Monday, 15 September 2008

Just another Disney fan answering questions

Yet another set of questions but these ones come from one of many Disney blogs I follow. Imaginerding have a series where eminent Disneyphiles answer these questions, which I thought was fascinating. I’m not enough of a Disney fan to feature in their blog but I thought it would be fun to answer them in my own blog! So, with thanks to Imaginerding here we go:

What is your earliest Disney memory?

I have vague recollections of Disney characters in my nursery when I was a baby – but these memories could come from seeing photos of what my nursery used to look like. I was apparently conceived while my parents honeymooned in Disneyland and my first trip to WDW was when I was very, very little: 2 years old. For the record, I was terrified of Mickey Mouse!

What is your single favorite attraction?

This is one of those questions where the answer probably changes daily but a trip to WDW doesn’t count if I don’t get on Spaceship Earth. I haven’t yet experienced it post-refurb but everything about this attraction is great: the music, the theme, the iconic structure… I also got a chance to tour it on my CM days, which was the icing on the cake.

What is your favorite Disney and non-Disney movie?

Favorite Disney movie is too hard! I will say Beauty and the Beast because it has a great story, the best heroine (who reads!) and some of the best animation of the latest crop of Disney movies. As for non-Disney movie, I really like “Singing in the Rain” but that is only one of the many movies I love.

What is your least favorite park?

Animal Kingdom. I think that it is because I know it the least and the one time I’ve visited the park was fairly new and didn’t have a lot of attractions open yet. I’m sure it is just as cool as the other parks, I just need to get to know it better. During the marathon I got the chance to see the park and it did look very different from the one time I visited, all those years ago.

What is your favorite park?

Hands down – Epcot. It is also the one I know the best, as I worked all over it for a year and grew to love it all, especially world showcase. These days when we go visit, we often only visit one Disney park and it is invariably Epcot. No other park feels so spacious and unique – there is nowhere in the world quite like it.

Who is your favorite Disney character?

It is a cliché but it has to be Mickey Mouse. Not only did it all ‘start with a mouse’ but there is something about this little mouse that just wins me over. So while I really like a lot of the Disney princesses and other characters, Mickey always wins.

What is your favorite Disney song?

I really can’t answer this. As some of my blog readers know, I love to collect Disney music, especially soundtracks to the parks and parades. So I really can’t choose among the hundreds of tracks of music I know and recognize as Disney but if there is one tune that makes me choke back tears, it’s those eight notes at the beginning of ‘When you Wish Upon a Star’.

If you could switch places with any historical or living Disney employee, who would it be and why?

If I could, I probably would switch places with myself in 1995 and 1996 where I was a cast member. It was not the most high-profile job in the World but I loved what I did, even on the days when I was tired and grumpy and hot. I would also really, really love to work for the marketing team in Orlando, the guys based in Celebration. That would be a dream come true.

What is your must eat food at WDW?

I don’t know if I have any ‘must-eat’ food but I do like trying out different things while we’re there. I used to love the hotdogs sold in Epcot, near the Fountain of Nations because they were huge and cheap and, if timed properly, I could eat one while listening to the fountain play some music. I haven’t seen them anymore, though.

Favorite place to stay at WDW?

I haven’t stayed in many of the resorts but I would love to stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge someday. I also really like Port Orleans although I’ve never stayed there – the location is just so nice.

What is your favorite place to be at WDW?

Inside the parks! But seriously, it depends – if I’m with the family then anywhere in the parks where I can see my son enjoying himself. If I’m on my own, I love to wander around Main St, around World Showcase or just generally wandering around, soaking up the atmosphere. I also used to love touring the resorts but it’s something best done on my own as the family wouldn’t like it as much. I just love wandering around and feeling relaxed and happy. I don’t even have to be getting on anything just to feel happy!

What is your favorite restaurant?

I am very partial to the Yakitori House in Japan and also really like having lunch at the Cantina in Mexico (not the restaurant inside). I really enjoy the California Grill too and would love to have afternoon tea at the Grand Floridian again. But I would really like to try Boma because I have a feeling I would love it.

What is the first thing you want to do on your next trip?

I would love to visit the other parks, especially the Magic Kingdom as I think my son will love it. He’s only been to the Disneyland Paris one and that was popular! Personally I would just love to go back to WDW, it doesn’t really matter what I do while there, as long as it’s in Disney.

