Friday, November 30, 2012

Tales From The College Program: The Christmas Parade (Part 2)

Day 2:

There was one thing I did not mention in my previous post, the first day of Christmas Parade taping was hot. The funny thing about day two was the temperature dropped significantly.  I went from jeans and a t-shirt to a coat and hat, so did the rest of the crowd.

Day two started off with Clay Aiken singing at the Main Street train station with a bunch of the characters.  He started at the top of the stairs then walked down towards Main Street.  After the first take the director picked up his bullhorn.  "I'm going to have to ask you guys to take your coats off, you see, when we filmed yesterday everyone was in shorts, it's going to look weird if the people at the train station are in coats and everyone on Main Street is in shorts."  No one listened, it was too cold to stand there and pretend you weren't freezing.  Clay finished his song and my roommates and I decided it was too cold to stand around so we headed back to Vista Way.

Day 3:

Another early/warm morning at the Magic Kingdom.  My friends and I decided to walk behind Main Street and see what was going on backstage.  There were a few trailers set up in the parking lot so we approached one of the Disney VIP guides to see what was going on.  He told us that Raven Symone was inside getting ready to film a segment in Fantasyland.  He talked to us for a few minutes before asking if we were Cast Members.  When he found out we were his attitude totally changed, he was borderline furious.  Why else would we have been backstage?  He warned us not to speak, wave, or look at Raven when she came out of her trailer.  A few seconds later she emerged, naturally we waved.  She waved back and said hello.  VIP guy was pissed.

They loaded her into and SUV and drove off, we headed over to FantasyLand to see what she was going to do.  We beat her there and when she arrived saw us and asked "Hey, how did you guys beat me?"  I probably don't need to tell you that VIP guy did not like this either.  I'm pretty sure he tried to have us removed, but we weren't doing anything wrong.  He just scowled at us the whole time.

After Raven was done we headed back to Main Street to watch Regis and Kelly record their commentary.  They were stationed at the end of Main Street just past Casey's Corner.  We ended up standing right behind their podium, so if you have eagle eyes you could see me at 3 different parts of Main Street at the same time wearing 3 different outfits.  By the time Regis and Kelly were taping their part all the parade floats had been filmed.  Main Street was still lined with people though because they needed to see a crowd behind Regis and Kelly.  Since there were no floats on the street everyone just started up at Regis.  The director didn't like this.  He jumped back on his bullhorn "When this airs on TV we are going to put the parade floats behind Regis and Kelly digitally, so I need you guys to pretend a parade is going down the street, wave to each other."  The crowd followed these instructions for a few minutes but then focused all their attention back on Regis and Kelly, except when we all had to stare up at the sky and pretend to be waving at the Santa float.

This concluded my life long dream of attending a Disney World Christmas Parade, it wasn't quite what I expected but it was worth it.  There were obviously performances and floats I skipped because of the cold or lack of interest.  One of those was Jump 5 (whoever they are), I also missed a second appearance by my baby girl Christy Romano, but I had my picture so I wasn't worried.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

It's Kind of a Cute Story: Book Review.

If you haven't bought this book yet, stop reading this and just buy it right now.  Amazon is sold out but you can purchase a copy here.  There is also kindle and nook versions, so you have no excuse.  Anyway, onto the review.


I have read my fair share of Disney bios and memoirs, but "It's Kind of a Cute Story" by Rolly Crump and Jeff Heimbuch is one of the best.  In the book Rolly describes the various projects he did for Disney and you learn a lot about his relationship with Walt.  Rolly and Jeff do a great job of telling you what it was like to work for Walt without glorifying him too much or making him sounds like a tyrant.  Plus, if you've ever wondered what happened to the Tower of the Four Winds after the World's Fair you'll find out in this book.
Any book that mentions Mary Blair is worth reading, and Rolly has some great stories about her. 

I was amazed to hear about some of the incredible attractions he worked on outside of Disney.  Did you know Rolly Crump designed the Ernie Ball logo?  I don't want to give everything away, but his post Disney career is just as exciting. Amazon adventures, naked women, this book has it all!  

I did not want to put this book down, it's full of wonderful (or should I say cute) stories from one of Disney's greatest Imagineers.  Buy it on your ereader now while you wait for the Hardback signed limited edition copy to be released.  You'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tales From The College Program: The Christmas Parade (Part 1)

Since we are getting into the Holiday season, I suppose it's about time I talked about the Disney Christmas Parade.  When I was accepted into the College Program one of the things I was most excited abut was going to The Magic Kingdom on Christmas Day.  As a kid I always watched the Disney Christmas Parade and thought about how great it would be to see it live.  You can imagine my shock when the first week in December the CP Newsletter announced they needed extras for the parade taping.  That's when I realized....They don't actually film the parade of Christmas Day.

This was 2003 before the boom of social media, I didn't get my news from the internet, so there was really no reason for me to think the parade was filmed on any day but Christmas.  Anyway, back to the story.

The taping was done over 3 days.  The first was an early day when only Cast Members could sign up.  We met at the Magic Kingdom before the park opened and were taken to Exhibition Hall where they put us in groups and explained what was going to happen.  On our way in a manager stopped me and asked if I needed help.  It seemed strange to me since everyone walking in was a Cast Member, so I said "Oh, I just need to buy some film (because it was 2003 and people still used film)."  She looked confused "Oh....well, uh, we are having an event right now and..uh"  She saw me start to laugh and realized I was messing with her.  She jokingly said "I hope you don't end up in m group."  Naturally, I made sure I was.

Her name was Cathy, and she was one of the managers at the Emporium.  As she walked us to our spot on Main Street for the taping, I caught up with her and asked who we were going to see.  She pulled out a slip of paper and read off "Wayne Brady and Disney Channel Stars."  I asked "IS CHRISTY ROMANO GOING TO BE HERE?!"  She looked down her list, yes she was.  I told Cathy that I had to meet her.  She promised to do her best to help me and I took my spot on Main Street.

My roommates and I stood across from the Emporium, this was our view.


Things started to get underway.  The first float was Wayne Brady, he rode down Main Street singing "You'll be in my Heart" from Tarzan.


When he reached the end (or beginning) of Main Street the music and his float stopped.  Alright, I thought, who's next.  The float then reversed back to it's starting point and he started over.  If I had to guess I'd say that we heard Wayne Brady sing that 40 second clip 6 times.  

He came over to our section to film some "We'll be right back" segments holding a baby that was in the crowd.  Then he left, time for the Disney Channel Stars.

The Disney Channel kids didn't have a float, they just walked down a short section of Main Street singing a song.  They consisted of the "That's So Raven" cast and Christy Carlson Romano (Star of Even Steven's and voice of Kim Possible."  They didn't take as long as Wayne Brady (which is probably why I don't remember what they sang).  They also filmed some promo shots across the street from us.

  
My roommate Dan had met Christy a few weeks prior to this, and he never let me forget it.  He even had a picture of the 2 together that he would taunt me with.  Here it is:


After they finished their taping, Christy and the other Disney Channel kids were hanging out in a roped off area by the Christmas tree.  I went over to Cathy and said "That's her!"  Cathy went over to Christy and said "There is a guy over here who would like to meet you." and what do you know, she came right over to me.  

Before I tell you about this part though I need to explain a few things.  My coworker, Dan (a different Dan) and I had just bought these children's sized Disney Channel shirts.  I had Kim Possible and he had Lizzy Maguire.  We also thought it would be a good idea to get our hair cut at Walmart, this resulted in me having to shave my hair as short as possible to correct the atrocity.  

So, Christy comes up to me, compliments my shirt and we take this amazing picture together.


Do I need to point out how excited she looks in my picture compared to Dan's??

That was pretty much the end of day one.  I was going to write about all 3 days in this one post, but it's already pretty long so I'll save it for tomorrow.




Monday, November 19, 2012

Bill Cosby: The Arena Theater, Houston, TX.

I drive past the Arena Theater every day on my way to work.  They recently replaced their marquee from the "someone climb up there and put these letters up" style to a digital one.  Every morning when I drive past I look up to see who they have coming.  Naturally, I was shocked when my cousin Andy called and said Bill Cosby was playing there in 4 days because it was never on the marquee!

I had never been to the Arena and the floor lay out on their website was confusing.  Andy and I were in row EE which we figured meant on the balcony.  When we showed up and saw that this was just a small theater in the round and we were in the 4th row, it was kind of a shock.

This was our view when Cosby came out.


Neither of us were really sure what to expect.  In the Jerry Seinfeld documentary "Comedian" there is a scene where Jerry is talking to Chris Rock.  Rock talks about how he had recently seen Bill Cosby perform and that he had done a 2 hour set.  This was 10 years ago though, was the now 75 year old Bill Cosby really going to do 2 hours?  Guess what, he did, and he killed.

