A Jazzy "Part of Your World" Cover

By Keith Mahne

A friend of Disney Avenue, Andrew Berg of the Andrew Berg Quartet, reached out to me recently about a wonderful video he and his friends created featuring a bossa nova cover of “Part of Your World” from “The Little Mermaid”. I really think a lot of Disney fans will certainly appreciate it. Another fun fact is that all the musicians are either Cast Members or Annual Passholders of Disneyland! I must say, I really enjoy their cover and have even added it to the Disney Avenue music player which can be accessed via our desktop site. Continue after the page break for an amazing cover of “Part of Your World”…

Andrew Berg, the producer, arranger, and writer of the album pictured above, tells me this song came from their work this past Summer, entitled A Close Goodbye, and this is one of the tracks from it. Andrew says that it’s mainly all jazz, but they have a few that are more contemporary covers such as a Blues version of “Wrecking Ball”. The group hopes to record more jazz covers covering everything from pop, to musicals, to rap, and of course Disney. They are all students of California State University, Fullerton and everyone on it is just a friend who wanted to help Andrew make the album. As I mentioned earlier, they are all Cast Members or Annual Passholders of Disneyland and so it only made sense to include a Disney song on the album.

Have a look at their work and be sure to let Andrew and the other musicians know what you thought in the comments below:

Catherine Traceski – Vocals
Andrew Berg – Saxophone
Stephen Dizon – Drums
Danny Anaya – Guitar
Michael Selfridge – Bass

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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.
 

 

 
 
 


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Tale of Two EPCOTs – Part I

By EPCOT Explorer

EPCOT has always had the rare distinction of having its conceptual core rooted in Walt Disney’s litany of personal products and projects. As one of the last ideas to come from the world’s greatest showman, The Walt Disney Company has always striven to tie EPCOT, as an entity, to their founder so as to appear respectful to his legacy and grand plans for the Walt Disney World Resort. Of course, the Florida property itself was the engine for Walt’s original idea for a grand center of urban planning and industry, so the narrative of both city and resort are highly intertwined. All of this remains inherent, even today, despite the city never materializing, and instead a theme park being built bearing the iconic and storied acronym. Continue after the page break for part 1 of a Tale of Two EPCOTs

Part I- The Challenge and Commitment to the EPCOT Theme Center

Although the lofty goals for the city were abandoned and instead its thematic underpinnings of futurism and world fellowship were slowly shifted toward a park, this infamous dichotomy is even more fractured and convoluted than it appears. Dick Nunis was a major influence in shifting the concept of EPCOT City to EPCOT Center. This was done for a multitude of reasons, excuses ranging from the sheer difficulty of building an urban center in the middle of what was slowly becoming the world’s premier vacation destination, to the fact that the techniques and technologies used in Walt Disney World were very similar to the plans that Walt had for his city. The latter fact was espoused in a especially flamboyant way. Nunis declared that Disney World was already EPCOT and the plans for a theme park were the capstone of an already grand achievement.

But even before all this, in 1974 and 1975, the ideas for EPCOT were scattered and varied. Painfully obvious to Disney leadership, the city that Walt Disney planned for his Florida venture would not be built. So, instead, they co-opted the main points of the idea and set them in motion in the most curious of ways. The first was expanding Lake Buena Vista into a more urban setting and applying some of EPCOT City’s organization and futuristic treatments, such as a large extension of Disney World’s transportation line, with a WEDway Peoplemover and a monorail track. These plans faltered.

The other two plans are much more familiar: A large showplace for the cultures of the world and international fellowship, and another series of showplaces dedicated to the enterprise and industry that drove the futuristic and streamlined operations of WDW itself.

Keeping in mind that these two projects were separate, the transition from EPCOT City to EPCOT Center begins in a state of independence and slow transformation from one idea, to two ideas, and back to one idea again. This split is intrinsically based in the politics and economy of the Walt Disney World Resort in those heady, early days.

Walt Disney Productions Chairman, Donn Tatum

On July 15th 1976, Walt Disney Productions Chairman, Donn Tatum, spoke at the EPCOT Future Technology Conference, hosted at the Contemporary Resort to express the hope that the Vacation Kingdom could become the host of corporate investment, technological enterprise and an example of practical urban fellowship.

Expounding on the lofty goals of the “EPCOT Theme Center”, Tatum reveals the premise for this “EPCOT Satellite” is one concurrent with the later plans for Future World. Regardless, there are differences in intent, scope, topics, and the corporate reasoning backing the project. The most striking of these philosophical proposals is the notion that the concept of enterprise was well within the bounds of the entertainment industry that Tatum placed Disney squarely into. In his own words, Tatum refers to this as the  “presumptuousness that we have had in a long experience in communication with the public through tangible means, many which were innovative and usually effective, in understanding the importance and empathy in science and technology”. 

Despite being very long winded, this isn’t far from the truth. Disney’s brand of entertainment had always been centered in fantasy, but aspects of it reflected educational and forward thinking ventures into the worlds of nature and science. Tomorrowland, at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom, had been the first real examples of that, as showplaces dedicated to subjects such as aerospace and industrial chemistry. The EPCOT Theme Center was to be the culmination and “master plan” of these individual efforts. And, in a more oblique sense, this showplace of industrial know-how would have backed up the mission statement of Walt Disney World and it’s bevy of space age and progressive operations.

Tatum’s reliance on Nunis’ segue concerning the Walt Disney World property as the original EPCOT hinged on how WDW and EPCOT was perceived by the public, and more importantly, the industry leaders he brokered his plan to in May of 1976. In this change, specific wording was chosen to emphasize the broad nature of “community” in EPCOT’s meaning. Instead of employing the strict term of community in the sense that involved people living in an urban setting, the definition was stretched to match Donn Tatum’s meaning of “meeting place for ideas and information transfer”. This center for communication, was essentially to be a company forum to “stimulate comment and discussion within scientific communities” and the forum itself was conceptualized  “with the grand ambition of establishing EPCOT as an on-going meeting place where creative people of science and industry from around the world may gather to discuss and communicate concerning specific solutions to the specific needs of mankind.” 

This, here, is the catch. EPCOT has been altered from a grand city in the center of Walt Disney World to a meeting place, a place where the public could see the testing of technologies and systems that helped run the Disney organization, and even the world. Tatum’s perspicacious wording (All of mankind! All of it! ) certainly give the connotation of grand challenge and promise to be met and found with EPCOT. Card Walker writes that in order to attain Walt Disney’s goal for EPCOT, “We (Walt Disney Productions) must avoid building a huge, traditional “brick and mortar” community which might possibly become obsolete, in EPCOT terms, as soon as it is completed. We believe we must develop a community system oriented to the communication of new ideas, rather than serving the day-to-day needs of a limited number of permanent residents. EPCOT’s purpose therefor will be to respond to the needs of people, everywhere in a Disney designed and Disney managed forum.”

The city is no more. A plan for a showplace is just beginning.

I won’t comment on if this is a bad thing or a good thing for Disney history. I can’t. I don’t think anyone can. Walt’s dream of the future was utterly sublime. I believe that he, and he alone, could have established a working city in the middle of a Florida swamp that was now becoming the paramount entertainment destination in the world. This is not to say that I think his subordinates and followers could not have done this. But I think in the heady days of Walt Disney’s passing and the stressful years that accompanied the opening of Walt Disney World, the company was paralyzed with self doubt, and the need to assert themselves as being dynamic and driving in the world of entertainment. Modifying the EPCOT concept was, perhaps, a way to be broader in terms of public reach and understanding. Tatum makes several illusions to this.

Happily ahead of the Five Year Plan designed by Walt for the resort, The Magic Kingdom was at an operating capacity of 70,000; equal to Disneyland, a park 16 years its senior! Disney World had increased it’s capacity with a flurry of construction in Tomorrowland, adding the Carousel of Progress, the WEDway Peoplemover, the Star Jets, and the iconic (and first!) Space Mountain. Disney also added Pirates of the Caribbean, which contributed to operational capacity in the theme park. All of this, in turn, would set up Disney World to have the ability to plot the course for a new venue and stage in their entertainment development.

Tatum alludes to this progress as being part of the EPCOT Building Code, one of the oldest components of the EPCOT concept to be instituted in Walt Disney World. This specific mandate for building and growth in WDW was set in place in the planning stages of the resort to foster  “an environment that will stimulate the best thinking in the industry” and to exemplify Disney’s commitment to progressive initiatives, technologies, and techniques. This commitment was the foundation of the Reedy Creek Development District’s (Walt Disney World’s governmental association) modus operandi for construction and the use of new techniques.  One of these techniques was the WEDway Peoplemover, newly instated in Tomorrowland. The EPCOT Satellite program would have instituted the use of this transportation to great effect with a series of trains and lines linking the separate pavilions. It is possible that a secondary monorail system was also conceptualized, as these rare renderings show.

 
 

All of these concepts and plans had originally been in place in preparation for the development of EPCOT City. Considering the similarities in intent between city and showplace, the transition to the EPCOT Theme Center is not complicated. It simply means that instead of creating an environment in which people would live in, an environment of showcasing and exposition would be built with the same underpinnings, instead. The drive of Walt Disney Productions in terms of their educational entertainment, their practices in building and running a resort, and the growth of that resort expedite the transformation and transition of City into Theme Center. The fundamental ideology remains; only the face of the initiative is to be different.

Thus, the EPCOT Theme Center is the main EPCOT Satellite to be conceptualized. Closest to the ideas that Walt Disney had for his Florida Project, the design and topics to be addressed will look familiar in more ways in one. First, this is a reflection of the past hopes for company, hopes set on revolutionizing urban planning and industry. Secondly, they are in step with the final product, EPCOT Center’s Future World. There are some large differences in execution, but for all intents and purposes, the ideological drive of Future World and the EPCOT Theme Center are one and the same.

Card Walker, President of Walt Disney Productions, explained the EPCOT Theme Center some time after Tatum’s address:

Taking a broad approach to showcasing the world and its challenges the EPCOT Theme Center would have been a series of exhibits and shows dedicated to vital topics. The headliner attraction in 1975? CommuniCore! Described as a communications corridor, CommuniCore was set to be a multilateral pavilion, and part of the EPCOT Theme Satellite that would have  introduced guests to the EPCOT concept and exhibits.  Included in this would have been the EPCOT Overview Circle Vision Theaters which would have tailored their content to meet the guests on the day of their arrival, and the ongoing events at the EPCOT Satellite Centers.

The World City model would have “combined advanced entertainment techniques in miniaturization,  projection, and animation to show and trace the evolution of urban life that would show off the model community that EPCOT hoped to inspire. This concept seems very similar to the 1939 New York World’s Fair exhibit “Democracity”, which was housed within the Trylon and Perisphere and would have shown off a model city of the future. It is very possible that this idea inspired EPCOT’s vision of an urban display, and in turn, that vision of a city inspired the smaller tabluex seen in Spaceship Earth, the World of Motion, and Horizons, once EPCOT Center actually came to fruition. The World City model would have been at the center of the Information Gallery, which was described as an “Information Main Street” and would have centered on global and corporate communications. It is very probable that this entire concept would evolve into Spaceship Earth. The EPCOT Information Network was a major educational component to this, and in the built version of CommuniCore a similar idea did come to exist in the Teacher’s EPCOT Discovery Center.

Surrounding CommuniCore would have existed three major pavilions dedicated to three separate areas of interest. Think of Future World East and West in separate, large buildings, that contained all of their respective pavilions.  The three pavilions to the EPCOT Future World Theme Center would have centered in Community, Science and Technology, and Communications and The Arts. Keeping in mind that these plans are highly conceptual, there is a lot of overlap between the three main pavilions and the afore-mentioned CommuniCore pavilion.

The first in the series of Theme Center Pavilions would have been the Science and Technology Pavilion, which would have housed many attractions similar in theme to final versions that came to populate Future World in 1982.. Energy, Transportation, Oceanography would have all been featured in interlinking exhibits.

The Community Pavilion would have been a more humanistic experience, and dealt with health care, education, and even economics and government services.

And finally, the Communication and the Arts pavilion would have served as an engine for abstraction into the worlds of performance, be it in a physical, visual, or design based sense. Considering the topics the pavilion would have covered, this might be the first instance of the idea for an imagination pavilion.

What’s different about these pavilions from the final, topic driven attractions that were finally built in 1982 is their emphasis on education and the viability of having people come to EPCOT to learn and to apply their ideas in whatever profession they came from. There are various references to allowing for government workers and even economists to demonstrate and communicate their ideas and works in these settings. On the lowest level, it sounds like some corporate fantasy camp. On its most sincere, hopeful, and optimistic level, this version of EPCOT is made out to be a forum of futurism and promise. The heart of the matter is what astonishing potential the entire project exudes. Despite being corporately founded, Card Walker seems to rely on the fact that the EPCOT Theme Center is to be nonpartisan and non biased. Hopefully true, it is hard to imagine this without a veneer of cynicism directed to a corporation that is trying to be benevolent. Interestingly enough, Card Walker made the distinction of the EPCOT Theme Center as being non-profit for Disney, but leaving them in control of the design process. However, the content would have been totally in the power of the companies and agencies directing the pavilion’s intent. This is a fine line to walk in the power struggle between presenter and the intended effect of the instillation. At every turn there could have been conflict and clashing intents between Disney’s almost benevolent need to display industry, and a corporate desire to make profit.  Then again, this is Disney. This was the 70’s. Anything was possible. The final product of EPCOT Center, itself, while very corporate, was not biased in its intensions, and quite optimistic in its outlook. It is very possible that this similar mood would have dominated this early EPCOT venture.

In closing, it is appropriate not to truly compare these concepts and ideas to the final product, nor is it altogether plausible to bemoan the fact that they never happened. Instead, one must thoughtfully consider the background in which these concepts were dreamed up, and how and why they either reached fruition after being remolded and reshaped dozens of times. These concepts and ideas for EPCOT and the EPCOT Theme Center are part of the dynamic history and story that comes to settle around the grand vision for civic and technological betterment. Further, they are snapshots of the ideology governing a rapidly changing Walt Disney Company. Together, they form an indelible story of daring, optimism, and strike an interesting chord for the enterprise of themed entertainment and exhibition.

In Part II we will look at the ideas and plans that were behind the Walt Disney World Showcase, the other half of EPCOT.

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EPCOT Explorer has been visiting the Walt Disney World Resort since he was 2 years old and has recently just made his first visit to Disneyland. EPCOT Explorer’s first ‘Disney’ interest is the history of EPCOT Center of his youth and the brand of optimism, futurism, and culture that was originally found in the park. Other interests include the thematic interplay of design elements in Disneyland and the Magic Kingdoms that make these theme parks repositories of culture and Americana. EPCOT Explorer is also interested in the World’s Fairs for their connections to EPCOT and tiki culture, since the return of the Enchanted Tiki Room to Walt Disney World in 2011. EE’s writings often focus on the minutia of Disney’s enterprises and attempt to uncover how and why the parks function in the manner that they do. EPCOT Explorer is currently a graduate student and Teaching Assistant in History at Florida International University. EPCOTEXPLORER.TUMBLR.COM
 
 

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A Walk in the Park: Disneyland Edition – Lunar New Year 2015

By Daisy Sparks

Last weekend I had a chance to check out the Lunar New Year festivities at Disney California Adventure. They have offered this celebration the last couple of years now. The Lunar New Year events were only offered this past weekend (Thursday – Sunday) so it was pretty popular due to its very limited engagement. Join me as we take a look at the event in this week’s A Walk in the Park: Disneyland Edition article…

There is just enough Disney mixed into the Lunar New Year celebration. It was all located at Paradise Garden in Paradise Pier. I learned that there is a big focus on family being together during this annual celebration.

