Disneyland Explored

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Filtering by Author: Daisy Sparks

Music Monday: Immortals (Big Hero 6)

Last week, Disney's Big Hero 6 won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. It's for all ages. I've seen it three times and each screening still felt like an emotional roller coaster with many tears during some heart tugging moments. 

Big Hero 6 does not feature any musical numbers performed by the characters. There is a scene in the film where the characters come to realize their potential as heroes working together for a cause. The music that accompanies this footage is called Immortals performed and written by rock band, Fall Out Boy. The song sets the tone of anticipation and hope that lies within this group underdogs preparing to take on the bad guy. 

Video content owned and licensed by Disney Entertainment, Marvel Entertainment, LLC, etc 

Big Hero 6 is the first Marvel story that Disney took on since the Marvel purchase in 2009. Disney did a great job to take this Marvel story and tell it through some Disney eyes and heart.

If you haven't seen this award winning movie, make some time to see it. You'll be glad you did. If you have seen it, get someone who hasn't seen it to watch it with have some tissue handy. 

Happy Music Monday!


My Visit to the Walt Disney Studios (Part 4 -Legends Plaza)

Disney Legends Plaza is the area in front of the Team Disney Building. It is a large patio area that honors individuals who have made a significant contribution to the Disney legacy. These Imagineers, artists, actors, songwriters, and business execs whose names and handprints are featured on bronze plaques are known as Disney Legends. We spent a good amount of time looking at many of them and learning about their contribution to Disney milestones. 

Each Disney Legend is awarded a beautiful statute. The statue was designed by Andrea Favilli. Check out this video where Favilli reveals some cool details about his sculpture. At the entrance of the Plaza you this huge Disney Legend sculpture so that you can get a good look at all the details mentioned on the video.

There are two more bronze sculptures to see in Disney Legends Plaza. These are both designed by Disney Legend, Blain Gibson. The first here is of Roy O. Disney sitting on a bench with Minnie Mouse. The empty spot was on purpose, as if they are waiting for Mickey or Walt to join them. You can also find this statue at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. 

Roy O. Disney & Minnie Mouse

Roy O. Disney & Minnie Mouse

The next statute is of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse, titled Partners. There are replicas located in several Disney Parks. It first debuted in 1993 at Disneyland for Mickey's 65th birthday. This particular one on the studio lot is the only one that you can get to at very close range. 

It was really a thrill to be able to spend time at Legends Plaza and learn about the many Disney Legends that have contributed much to the Disney story. It was a great family afternoon of discovery involving all things Disney. 

Our next stop after the plaza was the Walt Disney Archives. I'll share some of the Disney treasures that we were able to see  at the Archives

See you real soon!



Music Mondays: Chim Chim Cher-ee

Disney Legends and Academy Awards winners, Richard and Robert Sherman with Julie Andrews. Photo from Google Images. 

Disney Legends and Academy Awards winners, Richard and Robert Sherman with Julie Andrews. Photo from Google Images. 

For me, one of the great moments from the 87th Academy Awards show last night happened right after the Sound of Music medley to commemorate its 50th anniversary. When Disney Legend and Academy Award Winner Julie Andrews came out to acknowledge Lady Gaga's amazing performance, it was "practically perfect in every way". 

In 1965, the 37th Academy Awards presented Andrews with a Best Actress Oscar for her leading role in Mary Poppins. Disney Legends, Robert and Richard Sherman, also won for Best Original Score and Best Original Song for Chim Chim Cher-ee

Chim Chim Cher-ee is Bert's (the chimney sweep) theme song. The character of Bert is portrayed by Disney Legend Dick Van Dyke. The story goes that this song was inspired by storyboard drawings from Mary Poppins' screenwriter, Don DaGradi. DaGradi explained how in British folklore, chimney sweeps were signs of good luck. Here are some of lyrics that the Sherman Brothers came up with:

Chim chiminey
Chim chiminey
Chim chim cher-ee!
A sweep is as lucky
As lucky can be…
…Good luck will rub off when
I shake ‘ands with you
Or blow me a kiss
And that’s lucky too.

It's become an iconic Disney tune. You can hum this Oscar winning song and most people can join you. Now you know it's about good luck. 

Music video by Dick Van Dyke, Julie Andrews, Karen Dotrice, Matthew Garber performing Chim Chim Cher-ee. (C) 2014 Walt Disney Records

So next time you run into a chimney sweep, shake hands or blow 'em a kiss for luck.

Happy Music Monday,


Me & Oscar Sunday 2015

I love Oscar Sunday. My grandmother and her sister were big movie fans so I learned early about movie stars and watched many classic movies with them. My family loves going to the movies and seeing some great stories and performances on the big screen. We like a variety of movies and pay attention to the films that come out during the fall and winter in hopes of being talked about during awards season. 

So when we went to the Walt Disney Studio several weeks ago, we all were excited to view some of the Oscars that were awarded to Walt Disney. What was most fun was to actually hold one of his awards. The Walt Disney Archives were so kind to share and let us hold this Oscar that Disney won for producing Best Short Subject (1953) for Bear Country

Me holding one of Walt Disney's Oscars at the Walt Disney Archives (Burbank, CA)

Me holding one of Walt Disney's Oscars at the Walt Disney Archives (Burbank, CA)

The Oscar statue is pretty heavy. It weighs 8 1/2 pounds. You always see how the recipients are a little taken back at how heavy it is. We all took turns holding it. One of my kids practiced her acceptance speech. We had to remind her to thanks her parents. 

Disney holds the most Academy Award nominations at 59. There are lots of fun facts in relation to Disney and the Oscars. If you get a chance to visit the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, you can see more of the Oscar statues that were awarded to Disney, including the special Oscar he received for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

I am a big fan of NPH (Neil Patrick Harris) so I am looking forward to him hosting the 87th Academy Awards. I am still working on my picks but I think I have it narrowed down. We always try to plan a fun meal for the Oscar show and look to the Best Picture Nominees for ideas. This year, we decided that based on the number of British films and actors nominated, we are making Shepherd's pie and having some fish and chips, too. My husband, MacSparky, refers to Oscar Sunday as "my Superbowl". Secretly he enjoys watching it, too. It's a family affair. 

And the Oscar goes to.....

Playbill - Frozen Mashup Covers

I have a friends and family that are going through the extreme cold weather back East. I wanted to share with them and you these fun Playbill - Frozen mashup covers that Playbiil shared several weeks ago when Broadway went dark due to the extreme snow. I thought it was clever. See if you know all of them.

Sending some virtual warm sunshine your way!


My Visit to the Walt Disney Studios (Part 3)

The Rotunda (Executive Dining Room)

I was really excited our lunch adventure at the Walt Disney Studio. My friend had secured reservations for us at the executive dining room. This is an exclusive area that is only available to specific management levels (directors and above). It is located in the Team Disney Building. 

Before going up to the Dining Room, we were able to just take in the Team Disney Building. Designed by famed architect Michael Graves. It is a very distinctive building on the studio lot. You can actually see the Seven Dwarfs from several blocks outside the studio, including the freeway. They look like they are holding the roof which is a fitting symbol as it was the revenue from the 1937 movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, that Walt Disney used to purchase the studio lot. It is a pretty fun and impressive building that appropriately serves as corporate headquarters for The Walt Disney Company.

Team Disney Building at Walt Disney Studio - Burbank, CA

Team Disney Building at Walt Disney Studio - Burbank, CA

As we entered the Rotunda, our tour guide let us know that we were now above the Seven Dwarfs statutes that we had seen on the outside of the building. The executive dining room is cozy. The furniture, wall coverings, and even table ware were all designed exclusively by Graves for the Team Disney Building. 

Chairs and dining room designed by Michael Graves

Chairs and dining room designed by Michael Graves

These originally were different carpet patterns designed by Michael Graves that were found throughout the Team Disney Building. 

These originally were different carpet patterns designed by Michael Graves that were found throughout the Team Disney Building. 

Mickey Mouse Silhouette Plate designed by Michael Graves (Pfaltzgraff )

Mickey Mouse Silhouette Plate designed by Michael Graves (Pfaltzgraff )

We were escorted to our table by a lovely hostess. It is table service so we all got to choose what we wanted to eat. They even served us an amuse-bouch (bite-sized hors d'œuvre) to start. The menu was nothing too fancy. Very bistro-California style. There were no Mickey-shaped or Disney themed entrées. Our friendly server highly recommend the burger (My husband, MacSparky, did order and claimed it was delicious). Here are more photos of our dining experience.

