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Vintage Walt Disney World: Fountain of Nations Dedication at Epcot

posted on October 24th, 2013 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Thirty-one years ago today, The International Ceremony of the Waters and dedication of Fountain of Nations at Epcot in Future World took place. Cultural representatives, selected by their countries, traveled to Epcot with a container of water from their nation and poured it into the fountain during the dedication.

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Twenty-five bodies of water representing 29 nations were poured into the fountain. The Senagambia River brought from Africa represented eight African nations and the mighty Mississippi River represented the United States in the ceremony.

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The fountain holds 149,000 gallons of water with 30,000 gallons cascading over its tiered sides every minute. Today, 200 pneumatic shooters help create dancing waters to various Disney musical selections for guests to enjoy.

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Windows on Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland Park: Hideo Amemiya

posted on October 23rd, 2013 by Jon Storbeck, Vice President, Disneyland Park


“Life is a journey, not a destination,” said Hideo Amemiya, a thirty-year Disneyland Resort cast member, and one of its most distinguished and beloved senior leaders.

Hideo joined The Walt Disney Company in 1971 at the Polynesian Village at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. With a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management, Hideo successfully integrated the Disney service philosophies with practical hotel management. “When Walt Disney World opened, the Magic Kingdom Park and its operational standards were modeled after the original Disneyland in California,” Hideo recalled. “However, it took some time for true Disney philosophy to become integrated into a hotel operation.”

Hideo was director of resort operations at Walt Disney World Resort prior to joining the opening team for Tokyo Disneyland. “I assisted Disney and the Oriental Land Company, owner and operator of Tokyo Disneyland, during the negotiations to ensure that there was a clear understanding on both sides. I also assisted Walt Disney Imagineering in discussions with our artists and designers for a clearer understanding of the Japanese culture so that the portrayals of the culture could be properly produced.”

Hideo held several executive positions at Tokyo Disneyland, before coming to Anaheim where he was vice president and general manager of the Disneyland Resort hotels. In 2000, he was promoted to senior vice president of Disneyland Resort hotels and was responsible for the overall operations and the 7,000 cast members at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, the Disneyland Hotel, and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel.

Hideo was a man of wit, energy and vision whose enthusiasm for Disney projects never flagged. His zeal was contagious; he never had trouble getting people on board with his projects. An active community member, Hideo was involved with many business and civic organizations, serving on the board of directors of the Anaheim Visitor and Convention Bureau and the Anaheim Hotel-Motel Association.

Windows on Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland Park: Hideo Amemiya

Hideo passed away in February 2001. That same year, he was honored with a window on Main Street, U.S.A., above Disney Showcase in Town Square. His window aptly reads: Happiest Dreams on Earth, International School of Hospitality, Hideo Amemiya, Headmaster, “We put people first”

In 2005, Hideo was named a Disney Legend for his many contributions to The Walt Disney Company.

For more about the windows on Main Street U.S.A. at Disneyland Resort, click the links below:

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Step in Time: America Goes on Parade at Magic Kingdom Park

posted on October 21st, 2013 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager


This week, we’re taking a look back at “America On Parade,” a procession that brought American history to life on Main Street, U.S.A., at Magic Kingdom Park in honor of the United States Bicentennial celebration.

'America on Parade' at Magic Kingdom Park in 1975

The parade ran from June 6, 1975, to September 6, 1976, and was the park’s largest daily procession yet, featuring more than 150 performers and 50 floats, which showcased some of the nation’s major historical milestones, like the invention of the car, the first airplane flight and the moon landing.

Mickey, Donald and Goofy led the parade atop a Spirit of ‘76 float. A series of 8-foot-tall People of America characters, each representing historical figures such as Christopher Columbus, Betsy Ross and Benjamin Franklin, followed along on floats that recreated their milestone moment in American history. The finale of the parade was punctuated by a Celebration of Independence float that featured Lady Liberty and Uncle Sam.

One particularly unique aspect of the parade was its soundtrack, which blended the sound of an antique band organ with a modern synthesizer. The music featured new arrangements for “Oh Susanna” and “Turkey in the Straw” which were recorded from a 300-pipe, 19th century military trumpet organ called the Sadie Mae of St. Louis at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Additionally the legendary composing duo, the Sherman Brothers, were hired to write an original song for the parade called “The Glorious Fourth.”

Do you remember this parade? Tell us what you enjoyed about it in the “Comments” section below.

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Step in Time: ‘Cavalcade of Characters’ Kicks Off at Magic Kingdom Park in 1974

posted on October 14th, 2013 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager


When Magic Kingdom Park opened its doors in 1971, the park’s first “Character Parade” stepped off with it. In 1974, Entertainment took daily entertainment to a new level by introducing the park’s first new parade with the launch of “Cavalcade of Characters.”
‘Cavalcade of Characters’ At Magic Kingdom Park

Mickey kicked off the “Cavalcade” traveling on foot down Main Street, U.S.A., followed by Alice, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, and Walrus from “Alice In Wonderland.” Donald Duck rode in on Main Street’s antique fire engine, while Goofy and Pluto followed along, balloons in hand. The Dwarfs from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” followed in a line, with Snow White appearing on a small wishing well-themed float. A Casey Jr. train chugged in next with King Richard the lion (“Robin Hood”) playing a pipe organ and Minnie waving from the caboose. Other friends from the 1973-release “Robin Hood” – Prince John, Sheriff of Nottingham and Friar Tuck – followed behind. Captain Hook rode in on a mini pirate ship, which resembled the attraction vehicle at Peter Pan’s Flight. Winnie the Pooh and his friends came next, followed (no doubt to Pooh’s delight) by a giant “Hunny Pot” float.

One especially striking appearance for us Disney history fans was Little Toot, the tugboat character from the 1940 short “Little Toot”, who appeared in the form of a mini float.

‘Cavalcade of Characters’ At Magic Kingdom Park Elliott from 'Pete's Dragon'

The “Cavalcade of Characters” parade ended in 1975 to make way for “America On Parade” which would celebrate the United States bicentennial. “Cavalcade of Characters” returned in 1977-1978, with a few enhancements, including two additional floats for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, an appearance by Herbie the Love Bug, and the addition of Elliott from the newly released “Pete’s Dragon” film. A “Mickey Mouse Club” section was also added, featuring two oversized red drums, dancers with flags, and Mickey Mouse waving from atop a float.

For more from the “Step in Time” series, check out the posts below:

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Vintage Walt Disney World: Characters Dress For Halloween

posted on October 10th, 2013 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Halloween is only a few weeks away! Do you have a costume yet? Here’s some help from a Heffalump. Just grab a mask! It’s quick, easy, adorably cute and (in this case) retro – 1977, to be exact!
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The History of the Disneyland Monorail: Mark I, 1959-1961

posted on October 8th, 2013 by Erin Glover, Editorial Content Director, Disneyland Resort


The Disneyland Monorail has always been a favorite attraction of mine, much like the Disneyland Railroad. These two iconic attractions are a great escape and offer fantastic views of Disneyland park. I had so much fun writing and researching the ‘Meet the Steam Engines of the Disneyland Railroad’ series, I thought it would be fun to start a spin-off on the history of the Disneyland Monorail! The Mark VII currently transports guests from Tomorrowland to the Downtown Disney District and back, but today we’re going to start at the very beginning – the Mark I.

The Disneyland Alweg Mark I Monorail and the Disneyland Railroad

During the development of Disneyland, a monorail system was planned to be part of the opening of Tomorrowland. Unfortunately, Walt Disney and his team of Imagineers could not find a suitable version to make this dream a reality. It wasn’t until 1958 when two of his Imagineers introduced Walt to a monorail created by the Alweg Corporation in Germany did he see the potential of bringing this system to his original Magic Kingdom. Rather than the traditional suspended-track design, the Alweg Corporation had created a unique straddle-beam track. The benefit of this slender design allowed the beam to blend perfectly with the surrounding landscape in Walt’s world of “tomorrow.” Walt also loved the combination of electric propulsion and rubber wheels on the beam that produced an almost noiseless operation – preventing distraction for guests on the attraction or near it.

The Disneyland Alweg Monorail Station in Tomorrowland

Walt Disney asked Alweg to design the original 8/10-mile beamway around Tomorrowland and enlisted a young designer, Bob Gurr, to design the train. With this collaboration, the Disneyland Alweg Monorail System opened on June 14, 1959, as the first daily operating monorail system in the Western Hemisphere. This “Highway in Sky” featured two trains, each with 3 cabins and the now-iconic bubble top in front. Walt Disney’s hope was not only to provide a scenic journey above Disneyland, but to create a solution for mass transportation needs all around the world. However, the Disneyland Alweg Monorail System was purely an entertainment attraction when it opened and didn’t function as transportation for guests until 1961 … but we’ll save that story for the next installment!

Now for a bit of trivia … Where can you find a tribute to the Mark I Monorail at the Disneyland Resort today? Leave your answer in the comments!

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Step in Time: A Grand Opening (Parade) For Magic Kingdom Park, 1971

posted on October 7th, 2013 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager


The opening of Magic Kingdom Park in 1971 was a joyous occasion – with a three-day grand opening ceremony to match! One of the highlights was the park’s official Grand Opening Parade, which stepped off with style at 2 p.m. on October 25.
Step In Time: A Grand Opening (Parade) For Magic Kingdom Park, 1971

Step In Time: A Grand Opening (Parade) For Magic Kingdom Park, 1971 Step In Time: A Grand Opening (Parade) For Magic Kingdom Park, 1971

First up, a small marching band dressed in red and white uniforms played “The Mickey Mouse Club March,” while Mickey Mouse kept the beat on an over-size drum. A large cast of Disney characters followed, including: Dumbo (“Dumbo”); Queen of Hearts and White Rabbit (“Alice In Wonderland”); Thumper and Flower (“Bambi”); Gepetto and Honest John (“Pinocchio”); Snow White, the Seven Dwarfs and the Queen (“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”); the Aristocats (“Aristocats”); and Winnie the Pooh, Heffalumps and friends (“Winnie the Pooh” featurettes). A fleet of marching toy soldiers followed, trailed by waltzing alligators and hippos from “Fantasia.”

A highlight of the parade took place when the Herald Trumpeters of the United States Army Band lined the top of the buildings on Main Street, U.S.A., to signal the arrival of a 1,076-member marching band. This line of marching musicians, directed by “The Music Man” composer Meredith Willson, stretched from the park’s main entrance all the way to Cinderella Castle and played “76 Trombones.” A mass choir then appeared on the castle stage to join the band in “When You Wish Upon A Star.”

During the last verse, larger-than-life drums that lined the parade route were opened to release 50,000 multicolored balloons. Simply amazing!

Would you believe that some of the cast members who originally designed this parade still work for Walt Disney World Resort more than 40 years later? Check out the video below to see what one had to say about this must-see moment in Magic Kingdom Park history.

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Vintage Walt Disney World: Daredevil Circus Spectacular at Epcot

posted on October 3rd, 2013 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Today back in 1955, the “Mickey Mouse Club” debuted on ABC. Thursdays on the “Mickey Mouse Club” used to be Circus Day. With today being Thursday, let’s celebrate Circus Day by journeying back to Epcot in 1987 when a circus with “intergalactic thrills” entertained guests in Future World four times a day.

Epcot’s Daredevil Circus Spectacular

With a “center ring” 400 feet in diameter and Spaceship Earth as its backdrop, the Daredevil Circus Spectacular brought an “international cast of spine-tingling acts” to Epcot for a 30-minute show.

Tightrope Walker at Epcot's Daredevil Circus Spectacular in 1987 Trapeze Troupe at Epcot's Daredevil Circus Spectacular in 1987

Known as a “cosmic thrill show, like no circus in the universe,” Daredevil Circus Spectacular included elephants, acrobats, motorcyclists, the Wheel of Destiny, a tightrope walker and a nine-member trapeze troupe. Maybe a little too “death-defying” for Circus Day on the “Mickey Mouse Club,” but non-stop, action packed fun at Epcot.

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A Look Back at Celebrated Disneyland Resort Guests: Groucho Marx – 1955

posted on October 2nd, 2013 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


On this day in 1890, a legendary Hollywood icon, Groucho Marx, was born. In a show business career that spanned vaudeville, motion pictures and television, Groucho is widely recognized as one of the most influential entertainers of the 20th century. To this day, novelty “Groucho glasses,” including iconic eyebrows, nose and mustache, remain an instantly recognizable tribute to this entertainment giant.

Pictured here with his daughter, Melinda, on the dock of the Mark Twain Riverboat in the fall of 1955, we believe it is the only time Groucho visited Disneyland park.

I reached out to Melinda about her memories of that day, and she was very happy to see this photo after all these years. She was nine years old when it was taken and she remembers being “obsessed” with Peter Pan at the time – even pretending to be Wendy!
A Look Back at Celebrated Disneyland Resort Guests: Groucho Marx - 1955

 
Read on for more posts in the “Celebrated Disneyland Resort Guests” series:

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Step in Time: The First ‘Character Parades’ at Magic Kingdom Park

posted on September 30th, 2013 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager


What do you love about parades?

For me, parades are like a moving celebration of some of the happiest and grandest things in life. And no one does them better than Disney Parks!

The tradition of having parades at Magic Kingdom Park goes back to when the turnstiles opened October 1, 1971. And as we shared earlier this year, a new procession, Disney’s Festival of Fantasy Parade, will debut in spring 2014 at the park. In the meantime, we’re going to celebrate the parades that have marched so much joy into Magic Kingdom Park over the years: The parades we grew up with, the ones we wish we would’ve been around to see, and the ones with music that just made us smile.

Step in Time: The First ‘Character Parades’ at Magic Kingdom Park

SStep in Time: The First ‘Character Parades’ at Magic Kingdom Park

This week, we’re taking a look at the very first parade to ever step off at Magic Kingdom Park. It was called the “Character Parade” and ran from October 1 – December 9, 1971, at 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., daily. The park’s first parade didn’t feature the huge floats we’re familiar with today, but instead started as a mix of Disney characters, musicians and antique cars. Mickey Mouse kicked off the parade, leading in a red uniformed marching band. The dwarfs from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” followed, carrying balloons. Minnie appeared next, riding in one of the park’s yellow antique cars with the Dapper Dans. Other characters who made an appearance included: Dumbo from “Dumbo”; Walrus from “Alice In Wonderland”; Thumper and Flower from “Bambi”; Baloo and King Louie from “The Jungle Book”; and Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Pigs.

In 1972, the park celebrated “Pooh for President” by adding a patriotic-themed float for Winnie the Pooh, who was followed by his friends Tigger and Eeyore, and a fife and drum corp. The parade was also plussed up for Mother’s Day that year, with characters marching the parade route with special Mother’s Day cards.

Which Magic Kingdom Park parade would you love to see featured here? Tell us in the “Comments” section below.

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