Episode 49: Matt the Marathon Man

Welcome back to Beyond the Berm for Episode 49!

If you have been following our adventures here (and if you haven’t, why not?), you know that Matt has been preparing for the Walt Disney World Marathon and the Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland. And if he completes both, he earns a Coast to Coast medal as well.

This past weekend was the Walt Disney World Marathon. Did Matt complete the marathon? Wouldn’t this episode have been titled differently if he didn’t? And if that doesn’t answer your question, how about this:


Listen in as Matt tells about his experiences along the run. Can running 26.2 miles actually be fun? It certainly sounds like it!

And best of luck to Matt and everyone else participating in the half marathon at Disneyland this weekend!

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runDisney Attire

On several podcast episodes, I’ve mentioned that I’ll be participating in the Walt Disney World Marathon and Star Wars Half Marathon. I’m often amazed at the creative attire that people come up with when running runDisney events. Usually, I just wear the tech T-shirt they provide as part of the event registration but this year I’ve decided to spice things up a bit and actually run in costume.

For the Walt Disney World Marathon, I’m running as the Big Cheese himself — Mickey Mouse. I’ll be sporting a solid black T-shirt, red shorts and yellow shoes. To accessorize, I’ve spray painted two buttons yellow and attached them to belt loops in my shorts. A pair of fuzzy white gloves and traditional Mickey ears completes the ensemble.

For the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon, I bought a Darth Vader costume T-shirt with cape from Target and will be pairing it with black shorts. I bought a Darth Vader helmet with Mickey ears at Disneyland and am borrowing my daughter’s Mickey light wand to act as a light saber. Black gloves, socks and shoes help me fulfill my turn to the Dark Side.

Neither of these outfits are particularly creative but are a fun way for me to participate in a runDisney event beyond simply running the distance. Of the two outfits, the regular Mickey is the most simple befitting the 26.2 miles I’ll have to endure while wearing it. I just hope the ears stay put, the 80-degree expected weather don’t make the gloves unnecessarily hot and the shoes turn out to be as much performance issue than just looking the part. The Darth Mickey will be more tricky with the rim of the helmet potentially striking my neck on every stride and the possibility that my light saber may be difficult to keep retracted. But as much as I’d like to pull decent times, I’m not running to win and these costumes will hopefully make the events even more fun than they already are.

~ Matt

A Review of the Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration

For many, many years now, it has been a family tradition to watch the Disney Christmas parade each year. It started way back when it was just the Walt Disney World Very Merry Christmas Parade and when it was broadcast live, way before it grew to the pre-taped show involving both Disneyland and Walt Disney World that it has become now.

This year, the show was called the Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration, trying to cash in on some of the Frozen hype that is still out there a year after the movie was first released. We don’t usually watch the show when it is actually broadcast, and this year was no different. So in the afternoon on Christmas day, the three of us along with my parents sat down to watch what we had recorded.

Here is the short review: We were all disappointed.

If you want the longer review, here it is:

Back in the old days, the focus was mainly on the parade, much like you would watch the Macy’s Parade on Thanksgiving. Joan Lunden and Regis Philben (or Alan Thicke way back in the early days) would give you a rundown of what you were watching. And then there would be some segments showing what was new in the parks for the upcoming year. Yes, it was a big two hour commercial for Walt Disney World, but it was a very well done commercial, one that would make me want to go back there as soon as possible.

The show has evolved over the years, including the previously mentioned inclusion of the Disneyland Resort and now even throwing in portions from Aulani in Hawaii and a little bit from Castaway Cay in the Bahamas, too. And if that were all that had changed, that would still be good. If it were done well.

But now, the main focus of the show seems to be one musical performance after another by a string of mid-grade musical entertainers, none of whom anyone in my family group that was watching cared anything about. Just one song after another, along with some try-to-make-you-cry segments about three different reunions at the Disney parks.

There were a few mentions here and there of upcoming things, such as Disneyland’s 60th anniversary celebration, but otherwise, there was very little focus on the parks and attractions. Oh yeah, they did show a few parade floats for a few seconds, too. But even with their editing, it still appeared that they brought out a few random floats and parked them to get some film footage, instead of actually showing scenes from the parade.

Yes, I know that “parade” is now nowhere in the title any more, and I’m actually fine if they don’t include any of the parade at all. But perhaps a more accurate title would be “People Singing Christmas Songs and Other Songs at Disney Parks.” Because that is about all that was.

As I mentioned earlier, for its entire run, the main purpose of the Christmas program has been to be a big, long commercial for the Disney parks. To make you want to experience all the fun that they have. To make you want to go there.

And this time, for me, it failed.

Disney on Turner Classic Movies

Last night, December 21, 2014, saw the premier of the Disney programming block on Turner Classic Movies (also known as TCM). Included in last night’s programming were some short cartoons; two episodes of the Disney television show; The Reluctant Dragon; Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier; The Vanishing Prairie; and Third Man on the Mountain. There was also a good bit of discussion about each of the shows with host Ben Mankiewicz and Disney film historian Leonard Maltin.


