Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Give Me More Music, Music Music...

By Beth Skarp

If I were to ask you to name just ONE Disney song to start singing right now, what popular or perhaps not so popular song would you start singing and possibly dancing to? 

My song of choice was Let's Go Fly a Kite” from “Mary Poppins”, but chances are you may or may not have been thinking of “Let It Go” from “Frozen."

What makes for a great Disney movie? Is it the story line, the animation, or the music?
I am beginning to think that perhaps the music is what makes the movie. 

I wanted to know which Disney movie holds the title to date for having the most music associated with it. Without doing an online search, can you name which movie, a Disney classic, holds this title? I had no idea until I looked online and discovered the movie was “Alice in Wonderland”. Now here is a real test of a Disney lover...name a song from this movie!

Did you think of an “Alice in Wonderland” song? Chances are, you came up with “The UnBirthday Song” , “I'm Late” or the opening theme song of “Alice in Wonderland”. Those were the only songs I could recall when thinking about the film.  

In all, thirty two songs were originally composed for “Alice in Wonderland”, but only twenty songs made the cut for the official movie soundtrack. Why do you suppose Walt Disney himself went to such great lengths to compose so many songs of such a wide variety for a single movie? 

The answer is quite simple actually. When Reverend Charles Dogdson, who used the pen name of Lewis Carroll (the author we know of for writing “Alice in Wonderland”) wrote these stories, they were intended to be read as short little snippets or bed time stories. Carroll had a vivid imagination and created many characters within his various stories. Many of the characters that Carroll created did not readily lend themselves from one story line to the next. Simply stated, there was no real continuity to Carroll's stories in his books. This posed a bit of a problem for Walt and his production team, since the works of Carroll were so unlike other well known author that Walt used as template of sorts for this earlier movies such as “Snow White." 

Walt presented the works of Lewis Carroll to his animators and writers, sharing his ideas for the possibility of a making a feature film. Using a bit of musical as well as animated whimsy, the story line was able to segue from one thought to another without the fear of being too disjointed or choppy.

Walt had a great pool of musicians from which he could draw for musical talent. Bob Hilliard & Sammy Fain collaborated on the scores to two early 1950’s Walt Disney animated features. Fain was the composer while Hilliard tended to be the lyricist. Another talented composer, Sammy Cahn, teamed up with Bob Hilliard & Sammy Fain for the music to "Your Mother and Mine" and "Second Star to the Right." While these songs were nicely composed and had memorable lyrics, they did not flow with the story line for “Alice in Wonderland.” 

“Peter Pan” was in production during the same time “Alice in Wonderland” was also in production. Not wanting to waste great talent or good music, the songs of "Your Mother and Mine" and "Second Star to the Right" were recycled into Peter Pan with more memorable results.

In fact, “Beyond the Laughing Sky” was the song originally suggested for Alice to sing during the opening scenes of the movie. Instead, the theme song, or the song we hear Alice singing in the very beginning of the movies became instead “In a World of My Own."

As one reads the twenty songs listed as the official soundtrack for the movie, it is a little bit easy to wonder if in fact you actually heard the various musical numbers or not. Some of the songs are a mere jingle of only a few seconds. The ones you actually remember are catchy tunes that you remember for the music as well as the sometimes silly words.

The film soundtrack was first released on vinyl record back on July 28, 1951. I may be one of the few who actually still has a copy of this record someplace in our collection. The song titles for the record included the following titles:

