Disneyland in the 60’s

By Keith Mahne

Much like retro Disney World videos, I’m a sucker for vintage Disneyland ones as well. I take joy in watching visitors dressed in their Sunday best and love noticing how different things have changed over the years. There is nothing quite like basking in the magic of vintage Disneyland. Seeing the park during a time when attractions like the Skyway, PeopleMover, and Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland continuing to mystify guests and realizing that everything present was touched by Walt is what I enjoy the most. Today, let’s travel back to Disneyland of the 1960’s and revel in the magic together…

******
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 every day.

(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’);

A Dream Called Walt Disney World

By Keith Mahne

I am absolutely obsessed with retro Walt Disney World! I love collecting old souvenirs, looking at vintage photos, listening to original soundtracks, and especially, watching old travelogues of the vacation kingdom of the world. My endorphins go crazy as those cozy, nostalgic memories come flooding in. Watching the older videos reminds me of why I fell in love with WDW in the first place. A retro Disney World video that I particularly enjoy, as do my endorphins, is called A Dream Called Walt Disney World, which was released in 1980. It’s jam packed with that vintage, classic Disney we all adore. Get ready to be transported to a time when the Magic Kingdom was the only park on property and you could still jump on a slide at River Country for a fun filled day in the cool waters of Bay Lake…

(Please pause the Disney Avenue Music Player in the top left-hand corner prior to playing the video below if you are on a desktop computer.)

*****
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 every day.

(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’);

Disney-MGM Studios Catwalk Bar

By Keith Mahne

Before Playhouse Disney and Disney Junior – Live on Stage! took over, Disney-MGM Studios had a neat restaurant inside the studio gate called the Soundstage Restaurant. More importantly, inside that restaurant and up in the rafters was a seldom heard of and seen area called the Catwalk Bar. Today, we take a rare peak at a lost gem where one could slip away for a nice cocktail and take in the scenery down below. Join me as we take a look inside the legendary Catwalk Bar…

Picture of the main area below the Catwalk Bar

Those of you who visited the Disney-MGM Studios in the early years may remember a restaurant in what is now the Animation Academy area. That restaurant was called the Soundstage Restaurant and the inside was designed from the actual movie sets of the Plaza Hotel that had been used in the movie “Big Business” starring Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin from 1988. The Soundstage Restaurant was located in Soundstage 5, which is where Playhouse Disney is located and was a full-service restaurant that was designed to give the effect of a “live set”.

A 1993 Disney-MGM Studios park map featuring the Soundstage Restaurant and Catwalk Bar circled in red.

It was a buffet that featured characters from Disney animated classics and served breakfast and lunch. The “live set” theme featured set pieces and props from other productions strategically lying about. There were sandbags on ropes and lighting control boards and that sort of thing hanging around. The Cast Members that worked at the restaurant wore catering costumes to tie-into the whole theme of the restaurant being a “wrap party”.

The Catwalk Bar can be seen above

Rare picture of the actual Catwalk Bar level

The real gem of the restaurant was the fantastic Catwalk Bar. The bar was a cocktail bar located on the catwalks above the seating and service areas for the Soundstage Restaurant. The bar served appetizers, light snacks and even featured sporting events on a large television. The photos above are the only few I have ever seen and are pretty rare as not that many people took photographs of the location. (If you have one that you may have snapped back then please let me know.) It’s hard to tell from the picture above but the Catwalk Bar was, in fact, pretty dark in reality and it was up high looking down into the main dining area. To get to the Catwalk Bar, you’d have to use a stairway or elevator between the Soundstage Restaurant and the Brown Derby that you can see below.

Areal shot of the park with the entrance location circled in red
Elevator and stairway entrance near Brown Derby bathrooms

On November 14, 1998, the Soundstage Restaurant closed for good to make room for a new show called Bear and the Big Blue House. After Bear in the Big Blue House took the location of the Soundstage Restaurant, the Catwalk Bar remained open, although it would be forced to close during showings. Due to this inconvenience, the Catwalk Bar eventually closed for good. Both the Soundstage Restaurant and the Catwalk Bar have since been removed while Disney Junior – Live on Stage! currently takes its place, but it will always remain an early piece of Disney-MGM history.

******

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 every day.

(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’);

Walt Disney’s Cryogenically Frozen Urban Legend Explained

By Keith Mahne

In the decades since Walt Disney’s death, the claim that he arranged for his body to be frozen has become as well known as the man himself. Nearly everyone familiar with the name ‘Walt Disney’ has heard the story that Disney’s corpse is stored in a deep-freeze chamber somewhere (directly under Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean attraction is the most frequently mentioned location) awaiting the day when science can repair the damage to his body and bring ‘Uncle Walt’ back to life. But where did this urban legend originate? Why has it become so ingrained in the history of the man who created magical kingdoms for the world to enjoy? Let’s find out the answers to these questions in today’s featured article…

A few years ago, I set out to find everything I could on one of the most popular urban legend’s of all, that Walt Disney had been cryogenically frozen shortly after his passing. “Could this be true,” I briefly pondered out of pure wishful thinking. “Of course not, but where did this rumor start,” I immediately thought. I wanted to know the answers and find out where this myth was born. After doing a bit of research, I eventually came across an article on snopes.com that I believe puts it all into perspective and then some. You’ll find that article below in its entirety with a few Walt pictures added for some visual content including his death certificate. I think you’ll come away enlightened. Have a look…

Walt Disney’s health had been deteriorating for many months before he finally agreed to enter St. Joseph hospital in California on November 2, 1966, for tests concerning the pain in his leg and neck. Doctors discovered a walnut-sized spot on the x-ray of his left lung and advised immediate surgery.
Disney left the hospital to attend to studio business for a few days, then re-entered St. Joseph on Sunday, November 6, for surgery the next day. During Monday morning’s operation, doctors found his left lung to be cancerous and removed it. His over-sized lymph nodes were an indication that Disney hadn’t much longer to live.

After two weeks of post-operative care, Disney was released from the hospital. He crossed the street to his studios and spent another ten days tending to studio business and visiting relatives before he grew too weak and had to return to St. Joseph on November 30. His health started to fail even more rapidly than expected, and drugs and cobalt treatments sapped what little strength he had left. Walt Disney died two weeks later when his circulatory system collapsed on the morning of December 15, 1966.

Was Walt Disney aware of the possibilities of life extension through cryogenics? He certainly could have been aware of the progress being made in cryogenics research. Numerous articles and books on hypothermia and the preservation of animal tissue through freezing appeared in both the scientific/medical and general press in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Anyone with an interest in the subject could easily have located this reading material, and even someone without a particular interest in the subject may have run across one or more articles on the topic in the general press.

The subject of cryonics was further brought to the public’s attention with the publication in 1964 of Robert C.W. Ettinger’s book, The Prospect of Immortality. Ettinger’s book, drawing on much of the available literature about cryonics, covered the practical, legal, ethical, and moral impact of freezing and reviving human beings. Ettinger, while admitting that science had as yet no way of reviving frozen human beings, was unflaggingly optimistic that a viable means of reanimation would eventually be found, telling his readers:

“The fact: At very low temperatures it is possible, right now, to preserve dead people with essentially no deterioration, indefinitely.
The assumption: If civilization endures, medical science should eventually be able to repair almost any damage to the human body, including freezing damage and senile debility or other cause of death.
Hence we need only arrange to have our bodies, after we die, stored in suitable freezers against the time when science may be able to help us. No matter what kills us, whether old age or disease, and even if freezing techniques are still crude when we die, sooner or later our friends of the future should be equal to the task of reviving and curing us.”

Given the prevalence of articles published about cryonics in the mid 1960’s, and the relative popularity of Ettinger’s book among science buffs (even if few of them had actually read it), it is certainly possible that Walt Disney was aware of the potentiality of cryonic storage of humans.

Whatever the possibilities, however, there is no documentary evidence to suggest that Walt Disney was interested in, or had even heard of, cryonics. Documentation of Disney’s alleged fascination with preserving or extending his life through cryonics did not appear until decades after his death, and what little information is available has predominantly been provided by some extremely questionable sources.
 
Claims about Disney’s interest come primarily from two of the more recent Disney biographies: Robert Mosley’s 1986 effort,Disney’s World, and Marc Eliot’s 1993 entry, Walt Disney — Hollywood’s Dark Prince. Both books have been largely discredited for containing numerous factual errors and undocumented assertions, rendering them rather untrustworthy as sources of reliable background material.

Eliot’s biography, which dwells unrelentingly on every salacious incident and rumor connected with Walt Disney’s name, is fairly easy to dismiss. Charitably described as “speculative,” it contains a single passage concerning Walt Disney’s alleged interest in cryonics:

“Disney’s growing preoccupation with his own mortality also led him to explore the science of cryogenics, the freezing of an aging or ill person until such time as the human body can be revived and restored to health. Disney often mused to Roy about the notion of perhaps having himself frozen, an idea which received . . . indulgent nods from his brother . . . “

Not surprisingly, the source behind this piece of information is nowhere to be found in Eliot’s notes. And as there is no record of Roy ever having spoken of his brother’s alleged interest in cryonics, Eliot’s “source” was likely nothing more than repetition of rumor.
 
Mosley’s Disney’s World is also rather long on rumor and short on facts. The book has been described as “poorly researched and filled with inaccuracies”, a biography that seemed “to promote certain preset points of view, regardless of evidence”. The same critique goes on to say, “One of its central themes, for example, is Disney’s fascination with cryogenics and the strong suggestion that his body was frozen following his death.” It makes for titillating reading; however, few facts support Mosley’s claims.

Disney’s World paints a picture of an anxious Walt Disney desperately searching for a way to spring back to life in order to prevent or correct the horrible mistakes his followers were bound to make in turning his EPCOT dream into reality:


“[T]he chief problem that troubled Walt was the length of time it might take the doctors to perfect the process. How long would it be before the surgical experts could bring a treated cadaver back to working life? To be brutally practical, could it be guaranteed, in fact, that he could be brought back in time to rectify the mistakes his successors would almost certainly start making at EPCOT the moment he was dead?”

Mosley’s book is filled with repetitions of the claim that Walt Disney grew increasingly interested in cryonics as his health waned in late 1966, such as this paragraph:
“It was about this time that Walt Disney became acquainted with the experiments into the process known as cryogenics, or what one newspaper termed “the freeze-drying of the human cadaver after death, for eventual resuscitation.” 

Mosley’s statements regarding Disney’s belief in the feasibility of cryonics are somewhat difficult to take seriously, given that his book includes such ludicrously erroneous (or fabricated) statements as:

“The surgeons had taken away his diseased lung to examine it, and then were going to preserve it. Walt was pleased when he heard that. He knew enough about cryogenesis by now to be aware that it was important to hold onto all the organs — just in case the surgeons needed to treat them before putting them back where they belonged.”

Mosley provides no source for his statements, other than to assert that Disney’s “closest colleagues and advisers” were “confident” that Walt Disney “eventually became convinced of cryogenesis as a viable medical process and was persuaded that, even in 1966, it was possible for a human being to have himself brought back to life after death”. In fact, these “close colleagues” of Disney’s turned out to be a few employees on the periphery of the Disney organization who had never spoken to Walt about cryonics, and were merely repeating the same decades-old rumor for Mosley’s benefit. On the other hand, someone much closer to Walt Disney, his daughter, Diane wrote in 1972:

“There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that my father, Walt Disney, wished to be frozen. I doubt that my father had ever heard of cryonics.”

Despite the persistent rumors, available documentation indicates that Walt Disney was in fact cremated. Although Disney’s preferences regarding the disposal of his body are not public record (instructions or provisions for his funeral and burial were not included in his will), other publicly-available material is entirely consistent with the claim that he was cremated:

  • Walt Disney publicly stated — ten years before his death — that he wished not to have a funeral.
  • Disney family members have confirmed that cremation was Walt’s wish.
  • Disney’s death certificate shows that he was cremated two days after his death. (The name, license number, and signature of the embalmer appearing on the death certificate are those of a real embalmer who was employed at the Forest Lawn mortuary at the time.)
  • A marked burial plot, for Walt Disney (and his son-in-law) can be found at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale (the logical resting grounds for someone whose cremation was handled by Forest Lawn’s mortuary), and court papers indicate that the Disney estate paid $40,000 to Forest Lawn for interment property.



