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Remembering Annette Funicello at Disneyland Park

posted on April 8th, 2013 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


As you may know, Annette Funicello was discovered by Walt Disney himself while attending an amateur program at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank when she was just 13 years old. That single meeting led to one of the most enduring associations in show business history.

Earlier today, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger spoke for all of us at Disney when he said, “Annette was and always will be a cherished member of the Disney family, synonymous with the word Mouseketeer, and a true Disney Legend. She will forever hold a place in our hearts as one of Walt Disney’s brightest stars, delighting an entire generation of baby boomers with her jubilant personality and endless talent. Annette was well known for being as beautiful inside as she was on the outside, and she faced her physical challenges with dignity, bravery and grace. All of us at Disney join with family, friends, and fans around the world in celebrating her extraordinary life.”

The Mickey Mouse Club made its television debut on the opening day of Disneyland park, July 17, 1955. During countless appearances in the years that followed, Annette, now a television star, also became a familiar face at Disneyland park. In fact, some of the earliest pictures in our photo archive are of her.

We’ve pulled together some of our favorite photos of Annette through the years and are pleased to share them with you as we remember this very special lady who was so dear to so many.

Annette Funicello at Disneyland Park, July 17, 1955

Where it all began, July 17, 1955, at Disneyland park.

Annette Funicello with Princess Sophia from Greece at Disneyland Park

In 1958, Annette welcomed Princess Sophia from Greece.

Annette Funicello in a Publicity Photo at Disneyland Park

That same year, this publicity photo for a new record was taken at Disneyland park.

Annette Funicello in a Publicity Photo at Disneyland Park

Here is another publicity photo, taken perhaps for “Tall Paul.”

Annette Funicello with a Fan at Disneyland Park

Annette always had time for her fans.

Annette Funicello at Disneyland Park

Annette has a “Date Nite” at Disneyland park in November 1959.

Annette Funicello Channels Peter Pan at Skull Rock in Disneyland Park, 1961

Annette channels Peter Pan at Skull Rock in 1961.

Annette Funicello in a Publicity Photo at Disneyland Park

This very rare photo of Annette in Town Square at Disneyland park was taken to promote a potential TV special, which was unfortunately never produced.

Annette Funicello at a 1968 Mouseketeer Reunion at Disneyland Park

In 1968, Annette reunited with her fellow Mouseketeers for a special appearance at Disneyland park.

Annette Funicello with her Family at Disneyland Park

Annette returned with her family in the 1970s.

Annette Funicello at Disneyland Park, 1993

Annette met two Disney Princesses during her 1993 visit.

Annette Funicello at Disneyland Park, 1996

The final photo of Annette in our archive was taken in 1996 alongside her longtime co-star, Frankie Avalon, during a special cavalcade on Main Street, U.S.A.

Every photo of this Disney Legend seems to capture her grace, her talent, her warmth and her kindness – all the qualities which make it easy to understand what caught the eye of Walt Disney during that amateur program nearly six decades ago.

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Remembering Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel at Disneyland Park

posted on April 8th, 2013 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


With the sad news of the passing of film critic Roger Ebert last week, I wanted to share some rarely seen photographs from our archives of Roger and his longtime “Siskel & Ebert” partner, the late Gene Siskel, taken at Disneyland park over the years.

Roger Ebert and Mickey Mouse Inside Tour Gardens Next to Disneyland City Hall in the Summer of 1997

This photo of Roger and Mickey Mouse was taken in the summer of 1997 inside Tour Gardens next to Disneyland City Hall.

Gene Siskel Meets Up With Mickey Mouse at Sleeping Beauty Castle in February of 1989

In this photo, taken in February of 1989, Gene Siskel meets up with Mickey at Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Their long-running television program was one of the first syndicated television shows under Disney’s Buena Vista Television Group (later renamed Disney-ABC Domestic Television). Credited for bringing critical discussions about the movies to the masses, “Siskel & Ebert” debuted in 1986 and ran for nearly 25 years under various names, and always with the iconic “thumbs-up, thumbs down” verdict on every film discussed.

If you’ve ever wondered how they decided to call the show “Siskel & Ebert” and not “Ebert & Siskel,” the one-time rivals-turned-friends said that despite Roger being slightly older and a Pulitzer Prize winner, and despite the fact that “E” comes before “S” in the alphabet, the answer is really quite simple: a coin toss.

As someone who enjoyed reading Roger and Gene through the years and always looked forward to their impassioned discussions of the latest films every week on television, it’s hard to imagine another film critic duo coming along to fill their shoes anytime soon, so, to borrow their phrase from the end of each show, “Until then, the balcony is closed.”

