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March 4, 2013

My Disney Story (Repeat)

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As I mentioned in my last article, I am taking a few weeks off to get moved into an apartment while my new home is being built. During this time, I will be posting some of my older blogs. The following article first ran on November 29, 2009.



Usually when I write a blog or newsletter article, I try to stay clear of my personal experiences. I like to focus on the facts and leave my encounters out of the mix. But today I'm going to depart from my usual formula and present you with a brief look at my life and how it was intertwined with Disney. Along the way I will try to sprinkle in some "facts" so you can still come away from this article with a few bits of Disney trivia. So here goes.

In order to plan and build Disneyland, Walt desperately needed capital. The two major television networks of the time, NBC and CBS, were interested in producing a Disney created TV show, but wanted nothing to do with his harebrained amusement park. However, fledgling network ABC saw potential and agreed to give Walt $500,000 and a number of guaranteed loans. In return, Walt would give ABC a weekly television show and one-third ownership in Disneyland.

The "Disneyland" TV show debuted on October 27, 1954. Walt hosted the show and each week he presented a story that highlighted a different "land" within the theme park he was building in Anaheim.


Disneyland TV Show


The early years of my life were spent in West Los Angeles. This is about an hour's drive north of Anaheim. I was only two when the "Disneyland" TV show debuted. I do have memories of watching this show, but they must be from reruns as I was much too young to remember the original series.

On July 17, 1955, Disneyland opened to the public. Alas, I wasn't there.


Disneyland Opening


On October 3, 1955, the Mickey Mouse Club debuted on ABC and I was one of the millions of kids that watched this show in the years that followed. For those of you not familiar with the program, it was a daily (M-F) variety show for children. Each day featured a different theme like "Fun with Music" or "Talent Roundup Day." The capable Mouseketeers sang, danced, and performed a number of skits. And of course, Disney cartoons were always available.


Mickey Mouse Club


The black mouse-ears (with your name embroidered on the back) debuted on this show and have been selling at Disney theme parks ever since.


Mickey Mouse Ears


My first trip to Disneyland occurred in 1957 when I was five years old. I have memories of this event, but unfortunately, they aren't particularly good. I was accompanied by my mother, older sister, and aunt and her rebellious teenage son.

One of my memories involves the Storybook Land Canal Boats. I remember being terrified as we approached the attraction and I saw boats sailing into Monstro's open mouth. I didn't want to be eaten! After my mother calmed me down, we got in line. When it came time for us to load, my rather large aunt boarded first. She was so bulky that the boat tipped precariously to one side, almost spilling the cast member into the water. After regaining her balance, the cast member politely seated the rest of us opposite my aunt to balance the load.


Monstro & Storybook Land Canal Boats


Here's an interesting side note, for many years, only women could be ride operators on the Storybook Land Canal Boats and only men could be skippers on the Jungle Cruise. The reason, theming. Everybody knew in the 1950's through the 1970's that only a big husky man could navigate a boat safely through the jungle and only a sweet young miss could play tour guide to the homes of Pinocchio, Cinderella, and Snow White.

My, how things have changed"

Later that day, my rebellious cousin ran off without permission. Since we didn't know where he had gone, it was decided we'd just wait for him at the spot where we had lost track of him, which was near Dumbo. (Remember, there were no cell phones in 1955 to keep track of one another.) So for the next hour we waited, and waited, and waited for him to return. This seemed like an eternity to me as I watched the nearby flying elephants but could not ride.

My final memory of my first visit to Disneyland involves the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train. For some reason, I got it into my head that this was a roller coaster and refused to board. Back home that evening, I was looking through the post cards we had purchased earlier in the day and I saw this beautiful picture of multicolored waterfalls cascading into luminous streams. I asked my mother why she hadn't taken me on this ride. She then informed me that I had had the opportunity but refused to go.


Rainbow Caverns


In the years that followed, I made numerous trips to Disneyland - with much better results.

For my tenth birthday, I asked my father for a share of Disney stock and he complied. I'm sure he was more interested in teaching me the value of investing than he was about Disney. But I didn't care what his reasons were, I got what I wanted. Each year after that, I received the Annual Stock Report sometime in January. I would pour over it like it was gold, reading about all the new and upcoming attractions and movies Disney was planning. You have to remember, this was long before the internet and long before we knew every move the company was making. By the way, I still have these stock reports. They must be worth something on EBay.


Disney Stock Report


Something that many people don't know is that Disneyland was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays until sometime in the 1980's. It was only open seven days a week during the summer, Easter and Christmas weeks, and a few other holidays. Attendance simply did not demand everyday operation and this allowed maintenance to do a lot of refurbishing out of sight of the guests on these days. However, the Disneyland Hotel, which was owned and operated by the Jack Wrather Corporation, advertised that the monorail was open everyday. So on Mondays and Tuesdays, guests could still board the monorail at the hotel station and take a round-trip ride through a deserted Disneyland. This would cost the equivalent price of an "E" ticket.


Monorail and Disneyland Hotel


During the winter months, attendance dropped off dramatically at Disneyland. In order to boost revenue, Disney created "Party" nights. This involved renting the park to a private group or company for the evening. Disneyland would close to regular guests at 6pm or 7pm then reopen to the private organization from 8pm to 1am. My stepfather was in the military and each year we attended "Navy Night." When you combine the fact that the crowds were relatively light and ticket books weren't required for these events, it allowed a boy of 11 and 12 to ride the Autopia over and over again.

Here's a killer for you. In the '50's and '60's, Disney considered the cels used to create their animated movies as useless rubbish. They sold them at the Art Corner in Tomorrowland for two to three dollars each. Today, these same cels sell for hundreds to thousands of dollars. But did I buy one? Nope. My parents told me they were worthless junk.


Art of Animation


Construction began on the Haunted Mansion in 1962 and the exterior was completed in 1963. For years, every time I visited Disneyland I would walk by this building with grand expectations that it might be open, only to be disappointed. It seems that Walt had become involved with the New York World's Fair and the Mansion was put on a back burner. Bummer. However, I did return on August 9, 1969, the day the Mansion opened to the public, and waited two hours in line to ride.


Haunted Mansion


I lived in Japan for two years (1966 to 1967). This was long before Tokyo Disneyland. During this time I was desperate for a Disney fix but had limited options. All I had were my stock reports, some unused tickets, and a large map of Disneyland. I would scour this map frequently and relive memories.

