Friday, July 30, 2010

Who Has Time to Wait for a Prince to Come?

My original plan was to make today’s post about the evolution of the Disney Princes throughout the years.  I was going to call it Prince and the Evolution.  (Get it?  It’s a play on Prince and the Rev – forget it.  It sounded much more clever in my head.)  But then I decided: why limit myself to just princes?   After all, royalty is rather hard to come by these days.  So instead I’m going to review some of Disney’s animated leading men throughout the years to see if we think they’ve grown over time.  I won’t cover all of them (because Pinocchio and Dumbo just aren’t romantic leads in my book, and Donald’s pursuit of Aurora Miranda doesn’t quite qualify, either).

The Prince (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937) – Dude, you didn’t even get a name. You don’t fight the villain, you get hardly any lines, and the dwarfs get billing over you.  But I guess when Snow White has an evil stepmother plotting to kill her, she doesn’t have much time to screen potential princes.

Prince Charming (Cinderella, 1950) – Well, at least you get a name, sort of.  And you and Cinderella get a little time to know each other before the wedding.  But once again, it’s a good thing that stepmothers are so hard to live with.

Peter Pan (Peter Pan, 1953) – He’s trying to simultaneously juggle Wendy, Tinker Bell, Tiger Lily and the mermaids, and can’t understand why any of them would get upset.  We’ve all dated this guy and it’s true; he’s never going to grow up.

Tramp (Lady and the Tramp, 1955) – One of the first signs that we get from Disney that a guy doesn’t have to have a fancy pedigree to be a keeper.  Too bad he’s not human.

Prince Phillip (Sleeping Beauty, 1959) – Finally, we get a guy who likes the girl for who she is, is willing to stand up to his father (with whom he actually has a good relationship), defeats the villain, and has a sense of humor. He even has a great horse.  We are heading in the right direction!

Thomas O’Malley (The Aristocats, 1960) – Sure, he’s good with the kids, but Duchess: he’s an ally cat.  Do you really think he’s going to be a faithful, responsible mate?  I’m just glad you are financially stable in your own right, honey.

Robin Hood (Robin Hood, 1973) – He really is a fox.  This may have been my first crush, that’s all I’m saying. 

Roger Rabbit (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, 1988) – I’m not really sure who the romantic lead is here – is it Roger or Eddie Valiant?  Either way, a woman appreciates a man who can make her laugh.

Prince Eric (The Little Mermaid, 1989) – Yes, he gets bamboozled by the scheming witch, but what guy hasn’t?  He makes the right choice in the end.  Another prince worthy of the title. 

Beast (Beauty and the Beast, 1991) – Well, at least we know she wasn’t into him for his looks.  Or his witty repartee.  Or his ability to make a good first impression.  And does he have a name?  And why, in all of the Disney marketing, has he reverted back to beast form? But I guess considering Belle’s options, I can see why he was her choice.

Aladdin (Aladdin, 1992) – At last, it’s the guy who marries to get the title.  He worked hard for it, though, and showed his worth as “a diamond in the rough”.

Simba (The Lion King, 1994) – I know he had it rough for awhile, but with Nala by his side I think he’s got a good chance.  Nala is the one in this story who is really worth her weight in gold, in my opinion.

John Smith (Pocahontas, 1995) – He’s adventuresome and brave (and apparently a lot less prejudiced than the actor who voiced him) but other than that, I just don’t see a whole lot to recommend him.  It is possible that my feelings about the actor have influenced my opinion of the character, however.

Phoebus (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1996) Quasimodo is the title character, but I guess “leading man” status goes to Phoebus.  He was brave and loyal, but I always felt a little guilty about rooting for him to get Esmeralda.

Hercules (Hercules, 1997) – In the end, it’s good to be the son of a god.

Li Shang (Mulan, 1998) – Brave, strong, intelligent, handsome, fair, and good under pressure: “Sign me up for the next war” indeed!

Tarzan (Tarzan, 1999) – I hate to sound like a snob, but unless you are legitimately stranded in the jungle, I fail to see how this guy can hold any appeal for you, outside of a sociology experiment.

