Press Releases: Best Food Values (and a splurge) at Disneyland Resort

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Economy-minded vacationers will find plenty of choices for delicious dining that won’t break the budget. Think beyond hot dogs and hamburgers. Here are some interesting picks for inexpensive dining ($10 or less) at the Disneyland Resort:

At Disneyland Park

  • Bengal Barbecue in Adventureland (bacon-wrapped asparagus, vegetable, chicken or beef skewers)
  • Rancho del Zocalo in Frontierland (four cheese enchiladas with red chile sauce)
  • Carnation Café on Main Street, U.S.A. (a bowl of loaded baked potato soup)
  • Golden Horseshoe in Frontierland (fish ‘n chips)
  • Hungry Bear in Critter Country (grilled chicken Caesar, veggie burger, turkey club)
  • Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port in Tomorrowland (slice of veggie pizza, tomato-basil pasta)
  • Royal Street Veranda in New Orleans Square (gumbo in a sourdough bowl)
  • Tomorrowland Terrace (grilled veggie sandwich, fresh fruit plate)

At Disney’s California Adventure Park

  • Wine Country Trattoria in the Golden State (caprese salad, chef’s soup)
  • Lucky Fortune Cookery (Asian rice bowl with beef, chicken or tofu)
  • Pacific Wharf Café (Santa Rosa corn chowder, Vallejo vegetarian chili served in sourdough bowls)
  • Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill (tamales and tacos)
  • Taste Pilot’s Grill, Golden State Condor Flats (three large pork ribs, fries and slaw)

At Disneyland Hotel

  • The Coffee House (chef salad, ham and cheese sandwich)
  • Tangaroa Terrace (all breakfasts, salads, flatbreads, fish & chips and most burgers) – Fab
  • Trader Sam’s (most pupus, including tacos and wraps) – Fab

At Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel

  • PCH Grill (one-third-pound Angus burgers, club sandwich, grilled chicken breast sandwich, skinny melt with beef or turkey patty on bed of grilled zucchini and caramelized onions)

At Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

  • White Water Snacks (veggie burger, nachos, personal pizzas) – Fab misses the Beef Dip.
  • Storyteller’s Café (at lunch, corn chowder, chicken quesadilla, sticky ribs with soba salad)

At Downtown Disney District

  • House of Blues (chicken shrimp gumbo, crispy catfish nuggets, spicy calamari, chicken quesadillas.)
  • La Brea Bakery Express (soup in a sourdough bread bowl, various sandwiches and salads)
  • Napolini (paninis, baked pasta, pizza by the slice)
  • Rainforest Café (buffalo wings, chili con queso)
  • Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen Express (jambalaya, gumbo, po’ boy sandwiches)
  • Tortilla Jo’s Taqueria (tacos, burritos, nachos)

On the other end, there’s Steakhouse 55.  When Goofy’s Kitchen has a long lunchtime wait, they open their lounge and serve light lunches there, including one of the best burgers we’ve had in our lives.  It’s more than ten dollars – but well worth it.

Steakhouse 55 A Cut Above With Indulgent Angus Beef, Award-Winning Wine List

ANAHEIM, Calif. – With an vintage Hollywood ambience that includes classic photos of Walt Disney dining with movie stars, white linen tablecloths and servers in old-fashioned bowties, Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel is an upscale-yet-comfortable culinary indulgence.

“My goal is to capture the feeling of a traditional steakhouse, but with our own flair, and to celebrate a great steak,” said Chef Jason Martin.

The “55″ is an ode to 1955, the year Disneyland opened, an era when a night on the town was a glamorous experience. Start the evening with cocktails in the cozy adjoining lounge before settling in at a curving banquette or table in the handsome, 108-seat restaurant with touches of oak and etched glass, and an impressive wine cellar.

Beautiful, thick Angus steaks are the star, from the signature 18-ounce bone-in ribeye with steakhouse rub to a flawlessly broiled 7-ounce filet mignon. The ideal sidekick is Martin’s potato stack au gratin with countless layers of thinly sliced potatoes baked in decadent butter and cream.

