Featured Attractions

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Story of DISNEYLAND: The Happiest Place on Earth Lives On

After Walt Disney's death, many people outside and a few people inside the company doubted that it could continue running as an active company without its King. Many theorized that Roy Disney would get caught up in the conglomeration frenzy that was running through American business at the time and would sell the company to a larger corporation. The larger corporation would theoretically act as caretakers of the famous characters and films, choosing to license existing properties instead of creating new ones. Bizarrely, General Dynamics, a defense contractor, was a rumored buyer. They were allegedly interested in the vast Florida property and the everlasting revenue flow that the Disney copyrights and trademarks would provide. As rumors swirled, there was still the business of operating the world's greatest theme park and opening arguably the greatest attraction ever built- DISNEYLAND's Pirates of the Caribbean.

The amazing attraction was believed to be Walt Disney's final gift to his beloved guests. Built on a massive scale underneath New Orleans Square, the attraction put together everything that Walt and his team had learned over a decade of running DISNEYLAND to create an attraction like none other. It was- and is- a truly amazing experience, unsurpassed even by the other attractions bearing its name worldwide. To this day, guests wishing to experience the ultimate Pirates of the Caribbean adventure must make their way to DISNEYLAND in Anaheim. None of the others quite match up in scope or grandeur.

The other side of the park was not ignored either. Walt Disney had already demolished much of the existing Tomorrowland to make way for the spectacular Tomorrowland 1967: A World on the Move. Sadly, his grand ideas for a new attraction to anchor the land- Space Mountain- was not possible using 1960's technology. Rather than present his guests with an inferior 'Matterhorn Indoors', Mr. Disney delayed construction until technology caught up with his dreams, leaving a spot vacant for this future dream. His gleaming new Tomorrowland opened in late 1967.

By this time, Roy Disney was willing to silence the rumors of the company's sale by insisting that the team his brother had built was more than capable of continuing to create new films, characters and attractions. While quietly killing the EPCOT project as envisioned by his brother, he promised to go full speed ahead on Walt Disney World, which would end up incorporating very little of his brother's plans. Construction continued at DISNEYLAND as the long awaited Haunted Mansion finally began frightening guests in 1969. It seemed that as DISNEYLAND entered its era without its guiding force that things would be okay.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Amok! Amok! Amok! An Original Cast

The role of Mary Sanderson was originally offered to Rosie O'Donnell, who rejected it because she didn't want to play a witch who frightened children.

The role, of course, went to Kathy Najimy who was excited to get alongside her idol, Bette Midler.

The role of Max Dennison was originally offered to Leonardo DiCaprio, whose agent advised him to take it. Leonardo instead turned it down to do What's Eating Gilbert Grape instead.

The role instead went to Omri Katz, who eagerly took on the role of the film's virgin.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Amok! Amok! Amok! A Role For Bette

Bette Midler has often stated that her role in Hocus Pocus was her favorite of all time. Ms. Midler had one film remaining on her Disney/Touchstone contract and it was initially supposed to be Sister Act. Ms. Midler backed out at the last minute and Whoopi Goldberg replaced her. It is quite possible that had Bette made Sister Act, she never would have appeared in Hocus Pocus. Kathy Najimy, upset that she lost the chance to work with Midler on Sister Act, was overjoyed to get a second chance.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Amok! Amok! Amok! 2 Stars For Thackery Binx

In the now classic Halloween film Hocus Pocus, the action centered around an enchanted cat named Binx who was actually a boy named Thackery Binx who had a curse placed upon him.

The role of Thackery Binx was credited to two actors because one actor played the character while another provided the voice. Sean Murray, an actor who would find fame a decade later on CBS' long running crime drama NCIS as Timothy McGee would act as Thackery Binx when he is in his human form.

Thackery's voice was provided by Jason Marsden, both in cat and human form. Jason would go on to quite a career with Disney, finding roles on Boy Meets World and becoming the voice of Goofy's son Max. He continues to have a successful career providing voices to characters on many cartoon shows.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Disney Quote Weekends

"Oh yes! Don't say anything about that dear, sweet, precious Vicky! That plus-faced child bride and her electric hips!"

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Disney Quote Weekends

"One stormy night long ago, five people stepped through the door of an elevator and into a nightmare. That door is opening once again, but this time its opening for you."

