Saturday, July 27, 2013

Because Paul C. said to do this...

This post is Molly and Paul's fault. Paul posted a link to an article about 16 unusual Walt Disney World facts on Facebook. However, the facts were (mostly) just flat-out wrong. Then Molly said that I could come up with 16 better ones. So, now I'm under pressure to come up with 16 facts that are both true and entertaining. So here goes...

1. That the buildings on Main Street, USA are built using forced perspective is pretty common knowledge. If you DON'T know this, what it means is that the first story of each building is of "regular" size. The second story is shorter than normal and the third is shorter still. This means that the buildings look much taller than they actually are. (This is also true of Cinderella Castle). Less known is that Main Street ITSELF is created with forced perspective. By making the street wider at the Town Square end and narrower at the castle end, it makes the walk up to the castle LOOK much longer. Conversely, when you're leaving at night and have tired feet, it looks like your walk is much shorter. This feeling is exacerbated by the fact that approaching the castle Main Street is on a very slight incline--so you're walking up a hill when you enter and down when you leave.

2. I like Main Street trivia so here's another one. The windows on Main Street are filled with names. Most people know that these names are people who are in some way important to the Walt Disney Company and especially to Walt Disney World. The "business" with which their name is paired is often a further nod to either the contribution they've made or to some personal interest they have or had. (My favorite is that of former Disney President, the late Frank Wells which is for Seven Summit Expeditions, a nod to his desire to scale the highest peak on each of the seven continents.) But there's a deeper meaning to the windows. The Magic Kingdom is a show. Main Street is like the opening credits. The train station, which hides everything behind it, it like a curtain. The windows are the credits. The last window you pass (and the only one that faces the castle) is Walter Elias Disney. Just like in a movie, the last credit at the beginning and the first one at the end is the director. This is also represented by the statue of Roy Disney (the "producer")in Town Square and Walt Disney (the "director") in the Hub.

3. Aaaaaaand another Main Street fact. The sidewalks on Main Street are a deep pinkish-red. There are two reasons for that. The first is relates back to the idea of a show: the sidewalks represent a red carpet. The second is that the Disney Imagineers and Kodak worked long and hard to discover an EXACT shade of red paint that, in pictures, makes the Florida sky look exceptionally blue on a sunny day.

4. Two of the monorail loop resorts are connected with moments in history that are, if not historically significant, then at the least, historically interesting. President Richard Nixon made the his famous "I am not a crook." statement to reporters while in the ballroom of the Contemporary Resort. Meanwhile, in a room at the Polynesian Resort, John Lennon received the voluminous legal paperwork necessary to officially dissolve The Beatles and signed it in his suite, thus ending The Beatles at the Polynesian.

5. The outlying buildings which contain the guest rooms at the Polynesian Resort are called longhouses, inspired by the similarly named dwellings in the South Pacific islands which thematically inspired the resort. The longhouses are named for South Pacific islands. In the late 1990s the buildings were renamed so that the way they are geographically laid out in the resort mirrors the way they are ACTUALLY laid out geographically in the South Pacific.

6. If you stayed in a different room at a Disney resort every night, you would be able to stay in every room currently on Walt Disney World about 60 years.

7. When you are in Liberty Square, the architecture is indicative of the East Coast--the Hudson River Valley for the Haunted Mansion, a New England fishing village for Columbia Harbour House and colonial Philadelphia for the area around the Hall of Presidents. As you walk further and enter Frontierland it's like you are traveling deeper into the American West. The Diamond Horseshoe building is based on the architecture of St. Louis, MO during the heyday of its time as the jumping off point for thousands of American pioneers. The next set of buildings become more rustic--log buildings with wide plank floors--and finally Pecos Bill's Cafe is an adobe building representing the Spanish influence of the American Southwest with the buttes and mesas in Big Thunder Mountain Railroad being the silver mining boomtowns.

8. Almost of the buildings and streets in the Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard areas of Disney's Hollywood Studios are based on real locations in and around Hollywood. Of course, geography and size have been fudged a little bit, but it's meant to evoke Hollywood, CA at a very specific point in time--1947.

9. At Disney's Animal Kingdom, the restrooms all have very large, reinforced outer doors with bolted locks. That's because in the EXTREMELY unlikely event that an animal escaped from one of the habitats, there's enough space in the bathrooms, theaters and restaurants for a capacity crowd at the park to be safely behind closed and locked doors.

