In my (almost) annual post about Beloit College’s Mindset List, I called attention to an item suggesting that today’s college freshmen don’t have an instinct to look at their wrist to tell time in the same way that, er…, those of us “of a certain age” still do. This prompted my blogging buddy, Jason Bennion, and I to start a small discussion about cool wristwatches, in which I mentioned my custom-made Mickey Mouse watch. Jason said the story sounded “intriguing,” and well, as anyone who’s ever read this blog knows, I don’t need too much of an incentive to tell a story.
So, here goes: the story of my watch. First, let us take a moment to pray that the copyright gods are dealing with something much more important (like whether or not Wikipedia can display the FBI’s seal?) OK, let’s go…
So what have we learned from this trip? That depsite being “The Most Magical Place on Earth,” Disney does not actually control the weather in Orlando, Florida (or, as my friend Adam posited, they do control the weather, but turned the thermostat down two weeks ago so they could restock all their ice cream fridges without running out). Also, we learned that if Mickey does, indeed, have teeth, they don’t chatter. And finally, the University of Pennsylvania Band can play in the cold, the wind and the rain – even simultaneously!
How cold was it? This cold:
Click on the frosted mouse ears above (or click here) to see 57 of the 400 pictures I took over six days. And be thankful I spared you all the video…
See ya’ real soon!
Say what you want about the recession, but it’s bringing back nudity at Disneyland:
Disney parks stop scans for topless riders
May 5, 2009
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Disney says it will no longer scan riders on Splash Mountain and three other rides for guests who feel the need to flash their breasts for souvenir photos.
Disney confirmed Tuesday that it has reassigned employees at Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure who watched for breast-baring riders because “actual inappropriate behaviors by guests are rare.”
Disneyland spokeswoman Suzi Brown says the changes took effect Sunday at Splash Mountain, Tower of Terror, Space Mountain and California Screamin’.
Riders are photographed on the attractions and can then buy souvenir copies. Some have exposed their breasts in hopes that the picture would make it onto a photo preview screen at the ride’s exit.
The company began the screening about 10 years ago.
OK, one more Disney post and then I’ll stop – I promise.
This one is courtesy of a side conversation with some of the Disney Wonder’s fantastic crew staff. It’s the Top Ten Crazy Things People Say on Cruise Ships. All, I am assured, are true stories:
10. Do these stairs go up?
9. Will this elevator take me to the front of the ship?
8. [While viewing the hundreds of photos the crew staff takes of you during the cruise and then tries to sell you later] How do I know which pictures are mine?
7. Does the crew staff live on-board the ship?
6. [When a chronic complainer who asked #7 was told that no, in fact, a helicopter picks them up every night at 1AM and they commute] I’d like to register a complaint – the helicopter that picked the crew up last night at 1AM made so much noise, it woke me up.
5. [Right after boarding the ship and going to his stateroom, but before the ship left port] I’d like my money back. I asked for a room with a “Sea View,” and when I go out on my veranda, all I can see is the parking lot!
4. [on Castaway Cay, Disney's private island] Will this tram take me to the Animal Kingdom Park? [n.b., Animal Kingdom is one of the parks in Disney World - in Orlando, Florida].
3. Disney really should have told me there was no casino on board – I’m very disappointed.
**Numbers 2 and 1 redacted because they are too dumb to mention here…
(Actually, I only had eight, but who ever heard of a “Top Eight” list? Damn Letterman…)
Better late than never, I always say. Here is The University of Pennsylvania Band (including yours truly) performing at Walt Disney World in January of 2008.
The MST3K-like commentary is from a fellow band alum and her family.
The family and I returned to The Disney Wonder for the fourth time in as many years. This time, we had an extra day in Florida, so we also added a tour of the John F. Kennedy Space Center. I’ll post a full review of the trip at a later point (I realize now that I’ve discussed the parks in these pages, but never the cruise!), but for now, click on Mickey’s face for a photo tour!
NOTE: When the slideshow loads, don’t forget to click “Show Info” in the upper right corner of the screen to read the captions I’ve written. It’ll help explain what you’re looking at.
