Earlier this year, I told you about the 30th anniversary of the music education concerts that the Disneyland Band performs annually for Orange County second-graders.
Throughout that time, Disneyland Resort cast member Art Dragon has been a member of the Disneyland Band, serving as conductor the past two decades. In this “Every Role a Starring Role,” Art talks about his role conducting 15 talented musicians who perform more than 1,000 concerts at the Disneyland Resort every year!
This summer, 80 teams of Disneyland Resort cast members raced around the Rivers of America during one of the oldest and most beloved cast traditions: the Disneyland Resort Canoe Races.
Now in their 50th year, the canoe races began in 1963 when Ray Van De Warker, foreman of the Indian War Canoes attraction, observed a guest canoe filled with athletes charging around the Rivers of America. Ray and Jungle Cruise foreman Bob Penfield debated how fast their teams could get around the river and a challenge was set forth between the Frontierland cast and Adventureland cast. That summer ignited a cast tradition that has spread to the Walt Disney World Resort, Toyko Disney Resort, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.
“I had no idea the races would ever be this successful … they’re world famous now,” said Penfield, who is retired after more than for 42 years with the Disneyland Resort. “The camaraderie and teamwork that forms from participating in races is outstanding and leads to a lot of great memories and friendships.”
Cast members, Imagineers and employees from all over The Walt Disney Company participate in three divisions: Men, Women and Coed. This year’s champions crossed the finish line this morning before Disneyland park opened. Congratulations team OAR Lords (3:57), team DC Anchor Ladies (4:26) and team United (4:12) for winning the 50th annual Disneyland Resort Canoe Races!
Then: Cast member Karen Marshall waves to guests in 1987.
Now: Karen Marshall, guest experience services, chats with Kevin Concepcion, Pirates Lair Rafts lead. Karen, who has worked at the Disneyland Resort since 1972, said, “I have many great memories from when I started working at Disneyland park so many years ago. Back then, I never could have imagined all of the changes that have taken place. It has been so much fun watching the Disneyland Resort grow and offer more amazing experiences for our guests to enjoy.”
Then: A Jungle Cruise skipper unloads a boat in 1965.
Now: Jungle Cruise Skipper Randy Grant carries out the same duty. “I’m enough of a dreamer that I understand the concept Walt had for the park,” Randy said. “I think he would be pleased that the Disneyland Resort is still growing. It proves his idea and his dream correct, that this is a place where people can be a kid no matter what age they are.”
The Disneyland Resort marks 58 years of history, change and growth on its anniversary next week, July 17. Through the years, one aspect of the Disneyland Resort that remains unchanged is the importance of our cast members to preserving Walt Disney’s vision.
To celebrate the anniversary on the Disney Parks Blog, this is the first of a three-part series blending historical images of our cast with photos of those who carry on Walt’s legacy today.
The iconic C-A-L-I-F-O-R-N-I-A letters that previously stood at the entrance of Disney California Adventure park for a decade will welcome tens of thousands of guests to the California State Fair tomorrow on its opening day! The letters were dedicated in a ceremony today at the site of their new home, the California State Fair’s Main Gate.
You may remember that the Disneyland Resort donated the letters in May 2012 to Friends of the California State Fair, a nonprofit organization that benefits California Exposition & State Fair (Cal Expo) in Sacramento. Cal Expo is the site of the California State Fair and hundreds of other events annually.
Disney California Adventure park Vice President Mary Niven was on hand at Cal Expo to help dedicate the letters, which stand 11 feet, 8 inches tall and weigh between 5,000 to 13,000 pounds each. Mary said, “The C-A-L-I-F-O-R-N-I-A letters were popular with millions of Disneyland Resort guests and Cal Expo is a perfect destination to continue their legacy.”
Joining us on July 4th is the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band from Miramar, Calif., who will help retire the colors at Disneyland park during the flag retreat ceremony in Town Square at 5:30 p.m. They also will perform a full concert at 7:15 p.m. at Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree.
On July 4th at Disney California Adventure park, the Concert Band of the Air National Guard Bands of the Southwest will perform at 4 p.m. on the Palisades Stage (“World of Color” viewing area stage). This performance will mark the first military concert held at Disney California Adventure park on Independence Day.
Several acts from the Air National Guard Bands of the Southwest also will perform throughout next week, as follows. Below is a complete schedule of the military acts and where and when they will be performing.
Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room debuted as an engineering marvel featuring a musical journey to the South Seas. Today, the attraction continues to enchant guests and instill pride in the cast members who work there, like Enchanted Tiki Room Hostess Em Hantke. In this “Every Role a Starring Role,” Em talks about her duties and passion for a place where birds still sing and flowers still croon – 50 years later!
Check out these posts for more “Every Role a Starring Role”: