Sunday, January 24, 2010

Gang Violence No Disney Deterrent

Tomorrow is another day to do Disney (Blame cabin fever from the cold, work schedules, and the occasional race training for the delay!) this month, and it's going to be very certain that it's turismo-laden! I checked the weather reports and it will boast showers on the AM, but will clear up by the afternoon, with a high of 69 degrees. It's just like I dreamed about - last night of course.

Yes, I dreamed of where I was heading tomorrow - Disney's Hollywood Studios - and the dream opened with me riding an indoor soapbox derby/dark-ride hybrid based on a fictitious cartoon series Beanz. I headed out of the door and saw a turismo and saw a couple more as I walked to Muetti (they were all Brazilian tour groups). I told her that I'm heading to Toy Story Midway Mania and headed off, dodging the flagged groups.

That Disney dream turned into a real-life nightmare as I walked to a construction site adjacent to the attractions. I saw a couple of young men in bandannas and tanks talking trash, and I knew it was a gang. I eavesdropped on them as one of them dropped a sandbag. People walked by them, but they grabbed them and dragged them to their hangout. One of them slit a senior citizen's forehead and bored a wound on her head because of her mindless answers to his questions. Blood streamed all over her as she wept in vain. Other members of the gang did so likewise to five more people, and all six bloody victims bawled and placed their heads down as other people (few clutching balloons) watched the scene in disbelief.

Scenes like that happen in real life, but very rarely (close to zero) at Walt Disney World. Whether I'm victimized by that nightmare or not, I'm still doing Disney. Tomorrow will see the turismos, but there will be no brutal street gangs with knives that slit innocent people.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Disney Too, Has A Part in Tonight's Telethon

As you probably know, the Hope For Haiti Telethon is tonight at 8 PM ET. Well, that opens the playing field for the Walt Disney World, and as the Disney VoluntEARS, its Cast Members opened a donation center at the Disney Reservations Center in Orlando. If you are watching tonight's telethon, feel free to donate by phone or online during that time and support those who are lost in the ruins of one of the poorest nations, when most family members, co-workers, and know people of many who work on the Vacation Kingdom live.

If you had seen the telethon, feel free to give me your opinion on it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

RIP, RC



Ahhhh, River Country - it was one of the oldest water parks here in America (not to mention a part of the Fort Wilderness Resort), but sadly since 2001, the river there was all but swampy and overgrown. Even sadder, I never had the chance to see what the ol' swimmin' hole looked like back in my childhood in the 90's, the final years of the place. Since 1976, when rustic themes created laid-back atmospheres in many homes and when we were 200 years old, the country-style recreation center had entertained many who passed its gates and tried the T-bar swings or the rock slides. In moving pictures, it became a staple feature in resort information channels, vacation videos, and Mickey's Fun Songs (yes, Mickey's Fun Songs, when Mickey, his peeps, and the camping children have fun at that park as they sing "By the Beautiful Sea").

So why did it close permanently? According to Walt Dated World, River Country was the stepping stone in the conception of two current water parks - Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Because most of the water was unheated, it was a seasonally operating park, and the rising admissions and the newer water parks were to blame. Also, another nail in the coffin was the Mournful Morning (September 11, 2001), which resulted in waning attendance. Because the main swimming hole had water from Bay Lake, the alleged contamination from bacteria also shut it down for good. River Country became an abandoned Disney attraction, with weeds and vegetation growing all over the place.





If you want a bit of a compare and contrast of the water park at present, please take a gander of the 2-part entry of the Imagineering Disney Blog (see link below). Pull out a Kleenex, see the post, and weep - those photos are much sadder than a funeral.

http://www.imagineeringdisney.com/blog/2009/12/19/abandoned-disney-river-country-part-1.html

http://www.imagineeringdisney.com/blog/2010/1/3/abandoned-disney-river-country-part-2.html

Monday, January 18, 2010

Why the Bandeira and Not the Mouse Ears?

I know, I know - the typical Disneyphile or former Cast Member would put images that are clearly Disney on his or her own blog, but apart from copyright infringement fears, it's very banal to my liking. Deb, of AllEars.Net, has its logo depict a plane leaving a trail of blue pixie dust over a cruise ship (depicting Disney Cruise Line), yet the site is very popular. That was my secondary inspiration of branding this blog.

