Featured Attractions

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Disney & Fox Week: 1923

When we last left off, it was 1923 and William Fox was expanding his empire while Walt Disney was barely eking  out an existence. In any case, Fox was already well established in show business while Disney was trying to start up something- Anything.

While we can’t definitively say that Walt Disney had visited Fox to try to sell his first project- the Alice Comedies- he most likely did just that; after all, he was trying to drum up interest in his project everywhere he could. If such a meeting ever took place, it is doubtful that the Fox representatives present would have ever thought that this rumpled, fresh off the train Midwesterner would ever found a company that would eventually buy theirs. They probably couldn’t even have imagined that their company would ever be interested in buying anything he had to sell.

Walt Disney’s 1923 “Studio”

William Fox’s 1923 Studio

Eventually Walt Disney’s project would find a home with Margaret Winkler’s entertainment operation which was closely aligned with Universal Pictures. His trajectory was on the rise. Amazingly, William Fox’s fortunes would take the opposite course and he’d find himself on the outside of Hollywood looking in. Neither man knew it yet, but Walt Disney would soon soar while William Fox would take a catastrophic hit to his career courtesy of Louis B. Mayer.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Congratulations, Richard and Robert Sherman!

Today, the legendary Sherman Brothers will join Annette Funicello and Julie Andrews in receiving the honor of having a soundstage named after them at The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, CA.

Together, the Sherman Brothers wrote some of Disney’s most memorable and legendary songs, including “It’s a Small World,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and Walt Disney’s personal favorite, “Feed The Birds”. Originally hired to produce bubblegum pop for Annette Funicello, “the boys” as they were known around the studio, quickly took on a greater role in the organization, earning Oscars for their work on the classic Mary Poppins soundtrack. 

Their amazing work not only earned them accolades beyond their wildest dreams, it inspired practically everyone who came after them. Their contributions to both Disney and the entertainment industry in general are immeasurable. Sadly, Robert Sherman passed away in 2012, but his brother Richard is alive and well and will be able to accept this newest accolade. Congratulations, Messers Sherman- your work will live on forever in the hearts of those who have been lucky enough to enjoy it and even in generations not yet born.

Disney & Fox Week: Two Different Worlds

Last Friday the shareholders of both The Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox voted to approve a deal in which The Walt Disney Company will purchase most of 21st Century Fox. The mega deal surprised many in Hollywood, who believed that current majority 21st Century Fox owner Rupert Murdoch would never sell the studio to anyone. This week we’ll take a look at the history of both studios and examine their respective paths to this momentous deal.

William Fox

William Fox was an immigrant from Hungary who came from an entrepreneurial background. He had formed his first company in 1900- a year before Walt Disney was born- but quickly sold it to purchase a nickelodeon, which was the precursor to movie theaters. For the next ten years he would build his company which eventually got into the movie theater business itself. It would be Mr. Fox’s difficulty in finding adequate product for his theaters that would lead him to setup his own movie studio- The Fox Film Corporation- in 1915. Originally established in New Jersey, the studio would join the show business exodus to Southern California in 1917, setting up a state of the art studio in Los Angeles.

Walt Disney was born in Chicago, Illinois to a family that struggled to make ends meet. His father was constantly starting up new businesses but none of them were ever really successful. It seemed that Walt would follow in his footsteps. His first enterprise- Laugh-o-Grams Films- which aimed to make cartoons for advertisers and local movie theaters had filed for bankruptcy. Walt was left with just $40 and the original negative to a live action/cartoon hybrid film that he wanted to turn into a series. With just these few items, Walt Disney hopped onto a train and headed out to Southern California to follow his dreams.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Freaky Fridays: The Moving Entrance

When DISNEYLAND first opened, the city of Anaheim had offered to rename Katella Avenue, which was located at the southernmost boundary of Disney’s Anaheim property, after DISNEYLAND. Walt Disney declined, as the street had been named after two sisters whose family had originally owned most of the land that became DISNEYLAND. Mr. Disney felt that the two Anaheim pioneers should remain a part of history. Besides- at that time, DISNEYLAND’s Main Parking Entrance was on Harbor Blvd. Renaming the street would not only be a slap in the face of Anaheim history, it would confuse tourists. As DISNEYLAND expanded, it finally did open an auxiliary entrance on Katella Ave. In 1960, the Entrance sat between the then new Heidi Motel and the Alpine Inn. In the picture below, you can see the entrance at the bottom of the picture between the two square shaped buildings.

