Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Disney 30 Day Challenge - Favorite Castle

For my third day of my challenge, the TM selected “Favorite Castle” for me to write about...

I guess I've never really thought about it much, and it's certainly vague...

Do they mean my favorite Disney Parks Castle, which is pretty limiting. There's Sleeping Beauty's castle in Disneyland (which I've just seen in person for the first time), and there's Cinderella's castle at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World. You can also find Sleeping Beauty's castle in Paris and Hong Kong, and Cinderella's in Tokyo.

I suppose I could expand the park castles to include the new ones featured in the Fantasyland expansion, but they are hardly official.

I think they MUST mean just in general, from the Disney Universe “Favorite Castle”, because otherwise, you're either a fan of tradition (Sleeping Beauty) or scale (Cinderella).

So let's think about the candidates... Obviously the ones we've already discussed exist in the movies as well..

Other possible castle choices are
Prince Adam's(The Beast) castle in Beauty and the Beast
Prince Eric's castle in The Little Mermaid
The Sultan's Palace in Aladdin
Rapunzel's parents' castle in Tangled
Castle from The Sword in the Stone
Castle from Snow White
I'm sure there are others I'm not thinking of, but really... how many of them played major roles in the stories?

So, I guess my criteria is two-fold...

1) Which of the castles played a major part, or was even a major setting in the movie it's set in?
The clear answer and front runner to this is The Beast's Castle from Beauty and the Beast. That castle was amazing! It was vast, and had crazy rooms and dungeons, and a huge amount of the action takes place there, AND! It was enchanted.

2) Which is the most architecturally interesting? 

For me, it's a toss-up. First, we have Eric's castle from The Little Mermaid:


Eric's castle is a pretty darn different. It doesn't rely on the height and the impressive spires and towers of many of the other castles. It's still got the size you look for in a castle, but it's a castle built on a cliff by the ocean, and I feel like it's one of the few castles I always wanted to explore when I watched as a kid. It just seems cool. By the way.. does anyone know where The Little Mermaid takes place? Eric has an American accent. There are British accents elsewhere. Sebastian the crab has a Crab accent. Ursula sounds like a drag queen..

The other candidate is The Sultan's Palace in Aladdin:


I admit that I'm a sucker for this style of architecture. In fact, if I had all the money in the world, I'd probably build a mansion with a lot of Middle-Eastern accent to it. I love tile, I love the minarets, I love the fountains. It just seems awesome. I love how so much of it is open air. I love the amazingly high ceilings. It's pretty tough to beat...

So... The winner for me, provides the best combination of story and style, and... for that, I have to go with:


The Beast's Castle. It's got that sort of cool, woodland feel to it. I love how it just seems totally endless. Like there are whole sections of the castle where people (or Candelabras) forgot they existed at all. The towers are impossibly tall, and the spans connecting them are really cool.  When you factor in the huge role it plays in the story... It's gotta be the Beast.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Going to The Promised Land; Part One

One of the first things I thought when the Tofu Muchacha finally told me where we were moving, after months of uncertainty, was “California? That's where Disneyland is!!”

I'm not kidding. She was there, and she can attest.

You see... As many of you know if you've been reading this blog is that I've been to Walt Disney World in Florida many times. I consider it my favorite place. My happy place. My... ehem.. “Laughing Place”. Still, I'd never been to Disneyland. Before moving here, I'd only been to California twice at all, and one of those was for work, and the other was on the Great Piano Adventure (LINK). It was always my secret shame as a Disney Fan. A Disney lunatic who'd never been to where it all started? To some degree I felt like a fraud.

At the same time, I was longing to go there. To see, first hand, the places Walt Disney himself conceived. To walk the roads he walked. To touch the doors he touched. More than anything in my fandom of "Disney", Walt was my favorite part. He's inspired me with his creations for my whole life, and I always felt incomplete as an acolyte without having visited, witness, his great creation. The movies can come to you. Disneyland is a pilgrimage.

Sounds dramatic, probably, and it is. I take this very seriously.

I moved to California on December 7th and from that point I started plotting my first trip down the state to Disneyland.

