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The Rookie Screened at the White House

On this day, in 2002 President George W. Bush had a movie night at the White House.  He invited Actor Dennis Quaid, Disney Chairman Michael Eisner, and Director John Lee Hancock for a screening of the Disney movie, The Rookie.

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The Rookie, is a movie based on the true-life tale of Jim Morris, a 35 year-old science teacher who became one of the oldest rookies in the major leagues as a baseball pitcher.  Jim is the son of a career Navy man, who has to move his family to a small town in Texas when Jim is younger.  Unfortunately Jim’s father never approved of his dream to play Major League Baseball and never helped him with his dream.  Not only did his father not support his dream, but the town they moved to didn’t care for baseball much either and he wasn’t even able to play in high school.  He did get drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers, but tore his shoulder and ending his dream

Jim, in 1999, is married with 3 kids and a science teacher and baseball coach where he attended high school.  His team learns he can still throw hard and fast and they make a deal with the coach if they win their district, Coach Morris has to try out for the majors.  Well the team does win their district and in keeping his promise, Jim Morris tries out for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Jim attends a tryout nearby for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and with his children in tow, goes out and throws for the scouts.  After his tryout, Jim is told that his fastball is a staggering 98 mph, which is abnormally higher than it was in his younger years.  To make a long story short, he gets a shot and goes to pitch for one of Tampa Bay’s minor league teams.

As I’m sure you can guess, he does eventually get to go to the Majors and pitch.  This is where you can insert President Bush wanting to show the film.  It’s no secret, President Bush is a huge Baseball fan.  He even at one time was a partner in owning the Texas Rangers Major League team.  When Jim Morris got called up to pitch for the Devil Rays in his first game, the Rays were actually playing the Texas Rangers in Arlington Texas.  President Bush was a big part of the stadium being built in Arlington and being a lifelong fan of the Rangers this created his interest in the film.

If you haven’t seen the film, The Rookie, I highly recommend you do.  The story is really good, even if you are not a sports fan you will enjoy this film.  When you finally see Jim Morris achieve his dream and the look on his family, including his father’s face, you see that they are so proud of him and his accomplishment.  Jim Morris had a very short MLB career having pitched that first game on Sept 18, 1999 and his final game on May 9, 2000.  He only pitched in 21 games over that time, but he and his story are an inspiration to anyone with a dream they want to fulfill.  No matter your age, you can always strive to make your dream a reality.  Walt chased all his dreams and encouraged all around him to do the same.

We Remember Helen Lyndon Goff (P.L. Travers)

On this date, in 1996, Helen Lyndon Goff passed away. We know her better by the name of P.L. Travers. Ms. Travers was the author that brought Mary Poppins to life. Mary Poppins is still considered one of the great movies in Disney. Last year, we got to see Saving Mr. Banks, the story behind the character Mary Poppins and also all the work Walt went through to bring the book to the big screen.

PL Travers and Walt Disney

Helen Lyndon Goff, went by Lyndon to family, was born August 9, 1899 in Maryborough, Australia.  She was born to Travers Robert Goff and Margaret Agnes née Morehead. Her mother was the niece of Boyd Dunlop Morehead, who was the Premier of Queensland (Head of Government in Queensland) from 1888 – 1890.   Her father’s job took the family to Allora in 1905, but sadly just 2 years later her father at the age of 43,  passed away from influenza.  After her father’s passing, her mother and sisters moved to Bowral, New South Wales in 1907 and stayed there till 1917.  Lyndon would go to a all girls school in Ashfield, Sydney during World War I.Lyndon would start publishing her poems as a teenager and also wrote for The Bulletin and Triad.  At this time, she was also gaining a reputation as an actress.  Lyndon would soon take the stage name “Pamela Lyndon Travers” and as an actress she toured Australia and New Zealand with a Shakespearean tour company.  She would move to England in 1924. While in England, she started to write under the pen name, P.L. Travers.

In 1933, while living with her friend, Madge Burnand in Sussex, she began to write Mary Poppins.  Mary Poppins would go on to be Travers first literary success.  She would continue to write sequels to Mary Poppins, the last in 1988, along with other novels, poetry and works of non-ficition.  P.L. Travers greatly admired author, J.M. Barrie who wrote Peter Pan in 1911.  Also, her first publisher was Peter Llewelyn Davies, who was the adopted son of J.M. Barrie and also the model for Peter Pan.

