Mousertainment Music: The Songs of the Disney Parks Attractions

Recently, the Disney world lost not only one of its longtime talented artists, but one of its most memorable park music contributors as well. X Atencio passed on September 10, 2017 at the age of 98. He was remarkable not only for being a Disney animator on works ranging from Fantasia to Mary Poppins, but for creating two of the most beloved Disney Parks attraction songs ever.

Sing along with me – “Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me!”

Or perhaps you prefer – “Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize!”

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X Atencio’s tribute window on Main Street U.S.A.

Yes, X was the man responsible for the classic songs we all love in both the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction as well as the Haunted Mansion. He also contributed lyrics for “Bear Band Serenade” in Country Bear Jamboree (still to this day a favorite show/attraction thanks to the humor and great songs, especially the one that tickles my funny bone the most: “All the Guys That Turn Me On Turn Me Down”).

While I have previously discussed some of the wonderful atmospheric music you will hear played throughout the Disney resorts, in X’s memory, I thought it might be nice to take a virtual stroll through the parks and commemorate some of the terrific, catchy music you will hear inside many of the most popular attractions.

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The Sherman Brothers’ tribute window on Main Street U.S.A.

Let’s start with the big ones: in my opinion, the only equally iconic attraction music contributions comparable to X’s creations were clearly those of the inimitable Sherman Brothers. Thanks to them we not only have the earworm of “It’s a Small World After All” playing at most Disney Parks worldwide, but also its just as easy to get stuck in your head “The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room” counterpart.  Happily Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom still celebrates that “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” shining at the end of every day at the Carousel of Progress. And for the moment at least, Figment still shares “One Little Spark” in Journey Into Imagination With Figment at EPCOT. Continue reading

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The Best Laid Plans of Mousertainment…

After nearly a year of planning – including early mornings up before dawn to arrange dining and FastPass+ reservations, this week I was all set to head off to Walt Disney World for a wonderful visit… and then Hurricane Irma happened.

Suffice it to say, my long-anticipated trip got canceled and yesterday instead of enjoying all my exciting options at Epcot, I found myself sitting at home staring at a yet-to-be-unpacked suitcase. So what’s a Disney fan to do except head off to the Disneyland Resort and try to do a West Coast version of the day I’d originally envisioned?

Dining

My food plans for the day were set to be all about Canada! I had intended to try out the cheddar cheese soup and pretzel roll at the Canada booth at the Food & Wine Festival and then have dinner at Le Cellier in the Canada pavilion.  So what did I do at the Disneyland Resort instead?

I stopped by the last weekend of the Summer of Heroes event at Disney California Adventure where I found one of the themed specialty donuts called the “Local Favorite”.

It’s Canadian-adjacent. Or related. Or something. Hey, there’s maple in it!

How did this pay homage to my Epcot dining plans? Umm, hello MAPLE-filled donut (with bacon on top – oh yes!)!!!

While I’ll have to give the edge to the apple-pie-filled donut I’d tried earlier in the season, this one was a winner, too. Although I didn’t actually find much filling inside, it still had the awesome taste as if someone had mixed a pancake with a donut. And the bacon bits on top gave just a touch of salt to balance out the sweet. Yum!

Entertainment

High on my priorities list for entertainment at Epcot was to see the glorious Voices of Liberty and listen to their soaring harmonies and classic music selections. Continue reading

My Disney Do List #9: Riding in the Wheelhouse of the Mark Twain Riverboat

Last weekend I got to check off an item on my Disney Do List… mostly… and I wanted to share the experience!

The recent return of all the attractions around the Rivers of America at Disneyland Park has not only added a welcome energy back to the area, but it allowed me to do something I’d always wanted to do: ride in the wheelhouse of the Mark Twain riverboat!

A view from the top – New Orleans Square.

Now, I’d always heard this was such a popular request that one usually had to make it over there early in the day to have a chance of getting one of these coveted rides. However, a friend and I were there on a not-terribly crowded day and were lucky enough to be selected by the Cast Member piloting the boat for that particular turn around the river simply by being up front by the gate and being quick to respond when he asked if we (or the party next to us) had ever been up top before. I jumped at the opportunity I believed we were being presented – as did the couple standing next to us – and we were told that as soon as the gates were opened, we were to follow the Cast Member up the stairs to the top, which we excitedly did!

My friend didn’t know what to expect, but I was thrilled at the prospect of this rare visit to the top of the boat!

We climbed upstairs into a small anteroom and then into the wheelhouse itself. This small area fits a maximum of four guests along with the Cast Member.

Looking out at the view behind us of the dock and Big Thunder Mountain.

From there, we had not only an amazing view of the river and the park itself in all directions around us, but we got to watch the Cast Member in action, communicating with those who helped run the attraction as well as watching him work the boat’s bell and whistle. Continue reading

One Hour at D23 Expo 2017 – Part Two: Everything Else on the Expo Floor

Last week I explained that I unexpectedly wound up being able to spend one hour of one day visiting the D23 Expo 2017. While there I saw several terrific costume displays, but I also saw other wonderful random things at various booths. So today I’m going to share with you some of the other sights from my brief exploration of the Expo floor that day.

