Featured Attractions

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Disney Quote Weekends

“One of the things that I’ve learned from Walt that I use in my everyday work and life is that nothing is impossible. The quote of his that I love the best is, ‘Actually, it’s kind of fun to do the impossible.’ I try to remind myself and others of this every day.”

-Ralph Castaneda

Friday, May 30, 2014

Unbuilt Dreams: Big Rock Candy Mountain

After the success of DISNEYLAND's Matterhorn, park management pestered Walt to build another coaster. When Walt's idea of Space Mountain proved to be ahead of its time, Walt came up with a different idea for a magical mountain adventure- Big Rock Candy Mountain. An elaborate mountain, covered with large bits of "candy" would have a high speed train racing through gumdrop caverns and lollipop forests. 

Disney Legend Harriet Burns was assigned to create a model of the mountain, so she went to various candy stores and bought all the sweets she could carry. She returned to Walt Disney Imagineering and set about creating a model of the mountain as pictured below. Her workshop became a popular place as others sought to raid her candy stash. After finishing the model, she recalled that Walt spent a lot of time staring at it and came to the same conclusion she had- that it was just too much. However, he thought maybe it might look better outside in natural lighting, so they wheeled it outdoors. As soon as they stopped the cart and stood back to look at it, a huge flock of birds descended on the model and began tearing it apart, eating the candy. They all saw it as a sign that Big Rock Candy Mountain wasn't meant to be. 

The mountain was obviously never built, but its train elements were used in Big Thunder Mountain Railroad years later. The area it was meant to fill (behind Storybookland and the Casey Jr. Circus Train) is now occupied by the Fantasyland Theater. A replica of Harriet's model was made from non-edible materials as a tribute and can be found across the esplanade in DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE at the Trolley Treats Candy Shop.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Walt Disney's Special Plush Mickey

He was there from the start- Mickey Mouse! And Walt Disney enjoyed taking him everywhere he went, even the grand opening of his biggest dream- DISNEYLAND Park. The special plush Mickey Mouse- dressed in a railroad engineer uniform, was made especially for Walt Disney and was a one of a kind item. Whenever Walt found himself in the park or visiting sick children he'd take his best friend along to bring smiles to everyone.

This special Mickey, who was seen by millions on TV and thousands in person was carefully retired and eventually placed in the Disney Archives. Extremely fragile, he doesn't get hugged much these days, but is specially preserved so that he will still be around for years to come.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Rest in Peace, Maya Angelou

Regarded as one of the greatest writers of the 20th Century, Maya Angelou inspired the world. Ms. Angelou faced so many obstacles on her way to success, yet she conquered all of them, becoming an inspiration to millions.

From 1993 until 2000, Ms. Angelou was the voice of Walt Disney World's Hall of Presidents, welcoming millions of guests to the patriotic salute to U.S. presidents.

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

-Maya Angelou

Walt Disney's School Desk

When Walt Disney returned to his boyhood home in Marceline, MO, he was given the opportunity to sit in the very same desk he used when he was a child in grade school. How did they know it was the same desk sat in by Walt? Well, Walt left his mark on the desk- literally. The naughty young boy carved his initials in the desk- W.D.

What could have just been a mere act of delinquency turned this special desk into a very valuable item indeed. Guests at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Orlando, FL can see the very same desk in One Man's Dream, a temporary exhibit located in the animation courtyard area of the theme park.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Feature #5: Bambi

The fifth Disney feature animated film was a vivid, detailed picture about a young white tailed deer who struggles to grow up in the forest with his family and friends. Funny, beautiful and frightening, Bambi pulls no punches in depicting life in the forest. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Anaheim Vacationland: Stovall's Motels

Not many people believed in Walt Disney's dream, but Al Stovall did. Mr. Stovall opened a chain of motels at various locations surrounding DISNEYLAND. An optimist, much like Walt Disney, Mr. Stovall designed his motels with futuristic themes, using crazy "googie" architecture, topiary trees and bright lights to make his locations stand out from the rest of the pack.

A few of the motels were sold to DISNEYLAND and demolished to make way for the resort expansion in 2001. The remaining properties are still held by the Stovall family, but have been remodeled. Gone are the flashy space age elements and names, only to be replaced by blander, less interesting architecture.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Disney Quote Weekends

“Walt Disney’s secret was to do things you don’t need, and do them well. And then you realize you needed them all along.”

-Ray Bradbury

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Disney Quote Weekends

“I still think about Mr. Disney all the time. It’s funny but sometimes when I feel discouraged or have a problem I can’t work out, I find myself thinking ‘If only Mr. Disney were here, he would know what to do.’ And I’m sure he would.”

-Annette Funicello

Friday, May 23, 2014

The DISNEYLAND Stagecoach

The DISNEYLAND Stagecoach was a Frontierland attraction that opened with the park in 1955. Shown here with various Orange County dignitaries, the stagecoach explored the wild frontier. The stagecoach's original path wound around the Rivers of America, roughly where the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad exists today. When "Rainbow Ridge" was built, the stagecoach was routed through the mountain, though it didn't last long. The horses often proved too unpredictable, causing slow loading times and erratic operation. The stagecoach itself still lives on as a prop back in the Big Thunder Ranch and occasionally gets used for special parades on Main Street.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Star Wars: The Empty Box!

