Disney. Pictures. Stuff. And so on…

Posts tagged ‘Disneyland’

Disney Vanity Plates

The good people over at Chip and Co. posted the question “If you got a specialized Disney car tag, what would it say?”

So, I thought I’d do some searching for Disney vanity plates and here’s what I found. These are used under Creative Commons. Just ask if you want me to take one down.

Do you have one? Share it with us! If not, what would you get??

This one flummoxes me, not sure how you get a heart on your plate.

My favorite

Not strictly Disney, I know

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Camping on Tom Sawyer Island

Another interview that’s been in the can for a while. This is a great one in light of Fantasmic’s 20th anniversary this year.
 

When you ask, sometimes you really do receive. After putting out another call to my fellow university staffers, I found my next interview via her brother-in-law. I met Rosemary Milsap, and her delightful son, at a local coffee shop one brisk but gorgeous day last year. She spent almost 2 hours with me discussing her time with Disney. I learned that we lived in Southern California at same time, living through some earthquakes and the 1992 riots.

Rosemary teaches drama at a local high school (she taught Broadway actor Tituss Burgess!). She shared stories and photos from when she was one of the performers in the first version of Fantasmic back in 1992 at Disneyland in California, plus some great insight into being a Disney performer and what goes in to the audition process. As always, I can’t thank her enough for her time. Enjoy.

Yes, THAT Tituss Burgess…seen here portraying Sebastian in the Broadway version of “The Little Mermaid.”

Tell is about yourself:

I’m Rosemary Milsap, 41, from Augusta, GA. I’ve been in Athens since 1993. I graduated from the University of Georgia in 1991 with a degree in Art History. I since gotten my Masters in social science education. In high school, I decided I wanted to be on Broadway and I’ve always loved the theater.

Let’s talk Disney, tell us some of your favorite things about the parks:

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is my favorite park and Space Mountain for a ride. I loved “Snow White” as a child and “The Lion King” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” now.

Do you have a favorite Disney souvenir?

My Seven Dwarfs figurines. My son has a stuffed Mickey that I love, and I regularly wore a baseball cap I got there for many years. I still have it.

And finally, a favorite Disney food/treat?

This sounds a little strange maybe, but the gluten-free chicken fingers I got at the Columbia Harbour House in the Magic Kingdom. During our first trip to Walt Disney World, I discovered that if you ask, many of the Disney chefs can and will accommodate a variety of food allergies.

 
(Ed’s Note: During my last trip to WDW, I watched a chef at the Rose and Crown discuss cooking options with a family whose child had more than a few food allergies, including preparing the meal with separate cookware. He never batted an eye at the request.)
 

More on Disney and food allergies

Did you ever see a celebrity in the parks?

I don’t recall seeing any, but there were always rumors that a celeb was watching the show (We couldn’t tell as each audience was up to 3,000 people). We performed for a couple of media events when we first opened the show, and we were told we might perform for Micheal Jackson’s birthday. Sometimes, he would rent the park for the night. Memory evades me, but I believe it never happened, if it did he was not present.

But in some ways, Michael was always in the Park…

How long did you work at Disney?

1992 (almost the whole year)

What did you do?

I was a performer in the original cast of the outdoor show Fantasmic at Disneyland; I played a flower petal in the Jungle Book section, a pirate in the Peter Pan section and Doc in the finale section, all within a 1/2 hour show. It was a rush, three times a night. After I saw Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios, I know that some of the lineup has since changed–now it’s Lion King instead of Jungle Book and Pocahontas instead of Peter Pan.

Ed’s Note: I would rather see Peter Pan myself, I’ve never thought the Pocahontas segment really fit with the rest of the show. Hook seems like a better villain than Captain Ratcliffe, who just comes off as annoying.

How did you get the part(s)?

My husband and I were living in North Hollywood in Los Angeles and I needed a job. I saw an ad in the paper for a casting call and it looked like fun. At the time, I thought it was a parade audition. During many of our visits to Disneyland, I’d watch the parade and think, “I can do that.” So, I did.

There were hundreds of people auditioning in a giant sound stage in Orange County, we were there for over 6 hours. Another girl and I were two of the last people to audition. When they called us, we had learned a short dance piece, we both froze in place. They allowed us to start over, which seemed strange considering how fast they were eliminating people. I’ve always thought that if one of us hadn’t froze, they would have asked the other to leave, but as we both did, they started again. They wanted to see how we moved, and grouped us by height. Nothing happened that night, then I got call-back, went in and did more movement. Again nothing. Then, I got a third call, and I was getting a little annoyed, but a girlfriend encouraged me to go down and do it. I did and I was one of the last ones to get a part.

The characters were based on height, and I’m around 5’6”, and Doc is the tallest dwarf, so I was aiming for that. But 5’5” was the cut-off, so when it came to me, I got as short as I could.

We all signed six-month performer contracts. We got to pick our schedule, and I only worked on the weekends since I had a day-job up in Pasadena.

Ed’s Note: For any of you who lived or are living in SoCal, take a second to consider the geography here. Rosemary was driving to Pasadena from North Hollywood during the week, then to Anaheim on the weekends. That, my friends, is a lot of road time. She told me that she wasn’t even coming the farthest on the weekends, performers came from the San Fernando Valley, San Diego and the Inland Empire (San Bernardino).
 

After my six months were up, I signed another contract. But about two months in, my husband and I decided to move back to Georgia, and Disney was very gracious to allow to get out of the contract. I was there around eight months.

Tell us your favorite memory of working there?

Spending nights in the park during the months of rehearsal leading up to the show. In the beginning, we rehearsed on a sound stage, then we moved to park. They were rewriting and adjusting the show as we went based on how the performers moved and how fast they could get around during costume changes. The were VERY concerned about the dragon fire, [pyrotechnics and lifts] and making sure we were all safe. The Mickey at the end that rises to strike the final blow shoots up out of the ground like a rocket. These were all untested gags, and we worked very hard to get it right. We found out that so much gas was used for the fire gags that the gas level in Anaheim actually lowered all at once during a show. I was always worried about the ducks in the river.

Once we moved to the park, we worked from midnight until 8 a.m. We had to camp on Tom Sayer Island, which I found amazing. Here we were in this large city, sleeping outside and were perfectly safe. I had a great time. We brought sleeping bags and backpacks. Most performers weren’t allowed to have anything personal inside the park, but since we were there all night and couldn’t leave, we were allowed. I think most people brought books and cards. I played a lot of cards on that island.

Our costumes included a wet suit, sweat suit and t-shirt. We had to wear the sweats and t-shirt on the river crossing to the paddle-boat where we got in costume. The costumes were at the whim of the wind, that’s when my flower petal suit became a strapped-on 7’ sail. It could literally pick you up if you didn’t hang on or lean the right way. The huge water fountains in which they projected video clips would spray you on a windy evening and you would be quite wet (thus the wet suits we all wore). When we were done with one part of the show, we would have to literally run to the next location to get ready for the next section. It was always interesting (but usually fun) running in the dark on and off boats and across the obstacles of Tom Sawyer island! We got pretty good at it after a few good spills and pile ups.

Tell us about a challenging day or event you encountered and what happened:

The LA riots. The whole city was on curfew and it was unclear whether I was expected to report to work or not, but I was scared to drive past dark as that would be breaking curfew for LA county. Finally, I found out they had to cancel the show. I can’t remember how many days we had curfew, but those going to work were allowed to venture out after a day or two.

What was the most interesting event while you were on the clock?

We would have long waits when we were still in rehearsals before the show opened. Often it would be a couple of hours before you were needed again. Since it was the middle of the night, we would sleep in our sleeping bags, or play cards, or talk, but a few times we made up ridiculous games that involved silly charades just to pass the time. All very juvenile. The whole cast was very friendly and fun. A group of us had a sleep over a couple of times. We just enjoyed hanging out, but we all came from different directions up to 2 hours away, so hanging out beyond work wasn’t really feasible.

Tell us something no one knows about Disney:

I always felt a bit like Disney was ‘big brother.” They dictated hair styles for men and women with specifics for every ethnicity and hair type. Of course talent didn’t wear any jewelry, but sales persons were given specific instructions on where and what type of jewelry one can have on (rings, earrings, necklaces). It makes sense from an image standpoint, but it always seemed intrusive. One of the stunt guys for the “Peter Pan section wore a wig so well, that none of us knew he had long hair underneath until they got mad at him and he yelled that he quit and pulled off his wig!

Would you go back?

For a season or two, sure!

Did it help your future career?

I teach theatre, there must be some connection there…..

What, if anything, did you learn from Disney?

Walt Disney was a GENIUS! He really was a visionary.

Are you still in contact with Disney co-workers?

No; I should look them up on Facebook!

What advice would you give to a guest visiting the parks from the perspective of a cast member?

See the shows, they really are good. It’s also fun to imagine what the person underneath the costume looks like and what gender they are (adults only, don’t spoil the magic for the kids)

If you could change anything about Disney, what would it be?

How many guests they will allow in the park at one time. Too many on holidays.

yup

Are you glad you worked there?

Absolutely.

Thanks again to Rosemary, and to you dear readers for continuing to follow these interviews.

More Disney attraction quotes…

because I knew you wanted more!

 

 

 

 

Disney California Adventure Photo Report!!!

Just Off Main Street regular visitor Sarah Bagley vacationed at the Disneyland Resort in California recently and shared some great photos of some of the new attractions at Disney’s California Adventure. Many, many thanks to Sarah for reaching out and sharing her visit with us!!!

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The new Little Mermaid adventure dark ride is getting rave reviews. Looks like we’re in for a treat when the Walt Disney World version opens next year.

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The new gate. Looks familiar no?

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Cars Land looks to be one of the more exciting additions to the parks Disney fans have seen in a long time.

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Some signage around the park for coming attractions:

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Goofy’s Sky School. A lots been mentioned online that this is just a cheap off-the-shelf coaster (meaning it wasn’t designed for the park) with a facade, but reports are coming in that it is in fact a lot of fun!

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The Mickey Wheel. Note all the infrastructure for the World of Color in the foreground.

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What might be my favorite new addition, Redwood Creek. Where you can earn your Wilderness Explorer badges! My mom will be tickled.

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Silly Symphonies Swing. DCA has gone out of its way to honor Disney’s earliest creations and projects.

And lastly, Toy Story Mania, currently the longest wait on both coasts. I’ve still not ridden it.

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My heartfelt thanks to Sarah and her family for sharing these pictures with me and in turn, you. I encourage you to send in your Disney pics to share down the road, and as always…

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Space-Age Disney Design

Source: The Hardyman Files

NPR has a story today about Space-Age design in honor of the Space Shuttle’s last mission. Point being that this really is the end of an era in America (I’ve got dope rhymes), not only are the Shuttles being retired, but America’s fascination with space exploration is waning. There was a time in the late 50’s and early 60’s when space was not only the final frontier, it was the awesome lunchbox, car, coffee shop and amusement park frontier as well.

I love lunchboxes.

The story references Walt Disney’s love of space and how he funneled that love into the design of Disneyland using southern California aerospace engineers. For people who don’t know, aerospace is HUGE in SoCal. During my time there, I met people who worked on the SR-71, the Shuttle and the Stealth Bomber. I had friends whose family were involved in the Apollo and Gemini programs and what I alway assumed were the future Mars missions. Point being, Angelenos know their space stuff. Disney took that design expertise as well as the love of the aesthetic and grew what is now Tomorrowland from California farm land.

Using far out materials like plastics, foam and aluminum, Disney crafted a vision of the future, knowing even then that corporations and commerce would be built into the system in a way that becomes part of your every day routine. It stood as a white, clean, gleaming peek into what our future could become, full of hope, promise, a sensible allocation of resources and much like Gene Roddenberry, a way for all to live peacefully together.

Source

Sadly, that vision has been replaced with an odd mix of Jules Verne, Steampunk, CGI and Las Vegas. The giant rock forms in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World at the entrance to Tomorrowland remind me more of a Mission to Mars, which oddly enough doesn’t exist anymore, then a stroll into a better tomorrow.

Before

After

Have a listen to today’s NPR story. There’s even a soundbite of Disney talking about a day when Shuttle missions would become a daily event, much like driving to work. I miss that American optimism. Disney was as optimistic as anyone during that age. And for that, I thank him.

Friday Daily Disney

Hello all. We lead off today with a an announcement: today is my 16th wedding anniversary to my lovely bride Jenny! We met in SoCal, so of course I immediately took her on a date to Disneyland. We waited until our daughter was 3 to go back to Disney World, but we haven’t stopped since. The photo is from our February trip with my favorite, Stitch. Happy Anniversary dear. Love you.

Keith Richards returns to the POTC as Jack’s father, Captain Teague. This has been reported as the first look at Richards, but I’m not sure. He popped up in the first teaser trailer. Image here. Thanks to Stitchkingdom.com for the image. More photos here.

Above is what we’re told is the new Blu-Ray box for Star Wars: The Complete Saga. The set, released on September 16 of this year, will feature all 6 films plus over 40 hours of extras. More here. I’ll just say one thing: this box art is not how you say ‘good.’

These adorable Mickey and Minnie ‘cake pops’ were found on Etsy today. Cute! More here.

A great blog post from Mouse Planet about pet peeves in the Disney Parks. While I tend to turn a blind eye to a lot of these, kids are kids and when you load them up on sugar and throw ’em into an amusement park, they’re bound to be a little hyper, I did agree with a few of them. The enormo-backpacks are a pain, especially in line for Big Thunder Mountain. But mine would be the ‘It Used to be Better’ people. I know ‘Alien Encounter’ was awesome, and I miss the Sky Buckets too, but I love Stitch and my daughter likes ‘Great Escape.’ Fantasyland NEEDS to be expanded, and frankly, ‘Test Track’ is fraking awesome. You changed over the past 20 years, why shouldn’t Disney?

Happy Birthday to the Norway Pavilion at Epcot, opening this day in 1988. I love this Pavilion! A great ride, fantastic food, beer and what I’m told from female friends at work, the cutest guys in Epcot.

