D23 - Official Disney Fan Community Archives

July 9, 2017

Helpful Hints for the Infrequent Conventioneer


In case you are one of the vast majority of Mankind who does not regularly read my missives here, I regularly attend a lot of events--particularly conventions--of a variety of subjects and emphases. As we are once again approaching Disney's arguably largest event, D23 Expo, I thought it might be useful to share some general observations that might help people organize their thoughts for enjoyable con-going.

Failure to Plan is a Plan to Fail:
Yes, this is a trite saying, and it also is a true one--painfully so, as many attendees of many conventions can attest. Unless a convention is a reasonably small affair where guests are pretty much guaranteed to be able to see every offering, there will be far more going on than you could possibly see or do, and far more people wanting to see or do each thing than could possible fit in the event's capacity. Consequently, it's a crucial thing to try to figure out your goals in advance. Do you love shopping and merchandise? Are you an autograph hound? Is your passion checking out exhibits? If you don't go over the schedules and lists of what's available, you'll run a good chance of missing out on the things you really want to see.

Personally, I mainly enjoy watching as many presentations on different topics as I can, which offers its own unique challenges. As a general rule, programming schedules are often set up to force choices between popular panels in order to break up crowds and lines. You need to prioritize the things you want to see vs the things you don't care about so much, vs the things you would sell your mother to see.


Some things you might want to consider:
--Make a list of the panels you want to see. Then make a "plan B" and sometimes a "plan C" in case you don't get into the panels you want to see.
--Be realistic about your "plan B" and don't make it the same time as "plan A," because by the time you find out "plan A" isn't going to work, you'll have already missed your opportunity for "plan B."
--Look at a map and see how far apart the rooms are. If you want to see two panels twenty minutes apart and one is on the third floor of the convention center and the next one is in the ballroom of a hotel three blocks away, you are probably not going to make it.
--Have a sense of how popular the panels are going to be. Looking at the Expo schedule, there will be one panel on Disney Studios' Live Action films. Given the popularity of the MCU, and that they've already announced that "Star Wars" won't be making an appearance at SDCC this year, there will probably be a huge amount of interest in this, and likely a lineup that will start the night before. On the other hand, the Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media are doing Pancake Art demonstrations several times a day each day, so expect an easier time seeing that.
--Go all in, or not at all. If you know you have to see a thing, then get there hours (sometimes a day) ahead to scope out how bad the line is. If you blow that opportunity, then my best advice is to just show up 10-30 minutes beforehand and hope for the best. At least then, if you don't get in, you didn't invest that much time in finding out and were available to do something else in the meantime. What you don't want to do is start waiting an hour or two ahead of time in a line where everyone who is going to get in lined up three to four hours ago. I once spoke to a mother and daughter behind me in line who said they had spent their entire Expo day going from one line to the next, waiting a couple hours, and then not getting in. Don't Be Those People.


Know How To Get What You Want If What You Want Is To Collect Things:
Check in advance whether your favorite companies or product lines have booths, and whether they are offering any limited edition items you want. If you know you will die coming home without that specific one-day-only-special-edition thing, you also need to look at a map of the floor and find out where that booth is, because you will likely only get one shot to safely hustle your way over there first thing at opening to get in line for it. Check official twitter accounts and webpages that are live reporting such things to see what the lines are like in advance--at SDCC, people regularly sleep out overnight to be the first ones into the Mattel or Hasbro booths, so this can be serious business. Know also that booth lines are not necessarily at the booths: In order to free up the passageways that can get clogged with huge lines, people are frequently lined up against the walls of the exhibitor's floor and then walked over in groups as people leave the booth. If you rush over to a booth for a popular item, and then realize the line is actually halfway across the room, it's probably going to be capped by the time you get over there and find it.

Also try to do the bulk of your shopping as early as possible, hopefully before the convention actually starts, if you can. Recently, I've been seeing a marked increase (even at Disney events) in sellers bringing merchandise in woefully insufficient amounts, often selling out by the end of preview night. While some booths will only sell a certain amount each day and then restock each night, some, either by design or accident, will just blow out all their goods immediately and then, I guess, just take a nap for the next couple days. Check sizing as well, if you're looking at t-shirts: Mickey's of Glendale and PIXAR are notorious for selling women's shirts in styles that run considerably smaller than most.


...But Maybe You Shouldn't:
There are a lot of booths, and most of them will be giving away something: Art lithographs, posters, brochures, shirts, books...sometimes even chairs. In every case, as soon as people see there's something being passed out, huge mobs will form to try to get it. If you're desperate, you can usually tough it out in line, or haunt a given booth to try to time when they start distributing. Unfortunately, after a certain amount of time, it can be hard to know if you are desperate because you actually want something, or just because the crowd mentality has driven you insane and made you believe that it's reasonable to stand in line for 45 minutes for a paper tube (PSA: I've done this.) Sometimes you should step back and really consider whether it's worth spending your time and effort to get something that's just going to sit untouched in the free convention-provided tote bag in the corner of your room for the next five years.


Security Might Not Make You Safer, But It Will Make You Late:
With the increased anxiety everyone has nowadays about security, measures to get into different panels and the convention itself have gotten increasingly elaborate and time-consuming. Unless you have some sort of priority access to entering in the morning, you may want to consider showing up hours early in case the given event decides it needs to search your bags, make you go through metal detectors, etc. As you remember from the airport, this takes forever with just your every-day people, but at a con where every third cosplayer has multiple bags with food, electronics, and prop weaponry, this can stretch into an eternity. I just finished attending one event where some people waited over five hours to get in the first day, and the lines stretched over blocks, snarling traffic so bad it took me 90 minutes just to circle the building to find parking. Few hate mornings more than I, but this is one time where you have to bite the bullet if you want to maximize your time.


Everybody Has To Eat:
Eventually, you are probably going to expect to eat during the day, but where? And when? If the eating options in the convention center are limited, expect long lines that may cut into the event you wanted to see afterwards. It also goes without saying that the prices will be higher than normal, and the quality somewhat lower. You can bring your own food, assuming you have the energy and time to do it when you stagger back home exhausted each day, but then know that a lot of meeting rooms won't allow food or drinks. There may be only a comparative handful of tables and chairs in any convention center, and by and large you can't even sit on the ground most places, or people will come and yell at you to leave before the Fire Marshal declares you a hazard. I'm particularly bad at meal planning and have spent more than one con week subsiding on a diet of M&Ms and kettle corn.


...But Maybe You Shouldn't:
Look, there's no doubt that the healthiest thing for you is to eat regular meals, but just be aware that any time not spent getting in line can make or break you for the next thing. I remember being in one panel and discussing with the woman next to me that we both wanted to go to the book-signing right afterwards. She went to the restroom and I didn't, and that's why we ended up meeting again, this time on opposite sides of the line cut-off rope.

On Q&A:
I have seen a lot of Q&A in my time, and some of it has been very insightful, and some of it has been at least interesting, and a WHOLE LOT of it has been reeeaaally bad. People are entitled to say whatever they want, of course, but for all that is Holy, I beg you to reflect on this.

Your question might be a bad question if:
--You start off saying "well, I guess this isn't really a question..."
--The topic can really only be of any interest to you and your immediate family.
--You are requesting one of the panelists touch you in a sexual or even non-sexual manner.
--You have been talking for over five minutes and have still not gotten to anything remotely close to a question.
--What you are saying is insulting/hostile/demanding/racist/sexist/terrible.
--The moderator tries to stop you by saying "we're not answering questions on that today."
--The moderator tries to stop you by saying "NO, DON'T COME UP HERE."
--You want someone on the panel to take a selfie with you or autograph an item.
--You are rapping.


As Long As You've Got Your Health:
Con crud is a real thing. You're going to be stuck in a number of rooms and corridors with literally thousands of other people, some of whom are going to be Patient Zero for some horrific disease. You're going to be jammed into crowds where you can barely move because the cast of "Agents of SHIELD" are out on a table signing autographs and everyone wants a photo and the guy next to you is coughing non-stop into your face. Pity the poor celebrities, who are constantly assaulted with pleas for hugs/kisses/handshakes from everyone--no wonder they all charge >$100 for a picture nowadays. I actually found it fascinating that at Anime Expo (a convention I'll talk about in another blog soon) most of the predominantly Asian celebrities specified for autograph sessions "NO HIGH FIVES."

To a certain point there's nothing you can do. If you crap out and it's your turn to get some debilitating cold, you're going to get it. The best you can do for your immune system is to get as much sleep as you can, eat appropriately, and use hand sanitizer liberally. I'm also a huge believer in just holding your breath as long as you can in ultra crowded conditions--I've also considered using masks as they do in Japan, although those are more effective if the sick people use them.

As always, nothing is universal, and for many people none of these suggestions will be applicable. Some people don't have any goals or expectations going into these things, and are content to just wander around taking in the sights and then going home when the crowds become oppressive. Other people purchase priority access memberships ("Sorcerer's Package" for D23 Expo and "Master Jedi VIP" for Star Wars Celebration) which enable them to bypass the worst of the lines at a sizeable cost. That even at $2,250 the Sorcerer's Packages sold out in seconds is a measure of how valuable people find that advantage. Here, as is often the case, "money talks" and the rest of us...wait in line.

See you at the Expo!


December 28, 2015

A Tour of Walt Disney's Office Suite


Earlier this month, the Walt Disney Archives (WDA) unveiled the recently-restored suite of offices used by Walt Disney at the Walt Disney Studios.


As part of the 75th anniversary of the Studio, the WDA seized the opportunity to renovate and restore Walt Disney's original offices to the state he left them, back in 1966. As a permanent exhibit, it is a tribute to Walt Disney and a fascinating look into the working environment he personally shaped for himself.


The first of the four room suite is Walt's secretary's office, featuring her desk and filing cabinet, and an impressive award cabinet.



The various items are a mix of originals, reproductions, and occasional props from "Saving Mr. Banks." The displayed specialty honorary award Walt received for "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" is one such prop.


Moving on into Walt's formal office, one is struck by a variety of toys and figurines decorating the shelves, most of which were apparently gifts. As the place where he would commonly meet with dignitaries or heads of companies, the furniture is impressive, without being ostentatious.



While the desk side of the room had been reproduced earlier as part of the exhibit installed in the 70s for "The Walt Disney Story Featuring Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln," the opposite side (where the audience would have been) was a completely new recreation.


In the corner sits the grand piano where the Sherman Brothers used to play "Feed the Birds" whenever Walt's mood required it.


The third room was Walt's working office--where he read scripts and met with his Imagineers and planned out the future.

[Photo by Disney]

The contents of his desk have been ordered as exactly as possible to the way Dave Smith inventoried it when he started the Archives in 1970.