When I returned to the states, I was 15 and we moved to Anaheim. High on my agenda was a return trip to Disneyland. A few weeks after getting home, my cousin (a different cousin) and I were allowed to go - alone - no parents - no chaperones. How cool was this?

During my time in Japan, the new Tomorrowland had been completed and New Orleans Square and Pirates of the Caribbean had opened. There was so much new since my last visit that it seemed like a completely different park. My cousin and I were in heaven. And to top it off, we found an unused ticket book on the Mission to Mars attraction. Obviously, someone had dropped it. This new found treasure meant we could go on even more rides. It was a grand day.


Ticket Book


When we got home that evening, our mothers told us that we should have returned the ticket book to City Hall so Disney could find the rightful owner. My cousin and I just looked at each other. Yeah, right. Like 14 and 15 year old boys are going to do something so noble.

At this time, I lived in an apartment building on Katella Avenue about three miles from Disneyland. Also living in the same building was Roy Williams, the big guy from the original Mickey Mouse Club. One day his wife invited me in to meet him. I was thrilled. The aging Roy was very kind to me and even drew me one of his famous caricatures. But do I have that drawing today? Nope. I have no idea what happened to it.


Roy Willians


Shortly after I turned 18 I applied for a job at Disneyland. Like everyone who interviews for a position at a Disney theme park, I had dreams of driving the monorail or working on the Matterhorn.

When I arrived at the Casting building, I was handed some sort of a test and told to sit in a school-type chair/desk and complete it. I guess I got enough of the questions right because I was then told to sit someplace else until called to meet with an interviewer.

I was horribly shy when I was 18. My personality certainly did not exude the makings of an outgoing monorail driver. After a few questions and answers, the gentleman conducting the interview offered me a job as a Miscellaneous Kitchen Helper at the Blue Bayou Restaurant. I thought to myself, "What's a restaurant got to do with a monorail?" But I soon came to my senses and although disappointed, accepted the job. I was told to report back a week later to attend a two-day orientation class.

New Orleans Square at Disneyland was actually a testing ground for bigger plans Walt had for a project in Florida. You see, under New Orleans Square is a large basement. In this basement is a huge industrial kitchen. Here, food is prepared for five restaurants, the Creole Café (now Café Orleans), the French Market, the Blue Bayou, Club 33, and an employee cafeteria. The Imagineers wanted to see if a large "central" kitchen could support multiple restaurants. This idea was later expanded to become Central Foods behind the Magic Kingdom in Florida and used the Utilidors to transport the food around the park.


WDW Central Foods


The above picture of Central Foods was taken at Walt Disney World in January, 1972. This building is located behind the Magic Kingdom and is now used to house holiday decorations.

After completing Orientation, I reported to the Blue Bayou Restaurant. It was then that I learned the true nature of my job. A Miscellaneous Kitchen Helper was to transport food from the basement kitchen up to a secondary kitchen in the Blue Bayou where final preparation could take place. So instead of driving a monorail, I would be pushing a cart full of pots and pans. Great. Just great. I was also expected to do a lot of nasty clean-up work.

I remember my first weekend on the job, standing in the rain out back of New Orleans Square at 1am, steam cleaning a trash can. This was definitely not driving a monorail. I hated my job! I wanted to quit! But I stuck it out. And as I got to know my fellow cast members, the job became tolerable, then better, and eventually fun - okay, maybe not fun, but certainly okay.

This next picture was taken the following year when I had been promoted to "Fry Cook."


Jack in the Blue Bayou Kitchen


So the next time you're visiting a Disney park, remember, for every on-stage cast member you encounter, there is someone backstage doing less pleasant tasks to make your stay enjoyable.

Walt Disney World opened on October 1, 1971. Soon afterwards, Disney offered a special trip to the cast members of Disneyland and the employees of the Studio in Burbank. For $200 they would fly you to Orlando where you would stay for five nights at the Contemporary Resort tower. Also included were side trips to Kennedy Space Center, Cypress Gardens, and backstage tours of the Utilidors and other facilities behind the Magic Kingdom.


Utilidors


Mind you, I was only making $1.71 an hour, but I still lived at home and I had saved enough money that I could afford the trip. I signed up immediately and in January 1972, I made my first trip to Walt Disney World.

I have to admit, I was underwhelmed. Yes, the Contemporary and Polynesian were cool hotels, and Cinderella Castle was impressive, but the Magic Kingdom only had a fraction of the attractions that Disneyland had. Remember, in the beginning, there were no Space, Thunder, or Splash Mountains. There was no PeopleMover. There was no Pirates of the Caribbean. It only took a half-day to see everything. And nighttime was even worse. There was absolutely nothing to do after the Magic Kingdom closed. But I guess it captivated my imagination enough as I kept returning every two to three years.

On summer nights in the 1970's, cast members at Disneyland were allowed to use their cast ID's for entrance into the park. However, you were required to bring a member of the opposite sex. You see, Disney didn't want a bunch of hormone-charged males cruising for chicks in their family oriented park. By creating a "Date Night" they avoided this problem.


Date Night at Disneyland


Other efforts to keep Disneyland clean-cut were also in place at this time. Plain-clothed security guards would stand at the entrance of the park and watch for clothing violations. If your attire showed too much skin or displayed any picture or writing that was even slightly offensive, you were denied entrance. Believe me, a significant number of Disney guests today would have never been allowed access to Disneyland in my days of employment there.

Also in the early 70's, only women could be servers in the restaurants. It took a cast member from the Club 33 to challenge this policy in court to bring equality to the wait staff.

I was employed at the Blue Bayou for six years and worked myself up to the position of Lead. This was the highest non-management position and I was in charge of the day-to-day operation of the restaurant. I also served a six-month term as a University Leader and conducted the 2-day Orientation classes given to new hires. (Today, this class is called Traditions.) And finally, I was asked to transfer to the Club 33 as Lead/Maître d' where I worked for another three years.

Here is a picture of me greeting guests as they step off of the lift into the upper lobby of the Club 33.


Jack at Club 33


For various reasons, I decided it was time to leave Disneyland in 1980. I hired on with Pacific Bell/ATT where I worked for another 19 years before I was offered an early retirement.

