Friday, April 18, 2014

Dream It! Do It! Book Review by Jeff ...

We have a departure from the usual daydreamings at Blue Sky.  Here's a Book Review of Dream It! Do It!

Dream It! Do It! - My Half Century Creating Disney's Magic Kingdoms by Marty Sklar, 1st ed., 368 pages

Dream It! Do It!: My Half-Century Creating Disney s...
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If you're asking "Who is Marty Sklar?" simply obtain a copy of this book at your earliest convenience.  In the illustrations opposite page 304 of this edition, there is "Ripley's Believe it or Not" picture of Marty Sklar wearing mouse ears.  The caption reads "Marty Sklar, a Walt Disney Imagineer for more than 50 years is the only Disney employee who has attended the opening and has contributed to all 11 of Disney's major theme parks!"  Shanghai may force that to read "first 11" although that's another story.  

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Marty Sklar has been involved with far more than just the theme parks as the reader will discover.  The biographical and historical accounts here impress for a number of reasons.  Marty Sklar has worked as a writer, but he claims it hasn't been on his resume for the 40 years prior to the book's 2013 publication.  There is no "with (fill in the name of the actual writer)" on the cover after his name.  It is roughly chronological, but themed.  In that respect, it is self-exemplary of the work he did for decades.  

He holds back on little.  For example, anti-Semitism is confronted on page 44.  He states, "One thing I did know from personal experience: nothing in my relationship with Walt Disney or his brother was influenced either positively or negatively because I'm Jewish."  Both good and bad business decisions by the company are also detailed.

Probably least interesting is the compulsory early biographical material.  Fortunately, the author knows not to overload (Mickey's 6th Commandment, page 324).  Again, this is where the book isn't just about the various Imagineering processes, it is also an example of the result of those processes being applied to its content.

I have several favorite moments from the numerous accounts he gives from his long career.  On page 161, he speaks of how AT&T (or Bell System prior to its breakup) and not IBM became the sponsor of Spaceship Earth.  IBM had already decided to pass, but Marty Sklar and the people he was with called up AT&T and told them they had one last opportunity to beat IBM to the punch.  They went for it.

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Chapter 13 is dedicated to famous/infamous words that were spoken in an office conference room.  This reminded me of when a group of my friends used to keep a running "quote sheet" of funny things people in the group said like "let's split up into pairs of three."  It's good to know that others say things equally ridiculous like "This thing won't work unless it functions." - Jeffrey Katzenberg.

On page 204, there is an account of what Harry Gray of United Technologies, the original sponsor of The Living Seas, did to get a Disney team from UTC's Hartford headquarters to JFK airport to catch a commercial flight back to Disney's California offices.  If Homeland Security had been around back then, numerous arrests would have been made after a corporate helicopter landed next to an American Airlines jet.  

I'm glad he took time to mention some of the other smaller parks and projects such as Blizzard Beach.  We seem to agree that DisneyQuest, the indoor interactive theme park, should have been given more of a chance to succeed.  

Disney Concept Art - DisneyQuest
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There is no mention of the never-built Disney's America which was to have been constructed in Virginia even though other aborted projects like the Mineral King ski resort are.  

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In my opinion, Disney's America would have been done in by Virginia's weather.  75 degrees one day in April, 35 degrees the next.  A nine-month operating schedule was extremely optimistic.  Even an eight-month operating schedule would have been tight.   Actually, parts of Disney's America were incorporated into Disney California Adventure, but Sklar doesn't mention this either. 

There is heavy criticism of Paul Pressler's time overseeing Disneyland and the skimping on the initial version of Disney's California Adventure.  Apparently, he violated Mickey's 10th Commandment, "Keep it up! (maintain it)."  There is also much said of DCA's extensive and expensive recovery as Disney California Adventure.  A personal takeaway I must remember is the 10th item of the Leader's Bible (part 2) on page 326.  "Remember:  the last three letters of trend are E-N-D."  It seems Mr. Pressler didn't remember that either when buying off-the-shelf amusement park rides and overlaying a little California theming.  

To whom would I NOT recommend this book?  Perhaps the very young and people who don't want to know about the behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing at a major entertainment firm.  If you think that castles just magically appear, then you might not want to read about all the nitty-gritty, hard work, and creative genius that goes into making it happen.  If, on the other hand, you are a Disney fan who can't get enough or an Imagineer wannabe, then go ahead and enjoy.  

I have another recommendation too.  If you work in customer service, especially in the entertainment area, you might want to take a look at Marty Sklar's practical advice in Chapter 18.  Finally, the photo opposite page 177 with Marty and the Matterhorn has a caption which sums up his advice well.  It reads, "If you're not having fun in the fun business, you're in the wrong business." 

- Jeff C.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Disney's Stir Fry Beef Broccoli Concourse Grill Recipe & Review...

Disney's Stir Fry Beef & Broccoli - Concourse Grill at Contemporary resort.

I never had the pleasure of dining at the Concourse Grill unfortunately. I hear nothing but great things about it. My neighbor actually worked there on my college program. This recipe is addicting & amazing! It takes a long time to make the sauce but is worth the wait! It took me an hour to make the sauce. My husband loved the sauce so much he kept the leftovers & used it again the next day. :) This is a keeper recipe for sure!

After adding ingredients at the beginning of process

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Les Chefs de France Gratin de Macaroni Recipe...