Pamela had developed an interest in world mythology and studied the Gurdjeff System.   In March 1936, she was able to meet the mystic George Guardjieff, who would have a great effect on her.   Through her life she would study mythology and folklore, even spending two summers living among the Navajo, Hopi and Pueblo people.  In the 1960′s she would travel to Japan to study Zen mysticism.

During World War II, while living in Manhattan working for the British Ministry of Information, is when Roy Disney first contacted her about selling the Mary Poppins character to the Disney studio for film use. Travers was an adviser to the production, but didn’t like many aspects of how the story was told and ruled out any further adaptations of later Mary Poppins novels.  She also felt she was treated poorly at the hands of Disney.

At the premier for the film, Travers who had not been invited, asked Disney for permission to attend.  It’s rumored that at the premier, she approached Walt and told him the animation sequence needed to go. Walt’s response was “Pamela, the ship has sailed” and walked away from her. She was not easy to work with, from all that was said and written about her.

When she was in her 90′s, she was approached about the stage musical of the books.  She accepted but with the condition that only English-born writers and no one from the film production field were to be directly involved with the creative process of the stage musical. This specifically excluded the Sherman Brothers from writing additional songs for the production, even though they were still very prolific. However, original songs and other aspects from the 1964 film were allowed to be incorporated into the production. She went so far as to make these stipulations in her last will and testament.

P.L. Travers never married, but at the age of 40 had adopted a baby boy, Camillus.  Her son had a twin brother whom she did not adopt or any of his siblings at the advice of her astrologer.  In 1977, she received the honor of becoming an Officer of the British Empire.     In 1996, Travers health began to fail and she passed away at the age of 96 in London.

Carrot Cake Cookie Recipe ~ Writer’s Stop, Hollywood Studios

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One thing our readers like to talk about is Disney food! We have an all new Disney Recipe’s section in our Forums that was started last week, so I thought we’d share some recipe’s on the main wall as well! Today’s Disney treat is the Carrot Cake Cookie, like the one they serve at the Writer’s Stop at Hollywood Studios. Read on for the instructions, and don’t forget to visit our Disney Recipe Forum while you’re here!

Ingredients

Standard Carrot Cake mix 8oz of cream cheese 8Tbs butter 1 c confectionary sugar 1/2 c of crushed pineapple, (well drained) 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Make standard Carrot Cake recipe. Drop rounded off spoonfuls onto cookie sheets. Bake according to Carrot Cake recipe instructions Once the cookies are done, set them aside to cool. Whip together remaining ingredients and place a tablespoon or more of icing onto cookie. Sandwich two cookies together to complete.

Past, Present and Future Galactic Stars Shine at Star Wars Weekends 2014

Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor for Disney put out the announcement of what Star Wars personalities will be on hand this year for Star Wars Weekends 2014.

Here’s a little trivia: did you know former “Cheers” star and the Disney•Pixar “lucky charm” John Ratzenberger once appeared on the silver screen in the Star Wars saga? Before he frequented the watering hole where everybody knew his name, he braved the frigid planet Hoth in a minor role in Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back. Next stop for Ratzenberger (or, as he may be known to Star Wars fans: Major Bren Derlin) will be Disney’s Hollywood Studios for Star Wars Weekends 2014.

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Today, we’re pleased to announce the full talent lineup for this year’s event. Celebrities scheduled to attend include Star Wars actors and actresses from the past (from the Star Wars film saga), present (from the popular animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars) and even the future (from the eagerly anticipated Disney XD animated series Star Wars Rebels). As we previously announced, acclaimed voice actor James Arnold Taylor is the official celebrity host of this year’s event. We’re pleased to announce today that Ashley Eckstein, voice of Ahsoka Tano in The Clone Wars, a former Walt Disney World Resort parade performer and now a successful fangirl fashion designer, will be the host of a special “Behind The Force” show each weekend. This year, “Behind The Force” will showcase some of the main cast members from Star Wars Rebels. Also of note: Weekend V will feature the most Star Wars celebrities to appear at one time in the event’s history. Here’s the lineup (*subject to change): Weekend I: May 16-18

Ahmed Best: Jar Jar Binks (Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace; Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones; Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith; Star Wars: The Clone Wars) Peter Mayhew: Chewbacca (Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith; Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope; Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back; Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi; Star Wars: The Clone Wars) Vanessa Marshall: Hera Syndulla (Star Wars Rebels)

Weekend II: May 23-25

Warwick Davis: Wicket W. Warrick (Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi); Wald (Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace) Jeremy Bulloch: Boba Fett (Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back; Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi); Capt. Jeremoch Colton (Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith) Tiya Sircar: Sabine Wren (Star Wars Rebels)

Weekend III: May 30-June 1

Ray Park: Darth Maul (Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace) John Ratzenberger: Major Bren Derlin (Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back) Taylor Gray: Ezra Bridger (Star Wars Rebels)

Weekend IV: June 6-8

Mark Hamill: Luke Skywalker (Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope; Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back; Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi); Darth Bane (Star Wars: The Clone Wars) Ray Park: Darth Maul (Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace) Billy Dee Williams: Lando Calrissian (Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back; Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi) Taylor Gray: Ezra Bridger (Star Wars Rebels)

Weekend V: June 13-15

Dee Bradley Baker: Captain Rex/the Clones, Bossk and several additional characters (Star Wars: The Clone Wars) Cat Taber: Padmé Amidala and several additional characters (Star Wars: The Clone Wars) Tom Kane: Yoda, the series’ narrator and several additional characters (Star Wars: The Clone Wars) Matt Lanter: Anakin Skywalker and several additional characters (Star Wars: The Clone Wars) Steve Blum: Zeb Orrelios (Star Wars Rebels)

I think weekend I with Peter Mayhew will be a huge draw, especially since the news came out of him being in Episode VII. The weekend I wouldn’t want to miss is Weekend IV, Mark Hamill, Ray Park and Billy Dee Williams. If you could only go to one of the weekends, which one do you choose?

Declassifying Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Ragtag

Did you watch last nights episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  It was another great episode.  So much is going on at one time and no idea how all this is going to turn out.  Today, Marvel has already released the information for May 6th episode.  Can you believe we only have 3 more episodes and the season is over?  It’s going to be a long summer waiting for season 2.

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As “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” races toward its first season finale, things get even worse for Coulson as his team as their battle with the Clairvoyant reaches a fever pitch in “Ragtag,” the series’ twenty-first episode!

Read the official synopsis and credits for “Ragtag” below and catch “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” every Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. ET on ABC! For even more S.H.I.E.L.D. keep your eyes on Marvel.com for more updates and follow @AgentsofSHIELD on Twitter and like “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” on Facebook for all the latest news!

“Ragtag” – In the last episode before the epic season finale, Ward’s betrayal and Hydra’s shocking secrets are revealed as Coulson’s team goes undercover on a mission that leaves no one unscathed, on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Tuesday, May 6 (8:00-9:01 p.m. ET) on the ABC Television Network.

Bear-Talk with John C. Reilly

Bears just hit theaters a few days ago, here is more information about the film and also the narator John C. Reilly and talking about his part in the film.

With the release of their latest exciting wilderness documentary, Bears, Disneynature hopes to continue the conversation that Walt Disney started with his highly lauded True-Life Adventure series back in the 1940s. To help tell the story of the brown bear family at the center of the film, Disneynature brought in famous Disney animated character voice John C. Reilly (Wreck-It Ralph), who became something of a bear expert along the way.

We recently had the pleasure of speaking to John about the experience, and his favorite bear-facts from his time on Bears. Take a look at what he had to say:

In an epic story of breathtaking scale, Disneynature’s True Life Adventure “Bears” showcases a year in the life of a bear family as two impressionable young cubs are taught life’s most important lessons. Set against a majestic backdrop teeming with life, their journey begins as winter comes to an end and the bears emerge from hibernation to face the bitter cold. The world outside is exciting—but risky—as the cubs’ playful descent down the mountain carries with it a looming threat of avalanches. As the season changes from spring to summer, the brown bears must work hard to find food— ultimately feasting at a plentiful salmon run—while staying safe from rival male bears and predators, including an ever-present wolf.

Bears is now playing in theaters nationwide. See the film during opening week (April 18-24, 2014) and Disneynature, through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, will make a contribution to the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, to protect wildlife and wild places across America’s national park system.

Spring Blooms Bright at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort

This blog was posted on the Disney Parks Blog by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort.

When you think of spring at Walt Disney World, the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is likely the first thing that comes to mind. I agree, but lately, as I’ve been walking around Downtown Disney, I can’t help but notice that we’ve got a lot of colorful blooms sprouting up here, too.

