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April 21, 2014

Disney Policies -- Then and Now

Jack Spence Masthead


At a recent awards ceremony, Meryl Streep accused Walt Disney of being a sexist. To justify her claim she read from a 1938 rejection letter a female trainee program applicant received from him. It said, "Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that is performed entirely by young men."

Ms. Streep's comment that Walt was a sexist irritated me - a lot.

Come on Meryl. It was 1938. Women really didn't begin joining the workforce in any numbers until 1941 when World War II forced them out of the house. And when the war was over in 1945, most women returned home to take care of their families. You can't judge a man who lived in the first half of the 20th century by 21st century standards. That's just not reasonable.

For the most part, the women who did work in the early and mid-20th century held repetitive and non-decision-making jobs. They were telephone operators, secretaries, and sales clerks. Some even worked in the Ink & Paint Department of the Disney Studios - where Walt met Lillian.

Walt was a flawed man, just like the rest of us. He was a man of his generation and shared many of the same attitudes as his contemporaries. But Walt was always open to new ideas. If he hadn't been, he wouldn't have continually pushed himself and his team to think outside the box. And Walt grew and changed with the times. The Walt that sent that rejection letter in 1938 was not the same Walt that later included several women in his inner circle of Imagineers. These included Disney Legends Alice Davis, Harriet Burns, and Mary Blair. Were these women in the minority in a field dominated by men? Of course they were. But they were there nonetheless.

Television is often a good barometer of the country's current morals and principles. Walt Disney died in December 1966 so I thought I might look at a few of the sitcoms that were popular during the 1950's and 1960's to see how women were portrayed back then.

The Honeymooners (1955 - 1956) -- Alice Kramden was a housewife.

I Love Lucy (1951 - 1957) - Ricky wanted Lucy to stay home and take care of the house. And when Lucy and Ethel got jobs in the episode titled "Job Switching," they were failures and agreed that men were better suited for the workplace.

Father Knows Best (1954 - 1960) -- Margaret Anderson stayed home to take care of Betty, Bud, and Kathy.

Leave it to Beaver (1957 - 1963) - June stayed home (and wore pearls) to take care of Wally and the Beaver.

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (1952 - 1966) - Harriet stayed home to take care of David and Ricky. (Ozzie also stayed home as he never had any recognizable job.)

The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961 - 1966) - Laura stayed home to take care of Richie. However, we did see Sally Rogers working with Rob and Buddy. But she was still assigned many of the traditional female duties within the writing team.

It wasn't until 1970 when the Mary Tyler Moore Show premiered that things began to change for women on TV. Mary was the first never-married, independent career woman as the central character. This was three years after Walt's death.

Walt wasn't a sexist. Walt was a product of his time.

Now that I have that off my chest, I thought I would look back at some of the out-of-date policies that were in place at Disneyland in the early years. Once again, by today's standards, some of them are horrifying. But Disney was a conservative company and tried to give the public what they thought the public wanted - just like most all businesses do. But in showing the negative, I also want to show the positive. I want to show you how working at the Disney parks has changed over the years. Today, Disney is often singled out as one of the top companies in the country to work for.

Disclaimer"¦ Some of what I present here is from my own, personal observations from my employment at Disneyland from 1971 to 1980. But much of what I offer here is public record.


SHOW


Show is everything in a Disney park. For example, it bothered Walt greatly that the cast members' locker room at Disneyland was located behind Tomorrowland. This forced cowboys and jungle explorers to walk through the Land of the Future in order to get to their jobs. This was an incongruity and created bad show.

What follows are some of the policies that were once in place to ensure that a guest never had to experience "bad show" during their visit.

Then

Cast member grooming policies were extremely strict. A male cast member's hair could not extend over his shirt collar in the back or be long enough to get in his eyes in the front. Hair could not touch the ears and sideburns could only extend to the middle of the ear. Facial hair was strictly forbidden. Guys could not dye their hair in any manner.

Female workers could not add highlights or streak their hair. Clear nail polish was the only color allowed. Earrings could be no more than a quarter of an inch in diameter.

Cast members could only wear one ring - and it had to be on the ring or little finger. You certainly couldn't wear it on the thumb.

Sometime around 1976, the policy on sideburns was changed. Guys were now allowed to grow them to the bottom of the ear, but no flairs or mutton-chops. Interestingly, this policy was not changed at WDW until sometime later.

Over the years, a number of cast members took Disney to court over this grooming policy, but they always lost. Disney was able to produce thousands of letters from guests stating that they loved how neat and clean all of the cast members looked. You must remember, long hair and bushy facial hair was all the rage in the 70's with the hippie movement. Guests (and juries) found the "Disney look" refreshing.

Now

Disney still maintains a grooming policy, but things have loosened up tremendously over the years. One of the biggest changes we have seen recently revolves around facial hair. First Disney started allowing mustaches and more recently, beards.

Although Florida cast members working in food service may not wear rings for hygienic reasons, others are now allowed to wear a ring on each hand and on any finger.

Women can wear hooped earrings.

Then

If a woman got pregnant while working at Disneyland, she was allowed to work only as long as she could fit into a standard costume. Once she started showing, she had to take an unpaid leave of absence.

Now

Today, pregnant cast members may work as long as they are able and desire. Special costumes have been designed to promote this practice.

Then

Cast members with any visible impairment could not have an onstage job. For example, you would never see a wheelchair-bound cast member onstage in the 1970's. If you broke an arm and required a cast, or had an eye infection and required a patch, you would not be allowed to work onstage. If management could find you a backstage job while you mended, you might be placed in some other position, but even this was definitely the exception, not the rule.

Now

Disney is a leader at hiring those with special needs - and often placing them in guest-facing positions. It is not uncommon at all to see a cast member in a wheelchair taking tickets, directing crowds, or in any number of roles.

Then

One of my hostess friends at the Blue Bayou Restaurant had a slight deformity on her right hand. Several of her fingers were fused together, however it was hardly noticeable. After working a summer as a hostess, it was her turn to be advanced to the position of waitress, a much better paying job. However, she was denied the promotion. She was told that her deformed hand would offend guests as she served them their food. It didn't matter that she had been handing menus to guests for a year, serving food was considered a different matter. She ultimately threatened to take Disney to court. Disney eventually backed down and promoted her.

Now

This would never happen at a Disney park today. All positions are open to everyone. The only requirement is that an individual must be capable of doing the job.

Then

Although Disney would never admit to this (and it would be impossible to prove), those with good looks and good builds were hired into public-facing jobs - especially into Attractions (ride operators). Those with plain looks were assigned roles backstage. Of course, there were always exceptions to this unofficial policy, but it didn't take a genius to see it was true. All you had to do is look around. This was done in the name of "show."

Now

Once again, this type of policy would never fly at a Disney park today.


SAFETY


Disney has always been proactive when it comes to safety. But as times change, so do policies.

Then

I almost put this next entry under "Show" but decided it belonged under safety.

For a long time, cast members were forbidden to eat or drink while onstage. This was considered bad show. Even on the hottest days, cast members working out on the asphalt parking lot directing cars had to wait for their break to get a drink of water.

Now

Today, cast members are still forbidden to eat while onstage. However, many positions now allow cast members to carry a company approved water bottle on their belt so they may remain hydrated while working.

Then

Take a look at this old parking lot tram. These were still in use when I started working at Disneyland in 1971. It's amazing that people weren't falling out of these trams left and right.


Parking Log Tram


Now

The basic tram design we see today came about sometime during my tenure at Disneyland. But recently, Disney management went a step further and added doors.


Parking Lot Tram


SPECIAL NEEDS


Then

In the "old days" Disney parks made very few, if any, attempts at accommodating wheelchairs. Nobody did back then.

For example, in the Blue Bayou Restaurant, guests in wheelchairs had to be pulled up three stairs by their companions to gain access to the dining room.

Even today, we see signs of this lack of consideration. Take a look at the Liberty Tree Tavern in the Magic Kingdom. This restaurant was designed in the late sixties and opened in 1971 when mores were different. The restaurant portion of this eatery is located up two steps from the lobby. Even today, guests in wheelchairs must be brought into the restaurant through a side door or pulled up the steps.

Over at Columbia Harbour House, guests in wheelchairs wishing to eat upstairs are taken into the kitchen to use the restaurant's only elevator.

Now

Today, Disney is a leader when it comes to ADA requirements. All new construction addresses the necessities of those with special needs and older structures are retrofitted whenever possible. Even rides that were strictly off limits to those with mobility issues have been modified to allow them to ride.

Then

When Disney World opened, there were only two hotels, the Contemporary and Polynesian. However, there was no elevator to the monorail platform at the Contemporary. Disney management of the day didn't see a need. If someone used a wheelchair, they could stay at the Polynesian. Problem solved.

Now

Disney added an elevator to the Contemporary monorail platform. Now, wheelchair-bound guests have the same choice when it comes to accommodations as everyone else.


DISCRIMINATION


Then

When I started working at Disneyland in 1971, the park was run by men. Not as an official policy, but rather women hadn't yet begun to move into supervisory positions with any great numbers. Of the several hundred supervisors and managers attending to the day-to-day operation of Disneyland, only a handful were women - and most in entry level management positions.

In the earliest years of the park, African Americans could only work in backstage jobs or as a performer. It wasn't until 1968 that blacks were allowed into guest-facing jobs.

Now

Women and minorities are seen at all levels in the Disney Corporation. Here are three examples out of many:

Meg Crofton is President of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Operations U.S. and France.


Meg Crofton


Aylwin B. Lewis is one of the members of the Disney Board of Directors.


Aylwin B. Lewis


George A. Kalogridis, an openly gay man, is President over the Walt Disney World Resort.


George A. Kalogridis,


Then

In the 1970's, Disneyland had two ethnic restaurants, the Tahitian Terrace (full service) and Casa de Fritos (counter service). Almost all of the cast members working at the Tahitian Terrace were of Polynesian decent and almost all of the cast members working at Casa de Fritos were of Latin American decent. This hiring practice was defended in the name of theming. Disney management backed this policy by saying they were casting a role in a show. It would not be realistic to have a Mexican serving Polynesian food or a Hawaiian serving tacos.

