Category Archives: Disney Fun Fact

Disneyland 1975 (Prince John at America the Beautiful)

Tomorrowland in Disneyland 1975, Prince John in front of America the Beautiful
Tomorrowland in Disneyland, 1975, Prince John in front of America the Beautiful

I just discovered this photo of me in Disneyland from 1975. I haven’t seen it in more than 40 years!  That’s Prince John from “Robin Hood” that I’m giving a big hug to – he looks remarkably the same today! Also in that batch of photos I discovered are images from the groundbreaking Disneyland parade America on Parade, as the park was already celebrating America’s bicentennial.

My sister and I are at the entrance to Tomorrowland. Behind us, in what is now the entrance to Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters, is the CircleVision theater, presenting the 1967 America the Beautiful movie “in the round,” which just happened to lend itself perfectly to the bicentennial celebration.

As you can see, the movie was sponsored by AT&T at that time. Within the movie that was a tour of the United States, one segment visited  Hawaii, and was shot from the AT&T ship, Long Lines, which, as it was explained in the movie, was a ship to help expand and improve the worldwide telephone network by laying underseas cable across the Pacific, the Atlantic, and in the Caribbean. At the conclusion of the film, the AT&T commercial jingle, “Reach out and touch someone” would play as the audience exited.

I sure loved that film! For those that are not familiar with CircleVision, it was a 360 degree movie that completely encircled the audience as if you were really standing in whatever location was being shown. What amazing technology America the Beautiful was! This was before video, and this meant having to run nine film projectors simultaneously, and have them on a loop to be able to run continuous shows throughout the day. Disneyland’s original CircleVision movies required 11 cameras, but the updated America the Beautiful used wider film formats which meant less projectors were necessary. Did you know you can still see some more recent CircleVision movies today at Epcot?

Since 2009, the opening music from America the Beautiful can still be heard as part of the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln attraction at Disneland, and for me, it brings back such happy memories of the past, just as finding this old photograph did!

 

Star Tours debuted on this day in 1987

This is Captain Rex, from the cockpit, as he appeared in Star Tours in 1992
This is Captain Rex, from the cockpit, as he appeared in Star Tours in 1992

A long time ago… Star Tours took flight at Disneyland with a 60 hour party! It was on this day in 1987 that Guests were first able to hop aboard a Starspeeder 3000 for an exhilarating trip to Endor, even if that meant waiting in a line which stretched from Tomorrowland, down Main Street, and past the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln theater. The new attraction replaced Adventure Thru Inner Space, and rather than inner space, would now blast off Guests to outer space. Although the lines for the popular new thrill ride subsided throughout the sixty hours, Guests were also able to enjoy such things as the new Captain EO 3-D film, eat at the all new Big Thunder Barbecue, enjoy the new Golden Horseshoe Jamboree stage show, or get caught up in the upbeat Totally Minnie parade. Although the new updated Star Tours: The Adventures Continue debuted five years ago, here are some of my photos I took back when the original was just five years old.

 

This is what Star Tours looked like in 1992, notice CircleVision at the right, which would alternate 360 degree movies "American Journeys" and "Wonders of China"
This is what Star Tours looked like in 1992, notice CircleVision at the right, which would alternate 360 degree movies “American Journeys” and “Wonders of China” would alternate each day.
When Star Tours opened in 1987, Captain Rex piloted the Starspeeder until C-3PO took over the duties in 2011. Rex was voiced by Paul Rubens, better known as Pee-Wee Herman
When Star Tours opened in 1987, Captain Rex piloted the Starspeeder until C-3PO took over the duties in 2011. Rex was voiced by Paul Rubens, better known as Pee-Wee Herman

 

Robert B. Sherman’s birthday today

Shani Wolf, Scott Wolf and Bob Sherman
Shani Wolf, Scott Wolf and Bob Sherman

Robert B. Sherman was born on December 19, 1925. With his brother, Richard M. Sherman, he wrote some of the most well-known songs in the world. The songs for Disney’s “Mary Poppins,” “Winnie the Pooh,” and such theme park favorites as “The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room” and “It’s a Small World” are just a very small sampling of the great scope of their work.

