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Monday, July 31, 2017

Music Mondays: DISNEYLAND Records Release #13- Echoes of DISNEYLAND

Echoes of DISNEYLAND was the thirteenth release from DISNEYLAND Records. It was one of the rare releases that was actually recorded inside the Magic Kingdom.

When DISNEYLAND first opened, one of the first shops guests would encounter on their visit to the park was the Wurlitzer Music Shop. Located in the spot currently filled by the Disney Showcase, the shop sold sheet music and provided information about Wurlitzer Organs. The manager of the shop was Dee Fisher, who often demonstrated the merchandise by playing Disney music on them.

Mr. Fisher's evening performances became a tradition in the park, catching the ear of Walt Disney. Walt commissioned an entire album of Dee's music, figuring it would be a highly sought after souvenir. It certainly was.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Back on Track!

Freaky Fridays: The DISNEYLAND Cats

DISNEYLAND Park was built on old farmland. As a result, it had some interesting animal friends living there, though not as interesting as the alligators out in Florida. DISNEYLAND's "native wildlife" was cats. At first, the park had a shaky relationship with its furry guests. Scared by the millions of guests who tromped through their stomping grounds, the cats retreated into the one empty building on the property- Sleeping Beauty Castle.

In 1958, Mr. Disney decided to finally put something inside his grand castle. As he inspected the insides of the castle, he saw that it was full of building materials and tarps. Walt pulled up a tarp to inspect what was underneath and was met with a swarm of fleas and feral cats. The castle eventually was cleared out and an everlasting treaty declared with the cats. An effective form of rodent control, the cats were spayed or neutered and allowed to roam the park. The pack of cats still roam the park, though they mostly stay hidden during the day. Except for Figaro; you can see him every day.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Day at DISNEYLAND - Remembering Marty Sklar

Every day spent at DISNEYLAND is always better than a day spent anywhere else. A day in Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom that stands out from the others must be pretty amazing and I was lucky to have one of those days- it was the day I had breakfast at Disneyland's private restaurant, Club 33! As if that wasn't special enough, it was also the day I met a Disney Legend- Marty Sklar.

The morning would have been special even if it had ended after the exclusive breakfast at Club 33. That day, however, we were also treated to special discussions led by three Disney Legends, one of whom was Marty Sklar, who had been at DISNEYLAND from day one and worked closely with Walt Disney. We were literally surrounded by the fruits of Marty's labor. While happy families entered the Magic Kingdom, excited about their special day, Marty regaled us with stories about the projects he had worked on and his working relationship with Walt Disney.

After our tour, we went to the Disneyana Store for a private reception. It was there that I nervously approached Mr. Sklar to tell him how much his work has meant to me over the years. (Being raised right, I called him Mr. Sklar, though he quickly asked me to call him Marty.) To cap off our discussion, he insisted that I pose for a picture with him and our brief discussion was recorded for posterity. Even if the picture hadn't been taken, I still would have remembered that moment forever.

Marty lived a life that most of us dream of; helping his boss Walt Disney make his dreams come true. Long after Mr. Disney left us, Marty made sure that the new generations of Imagineers and Disneylanders continued to keep Walt's dream alive and vibrant. That millions of people still visit Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom each year is a testament to Marty's success.

Thank you, Mr. Sklar for making a wonderful day even more magical and for the countless wonderful memories your work has created for me over the years. I'm certain that you're having a happy reunion with Walt Disney right now, filling him in on how his dream is still alive. Rest In Peace, Marty.

RetlawYensid.Com Salutes Marty Sklar

Martin "Marty" Sklar, one of the first DISNEYLAND employees who worked alongside Walt Disney during the park's first ten years has passed away at age 83.

Marty started at DISNEYLAND from the beginning, working on whatever project needed his assistance. He was there on opening day, working from an office behind City Hall. He eventually found himself at Walt Disney Imagineering, providing creative guidance and managing projects around the world. Mr. Sklar holds the unique distinction of having been in attendance at every Disney Theme Park on opening day, from DISNEYLAND to Shanghai Disney. He almost missed that last one, but he ended up keeping his streak going.

Marty's importance to DISNEYLAND and the other Disney theme parks around the world is immeasurable. Outside of Walt Disney himself, nobody has been more important to DISNEYLAND than Mr. Sklar. He was proud of his work and the smiles that it put on the faces of children who might never know his name.