Now

Once again, all roles at Disney Parks are open to all cast members. The exception is Epcot's World Showcase. As these pavilions were set up to be cultural exchange areas, the majority of the cast members working here are either from the country represented or have spent a significant amount of time in that country and are extremely knowledgeable of that nation.

You might be asking yourself, "So what's the difference between World Showcase and the Tahitian Terrace and Casa de Fritos?"

The cast members working at the Tahitian Terrace and Casa de Fritos only looked Polynesian or Latin American. In most cases, they had well established American roots and knew little about the foreign lands they were supposedly representing.

Then

In the 1970's, only women could wait on tables in the full-service restaurants (the Blue Bayou, Tahitian Terrace, and Club 33). Men were not allowed to fill this role. It took a Club 33 busboy to change this policy. He took Disneyland to court on a discrimination charge and won the right to become a server. Still, it was several more years before Disney opened up this position to males in the Blue Bayou and Tahitian Terrace.

Now

As I keep saying, today, all roles are open to all cast members.

Then

Another area of sex discrimination took place on the Jungle Cruise and the Storybook Land Canal Boats attractions. It was reasoned that only a man could skipper a boat up the Congo and only a woman ("girl" in those days) could tell guests all about the fairytale homes found in Fantasyland.

In addition, the Tour Guide position was exclusively female.

Now

I really don't know exactly when these practices were abolished, but eventually both of these attractions and the Tour Guide position were opened to both sexes.

Then

In the early 60's, demands on Walt's time were ever increasing and he needed someone "official" to represent him when he was unavailable. Thus, the Disneyland Ambassador Program began in 1965. The chosen ambassador would host dignitaries and oversee the opening of new attractions in Walt's absence - along with a hundred other duties.

A new ambassador was selected each year. Only unmarried females were eligible for the position and she had to sign a contract stating that she would not marry during her term. Applicants went through rigorous interviews and eventually the field was narrowed down to five contenders - usually all from the Tour Guide Department. These finalists would be listed in the company newspaper, The Disneyland Line. In the next week or so, the judges would make their final selection and a winner was announced.

While I was working at Disneyland, male cast members began grumbling about this female-only position. Eventually, Disneyland opened up the ambassador position to both sexes. For a number of years afterwards, a male would make it into the final five, but somehow was never selected. It wasn't until 1995, when three ambassadors were selected to represent Disneyland instead of just one that a male was finally chosen along with two females.

Now

Sexism is no longer a problem. In fact, in 2007, two men were selected as ambassadors of the WDW Resort (Lowell A. Doringo and Michael Kelley). Women were left completely out in the cold that year. In addition, ambassadors can now be married.

Then

Disney also discriminated when it came to a person's size. Although I don't have the actual statistics, people who were too tall, too short, or too big could not be hired into the day-to-day jobs at Disneyland as there were no costumes available for them.

My high school girlfriend and I applied for a job at Disneyland at the same time. I was hired (at 5'10"), but she was told she was too short (at 5'3") as Disney didn't make a costume in her size.

Now

You guessed it; a person's size isn't a problem anymore.

By the way, twenty years later, my then girlfriend reapplied and received a nice part-time job in merchandising at Disneyland.

Then

Although I wouldn't exactly call this next entry discrimination, it certainly falls into the sexist category.

When the Club 33 opened, the vast majority of the members were local businessmen. In the early years, the restaurant was frequented primarily by these gentlemen, their guests, and the male executives of the Disney Company. To appeal to the male libido, the waitress costume was that of a stereotypical French maid. Although not racy by today's standards, it was somewhat risquΓ© in the 1970's - especially for Disneyland.

This costume's design also dictated that a rubenesque woman could not be a server at the Club 33. Not to mention, the older a woman grew, the more inappropriate the costume became.

When men began waiting tables at the Club 33, they were costumed in a tuxedo-type outfit. Still, the women remained in this sexist getup.


Club 33 French Maid Costume


Now

Although I don't have a picture, the women servers at the Club 33 today are dressed in a far more dignified costume.


FOOD SERVICE


Since I worked in Food Service at Disneyland, these are the stories I can tell. I'm sure those working Attractions and Merchandising would have their own tales as well.

Then

Disneyland had only one executive chef who oversaw all of the park's restaurants and was responsible for most of the menus.

New Orleans Square sits atop a giant basement. Within this basement is a large kitchen designed to serve five satellite kitchens and restaurants (Blue Bayou, French Market, CrΓ©ole CafΓ©, Club 33, and an employee's cafeteria). Knowing that this new complex would be serving thousands of meals each day, Disney hired retired army cooks to man the "Main Kitchen." Management figured "who better" than a military man to feed the masses.

These army guys were great, hard-working souls that did a fantastic job, but none of them had any real, formal culinary training. They had all learned their craft from other army personnel while in the service. Most of these guys worked the day shift and would leave the premises in the late afternoon. In the evening, college kids took over.

In the early years, the New Orleans Square restaurants offered decent, somewhat authentic Southern food. Far above anything that had ever been seen in a theme park before. However, by the mid 1970's, the menus had changed significantly. Due to a lack of truly professional chefs and budget cuts, many of the once cooked-on-premises items had been replaced with off-the-shelf entrees that only required thawing and heating. By the time I transferred to the Club 33 in 1977, the Blue Bayou, the flagship restaurant of Disneyland, was serving instant mashed potatoes. The restaurant was no better than a coffee shop in the quality of food that it offered.

Now

Today, all Disney restaurants have professionally trained chefs on hand or nearby. And although the topic of food is somewhat subjective, I can assure you, what is offered today at Disney's full-service restaurants is a far cry from what it was in the late 1970's.

Then

If you had a food allergy in the mid 70's, you were pretty much out of luck. No chef was available to personally speak with you and cook you a special meal. There certainly were no recipes on hand for us to check ingredients. A vegetarian plate at the Blue Bayou consisted of a scoop of corn, green beans, rice, instant mashed potatoes, and a lettuce leaf with a scoop of cottage cheese. Hardly a healthy offering.

Now

If you have a food allergy, the restaurant's chef will personally come to your table to discuss your needs. Even counter-service restaurants will work with you to see that your requirements are met. Just ask.

In addition, all restaurants offer healthy options.


CONCLUSION


I would like to say, that in spite of some of the practices that were in place while I worked at Disneyland, overall I had a wonderful experience working there. I wouldn't trade my time at the Blue Bayou and Club 33 for anything.

Once again, please remember, these eyebrow-raising policies and incidents were a reflection of the times and Disney's attempt to theme things accordingly. I think you can see from my examples, things have changed for the better.

Is the Disney Company perfect today? Nope. And neither is any other company. They are all run by imperfect humans. Does Disney still have out-of-date practices? Probably. I'm sure some cast members have their complaints. But in numerous surveys and studies, Disney is constantly ranked among the top U.S. employers.

So Meryl, you can call Walt a sexist if you want. But then you would also have to call "The Happiest Place on Earth" a den of inequity. Personally, I don't buy it.



January 20, 2014

Disney References in Non-Disney Theater, Music, Movies and TV Shows

Jack Spence Masthead


The other day, I was watching an episode of "I Love Lucy" ("The Black Wig" - April 18, 1954). The story opens with Lucy, Ricky, Fred, and Ethel returning to the Ricardo's apartment after seeing an Italian movie. Lucy and Ethel were captivated by the film while Ricky and Fred were bewildered by its content. Part of their discussion contains the following lines:

Fred: But I couldn't understand what the picture was all about.
Ethel: If it isn't Donald Duck, it's over his head!


I Love Lucy


Being a Disney fanatic, I immediately picked up on the Donald Duck reference. This fascinated me since Desilu Productions had nothing whatsoever to do with Walt and his studio. Yet, a rival studio made a Disney reference. This got me to thinking just how prevalent Disney culture is in our everyday language and in our media.

We think nothing of Zazu singing "It's a Small World" to Scar in "The Lion King." After all, this is a Disney reference inside a Disney movie. But non-Disney movies and television shows also use Disney references - and do it quite frequently if you pay attention. What follows are just a few of the hundreds (maybe thousands) of Disney references that can be found in the non-Disney media.

I Love Lucy: Sales Resistance - January 26, 1953

This episode opens with Ricky singing "There's a Brand New Baby in Our House" to Fred and Ethel. In the lyrics you here the following rhyme:

"He's the image of my spouse.
He's the tricky Mickey Mouse."


Ricky, Fred, and Ethel


The Manchurian Candidate - October 24, 1962

In a nighttime scene, a longshot captures a taxi racing down a street. The vehicle passes a movie theater. The marquee displays Pinocchio.

The Manchurian Candidate takes place shortly after the end of the Korean War (July 27, 1953). Pinocchio was originally released in 1940. However, this incongruity is easily explained. The Disney Company would rerelease their animated movies to new audiences every seven to eight years. One of Pinocchio's rerelease dates was on February 18, 1954. Although the dates don't exactly match, it's close. I have read that Pinocchio was referenced in this film as he was the little puppet boy that lied, as did the brainwashers manipulating the hero of the story.


<br />
The Manchurian Candidate


Leave It to Beaver: Voodoo Magic - January 3, 1958

Eddie, Wally, and the Beaver are planning a trip to the movies to see either "Massacre at Blood River" or "Voodoo Curse." June forbids Wally from taking Beaver to such a film and suggests Pinocchio, which is supposedly playing at another theater.

Once again, we see that Pinocchio has been rereleased. However, the timing is very inaccurate this time around. The first time Pinocchio was rereleased after its 1954 showing was on January 18, 1962, four years after it is referenced in this 1958 Leave It to Beaver episode. I guess that's why the guys disobeyed their mother and saw "Voodoo Curse." They couldn't have seen Pinocchio even if they had wanted to.


