I can now say I have the #1 highlight of my Disney career: interviewing Disney Legend Richard Sherman. What an amazing day! I met him at the Walt Disney Archives in Burbank, Calif., where he sat at Walt Disney’s piano and played “it’s a small world,” the iconic song he wrote and composed with his late brother, Robert. He’s very proud of the song’s meaning and very serious about its impact on the world. He talks more about it in the video below. As you would imagine, he was a pure delight. He was kind and funny, and after the interview he played more of his classics for the room. I hope this video captures that unforgettable day. Enjoy!
posted on April 9th, 2014 by Valarie Sukovaty, Disneyland Public Relations
posted on April 7th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager
Last week, we took a look at debut of the popular “Remember the Magic” parade at Magic Kingdom Park. When the 25th anniversary celebration concluded, a new parade, the “Magical Moments Parade”, debuted February 1, 1998.
The parade was a variation of the “Remember the Magic” parade that ran through September 30, 2001.
The parade featured classic Disney characters, like Mickey and Minnie Mouse, plus some newer faces, including the cast of “The Little Mermaid” and “The Lion King.”
For more from the “Step in Time” series, read the posts below:
posted on April 7th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort
Iconic Hollywood star Mickey Rooney passed away yesterday at the age of 93.
In an astonishing show business career that spans 10 decades, Mickey’s work with Disney includes his roles as Lampie in “Pete’s Dragon,” the voice of grown-up Tod in “The Fox and the Hound,” and most recently, his cameo appearance in “The Muppets.”
This photo of Mickey was taken during the red carpet arrivals for the grand opening of Disney California Adventure park on February 7, 2001. I had the pleasure of meeting Mickey that night, and I knew then that I was in the presence of a legend. The optimistic personality that defined his early film career and propelled him to superstardom in the 1930s and 1940s was still very much a part of who he was.
In thinking about Mickey’s film work, I was reminded of a small role he had in the Disney Channel Original Movie, “Phantom of the Megaplex.” Mickey’s character, Movie Mason, delivers a monologue about the power of the silver screen in which he says, in part, “When we arrive in this world, magic is all around us … yet as years pass, simple pleasures aren’t quite so simple to find … true wonder is hard to come by, but, there’s always magic at the movies.”
No one made more of that magic than you, Mickey.
posted on April 7th, 2014 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort
Disney Parks has kicked off a global celebration for the 50th anniversary of the opening of “it’s a small world” at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Have you joined the celebration yet? Just go to SmallWorld50.com to record your sing-along video and create your own doll to benefit UNICEF!
In preparing for this celebration, I had the opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes tour of “it’s a small world” here at Disneyland park – during which I discovered something pretty incredible. Walking behind the large set pieces, I saw these odd little stickers:
Looking very closely, I was able to make out the date “Jan 5 1964.” Also noting that this flameproofing was done here in California led me to the conclusion that this sticker was applied after the set pieces were created and before they were shipped to New York to be assembled for their debut just months later at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
Along with these fireproofing stickers, I found lots of smaller blue stickers labeled “GLOBAL VAN LINES.” Some of you may remember that, in addition to hosting a locker facility on Main Street, U.S.A., Global Van Lines also operated many years ago from their global headquarters adjacent to Disneyland park – in fact, it was located right here where I am sitting, which is now Team Disney Anaheim (the administrative building in which many Disneyland Resort offices are housed).
Here’s the mystery: were these stickers applied for the shipping from California to New York or vice-versa? Even my friends at the Walt Disney Archives were not sure. (Feel free to discuss your theories in the comments!)
