Archive for April, 2012

Mr. Toad’s Wild Film

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

According to recent news reports, Disney is in pre-production on a feature film based on the Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride attraction. Details are scant at this time, but a few facts are known:

  • Mr. Toad will be a live-action film with some animated elements, much like Song of the South, Cool World, and other features kids can’t see.
  • In a tribute to the original attraction, many sets and some secondary characters will be painted on plywood.
  • The title character will be played by Steve Buscemi, possibly with Danny DeVito costarring as Mole.
  • This will be Disney’s shortest feature film, with a run time of less than three minutes.
  • Despite the short run time, the film’s script is more than four hundred pages long and consists almost entirely of descriptions of action and sight gags.
  • Disney is currently actively searching for an author to create a novelization based on the attraction, since this is the only Fantasyland attraction that was not (so far as anyone can recall) based on a novel or traditional story.
  • Simultaneous world premiers were scheduled for after-hours events at Disneyland and The Magic Kingdom, but the Florida event was canceled due to its intense popularity.

If the film is a success, it will be part of a string of successful movies based on Disneyland attractions that includes Pirates of the Caribbean, Third Man on the Matterhorn, That Darn Carrousel, and Stop “it’s a small world” — I want to get off.

Disneyland Tour: Refreshment Corner hyperactive pianist

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Disneyland Tour: Coca-Cola Corner hyperactive pianist

The inclusion of a “high-speed” piano player outside the Coca-Cola-sponsored Refreshment Corner is an excellent example of what Imagineers call “placemaking.” Speedy piano playing and high-sugar caffeinated beverages go together like uncontrollable twitching and adrenalin.

Rod “Rod the Pianist” Miller played piano here every day without fail or vacation for some three decades. His inhumanly accelerated ivory tinkling was so hard on pianos that they had to be tuned every night and completely replaced every three days. The friction generated during a particularly intense performance of “Maple Leaf Rag” was enough that after the piece’s conclusion, you could actually fry an egg on the piano strings (an act which goes a long way toward explaining why the pianos had to be replaced so often).

This location is also used for “The Mad Chair Party” — a daily game of Musical Chairs hosted by Alice in Wonderland (shown above doing her imitation of the Alice in Wonderland fashion doll). The game is great fun for kids, but is really just an excuse to get a bunch of guests to clean up the restaurant’s seating area without being paid.

You will notice that the piano player is dressed in typical turn-of-the-twentieth-century pianist garb. All Main Street cast members are required to dress and act as if they are people from another age. In fact, this is where the phrase “to act one’s age” comes from.

Coming up next: Penny Arcade faux entrance

Disneyland Tour: Refreshment Corner

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Disneyland Tour: Coca-Cola Corner

Back in 1955, Disneyland’s Main Street was a lot more like a small town and a lot less like a highly themed shopping mall. In addition to the souvenir shops, there was a pharmacy, a piano store, an open-air flower market, a knacker, a glass blower, a book store, and — on the corner pictured here — a mortuary shop, where you could order a real, hand-made coffin or have your photo take in one of the floor models to “see what you’d look like dead.”

In 1956, Coroner’s Corner (as the shop was whimsically if inaccurately named) obtained Coca-Cola as a sponsor. Guests who didn’t have the money for a fancy funeral or felt that they were a good distance from death’s door could drop 15 cents for a cold bottle of Coke from the ice-filled coffin at the back of the shop.

Funeral-supply sales were slow on Main Street, but the soda business was booming, so in late 1956 Coroner’s Corner closed briefly, opening again in January of the next year as Coca-Cola Corner, a soda-themed hotdog eatery. The name was later changed to Refreshment Corner, reflecting Disney’s fear of having to change signs should they ever lose Coca-Cola’s sponsorship.

Cast members working at Refreshment Corner know that there is a secret room beneath the location that’s been permanently sealed, due to its been filled with disturbing and/or haunted funary leftovers.

Attentive guests visiting Refreshment Corner will notice that Imagineers left a subtle reminder of the location’s former occupant in its decoration. If you spot it, leave a note in the comments!

