segunda-feira, 17 de outubro de 2011

The secret world of Disneyland

The park's design uses optical illusions to make structures appear larger or smaller than they actually are. (Richard Cummins/LPI)
Disneyland may look like a straightforward theme park. But there is a secret world hidden behind the balloons, castles and cotton candy – a place where wild cats roam the park at midnight, Mickey Mouse hides in the wallpaper and movie stars sip martinis behind closed doors.

Related article: Keeping Disney magic afloat
Feline security
It is not easy keeping the grounds of Disneyland utterly spotless and free of unwanted pests. Every night after closing time, 200 feral cats are released into the park to help keep the rodent population under control. Though Disney does not comment on the matter, rumour has it that the feline taskforce dates back to 1957, when renovations to Sleeping Beauty Castle revealed a colony of more than 100 stray cats. After unsuccessful attempts to chase them out of the park, Disney decided to put the cats to work instead. Today they spend their daylight hours resting in the park's well-concealed “cat houses”, though you can sometimes spot a furry face peeking out between the mechanical lions on the Jungle Cruise.

Hidden Mickeys
At Disneyland, the round-eared Mickey Mouse emblem is everywhere. But thanks to clever “Imagineers” (Disney's specially trained designers and engineers), hundreds of “Hidden Mickeys” are also scattered across the park. The subtle symbols are often difficult to spot; they are camouflaged in the architecture and landscaping as well as in the smallest stylistic details, from the floral wallpaper of the First Aid station and the rust marks atop a treasure chest in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, to the shapes of car speakers on Space Mountain. No one knows exactly how many exist.

Cocktails behind closed doors
Disneyland is dry - unless you can manage to get your name on the list at Club 33. The secret cocktail lounge, tucked away above the Blue Bayou in New Orleans Square, has a limited membership of just 487 and a waiting list of approximately 14 years. Walt Disney designed the club as an exclusive space to entertain possible investors; since then, the lounge, complete with an elegant dining room and a first-class wine cellar, has hosted US presidents, film stars, foreign dignitaries and lucky guests with connections. It is said that Robert Kennedy dined here on 3 June, 1968, two days before he was assassinated.

Trick of the eye
Things are not always as they appear at Disneyland. The park's design employs “forced perspective”, creating optical illusions that make structures appear larger or smaller than they actually are. Sleeping Beauty Castle, for example, looks much taller than its 189ft – that is because the “bricks” and other architectural features grow progressively smaller as the towers rise. The Matterhorn also appears more massive than it is, since the tallest trees are at the base of the mountain and the smallest are placed at the summit. Entering Main Street, thanks to clever angles and scaling techniques, the castle seems far away and the old-fashioned shops and ice cream parlours seem to be several stories tall. As you exit, the same Main Street seems much shorter. Walt Disney figured that families coming into the park would be filled with anticipation, but on leaving, they would be too tired for a leisurely stroll.

Always on stage
At Disneyland, a janitor is not a janitor – he is a “cast member”. So are the legions of cashiers, painters, ride operators, gardeners and performers, from the girl who portrays Cinderella to the guy pushing a broom around Frontierland. All cast members are trained to follow a specific code of etiquette that helps to preserve the Disney magic. On the list of dos and don'ts? Never break character. If wearing a costume that belongs in Fantasyland, do not set foot in Tomorrowland – it might confuse visitors or break the park's orderly image. When directing guests, point with two fingers or an open palm, never the index finger. Cast members are issued a Disney “look book” that details the fresh-faced ideal – no long fingernails, beards or unnaturally coloured hair allowed. It is a throwback to Walt Disney's All-American standards: when the park opened even guests with facial hair were not allowed entrance.

A light stays on
When construction was underway in the early 1950s, Walt didn't want to miss a moment of his dream coming to life, which is why he installed a small private apartment for his family above the Fire Department on Main Street. Decorated by one of Disney's set designers, the apartment featured turn-of-the-century decor; the apartment still contains Walt's tiled shower (fitted with multiple shower heads to soothe an old polo injury) and a ceramic bar set Walt used to serve his favourite hot drink, the rum- and brandy-based Tom & Jerry. The lamp in the window, visible from the park, was once illuminated to signal to cast members that the head honcho was on the premises. Today the lamp always stays lit in honour of the man behind the mouse.

