This Saturday marks the 30th anniversary of an important celebration. The year was 1983, the day was May 25, and a new, redesigned Fantasyland was unveiled at Disneyland park. Of course in true Disneyland fashion, there was a grand opening, including the lowering of the drawbridge at Sleeping Beauty Castle. That hadn’t happened since the park opened in 1955! Creative Advisor to Walt Disney Imagineering, Tony Baxter, was one of the Imagineers on the redesign team. Disney Parks Blog spoke with him about that opening day and what other attraction they used as inspiration. Enjoy!
posted on May 23rd, 2013 by Valarie Sukovaty, Disneyland Public Relations
posted on May 23rd, 2013 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center
Today, in 1993, the Backlot Theater opened on New York Street at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This 1,500-seat theater was home to two major productions – The Spirit of Pocahontas and Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame – A Musical Adventure.
The Spirit of Pocahontas explored the film’s love story between Pocahontas and John Smith, and the balance between man and nature. This 28-minute show was the first Broadway-style theatrical production at Walt Disney World Resort and included wind, water and fire effects as part of the dramatic retelling of the story.
Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame – A Musical Adventure closely followed the story of the film. Set in the Court of Miracles (the Gypsy “underworld”), this 30-minute show featured many of the characters from the movie, including 13 Gypsy players who brought the story to life via puppetry and props.
Check out more posts from the “Vintage Walt Disney World” series:
posted on May 16th, 2013 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center
Today is National Love a Tree Day! In its honor, here’s an aerial look at the tree farm at Walt Disney World Resort back in August 1969, and again in February 1981.
Head outside and show your favorite tree some love. I’ve already hugged about 15, thanking them for the shade they provide on those warm Florida summer days ahead.
Check out these posts for more “Vintage Walt Disney World”:
posted on May 9th, 2013 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center
A few weeks ago, I shared my very first ticket to Walt Disney World Resort. This prompted blog reader Skip to ask if we had any photographs of the old A to E tickets used at Magic Kingdom Park. With the help of my friends at the Walt Disney Archives, I was able to track them down.
Want to take a ride on the Omnibus on Main Street, U.S.A.? Grab your A ticket and enjoy the double-decker view!
Don’t know what to do with your B ticket? Climb aboard a Mike Fink Keel Boat and sail around the Rivers of America.
That C ticket you’re holding would have been perfect to take a spin aboard Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
Already ridden on the Omnibus and a Mike Fink Keel Boat? Why not make it a trifecta with a voyage aboard the Admiral Joe Fowler with your D ticket?
Use that E ticket wisely. Take a dive underwater on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Although all-inclusive passport tickets were introduced at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland park in June of 1981 in advance of ticket books being phased, we still often lovingly refer to attractions by their ticket letter.
Check out these posts for more “Vintage Walt Disney World”:
posted on May 7th, 2013 by Erin Glover, Manager, Social Media and Print, Disneyland Resort
“…I just want it to look like nothing else in the world. And it should be surrounded by a train.” — Walt Disney
Even before Disneyland Resort was built – when the idea for the theme park was still being developed – it was surrounded by its now-iconic railroad. Not only would it provide guests with a “grand circle tour of Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom,” but it also would create a natural barrier between the outside world and the magical realms inside. This made the Disneyland Railroad one of the most important opening day attractions. So far, we’ve met some of the Steam Engines of the Disneyland Railroad, and today we’ll take a look back to a specific time in Walt’s lifelong love of trains and his inspiration for this beloved attraction. Believe it or not, he found this inspiration right in his own backyard …
In 1947, Walt bought a new electric train and wanted to show it off. He brought it over to Walt Disney Studios and knew exactly who to show it to: Ward Kimball and Ollie Johnston, the animators behind Jiminy Cricket and Thumper, and fellow train enthusiasts. He quickly learned that they each had impressive trains of their own – but theirs were big enough to ride in their backyards! So, of course, Walt had to have one of his own. A few years later, in 1950, he had the perfect spot for his train: the backyard of his home on Carolwood Drive. And it was 63 years ago this week that the first engine was steamed up on Walt’s own, personal ⅛-scale model railroad, the Carolwood-Pacific Railroad.
Take a look back as Walt tests out his Carolwood-Pacific Railroad in the footage below, which originally appeared in the 1956 television show, “Where Do The Stories Come From?”
At first, Lillian Disney, Walt’s wife, was not exactly excited about their brand-new backyard being taken over by a miniature railroad, so Walt wanted to do something special to make her comfortable with the idea. He enlisted the help of horticulturalists Jack and Bill Evans (who would later go on to cultivate the horticulture for the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland park) to create a beautifully landscaped backyard, and then even named the locomotive of his new railroad “Lilly Belle” in her honor. This kind gesture now lives on here at Disneyland; the Grand Canyon observation caboose which operates on the Disneyland Railroad is now lovingly referred to as the Lilly Belle.
If you’re interested in seeing this incredible piece of Disney history yourself, you can see the Carolwood-Pacific Railroad and the Lilly Belle at The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, Calif. It was one of my favorite moments in a day full of amazing moments at this remarkable museum. Also consider a visit to Walt Disney’s Barn – the actual barn from which Walt would monitor and remotely control the Carolwood-Pacific Railroad – now relocated to Griffith Park in Los Angeles, Calif.
The idea of having my own, personal railroad in my backyard sounds incredible. What would you name your own backyard railroad?
posted on May 6th, 2013 by Jon Storbeck, Vice President, Disneyland Park
Walt Disney is known as an exceptional storyteller, a great innovator and a visionary. He was also a brilliant team builder because he knew the importance of assembling the right talents and personalities to achieve success whether in film, television and even at Disneyland. In his famous quote, “You can dream, create, design, and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it requires people to make the dream a reality,” Walt acknowledges that Disney cast members are the Walt Disney Company’s most valuable asset.
In March 1955, as Walt was preparing for the opening of Disneyland park, he hired Van Arsdale France to undertake the daunting task of training the staff to bring his vision of hospitality to life. As founder of the University of Disneyland training center, today called The Disney University, Van helped promote Walt Disney’s guest service philosophies, teaching cast members to be Ambassadors of Happiness and creating happiness for others.
In his own unique way, Van trained cast members to smile and treat every visitor as a very important guest. Van’s progressive concepts in guest service have been widely recognized and often imitated in the service industry. The Disney University, as well as many of the innovative training programs created by him, is still in existence today. The training handbooks he authored, which feature themes such as “You’re an Ambassador of Happiness” and “You’re Here Because You Care,” have provided a foundation for training new Disney cast members around the globe.
While forever known as the Founder and Professor Emeritus of Disney University, Van went on to perform many roles at Disneyland, including area manager of Tomorrowland, organizational chairman of the Disneyland Recreation Club, and coordinator of the first Disneyland cast member magazine, Backstage Disneyland.
Van retired in 1978 and became a special consultant at Disneyland. He authored “Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks,” a career guide for senior working adults, as well as his autobiography, “Window On Main Street: 35 Years of Creating Happiness at Disneyland Park.” He was also a speaker about Disneyland history at conventions around the country.
Van was honored with a window on Main Street, U.S.A., on April 26, 1985. Known as a smoker, his window is located above the former Disneyland Tobacco Shop, which today is the 20th Century Music Shop. Van was named a Disney Legend in 1994.
posted on May 2nd, 2013 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center
With the exciting announcement of the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade coming to Magic Kingdom Park in 2014, I thought it’d be fun to revisit some of the parades that have traveled down Main Street, U.S.A., over the years.
America on Parade ran from June 1975 until September 1976 and celebrated the Nation’s bicentennial with a lot of red, white and blue. Below, Mickey, Goofy and Donald get in on the patriotic fun.
