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Programming Note

If, like me, you’re a capital-D Disney fan, you’ve long bemoaned the dearth of classic Disney films on the company’s many cable outlets.

Thankfully, other channels like TCM have come to the rescue and give us an occasional taste of Walt’s films. This week, the Hallmark Movie Channel is stepping up with a crackerjack lineup of goodies:

Wednesday, November 10th

8am – The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin (1967)
10:30am – Summer Magic (1963)
1pm – Blackbeard’s Ghost (1968)
3:30pm – Return to Oz (1985)

Thursday, November 11th

8am – Big Red (1962)

Friday, November 12th

8am – The Three Lives of Thomasina (1964)
10am – The Cat From Outer Space (1978)
12pm – THE UGLY DACHSHUND (1966)
2pm – The Gnome-Mobile (1967)
4pm – Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959)

Be there, aloha!

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California Here We Come?

There’s been a bit of a kerfuffle on the message boards lately about a brochure that someone found on the website of architecture firm George Coon, Inc. The brochure, now removed, described Coon’s work at other firms for a variety of clients. Working with Glover Smith Bode, Coon helped design a new Disney Vacation Club property for Walt Disney World called the California Coast Resort.

From the brochure’s description:

DISNEY VACATION CLUB
CALIFORNIA COAST HOTEL

ORLANDO, FLORIDA

Disney Vacation Club decided to extend its hotel experience with their new California Coast Resort at H1, Lake Buena Vista, Orlando, Florida.

George Coon was invited by the DVC Design Team to work under the direct supervision of GSB Architects, and Mr. Wing Chao, providing design direction for this next and possibly best of the DVC properties in Orlando.

California’s remarkable coast offers an experience of recognizable icons which were chosen to be represented in separate hotel experiences including; Venice Beach, Casa del Mar, Montage, the Balboa Pavilion, Laguna Hills, Newport Beach, and Santa Barbara. The project is presently in the Schematic Design Phase.

COMPLETION DATE:
Estimated 2012

SIZE:
Estimated 1,208 units

PROJECT COST:
To Be Determined

Client Reference:
Wing Chao,
Senior Vice President
WDI
Planning & Architecture

Naturally, lots of fans are taking this as concrete evidence that this DVC resort is on the way. Someone even found another mention of the project in a brochure for Square Peg Design. There are just a few problems.

First, Wing Chao retired from WDI in 2009. Then there’s the fact that unless they’ve been hiding construction for some time, there’s no way that a new resort could be constructed by 2012. At 1,208 units, this would be by far the largest of the DVC properties – much, much larger than even Saratoga Springs. There’s no hiding a project of that magnitude.

It’s also interesting to note that Coon’s brochure includes the never-built Disney’s Vacation Club and Resort at Eagle Pines, and lists it with a completion date of 2008. You might remember that project was announced in 2001, only to disappear almost immediately following the terrorist attacks of that September. The land intended for that resort, adjacent to the Eagle Pines golf course, is currently the site of the millionaires-only Golden Oaks development and Four Seasons project.

All the rumors and permits that have been percolating lately indicate that the next resort project at Walt Disney World will be a new DVC facility between Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness. This, of course, approximates the location of the once-planned Wilderness Junction/Buffalo Junction resort from the Disney Decade of the 1990s.

Unfortunately, this is going to be the way of things for the foreseeable future – a focus on building DVC units at the expense of everything else, especially all that untouched wilderness that Walt wanted to shield his resort from the outside world. DVC is like running a money-printing machine for Disney, so unless corporate leadership has a sudden attack of conscience regarding sustainable development and good taste, look for all that remaining empty land to slowly fill up with timeshares. I just don’t think that, for the time being, a California adventure will be in the cards.

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Your Friday Viewing: It All Started With A Mouse – The Disney Story

For your weekend viewing pleasure, courtesy of Progress City Public Access TV…

This classy little documentary was made for the Disney Channel in 1989. It tells the story of Walt’s life, and continues from there through the events of 1984 and beyond. There’s a great deal about Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, which was in production at the time, and which seemed to be a return to the innovation of Walt’s era (never mind that the Roger Rabbit project was originally championed by Ron Miller in the pre-Eisner days).

Anyway, it’s a pretty good bit of television, unusually even-handed in its biography of Walt, and features “talking head” interviews with a number of great Disney artists who are sadly no longer with us. They actually take some time to talk about the process behind the creation of their famous films, and there are a few stories that haven’t been told to death and are worth hearing. The interviews with Eisner and Katzenberg are interesting as well, as they’re in the earlier, humble days and their apparent candor provides an insight that seems so removed from later years when everything went so wrong.

Here’s the special, in six parts.

Continue reading Your Friday Viewing: It All Started With A Mouse – The Disney Story

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Agree To Agree… At Last

Could the wait almost be over?

A full year after the Chinese central government signed off on the plans for the park, Disney and the local Shanghai government have signed an agreement to create the joint venture company that will built the new resort. The step was, as seems typical, announced by Shanghai officials in the Chinese press and reluctantly confirmed by Disney. This doesn’t mean everything is ready to go; the central government has to sign off again on the joint venture and various regulatory hurdles must be overcome. It makes one wonder that anything ever gets built there.

The prognosticators had prognosticated that a deal would be signed at the start of this month, following the close of the Shanghai World Expo. For once, they prognosticated correctly.

Now the wait begins again – when will we see some artwork? Although I have to say that this is probably the first Disney theme park to come out of the gates promoting a “pleasant, low-carbon environment.” Please, no diamonds in Disneyland! And leave your buckyballs at home!

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Meet Me Down On Main Street

The L.A. Times has posted an interesting photo essay comparing the main thoroughfares of Disneyland and Walt Disney’s hometown of Marceline, Missouri.

Marceline has changed a lot since the Disney family moved away a full century ago; as the article points out, the train doesn’t stop there anymore unless you make a special request. The town’s population of 2,500 is well under five percent of Disneyland’s daily capacity. Yet efforts to revive the area’s sagging economy continue; the Walt Disney Hometown Museum now occupies the old rail depot and helps keep Walt’s Missouri legacy alive.

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