Monday, September 19, 2016

Misadventures - I took a Quick Trip for AP Days...and failed.

Hey, there, readers! 

Looks like I might have a few more Mouseketeers lately.  Welcome, all! 

I took a quick trip to DCA on Saturday to pick up an AP button (look at the title for a spoiler alert), but I just thought I'd share things as I went along.  I found a good number of little mysteries and updates. 

I was parked in Daisy, and as I was walking to the escalators, it was quick enough that I got this GREAT view of the lovely Halloween display featuring Mickey, Minnie, and Donald.  Always be mindful of your surroundings, you never know when you're going to find a nice picture spot. 

Downstairs, it seems they are advertising the near end of Tower of Terror.  I said it on Twitter, and I'll say it again....all this hoopla for it feels like Disney is just rubbing it in our faces.  As if to say, "Guess what, it's going and you can't do anything about it!" It just feels wrong.  And I've heard a lot of pushback that it's not Walt Disney World's, that will still be there, and ours has never been as popular. Not so.  It's pretty much always had good lines.

Another point, Tower of Terror has been open at Disney-MGM Studios (just try to get me to call it anything else, I dare you) for 85% of its history.  For DCA, it's been there for 75% of its history.  It survived a massive renovation and re-theming of the park.  It's more beloved than you think, Disney....

On a lighter note, 

For more rantings on the Tower of Terror, read my previous blog post:

The Diamond Anniversary banners have been removed.  I'm noting it mainly because all the blue giving way to the colors totally threw me off for a minute. Kinda funny...

So, I had a quick lunch at Smokejumpers Grill.  It's seating is kind of deceptive.  I found a nice little spot to people watch those waiting for Soarin' (which, sorry, I can't ride until I do with my Uncle Memo, which is why it's been out so long and I haven't mentioned it in any posts).

But just look at the CUTE Halloween cups designed by Disney artist Jeff Granito (

 I mean...LOOK AT IT! 

So, as I walked to Stage 12 towards AP Days, I saw Frozen has moved out of the Muppet Theater...but nothing has moved back in.

I mean, really? Put the darn Muppets back in! Is it going to kill you? Stop this foolishness!
THIS is not the foolishness I'd like to see!

And THIS. Ugh......I know! I know....they own Marvel, gotta make use of the IP, etc. THIS is how I like my Marvel, tucked away in a corner.

Let's get this view in while we got it....I looked at the products they've got out. I didn't take pictures, it was still a little scattered, it seems.  A t-shirt, an ornament....we'll see if they step it up.

Or just, y'know, cancel the closing, I don't know..... *whistles innocently*

I admit, I like the sketch of Stitch.  The Disney Artist sketches tend to run $35-40 for one character (sorry, I didn't look to confirm), so this might be a worthy send off souvenir.

On my way out of the park, I stopped into the Animation Building.  This is truly one of my favorite places in the park.  It's been partially ruined by invaders from Norway (chocolate hoarding invaders) but Disney really needs to take a better look at how to utilize the space for everyone.  Seating is good, but they've shifted things so there is one long bench in the middle of the room.  I supposed so you can look around, but it would be better if they moved all the queues they've got set up, and did the random seating around the edges again.  You didn't feel quite so cramped.

A few years ago, they did a GREAT display for the anniversary of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but my understanding is that the space it took up in the lobby upset visitors who just wanted to sit. And then, with Frankenweenie's release, they had a smaller display of the props.  Stop motion is a real art.  It was another fantastic display.

The last really good thing they had in there was the Toy Story Zoetrope. Now THAT was a piece of art.  However, it was removed to make way for.....those nameless sisters (You think I'm sick of Frozen?).  i just hope it's well stored so it can be brought back out.

I'm not sure why they haven't better utilized the space, as I said before.  Turtle Talk obviously still does well (although the announcements really take you out of the lobby displays.  They need to knock that off!), but does the animation show really help educate the public as to what it takes to make an animated film? I mean, it's from's got Mushu in it, for pete's sake.  Renovate that space for retrospectives and revolving displays.

Anyway, here's just a few pictures I snapped in the lobby.  Seriously, get some sourdough bread, (where they give you butter, plastic knives, and napkins now!) a drink, and a friend (because I have done with with my BFF Kaitlyn) and sit for a while.  Enjoy the art work.  I especially love its focus on the backgrounds (like the Pinocchio background of the candle above).  I think it's the best display of animation as art, not just something you sit your kid in front of so they'll shut up.

At Off the Page, I found this fabulous little ornament of Rex in his Partysaurus Rex DJ gear.
Absolute cuteness! 

