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SASCHA PALADINO

Something magical happens when you combine NASA and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). First of all, you can solve most of your basic word puzzles on Wheel of Fortune, but you also get an educational and entertaining mix of space, science, and, considering this concoction is being mixed on Disney Junior, a healthy dose of that wonderful Disney storytelling. As an added bonus, your kids will love it.

Miles from Tomorrowland is a new Disney Junior series full of non-stop excitement that premiers on Friday, February 6 (check local listings). It stars the voice talents of Olivia Munn (The Newsroom), Tom Kenny (SpongeBob SquarePants), Fiona Bishop (Sofia the First), and Cullen McCarthy (Mr. Peabody & Sherman) as the Callisto family, a tight-knit bunch working for the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, as they travel through space and endless adventure.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Sascha Paladino, the creator and executive producer of Miles from Tomorrowland, about the show, his inspiration(s), and, as dads are prone to do, our kids. We can’t help it.

MILES, MERC

Whit Honea: First, congratulations on the new show. The title “Miles from Tomorrowland” is quite a clever play on words. I’m a fan of the wordplay.

Sascha Paladino: Thank you. I like to play with words, too, and luckily we get to do that on the show. We make up words. We get to make up planets, aliens, and all of that stuff. It’s a lot fun.

My wife was out of town last week, which meant many things, but mainly that the DVR was off limits because it stores countless episodes of “our shows” and, as you know, “our shows” cannot be watched by “just me.” However, please note that it does fall within accepted social graces to watch any given show in its entirety despite my wife falling asleep on the couch well before the third act. I have this in writing.

But I digress. It was Sunday, she was gone, it was raining, and the boys and I were literally stuck to the sofa for hours—not “literally” by its original definition, but “literally” like people use it now, previously known as “figuratively.” English is a living language! Also, our couch is pretty gross.

We had three new Disney Blu-ray releases from Studio Ghibli, and pizza on the way. We were set. We watched all of the movies: Pom Poko, Tales From Earthsea, and Porco Rosso, in that order, and this is what we thought:

Pom Poko

Pom Poko (PG), directed by Isao Takahata, is the classic battle between man and nature, where nature equals shape-shifting raccoons. Fun fact, they are only called raccoons in the U.S. version. A bit of real-time research (see, Google) revealed that they are actually called raccoon dogs. Why was I researching Pom Poko in the middle of the movie? For the same reason you will, because a good portion of the film had us asking “Is that?” and “What am I looking at?” and “Daddy, are those . . .” and yes, yes they are.

Disney's Grand Californian Gingerbread HouseThe gingerbread house at Disney’s Grand Floridian is a well-known tradition at Walt Disney World, but did you know that the Disneyland Resort has some edible architecture of its own?

If you visit the lobby of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa you will not only experience a fireplace that you can sit in and a beautiful tree (not in fireplace), but a huge gingerbread house that sure looks a lot like a gingerbread hotel (and spa).

My family visited the Disneyland Resort as their guests for a #DisneyHoliday preview party and we were lucky enough to wind up in the lobby of the Grand Californian just as the pastry chefs were putting the finishing touches on their masterpiece. Then we put the finishing touches on a glass of port and went to bed, because holidays!

I really wish I had thought to record the process, but I didn’t, so you’ll have to settle for still photos like they did in the old days. Here is the final product and a few photos of the beautiful hotel lobby of the Grand Californian:

alexander, dick van dyke, jennifer garner, disney

You may recall Judith Viorst’s book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day from your own childhood; or perhaps the tale has made its way into the nightly “read me a story” routine that is currently running on an infinite loop just this side of your child’s bedtime. Either way, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is a classic book that we all love, and we love it because it is relatable.

Who among us has not had a day where everything that could go wrong does go wrong? We shake our fists at the sky, make desperate pleas into the night, and wish upon stars for mercy, understanding, and just one thing to go right. It happens to all of us, some more than others.

Alexander knows what I’m talking about.

Thankfully, those days are often countered by peaks of goodness and wonder which is how I found myself standing outside Pasadena’s famed Vroman’s Bookstore exchanging pleasantries with Dick Van Dyke and following him onto the set of Disney’s adaptation of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Some good days are better than others.

whit honea, jennifer garner, lisa henson, alexander, disney

I was with a group of writers from this very Internet (I’m the guy with the beard and the hat), and together we watched Dick Van Dyke and Jennifer Garner (who totally remembered me from our Timothy Green interview, so I’ve got that going for me) film a scene in the bookstore before a crowd of extras, employees, and real-life shoppers.