Disney Music Notes: Main Street, U.S.A. Holiday Loop

The Holiday season is a great time to visit a Disney theme park. Not only are guests introduced to seasonal food and entertainment offerings, but the Holiday decor ranges from blindingly apparent (a 60-foot-tall Christmas tree) to charmingly subtle (Holiday-themed paper cups), and rewards curious visitors who scout around.

It's easy to underestimate how much a person can enjoy quasi-European splendor combined with American commercialism.
It’s easy to underestimate how much a person can enjoy quasi-European splendor combined with American commercialism.

Although all the domestic parks and resorts get makeovers,* the biggest concentration is in Disneyland and Magic Kingdom. The element that binds it all together and moves you from land to land is the atmospheric Holiday music; and the loop on Main Street, U.S.A. is a particular pleasure. The songs are a chime-y mix of Christmas standards, and sound like they came straight out of a December cocktail party at Walt and Lillian’s house.

[*One of the under-appreciated wonders of modern management is the decoration of six theme parks and thirty resort hotels by Disney cast members in Florida and California. Not only is the level of detail astounding, but most of the work is completed without the guests seeing it happen.]

The authoritative breakdown of the Main Street, U.S.A. loop was compiled by the great Al Lutz, and his post is the starting point for these notes. I highly recommend clicking over, it’s great. In fact, go ahead and do that right now. This will still be here when you get back. Although, I mean, make sure and come back, too! Haha, don’t just… you know; click away and stay away. You know what? I am overthinking it. Just… do whatever you want.

Assuming you have come back from Al’s post, and with the background out of the way, let’s dive into the Main Street, U.S.A. Holiday music loop notes. The songs in each category are listed in no particular order.

Continue reading “Disney Music Notes: Main Street, U.S.A. Holiday Loop”

DFO Disney Conversations: Epcot Expansion

We belong to a Disney Crew, or a Disney Squad, as the kids might call it these days. This is a fellowship of a dozen or so family and friends who are all long-term Disney fans; and who have spent excessive time, money, and brain cells in service to the Mouse. We have occupied many happy hours with members of the Crew, talking comprehensively* about all things Disney.

[*I do mean comprehensively. From Disney history, to trivia, to debates about rides, movies, and park amenities — right down to the very ideas and concepts behind the whole empire — these conversations are high-level nerdery.]

Just a couple of our squad members, dancing.
Just a couple of our crew members, uh, dancing? Which we totally do all the time… I guess?

So, when The Walt Disney Company announced that one of their oldest theme parks will be the focus of a multi-billion dollar makeover, we got all excited to talk about it with the Crew. More specifically, we wanted to wildly speculate about what it might mean when Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek declares Disney would be doing “…some major transformation at Epcot in the future.”

For this Deep Forest Outpost Disney Conversation, Amy and I sat down with frequent collaborators and fellow travelers Rich and Hydee. Both are deeply intelligent and well versed about a great many things, including Disney. We tend to lean on Rich for his analysis and linear thinking, whereas Hydee is our keeper of “Disney Lore” and has an encyclopedic knowledge of the characters and media.

Continue reading “DFO Disney Conversations: Epcot Expansion”

The DONALD Rankings Top 20: #18 Inside Out

The DONALD Rankings are scores for Disney animated films that combine personal opinion with a pseudo-scientific veneer of hard data. For a full introduction to the DONALD system, please go here. Contribute your scores in the comments!

The next film on our Top 20 list is Inside Out from Pixar, which won the 2015 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Based on a story by director Pete Docter (Up) and co-director Ronnie del Carmen (a key story guy at Pixar since 2000), Inside Out follows the life of 11-year-old Riley Andersen through the lens of five personified emotions that control her interaction: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear.

I suspect the insides of most 11-year-old's heads is much weirder than this.
I suspect the inside of a typical 11-year-old’s head is actually much weirder than this.

Inside Out is anchored by an extraordinary and complex story, with deeper concepts not often found in a family film. It was also the first Pixar film created without input from studio co-founder Steve Jobs, who passed away in 2011. Pixar moved forward with admirable poise, especially when contrasted to the precipitous dip in quality at Walt Disney Animation Studios that followed the passing of their visionary founder in 1966.

Inside Out received universal critical acclaim, and was screened at all of the swankiest gatherings of film buffs, including the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. It was praised as the strongest Pixar film in recent years, and reviewers used expressions like “transcendent,” “buoyant,” and “therapeutic” in their breathless descriptions.

But how does it stack up against the greatest Disney animated films of all time? Pretty well, actually…

Continue reading “The DONALD Rankings Top 20: #18 Inside Out”

The DONALD Rankings Top 20: #19 Finding Nemo

The DONALD Rankings are scores for Disney animated films that combine personal opinion with a pseudo-scientific veneer of hard data. For a full introduction to the DONALD system, please go here. Contribute your scores in the comments!

Welcome back the top twenty of the Deep Forest Outpost DONALD Rankings. Today we continue our countdown with the Pixar gem Finding Nemo.

"Have you ever thought about the fact that we swim around in our own poop all the time?"
“Have you ever thought about the fact that we swim around in our own poop all the time?”

When Finding Nemo hit the theaters in 2003, Pixar was still an independent studio distributing under the Walt Disney Studios banner. Their films were also a high point in the flagging animation division at Disney*. Both groups threatened to walk away ahead of their merger in 2006, citing massive executive egos and demands for more money and power as the reasons for the divide (more or less).

[*Disney’s animated releases during the Pixar distribution deal included Dinosaur, Treasure Planet, and Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Probably unnecessary spoiler alert here, but none of those films will be included in the DONALD Top 20.]

Pixar knocked another one out of the ballpark with Finding Nemo, which sparkles with amazing animation, great characters, and a clever story. Their streak of success put Disney in an untenable position. The Mouse House eventually caved, put John Lasseter and Ed Catmull in charge of all animation, and kicked off the next/current renaissance of Disney films.

Continue reading “The DONALD Rankings Top 20: #19 Finding Nemo”

Disney Parks Like a Pro, Part Two: The Six Practices

If you didn’t read Part One, please find it here. If you are already exhausted by clicking internet links all day, then do whatever you want. I’m not your dad.

In Part One we revealed the three principles for enjoying a Disney park vacation:

  • Willingness to try
  • A small measure of imagination
  • Resolved budget concerns
This one photo captures at least three of the six practices.
This one photo captures at least three of the six practices…

But that was just the preparation round of this (needlessly complicated?) strategy guide. To really visit a Disney park like a pro, we also need to address what to do when there.

In Part One we also referenced conversations with friends about surviving a Disney trip. Like the three principles, the following six practices are developed from those discussions over the course of many years. The practices are flexible and should be adapted to each individual’s requirements and interests.

Although we recommend trying everything, it’s better not to focus on all six practices the entire time. Decide which ones you enjoy the most*. It’s still a vacation, after all; no need to bring a checklist.

Continue reading “Disney Parks Like a Pro, Part Two: The Six Practices”

Disney Parks Like a Pro, Part One: The Three Principles

As a Disney Parks and Resorts fan, I recognize that some people will never understand the appeal. A percentage of the population is just not wired for entering a world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy, and I am fine with that. Everyone has something they like, and it’s okay if it’s not Disney-related. Besides, the parks are crowded enough as it is.

Yep, nothing cool to see here. At ALL. Everyone should just stay home...
Yep, nothing cool to see here. At ALL. You’re not missing anything, just stay at home…

But visiting a Disney park has also become a rite of passage. Kids reach a certain age, and adults feel compelled to take them to Walt Disney World/Disneyland, whether they want to spend the time and money or not. This is an easy path to miserable experiences for all. Nobody has fun on a trip when the people paying for it are irritated the entire time.

I always feel bad when I spot one of those unhappy groups, because it is certainly possible for a non-fan to enjoy their vacation to a Disney park. I mean, it shouldn’t be that hard, right? Every year, millions of guests visit thousands of acres of design and technology dedicated to just that proposition.

Continue reading “Disney Parks Like a Pro, Part One: The Three Principles”

Thanksgiving Dinner Matchup: Your Family vs. Mickey and Friends

Happy Thanksgiving from the Deep Forest Outpost! We hope you have a wonderful day filled with loved ones, laughter, and mountains of food. Or whatever you want your day to be filled with — hey, we just want you to be happy.

Pictured: Mickey on the way to his very first Thanksgiving dinner. Unfortunately, Walt Disney had not drawn any friends for him yet.
Pictured: Mickey on the way to his very first Thanksgiving dinner. Unfortunately, Walt Disney had not drawn any friends for him yet.

I was conducting my morning rituals the other day when I started wondering what it would be like to have Thanksgiving dinner with Mickey Mouse and his friends (I often have these deep thoughts while sudsing). The brainstorming ground proved fertile, and I started taking notes. Who would play all those critical parts in the holiday drama? How would it measure up to our own family meals? These were ideas that needed exploring.

So exercise your imagination for a few minutes with me and come along as we spend the holiday with Mickey and company…

Continue reading “Thanksgiving Dinner Matchup: Your Family vs. Mickey and Friends”

How to Find the Perfect Holiday Gift for the Disney Lover in Your Life

The gift-givingest time of the year is just around the corner, and unless you are a crazy overachiever with ample free time, you have some items yet to buy. But if someone on your list is a Disney lover, you are in luck; your shopping is about to get a lot easier. Welcome to the Deep Forest Outpost Disney Gift Shopping Primer.

This is what it looks like when a Disney lover dreams about the Holidays.
Come. Accept this gift of your own free will. Then give us all your money. Join us. Joiiiiiin uuuuusssssssss…

One usage note: This primer is for adult gifts. Disney gifts for kids and teens are pretty easy. Infants and toddlers get something soft and fluffy with Mickey Mouse on it, older children get a toy from the latest hit movie, and teens get a t-shirt.

It’s only as adults that we start judging people based on their gifts. Kids may not like what you give them, but they won’t think you are a jerk when they unwrap it. That impulse seems to kick in around the time you are legally able to vote in the United States, which can’t be a coincidence.

Read below and decide which message you want to deliver this Holiday season. Let’s dive in!

Continue reading “How to Find the Perfect Holiday Gift for the Disney Lover in Your Life”

The DONALD Rankings Top 20: #20 Cars

The DONALD Scores are rankings for Disney animated films that combine personal opinion with a pseudo-scientific veneer of hard data. For a full introduction to the DONALD system, please go here. Contribute your scores in the comments!

********

Welcome to the best of the best: the top twenty of the Deep Forest Outpost DONALD Rankings. I have been excited about these posts for several years, ever since we finished watching all of the Disney animated movies in a four-month span (and inventing a quackery-filled method of ranking them). Although there is something to love in all the Disney films — even the oddballs — the list from 1-20 is filled with treasures.

cars-image-disney
Lightning McQueen never settles for anything less than first place. Tow Mater is probably fine with twentieth. Image by Disney.

Released in 2006, Cars was the seventh full-length feature film from Pixar, and a passion project of their chief John Lasseter. It was also Pixar’s first movie that was not met with universal acclaim.

Which presents a problem for this list: a couple of the more critically heralded releases are ranked lower than Cars in the DONALD matrix. But, as will be made clear below, the movie scores high in some key points to give it a well-deserved spot in our top quarter of Disney films. Continue reading “The DONALD Rankings Top 20: #20 Cars”

Seven Observations from the Disneyland Resort

We took a quick vacation to Disneyland this summer. It was “quick” in two ways: first, we conceived, planned, and executed the trip in just three weeks, which is fast for a couple of plodders like us. Second, we only spent three and a half days on the property*, which felt way too brief.

[*If you just spit out your beverage at the mere concept of spending three and a half days in Disneyland, then, my friend, there is a chance this post may not be for you. Feel free to click somewhere else (maybe try Yellowstone!).]

Although the attractions were part of our trip, we were really there to relax. Most of our time was spent soaking in the atmosphere, poking around the shops, and eating good food. It was everything we had hoped. It was fantastic.

One of our favorite attractions in Disney California Adventure. The ride in the background is pretty good, too.
One of our favorite attractions in Disney California Adventure. The ride in the background is pretty good, too.

In the midst of all that relaxing, soaking, poking, and eating, we made seven observations from our time at the resort. Please enjoy, and add your own comments and observations below. Continue reading “Seven Observations from the Disneyland Resort”