On the opposite wall are large photos and schematics of his future plans for both Disneyland and EPCOT.


The far wall, as also seen in "Saving Mr. Banks," has sliding doors that retract to reveal Walt's kitchen, complete with some of his favorite foods.


Finally, the fourth room was used as Walt's private quarters. As few people ever saw the inside of that room, barring his immediate family and the Disney Studio Nurse, Hazel George, this room was not recreated, and only a photo of it shows what it used to look like.


Instead, the room has been refashioned into a rotating exhibit space. This first exhibit is dedicated to Kem Weber--an architect who was a major influence on the Streamline Moderne look of the studio, down to designing the furniture and the font used throughout.



A last case in this room also holds a small assortment of Walt Disney's personal effects.


For a more in-depth view of the suite, I invite you to check out the video I took of the tour Chief Archivist Becky Cline gave to us, assisted by Disney Legend Bob Gurr and Archivist Kevin Kern.

If you have any interest in Walt Disney, I think this is a great opportunity to peer into a snapshot of time when he was arguably at the height of his powers and involved in so many projects that could have been so influential to the world around him. If your interest goes way past the common into fascination/hero worship like mine, then this is a remarkable experience to see the things with which Walt chose to surround himself; to stand where he must have stood; and to look out on the vistas he must have contemplated while devising all the myriad creations that continue to bring joy to so many worldwide.


On January 29, 2016, D23 is offering a special tour of Walt's offices with presentation and dinner at the Disney favorite, Tam O'Shanter. Details can be found at Tickets will go on sale January 4, 2016. Subsequent Studio tours will take place on April 9th, June 25th, and November 19th.


December 19, 2014

D23 Destination D: Attraction Rewind, Day 1


DESTINATION D MAGIC BAND WINNERS: Jeff Finger , Chuck Strom and Claude Herbert! Send Deb your address via the Contact Us Form:

On November 22-23, D23 held its big annual event at the Contemporary Resort in Walt Disney World, "Destination D: Attraction Rewind."

D23 Destination D Attraction Rewind Program

The emphasis on Saturday's schedule was an exploration of the 1964-65 New York World's Fair--a landmark in Disney history due to the four exhibits Disney presented there, all marvels of themed attraction innovation.

(No photography or recording was permitted during the presentations. All photos thereof are courtesy of D23.)

Early Construction at the 1964-65 World's Fair

To start us off, Historian Bill Cotter gave us a general overview in his presentation "Welcome to the World's Fair."

Worlds Fair Historian Bill Cotter

Displaying only a portion of his extensive (22,000!) collection of World's Fair photos (located online at Cotter took us on a whirlwind tour of the construction and layout of the Fair. Some of the futuristic developments the fair introduced: Phone booths, touch-tone phones, computers, carbon-free copies, and Bel-Gem waffles.

Next up were Disney Legends Marty Sklar and Bob Gurr generally discussing the Disney contributions in "Walt Disney--A Giant at the New York World's Fair."

Disney Legends Marty Sklar and Bob Gurr

With the easy familiarity born of all their cumulative years of Disney service, Sklar and Gurr shared many of their memories developing and experiencing the Fair attractions with Walt and the other classic Imagineers. Two notes they made of Walt's forethought: He had contracts drawn up to take possession of all the attractions he built after the fair for Disneyland (ending a six-year stagnant period;) and the month the Fair opened was the same month he began quietly purchasing land in Florida.

Walt Disney's its a small world New York Worlds Fair

Because neither Sklar or Gurr worked extensively on "it's a small world," video segments were played with Disney Legends Richard Sherman and Rolly Crump talking about their contributions on that attraction.

Photos of its a small world from the World's Fair

Interview with Disney Legends Bob Gurr and Marty Sklar

After a short break, Historian Stacia Martin shared with us "Disney Music Magic at the New York World's Fair."

Disney Historian Stacia Martin

Martin played a number of musical selections for us, including some of the impressive orchestral scores Buddy Baker came up with for Mr. Lincoln and Carousel, proof-of-concept recordings for the iasw roundelay, and George Bruns' many and varied musical adaptations for the Ford queue, as played by the Autoparts Harmonic.

Autoparts Harmonic Photo

The first of the Disney Fair pavilions discussed was "Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln," with 2007 Disney Ambassador and Historian Michael Kelley and Imagineer Jack Gladish.

Michael Kelley and Jack Gladish

Interview with Imagineer Jack Gladish

The two went back over the history of Audio-Animatronic development from the Buddy Ebsen "Dancing Man" footage to the problems making forehead plastic crinkle when Lincoln moved his eyebrows. (Oddly enough, no thought at all was apparently given to this when Gary Sinese taped his "Mission: Space" footage right after botox.)

Artist Rendering of Mr. Lincoln

The initial presentation of the Lincoln figure was so impressive, the Illinois Commission was able to convince Robert Moses, Head of the World's Fair Corporation, to pitch in money for it--the only financial support he gave to any exhibitor--just so he could have the pavilion in the Fair.

After lunch we reconvened to hear Bill Cotter and Bob Gurr return to the stage to talk about Walt, cars, and dinosaurs in "Ford's Magic Skyway."

Bill Cotter and Bob Gurr

Sadly, this is the one ride that did not make it back to Disneyland, as Walt apparently deemed the ride system too large to take back and fit into the park. Consequently, his contracts for the Skyway were written for him to be able to take the dinosaurs and a few other small pieces, and leave the rest.

Fords Magic Skyway at New York World's Fair

The presentation ended with a video ride through reconstruction which is the closest any of us will get to riding Ford's Magic Skyway today.

[For more concept pictures on this ride, I refer you back to a blog I wrote on the 2010 Destination D, when we were still allowed to take photos:]

Marty Sklar then returned as well, to talk with Imagineer Gary Landrum about the making of "Carousel of Progress."

Marty Sklar and Gary Landrum

The two went through a brief history of the attraction, detailing its proposed origin for the unrealized Edison Square, then its first life in Progressland, and again, to its subsequent existence in Disneyland's Tomorrowland.

Carousel of Progress

Carousel of Progress

Tim O'Day, standing in for an absent Alice Davis, had a chat with Disney Legend and assistant manager of the Disney World's Fair projects, Bill Sullivan about "it's a small world," and some of the Imagineers that worked on it.

Marc Davis, Walt Disney, and Mary Blair

Artist Rendering its a small world

Interview with Disney Legend Bill "Sully" Sullivan, Worlds Fair Historian Bill Cotter and Imagineer Gary Landrum

Next up was Walt Disney Archives Director Becky Cline, who gave us a fascinating look at some proposed projects that did not come to fruition in "Lost on the Way to the World's Fair." The highlight was a presentation of the script and concept art (long misattributed to the Tiki Room,) for a theater show pitched for the Coke Pavilion, entitled "Legends of the Enchanted Island."

Legends of the Enchanted Island

The first day of Destination D presentations then closed out with "Tomorrowland's" Supervising Art Director Ramsey Avery, discussing the work that was done for the film to reconstruct parts of the World's Fair in "A Sneak Peak at Disney's Tomorrowland."

Ramsey Avery

While they did show some footage just for the Destination D event, you can get a quick glimpse of some of their work in the recently released trailer:


Here's how you can win a special Destination D Magic Band! Simply leave a comment below about Destination D Attraction Rewind OR leave a comment on one of the videos posted in this blog between now and midnight December 24, 2014. We will pick a comment at random for the Magic Band!


...And that was just the first day! More from the second day of Destination D: Attraction Rewind, to come!

June 17, 2013 Now, more than ever.



Today, June 17, D23 is launching a completely re-worked version of its website, complete with around 98% new archival content, specifically for D23 members.


On accessing the home page, it is readily evident what content is available only for registered members, by the gold Mickey key in the corner of the article's banner.


Once the member has logged in, the background of the page turns to gold, and all the material is unlocked for perusal.


One exciting new feature is an updated electronic version of Dave Smith's Disney encyclopedia
"Disney A to Z," which is going live with 7,034 pages on launch. Another is "D'scovered," in which the Disney Archives will share photos and images often never before seen by the public. Recently, some canisters of film from Walt's desk were developed, yielding personal photos not even seen by his daughter, Diane Disney Miller--for the first 23 days, the website will display a different one each day.


Other reference materials will include a digitized version of "The Quotable Walt Disney," and a section on character profiles. If you still can't find the answer to your question, you can submit it to "Ask a Legend," in which various Disney Legends (starting off with Marty Sklar,) will do video interviews in response to fan questions.


To balance all the historical content, there will be articles on more contemporary subjects as well--audio interviews with Ginnifer Goodwin, Snow White from the ABC show Once Upon A Time, and Dr. Heinz Doofenschmirtz, Evil Mastermind from Phineas and Ferb. The "First Look" department will also focus on the new and upcoming projects from different branches of the company.


While membership is required to see the bulk of the new website content, D23 is also adding a new, free, tier of membership. Members at this level will receive, in addition to website access, opportunities to buy exclusive D23 merchandise, and discounted tickets to the D23 Expo 2013. Silver members will still receive all their usual discounts and event opportunities, and Gold members will now be the exclusive recipients of the Disney twenty-three magazine. Memberships take 24hrs to process, so count on that amount of lag time between signing up and logging in.


At the same time, D23 will also be launching three sister websites: The Walt Disney Archives, D23 Expo, and Disney Legends. Registration will not be required to access these sites.

If you have any interest in the past, present, or future of the Disney company, or if you ever find yourself in need of reference material for anything Disney, signing up for the free D23 membership versus depending on the sometimes-sketchy information on Wikipedia seems like a no-brainer. Registration can be accomplished at or

March 2, 2013

D23′s Disney Fanniversary Celebration 2013--Coming to a Town Near You!


March 1st marked the kick-off for D23's second annual Fanniversary Celebration at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank.


Disney Geek host Billy Stanek and Walt Disney Archives' Justin Arthur were the hosts for the evening, which was once again a fun commemoration of various important milestones for the Disney Company.


Among the anniversarys being celebrated were the Walt Disney Company's formation 90 years ago; Mickey and Minnie Mouse's 85th birthday; Saludos Amigos' 70th; Peter Pan's 60th; Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room's 50th; Tokyo Disneyland, Disney Channel, New Fantasyland at Disneyland, and Horizon's 30th; Who Framed Roger Rabbit's 25th; Nightmare Before Christmas' 20th; and Animal Kingdom's 15th.


Photographs and video recording were prohibited during the presentation, which included never-or-rarely seen photos of concept art, video interviews, and documentary footage. Each location will also get an opportunity to get up and personal with an item from the Archive's treasures--at our night, we were able to examine a gaucho doll made to resemble Walt Disney during the making of Saludos Amigos (securely held by Justin Arthur.)


In addition to their trademark button, D23 members were also given full-color Academy promotional brochures on Disney's latest Oscar nominees, Brave, Wreck-It Ralph, and Frankenweenie.


For fans in cities not located conveniently near Los Angeles, where D23 holds the lion's share of their events, the Fanniversary is a great opportunity to get a Cliff's Notes version of the sort of material they typically cover at their larger affairs. When asked what he thought would draw in people new to D23, Billy Stanek said he felt they would enjoy seeing some of the never-before-seen video, particularly some of the scratch footage done for Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which can currently only be viewed at this traveling show. If you enjoy learning about the history of all facets of the Disney Company--from parks to the Disney Channel to feature films--be sure to catch this entertaining show when it rolls into town.


D23's Disney Fanniversary Celebration 2013 is visiting 9 other cities throughout March and April: Boston, Chicago, San Diego, Newark, Orlando, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC. Tickets are available (for non-sold out cities) at

August 17, 2012

D23′s Destination D: 75 Years of Disney Animated Features: A Look Back.


Day One
Day Two

So now that we're (sadly) finished with one more Destination D, it's time for a look back on some of the outstanding moments in my memory.


I have to confess, when they had all the dancers/fans rush out in flash mob fashion to dance around to traditional music mixed with that oddly synthetic hip hop beat overlay they like to use for all the shows nowadays, I had PTSD flashbacks to the Disney Dance Crew moments from the 2010 Destination D ("Drink up me gangstas, yo ho!") This is not to take anything away from the performers, who were as exuberant as anyone could wish, but one of my pet peeves is the attempt to modernize tunes that were already really pretty good as they were. I am OK hearing music the way the Sherman Brothers wrote it, without having someone with a synthesizer go to town on it, and I would wonder how many people interested in 75 year old animated films might feel the same.

Fortunately, the first panel fulfilled all our yearnings for nostalgia by giving us insight into each of the "Nine Old Men" from guys who were actually there, working with them.


One interesting note Joe Hale gave us, was that the Nine Old Men originally resented the title a little, as they weren't really that old when it was given to them...but they grew into it.

A few of the panels, while still fascinating, didn't really yield entirely new information. If you saw, for example, Waking Sleeping Beauty, you already had a large amount of context for the talk on the second golden age of Disney animation. Similarly, if you had attended Comic-Con, you had already heard a lot of what they had to say about Wreck-it Ralph.


Paperman, however, presented by Producer Christina Reed and Supervising Animator Patrick Osborne, was entirely new and really a beautiful piece of work. Their new hybrid technique of animating faces in CG, removing parts and then redoing it in hand-drawn animation yielded a very clean-looking style that perfectly complimented the simple but oh-so affecting story. They said they would like to try a longer project with the same process, but still need to work out different aspects such as color, etc. Even if you weren't going to go see Wreck-it Ralph (which you should, because it looks great also,) Paperman is worth a trip to the cinema.


One of my absolute favorite panels brought three of the Imagineers responsible for Disneyland Paris (among other projects too numerous to mention) together to share stories and reminisce about their mentors in the company.


Tony Baxter spoke at length on his appreciation for Claude Coats' openness to the ideas of others, and his unflappable attitude towards the constantly changing nature of his projects--his faith that a given creation would ultimately be fine, although probably different from what he originally envisioned. His specialty was creating environments which were real, and which made good park rides.


Eddie Sotto gave a presentation on Herb Ryman--emphasizing his genius in placemaking and his insistence on research as an essential tool in grounding fantasy with elements of authenticity.


One part I found fascinating was when Sotto pointed out a pair of nuns Ryman drew for a movie storyboard...


...That seem to turn up in quite a variety of places...


It could be speculated that either Ryman was periodically placing them in the background of various renderings as an inside joke, or those two nuns wound up perpetually traveling the globe in their jeep.

The only negative about the panel was the time constraints--although the audience would happily have sat through a talk twice as long, it was clear that Tom Morris could have spoken longer about the two legends he knew personally, Marc Davis and John Hench.


Hopefully they'll have these guys back again soon...maybe for a Disneyland Paris event?

Of course the first concert of the weekend, Dick Van Dyke and the Vantastix, was wonderful. There isn't much to be said about Dick Van Dyke, except to hope that he keeps performing forever...which from the looks of him, seems entirely possible.


Among the many exciting panels of the next day, watching Andreas Deja effortlessly sketch out a number of his trademark characters was a definite highlight. Also: If you're the person who found this sketch under your seat? I hate you.


Any time you get a chance to hear from the Disney voice artists, it's always a good time--from the genial jocularity of Bill Farmer (Goofy,) to the gentle mannered tones of Lisa Davis (Anita,) to the...sounds...of Chris Sanders (Stitch.)


Davis recalled her casting as developing from a movie she did (Queen of Outer Space) with Zsa Zsa Gabor, who apparently proved to be a touch difficult, which led Davis to developing a satirical impression of her. Disney heard of this and thought it might be an interesting take on Cruella, and had her come in to read lines, while he read Anita. Quickly perceiving that she was much more Anita than Cruella, she suggested a switch and subsequently had a wonderful time preparing for the role by playing with puppies they brought in for her, in the Hyperion Bungalow.

An absolutely astounding moment was when Marge Champion was presented, as the original live-action reference model for Snow White.


Looking at her, there is no way you are going to think this woman is 93 years old. Clearly her years of activity as a dancer has stood her in good stead.

And then there was the grand finale, as Alan Menken brought it all home with a phenomenal concert. The raised seating in the back of the room was just lousy with Disney Legends, all out for a marvelous night.


(While sitting in the row in front of luminaries like Tony Baxter and Richard Sherman was good for photos, it became slightly terrifying as waves of adoring fans came racing over to greet them, clearly completely unconcerned if they had to stomp on your head to get to them, a la Gene Kelly's death in "What a Way to Go!")

Menken gave a great performance. I found that through the years, I've heard some of his songs from Mermaid or Beauty so frequently, that I actually ceased to pay attention to them anymore--they had just become part of the audio wallpaper of the parks. To really listen to them again was to remember just how good they are, and why they are played so frequently, even today.


In sum, it was a really fun weekend. The presentations that revolved mostly around video clips were a little problematic, because in this day of YouTube, it's hard to find footage to show that everyone doesn't have readily available to them...but it's always fun to see Back to Neverland or Song of the South on a big screen again.

Sunday was definitely lighter in programming than Saturday, and here's another pet peeve of mine: All throughout the show, they kept hammering at us that they listen to what everyone says, and scheduled fewer talks because people complained that they wanted more free time to socialize and use the facilities. Really? People want to pay that much for an event, and then more than anything, want to have free time? Even if they did, why wouldn't they just skip the panels in which they weren't interested? I would think that for a person who doesn't attend a presentation, there's no difference whether the content is scheduled or not--asking them not to schedule it only means no one else gets to see it. Why is it I can't see more stuff, just because you want three hours for dinner?

If the thought of waiting in lines forever at Expo gives you the vapors, but you still want to experience presentations on Disney past, present, and future, the Destination D series is a great option. You're guaranteed a seat, although people still line up for hours to jockey for location, so the stress level involved is much lower. The emphasis is on historical content however, so if you come expecting new and ground-breaking announcements about future projects, you're likely to be disappointed. For people who want to see and hear about the Legends--the creators who were there at the beginning of the Disney company, when animation was new, and theme parks were only a fool's dream--it's a treasure. A gift of lore and anecdotes from people whose pride in their work and their association with the company shines through even 20, 40...80 years later.

Don't take too long pondering over whether to attend the next one, however, because many people and their stories are gone already, and unfortunately none of us are getting any younger...with the possible exception of Dick Van Dyke and Marge Champion.


August 13, 2012

D23′s Destination D: 75 Years of Disney Animated Features: Day Two


Day One

OK, a handful of hours later, and we're back for more, at day 2 of D23's Destination D!


The day started off with animation historian Jerry Beck and animator Eric Goldberg's presentation on Wacky and Wild Disney Animation. Many of the more surreal segments of animation (such as Pink Elephants on Parade) and some of the earlier Mickey Mouse cartoons, in which he was depicted as doing comically uncomfortable things to Minnie and barnyard animals.


Next up was animator Andreas Deja, who, in Drawing with Personality, showed examples of many famous animators' drawings and pointed out how their drawing styles evolved and what their strong points of design were. He then drew several drawings which were later given away by the time-old "taped under the seat" method, and asked the audience to draw Jafar as a child.


After a short break, we came back to Tinker Bell: The Evolution of a Disney Character. In this panel, animation historian Mindy Johnson introduced us to the creation and maturation of the Tinker Bell character, revealing her new discovery of Tinker Bell's facial model, former ink and paint girl Ginni Mack. They were joined by Tinker Bell's body model Margaret Kerry, and the voice actress and director of Tinker Bell's new movies, Mae Whitman and Peggy Holmes.



Following lunch, a star-studded panel awaited in Hearing Voices: A Salute to Disney Voice Artists--Kathryn Beaumont, voice of Alice and Wendy; Lisa Davis, voice of Anita in 101 Dalmatians; David Frankham, Sgt. Tibbs from 101 Dalmatians; Bruce Reitherman, Mowgli and Christopher Robin; Bill Farmer, Goofy; and Christ Sanders, voice of Stitch.


The last presentation of the day was Snow White: Still the Fairest of Them All. In celebrating the first animated feature that made all the rest possible, Tim O'Day presented Marge Champion, live-action model for Snow White, Alex Rannie, animated musical historian, and Gabriella Calicchio, recent CEO of The Walt Disney Family Museum .


But wait! It wasn't over yet! To top off all that had gone before, the weekend culminated in an amazing concert: An Evening With Alan Menken. Playing parts of various songs he wrote for Disney and non-Disney productions throughout his career, the songwriter and Disney Legend played piano and sang for over 100 minutes to a completely rapt audience. If you weren't there, man, I feel for you, because it was fabulous.


Next time: The event in overview.

August 12, 2012

D23′s Destination D: 75 Years of Disney Animated Features: Day One



Another year has rolled around, bringing us once again to D23's Destination D weekend. This time out, the theme is celebrating 75 years of animated features with a plethora of panels discussing Disney animation of the Past, Present, and Future.

To welcome us in, Steven Clark, head of D23 gave a short address, which was then followed by a dancing flash mob.


When they finally concluded, a taped message from John Lasseter was played, pumping up the excitement for the upcoming weekend.


The first panel started off with memories of Walt and the First Golden Age of Disney Animation, with people who were actually there: Animator and Disney Legend Burny Mattinson, animator and producer Joe Hale, and documentary director/son of Disney Legend Frank Thomas, Ted Thomas.


Subsequently, came three panels during which all photography or recording were forbidden. The first was Roy E. Disney and the Second Golden Age of Disney Animation, in which Roy Patrick Disney, son of Roy E. Disney and former Imagineer; producer Don Hahn; animation producers John Musker and Ron Clements; and creative director/head of special projects Dave Bossert, discuss how Roy E. ultimately saved Disney Animation, and by extension, the company.



Upcoming animation projects were presented in the panel Inside Walt Disney Animation Studios Today.

One of the movies discussed was Wreck-It Ralph, the movie about a character's existential crisis, as experienced by a character in a video game.

Another was the work-in-progress Frozen, a contemporary musical film, loosely based on the Snow Queen. We were treated to a performance of one of the songs "Let it Go," which will be sung by Idina Menzel, from Wicked.

We were also given the first public screening of paperman, the new short film that will play before Wreck-it Ralph. It displays a new melding of CG and hand-drawn animation, in which the hand-drawn features are layered on top of CG renderings.


The next presentation, The Greatest Disney Animation You Never Saw, played videos that have been relatively scarce for some time. The preshow to the old Art of Animation attraction in then-MGM Studios, Back to Neverland, with Robin Williams and Walter Cronkite was one, along with footage from Song of the South.

Animating the Disney Parks was a terrific talk with the ever-entertaining Imagineering senior vice president Tony Baxter, talking about his mentor, legend Claude Coats; former Imagineer Eddie Sotto talking about his mentor, legend Herb Ryman; and Imagineering vice president of creative development Tom Morris discussing likewise legend Marc Davis and John Hench.


The evening closed out with a concert and screening: An Evening with Dick Van Dyke and the Vantastix, and a screening of the director's cut of Walt & El Grupo.


Dick Van Dyke is still amazingly spry for his 86 years, and if he occasionally has a senior moment during the performance (the song list of which was pretty similar to their performance at the Expo last year,) it detracts nothing from the enjoyment of the singing or his not-inconsiderable charm.

The documentary of Walt's goodwill trip to South America with his band of artistic talent is the product of Ted Thomas and producer Kuniko Okubo, and is a great look at all these famous Disney film makers when they were in their prime, and at the height of their talents.


Day Two coming up!

July 2, 2012

D23 Presents: Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.


Jeanine Yamanaka and Jason team up for this tour of the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.

Contributing photographer Jason of sends us these photos from his trip to the Reagan Library on Saturday, June 30, 2012.

Jeanine here--I also attended, and will be putting in my oar occasionally, between Jason's great photos.

This afternoon we had a great opportunity to preview the upcoming D23 Presents Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives at the Reagan Library.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

For those that do not know, the Reagan Library is located in Simi Valley which is about 45 minutes from Downtown Los Angeles.

Jason got the easy drive this time--anyone coming from the Disneyland area probably has a minimum of a two hour trip each way, assuming you don't hit a lot of traffic.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Once the group had assembled we made our way through the museum entrance and then cut over to the Disney exhibit.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Time to head in. We had just under 2 hours to walk and photograph the exhibit. Which may sound like a lot but in reality it was not. The exhibit covers over 12,000 square feet featuring over 500 items.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Before having free roam a brief introduction. In the center of this picture (sorry for the darkness no flash allowed in this first room) is John Heubusch the executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.

Photography and video were permitted throughout the exhibit, with a restriction on flash photography in the first gallery.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Steven Clark the Head of D23 was also on hand to welcome us.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

I thought it was appropriate to start at the beginning. Here is Walt's birth certificate.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Skipping ahead to Walt's Laugh O Gram Business.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

A look at Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

A couple of telegrams about Oswald.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

So here's one of mine, showing the end of the telegraph and Walt's reply. What I love about this exchange is that a) you can totally see what a jerk Mintz is, and the foreshadowing of his grab for Walt's business, and b) how reasonable Walt is trying to be, up to the end, where he clearly can't take any more of Mintz's lame suggestions, and just says "forget the monocle."

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

The next case had the animation script for Steamboat Willie.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Drawings by Ub Iwerks, typing by Walt Disney.

As well as some Brave Little Tailor sketches.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

The next room featured an animators desk.


How is this for a collection of books.. these are the restored handmade books from the opening shots of Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Across the way a wall featuring the famous drawing of Disneyland.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives


So I can't even tell you how much I love this map. It is unbelievably detailed and huge and gorgeous, and you can't even imagine that Herb Ryman drew this thing in a weekend. If you look closely at it, you can see tiny ducklings wandering around in the Jungle Cruise, and boys rolling hoops down Main Street.


I'm not saying contemporary concept art is bad, but as the farmer said to the chickens, when he showed them the ostrich egg, "you can see what kind of work is being done elsewhere."

Walt's Formal Office has been recreated. This time to the exact dimensions and arrangements (unlike the version we saw at Disneyland for years).

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Here's a link to a panorama I took as well.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives
The original Model T from the Absent Minded Professor.
Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

One of my favorite galleries was right after this--the "Magic Room." It had an abundance of props and memorabilia from The Shaggy Dog and Bedknobs and Broomsticks, including a prop portrait thought to be done by Herb Ryman, and Tommy Kirk's magical ring of the Borgias!


Might there be a hidden but familiar item in Emelius Browne's display? You'll have to go to find out.


Babes in Toyland

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

After this first set of rooms upstairs you head down stairs and into an expanded area that was constructed just for this exhibit. They actually cut a whole in the wall of the library to build this extension that sits in a tent structure.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

In this axillary area, are most of the larger set pieces, from mostly contemporary properties.
Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

To the right, 101 Dalmatians costumes and props.


Next a series of cases with the costumes worn in the Annie Leibovitz pictures.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

This Tinkerbell worn by Tina Fey.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

And Peter Pan by Mikhail Baryshnikov

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

A large gallery includes a number of costumes from a variety of recent movie/TV/theater productions.

The other side had some Enchanted costumes, and one from the Fairy Godmother in the 1997 ABC TV movie worn by Whitney Houston.



Moving on some Marquettes used for Alice in Wonderland.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Around the corner props and costumes from the film.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Next up Tron.. this is from Tron Legacy.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Thought this was interesting... not from the film but from DCA...

Both the lightcycle and the big lit "FLYNN" sign are from the lately departed ElecTRONica event there.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Some of the original Tron costumes from the 1982 film.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Next up the Avengers.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

These would probably have held more significance for us, except that Jason and I are probably the last two people in America who have not yet seen the Avengers...

The next area has some Theme Park items..


This was apparently the start of the area themed to "things from the Island of Downsized Attractions."


Thought this was an interesting corner.. the dragon head from Fantasmic, Mickey from the Mickey Mouse Revue and in the background a Country Bears poster.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

From the original Golden Horseshoe show and the Country Bears at Disneyland.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

One of Slue Foot Sue's original costumes.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Next up a Haunted Mansion display featuring mostly items from Walt Disney World.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

The tombstones chosen for display are the ones for Yale Gracey, X. Atencio, and Marc Davis.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

The center area was for Pirates.. starting where it all began with the attraction.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Then moving quickly into the film.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

This rounds out the lower level.. time to head back upstairs.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

The next room was basically a small tribute to the second Golden Age of Animation for the Disney Company, focusing on the Ashman/Menken films and Pixar.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives
Next up a room with National Treasure items.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

The National Treasure room, with its faux-Presidential connections, then leads us into...

This takes us to the last display room of the exhibit. On the left hand side busts of all the presidents from the Hall of Presidents at Walt Disney World (first time all have been on display together)

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Amazing to think that Blaine Gibson sculpted everyone one of these, except that of President Obama, who came along after he retired.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

The other side of the room features mostly items from the Reagan Library collections.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

The walls had letters from presidents to Disney and photographs of presidents at Disneyland/WDW and other Disney interactions.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

The ear hat has "Mr. President" embroidered on the back, and was a gift to Reagan from Disney. Replicas are sold in the gift store.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

A particularly adorable letter from Amy Carter on her favorite character. I suspect she got her picture.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

The one piece of EPCOT memorabilia present. We have to assume the rest of it's getting boxed up to go for EPCOT 30.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Moving on to the last room.
It featured this display of the Team Disney Building (the Eisner building) in Burbank and featured another video that I did not have time to watch.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

I made an extremely quick pass through the gift shop. Some pins for all you collectors. The gift shop had a decent crowd and we did not have time to browse/photograph items.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

I actually found the shop before our exhibit time started, so I got a few photos then.


Mainly Archive items, with mostly pins, shirts, and a catalog specific to the exhibit.


They also had a plethora of copies of Dave Smith's new book Disney Trivia from the Vault, and Bob Gurr's Design: Just for Fun on hand, for the D23 signing later that evening.


Our time in the Disney exhibit was up, it was 4:30 and time for the D23 Members event, so we exited.

On my way out, I ran into Steven Clark and Becky Cline, whose hard work with D23 and the Archives has made this impressive exhibit a reality.


Did a quick tour of Air Force One before 5:00pm and closing. For more pictures of the museum and Air Force One. visit my site..

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

One last picture on the way out. Here you can sort of make out the tent structure that was added and the stairs leading to it for the Disney exhibit.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

So ultimately, should you go? Granted, the drive from the Disneyland area is long and occasionally painful, it's a great exhibit filled with many items never seen before. Having said that, a lot of it did seem somewhat familiar--the first room, detailing Walt's early life and career was very similar to galleries you could find in the Walt Disney Family Museum. Some of the Oswald-specific items were recently displayed at the E3 convention. A few of the costumes and props have been shown at the D23 Expos and on the Disney Studios Tours.

If, however, you didn't/don't have a lot of time and opportunity to attend all these different events, then this is definitely your best bet to see a comprehensive collection of artifacts spanning the length of the Walt Disney Company's existence. I think if you were determined to read everything and watch all the videos, it would probably take you a good 3-4 hours to do it all. There is also an audio tour available as well, although no one I spoke with had listened to it, or knew how long it went (estimates were for 45 minutes.) Although I didn't have an opportunity to check out the rest of the Reagan Museum, it seems as though that could easily take up another few hours to fill out a day trip there.


Frankly, I think Disney is missing out if they do not produce some sort of a shuttle between Disneyland and the exhibit at least for the Destination D weekend--I'm sure this would be of interest to a great many attendants who might not have the means or the motor to get there.


The exhibit D23 Presents: Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives will open to the public July 6, 2012, at Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, 40 Presidential Drive, Simi Valley, CA 93065. Tickets, which include regular admission to the rest of the Reagan Library can be purchased online at or at the box office. General admission is $21, with discounts for seniors, youth/children, and military. The exhibit will run there until April 2013.

Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Disneyland Resort. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.

July 19, 2010

A Preview of the Aulani Disney Vacation Club Resort in Hawaii


So here's what I did the last couple of weeks:

On July 1st, the Disney Vacation Club had their first presentation of the Aulani resort at the Disneyland Hotel.


It started off with the first of a couple of short videos of Joe Rohde, head of the Aulani design team, describing the resort and talking a little about some of the cultural tie-ins the resort will have to Hawaii.


Aulani is translated to "the place that speaks with deep messages," and will have a variety of traditional and contemporary Hawaiian artistic influences in its design and decor. One element they noted was the concept of "hidden menehune" located around the resort, some apparently in places only easily viewable to children--under tables, etc. As a memento, we were all given small menehune figurines of our own.

Between the video clips, the DVC presenters Dave and Nikki described in quick detail the basics of the DVC program. If you've ever been to any DVC presentation, this segment is pretty much the same no matter what resort they're spotlighting, with the exception of different wacky characters that periodically race in for comic relief. This time around, we had "Tour Guide Tim," who seemed a close relative of "Guano Jane, from Flights of Wonder.


Some basic data they related about the resort:
--The 2010 purchase price is $114 per point, which will increase in November.
--Annual dues will be $4.31 per point.
--Consequently, a basic package of 160 points would cost $18,240 initially, with annual dues of $690.
--Hawaii charges a transient occupancy tax of $12-18 per night every stay, in addition to the DVC point cost.
--Parking and internet are included for DVC members, as with other DVC properties.
--All ocean view rooms are actually partial ocean views, with the exception of the Grand Villas.
--Aulani DVC owners may start booking 9/29/10, for the opening of phase I, 8/29/11.
--Phase II is scheduled to open in late 2011.

After the factual part of the presentation, they livened it up with a little singing and dancing from the islands.


Finally, they adjourned to a small reception in the next room complete with character meet-and-greets, dance party, and refreshments.




DVC agents were standing by, in case anyone had a spare 20 grand they cared to part with.

July 12, 2010

50 and Fabulous D - Swiss Family Robinson Movie - D23 Event


On 7/10/10, I attended the "50 and Fabulous" showing of Swiss Family Robinson at the Disney Studio Theater on the Burbank lot.


D23's Jeffrey Epstein welcomed us to the showing and clarified some points about the ticketing process for the newly-announced Destination D and Scavenger Hunt.


Archives Director Becky Cline then introduced the movie and gave a little background on some of the actors involved, most of which went on to feature in several other Disney films.

The movie about the shipwrecked family that winds up living in a tree, was just as entertaining as it must have been 50 years ago, which is to say, considerably. It seems like such a long time since Tarzan took over the Treehouse at Disneyland, I had forgotten how closely it resembled the actual treehouse from the movie. I am still a little dubious about the survival advantage of installing a full-blown pipe organ in a tree, but perhaps that's the magical part.

Afterward, we were allowed to shop in the Studio Store, which proved a little small for both the volume and enthusiasm of the people trying to move about inside.





Although there didn't seem to be a great deal of merchandise there that wasn't readily available elsewhere, it was a fun experience to take a look around. Of course, it's always charming to be able to wander around (in a restricted manner) the lot, as well.


Finally, we were sent off with commemorative Swiss Family Robinson patches, and the hope that we'll return for the next movie screening, the Sign of Zorro.


You can purchase the movie from the AllEars Amazon Store!

June 29, 2010

Happy 40th Anniversary, Disney Archives!


On June 25, the Walt Disney Archives celebrated its 40th Anniversary, along with the retirement announcement of its founder, Dave Smith. To commemorate the event, D23 invited its members onto the Studio Lot for a presentation and reception.

On checking in, guests were presented with a wristband and a souvenir pin, and guided over to the studio theater area. Outside the theater, a booth displaying a variety of D23 merchandise was up, along with an adjoining sales table doing brisk business. Most of the merchandise was from past events or enclosures from back issues of D23 magazine, but there were some new articles as well, such as purple and gold Archive 40th Anniversary polos.

Around 5pm we were let into the theater for the program. Steven Clark welcomed everyone and officially announced Dave Smith's intent to retire in October, which had been written up in the LA Times that morning. Bob Iger then came up and related how instrumental Dave Smith had been in acquainting him with the history and legacy of the Disney Company when he first became CEO. He then presented him with his 40 year award, a small statue of Donald Duck.

Subsequently, Leonard Maltin and Dave Smith took seats at the front of the room, and proceeded to have a conversation about Dave Smith's long tenure at Disney, with an emphasis on the early days of Roy O. Disney and The Nine Old Men. Dave initially worked at the Library of Congress after finishing his degree in Library Science, and then at UCLA, where he eventually came in contact with the Disney company while researching a bibliography on Walt Disney. After the death of Walt Disney, UCLA had apparently requested his papers for their archive, only to quickly realize that they did not have the facilities for the sheer volume of material that was involved. They suggested Disney start their own archives, and Dave volunteered to take a sabbatical from his job there to help start it up. The rest, is history.

Highlights of his career at Disney included the time Roy O Disney paid him to travel around the country and up to Canada to research the Disney family tree; riding on both Ward Kimball and Ollie Johnson's personal trains; and determining the official date of both the start of the Disney company (10/16/23,) and Mickey Mouse's birthday (11/18/28, at 1400.)

In his spare time, Dave does not collect Disneyana (he felt it would be a conflict of interest,) but does collect historical autographs, including presidents and Declaration of Independence signers (he has all of them except Button Gwinnett.)

After the Leonard Maltin discussion, Becky Cline, the new Archive Director presented awards to the Archives Angels--people who have made significant contributions to the Archives--and introduced the presentation of new acquisitions:
From ABC's Lost: Showrunner Carlton Cuse donated an Oceanic boarding pass (their offer of the Lost airplane having been denied,) and John Locke's knife.
From the Walt Disney Studios: President of Production Sean Bailey presented the Red Queen's scepter from Alice in Wonderland; the Dead Man's Chest from Pirates of the Caribbean; the Dragon Ring from the upcoming Sorcerer's Apprentice; and a disc from the upcoming Tron: Legacy.
From The Disney Channel: President of Entertainment Gary Marsh gave a wand from the Wizards of Waverly series and a jacket worn by Joe Jonas in the new Camp Rock 2: Final Jam movie.
From the Disney Family: Roy Patrick Disney, grandson of Roy O. Disney donated a personal letter from Walt to Roy following the resolution of a three year rift between them.
From Ned Nalle, Producer of Legend of the Seeker: the Sword of Truth; and from his wife, Disney child star Karen Dotrice, Jane Bank's coat from Mary Poppins.

Following the new acquisitions, a new featurette from their People and Places series was shown, entitled "Archiving the Archives." It was a fun and entertaining documentary about the collection and the people who work to accumulate and maintain all the items within it.

Finally, Steven Clark presented Dave Smith with his 40 year pin, and said that his last day wasn't officially until 10/15/10...which was two days after Dave's birthday, on 10/13*. "There's going to be a big if you want an invite, you better start sucking up to Dave now!"

We were then invited outside to a cake and champagne reception where a multitude of Disney employees--past and present--mingled with the D23 guests. People in attendance included Kathryn Beaumont, Tony Anselmo, Richard Sherman, Bob Gurr, Tony Baxter, and Daniel Roebuck. On the way out, Dave Smith was signing autographs and received the thanks of happy people grateful for his role in preserving Disney history.

*If you would like to get Dave Smith a birthday present, I suggest something with Button Gwinnett's signature on it.

March 27, 2010

D23's First Anniversary Party at Disneyland

On March 10, 2010, D23 celebrated its one year anniversary with an after-hours party in Fantasyland, exclusive for D23 members. Jeanine Yamanaka attended this event and shares this report.

The party started at 8:45pm, after the park closed to regular guests at 8pm. After checking in and receiving both a wristband and an envelope (which contained a welcome letter from Steven Clark and a press release on the recently announced 2011 Expo and the 2010 Destination D event), guests were escorted down Main Street to the hub. There, we were held at rope drop until Walt's original Disneyland opening speech was played, and a voiceover announced the start of the party, accompanied by fireworks shot off from the castle.



As the crowd mobbed across the drawbridge to the castle, people on the sides were able to see that various Disney dignitaries were waving and lining the path. People in the middle were probably trying not to get crushed in the stampede.

The area open to us was largely bounded by the border of Frontierland on one side, and the Small World arcade on the other. Although I didn't realize it at the time, Tomorrowland was also apparently open, with Captain EO running. All along the walkways were spaced decorative tables full of creatively-named desserts and coffee/water dispensers.




A cash bar was also available to those interested in imbibing, which led to some...interesting rides. (Overheard of people lurching into the Storybook Land Canal Boats: "Where are the churros?!")


On the walkway to "it's a small world", there were photo opportunities with two vehicles: Walt's original electric runabout, and the car used to transport the Honorary VoluntEARs in the parade cavalcade. Mickey, in his D23 bandleader outfit, alternately came out to pose with people as well, and generated the longest lines of the night. Right in front of IASW was parked Cinderella and her pumpkin coach as well.





For those who had only a passing interest in vehicular photography, there were also a plethora of characters interspersed around the area. Koda the bear alternated with the Country Bear Jamboree representatives, and Alice and the Mad Hatter, Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket, and the Evil Hag from Snow White all hung around outside their respective rides.




Virtually all the rides in Fantasyland except the carousel were open and running with relatively little wait. Most people seemed to concentrate on the photo opportunities and the meet-and-greets.

It was also advertised that as part of the evening, a number of Disney legends would be in attendance. Unfortunately, this part was a little awkward, as it was never really clarified what they would be doing there, or where they would be doing it. Initially, all the special guests were corralled in the Village Haus Restaurant for media interviews, and then were let out little by little as the night progressed. Another area around Dumbo was also cordoned off for media so it ended up being a little tricky to try to time it right, to be around when the celebrity you were interested in became available.

One thing that would have made it easier, is if they had given out lists of the luminaries that attended, maybe with pictures. As it was, there was no way to really distinguish them unless you knew them on sight (harder in the dim lighting they put on at night.) An easier task with more prominent characters like Tony Baxter and Richard Sherman, but more challenging with some of the less identifiable stars. Another issue was that they were all constantly being taken away to meet with more and varied media, so there was no assurance that by the time you got to the head of the line, they'd still be there. When they were available, however, all the celebrities seemed very welcoming and showed real fortitude by standing out in the cold for hours signing autographs and taking photos.

Disney Legend Bob Gurr and Steven Clark, Head of D23

Kathryn Beaumont, Voice of Alice

Disney Legend Bill Farmer, Voice of Goofy

Margaret Kerry, model for Tinker Bell

Terri Hardin, Puppeteer in Captain EO

Dave Smith, Disney Archivist

The party ended at midnight, and everyone was encouraged to exit out towards Main Street where some of the characters had been relocated to say goodbye and draw people out. As we exited the park, we were given an oversized commemorative 1st Anniversary pin, with the D23 start date and the party date printed on it.


On the whole, it was a fun event, although a little pricey at $65. I would have preferred a more formal structure to the handling of the celebrity guests, but that probably would have involved using an actual venue which would doubtless have increased the, something to hope for, at "Destination D," later this year.


September 26, 2009

D23 Expo - Making of Toy Story Midway Mania

One of the best sessions I attended at the Expo was The Making of Toy Story Midway Mania. It covered the creation of the attraction from idea through design, construction, and the final result. Really fascinating. There were four panelists who spoke: Kevin Rafferty, Robert Coltrin, and Lori Coltrin (who were quick to point out they are brother and sister), who are all Disney Imagineers, and Roger Gould, from Pixar's Theme Park Group.


I wish I had been able to video tape all of this presentation so that you could see the entire thing - it was just awesome. Deb Wills saw it with me, and she said that one presentation was worth the entire trip to California for her.

Toy Story Midway Mania - The Pitch

It started back in May 2005 when they were working on the new Radiator Springs Racer attraction for Cars Land, and wondering if they could bring some interactive components to that. They decided that wouldn't really work, so started coming up with a new attraction idea based on the idea of classic midway games instead, which involved some in-depth research at the L.A. County Fair. :-) The pull-string shooter was inspired by the Pirate Adventure at Disney Quest. They put together this Pitch to management, and got the green light really fast - within about 5 months after they had the original idea.

Toy Story Midway Mania - The Design

Once they got the go-ahead, the problem was that they had to figure out how to build it. :-) And someone also decided that while they were at it they should build one in Florida, too. They had to develop a new ride system along the way, and in the case of DCA, had to figure out how to fit it around and under the California Screamin' roller coaster without shutting the coaster down very often. In this image you can see the track layout, and how it fits around the coaster track.

In Florida they built the new Pixar Place area, and at John Lasseter's suggestion they made the entrance look like the entrance to the real Pixar Studios - even using the same type of brick.



Something I had never realized was the backstory to the attraction. Andy receives a Midway Games play set for his birthday - and you see the box for this set up on the floor as you exit the attraction in California:


When Andy is called away the toys decide to set up and play with the set themselves. The Mr. Potato Head Broadway Barker is actually an additional figure, and "sold separately" - you can see his rather boxy stand and backdrop.


Buzz, Woody, Jessie, Bo-Peep, Ham, Rex, Wheezy and the Green Army Men play host to the various midway games. We, the guests, are the other toys who are invited in to actually play the games - shrunk down to toy-size, of course. In California, as you leave the loading area and enter the attraction, you go through an entrance that looks just like the box.


Toy Story Midway Mania - The Animation

The look of the attraction is inspired by a game that one of the designers had as a kid, called Snoopy and the Red Baron, with what appear to be cardboard backdrops, stickers, and pieces made of single color molded plastic.

One issue they ran into with having two hosts for each game, but also two game screens, was the "Doppelganger Problem". As the car pulls into the game, players can briefly see both screens...and if both hosts are on both screens - then there's the Evil Doppelganger. :-) They solved this by having only one host per screen until the vehicles get pulled in, and then the other host magically jumps in to the scene.


The practice game was the most complicated from the animation point of view, because that's the only time that the players are actually firing at the hosts (who are holding targets in front of them), and they want to avoid a host getting a pie in the face! But people (including Roger's son) have figured out that if both players gang up on one of the hosts, one shooting at the head and one at the feet, they can overcome that. That doesn't seem very nice! :-)

In their test group, they noticed that young children were initially reluctant to break the plates. That's when they added the line where Sarge yells: "I am not your mother -break those plates!". Problem solved. :-)

Something I had never noticed in that same scene...if you watch the green army guys, they are actually working hard to clean up the plate shards as plates are shattered all around them!

Scoring has two components - point score and accuracy. Accuracy was a late addition to the scoring, because they found that some of their testers (cough...executives...cough) didn't shoot very fast so didn't get many points, but when they did shoot, they were very accurate.

Another fun thing during the scoring stop - watch what happens to Woody and Buzz after the "prizes" are awarded. There's so much more depth and detail to this attraction than I had ever noticed before!

Toy Story Midway Mania - Construction and Production

This is the first blacklight show viewed with 3D glasses, which made mixing the paint colors more of a challenge - everyone involved was carrying 3D glasses around with them when they were inside.

Below: Big smile from the boss - must be doing something right!


Toy Story Midway Mania - The Music

Listen to the music - while the music throughout the attraction is "You've Got a Friend in Me", there are different versions depending on what game it is - a more western-sounding version for Woody's Shooting Gallery, and a spacey-theme for Buzz Lightyear's game.

Kevin Rafferty and Roger Gould spent more than 30 hours with Don Rickles as he recorded all of the dialog for the Mr. Potato Head figure. Rickles had some choice comments about the whole experience. :-)


It was really a wonderful session - as far as I'm concerned, this is the kind of thing that D23 should be all about.

September 14, 2009

D23 Expo Day 3, Part 2

I'm writing on Monday about events that took place on Saturday, two days ago, but it feels like two weeks ago! It was a very full weekend.

So...when we left our intrepid reporters they had been shut out of the Princess and the Frog presentation on Saturday afternoon.

DebK and I chatted with Jeanine for a while and then I headed down to the exhibit hall to get in line for "The Making of the U.S. Presidents" session. I can't remember if I mentioned this before, but demand for sessions in the Storytellers Theater (the smallest venue) was so high that they had moved the queue downstairs to an unused part of the exhibit floor. Of course that meant they had to ferry us all upstairs and into the theater, but they really did a good job of getting us in there and still getting the presentations started about on time. Especially considering it was a process they developed on the fly after seeing what the lines were like on Friday and Saturday morning.

I met DebW in line and while we were waiting we had a wonderful chat with Wayne and Jennifer who had come all the way from Australia to attend the D23 Expo!

The session started off appropriately enough as "Hail to the Chief" started playing. First on stage were Eric Jacobson, Pam Fisher, and Kathy Rogers, who talked about the process of updating the Hall of Presidents attraction at the Magic Kingdom with the new President Obama figure. In addition to adding the new president they changed some other parts of the attraction as well.

The focus of the Hall of Presidents has never been about political parties or politics - in the past it's been more about the history of the United States, and now there's more of an emphasis on the bond between the President and the people, and what the Oath of Office means. They consulted Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin in putting together the updated attraction, and added another speaking figure: George Washington, who offers the oath of office to President Obama. Actor Morgan Freeman narrates the current version.

The creative team traveled to Washington D.C. to meet President Obama and to record his speech for the attraction. Apparently he really didn't know what an "audio-animatronic" was, but thought it was cool when they told him he was going to be a robot. :-)

After they met with Obama they got a private tour of the White House, or as they called it, "Imagineers Gone Wild". They lounged on the sofas, bowled in the bowling alley, and had a great time - apparently the Secret Service agent escorting them said it was the most fun tour he'd been on in a long time!


Imagineers Tony Baxter and Josh Shipley discussed the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln attraction, which should reopen at Disneyland in December. They went back to actor Royal Dano's original voice recording of the Gettysburg address and found a recording of Paul Frees that they used with it, as you can hear in this clip. (Sorry about the big head in the middle of the screen at the end - I was cursed the last couple of days of the Expo and always seemed to get stuck behind some tall guy with a big head.)

The Civil War piece "Two Brothers" will be returning - it's been redone in HD.

For the finale, they looked at a lot of pieces of music, but finally settled on the original Battle Hymn of the Republic. They said that it will be "magically stereo".

After the show "ends" and they open the exit doors, they said that there will still be music going on if people want to stick around - it sounds like this is where they will do the video montage to the music of Golden Dreams (same music as the American Adventure at Epcot).

I met Lee in Studio 23 after that for a session called "Lost Chords - Never Heard Music from Disney Animation", hosted by Russell Schroeder, who also authored a book on the subject. They had a choir and a vocal ensemble made up of Cast Members who performed a number of songs for us. Some were from familiar movies like Dumbo, Mary Poppins, and Cinderella, while a couple were from movies that were never made.

It was really fascinating - we learned that creating the music for a movie starts at the beginning, before there's anything at all on film, and so there's a lot of music written for a film that just doesn't make it to the final movie. There were a lot of reasons for this and he gave us a number of examples:

For Sleeping Beauty, there was a complete set of songs written, but when Walt Disney decided to go with the Eyvind Earle look for the movie, the songs no longer "matched", so they went with the Tchaikovsky style instead. Even then, there was at least one song written in the Tchaikovsky style that didn't end up fitting into the movie. The singers performed three different "lost" songs from Sleeping Beauty: "Sleeping Beauty", "Sunbeams", and "Evil-Evil".

There was a song written for Tramp to sing, but they eventually decided that he just wasn't a singing kind of guy.

For Pinocchio, there was a song we heard called "Rolling Along to Pleasure Island", which was removed when they changed that scene into a conversation between Pinocchio and Lampwick to provide additional character development.

Or sometimes the actor voicing the character changed, so their song had to change - this happened with The Aristocats. Louis Armstrong was originally set to voice the cat jazz band leader (called Satchmocat), but he became ill, so Scatman Crothers took the role of Scatcat, and the song written for Armstrong, Le Jazz Hot, gave way to Ev'rybody Wants to Be a Cat.

Lee put together a video medley of the 15 different songs we heard to give you an idea of what they were like. There were a couple that I thought were very good. There was one I wish he had taped all of - it was from Sleeping Beauty, in which the fairies sang their blessings on the baby...or curses, in Maleficent's case! I thought the Maleficent part was especially good. Included in its entirety is the song "Evil-Evil" from Sleeping Beauty, which is sung by the Goons and Maleficent.

In addition to the singing the presentation included a lot of photos and concept art that went with the lost songs. One project that got pretty far into development was The Rainbow Road to Oz, set to star some of the original Mouseketeers in the roles of Dorothy (Darlene), Ozma (Annette), the Patchwork Girl (Doreen), the Scarecrow (Bobby), and the Cowardly Lion (Jimmie). In addition to music they even did some costuming for this one, and there were stills of all of them in their costumes. The song they performed from this one was called "A Voice to Sing With."


There was some wonderful concept art for a film that was never made called The Tale of a Mouse. It was based on the story about the town mouse and the country mouse. Maybe it's just me, but I found it stunningly beautiful. The song was called "This is Home".





I think of all the sessions I saw all weekend this one had the most "heart". You could just tell that it was a labor of love for everyone involved: Richard Schroeder, who did so much painstaking research, and the singers, arranger, director, and accompanist who took the time to rehearse and perform the music.

It had been a long day and we were pretty tired by then. So we all took the night off, and the Debs and Lee and I had a lovely dinner at Catal in Downtown Disney. I'd never eaten there before, but I really enjoyed it - we all did. And as an extra bonus, we could see the fireworks from Magical from our table! It was a wonderful way to end the day.

D23 Expo - Day 4, Plus This and That

As usual, not enough time to write everything I'd like to write about, so just a few things.

Lee's been busy editing video, so we have a few new videos on youtube from Jay Rasulo's Imagineering the Future of Disney Parks talk that we'd like to share with you:

The Fantasyland Expansion:

Star Tours II at Disneyland (unfortunately he had to change the camera battery just before this started so he missed the beginning):

And the new Cars Land at Disney's California Adventure:

Today - the final day of the Expo. Deb Wills and I attended the Making of Toy Story Midway Mania talk. It was wonderful. Deb said that talk alone was worth the trip to California. The four speakers, Imagineers Kevin Rafferty, Robert Coltrin, Lori Coltrin (who are siblings, not husband and wife), and Roger Gould of Pixar's Theme Park group, described the development of the ride from concept through design, construction, and completion. It was really fascinating - I plan to do an entire blog on it - I learned so much about the ride and the story and details within the ride that I never noticed.


Next we attended John Lasseter's talk on the Future of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation. John Lasseter is the "Chief Creative Officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios" (among other titles). There weren't really a lot of surprises or announcements in this one, but I have to say that the future of Disney animation looks really good.

There were a lot of clips, including a few that had never been seen before, so no cameras were allowed inside and we have only this image provided by Disney to show you.


We saw an all-new trailer for the 3D versions of Toy Story 1 and 2, which was all-newly developed and not actual footage from the movie. Short, but very entertaining, as the Toy Story characters have fun playing with being 3-D - like reaching into the audience.

In Toy Story 3, coming out June 18, 2010, Andy has grown up and is headed off to college, and decides to donate his old toys to a daycare center. These kids make Sid look gentle!

A grown-up John Morris returns as the voice of Andy. And of course there are a bunch of new toys, voiced by actors such as Ned Beatty, Bonnie Hunt, and Whoopi Goldberg. The character of Barbie is back, and this time she's joined by Ken, voiced by Michael Keaton. We saw a very amusing clip that they "found" called "Groovin' with Ken", where he talks about how good it is to be him, and how he's a man's man. He ends the "interview" when the interviewer points out that on his box, Barbie's name is a lot bigger than his. :-)

Another new character is Mr. Prickle Pants, a lederhosen-wearing hedgehog thespian voiced by Timothy Dalton(!). That looks like fun.

We saw a brand-new trailer that was 100% scenes from the movie. It looks we're in for a lot more fun times with the Toy Story gang.

Walt Disney Animation Studios is bringing back Winnie-the-Pooh in a new movie. They went back to the original A.A. Milne books and chose some new story lines. This movie will be all hand-animated to match the original style of Winnie-the-Pooh and the Honey Tree and Winnie-the-Pooh and the Blustery day, including the watercolor backgrounds. Bernie Madison, an animator who worked on the original Honey Tree movie (and looks a bit like Pooh!) is working with new artists to recreate the classic look. They showed a bit of the older movies - I'd forgotten how clever they were with things like bringing the pages of the book into the movie and having characters jump from one page to the next, or slide down the edge of several paragraphs. That one should hit the screen in spring 2011.

We saw a new Cars Toon, directed by John Lasseter - he said he enjoys these so much that he directs them himself. This one is in the series of Mater's Tall Tales, and was called Unidentified Flying Mater. Really cute.

Cars 2 is scheduled for summer, 2011. John Lasseter was traveling the world promoting a film, and when looking out his hotel window at the streets below he wondered what would happen if Mater was driving in a foreign country - how would he deal with the Autobahn, or French roundabouts, or dodging motor scooters in Italy - or driving on the left side of the road in the UK. In Cars 2, Lightning McQueen is invited on a world racing tour with Mater as his crew chief (and of course other inhabitants of Radiator Springs come along, too!). Mater gets caught up in an espionage thing with a super-sleek and gadgety spy car named Finn McMissle. The story starts with a race in Japan, then moves on to Germany, Italy and Paris before ending in London. It looks really clever and a lot of fun!

John Lasseter may be best known for his work in computer animation, but his roots are in classic hand-drawn animation, and they are bringing that back to Walt Disney Animation Studios with movies like the upcoming The Princess and the Frog. This also marks the return of the musical to a Disney animated feature. We saw some new footage of the bayou scene. Fun stuff.

There is going to be a whole sequence of Tinker Bell movies - each related to a different season of the year. The first movie was set in spring, the next one, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, is set in the fall. Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue will be set in summer, and Tinker Bell and the Mysterious Winter Woods is set in winter, where Tinker Bell will encounter a whole new set of fairies. Tinker Bell - Race Through the Seasons is set on Leap Day - the one day every four years when the fairies get a day off and play the fairy version of the Olympics. These are all direct-to-video releases over the next several years.

Of the fairy tale princesses instantly recognizable by name, the one Disney hasn't yet done is Rapunzel. But that changes during the 2010 holiday season. Rapunzel will be the 50th feature animation film and the first computer-animated fairy tale and the first CGI musical. This Rapunzel has spunk and "lots of girl power" - she's not just waiting for a prince to come. One of the "characters" in the film is Rapunzel's 70 feet of hair.

Mandy Moore is the voice of Rapunzel and Zachary Levi (from the Chuck tv series) provides the voice of her "rescuer" Flynn.

Prep and Landing is a new holiday special coming to ABC this holiday season. Apparently Santa Claus has an elite force of specially trained elves who prepare each house for Santa's arrival - making sure the kids are asleep, the milk is the proper temperature, and that any dogs won't cause trouble. We saw a short clip - this looks like it's going to be a hoot and a half, and I'm really looking forward to it.

He finished by showing us another Cars Toon - Heavy Metal Mater. Never knew that Mater was in a heavy metal rock band, did you? :-) Their big hit was "Dadgum".

Deb Koma, Lee and I tried to go to the Muppets Presentation, but the Lasseter talk ran long enough that we didn't get up there in time to get in line before the theater reached capacity. It was VERY popular. I'm sorry we missed that...we all love the Muppets!

Lee and I had to head back to San Diego after that since we have had tickets for months to see Spamalot tonight! Though I kept wanting to yell: "Grail, grail, grail...uhhhhh" every time they said "Holy Grail"... :-)

More on the Expo and a wrap-up coming "soon".

(Yes, I know I said at the beginning this would be "just a few things". But I got on a roll!)

September 13, 2009

D23 Expo - Day 3, Part 1

We're having a great time but getting tired - there is so much to do and not enough hours!

Haven't had much time do any video editing, and only a little photo editing, so this is going to be a little less complete than I would like.

Back to Saturday's events...

We headed over to the Expo about 8:15 where we met up with Deb Koma. Lee went off to the "Who Wants to Be an Imagineer" presentation, while Deb and I went down to the exhibit hall for a while.

Where I got to meet Lucky the Dinosaur. He is so cool!!! He purrs if you scratch him under his chin, and he really seems to look at you and react to what you are doing.

I went to the Disneynature event at 10:00, presented by Paul Baribault. They are doing some beautiful, beautiful films, working with the leading filmakers in nature films like Alister Fothergill and Mark Linfield (who did Earth for them). And they are using new camera technology that allows them to get very stable images from a helicopter, even when the 'copter isn't that close to its subjects.

Coming over the next few years are:

2010: Oceans, which will be released on Earth Day, 2010. The footage we saw is absolutely stunning - the colors, the amazing


2010: The Crimson Wing - Mystery of the Flamingos, filmed in Tanzania

2011: Hidden Beauty - this is about the pollinators - bats, bumblebees, hummingbirds, and butterflies (and now I have the "We're pollinators" song from "it's tough to be a bug" going through my head!")


2012: African Cats - Kingdom of Courage. Filmed in Kenya, which is the only place lions, cheetahs, and leopards all live in relatively close proximity. They had just gotten some footage back from their first season of watching the various cat families, so we got to take a look at some of it. I love cats, so this one looks especially interesting to me!


2013: Chimpanzee - they are working with Jane Goodall as a consultant, filming in West Uganda and the Ivory Coast of West Africa.

With each film, Disney is making available educational materials for free, designed for teachers or other groups to use (there were some Girl Scout people in the audience who were interested in that.)

I didn't attend Jay Rasulo's Imagineering the Future of Disney Parks session since we had other people covering that...but I'm sure by now you've heard the big announcements: the big Fantasyland expansion at Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, and the new version of Star Tours that will be coming to Disneyland.

I wanted to attend the Science of Imagineering session, which started shortly after Rasulo's talk was supposed to end, and given the lines to get into the small venue for it, I knew I needed to be in line early.

This session is actually something that Disney developed about a year and a half ago which is aimed at kids, and getting them interested in math and science, but there was still plenty of interesting stuff for those of us who are kids at heart.

So they brought out some of their "toys". First off was a session on roller coasters, where they brought out the Force Vector Simulator and demonstrated it with the help of a volunteer from the audience. I have a video of this, but can't get it uploaded in time...sorry.


There were also sections on special effects (acoustics), fireworks, biology, and computer simulation. On our way out, everyone in the audience received one of Disney's educational DVDs: The Science of Disney Imagineering: Fluids. Apparently there's 8 other DVDs in the series, with such topics as Levers and Pulleys, Gravity, and Energy. It was a lot of fun - there is an encore presentation today.

I happened to catch up with Deb Wills and we wandered the exhibits a little bit, where I had a close encounter with a storm trooper.

DebK and I tried to see the Princess and the Frog session at 3:00, but there was a HUGE line. And as it turned out, they took all recording devices away from everyone (which they had NOT announced prior), so so the presentation started an hour and a half late!

That's all I have time for now!

September 12, 2009

D23 Expo - Day 2, Part 2

Back to Day 2 of the Expo.

One thing I didn't mention...except for the Arena, most of the rooms for the presentations are pretty small - seating maybe 500 people at most, so it's hard to get into most of the sessions without lining up at least 30 minutes in advance.

After lunch we wanted to see Steven Davison's World of Color presentation, but the line was very long,,,fortunately we did get in, though we were towards the back of the room.

