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A Look Back at Celebrated Disneyland Resort Guests: Don Rickles – 1974

posted on May 8th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


Today is Don Rickles’ birthday and to celebrate this comedic legend’s special day I’m sharing some rarely seen photos of “Mr. Warmth” enjoying some Disney Parks magic.

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This 1974 picture features Don Rickles and his longtime pal, Bob Newhart, posing with Mickey Mouse in Tomorrowland. I can only imagine what Mickey overheard standing between these two funnymen.

Years later, of course, Mr. Rickles would become known to Disney fans as the voice of Mr. Potato Head in the Disney•PixarToy Story” films.

Don Rickles, Mr Potato Head

This next photo was taken at Walt Disney Imagineering as the creative forces behind Toy Story Midway Mania! unveiled the Mr. Potato Head Audio-Animatronics figure to the man who gave him his distinctive voice. Mr. Rickles said they did a “magnificent job” bringing the character to life and he was especially happy to have his young grandchildren there to see it with him. It was on this day in February 2008 that I first met Mr. Rickles, quickly finding myself on the receiving end of his rapid-fire wit. I was thrilled, to say the least, and I still wear his playful insults as a badge of honor!

Happy Birthday, Don!

Mr. Potato Head is a registered trademark of Hasbro Toys.

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Windows on Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland Park: Bill Evans

posted on May 6th, 2014 by Jon Storbeck, Vice President, Disneyland Park


In the early 1950s, “green-thumbed” brothers Morgan (known as Bill) and Jack Evans were hired to landscape the grounds of Walt Disney’s Holmby Hills home and the gardens surrounding his backyard railroad, the Carolwood Pacific. In 1954, they received the ultimate challenge when Walt asked, “How about you fellows landscaping Disneyland for me?”

With little time and money, the brothers were creative when transforming the 80 acres of orange groves in Anaheim, Calif. “Walt told me we were all out of loot and that the time had come to put Latin names on the weeds,” said Bill. They also salvaged trees that were slated for removal during construction of the new freeway system in Southern California and planted them in Disneyland.

Sadly, Jack suffered a heart attack two weeks after Disneyland opened and subsequently passed away three years later. Bill went on to become the director of landscape architecture, working on additions to Disneyland and the master plan for Walt Disney World Resort and Epcot Center in Florida.

Born on June 10, 1910, in Santa Monica, Calif., Bill was a third-generation horticulturist. His first botanical classroom was his father’s three-acre garden that was filled with exotic plants, including 150 varieties of hibiscus. In 1928, Bill joined the Merchant Marine. Upon his return from duty, Bill went to Stanford University where he majored in geology. In 1931, he helped transform his father’s garden into a nursery business – Evans and Reeves Landscaping. Their inventory of rare and exotic plants soon caught the attention of Hollywood celebrities such as Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Elizabeth Taylor and, ultimately, Walt Disney.

Bill Evans Surveys Construction at Jungle Cruise

Bill was known not only for using unusual plants, but for using plants in unusual ways. As Imagineer Terry Palmer explained, “In the Jungle Cruise, there’s a group of orange trees that most people would never recognize because Bill planted them upside-down. He decided the gnarled roots of the orange trees looked like suitably exotic jungle branches.”

In 1975, Bill retired but continued to consult on landscape design for Tokyo Disneyland. He consulted on the schematic designs for Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Discovery Island, Typhoon Lagoon, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort. He also helped select plants for Disneyland Paris and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Morgan "Bill" Evans

Bill was honored with a window on Main Street, U.S.A., above the Opera House, in 1990. The window reads: Evans Gardens, Exotic & Rare Species, Freeway Collections, Est. 1910, Morgan (Bill) Evans, Senior Partner.

Bill was named a Disney Legend in 1992. He died on August 16, 2002, at the age of 92. He was posthumously awarded the American Society of Landscape Architects Medal for his lifetime of achievements.

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A Look Back: Grand Opening of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure Park

posted on May 5th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


“Tonight’s story on ‘The Twilight Zone’ is somewhat unique and calls for a different kind of introduction … ”

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Ten years ago today, Disney California Adventure park guests were invited to fall into the fifth dimension aboard one of the only remaining working elevators in the Hollywood Tower Hotel – a onetime “star in its own right, and a beacon for the show business elite.”

Inspired by the genius of Rod Serling and the creators of the iconic anthology series “The Twilight Zone,” The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror recalls the disappearance of five unlucky souls on a gloomy Halloween night in 1939 Hollywood “amid the glitz and glamour of a bustling young movie town at the height of its golden age.”

The night before the attraction’s official opening, we hosted a red carpet premiere in Hollywood Land to celebrate.

A Look Back: Grand Opening of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure Park A Look Back: Grand Opening of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure Park

Several Hollywood Tower Hotel bellhops were on-hand to escort celebrity guests down the red carpet.

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Actress and filmmaker Nia Vardalos was one of the celebrities who “dropped in” for some fun that night.

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Of course, Mickey and Minnie were also there to help celebrate the opening.

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The opening ceremony was hosted by the Hollywood Tower Hotel bellhop (nicknamed “Buddy”) you may remember from many of the television commercials created for the attraction in 2004. He was joined during the ceremony by Rod Serling’s wife, Carol Serling, who told the audience how thrilled her late husband would be with the attraction. She then invited everyone to “step into a ‘lost episode’ of ‘The Twilight Zone.’”

A Look Back: Grand Opening of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure Park A Look Back: Grand Opening of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure Park

Looking back, “the time is (still) now, on an evening very much like the one we’ve just witnessed. We invite you, if you dare, to step aboard. This elevator travels directly to … ”

The Twilight Zone® is a registered trademark of CBS, Inc. and used with permission pursuant to a license with CBS, Inc.