While Disney has been advertising the Sugar Skull treats on the Disney Parks Blog, these caught my eye.  My grandmother LOVES the Wicked Queen (seriously, her make up goals).

Even if you don't eat them, these are total pieces of art.

The Star Wars construction is right up to the walls near the tram line.  I actually saw my first Disneyland cat in MONTHS in that area.  I'm sure construction has pushed them to somewhere quiet. How dare you, Disney?

But, at the moment, it seems they're taking the opportunity to do a little landscape work.  Hopefully they pick something nice and soft and cat-friendly.

Kanine Krunchies- Cake Pops

So, just a mini food review of the cake pops, just to get a representation of the Halloween offerings.  There will be more down the line, I promise.

That white chocolate, is, in fact, white chocolate.  The cake pops come in vanilla, chocolate, and red velvet, so be sure to ask if you have a preference.  The ears are marshmallows.

Treasure Maps.....

I don't know about you all, but I always grab a map.  I once had a friend who was astonished that I did. "I already know where everything is," was her snotty reply.

Always grab a map and schedule.  You never know when you'll need the information, or you might just be visual like me.

Again, here is the promotion for the demise of Tower of Terror....

And everything you can do to celebrate/protest...

But I found this kind of interesting.....

Disney actually put the Grand Californian on the DCA map, and Storytellers Cafe.

Also, they've been tweeting about discounts through the holidays (or right up to them),

I'm not really sure what this means in the grand (pun just a happy accident) scheme of things, but it's something to keep an eye on.

AP Days

Now, I went over to Stage 12 and there was a long line.  I only wanted a button so I asked a CM (Tara, very nice) if I could do so.  I wasn't really in a mood to meet a character.  She said today they're making you wait in the line.  She was part of the Button crew the previous day and loved it because, let's face it, if you want a button, it's a quick transaction.  if I wanted to I could walk over to the other AP Days station on Paradise Pier.

Wimp that I am, I declined to do so. I didn't intend to be in the parks all that long.

This isn't really a knock on AP Days, don't get me wrong.  I can't really say since I didn't experience it.  But just something to keep in mind.  Tara informed me that the line over in Paradise Pier would most likely be shorter because there are no meet and greets there.

I'm kind of interested in why they're doing AP Days again right now.  I haven't heard anything about any Passholder parties (we love those events!) so I'm guessing this might be some kind of supplement.  We'll see....

Wrapping up..

There you have it, a little mini update.  Things are about to get busy here at the blog with the holidays coming, and me with a little more time. My Uncle Memo, chronicled in the last blog post, got an Annual Pass, so I might have a Vanna White of sorts on my hands.

Coming this week is my review of Pete's Dragon, as well as Build-a-Bear's Elliot.

The post after that (save for a Frolics with Fred) is up to you all.  Please comment below whether you next want a tribute to the 60th or information on the Walt Disney Records Legacy Collection.  That one will be a bit of a rant...but you'll have to see why when you make a choice!

Have a great week!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Whale of a Tale....Happenin' Down the Street Around the Corner

Hello, readers!

I had other plans, but I think I ought to start a new post for you all with a whole tale. It was intended to be just a "Down the Street Around the Corner" to Walt's Barn in Griffith Park, but the more I thought about it, the more I think this is a story to be shared, hence the half title "Whale of a Tale".

These Disney puns for blog titles working for anybody?

Alright, it's best to begin at the beginning.  Or at least half way through.

In 2013, I met the Disney Legend Marty Sklar at the D23 Expo.  To those who might not know, Marty Sklar is the International Ambassador for Walt Disney Imagineering, having started by writing a Disneyland newspaper, and coming to the company full time upon graduation from UCLA in 1956. He has been a major figure in the Disney theme parks for decades. Anyway, I met him when he did signings of his first book, "Dream It! Do It!: My Half-Century Creating Disney's Magic Kingdoms". As is often the case with the grand old men and women of the Walt era, he was kindly and personable as he autographed my copy. I took it home and eventually read it.

To my surprise, I found out, through the book, his father, Leon Sklar, was a teacher, and actually taught and was principal of Banning High School, the closest high school to my home, and the school many of my family members went to (my grandmother and her siblings certainly). When I told my family this, my grandmother said the name Sklar had sounded familiar.

As one does, we mentioned this story to my Uncle Manuel. For a little more background, my grandmother is the 8th of 13 children.  Uncle Manuel is the 9th sibling.  Not only did he remember Mr. Leon Sklar, but Mr. Sklar was a mentor to him and quite formative in his education.