Hardly anyone thought that Star Wars would be a huge hit. Even Fox Studios, which bankrolled the original film, didn't think too highly of the film. When George Lucas needed more cash for special effects, the studio refused to give him any. Desperate, George gave the studio a new proposal- he would work for the guild minimum, taking merchandising rights instead of pay. He would then take his salary and some of the merchandising money and use it for special effects. While this seems like a colossal mistake nowadays, Fox eagerly accepted the deal.

It was certainly a risk for George, but it was the best decision he'd ever make. As we know now, Star Wars was a huge success and the merchandising rights, seen by Fox as useless, were a gold mine that established Lucasfilm as a separate entity that would prove a formidable force in Hollywood. The merchandise would prove to be so successful that they couldn't make it fast enough, so the Kenner toy company did the impossible; it actually sold an empty box!

The empty box, as shown below, featured some nice stuff to look at and a coupon to redeem for the actual action figures at a later date. The mighty Star Wars name could apparently sell anything- even an empty box!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Spot the Generalissimo!

One of the funnest games to quietly play while watching any Marvel film is to spot the "Generalissimo" himself- Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee. Shown below in a recent episode of ABC's Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, some of Stan's appearances are more blatant than others, but he has typically found a part in every Marvel film since 1999's X-Men. Disney has continued the tradition since purchasing the company in 2009.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Disney Legend #5: Ollie Johnston

One of Walt Disney's legendary "nine old men", Ollie Johnston had a hand in virtually every Classic Disney animated film, animating many classic characters including one of our favorites- Pinocchio! Often mentioned alongside fellow legend and lifelong friend Frank Thomas, Mr. Johnston's influence is still felt in the world of animation. (As previously noted, the folks at Pixar included this homage to him and Frank in The Incredibles.)

When Mr. Johnston wasn't helping Walt Disney revolutionize the art of animation, he often relaxed with his backyard train setup. Sound familiar? It was his setup (along with Ward Kimball's train) that inspired Walt to setup his own backyard train- a train that eventually inspired Walt to build DISNEYLAND.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Disney Villains: The Evil Queen

Driven by vanity and an urge to punish her stepdaughter, the Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first and most frightening Disney feature film villainess. It was reported that she so frightened children that the Radio City Music Hall had to reupholster several seats in the theater after children wet their pants at the sight of her. (The movie's runaway success meant that the management wasn't too upset at this predicament.) Setting the standard for future villainy, the Evil Queen proved that outer beauty was worthless if it was merely hiding inner ugliness.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Disney Quote Weekends

"The most important thing is, even if we're apart I'll always be with you."

-Christopher Robin

Friday, May 16, 2014

DISNEYLAND Celebrity Cast Member Week: Mickey Mouse

As we cap off a week of DISNEYLAND cast members who became famous, it's important to point out the real star of Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom- MICKEY MOUSE! 

If DISNEYLAND has a king, it would truly be the leader of the club that was made for you and me- Mickey Mouse!

DISNEYLAND Celebrity Cast Member Week: Joanna Kerns

Known to millions of fans as "Mrs. Seaver" from the hit 1980's sitcom Growing Pains, Joanna Kerns also found herself making dreams come true in DISNEYLAND's Main Street Electrical Parade. Dressed as the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio, Ms. Kerns led off the nightly festivities from atop the shimmery, lighted parade unit that represented the Blue Fairy's gown. Who could have guessed that years later she'd be making millions of people laugh each week?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

DISNEYLAND Celebrity Cast Member Week: Michelle Pfeiffer

Many a magical night was spent at Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom watching the legendary Main Street Electrical Parade. Filled with dazzling lights and powered by DISNEYLAND magic, the parade capped off many memorable visits. It also featured more than one future Hollywood star- like Michelle Pfeiffer!

The young Ms. Pfeiffer, who would become a gorgeous movie superstar, appeared nightly in the parade as the beloved Disney character Alice from Alice in Wonderland. One of only two "speaking" roles in the parade, Michelle reigned from atop Alice's lighted mushroom, dazzling thousands of guests every night.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

DISNEYLAND Celebrity Cast Member Week: Richard Carpenter

Before teaming up with his sister Karen to form the legendary music act The Carpenters, Richard Carpenter could be found plunking away on Main Street as the Coke Corner piano player. Richard and his sister would later film a music video in the Magic Kingdom singing their cover of Please Mr. Postman.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

DISNEYLAND Celebrity Cast Member Week: Teri Garr

Years before becoming an Oscar nominated actress who charmed her way onto David Letterman's show, Teri Garr was entertaining tourists from around the world in DISNEYLAND's Show Me America. This lavish production premiered in 1970 on the Tomorrowland stage, which would later become part of the Space Mountain complex. Eventually the stage would be removed and become the Magic Eye Theater, home to Captain EO.

Monday, May 12, 2014

DISNEYLAND Celebrity Cast Member Week: Steve Martin

This week we highlight the DISNEYLAND cast members who made the big time!

First up- Steve Martin! Mr. Martin grew up just down the street from the Magic Kingdom- literally! He was just a kid from Fullerton who was mesmerized by the DISNEYLAND grand opening special. Like the hundreds of millions of people who tuned in to see Walt Disney's greatest dream come true, he was instantly drawn to the park. Unlike most kids, however, he was actually close enough to act on his desire to be a part of DISNEYLAND. The very next day little Steve rode his bike down Harbor Blvd. and tried to apply for a job. He was too young for a "real" job, but he soon found work as a paperboy on Main Street, selling copies of the DISNEYLAND News, which was a newspaper published from a printing press on Main Street.

When he got old enough for a "real" job, Steve found himself at the Magic Shop, demonstrating the various magic tricks for sale and operating the cash register. On his breaks, Steve would march on over to the Golden Horseshoe, where he would marvel at the antics of the legendary Wally Boag, who took Steve under his wing, teaching him "old school" show biz tricks of the trade, sparking an interest that would lead Steve Martin to international fame.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Disney Quote Weekends

"When I think of heroes, I always think of Mr. Disney. God Bless that man!"

-Annette Funicello

Friday, May 9, 2014

Special Events at DISNEYLAND- Grad Nite

One of the most enduring traditions at DISNEYLAND has been Grad Nite. Generations of high school graduates have celebrated their achievements at DISNEYLAND. The tradition continues to this day only at DISNEYLAND. (Walt Disney World ended its similar Grad Nite a few years ago.)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Special Events at DISNEYLAND- Polka Party Nite at DISNEYLAND

Not every special event at DISNEYLAND became legendary. In the early years, DISNEYLAND would often try just about anything to see what park guests might find entertaining and that apparently included polka music. Needless to say, "Polka Party Nite" never became an enduring DISNEYLAND tradition.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Special Events at DISNEYLAND: Dixieland at DISNEYLAND!

Dixieland at DISNEYLAND was a jazzy party that featured something that was uncommon in the 1960's- unlimited rides at the park! Not only that, but the special "Salute to Dixieland" was hosted by the legendary Louis Armstrong!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Special Events at DISNEYLAND: Date Nite at DISNEYLAND

"Live bands at DISNEYLAND! With the Elliott Brothers on the stand- under a million twinkling lights- Friday and Saturday nights!"

Every Friday and Saturday night was "Date Nite at DISNEYLAND!" Couples were encouraged to visit the park together and enjoy a wonderful evening under those twinkling lights.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Special Events at DISNEYLAND! Cinco de Mayo

Through the years, there have been many special events at DISNEYLAND! This week, we look back at some of the more memorable ones!

One of the earliest special events held at DISNEYLAND was to celebrate Cinco de Mayo! Led by Walt Disney himself, this special event featured mariachis, folklorico dancers and festive decor. Seen here on Center Street in DISNEYLAND is the leader of the festivities himself, Walt Disney.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Disney Quote Weekends

"We are standing by a wishing well. Make a wish into the well that's all you have to do. And if you hear it echoing your wish will soon come true."

-Snow White

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Disney Quote Weekends

“Think beyond your lifetime, if you want to do something truly great.”

-Walt Disney

Friday, May 2, 2014

Walt Disney's Favorite Restaurant

Walt Disney's favorite restaurant was the Tam o' Shanter Inn, which was conveniently located near his Los Feliz home and the offices of WDI, the division of his company more popularly known as Walt Disney Imagineering. Mr. Disney would often treat his imagineering staff to lunch at the restaurant and conducted impromptu meetings there.

The restaurant still stands today on Los Feliz Boulevard across from the Glendale Costco. The restaurant plays up its ties to Walt Disney and diners can request to be seated at Walt's favorite table. The restaurant is owned and operated by Lawrys, which sponsored DISNEYLAND's Mexican restaurant for many years.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Edna Disney's Wild Ride

Edna Disney, shown below between her husband Roy and Mickey Mouse, was reportedly visiting DISNEYLAND when she inquired about the then new attraction that had sprung up in Tomorrowland- Space Mountain. The Disney employee informed her that the ride was a roller coaster and probably not something that a woman of her age would enjoy riding. Mrs. Disney scoffed, insisting that she and her sister rode roller coasters all the time. She insisted upon giving this new mountain a test spin. Just as her rocket left the station, a Disney executive ran up to the loading dock, demanding to know why the employee had let the elderly wife of Walt's brother on a high speed coaster. As it turned out, Mrs. Disney had last ridden a roller coaster when she was a young lady decades earlier.

Of course, Mrs. Disney returned safely from her journey into the cosmos of Tomorrowland and excitedly gave her seal of approval to the ride, which would open a few weeks later.