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


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

Mousertainment Movies: What’s Worth Watching in 2017?

Today I look ahead to the films being released in 2017 and make my best guesses as to which ones will be worth watching in theaters (for me at least!), although a few may wait for home entertainment releases.

There are a good amount of big tentpole films that are must-see for me in the coming year, but there are also a few smaller films on my radar as well.

Here is my list in order of how much I’m anticipating seeing them!

10) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5)

Reasons I want to see it:

  • Drax
  • Baby Groot
  • Kurt Russell as Ego
  • Chris Pratt as Star-Lord
  • Continuation of Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) storyline

9) Cars 3 (Jun 16)

Reasons I want to see it:

  • Pixar
  • Another visit with the wonderful Cars characters
  • Really hoping it’s better than Cars 2

8) Stephen King’s It (Sep 8)

Reasons I want to see it:

  • Love the original source material
  • Love the original mini-series – it’s absolutely perfect and this will have a lot to live up to but I’m strangely rather optimistic about it.
  • Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise – nobody can compare to Tim Curry in his defining take on this role, but it looks like they’re going for a different style here and I am a big fan of all of the Skarsgards – Bill was terrific in the wonderful Netflix series Hemlock Grove. He can definitely do menacing and creepy.

7) Kong: Skull Island (Mar 10)

Reasons I want to see it:

  • Tom Hiddleston
  • I’ve yet to see a King Kong movie I really like but I am intrigued by the concept and origins of the character.
  • I miss the amazing banana-breath audio-animatronic version of King Kong at Universal Studios Hollywood.  Not sure anything digital will ever top anything practical, however.

6) Murder on the Orient Express (Nov 22)

Reasons I want to see it:

  • Director Kenneth Branagh
  • Agatha Christie stories are always fun
  • Stellar cast

Continue reading

Mousertainment Movies: What Was Worth Watching in 2016?

Today I will look back to my predictions at this time last year to see if I guessed correctly as to what films were worth watching and therefore brought me out to see them in theaters in 2016 (marked with an *) and which films I opted to wait to see as home entertainment releases.

Below were my picks in January 2016 in their original order of my interest in seeing them. At the end of the feature, I’ll put them in the order in which I actually liked them best!

Here was what I was looking forward to a year ago:

10) Finding Dory *

Reasons I wanted to see it:

  • Pixar
  • Ellen Degeneres as Dory

Reasons to go see it:

  • Baby Dory
  • Otters and Sea Lions
  • Ellen Degeneres as Dory

9) Zootopia *

Reasons I wanted to see it:

  • Disney animation
  • Ginnifer Goodwin as Judy Hopps
  • Humor looks cute

Reasons to go see it:

  • Flash
  • Probably the most entertaining story of the three Disney and Pixar releases this year
  • Appealing original world and characters

8) Gambit

Reasons I wanted to see it:

  • Continuation of X-Men Universe storyline
  • Channing Tatum reportedly really wanted the role – let’s see what he does with it!

Reasons I didn’t go see it:

  • A few weeks after this list was originally posted, this film was pushed back to a future production date. It has not yet been released.

7) X-Men: Apocalypse

Reasons I wanted to see it:

  • Continuation of X-Men Universe storyline
  • Finally getting to see a proper-looking Professor X in the prequel timeline!
  • Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy

Reasons I didn’t go see it:

  • Waiting for home entertainment release

6) Moana *

Reasons I wanted to see it:

  • Disney animation
  • Dwayne Johnson as Maui
  • But let’s not forget Lilo & Stitch did a Hawaiian-set film first!

Reasons to go see it:

  • Terrific soundtrack
  • Dwayne Johnson as Maui
  • But Lilo & Stitch is still a way better film 

Continue reading

The Animation Courtyard – A Magical Retreat at Disney California Adventure

Inside the Animation Courtyard.

Inside the Animation Courtyard.

There is a hidden gem inside the Disney Animation Building in Disney California Adventure’s Hollywood Land: the Animation Courtyard.

This is not only a central location to lead you to other attractions such as the Animation Academy (to be spotlighted tomorrow!) and Turtle Talk with Crush, along with the Meet & Greet area for Anna and Elsa. But it is a destination unto itself – a wonderful respite from the hustle and bustle of the parks.

It functions both as a place to get out of the rain or sun and just rest for a bit, as well as a wonderful showcase for Disney and PIXAR animation and musical history.

