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June 3, 2013

Jim’s Attic: The Hidden Roy O. Disney Tribute

Roy O. Disney
The Hidden Roy O. Disney Tribute
By Jim Korkis

Disney Historian Jim Korkis goes up into his imaginary attic to rummage around his archives and often stumbles across an unusual story about Walt Disney World. Those who have met me know that I take real joy in talking about Walt Disney.

However, when the conversation turns to Walt Disney World, I have equal passion in talking about Walt's older brother, Roy, who dedicated Walt Disney World in October 1971 at the age of seventy-eight years old.

Roy tamed a swamp land in Florida into a vacation destination in order to fulfill his late brother's dream and was a truly remarkable man.

I suspect most readers know that Roy has his name on a window above the Confectionery on Main Street at the Magic Kingdom and in Town Square, there is a statue sculpted by Disney Legend Blaine Gibson of Roy and Minnie Mouse sharing a park bench.

However, I don't think many readers know there is a hidden Roy Disney tribute that was at WDW from the very beginning and still resides prominently but generally unknown on WDW property. The story starts and ends in Japan.

Emperor Hirohito of Japan was a huge fan of Mickey Mouse. He was given a Mickey Mouse watch as a gift during his special tour of Disneyland in 1975. For years, even on formal occasions, His Majesty was observed wearing the watch. In 1979, there was panic when the watch stopped ticking, and a concerned palace chamberlain rushed it to Tokyo experts specializing in American timepieces.

This situation was of such national concern to both Hirohito and the people of Japan that it was reported in "Time" magazine in its September 18, 1979 issue. Fortunately, the watch merely required a new battery.

When Walt Disney World opened in 1971, two Japanese companies were investigating the possibilities of having a Disneyland in Japan. Official formal talks with lawyers began in 1974 with a contract finally being signed in 1979.

To help cement the friendship between Japan and Disney, Emperor Hirohito personally presented to Roy O. Disney, for the dedication of the Magic Kingdom, a Japanese lantern to light the way to success and happiness.

No, it wasn't a paper lantern. There are many, many different kinds of Japanese lanterns. This one was a Toro.

Toro are usually a stone lantern used to illuminate the grounds of Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, Japanese gardens and other locations that are steeped in tradition. The hollowed out top piece is where a candle or oil lamp is placed. The most famous of these lanterns are the several thousand lining the entry to Nara Prefecture's Kasuga Shrine.

Kasuga Taisha Shrine

For almost ten years, the gift was on display, without any placard, at the Polynesian Resort. However, with the opening of Epcot's World Showcase with a Japan Pavilion (as well as the construction of Tokyo Disneyland only a year from completion), the stone lantern was moved to the Japan Pavilion, right opposite the structure at the entrance that was inspired by the eighth-century pagoda found at Horyuji Temple in Nara.

Japan Stone Lantern

The deer on the side of the lantern represents the famous Nara Deer Park adjacent to the shrine.

When I asked one of my Imagineering friends why there was no placard sharing this story, he replied without hesitation that "it is a story of the Disney parks but not of the story of Japan we are trying to represent". However, I did notice the next year at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival that a placard with the story did temporarily appear although it has seemed to have disappeared once again.

Thousands of guests pass the lantern every day without realizing its story but now you won't be one of them.

RELATED LINKS
====================
Check out Jim's other "From the Attic" Blogs

Full features from the Walt Disney World Chronicles series by Jim Korkis can be found in the AllEars® Archives: http://allears.net/ae/archives.htm

Jim Korkis

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jim Korkis is an internationally respected Disney Historian who has written hundreds of articles about all things Disney for more than three decades. As a former Walt Disney World cast member, his skills and historical knowledge were utilized by Disney Entertainment, Imagineering, Disney Design Group, Yellow Shoes Marketing, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Feature Animation Florida, Disney Institute, WDW Travel Company, Disney Vacation Club and many other departments.

He is the author of three new books, available in both paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon.com:
The Book of Mouse: A Celebration of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse
Who's Afraid of the Song of the South
"The REVISED Vault of Walt":


June 15, 2013

Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler - June 2013

Riddle

THE MOUSY MINDBOGGLER

If you subscribe to the AllEars® Weekly Newsletter, you'll know that we run a little game called the Mousy Mindboggler. Sometimes it's a word game, sometimes it's a riddle, sometimes it's some other brain-teasing challenge -- but it's always fun!

Once each month, in the AllEars® Bits and Bites issue, our friend James Dezern (known as "dzneynut" around several Disney discussion forums) supplies us with a puzzle of his own design. The puzzles have some sort of Disney theme, of course, but will not be restricted to the Disney theme parks. The type of puzzle is up to James. Also up to him? The bestowing of a prize -- a collectible Disney pin from his extensive collection.

Around the middle of each month, James also Shares the Magic in another way -- by posting a puzzle in this AllEars.Net Guest Blog. Again, the subject of the puzzle will vary, and James will award the winner of the challenge a collectible Disney pin!

Here's the link to this month's puzzle:

http://allears.net/ae/mb0601513.pdf

So... Think you know Disney inside and out? Put on your thinking cap!

This month's puzzle theme involves bodies of water at Walt Disney World. Given a location at WDW, come up with the name of the river, lake, spring or pool that's most closely associated with that location. As always, not all words in the word bank are used in the puzzle.

Have fun with this "geography lesson," but if you want a chance at a Disney collectible pin, arrange the letters that are circled in the puzzle to come up with the answer to the bonus question, which relates to the puzzle theme.

Send your resulting answer IN THE SUBJECT LINE OF AN EMAIL addressed to dzneynut.puzzle@gmail.com

Send the bonus term or phrase by email no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on July 5, 2013. All correct answers will be entered into a random drawing, and the winner will be awarded a Disney pin. The answers and drawing winner will be posted in this Guest Blog, along with a new puzzle, in mid-July.

GOOD LUCK!

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

MAY SOLUTION:

Here is the answer key to last month's Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler:

http://allears.net/ae/mb051513-key.pdf

As many of you knew (and 110 of you did!) Chevrolet is the new sponsor of Test Track. Prior to the recent rehab, General Motors was the long-time sponsor of this pavilion.

WInner of the random drawing and a Mickey collectible pin was Kevin of Destrehan, LA.

We hope you enjoy this new version of the Mousy Mindboggler, and we welcome any comments or suggestions.

June 17, 2013

Jim’s Attic: Missing Merlin

merlinswordstone.jpg
Jim's Attic: Missing Merlin
By Jim Korkis

Every two weeks, Disney Historian Jim Korkis goes up into his imaginary attic to rummage around his archives and often stumbles across an unusual story about Walt Disney World.

"Allow me to introduce myself. I am Merlin, adviser to King Arthur and right now it is my job to discover which one among you is qualified to be temporary royal ruler. Since the responsibilities are so great, I will be selecting several people throughout the day to share these burdens of leadership. So, have no fear! If you get selected, it is just a part time job!"

merlinautographstoo.jpg

Not only do I personally miss the Sword in the Stone Ceremony with Merlin in the Magic Kingdom, but the walk-around Merlin has been missing since 2006 even though he is the star of the popular Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom interactive experience.

What a missed opportunity not to have Merlin personally welcoming new apprentice sorcerers or dedicating the New Fantasyland!

Disneyland, as part of the Limited Time Magic promotion, temporarily brought back a truncated version (no comic performer) of the beloved Golden Horseshoe Revue from January 10, 2012 through February 4, 2012 to packed houses.

However, reportedly, a handful of guest complaints about the raciness of the can-can dancers and Miss Lilly going out into the audience to harmlessly flirt help doom the show being temporarily revived at WDW's Diamond Horseshoe.

If Walt Disney World would really like to do a Limited Time Magic entertainment promotion, then I would cheer for a return of Merlin, especially since the mechanics of the sword still work fine and several "friends" of Merlin are still employed by the company, as well as director Chris Oyen, who shepherded the original show for over a decade as well as doing writing on the script.

"Walt [Disney], the wizard, never knew that I patterned Merlin the magician after him when I wrote the script," remembered storyman Bill Peet who gets sole credit for scripting the 1963 animated feature "Sword in the Stone". "In his book, T.H. White describes the wizard as a crusty old curmudgeon, argumentative and temperamental, playful at times and extremely intelligent. Walt was not quite a curmudgeon and he had no beard, but he was a grandfather and much more a character, and in my drawings of Merlin, I even borrowed Walt's nose."

The beloved live action show where Merlin selects a young guest from the audience to attempt to pull the sword from an anvil to become the new temporary ruler of Fantasyland (until the next show in a half hour) premiered at Disneyland in the Summer of 1983 after the opening of the New Fantasyland so this year marks Merlin's 30th anniversary as a park character.

merlinautograph.jpg

At Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, the show opened in 1993 (though other sources claim 1994) and delighted guests until its final performance on August 15, 2006.

I clearly remember the August 15th date because that is my birthday and in the Fall of 1995, I assisted in the portrayal of Merlin. When I was a "friend" of Merlin, people could clearly see what Disney costumers called "Santa Claus cheeks" and the animated black eyebrows barely hidden by glued on white eyebrows.

The costume was heavy, the props cumbersome and eager autograph seekers often thought the character was Father Time or Pagemaster from the 1994 film but it was a delightful little show that gathered substantial crowds.

Merlinmomanddad.jpg

My personal feeling is that Fantasyland could use a little more magic and the man for the job is a return of Merlin.

RELATED LINKS
====================
Check out Jim's other "From the Attic" Blogs

Full features from the Walt Disney World Chronicles series by Jim Korkis can be found in the AllEars® Archives: http://allears.net/ae/archives.htm

Jim Korkis

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jim Korkis is an internationally respected Disney Historian who has written hundreds of articles about all things Disney for more than three decades. As a former Walt Disney World cast member, his skills and historical knowledge were utilized by Disney Entertainment, Imagineering, Disney Design Group, Yellow Shoes Marketing, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Feature Animation Florida, Disney Institute, WDW Travel Company, Disney Vacation Club and many other departments.

He is the author of three new books, available in both paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon.com:
The Book of Mouse: A Celebration of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse
Who's Afraid of the Song of the South
"The REVISED Vault of Walt":


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About June 2013

This page contains all entries posted to All Ears® Guest Blog in June 2013. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 2013 is the previous archive.

July 2013 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.