Featured Attractions

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Toontown Tuesdays: Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin

When The Walt Disney Company built its first full size, full quality Toontown in Anaheim, it was a foregone conclusion that the land would include an immersive ride based on Roger Rabbit. Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin became a huge success, attracting millions of guests to the furthest land from the front gate.

The success of the land and the attraction spawned a nearly identical version that was built in Tokyo. As this picture attests, the attraction was not an exact match to the one in Anaheim.

The attraction was never replicated in Disney World’s now demolished “Toontown Fair”, quite possibly due to the area’s low quality construction.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Music Mondays: Walt Disney and the Avengers

While Walt Disney’s favorite song was Feed the Birds from Mary Poppins, the Sherman Brothers, who wrote the song, always felt that the piece of music they wrote that best summed up their boss was There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow, a bouncy song that was used in the Carousel Of Progress attraction in DISNEYLAND.

The song expressed Mr. Disney’s positive outlook- his feeling that today’s problems could be solved in the future through research and technology. In 2010, Marvel Studios was looking for an inspirational song that would be used at the fictional “Stark Expo” in Iron Man 2. In the film, Howard Stark is portrayed as a businessman who similarly embraced the future. The type of song they had in mind was one that would be similar to There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow, so they went right to the original songwriters- the Sherman Brothers- who wrote Make Way For Tomorrow Today, a song that sounds like it could have been right out of DISNEYLAND’s Tomorrowland.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Walt Wednesdays: A Spire Of Hope

Ray Bradbury was famous for being a futurist and author. What he is less famous for was being a huge fan of Walt Disney.

Ray often told the story of how he was a wide-eyed young author when he bumped into Walt Disney while Christmas shopping. Ray took the initiative to introduce himself, unsure of how his hero would react. Not only had Walt Disney heard of him, Mr. Disney invited him over to the studio to look at some ideas Walt was considering for Tomorrowland and the Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow- EPCOT. Ray was overjoyed.

While Walt Disney’s original ideas for Florida were scrapped, Ray stayed around as a consultant, hoping to inject as much Walt into the project as possible. Not long after the project’s completion, Mr. Bradbury took a trip to Paris. He took in all of the sights, including the famed Notre Dame Cathedral. Upon returning to the states, he visited DISNEYLAND and noticed for the first time a familiar spire.

Ray thought that it had to have been added recently, as he never remembered seeing it before. He contacted a Disney Imagineer who confirmed that the spire had been there from day one in 1955.

The Imagineer also verified that the spire was indeed inspired by the one at Notre Dame Cathedral and had been inserted into the castle design by Walt Disney himself. What was the reason given for why Walt put it there? Because he had seen the spire in Paris while touring Notre Dame and had liked it. While the DISNEYLAND spire will doubtless get added attention in light of recent events, it has spent most of its existence sitting atop the most recognizable castle in the world mostly going unrecognized.

This small detail is what makes DISNEYLAND so unique as the only Disney Theme Park fully designed and overseen by Walt Disney. The park is full of these little touches, added because Walt Disney loved what they represented. It is these things, whether we notice them or not, that have made DISNEYLAND more than just a theme park.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Toontown Tuesdays: Shnookums & Meat

The initial success of Nickelodeon’s Ren and Stimpy led other animation studios to re-evaluate their television shows. Believing its content was now outdated in comparison, Disney Television decided to try its hand at a more absurdist cartoon- thus The Shnookums & Meat Funny Cartoon Show was put into production. The show never caught on and was canceled after just a handful of episodes. While audiences might not have bought the weird premise, the strangest stories attached to the show lurked behind the scenes.

Best known for his crude animated show Family Guy, Seth MacFarlane is hardly the type of guy who anyone would imagine might be tied to a Disney cartoon. Now that Family Guy is part of the Disney Family after the purchase of Twentieth-Century-Fox, many have wondered what that might mean for the show. In actuality, Seth had already worked for Disney in the past- as a writer for Jungle Cubs and the voice of an ant in Shnookums & Meat Funny Cartoon Show.

But the strangest Shnookums & Meat Funny Cartoon Show crewmember would have to be Katherine Victor. Ms. Victor had been a B-List movie star, bringing actual talent and class to every film she made, even when she was forced to wear a ridiculous costume like the one shown above in The Wild World Of Batwoman. (Not associated with DC’s Bat Empire.) At Disney Animation, she served as a continuity director, making sure that the backgrounds and animation were consistent and free of errors.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Prie pour Paris et Notre Dame

Music Mondays: “Hello Everybody”

Magical memories can be triggered at the most random times by sights, smells and sounds. Soundtrack albums featuring the sounds and songs of Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom have long been popular souvenirs, primarily because listening to them can bring back a flood of happy memories, even if the listener is thousands of miles away from the park.

One of the greatest shows to ever grace a theme park stage was the Golden Horseshoe Revue. Staffed by genuine showbiz talents, the show was the sort of entertainment that had never before been seen anywhere and sadly might never be seen again. The show’s quality was reflected in its signature song, written specially for the Revue- Hello, Everybody. The song gave a hearty welcome to the audience and was a high kicking prelude of things to come. Luckily, the song was preserved on the show’s own soundtrack which was remastered and sold on demand at DISNEYLAND in the early 2000’s. It was later included in the park’s 50th Anniversary soundtrack as well as its current Legacy Collection CD. To read about a personal memory of the show here on the site, please click here: http://www.retlawyensid.com/2018/10/the-magic-of-disneyland-memories.html?m=0

Friday, April 12, 2019

Freaky Fridays: From Disney to Marriott

Most every amusement enterprise that opened up after DISNEYLAND was inspired in some way by Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom. While some parks were only inspired by the original theme park, others have quite a bit of Disney DNA in them- like Marriott’s Great America in Santa Clara, CA.

Great America’s ties to DISNEYLAND begin before DISNEYLAND opened in 1955. In the early 1950’s, Fess Parker was just a contract player at Warner Brothers, starring in supporting roles and looking for larger roles. In 1954 he caught the eye of Walt Disney who gave him the role of a lifetime as Davy Crockett. Fess went from being a supporting actor to a superstar literally overnight. In 1955, he proudly appeared at the opening of DISNEYLAND, watching history getting made in the orange groves of Anaheim.

Fess Parker would go on to earn a fortune that he would try to put to good use. Seeing the success that followed the opening of DISNEYLAND, Fess decided to try his hand at building a theme park. His park, to be called Frontier Worlds, was originally intended to be built in Boone County, Kentucky. When another theme park was announced for a neighboring area, Fess dropped his plans and began looking west- to Santa Clara, CA. At the time, the city was a sleepy outpost just north of San Jose. Mr. Parker purchased 1200 acres and hired Harrison “Buzz” Price to determine the viability of a theme park at the location.

Mr. Price, shown above with Walt Disney, was the analyst who helped Mr. Disney find a suitable location for DISNEYLAND, determined the ideal size for the parking area and even calculated how many restaurants would be needed and how much guests would spend. Mr. Price’s analysis would become the standard for the theme park industry and his calculations are still used today. His contributions to DISNEYLAND were so huge that he even has a window on DISNEYLAND’s Main Street.

Mr. Price was helping with Florida’s Disney World at the time, but he found time to assist Fess Parker. He determined that Santa Clara was an ideal location for a theme park, especially since the area was devoid of such attractions. (Its only competitors would be ABC’s Marine World and Africa, USA which had yet to merge.) Despite the positive analysis, Fess Parker could not find other investors.

On the other side of the country, J. W. Marriott was making plans to diversify his company and he saw theme parks as the way to do it. The company had mainly been on the sidelines during DISNEYLAND’s rise; it hadn’t started opening hotels until 1957 and didn’t feel it was strong enough financially to get involved in DISNEYLAND’s food service, which had originally been contracted out. By the 1970’s it hadn’t even established much of a foothold in either Anaheim or Orlando. Mr. Marriott envisioned building his own theme parks- one in the west, one in the east and one in between. Fess Parker had heard about these ambitious plans and asked Harrison Price to setup a meeting to convince Mr. Marriott to choose Santa Clara as the west coast location for the Marriott parks. 

Marriott had already been offered and rejected other spots in both Northern and Southern California. One Southern California location had been offered to and rejected by Walt Disney decades earlier. Market research had suggested that the Southern California market would not support another theme park at that time and that the park might find greater traction in Northern California. Santa Clara’s proximity to San Francisco and its builtin tourism industry pushed the scales in the location’s favor. J. W. Marriott had decided on his west coast location, buying the property from Fess Parker.

The company would eventually build two of the three parks, the other one opening in Gurnee, Illinois. The east coast park never got off the ground because all of the locations the company had identified as potential sites ended up facing big opposition. (Coincidentally, Disney would buy one of the sites and attempt to build Disney’s America theme park, a project that was also shot down.) Eventually, Marriott would divest itself of its theme parks. While they were profitable, they were not as profitable as the company had hoped and required constant capital investments to keep guests coming in the gates. 

The Gurnee Park was sold to Six Flags. The Santa Clara Park was slated to be demolished. The computer industry had setup right outside Marriott’s front gate and the park was now at the center of Silicon Valley. The land it sat on was more valuable to computer companies and it was rumored that IBM had offered Marriott a ton of money to build a campus on the park’s grounds. The city of Santa Clara would eventually come to the park’s rescue.

So the park’s Disney pedigree goes much further than just being an inspiration. If not for Disney legends Fess Parker and Harrison Price, the park most likely would have been located elsewhere.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Theme Park Thursdays: Anaheim’s Hidden Surprise

One of the things that Walt Disney insisted upon at DISNEYLAND was for the real world to not be visible from inside the park. This was difficult in Anaheim as DISNEYLAND had purchased as much land as it could and was surrounded by its outside neighbors. Not only was the park successful at making sure that you could not see Anaheim inside of the park, it also kept its secrets from being viewed from outside the park. In fact, other than the Matterhorn and the monorail, one couldn’t really tell that they were right outside the Magic Kingdom in the surrounding area.

Of course, the famous DISNEYLAND marquee let guests know that they were in the presence of “the happiest place on earth”!

When DISNEYLAND extended the monorail to the DISNEYLAND Hotel it was the first time that a DISNEYLAND attraction went outside of the park, visible by the outside world. For those who had never ventured inside the Magic Kingdom, it would be a look at one of the many wonders that lie within its gates.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Music Mondays: “Glee”

The music industry has been on the decline for at least a decade. While it has often blamed the rise of the internet and the easy availability of piracy, the music industry’s problems are deeper than that. As the 2000’s wore on, it seemed as though the sales records racked up during recorded music’s heyday were not likely to ever be beaten. In 2009, Twentieth-Century-Fox Television introduced a show that would not only challenge decades-old sales record but would  regularly break them. Glee, a show about a high school glee club, would dominate the sales charts becoming a phenomenon that re-invigorated the recording industry and set its own seemingly unbeatable records.

Glee released 460 singles, of which a record 207 charted, beating legendary acts like The Beatles, Michael Jackson and Queen. This amazing sales record will not likely be beaten, though the show’s music has yet to prove that it has as much staying power as the acts whose records it shattered.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Just A Dream Away!

There’s a Great Big Beautiful tomorrow
shining at the end of every day.
There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow
and tomorrow is just a Dream Away!

Saturday, April 6, 2019


“New places, new faces,
New friendships will start,
While old places, old faces,
Stay dear to our heart!”

Friday, April 5, 2019

Freaky Food Fridays: Flamin’ Hot Funnel Cake?

Looking for something strange to eat at DISNEYLAND? Why not try the Sizzlin’ Hot Funnel Cake at the Hungry Bear Restaurant? It’s a Funnel Cake topped with nacho cheese and crushed Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. It’s horrifying!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Theme Park Thursdays: Real Life in The Parks

When Disney California Adventure remodeled its front gate, the entry structure was modeled after Los Angeles’ historic Pan Pacific Theatre.

The tribute to the Pan Pacific is bittersweet, since the buildings in the original complex were demolished or destroyed long ago.

Long before the front gate tribute, however, there was already a tie between Disney Theme Parks and the designers of the Pan Pacific complex. The same team that designed the Pan-Pacific Theatre designed the DISNEYLAND Hotel. Both the theatre and the Hotel were designed with the same mid-Century atomic age style architecture that is more popularly referred to nowadays as “Googie”. The same optimistic look into the future found inside Tomorrowland spilled out into the contemporary futuristic look of the DISNEYLAND Hotel.

Speaking of “contemporary” design, the first hotel to open at Florida’s Disney World complex was designed by the same firm that designed the Pan-Pacific Amphitheater, the direct inspiration for Disney California Adventure’s Main Gate. Disney’s Contemporary Hotel had a revolutionary design in which each room was outfitted off-site then slid into place with a crane. Like its older sibling, it is directly connected to the monorail system, only this monorail glides through the hotel’s cavernous lobby- A much appreciated amenity considering Florida’s humid climate!