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Music Mondays: Dave Digs Disney

I love hearing classic Disney tunes interpreted in a variety of artists in their own style, too. One of my favorites is Dave Digs Disney which features the Dave Brubeck Quartet. The story goes that Brubeck was inspired by a trip to Disneyland with his kids so wanted to play Disney songs in his jazz style.  

Dave Digs Disney was first released in 1957 LP in mono. The famous quartet played and recorded their jazz renditions of what would be Disney classic songs like When You Wish Upon a Star and Heigh-Ho, Heigh Ho. Since there was not a demand for Disney songs during this time, much less jazz versions of Disney songs, the stereo mixes of this album were not available until later during the re-lease. It would find much success in later years and become a classic favorite with not only jazz fans but many Disney fans, too.

By 1957, some of the Walt Disney Animated classic movies that had been released up to this point were Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Disneyland opened in 1955.  Many did not think of the songs in the Disney movies in this era to be more than just that. So if you think about it, Dave Brubeck was one of the first artist to take Disney songs and record their own versions in their own styles. It really is a classic and great record of Disney songs done in a jazz style by one of the most important figures to jazz music. 

I found  this POST if you want to read more about some behind the scene stories about this particular record. My husband, MacSparky, wrote this about one of the songs on Dave Digs Disney

"One of my favorites is Alice in Wonderland, by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. This track is on an album full of Disney tunes called Dave Digs Disney from 1957. The Dave Brubeck quartet was one of the pioneers of the West Coast Jazz movement and is one of the most distinctive in jazz with Paul Desmond's lilting melodies on Alto Sax and Dave Brubeck's harmonics on Piano. Alice in Wonderland delivers on all counts."

Brubeck led the way for many musicians to take Disney songs and make it your own in terms of style. It was an album before its time, yet has become a "must-have" for any Disney music library. 

Happy Music Monday!


Today is the last day for my Rubba Duck giveaway. Leave a comment HERE to enter and win a Rubba Duck. 

Music Mondays: There's A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow

Written by Disney Legends Richard and Robert Sherman, "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" is a cheerful song that you'll be humming. Walt Disney charged the song-writing duo to create a song for the GE Pavillon for the 1964 New York's World Fair

In the video below, you can see Walt and the Sherman Brothers making their pitch to GE in support of what WED had created for the World's Fair.

"Walt Disney was the eternal optimist, and he really believed that things could be better. And Bob and Dick Sherman wrote that song as a personal ode to Walt. They really meant it.... That was Walt's anthem, and they recognized that." - Marty Sklar

This memorable song can currently be heard at the Carousel Of Progress attraction at The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. It was the song that you heard when you entered the Innoventions (1998-2015) attraction at Disneyland. They Might Be Giants did a cover of the song for the movie Meet The Robinsons. It's not far from the original version and was the perfect song for this movie. I heard chords of the song in the extended Tomorrowland movie trailer that can currently be viewed at Disneyland

It's not a very long song and the lyrics are simple...and full of hope:

There's a great big beautiful tomorrow
Shining at the end of everyday
There's a great big beautiful tomorrow
And tomorrow's just a dream away

Man has a dream and that's the start
He follows his dream with mind and heart
And when it becomes a reality
It's a dream come true for you and me

So there's a great big beautiful tomorrow
Shining at the end of everyday
There's a great big beautiful tomorrow
Just a dream away

Wishing you a "great big beautiful tomorrow!"


Mickey Mouse Themed Gift Bags

I love decorative washi tape. I can never have enough. There are so many great designs out there and they are everywhere. It works like masking tape but it is pretty masking tape that comes in many widths and patterns. Washi tape is mostly made from the bark of trees that originate in Japan. It's really become popular in the last couple years so it is readily available just about anywhere. 

I like that you can tear it easily with your fingers. The hand torn look adds to its charm. It also adheres to most anything but will not stick permanently. So it is great to use for masking off areas if you need it.