If you prefer surf to turf, tuck in to the cold water lobster tail, broiled Atlantic salmon or the Chef’s sustainable fresh fish selection. Start with a taste of the sea – shrimp cocktail, Dungeness crab cakes or chilled ahi. Beyond other cuts of beef including New York strip, prime rib and a generous porterhouse, meat entrées include herb-crusted rack of lamb and free-range chicken breast.

Steakhouse starters such as Seven Onion Soup with Parmesan Crisp, “wedge” iceberg lettuce with Gorgonzola, Caesar salad or the Steakhouse Salad with bacon, tomato, cucumber, and cheddar pair nicely with any entrée choice.

Most of the servers, as well as Chef Martin, are sommeliers, and they happily will offer a taste or two or offer a vintage from the award-winning selection.  When he’s not too busy in the kitchen, Chef Martin said he enjoys a visit  to the restaurant’s wine cellar with guests.

“I enjoy sharing the celebration of fresh, vibrant food and wine, and introducing guests to new flavors,” said Martin.

Steakhouse 55 has been awarded “Four Stars” from the Orange County Register and a Golden Bacchus from the Southern California Restaurant Writers Association. Zagat rates the restaurant “amazing,” “a gem,” “elegant” and “the best ribeye in town.”

Prix-fixe and children’s menus are available. The private Oak Room may be reserved for parties of up to 22.

Breakfast Menu

Breakfast feels like a special occasion at Steakhouse 55, where guests tend to relax and sip lattes and cappuccinos – or maybe a hot chocolate with whipped cream. Specialties such as buttermilk pancakes with warm Bananas Foster or French toast with warm berries are an indulgent way to start the day, or fill up on eggs Benedict, omelettes, huevos rancheros or a hearty breakfast burrito. Splurge with the 7-ounce Angus steak and eggs, or behave with granola, yogurt and fruit or the Smoked Salmon and Bagel platter. For kids, Mickey-shaped pancakes, scrambled eggs or favorite breakfast cereals are on the menu.


Urban Vinyl and “instant collectibles”

My old friend Doug collected Disney pins.  In 1993.

Ten years later, an enterprising sharp pencil person decided that they could make a sub-industry out of “trading pins”.  They released pins for the sake of releasing pins, and collectors gobbled them up.  Every possible event was capitalized upon with a pin release.  Lanyards became the normal wear for Disney fans around the park, and new customers were lured in with snazzy “starter sets”.

Is buying every rare pin that comes out just for the sake of owning it collecting…or is it more like hoarding?

Beanie Babies were quite the rage at the time.  Disney took part in that, too.  The Beanie Babies that people tore each other apart over, paid thousands of dollars for, are now going for about three dollars each on eBay.

And now there’s “Vinylmation”.  Bear-shaped…oh, sorry…mouse-shaped generic figures stamped with different Disney-themed designs, let’s call it an “homage” to Medicom’s Bearbrick series.  People who know nothing about Urban Vinyl are snapping these up by the blind boxload because Disney merchandising told them it’s the “next big thing!”

Let me introduce you to a very nice man from Hong Kong – big Disney fan as well.  Michael Lau.  Since the late 90s, “The Godfather of Urban Vinyl” has been creating vinyl figures based mostly on street culture, but also occasionally popular culture as well.

I hear he’s going to be doing something with Disney soon.  Ah, the Circle of Merchandise.

As I said in “Miehana, Youhana…” Disney-based art is best when done by people who know and love it, instead of corporations whose collectibles can bring in synergistic revenues.  So it’s good that we have Kevin and Jody.  It’s good that Disney is working with Disney fan Michael Lau and other Disney fans.

It’s also important that people in the studios and Imagineering – people who are part of the history and culture – are recognized for their art as well.  People like Larry Nikolai (who has a little something or other in the D23 auction this week, by the way), who have hands-on (and hearts-on) experience with Disney.

Don’t buy something because it’s a collectible – it might be worthless later on.  Buy something you love, and no matter what eBay says, it will always be priceless to you.

