If your first visit to The Magic Kingdom was after 1986 you probably never met the Florida Orange Bird. For the first fifteen years of the park, the Florida Orange Growers sponsored the Sunshine Pavilion, the area in Adventureland that is home to the Tiki Birds and the Sunshine Tree Terrace snack bar. An animatronic bird known as the Orange Bird greeted guests at the entrance to the Tiki Bird’s theater and a life sized Orange Bird could frequently be seen milling about with guests in the open plaza in front of the Sunshine Pavilion. The Florida Orange Growers sponsorship ended in 1986 and the Orange Bird disappeared.
For nearly twenty years the Orange Bird was all but forgotten until Tokyo Disneyland began producing Orange Bird products in 2004. Japan has a day known as Orange Day and the Orange Bird has become quite popular with the Japanese audience. Some day he may return to roost at his origin in Florida.
From the beginning of Disneyland, The Golden Horseshoe Revue held a very special place. The show premiered before a private audience on July 13, 1955 as part of Walt and Lillian’s 30th Anniversary celebration. The show opened to the public on Sunday July 17th 1955 and ran until October of 1986. The Guiness Book of World Records lists The Golden Horseshoe Revue as the longest running musical stage show in history.
A young Steve Martin worked at Disneyland and credits one of the shows stars, Wally Boag as his inspiration to pursue a career in comedy. Wally Boag and Betty Taylor starred as Pecos Bill and Slue Foot Sue. In September 1962, the 10,000th performance was aired on The Wonderful World of Disney. Boag and Taylor worked for Disney for 27 and 31 years respectively and died within two days of each other in 2011. You can catch their 10,000th show on youtube.
The third movie featured in The Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is Mary Poppins, one of the very few Disney movies included in the attraction. Measured by Academy Awards, Mary Poppins is the most successful Disney Film ever made. It was nominated for 13 awards in 1964, winning five. Julie Andrews won for Best Actress and the film also won Oscars for Best Film Editing, Best Original Music Score, Best Song for “Chim Chim Cher-ee” and Best Visual Effects. The movie Mary Poppins is a testament to Walt Disney’s personal perseverance in pursuing his vision. Author P.L. Travers published the first Mary Poppins book in 1934. As early as 1944 Walt Disney was interested in making a movie featuring the flying nanny. Ms. Travers did not feel the stories could be told adequately on film and resisted granting film rights. Walt was finally able to convince the author but it was not until the 1960′s. Walt himself was heavily involved in the making of this film which was released two years prior to his death. Although the movie was very well received by the public, Ms. Travers did not like the finished product and never agreed to have any more of her work used in film.
The Great Movie ride shows a glimpse of Bert and Mary singing Chim Chim Cher-ee high atop London rooftops. The next time you are in Hollywood Studios, stop by Sid Cahuenga’s One of a Kind and take a look at the jacket worn by Dick Van Dyke in the Jolly Holiday with Mary scene. If you are so inclined, you take take it home with you for only $6500.
Walt Disney wanted “The Florida Project” to be educational as well as entertaining. Before your next trip through Spaceship Earth, take some time to learn about some of the scenes you will see there as you travel through time. Johann Gutenberg was born around the year 1400 in Mainz Germany. His invention of the movable type printing press is considered one of the key events in human history. The ability to reproduce books for a relatively low cost allowed an explosion of knowledge that lead to the Renaissance. The most famous of the books printed on Gutenberg’s new press is the Gutenberg Bible. Even though a Gutenberg Bible cost roughly three years wages, it was still far cheaper to produce than a Bible that was hand copied. His 42 line Bible was also known for its quality and aesthetic beauty.
Unfortunately for Gutenberg, his invention did not afford him much success and when he died in 1468 he was essentially broke. The technology for printing evolved rapidly and spread quickly throughout Europe. Gutenberg first unveiled his invention in 1440 and before the century was out printing was widespread. When Martin Luther published his 95 Theses in 1517 they were printed and widely disseminated. Typical of the Disney attention to detail, the page Gutenberg is examining in the scene is an exact replica of an actual page from the Gutenberg Bible.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be worth a million. One of the very best ways to visit a Disney Park when you are stuck at home is through YouTube videos. The best of the Disney YouTube videos are from the official Disney Parks channel on YouTube. YouTube began in 2005 and was purchased in November of 2006 by Google. Disney was one of the very first to recognize the importance of YouTube and started the Disney Parks Channel immediately after this acquisition. Since 2006 Disney has averaged a new video on this YouTube channel every 40 hours! That means there is more than enough content to give you a virtual park visit whenever the mood strikes. Subscribe now and enjoy!
Published in 1870, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a classic novel by Jules Verne that tells the story of Captain Nemo and his submarine Nautilus. In 1954 Disney released the movie with the same name that has become the most famous adaptation of the original novel. The movie stars James Mason, Kirk Douglas, Paul Lukas, and Peter Lorre. Only White Christmas had a higher box office gross in 1954 and the movie won two Academy Awards, Best Special Effects and Best Art Direction – Color.
After the film was completed, many of the props were displayed until the mid 1960’s in a walk through exhibit in Disneyland. The pipe organ that Nemo famously plays in the movie was moved to the Disneyland Haunted Mansion for its opening in 1969 and is still there. The pipe organ in the Disney World Haunted Mansion is a replica of this original. Before your next trip to see the grim grinning ghosts, make sure you watch 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Disney parks are still like no other place on earth more than 50 years after the start of Disneyland. Since Disneyland first opened in 1955, the behind the scenes technology plays a big part in what makes the parks so special. Since the beginning, Walt was a man who could tell a wonderful story and loved to use the latest technology to help guests experience his stories in new ways. If you want to see what was cutting edge back in 1957, take a look at “Walt Disney’s Mechanical Wonderland” by Tom McHugh on page 138 of the November 1957 issue of Popular Mechanics. The article gives an under the hood look at the technology used in the Casey Junior Circus Train ride, the Jungle Cruise, the Mr. Toad ride, and Autopia. This is a fun look back at the park at its beginning and how some of the magic was accomplished. You can find the entire issue on Google Books.
You have heard him as the Ghost Host in Haunted Mansion. Paul Frees is known for many voices but you might be surprised where else you have heard this versatile voice actor. He was the voice of the Pillsbury Dough Boy, Sprout, the sidekick of the Jolly Green Giant, and Boo-Berry in the monster cereal commercials. In addition to commercials, he was the voice of Bullwinkle’s nemesis Boris Badenov and was Burgermeister Meisterburger in Santa Clause is Coming to Town.
Not only does he play the disembodied host in Haunted Mansion, Paul also utters the famous phrase “Dead Men Tell No Tales” on Pirates of the Caribbean. He narrated Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and is the Auctioneer on Pirates of the Caribbean. He even voiced a barnyard horse in Mary Poppins. Take a listen to outtakes from the original recording for Haunted Mansion on youtube.