Sunday, August 31, 2014

Duffy the Disney Bear

Who? This character did not originate in a Disney movie or television show. Rather he started out as an uninspired marketing gimmick for Disney theme parks. The Japanese were the first to really take to the teddy bear character and now he's present at meet-and-greets at a number of the theme parks. Me, I'm underwhelmed, but Duffy isn't marketed to me.

A sign from Epcot announcing times to meet Duffy the Disney Bear

Note:  Check out my earlier posts about Disney World to see things more interesting than Duffy.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Epcot 2014

Epcot consists of two major areas. Future World purports to be a window into coming technology. Innoventions is the centerpiece of this mission, but it is quite juvenile and there is no longer anything here of even remote interest to me. Most of my photographs are from World Showcase, a permanent World's Fair.

Not much is new in Epcot, and my pictures are not very comprehensive this time around. Here is “Tomb Warriors: Guardian Spirits of Ancient China” from the Chinese pavilion. This is a small-scale reproduction of the real thing which I nevertheless found impressive.

China:  “Tomb Warriors: Guardian Spirits of Ancient China”

China:  “Tomb Warriors: Guardian Spirits of Ancient China”

China:  “Tomb Warriors: Guardian Spirits of Ancient China”

China:  “Tomb Warriors: Guardian Spirits of Ancient China”

France: decorative hedge

Les Chefs de France

Chefs de France menu

Minnie mug

Mickey mug
Mickey's Really Swell Diner Coffee. Of course it's really swell, just like the old pie-eyed Mickey.

Maelstrom in Norway

Globe for IllumiNations

Spaceship Earth in Future World as seen from across the World Showcase Lagoon

Journey into Imagination. We arrived too late for this show two years running.

Landscaping in Future World


IllumiNations Fireworks
Video added September 1, 2014

IllumiNations Globe
Video added September 1, 2014

Note:  More posts about Walt Disney World are available here for your viewing pleasure.


Friday, August 29, 2014

My Entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #439

Here is my entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #439 for August 25, 2014. The cartoon is by Corey Pandolph.

"Two out of three customers can't tell beer from WD-40."

I had difficulty with this one. There were other captions I considered for a while, but eventually they got derailed.
"It's the end of the drinking car as we know it."
"There's no one here from that line."
"I thought I'd heard every line."
"We need a designated conductor."

"We need a designated engineer."
"I'm serving WD-40, but they don't know the difference."

"The derailment was really hard on them."
"The drinking cars are soon to be sleeping cars."
"They've gone off-line."
"That's right, they need a ride home."
"They come from the wrong side of the tracks."

September 1, 2014 Update:  The Finalists

September 15, 2014 Update:  Winning Caption

Note:  Last week Matthew Diffee drew a gigantic cat and I submitted a caption I thought was just purr-fect, only the contest judges didn't agree. It seems they never do. See the pet-friendly results for Contest #438.

Corey Pandolph's previous Caption Contest drawing was a scene right out of my daily commute with the possible exception of a giant squid. No wonder I couldn't come up with a decent caption. See the results for Contest #417.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Winter Summerland Miniature Golf

As part of our Disney World vacation package, we received a complimentary round of miniature golf at the resort. It's a win-win deal. We get to play miniature golf for free on an inventive and well-maintained course. The resort keeps us entertained and out of the crowded theme parks for a few hours.

We chose miniature golf at Winter Summerland, which has a year-round Christmas theme. There are actually two courses back-to-back: a snow-covered winter course and a sandy summer course. We played the summer course, because it was less crowded and had no wait. Disney guests learn to avoid lines when they can.

Santa, a man for all seasons

The Summer Course in Winter Summerland includes candy canes.

Note:  If you seek more posts about golf, look no further.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Our Disney Drink

In Disney World as elsewhere, a beverage can be enhanced by its presentation. Whatever your favorite drink, couldn't it be improved if served with a Mickey Mouse Silly Straw? The very special soda shown here is by no means the norm even at Cítricos in the Grand Floridian. It accompanied a wonderful dinner there celebrating a teenager's birthday.

Note:  There's more to read about Disney World.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Magic Kingdom 2014

Two weeks ago my family and I arrived for a summer vacation week in Walt Disney World. Since our return home I've been sharing some of my photos here on the blog. I'm an indifferent photographer at best, and these days I no longer even carry a camera, just an iPhone. It is to be sure a great mobile phone but admittedly not the best camera phone out there. Still, I can't be expected to resist taking pictures in Walt Disney World--lots of them--especially in the Magic Kingdom, justifiably called "the happiest place on earth." In fact, within a few seconds of entering Main Street, USA, the gateway to the Magic Kingdom, I found myself affirming at the top of my lungs, "Walt, I'm home!" Remarkably, my family stayed with me.

