Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Artwork for the Children's Theater: T-Shirts & Posters!

Modeling my fashion line at a Children's Theater near me.  With my boys after a performance of "Disney's The Jungle Book Kids" wearing the cast T-Shirt with my drawing on it.
  When we first moved to North Carolina my son Presley was befriended by a classmate who had an interest in children's theater. Our family was invited to one of her plays; an original adaptation of "Alice in Wonderland". This was followed by seeing her in a production of "Disney's The Little Mermaid, Junior". At first Presley seemed very content as a spectator only, but at some point he was convinced to audition for an adaptation of "Oliver Twist". He was cast, and well he discovered that he really loved acting. Our corner of North Carolina has a very active community theater scene and he alternates between two companies-"Activate Community Through Theater" or "ACT" and the "Mooresville Community Children's Theater" or "MCCT".  I was eventually converted from a Parent Volunteer to a member of the Board of Directors of  MCCT.  It has been a fun experience being involved in the "behind the scenes" activity of the MCCT.  I have already shared some of the large paintings I've done and I also contribute graphic art for the needs of the productions; posters, logos, T-Shirts.

  If I search my memory far enough I'd have to say I wanted to be a cartoonist, this morphed into an ambition to be a production designer(stage/film/TV), which led to "a career in ARCHITECTURE". Being a person who "was Born 40" I haven't changed much over the years, I'm pretty much the same person I was when I was 6 calendar years old. Or to put it another way I draw in an architectural style heavily influenced by film/tv with a dash of cartoonist thrown in. I emphasize bold line work, heavy geometry and bold use of color.

See that little doodle hanging from that banner, I drew that! 

  For  MCCT's Princess and the Magical Pea I came up with a logo that looks like the famous stacked mattress canopy bed.  I wanted bright, punchy colors since it is a fairy tale and it is a children's theater production. I was just learning to use "Paper by 53" a very intuitive sketching app for iPADs. I can't recommend this enough, it's like having an unlimited supply of fresh Prismacolor markers at your disposal. I do all the artworks using this app. The logo went on posters, street banners and a T-Shirt. Presley played an orphan in the ensemble, we developed his backstory and he named himself  the very Victorian sounding "Ezra Preble".

Picnic with the Peanuts for "Your'e a Good Man, Charlie Brown", this my sketch and it is an original composition.  Not for profit, fair use, etc.

For MCCT's production of "You're a good man, Charlie Brown" a logo was needed for the related fundraising/promotional party that traditionally accompanies our plays. This was to be "A Picnic with the Peanuts gang". So I drew an original sketch of some of the gang having a Picnic with a joyful Snoopy dancing on the table. This ended up being on the cast t-Shirt.

Another one of my banner attachments, this one was hanging on Main Street (Mooresville), U.S.A.!

For MCCT 's "Disney's Jungle Book Kids" I designed an original artwork  that was adapted for posters, street banners, and the cast T-Shirt. I also did a large format lobby painting (I did a separate post on my paintings). I used jungle temple ruins as a frame and as a place for the show title. The characters were then arranged around this frame. Mowgli on Baloo floating on a river, Shere Khan hiding in the grass, Bagheera watching Baloo from above. Colonel Hathi in the distance and the Vultures on a tree branch over it all. Presley had 2 wonderful scene chewing parts, that of Col. Hathi: leader of the elephants and as "Bill, a Vulture" who hoped to eat the carcass of the man cub.  He also was in the Jungle ensemble as a tree, three parts in this one!

"Pencil & Marker" Sketch using Paper by 53 APP

I love drawing so being able to do these has been a real joy. These are my original compositions, done as a volunteer with a non-profit organization which held the appropriate licenses for the various theatrical productions. So no copyright infringement was meant.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Walking right down the middle of Main Street, U.S.A.

