Monday Topics: Best of Disney – Characters

W E E K     T H R E E

BEST OF DISNEY

Our friends over at Love Our Crazy Life have asked some of their blogging friends (like me) to participate in a Blogging Challenge. So for four weeks in April, on every Monday morning, I will be covering a different Disney-related topic. You can click the link above to find all of the other participants and their entries. Enjoy!

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Top Five Best Disney Characters

A good thing about Disney movies is that they are populated with great characters. You can cheer them on and delight in their life journeys. Some even touch your heart and stay with you for a lifetime! But who are the best of the best?

Please check out my Top Five List of the best Disney characters, and my reasons why:

Number Five – Mickey Mouse (The Little Guy)

Mickey Mouse

Photo Credit: Disney’s PhotoPass CD

The underdog has always been an endearing character in history. Charlie Chaplin certainly took his Tramp persona to unprecedented levels in the silent era of film, and in so doing spawned a long line of imitators–of which Mickey Mouse is certainly one of the best!

Mickey led the world out of the Depression. He taught our children how to be nice. And he showed us all that good guys don’t always finish last. He was the little guy who never gave up.

What really endears this mouse to my heart is that he never puts himself first. In a world where selfishness and Me-ism seems to be the norm, even celebrated, Mickey just keeps on showing that when you put others first, that’s when you gain real happiness!

Number Four – Uncle Remus (Song of the South)

Photo Credit: Copyright 1958 Walt Disney Productions

At a time in history when there were many justifiable reasons for hatred and resentment, one African-American man decided to show unprecedented love. No matter the skin color of the child in need, he was there with a story to make everything better again!

Song of the South is presently ‘banned’ from release due to alleged racism in its content, but I see a very different story within this important film. I see an older man of color respected and relied on by his former owners, a leader amongst his own people, and a person who shows just how big the human heart can be. Uncle Remus is a man everyone in this present world needs to meet and learn from!

James Bassett deserves better than to be robbed of his due for his portrayal of such a pivotal character in the Disney canon.

Number Three – Anna (Frozen)

Mention the Disney movie Frozen and everyone will immediately think of Elsa, the Ice Queen, who finally learns to ‘let it go’ and be her true self. Sounds good on the surface, but have they actually seen this movie? We have a person who damages her own Kingdom, runs away instead of staying and trying to fix things, abandons her duty and her sister, almost kills her sister (twice!), and basically adopts the attitude that it’s not her problem anyway. And this is a woman for little girls to look up to?

Anna, on the other hand, has no negative qualities. From childhood, she desperately tries to make a connection with her sister. Even though she is alone and rejected for years, her love never cools. When the Kingdom is in trouble, she steps up. She tries again and again to save her sister. And in the end, she is willing to die for someone who has done nothing to deserve such a sacrifice. This is a woman for everyone to look up to!

Just because a character has a hit song doesn’t mean they are one of the best Disney characters. Billions at the box office doesn’t do it either. Anna is one of the best Disney characters because she exhibits qualities that we all should strive to emulate!

Number Two – Baymax (Big Hero 6)

“Hello. I am Baymax, your personal healthcare companion.” Those who dedicate their lives to serve others, like nurses, are to be commended and respected. And although Baymax is a robot who was programmed to serve, we learn as his story unfolds, that there is more to him than computer code!

Two things emerge about Baymax during the film Big Hero 6. He will bend over backwards to do what he is asked by a ‘patient’ up to the point that it would harm them. Then he refuses to comply and explains why. Secondly, at the end of the film, we see that he is willing to lay down his own life, or terminate his program, to save others. Again, self-sacrifice is a big part of why Baymax is on this list!

“On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate this character?”

Number One – Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins)

Practically Perfect in Every Way. Using the word ‘practically’ means that there are a few things, or at least one, about this Nanny that could be better. I guess she is a bit full of herself, but in a prim and proper way! So why is this lady number one on my list of the best Disney characters?

First, she is selfless. She has given up a life of her own to serve and protect the children of the world. We find hints that she loves Bert and could pursue a relationship with him, but not without compromising her mission. So she goes on alone.

