Disney’s Forgotten American Classics

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I am so excited to share that my friend, Paul Poole who has a wealth of knowledge regarding Disney Classic films and shorts will be contributing some posts to the blog.

 He has some great information about the history of Disney cinema and I am happy to welcome him to the Winnie the Stew team!

I know you will enjoy Paul’s posts as much as I do and I encourage feedback for future postings!

– Cara “Winnie”

Disney Classics

As a child lucky enough to have the Disney Channel back in the early 80’s, I’ve come to feel very fortunate. You see, I remember a time before The Little Mermaid. Back then without loads of new merchandise driven animated “Masterpieces” and “Classics”, we were treated to multiple decades worth of Disney History. Vintage Mickey Mouse Club, Zorro and of course lots of vintage theatrical shorts. Y’know, DISNEY CARTOONS! On the Disney Channel? Yeah, hard to believe! The point of this, hopefully the first of many articles on the rich history of a Disney long before little girls (and boys….and their parents) went around singing “Let It Go” at the tops of their lungs, is to share some Disney magic!

This first rambling feature will focus on Walt Disney’s “American Legends” type of output. Just the cartoons. I could be here all day discussing Zorro, Davey Crockett, Swamp Fox and the Reverend Dr. Syn. Since these cartoons don’t package quite as nicely as the Mickey, Donald and Goofy shorts, they can easily fly under the radar of the casual Disney fan. This is a shame since they’re a lot of fun!

Note: If you are interested in adding any of the following animated classics to your home DVD library, click on the title to be redirected to Amazon.

CASEY AT THE BAT (MAKE MINE MUSIC): Based on the 1888 poem written by Ernest Thayer, this 1946 short tells the classic tale of Mudville’s favorite ball player. A segment in the “Make Mine Music” film, and narrated by the distinctive voice of Jerry Colonna, this great old timey baseball story evokes Walt’s love of  “Mainstreet U.S.A.”. To say anymore would spoil too much.

Casey at Bat posted to YouTube by Reykjavik1992

JOHNNY APPLESEED (MELODY TIME): Walt Disney’s 11th animated film, “Melody Time” was released in 1948. The next two shorts I’ll discuss called this anthology film, home. Johnny Appleseed tells the story of real life, John Chapman. John Chapman traveled the frontier planting apple trees with only himself, a pot for a hat and his bible. Quite a delightful story with good messages for us all. What sets Johnny apart from the others on this list? He’s no obvious hero. He’s small, lanky, timid and makes a point to never hurt an animal. A historical side-note… The type of apple the real life Johnny planted were generally considered too bitter for good eating. They did however make fantastic hard ciders and adult beverages. Admit it, Johnny Appleseed just got a lot cooler in your book. He brought booze to the pioneers!

Johnny Appleseed posted to YouTube by Disney Educational Productions

PECOS BILL (MELODY TIME): Also appearing in Melody Time, Pecos Bill tells the story of a man who was, “quite a cowboy down in Texas. And the western Superman to say the least…”. A raucous, fun tale told and sung by Roy Rogers and the Sons of The Pioneers. An orphan raised by coyote’s, Bill grows up to be truly the West’s Superman. From riding tornadoes to creating the Gulf Of Mexico, Bill has done it all. Alongside his best friend and trusty steed Widowmaker, Bill easily stands shoulder to shoulder with any other hero of tall tales and legends. That is until a beautiful catfish-riding cowgirl comes between Bill and his jealous horse.

Sadly this is no longer available in an uncensored form. What’s so offensive to Disney? The portrayal of Native Americans? No, that appears to be OK. Bill’s enthusiastic love of the second amendment? No, lots of gun-play in this. So what then? In a 1948 cartoon about an 1800’s cowboy, Pecos Bill has the nerve to…gasp…smoke. Yep. One verse of the song has been completely removed showing him casually rolling a cigarette while lassoing a tornado. They’ve even digitally removed a smoke from a later scene leaving the casual viewer wondering why Bill’s mouth looks “off”. Seriously. That’s right kids, your parents may smoke. Someone in your family may smoke, but by golly a cowboy from over a hundred years ago MUST be censored. Unedited versions can be found easily on YouTube.