I love going in here and just sitting (either on one of the couches here or even on the floor) and watching and listening – whether for a few moments or the full half-hour-ish loop of songs, animation and drawings projected in 360 degrees all around you!

So many films are represented here – from classics like Peter Pan and Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty artwork.

Sleeping Beauty artwork.

Through the renaissance of Disney animation like Aladdin and The Lion King

The Lion King animation.

The Lion King animation.

To modern showstoppers like Frozen. I’ve yet to see “Let it Go” play here in the Courtyard without many guests breaking out into the chorus along with Elsa! Continue reading

Mousertainment Movies: Top 5 Favorite PIXAR Films and Top 5 Favorite PIXAR Shorts

Right off the top I’ll explain why I’m splitting this list into five and five rather than just doing a Top 10 PIXAR favorites list: there are shorts that I like as much or better than the PIXAR feature films, so while my features list really likely would’ve been closer to “Top 7”, I thought that was silly, so I’m splitting it in half this way.

Now it may seem like film fan blasphemy to only have seven beloved PIXAR films, but the truth is, while I like several more, there are only my main grouping that I truly love and would and do re-watch regularly.

So here is that features list:

5) Monsters, Inc.

  • A far more satisfying buddy film for me than the Toy Story films (nothing against them, it’s just that the Monsters films engaged me more). I loved the universe of the monsters, the friendship between Mike and Sulley, the villainy of Randall, the bureaucracy of Roz and the adorableness of Boo. Not to mention the great visuals of the door factory. I thought this was a fun world to experience and I was happy to return to it in the prequel!

4) Ratatouille

  • This movie is not what you think it is. It is not about a rat who wants to cook. It’s about dreaming and achieving and not cowering to others’ perceptions of your limitations. The core message of the film is not just “Anyone Can Cook”, but “Anyone Can Do Anything They Dream”. And it’s a foodie film, too. Get beyond your distaste of rats (and critics!) to find your taste for Ratatouille!


  • If my top two weren’t so beloved, this could also easily have topped my list. A love story as classic and eternal as Lady & The Tramp or Beauty & The Beast, if you don’t get teary as WALL-E courts EVE, then you may be more of a robot than he is! At its center, yes, it’s about a PC that falls in love with a Mac. Well, okay, no, that’s just the visual of it! But really, it’s a terribly romantic film, wrapped up in an eco-warning that if we don’t clean up after ourselves and stay healthy, we can lose both the planet and our independence. But really, just watch it for one of those beautiful perfect moments in a film – WALL-E’s “dance” with EVE and a fire extinguisher in outer space. Continue reading

Mousertainment Movies: The Wisdom of Fools – An Appreciation of Disney Sidekicks

While there are a lot of fans out there of Disney film protagonists – the heroes and heroines of the story – as well as plenty of fans of Disney villains, I have found that my favorite characters tend to be the sidekicks.

And not just any sidekicks, but the ones who aren’t always embraced by either the protagonist or the audience – the ones who, in fact, are often treated like fools but turn out to be the wisest characters of all, not to mention the most loyal of companions.

Some examples of these favorite “foolish” characters include:

Dug (UP)

  • My favorite non-Wonderland character in all of Disney (and Pixar). Dug is a good dog. He may express himself simply, but his candor reveals his big heart and devotion to his chosen pack. And while his blunt talk may make him seem foolish, he is courageous in his defense of his masters and clever when it counts. Just hearing his joyous doggy ‘voice’ or looking at him with his wagging tail makes me smile. Plus… SQUIRREL!

Tow Mater (Cars)

  • Tow Mater is a small town truck, who thanks to his friendship with Lightning McQueen has managed to travel the world but still keep his perspective to what truly matters most in life: family, friends and home. He may seem naïve, but he always has his priorities in order and maintains a happy, friendly, open and welcoming attitude towards everyone. He does have an occasional naughty streak (like tractor-tipping!), but in all is the best friend a car could ever ask for!

Olaf (Frozen)

  • The overabundance of Frozen across Disney properties has led to something of a backlash from some people against Olaf. And I’ll agree, I got sick of all the Frozen everywhere, but if you return to the heart of the Frozen phenomenon, it’s the movie. And in the movie, Olaf is yet another endearing sidekick character who perceives instantly and more clearly exactly what is happening and why before the protagonists ever catch on. He recognizes love when he sees it and he understands instinctively that some people are worth melting for…  Continue reading