Featured Attractions

Thursday, April 30, 2015


Prior to heading out to California to follow his dreams, Walt Disney tried to make a go of it in Kansas City. His first job was with the Pesman-Rubin Studios where he met Ub Iwerks, who would soon become his good friend. The two friends soon grew tired of producing the same old types of films over and over again for their unimaginative bosses and decided to setup their own company. "Iwerks-Disney Studios" was supposed to be a place where the partners could do things their way and experiment with different styles.

Unfortunately, they didn't have much success and soon found themselves working for the Kansas City Film Ad Company. They soon caught the eye of the Newman Theater, which was unimpressed with what Kansas City Film Ad was producing for them. They offered Walt and Ub the opportunity to step out on their own and provide Newman with exclusive content. The guys could then work on whatever else they could dream up for other clients.

Thus Walt and Ub started up Laugh-o-Gram Films, luring away some of their other friends from Kansas City Film Ad. Unfortunately, Walt's dedication to quality and his inventive mind meant that Laugh-o-Gram's costs often exceeded its revenue. They soon found themselves bankrupt and out of options. Laugh-o-Gram Films closed forever.

Walt soon decided that his dreams were never going to come true in Kansas City. So he rounded up all the money he had, packed up his worldly possessions into a suitcase and took a train out to California. Once there, he would find success beyond his wildest dreams.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Fess Parker, King of the Wild Frontier

In the mid 1950's, Fess Parker's career appeared to be going nowhere. Stuck in B-Films, he was beginning to enter a crossroads- if his career wasn't going to take off the way he'd hoped, he would have to figure out what to do with the rest of his life. What happened next was beyond his wildest dreams.

Fess caught the eye of the man who would change his life forever- Walt Disney. Mr. Disney thought Fess would be perfect to play the role of Davy Crockett. Little did Fess know that the role would vault him from near obscurity to one of the most famous faces of the 1950's. Davy Crockett was everywhere- movies, TV, music, even DISNEYLAND. It was a one in a million opportunity and it catapulted Mr. Parker into a world of fame and wealth. The boys of America wanted to grow up to be just like him and he became the first big television celebrity.

Rather than fritter away his newfound wealth, Mr. Parker proved to be a great investor. He soon found himself owning a winery, resorts and hotels. Fess didn't need to act anymore and practically retired after his second big hit- Daniel Boone, left the airwaves.

Eager to follow in the footsteps of the man who started it all for him, Fess looked north for a new opportunity; he wanted to build a Frontier theme park and purchased several hundred acres in Santa Clara, California for a possible theme park. Fess hired the same man who did the initial feasibility studies for DISNEYLAND to assess the opportunities in Santa Clara. The opportunities were good, but Fess had a hard time convincing his business partners to actually build the park. J.W. Marriott, who had seen the success of DISNEYLAND had dreams of his own; he wanted to build three parks, one of which would be on the west coast. Since Mr. Parker had already gotten much of the footwork completed, the Marriott Corporation entered into an agreement to buy the land from Fess Parker. Marriott's Great America opened in 1976, just in time to celebrate America's centennial. Mr. Parker's dream came true, only for someone else.

In December 2004, Mr. Parker returned to the place where it all began- DISNEYLAND- to receive a rare honor- a window in Frontierland- the land that Davy Crockett built.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Golfing at the Magic Kingdom

Anaheim's Vacationland was growing by leaps and bounds. While it wasn't a surprise to Walt Disney, the world was indeed flocking to DISNEYLAND, just like he thought it would. This created numerous opportunities for those who had put their faith in DISNEYLAND's success to take advantage of the investments they had made in the area around Mr. Disney's Magic Kingdom. 

No one outside of Mr. Disney himself had made a bigger bet on DISNEYLAND's success than Jack Wrather, who developed the DISNEYLAND Hotel. DISNEYLAND's guests were clamoring for things to do, food to eat and more sights to see, and Mr. Wrather's enviable situation put him in the middle of it all. He needed to give his guests some new activities, but also make sure that he could easily remove them in the future to grow the hotel. He decided to build two golf courses- a traditional 18 hole par three golf course and a miniature golf course for the kids.

In the picture above, the miniature golf course was located by the number 1, with the regular golf course designated by the number 2. The DISNEYLAND Hotel still had plenty of open spaces at the time and the golf course was seen as a great amenity to offer guests until the hotel needed to grow into the extra space.

Where else could someone take a cruise through the jungle, visit frontier-era America then enjoy a nice round of golf in the same day?

