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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Will MyMagic+ Make Your Disney Vacation a Little More Magical?

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MyMagic+ Kit

MyMagic+ Kit

Are you a meticulous Disney vacation planner like me? Then you may absolutely LOVE the new MyMagic+ process of Disney vacationing.

Our next trip is scheduled for the Spring of 2014, and we just received our MyMagic+ starter kit in the mail.

The kit included the following:

  • An introduction leaflet to the packet
  • Personalized booklet with information about the process, planning tips and important dates for your trip. (In the photo, the little Mickey ears are strategically placed over our last name.)
  • USB Flash Drive
The flash drive lights up!

The flash drive lights up!

Upon plugging in the flash drive….my eyes widened as I watched that thing light up. The flash drive is reminiscent of the MyMagic+ Mickey icon that we will now see throughout the parks.

The flash drive takes you to a welcome video starring Edna Mode from “The Incredibles” and a knowledgable computer friend. Edna introduces viewers to the MagicBand; a bracelet that guests of the resort will be wearing throughout their vacation.

The MagicBand will serve as your Disney Resort room key, admission ticket, dining plan card, FastPass, and can be used to make purchases at onsite shops, food vendors and restaurants.

The second part of the welcome video takes viewers to the MyDisneyExperience website to begin planning. You will need to login with your established Disney.com username and password. If you do not have one, you can easily set it up through the link.

Once you are logged in, you will be shown instructions on how to link your hotel and dining reservations to the MagicBands. You will also have the option of selecting your MagicBand color and the name you wish to be printed on the bracelet in order to further personalize your experience.

Two months prior to your vacation, you are permitted to start making FastPass selections.
This is a newly introduced process that allows guests to select their FastPasses for each day of their vacation in the parks.

Currently, you are permitted 3 FastPasses daily:

1 FastPass for what they are calling a Tier 1 ride (rides that are the most sought after in the FastPass world)

and

2 FastPasses in a Tier 2 category (rides that are less crowded)

I am also hearing that you are only allowed to select FastPasses for one park each day…..so park hopping won’t grant additional passes.

This tier system is something new that Disney is trying since the FastPass selection system was causing FastPasses to be unavailable to non-MagicBand users. The FastPass method is constantly evolving until a solution is found that will be a positive experience for guests.

Draw-backs of MyMagic+

Errors and issues will arise during the trial stages of any new process or service. This testing phase lets Disney know what is currently working and what is not up to the standards that guests look to from the organization.

The process so far as been very smooth, with the exception of adding our dining reservations to MyMagic+. Even though I have my confirmation numbers, I was getting error codes from the site, telling me that the service was unavailable. After a few more tries, I was able to link the reservations to my name, but not to my husband’s MagicBand. I will try this again in a few weeks and if it is still unavailable, I am sure it can be easily corrected with a quick call to Disney.

The other issue that I can see as being an issue is the over planning. While I enjoy a creating a daily park plan to schedule which rides we go to and when to ensure we make the most of our day; scheduling a FastPass 2 months in advance takes away some of the spontaneity of the vacation. We have to make sure that there is enough time in between the FastPass and our dining reservations, for example. This process will take some additional planning, but it will be interesting to see how it all works out!

More to Come

I will know more about the MyMagic+ within the next coming months as we continue to plan and eventually make it to the resort. I can post more details as we go through this exciting new test phase.

What do you think of the new MyMagic+ process? Do you think this will enhance your Disney vacation?

Must See FREE Christmas Displays at Disney

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Tree outside Hollywood Studios.

Tree outside Hollywood Studios.

Holiday vacations at Disney really put guests into the spirit of the season. Many who vacation during this time of the year also purchase separate tickets to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party; an evening celebration with a themed parade and Christmas-inspired activities. This experience can get rather costly on top of the additional expense of the trip itself, so I have created a list of holiday displays that will not cost a thing…and will result in some great Disney memories!

Many guests of The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness go all out and decorate their sites with Christmas decorations.  These displays are sometimes really elaborate with lights, lawn ornaments and giant blow up Disney characters.  Plan an evening stroll with the family and remember to bring your camera!

The Gingerbread House at Disney’s Grand Floridian is a giant baked goods masterpiece! The house was made in an old Victorian style with love using 800 pounds of flour, 1050 pounds of honey and 600 pounds of sugar. While there, stop by the Grand Floridian Bake Shop to pick up your very own gingerbread house, cookies or special holiday ornaments. Yum!

During the holidays, Disney’s Festival of the Seasons takes over Downtown Disney. Store windows are adorned with holiday-themed displays and street performers enchant guests with carols and Christmas songs. Santa can be found in front of the World of Disney store from 12:00 PM- 10PM through Christmas Eve…and the best part….visits are free!

Are you having a meal at one of the restaurants found in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge? This hotel is arguably the most beautifully decorated during the holiday season.  Sit down on one of the chairs by the lobby fireplace and enjoy a few moments of cozy rest before your meal while viewing the towering trees, garlands and wreaths.

