Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at Disneyland Resort

Vintage Walt Disney World: Blizzard Beach, 1994

posted on March 20th, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Finally, it’s the first day of spring! While everyone up North begins to officially thaw out (hopefully), it’s the perfect time to celebrate the place at Walt Disney World Resort that was created by thawing out – Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park.

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Covering over 60 acres, this one-of-a-kind themed water recreation area is home to the thrill slide Summit Plummet, as seen above, still under construction back in December 1994.

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It’s the perfect place to chill out on a warm Florida day, and all you need is a bathing suit. No gloves, boots or heavy coats required!

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A Look Back at Celebrated Disneyland Resort Guests: Nat King Cole – 1963

posted on March 17th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


The great singer Nat King Cole was born on this day in 1919, and today we look back at a visit he made to Disneyland park more than 50 years ago.

Nat King Cole and His Son, Nat Kelly Cole, in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park in 1963.

Pictured with his son, Nat Kelly Cole, the legendary voice behind such timeless hits as “Mona Lisa,” “Stardust,” and “Unforgettable” was photographed in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle in June of 1963.

Do you have a favorite Nat King Cole song? My personal favorite also has the distinction of being featured in a Disney film. Can you guess which one?

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Filed: Celebrity Visits, Disney History, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort

Step in Time: Magic Kingdom Park Marks 20 Years With ‘Surprise Celebration Parade’

posted on March 17th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Beginning in September 1991, Magic Kingdom Park kicked off its 20th anniversary celebration early with the debut of a new parade – the “Surprise Celebration Parade.”

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The centerpieces of the parade were towering balloons (some measuring as tall as 35-40 feet) depicting Disney characters celebrating festivals from around the world, including balloons for Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto, and Roger Rabbit. The parade also featured festive costumes and floats. Other Disney characters walked the parade route carrying red Mickey balloons.

Do you remember this parade? Tell us in the “Comments” section below!

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A Look Back at Celebrated Disneyland Resort Guests: Jerry Lewis – 1955

posted on March 14th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


Legendary entertainer and humanitarian Jerry Lewis celebrates his birthday this weekend, so today we’re looking back at a visit Jerry made to Disneyland park in August 1955, just a few weeks after we first opened our gates.

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This first photo is a triple treat for Disney fans. Television star Milton Berle, aka “Uncle Miltie,” joined Jerry outside the Main Entrance, along with future Disney Legend, Tom Nabbe, who was holding a custom edition of The Disneyland News with a headline that read, “Welcome Miltie & Jerry To Disneyland.”

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Then it was over to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, where Jerry was joined by his son (and future musician), Gary Lewis. When I see this photo, I think can actually hear that iconic voice going through Toad Hall!

Happy Birthday, Mr. Lewis!

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Today in Disney History: Fantasy Faire Opens at Disneyland Park, 2013

posted on March 12th, 2014 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


One year ago today, we celebrated the expansion of Fantasyland at Disneyland park with the addition of Fantasy Faire, featuring the Royal Hall (where Disney princesses meet guests each day), the Royal Theatre (featuring the tales of “Tangled” and “Beauty and the Beast”) and Maurice’s Treats (serving delicious pastry twists and the wonderful Boysen Apple Freeze). I recently stopped by the Royal Theatre to chat with Mr. Smythe and Mr. Jones, who join Rapunzel and Belle onstage each day, about the one-year anniversary of this new Disneyland park guest favorite.

What is your favorite part of Fantasy Faire? Tell us in the comments!

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1957 Photo: Walt Disney and a Haberdashed Horse at Disneyland Park

posted on March 11th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


Soon my colleague, Donna Fisk, will introduce a new series here on the Disney Parks Blog where you’ll meet the current stable of beautiful horses at the Disneyland Resort. But, because I know you’re champing at the bit for a horse story …
Walt Disney and a Haberdashed Horse at Disneyland Park in 1957

I’m sharing this photo I recently came across from April 1957 of Walt Disney greeting one his four-legged cast members in the Central Hub at Disneyland park – a reminder that horses have been a part of the magic from the very beginning.