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Story of DISNEYLAND: The Magic Kingdom Loses its King

On December 15, 1966 the unthinkable happened. Walt Disney, the visionary behind the Magic Kingdom of DISNEYLAND and so many other happy creations had passed away. The world joined his friends, family and employees in mourning his loss.

Many people within the company didn't know the extent of Mr. Disney's illness at the time. He seemed in high spirits on his last visit to his beloved DISNEYLAND and posed for some publicity shots with his best friend Mickey Mouse.

He did seem more purposeful on that visit, almost as though he was afraid he was running out of time. Most of his staff members thought nothing of it, however, since Mr. Disney had always been eager to see his dreams become reality. One imagineer noted, however, that Walt's last words to him were "good bye." Mr. Disney never typically bid anyone "good bye"; he typically would say "see you later". It's as if he sensed his time was almost up.

DISNEYLAND didn't close early on December 15, 1966. Mr. Disney wouldn't have wanted that. The park didn't even announce his death until it was closing time. Guests and castmembers gathered at Town Square in shock. The man who had willed the Magic Kingdom into existence was gone, yet his spirit seemed to surround them. Mr. Disney knew that he would not always be around to guide his Magic Kingdom, but he knew that he had firmly established a vision that would see the park through the years ahead. His faith and determination had gotten DISNEYLAND off to an amazing start and his spirit would always be a part of the magic, watching over the park forevermore.

As we reach the end of DISNEYLAND's 60th year, we'll continue to tell the story of the timeless kingdom of DISNEYLAND.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Weird Wednesdays: Disney's Lament

When Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas was first greenlit, it was supposed to be released under the Walt Disney Pictures banner. The studio was in the midst of its second golden age and had begun releasing one animated film per year. With its release for 1993 delayed- The Lion King wouldn't reach theaters until the next year- Tim Burton's bizarre stop motion picture was seen as an unofficial way to fill the gap between Aladdin and The Lion King.

However, the studio got cold feet. Nightmare was seen as being too dark, too different and too scary for the Disney name. Despite using the Disney logo on the original movie trailer and on Walt Disney Home Video Coming Attractions, the name was stripped from the film, which ended up getting released under the Touchstone Pictures umbrella. This confusion may have been the reason the film underperformed at the box office and with merchandise sales.

As the years went on, however, the film was rediscovered by audiences. Merchandise that had sat in discount bins in 1993 became highly sought after. The original Sally doll was regularly fetching $800 on eBay. Disney executives finally became interested. Could this overlooked film become something more? The company tested a small line of merchandise featuring Jack. It sold out quickly. Soon hundreds of licensees were lining up to produce Nightmare merchandise. An inspired idea to temporarily turn DISNEYLAND's Haunted Mansion into the Jack Skellington themed Haunted Mansion Holiday further generated interest.

Guests accepted Jack and Sally as Disney characters. The company soon realized it had made a mistake releasing the film under the Touchstone name. The film is now marketed as pure Disney.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Toontown Tuesdays: Sally

Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas is an unusual character. Despite the fact that she is depicted as a sympathetic character, she is constantly trying to poison her creator, Doctor Finklestein.

While the doctor is a bit overbearing and demands much of Sally's time, he's not shown to be someone deserving of nightly poisonings. Yet we do feel sorry for Miss Sally, who longs to do as she pleases, which mostly revolves around walks with Jack Skellington.

Sally's voice is provided by the legendary comedienne Catherine O'Hara who both speaks and sings for Sally.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Music Mondays: What's This?

The film Nightmare Before Christmas may not have turned many heads when it premiered back in 1993, but over the years it has gained the audience that it always should have had, becoming a cult hit, then a major one after its characters first took over DISNEYLAND's Haunted Mansion back in 2001.

The biggest issue audiences seemed to have with the film is that they just didn't understand it at first. Was it a horror film? Was it a Christmas film? A Halloween movie? Once people got it, however, it became the classic it was destined to be. Who can resist the story of a wayward ghoul with a heart of gold?

Jack's first solo song is What's This? in which he describes his dream of not scaring people, but bringing them magic and happiness like Santa Claus. This begins his attempt to innocently co-opt Santa's job by delivering Halloweentown's version of Christmas.

While Chris Sarandon provided Jack's speaking voice, his singing voice came from Danny Elfman, who also wrote the movie's songs and score.


What's this? What's this?

There's color everywhere

What's this?

There's white things in the air

What's this?

I can't believe my eyes

I must be dreaming

Wake up, Jack, this isn't fair

What's this?

What's this? What's this?

There's something very wrong

What's this?

There's people singing songs

What's this?

The streets are lined with

Little creatures laughing

Everybody seems so happy

Have I possibly gone daffy?

What is this?
What's this?

There's children throwing snowballs

instead of throwing heads

They're busy building toys

And absolutely no one's dead

There's frost on every window

Oh, I can't believe my eyes

And in my bones I feel the warmth

That's coming from inside

Oh, look

What's this?

They're hanging mistletoe, they kiss

Why that looks so unique, inspired

They're gathering around to hear a story

Roasting chestnuts on a fire

What's this?
 What's this?

In here they've got a little tree, how queer

And who would ever think

And why?

They're covering it with tiny little things

They've got electric lights on strings

And there's a smile on everyone

So, now, correct me if I'm wrong

This looks like fun

This looks like fun

Oh, could it be I got my wish?

What's this?

Oh my, what now?

The children are asleep

But look, there's nothing underneath

No ghouls, no witches here to scream and scare them

Or ensnare them, only little cozy things

Secure them in their dreamland...

What's this?

The monsters are all missing

And the nightmares can't be found

And in their place there seems to be

Good feeling all around

Instead of screams, I swear

I can hear music in the air

The smell of cakes and pies

are absolutely everywhere

The sights, the sounds

They're everywhere and all around

I've never felt this good before

This empty place inside of me has been filling up

I simply cannot get enough

I want it, oh, I want it

Oh, I want it for my own

I've got to know

I've got to know

What is this place that I have found?

What is this?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Disney Quote Weekends

"Jack! But they said you were dead. You must be... DOUBLE DEAD!"

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Disney Quote Weekends

"Just because I cannot see it, doesn't mean I can't believe it!"

Friday, October 16, 2015

Happy Birthday to The Walt Disney Company!

On this day, October 16, 1923, history was made. The Disney Brothers Studio began business. It would take them a few years, but eventually the company founded by Walt and Roy would change the world, bringing happiness and laughter to kids and adults alike. There would be a few shaky years, but the company they founded would grow to become a multi-billion dollar global enterprise. And to think- it all started with Just One Dream.

The Story of DISNEYLAND: Tomorrowland 1967- A World on the Move

The last major project at DISNEYLAND that had Walt Disney's personal stamp on it was Tomorrowland 1967. Mr. Disney had seen how the every day world had caught up with his Tomorrowland, so he planned to tear it down almost completely and rebuild it from the ground up.

The new land would feature a futuristic new transportation system- the People Mover and one of the attractions that had originally premiered at the 1964 World's Fair- the Carousel of Progress. The centerpiece of this new land was originally going to be Space Mountain, but when the imagineers couldn't figure out a way to make it work the way Mr. Disney wanted, he put the project on hold. (It would finally get built the way Walt had wanted in 1977.)

When Walt Disney did a renovation, he really did a renovation. Over 90% of Tomorrowland was completely closed down in 1966 to accommodate construction. Models and signs were placed right outside the construction walls to pique the interest of guests. Despite the death of Mr. Disney in 1966, construction continued to meet the opening deadline of 1967.

As a sign to investors that the company would continue past the death of Walt Disney, the all new Tomorrowland opened as planned in 1967- a true World on the Move.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Theme Park Thursdays: The DISNEYLAND Monorail

The highway of the future- DISNEYLAND's Monorail System- has been transporting guests since 1959, providing a futuristic alternative to the DISNEYLAND Railroad. 

As the years have gone by, DISNEYLAND has upgraded its fleet to keep it looking futuristic and sleek.

The monorails were thoroughly upgraded and replaced just five years ago, ensuring that DISNEYLAND guests can still enjoy a futuristic journey to Downtown Disney and back for many years to come.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Weird Wednesdays: Disney World Breaks Up The Beatles

With The Beatles all but broken up by the early 1970's, it was really up to the lawyers to finish the process of breaking up the band.

With the paperwork finally completed and agreements made, it was up to the band members to sign the documents officially breaking up the band. As it turned out, John Lennon happened to be staying within the Walt Disney World complex when he was asked to sign the official documents.

So on December 29, 1974, the Beatles officially broke up legally- with the final paperwork signed at Florida's Polynesian Village in the Disney World complex.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Toontown Tuesdays: Sam the Eagle

Designed by Disney Legend Bob Moore, Sam the Eagle was the official mascot of the 1984 Summer Olympics held in Los Angeles, a gift from Walt Disney Productions to the Los Angeles Olympic Committee.

Aside from overseeing the most successful Olympic Games in modern history, Sam was also the most memorable mascot in recent memory.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Music Mondays: "Hello Everybody"

It was an amazing opportunity for DISNEYLAND guests- live on stage every day was the glorious Golden Horseshoe Revue, featuring world renowned stars like Wally Boag, Betty Taylor and Donald Novis. The show lasted over thirty years, entertaining millions of guests.

The cheery song that greeted guests to the show was Hello Everybody, originally sung by Betty Taylor, Donald Novis and the cast:

Hello everybody, we're mighty glad to meet you
Here at the Golden Horseshoe
Hello everybody, we're mighty glad to greet you
Here at the Golden Horseshoe
If you are a stranger, just say "Howdy Stranger"
We will soon be friends that way
The welcome mat is out today
At the Golden Horseshoe Cafe

Hello everybody from Maine to California
This is the Golden Horseshoe
The show is mighty spicy, we thought we oughta warn ya
Each chorus girl is a raving beauty
I love my wife, but oh you cutie!
If you are a stranger, just say "Howdy stranger!"
We will soon be friends that way
The welcome mat is out today
At the Golden Horseshoe Cafe

Oh the welcome mat is out today
At the Golden Horseshoe Cafe

At the Golden Horseshoe Cafe!

While the various acts during the show might change depending on the cast, the song Hello Everybody always kicked off the magical show.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Disney Quote Weekends

"Don't you see what's going on sisters? All Hallows Eve has become a night of children in costumes and running amuck!"

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Story of DISNEYLAND: A Pirate's Life for All

The greatest attraction ever built would sadly be one of the last major projects that Walt Disney would oversee. The western edge of Frontierland had always been New Orleans themed, going back to 1955, but it hadn't been fully formed. Since Mr. Disney loved the city of New Orleans, he wanted to build out that section of the park. He already had an idea for one attraction- the Haunted Mansion, but he pondered what else to include in his New Orleans. Originally, his imagineers presented him with an idea for a pirate museum featuring wax figures of famous pirates and replicas of pirate era weapons.

DISNEYLAND began construction on New Orleans Square and the Pirate Museum right before Walt became sold on a different idea. Park operations staff felt that a walk through attraction would be a nightmare to run. Couldn't this pirate attraction be a ride? Walt Disney reconsidered and came up with an amazing idea. What if guests could take a boat through the world of the Pirates? Sophisticated animatronics and special effects would re-create the rough and tumble pirates era. Changing course at this point, however, would mean that DISNEYLAND would have to tear out the existing foundations and replace them with a massive underground complex. Hundreds of thousands of dollars would be wasted, but once Walt saw how much better DISNEYLAND could be with a full fledged ride, nothing else would do. The original New Orleans Square foundations were torn out. The amazing Pirates of the Caribbean began construction.

The new Pirates of the Caribbean complex would feature its own table service restaurant, one of the first fully immersive dining experiences ever built. Walt Disney insisted on marshaling every resource the company could muster in an effort to make an experience like none other.

While the bustling New Orleans Square above was ready to open during the summer of 1966, the pirates below were still not ready for their close-up. DISNEYLAND management pleaded with Imagineering to speed things up and get the attraction ready ASAP. Walt Disney wanted the attraction to open up when it was ready and not a moment before.

The last time Mr. Disney visited his beloved DISNEYLAND, he was given a tour of the amazing new attraction. The flume hadn't been filled with water yet, so Imagineers took Walt through the ride on a dolly that approximated the speed the boats would travel through the attraction. He was asked if he thought the attraction was too noisy and "busy", but Mr. Disney loved it. He knew that filling up the ride with detailed scenes would mean that there would always be something new to discover on each visit. He further emphasized that the ride would not open until it was ready. He would never visit the park again, but a few months later his final masterpiece would be unveiled to the world. An amazing attraction that still delights millions of guests every year in DISNEYLAND.