Let’s head back to opening day at Walt Disney World, you walk in, get your ride ticket booklet, and head to Frontierland. In Frontierland you find three attractions, one these is the not much of an attraction, the Frontierland Train Station. The other two are the Country Bear Jamboree and Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes.
One of our favorites was Davy Crocket’s Explorer Canoes. The canoes opened on opening day at the park and allowed guest to explore the rivers of America at a slow pace. Described as “Youngsters of all ages can experience the thrill of paddling an Indian war canoe down the Rivers of America. As everyone paddles together, their Frontierland guide keeps a sharp eye out for river pirates or unfriendly Indians.”
You would board your canoe in the boarding area just north of the current Tom Sawyer raft boarding area. The dock now serves as the Frontierland designated smoking area. This C ticket attraction did require the guests to do some work as each guest had to help row the 35 foot canoe. I’ll be honest and say that sometimes I did help much, but guides at the front and the back of the boat helped to keep us on course. Can you imagine being the guides with a boat full of tourists who have never rowed in their life?
The Davy Crocket’s Explorer Canoes traveled the Rivers of America along the same path as the Liberty Square Riverboat takes today. Due to other budgetary cuts in the early 90’s the attraction permanently closed in 1994. Did you ever get to travel the Rivers of America in a canoe?
This past weekend in Atlanta, D23 hosted the Disney Fanniversary Celebration at the High Museum of Art. This event travels the country celebrating the Disney Anniversaries that are occurring throughout the year. D23 describes the Fanniversary as: “commemorating dozens of unforgettable Disney milestones celebrating landmark anniversaries in 2014!” During the celebration you get to see never seen before video clips, actual artifacts from Disney archives, and meet some fellow Disney fans or bloggers. I was lucky enough to finally meet Elantrice from Diz Thru Brown Eyes, be sure to check out her site for more Disney fun.
As you entered the Celebration you’ll find a selection of buttons to choose from. The pins showcase a variety of Disney Anniversaries. Our event was hosted by Rick Lorentz (Archivist, Collection and Exhibits) who has been with Disney for 7 years, and Billy Stanek (Content Strategist and Digital Producer) who has been with Disney for 11 years. These entertaining hosts did a great job walking us through all the clips and providing stories. There were even special effects along the way.
Below is the long list of items that you get to hear and see during the Celebration. To view remaining dates and locations be sure to check out the D23 Website.
1964/65 World’s Fair
The presentation started with a look at the 1964/65 Worlds Fair and the attractions that were created by Disney. These attractions are celebrating their 50th Anniversary.
- it’s a small world – Some of the original commercials are shown. These commercials were thought to have been filmed on the actual ride at the fair, but a closer look revealed that it was shot in a studio. An Alice Davis interview provides a look at the thought that went into the final scene of the attraction. To pull people to it’s a small world, Disney built the “Tower of the Four Winds” this tower would be the first Disney Weenie, creating an easy meeting spot for those at the fair. I’m sure you have heard about the park weenies, but did you know that the weenie term came from the car lot as salesmen used hot dogs to lure potential customers onto the lot?
- Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln – original concept art is shown along with a video of Walt and the first animatronic developed – Mr. Lincoln.
- Progress Land presented by GE (Carousel of Progress) – one of the most popular attractions at the fair – we get a look at the original concept art of cousin Orville created by Marc Davis and voiced by Mel Blanc
- Ford’s Magic Skyway – a road trip through time. A video is shown as they developed the first Omnimover boarding area. The omnimover ride system continues to be used at the parks on attractions such as the Haunted Mansion. The narrator of this attraction was Walt himself. This was the only ride that didn’t make it fully back into the parks. Portions of it can be found today in the Primeval World section of the Disneyland Train.
- 45th Anniversary – The Love Bug
- 55th Anniversary – Darby O’Gill and the Little People
- 60th Anniversary – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – complete with 4-D effects (squirt guns)
- 30th Anniversary – Splash – released under Disney’s – Touchstone Films label
- 35th Anniversary – The Muppet Film – including an interview with the frog himself, Kermit.
- 30th Anniversary – Muppet Babies
- 15th Anniversary – Star Wars – we learn that this was the last film where Yoda was not computer generated.
- 75th Anniversary – Marvel Comics – you get to hear from Stan Lee on the early days of Spider-man.
- 25th Anniversary – The Little Mermaid – again complete with 4-D effects (bubbles)
- 85th Anniversary – Silly Symphony – a video is shown with one of the original sound effect used in The Skeleton Dance in 1929
- 80th Anniversary – Donald Duck – an actual artifact is displayed called the “Duckster Award” – this award was given to those that gave a significant contribution to the Disney Company. Roy even gave Walt this award. A fun video for Donald’s 50th Birthday featuring Dick Van Dyke wraps up this anniversary.
- 70th Anniversary – The Three Caballeros
- 65th Anniversary – Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad
- 55th Anniversary – Sleeping Beauty – a song that was written but never recorded, Evil Evil, will be released this year. This song was shared with the audience and will be available on upcoming CD’s.
- 10th Anniversary – The Incredibles
- 15th Anniversary – Toy Story 2
- 20th Anniversary – The Lion King
- 5th Anniversary – Modern Family
- 15th Anniversary – Zenon Girl of the 21st Century – I didn’t remember ever seeing this.
- 60th Anniversary – Davy Crockett – you get to sing along with the theme song, but do you know the whole song? Turns out the song has over 20 verses, wow!
- 30th Anniversary – Television Animation, including Disney Afternoon – soon as I got off the bus from school I was running home to watch this.
- 20th Anniversary – Gargoyles – another one I didn’t remember ever seeing.
- 20th Anniversary – Aladdin TV Series
- 60th Anniversary – Disneyland Television Series – used by Walt to spread the word about Disneyland. Amazingly this was shot in both color and black and white. The color version has never been seen, but was shared during the presentation including some funny outtakes.
Parks and Resorts
- 55th Anniversary – E Ticket
- 55th Anniversary – Disneyland Expansion
- 45th Anniversary – Haunted Mansion at Disneyland
- 20th Anniversary – Tower of Terror at Disney World – some original concept art is shared including one in which you would end up on your back at the end.
- 25th Anniversary – Adventures Club – Pleasure Island – oh how we all miss the club.
- 25th Anniversary – Typhoon Lagoon – Marc Davis’s original concept art is shared
- 25th Anniversary – Splash Mountain – Disneyland
- 35th Anniversary – Big Thunder Mountain – Disneyland – a Tony Baxter interview is shared on the inspiration behind this attraction.
- 25th Anniversary – MGM Studios – it will always be MGM to us.
- 50th Anniversary
- Videos of the original storyboards along with an interview with Julie Andrews are shared.
- Another artifact from the archives is shared – Mary Poppins hat. This hat was actually found
- Finally a song that was never recorded for the movie has been recorded and is shared, Chimpanzoo.
- And to wrap it all up, we all leave singing Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
- Be sure to stick around after the celebration to get your up close view and pictures of the artifacts.
As you cross the bridge into Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom, you will notice a large building on the right hand side with many different facades. This was the former home of the Adventureland Veranda, a counter service dining restaurant. The building definitely looks tropical and the menu was a mix of Polynesian entries, hot sandwiches, and drinks in a South Seas setting. The building is large and the seating for the restaurant went up to the bathrooms located between Adventureland and Frontierland. One of the restaurants verandas is currently the home of The Aloha Isle and its famous Dole Whip.
The Adventureland Veranda opened with the Magic Kingdom in 1971, at first serving mainly chicken and hot sandwiches. In 1977 the restaurant received sponsorship from Kikkoman a seasoning company and the menu changed a bit to include Teriyaki hamburgers topped with pineapple, stir fry, and sweet and sour hot dogs. The restaurant went into a reduced operating schedule in 1993 before being closed in 1994. It has reopened as a restaurant on a few occasions while other restaurants were going through remodeling, but mainly serves as a meet and greet location along with a spot to get cookies and hot chocolate during the Christmas Party.
One of my favorite parts of the Adventureland Veranda was wood décor and the seating along the water where you could watch the swan boats pass by. Did you ever get to experience the Adventureland Veranda? This is a large building sitting empty in Adventureland, what would you like to see in its place?