With the Roy O. Disney & Minnie statue looking down Main Street, U.S.A. from Town Square, Magic Kingdom, WALT DISNEY WORLD, Florida.  Note size of Castle and this is from Town Square.
  Frank Lloyd Wright called Architecture the "Mother Art"....because all other arts had to go through it, and so in that spirit I pull just about everything I love(Disney, Cars, Theater, Film, TV.) through this blog using that justification. I am obviously a huge Disney nut, I come by it honestly as I grew up in a Disney household. We went to Disneyland at least once a year, and my folks were always sharing Disney movies with us. Their Disney love went back to their childhoods too. My parents are from the same small mining town (Morenci, Arizona) and although they didn't  start dating until they had both ended up in Southern California they have known each other since childhood. My Mom and my Dad's sister were in the 5th Grade together and their friendship started with an outing to see a re-release of Walt Disney's Cinderella at their local theater.

Looking down Main Street, U.S.A. from about half way down, DISNEYLAND, California.  Note the size of the castle and this is almost 3/4ths down Main Street.
  My great Aunt was a school teacher in San Bernardino, California in the 50's and my Dad and his siblings would come visit from Arizona during breaks from school. Dad has tons of Disneyland stories from way back. My great Aunt took them on their first trips to Disneyland. He would talk of going when they had the circus...which was so short lived that it was only in operation over the Christmas holiday from Dec. 1955- Jan. 1956. That was how I was able to determine that he first went to Disneyland in it's opening year, not bad for some kids from a tiny town in eastern Arizona. Some of my earliest memories are of Disneyland, and I imagine it will be the same for my children, if you love it, truly love Disney I think it is something you can't help but pass on to your kids. Walt Disney became a childhood hero of mine, there was something about the story of a kid who likes to draw who goes on to do great things that was terribly attractive to this daydreamer. Our second son's middle name is Elias both as a tribute to my wife's family and to Walter Elias Disney.

Looking down Main Street, U.S.A. from Cinderella Castle across The Plaza, Magic Kingdom, WALT DISNEY WORLD, Florida. Note the flag poles and cupolas and generally fancier "gingerbread" architectural detailing on the buildings. 
  Southern California in the 50's is a place with a lot of transplants from the midwest and east and here they were living in this sort of magical desert with eternal spring and summer and ground that if you added water would grow anything.  I think Disneyland grew out of that, after living on the east coast for a few years now I can see how it generated feelings of nostalgia and reassurance to transplanted Midwesterners and East Coasters. A large portion of it is essentially a petting zoo of the rest of America, you have the small town Main Street that could be anywhere, the Rivers(and forests) of America, and Frontierland,  If you watch old episodes of Walt Disney's anthology TV show you will see in the shows filmed at Disneyland many more older people just taking the place in than you are likely to today.  At some point there has been a shift from being nostalgic about the settings of Disneyland to being nostalgic about Disneyland itself.

Looking down Main Street, U.S.A. across Town Square from in front of Train Station, DISNEYLAND, California. Note the size of the Castle and this is looking across Town Square.
  "Main Street, U.S.A." is that wonderful gateway to the Magic Kingdoms, it's been said that Disneyland is like a movie that the guest stars in, the tunnels beneath the train tracks are like the darkness in a theater right before the curtain pulls back and the credits begin. So "Main Street, U.S.A." acts as a kind of opening credits(which is why the names on the windows honor folks who designed and built and ran the parks).  It also acts as transition from the real world to the fantastic worlds of the rest of the park.

Looking down Main Street, U.S.A. from edge of The Plaza, DISNEYLAND, California. Note the brick, mansard roof/attics, awnings, fewer turrets & cuppolas.

  In the 1950's a Victorian turn of the century Main Street would have been something still fresh in many people's memories(as it was for Walt Disney). Southern California has many downtown streets next to a railroad line(sort of like "Main Street, U.S.A." but without the churros) like much of the country, but by the 50's they probably had been stripped of much of their charm. There was the spread of automobile-centric design, shopping centers with large parking lots ("strip malls"). You might find yourself parking in front of one store and because of the size of the parking lot getting back in your car and driving to park in front of another store in the same center.  The intimacy of the streetscape with sidewalks and shops lining it that you walk between was being lost. Disneyland had a part in reviving that tradition.