Leave It to Beaver


The Nanny: The In-law Who Came Forever - January 6, 1999

Fran's mother Sylvia explains to her daughter that her bald husband Morty, lost his toupee on Pirates of the Caribbean.


The Nanny


A Christmas Story - November 18, 1983

A Christmas Story has become an iconic holiday classic film, rivaling Miracle on 34th Street and It's a Wonderful Life in popularity. This enduring movie also has a Disney reference.

Before Ralphie can visit Santa Clause at Goldblatt's Department Store, his parents force him to watch the local Christmas parade. One of the parade entries features Mickey being accosted by a Flying Monkey from the Wizard of Oz. Although no specific year is ever given for the unfolding story, director Bob Clark and author Jean Shepherd strived to recreate a time period of the late 1930's to the early 1940's. In the movie, Mickey resembles the same modern characters we see in the theme parks today. But this shouldn't be. When Disneyland opened in 1955 (at least 15 years after the time represented in the movie), the characters were far less sophisticated - and a little creepy.


A Christmas Story

Mickey and Minnie


I suspect this factual error was intentional on the part of Disney. In order to use Mickey in A Christmas Story, MGM needed permission from Disney. I believe Disney did not want the movie-going public to see old, grotesque representations of their characters and opted for the more familiar personas we're familiar with today.

Green Lantern - June 17, 2011

Test pilot Hal Jorden is instructed to recite the Green Lantern oath to activate its powers. Not knowing the words to the oath, he makes up several of his own, including "To infinity and beyond."

What he should have said was:

In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil's might,
Beware my power, Green Lantern's light!!!


Green Lantern


Book of Mormon: Broadway musical opening on March 24, 2011

In the song "Two By Two," Elder Price explains that for his mission, he wants to be sent to his favorite spot, Orlando, home of Sea World, Disney, and putt-putt golf. Instead, he is sent to Uganda where a number of "Lion King" references are made.


Book of Mormon


Anything Goes: Broadway musical opening on January 24, 1934

During the first act, two characters (Billy and Reno) sing Cole Porter's famous tune, "You're the Top" in which they take turns complimenting one another. In the song, our friend Mickey is mentioned.

You're the top!
You're the Coliseum.
You're the top!
You're the Louver Museum.
You're a melody from a symphony by Strauss
You're a Bendel bonnet,
A Shakespeare's sonnet,
You're Mickey Mouse.


Anything Goes


Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - December 21, 1937

Disney's original animated movie has been spoofed, quoted, and referenced in literally hundreds of movies, television shows, and game shows. However, most of these references can be broken down into four general categories.


Snow White


Heigh-Ho

Everyone knows this song and its lyrics are often quoted or misquoted depending on the circumstances. Here are just a few examples:

M*A*S*H: Good-Bye Radar: Part 1 - October 8, 1979

Hawkeye sings part of the song "Heigh-Ho."

The Big Bang Theory: The Fish Guts Displacement - December 6, 2012

Howard says, "Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it's off to fish we go."

Murphy Brown: He-Ho, He-Ho, It's Off to Lamaze We Go - April 27, 1992

The episode's title is a parody of the song's lyrics.

The Magic Mirror

As vanity is often a topic in storytelling, the evil queen's magic mirror is frequently referenced.

Father Knows Best: Country Cousin - March 5, 1958

"Mirror on the wall" - A line spoken by Jim Anderson

Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Invitation to an Accident - June 21, 1959

During Hitchcock's opening monologue he speaks: "Mirror, mirror on the wall."

The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet: A Letter About Harriet - April 1, 1964

Neighbor Clara Randolph says: "Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who's the fairest one of all?" Her husband Joe responds: "Walt Disney."

Bewitched: Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall - November 7, 1968

The episode's title uses this famous line.

The Seven Dwarfs

Even ardent Disney fans have a difficult time remembering the names of all seven dwarfs. This theme can be seen again and again in television shows.

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman: Barbarians at the Planet - May 1, 1994

In a game with Clark, Lois is unable to remember the names of all seven dwarfs, forgetting Bashful.

Just Shoot Me!: Donnie Returns - November 2, 2000

Jack Gallo says to Dennis: "Who's the one I always forget?"
Dennis replies: "Sneezy."

Other times, the dwarfs are mentioned as a familiar reference and comic relief.

McHale's Navy: The Fountain of Youth - November 20, 1964

Referring to McHale's crew, Captain Binghamton says that he's Snow White and he's come to collect his seven dwarfs.

M*A*S*H: Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler - November 7, 1975

In his never-ending desire to leave military service Klinger says, "I'll be anyone to get out - Moses, Matthew, Doc, Grumpy, Sneezy."

Someday My Prince Will Come

Our eternal desire to find love causes many to recite the lyrics from one of Disney's most famous songs. Here are a few examples:

The Munsters: The Sleeping Cutie - December 10, 1964

In an episode revolving around a Snow White plotline, Marilyn accidently drinks a Sleeping Beauty potion. In another segment of the show, Lily laments: "Someday my prince may come."

All in the Family: Archie's Weighty Problem - February 9, 1976

In this episode, absent-minded Edith can be heard singing "Someday My Prince Will Come?"

Cheers: Someday My Prince Will Come - October 17, 1985

The episode title borrows this famous line as the story revolves around Dianne going out on a blind date and summing up her compatibility with her newfound suitor.

Disneyland / WDW

Trips to Disneyland and WDW are often mentioned on sitcoms and in some cases, entire episodes revolve around a trip to the Happiest and Most-Magical places on earth. Here is a partial list of TV shows that either mentioned going to a Disney theme park or actually went. It's interesting to note, those families that actually make the trip have adventures I've never experienced on any of my visits.

Frasier: Shutout in Seattle: Part 2 - May 10, 1999

In a fleeting romance with a waitress named Kit, Niles and she plan a vacation to Euro-Disneyland. Niles tells Frasier, "It's so lame it's hip." Niles and the waitress break up before making the trip.

Blossom: The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men - February 8, 1993

Nick Russo, Blossom's dad, gets a gig at Disneyland as an Elvis impersonator. He vainly tries to keep his friends and family from joining him at the park, but loses the battle.

Big Bang Theory: The Spaghetti Catalyst -- May 3, 2010

Penny and Sheldon return home after a trip (unseen by the audience) to Disneyland. Sheldon is wearing Mickey Mouse Ears and carrying Disney souvenirs. Leonard is upset because Penny allowed Sheldon to eat junk food. Penny informs Leonard that Sheldon threw up his churro on her shoes after riding Space Mountain. We also discover that Sheldon is afraid of Goofy.

Big Bang Theory: The Contractual Obligation Implementation - March 7, 2013

Penny, Amy, and Bernadette play hooky from work and go to Disneyland. After receiving Princess Makeovers, they return home. Leonard and Howard are turned on by their costumes. But much to Amy's chagrin, Sheldon is bored with the idea.


Big Bang Theory


Full House: The House Meets the Mouse May 11, 1993

It begins with Jesse's band being scheduled to perform at Disney World. From there the idea snowballs until the entire family takes a trip in this two-part episode.

Although the next three shows were/are not produced by Disney, they were/are broadcast on ABC after it was purchased by Disney (1995). Draw what conclusions you will.

Boy Meets World: The Happiest Show on Earth - May 10, 1996

Topanga, Corey's ex-girlfriend, wins a trip to Disney World, along with two other classmates.

Rosanne: We're Going to Disney World - February 20, 1996

The Conner family decides to throw caution to the wind by spending Dan's last paycheck from the garage on a vacation to Disney World. For your veterans of WDW, you'll be amused to know that the family leaves their hotel a mere 15 minutes before the Magic Kingdom opens yet are still able to be at the front of the line to get in. Wish I could do that.

Modern Family: Disneyland - May 9, 2012

Simply because they live in Southern California and Disneyland is nearby, all three families visit the park for the day and have a wealth of misadventures.


Modern Family


What I've mentioned above is just a small sampling of Disney references in non-Disney media. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of Walt's creations creeping into our lives when we least expect it. If you pay attention, you'll be surprised by what you see.



July 22, 2013

Nostalgia – Ticket Books and Transportation

Jack Spence is on a leave of absence until 2014. This is a reprint of a blog he wrote several years ago. This blog originally ran in 2009 and was accurate at the time of publication.

I've had a number of requests to post more pictures of the early years of Walt Disney World. So last night I dug through some of the Disneyana I've collected over the years. I'm hoping these scraps might help appease the voracious appetite you all have for things Disney.

As many of you know, I worked at Disneyland from 1971 to 1980. During this time, cast members were given lots of free tickets to Disneyland and Walt Disney World. This first ticket is one such item. In the early years, transportation from the TTC to the Magic Kingdom was not free. It required a separate ticket. If you notice, the price was $1.50. Also notice, "Motor Trams" were one of the options.


Transportation


Attached to this Transportation ticket was an admission ticket to the Magic Kingdom. It has no date printed on it, so I can't pinpoint a time, but the cost of entry was $2.25.


Transportation


I know your first thought is this is incredibly cheap. But you have to remember, all this ticket did was grant you admission into the park. If you wanted to ride on something, you needed an A thru E ticket. Unfortunately, I don't have any of these tickets for Disney World, but I do have a complementary ticket book that contained five multi-use tickets.


Ticket Book

Ticket Book.jpg


These tickets were not designated A thru E. Each ticket was good on ANY attraction in the Magic Kingdom. In other words, all of them were "E" tickets. Believe me, this was like gold back in the early years.


Ticket Book


On the inside, back cover of the ticket book was a list of all the rides and attractions of the day.


Ticket Book


This next bit of memorabilia centers around bus transportation. Dated 1989, this handout informed guests how to read the color coded pennants displayed on the front of each bus. Each destination had its own color or design. This was a complicated system that thankfully, didn't last too long.


