Featured Attractions

Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Day! Disney's 29th Animated Film

The 29th feature length animated film released by Disney was unusual in more ways than one. The most unusual thing about it was that it was a sequel to another animated film, something that Disney had never done before. Rescuers Down Under was a follow-up to the modestly successful The Rescuers.

The film also shared the bill with a Mickey Mouse featurette, The Prince and the Pauper.

Coming just one year after Disney rejuvenated its feature animated film division with The Little Mermaid, this outing, which featured no music or songs, was just a straight up adventure. While modestly successful, its release came a little too late to make an impression on the studio heads at Disney. With its hit soundtrack, huge merchandise sales and positive reception, The Little Mermaid had laid out where Disney felt its theatrical future should be. The Rescuers Down Under would get little fanfare or interest from the company. Beauty and the Beast would get the company's full resources the next year.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Rest in Peace, Jack Lindquist

Jack Lindquist, whose long career at The Walt Disney Company began in 1955, has passed away at age 91.

Mr. Lindquist had been an advertising manager for Kelvinator, which made refrigerators. As an early sponsor of DISNEYLAND, they had provided employees with tours of the construction site and tickets to opening day, events that had been attended by Mr. Lindquist. Two months after the opening of the park, Mr. Lindquist received a call from DISNEYLAND asking for recommendations for possible advertising managers. Seizing the moment, Jack recommended himself and soon found himself working at the Magic Kingdom.

Jack's first priority was to come up with ways to get guests into the park. Walt Disney sought to spend most of his operating budget on in-park upgrades and attractions, which left the advertising department with very little money. Mr. Lindquist and his team had to be extremely creative to get attention. One way they did this was to piggyback onto sponsor advertising. The sponsors paid for the ads, took advantage of their sponsorship deal with the park and the park got what were essentially free advertisements.

Mr. Lindquist also created special events that became legendary, such as Grad Nite, Dixieland at Disneyland and the separately ticketed New Years Eve party. He revolutionized theme park promotions with the Disneyland Tencennial celebration- the very first time that DISNEYLAND or anyone would celebrate an anniversary year in such a way. The success of this promotion led to the tradition of celebrating park anniversaries that continues to this day.

Among Mr. Lindquist's other successful promotions were Disney Dollars and bringing in water from around the world to pour into the flume of it's a small world at its opening ceremonies. His contributions to Disney Theme Parks and other amusement businesses are undeniable and continue to be enjoyed by millions of people every year. There are currently two tributes to him in DISNEYLAND. In Mickey's Toontown, whose construction and operation he oversaw, is a funny looking pumpkin by Goofy's House that resembles him:

There is also a more formal tribute above the Candy Palace- a window on Main Street:

Disney Quote Weekends

Friday, February 26, 2016

Freaky Fridays: Museum of the Weird

DISNEYLAND's Haunted Mansion sat empty for several years while Walt Disney pondered what would go inside it.

One of the first concepts was a walk-through attraction designed by Imagineer Rolly Crump called "Museum of the Weird".

Guests would walk through the attraction and encounter strange "antiques" and other oddities that defied imagination.

It never quite worked out, however. Park operations felt that a walk through attraction wouldn't be practical in a busy theme park like DISNEYLAND. Many of the ideas eventually became part of the Haunted Mansion, though guests would experience the attraction in a ride instead of on foot.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Theme Park Thursdays: The King of DISNEYLAND

DISNEYLAND was truly Walt Disney's toy. Many people theorized that it was like an elaborate model train set. There are the elaborate buildings, scaled mountains, magical castle, all surrounded by a train. 

DISNEYLAND was Walt Disney's living toy. He often played with his toy, running the trains unbeknownst to his guests.

Whenever Mr. Disney wanted to relax from the stress of running his empire, he'd run the trains, always incognito. His guests would never know that they had gotten a ride from the big cheese himself; the man who had willed the wondrous kingdom into existence.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Walt Wednesdays: A Special Gift

Walt Disney won many Oscars- 22 to be exact. His wife, however, wasn't big on going to the ceremonies. She didn't like the Hollywood scene, the red carpet or the paparazzi. Walt spared her the spectacle and didn't guilt her into attending. He did, however, give her a special bracelet commissioned solely for her.

The bracelet featured mini Oscar statuettes, one for each Oscar he had won. Too big to be worn, Mrs. Disney treasured it nonetheless.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Toontown Tuesdays: The Orange Bird

When Disney opened up its Magic Kingdom theme park in Florida, it wanted to put some roots down in Florida. As a result, it decided to embrace the state's famed citrus industry. While California's oranges are often eaten as fruit, Florida's oranges typically become juice, therefore Disney created The Citrus Bird.

The Citrus Bird became the subject of a song and was even represented in the Florida parks with a walk around character.

