Friday, August 30, 2013

Imagineers Start with a Spark

Thankfully Ricky had been taking his Ginko Baloba vitamins and reminded me of the convention's workers. They were buff!!! And, the last two days we had wondered what was up with all these beefy guys. On this last day our question was answered. 

After waiting in the massive line to gain entry, we would need to find Lost and Found. Rey was missing his wallet. He was certain it was lost at the Songbook concert the night before. Once we headed inside, we quickly found a "worker". 

After asking him where the Lost and Found was he was confused. He didn't have slightest clue. The guy mentioned he was sorry, and that he was just a Marine volunteer. Well Brandi, Eric, and I were listening closely now. 

Someone asked, "So you're all Marines?" To which he explained that mostly all the workers were Marines that had volunteered. Well that explained everything! 

Blurred Marine pic (hehe)

To sum up the wallet issue, Lost and Found didn't have it. What ended up happening was an off duty cop/security guard found it, and drove it to Rey's house that very morning. Crazy right? All the money was there too. Goodness does exist out there. 

We went and picked up my commissioned sketch from Amy Mebberson. Loved it! She gave Lucy a scheming smirk on her face, as though Ethel was on the phone with her. If interested, google Amy's name and her tumblr comes up. She only sells commissioned drawings at Cons or prints through Acme Archives. Eric also placed his order with her. I'll show that in a bit. 

We headed back to the Imagineering Pavilion. Rey and Brandi hadn't seen it yet. They have a clever Pre-show where a short video is the introduction. Their pavilion operates like a park attraction. Brilliance!!

After speaking with a colorist/painter who was painting a Buena Vista elevation, we went to their gallery. The Imagineers brought over some rare pieces. They are so sensitive that we were unable to use any cameras. They showed the original sketch Walt used to as he asked for his loan to fund the park. All the hand strokes could be seen. The varied lead pressures to add shading. After seeing this in older Disney TV specials, it was amazing! 

The team also displayed a painting used for a different TV special from the 1950s. Walt presented this on television to convey what Disneyland would soon be. This was a colored, aerial view of Disneyland and parking lot. In a way, a painted version of the sketch we had just seen. Like during the TV special, the gallery lights dimmed, ultraviolet lights were lit, and the painting glowed. JUST LIKE ON TV!! It was like a dream. I have a feeling so many others felt as excited as us to witness this. 

The pavilion also had a Marvel meet n greet. It was a treat to meet up with Captain America, my favorite Avenger. He played the part well because I was believing it. Oh what the heck! Here's our other pose!


Sticking with the Imagineering theme, we attended a panel with some well known Inagineers. Just before hand we met Imagineer Joe Rohde. He's been known for the exotic projects in theme parks. He basically over saw Animal Kingdom and Aulani Villas in Hawaii. Joe was so nice and seemed excited that we recognized him. 

Joe had some good talking points during the panel. He seems a little cooky on TV, but he carries with him some great lessons. He mentioned that one shouldn't feel discouraged not achieving a dream job, but instead love what you do. He got to his status by loving what he did. That love for his project/craft paved the way to get where he is. People noticed he was a strong worker. Joe also mentioned if you're only in your position for money and personal gain, you won't succeed. Joe has seen many come and go with greed in their eyes. The last note I can recall him saying had to do with perception. Fans feel they know and can define how Disney operates. But, because of the uniqueness of the operation, the definitions that exist are false. Along with all he said, that struck me quite a bit because it's true. 

Once the panel ended we all felt inspired. We quickly zoomed back to the Imagineering Pavilion because there was an activity to try. It's the booth our friend Joey was running, Adventure Trading Company. You pay to go on a small search/scavenger hunt that results in a prize. This was a test program. Would a regular day guest pay to play a game and earn his souvenir? As Joey explained, anyone can just buy a Winnie the Pooh plush, but what about earn a special one?