Transportation

Transportation


In later years, Disney started handing out elaborate sheets with a grid. First you would determine your current location from the left side of the sheet. Then you would search for your ultimate destination across the top of the page. Where the two lines intersected gave you what modes of transportation were needed to get you there. Once again, this sheet does not have a date on it, but on the reverse side it notes the Coronado Springs as a future project, opening in 1997. So I'm guessing this was 1995 or 1996.


Transportation


Sorry, in order to fit this into the webpage, I had to shrink it beyond readability. The actual size was 15"x11". But I think you can get the idea of its use.

For a very comprehensive Step Back in Time regarding Walt Disney World tickets, see Jack Marshall's Ticket History pages on AllEars!


February 20, 2012

Disney Dedication Plaques

Today, I want to talk about an often overlooked detail that can be found in all eleven Disney parks, the Dedication Plaques. Usually located somewhere near the front of the park, these plaques offer words of inspiration and sets the tone for your adventure to come. They are all signed by the reigning top executive(s) at the time of the park's opening.

Most people never see these plaques, and in reality, that's okay. Your adventure really isn't going to be altered significantly if you skip this little detail. But on the other hand, it is a nice way to be welcomed to the park and start your day.

Disneyland opened to invited guests on July 17, 1955. Even though many predicted the park would fail, others knew this was an important event. An array of VIPs was invited. Movie stars, the Mouseketeers, California Governor Goodwin J. Knight, and even Walt's competition, Walter Knott (of Knott's Berry Farm) were in attendance. Sometime in the late afternoon, Ronald Reagan announced to the TV cameras in a hushed tone, "And now, Walt Disney will step forward to read the dedication of Disneyland." Then, the 53-year-old Walt stepped forward and read the following:

To all who come to this happy place:
- WELCOME -

Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past "¦ and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America"¦ with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.

July 17, 1955


Ronald Reagan

Walt Disney at Disneyland July 17, 1955

Walt Disney at Disneyland July 17, 1955


Today, this plaque can be found at the south end of Main Street at the base of the flag pole.


Disneyland Dedication Plaque

Disneyland Flagpole


The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World opened on October 1, 1971; however, the actual dedication took place several weeks after this date. Because of the fiascos encountered with Disneyland's opening, it was decided to postpone the "official" opening of Walt Disney World to make sure everything was running smoothly before inviting the world to see this new and magical land. The dedication was a three-day event beginning on Saturday, October 23, 1971 and culminating with Walt's brother Roy reading the dedication plaque on October 25th. The festivities were taped and broadcast "in living color" on NBC a few days later on October 29th. The 90-minute TV special was called "The Grand Opening of Walt Disney World." Roy died shortly after the opening of Walt Disney World on December 20, 1971. He was 78.

Here are Roy's words:

WALT DISNEY WORLD is a tribute to the philosophy and life of Walter Elias Disney... and to the talents, the dedication, and the loyalty of the entire Disney organization that made Walt Disney's dream come true. May Walt Disney World bring Joy and Inspiration and New Knowledge to all who come to this happy place ... a Magic Kingdom where the young at heart of all ages can laugh and play and learn - together.

Dedicated this 25th day of October, 1971

Roy O. Disney


Roy O. Disney and Mickey Mouse

Magic Kingdom Dedication Plaque


Like Disneyland, the Magic Kingdom dedication plaque can be found at the base of the flagpole on Main Street.

The next park to open was EPCOT Center on October 1, 1982. Similar to the Magic Kingdom, Disney management decided to postpone the "official" opening to provide the park with a break-in period. The three day Grand Opening Celebration ran from October 22nd to the 24th.


EPCOT Center Dedication Festivities


The Epcot dedication plaque is located outside of the park in front of the ticket booths -- once again, at the base of the flagpole. Card Walker, the CEO at the time, read the dedication plaque. The plaque reads:

To all who come to this Place of Joy, Hope and Friendship
WELCOME

Epcot is inspired by Walt Disney's creative vision. Here, human achievements are celebrated through imagination, wonders of enterprise and concepts of a future that promises new and exciting benefits for all.

May EPCOT Center entertain, inform and inspire and, above all, may it instill a new sense of belief and pride in man's ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere.

E. Cardon Walker
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Walt Disney Productions
October 24, 1982


Epcot Dedication Plaque

Epcot Dedication Plaque

Card Walker


Epcot took three years to build and at that time was the largest construction project on earth. It is estimated that the Disney Company had spent $1 billion on the park by opening day.

In the late 1970's, the Oriental Land Company approached Disney with the idea of building a Disneyland-type park in Tokyo. Since most of Disney's capital was already tied up with the building of Epcot, it was decided to let the Oriental Land Company finance and own the park and pay licensing fees to Disney. And since Imagineers were in short supply as they were busy with Epcot, the Oriental Land Company used Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom as a "shopping cart" and selected which attractions they wanted. For the most part, the rides selected would end up being carbon copies of the original. The only two unique attractions to be built at Tokyo were "The Castle Mystery Tour" and "Meet the World" - the latter already being planned for the Japan Pavilion at Epcot. The Oriental Land Company also insisted on bringing "The Mickey Mouse Review" to Tokyo. Stretched to its limit, Disney decided it would be easier to close the attraction in Florida and move it to Tokyo rather than build a second rendition.

Tokyo Disneyland opened on April 15, 1983. Card Walker also dedicated this park. The dedication plaques, written in both English and Japanese, can be found beneath the Partners statue located on The Hub. The plaques read:

To All Who Come To This Happy Place
- WELCOME -

Here you will discover enchanted lands of Fantasy and Adventure, Yesterday and Tomorrow. May Tokyo Disneyland be an eternal source of Joy, Laughter, Inspiration, and Imagination to the peoples of the world. And may this magical kingdom be an enduring symbol of the spirit of cooperation and friendship between the great nations of Japan and the United States of America.

April 15, 1983
E. Cardon Walker
Chairman of the Board
Walt Disney Productions


Tokyo Disneyland Dedication Plaques

Tokyo Disneyland Dedication Plaques & Partners Statue


When Michael Eisner was brought to Disney in 1984 by Roy E. Disney (son of Roy O. Disney) and the Bass Brothers, he was charged with developing the underutilized Florida property. When he saw the plans for "The Great Movie Ride" being considered as a future attraction for Epcot, he decided to build a third theme park around this ride. Thus, the idea for the Disney/MGM Studios was born. In addition to rides and attractions, the park would contain real film and TV production facilities were guests could witness the magic of movie-making. The Disney/MGM Studios opened on May 1, 1989 and was dedicated by Michael Eisner. The dedication plaque can be found at the end of Hollywood Boulevard. Here are Michael's words:

The World you have entered was created by The Walt Disney Company and is dedicated to Hollywood - not a place on a map, but a state of mind that exists wherever people dream and wonder and imagine, a place where illusion and reality are fused by technological magic. We welcome you to a Hollywood that never was - and always will be.

May 1, 1989 Michael Eisner


Disney/MGM Dedication Plaque

Director's Statue at Disney's Hollywood Studios


Seeing the unqualified success of Tokyo Disneyland, Eisner decided the Company could strike gold again in Europe -- only this time, Disney would own the foreign park. Disney pitted the countries of Spain and France against each other, seeing which would offer the more lucrative deal. In the end France won out.

No expense was spared and the most beautiful and elaborate Disneyland-type park of them all was built just outside of Paris. In addition, five themed hotels and a campground flanked the park. Euro Disneyland opened on April 12, 1992. However, due to a recession and other factors, attendance at the park and the hotels did not meet projected goals. At one time, the Paris resort was losing $1 million per day. The gold of Tokyo was not to be repeated in Paris.

Things have since turned around, but only after a major infusion of cash from outside sources. Today, the Disney Company owns 39% of what is now called The Disneyland Paris Resort.

Michael Eisner dedicated the park and the dedication plaque written in both French and English can be found at the base of the bandstand located on Town Square. Here are Michael's words:

"To all who come to this happy place, welcome."

Once upon a time... A master storyteller, Walt Disney, inspired by Europe's best loved tales, used his own special gifts to share them with the world.

He envisioned a Magic Kingdom where these stories would come to life, and called it Disneyland.

Now his dream returns to the lands that inspired it. Euro Disneyland is dedicated to the young and the young at heart... with a hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration for all the world.

Michael D. Eisner
Chairman, The Walt Disney Company
12 avril 1992


Disneyland Paris Dedication Plaque

Disneyland Paris Band Stand


When the Magic Kingdom was the only park at Walt Disney World, guests would stay on property for 2 to 3 days. When EPCOT Center opened, guests extended their visits to 4 to 5 days. And when the Disney/MGM Studios opened, guests were staying 6 to 7 days. So if followed that if Disney opened a fourth park in Florida, guests would stay for 8 to 9 days - and spend more money. With this logic in hand, Disney's Animal Kingdom joined the Walt Disney World roster of parks. Unfortunately, guests did not extend their vacations. It seems that one week is the limit for most people.

Disney's Animal Kingdom opened on Earth Day, April 22, 1998. Once again, Michael Eisner dedicated the park. The dedication plaque here is perhaps the most un-ceremonial of all. A simple stone is engraved and found in The Oasis beneath bushes just past the turnstiles. The plaque reads:

DISNEY'S ANIMAL KINGDOM

Welcome to a kingdom of animals... real, ancient and imagined: a kingdom ruled by lions, dinosaurs and dragons; a kingdom of balance, harmony and survival; a kingdom we enter to share in the wonder, gaze at the beauty, thrill at the drama, and learn.

Dedicated this 22nd day of April, 1998
Michael D. Eisner


Disney's Animal Kingdom Dedication Plaque

Disney's Animal Kingdom Dedication Plaque


The next park to open was Disney's California Adventure. But not before Disney pitted two cities against each other to see who would pony up the better deal.

Jack Wrather was a good friend of Walt's and built and owned the Disneyland Hotel across the street from Disneyland. In 1989, the Disney Company was finally able to negotiate a deal to purchase the Wrather Corporation, thus giving Disney clear title to the hotel. Included in the deal were the Queen Mary and the Spruce Goose which were located in Long Beach. Disney proposed building DisneySea, a park based on the oceans and seas of the world in Long Beach adjacent to the Queen Mary. They also proposed building a park next to Disneyland in what was then the parking lot. Thus, the two cities were locked in a contest to see which could offer Disney the most perks.

