Saturday, March 31, 2007

Meet the Robinsons AND....

I saw MEET THE ROBINSONS this morning, Disney's newest animated film. The movie isn't bad, in fact it's got some of the funniest stuff I've seen in an animated film in a long time. The film also isn't all the great. It's kind of obnoxious in parts and it has way too many unnecessary characters but the kids liked it and I wasn't that's all good!

What makes the film worth the price of admission is the added attraction of the 1938 Mickey Mouse short BOAT BUILDERS which was surprisingly shown before the main feature. Not the strongest Mickey Mouse short, it does have a great sequence between Goofy and the ship's masthead Mermaid. It's just great to see any classic animated shorts all cleaned up and shown on the big screen, especially one staring Mickey, Donald and Goofy.
I just read on the internet that if you see ROBINSONS in Disney Digital 3-D (Arundel Mills Mall) instead of BOAT BUILDERS you will be treated to a screening of WORKING FOR PEANUTS, a 1953 short staring Donald Duck and Chip n' Dale, which was one of only two shorts produced by Disney in 3-D back in the heyday of the old blue and red cardboard glasses. Even though I've seen PEANUTS in 3-D before, If I had known it was attached to ROBINSONS at Disney Digital 3-D screenings, I might have traveled the extra miles to see it! Oh Well!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Huey, Dewey and Louie

Here's a title from the bizarre comic book collection of my youth: Huey, Dewey and Louie Junior Woodchucks. Here, the ducks three get into all sorts of adventures and mishaps while narrowly escaping a copyright infringement suit from the Boy Scouts of America. Usually here at WWoB we spotlight obscure cartoon characters but I thought today we'd take a look at the career of these three lads who are usually considered minor characters in the Disney stable, but have actually endured quite well over the years.

The nephews made their debut in the old Donald Duck Sunday comic strip in the fall of 1937. By the following spring, the boys had made their way to the big screen in the short Donald's Nephews. It is here that we learn of how Huey, Dewey, and Louie come to live with their Uncle Donald. Donald's sister, Dumbella, leaves the kids on his porch with a note asking him to take came of them until she returns. I'm no expert on legal matters such as this, but after seventy years now I think Donald should be entitled to some back child support!

The Duck nephews made many appearances in Donald Duck cartoons over the next 17 years while also appearing in the Sunday funnies and in several comic books including Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge and Walt Disney's Comics and Stories. Many of these comic book stories were written and drawn by the legendary Carl Barks including the epic "Donald Duck Finds the Pirate Gold" which today would be referred to as a "graphic novel". The Woodchucks comic seen here is most likely made up of reprints from the aforementioned earlier titles.

While most of the Disney characters were asleep during the 1960's and 70's; Huey, Dewey and Louie showed up in the 1967 animated short film Scrooge McDuck and Money. (Which is literally one of the few theatrical shorts from the Disney studio that I have not seen!) The boys made a brief cameo in Mickey's Christmas Carol in 1982 and they were featured in leading roles in a rare 1986 animated featurette called "Soccermania". (That, I have seen!)

Huey, Dewey and Louie's return to the spotlight would involve another act of abandonment for the poor boys. In 1987 the TV series "Ducktales" started off with Donald enlisting in the Navy and sending the boys off the live with their Uncle Scrooge. Even though technically Scrooge can't be both Donald and the boys Uncle!? Can he!? "Ducktales" followed Huey, Dewey and Louie as they joined Scrooge on adventures around the globe. The Junior Woodchucks concept was also used on the show on occasion.

Ducktales led to a feature film in 1990, "Treasure of the Lost Lamp" which is a great freakin' movie! In 1996, the kids returned to their Uncle Donald for the series "Quack Pack". Now H,D & L were teenagers and Donald worked as a cameraman for a tabloid news show. (Sure!?)

There's a new DVD out called Walt Disney's Funny Factory Volume 4 that showcases some of the greatest classic cartoons featuring Donald Duck and his nephews.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Good Eats - WDW Style

One of the best parts about a trip to Walt Disney World is all the food! There is lots of food there. And when you spend a week there it gives you plenty of opportunity to try many different foods. The theme parks, resorts, and Downtown Disney entertainment district all offer a variety of unique counter service and full service restaurants. Let me tell ya about some of the yummy stuff I ate while we were visiting a few weeks ago!

In our opinion, Character Dining is the way to go in Disney World. You get gourmet food in a buffet style that allows you to get yourself and the kids fed quickly, plus you get to visit with some Disney characters who walk around the restaurant and stop at each table for pictures, autographs, and some personal one-on-one time with each family. We always visit the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom where you get to dine with Winnie the Pooh and his buddies. The food is wonderful with everything from fresh fish and a carving station to great salads like Moroccan couscous, Romaine blue cheese salad, and a black bean and mango salad. It's all really good. Probably my favorite thing on the menu is the Fire Roasted Corn Spoonbread. Wow! It's good! I forgot to take a picture of it because I was too busy shoving it in my mouth, but here's the recipe for it if you wanna try it yourself. If you make it, call me and I'll come over and test it out for ya!

In Epcot's World Showcase, each of the countries represented has at least one spot where you can sample native dishes. My favorite is Le Cellier Steakhouse in Canada. I've eaten there on every visit to Disney since I discovered the place about 10 years ago. The restaurant is kind of fancy if you can look past the people in shorts and Donald Duck tank tops. The food there is outrageous starting with their Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup. Wow-we-wow-wow! My friends, that is some good soup! It's so good a few years ago I bought the cookbook with the recipe for it and gave it to my wife's grandmother so she could make the soup for me. (Her grandmother is an excellent cook!) Instead of buying the book, I could have just looked here for it, but oh well.

Le Cellier is also the home of one of the best burgers I have eaten...and I've eaten quite a few! They have a Grilled Angus Chuck Burger that comes topped with bleu cheese and is served on a fresh made muffin. It is a delight!

Pictured here is a drink Elias had at Le Cellier, it's a sour apple soda that glowed! Pretty cool! It cost something like 7 or 8 bucks, Elias took two sips of it and wanted apple juice. The drink had enough sugar in it to kill a horse!

Let me also say that for dessert, their Maple Creme Brulee is like inviting Tinker Bell to dance on your tongue for the evening. Fantastic!

Chef Mickey's in yet another favorite spot for us. Here you get to have your meal with the big cheese himself, Mickey, along with Donald, Goofy, Pluto, and Minnie all inside the Contemporary Resort. Mickey serves up breakfast and dinner and both are fantastic. The dinner is home to one of the best things I've ever put in my mouth, Parmesan Mashed Potatoes. But this year, we went for breakfast which features a mountain of good food. Joey, here on the left, is showing off his plate of goodies. They have a breakfast pizza which is awesome, and a peanut butter and jelly pizza which is also out of this world. They have three types of scrambled eggs, veggie lasagna, cheese blintz, Mickey waffles, bacon and sausage, and Joey's favorite: all you can eat Krispie Kreeme donuts!

One of the nicest places we ate at during our week in Walt Disney World was at the highly coveted Cinderella's Royal Table. This is a dining room on the second level of the Magic Kingdom's Cinderella Castle and is literally the hardest spot to book a table. Reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance and every morning when a new day opens up for reservations the reservation call center is slammed with calls first thing in the morning until the entire day's worth of seating is filled up...I'm told usually in about 20 minutes. Beyond that, you just have to keep checking back for a cancellation and I was lucky enough to have a reservation agent that spotted a cancellation while I was on the phone booking other meals.

The appeal of Cinderella's Royal Table in that not only do you get to meet Cinderella but you also get to dine with an assortment of other Disney Princesses. In our case it was Snow White, Jasmine, and Belle. Of course, Tanner had no idea what was going on and Elias didn't want to talk to any of the princesses because "he's a boy, not a princess!" Anywho, the menu is pretty fancy. Above you can see pictured my Entree Royal Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Cabernet sauce served on a bed of Mustard Cheese Grits and topped with crispy onions. Needless to say, it was a meal fit for a King!

Check out the dessert Cinderella's chefs cooked up for us. Warm blueberry Buckle with Lemon ice cream & finished with creme fraiche. I don't know what creme fraiche really is, but let's just say I'd put it on almost anything! Also pictured is the kids dessert, a scoop of ice cream with Mickey sprinkles and a chocolate crown. Elias ate his crown and the rest of us fought over Tanner's!

So, there's some of our eating adventures in the Happiest Place on Earth! I could probably go on for another two or three hours if you'd like me to! Just ask!

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Elias Window

My son, Elias, may never be able to walk into a toy store and buy a little licence plate for his bike with his name printed on it, nor will he probably ever find pencils, stickers or erasers with Elias printed on them. But he does have his name printed somewhere special that most people can't brag of. In Walt Disney World (and Disneyland in California, too) Main Street U.S.A. recreates a small American town at the turn of the century. Along the street are buildings made to look like the many businesses that one might have found in such a small town in the early 1900's. Each of the windows features names of business owners, while the businesses are all fictitious the names on the windows kind of serve as the production credits for the park. All the names that you see in the upstairs windows along Main Street U.S.A are the names of people who had a hand (one way or another) in the creation of the park.

While walking down Main Street towards Cinderella's castle, on the right hand about midway down, there is a small outcove among the shops. This area used to be known as the Flower Mart but is now mostly vacant except for a few tables and chairs and perhaps an ice cream vendor or artist. One of these windows advertises the services of a contractor by the name of Elias Disney. He was Walt Disney's father, who was actually at one time a contractor. Walt was given his father's name as his own middle name making him Walter Elias Disney. This is where my wife and I got the name Elias, because I really wanted to name my son after Walt Disney and my wife wouldn't go for Walt or Mickey. (or for that matter: Donald, Huey, Louie, Prince Charming or Goofy!)

So there's Elias' name up in lights (sort of) for all of Disney World to see. It's kind of become a tradition for us to stop by and say hi to the window, and on this last trip Elias even recognized his own name up there! I guess my other son, Tanner, will have to wait for an ALF amusement park to be built to have such an honor.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

And We're Back...

Howdy Ho! We're back from a fun filled week at my favorite spot on the entire planet, the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fl. We had tons of fun, rode lots of great rides, walked miles and miles, ate a bunch of yummy food, and slept very little! We got to ride Expedition: Everest, the newest thrill ride to the Disney line-up. It's a steel coaster that twists you in every which way forwards and backwards, outside and in pitch black darkness. It is a fantastic new ride at Disney's Animal Kingdom park. Also new at Animal Kingdom is Finding Nemo: The Musical. It's a lavish live stage show using puppets similar to the ones used in The Lion King broadway show. We didn't get a chance to see this new Nemo musical, as the line was several miles long 45 minutes before showtime, and when you've got two little kids in your party you've gotta keep the line waiting to an absolute minimum! We did however get to ride their other new attraction based on FINDING NEMO. At EPCOT they've got The Seas with Nemo and Friends, where you board a clammobile and ride through scenes that briefly summarize the events in the movie. The end of the ride uses super cool technology to make it appear as if Nemo, Dory, Marlin and all the animated cartoon characters from the movie are swimming right along side real tropical fish. It's pretty cool!

Over at the Disney/MGM Studios we finally got to see the Lights, Action, Motors Stunt Car Show. It had just opened the last time we were there, but it was also well over 100 degrees the last time we were there and we knew a stadium that holds several thousand people would be a fairly miserable experience in extreme heat. The show is pretty good, you have to walk close to a mile to get from the entrance to your seat but they blow up enough stuff in the show to make it worth your while. At the Studios, the kids also got a chance to see Lightning McQueen and Mater (from CARS) upclose. Both Elias and Tanner were completely awestruck when they saw the race car and tow truck face to face. (They did look just like they do in the movie!)

I've also got to give some props to little 41" 3-year old Elias who now has some major thrill rides under his belt. He rode Test Track, which goes from 0 - 60 in a matter of seconds...he liked it even though he wet himself in the process. Elias also took on the 5-story drop of Splash Mountain. He was laughing when the ride was over while also saying, "Ha Ha! We're not going to do that again are we?!" He even had a blast on the Tea Cups, which I stopped riding in my teens because it makes me sick!

Of all the new stuff we did, and all the classic and favorite attractions we experienced my favorite moment from the trip came on Sunday night, our first full day at the Magic Kingdom. Elias went crazy while riding Pirates of the Caribbean. As soon as our boat splashed down the little drop and we entered the town where the pirates are running amuck, Elias went wild yelling at all the pirates and waving an imaginary sword at them. He was having the time of his life! When we got off the ride he was still yelling and screaming about all the pirates and he was talking in his own little gruff pirate voice. When we entered the obligatory end-of-ride gift show, I bought Elias a pirate hat, sword, and hook for his hand. While I was trying to pay for it all he was running around the store yelling for Captain Jack Sparrow and calling me Captain Daddy.

I got Joey a cheap little sword as well, and he played with Elias (in full pirate gear) in the plaza outside the giftshop for a good 15 minutes sword fighting and yelling pirate-y things. It was a blast! I've included a handful of pictures here from our pirate adventure! I'm slowly getting all our pictures up over in the Photo Album so check them out when you have some time. Obviously, I've got a few more Disney World themed posts planned for the next several days!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Sorry, Folks!

"Sorry Folks! We're closed for 1 Week To Clean & Repair America's Favorite Family Fun Blog!" The moose out front should have told ya!

Don't panic! We're not shutting down! We're just closing the Wonderful World of Blog offices for one week so that our employees may spend this special time of the year with their families.

We'll be back in business on Monday March 19, 2007!
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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Hersheypark USA - 1976

Are you looking for "A Happy Experience!?" Then perhaps you should visit Hersheypark USA in 1976. Today we're taking a look at the brochure for Hersheypark from back in the year 1976. The colorful swirl logo that is used on the front of this brochure is still used today at the park, even though the ride that originally had the logo, The Giant Wheel, was removed from the park several years ago. The ride on the cover is the world famous Kissing Tower, which still takes guest up 250 feet in the air for a spectacular view of the Hershey Foods Plant parking lot. Speaking of parking, back then there was something called Free Parking. Nowadays it will set you back $8.00 to park your vehicle for the day. But if you blew all your cash at the Disco the night before, you were still ok! According to the brochure: "Bank Americard, Master Charge, Diners Club, and American Express Cards are honored." If you whipped out your Diners Club card now to pay for an amusement park admission you'd probably get a stare like you were from another planet!

Check out the entertainment that awaited guests 31 summers ago. I find it interesting that as recently as 1976 an Ironsmith was commercially promotable entertainment at an amusement park. The site where that photo was taken is now probably home to a Dippin' Dots booth or a game where you can win a giant stuffed Shrek. It also appears that Hersheypark once had a petting zoo or some sort. They now have Zoo America which is a large zoo with Grizzly Bear and all sorts of wild animals from North America. When I worked at Hersheypark a few years ago, the monorail (also pictured) broke down right over the Wolf section of the zoo. A couple dozen guests were stuck in their open air monorail cars several hundred feet above blood thirsty wolves. There's a thrill you can't get on a roller coaster!

This year Hersheypark opens for their 100th season on May 4th.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Woody Woodpecker's Relatives

Here's the sad thing...I'm leafing through some old comic books this weekend and I come across this ad for Woody Woodpecker comics. I haven't seen a Woody Woodpecker cartoon in at least 13 years, and I haven't read a Woody comic book since I was like 10 and I was like, "Oh yeah, Woody had a little nephew and niece. I forgot all about them. I should run a piece about them on the blog and see if anyone remembers them or more importantly remembers their names." It's been many years since I've last seen them, I didn't remember their names! And then I remembered that you can find any little obscure fact in the world on the internet so I hoped on over to Wikipedia and typed in "Woody Woodpecker." While I'm waiting for the page to load I think to myself, "I think their names were like Splinter and Knothead or something like that. But I totally don't remember!" Then the Wikipedia page pops up and I read down the page to discover his nephew and niece's names are....Splinter and Knothead! Wow! Sad, sad, sad...that information is still lodged into my brain...probably somewhere where I should have stored the knowledge that would have allowed me to pass Science in college.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Ed's Bookshelf #2 Debbie Gibson: Electric Star

Ya gotta keep copies of the classics around! I read this book cover to cover several times in my youth. Back then we didn't have the internets to keep us updated on our favorite celebrities every move 24 hours a day. Debbie Gibson: Electric Star (1990, Bantam Books) keep me filled in on everything I needed to know about my favorite singer. Seeing as how Debbie was only 19 years old when the book was published, and she had only been in the public eye for a little over two years, there isn't much story to tell. The book dives into her fascination with music at an early age, her education, appearances on STAR SEARCH and then her big break and massive popularity for two years. One chapter goes into detail about the men (or boys) in Debbie's life. She was good friends with Scott Grimes who's big claim to fame was appearing in CRITTERS and CRITTERS 2: THE MAIN COURSE (both fine films!). And there are details about a failed relationship with Brian Robbins, who played Eric on HEAD OF THE CLASS. (He later went on to direct GOOD BURGER and VARSITY BLUES.) The last chapter of the book gives us a complete discography of Debbie's work: all TWO albums that she had released at that point in time.

As all good works of literature do, the last few pages of this book are set aside for plugging other titles from the publisher. Other titles you could have ordered through your school book club at the time included Alyssa Milano: She's the Boss and Kirk Cameron: Dream Guy. Just for S&G's I Googled author Randi Reisfeld and discovered that she's also written books on Nancy Kerrigan, Hanson, and Prince William. In addition she's also written several books based on the TV series CLUELESS and MOESHIA. (That's awesome)

If you wanna read about the time I met Debbie Gibson, check out this post from August 28, 2006.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Black Comic Form

The 1979 sci-fi movie THE BLACK HOLE continues to be a source of humor for me. I was greatly amused when the remastered soundtrack album to the film was recently made available on iTunes. The film was Disney's attempt to cash in on the STAR WARS craze while they were still kicked themselves in the seat of their pants for having passed on making STAR WARS themselves a few years earlier. The film is not that bad, it's just not really a "Disney movie" and besides having robots and a few laser gun fights, there's not much in it for kids! Yet the film was heavily merchandised as I'm sure everyone involved in the project thought they had the next STAR WARS on their hands. There were BLACK HOLE action figures, coloring books, sleeping bags, book and record sets...even a comic book, which is advertised here (from another 1979 comic book). I'm sure kids were lining up around the block to pick up their copy of the comic adaptation of THE BLACK HOLE. Who wouldn't want to read about Ernest Borgnine and Anthony Perkins in comic book form? As for myself, I was lucky enough to have a pair of BLACK HOLE pajamas!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Classic Commercials By Disney

Here's two classic commercials that have recently popped up on YouTube. The first is a 1954 ad for Jell-o featuring characters from Walt Disney's ALICE IN WONDERLAND movie. The commercial is narrated by Sterling Holloway, a popular voice actor of the time who appeared in many Disney films. In ALICE he played the Cheshire Cat, but in this commercial he narrated and someone else does the voice of the cat...interesting!? The second ad is from 1955 and also narrated by Holloway, it's for Peter Pan Peanut Butter (before it had salmonella in it!)

Friday, March 02, 2007

Snoopy's Choice

This picture shows a number of grocery store items that Snoopy and the Peanuts gang have appeared on all over the world. There's peanut butter from Australia, Cola from England and even corn snacks from Japan. But right smack dab in the middle of all this international goodwill is a little product fondly remembered as Snoopy's Choice Frozen Dinners! Few things go together as well as a tiny TV Dinner and a free Peanuts sticker! These tasty meals hit grocery store freezers around the time I was 17, however that didn't stop me from stocking the freezer with them every chance I got. Jeez, I'm such a sucker for products with cartoon characters on them! I was a huge fan of TV Dinners when I was younger, but these Snoopy meals which were probably aimed at grade school children had less than 1/3 the food a Swanson HungryMan dinner had. But really, in the end, isn't a free Snoopy sticker all you need to fill your tummy...and your heart!?!?

It's rare that my memory banks can stump the Internet, but I wasn't able to find a single image of these Snoopy's Choice meals anywhere online. There is barely a mention that the food ever existed! I was able to find this picture in a book called Peanuts The Home Collection: A Collector's Guide to Identification and Value. I tried to zoom in on the Snoopy's Choice products, but I'm no William Randolph Hearst when it comes to the ol' scanner and Photoshop and all the stuff! My zoom in here on the left offers nothing more than a larger, grainier look at Snoopy pointing to some unrecognizable food. For a really good tie-in, the microwavable food should have come in little red dog dishes! That would have made it all even cooler!
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