Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Train Runs Through It

About 10 years ago, the miniature train garden in Germany was originally included as a special addition for the Flower and Garden Festival, but it proved so popular with guests that it remained as a permanent fixture. A miniature Bavarian village is created in wonderful detail, complete with gardens, waterfalls, and a country fair. Even in decorating the tiny town, the designers did not lose sight of the area's true roots, and decked out the buildings with their own little Flower and Garden banners.

C'est Magnifique!

I wanted to make just an ever-so-brief detour from my normal postings to offer my humblest recommendation for another triumph from the Pixar Studios.

After having just returned from viewing this delightful movie for the second time, I am still in awe of Ratatouille. I had been looking forward to this film for quite some time, and my expectations were not disappointed in the slightest.

Brad Bird and his team of extremely talented artists have crafted a movie that is so well-executed that one can not help but feel the urge to stand up and cheer when the credits start to roll. I think a lot of animation fans (including myself) have recently been feeling a bit like food critic Anton Ego, a little dismayed with the latest offerings in the animated world. But like the dish for which the movie is named after, Ratatouille has taken a simple, well-loved recipe and reinvented it for a new generation, one which has grown up watching those animated classics of yesteryear. Combining everything from slapstick comedy to heartfelt romance, this dish is something to savor and enjoy. I hope everyone gets a chance to enjoy this exceptional film. It is very reassuring to know that the art form of animation is far from lost. It's all in the details.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Face Emerges

I just can't stay away from the wonderful wackiness of the Muppets. The Stage 1 Company Store building that houses the Muppets gift shop has always been a favorite of mine for its amazing collection of eye candy both inside and outside.

Interestingly enough, the side that faces Mama Melrose bears an excellent resemblance to the top of the Paramount Building in Times Square, right down to the globe and large clock. Of course, this version has been given the complete Muppet makeover, thereby converting the old globe into an unmistakeable impression of a certain Mr. Bunsen Honeydew.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tight Security

Near the entrance to the Backlot Express quick service restaurant, there is a small gatehouse, much like what you would normally expect to see on any typical movie studio lot.

It seems so unassuming from the outside, and most guests pass by it without a second thought. However, there is a clever little story being told inside that warrants a peek through its windows. It appears as though the guard who normally works this position is an aspiring actor him (or her) self.

There's the usual items that you would expect to see, such as a computer, a phone, and that very important mug of coffee (which reads "#1 Security Guard). But there are also a couple of acting awards and a few acting books: one propped up against the computer which seems to be in regards to the audition process, and my personal favorite - a book left sitting on the chair entitled "Acting: In Person and In Style."

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Crate Idea

Near Min and Bill's Dockside Diner at Disney/MGM Studios, there is a pile of crates. As in Disney's way to leave no area un-themed, these crates have been painted with fictional addresses for movie characters.

This one references Citizen Kane (which just recently maintained its #1 position on the AFI's Top 100 Films List) and cleverly includes a destination to the Rosebud Sled Company.

Another crate is dedicated to that staple of the holiday season, It's a Wonderful Life, with a Ship To address for George Bailey himself.

And the third crate is heading to Scarlett O'Hara's plantation in Gone With the Wind. Another dress, I suppose?

And while I normally do not like to reference details that have been lost over time, I just had to include a couple of photos of another crate that has unfortunately disappeared in the last few months. It includes a reference to a fantastic Mel Brooks movie, and my all-time favorite Broadway show, The Producers. Hopefully it will make a reappearance soon.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

We're Three Happy Chappies with Snappy Serapes

I quite enjoy the new Gran Fiesta Tour at the Mexico pavilion. I have always loved The Three Caballeros and Saludos Amigos, and this ride is a great tribute to those movies of the 1940s. The amount of care that the Imagineers put into being faithful to the original films is just outstanding, even down to the appearance of the Aracuan Bird in one of the scenes.

There are a lot of great details to be found in this ride, which warrants multiple ride-throughs. One of my favorite little extras is in the Papel Picado banners strung about the queue and ride. Papel Picado (which translates to "punched paper") banners are traditional folk art found throughout Mexico. They are used during celebrations to make announcements or share messages. It seems the folks celebrating the arrival of the Three Caballeros wanted to share the news of the concert using this beautiful art form.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Fire Chief

While wandering Fantasyland, I came across a water barrel located at the exit of Peter Pan's Flight. Amused by its inscription's connection to the ride, I snapped a photo of it and went on my way. I later became quite curious about the identity of the Fire Chief, W. Ray Colburn, because as we all know, it is a rare occasion when a name is used that does not have some sort of humorous, or real-life, component to it.

After some searching, I came across a listing of Reedy Creek Improvement District's departments. I was quite amused to discover that the name of the mananger in charge of Emergency Services (which in part takes care of the Fire Prevention Division) is none other than a Mr. Ray Colburn.

They've done it again!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Change in the Wind

Located atop Peter Pan's Flight are two very detailed, and very fun, weather vanes. While not only adding to the picturesque theming of the area, they also create a little bit of foreshadowing for the ride itself.

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Peek in the Window

Over at House #22 in Liberty Square, there's a little surprise waiting for those who happen to peek in the window. It seems a little girl left her doll behind for unsuspecting guests to find.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Intricate Carvings

Located just off the bridge into Asia, there is a small building known as Drinkwallah. It serves mostly drinks and sandwiches, and is certainly not a major stop while touring the park. However, just like most of the buildings in Animal Kingdom, it is covered in gorgeous artwork. In this case, the side of the building is decorated with very intricate carved wood. It is something that you would find on fine furniture or even a museum, but certainly something you would not expect to find at a quick service drink stand!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A Place to Rest

A bench at Walt Disney World seems like such a simple concept - just a place to rest before heading to the next attraction. Yet no detail is ever overlooked by the Imagineers. I took a trip around World Showcase, photographing each bench (garnering a few curious looks in the process - you would think I would be used to it by now!). What follows is an assemblage of 11 different cultures set in metal, concrete and wood.

We begin in Mexico, with dark wood and ornate, heavy metal.

Norway's design features an airy back with thin vertical bars in metal outlined in a stained wood. It complements nicely with the surrounding architecture.

China's bench is a very distinct constrast to the previous two countries, with a heavy, yet still graceful, concrete seat.

Visions of the Black Forest and the decorative Bavarian architecture spring to mind with the design of Germany's bench.

Italy has two designs, but both equally capture the elegance of the architecture. The concrete bench has a very ancient Roman feeling to it.

The benches of the American Adventure are very colonial in style, like something you would find in Williamsburg. Yet they also have the quaintness of something you would find in a park today.

Similar to China, Japan's bench is also backless, but the curved motif is more prominent here.

Morocco's design echoes the great decorative elements found in the tile work.

Parisian flare finds its way into the simplistic elegance of France's bench design.

The bench at the United Kingdom is very simple in its design, but the heavy wood is a great accent to the rich brick buildings around it.

A very rustic flair is found in the benches at Canada.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

A Salute to All Nations, but Mostly America

I'm going to wrap up my coverage of the MuppetVision queue (for now at least!) with a mixture of some more fun signs.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Getting From Here to There

Continuing a look at the queue of MuppetVision 3D, we'll take a look at the clever walk from here to there. Only the Muppets could take such a mundane task and make it seem so climatic.