Saturday, September 30, 2006

While in Tomorrowland . . .

I love the various eye candy that is scattered throughout Tomorrowland in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. The three posters that hang near the Tomorrowland Terrace counter service restaurant are especially cool. They are however, a real challenge to photograph. During the day, the glass in the display cases catch all kinds of reflections. I was able to get some good shots at night, on my trip last year, while waiting for the Happy HalloWishes fireworks. First up is Sonny Eclipse, the only one of the three posters to represent an actual Tomorrowland attraction. More to come.

Snapshot! - Inside Mickey's Garage

More great details from Mickey's Toontown Fair! We cross the street from Donald's Boat and head over into Mickey's garage, where the mouse has a small library of auto-related tomes. The other two books behind Susie are How to Toon Up Your Car and Replace Your Wheels Without Tiring.

Souvenirs: License to Collect

One item that I have consistently collected over the years has been Disney license plates. 2006 marks the 30th Anniversary of my second visit to Walt Disney World, and my first Disney license plate. I have another cool America on Parade souvenir that I'll feature in a future post.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Donald and the Wheel

If you were a baby boomer attending elementary school at anytime during the 1960s or 1970s, there is a good chance you were exposed to 1959 Disney short subject Donald in Mathmagic Land. A 16mm classroom standard, this film has definitely become an “oh yeah-I remember that!” moment for a generation of Wallys, Beavers, and Marcia Bradys. But a similarly made Donald venture released a year later, while equally entertaining, is not nearly as well-remembered.

Donald and the Wheel premiered in theaters on June 21, 1961. It followed the same edu-tainment style format as Donald in Mathmagic Land. Clocking in at 18 minutes, Wheel runs ten minutes shorter than Mathmagic. While Mathmagic is fairly basic in its presentation, Wheel employs a more unique, and entertaining style-- it imparts its message in a combination of song and rhyming dialogue.

The Spirits of Progress attempt to inspire a caveman Donald to invent the wheel, by showing him what the future portends. The clever scripting by Mel Leven is illustrated in this excerpt from the song “The Principal of the Thing”:

“Though it may seem incidental
Still a basic fundamental
Should be mentioned here before the point has passed.
Illustrating if I may show
To show mathematic ratio
Will show just how slow the gears go or how fast.
Count the teeth around these two gears
You would know this if you knew gears
Now the large is twice the number you’ll concede.
Twice the number consequently
If you spin it even gently
You’ll observe the smaller turning twice the speed.
And that’s the principal of the thing
That’s the principal of the thing
How the gear speed is related
To the ratio we have stated
Is the scientific principal of the thing.”

Donald and the Wheel was incorporated into the “Man on Wheels” episode of the Wonderful World of Disney that first aired on March 26, 1967. I discovered a complete, uncut version of the film on the Disney Channel Vault Disney block of programming in the late 1990s. Thanks to DirecTV, it’s a solid copy from a digital source that I have since transferred onto DVD, and also ripped into a mp3. Hopefully, it will be included on a future Disney Treasures Chronological Donald volume.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Snapshot! - A Splash of Flowers

The fine work of Walt Disney gardeners
is showcased near the Brown Derby Restaurant
at Disney-MGM Studios

A Decade of Dreams

One of my most memorable visits to Walt Disney World was in August of 1982. It was an amazing week. The resort was in the final weeks of commemorating its ten year anniversary, the Tencennial celebration that had begun the prior October. Within a few days, Walt Disney World will be marking it 35th Anniversary; it’s hard to believe that twenty-five years have passed since we were invited to “come celebrate a decade of dreams.”

Here’s how a newspaper advertising supplement from 1981 described the festivities:

“How many birthday parties have you been to in your lifetime?
Count 'em all up and put 'em all together, and they still can't compare to the one waiting for you all year long during the Walt Disney World Tencennial birthday celebration. Without spoiling any surprises, here's a sneak preview of what's in store each and every day for the next 12 months.

The Parade! An all-out, no-holds-barred spectacular saluting each of the themed lands in the Magic Kingdom. Main Street. Adventureland. Liberty Square. Frontierland. Tomorrowland. Fantasyland. All represented as one of the largest parades in Disney history winds its way through the Magic Kingdom with over 25O performers singing, dancing and creating musical magic every step of the way.

The Show! To let you know "Walt Disney World is Your World," the very talented Kids of the Kingdom bring each land to life in a spirited 3O-minute musical. The zany Disney characters lend a helping hand to create a show so entertaining and complete, you'll wonder whether you're in the Magic Kingdom or in a theatre on Broadway.

The Party! Twice a day every day, more than 1OO Disney characters, dancers and musicians ask you to "Come Follow the Band" from Town Square to Cinderella Castle for a royal birthday party to end all birthday parties! At the Castle Forecourt, you'll be right in the middle of it all — the singing, the dancing, the fun. And every party's capped off with a grand balloon release, an exhilarating sky-wash
of color.

It's the Walt Disney World Tencennial, a yearlong, smile-wide party. The happiest celebration in the history of the World!”

