June 27, 2012

Wednesdays With Walt : Walt On Disneyland

In this installment of my Wednesday with Walt series, I showcase the relationship Walt had with his Disneyland in his own words.

"To all that come to this happy place : welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America... with hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world."

"Why do we have to grow up? I know more adults who have the children's approach to life. They're people who don't give a hang what the Joneses do. You see them at Disneyland every time you go there. They are not afraid to be delighted with simple pleasures, and they have a degree of contentment with what life has brought - sometimes it isn't much, either."

"I don't want the public to see the world they live in while they're in the Park. I want them to feel they're in another world."

"... They didn't realize that behind Disneyland was this great organization that I built here at the Studio and they all got into it and we were doing it because we loved to do it."

"We believed in our idea - a family park where parents and children could have fun - together."

"Disneyland is a work of love. We didn't go into Disneyland just with the idea of making money."

"Disneyland is the star, every thing else is in the supporting role."

"Disneyland is a show."

"It has that thing - the imagination, and the feeling of happy excitement - I knew when I was a kid." 

"I first saw the site for Disneyland back in 1953, In those days it was all flat land - no rivers, no mountains, no castles or rocket ships - just orange groves, and a few acres of walnut trees."
"We did it (Disneyland), in the knowledge that most of the people I talked to thought it would be a financial disaster - closed and forgotten within the first year."

"Biggest problem? Well, I'd say it's been my biggest problem all my life. MONEY. It takes a lot of money to make these dreams come true. From the very start it was a problem. Getting the money to open Disneyland. About seventeen million it took. And we had everything mortgaged including my personal insurance."

"It's no secret that we were sticking just about every nickel we had on the chance that people would really be interested in something totally new and unique in the field of entertainment."

"It's something that will never be finished. Something that I can keep developing... and adding to."

"Whenever I go on a ride, I'm always thinking of what's wrong with the thing and how it can be improved."

"I've always said that there will never be another Disneyland, and I think it's going to work out that way. But it will be the equivalent of Disneyland. We know the basic things that have family appeal. There are many ways that you can use those certain basic things and give them a new decor, a new treatment. This concept here will have to be something that is unique, so there is a distinction between Disneyland in California and whatever Disney does in Florida."

"Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world."

June 25, 2012

Introducing The Disney Store's Villains Designer Collection

As a self-proclaimed Disney girl who always seems to appreciate the darker side of fashion, I am really excited about the newly announced Disney Villains Designer Collection coming out later this year from the Disney Store. It features our beloved Disney bad girls looking their absolute best and very much en vogue. The Evil Queen, Maleficent, Cruella de Vil, Ursula, the Queen of Hearts and Mother Gothel were all given the Designer Princess treatment and it sure shows. So far the collection includes : six limited edition dolls, a nail polish collection, a handbag featuring all six lovely ladies and a series of journals but it seems more items will be introduced at a late date. It will all surely go fast, just as the Disney Store Designer Princess series did several months back. Dolls can be ordered separately or as a complete collection but they are not cheap so start saving now if you plan on purchasing all six of these limited edition dolls. As always, once these dolls make it to eBay, the prices will surely skyrocket.

The Evil Queen
Photo Courtesy of Disney Store Blog

Photo Courtesy of Disney Store Blog

Cruella de Vil
Photo Courtesy of Disney Store Blog

Photo Courtesy of Disney Store Blog

 Queen of Hearts
Photo Courtesy of Disney Store Blog

Mother Gothel 
Photo Courtesy of Disney Store Blog

June 13, 2012

Wednesdays With Walt : The Man Behind The Myth

For this Wednesday with Walt installment I decided to pose a very important question... Who was Walt Disney? Many Disney fans and historians have strong opinions on the answer to this question but in all honesty it's very hard to know what comes from fact and what comes from fiction when it comes to Walt Disney.

A natural storyteller, I'm sure that Walt wanted some real input on his own legacy. Who wouldn't? I know I would. I recently read a Walt Disney quote where he himself said that the Walt we saw on TV and in the media wasn't the Walt Disney that went home to his family every night. Essentially he was admitting that he had chosen to create a Walt Disney myth to partner the man he really was in life. Some people find this fact to be somehow dishonest but I feel quite the opposite. How many of us put on a happy face at work even when we would rather not? How many of us show who we really are deep down to our co-workers, employees and customers on a constant basis? I choose to enjoy the fact that Walt kept a little piece of himself for himself and his loved ones. Good for him! 

It is well-documented that Walt Disney expected a lot (maybe too much at times) from his employees and this is the main criticism that I have heard about Walt Disney the man. I argue that the same can be said about the visionaries behind each and every single successful entertainment company and studio in Hollywood. In fact, as nice and as humble as I have heard that John Lasseter is in real life, there is a nasty blog online that makes fun of him on many topics, from his looks to his personal management style. Sadly, based on the content, it looks like it was one of his own animators who created it. Do such statements mean that either John Lasseter or Walt Disney are evil employers who don't really care about their employees? No, they don't. It is obvious that they care a lot and their decisions can often be controversial. It means that they have had high expectations and standards, two things that should be treasured, not criticized.

People still like to speculate on exactly what Walt Disney the man would have wanted and what he wouldn't have wanted for Disneyland and beyond but in all honesty very few people alive could really answer those questions. I'm lucky enough to know someone who worked directly with Walt for years and he has nothing but glowing things to say about him. I have never met anyone who had any serious problems with Walt personally but I have met a few people who have said that he was a great boss to work for because he always pushed himself and those around him for more. They didn't resent this because they saw it as a challenge, not a burden. Walt was a great animator, entertainer and storyteller. He was a family man who wanted to make the world and America a better place. He valued hard work and creativity. I guess for me, that is all I need to know.

Walter Elias Disney (1901 –1966)
 Photo Courtesy of Disney Parks

June 10, 2012

Buzz Lightyear : Detecting High Levels Of Happiness

You can now follow Buzz Lightyear as he explores the new Disney California Adventure Park and reports back to Star Command. As I have said, my five year old son loves Buzz Lightyear so this commercial has prompted more than a couple happy dances in our home alone. In fact, my son has already started the Cars Land countdown. In less than five days, he will be in Radiator Springs! Ka-chow!

June 9, 2012

The ABCs Of Why I Love Disneyland : B Is For Buzz Lightyear

Buzz Lightyear is seriously a big deal in my house. No, seriously. A really big deal. In fact, for years Buzz has been my son's #1 pick for everything from toys to clothes to Halloween costumes to birthday party themes. If you feel differently and dare say that Sheriff Woody is somehow better than Buzz, please be prepared to explain yourself in detail because my son does not agree. In fact, Buzz (in his plush form) is the one toy that my five year old son has always asked for each and every day and Buzz is the one toy that my son insists on sleeping with each and every night. We have watched each Toy Story movie more times than I would like to admit and now somehow Buzz even feels like a member of our family.

So given all this, it should be no surprise that my son's hero would also play a huge role in our Disney vacations. A trip to Disneyland for us would not be complete without my son waving to Buzz at the end of Fantasmic!, a few rides on Toy Story Midway Mania and a couple spins on Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. One of my favorite Disneyland memories is from when my son first saw Buzz Lightyear. Now I don't mean the first time he saw Buzz in a parade or on a float, I mean the first time that my son saw Buzz walking through the park. Buzz was on his way to take pictures with a line of waiting children by Toy Story Midway Mania when my son spotted him. I hadn't seen Buzz myself but all of a sudden my son started yelling for me to let him out of his stroller right away. Since he had never done this before with such passion, I did what he asked and watched curiously to see what would happen next. Then I saw him. Sure enough, it was Buzz Lightyear and he was getting away! Seconds later, I saw Mark run after Buzz, catching up with him just in time to jump in front of him and give Buzz a surprise bear hug. Because of the "uniform" and my son's shorter height, I could tell that Buzz could not see my son at all but, based on his body language, he must have still felt someone holding on to his waist. Always the professional, Buzz did not miss a step. He gave my son a tight hug back, patted him on the head in a friendly manner and started off walking again down Paradise Pier while gesturing for us both to follow him over to where we too could wait in line and take a photo with him.

This last week has seemed especially Buzz-driven for us so the timing of this post seems very fitting. First, Buzz's right arm was torn while we were on vacation in Washington D.C. and, of course, the tears started to flow. Then the night we got home, my son woke up in the middle of the night screaming for Buzz and worried that somehow he was missing or lost. In reality Buzz had fallen off the bed and my son was probably just having flashbacks from the one time that we lost his beloved Buzz on vacation. Luckily for all of us, a sympathetic fairy godmother at the Grand Californian had quickly mailed Buzz back in a matter of days. I told my son that Buzz was excited about his journey home because he would get to fly in a plane and go on a little mini-adventure before making it to us. That seemed to help. Over the years Buzz has gotten stained, worn and torn but my son insists there is nothing wrong with him. In fact, at one point we tried to replace the older Buzz with a cleaner and newer version but my son politely declined our offer and suggested that we might want or need the new Buzz to cuddle with, not him. Last night at bedtime I asked my son why he loves Buzz so very much and his reply was so simple and so sweet. "Buzz is my friend. He's always with me. I love him." Unlike some Disneyland purists, I love that Pixar has been introduced into all the Disney Parks because their stories are endearing and timeless. After all, Walt always wanted Disneyland to change and evolve with us and their storytelling is something that Walt Disney himself would surely have enjoyed.

The Big Buzz Lightyear Meeting Comes At Last..
Photo Courtesy of My Adventures in Disneyland

4th Birthday at the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
Photo Courtesy of My Adventures in Disneyland

June 6, 2012

Wednesdays With Walt On Facebook... The Man Behind The Legend.

On each Wednesday morning my Facebook posts will highlight the life of Walter Elias Disney and his impact on entertainment, animation, travel, family life and the American narrative. Please "like" My Adventures in Disneyland on Facebook today to stay connected and to celebrate this amazing man and the early days of Disneyland. I welcome each of you to add your own posts, comments, memories and favorite Walt Disney photographs to my Wednesdays with Walt series.


Walt Disney at Disneyland
Photo Courtesy of Disney Parks