Monday, March 17, 2014

Looking for Mary Blair (Part One) ...

Me making my "Shucky darns" face at the closed "Small World".  Please note I am wearing my Mary Blair "Small World" concept art t-shirt and carrying my Mary Blair-inspired Le Sportsac.  I take The Blair seriously, yes I do.
So, as part of a trip my hubby and I recently took to Southern California, while Chicago was swallowed up in yet another polar vortex, we decided to visit Disneyland - as one does. And, after receiving my wonderful 23-month calendar from D23 and knowing I'd soon be receiving my next D23 issue that was all about "It's a Small World" at the 1964-65 World's Fair, I decided to hold our Disney Day under the lens of the art of the magnificent Mary Blair, the Disney artist who was Walt's favorite, the woman who was responsible for the concept art for "Cinderella", "Peter Pan", and "Alice in Wonderland", and the driving force behind the ride, "It's a Small World", celebrating its 50th anniversary this year,. Little did I know I'd embark on quite an interesting journey.  You see, the aforementioned ride was closed for refurbishment, as was the Alice ride. The two bastions of Blairness, the places where one can actually ride through Mary's Wonderful World, were closed to us. Let the pouting begin: It was quite interesting to be encountered by a variety of folks, middle-aged, teens, college-aged, all asking us (while I was taking photos of the IASW ride area), "Man! I love this ride! When will it be running?" "Is the ride closed for just an hour or so?" "I came all the way here today to visit the ride. Bummer." Perhaps it was the way I was outfitted with Blair, but lots of folks asked me if I knew what was up.  What I learned was that the ride was being refurbed to meet all OSHA standards, would be up again in early April, then down again to complete the facelift, re-opening in time for its 50th birthday celebration. 
Undaunted, what I did was to seek out the art of this great creator of whimsy wherever I could find it. And I was heartened by the fact that the spirit of Ms. Blair dots Disneyland in a delightful way.
There's lots of "Blairness" to be had in the area right near the ride:
One of the delightful Children of the World, inside the gift shop at the ride's exit

Some of the swag inside aforementioned gift shop.  Next time, I'll be purchasing the "I conquered" t-shirt!

More great IASW swag.  Loving the throws!

Little Hawaiian Mary Blair girl

Ride attraction poster inside the gift shop.  Oddly, I could NOT find a copy to purchase anywhere at the park or at Downtown Disney, unless I wanted to do the "purchase and Print" option, which I didn't.  Wanted one of the pre-matted ones.  A "must get" to celebrate the anniversary!

Even a "Small World" - inspired trash can ...

Check in soon for part two of my "Looking for Mary Blair" at Disneyland escapade! 

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Cotton Candy Road Trip soon to be published and carried by Theme Park Press!

Exciting news on the book front!  I'm tickled pink to announce that "The Cotton Candy Road Trip" will be published by Theme Park Press very soon!  TPP focuses on books about Disney legends, Disney parks, amusement parks and amusement park history - and apparently my book fits the bill!  So the parks I visited, the stories I told, the journey I took will be receiving a much larger audience very soon!  I'm thrilled, excited, slack-jawed: the whole darned thing!

A small number of the original self-published version are sitting on a shelf in my basement, waiting for me to autograph and send to YOU!  If you're interested, please contact me directly.  The price is a low, low $17, and that includes free shipping!

I'm still pinching myself.  But not SO much that I can't autograph a few books and send them out ...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Conneaut Lake Park - a vintage amusement park on tenterhooks ...

Unease is permeating my world right now ...

Here in the Greater Chicagoland area, we're experiencing a thaw of the mounds of snow that blanket the sidewalks, streets and green spaces.  We were hoping for a nice, slow, languid thaw, but instead, it appears that there will be thunderstorms and lightning tomorrow, dumping about an inch of rain throughout the morning which, added to the feet of accumulated snow, are setting the stage for Thawpocalypse: flooded rivers, streets, homes and basements.  In the 10 years we've lived here, we've dealt with four floods, lost thousands of dollars worth of personal property, and have become more and more wary of the area - and have talked of moving with increased frequency.  Not that we want to, but we just may have to, to preserve our collective sanity.

And now the troubling news out of Western Pennsylvania: Conneaut Lake Park (which I visited three times during the writing of my book, and slowly fell in lvoe with) will be sold in September in a tax sale.  Many factors (summed up very nicely in this wonderful article by Susan Glaser of Cleveland's Plain Dealer: ) have led to this, none simple to comprehend or easy to remedy.

The park's future is truly in a state of suspended animation.  Should we fans of CLP prepare ourselves for the worst, taking our emotional easily-damaged properties off the floor, steeling ourselves for the flood?  Or will the tax sale be a huge blessing in disguise?  Will a caring party, wishing to keep the park and its history alive, purchase it and restore it to its former glory?

I'm still working on that Powerball win.  And I know exactly what I'll be doing with a portion of it.

Until then, I've got photo albums to move to higher, safer spaces.  And I've also got a park to visit this season, to pay it its due, no matter how the outcome of the sale unfolds.

Friday, February 14, 2014

I knew I renewed my D23 membership for a reason!