10. The American Adventure building in World Showcase at Epcot is situated directly across from where you enter World Showcase, on the other side of the World Showcase Lagoon. Colonial buildings, like the those on which the American Adventure is based (it's not a specific one, but an homage to several buildings), were small, generally not more than two stories tall. A two-story building would be very insignificant from a long distance and almost completely hidden by the America Garden Theater. It would also be too small to accommodate the enormous theater where the animatronics are lowered from the stage and then moved on tracks and stored UNDER house of the theater while the other "actors" are performing AND which houses the largest rear-projection screen in the world. The Disney Imagineers employed REVERSE forced perspective on the American pavilion. It's actually five stories tall, but it only LOOKS two stories tall. It's built from more than 100,000 handcrafted Georgia red clay bricks.

11. Walt Disney World is the largest single site employer in the world, employing almost 70,000 cast members.

12. Disney horticulturists (of which there are more than 750) maintain a tree farm so that if a tree which is "onstage"--that's Disney for in a guest area--is damaged or sick, they can replace it with one that is almost an exact duplicate. They do this overnight. They can also completely change out the onstage flower beds, etc. This means that you can go on Monday and the Mickey floral is one set of colors and then go on Tuesday and it's completely different.

13. Since the day it opened on October 1, 1971, Walt Disney World's maingate parks have been completely closed--as in never opened at all--a total of three times. There had been days when the parks closed early due to weather (read that as a hurricane) and in 2002 there was a day when Epcot never opened because there was a power outage caused by a transformer fire overnight (although all the other three parks opened.) That said, in 1999, during Hurricane Floyd, for the first time in its 28 years of operation, the Disney theme parks ceased operations for a day. WDW also closed completely (although, obviously, resort guests weren't ousted into the storm) twice in a period of three weeks when Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne made almost identical landfalls causing significant damage in the Orlando area. On September 11, 2001, the Disney parks had already opened their gates--for a regular 9 a.m. rope drop, the turnstiles usually open at 8:30--when the first plane hit in New York. The public address system in Walt Disney World is the stuff of legends. It is almost NEVER used. That morning at 11 a.m. an announcement came over the public address system stating, "Due to circumstances beyond our control, all Disney parks are now closed." At that point Cast Members ushered all guests out of all shops and attractions and custodial Cast Members cleared and closed the restrooms. With all guests in the streets, Cast Members joined hands, forming human chains backed by Disney security and slowly walked to the front of the park herding the guests out in front of them. It took thirty minutes for all four parks to be completely cleared.

14. The only Disney theme park that has two gated entrances is Epcot. Most people use the main entrance at the front of Future World, but there is a second, much smaller set of turnstiles in World Showcase, between France and the United Kingdom. Boat transportation to Disney's Boardwalk Resort and Villas, the Yacht and Beach Clubs, the Swan and Dolphin (and eventually Disney's Hollywood Studios), as well as a walkway to and from the Boardwalk Resort are available.

15. The Streetmosphere performers at Walt Disney World are actors, particularly at the Magic Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios, who interact with guests while remaining completely in character as various persons who are either Citizens of Main Street or Citizens of Hollywood. The Citizens of Hollywood have been around longer and, in fact have been a part of the experience in the park since it opened as Disney-MGM Studios in 1989. Kathryn Joosten, who is probably most known for playing President Jed Bartlet's secretary, Mrs. Landingham on The West Wing, was a later-in-life-getting-started actress. Her first acting job outside of community theater was as a Streetmosphere performer at the Studios when she was in her 50s.

16. Anything taller than 200 feet tall must, according to FAA regulations, display a blinking red light at it's highest point to alert low flying small aircraft. (There is, additionally, a no-fly zone that extends 3000 feet above and in a 3 mile radius from Cinderella Castle). Because Disney feels that a blinking light on top of the attractions would detract from the show, none of the attractions at WDW are taller than 199 feet--Tower of Terror and Expedition Everest are each 199 feet tall, the Castle is 189, Spaceship Earth is 180.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sometimes, the 'Come to Jesus' you need to have is with yourself...

Since I am definitely (Disney-measured and confirmed) petite(ish), I can vouch for two facts. The first is that at my height--which is about 5'3 1/2"--every seven pounds of weight is equal to an entire clothing size. The second is that because of the first fact, I, like many ladies of shorter stature, have learned to dress so that no one can tell that I've changed an entire clothing size.

Or in the current case, TWO clothing sizes.

I think that it all started back in the fall. From last October until the first of May, I was constantly in rehearsal or production of a show. And sometimes the shows were overlapping. At the pinnacle I was juggling three shows--I was in production of the first while in rehearsal for two more which ran back to back over four consecutive weeks starting less than three weeks after the first one closed. And then I went to Walt Disney World for a week. If you've ever done theater then you know that while there is a good deal of working hard, there is also a greater deal of drinking, partying and eating weird things at weird times. And that's pretty much the definition of Walt Disney World--especially when you're on one of the meal plans where you feel like you're working under a theory of "Eat Everything That Doesn't Eat You First."

And that's not all. I have spent the a good portion of the last two years--starting in March of 2011--working twice a week with a trainer at the gym. And it just so happened that he was in grad school and started his student teaching in January and while I am REALLY glad for him, that meant that any motivation that I had to do...well, ANYTHING went right the hell out the window.

And here's the thing...between the shows and the trip and the new puppy I didn't realize that I was getting, shall we say, fluffier until we hit high summer. And I was trying to figure out why every single time I was getting ready in the morning, I was turning my entire bedroom into a federal disaster area. That is, if piles of discarded garments count as a federal disaster area. Which they should. You see, I was grabbing things that I LOVE to wear and then discovering that the pants were uncomfortably tight or that the shirt was gapping at the buttons and that outfit was going into a pile on the chair in the corner and staying there until after a couple of days I spent the half hour before bedtime hanging everything back up in the closet of folding it and sticking it back in the drawers.

Because here's the deal: If you HAVE gained weight, there's a certain part of your subconscious which probably doesn't wanted to cotton to this development. So there were things that I had taken out to put on several times. And several times it was too tight or wouldn't fasten or just looked weird and I somehow took it out again a week or three days later and surprise! It still isn't fitting correctly. And it's not like I'm going naked or anything like that. I have tons of clothes. I have WAY too many clothes, in fact. My penchant for sale rooms and racks and consignment shops and thrift stores has pretty much guaranteed that. And it took the proverbial straw and camel's back situation to bring this to a head.

I have this Lilly Pulitzer dress that I got two years ago. It is my FAVORITE dress. I usually get a couple of dresses at the big Lilly sale at the end of summer, but I also usually get ONE at the beginning of summer. At full-price. Full LILLY price. So it's nothing to sneeze at in terms of money. This particular dress is made of a patchwork of all the Lilly prints from that season on the bottom and the top is blue and white seersucker. I have worn this dress and worn it and then worn it some more. It has the honor of being the dress I wore for the first day of my 2011 Disney vacation, meaning that all of my pictures from Photopass in the Magic Kingdom are of that dress (and me in the dress). In any event, I took the dress out and put it on and...well, it was sort of hard to zip. This has never been an issue. Not even a little. I mean, this dress was SO not tight that I wore it once when I was taking a trip by airplane. I used it as a TRAVEL OUTFIT. And here I was trying to zip it and failing. And to be fair, I did eventually get it zipped. I even fastened the hook and eye at the top. And then I leaned over to put on shoes and the hook and eye pulled loose from the top of the zipper. And that, my friends, was the final straw.

I contemplated for a while. I've had a lot going on--the first couple of weeks of June were NUTS and then my parents visited for a week and my sister is doing a fellowship in NYC for the summer so she's been in and out and I've auditioned for and been cast in two shows (as a dancer in one, so, HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!). And here's what I decided. That as long as all of those clothes that are too tight or gapping or look weird are in my closet, I'm going to pull them out and try them in the mornings. And the result is that I'm making a mess. And also since my closet is overcrowded as it is, I'm missing all of the things that DO fit me because after a little while I'm getting frustrated and going to the ironing/clean laundry pile and pulling something out of it and wearing the same damn things over and over. So last week, I went through every closet rack and every drawer and every single thing that I have that's too tight?

Is in "time-out". That's right. I have grounded myself from my clothes. I went to Target. I bought three big Rubbermaid tubs and if something was even a LITTLE bit out of my size range, it's in a tub. Now it's not like I locked the tubs in a tower far away. They're neatly stacked in the corner of the playroom, waiting. What's in those tubs? Every single one of my Lilly sheath dresses. All my Lilly shorts but one. My elephant pants from The Shirt Shop. My green gingham Nanette Lepore cocktail pants and shirt. All of my Ralph Lauren slimfit button downs. Y''s a shit-ton of clothes.

And here's the thing...I am fully cognizant of the fact that any number of my favorite clothing pieces may not see the light of day this summer. And that's okay. If it motivates me to do something, well, then I consider this experiment a success.