Monday, March 31, 2014
Long before Marvel Studios began its current run of success at the box office and before it became part of The Walt Disney Company, films made from its stable of characters were more often miss than hit. The company didn't actually make the films itself so it had very little control over their content or quality.
After Batman became a huge success in 1989, studios scrambled to find comic book properties that could be optioned for feature length films. Enter the Fantastic Four!
Marvel quickly optioned The Fantastic Four, but put a clause in the contract that a film had to be produced quickly, or else the rights would revert back to Marvel. Legend has it that this came into play in the early 1990's. The production company that held the rights to the film was having issues coming up with a workable script and risked losing the rights to make a film. They then embarked on a strange plan to retain the rights by making a film that would never be seen...
Turning to Z-List producer/director Roger Corman, they budgeted $2,000,000 to make a quickie film that would technically satisfy their contract with Marvel that a film be produced by the deadline. This would let them hold onto the rights with a minimum investment. (As a comparison, the budget for the 1989 version of Batman was reportedly $49,000,000.)
Many stories surround the production; the actors claim they were told that the movie was being made as a pilot for a television show. Roger Corman denies that story and insists that he believed the movie was real and planned for it to get a release. What is known is that the film never got an actual release. (Some say the master print was destroyed by Marvel and no longer exists.) The film does live on in bootleg copies and the clips that exist show a film with hokey, bargain basement effects, bad acting and a non-sensical script.
With Disney's heavy duty home entertainment presence, the film might eventually see the light of day if it still exists. At least, that's what its ardent fans hope. It might seem far-fetched, but if the 1980's sitcom Small Wonder could get a DVD release, why not an (Un) Fantastic Four?
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Friday, March 28, 2014
Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room was originally supposed to be more than a show; it was also supposed to be a restaurant too. Sponsored by Stouffer's, the Tiki Room was originally planned to be dinner AND a show. They even went so far as to furnish the show floor with tables, chairs and fixtures suitable for a restaurant....
But then, several problems arose. Would guests be willing to eat under unpredictable birds? (Even though they were robotic birds?) Would they be able to clear the tables to allow new guests to enjoy the show? These issues were deemed insurmountable, so Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room opened without the restaurant and has been wowing guests since. Do any elements of the restaurant remain today? Yes! Look closely at the cabinet sitting under the central fountain; its original purpose was to store silverware, cups and coffee.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
In 1991, the area in front of the iconic "it's a small world" was transformed into Afternoon Avenue, a special place where kids could meet their favorite Disney Afternoon characters and ride attractions populated with their Disney friends like the Motorboat Cruise to Gummi Glen and the Chip 'N Dale Rescue Rangers Raceway. The attraction was only meant to last for one year, but its success paved the way for the introduction of Mickey's Toontown.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
On a chilly Thursday in December of 1901, a baby was born in this house at 1249 Tripp Avenue in Chicago, IL:
Nobody could have guessed that the baby born that day would bring so much happiness and fun to the world. This was the birthplace of Walter Elias Disney.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Monday, March 24, 2014
It's considered to be the "lost" land at DISNEYLAND- Holidayland opened in 1957 and was a nine acre playground for groups. Located roughly where New Orleans Square's backstage buildings and Tortilla Jo's stand today, Holidayland was meant to be a place where groups could gather in private surroundings away from the crowds at the park.
However, park management felt that Holidayland didn't have that Disney "Magic". In addition, many groups found that their members preferred to spend their time inside Walt's Magic Kingdom and weren't interested in visiting Holidayland. The "lost" land of Holidayland quickly closed in 1961.
An interesting fact: the tent used for the Mickey Mouse Club Circus we profiled last week was repurposed for Holidayland. After the tent's second failed life, it was exiled to Wisconsin, where it can still be seen as one of the exhibits at the Circus World Museum.
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Friday, March 21, 2014
One of the earliest DISNEYLAND seasonal attractions was the Mickey Mouse Circus, which ran in the Fall and Winter of 1955/1956. Meant to bring in larger crowds during what the park assumed would be a slower time, the circus featured many of the very same faces who were part of the hugely successful Mickey Mouse Club. Imagine being able to walk into DISNEYLAND on any given day to see the Mouseketeers perform? Unfortunately, the circus, which was located where the Matterhorn is today, would never see the types of crowds that had been hoped for. There were so many other amazing sights at DISNEYLAND that the thought of seeing a plain old circus (even one with a star studded cast) just didn't seem attractive enough. The circus never returned after its first engagement, though a circus themed promotion appeared in the late 1980's at the Happiest Place on Earth.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Walt Disney's friend Jack Wrather was one of the few persons outside of Walt Disney Productions who believed in DISNEYLAND, so he took the risk of investing heavily in building the DISNEYLAND Hotel. It was his greatest business success and as the Hotel grew he named many things after family members. Maizie's Pantry was named after his mother. Granville's Steakhouse was named after his wife's family and the Bonita Tower was named after his wife.
Today, Granville's Steakhouse is now called Steakhouse 55, the Bonita Tower is now called the Frontier Tower and the building that housed Maizie's Pantry no longer exists.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
"Here is a land of imagination, hopes and dreams. In this timeless land of enchantment the age of chivalry, magic and make-believe are reborn and fairy tales come true. Fantasyland is dedicated to the young and the young at heart, to those who believe that when you wish upon a star your dreams do come true."
-Walt Disney, 7/17/1955
Monday, March 17, 2014
A Saint Patrick's Day staple, Darby O'Gill and the Little People not only features some Irish cheer, but it's also one of Sean Connery's first Hollywood films. It also features a rarity; Sean Connery singing!
Sunday, March 16, 2014
"Follow-up single?!? Who do you think we are, some two-bit hacks who will keep writing you songs simply because you pay us obscene amounts of cash? Phineas and the Ferb-Tones are strictly a one-hit wonder. Good day to you, sir!" -Phineas
Saturday, March 15, 2014
Friday, March 14, 2014
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
The Haunted Mansion has inspired numerous myths and legends . . .
STORY: The original ride was so scary that it gave a man a heart attack. Walt ordered the ride changed to its current less serious version. This story is FALSE. It was most likely inspired by the fact that the house appeared on the riverbank several years before it officially opened as an attraction. DISNEYLAND needed to fill in the spot, but Walt was still struggling with what the Haunted Mansion should be. The house appeared before the ride, so guests created a story to explain why the house was vacant for so long.
STORY: The Haunted Mansion used to feature a "Hatbox Ghost" who was eventually removed. DISNEYLAND originally claimed that while the hatbox ghost was pictured in a popular Disney Storyteller book released at the time, it never appeared in the attraction. This story is TRUE, but DISNEYLAND's original explanation is FALSE. The hatbox ghost was in the ride when it was first built; his original location was opposite the ghostly bride. His head would "disappear" and reappear in his hatbox. Unfortunately, the effect was very fake looking, so Imagineering quickly removed the figure to adjust it. It wasn't successful so he was never returned to the ride. Since this all happened during the first week that the attraction was open, he was quickly forgotten, even by DISNEYLAND's press relations department who frequently answered questions about the ghost with denials. Now, he is not only remembered, but has been the subject of many pieces of merchandise and rumors of his possible return.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
The centerpiece of Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom is Sleeping Beauty Castle. The symbol of magic, dreams and fantasy since 1955, the castle had a small secret; it originally had nothing inside of it.
Running out of money, Walt didn't want to have to skimp on the centerpiece of his park, so while the outside was completed exactly as he had envisioned, the inside was left unfinished. It wasn't completed until 1959, just in time for the release of the animated film it was named after- Sleeping Beauty.
Monday, March 10, 2014
The fourth inducted Disney Legend was Ub Iwerks. Mr. Iwerks had been with Walt since his Kansas City days, well before he even dreamed of heading out to California. Ub was one of Walt's most trusted friends who had a hand in creating Oswald and Mickey Mouse.
Ub eventually wanted to head out on his own and had Walt and Roy buy out his shares of the Disney Studios. His non-Disney career never took off and Ub re-joined Disney in the 1950's, working on special effects.
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Friday, March 7, 2014
The very first Marvel comic was released in 1939. While the book itself was called Marvel Comics, the company itself was called "Timely Publications" and didn't name itself "Marvel" until 1961. Marvel Comics became part of The Walt Disney Company in 2009.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
One of the first shows aired on the Disney Channel was Welcome to Pooh Corner. Featuring a cast of Disney theme park style characters with animatronic heads, the gentle program sought to teach kids about values and being nice to one another. The popular show ended its run in the early 90's.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
The fourth feature length animated film from The Walt Disney Studios was Dumbo, Disney's cartoon about the baby elephant who could fly. It was Disney's shortest feature film, which caused problems with Disney's distributor at the time- RKO Pictures. RKO asked Walt Disney to make the film longer, an idea that he resisted because he felt the movie was the perfect length. Generations of children and their families have agreed.
Monday, March 3, 2014
What is this odd piece of metal?
It's a piece of DISNEYLAND history! This sturdy metal fragment carried millions of DISNEYLAND guests to Neverland and back! It was part of the original 1955 track for the classic Fantasyland ride- Peter Pan's Flight!