Featured Attractions

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Origins of ABC

Long before The Walt Disney Company purchased ABC in 1995, even before it invested in DISNEYLAND in 1955, ABC was a fledgling network that owed its very existence to anti-trust law. You see, it was formed from the cast off parts of two companies- NBC and Paramount.

Under the old studio system, the big studios owned their own theaters. This was deemed a violation of anti-trust law, however, so the studios had to divest their theater holdings. Paramount spunoff its theater chain into an independent company run by Leonard Goldenson. 

Meanwhile, NBC and CBS also ran afoul of anti-trust laws. Back then, they were mostly involved in radio and ran coast to coast radio networks. NBC had two separate networks- NBC Red and NBC Blue. The red stations were the stronger ones, so when they had to sell off part of their empire, they chose to sell NBC Blue.

Sensing that movie theaters had already seen their greatest years, Mr. Goldenson chose to buy NBC Blue, sell off Paramount's theaters and form a third network- ABC. It would find itself hanging on by a string until it chose to invest in a tiny park that a crazy man planned to open in Anaheim, California. A decision that would turn the third place network into a powerhouse.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Disney Quote Weekends

"Remain seated please. Permanencer sentados, por favor."

-Matterhorn Safety Announcenent

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Disney Quote Weekends

“DISNEYLAND will be a place for California to call home, to bring its guests, to demonstrate its faith in the future.”

-Walt Disney

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Disney Family: Webbigail Vanderquack

Webbigail Vanderquack is the granddaughter of Mrs. Beakley, maid to Uncle Scrooge. Cute, adventurous and plucky, "Webby" lived in Uncle Scrooge's mansion and befriended his nephews. Unofficially adopted as a niece by Scrooge McDuck, Webby went on all of his adventures in the Disney cartoon DuckTales. Always accompanied by her favorite Quacky Patch Doll, Webby would become a favorite of little girls watching the classic show.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Griffith Park and DISNEYLAND

Walt Disney himself traced the origins of DISNEYLAND to "Daddy's Days" at Los Angeles' Griffith Park, where he regularly took his daughters for rides on the famed carousel. While waiting for his daughters to complete their rides, he wished for some place where parents and children could enjoy the fun together. A place like DISNEYLAND.

Located on the other side of Griffith Park is amazingly another inspiration for DISNEYLAND- Walt Disney's Barn. This barn was built by Walt Disney in his Carolwood Drive backyard in the 1940's. He often worked on his backyard railroad inside the building and also created miniatures that he planned to send on a cross country tour called "Disneylandia". The project was deemed to be unfeasible, but Walt Disney's sights soon turned to a much bigger project- DISNEYLAND.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Disney Differences: Pirates of the Caribbean

The last attraction supervised by Walt Disney was the classic Pirates of the Caribbean, the ultimate audio-animatronic attraction. The enormous sets, elaborate caverns and total immersive elements make it among the greatest themed rides ever built. The version that opened at DISNEYLAND has yet to be matched, even by its clones around the world.

One might assume that all of the different iterations of the ride are the same, but that's not at all true. The original ride at DISNEYLAND remains the most elaborate of the various versions with the one at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom being the least elaborate and shortest. The attraction's placement in DISNEYLAND's New Orleans Square, hemmed in on one side by the DISNEYLAND Railroad, required some unique engineering. The two waterfall drops at the beginning of the ride were necessary to get guests underneath the train tracks and into the show building, which is located underneath what is now Downtown Disney.

When Roy Disney began planning the Walt Disney World Resort (the version cut down from Walt Disney's original plans) he assumed that since Florida was near the Caribbean, nobody there would be interested in the attraction, so there were never any plans to build it there. Early guests to Roy Disney's Magic Kingdom remembered seeing the attraction on the Wonderful World of Disney and asked why their east coast park didn't have one. Park management rushed a clone into production but had a problem; despite the vast size of their new resort, they hadn't left enough space to fit the elaborate version of the ride from DISNEYLAND. 