Pecos Bill posted to YouTube by George Harper

THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD: As J. Thaddeus Toad’s story is very British, we’ll leave his segment of this 1949 film for another time. The Disney studios’ 11th feature film adapts Washington Irving’s classic, “Legend Of Sleepy Hollow” into animated form. Probably the most well-known of these, this classic became a Halloween regular on TV. You know the story… schoolteacher Ichabod Crane’s late-night encounter with the legendary Headless Horseman, who frighteningly turns out to be all too real for the cowardly pedagogue. Narrated, voiced and sung by the great Bing Crosby, this one has a lot of fans. Every one of them well deserved. If you haven’t seen this, good lord! Do so! If it’s been a while, treat yourself to another viewing.

THE BRAVE ENGINEER: Jerry Colonna narrates and sings this 1950 cartoon about the legendary railroad engineer, Casey Jones. Determination is the theme of this classic short, as nothing, not outlaws, floods,cows or other trains will stop the famous Casey Jones from delivering the western mail on time (Almost)!

The Brave Engineer posted to YouTube by Nuri Gokcek

BEN AND ME: Based upon the book of the same name, Ben and Me tells the story of how the famous Ben Franklin met the not at all famous, Amos Mouse. The interesting part of this 1953 cartoon is that Amos Mouse is actually the one responsible for all kinds of Ben’s famous inventions! Of particular note to classic Disney fans, listen for Disney veterans Sterling Holloway as the voice of Amos, and Hans Conreid as Thomas Jefferson. You know them better as Winnie The Pooh and Captain Hook.

Ben and Me posted to YouTube by Nikesh Gada

CASEY BATS AGAIN: Disney returned to Mudville in 1954. Taking up shortly after “Casey At The Bat”, this time it’s up to Casey’s daughters to redeem his name. If you’re a fan of A League Of Their Own, you may enjoy the women’s ball team’s story. For every guy who kept trying for a son, this one’s for you. Casey ends up with enough daughters to fill a team roster, with himself as manager of course!

Casey Bats Again Posted to YouTube by ToonDiz

PAUL BUNYAN: This 1958 short tells the story of the mightiest lumberjack of them all. Voiced by Thurl Ravenscoft, well known for voicing Tony The Tiger and singing, “You’re a mean one Mr. Grinch”, Paul’s voice looms large over the countryside, much like his “Sixty-three axe handles high” stature. From infancy to retirement, you’ll learn his story. Like an American Hercules, Paul creates mountains, straightens rivers, clears thousands of miles from land and all with the help of his giant blue ox, Babe. Paul seems unstoppable until he comes face to face with the one thing none of us can stand in the way of; progress.

Paul Bunyan posted to YouTube by Daniboi80

THE SAGA OF WINDWAGON SMITH: The Sons Of The Pioneers who sang their way through Pecos Bill earlier, returned in 1961 to lend their voices to the tale of Windwagon Smith. This western tale tells of a seaman who decides to ply his trade across the great plains. Building a cross between a wagon and a wooden tall ship and intending to haul cargo faster without horses, Smith sets sail out of Kansas, and into legend.

The Saga of Windwagon Smith posted to YouTube by ToonDiz

One of the common themes that I find so entertaining about these is the fun musical narration and quick wit about so many of them. Snappy banter and classic themes make these fun for all ages, but especially with older kids and parents who tire of Mickey’s sweetness and optimism. They are also all very American. This isn’t a bad thing. For the most part all the Disney Princesses are very European tales. Not surprising coming from their European roots. One thing all kids should learn at an early age is that for most of us, our ancestors came to the United States because they were fed up with Monarchies. In all the Princess films we’re shown that Kings and Queens are nice to have. I guess Snow White would disagree, but I think you get my point. This country was founded by people who couldn’t have disagreed more.

Mickey, Donald and Goofy are very classic “American”. Optimism, a dash of irreverence and sarcasm, hard-working, and very “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps” characters. In that sense, Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan would feel right at home. It’s important to know that Disney tried all kinds of things. While I love most classic Disney, a step away from the intersection of Mickey Mouse and Cinderella can be a very rewarding journey. Don’t be afraid to seek out Disney’s Old West, Colonial America, or mid-western ballparks. You might just fall in love with Disney (and the USA) all over again.

– Paul Poole

 

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Build Your Disney Side Decal

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Weeks ago, Disney announced via Facebook that they were offering free family decals as a way to promote the “Show Your Disney Side” campaign.