Secondly, her love of children is strong, but she can never have any of her own. In the final scenes of the movie, we see her shed a tear as she has to leave yet another set of children whom she has come to love as her own. Imagine going through that pain each and every time you accept a posting, knowing that you will have to leave!

Thirdly, even though she is a bit of a bossy flossy, she usually lets her hair down and joins in the fun.

Oh, and Supercalifrajalistic makes her expialidocious. And who else can you say that about?

Bonus Character – Herbie (The Love Bug)

Just look at that face! Adorable and plucky, this little VW Beetle probably has one of the most endearing personalities of any Disney character. Whether it’s bringing two people together, winning a race, foiling a plot, or falling in love himself, Herbie does it all with a ‘Meep Meep’ and a ‘Vroom Vroom’!

Perhaps no other character better personifies the no-quit spirit. He has been sabotaged, stolen, ripped in half, and heart-broken, but never has he been beaten! Sometimes it’s the smallest amongst us that have the biggest hearts.

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Be sure to check out all four of my posts in this series of Monday Topics:

Topic One – Disney Essentials

Topic Two – Disney Tutorial

Topic Three – Best Of Disney (You are here)

Topic Four – Looking Back at Disney

Magical Blogorail: Disney Photography Tips

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Red Loop. Today we are sharing tips to get great photos on your Disney vacation.


We all like to get our pictures taken with Disney characters! But with the long lines and the short time available for posing, it can be hard to get anything other than the standard stand-and-smile shot like the one above.

So today I’m here to help you one and all break out of the same-old same-old with tips on how to get great character photos:

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Photograph Characters on Their Own

This is perhaps one of the hardest things to achieve due to the popularity of the characters, especially with the youngsters, who tend to rush up almost before the last guest has cleared the posing area. But with patience and good timing, a great shot can be had!

The one above was taken just before the meet-and-greet officially opened, so Aladdin and Jasmine were waiting off to the side, away from the crowds.

    

The picture of Mary Poppins was achieved through the miracle of cropping. A little guest was rushing over to the Practically Perfect Nanny when I saw my opportunity. With just two feet remaining between this shot and the inevitable hug-filled greeting, I had room to isolate my subject in post-editing!

Donald was easier, as he was on the way down the ramp from the Aztec Temple in the Mexico Pavilion. He saw me lining up the shot and struck this pose. Thanks Donald!

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Photograph Characters Interacting

Photo Credit: The Mousekatools Mom

We all know Olaf loves hugs, so this shot really plays to his strength. With everyone in on the premise, we have a great , and heartwarming, moment captured forever!

    

Most face characters will take the time to speak and interact with each guest, especially if the guest is a cute little child! Both Alice and Mary Poppins took the time to engage these little girls. One with a conversation, and the other by putting the little one to work! Can you imagine how thrilling it would be to hold Mary Poppins’ umbrella?

These kinds of shots capture a moment in time that will never be repeated by your child, and not exactly by another child. This makes each shot priceless!

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Photograph Characters in Close-ups

If you just have to have the obligatory stand-and-smile shot, make it more interesting by cropping out the extra stuff that does not add to the finished product. Legs, for example, aren’t that interesting and so can be amputated in post-editing.

Another tip for making this kind of shot better is to, if possible, choose a neutral background. Nothing can wreck a great shot like an unintentional photo bomb from some other park guest who is unaware they are in the frame. Hence the weird facial expressions or nose-picking moments that are all too common among the background extras when taking a character shot!

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Photograph Characters Being Funny

Photo Credit: Home is Where the Mouse Is

Welcome to Alice in Funland as she introduces this guest to a new way of getting an autograph! As you can imagine, this was fun for the subject, and is much more interesting for those who will look at the picture later.

Photo Credit: My Pixie Dust Diary

This is a nice shot because it shows a bit of the personality behind the character. Chip is being silly as he helps his littlest poser obtain the same height as her brother. Mischievous. And priceless!

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Photograph You Being Funny with Characters

Photo Credit: Love Our Crazy Life

Doing something funny with a character is a great way to get a unique shot. Of course, if you want to try the pose above, you might want to bring your own apple. I’m just saying.

