When Julie Reihm Casaletto was approached by a fellow cast member to apply for the Disney Ambassador program, she initially said no. She was busy making straight A’s in college, and taking a year off from her studies wasn’t part of the plan. But that cast member didn’t give up and once Julie started the interviewing process, she began to realize that a year of world travel would be an exciting gig. Those interviews obviously went very well, because Julie was chosen as Disney’s first ambassador in 1965 … and the rest is Disney history.
The Disney Parks Blog had a chance to talk one-on-one with Julie, while she was at the Disneyland Resort for the 50th anniversary of the Disney Ambassador program. She talked about her incredible year as ambassador and her special bond with Walt Disney.
Today is the first day of Halloween Time here at the Disneyland Resort. Pumpkins are everywhere and guest favorite, Haunted Mansion Holiday, is opening. Did you know that the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland park was one of Walt Disney’s ideas for the park even before it was built? Here we are, 45 years after its August 9, 1969, opening and it is still haunting guests each day. In celebration of the attraction’s anniversary and the opening of Haunted Mansion Holiday today, we thought this was the perfect time to dig up historical footage of the Haunted Mansion from our archives. You’ll see Walt Disney showing off a model of the Haunted Mansion and interviews with the Imagineers who turned his idea into a reality. You’ll also find out why the mansion is so pristine on the outside, while dilapidated and creepy on the inside. It’s a fun video – a scream, really. Enjoy!
“This here is the wildest ride in the wilderness!” Guests first heard that warning on September 2, 1979, when Big Thunder Mountain Railroad debuted in Frontierland at Disneyland park. Since then, the popular runaway mine train as taken more than 225 million guests on a wild ride through 19th century gold-mining territory. The mountain was inspired by Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, and objects found inside are actual artifacts from abandoned mines in Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota and Wyoming. The opening also marked the third peak in the Disneyland park mountain range. (Matterhorn Bobsleds and Space Mountain were the first two.)
Last March, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad re-opened after an extended refurbishment with new track and an enhanced audio system. Come check it out! For now, take a trip back to 1979 and watch as Mickey Mouse turns the key and boards the runaway mine train with some of his Disney friends.
On July 17, 1989, a new attraction opened to guests in Critter Country at Disneyland park — one that made a big splash. That attraction was Splash Mountain, a log ride that remains a guest favorite today. It stands 87 feet tall and drops guests five stories at a 45-degree angle. The attraction is a journey through scenes, featuring the story of Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox and Brer Bear, and ends with a thrilling splashdown. That’s the best part! No worries if you shut your eyes. A photo snaps a shot of guests reacting the moment they drop. If you don’t have a photo from splashdown with your face frozen in sheer elation, then it’s time to visit the Disneyland Resort. Trust me, it’s an experience you’ll always remember. Here’s a look back at opening day. Enjoy!
It was 55 years ago today that guests were treated to one of the very first E-ticket attractions at Disneyland park – one that would take them through “liquid space” and under the North Pole. That underwater attraction was called Submarine Voyage and the experience included an encounter with a giant squid and even mermaids!
In 2007, the attraction reopened as Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, and eight submarines, painted bright yellow, were recommissioned to take guests on a new underwater adventure. This time, new animation technology brought to life the popular characters from the Disney•Pixar film, “Finding Nemo.” I hope you enjoy a journey back in time to the opening days for this guest favorite.
And stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog over the following week for more looks back on the 55th anniversary of the Disneyland Monorail, Matterhorn Bobsleds and Submarine Voyage!
I can now say I have the #1 highlight of my Disney career: interviewing Disney Legend Richard Sherman. What an amazing day! I met him at the Walt Disney Archives in Burbank, Calif., where he sat at Walt Disney’s piano and played “it’s a small world,” the iconic song he wrote and composed with his late brother, Robert. He’s very proud of the song’s meaning and very serious about its impact on the world. He talks more about it in the video below. As you would imagine, he was a pure delight. He was kind and funny, and after the interview he played more of his classics for the room. I hope this video captures that unforgettable day. Enjoy!
Join in the 50th anniversary celebration of “it’s a small world” at SmallWorld50.com.
Disney Legend Rolly Crump has very fond memories of being one of the Imagineers who helped create “it’s a small world.” In fact, he was there from day one, when Walt Disney came up with the idea. I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane and vintage footage from our archives. Be sure to join in the 50th anniversary celebration of “it’s a small world” by going to smallworld50.com and uploading your own video of the unforgettable song.
As Thomas Smith just announced, we are celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the debut of “it’s a small world” at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. This, of course, means a trip to the archives! We found historical footage from both the 1964 New York World’s Fair and the attraction’s opening day here at the Disneyland Resort, two years later on May 28, 1966. Imagineer Kim Irvine takes us down memory lane, along with co-composer of the attraction’s unforgettable theme song, Richard Sherman. You’ll even hear from Walt Disney himself, as he shows off the plans for “it’s a small world” in a clip from the “Wonderful World of Color” television show. I hope you enjoy this trip back in time, and make sure to join the celebration at SmallWorld50.com!
YEEHAW! Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree in Frontierland is a fun stomping ground during your magical day at Disneyland park. The Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree Character Roundup is in full swing every Friday – Sunday. You can visit with some of your favorite Disney Characters, learn some rope tricks and dance to the sounds of a live piano. This video captures some of the highlights. Giddy-up and come see it for yourself!
The new “World of Color – Winter Dreams” at Disney California Adventure park is a holiday version of the popular “World of Color” nighttime spectacular. It has new special effects and new music, and is making new holiday memories for our guests. It opens with the “World of Color” Honor Choir, a collection of beautiful voices submitted by Disney Parks fans from all 50 states. So, what’s the story behind how this choir was created online? The “World of Color” Honor Choir is directed by Grammy®-winning composer Eric Whitacre. He’s created many virtual choirs and we’re glad he helped create this one with us. A few months ago, participants submitted their voices through a special “World of Color” Honor Choir website, singing “Glow,” a song composed by Whitacre himself. Actually, I’ll let him explain how it all came together. Disney Parks Blog interviewed him online via live link from London. Enjoy!