Under-Appreciated Attractions

Magical Blogorail: World Showcase at Night

World Showcase

Spaceship Earth at night is a majestic ball of incredible lights!

As far as I am concerned, Walt Disney World is so much more incredible to experience at night.  That’s why my family is always looking for the evening extra magic hours over the morning.  When it comes to specific areas of Walt Disney World that truly shine after dark, I look no further than the World Showcase area of Epcot.  Today, we are going to talk about some of the incredible things we’ve seen here, and you might too on your next visit!

For this hopeless romantic, few locations on Disney property hold the sway that World Showcase does for me after dark settles in.  For starters, I love the way the path just flows from country to country, pavilion to pavilion, all the way around World Showcase Lagoon.  There’s a tranquility there, a sense of calm, a timeless about it that just really strikes home in this writer’s heart.  It takes me back, back to that very first trip to Epcot, in the summer of 1983, when my grandparents took me, and we went with friends of theirs that had their grandson visiting also.  I remember, that was the very first time in a setting that big that I had been allowed to go (with Chris, of course) off without any adult supervision.  But it was Disney, and my Grandparents knew it would be all right.

The charm of the World Showcase at night is that it grabs you, clutches at you, drawing you this way and that, and all the while, the crowds start thinning out because they are heading towards the bus terminals, or their rooms on the Boardwalk, or maybe they’re driving back home; regardless, the night and the park soon feels like you and your special someone are the only ones there.  I remember one recent trip, we were walking around World Showcase, and we came to the drawbridge, and it went up!  We happened to be there when the giant Earth from Illuminations was passing through on it’s way back to where it is stored, and I was able to capture this photo with my phone…

World Showcase

The Illuminations Globe passes by on it’s way to bed for the night.

I had never seen it up close like that before, and haven’t seen it that close since.

Of course, the World Showcase at night also means fireworks!  Namely, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.  This fireworks show to me is incredible, and now, with Wishes closed down over at the Magic Kingdom, is the longest running fireworks show at Walt Disney World.  IllumiNations strikes a great balance between fireworks, laser light affects, narration, and music, and is a great way to kick off the rest of the evening at Epcot.

World Showcase

In the end, the World Showcase at night is about more than a particular attraction; it’s about more than a special fireworks show; it’s about more than getting one last drink before heading out.  World Showcase at night, to me, is all about slowing down, reliving the day with your family and friends, and sharing a special, Magical moment with the one you love most.  That is why I like walking World Showcase at night.  What about you?  Do you like exploring the World Showcase at night? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for stopping by!


For more ways to enjoy evenings at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Railroad Story

Walt Disney’s Railroad Story: The Small-Scale Fascination That Led to a Full-Scale Kingdom

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Black Loop. Today we are sharing the Disney books you should have in your collection.


Railroad Story

Walt Disney’s Railroad Story is a treasure for any Disney enthusiast young or old.  This coffee table book of 432 pages written by Michael Broggie is an illustrative work that takes the reader through the life of Walt Disney in a way that features his early beginnings and how his love for railroads led to a passion that he incorporated into his parks worldwide.

The book is divided into several sections, called “scenes”, but before all of that, this reader was captivated with a forward written by Lillian B. Disney, wife of Walt Disney, and spellbound by two of Walt’s Nine Old Men, Ward Kimball & Ollie Johnston, with incredible introductions.

A book of this length can’t be written about properly in one blog post, so what I’m going to do is take each of the scenes in order and offer up my favorite parts from each scene. Let’s journey down each scene in our railroad story, starting at scene one.

Scene One: Humble Beginnings

This scene, comprised of seven chapters, looks at various aspects of Walt’s upbringing.  What I like about this whole book is the incredible photography seen throughout; some of these photos and drawings are ones that we haven’t seen in many a year, if ever, and many of them are likely only found now in the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco.

Near the end of scene one is chapter six, which talks about the trip that Ward Kimball and Walt Disney made to the Chicago Railroad Fair.  Reading through that chapter, Michael Broggie paints a picture of Walt that many of us have imagined, but few have witnessed.  In it, he describes how sentimental that journey was for Walt.  Of course, Walt Disney had some raising in Chicago, so he knew it well; at one point in the story, Walt is leading Ward through various stations in the L, describing where this track went or where that track went. While Ward Kimball had no idea where they were, it finally dawned on him that Walt was reliving his childhood.