Guests can log in to the Build Your Disney Side website and customize a decal.

The website allows guest to choose their background; which consists of the famous icons at each theme park. You then select your family members (pets too) and add accessories and clothing.

Once finished, you are given the option to have a decal mailed within 4-6 weeks. Guests can also save the picture and use it on social media profiles.

After weeks of patiently waiting, our sticker arrived yesterday. I was like Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” when he got the decoder pin…so excited that I was tearing open the envelope right in the driveway!

The contents were a personalized marketing brochure highlighting the Show Your Disney side campaign and it encourages vacation planning…along with ride suggestions that may be of interest.

The decal itself is not at all what I imagined. It is more like a bumper sticker, so guests cannot place it on the rear window of their car. I can’t say that I was disappointed (because it was free) but it just wasn’t what I expected.

I had some car magnets that were purchased from a craft store a while back and ended up cutting the decal and sticking it to the magnet. This way, if we decide to display it on our car, it can be easily removed when needed.

If you have not created a Build Your Disney Side family decal yet, I would highly recommend the process.
It is a lot of fun and makes for a fantastic Facebook profile picture!

Frozen Inspires Norway Tourism

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Not only has “Frozen” sparked a merchandise frenzy, it has also increased travel to the homeland of Anna and Elsa.

Norway is a beautiful country that boasts bustling cities as well as indescribably scenic landscapes in the fjord regions.

Time Magazine reports that tourism is up 37% from 2013 and tour operators are seeing a 40% sales increase.

Disney is also taking advantage of the Frozen fury by introducing Adventures By Disney tours that are inspired by the film.

Tourists will be treated to a rafting trip, folk dancing and tours of sites that inspired the film. You can get more details on the experience here.

Those who do not want to make the trek across the Atlantic can always visit the Norway pavilion at Epcot.

The Maelstrom ride allows guest a tiny glimpse into the history and folk lore of the country.

The Puffins Roost shop offers wares that include keepsakes, quality Norwegian sweaters and even trolls!

Dine at the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall and experience a character meet and greet inside a castle with cathedral ceilings and Norwegian inspired cuisine.

Will “Frozen” inspire any of your upcoming vacation plans?

Can I Take Snacks Into The Disney Parks?

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Disney allows guests to bring in snacks, meals and beverages into the parks and this option can be helpful to the wallet. Even if you are taking advantage of the Disney Dining Plan, you may still want to consider taking snacks into the parks for when those hunger pains hit between meals.

The rules of the park state that you must be able to carry your bags; so no coolers with wheels are permitted. Guests who bring in their lunches may wish to rent a locker for the day so they don’t have to carry it around the park. Lockers are available inside the parks for a fee of $9-$12. You will have unlimited use of your locker for that day, and can come back as often as you wish. There is a $5 deposit required for the locker key that will be refunded once your key is returned.

What should you bring into the park?

Do you have items that you want to keep cool? Bring along a cooler bag. They are easy to carry and many fold easily for travel. If you have a fridge in your hotel room, freeze some water bottles overnight and use them as your ice packs. Once you have enjoyed your lunch, you then have some water to enjoy for the rest of your day.

A family of 4 could easily pay $12 or more for one round of soft drinks or other beverages in the parks, so you may want to consider bringing your own. Be sure that any milk products or perishable juices are appropriately cooled with ice packs or those frozen water bottles…..because it gets hot pretty quickly in those parks.

Snacks that cannot melt in the heat are your best choice for a Disney Day. Goldfish crackers, pretzels, cereal and popcorn are just some of my suggestions. If a member of your party has a food allergy, bring some snacks along that they can eat. While Disney has some incredible options for all types of dietary requirements, the items may be on the other side of the park when you are ready to grab a quick bite and run to a ride.

When bringing lunch into the park, make it a simple meal. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are easy and can be prepared quickly in the morning. If you do not wish to make your own lunch, you could visit the quick service restaurant at your Disney resort hotel, pick up a few sandwiches, salads or snacks and put them in the cooler for later.

Bringing in your own food and drinks can be a significant money saver. During our last trip, my husband and I brought our own water and soda into each park and saved about $60 for the week…..money that was used for souvenirs at the end of our visit!

Money saving while in the most magical place is always a welcome treat!

Happy Star Wars Day

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Every year on May the 4th, fans of the Star Wars franchise celebrate their love of the series.

The Disney Store locations throughout the US are getting in on the fun today and offering some family friendly events.

The first 100 guests at each store on May the 4th will receive a limited edition Star Wars Pin. New Star Wars merchandise will be also be introduced, including talking action figures.

Children 3 and up can participate in some “Ways of the Force” activities that include:

* Lightsaber training
* How to use the Force for good like Obi-Wan
* Assist Luke Skywalker in defeating the Death Star on an interactive wall
* Participate in a medal ceremony

These are all fun activities in which Yoda would definitely approve.

 
If you cannot make it to a Disney Store, here are some ways that you can celebrate at home:

* Put on some music from the film and have a lightsaber battle. If you do not have the lightsaber toys, pool noodles work as excellent stand ins.

* Costume fashion show! Dress as your favorite characters and have an in-home parade!

* Host a movie marathon. Make some popcorn and dim the lights for an evening of pure Star Wars magic!

*Get out those Star Wars Lego kits and build your own movie set. Film some scenes with your phone and create your family’s own version of a Lego Star Wars movie!

* Support your local comic book stores. Most are holding their own May the 4th events today. Check to see if there is one near you and have a family day.

 

Wishing you the very happiest May the 4th.

 

 

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Opening Date Announced

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The wait is almost over for the opening of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Fantasyland. This long anticipated ride experience will be open to the public on May 28th, per Tom Staggs, the Chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts.

The Magic Kingdom hosted a media preview yesterday to dedicate the ride and give the press an opportunity to enjoy the latest attraction.

Theme Park Review posted a point of view video (POV) to YouTube and it is outstanding! Click here to go to YouTube to watch their video and listen to the commentary on the second ride through.

This is so very exciting.
Thinking it may be time to book our next trip and sing a little ditty…

Heigh Ho…Heigh Ho
It’s time to plan, I know
Let’s book a trip and get there quick
Heigh Ho…Heigh Ho…Heigh Ho…Heigh Ho!

Brrrrr…Is It Getting Colder In Here?

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The popular Anna and Elsa dresses that are found at the Walt Disney World Resort.

The popular Anna and Elsa dresses that are found at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Frozen Merchandise Update:

The Disney Store has released an update regarding Frozen merchandise and let’s just say that the product shortage is far from being over.

Per the statement located on the Disney Store’s website, Frozen products will go on sale as soon as shipments arrive to their stores; with dresses and dolls being the exception. These popular items will be sold ONLY on Saturday mornings during store openings.

Here is where things get really crazy…the Elsa dresses will be sold via a lottery.
Guests waiting in line on Saturday mornings will be talked through the process by a cast member and their names will be placed into a lottery drawing.
The drawings will be held per dress size and guests can only enter their names into one drawing.

Please note: There is a 2 Frozen item per guest limit for certain merchandise; however the Elsa dresses will be limited to 1 per customer both online and in stores.

Disney also stated that more merchandise will be available in July and August. Wow, that’s a long wait!

Here are some things you can do to better your chances at getting an Elsa dress if you do not wish to go to the Disney Store for the lottery:

Follow The Disney Store on Facebook and Twitter.
Set your Twitter to send Push Notifications to your phone so that you get new Tweets from The Disney Store. They have been posting messages every time new Frozen merchandise is restocked to the online store. The messages will say things like, “Select Disney favorites are back in stock.”

If you see one of those Tweets, drop everything and immediately go to the Disney Store’s website. The Elsa dresses sell out in mere minutes. To double your chances, have a family member also monitor The Disney Store’s Tweets who can log in quickly and purchase a dress.

Do you have a friend or friend of a friend making a trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland? Ask them to pick up a dress for you while they are vacationing. The dresses are stocked more frequently in the parks and cast members have been terrific about giving advice on what stores may have the dresses on site.

But most of all…
Think warm thoughts. It’s almost Summertime and hopefully this wintery merchandise freeze will all be over soon.

One Night In Celebration

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Celebration Towne Center

Celebration Towne Center


Celebration, Florida is the adorable planned Disney community located just outside the Walt Disney World Resort.

The community is sectioned off into villages with varying architecture styles and includes common areas and park space. The downtown area of Celebration is frequented by both locals and tourists and offers shopping, dining and special events like fireworks, festivals and street markets. The charm of Celebration is the small town feel and it is common to see families riding bikes and locals chatting with neighbors in the town square.

