Thursday, November 14, 2013


Spoiler Free Movie Review:

I had the opportunity to view this film on Wednesday November 13, 2013 at a Private Preview Event and here is my review.

I went into Saving Mr. Banks with my best efforts at an open mind as I knew full well that I would, for the first time, be seeing Walt Disney brought to life on the big screen. I also knew that the producers were touching on beloved historical topics, stories and a theme park that may be discerningly judged by many a Disney Fan.

I am SO pleased to report that there is no reason for trepidation or a critical eye.
Now… is it Tom Hanks playing Uncle Walt? Yes. Is it Today’s Disneyland standing in for 1963 Disneyland? Yes. Is it Today's Walt Disney Studio Lot standing in for 1963 Studio Lot? Yes. Does it all come across perfectly? How could it? We are 50 years into the future... they did a fine job in my opinion. 

That said… I highly suggest walking into this film knowing there will be flaws to the critical Disney Fan eye. I also highly suggest that you ignore them, that you allow this film to comfortably immerse you into its story, into the characters and enjoy the ride…

As a tremendous fan, researcher and follower of Walt Disney, I was thrilled with how they first introduce you to Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and continue to sprinkle his persona, mannerisms and that familiar cough… throughout the film. I must admit, it was an emotional experience to see, for the first time, Walt Disney portrayed in a feature film. I have read that some Disney Legends that worked with Walt were brought to tears recently when screening the movie themselves as Tom Hanks brought enough to the character to stir vivid memories...
As for the movie as a whole… This is a wonderful story behind the story of Mary Poppins the film and P.L. Travers the Author. This movie is filled with story, emotion, humor and superb acting by all, especially Emma Thompson. This film I believe will translate to a broad audience as it has something for everyone, young and old, Disney Fan or not…

By the time the credits roll… and be sure to stay for the credits… you will have laughed at the smart humor and the spot-on facial expressions, giggled at the inside references and tapped your foot to the music you know so well. You will also find yourself caring for a variety of the wonderful characters, smiling with glee each time ‘Walt Disney’ is on screen, wishing you could hang out with the Sherman Brothers in their heyday and you likely will even have cried… for so many reasons…

Saving Mr. Banks has instantly become one of my Top 3 films for 2013. Both for reasons as an overall movie fan and personally as a Disney Fan.

I cannot stop thinking about the film, the characters and the music... wanting to revisit them all again as soon as possible.

I can’t wait for YOU to see this film. I can’t wait to see it again. And again.

Until it is released in Theaters on December 20th...
Let’s go fly a kite
Up to the highest height
Let’s go fly a kite
And send it soaring...

Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Oh, let’s go fly a kite
Let’s goooo fly a kite!

Friday, October 25, 2013

What IS a Disney Fan??

What is a Disney Fan?

Why are YOU a Disney Fan? Ask one thousand Disney Fans this question and you will receive one thousand different answers. What is it about the Walt Disney Company that makes ordinary people become tremendously dedicated Disney fans? No other company in the world has fans like Disney enjoys. There are movie stars, singers, bands, movies such as Star Wars or Star Trek but no company compares remotely to the “Magic” Disney possesses.

What makes a Disney Fan in the first place? Could it be an animated feature, a specific character, a theme park, an attraction, a live action film, a song or Uncle Walt himself? The legend goes that “It all started with a Mouse”. I believe it all started with Walt Disney.  

What makes a Disney Fan? Whether your reason for being a fan is because you love Stitch or Dopey, Pirates of the Caribbean the movie or Pirates of the Caribbean the attraction, Disneyland or Walt Disney World, Feed the Birds or When You Wish Upon a Star, a Disney Cruise or the Mickey Mouse Club, Beauty and the Beast or Toy Story, it all comes down to these traits: Quality, story, detail, emotion, immersion and magic.

No matter what brings you into the Disney world it is these six traits that bring you to a relationship, a friendship if you will, with the Walt Disney Company. If I say Pirates of the Caribbean, what is the first thing that pops into your mind? The Bayou, fireflies, waterfalls, buried treasure, a banjo, cannon fire, “dead men tell no tales…”, that dog with the key in his mouth… does the attraction immediately pop into your mind? Do you close your eyes and find yourself in that boat? Do you start humming that song… Yo ho yo ho a Pirate’s life for me… You can feel the immersion… you can smell the smells… it is magic!

We all have an emotional attachment to Disney and there are things that we can ONLY do while with Disney or at a Disney theme park. For example, my daughter Sydni, she loves the Nestle Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches they sell at the carts all over the park. She will eat 20 of them while we are there and that is just the first day. But when we see them in the local grocery store, she has no interest at all. I asked her about this one day and her reply was, “They just don’t taste the same as when we are at Disneyland.” Now, does Nestle sprinkle some magic flavoring into the ice cream cookie sandwiches sold in Disney Parks? I doubt it. Is the notion that while she is eating that ice cream cookie sandwich and I my giant turkey leg that there is an amazing thing that occurs? The subtle background music of turn of the century America filling the air while we sit on a bench, twinkling lights in the trees all around us, the bell from a Main Street Trolley ringing in the distance, the growl of the Yeti, a Cast Member sweeping up popcorn and stops to say hello, Snow White wishing at her well or that amazing Castle… that wonderful magical castle gleaming before us like a dream come true… Yes, that is it.  Those are all IT. Seven Eleven has no castle that is for sure.

That is what sets Disney apart and that is why I am a fan. You can experience dreams come true, a magic moment just around the corner, you can experience another world, time or place, get a song stuck in your head… It IS A Small World After All…  or go for an incredible journey with an old man, a young boy scout and a talking dog named Dug in a remodeled Victorian house lifted into the air by thousands of vibrantly colored balloons to an adventure in far off lands only to find a small tear in your eye and new found friends along the way. Pure emotion. Pure Magic. Pure Disney Fan.
Do you agree? Disagree? Other ideas about this topic?
Post your thoughts and comments below:

Monday, October 17, 2011


We decided to change up our annual Halloween Display this year including adding this Jack O Lantern Arch at the entrance to our doorway.
We got some ideas from photos we had viewed online however the final result was achieved via some trial, error and on the go fixes including the use of Duct Tape.

We have had many questions on how it was done so here you go...
Try it at your own risk, expense and patience... :)


First we purchased 30 pumpkins.
We found these at Michaels, Joanne's and Target. They are a foam type, hollow and can be carved.
We spent a couple of hours carving various scary, happy and Disneyesque faces...
Then we needed something to put them on.
We visited Lowe's Hardware store where we found 4 foot rebar and a whole lot of PVC pipe and connectors. With a idea on paper and some general measurements we began cutting... and cutting... and cutting... Oh... and measuring too... sometimes...
And here is the result and basic framework of the arch:
this arch measure 8 feet tall, 10 feet wide and includes a 45 degee angle portion on each side to compliment the arch style. We first pounded in 4 rebar's into the ground and placed the PVC pipe over them to create stability. This has worked very well so far.
We also included 6 cross bars fairly equally distributed around the arch to create stability and a uniform distance between the two main PVC pipes.
Then... we got started placing pumpkins with the biggest one on the top right in the middle.
We also chose to place the smaller sizes right next to the big guy to emphasize his stature.
These carvable pumpkins are hollow and are fairly light weight so things seemed fine soooo... we added more pumpkins to the arch:
We secured the pumpkins to the PVC pipe with a craft wire we found at Michael's. The wire is wrapped with a brown paper material so blended in well.
This is when we decided that the arch needed a little more securing.
The weight wasn't getting too bad yet however, it does get windy in the PNW and that could cause a problem. Se we purchased some small gauge wire and screw in hooks and tied the wire around various key points on the arch and five main support locations on the house, front, back and sides of the arch.
Then we added more pumpkins...
Then... we realized we didn't have nearly enough pumpkins...
Lucky for us there were sales... 50% off at Michaels and Joanne's. Whew...

