New Year, New Disney Plans

2017 was such an exciting, action packed, fun-filled year!  So much so, 2018 has a lot to live up to.  I believe in you, New Year!  You can do it!  Adventure is out there and we’ve got a big Disney to-do list ahead of us.  Since I’m not one to make official New Year’s resolutions, this is as close as it gets…Magic Picture with Tinker Bell

New Year, New Disney Plans

Disney Park Firsts – Raymond and I have an unbelievable four Disney trips planned this year with opportunities to try some things for the first time.

  • New Festival:  We’re excited to have a couple of days to experience Epcot’s Festival of the Arts later this month.  The festival’s 2017 inaugural year went so well, we heard nothing but glowing praise for this brief, but fun event from everyone we knew that attended.
  • Tiger Cubs! It’s no secret that I’m an Animal Kingdom fan & have often touted the joys of the Maharajah Jungle Trek…these new babies are yet another reason to spend all day in this park!Maharajah Jungle Trek Artistic Details
  • Disneyland (Finally!):  After last year’s anniversary trip was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma and 2016’s family vacation was interrupted by Hurricane Matthew, Raymond and I are taking no chances this year.  We’ll be celebrating our 29th anniversary on the West Coast and we couldn’t be more excited to finally get to explore Disneyland’s parks and restaurants.  I’ll be working on my must-do list shortly and welcome any and all suggestions you may have!

Disney Movies to See – Nick, Dave and I just talked about Disney’s 2018 movie line-up on The Disney Exchange (Episode 159).  There’s a lot to look forward to!  Honestly, I’m pretty stoked about Solo: A Star Wars Story (May) and Wreck-It Ralph 2 (March), but if I narrow down the list to my top three, I’m most excited about these…

  • Avengers: Infinity War (May) – I’m geeking out about this one!  It had better be as good as it looks because my expectations are really high.  Avengers and Guardians…how could that not be awesome!?!
  • The Incredibles 2 (June) – We’ve only been waiting 14 years!  That’s practically forever.  The original has always been one of my all-time favorite movies and with the way it ended, didn’t we all thing the sequel was right around the corner?  It’s about time!
  • Mary Poppins Returns (December) – I didn’t care for Saving Mr. Banks at all, so I’ve got my heart pinned on this movie to recapture the magical, whimsical wonder that was the original Mary Poppins.  C’mon, Disney, don’t let me down.

Disney Recipes to Try – I’ve barely tried anything from the Raglan Road cookbook I got for Mother’s Day last year, so cooking up some Irish dishes is high on my priority list.  I’d also like to try Sanaa’s Naan Bread, ‘Ohana’s Stir Fried Noodles, Jiko’s Macaroni & Cheese.

RunDisney 2018 – This year, Megan will be joining Joseph and I for her first runDisney events.  The three of us are headed for Disney World in February for the Enchanted 10k and the Princess Half Marathon (now called the Fairy Tale Challenge).  Of course, Raymond will be there to cheer us on.  (I feel like the luckiest mom in the universe.)

West Coast Disney Cruise:  Before we go to Disneyland, Raymond and I are sailing on the Disney Wonder’s 4-night repositioning cruise from Vancouver to San Diego.  The last time we sailed on the Wonder was in 2011 on an Alaskan cruise and that was an outstanding vacation.  I’m sure this trip will be fantastic as well…can’t wait!

Still here?  I’ll let you in on something – there are a couple more things planned for 2018, but I can’t share them quite yet.  Check back in about two weeks and I’m sure I’ll be able to elaborate then on what special secret adventures our family has coming up soon.

Your Turn!  What are your 2018 Disney plans?

 

 

Short of Glory: Top 5 Movie Contributor Omissions from the Disney Legends Program

Please join me in welcoming back one of my most favorite Disney friends and guest contributor, Andrew Carrieri.  (Thank you, Andrew, for a thoughtful, entertaining and interesting take on unsung Disney Legends!)

Short of Glory: Top 5 Movie Contributor Omissions from the Disney Legends Program

by Andrew Carrieri

In 1987, the Walt Disney Company commenced the “Disney Legends” program, a hall of fame for major contributors to the company over the years. Honorees, numbering 276 through 2017, have come from various aspects of the company, including “Animation,” “Imagineering,” “Television,” “Film,” “Administration,” “Publishing,” “Character Merchandise,” “Music,” and “Parks and Resorts.” As with any hall of fame, fans enjoy debating the merits of the various inductees as well as notable omissions. Here, I will focus on the latter debate, giving my top-five omissions from the “Film” category, broadly defined.

Before beginning, however, I should note that two huge names are missing from the Legends list: Walt Disney and his brother Roy O. Disney. Disney Chief Archivist Emeritus Dave Smith, who was named a Disney Legend in 2007, has speculated that the Disney brothers are not in the company’s hall of fame because they “essentially were the company during their lives, and it didn’t seem necessary to give them the Disney Legend award (which bore their name).” (1) Take that for what it is worth. Now, onto my list!

5) Joe Flynn: Ok, as a huge fan of the Disney comedies of the 1960s and 1970s, this choice is perhaps a stretch, but Flynn, who tragically died in a 1974 swimming pool incident, appeared in or voiced characters in nine Disney films—Son of Flubber (1963), The Love Bug (1968), The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969), The Barefoot Executive (1971), The Million Dollar Duck (1971), Now You See Him, Now You Don’t (1972), Superdad (1973), The Strongest Man in the World (1975), and The Rescuers (1977)—and he played the major role of the bumbling Dean Eugene Higgins in the three installments of the Medfield College trilogy: The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, Now You See Him, Now You Don’t, and The Strongest Man in the World. The quantity of his contributions should get Flynn inducted; other actors, including 2004 inductee Buddy Hackett, have been honored despite appearing in far fewer films for the company than Flynn, three in Hackett’s case.

4) Ron Miller: Walt Disney’s son-in-law contributed much to the company, though the quantity of his efforts generally outweighed the corresponding quality. In 1984, for example, with Disney threatened by corporate raiders and its film division at a nadir, Miller’s stint as company CEO ended with his ouster in favor of Michael Eisner. Still, Miller was the brains behind Disney’s Touchstone Pictures label, which allowed Disney to release more adult-oriented films, including the highly profitable Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), and Pretty Woman (1990), and he served as a producer for a whopping fifty theatrically-released Disney films between 1962 and 1985, including fan favorites Escape to Witch Mountain (1975), Pete’s Dragon (1977), and The Rescuers (1977).Walt Disney's Office Display in One Man's Dream

3) Jeffrey Katzenberg: Upon bolting Paramount for Disney with Michael Eisner in 1984, Jeffrey Katzenberg helped transform Disney’s blundering motion picture division into a powerhouse. The ascension of the department peaked in the early 1990s, when two animated masterpieces, Beauty and the Beast (1991) and Aladdin (1992), were released with Katzenberg serving as chairman of Walt Disney Studios.

Katzenberg’s biggest individual contribution to Disney was The Lion King (1994), the first animated feature in the company’s history to be created from an original in-house story instead of a fairy tale, a children’s book, or any other outside concept. On a flight from London to Paris in the summer of 1990 to promote The Little Mermaid (1989), Katzenberg was pondering coming-of-age stories with colleagues Roy E. Disney and Peter Schneider, when the proverbial lightbulb went on: Katzenberg told Roy Disney and Schneider that he wanted to relay such a story in an African setting with animals instead of humans. Although the resulting film was arguably the most popular animated flick in Disney history, The Lion King proved to be Katzenberg’s last hurrah at Disney, and it was hardly a pleasant hurrah. Katzenberg departed the company in August 1994 after infuriating Eisner, who refused to appoint Katzenberg President of the Walt Disney Company following the death of the previous president, Frank G. Wells, in a helicopter crash. Katzenberg proceeded to found DreamWorks, the animation studio behind films such as Shrek (2001) and How to Train Your Dragon (2010), along with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen.