There were several activities that you could participate in. You could sit at these Mickey decorated tables together with your friends or family to color and create a paper lanterns. There was face painting offered at an extra charge. You could also write down a New Year’s wish and leave them on the Wishing Wall.

One of the best things about these special Disneyland holiday offerings is seeing some characters you would not normally see like Mushu and Mulan. There was a long line to meet Minnie and Mickey dressed up in traditional red Chinese attire. They were enjoying being in front of the cameras. The character greeting in this area was only available 11am-5pm so it was pretty popular as the wait line snaked through the area.

Here is the food and merchandise that was offered. I couldn’t resist the Boudin sourdough shaped bread.

You have to kind of take a second look at the goat/sheep/ram head baked in the round bread. Boudin Bakery every now and then makes special shaped bread for holiday events.

There was also live entertainment available in the gazebo area. I also caught this dragon dance that took place right outside the entrance area.

Here were the signs they had on display to help people discover what their Chinese Zodiac is.

Almost a week ago, the Disney Parks Blog shared a post titled: “Chinese Zodiac and Disney Characters in ‘The Garden of Twelve Friends’ Shanghai Disney Resort”. Go to THIS POST and you can see some of the Disney characters that were chosen to symbolize the Chinese Zodiac.

It’s great that Disneyland continues to offer multicultural holiday celebrations when they can and in areas of the Parks where it makes sense. These limited time offerings are examples of how Disneyland Parks can connect with the local population and tap into the multicultural Southern California communities. It also supports the idea that Disneyland is for all ages.

“The important thing is the family. If you can keep the family together – and that’s the backbone of our whole business, catering to families – that’s what we hope to do.”
-Walt Disney

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Daisy Sparks grew up in Southern California and Disneyland was a regular part of her life. While in college, she started working at Disneyland as a Main Street Merchandise Host. Her “college job” led to 12 adventurous years working with Mickey Mouse. She was a trained Magic Demonstrator, Hat Writer and was even signed off as a Disneyland Monorail Ride Operator. Daisy loved every minute of it while she held various management positions in Merchandise, Business Operations and Attractions. 
Daisy is married to her college sweetheart, David (a former Jungle Cruise Skipper). David solicited Daisy’s Duck’s help in memorable engagement proposal that took place at Disneyland’s Club 33. Daisy left Disneyland in May 2001 to raise her two daughters. She continues to visit the Disneyland Resort multiple times a week as a Guest. Daisy particularly loves the Disneyland heritage because of all of the little details and stories that make it “the happiest place on earth.”
You can read more about Daisy’s Disneyland adventures over on her personal blog at DisneyDaze .






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Mickey’s Birthdayland 1988-1990

By Keith Mahne

In 1988, the year of Mickey Mouse’s 60th birthday, Walt Disney World celebrated the opening of Mickey’s Birthdayland. The land was themed as Duckburg the town from the Ducktales show. Mickey’s Birthdayland attractions included: Grandma Duck’s Farm with live animals (chickens, ducks, goats, pigs, cows and miniature horses), Mickey’s house including a Birthday Party Tent in the back yard which featured Minnie’s Surprise Party, a Mickey Mouse meet and greet in the dressing room at Mickey’s Hollywood Theatre, a train station for the Walt Disney World railroad, and a live show featuring Disney characters. Join us as we take a look back to 1988 and the opening of Mickey’s Birthdayland…

At the end of Mickey’s 60th Birthday celebration on April 22, 1990, Mickey’s Birthdayland closed and was reopened and renamed on May 26, 1990 to Mickey’s Starland. Mickey’s Starland was then later updated and became Mickey’s Toontown Fair on June 29, 1996. Mickey’s Toontown Fair was closed on February 11, 2011 in order to build the Fantasyland extension.

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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.
 
 



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Motion Mondays: Walt Disney’s Home Movies

By Keith Mahne

This week’s Motion Mondays article is one of my favorites so far and is pretty special. They feature some clips from Walt Disney’s home movies. Continue after the page break and have a look…

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Main Street Cinema: Getting Past the Noise

By Randy Crane

The Main Street Cinema is a quaint little attraction on Main Street U.S.A., and a nice place to get out of the sun (or rain) for a while. It’s also a great reminder of the power of focus—and how important that is. What little detail have you possibly missed that teaches this? Continue after the page break for more…

One of the “hidden in plain sight” gems of Main Street U.S.A. is the Main Street Cinema. An Opening Day attraction, the Main Street Cinema shows (in black and white) six animated shorts from the early years of Mickey and the Gang while a recorded musical accompaniment plays.

As of this writing, the six shorts playing are:

● Mickey’s Polo Team
● Traffic Troubles
● The Dognapper
● The Moose Hunt
● Steamboat Willie
● Plane Crazy

This theatre is a great place to get out of the sun (or rain) and enjoy some classic cartoons. It also contains something that most people aren’t aware of, and it’s here we find our lesson.

Of the six cartoon shorts playing, only one plays its own soundtrack. All the rest have musical accompaniment playing throughout the room as their only soundtrack. The one that plays its own? Steamboat Willie.

What makes this factoid interesting and significant is that you must pay close attention to even notice it. The music playing in the room is good, and it fits the Cinema, but it’s relatively loud. The soundtrack for Steamboat Willie, by comparison, is quiet. You have to be standing right in front of it and paying attention to hear it clearly. If you don’t listen for it, you’ll probably miss it. Only Steamboat Willie has a unique soundtrack, but you must listen carefully and filter out the other (good) music and sound to hear it.

There’s a lot of “noise” in the world today, and not all of it is bad. Worthwhile movies and TV shows vie for our attention, as do countless good books. Thanks to Live365, Pandora, Spotify, and other services there is almost no limit to the music you can listen to. Thousands of podcasts on almost every conceivable subject are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and other services.

Technology has brought us a wealth of content that is encouraging, fun, entertaining, educational, and even valuable. But it’s easy to get caught up in the “noise,” and when we do, we miss the sound that’s constantly playing in the background.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” (Isaiah 30:21)

People make time for a favorite TV show (or shows, the average person over age fifteen spends 2.7 hours per day watching TV—that’s nineteen hours per week, or 983 hours per year, almost forty-one days!). We also listen to podcasts, go to movies and parties, read reports or the newspaper, etc. But how much time do we spend listening to God? Reading His Word? Praying? Spending time in natural surroundings and listening to Him speak through His creation?

This is not about “guilting” us into action (or inaction, as the case may be), it’s about helping us to become intentionally aware of our priorities and encouraging us to listen better. God’s voice is always there, but we can miss it through the noise of life, or because what we’re listening for (i.e. the way out of a troubled relationship) is not what He’s saying (“Let Me work in your heart and change you”).

Listen carefully. Filter out the noise—even if it’s “good” noise. His voice is there.

Takeaway: What is one way you can filter out some of the noise in your life and listen for Him?

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 Randy Crane is a highly-regarded speaker and author, presenting engaging and thought-provoking messages on a variety of topics. He has a natural rapport and connection with audiences that makes them relate well to him, engage in his presentations, and come away with a fresh understanding of the subject at hand. Randy is also the host of the “Stories of the Magic” unofficial Disney podcast, where he interviews people from throughout the Disney company, from front-line Cast Members to Legends. Randy grew up in the church, but—like many others—wandered away from the faith for a time in high school. Now, he is an ordained minister, with both a Bachelor’s degree in Church Ministry (emphasis in Preaching) and a Master’s degree in Congregational Leadership from Hope International University in Fullerton, CA. He has been preaching and teaching since 1998, and has been a drummer/percussionist on church worship teams since 1992. He married his wonderful wife Faye in November of 2000 and they are expecting their first child in April of 2015. Randy is the author of two books, Once Upon YOUR Time and Faith and the Magic Kingdom.

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Disney Characters Shadow Unsuspecting Mall Shoppers

By Keith Mahne

A friend of Disney Avenue brought a wonderful little video to my attention recently that I thought you’d love. As I’m sure you know, the northeastern US has had some record low temperatures as of late. What better way to cheer up everyone than with a little Disney magic?!? The pixie dust came out in a big way recently as some surprised Long Island mall shoppers found themselves being shadowed by some famous Disney characters for a hidden camera stunt to promote the companies “Disney Side” campaign. Continue after the page break for more…

As you’ll see in a moment, the Disney characters were behind some opaque windows of a faux store called the “Umbra Penumbra Magic Shop”. The name of the shop refers to two parts of a shadow. The store also claims it was established in 1955, not coincidentally the year Disneyland first opened.

Have a look at the clip below… WARNING…some pretty slick dance moves from a certain mouse ahead:

 
 
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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.
 
 


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A Walk in the Park: WDW Edition – An Evening at the Magic Kingdom

By Krista Joy

The wonderful thing about Disney is that there is always more magic to discover or rediscover! Just when I think I have seen it all – there is another incredible experience just around the corner.  Travel with me today – as I share the latest edition of A Walk in the Park with Disney Avenue! You may just see some things you have never seen before as well…

Recently I had the amazing privilege of enjoying dinner at Be Our Guest with some of my closest friends.

This was wonderful in itself, but we had the added bonus of finishing up dinner quite a while after the Magic Kingdom had closed. The result … these amazing photos of the Magic Kingdom all to yourself – and after dark!

If you ever find yourself in the park after closing – get your photo taken in this spot! It will be a very special memory that you can have with you always!

This is how you close a Park!

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Krista Joy is a former Disney cast member, current head author at Disneyways.com and a co-host for the Disney Parks Podcast. She was born, raised, and has never lived any where else but in the heart of Orlando Florida. Not knowing what it’s like to be away from Walt Disney World for very long – the magic has truly become a part of who she is. Krista’s Disney dream is to bring magic and fun to the every day lives of her fellow Disney fans – while sharing some laughs along the way. She is very grateful to Keith and the team at DisneyAvenue.com for helping her to make this dream a reality! You can read more about Krista at http://disneyways.com/connect/
 
 
 



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Disney Avenue Podcast – Show #11 – Dave Smith Interview

The Disney Avenue Podcast is back with this month’s show featuring another fantastic interview with Disney Legend, Walt Disney Archives founder and former chief archivist David Smith! Dusty Sage, of MiceChat.com, teams up with host Keith Michael Mahne for another amazing show. It was a wonderful conversation and a whole lot of fun. Continue after the page break and have a listen to the show…

Walt Disney Archives founder and former chief archivist David Smith officially joined The Walt Disney Company on June 22, 1970, but his Disney roots are even deeper.

A fan of Disney films throughout his youth, Dave explained in our interview, “I grew up in Southern California, and so my appreciation of Disneyland began as a child.” In 1967, he had become interested in compiling an extensive bibliography on Walt Disney. With approval from the Disney organization, he spent more than a year researching all Disney publications and productions.

When the Disney family and Studio management decided to attempt to preserve Walt Disney’s papers, awards, and memorabilia, it was natural for them to contact Dave to do a study, and make a recommendation which established the guidelines and objectives of the Archives. Dave was selected as archivist, and in the years since the Archives was established it has come to be recognized as a model among corporate archives in the country. Dave is regarded as the final authority on matters of Disney history.

The Disney Avenue Podcast is pleased to present our interview with the legend himself, Dave Smith…Enjoy!

 
 
 

The Disney Avenue Podcast would like to thank Geren Piltz for his contributions to this show!

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Art Babbitt and Walt Disney

By Bram Bruers

Editor’s Note: Members of the Disney Avenue family, please help me welcome another talented contributing writer to our amazing team. Bram Bruers truly is a one of a kind Disney fan who comes to us from the Netherlands. He also enjoys collecting animation art and even has a few from the private collection of Walt Disney himself! Bram has been fortunate enough to develop some wonderful relationships with many Disney legends including members of the Disney family. In fact, Roy E. Disney once said he thought of Bram as the biggest fan of his uncle Walt. Bram is looking forward to sharing some wonderful Disney history and objects from his collection with the Disney Avenue readers!

– Keith Mahne

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Many Disney fans have heard of the Nine Old Man. They were Walt Disney’s favorite group of Animators. But some times people forget that in the 1930’s the nine old men where nine YOUNG men. And the best animators in the 1930’s at the Disney studio were the people the nine old men looked up to and learned their talents from. One of these special animators was Art Babbitt. Join us today as we take a closer look at the man who had gained a reputation as “The Greatest Animator Ever” and his relationship with Walt Disney…

One of my all time favorite animators of the 1930’s at the Disney studio was Art Babbitt. Babbitt was a one of a kind artist. He was the first artist that really took film footage of people and watched it slowed down. By doing so, he would study how people and animals move. Art was the first animator who did this. In the 1930’s Walt Disney wanted his cartoons to be just as life like as action films. So that study of how people and animals moved was very important for the studio. To make cartoons not just a simple piece of drawings but drawings that touch people and most important that people forget that there watching cartoon characters.

Babbitt was so interested in animation that in the early 1930’s he asked art teacher Don Grim to come over to his house and give him and some of his Disney friends art lessons. They were all young boys in those days and enjoyed drawing the realty of naked women. Upon hearing of these lessons, Walt Disney asked Babbitt to come to his office. He said to Babbitt, “Well look Art, I don’t think that it would be nice if the press found out about your drawing classes at your home. I don’t think it would be a nice story in the news papers that a group of Disney artists are drawing naked women at one of the artist home’s.” Babbitt explained that the real reason for the classes was to hone in on drawing characters more realistically as Walt had wanted in his films. Walt Disney understood that something like this would be very important for his films and he asked Don Grim to use the sound stage at the Disney studio to give his artists lessons in making the animations more life like. And of course, at the studio they learned to draw Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck very well and, in this case, by not utilizing naked woman.

After the premiere of Snow White on December 21, 1937, Walt Disney and his staff celebrated the success of the film later that night. It was the Snow White wrap party. Babbitt actually filmed Walt Disney and his group who are seen having a wonderful time at the party. Art decided to play a joke on Walt that evening as well. He told a policeman to go tell Walt that he was making too much noise and that he needed to quiet down. Walt, realizing that this was a joke, cracked a smile and told the officer, “I’ll have your badge!” I actually have this rare footage to share with you in a moment.

Walt Disney and Art Babbitt where not the best friends however. Babbitt was the strike figurehead in 1941 and shortly after the strike, he was fired from the studio. But Art spoke years later with great respect for Walt Disney. He gave him credit of being an artistic leader of hundreds of people who were all very different but were able to come together and make a one of a kind movie like Snow White and Pinocchio. I would like to take a moment and give Art credit that he never made up evil rumors or ever told negative stories about Walt Disney. Many people who where extremely important to the strike of 1941, began calling Walt Disney an anti-feminist and anti-Semitic, which are where these awful rumors originated and simply are NOT true. Babbitt never reiterated these evil stories. That is also the reason that I love him, not just as an artist, but also as a human being.

Here now is rare footage from the Snow White wrap party. In this video, Art Babbitt talks about Walt and the events of that night. Have a look:

 
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Bram Bruers is a one of a kind Disney fan who comes to us from the Netherlands. Ever since he could remember, he always enjoyed the films of Walt Disney. It all started at the age of twelve when he saw two documentaries on the making of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. From that day forward he wanted to know everything he could about Walt Disney, his family and also about the people that worked directly with Walt. Bram has a huge collection of films and documentaries of Walt Disney. He also has several autographs from all sorts of very important people in Disney history. He also enjoys collecting animation art and even has a few from the private collection of Walt Disney himself! Bram has been fortunate enough to develop some wonderful relationships with many Disney legends including members of the Disney family. In fact, Roy E. Disney once said he thought of Bram as the biggest fan of his uncle Walt. Bram is looking forward to sharing some wonderful Disney history and objects from his collection with the Disney Avenue readers!
 
 



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