Mad Tea Party at Disney Parks

This Week in Disney Parks Photos: A Happy Birthday to Mickey Mouse

posted on November 22nd, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Earlier this week, we celebrated Mickey Mouse’s birthday with a “Mickey takeover” of the Disney Parks Blog.

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Our favorite pal was brought into existence by creator Walt Disney on November 18, 1928. Be sure to click through the gallery above to see photos of Mickey Mouse throughout the history of our parks.

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Filed: Disney History, Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort

A Celebration of Disney Trains at the Walt Disney Family Museum

posted on November 20th, 2014 by Jeffrey Epstein, Manager, Marketing


As The Walt Disney Family Museum unveils its new exhibit, All Aboard: A Celebration of Walt’s Trains, we look back at some rarely seen photos and a very special moment in Disney train history.

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On May 10, 2005, at 7 a.m., a ceremony took place before Disneyland opened for the day. On the occasion of Disneyland’s 50th anniversary, about 100 people gathered at the New Orleans Square Station of the Disneyland Railroad to honor animator and Disney Legend Ollie Johnston, one of Walt’s Nine Old Men, for how he inspired Walt Disney with his love of trains. Ollie inspired Walt to build his backyard railroad, the Carolwood Pacific Railroad. Walt’s love of giving people rides on this little steam train in his backyard eventually led to the building of Disneyland.

After the speeches that early May morning, Ollie was presented with a plaque from the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society. Then everyone heard a toot of a steam whistle and up pulled a gleaming steam train. Ollie at first thought it was a Disneyland engine, then his son Ken leaned down and said, “Dad, that is your engine.” Ollie then realized it was his beloved Marie E. and he started to cry. And then so did everyone else.

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I then told Ollie that the Marie E. needed a real engineer to drive it around Disneyland and asked if he would like to do it. “Boy, would I!!” was his answer. He climbed up into the cab of the Marie E. with the help of the amazing Disneyland Railroad crew and they strapped him in with seatbelts borrowed from one of the old Matterhorn bobsleds.

At 94 years old, Ollie expertly engineered his Marie E. — the only outside train ever run on the rails of Disneyland — three times around Disneyland to the cheers of everyone there.

It was said that of all of the year-long events celebrating Disneyland’s 50th anniversary, the morning of May 10 was by far the most special.

- John Lasseter

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This memory told by John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, recalls a very special moment in Disney train history. It’s one of many train tales being celebrated in All Aboard: A Celebration of Walt’s Trains, a new exhibit at The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, Calif. On view through February 9, 2015, this comprehensive exhibition explores the influence that railroading had on Walt Disney’s life and work. It also tells the story of how his railroading legacy lives on to this day in Disney films and theme parks around the world.

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The arc of this exhibition doesn’t start and end with just Walt, though. All Aboard explores the interest and passion for railroading of Walt’s friends and staff, including Ollie Johnston. The Disney Legend was able to make his Disney railroad dreams come true at Disneyland before he passed away in 2008.

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Vintage Walt Disney World: Earffel Tower

posted on November 20th, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Soaring 130 feet into the air with a 32,000 lb. set of Mouse Ears, the Earffel Tower has been home to Disney’s Hollywood Studios since its opening. In November 1987, the park’s logo still hadn’t been painted on the side while construction carried on around it.

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While the Earffel Tower is not used to hold water, it was inspired by the working water tower in Burbank, Calif. landmark at the Disney Studios since 1939.

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For more about the icons at Walt Disney World Resort, visit the posts below:

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Fifteen Fun Facts For Mickey Mouse’s Birthday

posted on November 18th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


As the famous Walt Disney quote says, “I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing—that it was all started by a mouse.” – and today we’re celebrating that Mouse on the Disney Parks Blog.

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Mickey Mouse made his official film debut on November 18, 1928, in the film “Steamboat Willie,” and has since become a famous face at Disney Parks around the world.

In honor of today’s milestone, here are 15 fun facts about Mickey Mouse you may not know:

  1. Walt Disney wrote the first script for “Plane Crazy,” the first short created to star Mickey Mouse, while traveling on a train from Chicago to Los Angeles.
  2. Walt initially named Mickey Mouse “Mortimer,” until Walt’s wife, Lily, suggested “Mickey” was a better choice.

