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Walt Disney and Mickey Statue at Cinderella Castle

Today in Disney History: Mickey’s Comic Debut

posted on January 13th, 2015 by Jeffrey Epstein, Manager, Marketing

Because Mickey Mouse is such a huge presence in Disney Parks around the world, we just had to share this special “mouse” moment in Disney history with you. We’re sure many of you are well aware that Mickey Mouse made his big screen debut in 1928 in the short “Steamboat Willie.” But just over a year later marked another milestone for our favorite mouse — he began a longtime run in newspapers across the country in his very own comic strip.


After his auspicious debut, the country—and the world—fell in love with Mickey, so it didn’t take long for the little mouse to become a big cheese. There were more Mickey shorts, character merchandise, local Mickey Mouse Clubs and—on January 13, 1930—a comic strip, which celebrates its 85th anniversary today. Written by Walt Disney himself and drawn by Ub Iwerks, the earliest comics would follow Mickey’s adventures far and wide, starting with his attempt to build his own airplane. What could go wrong with that?

By the summer of 1930, the comic strip appeared in up to 40 newspapers across nearly two-dozen countries, helping to usher in Mickey’s golden age and establish the mouse as the foundation and universally recognized symbol of the Disney organization.

Here on the Disney Parks Blog we have the very first Mickey comic strip for you to see. And if you’d like to see more, head over to D23: The Official Disney Fan Club, where Steven Vagnini has pulled together the entire first week of Mickey comics! Trust us, you’ll want to see how this turns out!

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VIDEO: Walt Disney Talks Creating Carousel of Progress

posted on January 12th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager

As Nate shared earlier this morning, this week marks the 40th anniversary of the Carousel of Progress here at Walt Disney World Resort – a now we have a special treat to share with you. What better way to celebrate this classic attraction’s anniversary than by giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the carousel led by Walt Disney himself.

This video clip was originally featured in “Disneyland Goes to the World’s Fair,” which aired on television on May 17, 1964. In it, Walt gives viewers behind-the-scenes looks at the Carousel of Progress, one of a handful of attractions he and his team of WED engineers were creating for the then-upcoming 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair. In it, Walt proudly shows off the carousel’s model, tours the sets as they’re being built, shows off the latest Audio-Animatronics technology, and offers up the first listen to the attraction’s theme song, “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.”

It’s clear that Walt put a lot of heart and imagination into this attraction. Check it out below.

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Disney Days of Past: Carousel of Progress Marks 40 Years at Magic Kingdom Park

posted on January 12th, 2015 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center

Forty years ago this week, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress opened at Magic Kingdom Park and this classic attraction has entertained guests visiting the Walt Disney World Resort for generations. Here’s a look at the Carousel of Progress being built in 1974.

Carousel of Progress being built in 1974 Carousel of Progress being built in 1974

Sponsored by General Electric when the attraction first opened, the Carousel of Progress theme song was changed to “The Best Time of Your Life” mirroring GE’s philosophy when opening in Florida. After going through a rehab in 1993, the song “There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” returned along with the Carousel’s family celebrating four holidays – Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July, Halloween, and Christmas. Below is a look at the original final scene from 1975 version.


The Carousel of Progress is still a “must do” on our list of attractions to visit every time my family visits Magic Kingdom Park – a true, classic Walt Disney original.

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Vintage Walt Disney World: National Bubble Bath Day

posted on January 8th, 2015 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center

According to the Internet, National Bubble Bath Day is celebrated today. Whenever I think of baths, I think of the “perennial houseguest” Uncle Orville over at Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom Park who is seen here, prior to the attraction officially opening, bathing sans bubbles in 1974.


Here’s to a day of pampering and relaxation … and hopefully a little privacy too. (Poor Uncle Orville never seemed to get any.)

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Sights & Sounds at Disney Parks: Lucie Arnaz and the Space Mountain Launch

posted on January 8th, 2015 by Greg Ehrbar, Writer/Author, Disney's Yellow Shoes Creative Group

You may be aware that Space Mountain celebrates its birthday this month—it’s 40 years young!—as a beloved attraction. But do you know that it’s the oldest operating roller coaster in Florida? Or who were the first two stars to be launched into the Tomorrowland galaxy? Emmy-winning entertainer/producer Lucie Arnaz and Tony-winning Broadway legend Tommy Tune, that’s who.

The Space Mountain grand opening festivities were almost as elaborate as the opening of Walt Disney World Resort itself, so much so that a musical variety special was created for “The Wonderful World of Disney TV” show by Academy Awards producer Marty Pasetta. It was called “Welcome to the ‘World'” because it was the first network TV special to take place at Walt Disney World Resort (earlier broadcasts were either non-network programs or short previews).

Lucie Arnaz Hosted the Space Mountain Openin Ceremony at Walt Disney World Resort in 1975 Lucie Arnaz Hosted the Space Mountain Openin Ceremony at Walt Disney World Resort in 1975 Lucie Arnaz Hosted the Space Mountain Openin Ceremony at Walt Disney World Resort in 1975

We caught up with the versatile Lucie as she was finishing a triumphant national tour of the hit musical “Pippin.” She was delighted to gab with us about what went on behind the scenes during the opening festivities for Space Mountain, though she hadn’t watched the special in years but got the opportunity recently when Marty Pasetta sent her a copy.

So what was her reaction seeing the definitely-’70s (think groovy fashions and splashy production numbers) show again? “Fantastic!”

And she shared a tasty tidbit with us. Aside from the technicians who tested it out, Lucie and Tommy were the first two people to ever ride on Space Mountain, introducing the country to the soon-to-be fan favorite.

“It was just incredible fun. Nothing like you’d ever seen before. Because it was in the dark! A roller coaster is one thing, but when you were in the dark you couldn’t tell if you were going to go left or right or up or down—it’s like WLLAHH! Just amazing.”

To get the amazing shots needed for the special, more than half a dozen cameras were installed all around the inside of Space Mountain. And what you see is what you get—when you see the stars riding the attraction, they’re actually doing it, again and again and again, until the director was satisfied with the takes.

Or, as Lucie explains it, “We were like, ‘Oh, good! We get to go around again! YAY!’”

The song “I’m Flying” from “Peter Pan” was recorded before the taping and the stars lip synched to it while cameras rolled. They put speakers in the rocket and every time the director yelled “Action!” the song would play and they’d sing along to their vocal track.

Between singing and general screaming while riding Space Mountain, Lucie says her voice was “lost in space.” But she still calls it a “spectacular experience.”

During rehearsals, they’d open the park early for the stars and that took her back to another time. “I felt just like a kid again, back when my mom [TV legend Lucille Ball] used to take us to Disneyland.”

She and Tommy even got the chance to waltz together, by themselves, at night, in front of Cinderella Castle. It doesn’t get more magical than that.

A musical highlight of the show mentioned all the things you could do at Walt Disney World Resort—circa 1975—to the tune of “Holiday for Strings.” It begins with the line “They have a Mickey Mouse, a haunted house” and ends with “Grumpy, Sneezy, Bashful, Sleepy, Happy, Doc and … DOPEY!” Incredibly, Lucie remembers the song verbatim and even sang it for us.

The memorable TV special finale was the Space Mountain grand opening ceremony with astronaut Gordon Cooper. And that was no accident. The Mercury 9 and Gemini 5 astronaut served on the Space Mountain creative team as a consultant.

As our conversation wound down, I asked Lucie if she’s had the chance to enjoy Space Mountain here in Orlando since she hosted the special. Her response was immediate. “Yes, yes! Several times since then. I’ve been to Disney World a lot with my kids.”

With all that Lucie Arnaz continues to accomplish, it’s gratifying to learn that she enjoys Disney Parks stuff just as much we all do. Obviously, the Space Mountain show wasn’t just a TV gig for her.

And that was the opening chapter for an attraction that is so popular, Space Mountain now exists at every Disney Resort across the globe. So when was the last time you enjoyed a rousing rocket ride to explore the wonders of outer space?

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Vintage Walt Disney World: Mickey & Minnie Trimming the Tree

posted on December 25th, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center

Merry Christmas from vintage Walt Disney World! Here’s a glimpse at Mickey and Minnie trimming their tree back in 1989. Happy Holidays!


See below for more posts about Vintage Walt Disney World:

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Video Rewind: Holidays at Disneyland Park, 2009

posted on December 22nd, 2014 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort

The holidays always make me sentimental – it’s a time to look back, not just over the past year but further back to holidays of the past. In that spirit, I wanted to take you on a look back at some of the holiday videos we shared here on the Disney Parks Blog way back in December 2009.

Valarie Sukovaty showed us how our candy makers create the hand-made candy canes that have become a holiday tradition at the Disneyland Resort.

Heather Hust Rivera took us for a look back at Disneyland park holiday decorations through the years.

In another look back that year, Valarie showed us how Disneyland park holiday parades have evolved over the years.

I hope you enjoyed this look back, and be sure to visit Holidays at the Disneyland Resort this year before it ends on January 6!

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Vintage Walt Disney World: Disney Carolers

posted on December 18th, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center

Fans growing up watching the Disney Afternoon would have been in for a real treat had this foursome shown up at their doorstep caroling in 1990. Below Chip, Dale, Scrooge McDuck, and Zummi Gummi are captured warming up their vocal chords. I wonder if they’re any good at four-part harmony?


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The ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ Connection to the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland Park

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

Haunted Mansion Holiday

The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland park holds many hidden secrets, but it turns out that one of these secrets is hiding in plain sight …


Walt Disney’s landmark live-action film adaptation of Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” debuted sixty years ago this month. The film, which went on to win two Academy Awards®, was also the first Disney feature filmed in CinemaScope. The success of the movie gave Walt the idea to put some of its sets on display in an exhibit using available space at Disneyland in the summer of 1955.

20,0000 Leagues Under the Sea Exhibit

The Nautilus Salon set created for the film was set up in Tomorrowland as a temporary exhibit, but it became so popular that it remained on display for 11 years.


Having heard rumors for years about what happened to those original set pieces, I reached out to our friends at the Walt Disney Archives who confirmed that when the sets were disassembled in 1966, the pipe organ (without its fanned piping) was set aside for use inside the Haunted Mansion, which would open three years later.


Yes, the pipe organ in the ballroom scene of the Haunted Mansion is the very same one that James Mason, as Captain Nemo, played in the film. I was pleased to also learn that the Walt Disney Archives still has many of the original furniture pieces from the Nautilus Salon, including the recently discovered organ bench shown in this production photo.

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Vintage Walt Disney World: Holiday Greetings from Magic Kingdom Park

posted on December 11th, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center

Mrs. Claus must have needed some Florida sunshine back in 1994 when she stopped by Magic Kingdom Park. Looks like everyone was having the happiest of holidays. I wonder if this trip was Santa approved?


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