Halloween at Walt Disney World Resort

Animating the Disney Parks: Marc Davis

posted on September 10th, 2012 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


Disney Legend Marc Davis

So far, we’ve covered how Claude Coats and Herb Ryman brought their skills as artists to the creation of the Disneyland Resort; this week, we finish the “Animating the Disney Parks” series with a look at the contributions of Disney Legend and animator Marc Davis. At D23’s Destination D event last month, Imagineer Tom Morris shared insights and remembrances about this remarkable artist.

One of Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men, Marc Davis started with Disney in 1935 as an animator on “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” He went on to create iconic Disney characters like Bambi, Cinderella and Tinker Bell. When the time came to develop Disneyland, Davis brought his skills in story and character development to bring attractions to life within the park.
Artwork for Pirates of the Caribbean by Disney Legend Marc Davis

“If the parks didn’t have great animators from the Walt Disney Studio,” Morris said, “I don’t think Disneyland would be what it is today.” Davis, he said, approached an attraction like Pirates of the Caribbean through the eyes of an animator and storyteller.

“I drew every scene you see there as an animator would,” Davis once said regarding the attraction – whose characters were brought to life with the help of his wife and fellow Disney Legend, Alice Davis.
Artwork for the Jungle Cruise by Disney Legend Marc Davis

Davis also brought his animator’s eye to attractions like “it’s a small world,” Haunted Mansion and Jungle Cruise. Two scenes personally added by Davis to the Jungle Cruise – the elephant pool and the trapped safari – have become guest favorites throughout the attraction’s 57-year history.

Check out the other posts in the “Animating the Disney Parks” series:

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Epcot Photo Flashback: Kitchen Kabaret Cooks!

posted on September 10th, 2012 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


We know that many of you are fans of early Epcot history, and in honor of the park’s upcoming 30th anniversary, we’re starting the celebration early by sharing Epcot Photo Flashbacks with you each Monday through October 1.

I first set foot in Epcot (then Epcot Center) when I was 7 years old. I remember feeling wowed at the glimpses of the future that were offered in attractions like Horizons, World of Motion, Living with the Land, and The Living Seas. But in my opinion, no attraction offered more fun than Kitchen Kabaret!
Kitchen Kabaret in The Land Pavilion at Epcot

This attraction was housed in The Land Pavilion and starred a cast of quirky characters who sang, danced, and told jokes to prove that good nutrition was also fun. Hosted by Bonnie Appetit, the kitchen came alive with singing cereal boxes, a crooning carton of milk, toe-tapping toast and much more. Who didn’t love the wisecracks served up by the comedic duo of Hamm & Eggz? Or Colander Combo and Fiesta Fruit’s signature song, “Veggie Fruit-Fruit”? Sing it with me: “There are no substitutes for we veggie, fruit-fruit, veggie-veggie, fruit-fruit…!”

For the latest on the 30th anniversary of Epcot, be sure to follow @WaltDisneyWorld on Twitter, and join the conversation with the hashtag #Epcot30.

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This Week in Disney History: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Debuted in 1927

posted on September 8th, 2012 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Eighty-five years ago this week, Walt Disney’s first major animated character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, made his silver-screen debut in the short, “Trolley Troubles.”

Although Walt lost the rights to the character of Oswald in a business deal with his distributor in 1928, the loss inspired him to create a new character that quickly became a smashing success – Mickey Mouse.

In 2006, The Walt Disney Company regained the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and the character has since found new fame in the Disney Epic Mickey video game. (Incidentally, Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two will be released in stores November 18.)

Town Square Theater at Magic Kingdom Park

Oswald also made his first appearance at Walt Disney World Resort in 2011, in this little detail that appears in Mickey’s dressing room at the new Mickey Mouse character greeting in Town Square Theater at Magic Kingdom Park.

Happy anniversary, Oswald!

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Vintage Epcot: A Return to Seabase Alpha

posted on September 6th, 2012 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


I’m a huge fan of The Seas with Nemo & Friends attraction at Epcot where you can interact with the stars of the hit Disney•Pixar film, but there is one thing I miss about the original The Living Seas Pavilion – the hydrolater.

The Hydrolater, Part of the Original The Living Seas Pavilion at Epcot

Iconic to The Living Seas Pavilion, this 20 passenger capsule elevator took guests on a 30-second trip to the ocean floor where they experienced water rushing by as electronic indicators measured the progress of their decent while the floor beneath them was shaking.

The Living Seas Pavilion at Epcot

This 185,000 square-foot pavilion that opened in 1986 is home to a coral reef environment that holds 5.7 million gallons of seawater. When guests disembarked at Seabase Alpha (now known just as Seabase), they explored a model undersea research facility.

The Living Seas Pavilion at Epcot

The previous queue at The Living Seas had artifacts that had a more nautical feel than the beach queue guests encounter today.

The Living Seas Pavilion at Epcot

While saying “dude” as much as possible is today’s norm when leaving The Seas with Nemo & Friends attraction, I still like to yell out “the deluge” when it downpours here in Florida. Those two words are still memorable all these years later from the original The Living Seas preshow.

As the 30th anniversary of Epcot approaches, read more about the history of the park in the posts below:

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Animating the Disney Parks: Herb Ryman

posted on September 4th, 2012 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


Walt Disney and Disney Legend Herb Ryman

Last week, I told you about a presentation I attended during the recent D23’s Destination D – “Animating the Disney Parks.” We’ve already learned about Claude Coats and how he brought his talents as a Disney artist to designing Disneyland. Today we’ll take a look at Disney Legend Herb Ryman, as remembered by former Imagineer Eddie Sotto at D23’s Destination D event.

Disneyland Concept Art Designed by Disney Legend Herb Ryman

An art director and designer, Ryman was hired by Walt Disney in 1954 to create the original concept drawings for Disneyland. Walt needed something for his brother, Roy Disney, to show to investors during his initial pitches for the new park.

“Herb was a place master,” remembered Sotto. He understood production design and used historical context to bring real meaning to the places he created at Disneyland. When designing Sleeping Beauty Castle, he visited the famous Neuschwanstein castle in Germany; his visits to New Orleans during the development of New Orleans Square brought a realism to the area.

New Orleans Square Rendering Designed by Disney Legend Herb Ryman

Ryman’s work was “placemaking of the highest order,” according to Sotto, who went on to say that it was his understanding of soul and emotion that made the places he created believable. Ryman knew that life is what informs action – “It’s not just places; it’s what we do in the places” that matters, Sotto said.

Sotto remembered that Ryman was known for this piece of advice: “Be specifically vague.” He meant that designers should create something that anyone could relate to. “He allowed us to see ourselves there,” recalled Sotto.

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Vintage Epcot: A Look Back at Epcot’s CommuniCore

posted on August 30th, 2012 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


In honor of the 30th anniversary of Epcot on October 1, my “Vintage Walt Disney World” column will turn “Vintage Epcot” for the next five weeks.

Oftentimes in my job, I wish there was a fountain of information somewhere that could give me answers to every question asked to me. If I had worked at Epcot in the ’80s, I could have just visited CommuniCore, where the Fountain of Information (pictured below) actually existed!
Fountain of Information in CommuniCore at Epcot in the 1980s

Before Innoventions, there was CommuniCore. Short for “Community Core,” this group of interactive exhibits invited guests to participate in experiencing the future.
CommuniCore at Epcot in the 1980s

Some of the exhibits guests could enjoy were Epcot Computer Central (pictured below), Energy Exchange, FutureCom, Electronic Forum and TravelPort.
Epcot Computer Central in CommuniCore at Epcot in the 1980s

Need to know the current U.S. Population? Who needs the census? CommuniCore had an up-to-date count of just how big the country was getting.
The U.S. Population Counter in CommuniCore at Epcot in the 1980s

If only the Computer Central could see our smartphones of today, it would be astounded.

Follow @WaltDisneyWorld for the latest on Epcot’s 30th anniversary. To join the discussion on Twitter, use the hashtag #Epcot30.

Read more about the history of Epcot in the posts below:

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Animating the Disney Parks: Claude Coats

posted on August 27th, 2012 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend D23’s Destination D at the Disneyland Hotel. I listened to a fascinating presentation, “Animating the Disney Parks,” featuring Eddie Sotto and Imagineers Tony Baxter and Tom Morris. Each Imagineer shared the story of how legendary Disney animators and artists became the first Imagineers during the early development of Disneyland and then the Walt Disney World Resort.