The lobby of your Disney hotel will also have a Christmas themed display. We stayed at Disney’s Dolphin resort several years back and were in awe of the giant Christmas tree in their lobby.  It was a welcome treat during our check-in process….we had something to view while waiting in a very long line.

Do you have any advice on free Disney holiday displays? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Disney Childcare Options

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View of the Walt Disney World Swan From the Dolphin Hotel

View of the Walt Disney World Swan From the Dolphin Hotel

Family vacations are a great time to reconnect, have some fun and unwind. They are also the perfect opportunity for Mom and Dad to have a little alone time or a date night within the Walt Disney World resort.
Children’s Activity Centers located at select resorts throughout Walt Disney World offer a supervised play environment for kids. The centers offer a range of activities including games, crafts, movie watching and even dining! This is a fantastic child care option because it allows your children an opportunity to make friends and have some fun while you are enjoying some quiet time.

The Details

The hours for the centers vary; with the majority being open from 5:30 PM- 12:00 midnight.

Children ages 3-12 are welcome (ages 4-12 for Camp Dolphin) and must be fully potty trained.

Kid-friendly dinners are included in the cost of care and parents can make dining selections upon checking into the center. There is also an evening snack offered at 10:00 PM for those staying into the later hours.

Children’s Activity Centers are located at the following resort hotels:

Simba’s Cubhouse at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Never Land Club at Disney’s Polynesian Resort
Cub’s Den at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Sandcastle Club at Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Camp Dolphin at Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel

While reservations are not required for most of the locations, except Camp Dolphin, they are highly recommended….especially during peak seasons.

What is the Cost?

The cost of childcare is $11.50 per hour/per child with a 2 hour minimum; Camp Dolphin is $10 per hour/per child with no minimum.

Free Childcare

If you dine at one of Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort’s signature restaurants, you can enjoy free childcare! For each adult entrée purchased at bluezoo, Il Mulino or Shula’s Steakhouse, one child will be admitted for 2 hours of complimentary childcare at Camp Dolphin.

What about a relaxing spa day with your sweetie? The Mandara Spa at the Dolphin resort boasts a wide range of salon and spa services. For each spa treatment booked that is 75 minutes in length or more, Camp Dolphin will admit one child for 2 hours.

Have you ever used one of Disney’s Children’s Activities Centers? Will you be planning a date night for your next trip?

 

Plan an In-Room Getaway

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Pop Century Resort Photo Credit: J. Kulak

Pop Century Resort
Photo Credit: J. Kulak


Disney is all fun; however there may be days that you just need to get away from the non-stop excitement. I usually try to plan meals for times when I know we will need a break, but there are moments that even the restaurants can be over-crowded and loud. Sometimes the best way to unwind and settle down is to step away from the magic and head back to the hotel.

How to plan an in-room getaway:

Dinner time– Plan to go back to your hotel in time for dinner. If you have the Disney Dining Plan, use your Quick Service dining credits for a meal at your hotel. You can even grab your dinner selections and take them back to your hotel room to eat picnic style or on your balcony if your room has one. Room service is another dining option…but this can be costly since it requires two Disney Dining credits. Ouch! In my opinion, room service is not worth spending two Table-service dining credits.

Entertainment- Bring a long some travel games that pack well like Go-Fish, Memory or Pictionary. You can also plan a simple craft or watch a Disney film on your laptop/tablet. Some hotels offer nightly activities that may include campfires, storytelling and family movie nights. Check with your hotel’s concierge upon check-in.
Many rooms afford excellent views of the parks’ fireworks. You can use your snack credits to purchase some sweet treats to bring back to your room and host your own Dessert and Fireworks viewing party.

Relax- Stop by the pool for a leisurely evening swim. Stroll the beautifully manicured grounds of your hotel resort. Visit one of Disney’s several spa locations and enjoy a massage or pedicure. Or, take advantage of your night in and get some much needed zzzzz’s so you can wake up refreshed for another Disney day!

Do you plan in-room getaways for your Disney vacations? Do you have any tips?

Disney Surprise!

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Let's Go!

Let’s Go!


Many of us have probably seen the videos online of the elaborate ways that parents tell their children that they are going on a Walt Disney World vacation. Some tape their child’s reaction as they reach that famous entry gate, others plan for a magical reveal at home. Surprise vacation announcements can be a fun part of your Disney Vacation planning process.

Here are some of my suggestions for a Magical Disney Vacation Announcement:

  • Have a “Foods That Are Shaped Like Mickey” dinner theme. Arrange your dinner foods in the iconic Mickey ears shape and listen to Disney tunes as you dine. For dessert, bring out a cake with writing that announces your upcoming trip.
  • Pick up your children from their activities or school with a car sign that reads, “We are going to Disney World!”
  • Write and mail an invitation to Walt Disney World from your child’s favorite Disney character.
  • Plan a treasure hunt in your backyard. Make a map with instructions and hide clues that will eventually communicate the big news.
  • On a dry erase board, reveal one word a day;
    Monday “We”
    Tuesday “are”
    Wednesday “going”
    Thursday “to”
    Friday “Disney!”
  • Order some personalized Mickey ears or customized t-shirt and leave them on the dining room table for a Good Morning surprise!
  • If you want to make your announcement on the day of your trip, lay out a Disney Princess dress or pirate outfit and explain the occasion for the fancy dress up.

You can even plan your vacation announcements around birthdays, holidays and special family events. However you decide to make your announcement, be sure to capture the moment on video so that you can enjoy it for years to come!

Have you ever surprised your family with a magical vacation announcement?

Free Customized Disney Park Maps

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Plan your Disney Day with your free customized map. Source: Disney.go.com

Plan your Disney Day with your free customized map.
Source: Disney.go.com

Did you know the Disney website has a fantastic mapping tool that helps with planning your days at the Walt Disney World Resort parks?

Knowing the layouts of each park is essential to ensure that you are getting the most out of each day of your Disney vacation. You can decide in advance which rides and experiences are right for you and your family and get to your selected dining experiences on time. By using Disney’s customized mapping tool, you are able to familiarize your family with the parks before you leave for your trip and get an incredible memento for free!

How does it work?

Click here to go to the Walt Disney World customized maps site and select Let’s Get Started. You will be asked to log in to your Disney account. If you do not have one, simply follow the instructions to set up a free account.

From there you will be given the option to select the ages of the members of your family for suggestions on age appropriate activities. Choose the rides and experiences that interest you and continue to follow the directions to highlight the places that you wish to visit. You will make these selections for each park and customize your trip.

At the end of your map planning session, you will be given the option to decide the theme of your maps; with the options being a classic fairytale style or a character theme. You can choose to have the maps mailed to your home, or print them out on your personal printer. The maps mailed from Disney are printed on a high quality paper and make a great scrapbook addition or could be framed when you return from your trip!  Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery if you select this option.

Once you receive your maps, review the layouts of each park and note the locations of restroom facilities, restaurants, rides and shows. We generally take our maps along with us on the trip to review before we leave the hotel room. Once we are in the parks, we reference the MyDisneyExperience app to locate everything we wish to see that day.

Knowing the layout of the parks can save a lot of time and get you to your destinations faster than you can say, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!”

Do you use the customized maps for your Disney vacations?

Cinderella’s Castle Holiday Ornament

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Cinderella's Castle Ornament

Are you looking for the perfect gift for your favorite Disney fan? Want to add some Disney magic to your holiday display? You may want to run…and I mean RUN….to your local Hallmark store and pick up the new Cinderella’s Castle ornament.

This little beauty is a model size of the iconic castle at Walt Disney World. Press the button on the side and, “When You Wish Upon a Star” plays while fireworks light up the background.

I am really impressed with this ornament…so much so…that I cannot stop pressing the button.  The sound quality is incredible and the fireworks are really something else.  This will delight any Disney fan, no matter their age!

The ornament retails for $24.95 and can be found in Hallmark retail stores. Unfortunately they are not available online though the Hallmark website. Be sure to call your local Hallmark store to make sure that it is still in stock. You can locate the closest Hallmark retailer by clicking here.

If you want to see the ornament in action, take a look at this YouTube clip:

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Gets Into the Holiday Spirit

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The PhotoPass location for the 2011 light display.

The PhotoPass location for the 2011 light display.

The Osborne family of Arkansas decorated their home every year and each season the display continued to grow. The family decided that the lights should be shared with the world and partnered with Disney to bring the magic to Hollywood Studios. The display was donated to the park in 1995 and has been a holiday favorite of Walt Disney World Resort guests.

This evening, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will get a little brighter with the 2013 premiere of The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights. Guests of the park will become immersed in twinkling lights that dance to the music of the season while strolling the Streets of America. Features of this holiday display include; a spinning globe, Santa and his sleigh and a carousel made entirely of lights that sits atop one of the buildings.

What to Know About the Lights:

The lights are turned on every evening around 6PM and are accessible until closing. Each night a ceremony occurs in which the “family of the day” is joined by Goofy to flip on the switch and light the Streets of America. This is generally a very crowded event so it is recommended that you get to the area 30 minutes prior in order to get a decent view.

If you prefer to stroll the display with more minimal crowds, wait at least an hour after the lighting ceremony. When the park has late evening Extra Magic Hours, take advantage of the time and view the lights with smaller crowds. You can find the Extra Magic Hours for the park through Disney’s calendar tool located here.

Holiday beverages including hot chocolate and cider can be found at vendors around the display…some holiday themed alcoholic options are also available throughout the season!

Looking for the perfect spot for a holiday photo of the family? The middle of the display offers a PhotoPass location with a backdrop of towering lit trees and toy soldiers. These photos make great holiday cards or can be framed as gifts for loved ones.

The newly introduced “Glow With the Show” ears are synced with the lights and can be purchased for $25 in the park. The ears are interactive with several shows including; “Fantasmic” at Hollywood Studios and both “Wishes” and “Celebrate the Magic” at the Magic Kingdom.

If you have never seen the Osborne Lights in person, I highly recommend the experience. It is a magical way to get into the holiday spirit…and Disney surely knows how to do the holidays!

Have you seen The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights?