The Story of Walt Disney’s Morgue

By Keith Mahne

It’s a place on The Walt Disney Studios lot that even on the warmest of days will give you goose bumps. Beneath the Studio’s courtyards, streets, and brick-and-mortar buildings is a maze of concrete corridors originally constructed to house and maintain plumbing and electrical systems. There’s even a passageway that leads from the Animation Building to the Ink & Paint Building, which in the early days of the Studio and during inclement weather, was used to transport animation cels from one building to another. Continue after the page break for an underground look at Disney’s Morgue…

With low ceilings, pipes of every shape and size, and hidden rooms adjoining the long hallways, the morgue’s underground location is a fitting backdrop for a creepy movie.

A handwritten sign guides you through the tunnels below the Walt Disney Studios to “The Morgue,” a place that used to house the research and art from Disney films.

The Walt Disney Studios was originally built to be Walt Disney’s ultimate creative complex for animation, and some of the most iconic Disney animated films of all time have been produced there—Pinocchio, Dumbo, Bambi, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and many, many others. But when the films wrapped, all the creative inspiration, research, concept art, and animation had to be shelved somewhere to make room for the next project. A set of rooms beneath the Ink & Paint Building, which had just enough room to store everything, became that work’s final resting place.

“In our morgue, these shelves, tables, and file cabinets hold all our history as a motion picture studio,” Walt said in an episode of Disneyland.

Walt visited the morgue in the September 25, 1957 Disneyland television series episode “Adventure in Wildwood Heart.” “In our morgue, these shelves, tables, and file cabinets hold all our history as a motion picture studio,” he says in the episode, which you can see for yourself in the Walt Disney’s Legacy Collection, True-Life Adventures series, Volume 4: Nature’s Mysteries. “Here are the drawings, models, sketches, and backgrounds for every film we’ve ever made,” Walt points out in the introduction. “In these file cabinets are research materials of every kind and description. This room represents the repository, the well of our experience. And experience is the key to progress.” He then goes on to introduce A True-Life Fantasy: Perri, about the life of a squirrel in the forest and the only True-Life Fantasy ever produced.



While most morgues house dead bodies, the Walt Disney Studios morgue was home to retired research and artwork in the hope it would inspire future artists. ”They called it a morgue because that was a newspaper term for used, but still useable material such as photographs, back issues, and clippings,” says Fox Carney, manager, Research, Animation Research Library. “They probably took that from being familiar from the newspaper industry and terminology. The morgue wasn’t where things went to die. It was based upon what was used in the production for what was reusable or used for inspiration.” The Disney morgue housed ghosts of animation. Each file in the rows of shelves and cabinets had imprints of the past. And if you were to study the brush strokes and the textures of each piece of artwork long enough, the Studio felt, you could get a feel for how the original animator created the piece.

The underground walkway as it appeared in 2009

The morgue lost its name and cozy underground location in 1989, when it was moved to a larger Glendale facility, but you can still visit its original location (it’s now home to a copy center and some janitorial offices) on the Studio Lot today by walking down a long flight of stairs on the north side of the Ink & Paint Building and navigating a few corners of underground hallways. Though the maquettes, backgrounds, paintings and animation sketches are now long gone, safely stored in the state-of-the-art Disney Animation Research Library in Glendale, the spirit of the Walt Disney Studios morgue lives on today in the way Disney continues to build on the creative energy of the past. Fox sums it up nicely: “For Disney to invest the resources it takes into preserving and maintaining the art shows the commitment the Company has to its legacy.” And there is nothing scary about preserving such a rich, inspiring, and amazing 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.

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Disney Avenue Welcomes Mark Landucci

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

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

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Marty Sklar To Be Next Guest On The Disney Avenue Podcast

By Keith Mahne

It is with great joy and excitement to inform you that Marty Sklar will be our next guest on the Disney Avenue Podcast. Marty was formerly vice president of concepts and planning for the company, before being promoted to president, and then eventually taking the position of vice chairman and principal creative executive of the company before his final role. The company honored him with a window dedication ceremony on his date of retirement, July 17, 2009. Continue after the page break for more…

Born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Marty was a student at UCLA and editor of its Daily Bruin newspaper in 1955 when he was recruited to create an 1950s-themed newspaper, The Disneyland News, a month before the theme park opened. After graduating, he joined Disneyland full-time in 1956, where he held responsibility for most of the park’s publicity and marketing materials. He was also tasked with writing all material for Walt and Roy Disney.

In 1961, he moved to WED Enterprises, renamed in 1986 to Walt Disney Imagineering, where he worked on attractions for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Among the attractions he helped to design during this period were The Enchanted Tiki Room and It’s a Small World, the latter originally for the World’s Fair. For nearly 10 years, he wrote personal materials for Walt Disney for use in publications, television and special films. In 1974 he became vice president of concepts/planning, and guided the creative development of EPCOT Center (now known as Epcot) at Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort.

As vice president of creative development, executive vice president and then president of Imagineering for nine years, Sklar supervised the design and construction of Tokyo Disneyland, the Disney-MGM Studios, Disneyland Paris, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney California Adventure Park, Tokyo DisneySea, the Walt Disney Studios Park and most recently Hong Kong Disneyland. Former Disneyland International chairman Jim Cora later said of him, “He understands the Disney way because he learned it at Walt’s knee. He is the keeper of the keys, the conscience, the Jiminy Cricket for the organization.”

Sklar wrote an autobiography titled Dream It! Do It!: My Half-Century Creating Disney’s Magic Kingdoms.

On February 16, 2006, the chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, the unit of the Walt Disney Company which serves as the umbrella for Walt Disney Imagineering, Jay Rasulo, announced that Sklar would resign from his current position and take up the new position of international ambassador for Walt Disney Imagineering. The occupation entails travelling around to art and design and architecture colleges, universities and other institutions around the world, offering seminars and attracting new talent to the company, as well as being a presence at future attraction and park openings, representing the company. Sklar said in a joint statement, “I knew that as my 72nd birthday and my 50th Disney anniversary approached, I would look for new challenges, so when Jay Rasulo asked me to talk about the future, I was ‘all ears’ to a challenging proposal Jay made. It not only seems to be one of those ideas that is overdue, but it was clear to me that I am the perfect casting (perhaps the only candidate) capable of originating and organizing this assignment.”

After 53 years of service, he left The Walt Disney Company and Walt Disney Imagineering on July 17, 2009, Disneyland’s 54th Anniversary. He was honored with a window on Main St. in Disneyland on his final day.

In 2001, Sklar was recognized as a Disney Legend. Sklar serves as president of Ryman Arts, whose Ryman Program for Young Artists honors the late Herb Ryman, an artist, designer and fellow Disney Legend.

Sklar was also honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) in 1995, and has been inducted into the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Hall of Fame.

If you haven’t read Marty’s book, be sure to grab yourself a copy from the link below:

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What Could’ve Been: Sunset Boulevard

By Ryan Reed

Recently, rumors have been going around claiming massive changes to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. They’ve ranged from the removal of day one attractions to entire lands dedicated to Star Wars.  I felt it would be a fitting time to take a quick look at the very first expansion to Disney’s MGM, err, Hollywood Studios. Continue after the page break and have a look…

Disney’s MGM Studios in 1989 prior to Sunset Boulevard

When the park opened in 1989, there were only a few attractions for guests to take part in.  While most were well executed, guests were yearning for more.  This eventually led to the Sunset Boulevard expansion.  Adding major attractions the park is now known for, such as Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, made the Studios a “must do” for any Disney guest.  But what else did the Imagineers have in mind for their newest park?  Lets take a look at some early concepts that got very close to getting the green light.


One of the major ideas kicked around by Disney revolved around a movie that had been recently released: Who Framed Roger Rabbit?  Released in 1989, the movie was groundbreaking for its mix of live action and animation.  For the general population, this was the first time they’ve seen something like this.  In fact, most believe it was the first movie to don this special effect; truth is Walt Disney was a pioneer for this effect decades prior to this movie’s release.  Roger became a household name due to the great success of the film.  Wanting to take advantage of this, the Disney Execs pushed Imagineers to brainstorm ideas for the expansion in the Studios.  They came up with three different Roger Rabbit attractions within a themed land that could’ve led to a very different park than we’re used to today.  Roger Rabbit’s Hollywood Land or Maroon Studios were possible names for the new land that eventually became Sunset Boulevard.  One of the ideas took up all of Sunset Boulevard and would even have had red trolley cars to take guests up and down the streets.   The other idea would’ve been mostly Sunset Boulevard with the Roger Rabbit land beginning where Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is today.

Baby Herman’s Run Away Buggy
Baby Herman and his buggy

Baby Herman’s Runaway Baby Buggy was one of the ideas the Imagineers had come up with.  The attraction would’ve loaded guests into baby carriages and put you in a cartoon with Roger Rabbit and Baby Herman.  Loosely based off the Roger Rabbit short “Tummy Trouble”, guests were going to zoom through a hospital, crashing through walls and flying downstairs as the baby carriage had lost control.

Toontown Trolley
Concept Art for Toontown Trolley
Next in this proposed themed land was the Toontown Trolley.  This attraction would’ve been similar to Star Tours in that it would’ve been a motion simulator, but it differed greatly in one major aspect: instead one screen, there would’ve been three – one in the front and two on each side.  Their hope was to fully engulf you into the world of Toontown.
Benny the Cab Ride
Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin in Disneyland

Benny the Cab Ride was the third and final ride the Imagineers thought would fit well into the Roger Rabbit themed land.  Those of you who have visited Disneyland may have already ridden this attraction.  Although it never came to fruition in the then Disney’s MGM Studios, it made its way out to the Disneyland resort under the new title of “Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin”. 
Dick Tracy’s Crime Stoppers
Concept Art for proposed attraction
Dick Tracy’s Crime Stoppers would’ve put guests right in the world of Dick Tracy.  The surrounding area of the ride would’ve been a fully theme land to immerse guests into the film before even stepping onto the ride.  Dick Tracy would’ve recruited guests to help him fight off his enemies in a high-speed chase complete with a shootout.  The technology planned for this ride was to use the eventual ride vehicles now found in Dinosaur and in the Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland.
The Many Ideas Leading to the Tower of Terror of Today
Some Tower of Terror concept art
The Tower of Terror took quite some time, along with some trial and error, to come up with what we love today.  The original plan from Imagineers was to get Mel Brooks involved in the project.  They initially came up with a working title of “Castle of Young Frankenstein”; this was to include some intricate details, even involving a drawbridge.  This morphed into an attraction they were calling “Mel’s Hollywood Horror Hotel”.  With Mel on board, they were attempting to put his trademark humor in the ride along with a few frights.  Unfortunately, they couldn’t come up with an idea together.  With Mel moving on, Imagineers focused solely on frights, not humor.
More concept art of the attraction
This spawned an ambitious idea to have the hotel be exactly that: a hotel.  With half of the structure to be the attraction and the other being one of Disney’s fantastic resorts, the idea seemed perfect.  They wanted guests to find doors in their resort leading up to the attraction building for them to be blocked off with a sign reading “Condemned”.
Some earlier concept art
The last variation of Tower of Terror had to do with its story.  Originally it was planned to have Cast Members play a role throughout the ride and have guests try and solve a haunted mystery only to be plummeted at the end of the attraction. 
If you’re looking for more insight I would recommend The Imagineering Field Guide to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The book provides an experience: pointing out details and telling stories, backstories, and Imagineering insights never before heard, condensed into a portable, easily referenced park guide. You’ll never spend time at the Studios the same way again.

Each spread contains fascinating textual information and related images (drawings, photos, graphics) such as:

• Layouts, backgrounds, and origins of each park/land/miniland

• Concept art to compare to the finished show

• Timeline information (opening dates, previous shows in the same venue, alterations, and updates)

• Photography of the details and pictures being discussed

• Special props, design sources, artistic inspirations, nomenclature gags
Have a look in the link below:

Those of us who were lucky enough to visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios since its inception might have a vague memory to what the park was like prior to Sunset’s existence; others (like me) were much too young for any recollection.  Regardless, this expansion proved to be a great success.  It redefined an already great park and added a much-needed icon to its landscape.  Though this expansion has proven to be a fantastic addition to the park, it’s still fun to look back at what might have been.  So what do you think?  Do you feel any of these ideas would’ve been a better choice than what we have now?  Be sure to look for more What Could’ve Been articles in the future and share your comments below.

