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Jim Korkis Archives

April 21, 2015

Jim's Attic: The Birth of Walt Disney World Golfing

Jim's Attic: The Birth of Walt Disney World Golfing By Jim Korkis

When Walt Disney World opened October 1971, the Disney company had to educate the general public that the new entertainment venue was not just like another Disneyland, but was an entire "vacation destination" featuring a wide variety of leisure activity from boating to horseback riding to dining, and, of course, golf.

Beautiful golf courses were always part of the original Florida Project plan as conceived by Walt Disney himself. Walt had briefly taken up golfing as a hobby to alleviate stress. However, like other beginning golfers, he often found more stress on his early hours on the course before going to the Disney Studio and quit.

In 1971, both the Magnolia and Palm golf courses, designed by Joseph L. Lee, opened. In 1993, Lee renovated the Magnolia.

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Sandy Quinn was head of marketing for WDW in Florida through construction, the opening and several early years of operation.

"You have to credit two people [with opening Walt Disney World on time]. Joe Fowler, the Admiral, created all the levels of contractors and suppliers. He planned the invasion. Dick Nunis took them across the channel. They made a great team," Quinn recalled.

With a few weeks to go before the opening of Walt Disney World, Quinn was given the task of setting up a PGA golf tournament before the end of the year. Quinn knew nothing about arranging golf tournaments, but he did know that famed golfer Arnold Palmer was in town at his new Bay Hill development.

"I sent somebody over to see if he would come by and at least talk to us about it," Quinn said. "Well, he came over and we're starting to talk and all of a sudden he looks off in the distance, curious about something. I walk over and see he's watching the train engineers put the new cars on the monorail. Right away he gets interested and wants to know if he can take a ride.

"Well as luck would have it, the engineers were running a full scale test on the whole system that day -- and they were delighted to have Arnie as their first passenger. But not nearly as delighted as Arnie. He jumped in one of the cars and that's where he stayed for about four hours. He was just like a kid, going 'round and 'round, waving and laughing, having a wonderful time.

"We said a small prayer, hoping the thing wouldn't fall down or something while he was in it. When he was through, we started talking a little about a golf tournament. 'No problem,' he says, 'Sign me up. I'll call a few friends.' And that was it. In no time at all, we had a full-fledged PGA golf tournament."

The Walt Disney World Open $150,000 Golf Championship was scheduled November 29 through December 5, 1971. A $5,000 Pro-Am Tournament would take place December 1, 1971. Golfer Jack Nicklaus won that year, and the following year (1972), and the year after that (1973). Golfer Tiger Woods has won twice at Disney, including his rookie year on tour in 1996.

Jack Nicklaus

In 1973, the Walt Disney Open Invitational changed its name to the Walt Disney World Golf Classic. Golfing at Walt Disney World was so popular that the 125-room Golf Resort opened December 15, 1973, adjacent to the golf courses and near the Magic Kingdom.

In 1986, the Golf Resort became the Disney Inn, shifting the golf theme to a Snow White theme. It became the Shades of Green Resort, an Armed Forces Recreation Center resort, when the U.S. Department of Defense leased the hotel from Disney in 1994 (and purchased it outright in 1996). It now has almost 600 rooms.

While many Disney guests have enjoyed the professional golf courses over the decades, few realize how it all began thanks to golfer Arnold Palmer loving the WDW monorail.


RELATED INFORMATION AND LINKS
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.

====================
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 AND

"The REVISED Vault of Walt":


July 16, 2014

Jim's Attic: The Boardwalk Mutoscopes

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The Boardwalk Mutoscopes by Jim Korkis

Located in the Disney Boardwalk Inn and Villas resort hallway directly across from the restrooms near the Belle Vue Lounge are a green and a red Clamshell Mutoscope. At one time, there was also a mutoscope that was painted white with gold trim.

Mutoscopes were originally manufactured from 1895 to 1909 by the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company.

The red and green mutoscopes are authentic operating machines from this time period and you can still clearly see the appropriate markings on the front of the machines.

The cast iron clamshell was one of the most durable styles and is so named because of the clamshell design pattern on both sides.

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Mutoscopes were basically a huge mechanical "flip book" with about 850 sturdy photographic prints on individual cards attached to a central core and flipped by a hand cranked ratchet. Each coin-operated machine only had a single reel, often an excerpt from an existing silent film but sometimes original and lasting about a minute.

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Here's something that I learned about mutoscopes in 1996:

The viewer could control the presentation speed but only to a limited degree. The crank could be turned in both directions, but this did not reverse the playing of the reel. Nor could the patron extend viewing time by stopping the crank because the flexible images were bent into the proper viewing position by tension applied from forward cranking.

Stopping the crank reduced the forward tension on the reels causing the reel to go backwards and the picture to move from the viewing position; a spring in the mechanism turned off the light and in some models brought down a shutter which completely blocked out the picture.

How did I learn all this information about mutoscopes? Because the red and green ones were rescued by me in 1996 which is why they are still around today.

For the opening of Walt Disney World, the Disney Company bought a very large collection of authentic mutoscopes, mechanical games and Orchestrions (music boxes like "Big Bertha" at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa) from Paul Eakin in the 1970s and moved them all from where they were being displayed and stored in Missouri to Florida. (Some machines from the Disneyland collection were also shipped out to Florida.)

Eakin's collection of machines operated for many years at the Million Dollar Museum in Sikeston and The Gay 90s Melody Museum located in St. Louis. Both Missouri museums were closed when Eakin sold the bulk of his collection to Walt Disney World.

These two particular mutoscopes were part of that collection and were enjoyed by Disney guests at the Main Street Penny Arcade until it closed March 19, 1995 to become part of Main Street Athletic Company.

A handful of the machines were eventually moved to the Main Street Train Station while the rest were stored under Cinderella Castle in a small, leaky room in the Utilidoors. Most of the collection is no longer in storage but was sold off to private collectors in 1997.

In the early part of 1996, I was hired as an animation instructor at the Disney Institute. One of the programs I developed and taught was on animation history. I was able to convince my manager Larry Lauria that having a mutoscope or two would add greatly to the guest experience.

I was the representative who was sent to examine the machines in storage and decide which two should be selected since some were in pretty bad shape. I was shown how to open the base and make minor repairs using a large, twisted paperclip since the interior equipment was no longer produced.

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To my surprise, the older cast member, who was the only one to care for the machines and who has long since retired, asked me what reels I wanted for the machines.

He led me to a storage cabinet and on the shelves were unopened boxes of reels. My heart soared when I found a silent Felix the Cat excerpt "Cat in a Bag" where Felix hides from a boxing bear in a bag (probably a selection from the 1921 "Love Punch" short animated by Otto Messmer and now long out of copyright) and then found another still unidentified silent animated film clip.

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When the Disney Institute stopped offering individual programs to guests in 2000 and then later left the physical space in 2002, I feared for the fate of the machines but they found a new home at the Boardwalk where a little tender loving care may help them spring back to life to continue to delight guests.

RELATED INFORMATION AND LINKS
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.

====================
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 AND

"The REVISED Vault of Walt":


July 2, 2014

Jim's Attic: The History Behind the Saratoga Springs DVC Resort

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Jim Korkis: The History Behind the Saratoga Springs

Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa officially opened May 17, 2004 with a "health-history-horses" theme. The Development Manager for the project was Kevin Cummings which was ironically appropriate.

Cummings was born and raised in Saratoga Springs, New York, the city that was the inspiration for the new Disney Vacation Club resort. In fact, at the time, his twin brother still lived in that historic upstate New York town so Kevin would go back to visit several times during the year, especially to attend the races.

In his role as a Development Manager, Kevin oversaw the hiring of the project's design professionals, from the design architect to the working architect, to all the engineers.

"I coordinate them as a team to come up with the design for our project," he told me when the resort first opened.

As soon as Kevin heard that the new resort was to be inspired by the tranquil towns of upstate New York in the 1800s, he told everyone, "It's got to be Saratoga! We took trips up there to look at the architecture, and I'd show my friends around since I knew the lay of the land. I knew exactly where to look, where the best architecture was"North Broadway, Union Avenue, and all the special buildings that we took bits and pieces of our design from for the resort."

Working with Boston-based Graham Gund Architects (who had worked on Disney's Vero Beach Resort, the Celebration Hotel in Celebration, Florida, and Disney's Coronado Springs Resort), the team, according to Kevin, "went up and down the East Coast looking for different elements to be put to use for our buildings. Of course, the major part of the architecture is based on Saratoga. But we were very careful to use actual design elements"it's really real, what you're seeing, we didn't make this stuff up.

"Of course, I knew the history from growing up and going to school there, the local history, and the history of the racecourse. It's not a racetrack "it's a racecourse" the oldest racecourse in the United States, going all the way back to 1863. In the 1920s and '30s, especially, Saratoga was the place for the upper class to summer, and they all went during the racing season. It was known as the 'August place'. Saratoga Springs used to have more hotel rooms than any other U.S. destination."

Kevin helped develop a binder filled with photos from the research trips so that the smallest details like the awnings would be accurate.

Kevin was also instrumental in naming many of the features like the High Rock Spring Pool after one of the actual "healing springs" found in the city and frequented by celebrities like U.S. Presidents.

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Street names such as Union Avenue and Broadway will also be familiar with people who know Saratoga Springs. Kevin wanted to see the name of the street he grew up on included, but it didn't make the cut.

What most reminded Kevin of his hometown were the three towers. "We have three different building types, and we have three different tower designs on the Guest room buildings. They're right at the entrances, and they rise 70 feet into the air"those elements really strike you. You'll see them all over Saratoga, even the colors. The blues, greens, reds, and yellows we used to paint the buildings"the greatest homes in Saratoga Springs have those colors. That's what really hit me"the colors of the buildings...and the towers. No doubt about it."

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Having a reference to Saratoga Springs on WDW property is nothing new.

Since the opening of Walt Disney World in October 1971, there has been a major architectural reference to Saratoga Springs, New York in the Magic Kingdom. The majestic train station is an adaptation of one that was in that city at the turn of the century and has greeted Disney theme park guests for over forty years to remind them they are on the East Coast.

RELATED INFORMATION AND LINKS

Saratoga Springs Fact Sheet

Saratoga Springs Videos

In-Depth Look at Saratoga Springs - Three Part Blogs

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.

====================
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":


May 21, 2014

Jim's Attic: Humphrey the Bear at Wilderness Lodge

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Humphrey the Bear at Wilderness Lodge
By Jim Korkis

Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort is the only Disney resort hotel to have an official mascot, the brown bear. Images and allusions can be found throughout the resort including bear tracks imbeded in the walkways.

To make that potentially fearsome mascot more friendly for younger guests, some of the brown bear images are of the Disney animated character Humphrey the Bear, a lovable, overweight brown bear who lives in the fictional Brownstone National Park.

Humphrey is most prominent on a totem pole on the outside of the Mercantile Store in the lobby of the resort. A smiling Humphrey is at the bottom of the pole supporting frontier garbed Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck on top of him.

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Over the years, the store has sold exclusive merchandise featuring the image of Humphrey.

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In addition, Humphrey pops on signage throughout the resort that many guests fail to notice. On the road leading to the Wilderness Lodge, just to right before the archway, is a round metal sign with silhouettes of Mickey Mouse being followed by Humphrey.

At the entrance to the Villas at Wilderness Lodge is another metal sign with the silhouettes of Mickey walking along and Humphrey riding on top of an old fashioned penny farthing bicycle to mark the bike crossing path.

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Only seven Disney cartoon characters have starred in their own theatrical cartoon series. Humphrey the Bear was the last one to do so before the Disney company decided to stop making theatrical cartoon shorts.

Humphrey starred prominently in four Donald Duck cartoons, Rugged Bear (1953), Grin and Bear It (1954), Bearly Asleep (1955), and Beezy Bear (1955).

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He was so popular that Disney gave him his own series but only two cartoons were completed, Hooked Bear (1956) and In the Bag (1956).

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In addition, Humphrey appeared in the opening credits for the original Mickey Mouse Club television series in 1955 holding the trampoline on which various characters bounce Mickey Mouse high into the air.

Humphrey the Bear does not speak but communicates through expressive grunts supplied by voice man Jimmy MacDonald who also did the voice of Mickey Mouse. Sometimes, director Jack Hannah would step in to supply some of the grunts.

Hannah directed all the Humphrey the Bear animated appearances in the Golden Age of Disney animation and since he lived in the same city where I grew up, I got a chance to interview him many times. He was actually the very first Disney animator I ever interviewed.

"For the sake of something new, we tried the Duck with a bear and it seemed like an immediate success for them to play against each other," Hannah revealed to me in an interview. "Later, when we started thinking of another picture for the bear, it seemed natural to be in a National Forest and that's how the Little Ranger came into being. The Little Ranger always treated his bears like his own pets and I always found that funny as did the audience."

Humphrey has also appeared in cartoons made for television including House of Mouse and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. He even has a short cameo at the end of the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

While Humphrey never appeared in any cartoon featuring him in the circus, he was recently revived to be included in the New Fantasyland expansion. He is prominent on the sign for Big Top Treats "Circus Snacks Galore" with him happily munching away on a caramel apple. In addition, that same image is used on a Storybook Circus poster.

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However, while he may sneak over to the Magic Kingdom to grab a tasty treat, his official Walt Disney World home is Wilderness Lodge.

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.

RELATED INFORMATION AND LINKS
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.

====================
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":


May 7, 2014

Jim's Attic - Snow Queen Ride

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The Snow Queen Ride
By Jim Korkis

The most recent Walt Disney Feature Animation film, Frozen (2013), is the highest grossing animated feature film ever produced, winning Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Song.

The Meet and Greet with Anna and Elsa at the Norway Pavilion at Epcot was so overwhelmingly successfully that the new Disney princesses now take up residence at the Princess Fairytale Hall in the Magic Kingdom to better accommodate their huge number of fans.

Anna and Elsa in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot:

Walt Disney himself had been interested in the Hans Christian Andersen tale of the Snow Queen as early as 1943.

Walt was in discussions with MGM film producer Samuel Goldwyn to collaborate on a film biography of the famous writer.

MGM would handle the live action sequences and Disney would create short animated sequences of some of Anderson's most famous tales including The Little Mermaid, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and, of course, The Snow Queen.

The project never developed any further but periodically over the years just like with the story of the Little Mermaid, the Disney artists would review the material to see if they could develop a story about The Snow Queen.

The big challenge was that the Snow Queen was basically a villain and all of the Disney animated feature films were about heroes who defeated the villain.

In 2002, Disney came close, even having songwriter Alan Menken compose several terrific tunes including "Love Can't Be Denied". Animator Glen Keane was deeply involved in the film but left when CEO Michael Eisner considered giving the film to Pixar to do. Fortunately, the project was revived again with a new team in 2008.

A few years before his official retirement in 1978, Imagineer Marc Davis designed an attraction for Disneyland and Walt Disney World's Fantasyland that was based on the story of The Snow Queen and was entitled "The Enchanted Snow Palace".

The massive white and blue show building would have looked like a glacier but slowly as guests got closer and looked more carefully, they would have realized that it seemed almost like carvings of towers, windows, doors and more.

Guests would have boarded a boat (just like on it's a small world) to drift pass dancing audio-animatronics polar bears, walruses, penguins and more to the background music from "The Nutcracker's Suite".

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Soon, the guests would drift into a snow cave with frost fairies (like the ones in the film Fantasia) and snow giants carrying icicle clubs. Eventually, the boats would come to the throne room of the Snow Queen herself who was about to leave on her sled for her journey through her kingdom.

To speed her passage, she conjures up a blizzard and the guests are caught in a brief snow storm just before they exit into the hot summer reality of Fantasyland.

Davis felt that a leisurely beautiful, literally cool attraction that could be enjoyed by guests of all ages would have been embraced by guests eager to get out of the heat and spend a restful moment on a boat ride.

However, at an estimated cost of fifteen million dollars, the Disney company decided to pass on the attraction and look to more thrilling rather than artistic experiences.

Now, with the continuing popularity of Frozen, the latest rumor is that the Maelstrom attraction in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot might be re-designed into a Frozen attraction, perhaps adapting some of the work done by Davis. Others feel that it might be more appropriate to have such an attraction in the New Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom.

Whatever the final decision, it is important to remember that decades before the film, the story of Andersen's Snow Queen was very much a part of the Disney heritage.

====================
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":


April 23, 2014

Jim’s Attic: Theater of the Stars Handprints Part One

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Theater of the Stars Handprints Part One
By Jim Korkis

Most Disney fans are aware that the handprints in the forecourt of the Chinese Theater at Disney Hollywood Studios are real. Between 1989 and 1995, some well-known entertainment celebrities placed their hand and foot prints into the wet concrete blocks.

Many of those blocks were not installed but stored backstage. In addition, depending upon the willingness of the participants, a duplicate or two were made in case of damage to the original.

When Sunset Boulevard opened in July 1994, a new Theater of the Stars (designed to be reminiscent of the fabled Hollywood Bowl) was opened. In the forecourt entrance to the 1,500 seat theater, some of those previously unused blocks were placed in that location.

Originally, the theater was located on Hollywood Boulevard at approximately the area where Sunset Boulevard begins today from May 1, 1989 to May 2, 1993. The overwhelming popularity of the park dedicated to the Hollywood that Never Was but Always Will Be resulted in immediate plans for an expansion.

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Without fanfare, in a effort to enhance the re-location of the theater, the Walt Disney World Imagineers decided that they would use some of the celebrity imprinted blocks that were in storage and the most logical place was the new Theater of the Stars.

Here is a chronological listing of all of those blocks. Some blocks were undated. Many of these entertainers had long and varied careers with many triumphs. Because of space, I have limited the identifications to their best known credit which in most cases was television oriented.

Sherman Hemsley 5/23/89
George Jefferson on the CBS television series All in the Family (1973-1974) and The Jeffersons (1975-1985)

Loretta Swit 5/28/89
Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan on M*A*S*H (1972-1983).

Martin Mull 6/7/89
Block includes a caricature of his face
Leon Carp, Roseanne Conner's boss (and later business partner), on the TV series Roseanne (1991-1997).

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James Doohan 7/3/89
Block says "Beam Me Up".
Montgomery "Scotty" Scott, Chief Engineer of the starship the U.S.S. Enterprise, in the original television series and original film series Star Trek (1966-1991).

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John Astin 8/26/89

Gomez Addams on The Addams Family (1964-1966)

Bob Denver 10/15/89

Block also includes the name "Gilligan"
The hapless shipwrecked sailor Gilligan on Gilligan's Island (1964-1967)

McLean Stevenson 12/19/89
Lt. Colonel Henry Blake on the TV series M*A*S*H.

Howie Mandel 2/2/90
Judge on America's Got Talent starting in 2010.

Lou Ferrigno 4/18/90
The green monster known as the Hulk in the television series The Incredible Hulk (1977-1982) and as himself in the sitcom The King of Queens (2000-2007).

Monty Hall 6/14/90
Block says "Let's Make a Deal"
Developer, producer and host of tv game show Let's Make a Deal (1963-1991)

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Tom Poston 6/24/90
He placed an extra upside down hand in between his two hand prints
George Utley, bumbling country handyman of the Stratford Inn, on sitcom Newhart (1982-1990). He was nominated three times for an Emmy for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series for this role.

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David Leisure 7/7/90
Charley Dietz in the sitcom Empty Nest (1988 - 1995) and fictional (and "lying") automotive commerical "pitch man" Joe Isuzu.

Charlotte Rae 8/28/90
Edna Garrett, the housemother of Eastland boarding school, in the sitcom The Facts of Life (1979-1988)

George Wendt 8/31/90
Norm Peterson on the television show Cheers (1982-1993)

In Part Two, I will document the remaining blocks and why you might consider taking a look at them soon to photograph them or to place your hands in the prints and see how you measure up before they fade away.

RELATED INFORMATION AND LINKS
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.

====================
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":


April 9, 2014

Jim’s Attic: The Story of Beacon Joe

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The Story of Beacon Joe
By Jim Korkis

Which original Disney character appears in three different attractions at Walt Disney World and was originally created for Disneyland?

I always hated it when teachers asked questions like that and they already knew the answer" and I was a public school teacher for several years after I graduated college so I always tried to help the students with the right answer.

The answer is in the title of this blog installment: Beacon Joe.

However, for many Disney fans that can still be a puzzling answer. When The Pirates of the Caribbean attraction opened in May 1967, it was the last Disney attraction personally overseen by Walt Disney himself.

It was Walt's idea to have the shallow boats drift leisurely through the Blue Bayou before plunging down a hidden waterfall to begin the pirate adventure. The musical chirp of unseen crickets and the faint glow of fireflies against the background of an indigo sky dotted with stars and slowly wafting clouds artistically frames this location to give it a false sense of calm.

The always innovative Walt Disney conceived of a quiet, upscale restaurant that would actually be inside an attraction. It was an idea that had never been done before and it was an instant hit with the many visitors to Disneyland. (My favorite treat at Disneyland is a Monte Cristo sandwich in the restaurant.)

There were discussions of including live entertainment in this quiet, restful environment but after a dress rehearsal during a trial dinner, Walt reportedly said, "In this restaurant, the food is going to be the show, along with the atmosphere".

Right across from the Blue Bayou restaurant and to the left of the guests in the boats is a shack where a bearded man wearing overalls leisurely rocks back and forth plucking out a tune on his banjo. That's Beacon Joe.

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Disney Legend Marc Davis designed both the character and the shack. In fact, the initial concept drawings came from his original designs for a Thieves Market that was going to be part of the attraction when it was planned to be a walk-through experience.

The Pirates of the Caribbean attraction was initially not going to be installed in Florida so to brighten up the steamboat voyage around the Rivers of America in Frontierland, Davis installed Beacon Joe and his shack just around an upper curve in the river.

Joe was not there at the opening in 1971 but made his appearance sometime in late 1972 just before the opening of Tom Sawyer's Island in 1973 along with other residents added to the river banks like the Native Americans in their village.

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Joe is the last outpost of civilization before guests drift into the frontier wilderness.

He sits on the porch of his shack in front of Alligator Swamp smoking his corncob pipe. He keeps track of the river's occasional course changes and marks the river accordingly for the river traffic.

His faithful dog intensely watches a jumping fish (that looks suspiciously like a repainted piranha from the Jungle Cruise) with his head turning from left to right.

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Beacon Joe also appears in Tokyo Disneyland. He can be seen fishing, surrounded by barrels and with his faithful dog on the nearby stairs, near the large trestle of the Western River Railroad as the steamboat maneuvers around the Western River.

However, I mentioned that Beacon Joe appears in three different attractions just at Walt Disney World. It is not unusual for the Disney Company to re-use audio-animatronics sculpted figures. For instance, President Thomas Jefferson shows up as a sheriff on a balcony in The Great Movie Ride, along with some Caribbean pirates re-used as gangsters earlier in the attraction.

The character sculpt of Beacon Joe is used in The Pirates of the Caribbean attraction as the standing pirate in the last jail cell at the end of the ride trying to coax a dog to give him the key to the door. He also shows up clean shaven and wearing a crown at the ballroom banquet table in The Haunted Mansion.

Just like a supporting character actor in a film, Beacon Joe quietly makes his appearances to help the storytelling but never feels the necessity to be the star of the show. However, now, you know where he is and why he is there so give him a wave or a shout on your next visit.

RELATED INFORMATION AND LINKS
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.

====================
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":

March 12, 2014

Jim’s Attic: A Short History of Tony’s Town Square Restaurant

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A Short History of Tony's Town Square Restaurant By Jim Korkis

When Main Street U.S.A. opened at the Magic Kingdom in Florida in October 1971, right there in Town Square was the Town Square Café with an open air porch where patrons could watch the stream of guests rushing in and out of the park.

The food and beverage location offered breakfast, lunch and dinner and was themed to the elegant Victorian era. Originally, the venue was going to be sponsored by a coffee company but the proposed participant backed out.

It ended up being sponsored by Oscar Mayer from 1971-1981. Diminutive spokesman for the company, Little Oscar (actually affable George Molchan) in his white chef's hat, was there greeting guests and handing out the iconic wiener whistles to eager children.

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However, it was not a variety of Oscar Mayer hot dogs that were served at the location but upscale fare like a Monte Cristo sandwich and Crepes Jambalaya. Both Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola were available as well on the menu.

When Oscar Mayer declined to renew its sponsorship, the location was taken over by Hormel who handled the operation from 1981 to 1989. The menu was a large four page newspaper entitled "Town Square Times" with the first page devoted to the history of the Hormel company. The new sponsor still sold a Monte Cristo sandwich along with a Main Street Deli Plate and Fresh Catfish.

When Hormel decided not to continue sponsorship in 1989, the Disney Company did an extensive rehab of the restaurant converting it into Tony's Town Square Restaurant.

The restaurant references the Italian restaurant in the Disney animated feature classic Lady and the Tramp (1955) where two canines shared a romantic moment over a plate of spaghetti and meat balls.

The proprietor of the film's eatery is a larger-than-life, black-mustached, friendly character named Tony voiced by actor George Givot, known for his dialect comedy and fine singing voice, who passed away in 1984.

After a recent rehab, Tony's image is now smiling from a brand new overhead sign.

The waiting area has a television playing a clip from the film and the interior of the restaurant is decorated with Lady and the Tramp artwork as well as a sculpted fountain.

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For over thirty years, Don "Ducky" Williams has been a Senior Character Artist at Walt Disney World. During that time, he supplied artwork for memorable pieces of merchandise like the special limited edition lithographs for the Disney Cruise Line and the Disney Vacation Club.

Sometimes, his talents were tapped for unusual projects like Tony's Town Square Restaurant.

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"I did the artwork for all the china, signage, menus, etc. In fact, when it first opened, it had plates, saucers, creamers and more with my Lady and the Tramp artwork on it," commented Williams when I interviewed him. "They found the guests loved it so much that they kept stealing it so they replaced them with regular china. The remainder they had they sold at Disneyana conventions.

"Do you see all those framed paintings on the wall? There are twelve of them and I did them all. Those are the original paintings framed under glass, not prints or reproductions. If they ever change out that place, I would love to have those back to put up in my house."

Don Ducky Williams

Disney enthusiast Greg Ehrbar was responsible for writing the original two-sided kid's menu that was designed to resemble the comics section from the "Main Street Gazette". Besides the menu, it featured games and puzzles and an original comic strip. Unfortunately, this particular menu has been retired.

Some Disney fans are unimpressed with the menu offerings at Tony's but everyone is appreciative of the artistic "theming" of the space and how it captures the spirit of one of Disney's most beloved animated features. I wonder if there are any left over hot dogs in the back from Oscar Mayer for Tramp's many friends?

Deb's Note:
Ducky was a special guest of AllEars during our December to Remember Celebration in 2011. We designed a special AllEars Trading Card dedicated to his work at Tony's Town Square.

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RELATED INFORMATION AND LINKS
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.

====================
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":


February 26, 2014

Jim's Attic: The Hidden Handprints of The Magic of Animation

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The Hidden Handprints of The Magic of Animation

On May 1, 1989, the Disney MGM Studios officially opened with a dedication ceremony led by then CEO Michael Eisner. However, not long afterwards on that same day, there was another dedication ceremony in front of The Magic of Disney Animation building.

Roy E. Disney talked at podium set up in the front of the attraction where he emphasized that hand drawn animation was really the focal point of the Disney Company. He continued that animation was the start of the Disney Company and that with the newly opened Disney Feature Animation Studio Florida "a new day for animation will be dawning".

The Little Mermaid would debut in November, just six months later, proving Roy absolutely correct.

Joining in the dedication were several Disney Legends who had made significant contributions to animation: Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, Ward Kimball, Marc Davis, Ken O'Connor and Ken Anderson.

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The one snag in the ceremony was a literal snag as the cover over the elaborate animation film strip sculpture at the front of the building did indeed get caught on a pointy outcropping of the sculpture. Amid the fanfare, releasing of balloons and applause, several Disney executives struggled in a tug of war to release the red cover from it entanglement and eventually succeeded.

There was also a ceremony where these six animation legends put their handprints and autographs into cement blocks to be placed in an alcove of the animation courtyard inside the building.

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Originally, the attraction was configured so that guests could not see these three rectangular blocks placed in the ground. However, today, the area (head to the Meet and Greet section and the area is between the Animation Theatre Exit and the Character Department) is open for guests to discover them and take photographs.

While Ken Anderson, Marc Davis and Ward Kimball were Imagineers at the time, they got their starts in the world of animation. Davis was responsible for the design of characters like Tinker Bell and Princess Aurora. Kimball was the animator who designed Jiminy Cricket and the Cheshire Cat. Anderson was the designer of Shere Khan and Pete's Dragon, Elliot. All of them had contributed significantly to many of the Disney animated features.

Ken O'Connor was known as one of Disney's top layout artists and art directors. His work included the magical coach in "Cinderella," the marching cards in "Alice in Wonderland," and the dancing hippos in "Fantasia".

Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston stayed in animation their entire career but also collaborated on several books including the definitive book on Disney animation entitled "Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life". Their animation began with work on the dwarves in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and continued through The Fox and the Hound where both worked on the young Tod and Copper.

The original intention was that there were would two legends to one block as demonstrated on the one featuring Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, longtime friends as well as co-workers. Their hands and signatures are neatly and symmetrically imprinted, along with an impression of their pencils. This was how all the blocks were to look.

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However, another block features three handprints and signatures: Marc Davis, Ken Anderson and Ken O'Connor, once again with impressions of their drawing pencils. Yet, Anderson's signature seems crowded and his last name curves downward as if squeezed for space or an afterthought.

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The secret is clear on the final block knowing the behavior of the exuberant Ward Kimball, an extrovert known for being an unpredictable maverick. Not only did he make sure his pencil was broken before being imprinted unlike his fellow legends, he also spread his fingers wide so he could make a second impression and close examination will reveal that he has six fingers on each hand, something that most guests miss at a casual glance.

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Also, in a fit of high spirits, he filled the bottom half of the block with a quick drawing of Mickey Mouse's head in the space that was going to be filled by Ken Anderson. Who would be so bold as to wipe out a Mickey Mouse drawing by the legendary Kimball? Apparently, no one. So Anderson squeezed in to a space on another block.

Today, these hidden handprints are available for every DHS guest to enjoy and now, you know the secret behind them.

If you have earlier photos of these handprints to share, when they were much newer, please let us know!

RELATED INFORMATION AND LINKS
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.

====================
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":


February 12, 2014

Jim's Attic: The Walt Disney World Time Capsule That Never Was

The Walt Disney World Time Capsule That Never Was
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.

One of the hardest things for me over the decades is having someone tell me a great story and then immediately make me promise never to tell the story because they intend to use it in a book that they are going to write some day. My frustration comes from the fact that the book never gets written.

Over a decade and a half ago, Disney executive Ron Heminger made me promise not to tell all the stories he shared with me. Heminger began his Disney career in 1955 as one of the dancers at the Indian village in Frontierland where his father was a chief. He worked his way up into managerial roles, finishing out his decades with Disney working at Epcot which is where I first encountered him.

While he freely told terrific stories to those of us interested in listening, he warned each of us that he was going to write a book about his experiences and didn't want any of us telling some of the great stories before the book came out.

He had boxes and boxes of 8mm home movies, memos, memorabilia and more that he had gathered in half a century to use as a resource. There is no indication he ever started writing his book. He disappeared and is supposedly happily living in a trailer somewhere out West where even his closet friends and family members have not been able to locate him.

Some of Heminger's stories were about the building of the Magic Kingdom. Since Coors Beers was only available on the West Coast and it was a favorite of some of the California people working on the Magic Kingdom in Florida, they arranged for it to be shipped out in boxes from the West Coast marked as equipment for the Peter Pan's Flight attraction.

"Yeah, Ron was right," Disney Legend Bill "Sully" Sullivan who was also there at the building of Magic Kingdom told me with a laugh. "This guy brought out Coors Beer in boxes marked 'small tools and parts.' He almost got fired because he had used company trucks. We also had things like refried beans shipped out so we could have good Mexican food. Ron took that package that the company offered years ago and he is now in some double wide trailer in Colorado or somewhere. He was half-Sioux, you know."

One of my favorite Heminger stories is about the Walt Disney World Time Capsule That Never Was. Several years after Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, he was walking with his supervisor through the theme park and reminiscing about the frantic time of opening the place on time.

"One of the things I really regret is that we never did the time capsule," Heminger shared. "We prepared the spot but just ran out of time."
His supervisor, who was not there in those months of construction, laughed and told him that it was just an urban legend and that there were never any plans for a time capsule.

Heminger knew better and insisted that it was true and that a place had been prepared at Cinderella Castle. The discussion started to escalate and Heminger finally told the supervisor to meet him at Cinderella Castle a few hours after park closing, after the guests and maintenance staff were not there.

When the park closed, Heminger and one of his cohorts went to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction and took a full skeleton. Then they went to Cinderella Castle and carefully removed a plaque. There was a hollowed-out hole behind the plaque. It was clear that a space had indeed been prepared for something. They dressed the skeleton in a WED (Walt Disney Imagineering) hard hat and vest, stuffed it into the opening and then replaced the plaque.

Later that evening, Heminger met his supervisor and gave him a flashlight. With some theatrical difficulty, Heminger removed the plaque while he told how things were so hectic in the final days of building the Magic Kingdom that they basically spent their energy during the last few days just making sure everything was covered up for the guests until they could get to it again.

The supervisor was surprised to see a wide hole hidden behind the plaque. Turning on the flashlight, he curiously stuck his head deep inside and peered below".where he saw the supposed remains of a hapless WED employee inadvertently trapped and forgotten for years. I am sure the readers of this column can imagine the reaction much more effectively than I could ever describe it.

I hope Ron, wherever he is, gets a laugh out of this story and forgives me for sharing it in hopes that it will motivate him to start writing that book about his time at Disneyland and Walt Disney World because his stories were great.

RELATED INFORMATION AND LINKS
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.

====================
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":


January 29, 2014

Jim’s Attic: Imagineer Marvin Davis, Master Planner of Walter Disney World

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Imagineer Marvin Davis, Master Planner of Walter Disney World
By Jim Korkis

While Disney Imagineer Herb Ryman did the famous sketch over a long weekend that sold the idea of a Disneyland to bankers and more, his imaginative concept drawing was based on the layout sketches of Imagineer Marvin Davis, who had been a film art director.

Many Disney fans confuse Davis with another Disney Legend, animator Marc Davis, but Marvin was a distinctly different individual with a background in architecture and film that aided him in making Walt Disney's dreams into three dimensional realities.

Marvin Davis developed the first diagrammatic plan for Disneyland. On the morning of August 8, 1953, Walt reviewed the site map that Davis was working on and picked up a No. 1 carbon pencil and drew a triangle around the plot of land to indicate where he wanted his railroad to run. That historic drawing still exists today. For two years, Davis worked on more than 100 different versions of the master plan for Disneyland.

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While he is sometimes given credit as the master planner of Disneyland, he was also responsible for the diagrammatic layout for Walt Disney World.

In 1955, Davis had married Walt Disney's niece, Marjorie Sewell. So when Walt was visiting Florida anonymously to check out the property in the 1960s, he borrowed the Davis last name since he was part of the family. On these visits, Walt used the pseudonym, "Walter E. Davis," and the initials "WED" matched the initials on Walt's luggage and other monogrammed material. Davis accompanied Walt several times to Florida.

In 1965, Marvin Davis returned to WED (Walt Disney Imagineering) from his work on art directing Disney films at Walt's request as a project designer for Walt Disney World in Florida. He devised the master plan for the Magic Kingdom theme park but also contributed to the design of the resort hotels like the Contemporary, the Polynesian and the Golf Resort.

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As Imagineer Marty Sklar remembered at the time of Davis' death at the age of 87 in 1998, "Marvin was a bulldog. He pushed things and kept pushing them until everyone, especially him, was completely satisfied with them. He was just extremely thorough and professional. Determined was the right word for Marvin. It took him 69 versions or more of the Disneyland master plan before Walt said, 'OK.' It was a difficult situation. No one had ever done anything like Disneyland before, but he just kept pushing.

"A source of great pride for him, though, was that when he came back to Imagineering to do Walt Disney World, it took him only seven versions. That's remarkable considering that Walt Disney World was 27,000 acres, a big puzzle that he had to sort out and make understandable for guests. A lot of people worked on that plan, but it was Marvin who brought it all together."

Disney Legend Bill Evans recalled this encounter with Davis, "The remarkable thing about Marvin was his attitude. He could have been angry about his ailment (Marvin suffered from the effects of polio) but he was always up, always positive, always in good spirits. He never let it affect him. He was cheerful, creative and an inspiration to everyone who knew him.

"One time in the summer of 1967, we were trying to get a better look at the site in Florida. It was hotter than Hades that day, 100 Farenheit and humidity in the 90s. We crammed into Land Rovers and ours got really stuck in the mud. There was no one around the 28,000 acres at that time except for an occasional hunter chasing a deer so I had to leave Marvin behind while I slogged through the mud looking for the others. When we finally got back to him, he wasn't as cheerful as usual, but I guess you wouldn't be either if you had to sit in that heat and humidity for several hours."

Davis was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1994 but like so many people who labored to make Disney magic a reality, he is too often forgotten by guests who enjoy Walt Disney World today.

RELATED INFORMATION AND LINKS
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.

====================

Marvin Davis is one of the Imagineering Legends in the book Walt Disney's Imagineering Legends!

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":

January 15, 2014

Jim’s Attic: Farewell to Cap’n Jack’s

Signage
Farewell to Cap'n Jack's
By Jim Korkis

Cap'n Jack's Restaurant was an informal, New England-ish, nautically-themed restaurant at the Downtown Disney Marketplace on the east side. The restaurant had been a staple on the waterfront since The Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village opened in 1975. In fact, both opened on the very same day and for years afterward Cap'n Jack's was considered the place to visit on WDW property in the evenings.

Originally, it was called Cap'n Jack's Oyster Bar and was a location where adults could grab cocktails and appetizers in the early days of Walt Disney World. Obviously, it specialized in seafood and was one of the very few locations on or near WDW property that was open until the wee hours.

When it became an official "restaurant" around 2000 the menu expanded and featured seafood, steak, pasta dishes, and kid friendly items like chicken strips and hamburgers. In fact, from an adult lounge, it had transformed into a family friendly location but was unable to compete with newer additions like the Rainforest Café.

Not only was it the longest surviving original business in the Downtown area, it was the last remaining Disney operated restaurant in that area as well. It was born along with now forgotten locations such as the Gourmet Pantry, the Village Spirits and so many others.

The entire area was not just a way to satisfy guests staying on Walt Disney property so that they didn't have to find transportation to downtown Orlando. It was meant to be a hub from which a housing community composed of town houses, condominiums and more would grow.

As part of the Phase Two plans for Walt Disney World property, the monorail was to be extended to stop at the shopping and dining area and some stanchion foundations were put in place and county clearances had been obtained.

Pricey shops selling elegant goods from clothes to wine were included to attract the local population as well as the tourists who could purchase items that they would be unable to find anywhere else in Orlando.

Cap'n Jack's unique hexagonal-shape offered wonderful views of the lake and Downtown Disney's marina where guests could rent watercraft to leisurely cruise the nearby waterways. In the earliest days, there was not much else to see from the windows except cypress trees and water until the Empress Lilly debuted in 1977.

Cap'n Jack's

Cap'n Jack's was built out into the lagoon and was described as a "floating" restaurant. The outside porch for Cap'n Jack's was intended for live female models to walk and display the newest in swimsuits from the nearby shop, the Windjammer Dock Shop (that had a red-headed mermaid as its logo).

The restaurant was not named for Captain Jack Sparrow, who would not be born for several decades. It was named after Disney Legend Jack Olsen who had a fondness for sailing and fishing. Olsen retired from the Disney Company in 1977 but was instrumental in shaping the Disney theme park merchandise mentality since the opening of Disneyland in 1955.

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It was Olsen who jumped into dumpsters to rescue Disney animation cels, trim them into a cardboard matte and then sell them for a dollar or so to early park guests. He was the one who insisted that Disney park merchandise be distinctly different than what guests could get anywhere else.

Like many of Disney's top executives, he relocated from California to Florida to open Walt Disney World where he was the Vice President in charge of Disney Merchandise.

Cap'n Jack's last day of operation was in mid-August. Its closure was part of the conversion plan for the new Disney Springs.

However, the name lives on at the Cap'n Jack's Margarita Bar dockside and as the name of the marina.

The famous drink at the original Cap'n Jack's Oyster Bar was the Strawberry Margarita. Actually, it was the first East Coast appearance of this drink but was quite popular with the California WDW cast members who had relocated to Florida and that spurred its introduction.

That tradition lives on in Cap'n Jack's Margarita Bar so a little of the spirit (in every sense of the word) of the original shopping village still lives on as well.

RELATED INFORMATION AND LINKS
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.

====================

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":

November 20, 2013

Who was Diane Disney Miller?

by Jim Korkis
Disney Historian

Who was Diane Disney Miller?

Most Disney fans would immediately reply that she was the daughter of Walt Disney.

Some might know that she married former President and CEO of the Disney Company, Ron Miller, back in 1953 when he was considering becoming a professional football player and were both 20-year-old students attending USC. Others might associate her with being the driving force behind the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco that opened in 2009.

Of course, she and her sister were the official inspiration for the creation of Disneyland, a place where a daddy and his two daughters could have fun together. It was Diane who, as a child, was so delighted at the adventures of Mary Poppins that her father became convinced to fight to make it a motion picture.

Then, people might struggle coming up with some information. She was the owner with her husband of the well-known Silverado Winery in Napa Valley that opened in 1980. She stepped forward after her mother's death to complete the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles in 1997. She had a younger adopted sister, Sharon, who passed away from cancer. In recent years, she appeared at Disney events.

Diane Marie Disney Miller, the only biological daughter of Walt Disney, passed away at the age of 79 on Tuesday, November 19, after severe complications of a fall she had several weeks ago. She had seven children, 13 grand-children and recently welcomed her first great-grandchild to the world.

I knew Diane. She wrote the foreword for my first book about Disney history and one of her personal stories appears in my newly released Vault of Walt: Volume 2. We corresponded through e-mail and I was a guest speaker at the Walt Disney Family Museum where at lunch I shared chili with Diane and her husband.

She was a remarkable, strong-willed, self-effacing, supportive woman who sacrificed her comfortable private life to step out into the spotlight during the last decade or so to protect her father and his reputation.

Her unexpected passing from a stupid accident is still unbelievable to me and so many others as I write these words. She was a physically fit woman with a razor-sharp mind filled with dreams for the future. We all thought she would be around forever.

She was Walt's miracle baby. After two miscarriages, Lillian finally had a healthy pregnancy with little Diane Marie Disney being born December 18, 1933, 13 days after Walt's 32nd birthday. Later when Lillian tried to have another child, she suffered another miscarriage and her doctor warned her it would be unwise to try again and Diane would be the only one. In January 1937, the Disneys adopted 2-week-old Sharon Mae Disney.

Diane used to joke when being shown pictures of a young Walt, "When I first met him, he was older."

She loved talking about her dad. She did not pretend he was a saint but she was greatly disturbed that he seemed to be merchandised like any other Disney character and that people who never knew her father would write such terribly wrong things about him or make false assumptions as to why he did things.

Diane and Sharon had been raised out of the limelight to allow them to try to have a normal life, not like other children of celebrities. They didn't always get things that they wanted and often had to wait for things they did get.

"People would want to peer at my dad as if he was a curiosity and in college people began to peer at me as if I was a curiosity too," recalled Diane.

For Diane, Walt was not the internationally lauded cartoon genius. As she often said, "he was just Dad".

When she was younger, Walt was her primary playmate teaching her how to dog paddle in their pool, how to ride a horse and taking her along on visits to the Disney Studio on Sunday afternoons where she and her younger sister would run around and sometimes go into an empty soundstage to have a shouting contest because of the echo.

"Both Sharon and I said we were going to marry him when we grew up. Then we discovered horses and were going to marry a horse and then we discovered boys," Diane joked.

At her small wedding away from everything in Santa Barbara, Walt, who gave her away, sobbed through the entire ceremony with tears unashamedly running down his cheeks.

Walt did everything he could to help the newlyweds including designing their first house and getting Ron a job at the studio.

In recent years, Diane was a strong advocate for the research and sharing of Disney history and was an enthusiastic cheerleader of many of us, myself included, with a sincere joy at every new discovery. She genuinely appreciated everyone who shared a memory of what her dad meant to them. While she never considered herself a writer (Walt had tried to encourage her to pursue that career several times), she was a tremendous storyteller.

I will miss her, as will so many others, and remember her with respect and affection. I don't think the realization of what a great loss this is will become apparent for many months. With her passing, it really is the end of an era of a direct connection to Walt. I hope she is enjoying being reunited with her family, especially her dad, and knows how much she was truly loved.


November 4, 2013

Jim's Attic: The Dragon Calliope

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.

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The Dragon Calliope
By Jim Korkis

It continues to amaze me that there are so many hidden treasures at Walt Disney World waiting to be discovered and enjoyed and how often they are bypassed because they are not in the theme parks.

For the 1955 Mickey Mouse Club Circus parade at Disneyland, Walt Disney purchased some authentic turn-of-the-century circus wagons and very carefully restored them. In fact, anything removed from a wagon during the restoration, Walt had preserved.

Walt purchased nine authentic circus wagons from Bradley & Kaye who were using them as decorations outside the entrance to their small amusement park at the corner of Beverly and La Cienga in Los Angeles where Walt would take his young daughters on Sunday outings.

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In this purchase was a 1907 twenty whistle steam calliope that was in disrepair.

Its first appearance was in the Mugivan and Bowers shows in England, circa 1907, after which it was sold to Ken Maynard's Diamond K Circus in 1936. At a cost of $50,000, Disney redesigned the calliope to resemble the others in the collection, and adorned its wagon with decorative pieces from some of Disney's other circus wagons transforming it into the Dragon Calliope.

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Take a close look at the car behind the engine of Disneyland's Casey Jr. train. The dragon is an exact re-creation of the one on the calliope since it is a circus train.

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Many of the circus wagons, as well as the calliope, appear in the Disney live-action film, "Toby Tyler or Ten Weeks With a Circus" (1960).

Starring young Kevin Corcoran and based on the well known novel of the same name by James Otis Kaler, the film recounts a young boy running away to work in a circus and becoming a circus star after befriending a mischievous chimp.

The film's world premiere was held January 21, 1960, at the Florida Theater in Sarasota, Florida, the winter home of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus (now owned and operated by Feld Entertainment, who produce the Disney on Ice shows).

Just as the parade and the credits are ending the movie, the Dragon Calliope comes in to view, followed by the eager Toby Tyler, as music and steam billow from the colorful wagon.

In 1962, Walt would donate the wagons (including the pieces that had been removed) to the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin, where they are taken care of and displayed to this day. However, he kept the Dragon Calliope.

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Besides being part of the short-lived Mickey Mouse Club Circus parade, the calliope went on to appear at Disneyland parades until the park's 25th anniversary.

It was repainted silver and blue and pulled by six black Percheron horses when it was relocated to Florida for the Walt Disney World Tencennial celebration in 1981. Since then, it was seen in numerous parades at Walt Disney World, including several Christmas broadcasts until it was retired from parade duty.

To the best of my memory and research, the last time the Dragon Calliope was used was January 2, 2007 in Tallahassee, Florida where Mickey and Minnie Mouse were participants in the inaugural parade for newly-sworn in governor, Charlie Crist. Mickey and Minnie in the calliope were pulled by a team of eight black Percheron horses.

The Tri-Circle-D Ranch at the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground at Walt Disney World is now the home for the famous Dragon Calliope.

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It is located near another free hidden treasure, a small exhibit, named Walt Disney Horses dedicated to Walt's love of horses and to the different roles horses do at Walt Disney World.

I hope some of you will now go track down these wonderful hidden treasures, take pictures, and share their location with your friends and family.

Special thanks to TCD for the photographs.

Please note, since writing this blog we have learned that the Dragon Calliope is no longer on display at Fort Wilderness.

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":


October 7, 2013

Jim's Attic: Century 3

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.

Horizons%2003.jpg
I miss the "Horizons" attraction at Epcot.

I miss visiting Sea Castle Resort, Mesa Verde and Brava Centauri and was always impressed with the OmniScreen images, especially the rocket launch.

If Westcot in Anaheim would have been built in the 1990s, it was planned to include a version of the Horizons attraction because guests genuinely enjoyed the attraction in Florida.

On January 9, 1999, Horizons closed permanently. However the creation of the attraction started when the idea for a "space pavilion" was pitched to be part of Epcot Center as early as 1979.

This attraction in FutureWorld was originally going to be called "Century 3" (sometimes spelled "Century III" on some documents). Just a few years after the United States Bicentennial in 1976, people were looking forward to the third century so that was the inspiration for the title of the attraction.

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However, concerns were brought up that foreign guests wouldn't "get" the implication so a more universal name needed to be used.

The attraction was temporarily named "Futureprobe" which Disney quickly discovered called to mind some type of unpleasant medical procedure or instrument.

The name "Horizons" was chosen after many discussions with sponsor General Electric and Disney for the implication of always striving to reach the horizon and when you finally get there, there is another horizon in the distance, and another. The point of the pavilion was to show an achievable future based on existing technology.

Horizons opened exactly one year after Epcot Center opened. Amusingly, the phrase in the attraction "If we can dream it, we can do it" that is often falsely credited to Walt Disney was in reality the creation of Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald who modeled for the audio-animatronics young man character with the solo sub personal submarine.

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Recently, I ran across an interview that Imagineer Claude Coats gave to "Orlando-Land" magazine in 1981 where he explains what the "Century 3" attraction would have been like and here are some excerpts from that interview. Coats is one of those "forgotten" Imagineers who was deeply involved in the design of the original Fantasyland at Disneyland and was a mentor to young Tony Baxter.

"We're going to use a ride device with cars that hang from an overhead rail. It will move 1.8 feet per second. We'll make guests feel they're celebrating the nation's tri-centennial, looking back over the last 100 years.

"You will make a two-minute ascent to Future House through thoughts about the future from the past. Then you'll enter a theater for a probe of the future. The screen is more than eight stories high-the biggest screen ever.

"It will curve over above the audience to give a planetarium effect. The audience will get views of outer space and inside the molecule. We're taking people to places they've never seen before. Like inside an electron microscope. Into living cells. Out to the rings of Saturn. Along the DNA life chain. There'll be many blowups of microscopic stuff.

"It's a celebration of the good times ahead of us. We'll show future urban development. A family celebrating their 100th wedding anniversary, which will be a common thing. We'll show a complete new lifestyle. And robot mining. An undersea habitat. Underground homes. Desert farming. Hobbies, cooking, music as they will be in the future.

"We'll end up going into a space habitat. We'll show work and health activity in space. Manufacturing. Mining of minerals from planets or asteroids.

"At the end of the experience, we'll tie the whole thing into the family unit."

Guests would have then left the show and still in their ride vehicles be taken into a polling area where lights would light up on the dashboard of their vehicle where they could push buttons to indicate their feelings about what they just saw. The results would be instantly tabulated so guests could compare their reactions against those of others who experienced the attraction.

This is the attraction that we might have gotten that evolved into the Horizons attractions some of us miss today.

Here's a brief glimpse at Horizons before it closed:

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":


September 23, 2013

Jim’s Attic: Where in the World is Mr. Limpet?

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.

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Instead of pondering where in Walt Disney World is Mr. Limpet, some readers may simply be asking "Who is Mr. Limpet"?

"The Incredible Mr. Limpet" was a film released by Warner Brothers in 1964. It was a combination of live-action and animation. The film was the last animation work done by the Warner Brothers studio, famed for Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig, before officially shutting down all production and outsourcing future animation to other companies run by former employees like Friz Freleng and Chuck Jones.

Actor Don Knotts plays a mild-mannered fellow named Henry Limpet who in 1941 is classified as 4F and cannot join the Navy to serve his country as World War II rages. Deeply depressed, Limpet, on a trip to Coney Island, falls into the water and magically (through the miracle of hand drawn, cel-painted animation) transforms into a blue-colored tilefish, still sporting his distinctively round lense glasses.

He is now able to help the U.S. Navy hunt down and destroy Nazi U-boats to help win the war.

One of the premieres of the film was shown in a huge underwater theater at Weeki Wachee Springs, Florida (roughly an hour drive north of Tampa) where the famous human mermaids had entertained countless guests since 1947. The film was projected on an underwater screen for 250 guests who sat 20 feet below the surface of the water.

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What does all this have to do with Disney other than the fact that Don Knotts performed in a handful of later Disney films including "The Apple Dumpling Gang" (1975)?

Well, the character designer and animation director (who was later replaced by Robert McKimson because of health issues) was the legendary Vladimir "Bill" Tytla renowned for his memorable animation on Chernaborg the demon in "Fantasia", Stromboli the evil puppeteer in "Pinocchio" and little baby Dumbo taking a bath in "Dumbo".

Other folks who worked on the film, like Producer John Rose, also worked at Disney earlier in their careers.

Disney animators so admired Tytla's work that as an homage they included Mr. Limpet in the final frozen pose at the end of the song "Under the Sea" in the animated feature "The Little Mermaid". Look carefully in the upper right hand corner and there is a blue tilefish wearing Limpet's glasses and the unmistakable Don Knotts lips.

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So when it came time to build "The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure" attraction at Disney California Adventure, Imagineers also included an homage to Mr. Limpet who most people had never discovered in the original film.

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Just beyond Ariel in the "Under the Sea" scene directly behind and to the right, hidden behind a clam shell and in the seaweed and not lit, Mr. Limpet peers at Flounder dancing with the Carmen Miranda fish across the track.

Animators and Imagineers often put in little "jokes" and "homages" for their own amusement and in the old days, they were completely undiscovered by Disney fans. However, with today's technology, nothing seems to escape the notice of Disney detectives so as early as the soft openings of the attraction, photos and directions on how to find Mr. Limpet were posted prominently on the internet.

When it came time to re-create the attraction in the New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, the Imagineers in good conscience could no longer include the figure that was the intellectual property of another studio and so Florida, that hosted the underwater premiere of the original film nearly fifty years ago, is Limpet-less. Or is it? Unlike Mr. Limpet, my lips are sealed.

