Magic Kingdom To Do List

In the next few months I’m making my way to Florida and will be checking out Disney World! Needless to say I am incredibly excited. In preparation for my trip, I have been researching like mad and have been making an insane amount of lists. Since all this research has made me incredibly excited, I thought I would share some of the things I am most looking forward to, park by park.

For all the people who have visited Disney World before, feel free to let me know if I have missed anything or if there are things I absolutely must do 😀

The below are some of the things that I have put on my to do list for Magic Kingdom in Disney World.

The_Haunted_Mansion

The Haunted Mansion

I should probably start off by saying I am not a thrill ride person, as soon as I hit any G-force, I feel sick.

Violently so…

So with this in mind, most of my Disney experiences will be ones that shy away from the big thrill rides, which is why I am looking forward to the Haunted Mansion so much!

Over 10 years ago I made my way over to Anaheim’s Disneyland and fell in love with the ride there. So being able to revisit and share the experience with my friends and partner is an exciting one. Continue reading “Magic Kingdom To Do List”

Top Five Fictional Libraries

LibraryMonthLibraries represent a world of open opportunities, the ability to not only learn but to immerse yourself in any number of worlds fictional or not. The library is a magical place and often it is within fictional worlds that this is demonstrated the most. Fictional libraries are often depicted as either realistic spaces in which characters retreat to learn or they are majestic and magical beings.
 
The libraries that are featured within this list have been taken from a number of sources, ranging from films, television shows, books and even poetry. The libraries discussed within are huge and humble, magical and mundane, but what they all have in common is they all have a powerful presence. The libraries within this list all represent what is so wondrous about books and the libraries that house them. However, as with modern libraries, books are not all that lie within their shelves, there is so many possibilities within the buildings themselves. It is this potential that often sees fictional libraries held at a highly esteem, often at a magical and other worldly level.
 
So without further ado, here are my top five fictional libraries.
 
• Coming in at number five is: Belle’s Library from the Beauty and the Beast.

BelleLibraryThe library that The Beast presents to Belle is not only large but it is so incredibly beautiful. Within its walls are writing space, a fireplace and numerous spaces to just sit and read. The shelves that reach to the ceiling and the three levels and staircases used to access the books are so stunning. The amount of natural light and the soft blues of the decorating all combine to create a simply beautiful library. The fact that is a private, albeit royal, library makes it even more amazing.

There is a wonderful meme floating around that follows that while some children wanted the Prince, the library was what hooked people. For me, this could not have more true. While the film was not my favourite Disney film growing up as a child (Little Mermaid has that honour), Belle was the character I was most drawn too. ‘Her nose stuck in a book’ is something that strikes very close to home for me, so naturally the revelation of such a massive and beautiful library is one that created envious feelings. Indeed, in the idea of my perfect house, a library such as this was, and I will admit still, features quite heavily.

• In fourth spot is The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

The_Fantastic_Flying_Books_of_Mr._Morris_Lessmore_posterThe 2011, American short film tells the story of Mr Morris Lessmore as he finds and interacts with a magical library of flying books. Directed by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg, the film demonstrates the powers of not only books but that of storytelling. The Academy Award Winning piece is one that has made it onto this list because of its adorable depiction of a library populated by flying books.

Mr Morris, transported to the mysterious world by a hurricane, looks after the needs of the flying books all the while writing within his notebook. A lovely part of the short film is when other people of the world visit the library and take home a book; they go from being black and white characters, to multi-coloured, fleshed out ones. The books within the library literally colour and illuminate the people who read them. It is often the contents of a library that defines it, just as a special collection can become a defining feature of a library, so too is Mr. Morris’ library defined by its adorable flying books.

 

• Coming in at third is: The Library from Doctor. Who.

Doctor-Who-Silence-Library-PlanetIn episode eight of the fourth season, the Doctor (David Tennant) and Donna Noble (Catherine Tate – who I would argue is the best companion – please don’t kill me Dr. Who fans) visit the greatest library in universe. Within the planet sized library is a copy of every book ever created; in addition to the largest hard drive that holds not only the index of the library but a digital copy of every text. The sheer size of the library grounds is only trumped by the rich story telling that happens within the many library buildings.

