Friday, April 18, 2014

Dreaming Disney - How Frozen Should Have Ended

I really love Frozen, it is a great movie.  And I guess most of you enjoy it too!

But I also love the funny, especially the funny that calls out the truth.  And the satire video "How Frozen Should Have Ended" is a perfect mix of funny and true.

Not to go into too much spoiler, because I actually have a friend who has not seen Frozen (that seems like it should be against the law), I really do love this.  Yes, Elsa's parent's reaction does seem to contradict the advice they were given.  And as a Marvel fan I find her new school to be inspired!  And everyone who should be singing is!  And here is the proof:

You have to love an early morning laugh! 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Between Books - All the World's a Disney Stage

What is it like to audition as a performer at Walt Disney World?  What is the life of an entertainer in Disney employ, do you work 4 hours a day?  These questions and more are answered in All the World's a Disney Stage.

All the World's a Disney Stage: Performing for the House of Mouse by T. R. Feather is a brief memoir and how-to-book discussing one Disney performer's audition and tenure at Walt Disney World beginning in 2011. The text discusses how to audition, the daily life of a Walt Disney World  performer, and discussions of the events themselves.  Feather shares his own personal observations about what it takes to be a Disney entertainer and how to make it a career.  The volume ends with Feather's own observations about his future as a Disney performer.

This really is a short volume.  The print edition is listed as 108 pages.  It is a quick read, I read the Kindle version, and it does not feel like a full 108 pages.  One should be able to read this book in an hour or less.  The writing is clear, but I often wished Feather would expand on points.  There were moments where he would make mention of Disney blogs that covered the topic.  I hoped at this point that he had expanded his conversation instead of suggesting looking elsewhere, without a specific suggestion of where to go next.

The book would serve of interest for anyone wanting a basic discussion of working in Walt Disney World's entertainment department.  Feather makes it clear how exhausting it can be to work a parade and what the long hours of an entertainer are.  Additionally, he shows the need for perseverance to land the desired role  And for 99 cents there is real value in the shared experience for other's knowledge.  And he makes it clear that  globally professional entertainers want and seek out Disney roles making landing a position even more difficult.  However, I would not recommend $8.99 to read the physical book.  I obtained a copy for free.  

All the World's a Disney Stage takes the reader into the parades and performances that we love.  But Feather makes it clear that it is not all fun and games.  Being a Disney performer long hour and hard work. But making the magic pays more in satisfaction than dollars.  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Goofy Gadgets - Disney Infinity To Add Marvel

Disney and Marvel collide pt.3 by ~lenlenlen1 on deviantART
Marvel and Disney this week announced the newest members of Disney Infinity, and it's Marvel right on the heels of the blockbuster Captain America: The Winter Soldier

My thoughts probably match a lot of others. And it is because I think this is very good.  First, it has been a long time since we saw a new Play Set added.  Phineas & Ferb and Frozen were added as Toy Box only features.  It is great you can play these characters, but the Play Sets have all pretty much been played through in my house and we need more.  Second, this opens the door to Disney's non-animation properties.  Third, as a giant Marvel fan I look forward to adding heroes and villains to the Toy Box mode and entering the Marvel Universe in another way.  Finally, these also seems to announce Disney Infinity 2.0 so maybe the software is getting an upgrade. 

Hey, can I get an Agent Coulson figure?

Are you excited?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Between Books - Walt's People Volume 13: Talking Disney with the Artists Who Knew Him

For a few years now I have had Dider Ghez's Walt's People series on my radar.  These oral history collections seemed like a good fit with my educational background.  So when Theme Park Press asked if I would be interested in reviewing the latest volume I immediately jumped on the the request.  But what I did not realize was that a simple book review was a intense journey into Disney's past.

Walt's People Volume 13: Talking Disney with the Artists Who Knew Him edited by Didier Ghez is over 550 pages of oral history.  The volume contains 27 separate interviews of former Disney employees in areas ranging from animation, live-action films and Imagineering.  There are plenty of voices that Disney fans would recognize from Tony Baxter, Roy E. Disney, Fess Parker, Blaine Gibson,  and Don Iwerks.  But the interviewers also introduce us to less familiar names like Becky Fallberg and Paul Kenworthy, who while perhaps not commonly known figures shed light into working at Disney in their interviews.  Ghez collects the interviews, and his collaborators who interviewed the subjects include well-known Disney historians such as John Canemaker, Michael Broggie, Dave Smith, and Paul F. Anderson.  Along with the interviews there are also two essays included.  The first on John Parr Miller is written by Canemaker, while the second on John Sibley was completed by Peter Docter.

Alright, let me put in my complaint!  I really want an index.  Yeah, that's it that's my one complaint.  That is a pretty weak criticism!   I get why it's not there, with over 550 pages of rich text that endeavor itself would be highly time consuming and add considerable length to this alright large book.  So I would love one to help ease the searching of the researcher in me.  But, I will pick up other volumes without one.  Because honestly, these pages are full!  

I expected to breeze through this book.  I will be honest, I was kind of cocky about it.  But instead it has taken me four weeks to complete the volume.  Quite simply, this is not a vacation book.  No this is a fact packed journey, actually journeys, into Disney's past.  And even the speech patterns and the vocabulary of the subjects become part of one's reading as you try to get to know these Disney artists in more depth.  In short these interviews are treasures and they should not be ran through, one needs to stroll.