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":

September 9, 2013

Jim’s Attic: Gertie the Dinosaur

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.

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Jim's Attic: Gertie the Dinosaur

My favorite Walt Disney World theme park is Disney Hollywood Studios, especially in its early years when it was truly devoted to the Hollywood That Never Was.

One of my favorite icons still exists today, the dinosaur shaped ice cream stand in the Echo Lake area.

"Dinosaur Gertie's Ice Cream of Extinction" was built as a tribute to Gertie the Dinosaur, one of the very first animated cartoon stars.

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Gertie first amazed vaudeville audiences in 1914 when she was projected life-size onto a movie screen and shared the stage with her creator, Winsor McCay, a popular newspaper cartoonist who was responsible for the legendary "Little Nemo" Sunday comic strip.

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He had to draw more than 10,000 drawings to make approximately five minutes of animation. There were no schools or books that taught animation so he had to invent a method to do animation.

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He drew each drawing on a 6-inch by 8-inch sheet of translucent rice paper. The paper had to be thin enough for him to see the drawing underneath to trace because he not only had to draw 10,000 drawings of the dinosaur, he had to draw 10,000 drawings of the background that were traced over and over and over. At that time, cels did not exist.

McCay decided to use this innovative animated short film as part of his vaudeville act. McCay would come on stage dressed in a tuxedo with a huge bullwhip like an animal trainer and tell Gertie to lift her leg and on a big movie screen to the side of him, Gertie would lift her leg.

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He would pull out a big pumpkin and pretend to toss it to her and on screen she grabbed an animated pumpkin and ate it as the thrown pumpkin disappeared behind the screen.

At the end of the act, McCay would walk up to the screen and an animated McCay would get on Gertie's head and they would leave the scene. The real McCay had already walked behind the screen while people watched Gertie.

As the nearby plaque states: "The themed style of the building is known as 'California Crazy' architecture. It became popular in the 1930s and was designed to attract the attention of potential customers in a big way.

Back in the 1930s and 1940s, the time frame for the park originally, people believed it was the Ice Age that killed off the dinosaurs. That's why it is the ice cream of "extinction" rather than "distinction" that is being sold at this location.

If you watch closely, Gertie is so cold that steam occasionally comes out of her nostrils. The top part of her is covered with snow.

In her original concept sketch and when she first appeared in the park, the green words "Ice Cream" covered with snow curved over the top of her back but over the years, that lettering was removed.

Gertie is in a lake because in her animated cartoon, she is by a large lake throughout the whole film. At one point, she tosses a mammoth into the lake. In another sequence, she almost falls in after she drinks the entire lake dry.

In her film, she is white but she is colored green at the park because the first movie posters of her were colored green because at the time people thought that dinosaurs were green or brown like lizards.

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Gertie is located at DHS because she is considered the first example of what is known as "personality" or "character" animation where even though she is just a creation of pen and ink, she seems to have a distinct personality with a wide range of emotions from being shy to being stubborn and as a result seems almost real.

In fact, follow the pathway to a set of steps behind her, and you will see on the walkway where Gertie's feet have cracked the cement as she walked into the lake and left an imprint.

Is it possible she slowly walked to this position and was not placed there by Disney Imagineers? That Gertie is a girl of many secrets.

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":

August 26, 2013

Jim’s Attic: The Cameraman Statue

Jim's Attic: The Cameraman Statue
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.

Oddly, the dedication plaque for Disney Hollywood Studios is not near the front of the park but at the end of Hollywood Boulevard just over to the left in a fenced-in grassy circle.

Before the Name Change:
Disney's Hollywood Studios

After the Name Change:
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Directly to the right of the plaque is the Cameraman statue. This statue was originally scrupled by father and son, Aldo and Andrea Favilli, in 1991.

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Andrea Favilli received his formal education at Art Center College of Design where he graduated with honors in 1986. He has stated that he felt his art education truly began when he was a child growing up in Rome as he began drawing, painting, and sculpting under the tutelage of his father Aldo Favilli, who was working as a motion picture art director at Cinecittà Studios.

Upon his graduation from school, Andrea worked as a product designer for a variety of different clients including Mattel, Dakin and Applause. In particular, it was his creative involvement with the characters of the Dancing Raisins and Dominoe Pizza's The Noid that caught the attention of the Disney Company.

He joined Walt Disney Imagineering in 1987 as a lead concept designer working on a range of projects worldwide including ones for Disneyland, The Magic Kingdom, EPCOT Center, Typhoon Lagoon, Disney/MGM Studios, Pleasure Island, Disney Animal Kingdom Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris.

In 1992, Andrea opened Favilli Studio and of course, the Disney Company was one of his clients, as was Roy E. Disney and Shamrock Holdings.

In fact, the DHS Cameraman statue is based on the original statue that Andrea made with his father Aldo that is located at 4411 West Olive Avenue across from Gate 2 of the Warner Brothers Studio in Burbank, California.

It was commissioned by Roy E. Disney and Shamrock Holdings, and was placed there in 1991 to celebrate the art of film making in the heart of the film making capital of the world. The plaque reads "He envisioned dreams that others might share".

The man in the statue is a generic 1920s/1930s film maker, not based on anyone in particular, especially not a young Walt Disney as some have claimed. It reflects the transition period when silents disappeared and talkies took over.

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Andrea was also responsible for sculpting the Disney Legends Award, the American Teacher Award and the Frank G. Wells Award for the Disney Company as well as the Transpacific Yacht Race New Course Record trophy for Roy E. Disney.

A replica of the Burbank statue was later placed in Disney Hollywood Studios in 1995 with a plaque that states "Movies are a medium of expression like a symphony orchestra.. or a painter's brush or canvas -Walt Disney".

The placement of the statue at DHS is not just to honor film making but is placed to suggest that the guests are being filmed as they enter the park and are part of the motion picture they are about to experience.

At the feet of the camerman are a director's megaphone and an open script that includes the names of people who inspired Andrea including Herbert Dickens Ryman and Lucille Ryman Carroll (Andrea is a retired board member of the Ryman-Carroll Foundation), Roy E. Disney and Patricia Disney, Marty Sklar and Andrea's father, Aldo.

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So, be ready for your close-up because the cameraman is getting ready to help transport you to the Hollywood that never was but always will be.

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":

August 12, 2013

Jim’s Attic: The Only Magic Kingdom Comic Book

Jim's Attic: The Only Magic Kingdom Comic Book
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.
I was an avid comic book collector. I still have boxes and boxes filled with Disney comic books that I enjoy reading on rainy days.

Western Printing and Lithographing was the parent company of Whitman Publishing and Simon & Schuster, Inc. and had the exclusive book rights to all the Walt Disney characters beginning in 1933. Over the decades they used these characters in coloring books, sticker books, storybooks, Little Golden Books, games, puzzles and more including comic books released through Dell Publishing from 1940 to 1962 when Western took over producing their own comic book line and called it "Gold Key".

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Western Publishing invested $200,000 to the building of Disneyland for a total ownership of 13.8% in the new theme park. Western produced the guide maps, brochures, menus, premiums and more for Disneyland. They even had their own shop (the Arcade Bookstore) inside the Crystal Arcade behind the Upjohn Pharmacy that was stocked with Disney related books including comics on Disneyland's opening day.

Between 1955 and 1960, Dell produced ten special Disneyland Giant comic books containing nearly a thousand pages of new, original content of Mickey Mouse and the gang visiting the Happiest Place on Earth.

However, just like re-purchasing ABC's investment, the Disney Company bought back Western's investment at a premium price by 1960 as well.

Western continued to produce the regular profitable Disney comic books but there seemed to be no urgency to create any more comic book stories about Disneyland to help support Western's investment in the park.

In the late Sixties, comic books (because of their small profit to retailers compared with magazines) were having difficulties finding distribution outlets. Gold Key tried several different formats including oversized comics, three comics bundled in a plastic bag, squarebound paperback comic book collections, and the digest format.

The digest format had proven a gold mine for Archie Publications since the smaller size could be displayed near the checkout cash register at supermarkets like issues of TV Guide for an impulse purchase and primarily, the contents relied on reprinted material saving on production costs.

Walt Disney Comics Digest was published for 57 issues from 1968 to 1976. The contents consisted (with few exceptions) mainly of reprints from the various previously published licensed Disney comics. In the beginning, the issues were about 192 pages in length.

Walt Disney World fans should be on the lookout for issue number 32 dated December 1971 although it was available in October. It is the only comic book that has the Disney characters exploring the newly opened Magic Kingdom in Florida.

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For the reprinted stories (re-using a Fantasyland story from a previous comic for instance) a new opening splash page was drawn by well known Disney comics artist Tony Strobl (with the realistic backgrounds most likely done by artist Dan Spiegle who drew some of the more realistic live action Disney comic book adaptations).

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The book is filled with new and reprinted game pages and puzzles as well. There were two original stories. One featured Scrooge McDuck going back to the Main Street of his youth drawn by Disney comics artist Pete Alvarado. Alvarado also drew a nineteen page Frontierland story where Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck go to enjoy the Country Bear Jamboree except three of the bears (Ernest, Big Al and Teddi Barra) have disappeared and must be found for the show to go on. This is the only comic book appearance of these beloved audio-animatronics characters.

