Shanghai Disneyland in Calgary? A visit to F & D Scene Changes


This weekend I was lucky enough to take a tour of F & D Scene Changes  as part of Doors Open Calgary, an annual event that gives the public access to places around the city they normally would not be allowed to visit. What is F & D Scene Changes you ask?  They are a company that creates “projects that range from scenery for theatre, television and film to theme park elements, museum exhibits, and trade show and retail displays.” They’re located right here in Calgary, behind the Stampede grounds in a gorgeous historical building and I had no idea they existed!

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Imagine my excitement to find out in my very own backyard that they work on set pieces, parade floats and other amazing projects for Disney Parks, Universal, Cirque Du Soleil and more. Everything from design, lighting, welding, sculpting, prototyping, the list goes on. Talk about a hidden gem in Calgary.

During our visit, our tour guide was not allowed give us many details or even mention the name of some of their clients, including their Florida Client. We figured out pretty quickly that was Disney. We got some insider access and saw them working on projects for what I assume was Shanghai Disneyland Resort, as well as a new mall called Tsawwassen Mills (very similar concept as Vaughan Mills or CrossIron Mills .

Based on all the Shanghai Disneyland concept art I’ve seen, I could pick out a few things that were clearly headed overseas to the park. One was a smaller parade vehicle that had hidden Mickey heads printed all over it, another was the giant tree (we’re talking 40-50 feet high) that I assume will be the centrepiece for the Tarzan Show.Tarzan Call of the Jungle Show

They were even working on some concepts for a project based on a very popular “cold & icy” movie…..I’ll let you figure out which one.
It was really interesting learning about how they take the idea and have to figure out a way to engineer it so it looks good, is safe and can survive in any situation possible. They consult with engineers on many projects to ensure people are safe when climb, ride, carry, hold and interact in any way with their pieces. An example was that if a performer passes out in the middle of the show on a tree branch, will the weight of two additional people be okay to climb out to assist them. In addition, are there enough hand holds for three people to safely climb out and back.

Due to the nature of the projects they work on, we were not allowed to take photos of anything in the works. I did however take a bunch of pictures of completed projects they had laid out in their main office. They helped with the Little Mermaid rides at Disneyland & Walt Disney World, Transformers at Universal Studios, tons of other Tokyo & Hong Kong Disney projects, Broadway. Calgary Stampede…The list goest on. It was an awesome tour and highly recommended if you ever have the chance.

Here are some pictures of past projects they have worked on, very impressive!

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You Can’t Stop The Beat

Hairspray Cast

After 4 months of rehearsals and performances, Storybook Theatre’s production of Hairspray ended on a high note after 20 shows. It was bittersweet. I’m happy to have my free time back, while at the same time wondering when I can be involved with another incredible experience like this one. I’ve met so many incredibly talented & amazing people throughout this adventure. The passion each person had and the way a group of strangers could come together and execute such a massive production was incredible. Continue reading

Target loves Canada, but does Canada love Target?

Canada loves Target?

Ever since Target announced they were going to enter the Canadian marketplace, Canadians have been worried that it would be a different, diluted experience. We’ve come to expect this when our favourite stores come here from the United States. The product mix is different, the prices are higher and overall most brands just aren’t as good. Continue reading

Expect the Unexpected

It’s been forever since my last blog…my rant about buying my car. This, I can promise, is not a rant :). I just passed the three-month mark at work, and I’m very happy with my decision to move out to Calgary. The only thing missing is my family, but an overpriced ticket from Air Canada or Westjet can solve that! I have a great group of friends here that are always willing to go on my crazy adventures.

In addition to moving my entire life for a job, I’ve decided to push the boundaries of my comfort zone in other ways. Anyone who knows me can tell you I’m a random person…with a lot of interests. I’m unpredictable…and I wouldn’t have it any other way! I’ve successfully started two new endeavours that fall into that category: Going to a Fusion class and being cast in a musical.


