Picture: Â Slumdog Millionaire
Director:Â Danny Boyle,Â Slumdog Millionaire
Actor: Sean Penn, Milk
Actress: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, Doubt
Original Screenplay: Wall-E Adapted Screenplay: Slumdog Millionaire
Animated Film: Wall-E Foreign-Language Film: Departures
Documentary: Man on Wire
Editing: Slumdog Millionaire Cinematography:Â The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Art Direction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Costume Design: The Duchess
Makeup: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Music Score: Slumdog Millionaire
Song: Jai Ho, Slumdog Millionaire
Visual Effects: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Sound Editing: The Dark Knight Sound Mixing: Wall-E Live Action Short: Toyland Animated Short: Presto
Documentary Short: The Witness: From the Balcony of Room 306
18/24 but nearly a sweep in the top categories. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Every year I try to guess who’ll win at the Oscars. For an amateur Oscar historian I think I do fairly well, and though I haven’t had a ton of time this year to pay as close attention as I’d like here are my picks.
Picture: Â Slumdog Millionaire Director:Â Danny Boyle,Â Slumdog Millionaire Actor: Sean Penn, Milk Actress: Kate Winslet, The Reader Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, Doubt Original Screenplay: Wall-E Adapted Screenplay: Slumdog Millionaire Animated Film: Wall-E Foreign-Language Film: Departures Documentary: Man on Wire Editing: Slumdog Millionaire Cinematography:Â The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Art Direction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Costume Design: The Duchess Makeup: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Music Score: Slumdog Millionaire Song: Jai Ho, Slumdog Millionaire Visual Effects: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Sound Editing: The Dark Knight Sound Mixing: Wall-E Live Action Short: Toyland Animated Short: Presto Documentary Short: The Witness: From the Balcony of Room 306
Biggest crossing-fingers moment? If by some sort of miracle, somehow, amazingly that Heath Ledger is upset and Kirk Lazarus Robert Downey Jr. grabs the prize.
I know the headline seems like a backhanded compliment, but it isn’t intended as such. It’s just that “I Really Do Like a Lot of the Aspects of Disney’s California Adventure Park” doesn’t really roll off the tongue.Â
The other day, I spoke about the changes at It’s a Small World and today we’ll discuss Anaheim’s other big construction project taking place across the plaza at Disney’s California Adventure (hereby abbreviated DCA). I’d like to discuss this from the perspective of a native Californian and yearly visitor to the Disneyland Resort since 1994.
Even before it opened, DCA drew ire from the Disney community but not for the reasons you might expect. It wasn’t so much for what DCA was, but for what it wasn’t. You see, Disney had floated an idea of an Epcot-style park called WestCot. But, for a variety of reasons, that project was shelved and instead they build DCA as the “second gate” in Anaheim. This upset fans who really wanted to see WestCot.Â Rather than dust off an already existing theme for park (ala Florida’s Epcot), they went with an original concept that was a “salute to the Golden State.”Â Geared more to adults and teenagers, the original version of DCA eschewed Disney characters, perhaps to fault. But, mostly DCA has underperformed due the lack of attractions, not the quality of them. Let me attempt to persuade you.
As a native Californian, I really like the theme of celebrating our state. Best exemplified by the Soarin’ Over California attraction, the diverse nature of the state does lend itself to wonder and a variety of themes and locales. Probably my favorite part of DCA is the Grizzly Peak Recreation Area (technically part of the “Golden State” land at DCA). The signature attraction is the Grizzly River Run, a rapids ride under the majestic Grizzly Peak. I usually ride this and although you get wet I still think it’s a blast. The craftsmanship of the rock work is exemplary and I really like the “national park” style theming. Right next to this attraction is the similarly themed Redwood Creek Challenge Trail and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, two big areas that continue the theme. The current home for Soarin’ is a Golden State section called Condor Flats, a tribute to California’s aviation industry. But concept art for the revised DCA park shows the Grizzly Peak area extending all the way through what now is Condor Flats. A re-themed Soarin’ building with craftsman architecture elements would be outstanding.
I also like the idea behind Paradise Pier, a tribute to the seaside amusement parks of the early part of the twentieth century. California Screamin’ is probably my favorite roller coaster and definitely has the right feel as something that was inspired by classic wooden coasters that I am familiar with, like The Giant Dipper in Santa Cruz. I also like some of the “carnival” rides like The Golden Zephyr, Mulholland Madness, The Orange Stinger, and The Sun Wheel.Â There are lots of thrills in these rides, certainly on par with D tickets at other Disney parks.Â
“But wait Kevin” you might say. “Where is the ‘imagineering’ with those attractions? Aren’t they just ‘cookie-cutter’ attractions?”Â Yes. And no. The ride systems are no unique, but I think the theming of The Orange Stinger, Sun Wheel, and the Golden Zephyr are actually well done with the overall look of the Paradise Pier area. It’s true that Mulholland Madness could use something more imaginative, however.