On one of our recent trips we enjoyed a meal at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant and while looking at some old Magic Kingdom maps I noticed that this was not called Tony’s in the 80’s. Here is a bit of history on what the Tony’s location used to be.
The original plans for the Magic Kingdom called for the location to be a coffee company sponsored restaurant and was to be called the Coffee Mill Restaurant. The coffee sponsor didn’t pan out, the name changed to Town Square Café and Oscar Mayer stepped in to sponsor the restaurant from 1971 to 1981. Yes, you could find hot dogs on the menu, but the main attraction was the Monte Cristo. You also found both Pepsi and Coca-Cola on tap and kids were given the iconic wiener whistle. Yep, just what you wanted to hear through your meal, a melody of whistles.
Oscar Mayer ended their sponsorship in 1981 and Hormel was added. The name did not change and the menu changed slightly to include BBQ, hamburgers, and steaks. The menu also features a history of the Hormel company along with advertisements for other businesses that could be found on Main Street USA.
In 1989 Hormel ended their sponsorship and the Disney Company took over the location going through an extensive renovation to convert it to Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. The restaurant was sponsored by Contadina in the 90’s and is currently sponsored by Buitoni.
Have you enjoyed a meal at Tony’s?
Last year on our trip to Disneyland the Carrousel was under refurbishment. As I was waiting for my family I began to read some of the interesting signs posted on the construction walls and learned a lot about Walt and the Carrousel.
Walt loved to take his girls to Griffith Park to ride the Carrousel and as he sat on the park bench dreaming about his future park you can be sure that a Carrousel would be one of the cornerstones of his park. As plans for Disneyland began to unfold, Walt sent out a team to find a carrousel that would work for his park. One was found at a park called Sunnyside Beach Park in Toronto, Ontario. The Carrousel was built in 1875 and was used by the park since 1922.
As the team began to refurbish the carrousel, Walt decided he only wanted jumping horses so any other type of animal was removed and horses were added, acquiring them from Coney Island and other parks across the country. One other thing you will notice about the horses is that they are all white, Walt noticed the popularity of the white horse on the carrousel and had all horses painted white in the mid 70’s, but don’t worry they all still have their own name. A complete list of the horse’s names can be found at city hall.
Today you will find a carousel at all Disney locations:
- Disneyland Resort – King Arthur Carrousel and King Triton’s Carousel at California Adventure
- Walt Disney World Resort – Prince Charming Regal Carrousel at the Magic Kingdom
- Tokyo Disney Resort – Caravan Carousel
- Disneyland Paris – Le Carrousel de Lancelot (sounds fancy huh)
- Hong Kong Disneyland Resort – Cinderella Carousel
- Shanghai Disney Resort opening in 2015 will have a Fantasia themed carousel
Disney indicates that one in every five park visitors take a ride on the Carrousel, are you the one? Which one is your favorite?
Here Come the Muppets
Do you remember that little Muppet show that was in the Animation Courtyard at MGM Studios? Well today the Animation Courtyard has changed a bit and the Muppet building now is home to The Voyage of the Little Mermaid. Oh yeah and we sometimes call it Hollywood Studios instead of MGM.
Here Come the Muppets opened at the MGM studios in May of 1990. The pre-show included our favorite, Sam the Eagle interrupting Rowlf as he played the piano. The show itself started with all the characters missing while Kermit tried to explain to Mickey Mouse that the show would go on without any problems. Eventually the rest of the group arrives by a monorail crashing through the wall and the music begins. They perform a few songs including Shout!, Bein’ Green, The Heart of Rock & Roll, and Personality.
The show featured large human sized characters which I think helped lead to the short duration of the show. As a kid I was a bit afraid of Kermit being taller than myself. The show closed in September of 1991 and the show building became the home to The Voyage of the Little Mermaid. But that wasn’t the end of the Muppets at MGM, a new show opened up called Muppets on Location: Days of Swine and Roses (In the location of the Cars meet and Greet today) and our favorite today Muppet Vision 3D opened in May 1991.
Which Muppet show did you like the best?