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  1. Disney Legend Ub Iwerks was the sole animator for Mickey Mouse in “Plane Crazy,” and produced an estimated 700 drawings per day for the film, some during the day (as a part of a secret project for Walt) and others after hours in Walt’s garage.
  2. The short film “Steamboat Willie” was the first short starring Mickey Mouse released, but was actually the third created. The first two, “Plane Crazy” and “The Gallopin’ Gaucho,” initially failed to find distributors, but were picked up and released later.
  3. When penning Mickey’s movements, early animators drew inspiration from popular comedic film stars of the day – like Charlie Chaplin.
  4. The first Mickey Mouse Club was formed by theater owner Harry Woodin in Ocean Park, California. On his own accord, Woodin devoted Saturday afternoons in his theater to showing only Mickey Mouse shorts and led children in a Mickey Mouse pledge. Walt later partnered with Woodin and spread the idea of Mickey Mouse Clubs to movie theaters across the nation.
  5. The first Mickey short in which Mickey spoke was “The Karnival Kid,” the ninth Mickey short, which was released in July 1929. His first words: “Hot dog!”
  6. Walt Disney wasn’t satisfied with the first few actors chosen to provide a voice for Mickey Mouse, so he did it, and continued to do so through about 1947.
  7. A Mickey Mouse comic strip, penned by Ub Iwerks, launched in January 1930, and at its height was printed in 40 newspapers in 22 countries.
  8. The first piece of Mickey Mouse merchandise was a tablet of paper that featured the mouse, designed for children. The first Mickey Mouse doll was designed in 1930.

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  1. Mickey Mouse made his debut appearance in the “Macy’s Santa Claus Parade” (now “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade”) in 1934. Measuring 40-feet-tall, the balloon was handpainted and guided by men and women dressed in Mickey/Minnie Mouse costumes.
  2. When Walt was contemplating a name for his first theme park (Disneyland park), he once considered calling it “Mickey Mouse Village.”
  3. Mickey Mouse was the first animated character to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which was given on his birthday (November 18) in 1978.
  4. Mickey Mouse has been a prominent feature at Disney Parks since Disneyland park opened its doors in 1955, with guests interacting with him in character meet and greets, viewing him in parades or snapping up Mickey Mouse merchandise.

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  1. The Partners Statue, a sculpture of Walt and Mickey holding hands, debuted at Disneyland park on Mickey’s birthday in 1993. A second Partners Statue debuted at Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort in 1995.

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

This Week in Disney Parks Photos: The Building Of Park Icons

posted on November 15th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


This week, some of the most compelling images we shared on the Disney Parks Blog were of some iconic buildings guests have enjoyed at our parks for years, specifically the train station and entrance to Disneyland park and Spaceship Earth at Epcot.

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George Savvas shared these amazing construction images of the Main Entrance turnstiles and Main Street Station earlier this week.

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Nate Rasmussen also gave a look at the early construction of Epcot’s theme park icon – Spaceship Earth.

Which other attractions or areas of our parks are you interested in seeing early construction photos of? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Vintage Walt Disney World: Spaceship Earth

posted on November 13th, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


There is no mistaking you’re at Epcot when there’s a 16 million pound, 180 feet high geodesic sphere greeting you. Spaceship Earth has been the icon of Epcot since the park opened. In August of 1981, Spaceship Earth was beginning to take shape.

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Did you know Spaceship Earth stands on legs 15 feet above ground level? It took over 40,000 hours of labor to build this unique icon covered with over 11,000 aluminum facets.

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

Building the Dream: The Making of Disneyland Park – Main Entrance

posted on November 12th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


The Main Entrance turnstiles are where most guests begin their visit to Disneyland park – exclusively so until the Disneyland Monorail extended its track to the Disneyland Hotel in 1961.

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As this photo shows, construction of the park was well underway by the time the Main Entrance turnstiles were built.

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One month later, only days before opening day, the turnstiles were completed. A lot of progress was also made at Main Street Station and on the “floral Mickey” designed to greet guests upon their arrival into the park.

Check back for “construction updates” soon!


Previously in the “Building the Dream” series:

  • Building the Dream: The Making of Disneyland Park
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    Vintage Walt Disney World: Cinderella Castle is Fit for a Princess

    posted on November 6th, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


    Every Thursday throughout the month of November, I’ll be sharing photographs of our theme park icons “in the making” at Walt Disney World Resort. This week, we’re taking a look at Cinderella Castle. Soaring 189 feet into the sky, this world-famous castle fit for a princess was still under construction in February 1971.

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    Boasting 18 towers, this centerpiece of Walt Disney World Resort and the icon of Magic Kingdom Park had its color palate carefully selected as to complement and not compete with the blue skies of Central Florida.

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    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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    Filed: Disney History, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort

    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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