Real Character (Or, How Peter and Jake Made Wendy’s Day Perfectly Darling)

As Confessions moves into 2014 with new ideas and stories, I’m also taking a moment or two to reflect and share a few memorable experiences my family and I had during 2013. This particular instance comes from a trip to Disneyland in September, and serves as an open letter to those who made a possibly sad experience absolutely wonderful.

Dear Residents of Never Land (aka, Peter Pan and Jake the Never Land Pirate),

I write this letter as a long overdue note of thanks for making a five year old’s day at Disneyland so incredibly magical by small acts of kindness that were, in essence, incredibly huge in her eyes – and ours, too!

You see, as I’ve mentioned in the past, Peter Pan and Never Land are huge in our household. While there are other aspects of Disney from day to day, depending on which characters we are “playing” at a particular time, Peter is the constant. Any time we’ve met you at the park, Peter, you’ve always been a highlight and we’ve been excited to see you. So, it was with great anticipation on this trip that our daughter wore the Wendy dress her grandmother had recently made her in anticipation of meeting you.

That day in the park, September 9th, 2013, we arrived and looked for you in the locations and attractions we had met you previously. The early morning yielded no results, although one cast member had mentioned seeing you around Dumbo. Yet, in asking a character handler at the Tangled meet & greet, we were informed that no, you had not made it to the park today. Later, however, we were informed by a cast member at another area of the park, “Peter should definitely be around today!” Being that there was quite a bit of confusion among cast members as to your whereabouts, I ventured to Main Street to chat with the character handlers there to see if I could get a definitive answer. Although I cannot remember the handler’s name, I can tell you what a wonderful help she was. After explaining our situation to her, she stepped back and made a call to the back. Upon her return, she sadly explained that you had some troubles in Never Land that morning. Hook and his fellow pirates were being extra feisty, and you were needed there to reign them in. Sadly, you would not be at the park that day until Soundsational parade time.

While we understood – I mean, these things happen, pirates being how pirates can be – we were nonetheless a little sad. Here our little Wendy had one wish, and that was to meet you and show you her dress, Peter. But being the trooper she was, she held back tears as we went to plan “B.” While she was reluctant to meet Tinker Bell (I guess Wendy and Tink have a bit of a past…), she was more willing to venture across to Disney California Adventure in hopes of meeting Jake (the nice Never Land Pirate) and return to Disneyland later to at least wave to you as you passed by during Soundsational.

Jake, this is where you came in. When we got over to Californina Adventure, you were not out, but were told you would be arriving shortly. The short wait was worth our while, as you instantly recognized Wendy and took her on a magical journey through the streets of Hollywoodland in search of the ever elusive second star to the right. For a full five minutes, the two of you were in your own world, walking down one side of the street and up the other, eyes peeled for any sign of Never Land.

He must be here somewhere!

After finding evidence of a possible path to Never Land (a star in the window of the Animation Building), it was time for you to move on and meet other guests waiting for you. But Jake, you put a smile on that little girl’s face – the biggest one we had seen that day.

At least, the biggest one we had seen so far.

Later that afternoon, we traversed back to Disneyland in order to catch the only showing of Soundsational that day – at park closing. Still unsure of meeting Tink in Pixie Hollow that day (I mean, she HAD wanted to shoot Wendy down, you know…), we made our way to the back of the park for a ride on It’s a Small World. After that, we sat down for a spot at the end of the parade route. As the sun began to set and the parade started, our little Never Lander waited with anticipation to wave to you, Peter.

Waiting For Pan…

Soundsational is definitely a great parade. The music, the upbeat tempo, the cast of characters… this time was no different. Very much worth waiting for. However…the main event was coming up – would you see Wendy and wave back?

Hi, Peter!!!!

Did you see her? Did you ever! Not only did you wave, but you made her feel like the most important person in the world for 15 seconds. When you spotted her, you ran over, got down on her level, and….