Working for the phone company was the best thing that could have happened to me, but it was just a job. I really don't have any memories of significance of my time there. But my memories of working at Disneyland are abundant and overall, most pleasant. I wouldn't trade my time there for anything.

After quitting Disneyland, I still continued to visit regularly until 1985 when I was transferred to the San Francisco Bay area. It was only then that I realized that I had taken my close proximity to Disneyland for granted. When it was no longer "just down the street," I missed it terribly. I would make yearly trips to Anaheim, but it just wasn't enough.

Then, a Disney Store (the third) opened in late '87 at the end of Pier 39 on San Francisco Bay. I was saved. I could get my Disney fix without driving eight hours to Anaheim. I made regular trips to this store and developed a rapport with a number of the cast members. It was also at this time that I started to collect Disney art and decorate my house with my purchases - tastefully, of course.


Pier 39 Disney Store


My first real collectable was an animation cel of Donald Duck. I spent $250 for something I could have bought for $3 in my youth. At first I restricted my Disney memorabilia to the family room. But as my collection continued to grow, items started to creep into adjoining rooms - first a bathroom and then a bedroom. But I steadfastly refused to let my living and dining rooms become Disneyfied.


Donald Duck Cel


It was during my time at the phone company that I gained the means to travel, and other Disney parks were high on my list of destinations. Thus far I have been to the Tokyo Disney Resort four times and the Disneyland Paris Resort and the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort twice each. And I'm currently saving my Frequent Flyer Miles for a trip to Shanghai.

When I took my early retirement from the phone company in 1999, I briefly thought about moving back to Southern California and Disneyland, but decided against this. A better choice would be Orlando and the flagship property, Walt Disney World. With this in mind, my next priority was to find a house no further than 30 minutes from the parks. Eventually I ended up in West Orlando next to the town of Windermere. I can now be in the parking lot of any of the parks within a half-hour. Cool.

When I was getting settled into my new house, it became obvious that I would need to relax my rule about no Disney artwork in the living and dining rooms. My collection had grown so great that I needed additional space. Now, every room in my house is designed with a Disney theme - tastefully, of course.

This next picture shows an upper wall in my family room. To the left are a number of animation cels. The main wall is covered with Haunted Mansion and Phantom Manor lithographs.


Art Collection


During my first years in Orlando, I visited Disney World five times a week. That didn't necessarily mean I went into a park everyday, but I was somewhere on property. Many times I'd drive to a resort just to have lunch or dinner. And of course, when you move to Orlando, all of your friends and relatives think this is cool because now they have a free place to stay while visiting Disney World - with a built-in expert tour guide.

In anticipation of my houseguests, I created the Mickey Mouse Suite. The bedroom and bath are all decorated in Mickey colors, black, red, yellow, and white.


Mickey Mouse Suite


One day, while surfing the internet, I came across this wonderful site called Allears. I was most impressed with what I saw and decided to attend a Meet-&-Greet that Deb Wills was holding with Bob Sehlinger, author of "The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World." After listening to them speak, I sought out Deb and introduced myself. She was most gracious and made me feel like a long lost friend.

A few months later, construction began on Saratoga Springs and I snapped a picture of the resort's signage. I sent it to Allears and to my amazement, Deb published it and thanked me for my efforts. As more time passed, I ran into Deb again and she suggested that I write a restaurant review. I was reluctant. I thought to myself, "Who would be interested in anything I had to say?" But after mulling it over, I sent her a review of the All Star Café located at Disney's Wide World of Sports - and to my amazement, she printed it in the weekly newsletter. Wow!

All Star Cafe


With one review under my belt, I decided to write another, then another. And Deb kept publishing them. Eventually, I became a full member of the team and joined the inner circle of Allears.

In an effort to keep the website as current as possible, Deb started the blog section. At first I was doubtful. I had read other blogs on other sites and was not impressed. Too many of them were negative and contained more myth than fact. But Deb assured me that this could work and persuaded me to give it a try. In the beginning, I was just a Guest blogger, but in no time at all I had my own column. Now I write a weekly column - and when Deb sends me on assignment, even more.


Business Card


I realize that I have a dream job. What could be better than visiting Disney World any day I like and writing about my experiences? Yes, my blogs require real work, they don't just happen. But I'll never complain. There's no other job I'd rather be doing.

I'm still not driving a monorail, but I doubt that piloting one of these trains could be nearly as fulfilling as the career I had with Disney and writing for Allears.



March 11, 2013

Great Movie Ride (Repeat)

Jack Spence Masthead


Today's repeat article will be "The Great Movie Ride." This blog originally ran on August 28, 2009. The piece is virtually unchanged from its original posting.



The Great Movie Ride has been entertaining guests for over twenty years, allowing us to do more than just see some of the classics, but to be immersed in and surrounded by them. Fifty-nine Audio-Animatronics figures, recreating some of Hollywood's biggest stars, come to life as we travel from one cinemagraphic genre to the next. For almost nineteen minutes, we're lost in a world of make believe and illusion.


The Great Movie Ride was originally planned as an Epcot attraction in Future World. It was to be a part of an entertainment pavilion and was to be located between the Journey Into Imagination and The Land Pavilions. When Michael Eisner joined the company in 1984 with a mandate to develop more of Disney's Florida property, he decided to build a third park. Expanding on Walt's original idea to give tours of the Burbank Studio, the concept for the Disney/MGM Studios was born with the Great Movie Ride as its centerpiece.

Here is a picture of The Great Movie Ride taken in October, 1989.


The Great Movie Ride - 1989


Unfortunately, this view no longer exists. To help kick off the "100 Years of Magic Celebration" Mickey's Sorcerer Hat was constructed in 2001 at the end of Hollywood Blvd. This next picture was taken from approximately the same spot as the above photo.


Sorcerer's Hat


I have nothing against this hat. In fact, I think it's attractive. And I understand why the Imagineers placed it at the end of Hollywood Blvd. They wanted to utilize the "draw" concept. This icon will help draw guests into the park. But I think it's a shame that it blocks the beautiful Chinese Theater and I wish they could have come up with a different idea.

The exterior of Disney's Chinese Theater is an exact copy of the one located in Hollywood at 6925 Hollywood Boulevard. However, due to wear and tear on the Hollywood structure, some of the external décor has been removed. Disney's version was built from vintage reference material and still displays these missing details.


