New York World's Fair 50th Anniversary

Remembering Mickey Rooney at the Disneyland Resort

posted on April 7th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


Iconic Hollywood star Mickey Rooney passed away yesterday at the age of 93.

In an astonishing show business career that spans 10 decades, Mickey’s work with Disney includes his roles as Lampie in “Pete’s Dragon,” the voice of grown-up Tod in “The Fox and the Hound,” and most recently, his cameo appearance in “The Muppets.”
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This photo of Mickey was taken during the red carpet arrivals for the grand opening of Disney California Adventure park on February 7, 2001. I had the pleasure of meeting Mickey that night, and I knew then that I was in the presence of a legend. The optimistic personality that defined his early film career and propelled him to superstardom in the 1930s and 1940s was still very much a part of who he was.

In thinking about Mickey’s film work, I was reminded of a small role he had in the Disney Channel Original Movie, “Phantom of the Megaplex.” Mickey’s character, Movie Mason, delivers a monologue about the power of the silver screen in which he says, in part, “When we arrive in this world, magic is all around us … yet as years pass, simple pleasures aren’t quite so simple to find … true wonder is hard to come by, but, there’s always magic at the movies.”

No one made more of that magic than you, Mickey.

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Rare Photos: Walt Disney and the Debut of ‘it’s a small world’

posted on April 4th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


We have some really great, rare color photos of Walt Disney as he revealed some of his plans for “it’s a small world” at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair.

Rare Photos: Walt Disney and the Debut of 'it's a small world

The first image was taken while Walt filmed the “Wonderful World of Color” episode, entitled, “Disneyland Goes to the World’s Fair.” Here he is sharing the model of the attraction as it appeared in New York. I really like looking at all the activity going on behind Walt in this image. I certainly recognize some familiar ‘small world’ faces in the background.

Rare Photos: Walt Disney and the Debut of 'it's a small world

This next photo was taken outside a soundstage at The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, presumably during production of another television segment for “it’s a small world.”

Rare Photos: Walt Disney and the Debut of 'it's a small world

This last photo is a personal favorite of mine. It shows Walt with Disney Legends Marc Davis and Mary Blair. Walt is admiring a figure from the attraction that seems to bear a remarkable resemblance to Mary! Have you noticed this one inside the attraction at Disneyland park? My colleague, Erin Glover has included her exact whereabouts in a great post from earlier this week.

Remember to visit SmallWorld50.com to join in the fun of our celebration!

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PHOTOS: ‘it’s a small world’ at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair

posted on March 28th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


The 1964-65 New York World’s Fair theme was “Peace Through Understanding,” and no exhibition better embodied this idea than “it’s a small world.”

The look and feel of the whimsical entrances to this now-landmark attraction at Disney Parks around the world are well-known, but the look of the exterior of the New York World’s Fair pavilion was quite different from the familiar facades we know today.

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In these rare photos you can see just how different it was from what we see in the parks; yet it is, decidedly, a “Disney look.” To me, it looks like Tomorrowland at Disneyland park, circa 1967.

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Some familiar Disney faces were apparently on hand to greet visitors about to board the “the happiest cruise that ever sailed.”

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A Look Back at Celebrated Disneyland Resort Guests: Nat King Cole – 1963

posted on March 17th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


The great singer Nat King Cole was born on this day in 1919, and today we look back at a visit he made to Disneyland park more than 50 years ago.

Nat King Cole and His Son, Nat Kelly Cole, in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park in 1963.

Pictured with his son, Nat Kelly Cole, the legendary voice behind such timeless hits as “Mona Lisa,” “Stardust,” and “Unforgettable” was photographed in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle in June of 1963.

Do you have a favorite Nat King Cole song? My personal favorite also has the distinction of being featured in a Disney film. Can you guess which one?

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A Look Back at Celebrated Disneyland Resort Guests: Jerry Lewis – 1955

posted on March 14th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


Legendary entertainer and humanitarian Jerry Lewis celebrates his birthday this weekend, so today we’re looking back at a visit Jerry made to Disneyland park in August 1955, just a few weeks after we first opened our gates.

