Sunday, November 30, 2014
"Life is composed of lights and shadows, and we would be untruthful, insincere, and saccharine if we tried to pretend there were no shadows. Most things are good, and they are the strongest things; but there are evil things too and you are not doing a child a favor by trying to shield him from reality. The important thing is to teach a child that good can always triumph over evil."
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Friday, November 28, 2014
This picture was taken in DISNEYLAND during construction, probably in March or April of 1955. The grand opening was just a few months away and Walt Disney was starting to worry about whether the place would be ready by July. His Magic Kingdom, however, was taking shape.
Thursday, November 27, 2014
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
When DISNEYLAND was in the planning stages, Walt Disney was planning something special for his Adventureland- "Jungle River", where guests would be taken on an adventurous cruise by their intrepid skipper. It would be an exciting adventure through a wild, tropical jungle!
However, the faux robotic animals and vinyl leaves of DISNEYLAND's "jungle" were not eliciting the sort of reaction Walt had hoped for. He turned to Imagineer Marc Davis to see what could be done to improve the ride. Marc's suggestions were so drastic that a few members of DISNEYLAND's staff didn't even want to present them to Walt Disney for fear of angering him.
Marc's drastic suggestions were to scrap the seriousness of the previous cruise and turn each boat into a floating comedy club. Instead of intrepid skippers, the new captains of the Jungle Cruise would be comedians, cracking jokes about the vinyl leaves and robotic animals. Rather than get upset, however, Walt loved the idea and gave Marc the go ahead to do whatever was needed to make the suggestions a reality. This involved writing a new script and making the seemingly serious animal scenes a bit more comical. Guests loved it. So if you love the Jungle Cruise, thank Disney Legend Marc Davis.
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
One of the first structures built at Walt Disney World and one of only a handful of WDW hotels within walking distance of a theme park, the Contemporary Hotel was an ambitious undertaking. Designed to be modular, the hotel's rooms were built offsite and then slid into place onsite.
This unique construction process was designed to allow Disney to remodel and refurbish more efficiently. New rooms could be built and designed offsite. Instead of having to put rooms out of commission for weeks, the room could be swapped out in a day. Amazing, right?
Well, it would have been amazing if the process had actually worked. The designers of the hotel neglected to account for the natural settling that would take place when the rooms were slid into place. They quickly realized that once these rooms were put into their places they weren't going anywhere. Resort refurbishments would have to be accomplished the standard, old fashioned way.
Monday, November 24, 2014
In the late 1980's, Disney decided to branch out into other businesses. Following the success of The Disney Store, the company wanted to add to its mall portfolio and a Disney themed restaurant seemed to be a good idea. Mickey's Kitchen opened two test restaurants in Southern California and Illinois. The locations weren't as successful as Disney had anticipated and were closed in the early 90's.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Friday, November 21, 2014
Looking for the fastest way to get from LAX to DISNEYLAND? If it's the 1950's or 1960's, You could make the trek above the traffic of Southern California in an L.A. Airways helicopter!
This express to DISNEYLAND actually landed on Disney property, in a special heliport exclusively used by L.A. Airways. Originally located roughly where Innoventions is located, the heliport was first moved to where the current shuttle bus drop off area is off Harbor, then eventually to a spot north of the DISNEYLAND Hotel where the Downtown Disney parking area is today.
Today, the only way to get from the airport to Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom is via those crazy Southern California freeways.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Marion Knott, the last surviving child of Walter and Cordelia Knott, founders of Knott's Berry Farm, has passed away at the age of 92.
Back before urban sprawl turned Orange County into a concrete jungle, the county was known for its produce. One of the many family farms that struggled to make ends meet in the “Great Depression” was owned by Walter and Cordelia Knott. While times were pretty tough, the location of the Knott family farm alongside State Route 39 made it a popular stop for the thousands of folks who drove down to the Orange County beaches for a nice day out. Unfortunately, selling jams, jellies and fruit was not enough to sustain the farm, so Mr. Knott convinced his wife to open up her kitchen and sell her delicious chicken dinners to the weary travelers who passed the farm each day. Mrs. Knott served her first chicken dinners in June of 1934.
Word soon spread far and wide that Mrs. Knott’s chicken dinners were something special. Soon thousands of people trekked out to “Knott’s Berry Place” to see what all the fuss was about and they were all treated to the same delicious dinners and warm customer service. In fact, the restaurant was so successful people often had to endure long waits to get a table. In order to deal with these crowds, Mr. Knott began building what would eventually become Knott’s Berry Farm. The theme park might now overshadow Mrs. Knott’s Fried Chicken, but the delicious chicken dinners still attract millions of guests a year who order the same fried chicken that Mrs. Knott first served 80 years ago. It’s hard to believe, but a simple plate of fried chicken not only saved the Knott family farm, but allowed it to grow into the huge theme park that it is today.
Marion Knott was born on the farm and quickly began helping her parents by selling rhubarb at the fruit stand. When the chicken restaurant opened, she was tasked with being a waitress and helping her mother in the kitchen. Her interests, however, were with the budding ghost town her father was constructing outside the restaurant. As the ghost town grew, she became involved in its operations. It was her prodding that convinced her parents to put a fence around the park and expand its offerings. She actively oversaw many of the park's expansions up until it was sold to Cedar Fair in the 1990's.
So why would we mention a competing park on a Disney website? The two Walts- Disney and Knott- never saw themselves as competitors. Mr. Knott knew that DISNEYLAND would attract people from around the world who might want to visit his ghost town. Mr. Disney knew that his guests would want to experience more of Southern California's attractions and thus the two attractions would have a symbiotic relationship. The loss of Ms. Knott is the loss of yet another tie to the glory days of vintage Orange County. Marion Knott and her family made history and the world will be forever grateful that they dared to dream big.
The Walt Disney World Resort in Florida not only copies several elements from the original DISNEYLAND, it also features several references to Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom in Anaheim, California.
The Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse in Florida's Magic Kingdom Park features this sign in front of the attraction- the date listed on the sign is exactly 150 years before the grand opening of DISNEYLAND.
This outdoor vending location at Disney's Hollywood Studios is an obvious reference to the original DISNEYLAND. It's named after the park's hometown of Anaheim.
In an exhibit about Walt Disney's life, the only park he designed and built- DISNEYLAND- is heavily featured despite being 2500 miles away.
The exhibit also features several famous costumes and props from Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom of DISNEYLAND, including this costume from the famous Golden Horseshoe Revue, worn by Betty Taylor.
DISNEYLAND is always seemingly close by- even all the way in the swamps of Florida.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
On November 18, 1928 Mickey Mouse made his debut in Steamboat Willie. He instantly became a worldwide phenomenon.
“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.”
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.
Oh, I adored Mickey Mouse when I was a child. He was the emblem of happiness and funniness. You went to the movies then, you saw two movies and a short. When Mickey Mouse came on the screen and there was his big head, my sister said she had to hold onto me. I went berserk.
Mickey Mouse... is always there-he's part of my life. That really is something not everyone can call their claim to fame.
Monday, November 17, 2014
As longtime readers may remember, Walt Disney couldn't find a suitable voice for Mickey Mouse so he provided the voice for his best friend.
As he branched out into feature films, live action and theme parks, Mr. Disney had less and less time to record Mickey's lines. Not wanting to go through the process of auditioning new Mickey voices again, Walt decided to look inside the company and found the perfect new voice- Jimmy McDonald. Mr. McDonald was the head of the sound effects department at the Disney Studios and was already occasionally providing random Mickey squeaks as needed.
As Mr. McDonald headed into his retirement, he took it upon himself to find his replacement. He found it in the sound effects department in the person of a young assistant- Wayne Allwine. Mr. Allwine would go on to become a high profile voice, even taking his work home with him; he married Russi Taylor in a romance befitting a Disney film; she was also the voice of Minnie Mouse. (Russi is pictured with Wayne below.)
Sadly, Mr. Allwine passed away in 2009. This time, the company would find its Mickey outside the company. Bret Iwan worked for Hallmark, designing greeting cards. He was working on a line of talking Mickey Mouse greeting cards and decided to record his own voice on the demo card that was going to be provided to Disney's licensing team. The Disney licensing team thought that Hallmark had used real Wayne Allwine recordings for the card and were impressed to discover that it was Bret's voice on the prototype. They remembered this when Mr. Allwine passed away and the magic of Mickey continued with the casting of Mr. Iwan.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
"Oh, I adored Mickey Mouse when I was a child. He was the emblem of happiness and funniness. You went to the movies then, you saw two movies and a short. When Mickey Mouse came on the screen and there was his big head, my sister said she had to hold onto me. I went berserk."
Saturday, November 15, 2014
Friday, November 14, 2014
"Round 'em up! Bring 'em in! Everybody's sure to win! Step right up, here we go, oh what a rodeo!" Fridays were Talent Roundup Day on the Mickey Mouse Club! Lucky and talented kids were invited to show their skills off before a national audience of Mouseketeers!
The talented kids who performed were awarded with honorary mouse ears and memories to last a lifetime.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Thursdays on the Mickey Mouse Club were Circus Day, a day where the Mouseketeers would show their various circus related talents.
Circus Days were a strange choice to fill a day, considering that the Mickey Mouse Club Circus at DISNEYLAND was a rare failure for the park. Circus Days were eventually Eliminated by season three of the Mouse Club, replaced by an un-themed day.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Anything could happen on Wednesdays; it was Anything Can Happen Day on the Mickey Mouse Club! Skits often centered on amazing things, such as rides at DISNEYLAND, educational films about other countries and interesting hobbies or abilities of the Mouseketeers themselves.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Tuesdays on the Mickey Mouse Club were Guest Star Days. The Mouseketeers would welcome guests who had a variety of talents, including Disney animators, singers and dancers.
Guests included Wally Boag of DISNEYLAND's famed Golden Horseshoe Revue, the voice of Jiminy Cricket Cliff Edwards and the Firehouse Five Plus Two, a band that consisted of Disney animators.
Monday, November 10, 2014
The Mickey Mouse Club featured different theme days. Monday was "Fun With Music Day" which typically featured a day of music and songs sung by the Mouseketeers themselves.
Mondays were a day when the Mouseketeers could show their musical talents by singing and dancing. Originally conceived as a showcase for Darlene Gillespie, who was seen as being the "star" of the Mouseketeers, it quickly became a day for Annette, who had been crowned the star by the Mouseketeers at home.
Sunday, November 9, 2014
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Friday, November 7, 2014
Walt Disney knew that Annette Funicello had a crush on Guy Williams who played Zorro on the classic Disney show Zorro. So he decided to give her a very special birthday gift- a guest starring role on the show. Annette cherished this special gift for the rest of her life.
Thursday, November 6, 2014
Not every corner of DISNEYLAND was picturesque on opening day. Witness The Canal Boats of the World, a delightful Fantasyland boat ride past barren hills and empty vistas.
Walt Disney was running out of money, of course, and had to prioritize what projects could get completed. What was originally supposed to be an elaborate boat ride past miniature versions of Disney characters and villages had to be scaled way back to what park employees jokingly called 'the mud bank ride'. Guests still enjoyed it, however, and it was pretty popular up until the Fall of 1955 when it closed.
DISNEYLAND had been wildly successful and money was rolling in. While Roy Disney wanted to bank the money, Walt was eager to spend it to improve his park. One of the first projects was to fully realize Walt's original vision for a miniature village on the banks of his Fantasyland canal. Storybook Land would open less than a year after DISNEYLAND's grand opening, a fully realized dream come true.
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Walt Disney created many amazing attractions at DISNEYLAND and large companies took notice. When the 1964 New York World's Fair was ramping up, many companies asked him to do something for them. General Electric wanted a show that would feature the various advances in technology that took place throughout the twentieth century with a positive look at what the future held in store. Walt Disney created the Carousel of Progress.
The attraction was carefully built in California and flown out to New York to entertain millions. When the World's Fair ended, General Electric paid to move the attraction out to DISNEYLAND where it anchored the new Tomorrowland of 1967. The attraction would make another cross country trip, this time to Florida. Eager to get more attractions open in Florida's "Magic Kingdom", the show was carefully reconstructed in Orlando, with America Sings taking its place in DISNEYLAND. "Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress" remains in operation in Florida to this day.
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Originally, the movie studios wanted nothing to do with television. They feared that the little box in everyone's living room would kill the movies. Walt Disney, however, saw television as a way to promote his movies and more importantly see his biggest dream come true.
Originally titled Disneyland, Walt Disney's weekly show not only provided important cash to build his Magic Kingdom, it also gave him a way to tell the world what he was building out in Anaheim. Most people still didn't fully understand what DISNEYLAND was. Was it a city? A fair? A carnival? Mr. Disney was able to explain what DISNEYLAND would be in a way that he couldn't in a film. The show also made Walt a household name; recognizable by millions around the world.
Monday, November 3, 2014
After decades of relying on other companies to distribute its films and produce its records, Walt Disney Productions began bringing things in house in the 1950's. Fueled by profits from DISNEYLAND, Roy Disney setup Buena Vista Pictures Distribution to release Disney films and DISNEYLAND Records to create soundtrack albums based on Disney films and television projects. Walt Disney supported the new businesses since they would result in the company being able to keep more of the money it earned from its various projects.
DISNEYLAND Records started up as a way for the company to release soundtracks from the theme park; outside record companies balked at selling anything from an untested enterprise. While its early releases included many records tied to DISNEYLAND, the very first release on the DISNEYLAND Records label was Walt Disney presents A Child's Garden of Verses. The first release not only had nothing to do with DISNEYLAND, but didn't even feature any Disney characters. Future releases would feature Annette Funicello, Disney movie soundtracks and even the fabulous Golden Horseshoe Revue.