Great Movie Ride Plaque


The original theater opened on May 18, 1927 and premiered Cecil B. DeMille's film "The King of Kings." (I have no idea why the above plaque says 1928. All of my research indicates that the theater opened in 1927.)

There are a number of stories as to how the tradition of actors placing their footprints in the cement came about. The most famous tells that Norma Talmadge accidentally stepped in wet cement outside of the theater, giving Sid Grauman, part owner of the theater, the idea. This tradition has been kept alive at the Florida counterpart as can be seen in these next pictures.


Footprints in Cement


If you're a regular reader of my blogs, I'm constantly telling you to slow down and notice the details. The exterior of this theater is no exception. The center section (main entrance) of the building is designed to resemble a giant Chinese pagoda.


Great Movie Ride Main Entrance


Flanking the entrance of the theater are two Chinese lions. These figures are often placed in front of gates or doorways as they were believed to have mystic and protective powers. Although the lions look like they're both male due to their bushy manes, one is female. Look closely at their paws. The male has a ball underneath his right paw and the female has a lion cub under her left. The ball represents unity of the empire and the cub symbolizes prospering offspring.


Chinese Lion - Male

Chinese Lion - Female


Above the door is another Chinese symbol, the dragon. And if you look carefully at the roof, there are a number of these creatures climbing about.


Entrance Dragon

Roof Dragon


The typical Chinese courtyard is traditionally a place of tranquility and privacy. In almost all cases some sort of water feature and garden will be incorporated into the design. The Chinese Theater's courtyard is no exception. This is a lovely place to wander and relax. Although difficult to see in the second picture, the large sculpture is a water feature.


Chinese Theater Courtyard

Courtyard Garden & Water Feature


You can find a bit of Disney history inside the two windows located to each side of the outer courtyard wall.


Chinese Theater Window


Both Mary Poppins (1964) and The Jungle Book (1967) premiered at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Photographs, programs, and tickets are on display in these windows.


Mary Poppins premieres at the Chinese Theater

Mary Poppins Tickes

Jungle Book premiers at the Chinese Theater

Jungle Book Tickets


There are more details worth note on the exterior of this building -- too many to list here. So next time you're heading for The Great Movie Ride, take a moment and look around.

Usually you enter The Great Movie Ride through the main entrance, but during busier times you may enter via a side door. When doing so, you walk through a lovely room featuring a panel-mural, vase, and intricate carpeting. All of the carpeting in the queue was custom made by a Japanese firm. Also, be sure to look at the ceiling. It is also stunning.


Lobby Art

Lobby Ceiling


Further on in the queue are three display cases. Two have temporary exhibits, but the carousel horse that Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews) rode in the movie is on permanent display. If the line is short, you won't pass by this treasure, but the queue is open in this area so feel free to step out of line for a look-see.


Mary Poppins Carousel Horse


The next portion of the queue is housed in what would be the seating area of a real theater. Here, previews of eight movies are shown. These include Alien (1979), Casablanca (1942), Fantasia (1940), Footlight Parade, (1933), Mary Poppins (1964), The Public Enemy (1931), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), The Searchers (1956) and Singin' in the Rain (1952). It takes a little over nine minutes to see all of the clips.

All of these movies are recreated in The Great Movie Ride with the exception of The Searchers. Although John Wayne can be seen in the attraction, this section of the show was designed to represent films of the Western genre rather than one specific movie.

For those of you who have never ridden on this attraction, you will experience one of two different scenarios during your journey through the movies. You can either receive the gangster treatment or the western adventure. In the morning, before the crowds materialize, only the gangster treatment is used. Usually by 10am, both scenarios are available. The front two vehicles will see the western bank robbery while the last two will experience the gangster shootout. If it's important to you to see one or the other, just ask a cast member when you reach the turnstiles. The same holds true if you'd like to sit on one side or the other or request the front seat. However, you might have to wait for the next show sequence to begin in order to have your request granted.

The diorama behind the loading area is a composite of elements found in the Hollywood Hills of the 1920's to the 1940's. The Griffith Observatory and the Hollywoodland sign can both be seen.


Hollywood Hils Diorama

Hollywood Hills Diorama


The actual Hollywoodland sign was built in 1923 atop Mt. Lee as a promotional gimmick for a new housing development in the area. The sign soon became an icon and was used in many publicity photos and movies. By 1949, the sign was deteriorating badly. To its rescue came the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. They restored the sign, but in a desire to more accurately portray their city, they left off the "land" portion so it only read "Hollywood." Over the years the sign received several more restorations, but eventually it reached a point of no return. So once again the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce came to the sign's rescue, but this time rebuilt it from the ground up. In a nationally televised program, the new sign was unveiled on November 14, 1978.

The Great Movie Ride does not display an obvious track. The vehicles are guided by wires imbedded in the flooring. The steering wheels on the vehicles are not functional while in normal operation. However, they can be engaged for maintenance purposes.


Ride Vehicle Steering Wheel


Listed below are some bits of trivia contained within the attraction. I've only listed a sampling here. Believe me, there are many more.

When loading and unloading the ride vehicles, the "house lights" are on. But as the ride begins, you can hear a director yell out, "Quiet on the set." At this point, the house lights dim and stage lights come on. In addition, the lights within the various buildings on the diorama begin to illuminate. In other words, filming is about to begin.

The Busby Berkeley girls in the first scene sit upon several tiered turntables. When the attraction first opened, the different levels rotated in opposite directions. Due to continual maintenance problems, this area was redesigned and now the girls stand stationary. It's a shame a better solution couldn't be found as I feel this is the weakest set on the attraction.

When first entering Gangster Alley, look to the right of the hotel. You can see movement behind the curtains on the second floor.

Further on, Mickey Mouse's feet can be seen underneath a peeling poster.

The two Audio-Animatronics gangsters are named Squid and Beans. The live gangsters are named Mugsy (male) or Mugsi (female).

The license plate on the gangsters' car reads "021429." The St. Valentine's Day Massacre took place on this date, February 14, 1929.


Gangster Car License Plate


The horse that John Wayne sits on does not represent a particular horse from his movies. It's intended to represent a composite of his film steeds.