One of the things I found interesting, and perhaps it was intentional, was reoccurring themes in the book.  So for example, early in the book labor relations at the studio and the 1941 animators strike continually resurfaced.  And with numerous animation staff discussing the incident, the reader can begin to exam it in other angles.  Another reoccurring theme that stood out to me was the True-Life Adventure film series.  A reader can walk away from Walt People Volume 13 after reading Roy E. Disney's, Kenworthy's and other interviews the process, time commitment and staging involved with capturing nature on film.  I found the Don Iwerks interview  extremely exciting, especially since the interviewer Michael Broggie's father was once Iwerks manager and mentor.  The interchange is fascinating since they share a common foundation of understanding.  And it is highly interesting to read an interview with the son of the man who drew Mickey Mouse.  

Walt's People Volume 13 confirmed for me this is a series I must complete. But I also know this is not a series to be trifled with.  These pages are jam packed with events and perspectives from the viewpoint of artists who lived them.  So as one would recommend that you don't rush to your favorite ride in the park you should not rush straight to Tony Baxter without visiting with his other colleagues and their stories also.  And as you research your favorite Disney topics, you should expect to look into these volumes to find new insights.  Walt's People Volume 13 is a must have in a Between Books library dedicated to Disney history!  

Review Copy Provide by Theme Park Press

Friday, April 4, 2014

Mousey Movie Review - Captain America: The Winter Soldier

As you know I am a pretty big Marvel Cinematic Universe fan, you know I have a podcast big!

Last night my co-host and I recorded our reaction immediately after seeing the movie.  

The podcast episode what we liked and did not, the future of the MCU and what does this mean for Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..

Monday, March 31, 2014

Between Books - 102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World

When people find out I am a Disney guy the first question I generally get is how much does it cost to go.  The second question is how can I get a discount.  And as many of you know, a Disney trip is often not one where financial corners are easy to cut.  But podcaster and author Lou Mongello has stepped up to the challenge of educating readers on how to make a Walt Disney World vacation a cost-effective adventure.

102 Ways To Save Money For and At Walt Disney World by Lou Mongello is a guide to saving and spending effectively while on vacation at Walt Disney World.  The book examines the most common trip planning areas from pre-trip preperation, tickets, accommodations, packages, dining (we are talking about Lou Mongello here), shopping and more with detailed tips on saving money.  The chapters are all easy to read in an outline like format for easy reference.  Additionally, the format makes it easy to find specific tips one is looking for quickly.  Along with the money saving tips Mongello provides, he also offers a bonus chapter that lists 40 free things that one can do, get, see, eat and collect in Walt Disney World.  The pages of the text are visually pleasing, with color chapter pages with bold images and color pictures from the resort scattered throughout the book.  

Seasoned Walt Disney World fans are likely to find some of the book's money saving tips as "common knowledge".  And I will admit that I found tips that matched some of my own touring habits, like getting free water instead of pop.  However, there was plently I had not considered or known about like saving dinner on meals by being creative with side dishes.  But I will argue that this book is a nice addition for the seasoned guest's library but it is an even better starting point for the new visitor's trip.  Yes, I had learned some of these lessons through experience.  But how much nicer would it have been to my pocket book if I had someone shared with me these lessons before my first visit!  And I think it helps simplify some of the more frustrating issues such as the Dining Plan.  You, Mongello and me may all have opinions of the Dining Plan but his discussion of the plan is fair and demonstrates clearly who the plan would work best for and for who it will be effective for.  I like this as it will allow the reader to make up their own mind if this add on is for them.

I read the electronic version of the book.  And I feel that this is the version that best serves most readers.  First, Mongello has a library of podcasts and videos that further illustrates and describes the issues he writes on.  So in the electronic version, if a reader wants additional information on a topic they are provided with links to additional mulit-media content to explore.  In a print version of the book the add-ons are effectively lost since it is not just a click away.  Second, the electronic version is the most portable version.  It can be read and accessed while vacationing on one's phone, without taking up valuable backpack space.  And honestly the bonus chapter and topics like dining contain information one would want while touring Walt Disney World.  So for just ease of use, electronic seems the best format for the money.

Lou Mongello makes a bold guarantee.  You will save money!  And if his 102 tips do not effectively save you money he will refund the purchase price of the book.  My guess is that he will not be asked to provide many readers of 102 Ways To Save Money For and At Walt Disney World their money back.  Because if you be a new visitor or an experienced guest, one is likely able to find advice based on real life experience in the parks that will help save a few dollars (if not more) while enjoying Walt Disney World.

And it is really nice that when folks ask me how to save money on their trip I have a title to reference them to instead of writing my own lengthy paragraphs. 

Review Copy Provided by Author 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Dreaming Disney - Honest Trailers: Frozen

Frozen is now out on home video release.  And my guess is most of you have seen it or own it.

So for those of you who have, here is a video by Honest Trailers that will surely give you some laughs and a whole whole different look at the movie!  Enjoy, but warning there is some adult humor.

I hope it gave you the same laugh I got, because sometimes the funniest thing is truth.

Now, go get that song stuck in your head!