Sights Around Greenfield Village 2016

When I’m not reporting on all-things Disney I can be found out and about searching for interesting things to photograph. One of my favorite spots to visit is Greenfield Village in Dearborn, MI.

Before I show my latest selection of shots I should remind everyone that I am by no means a professional photographer. Many if not most are more competent with f-stops and apertures than I’ll ever be! So what I try to focus on is subject and composition to create interesting pictures.

Please let me know if I’ve succeeded:










Notice that I used framing, juxtaposition, and repetition to create interest. If you liked today’s post from 2016 you may enjoy a look back at Greenfield Village in 2007.

Posted in Photography, Theme Parks | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Tip o’ the Disney Hat to Ya

Although every Disney fan would love to wear Mickey Ears everywhere they go, that just wouldn’t be practical. Imagine a patient seeing their doctor walk in with two big black ears atop their head! No. Just wouldn’t work.

But those of us in average life can still adorn our heads with Disney iconography, thusly:


My go-to hat

I like this baseball cap due to its classic design and simple logo. Being black also helps it go with just about everything I might wear, kind of like that little black dress all women have. Yes, I’m in touch with my feminine side!

But recently a friend of mine picked me up another example to add to my collection:


‘M’ is for you-know-who!

Not used but well-loved!


Like most Disney fans I have quite an eclectic collection of Disney hats. Please check out my earlier post entitled Cap It Off to see just some of them.

Posted in Clothing, Walt Disney World | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Walt Disney Travel Company 2016 Brochure

There are many ways to get your Disney fix between trips to the theme parks. One way is to stop by your local travel agent’s place of business and pick up the most recent pamphlets on Disney travel. I did this recently at Sears Travel in the local mall.

Here is what I picked up:


Walt Disney World 2016

It all starts with the obligatory contents page where we are told that the magic is everywhere at Walt Disney World. Hard not to agree:


The next pages lay out the basic information about MyMagic+/Disney FastPass+/MemoryMaker/MagicBand and Online Planning ideas. But it really caught my interest when it finally gets into coverage of the parks:

wd-travel-company-brochure-003     wd-travel-company-brochure-004

Next comes a section on what you could find beyond the theme parks, like the water parks, Cirque du Soleil, and Disney Springs.

But the map below was a real highlight of the pamphlet:


I love me a good map!

Next comes an argument for why you stay on-site. An easy argument to win, says I! This is followed by a two-page spread detailing the features of Value, Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villa Resorts:


The next pages contain information about the Magic Your Way Package followed by the fan-favorite Dining Plan pitch:


I love the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue!

Seasonal Events are covered next followed by an overview of the packages available from the Good Neighbor group of hotels and properties:


The pamphlet ends with a two-page spread of fine print detailing the Walt Disney Travel Company’s list of terms and conditions. I found this part a dry read.

There was also an insert correcting a point about the FastPass arrangement:


Sorry, no more FastPass+ for parades

Why? Because there are now many excellent parade viewing areas in front of Cinderella Castle! Just find a place in the bigger-than-ever Central Plaza.

We hope to get to Walt Disney World soon and this pamphlet has certainly whet our appetite!

Posted in Magazines, Travel, Walt Disney World | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull

I was minding my own business (pun intended) while browsing the shelves of my local Chapters book store when I saw a huge poster on the wall. I recognized right away that it featured an image from Pixar Studios! Immediately I went on a hunt for the book it was advertising.


Publisher: Random House Canada

Pages: 340

Type: Hardcover

ISBN: 978-0-307-36117-2

Date: 2014

And what a book it was! Most Disney/Pixar fans will pick up just about anything that is related to these companies. This book however may not find its way onto as many home bookshelves as say, The Art of Tangled or The Story of Walt Disney. Why?

Fair warning: You really need to love reading and the inner workings of business to enjoy, or even understand, this book. But that’s not a bad thing! Stick with it and you will learn some fascinating history behind the making of your favorite Pixar films along with some insights into the characters of the men and women who made them.

But especially this guy:


Ed Catmull

We all know about John Lasseter and Steve Jobs and their contributions to Pixar’s success. But there are many more people who have made the company’s continued growth and profit possible. Ed Catmull is among these people. And he is generous in noting the hard work of others!

I can’t say much more about the contents of this book. To quote anything would be to print it so radically out of context that it would be impossible to understand. I think the book needs to be considered as a whole by readers who get the medal for finishing it!

Review: I’d give the book a 4 out of 5 Stars. I think many will find it a tad dry and a bit of a slog to get through. But I also think this is due to the nature of the material, and its primary focus on business, and not due to Catmull’s writing. However, it isn’t a book for every Disney/Pixar fan so I have to lower its mark because of this hampered appeal.