The washi tape is my "go-to" plus some kraft bags when I need a simple package or want to decorate an envelope. Using Mickey Mouse colors of red, black, and bright yellow inks, I personalized these white kraft bags using some rubber stamps. I choose a variety of patterned washi tape from my stash. 

Quick and easy gift bags for my Disney friends. I had a bunch of photographs of our last Disneyland trip that I put inside these bags.

Happy Disney Crafting!


Music Mondays: Let's Get Together....

...Yeah, Yeah. Yeah!

A couple weeks ago, my kids and a close friend had a robust discussion about one of their favorite Disney films, The Parent Trap. There was lots of talk about each version (1961 & 1998) but how can you not think of this song when someone talks about either The Parent Trap movie.

"Come on let's compromise. You give a little, I'll give a little. Come on, let's get together..."

The song, Let's Get Together, was written by The Sherman Brothers (Robert and Richard). This version actually debuted on Billboard 100 (September 1961) and had a good run making its way into the top 10. There was also a pop version recorder by Annette Funicello and Tommy Sands. In the !998 remake of The Parent Trap, Haley (played by Lindsay Lohan), can be heard humming the song as she walks into the hotel elevator. In Disney Mania 5, the band, the Go-Go's  cover this song

It's a fun song to start off the new week. 

Happy Music Monday!




Review: Disney Family Wines - Fess Parker Winemaker Event

Last month I was able to attend a Winemaker Event at the Alfresco Tasting Terrace located inside Disney California Adventure. This was a premiere event (hoping for a series) that featured the Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard.

Some Background

The wines that are served in this location are identified as Disney's Family of Wines. According to the Disney Parks Blog, the wine selection is "a diverse collection that displays qualities long identified with Walt Disney and The Walt Disney Company, carrying on the Disney legacy and typifying the passion, innovation and quality that the name Disney symbolizes". 

Disney Legend, Fess Parker, is most famous for portraying Davy Crocket that was featured in several episodes in the 1954 show, The Wonderful World of Disney. Parker, as Davy Crocket, would make the coonskin cap famous due to the popularity of the series. (The Winery even sells a coonskin wine topper and a coonskin cap).

In 1987, Parker purchased property in Santa Barbara which would eventually become Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard. Parker was actively involved in the growth and success of his winery. The Winemaker event was not only an opportunity to discover and taste the Fess Parker wines, but also a chance to hear some family stories from Parker's son, Eli Parker

The Wine Tasting

Besides the featured wines, the event also gave allowed resident chef, Jorge Cruz, to create some tasteful small plates to pair with each glass. There were four wines presented and each one came with a delicious and beautiful plate of food.  

It was a very enjoyable and tasty event. Seating was very limited so it was an intimate event. I learned a little about Fess Parker and his relationship to the Disney company. I learned a lot about Fess Parker Wines. The food was delicious and paired nicely with all the wine offerings. My favorite wine was Rodney's Vineyard Syrah. I just like that peppery red wine. The service was Disney excellent. The bonus part of the event was the view from the terrace. 

If you ever need a place to relax and want to have some wonderful California, Disney's Family Wines, visit this location. There is actually a bar on the first level where you can purchase wine by the glass. 

"The Alfresco Tasting Terrace daily menu features Mediterranean-inspired appetizers and wines from the “Disney Family of Wines” — consisting of eight California vintners chosen because of their personal relationship with the Disney name.

The “family of eight” includes Chappellet Winery, Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard, Frank Family Vineyards, Gogi, Lasseter Family Winery, MacMurray Ranch, Silverado Vineyards and Skywalker Vineyards." (from Disney Parks Blog)

Eli (Parker) was kind enough to take a photo with me. He is really tall. 

Eli (Parker) was kind enough to take a photo with me. He is really tall. 

Cheers to you!



Music Monday: Learn Me Right (Brave)

I discovered two things over the weekend. First, Merida, the heroine from BRAVE, is the only Disney princess who does not sing a song in a Disney movie. Second, the British band Mumford & Sons, is releasing a new album in May. I just thought it was fun that these two things I learned are somehow connected to each other.