What is your favorite fireworks show?

No question about it – Illuminations. The old-style ones. The ones I must have seen nearly every night for over a year as I worked crowd control during the show – and I loved it every night.

Where did you develop your love of Disney?

I really don’t know. It was way before I was CM as I had already done a lot of university papers on the subject, I had begged my parents to take us back year after year and I already was bitten by the bug. Maybe it was all those books I had, beginning with a small booklet…

If you had to choose parks or movies, which would it be?

Parks. Anyone can do movies and do them well but I think only Disney can do parks really well, filled with magic and fun. Which character do you associate with the most?

Belle! I like that she is a reader, that she isn’t a blonde (a huge deal back when the movie came out) and that she is not a victim. I like to think that I could be like her – I already have the reading thing down pat.

Does any forensic evidence exist linking you to the Kennedy assassination?

I was born in 1971 so NO!

Would you make any major changes to the current design of any of the parks?

I believe that most of the changes introduced to the parks have a good reason for being implemented – even if it is a financial reason. So most of the time I accept change and look forward to the new addition. But if it was up to me I’d re-open the Wonders of Life pavilion as that part of the park looks a little empty and sad. I’d also try to make Animal Kingdom a little more ‘airy’ as it feels a bit cramped sometimes but that may be the intention…

What is the most significant architectural feature of WDW?

Spaceship Earth. There is only one geodesic sphere in the world and it is instantly recognizable, it sparkles like a jewel and looks amazing as the sun sets. Cinderella’s castle is pretty amazing too and will look magical in winter but Spaceship Earth is still very, very unique.

What is the weakest Epcot country?

For me it’s Germany. I am not a huge fan of the music or food of the country so there isn’t a lot to attract me. I also can’t walk past it without reflecting on all that wasted space backstage that was supposed to house a boat ride and is now used for storage and other mundane uses.
What is your favorite Disney guilty pleasure?

Buying silly things! I would also love to be able to walk around dressed like a princess (like little girls do) and not be stared at. I also love eating all that junk food and getting emotional with all the cheesiness.

Where do you spend most of your time online when in the Disney-sphere?

I read so many blogs it’s hard to keep track (if it wasn’t for Google reader) but besides Imaginerding, I am a big fan of Jim Hill,, Didier Ghez and Alain Littaye, If we can dream it, and a whole bunch of other blogs and a few podcasts. I probably should stop being so lazy and include the list of blogs I follow in here!

You are the CEO and you have to cut one division: film, animation, parks, music, ABC, or ESPN. Where do you start cutting?

ESPN has always felt a funny fit to me because I’m not a huge sports fan or a US resident, but I am aware that this division makes a ton of cash. I guess ABC would be the one to go, as the other divisions work together to create content that can be exploited in the other divisions so I would guess ABC would be it.

Do you have any money we can borrow or have?

If I did, I wouldn’t be in the UK right now but more likely somewhere in WDW!

What do you consider the most historically significant or defining moment in Disney history?

I guess it would be that day that Walt realized that parks should be places where families have fun together, and not places where dads sit on benches while the children play. This of course led to the theme parks and a whole generation of people now consider the brand to be synonymous with magical theme parks for the family.

How do you feel about Disney's stance to remove Song of the South and other period specific pieces from its association?

I can see why they felt they had to do it, but it is a shame as those pieces say as much about the times in which they were created as they do about their content. It has also meant that these specific items are now even more coveted, as they are ‘rare’ and perhaps are even more famous now than they ever were.

If you could change one thing about a Disney Movie, what movie would it be and what would you change?

If I could, I’d make it so that all those frankly awful Disney movies of the 70s and early 80s would disappear! I wish I could also re-make Tron so that the effects and storyline would resonate with today’s audience… oh wait….

Which Disney Hotel could you live in for the rest of your life?

The Yacht and Beach club because it’s only a short walk to Epcot and the Studios, it’s in a relatively quiet area but not too isolated and it is just beautiful to look at. I would also be very happy in the Grand Floridian of course but I think I would eventually get bored of the restaurants.

What is your favorite Disney book?

I have so many it’s hard to choose! I am currently working through the Disneyland Paris book: From Sketch to Reality and it’s is certainly one of the most beautiful books I’ve seen on any Disney park. I don’t even think that there is anything as close to this for WDW so right now this is my favourite book. Next week I will change my mind (depending on what I’m reading).

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