Sunday, May 30, 2010

Walt Disney: One Man's Dream Virtual Tour

December 15, 1966 - Walter Elias Disney passes away

Almost spiritually, a phenomenon occurred at Walt's park that evening. That was the night that the Christmas Parade stepped off for the first time. Don Payne, a former cast member said: "we were standing back behind where Walt's apartment was and it started snowing! In the work lights, you could see flakes of snow drifting down. They never hit the ground, but we were all looking, thinking, 'How freaky is this? It doesn't snow in Anaheim!' It was cold and it was snowing."

Walt Disney: One Man's Dream, in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, is a multimedia gallery attraction with 400-plus artifacts where you can take a self-guided tour through the exhibits of photographs, audio interviews and memorabilia that tell the story of Walt Disney.

Today, my tribute is this Virtual Tour through the One Man's Dream.

Over the years, D23's Scott Wolf has spoken to many Cast Members who were with the Company at that time. They all remember that day vividly. Disney Legend X Atencio remembered: "December 15 was traditionally when I bought my Christmas tree. When I got home here and got to thinking about it and sat, I just bawled my eyes out." Disney Legend Harriet Burns remembered that as soon as she heard the news, "tears squirted out of my eyes… we knew he had gone back to St. Joseph's Hospital but he had been there back and forth from time to time and had little things done. This was only 10 days after he'd been in for a meeting."

Connie Swanson Lane, who was the Disneyland Ambassador at the time, recalled: "It was like losing a family member. Very difficult. Most of us stayed at work because that's what Walt would have wanted us to do. The flag was lowered at half mast. It was very, very hard, and I stood at Town Square for the retreat that night until the flag was totally lowered. It was my way of saying goodbye."

Walt Disney Passport

Walt E. Disney Timeline

1901 – Walt Elias Disney is born in Chicago, IL on december 5.
1906 – The Disneys move to Marceline, MO to live on a farm.
1910 – Elias has to sell the farm.
1911 – They move to Chicago. Walts draws pictures for the Mckinley High School Newspaper and attends evening classes at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.
1918 – Walt lies about his age to be accepted into the American Ambulance Corps and serves in France following the end of World War I.
1919 – Walt moves to Kansas City and gets a job at the Pesmen-Rubin Commercial Art Studio for $50 a month.
1920 – Walt meets Ub Iwerks and forms Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists but it fails after one month. Walt creates Newman Laugh-O-gram, which produces advertising and topical shorts and story cartoons.
1922 – Walt incorporates Laugh-O-gram, with $15,000.
1923 – Laugh-O-gram goes bankrupt. Walt moves to Hollywood. He establishes the Disney Brothers Studio with Roy Disney and lands a contract for the “Alice Comedies” where a girl filmed in live action interacts with animated characters.
1924 – Walts hires animators, including Iwerks.
1925 – Walt and Lilian get marries.
1926 – They rename the studio Walt Disney Studios and move to a new building on Hyperion Avenue, the birthplace of some of Disney’s greatest films.
1927 – Oswald the Lucky Rabbit is created.
1928 – Walt creates Mickey Mouse and produces Steamboat Willie, the first cartoon to synchronizes sound and animation.
1929 – Mickey becomes a national sensation and Walt launches Silly Symphonies.
1930 – Mickey related merchandise is launch.
1931 – Membership in the Mickey Mouse Club passes one million people.
1932 – Walt acquires exclusive use of three-strip Technicolor for cartoons and incorporate the technology in his films.
1933 – Three Little Pigs, the 36th “Silly Symphony” is distributed. “Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?” becomes a national anthem for the Great Depression. Lilian Disney gives birth to Diane Disney.
1936 – Lilian and Walt adopt Sharon Disney.
1937 – Disney Studios develops the Multiplane Camera.
1938 – Disney Studios acquires a 50-acre lot in Burbank, CA for a new studio. Walt’s mother, Flora, dies.
1940 – Pinocchio and Fantasia.
1941 – Dumbo. Walt goes to South America and his father dies.
1942 – Bambi and Saludos Amigos.
1946 – Song of the South.
1948 – Seal Islands premieres. The first of the “True-Life Adventures”.
1950 – Cinderella.
1953 – Disney creates the Buena Vista Film Distribution Company.
1954 – Walt buys 244 acres of land near Anaheim, CA to be site for Disneyland.
1955 – Lady and the Tramp – The first widescreen animated film. Disneyland opens with more than 1 million guests in 2 months.
1964 – Mary Poppins.
1965 – Walt Disney Studios purchases land in Orlando, FL for EPCOT which leads to the creation of Walt Disney World.
1966 – Walt dies on december 15.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Sherman Brothers at Disney