The family and I have just returned from our third trip to Disneyworld in three years, which I guess earns us some points on the Disney expert meter. To be sure, our family’s approach to The Magic Kingdom is much like the U.S. Army – we do more before 10AM than most people do all day.
This time around, though, we travelled with the University of Pennsylvania Band on a performance trip, which meant we got to hang out with some folks who were not as obsessed experienced with Disneyworld as we were. Their reaction to how we approached the park made me think, hey – maybe this information could be useful to the public at large.
And so a blog post was born. And so: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, presenting your guide to getting around the Magic Kingdom, Greenberg style!
1) Get there before the park opens
There’s a cute show when the park opens that involves Mickey and all his pals riding the steam train from Toontown to sprinkle magic pixie dust on the crowd, which opens the Magic Kingdom for the day. I believe it’s worth seeing (both for kids and adults) and besides, if you want to conquer the park quickly, you’re going to need all the time you can get.
2) Don’t Follow the Crowd
When the pixie dust flies and the doors open, just about everyone is going to run for the stroller rental or to Main Street USA for pictures of the castle, etc. This path leads to the dark side, my young apprentice. Instead, proceed directly to It’s a Small World, which is in Fantasyland, directly behind Cinderella’s castle. Important point here: you’ll need to walk down Main Street USA and around the castle itself to get there. Resist the urge to stop and take pictures of all the cool sights, even though everyone around you is doing it. You’ll have time for that later, and trust me – they’ll all look the same when you do.
3) Ride the Big Rides
If you make it through the gauntlet that is Main Street USA, you will likely be the first ones to reach It’s a Small World. Run through the empty, snake-line gates, reveling in your cleverness, and get in the first boat. Enjoy the ride! When you get out, proceed directly to Peter Pan’s Flight, which is right across the path from Small World. Again, there will be no line at all. Enjoy Peter and the gang as well.
Now you’re on a roll. Hang a left out of Peter Pan and follow the path around to the Haunted Mansion. By now, there may be a couple of families on line with you. Chuckle at what is the longest line you’ve seen so far today, and proceed directly into the mansion (recently redone and beautiful, by the way). After that, it’s a bit of a walk to the Pirates of the Caribbean (also recently redone – now with extra Jack Sparrow!). At Pirates, there will certainly be other people, but no line big enough to make you wait. Once again, enjoy the ride! When you get out, proceed rapidly through the gift shop and marvel at how they place the merchandise in precisely the right place to make the kids scream, “I want one! I want one!” Deflect their cries with talk of the Jungle Cruise (the “punniest” cruise on earth). This isn’t as big a ride as the others, but the line can get long if you wait to do it, so best to get it done early.
4) Pick Your Tier-2 Selection
By now, you’ve been in the park about an hour, and you’ve already experienced most of what people can wait hours in line to see. Take a minute to pat yourself on the back. Then, put on your thinking ears, because you’ve got some choices to make. There are two more sets of rides that can get crowded, and you have to decide which you want to approach first.
The first set is back in Fantasyland, and includes Dumbo the Flying Elephant, The Mad Tea Party (a.k.a., the Teacups), Mickey’s PhilharMagic (the best 3-D show in the park), The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Ariel’s Grotto (autograph opportunity with Ariel and a fun jumping fountain for the kids – but no ride), and while you’re there, Cinderella’s Carousel (this one’s a fast moving line at any time of the day, so no big rush).
The second set is in Tomorrowland, and includes Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (a shoot-em-up video game incorporated into a ride – see who in your family gets the high score!), the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway, and the Astro Orbiter.
Pick the set you like best and cover those rides, and then move on to the other set. You’ll probably have to break for lunch at some point during the second set, but at least you had a productive morning!
5) Mop Up the Remaining Rides
After that, you have just a few more things to do, which you can spend the afternoon on. The biggest items on the list are in Frontierland – Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This might be the first time during the day you’ll need to use your Fast Pass (get a pass for one and wait on the line for the other).
After that, you’ve basically got the smaller rides left, so you can pick and choose to your own taste. None of them should have super long lines, so despite the crowds, you should find yourself moving at a pretty good pace throughout the day.
