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Chris Queen

All Chris Queen wanted to be growing up was a game show host, a weather man, or James Bond. But his writing talent won out. By day, Chris is a somewhat mild-mannered office manager for an IT managed services provider, but by night, he keeps his finger on the pulse of pop culture and writes about it. In addition to his Disney obsession (as evidenced by his posts on this website), Chris's interests include college sports -- especially his beloved Georgia Bulldogs -- and a wide variety of music. A native of Marietta, GA, Chris moved with his family as a child to nearby Covington, GA, where he still makes his home. He is an active charter member of Eastridge Community Church and enjoys spending time with family and friends. In addition to his work at PJ Media, Chris spent nearly a year as a contributor to NewsReal Blog. He has also written for Celebrations Magazine and two newspapers in Metro Atlanta. Check out his website, www.chrisqueen.net.
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15 Questions About the Challenge of Finding Mr. Righteous

Friday, May 2nd, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Since I read and reviewed Finding Mr. Righteous last week, I’ve had the privilege of developing a friendship with the author, Lisa De Pasquale. I’ve been asking her questions about the book as well as her views on relationships and faith.

1. Chris Queen: Where did the idea for Finding Mr. Righteous originate?

Lisa De Pasquale: One Saturday I was crafting an email in my head to reach out to one of the guys in the book about some religious questions. The questions were real, but I wasn’t sure if they were coming from an honest place. Was I using a man to get religion or using religion to get a man? Then the title, “Finding Mr. Righteous,” came to me. I went to my computer to see if the title had been used before. It hadn’t! Even www.findingmrrighteous.com was available! I bought it and started making a few quick notes, which later became an outline, in my iPhone.

2. CQ: How did you develop the idea of telling the parallel stories of your romantic relationships and your faith journey?

LD: I wanted to write a book that all women – not just Christians or conservatives – would read. I thought the best way to do that would be through a chicklit-type book about dating. I went into the book with a loose outline, but a lot of the experiences in the book were happening in real time. There were at least three men in the book I had no intention of including or didn’t know at the time I started the book. I thank God for wrapping this story up in a nice bow. When I started writing the book I didn’t know how it would end. It was more poignant than I ever could have imagined!

3. CQ: How nervous were you at the thought of baring your soul and the details of some of your relationships?

LD: There were some moments when I thought “Should I really repeat some of these things?” but ultimately I thought the message was important enough to put it out there. I also thought that the only way I could truly connect with other women is by being completely honest about my ups and downs. I couldn’t tell a true redemption story without discussing my sins. I started the book with a quote from St. Francis of Assisi that my friend Liz Neaton posted on Facebook one day. I think it gave me armor for telling my story. He said, “I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, He can work through anyone.”

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The Revolutionary Spies Of TURN

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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I wasn’t looking to get hooked on another series, especially a period drama about a historical era with which I’m woefully unfamiliar. But I tuned in to AMC to get ready for the season premiere of Mad Men and caught the last five minutes of the second episode of TURN, a new program about the exploits of the real life Culper Ring, a small network of spies on Long Island during the Revolutionary War. After just a few minutes, I had programmed my DVR to catch up and became a fan of the show.

TURN centers around four spies: young farmer and magistrate’s son Abraham Woodhull (Jamie Bell), Anna Strong (Heather Lind), wife of the local tavern keeper, himself jailed for treason against the Crown, and militiamen Ben Tallmadge (Seth Numrich) and Caleb Brewster (Daniel Henshall, and Australian actor with the best pan-Celtic accent I’ve ever heard). The four are tired of the mistreatment at the hands of the occupying British, and they manage to pass information back and forth unscathed (so far), risking their lives both on the battle front and in a Loyalist-friendly hometown.

The show has challenged the way I think about the spy game. As one who grew up on James Bond, it’s always been difficult for me to get away from the quips, technology, and hot women and see espionage in a more realistic context. The visceral, realistic rush of TURN is a far cry from 007′s high flying adventures. As I’ve already written over at The Macho Sophisticate:

Instead of cool gadgets, these spies rely on standard weapons. Rather than fire off witty quips, this crew must keep their wits about them. Where James Bond has the backing of a massive government organization, this group counts on clandestine rendezvous and elaborate signals involving hanging laundry to pass on information. And their escapades are just as fascinating as anything Ian Fleming could devise.

Each of the spies has his or her own problems that complicate their roles. Abraham Woodhull must contend with his father, a loyalist judge, and Anna Strong fends off lusty British soldiers. Ben Talmadge must deal with a commanding officer who threatens to court martial him over his interrogation of a British captain, while Caleb Brewster fights nature and his own enthusiasm for the patriot cause.

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The Associated Press Attempts More Disney Guilt by Association

Saturday, April 26th, 2014 - by Chris Queen
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Are Disney and its guests responsible for Orlando’s homeless population? The AP seems to suggest so.