Coming up next: Refreshment Corner hyperactive pianist

Live-action cartoon remakes

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Disney recently announced that it would, following in the tradition of Wicked and Hook, be producing a series of live-action films in which famous Disney animated features are retold from the point of view of the villain. The first film, Maleficent, will star Angelina Jolie as the title character in 2014, followed in 2015 with Rosie O’Donnell in Ursula.

Rumor has it that Dane Cook is in negotiations to star in Pixar’s first live-action film, Sid’s Story. If the series proves popular, Sid will be followed in short order by Gaston, Man Was in the Forest, Chernabog, Who Crazied Judge Doom, Avoiding Darla, The Oogie Before Christmas, Bert, Stepsisters, and Grumpy.


Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Today, the cast members working on the redesign of the entrance to DCA’s Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney/MGM’s Hollywood Studio Backlot) removed the two elephant statues that stood atop the land’s entrance pedestals. These elephants, inspired by the family-friendly classic movie Intolerance (catch the 3D director’s cut in theaters now) were deemed intolerable and tagged for elimination.

The Hollywood section of DCA has seen many changes over the years, from its origins as the home of Superstar Limo (“Almost half as good as that old mine-train ride at Knotts, but not quite” — Los Angeles Times), to its years as “home of an outdoor stage, an indoor stage, another indoor stage but with a movie screen, a closed attraction, a closed show, a closed restaurant, another closed restaurant, and a neat attraction with no visible external signage,” to its glorious current incarnation as a vibrant, expanded land with a neat night-time party venue, tracks for a miniature railroad (opening in June),  and only two large seldom-used buildings. We’re sure even more wonderful changes are in store!

As for the elephants, they are being sent across the plaza to Disneyland for a quick (and well needed) dip in the elephant bathing pool. After they have been given time to dry, they will be painted pink and shipped to Florida a decoration for the Magic Kingdom’s new “double Dumbo” attraction.

Disneyland Tour: Candy Palace sweets

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Disneyland Tour: Candy Palace sweets

Within the Candy Palace can be found a variety of delights, such as salt-water taffy, fudge, chocolate, things covered in chocolate, fudge covered in things, and children covered in chocolate, fudge, and taffy. Goofy Candy Company products — famous for their wacky shapes, strange sizes, and/or unusual ingredients (e.g., hot pepper, bamboo sugar, and, before 1997, fiberglass) — can also often be found here. In the center of the Palace is the refrigerated case pictured above, from which can be purchased hand-dipped deep-fried Twinkies, chocolate-covered turkey legs, and cakes that appear to have been baked within cups.

A variety of traditional treats is also available, such as jellied beans, jawbreakers large and strong enough to actually fulfill the promise of their name, and a lovely display of colorful giant suckers, many of which were present on Disneyland’s opening day in 1955.

The Candy Palace’s quality standards are impeccably high, having earned a seven-star rating from the American Society for Dentist Job Security. Any treat that shows the slightest flaw or damage and isn’t peanut brittle is immediately removed from public view and taken back stage where it is labeled for donation to pre-diabetic orphans. From its earliest days, the Candy Palace was known for its flawlessly executed fresh chocolate mint patties, the perfection and quality of which gave birth to the popular phrase “in mint condition.”

One final notable thing about the sweets in the Candy Palace is that none of the delightful treats made on premises have any calories (in Disney parlance, both dieting and obesity are “bad show”).

Coming up next: Refreshment Corner

Disneyland Tour: Candy Palace chef

Monday, April 9th, 2012

It’s been a couple of days since our last post in the Disneyland Tour series, so we thought we’d get back into the game. We’ll try posting two or three of these a week and see if our readers are still interested in having their Disney knowledge expanded in this way.

Besides, we spent a whole day taking hundreds of photos of the park and they’re hogging space on our hard drive so we need to move them onto the internet to make more room for our collection of “Release Song of the South” petitions and Brave fanfic.

Disneyland Tour: Candy Palace

One of the most popular features of the Candy Palace is its large display window, through which chefs and chefettes can be seen hand-crafting various handsome confections by hand with their hands. In the early days of the park, the cast members in this display area were not trained cooks but rather actors who had auditioned to play the part of candy makers (or “Mousekonfectionteers,” as Walt Disney called them). They were massively popular — entertaining guests with wacky pantomime and occasional pie- or molten-sugar-throwing antics — but had to be removed when the health department pointed out that their creations tended to be low on tastiness but high on insects, hair, and foreign objects.

The Candy Palace is particularly busy during the holidays when the candymasters make large candy canes the old fashioned way, with cane sugar and actual peppered mints. Guests who want to purchase one of these fabulous creations must line up on Main Street on certain designated “cane crafting” days hours before the Palace’s opening, stand in the order dictated by their numbered wristband, take the “True Spirit of Christmas” pledge, and be prepared to fork over $20 for their allotment of a single cane. The high price has led to an inordinate number of candy-cane speculators who stand in line (or hire others to stand in line for them) in the hope of making a big profit by selling their candy cane on eBay for perhaps ten or twenty times its original price.

When the candy cane tradition first started, the treats were not in such short supply. Instead, Disney hired extra chefs to work in the Candy Palace’s window to increase output. But as demand rose, the number of chefs increased to the point that the display window became known as something of a minty, Christmassy, sweatshop of claustrophobic delights, leading to a change in policy.

Trivia: If you look carefully at this photo, you can plainly see that the Candy Palace’s window — like all windows on Main Street — is made from special glass that does not reverse reflections. It’s magical!

Coming up next: Candy Palace sweets

Disneyland: April Fool’s Day 2012

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

In the press release put out late this afternoon, Disneyland management admitted that they had “not completely thought through” their plan to announce to hundreds of thousands of Disneyland annual passholders that they were invited to a special preview of Cars Land on Sunday, April 1. “We really didn’t think so many people would show up,” said Maintenance Worker (formerly Park Manager) Belle Bottoms, commenting on closure of the Mickey and Friends lot, which reached capacity shortly after 8 a.m. Sunday morning.

“When they did show up,” Bottoms continued, “we knew that they would be disappointed to find Cars Land still under construction, but that they would laugh along with us at the silly April Fools joke and then be pleasantly delighted when we announced that the Disney California Adventure entrance plaza really was open months earlier than anticipated and was ready for their shopping and trolley-riding enjoyment.”

Unfortunately, annual passholders — some of whom had camped out all night to be the first into what they thought was the secret Cars Land preview opening — did not take the news well. As of this morning, the DCA entrance plaza has once again been put behind construction walls, with an anticipated date of mid-June for completion of repairing the riot damage.

2012 DisneyLies Photo Trivia Quiz

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Welcome to the official 2012 DisneyLies Photo Trivia Quiz!

Many of our readers think that they are the cream of Disney fandom — experts in mouse ears, if you will. Well, this quiz will separate the Ludwigs from the Donalds and the Dopey’s from the Docs!

Below are 18 photos of a detail from some Disney-related place. Each was taken in a Disney theme park or resort in the United States, but other than that, we aren’t giving you a single clue. We won’t even tell you when they were taken!

Think you can place them all? Share your answers in the comments and compare scores with your friends!

  • If you don’t get any right, you’re a Disney-mal failure!
  • Score 1-10 and you’re Cinderella before the ball!
  • Score 11-15 and you’re in the Emperor’s groove!
  • Score 16-18 and you’re a rockin’ Rocketeer!
  • Score 19+ and you need to take remedial math!

Good luck!

Animal Kingdom birdBlizzard BeachColumbiaEpcot France pavilionHotel gazeboIndiana JonesEpcot Italy pavilionDisneyland Jungle CruiseLiving SeasMagic Kingdom Jungle CruiseMagic Kingdom Main StreetMagic Kingdom PiratesGrand Floridian monorailDisneyland castle swanDisneyland PiratesDisneyland Skull RockStorybook Land Canal BoatsTom Sawyer Island