Disney Avenue Podcast – Show #2 – Jack Lindquist Interview

Join host Keith Michael Mahne for a wonderful conversation with Disney Legend Jack Lindquist. Jack talks about his childhood, joining the WDC, meeting Walt Disney, working with Card Walker and Michael Eisner, becoming Disneyland’s very first president and so much more. Continue after the page break for more…

Jack Lindquist was hired by Walt Disney as Disneyland’s first advertising manager, and eventually played a key role in making the Park a world-famous tourist attraction. From marketing the original “E tickets” to lobbying for Disneyland’s millennial expansion, Jack was involved in nearly every aspect of the theme park.

Known for his relatively hands-off management style, Jack was among the most beloved of Park executives. As Disneyland’s former executive vice president Ron Dominquez once said, “Jack is Jack, no matter where he is or what he is doing. He respects people. He goes out of his way not to be set up on a pedestal.”

Born in Chicago on March 15, 1927, Jack’s family moved to Los Angeles when he was four. A child actor, he appeared as an extra in episodes of the Our Gang series, and, later, danced in the Lucille Ball film Best Foot Forward. After graduating from Hollywood High School, Jack spent two years in the U.S. Air Force and then completed his education at the University of Southern California.

In 1955, while working for a Los Angeles advertising firm, Jack acted as a consultant to one of Disneyland’s original corporate participants. During a meeting at the Park prior to its opening, Jack “fell in love with the place.” One month later, he was working there.

Jack took his first step up the Disneyland corporate ladder in 1965, when he became director of marketing. He later set the course for marketing Walt Disney World and, in 1972, was named vice president of marketing for Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Four years later, he was named vice president of marketing for Walt Disney Attractions; in 1982, he was again promoted to executive vice president of marketing and entertainment for all of the Company’s outdoor recreation activities.

Jack went on to set up the Marketing Division for Tokyo Disneyland, and as executive vice president of creative marketing concepts for Walt Disney Attractions he developed promotional and entertainment ideas for Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. In 1990, Jack was named president of Disneyland, a position he called “the best job in the world!”

During his 38 years with the company, he spearheaded several Disney projects, including Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom Club, Disney Dollars, the Disneyland Pigskin Classic, the Ambassador Program, and Grad Nites. He also lobbied for expansion of Disneyland, and the development of a second theme park for Disneyland Resort.

Jack Lindquist retired on Mickey Mouse’s 65th birthday, November 18, 1993. A month later, he was honored with a window on Main Street, which reads, “J.B. Lindquist, Honorary Mayor of Disneyland.” Jack published his memoir, In Service to the Mouse, in 2010. We are extremely excited and honored to have such a living legend join us for another amazing episode of the Disney Avenue Podcast.Enjoy…

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The Disney Avenue Podcast would like to thank Geren Piltz and Brian Vermillion for their contributions to this show!

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Where to “Park It” in the Parks

By Ryan Reed
 

We all say it before we leave for our Disney World vacation: “Let’s try and hit everything but I want to relax too!”  Next thing you know you’re four days in still grabbing clothes out of your suitcase right after waking up to the seven alarms you set so you don’t oversleep.  Everyone is exhausted, their legs are aching and they could even become a little bit “hangry”.  If you are unfamiliar with the expression “hangry” let me enlighten you: it’s when you become so hungry you get irritable or angry, hence, hangry; it’s one of my girlfriend’s favorite terms.  Although naps are the best remedy, who wants to nap when you’re finally at the best place in the world?  If you’re at all like me, I don’t want to spend too much time at the resort so I try to recoup in one of the Parks.  To me, although the resorts are world class, I’m not there for them.  I have a few places I love to relax when I’m beaten up from the Florida heat, road-rage-stroller-pushers, and non-stop walking.  There are a ton of great attractions to sit back and relax, but that’s a completely different conversation.  So, I’ll be sharing my favorite places to unwind and replenish while still making the most of my Disney vacation. Join me after the page break and I’ll fill you in…



MAGIC KINGDOM
 
 

Once you’ve done the “Dash for Splash” or “Race to Space” and it’s time to rest those legs, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better spot than Liberty Square.  Yes, this is a little vague but, even at its busiest, you can find a spot away from everyone yet still be in the middle of everything.  Sitting within earshot of the Haunted Mansion and just close enough to smell those delicious waffles coming from Sleepy Hollow makes this a nice spot to kick back without feeling like your wasting your vacation.