It seems pretty tame compared to the Happiest Celebration on Earth or the Year of a Million Dreams, but it was a great time none the less.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Snapshot! - Takin' a Hike

Many Animal Kingdom guests are in such a hurry to get to the next showing of Festival of the Lion King, they fail to notice some familiar faces throughout Camp Minnie Mickey. Daisy was so happy to see us that she failed to notice the salamander crawling down between her eyes.

Coming Soon: True-Life Adventures

Every year for the past few years, Disney enthusiasts would wait anxiously for the official announcement that provided the details of that year’s wave of Disney Treasures DVD releases. To say that many of us are downright giddy about this year’s revelations would be a serious understatement.

Due December 19th, the new titles in the Treasures line include More Silly Symphonies, Your Host Walt Disney, The Complete Pluto Volume 2, and The Hardy Boys. But wait, that’s not all!

Long suspected as a series of Treasures releases, Walt Disney’s True-Life Adventures will launch a whole new line of Disney DVDs entitled the Disney Legacy Collection. Arriving December 5th, the four debut 2-disc sets will collect all the True-Life Adventure films and additional related content as well.

Viewing these films has ever been a challenge. The features, Secrets of Life, Jungle Cat, African Lion, White Wilderness, Vanishing Prairie, and Living Desert were released in the early 1980s to the then small video rental market. Disney released them again as value-priced VHS in the early 1990s, but their availability was brief. The short subjects showed up intermittently on the Disney Channel’s overnight Vault Disney block during the late 1990s.

One of the aspects of the True-Life Adventures that I personally enjoyed was Winston Hibler’s narrations. Hibler, who was awarded Disney Legend status in 1992, was a jack-of-all-trades over his long career at the Disney Studios. His credits included writing, directing, producing, and numerous off-screen narrations for films and television episodes. Disney’s official website has a detailed biography of Hibler here. A profile/tribute to Hibler would certainly be a deserved and welcome addition to the upcoming DVDs.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Souvenirs: Mickey's 60th

1988 was a great time at Walt Disney World for any number of reasons, but perhaps the most significant event for the resort that year was the celebration of Mickey's 60th Birthday. The year-long promotion most importantly gave birth to Mickey's Birthdayland, which evolved into Mickey's Starland, and ultimately Mickey's Toontown Fair.

The centerpiece of Walt Disney World's marketing effort was a terrific graphic depicting a contemporary Mickey shaking hands with his 1928 Steamboat Willie counterpart. This image decorated everything from clothing and posters to coins and buttons. My favorite of all these items was a ceramic figurine depicting the scene. The one I owned unfortunately shattered beyond repair a few years ago.

Snapshot! - Donald's Laundry

A regular feature of 2719 HYPERION will be Snapshot! Snapshot! will highlight photos from my own personal collection that focus on many of the smaller, overlooked details found throughout the Walt Disney World resort.

Mickey's Toontown Fair abounds with little visual treasures. Today's selection takes us high above Donald's Boat where some famous laundry is hanging out to dry.


Greetings and welcome to 2719 Hyperion.

My name is Jeff, and since the early 1970s, the one common thread in my life, aside from family, has been a passion for all things Disney.

Like many other boomers, I was raised on Sunday evening showings of the Wonderful World of Disney. This was the post-Walt era, and the show’s focus had shifted from cross-promotions of both Disneyland and studio movies, to made-for-TV multi-part films and recycled animation episodes. While I enjoyed the likes of “Flash the Teenage Otter” and “Justin Morgan Had a Horse,” I would anxiously read each week’s TV listings, hoping that the show that week would be serving up sixty minutes of good, old fashioned Disney cartoons.

In those primitive days before cable television and home video, access to Disney animation was extremely limited. Features were on seven-year release cycles. Cartoon shorts were next to impossible to see. They would show up in pieces, as parts of animated episodes of the Wonderful World of Disney; and those episodes themselves were infrequent; sometimes once a month, or once every two months. Perhaps that’s why they became so special to me. Even on my paltry five channels, I could easily find the likes of Bugs Bunny, Popeye, and Tom & Jerry. But seeing a Donald Duck or Goofy cartoon in any format was rare, and a special moment indeed.

While ten years later I would take a more scholarly notice of Disney animated shorts, it was not a young boy’s interest in hard-to-see cartoons that would lead to a life-long enthusiasm for all things Disney. The spark that would ignite this passion for the Mouse occurred early in 1973. It all started with . . . a map.

My paternal grandparents wintered in Fort Lauderdale every year. Upon returning to the north in February of 1973, shortly after my twelfth birthday, they presented me with a gift. It was a guide map to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. At the same time (and no doubt influenced by my grandparents’ glowing reviews), my father announced that we would be visiting Walt Disney World during our upcoming August vacation. For the next six months, I studied that map not unlike a law student preparing for the bar exam. Later that summer, my family and I walked below the railroad tracks and onto Town Square. Suddenly, all those hours of Sunday evening entertainment became a reality that surrounded me, to the exclusion of nearly everything else. The Magic has since never left me.

And after 30+ years, I want to write about that Magic. And enter the lively Disney discourse on the Internet, that has manifested itself in web sites, blogs, podcasts and forums too numerous to count.

Again, welcome. Thanks for taking the time to stop by. And check back again soon.