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July 2009 Archives

July 3, 2009

1,000 Immigrants Celebrate U.S. Citizenship in Star-Spangled Event Friday Morning on Main Street, U.S.A. at Walt Disney World Resort

New citizens attend premiere of 're-Imagineered' Hall of Presidents attraction,
now featuring President Barack Obama figure

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (July 3, 2009) - In a stirring celebration of citizenship, more than 1,000 immigrants gathered on Main Street, U.S.A. early Friday to be "sworn in" as American citizens.


And then, as the country kicked off Independence Day weekend, these brand-new Americans attended a premiere performance of the newest Walt Disney World attraction, a "re-Imagineered" Hall of Presidents now featuring a lifelike Audio-Animatronics figure of President Barack Obama.

From more than 100 countries and ranging in age from 18 to 82, the immigrants took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States during a morning ceremony jointly hosted by Disney Parks and Resorts and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

USCIS's highest-ranking official, Acting Deputy Director Michael Aytes, presided over the ceremony on the forecourt of Cinderella Castle. The event featured a welcoming address by Walt Disney World Resort President Meg Crofton, the presentation of the colors, the national anthem, the Oath of Allegiance and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Actor Andy Garcia - a naturalized citizen himself - delivered a keynote address during the ceremony. Garcia, originally from Cuba, is an acclaimed actor known for roles in films as diverse as "The Untouchables," "The Godfather: Part III" and "Ocean's Eleven." The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Tampa-based Senior Airman Brenda Langdon of the U.S. Air Force, an immigrant from Columbia who became a United States citizen during the ceremony.

"This year, Disney parks are asking our visitors 'What Will You Celebrate?'," said Walt Disney World Resort President Meg Crofton in her welcoming address. "And on a weekend when our entire nation celebrates its independence, we are honored to host - and celebrate - 1,000 individuals who are embracing American citizenship."

To cap a star-spangled morning, the new citizens and their family members previewed the Hall of Presidents attraction - which reopens July 4 in the Liberty Square area of Magic Kingdom. The attraction has been closed since Election Day last November for a makeover that included installation of a lifelike Audio-Animatronics figure based on President Obama.

The figure of the country's 44th chief executive - which comes to life with recognizable mannerisms and makes comments that were recorded recently at the White House - is part of an eight-month makeover so significant that the iconic attraction has been retitled The Hall of Presidents: A Celebration of Liberty's Leaders. Other updates to the re-Imagineered attraction which has been entertaining Magic Kingdom guests since 1971:

A re-programmed Abraham Lincoln delivers arguably the greatest speech in the history of the presidency - the Gettysburg Address.

For the first time in the attraction's history, George Washington stands and delivers a stirring speech.

Developed with the assistance of Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, the show now tells a moving story of the bond between the presidents and "We, the People," focusing on the chief executives who have guided America through trying, turbulent times.


"Our goal with every major Disney attraction is to completely immerse our guests in a compelling story," said Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "The stories associated with the American presidency are some of the most engaging and relevant our guests will hear while they are with us. And, like all great stories, these stories inspire, motivate and teach us to appreciate the challenges and personal triumph that comes with overcoming adversity."

Presentations of the Hall of Presidents show will take place daily beginning July 4 and are included with Magic Kingdom admission.

For video of President Obama in the White House Map Room recording his audio track for the Hall of Presidents attraction, visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/.

Barack Obama Joins Disney’s Hall of Presidents in Major Makeover Showcasing New Storyline, Music and Technology

Barack Obama Joins Disney's Hall of Presidents in Major Makeover Showcasing New Storyline, Music and Technology

Magic Kingdom Attraction Reopens July 4

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - A remarkably lifelike Audio-Animatronics figure of President Barack Obama enters the spotlight in a revised and refreshed Hall of Presidents show that reopens July 4 in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort.

The recently installed figure of the country's 44th chief executive - which comes to life with recognizable mannerisms and makes comments that were recorded recently at the White House - is only part of an eight-month makeover so significant that the iconic attraction in the park's Liberty Square has been retitled Hall of Presidents: A Celebration of Liberty's Leaders. Other updates to the "re-Imagineered" attraction which has been entertaining Magic Kingdom guests since 1971:

A re-programmed Abraham Lincoln delivers arguably the greatest speech in the history of the presidency - the Gettysburg Address.

For the first time in the attraction's history, George Washington stands and delivers a stirring speech.

Developed with the assistance of Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, the show now tells a moving story of the bond between the presidents and "We, the People," focusing on the chief executives who have guided America through trying, turbulent times.

"Our goal with every major Disney attraction is to completely immerse our guests in a compelling story," said Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "The stories associated with the American presidency are some of the most engaging and relevant our guests will hear while they are with us. And, like all great stories, these stories inspire, motivate and teach us to appreciate the challenges and personal triumph that comes with overcoming adversity."

True to Walt Disney's vision, Hall of Presidents features the appearance on stage of every United States president - life-sized, three-dimensional and fully animated. Seven presidents have been added to the "Hall" since the attraction opened during the presidency of Richard Nixon.

The figure of President Barack Obama is not only the seventh addition but also the most dynamic figure Disney has ever created. Disney Imagineers, who've been refining Audio-Animatronics technology since 1963, have discovered new ways to integrate an array of subtle movements and facial expressions into the figures. Imagineers also worked closely with White House staff to create realistic clothing and accessories worn by the figure in the show, right down to a lapel pin and watch.

Kathy Rogers, senior show producer for Walt Disney Imagineering, says the show pays particular tribute to the strength of the bond between the people and the president "that led us through the most troubling times in our nation's history.

"We still present that 'mighty cavalcade of history' that Walt Disney originally envisioned," Rogers says, referring to "headline moments" of America's past that are depicted in the film, "but it is viewed through the lens of the presidency."

The 25-minute show begins with the story of George Washington and the struggle to build a new nation. It continues through today, highlighting presidents who have reached out to the people during times of strife. Disney senior show writer and director Pam Fisher, who worked closely with Kearns Goodwin to develop the story, describes the revised Hall of Presidents as "a very human story - one that we hope strikes a chord with all guests."

A soaring new musical score written by Emmy-winning composer Joel McNeely adds another emotional dimension to the experience.

The show's impact is bolstered by the stirring performances of actor David Morse, who voices Washington, and the late veteran actor Royal Dano, who voices Lincoln. Morse played Washington in the award-winning HBO miniseries, "John Adams." Dano was selected by Walt Disney himself to voice the first animated Lincoln figure, which debuted at the 1964 New York World's Fair and later became part of the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln attraction at Disneyland in California. Obama's speech, recorded in the White House Map Room, includes the presidential oath of office and his thoughts about "the American dream."

In the tradition of earlier versions of the show, the rewritten story begins with a large-format movie, but this time it is projected in crystal-clear, high-definition video. Imagineers digitized many of the huge scenic paintings of historic America made for the original movie by Disney legends including Herb Ryman and Sam McKim. In addition, the team combed through the National Archives, Library of Congress, museums and private collections to acquire more than 130 new images ultimately woven into the show.

Imagineers enhanced the soundtrack with digital production and state-of-the-art speakers; they also upgraded the lighting with energy-efficient LED technology.

The new Hall of Presidents experience begins in the pre-show lobby, which has been transformed into an expanded gallery of presidential artifacts. The inaugural exhibit showcases the women behind the presidents. Large display cases exhibit dresses and personal objects worn by several First Ladies, including Edith Roosevelt (Teddy's wife), Elizabeth Monroe and Nancy Reagan. The historical gallery also displays presidential portraits of Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and other chief executives, plus two cases filled with personal artifacts of presidents including Gerald Ford, Franklin Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover and George Washington.

Presentations of the Hall of Presidents show will take place daily and are included with Magic Kingdom admission.

July 12, 2009

CELEBRATING A SOCCER STAR: International Soccer Star Leo Messi

International Soccer Star Leo Messi at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex - July 9, 2009


FC Barcelona soccer star Leo Messi is continuing his celebration of his team's UEFA Champions League title by spending a week at Walt Disney World near Orlando, FL. Messi, one of the sport's biggest stars, is experiencing many of Disney's attractions, including visiting Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex, the leading multi-sport venue in the nation.

At the complex on the eve of the Disney Cup International Youth Soccer tournament, Messi took time out to kick the soccer ball around with a local youth soccer team along with Mickey Mouse. Messi signed autographs and posed for photos with the kids as well as treated them to a demonstration of his coolest soccer tricks.

More than 150 youth boys and girls soccer teams (ages 9-17) from 10 different countries will compete in the 11th annual Disney Cup International Youth Soccer Tournament at Disney, July 14-19. The tournament features teams from Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, England, Guatemala, Honduras and Puerto Rico. The event is one of several youth soccer tournaments at the Disney sports complex, including Disney's Soccer Showcase, which features the most elite high school soccer players in the nation.

July 13, 2009

Disney Celebrates White Rhino Birth in Uganda

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., July 13, 2009 -- Uganda's first white rhino born in 27 years has a family tree with Disney roots.


First-time mother Nande, a 10-year-old female white rhino born at Disney's Animal Kingdom, gave birth June 24 to a healthy male calf at the Ziwa Sanctuary in Uganda after a 16-month gestation period.

"We are thrilled to contribute to the sustainment of this critical species in Uganda," said Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President of Animal Programs and Environmental Initiatives with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "We are joining with the Government of Uganda and Rhino Fund Uganda in celebrating this milestone birth, which represents a significant accomplishment for wildlife conservation."

Nande is one of two white rhinos transferred in 2006 as part of the first-ever reintroduction of white rhinos from the United States to Africa. She was joined by Hasani, also born at Disney's Animal Kingdom, to help re-establish a white rhino population that has been extinct in Uganda since 1982 as a casualty of civil unrest in the region. There are an estimated 11,000 white rhinos remaining worldwide, with 190 in North American zoos.

Walt Disney World's commitment to conservation and rhinos goes beyond this first-ever rhino transfer. The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has supported more than $250,000 in rhino protection and research projects in partnership with non-profit organizations throughout the world. For more information on the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund visit www.disney.com/conservation.

Disney's Animal Kingdom is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation and a link to helping animals in their native habitats.

July 16, 2009

Innovative Entertainment Technology Drives ‘World of Color’ – the Next Milestone in Expansion of Disney’s California Adventure

ANAHEIM, Calif., July 16, 2009 - Elaborate preparation is underway for "World of Color," the spectacular nighttime water show that will astound guests with its magnitude and creativity when it debuts in spring 2010 as the next major milestone in the expansion of Disney's California Adventure park. Surpassing all Disney water productions, "World of Color" will bring Disney animation to life with powerful fountains that become stars of the show as they create the world's largest projected water screen.

For months now, guests at Disney's California Adventure have been peering into the lagoon near Paradise Pier as Walt Disney Imagineering and Creative Entertainment have installed the massive infrastructure and innovative technology that will create the stage for this extraordinary combination of music, animation and stunning water effects. Teams of Disney workers have built nearly an acre of superstructure to support the complex "World of Color" production.

"World of Color" will combine hundreds of magnificent fountains, dazzling colors and an all-new kaleidoscope of audio and visual effects, to take water-infused entertainment to a new level of artistry. The production will flood the senses, taking audiences on an imaginative journey into the colorful worlds of animated Disney classics such as "Alice in Wonderland," "The Lion King" and "Pocahontas," along with Disney-Pixar films "Toy Story," "WALL-E" and many more.

Disney's newest production features an unprecedented infrastructure of water effects, larger-than-life projections, lasers, fire, fog, surround sound, and stunning images. This technical wizardry, combined with classic Disney film sequences, will create a breathtaking emotional experience for guests, as jaw-dropping effects sweep across the lagoon, soar into the sky, and rush toward the audience.

A newly designed 9,000-capacity viewing area will provide Disney's California Adventure guests the best view in the park of this exciting nighttime extravaganza. The show lasts approximately 25 minutes.

Some of the technical magic behind 'World of Color' includes:
• Nearly 1 full acre of engineered superstructure, longer than a football field and capable of settling on three levels - one for the performance, one under the water surface and one for maintenance
• More than 1,200 powerful and programmable fountains
• A vast underwater grid with more than 18,000 points of control. Each fountain has multiple points of control for lighting, color intensity, water angle, height and more.
• Fountain heights that range from 30 feet to 200 feet in the air (by way of comparison, Mickey's Fun Wheel reaches a height of 150 feet, some of it below the edge of the lagoon)
• A precise system of flame projections, lasers, and special effects that will flood the senses as guests experience the animation
• Scenic elements that rise more than 80 feet above the lagoon
• The world's largest projected water screen - a wall of water 380 feet wide by 50 feet high for a projection surface of 19,000 square feet
• Nearly 30 high-definition projectors

July 17, 2009

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Disney’s California Adventure

Expansion Continues Though 2012, With 'World of Color' Opening in 2010

ANAHEIM, Calif. - Opened on Feb. 8, 2001, Disney's California Adventure anchored a major expansion of Disneyland Resort. The expansion included Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Downtown Disney, a 300,000-square-foot shopping, dining and entertainment district.

Building this expansive project took more than three years and resulted in an additional 6,000 jobs, bringing the total employment at Disneyland Resort to 20,000, making Disneyland Resort Orange County's largest single-site employer.

The expansion was a catalyst for transforming the Anaheim Resort Area into a multiday destination that attracts millions of visitors from around the world who spend billions of dollars each year. Hundreds of millions of dollars in additional tax revenue, generated by the expansion, help fund vital services for the city of Anaheim.

Disney's California Adventure has become one of the nation's most visited theme parks. The 55-acre park is filled with dozens of shows, adventures and attractions that appeal to guests of all ages. Through Disney's legendary storytelling, the fantasy of California comes to life in four themed lands - Golden State, Paradise Pier, a bug's land and Hollywood Pictures Backlot.

Resort Expansion

In 2007, a significant multiyear expansion of Disney's California Adventure was announced including new family-oriented attractions and shows that feature more stories and characters from both Disney and Pixar.

The park expansion began with the 2008 opening of Toy Story Mania! This interactive 4-D ride-through attraction transports guests into a carnival midway hosted by beloved "Toy Story" characters.

In early 2009, Mickey's Fun Wheel, a 150-foot-diameter attraction that features a new Mickey Mouse marquee, reopened along with the Games of the Boardwalk, carnival-style games that now showcase some of the most beloved Disney and Disney-Pixar characters.

Opening in spring 2010, "World of Color" will bring nighttime excitement to Paradise Pier with a panorama of spectacular water effects, dancing fountains and music that will bring Disney animation to life with a new creative and technical approach. "World of Color" boasts a 9,000-guest viewing area.

The first major attraction based on Disney's classic "The Little Mermaid" is coming to the park's Paradise Pier area with leading-edge animation and special effects. Guests will be able to dive into the magnificent scenes and magical songs from the movie when The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Undersea Adventure debuts in 2011.

In 2012, a brand new gateway to Disney's California Adventure will welcome guests into the Los Angeles that Walt experienced as a young artist arriving with big dreams in the 1920s. Red Car Trolleys reminiscent of the old Pacific Electric Red Car Line will travel up and down Buena Vista Street alongside new dining, shopping and entertainment experiences. A new visual icon inspired by Los Angeles' historic Carthay Circle Theatre, which premiered "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in 1937, will draw guests into the heart of the park.

Culminating the major expansion is the entirely new, 12-acre addition: Cars Land, which recreates the town of Radiator Springs as inspired by the hit Disney-Pixar film "Cars." Cars Land will feature three immersive family attractions, Radiator Springs Racers, Luigi's Flying Tires and Mater's Junkyard Jamboree. Radiator Springs Racers will be one of the largest and most elaborate attractions ever created for a Disney park. This major E-ticket attraction will place guests in the middle of a twisting, turning, high-speed adventure.

Walt Disney Imagineering's Blue Sky Cellar, a preview center located near the Golden Vine Winery, showcases the expansion plans for Disney's California Adventure. Here, guests can take a sneak peek at models, concepts and sketches and view a video of what's new and what's next. An online version of Blue Sky Cellar launches July 2009 at www.DisneysCaliforniaAdventure.com.

Continued Investment

Investment in Disney's California Adventure has continued since its opening, broadening the appeal to guests of all ages. Guests have been further immersed in thrilling new attractions and shows, giving them compelling reasons to stay longer and visit often.

* Based on the Disney-Pixar movie "a bug's life," a bug's land was added in 2002. This land added several new rides and shows designed for younger guests.
* "Disney's Aladdin-A Musical Spectacular" debuted at the 1,800-seat Hyperion Theatre in 2003. This 40-minute, Broadway-quality musical entertains thousands of people every day.
* The Twilight Zone® Tower of Tower opened in 2004. The 13-story attraction encourages guests to leave reality behind as they experience a new dimension in fun and sheer thrills.
* "Turtle Talk With Crush" was added in 2005 inside the Disney Animation building and continually amazes guests with its interactive technology.
* In 2006, "Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!" featuring more than 40 animated figures, opened to rave reviews.
* Toy Story Mania! opened in 2008, adding another immersive family experience to the park. The 4-D ride-through interactive attraction is hosted by favorite characters from the Disney-Pixar "Toy Story" films.
* Joining the lineup in 2008, "Pixar Play Parade" brings together the energy and excitement of beloved films in a unique, dynamic and water-filled spectacular.

Continued investment also is being made at the award-winning Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, adjacent to Disney's California Adventure, with 200 new rooms slated to open in fall 2009 along with 50 vacation villas, the first Disney Vacation Club villas on the West Coast.

Home to Popular Attractions

Disney's California Adventure is home to some of the highest-rated attractions at Disneyland Resort, based on guest satisfaction ratings. Among them are:

* "Soarin' Over California": This exhilarating airborne adventure takes guests soaring over the wonders of the Golden State, from the beaches to the mountains.
* California Screamin': The 6,000-foot-long roller coaster, inspired by the "golden age of coasters," thrills guests as they experience sharp turns, go upside-down and make sudden drops. At launch, guests go from 0 to 55 miles per hour in less than five seconds.
* The Twilight Zone™ Tower of Terror: This thrilling and chilling supernatural adventure, based on the classic "Twilight Zone" television series, surprises guests with a series of faster-than-gravity drops and amazing special effects.
* "Disney's Aladdin-A Musical Spectacular": With dancing genies, soaring carpets and imagination taking flight, this amazing musical production brings favorite characters from Disney's "Aladdin" to life.
* Toy Story Mania!: One of the most engaging, dynamic attractions at Disney parks, this next-generation interactive ride-game experience is fun for the entire family.

With dozens of highly entertaining shows, adventures and attractions, Disney's California Adventure appeals to guests of all ages, and takes them to a California that could only be Imagineered by Disney.

Blue Sky Cellar Unveils More Exciting New Magic Coming to Disney’s California Adventure Park

Disney Imagineers reveal details of 'World of Color,' a nighttime water spectacular coming in spring 2010

ANAHEIM, Calif. (July 16, 2009) - Nestled in the Golden Vine Winery at Disney's California Adventure, Blue Sky Cellar is a place where guests get a sneak preview of what's new and what's next during the expansion of the park. Beginning July 16, guests will see the first in-depth look at "World of Color," the next major milestone in the expansion of Disney's California Adventure, opening in spring 2010. Disney Imagineers, the creative minds behind the design and construction of Disney theme parks and attractions, are sharing their models, concepts and sketches to reveal the development of this spectacular water, animation and special effects show.

At Blue Sky Cellar, guests are invited to preview works in progress at Disney's California Adventure by immersing themselves in a facsimile of an Imagineering workspace. Based on the belief that idea gathering is best when "the sky's the limit," Blue Sky Cellar is designed to resemble an Imagineering "charette," an extended creative idea development meeting. Guests receive an inside look at how Imagineers take "blue sky" ideas and refine them into the classic storytelling that characterizes Disney theme park attractions and adventures.

In this whimsical immersive setting, Imagineers have taken over a former wine cellar and set up shop. Wine barrels have turned into work stations and the former wine tasting room has become a screening room where a video showcases the behind-the-scenes magic that goes into the creation of new and upcoming attractions for Disney's California Adventure. Additionally, guests in Blue Sky Cellar will have fun testing their knowledge of Disney trivia at one of the interactive workstations.

The video seen in the screening room features Imagineers describing the approach and vision of the Disney California Adventure expansion. Guests will see footage of model-making, sculpting, Blue Sky meetings and all the aspects of bringing a Disney concept to life. In the latest video, Imagineer Steven Davison and others show guests some of the astounding animation and water effects they can expect to see in "World of Color" in 2010.

Included in the original announcement of the multi-year expansion of Disneyland Resort in fall 2007, Blue Sky Cellar is part of the overall commitment to keep the community and Disneyland Resort guests informed of the exciting new and upcoming plans for the resort. Guests are encouraged to check back for updates on additional exciting developments and attractions, both at Blue Sky Cellar and online at www.DisneysCaliforniaAdventure.com.

New Web site explores park expansion: DisneysCaliforniaAdventure.com

All-new Web Site Keeps Visitors Up to Date On Expansion at Disney's California Adventure

ANAHEIM, Calif. (July 16, 2009) - Fans of Disney's California Adventure can explore coming attractions and exciting plans for the park during its expansion at a new, interactive Web site, starting July 16.

The site, hosted at www.DisneysCaliforniaAdventure.com, will serve as an online preview center, taking visitors behind the scenes of the multiyear expansion at Disney's California Adventure. It features videos, photos, renderings, interviews and other assets to keep users up to date on the progress of attractions and entertainment coming to life in the park.

Like the Disney parks themselves, the site will "continue to change and add new things" with regular updates.

Among the highlights at www.DisneysCaliforniaAdventure.com:

· What's New - link to the latest information on new developments at the park

· Big Plans - see the "big picture" approach to the ambitious expansion project

· Pictures and Videos - link to renderings, photos and exclusive, behind-the-scenes views of works in progress

· Individual Attractions - click on the pictures of "World of Color," Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Undersea Adventure, Buena Vista Street or Cars Land for more details about those exciting attractions

In addition to www.DisneysCaliforniaAdventure.com, guests can visit Blue Sky Cellar at Disney's California Adventure to see concepts and models, or play trivia games related to the expansion. Guests can also find information about other Disneyland Resort attractions, or plan a celebration or vacation at Disneyland Resort, by visiting www.disneyland.com, calling 866/60-DISNEY or contacting local travel agents.

July 21, 2009

Splash Mountain Celebrates 20 Years of Waterbourne Plunges and ‘Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah’ Fun

July 17 Commemorates the Thrill Ride's 20th Anniversary

Photo © Disneyland/Paul Hiffmeyer

ANAHEIM, Calif. (July 17, 2009) - The thrill of plummeting down a water chute, screaming and making a giant splash are just as exciting today as they were on July 17, 1989, when Splash Mountain opened in Critter Country at Disneyland park. Guests continue to celebrate the journey through a magical world in a hollowed-out log, singing along with characters on classic songs such as "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" and enjoying this very special "laughing place."

Splash Mountain opened its gates as a groundbreaking attraction, becoming one in a line of treasured "mountains" at the Disneyland Resort. With innovative technology and Disney creativity, the lavish production gives guests an escape from reality and immerses them into a fantasy world.

Guests board one of the logs and begin their journey, twisting and turning through sparkling waters and climbing to the top of the 87-foot tall mountain. Along the way, guests are greeted by more than 100 characters who are playing and singing time-honored classic songs from Walt Disney's 1946 animated film, "Song of the South." While ascending to the top, playful vultures taunt riders about their fast-approaching and imminent decline. Once at the peak, riders take a thrilling five-story, 52-foot drop down a steep descent, making a huge "splash" into the awaiting pond below. Once safely at the bottom, and with "plenty of sunshine" headed their way, guests are treated to what is commonly known as the Disney "national anthem", "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah." Here, riders are encouraged to sing along, come again and have some more fun with the mischievous, yet comical characters.

When it opened, Splash Mountain starred one of the largest casts of animated characters of the time. Today, Splash Mountain continues to be a favorite attraction, partly because it reaches the fastest speed of all rides at Disneyland Park, at approximately 40 miles an hour. With its rich heritage, cast of characters, catchy songs, and white-knuckle adventure, "Splash Mountain" continues to be a thrilling journey.

The Walt Disney Family Museum to Present Life and Achievements of Walt Disney Opening October 2009

The Walt Disney Family Museum to Showcase Early Drawings of Mickey Mouse, Personal Letters, Disney Family Home Movies & Groundbreaking Technologies

San Francisco, CA, July 16, 2009-The fascinating and inspiring story of Walt Disney, whose artistry, creations, and vision helped define 20th-century American culture, will be brought to life at The Walt Disney Family Museum, which opens in San Francisco in October 2009. The Museum will illuminate Walt Disney's tremendous successes, disappointments, and unyielding optimism as he pursued innovation and excellence while entertaining and enchanting generations worldwide through his pioneering ventures.

The creator of Mickey Mouse, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disneyland, and the global yet distinctly American company that bears his name, Disney was an independent risk-taker who started his first business at the age of 19 and worked tirelessly to elevate animation to an art form. He invented timeless characters and stories that brought the fantastical to life and continue to inspire a sense of wonder. Through animated and live action films, television programs, and theme parks, Disney created global symbols, icons, and characters that, more than 40 years after his death, are an indelible part of popular culture in America and around the world.

The Walt Disney Family Museum will illustrate how Disney's irrepressible creativity enriched the imagination of generations. The Museum will tell the story of the man behind the myth in Disney's own voice and in exhibits that reveal his expansive vision, from early drawings of some of his most popular characters to plans for Disneyland and EPCOT.

"My father's name is probably one of the most well-known names around the world, but as the 'brand' or trademark has spread, for many, the man has become lost," said Diane Disney Miller, one of the Museum's founders. "We are committed to telling the story of Walt Disney's life, in his own words, and in the words of others who knew him well and worked with him. My father was very open and approachable, and in many conversations and interviews that were captured in audio, you will be able to hear in the galleries as you learn the story of his life. It is a wonderful story. Dad himself loved to tell it. Thanks to the amazing work of many dedicated people, we are fortunate to be able to tell it here using the tools he worked with-art, music, film, and technology-to present an honest yet affectionate portrait of this amazing artist and man."

Walt Diane Sharon.jpg

"From Steamboat Willie to Pinocchio to EPCOT, Walt Disney's unyielding ambition was to ignite a sense of wonder and to enrapture audiences through great storytelling," said Richard Benefield, founding director of The Walt Disney Family Museum. "He recognized the power of art to spark the imagination, and time and again, pushed himself and his companies to the breaking point as he pursued the highest level of excellence in feature animation. The Walt Disney Family Museum will present the compelling story of his life-of his successes and failures-as he entertained and enlightened the nation while it struggled with the Great Depression, joined the fight of World War II, and entered a golden age of prosperity and preeminence."

About Walt Disney

The Walt Disney Family Museum will shed light on Disney's remarkable life. One of five children, Disney was born in Chicago on December 5, 1901. He spent his early years in rural Missouri, where he developed a love of nature, of drawing, and of trains. After the family sold their failing farm and moved to Kansas City in 1911, Disney began working on his father's newspaper route and developed a love of the stage. When his family moved back to Chicago in 1917, Disney drew cartoons and took photographs for his high school newspaper and attended night classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. During World War I, he was rejected by the army because of his age. He enlisted in the Red Cross Overseas and served as an ambulance driver in France. An ambulance similar to the one he drove in Europe will be exhibited at the Museum.

The Museum will chronicle Disney's early, fitful starts at developing live and animated films, including the hardship with his first cartoon company in Kansas City, where he settled after he returned from Europe. After Laugh-O-gram Films went bankrupt in 1923, Disney took the train to California, with $40 in his pocket. By the end of the 1920s, despite his humble Hollywood beginnings, Disney rose to international fame and recognition with the invention of the world's most famous mouse. His studio also enjoyed great financial success-and changed the animation industry-with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), its first feature-length animated film and a movie that skeptics had warned Disney against making. On the other hand, Disney's animation studio nearly went bankrupt after the completion of Fantasia (1940), a film that received mixed reviews in its day although it is now celebrated as a cinematic landmark. Throughout these decades, Disney pushed groundbreaking technological innovations that revolutionized animation and focused on the areas of story, character development, color, dimensionality, and original music to improve his storytelling. He consistently challenged himself and his employees to surpass what they had already achieved.

The Museum will illuminate Disney's parallel interests in the fantastic and real. After completing the early-1940s animated masterpieces Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi, and after a hiatus mandated by World War II, Disney began to expand the scope of the studio's work by making live-action documentaries about wildlife and the environment that reflected his childhood love of nature. He sent a team of naturalists to Alaska for a year to film anything they might find interesting. The result was Seal Island, which won the 1949 Academy Award® for best two-reel documentary.

The Museum will also explore his marketing acumen. In the 1950s, lacking the funds to complete Disneyland, Disney embraced TV as a platform to test and promote his ideas while securing the financing needed to complete what would become the world's first theme park.

Disney, who always looked toward a utopian future, was enchanted by the promise of technology. In addition to being an early champion of color television, stereo simulcasting, and widescreen technology, he brought his interest in transportation to bear by opening the first daily-operating Monorail system in the United States and creating the PeopleMover-an innovative tram system with no on-board motors-in Disneyland.

Walt Chris Diane Disneyland Autopia Car

Toward the end of his life, Disney developed innovative attractions for global events, notably the 1960 Olympics and the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. Beginning in 1960, Walt and his key creative executives approached several American corporations with the intent of collaborating on major shows and attractions for the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. The result was four of the most popular attractions at the Fair: the General Electric Progressland featuring Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress, the UNICEF Pavilion sponsored by Pepsi-Cola featuring, "it's a small world," the Ford Wonder Rotunda featuring Walt Disney's Magic Skyway, and the State of Illinois Pavilion featuring Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. These attractions were later exported to Disneyland in California.

Disney's work with Robert Moses inspired him to develop a new paradigm, EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow), a project Walt described as "a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing, testing, and demonstrating new materials and new systems - a showcase to the world of the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise." With a unique city infrastructure that separated pedestrians and traffic, EPCOT foreshadowed the New Urbanism movement by 30 years.

Inside the Museum: An American Story

The stories of Disney's life, creativity, family, and the processes and innovations he brought to his art will be told through a series of ten galleries. Highlights of the Museum will include:

• Drawings Disney made in his youth

• Drawings and cartoons from Laugh-O-gram Films, Disney's first company

• Early drawings of Mickey Mouse

• Storyboards, a Disney innovation that mapped out timeless film classics

• The technically innovative Multiplane Camera that brought vibrancy and depth to his
revolutionary feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

• The unique Snow White Academy Award®, which included a full-size Oscar® and seven
miniature castings

• The narrow-gauge Lilly Belle train he built for his Hollywood home, which recalled his youth
and helped spur his vision for Disneyland

• A model of the Disneyland of Walt's imagination

Early drawings of Mickey Mouse

Throughout the exhibits, visitors will find rare film clips, concept art, scripts, musical scores, and cameras that Disney and his staff used in creating his characters and films. The visually stunning design incorporates movie posters that come to life to show scenes from Disney films, interactive light tables, and discovery drawers that add nuance and layer to the story of his life. Visitors will find hundreds of individual animation cels that reveal the labor-intensive animation process.

The exhibits will also pay tribute to Disney's many groundbreaking achievements and innovations, among them:

• The first film that successfully synchronized sound and animation

• The first movie soundtrack released as a consumer recording

• The first original song from a cartoon to become a national hit ("Who's Afraid of the Big
Bad Wolf?")

• One of the first nature documentaries and the first to receive an Academy Award®

Disney and his family will be represented, as well, in photographs, artifacts, and home movies.
Although famous for his work behind the camera for Walt Disney Productions, Disney was an avid home moviemaker throughout his life. The Walt Disney Family Museum will exhibit to the public for the first time clips that ranged from experiments with trick shots (unspilling a glass of milk) to reels that documented Disney's life at home with his wife, Lilly; his daughters, Diane and Sharon; and his brother and business partner, Roy, and his brother's wife, Edna Francis.

Walt on Lily Belle.jpg

Walt Disney Family Museum: Facilities

The Walt Disney Family Museum is located in three historic buildings within the Presidio of San Francisco, which is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area of the National Park Service. The centerpiece is a former army barracks at 104 Montgomery Street, redesigned and upgraded by architecture firm Page & Turnbull of San Francisco, and with interior architecture and installations designed by the Rockwell Group. The Museum uses the building's original domestic-scale rooms to frame the story of Disney's life and incorporates a wide range of materials and technologies, from historic documents and artifacts, to listening stations and other interactive displays, to more than 200 video monitors. In addition to the galleries, the Museum contains a 123-seat screening facility, a learning center, a store, and a café.

The Walt Disney Family Museum Exterior

The Museum campus includes a former gymnasium that houses the Walt Disney Family Foundation's collections and offices. The building is the site of a 2,000 square foot hall that will be used for special programs and concerts until the special exhibition program begins in January 2012.

A third small building in the Presidio will house the Museum's mechanical equipment.

The Walt Disney Family Museum, L.L.C. is owned and operated by the Walt Disney Family Foundation, a non-profit foundation. The Museum is partially funded by California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank revenue bonds.

All admission to the Museum will be by timed-ticket entry.

Tickets go on sale August 1, 2009 at www.waltdisney.org.

The Walt Disney Family Museum Website will go live on August 1, 2009.

The Walt Disney Family Museum Facebook page and Twitter are live now at:

http://www.facebook.com/TheWaltDisneyFamilyMuseum and


Disney Legend and Imagineer Marty Sklar Receives Window on Main Street, USA at Disneyland

On the 54th Anniversary of Disneyland, Disney Legend and Imagineer Marty Sklar receives one of the highest honors at Disneyland- a window on Main Street, U.S.A. Disneyland Resort Ambassador Danielle DuBois interviews Sklar and shares the history behind window dedications.

July 24, 2009

Sneak Peek - The Walt Disney Family Museum - Gallery 1

Gallery 1 Beginnings: Walt Disney's Early Years (1901-1923)
The Walt Disney Family Museum

Walt Disney was born in Chicago in 1901. In 1906, his family moved to a Missouri farm, where he had an idyllic early childhood and first learned to draw. The farm failed, and in 1911 his family moved to Kansas City, where he rose at 3:30 am to deliver newspapers on his father's paper route and fell in love with vaudeville and movies.

The Walt Disney Family Museum

In 1917, the family moved to Chicago, where Walt created cartoons for his high school yearbook, took classes at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, and tried to enlist in the U.S. Army. Rejected for being underage, he joined the American Ambulance Corps and arrived in France as World War I ended.

When Disney returned to the United States, he settled in Kansas City and got a job at a commercial art studio. In 1920, while working at an ad company, Walt discovered the fantastical world of animation and immersed himself in the young medium. While keeping his day job, he began making Laugh-O-gram ad reels and animation shorts with artist Ub Iwerks. Laugh-O-grams Films soon went bankrupt, and Walt, at age 21 moved to California.

Walt's early drawings and mementoes from his childhood, as well as cameras similar to those he used in Kansas City, will be highlighted in the Museum's first gallery.

The Walt Disney Family Museum

July 27, 2009

Hip-hop artist Big Boi at the Magic Kingdom


Hip-hop artist Big Boi, one-half of the Grammy Award-winning duo "OutKast," poses July 24, 2009 with Minnie Mouse at the Magic Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Big Boi

Big Boi (born Antwan Andre Patton) is scheduled to release his first solo album, entitled "Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty" in 2009. In addition to his work with OutKast, the Atlanta-based artist and producer has appeared on tracks by Beyonce, Jay-Z and Missy Elliott. In 2008 he collaborated with the Atlanta Ballet for a series of critically acclaimed performances.. He is visiting the Walt Disney World Resort on vacation this week.

Chef Robert Irvine from Food Network's "Dinner Impossible," gets tips from Chef Mickey for his Oct. 25 appearance at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Chef Robert Irvine from Food Network's "Dinner Impossible," gets tips from Chef Mickey for his Oct. 25 appearance at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
Chef Robert Irvine

Chef Robert Irvine from Food Network's "Dinner Impossible," gets tips from Chef Mickey for his Oct. 25 appearance at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Epcot kitchens turn up the heat for a global tasting experience worthy of every palate Sept. 25-Nov. 8 at the 14th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival at Walt Disney World Resort.

During the six-week, entertainment-packed event, park guests can taste fine cuisine and wines from the top "foodie" cities of the world. Some 250 chefs including Disney chefs and guest chefs from across the country conducting culinary demonstrations and hosting elegant dinners and tasting events. Guest chefs who have graced the festival include Irvine, Tory McPhail of Commander's Palace, Rock Harper of "Hell's Kitchen," plus Jeff Henderson, Todd English, Warren Brown, Mary Meyers, Jamie Deen, Iron Chef Cat Cora and many other culinary stars.

July 31, 2009

Sneak Peek - The Walt Disney Family Museum - Gallery 2

Gallery 2 - Hollywood (1923-1928)

Walt arrived in California in 1923 hoping to find work as a director. But when he received a contract for his own work, he launched Disney Bros. Studio with his brother Roy. By the end of 1924, Walt was focusing on story development and directing and was no longer working as an animator.

The Walt Disney Family Museum

After several business setbacks, Disney created Mickey Mouse, which established Disney Bros. Studio as the leading animation studio in the country. With the third Mickey Mouse film, Steamboat Willie, Walt joined the vanguard of the talking-picture revolution by creating an animated film with synchronized sound. Both Walt and Roy Disney married during this period, Walt to Lillian Bounds, a studio inker.

The Walt Disney Family Museum

Original artwork, including the earliest known drawings of Mickey Mouse, will illustrate Disney's sensational success with his character. Other exhibit highlights include business correspondence between Walt and Roy, the move to the new Hyperion Studios, where Disney created four of its great animation features, and Walt's meeting with and marriage to Lillian Bounds.

The Walt Disney Family Museum

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About July 2009

This page contains all entries posted to Disney and Florida Attractions News Blog in July 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

June 2009 is the previous archive.

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