Buying a balloon on Main Street, USA never seemed a great idea to me, but young children may have different thoughts. I suppose a distinctive balloon tied to a handlebar could be a reasonable way to identify a stroller. As you can see, you may now purchase a balloon featuring characters from "Frozen" (2013), Disney's latest megahit. Guests staying in Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge should be aware that these balloons are not permitted there as they pose a hazard to the animals.

Trolley tracks are still a feature of Main Street, USA, although we didn't notice any trolleys this time around. Heavy crowds would make a trolley impractical here much of the day.

Cinderella Castle is the focal point of the park. In front of it on the right you can see Partners, Blaine Gibson's statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse.

Quite a bit of construction is currently going on between Main Street, USA and Cinderella Castle, which may seem odd as this area consisted only of landscaping.

The hub around Cinderella Castle is being expanded, hence the construction barriers. There will be more viewing areas for the light show and fireworks. Who's afraid of a big,  bad construction wall?

Hungry yet? That red pavement color looks great, but it was actually chosen to increase food consumption in the park.

No castle is complete without a moat.

Br'er Fox, Br'er Bear, and Br'er Rabbit welcome you to Splash Mountain.

Br'er Rabbit is featured on the sign over the Briar Patch store.

The Notorious Banjo Brothers and Bob provide musical entertainment in Frontierland.

The Haunted Mansion remains one of my favorite attractions.

A heron awaits the Liberty Belle.

The Liberty Belle passes by as the heron holds its pose.

Here is Big Thunder Mountain.

The Liberty Belle is in port.

Who wouldn't want to go along on Peter Pan's Flight? Pixie dust, please.
The Pinocchio Village Haus restaurant. These days, there aren't all that many reminders of Pinocchio in the park.

This is a good example of how the Disney parks create illusions. The window box below contains real flowers that you can walk right up to and see. The window boxes above are out of reach and contain artificial flowers that require much less maintenance.

No trip to Fantasyland is complete without a carousel ride.
The heart of Fantasyland
Image added August 28, 2014

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a recent, very popular addition to Fantasyland. The 75 minute stand-by wait time is actually one of the shorter ones we saw here.

Disney's attention to ornamentation remains exquisite. This column is in Fantasyland.

Rapunzel's Tower is based on "Tangled" (2010).

Horseshoe imprints in the ground are another example of the park's attention to detail.

Heron on the water.

Letter holders. Are they luxury or necessity?

Backscratchers.  How do you choose just one?

Hmm.  It looks as if Disney has dropped the apostrophe in Br'er Bear.

Splash Mountain signage. Almost no one exiting the ride gets to see this image of Br'er Fox.

It seems to me that a greater proportion of rides are being allocated to FastPass+ holders. The result is longer lines at FastPass+ entrances, as seen here at Space Mountain. The FastPass+ lines do move pretty quickly though. Meanwhile, on the stand-by lines, a small change in the number of riders can result in large, sudden changes in the wait times.

This store in Tomorrowland has been there for as long as I can remember. It is one of the few Shakespeare references I'm aware of in Disney World.

An inspirational sign graces a Tomorrowland construction barrier.

With the Astro Orbiter closed for extensive refurbishment, Tomorrowland seems more starkly retro than ever.

Usually Disney conceals its renovations inside the park, but there is no hiding this large a construction area. The view is from the Tomorrowland entrance towards Casey's Corner across Main Street, USA. I find it very troubling that after all these years Disney Imagineers don't run their plans by me before beginning construction.
The large construction site will become an expanded hub in front of Cinderella Castle
Image added August 29, 2014

Cinderella Castle. At the top right, Tinkerbell's zip line is visible against the sky. Every evening Tinkerbell starts the fireworks show from here.

Jungle Cruise signage, another example of Disney's great attention to detail.

From the Jungle Cruise ride exit, a list of missing persons and missing boats. Let me know if you find anyone.

An animatronic dog faithfully guards the jailhouse key in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Inspirational T-shirt for sale at the Pirates of the Caribbean concession, $24.95.

A darkly humorous T-shirt is for sale at the Pirates of the Caribbean concession.

Baseballs on sale promote Tim Burton's "Nightmare Before Christmas" (19993). I'm in stitches.

Casey's Corner at the castle end of Main Street, USA.

Casey's Corner with its statues of Casey at the Bat on either side of the door.

The Contemporary Hotel has an elevated walkway leading to the Bay Lake Tower, left, an eyesore.

Here's a fine example of what can happen when the Imagineers fail to consult me. The sleek lines of the Contemporary Hotel, center, are blighted by the ugly Bay Lake Tower, left, alongside it.

Note:  If you haven't guessed, I have more posts about Walt Disney World.