Monday, August 29, 2011

Louis Prima and The Jungle Book

I don't know what possessed me, but I typed in Louis Prima into Google and found this video:

Louis Prima I Wanna Be Like You

I don't know much about Louis Prima other than that he voiced the King Ape in Jungle Book. This is a short, very interesting clip of Prima doing part of the song, along with some documentary-style narration. Don't know where it comes from originally.

Here's the scene from Jungle Book.

Take a look if you'd like.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Disney Books: Forthcoming Sam Gennawey book

Saw a blog post at Imagineering, then at SamLand's Disney Adventures:

Sam Gennawey is publishing a book called Walt and the Promise of Progress City. The book will be published by Ayefour Publishing, who also published Project Future by Chad Emerson and two other books.

The link on the book refers to the blog post announcing the upcoming release, not a link to Amazon or anywhere that you can buy the book. But I'll post such a link when the book is released and avaliable for purchase. And I'll be buying it.

Sam's website SamLand has many interesting articles, often written from the perpsective of an urban planner. If I was designing a theme park complex, I'd hire Sam. (Fat chance of that, though...)

Check it out if you're so inclined...


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

If I were in charge of Disney...

I'm sure I could find tons of stuff to do. As long as I didn't have to pay attention to the bottom line too much.

But one thing I think I would do if I had any say in the doings of Disney would be to open a DVC resort in the Wisconsin Dells.

The Dells, if you don't know, is billed as the "Waterpark Capital of the World". There is a lot to do there, even if some of it is fairly "cheesy" type stuff. You can take a boat ride on the Wisconsin River and explore the natural dells, which the town takes its name from. You can take a "duck" ride, which is an amphibious craft from WWII that drives on roads and takes a trip down the river, and through Lake Delton also. You can go to see Rick Wilcox's magic show, or Tommy Bartlett's Water Show. You can go to Mt Olympus Water- and Theme Park, or a couple of other water/theme parks. You can visit haunted houses, an upside down White House ('Top Secret'), drive go-karts, play mini-golf, or just hang out at your hotel and play at its water parks. Plus there are some cheesier attractions like Ripley's Believe-it-or-Not, a 4D motion theater, laser tag and Wizard Quest (might not be as cheesy as some of the others).

We stayed at the Great Wolf Lodge. Our room had a simulated 'cabin' in it with bunk beds and a single bed. We also had a queen sized bed with a pull out sleeper. The Lodge has a couple of restaurants, a big arcade, a very nice animatronic display in the lobby where they do "story time" every night, and of course, the water parks, both incoor and outdoor. Then there is the attached three story Magiquest building, where kids can play for their entire visit, for one admission at the beginning of the stay.

As I was sitting there watching my kids enjoy the water parks at our hotel, I couldn't help but think that it would be a great place for DVC to expand to. Right now, we have a slew of DVC resorts in Florida, one in South Carolina, one in California, and one opening very soon (maybe it's open!) in Hawaii. For a midwestern Disney fan, they all have something in common: a plane trip. Oh, I know that lots of Chicagoans drive to Florida routinely, but for many of us, when you have a week off, you want to get there quickly. With Disney, the journey is not part of the attraction. The destination is.

If Disney were to open a DVC resort in that area, I believe we would patronize it quite a bit. We might even buy some points there. It's the type of place we could spend a long weekend at, or even on occasion stay for longer. (Though that might be the limiting factor - I don't think the Dells get a lot of full-week visitors.) The Great Wolf Lodge sells its own time-shares, as do a couple other big resorts (like the Wilderness Lodge). Why couldn't Disney get into the act in this family friendly tourist destination?

If I were Disney, I'd buy one of the existing resorts (there's a Polynesian Village and Water Park, for example), close it for a year, remodel the heck out of it, and turn it into a Disney resort! The Polynesian, for example, could maybe be modeled on Disney's Polynesian Resort at WDW, but with a huge water park, part of which is alreayd there. Then I'd start selling DVC memberships. A lot of midwesterners who don't see a point to buying DVC might change their minds if there was something considerably closer to home besides the WDW, DL and three other DVC resort destinations.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011


It seems when one reads the various blogs about Disney, there is a lot of commentary on two places: EPCOT and Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom or Disneyland. I would say this is probably because these are the areas that inspire - they are perhaps the best examples of the high-level imagineering that goes on when developing a theme park. When you talk to a Disney fan, it seems that often they came by their passion by visiting EPCOT as a child or a teen. Before that, it was probably one of the Tomorrowlands that inspired fans.

