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Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Disney Vacation Club Explores Disney’s Wild West

posted on May 31st, 2015 by Ryan March, Editor, Disney Vacation Club’s Disney Files Magazine


Greetings from somewhere between Ketchikan and Vancouver!

Today marks the final day of our first Disney Vacation Club Member Cruise to Alaska, where our adventures through the Wild West have included a bit of time travel.

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Two of my very favorite people – Walt Disney Archives Director Becky Cline and Disney author and historian Tim O’Day – are taking members on an irreverent journey through “Disney’s Wild West,” one of several unique entertainment experiences created for this special charter voyage. Their fast-paced presentation uses filmed treasures and rare artifacts from the Walt Disney Archives to illustrate “8 Simple Rules for Enjoying Life in Disney’s Wild West.” If history class had been this entertaining, I would’ve paid far closer attention.

Becky and Tim asked if they could share some artifacts with all of you, and I always do what historians tell me.

I’ll leave them to show off their treasures while I go grab seats for “Broadway and Beyond: Songs We’re Wild About,” a new finale concert created by our friends from Disney Theatrical Productions. Man I’m going to hate seeing this voyage come to an end. By this time tomorrow, the artifacts will be back in their vault, the celebrities will be back doing whatever celebrities do, and my bed will be in the same zip code every night. Good thing there’s another Member Cruise in August!

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Today in Disney History: Muppet*Vision 3D Opened Its Doors at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

posted on May 30th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Muppet*Vision 3D officially opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on this day back in 1991.

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This 3D attraction features favorite Muppet characters – and the world’s first computer-generated Muppet, Waldo C. Graphic – in hilarious musical numbers. (And who can forget that glorious three hour finale?).

What do you love about this attraction? Tell us in the “Comments” section below.

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Filed: Disney History, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World Resort

Disney Days of Past: Mickey’s Birthdayland Becomes Mickey’s Starland at Magic Kingdom Park

posted on May 28th, 2015 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Mickey’s Birthdayland became Mickey’s Starland at Magic Kingdom Park this week in 1990. A few of the local residents gathered by the town sign to commemorate the name change.

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Mickey’s Starland eventually became Mickey’s Toontown Fair in 1996. Now, of course, it’s home to Storybook Circus, where you can fly on an elephant, feel the thrill of The Barnstormer or visit some familiar friends at Pete’s Silly Sideshow.

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The Disney Gallery Unveils New Exhibit for the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration

posted on May 22nd, 2015 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


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May 22 is finally here, and the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration is underway! While there’s so much to see and do, one place I couldn’t resist visiting on one of my shopping adventures was The Disney Gallery located in the lobby of The Disneyland Story presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. A new exhibit was unveiled just this morning — Drawing Disneyland: The Early Years – Imagineers Who Helped Bring Walt’s Dream To Life.

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I had the chance to get the back-story about this exciting new exhibit which of course, I wanted to share with all of you:

Walt Disney had an idea for “a family park, where parents and children could have fun together.” Problem is, he didn’t know how to design and build it. Unfortunately, neither did the architecture and engineering firm he hired. That’s when Walt’s longtime friend, architect Welton Becket, told him the best people to design the park were his own animators and art directors. These were the people who best understood Walt and what he wanted to do.

So in 1952 Walt formed WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering) and recruited members of his own staff from the Disney Studio, as well as designers and artists from other studios, to help him develop this new kind of park he was calling Disneyland. Though none of them had ever designed theme parks (Who had at that time?), they did know, with their film backgrounds and set-designing skills, how to turn Walt’s ideas into concept sketches and detailed renderings.

Drawing Disneyland celebrates five of those artists, all with experience in live-action and animated films, each of whom played a key role in the development of one of the original lands of Disneyland – and ultimately proved Welton Becket right. Who are they? I won’t leave you in suspense any further.

Harper Goff – Adventureland
John Hench – Tomorrowland
Harry Johnson – Main Street, U.S.A.
Bill Martin – Fantasyland
Sam McKim – Frontierland

I hope during your next visit you’ll enjoy this historical retrospective, which showcases the rich heritage and history of the Disneyland Resort — from how far we’ve come to where we’re headed.

Special Tip: If you find a favorite piece of art on display in the new exhibit, stop next store at Disneyana Gifts to inquire whether it is available to purchase via Art on Demand, and bring the magic of Disney, home.

What places are on your list to visit today?

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Disney Days of Past: Celebrating DINOSAUR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on May 21st, 2015 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


This week in 2000 the film “Dinosaur” was released. “Dinosaur” stars an iguanodon, Aladar, who should be familiar to fans of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the attraction DINOSAUR in DinoLand, U.S.A.

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When Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened in 1998, this attraction went by the name Countdown to Extinction. In fact, on the Time Rovers you can still see CTX written on the vehicles.

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Another attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened before the movie debuted. Know what attraction I’m referring to? Share your expertise knowledge in the comments section below!

How well do you know DINOSAUR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Take our quiz now!