Eventually the Florida Citrus growers ended its promotion with Disney. The Orange Bird and his delicious magical Citrus Swirl became a thing of the past. But you can't keep a good character down!

In 2012, Disney brought back both the Orange Bird and his delicious Citrus Swirl dessert. Served alongside the famed Dole Whip, the Orange Swirl is a delightful treat when spending a day in the muggy Florida heat.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Music Mondays: Firehouse Five Plus Two

The Walt Disney Studio was often a busy, stressful place. When deadlines approached, the animators could often find themselves with crushing work loads. How could they blow off some steam? By forming a Dixieland Band!

Firehouse Five Plus Two featured such Disney Legends as Ward Kimball, Frank Thomas and Harper Goff. While Ward and Frank were animators, Harper Goff was an imagineer who designed many of Main Street's interiors.

The band was at the opening of DISNEYLAND, as shown in this rare photo:

The band would often make the trek down to Anaheim to perform before park guests. DISNEYLAND guests never realized they were watching performers who had created some of the biggest animated classics.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Freaky Fridays: The Tam O'Shanter

It looks like it belongs in a Disney Theme Park, so you might be excused for thinking that you've somehow wandered into DISNEYLAND.

The Tam O' Shanter, however, opened 30 years before DISNEYLAND and is thirty five miles north. It does play a part in the park's history, however. It was Walt Disney's favorite restaurant and a favored haunt of Disney animators back when the Hyperion Studio was nearby. It remained a favored lunch location when the studio moved to Burbank but really became a Disney hangout when Walt Disney located Imagineering nearby.

Over lunches of prime rib and generously carved sandwiches served by costumed waiters and waitresses, Walt and the Imagineers planned out his Magic Kingdom. Doubtless the elaborately themed dining rooms rubbed off on Mr. Disney and his team as they designed DISNEYLAND.

You can still enjoy the same hearty meals in the same location on Los Feliz Boulevard. If the walls of this establishment could talk, they'd probably have quite a lot of interesting things to say.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Theme Park Thursdays: Shanghai Disneyland

Shanghai Disneyland will seem familiar to anyone who has been to a Disney Theme Park, but there will be some big differences. The first being the official drink. While the other parks serve Coca-Cola, Pepsi will be available in Shanghai.

Another change will be the park's entrance. Instead of Main Street, guests will enter through Mickey Avenue, a toony version of both Main and Buena Vista Streets.

The park is scheduled to open in Summer of 2016.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Walt Wednesdays: Strolling Through DISNEYLAND

DISNEYLAND is the only theme park that was fully designed and enjoyed by Walt Disney. He absolutely loved the place, often spending the night in his private apartment over the Main Street fire station. Cast members soon learned his habits. For example, if he was dressed up in a professional suit, he was most likely in the park on business. Perhaps he was hosting a potential sponsor or was planning out future attractions.

When he was "dressed down", however, he was most likely there for pleasure or perhaps just to dream. Much of the time he got great joy in watching the guests enjoy his Magic Kingdom.

No matter what he was doing in the park, however, he always found time to greet his beloved guests.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Toontown Tuesdays: Mickey's Toontown

There are two Mickey's Toontowns in the world- the original is located in DISNEYLAND and an exact copy was opened in Tokyo Disneyland. A third themed area called Mickey's Toontown Fair was operating in Florida's Magic Kingdom park, but the land was actually just a re-themed part of Fantasyland that was turned into a less immersive area of the park. The Toontowns in California and Tokyo are fully realized environments built to appear like cartoon worlds of their own.

The idea behind Mickey's Toontown was to answer a longstanding complaint of guests; that they had been inside DISNEYLAND all day without a chance to see Mickey Mouse. After the successful film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, DISNEYLAND decided to bring the fanciful Toontown to life.

The legend behind the land is that it was established as a way for animated toons to leave the hustle and bustle of Hollywood behind in order to relax in a spacious area away from the studios. Mickey and friends settled on some land in Anaheim, California that would give them a break from the rat race. In 1953, Walt Disney was looking for somewhere to build his Magic Kingdom and Mickey Mouse told him about a parcel of land south of Toontown that he might be interested in buying. After Mr. Disney built his theme park, he made sure that the denizens of Toontown would be hidden from guest view so that they could appear in DISNEYLAND only if they so wished. In 1992, Mickey and friends decided that it was time to let the world in on their secret city, so Mickey's Toontown threw open the gates to let the non-Toon world inside.

The land features Downtown Toontown with Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin and fanciful play areas for kids, while Mickey's neighborhood features Mickey and Minnie's houses.

Mickey can always be found inside his movie barn, where lucky guests can pose for a picture with the world famous mouse. Just go through Mickey's house to find him!

Mickey's Toontown has been a huge success ever since it opened over twenty years ago. Located behind it's a small world, the area can sometimes get overlooked by park guests, but it is always worth a trip to see how the Toon half lives.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Music Mondays: "Just Like We Dreamed It"

Originally performed multiple times daily during Disneyland Paris' 15th Anniversary, the Once Upon a Dream parade featured lively music and fun Disney characters.

The inspirational theme song featured during the parade was Just Like We Dreamed It. In an interesting twist, one of the singers who recorded the theme was Renee Sands, who starred on one of Disney Channel's earliest tween programs- Kids Incorporated. 

Just Like We Dreamed It

Come a little closer

Turn another page in the story of what's waiting for you

Step into the wonder of everything you've pictured 

As it comes into view

Once upon a time used to be long, long ago...
used to be far, far away

But look how far we've come today

Once upon a time is suddenly right here and now...

Right before our eyes

this happy ending's just beginning and much to my surprise

It's just like we dreamed it

As far as i can see

It's just like we dreamed it 

As good as good can be 

And i know it's so much better

'cause we dreamed it up together

Just like we dreamed it to life...magically...

Happily ever after now, i'll know how far dreams can go

Nothin's too far,far away

'cause we've got faith that makes our day

In my heart, I know...anything's possible here...anything at all

Whatever we believe in happens,no matter big or small...

I've imagined being here like this so many times before

Reaching out to take your hand as the butterflies in me soar

Dancing with you under the sun and underneath every star

We made a wish and believed and believed and voilà! Here we are!

It's just like we dreamed it 

As far as i can see

It's just like we dreamed it

As good as good can be

And i know it's so much better

'cause we dreamed it up together

Just like we dreamed it to life...

Just like we dreamed it to life... magically

Friday, February 12, 2016

Freaky Fridays: Disney's Confusion Kingdom

In 1955, Walt Disney introduced his concept of a "theme park", a place that would be like none other. DISNEYLAND was a bit overwhelming for guests who were not used to the concept, so Walt Disney carefully planned out its entrance.

Main Street at DISNEYLAND was designed to be a welcoming, familiar place. First time guests would instantly feel at home in this Magic Kingdom, enchanted by the beautiful castle that would attract them down the street.

Main Street would put guests at ease, make them feel comfortable and excited to be in DISNEYLAND. This grand entrance did everything it was designed to do perfectly. Who would mess with perfection? The Walt Disney Company, apparently.

Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida scrapped Walt Disney's tried and true design. Instead of making people feel comfortable, the park presents guests with the baffling Oasis, in which they are made to feel as though they've been dropped in the middle of nowhere and left to their own devices.

There are no attractions or anything of interest to see here in the Oasis; guests have to stumble forward, uncertain of where the actual theme park begins.

The dense foliage and manmade rock work are beautiful, though one can literally wander through this area for quite some time before encountering something of interest to see. Stumbling through the Oasis, one eventually reaches the more traditional area of the park where the attractions, restaurants and shops exist. By this time, guests are so disoriented they may be tempted to turn around and walk back out. The imagineers probably had the best of intentions in designing what they thought was an intriguing entrance, but the result is confusing and off putting. The rest of the park can be just as confusing to navigate, requiring that exit signs be placed so that guests can find their way out.

The park is currently going through a major expansion project, though these shortcomings won't be rectified.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Theme Park Thursdays: The Voice of DISNEYLAND

The voice of DISNEYLAND for many years was Jack Wagner. Mr. Wagner announced parade times, inclement weather and reminded guests riding the Matterhorn to "Remain Seated Please - Permanencer Sentados Por Favor." 

At his peak, Mr. Wagner could be heard at both DISNEYLAND and Walt Disney World. He setup a satellite studio in his house with a linkup to both parks. Hurricane warning in Florida? No problem! Mr. Wagner would make the announcement from California, via satellite. The guests in Florida were none the wiser.

Mr. Wagner can still be heard at DISNEYLAND's Matterhorn and announcing the start of the Main Street Electrical Parade at Florida's Magic Kingdom theme park. He passed away in 1995, but his memory (and voice) live on.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Walt Wednesdays: Dining in DISNEYLAND

Nothing inside DISNEYLAND is ever built without any thought put into it. Everything is designed with the guests in mind, including the restaurants. Walt Disney made sure to supervise even the smallest detail in anything he planned for his park. 

While Walt's wondrous buildings and amazing experiences surround you everywhere you look in DISNEYLAND, there are also more personal ways to experience Walt's DISNEYLAND. Carnation Cafe on Main Street is one of the  original restaurants in the park.

Guests can not only enjoy a traditional meal in the park, they can also try some of Walt's favorite foods.

Guests looking for a cheaper way to enjoy Mr. Disney's favorites can head to any popcorn cart. He loved popcorn and would insist on buying some for his personal guests every time he hosted them in DISNEYLAND.