See you in two weeks!
Thursday, March 22, 2018
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
The gopher from The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh was not actually in AA Milne’s original books. He was added by Walt Disney as a possible replacement for Piglet when the company was considering not using Piglet in the films. At some point, the decision was made to keep Piglet AND Gopher, whose first joke was written by Walt Disney himself- “I’m not in the book, you know!” Referring to both the fact that he was not in AA Milne’s book and also not in the phone book.
Monday, March 19, 2018
Mickey Mouse has appeared on millions of pieces of merchandise over the years. Despite being introduced 90 years ago, his merchandise empire is still worth billions of dollars each year.
Like the rest of his story, Mickey’s merchandise empire began humbly. Mickey Mouse had taken the world by storm, capturing the hearts of children all over the world. At the time, licensed merchandise was in its infancy, so the Disneys didn’t put much effort behind it. Mickey Mouse was seemingly tailor made for toys, however, so it would only be a matter of time before manufacturers began beating down their door. A paper tablet manufacturer stopped Walt Disney in a hotel lobby and offered $300 to produce a line of Mickey Mouse paper tablets. The studio really needed the cash, so Walt quickly agreed. The Disney merchandising empire began.
Thursday, March 15, 2018
A day at DISNEYLAND typically involves a lot of walking. If several things had happened as originally planned, it would have involved a lot more walking.
Before there was DISNEYLAND, there was Disneylandia. Disneylandia was to be a traveling exhibit of Disney-related miniatures that would travel from town to town on a train. During Disneylandia’s week in town, guests could purchase tickets to tour the walk-through exhibits. After a financial analysis of the project, it was not deemed feasible because not enough paying customers could walk through the exhibit to break even. Walt Disney shelved the idea, which eventually became DISNEYLAND.
Years later when Walt Disney was planning out DISNEYLAND, he again considered another walk-through attraction based on Alice in Wonderland. Yet again, it was seen as not being feasible as a walk-through attraction because of the film’s popularity and the large crowds that it would attract. The walk-through became a ride-through.
Apparently not one to give up on the walk-through concept completely, Walt Disney’s original plans for Pirates of the Caribbean called for it to be a walk-through Pirate Museum. After his ideas became too big for a museum, Walt Disney changed his plans and Pirates of the Caribbean became a boat ride.
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Walt Disney sampled most of the food sold throughout DISNEYLAND, but his all time favorite food in the park was popcorn. He would always give boxes of it to his personal guests who toured the park with him.
Walt himself used to get two boxes for himself- one for eating and the other to feed the ducks. It was fitting that Walt’s favorite song was Feed the Birds.
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Walt Disney was always looking to the future. Even in the early years he was always building up to something bigger and better. How else can you explain his studio producing a rougher cartoon like this in 1928:
and then producing a first of its kind spectacle just nine years later:
Every Mickey Mouse cartoon built up his studio’s skill set until it was capable of producing a masterpiece like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. His animators might not have realized it, but Walt was guiding them down the path that would eventually lead them to making beautiful feature films. Two of Disney’s legendary animators- Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnson- would write a book detailing what they felt was important in producing a successful animated film. The book’s title- The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation- actually gave the biggest secret away; that the picture needed to create the illusion of life so that the audience would identify with characters that were really just pencil lines drawn on paper. We love Snow White because she just seems real to us.
While the toy builder Geppetto could have been portrayed as a desperate idiot who actually believed that a wish could bring one of his toys alive, Disney animators gave him a soul. We identify with his desire to have a son and root for him to see his dream come true. We feel his sadness when he believes Pinocchio has died and share his joy when he realizes his little wooden head has become a real boy.
The master animators at Disney would do it again with Dumbo, not only making the audience feel for a hand drawn character, but a hand drawn character that was an elephant. During the Baby Mine sequence we see Dumbo not just as an elephant, but as a baby cruelly ripped from his mother.
Jessie is essentially just a toy who comes to life when people leave the room. The audience, however sees her as being just as real as any person when she relates her story about being abandoned. We feel for her sorrow.
Sometimes the illusion of life can transcend language and culture. The sweet interaction between Mama Coco and Miguel at the conclusion of Disney’s Coco made it possible for the film to be shown in China, despite the fact that depiction of ghosts are prohibited in films there. The Chinese censorship board were brought to tears by the scene and they gave the film an exemption. The film would go on to gross more money than all previous Disney-Pixar films combined. The technology used to produce its films might have changed, but even over 90 years later, Walt Disney’s founding legacy remains in place.