Mumford & Sons wrote the song Learn Me Right for Brave. It is sung by another British artist known as BirdyYou hear the song during the closing credits of the movie. Mumford & Sons actually reworked this particular song for their Grammy winning album, Babel, and released it as Not With Haste. It sounds almost the same but with different lyrics. 

There is one more thing I learned about the music from Brave and that is that most of the score was composed by Patrick Doyle. He is an accomplished composer who usually collaborates with actor and director, Kenneth Branagh. Have you made another Disney connection yet? Branagh is the director for the new live-action Disney movie, Cinderella, that comes out in the theater this weekend. Doyle composed the music for this new movie. 

To start your week, I'll leave with these lyrics from Learn Me Right:

We will be who we are
And they’ll heal our scars 
Sadness will be far away

Happy Music Monday!


Music Monday: Immortals (Big Hero 6)

Last week, Disney's Big Hero 6 won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. It's for all ages. I've seen it three times and each screening still felt like an emotional roller coaster with many tears during some heart tugging moments. 

Big Hero 6 does not feature any musical numbers performed by the characters. There is a scene in the film where the characters come to realize their potential as heroes working together for a cause. The music that accompanies this footage is called Immortals performed and written by rock band, Fall Out Boy. The song sets the tone of anticipation and hope that lies within this group underdogs preparing to take on the bad guy. 

Video content owned and licensed by Disney Entertainment, Marvel Entertainment, LLC, etc 

Big Hero 6 is the first Marvel story that Disney took on since the Marvel purchase in 2009. Disney did a great job to take this Marvel story and tell it through some Disney eyes and heart.

If you haven't seen this award winning movie, make some time to see it. You'll be glad you did. If you have seen it, get someone who hasn't seen it to watch it with have some tissue handy. 

Happy Music Monday!


My Visit to the Walt Disney Studios (Part 4 -Legends Plaza)

Disney Legends Plaza is the area in front of the Team Disney Building. It is a large patio area that honors individuals who have made a significant contribution to the Disney legacy. These Imagineers, artists, actors, songwriters, and business execs whose names and handprints are featured on bronze plaques are known as Disney Legends. We spent a good amount of time looking at many of them and learning about their contribution to Disney milestones. 

Each Disney Legend is awarded a beautiful statute. The statue was designed by Andrea Favilli. Check out this video where Favilli reveals some cool details about his sculpture. At the entrance of the Plaza you this huge Disney Legend sculpture so that you can get a good look at all the details mentioned on the video.

There are two more bronze sculptures to see in Disney Legends Plaza. These are both designed by Disney Legend, Blain Gibson. The first here is of Roy O. Disney sitting on a bench with Minnie Mouse. The empty spot was on purpose, as if they are waiting for Mickey or Walt to join them. You can also find this statue at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. 

Roy O. Disney & Minnie Mouse

Roy O. Disney & Minnie Mouse

The next statute is of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse, titled Partners. There are replicas located in several Disney Parks. It first debuted in 1993 at Disneyland for Mickey's 65th birthday. This particular one on the studio lot is the only one that you can get to at very close range. 

It was really a thrill to be able to spend time at Legends Plaza and learn about the many Disney Legends that have contributed much to the Disney story. It was a great family afternoon of discovery involving all things Disney. 

Our next stop after the plaza was the Walt Disney Archives. I'll share some of the Disney treasures that we were able to see  at the Archives

See you real soon!



My Visit to the Walt Disney Studios (Part 3)

The Rotunda (Executive Dining Room)

I was really excited our lunch adventure at the Walt Disney Studio. My friend had secured reservations for us at the executive dining room. This is an exclusive area that is only available to specific management levels (directors and above). It is located in the Team Disney Building. 