Some say that Disney never seriously considered Long Beach and only used them as leverage to secure a better deal from Anaheim. True or not, Anaheim won out and Disney's California Adventure began to rise. Disney subsequently sold the Queen Mary and the Spruce Goose.

Having suffered substantial losses in Paris, Disney's California Adventure would be a far less ambitious project. Many "off-the-shelf" rides were purchased from outside companies and dressed up with Disney flourishes. But these flourishes were not enough and the park was a critical and financial failure. People were incensed that admission to Disney's California Adventure cost the same as Disneyland, yet offered little more than carnival rides. Today, Bob Iger (Disney's current CEO) is pumping $1 billion into the park to bring it up to Disney standards.

Disney's California Adventure was dedicated by Michael Eisner on February 8, 2001. The dedication plaque was located in Sunshine Plaza beneath the Golden Sun. However, this area is currently under reconstruction and no plaque is visible at this time. There are rumors that the park will be rededicated once all of the construction is complete, but this remains to be seen.

The old dedication plaque reads:

Disney's California Adventure

"To all who believe in the power of dreams"¦ welcome! Disney's California Adventure opens its golden gates to you. Here we pay tribute to the dreamers of the past"¦ the native people, explorers, immigrants, aviators, entrepreneurs and entertainers who built the Golden State. And we salute a new generation of dreamers who are creating the wonders of tomorrow"¦ from the silver screen to the computer screen"¦ from the fertile farmlands to the far reaches of space. Disney's California Adventure celebrates the richness and diversity of California... its land, its people, its spirit and, above all, the dreams that it continues to inspire."

Michael D. Eisner
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
The Walt Disney Company
February 8, 2001


Disney's California Adventure Dedication Plaque

Golden Sun


The plans for DisneySea did not go to waste. The Oriental Land Company was interested in building a second park in Tokyo and the concept of a "sea" based park fit right into their plans. Tokyo DisneySea is arguably the most fantastic park Disney has built to date. I often tell people you can pay your admission, never ride on one attraction, and you will still get your money's worth. The park is beautiful and stunning - interesting and exciting - and filled with more details than you can imagine.

Unlike Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure whose main entrances face each other, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea sit back to back. Tokyo DisneySea even features a large ship, the USS Columbia, which might remind some of the Queen Mary which would have been included in the Long Beach version of this park.


USS Columbia


Like Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea is completely owned by the Oriental Land Company and pays licensing fees to Disney. The park opened on September 4, 2001.

The dedication reads in both English and Japanese:

Welcome, one and all to a world where Imagination and Adventure set sail.

Tokyo DisneySea is dedicated to the spirit of exploration that lives in each of us. Here you chart a course for Adventure, Romance, Discovery and Fun and journey to exotic and fanciful Ports of Call.

May Tokyo DisneySea inspire the hearts and minds of all of us who share the water planet, Earth.

September 4, 2001
Michael D. Eisner
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
The Walt Disney Company


Tokyo DisneySea Dedication Plaque


When details for Euro Disneyland were being negotiated with the French Government, a second park to be built by Disney became part of the deal. Scheduled to open in 1996, another Disney/MGM Studios was designed for France. But due to the financial losses incurred during the initial years of the resort, the second park was cancelled in mid-1992. Eventually, a much smaller park, the Walt Disney Studios Park, would be built and opened on March 16, 2002.

The Walt Disney Studios Park is the least attended of the eleven Disney parks. To rectify this, Bob Iger has pumped significant money into the project over the last seven years. This has resulted in new attractions with growing attendance and more favorable reviews.

The dedication plaque is located at the base of the Partners statue just beyond the Front Lot section of the park. It reads in both French and English:

WALT DISNEY STUDIOS

"To all who enter this studio of dreams... welcome. Walt Disney Studios is dedicated to our timeless fascination and affection for cinema and television. Here we celebrate the art and the artistry of storytellers from Europe and around the world who create the magic. May this special place stir our own memories of the past, and our dreams of the future."

Michael D. Eisner


Walt Disney Studios Park Dedication Plaque

Walt Disney Studios Park Dedication Plaque


Hong Kong Disneyland is a joint venture between the Disney Company and the Government of Hong Kong. It is located on landfill on Penny Bay on Lantau Island. The park opened on September 12, 2005.

During the first several years of operation, the park did not meet its projected attendance. Much of this had to do with the fact the park was lacking in attractions. Many called Hong Kong Disneyland a "half-day" park. But once again, Bob Iger is investing in the resort and new attractions have opened and others are slated to come online in the near future. Attendance is now on the rise.

The Hong Kong Disneyland Resort features two hotels and room for several more. In addition, the land was designed so a second theme park could easily be added when the time is right. Hong Kong Disneyland caters to Southeast Asia, Australia, and India.

The dedication plaque is located on Town Square just beyond the band stand. It reads in both English and Chinese:

Hong Kong Disneyland

"To all who come to this happy place, welcome."

Fifty years ago, Walt Disney introduced the world to enchanted realms of fantasy and adventure, yesterday and tomorrow, in a magical place called Disneyland.

Today that spirit of imagination and discovery comes to life in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Disneyland is dedicated to the young and the young at heart - with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration, and an enduring symbol of the cooperation, friendship and understanding between the people of Hong Kong and the United States of America.

Donald Tsang
Chief Executive
Hong Kong S.A.R.

Michael D. Eisner
Chief Executive Officer
The Walt Disney Company

Dedicated this 12th day of September, 2005


Hong Kong Disneyland Dedication Plaque

Hong Kong Disneyland Band Stand


Shanghai Disneyland is now under construction and is slated to open sometime in 2016. Phase One will include a Disneyland-type park, an entertainment district, two themed hotels, recreational facilities, a lake, and associated parking and transportation hubs. Land has been set aside for two additional parks and more hotels.

It's my belief to wait at least a year before experiencing a new Disney park. This allows the company to fine-tune the operation and hopefully, add a few new attractions that didn't quite make opening day. So it's my intention to visit Shanghai Disneyland sometime in late 2017. Check back with AllEars at that time and I'll have another dedication plaque to share with you.

So there you have it, the dedication plaques from all eleven Disney parks. As I said at the beginning of this article, the words here will not have any significant impact on your visit. But they do remind us that it took many dreamers to create the wonderful parks we enjoy and so often take for granted. So I repeat what so many of the plaques said:

To all who come to this happy place, welcome.

August 15, 2011

The Enchanted Tiki Room - A look back

With the official reopening of the Tiki Room, I thought I'd use this opportunity to give you a history of this groundbreaking attraction. In many ways, "The Enchanted Tiki Room" opened the door to other Disney classics like "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln," "Carousel of Progress," and "Pirates of the Caribbean" as the Imagineers were able to use what they had learned with the Tiki birds to build on their success.

Long before Disneyland opened, Walt dreamed of animating figures using cables and cams. He even went so far as to contact a patent attorney in 1949 and proposed dimensional animation. The idea would unite three-dimensional figures that could move to synchronized audio tracks. But his idea was far ahead of its time and was limited by the technology of the day. When Disneyland opened in 1955, the park featured crude versions of AudioAnimatronics (AA) figures. These figures had limited movements and were unreliable. This is best illustrated by the simplistic animals seen on the Jungle Cruise.


Disneyland's Jungle Cruise


The exploration of space brought a number of technological advancements to the world in the late 1950's and early 1960's. The Imagineers were able to capitalize on these inventions and apply them to their crude figures. With the use of rudimentary computers and new hydraulic and pneumatic hardware, their animals began to move less like robots and more like the real thing.

The first attempt by Disney to create a lifelike AA human was undertaken by Roger Broggie and Wathel Rogers. Walt wanted to have them create a likeness of Confucius who could interact with guests dining in a Chinese restaurant to be located on Main Street. The pair succeeded to a point, but ultimately, limitations in technology would stymie the project. The required electronics would fill a room and Confucius was extremely fragile. He was continually ripping his rubber face.

Walt next directed his team to create a likeness of Abraham Lincoln. Since 1956, a spur off of Main Street to be called Liberty Square had been under development. Walt felt that an AA figure could tell the story of freedom better than the static display currently under consideration. Soon after, Walt hired Buddy Ebsen to dance in front of a large grid and filmed the hoofer's movements. Walt himself directed the sequence. This footage was then studied and measurements were taken. With this information, the Imagineers built a 1/8 scale model of Ebsen which perfectly reproduced his dance routine. Walt even had a miniature stage built to showcase his new figure.


Mechanical Man


While on vacation in New Orleans (or Europe, depending on which version of the story you hear), Walt found and purchased a mechanical bird that could sing while moving its beak, head, and wings. He thought to himself, if toymakers can do this well, my Imagineers can do better. He took the bird home and gave it to his team so they could dissect it and discover what made it tick.

Walt put his Lincoln idea on hold and concentrated all of his efforts on this new project. In the months that followed, his Imagineers built life-sized cockatoos, toucans, macaws, and other tropical birds. Walt wanted to resurrect the Chinese restaurant idea, but instead of Confucius entertaining guests, birds would take center stage. Walt also reasoned that guests would be more accepting of the limitations of AA mechanics when applied to non-human figures.

The restaurant, to be called "The Tiki Hut," was to be located in Adventureland and would have a Polynesian theme. The eatery would share the kitchen used by the Plaza Pavilion and the Tahitian Terrace. A press release issued by the company read, "Walt Disney is creating a restaurant. And just as his full-length animated films, True-Life Adventures, and Disneyland pioneered in their fields, Walt's creation may alter the course of many full-course meals." However, as the idea for a restaurant progressed and logistics considered, it was realized that the average meal would take between 45-60 minutes. This would greatly limit how many guests could see this new marvel. Add this to space limitations in Adventureland, and the restaurant idea was eventually abandoned in favor of a 17 minute show only. "Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room" opened on June 23, 1963. The show contained 225 AA performers directed by a fourteen-channel magnetic tape feeding 100 speakers and controlling 438 separate actions.


Tiki Room Poster

Walt Inside the Tiki Room


Although difficult to conceive today, in 1963, the public could not begin to fathom what the "Enchanted Tiki Room" was all about. Cast members would try to explain that there were singing birds and flowers inside the building, but guests just didn't "get it" and would bypass this attraction for other adventures. Even the Disneyland TV show failed to convey the magic awaiting guests inside this unassuming structure. A solution was needed to promote the show appropriately.

Enter Barker Bird. Situated on a perch above the Enchanted Tiki Room turnstiles, a new AA bird was added to the show. From high above, Barker Bird (a copy of Jose who performs in the show) would call to the guests below and extoll the virtues of the performance inside. The solution worked. For the first time, guests could experience a sophisticated AudioAnimatronics figure and were intrigued enough to venture inside to see the entire show.


Barker Bird


However, there was a drawback to Barker Bird. He became an attraction in his own right. The entrance into Adventureland was very narrow in the early years. So many people would stop to listen to Barker Bird that the walkway became impassable. Eventually, after the show became well established, Barker Bird was retired.

Once guests were persuaded to see the show, they were blown away by it. Remember, this was 1963 and nothing like this had ever been seen before.

The adventure began with guests entering a dimly lit, quiet room. Once everyone was seated, a host or hostess used a cane to wake up Jose. The show was carefully orchestrated to "build" upon itself. First the four hosts spoke to the audience. Then a background chorus of birds chimed in and an elaborate bird-mobile descended from the ceiling. After we thought we'd seen "everything," the various tropical flowers scattered around the room came to life and serenaded us. And finally, the Tiki gods began to recite Polynesian chants. In the end, so much celebration was taking place that the gods were awakened and angered. Guests left the "Enchanted Tiki Room" awe-struck. They couldn't believe what they had just seen.

When the "Enchanted Tiki Room" first opened, it was not owned by the Walt Disney Company (then Walt Disney Productions), but rather by Walt's private company, WED Enterprises. Because of this, guests were required to purchase a separate ticket for the staggering amount of 75Β’ if they wanted to see the show.


Tiki Room Ticket


Since the show was 17 minutes in length, it was realized that some sort of diversion would be required to keep guest entertained while waiting for the next presentation to begin. To accomplish this, a number of Polynesian gods were situated around the perimeter of the holding area. Shortly before entering the building, each god spoke to the audience and provided a brief explanation as to his or her importance and function. Note, these were not AA figures. Their lips did not move or their eyes open. Some figures rocked back and forth and others dropped flowers from their branches, but there was nothing sophisticated about these Tiki gods.


Disneyland Preshow Tiki Gods

Disneyland Preshow Tiki Gods


In the 1960's, United Airlines was the premier carrier of passengers to and from the Hawaiian Islands. They were the perfect company to sponsor the "Enchanted Tiki Room" and held that honor for twelve years. In 1976, the Dole Food Company replaced United Airlines and continues sponsorship to this day.

While there may be 225 AA figures, the show revolves around four wise-cracking macaws, Jose, Michael, Pierre, and Fritz. It's interesting to note, in the early years, their feather's colors represented their nationalities. Jose (voiced by Wally Boag) was covered in red, white, and green feathers, the colors on the Mexican flag. Michael (voiced by Fulton Burley) donned green and white feathers to represent his Irish background. Pierre (voiced by Ernie Newton) sported blue, white, and red for his French nationality. And Fritz (voiced by Thurl Ravenscroft) was covered in red, white, and gold feathers for his German heritage.

The Sherman Brothers wrote "The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room." Robert Hargreaves, Stanley J. Damerell and Tolchard Evans wrote "Let's All Sing Like the Birdies Sing." For you true lovers of Disney trivia, a version of "The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room" can be heard in the Pizzafari Restaurant at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

In late 2004, the "Enchanted Tiki Room" closed for an extensive refurbishment. The exterior of the building was in sad shape and inside, the bird's feathers were routinely falling from their bodies and you could hear their hydraulics sputtering as they sang. Disneyland's 50th birthday was rapidly approaching and this attraction needed some serious attention if it was to be presentable for the park's big celebration. When the show reopened seven months later, it had been restored to its former glory. The score had been digitally remastered and a new sound system had been installed. In addition, many of the birds and flowers had been replaced with state-of-the-art AA figures. The show's length was also shortened somewhat. This will be noticeable to anyone who bought the LP in the early years or has found a full-length version of the show on the internet. But to the vast majority of visitors, the deletions are inconspicuous.

Since the "Enchanted Tiki Room" had been so successful at Disneyland, it was a given that it would be an opening day attraction at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. In 1967, Walt Disney Productions entered into an agreement with the Florida Citrus Growers to sponsor this attraction for a cost of $3 million.

When the Magic Kingdom opened on October 1, 1971, a copy of Disneyland's "Enchanted Tiki Room" was on hand to greet guests. Renamed "Tropical Serenade," this attraction was an immediate success and required an "D" coupon to enter. Guests familiar with the Disneyland version would notice that the Magic Kingdom's theater was considerably larger.


Tropical Serenade Poster


Although the main presentation was the same, the waiting area and preshow was all new at the Magic Kingdom. At Disneyland, guests waited on a large lanai and wandered about until the show began. At which time, they all converged into a single door with occasional pushing and shoving. Wanting to better control people at the Magic Kingdom, the Imagineers created three, terraced lines where guests could wait in a more orderly fashion. While waiting to enter the theater, guests faced a shrine and waterfall that eventually parted to reveal two AA birds perched atop a Tiki god.


Preshow Tiki God Shrine


Other changes could be seen in the building's exterior. At Disneyland, the "Enchanted Tiki Room" had been squeezed into a tight space and could easily be missed as you walked by. But at the Magic Kingdom, the Imagineers gave the "Tropical Serenade" a place of prominence with a large pagoda that could be seen throughout much of Adventureland.


Tropical Serenade Pagoda


In 1970, WED Enterprises created the Orange Bird character to serve as the sponsor's (Florida Citrus Growers) mascot at the park and in other promotional advertisements. The Orange Bird could often be seen at the Sunshine Tree Terrace in Adventureland greeting guests and posing for pictures. The Sherman Brothers wrote a song about our feathered friend and Anita Bryant recorded it.


Orange Bird

Orange Bird


Florida Citrus Growers ended their sponsorship in 1986 and the Orange Bird slipped into Disney history. However, this character had a resurgence at Tokyo Disneyland in 2004 to coincide with Japan's annual Orange Day celebration held on April 14th. Back in the States, new Orange Bird merchandise can be found today in Magic Kingdom shops in honor of Walt Disney World's upcoming 40th anniversary.

As the years marched on, guests became bored with the slow-moving "Tropical Serenade." Having become accustomed to more thrilling fare like Splash and Space Mountains, it was a common occurrence to see guests walk out in the middle of the show. Something needed to be done.

"Tropical Serenade" closed on September 1, 1997 for an extensive rehab. When it reopened in April 1998, a new show awaited guests, "The Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management." The show still starred Jose, Michael, Pierre, and Fritz, but two new additions were added to the festivities, Iago from "Aladdin" and Zazu from "The Lion King." In this version of the show, Iago and Zazu are the new owners of the Tiki Room and want to make some changes to the act. They even poked fun at the previous, slow moving show. A new preshow also featured moving AA figures, William and Morris, who set up the storyline before guests ventured inside.


Zazu and Iago

William and Morris


Unfortunately, "Under New Management" never lived up to Disney's expectations. Iago may have worked well as a villain in "Aladdin," but as the host of a fun-loving show, he was obnoxious. After the initial surge of first time visitors saw the new show, crowds quickly dissipated.

In 2011, "Under New Management" was 13 years old. It was time for a change. Then in January of this year, a small fire broke out in the attic of the attraction. The sprinkler system was activated and guests were evacuated. No one was hurt and the blaze was quickly brought under control by the Reedy Creek Fire Department. However, the Iago AudioAnimatronics figure was badly damaged by the fire and other portions of the attraction sustained water damage. This fire and ensuing damage gave Disney the impetus it needed to retire this unpopular show. But what to replace it with?

The Imagineers didn't have to look too far for a new idea - or should I say, an old idea. At Disneyland, the "Enchanted Tiki Room" had experienced increased attendance after it was upgraded for the park's 50th anniversary. Why not do the same thing for the Magic Kingdom's upcoming 40th anniversary and bring back the original. The Magic Kingdom's new show is called "Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room" (the original name at Disneyland). Due to the ever shrinking attention span of the public, the new show is 11 minutes in length rather than the original 17. In this revised production, the slow moving Offenbach musical number was cut. This alone removed two and a half minutes from the show. In addition, the column of water rising up to meet the Bird-Mobile was eliminated and superfluous dialogue was removed.

The Enchanted Tiki Room is also a staple at Tokyo Disneyland. The original show (presented mostly in Japanese) ran from opening day (April 15, 1983) to 1999 when it became "The Enchanted Tiki Room: "Get the Fever!" This second version of the show featured a zany Las Vegas-style nightclub review as it might be staged in the middle of the jungle. Jose, Michael, Pierre, and Fritz were replace by lounge hosts, Danno, Scats, Buddy, and Lava (the first female host bird). The show was presented in a combination of English and Japanese. I saw "Get the Fever!" in 2000 and thoroughly enjoyed it. I remember thinking to myself, "Why did the Imagineers choose to put "Under New Management" into the Magic Kingdom when they already had such a good show they could have used."


Enchanted Tiki Room:


"Get the Fever!" closed in January 2008 and was replaced by "The Enchanted Tiki Room: Stitch Presents Aloha e Komo Mai!" which opened on July 25th, 2008. To see my review of this show, click here.