Robert B. Sherman (Dec. 19, 1925) and Richard M. Sherman (Jun. 12, 1928): The Sherman Brothers! No one on earth wrote more motion-picture musical song scores in film history and in 1990, they were honored the Disney Legends award at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, CA.

in 1960, the Sherman brothers began a ten-year association with the Disney studio, as exclusive staff songwriters writing songs for motion-pictures, rides, attractions and more.

They wrote “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” for the Carousel of Progress, the theme song for the “Enchanted Tiki Room” and what is perhaps their best-known song, "It's a Small World" for the 1964 New York World's Fair. Since then, some have claimed that this has become the most translated and performed song on Earth.

In this video you can see the Sherman Brothers playing the piano with Walt Disney and then, Walt talks about the New York World Fair and the Carousel of Progress Attraction.

In 1965, the Sherman Brothers won two Academy Awards for Mary Poppins and they have subsequently earned nine Academy Award nominations, two Grammy Awards, four Grammy Award nominations, and 23 gold- and platinum-certified albums.

The Shermans wrote all fourteen songs for the score, which has become one of film's most enduring soundtracks. Mary Poppins also brought the brothers Academy Awards for Best Music Score and Best Song ("Chim-Chim-Cheree").

About their Disney career, Richard said, "There's a line in "Mary Poppins" that says, 'A man has dreams of walking with giants to carve his niche in the edifice of time.' At Disney, we walked with giants."

"Feed the Birds," a lullaby, did not win the same level of public acclaim; however, it became one of Walt Disney's all-time favorite songs.

In May 2009, a documentary called the boys: the sherman brothers' story was released. In October 2009, Disney released a 59 track, two CD compendium of their work for the studio spanning forty-two years. The CD is entitled The Sherman Brothers Songbook.


Can you point to one particular thing that Walt Disney gave you that was very influential for your career?

Yes, he said "what’s happening while the song goes on?" He was very very involved in visuals. He didn’t want to just have singing heads singing at each other. He wanted to have action, something taking place, important things. So we constantly had to come up with almost scene ideas to make it work for him. So if we did a Spoonful of Sugar we had to say that’s when she is snapping her fingers and things are happening and then the kids try to snap their fingers. All these things are happening while she is singing the song, and he loved that. Then he gave that to his story people and they draw it up and make it happen on the screen. Basically we’d have to come up with ideas constantly. We never just came up with a song that they could sing. That was one of the greatest things that Walt gave us.

By the time we got to Walt Disney, we were really seasoned songwriters. We'd had a number of big hits and everything. We had written a lot of songs for Annette Funicello, that’s what brought us to Walt. She is our lucky star. She sang Tall Paul, Pineapple Princess, JoJo the Dog Faced Boy, Wild Willie, all these never to be forgotten songs. But they all were big hits for her and then we did albums like Hawaiiannette, Italiannette and Dance Annette. We just did song after song for Annette and Walt caught on. He listened to everything that she did. He was crazy about his girl. She was his little girl star and he was nuts about her. He said, "who are those guys that are writing the clever songs for Annette? I’d like to meet them." That’s how we got to meet Walt Disney. He brought us in to do assignments for her and one thing led to another.

What was it like working at Disney in those few years after Walt’s death?