The miniature golf course was even more magical. After all, it was across the street from the happiest place on earth! Featuring Mickey Mouse and miniature versions of the magical sights found across the street, this miniature golf course was enjoyed by both the young and young at heart.

Eventually, the hotel was bursting at the seams. On busy summer nights, they were turning guests away. The hotel needed to expand, so both golf courses became just a memory. The regular golf course was taken over by the hotel itself; guests enjoying a dip in the hotel pool, a meal at Goofy's Kitchen or staying in the Fantasy or Frontier Towers are walking over what used to be the main golf course. The miniature golf course location is now the tram loading area for guests who parked in the Mickey and Friends parking structure.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Disney Legend #22: Carl Barks

Carl Barks was born in Oregon in 1901. His father was a farmer who would move from farm to farm and job to job, a lifestyle that Mr. Barks would undertake himself early in life. It was this lifestyle that would inform Mr. Banks' future work with Walt Disney Productions.

Mr. Barks began working as an inbetweener at Disney in 1935. His knack for coming up with story ideas and gags got him transferred to the story department, working closely with the staff who wrote for Donald Duck. Sinus problems made him leave Disney to relocate to the Southern California desert where he hoped to operate a chicken farm. He decided to make extra money doing freelance work, which led to him working on Disney comics.

Mr. Barks' history with Donald Duck led to his getting assigned to draw "The Duck". It was this assignment that led to the golden age of Disney Comics. Carl Barks' most famous creation was Uncle Scrooge, who proved to be an enduring character. 

Mr. Barks' work was originally uncredited, but once DuckTales, which was heavily based on his work, had taken off, the Walt Disney Company began to celebrate Mr. Barks and his characters. In 1991, Carl Barks was honored as a Disney Legend, his work having entertained generations of children. Mr. Barks spent his final years attending Disney conventions where he was able to meet and greet his fans. He passed away in 2000 at the age of 99.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Disney Quote Weekends

"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing."

-Walt Disney

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Disney Quote Weekends

“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere.
I want it more than I can tell.
And for once it might be grand
To have someone understand
I want so much more than they’ve got planned…” 

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Story of DISNEYLAND: Building the Dream

1954 was a busy time at Walt Disney Productions. Not only did the construction of DISNEYLAND begin in Anaheim, but the studio's full slate of films continued to be produced, Mr. Disney's weekly television show began production and the legendary Mickey Mouse Club started pre-production. Despite all of these projects, Mr. Disney kept an eye on everything going on in his rapidly growing empire.

Onsite in Anaheim, Mr. Disney had a temporary tower setup in the park's hub area, where the "Partners" statue stands today. Walt would climb the tower so that he could see all of the construction going on around him. This allowed him to save time on his visits because he could get a look at his Magic Kingdom taking shape without having to tackle the vast acreage on foot.

Since the park had to open as soon as possible to get revenue flowing into the company to pay off the huge loans, Disney's Imagineers couldn't wait until the various structures and facilities were built out in Anaheim to start work on the wonders within the buildings. That's why most everything that would go into DISNEYLAND was being built out in the sound stages at the Burbank studio, 36 miles away.

Building things out in Burbank allowed the attractions to get tested and approved before they arrived onsite in Anaheim. This also let Walt supervise parts of the construction without having to trek down to the park itself. When the buildings in Anaheim were ready, the attractions would be disassembled, loaded onto trucks and hauled down from Burbank. Drivers on the 5 freeway often had to do a double-take as trains, ships and elephants inexplicably joined them on their commutes.

Mr. Disney loved supervising the construction of his amazing attractions. He saw himself as the advocate for his guests and he always had them in mind when inspecting the attractions and construction. Imagineers would live to hear him laugh with childlike glee as he inspected their work or tried out their attractions. They'd wince if he scowled and declared an attraction not good enough for "them."

Some visitors to the worksite would get a kick out of seeing Walt Disney crawling along the ground or walking around on his knees. Had Mr. Disney gone crazy? No, he was studying his park from the viewpoint of a kid. He wanted everything to be perfect and non-threatening from every possible angle.

As his Magic Kingdom started to spring up in Anaheim, the excitement was growing. Walt Disney's greatest dream was becoming a reality. Soon the world would be flocking to Southern California to experience Mr. Disney's magical adventures.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow

Walt Disney was an eternal optimist. He was always certain that no problem was too big that it couldn't be beaten with science and research.