Enchanted Tiki Room: Stitch Presents Aloha e Komo Mai!


The "Enchanted Tiki Room" is not nearly as exciting as many other Disney attractions, but it is a classic and it's historic. Its AA figures were the beginning of so many other wonderful attractions to follow. It's a charming show that Walt personally supervised its creation. Only the most jaded guest would not be captivated by its simple humor, wonderful melodies, and fantastic characters.



September 19, 2009

Magic Kingdom Skyway

After I published my blog about the demolition of the Tomorrowland Skyway Station, one of my readers wrote and asked me to write a blog about this defunct attraction. I don't usually take requests for articles, but I felt that this was timely subject matter and decided to go for it.

The first Disney Skyway opened at Disneyland on June 23, 1956. Walt was so taken by this mode of transportation that he signed an agreement to purchase this attraction from the Von Roll, Ltd. Company without giving any consideration as to where this ride would be located in his park. But Walt thought of the Skyway as more than just a ride. He thought of it as another mode of transportation that could be used to carry people across large parking lots and shopping centers. He wanted to use Disneyland to showcase this idea.

There is a legend that says that part of Walt's inspiration for Disney World came to him while riding the Disneyland Skyway. From the lofty height of sixty feet, he could see outside the park and onto the rush-hour traffic of the Santa Ana Freeway that skirted his property. He knew then that he needed more land so he could shield any future project from the outside world.

There were three Disney Skyways in total, the second opening at the Magic Kingdom on October 1, 1971 (opening day) and the third at Tokyo Disneyland on April 15, 1983 (also on opening day). All three offered one-way rides between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. The Magic Kingdom's version had the distinction of being the only one that made a turn in the middle of the journey.

It is often reported, incorrectly, that the Magic Kingdom closed the Skyway due to the death of a custodial cast member working on the attraction. Although it is true that Raymond Barlow was accidentally killed while cleaning a narrow Skyway platform, this had nothing to do with the decision to shutter the ride. Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland had both closed their versions of this attraction before this death occurred. The decision to close all of the Skyways was strictly economical. These attractions were old and expensive to run and maintain. Also, they had low capacities. This made it harder and harder to justify on a "dollar spent per guest ride" basis. Combine this with the constant problem of teenagers spitting and throwing things on the guests below and it's not hard to understand why Disney said "Enough." The Magic Kingdom Skyway closed on November 9, 1999.

The Skyway was a perennial favorite of many people. Even though the line was often long, it was worth the wait once we were airborne and looking down on the many sights below. As you passed other gondolas, you would smile and wave to its passengers. And when you could see the terminus station come into view, you grew sad because you new your flight was almost over.

I have dug through my photo collection and pulled out my Skyway pictures. Please note, some of these pictures are old and of dubious quality. I have also included a video I took in October, 1986. It was shot using one of those old, large, "carry-on-your-shoulder" video cameras of the early 1980's. For many years, this film sat deteriorating on VHS tape until I finally copied it to a DVD. When I electronically extracted it from the DVD so I could share it with you, I lost additional quality. So please forgive this video.


The Fantasyland Station had a Swiss chalet design and yodeling could often be heard in the queue. (1983)


Fantasyland Skyway Station


Leaving the station. (1972)


Fantasyland Skyway

Fantasyland Skyway


Here we see the Columbia Harbour House. (1989)


Fantasyland Skyway


The Mad Tea Party is the the lower left of the picture. (1972)


Fantasyland Skyway


Cinderella's Golden Carousel is dead ahead. (1983)


Fantasyland Skyway

Fantasyland Skyway


Looking back at the Peter Pan attraction. (1989)


Fantasyland Skyway


Down below is Pinocchio Village Haus. (1975)


Fantasyland Skyway


Here is a very old Dumbo attraction -- before a major refurbishment. (1983)


Fantasyland Skyway


An newer Dumbo and the 20,000 Leagues Lagoon. (1989)


Fantasyland Skyway


20,000 Leagues Under the Sea loading area. (1989)


Fantasyland Skyway


The Nautilus. (1983)


Fantasyland Skyway


Tomorrowland Terrace. (1972)


Tomorrowland Skyway


Tomorrowland Terrace and Cinderella Castle. (1972)


Tomorrowland Skyway


Grand Prix Raceway. (1975)


Tomorrowland Skyway

Tomorrowland Skyway


WEDway People Mover and Contemporary Hotel. (1983)


Tomorrowland Skyway


Tomorrowland Transit Authority (TTA) and the Skyway. (1994-95)


Tomorrowland Skyway


Space Mountain and the Contemporary Hotel. (1975)


Tomorrowland Skyway


TTA and Astro Orbiter. (1994-95)


Tomorrowland Skyway


Tomorrowland Skyway Station. (1989)


Tomorrowland Skyway Station


Here's my video of the Skyway shot in October, 1986.

August 23, 2009

Richard Carpenter & Mr. Guder

A handful of famous people have worked at Disneyland. John Lasseter (founder of Pixar) was a Jungle Cruise skipper. Steve Martin worked as a magician in the Main Street Magic Shop. Michelle Pfeiffer portrayed Alice in Wonderland. Teri Garr was a parade dancer. And Bob Cummings, Art Linkletter, and Ronald Reagan are/were members of Club 55 since they worked at Disneyland on opening day (July 17, 1955) as guest personalities. But there is one other famous celebrity who had a more notorious stint as a cast member.

During the summer of 1967, Richard Carpenter performed at Disneyland with John Bettis as a banjo and piano duo. They played at Coke Corner on Main Street.


Coke Corner


Being a time-specific land, they were instructed to play certain pieces from the early 1900's. However, they were frequently asked by guests to perform more contemporary songs like "Somewhere My Love," "Yesterday," and "Light My Fire." Being young and cocky, they ignored their directive and honored the guest's requests. Talent supervisor Vic Guder spoke to them numerous times about straying from the approved song list, but his words had little effect on the duo. Eventually, they were fired.

Being young and not completely understanding how the supervisor-subordinate relationship works, they thought they had received a raw deal. To vent their frustration and outrage they collaborated on an "anti-establishment" song titled, Mr. Guder in honor of their Disneyland boss. The song was later recorded by Richard and his sister Karen and was released on the "Close to You" album in 1970.


Close To Your Album


In later years, Richard admits that perhaps he should have been satisfied with having a job and not behaving as he did.

Here are the words to the song. Something to keep in mind when reading them, the 1960's represented a time of change. Non-conformity was rampant - except at Disneyland where cast members were expected to maintain the Disney look and attitude. Grooming standards were extremely strict then, more so than they are today.


Mr. Guder.
Say! Mr. Guder.
May I have a moment with you?
Because there is something I've got to say.
And please don't let it scare you away.


Mr. Guder.
Say! Mr. Guder.
I have seen you go through a day.
You're everything a robot lives for,
Walk in at nine and roll out the door at five.


(*) You reflect the company image.
You maintain their rules to live by,
Shine your shoes let's keep a neat haircut,
Now that you're wearing a coat and tie.


Mr. Guder.
Say! Mr. Guder.
Some day soon may realize,
You spend your life just playing a game,
Where no ones wins but everyone stays the same.


Repeat (*)


Mr. Guder.
Say! Mr. Guder.
Some day soon may realize,
You spend your life just playing a game,
Where no ones wins but everyone stays the same.
The sa-a-a-me.


Please!
Play your game!
Stay the same.

July 17, 2009

Hotels that Never Were at Walt Disney World

WDW Preview Edition


In early 1971, I purchased the above booklet - a "Preview Edition" of Walt Disney World. Within its 21 pages were dozens of artist's renderings of this fantastic resort that was under construction in Florida. I took it home and read it cover to cover, twice. The booklet briefly described each of the lands within the Magic Kingdom and the two new hotels being built. It talked about the Mickey Mouse Review and Country Bear Jamboree, both unheard of attractions at Disneyland. It described recreational activities like golf, waterskiing, and sail boating, also unheard of activities at Disneyland. The booklet closed with a discussion of Epcot, the city, not the theme park - a community that was to one day have a population of 20,000.


Artist's Rendering of EPCOT


Another topic discussed was Disney's Five Year Plan for the property and the three hotels that would soon follow the Polynesian and Contemporary. These were the Asian and Venetian resorts which would sit on the Seven Seas Lagoon and the Persian that would be located on Bay Lake.

For a number of years, the following picture (minus the animation) hung in every room at the Contemporary Resort. Here you can see all of the existing and planned hotels plus the Ft. Wilderness Campgound. Also notice, there is no Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, or Pirates of the Caribbean in the Magic Kingdom.


Seven Seas Lagoon


Let's start with the Asian Resort. Slated to open in 1974, this Thailand-inspired hotel was to have 600 rooms, including 50 suites that would exhibit a royal dΓ©cor. A lounge and theme restaurant would be found within the resort's 160-foot center tower and provide dancing and stage-shows, in much the same way as the Contemporary's "Top of the World." This resort was also to have its own monorail station.

Here are three artist's renderings.


Artist's Rendering of Asian Resort

Artist's Rendering of Asian Resort

Artist's Rendering of Asian Resort


The Asian Hotel was to sit where the Grand Floridian now resides. In this next picture, you can see a square plot of land jutting into the Seven Seas Lagoon. The resort was part of Walt Disney World's master plan and was incorporated into the original design.


Seven Seas Lagoon


When construction began on the Grand Floridian, a portion of this land needed to be reconfigured to accommodate the new hotel.


Grand Floridian Construction


The Venetian Resort was to sit in-between the Transportation & Ticket Center and the Contemporary Resort. Plans called for a "City of Canals" that would offer unique shopping opportunities as guests traveled by gondola under ornate bridges to various sections of the resort. Reminiscent of St. Mark's Square, a 120-foot campanile would be the hotel's icon. This resort would also have its own monorail station.

Here are two artist's renderings of the Venetian Resort and an aerial view of its proposed location.


