Category Archives: Walt Disney

Infographic: Which Disney Park Is Actually The Happiest Place On Earth?

Source: Suzy Strutner, Which Disney Park is Actually The Happiest Place on Earth?, The Huffington Post, January 6, 2014,

There’s only room for one Happiest Place on Earth on this Earth.

The folks at Cheap Flights have cross-examined ticket prices, acreage, and the number of character meet-and-greets to determine which of six Disney parks is the most jolly.

Scroll to the bottom for the big reveal!

Happiest Disney Park Infographic

Remembering Shirley Temple at the Disneyland Resort

Source: George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort, February 11th, 2014


Iconic film star from the 1930s, turned U.S. diplomat, Shirley Temple Black, passed away Monday at the age of 85. Although she never appeared in a Disney film, she knew Walt Disney, and has a unique place in their history including an animated caricature cameo in the Donald Duck short, “The Autograph Hound,” as well as her service as a member of the Disney board of directors in the mid-1970s.

But we have a special memory of Shirley Temple at the Disneyland Resort that some people may not be aware of.

STP987333In April 1957, Walt Disney invited Shirley to oversee the opening of the Sleeping Beauty Castle Diorama.STP987334Her daughters Lori and Linda can be seen in the background, along with her husband, Charles Black.STP987332She later said this was the last time she saw Walt Disney, whom she remembered fondly.“Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs”A photo of this iconic moment in Hollywood history hangs proudly in the hallway leading to the dining room of Carthay Circle Restaurant at Disney California Adventure park.STP987331Shirley: “I’m sure all the boys and girls in the whole world are going to be very happy when they find out the daddy of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,’ Mickey Mouse, Ferdinand and all the others is going to get this beautiful statue. Isn’t bright and shiny! Aren’t you proud of it, Mr. Disney?”

Walt: “I’m so proud I think I’ll bust. You know I think that Mickey Mouse, Ferdinand, Snow White and all the dwarfs are going to be very proud that you presented it.”

In Defense of Walt Disney


I am posting commentary from The Walt Disney Family Museum blog regarding recent statements that have been made about Walt.

Walt was one of my childhood heroes (Houdini, Teddy Roosevelt, Albert Einstein were others). I also had the good fortune to work for The Walt Disney Company for a while. I have read most books and articles (both good and bad) about Walt over my lifetime.

Please take some time and read this commentary. I will let it speak for itself.

In the meantime, I am going to Disneyland.

Best regards,



In light of the recent rumors that have been spreading about Walt Disney, The Walt Disney Family Museum would be more than happy to debunk misconceptions that have been told as bold, un-sourced statements and wildly false accusations, as part of our mission to enlighten and educate.

© Disney

In 1938, a letter was written from Walt Disney Productions to a female applicant, turning down her request to enroll in the Studio’s Animation Training Program. The letter, to the right, states that women did not perform the position of Animator at that time. What it did not say is that women were not capable of such work. This type of job restriction could be found not only at The Walt Disney Studios but at every other animation studio. Put into historical context, this letter illustrates the culturally accepted limited role of women in the workplace in the 1930s. At that time, most companies in America were mostly male-dominated with women providing smaller support roles. There were several prominent women within Walt Disney Productions, well before WWII made women the backbone of the American workforce. In speeches made to his employees on February 10 and 11, 1941, Walt observed that women artists could fully equal their male counterparts, and were being included in his studio animation training program:

“If a woman can do the work as well, she is worth as much as a man,” he declared. “The girl artists have the right to expect the same chances for advancement as men, and I honestly believe they may eventually contribute something to this business that men never would or could.”
Courtesy Walt Disney Family Foundation © The Estate of Mary Blair

Quite a few women played important roles at The Walt Disney Studios during Walt’s time, including artist Mary Blair—whose work in the animation department at The Walt Disney Studios heavily influenced the look and feel of Disney films for almost 30 years. Blair started at the Studios in the early 1940s and worked on classics such as Cinderella, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, and more. She also assisted in the design of the Disneyland Resort attraction it’s a small world, and a life retrospective of her work will be on view at The Walt Disney Family Museum starting March 2014. (Our current exhibition—Water to Paper, Paint to Sky: The Art of Tyrus Wong—focuses on the life’s work of 103-year old Asian American artist Tyrus Wong, who also worked at The Walt Disney Studios in the 1940s. To find out more about Walt and diversity, please skip down to the next section).