But what about the first? Well, when I think of Walt Disney World, I think of turismos winding their way through the parks in chant - with their matching luggage and/or shirts and adults with flags - and the flags that describe them helped me decide on my logo, seen on the header and as a logo for my Blog Carnival. The sidebar background graphics have a hint of Disney, too, because the muted prints are in pastel shades of lagoon blue, seafoam green, pumpkin orange, and lavender (they're the official colors of Walt Disney World). I'm pretty content with the design of the blog - very Disney without it being too blatantly Disney.

For more on why I designed this blog, see my article, Branding a Disneyphile’s Blog.

The Flexible Disney Carnival

Well, as a lot of us try to lose weight for the upcoming swimsuit (or in Disneyphile perspective, Mickey) season, I created The Flexible Disney Carnival, courtesy of Blog Carnival! Before you submit to the carnival, there are some rules here - keep it family-friendly and only mention the other Central Florida theme parks in accommodation transportation, comparisons of attractions and entertainment, or vacation that include them as well as (I'm boldfacing it for emphasis here, Disneyphiles!) at least one of the quartet of Disney Parks at the Vacation Kingdom.

Of course, there's two upcoming Blog Carnival editions I created - the one where those who volunteered during the Give A Day, Get A Disney Day campaign can blog on how they spent their free ticket (with donation as an exception) at the parks and how those who did Disney, several times or the very first time, spent summer there! The summer memories carnival will be hosted on February 14 through July 4 and the Free Voucher carnival will be hosted Wednesday through December 25. That leaves plenty of time to ruminate on those Disney memories! Oh, and be sure to check out my Blog Carnival widget on the sidebar!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sorry for the Break in the Blog

I recently wrote this touching quatrain from a Haitian's eyes when she witnessed the 7.0 earthquake in her homeland, and of course, the event that occurred in the poem actually happened two days ago. My poem from a Catholic's point of view is named, "Impoverished Again," and the title tells us that the temblor, besides raising fears of an over 100,000 death toll, had made the homeland's residents even poorer in material and worth. Yes, they may be hungry, but they put their faith in God and intercede the Our Lady of Perpetual Help in the poem.

Disney is no stranger to humanitarian aid - they donated $100,000 dollars to the Red Cross. You too, fellow Disneyphiles, can do the same - allocate your money and prayers to the herd of needy in Haiti through your charity of choice. For you, my Catholic peeps, you can donate through Catholic Relief Services either online at www.crs.org, mail, or your parish special collections.

This is the Whiz Kid Forte, and my thoughts and prayers go out to those who have weathered and are struggling and who have perished in Haiti.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Carnival! Carnival!

Yessiree! It's Carnival season, and people are scrambling for costumes to wear at their masquerades, booking trips to Rio, or buying high-caloric king cakes (either for a party or because they claimed the trinkets embedded in their slices). What better way to celebrate the season than providing you fellow Disneyphiles with a relic of the past?

This was my first non-seasonal Disney parade I had seen at age 2, back in the family vacation during Winter Break 1991. Needless to say, that was my first trip to the Vacation Kingdom. Everything was good back then - the snazzy 70's Walt Disney World logo (with that Mickey globe - pure genius), the time before Disney's Animal Kingdom was built, character revues that have semi-live music, and of course, the presence of Roger Rabbit (yes, Roger Rabbit) in the roster of characters, just to name a few that I've missed. To make things more juiced up, the Vacation Kingdom celebrated its 20th anniversary, and the daily parade echoes the pre-Lenten revels celebrated worldwide - that samba-flavored Rio carnivals in Brazil, the Junkanoos of the Caribbean, the Carnivals of Venice (masks and fancy dresses included), and of course, Mardi Gras in the Southeast, particularly around New Orleans and the Mississippi River Delta region. It also sports falloons (the floats with cold-air balloons attached to them) in the likes of the Disney Characters in crazy costumes - Mickey (in his Venetian king rainment), Goofy (in his Hawaiian shirt and blue pants with a purple banana leaf pattern), Pluto (with maracas), Donald (with a samba blouse and a conga drum), Minnie (in a Carmen Miranda-esque costume), and the aforementioned Roger Rabbit (in a jester hat). Most of those floats are reminiscent of the parade's forerunner at Disneyland, used in its 35th anniversary a year before its debut, Party Gras (not to confuse you with that video with Samuel Wright's concert under that same name), because as Jim Hill noted, the Vacation Kingdom spent a large money on the now-playing (albeit with the Genie of the Lamp from Aladdin as conductor) Spectromagic, causing them to rehab them to create a new daytime parade (and purchase a new falloon as well). With rehabbed floats, new music, and a carnival atmosphere, the resort birthed the Surprise Celebration Parade.