Personally though I’d say ‘buy it’! If you’ve ever worked for a company that was abusive to employees and made you wonder where common sense went, you’ll be uplifted to see how Pixar became a company that put people first.

Posted in Books, History, Pixar, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Decorating With Disney

Is there any other way?


What we wake up to every morning!

Yes, waking up to a beautiful sunrise is always nice, but can it compare to a plethora of disneyana? I think not! Well… maybe.


A closer look

I like displaying things that are not related to one another and also from different times. I find it creates more interest.

How about you? Do you group your Disney collectables by type, date, or freestyle?

FUN FACT: One of the items in the picture above (to quote Sesame Street) is not like the others! One of the items does not belong. Can you spot it?

Posted in Collectibles, Displays | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Luigi’s Flying Tires HAT

Ah, Theme Park history! Is there anything better than looking back and remembering those great old attractions of the past? If they are good attractions, no. But if they are attractions like the one featured in this post, then the answer may be ‘yes’.

Flying Saucers was a unsuccessful ride at Disneyland in Anaheim, California from 1961 to 1966. The ride was manufactured by Arrow Development and National Research Associates, Inc. One guest rode on a personal flying saucer on a cushion of air, similar to an air hockey game. It was also much like bumper cars with guests ramming each other with their saucers.

The Disney History Institute posted this video of the attraction as it operated in 1961:


Luigi’s Flying Tires opened on June 15, 2012, with similar technology to the original attraction. It was located in Cars Land inside Disneyland’s sister park, Disney California Adventure. This version of the ride was themed to Luigi’s Casa Della Tires shop from the Disney·Pixar film Cars. This version held two or three passengers per ride vehicle instead of one.

Disneyland Live posted this ride video on YouTube:


On February 17, 2015 the attraction closed. Not even the addition of beach balls could save it! But it did not go away before giving us some rather unusual, and yet still fun, merchandise:



And just what is that?

I know, I know. You know because you read the title of this post! It’s a hat. And what does one look like while wearing such a hat?

luigis-flying-tires-hat-004          luigis-flying-tires-hat-003

Thanks to my reluctant model!

I picked this up at a local Disney Store that is approved to sell discounted Disneyland merchandise. This had a regular price of $24.95 US but the signs said that all DL merchandise was at least 50% off. Well, this hat was for sale at a much deeper discount as I got it for just $4.95 US.

luigis-flying-tires-hat-005     luigis-flying-tires-hat-009

And why was this hat on sale for such a low price? Because the ride it promotes was replaced by Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters which opened in March 2016, still themed to Luigi’s Casa Della Tires, but featuring new vehicles and a new ride system.

Inside the Magic posted this full ride POV video on YouTube:


Seems very familiar doesn’t it? It has much the same feel as Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, which is unfortunate, as it would have been nice to have something very different since they are side-by-side in Cars Land. But I guess expediency was the driving force (wink, wink) behind the decision to get something open in the space.

I never got to ride Disneyland’s original Flying Saucers. I also never got to ride Luigi’s Flying Tires. Maybe I’ll get to ride Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters before it too is replaced!

Posted in Attractions, Clothing, Disneyland, History, Theme Parks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Commemorative Edition LIFE – Gene Wilder

From time to time I pick up a copy of the Commemorative Editions of LIFE magazine. I find them well written. I also appreciate the comprehensive overview of the subject in question, this time, Gene Wilder:


This is basically a quick look at a long life with many wonderful pictures. There are nine sections tracing Wilder’s career from early life to his final days.


I first remember Wilder in the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (pictured above). This performance will always be the one my mind goes to when I hear his name! But obviously Wonka wasn’t the only character Mr. Wilder immortalized:


Young Frankenstein

Leo Bloom (The Producers), The Waco Kid (Blazing Saddles), and Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Young Frankenstein, pictured above) are all characters Wilder created with director Mel Brooks. All of them will live on in comedic history! As will a comic pairing that spawned four films:


Wilder with Richard Pryor

Silver Streak and Stir Crazy will be the best remembered films from these two legendary comedians. Details of their relationship are shared in this magazine.

Four marriages. Two cancer episodes. A unforgettable career. A final illness. All of these, and (most) everything inbetween, are covered on 80 high-gloss pages.


Gene Wilder (1933-2016)

At a cost of just $16.99 CAN I thought this magazine was a good deal for such an emotional and inspiring look into the life of a man who brought so much fun and humor to so many!

As an extra read, check out my post entitled Top 5 Non-Disney Disney Movies to see why I think Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory could have been a Disney movie!

Concluding thought: Wilder never shared his battle with Alzheimer’s because “he simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world” if one of his fans, mainly children remembering his Wonka character, should hear of it.

Posted in Magazines, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top 5 Non-Disney Disney Movies

How many times have you been talking about Disney movies and someone says that their favorite is An American Tail? Or when talking live-action movies another friend raves about how well Disney did with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?