I think it’s best if we skip ahead 10 years (because if anyone in say The Emperor’s New Groove is your idea of a leading man, we need to have a little chat) to:

Prince Naveen (The Princess and the Frog, 2009) – This was a beautiful film, I loved Tiana, Facilier was a good villain, but Naveen was the weak link in the chain for me.  Yes he was handsome, but if he’s going to be that useless, he’d better be a whole lot more charming.

That brings us to Flynn Rider in the upcoming Tangled.  What kind of leading man will he be?  There’s no denying that he’s a hotty hotsome.  But he also seems pretty darn full of himself.  Can he pull it off, a la Puck in Glee , or are we going to end up with a version of Gaston that manages to somehow redeem himself in the end?  Let me know what you think over at!  

Monday, July 26, 2010

Let the Memories Begin

A recent application with the US Patent and Trademark Office for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts offers up a service mark with the name Let the Memories Begin. There is no additional information (that I know of) beyond the service mark itself, but it certainly does lend itself to a marketing slogan.  Of course, only time will tell.  That said, it brought to mind some of my favorite Disney marketing campaigns of the past.  I’m feeling a bit nostalgic, so I thought I’d share.  I was going to rank them according to my favorites, but I found it impossible to choose.  I hope you enjoy them!

Too Excited to Sleep:

When you Wish Upon a Star:

Remember the Magic:

Magic Happens:

Talk to Me in That Special Way:

Voice of Experience:

Be Our Guest:

Be Our Guest # 2:

Waiting My Whole Life:

Happiest Homecoming:

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Dear Disney Fans, defines the word rumor as: “a story or statement in general circulation without confirmation or certainty as to facts”. I mention this because some Disney fans appear to be confusing “rumor” with “fact”. Fact is: “a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true”.

A few Disney fans seem to be taking umbrage when rumors reported on unofficial Disney sites don't pan out. I'm not going to mention any other names, but I for one certainly mentioned some rumors that have been floating around. And let’s be honest; the only “inside scoop” I have is the internet and a few friends that used to work at Walt Disney World. I'm sure people more established in the Disney community have far better resources at their disposal than I do. To put it bluntly, I'm a complete nonentity; just another Disney nut. But no matter how good a Disney blogger’s contacts may be, I can't see how anyone can get upset with them if their stories don't pan out. Nor can I imagine calling into question their honesty, integrity, or intelligence for sharing with us what they've heard.

Just because I heard rumors that Disney may be considering a new pavilion in World Showcase doesn't make it so. And it doesn't make me a liar if there only eleven countries represented there from now until eternity. Or just because someone else may have mentioned that Disney was planning to add a fifth gate to Walt Disney World doesn't mean that he's an unreliable or untrustworthy. If he could have predicted that the economy was going to tank, maybe we should consider him as a candidate to become the next Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve.   Even if said fifth gate was reported as a “go”, anyone with half a brain can see why the worldwide economy over the last two years might have made Disney reconsider this idea.

Long story short; Disney plans have a tendency to be “written in Jell-O”.  Attractions come and go, plans change, and finances get redirected.  If you want the official story, only read the Disney press releases. If you choose to consider some unofficial sources, please remember that it is not their fault if Disney changes its plans.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

That was Then, This is Now

Do you remember the rumors floating around a couple of years ago about Disney’s Night Kingdom?  This was allegedly a proposed 5th park at Walt Disney World that would be open in the evenings.  Plans called for this niche park to officially throw open its doors in October of 2011, just in time for the start of Walt Disney World's 40th anniversary celebration.

"Why did you call 'Disney's Night Kingdom' a niche park?" you ask. Well, because -- just like Sea World’s Discovery Cove (which only allows in a thousand visitors each day) -- DNK was to restrict the number of guests that can enter this park every afternoon. Only 2000 people would be allowed into WDW's 5th theme park at any one time. And yes, I said "afternoon." Disney's Night Kingdom's operating hours were to be 4 P.M. to midnight. Guests would arrive through a relocated version of the Adventurers’ Club (oh, how I wanted that to return!) and experience everything from riding a zip line over a pool of crocodiles to strapping on a pair of night vision goggles and wandering out into a pitch-black African savanna, where they’d be able to observe up-close lions and hyenas as they go through their nocturnal hunting routines.

So what happened?  Well, the economy tanked.  These rumors were floating around in February 2008.  Then they disappeared completely.  You see, Disney was planning to charge $250 - $300 per person for an evening in the park. Yikes!

So why do I bring this up now?  Because at Disney, a good idea never dies; it just gets recycled.  Just this week, Disney announced a new program they are starting soon at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  Per Disney, this “new adventure at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park will have guests trekking into the savannah.  Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park will be offering a new, immersive experience that’ll take a small group of Guests on personalized, guided treks along some unexplored areas of the Harambe Reserve.  During the excursions, you’ll be able to spend more time observing the wildlife on the savannah and have a chance to learn about the animals and their behaviors from one of our Disney guides. Adventurers will also trek through an undeveloped forest area of the Harambe Reserve and then board a unique vehicle specially designed for the rest of the quest.” 

Does this sound familiar to anyone?

No pricing has been announced yet for these excursions, but Disney is definitely intimating that the cost will not be included with regular park admission.  And it should be significantly less than the $250 - $300 Disney’s Night Kingdom was supposed to cost. 

Now if only we could find a way for them to bring back the Adventurers’ Club, as well…

Friday, July 16, 2010

Completely Off-Topic

Today’s post is completely off-topic and totally self-centered.  I usually write about Walt Disney World, as that is where my brain always is (whether my body is or not) but today I’m focused on my upcoming performance in Gypsy. We open tonight at the Bellevue Society for the Arts in Bellevue, OH.

If you’ve never seen Gypsy, it is a Broadway musical based on the life of the Burlesque Queen, Gypsy Rose Lee with music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and a book by Arthur Laurents. Gypsy focuses on her mother, Rose, whose name has become synonymous with "the ultimate show business mother." It follows the dreams and efforts of Rose to raise two daughters to perform onstage and casts an affectionate eye on the hardships of show business life. The character of Louise is based on Lee, and the character of June is based on Lee's sister, the actress June Havoc.

The musical contains many songs that became popular standards, including "Rose’s Turn," "Everything's Coming up Roses", "You'll Never Get Away from Me," and "Let Me Entertain You." It is frequently considered one of the crowning achievements of the mid-20th century's conventional musical theatre art form, often called the "book musical".

I’m playing Mazeppa, one of the three strippers who introduce Gypsy to the world of burlesque.  I don’t sing extremely well, I really don’t dance, and I absolutely do not play the trumpet, but I’m doing all three in my big number “You Gotta Get a Gimmick”.  Here’s a little YouTube clip that was recorded at rehearsal a couple of weeks ago.  I really hope you get a good chuckle out of it, at least.

Anything to get me one step closer to my dream of being a Streetmosphere character at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Just Making Sure You Knew

Everyone knows that you can view scores of exotic animals as you tour the 100 acre savannah on Disney's Kilimanjaro Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  But did you know you can watch these animals get cared for, as well?

By boarding the Wildlife Express and taking it to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, you get the opportunity for an up-close encounter with some of the animals.  Best of all though, if any medical procedures are being performed during your visit, you may actually get to watch!

Recently, two male scimitar-horned Oryx calves were born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. One arrived via natural birth; the other, due to difficulties during birth that put the mother and calf at risk, was delivered by Caesarean section in view of guests at the Disney’s Animal Kingdom veterinary hospital at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.

Scimitar-horned Oryx are extinct in the wild due to poaching and other challenges, and efforts are under way to reintroduce this species to protected areas of Senegal, Africa. The births are a result of a recommendation of the scimitar-horned Oryx Species Survival Plan program coordinated by the AZA. With the new calves there are now four males and five females in the scimitar-horned Oryx herd at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The Oryx moms and their calves are bonding in their backstage home, and a date has not yet been determined for them to go out on the Kilimanjaro Safaris savannah.

Medical procedures of all sorts get performed here – saving snakes that have swallowed golf balls, giving x-rays to Gorillas, even giving a tiger a root canal.  The most common surgery performed?  Castrating ducks.  I am not making this up.  I guess that goes a long way to explaining Donald Duck’s voice.

Have you visited Rafiki’s Planet Watch?  What did you think?  Please let me know at!  

Monday, July 12, 2010

Taking Pictures Is Making Memories

Great vacations and celebrations,
Can fade away in a year.
But when we're making memories,
Happy days are always here!

Disney’s PhotoPass – I feel a little guilty writing about it, as I’ve never actually purchased it myself.  But I finally decided that I could at least give you a quick rundown of it, as well as why I haven’t purchased it yet, and what changes Disney could make that would encourage me to do so.

What is Disney's PhotoPass?

It used to be Disney's photographers would take pictures of you in a park and give you a slip of paper to claim the photos at the end of the day. If you forgot or if you couldn't get the picture that day, you were out of luck. But now, that's all changed.  With the advantages of digital photography, Disney created a new system: the photographers still take pictures of your vacation, but now you can claim them any time, including online for 30 days after your trip is over. From there you can view your photos, order prints, and create photo keepsakes. Many guests say since PhotoPass has done away with the long lines to pick up their pictures, they had more photos taken.

How does PhotoPass Work?

As Disney likes to put it: Smile! View. Shop.

Smile!: PhotoPass Cast Members (no matter what park they are in) have a standard costume: blue shorts or pants, white shirt, khaki photographer's vest. Disney claims they are located throughout the parks, but I find they generally congregate near the park entrances, by a few signature attractions, and some character meet and greets. The photographers may ask you to do some fun poses. For example, the photographer will have you cup your hands or have you put them in the air like you're lifting something. When you view your photos, you'll see Tinkerbell, Figment, or Simba now added to your "magical photos”.
The first photographer will give you a plastic Disney's PhotoPass card with an ID number on the back. Hang onto that card and use it for the duration of your trip. Each time you see one of the roving photographers and want a photo taken, just go up and hand them your card - they'll get you situated, snap the pose, scan your card and off you go - and you can do this as often as you like. Don't worry if you end up with more than one card; your online PhotoPass account allows you to enter multiple cards.

View: You can view your pictures in two different ways:
1. In the parks: go to a Photo Center to view the pictures taken thus far.
2. At home: go to, register for free, and enter the I.D. number on your card.

Disney will break down your photos in different views: All of your photos, and then one category for each park. The number of photos that you have for each category is listed right next to its name.  You can also upload your own trip photos to take advantage of the PhotoPass system.

Shop: you can create prints, customized photobooks, T-shirts, mugs greeting cards, and more. For the best value on prints, get your PhotoPass photos on Disney's PhotoCD.
Be forewarned though; it’s not cheap.  The PhotoPass CD is $124.95 (occasional discounts available) and photo prints start at $12.95 for a 5”x7”.  Now you know why I haven’t purchased one yet.

I was really tempted to purchase it on our last trip.  My husband appeared in one of the American Idol Experience shows, and those photos can be added to your account as well.  But it’s just so stinking expensive. 

So what would induce me to take the plunge?  (Other than Disney drastically reducing the price, because we all know that’s not going to happen.)  If I were going on a once in a lifetime trip (i.e. those people who only go to Walt Disney World once in their lives, or perhaps going for the only time with extended family) I might be willing to splurge.  But there’s one thing Disney could easily do that would induce me to purchase the CD far more often: add the ride photos to your CD.  According to, Test Track at Epcot is the only ride on which you can add your photo to your Disney's PhotoPass card as you exit the attraction. Word has it that Space Mountain has recently been added as well, but that’s it.  I’m telling you right here, right now, that if Disney added the other rides where they take your photo onto this service, I’d buy the PhotoPass CD quite often, maybe even every trip.  But unless they do that, probably not.

How about you?  Are you a fan of the service?  If you’ve purchased it, what did you think?  I’d really love for you to let me know at!  

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Are You Kidding Me?

It may be a stretch to write about this in a Disney blog, but Disney owns ESPN, so I’m going with it.

In case you didn’t already know, I’m a Cleveland sports fan.  While my true loves are baseball and football, I’ve been known to watch a Cavs game or two in my day.  And let’s be honest, it’s been a lot more fun to watch them over the past few years.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Cleveland’s basketball success over the past few years has been due to the presence of superstar LeBron James.  Unless you’ve found that rock super cozy, you also know that LeBron became a free agent July 1st.

Cleveland fans, along with most of the sports world, have been awaiting King James’ decision.  Last night while watching ESPN, I learned when and how LeBron would announce his choice to the world.

The “when” is Thursday, July 8th at 9:00 PM.  That was a touch disappointing, as rumor had it that the decision would come on Wednesday.  It was the “how” that really knocked me for a loop, however.  Mr. James is holding a one-hour special on ESPN to make his plans for the future known.

My first response was somewhere along the lines of “Are you kidding me?”  I don’t know what I found more shocking: that the LeBron camp would have the audacity to make this request, or that ESPN would actually acquiesce to it.

Now granted, I’m a sports enthusiast but definitely not an expert.  But to my knowledge this is unprecedented, to say the least.  Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I think the classiest way to announce the decision would be a nice, dignified press release.  Or if you’re in the mood to be flashy, go ahead and do it on camera.  But having ESPN clear their schedule for a one-hour special?  Dude, you’re not the president.  I think ESPN should’ve told him where to stick it.  And seriously, how long does it take to say “I’m screwing my hometown and loyal fan base to go play in a bigger market.  Therefore, I’ve decided to sign with ----.”  There; I just did it in about 5 seconds.  How do you drag that out into an hour? Of course, I’m forgetting about commercials.  ESPN has to say “I’m sorry” to their regular advertisers and “Sayonara” to any advertising money they’d have made during that time, because James' representatives requested they be allowed to sell sponsorship for the one-hour special, with the proceeds going to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America

Will he announce his new home right away?  Will he wait until 9:59?  Will it become a telethon, with the team that has the fans that raise the most amount of money for charity getting LeBron? (Hey, that’s not a bad idea.  I think he should do that.)  Will you be watching?  I won’t.  I’ll be trying to dance on my injured foot at Gypsy rehearsal.  But I’d love to know your thoughts at  

Friday, July 2, 2010

Call Me Pinocchio

I lied.

After years of complaining about recent Disney animated features and requesting that Disney return to the “princess formula” as a way for Disney to recapture their success of the early 1990s, I realize that I was wrong.  I was also incorrect in whining about computer animation as opposed to hand-drawn. After comparing Enchanted (which I loved) to Princess and the Frog (which I really liked) and the teasers for the upcoming Tangled (which at least interest me), I’ve decided that what I really miss isn’t the subject matter or the medium, it’s the style.  I miss the big Broadway productions that I loved so much.

We’re not kidding anybody; I love musicals.  I’m performing in a local one now (what I lack in talent, I make up for in enthusiasm -- as evidenced by a recent recording of our rehearsal that just hit YouTube).  I realize that not everyone shares my love.  My husband used to poke fun at musicals, claiming that people didn’t go through life spontaneously bursting into song.  Then he started hanging out with more theatre folk.  Now even choreographed dance routines in the middle of Wal-Mart don’t surprise him.

But something tells me that I’m not the only person that misses the Broadway format.  Look at the success of the TV show Glee.  Or check out the Flash Mob routines that are all over the internet.  Even I’m not self-absorbed enough to believe these were all created for my benefit; other people must love them, too.  So doesn’t it stand to reason that others miss the animated musicals, as well?

Of course, Disney lost a true musical genius when the talented lyricist Howard Ashman (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin) tragically died from complications from AIDS in 1991. And while Elton John of course did a fantastic job with the music in The Lion King, none of the other musicals have quite measured up, in my humble opinion.  But this is Disney we’re talking about.  I’ve got to believe they have the ability to attract some high caliber talent.  I just think they need to remember that the Ashman/Menken team created for more memorable and lasting pieces that say, Phil Collins. (I like Phil Collins.  Don’t send me nasty “hate” messages.  But if you think the music in Tarzan or Brother Bear is as good as that in The Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast, you’re nuts.)

What do you think?  Do you believe Disney could achieve success by returning to the big Broadway-style productions?  Or do you think they are better off taking what I’ll call the Dreamworks route?  Because that’s what the brief bits I’ve seen of Tangled remind me of. (But to be honest, I haven’t seen enough to make a truly informed opinion.)  Let me know at!