"You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality."

-Walt Disney

"Do what you dream of doing and never lose sight of that."

-Marty Sklar

DISNEYLAND: Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom in Anaheim

"Until you see it, you'll never believe there exists such a wonderland of entertainment that awaits you at DISNEYLAND.”

"Just imagine- if you were standing right here over 60 years ago, you'd be standing in the middle of an orange grove. One visionary man stood right where you are now, but instead of orange trees, he envisioned a Magic Kingdom. This man's name was Walt Disney. And his dream would be called DISNEYLAND."

"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

Theme Park Thursdays: Animation Art for $1.50!

Tucked away in Tomorrowland from 1955 until 1966 was the DISNEYLAND Art Corner. Guests could meet Disney artists like Roy Williams (who was better known as the Big Meeseketeer from The Mickey Mouse Club.) and purchase original Disney animation cels for just $1.50. Original artwork such as that sold at DISNEYLAND can now command thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Walt Wednesdays: Roy Disney Productions

While many saw Roy Disney as being the money guy at the Disney Studios, he saw himself as someone who could be a little creative as well.

With the success of DISNEYLAND, there was more money around the company to work with. Roy decided to use his own share of the profits to invest in a slate of science fiction films. His brother Walt felt that the films were of dubious quality, but Roy still made the investment. The films didn't exactly fail, but they weren't successful either. Roy ended up sticking to the financial side of things.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Toontown Tuesdays: Oswald Returns

When Disney CEO Bob Iger approached NBC Universal about making a deal to trade Oswald for a sports commentator, NBC figured it was a no-brainer. They'd never even heard about Oswald's theft from Walt Disney back in 1927. Unfortunately for them, they never consulted Universal Studios Japan before deciding to make a deal. Oswald was a huge draw for them, selling millions of dollars of merchandise and entertaining thousands of guests every day. Oswald's loss was huge. Tokyo DISNEYLAND was thrilled to get back such a huge character.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Music Mondays: A Country Bear

DISNEYLAND guests fondly remember the Country Bear Playhouse, home of the Country Bear Jamboree and the Country Bear Vacation Hoedown. Both shows were "hosted" by Henry, who also sang a few songs with the other bears and kept everyone (mostly) in line.

Who provided the voice for Henry? Peter Renaday, who might not have a familiar name but might have a familiar face. He played John Jacks on General Hospital.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Departed DISNEYLAND: Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship

Guests entering Fantasyland until the 1980's would see an exciting ship in the distance- the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship.

The amazing ship was permanently docked in place, offering a fun play area to explore on top and offering tuna fish sandwiches from a restaurant located below decks.

The ship had a sad end as part of the Fantasyland renovation of the early 1980's. The park decided to remodel Fantasyland so that it reflected Walt's original vision for the area and had less traffic congestion. The original plan was to move the ship to a lagoon that would be built near it's a small world and move Dumbo in its place. 

Unfortunately, project managers made a bad assumption- that the structure was a ship that had been permanently moored to the dock. Instead, it was a building with a foundation that had been built to resemble a ship. When an attempt was made to lift the boat with a crane, it became damaged and was unusable. The decision was made to open Fantasyland on time and build a new pirate ship in the future. As anyone who has visited DISNEYLAND in the last thirty years knows, however, those plans never came to fruition.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Departed DISNEYLAND: Adventure Thru Inner Space

When Walt Disney remodeled Tomorrowland in the late 1960's, he wanted it to have more attractions than it had up to this time. For the first 10 years, Tomorrowland was mostly filled with exhibits, a few sponsored by Monsanto. In 1965, Mr. Disney convinced the company to put up more money to sponsor a major ride. Thus Adventure Thru Inner Space was born.

The story behind the attraction was that DISNEYLAND and Monsanto were running experiments and today, you can participate! (It was a simpler time when people actually trusted Monsanto to perform experiments on them.) Guests boarded omnimovers (the first use of such technology in the world) and would get shrunk down to a microscopic size so that they could view the world as a tiny microscopic cell.

An elaborate shrinking device greeted guests, making it look like they were going inside it. Tiny animatronic figures completed the effect. Inside the ride, guests viewed a single snowflake and other microscopic objects. There's even a view of a giant eye that apparently is looking at you through a microscope. Eventually guests would be returned to their normal size and disembark, hopefully having learned something about science.