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So, for the WDW collector who thinks he has just about everything in his book collection, here is a little "hidden treasure" waiting to be re-discovered.


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":


July 29, 2013

Jim’s Attic: Bits of Disneyland

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.

Having grown up in the Southern California area and visiting Disneyland many, many times a year, it was quite a "Twilight Zone"-like experience to enter the Magic Kingdom for the first time. While there were areas that seemed similar to what was at Disneyland, the differences were more pronounced than the similarities.

Where was New Orleans Square and why was there no fort for me to enter Frontierland? Where was Pinocchio's Daring Adventure and America Sings?

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What was this Liberty Square place and who were those talking birds in the queue for the Enchanted Tiki Room?

Interestingly, some actual objects from Disneyland over the years did make the journey to its East Coast cousin.

In fact, some rather large objects made their way thanks to some problems with getting Disney Animal Kingdom ready to open in 1996.

As many Disney fans know, Disney Animal Kingdom was meant to include areas devoted to animals real, imaginary and extinct. Early guest surveys showed people so eager to see a dragon or a unicorn up close in the Beastly Kingdom, that the Disney Company was greatly encouraged that building the park was a great idea.

However, as the "real" section went over budget since the care and feeding of animals had been under-estimated among other reasons, the Beastly Kingdom disappeared and the Imagineers at the direction of CEO Michael Eisner rushed to put in a temporary place-holder area, like Mickey's Birthdayland, called Camp Minnie-Mickey.

One of the fastest and least expensive things to add to an area is live entertainment and it is also the easiest to remove. Two temporary shows were created, "Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends" and "Festival of the Lion King", that were expected to last about a year or two until the Beastly Kingdom could be revived for the second phase of the park. Both shows opened April 1998.

However, there was a severely limited budget so it was necessary to purchase some already built items from Disneyland that were going into storage or about to be destroyed.

For the "Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends" show a large impressive Grandmother Willow figure from Disneyland's live action show, "The Spirit of Pocahontas" that closed in the Fall of 1997 was incorporated. While many fans think it was an expensive audio-animatronics prop, it was actually designed to be manipulated by a puppeteer just like the little Sprig character. The process was dubbed "Puppetronics".

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In "The Festival of the Lion King", the impressive floats that serve as intriguing set pieces are actually recycled from The Lion King Celebration parade that ran at Disneyland from 1994-1997. The parade featured six floats but only four were utilized for "The Festival of the Lion King".

However, the floats did undergo some slight modifications. For instance, the last float in the parade, Pride Rock, has Simba standing atop the rock while Nala is down below to his right at the foot of the float beating out a rhythm with her paws on the drums. Mufasa's face is represented on the spinning sun design up above.

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Both Nala and Mufasa were removed from the float before it was used in the stage show.

None of these items were free. The Disney Company has different business units and so these things had to be purchased so that a business unit could balance its books. Also shipping the items from the West Coast to the East Coast incurred expenses as well.

However, for Disneyland fans who long for a little reminder of that park, there are actual bits and pieces scattered throughout the WDW parks.

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":

July 15, 2013

Jim’s Attic: Where in the World is Abraham Lincoln?

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.
In 1909, there was a huge celebration for President Abraham Lincoln's one-hundredth birthday from parades to hundreds of bronze plaques with The Gettysburg Address installed in schools to much oratory in local auditoriums to a special edition of the newspaper The Chicago Tribune that weighed over three pounds. That year the Lincoln penny was issued for the first time.

Caught up in all the hoopla was a young Missouri boy who roughly a year later transferred to Benton Elementary School in Kansas City. In the fifth grade, he dressed up as the 16th president by borrowing his father's old frock coat, making a stovepipe hat out of cardboard and black shoe polish, wearing a crepe hair beard and not forgetting Lincoln's mole, astounded his classmates and the school principal with his dramatic recitation of The Gettysburg Address.

Principal Cottingham took young Walt Disney to every classroom to repeat his performance and every subsequent Lincoln's birthday in February until Walt's graduation.

Walt had planned for his boyhood hero to be a part of Disneyland.

Imagineer Wathel Rogers stated in 1963, "Lincoln is part of a Disneyland project called 'One Nation Under God'. (A curtain) will open to reveal the Hall of Presidents. The visitor will see all the Chief Executives modeled life-size. He'll think it's a waxworks-until Lincoln stands up and begins to talk."

However, technology and finances only permitted Lincoln to be built for the 1964-65 New York World's Fair and only after Walt appeared at a press conference in Springfield, Illinois on November 19, 1963 to assure the concerned citizens that he was not going to "cartoonize" Lincoln.

mr-lincoln-worlds-fair-ny-1.jpg

"Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln" was installed at Disneyland on July 18, 1965 and the expanded "Hall of Presidents" opened at the Magic Kingdom on October 1, 1971.

Eticket-73.jpg

Amazingly, many WDW guests show up at Epcot's American Adventure Pavilion assuming that the Lincoln audio-animatronics figure will be there. However, Imagineers figured he was already well represented at the Magic Kingdom.

However, from September of 2007 through early this year, the American Heritage Gallery in the lobby of the "American Adventure" featured a special National Treasures exhibit.

Jim Clark, one of the team members who designed the exhibit stated in 2007, "You'll see one of Abraham Lincoln's actual stovepipe hats, which has never been publicly exhibited outside of the Lincoln Family Home in Manchester, Vermont.

lincoln1.JPG

"We're also presenting many of Lincoln's personal items, like the book of Lord Byron poetry that inspired his second inaugural address, and his dressing room mirror-where he probably took his last glimpse of himself before he went off to Ford's Theater."


lincoln2.JPG

A new exhibit is now in the location: "Re-Discovering America: Family Treasures from the Kinsey Collection". Another reminder that things change constantly and suddenly at Disney theme parks so don't take things for granted.

At Disney Hollywood Studios, in the "One Man's Dream" attraction, you can find a brief mention on a placard about young Walt dressing up as Lincoln (but don't be fooled by the blown up photo on the wall - that's Walt and his best friend Walter Pfeiffer dressed up for one of their vaudeville comedy routines, not Walt as Lincoln).

Further into the exhibit is one of the audio-animatronics shells for the Lincoln figure. If the face looks amazing, it is because that sculptor Blaine Gibson used an 1860 life mask of Lincoln for reference but had to enlarge it slightly in order to accommodate the mechanics inside the skull.

lincoln3.jpg

So, the late U.S. President who inspired Walt Disney for his entire life pops up quite prominently at Walt Disney World.

RELATED LINKS
====================
Read about Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln at Disneyland

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":

July 1, 2013

Jim's Attic: The Park Princess Problem

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.

Disney Princesses

My nieces have grown too old for the Disney Princess merchandise and my nephew is still too young to appreciate the charms of a Disney Princess.

Their Uncle Jim, however, spends way too much time thinking about Disney Princesses, especially with the recent induction of Merida from Pixar's animated feature "Brave".

Merida's Royal Celebration

While there has been some controversy surrounding her joining the ranks of this prestigious and profitable group, what concerns me is "Who will dance with Merida?"

Unlike every other Disney Princess that takes to the stage at the Magic Kingdom or rides on a parade float, Merida has no romantic companion. In fact, one of the points of the film is that a princess (or any woman) doesn't need to be married to a prince (or a hero like Mulan's general) to live happily ever after. All of the suitors for the hand of Merida are shown to be ineptly unsuitable in the extreme despite the rules of tradition.

So while all the other princesses are paired up to dance on stage, who will dance with Merida? Her horse? Some nameless hunk in a kilt?

Merida and Angus

The Disney Princess brand was created in 2000 by then Chairman of Disney Consumer Products Andy Mooney. That first year the brand brought in three hundred million dollars in global retail sales but three years later, it was generating close to two billion dollars in yearly sales and that was ten years ago.

Interestingly, Disney Consumer Products has stated "The characters were not chosen specifically for their royal titles, but rather for how well they fit into what Disney executives deemed 'the Princess mythology'."

That may explain why Tinker Bell once had Disney Princess merchandise before becoming the cornerstone of the Disney Fairies brand meant to appeal to little girls who outgrew the princesses.

Merida and Angus

Pocahontas is not a princess, because her tribe never had that designation like some of the Western Plains tribes. At best, her status might be comparable to being the daughter of the President of the United States. (However, Princess Tiger Lily from "Peter Pan" is a true Indian princess but was never included with the other princesses ever.)

Pocahontas

Pocahontas doesn't marry a prince, either, but an Englishman named John Rolfe, both in real life and in the Disney animated sequel. However, on stage, she is paired romantically with John Smith (perhaps because not even the most devoted Disney fan would recognize John Rolfe or remember that in both real and animated life Smith abandoned Pocahontas).

When I asked why Giselle from the film "Enchanted" was not made a Disney Princess, a Disney marketing executive patiently explained that "since she didn't marry the prince in the end of the film, she did not become a princess". I guess it was because she was not considered of royal birth.

Belle is actually not officially a princess either but a "princess consort", a term that refers to when a commoner or someone of a lower status marries into royalty. (Remember it is Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip not King Phillip. He is a prince consort.)

Belle

I guess I just don't understand Disney Princesses but I better figure it out soon since the character of Anna in the new Disney animated feature "Frozen" due to be released in November is a royal princess.

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 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":


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":


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