Interview: Jim Adams and Don Payne (Disneyland entertainers)

Jim Adams delights an audience member during the “Golden Horseshoe Revue”
Jim Adams delights an audience member during the “Golden Horseshoe Revue”
As puppeteer, Don Payne takes a break during a television appearance to promote Disney’s “101 Dalmatians”
As puppeteer, Don Payne takes a break during a television appearance to promote Disney’s “101 Dalmatians”

I just posted my interview with Disneyland entertainers Jim Adams and Don Payne, who during the 1970s were involved in performing, writing and directing shows for Disneyland an on tour across the country for Disney.  CLICK HERE more photos and the interview

The Magic of the Disney Characters

Minnie Mouse on Disney's Private Island, Castaway Cay
Minnie Mouse on Disney’s Private Island, Castaway Cay

There’s something truly special about the Disney characters . I grew up going to Disneyland, and one of my earliest memories of the Disney characters was when the Big Bad Wolf was in a parade and came over to me and I cried! It’s kind of funny now. Since my last name is Wolf, I think we’re kind of family.

I’ve had many wonderful memories of the Disney characters since that old wolf scared the heck out of me, and into my adulthood I have never stopped getting that special feeling about the characters. I’ve witnessed grown adults crying tears of joy when meeting them, and I have heard extraordinary stories firsthand of how the Disney characters have touched people’s lives.

It remains exciting for me to see the characters in different situations. When I was working on a project for Disney back in the ’90s, I obtained a list of what’s called “overdressings” for Mickey. It’s Mickey’s special wardrobe besides his usual outfit. There was Mickey’s space outfit, Mickey’s patriotic outfit, a cowboy outfit, raincoat and hat, and hundreds of others. I feel these outfits bring new dimension, versatility and freshness to the characters.

Seeing the Disney characters in the “real world,” is also a special experience. The first time I saw Mickey Mouse outside of Disneyland was in 1988 when I was working at the Disney Studios, and Mickey visited the lot for his 60th birthday celebration. It’s a different feeling when he steps out of his world and into yours, making everything that much more believable. They had a photo location for employees to get a Polaroid photo with the birthday boy. There was a long line, and it was all adults waiting to snap a special moment!  There was certainly no doubt that  Mickey and his friends were not just for kids.

One place that you can meet the Disney characters away from the resorts is on a Disney Cruise! Yes, those characters get around! It’s great to travel to an island in the Bahamas, but even more memorable to disembark and see Captain Hook and Mr. Smee, from “Peter Pan”, with the beautiful tropical backdrop! (You can see my photo of the duo on Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay here). Above is a photo I took of Minnie Mouse on Castaway Cay, with the Disney Dream cruise ship behind her.

There are two stories in particular that come to mind whenever I think of the impact of the Disney characters.

The 1977 Disneyland Ambassador to the World, Susan Donald Edwards  told me her memories of when she visited a children’s hospital with Mickey. A child who had been stricken with cancer talked to Mickey and the nurses seemed stunned. They were literally in tears. It wasn’t until after the meeting that Susan learned the child had not spoken for two weeks.

A similar story to Susan, the 1974 Disneyland Ambassador to the World, Carol DeKeyser Masters told me of when she visited a children’s hospital with Mickey Mouse. A little boy who had suffered a brain injury from a car accident had not spoken for over two years, and the specialists were trying to determine if he was what they call elective mute or if the brain was just not able to form words. When Carol and Mickey entered the room, the boy said, “Mickey Mouse,” and doctors and nurses fell to their knees crying. Carol did not learn of the situation until after the situation, and then was moved to tears herself.

I believe that these stories really emphasize that the Disney characters are not just special, but that there really is something magical about them.

Interview: Orlando Ferrante (Coordinating Disney parks and classic attractions)

Disney Legend and Imagineer, Orlando Ferrante
Disney Legend and Imagineer, Orlando Ferrante

I just posted my interview with Disney Legend and Imagineer, Orlando Ferrante, who talks about his time coordinating everything from attractions to complete Disney parks, as well as Disney’s participation in the 1964/1965 New York World’s Fair, and the Disney Cruise Line. CLICK HERE for the interview

New Year’s Day 1993 – Disney at the Tournament of Roses

Disney's float for the pre-show of the 1993 Tournament of Roses parade
Disney’s float for the pre-show of the 1993 Tournament of Roses parade

Thought I’d post these photos I took for Disney 24 years ago at the Tournament of Roses in Pasadena. In addition to this float for the pre-show, Disneyland was also represented in the main parade as well. Standing in the red coat behind Mickey and Minnie below is Kathleen Mitts the 1993 Disneyland Ambassador to the World.
From Shani & I, have a wonderful 2017!!!

Chip, Gadget, Dale and other Disney character on board a unit in the pre-show of the 1993 Tournament of Roses parade
Chip, Gadget, Dale and other Disney characters on board a unit in the pre-show of the 1993 Tournament of Roses parade

Very Merry Christmas parade at Disneyland – 1992

Snowmen in the Very Merry Christmas parade at Disneyland, 1992
Snowmen in the Very Merry Christmas parade at Disneyland, 1992

Here are a couple photos I took almost a quarter century ago in 1992. The elaborate Very Merry Christmas Parade at Disneyland began with an overture of Disney tunes over the speakers, followed by the live trumpeters. The first half of the parade featured scenes from classic Disney movies, including Snow White, Fantasia, Mary Poppins and others. The second half of the parade featured many of the elements in the current A Christmas Fantasy parade, including the snowmen, skating snowflakes, and of course Santa Claus and his reindeer for the finale.