Horse drawn trolley and motor bus in front of Main Street Train Station, DISNEYLAND, California

  Today I think Main Street exists in the popular imagination not so much as a shared past but as a Disney concept.  But it is still a powerful concept and it's appeal can be seen in the spread and success of "Lifestyle" shopping centers.(Like "The Grove" in Los Angeles a newer shopping center that even has a Trolley going down an artificial street!) The secret is in a visually interesting place("Main Street U.S.A." buildings have tons of detail, cornices and molding and lights and trim around the windows/doors) with varying sights and sounds and being able to walk it comfortably. The Disney version of Main Street is idealized; it's not a false memory but the way things should be.

East side of Main Street, U.S.A., DISNEYLAND, California. Note how the windows are slightly smaller as you look at each floor of the buildings.  In reality this is a two story building, but the window detailing makes it look as much as four stories tall.  This is what is meant as "Forced Perspective"
  I've always loved "Main Street, USA", having been a fan of model railroading, and after all what is Disneyland but a slightly larger model railroad. It is said that it is(very) loosely based on the impressions Walt Disney had of his hometown of Marceline, Missouri. This is really only true in that it recalls the small town downtowns found next to many railroad depots. The buildings were Art Directed by Disney Artist Harper Goff who worked in the architectural details of the buildings of Fort Collins, Colorado (his hometown) into those he designed for Disneyland.  Fort Collins was a colorful, prosperous town with buildings that have a lot of "gingerbread" detail, with turrets and cupolas you see at Disneyland. Walt's Marceline was far more modest, with much simpler brick buildings.   

Looking down Main Street, U.S.A from Town Square, DISNEYLAND, California.  Note size of Castle and this is from Town Square.
Looking down Main Street, U.S.A. from in front of The Emporium, Magic Kingdom, WALT DISNEY WORLD, Florida. Note the size of the Castle and this is from just past Town Square.  Also note how much more architectural trim and detail there is, more turrets & cupolas, and flagpoles.
  At very quick glance the Main Streets at Disneyland and Walt Disney World seem the same.   While they both try to portray an idealized turn of the century "Anywhere, U.S.A." environment, the scale, character, and detail are very different.

"Main Street, U.S.A." at Disneyland

  At Disneyland, Main Street is a small town, the buildings while charming and detailed are not particularly grand.  It evokes middle America with liberal doses of Victorian (Second Empire) Architecture.  Second Empire architecture has mansard rooflines(those sloping upper floors with roof surfaces but still with windows) and turrets or towers. A very popular style in the late 1800's.

Main Street Train Station from entry plaza("Esplanade"), DISNEYLAND, California.  Note tall clock tower at right, subtle wood trim details and dormers.
Main Street Station from Town Square, DISNEYLAND, California.  Note clocktower to the east, stairs leading up to station, window dormers.

  There is a simple but elegantly composed railroad depot at the head of the street. The depot is my favorite building on Disneyland's Main Street. It has an asymmetrical composition with the tower situated on the East side of the building.

Opera House, Main Street, U.S.A., DISNEYLAND, California
 There is a handsome opera house on one side of a Town Square and on the opposite side is a handsome Town Hall with a charming fire station where Walt Disney kept a second floor apartment.

Disneyland City Hall, Main Street, U.S.A., DISNEYLAND, California
Fire Station, Main Street U.S.A., DISNEYLAND, California.  The second floor of this building housed a small private apartment for Walt Disney and his family.
  The street continues towards Sleeping Beauty Castle in the distance past The Emporium on the West and the Main Street Hotel on the East.  Along both sides of the street are various storefronts of different composition but still in various Victorian Styles.

The Emporium, Main Street, U.S.A., DISNEYLAND, California.  Note the stone detailing, awnings, third floor mansard roof and the tower. 
  These buildings are famously built using "Forced Perspective" in that the first floor is built nearly full scale, and each floor above is slightly smaller in scale so that the building seems taller than it really is because the smaller windows higher up make you think they are farther away.  The overall effect is that you think you are surrounded by 3 story(and taller) buildings but they are really only 2 stories tall.  The Castle uses the same trick to look like it is 100's of feet high while only being about 77 feet tall.  At Disneyland the Castle looks small, or to put it another way it looks really far away.  

