John Hench Shares His Memories of Walt

By Keith Mahne

John Hench was a real legend of the Walt Disney Company. Hired by Walt Disney to work on Fantasia, John was employed at the Studio until the early 1950s, when he left to join the creative group Walt was assembling to help him plan and design Disneyland. Continue after the page break as John Hench shares some memories of Walt Disney…

According to John, research was very important to Walt. John’s first project at the Studio was the styling and story of Fantasia, particularly the Nutcracker Suite and Dance of the Hours segments. Despite John’s trepidation, in order to ensure that he understood the ballet, Walt sent John backstage to observe the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. “It helped me significantly with the project, and I developed a respect for dancing and the dancers themselves. I’d had no idea of the discipline and complete dedication required of dancers.”

Later, after his move to Imagineering, John attended a food and restaurant management course at UCLA while working on the designs of the Plaza Pavilion at Disneyland. “Walt believed that any subject, no matter how boring or unfamiliar, could become interesting provided you had an open mind and showed some initiative for learning. We were encouraged to exchange ideas, to leave our offices and talk with others. This was a philosophy that I came to admire as I saw the benefits we derived personally, and the improvement in our work. Walt knew what he was doing.”

 
 
 
 
“He also wanted us to go down to the Park often to talk to people and observe them because he felt that we had to have a sense of who we were trying to entertain. He wasn’t interested in maintaining an ivory tower full of creative people who didn’t know their audience.”
 
 
 
But before they could please their audience, John and his fellow employees had to please Walt. “We knew that Walt came in on the weekends, so we would leave little ‘traps’ to confirm our suspicions. For example, we would turn storyboards upside down. Of course, come Monday mourning everything was right-side up. Walt even started to fold over and pin down the corners of a storyline that he didn’t like, so we knew that if we found something folded over on Monday mourning, we had to start changing it. He would always come in on Mondays and unload a whole bunch of new ideas on us. It was funny, we always had to struggle for the ideas we had, but Walt had more than anybody could ever use.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


John believed, before he passed away in 2004, that the spirit of Walt Disney was still alive at Imagineering. “Walt usually started the direction, and the team followed. We were all, in a way, on leashes. Some leashes were long, and those people could wander off further; others were given shorter rein. If the man holding the leashes (Walt) went north, we could wander to the east or the west, but we couldn’t go south. Some of us thought we didn’t have much freedom, but now when I look book, I realize that we all did. He created a momentum that we still follow.”

John once recalled, Walt’s ‘leash law’ did not extend to his favorite pet, a standard poodle named ‘DD’ for Duchess Disney, whom he frequently brought with him to the Studio. “She was a big dog, and she had the run of the place,” recalled John. “Once while we were all in a meeting upstairs, she left her calling card in the middle of the main entrance hallway. Apparently, there was a group of nuns from Saint Joseph’s Hospital touring that mourning who had to lift up their skirts and tiptoe around the horrendous deposit. When someone came into the meeting to let Walt know what had happened, he didn’t bat an eye and said, ‘My dog? How do they know it wasn’t one of the animators?'”

Walt with his daughters and Duchess Disney

(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i[‘GoogleAnalyticsObject’]=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,’script’,’//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js’,’ga’); ga(‘create’, ‘UA-52889002-1’, ‘auto’); ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);

Lighting in Walt Disney World

By Ryan Reed

When the sun sets in Walt Disney World you find yourself in the middle of a complete transformation. The way Disney makes use of lighting is another example of how they pay attention to the details. Just like anything else, Disney carefully thought out how to light everything on property. They do it in a way to compliment each and every attraction within their parks and hotels. This, like so many things in Disney, is something a lot of guests may overlook and not inherently notice but it makes all the difference. So for this post I want to look at some shining examples of how Disney has perfected the use lighting to make the already amazing, incredible. Continue after the page break and let’s have a look…

 
 
Being in Magic Kingdom during Extra Magic Hours is one of the best times to enjoy the park. On our last trip, the day we arrived the Magic Kingdom was opened to guests staying on property until 3:00 AM. This turned out to be our favorite part of the trip. The park was dead; giving you a sense of relaxation while being able to hit any ride you want. The thing is though, you end up enjoying walking around and taking in as much as you can that you don’t take advantage of the short queue lines. Meandering the Magic Kingdom during these circumstances is amazing no matter where you are in the park but I have a few places that seem even more special.
 
 
Time it right and you’ll catch Wishes as you make you decent into the Br’er Patch
 
 
Seeing Splash Mountain off in the distance when you’re walking through Liberty Square will always blow you away. Again, the way they use lighting extenuates everything about the attraction. It’s not just that they’re using it; they use it in the correct way. They think about the type of light, the angle of the light, the color and which would compliment each piece they’re illuminating best. Here we see they emphasized the drop and rockwork of Splash Mountain using neutral lighting. This accentuates the highlights of the exterior and avoids taking away from it with oddly colored lights.
 

 
 
Incredible shot of Main Street

The way Main Street looks at night is incredible. What’s best about this area of the park at night is what it accomplishes. Walt wanted Main Street to capture the feel of small American towns; while successfully done anytime of day, it’s pulled off even better at night. Small details, like lamps in the second floor windows and correct time period street lamps add a whole other dimension.
 
 
 
 
The TTA offers some great views of the Magic Kingdom
 
This attraction, along with the next, is a no brainer. The TTA is a must do for guests and for great reason. It is a classic ride that allows you to escape from the, sometimes, madness of the Magic Kingdom. It allows you to see parts of the park in a completely different way. At night, though, is when you can really appreciate how Disney uses lighting. Seeing Cinderella’s castle and surrounding moat lit up as you whiz by are perfect examples of lighting done well.



Another view of Tomorrowland
The views the TTA offers of Tomorrowland are phenomenal. Tomorrowland is a sight to behold, with so much going on yet it isn’t overwhelming. Using differing bright colors create a much bigger picture when taking it all in. The greens, blues, purples, and reds all combine to bring the section of park to life at night.



Haunted Mansion with great use of lighting

My last, but not least, highlight at night in Magic Kingdom is, of course, the Haunted Mansion. One of the best themed attractions in all of Disney World gets even better once night has fallen. Once it is dark, you are just drawn to this attraction. They use perfect lighting fixtures to give it an even spookier feel. The ominous blues and greens casted on the mansion play perfectly into the theming of the attraction. Sure, it’s a dark ride no matter what time of day, but when you know it’s dark outside and you walk out to the night, it adds to the experience.
 