Our railroad story continues in scene two, where we learn how the stage is set.

Scene Two: Setting the Stage

In scene two, the stage is set for exploring the growing fascination with railroads, and Walt and Lilly purchase the land that would become the site of their home in Holmby Hills. This scene goes into greater detail on the building of Walt’s backyard small scale railroad, but what I really enjoyed reading was the chapter known as “The Birth of Lilly Belle”.  In this chapter, Broggie goes into detail on the locomotive that would run Walt’s backyard operation, the Carolwood Pacific Railroad, and how they made the locomotive by hand in the machine shop at the Studio, under the direction of Michael Broggie’s dad, Roger.  Reading more about the deadline they were under, and the pressure to make it work, really made the pages turn in that chapter, and I felt like I was there with them making it happen all over again.

Scene Three: Happiest Place on Earth

Our railroad story continues in scene three.  In this section, the real meat of the story starts to come alive as we look at the Happiest Place on Earth, Disneyland, and the Santa Fe  & Disneyland R.R. that was built at the park.  In addition, we learn of how the park attendance outgrew the pace that the railroad could operate at, even with two running locomotives at a time, and the search is on for a 3rd locomotive for the railroad.

Scene Four: A Magic Kingdom

It is in scene four that our railroad story takes a sad turn.  As you all know, Walt Disney died before the Florida Project could be completed, and Walt Disney World (replacing the original name of Disney World) is completed with Walt’s brother Roy at the helm.  Though the show must go on without Walt, the legacy that he built and left behind continued with many of the same special features that were employed under the direction of Walt.  The new Magic Kingdom was built with a railroad around it like at Disneyland, but the trains were larger — and I learned that the reason for this is because the railroad had as much as a 2% grade in places, and larger trains would make that more manageable, as well as allow for more cars and more passengers as a result!

Epilogue: Leaving a Better World

The conclusion of our railroad story leaves us with perhaps the words that we all should strive to emulate.  Thank you for reading our post today, I leave you with the words of Walt Disney himself to close us out:

“If I leave this world a better place, then my time here will have been worthwhile.” ~ Walter Elias Disney

For more Disney book recommendations,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Blogorail Black | Ultimate Guide to Disney Books

‘Walt Disney’s Disneyland’ Book Review

Walt Disney was a master of promotion. His Disneyland television show was basically a weekly commercial advertising his upcoming theme park. And in that theme park, he continued this self-promotion with the release, each year, of souvenir booklets, pamphlets, and hardcover books, all designed to keep guests dreaming about Disneyland long after the visit was over!

This post is a review of one such publication:

This 70-page book has no ISBN number and no publisher but does reference Walt Disney Productions. It was printed in the U.S.A. possibly in February of 1971. However, the copyright date is 1969.

This book was first published in 1964 and was re-released every year afterwards. For how long, I don’t know. Slight changes to this publication likely would have been made as new attractions were added to the park and others removed.

The book is filled with beautiful two-page spreads of popular attractions. The Jungle Cruise, above,  is a personal favorite!

One of the best reasons for purchasing such an old book is because of the history it contains. Attractions like The Skyway, now gone (but rumored to be returning to Walt Disney World), are fun to see again!

Young and Old Enjoy Disneyland

A panoramic shot like this one shows both the Columbia and the Mark Twain. Would you like to be sitting on one of those benches right now?

Beautiful!

The book covers many of the classic attractions with colorful pictures and informative text.

The book actually starts with a brief history of the construction of Disneyland. It then covers each of the cardinal lands in turn: Fantasyland; Adventureland; Frontierland; Tomorrowland; and of course, Main Street U.S.A.

Next it covers the first and second decades of the park in their own sections. New Orleans Square and the updated Tomorrowland are also featured. The book ends with a ‘what is to come’ page featuring the soon-to-be opened Walt Disney World.

COOL FACTOR: 4.5/5

For the casual Disney fan, this book would be a fun read. For the diehard fan, it is an essential read of the history of Disneyland!