We didn't run into Bob Iger but there were a couple high-level executives in having lunch. I couldn't help but think of all the deals and conversations that have probably happened in this rotunda. If the walls and chairs could talk. We simply had a wonderful lunch that included great conversation, a chance to soak up the exclusive dining room, and relax after our morning tour.

The Team Disney Building looks down Legends Plaza. So when we exited the building, we all made a beeline to discover some Disney Legends. There are so many things to talk about and see in Legends Plaza that it needs its own post. It was one of my favorite highlights on this tour. More about it my visit in Part 4: Legends Plaza.

You can catch up on  my previous posts here:

My Visit to the Walt Disney Studios, Part 1

My Visit to the Walt Disney Studios, Part 2

Wishing you some Disney magic,


A Few of My Favorite Things at Disneyland

My friends often ask what they should see or do when they go to Disneyland. Some of my friends either don't have kids or their kids are grown so I thought it'd be fun to share my recommendation for Disneyland without kids. Disneyland is for adults, too!

These are simply only a few of my personal favorites and in no particular order.

Experience the Main Street Vehicles

There are several old fashioned vehicles on Main Street. They provide a lot of atmosphere. There is the Omnibus, the Horse Drawn Street Car, a Fire Engine and a Jitney (an early automobile without a roof). They look vintage on the outside but they have a lot of modern machinery to help them navigate their way up and down Main Street. The only real old-fashioned item on these vehicles are the horns and bells they employ to talk to each other in the midst of Main Street traffic.  

There can be quite a bit of both foot and vehicle traffic on Main Street. There are boarding areas for all these vehicles at the end of Main Street and around Sleeping Beauty Castle. Take one up to the Castle, disembark, and then take another one back to Main Street. It is a great way to see Main Street and to experience the atmosphere. It really kinda of cool to get on the Omnibus, sit at the top and go towards the Castle. It's a great view. 

Matterhorn Bobsleds

Exclusive to Disneyland, the Matterhorn Bobsleds is an iconic image. You can see it from the surrounding area around Disneyland including from the freeway nearby. It has been part of the Disneyland landscape since 1959. It's gone through many refurbishments and upgrades but it remains a favorite among Disneyland fans.
I love the Bobsleds because it is the very first thrill ride that my kids rode when they were tall enough. It's a ride that is shared by generations but each one may have experienced it differently since the vehicles and ride system have all gone through many versions. I also love the story and innovation about its creation as told by its creator, Disney Legend, Bob Gurr.

Indiana Jones Adventure 

Located in Adventureland, this attraction was exclusive to Disneyland until another version opened up at Tokyo DisneySea (2001). It's a pretty popular ride due its thrill and also for any Indiana Jones fan. 

I love this ride because it is a great example of Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) at its best. It has an interesting queue, a story line, and an intricate ride system. It is what an "E Ticket" is all about. The queue is actually pretty fun to walk through, especially if you are a fan of the Indiana Jones movies. This recent BuzzFeed article has some great fun facts about the Indiana Jones Adventure

"it's a small world" 

I love "it's a small world" because it is also another classic Disneyland ride. It has a great history and story that began at the 1964 World's Fair. When it debuted as a Disneyland attraction in 1966, millions more would be able to enjoy the iconic song, the beautifully dressed dolls, and the overall design. So many Disney Legends have their handprint on this ride. Claude Coats and Rolly Crump would instrumental in designing the ride. Mary Blair and Marc Davis would breathe life into the sets and scenes. Alice Davis would dress the dolls in beautiful costumes to celebrate to countries represented. Richard and Robert Sherman would compose the beloved song that shares the name with the ride. Walt Disney personally worked with each of these Disney Legends to celebrate children of the world.

This ride is a first for many children. It is one the whole family can enjoy. Multi-generations can ride it together. It always makes me happy to see the "it's a small world" at the end of Fantasyland. During the holidays, the Small World area is simply magical with the highlight being "it's a small world holiday".  It's a whimsical boat road with a big message.

Experience New Orleans Square 

Strolling through New Orleans Square is really a treat. If you have some downtime or just want to take it a little slow, walk through this area and soak up all the details that Walt Disney and his Imagineers created to replicate the French Quarter. New Orleans Square was the first new land that was added to Disneyland. Walt was a fan of New Orleans and he had an active hand in its design to create an immersive experience that included the architecture, the food, and sounds you hear. You have to weave your way through the area and visit some of the great shops like  Mlle. Antoinette's Parfumerie that has some great Disney history right on its walls. 

The mayor of New Orleans was invited to participate in the dedication ceremony alongside Walt in July 1966. It would be Walt's last public appearance before his death in December 1966. He would not be around to dedicate the New Orleans attractions that would be Pirates of the Caribbean (1967) or The Haunted Mansion (1969) attractions. He had been in the process of creating a beautiful apartment located above the Pirates attractions so he could overlook the New Orleans area and gaze out onto the Rivers of America. You can see his initials carved out on that apartment balcony.

New Orleans Square remains exclusive to Disneyland. Tokyo Disneyland's Adventureland has a similarly themed area but Walt never walked around that Square. It remains one of my favorite places to eat, shop, and take in the Disneyland experience. If your are there into the evening and have time, make sure to watch the night time show, Fantasmic! that takes place on the Rivers of America. 

Ride The Disneyland Railroad

Trains were a big deal to Walt Disney. The Disneyland Railroad opened with the park on July 17, 1955. It was way for Guests to "embark on a grand circle tour of the Magic Kingdom". Train stations around the park has been added and made over as the park has grown. 

The main station is located on Main Street USA. From there you can travel to the New Orleans Square Station where you can here a telegraph coding Walt Disney's Opening Day speech. The remaining stations are Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. From the Tomorrowland station you have to go through a tunnel area and view the Grand Canyon (1958) and Primeval Diorama (1966). It's so cheesy and so good. Disney Imagineers in their early days during that time period. 

Hop on the train from any station but make sure you make the full circle. You can relax and peak into different lands. It's a good place to figure out where you want to go next.

I am lucky enough to be able to visit Disneyland frequently. It allows me discover many parts in small doses so I can get an appreciation of what it is to Disneyland history, how it got there, why it is there and who put it there.  I've realized that there are many places I like to go to for different reasons. Simply put, one of my favorite things to do is to go to Disneyland. 

See you real soon!


Music Mondays: In Summer from Frozen

The coldest temperatures are being recorded back East while it feels like summer arrived in the West. The crazy weather nationwide reminded me of "In Summer" from Disney's Frozen

Music and lyrics were written by the Oscar winning team of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. Frozen's beloved snowman, Olaf, sings this song to express his desire to experience all the seasons, especially summer. 

"The hot and the cold are so intense. Put 'em together, it just makes sense!"

Oh, Olaf....That line makes me smile right now. I think everyone has some form of "frozen fatigue"...admit it. 

Happy Music Monday!


The Evolution of Disney California Adventure

This week, Disney California Adventure (DCA) quietly celebrated it's 14th birthday. Walking around the park with my husband, I couldn't help but be struck with the long journey this young park has been on.

Inauspicious Beginnings
I remember being there on Opening Day. As a Disneyland Attractions manager, we were all given direction that we would support this 2nd gate, by working a shift on opening day, February 8, 2001. The expectations were very high. The last time Disneyland had an Opening Day was July 17, 1955. 

I found this old map from 2001 and decided to go with MacSparky to explore DCA then and now.

Grand Opening DCA Map Feb 8, 2001 and Current DCA Map Feb 8, 2015

Grand Opening DCA Map Feb 8, 2001 and Current DCA Map Feb 8, 2015

Think about some of these numbers. It cost $17 million to complete Disneyland in 1955. The amount allocated for the expansion of Disneyland that would be known as DCA was $1.4 billon. On a cold February day in 2001, DCA welcomed its first guest. 

My Opening Day Story

Disneyland was on the brink of an evolution by having two theme parks, two separate gates. There was a lot of planning that went into Guest Control in anticipation of a huge crowd wanting to be part of history and to get into a brand new Disney park on its first day of operation. It happened to be one of the coldest day on record (as far as cold days go in Southern California) on February 8, 2001.

I remember putting on my brand new costume ready to work a busy opening day. I had been assigned to work the new Muppets Theater for an evening shift. I left early in anticipation of a crowd. I had little to no traffic and made it to work in plenty of time. I got to my assigned location to check in. My manager friends, who had worked hard and long hours to prepare for this day, were all filled with energy. There were excited Cast Members everywhere ... and that was about it. I thought I could here crickets. At times it felt like there were more Cast Members present than Guests. Opening day at DCA was a dud. After a few hours, they told me to go home.

DCA Evolves

The very cold weather was blamed for a lackluster Opening Day crowd. In time, that excuse was proven false. The weather got warmer; the crowds stayed small. DCA, as it opened, fell flat. The second gate lacked a Disney story that connected with people. 

This initial reception wasn't a surprise in the Sparks household. There was an article in the Los Angeles Times leading up to the building of DCA (that I've searched for online and never found) talking about how Disney management–primarily Michael Eisner and Paul Pressler–spent a lot of time figuring out how to lower DCA's costs in the design and construction phases. 

The second gate at Disneyland was at one point contemplated to be something like Epcot Center but then it got scaled down. It was even referred to as as WestCot. Then they made another slash through the budget by using off-the-shelf ride systems slightly Disney-fied. When I read this article I couldn't help but think that DCA was being reduced to mediocrity before the first shovel touched soil.

Soarin' Over California was really the only original attraction that a chunk of money and Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) resources were allocated to. Most of attractions in the new park were either ones that already existed in a current Disney Park (eg. Muppet Vision 3D and "It's Tough to Be a Bug") or where rides that were purchased off the shelf that WDI put a Disney overlay on. All the attractions at Paradise Pier were reminiscent of carnival rides and that area had the stink of county fair about it. Disney even hired an outside company to help with the slogans, signs and Games of the Boardwalk

There is an interview that Walt Disney did back in the 1960's where he talks about how he got the idea for Disneyland.  Walt says "I felt that there should be something built. Some kind of amusement enterprise built where the parents and the children could have fun together."

Clip from the Walt Disney World Explorer (ver. 1) (1996)

If anything Paradise Pier was exactly the place Walt was trying to flee when he built Disneyland. 

After Opening Day, DCA continued to have only lukewarm attendance. Disney finally had enough and in 2007, $1.1 billion was allocated to make DCA a park worthy of the Disney name. Over a period of five years, a new area - Cars Land, improved entertainment that included World of Color, a reconfigured main entrance, and  Buena Vista Street all dramatically improved the Guest experience.

The investment yielded results. As I toured the park on its 14th birthday this past weekend, people were everywhere (and about half of them were wearing Frozen apparel!) Restaurants were full, attractions were busy, and it occurred to me that DCA is now … finally … truly a fitting compliment to Disneyland.

It has taken Disneyland almost 60 years to be the park that we all have come to love and know. I think that Disney California Adventure is just getting started to creating its own legacy. 

Happy Birthday, Disney California Adventure!



My Visit to the Walt Disney Studios (Part 2)

Meet me at the corner of Dopey Drive and Mickey Avenue.....

This is one of the most photographed landmarks on the Walt Disney Studio lot. It was actually a prop used for the 1941 movie, The Reluctant Dragon. Check out this movie because you can actually see how the Walt Disney Studio operated back during that time period. In this movie, there is an actor who is trying to pitch a story to the studio. The viewer actually gets a behind the scenes tour of the Walt Disney Studio. The movie was a way for Disney to show the public the happenings at his studio. 

There is a fire hydrant located to left of the iconic street sign. Our tour guide pointed out a couple fun elements at this famous corner.

If you look closely you also see some paw prints that were cleverly placed. Most overlook this design element since it just looks like dents on the pavement. As you see in the photo above, it can be covered with debris or water.  I love that even at the Studio, Pluto's paw prints are evidence Disney's attention to detail.

The buildings and landscape pretty much remain how they looked when it first opened in 1940. Our tour guide told a story of how Walt Disney's father, Elias Disney, was always in an entrepreneurial mood. Elias had had several failed business adventures. He had expressed to Walt about how to design of the studio in case it did not succeed. If you look at the architecture and design of these buildings, you can see how it could easily be used as medical buildings. Thank goodness The Walt Disney Studios was a success but if it had not, the lot could easily have been converted into a huge hospital facility. 

When they filmed the movie, Saving Mr. Banks, they were able to shoot the exterior scenes on the Studio lot since it had not changed much. If you watch this deleted clip, you can see how easy it was for the film production to shoot a movie scene that really could have happened as shown here.

We walked around to to see Stage A. The scene from Saving Mr. Banks where PL Travers (played by Emma Thompson) arrives at the studio and enters through these doors was filmed here. The studio lot has an art deco and timeless feel to it. 

We were able to go inside the main Theater very briefly. It is pretty plush inside with comfortable red velvet seats. The lobby has these glass murals where if you look closely, you can see a nod to Walt Disney's Fantasia. There are also a variety of Disney memorabilia located in the glass displays.  It is still used to for a variety of both private and public screening events. 

While at the main Theater, we ran into some of the Studio projectionist who let us peek into their work space. Talk about a technology both old and new. One of my kids continues to be involved in video production so it was such a bonus to see the projection room with all the equipment. They were so kind to tell us about their work and tools of the trade.

The most fascinating note was pointing out that the Walt Disney Studios is one of the few remaining production studios that own a 70 mm projector. They told us that when a film maker like Quentin Tarantino shoots in 70 mm, he will usually call on the Walt Disney Studios to see if he can come over to review his dailies there.

Those projection guys were full of so many stories like that. One of them had been there for thirty plus years and said his dad was there before him in the same role, too. If that projection room could talk about all the different events and people who had come through there, that would make for an interesting book.

We had to cut our walking tour short because we had exclusive lunch reservations at The Rotunda. It is the executive dining room located in the Team Disney Building. I'll share my lunch adventure at the Walt Disney Studios in Part 3.



Music Mondays: So This is Love

So this is the week to celebrate L-O-V-E. With Valentine's Day is just a couple days away, I've been thinking about some of the many Disney movie songs that could go on a Valentine's playlist.

"So This is Love" is from Walt Disney's animated classic Cinderella. This movie was released on February 14, 1950. This song was one of the first Disney songs that was sung by a Disney prince and princess. 

This Disney song was sung by Ilene Woods and written by Al Hoffman, Mack David, and Jerry Livingston. Woods also provided the speaking voice of Cinderella. It may not be as popular as "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes", but it is definitely one that can stick in your head for awhile. It's the perfect tune you can hum to your Valentine. Here are the words if you need them.

So this is love (humming)
So this is love
So this is what makes life divine
I'm all aglow, (humming)
And now I know
The key to all heaven is mine

My heart has wings (humming)
And I can fly
I'll touch every star in the sky
So this is the miracle that I've been dreaming of
(Cinderella humming)
(Prince humming)
So this is love 

Happy Music Monday!



My Visit to the Walt Disney Studios (Part 1)

For my birthday last week, I had a very Disney Day. It started early as we made our way up to Burbank from Orange County. It was an extra treat that MacSparky and our kids got to join me, too. We were on our way to the Walt Disney Studios for a private tour. 

I took a lot of photos and got a lot of information so I am going to break up my trip and share over several posts. It was really exciting to go and walk onto a place where so much Disney history happened. 

Upon arriving, we were given clearance and received our badges for the day. We entered the Zorro parking structure. It is named for the 1950s television series, Zorro, that was shot on this particular piece of land located on the studio lot. The parking structure was built in 1992. They have already outgrown it so they are building another parking area. The area behind these there was construction fences will also be able to hold production trucks and trailers.

NOTE: If you want to know everything Zorro, go to this website. It has lots of great photos, resources, and history of the show and the actor who played Zorro, Guy Williams

The Walt Disney Studios is a working studio with several sound stages on its property. It is pretty small compared to neighboring studios like Warner Bros or Universal. The bigger studios offer paid tours where guests can purchase a ticket and take a tour of the studio lot. I was very lucky to have a dear friend offer to give me a private tour on my birthday. 

Finally getting to walk onto the lot, our special tour guide told us a little about the history of the studios. First, the Walt Disney Studio was established in 1928. With the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Walt purchased the land for his growing studio in 1938. Think about how much a movie ticket in 1937 would cost and that Snow White earned $7.8 million in its original run. That's a lot of tickets! That movie paid for the studio that would allow Walt to continue pursuing his dreams.

The Walt Disney Studio would be complete by 1940 (photo from D23 archives)

The Walt Disney Studio would be complete by 1940 (photo from D23 archives)

Our tour guide pointed out the iconic water tower. Most water towers have four legs, there are six legs on this tower because Roy O. Disney felt it was more aesthetically pleasing. While it no longer holds water, it stands proudly in an area that is visible from every corner of the studio lot. It is actually almost shorter than the Matterhorn at Disneyland by almost 12 feet. Here are several views we had of it during our day.

Next we got to walk around some of the sound stages and learn a little more about each one. If the walls could really talk, they would say much about Disney history. Stage 1 was where Leopold Stokowski would film scenes for Fantasia. It is the oldest sound stage on the lot. It would later become the original stage for The Mickey Mouse Club. In 2013, it would be renamed and dedicated to Annette Funicello.

NOTE: During our visit, we were introduced to Mike Funicello, Annette's younger brother. He has been working for the Walt Disney Studios for 41 years. He kindly took a couple minutes to tell us a story. Mike told us how he would go to Disneyland with his sister while she worked. He would go ride the steam trains all day. What a great memory of Disneyland. I jokingly told my kids that they were now one or two handshakes away from many Disney legends.  

Stage 5 is currently being used for the new ABC show, 'Black.-ish. They weren't shooting that day but they had the doors open so you could see some of the sets. It was also home to the sitcom, Home Improvement

Stage 2 is pretty special. It was where Mary Poppins was filmed. Later, The Princess Diaries would also be filmed in Stage 2. So it is only right that it is named after Julie Andrews. It is one of the bigger sound stages on the lot. Due to the space, WDI built and assembled many Disneyland attractions on this stage, too. 

There are several more smaller sound stages that are used on the lot. Masterchef occupied a sound stage. You could see all the pots, pans, and food containers through an open door. It is interesting to think of a cooking competition show housed in a huge sound stage. Some serious lighting on top of heating issues in an enclosed building can be a challenge. Our tour guide also let us know that The Voice also comes uses one of the sound stages when their seasons overlap. 

I learned a lot about a working studio. I learned that sound stages are in high demand and production companies work with many different studios to find space. It was a Friday when we went so the lot was fairly quiet. 


Part 2...Meet me at the corner of Mickey and Dopey.


Groundhog Day Family Tradition

One of my co-workers told me that she celebrated Groundhog Day by measuring her growing boys. Have a designated day, the same day every year to measure how much your kids have grown. Each year is exactly a year to the date since you last measured their height. I loved that idea so my family adopted that idea.

I know that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow today so there was much sadness about more winter weather to come. Living in Southern California means we are lucky to get some winter-like weather. I don't think Punxsutawney Phil predictions pertain to us. We actually would like a couple more weeks of cooler weather.

We measured our kids late tonight and it is always fun to see how much they have grown. They also like to compare each other's growth at the same ages. They definitely grow differently and have grown taller than their mom. 

Happy (Late) Groundhog Day!


Music Mondays: When You Wish Upon a Star

"When You Wish Upon a Star" is probably one of the most famous Disney songs. It was written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington for Walt Disney's animated classic, Pinocchio. It has the distinction of being the first Disney song to win an Academy Award (1940) for Best Original Song. It ranks #7 on the AFI's 100 Greatest American Movie Music

This week, when you hear the first chords of this iconic tune, it might be followed by "Julian Edelman and Malcolm Butler, you just won the Superbowl. What are you going to do next?" It was this song that was chosen for the now famous "I'm Going to Disneyland" Superbowl commercials.  When You Wish Upon a Star has become a theme song that you identify with The Walt Disney Company

The song has been around since 1940 when it was first recorded by Cliff Edwards who provided the voice of Jiminy Cricket. It is not just a Disney classic tune but remains both a beloved and motivational song that has been covered by many artists like Louis Armstrong, Billy Joel to Indina Menzel. If you go into iTunes and search When You Wish Upon a Star, you can see just how many different versions there are and you would be surprised at who has recorded a version of this song. There are hundreds of recorded versions of this song.

I think the most interesting recording that I came across was one by Beatles member, Ringo Starr and jazz musician, Herb Alpert. Here's the proof. 

It's always fun to figure out a Disney-related song to share on Music Mondays. The Superbowl had me think about this song for many reasons. It is a song you immediately associate with Disney. It has become a theme song for dreams and accomplishments. 

When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you

Dream on!


A Disney Day - coming soon

Yesterday was a special day as I had a fabulous Disney kind of birthday. A dear friend gave me and my family a private tour of the Walt Disney Studios. We had a lunch at a special place and spent the rest of the time learning all things Walt Disney and of the Studio that he lovinging built. More photos and memories to share with you next week. 


Happy Saturday!