We were having some issues with getting the pumpkins to sit just right on the arch so I added this 2 inch x 1/2 inch x 8 foot board on the top to help support the pumpkins.
Once the arch was full of pumpkins, two rows and two wide. 70 pumpkins in all... we then moved on to stringing and placing the lights in the jack o lanterns.
Be sure to use lights that are for outdoor use.
Then we needed to hide the PVC pipe... We painted some of it black and in retrospect, I recommend painting it all brown or black before you set it up.
We then found fall leafy vines at Michael's and Joanne's for 60% and 80% off and filled in the gaps!!

Here is what the PVC arch corners and the cross members look like:
After much duct tape, stringing of lights and outdoor power strips, vines and touch ups...
Here is the finished product:

After nearly 2 full days of work, numerous trips to Hardware and Crafts stores and several more hours of set up and carving... we are very pleased with the final product. Now we just hope it holds together when the wind and rains comes...

And now ladies and gentlemen...
Here is the arch lit up at night:

If you choose to give this a try... plan for more time than you think and many more pumpkins that you think...
Good luck and Happy Halloween!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Paine Field Airshow

We had the opportunity spend a fantastic day at the Paine Field Open House and Fly-In in Mukilteo in May 2011.

This one is somewhat unique in that there are two Historical Airplane 'Museum's' on site as well as the largest building in the world by volume, Boeing Everett Manufacturing Plant. The Future of Flight owned & operated by Boeing includes the history and future of Flight focusing on Boeing including a Tour of the manufacturing facilities. The Flying Heritage Museum owned by Microsoft co-found Paul Allen, includes over 25 rare & historical planes and exhibits. The Historic Flight Museum Collection is home to eight aircraft from 1927 to 1957 completely restored and flight ready.
During the Pain Field Open House & Airshow all of these locations brought out thier entire flying collections in addition to other fly-ins and Boeing aircraft.
The first part of the day included on tarmac viewing of the planes, tanks, landing gear, engines, airport Firetrucks, classic cars and so much more.

Thousands of fans attended this year and this event continues to grow dramatically each year.
Allowing us access onto the tarmac allowed for some unique and exciting photograph opportunities...

In the afternoon, the planes taxi'd on the runway for fly-by's:

One of the most unique and exciting treats at the event was getting up close and personal with the Boeing Dreamlifter transport aircraft.
Boeing uses this aircraft to transport fuselage, wings and other large sections for thier new 787 Dreamliner. There are four (4) Dreamlifters and all are highly modified 747-400 aircraft that spent a number of years in regular service with various Airlines.
The Dreamlifter has a main cargo volume 3 times the capacity of a 747-400 Freighter and is big enough to carry:
  • 42 million ping pong balls
  • 8 million 12oz cans
  • 80 Mini Cooper cars
  • A 10 lane/3 level bowling alley with room enough for a restaurant
  • 1 pair of 787 Wings
  • 1 787 Mid-body Fuselage Section
The tail opens up to allow cargo to be loaded. The swinging portion of the plane tail weighs as much as a fully loaded WWII B-17 Bomber. Below is the hinge part of the tail section.
 As mentioned, the Dreamlifter is a highly modified 747-400. In the photo below you can see where the original fuselage was cut out (the line just below the "Operated by Atlas Airlines") and the "bulge" was welded & riveted on. You can also see the seam just to the right of the entry door
Here is a close up of the riveted and highly reinforced front section... Wouldn't it have been nice to be the rivet salesman?
Near the end of the event, they took this Dreamliner out onto the tarmac and prepared for takeoff:
Then it was time for take off!!
This big boy takes off LOW and SLOW!!
The Super Cargo Loader has 32 tires and 16 steerable axles.
The entire cargo can be loaded / unloaded in less than 1 hour.
The Dreamlifter is capable of transporting any approved payload to any designated site within 24 hours.

Then she came around for a very unique fly-by with landing gear down.
This offered the opportuntity for these photographs:
And then the Dreamlifter fired up the engines and was off to Asia to pick up another set of 787 Wings...
All in all, a fantastic day with amazing experiences.
May 2012 you can be sure that you will find me on the tarmac at Paine Field to be a part of this event once again...

"More than anything else the sensation is one of perfect peace mingled with an excitement that strains every nerve to the utmost, if you can conceive of such a combination." 
~Wilbur Wright