My favorite, a Mickey and Minnie topiary that makes me smile every time I see it, is located near the Marketplace Fun Fountains and Earl of Sandwich. It’s the perfect photo backdrop to mark the season.

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I recently had the chance to connect with Horticulture Manager Patrick Zusack to learn more about what it takes to keep the magic growing. Patrick’s dedicated team of seven cast members starts at early at 5 a.m. each morning – which makes sense, given their task of maintaining over 21 acres of irrigated landscaping. I’ve learned that there are over 25,000 bedding plants, more than 350 containers and 75 hanging baskets currently on display daily at Downtown Disney, all adding abundant seasonal color for our guests to enjoy while visiting the property. Patrick, a 25-year cast member, shares that the most rewarding part of his job is “wowing our guests and then seeing them take pictures of one another and utilizing our colorful garden as their backdrops.”

From flower beds in front of World of Disney to potted plants lining the new pedestrian walkway that connects Pleasure Island and West Side, floral fun abounds in all three Downtown Disney districts.

TOP222333LARGE-613x408Be sure to keep an eye out for pretty petals during your next visit. In the meantime, check out the gallery below for a few of my favorite buds, then let me know which floral display at Walt Disney World Resort tops your list!

Tokyo Disney Resort Welcomes 600 Millionth Guest

The Disney Parks Blog has reported that Tokyo Disney Resort has accomplished an amazing milestone earlier this month, welcoming their 600 millionth guest on April 12.

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So you may wonder, who was the 600 millionth guest.  Yumi Sakai, who was visiting the park with her husband and two children was the special guest.  In recognition of the honor, Yumi was given flowers and asked to help lead a special ceremony alongside Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. She also received a certificate, three years of park admission, Mickey Mouse and Duffy plushes, and more.  Going to Disney for the day is already a wonderful prize, but her day was extra special.

The Story Behind Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

In 1916, Walt Disney had seen a movie based on play by Jessie White. The film starred Marguerite Clark and Creighton Hale. That film was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In the 1920′s when Walt was making shorts, he knew that animation was not to the point it could produce a full feature film. He also knew that just doing shorts he would always be on the fringe of. In the back of his mind, he always knew that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs would be a great film to do. Animation at this time was very similar across the board. Most characters were male and rubbery in movement. Female characters were just the male characters in high heels, a skirt, dainty gestures, and eyelashes that set them apart from the male version. It wasn’t until Betty Boop, that the first female character was really created. Being the lead for Snow White was a female, Walt wanted to improve on the animation of a female character.

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As Walt and his animators took cartoons to the next level, with the Silly Symphonies series, they added color and sound. Walt challenged his animators to give the characters more definition and make them into believable characters. He wanted the audience to see the character as more then just a cartoon. He wanted the crowd to feel for the character the way they do for a live version of a character in film. One thing Walt did for his animators, was once he had a little bit of extra money he sent them all to school. Sadly, Walt found out quickly that the art schools weren’t able to teach what Walt wanted them to learn so he created his own schools. With his animators becoming what he wanted, Walt took the biggest risk of his career and decided to create Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Skeptics told him a full length feature film cartoon would never make it, but Walt didn’t listen. Thankfully for us he didn’t.

The way I have heard it told by different animators, Walt called a meeting one evening, he had a large group meet on the sound stage. Walt being the showmen he was, knew he would need to sell his idea of the film to the ones who would help bring it to life. Walt not only told the story, but he acted out each scene and character. From different things I have read over the years, Walt acted out the film multiple times to help the animators see his vision.

Development on the film started in early 1934 and in June of that year, Walt announced to the New York Times that he was working on his first full length film. Walt believed at the time the film could be done for around $250,000, but it ended up costing around $1.4 million. That was a hefty sum for any film of the era, but for a cartoon, completely unheard of. Walt had to fight to get the film done. Even his biggest supporters, his brother and business partner Roy and his wife Lillian both tried to talk him out of doing the film. But he wouldn’t give up, he even mortgaged his house to get the funds to do the film.

There were so many meetings and idea’s swirling with how the film should be done. Walt’s main focus for the movie was always the Dwarfs. In Grimm’s original fairy tale, the Dwarfs had no names. Walt wanted them to have names that would reflect their personalities. Some names thrown around were Jumpy, Deafy, Dizzey, Hickey, Wheezy, Baldy, Gabby, Nifty, Sniffy, Swift, Lazy, Puffy, Stuffy, Tubby, Shorty and Burpy. Of course it was eventually settled on Doc, Sleepy, Happy, Bashful, Sneezy, Grumpy and of course Dopey.

