Friday, July 30, 2010

Trouble Under the Sea

The reason behind a rule often becomes clear just after you break it

More than anything else, Ariel loved exploring shipwrecks and finding human treasures. But her father, King Triton, had expressly ordered her to stay away from shipwrecks, or any place where she would be in danger of being snagged by one of those fish-eating humans.

The Little Mermaid knew her father loved her. But she also knew that he just didn't understand. Human objects were so amazing, and shipwrecks were the only place she could find them. Nothing would happen to her. She was sure of it.

One day, Ariel took her friend Flounder to see a new shipwreck she had found. "Isn't it Fantastic?" she said.

"Yeah, sure," replied Flounder, anxiously looking over his shoulder. "It's great. Now let's get out of here."

"You're not getting cold fins now, are you?" Ariel asked.

"Who, me?" said Flounder. "No way. It's just, uh, it looks damp in there. I think I may be coming down with something." He coughed loudly, making sure that Ariel heard.

"All right," said Ariel. "You can just stay here and watch for sharks."

"What? Sharks? Ariel!" Flounder tried to swim after Ariel through a porthole but he got stuck. "Ariel, help!"

Ariel grabbed Flounder's fins and pulled him inside the ship. Soon she spied a shiny silver object. She picked it up and said, "Have you ever seen anything so wonderful?"

As they examined the object, Flounder was distracted by a strange sound. "What was that?" he asked, trembling.

"Flounder, will you relax?" said Ariel, picking up and examining another object. "Nothing is going to happen."

Flounder heard the strange sound again. He thought he saw a shadow. Looking behind him, he saw a huge shark was gliding toward them. "Shark! Shark!" he cried.

Flounder zoomed toward a porthole and got stuck again. As the shark bore down on him, its huge jaws open wide, Ariel swam up and pushed Flounder through the porthole. Then she followed, swimming as fast as she could.

The shark raced after them. In flounder's haste to get away, he smacked into the ship's mast. Dazed, he sank to the ocean floor.

Ariel reached throught a metal anchor ring and grabbed her friend. As she backed out of the ring, the shark tried to follow, but it got stuck. The shark thrashed its tail, frustrated at not being able to catch its prey.

Ariel and Flounder swam back to the palace. Ariel thought about how her father had been right. Shipwrecks were dangerous!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Aulani - New Disney's Resort July Updates

The Aulani, A New Disney Resort and Spa in Ko Olina is scheduled to open in Fall 2011. Here is the newest video where you'll see the Concept Art, 3d model, informations and a virtual fly over.

Click here to see the official Aulani Site.

Click Here to read a great article at Star Bulletin.

An Early Peek at Aulani

posted on July 22nd, 2010 by John McClintock, Disney Public Relations

Hi! I’m John McClintock and I’m in the Public Relations department at Disneyland Resort. Although Anaheim is my Disney home base, and has been for more than 20 years, I’ve worked on Disney projects in Florida, France, Hong Kong and, now, Hawai`i. Over the next several months, I’ll be giving you first looks and behind-the-scenes information on the newest Disney Resort, scheduled to welcome its first guests on August 29, 2011. 

It’s still a work in progress, but last week a bunch of us Disney Mainlanders got to visit O`ahu and tour the construction site of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina, Hawai`i. Although the Resort buildings are mostly concrete and scaffolding now, they’ve reached their full height and you can get a good sense of how they’ll look when completed. Here’s a photo of the Aulani lobby as it looks today, and a rendering of how it will look when the Resort is open.

Construction of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina, Hawai`i

A rendering of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina, Hawai`i
The location for Aulani, right on the oceanfront in beautiful Ko Olina, about 17 miles north of the Honolulu Airport, is spectacular, and the towers are angled to provide stunning ocean views for many of the 359 traditional hotel rooms and 481 two-bedroom equivalent Disney Vacation Club villas.

We also sampled one of the planned excursions being developed for Resort guests, an adventure trek into the rainforests of Manoa Valley in search of Menehune, the legendary island “little people” who are said to have built much of old Hawai`i.

Hotel booking for Aulani will begin the August 2 at Information about purchasing real estate interest in Aulani, Disney Vacation Club Villas, Ko Olina, Hawai`i can be found at

Aloha from Aulani

posted on July 23rd, 2010 by Tom Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs at Aulani Construction Site
Aloha from O‘ahu! I’m at the site of one of our most unique, new projects – Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina, Hawai‘i. The team in Hawai‘i continues to bring this beautiful beachfront property to life, and it’s exciting that in just a little more than a year, on August 29, 2011, we’re scheduled to welcome our first guests here.

Construction is well underway, and as I walked the site yesterday, the great potential for the combination of the location and Disney creativity couldn’t be more clear.

Aulani is something completely new and different for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. It is our first stand-alone Resort, separate from our theme parks that will offer both hotel rooms and villas for Disney Vacation Club members. As we’ve expanded “beyond the berm” with offerings like Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney, our goal has been to bring Disney vacation experiences to our guests. And since Hawai‘i is one of the top family destinations in the world, we always knew that this would be the perfect place for a Disney Resort.

Aulani will be a destination where families can experience the stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage and friendship of Hawai‘i—in a setting only Disney could create. Much more than a place to stay, it will be a place to start—a home base from which our guests can explore all that Hawai‘i has to offer.

The culture of Hawai‘i is rooted in layer-upon-layer of meaning, ancestral heritage and a rich storytelling tradition. Obviously, storytelling is something we hold near and dear here at Disney, too. So, together with our Hawaiian advisors, we are collecting stories, legends and symbols, and weaving them into the design of Aulani. Local artists are creating giant murals that surround the resort. For example, the work of one of those artists, Harinane Orme, tells the stories of Maui and Hina, and of the great tradition of star navigation that brought the Hawaiians to this land. 

There is so much creativity and passion going into the development of this new Resort. I’m excited to bring my family here and think our guests will be too.

In a nutshell, how would you describe the Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa in Ko Olina, Hawai`i?

A premier oceanfront resort on the island of O`ahu, Hawai`i, the Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina is a place for families to gather, reconnect and immerse themselves in the stories of Hawai`i. Storytelling vividly brings to life Hawaii's culture and connection to nature, so each member of the family gains from a deeper understanding, appreciation, and ultimately, enjoyment of Hawai`i. The design of the Resort honors Hawaiian tradition in its village concept, including hotel rooms, Disney Vacation Club Villas, meeting rooms and wedding facilities-spread over 21 wondrous acres. Disney's world-class service caters to your family's needs in ways unique to this destination. In a breathtaking setting-sweeping ocean views, glistening white sandy beaches, a pristine cove, lush tropical foliage, a water garden and salt-water lagoons perfect for swimming and snorkeling-this Resort & Spa is a premier vacation destination.

 Lobby View

Why would I choose Ko Olina as a destination?

On the Wai`anae Coast of O`ahu, sheltered by mountains to the north, Ko Olina is a secluded paradise in a beautiful island setting, yet close enough to Waikiki to enjoy the shopping and activity there. Ko Olina is legendary as a source of inspiration to travelers. A place of breathtaking natural beauty where it's said that the goddess Pele visited to re-energize after traveling, Ko Olina was also a sacred place of renewal for Kamehameha the Great and his wife, Ka`ahumanu. Known for its sandy beaches, majestic seascapes and snorkeling, Ko Olina is home to many islanders who make their living from the rich agricultural tradition and fishing in the area.

Main Lobby

What makes this a world-class resort unlike any other?

The Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina offers you the opportunity to discover Hawai`i, while experiencing everything you want from a vacation-leisure, adventure, family time and romance. Designed with families in mind, there's so much for each member of your family to do and see that you can choose to enjoy a complete vacation here-or venture out to nearby points of interest. You can spend hours just exploring the grounds. Pathways wind throughout a wonderland of water, with a river, large pools, waterslides and sparkling lagoons. Children will particularly enjoy the resort's fish ponds and tide pools filled with bright native sea life. Symbolic of the balance and harmony of masculine and feminine elements, 2 streams join together in a waterfall that flows into the tropical garden, giving way to majestic stands of coconut palms, then sandy beach. A family Resort, the Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina calls children to adventure. To the delight of our younger Guests, the magical and mischievous menehune (mythical Hawaiian elf-like inhabitants) are playfully hidden under lobby tables and are out in full view at the water playground, offering endless entertainment. For our adult Guests, Ko Olina offers all the amenities of a world-class resort. Unwind in our extraordinary spa, surrounded by peaceful rainbow reflections of light and color, where you can experience the traditional healing arts of Hawai`i and services, such as hydrotherapy and aromatherapy.

Site Plan

What was the inspiration for the remarkable design?

Celebrating the elegance and history of Hawai`i, the architecture and interior design of the resort takes its inspiration from Hawaiian culture. Inside and out, simplicity, fine materials and attention-to-detail reflect the layers of refined thinking that characterize Hawaiian art. The unique architecture evokes Hawaiian villages in a modern, awe-inspiring interpretation. At the Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, ancient meets modern in a way that will make you marvel at the natural beauty and sophisticated elegance. A large volcanic rock passes from outside to inside the glass lobby wall. This reverence for nature is seen throughout, with volcanic stone columns that line the hallway, works of art perched in the crowns of lava rock rising from the lobby floor, and the lavish use of wood. Pools of water traverse the lobby, one tranquil and filled with lilies, the other rocky and wild, rushing out towards the sea. A dramatic, pitched-beam ceiling soars upward, enhancing the open-air ambiance created by walls of glass. Torch lights and calabash-inspired bowl lamps bring warmth to the interiors. Rooms are appointed with lustrous wood and Hawaiian elements, from the geometric patterns inspired by kapa cloth (textiles made from tree bark) to the craftsmanship you encounter at every turn.

Back of the Resort

What was the approach to creating this Resort?

Disney Imagineers teamed up with members of the local community to determine how the story of the Resort & Spa would unfold for Guests. Through this collaborative approach, the team sought to create an experience of total engagement with the land-revealed through storytelling. Examples of storytelling elements include the lobby mural depicting Hawaiian life and the pathfinding symbols on the floor, pointing makai, "towards the ocean," or mauka, "towards the mountain." Storytelling elements are woven together into an experience for each member of the family, in a journey of discovery and wonder at Ko Olina, "Fulfillment of Joy."

Kids Club


Be sure to register on this website, so we can send you communications as news is announced and our grand opening gets closer.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Whale of a Tale - from Pinocchio

When you love someone, their life can mean more to you than your own

To become a real boy, all the wooden puppet, Pinocchio, had to do was be brave, truthful, and unselfish. But he was having trouble living up to any of those ideals. He had already lied to the Blue Fairy. And then he had been weak and selfish by going to Pleasure Island, where he had smoked cigars, played pool, and almost been turned into a donkey.

Ashamed, Pinocchio swam back to the mainland with Jiminy Cricket. Outside Geppetto's workshop, Pinocchio cried, "Father! Father, I'm home!". No one Answered. Geppetto was gone. And, from the look of the dust and cobwebs, he had been gone a while.

As Pinocchio and Jiminy sat outside, a dove dropped a piece of paper at their feet. The note said that Geppetto had gone looking for Pinocchio and been swallowed by a whale named Monstro. Apparently Geppetto was still alive inside the whale, which was resting at the bottom of the sea.

"I'm going to find my father," Pinocchio declared. "I'm going to the bottom of the sea."

On a high cliff, Pinocchio tied a heavy rock to his tail. Jiminy grabbed hold of the rope and plunged into the water with Pinocchio. At the bottom of the sea, Jiminy grabbed a smaller rock to use as a weight. Pinocchio wandered into a school of fish, and before he knew it, he was swept into the whale's belly.

Pinocchio saw his father sitting forlornly in his fishing boat.

"Father!" cried Pinocchio. "I've come to save you."

"No, Pinocchio. There's no way out. Monstro only opens his mouth when he's eating. Then everything comes in - nothing goes out."

Pinocchio thought hard. "Father! We'll build a big fire, and the smoke will make Monstro sneeze!"

They started a blaze with some of the wood from Geppetto's boat. As the flames grew, Pinocchio and Geppetto hastily built a raft with the remaining wood.

The whale shook, then sneezed. The tremendous force sent the little raft hurtling out of Monstro's mouth.

The furious whale swam beneath the raft and thrust it into the air. Geppetto and Pinocchio tumbled into the sea. "Hurry, Father!" cried Pinocchio.

"I can't make it, son. Save yoursel."

"No, Father, I won't leave you!" Pinocchio grabbed Geppetto's shirt and dragged him to shore. There was no way he was going to lose sight of his father now.

Later, after both Pinocchio and Geppetto were safely at home, the Blue Fairy rewarded Pinocchio by making him into a real boy.

He had proven himself brave, truthful and unselfish.

Monday, July 26, 2010

How to Draw Disney Princesses

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Sunday, July 25, 2010


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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Annual Trip to Disneyland!

Irene, 47, Los Angeles, CA

Thankful at Walt Disney 
My parents worked very hard all year to make sure we (I was the oldest girl with three younger brothers) always made our annual trip to Disneyland every summer. Mom would wake us up early and dress us in outfits she bought especially for the occasion. We made sure lemonade on Main Street was always our first stop.

My fondest memory as a little girl was watching Mary Poppins with her umbrella move across the sky – I was amazed and completely convinced she was real. And who could forget the fireworks that lit up the sky or watching the parade and naming all the characters? At the end of the day, our last stop was browsing through the gift shops ... those wonderful memories will live on forever!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Haunted Mansion / Guillermo del Toro and the Media

Haunted Mansion Inspires New Movie by The Walt Disney Studios and Guillermo del Toro
posted on July 22nd, 2010 by Heather Hust Rivera, Manager, Print and Social Media, Disneyland Resort

Have you heard the news? One of your top five favorite Disneyland park attractions is the focus of a new film from The Walt Disney Studios.

The original Disneyland park attraction, the Haunted Mansion, that debuted in August of 1969 has now inspired a new film for The Walt Disney Studios by well-known filmmaker Guillermo del Toro. A new piece of artwork was also unveiled by the Studios and is featured below.

Haunted Mansion Logo

Announced at Comic-Con today, del Toro surprised thousands of fans with the news. In speaking about the new project, del Toro said, “I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of my own adaptation of the original theme park attraction Walt envisioned and that remains- for me- the most desirable piece of real estate in the whole world!”

Rich Ross, Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, remarked “Millions of people from around the world visit The Haunted Mansion each year, but no one has ever had a tour guide like Guillermo del Toro. Guillermo is one of the most gifted and innovative filmmakers working today and he is going to take audiences on a visually-thrilling journey like they’ve never experienced before.”

What do you think of this exciting news?

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - In his first move since deciding not to direct "The Hobbit" movies, Guillermo del Toro has decided to bring Disney's Haunted Mansion ride to the big screen.
Del Toro announced his involvement in the project Thursday at Comic-Con during a surprise appearance at the end of the "Tron" session.

Del Toro, who checked out of "The Hobbit" in May because of production delays, will co-write and produce the movie, to be called "The Haunted Mansion." He may direct the film as well. Before his appearance, he offered The Hollywood Reporter an exclusive account of how the project came together.

"It's going to be a thrill ride for the whole family but it's definitely going to be scary," he said. "(Walt) Disney is one of the creators of some of the scariest images in my childhood. People forget that he not only made sweet images but also images of nightmare. We need to honor that side of the legacy."
One thing is clear, though. The new Mansion movie will have no connection to Disney's earlier attempt to turn the ride into a movie with the 2003 Eddie Murphy supernatural comedy also titled "The Haunted Mansion."

Disney hopes to stir up mass appeal by drawing on Del Toro's ability to summon up fantastic images like those he created in "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Hellboy."

"We want a scary movie that's as scary as the ride. If you're 11 years old, you can go on the ride but it's still scary," said Disney production head Sean Bailey. "Tonally we're going to make a movie that is for families but is a fun and, at times, scary movie."

Del Toro's involvement began with a conversation between Bailey and Disney executive Brigham Taylor who, while going through the company's library, alighted on "Mansion," which they thought could benefit from a retelling. Del Toro was in New Zealand at the time working on "The Hobbit," and Taylor flew down to visit the filmmaker to discuss "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark," a horror thriller del Toro was producing for Disney label Miramax.

Taylor floated him the idea of redoing the Mansion movie, which del Toro sparked to do. But since he had his hands full with "Hobbit," he hoped that Disney could wait to develop "Mansion" until he was done with those movies.

Then, to the dismay of many Tolkien and film fans alike, del Toro stepped off "Hobbit" in late May. "Part of the reason I had to get back is that I had projects pending. There were other obligations that were clashing," he said.

There was no time for mourning as he immediately went back to work on the other projects that had been put in deep freeze, as he puts it. But he also wanted to tackle "Mansion" as soon as possible. "It's not a movie I could postpone," he said. "'Haunted Mansion' will take special development."

So he and Disney started up talks again. The ride has long been one of del Toro's obsessions. He was three the first time he rode it and even now uses it as a form of therapy. "When I'm depressed or when I have a problem, I ride the Haunted Mansion ride to clear my head," he confessed.

He even has a room dedicated to "Mansion" in his home -- filled with secret bookcases, wallpaper from the original ride, and original art from Imagineer and "Mansion" ride co-designer Marc Davis -- something at which Bailey and Taylor marveled when they went over on a Saturday for a brainstorming session.

That session was such a success Disney quietly began to put a deal in place. Del Toro will co-write the script with Matthew Robbins, with whom he wrote his 1997 film "Mimic" and the upcoming "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark," as well as produce. Whether he directs will be decided at a later date and depend on the status of his other projects.

The "Mansion" ride opened at Disneyland in 1969 and also has been a fixture at Walt Disney World since the 1970s. Walt Disney began drawing up plans for the attraction before his death in 1966, but without Disney as the final arbiter, the ride developed and ultimately combined two distinct visions: a scary and dark one, led by Imagineers Rolly Crump and Claude Coats, and a more humorous, tongue-in-check approach, led by Davis.

"The result is a unique combination of dark and fun," said del Toro. "I want to really honor the two sensibilities."

One of its conceits, which the movie will also use, is that the mansion is home to 999 haunts and 999 ghosts (with room for one more!).

Specific plot details -- as well as what kind of creatures will be featured -- are being guarded as if shut in a coffin, but one ghost that will appear is the Hatbox Ghost, who is dressed in a cloak and top hat, and whose head disappears and reappears in a hatbox the ghost holds in his hand.

"There are several mansions around the world and he is the spider in the center of the web of these mansions around the world," said del Toro. "He will be a pivotal figure in the screenplay."

Del Toro and Disney are anticipating a longer-than-usual development process. He wants to not only nail down a script but also the designs of the ghostly multitude.

He also wants to spend time creating a visually stylized world not just for the mansion but for the "real" world as well, mixing the ideas of the original concept drawing with his own visual signature. The last thing he wants is a mansion movie with a creaky musty tone.

"We want to make a haunted house movie for the 21st century," he said.

Copyright 2010 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Guillermo del Toro to direct new 'Haunted Mansion' (AP)

SAN DIEGO - Guillermo del Toro will direct a new movie remake of Disney's "Haunted Mansion."
The Oscar winner made the announcement Thursday at Comic-Con, San Diego's annual pop culture convention.

Del Toro said his film will be a scary 3-D, live-action take on what he called "the most precious real estate on Earth."

"We're making it into an e-ticket ride," del Toro said. "It will be scary and fun at the same time."
The new movie will be true to the "spirit, art and aesthetic" of the original Disneyland Haunted Mansion, where del Toro has made an annual pilgrimage since he was 3.

He said he goes on the ride to clear his head and has a Haunted Mansion-themed room at his house.
The film reboot will reintroduce the character of the Hatbox Ghost, whom del Toro described as critical to the Mansion's mythology.

The director said his movie won't be a comedy and won't star Eddie Murphy , who appeared in a previous cinematic take on the popular ride.

"This, to me, is a dream come true," del Toro said, "and I hope to steal as many props as possible."
Comic-Con continues through Sunday at the San Diego Convention Center.

Guillermo del Toro to Direct Disney's Haunted Mansion Reboot

July 22, 2010
by Alex Billington

The Haunted Mansion

Disney just announced a HUGE surprise announcement at Comic-Con: Guillermo del Toro is directing a reboot of The Haunted Mansion. After the Tron Legacy panel, which just plain kicked ass, moderator Patton Oswalt asked audiences what Disney franchise they'd want to see rebooted. Then they rolled a brief teaser logo for The Haunted Mansion and introduced del Toro to the stage. They are making it live-action, and in 3D, and will be making the mansion the scariest place on earth. "If you take the children, they will scream," del Toro said. It's one his favorite experiences and he's excited to bring it to the big screen again.

Del Toro, who was there to give his brief take on what he'll be doing with The Haunted Mansion, said that they're staying true to the art and aesthetic of the original ride that the Disney Imagineers created. They are not making a comedy and Eddie Murphy definitely won't be back. He also says that they're going to make it scary and fun, at the same time. "But the scary will be scary," del Toro promised. And for hardcore fans of the ride, the mythology is going to be created around the "Hat Box Ghost." who is returning. The original Haunted Mansion ride opened at Disneyland in 1969 and has been updated and expanded over the years.

This looks like it is the project that, sadly, del Toro had to leave The Hobbit to take on. However, I trust del Toro and if he says he's going to deliver a scary, modern Haunted Mansion movie that could become a new classic for generations to enjoy, than I think he can certainly do that. My concern is NOT that he left Hobbit for this, I care more about knowing who his replacement is. What do you think - good news or bad?

[Download] The Art of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Toontown Strengthens Family Pies

July 22, 2010
Christopher P., Sr. Staff Writer, Disney Online Studios, North Hollywood, CA

Flippy the Dog of Disney's Toontown Online
Driving through the desert, I'm a cartoon pig throwing pies at robots with my nephew, who is a cartoon dog ... hundreds of miles away. It may sound ridiculous, but that's the point – after all, this is Toontown!

My wife is at the wheel of the car, and we're heading home to Los Angeles. I'm in the passenger seat on our mobile laptop, playing Toontown Online with my nephew Hunter, age 10, who we parted company with hours ago back in Phoenix. Hunter and I had been playing Toontown together for the past two days, throwing pies at evil robot Cogs, racing karts, dueling on the mini-golf course, and playing Trolley games. When it came time for my wife and I to leave, Hunter and I didn't want to stop – and since Toontown is an online virtual world, we didn't have to. As my wife and I cruised down the highway, Hunter and I continued our fun, just like when we were together. And though we fought side-by-side against the Cogs, when it came to kart racing, he beat me handily. This is probably why, even though I work on the game, he has more Laff points than me.

Hunter and I still get together online to play, but there's been one big change – now we're joined by my wife and our niece Skyler, Hunter's sister, a family reunion of cartoon animals. It's a great way to keep in touch, because as we all know, the family that throws pies at evil robots together stays together!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"The Sorcerer's Apprentice" Casts Its Spell!

Nicolas Cage and Jay Baruchel star as Balthazar Blake and 
Dave  Stutler from Disney's "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" 
Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Jon Turteltaub (the team behind the "National Treasure" movies), Disney's live-action film "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" sweeps into theaters July 14 with all the explosive visual effects, car chases, and big-screen brouhaha Bruckheimer's famous for ... not to mention a contemporary twist on spell casting that would make Mickey proud.

The action-packed comic fantasy-adventure introduces Nicolas Cage as Balthazar Blake, a 1,000-year-old master sorcerer determined to defend mankind (and the lower East Side) from the impending chaos wreaked by arch-nemesis Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina). Their centuries-old rivalry lands the sorcerers (both previously mentored by Merlin himself) in modern-day Manhattan for a good versus evil battle that draws physics nerd Dave Stutler (Jay Baruchel) into the hex-happy mix. Unaware of his own mystical powers, Dave reluctantly joins forces with Balthazar, who proceeds to school him with a crash course in magic. Together they take on Maxim's wrath ... and a few of the fiercest foes that ever escaped from an ancient urn.

One of the biggest challenges was breathing new life into the dancing broom sequence from "Fantasia," 69 years after its initial release. Bruckheimer, who loved the concept of sorcery running amok in the Big Apple, credits the director for making it work on-screen. "It was difficult because the original was so inventive, but Jon's a good storyteller with a great sense of humor ... he figured out a way to make it fresh and interesting for audiences using new technology, CGI effects, and music. We're very happy with the result – he did an amazing job."

"You need a good idea at the core, which is why 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' works – it's based on something that's classical. We literally built a whole movie around one sequence thanks to a fabulous director, great writers, and actors who fulfilled everyone's vision of what we dreamed of while developing the project."

Stellar casting brought that vision, as well as the film's quirky characters, to life. How did Cage infuse Balthazar with eccentricity and magic? According to director Jon Turteltaub, "Nic's an imposing, intense, powerful presence ... there's something very strong and masculine about him. It was really important that this sorcerer be an intimidating figure. We always feel safe around the dangerous person who's on your side more than the nice person. Nic has an edge without losing his sensitivity, heart, and goodness. Most actors draw on elements within themselves that feel right for the character, then pick moments where they can make it their own – and Nic really knows how to do that."

Computer-generated special effects were interspersed with live mechanical and physical stunts to create some pretty amazing scenes: Balthazar and Maxim's blastastic duels, a parallel-dimension car chase through Times Square, the confetti-strewn Chinatown celebration, and the sorcerers' final blowout in lower Manhattan's Bowling Green Park. Hundreds of artists were led by an Academy Award®-winning visual and special effects team to create a more magical city than most native New Yorkers could ever imagine. The only real obstacles encountered by film crews were high-volume city traffic (pedestrian and vehicular) and 38 straight days of rain.

Set dressers faced another type of problem altogether – finding enough unique, mystical-looking items to fill Arcana Cabana, Balthazar's downtown curio shop. Though filmmakers spent a lot of time looking at potential locations in Greenwich Village, they eventually built the shop's set from scratch because, as Turteltaub puts it, "Most stores didn't want to be set on fire."

With trickery that includes Chinese street dragons-turned-real, telekinetic flying objects, and fire bolts powered by pyrokinesis, the filmmakers and actors all agree that their ultimate goal was simple – to entertain audiences. Nic's quick to add, "I just want to make good films and tried to channel the spirit of Walt Disney and 'Fantasia' ... I think he [Walt] would have been happy with this."

Experience the all-new world of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" July 14, when ancient spells, dragon rings, and dancing brooms will whisk you away with classic Disney magic!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

To Infinity and Beyond

July 20, 2010
Shannon, 26, Philadelphia, PA

My Dream Place ... 
In 2005, we traveled to Disney World and had a wonderful vacation. My husband's job is very stressful and Disney World is the only place I've ever seen him relax. It's like pure magic! We always plan our vacations in August before the kids start school for an end-of-summer celebration.

As you can imagine, August in Florida is extremely hot and our son Ian was only two. Because of the heat, we had a very cranky toddler on our hands by the time we finally arrived at the Toy Story photo shoot. Ian and his five-year-old sister Katie absolutely love Toy Story – Jessie is Katie's favorite and Ian adores Buzz Lightyear. In fact, his nickname has always been Buzz.

We waited in the long lines and he was beside himself crying. Buzz Lightyear came over unexpectedly, knelt down, and extended his arms to Ian. Our "Buzz" leapt down and ran straight to his hero. The smile on his face truly lasted from Infinity to Beyond. He doesn't remember much about that vacation except that one magical moment.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Disneyland 55th Anniversary

Disneyland continues to capture the hearts and imaginations of millions of guests every year. And in celebration of the park's milestone anniversary, cast members and guests will gather for a birthday celebration honoring the happiest place on Earth and listen to the opening day speech Walt Disney gave to the park's first guests back in 1955.

"Disneyland is your land," as Walt said on the park's opening day, 55 years ago today. "Here age relives fond memories of the past… and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America… with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world."
"To all who come to this happy place, welcome," Walt famously said. "Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past… and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America… with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world."

As Disneyland Resort and The Walt Disney Company pause to remember how it all started, the resort looks forward to even more new events and attractions planned for 2011 and beyond. Rapunzel, the newest Disney princess and star of the upcoming animated feature Tangled, will begin greeting guests of all ages at a location in Fantasyland in October. The new 3D Star Tours adventures will debut in 2011 in Disneyland, taking voyagers — for the first time — to Coruscant and other destinations in the Stars Wars galaxy. The power of 'the force" and the magic of Disney once again will combine for this immersive experience in Tomorrowland.

Across the way at Disney California Adventure even more Disney magic is coming in 2011 with the premier of The Little Mermaid — Ariel's Undersea Adventure, the next big milestone in the ongoing expansion of the park. The Little Mermaid attraction will give new meaning to the phrase "immersive Disney attraction," taking guests under the sea to experience magnificent scenes and magical songs from the popular motion picture.

Meanwhile at the Disneyland Hotel, renovation continues including a new pool and water play area, enhancements to the existing pool, a new restaurant and bar and re-theming of the hotel's three guest room towers. Three new themed suites will also join the existing Mickey Mouse and Pirates suites.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


posted on May 7th, 2010 by Heather Hust Rivera, Manager, Print and Social Media, Disneyland Resort

In the weeks leading up to the 55th anniversary of Disneyland park – July 17, 1955 – we’ll be sharing a post every week to remember 55 years of magic, dreams and imagination. We’ll start with the most recent half a decade and work our way backwards.

Premiere of 'Pirates of the 
Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest' at Disneyland Park

Each week, I’ll pick one particularly memorable event in those five years to highlight. For the years 2010 to 2006, I chose the premiere of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” at Disneyland park on June 29, 2006. The red carpet was amazing, and it was a really fun event to work. Pirates of the Carribbean is also one of my favorite attractions, so I was thrilled when the attraction celebrated 40 years of swashbuckling, pillaging and singing with a movie premiere at Disneyland park AND by adding new magic to the classic attraction. In case you’ve forgotten, Captain Jack Sparrow, Captain Barbosa and Davy Jones joined the attraction, and a revamped sound system and other special effects made Pirates of the Caribbean better than ever.

Premiere of 'Pirates of the 
Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest' at Disneyland Park

You may certainly disagree with my choice. It’s really difficult to choose just one event, so please feel free to share your opinions on your favorite event or favorite memory that took place in the years mentioned in each post. 

A lot happened in the past five years. Here’s a snapshot to refresh your memory:

2010Captain EO returned almost two decades after it first debuted. Opening day was quite a scene as fans came out in complete EO garb to see the show.

2009 – New magic was added to Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers visited the Disneyland Resort to celebrate his fourth NBA championship.

2008Toy Story Mania! inspired by Disney•Pixar’s “Toy Story” films debuted at Disney’s California Adventure park. In Adventureland, the Enchanted Tiki Room celebrated 45 years of singing birds, plants and totem poles. The year 2008 also saw the return of a re-imagined Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough attraction.

2007 – Two major re-imagined adventures on the high seas came to Disneyland park: the return of the submarines and the debut of Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island. The debut of Pirate’s Lair occurred in the same year as the premiere at Disneyland park of the third installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, “At World’s End.” Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage opened to rave reviews as the subs had been missing from Tomorrowland for nine years.

2006 – In addition to the changes to Pirates of the Caribbean, this year was also a year of firsts as Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort debuted. Disney’s Princess Fantasy Faire and the Jedi Training Academy also debuted this year, allowing guests the opportunity to meet with Disney royalty or battle Darth Vader and Darth Maul.

It’s your turn. What do you think is the most memorable event between 2006 and 2010 at the Disneyland Resort?

posted on May 14th, 2010 by Heather Hust Rivera, Manager, Print and Social Media, Disneyland Resort

 50th Anniversary

Last week, we started counting down the days to the 55th anniversary at the Disneyland Resort by sharing highlights from the most recent half a decade.

This week we’re looking back to 2005 through 2001.

This week, I chose the 50th anniversary celebration on July 17 as the event I found most memorable in this five-year period. The re-dedication ceremony was full of fanfare and concluded with Walt Disney’s eldest daughter, Diane Disney Miller, re-dedicating Disneyland park the same way her father did in 1955.

One of the things I remember most about the 50th anniversary was the golden versions of some of my favorite Fantasyland attractions.

 50th Anniversary

Here’s a look at some of the events around the Resort in 2005 through 2001. What do you remember best?

2005 – A 50th anniversary celebrity kick-off event included Julie Andrews, Steve Martin and Tim Allen. Sleeping Beauty castle underwent a beauty makeover, complete with crowns. “Remember…Dreams Come True” fireworks show made its debut. Neil Armstorng re-dedicated Space Mountain. Disneyland park was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Animation Academy and Turtle Talk with Crush premiered at Disney’s California Adventure park.

2004 – Over at Hollywood Pictures Backlot, guests began having hair-raising experiences when The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror opened May 4. At Disneyland park, three Olympic gold medalists took to the water at the Disneyland Resort in a pool built in the middle of Main Street, U.S.A. during the final stop of the “Disney’s Swim With the Stars” tour. “Snow White – An Enchanting New Musical” debuted. Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel completed a renovation in June featuring redesigned guest rooms, an enhanced lobby and a new pool area with a waterslide.

2003 – “Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage!” came to Disney’s California Adventure park and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh debuted at Disneyland park. Jingles and the rest of King Arthur Carrousel’s 72 steeds were ready for guests again after an extensive refurbishment. In June the Pirates franchise was born when we rolled out the red carpet on Main Street, U.S.A. for a Hollywood-style premiere of “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.”