Roy Disney's Magic Kingdom had no New Orleans Square so it had to go into the park's version of Adventureland. Florida's high water table precluded any underground segments, so they had to settle for an abbreviated version of the ride. Gone was the Blue Bayou Restaurant, the initial waterfall drops and the elaborate caverns. Florida's ride also omits the entire ghost sequences- the ghost sailor, the bar scene, bedroom scene & treasure room. Its version begins in an abbreviated cavern area and hastily shows the dramatic ship fight. The rest of the ride proceeds as normal until the famous jail scene where the pirates attempt to get the key from a crafty dog. In Florida, the ride abruptly ends around the last turn, omitting the fiery finale and the exciting shoot out at DISNEYLAND. Roy Disney's Magic Kingdom guests would need to buy an airline ticket to California to see the complete Pirates Attraction.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Disney Legend #6: Milt Kahl

The sixth person named a Disney Legend was another of Walt Disney's "nine old men", Milt Kahl.

A California native, Mr. Kahl was at Disney from the beginning, working on the first animated feature- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He also animated a character near and dear to us- Pinocchio. Milt was considered an expert draftsman and often was tasked with turning rough character sketches from other animators into finalized drawings that are still used today as key character art.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE was specially placed at its location in the park for one reason- it sits at DISNEYLAND's original entrance, which had an address of 1313 Harbor Blvd. A perfect address for a hotel in the Twilight Zone.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Disney Quote Weekends

"I think that it really explains a lot about Walt. He was a caring man. He cared about people which explains why DISNEYLAND is still a happy place and it will be a happy place for years and years and years to come."

-John Hench

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Disney Quote Weekends

“The greatest thing about DISNEYLAND is that its magic stays with you forever.”

-Ralph Castaneda

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Ward Kimball

The newest train on the DISNEYLAND Railroad is the Ward Kimball, named after the legendary animator and Disney Legend. Look closely and you'll see a Jiminy Cricket painted in gold on the train. It's perhaps Mr. Kimball's most well known character.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Captain EO

When Captain EO premiered at DISNEYLAND in 1986, it was widely believed to be one of the most expensive movie productions ever. The movie allegedly cost $17 Million, which is amazing considering that it is only 17 minutes long and that it cost $17 Million to build the entire park back in 1955. While other movies had cost more than $17 million, they were all much longer films. EO had cost a staggering $1 Million a minute.

It's forgotten today, but Captain EO was a phenomenon at the time. Wait times of over two hours often greeted DISNEYLAND guests after the opening and the line stretched outside of Tomorrowland and down Main Street. In EPCOT Center, the film provided a much needed attendance boost. The film has ended its second run at DISNEYLAND just this week.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Village Haus Cover-Up!

Look up at the entryway in the Village Haus restaurant in DISNEYLAND. See how Figaro is helpfully yanking the exit sign? A bit of Disney whimsy? Actually it's a little cover-up!

When DISNEYLAND first opened, Walt had to make some sacrifices to save money. One of those was to build out Fantasyland with a "medieval carnival fantasy" theme instead of the Old Europe look that Walt originally wanted. (Ironically, his brother would choose to use the "medieval carnival fantasy" theme that Walt hated out in Florida.) In 1981, Walt's son-in-law chose to fix this at DISNEYLAND by building the Fantasyland of Walt's dreams.

So the New Fantasyland was built! New facilities, new facades and more were built and in the midst of all the construction, a rather obvious problem cropped up- a contractor had misaligned this exit sign, a problem that could only be fixed by tearing the wall down, a setback that would further delay the grand re-opening of Fantasyland.

Enter the enterprising Imagineers. A quick paint job and the error would now look intentional- though crafty Figaro hints at the real reason behind the subterfuge by winking at us. A clever cover up that meant the park would be able to open its new Fantasyland on time.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Don Defore's Silver Banjo Barbeque

Located in the wild frontier of DISNEYLAND, Don Defore's Silver Banjo Barbeque was owned by THE Don Defore, who played neighbor to Ozzie and Harriet and the father on the classic sitcom Hazel. He was also a friend of Walt Disney and in 1957, when the Casa de Fritos moved to a larger location a few doors down, Mr. Defore jumped at the chance to setup his own restaurant in DISNEYLAND.

Serving (of course) barbeque dishes, the restaurant was truly a family affair, with Mr. Defore's children helping out. (But mainly sneaking off to explore the wonders of DISNEYLAND.) the restaurant closed in 1961 when the neighboring Aunt Jemima's Pancake House expanded into the space.

The story of the Defores at DISNEYLAND doesn't end there, however. Don's sons wanted to put up a tribute to their father's restaurant, but DISNEYLAND management was cool to the idea, so they made their own and surreptitiously installed it one busy day! (Don't try this at home!) The plaque lasted for quite some time, with the DISNEYLAND custodial department even creating a "How To" guide on how to clean it. The unauthorized plaque was eventually discovered and removed. (It was installed on the bottom half of the door pictured below.) Discussions to create a permanent, authorized tribute are allegedly still underway.

Monday, June 16, 2014

55 Years of the Matterhorn, Monorail & Submarine Voyage at DISNEYLAND

According to Disney Legend Harriet Burns, Walt Disney could sometimes be a bit demanding but was always fair with his staff. While he hated when someone dismissed an idea of his without really looking into it, he was reasonable if, after much research, he discovered that an idea of his was technically impossible. After all, when his original idea for Space Mountain was deemed ahead of its time, Walt tabled the idea rather than just build something substandard. So that's why Harriet Burns was stressed during an interesting meeting about the Matterhorn...

Harriet recalled the meeting as starting off well. Mr. Disney had brought in some outside architects and went over his plans... He wanted a replica of the Matterhorn, only with a bobsled ride running inside of it. The DISNEYLAND Skyway would run through it as sleek monorails glided around it. And just across the way? A submarine lagoon, complete with a fleet of submarines that would take DISNEYLAND guests on a trip to liquid space. The staff turned to the architects to see what they thought...

And they quickly dismissed the idea as impossible without giving it any consideration. Harriet expected Walt to become enraged, since the architects hadn't really put any thought into why they rejected the idea. They just did. Walt, however, graciously thanked the architects and led them out of the meeting room. Walt's staff assumed that since he didn't get visibly mad, he had accepted the opinion of the architects. After he reconvened the meeting, he made it very clear- they were going to build it all anyway. He didn't care what those architects thought.

So 55 years later, we're still enjoying the projects that were deemed impossible- the Matterhorn, the Monorail and the Submarines, because as Walt Disney once said- "It's kind of fun to do the impossible." It's a favorite quote of ours and one that Mr. Disney consistently proved was more than just a saying.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Disney Quote Weekends

"DISNEYLAND proved to me that if you've got enough guts and intelligence and drive you can accomplish anything."

-Marvin Davis

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Disney Quote Weekends

"When I started on Disneyland, my wife used to say, 'But why do you want to build an amusement park? They're so dirty.' I told her that was just the point - mine wouldn't be."

-Walt Disney

Friday, June 13, 2014

Walt Disney Home Video

Believe it or not, Hollywood studios were initially reluctant to release their films on home video. They actually sued Sony to prevent the sale of Betamax VCRs. Once home video became an accepted fact of life, Disney was one of the first studios to begin releasing videocassettes and the first feature length animated film released was Robin Hood. Priced at the low, low price of $79.95, sales were not initially brisk. 

Unsure of whether this was due to the price point or a lack of interest in this specific film, Disney decided to try something different; rather than liquidate the unsold videos through a discount chain, Disney signed a deal with the then ubiquitous photo finishing chain Fotomat to sell Robin Hood and selected other films for $29.95 in a limited time deal. The response was huge. People loved the idea of watching Disney films at home for the right price. From that point on, every Disney release was priced at $29.95 or less and Walt Disney Home Video became the leader in home entertainment.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Disney on Atari: Sorcerer's Apprentice

In the early 1980's, everyone was crazy about Atari and Disney wanted to be at the forefront of the video game craze. While Disney translated its latest movies (like Tron) into video games, it also mined its classic characters for new video games- even the classic Fantasia. While it doesn't seem like an ideal candidate for a video game, Sorcerer's Apprentice was actually a natural for a video game adaptation. With out of control brooms throwing buckets of water into a pit that's rapidly filling up with water, players take control of Mickey Mouse as he tries to stem the flow of water by eliminating the brooms. Other characters featured in games included Snow White and Donald Duck.

Happy Birthday, Richard Sherman!

Happy Birthday, Richard Sherman! Mr. Sherman was one half of the famed Disney songwriting team responsible for many Classic Disney songs. Along with his brother Robert Sherman, he was responsible for the songs it's a small world, The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room, Let's Get Together and all of the songs from Mary Poppins including Walt Disney's favorite song Feed the Birds. Mr. Sherman is 86 years old today. Happy Birthday, Mr. Sherman and thank you!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Wuzzles

When Disney was looking to re-enter broadcast television, one of their first productions was The Wuzzles. This cartoon, which featured characters who were a combination of two different animals (Moosel was a moose/seal hybrid, Bumbelion a Bumble Bee/Lion) was a co-production with Hasbro, which produced a full line of toys and games. Unfortunately, the show didn't last long, with only 13 episodes produced.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

DISNEYLAND Sponsors: The Swift Company

When DISNEYLAND was being built, Walt Disney desperately looked for every penny he could scrape up to finish the park. Many people doubted the park would succeed, so money was hard to come by. Walt sent his staff members out to shake the bushes for potential sponsors and one of the first companies to sign up was the Swift Meat Packing Company. Swift sponsored three locations at the Magic Kingdom- The Swift Market House, The Red Wagon Inn and the Chicken Plantation Restaurant.

The Chicken Plantation, located in Frontierland, sold fried chicken dinners made with Swift Brand chicken. The restaurant was DISNEYLAND's answer to Mrs. Knott's Fried Chicken, though it never became as successful as Knott's Berry Farm's legendary restaurant. The Chicken Plantation was eventually replaced by the New Orleans Square expansion in 1966.

The Red Wagon Inn was a restaurant located at the end of Main Street right outside Tomorrowland. It served various dishes which made use of Swift's products. The Red Wagon Inn was replaced by the Plaza Inn, also in 1966. Coincidentally, the Plaza Inn now serves great fried chicken dinners.

The Swift Market House was located on Main Street, but what it actually sold remains in dispute. While some Disney historians believe it operated as a regular butcher shop, selling uncooked Swift meats, others believe it just sold coffee and housewares, much like it does today. The building is now called just The Market House and was recently renovated to sell Starbucks Coffee.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Happy Birthday, Donald Duck!

Eighty years ago on this day, Donald Duck made his debut in the classic cartoon short The Wise Little Hen. Playing a selfish character who refused to help the Hen of the title grow corn, Donald wasn't the star of the short. He stuck out from the other characters, however, and soon became a worldwide phenomenon.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Disney Quote Weekends

"Mickey Mouse popped out of my mind onto a drawing pad 20 years ago on a train ride from Manhattan to Hollywood at a time when business fortunes of my brother Roy and myself were at lowest ebb and disaster seemed right around the corner."

-Walt Disney

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Disney Quote Weekends

“Every day in some small way, we are a part of Walt’s dream, whether walking through the park, watching amazing movies or television, or just spending time together. It all started with a young cartoonist landing in Los Angeles, his friend Mickey Mouse in his heart, a trunk full of dreams and ambitions, and most importantly, a lifetime of stories to tell.”


Friday, June 6, 2014

DISNEYLAND Parade Week: The Main Street Electrical Parade

For many years, the end to a magical day at DISNEYLAND would be capped off by viewing the dazzling Main Street Electrical Parade. Millions of twinkling lights covered each and every magical float in a parade powered solely by batteries! (Energizer was a longtime sponsor of the parade.)

The classic DISNEYLAND version of the parade stepped off nightly from 1971 until 1996. In 1997 it was transported to New York, where it was displayed as part of the premiere of the animated film Hercules. From there, it was sent to Florida, where it ran until 2000 in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom theme park. In 2001 it returned to California to run at DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE. In 2010 it was sent back to Florida where it remains to this day. (Though it is rumored to be returning to DISNEYLAND soon.)

"Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. DISNEYLAND proudly presents our spectacular festival pageant of nighttime magic and imagination. In thousands of sparkling lights and electro-magnetic musical sounds. The Main Street Electrical Parade!"

Thursday, June 5, 2014

DISNEYLAND Parade Week: The Lion King Celebration

In 1994, Disney knew that it had something special in its newest animated film The Lion King. Even before the film was released, the DISNEYLAND Entertainment Department set about to translate the magic that would be unleashed on theater screens into a real life spectacular. And spectacular it was!

DISNEYLAND's Lion King Celebration was a rhythmic salute to the movie that graced Main Street, often up to three times daily! Widely regarded as the greatest parade ever staged by DISNEYLAND (or any Disney theme park for that matter) The Lion King Celebration set the bar for what a parade could be so high that it has yet to be matched. The parade was so beloved that Disney produced a popular videocassette sold only in DISNEYLAND that quickly sold out to grateful guests who were happy to take home a reminder of a truly magical experience.

"It's the circle of life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle
The circle of life."

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

DISNEYLAND Parade Week: Party Gras!

DISNEYLAND has a well earned reputation for throwing the biggest, boldest parties. So in 1990 when it was celebrating its 35th birthday, it threw its biggest party yet- Party Gras! Featuring oversized Disney character balloons, festive multi-colored confetti and a Caribbean sound, nobody could resist the magic of DISNEYLAND's Party Gras!

"Everyday we're starting something
DISNEYLAND is jumping
Do the Party Gras!"

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

DISNEYLAND Parade Week: Happy Birthday, Donald Duck

He may be a bit on the rough side, but deep down we all know Donald Duck is a softie. Despite his hair trigger temper, Donald has become an internationally known and beloved star. In 1984 he celebrated a milestone- 50 years! And all of his fans and friends wanted to join the celebration! And what a celebration it was! DISNEYLAND threw a party suitable for a King (or mouse.) A memorable song, bright floats and a cavalcade of Disney characters delighted guests twice daily.

There's a party, party,
a party today.
A once a year occasion.
A party, party!
Is coming our way,
Donald's Birthday celebration!

Monday, June 2, 2014

DISNEYLAND Parade Week: Totally Minnie

We kick-off summer by remembering famous DISNEYLAND Parades!

DISNEYLAND didn't always have year round parades. Guests would typically see parades only during the summer months and the Christmas season. So the summer months were an especially special time to visit the Magic Kingdom. One of the more memorable parades of the 1980's celebrated an often overlooked Disney character- Minnie Mouse!

Given a 1980's makeover, Minnie Mouse hit the streets of DISNEYLAND in the Totally Minnie parade performed twice daily. With an infectious theme song, day-glo wardrobe and a valley girl attitude, Minnie Mouse finally got the attention she deserved.

"When she flashes those long lashes
she brings down the house. 
Who else could it be but Minnie Mouse?"

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Disney Quote Weekends

“Mickey and I started out that first time many, many years ago. We’ve had a lot of our dreams come true. Now we want you to share with us our latest and greatest dream. That’s it right here: DISNEYLAND.”

-Walt Disney