Due to the programming starting while we were at a church activity and running well into the night, I didn’t see the start or the end of it all. But that’s okay, because that is why DVRs were created. Actually, I didn’t set the DVR to record The Reluctant Dragon, because I have that on Blu-Ray now. But after watching what I did watch, I almost wished that I had recorded that one, too, just to make sure I didn’t miss any of Leonard Maltin’s comments about it.

The main thing that I did watch live last night was the end of Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier and the beginning of The Vanishing Prairie. Davy Crockett has always been a favorite of mine, and I like to tell people sometimes that the area where we live in Tennesseewas once represented by Davy Crockett in congress. Although obviously I wasn’t around to vote for him at the time. It was great to see his adventures in high definition. It is amazing how those old movies can still look so good all these years later.

I didn’t stick with The Vanishing Prairie all that long, because it started just before midnight for our local time, but I had forgotten how interesting those old nature documentaries actually were. I’ll have to watch the full show sometime in the near future.

Also, I thought it was interesting that The Disneyland Story, the first of the television episodes shown last night, included the Laughing Place scene from Song of the South. Later on after Davy Crockett, Ben and Leonard explained the context for some of the Native American stereotypes found in that movie. Could this new programming, complete with contextual explanations, mean that Song of the South could be shown in one of the future blocks? That is probably just a dream, but it would certainly be nice.

I am glad that they included Leonard Maltin in this, too. He is obviously a Disney fan as well as a historian, and his comments help the understanding of the casual viewer who may not be as familiar with Disney as some of us are.

TCM hasn’t yet said when the next Disney movies and shows will air or what they will be, but I am already looking forward to seeing what else they have in store for us. It is great to be able to see some of this classic Disney content once again!

Episode 48: Best and Worst of 2014

Welcome to the Beyond the Berm Christmas Extravaganza! Also known as Episode 48.

Christmas is almost here, and the year is winding down to a close, in case you haven’t noticed. So for this episode, we discuss some of the Best and Worst of 2014 in several different categories, some of them Disney related, and others of them more general. Listen in to see if you agree! And share some better ideas if you have them!

Matt also gives an update on his two upcoming runs, the Walt Disney World Marathon and the Disneyland Half Marathon, which are just a week apart from each other. Be sure to send him some encouragement, too!

Steve also mentions the first block of Disney programming on TCM, which is this Sunday, December 21. Be sure to set your DVR!

All this and more in Episode 48 of Beyond the Berm!

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Episode 47: This, That, and Some More

Welcome back to Beyond the Berm for Episode 47!

What did we talk about in this episode? Perhaps the better question would be what did we not talk about in this episode! We covered lots of ground, moving from topic to topic with some pretty interesting transitions. The new Star Wars trailer, Big Hero 6, the live-action Cinderella movie, Into the Woods, Frozen and its amazing year, Frozen stuff at the Disney parks, new life for The Great Movie Ride, Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. updates, Marvel  and Moana movie casting news, and so much more!


And we even threw in some history bits about Memphis Wrestling, too. Who is this Flex Kavana guy, and what does he have to do with Disney?


Find out in this episode! And that rumor about the Matterhorn replacing Harold the Abominable Snowman with a Wampa and the bobsled vehicles being changed to gutted out Tauntauns? Pretty safe bet that you won’t hear that anywhere else!

All that and even more is in Episode 47 of Beyond the Berm!

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New Life for the Great Movie Ride

In recent episodes of Beyond the Berm, we have discussed what the future might hold for Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World. We have talked about rumors of Cars Land and a Star Wars area, we mentioned the closing of the Backlot Tour and the great amount of land that the closure made available, and we recently talked about the confirmation that the Sorcerer Hat would be coming down in 2015.

Last week, we got another piece of the puzzle, as it was announced that Turner Classic Movies will sponsor the Great Movie Ride, one of the signature attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and that the attraction would even receive some minor upgrades. Those upgrades mainly include a new pre-show movie hosted by TCM personality Robert Osborne  to replace the trailers that had been showing for over 25 years, and also a new film montage at the end of the ride featuring lots of new movie clips that hadn’t been included before. Wouldn’t it be nice if they also wrote a new script for the “drivers” in the attraction? Yes, it would. Maybe they will.

Personally, I am excited about this. And I think one of the things that I am most excited about is that they aren’t talking about major changes to the ride, but instead they will largely leave it as it is, which is nice because it is still a good ride. I am glad they aren’t pulling out some of the classic movies from MGM and other studios to replace them with more contemporary Disney movies. I like that films from other studios are represented, so that it isn’t just the Great Disney Movie Ride.

Chinese Theater

Before the Disney-MGM Studios opened, the attraction that interested me the most from all of the pre-opening publicity was the Great Movie Ride, mainly because it sounded like it would include lots of Audio-Animatronics, a ride, and perhaps some surprises along the way. In short, everything that makes for a good Disney attraction. And when I finally got to ride it just a couple of months after the park opened, I was not disappointed. The Wicked Witch animatronic from The Wizard of Oz was spectacular, as were several of the other figures, although some featured relatively limited animation. The sets and sound effects transported you into the movies that they were meant to represent, instead of just making you feel like you were looking in on something from the outside. And the next generation of the ride system originally used in Epcot’s Universe of Energy was cool, too. Add in to that the fact that there were two different versions of the ride, depending on if you ended up in the western scene or the bank robbery scene, and that made it even better. And real fire, too!

