Month: December 2012

What Would Walt Tweet?

walt trainWalt Disney would have turned 111 years old yesterday. It was touching to see photos and messages from various folks on Twitter paying tribute to this great man. Although he said it was “all started by a mouse,” we know it really all started with Walt. Without him, this community wouldn’t exist, this blog wouldn’t exist, and you wouldn’t be reading this right now.

One follower asked: If Walt Disney was alive and had a Twitter account, what would he tweet?

My immediate response was, No, he wouldn’t be on Twitter. Walt was a busy man with important STUFF to accomplish. He didn’t make movies and build mountains by standing around retweeting fluffy inspirational quotes like “If you can dream it, you can do it, you know.” He was a dreamer, true, but he was also a doer. A man of action. Surely, he had better things to do than tweet pics/video of the New Fantasyland dragon all day … right?

But the more I thought about it, the more I started to think that maybe, he would have used it. And here’s why.

walt tvWalt embraced new media. When television was first introduced in the late 1940s/ early 1950s, it spooked the big movie makers, big time. They saw it as a threat to their business, stealing away their audience.

But not Walt. He saw television as an opportunity to reach his audience:

“I have more latitude in television than I ever had before. If I had an idea for something, I had to then go and try to sell it to the distributors, to the theater men, and everyone else. With television, I just get my gang together and we say we think that will be something interesting – let’s do it. And I go direct to that public.”

It’s not hard to imagine Walt saying something similar about social media as we know it today.

And he himself appeared on TV. Although reluctant at first, Walt agreed to be the host on his own television show. He used it to entertain people and excitedly show off his upcoming projects. And his efforts paid off. That’s how America came to know him as “Uncle Walt.” That’s how he got the funding to build Disneyland. That’s how the word “Disney” became synonymous with quality entertainment.

(For further reading about Walt and television, I highly recommend Walt Disney Family Museum’s article here.)

So, what would Walt tweet? I imagine if he handled it himself at all, it would be done similar to how our current president tweets. Barack Obama occasionally leaves quick messages, signed “-bo”.

Would he have done live Q&A sessions? Video chats? Tough to say. We know he made us feel right at home on his television show and generously signed autographs and posed for pictures at Disneyland. It’s not outrageous to believe he would have found the technology useful – exciting even – as a personalized way to reach his audience.

By the way. The Twitter account @waltdisney is apparently owned by Disney. It has no profile picture, a mere 300 followers and 0 tweets. No one is saying things on his behalf on Twitter.. thank goodness.

What do you think? Would Walt have used Twitter? Or would social media make him roll around in his grave? Leave a comment below, and be sure to follow me at @DLthings for updates!

Review: “The Circle Sessions” Is Sexy, Sophisticated – and Short

I want to start this review by commending the stores Cast Members at Disney California Adventure for being truly fantastic. Not only do they greet you in a friendly manner, they actually make engaging conversation such as asking how is your day is going, oh I really like that jacket you’re wearing, what can I help you find… That is what I encountered when I purchased this CD, and it’s much appreciated!

I noticed this especially in the stores at Buena Vista Street and Cars Land ever since the grand reopening of DCA on June 15. Hey, let’s bring some of that courtesy and friendliness training over to Disneyland side, whydontcha???

Anyway, on to the product. The Circle Sessions: The Music of Carthay Circle is a real treat. It’s classic Disney tunes with a sophisticated and sexy jazz twist. This is what you hear as you step through the doors and check in for a “premiere” meal at Carthay Circle Restaurant or stop for a drink in one of those cushy chairs at the lounge.

The playlist (which can be viewed here) includes several songs from animated movies made in Walt’s time, as well as some contemporary Disney ones and a few Pixar ones. The album’s “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes” is quickly becoming one of my all-time favorite versions of that song, and “Ev’rybody Wants To Be A Cat” can be summed up in one word: groovy.

The Disney melodies are very pleasantly understated, and that’s a good thing. There’s never any part where the music screams “DISNEY MAGIC, BITCHES” – which believe me, is a huge relief after all that obnoxious material we get exposed to against our will on a regular basis.

The music epitomizes the glamor and elegance of the time period of Carthay Circle Theater as well as the fun and flair of the “new DCA” itself. It’s classy and smart, with a subtle touch of Disney that leaves a good taste in your mouth. Compare this to the pop songs by The Beach Boys and The Mamas and The Papas that were playing in this precise spot in Sunshine Plaza just a year or so ago. The difference is night-and-day.

The album is a joy to listen to, but it’s too short. With only 12 tracks, averaging 3 minutes per track and a total running time of 37 minutes, the $18 price for the CD is a little stingy. Each time I listen, it runs out faster than I want it to, leaving me wondering why they couldn’t have produced more material to put on it. Apparently “The Circle Sessions” weren’t very long sessions.

