Featured Attractions

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Theme Park Thursdays: Disney Monorails

When Walt Disney built his first monorail at DISNEYLAND in 1959 it was the first daily operating monorail in the Western Hemisphere. At first, the monorail merely traveled through Tomorrowland, offering scenic views of the Magic Kingdom.

Just two years later, the monorail was expanded to the DISNEYLAND Hotel and back, running alongside Harbor Boulevard and across West Street, the first attraction to take guests outside the parks and across a public street.

Today, featuring the newest fleet of monorails in the Disney empire, the monorail transports guests through Disney California Adventure, stopping at Downtown Disney and back to Tomorrowland.

Unlike DISNEYLAND, the monorail system at Walt Disney World makes no stops inside any of the theme parks. One loop takes guests from just outside Florida's Magic Kingdom around the Seven Seas Lagoon, stopping at and running through the various hotels.

A different loop runs from the Magic Kingdom's Transportation center, through Future World at EPCOT Center and stopping outside the theme park gates.

The original transportation plan for the Florida resort was to have the monorails link up most, if not all, of the theme parks, hotels and attractions. That plan fell by the wayside in 1988 with construction of the Disney-MGM Studios, which was never linked up with the monorail system. Subsequent resort expansion was not linked up either, with the resort currently relying on a fleet of diesel powered buses in conjunction with the existing monorails.

Tokyo Disneyland features a more whimsical design than its American cousins. The system loop provides access to both Tokyo theme parks, all resort hotels and Disney's Ikspiari Shopping Center.

Due to Japan's bizarre transportation laws, the Tokyo Disneyland monorail is considered public transportation and regulated by the government. Unlike its American counterparts, it must keep a regular schedule.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Walt Wednesdays: Grandpa Walt

To the world, he was an amazing man who always turned his dreams into reality. To his grandchildren he was "grandpa".

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Toontown Tuesdays: Disney Overseas

When many people think about Disney Theme Parks, they often think of DISNEYLAND in Anaheim and Walt Disney World in Florida. There is a world of Disney outside the borders of the United States, however, and those parks have the same general feel of Florida's Magic Kingdom (DISNEYLAND in Anaheim is Walt's never to be replicated masterpiece after all) but foreign audiences have their own favorite characters.

Marie from The Aristocats is somewhat popular in the United States, though she is often overlooked. She's a major draw in both Tokyo and Paris, however, and she is regularly seen out and about in the parks.

Walt Disney's original character was Oswald, who was stolen by Universal Pictures back in 1927. In the United States, Oswald was mostly forgotten; seen as a footnote in animation history. In fact, the head of NBC/Universal had never heard of him at all. That's why when Disney CEO Bob Iger proposed a deal to get Oswald back at Disney, NBC/Universal didn't think twice about making a deal. Luckily they didn't consult with Universal Studios Japan. Oswald is huge in Japan and their biggest selling character marched right out of the gates and over to Tokyo Disney.

Oswald continued to be a huge draw after he made his Tokyo debut. Unlike Marie, however, he has made it to the United States, hanging out in front of his gas station at Disney California Adventure.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Music Mondays: Fortuosity

The Disney song Fortuosity was featured in the last movie supervised by Walt Disney- The Happiest Millionaire and was written by the Sherman Brothers.

In the film, the song is sung by Tommy Steele whose character has just arrived in Boston from Ireland. He quickly gets work as a butler working for the wealthy yet eccentric Biddle family. The song expresses his belief in "lucky chances" since he has found work so quickly.

Well now, ain't this an elegant neighborhood
All the residents dressed so fine
One day off the boat am I
With a job that's nearly mine
'Tis a job with an elegant millionaire
And his elegant family
Today I move from immigrant to high society
Now you may call that luck
And you may call it fortune,
But me, meself, I call it.....

Fortuosity, that's me byword
Fortuosity, me twinkle in the eye word
Sometimes castles fall to the ground
But that's where four leaf clovers are found

Fortuosity, lucky chances
Fortuitious little happy happen-stances
I don't worry 'cause everywhere I see
That every bit of life is lit by Fortuosity

Fortuosity, that's me own word
Fortuosity, me never feel alone word
`Round the corner, under a tree
Good fortune's waitin', just wait and see

Fortuosity, lucky chances
Fortuitious little happy happen-stances
I keep smilin', 'cause my philosophy
Is do your best and leave the rest to Fortuosity

I keep smilin', 'cause my philosophy
Is do your best and leave the rest to Fortuosity!

The film was completed after Walt Disney's death and it barely broke even at the box office. The film was rarely screened until 1984 when it aired on The Disney Channel. Its influence, however, continues and its elegant style was the inspiration for the Fortuosity Shop in DISNEYLAND.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Freaky Fridays: Sex Ed in EPCOT?!?

A theme park attraction with a content warning? It existed at EPCOT Center!

The Making of Me ran at EPCOT Center from 1989 until 2007. The attraction, which was located in EPCOT's Wonders of Life Pavilion, featured footage of the birth process. Awkward viewing for the family, huh? 

The attraction didn't receive too many complaints, but it was retired along with the rest of the attractions in the pavilion in 2007. The final straw for this attraction was the departure of its sponsor, Met Life. The pavilion currently stands unused except for the occasional special event.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Theme Park Thursdays: Marvel in the Parks

Before it was bought by The Walt Disney Company, Marvel Studios had signed a deal with Universal Studios Orlando to put its characters into Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park.

With Disney owning theme parks just down the road, many people wondered if the characters would end up there after its blockbuster purchase of Marvel. Despite owning the rights to Harry Potter, Universal Studios has not been eager to sell, nor has Disney been eager to buy. This has resulted in some creative workarounds at Walt Disney World- for example the company can promote Marvel at Disney Springs or outside the parks, but not inside them. So whenever they wrap a monorail with a Marvel theme, monorail operators have to make sure the Marvel train never enters the Epcot loop.

Of course, such restrictions do not apply to DISNEYLAND, where Tony Stark and Spider-Man have made themselves at home in Tomorrowland.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Walt Wednesdays: "Don't Worry Everything OK"

When Walt Disney found out that he was losing the rights to Oswald, he could have panicked or gotten angry. Instead, before he boarded the train back to California, he sent the following telegram back to his brother:

It was unusually calm, all things considered. Why did Walt think everything would be okay? What were the details he planned to give to his brother upon his arrival? As it turned out, Mr. Disney had already come up with a replacement for Oswald. His new character would originally be called Mortimer, but Mrs. Disney would convince him to use a different name- Mickey Mouse. Perhaps you've heard of him?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Toontown Tuesdays: Toony Trash

Everything in DISNEYLAND is themed, including the trash cans! The trash cans in Mickey's Toontown have their own theming, pulled from Disney's past.

The familiar fellow on the trash can is one of the brooms from Disney's Fantasia. Of course, it only makes sense that Toontown's trash mascot would be a toon known for being useful at cleaning messes up.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Music Mondays: The Sherman Brothers & Walt

When Pepsi enlisted the services of Walt Disney to produce its attraction for the 1964 New York World's Fair, UNICEF, which was to be the beneficiary of Pepsi's proceeds from the attraction had one request. It wanted the attraction's theme song to be in the public domain so that all the children of the world could enjoy it. The Sherman Brothers and Walt Disney agreed. So, while the audio version of the song played in the attraction is fully copyrighted, the lyrics and music are not. It's a Small World truly belongs to the children of the world.


Walt Disney's favorite song was Feed the Birds from the film Mary Poppins. He often asked the Sherman Brothers to play it for him at the end of a stressful week. On what would have been Mr. Disney's 100th birthday on December 5, 2001, Richard Sherman decided to play the song for Mr. Disney in his very own Magic Kingdom. As Mr. Sherman performed, a lone bird swooped down onto his piano and seemed to listen to his performance. At the conclusion of the song, the crowd gasped as the bird dramatically flew away. While Mr. Sherman was unaware of the bird at the time, he now believes it was Mr. Disney's spirit itself, taking a break from his heavenly rest to enjoy his favorite song.


While Mr. Disney's favorite song may have been Feed the Birds, the Sherman Brothers considered his unofficial theme song to be There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow. Mr. Disney always believed that scientific progress and discovery could fix any problem that might arise and that the future held great promise and opportunity. The positivity found in the upbeat song and at DISNEYLAND were all due to Walt's amazing trust in the future. He truly believed in every word of the song.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Theme Park Thursdays: Carthay Circles

The Fox Carthay Circle Theatre was a glamorous place to watch movies during Hollywood's golden age. Its proximity to Hollywood made it a sought after theater for movie premieres, rivaling even Grauman's Chinese Theater.

The main auditorium was unique because it formed a perfect circle; in fact, the official theater name was "Circle Theatre." The neighborhood it was located in was named "Carthay", therefore it was the Circle Theatre in Carthay, owned by Fox- the Fox Carthay Circle Theater. The misconception arose among the public that the area around the theater was named "Carthay Circle". The importance of the theater to Disney centers around its hosting of the world premiere of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. While the real life theater was demolished in 1969, a victim of multiplexes and short-sighted business executives, its spirit lives on at Disney Theme Parks around the world.

The first replica opened at Disney's Hollywood Studios in the early '90s. This version was relatively small and hosts a gift shop.

A larger, more faithful replica opened just down the freeway from the original one at Disney California Adventure. This more lavish version is the park's icon and hosts a table service restaurant that honors the premiere of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The story is that you are Walt Disney's guests at the fancy dinner after Snow White's premiere.

The latest version of the Carthay Circle Theater will open on the other side of the world- at Shanghai Disneyland. Part of Mickey Avenue, it will be on that park's version of Main Street, USA.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Walt Wednesdays: DISNEYLAND's First Wish

DISNEYLAND has granted thousands of wishes to children with life threatening illnesses over the years. The first ever wish was granted before the park opened in 1955 by Mr. Disney himself.

While DISNEYLAND was still under construction, Walt Disney received a letter from a young boy who was dying of cancer. Doctors held out little hope for the boy who they estimated would pass away before DISNEYLAND opened. His dying wish was to ride in Walt Disney's train. Despite the cash flow issues involved, Walt rushed the construction of the train tracks in a race against time. He would see to it that this boy's wish would come true.

The Imagineers rushed to finish the track and get one of the trains operational. They succeeded and the day arrived when the train would be hoisted onto the track to take around its first passenger. Walt Disney proudly ran the train himself, taking the young boy around the park several times, sharing his plans for DISNEYLAND. He told the boy what was being built around them, what would be built in the future and how everything would look. 

At the end of this amazing tour of DISNEYLAND with the greatest tour guide imaginable, the boy was presented with special souvenirs and gifts. Walt declined his publicity department's request to invite the press along for the tour. This would be Walt's special gift to the boy and he didn't want to sully it with any publicity. The story remained under wraps until after Walt Disney passed away. It would be the first of millions of dreams come true at the happiest place on earth.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Toontown Tuesdays: Candy With Character

There are many ways for fans of various Disney characters to express their fandom. They can buy T-Shirts, toys and books. But what about if they have a sweet tooth? DISNEYLAND has that covered with a delicious range of handmade candies.

Have you ever had a Tigger Tail?

What about marshmallow treats themed to a particularly curious cat?

Or a treat that's truly sweeter than Pooh's Hunny?

The Pixar friends also beckon from the candy counter.

This delicious treat is truly a Beauty to behold.

But no visit to Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom is complete without something representing Disney's famous mouse.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Music Mondays: Lyric Street Records

In 1997, Disney's Hollywood Records started up a new record label to take advantage of the revitalized popularity of country music. The company chose a name that had a historic tie to Walt Disney. When the Disney Brothers married their wives, they moved into neighboring houses on Lyric Street, so Disney's newest label was called Lyric Street Records.

The label had an amazing initial lineup including SheDaisy and Rascal Flats. The label's success led to the creation of a spinoff that would concentrate on more traditional country music. They used another name that would mean a lot to the world of Disney- Carolwood Records. Walt Disney's final home was located on Carolwood Drive.

Both labels were shutdown in 2010 and combined back into Hollywood Records.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Freaky Fridays: Muppets Take DISNEYLAND

In 1989, The Walt Disney Company put together its first deal to acquire the Jim Henson Company. Mr. Henson wanted to retire from the day to day operation of his company and wanted to make sure that his beloved creations would live on. The Walt Disney Company quickly started integrating the Muppets into the parks, quickly producing Muppet-Vision 3D for its Florida studio park which needed to add capacity quickly. The other divisions of the company were encouraged to follow suit and DISNEYLAND came up with an ingenious plan. Mickey and friends would take the summer off, leaving Kermit and the Muppets in charge of the Magic Kingdom.

Kermit's face would welcome DISNEYLAND guests instead of Mickey Mouse and the Muppets would evict Mr. Lincoln, taking over the Main Street Opera House.

While the Muppetization of the park would last just one summer, the Muppet-Vision 3D attraction would be permanent. Outside influences would change this plan, however. Replacing Mr. Lincoln proved to be a political hot potato. Muppet-Vision would be moved to the planned Hollywoodland area, then Mickey's Toontown. Unfortunately, the unthinkable happened.

Jim Henson passed away and his family, faced with estate taxes, wanted more money from Disney. When the company balked, Mr. Henson's family attacked the company in the press and sued to close down the Muppet-Vision attraction that had been Jim Henson's last project, declaring it to be copyright infringing. All Muppet and Disney projects were canceled and Disney worked out a deal to keep Muppet-Vision open in Florida. The West Coast wouldn't get a Muppet-Vision attraction until Disney California Adventure opened in 2001.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Theme Park Thursdays: Star Wars Simulated

Great ideas at Walt Disney Imagineering have a way of finding their way around the world. When WDI was given an opportunity to work flight simulator technology into an attraction, they came up with Star Tours, an attraction that first opened at DISNEYLAND.

A carbon copy was set to go in at Florida's Magic Kingdom, but when Disney's Studio theme park in Orlando opened with a slim lineup of attractions and huge crowds, Disney quickly shoehorned the attraction into that park to beef up its attraction count.

Tokyo Disneyland received a copy of DISNEYLAND's Star Tours in its Tomorrowland.

The same simulator technology was used across the street from Disney-MGM Studios at EPCOT Center for an attraction called Body Wars. The Body Wars attraction was eventually closed, though it remains intact. It is rumored that  it is used by WDI to test new or changed ride films.

Star Tours in Disneyland Paris was placed in its version of Tomorrowland- Discoveryland and given a more elaborate entrance. However, the ride is still (as of this date) only going to Endor. The conversion to the newer version of the attraction is scheduled for this year.

Hong Kong Disneyland opened without a Star Tours, but it will be using the technology for an Iron Man attraction, creating a first of its kind Disney Theme Park attraction based on a Marvel property.