Featured Attractions

Monday, August 31, 2015

DISNEYLAND Beginnings: Mickey Mouse Park

On August 31, 1948 Walt Disney sent out a memo describing a new project he wanted to build in Burbank called "Mickey Mouse Park":

That idea would grow and grow until it became an entire Magic Kingdom- DISNEYLAND. 

Music Monday: (Yo Ho) A Pirates Life

One of the best known songs in the world of Disney Theme Parks is (Yo Ho) A Pirates Life. With lyrics written by Xavier Atencio and music by George Bruns, the memorable ditty stays in the hearts and memories of DISNEYLAND's guests long after their voyage to see the wily pirates has ended.

George Bruns

Xavier Atencio with Walt Disney

While George Bruns was a musician and composer, Xavier Atencio was not. Mr. Atencio later noted that:

"I didn't even know I could write music, but somehow Walt did. He tapped my hidden talents."

He might not have thought he could write music, but the music he wrote continues to be enjoyed by millions of DISNEYLAND guests.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.
We pillage, we plunder, we rifle and loot.
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.
We kidnap and ravage and don't give a hoot.
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.
We extort and pilfer, we pillage and sack.
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.
Maraud and embezzle and even highjack.
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.
We kindle and char and enflame and ignite.
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.
We burn up the city, we're really a fright.
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.

We're rascals and scoundrels, we're villains and knaves.
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.
We're devils and black sheep, we're really bad eggs.
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.

Yo ho, you ho, a pirate's life for me.
We're beggars and blighters and ne'er do-well cads,
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.
Aye, but we're loved by our mommies and dads,
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Disney Quote Weekends

"Why do I have to paint? Painting is for babies and beatniks!"

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Disney Quote Weekends

"No, no, I'm not trying to be a hero. I'm just a guy that got fed up with men like you and I decided to do something about it."

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Story of DISNEYLAND: Ticket Books to Paradise

In the early days of DISNEYLAND, adult admission was $1. For that price, guests got admission to the park, entrance to all shows, entertainment and parades. The ticket did not include attractions.

Guests had to purchase separate tickets for the attractions. Each ride was given a ranking from A to E. A rides were the simplest attractions. E rides were the biggest and best attractions. Kids hoarded the E tickets like precious jewels. A tickets were typically plentiful and left over at the end of the day.

This ticketing system served the park well in its earliest days. To a financial whiz like Roy Disney, the ticket system was a great encouragement to approve new attractions and adventures since each expenditure would return tangible funds back to the company. More attractions found within the park meant more tickets sold.

At some point, Roy Disney did try to reign in his brother's spending. Regardless of the extra tickets sold, Roy thought some attractions were too expensive to build, like the Matterhorn. There was one attraction that Walt Disney had full control over- the Santa Fe and DISNEYLAND Railroad, which was personally owned and operated by him.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

40 Years of Adventures

In 1995, DISNEYLAND was celebrating 40 Years of Adventures. On July 17, 1995, it decided to get one of the biggest singers in country music to help celebrate. There he is at the top of the Matterhorn.

Who braved the mighty Matterhorn to sing Happy Birthday to DISNEYLAND? It was Randy Travis!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Playing Walt Disney

Only three people have officially portrayed Walt Disney in filmed productions. The first person to do so was Roy E. Disney, Walt's nephew. He played his uncle in an internal film used at the studio in the late 1980's.

In 1993, Walt Disney Television produced a biopic based on Annette Funicello's life. This time, Len Cariou played Walt Disney.

The most recent actor to portray Mr. Disney was Tom Hanks, who put his spin on the world famous entertainer in Saving Mr. Banks.

Two lesser known films recently portrayed Walt Disney as a young man. In As Dreamers Do, he was portrayed by Olan Rogers.

While the other film entitled Walt Before Mickey features Eddie Kaye Thomas as Walt.

Of course, nobody can quite replace the "Mousetro" himself.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Disney Legend #27: Fess Parker

The 27th inducted Disney Legend was Fess Parker. Mr. Parker was just about ready to give up his acting career when he was asked to audition for the role of a lifetime- Davy Crockett.

Walt Disney enthusiastically chose Mr. Parker for the role, which catapulted Fess to superstardom. Every young boy in the 1950's wanted to be just like Fess Parker and he decided to be a role model of the highest order. His appearances at DISNEYLAND and personal attention to his fans made him a favorite of kids everywhere.

After his Disney career ended, Fess took a similar role as Daniel Boone. When his Hollywood career began winding down, Mr. Parker began investing in real estate, buying a winery, which he ran until he passed away in 2010. He also began the development of a theme park in Santa Clara that eventually opened as Marriott's Great America in 1976.

In 2005, Fess was honored with a window in Frontierland at DISNEYLAND, a rare and exclusive honor.

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Practically Perfect Judge of Talent

In 1963, Walt Disney asked his new Mary Poppins to perform at his Magic Kingdom to both promote the park and the film. Ms. Julie Andrews was overjoyed by the opportunity and wished to perform with The Golden Horseshoe's very own Wally Boag. They sang "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" and it was a memorable moment for everyone who was lucky enough to be present.

But why would Julie choose Wally Boag to sing with? As you may remember from other articles about The Golden Horseshoe, Walt Disney didn't hire the sort of amateur singers and performers that are synonymous with theme parks these days. His original performers in DISNEYLAND were all well-known singers who had illustrious careers prior to their time at DISNEYLAND and Wally was no exception. He had performed around the world in huge stage productions on prestigious stages. One of these productions was in England's storied East End, where he performed in a variety show. One of his acts was to invite children on the stage and make amazing balloon animals while he told jokes and sang songs.

During one fateful performance, he invited a young girl onto the stage- 12 year old "Julie" who he joked around with, assuming she was a regular kid like the others who would nervously stutter their names before rushing off the stage, never to be seen or heard from again. This 12 year old girl was no regular child- it was Julie Andrews, who seemed different from the normal kids. Wally chose to have her sing along with him and she literally had the audience on their knees. They couldn't believe that this young girl could sing so beautifully. She was offered a job on the show and was charming audiences from then on.

So when her fame led her to DISNEYLAND, there was only one person she was interested in singing with- the man who gave her the chance to show off her talent and begin her amazing career.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Disney Quote Weekends

"Who wants Stan-cakes? They're like pancakes, but they've probably got some of my hair in them."

Saturday, August 22, 2015

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, August 21, 2015

The Story of DISNEYLAND: Bigger and Better

After the huge success of DISNEYLAND, Roy Disney finally felt like he could exhale. While he eventually took charge of finding cash to fund his kid brother's crazy dream, he wasn't fully onboard with the idea. Once he saw the cash rolling in, however, he became one of DISNEYLAND's biggest boosters. While he had a different philosophy than Walt's when it came to expansion, he did see the benefit in spending money to spruce up some of the park's rougher edges. And no edge was rougher than the Canal Boats of the World.

Having run out of cash, the park opened the attraction without any corresponding scenery. Guests traveled through barely landscaped berms with nothing to see. The park needed the capacity, however, so the attraction opened despite the lack of visuals. Roy quickly allocated funding to finish the boat ride as his brother originally dreamed it. The attraction closed at the end of DISNEYLAND's first summer.

Storybook Land began construction that Fall. This enchanted miniature kingdom would feature the homes of the fairy tale characters that Walt Disney Productions had brought to life over the years. Armed with a much larger budget this time, Walt lavished attention on the re-imagining of the ride, often clashing with his own staff. When he insisted that they craft real stained glass for the tiny houses, they protested. After all, who would notice the different between expensive stained glass and cheaper colored glass? Walt's response? "I'll notice."

The steady stream of cash coming into the park each day meant that Roy was willing to let his brother's free-spending slide. He wasn't ready to reign him in. Yet. In 1956, the greatly enhanced Storybook Land finally opened, delighting DISNEYLAND guests and becoming a classic attraction that still enchants children to this very day. The bigger statement to DISNEYLAND guests was that the park would always have something new for them, even though the park was still quite young.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Vacation Kingdom on West Street

Up until 1985, DISNEYLAND and the other Disney parks around the world were not open every day. During the offseason, DISNEYLAND would often close on Mondays and Tuesdays, inspiring frustration (and a rather successful movie). Maintenance crews would take advantage of these weekly windows to work on larger refurbishment projects away from the public eye. This created a problem for the park's namesake hotel which often had rooms full of guests who had nothing to do. Jack Wrather, who owned the hotel at the time decided to build up his hotel to have unique and amazing amenities that guests could spend whole days enjoying.

So he built a marina right in the middle of the hotel. Guests could use the paddle boats, explore uniquely themed shops or just enjoy the view.

The marina grew over the years and eventually included a video game room that rivaled even the one at Tomorrowland across the street- Atari's Video Adventure, which was actually built below water level for an extra amazing experience.

A precursor to today's Downtown Disney, the Disney Mall and Plaza Shops provided guests with a dazzling array of souvenirs and unique merchandise. It was always a treat to see what was new. And DISNEYLAND Hotel guests could enjoy a comfortable shopping experience even when the park was closed.

The exotic Seaports of the Pacific made guests feel like they were in uncharted lands; not standing in suburban Los Angeles. The DISNEYLAND Hotel was truly a destination in its own right.

When the park began daily, year round operations, some of the amenities were scaled back. After The Walt Disney Company purchased the property from Bonita Wrather, the goal was to sell longer stay passes, so the company closed or replaced more of the amenities. In 1999, as construction of the DISNEYLAND Resort began in earnest, most of the hotel's amenities were bulldozed to make way for Downtown Disney. While the hotel still has a ton of things to do onsite, most of the services and entertainment it used to provide has moved east to Downtown Disney.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

All About Daisy

Daisy Duck, as everyone knows, is Donald Duck's girlfriend. She was obviously an important character, so why does she get left out of group pictures?

As shown above, Daisy doesn't seem to fit into Disney's "Fab Five", but Pluto does. Why does Daisy get short shrift? Well, if one looks at the original Disney cartoons, he or she would notice that Donald Duck appeared in over 150 of them. How many was Daisy in? Just 11. 

While it seems that she must have had more appearances than that, in reality 11 is all she appeared in. While she has since had more appearances on television shows, her classic appearances were quite limited. It's a testament to her character that she made such a huge impression in so few appearances.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Dance Annette

One of DISNEYLAND Records' first big stars was Annette Funicello. In fact, future Disney Legends The Sherman Brothers were brought in originally to write songs for Annette.

Annette never thought of herself as a good singer, but Walt Disney made sure that she had the best songwriters, the best background musicians and even the best backup singers. 

In The Monkey's Uncle, Annette's backup singers were the future Beach Boys, performing before they were famous.

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Horseman Known as Zorro

After the success of Davy Crockett, the world was wondering what Walt Disney would do for an encore. ABC wanted westerns, but Mr. Disney was never someone who would just do what everyone else was doing. He would always put his spin on anything he did. So instead of doing a traditional western, he chose to make Zorro, the masked avenger who fought against the Spanish government in pre-revolution California on behalf of the Californios and the native population.

Zorro was a huge success, inspiring the traditional merchandise like books:

Lunch kits:


And costumes:

Zorro even appeared in live performances at DISNEYLAND:

And he was visited by other Disney celebrities:

Unfortunately, Zorro couldn't conquer his biggest foe- Hollywood lawyers. In the late 1950's, ABC was dragging its feet in upgrading its technology and paying Walt Disney Productions. The network was also obstructing various projects at DISNEYLAND. Roy Disney decided to buy out their shares in DISNEYLAND and Walt took his weekly show to NBC. ABC, which saw the writing on the wall, decided to claim ownership of Zorro to prevent the show from jumping ship too. Walt chose to fight back; after all, ABC was never promised a piece of Zorro and never fully paid the studio its licensing fees. Tied up in court, the show left the airwaves. By the time the case was decided in favor of Walt Disney Productions, the show had been off the air for so long, it was felt that it would no longer be viable to bring it back on NBC. Zorro had been vanquished.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Disney Quote Weekends

"You're watching the Black and White Period Piece Old Lady Boring Movie Channel."

Friday, August 14, 2015

Marvel's Daredevil- and Foggy

"I dunno, it's kinda spooky- but, if there is a stunningly beautiful woman with questionable judgment in the room, Matt Murdock is gonna find her and Foggy Nelson is gonna suffer!"

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Mickey Saves Lionel

In the depths of the depression, many American companies were on the ropes. If you cannot afford food, you probably aren't worried about buying toys or other items. You certainly wouldn't be buying toy trains. Lionel Train Company was falling victim to the financial collapse and in dire straits. Things looked very bleak.

Enter a plucky mouse named Mickey. Lionel decided to license Mickey and Minnie for a novelty handcar that ran around a circular track. The toy was a smash success, selling out nationwide. Lionel was saved.

Mint condition handcars, complete with the circular track can sell for $5000 today. Any surviving handcars can fetch at least $750 regardless of condition.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Disney Legend #26: Sterling Holloway

The 26th Disney Legend was Sterling Holloway. Mr. Holloway began his career at Disney by voicing Mr. Stork in Dumbo.

It was his unforgettable role as Winnie the Pooh that made him a legend. His gentle voice was perfect for everyone's favorite little bear. Mr. Holloway also provided voices for the Cheshire Cat, grown up Flower and Kaa. 

Sterling, who received his honor in 1991, passed away one year later. His work continues to entertain generations of children around the world.