Disney Secrets You Can See From Space

Can we as a culture, once and for all, stop saying that the Great Wall of China is “the only thing visible from space?” That myth, perpetuated by NASA astronauts who only had a brief porthole view of our little green marble, is easily busted with a quick look at Google Maps. Thanks to their hi-res satellite pictures, knit together to form a global tapestry, we’re able to grab a brand new perspective other generations only dreamed of. So for all my Disney friends, fans, and freaks (you know who you are), I’ve scoured the digital globe to find for you some of the most magical, mind-blowing (and vertigo-inducing) Disney secrets you can see from space!

NOTE: I’ve included screenshots from Google Maps within this article. To zoom in and explore them for yourself, copy and paste the included coordinates into the Google search bar. You’ll then need to change your map view to “satellite” to see the actual satellite views.*

Walt’s Disney’s Personal Plane


Walt Disney’s Gulfstream 1 (N234MM) when it was on display at Disney Hollywood Studios in 2015. Photo ©2018 Freddy Martin, All Rights Reserved.

Walt Disney owned several private planes he used for business travel. Most famously, he used his planes to scout locations for land where he could build his “Florida Project,” the idea that would eventually become Walt Disney World in Central Florida. One of the planes, a twin turboprop Gulfstream 1, was on display as part of the Studio Backlot Tour at Disney Hollywood Studios theme park. Known by its tail numbers, “November Two Three Four Mickey Mouse,” this unique craft gave Walt Disney wings to pursue his dreams.

Models of Walt’s planes (including N234MM) are also currently on display in his original offices (Suite 3H) at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. Photo ©2018 Freddy Martin, All Rights Reserved.

After the Backlot Tour was closed, and the back half of the park was demolished to make way for Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, the plane disappeared from public view with many wondering if that treasure of the Disney past is lying in a scrap pile somewhere, never to be seen again.

Not exactly.

Reedy Creek Environmental Services – Red circle shows location of Walt’s plane. Photo from Google Maps, 2018.

Directly North of Disney Animal Kingdom, on Bear Island Road is the Reedy Creek Environmental Services facility. This is part of the government agency started by Roy O. Disney that provides services (water, power, emergency services, etc.) to Walt Disney World. In a view from space (via Google Earth), on a small dirt lot on the property’s east side, we can see a twin turboprop Gulfstream 1, nowhere near an airstrip, and surrounded by barricades.

Walt Disney’s Gulfstream 1 plane in storage in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Photo from Google Maps, 2018.

It’s pretty obvious this is Walt’s Gulfstream 1 awaiting its final fate. Incidentally, I have it on decent authority that the plan will not be left here to rot in a Florida swamp. Keep an eye on this post over the next couple I’ll share a hint of where it may be headed next.

To read more about the life of N234MM check out Jim Korkis’ interview on the subject at Yesterland.com.

Captain Nemo’s Sunken Sub


Captain Nemo’s Nautilus in all her glory.

For those who grew up going to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, one of their most beloved memories was a journey beneath the sea, 20,000 leagues to be exact. Based on the Walt Disney Productions film based on the Jules Verne novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage took guests on an eye-opening, underwater cruise past scenes of shipwrecks, giant squids, mermaids, and sea serpents (Mr. Baxter… you’ve been submerged too long).

Perhaps the most exciting feature of the attraction was the unique design of the subs themselves. Fashioned after Captain Nemo’s submarine, designed for the film by Disney Legend Harper Goff, these steampunky dive ships blended weaponized steel with Victorian grace. The eerily shark-like shape and googly-eyed port holes intrigued young and old alike.

So when the attraction closed in 1994, many mourned the loss of a childhood memory they would never again relive. Until now.

Kind of.

Castaway Cay – Disney’s private island in the Bahamas. Photo from Google Maps, 2018.

Disney stripped and buried all but three of the original 40-ton subs. One found a home in a backstage area of Disney Hollywood Studios visible on the now-defunct Backlot Studio Tour. The other two were taken to Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay, and sunk in the shallows as an artificial reef habitat for snorkelers to explore.

Snorkeling Lagoon – Red circle shows location of the last of Captain Nemo’s Nautilus submarines from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on Castaway Cay. Photo from Google Maps, 2018.

Today, only one remains, its signature silhouette almost completely unrecognizable as hurricanes have stripped away the fins. But from space, you can still see its long, sinister shape in the protected snorkeling lagoon.

The Nautilus – The last of Captain Nemo’s submarines is now a snorkeling reef on Disney’s private island.

Check out an up close video view of Captain Nemo’s sunken sub HERE.

Hidden Under Foot

Even though these next Disney secrets are not exactly hidden from view to guests, they qualify as Disney secrets because millions of Disney guests will walk over them day by day and never even notice that there’s a story being told literally under their feet!

Back in the 1980s when I worked at Disneyland, there was always a fun fact I liked pointing out to people. In each of the themed lands of the park, the asphalt seal, or “slurry,” was colored to match the design of the land. Adventureland was green, Frontierland was a burnt orange, Tomorrowland was blue, and so on. This was an effort to further theme the lands.

But today, they’re not satisfied with pathways for pathways’ sake. They want to “plus” the experience even further by building design elements into the paving. Perhaps you’ve noticed the detailed hoof prints in the pavement in Frontierland, or the leaves and bio-luminescence pressed into the ground in Pandora. But these next Disney theming secrets are so big you’d need back up, way up, to be able to see them.

Downtown Disney is a Flowering Vine

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Between ESPN Zone and the AMC theaters (soon to be demolished for a new hotel, the vines begin to crawl through Downtown Disney. Photo from Google Maps, 2018.
The Downtown Disney vine continues eastward toward the parks wrapping the monorail station in its leaves. Photo from Google Maps, 2018.
UVA Bar & Cafe is the center of the district, itself a flower along the vine. Photo from Google Maps, 2018.

Back in 2001, when Anaheim’s version of Downtown Disney district opened, it was a new concept of shopping and dining for the Disneyland Resort. Opened in concert with the opening of Disney’s California Adventure park (DCA), the district offered fun and community for vacationers and locals alike to spend an evening within the Disney bubble and without entering the parks.

Designed as a “garden within the city,” the walkways are decorated as a flowering fine with planters shaped like leaves and flower shapes that create seating and dining areas. Even the promenade between Disneyland Park and DCA is designed as a lattice on which the vines can grow. Truly a beautiful Disney secret you’ll only see if you’re looking down.

Disneyland Resort Promenade is a lattice from which the Downtown Disney Vine can blossom. Photo from Google Maps, 2018.

Right Brain/Left Brain in Epcot’s Future World

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Future World from Space – Left and right brains of the of Epcot’s Future World. Photo from Google Maps, 2018.

When Walt Disney’s original idea for EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) was scrapped (because some people tend to enjoy their voting rights), Disney Imagineers pursued instead the idea of a future world that showcased some of the beautiful and upcoming technologies that would feed humankind’s desire for both creativity and technology.

Future World West – The curving shapes and wandering ways give space for creativity and wonder. Photo from Google Maps, 2018.

The result was a large area of Epcot called Future World where guests can explore the beauty and creativity inspired by the natural world on one side (Future World West) and the analytical and mechanical wonders of mankind’s creation on the other side (Future World East). Future World West, in theory, speaks to the right hemisphere of the brain with pavilions dedicated to the land, the sea, and human imagination, while Future World East speaks to linear thinking and mathematic thought with pavilions dedicated to energy, motion, and medicine. But these are more than just a grouping of attractions.

Future World East – The sharp lines and geometric lines speak to the analytical mind of the left brain. Photo from Google Maps, 2018.

From the satellite’s orbit, we can see that Disney Imagineers even designed the walkways, water features, trees, and planters were built with these concepts in mind. In Future World West, the undulating and fluid shapes lead one to meander through and perhaps think more creatively. In Future World East, the hard-line, geometric shapes cause one to take decisive direction when choosing where to adventure next.

Discoveryland Nautilus

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Discoveryland – Europe’s version of Tomorrowland takes on a steam punk style. Sharp-eyed tourists can also see another replica of Captain Nemo’s Nautilus in the bay. Photo from Google Maps, 2018.

Just a short hop across the pond to Disneyland Paris, we’ll find another beautiful feature hidden beneath our feet that’s visible from high above the earth. On your way to Space Mountain in Discoveryland (the European equivalent to the American parks’ Tomorrowland), you’ll walk right over another tribute to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. You probably won’t notice that the paving stones are arranged in the shape of a nautilus, the cephalopod who Captain Nemo’s submarine was named after.

This Nautilus shape is invisible to most pedestrians, but from space it shows a tribute to Jules Verne’s classic novel and the 1960s Disney film. Photo from Google Maps, 2018.

Film Reel Footpath

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Disney Hollywood Studios in Paris, France. Photo from Google Maps, 2018.

A few short steps (and another theme park admission price) away at Disney Hollywood Studios in Paris, there’s another big story being told in the pavement. Near the Plaza of Stars, where movie and TV stars have pressed their hand and footprints into soft cement, there is a film reel walk way that only reveals itself from above.

Disney Bros. Plaza – A walkway of film leads to an argyle sweater courtyard, two things the Disney brothers learned a lot about in their first years in Hollywood. Photo from Google Maps, 2018.

Follow that pathway to an area called Disney Bros. Plaza and you’ll see the pathway change into an argyle pattern, not unlike a sweater vest worn by Hollywood types in the 1920s when Walt and Roy Disney first came to Hollywood – the real one.

DisneySea Plaza Moon Phases

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Tokyo DisneySea – Disney’s most unique theme park tells the legends and lore of the world’s oceans. Photo from Google Maps, 2018.

Much further East, at DisneySea in Tokyo, there’s another underfoot secret spotted from satellite cameras, or should I say from the Moon? Within the DisneySea Plaza, a large circular piazza surrounded by what may be the homes of the great oceanic explorers, guests crowd around the beautiful fountain globe to take pictures with the first icon of the park, a gold and alabaster sailing ship.

DisneySea Plaza – The welcoming plaza for Tokyo DisneySea displays a gigantic diagram of the Moon’s phases that you could see from, well… the Moon! Photo from Google Earth, 2018.

Little do they know, that under their feet, the Imagineers designed a complete map of the Moon’s phases. Sailors of old had only the sky to guide them, so this map declares from the outset the excitement and wonder of exploration at sea.

Lotus Flower in Shanghai

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Shanghai Disney – Disney’s newest theme park impresses with some of it’s grandest illusions yet. Photo from Google Maps, 2018.

Travel West now to Shanghai Disney in China. As you enter the resort, there is another vast plaza welcoming guests to enjoy this newest of the Disney parks. Few guests ever look down to see that they are standing on a gigantic image of lotus blossoms. Deeper in the park, at the hub leading to each of the park’s magical themed lands there is another representation of the lotus.

Lotus Blossom Entry – Out of what was once a barren field, these blossoms at the entry to Shanghai Disney promise glimpses into the past, present, and future. Photo from Google Maps, 2018.

What’s so special about this is that the lotus symbolizes something beautiful and pure coming out of the murky mud to show us the past, present, and future. Where else but this park could this message be more appropriate?

Massive Hidden Mickeys

Everybody loves noticing a Hidden Mickey. Especially when it’s one nobody has ever noticed before. Imagine the astronauts’ surprise of when they look down to see these humongous Mickey Mouse shapes hidden where nobody would see them, without Google Earth, that is.

Mickey-Shaped Lake

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Lake Mickey – How do you punish Donald Duck? Put him in this lake and tell him to go sit in the corner. Ha! Photo from Google Maps, 2018.

I’m not sure if this is actually a lake. It could be a reservoir or water treatment area for all I know. Heck, it might even be an alligator farm. But smack dab in the middle of the massive Walt Disney World property, in an area where guests used to be able to drive real race cars, is this perfectly symmetrical body of water shaped like the famous mouse. It’s located just South of the Mulan parking lot.

Mickey-Shaped Solar Farm

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Looks like a bunch of solar panels from World Drive. Wait ’til you see it from space! Photo from Google Maps, 2018.

Just down World Drive from the Mickey-shaped lake is a Mickey-shaped solar farm. This massive field of solar panels looks like any other solar farm you’d see in a trip across the country, but when viewed from a space craft, it betrays its true shape. Who knows, when the aliens come from a Mickey-shaped planet, they may think we were speaking to them, offering a peaceful welcome… and churros.

Staring at the Sun – This Mickey-shaped solar farm brings energy to Epcot. Photo from Google Maps, 2018.

Mickey Shaped Pedestrian Path

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Mickey-shaped pedestrian path through the Disneyland Resort. Photo from Google Maps, 2018.

If exercise is frustrating to you because you only feel like you’re running around in circles, this next hidden Mickey will validate your feelings. At the Disneyland Resort, straddling Disneyland Drive with Paradise Pier Hotel on one side and DCA on the other, is a pedestrian path with that distinctive mouse shape. During the Run Disney events held right there, the runners usually use the middle of the road technique, but it’s not unusual for those in the know to take an ear or two at the beginning of their 10k.

Misshapen Mickey

The Mickey Mouse flower portrait at the entrance to Disneyland, Anaheim, California. Photo from Google Maps, 2018.

Now don’t freak out. I know this isn’t a “Hidden Mickey.” In fact it’s probably the most photographed Mickey in the entire world. But since we’re looking down from space, I thought you’d be interested to see how distorted this image of Mickey actually is.

This is the Mickey flower bed in the entry area of Disneyland. Disney’s landscape designers wanted Mickey to look more like himself in from down below where the people are, so they used forced perspective and actually planted his image with a broad upward stretch. It’s not meant to be seen from space. Unless you’re a rocket man, you wouldn’t notice this weird effect.

If you view this location via Google Maps with the 3D effect* on, you’ll see that they went in and fixed the image to make Mickey look more like himself.

What Else Can You See From Space?

I’ve got so much more to share, but this post is getting so long. I may add to it along the way or introduce a part two.

In the meantime, are there any Disney secrets you’d like to share? Write a comment below and I’ll check it out. It might make it into one of my posts in the future.



*From time to time, things on the ground change and, depending on what browsers or devices you use, the images may look different from what I’ve posted here. You can toggle 3D or map labels on and off in Google Maps settings.


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Dreaming with Walt Disney – Chat with Disney Legend, Tom Nabbe (Part 3)

Back To Disneyland: In our last post from the interview with Disney Legend, Tom Nabbe, we followed his adventures from Tom Sawyer Island, to the Marine Corps, and then to Florida where he helped open Walt Disney World, the Magic Kingdom, and EPCOT Center, securing his status as a Disney Legend, and receiving a window on Main Street in his honor.

In this final post, we’ll learn how a boy named Tom gave Walt Disney some great ideas for improving the island they both knew and loved. Then we’ll hear about the last time Tom interacted with Walt. Finally, we’ll remember the day Walt passed away and where Tom was when he heard the news.

But first, let’s go back in time to Tom’s first visit to Disneyland on July 17, 1955–Opening Day! Tom and his mother were living in the neighborhood just north of the property where Disneyland was being built (just East of Harbor Blvd. on Vermont Ave.). Tom and his buddies would go over to the park and look over the fences to see into the Magic Kingdom as it was being built.

He never dreamed his lifelong story of working for the Disney Company would begin on the day Disneyland opened!

Disneyland’s Opening Day

F – You were one of the lucky kids who got into Disneyland for the opening press day on July 17, 1955. How in the world did that happen?

T – My mother was a starlet wannabe. And she used to haul us to Hollywood for all the premier openings. And we used to go to whatever TV show that she could get tickets for and that type thing. And if she wasn’t going to be a starlet, one of her kids was going to be. And so I finally worked into that.

She was over at Disneyland on July 17, ‘55 for the press opening, and she was getting autographs and that type of thing.

“Well I got a couple extra tickets. Do you want em?”

Disneyland opening day ticket for Sunday, July 17, 1955. This ticket belongs to Disney Legend, Tom Nabbe.
Tom Nabbe’s opening day ticket. Opening day tickets were not numbered. Guests were grouped into staggered entry times. Tom says the tickets in the Disney Archives are marked with 2:30pm, but his and his mother’s tickets were for 5:30pm. Photo courtesy the collection of Tom Nabbe. ©2018 Tom Nabbe, all rights reserved.

Danny Thomas came out and she asked Danny for an autograph. And of course he gave that to her. And he sort of leaned forward and said, “Have you been in the park?” And she says, “Oh no. We weren’t invited.” And he says, “Well I got a couple extra tickets. Do you want em?”

And so we went into the press opening for Disneyland as guests of Danny Thomas.

So it was my Mother and I. And I (still) have my ticket.

(Tom has made it a tradition to visit Disneyland on July 17th every 5th anniversary. The only one he missed was when he was in the Marine Corps.)

A Boy As Imagineer

F – Let’s flash forward again to your time with Walt. He hired you to play Tom Sawyer on his island, which is pretty extraordinary. But then he asked for your help in dreaming up the island’s second phase in 1957. Tell us about that.

T – Walt would come out into the park before the park opened, and walk around. He’d talk to the maintenance people and the custodial people, and the landscape people and he’d walk all over at that point.

“I want to know what you think the island should have.” – Walt Disney

And I remember one time he came over and he says, “Tom, I’m gonna rehab the island. Let’s walk and talk the island and I want to know what you think the island should have.”

And I told Walt it needed to have a treehouse, and it needs to have a secret escape tunnel from the fort.

Tom & Huck's Treehouse on Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland.
Tom & Huck’s Treehouse on Tom Sawyer Island stands as it did following the 1958 rehab when it was added to the landscape. Photo ©2018 Freddy Martin, all rights reserved.

When it came up from rehab in 1958, we had a treehouse. We had an escape tunnel from the fort. We also had Castle Rock, Teeter-Totter Rock, Merry-Go-Round Rock, but I won’t take credit for those.

But the escape tunnel and the treehouse, absolutely.

Saying Goodbye

F – Do you remember the last time you spoke with Walt?

T – My last contact with Walt was back in the early sixties. It was one of those days when he was out walking in the park.

Part of our job description was to “Watch out for Walt” in many ways. And one of them was that he would totally get inundated with people who wanted autographs. And he just wasn’t as familiar with the park and how to get backstage.

And I remember it was pretty much in front of the Malt Shop (in Frontierland) and he was just mobbed by people. And so I helped him get backstage. They had an employee entrance there between the Malt Shop and Oaks Tavern (currently the barn door painted with a dragon for “Laod Bhang’s Fireworks).

Tom Nabbe and Walt Disney fishing at Disneyland along the Rivers of America. Mark Twain steamship in background.
Disneyland’s own Tom Sawyer, played by Tom Nabbe, fishes the waters of the Rivers of America with Walt Disney as the Mark Twain Steamship passes by. Photo courtesy the collection of Tom Nabbe. ©2018 Tom Nabbe, all rights reserved.

And once we got backstage, I told him, “Walt, I’m Tom Nabbe. You hired me to be Tom Sawyer.” And he said, “Oh yea, I know. I remember you. How are you? How you been?” And that type thing. And so we visited for just a little bit there.

But that was the last conversation I had with Walt. That was, I want to say ’62.

F – Wow, you saved him the embarrassment of not knowing where to go.

T – I don’t know about that, but I know I saved him from having to sign a whole lot of autographs.

F – What do you remember about when Walt Disney passed away?

T – I was in the Marine Corps. And actually, I was in school in San Diego in the MCRD (Marine Corps Recruit Depot), and the first sergeant of the school knew that I had worked at Disneyland. And he actually pulled me out of the class and informed me that Walt had passed away, and said, “You can take a couple hours off.” And I was able to be a little bit on my own for a while and absorb that loss.

Passing On the Disney Heritage

F – What a life you’ve had!

T – You know, Freddy, it hasn’t stopped. What I do, and as long as they want me, once a month I do a Disney heritage thing for training a group for RCID (Reedy Creek Improvement District, the municipal designation of the land where Walt Disney World sits) is putting all their people through a retraining program and asked me if I would come in and share my stories. So I do that once a month.

Wayne Jackson, Bob Gurr, Tom Nabbe, Dave Smith at Disneyana Convention, June 2010
Disney Legends: Imagineers, Wayne Jackson & Bob Gurr, Tom Nabbe and Disney Archivist, Dave Smith at Disneyana Convention – July 2010

Tomorrow, I’m doing that same heritage presentation for the opening crew for Club 33 that they’re gonna build here at Walt Disney World. And so all of those cast members are going through a training program and I’ll pretty much share exactly what I just shared with you with them, tomorrow.

It was sort of neat too, because the gal that pulled the program together, I had done a “Dinner with a Legend” type thing. And she had had several Legends in for dinner with the people from D23 that were very involved and wanted to have that. We did it at the castle at Walt Disney World here. We have the College Program here, and I do it for the college program.

The gal that ran that program worked for me in the early 70s in Frontierland and she asked me to come in and talk to the group.

And so I’m constantly doing that.

I also do it for Disney fan clubs.

Cover of From Tom Sawyer to Disney Legend - The Adventures of Tom Nabbe by Tom Nabbe
From Tom Sawyer to Disney Legend – The Adventures of Tom Nabbe

The neat thing is I sort of tie it into book signings so I end up being able to sell copies of my book.

F – What’s the best way for me to point people to get your book?

T – If they want it signed and personalized, go to my website TomNabbe.com. If you just want the book you can get it on Amazon. If you want it in Kindle form you can get it on Amazon.

GET TOM’S BOOK: This interview barely scratches the surface of Tom’s stories growing up inside Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Take Tom’s advice. Order the book from TomNabbe.com so you can get your book signed and personalized by a Disney Legend.

Did you miss Part 1 or 2? The story of how Tom Nabbe became Walt Disney’s own Tom Sawyer is the kind of magic every Disney fan dreams of. Get started HERE.

To learn more about Walt Disney’s affinity for Mark Twain and a mysterious mark inside a cave on Tom Sawyer Island at the Magic Kingdom in Florida, check out “The Hand of Walt – A Disney Secret Hidden For Decades Is Finally Revealed!


See What A Dream Can Do – 2018 Thea Awards

The 2018 TEA Thea Awards, Anaheim, California. April 7, 2018

Originally posted to ThemedAttraction.com

ANAHEIM – When civil rights activist and U.S. Representative, John Lewis, dedicated the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, DC, his words echoed the triumph of generations; “See what a dream can do.”

The NMAAHC was honored with the Award for Outstanding Achievement (AOA) at the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) Thea Awards, where Rep. Lewis’ words also seemed to speak for the spectacular efforts of the themed entertainment professionals whose completed projects were on display that night.

The objective of the Thea Awards, TEA’s 24th annual awards gala, is to find excellence within the themed entertainment industry and celebrate it. Sponsored by the Chinese theme park giant, Chimelong, themed entertainment legends and cutting-edge players alike gathered from around the globe just across the street from the original place “where dreams come true” at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California.

“I never imagined that world of imagination would become real for me and it would be much more than a dream, it would be a career and a home,” said Phil Hettema, founder of The Hettema Group, a well-respected experiential design firm known for building incredible attractions worldwide, for clients such as DreamWorks, Sea World, Universal Studios, and the Chicago Museum of Science and industry.

Hettema was awarded the highest honor of the night, The Buzz Price Thea Award for a Lifetime of Outstanding Achievements.

“We have an obligation to do our work in the highest quality we can and to tell our stories with integrity.” – Phil Hettema

Tony Baxter, Mike Mulligan, Phil Hettema, TEA, Themed Entertainment Association Thea Awards after party Disney Imagineer, Tony Baxter, Storyland Studios Producer, Mike Mulligan, and Buzz Price Award Honoree, Phil Hettema of THG discuss the finer points of theme park design.

Quick to give credit where credit is due, Hettema began his remarks by directing guests to an online list of those he wished he could thank if he had more time. Gently ribbing Disney he quipped, “I want and need to thank all of them, but if I did, we would be here until Star Wars Land opens.”

With all the fun that comes with working within the dream-making industry, Hettema warned that the industry has some important obligations.

“We have an obligation to do our work in the highest quality we can and to tell our stories with integrity.”

Zsolt Hormay, creative executive on the Pandora World of Avatar land at Disney Animal Kingdom poses with members of his creative team Zsolt Hormay, Vice President Creative for WDI, along with members of his creative team, was honored with the Thea for Theme Park Area Development for Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney Animal Kingdom

“Our industry has often been accused of creating fake worlds,” he said, “and we seem to be living in a world of fake news and alternative facts, but when we tell our stories with quality and integrity, they’re powerful and they can change lives.”

“We have an obligation” Hettema continued, “to make sure that we build teams that reflect the diversity of our audiences. We cannot expect our stories to be heard by the whole world if our teams telling the story don’t mirror the full spectrum of our audience.”

Garner Holt, Bill Butler, Olaf Vugts, Coen Bertens (Left to right) Garner Holt and Bill Butler of Garner Holt Productions join Stan Dingemans, Olaf Vugts, Sander de Bruijn, and Coen Bertens (far right) of de Efteling to celebrate their award for Symbolica: The Palace of Fantasy

To the internationally diverse audience, this last statement struck a unifying chord, and was met with their loudest applause.

Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) received a total of four Theas for projects at their American theme parks. First, WDI was recognized for successfully reimagining two beloved attractions; the Epcot attraction Maelstrom into Frozen Ever After, and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror into Guardians of the Galaxy- Mission: BREAKOUT at Disney California Adventure.

WDI’s other two Theas were for Disney Animal Kingdom’s Pandora – The World of Avatar, and it’s anchor attraction, Flight of Passage. WDI veteran and creative force, Joe Rohde led teams in creating an unbelievably convincing alien world based on Avatar, the James Cameron IP.

“This is a business of hearts and minds,” Rohde said. “We reach out and touch the hearts and minds of all the people the who come through these places. That is not done with plastic. It is not done with machines. It is not done with concrete and steel or projection. It is through the hearts and minds of the artists and the workers involved. If you just set them free and give them the power, they will give you back more than you can predict, more than you can measure, and certainly more than you can buy.”

Volunteers and members of the TEA NextGen initiative celebrate an event well done.

Other awards for theme park excellence went to Cedar Point, the flagship park of Cedar Fair Entertainment Co. in Sandusky, Ohio, honored with the Thea Classic award for being an influential project that has stood the test of time, Symbolica: The Palace of Fantasy, a beautiful new dark ride at de Efteling in The Netherlands, Chimelong Ocean Kingdom’s Journey of Lights Parade in Zhuhai City, China, DreamWorks Animation Zone at MOTIONGATE Dubai in UAE, and the amazingly low-tech, day-long immersive theater of Ghost Town Alive! at Knotts Berry Farm in Buena Park, California.

“If you just set them free and give them the power, they will give you back more than you can predict, more than you can measure, and certainly more than you can buy.” – Joe Rohde

A tribute to WDI luminary, Marty Sklar, who passed away in 2017, was a heart-warming celebration of the “Dad” of the themed entertainment industry. Images of the hundreds of Disney Parks projects he personally touched and influenced played on the screen while a choir sang the Sherman Brothers’ classic One Little Spark.

Bob Rogers, the founder of BRC Imagination Arts said of Sklar, “Marty was a giver. He was a mentor to me. But not just me. What about you?” One by one, everyone in the audience stood to declare Marty’s influence on their lives.

Along with the NMAAHC, other museums received honors for their excellent achievements including Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War, an emotional tour of remembrance through the history of the famous WWI battle that led to New Zealand’s national independence, featuring 2.5 scale, life-like figures created by Sir Richard Tylor and the Weta Workshop team, depicting the true stories of real people impacted by that crucial 20th century event.

Stacia Martin of Disneyland, Diane Michioka of ThinkWell at the Themed Entertainment Association Thea Awards Gala after party. Disneyland artist, Stacia Martin and ThinkWell Vice President of Production, Diane Michioka connect as peers at the Thea after party.

The Rainis’ Museum in Tadenava, Latvia stood out among the technological giants for it’s stripped down simplicity and warmth featuring beautifully-designed, kinetic interactives made entirely of wood.

Projection mapping and 3D technologies brought honors to projects like the Citadella Visitors Centre on Gozo Island, Malta, which transformed an ancient stone reservoir into a gorgeously illuminated history experience. Les Carrières de Lumières in Les Baux de Provence, France projects fine art masters in gigantic scale onto the walls of an ancient cave. Aura, at Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal, Canada illuminates one of the largest cathedrals in North America with an architectural narrative that recalls the original purposes and impact of religious art.

Nathan Huber of 3D Live and Christian Lachel of BRC Imagination Arts at the Themed Entertainment Association’s annual Thea Awards, 2018 3D Live creator, Nathan Huber trades secrets with Christian Lachel, executive at BRC Imagination Arts in the press reception before the Thea Awards ceremony began.

3D Live was honored for Outstanding Achievement in Innovative Technology with their “Holographic” 3D LED display permanently installed at California’s Great America, within the Mass Effect: New Earth attraction. Sleep No More, an immersive theater experience in Shanghai, China was honored for its haunting live-theater adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

Legends Collide – Olaf Vugts, Chief Imagineering Officer at Efteling and Disney Imagineer, Tony Baxter share mutual admiration at the TEA Theas after party.

Everyone literally raised a glass for the brand experience award, which went to Jameson Distillery Bow St. in Dublin, Ireland, the brand home of Jameson Whiskey. The project’s director, John Carroll, quickly became everyone’s best mate when he bought a round of drinks at the after party, all made with Jameson Whiskey, of course.

As the party continued with gusto, TEA guests enjoyed the company and mutual-respect of their peers sharing stories of projects past and yet to come. These accomplished artists, craftspeople, engineers, and architects have seen what a dreams can do and they take seriously their job to continue shaping far off dreams into concrete reality.

Wanna Tour Walt’s World With Bob Gurr?

One of my favorite stories about Bob Gurr is the one where he kidnapped the American Vice President in the cab of Disneyland’s Monorail. Sure, he was just taking Mr. Nixon for a tour of Walt Disney’s little park in Anaheim, but the Secret Service weren’t exactly pleased to be left on the platform.

Bob Gurr is the legendary Disney Imagineer who designed and developed many of Disneyland’s infamous ride vehicles. And like Vice President Nixon, Bob wants to take you on a ride you’ll never forget.

Use offer code SKIPPERFREDDY for 40% off the April 15th Tour at Waltland.com


On April 15th, I want you to join me and Disney Legend, Bob Gurr, as he takes us on a personal tour of Walt Disney’s Los Angeles. You’ll see Walt and Roy’s first L.A. homes. We’ll stop by the location of the original Hyperion Studio where Snow White and the Silly Symphonies were born. We’ll pop by the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank and Walt Disney Imagineering in Glendale.

You’ll ride the merry-go-round where Walt took his daughters for “Daddy’s Day,” and first dreamed up Disneyland as a place where “…parents and children could have fun together.” And then you’ll tour Walt’s Barn, his personal workshop where he built the scale model steam engines that fueled his imagination. They call it the ‘Birthplace of Imagineering’ because that’s where Walt’s magical dreams first became a mechanical reality.

Along the way, Bob will share his stories about working side-by-side with Walt to create his original Magic Kingdom. There are tons of surprises along the way that I can’t tell you about quite yet. But trust me, you’re going to love it.

If you’ve got a passion for Disney history and lore, you won’t want to miss joining me on our incredible adventure with Bob Gurr.


So Here’s The Deal:

Bob has offered you, readers of my blog, an exclusive opportunity to explore “Waltland” for less. You get an unbelievable 40% off your ticket if you use the offer code SKIPPERFREDDY at checkout. Depending on your choice of seats, that could be as low as $63. This includes lunch and a special souvenir for my guests.

That’s like 1990s Disneyland gate prices!

Read all about the tour stops and buy your tickets now at Waltland.com Discount is only available for the April 15th tour with me and Bob Gurr.


Not Convinced?

I don’t mean to be grim. But how many opportunities do you think you’ll have left to hang out with one of the epic Disney Imagineering Legends who actually worked under Walt Disney? The intrinsic nature of this experience is that it is extremely limited. This may very well be the last few tours before Bob calls it quits.

So because I love you, my dear readers, I don’t want you to miss out on this incredible experience. Get your tickets for the April 15th tour today.

Use the offer code SKIPPERFREDDY for 40-freakin-percent off. Do it.

Still Not All In?

Okay. Here’s my final offer. When the tour is done around 3pm, you and I, and the rest of my incredible group of super-intelligent, Disney-loving readers will take in a couple more stops not on the Bob Gurr tour. I can’t tell you about it until you purchase tickets, but plan to experience another couple hours of incredible Disney history you’ll remember forever.

Get your tickets HERE. Use the offer code SKIPPERFREDDY for 40% off the April 15th Waltland Tour.

Offer available for the April 15th tour only.

Moving to Disney (Part 2) – 8 Tips To Know Before You Go

A lot of people say they want to move to Orlando or Anaheim to be closer to the Disney parks, but very few people actually have the guts to do it. In part one, I interviewed Sarah and Peter Brookhart of The Brookhart Project whose dream of moving to Disney was so strong that they pulled up stakes in Chicago to relocate just outside of the Walt Disney World bubble.

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney

Eureka! Forget bitcoin. There’s a gold rush in full swing and the miners are flocking to Disney in droves!

If you run in Disney circles, you’ve seen the explosion of cottage industries surrounding the Disney brand. There’s Etsy shops full of Disney inspired swag. Thanks to Disney Bounding, you can find outfits, ears, and costumes to match every major, minor, and obscure Disney character ever made. There’s Disney bloggers (yours truly), vloggers, and podcasters galore. And don’t miss the Disney-attraction-flavored coffees, scented candles, and fan fiction.

Moving Day! The Brookhart Project is on the road from Chicago to Walt Disney World. Still from YouTube video “Moving Day Road Trip! Part 1 – Chicago, Illinois to Atlanta, Georgia” Click to see video on YouTube.

But the true heroes of the Dis-zealot movement are those who have cast all caution to the wind, quit their jobs, sold their homes, and migrated thousands of miles to live within a firework’s boom of the Disney parks.

When I interviewed Sarah and Peter Brookhart, the young couple who left their hometown to live 20 minutes outside of Walt Disney World, I learned a few things about following dreams and taking giant leaps.

So if you’ve ever asked yourself, “What would it take to live the Disney dream?,” here are 8 tips I learned from the Brookharts for how to move to Disney.

Tip 1: Plan Like You Mean It

You know how a vacation to Disney takes moon-landing level planning? You have to make your restaurant reservations 180 days in advance, for crying out loud! Well, moving to Orlando or Anaheim takes a little more planning than that.

The Brookharts recommend that whatever you do, don’t play it by ear. Do your research and create a plan that will work. Read a ton and ask a LOT of questions.

They also suggest you do the math. And then do the math again. “Our job offer did not include moving assistance,” said Sarah, “so we ended up taking a lot more from savings than we had expected.”

You’ll never be able to plan so well that you avoid all surprises and obstacles, but without creating plan, you’ll only end up frustrated and floundering.

“Get a good idea and stay with it. Do it, and work at it, until it’s done right.” – Walt Disney

Tip 2: Location, Location, Location

“Location is super important,” says Peter. You must minimize your commute from home to the parks. “We live 20 minutes away from property, so that’s why it’s so easy for us to get here Monday through Friday. We have friends who live 40 minutes away and it’s much harder.”

Spoiler Alert: Peter and Sarah moving in to their apartment in Florida.

Again, do the math. For every 5 minutes away from the parks, you lose 10 minutes to driving. All that driving will wear on you. If you live 45 minutes away, and you plan to go to the resorts after work, you will spend 1 hour and a half of your precious evening hours in the car. And during non-peak seasons when the parks are only open until 8, timing is crucial

Find a place 30 minutes or less from a Disney parking lot. That will keep your drive to and from the magic under one hour total.

Tip 3: Expenses Are Real In Fantasyland

Have you heard that it’s cheaper to live in Florida? Well, that’s only partly true. If you want to live within a few miles of the parks (refer to Tip 2), the cost of living is not much better than anywhere else in the country.

“The biggest thing we heard from people who don’t know anything about moving to Florida from Chicago is ‘Oh, it’s so cheap to live in Florida!,’” said Peter. “The thing is, we not only live in Florida, we live in the Orlando area. And not only that, we live in the Orlando tourist area. We actually pay more for rent here than we did in Chicago.”

Expect much worse in Anaheim. The average one-bedroom rental behind the Orange curtain is over $1,500 per month, and things like groceries and gas follow suit.

“We’re not eating in the parks every night,” said Sarah. “You don’t see us downing PB & Js in the car before we head in. We’re making it a lifestyle but real life is still real. We both need to work full time jobs to make the lifestyle possible.”

Not much you can do about that. Just be prepared to pay the price to live next door to talking mice! (Hey, that rhymed!)

Tip 4: You WILL Get Tired Of It

Ever hear of the “law of diminishing marginal utility?” That’s the phenomenon that happens to you when the first piece of pizza tastes like heaven while the next two, three, and four pieces start to taste like cardboard.

Sadly, it’s the same with going to Disney every day, or every week, or even every month. You’re bound to get less and less enjoyment out of every visit.

Peter warned that many magic-migrants run the risk of losing interest. “Maybe not at first because of the excitement, the honeymoon stage of living here, but eventually after a couple weeks or months, you could probably just resort to coming here just on weekends.”

So what can you do to keep from losing interest? Live for something more than just having fun at Disney.

“Live everyday, no matter how small the accomplishment,” said Peter, “as if that single day had something going for it or something worth remembering, even if it’s playing cards after dinner.”

It helps that the Disney resorts have so much to offer. But every day can’t be all parades and attractions. If you live each moment with the idea that each moment is a gift, you’re bound to stay excited, no matter where you live.

“We’re setting a bar for ourselves,” said Sarah, “to really enjoy life.”

Tip 5: Keep Your Eyes Open

If you’ve read some of my other blog posts about hidden Disney details, you know how important this tip is for me. (See the S.E.A. at Disneyland or Walt’s initials on Tom Sawyer Island for some of my favorites.) Disney has packed the parks and resorts with so many unusual details and spatial storytelling hints that locals like you are likely to find something new and surprising every time you visit.

“I knew there was a lot to offer here,” Peter said, “but now living here we realize how much there actually is.”

You may have ridden every single ride on the map, but there are too many food and entertainment offerings for any guest to taste and see them all. “We had no idea who ‘Yehaa Bob’ was,” remembered Peter. “He’s a piano player who’s been playing the piano (at Port Orleans Riverside Resort) for twenty-plus years.”

As a local, you’ll also begin to see and experience other guests in a different way. “Since we’ve moved here, I can pick up on more of the other guests’ vibes. I hear more of the happy in other people’s voices, but I also can hear more of the anger and frustrations. You can just tell this family’s exhausted, or this family is having the best time of their life over here.”

Now that you’re able to enjoy the parks without a to-the-minute agenda, allow yourself to take it all in in a way that would have been impossible for your before moving.

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” – Walt Disney

Tip 6: Preset Your Mindset

Making a major life change like moving halfway across the country to follow a dream is a risky proposition – especially for your frame of mind. You’ve set pretty high expectations for how wonderful and carefree your new Disney life will be. But unless you’re prepared to stay positive and generous no matter what, your high expectations are bound to come crashing down.

“Being down here for a week,” said Peter, “the odds of you seeing an upset cast member or an upset family, or to see something weird happening that would ruin a day or a stay in a resort is far less than if you’re here 7 days a week for your whole life.”

“In bad times and in good, I have never lose my sense of zest for life.” – Walt Disney

“You’re gonna see upset cast members. You’re gonna see a ridiculous guest causing a fit or an accident happen, or an extra 25 minute wait at the monorail… You have to be able to brush those off because you do have the luxury to see it when it’s not a wait, when Main Street is empty, when there’s a walk-on to Space Mountain, which never happens.”

“You can’t have the good without the bad.”

Tip 7: Be Generous & Humble

Disney annual-passholders get a bad wrap. In some ways they deserve it. I hear the word “entitled” thrown around a lot with regard to the way “APs” act toward cast members and other guests. To the Brookharts, the antidote for entitled-passholder-syndrome is to think of yourself less and to think of others more.

“There’s really no reason why we’re any more important than any other person here,” said Sarah. “And I might say we’re less important because people could have saved for the past 5 years to get their 7 days here.”

“Why would we take up extra space in line on a Saturday night in July when people on vacation could be utilizing it themselves,” Peter added.

Letting other people go first might be the most difficult adjustment for a Disney pilgrim like yourself, but it’s this kind of attitude that will sustain your positive mindset (see Tip 7) for the long haul.

“It’s hard to be like, ‘Oh, if you’re not a humble person, don’t take the move,’” said Sarah, “but it’s just that you’re going to be a more pleasant person to be around. And your experience as a guest will be much more pleasant if you go into it with a mindset of humility.”

Tip 8: Own It

As much as you want your family and friends to be supportive of your Dis-placement (see what I did there?) most of them won’t understand.

Let’s be honest. Some people just don’t get the whole Disney thing. When they hear what you’re thinking of doing, they roll their eyes and write you off as weird. Fair enough. Others might be jealous and take it out on you with snide comments or talking behind your back. Still others are simply afraid of the unknown.

“Sarah was basically the first person in her family to leave the south side of Chicago,” Peter said. “We did something new that was scary for us and scary for the family because nobody does this!”

Even if they don’t say it, you’ll be able to sense that friends and family are judging you (a little, or a lot) for following this dream.

But here’s the thing. It’s not their dream. It’s yours. You have to own it.
Moving to Disney is no different than moving to the mountains or the beach or the city. Some people work their tails off to realize their dreams and move to the places they love the most. Nobody faults them for that.

Peter said, “We had to look at ourselves honestly and say, ‘What is really going to make us happy?’” For Sarah and Peter Brookhart, the answer was to pursue their passion and move to Walt Disney World.

So if you’re serious about relocating to be near a Disney resort (or to follow whatever your dreams might be), your first move is to take a hard look at your motivations. Then, you’ve got to count the costs and survey the obstacles. Finally, when you’re ready to face down your doubts and fears to pursue your dreams then there’s only one thing left to do… embrace what you love and own it.

To follow Sarah and Peter Brookhart’s daily vlog adventures from Walt Disney World, subscribe to The Brookhart Project on YouTube.

To read about how Sarah and Peter made their Dis-cision to relocate to Orlando, go back to “Moving To Disney (Part 1)

In preparing this article, I learned about several other interesting people who did something similar to the Brookharts. I encourage you to check them out:

Mr. Peter Tu: This retiree is known as “the clapping man of Disneyland,” spends every morning walking through the park getting exercise and encouraging every cast member he sees. His trademark handshake and recognizable clap makes him one of Disneyland’s most adored citizens. Watch a day in Peter Tu’s life HERE.

Lisa Dinoto Glassner: Lisa was a lawyer by day, runner by night, and Disney fanatic through and through. When her father passed away, she decided to quit her career and run after what she loves. So she and her family relocated to a neighborhood just behind the castle. Follow her story at TheCastleRun.com.

Jeff Reitz: On a whim in 2012, Jeff challenged himself to visit Disneyland every day for a year. But once the habit was formed, he didn’t stop. With some visits as short as a half hour, he still makes time to visit Walt’s original theme park once a day. Read Jeff Reitz’ story HERE.

Tom Bricker: So you want an opposing viewpoint? Want somebody to help you level you expectations and maybe talk you out of migrating south? Tom’s post about the downside of moving to Disney has some good points you should consider – although he says he has “no regrets.”

Shakespeare’s Kid Sister

Acclaimed author and pre-feminist hero Virginia Woolf once wrote a fictional story about Judith Shakespeare, William’s kid sister. Although blessed with the same talents, imagination, and experiences as her brother, Judith had no opportunity to develop and express her gifts in a world where women simply weren’t afforded the space to do so.

Last Wednesday, nearly 100 years later, I had the opportunity to see a small part of Woolf’s dream come true at a staged reading of Lydia Kapp Gutilla’s Fortune’s King.

Fortune’s King tells the story of a talented, young woman named Fortuna who is unexpectedly thrust into power within a male-dominated kingdom. Fortuna is as surprised as everyone else when she is given the space to use her gifts and to lead as she sees fit. Princes, warriors, scholars, and commoners alike are suddenly forced to deal with their own prejudices and expectations as the fate of the kingdom rests in the hands of a woman. If the plot reminds you of your high school English class readings of Romeo and Juliet, you’re not far off.

The story is set in a fictional, medieval kingdom, with all the Shakespearean tropes you could shake a quill at. Fortune’s King is replete with power-hungry nobles, surly scholars, bawdy common-folk, over-heated young lovers, treacherous villains and mistaken identities. Most of all, the play is dripping with farce as characters hilariously misunderstand and respond to one another’s tangled motives and schemes.

However, as fun as the plot is and as meaningful the message, Kapp Gutilla’s play stands tallest in her ambition to stay true to the Bard’s form.

Fortune’s King is a five act play written in iambic pentameter. Yes, iambic pentameter – Shakespeare’s poetic rhythm that stumps today’s readers and actors everywhere.

One reviewer of Fortune’s King said that when he heard Kapp Gutilla had written the play in Shakespeare’s style he was, “about as excited as you would be for a trip to the DMV on your lunch break.” I have to admit I imagined a similar feeling. But the reviewer and I agree, we couldn’t have been more wrong.

Playwrite Lydia Kapp Gutilla celebrates the staged reading of her 5-act, iambic pentameter play, Fortune’s King.

Kapp Gutilla’s script is fast-paced and easy to follow. Her mastery of iambic pentameter is on point and fluid. Her characters are quickly developed and sympathetic, to the point that even those with whom you don’t agree, you sense where they’re coming from and believe with them in their cause. I’ll admit there were times when my modern mind had trouble keeping up with the Queen’s English, but the actors expertly translated into body language what I lacked in vocabulary.

Virginia Woolf dreamed of a day when a woman would be allowed the space to write and share her ideas.

During the intermission, I watched as Kapp Gutilla connected with family and friends in the audience. She’s a tall, gregarious woman with striking features and a strength that exudes confidence, ambition, and possibility. Unlike Judith Shakespeare, she has opportunity and access unheard of 100 years ago.

If Virginia Woolf had been watching this version of Shakespeare’s sister with me, I imagine she would see her as alien to her own time and place. And yet, I’m certain she would soon come to see in her someone very similar to herself.

One Last Look At “A Bugs Land” Before Marvel Invades

With today’s news that a Marvel themed land, replete with Spider-Man and Avengers attractions, will soon displace “A Bug’s Land” in Disney California Adventure (Disneyland’s kid-sister park next door), the comic book hero fans all gave a collective cheer. But the celebrations were mired by the unwelcome surprise that Disney had already shuttered A Bug’s Land’s anchor attraction, the immersive 4-D theater masterpiece “It’s Tough to be a Bug” just a few days before!

This came as a shock to some as Disney has lately made a big deal about closing attractions so that adoring fans can say their last goodbyes. After learning their lesson when they shut down “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” at Magic Kingdom in Orlando, and herds of superfans staged toad-themed sit ins, Disney has dutifully publicized attraction closures with plenty of time to give the adherents time to visit one more time (and buy the closure-related merchandise).

Beloved attractions like “Maelstrom” and “Ellen’s Energy Adventure” at Epcot, “The Great Movie Ride” at Disney Hollywood Studios, “Hollywood Tower of Terror” at DCA have all been given appropriate mourning periods. And most recently, the controversial redesign of the contested “Buy a Wench for a Bride” scene in “Pirates of the Caribbean” has fans lining up for one last look at the human-trafficking, er, classic animatronics scene. It’s even led to an entire cottage industry of “We wants the Red-Head” fan-made and official park merchandise – no matter how inappropriate the thought may be.

But I digress.

“It’s Tough To Be A Bug” Closed Forever

So when I saw that “It’s Tough to be a Bug” was dropped into the Extinct-Attractions barrel without a lick of fanfare, I felt a twinge of sadness. Guests will never get to see the attraction’s impressive queue with an ants-eye view, the creepy-crawly parody theater posters, and the cavernous theater themed like an insect’s Pantages Theater (an I say “Ant-ages?”).

But here’s the good news.

I was in the park last Tuesday enjoying the beauty of a rainy Disney day. As I passed by A Bug’s Land, I remembered some of the rumors of a Marvel Land coming in the future. So I decided I would get a jump on it and grab some pictures for posterity, including detailed photos of the “It’s Tough to be a Bug’s” queue and interior. Little did I know, I was capturing these photos for the ages.

So I invite you to shrink down with me and enjoy one last look at “It’s Tough to be a Bug,” and the rest of A Bug’s Land before it’s all gone forever.

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This article is an expanded version of the original at StorylandStudios.com

To learn more about the Marvel Lands coming to Disney parks around the world go HERE.

Google Street View in Disney Parks – Let’s Go to Disneyland!!

There goes my day.

Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, California Adventure, Disney Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom are all on Google Street View

As soon as Google Earth came out, I was able to travel the world from my office. I flew over favorite vacation spots, old schools I went to, places I dream of visiting, and my childhood home. Then of course Google Streetview gave me the ability to see where I would be for a meeting later, or just travel through places I love without all that pesky traffic. The most fun was always checking out the Disney parks with new perspectives you can’t get just walking through.

But you could never really get into the parks with the flyover view. That changes today! Deanna Yick, Program Manager for Google Street View just announced that we will now get “new fantastic points of view” as Street View goes the distance in Disney parks. Explore every nook and cranny of the parks without waiting in a single line and see the Disney details you may have never seen before.

Think of the benefit this will be for Disney bloggers like me, vacation planners, and the curious among us who just want to see what all the buzz is about. Here are the links to each of the parks and park sections so you can get started on your couch-side Disney vacation right now!!

Magic Kingdom Park

Disney Hollywood Studios


Disney Animal Kingdom


Typhoon Lagoon

Disney California Adventure

Disney Springs

Love visiting the Disney Parks? Here are two incredible Disney discoveries we bet you didn’t know about.

Disneyland Finally Gets Its Own S.E.A. Connection… and the Mysterious Photo That Will Blow You Out of the Backside of Water!

The Hand of Walt – A Disney Secret Hidden For Decades Is Finally Revealed!

Jungle Skippers Get a New Place to Blow Bubbles! – “The Tropical Hideaway” Announced for Disneyland

Get ready to get lost in adventure at the new Tropical Hideaway in Adventureland at Disneyland. Y’all know how much I love Adventureland details and Easter eggs, and I am 100% certain this place will be loaded with them. I was in Skipper Heaven when The Jungle Navigation Ltd. Skipper Canteen restaurant was opened at Walt Disney World, and this location promises even more of the same. Look for plenty of puns and references to the notorious members of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers, including the namesake of those world-famous falls, Dr. Albert Falls. No doubt this announcement is prompted by the expected popularity of the Jungle Cruise movie starring Dwayne Johnson coming to theaters next year. And all the Skippers say… it better be good.Here’s the scoop from the Disney Parks Blog:

Disneyland concept art for the Tropical Hideaway. Image copyright belongs to Disney. Shared with good faith to help promote their business and creativity. The Tropical Hideaway discovered in Adventureland at Disneyland Park

February 22nd, 2018

Calling all adventurers! There will soon be a new area of Adventureland to explore at Disneyland Park. The former Aladdin’s Oasis will soon be transformed to The Tropical Hideaway! This new experience will soon appear along the tropical shores nestled between the Jungle Cruise and “Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room.” This one‐of‐a‐kind destination will be a popular rest stop for Adventureland locals and weary explorers alike. Guests will be able to rub elbows with their favorite skippers in an exotic traders’ market, featuring all of the sights, sounds and flavors of the tropics. Keep your eyes out for more information on this exciting new location as more is discovered.

What do you think about this new use of the old Tahitian Terrace space? Leave your jungle love in a comment below.


Disneyland concept art above for the Tropical Hideaway from the Disney Parks Blog. Image copyright belongs to Disney. Shared with good faith as a fan to help promote their business and creativity.

Back To 1985

Flashback: If my cousin Andy had survived his 20s, today would have been his 40th birthday. Looking back through old memories, I found this story originally written in the months following his death. If you’ve ever lost someone you’ve deeply loved, I’m sure you too wish this DeLorean was real.

Back to the Future DeLorean at Universal Studios Hollywood - 1985
Back In Time – From left: Andy, Freddy, DeLorean (back) and Robby. Copyright ©2018 Freddy Martin, all rights reserved.

One Summer long ago, I came down from Oregon to visit my Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts, and cousins in Southern California. I spent all day every day shooting baskets, playing ping pong, dreaming up epic roller coasters, and conspiring with my cousins, Robby and Andy.

Lifting the A-Team Van at Universal Studios Hollywood - 1985
I Pity The Fool! Copyright ©2018 Freddy Martin, all rights reserved.

Every day, that is, except Thursday. Every Thursday, our Grampy brought me and Robby with him to the Christian Business Men’s Association breakfast at a local Carrows Restaurant. After that, he’d drop us off at the church for its weekly, youth group beach trip.

Jaws shark at Universal Studios Hollywood - 1985
Great Scott! er… White. Copyright ©2018 Freddy Martin, all rights reserved.

But one Thursday, Grampy took all three of us to Universal Studios to ride the Studio Tour Tram.

We lifted the A-Team Van.

We posed with the shark.

Some days we still wish we could go back in time and change what ever may have gone wrong. But then we might have had to miss the sweetness of a day like that one back in 1985.

“Don’t bet your future, on one roll of the dice
Better remember, lightning never strikes twice
Please don’t drive eighty eight, don’t wanna be late again

So take me away, I don’t mind
But you better promise me, I’ll be back in time
Gotta get back in time

– Huey Lewis & The News, 1985