In the above matchbook, the location of the motel is shown in relation to the South Gate. In the late 1960’s, DISNEYLAND purchased the Heidi Motel and shifted the Katella entrance to the west of it. The original driveway into the parking lot became a restaurant. The south entrance stood for the next 30 years, beckoning overflow crowds into the Magic Kingdom.

Both the toll plaza and the Heidi Motel were demolished in 1997 to make way for Disney California Adventure.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Theme Park Thursdays: DISNEYLAND’s Chicken Plantation

When DISNEYLAND opened in 1955, it wasn’t quite as isolated as many people seemed to think it was. For many in Los Angeles, Anaheim was some far off hicktown on the road to San Diego. The rest had probably never heard of it. Orange County, however, already had a kitschy roadside attraction- Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, northwest of DISNEYLAND. The attraction began life as a roadside fruit stand, selling fresh fruit and preserves to people heading to the beaches of Orange County. After adding a fried chicken restaurant to the farm, crowds descended upon it, forcing its owner- Walter Knott- to expand the attraction, adding a ghost town to give his guests something to do during the long waits for a table.

Some people thought that DISNEYLAND would obliterate its competition, though both Walters- Knott and Disney- had a great relationship. Walter Knott saw DISNEYLAND as a place that would bring more people to Orange County and thus more people to his attractions. While Walt Disney did want a symbiotic relationship between the neighboring attractions, he did want to keep as much business within the Magic Kingdom as possible, so the park opened up the Chicken Plantation on the edge of Frontierland.

The Chicken Plantation, located roughly where Pirates of the Caribbean stands today, served fried chicken dinners in a casual, walk up environment. Despite the park’s best intentions, the Chicken Plantation was not seen as being the equal of Knott’s Chicken Restaurant and Southern California locals began a tradition of stopping by Knott’s Berry Farm after their yearly visit to DISNEYLAND. In fact, DISNEYLAND’s food service was seen by many as being subpar. Due to budgetary constraints, many of the park’s food service locations had been run by outside concessionaires who Walt Disney felt hadn’t provided the high quality he expected. By the time that practically all of the food services had been taken in-house, Walt Disney had already passed away.

The Chicken Plantation was demolished to make way for New Orleans Square, which featured the restaurant that Walt Disney hoped would change the public’s opinion of DISNEYLAND’s restaurants- The Blue Bayou. It would do just that. Today, DISNEYLAND guests looking for a chicken dinner inside the park can head to the Plaza Inn on Main Street. Some say the fried chicken is better there than at Knott’s Berry Farm. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the chicken is quite good; good enough to make Walt Disney proud.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Walt Wednesdays: The Queen Mary

It was the grandest ship on the seven seas- the RMS Queen Mary was truly an amazing jewel, regularly traveling back and forth between London and New York City from 1934 until 1967. The grand ship hosted a number of famous celebrities on its many journeys, including Walt Disney himself.

During a time when transatlantic airplane flights were expensive and uncomfortable, cruise ships like the RMS Queen Mary were a luxurious and regal way to hop across the pond. Mr. Disney enjoyed multiple trips on the ship, taking trips with his wife and sometimes his entire family.

In 1967, the ship was decommissioned and purchased by the city of Long Beach as a possible attraction. Jack Wrather, who owned and operated the DISNEYLAND Hotel, leased the ship, which was docked on the California Coast, and restored it. The ship was opened to the public as the ultimate themed hotel and an attraction that could be toured during the day. When the Wrather Corporation was purchased by The Walt Disney Company in 1988, the ship was temporarily controlled by Disney. Today, it still operates as a hotel and tourist attraction, still welcoming guests almost 100 years after its construction.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Toontown Tuesdays: Cleo

One of the rare Disney characters who doesn’t speak or even make much noise is Cleo, kindly Geppetto’s Beautiful goldfish, who he introduces to Pinocchio as his “water baby”. Cleo is always aware of her surroundings and participates in the highs and lows of the film in her own way.  

Despite having a “brother” who would most likely be a natural predator, Cleo’s quiet charm and loving personality warms even Figaro’s heart. At one point, he leaps into Cleo’s bowl- not to devour her, but to plant a huge kiss on her lips. Cleo has apparently charmed her way into even Figaro’s heart. While Figaro would go on to star in his own cartoon series as a cat owned by Minnie Mouse, Cleo would make few appearances outside of Pinocchio.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Mickey Mondays: Mickey at 25- A Tradition Begins

Walt Disney had always felt a personal connection to his “son”, Mickey Mouse. When Mickey started to get overshadowed by Donald Duck, Walt Disney tried quite a few things to divert attention back to Mickey, like casting him in the feature length film Fantasia. In 1953, Walt Disney was made aware that Mickey Mouse’s 25th birthday would take place that year. He decided that for the first time, the company would officially celebrate the occasion and commissioned Disney artist John Hench to create an official 25th birthday portrait. The portrait would be placed in Walt Disney’s formal office, which was replicated for the DISNEYLAND television show.

The tradition would be continued on Mickey’s 50th birthday in 1978 and on subsequent anniversaries including his 90th birthday this year.

The portrait depicts Mickey Mouse still spreading magic everywhere he goes; a friendly face in an increasingly unfriendly world. One of the biggest and best character traits handed down from Mr. Disney to Mickey Mouse was his endless optimism and belief that a great big beautiful tomorrow lay ahead.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018


On July 17, 1955, Walt Disney finally revealed his biggest dream- DISNEYLAND. It was like nowhere else in the world and it would change the world forever. Today we celebrate Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom- a dream that never ends.

A Dream That Never Ends

“Don’t worry about it, just make it beautiful and you’ll appeal to the best side of people. They all have it; all you have to do is bring it out.”

-Walt Disney

“DISNEYLAND will be a place for California to call home, to bring its guests, to demonstrate its faith in the future.”

-Walt Disney

“Think beyond your lifetime, if you want to do something truly great.”

-Walt Disney

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

-Marvin Davis

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

-Ralph Castaneda


Ten years of fantasy, ten years of fun

Ten years of growing, and you've only just begun

Ten years of building on a dream that never ends

Ten years of happiness for fifty million friends

Ten magic years ago, you had your start

Now, you're the kingdom of the young and young-at-heart

May you forever be the land of dreams come true

Congratulations, Disneyland! Happy birthday to you!

Come with me
And we'll be
In a magical fantasy

Happy faces
And places you wanna be

Explore your destination
All you have to do
Is use your imagination
And the magic will come to you

And you can live fantastic adventures
And you can play for all that you're worth
And you can face the place of the future
At the happiest place on earth

Here we are
Not too far
From the star that we wished upon

And it seems
That the dreams
That we dreamed
Are about to dawn

Explore your destinations
All you have to do
Is use your imagination
And the magic will come to you

And you can find your far away frontier
And you can sail on laughter and mirth
And be a part of a fairytale kingdom
At the happiest place on earth

Let your cares drift away
And your dreams point the way

And you can live fantastic adventures
And you can play for all that you're worth
And you can face the place of the future
At the happiest place on earth
And you can find your far away frontier
And you can sail on laughter and mirth
And be a part of the fairytale kingdom
At the happiest place on earth
Here at the Happiest Place on Earth!

Plenty of people, they started with nothing.

Just a suitcase and a dream.

They packed up their cases and went to new places.

With a suitcase and a dream.

They made this world into a place

Like you have never seen.

It’s like they hit the jackpot

On a slot machine!