At first I thought it was because of the D23 Winter 2013 magazine and its exhaustive and wonderful edition that's all about "Saving Mr. Banks" and the making of the film, "Mary Poppins".  What I was shocked and amazed and giddy like a little girl over were the additional treats of the 23-month calendar and the beautiful facsimile invitation to the premiere of the film.  I got all trembly and weepy about this.  Imagine: you are invited to the Grauman's Chinese Theatre back in 1964 and Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke and Walt Disney are all in attendance.  YOU are in the audience to witness Disney history!  I'd seen copies of the invite at Walt Disney World, in the window of the building that houses the Great Movie ride.  Even though it's a copy, it's close enough for jazz to me.

But imagine my pixilated delight over the news of what the D23 Spring Issue will hold:

Anyone who knows me klnows that it's ALL about the Blair.  Mary Blair, that is.  Her playfulness, use of dark and light, bold color choices made her Walt's favorite artist.  In an age when female artists were not as thoughtfully recognized for their talent, Mary was the exception.  So it is with great, ridiculously effervescent excitement that I await this issue.

Blair is what it's all about.  Might I say, it's Mary Blairiffic?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

All the updates on Club 33 at Disneyland that you'll ever need.

Folks, it's been a while since I've blogged here; it's off season, we got through the holidays, I've been super busy with other stuff.  But I wanted to present the following link:

If, like me, you are a Court of Angels fan, you need to read this article, because it's a very thorough dissertation on the expansion of Club 33 - and also gives some reasons as to why our beloved Court of Angels was closed.

Verdict: excited about the Club 33 changes, especially since they seem to be incorporating some ideas from "The Princess and the Frog", but extremely irritated at the fact that only Club 33 members will be able to enjoy the Court.

And just a couple days ago, DisneyDose posted this last look at Club 33 before the re-do:

Ah well, time to get in touch with some folks who know some folks who know some folks who are members ...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

16 Things That Are Awesomely Hidden at Disneyland!! (a.k.a. I'm having a FREAK OUT!!)

Back in 2011, yours truly getting ready to leave for her Disneyland visit for the book,
holding the Mickey doll bought for her by her Mom back in 1972.

First of all, full thanks to Peggy Wang at Buzzfeed for assembling this magnificent collection of gems.  Click the link above to see the whole story.  Nicely done!

And now: the freak out ...

You can get a death certificate at the Haunted Mansion??

Take a ride in the Lilly Belle train car???

Get a free map of the Jungle Cruise?????

I pride myself in knowing all the details of what makes Disneyland THE most magical amusement park of them all (and remember: I visited a boatload for the book).  It's the original; there would be no Disney World, Disney Paris, Disney Tokyo or China or the other one I keep forgetting, if it wasn't for the first one built by Walt himself in 1955.  I worship at the altar of Madame Leota (and still get freaked out by Little Leota, but that's another story).  I genuflect at the light emanating from the second story of the firehouse, telling all that the magic and the story lives on.  Point being: I KNOW my Disneyland lore.  I KNOW "my" park.

But I did not know a BUNCH of these gems.  And it makes me mad.  Because I won't be back at Disneyland until March.

Yeah, I know, I know.  You're saying, "Oh, you have to wait a full three months plus, poor baby.  Here's my tiny violin playing 'My Heart Bleeds for You'".  But when a class A Disneyfanatic learns about things hidden at the park she owns tons of books about, has visited countless times, and owns a PIECE of (two chunks of one of the Mary Blair Tomorrowland murals, savagely ripped apart to make stuff that isn't half as charming or memorable), she needs to revisit and she needs to do so NOW.

I'll be in southern California for a class in March (nothing having to do with Disney whatsoever), but then, well, I'll just HAVE to swing on by the park.  And now, I've got an agenda.

I knew about most of these little-known gems at the park, but certainly not all (and I must thank my friend Melissa for posting this link on Facebook in the first place).  When I spent my birthday at the park in 2003, I was thrilled to be gifted with an honorary Disneyland citizen certificate (which you KNOW I have framed and in clear view, so I can remind myself of my elevated status on a daily basis).  During my birthday visit this February, I was knocked to my knees by the rare treat of visiting Walt's firehouse apartment (the post where he'd sit and watch all the happy folks enter his park).  And I knew that you can ride up in the front of the monorail if you ask nicely; the last time (truly last) we took my Dad there, he got to do this and was giddy like a three-year-old).

But to fancy a ride in the Lilly Belle train car, the one named after Walt's wife, the one decorated in fancy red velvet, the one you can sometimes take a meager glimpse of?  I'm blown away.

To come home with a map of the Jungle Cruise is to remind my Dad of that last trip he took there, when he chortled about the hippos' wiggling ears and got a kick out of the tour guide's snappy monologue.

And, the piece de resistance: to actually have a Haunted Mansion "death certificate".  For, as you know (or should), upon leaving your Doom Buggy, Little Leota will remind you to "hurry baaaack" and to be sure to "bring your death certificate" the next time you visit.  Boom!  You can actually DO this now, without the muss and fuss of actually having to die.  Bonus!

I tell you, I am jazzed.  And I'm saving up my pennies for Spring.  Because the Lilly Belle awaits ...

Friday, November 8, 2013

A blog post from Yesterland about the new Mid-Century-themed hotel at Universal Studios!!

Feast your eyes!  My dreams have come true!  A new, fresh modern hotel done in the style of Mid-Century motels!!  I'm so giddy!!

Kudos to the folks at Yesterland, one of my most favorite sites, for exploring this and finding some great photos of what promises to be a GrOoVy undertaking!!!