Thursday, November 19, 2015

"One Little Spark" Marty Sklar Book Review

One Little Spark!: Mickey's Ten Commandments and The Road to Imagineering by Marty Sklar, 1st ed., 288 pages

Written by: Jeff C. 

This is the second of Marty Sklar's Imagineering books. The first was Dream it! Do it!.

One Little Spark expands upon topics previously mentioned and adds new material.  Specifically, it addresses Mickey's Ten Commandments (the guiding principles of Imagineering) and the Road to Imagineering (guidance for those who wish to be Imagineers).  Marty Sklar is himself a founding Imagineer and a Disney Legend.

Overall, this book is uneven. The first half is focused and the second it is oddly diffused. In the first half, the discussion of Mickey's Ten Commandments focuses well on each enumerated  item and provides distinct good and bad examples. While the awarding of a bad example trophy carries a feeling of mean-spiritedness, it is pointed out that there is value in learning from mistakes. Some of the picks will evoke strong emotional responses from Disney fans. For example, Sklar disagreed with Walt Disney over the clean exterior of the Haunted Mansion. There are far worse examples of inconsistency at Disney parks (America Sings in Disneyland's Tomorrowland springs to mind). In the postscript, Sklar addresses the predicted upset fans. He explains that he had to narrow his choices and sticks by them.

All of the good examples or "Mousecar winners" remain in parks around the planet. Some of the bad examples or "Goof winners" also remain even after corrective efforts. In particular, the winding walkways of Animal Kingdom park may now include better views of what lies ahead, but they are still a pain in the feet. One Goof is for the removal of an attraction, the House of the Future at Disneyland.

Oddly, there is no mention of the loss of the Skyway or the PeopleMover.  Again, he had to limit his selections.

At the center of the book lies a series of photos and diagrams. It is possible that lumping them together was a compromise between the author and the publisher. It provides a counter-example of what Sklar emphasizes about visual literacy. Why not intersperse some photos closer to the text to which they relate? It may have been cheaper than adding color, but earlier in the book, there is a statement from fellow Disney legend Herb Ryman about the true cost of poor design. The layout should have been more self-exemplary.

In the second half, things fall apart. The concept was to appeal to other Imagineers and have them provide input for the Road to Imagineering. What results is an ever-changing voice in the narrative. This is especially strange considering that one of Sklar's Mousecar winners was "it's a small world" which suffered a similar horrendous early design flaw.  The attraction was supposed to have the children singing their respective national anthems resulting in a cacophonous overload. It wasn't until the Sherman brothers (Richard Sherman wrote this book's introduction) unified all of them with one voice that the concept clicked.  Some of the other Imagineers' stories and examples are good and illustrative. Others felt like filler. The author needed to don a second hat (or set of ears) and provide a harmonizing narrative.

While not quite as good as Dream it! Do it!, One Little Spark should probably make its way on to every Imagineer wannabes bookshelf.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Disney's Minnie's Hollywood & Vine Xmas Dinner Review & Pics...

Disney's Hollywood & Vine Xmas Dinner Review 

My friend Deena just got back from WDW & wanted to share her review on the new limited time dining option at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

We thought we were only booking a buffet dinner without characters @ Disney's Hollywood Studios. We had never eaten at the Hollywood & Vine Restaurant either.

Upon arrival, delighted to discover this is a Very Merry Minnie's Holiday Dinner! And Fab Four character meal to boot!

Upon entering your photo is taken with Goofy as Santa. PhotoPass available.

Given out an index card with the holiday dinner logo and signatures of all the Disney characters present. As they don't sign autographs during dinner. Also given a sheet of holiday stickers as well. All very cute!

Very Fast service. Holiday music playing. Guests invited to sing along! And to those who didn't sing, the speaker said "bah humbug then".

First upon seated a small hot cocoa with cinnamon was served. Unique & yummy. Cheers!

The buffet food was diverse with many many types of meat. The apricot pork was our favorite! Also available is pretzel bread with option for cranberry butter.

Dessert bar adorable with it's chocolate fountain and traditional holiday desserts. Also including the pumpkin cheesecake cups (pictured).

The characters all come around to your table for photos, with their especially fabulous holiday best attire! Highly recommend this experience! It all Jingle Bell Rocked!
(1 table service credit on Dining Plan)

As this is the last year for the Osbourne Christmas lights at the Studios, plus this dinner was a priceless night! These together was more on point with holiday spirit than we found at the MK Christmas party.

Please feel free to send me any questions that you may have. Thank you!

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Disney's Carthay Circle WOC Dinner Review...

CA Adventure Carthay Circle World of Color Dining Package Review...

You can find Carthay Circle at the California Adventure Park. When you first arrive you enter a large lobby. They have books of drink menus & separate wait staff just to bring you drinks. There is also a bar inside off to the side if you just want a drink. Make sure to pay attention to the prices! 

After checking in at the front door we were guided to the front desk area. Even though we didn't make reservations for the World of Color Package they offered it to us. We asked the difference between standing room between our fast passes & the WOC Carthay Circle area & are glad that we went ahead & did the package. You are paying for a much better view if you do the package & I highly recommend that you do it! The 3 course package is $62 per adult. The standing area was basically all the way up front!

Check in Area

I love the old Hollywood feel of this place. I could imagine starlets back in the 40's coming here to hang out. I wanted to try the "Ginger Rogers" Drink & my husband had one of the red wines. You will need to close out your bill before you go upstairs.

This drink was definitely TOO strong for me! ;) 

We sat in the lobby & ordered some drinks while we waited for the host to show us to our table. The host was excellent. He stopped to point out different things & talked about different facts of Disney History. I wish I remembered his name but he was great! 

We were then lead upstairs passing by vintage pictures of Walt Disney on the way to our table. He pulled out my chair & put both of our napkin cloths in our laps. It is a little fancy for us but it is a nice change. :) I will say it was very quiet. I did not see kids in our seating area though.

WOC Menu

Regular Menu

We ended up sitting next to a really nice couple who we talked to for awhile. We got the fresh baked bread brought to our table. 

My husband had the Thai chili soup while I had the salad. The soup was out of this world. The salad was good but not amazing. 

For the main course I had the gnocchi & my husband had the steak.

The gnocchi was beautiful! You could tell it was made from scratch. My husband loved his steak as well. 

The dessert is always my favorite part of a meal. ;) We chose the chocolate bar and Creme brûlée tart. I found the tart extremely hard to eat. I favored the chocolate bar & ate most of it. I would order the chocolate bar again in a heart beat. 

My husband chose coffee service with dessert & it was quite the production! :) 

I would say this is a great place for a special celebration. It was our 5 year anniversary so it was perfect for us. I would go back again in the future after trying some of the other Signature Restaurants the DL area has to offer. 

Even the bathrooms here are beautiful! We had an amazing experience & would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a higher level of service & quality. 

Please feel free to send me any questions that you may have. Thank you!

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