“Alice in Wonderland”--sung by the Jud Conlon Chorus and the Mellomen

“In a World of My Own”--sung by Alice

“I'm Late"—sung by the White Rabbit

“The Sailor's Hornpipe”--sung by the Dodo

“The Caucus Race”--sung by the Dodo and Animals

“How Do You Do”--sung by Tweedledee and Tweedledum

“Shake Hands”--sung by Tweedledee and Tweedledum 

“The Walrus and the Carpenter”--sung by Tweedledee and Tweedledum

“Old Father William”--sung by Tweedledee and Tweedledum

“Smoke the Blighter Out”--sung by the Dodo and the White Rabbit 

“All in the Golden Afternoon”--sung by The Flowers and Alice 

“A-E-I-O-U”--sung by the Caterpillar 

“Twas Brillig”--sung by the Cheshire Cat 

“The UnBirthday Song”--sung by the Mad Hater, March Hare, and Alice

“Very Good Advice”--sung by Alice 

“Painting the Roses Red”--performed by the Playing Cards but sung by the Mellomen and Alice 

“Who's Been Painting My Roses Red?” (Reprise)--sung by The Queen of Hearts and the Playing Cards (Mellomen) 

“The UnBirthday Song”--sung by the Mad Hatter, March Hare, The Queen of Hearts, and the Playing Cards (Mellomen) 

“The Caucus Race” (Reprise)--sung by The Entire Cast minus Alice 

“Alice in Wonderland” (Reprise)--sung by the Jud Conlon Chorus and the Mellomen 

If you wish to count them, you will find that exactly twenty titles appear on the official listing for the soundtrack.
After doing a bit of research, I did manage to find the listing of the songs written for the film but not used for one reason or another. For your enjoyment, here is that listing:

“Beyond the Laughing Sky”. This was replaced with “In a World of My Own”--sung by Alice. “Beyond the Laughing Sky” was later turned into “The Second Star to the Right” and is a featured song in “Peter Pan.”

“Dream Caravan”--sung by The Caterpillar. This song was replaced by “A-E-I-O-U” 

“I'm Odd”--sung by the Cheshire Cat. This song was replaced with “Twas Brillig” 

“Beware the Jabberwock—sung by Stan Freberg, Daws Butler and the Rhythmaires. Since the character of the Jabberwock was deleted from the film, the song was deleted as well.

“So They Say”--sung by Alice 

“If You'll Believe in Me”--sung by the Lion and the Unicorn which were deleted characters.

“Beautiful Soup”--sung by the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon. This song was set to the tune of “Blue Danube” and had already been used by the Walt Disney Company in two cartoons recently released at the time (Jungle Rhythm and Night). The character and the song was removed from this film.

“Everything Has A Useness—meant for the Caterpillar to sing to Alice while attempting to explain the usefulness of everything, or in this case the use of the mushroom. 

“Curiosity”--no one seems to know why this song was written or why it was deleted 

“Humpty Dumpty” 

“Speak Roughly To Your Little Boy”--this was from the original works of Lewis Carroll depicting a grotesque character from one of the stories. Walt felt the music and the character may be too inappropriate for young children, including his own daughters Sharon and Diane Disney. Because of this, both the character and music was deleted 

“Will You Join The Dance”  

If you were counting, you will notice that an even dozen or 12 songs were written that were not used for “Alice in Wonderland”. This brought the total number of songs composed to thirty two.

One of biggest criticisms for “Alice in Wonderland” was that it was in essence a series of short cartoons or story sketches loosely pieced together. Walt himself felt he had let his audiences down, that this was a feature that truly had no heart to it. Walt was not a huge fan of this particular movie, and almost didn't release the film for theaters.

However, movie goers tended to love the characters and the whimsical music associated with “Alice in Wonderland”. This fact alone is probably what has helped keep “Alice in Wonderland” a beloved Disney Classic.




Monday, September 29, 2014

Walt Disney World Rides and Attractions: Musts, Maybes, and Passes

By Nick

A few months ago, my friend Lisa Green posted an article on her terrific Living a Disney Life Blog about breaking down rides into Must Do, Will Do, and Once and Done categories. She gave me her blessing to use (steal) the topic.

My wife and I are extremely fortunate to be able to visit Walt Disney World each year, sometimes multiple times.

