Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Vintage Walt Disney World: Honoring Our Favorite ‘Attraction Moms’

posted on May 10th, 2012 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center

Compassionate, loving, Audio-Animatronic. Not quite the typical description of a Mom, unless your duties were in a former Epcot attraction. In honor of Mother’s Day this Sunday, lets take a few minutes to honor some moms who were always there for their children (not just because they were bolted down) and used to call Epcot their home.

Mad props to you Mom from the 1983 version of Spaceship Earth for never getting tired of watching television with your daughter every night before bed. (Not to mention letting millions of guests peer into your nightly routine.)

Honoring 'Attraction Moms' for Mother's Day Featuring a Spaceship Earth Mom at Epcot

Here’s to you, World of Motion Mom, kicking it in the front seat, joining her family, and sharing in their joy of watching new flying machines take to the air.

Honoring 'Attraction Moms' for Mother's Day Featuring a World of Motion Mom at Epcot

Finally, thanks Horizons Mom for always making sure your child never floated away.

Honoring 'Attraction Moms' for Mother's Day Featuring a Horizons Mom at Epcot

A big Happy Mother’s Day to all of the great moms of this world – real or Audio-Animatronic.

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Vintage Walt Disney World: Mexico Pavilion in the 1980s

posted on May 3rd, 2012 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center

I started sharing vintage images from the Marketing Resource Center almost one year ago today here on the Disney Parks Blog. My very first post was a construction photo of Mexico Pavilion in honor of Cinco de Mayo.

I thought it would be fitting to share a look at the Mexico Pavilion again, as Cinco de Mayo approaches this weekend. Here’s a look at the Mexico Pavilion prior to opening in May 1982.

Mexico Pavilion Prior to Opening in May 1982 at Epcot

While the area has seen a few changes over the years (El Gran Fiesta Boat Tour, La Hacienda de San Angel), the same pyramid has greeted guests entering the World Showcase since opening day.

Mexico Pavilion at Epcot

For anyone visiting Epcot this Cinco de Mayo (and are of legal age), have a margarita for me to toast another year of Vintage Walt Disney World posts to come.

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Vintage Walt Disney World: Filming ‘The Mickey Mouse Club’ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

posted on April 26th, 2012 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center

Who’s the leader of the club that’s made for you and me? If you don’t know the answer to that question, let’s face it – you might have landed here at the Disney Parks Blog by happenstance.

The third edition of “The Mickey Mouse Club” made its debut on the Disney Channel this week back in 1989 and was shot on location here at Walt Disney World Resort at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

“The MMC,” as it was also called, ran for seven seasons and had numerous Cast Members who later became major celebrities. The first six seasons had theme days (Music, Guest, Anything Can Happen, Party, Hall of Fame), similar in format to the original.
Production of 'The Mickey Mouse Club' at Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort

There is only one way to end this blog post: M-I-C, see ya real soon (next Thursday), K-E-Y, why because we like you! M-O-U-S-E. (It’s going to be stuck in your head all day long.)

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What Does Orange Bird Have In Common With The Beatles?

posted on April 24th, 2012 by Greg Ehrbar, Writer/Author, Disney's Yellow Shoes Creative Group


For a character who never makes a sound, but communicates through bright orange thoughts that appear over his head, the Orange Bird seems an unlikely recording star—but he was, on several vinyl records that were sold at the Emporium on Main Street, U.S.A., in Magic Kingdom Park, as well as nationwide.


The Story and Songs of The Orange Bird was released by Disneyland Records as a 12-inch “Storyteller” album (featuring an 11-page illustrated book); select songs were found on a 7-inch 33 1/3 rpm “Four Complete Songs” record and two were released as a 45 rpm single “Little Gem” Record.


Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman wrote the wonderful songs for these records, one of which was called “I’ll Fly the Sky Way,” originally written for the Walt Disney Pictures animated feature, The Aristocats, as Thomas O’Malley’s theme, “My Way’s the Highway,” before Terry Gilkyson’s “Thomas O’Malley Cat” was finally chosen.

All of the music was conducted by Disney Legend Tutti Camarata (with orchestrations most likely by Brian Fahey) at the Abbey Road Studios in London.


You know Abbey Road. It’s that road the Fab Four walk over on their famous album. But there’s more of a connection between The Beatles and the Orange Bird than that. All of the Orange Bird songs had the glorious vocal backing of The Mike Sammes Singers, with Mike himself doing the lead vocal on the bluesy “A Cat Don’t Like.” Recently, the MeloD23 Singers paid tribute to the original recordings when they performed two of the songs—one with Richard Sherman himself. (Have you seen the video?)

In the ‘60s and ‘70s, The Mike Sammes Singers were Europe’s “go-to” vocal group for the biggest names in the music business, including Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Olivia Newton-John, Judy Garland, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Tom Jones, and they were heard in TV shows, commercials and movie themes.

“They were incredible, so professional and versatile,” Tutti told me back in 2005. “I could go into Abbey Road in the morning and, the same evening, walk out with a huge stack of completed tapes under my arm.”

The Mike Sammes Singers even sang backup for The Beatles, on the songs “I Am the Walrus” and “Good Night.” How’s that for a cool connection?


Now when you visit Sunshine Tree Terrace for your Citrus Swirl, or pick up the latest Orange Bird merchandise in Adventureland, if you somehow hear a “goo-goo-g’joob” somewhere in the distance (or in your head), you’ll know why.

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Vintage Walt Disney World: Building The Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on April 19th, 2012 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center

In honor of 14 years of wild times at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, I thought it would be fun to take a closer look at the park’s icon, The Tree of Life.


This 145-foot tall tree is covered with approximately 103,000 leaves and has more than 325 animals intricately carved into its trunk. More than 8,000 branches spread foliage 160 feet wide over the park below.

The Tree of Life is home to the attraction “It’s Tough to be a Bug!” showcasing the stars of Disney·Pixar’s film “A Bug’s Life.” Even though I’ve seen the show a few dozen times, I still jump every time Hopper sends the stingers to attack – you’d think I’d be prepared.

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Thirteen Can Actually Be a Lucky Number at Disney Parks

posted on April 13th, 2012 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor

As we mark Friday the 13th today, many people will watch out for black cats crossing their paths and be mindful not to crack mirrors or walk under ladders. But while the number is considered unlucky by many, let’s take a look at 13 ways this prime number relates to Disney Parks. (By the way, in case you’re wondering – fear of Friday the 13th is called “Paraskevidekatriaphobia.”)

The grandfather clock in The Haunted Mansion features only one number on its face — 13.

On July 13, 1925, Walt Disney married Lillian Bounds in Lewiston, Idaho.

The Liberty Tree (pictured above) in Magic Kingdom Park features 13 lanterns hanging from its branches, one for each of the original U.S. colonies.

Millard Fillmore, our 13th U.S. President, is featured in the stirring presentation at The Hall of Presidents (also pictured above, across from The Liberty Tree).

Former NFL great Kurt Warner, who wore jersey #13 for the St. Louis Rams, announced to the world “I’m Going to Disneyland!” and “I’m Going to Disney World!” immediately after leading his team to a thrilling victory over the Tennessee Titans in the NFL championship game in 2000. Warner was the only person in 2000 to star in the famed Disney Parks commercial series.

“Alice in Wonderland” was Disney’s 13th full-length, animated feature film. Originally released in 1951, the film has inspired whimsical attractions, character dining experiences and more at the parks through the years.

One of the most famous Disney Parks “13s”: each time a guest “drops in” to the Hollywood Tower Hotel, they just might plummet 13 stories in a haunted service elevator.

While it may not be exactly “13,” many of the runDisney events are 13.1-mile half marathon events. With a variety of races held throughout the year at both Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort, these endurance events provide athletes 13.1 magical miles. (And while the 13 miles are magical, I expect the last .1 mile — the finish line — is the most magical of all.)

One of Disney’s famed “Nine Old Men,” Marc Davis, was born in 1913. He began at Disney in Animation. Later in his career, he became one of the company’s original Imagineers. Some of the Disney Parks attractions with Davis’ influence are some of the most beloved: The Enchanted Tiki Room, “it’s a small world,” Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion and Jungle Cruise.

“Brave,” premiering June 22, is the 13th Disney●Pixar full-length animated film.

The numeric street address for Disneyland Resort? 1313.

Muppet*Vision 3-D takes guests on a wild, 13-minute trip through Muppet Labs.

Donald Duck, our favorite fussy fowl, stars in a 1939 animated cartoon entitled “Donald’s Lucky Day,” which is set on Friday the 13th. Donald is a bicycle messenger who experiences his share of misfortune, thanks to several “bad luck” signs — a broken mirror, a black cat and the number 13 — as he tries to deliver a package to “1313 13th Street.” The cartoon was even released on January 13th, 1939 (which was Friday the 13th).