(Not music) Interesting study by Disney about Moms online

Results Show Technology Makes Being a Mom Easier by Increasing Mom’s Ability to Search
for Information, Connect with Others and Manage Family Activities
BURBANK, Calif. – October 27, 2010 – Results were revealed today from Disney Online’s
M.O.M. – Mom on a Mission research study, that illustrate how today’s Mom is utilizing
technology and the Internet to make being a Mom easier. Key learnings were shared in an
address presented by Paul Yanover, EVP of Disney Online and Brad Davis, SVP of Disney Online
Ad Sales, at M2Mom® — The Marketing to Moms Conference in the Chicago Cultural Center.
“We are committed to be experts on the marketplaces we serve, and to share our knowledge with
clients and the industry at large,” said Paul Yanover, EVP of Disney Online. “Moms inspire us in
how they can juggle so many roles, from being the caregiver and household CEO, to
coordinating all the family’s activities,” added Yanover. “Our study results showed that
technology and the Internet are helping to make moms’ lives more manageable, so they can
spend more quality time with their families.”
Technology Makes Being a Mom Easier
When asked about how they use technology, Moms said that the different devices they use
make being a Mom easier. The devices help them get more done, manage their life and their
family’s lives more effectively, and stay better connected with family and friends.
According to the study, Moms use the following technology and devices:
Computer (89%)
Internet (87%)
Mobile Device (84%)
Television (80%)
Digital Camera (77%)
CD/DVD Player (75%)
Social Networks (55%)
Moms said they also use technology to create more opportunities for family bonding activities
such as playing games on the Nintendo Wii and watching movies on their DVD and Blu-ray
Moms Start Their Day with Coffee and the Internet
Moms spend the most time on the Internet between the hours of 5am and noon, so they can
get a lot done! They use the Internet to connect with others, find information, plan activities
and for entertainment. They check email, visit their favorite sites, manage tasks and read the
news. With all that Moms have on their plate, they are very task oriented while online:
Three out of four Moms go online with a specific activity or goal in mind

Banjo Lessons and Nautilus Plans

There are two places in the Disneyland Resort where you’ll find advertisements for banjo lessons from a Mr. Harper Goff.  One is on an upstairs window across from the entrance to the World Famous Jungle Cruise, the other inside Trader Sam’s, under the biggest window box (the one with the Orange Bird).

It’s fitting, because Goff designed the Jungle Cruise – or, rather, the Jungle River Boat Ride.  He based it upon the Humphrey Bogart/Katherine Hepburn classic The African Queen, and the name of each boat is a pun on a famous river.  When we get ours for our backyard, Noe’s going to call it the Sassagoula Shelly (the Sassagoula being the river that goes from Port Orleans to Downtown Disney.)

Original plans called for a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea adventure to be built there, not a Jungle Cruise.  On a trip to the Walt Disney Archives a few years back, I found some of these original plans.  It was also fitting, because Harper Goff designed the gorgeous submarine The Nautilus for the film.

Harper Goff’s love of trains led him to work for Walt Disney, as they met in London upon both bidding on the same model engine.  Walt took Goff on as an artist, and he designed not only attractions for Disneyland, but later for EPCOT Center, my favorite defunct theme park.  He also played banjo with The Firehouse Five Plus Two, which explains the advertisements.

He is lauded for his boats and submarines, but not many people know that he’s also pretty much responsible for Main Street, U.S.A.

The tale that Main Street, U.S.A. is based upon Walt’s hometown of Marceline, MO is more an invention of imaginative writers than one based upon fact.  Goff came from Fort Collins, CO, and if you look at photos of early Marceline, early Fort Collins and Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland, the resemblance is very, very obvious.

Have a great weekend!

Press Release: Tiki Room Reopening Slated for Aug. 15, 2011

Original Hosts Ready to Squawk up a Storm Again, Giving Guests Even More to Chirp (and ‘Tweet’) About

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The Sunshine Pavilion, featuring a show variously known as “Tropical Serenade” and “The Enchanted Tiki Birds,” debuted on Oct. 1, 1971, in Magic Kingdom. In 1998, following substantial refurbishment, it re-launched as The Enchanted Tiki Room-Under New Management, with two famous Disney birds – Iago from Aladdin and Zazu from The Lion King – taking control and trying to spruce up the show.