During our last visit to the Walt Disney World Resort, we decided to dine in Celebration and spend the evening walking around and taking in the sights. We went on a busy Sunday night and were pleasantly surprised to see a bustling downtown location.

We walked around for a while and checked out the wait times at the various restaurants, and decided to enjoy some Japanese fare at Seito. The restaurant itself has a pleasant ambiance and the servers are kind and attentive. Although the place was incredibly busy, we felt like the scene was laid back and relaxing. The food was decent and the wine and sake menus were impressive for a touristy locale.

Seito Located in Celebration.

Seito Located in Celebration.

After dinner we looked around the shops and happened upon Kilwin’s, a gem of a sweet shop. The store offers chocolates, fudge and ice cream with the option of freshly made waffle cones….the aroma of which you could smell down the street. We grabbed some bowls of Kilwin’s special recipe ice cream and walked across the street to a little park with a view of the downtown Celebration lake. The town pumps in ambient music to some of the common areas….so we sat there and completely relaxed and enjoyed the entire scene.

Grab some sweet treats.

Grab some sweet treats.

Celebration is a fantastic option for guests who want to enjoy a night out away from the hustle of the parks. It is the perfect date night location due to the variety of restaurants, bar scenes and the walkability of the town center.

If you opt to spend an evening dining in Celebration, reservations are recommended since the wait times for the restaurants can exceed several hours for the more popular locations.

The Celebration Towne Center website gives more detailed information about the restaurants and stores within the community and can be found here.

Dconstructed Is Pure Disney Remix Magic

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Photo: Walt Disney Records The Walt Disney Company

Photo: Walt Disney Records
The Walt Disney Company


Just a spoonful of dance music makes the adrenaline go up…in a most delightful way!

Disney has just released, “DCONSTRUCTED”, a remix album of some of the most beloved movie music of yesterday and today.
The songs have been re-worked and given an edge that we would not normally expect from the family-friendly company. These are definitely not the type of tunes that you hear on Radio Disney or the Disney Channel.

“DCONSTRUCTED”, is working out at the gym….blasting your car stereo…or going for a long run type of music. It is a big welcome surprise all rolled into 14 entertaining tracks.

Some of the top electronica and house mix-masters in the business including Avicii, Kaskade and Armin Van Buuren were added to the album and brought new life to the music.

While some of the songs on the album are good old fashioned remixes; a few are industrial trance tracks and violent dubstep remixes that could easily be played in a trendy New York nightclub.

“The Muppet Show” theme song and “Fall” from Tron Legacy are two of my favorites from this album because of their edgy take on the iconic music.
“The Main Street Electrical Parade” song from the parks also makes an appearance and does not disappoint.

Here is a list of the tracks:

1. “Circle of Life” (Mat Zo Remix) – Carmen Twillie & Lebo M.
2. “Derezzed” (So Amazing Mix) Remixed by Avicii featuring Negin – Daft Punk
3. “Let It Go” (Armin Van Buuren Remix) – Idina Menzel
4. “Roar” (Yogi Remix) – Axwell & Sebastian Ingrosso
5. “Partysaurus Overflow” – BT & Au5
6. “UNKLE Reconstruction” (U.N.K.L.E.) – Michael Giacchino
7. “Fall” (Japanese Popstars Remix) – Daft Punk
8. “The Muppet Show Theme” (Shy Kidx Remix) – The Muppets
9. “Hey Pluto!” (Stonebridge Remix)– Stonebridge
10. “Once Upon a Dream” (Trion Remix) – Bill Shirley & Mary Costa
11. “Main Street Electrical Parade” (Extended Mix) – Shinichi Osawa
12. “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” (Alfred Montejano Hyper Remix) – Randy Newman
13. “Baby Mine” (House Version) – Kaskade
14. “Pineapple Princess” (Kinsey Moore Remix) – Annette Funicello

If you are training for a runDisney marathon or are a fan of electronica dance music,
I highly recommend, “DCONSTRUCTED”.

It is one of those albums that you can listen to from the first track to the last and for $10.00…even Scrooge McDuck would approve this purchase!

You can purchase, “DCONSTRUCTED” through iTunes or Amazon.

Keep calm and dance on!