Don’t be afraid to really ham it up! Most costumed and face characters love it when they get a ‘live one’ to break up the shift.

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Utilize PhotoPass Add-ons

If you’re OK with spending some extra money to get the professional shots from the PhotoPass Photographers, be sure to check out all of the great add-ons and fun extras available to you.

For example, you can add borders:

You can add Disney characters, and pretend they are posing with you, or photo bombing you:

And don’t forget the ride photos. Because a ride is a character too!

And last but not least, be sure to ask your PhotoPass Photographer if they can add any special elements to your picture in post-production. Like this:

Photo Credit: My Pixie Dust Diary

I hope these tips have given you some ideas for your next photographic adventure at Disney!

For more Disney photography tips, check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red | Disney Photography Tips Loop:

Movie Review: The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story

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This past May, I finally took the plunge and made the decision to purchase “The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story” on DVD.  For much of my adult life, the music of Robert and Richard Sherman has been a source of great enjoyment for me — my all time favorite song of theirs is, bar none, Feed the Birds, from that incredible movie, Mary Poppins.

So, after much consideration, after much wondering would I like to see a documentary about the men behind the music, after all of that, I decided that it was time to make the investment and learn more about the men behind the music, as seen from the very unique perspective of their sons, Jeff and Gregg Sherman.

As I watched, I learned so much about them that I didn’t know, as sad as it is for me, a Disney fan and blogger, to say.  I didn’t know that their Dad was a musician and singer.  I didn’t know that the Sherman Brothers did so much work that went beyond the Disney scope — although I should have, because I have The Sherman Brothers Songbook album in my iTunes.  Most importantly of all, I didn’t know that Dick and Bob Sherman became distant in later years, and stopped seeing one another for many years.

It was this last point that caused Jeff and Gregg to collaborate and come up with this film — as they said, it was their hope that in doing their story that the differences that the brothers had in the past could be overcome, and that they would see one another once again.

However, as was so eloquently put, unfortunately, “In life, not everything turns out like a Sherman Brothers musical.”

The story of the Sherman Brothers isn’t really all that different from the story of many people from that generation.  My father is one of 14 children, and as kids, they naturally gravitated towards those that they were closest too, and there were some of their siblings that didn’t hang out as much, especially as they got older.  I know that, for my sister and I, we only saw some of our family at weddings and funerals, if then.  It is, in my opinion, only natural sometimes for their to be a separation as people get older, and I think I see that more often in generations the generations that came before me.

What saddens me, though, is that Bob Sherman has now passed on — and I don’t know if Dick and his brother ever had that reuniting that I feel was so desperately needed.

One thing that I do feel is true, though, is that Dick and Bob Sherman, if you could ask them today, would say that they are very proud of their sons for the work that they did in putting this piece together.  In doing so, Jeff and Gregg Sherman have shown us a side of the Sherman Brothers that I think makes us appreciate the music they created all the more.  Also, by sharing this story with us, I think that the world also sees that Jeff and Gregg Sherman, cousins, truly did acquire quite a bit of the talent that their fathers had.

To Jeff and Gregg, I close by saying thank you, both to you, your team working with you on this project, and to your fathers — for sharing them with the world, and for showing us the human side of them that transcends way beyond the incredible music that they conceived.

If there is anyone out there that has not seen “The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story”, I urge you to do so as soon as you can.  You are doing yourself a disservice by not watching this great movie about one of the greatest teams every created.

2014

2014 In Pictures!

2014

Happy New Year, everyone!  On this, the last day of 2014, I am taking a moment to share with you some of my favorite memories from the year — in picture format!  If you like looking at Disney photos like I do, this post is absolutely for you!  Have a peek, and thanks!  As always, a big thank you goes out to all of you for stopping by, for reading, for sharing, for commenting, and for choosing My Dreams of Disney as one of your places to go for your Disney fix.  Now, here is our Year In Review.  I hope you enjoy!  All of the images you see below are configured so that if you click on the picture, it will open the post that the picture is from.

