Halloween at Walt Disney World Resort

1958 Photo: Walt Disney and the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland Park

posted on October 30th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


Earlier this year I shared some rare pictures of Walt Disney at the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland park. There was such a great response that I set out to find and share even more photography of Walt at one of his favorite original Disneyland park attractions, the world-famous Jungle Cruise.

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This rarely seen photo, digitally scanned from the original color negative, required some restoration, but once it was done, I couldn’t wait to share it.

What do you think of Walt as a Jungle Cruise skipper?

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Vintage Walt Disney World: Pain & Panic Celebrate Halloween

posted on October 30th, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Halloween is tomorrow. Are you in a PANIC trying to get ready for the big day? Does finding a costume cause you great PAIN? Bad news, these two won’t be of any help. Here’s a look at Pain and Panic getting their dance on at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in 1997. Happy Halloween!

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Building the Dream: The Making of Disneyland Park

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


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Today I’m introducing a new photo series on the construction of Walt Disney’s original magic kingdom, Disneyland park. The photos we’ll be sharing over the next several months capture the dawn of a new kind of family entertainment as dedicated, talented artists create a happy place, as Walt described it, “where parents and children can have fun, together.”

A year before the park was to open, Walt made a deal with the ABC television network that included production of a new weekly anthology series where Walt himself could give updates on his special project. On October 27, 1954, he unveiled his plans to a national television audience during the debut episode of this new television show, appropriately titled, “Disneyland.”

“Mickey and I started out, the first time, many, many years ago,” Walt said. “We’ve had a lot of our dreams come true. Now we want you to share with us our latest and greatest dream.”

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“That’s it, right here. ‘Disneyland’ … we hope that it will be unlike anything else on this Earth … a place of hopes and dreams, facts and fancy, all in one.”

“Next year, our television show will be coming from this ‘Disneyland,’ but this year, we want you to see and share with us the experience of building this dream into a reality.”

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In that spirit, here’s a rare photo of the site Walt selected. As you can see, orange groves were still very much a part of Anaheim in 1954. The original site was made up of parcels owned by 17 different people.

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In just a few short months, excavation of the site was complete and the first Disney park was beginning to take shape.

Check back for “construction updates” soon.

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First Disneyland Resort Ambassador Comes ‘Home’ for 50th Anniversary of Disney Ambassador Program

posted on October 17th, 2014 by Valarie Sukovaty, Disneyland Public Relations


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.

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Vintage Walt Disney World: Happy Boss’s Day!

posted on October 16th, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


He’s a mouse. He’s the leader of the club. And, he just happens to be my boss. Happy Boss’s Day, Mickey Mouse! Here’s the Big Cheese himself arriving in Mickey’s Birthdayland in 1988. Check out that awesome Florida license plate!

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Water Tower History Stands Tall at House of Blues at Downtown Disney

posted on October 14th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Like many of you, I’ve walked by the signature House of Blues Water Tower countless times. It’s a landmark, an icon and a work of art, all rolled into one. But have you ever thought about where it came from? Or how it ended up at Downtown Disney West Side? I did. So recently, I set out to find answers.

A few friends from House of Blues who all share a passion for their company’s history – Jennifer Hinckle, Maggie Sumner and Charles Spellman – were happy to enlighten me. The story was too good not to share …

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It all started with Issac Tigrett, one of the eccentric co-founders of House of Blues. An avid fan of rail travel, Tigrett would tour the country in his lavish, expertly curated train car. He was known for his keen eye and unique style; his journeys often led to the purchase of one-of-a kind art and unique memorabilia. During one trip out west in the late 90’s, he spotted the water tower and realized he had to have it for his next-to-open House of Blues venue. At the very next town, he disembarked the train, hired a car, and went back to seek out the owner of the water tower. Tigrett knew it would make the perfect welcome statement for the Downtown Disney West Side location, set to open in 1997. And he was right. Originally three sections tall, only two were approved for the property. Blade signs, light cans and artistic flames were added, giving the structure its current-day look.

Though Tigrett is no longer with the company, his influence is everywhere; perhaps most prominently in the House of Blues courtyard where recent enhancements include the quick-service Smokehouse, expanded seating, and evolving live entertainment. Though the patio has changed, the Water Tower is constant – an appropriate reminder that (at House of Blues, at least) good art, no matter the form, can withstand the test of time.

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Today in Disney History: New Disneyland Sign Debuts, 1989

posted on October 6th, 2014 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


For years, a large marquee sign on Harbor Blvd. welcomed guests to Disneyland park. On this day in 1989, the original sign which stood at the entrance since the park opened, was replaced with a new sign featuring an electronic marquee. To mark this occasion, I’d like to re-share two photos that were originally posted by George Savvas in this fantastic article back in 2010 here on the Disney Parks Blog.

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In the photo above, you can see the old and the new side-by-side as the new sign is installed.

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And here is the new sign, finished and lit up, as it would welcome guests for the next 10 years.

Do you remember these Disneyland landmarks? Share your memories with us in the comments!

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Vintage Walt Disney World: Happy Birthday, Magic Kingdom Park!

posted on October 2nd, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


This week we celebrated the anniversary of the opening of Walt Disney World Resort, and 43 years later it’s still bringing magical memories to guests from all over the world. In honor of this week’s milestone, here’s an aerial view of Magic Kingdom Park and the surrounding resort area in early 1971.
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Read on for more posts about Magic Kingdom in the “Vintage Walt Disney World” series:

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Vintage Walt Disney World: A Look Back at Tapestry of Nations

posted on September 25th, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Fifteen years ago, Tapestry of Nations had its soft opening at Epcot. I can’t let a milestone pass by without sharing a photo from my favorite parade. (I’m biased. Here is proof.) Here’s a look at Hammerman in front of a Millennium-themed Spaceship Earth in September 1999.

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Although the Sage of Time doesn’t take his great millennium walk around World Showcase Lagoon any more, I still smile every time my iPod shuffles to the parade music.


Read on for more posts about Epcot in the “Vintage Walt Disney World” series:

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Sights and Sounds of Disney Parks: Celebrating One of Walt’s Major Magic Makers

posted on September 17th, 2014 by Greg Ehrbar, Writer/Author, Disney's Yellow Shoes Creative Group


Marc Davis’ Disney career goes all the way back to “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” He animated Alice, Tinker Bell, Cinderella, Maleficent and Cruella DeVil. He designed characters for Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise and the fondly remembered America Sings attractions. He was an accomplished painter and a caring, unforgettable teacher.

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Marc dreamed up enough major works to fill several lifetimes. Yet he was definitely not one of those “look at me, I’m so great, blah, blah, blah” kind of people. He was devoted to his wife, Alice (also a Disney Legend who was also a major contributor to Disney history as costume designer for many attractions), dedicated to Disney art and imagination, and, across the board, remembered as a genial, unassuming fellow.

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His admirers include some of the most accomplished individuals in the art and entertainment industry, who along with many of us, were waiting a long time for such a magnificent book as “Marc Davis: Walt Disney’s Renaissance Man” to come along. This book is their opportunity to reminisce about Marc for us, and our opportunity to look for hours at each and every vivid image in this new book—many of which seem to jump off the page.

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Imagineering and Disney Legend Marty Sklar expresses his awe at Marc’s work for Disney Parks. Peter Docter, Oscar-winning director of Disney•Pixar’s “Up” and “Monsters, Inc.” presents an extensive portfolio of Marc’s concept art and pencil drawings. “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King” producer Don Hahn elaborates on Marc’s fine art. Veteran Disney animator and historian Andreas Deja takes us on a tour of Marc’s animal studies. Glen Keane, acclaimed animator of Ariel, the Beast, Tarzan, Rapunzel, Aladdin and others, guides us through Marc’s vast collection of sketchbooks.

And there’s so much more. Walt Disney Family Museum Creative Consultant and historian Paula Sigman-Lowery explains Marc’s fascination with the art and people of New Guinea. Author/filmmaker Mindy Johnson helps us get acquainted with the wondrous Alice Davis. Renowned animation historian and critic Charles Solomon presents a look at the unproduced animated feature, Chanticleer. Award-winning animation director Bob Kurtz recalls Marc’s skill as a teacher. There are even selections from Marc’s unpublished book on how humans and animals move (Parents’ alert: some tasteful nudes in this section.)

You can find “Marc Davis: Walt Disney’s Renaissance Man” at select Disney Parks shops now (even though it will not be available to the general public until October 7). Call Merchandise Guest Services at 1-877-560-6477) to locate it at either Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort.

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