To this day, there are quite a few women who worked at The Walt Disney Studios who will still happily recall stories from their time spent working with and knowing Walt Disney. Among these legendary women are Ginni Mack, Marge Champion, and Disney Legend Alice Davis—the costumer who played a large role in Disney history as she designed and hand-made a significant amount of costumes seen on the Audio Animatronics in a number of Disneyland attractions.

Learn more about a few of these women including Bianca Majolie, Sylvia Moberly-Holland, Rhetta Scott, and Mary Blair here; read more about the first female Imagineer, Harriet Burns, here.

It was even before the 1950s when they started recognizing the employment and importance of women at The Walt Disney Studios. Notably, Hazel Sewell served as an art director on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which was released in 1937—a year before the letter mentioned above was dated. Sewell also worked as an ink artist on the very first Mickey Mouse cartoon created in 1928, Plane Crazy, and was one of the artists who traveled to Latin America in 1941 as part of Walt’s goodwill tour.

Other notable females, besides Walt’s wife Lillian—who worked as an Inker & Painter before they married in 1925—were his Aunt Margaret, who provided Walt with his first drawing tablet and tools, and Margaret (MJ) Winkler, whose distribution deal with Walt’s Alice Comedies allowed him to establish the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studios in 1923.


© Disney

Walt Disney was a patriot—one only has to look at his work throughout the 1940s to witness his tour of  Latin America of behalf of the United States Good Neighbor Policy, the US Army’s occupation of The Walt Disney Studios Lot, Walt’s countless military training films, which were made at cost, as well as shorts and films against the Axis like “Victory Through Air Power.” The Studios even won an Academy Award in 1943 for the  short film “Der Fuehrer’s Face”—the easiest of Google searches will reveal the true patriotic message behind Donald Duck’s nightmare in “Nutzi Land.”

Moreover, Walt not only employed many people of Jewish descent—including Joe Grant, Marty Sklar, Ed Solomon, Richard and Robert Sherman, and so many more who held prominent roles within Walt’s company. These men and women collaborated and created with Walt, side by side, with no prejudice. Ask some of the people who worked directly with Walt Disney what it was like to work with him and his organization, such as a number of the women mentioned above or the men listed below.
In a recent interview, songwriter Richard Sherman states: “Let me tell you something, a lot of people talk about Walt in negative ways. There was nothing negative about Walt Disney,” he says. “He was dedicated to doing great things. He reached for the stars all the time. He was a wonderful, wonderful boss.”
This isn’t the first time the Sherman Brothers have gone on record in defense of Walt. Some may also recall the story that Robert Sherman told about Walt’s defending the brothers during a meeting: “Walt was sensitive to people’s feelings . . . He hated to see people mistreated or discriminated against. One time, Richard and I overheard a discussion between Walt and one of his lawyers. This attorney was a real bad guy, didn’t like minorities. He said something about Richard and me, and he called us ‘these Jew boys writing these songs.’ Well, Walt defended us, and he fired the lawyer. Walt was unbelievably great to us.”

Walt was also a frequent contributor to Jewish charities, including the Yeshiva College and the Jewish Home for the Aged. Also, Walt Disney was made Man of the Year by the Beverly Hills Lodge of B’nai B’rith—the oldest continually-operating Jewish service organization, which fights anti-Semitism all over the world—in 1955, and was also awarded a recognition from Hadassah, a Jewish women’s organization that empowers youth in Israel and America.  These awards can be seen in the Lobby of The Walt Disney Museum (or by clicking on the thumbnails above. Right: B’nai B’rith Heart of America Chapter, Kansas City, Missouri; Distinguished Service Citation, 1958. Left: Hadassah Recognition of Achievement, 1958.)

Floyd Norman, 1956. © Disney

Our good friend and Disney animator Floyd Norman also has been quoted saying: “The funny part was that minorities weren’t knocking at the gates to get in. The jobs were there if they wanted them and if they were qualified. It’s like the old ruse that Walt didn’t hire Jews, which was also ridiculous. There were plenty of Jews at Disney. Personally, I never felt any prejudice from Walt.” In fact, we encourage you to read the blog piece he recently published addressing the same factual misconceptions that we discuss here.


DECEMBER 15, 1966: 


Lastly, let’s not forget to bust the most circulated (and possibly the most bizarre) myth of all. The Walt Disney Family Museum houses an entire gallery dedicated to the heartbreakingly sudden passing of Walt Disney—from acute circulatory lung collapse—on December 15, 1966. Two days later, Walt was cremated and interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, CA.  In fact, the only time the phrase “Disney’s Frozen” is accurate is when it is in reference to the Walt Disney Animation Studios’ new animated feature.

