Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Main Street in the Morning

For those of you who are morning people, the best place to be at in Walt Disney World is Main Street USA located in the Magic Kingdom.  There, you will enjoy some outstanding entertainment like the famous Dapper Dans, the Main Street Trolley show and other performances.  They are meant to slow people down instead of rushing to their favorite rides.  So, let me tell you a little about these acts that you don't want to miss the next time you are on Main Street USA in the Morning. 

The most famous barbershop quartet of all time that performs on a daily basis is the Dapper Dans. They made their debut when Walt Disney World opened in 1971. There are approximately eighteen singers and four at a time perform nine sets per day, seven days a week up and down Main Street USA to the smiles of many guests. Sometimes they sing Happy Birthday to guests that are celebrating their birthdays (of course when other members of their party tip off the quartet) and even allow guests to sing along with them.

When they sing, the Dapper Dans just do not stand still and sing but sometimes they tap dance, waive their arms, or play the Deagan Organ Chimes (made by the J.C. Deagan Company in Chicago, IL circa 1901) all choreographed to the song they are singing. The music library consists of over 100 songs that include 19th century American folk songs, turn-of-the century barbershop classics, ragtime, jazz, swing tunes, modern pieces from musical theatre and Disney animated films. The two most popular songs the guests enjoy listening to are "Mr. Sandman" written in 1954 by Pat Ballard and also "My Irish Rose" based off a musical from 1947.

What would a typical Main Street look like without a horse trolley? Not much. At Main Street USA there is more than a horse trolley clanging away but also part of a lively performance called The Main Street Trolley Show. It debuted on December 1, 2004 with twelve performers; six men and six women that dance and lip sings to an upbeat song entitled “Walkin' Right Down the Middle of Main Street, U.S.A." written by Stu Nunnery in 1978.  In 1980, Disneyland purchased it for the twenty-fifth anniversary celebration.  Decked out in red, white and blue, they start at the hub (the center of the Magic Kingdom) and perform three acts around the horse trolley finishing up at the front of the Walt Disney Railroad Station.  If you have watched it many times, like I have, then sometimes the song becomes an ear worm and occasionally might be humming it the rest of the day at the Magic Kingdom. So, next time that you are on Main Street in the Morning join they "right down the middle of Main Street USA" and you will not be disappointed.

How many of you either play the saxophone or have a desire to take it up? This next group of performers on Main Street in the Morning is right up your alley, the Toon Town Tuners.  Dressed up in matching overalls and hats with Mickey Mouse's face on the back, these five men each playing an alto, a soprano, a baritone, a tenor, and a bass saxophone entertain guests with a variety of Disney music like the "Jungle Book Medley." They sure put you "in the mood" (one of the songs they play) as you start your day at the Magic Kingdom.  Sometimes the Dapper Dans join in the fun with the saxophone quintet as they sing some Disney favorites.  So, the next time you hear a bunch of saxophones blaring on Main Street USA take the time to listen and who knows, you might get inspired to take up the instrument. 

You can see why Main Street in the morning is a special time of day in the Magic Kingdom.  Rather than rushing toward your favorite rides enjoy these great performances by the many talented men and women.  These acts may look easy to perform but they are not; just imagine wearing costumes that are made of wool dancing, playing an instrument or singing in front of thousands of people especially during the hot summer months.  For all of you early birds at Walt Disney World, get on over to the Magic Kingdom, grab some delicious baked goods at The Bakery and enjoy these spectacular performances on good old Main Street USA. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Who is Jim the Piano Man at Walt Disney World?

After my recent trip to Walt Disney World, it inspired me to resurrect my Dapper Dan Daily blog named after the famous barber shop quartet at the Magic Kingdom. One of our family traditions used to be on the first day of the trip. After checking into the resort we headed down to the Magic Kingdom and bought hot dogs and sodas at Casey's Corners at the end of Main Street USA. After finding a table, we were treated by a very talented pianist named Jim.  Who is this Jim that some people think that looks like me?

Jim, (I don't know his last name) came from Orange, CA and right after high school took some piano lessons and began his career playing in various pizza parlors and also at Disneyland. In 1983 he came over from CA and started playing this beautiful ragtime piano on Main Street USA that represents turn-of-the century small town America.  He plays a variety of Disney music, old ragtime pieces (my favorite, The Entertainer), and university fight songs. Each time I visit the Magic Kingdom on the first day of my trip, I tell Jim that I am from Wisconsin and could he play On Wisconsin. With a smile on his face, he gladly plays it well that the UW-Marching Band would fear his musical talent.

So, next time you return to WDW or the first visit ever, make sure you watch Jim playing the piano at the Magic Kingdom.  You will be amazed how fast he plays it and he does not use any sheet music; he memorized all of the notes and occasionally he let's guests hit the last note with some assistance by him of course.  I hope that Jim continues to play the ragtime piano as long as possible to provide smiles to the millions of guests that walk down Main Street USA. You will not be disappointed.

Here is a link to watch him play the piano.