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I have not gotten around to dining here yet. I have always wanted to try the mac & cheese there so I just decided to make it at home. This was my very first time trying Gruyere cheese. My husband & I were not fans of this recipe but that was only because we didn't like the cheese. If you are a fan of Gruyere you will love this recipe. It took me exactly one hour to make this start to finish. It is VERY creamy & filling!

Makes 4 servings

  1. 3/4 pound elbow macaroni
  2. 3 cups whole milk
  3. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  4. 1/3 cup flour
  5. 1 pinch nutmeg
  6. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  7. 1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese
  8. 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  9. Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Butter a large baking dish; set aside.
  3. Begin cooking macaroni until just al dente, or slightly underdone. (Keep a close eye on your pasta while you cook the sauce - you would not want to overcook it!) Drain and set aside when done.
  4. While the macaroni cooks, heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat - do not let simmer.
  5. Melt butter in a medium saucepan.
  6. Add flour to melted butter.
  7. Stir 1 to 2 minutes, until butter-flour mixture is golden.
  8. Slowly whisk in warm milk.
  9. Add nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
  10. Cook sauce, whisking often, until thickened - about 10 min.
  11. Remove from heat.
  12. Add heavy cream and half of the Gruyère cheese.
  13. Stir until cheese is completely melted.
  14. Combine macaroni with cheese sauce.
  15. Pour the macaroni and cheese into the large baking dish.
  16. Top with remaining half of Gruyère and Parmesan.
  17. Cover dish with foil.
  18. Bake 10 minutes.
  19. Remove foil and continue baking until cheese is golden brown.
  20. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Before going in oven.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

My Mickey Mouse Watches

When I worked at Disney I found the PERFECT Mickey watch of my dreams. When we moved to our new house three years ago that watch got lost in boxes. This past summer I was cleaning out my husband's garage to discover two boxes that were mine! I have been looking for this watch for years! I stalked Ebay for this watch but never found it.This is by far my favorite watch in the whole wide world! Being that it was in the garage for three years I had the leather band & battery replaced. I got my watch back from the jeweler yesterday & put it right on! It fit perfect. It has the castle in the back ground with fireworks and says Walt Disney World on the glass part. I got this watch in 1999 at the World on Disney in WDW. I always looked for this watch on our trips to WDW. I was so happy when I found it I started jumping up & down! You have NO idea how much it meant to me to find this! It brings back great memories from working at Disney. I worked there before the age of the cell phone so I needed a watch to be on time! ;)

My perfect watch!

When I thought I had lost my favorite watch forever I ordered this one off of Amazon. It is still a little too big even though they took out a bunch of the links. I might have to go back this weekend to have them fix it. It is much larger than my other beloved watch but I still like it.

Do you have a special Disney watch that you cherish? 

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Mickey Mouse Movie House - The Pirate Fairy Review...

Mickey Mouse Movie House- The Pirate Fairy

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Second star to the right is the best way to find Neverland, the setting for Tinker Bell’s latest adventure, “The Pirate Fairy”, now available on Blu-ray and DVD.  This installment of the Tinker Bell series focuses on Zarina, a curious Dust-Keeper fairy whose passion for her talent goes beyond that of an ordinary fairy. She doesn’t just want to deliver pixie dust like most fairy of her talent do; she wants to know everything about it. When an experiment goes wrong, Zarina leaves Pixie Hollow and joins forces with a band of pirates led by James, a dashing pirate who is “hooked” on making the pirate ship fly in order to steal more treasure. Tinker Bell and her friends pursue Zarina in hopes of retrieving the Blue Pixie Dust- a special dust used in Pixie Hollow and an important ingredient in James’ plan. This adventure takes Tink and her companions farther than any of them have ever gone and reveals some secrets that ultimate help them discover the greatest treasures of all-friendship, courage, and loyalty.

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While I traditionally don’t review direct-to-dvd films, Tinker Bell’s stories have generated enough of a following to allow an exception. I bought this movie expecting the best and I was not disappointed. From the beginning, the Tinker Bell film series has explored various facets of Neverland, revealing the magical world from a pixie point of view while still retaining the look and feel of Walt Disney’s original film, “Peter Pan” from which the series is based on. This story takes us into the world of the pirates and brings us into a part of Neverland that, while familiar in some aspects, contains many more secrets than we knew. Be prepared to see a few familiar landmarks and memorable faces as well as some hidden gems along the way. While some have said, the Tinker Bell series takes too many creative turns from the original material written by James M. Barrie, having watched the series from the beginning, my honest opinion is that, while it does deviate from some parts of it, it does so in a way that is fun and intriguing, allowing the audience to be amazed by its many clever twists and turns. Another common argument is the difference in animation styles. Walt Disney’s Peter Pan is hand-drawn while the Tinker Bell series is 3D animation. I would ask anyone who would judge these films based on that fact alone to re-watch each film and forget about the style and focus on the story. Each one adds to Tinker Bell’s background and provides us with more a well-rounded history of Neverland. In addition to this, each one contains a landmark from the original spin and gives us a deep look into parts of these places that weren’t explored in the original film. In conclusion, “The Pirate Fairy” is another magical edition to the Tinker Bell stories, taking audiences to Tink’s mysterious world and reminding us all that adventure and fun are just beyond the horizon. From the Mickey Mouse Movie House, this film earns an A+ and is a must have for any Tinker Bell and/or Disney enthusiast. Well, as Tink would say, “fly with you later”.

Please view the trailer below this post.


Tinkerbell And The Pirate Fairy Official UK Trailer (2014) - Tom Hiddles...