Walt and his staff spent a lot of time to develop the full story. They had even tried to incorporate certain things from the original Grimm’s fairytale. For instance, they were going to use the poisoned comb, but didn’t use it in the final draft. They did use the poisoned apple, as the Queen’s method to kill Snow White. It’s not said if they considered the first way the Queen tried to kill Snow White with the bodice.

In the original notes, the writers were working with the notion that the Queen would be ‘fat, batty, cartoon type, self-satisfied’. Over time they realized what wouldn’t work and that created the Queen the way we know her today.

There was a point in 1934 that Walt was the only one working on the project and eventually he stopped and didn’t pick it up again till the Autumn of 1935. Some thought that Walt didn’t think they could do the film the way he imagined it. It was after a trip to Europe in the summer 1935 that Walt’s faith in the project was restored. He moved forward with his project. In a memo sent out on November 25, 1935, Walt laid out the assignments for everyone on the film and things were starting to take shape.

They changed from the original plan that the Dwarfs would be the focus of the film and focused on the story between the Evil Queen and Snow White. There were many scenes shot that were cut involving the Dwarfs. Many gags were done but taken out because there was thought the gags might take away from plausibility of the character.

There were a couple scenes that were done by Ward Kimball that were cut. Ward was so upset about the sequences being cut, he contemplated leaving the studio. Walt was able to persuade him into staying and promoted him to supervising animator of Jiminy Cricket for Walt’s next projectPinocchio.

The film would be released on December 21, 1937 and premiere at the Carthay Circle Theatre. Outside the theater was a animation exhibit set up for patrons to enjoy. Also there was Dwarfland with a cottage and the Dwarfs themselves. When the film debuted that evening all the Hollywood Elite came out to see Walt’s film.

At the end of the film, the crowd gave a standing ovation. Even the critics that called the film “Disney’s Folly” realized they were wrong. Six days later, Walt Disney and the seven dwarfs appeared on the cover of Time magazine. The New York Times said “Thank you very much, Mr. Disney”. Variety suggested that “[so] perfect is the illusion, so tender the romance and fantasy, so emotional are certain portions when the acting of the characters strikes a depth comparable to the sincerity of human players, that the film approaches real greatness.”

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Walt Disney received a full-size Oscar statuette and seven miniature ones

At a cost of $1.4 million, the film had taken three years, 750 artists and almost two million individual paintings to create. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs went on to receive a special Academy Award (one full-size Oscar accompanied by seven “dwarf” Oscars), and its original worldwide gross totaled $8.5 million. Today, that would have been hundreds of millions of dollars. It was the highest-grossing movie of all time until it was later surpassed by “Gone with the Wind.”

To this day, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is regarded as one of the greatest films of all time. The music is loved by millions. From “Someday My Prince Will Come” to “Heigh-Ho” the music is still enjoyed by all. The movie has sparked theme park attractions, Broadway musicals, video games, etc. The Evil Queen is still one of the most popular villains in Disney history and the Dwarfs are a huge fan favorite. Everyone seems to have their favorite. Snow White is the original Disney Princess and still very popular. Next time you are in Disney, notice how many of the little girls coming out of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique are dressed like Snow White. If not for Walt’s dream and persistence in creating this film, who knows what would have happened. Thank you Walt for never giving up.

It’s Tuesday, New Episode of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Well Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans, here we are for another new episode.  Episode 19 airs tonight at 8:00 EST.  Tonight’s episode is titled “The Only Light in the Darkness”.  The synopsis for tonight’s all-new episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. reads like this.

“With their world turned upside down, Coulson races to save the life of his one true love as the mystery of “The Cellist,” which began in Marvel’s The Avengers, is finally revealed.”

With so many things going on in the Agents lives and what is going on with S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA, things tonight are going to reach a new level. Agent Coulson will finally come face to face with the woman who means the most to him. We have had references to the Cellist from The Avengers, but to this point have not seen her. Tonight, we will finally meet the woman who has Phil’s heart. Also, we will be introduced to a super-power menace from her past known as Blackout. We know from last week’s episode Ward rejoined the team, as they are not familiar with his turn to HYDRA. We will learn new things about his past this evening, which may provide some more light into his character and his choices.

Here is the preview to this weeks episode:

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