2002 – “a bug’s land” opened at Disney’s California Adventure park, offering guests the chance to see the world through a bug’s eyes. In October, the first CHOC/Disneyland Resort Walk in the Park saw 11,000 participants stroll through the Resort. After baseball’s fall classic had ended, the Resort was awash in a sea of red as fans came out to cheer the Angels in a victory celebration. The year ended with three wishes as the Disney’s California Adventure production of “Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular” had its first performance.

2001 – This year saw the completion of the largest expansion in Disneyland history at that time, and on just the second day of the year, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel welcomed its first guests. Shortly after, Downtown Disney opened the doors to its shopping, dining and entertainment venues, while Disney’s California Adventure park celebrated its grand opening in February. Over at Disneyland park, Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante opened in Frontierland. On July 4, guest favorite “Disney’s Electrical Parade” returned after an absence of almost five years to light up the streets of Disney’s California Adventure park. Grim grinning ghosts celebrated the holidays with the first appearance of Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland park, and band lovers celebrated “The Power of Blast!” at the Hyperion Theater at Disney’s California Adventure park, featuring brass and percussion instruments and choreography reminiscent of a halftime spectacular.

What’s your favorite event or memory at the Disneyland Resort between 2005 and 2001?

posted on May 21st, 2010 by Heather Hust Rivera, Manager, Print and Social Media, Disneyland Resort


This is the third installment in a series of posts counting down the weeks to the 55th anniversary on July 17. As you probably know, we’re counting backwards and have already covered two half decades (2006-2010 and 2001-2005). This week we’re looking at highlights from 1996 to 2000.

This week I’m featuring Autopia as the most memorable attraction to open in this five-year period. I have several pictures of myself “driving” in Disneyland park over the years, and while I wasn’t at the Park in 2000 for this re-opening, this attraction certainly evokes some strong memories for me.

Counting backwards, here’s a look at what happened from 2000 to 1996 to help you pick your favorite:

2000 – A brand new parade – 45 Years of Magic Parade – and a dazzling new fireworks spectacular – Believe…There’s Magic in the Stars – debuted this year. The only original Tomorrowland attraction left from park opening, Autopia, is reimagined. Combining the old Fantasyland and Tomorrowland attractions, young drivers now cruised along a modern highway through scenic forests and past shimmering waters. 

1999Disney’s FastPass service makes its official debut with “it’s a small world” holiday in November. The Plaza Gardens undergoes a revitalization effort with a new canopy and stage. New faces can be seen throughout the park, such as Radio Disney DJs Just Plain Mark and Zippy, who begin broadcasting live from underneath the Observatron. Tarzan moves into a tree house in Adventureland.

1998 – Three new attractions transformed Tomorrowland this year, including the Astro Orbitor, “Honey I Shrunk the Audience” and Rocket Rods. Over in Fantasyland, Fantasyland Theatre received an entirely new look with a new roof and a whole new show – Anamazement – starring some of Disney’s famous animated characters.

1997 – The Hercules Victory Parade traveled through the park for the first time, celebrating Disney’s newest hero. Light Magic opened, and Main Street, U.S.A., got a lot more tasty with new locations for the Carnation Café, Blue Ribbon Bakery and Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor. On Refreshment Corner, a window was dedicated to honor Bob Penfield, the last original cast member to retire. Bob was a part of “Club 55,” which was the term for those who were on the job the day Disneyland park opened. 

1996 – A record number of guests turned out for Main Street Electrical Parade before the show dimmed the lights. The new stars from Disney•Pixar’s hit “Toy Story” opened up the Toy Story Funhouse over in Tomorrowland. In Frontierland another guest experience premiered at Big Thunder Ranch. The Hunchback of Notre Dame Festival of Fools completely immersed the audience in an exciting song, dance and fun-filled extravaganza. 

So, what’s your favorite event or memory? Is there anything that happened in these years that you forgot about or is news to you?

TARZAN® Owned by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. and Used by Permission, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. and Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

posted on May 27th, 2010 by Heather Hust Rivera, Manager, Print and Social Media, Disneyland Resort

This latest post in a series counting down the weeks to the 55th anniversary focuses on the highlights between 1991 and 1995. These were huge years. A whole new land was added to Disneyland park, a gigantic attraction debuted in Adventureland, and one of the most beloved nighttime spectaculars premiered on the Rivers of America.

My favorite? While arguably not the biggest new addition to the Disneyland Resort in this five-year period, Fantasmic! is probably my favorite. The show has an epic feel to it. Fantasmic! has a rich story, includes more than 100 cast and crew members, and is one of the best shows to see all of my favorite characters in one place. The photo below is from the opening event on May 1992.

A Fantasmic Moment at Disneyland Park

In case you’ve forgotten, here’s a look back at this half decade, jam-packed with new attractions and shows:

1995Indiana Jones Adventure (TM), the thrilling off-road journey through an ancient temple, blazed its way to Disneyland park. On July 17, a time capsule was buried in the Sleeping Beauty Castle forecourt containing items that would not be revealed until the park’s 80th anniversary. The dance club Videopolis was transformed into Fantasyland Theatre, featuring the all-new stage show “The Spirit of Pocahontas.” The Disneyland Resort expanded to include the Disneyland Hotel’s next-door neighbor, the Pan Pacific Hotel, which was transformed into the Disneyland Pacific Hotel (and later Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel).

1994Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin welcomed its first fares on the one-year anniversary of Mickey’s Toontown. This innovative dark ride featured vehicles that could be rotated in any direction or speed. One of the biggest parades in Disneyland park history debuted, as “The Lion King Celebration” showcased unique Audio-Animatronics and larger-than-life puppets along with more than 100 live performers. The park said goodbye to a longtime favorite, as the Skyway attraction connecting Fantasyland and Tomorrowland closed after 38 years of operation. 1994 also brought the spring break which saw Disneyland park go Pog Wild and Rollerblade Crazy.

1993 – The toons finally received their very own home in Mickey’s Toontown, the first all-new land added to Disneyland park in over 20 years. Featuring a gag-filled downtown inspired by the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the cartoon-like design was influenced by the personalities of the characters living there, with Donald taking up residence in a boat while Chip and Dale inhabited an acorn tree. With Aladdin hitting theatres in the summer, a Royal Caravan parade made its way to Main Street, U.S.A., while the Tahitian Terrace in Adventureland was replaced by a new restaurant, Aladdin’s Oasis. As Mickey Mouse celebrated his 65th birthday, the “Partners” statue featuring Walt Disney that sits in Disneyland park’s Central Plaza was also dedicated.

1992 – Mickey Mouse ignited the night for the first time with Fantasmic!, an epic battle between good and evil on the Rivers of America featuring water, pyrotechnic and laser effects. Though the show begins its 19th year this summer, it wasn’t the only entertainment of note in 1992. Coinciding with the theatrical release, a live Beauty and the Beast stage show debuted on the Videopolis stage, which ran for several years and eventually inspired the Broadway smash. Goofy also celebrated his sixtieth birthday with the larger than life parade, “The World According to Goofy,“ and opened his first restaurant as Goofy’s Kitchen debuted at the Disneyland Hotel. The park’s biggest special event was the private 60th birthday party of actress Elizabeth Taylor, featuring a performance of “Happy Birthday” led by Barry Manilow.

1991 – As the Persian Gulf War came to an end, Disneyland park honored thousands of veterans returning home from the region with a daily cavalcade from April 17 to June 17. The park also helped raise money for the U.S. Olympic Committee with Olympic Salutes, a five-mile cast member torch relay in June leading to Sleeping Beauty Castle. Elsewhere in the park, the Blue Ribbon Bakery opened its doors on Main Street, U.S.A., and those with fond memories of watching Darkwing Duck and Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers after school remember the thrill of meeting their favorite stars live at Disney Afternoon Avenue. This temporary Fantasyland attraction featured the TaleSpin stage show “Plane Crazy” at Videopolis, plus redressed rides including the Rescue Rangers Raceway (Fantasyland Autopia) and the Motor Boat Cruise to Gummi Glen (of Gummi Bears fame).

©Disney/Lucasfilm Ltd.
What is your favorite attraction or memory between 1991 and 1995?

posted on June 4th, 2010 by Heather Hust Rivera, Manager, Print and Social Media, Disneyland Resort

Splash Mountain

The countdown to the 55th anniversary continues! Today we’re looking back to 1986 through 1990.
I spoke with my colleague and longtime publicist John McClintock, who celebrated his 23rd anniversary with the Disneyland Resort just last month, and asked him what he remembers best during these years. John recalls, “Star Tours had just opened when I arrived in Disneyland Public Relations. Work was just getting under way on Splash Mountain. So we had this one-of-a-kind Tomorrowland space adventure and we were working on this flume ride, not only the first in a Disney theme park but with an enormous cast of characters, the longest steepest drop and the most elaborate show of any flume ride anywhere. It wasn’t hard, even for the new kid on the block, to get excited about what we were publicizing.”

For those who may not have visited Disneyland park at this time or those who might not remember, here’s an overview of this half decade.

1990 – Disneyland park celebrated its 35th anniversary with “Disneyland Big” and a new parade called Party Gras that featured a parade float that towered 37 feet. The Dream Machine, located in Central Plaza, gave some fortunate guests an opportunity to try their luck to win one of many prizes that included Walt Disney Home Videos, a Mickey Mouse plush or even a new car. 

1989 – Splash Mountain debuts and is the fastest, tallest and steepest flume attraction at its time! Disneyland park welcomed its 300 millionth Guest with a new marquee in 1989. The new marquee featured a digital board with changing messages and fiber optics that helped the name Disneyland sparkle at night. “Blast to the Past” returned with Chubby Checker and 2,248 guests breaking the record for most people doing the twist in one location. In the winter, the “One Man’s Dream” show premiered at Videopolis.

1988 – The celebration of 60 years with Mickey Mouse started with a visit to Disneyland park by Earforce One, a 100-foot hot air balloon. In November, five thousand children from North America and parts of Asia were treated to a day at Disneyland park to celebrate. The ’50s were also celebrated in Disneyland Blast to the Past, and the Main Street Hop filled the street with cast members dressed in poodle skirts and saddle shoes. In 1988, Disneyland park set the record for the most people hula hooping at the same time in one location – 1,527 people gathered in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle to break the record. Also in this year, Disney purchased the Disneyland Hotel from the Wrather Company, and Bear Country’s name was changed to Critter Country in preparation for Splash Mountain. 

1987 – Star Tours officially opens at Disneyland park in January! A galaxy far far away was brought a lot closer as Star Tours began transporting guests to Endor in a new type of experience, combining military grade flight simulation and a first-person perspective of flight scenes. The Disney Gallery also opened its doors above the Pirates of the Caribbean and offers guests an opportunity to view unique Disney art.

1986 – With a party that lasted 60 hours, Captain EO leaped off the screen in Tomorrowland for the first time, giving guests an intergalactic musical adventure that could only initially be seen at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort (and nowhere else in the universe). On the other side of the park, Big Thunder Ranch opened, and for the first time, guests could visit with some of the animals from the Circle D Corral. Guests could also visit the new Big Thunder Barbecue where they could drink from a glass jar and get their food from the “chuck wagon.”

So, what do you remember best during these years?

posted on June 9th, 2010 by Heather Hust Rivera, Manager, Print and Social Media, Disneyland Resort

We’re going back…waaay back to 1981 through 1985 in this week’s countdown to the 55th anniversary of Disneyland park. 

Certainly, one of the biggest transformations at Disneyland in this half decade is the re imagining of Fantasyland in 1983. Kim Irvine, Director, Concept and Show Design at Walt Disney Imagineering, worked on the Fantasyland project in 1983. 

Kim recalls, “I have worked on many Disneyland projects in my 35+ years with Walt Disney Imagineering, but one of my all time favorites was the new Fantasyland in 1983. John Hench had spoken often of the little fairytale village that Herb Ryman had originally drawn for Fantasyland, but apparently time and budget had constrained it to the jousting tournament tent facades that were ultimately built. Finally, here we were, 27 years later, creating that village that Walt had hoped for! It is a delightful collection of European styles from the English Tudor of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and Peter Pan’s Flight to the Tyrolean charm of Pinocchio’s Daring Journey and Village Haus, but with lots of storybook charm and detail layered on top. Add King Arthur Carrousel in the middle and Dumbo the Flying Elephant in back, and you truly have a child’s fantasy world!

For a visual explanation of the changes to Fantasyland that Kim explains above, check out these photos of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride before and after the changes in 1983. (The photo on the left is from 1955, and the photo on the right shows how the attraction has looked since the changes in 1983).

 Mr. Toad’s Wild 
Ride  Mr. Toad’s Wild 

1985Disneyland park’s 30th anniversary was celebrated in spectacular style. A gigantic machine called the Gift Giver Extraordinaire doled out thousands of prizes to guests as they entered the gates, including brand-new GM cars to every 30,000th guest; Disneyland park stayed open for a full 24 hours to mark the actual anniversary on July 17. A new version of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln premiered on Main Street, U.S.A., complete with an advanced Audio-Animatronics figure. Videopolis opened, bringing teens and young adults a place to dance the night away to the latest popular tunes. And for the first time in the park’s history, Disneyland park began operating 365 days a year (before this time, the Park was closed Mondays and Tuesdays in the off-season).

1984 – This year was a grab bag of special events and activities. Summer Olympic fever spread from Los Angeles to Disneyland park, and the pre-games Olympic Night Charity Benefit on May 24 brought in $600,000 to Team U.S.A. During the games, the park hosted hundreds of athletes on Olympic Spirit Weekends. Donald Duck finally got his due with a 50th Birthday Parade. The Magic Eye Theater replaced the Space Stage in Tomorrowland and premiered EPCOT Center’s Magic Journeys 3D film. Elsewhere in Tomorrowland, Circle-Vision 360 reopened with two new breathtaking films: “American Journeys” and “Wonders of China.” The Country Bears received a special Christmas makeover for the first time, and the New Fantasyland was finally complete with the opening of the refurbished Alice in Wonderland attraction.

1983 – Fantasy reigned in 1983, as a whole new version of Fantasyland was unveiled in May. The new land cast aside its old facades of tournament tents and banners and became the Fantasyland of Walt Disney’s imagination: a quaint little fairy-tale village, where the denizens of Disney’s classic animated features lived and thrived. Old classics like Snow White’s Adventures and Peter Pan Flight remained, but with new technology, slightly altered names (they were now Snow White’s Scary Adventures and Peter Pan’s Flight), and brand-new facades that stressed the distinct cultural origins of each characters’ story. A new adventure, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, joined the group. The whole Park celebrated the new Fantasyland with the aptly titled Flights of Fantasy Parade.

1982 – When Disneyland park first opened, guests used tickets to gain admission to individual attractions. Those tickets eventually gave way to the A–E coupons, which could be used for multiple attractions. All tickets were retired in June of 1982 and replaced with the Passport – an all-encompassing ticket providing unlimited access to all attractions and shows (except the arcades). In Frontierland, Disney Legend Wally Boag hung up his carpet bag and officially retired from the Golden Horseshoe Revue after more than 39,000 performances. The SuperSpeed Tunnel along the PeopleMover route received a futuristic makeover and became the World of Tron, showing highlights from Disney’s big summer film release, “Tron,” on massive circular screens.

1981 – The New Fantasyland was still two years away, but a project on par with that one developed in small scale along the banks of Storybook Land in June, 1981. All of the original miniature buildings and scenery details built for the Storybook Land Canal Boats attraction in 1956 were removed and replaced with brand-new ones. Efforts were made to make the replicas as similar to the originals as possible, stressing even the most minute details. In this year, Disneyland park also welcomed its 200,000,000th guest: 26-year-old Gert Schelvis of Santa Barbara, California received a lifetime pass to Disneyland, as well as an assortment of goodies from the Park’s sponsors.

What do you think is most interesting about 1981-1985 at Disneyland park? If you have a favorite memory from these years, we want to hear that, too. Let us know in the comments.

This is the 6th post in this 11-part series. To find past posts, click on the “Countdown to 55″ tag just below this post.

posted on June 18th, 2010 by Heather Hust Rivera, Manager, Print and Social Media, Disneyland Resort

Thunder Mountain Railroad
Talk about time flying! We are just flying through these half decades. In this week’s countdown to the 55th anniversary, we’re looking at 1976 to 1980.
By just glancing at the title of this post, you can tell it was another busy five years.

While it can be hard to pick just one favorite attraction or event in a half decade, there is one project that is very dear to Tony Baxter, Senior Vice President, Creative Development at Walt Disney Imagineering. It’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. We asked Tony if we would share his thoughts in this five-year period, and he gave us some insight into the thought that went into creating this attraction.

“When planning the design for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad,” Tony recalls, “we turned to National Geographic Magazine for research. There in the opening paragraph in an article on Utah’s Bryce Canyon was the statement, “When you first glimpse the canyon you will feel that it was the creation of Walt Disney…” That settled it — Bryce Canyon would be the theme for the Disneyland attraction. 

The charm of the attraction is the rockwork. If you look at rockwork in other parks you get the feeling that the train was there first, and the rocks “grew” around the train. Big Thunder Mountain is absolutely convincing because it appears that the track was laid out to fit an existing landscape.” 

Here’s a photo of Tony Baxter with a model of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad before the attraction opened.

Tony Baxter and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Before you decide what you think is the biggest addition to Disneyland park in 1976 to 1980, take a look back:

1980 – Disneyland park kicked off a year-long Silver Anniversary celebration with a pre-parade show at the Tournament of Roses on New Year’s Day in Pasadena. Several special parades and shows followed for the rest of the year, but it was a special event in March, featuring Michael Jackson and Danny Kaye, that brought national attention to the celebration. On July 17, the 25th anniversary of the park’s opening, doors were open for 25 straight hours. In April, Family Reunion Night Celebration brought out several famous Disney faces, including Jackson, Fred MacMurray, Ernest Borgnine as well as the Carpenters, Ray Bradbury and even…Elliot Gould.

1979 – Disneyland park welcomed its first birth: Teresa Salcedo was born on a busy July 4th near Main Street, U.S.A., and she was later presented with the official “Disneyland Birth Certificate No. 1.” Teresa wasn’t the only new addition, as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad took its maiden trip in September. Celebrating his 75th birthday in grand style, Count Basie welcomed several of his closest celebrity pals to a summer party, including Sammy Davis Jr. and Ed McMahon Other hot names (for the time) who showed up throughout the year included Peaches and Herb, Evelyn “Champagne” King and Buddy Rich.

1978 – Mickey Mouse’s 50th birthday was all the rage, as special shows and parades were peppered throughout the year. The official celebration took place on Nov. 18 and 19, with Annette Funicello and other fave Mouseketeers on hand to celebrate. New elements were added to the popular Matterhorn Bobsleds, while the Disneyland Hotel opened the 13-story Bonita Tower, the first hotel in the U.S. with a solar heating system. Grad Nite continued its popular run, growing to eight parties for 821 high school graduating classes.
1977 – Openings and closings highlighted the year, as famed astronauts, including Alan Shepard, gathered for the opening of Space Mountain…and Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland closed after 21 years to make way for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. In addition to Space Mountain, Tomorrowland also debuted the PeopleMover SuperSpeed Tunnel, Starcade, and the Space Place restaurant. Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade returned for the summer after a two-year break, while an all-new Very Merry Christmas Parade bowed for the Christmas seasons.

1976 – Disneyland park welcomed its 150,000,000th visitor – Elsie Mae Houck of Tulare, Calif. It also welcomed a slew of “name” guests during the year, including Olympic gold medal darling Nadia Comaneci and Alabama governor George Wallace. On the entertainment side, a special Thanksgiving show featured singer Pearl Bailey on a Rivers of America floating stage, while Disney fans got a chance to walk down memory lane as the original Mouseketeers gathered at the park for a 20-year reunion of the Mickey Mouse Club. Adding to the magic, Jungle Cruise underwent major changes with seven new scenes and 31 new Audio-Animatronics animals.

Ok, so what do you think the biggest change at Disneyland park is during these years? If you visited the park during this time, what’s your favorite memory?

posted on June 24th, 2010 by Heather Hust Rivera, Manager, Print and Social Media, Disneyland Resort

Have you been following our countdown to the 55th anniversary of Disneyland park? This is the 8th post in an 11-part series in which we look back at a different half-decade every week. This week, we’re looking at 1971-1975.

I spoke with my colleague and Disney Parks Blog contributor, George Savvas, and I really enjoyed hearing about one of his first memories of Disneyland park, which was largely influenced by America Sings.

America Sings

George recalls, “I came to see it on a field trip with my elementary school. It made such an impression me. I had never seen anything like it before. When I think of it now, I’m not sure I’d have ever heard many of those songs if I hadn’t seen America Sings over and over again through the years. I still remember all those songs even now! The best part was the finale – there were so many characters on stage. Every time I’m over at Innoventions I remember Sam and that school field trip – oh, and the weasel, of course.” 
Before you pick the attraction that you think is the most impressive addition between 1971 and 1975, read about what else happened during these years.
1975 – Disneyland park celebrated its 20th anniversary and began a 15-month salute to the U.S.A. Bicentennial with the most elaborate parade in the park’s history – “America on Parade,” which featured 50 floats and 150 giant performers at least eight feet tall, in addition to an all-new red, white and blue fireworks spectacular “Fantasy in the Sky.” Disneyland park welcomed back Christine Vess Watkins and Michael Schwartner, the park’s first visitors in 1955. Mission to Mars, an updated version of Flight to the Moon, was an exciting journey deep into space, since man had already reached the moon in real life. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln returned to Main Street, U.S.A. as a featured part of The Walt Disney Story.
1974 – Disneyland park was featured in two televised specials, “Sandy in Disneyland” starring Sandy Duncan, in April, and “Herbie Day at Disneyland” in July. In Tomorrowland, America Sings, a humorous musical review, opened in the Carousel Theatre with a cast of 110 comical Audio-Animatronic animals singing America’s favorite heritage folk music and campfire tunes led by emcee Sam the Eagle. It replaced General Electric’s Carousel of Progress. The Main Street Electrical Parade entertained millions of summertime visitors, as did the All-American College Marching Band and a new addition, The Kids of the Kingdom. Special events included Alice in Wonderland Days, Viva Mexico, Disneyland and All That Jazz, “Herbie Rides Again” Days, and “Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too” Days.
1973 – Disney celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney Productions with the opening of “The Walt Disney Story” in April, attended by Mrs. Walt Disney, and a special tribute October 20-21 that included special parades, a cartoon festival and complimentary posters, attended by more than 100,000 guests. Disneyland Showcase, located in Town Square, displayed models and artist renderings of new attractions planned for future expansion at the park. Special events included a Viva Mexico Salute, Star Spangled Holidays, Festival Pan American Saludos Amigos, Big Band Festival and Angels-Disneyland Fun Day. Cary Grant narrated the Christmas Candlelight Procession. General Electric’s “Carousel of Progress” closed to the public on Sept. 9 in preparation for relocation to the Walt Disney World Resort.
1972 – Disneyland park added Bear Country as a seventh land on the far corner of Frontierland. A new production of Walt Disney World, Country Bear Jamboree, was brought to Disneyland park, and new eatery Hungry Bear Restaurant opened. What was to become the most popular entertainment feature in all Disney parks, the Main Street Electrical Parade, debuted as a major summer nighttime feature with millions of tiny lights creating images from Disney animated film classics. Winnie the Pooh campaigned for president with a red-white-and-blue parade and pep rally on Main Street, U.S.A. Rock ‘n Roll Reunion sparked September entertainment with Frankie Avalon, Chuck Berry, The Drifters and The Platters. Disneyland Hotel opened a $7.2 million Convention Center with a 29,000 square-foot exhibit hall and an 18,000 square-foot Grand Ballroom.
1971 – An amazing attendance mark was recorded when Disneyland greeted its 100-millionth visitor in just under 16 years. The lucky 100-millionth guest Valerie Suldo from New Brunswick, N.J., came through the gates on June 17, launching a summer-long celebration of entertainment called “Year of One Million Smiles.” The world’s biggest New Year’s Eve party was celebrated with 23,000 guests on hand, the largest number in Disneyland history. New in Frontierland, Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes were introduced as a way to see the Rivers of America. The year marked the debut of the first All-American College Marching Band. During the four-day President’s Holiday in February, the park rolled out lavish red-white-and-blue “I Am an American” ceremonies in Town Square. Sadly, the year ended with the death of Roy O. Disney on Dec. 20. Walt Disney’s brother was co-founder of Walt Disney Productions and chairman of the board.
Which of these attractions do you think made the biggest impression between 1971 and 1975? Do you have a personal favorite?
If you missed the previous 7 stories in which we looked at the milestones between 1976 and 2010, click the “Countdown to 55” tag below to get caught up.

posted on July 9th, 2010 by Heather Hust Rivera, Manager, Print and Social Media, Disneyland Resort