Another discovery that fascinated me were the letter/number designations painted on the back of every single set piece. I learned that these labels aided in the assembly of the large, elaborate set pieces both in New York and at the attraction’s permanent home here in Anaheim in 1966. It was also pointed out to me that some of the larger pieces were attached by hinges, making them easier to pack, ship and reassemble. Stepping back, I realized that “it’s a small world” is one huge jigsaw puzzle!
posted on April 4th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort
The first image was taken while Walt filmed the “Wonderful World of Color” episode, entitled, “Disneyland Goes to the World’s Fair.” Here he is sharing the model of the attraction as it appeared in New York. I really like looking at all the activity going on behind Walt in this image. I certainly recognize some familiar ‘small world’ faces in the background.
This next photo was taken outside a soundstage at The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, presumably during production of another television segment for “it’s a small world.”
This last photo is a personal favorite of mine. It shows Walt with Disney Legends Marc Davis and Mary Blair. Walt is admiring a figure from the attraction that seems to bear a remarkable resemblance to Mary! Have you noticed this one inside the attraction at Disneyland park? My colleague, Erin Glover has included her exact whereabouts in a great post from earlier this week.
Remember to visit SmallWorld50.com to join in the fun of our celebration!
posted on April 3rd, 2014 by Jon Storbeck, Vice President, Disneyland Park
Frank Wells joined The Walt Disney Company as president and chief operating officer in September 1984. He was known throughout the company as a friendly, kind soul who was always approachable and open to ideas. He and Michael Eisner, chairman and chief executive at the time, were a great team. Their working relationship is often likened to that of Walt and Roy Disney; Frank handling the details and Michael in the public eye. It was a true partnership.
During Frank’s 10-year tenure with Disney, the company experienced unprecedented growth and revitalization. Annual revenues rose from $1.5 billion to $8.5 billion. Disney stock prices increased by 1,500 percent, and the theme park and resort revenues tripled. Disney Consumer Products revenues rose 13-fold and Disney film entertainment revenues jumped 15-fold. Michael and Frank, along with studio head Jeffrey Katzenberg, helped make Disney one of the most successful film studios in the world and re-established its dominance in animated feature films with a series of hits that included “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin.”
As a key supporter of Disneyland Paris, Frank expanded the company’s international presence. In 1994, Michael Eisner said, “Fortunately for all of us at Disney, Frank was a buccaneer in the office. He was smart, prudent, a dealmaker and a great closer. He was always supportive of a great idea, whether it was swans on the outside of a building or ‘ducks’ for the name of a hockey team.”
Frank was born on March 4, 1932, in Coronado, California. He was the son of a naval officer and spent his childhood on Navy bases in California and on the East Coast. He graduated from Pomona College and attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar in jurisprudence. He then served two years in the United States Army, attaining the rank of first lieutenant, before attending Stanford Law School.
Frank worked hard and played hard. He was an environmental enthusiast and an avid mountain climber. In 1983, he set out to climb the highest mountain on each of the world’s seven continents within a single year. He scaled six, but weather forced him to turn back near the top of Mount Everest. His mountaineering exploits are chronicled in his book, “Seven Summits,” published in 1986. There is a tribute to Frank and his love of mountain climbing in the Matterhorn Bobsleds attraction at Disneyland park, where mountain climbing equipment bearing the name “Wells Expedition” can be seen.
On April 3, 1994, Frank Wells died in a helicopter accident in Nevada; he was 62 years old. A building at The Walt Disney Studios was later dedicated in his memory. The Frank G. Wells building opened in 1998, with a ceremonial ribbon cutting by his wife Luanne and Michael Eisner. Beside the building’s entrance, a plaque contains a quote that Frank carried on a slip of paper inside his pocket for thirty years: “Humility is the final achievement.”
Frank was named a Disney Legend in 1994. He was also honored with a window on Main Street, U.S.A., above Disneyana. His window, dedicated in 1996, pays homage to his love of adventure: Seven Summits Expeditions, Frank G. Wells, President, “For Those Who Want To Do It All.”
posted on April 3rd, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center
Heigh-ho! Today is “Don’t Go To Work Unless It’s Fun” Day, and while I think I have a pretty fun job, I would love to spend a day in the mines with a certain seven guys. Here’s a look at the Seven Dwarfs with Snow White at Magic Kingdom Park from 1971.
posted on March 31st, 2014 by Jon Storbeck, Vice President, Disneyland Park
Today marks the 56th anniversary of the opening of the Grand Canyon Diorama on what was then called the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad. In 1955, Claude Coats was one of the elite artists and designers Walt Disney selected to help bring Disneyland to life, and he later worked on the development of the Grand Canyon and Primeval World Dioramas for the park.
Born January 17, 1913, in San Francisco, Calif., Claude graduated from the University of Southern California in 1934 with an architecture and fine arts degree. He went on to study at Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles before joining the Walt Disney Studio as a background painter in June 1935.
During his time at the Studio, Claude created stunning watercolor background paintings for “Pinocchio” which continue to be heralded by Disney scholars, fans and art collectors for the rich and textured beauty they lend to the classic film. He also developed backgrounds and color stylings for many iconic animated features such as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Fantasia,” “Dumbo,” “The Three Caballeros,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Peter Pan,” and “Lady and the Tramp.”
Claude stood 6-feet, 6-inches tall and was known as a “gentle giant” with a warm wit and a wonderful disposition. He once recalled how Walt used to joke with him about his height. Claude said, “When the Disneyland Stagecoach was completed at the Studio, Walt and a driver were giving rides around the lot, but he wouldn’t let me get in. He said I spoiled the scale.”
While working at the Studio, Claude met his wife Evelyn Henry, an inker in the Ink and Paint Department. The couple married in July 1937 and had two sons, Alan and Lee.
In 1955, Claude joined WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering) as a show designer for Disneyland. He referred to this as his “second career” at Disney. In addition to the Dioramas, Claude worked on Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Snow White’s Scary Adventures and Submarine Voyage, among others. Claude also contributed to the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair attractions, including Magic Skyway, Carousel of Progress, and “it’s a small world.”
After 54 years with Disney, Claude retired in November 1989. Marty Sklar, Disney Legend, former executive vice president and Walt Disney Imagineering ambassador, later recalled, “Claude paved the way in turning sketches and paintings into three-dimensional adventures. His energy, curiosity and drive to create new experiences for our Disney park guests made him a leader and a teacher for all of us. He was a genuine one-of-a-kind.”
Claude was named a Disney Legend in 1991. He passed away on January 9, 1992, in Los Angeles.
Claude’s window, located above the Emporium, is a tribute to his name and large stature: Coats & Co., Claude Coats, Proprietor, Big and Tall Sizes for Gentlemen.
posted on March 31st, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager
The year 1996 was a memorable one at Disney. It was the 25th anniversary of Magic Kingdom Park, an occasion that turned Cinderella Castle into a giant pink birthday cake, and the “Remember the Magic” parade debuted.
In this procession, Sorcerer Mickey led the way on a special Cinderella Castle-inspired float filled with Disney characters. Ariel and other characters from “The Little Mermaid” appeared in an impressive seashell float, surrounded by dancing fish friends, who would periodically pause and encourage guests to celebrate by dancing along. “The Lion King” also had its own float, which featured Simba, Pumbaa and other characters from the film. Rafiki also walked along the parade path and encouraged young guests to participate in the fun by beating drums.
Do you remember this parade (and its theme song)? Tell us in the “Comments” section below!
posted on March 28th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort
The 1964-65 New York World’s Fair theme was “Peace Through Understanding,” and no exhibition better embodied this idea than “it’s a small world.”
The look and feel of the whimsical entrances to this now-landmark attraction at Disney Parks around the world are well-known, but the look of the exterior of the New York World’s Fair pavilion was quite different from the familiar facades we know today.
In these rare photos you can see just how different it was from what we see in the parks; yet it is, decidedly, a “Disney look.” To me, it looks like Tomorrowland at Disneyland park, circa 1967.
Some familiar Disney faces were apparently on hand to greet visitors about to board the “the happiest cruise that ever sailed.”