I know the Great Movie Ride may not supply the same thrills found in high speed or high altitude attractions such as the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror that were added later elsewhere in the park, but I still thought it was a vital part of the attraction mix. Except for some of the corny script versions that have been used, I have thought it has held up well over time.

great movie ride poster

Perhaps now with some sprucing up and more visibility, the attraction will once again be one of the centerpieces of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Now we know why the Sorcerer Hat is coming down – so that the Chinese Theater will be visible again. And some of the news outlets have confirmed that the Chinese Theater facade is in fact staying, since we and others have speculated that it might be changed out for something else. That is all good news.

And even better news is that as part of this partnership between TCM and Disney, classic Disney programming will be shown on TCM as well, in a presentation called Treasures from the Disney Vault. Already mentioned are classic movies such as Darby O’Gill and the Little People, Pollyanna, The Three Caballeros, Davy Crockett, and more, including shorts and episodes from the old Disney television show. For those of us who used to enjoy this type of programming when it was on the Disney Channel and lament on what the Disney Channel has now become, this is quite welcome news. Look for the first Treasures from the Disney Vault on December 21, 2014.

To read more about this news, check out the stories from Disney23, the Orlando Sentinel, and the New York Times, which first reported the deal.

Episode 46: More Marvel, Influences, and Disney Or Not?

Welcome back to Beyond the Berm! Won’t you join us for Episode 46 of our podcast?

To start with this time around, we talk about some of the latest developments on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is one of the few scripted shows that we both watch. This season is striving to be even more exciting than the first, although we both enjoyed the first season as well. Have you watched it? What do you think? Also, Matt tells about catching up on movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that he hadn’t previously seen, and gives his thoughts on those.


Next, Matt asks and Steve answers about how he first became interested in Disney, and we talk about some of our earlier influences before Disney, including and especially Star Wars. How did you start to get interested in Disney? We would love to know!

After that, Steve tells of the dilemma he sometimes has for his website posts. He wants to post a wide range of things, but the Disney-related posts consistently get more views. Should he post what he likes, or post what guarantees visitors? What are your thoughts?

All this and lots more! And if you listen closely, at some points there is even some background music courtesy of Jaylin and his piano practice for the night.

Be sure to join us for Beyond the Berm Episode 46!

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Imagine My Surprise …

As mentioned in Episode 45, I saw one of my photographs of Sleeping Beauty Castle being used on a digital display inside the Grand Californian lobby. This came as a bit of shock to me as I’d never been asked for approval or had it licensed but there it was anyway.

The board with my image …

And my photo on its own …

Although I have this image posted on my Flickr account, I’m fairly confident that whoever posted this at the Grand Californian did not get it from there. This is the same image that a second-grade student had used in their project on Walt Disney at my daughter’s elementary school the year before. Doing a Google image search for “Disneyland” retrieves this image as one of the top returns but the link to the image doesn’t go to Flickr but to some travel website instead.

Short of watermarking my images — or keeping them to myself — trying to retain the right to my copy is probably a bit of losing battle. While I own the copyright to my images, my writings and even the recording of my voice for this podcast, in this day and age of “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission,” I’m sure I’ll see my work around from time to time. So rather than be upset that my Sleeping Beauty Castle image was usurped, I’ll feel proud instead that whoever was collecting images for the Grand Californian thought that this was one of the best representative images of Disneyland that they could find. But if the hotel wants to contact me and offer me the Presidential Suite for the weekend anyway, I won’t complain. ;)


Episode 45: It’s Marvel-ous!

Happy Halloween from Beyond the Berm! Not that our new episode really has anything to do with Halloween, except that it is being posted on October 31. Scary!

Anyway, Episode 45 starts off with lots of talk about the upcoming movies from Marvel Studios. First up is Avengers: Age of Ultron. Have you seen the trailer yet? If not, or if you want to see it again, here it is:

We talk about the trailer, and then we talk about all the Marvel movies that were announced this past week, revealing what is coming up all the way to 2019! Some familiar names like Captain America, Thor, and Guardians of the Galaxy, along with some new names like Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and the Inhumans. It all sounds pretty cool!

Next up, Matt talks about having some of his photos used in various places, including the surprise of seeing one of his photos at the Grand Californian Hotel at the Disneyland Resort. Hear all the story in the podcast!

After that, Steve reports on the recently confirmed news of the removal of the Sorcerer Hat from Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2015. Are they just removing the hat, or are there other changes coming to the area, too? Stay tuned!

Matt then brings up Big Hero 6, because his family is attending an advance showing of the movie this weekend. Are you looking forward to that one? That leads to a discussion of a long rumored but recently officially announced animated movie, Moana, from directors John Musker and Ron Clements. Aside from a piece of concept art and a rough outline, not much is known about this one yet. But Ron and John have a pretty good track record, so we are hopeful for another great movie from them.


See, no ghosts or ghouls this time around, just some good clean fun! Be sure to join us for Episode 45!

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