First off... I should mention for those of you not from California... Sacramento and Anaheim are not close. It's 415 miles from my house to Disneyland. That's a SOLID drive. Even going 70 the whole way (fat chance), it's 6 hours, and that's not taking into account the god-awful Los Angeles traffic. Google Maps calls it 6 and a half hours. Every person I spoke to estimated closer to 8. For whatever reason that 90 minute difference just seems like a lot to me. It's the difference between driving from Cincinnati to Detroit and Cincinnati to Atlanta. Detroit just seems closer. (All together: “That's because it is!”)

So my point is.. whether the drive is six or eight hours, it's not a “go on a whim for an afternoon” kind of distance. It does require at least a little planning, and basically a whole day for travel if you're driving.

It seemed that all my weekends for the first month were accounted for from the start. Christmas, then visitors, and birding, and fun. All fun, don't get me wrong. I love having visitors, and I love my new (slightly) cheaper hobby of birding. Heck... I haven't even had a chance to set up my workshop yet. It's just been busy. Then, the TM's job presented me with an opportunity to make myself scarce. She's this work event, you see, and she warned me that she'd be swamped for a whole weekend with planning.


Now, obviously, I'd rather have had the TM with me. In fact, she's been to Disneyland a bunch of times, though not for a while, so it'd be cool to have been on the other end of the “Park Knowledge” thing for once. Still, this was a great chance for me to go, and stay out of her hair while she worked. (Since we don't really know anyone, we've been spending a TON of time together, which is awesome, but we are also both proponents of doing our own thing from time to time.

Now that the weekend was determined, I set about planning the actual trip. I went on the Disney Parks website and priced out a stay of 2 days and it was mind-bogglingly expensive for a 2 night trip for one person in the middle of slow season. Yikes. Anyway, I ended up getting a decent deal on a hotel just off property and I bought my park hoppers separately.

Then came the big decision... On a whim, I decided to check out the cost of flights, and I found a round trip into Santa Ana (Orange County/John Wayne Airport) for about what gas would have cost me for the full round trip. I realized that with cabs to and from the airport, and airport parking, I'd still be a little in the hole, but the extra time I'd have at Disneyland was the key to my decision. I'd get into DL at 5:30pm instead of 11:30pm on Thursday, and I could stay until 5pm on Saturday instead of having to leave a noon. That's 11 additional hours in the parks. A whole extra day.

It was a no brainer. Done.

So I now knew my whole itinerary.

Fly in. Grab a few hours on Thursday night in the park. Do Disneyland the entire next day, and do California Adventure on Saturday before my flight, still having from 9am to 4pm at the park before having to leave for the airport. Sounded amazing to me.

This is the plan. And I will say that it was a good one. The first night I got there and flew into Santa Ana as the Sun was setting over Disneyland. I could see the Matterhorn from my window on the plane, and I was getting antsy already. Fortunately the lady next to me was nice.

One thing I assumed the entire time was that it'd be sunny and warm. I was wrong. It rained pretty much the entire time I was there. Turns out, this was possibly my biggest advantage. Disneyland, far more than WDW is often crowded with local teens with too much time on their hands. Nothing keeps the hoards of emo, skinny-jeaned children at bay like pending rain. The place was just about empty. It was amazing.

My goal for my trip was to start with the rides that don't exist at Walt Disney World, and then after checking those off, moving on toward old favorites.

Later this week, Part 2.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Disney 30 Day Challenge - Favorite Prince

For my 2nd entry in the "Disney 30 Day Challenge", the Tofu Muchacha randomly selected #3, "Favorite Prince"

I can't say that I'm super excited about this one, even though maybe I should be since the Princesses get all the pub. The World of Animation is a Ladies World, and the Princes are usually not much more than props to dispense magical kisses, to appear out of the mist after being turned back to human, to have giant statues made in their likenesses, or to you know... ride around on horses.

There aren't truly that many interesting princes from which to choose, but finally I came up with a couple of princes I could consider...

1) Simba.
Let's face it... He's petulant, he gets his father killed (sort of), he runs off into hiding, he leaves his friends and family and his mother to a life of slavery at the hands of his evil uncle (also a Prince, I suppose). Even with all that, though, he's still kinda awesome. He grows up, becomes a man, and ultimately saves everyone. All the while singing some of the catchiest tunes, and having a super cool entourage. Simba is a strong candidate.