Before going up to the Dining Room, we were able to just take in the Team Disney Building. Designed by famed architect Michael Graves. It is a very distinctive building on the studio lot. You can actually see the Seven Dwarfs from several blocks outside the studio, including the freeway. They look like they are holding the roof which is a fitting symbol as it was the revenue from the 1937 movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, that Walt Disney used to purchase the studio lot. It is a pretty fun and impressive building that appropriately serves as corporate headquarters for The Walt Disney Company.

Team Disney Building at Walt Disney Studio - Burbank, CA

Team Disney Building at Walt Disney Studio - Burbank, CA

As we entered the Rotunda, our tour guide let us know that we were now above the Seven Dwarfs statutes that we had seen on the outside of the building. The executive dining room is cozy. The furniture, wall coverings, and even table ware were all designed exclusively by Graves for the Team Disney Building. 

Chairs and dining room designed by Michael Graves

Chairs and dining room designed by Michael Graves

These originally were different carpet patterns designed by Michael Graves that were found throughout the Team Disney Building. 

These originally were different carpet patterns designed by Michael Graves that were found throughout the Team Disney Building. 

Mickey Mouse Silhouette Plate designed by Michael Graves (Pfaltzgraff )

Mickey Mouse Silhouette Plate designed by Michael Graves (Pfaltzgraff )

We were escorted to our table by a lovely hostess. It is table service so we all got to choose what we wanted to eat. They even served us an amuse-bouch (bite-sized hors d'œuvre) to start. The menu was nothing too fancy. Very bistro-California style. There were no Mickey-shaped or Disney themed entrées. Our friendly server highly recommend the burger (My husband, MacSparky, did order and claimed it was delicious). Here are more photos of our dining experience.

We didn't run into Bob Iger but there were a couple high-level executives in having lunch. I couldn't help but think of all the deals and conversations that have probably happened in this rotunda. If the walls and chairs could talk. We simply had a wonderful lunch that included great conversation, a chance to soak up the exclusive dining room, and relax after our morning tour.

The Team Disney Building looks down Legends Plaza. So when we exited the building, we all made a beeline to discover some Disney Legends. There are so many things to talk about and see in Legends Plaza that it needs its own post. It was one of my favorite highlights on this tour. More about it my visit in Part 4: Legends Plaza.

You can catch up on  my previous posts here:

My Visit to the Walt Disney Studios, Part 1

My Visit to the Walt Disney Studios, Part 2

Wishing you some Disney magic,


My Visit to the Walt Disney Studios (Part 2)

Meet me at the corner of Dopey Drive and Mickey Avenue.....

This is one of the most photographed landmarks on the Walt Disney Studio lot. It was actually a prop used for the 1941 movie, The Reluctant Dragon. Check out this movie because you can actually see how the Walt Disney Studio operated back during that time period. In this movie, there is an actor who is trying to pitch a story to the studio. The viewer actually gets a behind the scenes tour of the Walt Disney Studio. The movie was a way for Disney to show the public the happenings at his studio. 

There is a fire hydrant located to left of the iconic street sign. Our tour guide pointed out a couple fun elements at this famous corner.

If you look closely you also see some paw prints that were cleverly placed. Most overlook this design element since it just looks like dents on the pavement. As you see in the photo above, it can be covered with debris or water.  I love that even at the Studio, Pluto's paw prints are evidence Disney's attention to detail.

The buildings and landscape pretty much remain how they looked when it first opened in 1940. Our tour guide told a story of how Walt Disney's father, Elias Disney, was always in an entrepreneurial mood. Elias had had several failed business adventures. He had expressed to Walt about how to design of the studio in case it did not succeed. If you look at the architecture and design of these buildings, you can see how it could easily be used as medical buildings. Thank goodness The Walt Disney Studios was a success but if it had not, the lot could easily have been converted into a huge hospital facility. 

When they filmed the movie, Saving Mr. Banks, they were able to shoot the exterior scenes on the Studio lot since it had not changed much. If you watch this deleted clip, you can see how easy it was for the film production to shoot a movie scene that really could have happened as shown here.

