Halloween Time at Disneyland Resort

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Celebrates 35 Years at Disneyland Park

posted on September 2nd, 2014 by Valarie Sukovaty, Disneyland Public Relations


“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.

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Filed: Disney History, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort

Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Celebrates Three Years of Paradise with a Touch of Magic

posted on August 29th, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Public Relations Manager, Disney Destinations


Today marks the third anniversary of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa! Let’s celebrate with a look back at three major milestones this beautiful resort has seen through the past three years.

Tradition and Magic at the Grand Opening of Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa

Tradition and Magic at the Grand Opening of Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa

With the help of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, Hawaiian performers and Aulani cast members, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs and President and Chief Executive Officer of the Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger, led the Grand Opening Ceremony. One of our favorite moments during the ceremony was the joining of Hawaiian culture and the magic of Disney – symbolized by the mixing of sand from the beach with pixie dust in an ‘umeke, a ceremonial wooden bowl.

Ka Maka Landing Officially Opens at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

New Ka Maka Landing Officially Opens Tomorrow at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

Ka Maka Landing opened in October 2013, completing the Waikolohe Valley expansion. Your ‘ohana can now spend the day in the spectacular infinity-edge pool overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and children can splash and play in the new Keiki Cove. Be sure to take a break and enjoy a poolside meal at Ulu Cafe before diving back for more Hawaiian fun.

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Travel + Leisure Readers Recognize Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa and Disney Cruise Line for Excellence

Last month, Travel + Leisure announced its World’s Best Awards 2014, and Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, was named the Top Hotel for Families in the United States. Cast members were positively thrilled to receive this honor on behalf of our Hawaiian resort, and look forward to continuing the tradition of providing extraordinary guest service.

Please join me in wishing Aulani a hau`oli la ho’omana’o, or happy anniversary! If you’d like to visit and celebrate the anniversary too, take advantage of a special travel package this fall: book a consecutive four-night or more stay, now through October 30, 2014, for travel between August 15 and December 22 (excluding November 26-29), and receive the fourth night free! Learn more about this great vacation offer here.

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Filed: Aulani, Disney History, Disney Vacation Club, Hotels & Resorts

Vintage Walt Disney World: A Classic Game of Baseball

posted on August 21st, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Here’s the windup and the pitch! A little throwback to 1973, when Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Chip and Dale were playing baseball out on the lawn near Cinderella Castle. Hey, batter, batter!

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See the posts below for more about Vintage Walt Disney World:

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

Remembering Lauren Bacall at Disney Parks

posted on August 15th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


This week we learned of the passing of legendary actress Lauren Bacall. The award-winning star of stage and screen who rose to fame in the film noir dramas of the 1940s was reportedly one of the femme fatales from Hollywood’s golden age who inspired the creative team behind “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” in their design of Jessica Rabbit.

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Ms. Bacall visited Disneyland park in the summer of 1963 with her husband, actor Jason Robards, pictured here at Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

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Twenty-six years later, Ms. Bacall was on-hand for the opening festivities of Disney’s Hollywood Studios (known then as Disney-MGM Studios), where she placed her handprints in cement in the courtyard outside The Great Movie Ride – an attraction inspired by the kind of movie magic she, herself, created.

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Filed: Celebrity Visits, Disney History, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort

Celebrating 45 Years of Ghoulish Delight at the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland Park

posted on August 8th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


“When hinges creak in doorless chambers, and strange and frightening sounds echo through the halls … Whenever candlelights flicker where the air is deathly still, that is the time when ghosts are present, practicing their terror with ghoulish delight. Welcome, foolish mortals, to the Haunted Mansion.”

As a six-year-old boy, hearing those words spoken by Disney Legend Paul Frees as the “ghost host” became an indelible Disney memory for me – and don’t get me started on the stretching room, Madame Leota or the ghost that was sitting next to me on the way home! For me, there was no turning back then – or now – from one of the most uniquely entertaining Disney Parks attractions ever created.

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The 999 happy haunts of the Haunted Mansion have been throwing a swinging wake for 45 delightfully frightful years, and they’ve received the sympathetic vibrations of millions of Disneyland park guests who have come out to socialize.

The disquieting tale of the Haunted Mansion actually began more than 50 years ago when Walt Disney approved the creation of a riverfront mansion even while he hadn’t yet decided exactly what would go inside. Walt insisted, however, that the house appear well kept on the outside and not look dilapidated.

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This rare concept drawing from Ken Anderson, courtesy of our friends at the Walt Disney Imagineering Art Library, was made in 1957.

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The library also provided this color artwork created by Sam McKim in 1958.

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In 1962, construction began on the beautiful southern plantation-inspired home, and in the years that followed, as Imagineers developed (sometimes competing) themes and stories of a Haunted Mansion attraction, a sign was placed in front of its closed gates to tease what was (possibly) to come.

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The idea for the sign was reportedly sparked by a comment Walt made upon returning from a trip to London when he remarked that he had been searching castles and old English countryside estates for ghosts looking for a new place to haunt. The sign would remain in place until the Haunted Mansion opened its gates more than six years later, in August of 1969.