Do you have a favorite 13 above? Or do you know of another 13-related pieces of Disney Parks? If so, please share in the comments.

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Vintage Walt Disney World: Disneyland Resort Paris Marks 20 Years

posted on April 12th, 2012 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center

Today, Disneyland Resort Paris celebrates its 20th Anniversary, and it’s commemorating the occasion with a new parade, special décor, and shows, including the nighttime spectacular “Disney Dreams!” seen below.


Ear Force One flew over in celebration of the one-year countdown to the park’s opening. If you look towards the back of the photo, you can see Sleeping Beauty Castle just beginning to take form.

“DisneylandVintage Walt Disney World: It’s National Goof-Off Day

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Vintage Walt Disney World: Mr. & Mrs. Easter Bunny Visit Magic Kingdom Park

posted on April 5th, 2012 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center

Chocolate Bunnies. Jelly Beans. Eggs. Who doesn’t love a visit from the Easter Bunny? Back in March 1986, Mickey and Minnie (look at her Easter bonnet!) took some time out from their busy schedules to join Mr. & Mrs. Easter Bunny in Magic Kingdom Park.


The only question is, what was inside the giant Easter egg behind Mickey and Minnie? I’m hoping it was pure milk chocolate. Yum!

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Vintage Walt Disney World: Students Celebrate the Opening of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park

posted on March 29th, 2012 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center

On March 29, 1998, 1,300 performers (high school students) representing more than 15 different countries converged in Central Park to pull off one spectacular stunt to celebrate the upcoming opening of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.


Using “human animation” these performers brought a lion, dinosaur and fire-breathing dragon to life, each spanning approximately half a football field in length at Sheep Meadow inside Central Park. Taking months to choreograph, the stunt aired on “Good Morning America” and the Walt Disney World Easter Parade.


Many props were used to help bring these animals to life including three hundred pom-poms to create the lion’s mane and sixteen spikey flags for the dragon’s back.

And while that lion in Central Park is quite impressive, it doesn’t even hold a candle to the real lion I’ve seen while on my two-week adventure over at Kilimanjaro Safaris.

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A Personal Look Back: When Major League Baseball Came to the Mouse House

posted on March 28th, 2012 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor

As you read in Darrell’s post, 15 years ago, a new era was launched at Disney Parks when Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex opened at Walt Disney World Resort. To answer the question Darrell posed in his post, I was fortunate to attend the game and watch the Braves and Reds play under the stars. I was asked to jot down some memories that stuck with me from the event — an event dubbed a “Grand (Slam) Opening.”


Even though I was working that evening, I was excited as any sports fan as I walked into the pristine stadium. I bent down and touched the grass in front of the dugout and was instantly reminded of my own Little League days.


I was one of the PR cast members assigned to gather quotes to provide to visiting news media in the press box. I remember talking to legendary Braves manager Bobby Cox in the dugout. I listened as he likened the facilities to a brand-new luxury automobile about to be driven for the first time. I heard the crack of a bat and looked behind me to see Braves star Chipper Jones (pictured above during the evening’s introductions) fielding ground balls right outside the dugout. I remember talking with Braves starting pitcher Greg Maddux as he warmed up in the bullpen. Soon, skydivers descended onto the field and fireworks filled the night air. It was time to “Play Ball.”

A capacity crowd watched the Braves beat the Reds 9-7. Reds outfielder Deion Sanders, one of the greatest athletes in pro sports, holds the honor of recording the first hit, stealing the first base and scoring the first run in the complex’s history. Fred McGriff of the Braves smacked the complex’s first home run that night as well.


Fifteen years later, a lot has changed. Cox and Maddux, both future Baseball Hall of Famers, have retired. McGriff, who hails from nearby Tampa, also has retired. Sanders was enshrined into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2011. The Reds shortstop in that 1997 game, Barry Larkin (pictured above, prior to the inaugural game), will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer. And just last week, Chipper Jones announced his retirement at the very same stadium he helped open 15 years ago.

The biggest changes, though, have come with the growth of the sports complex. Now known as ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, there are more sports, more fields and courts, more athletes and more competitions than ever before. Athletes of all ages come every year to “play at the next level.”

I can only imagine what memories young athletes have when they train and compete at the 270-acre facility. For me, my greatest memory was 15 years ago as I watched the boys of summer first play in Mickey’s backyard.

If you were at the Grand (Slam) Opening in 1997, be sure to let us know in the comments.

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