Of course, it had ended its run in June 1994, but that memory of seeing it even in toddler stage is ingrained in my mind. I bring you the video footage of a childhood memory (albeit a rainy day version, sans the stilts and the chants of "stamp those feet" as the walkers danced), filmed by a Disneyphile back in 1992. May the spirit of Carnival live!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Frigid for Fantasy? Good News Ahead!

I for one don't do Disney in >59-degree weather, and right now, it's too darn chilly to see Eeyore! I'm glad that you survived doing it at this time and in the past few days (especially for those of you who ran in the WDW marathon events this past weekend and spectated it) - taking advantage of the indoor attractions, drinking warm fluids, and so on. According to weather.com, which has a forecast for the Walt Disney World Resort (Huzzah!), the temperatures will reach the 70's over the weekend. That makes it for great Disney weather, but I'm not doing Magic Kingdom on those days. I'm starting off at Disney's Hollywood Studios, deeming that it's too darn cold to ride Splash Mountain (Thankfully it's in refurbishment until the 27th next month!) in the other park mentioned and many rides are indoors! Oh, and I will be catching up with my frenemies, the turismos this weekend! Sure, they may be antagonists because they chant and make headaches, but I just developed a natural acquired immunity to them. Bring on the chanting and carrying on, Brazilian tour groups and Argentinean youth herds - here comes the Whiz Kid Forte!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Play It Again, Bastos and Tix to UO

As you have probably heard, fellow Disneyphiles, the Brazilian running superstar Adriano Bastos won his seventh title despite a very nippy Walt Disney World Marathon yesterday. He was more than merely 30 seconds ahead of fellow Brazilian Fredison Costa, making one of the narrowest victories in the history of the most prominent Disney race. This year's marathon was a gauntlet the size of Walt Disney World itself, and the frigid temperatures are the brunt of it. Japanese Disney race queen Lisa Mitzuani was ahead of all the female participants in the race.

Recently, Muetti and I bought our Power Passes to Universal Orlando (comprising Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure), the rival of Walt Disney World. I know what you're thinking - I'm bashing Disney. Take this to heart, you guys! I went to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay last year, SeaWorld years ago, and Universal Studios Florida (for its Halloween Horror Nights) in '08 and I still do Disney! Sheesh, give me a smacking break, guys!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

In the Snow-Ho-Ho OH NO!!!



You heard me, fellow Disneyphiles - it will be snowing (flurries) at Walt Disney World tomorrow! What's more, the annual WDW Marathon will be right smack-dab in the wintry weather to come! For those who are heading out to the four theme parks, either go to one where indoor rides comprise huge areas of clusters (Epcot is the best park to visit in nippy weather, followed closely by Disney's Hollywood Studios.) or hunker down at home (or hotel or resort, if traveling or vacationing to or at Walt Disney World) and be prepared for cabin fever. For me, I'm doing Option B.

Let me remind you again, everyone who does Disney in the cold - layers are the thing and you should take this to heart and bundle up!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

To Freeze at Disney

Florida, which is famous for warm-to-hot days, is no stranger to cold weather, and Walt Disney World is an example of places where you can freeze your buldets. I read an article by Robert Niles on Theme Park Insider, in which I am a member, on how cold weather affects certain rides, and told me and other fellow members of the hassles of working at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at the Magic Kingdom in 1990, when a cold snap gripped the park, causing a technical shutdown. I'm lucky (and a bit disappointed) that I didn't get to do Walt Disney World at that time, but that spares my sanity from my frenemies, the turismos (aka Argentinean youth herds and Brazilian tour groups).

The cold weather, mostly with freezing lows, is going to affect the ongoing Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend soirees and festivities, and the race director makes it clear to all participants (that includes a few of you, give or take) - dress warmly in layers, bring gloves and hats, and warm up properly. The layers, gloves and hats apply also to those heading to Walt Disney World during the weekend. I would suggest that Guests take advantage of dry, indoor attractions (I will be likely at Disney's Hollywood Studios or even Epcot, where a bulk of the attractions are indoors.) and grab a hot drink.

So, do you still do Disney in spite of chilly weather? If you are doing so, how do you prepare yourself? If you did, how did you experience and/or manage your day?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Epiphany of Volunteerism

I provide you with a double feature for all you Disneyphiles - my long-overdue slideshow of my day in the middle of that Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade filming at the Magic Kingdom, which was very hectic! When I came home from Mass the day it went on, I didn't see myself, sparing me from whatever embarassment arose.




Oh, and here's a message, from the famous Muppets, for those of you who resolve to help others this year!



Happy Epiphany, everyone!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Planning Another Disney Day

I will be likely doing Disney this month. I know what you're thinking - it's a less crowded one but there's bound to be oodles of turismos. Maybe during the weekend, I'll likely be at Disney's Hollywood Studios, business as usual, because the Magic Kingdom will be just as hokey as the day I went there when ABC taped that blasted Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade. Here's another reason why the most visited Disney park will be busy - the annual Walt Disney World Marathon will make things worse crowdwise.

So what's a Disneyphile going to do when he or she is not a participant? Follow your touring plans, arrive at the parks early, take frequent breaks, and use FASTPASS. If you're doing parks outside the Magic Kingdom, take advantage of the single rider queues.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Disney Characters 101

Foolin Around

To me, a day at Disney without seeing their world-class Atmosphere Characters representative of movies, cartoon shorts, and other media of their respective company is like forgoing the Eucharist in a Sunday Mass. At one trip to Disney's Hollywood Studios, I saw four characters and they are from Pixar films to boot. No stand-by queue experience on Toy Story Midway Mania is complete without seeing another building with a window showing the action figures Buzz Lightyear and Woody, only they are much bigger and more mobile and animated. That's what I like seeing in those childhood figures being brought to life by Disney magic.

There are two types of Characters - face and fur. Face characters bear less burdens and are forgiving; they have their own faces dolled up in just makeup and wear less restricting (but hot in some cases) garments. Examples of them include the girls' fan favorite Disney Princesses, like Mulan and the more recent Tiana. Fur Characters are Disney's beasts of burden - they wear costumes mostly weighing 25 pounds or more, wear a mask or helmet fashioned after the Character portrayed, and suffer the Florida heat longer. As personal experience has it, not all fur Characters are anthropomorphic animals (like Piglet) - while Woody, Buzz, and Russell are humanoid in a cartoonish way by Pixar, they are still classified as such since they have to depict themselves in character by wearing helmets fashioned after their noggins. Unlike face characters, they tend to intimidate young children at first sight, and the video shows how overwhelming a child's first glance at them can be.


Child: Hi, Eeyore!
(Child in stool screams)

So, where are the Disney Characters located? They can be seen in scheduled greeting spots, in places designated specifically for them on set locations, select meals (reservations strongly suggested), parades, stage shows, and somewhere unexpected in the Parks and Resorts not marked by the glove signs. Characters relevant to the attraction (or in Epcot's case, World Showcase pavillion) can be seen in nearby areas, like the area adjacent to Pooh's Playful Spot across from The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, where Pooh himself meets. If you want to see a member of the newer crowd or somebody long not seen, check out Guest Relations and a Cast Member would pinpoint the character's whereabouts for you.

When they are in full force, remove the caps from the pens, open the autograph books and turn the cameras on! Better yet, be nice to them - I heard from some news sources that fur characters suffer more injuries than their face counterparts. (The incident when Tigger practiced his cross-jab on a teen is a great example.) With my insights about Characters all said and done, I wish you a happy hunting for your favorite Disney peeps!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Community Service and the Year of the Tig(g)er















 Happy New Year from the Whiz Kid Forte!

Readers of Flexible Disney, I am pleased to usher in 2010 with you. If your resolutions for this year include increased community service, then don't be hesitant and don't delay to do so (Yes, it's starting today!) - it might participate in the campaign, "Give A Day, Get A Disney Day." All you have to do is search for a golden opportunity by a participating organization at DisneyParks.com, do the volunteering on the dot on the same day assigned to you, print your voucher you received in your email verifying that you did so, and enjoy a day at Walt Disney World. Those of you with multi-day tickets and/or passes can do the same thing, but you can either donate the ticket to the Boys and Girls clubs or obtain an special Ear Hat Figurine with pins or a special FASTPASS card. Sounds fun, isn't it?

Well, 2010 marks the zodiac year of the Tiger, or should I say, Tigger - and here's a vid of him fooling around with this young, unimpressed Character Breakfast patron.