Actually, that might be because several songs are missing. Below is the video Disney released several months ago about the making of the music for Carthay Circle. You can hear them playing Le Festin, the main theme from Ratatouille, and the album arranger, Bill Cantos, talks about arranging Cruella de Vil, but neither song is included on the CD:

Also sadly missing is “I See the Light” from Tangled and “King of New York” from Newsies, which I was delighted to hear inside the lobby recently. So it seems this album is merely “selections” from the music that plays in Carthay Circle, not a complete set. It would have been nice to hear more. For gosh sakes, there’s plenty of room left on the CD.

Despite the album’s shortcomings – as in, it’s just SHORT – I like this album and I recommend it for anyone who loves Disney music. Pick it up if it’s in stock (I heard they ran out at least once already, so if you see it, GRAB IT) at Carthay Circle Restaurant, Off the Page or Elias & Co. It’s great to chill out to after a long day. It’s the perfect size to stuff inside a stocking, too.

And while we’re at it, can we beg Disney to release World of Color, Mickey’s Soundsational Parade, Minnie’s Fly Girls, Five and Dime, the Red Car News Boys and about a half million other great pieces of music from the parks on CD???

UPDATE: “The Circle Sessions” is now available as an mp3 download on Amazon and iTunes, for the much more reasonable price of $7.99! This is great news for those of you who can’t make it to the park to get your copy. You can also listen to it for free on Spotify.

(photo of Carthay Circle Theatre by Andy Castro. Used with permission.)

A Little Perspective

“You know what I’m craving? A little.. perspective. That’s it! I’d like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?” -Anton Ego, Ratatouille

anyone can cook

I love the film Ratatouille. I think it’s one of Disney•Pixar’s strongest films, and it was a hit with audiences and critics alike. Anton Ego, of course, is the “villain,” the sinister food critic who writes a scathing review that damages the reputation of Gusteau’s restaurant (and claims the heartbroken chef’s life).

But after tasting a remarkable dish created by a “tiny chef” named Remy that brings back memories of Mother’s home-cooked meals, he has a change of heart. In his review he states: “The bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.”

Much like Gusteau’s restaurant, The Walt Disney Company is haunted by the memory of the untimely death of its founder, leaving subsequent leaders the challenge of making products that appeal to a modern generation while living up to the lofty standards that were set early on. The results are mixed.

And just as “anyone can cook,” anyone can be a critic. With America’s right to free speech as their ally, any average Joe with an Internet connection can make a free account on a blog, forum, Twitter, YouTube etc. and say pretty much whatever they want about anything. Even the most seemingly insignificant details on any subject can be documented, scrutinized and endlessly debated. The Disney fan community, for better or worse, is no exception.

So, why for this blog? Let me explain.

Chances are pretty good that if you’re reading this, you know me as @DLthings or @DLtoday on Twitter. I started those accounts (way before the official @DCAToday account entered the picture, by the way) because I love Disneyland. I love its colorful history, the people who built, maintain and operate it, and the sights, sounds and feelings you experience just by having the privilege of being there.

And I do think I’m very privileged. I grew up not 10 miles away from the Matterhorn, and ever since those special once-a-year visits to the park in my early childhood (which quickly led to more and more frequent visits as time went on) I was hooked. Everyone has that one special thing that they turn to again and again in different phases of their lives because it makes them happy. Disneyland just happens to be mine.

So I decided to start talking about it. Start sharing photos and breaking news. Start finding people who enjoy it just as much (or more) than I do.

In the Disney fan community, there are lots of different perspectives. This blog is to share my perspective, for things which I think deserve more than 140 characters to explore.

Now, I don’t think my opinion is better or more important than anyone else’s. I don’t think everything is magical, but I don’t hate everything either. And I don’t claim to be an expert on how The Walt Disney Company operates, having little to no experience with managing a theme park nor leading a giant entertainment conglomerate that just keeps getting bigger and bigger. I’m just a fan.

Nevertheless, I think I have some unique insights as a fan that might interest you. My photography could never compete with the likes of, say, Andy Castro or Tom Bricker, but I would like to share a few photos. Offer my observations on what I think works and what I think could be better. Point out something in the parks you may not have noticed before. Review a couple products or meals I’ve purchased. I’ll try to make it as entertaining as possible, and hey – it might help out with or even inspire future Disney trips of your own.

To paraphrase Anton Ego: I don’t like Disneyland, I LOVE it. If I don’t LOVE parts of it… well, I’m not afraid to say so.

And although I’m not forcing anyone to read my blog or agree with its contents, and by making a reference to something embedded in Disney nomenclature which I think you’ll all appreciate, I’m calling it Forced Perspective.

I welcome your feedback by leaving a comment in the space provided below. Thanks for reading, and make sure you follow me at @DLthings for future blog posts!