Across from John Wayne, there is a sign on the wall with the name Ransom Stoddard Attorney. In the movie "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" starring John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart, Mr. Stewart played the part of Ransom Stoddard.

The Audio-Animatronics bank robber's name is Snake. The live bank robber is named Kate Durango (female) or Kid Carson (male).

After the bank is blown up, you can see smoke escaping from between the timbers of the barn.

Behind the Egyptian god Horus, a hieroglyphic Mickey and Donald can be found.


Mickey/Donald Hieroglyph


Contrary to some rumors, no real skeletons are used in this attraction.

Contrary to another persistent rumor, the Lockheed Electra 12A airplane seen in the Casablanca sequence was not the same plane used in the actual movie. However, the back half of this Great Movie Ride plane was removed and can be seen in the Jungle Cruise at the Magic Kingdom.

In the Fantasia section of the attraction we're told that the sorcerer (unseen on the ride) is named Yensid. This is Disney spelled backwards. Adding to this bit of trivia, Disneyland's steam trains and monorails were originally owned by the Disney family under the company name of Retlaw, Walter spelled backwards.

Due to legal restrictions, Disney cannot provide a list of the movies shown in the final sequence of the attraction. However, one movie is mentioned by name, "Good Morning, Vietnam."

I haven't included any "show" pictures of The Great Movie Ride. Instead, I've created an abbreviated video of the experience. I hope you enjoy it.



March 18, 2013

Where Does the Music Come From? (Repeat)

Jack Spence Masthead


Today's article was first posted on August 17, 2009. This was a fun blog to research and was well received.

If all goes well, next week's blog will be an original. Thank you for your patience as I get settled into my temporary quarters.



Most people pay very little attention to the music being played in the background while visiting a Disney theme park. Our eyes are much too busy taking in all of the sights to consciously pay any attention to the melodies filling the air. The songs are simply there. But if the music wasn't surrounding us at every turn, we'd notice. Our stroll down Main Street would seem flat and wanting.

Disney puts a lot of thought into the music they select for each land or area of their parks. First, it has to be appropriate. Obviously, they're not going to play German music at the Japan Pavilion in Epcot. But you will find 1930's and 40's big band music on Sunset Blvd. at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Next, the music is usually somewhat upbeat. Disney wants their guests to be happy and a jaunty melody can affect our mood. I'm not saying that every tune played is a toe-tapper, but you won't find many dirges, either.

Disney also wants the music to be recognizable when possible. If we can hum along with a tune, we'll feel at home and comfortable.

But have you ever paid any attention as to where this music comes from? I mean, when you walk through a Disney park, the tunes are just there, as if by magic. The sounds don't come from any one direction, they surround you.

In this article, I'm going to show you how this magic happens. In reality, I'm not going to provide you with any information you couldn't garner for yourself if you were so inclined. In this blog I'll cover the Magic Kingdom and leave the other parks to your own discoveries.

Let's start with Main Street. The most commonly used technique along this thoroughfare is to hide speakers behind vents. Since many structures have openings to allow for air circulation, this is the perfect spot to place a speaker.


Main Street Speaker

Main Street Speaker

Main Street Speaker

Main Street Speaker

Main Street Speaker

Main Street Speaker


Another common practice is to design the speaker into the structure.


Main Street Speaker

Main Street Speaker

Main Street Speaker

Main Street Speaker


Out on The Hub we see the vent method used again as well as hiding a speaker in a lamp pole.


Hub Speakers

Hub Speakers

Hub Speakers

Hub Speakers


Many of the melodies played on Main Street are old standards that hearken back to a simpler time. A number of these songs, like "In the Hills of Old Kentucky" and "Kentucky Home" are performed by the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra and are available for sale on Amazon. Disney's 1963 movie "Summer Magic" and his 1967 film "The Happiest Millionaire" both provide music for Main Street. The stories in both of these movies took place around the turn of the 19th to the 20th century so the theming is correct. The same can be said for the three Broadway musicals represented. Oklahoma, The Music Man, and Hello Dolly were all set in this same era.

Tomorrowland doesn't bother with trying to hide their speakers. Here the Imagineers placed them in plain site. They just disguised them to look like futuristic objects. See for yourself.


Tomorrowland Speakers

Tomorrowland Speakers

Tomorrowland Speakers

Tomorrowland Speakers

Tomorrowland Speakers

Tomorrowland Speakers

Tomorrowland Speakers

Tomorrowland Speakers

Tomorrowland Speakers

Tomorrowland Speakers


The music of Tomorrowland was performed with the use of synthesizers. Very few (if any) "traditional" instruments were used in the making of these recordings. The music also has a strong beat to emphasize energy. A sharp ear can make out "Strange Things" from the Disney/Pixar 1995 movie Toy Story. "A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" and "Now is the Time," both from the Carousel of Progress, can also be heard. And for you old timers, "If You Had Wings" is also played.

I have to say, I was disappointed with the speakers in Mickey's Toontown Fair. All of them that I could find were out in the open. Many times, outdoor speakers are hidden beneath bushes, but not here. The Imagineers didn't even bother. Take a look.


Toontown Speakers

Toontown Speakers


Most of the songs played in Mickey's Toontown Fair are from the cartoons Disney produced during the '30's to the '50's. "Minnie's Yoo Hoo," "The Country Cousin," and "The Three Little Pigs" are just a few of the selections in store for you here.

In Fantasyland the Imagineers did a fine job of hiding the speakers.


Fantasyland Speakers

Fantasyland Speaker

Fantasyland Speakers

Fantasyland Speakers

Fantasyland Speakers

Fantasyland Speakers


As you might expect, the music played in Fantasyland is from the many animated movies Disney produced over the years. These are the songs that we all know by heart and we could probably even sing the words. However, near Pinocchio Village Haus the music has a different theme and is Bavarian in nature.

Many of the speakers in Liberty Square are hidden in vents (like Main Street) so I didn't take many pictures in this area. However, I do like the bird house disguise.


Liberty Square Speakers

Liberty Square Speakers

Liberty Square Speakers

Liberty Square Speakers


The music in Liberty Square is patriotic and homespun. Violins, the fife, and the dulcimer are the instruments of choice for most of these renditions. A Disney connection is also present. The song "The Sons of Liberty" from the 1957 movie Johnny Tremain is played.