 
 
 
Hollywood Boulevard comes alive at night
 
Hollywood Boulevard sets the stage perfectly for what guests can expect from the park; attention to detail allows this to be done so well. With the Sorcerer Mickey Hat in the background (love it or hate it), the “Main Street” of Hollywood Studios truly benefits from the strong lighting against the dark backgrounds that the night has to offer. This gives the park more of the 1940’s noir Disney Imagineer’s were going for. With the palms lit from their trunks, neon lights on each storefront along the street and the Sorcerer Hat anchoring it all, it creates a wonderful sight.
 



A beautifully lit street with a spooky Tower looming in the background

Just like Hollywood Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard evokes 1940’s Hollywood in a wonderful way due to the great detail put into every inch along the street. The palm trees are lit up along the street, the store fronts are flashing as you make your way to the most impressive use of lighting in the park: the Tower of Terror. Like I mentioned in a previous post, the Tower is the icon of Hollywood Studios. Sure you have the Sorcerer Mickey Hat but what is the first thing anyone thinks of when talking about the Studios? They take its icon status to a new level at night with the use of purple and green lighting; it’s a beacon that draws everyone to it whether you plan on riding or not. The lighting evokes exactly what the ride is set out to: an eerie image combined with its mammoth stature. Just as intended, at night the ride pulls people towards it while instilling fear into everyone as they wait in line.
 
 



One of my favorite locations and time in Disney World

Like every other park I want to say all of EPCOT benefits from the use of lighting; this is true but I want to be more specific. World Showcase looks incredible at night, details immerge that you may have never noticed during the day and makes you appreciate the park more. My vote for the best section of this park at night goes to the International Gateway. Leading you to a bridge right between the UK and France Pavilions, it offers incredible views. With the UK Pavilion on your left, France on your right and World Showcase Lagoon right in front of you the view is spectacular. Being able to see practically every pavilion lit up with each shining off the Lagoon allows you to see one the best views you can get in all of Walt Disney World. Hang around long enough and you’ll be treated to arguably the best lighting extravaganza in Disney World: Illuminations.
 
 
 
 
Arguably the most impressive attraction aesthetically looks even better lit up
 

The second mountain on our list, Expedition Everest, looks epic in the dark. Whenever you see this attraction, day or night, it’s unreal; but the way it’s illuminated at night takes the mountain to a whole other level. A theme of purple seems to be evident when Disney wants to make an attraction become more grand or even intimidating at night; this is no different here. Instead of lights pointing up towards the mountain, spotlights hit the peaks with a purplish hue to show off its large stature and intricate detail.
 



Nothing beats a couple of beers and a stroll down Boardwalk

Outside of the parks Disney still delivers on correct lighting to add to the experience. Disney’s Boardwalk comes to life at night and gives you the experience of something you might find at Coney Island. A few drinks and a stroll down the Boardwalk is a perfect way to unwind after an evening in EPCOT. With rope lights, nearby resorts brightly lit, and carnival games lighting up the area, Boardwalk gives a unique experience to guests.
 



You’d be hard pressed to find a more beautiful resort than Riverside

This list wouldn’t be complete without at least one hotel. Selfishly, I want to talk about Port Orleans Riverside, as it has been a family favorite ever since I was a child. As you can see in the picture above, the main building transforms into something beautiful at night. From there you’ll find the paths lit with just enough light, the Sassagoula reflecting each light along the way, and each pool area brilliantly lit. The key part to the lighting at this resort is not having too much. The dark paths give the resort a different feel, almost as if you were in the backwoods of Louisiana.

The lighting in Walt Disney World is a perfect example of little details they take very seriously. As you can see, it plays a large part in the experience and storytelling for every guest. These were just a few of my favorite examples with hundreds more to choose from. Are there any I didn’t list that you would’ve? Let me know in the comment section below.

**********
 
 


(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i[‘GoogleAnalyticsObject’]=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,’script’,’//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js’,’ga’); ga(‘create’, ‘UA-52889002-1’, ‘auto’); ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);
Ryan Reed is from Upstate New York and grew up in a suburb just west of Rochester.  He graduated from the College at Brockport with a Bachelors of Science in Philosophy; he also plans to go back to school to acquire his MBA within the next couple of years.  For hobbies, Ryan spends his time staying active and just recently ran the 2014 Boiler Maker 15K for the first time.  Also, he is a die-hard Buffalo Bills fan who thinks every year is “our year”.  Basketball is, without a doubt, his favorite sport and shares the same interest with his father.  They both bond over being Boston Celtics fans and regularly make trips to the New England area to watch them play.  Ryan’s interest in craft beer is shared amongst his friends and girlfriend; they enjoy touring, learning, and experiencing everything brewers have to offer.  His ties to Walt Disney World started before he even was a year old.  As a child, his family took him back year after year and has continued to go back almost yearly.  At first, his love for Disney World was due to the attractions that he had never experienced elsewhere.  Then he began to be intrigued with how the parks, rides, and restaurants came to be – the sheer size of what they were able to build fascinated him.  In his sophomore year of college Ryan took part in the Disney College Program.  He worked at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on Fantasmic! as well as Rock N’ Roller Coaster.  This experience allowed him to see a whole new side of Disney and gained an appreciation for what they do more than ever before.  Now Ryan looks for any information he can to understand the history of Disney World and how it came to be.  He has witnessed Disney go through a lot of changes but his interests and appreciation for the parks evolved along with it.  His favorite ride is the Haunted Mansion but a close second is Tower of Terror.  Epcot has become his favorite park; there are so many different things to experience – each visit seems like a new adventure.  His favorite time at Disney is dusk; each park transforms into something completely different once the sun sets.  His favorite Disney movie is Toy Story and favorite Disney character is Tigger.  Ryan’s articles will discuss tips about Disney World, some “best of” pieces, as well as history of both the parks and resorts.

Making of: Adventures Thru Inner Space

By Keith Mahne

It was in 1965 that Walt Disney approached the Monsanto Company with his idea of building a new and expanded Tomorrowland. The original Tomorrowland had, within a decade, become more of a Todayland and it was time to think about updating the entire land, including replacing the Hall of Chemistry attraction, presented by Monsanto, with something that reflected the excitement of the present and future. Out of this partnership came the attraction Adventure Thru Inner Space.



Hall of Chemistry attraction

Today we’ll have a look at the making of that attraction as we return to our popular Making of series…



Adventures in Science concept drawing
 
More Adventures in Science concept drawings

The earliest concept for a ride into the world of the microscope appeared in 1957 as part of a proposed Tomorrowland attraction called Adventures in Science. When the idea resurfaced in the 1960s for New Tomorrowland, Journey into the Microscope, as it was originally titled, was to take guests into the microscopic realm of a drop of water. The attraction was intended to share with an exhibit to be presented by the Ford Motor Company.



Claude Coats with attraction model

The Ford attraction never materialized and the design for Adventure Thru Inner Space, as it was renamed, was expanded to encompass the entire building. It was also decided that a snowflake would make a more exciting destination than a drop of water.

Adventure Thru Inner Space opened as a free attraction with Disneyland’s New Tomorrowland in June 1967. One of the highlights of the attraction was the mighty microscope, a 37 foot long, 12 foot high microscope that appeared to miniaturize guests. Those waiting to board the Omnimover chain of “Atomobiles,” which would carry them into the microscope, could see inner space travelers apparently shrinking as they moved through a translucent section of the microscope.

The attraction was based on an idea by Monsanto President Dr. Charles Allen Thomas, and designed by Imagineer Claude Coats, with the illusions done by Yale Gracey. X. Atencio’s script was narrated by Paul Frees, with musical effects by Buddy Baker. The theme song, Miracles from Molecules, was composed by the Sherman Brothers naturally. Adventure Thru Inner Space represented the first use of the Omnimover ride system in a Disney attraction.

The slow paced journey through the attraction’s dark passages quickly became a hit with teenagers. Because it was a free attraction, young couples would board the ride continuously, “taking advantage” of the two seat, three sided Omnimover vehicles. To discourage the couples from doing just whatever it was they were doing in there, Disneyland began including a ticket in each of the park’s ticket books, good for one complimentary ride through Adventure Thru Inner Space. Guests would have to purchase another book of tickets if they wished to ride the attraction again. When this strategy didn’t seem to work, Disneyland Operations sped up the attraction, hoping to shorten the ride time. However, this only led to the attraction’s slow, deep narration sounding helium induced in certain zones where the soundtrack attempted to keep up with the ride speed.

Adventure Thru Inner Space went from being a free attraction to a C-ticket one in 1972. In 1977, Monsanto’s participant contract expired. The display area at the end of the attraction became a shop.

Over the next eight years, Adventure Thru Inner Space became more and more dated. Although it had been state of the art when it opened in 1967, the technology of television, video, lasers and other modern special effects quickly eclipsed the attraction’s uniqueness and the queue lines grew shorter and shorter. In fall 1985, after 18 years of “piercing the wall of the oxygen atom,” Adventure Thru Inner Space shut its doors forever to become Star Tours. To ensure that the campiness that was Adventure Thru Inner Space was never forgotten, Imagineers paid homage to the attraction in a few places throughout Star Tours.

And so, whatever became of those Disney icons that were once a part of Adventure Thru Inner Space? Those museum quality set pieces that will forever be cherished in the hearts and minds of all who have visited Walt’s Magic Kingdom? Except for a few items, it seems that everything was destroyed. The giant eyeball that stared guests down as they returned from their adventure, the one that was always a target for long distance spitters, is supposedly inside one of Imagineering’s storage facilities. Most of the miniature pods from the queue area dioramas went to the Disney Archives when the attraction was dismantled. Wherever the remains may be, Adventure Thru Inner Space will always remain a fond memory of Tomorrowland history. Let’s do some reminiscing and check out the video below:

 
 

 
 
 
********
 
 
 

(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i[‘GoogleAnalyticsObject’]=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,’script’,’//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js’,’ga’); ga(‘create’, ‘UA-52889002-1’, ‘auto’); ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’); Keith Michael Mahne is the owner and editor of Disney Avenue and the host of the Disney Avenue Podcast. He has made countless trips to the Walt Disney World resort since his first trip in 1989 at the age of four. Keith has a strong passion and respect for Walt Disney, the parks and resorts, and the men and women who help create them. He started Disney Avenue as a way to inform and entertain readers and to repay all those who make dreams come true everyday.

Why WED Enterprises Changed to WDI

By Keith Mahne

He is the symbol of magic, imagination and creativity. It seems that with a simple wave of his wind, pixie dust appears and marvelous creations come to life. He is Sorcerer Mickey, the symbol that represents the creative genius of Walt Disney Imagineering. But this little guy didn’t always grace the nametags, letterhead and business cards. Continue after the page break and let’s take a look at why WED Enterprises became Walt Disney Imagineering…

Until 1985, the original logo read “WED Imagineering”, and its angular script and sunburst twinkle dotting the “I” gave it a classic 50’s look. In 1984, under former president Carl Bongirno, Marty Sklar and John Hench updated the logo, but these new designs were put on hold; there were more pressing problems at hand. At the time, WED did not have an overall company graphic. Departments identified themselves with many different symbols, Sorcerer Mickey being just one of dozens of symbols used by the Special Effects Department. Another problem was that WED wasn’t really recognized outside Disney as a Walt Disney company. If you didn’t know that WED was the acronym for Walter Elias Disney, you had no idea that this huge design and engineering company was a part of Walt Disney Productions now The Walt Disney Company.

The year 1984 brought in a new regime, with Michael Eisner and Frank Wells taking the reigns of the company. Number one on the agenda was to organize and outline all the separate Disney divisions, subsidiaries, and companies into a matrix under one parent company. The Walt Disney Corporate Identity Program was implemented and in full swing; names and logos were changed. Walt Disney Productions was broadened to The Walt Disney Company. With consistency the goal, everything under this corporate umbrella became closely associated with the name Walt Disney.

WED Enterprises went through several name concepts and emerged as Walt Disney Imagineering. Official in 1986, the name reflected a more visible company identity, and especially a direct tie to Walt Disney’s name. The WED Imagineering logo, though updated, had to be tossed in favor of a new horizontal signature: Sorcerer Mickey the symbol, Walt Disney in script, Imagineering in typography. Finally, all the name tags, letterhead, business cards, WDI souvenirs and clothing were all standardized.

Although the name and logo has changed, their premise remains the same. They continue to create the most awe-inspiring, jaw dropping creations of all time. They continue to be a team of dreamers and doers. Imagineers continue to push the boundaries of creativity, innovation and possibility as they create new experiences and new forms of entertainment for us today, tomorrow and beyond despite what their logo may be.

(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i[‘GoogleAnalyticsObject’]=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,’script’,’//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js’,’ga’); ga(‘create’, ‘UA-52889002-1’, ‘auto’); ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);

*********
 
 

Keith Michael Mahne is the owner and editor of Disney Avenue and the host of the Disney Avenue Podcast. He has made countless trips to the Walt Disney World resort since his first trip in 1989 at the age of four. Keith has a strong passion and respect for Walt Disney, the parks and resorts, and the men and women who help create them. He started Disney Avenue as a way to inform and entertain readers and to repay all those who make dreams come true everyday.



The Trees Are Part Of The Show

By Mark Landucci

To say that Disneyland is a case study in botany is a very accurate statement. Understand that about 90% of the plants at Disneyland are not indigenous to California. Let that sink in for a minute. Well over 800 unique species exist and thrive in the park. Today, however, I want to talk a little bit about trees.

….and this seems like a very boring topic. Trees. Honestly, who really cares about trees at Disneyland when there’s mountains in space, mountains full of big thunder or mountains that can (and will) splash you? I mean, with everything else to see and do (and eat), why would one even bother about the trees? I can go to any park in any city and get my kite stuck in a tree. I can walk down my street and see trees swaying in the wind. No big deal, right?? However, trees have always been an important part of the Disneyland story in terms of design and heritage. Continue after the page break for more…



Bill Evans

Walt Disney was a brilliant visionary. Even though he didn’t have all the answers, he was brilliant enough to know to surround himself with talented people that might. Enter landscaper, Bill Evans. Bill Evans and his brother were awarded the task of landscaping Disneyland. Before setting foot on the property, the Evans brothers invited Walt to tour their own property. There, they had developed all types of different botanical environments. This was both pleasing and impressive for Walt because he was adamant about specific theming for the park and the Evans brothers seemed to know how to cultivate his visions into reality.

Wait.

Let’s start from before the beginning. Before Bill Evans joined the company. Disneyland was built on a grove of Orange…what? Trees. Okay…fine…there were also a few other types of trees there too: oaks, avocado, eucalyptus and palms. Remember those last two, okay?

Remember something else, Walt Disney wanted a park that was different than the typical amusement park. He wanted to utilize trees and gardens to create a relaxing, tranquil environment. He wanted the guests to feel comfortable just sitting and enjoying the views. Keep in mind, there was a time when guests could enter the park for a relatively low admission fee and still enjoy themselves. It was a park that could be enjoyed by many different types of guests. Trees proved to be versatile. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but they added a sense of completeness and maturity to the park. During the day, trees would provide shade in the hot Southern California sun as well as provide a place to hang sparkling lights when it became dark. For me, I personally enjoy nighttime in the parks.
 



Bill Evans in white hat

When Bill Evans was given a tour of the park (in progress), he noticed that the orange trees were being uprooted and destroyed. He was brash enough to put a halt to this process. Instead, he salvaged what he could and then marked the existing trees with special colored ribbons. Green ribbons meant the trees would stay in place, Red ribbons meant the trees were to be removed (and utilized elsewhere). The lead operator on the bulldozer that day, unfortunately was color blind and removed most of the trees anyway. This was a thorn in the side for the landscapers. However, they were able to salvage a great many of the trees, as well as all the trees from the local nurseries. In addition, the Santa Ana freeway was being constructed and this provided an opportunity to salvage trees that might be in its path.




Trees Playing Their Part From The Beginning



We can definitely go into the trees and how they play a part in the theming, but that might be better served in a future article. We can talk about Adventureland and more specifically the Jungle Cruise. It’s mind blowing to me when you consider that landscapers actually created a jungle. I digress, I know. I’ll just say that you’d never find the same type of trees (because of shape and color) in the Haunted Mansion queue area as you would in say…Fantasyland. This is all by design, not coincidence. In fact, we should really delve into the melaleuca’s, lapacho’s, weeping fig’s all along Main Street USA. Perhaps another day we will.

While I did mention Main Street USA, I wanted to call your attention to a row of eucalyptus trees. These trees are located right behind City Hall and they are one of the last original trees in the park. Meaning, they are in the same spot as they were before the park was built. But they also played a part in the design of the park. Originally, Tomorrowland was slated for that area, the west side. However, Adventureland and Fronteirland shared a common waterway and needed to be together. Along with their height and wind and sound protection, these eucalyptus trees would provide a natural division between Main Street USA and the jungle terra of Adventureland.




Original Eucalyptus Trees



There are three special trees that I wanted to point out to you.

In Adventureland, a certain palm tree dates back to 1896 and it belonged to the Dominguez family. In fact, it’s a Canary Island Date Palm. Their family owned some of the land that the park is built on today. Their son, Ron Dominguez, worked in the park on opening day and had a fruitful career with the company. He would become the Executive Vice-President of Disneyland. Mr. Dominguez is a Disney legend and as such, has a window on Main Street USA. In both tribute and respect, this tree remains intact. The re-theming of the Jungle Cruise loading dock and the Indiana Jones construction were done around this tree. 



The Dominguez Tree in Adventureland



In Frontierland, without question, the oldest tree is where our next resides. As an anniversary gift from Walt Disney to his wife, Lillian, he presented this tree. It’s a petrified tree and is said to be between 55 and 70 million years old.



Petrified Tree



And finally….
With fall soon approaching, I wanted to point out a special tree that seems to sprout up for the Halloween season, more specifically mid-September to Halloween.


Behold, the Halloween Tree.




The Halloween Tree



The tree, a northern red oak (Quercus rubra), is approximately twenty feet tall and has a canopy of about twelve feet in diameter. It takes 1,500 lights and fifty painted pumpkins to decorate.

The tree is so named in honor of Mr. Bradbury’s 1972 novel, the Halloween Tree. The novel centers around a group of trick or treaters who learn the history of the holiday.



The Halloween Tree Novel



Ray Bradbury was a personal friend of Walt Disney, a fan of Disneyland, and collaborator with Walt Disney Imagineering. Specifically, he consulted on Spaceship Earth at Epcot. In gratitude of his contributions, on Halloween night of 2007, the tree was dedicated with Mr. Bradbury flipping the switch to light the tree.

Okay…that will do it for this week. I hope that this article give you some insight into the trees of Disneyland. There is so much more to learn and discuss on this topic and in time, we’ll do just that. But for now, the next time in you’re in the park, take a moment or two and notice the trees. Look at their colors and styles and how they fit into the particular land that you’re visiting.

Until next time….. 

***********
 
 
(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i[‘GoogleAnalyticsObject’]=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,’script’,’//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js’,’ga’); ga(‘create’, ‘UA-52889002-1’, ‘auto’); ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);
 
Mark Landucci comes to us from Northern California where he’s lived his entire life. He has a degree in Journalism from Sacramento State and continues to be a professional writer. Mark’s interest in Disneyland can be traced from the late 70’s when he made his first visit to the park. Instead of buying balloons, candy, t-shirts or hats, Mark’s only souvenir requests were the large park maps. He’d bring them home, open them up on the floor and stare at every detail. This is something he may (or may not) admit to still doing! Mark had a yearly subscription to the E-Ticket magazine and continues to look for missing magazines to fill his collection. In addition, he likes to read books about Disneyland as well as biographies of some of the men and women that built the park. Additionally, he listens to podcasts centered around Disneyland and Disneyworld. He is eager to discuss any facet regarding the design, history, future, attractions and social importance of the parks. In fact, Mark often offers a different view of the parks and what they mean. While he favors Disneyland, he’s warming up to the idea of Disneyworld. Maybe he’s humidifying up to the idea of Disneyworld J. Either way, he believes they both offer something unique.
Being the father of two daughters, he seems to live vicariously through them when they go to the parks. And daily conversations about the parks, including trivia about the parks is quite commonplace. I think they get annoyed with Mark, but don’t tell him that. Mark will write somewhat humorous articles that cover: attractions, history, design and maybe delve into the esoteric elements that Disneyland has to offer.

Making of: Disney’s Contemporary Resort

By Keith Mahne



Disney’s Contemporary Resort, often referred to as The Contemporary and originally to be called Tempo Bay Hotel, is a deluxe resort at the Walt Disney World Resort. It opened on October 1, 1971 and is fully owned and operated by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Disney’s Contemporary Resort is located in the Magic Kingdom Resort Area, adjacent to the Magic Kingdom and Bay Lake. Although it is one of the oldest and originals in the park, it continues to dazel park guests to this day. Continue after the page break for the Making of: Disney’s Contemporary Resort

The Contemporary Resort was one of the two resorts located on property when Walt Disney World first opened in 1971. The Contemporary Tower, the most prominent of the resort’s four stand-alone buildings, was built as an A-frame with outer walls which slope inwards around an inner atrium. This design was a collaboration by Disney, the United States Steel Corporation, and Los Angeles architect Welton Becket. To construct the building, steel frames were erected on site and modular pre-constructed rooms, designed by California architect Donald Wexler, were lifted into place by crane. Most of Disney’s Polynesian Resort was also built this way. Before the construction of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Contemporary Resort was considered Disney’s flagship resort. On November 17, 1973, President Richard Nixon delivered his famous “I am not a crook” speech in a ballroom at the Contemporary in front of reporters from the Associated Press.




Richard Nixon giving his famous “I am not a crook” speech at the Contemporary Resort

Originally there were five hotels planned to surround the lake and face the park. Each hotel would be specifically themed and would complement the view of the theme park.  The flagship hotel would be the most futuristic or contemporary in design – based on Walt’s vision for the high-rise multi-use structure he envisioned for the center of EPCOT. The original structure was to be a “city” with an open-atrium building complete with shops, restaurants and a monorail running straight through the building.  Because of this hotel’s futuristic elements, it would be positioned in line sight of Tomorrowland.

One of US Steel’s subsidiaries, American Bridge, had been experimenting with modular construction. They had been promoting constructing, assembling, and furnishing rooms off-site and then stacking them next to the skeleton of the building and then slot each room into the frame of the building.  One “fact” that is very prevalent out there is that not only were the rooms made to be easily removed, refurbished, and slotted back in, but also that they (the rooms) had settled into the structure and they became stuck thereby unable to be removed. This is a myth. The rooms were never intended to be removed. When the building was constructed and the rooms were slid into place, the frame was simply steel. After the rooms were in place, the concrete was framed and poured for the thirteen 150-foot tall A-frames.

Disney’s original agreement was that they would retain the land these hotels were built on, but would allow US Steel to build and own the hotels. Disney would then lease and run the hotels. There were concerns over the financing for the Florida project so mergers were BRIEFLY considered. One of the first considered was General Electric – which happened before Walt died. According to Bob Thomas “Roy faced the formidable task of financing… Bankers and financiers told Roy that such an investment was too great, a cool $100 million, for a company the size of Walt Disney Productions. He was advised to seek a large corporation as a partner. GE was approached…” The negotiations ended shortly after Walt realized the merger would put GE execs in charge and that Walt would become an employee and could be fired at anytime. Other mergers were contemplated, including Westinghouse, but ultimately Roy found a way to go it alone.  Roy was “besieged by suitors” after Walt’s death. But one thing he and Walt had learned early in their career was to share ownership with no one.



There were a number of obstacles that Disney had to overcome in constructing the A-frame hotel. One obstacle was that they realized that they couldn’t just quickly slide the rooms because if all the rooms were slotted in one side of the hotel first it would not only compromise the integrity of the structure, but it would also throw the hotel frame off balance.  So they had to set up two cranes on either side of the A-frame and alternately slot in the rooms. Another problem was the monorail. Originally plans called for the monorail to run straight through the middle of the hotel, however the vibration from the monorail cause the hotel shake. The contractors said it would be impossible to run the monorail through the hotel. Walt’s planners argued that without the monorail the hotel would resemble, “a place where the Goodyear blimp comes to mate.” Roy realized that without the monorail the Contemporary would be no different than any of the Hyatt style atrium hotels. All Roy said was “build it.”  After reengineering the hotel multiple times, engineers decided to move the monorail to one side of the hotel and anchor the track to the ground and not the building.

Another misconception – that has become fact – was that construction on most of the resort was running on or close to on time, however the Contemporary was a different story.  In fact, construction was a challenge in and out of the entire park. For example, in the fall of 1970, only about 1 year from scheduled opening, the main contractor hired to oversee construction announced that the timeline was unrealistic and suggested that Disney change the planned opening date. Within days of that announcement, the 2 Joe’s – Joe Fowler & Joe Potter – filed the necessary paperwork to create Buena Vista Construction.  In the spring of ’71 after a visit east to check on the state of the construction, Dick Nunis was asked if he honestly believed that we would open on time. His response was “only if we put the entire force of the Disney company behind the effort. The following week he was asked if he would relocate to Florida to ensure the park opened on time. He moved to Florida on the reassurance that if he needed ANYTHING from another department, he would get it. Over the next few months, he & his team became known as “the Nunis Raiders”.


 

The hotel was plagued with various setbacks and difficulties, both great and small. Everything from workers sleeping on the job and creating phantom employees to cash additional checks to stealing. The park opened on time, but it took a few more months to finally complete the Contemporary Resort Hotel tower and garden wings.


According to Charles Ridgway’s biography, Spinning Disney’s World, the Thursday before opening there were still giant construction cranes towering over the Contemporary…, which would go against all what Disney stands for as well as spoiling the view for the first guests. So the cranes were dismantled, laid down and promptly covered with grass for the rest of the weekend. They went back up that Monday and stayed looming and working over the hotel until the day before the Grand Opening.  In the end, the hotel was completely finished in the New Year, but enough of the rooms were completed to accommodate the Grand Opening day guests and various activities. During this whole process the Disney-US Steel relationship grew more and more strained.  So much so that it was a constant bother to Roy Disney.  Smart to the very end, a few weeks before Roy’s death, he negotiated a deal with US Steel to not only buy their interest in the hotel, but also assume all remaining construction costs. 

When the hotel finally did open to guests – those lucky enough to stay there were paying the exorbitant room rates ranging from $28 to $44 per night. The original dining outlets included: Grand Canyon Terrace Cafe, Grand Canyon Terrace, Top of the World, Gulf Coast Room, El Pueblo, The Dock Inn, Monorail Club Car, The Sand Bar, and the Mesa Grande Lounge.  As for shopping: The Contemporary Man, The Contemporary Woman, Plaza Gifts & Sundries, Kingdom Jewels Ltd., The Fantasia Shop, The Spirit World, The Captain’s Chair, The American Beauty Shoppe, Bay n’ Beach, and The Olympiad spa and gym.

The Contemporary Resort Hotel is known for a number of things.  In addition to the A-frame structure, slotted rooms, and monorail, the resort is also known for its soaring 90-foot mural. Given Walt Disney’s fascination with the Grand Canyon, it’s no surprise that many aspects of the Grand Canyon pop up throughout the cavernous Contemporary. The mural was designed by Mary Blair.  Mary was an animator and an Imagineer, as well as a Disney Legend.  She worked on many Disney projects from “Three Caballeros” to “Song of the South” to “Cinderella.” Because of her use of color and the child-like way she approached her work, Walt had asked her to work on a new project he was working on for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair – it’s A Small World. What Mary created for the Contemporary Resort was the world’s largest handmade mosaic featuring a modern southwest theme in the classic Mary Blair style.

The mural, which took more than a year and a half to design, produce and install on the six, ninety-foot walls, consists of more than 18,000 hand-painted tiles. Not only were her designs used in the mural, but also her Southwest Indian children, which also included stylized birds, animals, flowers, and trees, were originally used throughout the resort, in the lobbies, and as framed prints in each of the hotel’s rooms. The giant mural, which also conceals the hotel’s elevator shafts, shows Native American Indian Children standing along the slopes of the Grand Canyon. The mural that faces the monorail has a goat with five legs, up near the top.  Blair did that to honor the culture of the Grand Canyon Indian tribes who felt that artwork could not be “perfect.” Her inspiration for the mural came from a broad spectrum of resources, including prehistoric petroglyphs, Pueblo murals, and Navajo ceremonial art, such as sand paintings. The mural and concourse colors reflect earth and sky tones found in and at the Grand Canyon, as well as in Indian art. Each of the more than 18,000 individually hand painted and fire-glazed ceramic tiles were shipped from California to Florida on special air-suspension trucks. The glazes used on the ceramics are both mineral and chemically based – the color pink, for example, is made from gold.



When the park opened, people flocked to the resort and clamored to stay at one of the only two hotels right at the Magic Kingdom.  The 1000+ rooms were full all the time and since the average stay was 2 – 2.5 days, the room turnover was tremendous.  Not only was turnover tremendous, but the wear-and-tear on the rooms was magnified. As such, room refurbishment began almost immediately. In the fall of 1972, Disney started a continuous rehab of eight rooms at a time and by 1975, every room at the Contemporary Resort Hotel had been completely overhauled from top to bottom…only to start again. 

New carpeting, drapes and color schemes were done to each room, large maps of the Magic Kingdom hung in each room, and the wallpaper was replaced with vinyl wallpaper to make for easier cleaning.  To reduce “souvenir seekers” from acquiring items not sold at the resort… that is everything that originally had the Walt Disney World logo – from dishes to towels to trash cans and virtually anything that wasn’t nailed down – was removed from those items and replaced with more generic ones.

The name of the hotel even has a story. In David Koenig’s book, Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World, the working title everyone referred to the hotel as was the Contemporary Hotel.  Marty Sklar always had reservations about using that name as it might “stick.”  In early 1971 they came up with the permanent name, the Tempo Bay Hotel. Roy Disney had also known the hotel as the Contemporary Hotel and when he saw the plans for a Tempo Bay Hotel he wanted to know what that hotel was. When he learned the Contemporary was only the working title, he said, “I just don’t like it.  I like Contemporary. I like names that are simple and say what they are. The other name is phony and plastic.”  Shortly after that everything was changed and now bore its new name – the Contemporary Resort Hotel. The Contemporary Resort Hotel is an ever-changing resort. No matter how many times you visit the Magic Kingdom, there are certain sights that immediately transport you back to your very first visit. The monorail gliding through the Contemporary brings you back every time. Let’s take a trip back to when Bob Hope opened the brand new Contemporary Resort Hotel:

 
 
 
***********
 
 

Keith Michael Mahne is the owner and editor of Disney Avenue and the host of the Disney Avenue Podcast. He has made countless trips to the Walt Disney World resort since his first trip in 1989 at the age of four. Keith has a strong passion and respect for Walt Disney, the parks and resorts, and the men and women who help create them. He started Disney Avenue as a way to inform and entertain readers and to repay all those who make dreams come true everyday.



Disney Avenue Podcast – Show #3 – Marty Sklar

The Disney Avenue Podcast is back with a guest I think you may have heard of…Marty Sklar! Dusty Sage, founder and CEO of MiceChat.com, joins host Keith Michael Mahne for another fantastic interview with a man that needs no introduction. Marty talks about joining the company, working and writing for Walt Disney, his old pals John Hench and Herb Ryman, finding out Walt had passed away, whether he will attend the opening of Shanghai Disney and so much more. This is a show you definitely won’t want to miss. Continue after the page break for more…

As former vice chairman and principal creative executive of Walt Disney Imagineering, Marty Sklar stood as a dedicated torchbearer of Walt Disney’s philosophy since first joining the company a month before Disneyland opened in 1955. He helped express and preserve Walt’s spirit of optimism, happiness, and hope for the future through attractions and special exhibitions in Disney theme parks around the world.

For more than 50 years, Walt’s inspiration has burned in Marty. He once said, “Working with Walt Disney was the greatest ‘training by fire’ anyone could ever experience. Our training was by Walt, who was always there pitching in with new ideas and improving everyone else’s input. The fire was that we were constantly breaking new ground to create deadline projects never attempted before in this business. That, I’m proud to say, has never stopped in my years at Disney.”

During his early years at Disney, Marty not only learned Walt’s philosophy firsthand, but metabolized and translated it into materials he wrote for the master showman which were used in publications, television appearances, and special films. Among them was a 20-minute movie devoted to communicating Walt’s vision of EPCOT, his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, originally intended to help resolve the urban challenges found in American cities.

Marty first became an Imagineering officer in 1974 when appointed vice president, concepts and planning, a role in which he guided creative development of Epcot Center at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. In 1979, he was named vice president of creative development, followed by executive vice president in 1982. He served as president and vice chairman from 1987 to 1996.
As vice chairman, Marty provided leadership for the Imagineering creative staff, delivering breakthrough entertainment concepts for Disney parks and resorts including Disneyland Paris, the Tokyo Disney Resort, and Hong Kong Disneyland.

In 2001, Marty was recognized as a Disney Legend. He retired from Disney on July 17, 2009, after 53 years with Disney. He currently serves as president of Ryman Arts, whose Ryman Program for Young Artists honors the late Herb Ryman. More information on the Ryman Arts can be found at here. Enjoy the show…

//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/3065336/height/360/width/640/theme/standard/direction/no/autoplay/no/autonext/no/thumbnail/yes/preload/no/no_addthis/no/

This episode of the Disney Avenue Podcast is brought to you by the O-Zell Soda Company. All proceeds go to restoring and preserving Walt Disney’s Birthplace home in Chicago, IL!

 
 
 

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

(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i[‘GoogleAnalyticsObject’]=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,’script’,’//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js’,’ga’); ga(‘create’, ‘UA-52889002-1’, ‘auto’); ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);

Tomorrowland is Today: Technology at Disney World

By Lindsey Allmon

There are some things that are inherently Disney: Mickey bars, cherubic Small World figurines, and a dedication to an atmosphere that transports you to another world. While these are treasured constants about the most Wonderful Place on Earth, there has been and always will be room for growth. Walt Disney was always a poster child for innovation and revolutionary ideas and in his absence the Disney Corporation has kept on with his legacy. Continue after the break for a recap of some of the newest technological updates to grace the Disney Parks…







Magic Bands

Perhaps the newest edition to the parks (and the most talked about) is the handy new Magic Bands that are donning wrists throughout the park. This tech piece has some very good pros, and yet some pretty significant downsides. On the pro side of things, that little band is EVERYTHING! If you are staying on property it’s your room key, park ticket, credit card, and your fast pass holder. Aside from carrying essentials like your phone, sunscreen, or a water bottle, your Magic Band is all that’s necessary for a fun-filled day in the parks and you don’t need to keep reaching for your wallet every time you hop into the Fast Pass line. That being said, they are clunky and their plastic material traps sweat which can be uncomfortable in the Florida heat. They also contain a battery that isn’t replaceable so you won’t be able to keep the same Magic Band for years, leading to unnecessary waste. I love to see a thinner, more stylish version of the band introduced in the coming years.

Fast Pass +

The newest version of Disney’s line skipping protocol has some very big pros and cons. The new Fast Pass + is controlled via My Disney Experience app which is insanely handy. No waiting in a line just to get a pass to jump another line. Because you procure your fast passes on your phone you don’t actually have to be in the park to get them as they load directly to your Magic Band (No more keeping track of those tiny slips of paper). You can select fast passes days, even weeks in advance so for those of you who are the planning type, Fast Pass + is the best thing since sliced bread. However, for a family like mine, it is a bit of an annoyance. My family had fast passes down to a science, with a clever system of acquiring them that got us up to five or six fast passes per day. The new system limits you to only three per day, four if you go to a kiosk within the park after all 3 fast passes have expired, meaning that if you are not purposeful with you may only get three. It’s also easier for fast passes to run out. The new Fantasyland Mine Train was rid of fast passes the entire week that we were there, something that we could have avoided had there been traditional fast pass kiosks.
 
 
 
 

The Magic Rose at Be Our Guest

You know those little beepers you are given at restaurants when there is a long wait? Well, Disney just upped the ante. Dinner at Be Our Guest is traditional table service, but Disney has introduced updated tech that combines the relaxation of a sit down meal with the speed of a quick service for lunch. Here’s how this works; first, you are handed a menu and placed into a line heading towards the ordering terminals, enjoying the ambiance of the not-so-silent guards in the castle hallway. Once you arrive at the ordering terminals you are handed a hockey puck sized plastic rose. You scan the rose into terminals where you place your order. You get to input your own order, cutting down on mistakes in your order. Once you finish, you pay and go grab a table in one of the three amazing dining rooms. You grab your own drinks and silverware and your rose does its final job. When your food is ready, servers will actually bring your food directly to your table, the rose having a tracking device in it so that they can find your table. To compare this to most other quick service restaurants, it is worlds better. No more scrambling over people to get your meal, no more shouting orders to be heard over bustling crowds. Honestly, I think all of Disney quick service should take a cue from Be Our Guest. It’s one of the best ideas I’ve seen Disney come up with in a long time.

 

Well there you have it, some of the new technological advances that Disney has made recently. I can’t wait to see what else Disney will come up with.
(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i[‘GoogleAnalyticsObject’]=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,’script’,’//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js’,’ga’); ga(‘create’, ‘UA-52889002-1’, ‘auto’); ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);

*********
 
 
 
 
Lindsey Allmon is a great lover of all things Disney and has been from the moment she was born. Lindsey is eager to share her knowledge of Disney with all of you. She is twenty one years old and hails from a suburb just southwest of Columbus, Ohio. Recently Lindsey graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from The Ohio State University with hopes of becoming a screenwriter. Her hobbies include reading, baking, singing obnoxiously loud in her car and shower, perfecting her Pinterest boards, and watching movies. In addition to that, she is planning her Tangled and Paperman themed wedding to her wonderful fiancé, Colby. As far as her Disney history goes, Lindsey’s first trip was before she was a year old and she has made a trip nearly every year since, both as a basic family vacation and as a performer during Magic Music Days and the Magic Kingdom parade prior to the fireworks spectacular Wishes. She has been through countless park changes and stayed at approximately 10 different Disney Hotels. Her favorite character of all time is Maleficent. As a general rule Lindsey tends to love villains the most as she thinks they have some of the best lines, and who can resist a diabolical laugh? Her favorite Disney movie is easily Mary Poppins. When Lindsey was little all she wanted to watch was Mary Poppins over and over again, and as she grew older she realized the perfection that is Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. Lindsey’s favorite Disney Park is the World Showcase section of Epcot. She loves traveling and the World Showcase is a great way to experience so many different cultures at once. Fun Fact: Every year her parents buy her an oyster at the Japan Pavilion. The pearls from these oysters have all been saved and will be strung into a necklace that Lindsey will wear on her wedding day. Her favorite ride is Splash Mountain. Lindsey’s articles will focus on navigating Disney World as well as providing some great insider info about the history of the company and the parks.



How does Disneyland work? …Just read the signs…

By Mark Landucci



I have thought about the reasons why Disneyland appeals to families, to people of all ages from every walk of life… and to me, personally….And why it continues to do so. At first thought, it’s quite easy for people to come up with the obvious reasons: I go because I like the rides, I go because I like the food, I go because I like the fireworks, I go because I like the feelings I get when I’m there and I go because it brings back fond memories for me. Are all of these valid reasons? Yes! However, while Disneyland is an excellent vehicle for helping you to remember earlier visits with families and friends or what it was like to be a kid…Perhaps its strongest feature is helping you to forget. You see, I think it’s something more organic, more external and more subtle. And I think the real answer is right there in front of you. Continue after the page break for more…




As you enter the park, just past the gates, when you’re gathering yourself, gathering your family and taking the traditional picture in front of the floral Mickey Mouse, it’s easy to miss. But as you pass through either tunnel, you should look up and read the sign.




Tunnel Signage



Now, I think it’s quite common to focus on three words, Yesterday, Tomorrow and Fantasy. And Disneyland does a wonderful job at making sure you do just that. Because just beyond Main Street USA, you are given the option of either entering a world of Adventure, Yesterday, Fantasy or Tomorrow….and there are even more engaging worlds beyond those.


 And it hits you fast… somewhere, as you walk down Main Street USA, you seem to forget. Maybe it’s the music or the piped in scents or the lights…or maybe a combination of all three. For Disneyland’s 50thAnniversary, Julie Andrews said it best: “Disneyland was Walt’s gift to a weary world. Once you pass through its gates, the stress and strife of our everyday reality seems to melt away…”

 But why does this work? Why do you forget? What and where are your thoughts focused?  Well, I think it’s important to consider the first four words: Here you leave today.  Pause….Read it again… Here you leave today….And it’s just that.  Today is gone. There are no indications inside the park that present is active and alive. There is no Todayland. Can you imagine what a Todayland might even look like?? You can’t get a Dole Whip in Todayland! What kinds of attractions would even be in Todayland??? The only links that you might stumble across are things like Starbucks© and Nikon©. The former was met with groans and sighs from the Disney purists. It’s important to note that corporate sponsors (and their products) have always been a part of the Disneyland culture, whether subdued or not. 



 And this is how it works. Clever, clever, clever Imagineers spent countless hours trying to come up with things to divert your attention. Forced perspectives, subtle colors, ambient music.  What you’re drawn towards and what you’re being pulled from-all by design. In fact, one of the first elements in the design process was to build a berm around the perimeter of the park. This was to keep the outside world and its distractions from entering the experience. And you just thought they needed some place to put all that extra dirt when digging the Rivers of America and the Jungle Cruise!  New Orleans Square, while charming, quaint and nostalgic, was built to not only provide a new experience for the guests, but to block out the view of the Disneyland Hotel.





A very early image of Disneyland showing the entire berm


You, as the guest, aren’t given the chance to even consider today. That isn’t on the menu.


 And for some, that’s a good thing. Not to say that the present is any worse than the past or the future. It’s just to say that the present is suspended or outright ignored. And that can be a good thing because the past is meant to evoke memories of an easier time. A time with less worries, less responsibilities. The future is filled with optimism and hope of what’s to come. Fantasy is filled with things that strike a delicate chord inside of us all.  The present, well, it’s all you can feel, touch and smell….that’s the here and now. But, in Disneyland, the here and now is Adventure, Fantasy, Yesterday and Tomorrow.



 But Disneyland serves, at different levels for different people, a means of escapism. John Hench was quoted as saying: “What we are selling is not escapism, but reassurance.” He’s right, of course. Mostly. But I honestly believe that guests, at least the adults with responsibilities and mortgages and anxieties, all find a form of escapism. If, for even five minutes, you can scream while racing through icy caverns or laugh uncontrollably while riding with your child on Autopia, then you have escaped. Even for those five minutes, you aren’t living in today. You’re living in the moment. Disneyland wins.

Another form of escapism is displayed by guests entering the park dressed as their favorite characters. I’ve seen countless adults do just this. Not my cup of tea. But that’s okay.  I just observe and give them a nod and think, okay, they’re letting their guards down a bit….and this is good, this is escapism. What they’re escaping from is irrelevant.  And Disneyland welcomes this.  And when others come to the park, dressed in character, then there’s a collective consciousness amongst them. Again, Disneyland welcomes them with open arms.



I’m sure not many people give this much thought. I know I’m a bit of an over thinker when it comes to things like this. But I challenge you to look for things within the park that pull you in a certain way. I want you to observe the things that aren’t there.  But mostly, I want you to relax and let things go. It’s quite alright to do so.


Until next time.

(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i[‘GoogleAnalyticsObject’]=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,’script’,’//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js’,’ga’); ga(‘create’, ‘UA-52889002-1’, ‘auto’); ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);
*********
 
 
Mark Landucci comes to us from Northern California where he’s lived his entire life. He has a degree in Journalism from Sacramento State and continues to be a professional writer. Mark’s interest in Disneyland can be traced from the late 70’s when he made his first visit to the park. Instead of buying balloons, candy, t-shirts or hats, Mark’s only souvenir requests were the large park maps. He’d bring them home, open them up on the floor and stare at every detail. This is something he may (or may not) admit to still doing! Mark had a yearly subscription to the E-Ticket magazine and continues to look for missing magazines to fill his collection. In addition, he likes to read books about Disneyland as well as biographies of some of the men and women that built the park. Additionally, he listens to podcasts centered around Disneyland and Disneyworld. He is eager to discuss any facet regarding the design, history, future, attractions and social importance of the parks. In fact, Mark often offers a different view of the parks and what they mean. While he favors Disneyland, he’s warming up to the idea of Disneyworld. Maybe he’s humidifying up to the idea of Disneyworld J. Either way, he believes they both offer something unique.
Being the father of two daughters, he seems to live vicariously through them when they go to the parks. And daily conversations about the parks, including trivia about the parks is quite commonplace. I think they get annoyed with Mark, but don’t tell him that. Mark will write somewhat humorous articles that cover: attractions, history, design and maybe delve into the esoteric elements that Disneyland has to offer.


Disney Avenue Welcomes Mark Landucci

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

Hi there. My name is Mark. I live in Northern California and am quite passionate about Disneyland and its design and history. My goal is to bring interesting and engaging topics to DisneyAvenue.com. I enjoy reading, discussing and learning about Disneyland and other Disney properties. While I’m well versed in the parks in Anaheim, I’m slowly learning about the history and design of the other parks. It should be an enjoyable adventure.
 
**********
 
Mark’s first article will be available for your reading pleasure tomorrow; be sure to check back then. You can find an in depth bio on Mark by heading over to our Contributing Writers page. We are still looking for a couple more writers to join Disney Avenue. If you are also passionate about Disney and the theme parks and have an interest in sharing your thoughts, then Disney Avenue would love to have you join our team. You can contact us at keith@disneyavenue.com. Oh, and don’t forget to like us on Facebook. 

(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i[‘GoogleAnalyticsObject’]=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,’script’,’//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js’,’ga’); ga(‘create’, ‘UA-52889002-1’, ‘auto’); ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);