Without giving away the whole plot of the episodes, the library is not only a glorious one but it is one that holds many secrets and dangers. The library is the largest in the universe, boasting a copy of every text ever created but it is also strikingly beautiful. Within many fictional library representations, the buildings themselves are described and represented as things of great beauty.

 

• In second place is the rather unusual, Library by Albert Goldbarth.

More of a metaphysical library than a ‘real’ fictional library (if you can even claim such a thing) the library in question is comprised simply of lines from a poem. Each sentence within the list poem, Library, begins with the line, ‘This book.’ Following this repeated line are a wide range of sentences that describe an even wider range of, one hopes, non-existent books. Each line and each new book described within the poem are what are used to create and make up the library of the title.

The very first line of the poem starts off as, ‘This book saved my life,’ and then continues to list many other books. The books included within the poem and ‘library’ range from the humourous (‘This book smells like salami’), to narrative based snippets (‘This book I stole from Cornell University’s Olin Library in the spring of 1976. Presumably, its meter’s still running. Presumably, it still longs for its Dewey’d place in the dim-lit stacks’), to the downright beautiful (‘This book poured its colours into my childhood so strongly, they remain a dye in my imagination today’). Not only is the poem an enjoyable read but each individual book and snippet featured within the poem are enough to create an immerse and diverse library.

 

• In first place is The Great Library featured within the Thursday Next books by Jasper FForde.

cover600x420Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series is an experience. The word creation and depth that the stories create is staggering. Set in an alternate universe, the protagonist Thursday Next finds herself at the mercy of a number of fictional issues. The whims of a villain, issues concerning space and time and the need to police the literary world are only the tip of the iceberg that is the world Fforde has created. Within this entire universe however is the Bookworld and within this world is The Great Library.

Run by the head-librarian, the Cheshire Cat (although now known as the Cat Formerly Known as Cheshire) the Great Library is described as having 52 levels, 26 upper and 26 lower levels (It should be noted that a Great Library exists for every language). Not only does the library house every manuscript ever published but it also housed every manuscript ever created

What sets the Great Library apart from other fictional libraries are the lower 26 levels. This area is known as the Well of Lost Plots and is where the unpublished manuscripts are kept. The abandoned novel of yours hidden safely away in your bottom drawer is in fact a living breathing world, occupied by the characters you have created. Not only does the library house this special collection but it often serves as the base of operations for the JurisFiction. The operation and operatives, Thursday Next herself included, police the activities and narratives of literature, making sure that plots are not changed and characters continue to perform their proper roles. Not only is the Great Library number one on the lost but the entire series comes highly recommended as they are all highly entertaining and vastly imaginative reads.

 

The libraries featured within this list are all ones that embrace the importance of libraries, with each one displaying different nuances of the purpose of libraries. Where The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore shows the transformative powers of libraries, Goldbarth and Fforde show the playfulness of such sites, indeed the Doctor Who library shows the immersion that can occur within library walls. However the libraries within the list exhibit a certain beauty and majesty which, seen primarily in Belle’s library, is something that all the fictional libraries within the list share. Just as libraries hold an important place within fictional works, so too do libraries hold a significant and important place within the world today.

Honourable mentions: The Pagemaster, Harry Potter, Unseen University Library from the Disc World series.

Guest Top Five Musical Productions

I was first introduced to the world of musical theatre when I was around five years old. Back then my Aunt would make a weekend out of it and we’d watch the classics on VHS. When I was seven, we moved onto visiting the theatre to watch some of our favourites and so my love of everything theatre related was born. Almost twenty years later, I still love the Arts and frequently head to Sydney to see productions. So today I want to share with you some of my favourite productions and just what makes them so great. Having gone to so many over the years, I’m going to limit this list to my top five, otherwise we could be here all day!

5. Next To Normal. ( Original Broadway cast includes: Alice Ripley, J. Robert Spencer, Louis Hobson, Jennifer Damiano, and Aaron Tveit).