Eventually, the ride would fall out of favor with both Monsanto and guests. Monsanto realized that they didn't really sell anything to the general public at the time and thus might not need to sponsor an attraction in DISNEYLAND. Monsanto's reluctance to renew its sponsorship agreement meant that the attraction didn't get the upgrades it needed to stay up to date, which soon affected ridership. The attraction eventually closed to make way for Star Tours.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Departed DISNEYLAND: Holidayland

Holidayland is one of the rare cases of an entire land disappearing. Opened in the late 1950's, Holidayland was meant to be a place that corporations and groups could rent out as a private place for their guests to enjoy while enjoying a day in the park.

A precursor to the picnic groves that regional theme parks would later setup for groups, the land was meant to be a private respite for guests to escape the crowds in the park.

Holidayland, however, proved to be short lived. Groups who rented Holidayland found that their members didn't really make much use of the facilities. After all, why would anyone with a ticket to DISNEYLAND want to spend time in what was just a nice park? Holidayland would eventually make way for New Orleans Square and Critter Country.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Departed DISNEYLAND: Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland

When DISNEYLAND first opened, the wild frontier of Frontierland was truly wild. The park featured a pack mule ride and real horse drawn stage coaches. Finicky mules and overturned stagecoaches filled with tourists soon made Walt Disney rethink that entire side of the park. How could he make a safer, more reliable Adventure through the Wild West? With a train, of course!

Guests piled into train cars and explored the wild frontier over bridges and through tunnels. Animatronic bears and other animals entertained guests alongside the tracks.

The slow moving train soon fell out of favor with park management. After the wild successes of both the Matterhorn and Space Mountain, another mountain-based roller coaster was seen as a no-brainer. Out went the tranquil railroad ride and in came the wildest ride in the wilderness- Big Thunder Mountain.

Monday, July 17, 2017

1500 Posts!

On this special day, we are excited to announce that this is our 1500th post! Thank you for being our guest each day as we share our love of Disney with you. So what does the future hold for this site? As Mr. Disney himself said-

"I just want to leave you with this thought, that it’s just been sort of a dress rehearsal and we’re just getting started. So if any of you start resting on your laurels, I mean just forget it, because…we are just getting started.”

-Walt Disney

Happy Birthday, DISNEYLAND!

On July 17, 1955, the world was finally introduced to Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom. Nearly every television in existence at the time was tuned to DISNEYLAND's opening celebration. Tens of thousands of people got to experience it in person.

The park was expecting much smaller crowds, but the tickets had been counterfeited, plus others who were given passes that allowed them to bring as many guests as they wanted brought much more guests along than expected. The park was overwhelmed with guests, running out of food and drink.

Even more interesting- since nothing like DISNEYLAND had ever existed, the crowds were a bit confused. How does one act inside this place? Do you have to ride everything from the map in order?

While the day was later viewed negatively by some, the majority of the people in attendance loved what they saw. They came back and brought friends and family, making new memories that would last a lifetime.

"Yesterday, a man walked up to me and said, ‘Isn’t it a shame that Walt Disney couldn’t be here to see this?’ and I said, 'He did see this, that’s why it’s here.'"

-Art Linkletter

Sunday, July 16, 2017

DISNEYLAND Birthday Weekend: Just A Dream Away!

"In 1955, an amazing man named Walt Disney dreamt of a Magic Kingdom..."

-Julie Andrews

"Just imagine- if you were standing right here over 60 years ago, you'd be standing in the middle of an orange grove. One visionary man stood right where you are now, but instead of orange trees, he envisioned a Magic Kingdom. This man's name was Walt Disney. And his dream would be called DISNEYLAND."

“The greatest thing about DISNEYLAND is that its magic stays with you forever.”

-Ralph Castaneda

Saturday, July 15, 2017

DISNEYLAND Birthday Weekend: A Wonderland of Magic!

There's a great big beautiful tomorrow- shining at the end of every day!

There's a great big beautiful tomorrow- and tomorrow's just a dream away!

“DISNEYLAND proved to me that if you’ve got enough guts and intelligence and drive you can accomplish anything.”

-Marvin Davis

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Magical Kingdom...

Have Faith in Your Dreams and someday- your rainbow will come shining through!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

D23 Week: Disney Legend #33- Jack Hannah

Jack Hannah began his art career designing movie posters for Hollywood theaters. He decided to try getting a job at Disney and soon found himself as an "inbetweener", animating lesser scenes. In time he was a full-fledged animator- but his big break would come when he was assigned to work with Carl Barks, the famed cartoonist whose work with Donald Duck would become legendary.

Jack eventually directed segments for The Wonderful World of Disney and became one of the founding artists at Walt's final dream come true- CalArts in Valencia, California.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

D23 Week: Disney Legend #32- Joe Grant

Joe Grant has a unique place in Disney history. He had a hand in both Disney animation Golden eras- the original and the one that took place in the 1990's. He began his Disney career working on Mickey Mouse shorts, but he quickly moved up to features, animating the evil queen in Snow White and overseeing Pinocchio and Fantasia. The dog Lady from Lady and the Tramp was even based on a dog he owned. Mr. Grant left the studio to found his own greeting card and ceramics business. 

He returned decades later to guide Disney through its second golden age, working on The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Monsters, Inc and Up. Mr. Grant felt a loyalty to the company that his friend Walt Disney had founded, working right up until he passed away at age 97.

Monday, July 10, 2017

D23 Week: Disney Legend #31- Annette Funicello

Annette Funicello needs no introduction; the spunky dynamo was plucked from obscurity by Walt Disney and quickly became the star of The Mickey Mouse Club. Born in New Jersey, Ms. Funicello' family moved out west in search of greener pastures. Unlike other child stars with similar stories, Annette wasn't being groomed for stardom. In fact, Annette hadn't even auditioned for The Mickey Mouse Club. She was performing at a school recital when she caught the eye of Walt Disney, who had been looking for Mouseketeers. While her parents had been skeptical at first, they were soon persuaded by Mr. Disney and Annette soon became a super star.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

D23 Week: Disney Legend #30- Morgan Evans

If you've enjoyed the landscaping at DISNEYLAND or any modern theme park, actually, you have Morgan Evans to thank for it. Despite a tiny budget and a catastrophic issue with a color blind tractor operator, Mr. Evans expertly landscaped Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom, beginning a tradition of horticulture excellence at Disney Parks worldwide.

When Morgan Evans was brought onboard, he was met with a project site that was flat and full of citrus groves. His job was not only to make millions of tourists believe they had traveled to the old American west or the adventuresome jungles of far off locales, he was also supposed to make sure that they couldn't see the outside world once they entered DISNEYLAND's gates. He accomplished all of this and even succeeded in getting DISNEYLAND classified as a botanical garden. His hard work would influence every Disney theme park since, including Shanghai Disneyland. Mr. Evans would pass away in 2002, having been retired for several years.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

D23 Week: Disney Legend #29- Jimmie Dodd

Jimmie Dodd was a talented songwriter and performer who was asked to write a quick song for an episode of Walt Disney's television show Disneyland. Mr. Disney was so impressed by the short song that he instantly decreed that Jimmie was just the person to host The Mickey Mouse Club.

Prior to his hosting job, Mr. Dodd had mostly appeared in small, uncredited movie roles, but he quickly proved to be an excellent choice. Jimmie was a natural performer who also wrote many of the show's songs including its theme. Jimmie was authentic and his genuine concern for the children who he and the Mouseketeers entertained each day was obvious. The kids themselves had nothing but positive things to say about Mr. Dodd and his wife, who treated the Mouseketeers (both official and unofficial) like their own children. Mr. Dodd passed away far too young at age 54- of cancer.

Friday, July 7, 2017

D23 Week: Disney Legend #28- Bill Walsh

Disney Legend Bill Walsh began his career at Disney in the 1940's writing for the Mickey Mouse comic strips. He was plucked from the comic strip division by Walt Disney himself in 1950 to write and produce the first Disney television special- One Hour in Wonderland. Mr. Walsh had never worked on such a project before, but Walt put his total faith in him. The special was a huge success, leading to bigger and better things, like The Mickey Mouse Club and Davy Crockett.

Mr. Walsh soon found himself writing and producing such classic Disney films as Toby Tyler, The Absent-minded Professor, Blackbeard's Ghost and The Love Bug. It would be his work on Walt Disney's masterpiece- Mary Poppins- that would earn him his greatest fame and success. This comic strip writer who had been pulled into producing a one time special by the boss would make movie history and become an Academy Award nominee. Amazingly, Mr. Walsh kept writing for the comic strip until 1964. He would pass away in 1975 and become a Disney Legend posthumously in 1991.