Back in February, I wrote about a phenomenon I call Disney Guilt By Association, a particular type of disinformation in which members of the media attach Disney to negative news stories where the company has an incidental link. In my original article, I wrote:

On far too many occasions Disney has come up against agents of disinformation trying to tarnish its founder, and the company at large finds itself the target of media hatred. From the antics of its former child stars – as if the studio could be responsible for their personal behavior – to the recent attempts to deface Walt Disney that seem to come from out of nowhere, members of the media try to attach any scandal they can to Disney, manufacturing a type of guilt by association.

The Associated Press has published an article documenting the plight of the homeless in the Orlando area (“In Disney’s Shadow, Homeless Families Struggle.”) (The piece even includes the tag, “Homeless in Disney’s Shadow,” as though this particular phenomenon warranted repeated investigation.) The article, which lists no author, chronicles several families who have moved to Orlando seeking a prosperous living, only to find themselves living in seedy motels.

The problem has created a backlash among the mostly mom-and-pop businesses, with some owners suing the county sheriff to force his deputies to evict guests who haven’t paid or who have turned their rooms into semipermanent residences. It also shines a light on the gap among those who work and live in this county that sits in the shadow of Walt Disney World, and the big-spending tourists who flock here. On any given day, tourists pay nearly $100 per person to get into Orlando’s theme parks. There, they may be waited on by homeless parents. From their hotels, they jog past bus stops where homeless children wait to head to school. They buy coffee at Starbucks next to the motels that have become families’ homes. [...] “The fact that we’re the happiest place on Earth and No. 1 travel destination is good news, but this service-based economy is actually creating a dynamic of homelessness,” [consultant Catherine] Jackson said. Many of the county’s homeless moved here to find jobs in the tourism industry, so they lack the social networks of family or churches, Jackson said. (emphasis mine)

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Breaking Disney Parks Rumor: Is Soarin’ Getting A New Film?

Thursday, April 24th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Anyone who has visited Walt Disney World or Disneyland knows how cool Soarin’ is. In an earlier post on the 10 things you must do at Disney World, I referred to Soarin’ as “a feast for the senses” and “an engineering marvel.” The uniquely immersive attraction opened at Disney’s California Adventure in 2001 and at Epcot in 2005. Both attractions use the same incredible film highlighting sites up and down the state of California.

We’re now hearing a rumor that Soarin’ may get an update. The folks at WDWMagic, one of my favorite sources for Disney Parks news, rumors, and gossip, reports:

The use of the film from Disney California Adventure was felt by many as a temporary stop gap until Disney could shoot a movie specifically for the Walt Disney World edition of Soarin’, or a new version that could include both the east coast and west coast. We are now almost 10 years since opening, with the same California based film playing.

Well now it seems we are closer than ever to a new film for Epcot’s Soarin’. In the next month, film crews working on the new film are planning flights over Walt Disney World, and specifically Epcot. It is speculated that this new footage will be part of a Soarin’ over the World, which will include sights from around the world, including Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Keep in mind that we haven’t heard anything remotely official from Disney yet, and also that rumors of updates to the attraction have been around for years. WDWMagic even admits that speculation has been around almost since Soarin’ opened. But wouldn’t it be cool to see new footage? If you’ll indulge me to dream a little, wouldn’t an experience that changes every time you ride Soarin’ – like the new Star Tours – be so much fun?

What are your thoughts, Disney Parks fans?

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Finding Mr. Righteous: A Single Christian Guy’s Perspective

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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I approached Lisa De Pasquale’s new book Finding Mr. Righteous with some trepidation. Ann Coulter referred to it as “a true Christian story disguised as racy chick lit.” The reader reviews on Amazon contained phrases like “gets to the inner workings of the mind of an insecure young woman” and “as [if]  she was writing about my loving and sexual past.” Our own David Swindle called it “a time bomb waiting to explode.” I thought, ohhhhhh boy. But when David personally recommended it to me, I figured it must be a good read.

Lisa didn’t disappoint. It seems a little weird to refer to her by her first name, since doing so goes against everything you learn about how you’re supposed to write, but after reading Finding Mr. Righteous and talking to her a little about it on Twitter, I feel like I’ve known her for a long time.

Finding Mr. Righteous jumps in to Lisa’s romantic and sexual life with gusto. She never pulls any punches when it comes to her experiences. Situations get steamy from time to time, but I never felt like I was on the verge of being offended. This is no creepy confessional or salacious tell-all — it’s a memoir of a mature woman telling it like it is, warts and all. More often than not, I’d finish a chapter thinking, so that’s what women think about men.

Lisa is a keen judge of human nature as well. She provides astute glimpses behind the facades of the men she’s dated. She offers plenty of fascinating observations like:

Chris was a cat person. But having one view wasn’t enough for him. He had to denigrate the opposing view. Chris’s cat versus dog views were like his views on religion. It wasn’t enough to just accept that some people are religious and some people are not. You had to be an atheist or true believer. And if you were a true believer, you were ignorant.

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Disney and the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, Part 6: ‘A Living Blueprint Of The Future’

Monday, April 21st, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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We’ve made it to the end of our series on the 1964-65 World’s Fair and Disney’s influence on it. If you’ve missed the rest of the series here’s where you can find the rest:

Part 1: ‘The Kind Of Service We Can Offer’
Part 2: ‘Something No One Has Seen Or Done Before’
Part 3: ‘I Won’t Open The Fair Without That Exhibit!’
Part 4: ‘At The Intersection Of Commerce And Progress’
Part 5: ‘It Says Something Very Nice’

In this segment, we’re going to look at the legacy of the Fair on Disney’s theme parks. As we discussed in the first week of the series, Walt Disney used the New York World’s Fair as a sort of testing ground for an East Coast Disneyland concept. The success of the Disney-designed pavilions convinced the company that their secret land purchases in Florida would pay off. As Jeff Kurtti noted in Since The World Began, his (sadly out of print) account of Walt Disney World’s first 25 years:

Ninety-one percent of the guests at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair attended at least one of the Disney shows. And although critics scoffed at Disney’s creations, their popularity convinced many in the Disney organization that the theme park concept was fundamentally reliable, regardless of geographic location.

Since the Fair, Disney has opened a resort with five theme parks in Florida, expanded Disneyland to a second theme park, opened a two-park resort in Tokyo and single-park resorts in Paris and Hong Kong – with a resort in Shanghai set to open in late 2015.

Each of the four pavilions that Disney designed and built for the Fair have left their mark on the Disney brand over the past 50 years. It’s A Small World, with its inimitable spirit and charm, has made its way to all five Magic Kingdom-style parks and has been consistently popular since its Disneyland debut. That attraction also inspired and informed the spirit of World Showcase, the half of Epcot in which various nations show themselves off to guests, living in harmony along World Showcase Lagoon.

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The Difference Between Happiness and Joy

Sunday, April 20th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Last week here at PJ Lifestyle, we saw a lively debate over the difference between altruism and giving out of love — particularly in a Judeo-Christian context. My colleagues Walter Hudson and Susan L. M. Goldberg eloquently shared their thoughts on the nature of altruism in a series of compelling posts:

April 6: Altruism Has No Place In Christianity

April 8: Altruism In Religion’s Free Market

April 9: Love And Altruism Prove Opposite

Walter, Susan, our editor David Swindle, and I continued the discussion on Facebook, which morphed into a bigger exploration of faith and religion. At one point, Susan brought up the notion we often hear from secularists that “God doesn’t want us to be happy.” I replied:

I don’t think God wants us to be happy, either. He wants us to be filled with joy. Happiness is temporal and circumstantial, while joy is sustained.

There’s a clear difference between happiness and joy. Circumstances and relationships determine our happiness. An ice cream cone can make you happy. A great comedy can make you happy. An upbeat song (even that ubiquitous Pharrell Williams tune) can make you happy. But happiness is transitory and momentary — and ultimately external. Psychologist Sandra A. Brown writes (particularly in the context of relationships):

Happiness is external. It’s based on situations, events, people, places, things, and thoughts. Happiness is connected to your hope for a relationship or your hope for a future with someone….

Happiness is future oriented and it puts all its eggs in someone else’s basket. It is dependent on outside situations, people, or events to align with your expectations so that the end result is your happiness.

And happiness can disappear as quickly as it comes. The same people who make us happy one moment can hurt us or let us down the next. That great meal you ate can give you unbearable heartburn. You can grow tired of the songs, films, and shows you once loved. A storm can ruin that perfect trip to the beach. The happiness we seek can often disappear without warning.

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VIDEO: What Do Today’s Kids Think Of…The Walkman?

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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We’ve seen to many changes in technology over the last generation or so that some of the greatest innovations from the childhood of a Generation X-er (like me) are completely obsolete today. For example, my nieces have been aware of what “listening to records” is for a long time because I have a record player at my house. But a couple of years ago, when the oldest of the girls, now 9, saw a record outside the sleeve for the first time, she said, “Wow! That’s a big CD!”

It’s fascinating to see kids react to older technology. The Fine Bros., who have created some of the funniest videos anywhere with the React Series on YouTube, have tackled that topic with their latest video, “Kids React To Walkmans.”

Of course the kids’ reactions are priceless. One girl immediately thinks she’s looking at a phone, while another, when she can’t figure out how to use it, exclaims, “I feel so judged right now!” The kids “ooh” and “ah” at the cassettes and laugh at the headphones — “My grandpa has some of these!” To a man – er, to a child – all of them prefer today’s digital technology to the old school cassette player. Then again, who wouldn’t? Check it out for yourself:

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Disney and the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, Part 5: ‘It Says Something Very Nice’

Monday, April 14th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Welcome to Part 5 of our series on Walt Disney’s contributions to the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York City. If you need to catch up on the rest of the series, here’s where to look:

Part 1: ‘The Kind Of Service We Can Offer’
Part 2: ‘Something No One Has Seen Or Done Before’
Part 3: ‘I Won’t Open The Fair Without That Exhibit!’
Part 4: ‘At The Intersection Of Commerce And Progress’

This week we’re looking at an attraction that made its debut at the World’s Fair and is still beloved today – It’s A Small World. It’s one of the attractions that appears at every Disney resort, on three continents. Because of its ubiquity all over the world, according to Disney, the title song “is always playing somewhere around the world.” During the course of a 16 hour day in any one of the parks, the song plays 1,200 times. Love it or hate it, It’s A Small World is one of the quintessential Disney attractions, but it almost didn’t make it off the drawing board.

A scant nine months before the Fair, Pepsi approached the Disney Studios requesting that the Imagineers develop an attraction that the company would sponsor to benefit UNICEF. Bob Thomas picks up the story in Walt Disney: An American Original:

A Disney executive, believing that three projects were more than enough to occupy WED, sent the Pepsi-Cola people to an engineering firm that specialized in children’s playgrounds. Walt was angry when he heard about it. “I’m the one who makes those decisions!” he declared. “Tell Pepsi I’ll do it!”

Walt detailed to stunned Imagineers his plan for “a little boat ride” in which guests would see simple, childlike figures representing the cultures all over the globe. He enlisted some of his most trusted artists to design the attraction. Mary Blair, whom Walt called his “favorite artist,” imprinted her unique stamp on the look of the ride. Marc Davis oversaw the animatronics, while his wife Alice and Joyce Carlson designed the costumes for the dolls. Claude Coats engineered the layout of what Walt would call “the happiest cruise that ever sailed.”

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10 Books Every Disney Fan Should Read

Saturday, April 12th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in April of 2013 as “10 Must-Read Books for Disney Nerds“ It is being reprinted as part of a weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Visit tomorrow for the conclusion of the series. 

The Walt Disney Company has provided quality entertainment to generations of fans for almost nine decades now. No other company has done what Disney did with such excellence — from animation to live-action films to television to totally immersive theme park experiences.

Disney fandom requires a certain level of passion, but there are some whose devotion to all things Disney rises to another level. I call them “Disney Nerds,” lovingly so, because I consider myself one. Actually, I debated whether to use the term. I prefer “Disney Aficionados,” but worried it sounded too pompous.

Whatever you call us, I’ve compiled a list of ten essential books for Disney Nerds. Think of this list as summer reading for the die-hard Disney fan. The books you’ll see in this post run the gamut from theme park guides to historical chronicles to the ultimate biography of the man himself, Walt Disney. Each book will expand your knowledge (and hopefully love) of Disney culture in its own unique way.

Get ready to dig in and feast your eyes on some great Disney reading. For the list, I’ve tried to choose books that are readily available, and have provided links to order or download them for Kindle apps where applicable. So here we go.

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Is Smart Car Vandalism the New Cow Tipping?

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Growing up on the outer edges of Atlanta’s suburbs, I’d heard about cow tipping. For the uninitiated, the idea of cow tipping stems from the (false) supposition that cows sleeping standing up could be knocked over easily. Truth be told, cow tipping is an urban legend – probably what city folk think we do out in the sticks.

Last weekend in San Francisco, a group of people prowled the streets of the city overnight and vandalized Smart Cars by turning them on their sides, hoods, and rear ends.

Hitting four smart cars in a few hours, an eyewitness account indicated that eight people wearing hooded sweatshirts flipped one of the cars. At approximately 1,500 to 1,800 pounds per car, each vehicle had smashed windows as well as significant body damage from being flipped over.

Speaking about one of the car-tipping incidents, eyewitness Brandon Michael said “I thought they looked like they were up to no good and then sure enough they walk up to this Smart Car right here, all huddle around it and just lift it up and set it on its hind legs, like a dog on its hind legs, — that’s pretty much it.” According to San Francisco Police Officer Gordon Shyy, the car-tipping vandals have yet to be identified and will likely face felony charges if caught.

Vandals in other cities have targeted the tiny cars in years past. Three years ago, a group in Vancouver turned a Smart Car over as a crowed cheered them on. In 2009, authorities arrested an Edmonton, Alberta man for tipping a Smart Car.

The police don’t know if the vandals are random thugs going after easy targets or if they are trying to make a statement against the environmentally friendly cars.

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Walt Disney and the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, Part 4: ‘At The Intersection Of Commerce And Progress’

Monday, April 7th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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In case you’ve missed the rest of the series:

Part 1: ‘The Kind Of Service We Can Offer’

Part 2: ‘Something No One Has Seen Or Done Before’

Part 3: ‘I Won’t Open The Fair Without That Exhibit!’

Welcome back to our series where we’ve looked back at the 50th anniversary of the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair and Disney’s input into it. This week, we’ll see how Disney teamed up with one of the country’s most recognizable corporations to create a pavilion that celebrated American ingenuity and free enterprise.

In Disneyland’s early days, Walt devised the idea for a side street offshoot from Main Street, U.S.A. At the Edison Square attraction, Disney would team up with General Electric (which had its genesis in Edison’s company) to present the story of how electricity benefited a typical American family from the turn of the 20th century, through the present, and into the future. Disneyland’s souvenir maps listed Edison Square among the park’s coming attractions, but by 1959, General Electric (GE) requested that Disney use their idea in a pavilion at the forthcoming World’s Fair in New York City. They called the exhibit General Electric Progressland.

GE knew they had partnered with the right organization, and their promotional materials for the Fair touted Walt’s involvement:

Walt has used all his resources to make Progressland the number one attraction at the Fair. He has filled it with surprising, often startling, and always pleasing evidences of his great ability to entertain.

But the purpose is never lost sight of — to tell the story of electricity and the way it is changing the world — past, present and future . . . to showcase a great industry, the electrical industry, and tell how it has grown and prospered (and helped the nation to grow and prosper) in a free, competitive society.

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The Director of The Goonies Never Says Die!

Sunday, April 6th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Here’s some news that will either make Gen Xers excited or appalled: apparently director Richard Donner is ready to make a sequel to the classic ’80s film The Goonies. TMZ has the scoop:

Corey Feldman just got awesome news – Richard Donner told us he’s making a sequel to “The Goonies” … and wants to bring back the entire cast.

Donner was signing autographs in Bev Hills when he dropped the bombshell  … genuinely surprising our photog.

What Donner didn’t say … whether he’ll recast the main characters and bring in Corey, Josh Brolin, Sean Astin and Data for cameos, or if these guys will actually play the same roles 28 years later.  A gnarly but interesting thought.

Goonies never say die!

But hold on before you go lining up to be the first to buy tickets. Donner has announced a Goonies sequel a number of times in the last decade. He said in 2010 that a sequel was a “definite thing,” while in 2007 and 2008 he mentioned a musical adaptation as an idea he was “fairly passionate” and “confident” about. Will this time be the charm for a sequel to The Goonies? We’ll just have to wait and see.

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5 Underrated Disney World Attractions You Shouldn’t Skip

Saturday, April 5th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in September of 2013 as “The 5 Most Underrated Walt Disney World Experiences“ It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed soon… Click here to see the top 40 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.

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A Walt Disney World vacation offers a ton of truly special experiences — from thrills and chills to charming family attractions. The resort has truly lived up to its reputation as the “Vacation Kingdom of the World.” Every year millions from all over the world travel to central Florida to enjoy popular attractions like It’s A Small World, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Expedition Everest, and Mission: SPACE.

First-time guests — and even a few seasoned guests — often miss out on off-the-beaten-path attractions and little underrated gems throughout Walt Disney World. Sometimes these experiences go unnoticed because they’re older and don’t take advantage of flashy new technology. Others wind up being “best kept secrets” for guests who stay on property. Occasionally, guests just walk by others without even noticing them.

Here I’m presenting a list of my top 5 most underrated experiences at Walt Disney World. They include a couple of Tomorrowland attractions that are retro-fantastic, a quaint getaway from the bustle of Adventureland, an entire resort that guests often overlook, and a special nighttime treat. The common thread between all of them — besides that fact that I think they’re underrated — is that they’ve all been around practically since Walt Disney World opened.

Without further ado, here are the top 5 underrated experiences at Walt Disney World. Enjoy…

5. Carousel of Progress

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The Imagineers — going all the way back to Walt Disney’s day — have taken pride in their ability to tell stories in unique ways. One prime example of a quintessential Disney storytelling innovation is the Carousel of Progress.

Walt personally supervised the development of the Carousel of Progress for the 1964-65 World’s Fair. The attraction employs an inventive theater-in-the-round concept and one of the earliest examples of Audio-Animatronics to tell the story of how “industrial advances over the past century have changed everyday living for an American family.” Even the theme song, the Sherman Brothers’ “There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow,” reflects a certain nostalgic exuberance.

Is it corny? Yes. Are the old-school Audio-Animatronics a bit outdated? You bet. Is it worth checking out? Without a doubt. At the very least, the Carousel of Progress is an air-conditioned respite from Florida’s often oppressive heat. But if you’re willing to let its message sink in, you’ll get an infectious glimpse into Walt Disney’s optimistic futurism. Let’s face it — the chance to see the future through Walt’s eyes makes the Carousel of Progress worth the ride.

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Frozen Continues To Break Records Worldwide

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Disney’s animated hit Frozen has turned into quite the phenomenon. The film, starring the voice talents of Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell, recently passed the billion dollar mark in worldwide box office. It has become the highest grossing animated movie of all time and entered the top ten among films overall.

The Walt Disney Studios’ seventh billion-dollar release, “Frozen” has earned an estimated $398.4 million at the domestic box office and $674 million internationally.

“Frozen” is the first billion-dollar film for Walt Disney Animation Studios and its first film to receive the Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature. “Frozen” opened wide domestically on November 27, 2013, posting the #1 all-time Thanksgiving debut ($93.6M five-day, $67.4M three-day) and Walt Disney Animation Studios’ biggest opening ever. It remained in the top 10 films at the domestic box office for 16 consecutive weeks, the longest run by any film since 2002.

Other records that Frozen has claimed include:

  • The biggest Thanksgiving debut weekend.
  • The biggest debut weekend for a Disney film.
  • The highest grossing Disney or Pixar film in 27 countries, including Russia, China, and Brazil.
  • The highest grossing foreign film in South Korea.
  • The highest grossing animated film in Venezuela and Denmark.
  • The fastest selling home video in digital format.

In its first day, Frozen sold 3.2 million DVDs and Blu-Rays. Additionally, the soundtrack has topped the Billboard 200 charts for seven nonconsecutive weeks, selling 1.6 million copies along with 5 million individual track downloads. The soundtrack has also approaching 110 million streams worldwide on Spotify. The movie’s hit song “Let It Go” won an Oscar for writers Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. Menzel’s version of the song has reached #5 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 as of last week, selling 2.6 million copies and besting by far the “pop” version by Demi Lovato, which only reached #38. The video of the song’s sequence from the film has garnered over 166 million views on YouTube.

What other records are left to break? With a track record like this in just a few months, we can safely bet that Frozen will join the pantheon of Disney classics.

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BREAKING: Disney Parks Will Thaw Out Cryogenically Frozen Walt Disney For One Weekend Only

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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At a surprise press conference this morning, Disney CEO Bob Iger made the special announcement that the company will thaw out the cryogenically frozen body of Walt Disney to make appearances at both American theme parks. The once-in-a-lifetime appearances will take place Independence Day Weekend.

“We’re thrilled to announce that Walt will come back to life this summer at Disney Parks,” said Iger. “He will appear at Disneyland on Saturday, July 5. We’ll fly him to Orlando over night, and he’ll appear at Walt Disney World on Sunday, July 6.”

Iger did not take questions from the media, but he remarked that the corporate board decided on Independence Day Weekend because of Walt’s patriotism. The CEO also acknowledged the unprecedented nature of the upcoming events.

“We’ve been aware of the urban legends, and we’re proving that the legends are true,” he said. “We’ve never tried this before, so we’re hoping the thawing process isn’t messy, especially in the Florida summer heat.”

A spokesperson followed Iger’s remarks to announce that the company will release details on the appearances in June.

“We’re counting on everything going according to plan because we know just how much it will piss Michael Eisner off,” the spokesperson added.

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Disney And The 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, Part 3: ‘I Won’t Open The Fair Without That Exhibit!’

Monday, March 31st, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Part 1: ‘The Kind Of Service We Can Offer’

Part 2: ‘Something No One Has Seen Or Done Before’

Welcome to the third week of our series celebrating the 50th anniversary of Disney’s involvement in the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. If you missed last week, we looked at Ford’s Magic Skyway pavilion and Disney’s spellbinding work on it. This week we’re talking a look at another pavilion that allowed Walt to raise the bar on one of his newest innovations: Audio Animatronics.

Walt became interested with animatronic figures when he brought a mechanical toy bird back from a trip to New Orleans. He took the toy apart to see how it worked and to figure out how he could improve on it. His work on the mechanical bird led Walt to task Roger Broggie and Wathel Rogers to create a “dancing man” animatronic, and they did so using a film of actor Buddy Ebsen singing a vaudeville song on a proscenium stage as a guide. An entire attraction built around Audio Animatronic figures – The Enchanted Tiki Room – opened at Disneyland in 1963, but Walt had even bigger ideas.

Walt and the Imagineers began to develop the concept for a side street off Disneyland’s Main Street, U.S.A. called Liberty Street. The area would center around the founding principles of the United States, and its key attraction would be One Nation Under God, a celebration of America culminating in a Hall of Presidents.

In 1962, World’s Fair mastermind Robert Moses visited Disneyland to check on the progress of Walt’s exhibits for the Fair, and Walt showed him the Hall of Presidents concept, inviting Moses to “meet Mr. Lincoln.” Moses found himself taken aback by the animatronic Abraham Lincoln that he declared, “I won’t open the fair without that exhibit!” By the following summer, Moses had convinced the State of Illinois to include the Lincoln show in their pavilion.

The Fair’s guidebook describes the attraction, entitled Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln, like this:

After watching a brief sound and slide presentation, “The Illinois Story,” visitors enter a comfortable theater where the figure of Lincoln rises from its chair and recites excerpts from some of the speeches of the Civil War President. The figure is capable of more than 250,000 combinations of actions, including gestures, smiles and frowns; the facial features were taken from Lincoln’s life mask.

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Crabby Old Man Jimmy Carter Is Convinced The NSA Goes Through His Emails

Thursday, March 27th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Former president Jimmy Carter continues to be a treasure national embarrassment. The Georgia governor (how it pains me to say that) turned president has turned into the crabby old man of ex-presidents. He has now publicly admitted that he is convinced the NSA is going through his emails.

Former President Jimmy Carter told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday that he has his own system to avoiding being monitored by the National Security Agency, which is under scrutiny following leaks from its former contractor Edward Snowden: “When I want to communicate with a foreign leader privately, I would type or write the letter myself, put it in the post office and mail it.” He added that the spy agency had abused its authority.

He also later admitted that he would be open to granting Snowden a pardon.

What does he think the NSA agents sit around doing all day?

“Hey guys, look at what Jimmy Carter ordered on Amazon! A book on killer rabbits!”

“Oh look, it’s a fundraising letter from his grandson’s futile campaign for governor of Georgia.”

“Mahmoud Abbas just forwarded him the same chain email Evo Morales sent him last week.”

And I just imagine all the world’s leaders wait by the mailbox for the next round of letters from Jimmy Carter:

Assistant: Mr. Prime Minister, you’ve just received a letter from Jimmy Carter. He wants to monitor the next election.

Prime Minister: Wait, did he actually use a typewriter to compose this?

Assistant: Yes sir, I believe so.

Prime Minister: (sighs) Well, just put it in that pile of junk mail over there.

President Carter, it’s true that the NSA’s overreach is an outrage – that’s one of the precious few things you and I can agree on. But you may have gone a little kooky to think that you’re a specific target of the agency. So, put away the Smith Corona - unless what you’re emailing about is dangerous enough to warrant the NSA’s attention. Knowing your politics, that could well be the case.

Oh, and we promise to stay out of your yard.

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Just Following Orders: The Science Of Authority And Obedience

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Since the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust, researchers have struggled to figure out what factors drive ordinary people to commit acts like those in Nazi Germany. Were the Germans of that era inherently evil, or did they simply fall in line with the orders of charismatic leaders like Hitler? Did William Calley’s defense of “just following orders” absolve him of his responsibility for the My Lai Massacre? Psychologists have spent years trying to figure out what’s behind obedience to authority.

In the early 1960s, psychologist Stanley Milgram embarked on a series of controversial experiments in which he set out to discover what factors lead regular people to commit atrocities. Milgram’s experiments involved subjects administering electric shocks to participants who, unbeknownst to the subjects, were actors involved with the experiments. Though many believed his experiments skirted the boundaries of ethics, Milgram concluded that people in general would obey orders regardless of the harm those orders may cause.

Author Gina Perry’s excellent 2013 book Behind The Shock Machine (which I recently read) recounts the experiments, and Perry discounts Milgram’s findings. She concludes that Milgram manipulated his results and that the experiments were as much about the theatrics as they were about getting to the bottom of the issue.

Today’s researchers are still trying to figure out the real motivation behind atrocities. In a recent Pacific Standard article, Bettina Chang recounts a more recent finding:

Sophie Richardot, a social psychologist at Université de Picardie, France, sought to answer this question. She first became interested in the subject in relation to Milgram’s famed obedience experiment. Milgram showed the disturbing extent to which normal people are willing to inflict pain on people in the name of obeying authority. Richardot says that Milgram’s orders were not coercive, but they were explicit.

From what she knew about the Holocaust and other mass war crimes, however, the orders were more coded and ambiguous. So she set about categorizing the orders given to commit war crimes and looking for patterns.

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Disney And The 1964-65 World’s Fair, Part 2: ‘Something No One Has Seen Or Done Before’

Monday, March 24th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Welcome back to our series on the 1964-65 World’s Fair and Disney’s involvement in it. Last week, we looked at the background behind the Fair and the factors that led Walt Disney to take part in some of the pavilions. Today we’re diving into one of those pavilions where Walt and the Imagineers lent their touch – the Magic Skyway, presented by Ford Motor Company.

When Walt began to seek out corporate partners for the New York World’s Fair, General Motors was near the top of the list. Their Futurama pavilion turned into the hit of the 1939 Fair, which raised the stakes for GM at the sequel of sorts to that earlier event. GM was already in talks with Disney to sponsor a new attraction at Disneyland. GM chose instead to create a sequel to Futurama and put the kibosh on the Disneyland attraction, suggesting to Walt that he reach out to Ford.

Disney’s wonderful 2009 box set Walt Disney and the 1964 World’s Fair contains not only a terrific selection of music from the fair – including early concepts, behind-the-scenes recordings, and unused pieces, but its liner notes also tell an extensive tale about each pavilion that Disney developed. Stacia Martin’s essay on The Magic Skyway tells the story well.

By 1960, Disney and Ford agreed to work together, and the auto maker secured a seven acre site. The next year, Disney pitched its first concept: The Symphony Of America, a ride across the country (in Ford vehicles, naturally) demonstrating “the land, its contrasting moods and its industry.” Ford nixed the idea, informing shocked Imagineers that the company wanted “something bigger” and was afraid that the concept was too close to Chevrolet’s “See The USA In Your Chevrolet” ad campaign.

After going back to the drawing board, Disney came up with concepts that Ford could accept. The attractions sat within the impressive Ford Wonder Rotunda, a 235-foot-in-diameter atrium which led to a seven-story show building. Inside the Wonder Rotunda, guests could visit the International Gardens, scale models of scenes from 11 countries in which Ford had manufacturing facilities. These scenes reflected Walt’s love of miniature dioramas, of course.

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VIDEO: Giant Fish Tank Ruptures At Downtown Disney Restaurant

Thursday, March 20th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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A massive fish tank at T-Rex Cafe in Downtown Disney ruptured on Monday afternoon, sending hundreds of gallons of water rushing into the dining room. At 4:00 p.m., a seam in the tank gave way, causing the rupture and leak. Diner Kate Wallace captured the incident in the photograph above and spoke to a North Carolina television station about the experience.

“We were sitting about 20-feet away,” Wallace said in an e-mail to WGHP. “The people sitting at the table next to it did get wet… I don’t know how they could have avoided it.”

Wallace said workers quickly entered the tank in an effort to save the fish.

“The staff did a great job of springing into action. They were clearing guests out of the immediate area, trying to contain the water and working to save the fish,” Wallace said.

One person was told the workers were able to save “all of the fish.”

The restaurant remained open while crews worked to clean up the water.

Fortunately no diners – or fish – were injured, though a Disney spokesperson said that the restaurant removed some of the fish for safety purposes and relocated a few tables to accommodate cleanup and repairs. Another diner captured the incident on video:

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Courtney Love Thinks She Has Found The Missing Malaysian Plane

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Technology affords us the ability to take part in the news on a minute by minute basis — sometimes to a fault. Rocker Courtney Love has turned aviation expert and breaking news journalist and revealed her thoughts on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370:

Love says she thinks she may have found the plane using the web site Tomnod to view satellite images of the search area.

Love took to her Twitter account to announce the findings.

She points to what she says is an oil slick on one of the images.

Love claims the slick is located about a mile away from Pulau Perak, the last place the plane was tracked.

Here’s her twitter post:

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When a follower disputed her claim, she provided photographic evidence:

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Who knows? Courtney Love may be on to something, but only if she can get someone to do a physical search of the area.

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Disney And The 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, Part 1: ‘The Kind Of Service We Can Offer’

Monday, March 17th, 2014 - by Chris Queen
The Unisphere served as the icon of the 1964-65 World's Fair.

The Unisphere served as the icon of the 1964-65 World’s Fair.

Next month marks the 50th anniversary of the 1964-65 World’s Fair, which took place at Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, New York. Today, many people know of it largely because of Walt Disney’s involvement in it. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to take a look at Disney’s contributions to the World’s Fair, but first, let’s glance at the origins of the Fair.

In his excellent essay on the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, Bill Young sums up its legacy:

The Fair’s theme was “Peace Through Understanding,” dedicated to “Man’s Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe” and was often referred to as an “Olympics of Progress.” The theme center was a 12-story high, stainless-steel model of the earth called Unisphere with the orbit tracks of three satellites encircling the giant globe.

By the time the gates closed more than 51 million people had attended the exposition; a respectable attendance for a World’s Fair but some 20% below the projected attendance of 70 million. The exposition ended with huge financial losses and amid allegations of gross mismanagement.

Today the 1964/1965 New York World’s Fair is remembered as a cultural highlight of mid-twentieth century America. It represents an era best known as “The Space Age” when mankind took its first steps toward space exploration and it seemed that technology would provide the answers to all of the world’s problems. The exhibits at the Fair echoed a blind sense of optimism in the future that was prevalent in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

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Disney’s Billion Dollar Theme Park Gamble

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Guests travel to Walt Disney World seeking the ultimate vacation experience, and Disney continues to develop new ways to deliver the best possible vacation. The company has invested over a billion dollars in their MyMagic+ system, which employs wearable technology and RFID (radio frequency identification) chips to fine tune and customize guests’ experiences. Disney has high hopes for MyMagic+, but so far many guests aren’t sold on the idea.

A recent MSN Money profile on MyMagic+ reveals the technology behind this new system, Disney’s expectations for the program, and guests’ decidedly mixed reviews.

It’s a sweeping reservation and ride planning system that allows for bookings months in advance on a website or smartphone app. Bracelets called MagicBands, which link electronically to an encrypted database of visitor information, serve as admission tickets, hotel keys, and credit or debit cards; a tap against a sensor pays for food or trinkets. The bands have radio frequency identification (RFID) chips — which critics derisively call spychips because of their ability to monitor people and things.

That tracking power also is what makes them so important for Disney’s $14.1 billion theme park and resort business. Intelligence collected using the bands coupled with what visitors input into the related My Disney Experience app and website — all voluntary — help Disney determine when to add more staff at rides, what restaurants should serve, which souvenirs should be stocked, and how many employees in costume should roam around at any given time. Data about customer preferences could be used to craft e-mails or text messages alerting them to restaurant menu changes or sudden openings for reservations in an expedited queue at Space Mountain or the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

The goal is to offer people what Tom Staggs, head of the company’s parks and resorts unit, calls “a more immersive, more seamless, and more personal experience” — allowing Disney employees to address a child by name, for example, or wish someone a happy birthday.

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