Featured Attractions

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Theme Park Thursdays: Pirates Construction

The construction of DISNEYLAND's Pirates of the Caribbean was unlike anything ever attempted at the time. To accommodate the immense size of the attraction, it had to be built underground. The drops experienced at the beginning of the attraction were designed to get guests under the train tracks and into the show building.

Walt Disney constructed an entire underground complex beneath the park that featured an industrial kitchen for the park's restaurants, an employee cafeteria and of course, some  marauding Pirates.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Toontown Tuesdays: Dumbo

Dumbo features the only title character in a Disney film who doesn't speak at all. He would get a voice in the Disney Channel series Dumbo's Circus, though it is not considered to be "official".

Monday, August 28, 2017

Music Mondays: DISNEYLAND Records Release #15: Life of the Party, Volume II

Apparently Life of the Party was successful enough to justify a sequel. Volume II featured more piano music that your guests could sing along to, courtesy of DISNEYLAND Records. Whether you were trying to entertain your guests (or make them leave your house) Camarata had you covered.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Food Fridays: Maxwell House

Long before coffee became the domain of hipsters and expensive drink chains, it was just an afterthought, served at breakfast and often came with free refills. At DISNEYLAND's town square, Maxwell House provided a place for guests to enjoy breakfast and a cup of coffee with the hope that they would return to Iowa and start buying Maxwell House instead of Folgers.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Walt Wednesdays: The Plaza Inn

One of Walt Disney's most favorite places to eat in DISNEYLAND was the Plaza Inn. Though he passed away not long after it opened, the restaurant quickly became one of his most favorite stops in the park. It even became an unofficial headquarters of DISNEYLAND's grand Tencennial celebration in 1965.

The restaurant remains open to this day, still serving thousands of DISNEYLAND guests each and every day.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Toontown Tuesdays: Gideon

The villainous Gideon from Pinocchio doesn't speak in the film, but Walt Disney had originally hired an actor to provide a voice for him- the legendary Mel Blanc. In the end, Walt Disney cut Gideon's vocal scenes from the film because he felt that they made him sound like a drunkard. In the end, only a hiccup provided by Mel Blanc remained in the film.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Music Mondays: DISNEYLAND Records Release #14- Folk Songs From the Far Corners

Walt Disney presents Folk Songs From The Far Corners was another more experimental release from the label, produced by DISNEYLAND Records' in-house legendary producer Tutti Camarata. Camarata was given free reign with many of the labels' second tier releases because Walt Disney wanted to gauge what his family audience might be interested in. This album would actually be quite successful, spawning other folk song releases.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Disney Trivia Week: EPCOT Center

Who designed EPCOT?

The answer is A. Walt Disney's original ideas for EPCOT were completely canceled by his brother Roy after Walt passed away. Years later, when the company was planning out ideas for new theme parks, the Disney Imagineers had two of them- Future World and World Showcase. Disney CEO Card Walker became aware of the biggest complaint received at Florida's Disney World- that guests wanted to visit the EPCOT place they remembered Walt talking about on television. Mr. Walker ordered the team to stop what they were doing and come up with a theme park that could be called EPCOT. The team struggled to find something that could fit the bill. An impatient Card Walker went into Imagineering's model room and stared at the models for Future World and World Showcase. He pushed them together and decreed that the committee's existing ideas would be combined to become EPCOT Center.

Disney Trivia Week: The Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow

Who designed EPCOT?

A. A committee of Imagineers who threw together two separate theme park ideas.

B. Roy Disney, who made it bigger than his brother had originally envisioned.

C. Walt Disney, whose original idea was followed to the letter.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Disney Trivia Week: Secrets Revealed

How did Club 33 get its name?

Club 33 got its name because it is located at 33 Royal Street for legal reasons. Walt Disney was insistent that the only place in DISNEYLAND Park that would be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages was Club 33. In order to enforce that prohibition, Club 33 needed its own address.

Disney Trivia Week: A Secret Club

How did Club 33 get its name?

A. The 33 stands for the original 33 sponsors of DISNEYLAND.

B. 33 is a tribute to Donald Duck, who was created when Walt Disney was 33.

C. For legal purposes, the club is located at 33 Royal Street.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Disney Trivia Week: Walt Disney's Joy

Why is DISNEYLAND's Sleeping Beauty Castle the smallest of the Disney Parks castles?

The Answer is C!

When Walt Disney was building his Magic Kingdom, he often walked through the grounds on his knees to experience it the way a child would. Since the castle was one of the first buildings constructed onsite and it wasn't originally finished on the inside, Walt Disney made sure that he had enough funds to complete the castle of his dreams. 

Disney Trivia Week: Sleeping Beauty Castle

Why is DISNEYLAND's Sleeping Beauty Castle the smallest of the Disney Parks castles?

A. Walt Disney had run out of money and had to scale back his plans.

B. The City of Anaheim would not approve a taller structure.

C. Walt Disney wanted his Magic Kingdom to be comfortable and appealing to children so the castle was scaled down.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Disney Trivia Week: Reappearing Ghosts!

Why was the Hatbox Ghost removed from The Haunted Mansion?

The Answer is: B!

While urban legends claimed that both A & C were true, the real reason why the Hatbox Ghost was removed was because the effect never looked realistic and Imagineering didn't have time to work on improving it. 

As most guests know, the ghosts in the Haunted Mansion are more treat than trick, so nobody has ever had a fright related heart attack inside the building. While Sharon Tate did get murdered the night before the Haunted Mansion opened, the tragic event never had an effect on the operation of the attraction.

Disney Trivia Week: Disappearing Ghosts

Why Did DISNEYLAND remove the Hatbox Ghost?

A. The Hatbox Ghost was so scary, a DISNEYLAND guest suffered a heart attack.

B. The special effect didn't work right and due to the extreme popularity of the attraction there was no time to fix it.

C. The Hatbox Ghost was removed out of respect for Sharon Tate, who was killed the night before the attraction opened.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Haunted Mansion FINALLY Opens- August 9, 1969.

When the DISNEYLAND river front extended just around the river bend, the wrought iron antebellum mansion sprang up mysteriously. The house itself was vacant, but curious guests would find this sign placed at the mansion's gates:

For almost ten years, the gates remained closed. Guests could only imagine what awaited them within its walls. That day would finally arrive- on August 9, 1969.

Would guests show up to see what was inside that house at the river bend? They definitely would! August 9th was on a Saturday that year and thousands of guests descended on the park. It would be the very first time that the park would have to shut its gates.

Where does the line begin? Way back in Adventureland, it seems!

That sign would be one of the most successful viral promotions- long before the term even existed!

Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Behind the Scenes

Friday, August 4, 2017

Freaky Fridays: The Disney World Shoe Tree

Guests taking the boat launch from Fort Wilderness to Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom Park will encounter a curious sight midway through their journey- a tree covered with shoes. It's an odd sight at a place that prides itself on cleanliness. So what's the story behind this tree? Whenever one of the boat captains retires or leaves, he or she will throw their shoes on the tree, adding to the "decorations". The tradition continues to this day.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Theme Park Thursdays: Reassuring Fun

When Walt Disney sat down with his Imagineers, he knew exactly how he wanted DISNEYLAND to look and feel. It would later be called "the architecture of reassurance" by people who studied such things, but Mr. Disney would simply say that he wanted his guests to instantly feel comfortable when they entered the park's front gates.

The idea was to design comfortable, welcoming spaces that seemed familiar even to guests who had never visited the park before. This design strategy was extended to the world outside the parks too.

Downtown Disney was built with the same thought behind it. Build an exciting, vibrant area that would make people of all types feel like they belonged in it. The kinetic energy and surroundings make for an exciting location where everyone wants to be; where everyone feels like they belong.

Amazingly just steps away from the exciting Downtown Disney District is the calming, awe inspiring Grand Hall at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. A respite from the hustle and bustle of the parks, the Grand Hall provides a similar welcoming, though much more calming environment than that of Downtown Disney. Of course, the first Disney environment ever created is still one of the best...

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Walt Wednesdays: A True Leader

Too many organizations give lip service to professional development. While staff are encouraged to take classes to improve their skills, little time is actually devoted to such things. Employees find themselves in a situation much like that of Cinderella- they can pursue professional development IF they complete their regular assignments and IF they can find the time. The organization might say that it values professional development, but its actions show the opposite to be true. Even if an employee can fit such luxuries into their schedules, they are often not permitted to apply their new skills to anything practical. Management further demoralizes its staff by importing new talent from outside the organization rather than promoting from within. In more extreme environments, management demeans its existing staff by not even  considering them for open positions. As most people can attest, using the phrase “national recruitment” often means “existing staff need not apply.”

So what can Mr. Disney teach us about actually valuing professional development and searching for hidden talents throughout the organization? Just take a look around his Magic Kingdom of DISNEYLAND. Mr. Disney learned early on that the so-called experts were more inclined to summarily dismiss his ideas as impossible without really thinking about them. An outside architect had told Mr. Disney that the Matterhorn Bobsleds and Submarine Voyage were impossible to build. Not one to easily take no for an answer, Mr. Disney assigned some of the early model building and design to employees that hadn’t previously done such work. One such employee- Imagineer Harriet Burns- later recalled how much she had learned on the project. Not only did she learn the ins and outs of model building and scaling, she also learned that she could actually accomplish such tasks.  By identifying her hidden talents and showing confidence in her skills, Walt Disney made an already top notch employee even more motivated to succeed. Not only did he give her time to learn something new, he gave her a chance to apply those new skills to a real world project that is still enjoyed today.

This was not an isolated incident. Another example can be found inside Pirates of the Caribbean. The attraction needed a song to tie things together, but instead of asking his staff song writers to put something together, he asked Imagineer Xavier Atencio to write something. Despite never having written a song before, Mr. Atencio successfully penned the attraction’s signature ditty Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life For Me). Mr. Atencio put it best when he marveled that:

“I didn’t even know I could write music, but somehow Walt did. He tapped my hidden talents.”

The song that he wrote is still heard around the world in the various Pirates of the Caribbean attractions at Disney parks.

By identifying hidden talents and finding practical uses for them, Mr. Disney built a loyal, talented and successful team that made the impossible possible. His staff accomplished great things because he believed they could do it and he encouraged them to step outside of their comfort zones. So many organizations could learn a thing or two from Walt Disney’s leadership. While it is very easy to talk about valuing professional development and nurturing hidden talents, it often seems to be a challenge for an organization to actually value these things in practice. Those that do can often accomplish great things and maintain a loyal, efficient workforce. Walt Disney truly valued these attributes and his team literally built mountains.