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The Disney Gallery Unveils New Exhibit for the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration

posted on May 22nd, 2015 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


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May 22 is finally here, and the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration is underway! While there’s so much to see and do, one place I couldn’t resist visiting on one of my shopping adventures was The Disney Gallery located in the lobby of The Disneyland Story presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. A new exhibit was unveiled just this morning — Drawing Disneyland: The Early Years – Imagineers Who Helped Bring Walt’s Dream To Life.

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I had the chance to get the back-story about this exciting new exhibit which of course, I wanted to share with all of you:

Walt Disney had an idea for “a family park, where parents and children could have fun together.” Problem is, he didn’t know how to design and build it. Unfortunately, neither did the architecture and engineering firm he hired. That’s when Walt’s longtime friend, architect Welton Becket, told him the best people to design the park were his own animators and art directors. These were the people who best understood Walt and what he wanted to do.

So in 1952 Walt formed WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering) and recruited members of his own staff from the Disney Studio, as well as designers and artists from other studios, to help him develop this new kind of park he was calling Disneyland. Though none of them had ever designed theme parks (Who had at that time?), they did know, with their film backgrounds and set-designing skills, how to turn Walt’s ideas into concept sketches and detailed renderings.

Drawing Disneyland celebrates five of those artists, all with experience in live-action and animated films, each of whom played a key role in the development of one of the original lands of Disneyland – and ultimately proved Welton Becket right. Who are they? I won’t leave you in suspense any further.

Harper Goff – Adventureland
John Hench – Tomorrowland
Harry Johnson – Main Street, U.S.A.
Bill Martin – Fantasyland
Sam McKim – Frontierland

I hope during your next visit you’ll enjoy this historical retrospective, which showcases the rich heritage and history of the Disneyland Resort — from how far we’ve come to where we’re headed.

Special Tip: If you find a favorite piece of art on display in the new exhibit, stop next store at Disneyana Gifts to inquire whether it is available to purchase via Art on Demand, and bring the magic of Disney, home.

What places are on your list to visit today?

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Disney Days of Past: Celebrating DINOSAUR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on May 21st, 2015 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


This week in 2000 the film “Dinosaur” was released. “Dinosaur” stars an iguanodon, Aladar, who should be familiar to fans of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the attraction DINOSAUR in DinoLand, U.S.A.

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When Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened in 1998, this attraction went by the name Countdown to Extinction. In fact, on the Time Rovers you can still see CTX written on the vehicles.

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Another attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened before the movie debuted. Know what attraction I’m referring to? Share your expertise knowledge in the comments section below!

How well do you know DINOSAUR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Take our quiz now!

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Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom Park: Then and Now…

posted on May 20th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


We’re continuing our special image series “Then and Now” with a look at how Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort has changed over the years. Scroll back and forth to see both views.

When Magic Kingdom Park opened in 1971, Tomorrowland featured Grand Prix Raceway, Flight to the Moon, the Skyway to Fantasyland and the Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant. Over the next few years, other attractions were added, including Star Jets, Space Mountain and Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress.

Tomorrowland underwent a major redesign in 1995, when Walt Disney Imagineers changed the land’s theming to be inspired by science fiction instead of scientific fact. This change brought attractions like The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, The Timekeeper, etc., as well as a new Tomorrowland entrance marker.

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Sixty Years of Innovation: New Fantasyland at Disneyland Park

posted on May 13th, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


Disney Parks are more than exciting attractions and dazzling spectaculars. Walking into a place like Fantasyland, for example, is like walking into another world. As each of our guests are reminded, “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.” Let’s go back to the year 1983 to discover how the fantasy of Fantasyland was enriched here at Disneyland park.

