Sunday, June 29, 2008

An Important Announcement

I just completed a guest post on my brother's blog. Please go and read it! Or better yet, just go and check out his bl0g and leave a comment. He's trying to spread the word and having a hard time of it. So tell your friends, your family, your coworkers.... um.... whatever! Or just go look at it. If you think it's cool, make sure you comment, because he LOVES comments.

By the way, I'm very proud of my post. It took 2 hours to write. Phew!


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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Blog Updates

Look! New background. And new poll. Let me know what you think.


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Program Dates

So I just looked at the calender and realized that I only have seven weeks to my program left. ACK! Where did it all go? What am I going to do? There's still so much I haven't seen!

As much as work can sometimes be a drag, I do like being here. Okay, it's purely because I can go to the parks on my day off, and I get a discount on merchandise. I admit it. But still. I like my roommates too. I can totally see how people keep extending their programs. It would be so easy to just stay here for a long time.

But I can't extend. I have to go back to ID and complete my degree, since I graduate in December. They just overhauled all of the GE courses back at school, so the longer I wait, the less opportunity there will be for me to complete the classes I still need to finish.

Sigh. Oh well. Now I'm depressed....


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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Guest blog: WDW History

This post was originally created for my brother's blog Disney on the Brain. If you like it, head over to his blog (there's a link in the sidebar) and check it out for more of these posts:

Now I'm going to walk you through the history of one of our WDW attractions. Since we're from the West Coast, Rikua has a tendency to focus on Disneyland. But since I'm here in FL this summer, I've picked up on a few things. So what are we going to be discussing? I'll give you a hint: the forecast calls for a great, big beautiful tomorrow. Got it yet? That's right it's:

Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress!

For those of you who aren't familiar with the Carousel of Progress, this was one of the last attraction that Walt Disney personally saw to completion. Along with It's a Small World, the ride made it's debut at the 1964 New York World's fair. The ride originally was sponsored by GE, so it showcased the progress of an American family through four generations, mainly through the inventiveness of electrical products.
The exterior of the GE Carousel of Progress at Disneyland

But this wasn't just show and tell for GE. Walt Disney loved the idea of the American family, it was at the base of everything he did. He was also a big fan of progress--just look at all the innovation he created in his lifetime! What better idea than to combine the two, and transplant the completed attraction back to Disneyland when the fair was over? And voila! You've got the Carousel of Progress.

So why "carousel" of progress? Well, this 240-seat theater has six different stations, but rather than the stage revolving, the audience does. As the narrator explained in the first version of the attraction:
"Now most carousels just go ’round and ’round, without getting anywhere. But on this one, at every turn, we’ll be making progress."

Every act features the family father with his faithful dog (now dubbed Rover) by his side telling the audience about the new progress his family is experiencing. Additional family members occasionally pop in to add their two cents, so keep an eye out for Mother Sarah, Grandma, Grandpa, Patty, the (unnamed) little brother, and Uncle Orville.

So for those of you who are familiar with the ride, you'll be happy to know that Acts 1 and 2 haven't changed much over the years. While Act 1 is merely pinned down as turn of the century (probably pre-1900), Act 2 can be traced to 1927 because of a reference to Charles Lindenburg. However, Act 3 (1940s) and the final scene have changed quite a bit. Here's a picture of the 1940s scene as it used to look:
and here is a glimpse of the old concluding scene:
As you can see, the only thing that this last scene and the show as it currently stand have in common is probably the fact that they both happen during Christmastime. That's progress for you!

After the World's Fair closed, Walt planned to have the Carousel of Progress moved to Disneyland. It opened there in the new Tomorrowland in July 1967. Sadly, Walt's death in December 1966 meant he never got to see the transplanted attraction. The Disneyland version also had a speedramp that took guests to the second level of the theater, where Guests had the chance to see a huge model of Progress City:

Walt's eventually had a plan to build his own progress city, a place that he dubbed EPCOT (Experiment Prototype Community of Tomorrow). The actual model of Progress City didn't have the two Imagineers present, but it is assumed that they are included in this publicity photo for scaling purposes. After a run of six years, the Carousel of Progress was permanently closed at Disneyland in 1973.

But this isn't the end of the story. Oh no. Because the Carousel of Progress is still around today... but in Walt Disney World. Perhaps you'd like to know the reason the ride was moved? According to Disney sources (I got this from a guy in Imagineering, so he should know), it was the decision of the sponsor to move. As I mentioned earlier, the ride was sponsored by General Electric. With the opening of the Magic Kingdom in Florida in 1971, GE was big on the idea of having a whole new audience that hadn't been tapped into. Their idea was that the ride served as one big commercial for GE products and how they helped the family progress into the future. So by 1975, the Carousel had moved to Florida at GE's insistence.

Now this is where it gets interesting. Most people easily recognize the ride theme song, "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow," but that wasn't always the song! With the move to MK in 1975, GE asked the song to be changed. They wanted the focus to not be on the future but how GE could help you have a beautiful now. The Sherman brothers (the original composers, and the genius behind such songs as those found in Mary Poppins) reluctantly agreed to write a new theme, and the ride was redone with the song "The Best Time of Your Life." The whole point was to focus on the fact that the best time is now, and it's all possible with products from GE. You can still hear a variation of this song in the Tomorrowland background music at the Magic Kingdom if you listen carefully.

But here's the best part. The Sherman brothers were never happy about changing the theme, since "A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" was a song that they wrote for Walt. With the extensive re-theme of Tomorrowland in 1994, the attraction was changed back to the original theme song. Why the change? GE is no longer a sponsor! So Imagineers decided to put the ride back the way it was intended. It was also dubbed Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress, and given a very nostalgic feel to it. Although GE no longer sponsors the ride, if you watch carefully, you'll notice their logo on several of the new appliances.

The move to Florida also saw the end of the Progress City model and the second story of the theater. However, if you are interested, you can see part of the model when you travel on the TTA (Tomorrowland Transit Authority). Most people think this model is Walt's actual model for EPCOT, but in reality it's just a small piece of the huge Progress City diorama. Whatever it is, it's a fitting tribute for a tomorrow that never came:
The model as seen from the TTA

So you're probably wondering just what happened to that building at Disneyland. Well, from 1974 to 1988 it was the home of the attraction America Sings. Eventually the top level was converted to become the Super Speed Tunnel for the Peoplemover attraction, while the bottom was still used as the theater. With the end of America Sings, the bottom just became used as office space for several years (how much of a waste is that!). However, with Disneyland's Tomorrowland renovation in 1998, it was finally converted to Innoventions, once again using the two level design. Although it doesn't really resemble the theater it used to be at all, the carousel building still spins as a tribute to the great ride that previously was housed there.

And here's a quick bit of Hidden Disney for you. In Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom, behind the fast food station located underneath the TTA, you'll find a payphone. If you push button number 9, you'll hear a recording that pays homage to both theme songs of the Carousel of Progress. I won't spoil the surprise here, but pay close attention and you'll definitely get it.

And here's a treat for those of you who've never seen the carousel. Yep, it's a YouTube video of the attraction. Can you really avoid these when talking about the parks?



Sadly, the carousel is struggling. With almost a 60 year gap between Act 3 and Act 4, it's become harder and harder to keep the ride up to date. Since 2001, the ride has been on and off of theme park maps and will even remain closed for long periods of time. So if you are at Magic Kingdom during a busy time and it's open, you may want to catch it while you still can. It may not be long before the Carousel sees it's last tomorrow.

Before I go, I want to thank Yesterland for the use of these photographs (though I'm sure you already saw the logo on them). Also, if you'd like to find out more information about the Carousel, check out the section on it in the Imagineering Field Guide to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. Also, if you are interested in seeing all sort of some of the "Hidden Disney" details like those I mentioned, 101 Things You Never Knew About Walt Disney World: An Unauthorized Look at Tributes, Little Touches, And Inside Jokes might be a good fit for you.

Well, that's it for me folks! Leave a comment and let me know what you thought of the post. And maybe I'll be invited back sometime! :-)


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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cirque du Soleil: La Nouba

Well, it's storming here again, so I guess there's not much else for me to do but stay inside and be on my computer. :-) It rains about once a day here, and it always is a thunderstorm when it does. Welcome to hurricane season, I guess. You can always tell when the rain is coming because the wind blows. No rain, no wind.

Anyway, speaking of rain, last Wednesday my roommates and I went to see La Nouba, which is the show at Downtown Disney. It was incredibly amazing. I knew I would enjoy it, because I always enjoy everything by Cirque du Soleil, but it's always nice to have your expectations overcome. I think this show is definitely one of my favorites, although I think Alegria will always have that spot.

One thing I did notice was that this show had a lot more pop-based culture than some of the other shows. Two of the acts were on BMX bikes, and the costumes had lots of TM and Copyright symbols on them. But there were the traditional Cirque stuff too. Great costumes, great music. Oh, the music had a lot more rock base to it too. I forgot to mention that.

We arrived at Downtown Disney early, because we wanted to meet another roommate for dinner beforehand. After about 30 minutes of trying to decide where to go, we finally decided on Wolfgang Puck Express, since there wasn't really a line. I had this amazing pizza, it was really good. Oh, and creme brulee too. Kat ordered the rosemary chicken, and it was like, half a chicken. Seriously, there was so much food.

Anyway, after dinner we headed over to where the theater was, and as soon as we passed all possible cover, it started to pour. So we arrived very, very wet. Luckily the theater wasn't too cold, so we dried fairly quickly.

So because I can't avoid it (lol), here's a video of one of the acts from YouTube. This is one of the clown acts, and then a balancing act that comes afterward. The video doesn't really do it justice, and even more so because there is SOOOOO much going on at one time. I think I could see this five times before I saw it all. Anyway, here you go, and enjoy!



Before I go, I see it's time for a new poll in the sidebar. Anyone got a good idea?


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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Star Wars Weekends

Okay, so it's been awhile since my last post. But I can say that I haven't really had that much to report. So that's why the silence. And the crazy work schedule. Anyway, I have a bit to catch up on.

As some of you are probably aware, Hollywood Studios is hosting Star Wars Weekends for the month of June. Since both last Friday and this Friday I only had to work Fantasmic (I don't have to be in until 6:30) I went to the park early to catch some of the happenings. Since my brother is a Star Wars fanatic, if nothing else I had to go just to get him a T-shirt. And let me tell you, they've got some pretty cool merchandise over there. I got myself a shirt too. The first weekend my roommate and I did this thing where you can get your face put into a SW character photo. So we did that and ended up buying it. I'm Aayla Secura and my roommate Charlotte is Padme from Episode II. It's very fun, although a little more pricey than the ride photos I sell everyday. But it was worth it.

Anyway, it was pretty cool. The motorcade that nearly ran me over before work the first weekend (see previous post) was neat to watch. I'm not into all the celebrities so much, although that is cool. Just seeing the characters all around the park was fun. And I love coming to work everyday and hearing Star Wars music playing. It's just so great. I gives me warm fuzzies. :-)

Both weekends I stopped by to see the celebrity talk show they have once a day, where they talk to whoever happens to be there for each weekend. It's interesting to hear what some of them have to say. But my favorite part is the fact that stormtroopers come out and do a pre-show while you're waiting for the show to begin. I honestly never get tired of watching that video.

The second weekend (yesterday) I went with Cari and Kat. Kat wanted to do her hair in buns, so I did mine too. I also wore my new shirt, so that was fun. We meet this really cool guy from Italy on the bus, and he hung out with us until we all had to go to work. I did also get to see the new sneak peek from the Clone Wars movie too, which I missed the previous weekend. It looks pretty darn exciting, even if the animation freaks me out a little bit.

So anyway, it was fun, and I probably will go again next Friday, since I gave away my morning shift to someone else that day. I've pretty much done everything except meet a lot of the characters, but I don't know how much I'll want to stand in lines all day for that. Guess we'll just have to see what happens Friday. I do have a couple pictures and a few videos, so maybe I'll get around to posting those later. I have to get my camera to agree with my computer first.


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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Random: Why I Love YouTube

So I was browsing on YouTube today and guess what I found. It's a clip from the closing ceremonies for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Take a look:

So what's special about this? Well, if you wait until about 3.5 minutes in, you'll notice a bunch of tumblers in gold using the trampolines shaped like giant Xs. In addition to being very cool to watch, this is special because my Dad built both of those trampolines.



You rock, Dad. Now you're on the internet. :-) Happy Father's Day, early!


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Wall-E

So Disney's big movie for this summer is Wall-E. It's a Pixar movie, which means it should be great. I'm sure you've seen a few of the teasers, they've been circulating a bit.

But if you haven't seen this, you need to. It's the Apple page for Wall-E (since Pixar was owned by Apple owner Steve Jobs before joining up with Disney again) and it's got some great video, including the offical trailer (which reveals way more of the story than anything previously). Make sure you check out all the vignettes, which is the best part.

Like I said, go watch. Enjoy. How could you not succumb to the cuteness of these eyes?


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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

You Should Check This Out

So, if you're a Disney fan (which if you're reading this blog, chances are either you are one of my friends/family or a Disney fan... or maybe both?) here's something you should check out.