For this reason, we don't feel the need to tour the parks "Commando Style," getting to the parks at opening and staying all day hitting every ride, attraction, parade and show. Don't get me wrong, we usually do get to parks for rope drop, but we usually leave mid-day, sometimes going to a different park in the evening, sometimes opting to not return to a park at all.

Still, there are a few rides we MUST do on each visit to a particular park.


Magic Kingdom

  • Haunted Mansion
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Peter Pan's Flight
  • Dumbo
  • Carousel of Progress 

  • Spaceship Earth
  • Soarin'
  • Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros
  • Journey Into Imagination with Figment
Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Toy Story Midway Mania
  • Rock’n’ Roller Coaster
  • Muppet*Vision 3D
  • Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream
Animal Kingdom

  • Expedition Everest (For my wife. Sadly, this gives me severe motion sickness.)
  • Kilimanjaro Safari
  • Dinosaur
This next group consists of rides we enjoy, but if time is a consideration, we don't need to experience on each and every visit.


Magic Kingdom
  • It’s a Small World
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Space Mountain
  • Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor
  • Splash Mountain
  • Big Thunder Mountain
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Prince Charming Regal Carousel
  • Enchanted Tiki Room
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Hall of Presidents
  • Walt Disney World Railroad
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle
  • Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • The Barnstormer
  • Liberty Square Riverboat
  • Tom Sawyer Island
  • Maelstrom (Closing very soon. Makes me wish we'd ridden it on our last trip.)
  • O Canada
  • Reflections of China
  • Impressions de France
  • Living with the Land
  • Ellen’s Energy Adventure
  • The American Adventure
  • Turtle Talk with Crush
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • Innoventions attractions
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • The Magic of Disney Animation
  • The Great Movie Ride
  • Star Tours (This used to be a must, but because of motion sickness, it's a maybe now.)
Animal Kingdom
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug
  • Primeval Whirl (Barbie likes it, I cannot ride it however. Yep, motion sickness!)
  • Flights of Wonder
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Pangani Forrest Exploration Trail
  • Maharajah Jungle Trek
  • Rafiki’s Planet Watch and Affection Section
  • Wildlife Express Train
  • Finding Nemo – The Musical
The following rides are those I won't do again, or perhaps will only do under duress. A couple, shocking as it may seem, I've never done! These I feel deserve a bit of an explanation.


Magic Kingdom
  • Magic Carpets of Aladdin (Never been on it.)
  • Mad Tea Party (motion sickness)
  • Tomorrowland Speedway (Too long a line. Always!)
  • Stitch’s Great Escape ( I can't say we'll NEVER do this again. Here's the thing, this was the first ever attraction Barbie and I experienced together at Walt Disney World, so it has a special place in my heart. We just haven't been on it since that first visit in September of 2006)
  • Astro Orbiter (motion sickness)
  • Country Bear Jamboree (Barbie hates this attraction. See this article for the reason why)
  • Swiss Family Tree House
  • Mission: Space (motion sickness)
  • Test Track (I don't like the redo but would ride this with friends.)
  • Captain EO (Another one I'd do with friends.)
  • The Circle of Life
  • Studio Backlot Tour (Just closed. It was a very sad shadow of it's former self that we only did once on our first trip.)
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Lights, Motors, Action – Extreme Stunt Show (Barbie literally fell asleep at this show.)
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid
  • Beauty and the Beast- Live on Stage (Every trip I say we are going to see this, and then it's too hot out, or something else comes up. We'll get there eventually.)
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular (Would probably go again, but have only seen once. And I was one of the audience members chosen to be in it!)
Animal Kingdom
  • TriceraTop Spin (motion sickness)
  • Kali River Rapids (Only ever rode it once, but would go on with friends)
That's my list. What would your list look like?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Disney MGM Studios Mickey Mouse Figurine

By Nick

I found this really nice Mickey Mouse figurine at a local yard sale yesterday.

As soon as I saw it, with a price tag of $.75 no less, it was sold. I don't have any figurines in my collection with Disney MGM Studios on them, in fact, the only item I had from the time Disney's Hollywood Studios was Disney MGM was a really great Tee Shirt, long since worn to literally tatters, which I bought back in 1992.

As soon as I got this piece home, I washed it off, as it was rather dusty, and for the first time looked at the bottom.

Copyright Disney 1987, Japan. Why I find that very interesting is because Disney MGM Studios didn't officially open until May 1st, 1989.

If anyone has any idea where this figurine was originally sold, please let me know.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Mad Tea Party : Story Behind the Photo

by Nick

This is me on the Mad Tea Party at Walt Disney World.

Such a tame ride, right? Then why do I look like I'm screaming for my life?

There was a time I could ride any ride. In fact, I used to seek out the most extreme rides. I had season passes to our local Six Flags. I'd go on road trips to coaster parks, such as Cedar Point in Ohio.

But over the last few years, as I approached and entered my 40's, more and more rides started to have an adverse effect on me. Spinning rides, such as the Tea Party were the first to hit me. Within the last couple of years, it's become traveling backwards, such as on Expedition Everest, the TTA, and the Monorail. Now, as of just recently, it's motion simulator rides such as Mission Space, and, to my great dismay, Star Tours!

Are there any rides you can't ride due to motion sickness?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Favorite Food Friday: The Braised Pork at Be Our Guest

By Nick 

The Braised Pork, from the Be Our Guest restaurant's lunch menu in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, is slow-cooked pork with vegetables and bacon served with mashed potatoes and green beans jardiniere. It's also been added to the dinner menu, but I've only ever had the lunch portion. It's amazing. How amazing?

On our first lunch here in October of 2013, I wound up having to split it with Barbie because she loved it so much. On our trip in January of this year, it was on the top of must haves for both of us. And on our upcoming trip next month, we already have it ordered via FastPass+!

Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 6.57.13 AM

 Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 6.56.49 AM 

Have you eaten at Be Our Guest? What was your favorite food?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Walt Disney Water Parks Buttons and Guides

by Nick

I haven’t been to the Disney water parks in years, since the mid 90′s, in fact, which is when these buttons and brochures are from.

The first button is from my favorite of the 2 parks, Typhoon Lagoon.
Opened in 1989, it is the home of the World’s largest outdoor wave pool, which is just awesome. The lazy river is also wonderful.
Another thing I love about Typhoon Lagoon is the back story. I feel that the stories that Imagineering came up with for it’s attractions in the late 80′s and early 90′s were very strong. This, of course, may just be nostalgia, as it coincides with my earliest visits.

As the story goes, the park was created by a typhoon that wreaked havoc upon a formerly pristine tropical paradise. Ships, fishing gear and surfboards are strewn about where the storm flung them. The centerpiece of the park is “Miss Tilly,” a shrimp boat impaled upon a mountain named “Mount Mayday” that erupts a 50 foot geyser of water every half hour.
I’ve actually been lucky enough to be directly under this when it went off, a thrilling experience.

There are also many slides, which aren’t really my thing.


I only went to Blizzard Beach once. It wasn’t a bad park, but it was more of a water slide park. So given the choice between the 2, Typhoon wins hands down.
Opened in 1995, Blizzard Beach also has a fun, although, in my opinion, a bit forced, back story.
It seems a freak snowstorm hit the area, leading to the construction of Florida’s first ski resort. Naturally, the snow didn’t last long, leaving behind a collection of waterlogged but snow-less ski jumps and chair lifts. The failed resort was in the process of closing for good when an alligator was seen sliding down a flume and splashing into a pool of water, screaming “Yahoo!” Thus the “ski resort” was reborn as a water park, with the alligator, named Ice Gator (maybe they could have come up with something a little more original than that?) as the mascot.

Doing this post has really made me want to get back to Typhoon Lagoon, and I will hopefully get there on one of my future trips!