Saturday, January 22, 2011

Give Kids The World


Paige was a little three-year-old girl from Indianapolis with a life-threatening illness.  Her biggest wish was to meet Bear from Bear in the Big Blue House, but due to Bear’s traveling schedule, the Make-A-Wish Foundation was unable to grant it.  Her next wish was to visit Walt Disney World.
Paige was what’s known as a “Rush Wish”.  A “Rush-Wish” is a child that could die within twenty-four hours, and probably will not survive the week at Walt Disney World that is their “wish”.  While visiting Walt Disney World, Paige and her family stayed at the Give Kids The World Village, a Central Florida resort specifically designed to cater to Make-A-Wish children and their families.  While Paige was there, a show was put on featuring Bear from Bear and the Big Blue House.  After the show was over, Pamela Ladwirth, one of the village administrators, noticed that everyone in the family of this little girl was crying, and she went over to make sure everything was okay.  Upon learning how special Bear was to Paige, Pamela raced backstage and asked Bear to come meet the little girl.  Bear came out and sniffed Paige (for those who have never watched the show, this is a Bear trademark).  Then Bear said to her, “You know Paige, if I were to have a wish, it would have been to meet you.
This was in October.  Paige’s family wrote to the Give Kids the World Village that Paige was able to make it through Christmas.  This child, who was not supposed to last the week, got to have one more Christmas with her family, and they truly believe that her wonderful experience at the Give Kids the World Village gave her the strength to keep fighting a little while longer.

Paige isn’t alone.  Each year over 27,000 children in the United States alone are diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. Half of those children choose as their wish through the Make-A-Wish Foundation to visit Walt Disney World.  Only about 7,000 a year make it, however.  There currently aren’t enough funds donated so that each of these dying children can get their wish. But you can help.

Give Kids The World Village is a 70-acre, non-profit resort in Central Florida that creates magical memories for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. It provides accommodations at its whimsical resort and donates attractions tickets, meals, and more for a week-long, cost-free fantasy vacation. It is specifically designed for children with special needs. With the help of many generous individuals, corporations, and partnering wish-granting organizations, Give Kids The World has welcomed more than 100,000 families from all 50 states and over 70 countries.  So many of the families who have stayed with them write the village afterwards to say what the trip did for them.  Many children then had the strength to go back and continue treatments to fight and even overcome their illnesses.  For those who don’t make it, their families get this wonderful memory to cherish for the rest of their lives.  Because while the rest of the memories for those families are of hospital rooms and doctors’ offices, of being told “No, you can’t so this” or “No, we can’t afford that”, this is a week of “yeses”.  Imagine that you are the 16-year-old girl in a wheelchair who for the first time can shower alone because of the facilities designed just for people like her.  Or imagine that for the first time, no one is staring at your wheelchair, or your trach tube, or your bald head, because all of the other kids in the village are going through the same thing.

In addition to providing such a wonderful service, Give Kids The World was named Worth magazine’s “most fiscally responsible charity in the US”.  To give you an idea, most charities are considered fiscally responsible if their administration costs run around 35%.  That means of every dollar you spend, $.65 goes to the mission.  Give Kids the World has administration costs of 6.3%, so over $.93 of each dollar donated is used directly for the children!

Why am I writing about this charity now?  Because right now the wonderful folks at the DIS (www.wdwinfo.com, www.disboards.com) have initiated The Power of 10: Give Kids the World $1 Million Challenge.  I’ll let them tell you about it in their own words:

We are a group of Disney fans who want to help share our passion for Disney with those who need it most: children with life threatening illnesses and their families. When these children ask to visit Walt Disney World through organizations like the Make-A-Wish foundation, many times those organizations reach out to Give Kids The World to make that wish a reality.
Our goal is simple. We’re looking for 10,000 people who are willing to commit to asking 10 friends to donate $10 to Give Kids the World. If we can accomplish that seemingly simple task, we will raise $1M to help this worthy organization in their mission to turn no child away.
We are looking to show the power of the internet in raising money for good causes. Virtually every dollar raised through this initiative will go to Give Kids The World. The only exception are donations made through FirstGiving.org – that organization does take a small processing fee for each donation made through their web site. Beyond that – every dollar will go directly to helping these realize their wish of visiting the happiest place on earth.