The Fusion class is at the YMCA. It’s a mix of Yoga, Pilates and Fitness. I’m the only guy in the class…and least flexible! It’s a great stress reliever and I actually look forward to it every week.

As for the musical….a few weeks ago I saw a casting call for a local theatre production of “Hairspray” and decided to go audition. It’s been a long time since I’ve been involved in any sort of theatre, so I was a little rusty and not sure what to expect.


I went to the audition and sang one of the few songs I actually know the words to, “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” from “The Lion King.” I was nervous, shaking and overall the experience was terrifying. I left feeling like I did the best I could, and then got an email a day later for a callback. To say I was surprised is an understatement.

I headed to the callback a week later, this time we had to learn a dance from “You Can’t Stop The Beat” and also sing. At the very end, I was asked to read some lines. This time it wasn’t as terrifying, and I actually enjoyed the whole process.

Long story short…I GOT CAST! I’ll be playing the Male Authority Figure, which is comprised of 5 characters. In addition to the role, we’re learning ALL the songs. It’s exciting, and very demanding. While it’s community theatre, they are running it as a professional production. We have rehearsal 3 times a week until dress rehearsals which will take place everyday. It’s such a departure from my marketing job, and I love that.

Hairspray Cast

Overall, 2013 has been fantastic so far. There have been a few bumps along the way, but if I’ve learned anything in my 28 years it’s not what happened that matters, but how you deal with it.

I’m going to continue to push my comfort zone…I’m working on some new ideas. Until then, the only thing you can expect from me is the unexpected. Until next time….

Stop Hating on Oprah’s Favorite Things

oprahs favorite things

In one of the most exciting announcements thus far for the Christmas season, Oprah has announced the return of her favourite things show and it’s bigger and better than ever.

Christmas 2011 just wasn’t the same without being exposed to the extravagance of $100 cupcakes and thousand dollar home theatre systems.

Yes, everything is luxurious, expensive and out of the budget of most viewers. But that’s why we’re so intrigued.

Why do people watch TMZ or read US Weekly? To live vicariously through the rich and famous. Favorite Things is no different. It’s an escape from everyday reality and the mundane lives some people lead.

It’s the same as gazing through the window of Coach, Tiffany & Co. or any other store on 5th Avenue in New York City and dreaming of a life where you can afford those products.

Remember 2008, when she did the “budget” version of the show because of the recession. Lame and boring. People want flashy spectacle to aspire towards, not something that reminds them of their awful financial situation.

I find it awesome seeing people get taken by surprise. The show is worth watching for the reactions of people alone. Many of these people are super deserving of being treated to these things: military personnel, teachers etc.

It’s also a fantastic experiment in what is appropriately dubbed “The Oprah Effect.” Essentially anything Oprah touches turns to gold, but in reality increasing the sales beyond imagination. So much that many businesses with products featured on the show can’t even keep up with demand, as it’s kept super secret until the show airs if their product is included.

So get over yourselves Favourite Things haters. Stop complaining about how the 99 percent can’t afford the items and enjoy looking at amazing things that you would never know about in the first place. Let the magic of holiday cheer and happiness take over your soul and be happy you have the luxury to complain about not being able to afford luxury items, instead of dodging bullets in a war-torn country.

Oh, and you actually do have a chance at getting these things for free by entering the contest on the Oprah site.

Are you a Favorite Things Hater or Lover? Let me know in the comments.

Fan Expo 2012 Overview

Yesterday was my first visit to the incredible FanExpo in Toronto. Something I have been waiting for all summer. What is FanExpo you ask? If you’ve ever heard of Comic Con San Diego, Fan Expo is essentially the Canadian equivalent. “Fan Expo Canada™ humbly began as the Canadian National Comic Book Expo in 1995. Growing from one genre with 1500 fans to a multifaceted show connecting over 80,000 fans, Fan Expo Canada™ is currently the 3rd largest pop culture event in North America!”

Some of the people you will see.

At the event, Fanboys and Fangirls of all ages gather to celebrate all that is awesome in Sci-Fi, Horror, Anime, Comic Books, and Gaming. While I’m into some Sci-Fi and Horror stuff, I am nowhere near the level of fan many of the people were in attendance here. There was an entire room dedicated to people who look as if they have never been out of their parents basement! Ok, I know I’m being harsh. Forgive me.

The highest form of nerd….table games.

It was a great event. We woke up at the crack of dawn to get to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre right downtown Toronto. Once inside, it was a free for all of shiny things in all directions. Total. Sensory. Overload! We managed to do a loop of the place before it got insane, but all of a sudden it seemed like the crowd tripled in size. For those people who don’t like crowds, a fair warning: It’s crazy and hard to move at many points. You must mentally prepare for this before you go so it doesn’t bother you. There are lines for everything….except for the bathroom which I found odd. Who knows, maybe people wear adult diapers so they can partake in every moment.

Epic pop culture awesome!

A few suggestions: Travel light. Wear cargo shorts, shoes and a t-shirt. You will get stepped on and it gets hot. Also, bring a backpack to hold your crap. Generally they do give out free bags, but I find it’s easier to be hands free. One MAJOR thing: Cell reception is awful in the Convention Centre. Do not depend on your phone. Bring walkie talkies if you need to communicate with people, because service is spotty at best. You will most likely lose your group, prepare a gameplan.With that said, it was one of the most fun days I’ve ever had. I expected and prepared for the worst, therefore everything turned out well. Go with the flow, have a good time and enjoy!

Top 5 Moments at Fan Expo 2012

1. Seeing Gillian Anderson in person along with many other awesome celebrities: The X-Files is one of my favourite shows of all time, and I knew she would be there. It was a nice surprise to walk around a corner and see her, sitting at a table to my right signing autographs. I’m ashamed to admit this, but I was shaking a bit and it totally made my day. Forget the $50 you have to pay to wait in line and get her autograph, I got to see her from a few feet away and that was epic.

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Gillian Anderson

2. Stormtroopers Call Me Maybe: No explanation necessary.

3. People Watching: If you go for any reason at all, it’s this one. The costumes, the props, the interesting people and conversations you will experience. I witnessed so many interesting and odd happenings with all the people in attendance. The best one: a girl having a mental breakdown while sitting on the floor attempting to put in her special contact lenses. It was hilarious.


4. Photo Opportunities: In addition to all the amazing costumed people you can get pictures with, tons of companies are there promoting their wares and have unique photo opportunities and experiences. From giant Lego Darth Maul to CTV Big Bang Theory green screen photos, there are a ton of cool things to take pictures of. Some of the companies in attendance included Disney, EB Games, CTV, Space, Lego, Mega Bloks, LG, Sony, DC, Marvel…the list goes on.

The Delorean

5. Swag: There is so much free stuff to get. Buttons, printouts, posters, bags. Grab everything you can!

Check out all my pictures of this incredible event. If you also attended, let me know what you thought of the event!


Cool Ads: Brave Transit Wrap

It’s very rare that an advertising campaign grabs my attention, but I had to stop to take a picture of this. It’s a promotional transit wrap for the upcoming Disney-Pixar movie Brave. It’s not surprising, Disney is one of the  most creative companies on the planet. This transit wrap is a fun and well executed way to promote the movie while people are waiting for the TTC or walking down the street. It’s very detailed and stands out in a cluttered media environment. Great job Disney!

Skating like a Pro

Worst quality photo ever, thanks Blackberry!

When I was a kid, I skated a lot, but lost interest around age 13 or 14. Fast forward to 2005, I was in Chicago and they had an outdoor rink and free skate rentals. Hockey skates that is. I was a little apprehensive, never having even tried on a pair of hockey skates (that’s a story for another day. Let’s just say I have a photo of myself as the Pumpkin from Cinderella somewhere that has never seen the light of day!) Getting on the ice was a bit rough. This was the only time I had skated in over 13 years. Being out of practise for such a long time was a little scary, but I knew that I must still have some skill. I spend a lot of time rollerblading in the warmer months, so I knew I could at least keep my balance. I got to the arena, laced up my skates and hit the ice. It was a little scary, seeing that the 5-year-olds zipping around the ice looked like seasoned pros. I was a little intimidated, mainly because I assumed I would fall flat on my ass the second I hit the ice. I’m glad to say I was wrong. Once I hit the ice, I also looked like a seasoned pro as I whipped around that arena. The lesson: Quiet your inner critic. If you think you can’t do it, your setting yourself up for failure. Give  yourself the benefit of the doubt that you can do the things you set your mind to. Also, no matter how long it’s been since you’ve done something, you can always jump back in if you have the right attitude. Thanks to taking this small chance, I may actually enjoy winter a little bit more this year!  Have you ever tried a hobby or sport again after many years of not being involved? What was the outcome?

The 5 Best Canadian TV Shows made before 2000

Being a Canadian kid in the 90’s was sometimes difficult. Growing up we never had Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, or MTV. We were deprived of channels and shows that we heard about but couldn’t get access to. What’s a kid to do? Luckily, we had some great homegrown TV shows that helped us fill our time with good natured fun. While Americans are familiar with Degrassi, when it comes to many other great kids TV shows they have no idea what childhood gems they missed. Some of these did air in the U.S., but were never as popular as American shows. Here are a few Canadian made TV show that I really liked and still do. What are your favourite Canadian made shows?

Degrassi Junior High/Degrassi High

Not that remake, were talking the original series here people. With Spike having her baby, Joey Jeremiah getting some guy to buy him beer, Snake as an awkward teenager, the Twins and their abortions. You know, all the usual examples of drama the average Canadian teen grows up experiencing. There is so much to love here. The hair, the “real” life story-lines, and if you live in Toronto, the many locations used for the show. You can watch episodes online here, thanks PBS!

Fast Forward

I completely forgot about this show until I started writing this article. It aired on Family Channel I believe. It’s been so long I can’t even remember anything about the show other than I liked it. Here’s the IMDB description:

Tucker and Becca are close friends. So close that they live next door to one another with facing second story windows and share a birthday. Tucker is at times an absent minded goof-off while Becca tends to be opinionated and in a hurry to grow up. Now in middle school, they find themselves caught in everyday events that turn into comical adventures. Throughout the show, Tucker, Becca, and their friends speak directly to the audience, telling the story as they remember how much more simple everything was when they were five. If they can survive junior high, then their friendship can survive anything.

Ready or Not

This show followed Busy and Amanda through the drama of growing up. I don’t know why I liked it, maybe because they are having so much fun in the photo booth. Stop judging me! I do remember though when I worked at McDonald’s, they had a Crew (that’s McD’s speak for employee) magazine that featured the time Lani Billar (Busy) came to a McDonald’s. And this was years after the show. Isn’t that exciting!

Popular Mechanics for Kids

This was an awesome show that gave us insight into the world of technology and cool stuff. They had a wicked episode about Islands of Adventure before it opened. Jay Baruchel was one of the hosts, and so was Elisha Cuthbert. I loved her. Seriously. Then she was in a bizarre TV movie called Lucky Girl and the awful but hot The Girl Next Door. Now she’s on Happy Endings which is awesome! Jay became part of the Judd Apatow crew and was in Undeclared and the great movie She’s Out of My League.

Breaker High

This was about a high school on boat and the hijinks of the teens that went there. Hmmm…sounds alot like The Suite Life on Deck doesn’t it? Regardless, it starred a pre-movie star Ryan Gosling and Tyler Labine who’s always “that guy” in tons of movies but you don’t know his name. I remember hearing this show might be cancelled and joining a petition on the web to keep the show alive. Were talking like a Geocities website here. Wow, I’m dating myself.