Of course there are still skeptics who think we are writing this through rose-colored glasses and that our views might be bias as The Walt Disney Family Museum was founded by Walt’s daughter Diane Disney Miller. Despite this, the evidence is all there: through the facts as recorded through different accounts written down in history books; the first-person interviews from those who knew and worked with Walt; the physical and documented awards; and in the films he created. It’s all there! And by there, we mean here, at The Walt Disney Family Museum. We happily invite all those who are still skeptical to visit the museum to learn about Walt, the man behind the brand, firsthand. There is no need for apologies or retractions—it’s just important to seek the facts before further spreading inaccuracies and fueling rumors.
Walt Disney was not a saint. Walt was a human being who made mistakes and had many ups and downs throughout his life. His daughter, Diane, emphasized this many times, stating “what made HIM human is what makes YOU human.” Walt suffered his fair share of failures, but he also had a strong spirit of creativity, innovation, and an optimistic outlook to keep moving forward.   To those of you who have defended Walt—whether it is because you feel affection towards the man behind the brand, you are a fan of the entertainment company he founded or of his daughter’s museum dedicated to his life story, or if you are just in pursuit of historical fact and truth—thank you. We appreciate that you, too, are working hard to make sure that Walt’s life, work, and legacy live on and continue to inspire for generations to come.

It’s true that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, but if you are still skeptical after looking over these facts presented above, we invite you to visit The Walt Disney Family Museum, or even send us your questions and concerns at We would love to hear from you.The Walt Disney Family Museum® Disney Enterprises, Inc. | © 2014 The Walt Disney Family Museum, LLC | The Walt Disney Family Museum is not affiliated with Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Written by Storyboard,        On January 9th 2014 |

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Infographic: Inside Disneyland’s Matterhorn

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Matterhorn ride, the folks at Disney created this infographic which gave us a rare inside look at the Matterhorn at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA.

Correction: My friend, Charles Apple, at the Orange County Register sent me an update to this blog post.  Charles noted: “The folks at Disney”? No, I’m afraid that’s my colleague Scott Brown at the Orange County Register.

Thanks Charles for the correction on who created the graphic. You Editors catch everything!

Best regards,



Diane Disney Miller (1933 – 2013)

Diane Disney Miller

Today, with deep sadness, The Walt Disney Family Museum shared that Diane Disney Miller has passed away. Diane died of complications from a fall.

Diane was the eldest daughter of Walt and Lillian Disney, wife to Ron Miller, mother of seven children, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend, and an inspiration to all. She was an extraordinary philanthropist and enthusiastic supporter of the arts. Diane carried on her father’s legacy with dignity, grace, and devotion.

While the family appreciates your thoughts and prayers, they kindly request that their privacy is respected at this time.

In lieu of flowers and gifts, donations may be made to the memorial fund that The Walt Disney Family Museum has created in honor of Diane Disney Miller. Donations will support the museum’s ongoing education efforts, exhibitions, and programs.

Donations and cards can also be sent to the family through The Walt Disney Family Museum, attn: Director’s Office; 104 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA 94129

Services will be private and the museum has not yet planned a public commemoration of Diane, but a possible program or event may be scheduled in the future.

Disney D23 Expo Highlights – Part 4

Disney Legends Awards Ceremony


The D23 Arena also hosted the 2013 Disney Legends Awards on Saturday.

The ceremony kicked off with a presentation honoring Disney Legends that passed away over the last year including Annette Funicello, Robert Sherman, Ginny Tyler and others.

America’s Funniest Home Videos host Tom Bergeron and Disney CEO Bob Iger hosted the awards ceremony which began by honoring Imagineer Tony Baxter. Bob Iger introduced Baxter by mentioning he was the creator of EPCOT Center’s Dreamfinder and Figment characters, noting that Disney “learned the hard way” just how loved the characters are by fans.

Baxter accepted his award by asking “When are we getting Dreamfinder back?” which got big applause from the audience.

Baxter’s acceptance speech centered on a discussion about his keys to success, recapping his early fascination with Disneyland, to his pursuit of a career with the company and how he achieved the things he did over his very rich history with Disney.

Awards also went out to those who have passed away including actor Ed Wynn, Imagineer Colin Campbell, and television icon Dick Clark.

Awards also went out to “Monsters University” stars John Goodman and Billy Crystal.

Retired Disney animator Glen Keane was also honored at the event.

As well as the late Steve Jobs, who was largely responsible for Pixar Animation Studios being alive today. Pixar head John Lasseter, a close friend of Steve Jobs, accepted the award on his behalf with a very emotional speech.

