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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!


Music Mondays: Jazz Loves Alice in Wonderland

Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland premiered in 1951. The theme song, Alice in Wonderland, plays during the opening and end credits. The music was composed by Sammy Fain and lyrics by Bob Hillard. Fain also wrote the music to You Can Fly (Peter Pan) and a couple standards you might know such as I'll Be Seeing You and Love is a Many Splendored Thing

I always associate the theme song from various Disneyland parades that featured an Alice in Wonderland section.  It is a pretty waltz. But did you know that it has become a jazz standard? It's simple melody make it easy for musicians to change the rhythm and make it their own. Jazz artists such as Chick CoreaDave Brubeck and Oscar Peterson have recorded their own versions of this song.  Perhaps the most famous jazz recording of Alice in Wonderland was done by the Bill Evans Trio with the 1961 release of Sunday at the Village VanguardTake a Monday break and enjoy this classic.

For many musicians, Alice in Wonderland is more than just a theme song from a Disney classic movie. You can do a search on iTunes, Amazon or YouTube and hear many versions of this theme song. Choose one or two and add it to your Disney music collection. If you have a favorite music version of Alice in Wonderland, let me know. 

Do you know how to get to Wonderland? 


The World of Color According to Mary Blair

I couple weeks ago, I was able to visit The Walt Disney Family Museum located at The Presido of San Francisco. My main purpose for this Disney adventure was to see their newest exhibit, MAGIC, COLOR, FLAIR the world of Mary Blair. I was excited to learn that there is now a separate building where special exhibits like this one can be housed. So, off I went to follow the whimsical trains on the pavement that led to the Diane Disney Miller Exhibition Hall. 

In this two-story building, they had a variety of Mary Blair art on display. There was an audio guide available, too, so you could really learn all about Mary Blair and her work. Seeing her art from her early years was fabulous. You can really see where she started and how experiences in her life influenced her style. 

I first learned about Mary Blair from the Disneyland attraction, "it's a small world". It was after visiting The Walt Disney Family Museum back in 2010 that I learned more about her work in Disney films such as Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella. It was Mary who Walt Disney tapped to help him with the "it's a small world" design for the 1964 New York's World Fair. She accompanied him and a group of Disney artists to countries in South America as part of a research tour. These trips influenced her flair for color, simple patterns and shapes. 

Mary Blair Exhibit, Walt Disney Family Museum March 2014 

I appreciated how the exhibit was laid out. It was colorful and simple just like Mary's style. There is some chronological order as the art is grouped by eras in Mary's work life. Her early years work were at the beginning of the exhibit and then you walked onto the main floor where you see the work she created during her time as a Disney artist. This middle section highlighted her work done in Disney classic films such as Alice Wonderland, Peter Pan and Cinderella. The second floor features her work as a Golden Books illustrator. You'll recognize some of them as they have become Golden Books classics. There are also some sketches as she worked on "it's a small world".

Art from Golden Book illustrations - I Can Fly

One of my favorite things to have seen is this painting that Mary had given to Walt and Lillian Disney. It had originally hung in the Disney family home.

Original Mary Blair portrait c. 1951 - Alice in Wonderland

In addition to this memorable piece, it was fun to see Mary Blair's hardhat. It has Mary Blair written all over it. 


The Mary Blair exhibit runs until September 7th. So if you get a chance go straight to the Diane Disney Miller Exhibition Hall. You can find some wonderful books about Mary Blair art over on Amazon, including a pre-order for the special hardcover book that was done by The Walt Disney Family Museum for this exhibit. Not only do I admire her colorful work and designs, but I also applaud her being a strong role model of leadership during her time. 

Halloween Time - Mickey Mouse Style

Happy Halloween!  

Finally got around to carving our pumpkins. One of the things that we do is to cut our pumpkin from the bottom. It looks better when your creation sit on the porch. We've found that we just like this method. Next, empty out the pumpkin guts...a favorite chore for some and not so fun for others. It's part of the smell of Halloween traditions.

The tools that help to make for easy carving and decorating are these reliable melon ballers. I have a couple different sizes and played around with the size of the circles. It's pretty easy once you take your melon baller, choose a spot, and just go for it. It goes fast, too.   

Once it gets dark and you get a candle in there, it looks pretty cool since the Mickey Mouse heads are backlit.

Wishing you lots of treats on this Halloween! 


My Disney Time

New Century Timepieces - Disneyland

While working at Disneyland, I became fascinated with Disney watches. Working at New Century Timepieces (now the Fortuosity Shop) on Main Street, USA exposed me to lots of the different Disney timepieces. There were a lot of variety of Disney characters and designs back in the 1990s. Some Disney watches were made to be "collectible" while other designs attracted fans of specific Disney characters. 

I simply began to purchase Disney-themed watches that I liked. Wrist watches were functional back then. If I was working at Disneyland, it was fun to wear a Disney watch. I chose to limit myself to certain designs and productions in my quest to start my personal Disney watch collection.

For 2013, I am going to share one watch a week from my personal Disney watch stash. It was fun looking through my watch collection and remembering some cherished moments associated with particular timepieces. A good number of my watches were only available to Cast Members. I have many watches that came with great packaging. There are some good Disneyland stories to tell, too.

My Disney Time starts tomorrow. The first watch is pretty special. See you real soon!


Disney on my Tree - Day 25

Merry Christmas! 

For this last entry of Disney on my Tree, I had to share my tree topper. I can't even remember when I got this but this angel is the star of our Christmas Tree. Angel Minnie Mouse is simply special all dressed in gold. Her wings and hands both move. She is the shinning star.

Wishing you lots of Christmas Cheer. With many blessings to you family, too!


Disney on my Tree - Day 24

"When you wish upon a star..." That's what the Disney Wonder horn plays when it leaves the dock. My family was lucky enough to take an Alaskan cruise aboard the Disney Wonder this past summer. It did feel like a wish came true with a once in a lifetime family vacation filled with Disney magic enroute to one of the most scenic states in our Union, Alaska. 

We chose these two ornaments to remember this dream vacation. The Disney Wonder is a very luxurious vessel so this resin replica conjures up many memories for my family. We had fun remembering the beauty of the ship, the fantastic broadway-like shows, Deck 9, and much more Disney magic. It was really a chance for us to disconnect in order to "connect" together.  

This second resin ornament is a reminder of the Alaskan ports we were able to visit such as Ketchikan, Skagway and Juneau. We did some zip-lining and my husband even had a chance to go dog sledding with Iditarod dogs.  We did see some very intricate totem poles and this ornament is a great Disney interpretation. 

On this Christmas Eve, don't forget to check out Norad to see where Santa is. They now have a great App, too.

Wishing you day filled with love and Christmas Cheer!


Disney on my Tree - Day 23

Day 23 is brought to you by one more Donald & Daisy Duck ornament. 

I love the tiny red Mickey Mouse ornament ball that Donald Duck is holding in his hand. The mistletoe that Daisy Duck holds over Donald's head adds another cute factor. She is ready for some Christmas cheer and Donald looks like he is ready, too. It's oh so cute on our tree. 

My kids like to refer 2 days before Christmas as Christmas Eve, Eve.

So happy Christmas Eve, Eve!