You see the problem here, right? Neither of those movies were made by Disney. So why do people think they are? Possibly because they assume if an animated movie is successful, it must have been done by Disney. Or if a live-action classic is still around today and shown on television once a year, it must have been done by Disney.

This is a definite tip-of-the-hat to the reputation of Disney but not something the other competing studios likely appreciate! But it does bring up a good topic for discussion. Which non-Disney movies really should have been, or could have been, released by Disney?

I’m going to focus on live-action movies that have become children’s classics. None of the movies in my Top 5 List will be from Disney, so I will provide the name of the actual studio responsible. For the sake of this exercise, I will assume that Disney has acquired the rights to each movie listed, as that is how it seems to most people anyway:

Acquisition Number Five

Dr. Dolittle: 20th Century Fox (1967)


Containing no less than 14 songs and a host of real and puppetry animals this movie has become a children’s classic that most have forgotten. It did poorly in theaters when first released but has gained a cult following of sorts.

Synopsis: The movie follows the adventures of Dr. Dolittle (Rex Harrison) as he transitions from a regular physician to a veterinarian. He is helped in this by a talking parrot who teaches him animal languages, thus enabling him to actually talk with the animals, ‘grunt, squeak, squawk with the animals’! This gets him into trouble with a local magistrate and sentenced to an insane asylum which he quickly escapes from. Now free, he embarks on a quest to find the Great Pink Sea Snail, which he finds near a traveling island. Stuff happens and he finds true love and is able to return to his home.

The highlights of the special effects are the Push-me-Pull-me lama-like creature and the Great Pink Sea Snail, which is huge and actually sails on the ocean!


Think of a man doing for animals what Mary Poppins does for children. Now that’s Disney-like!

Acquisition Number Four

The Sound of Music: 20th Century Fox (1965)


This is a no-brainer as it stars Julie Andrews who also played the part of the very Disney-like Mary Poppins.

Synopsis: Maria is a free-spirited young Austrian woman studying to become a nun. Her love of music and the mountains, her youthful enthusiasm and imagination, and her lack of discipline cause some concern so she is sent off to the villa of retired naval officer Captain Georg von Trapp to be governess to his seven children. They sing many songs (My Favorite Things, Do-Re-Mi, Sixteen Going on Seventeen, Climb Ev’ry Mountain) have fun adventures, endure heartache, and eventually fall in love, get married, and then escape from the Nazis by climbing over the mountains. Just your average story!

The facts that it is based on a true story, and is played on television every year, makes this an enduring classic worthy of being considered a Disney movie!

Acquisition Number Three

The Wizard of Oz: MGM (1939)


The oldest movie on this list but perhaps one of the most well-known. There is a whole section devoted to this classic in The Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios but I don’t think anyone believes Disney did this one. But he should have! In fact, the Disney Studios did obtain the rights and released Return to Oz in 1985, but Walt was interested in this property much earlier and even planned a live-action movie starring the Mouseketeers.

Synopsis: Dorothy (Judy Garland) lives in Kansas with her family and her dog Toto. A tornado sweeps her off to Oz where she accidentally kills a wicked witch which understandably angers the witch’s sister! The movie plays out as Dorothy meets the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow, and together they save Oz. Short version.

Wicked Witches. Funny side kicks. Flying Monkeys. And the Wizard of Oz. No wonder Walt wanted in on this classic!

Acquisition Number Two

Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: Paramount (1971)


This is one of the best children’s musicals of all time! Forget the Johnny Depp remake and go back to the 1971 Paramount version for a stunning adaption of this wonderful series of books by Roald Dahl. Starring Gene Wilder as Wonka, there is just so much to love about this movie!

Synopsis: Willie Wonka realizes that he can’t care for the chocolate factory by himself forever and so goes about finding a replacement among the children of the world. He issues golden tickets and Charlie gets one. Of all the children tested for the job only Charlie shows the right stuff and wins the day!

A magical factory. Oompa Loompas. And chocolate and candies galore. Add a dash of songs like ‘The Candy Man Can’ and ‘Pure Imagination’ and you have a very Disney-like non-Disney movie! Oh, and Disney did do another Dahl adaption with James and the Giant Peach in 1996.

Extra: Read my review of the Commemorative Edition LIFE magazine about the life and career of Gene Wilder.

Acquisition Number One

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: United Artists (1968)


Dick Van Dyke without the cockney accent. Music by the Sherman Brothers. A flying car. Wacky characters and villains. This was the follow-up to Mary Poppins that Disney hoped for when the studio did Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

Synopsis: The children of Caractacus Potts (Van Dyke) talk him into buying an old race car which he restores to better than new. And to even better than he thought as it turns out it can float on water and fly in the air! Along with love interest Truly Scrumptious and the children, Potts ends up in the far-off kingdom of Vulgaria where they have many adventures. In the end, they return home, and it was all just a story-like dream. Or… was it?