In October 1986, 15 Years of Magic started to roll down Main Street, U.S.A., celebrating the 15th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort. Here we see Mickey and Minnie in their ’80s best joining in on the fun!
In the summer of 1994, the Mickey Mania parade hit the streets celebrating the one and only Mickey Mouse. Check out the life-size Mickey gloves and ear hat.
Finally, here’s a look at Walt Disney World Resort’s 25th Anniversary parade, Remember the Magic. Ready to grant three wishes, The Genie travels down Main Street, U.S.A., along with Aladdin and Jasmine.
Part of Magic Kingdom Park since opening day, parades have and will continue to create memories for guests daily. What’s your favorite?
posted on April 25th, 2013 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center
Have you had a chance to visit the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival this year? The character topiaries throughout Future World and World Showcase are my favorite part. Topiaries have been a part of the Walt Disney World Resort for many years. Below, Goofy and Pluto admire their own topiaries back in 1985.
Pretty great for 1985, but they pale in comparison to their counterparts of today. Today our horticulture team creates topiaries that are even more advanced and realistic. Here’s a look at the 2013 version of Goofy and Pluto at the festival.
posted on April 18th, 2013 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center
Michael Eisner, then chairman and chief executive officer, along with Roy E. Disney, former vice chairman of The Walt Disney Company were on hand to dedicate the park. Roy stated, “Disney’s Animal Kingdom, like the animal world itself, will evolve and grow. It’s truly a living thing.”
While large puppets of birds flew over the crowd and other animals marched down the aisles, the dedication ceremony was a celebration of animals, conservation and the cast members who made Disney’s Animal Kingdom possible. Here’s to another 15 years of wild adventures!
posted on April 16th, 2013 by Jon Storbeck, Vice President, Disneyland Park
Tokyo Disneyland Park opened 30 years ago this week, on April 15, 1983. Jim Cora, who has been a friend and mentor to me, played a key role in the success of our parks in Anaheim, Orlando and Paris, but his most notable achievement with the Walt Disney Company is the work he did on the development of Tokyo Disney Resort.
Jim was hired in 1957 as a part-time attractions host at Disneyland park. He credits Walt Disney for his move from the Matterhorn Bobsleds to the Disneyland Administration Building. “Walt asked me if I had an interest in training,” Jim recalls. “Van France was just starting the Disney University, and he was looking for five guys.” Almost immediately, Jim began advancing within the organization.
In 1971, Jim assisted with the opening of Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort, implementing the Disney Way of Leadership program. In 1974, as staff assistant to Dick Nunis, president of Walt Disney Attractions, he redesigned the Disneyland park operating organization to the “area concept,” becoming one of three production directors for the park, responsible for Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.
In 1979, Jim went international, assuming a role that would later define his career – managing director of operations for the Tokyo Disneyland project. In this capacity, he was responsible for all operational and management training for Tokyo Disneyland. In preparation for the opening of Tokyo Disneyland, Jim was promoted to vice president, Walt Disney Productions Japan, Ltd. He relocated to Japan and was instrumental in providing ongoing support and advice to Oriental Land Company (OLC, owner and operator of Tokyo Disneyland), as well as overseeing Disney’s operational and design standards. In 1983, Jim returned to California and assumed the position of vice president, Disneyland International.
In 1985, Jim was responsible for negotiating the agreements, master planning, and site research for the Disneyland Paris project and was promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer for Euro Disneyland Corporation in 1987.
Jim became president of Disneyland International in 1995 and, four years later, chairman. He retired in 2001 after the successful opening of Tokyo DisneySea. He was named a Disney Legend in 2002 and was honored with a window on Main Street, U.S.A., that same year. The window, located above Disney Clothiers, Ltd., celebrates his extensive international experience; “Global Exports and Expats – Specializing in land and sea operations – Our motto: ‘The Sun Never Sets on Our Magical Kingdoms’ – Jim Cora, Master Operator.” Jim is one of the few individuals to be honored with a window in multiple Disney Parks, including Tokyo Disneyland.