Mary Poppins, Stage & Music, Magical Performance!

“Winds in the east, mist coming in, like somethin’ is brewin’ and bout to begin. Can’t put me finger on what lies in store, but I fear what’s to happen all happened before…”

So begins the tale of Disney’s Mary Poppins, as sung by Bert, Mary’s dear “jack-of-all-trades” friend who serves as a kind of narrator throughout this classic (masterpiece even) telling of PL Travers’ fantastical stories. It never ceases to amaze me just how well acquainted the world is with Disney’s Poppins. Everyone seems to know the multi-purposeful “Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious” (fewer know how to actually spell it, and even fewer go so far as saying it backwards). How many kids have leaped off a patio, opened umbrella in hand, hoping to float down as effortlessly as Mary Poppins can? Us DisNerds especially: how many times a week, day even, do you say that something is simply “practically perfect”, and any other Poppins-related remarks? Mary Poppins is so definitively Disney, in my opinion. (If aliens visit this Earth, and ask what one film best showcases Disney, I’m popping in Poppins. DOn’t ask me how they already know what Disney is.) The film is quite like Mary’s famous carpet bag; You may have just 2 hours or so of film, but it just keeps surprising you with the amount of magic and heart that it contains.

Gosh, I’m sure Poppins has been on your mind a lot recently. It certainly is on the tip of a lot of folks’ tongues as of late, DisNerd or not. With Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks” coming to theaters later this year, no doubt you’ve seen its recently released trailer. (If not, enjoy the preview HERE!) We’ve talked Poppins a few times on this blog, and no doubt we’ll be talkin’ Poppins a lot more on this blog.

While all of you are discussing how close (or far) Tom Hanks’ actually resembles Mr. Disney, I’d like to bring up a side of Mary Poppins that I saw for the first time this July.

This was taken moments after the show had finished. I'm glowing with that "dream just came true" glow, I suppose.

This was taken moments after the show had finished. I’m glowing with that “dream just came true” glow, I suppose.

The winds were blowing in the right direction, and a trip to St. George, UT perfectly coincided with a local theater’s showing of Disney’s “Mary Poppins: A New Musical”. My experience with Disney’s theatrical productions have been few, but absolutely memorable. I remember seeing a touring production of Beauty and the Beast as a pretty young kid, and there are moments of the show that I’ve yet to forget. (“Be Our Guest” had me in awe.) Seeing a professionally performed Disney Broadway show always seemed like an out-of-reach dream for me growing up, not unlike my current dream of experiencing Disneyland Paris. (Mary Poppins touring production stopped in Salt Lake City, UT two years ago, but as stated in my previous blog posting, I was ecclesiastically committed to another project that had me unable to attend.) I discovered this past weekend, the same quality I’ve come to expect from Disney’s other endeavors stands true for its musicals.

A broad-view of the desert's Broadway: the Tuacahn Ampitheater in St. George, Utah. Imagine seeing Ms. Poppins's silhouette cast on those red-rock cliffs. "Coo, what a sight!"

A broad-view of the desert’s Broadway: the Tuacahn Ampitheater in St. George, Utah. Imagine seeing Ms. Poppins’s silhouette cast on those red-rock cliffs. “Coo, what a sight!”

The venue certainly lent itself to some incredible effects. Seeing Mary Poppins soar through this red rock canyon would be an incredibly fulfilling moment for any self-respecting DisNerd. You can imagine how thrilled I was to see Admiral Boom shooting off fireworks throughout the final bars of “Step In Time”, knowing fully well that such an effect was not a part of the original production. The cast was so enjoyable. They carried such an energy that had the audience in all-smiles from start until end.

Yes, I know, and you’ve probably already thought this as you’ve read this post, “This shmuck didn’t even see a legitimate Disney production!” and that’s true. I didn’t see Ashley Brown and Gavin Lee. I didn’t see any touring company. And I may have just invalidated any point I’ve been trying to make throughout this article.

Oops.

I did get a neat t-shirt out of it all, and that’s gotta count for something. No? Drat. Well c’mon, watch the preview they made. You’ll see that what I saw wasn’t too far a cry from Broadway.

I’ll say this much… It was an incredibly magical moment to see a Disney classic brought to life. It was a wholly unique experience, oh-so different from the Poppins I knew before, and yet it all felt so familiar as well. In struggling to come up with some witty way to end this post with, here’s what I produced: I’ve got a fev’ah, and the only subscription is mo’ Disney Theatrical Productions. I so look forward to the next Disney show that I see. Here’s hoping the wind will blow you and in the direction of the Great White Way!