2) Hercules
Maybe it's a stretch, because he's more a "god" than a "prince", but he IS the son of Zeus, the king of the gods, so doesn't that make him a prince? Anyway... Hercules is one of the great, un-sung Disney movies of all time. If it had come out BEFORE The Little Mermaid, people would have been blown away, but since it came out in the wake of all those great early to mid-90s classics, it sort of gets forgotten. I'll likely revisit this later, but Hercules also sings one of the great male songs in the entirety of the Disney songbook in "Go the Distance". It's a phenomenal song. He also gets points, in my book, for never truly straying from being a "good guy". He also willingly makes one of the great sacrifices in all of the Disneysphere by offering up his own soul to save Meg's.

3) Aladdin
The true "diamond in the rough". He's a pretty great character, and definitely the... you know... title character. I have a soft spot for Aladdin, because he's a dreamer. He wasn't born a prince, and he certainly makes some misguided choices along the way, but he's brave, and resourceful, and looks out for the little guy (who doesn't love when Aladdin gives some of that bread to those kids?). He also has to fight Jafar, and while he's pretty much unsuccessful at that, he does give it a good try, and trying does matter. Also? He's got a Monkey friend, which is awesome. And a Genie. That's pretty cool too...

So... who's my favorite prince?

Gotta go with Hercules. 

(Incidentally, the Disney Wiki does not list Hercules OR Simba as "official" princes, but I don't care.)
I should mention the Honorable Mention goes to Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid. Not because he does much of anything (besides stab Ursula with a ship), but because in the long-running show at Disney World, the actor playing Eric has the best paid acting gig of all time. He runs out... says a couple of words and kisses the girl. Over and over.

I won't get another one of these done until Sunday, when I get back from Disneyland.

Oh yeah... did I mention? I'm going to Disneyland!!!!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Disney 30 Day Challenge - Favorite Romantic Moment

A friend on Facebook posted this (originally found on Pinterest):

I haven't been able to blog much for the past few months, since I was in the process of moving to a new side of the country, seeking a job, and just generally being crazed.

So, here I go... I'm going to write about one of these each day... I may miss a day, but I promise I will hit ALL of these.

I couldn't decide which to do first, so I had the Tofu Muchacha decide by picking a number between 1 and 30.  She chose #15, so...

#15.. My Favorite Romantic Moment

I'm sure that some other people have a whole slew of romantic Disney moments they've always loved, but "romance" hasn't ever really been a focus for me in my Disney viewing.

That said, there are definitely some great moment, and often underscored by great songs. I think I'd have a tough time thinking of a great romantic moment without one of the classic songs attached. There's "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" from The Lion King.  "Kiss the Girl" from The Little Mermaid. "I See the Light" from Tangled (I could write a whole blog about how I love Tangled, and how I believe it'll grow in popularity). Sure, you can also reference some of the classics... Prince Phillip waking Aurora with a kiss, or the prince waking Snow White, or Bambi... chewing cud. (The Tofu Muchacha picked Lady and Tramp eating the spaghetti... also valid).

All of those moments are fantastic, but really is there any greater romantic moment in Disney history than this sequence from 'Up'?

I mean... right?

The romance of Ellie and Carl is one of the greatest sequences in the history of animation. It's almost impossible to think about 'Up' without thinking about this scene, which takes us through the entire lives of Ellie and Carl, where we see their love and their losses, and their dreams. We even see the pain Carl has when he loses his love to sickness and death. It doesn't sound all that romantic when I describe it, but there's such beauty and love in this sequence... it's pretty much perfect.

Best of all? The scene perfectly sets up how the audience views Carl throughout the rest of the movie. When he's cranky and bitter and holds on to his home too hard, we don't think "man... that old dude is cranky as heck." We think "if only they knew! he can't let go of his Ellieeeeee!!!" And then we all cry and become messes in the dark movie theaters.

It's possible that happened to me.

Don't even get me started with what happened when Carl gave Russell the "Grape Soda" badge at the end. I mean, good lord.

All of those moments, and that whole journey and growth for Carl... they are all set up by this sequence. It's incredibly romantic, yes, but integral to the plot, too... So it wins for me.

Tomorrow? Who knows. The Muchacha hasn't given me a number yet.