Halloween at the Walt Disney World Resort

A Look Back at Celebrated Disneyland Resort Guests: Laurence Olivier – 1976

posted on May 22nd, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


Sir Laurence Olivier was born on this day in 1907. Widely regarded as the greatest actor of the 20th century, he was a prolific master of stage and screen who captivated audiences in both classical and modern works during his decades-long career.

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This photo with Mickey Mouse was taken inside Disneyland City Hall as Mr. Olivier signed our Guest book during his only known visit to Disneyland park in August 1976.

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A Look Back at Celebrated Disneyland Resort Guests: Don Rickles – 1974

posted on May 8th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


Today is Don Rickles’ birthday and to celebrate this comedic legend’s special day I’m sharing some rarely seen photos of “Mr. Warmth” enjoying some Disney Parks magic.

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This 1974 picture features Don Rickles and his longtime pal, Bob Newhart, posing with Mickey Mouse in Tomorrowland. I can only imagine what Mickey overheard standing between these two funnymen.

Years later, of course, Mr. Rickles would become known to Disney fans as the voice of Mr. Potato Head in the Disney•PixarToy Story” films.

Don Rickles, Mr Potato Head

This next photo was taken at Walt Disney Imagineering as the creative forces behind Toy Story Midway Mania! unveiled the Mr. Potato Head Audio-Animatronics figure to the man who gave him his distinctive voice. Mr. Rickles said they did a “magnificent job” bringing the character to life and he was especially happy to have his young grandchildren there to see it with him. It was on this day in February 2008 that I first met Mr. Rickles, quickly finding myself on the receiving end of his rapid-fire wit. I was thrilled, to say the least, and I still wear his playful insults as a badge of honor!

Happy Birthday, Don!

Mr. Potato Head is a registered trademark of Hasbro Toys.

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A Look Back: Grand Opening of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure Park

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


“Tonight’s story on ‘The Twilight Zone’ is somewhat unique and calls for a different kind of introduction … ”

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Ten years ago today, Disney California Adventure park guests were invited to fall into the fifth dimension aboard one of the only remaining working elevators in the Hollywood Tower Hotel – a onetime “star in its own right, and a beacon for the show business elite.”

Inspired by the genius of Rod Serling and the creators of the iconic anthology series “The Twilight Zone,” The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror recalls the disappearance of five unlucky souls on a gloomy Halloween night in 1939 Hollywood “amid the glitz and glamour of a bustling young movie town at the height of its golden age.”

The night before the attraction’s official opening, we hosted a red carpet premiere in Hollywood Land to celebrate.

A Look Back: Grand Opening of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure Park A Look Back: Grand Opening of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure Park

Several Hollywood Tower Hotel bellhops were on-hand to escort celebrity guests down the red carpet.

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Actress and filmmaker Nia Vardalos was one of the celebrities who “dropped in” for some fun that night.

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Of course, Mickey and Minnie were also there to help celebrate the opening.

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The opening ceremony was hosted by the Hollywood Tower Hotel bellhop (nicknamed “Buddy”) you may remember from many of the television commercials created for the attraction in 2004. He was joined during the ceremony by Rod Serling’s wife, Carol Serling, who told the audience how thrilled her late husband would be with the attraction. She then invited everyone to “step into a ‘lost episode’ of ‘The Twilight Zone.’”

A Look Back: Grand Opening of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure Park A Look Back: Grand Opening of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure Park

Looking back, “the time is (still) now, on an evening very much like the one we’ve just witnessed. We invite you, if you dare, to step aboard. This elevator travels directly to … ”

The Twilight Zone® is a registered trademark of CBS, Inc. and used with permission pursuant to a license with CBS, Inc.

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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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