Featured Attractions

Sunday, May 31, 2015

60 Days of DISNEYLAND #52: Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room

The original audio-animatronic attraction was Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room. Originally supposed to be a dinner show sponsored by Stouffers, the attraction became a regular show whose outside treat stand has been serving up Dole Whips since the 1960's. An insider's tip- you do not have to watch the show to use the serving window inside the patio, which often has a shorter line than the outside window.

For the full story, click here:

Disney Quote Weekends

"I've been twaumatized!"

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Disney Quote Weekends

"Oh the future's brimming with promise
And the promise is heading our way
So keep your eyes on that shining horizon
Make way for tomorrow today

Daring new devices will help us to succeed
Better tools for living will meet our every need
Incredible inventions through new technology
Extending life's dimensions for all humanity"

60 Days of DISNEYLAND #53: The Haunted Mansion

Over the years, many myths and legends have sprung up around the Haunted Mansion, most of them caused by the fact that the house itself was built several years before the attraction itself. Guests made up their own stories as to why the forbidding structure was vacant for so long. The truth was simply that Walt Disney hadn't decided what to put into his Haunted Mansion.

For the full story, click here:

Friday, May 29, 2015

Walt Disney's Dreaming Tree Collapses

The "dreaming tree" that inspired Walt Disney as a child has sadly collapsed in Marceline, MO after a strong windstorm. The tree had been a tourist attraction in the small city, as thousands trekked to the town to see the sights that had inspired Mr. Disney as a child.

While this very special tree may no longer be alive, the dreams that it inspired will always be with us.

(The Story of DISNEYLAND will return next week.)

60 Days of DISNEYLAND #54: Bras in DISNEYLAND

When DISNEYLAND first opened, one of the gift shops located on Main Street sold brassieres and intimate apparel.

For the full story, click here:

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Many Disney Studios

After Walt Disney arrived in California in 1923 with just $40, he quickly started building his empire. He began working out of his uncle Robert Disney's garage in Burbank, animating the Alice Comedies. This historic structure still exists just a few miles south of DISNEYLAND in Garden Grove, CA.

After Universal Studios agreed to distribute the Alice Comedies, Walt Disney joined forces with his brother to form the Disney Brothers Studio, officially becoming the company that exists today. They relocated a short distance away to a building that remains standing today.

Walt Disney produced the Alice Comedies and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit at this location before Universal Studios stole the rights to Oswald from him. Not one to give up easily, Mr. Disney created the most popular cartoon character in history- Mickey Mouse. Mickey's huge success afforded Walt Disney the opportunity to finally move into a studio that was more befitting a future Hollywood mogul. The famed Hyperion Studios are no longer standing, replaced by a supermarket.

As big as the Hyperion studio was, it wasn't big enough to house Mr. Disney's growing staff by 1937. Production of his first animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs had to be undertaken at various locations throughout the area. Luckily, the success of the film provided the funding to build a studio complex big enough to house all of Walt's staff- the current Walt Disney Studios in Burbank.

60 Days of DISNEYLAND #55: Nara Dreamland

In the 1960's, a Japanese businessman angered Walt Disney by building a cheap copy of DISNEYLAND in Nara, Japan. The architects on the project allegedly worked from DISNEYLAND postcards when designing the buildings.

For the full story, click here:

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

MMC- Rock the House!

In the late 1980's, programmers at The Disney Channel noticed something strange- one of the most popular shows on their schedule was the 30 year old Mickey Mouse Club and it wasn't just wistful adults watching; their kids were watching in droves as well. If the classic show was such a hit, would a new version be just as successful?

The company was a bit gun shy after a late 1970's version failed to connect with kids. However, times had changed. The company had its own channel now, so a huge flop wouldn't be too big of an embarrassment. Also, the new Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park at Walt Disney World was having problems getting shows to actually film there, so a new Mouse Club show would actually fill a void at the park while also promoting it to viewers. The network gave the green light and soon production began on Disney-MGM's first and ultimately only production- MMC: The New Mickey Mouse Club.

The show took the mainstays of the original show, gave them some 1980's polish and hit the cable airwaves in 1989. It was a phenomenon, quickly becoming the channel's top rated show and introducing America's kids to an impressive number of future superstars.