Richard M. Sherman and Alan Menken: The Disney Songbook

The D23 Arena ended Saturday with a spectacular concert with Disney Legends Alan Menken and Richard M. Sherman who are responsible for countless songs in Disney animation and theme parks.

Host Tim O’ Day welcomed Richard Sherman and Alan Menken to the stage

Richard Sherman took to the piano first, sharing stories behind his classic Disney songs and performing a variety of hits from “Winnie the Pooh” to “Mary Poppins” to Disneyland’s “Enchanted Tiki Room” and beyond.

Alan Menken performed songs spanning his incredible career with Disney, from “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin” to “Newsies” and “Tangled.”

The concert ended with an amazing duet of “It’s a Small World.”

Undiscovered Disneyland

On Friday, Disney Imagineer (and new Legend) Tony Baxter joined Imagineer Josh Shipley with an amazing presentation of rare color footage of Disneyland from its early years. Unfortunately, I missed this presentation but our friends at Disneyland Live have video that every Disneyland fan should see of Tony Baxter and Josh Shipley showing rare video of Disneyland’s Mine Train Thru Nature’s Wonderland.

The presentation also included an announcement from Disney Parks head Tom Staggs that Disney will honor Tony Baxter with a window on Disneyland’s Main Street. Baxter later spoke with the LA Times’ Hero Complex blog about his career working at Imagineering.

The Art and Artistry of Aulani

Friday afternoon, Imagineers Joe Rohde and Jeanette Lomboy led a discussion on The Art and Artistry of Aulani, Disney’s new resort in Hawaii.

Rohde and Lomboy discussed in-depth the design choices made for the new resort, which all go back to celebrating the people and culture of Hawaii. The Imagineering team went to great lengths to get the Hawaiian people involved with the development of the hotel, ranging from calling on local Hawaiians to create art for the property, to having local musicians create the background music for the resort, to having native Hawaiian spiritual guides help with the planning of the resort.

The end result is a resort that has earned the respect of the Hawaiian people and is the only hotel on the island of Oa’hu that celebrates the living culture of the Hawaiian people.

Broadcasts from Buena Vista Street

On Saturday, voice actors that make up the cast of the radio programs you can overhear on Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure joined together and performed one of the programs you can listen to in its entirety live for the audience. It was a remarkably entertaining experience and afterward the cast talked about their careers and experiences working on Disney projects.

Sounds Delightful! An Illustrated Audio Adventure

On Sunday, Disney artist and historian Stacia Martin led a fantastic discussion on early Disney records, which included audio samples from rare recordings including early songs recorded about Mickey Mouse, to records from Mickey Mouse Club star Annette Funicello.

Stacia talked about her life-long love of Disney music and record collecting

Stacia also treated the audience to demo recordings made for Walt Disney of songs from the never-completed “Rainbow Road to Oz” film. Stacia played demos of the songs that were made for the film and walked the audience through the movie’s story, explaining where the songs would have fit in. The songs had never been heard by the general public until this presentation.

Walt Disney Imagineering 60th: Craft of Creativity

Walt Disney Imagineering celebrated its 60th Anniversary with a series of panel discussions on Sunday, including “The Craft of Creativity” with Disney Imagineers

The Imagineers talked about their history with the company (Kathy Mangum started out as a store clerk at the Adventureland Bazaar) and sharing their thoughts on what makes a good Imagineer (Joe Rohde: “To be an Imagineer, “you have to be the kind of person who wants to share.”)

Walt Disney Imagineering 60th: Leading a Legacy

Sunday also included a discussion between Imagineers Marty Sklar (former head of Walt Disney Imagineering) and Bruce Vaughn (current head of Imagineering) on leading Walt Disney Imagineering.

Collectors Forum

Back on the Show Floor, the Collectors Forum hosted various fan sites, fine artists, and collectibles booths that fans could browse, meet Disney celebrities, or find treasures in.

The MiceChat booth was once again host to an amazing lineup of Disney celebrities including frequent visits from Disney Legend Bob Gurr.

Bob Gurr talking to Doug Barnes from the Season Pass Podcast and the MiceChat Podcast

Susan Egan

MiceChat’s Keith Gluck interviewing Bob Gurr at the Walt Disney Family Museum booth

…and Bob Gurr surprising Pat Carroll, the voice of Ursula, at the Gifts by Small Fry booth.

Thoughts on D23 Expo 2013

The 2013 D23 Expo has come and gone and proved to be a big success for Disney, with Friday and Saturday both selling out. The success of this year’s event prompted CEO Bob Iger to announce Saturday that the next Expo will take place in 2015.

Despite its success, not everyone in attendance was wowed by what Disney had to offer at this year’s event, with the main issue being the lack of big announcements and breaking news. It’s true that each Expo continues to grow in size and success for Disney, but how long can that success be sustained if Disney continues to pull back on its major announcements? The first Expo in 2009 set a precedent for the D23 Expo to be a major platform for Disney to showcase its future with unexpected announcements and in-depth previews of what was new and what was next. This year, however, Disney seemingly threw all of that out. Instead, major movie studio presentations mostly just expanded on projects that everybody was aware of, keeping the lid on things that would keep fans and the media talking for weeks. No new theme park announcements, no major movie announcements and hardly a peep on the recently acquired Lucasfilm or upcoming Star Wars sequel.

It would be one thing if Disney had never used the D23 Expo as a platform for major announcements, but the first two Expos were just that – the place for Disney to proudly show off its new toys and get people excited with big announcements on major new productions. Despite Disney announcing before the Expo that no new announcements would be made, the lack of information still stung fans and burned the blogosphere. Entertainment magazines and film blogs aren’t being shy about openly discussing the disappointment of Saturday’s live action presentation; Variety opens an article on the subject with “The disappointment was palpable at D23 Expo as Walt Disney Studios promoted 11 movies that it will release through the end of 2015.” Obviously, the biggest letdown from the studio was the lack of Star Wars announcements but that disappointment bleeds through to just about every other major division of Disney, including Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

Are fans asking for too much? If Disney wants to host its own version of Comic Con then it needs to deliver something. You can’t buy up Lucasfilm, Marvel and Pixar and run the world’s premier vacation destinations without fans expecting you to make new announcements at your huge, biennial conventions. Aside from cosplaying and surprise celebrity appearances, major announcements are what conventions like this are known for. Instead, the 2013 D23 Expo just spent three days sharing information that had mostly been released already and celebrating the company’s history, rather than previewing the future. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with celebrating the company’s history, and D23 (a product of the Walt Disney Archives) does quite well at producing events that do just that. Still, those events are much smaller than the Expo and cater to a niche market. There’s certainly a place for Disney history at the Expo, but can the Expo really support company history as its primary draw? It’s a question that Disney is now going to have to weigh when they start planning the next Expo. It isn’t just the vocal Disney fan community voicing disappointment anymore – with Disney now owning Lucasfilm and Marvel, there’s more at stake than ever. Hopefully Disney will plan accordingly for the 2015 D23 Expo and bring their best game like they did in 2009 with major new announcements.

Despite the lack of breaking news or exciting new announcements, the D23 Expo improved greatly in other areas from the last convention in 2011. The most impressive improvements were increased capacity and better handling of crowds. Disney obviously listened to complaints and concerns from 2011 where attendees waited for hours to get into popular panel discussions only to be told there was no space left. Both Stage 23 and Stage 28 were significantly expanded with bigger seating and viewing areas and I had no issues getting into any of the presentations that I attended. Similarly, the D23 Arena included an overflow viewing area with screens for those who were unable to make it into the huge arena.

The new D23 Expo StagePass service was also a success, allowing attendees to secure seats for popular presentations in Stage 23 and Stage 28. I heard some frustrations from Expo attendees about waiting in long lines for StagePass, but I think it would be foolish to expect a first-year service like this to not have some kinks to work out. Hopefully StagePass returns in 2015 with improvements to the system, but its debut year seems to have been successful. I heard numerous attendees talking about how it allowed them to see more than they otherwise would have been able to, which is great.

Also worth noting is the continued growth of the D23 Expo’s show floor offerings. The trend here points toward bigger pavilions with more varied offerings and that’s great to see. The show floor in 2009 had a lot of potential for growth and it’s great to see Disney taking note of this and growing the show floor. There was always something happening – whether it be live performances, celebrity appearances, signings, demonstrations or giveaways. It’ll be interesting to see how the show floor continues to grow in the coming years.

So what the D23 Expo lacked in content this year, it made up for in production value, crowd management and event planning. From what I could tell, this was the easiest Expo to date for attendees thanks to smart scheduling, great planning and efficient crowd control. Congrats to the D23 Expo team for a successful event. Here’s to 2015!

Disney D23 Expo Highlights – Part 3

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives


Speaking of priceless originals, upstairs at the Anaheim Convention Center, the Walt Disney Archives put together another display of props, costumes and artifacts from Disney’s rich history.