"Main Street, U.S.A." at Walt Disney World(Magic Kingdom)

  The "Main Street, U.S.A." at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World is like the entire resort; much, much bigger.  The time setting is still the same but we are no longer in a small, modest town. Magic Kingdom Main Street is a large, prosperous, East Coast resort town.  It is horse country meets seaside resort (Upstate New York, Cape May, New Jersey) and every building is larger and more ornately detailed. The designers came from 20th Century Fox where they had done the amazing production design for the "Hello, Dolly!" film musical.
  In a previous post I detailed the extraordinary arrival sequence to the gates of the Magic Kingdom. Since Magic Kingdom is on the shore of a large lagoon and lake and arrival is by ferry boat or monorail the buildings were scaled to be seen from a distance.  Cinderella Castle is enormous and is visible from across the water, but as you get closer and closer it somehow manages to disappear!

Main Street Station from entry plaza, Magic Kingdom, WALT DISNEY WORLD, Florida.  Note the central clocktower with much more elaborate and formal "gingerbread" detailing.  
   At the head of Magic Kingdom Main Street is the handsome and imposing Main Street shares the same colors and overall effect of the Disneyland station but here you will find a symmetrical composition.

Main Street Station as seen from Town Square, Magic Kingdom, WALT DISNEY WORLD, Florida.  Note: Stop counting the Dwarfs and note the elaborate metal structure in place of California's open staircase.  All of the detailing is much richer and elaborate which suggests that WALT DISNEY WORLD Main Street, U.S.A. is a larger city, a "sophisticated" East Coast Resort and not a perfectly respectable middle American hamlet.
Same view seen from night, with the Seven Dwarfs out of the way we can now see that Main Street Station has both covered and exterior stairs(needed for the harsher Florida climate and because this is meant to be a more substantial station for a more prosperous town than the one represented at DISNEYLAND.)

  There is a highly detailed tower at the center of the building. The station is based on a real depot that was in Saratoga Springs, New York; a horse racing resort town.  I believe the centered/symmetrical design gives the station the size and presence that allows the Castle to be obscured. You lose sight of it enough to be surprised by it later.

Magic Kingdom City Hall, WALT DISNEY WORLD, Florida. This is a much more imposing structure than the one found at DISNEYLAND.  The columns are beefier, and there is more stonework detail just about everywhere.  The directive at WALT DISNEY WORLD was more, more, more.
  Town Square is flanked by a grander City Hall and Fire Station, and in place of the Disneyland Opera House is an extremely elegant and ornate "Town Square Theater".  It has a dramatic 2 story porch and is modeled on resort hotels from the time period.

Town Square Theater, Main Street, U.S.A., Magic Kingdom, WALT DISNEY WORLD, Florida.  This is modeled on a hotel, which is why you see balconies along the second and third floors.  While the architectural detailing is heavily Victorian with curlicues and gingerbread the massing of the building and the double height porch recall the riverside elevation of George Washington's Mount Vernon.

  This is probably my favorite building at Magic Kingdom Main Street, it has lots of gingerbread decor but it also recalls the grand piazza of George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate.

The Emporium seen from in front of City Hall, Main Street, U.S.A. Town Square, Magic Kingdom, WALT DISNEY WORLD, Florida.  Note again the use of a a double height("2-story") porch with paired columns and gingerbread detailing.  This style is often associated with great seaside resorts of the late nineteenth century and is not the sort of architecture you would find in your average American town.  

  The Emporium at Magic Kingdom is also noticeably more spectacular than it's Disneyland counterpart, it also having a dramatic 2 story corner tower and arcade.  Many of the buildings at this Main Street have these giant 2 story porches.

The Emporium, Main Street, U.S.A., Magic Kingdom, WALT DISNEY WORLD, Florida.  Note again the 2-story porch, complete with giant gazeebo corner entrance. Compare with the handsome but far less ornate DISNEYLAND Emporium.
  Once you clear the Town Square you immediately notice the magnificent Cinderella Castle. Cinderella Castle is almost 200' feet tall, but it looks and feels like it is 1000' tall thanks again to the use of Forced Perspective.  The Castle at Disney World is over 100' feet taller than the castle at Disneyland, it's even taller than the Matterhorn.

Cinderella Castle as seen from about 2/3rd the way down Main Street.  Magic Kingdom, WALT DISNEY WORLD, Florida. This is approximately from the same spot on  DISNEYLAND's Main Street as the second picture on this post.  

   None of this is to suggest that Disney World is better than Disneyland but just to illustrate how it is different and not as many assume simply an East Coast Disneyland. I have found that I love them both!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Let me paint you a picture

This was sort of a lobby display for our production of the Jungle Book.  It is acrylic paint over a 4' x 8' sheet of rigid insulation foam. 
 In the past year I became involved with the Mooresville Community Children's Theater.  Through connections with that group I have been called upon to do various designs: sets, posters, T-Shirts, backdrops. I'm not really a painter, in the past I always sketched and colored in the sketches with pencil & markers, later I would use illustration programs to color my sketches in so I never had painted before.
This is acrylic paint over a 8' x 6' sheet of cardboard.  This was a backdrop for a talent show performance of "Part of your world" from The Little Mermaid.
These are typically large paintings...the Jungle Book is nearly 4' x 8', and the Mermaid Grotto is 8' x 6'.  Recently I painted on a giant bolder 5' x 12'. That was tougher than I thought it would be, mainly because of the different textures, some parts of the rock had a stucco like surface.  It's been fun and I think they came out better than I expected.
This is house paint over a giant 12' x 4' bolder.  These are cartoon character versions of "Dan and Phil", they started out as British Radio performers and are now some sort of You Tube stars.
As a disclaimer I'll add that all of this was done as a volunteer, there was no profit involved, and no copyright infringement is meant as these are my own drawings/paintings/interpretations.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Presley's Little People Blog: Happy 45th Anniversary Walt Disney World

A view of the magnificent Cinderella Castle taken from "Liberty Square" at Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World, Florida. I took this picture June, 2015 on my first trip to Walt Disney World.

Over at the Toy blog there is a celebration of Walt Disney World's 45th Anniversary.

Take a look:

Presley's Little People Blog: Happy 45th Anniversary Walt Disney World: 1980's Playmates Toys Disney Magic Kingdom Castle Playset with Fisher-Price Magic of Disney Toys from 2015

Friday, April 22, 2016

Journeys to magic kingdoms


This is the idealized view of Disneyland from the opening credits of the 1954 Disneyland TV Show, essentially it is the view that introduced Disneyland to the world.  It is a glamorized view of what it was like to approach Disneyland before the construction of Disney California Adventure, a view from the parking lot if you will.  While this view no longer exists in California and never really did it(You cannot see the Castle looming over Main Street Station at Disneyland) it does basically in fact exist in Florida...and it is spectacular.
I have been guilty of overdosing on Disney Fan Blogs and podcasts lately. Some of them have exhaustively researched articles and near academic writing. This has left me wanting to do a series of posts on the Disney Parks but these will be more of a personal exploration, a memoir of my Disney experiences informed by my background in Architecture. I feel a tremendous sense of "loyalty" to the original Disneyland, and yet I really loved Walt Disney World. As I started to think about it what I found so enchanting about Walt Disney World were the things that built upon and improved on Disneyland, and  the elements at The Magic Kingdom that remind me of things you no longer find in California. Comparisons between Walt Disney World and Disneyland fascinate me. The Disneyland Resort is the anchor of the resort district in the city of Anaheim; Disney World is essentially its own city, complete with its own infrastructure...highways, water systems, even transit. The expansions of the California property in the last 16 years have still not balanced the scales, Disney World is truly enormous. It was often said that it was "Twice the size of Manhattan".  There is the famous "Disney Bubble"; the total separation from the outside world. Disneyland arguably has more charm, intimacy and historical is the first park and Walt walked the finished product.