“Claude

Tony Baxter, Walt Disney Imagineering senior vice president of creative development, got the discussion started with the story of his mentor, Claude Coats. Originally in 1935 as a background painter, Coats created the worlds of “Pinocchio,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Lady and the Tramp.” His backgrounds created a sense of place, Baxter said, much like WED Enterprises (later Walt Disney Imagineering) would do in theme parks.

When Walt Disney was creating Disneyland, the talents of his animators were needed for this new medium. As Baxter recalled, Coats’ experience working on “Lady and the Tramp,” especially, gave him the inspiration to look at the world from an altered perspective – inspiration that would later lead to real-life experiences like Storybook Land Canal Boats and Adventure Thru Inner Space.

“Disneyland defined the ability to take you out of the world you live in,” Baxter said.

“Pirates

Coats was trained in architecture, Baxter said, which gave credibility to the environments he created. When the scenes for Pirates of the Caribbean were being developed, it was Coats who had the idea to paint the ceiling black, creating the illusion of a night sky and making the ceiling disappear – giving guests the sense of being outside at night.

Grand Canyon Diorama at Disneyland Park

You can see Coats’ background painting talents for yourself today in the Grand Canyon Diorama and Primeval World along the Disneyland Railroad.

Check back for more from “Animating the Disney Parks” – next time, we’ll focus on another master of creating a sense of place, Herb Ryman.

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Vintage Walt Disney World: Hollywood Scoops Opens

posted on August 23rd, 2012 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


I scream. You scream. But it’s usually on the The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror when at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, right? Not today, kids. I’m talking about my favorite food that’s always worth screaming about – ice cream.

Vintage Walt Disney World: Hollywood Scoops Opens

It wasn’t until today in 1999 that Hollywood Scoops started dishing up the delicious stuff (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and fat-free, sugar-free vanilla) to guests visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios on Sunset Boulevard. Here’s a look at Sunset Boulevard just prior to opening in 1994, without the scoop shop on the corner.

Sunset Blvd., at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Just Prior to Opening in 1994

Never passing up an opportunity to do some on-the-job research, I forced myself to head out to Hollywood Scoops last week with my friend Patrick in order to refresh our memories of the ice cream offerings they have there. Final verdict: delicious.

To read more from the Vintage Walt Disney World series, check out the posts below:

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Then and Now: Lafitte’s Anchor at Disneyland Park

posted on August 20th, 2012 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


One of my favorite things about Disneyland park is its history. As the first in what would become many Disney parks, Disneyland represents years of legacy and tradition. You may be able to name the attractions that still remain in the park since opening day, but what else? Which details, with their quiet stories, are still tucked away in corners of Disneyland park, 57 years later?

Lafitte's Anchor in Frontierland at Disneyland Park in 1955

In what was then Frontierland, guests in the summer of 1955 could see Lafitte’s Anchor – a “relic” from the pirate ship commanded by Jean Lafitte in the battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815. But, as the plaque warned, “… don’t believe everything you read.”

Lafitte's Anchor Now Sits in New Orleans Square Along the Banks of the Rivers of America at Disneyland Park

The anchor has been moved a bit and has a new plaque, but you can still see this piece of Disneyland history in what is now New Orleans Square, along the banks of the Rivers of America.

What other bits of the past have you found while exploring Disneyland park?

Read more about the history of Disneyland park in the posts below:

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Vintage Walt Disney World: Kidding Around at Downtown Disney

posted on August 16th, 2012 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Know a good joke? Well practice your delivery because today is National Tell a Joke Day. One place where the laughs (and jokes) used to entertain guests nightly was at the Comedy Warehouse at Pleasure Island.

Vintage Walt Disney World: Kidding Around at Downtown Disney

The 290 seat venue “where the tin roof rattled with laughter” was home to both headlining comedians and the Comedy Warehouse players who performed improvisational comedy shows nightly.

Vintage Walt Disney World: Kidding Around at Downtown Disney

This early artist rendering of the Comedy Warehouse gave it a completely different look and feel to the prop warehouse guests and cast members grew to love.

Vintage Walt Disney World: Kidding Around at Downtown Disney

While the laughs have stopped at the Comedy Warehouse at Pleasure Island, last year the troupe was resurrected for a holiday special at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Today, guests can visit the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor at Magic Kingdom Park for a fresh serving of jokes by the monsters of Monstropolis.

For more news from Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort, check out the posts below:

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