Friday, July 19, 2013

Reflections at 36,000 Feet

No, really, I was at a conference.

First, I'd like to thank Southwest Airlines for keeping me on the Grid high over New Mexico right now. This blog post would not have been possible without them. What did we do before Internet access on planes? Napped, I suppose, or read trashy novels, or annoyed the passengers next to us.

After a busy week of traveling on the east coast, I'm finally winging my way back home in Las Vegas. While so many of my Disney comrades (perhaps you were one of them) celebrated Disneyland's birthday or made their way to the insanity of Comic-Con this week, I attended a conference in Cape Cod on behalf of my day job that is a necessary evil to pay for all my Disney indulgences. I can't say the conference was the most exciting event I've ever attended, but I will admit there are far worse places than Hyannis to do business in July. Soft ocean breezes and friendly drinking establishments do take the sting out of droning speakers and death by PowerPoint.

My trip was not without its share of Disney magic though.

A few days before fulfilling my conference obligations, I took a side trip to New York to visit my good friend Ron (a fellow Disney nerd, of course) and enjoy a whirlwind tour of the Big Apple, replete with subway rides and massive Times Square crowds. Last Friday night, I saw Motown at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre (fantastic music, cringe-worthy dialog) and dashed through the rain to experience the Disney Store on Broadway (which is pretty much just a large, noisy, overcrowded Disney Store). Saturday was when I really let my Disney dork flag fly, though. Hopefully, you'll recall back in May the conversation I began in The Mouse Castle Lounge with Sarah Ashman Gillespie, the younger sister of Disney songwriting legend Howard Ashman. Well, as luck would have it, Sarah lives not too far from New York City and was nice enough to meet me for lunch at the Cinema Brasserie just off Fifth Avenue. Sarah and I chatted for over two hours about life, the universe and Howard Ashman and I'm pleased to say she is every bit as gracious, charming and funny in person as she is over the phone. Don't expect our lunch to generate any new episode in the Lounge, however. This was purely a social visit and I purposely kept my recorder off. This was just a wonderfully pleasant conversation between friends.

The rusting hulk of the New York Pavilion.

I did get some show material out of my next adventure, though. Later in the afternoon I caught the 7 train out to Flushing Meadows to meet filmmaker Matthew Silva. Matthew is raising money to fund a documentary about the 1964-65 New York World's Fair, specifically the modern ruin that is the New York Pavilion. If you're not familiar with the Pavilion, you'll certainly recognize it if you've ever seen the movie Men in Black. The observation towers that the villainous bug climbs in an effort to escape Earth at the end of the film are in fact part of the New York Pavilion. And trust me, movie magic made them look far better than they look in real life. Nearly 50 years of neglect has caused the pavilion to rust and deteriorate and Matthew is among a group of earnest preservationists who are trying to save the few surviving remnants of the great Fair. Disney fans will remember the Fair as one of the watershed events of Walt Disney's career. It was here that he debuted some of his most iconic attractions: It's a Small World, the Carousel of Progress, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and the Ford Pavilion's Magic Skyway (which would be transplanted, in part, to the Primeval World at Disneyland). Matthew showed me around Flushing Meadows for several hours and we talked at length about the New York Pavilion. That, most definitely, will be in the next episode of The Mouse Castle Lounge. Look for it later this weekend. In the meantime, if you want to know more about Matthew's efforts--and maybe support the cause--visit

Okay, I'll be landing soon, so that's it for now. Disney adventures are great, but it's always nice to finally be home.


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