Like many productions, I first came across this musical when browsing iTunes one day. On a whim I purchased the album and it’s been one of my favourites ever since. The music is beautiful, and the lyrics surprising. Unlike many musicals, this is not a musical for the faint hearted. In fact it is a gritty take on mental health and how that can affect an entire family structure. It speaks about loss, and feeling neglected, about being drugged, and choosing drugs. It features a broken family who are struggling to survive and what they endure to try and ‘right’ themselves. Stand out tracks include: ‘Who’s Crazy/My Pharmacologist and I’ ; ‘Perfect For You’ ; ‘I Miss The Mountains’ ; ‘Super-boy And The Invisible Girl’ and ‘Maybe (Next To Normal).’

4. Avenue Q (2009, Sydney Australia).

One of my best friends recommended this musical to me. Having never heard of it before, I was intrigued by the idea of puppets and people together on stage and jumped at the opportunity to go see it in Sydney. The plan at the time was to see it blind, having never listened to the soundtrack. This didn’t quite eventuate though, as I cracked the day before we were meant to see it, and listened once to the songs. I’m glad I did, because although I’ve been to a few musicals without knowledge of the songs (Jersey Boys), I felt the prior knowledge allowed me to take in the full story better. Not to mention gave me a bit of warning for what I was in for too. This musical is not for kids folks, and I admit to being dumbfounded when we noticed a father and his young daughter (I’m talking about at least ten) in the audience. I can only imagine there were a lot of questions the following day! Stand out tracks include: ‘Purpose’ ; ‘There’s A Fine, Fine Line’ ; ‘I Wish I could Go Back To Collage’ and ‘The Internet Is For Porn.’

3. Wicked (2010, Sydney Australia).

I first heard the songs from Wicked when I was in High School back in 2006 and I fell in love instantly. For close to a year, the soundtrack was blasted through my bedroom and my family in turn grew to know every single lyric. I hadn’t read the book at this stage and although I knew it was on Broadway, I’d never seen a clip or Youtube video of the performance. Thankfully, what I grasped from the soundtrack was somewhat close to the story line and I sat through the entire stage performance in awe. Although a bit sad that Sydney didn’t get the flying monkeys over the audience (Melbourne apparently were treated to this). This was the musical through which I was introduced to the extraordinary vocal talents of Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth, both of whose career’s I have followed since discovering the soundtrack. Stand out Tracks Include: ‘Gravity’ ; ‘Thank Goodness’ ; ‘For Good’ ; ‘The Wizard and I’ and ‘One Short Day.’

2. The Lion King (2014, Sydney Australia).

I know this production toured some ten years back, but I missed out on seeing it then. And I’ve mourned that loss out loud for years. So naturally when I heard the production was returning to Australia late last year, I quickly secured tickets for early 2014 and waited eagerly to see the most talked about musical. The costuming in this production was simply astounding – and although I’d been warned off this, it’s something entirely different to see costumes first more. I thoroughly enjoyed watching some of my favourite Disney characters being brought to life, even despite the few narrative changes. Stand Out Tracks: ‘Circle Of Life’ ; ‘I Just Can’t Wait To Be King’ and ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight.’

1. Mary Poppins (2011, Sydney Australia).

 I saw this production live in 2013 and was blown away by the talented cast. But what stood out for me even more was the incredibly unique and versatile set. You see, the Sydney production’s set was basically a house on stage that moved, with pieces attaching and detaching, opening and closing like a doll-house. I’ve never before seen something like it, and I expect I never will again. Also note worthy was Matt Lee’s performance, and his chimney sweep dance number on the streets roof tops. He even tapped upside down. The costuming was superb, and the songs and dance numbers uplifting. If it ever tours Australia again, I highly recommend you go see it. Stand Out Tracks: ‘Chim Chim Cheree’ ; ‘Step In Time’ ; ‘A Spoonful Of Sugar’ and ‘Suparcalifragilisticexpialidocious.’

So there you have it, my top five stage productions/musicals. I’m curious what would you include in your own list of favourite musicals/stage productions?

 

Guest reviewer Jess’ blog, The Never Ending Bookshelf, can be found here.