This quiet music was replaced several years ago with lively marches. Sigh.

Where Main Street uses vents to hide speakers, Frontierland uses boxes. On many of the balconies and porch tops, rustic crates that blend into their surroundings can be seen.


Frontierland Speakers

Frontierland Speakers


A variation on the box theme is the barrel.


Frontierland Speakers

Frontierland Speakers


And on Splash Mountain speakers are encased in make-believe rocks.


Frontierland Speakers

Frontierland Speakers


"Oh My Darling Clementine," "Home on the Range," and "Happy Trails," among a dozen other western favorites, are all on tap. Fiddles, banjos, guitars, and harmonicas make up the orchestra in Frontierland. The Disney song heard in this area is "Davy Crockett" from the 1950's TV series.

Last, but not least we come to Adventureland. Next to the entrance sign is a drum. But upon closer examination we find that it's actually a piece of metal normally used as a vent or filter. Its multiple holes allow sound to pass right through.


Adventureland Speakers

Adventureland Speakers


On a balcony we find a lovely wicker planter. Once again, this "open" material provides the perfect place to hide a speaker. Music can easily flow through its openings.


Adventureland Speakers

Adventureland Speakers


This final picture is of the Pirate's Stage near Pirates of the Caribbean. In this case a speaker is hidden in a birdcage.


Adventureland Speakers

Adventureland Speakers


When entering Adventureland, much of the music heard is played on the marimba with a tribal African beat. In many ways, it sounds similar to the music heard in the Animal Kingdom.

As you move further into Adventureland the music takes on a Middle Eastern theme.

And finally, the music from the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies can be heard in Caribbean Plaza.

I didn't want to take away all of your fun, so I've only covered the Magic Kingdom in this blog. I'll let you discover your own musical moments in the other parks. But before I go, I'd like to share one of my favorite bits of Disney trivia.

In the attraction "it's a small world" we all know that there are two counter melodies that play against each other. But in reality, there is a third melody heard on this ride. As you pass the Switzerland section, a young boy, perched high and to the right, yodels this other tune. But there's more to the story. Let's travel to Blizzard Beach. Among the many songs played here is this same young boy yodeling the third part to "it's a small world."



March 25, 2013

Quiz - The People of Disney - Questions

Jack Spence Masthead


I'm back!

I'm all settled into my apartment and now waiting for construction to begin on my new house.

Today's quiz is all about the people of the Disney Corporation. I know some of these questions are difficult, but the real reason for these quizzes is to entertain and educate, not test you. So have a good time and best of luck.



1. Walt's brother, Roy O. Disney, served as the Disney Company's CEO from 1929 until his death in 1971. Who replaced him in this role?

A. Donn Tatum
B. E. Cardon Walker
C. Ron Miller
D. Michael Eisner
E. None of the above



2. What does the "O" stand for in Roy O. Disney's name?

A. Orville
B. Orlando
C. Oliver
D. Oscar
E. None of the above



3. What does the "E" stand for in Roy E. Disney's name (Roy O's son)?

A. Edward
B. Earl
C. Elliot
D. Eric
E. None of the above



4. Who voices the Ghost Host in the Haunted Mansion?

A. Thurl Ravenscroft
B. Paul Frees
C. Mel Blanc
D. James MacDonald
E. None of the above



5. What architect designed the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles?

A. Michael Graves
B. I. M. Pei
C. Frank Owen Gehry
D. Robert A. M. Stern
E. None of the above



6. What Imagineer is credited with coming up with the idea of creating an attraction based on the characters from "Song of the South" which turned into "Splash Mountain?

A. John Hench
B. Marty Sklar
C. Xavier "X" Atencio
D. Tony Baxter
E. None of the above



7. Where was Walt Disney born?

A. Marceline, Missouri
B. Chicago, Illinois
C. Kansas City, Missouri
D. Huron County, Ontario
E. None of the above



8. Walt met his future wife, Lillian Marie Bounds, working in what department of his studio?

A. Storyboard Department
B. Background Department
C. Inbetweener Department
D. Ink & Paint Department
E. None of the above



9. Who brought Walt's concepts for Mickey Mouse to life after he lost the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit?

A. Ub Iwerks
B. Ward Kimball
C. Ollie Johnston
D. Frank Thomas
E. None of the above



10. Ron Miller was the president of the Disney Company from 1980 to 1984 and CEO from 1983 to 1984. What relation was Ron to Walt?

A. Son-in-law
B. Brother-in-law
C. Nephew
D. Cousin
E. No relation to Walt



11, What Imagineer sparked Walt's interest in model railroading?

A. John Hench
B. Rolly Crump
C. Ward Kimball
D. Bob Gurr
E. None of the above



12. Three celebrities hosted the opening of Disneyland which was broadcast on ABC Television. Which was NOT one of these people?

A. Bob Cummings
B. Art Linkletter
C. Danny Thomas
D. Ronald Reagan



13. We all know that Walt's father's name was Elias. What was Walt's mother's name?

A. Flossie
B. Fanny
C. Francine
D. Flora
E. None of the above



14. Who is the current president of the Walt Disney World Resort?

A. Meg Crofton
B. George Kalogridis
C. Tom Skaggs
D. Bob Iger
E. None of the above



15. Who is the current president of the Disneyland Resort?

A. Dan Cockerell
B. Michael Colglazier
C. Bruce Vaughn
D. Mary Niven
E. None of the above



16. What is NOT a name of the ferry boats that carry guests from the TTC to the Magic Kingdom?

A. General Joe Potter
B. Ron Dominguez
C. Admiral Joe Fowler
D. Richard F. Irvine



17. Who was responsible for the overall design and color scheme for "it's a small world"?

A. Mary Blair
B. Alice Davis
C. Mark Davis
D. Herb Ryman
E. None of the above



18. Who wrote the music for "Pirates of the Caribbean" (Yo Ho "A Pirate's Life for Me")?

A. The Sherman Brothers
B. Buddy Baker
C. Walt Disney
D. George Bruns and Xavier Atencio
E. None of the above



19. Michael Eisner came to Disney in 1984. Who was his second-in-command and right-hand-man?

A. Jeffrey Katzenberg
B. Michael Ovitz
C. Frank Wells
D. Bob Iger
E. None of the above



20. How old was Walt Disney when he died?

A. 66
B. 67
C. 68
D. 69
E. None of the above



March 26, 2013

Quiz - The People of Disney - Answers

Jack Spence Masthead


Here are the answers to yesterday's quiz. I hope you got them all correct.