(And if you think the possibility of Mr. Feeny of Boy Meets World going from middle school to high school with his students isn't believable....Mr. Sklar went from Wilmington Junior High to Banning with my grandmother and her siblings of that age. Yet another funny little Disney connection in an unlikely place.)

When the 2015 D23 Expo rolled around, my mother and I decided to take these memories and deliver them TO Marty Sklar.  We wrote these remembrances down (well, Mom did; her handwriting is pretty as heck) and at an autograph session, we explained the situation to Marty. He was quite touched by the whole story.

With the letter, we also enclosed a picture of my grandmother and uncle at Ariel's Grotto in Disney California Adventure, to more adequately put a face to a name, along with my mother's business card, just in case.

My mother and myself with Marty after
presenting him with the letter regarding his father.

It proved to be a smart move.  A few weeks later, my mother received a letter at work - from Marty Sklar.  It was addressed to my grandmother and great-uncle, thanking them for their memories of his father.  To those who don't know, the Sklars are a very learned family.  In fact, Marty called himself the Black Sheep of the family, being the only member (including his daughter) who isn't in academia.

Well, Sir, I beg to differ.  He has taught a generation of Imagineers how to bring magic to millions of people all over the world. And, as a retiree, he teaches us the history of how all that happened.  Now, if you're reading a Disney blog, you're obviously already a fan, so I don't need to convince you.  But, to those who don't think Disney is important...then I ask why it has survived? Because it's meaningful...and anything meaningful has something to say, to teach.  Marty Sklar has and continues to do his part in teaching us all through theme park experiences.

What does this all have to do with Sunday at Walt's Barn? Well, we finally had an opportunity for my uncle and grandmother to meet Marty.  Up to this point, only my mother and I had met Marty.

It was actually a really nice day, weather-wise. I don't know that I have much more to say, I feel the pictures truly to speak 1,000 words and more as to the kind of moment, the kind of connection this was for all three.  Marty, my Uncle, and my Grandmother.

I can report Marty did say how emotional this moment made him, and I can imagine so. My family, as his seems to be, is very close, and to have someone you love brought back to you in such a way.... The Chinese believe that people are connected by an invisible thread, no matter how far apart they are physically.  The thread Leon Sklar left his son, Marty, and to my Uncle Manny, met again on Sunday in the shadow of Walt Disney's Barn. It's the kind of story I believe Walt would have liked.

The Golden moment my Uncle and Mr. Sklar finally meet.

Now, since we were here to see Marty, I don't have much to report on the Barn just yet.  I plan to come back on another one of the Sundays it's open to get a better look. (Also, my camera was not cooperating with me. Frustration and heat are a bad mix.)

Marty signed his own autograph next to his father's in my Uncle's  yearbook.
Two autographs 50 years apart from one family. 

It was, still, such an important experience to see and go into the barn.  It really anchors you to the man behind the empire.  Just a guy, like any other man of his time, with a hobby.  One of the things that continues to cement his legacy is the fact that Walt was just an ordinary man, who did extraordinary things.  Exhibits like Walt's Barn are wonderful examples.  I hope non-Disney geeks also take the time to see the Barn and all its treasures, including artifacts from Disney artists Ollie Johnston and Ward Kimball.  It really causes my heart to swell, to see the fun and hobby activities that enabled these fine men to do the incredible work they did.

Here are a few pictures, as I said, just for a taste.  I will certainly be coming back for another experience at Walt's Barn, located in Griffith Park.

OK, so in the next couple of weeks, I'll be posting a review of Pete's Dragon (finally!) and a nice little tribute to the 60th.
The Barn itself.  Breathe it in.

Walt's own railroad coveralls.

Everyone have a great week, and remember to #SavetheTower!

This is actually from Ollie Johnston's backyard railroad. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Frolics with Fred: #ThrowbackThursday to the Walt Disney Family Museum

Hello, Disney geeks!

Since it's Thursday, I thought I'd throw it back for you.  A couple of years ago (on Labor Day weekend), Mariah, her mom and I went to San Francisco to the Walt Disney Family Museum to see the Mary Blair exhibit. I think Mary would have liked drawing me, I'm so darn cute.

Here I am in front of the museum. Pretty nice, huh? I'd love to go back...I should really bug Mariah about that. She can't resist my cute little face, either.

Anyone wanna see my friend I met inside the exhibit? If I get a few comments, I might be so obliged!

Have a good Labor Day weekend, everyone!

Love, Fred

P.S. Here is the link to the Walt Disney Family Museum Mariah and I encourage you to check it out. It's a once in a lifetime experience!