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Disney’s Hollywood Studios Celebrates 25 Years

posted on May 1st, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Places, everyone! Today, Disney’s Hollywood Studios celebrates 25 years of Hollywood glamour and glitz right in the heart of Florida. Here’s a look at the park’s entrance 25 year’s ago with its original moniker, Disney-MGM Studios, on its marquee.

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When the park opened, there were nine attractions for guests to enjoy: Backstage Studio Tour, Catastrophe Canyon, Disney Classics Theater, The Great Movie Ride, The Magic of Disney Animation, The Monster Sound Show, Residential Street, SuperStar Television and Hollywood! Hollywood! at Theater of the Stars. Here’s a unique look at Hollywood Blvd. just prior to opening day.

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Still after 25 years of showbiz, there’s always a chance you’ll have a celebrity sighting while visiting the park. (Ok, world-famous character celebrity – but it counts!)

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Happy Anniversary, Disney’s Hollywood Studios! Here’s to another 25 dazzling years.

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A ‘Hollywood’ Classic: The Studios’ First Guide Map

posted on April 30th, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Disney’s Hollywood Studios sure has evolved over the last 25 years – and not only in name.

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I thought it might be fun to take a look back at how much the guide map has changed. Here’s a look at the original park map and today’s map.

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Sunset Blvd, Pixar Place, and Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show are just a few of the changes the park’s seen over the years. Wonder what’s in store for Disney’s Hollywood Studios over the next 25 years?

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A ‘Hollywood’ Classic: Residential Street

posted on April 29th, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Do you remember Residential Street? The nice, quaint neighborhood in the heart of Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Of course, this neighborhood was actually a line of facades. Used in various TV shows and commercials as well as movies, some of the homes on Residential Street looked familiar to guests when they drove by on the Studio Backlot Tour.

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Homes made appearances in such films as “Splash Too” and “Ernest Saves Christmas,” but the most recognizable ones from Residential Street belonged the family from “Empty Nest” and the ladies from the “Golden Girls.”

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Below is an aerial view of Residential Street in October 1988 prior to the opening of the park.

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A ‘Hollywood’ Classic: The Magic of Disney Animation

posted on April 24th, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


When Disney’s Hollywood Studios opened The Magic of Disney Animation gave a firsthand look inside the interworking of Walt Disney Animation Florida.

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This behind-the-scenes tour began with the short film “Back to Never Land” taking guests on a journey through the animation process.

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Afterwards, guests had the opportunity to peer through glass walls to witness members of the animation team at work. guests also had the opportunity to watch an animator sketch a Disney character right before their eyes.

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Walt Disney Animation Florida was responsible for the primary production of three full-length animated feature films – Mulan, Lilo and Stitch, and Brother Bear. They also produced three animation shorts, “Off His Rockers,” and two Roger Rabbit Cartoons – “Trail Mix-Up” and “Roller Coaster Rabbit.”


For more posts in this series, read the posts below:

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Download Our Exclusive Carousel of Progress Wallpaper

posted on April 22nd, 2014 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


As Jennifer shared earlier this morning, we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the opening of the 1964 New York World’s Fair. And one of the attractions designed for the fair that made its way into Disney Parks is a reader favorite – the Carousel of Progress.

Today, we’re featuring the attraction in our newest desktop/smartphone wallpaper created by artist Jason “Tiki” Tackett.
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Be sure to check out the terms of use about using the and wallpaper before you download it.

And don’t miss our growing gallery of wallpapers created especially for Disney Parks Blog readers.


Read more about Disney attractions at the World’s Fair in the posts below:

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Today in Disney History: 1964 New York World’s Fair Opened 50 Years Ago Today

posted on April 22nd, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


You may have noticed the beautiful artwork that’s appearing above on the blog today – and it’s all in honor of the 50th anniversary of the April 22 opening of the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
Artwork by Disney Legend John Hench

It was for this World’s Fair that Walt Disney and his team designed several attractions that would eventually make their way into Disney theme parks, including “it’s a small world,” Carousel of Progress, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and Ford Magic Skyway (part of which would become the Primeval World along Disneyland Railroad).

Walt’s involvement with the World’s Fair gave his team new opportunities to develop innovative technology and Audio-Animatronics figures that would take Disney attractions to a new level. It also gave us Disney Parks fans a few Sherman Brothers songs that we’ve come to cherish over the years: “it’s a small world (after all)” for the “it’s a small world” attraction and “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” for Carousel of Progress.

Be sure to check out original World’s Fair attraction sketches and artwork from the Walt Disney Imagineering Art Library in our header section above.


Read more about Disney attractions at the World’s Fair in the posts below:

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A ‘Hollywood’ Classic: SuperStar Television

posted on April 21st, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Today, we’re continuing to celebrate Disney’s Hollywood Studios opening-day attractions with a look into SuperStar Television, an attraction that let learn about and even participate in “live” television broadcasts.

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At SuperStar Television, guests were cast in roles in popular TV shows like “General Hospital,” “Bonanza,” “Gilligan’s Island,” and “Cheers”, among others. The guests, paired up with the SuperStar Television cast, would act out their assigned roles on sets or in front of a screens, while the live studio audience could watch the finished product air on screens above.

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One of my favorite scenes that guests got to take part in was the famous scene from “I Love Lucy,” in which Lucy and Ethel take on a speeding conveyer belt of chocolates. The guest would take on the role of Ethel.

Were you ever chosen to participate in SuperStar Television? Tell us about it in the “Comments” section below!

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