Walt Disney in the Enchanted Tiki Room
It’s just one week and one day before the 55th anniversary of Disneyland park, on July 17, 2010.
This week’s countdown covers 1965 to 1961. During this time, the Enchanted Tiki Room, the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and Flying Saucers all debuted at the Park.
The Enchanted Tiki Room stands out as a personal favorite for Kevin Kidney, a Disney artist who is well-known for his art and collectibles that are created for this classic attraction.
Kevin explains why The Enchanted Tiki Room is one of his favorite attractions: “The design of the Enchanted Tiki Room just thrills me, from the peaked-roofed exterior with the lanai full of Imagineer Rolly Crump’s whimsical Tiki god characters, to the dark interior crammed with all the great details. As a kid, I actually tried to build those fantastic bamboo-slat windows that “rain.” If I could live inside Disneyland, I would want my house to be the Tiki Room.”
What do you think? What is your favorite attraction that was added during this time?
1965 – Disneyland park marked its first decade with a yearlong “Tencennial.” Celebration elements included parkwide decorations, a grand parade and numerous special events throughout the year. To help represent the park during the busy year, the role of Disneyland Ambassador to the World was created. Tour guide Julie Reihm was selected as the first “Miss Disneyland” — as the position was originally called — and she spent the year traveling throughout the United States and the world as the official emissary of Disneyland park. 3D Jamboree debuted at the Fantasyland Theater starring Mouseketeers. The film was presented in 3D, a technology that wouldn’t be used again at Disney Parks until Magic Journeys was produced for Epcot 25 years later. Also in 1965, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln found its permanent home in the Opera House on Main Street, U.S.A.
1964 – Although the 1964 New York World’s Fair didn’t actually occur at the Disneyland Resort, many of Walt Disney’s exhibits for the fair found their permanent homes in Disneyland park after debuting for enthusiastic Fair audiences. Walt used the opportunity of presenting at the Fair to fine-tune and perfect his technologically advanced Audio Animatronic figures through four exhibits: “it’s a small world,” “Progressland,” The Magic Skyway and “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.” Of course we all know that Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and “it’s a small world” are now classic Disneyland attractions, but “Progressland” also came to the park as The Carousel of Progress, and The Magic Skyway utilized omnimover technology, which was used in many Disneyland classics including The Haunted Mansion. Disneyland also hosted more than 400 American athletes heading to Japan for the 1964 Summer Olympics. Events included a tribute show on the shores of the Rivers of America, featuring Bob Hope and a cast of Hollywood stars.
1963 – In 1963, the then-groundbreaking technology of sophisticated Audio Animatronics debuted to Disneyland park guests in an attraction that was touched by Walt Disney in every aspect of its planning. The Enchanted Tiki Room opened in Adventureland, featuring colorful singing birds, delicate singing flowers and powerful tiki gods. With its infectious songs and lovable hosts — Fritz, Michael, Pierre and Jose — the Enchanted Tiki Room is still a favorite with park guests of all ages. Walt also hosted a press conference to explain his upcoming Audio Animatronics exhibits for the New York World’s Fair the following year.
1962 – Guests were invited to live the life of adventure by climbing and exploring the new Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, towering 70 feet over Adventureland.The year 1962 also saw the debut of the Safari Shooting Gallery – where the guns actually used real pellets! Also added in 1962: the picturesque elephant bathing pool within the world famous Jungle Cruise. Walt Disney also celebrated the 10,000th performance of the Golden Horseshoe Revue by airing it on television with its stars, including Betty Taylor, Wally Boag, Gene Sheldon and Ed Wynn.
1961 – This marked the year that the beam of the Disneyland Monorail, the transportation of the future, was expanded to reach the Disneyland Hotel. The Monorail began whisking hotel guests past the Main Entrance ticket booths and directly into Tomorrowland, where the hovering Flying Saucers debuted the same year for space travelers. Guests could also wish for their own Prince Charming at a quaint wishing well alongside marble statuettes of the seven dwarfs at Snow White’s Grotto. 1961 was the first year a Grad Night was hosted in Disneyland Park and 8,500 graduating seniors came to celebrate their accomplishments at the Happiest Place on Earth.

posted on July 16th, 2010 by Heather Hust Rivera, Manager, Print and Social Media, Disneyland Resort

The 55th anniversary of Disneyland park is tomorrow! Today’s post concludes our 11-week countdown as we look back to the very beginning of this magical place – the first five years.
A lot of great attractions opened in this five-year period, but the original attractions from opening day certainly stand apart from the rest.
On opening day, there were 18 ticketed adventures and five free attractions or exhibits in four themed lands and on Main Street, U.S.A. Many of these original attractions remain in the Park today, including King Arthur Carrousel, Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Jungle Cruise, Mad Tea Party, Peter Pan’s Flight, Autopia, Disneyland Railroad, Horse-Drawn Streetcars, Mark Twain Riverboat and Main Street Cinema.
We went into the Park and asked guests, “What is your favorite attraction from opening day, July 17, 1955?” Here’s what they had to say:

Let us know in the comments what your favorite attraction is from opening day, but before you do, make sure you brush up on your knowledge of the early years that made Disneyland park what it is today.
1960 – Just five years after opening its gates, Disneyland park continued to add new experiences. Nature’s Wonderland, based on Walt Disney’s film series ”True-Life Adventures,” opened in Frontierland, allowing passengers to travel by mine train or pack mule through Beaver Valley and the Living Desert. A new production in Circarama debuted, called “America the Beautiful.” Nine screens surrounded the audience with scenes from across the nation. “Dixieland at Disneyland” staged its inaugural performance with six Disneyland bands for a musical procession of boats and rafts on the Rivers of America, followed by concerts throughout the park.
1959 – Let the expansion begin! Three of the most famous Disneyland park icons made their debuts in 1959. Vice President Richard Nixon and his family were on hand to dedicate the Disneyland-Alweg Monorail System and were among the first to experience Walt Disney’s “highway in the sky.” The Matterhorn Bobsleds, considered the world’s first steel roller coaster, opened as the first coaster to allow multiple cars to run simultaneously on the same track. The eight original Disneyland submarines began their voyage in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in Tomorrowland. The “E-ticket” is introduced, entitling admission to select attractions. The tradition of Rose Bowl football teams visiting Disneyland park prior to the Pasadena New Year’s Day Game begins, with University of Washington and the University of Wisconsin.
1958 – The first Candlelight Procession took place on Main Street, U.S.A., and Dennis Morgan received the honor of being the first narrator. The special holiday event took place on two separate nights telling the story of Christmas with a full orchestra and mass choir. Guests could now take a trip down the rabbit hole with the introduction of the Fantasyland classic attraction Alice in Wonderland. The Sailing Ship Columbia, a full-size replica of an 18th-century sailing ship, began to navigate the Rivers of America. The 96-year-old Hopi Indian Chief Nevangnewa blessed the trains of the Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroad during dedication ceremonies for the Grand Canyon Diorama, the world’s longest diorama depicting the chief’s homeland.
1957 – Legendary film star Shirley Temple Black and Walt Disney were on hand to open Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough. Guests climbed a staircase through the castle and walked by miniature dioramas that told the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty. A section of the park was added called Holidayland. In the new area, guests could hold a company picnic, group events or conventions and dances. Date Nite at Disneyland park became the hot spot on Friday and Saturday nights from June to September with four Big Bands performing. The first celebration of New Year’s Eve took place on Dec. 31 with 7,500 guests.
1956 – In the same year Disneyland park welcomed its 5-millionth guest, an expansion opened in Frontierland, including Tom Sawyer’s Island and Rafts, Rainbow Caverns Mine Train, Rainbow Mountain Stage Coaches, Rainbow Ridge Pack Mules, Indian Village and Indian War Canoes. The official Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher came from Hannibal, Missouri, to dedicate Tom Sawyer Island. In the Indian Village, an authentic tribe performed hourly dances for guests. The first Easter parade was held on April 1, and in the same year the first Disneyland park fireworks display debuted high in the sky.
1955 – This was the year! It only took a year to construct Walt Disney’s grand vision of “The Happiest Place on Earth.” On July 17, 1955, the first guests descended upon Anaheim for their chance to step into the movies at the Magic Kingdom. A 90-minute live broadcast on ABC network TV introduced the park to the world. There were 15,000 invited guests (more than 28,000 showed up through a mix-up in tickets), including dozens of Hollywood movie and TV celebrities. Co-hosts during the live broadcast were actors Ronald Reagan and Bob Cummings, TV’s Art Linkletter and network anchor Hank Weaver.
The opening day dedication speech presented by Walt Disney can be found on a plaque in Town Square:

Opening day dedication speech by Walt 
Disney on Town Square plaque
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series. I know I’ve had fun putting it together.
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