Walt’s Death Certificate

Since Disney’s demise, several unremarkable events and circumstances surrounding his life and death have been combined to try to establish a pattern of mystery and secrecy concerning the disposal of his body. All of these events, however, have straightforward, non-mysterious explanations:

  • “Disney had a long preoccupation with death”
  • “Disney had a neurotic fear of death”

Statements concerning Disney’s alleged preoccupation with death are generally attempts to sensationalize the topic by distorting the facts. Although he did worry about dying prematurely, Disney was not “obsessed with death”. Having been told by a fortune-teller that he would die when he was thirty-five, Disney did brood about his inevitable demise during occasional bouts of depression, even after he had long passed the allegedly fatal age. Contemplating one’s mortality is not an unusual behavior, and there is no evidence that Walt Disney did so to an excessive degree.

William Poundstone quotes some ridiculous passages from Anthony Haden-Guest’s The Paradise Program to try to establish Disney’s preoccupation with death, detailing a “gruesome seven-minute Mickey Mouse cartoon” made in 1933 in which “a mad scientist tries to cut off Pluto’s head and put in on a chicken. The cartoon in question is The Mad Doctor, which was nothing more than humorous spoof of 1930’s horror films. Even in the cartoon itself the “horrific” events are not portrayed as real: the whole episode turns out to be nothing more than a nightmare of Mickey’s. Although Poundstone wrote that the film was pulled from the Rank film library in 1970, it has been readily available in the Mickey Mouse: The Black and White Years laserdisc set since 1994.

  • “The news of Disney’s death was deliberately delayed.”

This claim that the announcement of Walt Disney’s death was deliberately withheld from the press for several hours has been made most persistently, presumably because Disney’s aides would have needed time to furtively whisk his body away from the hospital to the secret cryogenic chamber before the presence of reporters made the task impossible to accomplish in privacy. Leonard Mosley’s description of the event features some of more absurd stretches of truth made in this regard:

“And this is where the mystery begins. It was Walt himself who had asked Roy Disney to keep his illness secret, but the manner in which the world was apprised of his death remains surprising.

In fact, it was not until hours after he was declared dead that an announcement was made. First came radio announcements, then a curt official notice informed the press and public that Walt Disney was no more. It added that there would be no funeral. He had already been cremated, the announcement said, and his ashes interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. Only immediate family members had been present.”



It is true that Disney’s death was not officially announced to the press until several hours after it occurred at 9:30 AM on Thursday, December 15, 1966, but the reasons behind the delay were perfectly ordinary ones. First of all, Disney’s death would not have been announced immediately under any circumstances. Several family members had to be notified before a public announcement could be made, and Disney studio executives had to be located and informed that the head of their organization had passed away before the information would be released to the press. Additionally, the gravity of Disney’s illness had largely been kept a secret from the press, so there were no hordes of reporters crowding the hallways of St. Joseph Hospital, waiting for the inevitable announcement of his death. The reason for Disney’s original hospitalization had been announced to the press as “treatment of an old neck injury received while playing polo,” and when Disney re-entered the hospital for the final time two weeks before his death, the statement made to the press was that Disney was undergoing “a routine post-operative” checkup. Although it was certainly no secret that Disney was quite ill, the seriousness of his condition was not generally known. The extent to which the details of Walt Disney’s illness were kept from the press are evidenced by the newspapers reports of his death, which stated that his left lung had been removed during an operation on November 21 (an error which Poundstone repeats in Big Secrets). That operation had actually taken place two weeks earlier; November 21 was the date of his original post-surgery release from the hospital.
 
 
So, given that relatives and studio heads had to be notified before any statements about Disney’s death were made to the press; that the media were not on a “Disney death watch,” busily preparing obituaries and tributes; and that communications in 1966 were certainly slower than they are today, it is not at all surprising that official news of Disney’s death did not reach the public until a few hours later.

Mosley’s other statements, about Disney’s funeral and cremation, are just further examples of sloppy research on his part. Disney was not cremated until two days after his death; no press announcement made “hours after he was declared dead” claimed that he had already been cremated.

  • “The cause of Disney’s demise was never formally announced.”
  • This statement is both inaccurate and irrelevant. The cause of Disney’s death was initially announced as being “acute circulatory collapse,” which meant simply that his heart had stopped beating. As facile as the official announcement may seem to those who know he “really” died of lung cancer, it does reflect the proximate cause of his death. This notion is borne out by the official death certificate, which lists “cardiac arrest” as the primary cause of death. The fact that cancer was what caused Disney’s heart to give out was, medically, of secondary importance.
     
     

  • Official statements released to the press after Disney’s surgery (and before his death) had already revealed that a tumor had been found, necessitating the removal of a lung. Whether stated “officially” or not, it was quite clear to the public that Disney had died of lung cancer. In any case, what possible difference could it have made what Walt Disney died of? How could dissembling about the “real” cause of his death possibly have facilitated the goal of secretly storing his body in a cryonic chamber?
  •  
     

  • “Disney’s funeral services were held in secret.”
  • Disney’s funeral was in fact conducted quickly and quietly — at the Little Church of the Flowers in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Glendale — at 5:00 PM on Friday, December 16 (the day after his death). No announcement of the funeral was made until after it had taken place, no associates or executives from Disney Studios were invited, and only immediate family members were in attendance. Forest Lawn officials refused to disclose any details of the funeral or disposition of the body, stating only that “Mr. Disney’s wishes were very specific and had been spelled out in great detail.”
     
    None of this secrecy surrounding Disney’s funeral should be the least bit surprising to anyone, however. In the biography The Story of Walt Disney, written a decade before Disney’s death, his daughter Diane had noted:

    “He never goes to a funeral if he can help it. If he had to go to one it plunges him into a reverie which lasts for hours after he’s home. At such times he says, ‘When I’m dead I don’t want a funeral. I want people to remember me alive.'”

    Is it so remarkable that a man who had an aversion to funerals — and who had stated a ten years earlier that he didn’t want a public funeral — was sent off with a very quick and very private ceremony? If the clandestineness of the funeral had been intended to cover up the fact that Disney’s body had already been deposited in liquid nitrogen at a secret facility, there were certainly better, less obvious ways of accomplishing the deception: Disney could have been given a simple closed-casket ceremony, with nobody the wiser.
     

  • “Disney specified the public was never to be told the location of his grave.”
  • Again, this claim is not the least bit extraordinary. It is true that officials at Forest Lawn Memorial Park will not divulge the location of the Disney family plot. Many celebrities do request that the locations of their burial plots not be given out to visitors as a simple matter of privacy. The burial sites are not intended to be “secret,” however; if they were, they wouldn’t be marked and located on publicly-accessible grounds. Disney’s plot was not, as Mosley claimed, “already filled with family ashes from which the public would always be barred.” Disney’s plot is far from obtrusive, but it is located in an unrestricted part of the park and marked with a plaque identifying its occupants; anyone who so desires is perfectly free to visit, leave flowers, take photographs, etc. The plot was certainly not “already filled with family ashes” at the time of Disney’s interment; even today it holds the remains of only one other person: Ron Brown, a son-in-law who died the year after Disney. In fact, according to the book Wills of the Rich and Famous, the interment property was not even chosen until September 19, 1967, making it rather difficult to believe that it could have been “already filled with family ashes.”

    If Disney was not really frozen, then how and when did this rumor originate? The exact origins of the rumor are unknown, but at least one Disney publicist has suggested that the story was started by a group of Disney Studio animators who “had a bizarre sense of humor.” The earliest known printed version of the rumor appeared in the magazine Ici Paris in 1969.
     
    Even if the origins of the story are unknown, it is certainly easy to see why the rumor is so believable. In the years immediately preceding his death, Disney was involved in a number of projects which cemented his image as a technical innovator in the public’s mind. Disneyland attractions such as the monorail, the House of the Future, the Voyage to the Moon; the introduction of audio-animatronic figures at the 1964 World’s Fair, and Disney’s plans for his “community of tomorrow” (EPCOT) in Florida made it easy to believe Walt Disney was ahead of everyone else in his planning, even when it came to his death. When you consider that the first cryonic suspension took place just a month after Disney’s death (Dr. James Bedford, a 73-year-old psychologist from Glendale, was suspended on January 12, 1967), it’s not so far-fetched to imagine that Disney could have made similar arrangements. (END)

    

    So there we have it. This highly informative article explains, in great detail, the events following Walt’s passing and where the urban legend originated. Walt was a wonderful man, a real American success story. Although we know Walt Disney was never cryogenically preserved, his spirit certainly does continue to live on in his Parks, and for that we can be thankful.

    ******
    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 every day.

    (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’);

    9 EPCOT Attractions We Miss The Most

    By Keith Mahne

    As we all know, Epcot was created from one man’s dream. A dream of building a utopian town called the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. Sadly, Walt died without his dream realized, and his successors decided to instead build a theme park that focused on Disney’s ideas of celebrating human innovation and promoting a promising vision of the future. Of course, our ideas of what the future will look like have changed since 1982. The future we’re living in now doesn’t necessarily match what forward-thinking optimists envisioned back during the construction of EPCOT Center. As the decades passed by, some of Epcot’s most beloved attractions were removed as they became obsolete or lost their corporate sponsors. Many of the rides we fondly remember from our childhood vacations to Epcot are now nothing more than fond, distance memories. Although it can be a little depressing looking back on these things, it’s extremely important to remember where Epcot came from and what we hope it will one day be again. This is our list of the 9 Epcot attractions we miss the most…

    9) Millennium Village

    The Millennium Village was located in Epcot and was the centerpiece of Disney’s Millennium Celebration. The 60,000-square-foot pavilion opened up its doors to the public on October 1, 1999 and was closed down on January 1, 2001. It is, however, used on occasion. Along with the Odyssey Restaurant, the Millennium Village (now named “World Showplace”) is utilized during the Epcot Food and Wine Festival.

    8) The Living Seas

    Inside the Living Seas pavilion, guests once saw a movie, took a Hydrolator ride down to Seabase Alpha, and rode Seacabs through the coral reef. Diver, fish, manatee, submarine and dolphin exhibits were at Seabase Alpha. The movie, entitled The Seas, showed how the Earth went from volcanic planet to a world of oceans. The movie will forever be remembered with the narrator’s famous line, “And they rained… and rained… and rained…” The Hydrolators supposedly dove down beneath the surface to Seabase Alpha. However, the Hydrolators didn’t actually go anywhere. The rock walls seen outside the windows of each Hydrolator are propelled upward to create the illusion that your Hydrolator is indeed traveling downward. The floor also shook to add to the illusion. The Seacabs would transport guests from their exited Hydrolators to Seabase Alpha. Along the way, the Omnimover ride would see views of the coral reef.

    In 1998, United Technologies pulled out of sponsorship leaving The Living Seas an orphan. The Seacabs were taken away around the year 2001. Around that same time, guests were also given a new option: to view the movie then go into the Hydrolators, or just go into the Hydrolators. After the sponsorship pullout, attendance began dropping at The Living Seas. Nothing new would be added until 2004 with the Nemo attractions, as diver and submarine exhibits were lessened. This declining period earned The Living Seas the nickname “The Dead Seas.”

    Soon after the film “Finding Nemo” came out, The Living Seas got invaded by the little fish and his friends. Exhibits got a new paint job featuring Nemo characters. A Nemo and friends sculpture was added just outside the entrance. Most of the old Living Seas and Seabase Alpha merchandise got replaced by Nemo items. As Nemo’s popularity grew, two more special exhibits were added: Bruce the shark’s playground and Turtle Talk with Crush. The Hydrolators were shut down for the year 2006 making way for the new “Finding Nemo” ride. The movie (a.k.a. the briefing room) was also shut down. In late 2006, the pavilion was rechristened The Seas with Nemo and Friends. The Living Seas was no more.

    7) CommuniCore

    CommuniCore was a pavilion dedicated to technological advance that occupied two semi-circular buildings behind Spaceship Earth at the center of Future World. The two buildings were known as CommuniCore East and West and housed rotating exhibits. Closed and redesigned in 1994, the former CommuniCore buildings are now the home of Innoventions. CommuniCore was the hub of EPCOT Center, both geographically and conceptually, as it brought together nearly all of the ideas and concepts explored in Future World and complemented the experiences offered by other pavilions.

    Having debuted at the dawn of the modern computer era, the emphasis throughout CommuniCore was primarily on educating the public about computers. The feature exhibit was a tour through EPCOT Computer Central, the computer hub of EPCOT Center that ran nearly everything throughout the park. In the southern quadrant of CommuniCore East one could shop at the Centorium, the largest merchandise location in EPCOT Center. The Stargate Restaurant in the northern quadrant of CommuniCore East and the Sunrise Terrace in the southern quadrant of CommuniCore West were open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    Other exhibits inside CommuniCore East included Compute-A-Coaster, the Great American Census Quiz, Get Set Jet and the Flag Games, all featuring brand new touch-screen technology. Also featured were the TravelPort, and the Electronic Forum, where one could take the EPCOT Poll, an interactive census on popular issues. One could also take a look at the Population Clock, a device that displayed the rough population of the United States and changed accordingly with every passing second. CommuniCore East was also the residence of SMRT-1, a friendly robot who used the latest in voice recognition technology to interact with Guests. At CommuniCore West was FutureCom, an exhibit sponsored by AT&T that forecast the advent of things like electronic commerce, Expo Robotics, and an educational resource center called, at various times, EPCOT Outreach, Ask Epcot, and the Epcot Discovery Center.

    Planned exhibits incorporated into the design of the buildings included a second floor, intended to house a PeopleMover system which would allow riders to preview the features and attractions within CommuniCore. The buildings were also designed so that they could easily be expanded outwards, facilitating easy additions to expand the exhibit capacity of the attraction as a whole. In an effort to keep EPCOT updated and vital, CommuniCore was closed in January 1994 to be redesigned into Innoventions, a more eclectic, wild, and corporate-driven take on a Science and Technology pavilion.

    6) Wonders of Life

    Wonders of Life was perhaps the most interactive of EPCOT attractions, offering several stations like bicycle simulators, a personal health quiz and a sensory-bending crooked room that taught you more about how your body and mind work. Sadly, at first no corporate sponsor could be found to cover the costs of the pavilion. It was not until MetLife signed on that the pavilion was finally constructed, and it featured two main attractions: Cranium Command and Body Wars, the first thrill ride located in EPCOT. Also featured was a theater (home to The Making of Me), restaurant and interactive attractions that evolved around the idea of health and wellness. MetLife ended its sponsorship of Wonders of Life in 2001, which led to the slow decline of the pavilion.

    On January 4, 2004, Disney made the decision to make the pavilion seasonal operation only. It reopened when the park was projected to hit near capacity during the high spring months and Christmas season. The pavilion’s most recent operational phase was November 26, 2006, through January 1, 2007. In 2007, the pavilion closed permanently, with no official reason given for the closure. While the pavilion is not operational to the public, it is still commonly used for private and corporate events.

    5) Universe of Energy

    The original Universe of Energy pavilion itself was an innovation in energy technology, as the entire roof was covered in 80,000 photovoltaic solar cells that partially powered the ride vehicles. Visitors were transported through the pavilion in large battery-powered “traveling theatre cars” that followed guide-wires embedded in the floor as opposed to riding along conventional ride tracks. The original attraction featured numerous films that presented information on the subject of energy in a serious fashion as well as a ride through a primeval diorama complete with audio-animatronic dinosaurs.

    What has been lost in the current attraction today (Ellen’s Energy Adventure) is the original attraction’s atmosphere and mood. It used to have loud, awe-inspiring movies about energy that surrounded you on shifting, giant wraparound screens. The journey into the past to see the dinosaurs was both exciting and frightening; it really felt like you had traveled back in time. Sure, it’s probably more entertaining now to some, but the epic nature the ride once possessed is gone.

    4) The World of Motion

    World of Motion, sponsored by General Motors, was the former tenant of the Transportation pavilion at Epcot. Described as “a road trip through the evolution of transportation,” the premise of the ride was to be a humorous look into the history of transportation, from the ancient days of foot power, through time into the future.

    It was an opening day attraction at EPCOT Center in 1982 and it closed in 1996 to make way for Test Track, a new thrill ride through a GM testing facility. Visitors would board moving Omnimover vehicles, and would be taken through scenes that were populated with Audio-Animatronic figures and also projection effects. It was a whimsical look at the history and achievements in transportation, showing scenes from the invention of the wheel right up to the present day and beyond.

    3) Kitchen Kabaret

    Kitchen Kabaret was a 13-minute audio-animatronic show located in The Land pavilion. The show was another original of EPCOT Center and if you never saw Kitchen Kabaret, the first thing you have to know is that it was pretty ridiculous. For the uninitiated EPCOT Center guests who approached the show from The Land pavilion’s ground floor concourse, this expectation would sink in quickly.  Walking beneath the neon marquee, with its cutesy alliterative name,  they entered the lobby and discovered via promotional posters that the production really was about food performing onstage.

    For those who braved past the atrocious signs of cheesiness into the theater would be rewarded by an engaging experience that took absurd concepts to a glorious three-dimensional show. It was proof to the show’s designers that such a bright, cheerful and properly executed production could be pulled off from such a nonsensical situation. Only true creative geniuses could have done it, and in this case everything converged magically. The Kitchen Kabaret was a triumph of art direction, character design and songwriting that left guests singing “veggie veggie fruit fruit” in their heads as they exited an attraction that promised misery but delivered glee.  

     
     
     
     
    2) Journey Into Imagination
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Journey Into Imagination has been through three incarnations over the years, being replaced by Journey Into Your Imagination in 1999 and the current Journey Into Imagination With Figment in 2002, though the original is considered the best of them. On March 5, 1983, the original Journey Into Imagination attraction debuted in FutureWorld at Epcot, introducing guests to Dreamfinder, Figment and a lovely little song titled “One Little Spark.” The original attraction’s storyline began with Dreamfinder gathering up materials to inspire new ideas. With the help of his imagination he creates a companion named Figment, who is described as having: “Two tiny wings, eyes big and yellow. Horns of a steer – but a loveable fellow. From head to tail, he’s royal purple pigment and there, voila, you’ve got a Figment – a Figment of imagination!”
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    The attraction’s Image Works post-show offered guests a chance to experiment with creativity hands-on in different activity stations, including Magic Palette (digital drawing), Lightwriter (laser writing/drawing technology), Bubble Music (image projection combined with sound), and other interactive fun. Here is the original Journey Into Imagination attraction taken in 1995 and in 1998. You’ll also see the Rainbow Corridor…
     
     
     
     
    
    

    1) Horizons

    No countdown of Epcot attractions we miss the most would be complete without Horizons! Although it’s now a thing of the past, Horizons, the attraction that took guests on “an exciting exploration of options for living and working in the 21st century,” continues to live in the hearts of all die-hard vintage Epcot fans.

    Designed over a three-year period at Walt Disney Imagineering in California, one memorable part about Horizons was the choose-your-own ending to the journey via personal spacecraft, desert hovercraft or mini-submarine.

    The thing that’s really upsetting about Horizons’ absence in Epcot is that the attraction really wasn’t obsolete. The vision of humanity’s future it presented, complete with all the sights, sounds and smells (ahhh, just remember those orange groves), was so full of hope it was exhilarating. That’s what the original Epcot was all about. If you’ve been lucky enough to experience this attraction, odds are you came out wishing you lived in that world…I know I sure did! That’s something kids should still be able to see, especially in a time when the world around them isn’t as promising. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, say for EPCOT’s 50th anniversary in 2032, Disney could open a new version of Horizons? It’s fun to dream…

    What Epcot attraction do you miss the most? Be sure to let us know in the comments!

     
    *******
     
     
     
     
     
     
    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 every day.

     
    
    

    (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’);

    Epcot’s SMRT-1 and Computer Central Exhibit

    By Keith Mahne

    Back in the early days of EPCOT Center when CommuniCore was still a pavilion dedicated to technological advances, there was a couple of really wonderful attractions that have always mesmerized me. SMRT-1 and the Computer Central Exhibit located in the northeast quadrant of the area continue to live in old EPCOT Center admires memories. Let’s take a look back at these two CommuniCore favorites in today’s new article…

    EPCOT Computer Central, sponsored by Sperry Univac, was an attraction that could only have existed at EPCOT in its prime. It was, essentially, the computerized nerve center of the entire park. Guests could look down upon the mainframes from above, while a brief show (using the same Pepper’s Ghost effect as the Haunted Mansion’s ballroom) explained how the operation worked. “Earlie the Pearlie,” played by Broadway actor Ken Jennings, was the Cockney song-and-dance man who hosted the show and performed the Sherman Brothers’ cult classic, The Computer Song, that you can listen to below…

     
    (Please pause the Disney Avenue Music Player above prior to playing the song below if you are on a desktop computer.)
     
     
     
    
    
     

    Take a look at this wonderful illustrated pamphlet from Sperry that provides a conceptual overview of EPCOT Computer Central…

    Having debuted at the dawn of the modern computer era, the emphasis throughout CommuniCore was primarily on educating the public about computers. The feature exhibit was a tour through EPCOT Computer Central, the computer hub of EPCOT Center that ran nearly everything throughout the park.

    The original version was named the Astuter Computer Revue (featuring the song heard above by the Sherman Brothers, “The Computer Song”). Listen to this rare recording of the complete Astuter Computer Revue below…

     
    

    If guests walked away from the original show learning anything, it was that one viewing of this show was more than enough. Disney recognized that guests weren’t really connecting with the show and quickly closed it in January 1984. Only a month later it was replaced by Backstage Magic, a show that booted out the Englishman in favor of Julie, a girl-next-door-type hostess and her electronic sidekick I/O. They presented a more intelligent and less grating take on the computer story that ran for nearly ten years before closing in October 1993.

    You can see a few more important photos of the Computer Central exhibit below…

    Computer Central under construction.

    EPCOT’s sole Utilidor, under construction

    Elsewhere in Computer Central were interactive displays that were popular with guests. SMRT-1, a purple and chrome robot set on a rotating pedestal surrounded by telephones, involved a never-ending stream of guests in trivia and guessing games.  When your turn came up, SMRT-1 asked you (in its synthesized voice) to speak your answer loud and clear through the phone.  It also spent some time ad-libbing and singing between games: “If I keep this up I might graduate from Solid State.”

     
     
     
     
     
    SMRT-1 seemed to be related to other robots such as BIT from the WorldKey Information System and ORAC-1 of the Magic Kingdom’s WEDway Peoplemover, that all oozed cuteness and lovability.  Of the three, SMRT-1 was definitely the least sugary and accordingly the most enjoyable.  Sadly, SMRT-1’s shell could be seen for several years in the Contemporary Resort Hotel’s Grand Canyon Concourse as a piece of restaurant décor.
     
     
     
     
    

    Now, let’s watch the 1982 opening of the Epcot Computer Central exhibit that is pure early 80s goodness. With that comes jumpsuits, bland colors with the occasional use of sequins, and some funky dance moves. I really enjoy the flag bearers holding the Communicore logo. This is vintage 1980s Epcot at its finest…

    As E. Card Walker, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said at the opening of Epcot on October 24, 1982…

    To all who come to this Place of Joy, Hope and Friendship
    WELCOME


    Epcot is inspired by Walt Disney’s creative vision. Here, human achievements are celebrated through imagination, wonders of enterprise and concepts of a future that promises new and exciting benefits for all.

    May EPCOT Center entertain, inform and inspire and, above all, may it instill a new sense of belief and pride in man’s ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere.

    My hope is that Epcot can find it’s way once again and return to a time when it really did entertain, inform and inspire as these classic attractions once did for so many.

    ******
     
     
     
     
    

    Keith Michael Mahne is the owner and editor of Disney Avenue and the host of the Disney Avenue Podcast. 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 every day.

    (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’);

    Making of: Disneyland’s Light Magic Parade

    By Keith Mahne

    Light Magic was a parade that ran at Disneyland from May – September of 1997. Originally billed as a replacement for the distinguished and beloved Main Street Electrical Parade, Light Magic opened to poor reviews and closed only four short months later. Though Disney officially stated at the time that the show would return in the year 2000, it never again saw the “light” of day. Despite the show’s short run, infrastructure improvements made specifically for Light Magic, mainly in Fantasyland, are still used today. Let’s see how the parade was constructed and find out why it never lived up to expectations in today’s brand new Making of article…

    Light Magic was a “streetacular”, with floats moving into two performance zones, one located at the Small World Mall, the other on Main Street. Upon reaching the performance zones, the floats would stop and the pixie characters, who were the focus of the show, would awaken to perform step-dancing routines for the audience, later being joined by Disney characters and audience members.

    During the performance segment, a portion of each of the floats would open to reveal a screen upon which images were projected from equipment hidden in the surrounding buildings. As part of the grand finale, the fairies would use their ‘magic’ to throw pixie dust, confetti falls from the sky, and the buildings light up with a shower of twinkling lights provided by fiber optics embedded in the structures.

     

     

     
     
     
     
    Light Magic’s music was very Celtic-influenced, and the songs in the show included:
    • “Dream Our Dream”, the Light Magic Theme
    • “Little April Shower” from Bambi
    • “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast
    • “Topsy Turvy” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame
    • “Step in Time” from Mary Poppins
    • “When You Wish upon a Star” from Pinocchio
    • “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” from Cinderella
    • “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid
    • “Beauty and the Beast” from Beauty and the Beast
    • “Baroque Hoedown” from the Main Street Electrical Parade
    

    Light Magic had a difficult role to fill as The Main Street Electrical Parade had been a favorite at Disneyland for over 20 years. Expectations and apprehensions were both high as Light Magic made its debut at a private event for Disneyland Annual Passholders. The premiere night did not go well as technical problems came up with aligning the floats with the projectors, various cues were missed, and sound equipment failed, as well as the fiber-optic lighting not yet being functional. The initial show was prefaced by then Disneyland President Paul Pressler announcing to the passholder crowd that the show was to be a dress rehearsal and not the show in its finished form.

    Annual Passholders are known for being both the most ardent supporters of Disneyland, while at the same time being its harshest critics. The response to the poor performance of Light Magic’s debut was very negative, with long lines extending from City Hall on Main Street demanding refunds, as passholders had paid $25 each to attend the special event under the impression, based on all of the information that had been distributed, that they would be the first to see the finished product, not a test audience with which to work out the bugs. Word of mouth reports quickly spread that Light Magic was not worth seeing. Many felt that the pixies came off a bit scary with their fake noses, cheeks, and ears, and eventually earned the nickname of Light “Tragic”.

    Light Magic concept art

    Light Magic played for the remainder of the summer season in 1997 with the majority of the response from the public ranging from lackluster to complete dislike. Many fans of the Main Street Electrical Parade regarded Light Magic as an unworthy replacement. Disney announced that Light Magic would be on hiatus until the year 2000, but 2000 came and went without any indication of Light Magic returning.

    Small World area widened for Light Magic floats

    Despite the show’s disastrous reception and short-lived run, much of the infrastructure built for Light Magic, especially in the Small World Mall area, is still used for Disneyland’s parades today. These infrastructure improvements included:

     
    • Painted asphalt along the parade route was replaced with concrete to accommodate the large, heavy show platforms
    • The plaza area in front of It’s a Small World was widened and terraced to allow more guests a better view of the parade route, similar to the way some areas of New Orleans Square were terraced for Fantasmic!.
    • A walkway was added parallel to the parade route between Storybook Land Canal Boats and It’s A Small World in order to allow guests to move in and out of the It’s A Small World area during parades. This was added in response to crowded conditions for guests during the final months of the Main Street Electrical Parade’s run.
    • Lighting towers constructed for Light Magic on Small World Mall and atop the Main Street, USA buildings allowed Disneyland to run the same parade in the afternoon and in the evening, rather than running separate afternoon and evening parades as was done for several years of the Main Street Electrical Parade’s run (e.g., The Lion King Celebration).
    Three towers constructed for the Light Magic parade seen here on the Small World Mall

    Three towers constructed on the Small World Mall for sound and lighting technician used in Light Magic are still standing. Two currently serve no explicit purpose, but their exterior façades are still maintained. One has been returned to service as a projection tower for Disneyland Forever.

    Another spiritual successor to the Main Street Electrical Parade, the Paint the Night Parade, which also makes use of “Baroque Hoedown”, recently premiered at Disneyland on May 22, 2015, as part of the park’s 60th anniversary celebration.

     

    Next up, let’s hear directly from the creative team that brought the Light Magic “streetacular” to life:

    Now, why don’t we travel back to Disneyland in 1997 and see for ourselves the complete Light Magic parade:

    Light Magic facts:

    • Grand opening: May 23, 1997 (Memorial Day Weekend) Annual Passholder Premiere: May 13, 1997
    • Closing date: September 1, 1997 (Labor Day Weekend)
    • Show length: 20:00
    • Cost: Approximately $20,000,000
    • Fiber Optic Cable Length Used: 4500 Miles
    • Strobe Lights: 1520

     
    *******
     
     
     
     
     
     
    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 every day.