We walked around to to see Stage A. The scene from Saving Mr. Banks where PL Travers (played by Emma Thompson) arrives at the studio and enters through these doors was filmed here. The studio lot has an art deco and timeless feel to it. 

We were able to go inside the main Theater very briefly. It is pretty plush inside with comfortable red velvet seats. The lobby has these glass murals where if you look closely, you can see a nod to Walt Disney's Fantasia. There are also a variety of Disney memorabilia located in the glass displays.  It is still used to for a variety of both private and public screening events. 

While at the main Theater, we ran into some of the Studio projectionist who let us peek into their work space. Talk about a technology both old and new. One of my kids continues to be involved in video production so it was such a bonus to see the projection room with all the equipment. They were so kind to tell us about their work and tools of the trade.

The most fascinating note was pointing out that the Walt Disney Studios is one of the few remaining production studios that own a 70 mm projector. They told us that when a film maker like Quentin Tarantino shoots in 70 mm, he will usually call on the Walt Disney Studios to see if he can come over to review his dailies there.

Those projection guys were full of so many stories like that. One of them had been there for thirty plus years and said his dad was there before him in the same role, too. If that projection room could talk about all the different events and people who had come through there, that would make for an interesting book.

We had to cut our walking tour short because we had exclusive lunch reservations at The Rotunda. It is the executive dining room located in the Team Disney Building. I'll share my lunch adventure at the Walt Disney Studios in Part 3.



My Visit to the Walt Disney Studios (Part 1)

For my birthday last week, I had a very Disney Day. It started early as we made our way up to Burbank from Orange County. It was an extra treat that MacSparky and our kids got to join me, too. We were on our way to the Walt Disney Studios for a private tour. 

I took a lot of photos and got a lot of information so I am going to break up my trip and share over several posts. It was really exciting to go and walk onto a place where so much Disney history happened. 

Upon arriving, we were given clearance and received our badges for the day. We entered the Zorro parking structure. It is named for the 1950s television series, Zorro, that was shot on this particular piece of land located on the studio lot. The parking structure was built in 1992. They have already outgrown it so they are building another parking area. The area behind these there was construction fences will also be able to hold production trucks and trailers.

NOTE: If you want to know everything Zorro, go to this website. It has lots of great photos, resources, and history of the show and the actor who played Zorro, Guy Williams

The Walt Disney Studios is a working studio with several sound stages on its property. It is pretty small compared to neighboring studios like Warner Bros or Universal. The bigger studios offer paid tours where guests can purchase a ticket and take a tour of the studio lot. I was very lucky to have a dear friend offer to give me a private tour on my birthday. 

Finally getting to walk onto the lot, our special tour guide told us a little about the history of the studios. First, the Walt Disney Studio was established in 1928. With the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Walt purchased the land for his growing studio in 1938. Think about how much a movie ticket in 1937 would cost and that Snow White earned $7.8 million in its original run. That's a lot of tickets! That movie paid for the studio that would allow Walt to continue pursuing his dreams.

The Walt Disney Studio would be complete by 1940 (photo from D23 archives)

The Walt Disney Studio would be complete by 1940 (photo from D23 archives)

Our tour guide pointed out the iconic water tower. Most water towers have four legs, there are six legs on this tower because Roy O. Disney felt it was more aesthetically pleasing. While it no longer holds water, it stands proudly in an area that is visible from every corner of the studio lot. It is actually almost shorter than the Matterhorn at Disneyland by almost 12 feet. Here are several views we had of it during our day.

Next we got to walk around some of the sound stages and learn a little more about each one. If the walls could really talk, they would say much about Disney history. Stage 1 was where Leopold Stokowski would film scenes for Fantasia. It is the oldest sound stage on the lot. It would later become the original stage for The Mickey Mouse Club. In 2013, it would be renamed and dedicated to Annette Funicello.

NOTE: During our visit, we were introduced to Mike Funicello, Annette's younger brother. He has been working for the Walt Disney Studios for 41 years. He kindly took a couple minutes to tell us a story. Mike told us how he would go to Disneyland with his sister while she worked. He would go ride the steam trains all day. What a great memory of Disneyland. I jokingly told my kids that they were now one or two handshakes away from many Disney legends.  