Take the time to enjoy this wonderful musical number, “Step In Time” from the Original Broadway Cast of Disney’s Mary Poppins. (What’s the best part? It’s free!)

So DisNerds, have you ever been to a Disney show? What shows have you seen? Any recommendations you’d make?

(PS: Kudos to those who sang the post’s title to the tune of “Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious”!)

Once Upon a Time In Anaheim…

“Anaheim, California. There grew a grove of orange trees covering a lot of ground.

Once upon a time in Anaheim… Anaheim, California, a man beheld those orange groves wondering if he had found the answer to his special dream – his very special vision. He walked around… and looked around… and came to this decision:

(The man’s name was Walt Disney. And as he stood in that orange grove 25 years ago, he saw in his mind’s eye a magic kingdom the likes of which never, NEVER existed anywhere on Earth.)

And he said, “I will build my dream in Anaheim – Anaheim, California! And everything I build will be the grandest sort of fantasy – imagination is the key to Disneyland!” – Danny Kaye, from the Disneyland 25th Anniversary Special

The Whole Special. It’s so deliciously 1980.

Imagination, along with hard work, perseverance, stubbornness, contributions from others, and so much more was, and still is, the key to Disneyland. As Walt’s opening day broadcast began on July 17th, 1955, imagination ran wild. The theme park was born, and what an amazing debut it made. On televisions across America, a new locale became the go-to destination for many families. Given Walt Disney’s dream and drive, looking back, this is not surprising. However, up until that point, it was very much up in the air.

Not anymore. 58 years later, and the park is going strong as ever. Even with Disney Parks world wide, people still travel from all over the globe to visit Walt’s original theme park.

People like us. We, the vacationers, the day trippers, the locals who love to go and soak up the atmosphere. Who still talk to Mickey as if we’re seeing him for the first time. Who plan for weeks on end which ride will be our first when we get there. Who put on mouse ears as if they are part of our everyday accessories. Who stand in line for 25 minutes on a hot day for a Dole Whip because water just won’t do.

Although some naysayers may scoff, there really is a magic feel to Disneyland. Whether it’s nostalgia, an escape from real life, or the need to relax on a bench as horse drawn trolleys pass by, we feel transformed as we enter. For even a few hours of the day we can forget our worries, or, at the very least, take time to reflect a bit while riding a train through jungles, New Orleans and a prehistoric scenario.

Because of this magic that lingers long after I’ve left the park, even now, a month and a half out from another trip, I want to take the time today to say the following:

Happy Birthday, Disneyland. Thank you to all who worked on creating this happy place, from Walt himself to the bulldozer drivers who cleared the orange groves… you have my gratitude. May you continue to be a source of joy and inspiration on this earth for years to come. May our grandchildren know the wonder of flying with elephants and sliding down icy slopes of hills while eluding abominable snowmen. Here’s to many more birthdays to come.

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.

Happy Birthday, Walt!

Walter Elias Disney, 1901-1966

111 years ago today a man who would alter the course of entertainment was born. Though most would not be aware for quite a few more years, the effects of his influence continue to be felt to this day, some 40 plus years after his passing.

The accomplishments of Walter Elias Disney are quite numerous and can be found on many websites, books, and documentaries. They can be witnessed through animation shorts such as “Steamboat Willie” and “Flowers & Trees”, feature films such as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” and “Mary Poppins”, and in theme parks worldwide. His legacy is evident in the company name alone.

To many people, the adoration of the man can tend to near the point of worshipping the man; faultless and amazing at every turn. The man who believed in the power of dreams and imagination – a true hero worship. I personally find myself fascinated with him because he was human. He had many failures, financial struggles, bad ideas, could sometimes be gruff, even impersonal to many he worked with. Yet through it all, he was also a hard worker, a master storyteller, a man with outlandish and genius ideas. Yes, a dreamer with a huge imagination. But someone who was willing to work and sacrifice to make those dreams come true. Someone who would learn from his mistakes and keep moving forward. Someone who didn’t take no for an answer. That’s the man I admire and pay tribute to today.

So happy birthday, Walt. Thank you for your contributions you made to animation, film, music, theme parks, technology, and so much more. Thanks for being the man behind the magic – and for making that magic happen with hard work, determination, stubbornness, and yes, dreams.

Millions of fans, both casual and otherwise, are grateful.

As is this DisNerd.

Disneyland, Sptember 2012: A Photo Essay (Part 3)

With the first two parts of my photo essay taking place over on the Disneyland side of the resort, it’s now time to head over to California Adventure with a few pictures of their two newest areas, Buena Vista Street and Cars Land.