Now the “new management” has been let go and the future of the Adventureland landmark is in the wings and wit of José, Fritz, Michael and Pierre – four crooning parrot hosts who have been entertaining guests at California’s Disneyland since 1963 in The Enchanted Tiki Room. Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, as the Magic Kingdom attraction now will be called, is being prepared for the premiere (tentatively on Aug. 15, 2011) of a show that will pay tribute to the Disneyland original – notable in theme park history for ushering in sophisticated Audio-Animatronics technology.

Prior to 1963, Walt Disney’s creative team had produced movable figures, but none had the sophistication of the bird-brained cast of the Tiki Room. José, Fritz, Michael and Pierre produce movements when solenoid coils hidden inside receive signals recorded onto magnetic tape and are regarded as the first “true” Audio-Animatronics figures.

They introduce a musical presentation by more than 200 birds, flowers and tikis. Even the audience gets into the act, joining in during the musical ditty “Let’s All Sing Like the Birdies Sing.”

While the show is steeped in tradition and maintains the original intent created by Walt Disney and his original team of Imagineers, Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room will feature the latest in technology – a state of the art show-control system, remastered audio, and a new versatile and energy efficient lighting system.

The attraction has shows throughout Magic Kingdom operating hours.

D23: What Will You Sacrifice?

I’m accustomed to it because I’m a Comic-Con veteran.

You look at the schedule for the con, and pick and choose what you want to do.  Sometimes – oh, what am I saying?  USUALLY, it’s up against something else.  Do I see the cast of The Big Bang Theory or do I watch Floyd Norman and Sergio Aragones messing around?  (Floyd and Sergio won, and it was truly hilarious).  Wait in three hours for the possibility of maybe getting in for the Warner Brothers movie slate announcements or shop on the floor?

With D23, there’s a lot less going on, so not as many choices.  But aye, there’s the rub: it’s all Disney, so the likelihood that competing presentations will all be something you want to see is MUCH greater than at Comic-Con.

I wouldn’t dream of going to Comic-Con for the whole banana and not planning out ahead what I’m willing to wait for and what I need to see.  For example: The world premiere of the new Prep & Landing special, Naughty or Nice is up against Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson talking about the Neverland books, Larry Nikolai discussing the new Little Mermaid attractions, and a mini-concert with Constantine Maroulis and Rock Star Mickey.  Yes, all of these things overlap.  You have to look at the schedule ahead of time and wait, sometimes more than an hour, to get into your chosen presentation.  Last time, we waited two hours to get into the Muppets presentation just to be turned away at the door due to overcrowding.  By way of apology, they sent us an autographed picture and apology letter in the mail a few weeks later.

Here’s the schedule:

This is kind of boring, but it will behoove you to read it carefully:

Make sure you know where the presentation will take place and that you can find it on your map.

Oh, and bring money.  Lots of it.  Mickey’s of Glendale, the Imagineering shop, will be selling stuff there – that’s where I got my Trader Sam’s and Tangaroa Terrace pins.  And you know if I am actually moved to buy a (damned) pin, it’s got to be something fantastic.

See you there!




BURBANK, Calif. – August 9, 2011 – Exclusively at Disney’s D23 Expo August 19-21 at the Anaheim Convention Center, Disney film fans will go behind the scenes to explore the exciting roster of projects on the horizon at The Walt Disney Studios, with a variety of panel discussions, sneak peeks and exhibits.

On Saturday, August 20, Rich Ross, chairman, The Walt Disney Studios; Sean Bailey, president, production, The Walt Disney Studios; John Lasseter, chief creative officer, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios; and Kevin Feige, producer and president, Marvel Studios, will present a not-to-be-missed look at The Walt Disney Studios’ upcoming film slate, which includes Disney’s The Muppets, John Carter, Disney•Pixar’s Brave, Marvel’s The Avengers, Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, Oz The Great and Powerful and more.

With projects from Disney, Pixar Animation Studios and Marvel Studios, this special presentation will feature never-before-seen footage and all-star appearances by Jason Segel, Kermit and Miss Piggy (Disney’s The Muppets), Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins and Willem Dafoe (John Carter), Kelly Macdonald and Kevin McKidd (Brave), Jennifer Garner (The Odd Life of Timothy Green), Jack McBrayer and Sarah Silverman (Wreck-It Ralph), cast members from Marvel’s The Avengers and other surprise guests.