Walt Disney understood that there were huge challenges and problems in the world, but in his mind, they could always be overcome with research and brain power. A great part of Walt's success was based on his optimism and excitement for the future. He never thought in terms of what happened in the past or where things stood today. He was always thinking of the future- and to him, there was always a great, big beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Original DISNEYLAND Attractions: The Jungle Cruise

One of the original and largest DISNEYLAND attractions is the world famous Jungle Cruise. However, the guests of today would find the trip down the rivers of the world quite different back in 1955. 

Sure, the boats looked similar and the vegetation was less expansive, but the biggest difference was the skippers. Back in 1955, they were deadly serious and told no jokes. After a year or so of the super serious skippers, Walt Disney wanted a change. He enlisted the help of Disney Legend Marc Davis, who decided a funnier Jungle Cruise was in order. DISNEYLAND operations feared what Mr. Disney would think when the proposal was presented to him. He surprised everyone by loving it. DISNEYLAND's Jungle Cruise would be joke filled forever more.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Amazing Fantasy, Amazing Spider-Man

The first appearance of Spider-Man was in August of 1962 in Marvel's Amazing Fantasy comic book. Lucky readers only had to plunk down 12 cents to buy the comic book. Could they have realized that this hero would become super? 

In any case, if one of those readers carefully stored their comic book away all those years ago and happened upon it now, it would be worth $41,000 today.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Great Moments with Mr. Disney's Hero

Walt Disney has become a hero to many. But who was his hero? For the answer to that, we can look way back to his school days. Asked to prepare a presentation in grade school, he chose to dress up as his hero- Abraham Lincoln. His presentation was so good, the principal pulled Walt out of class to give it to all of the other classes at the school. That's Walt pictured below on the right with his friend Walt Pfeiffer.

Years later, when Mr. Disney wanted to show the world his new technology called Audio-Animatronics, he featured his favorite hero- Abraham Lincoln.

Premiering at the 1964 World's Fair, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln would eventually move out west to DISNEYLAND, entertaining Mr. Disney's guests to this day.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Disney Quote Weekends

"Up on the shore they work all day. Up on the shore they slave away. While we're devoting full time to floating under the sea!"

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Disney Quote Weekends

"Girl groups?! Boogie-woogie on the piano?! What were you thinking?!?!?"

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Story of DISNEYLAND: A Vacationland in Anaheim

Tourists from around the world have always flocked to Southern California due to its famous beaches, near perfect weather and the allure of Hollywood. In the early fifties, however, if you drove 30 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, you'd see nothing but open fields full of orange groves, berry patches and other assorted farms. Oranges were the king crop, as reflected in the name of the county- Orange.

Far from the glitz and excitement of Los Angeles, however, the county was not a major stop for tourists. A roadside attraction called Knott's Berry Place was the biggest draw, known far and wide for its delicious fried chicken dinners and luscious berries, grown right there on the farm. As for the sleepy town of Anaheim, there was little to say about it. In 1954 only 2000 people lived there, though it was looking to grow its economy. That's when the world famous filmmaker Walt Disney arrived, looking to locate his Magic Kingdom in this humble town. In retrospect, it seems like it should be an easy decision to say yes to an economic dynamo. But this was a different time. Nobody knew anything about this 'themed park' and some thought it would be like a permanent carnival, full of rusty rides and carnies. Is that what the citizens wanted in their city?

Walt Disney eventually convinced them that DISNEYLAND would be a treasure, not a shiftless enterprise. He anticipated that the world would beat a path to DISNEYLAND and make Anaheim a must visit destination for Southern California tourists. While the original attendance and revenue projections assumed that DISNEYLAND would pull in its share of tourists from the people already visiting the area, Mr. Disney was certain that the park would be a draw of its own, bringing in tourists who only ventured to Southern California for DISNEYLAND. He quickly convinced city officials to approve this 'Magic Kingdom.'

With that step out of the way, Walt soon began the permitting process. However, this project soon overwhelmed Anaheim's small staff. How do you inspect a man made river for safety? Should a mountain be considered  a building? What about these small scaled structures Walt wanted to build? Getting assistance from Orange County, the city quickly made up the rules as they went along. Nothing of this size and purpose had ever been attempted anywhere, much less on the outskirts of a small town. Amusingly, there would be more people in DISNEYLAND on most any day than lived in the entire town.

With the details ironed out, construction began on July 16, 1954 with the expectation that this massive city in a city would open in less than 12 months. The city began touting itself in the press, placing ads calling Anaheim a city on the move that would be getting a place like none other.

Soon the world would be coming to Anaheim and the city wanted to be ready. As it turned out, they weren't exactly up to the challenge, but that's a story for another time. At this point, the clock was ticking. Walt Disney had rivers to build, rockets to launch and a castle to construct.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Disney Legend #21: Julie Andrews

Walt Disney considered many actresses to bring Mary Poppins to life. He saw an elegant, refined young lady when he thought of Mary. The author of the books, P. L. Travers, on the other hand, wanted a frumpy, middle aged woman like Mary Wickes, who had famously played Mary in a one hour CBS Special in the 1950's. Someone suggested to Walt that he attend a performance of My Fair Lady to see the productions' vibrant and lovely Eliza Doolittle- Julie Andrews. Walt was instantly won over and quickly offered her the role of Mary Poppins.

There was one problem, however- 20th Century Fox was working on an adaptation of My Fair Lady and Julie Andrews was the front runner for that role. She told Mr. Disney that she would do Mary Poppins, but only if she didn't get the role of Eliza in Fox's My Fair Lady. Walt agreed and when Ms. Andrews got passed over for the role of Eliza (a role that went to the non-singing Audrey Hepburn) she eagerly agreed to become the practically perfect nanny. History was made.

It is hard to imagine anyone else in the role; it's strange how things just work out for the best sometimes. Ms. Andrews received the role of a lifetime; the role she was seemingly born to play.

In the end, Ms. Andrews had the last laugh. Nominated against Audrey Hepburn for Best Actress, Mary proved to be her lucky charm; Julie Andrews won the Oscar.

The talented Ms. Andrews quickly became an icon. She has always spoken about how much she owed Walt Disney for entrusting her with the role of a lifetime; the role that won her the hearts of children and adults alike. The Walt Disney Company has given her numerous honors, enshrining her as a Disney Legend and naming her the DISNEYLAND Ambassador during its 50th Anniversary year. She also had a carousel horse at DISNEYLAND named after her:

And the legendary soundstage where she filmed Mary Poppins and The Princess Diaries was dedicated in her honor:

These amazing honors were well deserved. After all, how else does one honor a lady who is practically perfect in every way?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mickey Mouse's Sister

Did you know that Mickey Mouse has a sister? She isn't mentioned much outside of the Disney comic books, but she is the mother of his two nephews.

Her original name was "Amelia Fieldmouse" though she is now called "Felicity Fieldmouse". Early comics depicted her as a matronly older sister, but she was eventually said to be younger than her famous brother.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

First Quality, Second Cast

It's enough to make one crazy; a vivid memory of Alice from Alice in Wonderland with a different voice or thinking Sleeping Beauty's Aurora was voiced by Darlene Gillespie from The Mickey Mouse Club. A quick Google search reveals that Aurora's voice was provided by Mary Costa, so any memory of a different Aurora must be wrong. Right?

Actually, anyone of a certain age who was a kid before VHS can be excused for this confusion. While Alice and Aurora were voiced by Kathryn Beaumont and Mary Costa in the classic animated films, Darlene Gillespie provided their voices on DISNEYLAND Records' "Second Cast Albums" which is probably the source of confusion. After all, before kids could watch their favorite movies at home, they often had just one opportunity to see the film in theaters. If a family member purchased the "Second Cast Album" for them, that recording became their only way to relive the film, becoming more ingrained in their memories than the actual film itself. 

So what were these faux soundtracks and why did Disney release them? The exact reasons were complicated and varied. It could be that the studio didn't tie down the recording rights from the voice actors, but the public still begged for a release. Sometimes the songs from the original soundtrack were choppy or unsuitable for a recording; after all, Mr. Disney insisted that music suit the action on the screen and sometimes that didn't translate well to a recording. In any case, the studio still wanted to meet demand, therefore a "Second Cast Album" was commissioned. Walt Disney insisted on top quality in everything the studio produced, so rather than throw out cheaply produced recordings, he commissioned the immensely talented Salvatore "Tutti" Camarata to produce these albums.

Mr. Camarata was known for his lush orchestrations and ability to draw the best from the singers and musicians he worked with. He never skimped on the talent he hired to make these albums and often experimented with different techniques to get the results he sought.

It was this dedication to quality that made these albums so beloved. To many, Mr. Camarata's orchestrations were better than those from the film and what could have been cheap quickie cash ins became classics in and of themselves. 

Sadly, the company didn't treat these recordings with the same reverence it did the original soundtracks. Dismissed as "copies" that had been created to solve legal issues, these recordings were stuck in the vault for many years. When a CD on demand system that had been setup at DISNEYLAND to produce personalized soundtracks of theme parks sounds was due to be removed, an enterprising Walt Disney Records producer named Randy Thornton decided to save it by proposing that the machines be used to create CDs on demand featuring hard to find catalog selections- like Mr. Camarata's almost-forgotten second cast albums. The response was huge.

The archive titles eventually overwhelmed the system and the music was transferred over to iTunes, where they are still available. The greatest part of this story is that Mr. Camarata was alive to see his Disney works get the recognition they deserved. By a strange coincidence, he passed away exactly ten years ago yesterday- something that we here at RetlawYensid.Com didn't realize until we began writing this article. Perhaps we received some heavenly guidance for today's article; in any case, thank you Mr. Camarata for sharing your talent with the world.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Disney Legend #20: Ken Anderson

Ken Anderson took a strange journey to get to Disney. Mr. Anderson went to school to learn architecture, but was mainly interested in artistic pursuits. He was able to convince Walt Disney that his architectural background could be useful in animation and started out working on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. 

Over the years, he worked on many other classics like Pinocchio and Cinderella. When Walt Disney had problems with the outside architects he brought in to work on DISNEYLAND, he remembered that Mr. Anderson was an architect. Ken was transferred over to DISNEYLAND, Inc. and helped turn Mr. Disney's ideas into practical buildings. Unlike other studio staff who fully transitioned over to DISNEYLAND and Walt Disney Imagineering for the rest of their careers, Mr. Anderson flittered back and forth between the studio and the park. His varied projects included animated films, screenwriting and designing attractions.

Mr. Anderson passed away in 1993. His work continues to entertain millions throughout the world.

Disney Quote Weekends

"Sweet princess, if through this wicked witch's trick, a spindle should your finger prick... a ray of hope there still may be in this, the gift I give to thee. Not in death, but just in sleep, the fateful prophecy you'll keep. And from this slumber you shall wake, when true love's kiss, the spell shall break."

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Disney Quote Weekends

"We find it delightfully unlivable here in this ghostly retreat. Every room has wall-to-wall creeps, and hot and cold running chills. Shhh, listen!"

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Story of DISNEYLAND: Building The Team

It was finally go time for DISNEYLAND. On July 16, 1954 Walt Disney officially broke ground on his dream. Mr. Disney had already been laying out his plans for the park and arranging the team that would design and build his Magic Kingdom. It actually proved to be a bit of a challenge, but the ideal team was right under his nose...

Originally, Walt Disney brought in architects and designers to start drawing up plans. He quickly grew frustrated, since these people didn't seem to understand what he wanted. To explain the disconnect, let's take a look at a vintage postcard of Marceline, Missouri's Main Street:

This street was to be the inspiration behind DISNEYLAND's Main Street. But it was a plain looking, modest street that looks nothing like DISNEYLAND. The original designers were pretty much just literally interpreting what Walt said he wanted without giving it that Disney difference. Mr. Disney wanted his Main Street to be the front door of DISNEYLAND, providing reassurance to his guests that they had made a good decision to come out and visit this Magic Kingdom. Main Street needed to be a street that recalled the fondness of simpler times, not a slavish reproduction of them. Something had to change.

This early bump in the road encouraged Mr. Disney to try what had always seemed to work in the past- enlist existing employees who knew what he liked and entrust them to do the impossible. Architects could be brought in later to draft the final blueprints. Harper Goff was a brilliant set designer who had worked on various MGM films and Disney productions. He had never designed anything that lasted longer than a few months on a sound stage. Yet he found himself designing an entire Main Street- one that has lasted 60 years.

Ken Anderson was an animator, yet he soon found himself designing three dimensional interpretations of Disney's greatest films in Fantasyland. He later designed the Haunted Mansion. Not bad for a guy who saw himself as a mere artist.

Roger E. Broggie was a mere machinist who worked on odd jobs around the Disney Studios. He made Walt's multi-plane camera a reality and helped on various smaller projects. Could he build a fleet of trains? He certainly could and they are still operating today.

Bob Gurr came from outside the Studio, but he had been primarily designing cars. Walt entrusted him to design the miniature cars of the Autopia, and the Main Street vehicles. He later designed the sleek monorails. All attractions still loved by the public.

Harriet Burns was a "Jill of all Trades" who took on every project she was given with gusto. She had never put together a scale model of a mountain before, but she tackled it anyway. Walt Disney and millions of guests have enjoyed her work.

Once the right people were brought in, Walt's Magic Kingdom began to take shape. Walt learned to trust his instincts; his staff could make the impossible happen even if they didn't think they could. Walt's staff wanted to make him proud and took on seemingly impossible tasks to prove his faith in them. It is because of them that we have a DISNEYLAND. They helped Mr. Disney make his biggest dream come true.