Walt Disney World has its own infrastructure just like a "real" city- roads & highways, water, sewer & power, etc.  This is a water system fixture I took a picture of because it was so cool with the name and original World logo cast into it.
Walt Disney wanted to build a place for families to enjoy together because when his children were young he found himself bored on park benches while they rode kiddie rides. That's one of the reasons, he was also the son of a contractor so he was probably a frustrated architect, he was definitely a model railroad enthusiast, had his own backyard ride on railroad and well probably wanted to move up to the next scale! In many ways Disneyland is a giant model railroad set.  He found some orange groves outside Los Angeles built his park and then watched as his success caused a land boom that locked him into his original purchase.

Arrival by car and seeing the park in the distance was a big deal, it was so memorable an experience that it was recreated in this scene from a vintage It's a Small World children's book.  I have fond memories of arriving at Disneyland by school bus- every year my Junior High School attended an evening private party at the park. I have no pictures of the view from the parking lot, I was too busy being a dumb kid to think "Hey someday they will build a second gate here so I should take pictures for a blog post I will write in twenty years".  So instead I took a picture of my TV while watching a DVD for the first picture and my son scanned this picture from the original book.

In California the original (1955-1998) arrival sequence was typically by exiting the 5 freeway at Harbor Blvd., even today that first glimpse of the Matterhorn is terribly exciting. Many times we approached from the east- via the 57 freeway exiting at Angel Stadium "Look! The Big "A"" and then proceeded to take Katella Avenue west until turning at Harbor. The big Disneyland Sign was another landmark that built up that feeling of anticipation. After suffering through the parking toll plaza you made your way to the gigantic surface parking lot. The parking lot now being the location of California Adventure Park which opened in 2001. It turns out  there is some nostalgia online for this lost parking lot.  I suppose I am slightly guilty of that...only I didn't realize it until getting to Disney World where they still have these gigantic surface parking lots. They brought back Disneyland memories.
Disneyland as seen from the original parking lot.  Thanks to for use of photo. As an aside I'm always so astonished at how bad the smog is in most vintage photos of Disneyland it is definitely something that has improved a great deal in Southern California.
Depending on where you parked there was a series of events in the landscape that marked your progress towards finally "arriving" at Disneyland. I recall that thrill when you got out of the car and finally saw north to the overall view of the Disneyland Railroad berm, the train station and Space Mountain. You then proceeded to pass under the outer monorail track and then the inner monorail track and then you'd reach the ticket booths and sneak that first view of the Mickey floral beyond the turnstiles. This sequence had a charm to it, in spatial terms it was a large open lot a "sea of asphalt" if you will, crossed by elevated monorail tracks with the park on "a shore" in the distance and to the west you made out the original Disneyland Hotel, looking south, and east you could make out the competitor hotels that had surrounded the park. I maintain that it wasn't the parking lot that made this was the experience of distant vistas, of transition as you passed under the monorail and the act of getting closer to the gate. In Florida this sequence was augmented considerably by the designed environment itself.
Walt himself from the "One Man's Dream" exhibit at Walt Disney World.  That big diagonal is I-4, the entrance was from the bottom of the property and the original Theme Park "The Magic Kingdom" is located way at the top left corner.
Walt Disney wanted to build a city, a real city of tomorrow, one where he could test the experimental planning concepts in vogue at mid century; to try to tackle the urban problems of the 1960's so the world might be a better place for his grandchildren. He set about to find a large amount of land, much more then he had in California and land he could buy cheaply. Walt Disney Productions wasn't in the development business per se, but Disneyland had been a phenomenal success and so he believed he could tackle the project. He understood that he would need a draw that would be the financial engine of the project and recognized the untapped east coast market for his kind of theme park. Accordingly The Magic Kingdom is placed in the farthest corner of the property so that folks would have to travel through his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow(or EPCOT) in order to get to it. Sadly Walt Disney died before he could spearhead the project, although he left behind a fairly detailed site plan/land use concept. They knew the new park was going to be bigger, an application of the lessons learned from over 10 years of operating Disneyland. The funny thing is Walt didn't care for sequels and was not nearly as interested in the new theme park as he was in his city. Walt Disney World would evolve away from a City of the Future into exclusively a resort...but if you look hard enough you can find remnants of that original vision.

We're here, we're finally here, I'm so excited I'll excuse the 1990's post modern excess.  The heart is in the right place- who doesn't smile at the sight of Mickey & Minnie! Even the freeways are nicer at Walt Disney World.
To get to The Magic Kingdom you exit I-4 onto World Drive, it may sound silly but I love World Drive...its practically a freeway.  You pass beneath the giant post modern "Welcome to Walt Disney World" arches...they are dated and scream 1990's but oh well it's still fun. Now you are "on Property" as they say, I swear it's the nicest freeway I've been on.  It's neatly landscaped, the only billboards are themed Disney attraction dioramas, monorails whiz by's very futuristic and you leave Orlando behind you with "The Monorail Song"(not The Simpson's version but the classic track from the 50's) playing in your head. I highly recommend streaming it off your phone as you travel towards The Magic Kingdom; it intensifies the experience!

Quality three dimensional billboards and a monorail track!  We're getting closer!

It's a pleasant drive and it's longer than you think it will be, but finally you get to the Magic Kingdom Toll Plaza.  Pass through and then you still have to drive a ways!

Take my money! Let me in, oh wait just scan my magic band.
There is even a Disney World Gas Station "Car Care Center" in Disneyspeak along the route until finally you arrive at.....the enormous surface parking lot. It sort of looks like the old Disneyland parking lot but without the convention center and ring of hotels looking down at you, here there is trees and that remarkable horizontal sweep of the Florida sky, it's a different light than California(not better not worse just different) and you still can't see the park. Depending where you park you either walk or Tram it to the very institutional sounding Ticket & Transportation Center or "TTC".

Anticipation builds as you repeatedly pass beneath multiple arches, a procession towards the park little by little leaving the real world behind. 
The TTC is designed in (to me anyway) this groovy late 60's Tomorrowland style that someone decided was not "magical enough" so they draped green, red, yellow and purple ribbon all over it. Personally I think it detracts, I hope they restore it someday as a relic of the original EPCOT has great bones. Here the monorails take you to the Magic Kingdom, most of the luxury resorts, or to "Epcot Park"(more on that in another post).

Mid-Century Swank meets 1980's festival marketplace at the Ticket & Transportation Center.  The Palm trees go through holes in the roof!

Now you can get to The Magic Kingdom by bus from your hotel or the Monorail from here but I think the best way to get the full effect is by ferryboat.
We have finally arrived at the TTC and have decided to take the ferry across Seven Seas Lagoon. The view is wonderful- to your left is the Tiki splendor of the Polynesian Village Resort, the lagoon has an island, beyond you see the Victorian elegance of the Grand Floridian Resort. Perhaps you spot a monorail entering the futuristic Contemporary Resort. But what entices you the most is that first glimpse of Cinderella Castle in the distance, standing gracefully seemingly at the edge of the clearly towers over everything else in sight.

Every lake I drive by now leaves me unimpressed because it doesn't have a 200' castle at the other side.

 As the ferry makes its way closer to the shore you start to make out the details...the Train Station, Space Mountain.
You can see these reflections in the water, the lagoon feels like an ocean as you travel further and further away from the real world, it is such an all encompassing experience and you haven't even entered the park yet! All around you is motion, the water, the boats, monorails and the Walt Disney World Rail Road.

The monorail, the Train Station & Railroad...the Castle looming over it all. I'm speechless at this point.
This whole experience can take like 45 minutes from star to finish but who are now at the shore of the most "Magical Place on Earth". Conceptually this is a similar experience to the original arrival procession to Disneyland. The distant view entices you from an open area surrounded by hotels and monorails but instead of a magic kingdom on the shores of a sea of asphalt you get a magic kingdom on the shores of an actual sea!

The view at night, my fuzzy picture does not do it justice but it is in fact that idealized view from the original Disneyland TV show.