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Hear Walt Disney Record Narration of Magic Skyway (Bloopers)

By Keith Mahne

I adore listening to the audio recording process of my favorite attractions. Paul Frees’ narration for the Haunted Mansion comes to mind. But what about one where Walt Disney is the narrator like, say as he did for Ford’s 1964 World’s Fair attraction Magic Skyway. Well if you’d like to hear the actual recording process of Walt with bloopers and all, here is your chance. Continue after the page break and have a listen…

Here is Walt Disney recording the narration for the Ford Magic Skyway with Marty Sklar, who wrote the script and will be our next guest on the Disney Avenue Podcast. I think you’ll really enjoy this one:

Pretty good stuff huh? I must have listened to that a hundred times now. For more audio of Walt and music from the 1964 World’s Fair, I highly suggest you grab yourself a copy of the wonderful CD box set Walt Disney and the 1964 World’s Fair from the link below. The 5 CDs and 24-page booklet whisk you off to the worlds of wonder that Disney brought to the 1964 World’s Fair. The imagination displayed here foreshadowed what was to come to the Disney parks in the future. You’ll hear the original It’s a Small World demo where Walt himself is your guide for this “charming little boat ride”. The full, original audio of Walt for Ford’s Magic Skyway takes you from the age of dinosaurs to the ascent of man and into the future. You’ll hear the recording sessions for Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, hear the music from the Progressland exhibit including the Carousel of Progress and more! Just follow the link below:

We always enjoy hearing from you, so tell us what you think of the recording in the comments below. Oh, and make sure you head on over to iTunes and subscribe to the Disney Avenue Podcast. You wouldn’t want to miss our upcoming chat with Marty Sklar now would you?

The Amazing EPCOT Model

By Keith Mahne

Today’s article comes to us from the FANTASTIC website The Original EPCOT Project by Sebastien Barthe. Sebastian’s hard work really shines through as seen from his elaborate articles to his wonderful YouTube videos. Sebastian graciously allowed us to post some of that work for you here today. If you love what you see, and I know you will, head on over to The Original EPCOT Project and get lost in tons of material on Walt’s original EPCOT project. Now for a little taste of what I mean…

Epcot’s model was truly amazing: 115 feet wide, 60 feet deep, with 1400 individually street lights, 2500 moving vehicles representing future transportation, 20000 trees and 4500 structures / buildings. Disney Imagineer George Windrum recalled that, at Walt Disney’s insistence, the interiors of the 1/8 inch scale buildings of the original Epcot model, which were barely visible through their tiny windows, had to be finished, furnished and lit. The guests might not notice but Walt would know the details were there. Today I’d like to take you on an in depth look at the making of Walt Disney’s amazing Epcot Model. Continue after the page break and let’s get started…

Walt’s Epcot Model could have been an attraction on it’s own. Let’s start off with a look at this exclusive musical slide show filled with rarely seen photos of Walt Disney’s original Epcot model with its original 1967 narration from the Carousel of Progress. From the cosmopolitan hotel and the enclosed shopping center to the low density housing, you will also discover Epcot’s stadiums, heliports, amusement park, nuclear power plant, People Mover and Monorail stations.

In these rare video clips, you can see the model as it was working in the Carousel Of Progress and its level of detail is simply astonishing:

The most detailed aspect of Walt Disney’s Epcot project was the urban center featuring what was called the “cosmopolitan hotel” as the centerpiece. As seen in the Epcot film, an international shopping center and offices were supposed to be constructed below the “deck” of the hotel in an enclosed environment. Giant glass domes would have served as sources of light from the outside. For the 2004 documentary “Walt, the man behind the myth” from Jean-Pierre Isbouts for the Walt Disney Family Foundation, the urban center was recreated in computer generated imagery: 

Below are some photos of the Model including rarely seen construction and close-ups of the original working and animated model from Disneyland and current section from Walt Disney World.

The making of the model

Aerial view of the low-density area. You can see: the basis of the central core (hotel + covered international shopping center), a People Mover line,
a church, the main highway, a stadium as well as around 20 family houses.

A close-up of the cosmopolitan hotel area at the core of Epcot with one of the office buildings and several glass domes.
Those domes were some of the light sources of the international shopping center constructed below

Epcot’s planned church was inspired by the works of famous brazilian architect Oscar Neimeyer
as seen in this comparison between the Cathedral of Brasília and the Epcot model.

Epcot at night

Close-up of one of the PeopleMover lines and station.

Urban Center view from above highways to and from Epcot.

Urban Center from the residential areas

Urban center: view from the greenbelt and the residential areas

Urban Center with hotel, offices, recreation deck and enclosed international shopping center 

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Urban center: view from the greenbelt and the residential areas

Urban Center with hotel, offices, recreation deck and enclosed international shopping center 

Urban center: view from the greenbelt and the residential areas

The Stadium and Urban Center

The towering cosmopolitan hotel

Industrial Activities close to the highways and monorail line

Urban Center with hotel, offices, recreation deck and enclosed international shopping center.At the foreground: a stadium, a peoplemover line and station.

The recreational deck of the hotel: tennis courts and pools

The Progress City Model for Epcot at the Carousel of Progress, Disneyland

Urban Center with hotel, offices, recreation deck and enclosed international shopping center 

The Original Epcot would have included an amusement park within its city limits. Unlike the theme park of Walt Disney World (later named the Magic Kingdom),
this amusement park was an urban one featuring many classic carnival rides for Epcot’s residents. See more below.


Here is a wonderful musical slideshow featuring never before seen photos:
To end our tour I’d like to share with you some wonderful Concept Art that really gives you a feel of what could have been.
The Master Plan drawn by Walt Disney 65-66

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Original Grand Opening of Disney’s California Adventure

By Keith Mahne

In the summer of 1995, Michael Eisner, Disney’s CEO at the time, gathered company executives in Aspen, Colorado to think of an idea for a second theme park in California. From those meetings, Disney decided it would build a park themed to the history and culture of the state of California. They wanted to make California into a theme park, hoping to create “precise reproductions of California landmarks, charming streets and gorgeous landscaping that stimulates the state’s forests and farmlands” and celebrate the California dream. It was intended to appeal to adults while Disneyland was intended to appeal to children. Construction of the park began in 1998; the park’s construction was accompanied by Downtown Disney and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, and renovations of the Disneyland Hotel and Disneyland Pacific Hotel. The park officially opened on February 8, 2001. Today, courtesy of Disneyland’s Cast TV, we will get a look at the openings and dedication ceremonies of the theme park, surrounding hotels and attractions…

Early Concept Drawing

Disneyland’s Cast TV, a resort-wide television network for Cast Members to stay informed on events around the resort, created a nice segment that featured all the dedications that went on during DCA’s grand opening in 2001. You will see the opening ceremonies of Downtown Disney restaurants, the Grand Californian Hotel, top attractions and speaches by Whoopi Goldberg, future CEO Bob Iger, Michael Eisner and the lovable Roy E. Disney among others. Let’s have a look:


The present-day site of Disney California Adventure was acquired by Walt Disney in the 1950s, and functioned as the parking lot of Disneyland for over 40 years. After succeeding with the multi-park business model at Walt Disney World in Florida, the Disney company decided to turn Walt Disney’s original theme park into a multi-park resort complex as well. In 1991, Disney announced plans to build WESTCOT, a west coast version of what was then known as EPCOT Center, on the site of Disneyland’s parking lot. The high price tag of the proposed park as well as the company’s financial and public relations problems with the newly opened Euro Disneyland (now Disneyland Paris) led Disney to cancel WESTCOT in 1995.

WESTCOT Concept Drawing
The park was expected to draw large crowds when it opened on February 8, 2001. On January 14, a Los Angeles Times article titled “The most Jam-Packed Theme Park on Earth?” stated, “Senior Disney officials acknowledge that there will be days when California Adventure will have to turn patrons away, particularly in the first weeks after the park opens, during spring break and again in the summer.” However, the actual attendance that year was substantially less than expected due to poor reviews from early visitors, the lack of focus in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot, lack of attractions for children, large amount of off-the-shelf attractions (with Soarin’ Over California being the sole exception), a high number of stores and restaurants relative to the number of attractions, and having a redundant theme, given the park is located in California. The park also lacks a park berm to separate it from surrounding neighborhoods. The berm in Disneyland Park uses trees and earthen mounds to build a physical barrier around the park so that structures external to the park cannot be seen, thus encompassing guests in the setting. At Disney California Adventure Park, nearby hotels, power lines, radio towers, and the Anaheim Convention Center are visible, reducing the immersion in the park. Disney had originally planned the park to be aimed at adults rather than children which turned out to be its major criticism.

The park opened to only 5 million visitors in 2001 while its sister park Disneyland saw 12.3 million visitors during the same time frame. Low attendance caused Disney to cut prices for California Adventure, slashing as much as $10 off of park tickets. In its first year, the park only averaged 5,000 to 9,000 visitors on weekdays and 10,000 to 15,000 on the weekends despite having a capacity of 33,000. Visitor surveys reported that only 20% of visitors to the park in its first year were satisfied with their experience. By October 2001 both Wolfgang Puck and Robert Mondavi closed their high-profile restaurants in the park, citing low crowds, though Mondavi remained as a sponsor.
By 2007, Disney had realized that the park was not working and that something major needed to be done. On October 17, 2007, the Walt Disney Company announced a multi-year, $1.1 billion redesign and expansion plan for Disney’s California Adventure Park (against its initial $600 million price to build). Each area was reimagined to transform the park from a veritable spoof of modern California culture to a romanticized, idealized version of the state, exploring specific time periods and historic settings. The project began in December 2007 and was completed in stages. Toy Story Midway Mania! opened on Paradise Pier in June 2008, in space formerly occupied by a store and restaurants. World of Color, a nighttime water and lights show on Paradise Bay, opened in June 2010. The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure opened on the site formerly occupied by the Golden Dreams theater in June 2011.
Tom Staggs, Bob Iger and John Lasseter

The most drastic changes to the park included a complete overhaul of the main entrance as well as an expansion into the last of the parking area originally designated as future growth space for the park. The main entrance and Sunshine Plaza were turned from a “giant postcard” spoof of California into Buena Vista Street, a representation of Los Angeles as it appeared when Walt Disney moved there in the 1920s. The “CALIFORNIA” sign in front was removed and donated to Cal Expo in Sacramento. Paradise Pier was turned from a comical representation of California boardwalks into a representation of Victorian seaside amusement parks of the 1920s, and some of the area’s off-the-shelf rides were either removed outright (Maliboomer) or re-themed to have more of a focus on Disney characters (Mickey’s Fun Wheel, Goofy’s Sky School, Silly Symphony Swings). Cars Land, an area that simulates Radiator Springs from Disney·Pixar’s Cars film franchise, was added to the southeast portion of the park, and includes three new rides including the E ticket Radiator Springs Racers. Construction was completed in 2012 and the park was “re-dedicated” on June 14, 2012. The park received a modified name, Disney California Adventure, and a new logo, first put into use on June 11, 2010 and promoted in a commercial promoting World of Color a few days prior.
The redesign and expansion of the park saw attendance rates increase drastically. In 2012, Disney California Adventure reached a record high for the park of over 7 million visitors (a 23% increase from the year before), a number Disney had hoped the park would do in its first year. The day of the park’s re-dedication saw the park draw a record number of 43,000 visitors in one day. The night before the re-dedication, over 500 people camped outside of the park in order to be the first admitted in. Two days later, the park hit a new record of 45,000 visitors. Speaking on the attendance increase at Disney California Adventure, Jay Rasulo, Disney’s chief financial officer, said “We had a very uneven distribution where most people spent most of their time at Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure was empty. Now, half of the folks go to one, half of the folks go to the other. It’s almost a dream come true.”

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Where to “Park It” in the Parks

By Ryan Reed

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


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


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

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