During those years, with their combined talents, Imagineers, including Marc Davis, Claude Coats, X Atencio, Rolly Crump, Bill Justice, and Yale Gracey, Disney Legends all, developed the attraction we know today.

Near the time of its completion, some publicity photos were taken to help illustrate the attraction’s unique blend of macabre humor and to celebrate the artistry of those responsible for bringing it to … life.

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Here, special effects designer Yale Gracey tries to keep the lid on one of his latest creations.

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In this photo, Bill Justice tries to celebrate some of his technological accomplishments with a grim grinning ghost.

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Finally, cameras captured a sighting of the elusive Hatbox Ghost with Yale Gracey.

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“There’s a little matter I forgot to mention. Beware of hitchhiking ghosts!”

Whether your first “doom buggy” ride was today, or 45 years ago, the Haunted Mansion is what it has always been: a true original that’s pure Disney magic.

Hurry baaaaaack…

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Filed: Disney History, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort

Vintage Walt Disney World: Summertime for Disney Characters

posted on July 24th, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


This time of the year always makes me think of summer vacation. In fact, I miss those dedicated three months of freedom watching TV, swimming, and traveling to see my grandparents. Here at Walt Disney World Resort, our world-class characters spend the summer seeing our guests while they’re on vacation, but they do find time to have some fun too! Here’s Pinocchio taking a break from autographs, hugs and handshakes in 1983 water skiing at the former Disney’s Village Resort while Geppetto waves from ashore. Let’s just hope Monstro isn’t in that water!
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For more from the “Vintage Walt Disney World” series, check out the posts below:

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Filed: Disney History, Hotels & Resorts, Walt Disney World Resort

Remembering James Garner at the Disneyland Resort

posted on July 21st, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


Over the weekend we learned of the passing of Oscar-nominated actor James Garner. In an award-winning career that spanned six decades, his work with Disney included The Castaway Cowboy and Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Today we’re looking back at a special memory Mr. Garner made at the Disneyland Resort.

I had the honor and pleasure of meeting James Garner a few times during his run on the ABC comedy “8 Simple Rules.” He was friendly, funny and obviously very much a grandfather figure to his younger co-stars.

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In September 2004 he appeared with the cast of the show at an event at Disney California Adventure park called ABC Primetime Preview Weekend.

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During this event, I gave Mr. Garner a copy of a photo we have in our archives of him with his wife, Lois, celebrating their daughter Gigi’s birthday at Disneyland in 1965. We believe the photo was taken at the Tahitian Terrace.

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When I handed him this photo backstage before a media appearance, Mr. Garner said, “Oh my, it’s my Gigi! Oh, I can’t wait to show this to Lois!” He had never seen the photo before, and he thanked me warmly before excitedly gathering the cast around him to see the picture.

What he surely couldn’t have known that afternoon was that while he was recalling a fond Disney memory from long ago, he had just made a brand new one for me.

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Filed: Celebrity Visits, Disney California Adventure Park, Disney History, Disneyland Resort

A Look Back at July 20, 1969: Apollo 11 Moon Landing Watched Live at Disneyland Park

posted on July 18th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


On the afternoon of July 20, 1969, just steps away from an attraction called “Flight to the Moon,” thousands of Disneyland park guests gathered at the Tomorrowland Stage to watch a seminal event in human history unfold on live television.

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Just last week, while researching another project, I came across this rare color image in our archives that shows the Apollo 11 Moon Landing being watched live at Disneyland park.

In the years that followed this momentous event, we were fortunate to welcome two members of the remarkable Apollo 11 crew to Disneyland park.

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In February 1989, Buzz Aldrin joined us for the Challenger Spirit Salute, an event to honor the Challenger Center for Space Science Education.

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In July 2005, Neil Armstrong was on hand for the “re-launch” of Space Mountain. This photo was taken just above the exact spot where all those years earlier, Disneyland guests gathered in almost unimaginable anticipation to watch as he became the first man to step foot on the moon.

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Splash Mountain Celebrates 25 Years of Splashdowns at Disneyland Park

posted on July 18th, 2014 by Valarie Sukovaty, Disneyland Public Relations


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!

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Vintage Walt Disney World: Early Days of Disney Water Parks

posted on July 10th, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


It’s summertime. It’s warm. I need to cool off. Should I hang ten at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park or hit the slopes at Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park? Decisions, decisions. While I deliberate, here’s a look at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park under construction from March 1989 and Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park in December 1994.

Vintage Walt Disney World: Early Days of Disney Water Parks Vintage Walt Disney World: Early Days of Disney Water Parks

I still can’t decide. If I go to Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon I can take a ride on Crush ‘n’ Gusher, while over at Disney’s Blizzard Beach I can slide down the Toboggan Racers.

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This is the toughest decision of the summer for me at Walt Disney World Resort.

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Filed: Disney History, Disney's Blizzard Beach, Disney's Typhoon Lagoon, Walt Disney World Resort