Walt Disney’s favorite land, Fantasyland was envisioned as a fairy tale village beyond the walls of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Unfortunately, as the opening of Disneyland drew near, unforeseen budget overages caused the team to scale back on the design of Fantasyland. So the land became a medieval fair, with banners and flags decorating the entrances to Snow White’s Adventures, Peter Pan’s Flight and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

 

Nearly thirty years later, the time had finally come to transform Fantasyland into that timeless land of enchantment that Walt had dreamed of. “The New Fantasyland” opened at Disneyland on May 25, 1983. The architecture and facade of each attraction became an extension of the stories that lie within. Guests now enter Peter Pan’s Flight through a medieval English clock tower or visit a country manor called Toad Hall, home to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. On the west side of Fantasyland, you have the feeling of being immersed in a Bavarian or Alpine village, bringing you into the worlds of Snow White and Pinocchio. Next door at Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, the attraction’s facade features half-timbered architecture and carved wood balconies, resembling the house in which Pinocchio, the wooden puppet made of pine, became a real boy.

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“The New Fantasyland” elevated the storytelling of the entire area, combining architecture, horticulture and other details to create an immersive, fairy tale environment and became an example of what Walt Disney Imagineering often refers to as “place making” – the design and creation of a land that transports the guest to a different place and time, truly immersing them in the story and fantasy of the land.

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And nearly 30 years after “The New Fantasyland” at Disneyland park, this immersive storytelling was brought to another level with New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom park. The largest expansion in the park’s history, New Fantasyland welcomes guests to step into the stories of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Dumbo.” It is a shining example of how Disney Parks continue the legacy of innovative, immersive storytelling that was established with the opening of Disneyland park in 1955 and carried on with “The New Fantasyland” in 1983 and beyond.

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Filed: Disney History, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Building the Dream: The Making of Disneyland Park – Sleeping Beauty Castle – Part One

posted on May 13th, 2015 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


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Although inspired by several medieval castles, with the help of forced perspective, Sleeping Beauty Castle was proportioned more to the imagination than to history. Walt Disney wanted this castle to be a friendly and welcoming presence in his new park so it was built on a smaller scale than its European counterparts.

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I’m not sure if the people who were building the castle knew that they were creating one of the world’s most iconic structures, or that it would inspire unique Magic Kingdom parks around the world, but they did know that this 77-foot-tall beauty was the centerpiece of Disneyland park, around which everything that followed would be built.

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We’ll check the progress on the building of the original Disney Parks castle in our next update.

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Previously in the “Building the Dream” series:

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Disney Days of Past: Happy National Travel & Tourism Week

posted on May 7th, 2015 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


It’s National Travel and Tourism week. Dreaming of your next Disney vacation? Here’s a little inspiration from 2007 when Disney Cruise Line rolled out the red carpet for a few famous characters.

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Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Daisy look ready for a magical voyage aboard a Disney Cruise Line ship. Have you been on a Disney cruise? What’s your favorite part? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Today in Disney History: Disney’s Hollywood Studios Opens Its Doors at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on May 1st, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


On this very day back in 1989, Disney’s Hollywood Studios opened its doors to give guests a taste of the fascinating world of entertainment. I remember visiting the park that summer and was captivated by its attractions that offered a peek inside television production and the making of animated films, as well as the history of the silver screen inside The Great Movie Ride.

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Many attractions have been added to the park over the years, including The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror in 1994, Rockin’ Rollercoaster – Starring Aerosmith in 1999, the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show in 2005, and Toy Story Mania! in 2008, among others. Entertainment, of course, has played a huge part at the park, with “Beauty and The Beast – Live on Stage” being the first theme park show to debut the same day the film was released in theaters in 1991. “Fantasmic!”, the park’s nighttime spectacular that combines Disney characters and songs with amazing special effects opened at the park in 1998.

Click through the gallery below for a look at how the park has changed over the years.

Which attraction or show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is your favorite? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Disney Days of Past: ‘April Showers Bring May Flowers’ at Magic Kingdom Park

posted on April 30th, 2015 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


As we wind up April, it brings the saying “April showers bring May flowers” to mind. In 1979, Thumper and Flower from “Bambi” took some time to enjoy the flowers at Magic Kingdom Park. Happy Spring!