For example – a picture of Dory and Nemo created entirely out of Jelly Bellys at the candymakers’ booth!

This picture of Dory and Nemo made from Jelly Bellys was still a work in progress when I visited their booth!

I also watched folks interact with this 10 foot tall Spider-Man at the Sphero booth!

There was some beautiful artwork to be found at the Walt Disney Family Museum booth as they promoted their current exhibit featuring the tremendously talented Disney artist Eyvind Earle. Continue reading

Disney California Adventure Summer of Heroes 2017 – Extras

I should have known that just because I thought I covered everything new being offered for the Summer of Heroes at Disney California Adventure in last week’s feature that I wasn’t done!

Sure enough – they have already plussed up the event and updated it, so today I’m going to give you a quick rundown on the changes and additions!

First of all, I did take a peek into the Sunset Showcase Theater (the former Muppets/now movie previews theater) and they are indeed showing an unadvertised clip show of all the Marvel movies to date leading into the next one – Thor: Ragnarok. It is similar to the Path of the Jedi clip show playing in Tomorrowland at Disneyland Park except, as with many of the movie previews they’ve done at the Sunset Showcase Theater, there are movie costumes to go see as well!

Costumes for Black Widow, Captain America, Thor and Hawkeye.

As a bit of a costume and prop nerd, I really enjoy these displays, whether they are at the park, at the D23 Expo (this year’s Expo is coming up soon!), or at the El Capitan Theatre.

Some new shows for the season are already being tweaked as I went back to see the Avengers Training Initiative again and they’d cut an entire segment (with power crystals) out of it. Not sure if that’s a permanent cut or not, but it did help the show run faster.

Avengers Training Initiative with S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, Black Widow and Hawkeye.

The park also continues to add to the Marvel offerings, seemingly in a testing phase to see what resonates most with the crowd. The results will likely ultimately be seen in the anticipated Marvel Land that’s been rumored for Disney California Adventure.

In this case, the newest additions include a Meet & Greet with Gamora in front of the Guardians attraction in Hollywood Land: Continue reading

Happy Father’s Day to Disney Dads Everywhere!

The Disney Parks are filled with Disney Dads – from those pushing the strollers to those up on the stage.

To celebrate Father’s Day, I thought I’d point out a couple of places you can spot some Disney Dads at the Disneyland Resort!

I think it would be incredible to start with Disney California Adventure – where you can spot super dad Mr. Incredible along with the rest of his family in the Pixar Play Parade!

You’re incredible!

There are two different places in Paradise Pier where you may notice images of Princess Ariel’s father – at his namesake King Triton’s Carousel or inside the The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure attraction. And if and when Paint the Night returns, you can see Triton at the head of The Little Mermaid float in that parade as well!

Heading over to the Hyperion Theater, Elsa and Anna’s father appears in Frozen – Live at the Hyperion.

Elsa and her father in Frozen – Live at the Hyperion.

And at Turtle Talk with Crush in the Animation Academy, you can visit with the awesome sea turtle Crush and his son Squirt along with fellow father and son duo, Marlin and Nemo. Some of these Finding Nemo characters can also be found at the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage attraction in Tomorrowland at Disneyland Park. Continue reading

40 Things I Love About Star Wars

In honor of the major milestone on May 25, 2017 of the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars: A New Hope, I decided this week to run down a list of 40 things I love about the Star Wars franchise.

Note: these are in a random order pretty much off the top of my head as they occurred to me aside from the final number one choice!

 

  1. Kylo Ren’s temper tantrums – EPIC, but duck!

 

  1. Darth Maul – such a bold colorful character created randomly in the middle of the prequel chaos. He was the Boba Fett of the prequel trilogy and I still wish we had seen him more in films.

 

  1. Poe Dameron / Cassian Andor – I would like to take this time to personally thank the casting directors for giving us Oscar Isaac and Diego Luna. That is all.

 

  1. General Leia – for all the girls who grew up wanting to be Princess Leia… and then became the women who want to grow up to be General Leia, Carrie Fisher is owed a great debt of gratitude.

 

  1. Getting to see actors from the prequel series and the original series in the sequel series and standalones. Yay for continuity!

 

  1. Wicket. Yes, the space teddy bears were probably not the best idea in retrospect. But still… cuddly Wicket.

 

  1. Getting to make your own custom Star Wars action figure with your own face on it at various Disney Star Wars events via D-Tech Me. Everything. REALLY hoping this comes to the new Star Wars Lands as a regular offering.

 

  1. And along with that – the “Build Your Own” stops at both Disneyland Park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios where you can build your own light saber, droid (ala R2-D2) and newly introduced protocol droids (ala C-3PO).

 

  1. The dearly missed Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. No, I never went to one, but I always enjoyed reading about them and would have loved to attend even once.

 

  1. Hugging Chewbacca at the Launch Bay at either Disneyland Park or Disney’s Hollywood Studios. If you have not been hugged by a Wookiee, your life is incomplete. Sorry.  Continue reading