2) Bobby Driscoll: Driscoll’s post-Disney life was tragically troubled, the former child star dying a pauper in New York City at only thirty-one years-of-age in 1968. Driscoll’s limited on-screen credits, however, are impressive: lead roles in three of Disney’s most significant films—the controversial Song of the South (1946), So Dear to My Heart (1949), and Treasure Island (1950), the latter the studio’s first completely live action effort—and the voice of the title character in Peter Pan (1953).

1) Don Knotts: In 2004, Karen Dotrice and the late Matthew Garber were named Disney Legends. Having appeared together in each of their three Disney film credits—The Three Lives of Thomasina (1963) and The Gnome-Mobile (1967) in addition to Mary Poppins (1964)—the co-induction of the former child stars was fitting. That same year, however, Disney missed the boat by naming Tim Conway a Disney Legend sans Don Knotts, the actor who is proverbially tied to Conway’s hip in Disney lore. Indeed, when many Disney fans ponder Don Knotts, they add three words to his name: “and Tim Conway.” The comedic duo co-starred in three Disney films—The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975), Gus (1976), and The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (1979).

Comparing Knotts’s overall credentials to Conway’s, Knotts appeared in more theatrically-released live action Disney films, six, than did Conway, five, and none of the films that starred Conway without Knotts are significantly superior to the films that starred Knotts without Conway—Conway’s The World’s Greatest Athlete (1973) and The Shaggy D.A. (1976), like Knotts’s No Deposit, No Return (1976), Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977), and Hot Lead and Cold Feet (1978), are highly entertaining, if unspectacular, Disney comedies. Knotts also voiced Mayor Turkey Lurkey in Disney’s 2005 animated film Chicken Little and Sniffer in the 2006 direct-to-DVD film Air Buddies.

Notes

1) Smith, D. (2012). Walt Disney. In Disney Trivia from the Vault: Secrets Revealed and Questions Answered (p. 250). New York: Disney Editions.

Do you agree with my choices? Disagree? What other contributors to Disney films do you think should be named Disney Legends? Sound off in the comments!

Checking in on those Disney New Year’s (non) Resolutions

We’re a bit past the midway mark of 2017 already!  Hard to believe, isn’t it?  Goodness, how this year is flying by!  I don’t know about you and your family, but we have been crazy busy this year and there’s no slowing down in sight.  I took a quick peak back to my New Year’s post to see how I was keeping up with my plans…

Checking in on those Disney New Year’s (non) Resolutions

The SOUP!  I’m really not sure why I fall in love with soups in Disney restaurants more than any other type of food.  Last Christmas at Jiko I was crazy about the Curried Butternut Squash Bisque and tried my best (fairly successfully) to reproduce it at home sans duck confit and quince marmalade.  I’ve made it twice so far and it was very tasty both times and close, but not exactly right.  I’m waiting for the weather to cool off a bit before I give it another go and I’m still committed to trying to record an actual recipe to share.  I tend to produce my most successful creations by throwing a bunch of ingredients together without measuring anything.

The Dark Side CHALLENGE!  Joseph’s first runDisney events and my first ones not having to run alone.  Star Wars 10K and half marathon…check!  A good time was had by all.  Happy, happy memories.The MOVIES!  There’s just one movie left on my short list of must-sees this year…Star Wars: The Last Jedi (December 15th).  I thought Beauty and the Beast was good and Spider-Man: Homecoming was solidly entertaining (even with all the teen angst).  Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 was by far the best movie I’ve seen this year.  I’m a huge Guardians fan and spent a fair amount of time worrying about the sequel not living up to the original movie.  HA!  Worried for nothing.  Volume 2 was everything I’d hoped for.

Scuba School!  Joseph and I, then later, Megan and Lyndsey (Joe’s girlfriend) have all completed our PADI open water scuba certifications.  We’re now working on our advanced open water and rescue diver certifications as well.  Who knew this would be so much fun?!?!  We’ve got some diving in Florida coming up to practice our new skills.  One downside…I either had to buy new swimwear or continue on with the single, well-worn Target suit I’d purchased several years ago.  I waited until all the swimsuits at Dillard’s were 1/2-off and forced myself to go shopping.  It was just as horrible as I expected, but I now have two new suits for vacation.  And they’ll be covered up most of the time by my wetsuit.

Booking a Disney Cruise was on the list.  That one was so easy, we’ve got not one, but two cruises in our future.  This fall we’ll be sailing on the Fantasy’s 7-Night Eastern Caribbean itinerary.  Next fall, we’ll be on the Wonder’s 4-night repositioning cruise from Vancouver to San Diego.  Does this mean we will finally get to Disneyland?  I’m sure working on it and will keep you posted.

Last Item:  Disney Undersea Adventure.  On our upcoming Caribbean cruise, Raymond and I will be visiting Tortola, St. Thomas/St. John, and Castaway Cay.  We were able to book two scuba diving excursions through Disney Cruise Line.  In Tortola our adventure is the Certified Scuba Wreck & Reef Dive.  In St. Thomas we’re signed up for the rather boringly named St. Thomas Certified Scuba excursion.  Both adventures include two dives – one to view coral and wildlife, one to explore a shipwreck.  We’re super excited!  On this cruise we’ll also be celebrating our 28th wedding anniversary!

Did you make any Disney (non) Resolutions for 2017?  How are you doing with your list?

Have you done any of the scuba excursions on a Disney cruise?  Got any tips or feedback to share?

Thoughts on Beauty and the Beast

I wouldn’t consider this a review. My comments are far from impartial and I feel certain I cannot be as fair and balanced as I usually strive to be.  Belle has always been my favorite princess and the animated Beauty and the Beast has been my favorite Disney animated movie since I first saw it in the theater in 1991.  Everything good thing I heard and saw about the live action remake seemed exactly right, so The Fam and I planned way in advance to catch the film during opening weekend.

I bought the tickets in advance and made sure we’d arrive at the theater with plenty of time to get excellent seats and grab some snacks. Megan had seen the movie on opening day and sat next to me promising not to give anything away.  This proved to be an excellent arrangement!  She was there to hold my hand during all the (slightly) scary and emotional parts (there were several) and didn’t make fun of me for crying (which Joseph certainly would have done).

Thoughts on Beauty and the Beast

To say the movie surpassed everything I’d hoped for is probably the best praise I can give it.  Stunningly beautiful in every detail, each scene brought me completely into the story.  I can’t recall a 2+ hour movie going by so quickly before. The original storyline was front and center with exactly the right amount of “more” added to hold my undivided attention.

For me, the best part of the movie was this:  Every character was richly developed in sometimes surprising ways that added more depth and meaning to an already excellent story.  Maurice was not a simple absent-minded inventor and Belle was not just a selfless bookworm waiting for her life to begin.  We learned many of the characters’ backstories and the knowledge made the movie ever more enjoyable with each new insight.  If you thought Belle was wonderful (and an awesome role model) in the animated version, you’ll absolutely adore her in this adaptation.

Finally, if you’ve heard controversial statements about this film’s suitability for the entire family, all I can say is that our family found it to be a clever, endearing, immensely entertaining movie.  Had our children been little, I’m certain the “controversial” parts would have completely gone unnoticed.  If I hadn’t heard about them, I honestly wouldn’t have noticed them myself.

By far Beauty and the Beast is Disney’s best live action remake to date and sets the bar high for future films.  Have you seen it yet?  What did you think?