Featured Attractions

Monday, April 30, 2018

Sad Disney: Mickey’s Christmas Carol

“For every laugh, there should be a tear.”
-Walt Disney

Walt Disney knew that in order to completely sell audiences on the reality of his animated features, he would have to make his characters real and human. To do this, the films produced by his studio would have to show the good times and the bad. Like in 1983’s Mickey’s Christmas Carol.

In one of the possible future scenarios presented to Scrooge in the film, Tiny Tim passes away, leaving his father, played by Mickey Mouse, a sad wreck. We empathize with what are essentially just drawings because the characters are presented in a human way.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Theme Park Thursdays: Figment!

These days it seems as though the Disney Theme Parks are unwilling to create new characters for their attractions. Everything new these days always seems to be tied to existing characters. When Epcot Center first opened it wanted to present new concepts with new characters. Initially, Mickey and friends were not going to make any appearances in the park at all. When the park opened it had its own characters to delight guests and one of the most delightful characters introduced at the time was Figment!

Figment was meant to be the personification of creativity and imagination. His theme song was One Little Spark, an anthem to creativity.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Walt Wednesdays: More Leadership Lessons From Walt Disney

When Colonel Harland Sanders began franchising his fried chicken restaurants he constantly traveled around the country to do his own taste tests. Since he had created both the secret chicken recipe and the unique cooking process, he knew just by tasting the food whether a particular restaurant was following his procedures to the letter. If they weren’t, he would head to the kitchen to give the staff a refresher course. Colonel Sanders was a leader who knew his business well enough to be able to do it himself.

Obviously, Sanders was a unique leader. As the company founder, he had created the very system that made him famous around the world. Nobody would expect the head of Kentucky Fried Chicken today to know as much as Colonel Sanders did about the chicken cooking process. However, he or she should have more than just a cursory understanding about how the restaurants are run; as well as how decisions made at the upper levels of management will affect the customer experience.

On the reality show Undercover Boss, however, we often see how little some company executives know about their businesses. The show follows a different CEO or division head each week as they don a fake disguise and visit different locations to see how things really happen out in the trenches. The strangest thing about the show is that it can find enough executives willing to go on it to begin with. We can forgive the predictable fumbling around as they try to make burgers, take customer orders or work on the assembly line, but the real shocker is how often the leader appears surprised about how some cutback or policy change negatively affected operations out in the field.

It seems obvious that cutting staffing, maintenance or supply quality will have an adverse effect on customers and employees, but often the show features the leader shaking their head in disbelief. ‘Cutting back on the maintenance budget resulted in less efficient operations and customer complaints? Who’d have guessed?’ The show often ends with the leader telling the camera that things will change, but why did the company choose to make such important decisions without considering the implications in the first place? And why didn’t they actually go out to the trenches to gauge how a change might affect operations? Often the answer is that the only thing that mattered was the bottom line or that management thought it knew better than the people on the front lines.

Good leaders don’t have to know the minutiae of the business like Colonel Sanders. They should, however, have an understanding of how their decisions will affect their front line staff and customers. Walt Disney constantly walked around Disneyland to see how things were going or what might need improvement.

He spoke with guests, experienced the park like a regular paying customer and tried to understand the park’s everyday operations. He often consulted with front line staff to figure out the challenges they faced and get suggestions for improvements. He might not have been able to operate Matterhorn Mountain, but he certainly understood how staffing and maintenance cutbacks would affect its daily operations.

Taking time to understand the organization’s operations and how each piece fits together is not only a sign of a great leader, but it can also help reduce unforeseen consequences when budget and policy changes are made. Plus, customers and employees appreciate being genuinely listened to. An organization might still run into problems, but having an ongoing dialogue with all stakeholders will result in them being much more patient when any slip ups occur.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Toontown Tuesdays: The Proud Family

When The Disney Channel began broadcasting in 1983, it was mainly seen as a way for the company to use and repurpose its existing characters and franchises. Most of its launch slate consisted of Classic Disney movies and television shows. New programming was typically based on existing characters like Dumbo’s Circus, Welcome to Pooh Corner and Mousercise. It would take almost twenty years for the channel to produce an original animated series not based on existing characters- The Proud Family.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Mickey Mondays: A Special Star

On November 18, 1978, Mickey Mouse became the first animated character to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It was his fiftieth birthday.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Theme Park Thursdays: Anaheim Before DISNEYLAND

In the early 1950’s, Anaheim, California was a sleepy town that was barely a blip on the world’s radar. An agricultural town, its population was less than 1,000. City leadership saw that big changes were coming to Southern California and it decided it wanted to get in on the new postwar gold rush that was brewing. It had decided to begin courting big businesses and sought industrial and manufacturing companies.

Anaheim knew that it would need a mix of zones to attract the manufacturing businesses it was seeking, so it actually had begun laying out the future city zones. Several large parcels in the vicinity of Harbor Blvd. and Katella Ave. were seen as being ideal for housing tracts where future workers could live. That plan would change in 1953. Instead of housing tracts, a visionary man would see that land as being an ideal spot to locate an entirely different enterprise- a Magic Kingdom.

At first, the city of Anaheim wasn’t sure what to think about this ‘Magic Kingdom’. Was it a fly by night carnival? Some kind of fair? Luckily, Walt Disney was able to convince them that DISNEYLAND would be a jewel that would bring millions from around the world to the former orange groves of Anaheim.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Walt Wednesdays: More Leadership Lessons From Walt

Imagine you’re being honored with an award that was voted on by your colleagues. An exciting honor, right? What if nobody bothered to invite you to the meeting where the award was being handed out and the manager who oversaw the team who voted on it was seemingly not enthusiastic about handing out the ‘honor’ in the first place? Obviously the organization would have been better off not doing anything; as a matter of fact, they most likely made things worse. Believe it or not, this anecdote actually happened and is an example of the pitfalls of doing something just because it is expected and not because the organization genuinely wants to do it.

Recognition programs can vary wildly depending on the organization and its budget. Some places offer huge bonuses or exciting rewards while others offer items of little or no value. Even the small awards can mean a lot if they are offered with GENUINE appreciation. Awards offered solely because they are expected can be more demoralizing than not offering anything at all. Great leaders know that a quick note of genuine appreciation can do more to make someone’s day than a valuable award presented with little enthusiasm just because the Human Resources department mandated it.

Walt Disney completely understood this. He may have sometimes been a bit sparing with compliments, but when he provided them, he MEANT them. That’s why his employees were so loyal. Mr. Disney left us over fifty years ago, yet the people who worked for him still gush about how great a boss he was and ardently defend his memory. Richard Sherman, pictured above between his brother Robert and Walt Disney, still gets teary-eyed speaking about Walt Disney:


“Walt was always a great believer in the team. He felt that the team made the pictures, and he was the captain of the team. He just got the best of everybody in the world. So, I’ve always felt very happy that people know our songs, and I feel very lucky that I was a part of that team.”




“On what would have been Walt’s 100th birthday at DISNEYLAND, I began to play his favorite song- ‘Feed the Birds’ when a bird suddenly flew down from a tree and landed right on my piano. It stayed there until I finished the song, then as quickly as it flew down, it flew away. I’m convinced, that that bird was Walt.”



Walt Disney earned such loyalty from his employees by genuinely appreciating their efforts and talent. If Mr. Disney handed you an award, gift or compliment, you knew he was sincere and genuinely appreciative. Not all of us can have the same impact on the world as Mr. Disney, but by genuinely appreciating the hard work that happens around us, we can try to have a positive impact on our respective organizations.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Toontown Tuesdays: Harry Anderson and Toontown

When the newest land at DISNEYLAND opened in 1993, Harry Anderson, fresh off his legendary stint as Judge Harry Stone officiated at the grand opening, “swearing in” the honorary new residents of Toontown.

Mr. Anderson loved DISNEYLAND and had even hosted the park’s 35th anniversary television show just three years earlier. Harry Anderson passed away this week at age 65.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Mickey Mondays: Mickey Mouse Fun Facts

According to Disney lore, Mickey and his friends LIVE at DISNEYLAND in California. They merely visit Walt Disney World. This idea is mentioned on the Disney Magical  Express busses in Florida, where Mickey and friends are depicted riding the shuttle back to the airport to travel home- to DISNEYLAND.

The first actual attraction based on Mickey Mouse was the “Mickey Mouse Club” Theater in DISNEYLAND. Guests could spend as much time as they liked inside the air conditioned theater which featured continuous showings of Mickey Mouse cartoons. The theater eventually got a new name- The Fantasyland Theater- and showed Disney cartoons of all kinds. It was replaced by “Pinocchio’s Daring Journey” in 1983.

“Minnie” is a nickname. Mickey’s girlfriend’s full name is Minerva.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Freaky Fridays: Whatever Happened To The Main Street Shooting Gallery

In the late 1950’s there were three shooting galleries at DISNEYLAND- in Frontierland, Adventureland and Main Street. (Record Scratch) Main Street had a Shooting Gallery? Yes it did! While numerous pictures exist of both the Frontierland (which still exists) and the Adventureland shooting galleries, no such photos seem to exist for the one located on Main Street. How do we know it existed? Old C Tickets mention it as an attraction:

It was also mentioned on park maps:

It is because of old park maps that we know where the Shooting Gallery was located. It waslocated between the Coca-Cola Refreshment corner and the Penny Arcade marquee as shown below:

Today only the Shooting Gallery in Frontierland remains open. The Adventureland Shooting Gallery became a Sunkist juice stand and the Main Street Shooting Gallery disappeared to become the stuff of legend.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Theme Park Thursdays: Disney Vacationland

South Katella Parking Gate 

Harbor Blvd. Main Parking Entrance

West Street - Disneyland Hotel

Harbor Blvd.

Walt Disney on Harbor Blvd.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Walt Wednesdays: Leadership Lessons From Mr. Disney

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.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Toontown Tuesdays: Disney Afternoon LIVE!

After DISNEYLAND’s successful 35th anniversary began winding down, the park wanted to keep the momentum going before its next big project. Eager to do something that could cross promote another Disney project and also test the waters for a future DISNEYLAND project, the park settled on theming the area around it’s a small world as Afternoon Avenue.

Afternoon Avenue would promote Disney’s afternoon strip of cartoons while also testing out the concept of a controlled character photo opportunity that would take place in the upcoming Mickey’s Toontown. A temporary soundstage was constructed behind it’s a small world where Mickey’s Toontown would be located a few years later. Guests could enter the soundstage and have a private audience with Baloo.

The Fantasyland Autopia was converted into Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers Raceway where music from the show and character theming were added to enhance the opportunity. The Motor Boat Cruise to Gummi Glen turned the normally themeless Motor Boat attraction into an adventure with the Gummi Bears.

The temporary attraction was a huge success and paved the way for the eventual construction of Mickey’s Toontown.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Mickey Mondays: Mortimer Mouse

When Walt Disney first came up with the idea for his soon to be world famous Mouse, he had what he thought was the perfect name for him- Mortimer Mouse. Luckily for him, his wife Lillian came up with a more marketable name- Mickey Mouse.

Lillian had felt that the name Mortimer sounded too stuck up for a cute little mouse. So when his staff had an idea for a stuck up rival for Mickey, Walt thought back to Lillian’s warnings about using the name Mortimer- and realized that it would be the perfect name for Mickey’s rival.

The character has been used many times throughout the years.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

ANNOUNCEMENT: 20th Century Fox World Coming to the DISNEYLAND Resort!

ANAHEIM, CA- At a lively press conference that featured a cavalcade of Disney characters, the DISNEYLAND Resort announced that its third Anaheim theme park will be called 20th Century Fox World. The new park will be built on the last open space within the sprawling DISNEYLAND Resort, a parcel of land located at the corner of Harbor Blvd. and Katella Ave.

“From the moment we announced our historic takeover of 20th Century Fox, our guests were wondering how we were going to take advantage of these valuable new assets,” noted DISNEYLAND Resort spokeswoman April F. Ewell, “Now they’ll know exactly what we have planned for them- 20th Century Fox World!”

The park will bring the various worlds of 20th Century Fox alive in a 100 acre theme park located just south of the existing DISNEYLAND Resort. “We’re still dreaming up new ideas, but we can share some of our plans with you today,” noted Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger. Among the announced plans:

Soarin’ over Fox will allow park guests to fly over iconic Fox landscapes like the final episode of M*A*S*H, The Simpsons’ Springfield and the garish sets of the notorious Elizabeth Taylor film Cleopatra. 

Guests looking for greater thrills can ride the WKRP In Cincinnati Turkey Drop, an exciting thrill ride that recreates the thrill of being helplessly dropped from an airplane while the ground rushes up to greet you. “Original WKRP cast member Richard Sanders has re-recorded his classic narration from the television series,” noted Ms. Ewell, “Guests will hear it all in clear Dolby Surround as they descend ‘Turkey Tower’!”

Roller coaster fans will find new thrills on what will become the fastest roller coaster at the DISNEYLAND Resort- Beverly Hills, 9021-WHOA! Based on the classic Fox television series Beverly Hills, 90210, The coaster will feature a gigantic Brandon Walsh graphic with onboard speakers playing the show’s iconic theme song.

Park guests of all ages will be able to help the Jeffersonian Institute solve the latest murder in the exciting play area The Bones Yard, based on the popular Fox series Bones. “Is a crime scene an appropriate setting for a theme park attraction? Maybe,” noted Mr. Iger.

The final attraction announced was Stewie’s Good Ship Lollipop, a ride featuring Stewie from Family Guy and an assortment of Shirley Temple animatronics.

“20th Century Fox World will enchant our guests and show Wall Street that we are ready to use the very expensive Fox properties that we have just acquired,” noted Mr. Iger, “That second thing is probably more important.” The Park is tentatively scheduled to open on February 29, 2025.