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Beautiful, watercolored freehand papercraft 3D Disney characters


Matt Hawkins contributed his lovely papercraft Disney characters to the Boing Boing Flickr pool. His description: "Paper sculptures made of painted watercolor paper. I created Goofy and Elliott one facet at a time from the top down from watercolor paintings with only a 2-D sketch for a guide. My hope is that this improvisational technique would help capture the spirit of these characters, bringing them to life in a flowing organic way that defies the sharp corners and geometric forms from which they're built. Available at the Wonderground Gallery in Downtown Disney."

Disney buys Maker Studios

The Walt Disney Company has acquired Maker Studios -- a successful Youtube channel focused on millennials -- for $500M, with an additional $450M potential performance-related payout in the future.

Disney characters as zombie hunters


Deviant Art's Kasami-Sensei has produced a series of illustrations that mashup The Walking Dead with Disney characters, recasting the familiar lighthearted animated figures as post-apocalyptic zombie-hunters.

The Walking Disney (via Neatorama)

Mary Blair gallery show at Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco


San Francisco's Walt Disney Family Museum is running an exhibition on the art of Mary Blair, one of the all-time greats of Disney history and modernist illustration and color. I've covered her work here before (for example, there's a gorgeous collection of Blair's Golden Books, and, of course, the amazing Alice in Wonderland edition featuring the rejected concept art she produced for Disney's psychedelic Alice in Wonderland animated film), and I've been lucky enough to see some of it in person while I was working at Disney, but this exhibit, called "MAGIC, COLOR, FLAIR: the world of Mary Blair," looks extraordinary.

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Incredible Disney impersonator sings "Let it Go" in the voices of many characters

There are a lot of covers of Frozen's themesong "Let it Go" on Youtube -- enough to seriously freak out the loony Christian right -- but Brian Hull beats 'em all, managing to sing the song, verse-by-verse, in the voices of characters from across the cinematic history of Disney and Pixar. What's your favorite?

Disney and Pixar Sings Let it Go (via Seanan McGuire)

Funny book of Disneyland "facts" that aren't

396 pure, unadulterated, dyed-in-the-wool, 100% made-up, completely fake disneyland "facts" is funny book of plausible-sounding Disneyland lies, penned by Horatio Liar (AKA Dominick Cancilla). As John Frost notes, Cancilla has a flair for making up stories that sound weird-but-true, but are, in fact, weird-but-false, and nevertheless make you want to repeat them.

For example: "The Disneyland Hotel was originally independently owned and operated. Eventually, Disney decided that they would rather own the hotel outright, but the owners weren’t interested in selling. To help the owners change their mind, Michael Eisner proposed that the company build an enormous impenetrable wall between the hotel and Disneyland if they didn’t sell. The deal was signed just weeks later."

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How Disney movies gave an autistic boy his voice


In Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism , Pulitzer-winning writer Ron Suskind tells the incredible story of how his son Owen disappeared into "regressive autism" at the age of three, losing the ability to speak or understand speech and developmentally degenerating across a variety of metrics, only to reemerge a few years later, able to communicate through references and dialog from the Disney movies he obsessively watches.

A long excerpt in the New York Times, generously illustrated with Owen's expressive fan-art, hints at a book that is wrenching and inspirational by turns. It reminds me of 3500, Ron Miles's memoir of raising a son with autism who was able to engage with the world through thousands of re-rides of Snow White's Scary Adventures at Walt Disney World.

Suskind is a brilliant writer, and the excerpt is deeply moving. I've pre-ordered my copy.

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Epic Disney event in San Francisco

Jeff sez, "On Saturday, March 29, 2014, there will be an epic Disney event in San Francisco. The Disney Project proudly presents: Walt, WED, and WESTCot. The evening will consist of two multimedia presentations, hilarity, videos, goodie bags, Disney Legends, raffle prizes, and more!"

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Disney drops $4.8M in Boy Scouts funding over anti-gay policy


Disney has dropped the Boy Scouts of America from the roster of charities eligible to benefit from its Voluntears program, through which the company donates money to charities when its employees do volunteer work in their communities. The Scouts have a policy banning gay people from serving as scout leaders, and Disney has a policy banning charities that are "inconsistent with Disney's policies on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, national origin, age, marital status, mental or physical ability, or sexual orientation."

Last year, the BSA received $4.8M in funding through the Voluntears program.

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Disneyland's un-gangs


A number of friendly, charity-minded social clubs have sprung up in Disney fandom. They dress in disnefied versions of biker wear, gather together in Disneyland, help people out, and keep each other company. I encountered the Neverlanders several times last year when I had a residency at Disney Imagineering, and I loved the way they blended counterculture and fandom. A long, smart piece about the clubs in OC Weekly traces their history and growth -- fuelled by Instagram -- and the way they encountered mainstream Disney fandom through message-boards and in the parks.

As the article notes, there's a long history of counterculture at Disney parks, from the Yippie invasion to the goth takeover of Tomorrowland prior to the New Tomorrowland renovation. This sort of thing was my direct inspiration for proposing a fan takeover of Disney in Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, and the goth redesign of Fantasyland in Makers.

The presence of counterculture/bohemians in Disneyland shows how appropriation runs in two directions, and also points to a new direction in fraternal organizations. The activities of Disneyland's social clubs -- Neverlanders, Pix Pak, Black Death Crew, Main Street Elite -- would be recognizable to my grandparents, who were active in groups like Kiwanis and B'nai Brith, and who unwound with their friends through bowling and card-games and multi-family picnics.

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Dispatch from Disneyland: essays from an Imagineer's grandson who crew up in the park


John Frost writes, "I am the author of TheDisneyBlog.com, which Boing Boing has linked to many times over the years. My's grandfather was one of Walt Disney's Imagineers who helped carve Disneyland out of Southern California Citrus Groves. Every summer of my youth, my's family drove down from Portland, OR to experience Walt's park. So when I thought about writing a book, Disneyland seemed the natural subject. Originally funded via Kickstarter, Dispatch from Disneyland is my love letter to The Happiest Place on Earth. The collection of short stories, essays, and interesting facts will make you laugh, cry, learn and most of all wish you were at Disneyland right now."

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Hand-painted Haunted Mansion shoes


Artist Rachelliles352's Deviantart profile is full of gorgeous hand-painted shoes. Of course, my favorite set are these custom-painted Haunted Mansion high-tops -- there's a wonderful line there, and some sweet color-sense.

Custom Disney Haunted Mansion Magic Kingdom Shoes

The Haunted Mansion, the Haunting, and "Boo" vs "Brr" in spook-house design


Long Forgotten, the very best Haunted Mansion blog on the net, has a stellar piece on the influences that went into the Haunted Mansion's scary corridor of doors, and the delicate balance the corridor strikes between two different kinds of scariness, called "Boo" and "Brr." The piece starts from the premise that the Imagineers who designed the Haunted Mansion were heavily influenced by the 1963 classic horror film The Haunting (the film adaptation of Shirley Jackson's horror novel The Haunted of Hill House, later remade as a 1999 film with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Liam Neeson). This isn't a very controversial idea, as there are many parallels between the Mansion and The Haunting, though Long Forgotten finds some particularly subtle and fascinating lifts I'd never seen mentioned before.

More interesting, though, is the way the corridor -- and the Mansion itself -- slides from "Boo" to "Brr" as you pass through it, and the ways that subsequent fine-tunings and renovations have changed this calculus. As with all of Long Forgotten's pieces, it's a very well-argued and illuminating piece of design criticism that made me rethink something with which I'm very familiar in a totally new light.

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Haunted Mansion Valentines

From the wonderful mind of Yeah-Disneygeek, a fine selection of Haunted Mansion Valentine's Day cards!

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Printable Haunted Mansion tombstone templates


Spoonful's Haunted Mansion Cupcake recipe comes with a set of printable tombstone templates that you can print to cardstock and use to garnish your carb-delivery-vehicles. But they'd also be great for other projects: graveyard dioramae, lapel badges, etc and so forth.

Haunted Mansion Cupcake Tombstones

(via The Haunted Mansion Disney)

Walt Disney's purchase-order for Disneyland's petrified tree

One of the weirdest white-elephants at Disneyland is the petrified tree-stump in Frontierland, which Walt Disney bought after spotting it in Colorado Springs, where resident Jack Baker bought and sold fossils through his company Pike Petrified Forest Fossil. The Colorado Springs Gazette published a scan of Walt Disney's letter to Baker regarding the sale.

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Podcast: Imagineer Rolly Crump on designing the Haunted Mansion


Jeff sez, "On episode 5 of the DoomBuggies Spook Show podcast (MP3), designer Rolly Crump gives a very candid interview in which he talks about his career working on Disneyland's Haunted Mansion with Walt Disney at WED Imagineering, and tells personal stories including the time he spent working with co-tinkerer Yale Gracey designing special effects for the Haunted Mansion, and how he was drummed out of the Haunted Mansion project after Walt died."

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HOWTO make an animated Haunted Mansion-style crystal ball


This simple, effective "crystal ball" illusion is documented by Nikki on Ehow: basically, you put a video loop on your phone's screen, drape it in black cloth, and insert it into a crystal ball, and voila, you've got your own Madame Leota (or whatever video you choose), as seen in the Haunted Mansion at the Disney parks worldwide!

Super Simple Crystal Ball (via The Haunted Mansion Disney)

Haunted Mansion earrings

Etsy seller Migotochou created these earrings sporting custom Haunted Mansion beads inspired by the Disney ride's iconic wallpaper. (via The Haunted Mansion Disney)

Disney Princesses as Princes

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Delighted by The Crowned Heart's "Gay Disney" illustrations, Let There Be Doodles created a series of Disney "Princes." (via Laughing Squid)

Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Trail of the Unicorn by Carl Barks: Excerpt

Fantagraphics has announced the latest volume in its exemplary Carl Barks Disney Library. These full-color hardbound anthologies contain some of the very best comic book stories of all time. The latest volume is called Trail of the Unicorn and is available for pre-order. In the meantime, enjoy this 21-page PDF preview!

Disney podcast musical about menace of Michael Eisner

It's been two years since I first blogged Communicore Weekly, a great Disney podcast. Now, two years and 104 episodes later, they've launched an ambitious new project: Communicore Weekly: The Musical! It's a one-hour, fully orchestrated musical story about the battle against evil Michael Eisner.

Host Jeff Heimbuch writes: "Through the use of patent-pending time travel technology, Communicore Weekly was able to obtain an episode of the radio broadcast 'Theater On The Move' from the year 2215. In this episode, they are celebrating the 200th anniversary of Communicore Weekly: The Musical, and have brought the actors playing the pivotal roles of Jeff and George onto the show to discuss the lavish anniversary production and to share the music of the show."

Featuring all-new, all original songs from Amplify This Music (better known as the Communicore Weekly Orchestra), Communicore Weekly: The Musical will have you in stitches when you're not tapping your feet along to the catchy tunes.

'In the two years we've being doing it, we've really tried to make Communicore Weekly not just one of the most unique Disney podcasts, but one of the most unique podcasts out there, period. I've never heard of a podcast producing an entire musical before. Since we've always been a very musical show, it was a natural progression for us to actually produce a musical,' says Jeff Heimbuch, co-writer of the musical.

'Writing the music for the show is always a lot of fun, because the guys come up with some pretty crazy ideas. When faced with the challenge of writing original songs that fit into this ridiculous story, I absolutely could not turn it down. Plus, George is my brother, so it would have been really awkward if I had said no,' says Andrew Taylor, co-writer and musical genius.

'I like turtles,' says George Taylor, co-writer, 'But I hate squirrels.'

'My lawyer said I'm not allowed to comment,' says Steve Williard, co-writer and another musical genius.

Following in the footsteps of some of the greatest Disney films, by pairing a great story with fantastic music, Communicore Weekly: The Musical is sure to entertain people of all ages.

Communicore Weekly: The Musical (Thanks, Jeff!)

Minimalist Disney posters


Ironically, the field of minimalist posters has become rather cluttered. But some designs stand out from the noise, including Tony Sherg's Disneyland Minimalist set. Unsurprisingly, my favorites are the Haunted Mansion posters, but there's lots more to love there.

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Haunted Mansion fan-art


Ori Hartstein drew this great Haunted Mansion-inspired butler-and-maid scene, part of her series of Haunted Mansion pieces. I love the composition and character design here.

Disney’s Haunted Mansion-inspired cast member Maid and Butler art

Kickstarting turning Walt Disney's birthplace into a museum

Ricky sez, "Two theme park attraction designers have purchased the Chicago home in which Walt Disney and his brother Roy were born and lived until 1906. They have launched a Kickstarter project to fund the restoration of the house that was built by Walt's father Elias in the late 1800s to turn it into an historic landmark and high-tech museum. They are well on their way to their hefty goal of $500,000, aiming to complete the project in 1 year's time." (Thanks, Ricky!)

Why haunted houses have suits of armor


Over on Long Forgotten (a Haunted Mansion blog that is so fantastically great that every post is a cause for celebration), there's a new post about suits of armor and haunted houses that reveals (among other things) that the helmet of the famous armor by the Haunted Mansion's infinite corridor was originally an ornamental piece worn by Martin Luther's archenemy Albrecht von Brandenburg, the indulgence-flogging Archbishop of Mainz. What's more, there's a damned good reason why they only used the helmet (click through to find out why).

For me, though, the highlight of the piece was this excellent description of why suits are armor are inherently spooky:

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Papercraft Hatbox Ghost from the Haunted Mansion


Here's a downloadable papercraft version of the Hatbox Ghost, the semi-legendary animatronic ghost from the early days of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion. Great craft project for the long weekend!

Make Your Own Hatbox Ghost HERE!

More audio memoirs of Rolly Crump, pioneering Imagineer


Jeff sez, "After the success of It's Kind Of A Cute Story and More Cute Stories Vol 1, Disney Legend Rolly Crump is proud to announce the release of More Cute Stories, Volume 2: Animators and Imagineers (CD/MP3). This high-quality recording includes nearly an hour of all new stories about the people Rolly worked with at WED and the Disney Animation Department, as told by Rolly himself."

More Cute Stories, Vol 2: Animators and Imagineers

Disneyvision: strobing zoetrope holotank filled with glitchy rubber characters


I scored the damndest crapgadget yesterday: Disney's Disneyvision is a little box styled like a vintage TV. Where the tube would go is a flexible plastic wand attached to a variable motor, lit by a strobing white LED. You put a wiggly rubber 2" characters on the wand (effectively sticking the wand up its butt), turn on the motor and the light, and the strobe creates a zoetrope effect that makes it seem like the characters are energetically dancing.

But the damned thing is the variability -- the resonant frequencies of the characters' appendages kick in at different motor-intensities and the strobe-frequency produces even more surprising choices. There's a sweet spot where the characters appear to be in a kind of holo-tank, dancing or fluttering, but there's also a whole range of totally glitched-out possibilities in which the character flicker through what appears to be a kind of hilariously horrible video malfunctions.

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Disneyside's social media memefest

As previously mentioned, I’m doing a six-week stint with Disney Imagineering in Glendale, and today I got to spend the day hanging out at Disneyland for the launch of Disneyside, an initiative that asks Disney fans to share photos and videos of themselves having fun at the Disney parks.

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