The real standouts in this movie are the music and dance numbers! From the title song to classics like Me Ol’ Bamboo, Toot Sweets, and Hushabye Mountain, Walt’s boys were in fine form!

Conclusion: A good Disney movie has a fantastic storyline, engaging characters, uplifting music, and great special effects. The five movies on this list have all of these things in spades! No wonder many people think they actually are Disney movies.

So why not put aside your Disney Movie Night and have a Non-Disney Disney Movie Night instead?

Posted in Lists, Movies, Music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Muppets Swedish Chef Tsum Tsum

It seems that these little gerbils are going to take over my display shelves. Just when I think I have enough to represent the merchandise line, Disney goes and releases a too-cute version of one of my favorite characters!

But before I show you the Swedish Chef in all his plushy glory, I’d like to share with you some inspirational words from this Master Chef: “Yorn desh born, der ritt de gitt der gue, Orn desh, dee born desh, de umn bork! bork! bork!” Someday when I understand these words, they will change my life!

And now, the Legend:


“Oh, I’m der plushy!”

I have a growing Swedish Chef display atop my fridge and this little guy will be joining it soon.


His hat looks like bunny ears!


Apron nicely tied in the back


And his signature bow tie

Sometimes I go into a store not expecting to buy anything (my wife rolls her eyes) and then see something that I can’t leave without. Okay, for me, this happens every time I enter a Disney Store! Pity me. Don’t judge me!

But in my defense for this time, he is cute, right?

You can have more cute plushy fun by checking out our other Tsum Tsum posts!

Posted in Muppets, Plush | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Magical Blogorail: Imagineer for a Day

Mayor for a Day. Firefighter for a Day. Astronaut for a Day. All good choices, but for the Disney fan, it has to be Imagineer for a Day! Join me and my fellow Blogorailers as we exploit our opportunities to change whatever we want about the attractions and/or shows in the Disney parks!

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Green Loop. I’ve chosen to reimagine:

RocknRoller Coaster Starring Aerosmith


Currently, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith is an enclosed launched steel roller coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort and at the Walt Disney Studios Park in Disneyland Paris. As the attraction’s name suggests, the coaster features Aerosmith members, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton, Joey Kramer, and Brad Whitford.


Remember them? Many young people today don’t, and this is one reason I feel it’s time for a rethink! Even if the queue area is awesome.

The Florida attraction opened on July 29, 1999 and is located at the end of Sunset Boulevard. The coaster accelerates from 0 to 57 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds and that is something I would not change! Because riders experience 4.5 G as they enter the first inversion, more than an astronaut does on a space shuttle launch. Yeah. It’s that wicked!

But outdated. So what would I do to reinvigorate this attraction if I were an Imagineer?


Introduce a new theme

Out with Aerosmith and the music angle. Rather than mess with the beyond-awesome Twilight Zone Tower of Terror I would introduce a Marvel theme to this attraction instead. Universal Studios has made an art form out of fusing Marvel characters with cutting edge roller coaster technology and as a result has arguably kicked Disney’s butt in the thrill ride sector!

Adding to the obvious symmetry of this product placement is that Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a movie-themed park. Marvel Comics movies are killing at the box office now and will likely continue to do so for many years to come. So a superhero overlay only makes sense.


Reinvent the queue area

Out with the tacky video message. There are so many better and higher tech ways to engage an audience than a flat screen video presentation. The concept artwork for the Guardians of the Galaxy queue area planned for TOT would work here.

Or we could use Avengers Mansion as a template. Or Stark Industries. Or Dr. Strange’s Inner Sanctum. The list of available options are numerous and could be swapped out to freshen up the attraction as new Marvel movies are released. This would also give Disney the opportunity to promote new properties.


Add additional Photo Ops

One action shot is not enough! I love ride photos and this roller coaster has so many scream-inducing moves that more cameras to capture these moments would be cool.

Beyond that, we have the opportunity to create a Marvel hero meet-and-greet beyond anything we have seen in a Disney park to date! Face characters could interact with guests during times of peak capacity. More face characters could be waiting for guests after the ride, near the obligatory gift shop, to pose for pictures.


And that my friends is what I would do to the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster if I were an Imagineer for a day! Of course, it would take slightly longer than a day to pull off such changes, but with a little faith and some pixie dust… it would still take longer than a day.

But I’m a patient man and would stick with it until it was done! Am I hired?

For more about Disney attractions we would like to see improved, check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Green | Imagineer for a Day Loop:

Posted in Attractions, Magical Blogorail, Music, Theme Parks | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments