May 24, 2018

Disney Rolling in the Money

Oh those rich Disney executives! The folks like CEO Robert Iger are rolling in the dough. (What a great potential Weird Al parody of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep".) Prices for the parks and the lodging go up and up, not to mention the cost of food on property. If you're like me, you absolutely hate the fact that the most appealing places to eat from a design and architecture standpoint are now home to only over-priced character breakfasts.

Talk about  income inequality! Truth be told, most of us make much more money than we think compared to the rest of the world. A friend sent me this link. If you click on it, there's a short little program that looks at the amount of money you make and tells you how you compare to others in the world. It's called The Global Rich List.  

It's a pretty fun tool to play with!

For me, as a follower of Jesus, it's challenging. I keep thinking of his words found in Matthew 6- "“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money."

My heart's cry- "But I think that way so naturally, Jesus! Help me be a better manager of my money and a blessing to others." I certainly have a long way to go in giving God my best. It will be a life long process, as He keeps uncovering sin and attitudes of pride and selfishness. More on this in the coming weeks. You'll understand more soon enough.

May 22, 2018

Harry, Meghan, and The Queen

Don't tell my wife, but I'm kind of taken with this photo of the royal newlyweds. Beneath all the glamour- and the guildedness of the room- there's something very touching and telling about this. 

At the core of it all, this is still a family photograph of two young newlyweds and their family. The bride and groom are beaming, the new in-laws might be having awkward conversations with each other, and the photographer is still unable to get all those cute little kids to look at the camera at the same time! 

Can you imagine being the mother of the bride? Even the hopes and dreams of any parent probably wouldn't include what happened to Meghan Markle. What stories Doria Ragland would have to tell about this whole process! Prince Harry would have his own as well. I mean, how do you explain to your royal family that you're marrying an American? Perhaps the next generation of television's The Queen will tell the story of her children and grandchildren. Much as been written and movies created about Charles and Diana, but I think the lives of their children are just as interesting.

Fairytales aside, marriage is hard work! I wouldn't wish that kind of royal pressure on anyone. It will be interesting to watch what transpires. They'll never escape the news outlets. For better or for worse, richer (not poorer), God has made the two one. I hope they make it work out.


May 20, 2018

An Evening in Venice

Simply magical. It's the only way to describe the evening beauty of Venice, Italy. A cruise down the Grand Canal is an experience you have to have to appreciate. Whether its a water taxi between islands or a very expensive gondola ride, moving on the water is the way the locals live. And following the ways of a local is always the best way to see a location and experience it most authentically. 

Pick a location and memorize it. Then go wander the back alleys that weave in and out of the city. There's no place like it on earth. At times frustrating, dirty, and crowded but always enchanting and full of surprises when you look beyond the surface. 

Cafes specialize in sweets of pistachio brittle to go with their mint flavored drinks. In the summer, four bands play each corner of St. Mark's Square, offering visitors a chance to dine, drink, and dance the night away. A pretty sweet plan! 

May 19, 2018

Saturday Night at EPCOT's Equatorial Africa

Sweet piece of concept art by Imagineer Herb Ryman for the unrealized Equatorial Africa pavilion in EPCOT Center's gorgeous World Showcase. Originally, due to arrive in Phase Two, it never made the cut. In fact, looking at the graphic below, it seems as if the suits gave up on World Showcase altogether.



Completion of this project would have brought a new sense of "different" to that side of the park. Something organic and naturalistic would help break up all of the city type landscapes. Granted, it would have come at a price: the probability that Animal Kingdom never would have seen the light of day. I guess that's a fair trade-off!

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

May 18, 2018

What's It Gonna Be? Season Three?

NBC, it is time to give us all an answer- and you'd better choose wisely! Timeless is just to good to let it slip away. You keep messing with the time slot, changing the day, and now keeping us all in suspense. Give this great show a chance to develop and a time slot that allows it to build an audience and a storyline. Good things take time. Is it always about the money?

May 15, 2018

The Best Toy Story Land

In one of the more rare instances of Walt Disney World getting a better version of an attraction found in other (ie. international) parks, the Studios version of Toy Story Land looks to be the best  and most complete incarnation. Those in Paris, Hong Kong, and Shanghai are easily put to shame. 

Here's a great photo of the construction progress for WDWMAGIC by cameraman Colin Chardavoyne. As you can tell, the land is almost ready for its debut! Unfortunate attraction acronyms aside, it's a fairly well fleshed out experience geared toward the entire family. Just what this park needs at a time when so much of it is shuttered for expansion and re-Imagineering.

(Photo copyright WDWMagic.)

May 14, 2018

#RenewTimeless

After last night's epic Season Two finale, is there anything left to do than to renew Timeless? It's smart, focused, and full of great performances. Particularly last night, Abigail Spencer's striking portrayal of the ever-changing leader, Lucy and the feud with baddie Emma, expertly played by Annie Wersching. (Man, she was deliciously evil on Castle as well!) . C'mon NBC! Get to it and renew this show!

May 12, 2018

Countdown to Extinction for Dinosaur

Love Disney's Animal Kingdom?  Me, too!  With Pandora, nighttime safaris, and the Rivers of Light nighttime show, it's should be just the beginning of more great things to come. But there's also the potential of a huge loss as this park is gaining in popularity. 

Is the Dinosaur attraction facing extinction? Rumor has it, this great "E Ticket" attraction could be giving way to a famous explorer by the name of Indiana Jones. Check out the thread on WDWMagic, the site that first brought this to light as a possibility.

As an opening day headliner that drew guests to the park along with the iconic Kilimanjaro Safaris, Countdown to Extinction - with its this reused track layout from Indy's Adventure- anchored the dinosaur themed land long before Chester and Hester's Disaster made its debut. Perhaps this is the disadvantage of creatively saving money by duplicating a ride system and just changing out the showpieces and adding different effects: When the suits in charge decide to bring in the latest intellectual property, they can just reuse what's there vs. creatively thinking how to best tell a new story and building around that. It's comparatively cheap to do a layover (See Mission: Breakout), but it's lazy and short changes the guest experience. 

Oh well. Disney's going to do what they want.

Here's some rare concept art by the Disney Imagineers. Notice a  slightly different opening sequence than the final result. The terrifying Carnotaurus greets time travelers right at the beginning of the journey. Too late for those with second thoughts to change their minds. If they do decide to override Dinosaur with Indy, we will eventually get over it.

It's all just part of the evolution of Animal Kingdom. Check out this series of articles on the changes over the last 20 years! History of the park, rare concept art, trip report and more!


(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

May 10, 2018

The Littles

Is it a "gaggle" of littles? A cluster? Whatever you'd call this cute little group, it wouldn't take away from their adorability factor. This was just a wonderfully fun photo session from our good friends at Scott Laurie Photography.

(Photograph copyright Scott Laurie Photography.)

May 9, 2018

Stars and Wars

Imagineers at Disneyland may be building an elaborate Galaxy's Edge and at Disney's Hollywood Studios for that matter as well, but Star Wars has nothing new to tell us compared to what is coming. A true tale as old as time is unfolding:

There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves,  people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

These are the words of Jesus regarding the future and His return, as recorded in Luke 21:25-27. The same one who said, "I am The Way, The Truth, and The Life. No one comes to the Father except by me." His words, not mine. Time for some serious thought.

(Image from National Geographic.)

May 8, 2018

Natalie Portman and Dior: The Female Double Standard

The female double standard is in full bloom, and here's an example: Natalie Portman's commercial for Miss Dior. I cringe everytime this comes on. 

Watch the whole thing. Physical violence as part of a relationship - not to mention as a tool to sell perfume- is just plain wrong.

Can you imagine what would happen if roles were reversed and a man did this to promote something old fashioned like Old Spice or something more appealing to a younger crowd such as Acqua Di Gio for Men? There would be an uproar. And there should be!


"Correcting" a long existing problem of dominance and bullying of women from men in their lives is always the right thing to do- but not in a manner that imitates what's offensive to begin with. 

Everyone must play by the same rules.

May 7, 2018

Analyzing Shanghai Disneyland- Grand Edition

Gotta share this: A Massive article discussing the design, successes, and failures of Shanghai Disneyland in the context of Magic Kingdoms past. Make sure you set aside half an hour to fully digest this article from Madness Kingdom - and its gorgeous photos!

(Photograph copyright MadnessKingdom.com)

It Is a Small World

Way back in the cobweb filled parts of my mind, I vaguely remember this attraction poster for one of my very favorite Disney attractions. Yes, that's right- It's A Small World truly is one of my favorites. Ranks right up there with Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion.

Be it at Disneyland or Walt Disney World, I just love this Fantasyland classic. (Haven't seen the two in Asia, but the Paris version is every bit as charming- even if it doesn't have the styling of Imagineer Mary Blair behind it.) The above attraction poster only hints of the charms within. 

Now if our world would only pay attention to the message...

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

May 3, 2018

Ironic: Disney Confirms Cancellation of Night of Joy on National Day of Prayer

Today several Disney blog sites are reporting that an official but unnamed spokesman confirmed the 2017 Night of Joy event was truly the last one. What first began at Walt Disney World in 1983 has come to an end. The timing? Foolish, perhaps pointed, and rather ironic.

(Artwork copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

Just One Significant Day

Today is the National Day of Prayer. It was begun by President Truman back in 1952, and it is needed now more than ever.

Especially with Billy Graham gone, it is a perfect day to set aside our differences and join in unity, praying for our country, our community, our leaders, our world. Abraham Lincoln said it best, " It is the duty of nations as well as men, to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God."

Join me, will you? Take a moment and pray, focusing on these seven areas: Government, Military, Media, Business, Education, Church, and Family.

Dr. Ronnie Floyd, President, National Day of Prayer Task Force and Senior Pastor, Cross Church, offers this prayer for our nation:

Our Dear Heavenly Father, while we come to You in complete humility, we also come to You with boldness in the authoritative name of Your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, who is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. In Jesus’ name, fill us now with Your Holy Spirit and lead us as we pray in Jesus’ name for America.

Oh God, we are burdened for our nation today. We turn from the sins that we have committed against your Word and your Name. We turn away from our contentious words and ways toward one another that has led us to division and polarization. We turn away from our disrespect and lack of dignity toward each other, and we turn away from our continual devaluation of all human life from the womb until death in this world. We also turn away from and refuse to participate in skepticism, criticism, and cynicism in our nation. We turn away from anything that divides us, and we run toward the gospel of Jesus Christ that is the only thing that has the power to unite us together.

Lord, in this critical hour in our nation, we pray for unity in America. Only You can bring unity, harmony, and oneness in America. As your Word calls us in Ephesians 4:3, “Making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace”, we ask You to empower us to make every effort to live in unity, to call for unity, and to forward unity in America continually.

We pray for the churches in America to unify in Jesus Christ and to pray as one unified spiritual family for America. May Your Church pray for America passionately, perpetually, privately, and publicly.

We pray for God’s power to unify families, workplaces, communities, and cities in America. By Your Spirit, lead us to forgiveness, reconciliation, healing, and unity.

We pray for people of all ethnicities and races in America to come together as one, living in peace and unity together. Oh Lord, because each of us is created in Your image, please give us the courage to stand against all racial and ethnic division, denouncing it as evil and sinful, while simultaneously coming together in unity with all persons knowing this is God’s will for us.

We pray in unity for the security of our nation. We ask You to preserve the United States of America from the forces of evil that are threatening our lives and our future. God, please guard all persons in public and private settings from anyone or anything that desires to harm us or take our lives. Our future is in Your hands.

We agree clearly, unite visibly, and pray extraordinarily for the next Great Spiritual Awakening in America. Oh Lord, wake up Your church spiritually and convict Your people to agree clearly, unite visibly, and pray extraordinarily until the next Great Spiritual Awakening occurs in our generation.

Oh God, we stand together upon Your words in Psalm 133:1, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony.” Through Jesus’ name and by the Holy Spirit’s power, we pray for all Americans to unify and to live together in unity.

In the mighty and majestic name of Jesus Christ who is the Only Savior and the Only Hope in this world, we pray. Amen.

May 2, 2018

Dumbo Flies Again

Forgive me for being a Disney nerd! Every once in awhile, a photo from some other blog or site just grabs my attention. In this case, it is a recent photo from Westcoaster and their shot of the newly enhanced Dumbo the Flying Elephant attraction at Disneyland. Situated in the beautiful and quaint Fantasyland, the new extended queue with its delightful circus canopies makes for just a stunning shot. The Imagineers did themselves proud on this little project!

(Photograph copyright Westcoaster.)

Timeless Moments

Frankly, my wife and I absolutely love the show Timeless! The cast is gifted, passionate about their story, and undeniably fun on and off camera. The unfolding tale is compelling, even if Season Two feels a bit rushed at times. I'm fairly certain that's a concession to gaining a larger audience. 

Correcting an earlier obvious gaffe, the series is finally including more of the very complex villain / now perhaps good guy Garcia Flynn. Excellently played by Goran Visnjic, he's crafted one of the most interesting characters ever found on television. Here's some truth: Even an excellent episode is made better by him being in it. It's about time.

May 1, 2018

The Most Beautiful Tokyo Disney Sea Photo Ever

Awhile back, I presented to you the most beautiful Tree of Life photo ever, one taken by our friend and blogger Len Yokoyama. Well, he's done it again! Today, I give you his take on Tokyo Disney Seas amazing Mediterranean Harbor. Left large size so you can see all of the detail the Imagineers put into the place. The park oozes atmosphere, charm, and lots of money spent very, very well.

Enjoy!

(Photograph copyright Len Yokoyama.)