"Faith I have, in myself, in humanity, in the worthwhileness of the pursuits in entertainment for the masses. But wide awake, not blind faith, moves me. My operations are based on experience, thoughtful observation and warm fellowship with my neighbors at home and around the world."
I first came to Disneyland as a
small boy in 1956. I still remember that you couldn't see much
from the street because it was surrounded by an orchard which you
actually drove through when you entered the property. Even the
parking lot was still dirt. It was quite an eye-opener when I was
cast during the winter of 1991 in this 'nutcracker' adaption with
Mickey and all the gang on the former 'Videopolis' stage. It was
directed by Rob Roth and choreographed by Matt West. Rob and Matt
went on the next year to produce Disney's first Broadway musical
version of Beauty and The Beast, which was a
The Videopolis stage being readied for opening. The cluster of flakes at right rotates into the Narrator set.
As The Narrator
Beware of Strange Narrators bearing gifts!
Celebrating with the Cast
In the clutches of the "Rat King".
The Narrator's set is a great
study of Disney's attention to detail even on the smallest
facade. It revolved on a "lazy susan" on the apron at
the right wing of the proscenium. If you look carefully at the
lower left under the andirons, you'll see the outline of the trap
door I used to "magically" enter the set from below
in the reverse angle.
wonderful Boss at Disney and is now running a successful
"You know, the only way I've found to make these pictures is with animators. You can't seem to do it with accountants and bookkeepers."
Roy E. Disney
2005 - First of all, please accept my most sincere thanks
for your faith and trust in us, and for sticking with us
through thick and thin during this campaign. You have
been our biggest help in the tough times, and the good
times... and there is no way to say "thank-you"
any more sincerely than I do now.
When I started on Disneyland, my wife used to say, 'But why do you want to build an amusement park? They're so dirty.' I told her that was just the point- mine wouldn't be.
- Walt Disney
Walt's 100th Birthday
During December 2001, the Disney Company carried on a year long celebration for what would've been Walt's Centenary. In honor and celebration, here's a few goodies I've picked up over years of studying Disneyana.
Plane Crazy (1928)- Although you hear a lot about Walt's first SOUND cartoon "Steamboat Willie", many have mistaken it as the first Mickey Mouse Cartoon. To quote Walt from an episode of the early "Disneyland" TV series (1953) "We must never forget the contribution of our first major star Mickey Mouse when he made his initial appearance the year of Lindberg's historic flight." About 8 months later in 1929, "Steamboat Willie" was released and "Plane Crazy" was re-called to add a sound track. Also Ubbe (Ub) Iwerks animated "Plane Crazy" almost single handedly.
Flowers and Trees (1932) - Many have also expounded that "Snow White" (1934) was the Studio's first Color endeavor. According to Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston ("Disney Animation, The Illusion of Life"), "Flowers and Trees" shares a similar foible with "Plane Crazy" except that Walt perfected his color processing while still in production so weeks of Black and White footage were re-called and reshot in the new 'glorious' technicolor.
More Disneyland Stuff- During the last weeks of park construction as well as having an overseer's perch, Walt had an apartment residence right off Main Street Plaza. If you check over the Fire House you'll notice that it has an extra floor. This was where Walt stayed when overnight confabs were necessary. Park Legend has it that there is still an old telephone inside and although disconnected for the last 30 years, will still give off the itinerant ring. Is Walt checking in from beyond??
At one time during the fireworks, "Tinkerbell" would fly across the park and disappear. I could always see her coming from the tip of the Matterhorn but until I went to work there, I never knew where she disappeared to. Finally while walking behind Gepetto's restaurant (Fantasyland) in the service alley, I saw a small derrick tower erected about 12 ft. on the west wall, cable still attached and realized it was there for Tink.
There are three employee restaurants available. One is a service window at the rear of Gepetto's (near the Tink tower), one is directly behind the Plaza Inn (called the "Inn-Between") and one is actually UNDER the "Pirates of the Caribbean" attraction. I won't go into Disney rumors but you can get the scoop on them at Snopes.com .
"More than ever, I believe in the permanence of any well-founded institution which recognizes and caters to the basic needs of the people, spiritually as well as materially. And in my opinion, entertainment in its broadest sense has become a necessity rather than a luxury in the life of the American public."
As a celebration of the Disney Centenary, click above to go to The Disney Online Museum
The Nine Old Men at The Park
In 1953 before Disneyland was a going concern, Walt had no other help to turn to than the guys that had originally done the cartoons. You never really heard their names as much as his even though they were the actual craftsmen.
Ub (Ubbe) Iwerks
was largely responsible for design work at the Hyperion Studio. He almost single-handedly animated "Plane Crazy" and oversaw "Steamboat Willie" among others.
designed much of Snow White's characterizations and was responsible for Mickey's look in the 30's and 40's. It was said that Fred could draft smooth movements entirely by freehand if he wanted to. You see many of Fred's female renderings throughout 'Fantasia' and much of the 40's shorts.
Vladimir (Bill) Tytla
took charge of Disney's "dark side". The look of the Queen and The Hag in Snow White were largely his. I think that "Night On Bald Mountain" from 'Fantasia' was probably his career masterpiece. Bill worked many years afterward for Paramount most notably, on the 'Popeye' series.
David D. Hand
directed "Snow White" and "Pinnochio" among others. When I went to Japan at Huis Ten Bosch, they had an exhibit called 'Animation World' which featured David's later cartoon shorts made in the U.K. They resembled early Walter Lantz in their design.
John Lounsberry, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, Ward Kimball, Norm Ferguson, Grim Natwick, Milt Kahl, Isadore (Friz) Freleng, Walt Kelly, Hugh Harman and Rudolph Ising
all had their roots at Hyperion. At the Burbank Studio the benefits of the animators "brotherhood" were reaped when even Chuck Jones and Fred (Tex) Avery would come by to lend a hand.
A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes...
It was the early animation staff that formulated much of the park's attractions and realized them on a three dimensional scale. Rides like "Mr. Toad" and "Alice In Wonderland" still look pretty much as they did when Fantasyland opened excepting outer facades. Miniature conceptualization was raised to a high art by the Disney Company. The stage and sets pictured above were all fabricated at 1/16th of an inch to one foot scale right down to the teacup and saucer on the antique end table before construction began.The same applies to all the park structures and near New Orleans Square there is an exquisite model of the Sleeping Beauty Castle at one inch to the foot including the Snow White grotto on the left with wishing well, waterfall and all the finely detailed character sculptures. The foundation of this procedure is one of the park's greatest treasures and testament to the artists labor. Pictured here are the original miniature villages in the Storybook Canal which were made as the artists models.
From Cinderella (L): sitting at the highest point in the ride is Prince Charming's castle. If you look closely you might be able to see the midnight hour on the tower clock. At right is the local village which sits at the base of the castle's mountain.
These close-up shots show the painstaking detail which was the hallmark of all Disney projects. At roughly half an inch to the foot these are all made from wood no matter what their appearance may portend. At left is the house of the Ugly Stepsisters (Cinderella), and at right is a mountain grotto forming the rear border of Pinocchio's village. If you look closely you can see lights in the doorways and windows.
Here is the Main Street of Pinocchio's Bavarian Village and Gepetto's workshop. There are even a few flowers in the window box (L) and some wood-carved toys in the show window. All the stones and streets seen in both sets of photos are pretty much the real thing in miniature.
To see Disney attractions from the past visit Yesterland.
...Dedicated to Rachel Miller
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Other Christmas Shows
A Christmas Carol at The Aurora Fox
The Radio City Christmas Spectacular
A Christmas Carol at the Smothers Theater
A Wonderful Life