Disneyland Paris, Phantom Manor

A Look Back at Celebrated Disneyland Resort Guests: Laurence Olivier – 1976

posted on May 22nd, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


Sir Laurence Olivier was born on this day in 1907. Widely regarded as the greatest actor of the 20th century, he was a prolific master of stage and screen who captivated audiences in both classical and modern works during his decades-long career.

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This photo with Mickey Mouse was taken inside Disneyland City Hall as Mr. Olivier signed our Guest book during his only known visit to Disneyland park in August 1976.

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Vintage Walt Disney World: The History of California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

posted on May 15th, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Today, back in 1995, the California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort opened. This signature restaurant atop the 15th floor was recently reimagined and here is a look at the lobby in 1995 and today.

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When Disney’s Contemporary Resort opened in 1971, the 15th floor was known as the Top of the World Restaurant and looked quite a bit different than it does today.

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In June of 1981, the “Broadway at the Top” dinner show debuted at the restaurant and ran until September of 1993. Below is a look at the show and its performers in January 1985.

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What’s my favorite part of the California Grill? It’s a toss up between the delicious food and the amazing view.

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The History of the Disneyland Monorail: Mark VII, 2008-Present

posted on May 14th, 2014 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


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Today we end our look at the history of Disney Parks monorails with the current model of the Disneyland Monorail, the Mark VII. As you can see from the image above, Walt Disney Imagineering designed the Mark VII to have several similarities to the Mark III version – especially the nose cones that were seen on those classic trains.

In addition to the nose cone, another change with this model was a new seat configuration that allowed guests to sit facing the windows, to better enjoy the elevated view of the Disneyland Resort from the comfort of their seats.

Monorail red debuted at the Disneyland Resort on July 3, 2008, as the first Mark VII train. Monorail blue then began transporting guests later that summer and the last train, monorail orange, went into operation in April 2009.

Mandy the Disneyland Monorail

In 2012, the Mark VII has shared the beam way with Manny, Mandy & Mona Monorails to celebrate of the grand opening of Cars Land at Disney California Adventure park. These new friends took up temporary residence above Disneyland Resort for the remainder of the year to welcome Lightning McQueen, Mater and the rest of their friends from Radiator Springs.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this look back at monorails through the years – and be sure to check back next month as we celebrate the 55th anniversary of the Disneyland Monorail.

Read more about the history of the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Monorails in the posts below:

Before we depart, tell us – If you could go back in time and experience any of the Monorail models, which would it be and why? Leave your answer in the comments!

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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.

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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.

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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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