Yeah, yeah, yeah!

Got a suitcase and a dream,

A suitcase and a dream.

A suitcase and a dream,

A suitcase and a dream!

You and me, we got our ideas.

Other people got theirs too!

So pack up your suitcase,

And start your dreamin’!

The rest is up to you!

It don’t matter if you’re rich or broke.

It don’t matter if you’ve given up hope.

All you need is a little drive,

To make your dreams begin to come alive!

Mr. Disney traveled west with just a few bucks to his name.

Along the way, he met Mickey Mouse,

And the world will never be the same!

He got a suitcase and a dream,

A suitcase and a dream.

Suitcase… and a dream!

When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you
If your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do
Fate is kind
She brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of
Their secret longing
Like a bolt out of the blue
Suddenly, it comes to you
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true
When a star is born
They possess a gift or two
One of them is this
They have the power to make a wish come true
When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you,
If your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do
Fate is kind
She brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of
Their secret longing
Like a bolt out of the blue
Suddenly, it comes to you
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Night Before...

The night of July 16, 1955 was most likely a sleepless one for Walt Disney. On the very next day he would finally welcome the world to his greatest dream- DISNEYLAND. It would be one of the biggest days of his life. Would people show up? Would anyone watch the opening on television? Would the naysayers be proven correct? Walt Disney was always certain that his dreams would prove to be successful, but there had to be some doubts floating around in his head. He had bet his studio and his life savings on this crazy idea of his. Would it be a success? The answer would come soon enough.


Walt Disney had a big issue when it came to DISNEYLAND- there was nothing like it in the world. How could he show the world what it would be like? He chose transparency. He would come into America’s homes every week and show them the park’s construction progress and describe in detail what they’d eventually find there.

He enlisted Davy Crockett himself to give a tour to the press. The press had been curious about the park and had doubts about its viability. Mr. Disney hoped to gain more positive mentions in the media by showing that DISNEYLAND wasn’t just some crazy carnival or circus.

The strategy worked. While people still weren’t sure about what awaited them within the Magic Kingdom, they had a better idea of what they’d find there. Beginning on July 17, 1955 people from around the world would flock to Anaheim to see what Walt Disney had built- and they continue to do so 63 years later.

Sunday, July 15, 2018


Construction on Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom began on July 16, 1954 in Anaheim, California. It was a race against time; the company was highly leveraged and the park would need to greet its first guests in the summer of 1955 in order to not default on its loans. 

By June 1955, however, it was unclear whether the park would be ready to open before summer ended. The park would need the summer crowds in order to begin making back its construction costs. At the very least, the company was able to announce an opening date that everyone was comfortable with- July 17, 1955. The date set, everyone was in a mad dash to get things ready. Mr. Disney even began scheduling pre-opening parties for staff and friends. The first of which was a July 4th picnic for Walt Disney Productions staff and their families.

The staff party provided curious staff members the chance to see what Walt Disney was building way down there in Anaheim. Construction work was still very much underway, however. Guests had access to Main Street, USA, Adventureland and Frontierland. Fantasyland and Tomorrowland were far from finished and the only current attractions that were completed were the DISNEYLAND Railroad and the Jungle Cruise. Still, attendees were enchanted by what they saw. The children of the Disney employees, now grown up, all fondly recall their first ever day at DISNEYLAND. It may not have been finished, but they knew it would be amazing once it was.

The next big event to happen before the park officially opened was Walt and Lillian Disney’s anniversary party. Walt wanted to show off his new Kingdom, so the party was held at DISNEYLAND in the Golden Horseshoe. This was a chance for friends and family to see what Mr. Disney was spending all his money on. By all accounts, Walt Disney was like a kid showing off his latest toys. By this time, the Mark Twain Steamboat was also operational, providing amazing twilight cruises on the Rivers of America.

As amazing as all of these pre-opening previews were, Walt Disney knew that DISNEYLAND’s biggest and brightest days were still to come. A great, big beautiful tomorrow was always going to be on the horizon for DISNEYLAND.