Today, I remember Bob, on what would have been his 90th birthday.

I remember the first time I went to Bob’s house. I rang his doorbell, which played the first few notes of “It’s a Small World,” before Bob answered the door. I had some photographs for him that he had requested. We sat in a room and he was happy to answer my questions about his Disney days. He told me how he and his brother Richard wanted to donate their proceeds from “it’s a small world” to Unicef, but Walt told them no, Walt was making sure Unicef gets a good donation, but “it’s a small world” was going to put their kids through college!

Right from that first time, Bob felt like an old friend or favorite uncle, which made it easy to forget the awards next to us on the mantle, like his Grammy and Academy Awards.

We had a wonderful conversation and I was sure I was close to overstaying my welcome, but Bob offered me a cup of coffee. I didn’t drink any caffeine at that time, but I said, “Sure!” and knew that would buy me some more time. Somehow we got to talking about some of my favorite singers and I mentioned Michael Feinstein. Bob moved me into another room where he then played several then unreleased Sherman Brothers recordings by Michael, “The Ugly Bug Ball” from “Summer Magic,” a duet with another one of my favorites, Rosemary Clooney on “Ten Feet Off the Ground” from “The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band,” and “The Eyes of Love,” written for Mary Poppins, but which did not make it to the film. Boy, was I glad I had that cup of coffee!

Then there was the time that I introduced B0b to Shani and he so sweetly and sincerely said to her, “You’re name means beautiful… and you are.” I also remember him telling me that both he and I had something in common, that the first time we went out with our wives, we both talked about marriage. Shani and I agreed we were going to get married on our first date, and Bob asked Joyce to marry him on their first date. She said yes on their second date.

One time, I was having lunch with Bob and his son, Robbie, along with our mutual friend, Randy Thornton, a producer for Disney Records. We had lunch at the Garden Terrace restaurant on the Disney Studios lot. Randy was telling us his proposed playlist for the Sherman Brothers CD set he was working on at the time, and he mentioned the song “On the Front Porch” from the film “Summer Magic.” That’s when we learned that was Bob’s favorite song! Bob started singing it, and I just had to join in. Then all of us were singing “On the Front Porch” at our table in the Disney Studios. Later, when Randy produced another Sherman Brothers CD collection called “The Sherman Brothers Songbook,” he included that story in the liner notes as one of his favorite memories.

Robert Sherman and Scott Wolf
Robert Sherman and Scott Wolf

In recent times, I’ve heard people who never met Bob describe him as “dark” or “grumpy.” Perhaps it’s because although Bob cherished his Disney days, he didn’t care for the spotlight, unlike his brother, Richard, who is a natural onstage entertainer. I believe that Bob’s lack of desire for public attention translated into the public thinking that he was distant to people, but I never felt that way. He was proud of his work, but very humble and he was always happy to talk about his Disney days with me.

As time marches on, people, particularly those in the public eye, are sometimes remembered in ways that were not reality, but the Bob I was fortunate enough to be friends with was kind, funny, warm and generous, and that’s the way he should be remembered.

The day Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman received Disney Legends Awards
The day Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman received Disney Legends Awards
Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman sing some of their songs
It was always a treat to hear Richard and Bob sing their songs

Star Tours Starspeeder arrives in Disneyland – 1986

Star Tours Starspeeder arrives in Disneyland (1986)
Star Tours Starspeeder arrives in Disneyland (1986)

29 years ago this month, workers were busy at light speed, making final preparations for the opening of Star Tours in Disneyland. In this image, a Starspeeder vehicle arrives and is being lowered into the attraction.  The ride featured Captain Rex in the cockpit, voiced by Paul Reubens (aka Pee-wee Herman) who brought you on a futuristic wild ride to the moon of Endor. While remaining a favorite in Disneyland and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World today, you can still board a Starspeeder, but now it is piloted by none other than C-3PO and you’ll voyage to new destinations such as Tatooine, Naboo or Hoth, and come face to face with the likes of Yoda, Princess Leia or even Darth Vader. In fact, there are over 50 combinations of stories you may experience!