Stage 5 is currently being used for the new ABC show, 'Black.-ish. They weren't shooting that day but they had the doors open so you could see some of the sets. It was also home to the sitcom, Home Improvement

Stage 2 is pretty special. It was where Mary Poppins was filmed. Later, The Princess Diaries would also be filmed in Stage 2. So it is only right that it is named after Julie Andrews. It is one of the bigger sound stages on the lot. Due to the space, WDI built and assembled many Disneyland attractions on this stage, too. 

There are several more smaller sound stages that are used on the lot. Masterchef occupied a sound stage. You could see all the pots, pans, and food containers through an open door. It is interesting to think of a cooking competition show housed in a huge sound stage. Some serious lighting on top of heating issues in an enclosed building can be a challenge. Our tour guide also let us know that The Voice also comes uses one of the sound stages when their seasons overlap. 

I learned a lot about a working studio. I learned that sound stages are in high demand and production companies work with many different studios to find space. It was a Friday when we went so the lot was fairly quiet. 


Part 2...Meet me at the corner of Mickey and Dopey.


Music Mondays: When You Wish Upon a Star

"When You Wish Upon a Star" is probably one of the most famous Disney songs. It was written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington for Walt Disney's animated classic, Pinocchio. It has the distinction of being the first Disney song to win an Academy Award (1940) for Best Original Song. It ranks #7 on the AFI's 100 Greatest American Movie Music

This week, when you hear the first chords of this iconic tune, it might be followed by "Julian Edelman and Malcolm Butler, you just won the Superbowl. What are you going to do next?" It was this song that was chosen for the now famous "I'm Going to Disneyland" Superbowl commercials.  When You Wish Upon a Star has become a theme song that you identify with The Walt Disney Company

The song has been around since 1940 when it was first recorded by Cliff Edwards who provided the voice of Jiminy Cricket. It is not just a Disney classic tune but remains both a beloved and motivational song that has been covered by many artists like Louis Armstrong, Billy Joel to Indina Menzel. If you go into iTunes and search When You Wish Upon a Star, you can see just how many different versions there are and you would be surprised at who has recorded a version of this song. There are hundreds of recorded versions of this song.

I think the most interesting recording that I came across was one by Beatles member, Ringo Starr and jazz musician, Herb Alpert. Here's the proof. 

It's always fun to figure out a Disney-related song to share on Music Mondays. The Superbowl had me think about this song for many reasons. It is a song you immediately associate with Disney. It has become a theme song for dreams and accomplishments. 

When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you

Dream on!


Music Mondays: Baby Mine (Dumbo)

In 1941, Walt Disney Productions released their 4th full-length animated picture, DUMBO. The baby elephant was originally named "Jumbo" by his mother, Mrs. Jumbo.  After his large ears are revealed, the other circus animals rename him "Dumbo" since they feel that the baby elephant will not be able to walk without stepping over his ginormous ears. They taunt and make fun of Dumbo. It becomes too much to bear one day that Dumbo's mother angrily lashes out at the other animals. The circus then locks up Dumbo's mother. Separated, Dumbo can only cry and sit outside Mrs. Jumbo's cage. 

To comfort her baby elephant, Mrs. Jumbo sings a lullaby to Dumbo, Baby Mine. The scene with this particular song can bring tears. It touches your heart to hear a mother sing a haunting lullaby to her baby. Dumbo has to leave his mom after she sings this song.

"From your head down to your toes,
You're not much, goodness knows.
But, you're so precious to me,
Sweet as can be, baby of mine."

Baby Mine was written by Frank Churchill (music) and Ned Washington (Lyrics). The original song in the movie was sung by Betty Noyes. It actually received a Best Original Song nomination for the 1941 Academy Awards. There have been many artists who have covered the song including Bette Middler, as part of the movie soundtrack for Beaches

Happy Music Monday!