So, there you go. The Magic Kingdom in one, whirlwind day (OK, maybe two – it depends how much time you spend in each place). Pass the word along, but not to too many people – we don’t want them ruining our method, after all.
And remember, have a magical day!
From Jeff Porten via e-mail:
Tweety, Donald Duck Summoned to Court
An Italian court ordered [Tweety Bird], along with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and his girlfriend Daisy, to testify in a counterfeiting case.
In what lawyers believe was a clerical error worthy of a Looney Tunes cartoon, a court in Naples sent a summons to the characters ordering them to appear Friday in a trial in the southern Italian city, officials said.
Instead of naming only the companies and their legal representatives, clerks also wrote in the witness list the names of the cartoons that decorated the toys and gadgets the man had reproduced, said Fiorenza Sorotto, vice president of Disney Company Italia.
The Naples court will have to rewrite the summons, although this will probably delay the trial, said Disney lawyer Cristina Ravelli.
Ya know, first the baseball players are all on steroids, then the pop singers are going to jail for DUI, and now Mickey & Donald are found counterfeiting. What’s a kid to do for heroes these days?
Personally, I think I’m going to steer my kids away from Italian Court Clerks…
I’ve been to Disneyworld with my wife and two kids twice in the last two years, and have written quite extensively about it online. Until now, I’ve felt pretty good about my online representation of these trips, but now I’m reading what Lileks’ is writing about his trip (it starts here and continues throughout the week. Just keeping clicking “Next.”)
Here’s how a professional writer expresses exactly what I was feeling, but with such eloquence and wit as to make me want to give up writing anything ever again:
Having spent four days in the realm of the Mouse, you could cut my wrists and I’d bleed Disney Kool-Aid. Because that’s how much I drank. [...]
It’s clean. It’s so clean and perfect you wonder why everything doesn’t look like this. But why is it clean? . . . Why can’t we have cities that look like this, and theme parks full of urban grot for the people who want that authentic experience that graffiti-slathered-metal-shutters represent? [...]
The park isn’t open, so we join the throng of hardcores and neophytes, waiting for . . . what? The answer comes in a few minutes: a train, an actual steam train, appears above, with all the Beloved Licensed and Trademarked Characters leaning out and waving. Including Cindyrelly! A welcome song is sung; everyone waves back (including me, I note – I haven’t even set foot in the place yet and I’m almost weeping at the sight of Goofy.) The music! The architecture! The trains! From the very first moment, it’s like a live wire jammed into your Disney Lobe, a part of your brain that’s been rewiring since you were very small, just so it could release endorphins at this very moment. All that’s missing is Disney himself in a white robe and sandals, carrying a lamb, projected against the sky. If they’d done that I would have bloodied my knees. [...]
The breakfast? The best hotel breakfast ever. They don’t take your order. There’s no point in taking your order, because they know what you want so they might as well bring it. You get a big plate of eggs, bacon, potatoes and sausages, plus tiny Belgian waffles shaped like you-know-who. This is what it means to be an American: pouring syrup on Mickey’s head and eating him. It’s secular communion. [...]
Disney employees seem to come in two flavors: there are those [who] are working . . . for Disney. Whatever. Then there are those who are WORKING for DISNEY! And they just beam because they are having the best day at the best job in the best place ever. There might be some people like that at Microsoft, and grew up with a Bill Gates doll they took everywhere, but they’re few. [...]
Oy. Wow. Yes. Yes, indeed.
Oh, man – this is absolutely pitch perfect. I wish I had the words to express how precisely this encapsulates the feeling of being there. But, of course, if I could do that, I’d have written them myself in the first place. Sigh…
If you’re considering going to Disney (or if you’ve ever been), I implore you to read the whole thing. Then, when you’re done, click over to my pages and laugh at the relative incompetence – my ego needs the pageviews!
Disney is in serious talks to buy Pixar, in a deal that would make Steve Jobs a Disney board member, and the largest single shareholder of the company.
If it happens, I think the first thing he’d do is turn Mickey into a one-button mouse:
Much more user-friendly, no?