasn’t aware what was happening until a few days before. All I really knew for sure is there was some awesome Vault Disney programming going on in those final days. So once again, for one last time, I scrounged up blank VHS tapes, set the VCR timer to record 6 hours worth of vault programming in the wee hours of the morning in order to enjoy what I could of what was left. No disrespect meant to the new Disney Channel show reruns that would be taking their place, but at this point in my life, it would be the Disneyland anniversary specials and “Wonderful World” shows that were holding a place in my heart.

Now, as a parent, I see the place new shows on the Disney Channel, namely Disney Junior, are taking in my little girl’s life. While I’m grateful for the new memories from these shows, I wish there was a way to share my memories with her as well. Sure, there are some I am able to share via You Tube, and thanks to the beauty of the Walt Disney Treasures DVDs, we have history lessons as well.

Her favorite older show is the one with the “dancing cake” (Disneyland’s 10th Anniversary).

However, it still feels lacking compared to the vast amount of Disney history that was once available. Dear Disney, please consider this blog post as my open letter to you. The same generation that grew up with the original Disney Channel now has children of its own. In addition to providing programming they will remember in their adult years, we sorely lack in being able to share our memories with them. How amazing it would be, through one of your current channels or a new channel, to offer a block of Vault Disney programming again? Imagine the limitless field, from kids’ programming such as “Good Morning Mickey” and “Welcome to Pooh Corner,” along with three different eras of “The Mickey Mouse Club,” to classic Disney programming such as “Zorro” and “Walt Disney Presents.” I truly believe there is a limited offering for genuine family programming; this could fill that void.

I realize there are a lot of things I don’t fully grasp, from licensing to key demographics; but I can’t be alone in my desire to revisit some amazing company history. Dear reader, do you feel the same? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. Feel free to share this, write your own open letters. I’d love to see multiple generations of voices be heard in regards to the currently untapped history of the Disney company.

As long as so many of these wonderful memories remain locked up in the vault, I feel that part of me is locked up in the vault as well.

Entering a Guilty Plea(sure)

As the father of a five year old, shows on Disney Jr are a mainstay in our house. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse? Meeska, mooska, mouske-check. Handy Manny? Si, yes. Sofia the First? We’re finding out what being royal’s all about. Jake and the Never Land Pirates? Yo Ho, let’s go! I’m sure we’re in the same boat with many other parents who find themselves watching these shows quite a bit more than they’d care to admit. Generally, we’re okay with this fact; the shows on Disney Junior teach great life lessons and application skills – even if you think you don’t really need to lay out three simple steps to take a drink from the drinking fountain, lessons (and values) are being learned. But as an adult, you do find yourself longing for a break from these shows. Sometimes, even a regular old Disney movie is enough to take a break from the kiddie set. Possibly you find yourself driving in the car by yourself, coming to the grim realization that you’re just so used to the music that you forgot the fact that the CD really does eject from the stereo. Yes, my wife and I are in that boat as well. But, here’s the thing; my confession if you will…

I think my wife and I are even bigger fans of Sharkey and Bones than my daughter. We discovered this when I bought the CD, only to have my daughter ask to turn it down as daddy and mommy were bobbing our heads in the front seat….

If you’re a parent of a youngster, you’ll know who I’m talking about. If not, you may be asking, “Who?” Sharkey and Bones (Loren Hoskins and Kevin Hendrickson) are the pirate rock duo responsible for little ditties at the end of every Jake and the Never Land Pirates episode. Over the top silly, yet infectious, this duo has earned a place on my Disney playlist with catchy songs like, “Aw, Coconuts,” “Bubbly Blue,” “Pirate Password,” and this one:

 

 

I’d call it a guilty pleasure, but at the same time, I’m not ashamed.  I plead guilty all the way – as I do with other Disney pieces that may be considered “less popular.”

In a conversation with a fellow Disney fan (Adam, author of the wonderful California blog San Magnifico) , we both came to the realization that we are fans of “Pete’s Dragon,” and not afraid to admit it.  Although it’s not quite the critical darling that other films from the Disney spectrum are, it still holds a spot very near and dear to some. For me, I have fond memories of reading along with my “See, Hear, Read” records and listening to snippets of “I Think I Saw a Dragon” over and over again. As a grown up, I still get the biggest kick out of watching Jim Dale and Red Buttons scheme their way through Passamashloddy.

 

“Watch the Profits Come Rolling In!!!!”

 

As well, I know many people who will tell you that the musical film “The Happiest Millionaire” isn’t worth your time. I, however, am not one of those people. In fact, the soundtrack for this film is toward the top of my list. The Sherman Brothers had a masterpiece on their hands with this one (at least in my opinion). From the silliness of “By-um-pum-pum,” to the incredible cheesiness of “Detroit” (maybe this one works for me as a Lions fan?), and the rousing “Let’s Have a Drink On It” number, there’s not a sour spot in the movie. Every time Tommy Steele is on the screen, the movie is even more fun.

 

I mean, anyone who babysits alligators has earned my respect!

 

I know I speak of the “Magic of Disney” an awful lot, but to me there is magic in the fact that some things, while not looked upon as great by many – be it kiddie show pirate rock duos, lower rated movies or less than popular theme park attractions – can still mean so much to some who gladly make their feelings known. And in that moment, we find others who feel the same way, and we don’t feel alone in our fandom.

What about you, fellow DisNerds? Do you have any “not so guilty” Disney pleasures that set you apart from others? Feel free to share here!

Still Living In Never Land

I’ll be the first to tell you: I was never what you’d call a big fan of Peter Pan. In my eyes, Peter was, and still is, kind of a punk. No regard for authority, egotistical, no ambition beyond staying a kid, laughing at Wendy Darling as the mermaids in the lagoon teased, and for all intents, tried to drown her. Sometimes, you can’t help but wish Captain Hook would teach him at least a little lesson.

Nonetheless, over the years, I’ve softened my stance and warmed to the boy who never grew up. In fact, I’ll even say Peter related stories and characters within the Disney realm have become some of my favorites. Most of this I owe to a few things:

My wife, who has always loved the movie and counts it among her favorites. I doubt I would have watched it much without her to watch it with, and I’m grateful for that.

My daughter, whose love of Peter and Never Land is unmatched. My wife and I often joke that Peter was and is her “first love.” She still is enamored with Peter, his Lost Boys, and of course, the Darling children. In fact, we even commissioned a piece from a friend that showcases her love of Peter.

My favorite part of this picture? She’s flying over Never Land, and too busy looking at Peter to notice!

And, of course, Disneyland. How can you ride Peter Pan’s Flight without wishing your boat would get stuck over the fiber optic beauty of Never Land and just stay there? The fact that guests wait in 45 minute lines for a three minute ride is a true testament to how well this ride works as well as to the place it holds in people’s hearts.

But there’s a bigger reason that the older I get, the tales of Peter have become so meaningful to me.

Is this because of the fact that Peter never grew up and I’m longing for my childhood? Is it the dangerous beauty of Never Land? The enticing adventure that awaits (the Pirates on the Jolly Roger seem much more fun to battle than the corporate ones faced in daily life!)?

Maybe it’s a combination of all three..plus a little more. You see, although Peter never grew up, I don’t think that is necessarily a good thing. Wendy realized it. John and Michael did, too. In other stories, the Lost Boys came to see this as well.

Yet, when growing up, you run the risk of becoming a pirate. George Darling was well on his way. There’s a reason throughout the history of stage and cinema that He and Hook are portrayed by the same actor. The difference being, there was redemption for Mr. Darling.

It came in the form of remembering Peter Pan.

“I have the strangest feeling I’ve seen that ship somewhere before…”

As the years go by and I get older, it’s not the actual growing up that concerns me (as it did Peter). It’s the thought of losing touch with the memories of childhood (as with George). If I were to completely let go of those memories; If I forget what it’s like to pretend, to tell stories, to have an adventure just for the sake of adventure… I’m a pirate. It’s important to take on the responsibilities of an adult. But without the memories and feelings of childlike innocence and wonder, we grow self centered, annoyed, sometimes despising the beauty of wonder. And that, more than anything else, is why with each passing year I embrace the story of Peter Pan more and more.

At the end of Peter Pan: Return to Never Land, there is a scene that gets to me every time. If you haven’t seen it and don’t wish to be spoiled, don’t watch. But if you have seen it, or don’t think you will, watch with me. This little exchange between Peter and the now grown Wendy puts it all into perspective for me.

 

I think that now, I mostly relate to Wendy, who was ready to grow up. Although time may take its toll, I will always remember the magic of childhood, and cherish it in adulthood as well. Perhaps that explains my love of Disney, and my childlike amazement I still get whenever I set foot in a theme park or see the company logo flash at the beginning of a movie.

It’s because there’s part of me that never grew up and is still living in Never Land… and I embrace  it wholeheartedly.

The Internet and Disney – Is the Joke On Us?

May 22, 2019: I wrote this piece over 6 years ago. However, any time I see a change within the Disney company, or fandom reactions of almost anything, I’m constantly reminded of this article. With Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge due to open very shortly, I decided not only to revisit the piece, but to also update with new thoughts. I hope you enjoy!

I’m not a big fan of practical jokes that come in the form of fake ads and misleading articles. I’m not talking about stories on sites such as The Onion, which are known for such over-the-top satire. I’m talking about the type of articles that are usually released on or around April Fool’s day, or as it has come to be known, “Don’t Believe the Internet Day.”  While I find many of them amusing (who doesn’t like to see how many ways companies can wrap bacon into their products?), I feel many of the “news” articles written can be misleading. For that reason, I don’t take much stock in articles I see posted on that day.

However, I do appreciate the idea of a good joke as much as the next person, and judging by the amount of sharing of false ads and whatnot, I know I’m not alone. This led me to really think about the internet, the sharing of news, ads, pictures, and, of course, gossip. And sometimes, if you will pardon the cynicism, I wonder if the internet in some ways isn’t just one big joke we’re playing on ourselves.

Okay, I'm not suggesting we do away with the internet.. but please, read on....

Okay, I’m not suggesting we do away with the internet.. but please, read on….

I’m sure I’m not original in my thought, but the thought enters my head more and more often: What if the internet had been around when Walt had been building Disneyland?

Here’s the first preview the general public got of Disneyland:

Can you imagine “insider” reporting by some of the select few, who focused mainly on what was going wrong?

“Rumor has it the wrong trees were bulldozed. If this is the kind of care being put into this construction, what can we expect for the rest of the park?”

“Insiders are saying there aren’t enough attractions in the area of the park called ‘Tomorrowland.’ Instead, looks like the suits are pulling in sponsored exhibits, so get ready for lots of corporate plugs, folks. We don’t need that in a theme park.”

“@DisneyLanding1955 tweeted: Apparently @RealWaltDisney is using the plumbers strike to justify the lack of drinking fountains. Yet he’ll take your money for drinks. (@RealWaltDisney replied:@DisneyLanding1955 People can buy a Pepsi, but they can’t pee in the streets.)”

“Apparently the river that’s going to hold a steamboat completely drained overnight. I wouldn’t count on this park to be worth much with this kind of thing not being thought through.”

“The color scheme of the buildings in Fantasyland are loud and look more like a circus than a Fantasy. What’s more, there’s not even a Pinocchio ride.”

“I’m at the park, and a lot of guests seem to be coming in with counterfeit tickets. The ticket takers seem to be powerless to do anything about it. This is not a sign of good management”

“Crowd control is going to be an issue. The Mark Twain is about to tip over. This place was not built soundly.”

“It’s hot, and the asphalt isn’t hardened. Ladies are losing their heels. I’m beginning to think Disneyland will never be completed.”

Now, let’s be honest. If these were the images you had in your mind, would it influence you on whether or not you wanted to go to Disneyland? I’m not saying it would for everyone, but it would at least make me reluctant. However, people at home didn’t have that outlet. They had black and white TV sets. They had Walt showing up in 1954 with a new TV show that was essentially a huge commercial, albeit a very entertaining one at that. Opening day? Except for a few miscues, the viewing public had no idea of the craziness behind the scenes. They had a front row seat to a new and amazing world! The following day, newspapers ran the articles on the chaos, but at that point it was a bit late to form much public opinion. The general public had already seen magic from the comfort of their living room and now had a way to experience it themselves.

Now, I’m not saying that criticism is a bad thing. We learn from it. Mistakes and misfires are corrected and we move forward. However, it does pose the question: do we let it affect our personal judgement? The above scenarios, the “imagining” of internet reporting from back in the day – they’re all true instances thrown in with a bit of opinion (Although the bulldozing of the wrong trees has been purported to be a myth). As I asked before, would those statements make you more skeptical about going to Disneyland, or would you still go eagerly? What about movies that were predicted bombs, like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? The issues Walt had with P.L. Travers in getting Mary Poppins made?

I guess the point I’m trying to make is this:

Although I’ve used Disney as the example, this one could really apply to anything. Are we letting ourselves be influenced by inherent negativity online without actually thinking for ourselves, or is it better to go in with a bit of skepticism? The jury is still out for me personally, just a bit of something to think about as you read all those “insider” and negative articles. Perhaps a balance of both is in order?

I’d love to hear others’ thoughts on this!

I know this is overstating. I just find it really funny, too.

I know this is overstating. I just find it really funny, too.

Creating Magic – Who Inspires You?

3/8/13 12:00 PM PST – The contest portion of this blog post has now ended. The winner will be announced once he or she has been notified and has responded.

 

3/8/13 12:16 PM PST – Congratulations, Melanie! You have won the drawing and your choice of DVD or Book! Thanks for entering, everybody! Looking forward to another giveaway in the future!

 

Hello, dear readers and fellow DisNerds! Today’s blog post will be a little different, as instead of focusing on any “Limited Time Magic” promotion within Disney Parks, I’m turning the table to discuss the magic that lasts longer, and open up the conversation with all of you.

More often than not, when looking at the Limited Time Magic events, the ones that appeal to me the most are tied into company history; to those magical moments that resonate and inspire me. From the history of The Golden Horseshoe and Wally Boag to Disney movies that teach positive lessons about love, there’s so much to be celebrated regarding those who created the magic.

Of course, Walt is the first person that comes to mind as far as someone who truly inspires in the Disney universe. The man, his vision, work ethic and stubborness created an amazing world with a mix of fantasy and reality that have been unmatched.

And for that, I thank him.

But he’s not the only one. The Sherman Brothers, Robert and Richard are a huge personal influence, and a huge reason I love the music of Disney. The animators and songwriters behind the 80’s and 90’s resurgence of Disney animation brought Disney to the forefront in a time when animation was not looked upon favorably, and for that I am eternally thankful. Imagineers have done amazing things at Disney Parks worldwide and continue to truly create the magic. John Lasseter and the team from Pixar have brought amazing storytelling to the forefront, managing to make us laugh one minute and reach for the tissues to dry our eyes the next. If that’s not a definition of making magic, I don’t know what is.

A little closer and more personally to me, there are people in my life who have inspired me in my love for Disney as well. My wife, my fellow Disney fan, for her continuous support. My daughter, whose enthusiasm for Disney is unmatched, perhaps even by me. My friends who have encouraged me and shown me that I’m not the only DisNerd out there.

Then, there’s you, the readers and followers of this blog. The fact that you follow me here as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest…well, that means the world to me. It keeps me writing, to share my love of magic. I thank you all for reading, and it means the world to me.  Therefore, I’m going to throw a little bit of my own “Limited Time Magic” out there. As a thanks for those follows, which have hit 200+ followers on Facebook and 100+ followers on Twitter, I’ve got a little giveaway planned for one lucky reader (Sorry, immediate family of mine. You’re not eligible).

What do you have to do to enter? Simply reply to this entry in the comments section with your answer to the following question:

Who inspires you when it comes to Disney and creating magic?

The answer is all yours. It can be a celebrity, imagineer, friend or family member. I’d just love to see your answers.

From all of the responses posted on this blog between now and 12:00 PM PST on Friday, March 8th 2013, I will choose one random winner (For an explanation on the random choosing process, please check the explanation on my previous giveaway here). The winner gets to choose ONE prize from the list of the following pieces of media:

Waking Sleeping Beauty DVD

The Boys: The Sherman Brothers DVD

Walt & El Groupo DVD

Frank & Ollie DVD

Walt: An American Original book by Bob Thomas

Designing Disney book by John Hench

The Vault of Walt (Revised) book by Jim Korkis

Who’s Afraid Of Song Of the South book by Jim Korkis

Quite a few choices, as you can see, but all books or DVDs I personally recommend that show or tell about the people, many times behind the scenes, creating the magic. You win the drawing, you get to pick your choice!

I look forward to reading your responses as to who inspires your Disney magic!

What Disney Taught Me About Love

From Disneyland News: “During True Love Week, a tapestry of romance is woven throughout the resort — from special entertainment and limited-edition Valentine’s merchandise to candlelit dinners for two and new, themed photo locations offering encounters with beloved Disney sweethearts – all for a limited-time only.”

Note from me: Here it is, finally – part two in my posts on “True Love Week.” Sorry it’s taken so long, but last week, this blogger had to call out sick. I look forward to catching up on things soon, and hope to have more consistent material again. This may require some changes to the blog (for the better, of course!), but that is for a later post. For now, onto the subject at hand!

If you may have noticed, I may be a bit of a Disney apologist. I’ll be honest – I don’t agree with everything the company does, but I choose not to focus on that. Instead, I look at all the positives, the magic, the things that are right with Disney. And it far outweighs the negative. Along this note, I’ve noticed Disney gets criticized by many outsiders for its “unrealistic expectations” in many of its stories. It has caused me to look back and see what Disney has to stay in its stories. What exactly HAS Disney taught me, for instance, about love?

I have learned that when you love someone, you’ll go to great lengths to find someone you just met earlier in the day:

Sleeping Beauty

Sometimes no matter how hard you fight love, you have to give in to the twitterpation.

Bambi

Love means you fight to protect the ones you care most about, even when they’ve just told you to get lost.

Lady and the Tramp

Love is looking past differences and appearances. Love is finding the true beauty within.

Beauty and the Beast

Love is loving someone with all of their faults – even if they’re eternally cranky.

Donald and Daisy

Love means taking the time to appreciate the little things with your family, regardless of how tough circumstances may be at the time.

Mary Poppins

Love is being so happy to find out a loved one is safe that you don’t even ask what happened the night before.

Pinocchio

Love is being able to see clearly, perhaps for the first time.

Love is never giving up on the hope that someone is still out there.

Tangled

Love means sometimes you have to let go.

Pocahontas

Love means…..petrified trees as anniversary gifts?

Sometimes, the memories of love last forever.

Up

I know I’ve barely hit on the love lessons learned from Disney – I’d love to hear from others.

It turns out in this myriad of unrealistic expectations, there’s some very real lessons to be learned.

Romance, Disney Style

From Disneyland News: “During True Love Week, a tapestry of romance is woven throughout the resort — from special entertainment and limited-edition Valentine’s merchandise to candlelit dinners for two and new, themed photo locations offering encounters with beloved Disney sweethearts – all for a limited-time only.”

Note from me: Although it’s not “True Love Week” at Disneyland till next week I’m inspired by this one – so expect a few posts covering this subject. After all, if there’s anyone who can cover the subject of romance so wonderfully and beautifully, it’s Disney.

I’ve seen quite a few blogs post a recurring theme on Wednesdays: “Wordless Wednesdays.” The entire idea is to post a picture, or few in lieu of words; to let the photo speak for itself. I realized long ago this format would never work for me. Even if I were to post a picture, I’d have something to say about it. I very rarely remain speechless. However, in the world of Disney, storytelling, and romance, there is still a place for being wordless.

I’m often amazed in our society, that, despite the words we use to tell stories – sometimes crude, harsh, overstated and needlessly repetitive – the best love story I’ve seen in a long time used almost no words at all, and was told in the first ten minutes of Disney/Pixar’s “Up.”

It’s okay if you’re getting misty-eyed just thinking about it. Go ahead – reach for the tissue. No one’s here to judge you.

A story of true devotion through triumph and heartbreak through a lifetime together was just the setup for an amazingly fun and funny movie, but man, what a setup. It shows planning a life together, the sacrifices one takes to make that life happen, helping each other through the bumps in the road, and, showing strength in our weakest moments. The fact that it is told in such a short span so effortlessly is due in no small part to Michael Giacchino’s fabulously scored “Married Life,” repeating the same musical theme with variations in tempo and instrumental beauty. If there is a better way to show a lifelong love in such a short period, I’m sure I haven’t seen it.

Yes, Disney/Pixar was great at covering a lifetime of love near wordlessly, but what about those shorter romantic moments? Disney has that covered as well in its Oscar nominated short, “Paperman.” This one, directed by John Kahrs and scored by Christophe Beck, shows us the possible beginning of a romance and leaves the rest up to us, the viewers. I offer few words on this one; instead, I leave you with the video and one final comment after you’ve watched:

Upon her second viewing the day the video was released on Youtube, my five year old daughter asked me, “”Daddy, did they get married?” I asked her if she thought they did. “I hope so,” she replied, “They just looked so happy together.”

How can one argue with that? Perfect words for a wordless story.