Of course, first, we had to stop and eat our fill at Goofy’s Kitchen. While a little up there in price, the character interactions are always awesome. We always make sure to go back for seconds in the all-you-can-eat buffet, along with desert; thus eliminating the need for lunch, making things a touch more cost effective.
Not to mention, the PB&J pizza is out of this world!

Peace out, Pinocchio!

Time to walk off our breakfast from Goofy’s and head to Disney California Adventure! So much to see, new places to discover – where o where do we start?

Luckily, we have our tour guide to check the map!

I have to say, Buena Vista Street is a great addition to the park. I love the idea of a 1920’s “Walt was here” theme. The music is great, the “citizens” roaming the street are awesome – the atmosphere is just right.

I keep wanting to call the cop “Ward” for some odd reason…

I couldn’t help feeling truly transported on Buena Vista Street. I have a friend who happens to live near the resort; one of his favorite things to do is drinking coffee and reading the latest copy of the Buena Vista Bugle in the mornings while people watching.

With views like this, I can’t say I blame him!

From one red car to the next…

See what I did there with that transition?

Cars Land is a huge home run for the folks at Disney. the detail of…well…. everything is amazing. So great to see such a welcome addition to the park! I couldn’t help but notice everything from the tiniest details like the tops of the chain stanchions in the queue for Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree….

They’re radiator caps!!! I’m amused by these little touches.

…. to the tribute to Teepee-style lodging on  Route 66 with the Cozy Cone Motel!

FYI, if you have the opportunity (and don’t mind ultra sweet stuff), I highly recommend the deliciousness that is Red’s Apple Freeze at the Cozy Cone!

Of course, the rides are awesome as well – I’m just a huge fan of being able to take in all of the touches that bring about an authentic “Disneyfied” feeling. Both new parts of the park do this well. I couldn’t help but think as we exited, that it truly lived up to the name of Disney, as well as the fun and entertainment it stands for.

Thanks again, Walt. For your dream that turned into so much more! I know so many dreamers who appreciate that!

Folks, that wraps up my photo essay of the latest trip. I look forward to bringing you more for the kickoff of the holiday season in November. Keep your eye on the blog for more stories, thoughts and views of Disney (parks and otherwise) from the eyes of a true fan. Please know that I appreciate your reading, your comments, follows, likes and shares more than you know!

Happy Birthday, Disneyland!

Welcoming words indeed.

 

57 Years ago today, Disneyland opened its gates for the first time to select (and not so select – tickets were easily duplicated!) invited guests, and the world got its first glimpse of a true phenomenon. Though the day proved to be hectic to say the least – overcrowding, freshly poured asphalt sinking high heels into Main Street, jumbled broadcasting – there was truly nothing like it, and the public, if not the critics, ate up every minute of it. What could have turned into one of the biggest follies the Disney company had ever known turned into success instead. As hard as it is to imagine in today’s information age of instant everything, this was truly a first glimpse of everything. With no internet fan sites providing inch by inch sneak photos of construction progress, criticisms and skepticism, all the public had to go off was occasional updates from the Disneyland TV show and the reputation of Disney: both the company and Walt himself.

But that was enough.

What many couldn’t fathom in their own mind was captured perfectly from Walt’s imagination and put into action in wonderful ways. Guests could fly over London with Peter Pan. Go for a spin in a teacup. Visit the old west. Pretend they were on a safari in the deepest jungles of Africa. Visit the far off future of 1986 – imagine the wonders of life by then! Relive an Americana so perfect it could only exist on Main Street, USA. This wasn’t a cheap park built off of roller coasters and ferris wheels  – it was the first true theme park.

While nothing ever ran as smooth as expected, the park only gained in popularity as time went by. Ten years later, the worldwide sensation was even more sensational, and once again, those who weren’t there gathered around their televisions to celebrate.

 

Fifty-seven years later, Disneyland is still going strong. Sure, other parks have opened, mistakes have been made along with achievements, but the magic is still there. I see it in the face of my child. I see it on the heads of full grown adults wearing hats shaped like Goofy. I hear it in the laughter and screams of someone enjoying a ride, whether it be the first or one hundred and first time for them. I feel it in my heart. I walk through the gate, and part of me is home.

So happy birthday, Disneyland. You’ve come a long way, and always have a long way to go. There’s plenty of imagination left in all of us, and can’t wait to see what the future holds for the young and young at heart.

And as always, thanks, Walt. I’ve said it before and will say it again: Some stars just refuse to fade.