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This first photo is a triple treat for Disney fans. Television star Milton Berle, aka “Uncle Miltie,” joined Jerry outside the Main Entrance, along with future Disney Legend, Tom Nabbe, who was holding a custom edition of The Disneyland News with a headline that read, “Welcome Miltie & Jerry To Disneyland.”

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Then it was over to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, where Jerry was joined by his son (and future musician), Gary Lewis. When I see this photo, I think can actually hear that iconic voice going through Toad Hall!

Happy Birthday, Mr. Lewis!

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1957 Photo: Walt Disney and a Haberdashed Horse at Disneyland Park

posted on March 11th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


Soon my colleague, Donna Fisk, will introduce a new series here on the Disney Parks Blog where you’ll meet the current stable of beautiful horses at the Disneyland Resort. But, because I know you’re champing at the bit for a horse story …
Walt Disney and a Haberdashed Horse at Disneyland Park in 1957

I’m sharing this photo I recently came across from April 1957 of Walt Disney greeting one his four-legged cast members in the Central Hub at Disneyland park – a reminder that horses have been a part of the magic from the very beginning.

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1964 Photos: Walt Disney and the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland Park

posted on March 5th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


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This year marks the 50th anniversary of a previously undiscovered region at Disneyland park (now navigable on the Jungle Cruise) known as the African Veldt.

So intrigued by this discovery, Walt Disney himself decided to pay a visit to the region to checkout the wildlife.

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Among the things Walt saw that day was a lion pride “protecting a sleeping zebra.” Now, putting your hands near a hungry lion is no laughing matter…

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Or is it?

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David Wise Celebrates Gold at the Disneyland Resort

posted on February 27th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


“David Wise, you’ve just won the first-ever gold medal in ski halfpipe, what are you going to do next?” Well, you know the rest, right?

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On Tuesday, we caught up with the Wise family on Matterhorn Way, where Mickey Mouse stopped by to say hello.

Just one week earlier, David made headlines around the world when he took home the first gold medal for halfpipe skiing. David’s wife, Lexi, made the trip to Sochi, but they were only reunited with their two year-old, Nayeli, the day before their Disneyland trip. How much more could there be to celebrate? Well, it also happened to be David and Lexi’s wedding anniversary!

This was Nayeli’s first visit to the Disneyland Resort, and David said he hadn’t been here since he was her age, so it felt like the first time for him too. Their first Disneyland park attraction as a family? Dumbo the Flying Elephant (Nayeli’s favorite). Later, the family wrapped up their daylong celebration with “World of Color” at Disney California Adventure park.

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If I had to sum up the reaction of Disneyland Resort guests as they encountered us taking this picture of David at Sleeping Beauty Castle, I would say, as so many of them did, “Congratulations, David – way to go!”

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A Look Back at Celebrated Disneyland Resort Guests: Johnny Cash – 1961

posted on February 26th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


Music legend Johnny Cash was born on this day in 1932, and today we’re sharing a rarely seen photo of “The Man in Black” during a visit to Disneyland park..

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This picture of Mr. Cash in the wheelhouse of the Mark Twain Riverboat was taken in the summer of 1961.

He really seems to fit the part, don’t you think?

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A Look Back at Celebrated Disneyland Resort Guests: Ansel Adams – 1981

posted on February 20th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


On this date in 1902, photographer and conservationist Ansel Adams was born in California. His photography of the American West, particularly of Yosemite National Park, is among the most iconic imagery of the 20th century.

In 1980, Mr. Adams received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation’s highest civilian honor. His citation reads: “At one with the power of the American landscape, and renowned for the patient skill and timeless beauty of his work, photographer Ansel Adams has been visionary in his efforts to preserve this country’s wild and scenic areas, both in film and on Earth. Drawn to the beauty of nature’s monuments, he is regarded by environmentalists as a monument himself, and by photographers as a national institution. It is through his foresight and fortitude that so much of America has been saved for future Americans.”

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This rarely seen photo from our archives, taken around the time of his 79th birthday in February 1981, shows Mr. Adams being greeted outside City Hall at Disneyland park by Mickey Mouse.

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