The original voice of Ursula the Sea Witch in The Little Mermaid was Elaine Stritch. When Ms. Stritch proved to be too difficult to deal with, she was replaced by Pat Carroll who seemed born to play the role.
Monday, December 30, 2013
The first person inducted as a Disney Legend was Fred MacMurray, who starred in seven Disney films- The Absent-Minded Professor, Son of Flubber, The Shaggy Dog, Follow Me, Boys, Bon Voyage, The Happiest Millionaire and Charlie and the Angel. The Happiest Millionaire holds the distinction of being the last film whose production was personally supervised by Walt Disney.
Sunday, December 29, 2013
Saturday, December 28, 2013
Friday, December 27, 2013
Before DISNEYLAND opened, the sleepy agricultural city of Anaheim knew that things were going to change. Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom was going to bring millions of people from around the world to town and they wanted to put their best foot forward to show the world that Anaheim meant business. Mr. Disney was more than willing to help and he enlisted his artists to create a new character for the city- Andy Anaheim! The rascally booster could be seen on letterhead, recreation T-Shirts and anywhere the city was being promoted.
The little guy was phased out during the 1980's as being too outdated, but he's making a comeback! Andy has appeared online, on T-Shirts, and around town. So the next time you're in Anaheim, keep an eye out; you never know where he might show up next....
Thursday, December 26, 2013
Many people assume that Walt Disney's first successful character was Mickey Mouse, but while Mickey is definitely his most famous character, he wasn't the first huge success that Walt Disney had. That honor goes to a little rabbit named Oswald.
Oswald was a plucky little rabbit who became an overnight success years before Mickey Mouse. Walt thought highly of the little guy and had high hopes for his success. Unfortunately, Universal Studios had other plans. They wanted Oswald all to themselves and since Walt had agreed to sign away the copyright to Oswald in exchange for Universal's distribution deal, there was nothing he could do. Never one to give up, Walt created the one and only Mickey Mouse who became a worldwide phenomenon while his older brother Oswald became a footnote in animation history.
Fast forward to just a few years ago. Disney CEO Bob Iger studied up on company history before taking the reins and promised Diane Disney Miller that he would get Oswald back. And he came through on his promise! NBC, now a part of Universal Studios, wanted the contract of an ABC Sports anchor and Bob Iger saw the opportunity to get Walt's first creation back in the family fold. The agreement was signed and Oswald returned to stand beside his younger brother in the Disney family, right where he belongs!
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Walt Disney's father was not supportive of his artistic endeavors. He saw the arts as a waste of time and never encouraged Walt to draw. There were too many chores waiting for Walt on the farm for him to waste time with such a useless activity. So who did encourage Walt? His beloved Aunt Margaret. "Aunt Maggie" would always visit with notepads, crayons and anything a young child would need to express himself artistically. Sometimes she even had to sneak them into the house.
Maybe Walt would have still pursued an artistic career even if he didn't have anyone to encourage it, but we can certainly thank Walt's Aunt Maggie for sparking an interest that would lead to Oswald, Mickey, Snow White, DISNEYLAND and Mary Poppins. We have so much to thank her for.
Sadly, Aunt Margaret didn't live long enough to see the success her nephew would have, but it's fairly certain that she would have been proud of him. It is hard to imagine a world without the happiness created by Walt Disney, and his very special aunt deserves some of the credit for helping him discover his talents and eventually share them with the world. Thank you, Aunt Maggie!
Monday, December 23, 2013
Legend has it that Anaheim's Katella Avenue, which lies south of the DISNEYLAND Resort, had its name chosen by Walt Disney himself. Walt, according to the legend, named the street after his daughters- Kate and Ella.
A nice anecdote, but Walt's two daughters were named Diane and Sharon. Plus, the street providing the current southernmost boundary of the DISNEYLAND Resort got its name long before Walt Disney even knew about a city named Anaheim. In fact, the name even predates his birth.
The street is actually named after two sisters- Kate and Ella Rea. Kate and Ella's parents owned much of the land that would eventually be turned into DISNEYLAND. In fact, their father most likely planted the walnut trees that still separate the Jungle Cruise from Main Street. The road south of the family farm was probably given its name by their father. When the City of Anaheim started growing, they naturally kept the name, since most people were already using it.
While Kate and Ella were still alive to see Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom spring up on their family's farm, their family had long since sold the land off and they were not the ones who sold it to Walt Disney. Many people urged Walt to get the street renamed "DISNEYLAND Road", but he refused. He liked the name 'Katella' and felt that such a historically named street should not be renamed. (Besides, as many people may remember, the main parking entrance was on Harbor Blvd. The Katella gate was only used during peak times.) So whenever you drive down Katella Avenue, think about Kate and Ella Rea.
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Friday, December 20, 2013
DISNEYLAND's mighty Matterhorn almost put a wedge between Walt Disney and his brother Roy. Throughout his life, Walt needed cash to fund his dreams. His brother Roy would always do his best to find it, but he had reached the breaking point in 1958. After finally seeing the profits roll in from DISNEYLAND, Roy figured that the park would comfortably begin to coast and become a reliable profit maker for the company. But Walt was making plans to expand the park and build even bigger and better attractions.
Roy was understandably upset and refused to approve Walt's next big project- Matterhorn Mountain and the Submarine Voyage. They got into a huge argument and stopped talking to each other. Walt soon decided to take the first step and patch things up with his brother, offering to send Roy and his wife on a European cruise, all expenses paid. Roy accepted the offer and promptly embarked on a relaxing cruise out of the country.
Upon Roy Disney's departure from the United States, Walt Disney became solely responsible for the company and promptly approved the massive projects without needing his brother's approval. Did he pull one over on his brother? Probably not. Roy could never really say no to Walt. Eventually he would probably cave in, so why not get a free trip out of it?
Thursday, December 19, 2013
The petrified tree found in DISNEYLAND's Frontierland was originally a gift from Walt Disney to his wife. Joking that she had nowhere to put such a large object, Mrs. Disney donated the tree to the park in 1957, where it remains to this day.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
When Disney established Touchstone Television, (Now called ABC Studios) it wanted to make more adult television shows without having to use the Disney name.
Since it was "make or break" time for a company barely getting back on its feet after the huge expense of building EPCOT Center nearly brought it down, the first show needed to be a success to prove that the company could produce hits. The first show not only met that goal, it succeeded beyond anyone's wildest dreams.
The Golden Girls was an instant hit, bringing generations together to laugh at these funny ladies who quickly became America's grandmothers. Despite some racy content, the show appealed to all ages and was an amazingly huge success becoming a worldwide phenomenon. The world loved Touchstone's Girls.
All four ladies were named Disney Legends in 2009. (Only Betty White was able to attend the ceremony.) The show not only became a legend unto itself, but it also helped save The Walt Disney Company.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Everyone knows about Donald Duck's three nephews, but Daisy Duck also has relatives- her three nieces. Named April, May & June, the three young ladies were just as rambunctious as the more well known Huey, Dewey & Louie. Used mostly in the legendary Carl Barks comic books, but have occasionally turned up elsewhere, like on The House of Mouse.
Monday, December 16, 2013
Yes, Jim Henson had a favorite DISNEYLAND attraction! Considering how Mr. Henson loved bright, colorful things and entertaining children, it might come as no surprise that his favorite ride was it's a small world.
Jim loved the ride so much that he included a tribute to it in the Muppet Vision 3D film. The next time you're at Disney California Adventure or Disney's Hollywood Studios, pay close attention to Sam the Eagle's stirring tribute at the end of the film. At the very beginning of the musical number, muppetized versions of a few of the it's a small world dolls appear with the other Muppet performers.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Friday, December 13, 2013
Many new technologies and entertainment concepts have been introduced or displayed at DISNEYLAND. Tomorrowland in particular has exhibited many technological marvels over the years. However, even in a land like Frontierland which celebrates the past, one can find a history of innovation. For Frontierland was the birthplace of one of the biggest consumer products introduced in the latter part of the 20th century- Doritos tortilla chips.
Initially tucked away between The Golden Horseshoe and what is now the River Belle Terrace was "Casa De Fritos", a Mexican restaurant that is often credited for popularizing Mexican food among middle Americans. The restaurant served up Mexican dishes with a free side of Fritos corn chips.
Gotta love those prices, right? And what in the world is a "Tacup"?
One fateful day, the representative from the company that supplied the tortillas for the restaurant stopped by to check in with park management and noticed that cast members working in the kitchen were throwing away broken tortillas. He advised the managers that they could make extra money by cutting up the broken tortillas into chips, frying them up, seasoning them and selling the resulting product. The chips were added to the menu and became an instant hit.
There was one obvious problem, however. The restaurant was supposed to be promoting the sponsor's product- Fritos; not these new spicy chips. Due to their popularity, however, the management was loathe to remove the chips and merely became careful about hiding their menu item from the DISNEYLAND sponsorship staff.
Soon enough, their unapproved menu item would be exposed when the head of Frito-Lay showed up for an impromptu lunch with Walt Disney. He was curious about these chips and made sure to order them. They were an instant hit!
Rather than get mad, the head of Frito-Lay saw the opportunity to create a brand new product. Soon enough, the enterprising tortilla representative was signing up Frito-Lay as a new customer and a new product was introduced- Doritos.
The chips were a huge success and all because of DISNEYLAND! Each day, millions of people open bags of Doritos without knowing that this classic snack got its start at the Happiest Place on Earth.
Casa de Fritos eventually became a part of DISNEYLAND history when Frito-Lay ended its sponsorship. Since then, the restaurant has changed its name and sponsors twice and is still a popular place to eat in Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom. Of course, hardly any of the guests enjoying a meal there realize that it was the birthplace of one of the most successful snack foods ever created.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
The Red Cars featured in the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit were really busses modified to look like the historic trolleys that once transported people around Los Angeles before being junked in favor of freeways.
Smaller versions of the beloved red cars have turned up at Disney California Adventure, transporting guests (and occasionally Newsies) from the Hollywoodland area of the park to Buena Vista Street.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Walt Disney's favorite song was from the movie Mary Poppins, but it wasn't Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. (the one most people normally guess.)
His favorite song was Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag). Walt would often ask the brothers to "Play it" after meeting with them on other issues, most often on Friday afternoons and they always knew which song he meant and always obliged. On the occasion of what would have been Walt Disney's 100th birthday, Richard Sherman performed the song one more time.... for Walt, at DISNEYLAND.