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Sixty Years of Innovation: Audio-Animatronics Technology Begins at Disneyland Park

posted on April 27th, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


Continuing our look back at the amazing innovations that Disneyland has seen throughout its sixty years, we jump forward now to the 1960s and the invention of Audio-Animatronics technology. Inspired by an antique mechanical singing bird, Walt Disney was driven to bring what he saw as three-dimensional animation to Disneyland. He enlisted the help of Imagineer and Disney Legend Wathel Rogers to take the bird apart and see how it – quite literally – ticked.

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On June 23, 1963, Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room opened at Disneyland. The first attraction to feature Audio-Animatronics technology was home to more than 200 singing birds, flowers and tikis. The following year, the first human Audio-Animatronics figure debuted at the New York World’s Fair in the state of Illinois’ “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln,” which opened to great acclaim and later moved to Disneyland.

In the years since, Audio-Animatronics technology has continued to develop at Disney Parks around the world. Many classics, such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion, continue to see new and even more impressive figures added as the technology continues to advance. What started as a curiosity for Walt all those years ago has grown into a Disney Parks legacy – storytelling technology that set a new standard and brought us all a little closer to the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.

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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on April 26th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


This week, we announced some fantastic new experiences coming to the Disney Dream cruise ship this fall, including interactive youth areas themed to Star Wars and Disney Infinity.

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In Disney’s Oceaneer Club, kids are in for an out-of-this-galaxy experience in a newly themed play, Star Wars: Millennium Falcon, inspired by the spacecraft from the legendary saga. We’ll also offer Star Wars-themed crafts, games and activities in this space.

Also in the Oceaneer Club, a high-tech interactive space based on the Disney Infinity video game will allow kids to experience a whole new way of playing together with virtual experiences and immersive activities. Customized, on-screen adventures will bring to life characters and stories from across The Walt Disney Company.

Jonathan has more details on both spaces and other enhancements coming to the Disney Dream in his original story.

Walt Disney Describes Disneyland Park

And as we continue to count down the weeks until the beginning of the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration on May 22, Erin launched the first of her series of stories looking back at some of the innovations that the Happiest Place on Earth has seen throughout its first 60 years.

This week, we started with the biggest innovation of all – Disneyland itself – recalled in Walt Disney’s own words. Check Erin’s original story for more details.

Here are some of the other stories we worked on this week.

Five Reasons to Visit the Disneyland Resort this Spring – Spring is in full swing at the Disneyland Resort, and it’s brought unique experiences you will only find this time of year! Check out our top five reasons to visit right now.

VIDEO: Learn to Make the Manhattan from Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge at Disney California Adventure Park – Watch as our bartender creates a Manhattan cocktail (and one of those fabulous ice spheres) from Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge.

What’s Included on Your Vacation to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa – See three of the activities that make a vacation to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, an unforgettable experience for everyone. Plus, they are included in the price of your room!

PHOTOS: Dockside Margaritas Opens Today at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort – This past week, Dockside Margaritas opened at Downtown Disney! Click through for photos of the cool, laid-back new location.

Disney Days of Past: ‘Goof Troop’ Visits Walt Disney World Resort – Television became a little goofier this past week in 1992 when “Goof Troop” first aired on The Disney Channel. Goofy and Max joined Chip ‘n Dale (from their “Rescue Rangers” days) on stage in Mickey’s Starland as seen here in July 1992.

Show your #DisneySide at the Final Expedition Everest Challenge at Walt Disney World Resort – On Saturday, May 2 runDisney will host its final Expedition Everest Challenge. This exciting nighttime 5K through Disney’s Animal Kingdom includes obstacles throughout the course and is followed by a scavenger hunt making it the ultimate adventure.

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