Now, some of you might say: "You've already seen Steven Davison do two presentations of World of Color...why are you going again?" Because he is just so amazing to watch - he throws himself into these things and he comes out exhausted afterwards. And then there's the fact that there are some new pieces of information each time - this session was no different.

The main things that I hadn't heard before:

A laser light show will open the show.


There are two projection screens to provide depth: a 400' wide one in the back, and a 300' wide one i front.

They are *still* installing fountains in the park - he wouldn't tell us the exact number, but said they are about 75% complete.

Amy Grant will be the "voice" for the World of Color.


At the end of the presentation, Mr. Davison acted out the Spring Sprite/Pocahontas sequence, which you can see here:

This looks like a more amazing show every time I see more of it.

Deb Wills and I attended the press conference afterwards, featuring Steven Davison and World of Color's show producer, Sayre Wiseman. Even there I learned some things that weren't in his presentation...I have video of it, but haven't been able to get it to upload yet. A couple of things: At the end of the show, the fountains (who are the actors in the show) will take their bows. And there are going to be different encores available - likely when a new movie has been released there will be an encore available.

Lee and I went to the Tron Legacy presentation. But he's the one with all of the notes on that. It is pretty amazing how so many of the things we saw in Tron in 1982 are things that we live with daily now - we live a lot of our lives in a virtual world!


He stayed to watch the original Tron movie while I went to the Disney Rarities session. This was hosted by Don Hahn and Dave Bossert, and featured a number of short films that have rarely been shown, or haven't been seen in a long time. They several times called them "oddities" rather than rarities - and some of them were decidedly odd!!!

During World War II, the Disney Studios made over 200 training/propaganda films for the U.S. War Department and the Canadian National Film Bord. We saw the opening for a training film made for the Canadians, on an anti-tank gun. It was definitely NOT politically correct, and featured a belching cartoon Hitler popping up out of a tank and jeering at the opposing army - until they blasted him and his tank to Hell (literally!) with their guns. At the end, Hitler ranted and raved in Hell while an amused devil looked on.


The next film was called Winged Scourge, about combating malaria, and featured a giant bigger-than-a-house-sized mosquito. Demonstrating mosquito-control techniques were the Seven Dwarfs, and what makes this film unusual is that rather than using stock animation, animators developed new footage just for this movie. But don't try these techniques at home - some of them involve known carcinogens.



Another odd film was begun in 1946 as a collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali, but it was not finished until 50 years later. It was called Destino, and featured a female dancer, her lover, and a baseball bat, among other decidedly surrealistic images.


There was also a sequence called "One-by-One", which was developed as part of a concept for a new Fantasia movie based on World music. Also a short called Lorenzo, about a cat whose tail was cursed, and is driving him crazy because it (the tail) wants to tango constantly. That was truly weird. Last was an unfinished Mickey cartoon from the 1950s called "Plight of the Bumblebee". This one was all pencil sketches and pretty rough still.

It was getting close to 7:00 by then, but I took a quick turn through the Treasures of the Disney Archives, since it was right there. Lots of costumes - like Annette's and Cubby's Western Day costumes from the Mickey Mouse Club, Mary Poppins' "nanny" costume, ball gowns from Broadway's Beauty and the Beast and the Princess Diaries, and, one of my favorites, Guy Williams' Zorro costume.

The be-jeweled Sleeping Beauty storybook was there, as well as Fess Parker's coonsking cap. And there was a dislay case of crowns...from Princess Diaries there was Queen Clarice's and Mia's crowns, plus Fat Louie's (Mia's cat) little crown! Too cute. There was a case of swords, too - Excalibur, Peter's Narnia sword, Prince Caspian's sword, Will Turner's and Barbossa's sword, and even Barnaby's twisty sword from Babes in Toyland. No pictures allowed in there, unfortunately.

So that was our first day - it was pretty overwhelming and busy. I have to say that for the most part the Expo has exceeded my expectations - there is a lot of content available. I am disappointed in the size of a lot of the venues, though - they don't come close to meeting the demand for many of the presentations. I haven't had much of a chance to get to the exhibits, so I hope to do more of that (and meet Lucky the Dinosaur and the larger version of Wall-E) later in the weekend.

D23 Expo - Day 2, Part 1

It's Day two of the Expo, but only day one for Lee and me, since we didn't arrive until today.

I have pages and pages of notes, and we have lots of video that we are trying to get processed, so this isn't complete.

We arrived at the Expo this morning about 8:00 and had some time to wander around before our first session. So we met up with Deb Koma:


And I got up close and personal with Herbie the Love Bug:


We met Deb Wills for the Disney Cruise Line session. As I'm sure you've heard by now, the big announcement was that the Wonder will be doing Alaska cruises in spring/summer 2011. They showered us with a bunch of snowflake confetti for that! :-)


Donald Duck was the special guest, and there was a special surprise for Donald, too:

This statue will grace the atrium in the new ship, the Disney Dream.

Other items in my notes...some of the special excursions for the European/Mediterranean cruises this summer are a Princess and Princess Ball in St. Petersburg Russia, a performance of the St. Petersburg ballet, kids get a chance to paint their own fresco in Florence, adults can take a cooking class in a Tuscan farmhouse, and there's a treasure hunt in Tunis.

In the future, there will be some trips that are a combination of Adventures by Disney and the Disney Cruise Line - there will be more information on that in the near future.

The Alaska cruises will start in Vancouver, and visit Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and the Tracy Arm Fjord. Excursion opportunities will include the Alaskan Railway, salmon fishing, and panning for gold.

The Disney Magic will be returning to the Mediterranean again for 10- and 11-night cruises in 2011.

Castaway Cay is getting a makeover in 2010. There will be a new Pelican Plunge water slide and the "Spring-a-Leak" water play area. Teens get a new hangout called "The Hideout". There will be some private beach cabanas available for guests to reserve - some on the adult beach at Serenity Bay, and some on the family beach. The cabanas come with a personal host.

The new ships, the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy, launch in 2011 and 2012 respectively. They are 50% larger than the Magic and the Wonder.

After the Cruise Line event we had a little time to wander around the Exhibit Hall. There's a great Lego booth where they are building various things out of Legos - like this statue of Buzz Lightyear:


And in the Disney Technology Magic area I got to interact with Wall-E - they had a small one that is remotely operated and does all kinds of cute things. He was adorable.

And there's a tea table set up for a meet and greet with characters from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, where I had a tete-a-tete with her Majesty, the Queen of Hearts. I asked if there was going to be a croquet game, and she said no, that unfortunately all of the hedgehogs had run off with the guinea pigs from G-Force. :-)

The major event of the day was the Walt Disney Studios presentation in the Arena. Oh my. It was amazing. Disney pulled out ALL the stops for this one! We were not allowed to have any cameras, so this is all from my notes, with a few photos Disney hs made available to us.

The presentation began with about a 20-minute video montage, set to movie music played by a live orchestra accompanied by live singers. There were lots of movies that I'd forgotten had anything to do with Disney (having come out under different labels), like Three Men and a Baby, Crimson Tide, and Pretty Woman. And then there were scenes from classics like Mary Poppins, Pollyanna, and Lady and the Tramp.

Dick Cook, President of Walt Disney Studios, talked about, and showed us, all kinds of things.

The movie theater at the Disney Studios in Burbank will be open to the public for special showings of The Princess and the Frog from November 25-December 13.

Wild Hogs 2 comes out in 2010.

We saw a preview of the new "A Christmas Carol" movie in 3-D. Robert Zemeckis came out and said that he wanted to present the movie like Dickens imagined it.

There will be a new version of "The Beatles Yellow Submarine", also directed by Zemeckis, and in 3D.

There was a very funny preview of Old Dogs, starring John Travolta and Robin Williams. John Travolta, his wife Kelly Preston, and their daughter Ella Blue all appear in the movie, and they all came out together to a very warm reception from the audience.


Next up, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, which will also be in 3-D. Tim Burton was on-stage briefly, and said that at one time he worked in Disney Animation as an in-betweener. He said this new movie uses live action and animation, mixing technologies differently.

Johnny Depp plays the Mad Hatter: to quote Dick Cook: "Every time we've put [Johnny Depp] in a funny hat it's always been golden." The movie starts March 5, 2010.

One of my favorite parts of the presentation starred the Muppets. First Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, and Pepe the Prawn appeared on the big screen looking down at and talking to Dick Cook - until Pepe told him to "go green light something" and he went off-stage. Then the curtains opened, to reveal a scaled-down version of the Mark Twain with Pepe, Gonzo, and Fozzie Bear looking out the front...and as it turned the corner, it revealed a whole bunch of Muppets looking out from the side. Kermit finally appeared in the pilothouse and they sang a version of Rainbow Connection (I love that song!). There will be an all-new Muppet movie coming soon: "The cheapest Muppet movie ever made" according to the ad on the screen. :-)


Jerry Bruckheimer came out and we saw footage from Prince of Persia - Sands of Time, which opens May 28, 2010.

Then Nicolas Cage talked about the movie Sorcerer's Apprentice - he is a huge Fantasia fan, and doing this live action version was his idea - he's also one of the producers. July 16, 2010 for that one.


Next we saw footage from the new Disneynature film called Oceans, opening on Earth Day, 2010. Incredible stuff!

Dick Cook announced a new label that Disney is forming with Guillermo del Toro: Disney Double Dare You. This is supposed to be sort of spooky, sort of scary - Lee calls it "Light Horror". We got video clip of del Toro who is in New Zealand right now filming The Hobbit. The first release will be called "The Troll Hunters", and it's based on an original idea of del Toro's.

Miley Cyrus came on-stage where she performed her hit song, "The Climb" live for us, and talked briefly about her role in the movie The Last Song.


We saw some footage from Tron Legacy 3D, which comes out next year, I think? Jeff Bridges reprises his role as Flynn.

Disney has made an agreement with Dreamworks Studios to produce up to 6 pictures a year under the Touchstone label.

Andrew Stanton of Pixar will be producing a trilogy of movies based on the John Carter of Mars books by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Jerry Bruckheimer is producing a new Lone Ranger movie with Johnny Depp as Tonto, slated for summer of 2011.

And the finale of the event...cue the Pirates of the Caribbean music, the curtain rises and we see a figure on board ship silhouetted behind a sail...the ship turns, and it's Captain Jack Sparrow - Johnny Depp himself!!! Huge cheers from the audience! The fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie will be called: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Strange Tides. Captain Jack came down and spoke a little bit - he'd seen a talking frog earlier and was wondering "Where has the frog gone?" Dick Cook enticed him off-stage with the promise of rum. :-)

It was an amazing, amazing presentation!!!

There was more from today...but that's all I have time for now

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This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in the D23 - Official Disney Fan Community category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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