 
 
HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

 
 
Hollywood Studios can be tough due to its small size in comparison to the other Disney Parks.  This can lead to overcrowding and, sometimes, an overwhelming experience.  After fighting through the crowds to make your way down Sunset Boulevard to hit Tower of Terror and Rock ‘N Rollercoaster, it’s time to take a load off, find some shade, and (most importantly) grab yourself a drink.   Head on over to Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner at Echo Lake.  Here you’ll find a nice selection of craft beer; which is rare to find elsewhere on property.  If you’re a beer connoisseur like myself, you’ll appreciate the variety of beer they have to offer here.  Grab a cold one, stay close by for round two (or three), and enjoy some live entertainment – such as Mulch, Sweat, and Shears – while sitting on a shaded park bench.
 
 
 
 
EPCOT CENTER
 
 
 
This one is the easiest. Epcot is just the perfect blend of thrills and relaxation.  As a child, I scoffed at my mother when she suggested spending some time at Epcot – boy, have things changed.  Epcot has now the title as my favorite Disney park.  With so many options around World Showcase to sit down and grab an adult beverage, you really can’t go wrong with any spot in this massive Park.  This also gives you the opportunity to enjoy an interpretation of various cuisines found in each country.   But when I want to unwind and just feel completely relaxed, I love to head over to the Jumping Fountains outside the Imagination Pavilion.  This is probably all about the nostalgia but, for so many of us, what isn’t in Disney World?  Spending time in this area with the distinct music in the background immediately takes me to another place and allows me to unwind.  There’s just so much to take-in, yet you feel secluded from everything.  It’s a nice way to enjoy Epcot without feeling like you’re wasting away your day.
 
 
 
ANIMAL KINGDOM
 
 
 
 
Dawa Bar offers an excellent opportunity to be surrounded by the hustle and bustle of a Disney Park, yet you’re protected from it all.  Right next to Tusker House, Dawa Bar has some nice drink choices, including a couple of brews native to Africa.  The drinks and shade are welcoming but my favorite part about Dawa is its location.  You have plenty of options for food right nearby, a gift shop with wonderful African themed items and the live entertainment.  The Tam Tam’s of Congo put on a great show while you’re cooling off in the shade enjoying a Harambe Cooler, Safari Amber, or (my girlfriend’s favorite) the Sugar Cane Mojito.
 
 
 
 
 
TYPHOON LAGOON
 
 
 
I’m not going to hit every single Park but I’m including Typhoon Lagoon because I feel it’s such a better option than just heading back to your resort pool.  You have so many opportunities to relax here.  Between the best lazy river on the planet, great drinks you won’t find anywhere else on property (Tea Breeze, Tea Breeze, Tea Breeze) and the sandy “beaches” riddled with lounge chairs, you’re forced to kick back.  When we consider going back to the hotel to relax by the pool I always feel like we are missing out on something; going to Typhoon allows you to be out and about enjoying a water park Disney style. 
 
Everyone has their own places to relax and their own ways to enjoy their trips to Walt Disney World.  These were just a few alternatives to allow you to unwind without wasting anytime napping on your Disney World vacation. Feel free to add to my list in the comments below.



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Disney Avenue Welcomes Ryan Reed

Disney Avenue is very excited to welcome our newest contributing writer Ryan Reed! He has several interesting articles lined up for you and we are thrilled to have Ryan be apart of the Disney Avenue community. Please continue after the page break and allow Ryan to introduce himself…

Hello everyone!  My name is Ryan Reed and I will be the newest contributing writer here at Disney Avenue!   I’m very much looking forward to sharing my love for Disney and some of the knowledge I’ve picked up throughout the years.  Before we can do that, let me tell you a little bit about myself.  I’m 26 years old and grew up in Rochester, New York, which is about an hour east of Buffalo.  I earned a Bachelors of Science in Philosophy from the College at Brockport.  While attending I took part in the Disney College Program and it’s something I’ll never forget.  It gave me an appreciation for Walt Disney World from a completely different angle but I also realized working there wasn’t for me!  I want it to continue to be a place strictly for my enjoyment, not my place of work.  The first time I visited Disney World I was just a few months old and have gone back almost every year since then.  First the attractions kept me wanting to go back year after year, then it was the pure nostalgia it brought to me; now it’s a combination of those two along with my love for its history.  I have such a passion to learn as much as possible about this place and being able to visit it yearly.

 

            Beyond my Disney obsession, I’m into the typical things a male in his mid 20’s is into.  I’m a die-hard Buffalo Bills fan – I’ve never seen them win a playoff game in my entire life but every year “could be our year!”  I’m also a huge Boston Celtics fan; the game of basketball is my favorite sport hands down.  My dad was always a fan growing up and it eventually led to me being a fan as well.  Between watching most of the games together and traveling to Boston to catch them live, we spend a lot of time bonding over that shared interest.  Over the last few years I have really gotten into the craft beer industry.  It’s a really enjoyable hobby that I share with my closest friends and my girlfriend.  So there you have it: a guy in his mid twenties who loves football, basketball and beer – surprising, right? 

 

Some quick facts about my favorite things/places in Disney:

 

Ride: Haunted Mansion

 

Restaurant: Sanaa

 

Resort: Port Orleans Riverside

 

Water Park: Typhoon Lagoon

 

Snack: Candy Apples

 

Park: Epcot

 

I better stop myself now because I can go on-and-on-and-on about Disney, which is a good thing I suppose!  I hope this gave everyone some insight on who I am and what kind of Disney fan I am.  I look forward to sharing my passion with all of you as well as passing on some of my knowledge of Walt Disney World! 
 
***************
 
Check back tomorrow for Ryan’s first article that I know you’re going to like.

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Project Florida – Walt Disney’s Greatest Dream

By Keith Mahne

I love searching the web for vintage Walt Disney World pictures and videos. It brings back a wonderful sense of nostalgia. I also enjoy seeing how the park has progressed over time. Today I’d like to share with you one of my all time favorite videos of early WDW. This film ran as part of the Sunday night Wonderful World of Disney TV show in January 1971, mere months before the park opened. Disney had been heavily promoting Walt Disney World for over two years. All of their 1971 theatrical release posters included reminders of the vacation destination along their bottom, and in early 1971 they had prepared a special promotional film called Project Florida. Continue after the page break and have a look for yourself…
  

In the clips below you will see the rarely seen Preview Center in Lake Buena Vista, Roy O. Disney with Douglas Fairbanks, some wonderful footage of Imagineers Herb Ryman, Al Bertino, Blaine Gibson and Marc Davis and some time lapse construction footage to top it off. The quality is not great but I think that adds to the nostalgia of this priceless content. Enjoy!

Jack Lindquist Will Be Next Guest On The Disney Avenue Podcast

We are very excited to announce that Disney Legend Jack Lindquist will be our next guest on the Disney Avenue Podcast. Jack Lindquist was hired by Walt Disney as Disneyland’s first advertising manager, and eventually played a key role in making the Park a world-famous tourist attraction. From marketing the original “E tickets” to lobbying for Disneyland’s millennial expansion, Jack was involved in nearly every aspect of the theme park. Continue after the page break for more…

Known for his relatively hands-off management style, Jack was among the most beloved of Park executives. As Disneyland’s former executive vice president Ron Dominquez once said, “Jack is Jack, no matter where he is or what he is doing. He respects people. He goes out of his way not to be set up on a pedestal.”

Born in Chicago on March 15, 1927, Jack’s family moved to Los Angeles when he was four. A child actor, he appeared as an extra in episodes of the Our Gang series, and, later, danced in the Lucille Ball film Best Foot Forward. After graduating from Hollywood High School, Jack spent two years in the U.S. Air Force and then completed his education at the University of Southern California.
In 1955, while working for a Los Angeles advertising firm, Jack acted as a consultant to one of Disneyland’s original corporate participants. During a meeting at the Park prior to its opening, Jack “fell in love with the place.” One month later, he was working there.

Jack took his first step up the Disneyland corporate ladder in 1965, when he became director of marketing. He later set the course for marketing Walt Disney World and, in 1972, was named vice president of marketing for Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Four years later, he was named vice president of marketing for Walt Disney Attractions; in 1982, he was again promoted to executive vice president of marketing and entertainment for all of the Company’s outdoor recreation activities.

Jack went on to set up the Marketing Division for Tokyo Disneyland, and as executive vice president of creative marketing concepts for Walt Disney Attractions he developed promotional and entertainment ideas for Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. In 1990, Jack was named president of Disneyland, a position he called “the best job in the world!”
During his 38 years with the company, he spearheaded myriad Disney projects, including Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom Club, Disney Dollars, the Disneyland Pigskin Classic, the Ambassador Program, and Grad Nites. He also lobbied for expansion of Disneyland, and the development of a second theme park for Disneyland Resort.

Jack Lindquist retired on Mickey Mouse’s 65th birthday, November 18, 1993. A month later, he was honored with a window on Main Street, which reads, “J.B. Lindquist, Honorary Mayor of Disneyland.” Jack published his memoir, In Service to the Mouse, in 2010. We are extremely excited and honored to have such a living legend join us for another amazing episode of the Disney Avenue Podcast. Stay tuned for more…

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Imagineers Remember Jim Henson

By Keith Mahne

On the mourning of Wednesday, May 16 Imagineering and the rest of the world were shocked to learn of the sudden death of Jim Henson at the age of 53. A creative genius who re-invented the art of puppetry, Jim joined the Disney team when he and Michael Eisner announced an agreement-in-principle under which Henson Associates, Inc. would prduce theatrical motion pictures, network and off-network television shows, Disney Channel specials and series, as well as special Muppet attractions and rides for the Disney theme parks. Continue after the page break as Imagineers remember a true Disney Legend, Jim Henson…

At the time of his death, Jim was working closely with Imagineers on several projects for the parks, including the Muppet Vision 3D attraction, the never built Muppets’ Movie Ride, and a Muppet-themed restaurant for the Muppet Studios.

Although the time Jim worked with Imagineering was all too brief, he left an indelible mark on those who met him. Below are the memories of a few popular Imagineers fortunate enough to have worked with him:


Tom Fitzgerald

 
 

“I first met Jim in a meeting at the Disney-MGM Studios with Bob Weis, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Frank Wells and Michael Eisner. When we decided to do a 3D film, Jim got very excited about learning a new form of entertainment, and pushing the medium. As a result of his interest and experimentation, some of the Muppet Vision 3D effects are the best we’ve ever done. For example, Jim recognized that Waldo, a computer-generated Muppet, held some exciting possibilities. He proved to be absolutely right, and the Waldo sequence in the film is the most successful 3D effect we’ve done so far – it’s phenomenal.

Jim was unique in that he listened to what everyone had to say. He was always open to new ideas about how to make something better. Despite the fact that he had at least 15 to 20 projects going on at Disney, he had the ability to make each project team feel that they were getting his sole attention when he was with them – that their project was his priority. His creative energy and ability to focus were amazing.

He created a family, and pulled everyone into it. Once when a few of us were in New York, he asked us to go ice skating in Central Park with his family and co-workers. Afterwards, we went for hot chocolate and a bite to eat. I’ll never forget that night, it was magic. He was so gentle and kind, and even though you may have met him only once or twice, because he drew you into his family, it felt like you had been connected to him for a lifetime.” 

Joe Lanzisero

 

“Jim’s spirit became a part of whatever we did. He encouraged chaos and silliness – it was very refreshing. He was very much in tune to the people around him, and the irreverent aspects of the Muppets reflect that.”



Kathy Rogers

“Working with Jim, we discovered that he had his own language. He never would say ‘yes’ or ‘no’; it was ‘hmm’ or ‘hmmmm.’ He used certain adjectives that the people who had worked with him a long time recognized – they could tell if he liked something or not. We Imagineers were getting to the point where we could read him also.

Jim was the most loving person. I remember that on the third time I met him, I was wondering if he would remember me when he reached out and gave me a big hug. His nature was reflected by the memorial service for him in New York. It was filled with warmth and love; so many people had been touched by Jim.” 



Tim Kirk

 “For several years I freelanced for Henson, producing a variety of Muppet products. I was very impressed with how careful the company was about maintaining the integrity of the characters – that direction came directly down from the top. Jim’s characters reflected his vision and warmth; I don’t think he ever lost sight of what he wanted to achieve with them. Despite his incredible success, he never became spoiled. The kind, gentle persona he presented was genuine; he didn’t believe in pretension or facades.”

Eric Jacobson

“One of the best things about working with Jim was that there was no sense of an impenetrable hierarchy. We never felt like we had to say, ‘I can’t bother Jim with that.’ He was friendly to everyone. I remember after a press event at the Disney-MGM Studios, Jim was conversing with some VIPs and reporters. Whenever someone from his staff  or one of us Imagineers walked in, he would stop his conversation and make a point of saying ‘hello.’ He made everyone feel special.

Jim loved the cookies from the Big D. He would always laugh at the obscenely huge piles of cookies that we ordered for meeting with him, and say, ‘Oh no, not again.’ I guess it was really a love/hate relationship – he moaned, and said ‘ hmm, maybe I shouldn’t’ every time he saw them, but he never failed to polish off a few.”


Kevin Rafferty

“I was extremely fortunate to have been involved in the initial story development for the Muppet Vision 3D attraction. But more exciting to me than helping the team come up with gags and storyline for the film was working with Jim Henson – a man for whom I had much admiration. My reaction upon first meeting him was to tell him just that, and to thank him – for things as simple as helping to teach my son the alphabet. Thinking that it would be unprofessional to do something as silly as just thanking him, I chickened out.

During a break at one of the concept meetings, I mention to Jim that I had enjoyed seeing him on a television special that had aired the night before. One segment of the program, which was about handicapped people involved in entertainment, featured two Kermit the Frogs – one brought to life by Jim, and the other by a mentally handicapped entertainer. During their performance, they took turns singing ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green,’ and the lyrics touched me more deeply than ever before. I wanted to shake Jim’s hand and thank him for that, but again, thinking it was unprofessional, I didn’t.

Before the meeting reconvened, Jim and I talked briefly about the powerful, wonderful feeling he experienced during that particular performance. He didn’t see the show air, but was glad to hear that the same feeling came across on TV. He also told me something I shall never forget. He said, ‘you know, it’s funny, but sometimes we seem to lose sight of the value of even the simplest performances.’ We discussed that sometimes shows such as these can be just as powerful, just as memorable, as a multi-million dollar movie or attraction.

As the meeting was breaking up later that day and everyone was leaving, Jim reached the conference room door at the same time I did. He shook my hand, smiled, and simply said, ‘thank you.’ ” 

 Jim Henson was a lot like Walt Disney in several ways. He was full of creativity, left his mark on the world and the people who were lucky enough to meet and work with him. One thing that the Imagineers agreed on was that they had all been struck by his warmth and humanity. Not only do they mourn his loss, they are greatly saddened by thoughts of what was yet to come from the chemistry of Disney and Jim Henson.

If you are interested in learning more about the life and times of this warm, loving, creative genius; I highly suggest you grab yourself a copy of Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones from the link below.

 

  

 

 

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Meeting Walt Disney

By Keith Mahne

This is one of my absolute favorite Walt Disney videos… and he is only in it for 14 seconds. The music in the video as well as seeing Walt in his park just pulls at the heart-strings. The video was shot in 1956, just one year after Disneyland opened. Walt’s appearance in the film is short and sweet but powerful; at least in my opinion. Continue after the page break and have a look…

From the video description:

“Shot by my grandfather on his Bell & Howell Filmo using 16mm Kodachrome film stock. This footage was taken a year after the California theme park opened.

It was quite a surprise going through this and seeing my grandmother meeting Walt Disney himself! I’ve been doing my best to find out what they were shooting at the front of the park. So far I’ve been unsuccessful.

Transferred to HD (1080PsF 23.98) by myself off a Spirit and Color Corrected using a da Vinci 2k Plus. Slowed to 18fps to match the original film speed.”

What did you think? Could you imagine going through old family videos and seeing your grandmother actually meeting Walt himself?!? I swear I watched the part with Walt a hundred times as I see a man who is just taking a few minutes between filming to enjoy his creation. The fact that this was filmed in the 50’s, features Walt relaxing in his “Happy Place”, knowing that it’s pure, unedited footage of a GREAT man just being himself, and the music just makes the video so touching. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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Club 33: The Pinnacle of VIP

By Lindsey Allmon
 
Tucked away in New Orleans Square in Disneyland is a simple door. It blends in well, barely noticeable, except for the large plaque brandishing the number 33 marking its address, 33 Royal Street. Yet behind that simple door lies the most exclusive club in America, housing priceless Disney artifacts and an experience that does have a price…and it is hefty. Continue after the page break for a look inside the elite Club 33…

 
 

 

The idea for Club 33 came from the VIP lounges Walt Disney admired at the New York World’s Fair in the mid-sixties. He loved the idea of having a place that he could take the corporate elite, thus, the seed for Club 33 was born.  Club 33’s name officially hails from the address already assigned to the space when the park was built, 33 Royal Street, however it is rumored that the name actually pays homage to the 33 corporate sponsors that were supporting Disneyland when the club was being built. The club opened in May 1967, just five months after Disney died, and though initially only planned to be host to corporate sponsors and Hollywood and animation VIP’s, Club 33 began offering individual memberships as well. Think you want in? Well I hope you have deep pockets. An individual membership will run you $11,000 per year, and that’s in addition to the $27,000 initiation fee. Don’t have that kind of cash? Don’t worry, the waiting list is so long it takes 14 years to get a membership, and even then Average Joes will often be passed up for more famous clientele. And even after you make it in you still need to book reservations sometimes years in advance before you are able to get a table.

 

 

If you do get in, you are certainly in for a one of a kind experience. Upon entry you are met with a lobby showcasing an exact replica of a Parisian elevator that Walt fell in love with while traveling. The elevator is guarded by a cast member who makes sure that only members make it past the ornate elevator. Tours are offered at the park and the lobby is where they stop, Club 33 members being the only ones permitted to proceed to the second floor.

Once upstairs you are immersed in pure Disney history. Amidst the decadent atmosphere lies a full bar and props and furniture from Disney films and his own life, including Victorian pieces handpicked by Walt himself. The above picture shows a piano in the background that is one of these such artifacts. It’s said that this piano was specially made for Lillian Disney to play, and since the club’s opening, it has also been played by Sir Elton John and Sir Paul McCartney. The club also features the dining room table from Mary Poppins and a telephone booth used in The Happiest Millionaire, along with original cels from Fantasia.


 

The club is separated into two main rooms, the trophy room and the main dining room, both pictured below.

The club doesn’t end there though. It also has a balcony overlooking the square, reminiscent of the balconies overlooking Bourbon Street in New Orleans. It allows patrons to catch many of the shows that take place in the square and offers them a one of a kind view of Disneyland.

Club 33 is Disney’s own personal handiwork and yet few have ever or will ever see it. It is a piece of Disney history that is frozen in time and while I will likely never get to see the inside in person, I will always marvel at the history that lurks behind the inconspicuous door at 33 Royal Street.
 
 
 
A painting a Walt that hangs inside Club 33
 
 
Below are some beautiful photos of Walt taken inside Club 33:
 
 

 

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Marty Sklar and Disneyland’s Opening Day

By Keith Mahne



During the opening day ceremonies at Disneyland, Marty Sklar was a member of what was called the Public Relations department. His main job was to write, edit and produce The Disneyland News, which was a tabloid newspaper in 1890 font and style that Walt had requested as part of the 1955 “streetmosphere” at Disneyland. Continue after the page break as we step into the shoes of Marty Sklar during Disneyland’s opening day…

1955 photo of Disneyland’s Public Relations department featuring Marty

On July 17, 1955, as the youngest member of the publicity staff at Disneyland, and only 21 years old, Marty had two assignments. The first was to assist the local television news team working around Hank Weaver at the anchor desk, as part of ABC’s national live telecast of the Disneyland opening. Since the park had extremely limited facilities in those days, Weaver’s desk was set up in a big open room that normally housed about eight people in the Public Relations department. For Weaver and his crew, Marty supplied everything from background information to soft drinks.

The second part of his assignment on Disneyland’s opening day was a bit more exciting. Marty was a roving trouble shooter positioned just inside the Main Gate, with the idea that there would certainly be plenty of press to help out. Actually, as it turned out there was plenty of “trouble” because although 10,000 official invitations to Disneyland’s opening had been printed, there were another 25,000 counterfeit invitations that had somehow flooded Southern California. And all these ticket holders, whether real or fake, wanted “in”. Up until then, no one knew what Disneyland’s real in-park capacity was. They found out with a vengeance that day.

It turned out that Marty didn’t help many press members that mourning, although for the rest of the summer he was picking up the pieces and working all kinds of hours to repair the damage caused by the “Black Sunday” madness. But that day Marty’s biggest problem occurred around 4 p.m., when Fess Parker, the “King of the Wild Frontier” himself, came riding up to Marty on a horse that could hardly move because of the crowds, saw his “official” badge for the day, and implored him to help him find a way out before Davy Crockett’s horse kicked somebody!

Walt and Fess Parker

Today, it’s all a fond memory for Marty in the wake of 35 fabulous Disneyland years. But on July, 1955 when the drinking fountains didn’t work, the freshly poured asphalt melted, and mobs descended on the happiest place on earth, Marty knew that July 18th was going to be the start of a long road back to really make Walt Disney’s dream a reality.

For more fantastic stories of Marty and his 35 amazing years with the company, be sure to click the link below and grab a copy of his fabulous book Dream It! Do It!: My Half-Century Creating Disney’s Magic Kingdoms, you won’t regret it!

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Making of: Peter Pan’s Flight



When Disneyland opened in 1955, Walt Disney made the decision to have Fantasyland as its main themed land. Walt dedicated this land “… to the young and the young at heart” and “to those who believe that when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.” He also said “Come with me to King Arthur’s Carousel, to see an elephant fly, to dig for diamonds in the Dwarfs mine, and to ride a pirate ship through the sky…” Guest did ride pirate ships through the sky and still do today on the wonderfully classic ride called Peter Pan’s Flight. Continue after the page break and let’s see how Walt made his statement become a reality…


All of Fantasyland’s dark rides have found a special place in Disney fan’s hearts due to their uniqueness. Whether it be Alice in Wonderland, Mister Toad’s Wild Ride, or Snow White’s Scary Adventure, these rides are all great in their effective use of scenery and characters from the films in which they originated except they do so within a limited range of traditional dark rides. These traditional dark rides at the time all had ride vehicles that follow a single track on the floor that ride throughout tight, closed in spaces. The Imagineers of the time wanted to change this by having open spaces and floating ride vehicles to help it break the barriers and confinement of the others. Peter Pan’s Flight, with its open spaces, unique flying ride vehicles, and an elevated track quickly made it the most popular of the four attractions at the time. Thanks to the imagination and genius of the Imagineers, park guest were thrown into Peter Pan’s world and literally felt what it’s like to fly with Wendy, John and Michael past Big Ben, toward the second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning.
 


Creating the Fantasyland dark rides was no easy undertaking for the Imagineers back then as they all had to be designed and built within an almost impossible deadline. Some of the most famous Disney artists and Imagineers were tasked with the creation, design and concept of Peter Pan’s Flight including Herb Ryman, Marvin Davis, Bob Mattey, Claude Coats and Ken Anderson among others. Because of these tight deadlines several original scenes intended for the dark ride had to be cut out. In May 1954, Herb Ryman, one of Disney’s most famous artists, created an early concept drawing of the ride’s major scenes that included a Mermaid Lagoon and a huge rainbow that was never included.
 


Also in August 1954, Imagineer Marvin Davis created a plan of the attraction with scenes that featured Crocodile Creek and Hangman’s Tree that routed the flying ship vehicles through an opening in Skull Rock’s stony face and had the boats riding in a clockwise direction, which is completely opposite of the counter-clockwise direction the ride runs in today.

In October 1954, Imagineer Bob Mattey and others set up a test track in the Special Effects building at the Disney Studio. They had to use studio space to perfect the rides at the time because the dark ride buildings along both sides of castle courtyard weren’t installed yet
 


In March of 1955, just four months prior to opening day, legendary Disney artists Claude Coats and Ken Anderson were working day and night to make Peter Pan’s Flight a dream come true for park guests. They frantically began creating the ride as there wasn’t any time for preliminary planning. Already having a feature film to work off of and once the flying boat ride system was done testing; it was time to begin the installation process in the new ride building inside Fantasyland. Models and sketches of the chosen scenes for the ride had been completed in advanced, but much of the scene detailing took place on site rite out of the minds of their creators. Several times Anderson and Coats painted images straight onto the wooden walls and flats that served as black light scenery that surrounded the first version of the ride. In 1955, black light effects were new and unique to guests and Disneyland attractions were the first to combine it with other dark ride technology.


When the ride finally opened it had a small miniature fleet of flying pirate ships that featured alternative colors. Some were red and white or red and black that all featured a skull and crossbones on the sails staring riders in the face. At first, there were a total of nine miniature pirate ships used to carry passengers through this magical journey with Peter Pan, with a tenth kept in reserve in case of any malfunctions with another ship in use. The pirate ships were seven feet long and four and a half feet wide that could carry two to three guests at any given time. Each ship was made of fiberglass that was molded after the creation of Chris Mueller and weighed two hundred and fifty pounds each.
 


The Cleveland Tram Rail Company created the track and drive mechanisms. Although guests were not aware of what held them above the ground, Bob Gurr stated that the original track system was extremely loud and full of problems, which resulted in regular redesigning and maintenance.

 


Eventually Peter Pan’s Flight worked out its problems and continued its fanciful trips into the 1970’s, while work was being done on the Florida Project. In February 1971, Imagineers Bill Martin and Bill Justice finished drawings of Walt Disney World’s version of Peter Pan’s Flight filled with new and more exciting additions that occurred in several ways. Even though the WDW version format remained basically the same with Disneyland’s, Florida’s Pan dark ride contained many of the newest Audio-Animatronics figures with varying degrees of animation and sound effects . Along with the Crocodile, Smee and Hook, the newer version featured Indians, Lost Boys and Pirates. Like the original version, the ride ends with the Skull Rock grotto, except now Captain Hook was positioned over the deadly jaws of his nemesis, the Crocodile.
 



When Walt asked his guest while opening his most prized land of all to “…come ride a pirate ship through the sky” he meant just that. Walt Disney and his extremely creative Imagineers created one of the most popular dark rides in history that sends guest soaring over London and into Neverland. It is believed that this attraction and its use of darkness and wide open spaces eventually lead to the creation of other classic attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean. Its rides like these that keep us coming back for more and holding new attractions being created today to the same standards. The ride not only takes us flying on a pirate ship, it takes us out of reality and into a world that only Disney can create. Peter Pan’s Flight has amazed and delighted park guest for so many years now and hopefully will continue to take us toward the second star to the right and straight ‘til mourning!  
 


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