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January saw us looking fondly at loved ones that we had recently lost — in our case, Cindy’s Uncle Bob. Suddenly, the question “Do you want to build a snowman?” took on more meaning…


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In February, we had a post about our favorite Disney memories. In this case, we were looking at our favorite Disney memories from 2011!


In March, we started our 100 Days til Disney countdown – our look at 100 things we wanted to explore on our upcoming trip.


In April, I wrote one of my favorite Magical Blogorail posts — a comparison between New Orleans Square and Liberty Square, and which one I like best.


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In May, one of the things we counted down on was ways that we can celebrate Disney Magic.


Festival of the Lion King

In June, Sophie wrote a post about a special Circle of Life video that her band class did near the end of school. Have a look, and enjoy!


Disney Music Monday

In July, we started a short lived series called #DisneyMusicMonday, with a look at the incredible Julie Andrews and the music of Mary Poppins.


Robin Williams

In August, we, along with the rest of the world, mourned the loss of Robin Williams, who was the Genie in Aladdin.


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In September, we wrote about the ways that Disney can help us deal with grief for the Magical Blogorail.


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In October, we hit a bit of a blogging rut — the words just wouldn’t come out of the keyboard! Despite that, we wrote about education at Liberty Square for the Magical Blogorail.


Happy Birthday Mickey

In November, we celebrated the birthday of our favorite Mouse couple — Mickey & Minnie!


Walt-Disney

We started off December by remembering Walt Disney, who was born on December 5th, 1901.

Pirates

We continued the month by writing about 5 facts about the Pirates of the Caribbean that will impress your friends!

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Lastly, we wrote about how Pixar short films (and Disney ones, too) are the best thing since sliced bread!


I hope that our year in Pictures has brought enjoyment to you, and a good reflection on some of the things that we have done this year.  It has been a full year, full of joy, fun, laughter, exciting Disney memories, and wonder, but there has also been sadness.  My prayer for each and every one of you is that this year is better now than it was when the year started, and that your 2015 is full of happiness, joy, Peace, wonder, prosperity, and love.  Please be safe if you are traveling, and remember, if you enjoy some adult beverages, please do not drink and drive.

Disney Music Monday

Disney Music Monday – Julie Andrews

Disney Music Monday

To me, Julie Andrews best Disney role comes in the form of that Practically Perfect Mary Poppins!

Hello everyone, and welcome to the first post in our new series, #DisneyMusicMonday!  Since the start of the work week often has it’s own blah moments, whether it be from not having the weekend anymore to enjoy, or your boss stressing you out, I thought a little Disney Music pick me up would be the perfect thing to start the week off right.  Since this is our inaugural post, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite music from that person who is Practically Perfect in every way — Mary Poppins!

Julie Andrews brought her to life on the screen, of course, as she was the actor that performed those great Sherman Brothers songs.  I won’t get into the story a whole lot, because I’m sure you know it all better than I do anyway, but I will share with you a few of my favorite songs from the movie.

I’m a sentimental type anyway, so for me, the two songs I’m featuring from Mary Poppins really do show the best in all of us.  They may not be as catchy as Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, or as witty as Chim Chim Cher-ee, or give good advice like A Spoonful of Sugar, but the two songs below are my favorites by far.

The first one is Feed the Birds, that wonderful song that shows what true kindness is all about, and reminds us all that there is always something we can do for others.  I was fortunate enough to learn of a YouTube video of Kristin Chenoweth performing this song.  It is a tribute song, and Jeffrey Sherman, one of the children of Robert Sherman, helped produce the video.  Amazingly, it was compiled by a whole bunch of iPhone recordings of people in the audience at the Hollywood Bowl where the song was performed, and it features some special interview segments that you won’t want to miss.  For those that want to see it, here it is, courtesy of YouTube.

The second song that I’m talking about is Let’s Go Fly a Kite.  In my opinion, this song — both portrayed in the movie and sung in the streets of London during a mash-up, is one of the most cheerful, uplifting songs I’ve heard.  The video I’m sharing with you is from that London mash-up, and it’s amazing how recognizable that song is.  Here it is for your enjoyment.

Thank you for stopping by today in our inaugural Disney Music Monday!  Go check out the rest of the posts, and check back next week for another edition!  Have a great week!

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