Spaceship Earth at Epcot

The Carretto Siciliano at Epcot

posted on July 1st, 2011 by Gene Duncan, Photographer, Walt Disney World Resort


Many of you have strolled along the beautiful Epcot promenade, traveling through pavilions that depict the many countries of World Showcase. It is a delightful way to immerse yourself in the cultures of so many distant lands without ever getting on an airplane. And you might have paused at the brightly painted Tutto Italia dessert cart and indulged in one of the scrumptious offerings of tiramisu, cannoli and other tasty bites.

The Carretto Siciliano at Epcot

But I doubt many of you realized at the time you were gazing at an authentic “carretto Siciliano,” or Sicilian donkey cart. Nothing represents Sicily’s culture more vividly than the exquisitely carved and painted cart. When the first roads were created in Sicily in the early 19th century, so began the colorful history of the Sicilian donkey cart, which were used to transport people, produce, wine and virtually anything else that needed transporting.

The Carretto Siciliano at Epcot

The carts were marvels of engineering and art, generally consisting of some 60 parts, all handcrafted by cartwrights, woodworkers, painters, ironsmiths and other skilled artisans. The creators passionately carved and painted elaborate scenes from history, often celebrating the exploits of Charlemagne’s knights or depicting scenes from famous operas like I Pagliacci.

The Carretto Siciliano at Epcot

Arguably, some of the most acclaimed cart painters of the last century are the Ducato Brothers of Bagheria, near Palermo. Three years ago, at age 80, Giuseppe Ducato was quoted as having painted the cart that now sits in Epcot. Ducato and his son are among the few artisans still producing this dying art. The art and craft of cart building has diminished greatly, beginning during the 1950s when motorized vehicles became abundant and eventually replaced the donkey cart as a means of transportation. Today, they can often be seen in local parades and celebrations.

Each cart had to be built to the size specifications of the donkey (or sometimes, horse) that was going to pull it, hence a reference to the old saying: “Don’t put the cart before the horse.”

Ciao.

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Doorways of Our World at Disney Parks

posted on June 27th, 2011 by Gene Duncan, Photographer, Walt Disney World Resort


Doorways of our World at Disney Parks

From simple to sublime, architectural details can be so intriguing, particularly when they are from something as commonplace as, say, a door. I can’t guess how many doors one might discover at the Walt Disney World Resort, but I have put a few snapshots of door handles, knobs and knockers together that reflect a range of cultures and continents. See how many of these unique items you can identify from Disney Parks.

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Frontierland – Still the Wild, Wild West

posted on May 30th, 2011 by Gene Duncan, Photographer, Walt Disney World Resort


Frontierland - Still the Wild, Wild West

I am constantly reminded of just how many species of wildlife live and thrive within the Walt Disney World Resort. Last week, I was on assignment in Magic Kingdom Park, when I spotted a Great Egret calmly perched atop the Frontier Trading Post sign overhead. I snapped a quick shot, as I have always been intrigued with how birds can balance on one leg. I am told that the one-leg perch is a sign of contentment and relaxation, a sort of “comfort zone.”

Frontierland - Still the Wild, Wild West

This beautiful Snowy Egret was photographed a couple of minutes later, stepping a little outside of its comfort zone, perhaps, as it has picked up the aroma of freshly smoked turkey legs just out of view. (And did those turkey legs ever smell good!)

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Slices of Life at Walt Disney World

posted on May 24th, 2011 by Gene Duncan, Photographer, Walt Disney World Resort


Photographers usually think differently than most other people. Whether it is a foggy sunrise, an old barn, a rural cemetery or a flock of birds, these are the things that drive us to do what we do – capture, interpret, enjoy. To quote a great photographer and friend, Burk Uzzle: “The ordinary is particularly special.”

Slices of Life at Walt Disney World

In this Disney Parks Blog post, I cannot explain exactly what motivated me to stop my car and leap out with camera in hand but I think at first glance, it was the graphic design – black on white. Then it became the chaos and noise of dozens of crows interacting with one another. Finally, the group behavior itself was mesmerizing – the constant need for each bird to flit from one branch to another, one tree to the other trees.

Slices of Life at Walt Disney World Slices of Life at Walt Disney World

I began with an artsy approach, employing my trusty Lensbaby to create those dreamy slices of life. Then I switched to a conventional lens to allow me to be more of a documentarian. During the 8 ½ minutes I spent shooting, I made nearly 200 images. Now the really interesting tidbit for me is just how much time was actually captured. When I added the exposures up, the grand total was .1943 seconds. That, my friends, is a very thin slice of life.

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Discover Creatures of the Sea at the ‘Nemo Module’ at Epcot

posted on April 19th, 2011 by Gene Duncan, Photographer, Walt Disney World Resort


The Seas with Nemo and Friends Pavilion is a huge showplace for almost all things aquatic in Epcot. Containing one of the largest salt water tanks in the world, a delightful ride, hilarious shows and fascinating exhibits, not to mention a world-class restaurant, it is overflowing with entertainment and education for guests of all ages.

Last week, while working on a “people” photo assignment, I was drawn into what the Seas zoological staff refers to as the “Nemo module,” and I was blown away by the incredible assortment of aquatic life exhibits I found there. I only had a couple of minutes to take a few snapshots, but I thought I would share them with you. See how many of these you can identify and I will post their names at the end.

Discover Creatures of the Sea at the “Nemo Module”

Discover Creatures of the Sea at the “Nemo Module”

Discover Creatures of the Sea at the “Nemo Module”

Discover Creatures of the Sea at the “Nemo Module”

Discover Creatures of the Sea at the “Nemo Module”

Discover Creatures of the Sea at the “Nemo Module”

Answers:

  1. Pterois radiata (tailbar lionfish)
  2. Hippocampus reidi (longsnout seahorse)
  3. Echidna nebulosa (snowflake moray)
  4. Zebrasoma flavescens (yellow tang)
  5. Clibanarius vittatus (striped hermit crab)
  6. Pterois volitans (red lionfish)

Thanks to the Seas staff for their assistance – I didn’t know any of these!



Take a look back at what else you can find at The Seas with Nemo and Friends Pavilion:

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Foggy Morning at Epcot

posted on April 5th, 2011 by Gene Duncan, Photographer, Walt Disney World Resort


A Foggy Morning at Epcot

Fog has to be a photographer’s favorite condition. It tranquilizes the soul, softens reality, causes one to reflect … It makes the ordinary special, the unnoticed radiant.

A Foggy Morning at Epcot

Recently, walking along the World Showcase at Epcot, I had to capture a few fleeting seconds of serenity. These scenes served to start my day on a wonderful note.

A Foggy Morning at Epcot

A Foggy Morning at Epcot



Take a look at more of Gene Duncan‘s shots from around Epcot in the posts below:

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Sharing the Magic at Walt Disney World

posted on March 21st, 2011 by Gene Duncan, Photographer, Walt Disney World Resort


One of my Disney Legend heroes is Blaine Gibson, the acclaimed sculptor responsible for creating untold numbers of pirates, presidents and other magical Disney figures. Beginning as a Disney Studios animator in 1939, and working on many classic Disney films, Blaine had a passion for sculpting that he carried from childhood, and after finishing with his “day job,” he would take sculpting lessons at night.

In 1954, Walt tapped Blaine as one of the very first Imagineers who would put so many faces on the Walt Disney Company over the years. Two of Blaine’s most recent works were delivered long after he retired in 1983, with the “Partners” statue depicting Walt and Mickey standing together first created for Disneyland Resort in 1993, then Walt Disney World in 1995. In 1999, at the age of 81, Blaine delivered “Sharing the Magic” to Walt Disney World.

Roy O. Disney Seated Next to Minnie Mouse at Walt Disney World Resort

The iconic park bench occupied by co-founding father Roy O. Disney seated next to Minnie Mouse greets millions of guests each year and is one of the most prized photo locations ever. Although it was originally placed inside the fence in Town Square at Magic Kingdom Park, guests routinely climbed over it to sit next to Minnie. Within a year, it was relocated just outside the fence. Guests may feel that the empty space to the right of Minnie was made for them, but Blaine’s intent was to show Minnie’s conscious decision to sit right next to Roy as a way to make him more “approachable,” as he was rarely in the limelight as was Walt.

Close-up of Minnie Mouse, Seated Next to Roy O. Disney at Walt Disney World Resort Close-up of Roy O. Disney, Seated Next to Minnie Mouse at Walt Disney World Resort Roy O. Disney Seated Next to Minnie Mouse at Walt Disney World Resort

Blaine also purposefully had Roy support Minnie’s hand from underneath, a creative acknowledgment of how Roy supported his brother in their new business venture. Amazing…I hope the next few photos reveal a bit of the magic that Blaine so masterfully created from the heart.

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Downtown Disney’s Loch Ness Monster on Holiday?

posted on March 15th, 2011 by Gene Duncan, Photographer, Walt Disney World Resort


I found myself at Downtown Disney recently, hoping to catch a glimpse of what some have described as a serpent-like creature seen breaching the surface of the Lake Buena Vista lagoon.

LEGO Dragon at Downtown Disney

The dense fog made it difficult to see all but the most basic shapes – but sure enough, there it was! As the sun finally rose, and the fog burned off, I saw a large sea serpent approaching the shore.

LEGO Dragon at Downtown Disney

As I moved closer, I came face to face with the LEGO Dragon – proof that the mysterious serpent’s journey had not only been “immersive,” but “transformative” as well. What a magical place this is.

LEGO Dragon at Downtown Disney

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Fairy Spotted at Epcot

posted on March 8th, 2011 by Gene Duncan, Photographer, Walt Disney World Resort


Fairy Spotted at Epcot by Gene Ducan

As I walked past the Norway Pavilion at Epcot last week, I spotted two young sisters who had just enjoyed breakfast with the Disney princesses at the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. The younger of the two sisters was channeling her inner “Belle” from head to almost toe (she smartly opted for sneakers over heels) in a beautiful gold dress, shimmering tiara, locket and pin. The older sister, positively radiant in a green Tinker Bell outfit, seemed to be in a world of her own – a ballerina dancing to a soundtrack only she could hear. As she twirled in front of me, I looked down to see the most magical of shadows. But was this the shadow of a little girl? Or an enchanted fairy flitting by? Some enchanted morning indeed…

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Beauty Everywhere at Epcot

posted on March 2nd, 2011 by Gene Duncan, Photographer, Walt Disney World Resort


Dazzling Colors in the Italy Pavilion at Epcot

As I strolled by the Italy Pavilion at Epcot, I couldn’t take my eyes off of the dazzling colors that were on display there – just a hint of what promises to be a spectacular Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.

Italy Pavilion Decorated for the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

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