And your wicked-awesome Disney tattoo of the day

Walt Disney World Resorts Character Meet-and-Greets

Did you know you and your children can meet many Disney characters face-to-face at Walt Disney World? Of course you do. Do you know where they are? Maybe not.

One of the more surprising things about my recent trip to the Walt Disney World resorts in February was the number of character meet-and-greets in all 4 parks. My family and I have been 4 times since 2006, one trip to Disneyland, and when I lived in Southern California, we went to Disneyland at least once a month. I can honestly say I never saw the number of characters interacting with park goers be as many as in 2011.

I can speculate as to why, but firmly believe that John Lasseter’s overseeing of the Disney Parks has a lot to do with it. When I first took my daughter to Walt Disney World in 2006, the only characters we saw were either at the EPCOT Character meet, during early Magic Hours at the Magic Kingdom, or at the Character meals. During all my trips to Disneyland, I can only remember one Character interaction: Captain Hook and Smee on Thanksgiving morning when the park was EMPTY.

We should all write Mr. Lasseter a letter thanking him for what he's done for Disney and the parks.

Flash forward to 2011. In addition to the regular cast of characters at Hollywood Studios, which are very approachable by the way, we got to see Mike and Sully from Monsters, Inc. and Minnie Mouse in a nurses uniform filming something in front of the Brown Derby. Plus, Handy Manny at the Animation Courtyard. At EPCOT two hours after opening, we ran into both Stitch and Daisy Duck, with very short lines, at the front of the park. The EPCOT Meet-and-Greet indoor area was full with all the top-tier names.

Here I am accosting Evie Starlight. She was very gracious. And very thin.

Ms. Mouse getting her close up.

Magic Kingdom saw Pluto, Chip and Dale, Fairy Godmother, the Evil Stepmother and Step sisters, Mary Poppins at the Carousal IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY. Tigger and Pooh. Peter Pan, alone, and with no line. Woody and Jessie together, Capt. Jack, Jasmine, Frontier Donald, Buzz Lightyear and Future Chip and Dale. But the most surprising of all was Mickey and Minnie at Splash Mountain AND Space Mountain for over 4 hours! Both days we were in the park. This is in addition to the Celebration parade with a revolving cast, including the Mad Hatter, Baloo, Mr. Incredible, Mickey, Goofy and Mike Wazowski, plus the Castle show. And the talking trash can in Tomorrowland.

Thanks to Disney Nerd Stacey Lantz for the pic!

At Animal Kingdom, Goofy was outside at the gates, then inside Dinoland with Pluto. Flik, who I’ve never seen before, in between Africa and Asia, Lilo and Stitch near the Lion King and all the spots at Camp Minnie Mickey were full. We saw both Brother Bear, from, um, ‘Brother Bear’ and Terk from Tarzan.

Speaking of a Bug's Life, did you know Dot was voiced by Hayden Panettiere?

This is Terk. From Tarzan. Voiced by Rosie O'Donnell.

So all in all, a great experience. My guess is that cast members are swapping out turns so the characters are in the parks longer. There was a noticeable size difference in Stitch at Animal Kingdom from when he went in for his pineapple juice to his return.

As far as I know, all the characters will give autographs. And of course Disney just happens to sell autograph books with your favorite characters on them. But, I saw two things that I highly recommend. First, a pillowcase and a permanent marker. We got one of these for our daughter’s 7th birthday slumber party. All the kids signed it. It’s STILL on her bed, long after the gifts have been forgotten. Second, a large, blank Vinylmation. I saw this in someone’s window at POP Century with about 10 autographs, I almost knocked on the door to congratulate them on such a fabulous idea. This year, my little girl used her ‘Up’ Adventure Book (just like Ellie!) and some of the characters drew little doodles. Squee!

This is a Vinylmation. It's blank. Get it signed. Live a long a prosperous life 😉

Can you look at this and not get a tear? I can't. Bless Pixar for making such compelling characters.

Now, how to find them. For the most part, they were out in the open, if a little tucked off to one side. Mickey and Minnie were well off the beaten path, next to the rest rooms at Splash Mountain and in between the rest rooms and Space Mountain in Tomorrowland. Fairy Godmother was behind Cinderella’s fountain in Fantasyland, where as Peter Pan was next to Philharmagic.

Just announced today, Disney will offer FastPasses to meet Mickey in the Magic Kingdom this spring in side the referbed Exposition Hall area just inside the park.

There are some also some phone apps to help you find them, but I think you’ll do better taking your time in the parks, talking to cast members (they really are nice) walking those paths you’ve never been on before. As I like to say, to get the most from a Disney resort, you’ve got to get Just Off Main Street 🙂

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