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Step In Time: ‘SpectroMagic’ Lights up Magic Kingdom Park

posted on March 10th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


On October 1, 1991, Magic Kingdom Park welcomed a brand-new nighttime parade: “SpectroMagic”!

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This parade differed from the previous nighttime parade, “Main Street Electrical Parade”, in that it featured a new theme song, “On This Magic Night”, displays filled with fiber optics and a host of new, parade-specific characters. The parade ran through May 22, 1999, to make way for the temporary return of “Main Street Electrical Parade” for the start of the Millennium Celebration, and then returned again March 26, 2001. “SpectroMagic” officially ended its run at Magic Kingdom Park in 2010.

What did you like most about this parade? Tell us in the “comments” section below!

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Vintage Walt Disney World: A Journey Into Imagination

posted on March 6th, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


The Journey Into Imagination attraction opened during this week in Epcot in 1983. As a treat, here’s a photo we’ve never released on the Disney Parks Blog before.

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Above, Figment is in the Literature section of the former attraction where, along with Dreamfinder, they demonstrate how the words on the pages of a book come to life with the help of your imagination!

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1964 Photos: Walt Disney and the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland Park

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


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This year marks the 50th anniversary of a previously undiscovered region at Disneyland park (now navigable on the Jungle Cruise) known as the African Veldt.

So intrigued by this discovery, Walt Disney himself decided to pay a visit to the region to checkout the wildlife.

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Among the things Walt saw that day was a lion pride “protecting a sleeping zebra.” Now, putting your hands near a hungry lion is no laughing matter…

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Or is it?

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Windows on Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland Park: Sam McKim

posted on March 3rd, 2014 by Jon Storbeck, Vice President, Disneyland Park


Sam McKim, Disney artist and “master map maker,” is the creator of the Disneyland souvenir maps that were sold in Disneyland park between 1958 and 1964. His maps, known for their elaborate design, colorful print and large size, are among the most sought-after pieces of Disney memorabilia today.

Disneyland Park Map Created by Sam McKim, Courtesy of the Walt Disney Imagineering Art Library

Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1924, Sam moved to Los Angeles with his family during the Great Depression. At age 10, he became a child actor under contract for Republic Studios where he worked in western serials and B-movies with many of the top stars of the day. Sam developed his drawing skills early on and once said, “I was always drawing something or other. I’d draw caricatures of the actors and they would sign them for me.”

After serving in the U.S. Army in World War II, Sam enrolled at Art Center College of Design. The day after he graduated, he was called back to the Army to serve in Korea, where he earned several medals and honors, including the Distinguished Service Cross and the Bronze Star. Upon returning to the States, he took acting roles as well as advanced art classes at the Chouinard Art Institute. Sam recalled, “John Ford offered me a supporting lead in ‘The Long Gray Line’ with Tyrone Power and Maureen O’Hara. Would you believe I turned it down to become an artist? I started at 20th Century Fox, then moved to Disney for a temp job, and didn’t leave until I retired 32 years later.”

Sam joined WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering) as an illustrator in 1954, six months before the opening of Disneyland Resort. Among his first sketches was The Golden Horseshoe in Frontierland. He later contributed to “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln,” Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion. His early work also included storyboards for Disney films including, “Nikki, Wild Dog of the North,” “Big Red,” and “The Gnome-Mobile,” and episodes of Disney’s television series, “Zorro.”

John Hench, Disney Legend and Imagineer, once said, “Sam was the greatest to work with. He loved Disney, and his enthusiasm was always contagious. Once he got involved in anything, no matter how problematic, you always knew everything was going to be okay. If I ever needed to hear the truth about something, I always went to Sam.”

Following his retirement in 1987, Sam remained connected with WDI and Disney. In addition to appearances at Disney fan events and consulting work, his two sons, Matt and Brian, were also renowned Disney artists. In 1992, he designed the commemorative guide map for the opening of Disneyland Paris.

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Sam was named a Disney Legend in 1996. That same year he was honored with a window on Main Street, U.S.A. His window, located above the Main Street Photo Supply Co., states: Cartography Masterworks – Sam McKim – Map Maker of the Kingdom – There’s Magic in the Details.

Sam passed away at the age of 79, on July 9, 2004.

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Filed: Disney History, Disneyland Paris, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort