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!

Disneyland Prep – Movie Nights: The Documentaries

One of our “counting down to Disneyland” traditions has always been movie nights. We’ve done different things throughout the years. One year, we decided to theme our movies by lands. Tarzan, Swiss Family Robinson, and  Indiana Jones for Adventureland, Star Wars for Tomorrowland, a number of animated movies for Fantasyland…. you get the idea. We’ve even attempted to watch movies in chronological order, starting with Snow White and working up. Many times, the only criteria needed is whether the movie is Disney or at least in a Disney vein. Lately, (and my wife has been thankfully been going along with it) I’ve been in documentary mode.

One thing to know about me and my taste in movies: I’m an escapist. I don’t look for realism in my movies; I look to be entertained. There’s enough real in the world, and I’d rather have two hours of good storytelling than two hours of depressing realism followed by another two hours of deep thought.

With that being said, it’s amazing what good storytelling and entertainment Disney documentaries provide. They are among my favorite movies – not just documentaries. This week, we’ve watched two such docs – “Frank & Ollie” and “Waking Sleeping Beauty.” What great movies to bookend each other.

 

 

“Frank and Ollie” chronicles the journey of two lifelong friends who happened to be animators at the Disney studios – Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, two of Walt’s “Nine Old Men.” Aside from being great guys and storytellers, the two were geniuses in the animation field. To watch them describe their work, through drawing and facial expressions, you can’t help but feel in awe of the animation process: the nuances of the characters, the humanizing of non humans – it’s truly amazing. The examples given, from Baloo agonizing over telling Mowgli it’s time to go back to the man village in “The Jungle Book”, to Archimedes the owl laughing hysterically at the idea of man someday mastering flight in “The Sword in the Stone,” really make me want to play closer attention to these little sequences of animation.

Guess it’s true what was said in Brad Bird’s “The Incredibles:”

 

 

Of course, the other focus of the movie – the friendship of the two – is truly touching. These two neighbors had different interests, different ways of doing things, but there was a genuine connection between the two. Knowing this movie was made toward the end of their long and amazing lives makes the final (wordless) few minutes incredibly poignant – Frank playing a tune on the piano while Ollie rides his trains (both their lifelong passions outside of animation) – it’s just about perfect. As were their animations.

 

 

If you’ve followed my Facebook page, I’ve made it no secret that not only is “Waking Sleeping Beauty” my favorite Disney movie, but it’s at the top of my list of all time favorites. Not bad for a film that wasn’t even made by Disney (only distributed)!

WSB follows the story of Disney animation through the turbulent years of 1984-1994. These were the years that saw “The Black Cauldron” get beat out at the box office by “The Care Bears Movie,” that saw the animators get evicted from their own building, that saw a drastic overhaul of the Walt Disney studios. But this was also the era that brought us “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” and so much more. The story is told through the eyes of the animators – their successes and their failures. Ideas that worked and many that didn’t. Masterfully narrated by Don Hahn, and filled with interviews from those that were closest to the situation, including those involved in upper level power struggles (including Michael Eisner, Roy Disney and Jeffery Katzenberg) – this movie is master storytelling at its best.

Besides being informative and many times funny, the movie is a bit of a tear jerker as well. The filmmakers deftly chronicle the late Howard Ashman’s role in the resurgence of animation. Without him, one would question whether The Little Mermaid would have ever stayed afloat. Many of us knew of Howard as the other half of a songwriting team with Alan Menken; very few of us saw his creative process with the animators, the voice actors and the musicians. By the time the segment covering his passing arrives in the film, we really feel as though we’ve lost an amazing influence.

I’ve linked a bonus feature from the DVD on Howard here, but it’s nothing compared to the segment in the movie:

After I posted on Facebook, my friend and reader of the blog, Debi shared this with me:

“Feeling grateful again to my friend Craig, who turned me on to Don Hahn’s documentary, WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY. I bet I can do an RTI enrichment class based on this movie. Just watched the “Part of Your World” recording piece. Fabulous. The piece about losing Howard Ashman is very powerful and kids will lean from and relate to that story in an important way.”

I couldn’t agree more, Debi. This movie means that much to me, too.

This post has gotten rather long winded, but I do feel it has given you, dear readers, an insight to the mind of this DisNerd. And I’ll be going to Disneyland soon, thinking of these stories as I ride rides and see shows that they have influenced – can’t wait to share that with you as well!