In celebration of 25 years of moviemaking magic, five sessions will be devoted to the artistry and technical wizardry of Pixar:

* A Conversation with the Pixar Creative Team – Enjoy a rare opportunity to spend some time with the key figures responsible for Pixar’s unprecedented success, including John Lasseter (chief creative officer, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios), Jim Morris (general manager, Pixar Animation Studios), Pete Docter (director, Monsters, Inc., Up), Andrew Stanton (director, Finding Nemo, WALL-E), Bob Peterson (co-director, Up), Lee Unkrich (director, Toy Story 3), Mark Andrews (director, Brave) and Dan Scanlon (director, Monsters University).

* The Characters of Monsters University – Director Dan Scanlon and Production Designer Ricky Nierva discuss how they combine hair, horns and a lot of heart to bring the wonderful Monsters University characters to life.

* Michael Giacchino’s Music of Pixar – In this musical presentation, award-winning composer Michael Giacchino explores his early influences through the creation of modern-day classic scores from Ratatouille, Up and Cars 2.

* The Art of Brave – Production Designer Steve Pilcher and Shading Art Director Tia Kratter show how they and their team put paint to canvas and fingers to computer keys to create the stunning visuals of Scotland for Disney•Pixar’s upcoming film Brave.

* Pixar Shorts – This retrospective screening of the animation studio’s legendary short films will be followed by a panel discussion with several of the filmmakers, including Ralph Eggleston (director, For the Birds), Andy Jimenez (director, One Man Band), Angus MacLane (director, BURN-E), Pete Sohn (director, Partly Cloudy), Teddy Newton (director, Day & Night), and Enrico Casarosa (director, La Luna).

Expo attendees will also have access to advance screenings of an all-new 3D version of The Lion King, presented by RealD 3D, coming to theaters and homes this fall, and the upcoming ABC holiday special Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice from Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Out on the Expo floor, fans can explore the world of The Walt Disney Studios at their leisure with comprehensive exhibits, including:

* Walt Disney Studios Animation Pavilion – Experience the art, technology, culture and legacy of Walt Disney Animation Studios with filmmaker demonstrations, drawing classes, book signings, meet-and-greets and art exhibits.

* Walt Disney Studios In-Home Entertainment Pavilion – Dive into cutting-edge home entertainment technology and learn what the future holds for Disney movie fans, with sneak peeks of upcoming films in breathtaking high-definition Blu-ray 3D and more.

* Inside Tides: Pirates of the Caribbean Film Prop Collection – Get an up-close look at an exclusive collection of detailed set pieces, props and costumes from the billion-dollar blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

Tickets to the D23 Expo are available at Admission includes access to all experiences and entertainment at the D23 Expo, including the Disney Legends Ceremony, and can be purchased for single days or for the full three days of festivities. Admission is $47 for a one-day adult ticket and $37 for children 3-12. Three-day passes are $136 for adults and $106 for children. Members of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club will receive a discount for up to four admissions, as well as early entry to each day of the D23 Expo for themselves and their guests.

About D23 Expo 2011

The D23 Expo—The Ultimate Disney Event for Fans and Families—brings the entire world of Disney under one roof at the Anaheim Convention Center, providing guests with unprecedented access to Disney films, television and theme parks.

About D23

The name “D23” pays homage to the wonder and excitement that began in 1923 when Walt Disney opened his fledgling studio in Hollywood. D23 is the first official community for fans in Disney’s 88-year history. D23 gives its members a greater connection to the entire world of Disney by placing them in the middle of the magic through its quarterly publication Disney twenty-three; a rich website at; a collectibles line, The Walt Disney Archives Collection; and special events for D23 Members throughout the year, highlighted by the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, August 19-21, 2011.

Fans can join D23 at, select shops at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort and To keep up with all the latest D23 news and events, follow us “DisneyD23” on Twitter, YouTube

Press Release: Disneyland donates CA Zephyr to the RR Museum in Portola

Disneyland Resort Donates California Zephyr to Western Pacific Railroad Museum

New gallery planned to showcase historic train



Anaheim, Calif., Aug. 9, 2011 – The Disneyland Resort donated the California Zephyr train previously located in Disney California Adventure park to Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola, Calif. Plans for a gallery dedicated to sharing the legacy of the California Zephyr are underway.

The train and related artifacts, which were part of the entrance to the theme park, arrived at their new home August 6 and will become part of the museum’s Zephyr Project collection.

“Walt Disney’s love of trains made this donation perfectly fitting,” said Disneyland Resort President George A. Kalogridis. “The expansion of Disney California Adventure park provided the opportunity for us to make this meaningful donation and we are thrilled the train will offer museum visitors and train enthusiasts an immersive experience, much like it did here.”

Visitors to the museum will learn about the history of the famous 1950s passenger train through the donated artifacts, while the recreated locomotive will offer the chance to experience what it was like for engineers to guide the stainless steel Zephyr trains through California’s Feather River Canyon.

The cab once operated as a real locomotive. It is an authentic rendition of the Western Pacific Railroad – one of the three railroads that operated the California Zephyr between Chicago and San Francisco from 1949 to 1970. It wears the same number as the last locomotive to lead a westbound California Zephyr into Oakland, Calif. on March 20, 1970. The California Zephyr is one of the most celebrated “name trains” of the 1950s and 60s.


About the California Zephyr

The California Zephyr was introduced in 1949. It wasn’t the fastest train between Chicago and California, but it offered the best of western scenery.  The train departed Denver early in the morning, then climbed up the Front Range of the Rockies and traveled the canyons of Colorado rivers. In California, the train crossed the Sierra Nevada, traveling along the amazing canyons of the Feather River on the line of the Western Pacific Railroad.  A 1950s advertising slogan for the train promised “Beauty by Day, All the Way!”

Today, Amtrak operates its own California Zephyr over part of the original route.  As one of the most popular long distance trains, it still offers the best scenery. The modern version crosses the Sierra Nevada using Donner Pass (formerly owned by a rival railroad to the Western Pacific) along Interstate 80 instead of following the Feather River route.

Most of the passenger cars built for “The Silver Lady,” as the California Zephyr was sometimes known, survived the end of the operation of the train. A surprising number still exist today in museums, as well as in charter service.

About Disneyland Resort

Located on approximately 500 acres in Anaheim, Calif., the Disneyland Resort features two spectacular theme parks – Disneyland (the original Disney theme park) and Disney California Adventure park – plus the Downtown Disney District composed of unique dining, entertainment and shopping experiences. The Resort’s three hotels are the 948-room Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, the 969-room Disneyland Hotel and the 481-room Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. With 21,000 Cast Members, the Disneyland Resort is Orange County’s largest employer and generates $4.7 billion for the Southern California economy. The Resort has welcomed more than 600 million guests since opening on July 17, 1955. For detailed information about the Disneyland Resort, please visit

About the Western Pacific Railroad Museum

The Western Pacific Railroad Museum is located in Portola, California, north of Truckee and right off scenic California Highway 70. It is a hands-on museum dedicated to preserving the history of the Western Pacific and features over 130 items of historic railroad rolling stock as well as a significant photographic and paperwork archives.  A popular feature is the Run-A-Locomotive program, which offers guests the opportunity to learn about train operations and then take the throttle of a real locomotive as they run on the Museum’s demonstration railway.  For more information visit or call 530.832.4131. The Museum is open 7 days a week, 10 AM – 5 PM, from the first Saturday in May through the first Sunday in October. Open weather permitting on weekends in April and October.  Please call ahead for off-season times. The museum owns the largest collection of California Zephyr equipment and archival material in the country.  The Zephyr Project collection includes a complete and operational locomotive and several passenger cars, including a dome coach, dome buffet dormitory and the last intact dining car from the train. A rare opportunity to travel the original route of the California Zephyr will occur August 19th through 21st as a special 12 car-passenger train heads from Oakland to Portola for the annual Railroad Days festival.  For more information, visit

Miehana, Youhana, we all love Kevin and Jody!

It’s no secret that my favorite contemporary artists are Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily.  I am a shameless fangirl.

But what lover of Disney and Tiki wouldn’t be?

I get annoyed when I go into Disneyana and I see works by artists/companies that have no link to nor affection for Disney; it’s just a line of collectibles in their generic collectible business.  When I see Kevin and Jody’s stuff, the love that went into the pieces is so apparent.

Even better, Kevin blogs about Disney, Anaheim history, Tiki and art at his blog.  He doesn’t hide the process and say “it’s a secret”; he shows, often step-by-step, works in progress.  It’s fascinating.  It’s why the Disneyland TV shows where Walt takes us behind the scenes and shows us how things work are my favorites.  But he doesn’t share every single secret – which can be a good thing.  How DOES that ship in a bottle work?  Don’t tell me!  I’d rather imagine dozens of tiny sailors meeting their doom every time someone orders a delicious Shipwreck.  I’m a bad, bad person that way.

They also designed the Soundsational parade, and an arucuan bird tells me they’re working on something for Japan.  Good.  Another reason to go there.  Jim Hill talks about it here.

Outside of Disney, Kevin and Jody are respected artists in the world of Tiki culture as well.  They had some work up for this year’s Hukilau in Florida and have done album covers, book covers, menus…you name it.  Ooga-Mooga has a nice collection of Kevin’s Tiki mugs here.

Of course, they don’t just do Tiki things; there’s the barker bird in the D23 Auction (#26 from the top) that my husband is dying to own, and the Contemporary Resort Mural vase, based on Mary Blair’s work (my favorite Disney artist from the past).  In fact, they have a whole gallery of Disney projects, which is updated pretty quickly as they create new things.

We can’t wait to see what happens next.

Let’s all Sing Like the Birdies Sing

Today’s musical treat is a stroll through the songs of the Tiki Room.

Oh, not THAT song – it’s one of the Sherman Brothers’ best – but did you know the origin of the OTHER songs within?

Here’s Jay Williams, warbling his 1934 hit “Let’s all Sing Like the Birdies Sing”:

Wilbur also mentions birdies singing in one of his other hits, “Be Like the Kettle and Sing.”

Barry McCanna wrote the only biography (more of a discography with details, really) about Wilbur on Memory Lane in the UK.  Wilbur led an interesting life; he was born sometime before the turn of the 20th century to a musician father and wardrobe mistress mother in Britain’s oldest opera company.  He was trained in voice and piano, and may have appeared with a young Charlie Chaplin on the vaudeville stage.  He began accompanying silent films on piano, and was one of the key players in developing the first orchestras that did so.  He began touring with a light orchestra, but was bitten by the Dixieland bug in 1919.  What resulted from the influence of the two was one of the roots of popular music at the time Let’s all Sing… came out.  He played The Savoy and Piccadilly hotels, toured Europe and played on a cruise to the USA, where he met musical luminaries of the time.  He developed wanderlust, moving from continent to continent before ending his life in South Africa, but not before recording some of the most important, if not famous, music of the era.  He always used studio musicians, who often worked under pseudonyms, so most of the people behind his songs will remain a mystery.

Another dish in the musical luau in the Tiki Room is “The Hawaiian War Chant (Tahuwahuwai)”.  Tommy Noble is credited for composing the song, but he actually “borrowed” it from Prince William Pitt Leleiohoku’s song “Kauai I Huahua’i” (We Two in the Spray) and jazzed it up a bit.

Lyrics and a brief bio here.   There are about a zillion versions of the sped-up, Americanized version online, but you’ll be hard-put to find a more authentic version online.  Suffice it to say – Disney got it right with the pacing of the song.  It’s a love song, not a war chant, possibly written by the prince about a woman he was having an affair with.  He died at 22, so we’ll never know.  It’s not overtly sexual, but does contain some sensual imagery.  Also, watching people from the 30s and 40s mangle the Hawaiian is pretty funny.

I’d written a nice bit about Offenbach, but I cut it out because it was slowing down the pacing of the piece.

Tomorrow: You-hana?  Get a look at how some of the great Tiki/Adventureland collectibles are made.