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Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom Park: Then and Now…

posted on May 20th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


We’re continuing our special image series “Then and Now” with a look at how Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort has changed over the years. Scroll back and forth to see both views.

When Magic Kingdom Park opened in 1971, Tomorrowland featured Grand Prix Raceway, Flight to the Moon, the Skyway to Fantasyland and the Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant. Over the next few years, other attractions were added, including Star Jets, Space Mountain and Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress.

Tomorrowland underwent a major redesign in 1995, when Walt Disney Imagineers changed the land’s theming to be inspired by science fiction instead of scientific fact. This change brought attractions like The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, The Timekeeper, etc., as well as a new Tomorrowland entrance marker.

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Sixty Years of Innovation: New Fantasyland at Disneyland Park

posted on May 13th, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


Disney Parks are more than exciting attractions and dazzling spectaculars. Walking into a place like Fantasyland, for example, is like walking into another world. As each of our guests are reminded, “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.” Let’s go back to the year 1983 to discover how the fantasy of Fantasyland was enriched here at Disneyland park.

Walt Disney’s favorite land, Fantasyland was envisioned as a fairy tale village beyond the walls of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Unfortunately, as the opening of Disneyland drew near, unforeseen budget overages caused the team to scale back on the design of Fantasyland. So the land became a medieval fair, with banners and flags decorating the entrances to Snow White’s Adventures, Peter Pan’s Flight and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

 

Nearly thirty years later, the time had finally come to transform Fantasyland into that timeless land of enchantment that Walt had dreamed of. “The New Fantasyland” opened at Disneyland on May 25, 1983. The architecture and facade of each attraction became an extension of the stories that lie within. Guests now enter Peter Pan’s Flight through a medieval English clock tower or visit a country manor called Toad Hall, home to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. On the west side of Fantasyland, you have the feeling of being immersed in a Bavarian or Alpine village, bringing you into the worlds of Snow White and Pinocchio. Next door at Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, the attraction’s facade features half-timbered architecture and carved wood balconies, resembling the house in which Pinocchio, the wooden puppet made of pine, became a real boy.

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“The New Fantasyland” elevated the storytelling of the entire area, combining architecture, horticulture and other details to create an immersive, fairy tale environment and became an example of what Walt Disney Imagineering often refers to as “place making” – the design and creation of a land that transports the guest to a different place and time, truly immersing them in the story and fantasy of the land.

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And nearly 30 years after “The New Fantasyland” at Disneyland park, this immersive storytelling was brought to another level with New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom park. The largest expansion in the park’s history, New Fantasyland welcomes guests to step into the stories of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Dumbo.” It is a shining example of how Disney Parks continue the legacy of innovative, immersive storytelling that was established with the opening of Disneyland park in 1955 and carried on with “The New Fantasyland” in 1983 and beyond.

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Building the Dream: The Making of Disneyland Park – Sleeping Beauty Castle – Part One

posted on May 13th, 2015 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


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Although inspired by several medieval castles, with the help of forced perspective, Sleeping Beauty Castle was proportioned more to the imagination than to history. Walt Disney wanted this castle to be a friendly and welcoming presence in his new park so it was built on a smaller scale than its European counterparts.

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I’m not sure if the people who were building the castle knew that they were creating one of the world’s most iconic structures, or that it would inspire unique Magic Kingdom parks around the world, but they did know that this 77-foot-tall beauty was the centerpiece of Disneyland park, around which everything that followed would be built.

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We’ll check the progress on the building of the original Disney Parks castle in our next update.

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Previously in the “Building the Dream” series:

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Disney Days of Past: Happy National Travel & Tourism Week

posted on May 7th, 2015 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


It’s National Travel and Tourism week. Dreaming of your next Disney vacation? Here’s a little inspiration from 2007 when Disney Cruise Line rolled out the red carpet for a few famous characters.

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Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Daisy look ready for a magical voyage aboard a Disney Cruise Line ship. Have you been on a Disney cruise? What’s your favorite part? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Today in Disney History: Disney’s Hollywood Studios Opens Its Doors at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on May 1st, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


On this very day back in 1989, Disney’s Hollywood Studios opened its doors to give guests a taste of the fascinating world of entertainment. I remember visiting the park that summer and was captivated by its attractions that offered a peek inside television production and the making of animated films, as well as the history of the silver screen inside The Great Movie Ride.

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Many attractions have been added to the park over the years, including The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror in 1994, Rockin’ Rollercoaster – Starring Aerosmith in 1999, the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show in 2005, and Toy Story Mania! in 2008, among others. Entertainment, of course, has played a huge part at the park, with “Beauty and The Beast – Live on Stage” being the first theme park show to debut the same day the film was released in theaters in 1991. “Fantasmic!”, the park’s nighttime spectacular that combines Disney characters and songs with amazing special effects opened at the park in 1998.

Click through the gallery below for a look at how the park has changed over the years.

Which attraction or show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is your favorite? Tell us in the comments section below.

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