He came out at 8:30 and started out talking about how the Texans game had gone into over time.  Making fun of how upset everyone was getting when they were losing "like you are used to winning."  He said, "Don't cry when these guys loose a game, they make millions of dollars, how much do you make?  $50,000?  They should be crying for you!"  After this he went into format, telling humorous stories about his childhood.  Cosby started when he was 7 years old, joking about his mother would beat him and his brothers with an iron cord. (reading that back it doesn't sound very funny, but hey, I'm no Bill Cosby).  Since the stage was round he spent the first full hour walking around, spending time facing each section of the crowd.  When he got to the story of his first spin the bottle experience, he crawled around the floor, just like he had done in the story.  Remember, Bill Cosby is 75!  


He eventually sat in a chair on stage and spun around facing the different sections of the crowd.  He even took his shoes off.  As you can probably tell from the pictures, he's a pretty casual guy.  Around 10:20 the house lights started to flash.  He asked "What does that mean, do I have to stop?"  He asked a man in the audience for the time.  "10:20, what time did I start? 10:00?"   He ended the show talking about his approaching 49th wedding anniversary.  I think if the venue would have let him he would have gone on all night, and I don't think anyone would have minded.


Here is his current tour schedule.  There are only a few dates left, but if he is coming to your town I highly suggest you go see him!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tales From The College Program: No Seatbelt

When you're a CP without a car the parks are pretty much your only day off destination (not that I had a problem with that).  The downside of that being, after riding the Tower of Terror multiple times a week, the thrill is gone.  My roommates and I came up with a solution to this and we called it the Seat Belt Scam.

What we did was this; when we sat in our row we would pull out all the slack from our seat belts.  We would then buckle them and sit on the slack.  After the doors closed and the ride started we would wait till we reached the first drop and get off the slack.  When the ride dropped we would hold the seat belt out as far as it would go and jump off the seat, this way we would fly out of the seat as high as the seatbelt.  When the ride was over we would let go of the slack and the seatbelt would retract back in to the appropriate level of restraint.  This was enough thrill for us, until my friend Steven came to visit and gave a whole new meaning to "Seat Belt Scam."

We had told Steven about the Seat Belt Scam and he was anxious to try it out.  We were seated in the back row and Steven was given the middle aisle spot, which was perfect for what he had in mind.  We all sat down and pulled out our seat belts waiting for the ride to start.  When it did, Steven took his shirt off (which was something he would do on Test Track as a single rider to see the reaction of the strangers he was riding with).  As we approached the drop Steven slipped out of his seat belt.  As he did this, the seat belt retracted.  This was why we always held onto the slack at the end of the seat belt, once you let it go, you can not get it back.  Even if he wanted to, Steven wasn't getting back into his seat belt.

The doors opened, light flooded the elevator car and there was Steven standing in the aisle, shirtless and without a seat belt.  I'm sure the other riders were terrified for him.  Before the car dropped, Steven grabbed ahold of the metal ceiling grate.  We all watched as he lifted his legs up, hanging from the ceiling as the ride dropped.  He did this at every drop, jumping up and down laughing wildly.  Needless to say, it made our Seat Belt Scam look like child's play.

The ride ended and Steven realized he couldn't squirm his way back into his seat belt.  He put his shirt back on and sat back down placing his hand over his stomach to hide the fact that he had no seat belt on.  The rest of the car just looked at him in shock.  When the doors opened, we knew he was in trouble.  Waiting at the exit were 2 Disney officials in suits and a Tower of Terror Cast Member.  As we all walked off the ride one of them asked to speak to Steven.  Steven sensing he was in trouble said "I'm glad your here, I'd like to register a complaint."  He then started to go off about how he had a faulty seat belt.  The managers (or whoever they were) obviously weren't buying it.  "How did your shirt come off?" they asked him.  He told them it was blown off.  Surprisingly, he was not forced to leave the park.  He was told that if they ever caught him doing it again he would be asked to leave.  Steven still maintaining his faulty seat belt alibi assured them that he would not be riding the Tower of Terror again.

While Steven was talking to the Disney authorities, the rest of us stood at a safe distance and listened.  When he rejoined the group we all ran to the photo area hoping to see the picture of a shirtless Steven hanging like a monkey from the ceiling.  Unfortunately, the powers that be decided that our photo was "Lost in the Twilight Zone."