Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Q &A interview with Leonard Kinsey

 I have gotten the chance to interview one of my favorite authors and publisher Leonard Kinsey.

You may have heard of him, One of the most famous books he has written is 'The Dark Side of Disney'.selling over 40,000 copies, Kind of a "how to" book for more adventurous people who want to enjoy Disney just as much as the kids do. He has also written books such as Our Kingdom of Dust, and Habst and the Disney Saboteurs to name a few. Leonard is also a publisher for Bamboo Forest. We discussed many topics, so let's go!

Where are you from?

 I was born and raised in Clearwater Florida and spent my teenage years in Disney, We got to go there monthly, It became my second home.

When did you start writing?

 Its kind of funny, I actually entered a contest for a small story during a school book fair, where you would only win a few books or so, but I entered my story in and I won. From there I just kept writing, I took English classes and Writing in College,and just kept writing.

What advise do you have for future writers out there?

Just write, whenever you can, I had many many stories that were just stupid, but you can't let that stop you. Not everything you write is going to be a masterpiece, or a book. Just keep writing, and love your subject.

What books have influenced you along the way?

Writing style wise I would have to say The Catcher in the Rye. Others would have to be The Great Gatsby and American Psycho.

The Dark Side of Disney kind of has a cult following doesn't it?

Yes, it does. Some loved it, others hated it. I have gotten hate mail, and people who just loved the book.

What are some of the positive things that came from the writing of your books?

The positives out weigh the negatives. I have made so many friends and fans, and have gotten to work with the likes of people like Rolly Crump (who actually got to work with Walt Disney himself), and Jeff Heimbach, I have also gotten the chance to get into Club 33 in Disneyland.

What are some of the negatives that have come from writing your books?

I have gotten hate mail, I have be threatened from people who want to do harm to me, That wasn't the best feeling. Lots of twitter comments of people calling me names.

What made you write The Dark Side of Disney?

I was sick of all these books showing what families and couples and people with kids showed, I wanted to show that no matter how many times you go to Disney you can still have as much fun as the kids do, just in a different way.

How has your life changed since writing these books?

I have a more enriched, fuller life, I get to meet so many new people, It has given me a creative outlet, It has given me a small following, to me its been rewarding,and its like now I feel that I am leaving a legacy, something for me to leave behind.

 Do you have any regrets in writing the books? 

The Dark Side of Disney. In some ways I feel we took it too far and have gotten people in trouble, Some cast members got fired and that bothers me to know that.

 Ok Leonard we have to know:

What is your favorite Disney park?
 If you asked me 3 or 4 years I would have said Epcot, however I have to say Disneyland now. When  I am in Disneyland it automatically brings me back to when I was a child, the nostalgia of it all, It is Walt's park, where Disney World has taken so much of that stuff out, its just not there anymore for me, sadly.

What is your favorite drink in Disney?

 I would have to say any of the German beers, I loved when they used to sell the yard of beer. Second favorite would have to be the Avocado Margarita. in Mexico.

Well Leonard do you have any new upcoming things you would like to talk about?

 Yes, I am publishing a Guide to every bar in Walt Disney World, That should be coming out in the next month or two.

I am also publishing the next Rolly Crump book, More Cute Stories Vol. 6. This one talks about Knott's Berry Farm.

If you are interested in any of the books mentioned please visit http://bambooforestpublishing.com for further information.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Restaurants and Fireworks: Walt Disney World

   One of the best ways to end a magical night is eating at a great Disney restaurant and watching the sky light up with a wonderful fireworks display. Here are some ideas to make it relaxing and wonderful experience.

    There are many Disney restaurants where you can catch the fireworks and relax with no crowds. Magic Kingdom's "Wishes" and EPCOT's "Illuminations" have an awesome firework display and shouldn't be missed. Always check the times of the fireworks to plan your dining reservations. Times change according to season. I always recommend scheduling dining 45 minutes before the fireworks.

   One of the restaurants with a great view of the Magic Kingdom is O'hana at the Polynesian Resort. It has a direct view of the castle. When you're booking, mention you want the fireworks viewing table. If you can't get a reservation, best place to watch the show is on the beach. O'hana is a casual dining establishment known for its spectacular ambiance and incredible food.

Another restaurant is Narcoossee's at the Grand Floridian. It also gives a great view of the castle. There is even a railing for outdoor viewing. Narcoossee's is an upscale, casual type of restaurant known for its seafood but they do have steak and other options as well. If you are not hungry and just want to break away from the parks a bit, you can get a good view from the docks.

Now, let's venture to the Contemporary Resort and check out other restaurants, California Grill and Chef Mickey's. Whether you want fine dining at the California Grill or character dining at Chef
Mickey's, it is a perfect view to watch "Wishes." If you can get a reservation there is also an observation deck with a great panoramic view of the Magic Kingdom.

Although these locations give you a scenic view of the Magic Kingdom there are locations within the park where you can grab some food and still catch the show. Crystal Palace, Casey's Corner, and Tomorrowland Terrace. However, I personally like being in the middle of the fireworks and watch them from Pinnochio's Village Haus in Fantasyland. The fireworks explode all around you and above your  head. However, you won't experience Wishes from the front of the castle. It is still an experience to see the sky light up all around you.

As many times as I have seen, "Wishes," I can never get enough of it.

Magic Kingdom isn't the only park with a night show. Now we will talk about EPCOT's "Illuminations."

Rose and Crown at the United Kingdom, known for their Fish and Chips, is one of the best viewing locations. Patio seating is available but can't be guaranteed.

If you don't feel like the park, Disney's Boardwalk has a great view from the bridge looking towards Spaceship Earth.  If you have the chance to stay at the resort, ask for the boardwalk view. It isn't guaranteed but if you are lucky, the fireworks are awesome.

"Wishes" - View from the balcony, 15th floor, Contemporary Resort 
"Wishes" - View from Fantasyland

"Illuminations" - View from a room at the Boardwalk Inn

"Illuminations" - View within EPCOT

Friday, March 11, 2016

Walt Before Mickey Review

You may have heard some buzz about a film called Walt Before Mickey back in August of 2015. Walt Before Mickey is a motion picture based on the book of the same title by Timothy Susanin with foreword by Diane Disney Miller. It is directed by Khoa Lee and stars Armando Gutierrez as Ub Iwerks, Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) as Roy Disney, Jodie Sweetin (Full House) as Charlotte Disney, and Thomas Ian Nicholas (Rookie of the Year) as Walt Disney.

Not only was I excited about the movie I was super excited to have the opportunity to attend the premiere at the AMC Downtown Disney (Now Disney Springs). We knew that it was going to be a great experience when before we even entered the building we ran into an actor from the movie and his family. His daughter was so proud to say that her daddy was in the movie. I wondered who else we may see that morning. My son and I took our seat in the theater and before we knew it the Director Khoa Lee, Thomas Ian Nicholas, and a few other actors were in front of us talking about how excited they were for us to see the movie and that they would be outside after it was complete to sign autographs and get some pictures.

For a Disney nut like myself I was so excited to see a movie that followed parts of Walt Disney’s life that rarely are discussed. Typically it is brushed upon that Walt Disney had a rough time starting out and that he faced diversity but an in depth look at that time in his life was something that I felt was missing. This motion picture does exactly that, it tells the story of Walt Disney up to the creation of the iconic Mickey Mouse. This, sometimes very depressing, look at Walt’s struggles doesn’t sugar coat anything when telling the story. It is difficult to watch at times because of the adverse situations that Walt Disney faced, but important life lessons can be learned with each.

My son and I were both captivated by the movie, and that is saying a lot when one of us was a 12 year-old boy with a very small attention span. After watching all of the credits we made our way out to the lobby where we were not only greeted by the Director and Thomas Ian Nicholas but also Armando Gutierrez (Ub Iwerks), and other actors from the movie. It seemed every time we turned around there was someone in front of us that we had just seen on the big screen. It was a very neat experience that I will not soon forget.

Since this is a review and I have shared my bias I will caution someone who is thinking about watching this film that there are few feel good moments for someone who cannot connect the success that is to come with what they are seeing on the screen. My wife said that it may have been one of the most depressing 110 minutes that she has seen in a long time. That being said, I think it is important for any huge Disney fan to see what kind of determination it took to bring everything we love today into being. I believe that it could be very important for anyone who has struggled in life to realize that things can turn up if you dig deep and keep on keeping on.  While it is largely a story of failure, it is also a story of success.  It is a story that needed to be told and I am glad that these filmmakers decided to share the story with us. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Book Review: Secret Stories of Walt Disney World Things You Never Knew You Never Knew

By Jim Korkis

Congratulations, you are going to Walt Disney World! You picked your resort, made your FastPasses and booked your advanced dining reservations.
Now you wait for the magical day for your trip to start.
How about reading up on some of Walt Disney World back-story? What do you know about some of the attractions that are gone or never got past the planning stage?
Reading Secret Stories of Walt Disney World
Things You Never Knew You Never Knew
By Jim Korkis, should fit the bill.

I was looking forward to reading this book because I have always been intrigued with the history of Walt Disney World Resort.
As a former cast member myself, I love to understand other people’s accounts. Fact checking is really important. If I don’t hear something right from the source I think of it like the childhood game of Telephone. What starts with one account ends up something quite different. You could start with “the main character in The Jungle Book is a Hippo named Dumbo.” If enough people say it is so, and you have never seen the Jungle Book, you would believe it.

When Cast Members speak with an air of authority it is easy to take what they say as fact. When these false tidbits end up online or in print they are given even more power. After all General George Washington clearly stated that everything written on the internet is true, fact!

I really enjoyed getting a glimpse of the early days of Disney merchandise. I sure wish there was a time machine to go back and buy some of the one of a kind items they had sold.

I remember hearing about the scramble to get the Magic Kingdom opened in time. And I re-read the same things in this book. I know they are currently working on opening Shanghai Disneyland Park. I hope great lengths are being taken to keep track of all of the little things that are going into opening a park.

Want to read more?
Other Books by Jim Korkis, from Theme Park Press:
The Vault of Walt: Volume 4 (2015)
The Everything I Know I Learned from Disney Animated Features (2015) The Vault of Walt: Volume 3 (2014)
Animation Anecdotes (2014)
Who’s the Leader of the Club? Walt Disney’s Leadership Lessons (2014) The Book of Mouse (2013)
The Vault of Walt: Volume 2 (2013)
Who’s Afraid of the Song of the South? (2012)
The Revised Vault of Walt (2012)

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Adventure Is Out There! 

And here's your chance to prove it with this amazing purse from our Disney Pals at Sydney's Thotful Spot!  Wouldn't you (or someone you love) just love to show the world that "Adventure is out there"? Well here's your opportunity with this beautiful hand made purse celebrating the Disney Pixar Movie UP! from our friends at Sydney's Thotful Spot. It can be yours... just follow the instructions below to enter! Good luck everyone!

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