Artist's Rendering of Venetian Resort

Artist's Rendering of Venetian Resort

Seven Seas Lagoon


After the Grand Floridian's success, Michael Eisner wanted to build an even more luxurious resort. The plans for the Venetian were given a second look and eventually discarded for a Mediterranean Resort that would be themed after a small Greek island. The land was cleared where the Venetian was to stand, but it was soon discovered that this area was unstable and would require pylons deeper than those used on Spaceship Earth to support the hotel. Because of this, cost estimates skyrocketed and plans were dropped. Eventually the land was replanted with trees and now can be seen as a lush forest as you travel past on the monorail.


Venetian%20Resort%203.jpg


The Persian Resort was to sit north of the Contemporary and to the east of the Magic Kingdom on Bay Lake. Some renderings show a spur from the monorail reaching this hotel while others display a second loop that traveled through Tomorrowland. You can see this loop on the picture below. To see the spur, look at the above Contemporary Resort "property" map.


Map of WDW


The Persian Resort was to have a 24-foot dome atop a central building that would act as the entrance to the hotel and house a restaurant, shops, and meeting facilities. The guest rooms would radiate from this building in a circular design. Here are two artist's renderings.


Artist's Rendering of Persian Resort

Artist's Rendering of Persian Resort


None of the resorts ever materialized for a number of reasons, but the main culprit was the 1973 oil embargo. Tourism dropped off significantly during this time and three more deluxe resorts were not needed.

The third resort to be built at Disney World ended up being the Golf Resort and opened in December 1973. It was later renamed The Disney Inn (1986) to give the resort a broader appeal. In February, 1994, this resort was leased to the U.S. Government for military personnel and the name changed to Shades of Green. The government purchased the resort outright in 1996.

March 13, 2009

Nostalgia – Ticket Books and Transportation

I've had a number of requests to post more pictures of the early years of Walt Disney World. Unfortunately, I've already blogged any that show a difference between then and now. So last night I dug through some of the Disneyana I've collected over the years. I'm hoping these scraps might help appease the voracious appetite you all have for things Disney.

As many of you know, I worked at Disneyland from 1971 to 1980. During this time, cast members were given lots of free tickets to Disneyland and Walt Disney World. This first ticket is one such item. In the early years, transportation from the TTC to the Magic Kingdom was not free. It required a separate ticket. If you notice, the price was $1.50. Also notice, "Motor Trams" were one of the options.


Transportation


Attached to this Transportation ticket was an admission ticket to the Magic Kingdom. It has no date printed on it, so I can't pinpoint a time, but the cost of entry was $2.25.


Transportation


I know your first thought is this is incredibly cheap. But you have to remember, all this ticket did was grant you admission into the park. If you wanted to ride on something, you needed an A thru E ticket. Unfortunately, I don't have any of these tickets for Disney World, but I do have a complementary ticket book that contained five multi-use tickets.


Ticket Book

Ticket Book.jpg


These tickets were not designated A thru E. Each ticket was good on ANY attraction in the Magic Kingdom. In other words, all of them were "E" tickets. Believe me, this was like gold back in the early years.


Ticket Book


On the inside, back cover of the ticket book was a list of all the rides and attractions of the day.


Ticket Book


This next bit of memorabilia centers around bus transportation. Dated 1989, this handout informed guests how to read the color coded pennants displayed on the front of each bus. Each destination had its own color or design. This was a complicated system that thankfully, didn't last too long.


Transportation

Transportation


In later years, Disney started handing out elaborate sheets with a grid. First you would determine your current location from the left side of the sheet. Then you would search for your ultimate destination across the top of the page. Where the two lines intersected gave you what modes of transportation were needed to get you there. Once again, this sheet does not have a date on it, but on the reverse side it notes the Coronado Springs as a future project, opening in 1997. So I'm guessing this was 1995 or 1996.


Transportation


Sorry, in order to fit this into the webpage, I had to shrink it beyond readability. The actual size was 15"x11". But I think you can get the idea of its use.

For a very comprehensive Step Back in Time regarding Walt Disney World tickets, see Jack Marshall's Ticket History pages on AllEars!

May 22, 2008

1972 Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World Pictures - Part 2

This is my last set of January, 1972 pictures. I do have others, but they are of things that have changed very little over the years, such as Main Street and portions of Fantasyland, and really aren't of any historical interest. Enjoy!

This first picture is of the Haunted Mansion. The first interesting detail is the lack of trees. Although you can't see it in this picture, in the early years, the building that actually houses the attraction was visible from inside the park. Also notice that the queue doesn't have an awning over it. Remember, Walt Disney World was designed by people who lived in California. They hadn't yet learned that the sun is brutal in Florida, as are the rainstorms.

Haunted Mansion Magic Kingdom 1973

This next picture was taken from the Skyway of the Mad Tea Party. Notice that the teacups do not yet have a roof overhead. Same California designers.

Mad Tea Party Magic Kingdom 1973

The third picture is of the "Pearly Band." These entertainers were a regular fixture at Disneyland and then the Magic Kingdom after Mary Poppins debuted. If you remember, a "pearly band" played in the animated portion of the movie. I can't remember the last time I saw this group. They are playing in front of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride in Fantasyland, the current home of the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh attraction.

Pearly Band

This fourth picture, also taken from the Skyway, is of Tomorrowland under construction. The Carousel of Progress would eventually be built here. Like Disneyland in 1955, when the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, Tomorrowland was just a shell of what it would finally become.


Future Home of the Carousel of Progress Magic Kingdom 1973

I took this final picture of a popcorn vendor because of the costume he was wearing. I had never seen this outfit as the Disneyland vendors wore different apparel. Eventually, this look would find its way to California. Like the pearly band, this costume is now just a memory.

Also notice the spires that marked the entrance to Tomorrowland. The design called for columns of water to cascade from these towers. However, even a slight breeze would send droplets all over the walkway and they were often turned off to save giving the guests a shower.

Tomorrowland Popcorn Vender Magic Kingdom 1973

May 15, 2008

1972 Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World Pictures - Part 1

Here we go again, another set of pictures taken in January, 1972.

These first two pictures were taken of the Indy Speedway from the Skyway. In the first picture, look to the left and you can see the 20,000 Leagues building. And if you look toward the back of the picture, you can see the monorail and steam train roundhouse.

Indy Speedway and Monorail Barn Disney World Tomorrowland 1973

In this next picture, look toward the center. You can see the monorail spur that runs to the roundhouse. Also notice the construction trailers. A lot of work was still underway in those early months. And the lack of landscaping was apparent everywhere.


Indy Speedway and Construction Trailers Disney World Tomorrowland 1973


This picture was taken from the steam train looking over vacant land. This land would one day be occupied by Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain.

Future Home of Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain Circa 1973


This picture was also taken from the steam train, a little further down the tracks. Notice the "Cabin on Fire" on Tom Sawyer Island. Construction had not even begun on the guest portions of the island, but Disney made sure there was something to see while riding the Joe Fowler steamboat - not much, but something.

Future Home of Tom Sawyer's Island, Disney World Circa 1973

This final picture was taken from the Skyway in Fantasyland, looking across an unfinished Tom Sawyer Island. You can see the steam train in the background.

Future Home of Tom Sawyer's Island, Disney World Circa 1973

April 5, 2008

Step Back in Time to 1972 - Back by popular demand

Last time I posted old pictures of WDW I received numerous emails requesting more. So here goes. Once again, all of these pictures were taken in January 1972, just a little more than three months after the "World" opened.

These first two pictures are of topiary as seen while driving from the Main Entrance toward the Contemporary Resort. An interesting note"¦ These were fake - made out of plastic. I'm not sure exactly why. Perhaps they were an afterthought and Disney didn't have time to sculpt real plants before opening. Or maybe they didn't have sprinklers out this far yet. Whatever the reason, I was a little disappointed to see fakes since I was used to seeing the real thing at Disneyland.

1972 Topiary

1972 Topiary

This next picture is of more plastic topiary. The Magic Kingdom bus loading area now occupies this space.

Plastic Topiary 1972

The newly opened Polynesian Resort, as seen from the monorail, is pictured here. The ferry landing is in the foreground. Notice the Poly was much smaller then. The two additions were still years away.

Polynesian Resort 1972

And this next picture was also taken from the monorail looking back across land that would eventually become an expanded Polynesian Resort.


Polynesian Resort Future Expansion Area

This final picture was taken looking north from the Contemporary. Notice the utilities plant. It was an eyesore back then but is now hidden behind trees.

1972 Contemporary

March 24, 2008

Old Walt Disney World Pictures

A couple of months ago, I published some old pictures I had taken at Walt Disney World. I received several letters asking that I publish more, so here goes. All of these were taken in January, 1972, just a little over three months after Disney World opened.

The first picture is of the Toll Plaza. Notice it says "Parking Entrance." It doesn't even say "Walt Disney World" yet.

Magic Kingdom Toll Plaza 1972

This next photo is of the Contemporary Resort taken from the Skyway in Tomorrowland. Notice the lack of vegetation. Also, notice the crane. By this date, all of the modular rooms had been hoisted into place, but the suites, which were NOT modular, were still under construction.

Contemporary Resort taken from the Skyway in Tomorrowland 1972

This third picture is of a room in the Contemporary. So this is what the Imagineers thought the future would look like during their planning sessions in the late 60's.

Contemporary Room 1972

This next shot was taken from inside the Contemporary, looking south from the middle of the building. Notice how this area hasn't yet been expanded out beyond the windows which would eventually become Chef Mickey's. Also notice the orange and yellow plastic trees.

Contemporary Resort 4th Floor - 1972


And finally, this last picture was taken from one of the balcony rooms of the Contemporary looking west. Once again, notice the lack of vegetation and a missing Grand Floridian Resort.

By the way, a Tower Room in the Contemporary cost $35 per night back then!

View from the Contemporary 1972

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About Step Back in Time

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The β€œWorld” According to Jack in the Step Back in Time category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Shootin' Galleries is the previous category.

The Little Things is the next category.

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