Eric paid our fee. Rey and Brandi paid theirs and we were all off on our adventure. We chose the game themed to Knowledge. We were going to translate some type of ancient inscriptions. 

Eric won his skill JuJu for deciphering the message. But, why stop there? There was also a free game where one must photograph at least 5 birds in the convention. Here's one of them. The name is not a coincidence. 

Once all the five photos are presented to the Imagineer cast member, one gets another JuJu! And, that's what we did. Here are all the earned JuJus from that day. 

We told our friend Joey that we had a great time, but it wasn't over. To gain the skull JuJu a participant needed to tell a sort of "tall tale" about how he found his prize. I was proud Eric did this because he's pretty shy. He's cute!

Eric telling Joey his story. 

Brandi and Rey hadn't seen the archives so we headed back there. Again the wait was very long. It was worth it. Just below is a model of an attraction that never happened. Rock Candy Mountain. This was either suppose to be what the Casey Jr Circus train is now, or this mountain was to reside within Storybook Land Canal Boats. 

Couldn't put up this post without showing Dorothy's slippers from Return to Oz!

From the "Feed the Birds" scene of Mary Poppins. This song is such an important moment in the movie and for Disney's history. It will always be known as Walt's favorite song. 

This Expo was worth the waits in lines and crowded walkways. Rey and Brandi couldn't believe that Comic Con is even more crowded! There was so much to do and see that I didn't even cover all of it. I hope our personal experience shone through the last three posts and that you had fun reading. 

All our merchandise together (note Eric's "Gadget as Ariel" commissioned sketch)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

D23 Continued!!

Sometimes as a kid I would think about the inner workings of Disneyland or Electrical Parade. On a few occasions I would strike up a conversation about it with my mom. I would ask many questions. It was obvious the questioning became old. Was I annoying? Was it weird I was so into the Disney brand? There wasn't anyone else as interested as me. At that time all I had was the Disney channel or Sunday specials on ABC. But, now I have Eric or I see all these fun people at the D23 Expo. Good thing the kids out there have this event. And let's face it, the adults too. 

On day two of the expo, Eric and I pulled out a casual interpretation of Flynn Ryder and Prince Naveen. The kids call this Disneybounding. Ok? 

Brandi, Rey, and Ricky joined us that day. It was a first for Rey and Brandi. I think we enticed them with our stories from Comic Con. As you all can see, Ricky came dressed as Sid from Toy Story. He had a popular hat. In the end, I don't think anyone realized who I was. 

It was our priority to attend the Once Upon a Time panel, at 1:00 PM. As soon as we entered the showroom we quickly went to grab a StagePass. This was a timesaver, acting like a FastPass.

 Having experience with juggling theme park showtimes and the fastpass system helped a lot. We pretty much just had Rey and Brandi running around like crazy folks! I will say, they have a good number of theme park hours under their belts too. 

While grabbing our pass it occurred to us that The Art of Frozen panel would start soon. Right away we quickly made our way to the escalators and jumped into the queue. We were near the front. 

We saw these ladies all over the expo. They also happened to be waiting for the panel. (Characters Elsa, and Anna is on the right)  

We were lucky enough to be given a thorough synopsis of Frozen and character descriptions. So much detail was presented to us. Wood carvings, fabric patterns, and lighting were created with a lot of thought. I wish we could have taken photos, but of course it's a big secret. 

One or two clips shown from the previous day were repeated. Our crowd was also treated to a few other samples of the film's story. The animation effects are fantastic. I know people are bitter over 2D animation being gutted, reasonably so. But, this film looks beautiful! It's going to be even better when shown in 3D. I hope many go and see Frozen. 

The "swag" or freebies given out at these conventions are a big positive. We all obtained a print of a cell from the new Disney short. It will premier to the general audience with Frozen. That too is a must see!

The Once Upon a Time panel was approaching, but we made a quick stop. They allowed visitors to draw Muppet characters with chalk. I love The Muppets. Rey had to use his skills because unlike myself, he can draw!