So that’s why I’m writing.  I want to encourage all of you to please help in this wonderful cause.  Donations can be made by texting the word DISGKTW to 50555 - you will send a $10 donation directly to Give Kids the World via mGive.org, or by visiting the FirstGiving web site at http://www.firstgiving.com/disgktw.  Money collected via FirstGiving is sent directly to Give Kids the World (less a 7.5% processing fee charged by FirstGiving.com).

You may help save a life.  You will help provide wonderful memories for families suffering from non-stop fear and sadness. Please don’t turn your back on them.

If/when you donate, please let me (and everyone else) know at http://www.facebook.com/disneygene.  You’ll have done something good, and I think you deserve a little recognition for it!

P.S. I don’t have direct permission from the folks at The DIS to write this post, but they are pretty nice, so I think it will be okay. ;)




Monday, January 17, 2011

How to Serve Fried Tiki Bird


Okay, that title may have been in poor taste.  What can I say?  I’m in a bit of a bad mood.  People on Facebook are trying to tick me off, I swear.

But back to the Tiki Birds.  I’m sure by now you’ve heard that The Enchanted Tiki Room "Under New Management" at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom recently suffered some fire damage and is currently closed.  Disney claims it was a small fire confined to the attic, but strong rumors are floating around that several of the Audio-Animatronic figures, particularly Iago, suffered severe damage. Naturally, this has us all speculating on the future of the attraction.  Since I love a good gossip session as much as the next person, I thought I’d chime in.

Option A: Worst case scenario would be for the attraction to just stay closed. It wouldn’t be unheard of (Wonders of Life Pavilion, anyone?), but: 1. that would tick me off and 2. that would make for really boring speculation, so let’s continue.

Option B would be for them to just reopen the “Under New Management” version exactly as it was.  I’m sure this would be the easiest idea for Disney, but I’m really hoping they don’t do that.  To this day, it still breaks my heart to hear Phil Hartman’s voice in the preshow.  I want to start ranting about the evils of drug abuse right there in the middle of the Magic Kingdom, and people tend to look askance at me when I do that. And seriously, Miami Sound Machine’s Conga and Buster Poindexter’s Hot, Hot, Hot were outdated before the show even opened, and I highly doubt anyone is going to make a case for calling either of those numbers timeless classics.

Option C would be for them to put an entirely new attraction here.  The idea has merit, I suppose, but I personally like seeing homage made to the first ever Audio-Animatronics in a Disney park.

Option D would be for them to just put the original show back in.  I kind of like this idea, but with a twist.  What if we had some new preshow characters (a flock of gossiping crows, maybe?), discussing how the Tiki Gods were angered by Iago’s disrespect, and that prompted the return of the original show. Heck, maybe we can even throw in a sight gag of Iago and Zazu in the “birdie boiler”!  Your thoughts?




Friday, January 14, 2011

My New Year’s Resolution


A Type A individual is defined as one who is “ambitious, aggressive, business-like, controlling, highly competitive, impatient, preoccupied with his or her status, time-conscious, and tightly-wound. People with Type A personalities are often high-achieving workaholics who multi-task, push themselves with deadlines, and hate both delays and ambivalence.”  Let’s face it; that’s not the most flattering of portrayals.  I’d like to claim that I don’t resemble that description at all, but who would I be kidding?  You might as well just put a picture of me next to it and be done with it.  I mean seriously, my daughter came across David Farragut’s famous quote "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" and was surprised, as she had always attributed that quote to me.

You can take a vacation from work, but you can’t take a vacation from your own personality (believe me; I’ve tried).  So even when I’m at the Happiest Place on Earth I’m still, well, me.  I hit the ground running and tour the parks commando-style (but don’t worry, I am wearing underwear. And yes Mom; it’s clean.)  I not only have plans, I have printed lists.  I have folders to keep track of my dining reservations.  I study the menus of the restaurants before leaving, and generally walk into the restaurants already knowing what I’m going to order. I have a strict touring plan for visiting the attractions. If a member of my party wants to sleep in or slow down, I will leave them behind rather than abandon The Plan. 

The saddest part is that this isn’t even a recent development.  I remember at the age of five, pouring over the map for the Magic Kingdom and presenting to my mother a step-by-step itinerary for the entire family.  It’s probably a good thing there was only one park back then, or I’d have really driven her nuts.

But for the very first time, I will be visiting Walt Disney World as a Disney Vacation Club member.  I (theoretically) don’t have to worry that this may be my last visit to the World for a long time.  I’m supposed to visit annually now. Therefore, I should be able to relax, and not feel the need to cram every possible experience into every available moment, right?  Right?

That’s my resolution.  I have promised my family that this will be a “stop and smell the roses” trip.  My husband, who claims that one of his arms is longer than the other because of the way I’m constantly pulling him around by it, simply laughs at my vow and says my na├»ve belief that I can change is very cute.  My daughter (Teri Junior) is baffled at the very concept of willingly slowing down.  It’s my fault, really.  Let’s face it; she didn’t start referring to The Swiss Family Treehouse and the film in Norway as “crowd control measures” on her own.

I’m already facing my first test to my resolution.  Our trip is booked for early December, and now that our hotel reservations are made, my thoughts would normally be turning to dining plans.  As in, I would typically be making lists of what theme parks we would be visiting each day, and which restaurants (at what times) would best fit our schedule.  After researching which parks are historically least crowded on which days, I would come up with a corresponding list of restaurants (a top choice and two back-ups), along with preferred eating times.  I would have these printed out (and in my folder) so that I could simultaneously call and check online at the 180 day mark for availability. But not this time. I want to try taking a trip without making a single Advance Dining Reservation.  This is truly my intent, but the mere thought has me breaking out in hives.

Do you think I can do it?  Do any of you “smell-the-roses” folks have any advice for me?  Please let me know over at http://www.facebook.com/disneygene!   



Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dear Disney, 01/11/11


Dear Disney,

Today is my birthday, and only you can make my birthday wish come true.

My birthday wish is for Who Framed Roger Rabbit 2 to be confirmed for 2012, and for a Roger Rabbit attraction to come to Disney’s Hollywood Studios along with it.

First, let’s talk about the movie.  I had heard reports that it was a definite “go” and that it’s in production.  Then I heard that its status would depend on how well Tron: Legacy performed.  Then I heard that if we did get WFRR2, it would be filmed in motion capture. 

Let’s review.  I’m a Disney dork and a sci-fi geek, and even I wondered about the wisdom of releasing a new Tron movie.  So to pin the future of a sequel to the wildly popular Who Framed Roger Rabbit on the success (or lack thereof) of a sequel to a relatively obscure film like Tron makes no sense to me at all.  But I must give you the benefit of the doubt here.  Hopefully there is no truth to that rumor.

Giving credit where it’s due, however, at least Tron: Legacy was pretty to watch.  I’d go so far as to say visually stunning (generally lacking in a compelling story line, but visually stunning).  But movies made in motion capture, like Robert Zemeckis’ The Polar Express or A Christmas Carol just plain creep me out. I’m not at all fond of this method of animation, and I laughed out loud when in the ending credits of Pixar's Ratatouille, a stamp appeared labeling the film as "100% Pure Animation -- No Motion Capture!"

Now, on to DHS.  It broke my heart when I learned that a Roger Rabbit attraction and/or area had originally been planned for the Studios and then scrapped.  This was especially true when I finally made it out to Disneyland and saw how cool their Toontown was compared to Florida’s.  I know parents of toddlers everywhere are going to hate me for this one, but I found the Magic Kingdom’s Toontown about as appealing as Animal Kingdom’s Dinoland, USA.  Toontown had Barnstormer, Dinoland has Dinosaur, and neither has much of anything else worth seeing, in my humble opinion.  I know a few people might disagree, but Disney can do better, and they should.

But back to my point.  A release of a Roger Rabbit sequel (a real one, not that direct-to-video crap you’ve been cranking out repeatedly over the last sixteen years) would be the perfect opportunity for a Roger Rabbit attraction, or even a whole Toontown-themed area to come to the Studios.  A good Toontown though, not a Mickey’s Birthdayland, Mickey’s Starland,  Duckburg, Towntown Fair area that looks like it was designed as a backyard playhouse for a three-year-old girl.

Yes, I know I’m being demanding, but it’s my birthday.  And after all Disney, you’re the ones who taught me that:
“No matter how your heart is grieving,
If you keep on believing,
The dream that you wish will come true”.

Sincerely,
Teri