Disney Names

Phantom Manor of Names

Jilted bride Melanie from the start of the Phantom Manor ride, via flickr (peterpanfan)

I mentioned Chatsworth House earlier on this week, and now it’s time  for a completely different direction even if I am somewhat sticking to big house theme – but this time incorporating my recent Disney trip into it. Those who can see where I’m going with this, bear with me because you may be wondering why a certain ride has changed it’s name.

I’ll get back to that later, but first, a statement from me about me. I hate ghost rides, as a general rule. The one at Blackpool Pleasure Beach is noted as being one of the first Ghost Trains (and indeed first to call itself as such) in the world, and I’ve been on it. Several times. Why? Because it isn’t actually that scary, it’s just skeletons painted in luminescent paint. There’s an Alice in Wonderland ride opposite it which has exactly the same concept of luminous-ly painted animatronics in dark rooms, I kid ye not.

Aside from the relatively unscary Blackpool Ghost Train, the only ghost ride I’m happy to go on frequently is Phantom Manor in Disneyland Paris. The different name indicates a different storyline, even if several key moments in the ride remain similar. It does seem odd that I’m so content with going on the Phantom Manor ride, thinking about it, since it was intentionally designed to be darker than the Haunted Mansion versions in other parks. I did go on Haunted Mansion whilst at the Florida park, but I found myself not enjoying it as much as the Phantom Manor, but maybe that’s because I spent most of it confused as the bride went from a weeping mess of the Paris version to a axe-wielding maniac. My sister was particularly not impressed.

In the Phantom Manor version of the ride, the plotline revolves around a young Melanie, rather than a Constance. The plot goes that she fell in love with a train engineer from the town, Thunder Mesa, below the manor (aka Frontierland), and her father, Henry, disapproved of this. Henry tried to stop the wedding, but tragically died in an earthquake along with his wife, Martha. On Melanie’s wedding day, a phantom lured her groom to the attic and hanged him from the rafters. Melanie spends the rest of her days roaming the manor waiting for her groom to return.

All rather sad, really. Infact, it all seems rather apt that Melanie means dark. She comes from the Greek melaina, which means either black or dark. Before you start wondering why the bride doesn’t have a French name, you’d best hold your horses. The name Melanie was popular in the Middle Ages in France, and was later brought to Britain by them. Of course, the French like to spell her Mélanie.

I will grant that the bride names in Magic Kingdom, Florida are far more fascinating. At the Florida version, the emphasis is on what they liked to call happy haunts, with references to dear Constance who killed all five of her husbands. It is from her fifth – George – that she came to presumeably own the Haunted Mansion. When we went on the ride for the first time, my sister and I were confused as to why there was no bride crying in the ballroom scene or in her boudoir, and indeed why she turned up in the attic with an axe and a manic grin since we did not realise the extent to the plot change between Paris and Florida until Google informed us that night.

Not just Constance was mentioned, however. When you leave the Haunted Mansion in Walt Disney World, you see the tomb of a man named Bluebeard, which lists his seven wives:

  • Penelope
  • Abigail
  • Anastasia
  • Prudence
  • Phoebe
  • Eugenia
  • Lucretia

Certainly an interesting selection of names, but wait, it gets even more interesting from there (more interesting than Lucretia? No!), since there is a man from French folklare called Bluebeard who took several wives himself; however, they weren’t given the above names. The French writer Maurice Maeterlinck certainly wrote extensively on Bluebeard, giving the name of at least six former wives with suitable fascinating French names:

  • Sélysette
  • Alladine
  • Ygraine
  • Bellangère 
  • Mélisande
  • Ariane

But he’s not the only one to name a wife of Bluebeard, two more men have notably named two other wives:

  • Anatole France gave us Jeanne (naming her as Bleubeard’s last wife)
  • Bela Bartók gave us Judith (he numbers her as Bluebeard’s 4th wife)

I certainly struggle to fault Disney when it comes to the names they choose, that’s for sure. There’s plenty of names there to sift through, and plenty I could see myself happily using – even with the association of the ride because it’s a pretty decent, well-though out ghostie. Both sides of the atlantic.

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Landed

Father filled in the name badge, just so ya know

I landed back at Gatwick this morning, bleary eyed and in desperate need of a sugar boost. I was also brimming with name news, so much that it deserves it’s own post. This is kind of like a Name Spot post, in fact, it really is.

I spent most of my time exploring the various areas Disneyland Orlando and comparing them with their Paris counterpart which I hold so dear in my heart. Ebba and I are agreed that we much prefer the It’s A Small World in Paris. Some interesting tidbits from that part of my holiday were:

  • I met my first Asher at Magic Kingdom.
  • My Christmas dinner waiter was named Kim. Not particularly exciting until you know that Kim was a hulking Norwegian dude.
  • There’s a ride in the Norway section of Epcot called Maelstrom, which continually reminded me of the name Maelle.
  • I noticed in amongst the scenery for Splash Mountain a three-tier letterbox outside one of the ‘houses’ of what I presumed to be sisters, who were named Pansy, Poppy and Petunia.
  • On my birthday I watched the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular show-thingy at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where the main female stunt lady was called Devin. Or maybe Devon. One of the ‘extras’ sourced from the crowd was also celebrating a birthday. Her name? Cady. She was probably my age-ish.
  • I also drew Pascal from Tangled at the drawing class. The lady taking the class said he was named after a real-life chameleon some lady owned who had some relations with production. She gave more details, but I was too busy having a crisis with his eyes.

And from other areas of our Florida epic:

  • On the flight back I cracked and watched Come Fly With Me for the first time. Whilst most of the names were picked for their double meanings, there were some interesting names used: Melody, Omar, Moses, Fearghal (in the episode I watched he mentioned brother Finnbar), Judith, Buster, Hetty and Precious.
  • Something I also watched during the flight back was the hugely popular sitcom Outnumbered. The youngest child of the family is called Karen, and is played by a girl named Ramona. Two things: I once had someone tell me that Karen was one of the ultimate baby-boomer names, yet this is a girl born circa mid-noughties; the last Ramona I met was a similar age and was frequently referred to as Manon.
  • Whilst sat at the departures gate, I took a bash at a crossword. I’m more of a suduko girl than crossword one, mostly because I pick the Metro up most days and they only have sudokus in it. Either way, one of the clues was simply Reverie (5).
  • Predictably, Bear Blu has made it onto most of the Worst Celeb Baby Names list going. I never mentioned this at the time, but it seems apt given whats on the plate next to me: Billy Bear is a type of reformed ham for kids which is extremely popular in my household. It’s always my first thought when I hear Bear Blu.
  • Something that always surprises me when I go abroad is the lack of crisp flavours available. Thanks to Walkers, we have such flavours as Worcestershire Sauce, Smokey Bacon and Builder’s Breakfast on offer here in the UK. When you get abroad, Walkers is almost invariably known as Lays and only appears to offer the standard Ready Salted variety. Why am I babbling on about crisps? There’s another brand of crisps here in the UK called Phileas Fogg – a possible alternative to Phineas, should you want one? He’s also a character in Jules Verne’s Around The World In Eighty Days.
  • I opened the majority of my Christmas/Birthday presents a few hours ago, and it prompted a thought in me. What about Meccano? It’s a construction toy invented by Frank Hornby (the train dude) that I’ve always wanted but never given.
  • I showed the Fenton video to an American. It’s easily my most favourite viral name of the year. Currently we’re called my brother Fenton.

It seems ages ago now that I posted the Lies Non-Name Nerds Tell Me post, but I now have yet another interesting occurence to add to the list:

  • My Fatyher showed an American the infamous Carling Black Label advert whilst at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. You know, that one which heavily references the war, in line with a very British sense of humour. The man in question was not particularly impressed, to say the least – but he later asked why Carling was such a popular name. Perhaps there was something lost in accent translation, but I think he may have meant to say either Charlie, Carly or maybe even Carter. That said, Carling is an interesting option if you don’t mind the alcohol reference. Stella hasn’t done too bad, and plenty of Rebeccas are known as Becks without issue. Let’s not even get onto the subject of ladies named things such as Shandy, Brandy and Meade.
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Disney

Princess Merida, from inquisitr.com

Ariel and Jasmine are the classic examples of names which can both attribute some of their popularity to a Disney film. Logically speaking, therefore, upcoming Disney films could feature future starlets of the name world.

And the most recent release of Tangled has shown just that – the male lead character was called Flynn. Well, nicknamed Flynn for Eugene. At the same time, the Disney Channel Original Series Good Luck Charlie is about to welcome child no.5. The names of the currently four of them are:

  • ‘PJ’
  • ‘Teddie’
  • Gabriel ‘Gabe’
  • Charlotte ‘Charlie’

Teddie is female, and I’m fairly certain it’s short for something; I haven’t the foggiest what, though. As for the name of no.5, if I’m honest, none of the names on the poll really stood out for me when I went to cast my vote, but here are the ones in contention:

  • Sydney
  • Erika
  • Mallory
  • Talia
  • Jenny
  • Noah
  • Jonah
  • Bobby Jr.
  • Bo

Wreck-it Ralph is due to be released in November 2012, featuring the eponymous character and there’s a fellow character called Fix-It Felix. Ralph and Felix? Both names I’m hearing more and more often, so Disney could be bang on here. For England&Wales in 2010, the names ranked at:

  • Ralph – #258 (2009 ranking: #294)
  • Felix – #122 (2009 ranking: #122)

Ralph comes from Old Norse roots, and means wolf counsel, whilst Felix is well-known for meaning lucky in Latin.

Moving closer to now we get to The Secret World of Arrietty is yet another take on the classic tale of The Borrowers. It was actually released in Japan in 2010, but is due to be released by Disney in the US at the start of 2012. Other members of the Clock family include Pod, Homily and Peagreen. According to the Disney page, it’s AIR-ee-ett-ee, and one could presume that neatly side-steps the issue Harriet and Harry seem to suffer in the States – that being people pronouncing it as they do hairy. One set of parents from 16 and Pregnant have recently welcomed child no. 2, a daughter: Arri.

As much as I loved The Borrowers when I was a kid, the film I’m really looking forward to? Brave. The lead character is to be a redhead, so it can only do wonders for my kind. I did initially believe that the lead female was called Brave, but alas, she’s actually called Merida. Sounds rather mythical, but the film really gets down to choosing whimsical Scottish-esque names when it comes to most of the other already-announced characters:

  • Fergus
  • Elinor
  • Angus
  • Harris
  • Hubert
  • Hamish

I tip my hat to ye Disney. All perfectly wonderful names. But something we should not forget is that Disney don’t just make films for theatrical release, they make plenty for their TV channels, which remain full of inspiration. Frenemies is due to be aired in January 2012,  names from which includes:

  • Avalon
  • Halley
  • Kendall
  • Cherie

Both Geek Charming and Lemonade Mouth have already been released this year, so aren’t upcoming releases per se, but there are some names featured in them which are worth a mention; from the film Geek Charming:

  • Dylan (female)
  • Asher
  • Lola
  • Ari (male)

Ari, Arri and Arrietty in one post from three different sources? It’s certainly not a trend I’d have intended to mention. I guess it makes sense, for me, given the immense popularity of similar sounding Harry and Harriet here in England&Wales – both are Top 100. I guess this is yet another potential trend for me to keep an eye on.

And some names from Lemonade Mouth (which has an upcoming sequel):

  • Wendell ‘Wen’ (male)
  • Mohini ‘Mo’ (female)

To be honest, if I’d seen only the nicknames and had been told one was male and the other female, I’d have guessed the opposite to what they actually are. Does that qualify Wen and Mo for our Girlish Nicknames on Boys post? It probably does.

As a final thought, the Disney Channel Original Series, Shake It Up, has an upcoming film in the works, thus the names of it’s characters qualify for this post:

  • Cecelia ‘Cece’
  • Raquel ‘Rocky’
  • Flynn (brother of Cece)
  • Ty (brother of Rocky)
  • Tinka

All very modern-mama sounding names, and it’s yet another mention of Flynn. Something that has to be said, though, is that Flynn fell between 2009 and 2010: from #216 to #289. It will be interesting to see next year’s list to see where he’s heading next.

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