I've read a lot of "armchair imagineering" that reimagines the futuristic elements of Disney's park offerings, and it seems a common complaint is that they've become somewhat stale in their treatment of the futuristic themes. Or watered down, often, with attractions that are more for thrills or for character tie-ins than for any link to the future. I've done a bit of armchair imagineering myself back when I started this blog.

Anyway, it got me thinking. The future is about exploring new frontiers. Whether we humans are actually getting anywhere is debatable, but we certainly spend enough imagination thinking about the future. So what are those frontiers now?

Space, of course, remains a major frontier, one we've just barely touched on exploring. EPCOT touches on this frontier with the MISSION: SPACE attraction, and Tomorrowland is supposed to be all about a future where space travel is commonplace. It's a theme that is rich with possibilities. Science fiction writers still use human expansion into space as a major theme for their works.

Less popular, perhaps, but still a mystery to much of humanity, the oceans are another frontier. This environment offers challenges almost as harsh as exploration of space offers, and we know little about some parts of the deep oceans, including what sorts of creatures live there. When I think of the oceans, I always think of James Cameron's movie THE ABYSS. Other movies and books have dealt with the oceans as a frontier for our exploration also, but that's the one that jumps out at me.

A third frontier is the area under our feet. JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH is of course the book and movie that jumps out at me. The world of caves and subterranean environment is a fascinating milieu, and we humans have often looked downward in our expansion efforts. Subways, basements, defensive installations, cave exploration and catacombs and graves are all ways we expand and utilize the underground frontier.

Does anyone have any other frontiers?

Do any of these frontiers excite you more than another?


Thursday, August 4, 2011

WDW - A Unique Place

I was reading the recent blog entry over at The World According To Jack with the sure-to-draw-interest title Should The City Of EPCOT Have Been Built?. It's an interesting question that is sure to bring out opinions, and judging by the fact that there are something like 40 comments (too many for me to read in the limited time I had), it is succeeding.

Jack's position seems to be that he'd rather have what Walt Disney World has become over the years, a vacation mecca with four parks, two water parks, golf courses, other attractions, and tons of really well done resorts. He points out, correctly I think, that if it had been built, we would likely not have the other three parks and many of the other things that make it into a vacation destination. We might well have something more like Disneyland Resort in California, and while that's a really nice place, it isn't a destination by itself.

It made me think: How unique IS WDW? The answer seems to be, pretty darned unique. There really is nothing like it in the world, as far as I know. Universal's Orlando resort is more like DLR in California. No Six Flags or Cedar Fair park aspires to be what WDW has successfully become.

And what it is, is a self contained vacation destination in and of itself. You do not have to leave the grounds for days, if you choose not to. I know, I wrote in my last post that I thought a fifth gate would be a good idea to make the experience better, fresher, newer, and less crowded (perhaps). But we've gone to WDW multiple times in the last 6 or 7 years, and except for the first time when we also had a convention to attend, we've stayed on property for all 7 days of each visit. On our last visit we ventured off the property to go to Universal Studios for two days, and are likely to do so in the future. But we return for sleeping, eating, and relaxing. (Not that we do much relaxing when on our vacations.)

How come it is so unique? Why hasn't anyone else tried to copy the model? Somewhere, where land is relatively cheap, why doesn't a big company buy up a large amount of it and build something on a similar scale? Do they feel there wouldn't be a market for something of that nature? That they couldn't charge enough to cover costs? To be profitable?

The Disney Company is a mega-corporation, with fingers in a lot of pies. Revenue streams in from many sources. But by most accounts, it seems that the parks are always profitable for Disney.

In any case, I for one am glad it is there in the form it is today.