Mickey & Minnie ice skate in the Very Merry Christmas parade at Disneyland, 1992
Mickey & Minnie ice skate in the Very Merry Christmas parade at Disneyland, 1992

Interview: Kathleen Mitts (1993 Disneyland Ambassador to the World)

1993 Disneyland Ambassador to the World Kathleen Mitts
1993 Disneyland Ambassador to the World Kathleen Mitts

I just posted my interview with Kathleen Mitts, the 1993 Disneyland Ambassador to the World. In this conversation, Kathleen talks about her exciting year representing Disneyland in this unique role, and how she ended up as part of the Space Mountain attraction. CLICK HERE for the interview and lots of photos.

Disney Afternoon at Disneyland

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What is now the entrance to Mickey's Toontown in Disneyland, as it appeared in 1991, the entrance to the Meet Baloo attraction

What is now the entrance to Mickey’s Toontown in Disneyland, as it appeared in 1991, the entrance to the Meet Baloo attraction

When I became an assistant producer on Disney’s TaleSpin animated television series, I never thought it would end up being a big part of an exciting year at Disneyland in 1991! TaleSpin was part of the very first two-hour Disney animated block on television entitled “The Disney Afternoon” in 1990.

In 1991, the Disney Afternoon Live promotion at Disneyland includes special shows and parades and attractions. I always loved Disneyland, so to have an abundance of TV Animation represented was particularly exciting for me, especially having worked on TaleSpin since the start.

I hope you enjoy some of my happy memories, and feel free to click on any photo to view it larger.

Construction on the Meet Baloo attraction at Disneyland in 1991
Construction on the Meet Baloo attraction at Disneyland in 1991
Inside the Meet Baloo attraction. This successful experiment led the way to the current Meet Mickey attraction
Inside the Meet Baloo attraction. This successful experiment led the way to the current Meet Mickey attraction
The complimentary Disneyland souvenir guide featured Mickey and Minnie with Disney Afternoon friends
The complimentary Disneyland souvenir guide featured Mickey and Minnie with Disney Afternoon friends
The Disneyland Cast Member newsletter featuring The Disney Afternoon at Disneyland
The Disneyland Cast Member newsletter featuring The Disney Afternoon at Disneyland
The Disneyland Motor Boat Cruise attraction was transformed into Motor Boat Cruise to Gummi Glen during the Disney Afternoon Live in 1991
The Disneyland Motor Boat Cruise attraction was transformed into Motor Boat Cruise to Gummi Glen during the Disney Afternoon Live in 1991
The Plane Crazy show at Videopolis in Disneyland, 1991
The Plane Crazy show at Videopolis in Disneyland, 1991
The "Friends for Life" number from the Plane Crazy show at Videopolis. Baloo is missing his TaleSpin hat during this rehearsal performance
The “Friends for Life” number from the Plane Crazy show at Videopolis. Baloo is missing his TaleSpin outfit during this rehearsal performance
A party at Louie's in the Plane Crazy show at Disneyland
A party at Louie’s in the Plane Crazy show at Disneyland
Two Gummi Bears pose in the Afternoon Avenue in Disneyland
Two Gummi Bears pose in the Afternoon Avenue in Disneyland
Gadget poses in Afternoon Avenue in Disneyland
Gadget poses in Afternoon Avenue in Disneyland
Fat Cat poses at the Duckburg Train Depot stop of the Disneyland Railroad
Fat Cat poses at the Duckburg Train Depot stop of the Disneyland Railroad
Mixing up shows, characters from TaleSpin pose in front of the DuckTales school in Disneyland
Mixing up shows, characters from TaleSpin pose in front of the DuckTales school in Disneyland

Interview: Alyja Kalinich (Costume designer for Disney theme parks)

Alyja holds dolls wearing her costumes she designed for a parade. These were sold in Tokyo Disneyland.
Alyja holds dolls wearing her costumes she designed for a parade. These were sold in Tokyo Disneyland.

I just posted my interview with Alyja Kalinich on my Mouse Clubhouse website. In this conversation, Alyja talks about her time designing costumes and overdressings for Disney’s many parades and shows at Disney theme parks here and abroad.  CLICK HERE for the interview and lots of photos.

Reunited with TaleSpin Legends

Disney Afternoon panel at Palm Springs Comic Con, with Katie Leigh from the Gummi Bears, Jymn Magon, creator of TaleSpin, moderator Jason Schlierman and Thom Wilcox, voice of Lexington in Gargoyles: The Heroes Awaken
Disney Afternoon panel at Palm Springs Comic Con, with Katie Leigh voice of Sunni Gummi from the Gummi Bears, Jymn Magon, creator of TaleSpin, moderator Jason Schlierman and Thom Wilcox, voice of Lexington in Gargoyles: The Heroes Awaken

What fun it was to sit on the Disney Afternoon panel at Palm Springs Comic Con and share some of my own stories working in Disney Television Animation. It was also fun learning some stories about the show I was originally hired for, Magic Kingdom, a series that never came to realization. It would have starred Mickey, Donald and Goofy living in a cross between Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.

Here I am with Jymn Magon, the creator of TaleSpin and Len Smith, TaleSpin character designer
Here I am with Jymn Magon, the creator of TaleSpin and Len Smith, TaleSpin character designer

I don’t feel old enough to say that I haven’t seen these guys in 27 years but it’s true! I was the Assistant Producer on the show but these guys are true TaleSpin legends. Jymn Magon was one of the creators of the series, and Len Smith designed the original characters for the show.

Working at Disney Television Animation really changed my life and it was a great treat to reunite with these talents.