I would have given it a higher rating if not for the fact that it is merely a reprint of earlier, essentially the same, publications. But even so, I highly recommend it!

I picked it up at a thrift store for just $5.00 CAN.

Memorabilia from the 1964/65 World’s Fair

I have always wished that I could have attended the 1964/65 New York World’s Fair. This was a special fair for Disney fans as Walt Disney, along with his Imagineers, created many of the most memorable attractions! Today, I share some memorabilia I found from this fair.

From the Collection of The Henry Ford Museum

While visiting The Henry Ford recently I noticed these great souvenirs from the 64/65 New York World’s Fair.

Magic Skyway for FORD

So it’s not surprising to find a booklet remembering the Magic Skyway in The Henry Ford Museum due to the obvious Ford car tie-in!

Drinking Glass

This is the first time I’ve seen one of these! Obviously there must have been countless of them sold during the fair, but one wonders how many would have survived to today unbroken.

Martin Luther King Jr. with Children

This was fun to see. Many famous people visited the fair and rode the various Disney attractions.

GM Promotional Pamphlet – Futurama II

This pavilion depicted life 60 years into the future. It was one of the fair’s most popular exhibits and attracted some 26 million people. So Disney wasn’t the only designer who could put on a good show!

Ferris Wheel Ticket

This huge attraction was installed by the U.S. Rubber Company. Now I’m not normally a big Ferris Wheel fan but I would have loved a spin on this one! Interestingly, it was installed along the I-94 near The Henry Ford Museum in 1966. How cool is that?

These items are why I love memorabilia so much and do all I can to add new pieces to my own collection. But in this case, it seems The Henry Ford has beaten me to some really special pieces of history!

Dick Van Dyke: My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business

First off I must admit that I am a huge Dick Van Dyke fan. So I went into this memoir with an open mind (albeit somewhat clouded by fandom) and a desire to get to know the man a bit better.

I got what I hoped for! I hope you enjoy my…

B O O K    R E V I E W

 

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Type: Autobiography

Date: 2011

Pages: 290

ISBN: 978-0-307-59223-1

The forward is written by Carl Reiner who helped to put Van Dyke on the map back in the early 60’s with a certain little sitcom we all remember and love, The Dick Van Dyke Show. After reading this memoir, it’s obvious these two men have a great deal of respect for one another!

With Mary Tyler Moore in 1963

That brings me to the first thing I liked about this book. Van Dyke is generous with his praise of, and the giving of credit to, the many talented people who worked with him over the years. No ego here!

The book gives a nice overview of his childhood and the challenges of his early life trying to break into show business. I didn’t realize how many challenges he faced! But after his signature show was a success, things began to roll along nicely.

With Julie Andrews in 1964

I was happy to hear that he enjoyed working with Andrews on Mary Poppins as I am also a huge Disney fan!

With Walt Disney

The book contains one of my favorite Van Dyke/Disney stories involving how Van Dyke got the role of the old banker in Mary Poppins. Look for other insider tidbits about that movie also.

One disappointment as a fan of Van Dyke’s work was learning how he felt about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

With Sally Ann Howes in 1968

I won’t get into too many details about his issues with the movie. Suffice to say he had some valid points… but I still love his work on the piece!

He touches on many of the projects he did between Chitty and his Diagnosis Murder television triumph as well as his battle with alcoholism. On this point, I’d like to quote directly from the book to show what Van Dyke’s goal was in writing this memoir:

A word of warning about this book: If you are looking for dirt, stop reading now. I have had some tough times and battled a few demons, but there is nothing salacious here…. I have tried to write an honest story, with lightness, insight, hope, and some laughs.”

In my opinion, he has succeeded on all counts!

In the end, he leaves you believing he is as happy as he looks in the picture above.

COOL FACTOR: 5/5

Anyone with as extensive a career as Van Dyke could easily pen a larger volume and cover much more ground, but Van Dyke only hits the key moments with insight and asides designed to give the reader a nice look into his life without wearing him out with needless details.

Even if you aren’t a big Van Dyke fan, there is enough Hollywood name-dropping to keep you interested, but the book is interesting enough without it.

And for the rabid Dick Van Dyke fan I say, “Buy it! Read it! Love it!” I did.