1. Walt's brother, Roy O. Disney, served as the Disney Company's CEO from 1929 until his death in 1971. Who replaced him in this role?

A. Donn Tatum
B. E. Cardon Walker
C. Ron Miller
D. Michael Eisner
E. None of the above

Answer: A. Donn Tatum

Donn Tatum joined the Disney organization in 1956 and worked his way up the ranks. In 1971, he became chief executive and board chairman following the death of Roy O. Disney. He was the first non-Disney family member to head the company. Tatum served as CEO until November 1976 and as chairman until 1980, when he handed the company over to Card Walker.


Donn Tatum



2. What does the "O" stand for in Roy O. Disney's name?

A. Orville
B. Orlando
C. Oliver
D. Oscar
E. None of the above

Answer: C. Oliver

Oliver was Roy's middle name. He lived from June 24, 1893 to December 20, 1971, and married Edna Francis in April 1925. They had one son, Roy E. Disney. Roy O. is responsible for continuing Walt's dream by building Walt Disney World.


Roy O. Disney



3. What does the "E" stand for in Roy E. Disney's name (Roy O's son)?

A. Edward
B. Earl
C. Elliot
D. Eric
E. None of the above

Answer: A. Edward

Edward was Roy's middle name. He lived from January 10, 1930 to December 16, 2009. Roy is credited with "saving" the Disney Company twice. Once in the late 70's with the ouster of Card Walker and Ron Miller and again in the early 00's with a campaign to remove Michael Eisner.


Roy E. Disney



4. Who voices the Ghost Host in the Haunted Mansion?

A. Thurl Ravenscroft
B. Paul Frees
C. Mel Blanc
D. James MacDonald
E. None of the above

Answer: B. Paul Frees

Paul Frees was a prolific voice actor and provided his vocal talents to Disney characters and attractions. He lent his voice to Professor Ludwig von Drake, the auctioneer in "Pirates of the Caribbean," and the narrator for "Adventures thru Inner Space."


Paul Frees



5. What architect designed the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles?

A. Michael Graves
B. I. M. Pei
C. Frank Owen Gehry
D. Robert A. M. Stern
E. None of the above

Answer: C. Frank Owen Gehry

Frank Owen Gehry designed the 2,265 seat auditorium which acts as the fourth hall of the Los Angeles Music Center. Lillian Disney, Walt's wife, made the initial donation of $50 million in 1987 to get the project started. The building is praised for its unique design and outstanding acoustics. The Walt Disney Concert Hall is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. If you ever find yourself in Los Angeles, tours of the hall are available during the day.


Walt Disney Concert Hall

Frank Owen Gehry



6. What Imagineer is credited with coming up with the idea of creating an attraction based on the characters from "Song of the South" which turned into "Splash Mountain?

A. John Hench
B. Marty Sklar
C. Xavier "X" Atencio
D. Tony Baxter
E. None of the above

Answer: D. Tony Baxter

As the legend goes, Tony Baxter was stuck in traffic on his way to work. During this time he was contemplating "fixes" for two problems at Disneyland. First, how to draw guests into the often empty Bear Country. And second, repurpose the AudioAnimatronics found in the sparsely attended America Sings. It was then that he had the idea of redesigning the AA characters from America Sings into characters from the movie "Song of the South" and combining them with a log flume ride in Bear Country. Splash Mountain officially opened at Disneyland on July 17, 1989, at Tokyo Disneyland on October 1, 1992, and at the Magic Kingdom one day later on October 2, 1992.


Tony Baxter



7. Where was Walt Disney born?

A. Marceline, Missouri
B. Chicago, Illinois
C. Kansas City, Missouri
D. Huron County, Ontario
E. None of the above

Answer: B. Chicago, Illinois

Although Walt considered Marceline, Missouri his "home town,' he was actually born in the Hermosa community of Chicago on December 5, 1901.


Walt Disney



8. Walt met his future wife, Lillian Marie Bounds, working in what department of his studio?

A. Storyboard Department
B. Background Department
C. Inbetweener Department
D. Ink & Paint Department
E. None of the above

Answer: D. Ink & Paint Department

Walt met Lillian while she was working as a secretary in the Ink & Paint Department. She felt a since of pride when Walt drove her and other young women home from work, always making her house the last stop of the evening. Walt and Lillian were married in 1925 in Idaho at Lewiston's Episcopal Church of the Nativity.


Walt met Lillian Disney



9. Who brought Walt's concepts for Mickey Mouse to life after he lost the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit?

A. Ub Iwerks
B. Ward Kimball
C. Ollie Johnston
D. Frank Thomas
E. None of the above

Answer: A. Ub Iwerks

We often hear the story that Walt created Mickey Mouse while returning home from New York by train after losing the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. However, this story is somewhat misleading and makes it sound as if Walt was solely responsible for the creation of this now-famous character. In fact, it was Ub Iwerks who actually came up with the idea of a mouse.

As a child, Walt had a pet mouse while living on the farm. In 1925, artist Hugh Harman heard this story and drew some sketches of mice around a photograph of Walt Disney. In the spring of 1928, Walt asked Ub to start drawing up new characters to replace Oswald. Ub created many new personas, but none appealed to Walt. Searching for ideas, Ub stumbled upon the Harman drawing of Walt surrounded by mice and the idea for Mortimer (now Mickey) came to life.


Ub Iwerks



10. Ron Miller was the president of the Disney Company from 1980 to 1984 and CEO from 1983 to 1984. What relation was Ron to Walt?

A. Son-in-law
B. Brother-in-law
C. Nephew
D. Cousin
E. No relation to Walt

Answer: A. Son-in-law

Miller played football at the University of Southern California and later played professionally for the Los Angeles Rams. He met Walt's older daughter Diane Disney on a blind date and they were married on May 9, 1954.


Ron Miller



11, What Imagineer sparked Walt's interest in model railroading?