Even though we had the StagePasses, our seats weren't all that great for the panel. We probably should've arrived sooner. 

Two of the main writers/producers from the show discussed the current show, but also Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. I am a little skeptical about this new show. They have Alice in a psycho ward in a Victorian looking time period, facing electro shock therapy for "delusions". I like the darkness level but Alice has been redone a lot. The last Disney incarnation was not long ago, in 2010. 

Once Upon a Time has a lot of questions to be answered this season. The characters are heading to Neverland, as most already know. My issue with that is we are leaving some cool characters behind only to add new ones. We are still looking forward to the show. It will be cool to see who Peter Pan will be. It's a huge mystery right now. 

A tasty looking mural!

Back to the showroom floor we all went! We had some more time to stroll through the vendor area and art exhibitors. Our artist that we usually search for, Amy Mebberson was present. I knew I wanted to commission a drawing, but was torn between ideas. I decided on Lucy Ricardo to be drawn in Amy's style. I couldn't wait to see the end result. Eric still wasn't sure what he would choose for himself. 

We were surprised to come upon Pat Carroll, voice of Ursula The Sea Witch. All I could hear was a quote where she says, "The little Tramp!!"

To keep the Little Mermaid theme going, Eric had a short visit with Ron Clements. He directed the film. Pat and Ron all at one convention! It was like Eric won the Disney lottery. 

As the time neared 5:00 PM, it was our cue to head for the Arena waiting area. Two more Disney icons would be performing, Richard Sherman and Alan Menken. These composer's songbooks have forged life memories in the minds of many. When someone thinks of Disney, it is the melodies of these two geniuses that fill one's thoughts. 

This was the queue. All the people seen here were waiting for the concert. The arena seats 4,000 and we still were sat in the overflow area. We weren't in the same room, but just next door. The screens were enough for us and I bet we had a "closer" view. 

   Alan Menken
   Richard Sherman

The only way to explain this experience is to call it ethereal. These men have touched on so many projects that filled my childhood. And everyone watching was engaged throughout the entire program. I'm not going to lie. It was lengthy. The show began around 6:40 PM and ended close to 9:30 PM. 

One highlight was when Richard Sherman sang a song from the Imaginations Pavilion in Disney World called "Magic Journeys". I wasn't 100% sure what it was used for, but I felt emotional after it ended. I later found out it was from the first 3D film that played there at the pavilion. 

Alan Menken sang some songs requiring many difficult techniques. As he said after Hunchback's "Out There", "You're all about to witness me have a stroke!" Menken had so many medleys and features. He lasted much longer than Richard Sherman, two hours. 

The day was a lengthy one full of many activities and swag. We would all be returning one more day, except Ricky. It was time to go sleep a few hours so that we may return!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Anaheim's 3rd Temporary Disney Park...D23 Expo

There's been two Disney Parks in California's Orange County for a while. But since 2009, every two years, the Walt Disney Company adds a "third gate" to the roster. The Disney fans and the curious visitors come in great numbers to the D23 Expo. 

It's Donald and Mickey!

My fiancĂ© and friends looked forward to this event for months! As the dates became closer and the event schedules were posted, a little anxiety overcame us. How would we see these interesting panels (Q&A's) and all the pavilions? The morning of Day 1 had three popular presentations happening at once. Leaving our house at 6 AM, our group decided to get in line for the arena. In there the Disney Animation Studios presentation would take place. 

After being pointed in many different directions, we finally found the end of the arena's queue. Getting in line for this meant although the showroom floor opened before the presentation, we weren't allowed to take turns and wander. The issue we had with that was the staff also wouldn't grant us "StagePass" for future panels. StagePass was thought up as a type of FastPass for the Expo. One can pick up a pass at certain times, then show up to a panel 15 minutes before it begins. Good idea, but we'd have to wait until later to take advantage of it. 