Unfortunately, the exhibit wasn’t as large or as strong as the display put together for the 2011 D23 Expo. What was great was planned overflow queue and smart handling of crowds lining up for the exhibit. Inexplicably, however, crowds coming to see the impressive displays of Disney history were greeted with a series of designer gowns based on Disney princesses.

The princess gowns were then followed up by costumes from the Disney Channel’s new “Teen Beach Movie”

“Teen Beach Movie” might be getting a good reception from Disney Channel fans, isn’t a bit early to call these costumes “treasures”?

The next room featured a collection of props and costumes from the hit ABC series “Once Upon a Time”

The exhibit picked up steam with its extensive display on Disney’s varied Oz efforts over the years. A great collection of art and artifacts from the canceled “Rainbow Road to Oz” production that Walt Disney worked on was on display.

A model of Rock Candy Mountain, a proposed expansion for Disneyland’s Storybook Land was on display which was very cool to see.

Props and costumes from Disney’s 1985 film, “Return to Oz”…

…as well as props and costumes from this year’s “Oz The Great and Powerful”

The big success of the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives exhibit was the huge “Mary Poppins” display. With the film approaching its 50th anniversary and the upcoming release of “Saving Mr. Banks,” the exhibit was a fitting tribute to the legacy of Walt Disney’s classic film.

The recently re-acquired carpet bag from the film was on display.

Lots of vintage memorabilia and collectibles

Iconic costumes from the film

As well as costumes from the upcoming “Saving Mr. Banks” film.

Art and Imagination: Animation at the Walt Disney Studios

On Friday, the D23 Arena hosted its big presentation on Disney Animation, giving the audience a look inside what the teams at Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios and DisneyToon Studios are working on. The audience was introduced to new characters and some of the voice actors made special appearances including Judy Greer, Bill Hader and Lucas Neff from “The Good Dinosaur” (2014) as well as Bill Hader (again) and Phyllis Smith from Pixar’s 2015 release, “Inside Out.” Pixar also teased the upcoming “Finding Dory” movie.

Walt Disney Animation Studios gave an in-depth look at “Frozen,” which will hit theaters this winter. Actor Josh Gad, the voice of Olaf the snowman, made an appearance and talked about his character and working with Disney.

Broadway star Idina Menzel made a surprise appearance with her performance of “Let It Go,” a song from “Frozen.”

Disney also treated guests to a screening of the new animated Mickey Mouse cartoon, “Get A Horse!” The new short will debut for the general public in front of “Frozen” this winter. The new short is unique in many ways, but perhaps most notably because it features Walt Disney’s voice as Mickey Mouse using audio pulled and stitched together from Walt Disney’s previous performances of Mickey. The effect is seamless and it’s really special to hear Walt Disney as Mickey Mouse again in a new cartoon.

Also teased were Disney’s upcoming film “Zootopia” (2016) which takes us into a world of anthropomorphic animals without humans as well as the Marvel-inspired animated film “Big Hero 6″

Let the Adventures Begin: Live Action at the Walt Disney Studios

One of the biggest events at the Expo was the big Disney live action presentation in the D23 Arena. Fans had high expectations for the show, many with the hopes that Disney would make a big announcement for the upcoming Star Wars sequel. Despite fan hopes, Disney stayed true to their promise that no Star Wars news would come out of the Expo but fans were treated to presentations from Disney’s live action studio as well as Marvel Entertainment which featured sneak peeks, celebrity appearances and more.

Marvel brought out stars from Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy

Disney also showcased its own slate of upcoming films including “Muppets Most Wanted” starring Ty Burrell, Ricky Gervais, and Tina Fey

“Maleficent” (2014) starring Angelina Jolie

As well as the upcoming “Saving Mr. Banks”

…and the upcoming “Tomorrowland” movie.

Tomorrow: Part 4

Disney D23 Expo Highlights – Part 2

Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Pavillon Journey Into Imagineering


The big draw on the show floor was, of course, the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Pavilion. By entering through a facade evoking the Imagineering headquarters in Glendale, California; guests of the pavilion, put together by Walt Disney Imagineering, took a “Journey Into Imagineering.”

Guests entered the doors to 1401 Flower Street into the preshow room for the pavilion.

A large wall display of the Imagineering “lobby” transformed into a giant video screen for the pre show…

Upon entering into the main showroom, guests were greeted with a large throwback to the oil lamp that was part of the post-show at Disneyland’s classic Adventure Thru Innerspace.

As the sign above the door stated, “Journey Into Imagineering” was largely an “open house” for Walt Disney Imagineering and the main point of the pavilion this year was the ability for guests to be able to talk with Imagineers and learn more about what each of them do. The first room allowed guests to meet with Imagineers working on new projects at Walt Disney World, from the Disney Springs project (a major overhaul of Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney) to the Avatar project that is still being planned for Disney’s Animal Kingdom as well as a hint at new Star Wars attractions for Walt Disney World.

The big Disney Springs scale model let visitors get an idea of what the Downtown Disney transformation will end up looking like.

An Imagineering office cubicle was on display, filled with props, sketches and items related to the upcoming Avatar project in the works for Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

With Disney not quite ready to announce details for the upcoming Avatar Land expansion, Imagineers working this booth managed keep straight faces when talking about taking a research trip to the fictional planet of Pandora to learn as much as they could about the Na’vi and the planet so they could properly recreate Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

A Na’vi-sized backpack.

Plenty to look at here but not really much to see.

Nearby, a stack of crates with various Star Wars references hinted at an upcoming Star Wars-themed project for Walt Disney World. Much like at the Avatar display, Imagineers here were tight-lipped and stuck to their script which said these crates were delivered to Imagineering but wouldn’t be able to find out what’s inside until they them get back to Glendale.

Also represented in the pavilion was the new MyMagic+ program coming to Walt Disney World. The RFID-based technology is expected to transform the guest experience at Walt Disney World and Disney says it will make vacations easier for guests. The display showcased a lot of MyMagic+ wristbands and hardware in a very clean, contemporary space.

Aside from these three previews at what’s new and what’s next, the rest of the pavilion largely focused on the history and legacy of Walt Disney Imagineering. Historical displays of attraction art and models and displays showing various departments of Imagineering allowed guests to learn more about the folks creating Disney’s theme parks and delve into the history of Disney theme parks. Below, a portion of the scale model for Walt Disney World’s never-built Western River Expedition:

This would have been an incredible ride.

A concept model for EPCOT’s Space Pavilion.

A gorgeous model of the never-built International Street for Disneyland was on display. Shame this didn’t get built – it looks like it would have been wonderful.

My personal highlight of the Parks and Resorts pavilion was the Imagineering Art Library walk-through experience. The walk-through showcased several pieces of iconic Disneyland artwork, including the original pencil drawing of Disneyland by Herb Ryman that Walt Disney took to the bankers to get funding for Disneyland. Also on display was the original black light painting of Disneyland by Peter Ellenshaw that Walt Disney showed off on television when announcing Disneyland to the public. I got chills when the black lights were turned on and Peter Ellenshaw’s nighttime vision of the park came alive. It was a truly incredible experience to see this art in person and a big thanks goes out to the folks in the Walt Disney Imagineering Art Library for putting this together. Unfortunately (but understandably), no video or photography was allowed.

The stunning original model for the Tony Baxter-designed Land Pavilion for EPCOT Center was on display as well. It was an absolute treat to see in person.

The original concept for the Land’s main attraction was a hot air balloon-themed ride through incredible show scenes, which you could see represented in the model.

Also on display was an early model for EPCOT Center’s Spaceship Earth. Really amazing stuff.

Much of the pavilion was divided into pseudo-workspaces for Imagineers where you could see what various Imagineering departments do and how they work.

Show Production featured a lot of paint, with Imagineers painting elevation renderings in person as well as live-painting a portion of a character wall over the course of the Expo.

The Illusioneering Lab paid tribute to master Disney special effects artist Yale Gracey.

Architecture and Engineering focused on Imagineering’s recent hit attraction, Mystic Manor in Hong Kong Disneyland

Research and Development let guests preview new interactive Animatronics including Fortuno and the returning Destini

El Fortuno, the latest interactive Audio-Animatronic from Imagineering.

Destini, interactive Audio-Animatronic.

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises and most popular features of the pavilion was the Hat Box Ghost on display in the Show Animation department.

Imagineers wouldn’t say if the Hat Box Ghost would return to the Haunted Mansion anytime soon, but were quick to note that the figure was built specifically for the D23 Expo using a model of Audio Animatronic that Disneyland fans might normally know as the Auctioneer in Pirates of the Caribbean or President Lincoln in “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.”

The Imagineering pavilion also gave guests the opportunity to meet Marvel’s Captain America, who will be appearing in a new meet-and-greet and interactive kids show called “Avengers Academy” aboard the Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Magic ship.

The Dimensional Design booth let guests see some original macquettes and sculpture work from Imagineering.

Imagineers sculpted live while talking to guests.

The original marble Snow White Grotto statues that were sculpted in Italy under the supervision of Leonida Parma and given to Walt Disney in 1958 were on display. The originals were removed from Disneyland in 1982 and replaced with replicas.

Tomorrow – Part 3

Infographic: The History of Mickey Mouse

All of my life I have been a big Disney fan. Walt Disney was one of my childhood heroes (still is). I even had the good fortune to work for The Walt Disney Company as a Senior BI Developer for a while.

One cannot state the impact Walt had on animation and storytelling. Mickey Mouse is central to all that is Disney.

I thought I would share this infographic about The History of Mickey Mouse with you. It makes me want to break out a glass of cold milk and some Oreo cookies and watch some old Disney cartoons.



The History of Mickey Mouse Infographic

[Click Image to Enlarge]

The 1958a Disneyland Map

1958a Disneyland Map

The Walt Disney Company has traditionally used large format maps and models during the development phase of each of its theme parks. In fact, Walt Disney had the map shown above drawn in order to gain financing for the project. It only makes sense that at some point Disneyland would release large maps, not only for guests to navigate the park, but to be taken home and hung on many a child’s bedroom wall. [SOURCE]

A pristine original copy of this map recently sold on eBay for over $1,500!

Sam McKimThe original map sold in the park measures 36 inches by 24 inches and was drawn by one of the original Imagineers of the Park, Sam McKim. The map was released in 1958, three years after the park opened, and was followed quickly by two more maps, 1958b and 1958c, also copyrighted 1958.

How to identify the 1958a map (see detail areas below)

  1. There are three maps that have a copyright of 1958. The first thing to look for is the copyright date of “1958” found in the lower right-hand corner inside of the orange border.
  2. The second differentiating feature is the border, which on this map is orange. Note that both of these attributes are shared with the other two maps with the 1958 copyright date.
  3. The real tell-tale sign for this map is the existence of the Viewliner in Tomorrowland, with tracks running over and around what would eventually become the submarine lagoon. This is the only map in the series with the Viewliner, and uniquely identifies this map.
  4. The Junior Autopia which is found to the right of the Viewliner in Tomorrowland is also unique to this map.
  5. The last difference between this map and the next two is in the color of the Jungle Cruise river. In this map the river is green, whereas in the next two the river is blue.

1958a Disneyland Map Details

Points of interest

  1. Walt Disney had infinite confidence in his new park and unapologetically included future attractions and “lands” as if they were just around the corner. Examples of attractions that made it are: the Submarine Voyage, New Orleans Square, and the Haunted Mansion. Note that on this map New Orleans Square was in fact a square instead of the eventual streets and alleys, and that the Haunted Mansion is located across from where it would eventually appear. Attractions that did not make it, at least at Disneyland, were: Edison Square, Liberty Street, Adventures in Science, the Wax Museum, and the Thieves Market, although components of Edison Square and Liberty Street found their way into Library Square at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.
  2. Holidayland was a real bust. Not every idea that Walt Disney had was a winner. Walt was convinced that a circus attraction would be well received. Fortunately his imagineers couldn’t find room for it within the park itself and it was placed outside the berm surrounding Disneyland park. Ultimately, no one wanted to visit a tacky circus outside the park when the attractions inside were so compelling. Holidayland had a brief life, disappearing completely and without a trace. This area today is occupied by the show buildings for the Haunted Mansion and Splash Mountain, as well as other backstage facilities.
  3. The Disneyland Hotel, although located directly across from Disneyland itself, was not owned by The Walt Disney Company. The Wrather Company was contracted to provide the hotel and it wasn’t until 1988 that Disney purchased the hotel and began the expansion that currently has three Disney owned hotels on the property. Notice that prior to the construction of the monorail from the park to the hotel, guests were transported to the park in trams. You really show your age when you remember riding the trams which had you facing outward without anything to prevent you from falling out.
  4. Short-lived attractions. In addition to the Viewliner which made way for the Monorail, this map shows the Junior Autopia, all attractions that disappeared by the next release of the map. Slightly longer lived was the Midget Autopia, next to the Storybook Land Canal Boats. The Midget Autopia disappeared on the 1966 map to make room for It’s a Small World.
  5. The Parking Lot as an Attraction. Although the park had only 22 attractions available on opening day in 1955, it is amusing to see that a 100 acre parking lot is worth mentioning on the bottom of the map. Did Walt pave over the Hundred Acre Wood?

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