A. John Hench
B. Rolly Crump
C. Ward Kimball
D. Bob Gurr
E. None of the above

Answer: C. Ward Kimball

From his earliest memories, Ward Kimball had a passion for trains. In 1938, he and his wife Betty purchased a full-sized 1881 narrow-gauge Baldwin steam locomotive from the Nevada Central Railroad and spent a number of years restoring it to its former glory. He ran his prize in his own backyard.

In 1945, Ward was hosting a "steam-up" party for the local Live Steamers Club and invited his boss, Walt Disney, to be the guest engineer for the event. Ward recounts that he never saw Walt smile more broadly than the moment when he pulled the throttle and the engine emerged from the roundhouse.


Ward Kimball



12. Three celebrities hosted the opening of Disneyland which was broadcast on ABC Television. Which was NOT one of these people?

A. Bob Cummings
B. Art Linkletter
C. Danny Thomas
D. Ronald Reagan

Answer: C. Danny Thomas

Although Danny Thomas was one of the invited guests to the event, he was not one of the hosts. Walt was personal friends with Cummings, Linkletter, and Reagan and asked them to host his grand opening of Disneyland on July 17, 1955.


Bob Cummings, Art Linkletter, and Ronald Reagan



13. We all know that Walt's father's name was Elias. What was Walt's mother's name?

A. Flossie
B. Fanny
C. Francine
D. Flora
E. None of the above

Answer: D. Flora

Walt's mom was Flora Call Disney and was of German and English descent. She lived from April 22, 1868 to November 6, 1938. The cause of her death is a rather heart wrenching tale.

After the success of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," Walt and Roy bought their parents a new home in North Hollywood. Shortly after moving in, Flora complained of gas fumes coming from the furnace. Walt dispatched a studio repairman to fix the problem; however, the leak was not adequately repaired. A few days later, Flora died of asphyxiation from the fumes at the age of 70. Guilt over this incident would plague Walt and Roy for the rest of their lives.


Elias and Flora Disney



14. Who is the current president of the Walt Disney World Resort?

A. Meg Crofton
B. George Kalogridis
C. Tom Skaggs
D. Bob Iger
E. None of the above

Answer: B. George Kalogridis

George Kalogridis became president of the Walt Disney World Resort on January 9th of this year. Prior to this appointment, he was president of the Disneyland Resort for four years. Kalogridis first started working for Disney while he was in college. He bused tables at the Contemporary Resort when the Walt Disney World first opened in 1971.


George Kalogridis



15. Who is the current president of the Disneyland Resort?

A. Dan Cockerell
B. Michael Colglazier
C. Bruce Vaughn
D. Mary Niven
E. None of the above

Answer: B. Michael Colglazier

Michael Colglazier replaced George Kalogridis as president of the Disneyland Resort on January 9th of this year. Before moving to Anaheim, he was the president of Disney's Animal Kingdom at WDW. Colglazier began his Disney career in 1989 as a corporate analyst.


Michael Colglazier



16. What is NOT a name of the ferry boats that carry guests from the TTC to the Magic Kingdom?

A. General Joe Potter
B. Ron Dominguez
C. Admiral Joe Fowler
D. Richard F. Irvine

Answer: B. Ron Dominguez

Ron Dominguez is a former vice-president of Walt Disney Attractions, but no boat is named after him.


Ron Dominguez


Walt met Retired Army Maj. Gen. William E. 'Joe' Potter at the New York World's Fair where he was working as executive vice president of the event. Walt hired him a year later to help build his new theme park in Orlando. Potter masterminded much of the behind-the-scenes projects such as canals and underground utilities that were considered revolutionary in the '60s and '70s.


Army Maj. Gen. William E. 'Joe' Potter


In 1954, Walt was looking for someone with naval experience to oversee the building of the paddle steamer, Mark Twain. He found retired Admiral Joe Fowler supervising the construction of tract homes in Southern California. Walt was so taken with Fowler that he was hired as construction boss for the entire Disneyland project.


Admiral Joe Fowler


Richard Irvine was an Academy Award winning art director who was hired by Walt in the early 1950 to help design and build Disneyland. In later years he headed design and planning for both the Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion.


Richard Irvine



17. Who was responsible for the overall design and color scheme for "it's a small world"?

A. Mary Blair
B. Alice Davis
C. Mark Davis
D. Herb Ryman
E. None of the above

Answer: A. Mary Blair

Although Alice Davis designed the costumes and Mark Davis designed the scenes and characters, it was art director Mary Blair who created the overall look and feel of the attraction. Mary also designed the tile work that covers the elevators shafts in the Contemporary Resort.


Mary Blair



18. Who wrote the music for "Pirates of the Caribbean" (Yo Ho "A Pirate's Life for Me")?

A. The Sherman Brothers
B. Buddy Baker
C. Walt Disney
D. George Bruns and Xavier Atencio
E. None of the above

Answer: D. George Bruns and Xavier Atencio

Yo Ho "A Pirate's Life for Me" is loosely based on Robert Louis Stevenson's sea-shanty "Dead Man's Chest." It was written by George Bruns (music) and Xavier Atencio (lyrics). Bruns was a prolific composer for Disney and Atencio was an Imagineer who also worked on the Haunted Mansion.


George Bruns

Xavier Atencio



19. Michael Eisner came to Disney in 1984. Who was his second-in-command and right-hand-man?

A. Jeffrey Katzenberg
B. Michael Ovitz
C. Frank Wells
D. Bob Iger
E. None of the above

Answer: C. Frank Wells

Many said that Eisner and Wells functioned like Walt and Roy - Eisner offered imagination and Wells found creative ways to pay for Eisner's ideas. Unfortunately, Wells died in a helicopter crash while returning from vacation in Nevada in 1994.


Frank Wells



How old was Walt Disney when he died?

A. 66
B. 67
C. 68
D. 69
E. None of the above

Answer: E. None of the above

Walt was 65 when he died. He was born on December 5, 1901 and died on December 15, 1966. Walt was a chain smoker his entire life. While undergoing surgery to repair an old polo neck injury, a malignant tumor was discovered in his left lung. The lung was removed and Walt began cobalt therapy. The doctors gave him 6 months to 2 years to live. On November 30th he collapsed at his home and was rushed to the hospital. He died ten days after his 65th birthday - much too young.


Walt Disney



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About March 2013

This page contains all entries posted to The “World” According to Jack in March 2013. They are listed from oldest to newest.

February 2013 is the previous archive.

April 2013 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.