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Vintage Walt Disney World Resort: Building a Theater in the Wild

posted on April 4th, 2013 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Since opening in 1998, Theater in the Wild has been home to three different productions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Below is an aerial view of the theater when the park was still under construction back in September 1997.
Theater in the Wild at Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney Wold Resort, September 1997
Originally an open-air amphitheater, Theater in the Wild brought The Jungle Book to life from Walt Disney Feature Animation in Journey into Jungle Book. Mowgli, Baloo, King Louie and more sang, danced and retold the story in this 30-minute stage show.
Theater in the Wild at Disney's Animal Kingdom Brought 'The Jungle Book' to Life with Journey into Jungle Book at Walt Disney World Resort
Premiering July 9, 1999, Tarzan Rocks! opened. With singers, dancers, gymnasts, aerialists and in-line skaters joining Tarzan, Jane and Terk this show celebrated the movie’s soundtrack along with amazing stunts and spectacular costumes.
'Tarzan Rocks' Premiered at Theater in the Wild at Disney's Animal Kingdom in July 1999
Now home to Finding Nemo-The Musical, Theater in the Wild continues to bring Broadway caliber entertainment to guests of Disney’s Animal Kingdom every day.
Theater in the Wild at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Now Home to Finding Nemo – The Musical at Walt Disney World Resort

Excited about the park’s anniversary? Join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #DAK15.

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This Week in Disney History: The First Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Debuted at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on April 2nd, 2013 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


This week in Disney history is an important one for Disney Princess fans – in 2006, for the first time, young guests began receiving royal transformations, thanks to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and its team of Fairy Godmothers-In-Training.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Walt Disney World Resort

In case you haven’t dropped by, here’s how it works. First, young princesses ages 3-12 have their choice of three hairstyles: Fairytale Princess, Disney Diva or Pop Princess. Then they choose from a variety of packages that include hairstyling, makeup, a princess sash and tote, and plenty of other royal “extras.” Boys can also stop in to be transformed with The Knight Package, which includes hairstyling with colored gel, and a sword and shield. Additional merchandise and photography options are also available.

There are now two Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique locations at Walt Disney World Resort: at Downtown Disney, and in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park. (There are also one in Sleeping Beauty Courtyard at the Disneyland Resort and one aboard the Disney Fantasy cruise ship).

If you’d like to check it out for yourself, reservations are recommended for both locations, and appointments can be made up to 180 days in advance by calling 407-WDW-STYLE (407-939-7895).

Has your little one received a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique transformation? Let us know in the “Comments” section below.

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A Look Back: 1958 Opening of the Grand Canyon Diorama at Disneyland Park

posted on March 29th, 2013 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


“Opening

Fifty-five years ago this Sunday, a new route was discovered on the Disneyland Railroad: the Grand Canyon. The 306-foot-long diorama, which features the work of prolific scenic artist Delmer Yoakum, was described at the time as the “longest diorama in the world.”
“Opening

During the opening ceremony on March 31, 1958, Walt Disney was joined by his longtime friend Santa Fe Railroad Chairman, Fred Gurley — the namesake of our very own Engine No. 3, which began its service only three days earlier and was officially dedicated the same day.
“Opening

Just beyond the Tomorrowland Train Station, outside the tunnel that houses the diorama, the ceremony featured members of the Hopi tribe, including Chief Negangnewa, who performed a blessing.
“Opening

Among the rare photos from this special day, and one of my personal favorites, is a picture of Walt and Mr. Gurley chatting with the boy who participated in the ceremony. As you can see in this photo, Walt never seemed happier than when he was around the young or the young at heart, or whenever trains were involved!
“Opening

If you’re a fan of the Disneyland Railroad, or the Grand Canyon Diorama, my colleague, Paul Hiffmeyer, shared a really great photo he took of the diorama back in 2010 that you should also check out here.

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Vintage Walt Disney World: Building an Animal Kingdom

posted on March 28th, 2013 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


In April, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will celebrate its 15th anniversary. We’re celebrating here at “Vintage Walt Disney World” by taking a look back at this one-of-a-kind theme park over the next four weeks.
Disney's Animal Kingdom Opened on April 22, 1998

Sprawling across approximately 500 acres, Disney’s Animal Kingdom brought the world of animals (both alive and pre-historic) to life for guests at Walt Disney World Resort when it opened in 1998. Below is a look at an aerial view from the park’s entrance in September 1997. (Look closely in the distance; you’ll even see Magic Kingdom Park.)
An Aerial View of Disney's Animal Kingdom Seven Months Before It Opened

Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened with over 40,000 mature trees – 16,000 of them grown right at the Walt Disney World Tree Farm. There were roughly 2,000 species of shrubs and 260 different types of grasses throughout the park, too. Below is a look at the icon of the park, The Tree of Life, still under construction in January 1997.
The Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom Under Construction in January 1997

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the first Walt Disney World Resort theme park where the show literally eats the landscape. And by the look of those numbers above, it’s quite the buffet for our animal friends to enjoy.

Excited about the park’s anniversary? Join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #DAK15.


Check out more posts about Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

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Windows on Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland Park: Bob Gurr

posted on March 21st, 2013 by Jon Storbeck, Vice President, Disneyland Park


“If it moves on wheels at Disneyland, I probably designed it,” said Bob Gurr, retired Imagineer and Disney Legend. In his Disney career of nearly 40 years, he helped develop more than 100 designs for vehicles ranging from turn-of-the-century Main Street vehicles, sleek bobsleds for the Matterhorn, the cars of Autopia, the futuristic Monorail and more.

Since his youth, Bob was fascinated with tools, mechanical devices and cars. His association with Disney began in 1954, when he was asked to consult on the design of Autopia ride vehicles. Walt Disney was so impressed with Bob’s knowledge and skill that he invited him to join WED Enterprises, today known as Walt Disney Imagineering. Bob went on to design one-of-a-kind vehicles, versions of which are now in use at every Disney theme park resort property around the world. He also helped design the mechanical workings of Disney’s first advanced Audio-Animatronics human figure, Abraham Lincoln, featured in Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.

Following his retirement in 1981, Bob continued to consult on Disney projects, including the giant Ursula creature featured at Tokyo DisneySea. In 1999, he was honored with the Themed Entertainment Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Bob was named a Disney Legend in 2004.

Windows on Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland Park: Bob Gurr

Five years ago this month, Bob was honored with a Window on Main Street, U.S.A., above Disney Clothiers, Ltd. The inscription, “Leading the Race to the Future – Meteor Cycle Co. – Our vehicles pass the test of time – Fast, Faultless and Fadless,” is a reference to Bob’s legacy and his love of mountain biking. At the window dedication ceremony, Bob shared that he had enjoyed many memorable days at Disneyland including opening day, the day in 1959 when he gave Vice President Richard Nixon the first trip on the Monorail, and now, this day would be added as “frosting on the cake.”

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Vintage Walt Disney World: Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village Opens

posted on March 21st, 2013 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


This week back in 1975, shopping took on a whole new meaning as the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village (you might know it as the Downtown Disney Marketplace) opened.
Vintage Walt Disney World: Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village Opens
The LBV Shopping Village was home to shops such as Toys Fantastique, The Flower Garden and The Pottery Chalet pictured below. What I wouldn’t give to purchase a treasure offered at The Pottery Chalet today!
Vintage Walt Disney World: Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village Opens
Although the area has grown and changed over the years, it’s still a great place to spend the day shopping, dining, and playing at Downtown Disney.

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Vintage Walt Disney World: Mickey Celebrates St. Patty’s Day

posted on March 14th, 2013 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Even though St. Patrick’s Day isn’t until Sunday, it’s never too early to send some luck your way from Vintage Walt Disney World. Here’s a look at Mickey Mouse all decked out for the holiday back in 1978. Be safe. Have fun. And the luck of the Irish to ya!
Mickey Celebrates St. Patrick’s Day at Magic Kingdom Park in 1978

 
Read on for more “Vintage Walt Disney World”:

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Vintage Walt Disney World: What’s Your Ticket?

posted on March 7th, 2013 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


To this day whenever I get a ticket at Walt Disney World Resort, I immediately look to see who’s on it. I’m not going to lie, I’m always hoping for Mickey Mouse (He’s been my favorite since I can remember). If you’re anything like me, you save your tickets from all sorts of events. I still have my ticket from my very first visit to Walt Disney World Resort.
Vintage Walt Disney World: What’s Your Ticket?

I was unsure why my Mom wrote my hometown and name on my ticket, so I called and asked her. Her response, “You expect me to remember what I did in 1988?” I’m guessing it was just in case I lost it (I can’t imagine she let a 10-year-old be responsible for his own ticket). Here’s a look at some tickets throughout the years from Walt Disney World Resort. (This is not a comprehensive look.)


See below for more “Vintage Walt Disney World”:

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