My brother just started his own Disney themed blog called Disney on the Brain. He just barely started, but he's posted some very interesting stuff so far. And yes, the English major (yours truly) is slightly jealous that he can write better than her. But you need to work on the typos Buddy. :-)

Anyway, like I said, it is really interesting. So go check it out. And spread the word too.


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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Pirates, Princesses, and... Stormtroopers?

Okay, so I know that the Pirate and Princess Party was on Wednesday, and today is Saturday, but I promise that I really was working. Yesterday was also the start of Star Wars Weekends at the Studios, hence the title of this post. I'm actually in like the only part of the park that has absolutely no effect on SWW, so I didn't get to see much for that. I did almost get run over by the celebrity motorcade (I'm sensing a theme here...) and I got glared at by a couple of stormtroopers. Other than that, the only difference was an abundance of people dressed in Star Wars costumes and/or carrying lightsabers.

And speaking of costumes, you would not believe the costumes we saw at the Pirate and Princess Party. I went over to Property Control that morning and picked up a couple of tiaras so I had something to wear, which was fun. You would expect several of the little girls to be dressed up, but there were way more than I expected. In addition to that, there were lots of grown women (including a Snow White that looked like she was about 80 years old) dressed up in full evening gowns, complete with high heels. But the thing that really got me was the teenage girls who tried to squeeze themselves in the little girl princess costumes. Not pretty. There was a girl dressed up as Princess Giselle from Enchanted, so that made me happy. Giselle hasn't showed up in WDW much yet.

There were a lot more characters than I'm used to walking around too. We went to go and search out Wendy, since Mackinze found out that's who she's going to play starting in a few weeks. We found Wendy and Peter Pan behind Pooh's Playful Spot. It was really cute, because there was a little girl dressed up as Tinkerbell taking pictures with them when we walked by. They took one picture, and then Peter got the great idea to recreate this scene from the movie:

You know, with Wendy trying to kiss Peter and Tink pulling her hair. It was really cute. Wendy had a hard time keeping a straight face to kiss Peter though, it was funny.

So most of the princess stuff was in Fantasyland (naturally), so after an awesome fireworks show (they blew up the castle!) we headed over to Adventureland to see some Pirates. They had all of these "treasure hunting" spots all over the area, which had been dubbed New Tortuga for the party. So we had fun collecting those little plastic jewels and mardi gras beads all night.

We also got to see Captain Jack Sparrow in Adventureland as well. He had a Pirate Training Tutorial show. The guy who did Sparrow was really good. He had all of Johnny Depp's mannerisms down pat. It was very cool, and really funny.

Anyway, that's what happened, and that's what's new. We of course went on lots of rides on Wednesday too, since there was practically no wait for anything. Even Peter Pan was only 5 minutes wait, and that is VERY unusual.


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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Grateful

Today is my day off. Yay! But in addition to just the fact that I have a day to catch up on thing (hence the reason I actually have time to write a blog post), I'm really glad I'm not working tonight. Because chances are I would be working Fantasmic, and it's raining. Pouring, really. It always seems to rain hard here. Don't believe me, check out this movie I took a few days ago:

video

But it's all good, because I'm here at home nice and dry. Hurricane season offically started June 1, so I guess I can expect rain a lot here. That is so weird for me. Rain should also not be warm, but rain is warm here. Although I am here by myself for the moment, and the thunder is creeping me out a little. Time to blast an iTunes playlist...

Anyway, not much going on in other news. I've noticed that work has pretty much settled into a semblance of a pattern. Not really a pattern, but I guess I'm used to it. Speaking of hurricanes, I signed up for the prep list for the parks. So if we do have a hurricane, I get to go sandbag the park and then sleep it out there. I'm half excited, but also hoping we don't get any hurricanes.

I did stop by the local post office this morning for the first time. Maybe it's just me, but it was really sad compared to my post office back home. They had really, really, really, outdated equipment, and they've only been there for about 3 years they said. When I say outdated, I'm talking about the monitors that show your postage were the little green screens, they had to use one of those pen scanners for the tracking barcode (think the old pens the library SPL used to use to check out books), and the postage printer was one of those old ones, not even digital. It kinda shocked me.

Uh-oh, the lights just flickered. I hope the electricity stays on...

By the way, I get to go to the Pirate and Princess Party tomorrow at Magic Kingdom. I'm going with one of my roommates and we're really excited. So maybe more about that later on!


Have a Disney-related question about the parks, movies, or even about me? Check out the Ask A Cast Member feature and send in your questions!
Have a Disney-related question about the parks, movies, or even about me? Check out the Ask A Cast Member feature and send in your questions!