Walt Disney Birthday Week: Freaky Fridays- Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Merch

While Walt Disney never meant for DISNEYLAND to become a stagnant, non-profit enterprise, he carefully made sure that any change or new enterprise was something that added to the park’s ambience and storyline. Profit was never the sole motivating factor. When DISNEYLAND, Inc. executives pressured Mr. Disney to add a roller coaster, he resisted until he could do it his way. 

Those who took over as caretakers of his Magic Kingdom, however, have not been as careful about carefully balancing Walt’s eye for artistry with the bottom line. That’s why nowadays, shortsighted decisions are made without regard for story or theming. When that happens, we get cynical tie-ins like Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout!

Instead of waiting until they could “do it right”, like the park had done so many times in the past, Disney management chose to destroy an existing attraction that had been carefully themed and situated in the park. The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror was one of the most popular attractions in Disney California Adventure. It fit the theme of the area around it and was carefully located where it was built because that was officially 1313 Harbor Blvd.-  an appropriate address for a haunted hotel.

However, Wall Street had noticed that Disney hadn’t yet taken advantage of its valuable Marvel properties in the parks. Even worse, corporate accountants noticed that Disney Theme parks weren’t moving as much Marvel merchandise as they felt should have been sold. Rather than come up with a creative way to put more Marvel characters in the park, the company took a popular and unbroken attraction and ruined it just to show Wall Street that it was using Marvel characters and selling Marvel merchandise in the parks. 

There were better locations where Marvel characters could have fit in; in fact, Tomorrowland in DISNEYLAND is due for another makeover, but that would have taken time and more money. Instead, the company chose to do what lesser theme parks like Six Flags would have done, just to shoehorn another company property into the parks. With the rumored acquisition of 20th Century Fox by Disney, we can only hope that they use their new properties in a thoughtful manner instead of shoving them into places where they do not belong.

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Walt Disney Birthday Week: Happy Birthday, Walt Disney!

“One of the things that I’ve learned from Walt that I use in my everyday work and life is that nothing is impossible. The quote of his that I love the best is, ‘Actually, it’s kind of fun to do the impossible.’ I try to remind myself and others of this every day.”

-Ralph Castaneda

One of the things that I’m often asked is why I admire Walt Disney so much. Is it because I was also born on December 5th? Could it be because I enjoyed his films as a child? Maybe I associate DISNEYLAND with a lot of great memories? While many of these things are true, I didn’t find out about his birthdate until I was already interested enough in his life to read an extensive biography about him. Though I do associate his many creations with happy times, my affinity for Mr. Disney is based on much more than just these elements; Mr. Disney is a hero of mine because of how he dreamed big and made many of his dreams come true. 

When his first business venture failed, he could have easily given up and taken a job at one of his father’s businesses. But he took a fateful trip out to California to follow his dreams and rebuild his life. 

When Universal Studios took Oswald the Lucky Rabbit from him, he didn’t despair for long- he dreamed up a new character who became more popular than Oswald ever was- Mickey Mouse!

When he dreamed of making an animated feature film unlike any ever seen, they called it “Disney’s Folly”. But that film- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was a huge success and still beloved by children around the world.

When he wanted to build a theme park that would look like nothing else in the world, everyone in Hollywood thought it would ruin him, mocking it as another “Disney’s Folly”. His Magic Kingdom- DISNEYLAND- was an instant success, still welcoming guests from around the world over 60 years later.

Walt Disney’s ability to do what was considered to be impossible is just part of what made him a great person. His boundless optimism is something to be admired. He truly felt that earth’s problems could be resolved by research and innovation. Pollution, waste, hunger, disease and other societal ills could be eliminated with advancements in technology. A great, big beautiful tomorrow awaited us; if we chose to continue the March of progress. Thus Walt Disney was always ahead of his time- and he sought to do his best to make the world of Tomorrow happen today.

Mere words cannot convey Mr. Disney’s continuing influence on the world. On his birthday, millions of people will visit the theme park he built and the parks he inspired. They’ll watch a Disney film or television program. They will enjoy Disney music or experience something he created or inspired. His dreams live on. His stories continue. His influence will never end. Happy Birthday, Mr. Disney! 

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Walt Disney Birthday Week: Music Mondays – Walt’s Favorite Song

Walt Disney’s favorite song was Feed the Birds from Mary Poppins. He would often ask the Sherman Brothers to perform it for him at the end of a busy week.

Richard Sherman, on the other hand, always considered There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow to be the song he felt was Mr. Disney’s Unofficial theme song. The song’s upbeat view of the future mirrored Walt Disney’s positive attitude. Mr. Disney saw and understood the problems that the world faced, but he felt that research and technology would eventually find solutions to them.

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Freaky Fridays: Central Soya!?!

When DISNEYLAND first opened the Big Thunder Ranch in 1986, it struggled to find a sponsor for this out of the way spot inside the park. It did eventually find one, however- Central Soya.

What the heck is Central Soya? It was the largest processor of soy beans in the United States at the time, crushing soybeans for industrial and agricultural customers. Its soybeans were used as ingredients in packaged foods and livestock feed. Why it would sponsor something at DISNEYLAND is still an open question. It didn’t sell anything that the average DISNEYLAND guest would be able buy directly from the company.

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Theme Park Thursdays: The Largest Hidden Mickey

The largest Hidden Mickey is extremely hard to see, though millions have probably been through it without even knowing. DISNEYLAND Drive in Anaheim is an access road that runs through the DISNEYLAND Resort’s Hotel District and under Downtown Disney. The lush landscaping and sidewalks were designed to appear like the world famous mouse when viewed from above.

Guests walking along this road to and from the parks and the convention center might wonder why the sidewalk has an odd path, not realizing how it all looks like from above.

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