That was a different story. Walt was like the champion of all his people and when he okayed a sequence or a scene it was in the picture. Nobody could cut it, nobody could screw around with it, nobody messed with it. But then a great void happened. There was no leader anymore and there were a bunch of sergeants scrambling around wondering where the general was. They had a board of directors that was seven people that were all trying very hard to do the right thing and never quite coming together. So decisions were made to shorten pictures and to drop sequences and it was actually not very pleasant.

Many years later you were asked to come back and write some songs for Epcot including for the Imagination Pavilion, One Little Spark, Magic Journeys and Makin' Memories.

That is a fun song. See, our relationship with Walt Disney Imagineering, that whole group who makes the rides and the experiences at the parks, was a separate organization although under the wing of Disney, and so we always had a very close relationship with them and we were working on things for them in the 70s and in the 80s. Occasionally we’d come in and do some special songs. We did the original Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow for the pavilion and Carousel of Progress and then they wanted a new song for the Eastern, for the one in Florida, so we wrote The Best Time of Your Life, a special song for them back in the 70s. We kept writing occasionally for them and then when Epcot was being created we did quite a number of songs for Epcot and even as recently as the 90’s we did revisions of old songs that we had done for Tomorrowland.

You did do some rework for that?

We did, like we took Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow and we called it, It’s a great new world and Innoventions, shining up our lives in every way. We wrote the new lyric on the old tune because they wanted to keep the tune. We did the new Innovention song and we did the new Rocket Rod song based on a song called Detroit which we had done, we call it Magic Highways.

In Walt’s Time, you said that you actually worked on some of the imitation flowers for the Jungle Cruise?

Yeah, yeah, years ago I worked for a company called Aldig Artificial Flowers. A friend of mine owned it and he gave me a job so I could support myself while I was trying to become a sensational songwriter. There was a long period there were Bob and I both were struggling in the field trying to stay alive while we were trying to make it. Yes, one of the jobs was they had subcontracted through Aldig was a certain amount of the leaves, weaving the leaves, the plastic leaves onto these trees and everything. I was doing that long before I ever worked for Disney as a songwriter. I was getting $2.50 an hour or $3.00, I forget what in those days.

What a coincidence.

Life, it’s a small world after all.

I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times, it’s so funny to hear that from the person that actually wrote that song.

There again was the good fortune of working for a great man who was doing a great project which is a salute to the children of the world and they came up with this marvelous ride except for one problem, and that is the original thought was they were going to have each group of dolls, each of these Audio Animatronic dolls, singing the national anthem of the various countries. On paper that’s a brilliant idea but in point of actuality it was a disaster. It was cacophony, unintelligible. So one day we were walking through it and halfway through it, it was just horrible, and Walt said, "stop the music," stop it because nobody could understand it. He said, "now what we need is a simple little song" and he looked at us "you see what I mean fellows? A little simple roundelay." We said, "you mean a round? That would be terribly boring." He says, "you know a roundelay." I said, "what about a counter point, two little themes that can work together and separately at the same time?" He says, "that’s what I said, a roundelay."

With this Bob and I went off and started working. We thought "it's a small world" and we said that’s kind of nice. "After all" rhymes with small, yeah after all, small world after all, yeah that sounds pretty good. We started playing with that and when we finished it, we said, it’s too simple. It’s basic, much too simple a thing even though we had two themes and the whole thing that we originally set out to do, so we tried to top it and we couldn’t. And one day, about a week and a half, two weeks after we were given this assignment we got a call from Walt’s secretary, "Walt wants to hear what you got." He knew we were pretty fast but we were taking too long getting back to him. As we heard his footsteps down the hall, coming towards us, Bob said to me, play the first one just like that. I remember the decision was to play the first one. We had written three. All of them basically the same but one was a little more complex and one was a little more lyrical. He said, play the first one and don’t even discuss it, just play the first. So we played it for him. He listened very intently and he said, "yep, that’ll work. Okay, come with me." And that’s how we played it for the guys at Imagineering and that’s how it became part of the ride. We never dreamed in a million years, in a million years that everywhere in the world they’d know that song and they all sing it and they seem to like it very much. It makes us very proud and happy about it.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Jungle Cruise History

Jungle Cruise was one of the first early attractions not based on a Disney animated film. On the suggestion of Harper Goff, the attraction took its inspiration from the film The African Queen. Walt’s early plans for this ride included real live animals. Inspired by the success of his True-Life Adventure Films, he was determined to bring these wonders of nature to a place where guests could see them up close and share his admiration.

Upon Consultation with animal-care specialists, Walt was convinced that although the domesticated mules and horses in Frontierland could generally be counted on to perform their roles, live exotics animals would never provide the consistent show he wanted. They couldn’t be trusted to stay in areas in which they’d remain visible, they’d sleep most of the day, and they’d surely be irritated by the constant boatloads of gawkers and the special effects required to tell the story.

In this video you will see the virtual jungle cruise tour presented by Walt E. Disney himself.

The parks would not get their exotic animal experience until many years later upon the opening of Disney’s Animal Kingdom park in 1998, when clever, new design techniques enabled separation of animals and people.

Tha Amazon, Congo, Nile and Mekong rivers are represented here. The boats, which take their names from these and other rivers of the world, were redesigned in 1998 to effect a more rugged and aged appearance-more in keeping with the spirit of adventure than the relatively pristine boats that had previously circled the river. The Spiel, or dialogue, delivered by the skippers has envolved over the years and is constantly being refined.

Lessons learned on Jungle Cruise in the art of landscape design as set decoration have paid dividends in all of the Disney Parks. WDI Master Landscape Architect Bill Evans carefully selected a palette of plants that would evoke a tropical feel while remaining hardy enough to withstand the relatively mild (but not tropical) central Florida winters. The plants needed to feel correct, even if they would not be found together, or in the types of groupings he used-even on the same continents we portray them to be. Bill broke away from a textbook approach in order to better serve the story.

The art of the WDI sight gag was perfected by imaginer Marc Davis. His work for Disney Animation, including the classic characters Tinker Bell, Princess Aurora, and Cruella De Vil, gave him the impeccable sense of timing that allowed his creations to read instantly-an important consideration in light of the limited time and dialogue available to us as the audience moves through a scene. His gag sketches for Jungle Cruise were often translated practically verbatim into the attraction.

Quick Takes
Keep an eye out for a highly appropriate tribute to Bill Evans in the plaza outside the Jungle Cruise queue. The wooden planter boxes in which the large trees are placed are tagged with the fictitious designation “Evans Exotic Plant Exporters.” In Reality, Bill Evans likely imported more exotic plants into USA than anyone else.

The queue for the Jungle Cruise was reworked in 1994 in order to expand its capacity and provide more shade. Along with this expansion came a corresponding increase in show value, including a substantial propping treatment and the vintage radio broadcast that sets the stage so well for your voyage.

Look for a great WDI reference in the new propping – Wathel Rogers’s name appears on a tag in the animal cage referencing his work in developing the mechanisms for the animals viewed from boats.

Check out the crew mess menu posted near the departure point. Hopefully, everybody in this stretch of river likes chicken!

There’s a great bit of wordplay in the name of the Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Employee of the Month, seen overhead just before you board. Try saying E.L. O’Fevre fast and then try not to catch it!

Magic Kingdom

The WDW Jungle Cruise is set at a depression era British outpost on the Amazon river, operated by the fictional company, The Jungle Navigation Co., whose advertisement poster is painted on the wall near the exit of the attraction. Albert Awol's broadcast is different than that of Disneyland's, being ride specific. Also unlike Disneyland, the queue no longer extends to a second level. The skippers at the Magic Kingdom don't carry revolvers with blanks in them anymore. The real guns have been replaced with realistic looking props that trigger an electronic gunshot sound through the boat's audio system.

Near the Hippo Pool, a piece of a downed airplane can be seen along the shoreline (There’s a hidden Mickey on the plane). This is the back half of the Lockheed Model 12 Electra Junior that can be seen in Casablanca scene on The Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Each variety of plant throughout the attraction was carefully selected by landscape architect Bill Evans to ensure that the foliage would be able to endure Florida's unique climate: hot summers and relatively cool winters. The toughest part was making sure these plants had the appropriate look and feel of traditional tropical plants in the equatorial jungle.


The queue of the Jungle Cruise is heavily themed with period artifacts, tools, gear, photos and more. It is meant to resemble an outpost where a booking may be made to explore the jungle rivers. It is divided into 4 main sections, that may be opened or closed in sequence, in order to accommodate the fluctuation of crowds. The queue is meant to wind around heavily so that the guests may see all the different artifacts in the queue. The most notable section of the queue is the office of Albert Awol.

Ride Description
The skipper introduces themself, and begins to take a boat full of passengers down the tropical rivers of the world. The ride starts out in the Amazon River, where the passengers enconter butterflies with 1 foot wingspans. The boat then passes Inspiration Falls,

 which then transitions into the Congo River, in Africa. The skipper explains how there is a Pygmy welcoming party ready for them, but when they get to the beach, they see the canoes are empty, and the place deserted. The skipper wonders what scared them off, and they soon discover it was a giant python.

The boat then passes a camp that has been raided by gorillas, and that transitions the cruise into the Nile River. After encountering two elephants, the boat passes along the African Veldt, where numerous African mammals are watching a pride of lions eat their kill. The boat then passes a lost safari group that has been chased up a pole by an angry rhinoceros and are now trapped.

The group then passes by another waterfall, Schweitzer Falls, and runs into a pool of hippos.

They are about to charge the boat until the skipper scares them off. Ominous drums are heard as the group enters headhunter territory. They see the natives dancing near the boat and are soon found in an ambush. They escape, and then transition into the Mekong River. They go through a temple which has been destroyed by an earthquake, and has a tiger, monkeys, and cobras everywhere. Find the giant spider here and you’ll find a hidden Mickey on its back. After they exit, they come across an elephant bathing pool where numerous elephants are relaxing in the water.

 The boat narrowly passes by when an elephant almost squirts them. The cruise concludes by passing Chief Namé, the head salesman of the jungle, who offers 2 shrunken heads for one of the passengers.

There are 15 vehicles, with a maximum of 10 in operation at any given time.

The Sankuru Sadie is the only boat in the Magic Kingdom's fleet ever to have sunk.
Current Boats
•    Amazon Annie
•    Bomokandi Bertha (Wheelchair lift equipped)
•    Congo Connie
•    Ganges Gertie
•    Irrawaddy Irma
•    Mongala Millie
•    Nile Nellie
•    Orinoco Ida
•    Rutshuru Ruby
•    Sankuru Sadie
•    Senegal Sal
•    Ucyali Lolly
•    Volta Val
•    Wamba Wanda (Wheelchair lift equipped)
•    Zambesi Zelda
Retired Boats
•    Kwango Kate (Retired in 2000)












Monday, May 03, 2010

Vinylmation - One-of-a-Kind Collection

11 figures created by the Disney Design Group Artists as special one-of-a-kind pieces. This is my preferred one, the Big TOPiary by Dan Howard.

The little figures are loose and can be moved if you desire but as they sit in the pictures is as the artist Dan Howard portrayed them. This Figure is in the shape of Mickey Mouse like the others but is covered in a mosslike grass from head to toe and on the base itself which is removable...there are little people on the figure and base like workers.

 One is Mowing the grass, another raking, another shoveling and one shaping up the Topiary itself. It looks like one of the figures disney creates at their parks out of trees and in the shape of the characters!!! Said to be the most sought after of the 1/1 Editions out by many!! Really an awesome conversation / Collector Piece!

This figure will NEVER be produced ever again!  

Other Vinylmations of this Collection

  Not a Flying Toy

Comic Strip

Split Personality

Coffe Shop

Bling Bling


Sweet Treat


 Dark Chocolate Mouse

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