Monday, March 12, 2018
Despite his humble beginnings as a character created on a train ride by a little known film producer who was flirting with bankruptcy, Mickey Mouse exploded on the scene in 1928, quickly earning millions of fans, including one of the biggest Hollywood Stars of The silent era- Mary Pickford.
Mary Pickford was the biggest star of Hollywood’s early years, having earned the right to use her own name on her films, something that was not permitted by the studios at the time; she was originally called the “Biograph Girl”, named after her original studio.
With her husband Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford co-founded United Artists along with Charlie Chaplin and D. W. Griffith. Together, Douglas and Mary formed Hollywood’s very first super couple and were known around the world. Mary became one of Mickey and Walt Disney’s biggest fans, telling the press that Mickey Mouse was her favorite actor. When Walt Disney lost his first Mickey Mouse film distributor due to a contract dispute, Mary intervened and got a new contract for Mickey at United Artists.
Friday, March 9, 2018
Walt and Lillian Disney had a special relationship. She chose to keep the home fires burning while he chased his latest and greatest dream. While she often had misgivings about some of his riskier projects, she would be his biggest supporter through it all. That doesn’t mean that she tolerated all of his eccentricities or the baggage that came from his Hollywood career. She required that he leave his stress at the office and shunned most of the trappings of Hollywood life.
One particular annoyance of hers were the raggedy hats he used to wear. In fact, she once tried to get rid of a particularly raggedy one by throwing it into a ring after they attended a bullfight on vacation. Walt thought fast and snagged it before it was lost forever.
Lillian had nearly forgotten about the hat by the next Valentine’s Day when she was presented with a beautiful bouquet of flowers with a very unique vase. Walt had the hat bronzed, its brim formed into a heart. A very special gift indeed.
Thursday, March 8, 2018
Walt Disney’s most favorite place in the world was his Magic Kingdom- DISNEYLAND. He loved showing it off to his guests, exploring every nook and cranny and dreaming up ways to improve it.
As the only Disney theme park fully designed and personally built by Walt Disney himself, it holds a special place in history. It is the physical manifestation of Mr. Disney’s dreams and hopes- his magical gift to the world.
For those of us who enjoy the entertainment that Walt Disney’s company still provides to billions the world over, we probably owe DISNEYLAND our gratitude; the magical park out in Anaheim brought Walt Disney Productions the strength and stability to grow into the massive entertainment company it has become.
On many occasions, Walt Disney was seen around DISNEYLAND just staring off into the distance. Park staff knew better than to disturb him when they saw him deep in thought; it was during these times that he was dreaming up new ways to expand his beloved DISNEYLAND.
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Walt Disney oversaw the creation of countless legendary characters and films. It was one of his first characters, however, that always held a special place in his heart- Mickey Mouse.
Mickey Mouse was created by Walt Disney on a long train ride back from losing his first hit character. Mickey’s popularity exploded, saving the Disneys from financial ruin and establishing their studio that grew into the multi-billion dollar enterprise it is today.
Walt Disney sensed that Mickey would be something special from the very beginning. He was fiercely protective of him and that showed itself when Walt auditioned voice actors for the role of Mickey’s voice. He kept interrupting them, asking them to try a higher pitch, showing them how he envisioned Mickey should sound. Frustrated at the delays and cost of the auditions, Roy Disney stepped in and suggested that Walt just provide the voice himself. Walt became the voice of Mickey Mouse up until studio business forced him to hand off the important role to studio employee Jimmy McDonald in 1948.
Monday, March 5, 2018
Walt Disney’s favorite song was Feed the Birds from the film Mary Poppins. After a busy week at the studio he would often meet with Richard and Robert Sherman and at the conclusion of their meeting he would typically ask them to “play it”, which meant he wanted them to sing the song for him.
Despite Walt’s fondness for Feed the Birds, Richard Sherman has often said that the song he most associates with Mr. Disney is There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow. He believes the song captures Walt’s optimism for the future, which is what he and his brother had in mind when they wrote it.
Years later when Marvel Films was looking for a song to capture the same optimism for the Stark Expo featured in Iron Man 2, they enlisted the Sherman Brothers to write it. Make Way For Tomorrow Today was the result- an upbeat song that holds out hope for a brighter tomorrow.