All of which brings us to the changes currently underway at Paradise Pier. First, the entire Paradise Bay is drained to install a fountain-based show called The World of Color (think: fireworks on the water). This addresses a major complaint about DCA, which is that it lacks a night-time show equivalent to Fantasmic! or Illuminations at Epcot. This is a point I’ll agree with the purists on, since trying to shoehorn the old Main Street Disney’s Electrical Parade as a major “draw” didn’t really cut it. Once this show is operational in spring 2010, the hope is that nobody will complain that DCA isn’t a “full day” park.Â
Of course, the critique that DCA is only a “half day” park is quite annoying, especially when it comes from proponents of other Disney theme parks like Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida. That’s a park that has a great amphitheater for Fantasmic! but I’d still say that DHS isn’t worthy of “full park” status. People point out all the people who only visit DCA after going to Disneyland Park or who leave DCA and head right over to the original Magic Kingdom. But you know what? If Epcot was a couple hundred feet from Disney’s Hollywood Studios, don’t you think you’d have a lot of cross-over there, too?
My original thoughts about DCA years ago were that there was nothing wrong with the theme that more attractions couldn’t fix. As such, in the past few years DCA has seen an upgraded “dark ride” based on Monsters Inc, a whole new section of kiddie rides based on A Bug’s Life, Turtle Talk with Crush, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and Toy Story Midway Mania. All of these have really rounded out the quality and quantity of attractions, though at the cost of the California theme. They’re great attractions, but I wish more could have been done like the “original and only in California” attractions like Soarin’, California Screamin’, and Grizzy River Run.Â
Which brings us full circle with Paradise Pier – an area that will have Disney character overlays on The Sun Wheel (Mickey’s Fun Wheel), The Orange Stinger (Silly Symphony Swings), and Mulholland Madness (Goofys…).Â Maybe this will mean they’ll continue to make these rides more appealing to families (a recent addition of a double-swing on The Orange Stinger allowed my son Quinn to ride this year). At least they aren’t messing with my beloved Golden Zephyr.Â
Other changes at DCA in the future include a new land based on the movie Cars – Cars Land. Three more attractions will be added, including an E-ticket called Radiator Spings Racers. This whole area looks great and while again the California theme is at the very least stretched to accommodate, we take solace that this isn’t based on an existing attraction from Florida.Â
The biggest upcoming change to DCA is a completely revised entrance plaza. The mish-mash of “picture postcard” themes will be replaced by a replica of the Hollywood that Walt Disney encountered in the 1920s. This should create much more a immersive and homey feel and is one change that I really agree with.Â The current entrance plaza is not particularly charming and worse the musical cues are a “greatest hits” of pop songs about California. Unfortunately the playlist is pretty small so chances are you hear them over and over again. If I never have to hear “Hollywood Nights” or “California Dreaming” again it’ll be too soon!
Call me a “homer” if you like, but I really do enjoy visiting DCA.
I love hanging out in the Grizzy Peak area and I might be the old adult who loves hanging out in A Bug’s Land. Both feature immersive theming that are on par with New Orleans Square or Fantasyland. I have always enjoyed DCA’s E-tickets (I’m even starting to like the stomach in your throat aspects of Tower of Terror), and think Toy Story Midway Mania really fits in well to the Paradise Pier theme.Â View DCA on it’s own merits, and resist the temptation to compare it to it’s much larger and established neighbor Disneyland Park.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad Disney is spending major $$ to improve the park. But I’ve always liked the park and continue to view it as a major destination for any Disneyland Resort visitor.
As you may know, Disney recently reopened It’s a Small World at Disneyland. Among the changes to attraction were an updated boat canal (to accommodate passengers that are larger than the ones who were around when the ride was designed in the early 1960’s) and spruced up costumes and decor. But the “rehab” also is causing buzz in the internet thanks to a couple supposedly “controversial” changes. Despite quotes like “disastrous” and “damaging the attraction’s core message of world peace,”Â the changes are much ado about nothing
Let’s start first with the inclusion of a new American scene, replacing the old rainforest scene that was merged with the tiki-themed room. This new scene features a few characters from a farm, along with the requisite representation of America worldwide: cowboys and indians. Disney purists bemoan the removal of the rainforest scene, even starting a protest site called Save the Rainforest. But, if the ride is supposed to celebrate the children of the world, shouldn’t the children of America be represented as well?Â As for the rainforest scene, I think that’s kind of a bummer but let’s face it, the original version of the attraction had a lot of emphasis on the Hawaiian and Polynesian culture that was en vogue in the early 60s. That’s a genre I love, but I can see that scaling it back is more aligned with current tastes.
The major change that is causing uproar is the inclusion of Disney characters, in country-specific locations throughout the ride.Â For example, in the aforementioned Hawaiian section you see Lilo and Stitch. In the United Kingdom you see Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan and Tinkerbell. Mulan appears in the China scene, and so on. There are now 29 characters in the attraction, according to Disney.Â
Purists bemoan this change, as it supposedly a crass and opportunist change meant to sell more Disney merchandise. See MiceAge.com’s Al Lutz says “Adding the Disney characters into the ride is something that only the marketing people could love, because it sure doesn’t do any favors to the show itself.”
My take is that for the most part these characters are well integrated. There was already a scene with mermaids, so why not include Ariel? There are already flying carpets, so does it really matter if Aladdin and Jasmine are sitting on one of them?Â With a few exceptions, the integration is seamless and reasonably subtle and in my opinion makes the ride a bit more fun.Â
Another gripe about the characters is that this will cause families to play “spot the character” instead of looking at the dolls of the children around the world, as if this activity doesn’t already happen when families try to identify landmarks and specific countries in the displays. “See kids, there is Big Ben, so that’s the United Kingdom. And look, there are some shamrocks from Ireland!” Plus, one could argue the recent revisions at Pirates of the Caribbean have the same sort of effect, as people play the “spot the Pirates movie references” game. Where were the Disney purists when those changes happened?
The changes aren’t perfect. A few of the displays are little too obvious, such as Cinderella who sits straight ahead from your boat and close to the water so you can’t miss her. The American scene features Woody and Jesse “toys” from Toy Story; the toys are far too large and obvious and really don’t fit in the same way an actual character representation might have. For example, Davy Crocket is a character Disney could have used to maintain the “Disney-ness” without having to replace a human with a toy. Of course, that would assume kids today know who Davy Crocket is…
Taken as a whole, the changes did not bother me in the least It’s true that It’s a Small World isn’t my favorite Disney attraction, but being a big Walt Disney fan I’m certainly cautious when something he personally touched is changed (can you say “Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management?”). I’m temped to pull out William Shatner’s “get a life” video from SNL but will show restraint about the Disney purists.
But at least for my family and me, the changes to It’s a Small World are no big deal.
We’ve made our summer vacation plans and this year we’re heading to the home Governor Sarah Palin herself, Alaska. We’ve booked a Princess Cruises 7-day cruise roundtrip from Seattle on board the Golden Princess vessell. The ports of call are Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria. Our cruise leaves on June 27, so we’ll be leaving the Bay Area a few days before to drive up.
We were thinking about a cruise but Disney priced themselves out of our summer budget. We had taken an Alaska cruise back in 2001, so we knew what this would be like. I’d be happy to show you photos of that trip but that was the last big trip we made before digital cameras, so you’ll have to do with the itinerary map. There was another cruise that started and ended in San Francisco, but it was a 10-day cruise and a lot more expensive even when you consider hotel and gas expenses for the drive to Seattle. Plus, the boys (especially Riley) really wanted to go back to Seattle. Which is okay, because it’s definitely a great city.
We’re really looking forward to the cruise. They’re always so relaxing and we hope to see some great sights. We’ve been to all the ports of call before, but there is always something new to see in each city. Maybe we’ll stop by to see the Governor, too.
(no, I have no idea why Princess left the U off their map in the brochure)
This idea didn’t come because of a burning need to try something new but out of necessity: I wanted peanut butter and jelly and the only bread was hot dog buns.
But, I must say, PB&J on a hot dog bun is better than okay. It’s better than simply delicious. It’s even better than amazing. What’s better than that?
PB&J on a Hot Dog Bun is the Future!
How to Make It
It’s fairly simple but the key part is to layer the peanut butter on both sides of the inside of the hot dog bun. And, unlike a hot dog that’s too long or too short, you have the full amount of bun to play with and can cover the entire inside. It’s probably best to open the bun up really wide. I happen to like Skippy Natural Chunky style peanut butter but it’s really up to you.
After the peanut butter is applied then you pour the jelly down the middle. This is where you need to be a little careful not too get too much near the ends of the bun. Go ahead and layer on the jelly extra thick – the bun is thicker than regular old bread so it’ll handle it.
At the end it should look something like this. Then all you have to do is pick your favorite beverage and enjoy.
As I said earlier, this is the future of PB&J. My son Quinn, pictured above, is kind of a picky eater. When I first invented this he wanted no part of it. But today he actually asked for it. Â He asked for it! And he ate it up way quicker than a regular sandwich and didn’t even eat around the crust like normal.
So mark the date. February 5, 2009: The Day PB&J on a Hot Dog Bun went mainstream.
Give it a try – and leave a comment to say how you like it.