As expected, the staff at the arena had us all power down and seal up our iPhones and cameras (lack of photos). Disney didn't want any leaks or photos going out. Since this event was two weeks ago, I'm sure the "play by play" has been written many times. 

I had the most annoying person sitting in front of me. I've never seen the film Cape Fear, but I am a fan of The Simpsons "Cape Feare" with Sideshow Bob as the villain. This man was laughing, in the theater, just like him. As he sat in front of me, he'd laugh and toss his head so far back that it was basically in my crotch. I'd say his laugh even sounded extremely fake. The people that took notice of his obnoxiousness were just as annoyed. I tell ya, like Ricky (dressed as Paperman on this day) and Eric say, "Everything can be referenced back to The Simpsons!"

The highlight of the Animation Studios presentation was Idina Menzel's performance of the song "Let It Go". We had sat there almost four hours, but this rejuvenated us. There was dramatic lighting and it even snowed. I know there are a few short YouTube clips out there of her singing. This performance definitely caught my interest and now I'm actually looking forward to the film. 

During the load out of the arena we reconnected with humanity via our phones. Goodness gracious it was after 1 PM!! No wonder our stomachs were growling! 

Since lunch was just your basic American fast food eatery, we'll just bypass all that. Lets jump to stuff with photos, now that we can take them!

Our friends Miley and Greg (dressed as Goofy) were only there for one day. We wanted them to see as much as possible, so we visited the Imagineering Pavilion. They really out did themselves this year. I'm sure most of you read the details elsewhere, so throughout these D23 posts, I'll cover our specific highlights. 

I don't know if anyone has mentioned it, but the background music here was great. The Spaceship Earth score was used as well as other WDW music. The Imagineers even threw in De La Terre a la Lune :Space Mountain from Disneyland Paris. 

The grandiose music set a fine tone for the 60 year tribute to Imagineering. There was an excitement as people shuffled from each exhibit to the other. The pavilion had the exhibits set on the outer area and one could cross to make his way around to them. Although it was fun, it was a little cramped. But, I'm glad it was clogged with models such as this....A concept model for Spaceship Earth. To name a few, the Ice Age area is visible as well as Ancient Rome. 

Our group was also excited to see another WDW model of The Land. This is a model of the pavilion that never came to fruition. Even though it didn't end up this way, with a hot air balloon attraction, I feel it's still successful. As a fan of Disney history, I had only seen drawings of this in books. It was amazing and surprising to finally see this!

It was here one could find the Adventure Trading Company booth. Visitors could go on small adventures within the Expo to receive a prize called a Juju (they became popular). Our friend Joey was running the activity, but we didn't find him this day. We'd find him another day. 

Time was going quickly, on account of us all having fun! Another important exhibit at the Expo was the Archives. As we made our way toward the second floor, we came across a few cosplay participants. 

Hey it's the Gibson Girl!!

"Dig a little Deeper!"

The queue for the Archives was quite lengthy, but why wouldn't it be? Inside there were costumes from Once Upon a Time, Mary Poppins, Return to Oz, and Oz the Great and Powerful. We also came across rare props not seen by the public. 

Loving this film, Return to Oz, since its theatrical release, had me so excited to see Tik Tok! Here's Eric, as Mickey Mouse, having a little fun. 

It's a shame "Red" won't be on the show Once Upon a Time anymore. She had a cool storyline. 

Mrs. Banks' "Votes for Women" dress and sash. 

Boy were our legs hurting by now! We tried to make it into Disney's Broadway performance, but we were denied! The theater in use was to capacity. We walked around a bit more before heading out for the day. 

Miley posing with Olaf, from Frozen. 

Duffy!! iced mocha!!

I'll close the day out with our photo with Izma! I feel there was so much more we did, this post is already long! There are two more days to recount, so be on the lookout! 

Did anyone reading this go? What were your dislikes or likes from the event?