Future stars included Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, J.C. Chasez, Keri Russell and Ryan Gosling. The show didn't really help in luring more television productions to Orlando, but it did attract viewers. Disney Channel wouldn't have as big a hit until Lizzie McGuire premiered nearly ten years later.


Hotel DISNEYLAND? Yes, that's the actual Sierra Tower, un-photoshopped. Since the tower was built to be expandable, the elevator appeared to be mis-aligned. It was actually placed with the building's expansion in mind, which led to several awkward years.

For the full story, click here:

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Anaheim Vacationland: The Alpine Motel

Most of the motels that sprang up around DISNEYLAND were owned and operated by small businesses. The big guys initially shunned Anaheim, feeling that DISNEYLAND was still not established enough. (They wouldn't enter the market until the late 1970's.) 

Without established names, the small business owners had to find other ways to get attention. Many of them borrowed their theming from inside the park. One of the biggest new attractions to hit the Magic Kingdom was the Matterhorn. Guests who viewed the Matterhorn's grand opening at DISNEYLAND flocked to the park by the millions, so an enterprising motelier found an easy name for his new endeavor: the Alpine Motel:

Experienced guests of Anaheim's Vacationland might not recognize the place. Other than the name, the facade originally inspired thoughts of mid-century motel instead of Swiss chalets. As the motel found quick success, it later renovated its facade to match its theme and name:

Amazingly, this business is still open among the more modern look of the Anaheim Resort. A relic of the early days of Walt Disney's Vacation Kingdom.

60 Days of DISNEYLAND #57: The Golden Horseshoe

The welcome mat was always out at the Golden Horseshoe. The little theater in Frontierland was one of Walt Disney's favorite places in the park and ran for over 39,000 performances- a world record!

For the full story, click here:

Monday, May 25, 2015

60 Days of DISNEYLAND #58: Pepsi & Coke at DISNEYLAND

Up until the mid-1980's, DISNEYLAND didn't have an official soft drink. Both Pepsi and Coca-Cola were served; Pepsi on the western side of the park and Coca-Cola on the eastern side.

For the full story, click here:

Happy U.S. Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

60 Days of DISNEYLAND #59: Walt's Matterhorn

When Walt Disney decided that DISNEYLAND should have a Matterhorn Mountain, there were many people standing in his way- architects, some staff members and even his brother. Mr. Disney conquered every obstacle in his way and the mighty Matterhorn still stands today as an inspiration that anything can be done with just one dream.

For the full story click here:

Disney Quote Weekends

"I grew up with DISNEYLAND. I can't imagine my world without it. Walt put it best when he said 'DISNEYLAND is a work of love'. And like all happy endings, it will be ours to treasure forever more."

-Neil Patrick Harris

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Disney Quote Weekends

"I took out my suitcase and packed up my dreams and now it's time to follow through!"

-Mickey Mouse

60 Days of DISNEYLAND #60: Birthplace of Doritos

Welcome to 60 Days of DISNEYLAND! A celebration of 60 Years of Magic with 60 interesting facts!

Today's Fact: DISNEYLAND was the birthplace of Doritos! A tortilla salesman convinced the staff at Casa de Fritos in DISNEYLAND to stop throwing away broken tortillas and cut them up into chips that could be fried and seasoned. They were a hit with guests and eventually Frito Lay introduced them as "Doritos".

For the full story click here:

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Story of DISNEYLAND: A Home Away From Home

With DISNEYLAND's construction humming along, Walt Disney began dealing with some pressing problems that needed resolution. The biggest problem was dealing with the millions of tourists who Walt knew would find their way to his Magic Kingdom.

Walt had already carved out a spot for a hotel; it would be located across what was then called West Street, strategically placed by DISNEYLAND's parking lot exit. Weary guests leaving after a day of fun would have no choice but to see it. Unfortunately, every nickel Walt could scrape up was going into DISNEYLAND the park leaving little left for DISNEYLAND the hotel. As a small town of 2000 citizens, Anaheim had no facilities to deal with an onslaught of millions of guests. Where would these people stay?

Mr. Disney knew that he would have to get someone else to finance a hotel and he was willing to offer both a prime location and the DISNEYLAND name to the lucky investor. The trouble was, nobody outside of Walt Disney Productions really believed in DISNEYLAND at the time. All of the big names in hotels- Hilton, Hyatt, etc. and all of the wealthy celebrities Walt knew- Bob Hope, Art Linkletter, etc. turned him down flat. Anaheim was not on any tourist's list at the time- it was too far from the beach and not close to downtown Los Angeles or Hollywood. If DISNEYAND failed, so would any associated hotel. Walt was rejected at every turn, a situation that everyone would eventually regret. (Bob Hope would tell jokes about how stupid he was for not taking Walt's advice and buying land in Anaheim.)

Enter Jack Wrather. Mr. Wrather was a television producer who fancied himself a savvy businessman. He invested in toy companies, radio stations and anything else that caught his eye. When Walt came calling, he was very interested in helping out. Armed with a 99 year lease and a contract for exclusive use of the Disney name on hotels throughout Southern California, Jack Wrather would ensure that at least one hotel would be open near DISNEYLAND.

Unfortunately, the agreement came too late for construction to begin in time for the hotel to be open by the park's grand opening. However, both Jack and his wife Bonita were optimistic about the prospects of their new hotel being built next door to their friend's Magic Kingdom.

The hotel missed DISNEYLAND's colossal first summer, but both Jack and Bonita were allowed to mention their hotel on the DISNEYLAND Grand Opening Television special seen by most everyone in the United States who had a television at the time- an amazing opportunity.

The hotel finally hosted its first guests on October 5, 1955. The hotel became just as successful as the magical park across the street and quickly grew into an attraction of its own. The spectacular "happiest hotel on earth" has been joined by two other Disney properties in Anaheim, but it still retains its 1950's style charm, still hosting thousands of guests every year.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Recycled World of Disney

In 1988, NBC decided to lure The Disney Sunday Movie away from ABC. The new iteration of Disney's storied anthology series would be called The Magical World of Disney and bring the show back to its first color home. It would be a perfect homecoming at a time when The Walt Disney Company was about to experience a true renaissance.

Except- 1988 would prove to be a bad year for television. A writer's strike meant that production of new television shows would cease until a new agreement was signed. Disney had a plan to get its centerpiece show back on the air without writers. How could it do so? By recycling old scripts!

Disney quickly put remakes into production- like The Absent Minded Professor with Harry Anderson:

And a nod to the original Disneyland TV show- Davy Crockett:

When the strike ended, the show quickly returned to producing new programming.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Disney Legend #23: Mary Blair

The twenty third recipient of a Disney Legend award was the incomparable Mary Blair.

Ms. Blair was born Mary Robinson in McAlester, Oklahoma. She soon found her way west to California, where she took art classes and met her husband. She found work first at MGM. Her eye for color and artistic talents made her an excellent animator. She eventually ended up at The Walt Disney Studios where most talented artists of the time dreamed of working. Mr. Disney was a huge fan of her art and she was put to work painting backgrounds and designing color palettes and the overall look of many classic Disney films.

Her first big project was Saludos Amigos. She actually appears in the film; she was one of the artists who accompanied Walt on his goodwill tour of South America. Her work greatly contributed to the film. 

She also did most of the preliminary work on Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan.  

Ms. Blair decided upon an early retirement, choosing to do freelance work and book illustrations. In 1963, however, she was lured out of retirement by Walt Disney with the project she is best known for- "it's a small world".

With its vibrant colors and optimistic view of the world, it was a project tailor made for Ms. Blair's talents. In addition to overseeing the bright colors, adorable animatronics and overall art direction of this classic ride, she was also responsible for the eye catching facade at DISNEYLAND Park.

The ride was an instant classic, beloved by people of all ages from around the world. Ms. Blair's artistry and hard work is evident in the happiest cruise that ever sailed.

Most DISNEYLAND guests have probably never heard of Mary Blair, but her work lives on, putting smiles on the faces of millions. Ms. Blair passed away in 1978, fully aware of the positive influence her work continues to have on the world.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Rejected Names for Snow White's Seven Dwarfs

When Walt Disney decided to make a film based on the fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, he knew he wanted to name the dwarfs. (They were nameless in the original story.) The animators went through a huge list of names, one of which was actually "Snoopy". Keep in mind, this was twenty years before the Peanuts comic strip was created, so if Disney had used the name, chances are Charlie Brown's dog would have been given a different name. Other names considered and rejected:


Monday, May 18, 2015

Webbigail Vanderquack

One of the cutest Disney characters ever is little Webbigail Vanderquack. Honorary niece of Uncle Scrooge and granddaughter of Miss Beakley, little Webbi was often underestimated by Uncle Scrooge's nephews who didn't see how brave or smart she could be.

Always accompanied by her Quacky Patch Doll who was dressed just like her, Webbigail often helped the team get out of whatever jam they were in.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Story of DISNEYLAND: Mr. Disney's Wild Ride

The construction of DISNEYLAND was a frantic affair. The park started construction on July 16, 1954 and it had to be open by the summer of 1955. Walt Disney and DISNEYLAND, Inc had taken out huge loans that had to be paid back quickly. Mr. Disney needed someone who could push the project forward- someone who could turn 160 acres of orange groves into a Magic Kingdom.

Mr. Disney found that person building subdivisions in Northern California- Admiral Joe Fowler. Admiral Fowler was a veteran of both World War I and World War II. He was originally hired to supervise construction of the Mark Twain riverboat because of his experience in ship building. Walt quickly decided that he needed Fowler's skills to manage the entire project so he hired him as construction manager of DISNEYLAND.

Numerous problems sprang up almost immediately. For example, trees were marked with different colored ribbons to designate whether the tree should stay, whether it should go or whether it should be moved. As luck would have it, the bulldozer operator was color blind.

Another problem presented itself after the Rivers of America had been carved out. The construction crew cheered as they began filling it with water, only to look on in shock as the water was quickly absorbed by the sandy soil. Eventually clay was used to prevent the water from seeping into the dirt.

Another problem occurred due to a disagreement between Walt and Admiral Fowler. Fowler insisted that Frontierland needed a dry dock to facilitate the refurbishment of the Mark Twain. Walt resisted it, but eventually gave in. The dry dock still exists right across from the Haunted Mansion, still carrying the name Walt gave it- Fowler's Harbor.

Another problem that appeared out of nowhere was "Holiday Hill". Walt had asked the construction crews to not put the dirt being moved around the site in the same place. Of course, they did exactly that, angering Walt Disney in the process. The staff started calling it "Holiday Hill" and landscaped it.

Walt eventually learned to appreciate this errant hill. In fact, he built the Matterhorn right on top of it.

As opening day moved closer, DISNEYLAND was attracting a lot of attention. DISNEYLAND Press Relations was fielding hundreds of calls from the media and decided to  take advantage of the interest by drafting the biggest star at Walt Disney Productions to give a tour of the construction. Davy Crockett himself gave tours to interested members of the media to show off this future Magic Kingdom. They saw that this was no carnival; no kiddyland. DISNEYLAND was like nothing else in the world.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Sticky Fingers in Fantasyland

One of the most popular drink stands in the Magic Kingdom was Welch's Juice Bar. Few pictures of it exist because who would take pictures of a juice bar when there are so many other wonderful things to take a picture of?

The theme of the juice bar was Fantasia and the popular location served up delicious, cold drinks. Kids loved it, but it quickly became a location hated by the cast members who worked at the neighboring Mickey Mouse Theater. The theater's clientele were often excitable kids with sticky hands, hopped up on sugary grape juice procured from the juice bar.

The location eventually made way for Geppetto's Toy Shop, a location that is now used for character meet and greets.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Special Gift

The scene in Lady and the Tramp where Jim Dear gives his wife a special Christmas gift presented in a hat box is a treasured Hollywood moment that still enchants audiences to this day.

Most people don't know that this scene was inspired by a real life Christmas gift that Walt Disney made to his wife Lillian. His long nights at the studio meant that Mrs. Disney had to spend many hours alone. Eager to give her a "friend" to keep her company, he presented her with a "Lady" of her very own- in a hat box just like in the film. It was a romantic gesture that has inspired many a gift giver to this day.