     
     
     
    

    (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’);

    P.L. Travers Recorded Discussing "Feed the Birds"

    By Keith Mahne

    Almost from the day the Mary Poppins character appeared on the cover of a book in 1934, she was destined to gain additional fame through some form of the entertainment medium. Walt Disney first became aware of Mary Poppins around 1949, when one of his daughters introduced him to the magical nanny. The events that followed lead to one of the most beloved Disney movies of all time. Getting to that point, however, was no easy feat for Walt and his team as the author of Mary Poppins, P.L. Travers, wasn’t as charming as the flying nanny she created. Join me today as we take a listen to a wonderful, rare recording of P.L. Travers discussing “Feed the Birds” with the Sherman brothers during the making of this classic film…

    Diane’s and Sharon’s (Walt’s daughters) enthusiasm for the Mary Poppins books prompted his reading them and he, too, saw their potential as material for a motion picture. Upon learning that the film rights were unobtainable, he temporarily abandoned the idea. When Disney tried to acquire the movie rights, he learned they were not for sale. In the meantime, other producers, in turn, considered the Poppins stories perfect material for a Broadway musical, a television special and a motion picture, but their offers too were rejected. Around 1961, the paths of Disney and Miss Travers happened to cross in London. Walt told her of his interest in Mary Poppins and inquired again about the movie rights. They discussed the possibility of his bringing Mary Poppins to the screen and Travers agreed to relinquish the film rights if his approach to the stories met with her approval.

    On Walt Disney’s return to the studio, the project was set in motion and several months later, Mrs. Travers was invited to Burbank for story conferences. Contracts were drawn and signed, and the beloved nanny and her amazing adventures were on their way to becoming immortalized on celluloid. One can understand why she thoroughly tore apart the completed works. Mary Poppins was her baby and she wasn’t going to let Hollywood destroy it. During one of the conferences, a Disney writer inquired if Mary Poppins was considered ageless. “Not at all,” Miss Travers answered. “She is precisely twenty-seven.” Coincidentally, this was precisely the age of Julie Andrews during production. By the time filming began, Walt Disney had set aside over six million dollars on the budget, with an additional one million for promotion and publicity. People would continually ask the author if the famous English nanny was modeled from a living person. “No, she wasn’t,” Miss Travers was always quick to answer. “I didn’t even think her up. She just brushed past me and said, ‘You take it down.'”

    The P.L. Travers recording below features the author discussing the Mary Poppins song “Feed the Birds” with Richard and Robert Sherman in 1961. During the discussion, Richard Sherman plays the song and Travers even sings along. Unlike the Saving Mr. Banks movie, the true story reveals that “Feed the Birds” was actually the song that won her over.

    (Please pause the Disney Avenue Music Player above prior to playing the audio below if you are on a desktop computer.)

     
     
     
    

    ********
     

     

     
     
     
    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.
     
     

    

    

    (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’);

    Florida Before Mickey: Disney’s Impact on Orlando

    By Keith Mahne

    Prior to the arrival of Mickey, Orlando and the rest of Central Florida may not have been as well-known to the rest of the country as sun-tanned Miami or sea-storied Key West. Yet here, in the middle of the peninsula, was an eden. All you had to do was find your way there. And 52 years ago, on a typical fall day in Central Florida, one very important man did. Walt Disney changed the entire history and economy of Central Florida with one, swift decision. A decision to build his latest and greatest dream with the blessing of size. But what did the local community think of this change? Let’s find out in today’s new article titled Florida Before Mickey: Disney’s Impact on Orlando

    Walt walks on WDW property

    Before Walt Disney World, south of Orlando, in Osceola County, Kissimmee had about 12,000 residents and two main economic mainstays – citrus packing and ranching. The area’s few two-lane hardtop roads and grass fields of cattle land and citrus groves were testament to the openness of the country and the scarcity of its human inhabitants.

    Like any eden, Central Florida was beautiful to the eye, even in fall and winter, and it was a sportsman’s paradise because of this. Besides the Air Force base southeast of Orlando, where civilian jets were just starting to take off and land under a civilian-military partnership, or the citrus groves and cattle land surrounding the city and all the smaller towns throughout the immediate region, there was little of what an out-of-town traveler at the time might view as a must-see attraction worth driving to.

    Roy O. Disney and Disney executives inspect WDW property

    Disney executives inspect WDW property

    Today, you can go down south of Orlando and you’ll see shopping malls, themed attractions and fast-food restaurants that cater to visitors who come here to see the sights and to experience the thrills. Time-share complexes and water parks compete for attention, as do endless retail businesses and storefront after storefront of T-shirt shops and neon-lighted souvenir stands. Arising above it all is the unceasing hum of traffic on the two main highways that crisscross the region six miles or so south of downtown Orlando. It’s the sight of progress and of a booming tourist economy. But what did the local residents of the area think of all this shortly after the Cinderella Castle spires rose out of the pines and swamps of Central Florida?

    To answer this question we need to travel back to June 18th, 1972. On this date, 60 Minutes and reporter Mike Wallace aired a segment showcasing what changes were occurring in Orange County now that Disney had moved into the neighborhood.

    At 11 minutes in length, this brief and fantastic 60 Minutes clip gives us a nice glimpse of what life was like in Orange County before the “Disney Boom.” Take a look at this great footage to really understand what was going on in the area at that time…

    (Please click here to watch video below if you are on a mobile device.)

    http://www.cbsnews.com/common/video/cbsnews_video.swf

     

    

    ******

    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 every day.
     
     

    (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’);

    Motion Monday: Golden Horseshoe Revue

    By Keith Mahne

    Welcome to another Motion Monday article here on Disney Avenue where we take a look at some special moving GIFs of Disney’s past. This time around, let’s travel to The Golden Horseshoe Saloon which opened in 1955 with several other original attractions at Disneyland. Over the years the venue has housed multiple stage shows, but none as special as the original Golden Horseshoe Revue that was the longest running show at the saloon, playing from July 17, 1955 until October 12, 1986. Today, we’ll see some scenes from the show, along with a personal introduction by Walt Disney. Continue after the page break and have a look…

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
    *****
     
     
     
     
    

    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 every day.

    (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’);