“Wendy!!! Where’ve you been? I’ve been looking ALL OVER for you!!! I’m so glad you made it today! I have to get back and catch Hook, but I’m so happy to see you!”

As you ran off to fight those pirates once again, and our little one squealed with glee, you took a moment to point back and tell Tinker Bell she was there. And yes, even Tink was happy to see her!

As adults, many seem to forget the magic of meeting a favorite character in the park. We tend to be the ones gasping at long lines to meet a mouse, a princess, or a boy who never grew up. We scoff at meet & greets and want to get to the rides. But for many of us, we can look at the face of a little girl who just met her hero…

“He stopped the parade just for me!!!” – her exact words!

…and it’s the most important thing about being in a magical place.

So thank you, Peter and Jake. You made a little girl’s day by going above and beyond what many expect. And I am forever grateful for moments and characters like you.

Sincerely,

A Dad Who Never Wants to Grow Up

My dear readers, I wrote this letter with the hopes that it would bring you happiness – to remember what it’s like to see Disney through the eyes of a child. I also did so in the hope that you would help me out with a small favor. See, I would love to see if this could make its way to the “friends” of Peter and Jake that were at the parks that day in September. I really would like them to know of the impact and impression they left on us that day. It truly was magical. Please feel free to share, comment and pass this on to anyone who may be able to get it to these wonderful people. Until next time, my friends, be blessed!

Ask a DisNerd – Toddling Through the Parks

Hello, everybody, and welcome to a special edition of “Ask a DisNerd!” Though normally posted on a bi-weekly basis, I’ve decided to answer this one off of schedule, because I think it’s such a good question to be addressed for families thinking of taking a trip to a Disney Park with little ones in tow. Confessions reader Lyndsey asks, “What are the best rides/shows/restaurants for families with toddlers? People say you shouldn’t go to Disney with toddlers and I have to believe there is a good plan for families with small children. Thanks!”

"I may be little, but I'm ready to find my way around a theme park!"

“I may be little, but I’m ready to find my way around a theme park!”

Lyndsey, this is a great question. Having been taking my daughter since she was 20 months old, I feel I have some answers for you. However, I feel I should note as well that what works for one does not necessarily work for others. This is just the opinion of one DisNerd (but others, feel free to join in the discussion in the comments section!).

To really answer the question, I’d start with the second part that’s more of a statement: “People say you shouldn’t go to Disney with toddlers and I have to believe there is a good plan for families with small children.” There is most definitely such a plan. It’s called going FOR the toddler. The instant you forget you’re taking this trip for them, you’re missing out on the reason you’re going. Your kids are going to move at a different pace than you. They may want to look at a fountain when you’re trying to make it to a ride, but remember: this is the first time they’ve seen that fountain. There’s childlike wonder in the little things that we take for granted; things that we only pay attention to after we’ve made it onto the newest ride.

My daughter's favorite attraction on her first trip may have been a cement slab in place for construction - but what fun it was!

My daughter’s favorite attraction on her first trip may have been a cement slab in place for construction – but what fun it was!

With that being said, remember they’re likely to be overwhelmed – I still can be myself when I walk through those gates! Great “first rides” would be Dumbo or It’s a Small World – rides that are relatively tame, but to a young one’s mind bursting with wonder and color. I learned the hard way after going with a friend and his three year old for the first time many years back that Pirates Of the Caribbean probably isn’t a great ride to start with on a child’s first trip! That comes later – IF you decide they’re ready for it. They may not be. The first trip we took, my daughter went on any ride we would take her on. However the next few times we went, she went on very few rides: It’s a Small World, Dumbo, Mad Tea Party, King Arthur’s Carousel and the Main Street Vehicles were some of the only attractions she’d be willing to go on. But that was okay. Mom and Dad may not have been able to ride everything they wanted to (Grandparents and single rider lines allow for some wiggle room), but we were able to have fun with our child, who absolutely loved meeting characters, watching parades and walking through stores. She was in her element, and we made some truly magical memories.

So what rides exactly would I say are good for toddlers? Having only been to the Disneyland Resort, I can offer up a short list from there. However, as I say, it’s different for all. Rides that may work (but not necessarily limited to) are:

Dumbo the Flying Elephant

It’s a Small World

Mad Tea Party

Casey Jr’s Circus Train

King Arthur’s Carousel

Peter Pan’s Flight (A great choice for a first dark ride experience)

Autopia

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Main Street Vehicles

Mickey’s Fun Wheel (Non-swinging gondolas recommended for first timers!)

The LIttle Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure (Another good first dark ride choice.)

King Triton’s Carousel

Good shows include:

Mickey and the Magical Map

Disney Junior Live on Stage

Any of the street entertainment in Disney California Adventure

Soundsational Parade

Pixar Play Parade

As far as restaurants, the best I can say is it depends on your child’s taste, as well as how well they would sit in table service locations such as Carnation Cafe or Cafe Orleans. Also, if it’s their first time, I would recommend against making reservations for character dining until your little one has met characters. Some kids can be quite intimidated – add that to the child being strapped into a high chair as a giant fuzzy head comes toward them…well, it might not be so pretty!

This list is nowhere near complete – feel free to add yours to the list in the comments section!

For more great tips and ideas on this subject, I highly recommend the wonderful Babes in Disneyland blog!

Most important is, have fun! It doesn’t matter what age you take them. Just be prepared to compromise your expectations with your child’s experience. See it through their eyes instead, and I’m sure you’ll have a blast!

DisNerds, and Proud Of It!

I’ve struggled to write this article for a while now, because I was unsure of the tone I’d be setting in writing it. See, many of us get picked on for our love of things others just don’t have that much passion for. The constant teasing of, “You’re going to Disneyland AGAIN?” and, “Don’t you ever do anything that isn’t related to Disney?” can get to us, even if to others it’s just good natured teasing. However, I didn’t want to turn this into a “woe is me” type of article; not when there are so many “real world issues” that make hurt feelings over Disney seem so insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

Sometimes however, people do experience real hurt over being belittled for their fandom. It’s not easy to brush off when what you’re passionate about gets mocked. Or worse, you get mocked for it.

Take Confessions reader Kristen for example. Kristen met her future husband through a Disney fan site. Due to their love of Disney, as well as where many of their friends and family were located and able to travel to, she and her fiancee planned their wedding at the Disneyland Resort. Kristen says, “Even when the plans originally had nothing to do with Disney, I was still hounded about how I was being selfish, making everyone travel to OC and I better not do a ‘baby’ wedding with everything being Mickey themed. Ultimately it was going to be the same price to do the wedding everyone else wanted or to do a smaller wedding at Disney, which is what Jeff and I wanted. So that’s what we decided to do. I thought we could possible have a mini family reunion and spend some time together in the Parks, since it had been over 10 years since we were last all their together. My siblings freaked. At that point, I wanted to just elope because I was so tired of hearing, ‘If you want to get married at Disney, you are not old enough to get married.’ ”

Then there’s (Confessions contributor) Hayden. Hayden had a rough time in high school, being “that Disney guy.” Hayden shares this story:

“In high school, there was this one hour where I was a lone sophomore in a class full of seniors. I had a single friend, hardly any acquaintances; most of my classmates were complete strangers to me. It wasn’t uncommon that I’d wear a Disney-related t-shirt to school, and if there was downtime in class, more than likely I’d be drawing various Disney characters. I’d hum or whistle Disney tunes in the halls to myself. It wasn’t something I was trying to hide, but I certainly didn’t feel like I was over-broadcasting my fandom.

The teacher was out, and a nasty kid turned quickly around and shot out a vulgar, ‘Hey Disney boy. Look at you.’ I was wearing a Mickey Mouse t-shirt, and had been drawing Mickey as well. ‘What a f**.’

His surrounding peers shot around to see who the kid was shouting at, and soon many eyes were on me. I had absolutely no interest in flattering him with a response. Such a crass remark wasn’t worth my energy. Yet his words hit with a sting. He was a complete stranger to me, and for the life of me I could not think of what I could possibly have done to him to get such a rise from him. I sat in the corner! I never spoke! I kept to myself! I’ve never said ANYTHING to this boy, let alone rub my WED-lovin’ in his face. He kept coming with some pretty vulgar bites, and I stood my ground. I said, ‘Stop,’ as firmly as I could. He did stop.

I was more grateful, though, for what occurred immediately after. A friend of the assaulter stood up and said very matter-of-factly, ‘Dude, you rail on him now, but you wait. You give him 7 years and you’ll be paying to see what he comes up with.’ I’ve made it a mission in my life to prove that brave young man’s point.”

More times than not, however, what we fans of all things Disney hear is more along the lines of, “You’re going to Disney AGAIN!?!? (Side note: Let’s be honest, when someone says “Going to Disney” instead of being more specific with the destination, we realize we’re dealing with someone who just doesn’t understand…) Don’t you ever do anything else?” Or we hear, “Wait, you’re going to a Disney movie – without kids? WHY????”

Reader Chelsea finds she’s seeing more and more of the teasing happening as she gets older. “I’ve been known to bust out fun facts and my knowledge of Disney history and some may smirk or look at me as if to say, ‘Is this chick for real?’ The area I most get ridiculed is with the Disney Princess franchise. Some accuse me of thinking I’m actually a princess, tell me that I really am, or possess characteristics or the appearance of one.”

Confessions reader Tia says she doesn’t really get teased, but definitely got some confused reactions when she recently told people she was planning a trip to Disneyland by herself. “When I told people about flying to LAX to go to Disneyland for the day,” she says,  “I’d get confused looks, and a ‘by yourself?’ Or ‘no kids?’ ‘You are not going to Disneyland alone!!’ ”

Here’s the awesome thing, though: These comments, the snide remarks, the eye rolls from those that don’t get it… they do nothing to shame or dissuade us. We have found a joy in life. A joy that comes from watching a black and white anthropomorphic mouse outsmart a peg-legged cat. An innocence that helps us to believe in fairies. That dreams really do come true. A joy from riding a horse drawn carriage down a dream of Americana we’ve never truly known. A giddiness over meeting a five foot five version of a childhood memory. A happiness of careening down a mountainside in a log. Nothing others say tends to dissuade us. We’re proud of who we are.

Many of us feel bad for those that just can’t understand. As Confessions reader Crystal puts it: “ It makes me sad actually, that they will never understand the butterflies in your stomach, so excited you could scream, anticipation of walking into the main gates of the happiest place on earth. To me, it’s their loss for not letting go of themselves enough to be a kid at heart in the most magical place in the world. And I secretly hope that one day, they will understand the true bliss of taking their children there because I think everyone deserves to be as happy as my family is at some point in their lives.”

Or as Chelsea puts it, “….several people ask me, ‘Why? Why do you love Disney so much?’ to which I usually reply, ‘Do you like being happy?’ “

We do like being happy. And we’ve found at least part of this happiness in Disney. To some it may seem to consume our lives. To us, it’s just that it’s a part of our lives, along with everything else. A part that brings us happiness and memories. Ultimately, what’s wrong with that? It inspires us and keeps us moving forward.

Kristen’s wedding went off beautifully. She still may get grief from some, but, “Despite those times I feel like a freak, I’m proud of my fandom. I have a place that makes me feel magic and happiness and I have fantastic friends (and a wonderful husband) who are happy to share that experience with me.”

DisNerds or not, still an awesome couple!

DisNerds or not, still an awesome couple!

Hayden took the insults and made the best of them to fuel him to be the best he could be. Count me in as one of those who can’t wait to see what he comes up next.

After seeing stuff like this, I really am excited to see what the future holds for Hayden!

After seeing stuff like this, I really am excited to see what the future holds for Hayden!

I’ll close this out with another comment from him, as it encapsulates what I believe many of us feel when we’re given a hard time. And perhaps, with a little rewording, in the world outside of Disney, it sums up what those with passions that others don’t understand feel as well:

“My love for Disney helps me. It has taught me everything about believing in myself and realizing seemingly impossible dreams. It provides me with a constant smile. It provides a safe-haven from the stress that builds in my life. It unites my family. It gives me hope in myself and in my world. What harm am I doing by loving such a company? Do you seriously have things figured out so much more than I do that you need to go out of your way to tell me that I spend too many of my personal resources on something I’m passionate for?

Ask me why I like going to Disneyland so much. Don’t ask me why I don’t spend more of my vacation time elsewhere. Ask me why I like the Disney films I do. Don’t tell me Cinderella is just for little girls. Ask me why I consider Walt Disney a personal hero. Don’t tell me I’m naive.”

Well said, Hayden. I know a lot of fellow Disney fans who would agree.

Ask a DisNerd – Favorite Rides and Those Darn Cats!

Good morning, all! Welcome to a slightly delayed edition of Ask a DisNerd! This time around we have two questions to answer, so let’s get right to it, shall we?

First off, Confessions reader Andrew asks: “What’s your favorite Disney ride of all time?”

It would be easier, Andrew, to tell you what my least favorite ride would be, since, generally speaking, I love almost all! But if I had to pick one ride and one ride only, it would go back to one of the original opening day rides.

Peter Pan’s Flight – pretty much perfection in an attraction that has stood the test of time.

Perhaps it’s because of the fact that Peter Pan is among my favorite Disney stories. Maybe it’s the idea of being able to fly in a pirate ship high above London and Never Land. Possibly it’s because it’s such a popular (i.e. long-lined) ride that it’s near impossible to ride over and over again, that it makes each time I ride a special treat. Nonetheless, I am like a little kid each time I get on that ship to begin my journey to the second star to the right. I can’t help but hope each time the ride breaks down. That I’m stuck for an extra amount of time floating over Never Land. To me, that’s a sign of an excellent ride – one that you can’t spend too much time on. One that captures child-like innocence and wonder. To me, that is Peter Pan’s Flight.

“Straight on ’till morning!”

Our second question comes from Confessions reader Tanya, who asks: “Why would anyone name a cat after the devil?”

Tanya, your question stumped me for a while. I was wondering what that had to do with Disney until a little light bulb went off in my head. “Ding! She’s referring to Lucifer!”

Here, kitty kitty kitty….

While I don’t have an answer to that, many theories point to the idea that Walt wasn’t all that fond of cats. Pete the Cat, aka Pegleg Pete, was Mickey Mouse’s first nemesis. The Cheshire Cat, while not villainous, wasn’t very helpful to poor Alice in any way. And those Siamese…. oh, how they tortured poor Lady. But I’m not sure I’m buying this theory. It doesn’t explain cute (and a little mischievous) Figaro or the helpful  to dalmatians everywhere Sergeant Tibbs! Just like humans, there’s a fair balance of good and bad!

So, I was left with asking the final authority on why anyone would name a cat Lucifer: My five year old daughter.

“Well, you see, when they were making Cinderella, they really wanted to name him Luci, but that’s a girl’s name. So they had to come up with a boy’s name instead. They thought about how furry he was and named him Luci-fur!”

Probably not the answer we were looking for, but pretty much as good an answer as I could find!

Alrighty, fellow DisNerds, that should do it for this time! Hope you enjoyed this overdue “Ask a DisNerd” – be sure to keep those questions coming!

Walt Disney’s Mechanical Wonderland!

It’s amazing the articles one can come across while perusing old and vintage magazines. Imagine my surprise, when, looking at an issue of Popular Mechanics from 1957, I saw the following words written on the bottom of the cover: “Walt Disney’s Mechanical Wonderland.” Reading the article, I found myself just smiling at this blast from the past. I love seeing old ads, articles, and write-ups for the Happiest Place on Earth. What makes this article unique as compared to other promotional materials of their time, though, is the magazine it was written for. Instead of focusing on the “magic of the park,” or the exterior beauty, this article touches on a few of the  technological breakthroughs (yes, the spinning alligators needed a lot of help!) and the work done in particular by Robert Mattey and Bob Gurr. My favorite part of the article? That at “exactly 9-1/2 miles (per hour) the (Autopia) car can crash into a brick wall and do no injury to car or occupants.” But, I’ve said too much already. Instead of going on and on about this gem, I’ve scanned the entire article for your reading enjoyment. Hope you enjoy, and feel free to share with your friends!

Popular Mechanics Cover, November 1957

Popular Mechanics Cover, November 1957

POP 2

POP 3

POP 4

POP 5

POP 6

POP 7

POP 8

Ask a DisNerd – The “Partners” Statue

Greetings, fellow DisNerds!

The question for this week’s “Ask a DisNerd” segment comes from Confessions reader Tim, who sent the following inquiry:

“This pertains to the Partners Statue at Disneyland. Is there some significance to where Walt is pointing? Also what is the story behind the statue and how it came to be?”

 

“Partners,” as seen at Disneyland.

This is a great question, Tim. So great, in fact that I couldn’t answer it myself. The general consensus is that it was decided that there needed to be a tribute in Disneyland park, and later in other Disney Parks as well. The Partners statue was designed by Imagineer and Disney Legend Blaine Gibson. As for the the direction Walt is pointing: although there are many speculative guesses, the truth is that he’s just generally pointing out to the crowds and the structures, as if saying to Mickey, “Look at all the happy people who have come to visit us today.”

There’s a lot more to the story than just that, however. In looking up the history and significance to verify what I believed to be true, I came upon articles on the history of the Partners statue from Disney historian and MousePlanet writer, Jim Korkis. Instead of putting my own spin on things, I’ll include a few quotes from part one and part two of his articles, with a strong suggestion that you read both for some great reading.

“I have heard that the statue was designed so that Walt was pointing toward the future. Or, even more specifically, pointing to the future location of Epcot. Or, within the last decade, the story has evolved that Walt is pointing to the statue of his brother Roy at Walt Disney World to symbolize Walt telling Roy to carry on with the dream. I have even heard two different Disney park tour guides tell me that Walt is pointing towards the trains rather than the castle because of his great love of trains and the whole concept of the theme park began with trains.

None of those stories are correct. They are no more correct than telling guests that the bride in the Haunted Mansion threw her ring out of a window and it imbedded itself into the cement, or that Cinderella has her own horse and that it has ribbons on its tail on the carousel in Fantasyland. Yet, despite all the evidence to the contrary, these stories and others continue to take on a life of their own and people believe them and repeat them.

Now, more than ever, I think it is important to tell the story of the ‘Partners’ statue. When it was first installed at Disneyland in 1993, I talked with sculptor Blaine Gibson and he told me that Walt was pointing down Main Street and saying to Mickey at his side, ‘Look at all the happy people who have come to visit us today.’

While that is basically correct and Gibson has told others that same simple statement, there is always more to the story.”

Korkis also touches on Walt’s opinion of statues of himself, along with Lilian’s wishes. I wonder how she felt about the finished project, although I did overhear Imagineer Tony Baxter say at an event I once attended that the Disney family felt Walt wouldn’t approve of his statue in any form at Disneyland.

“In 1962, at the urging of his WED supervisor, Richard ‘Dick’ Irvine, Gibson sculpted a bust of Walt Disney as a ‘thank you’ gift for Walt. Blaine now claims he was tired, working on the project late at night, and that the foundry work was not very good and he couldn’t quite control what he wanted. In any case, when he presented it to Walt, Gibson claimed that Walt said, ‘What am I going to do with this? Statues are for dead people.’

Gibson wanted to destroy the bust and replace it with another, but it was kept at WED for awhile and then at RETLAW. Gibson kept the clay original in his garage and told me that ‘I couldn’t bring myself to put a hammer to it.’ He did a cartoon sketch of himself sculpting the bust and Walt saying, ‘That dummy thinks it looks like me.’

Years after Walt’s death, Gibson worked on a Cal Arts memorial medal that featured a head shot of Walt and Walt’s widow Lillian told him at the time that ‘she didn’t ever want a bust or a portrait or a statue of Walt to be done.’ “

So what was the actual inspiration for putting a tribute to Walt in the parks? Korkis continues:

“Officially, the idea was pitched that just two decades after his passing that Walt Disney was being forgotten. A new generation of children had grown up without seeing him on television every week. Examples of other forgotten innovative businessmen were shared, including how people might enjoy eating a Hershey chocolate bar but had no idea there was a man named Milton Hershey to thank for their enjoyment. It would be good business to spotlight the memory of Walt Disney.

Eisner eventually agreed, thinking it would help promote the brand, but there was still the challenge of convincing the surviving Disney family members, especially Lillian, that a statue would be a good way to remember Walt. The statue would be unveiled to celebrate Mickey’s 65th birthday, a significant milestone.”

As for the significance of the “version” of Walt we see in the Partners statue, as well as what Walt may be pointing or referring to:

“While working on the project, Gibson told another interviewer, ‘I chose to depict Walt as he was in 1954. I think that was when Walt was in his prime. It was tough trying to match the media image of Walt Disney, the one the public knows, to the real Walt, the one we knew. I don’t like to leave a sculpture until it has a feeling of life. I had done a bust of Walt in terra cotta while he was alive, but it wasn’t quite right. I hope this time I’ve captured that magical spirit of his. I think Walt is admiring the Park and saying, “Mickey, look what we’ve done”.’ “

Korkis also reveals that the placement of Mickey was quite the quandry, and the interesting tidbit that Marty Sklar wasn’t a fan of Walt pointing (as we should all know, we don’t point at Disney!):

“There were several different compositions that were considered. One featured a young Mickey running ahead and pulling Walt along. It was rejected because it seemed awkward for Mickey to be dragging Walt forward. Another featured Walt with the rolled up blueprints of Epcot in his right hand and using them to point forward. Yet another had Walt with an opened handed wave (at the suggestion of Marty Sklar who didn’t like the concept of Walt pointing) while in Mickey’s hand was a small black globe with two mouse ears. One image that popped up in several sketches was Mickey with a one-scoop ice cream cone……(Gibson said) ‘Marty [Sklar of Imagineering], [Disneyland President] Jack Lindquist, [Imagineer] John Hench and I had a meeting about the ice cream cone and there were two concerns. First, we felt that it made Mickey appear a little too immature, and, second, we felt it might favor one lessee, like the Nestle Company or Carnation. John and the rest of us finally agreed to have Mickey’s arm at his side.I liked the way it came out…and design-wise it worked with more emphasis on Walt.’ “

As I stated above, I really hope you take the time to check out and read the complete story from Korkis. His articles are full of great Disney history, as is his book, The Revised Vault of Walt: Unofficial, Unauthorized, Uncensored Disney Stories Never Told, available for purchase through Amazon.

I hope this answers your question, Tim! Thanks for asking about one of my favorite places to visit in Disneyland – regardless of whether or not Walt would have approved, it’s a great monument to a great man who achieved so much through hard work and determination.

Keep your questions coming, dear readers! We’ll be back with another “Ask a DisNerd” in two weeks!

Ask a DisNerd – A Third Anaheim Park?

ask (500x375)

Hello there, dear readers and fellow DisNerds! Welcome to the first edition of Ask a DisNerd! Every two weeks, we will open up the mail bag and answer a reader question or two. The questions range from theme park trivia to speculation on Disney movie characters, and a little bit of everything in between. This week’s question comes from reader Chris F., who asks the following:

How likely do you think we will see a third theme park in Anaheim?

Thanks for the question, Chris – I felt this would be a great question to answer this week, on the eve of Disney’s D23 Expo, when you never know what surprise announcements may be made. Speculation runs rampant, so we might as well speculate at this point as well!

I do think there is a strong likelihood that we will see a third theme park in the Anaheim area. As much as I love Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, there is only so much they can do within the parks to continue to draw crowds. While Buena Vista Street and Cars Land were nice additions to California Adventure, they were expansions to an already existing park – a park that, like its counterpart across the esplanade, has little room to keep expanding.

With a huge mix of locals and tourists, the public seems to be demanding more and more, at the same time expressing sadness (and sometimes outrage) when an older attraction is removed. The simplest choice (I say simple rather tongue in cheek here) is a third theme park. The bigger questions becomes, What kind of theme park?

My counterpart, Hayden has added what he would like to see in said theme park:

“When such happens, though, I have heigh-ho-high-hopes that such a park will relieve some pressure that seems to press on Disneyland Park. Disney California Adventure is well equipped to handle the droves of crowds the resort takes in. I just can’t help but feel, each time I’m at Disneyland, that such full-throttle crowds seem more like they’re a surprise Disneyland didn’t plan for. Now, perhaps such a hope is in vain; after all, the thought of bringing in less people to a park is kind of the opposite of what they’d want to happen. (Gosh, every blog post I’m discovering I’m really good at invalidating my own points and opinions. Criminy…) Perhaps I could say what I’d like to most see in this next park.

#1 – That it’ll actually be a park. Not a water park, not a shopping district, not an aviary. A park.

#2 – That such a park will be absolutely brimming with original concepts and brilliant, at-its-finest Imagineering. A lot of complaints were thrown out when Disney California Adventure opened, saying that such a theme was tragic, senseless, and lame. I’ for one a grateful we weren’t stuck with a copy-cat of a Walt Disney World park. It may have its quirks, but I have to give kudos to California Adventure for being 100% original. A majority of the attractions it opened with are now staples to any Disneyland Resort vacation (i.e. California Screamin’, Soarin’ Over California). Here’s hoping this third gate will be something we’ve yet to experience. I know that this isn’t really so much an original thought, I think any Disney Parks fan would want something original. It is my highest hope, though.

#3 – Let’s get it right the first time, eh? Please don’t cut financial corners, Disney. Please? It looks so good when you go all in.

#4 – BRING BACK THE PEOPLEMOVER! (Wrong place? Wrong time? My bad.)”

I as well have high hopes for a new park. What do I expect to see? Well, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see the Marvel division of Disney make its presence known in a huge way.  According to an article written by Robert Niles on Theme Park Insider, “Who owns the rights to use those characters in theme parks? In Japan and the United States east of the Mississippi: Universal. Elsewhere in the world: Disney.” So, if this is correct, and Disney owns the theme park rights to Marvel in SoCal, why not capitalize on it? I could see this happening – a third park that would appeal to older kids, based more on thrill rides possibly? Let’s just say I wouldn’t be surprised.

Now, what would I personally like to see? Much like Hayden, I want a new experience. I want something with cutting edge technology and new stories to tell. Attractions like Tokyo Disney Sea’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” or Hong Kong Disneyland’s “Mystic Manor.” Attractions that don’t necessarily tell Disney-centric stories, but attractions that push the limits of both Walt Disney Imagineering and the visitors’ imaginations. Give us new, give us fresh and exciting. Give us MAGIC.

I would LOVE to see this in person – if the video leaves me in awe, I’m sure the attraction would do even more!

In all honesty, regardless or whether we see a third theme park or not, I’d like to see more of the above in the current parks.  What about you guys? Do you see the possibility of a third park in Anaheim? Why or why not? If so, what would you like to see?

Thanks again for the question, Chris! I look forward to answering more questions from all of you. Keep them coming, and look for another “Ask a DisNerd” in two weeks!