Classic California road trips

© 2011 Lonely Planet. All rights reserved. The article ‘The secret world of Disneyland’ was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.

quinta-feira, 13 de outubro de 2011

What is the difference between TOEIC and TOEFL tests?
The TOEIC and the TOEFL® tests were developed by ETS to serve different purposes. Therefore, the design, content, context, and range of proficiency that each test measures are also different. The TOEFL test was created for foreign students seeking admission to undergraduate and graduate programmes in North America. The test hence is a measure of English used in academic settings. On the other hand, the TOEIC test certifies competence in workplace English. Organisations that document employees' English proficiency and individuals who want to demonstrate their ability to use English in the global workplace would find the TOEIC test more suitable to their needs.

sexta-feira, 7 de outubro de 2011

Bono One charity advert faces TV ban

Bono One charity advert faces TV ban
The advert features Bono himself and a host of other stars
A campaign advert made by a charity founded by U2 frontman Bono has been banned from UK TV because it may breach rules covering political advertising.
The short film is part of One's Hungry No More campaign which calls for governments to help tackle the causes of famine in Africa.
Clearcast, which approves adverts, said it could be in breach of rules laid down by the 2003 Communications Act.
One said it was "absurd" the advert could not be shown.
The minute-long film, called The F Word: Famine is the Real Obscenity, features stars including Bono, George Clooney, Colin Farrell and Sex and the City star Kristin Davis.
A Clearcast spokeswoman said: "These rules ensure that adverts aren't being broadcast by bodies whose objects are wholly or mainly political.
"One appears to be caught by this rule as they state that part of their raison d'etre is to pressure political leaders.
"It also appears that a number of the claims made in the version of the ad that we have seen are directed towards a political end, which is again against the rules."'
Urgent action'
However Adrian Lovett, Europe director of One said the charity was not a political party and had no political affiliation.
"We recognise the purpose of the broadcasting code is to keep political propaganda off British television," he said.
"But our ad highlights the desperate plight of 750,000 people in east Africa who, the UN warns, could die before the end of the year.
"Unless we keep the spotlight on this crisis and the need for urgent action, those people will be forgotten. Who can object to that message? We are challenging this decision and hope the broadcasters will reconsider."
Clearcast said that a broadcaster carrying an advert in breach of the rules on political advertising faces a possible fine from broadcasting watchdog Ofcom or even a revocation of its licence.


terça-feira, 4 de outubro de 2011

Quanto Tempo é necessário para aprender Inglês

Segundo o prof. Michael Jacobs, qualquer pessoa pode aprender inglês em 1.200 horas de estudo. Isso não depende de inteligência ou aptidões especiais, apenas uma boa dose de querer.
A conta é simples. Se você estuda 3 horas semanais, normalmente 2 horários de uma hora e meia cada, o que é comum em escolas de idiomas, teremos:
1.200 / 3 = 400
Ou seja, 400 semanas de estudos, o que dá no final das contas aproximadamente 8 anos. Eu não quero esperar esse tempo todo para ser fluente em Inglês e você?
A única alternativa então é aumentar as horas de estudo semanais: ouvindo música, rádio, filmes, lendo livros, conversando. Não adianta fazer tudo isso tudo sem prestar atenção, o cérebro não vai armazenar nada se você não se esforçar. Recorro a um provérbio que diz o seguinte “No pain no gain”, algo como “Sem esforço não há recompensa”.
Vamos fazer uma outra conta. Digamos que você estude 2 horas por dia, assim teremos:
1200 / 2 = 600
Neste caso 600 dias, menos de 2 anos. Percebeu? Não há milagre, não acredite em cursos rápidos que prometem fluência em 2 meses. Isso é charlatanice. Lembre-se: “No pain no gain”.
Bons estudos!
That’s all folks!