Category Archives: Walt Disney World

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

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.

Interview: Ron Logan (His journey to head of Disney Live Entertainment)

Ron Logan at the Disney Legends ceremony
Ron Logan at the Disney Legends ceremony

I just posted my interview with Ron Logan on my Mouse Clubhouse website. In this conversation, Ron talks about his beginnings playing trumpet in the 1958 Christmas parade at Disneyland, and climbing the ladder to become the executive vice president, executive producer of Walt Disney Entertainment, responsible for all the live entertainment in the entire company.  CLICK HERE for the interview and more photos.

Interview: Gary Krueger (Disney photographer)

Classic Disneyland postcard photographed by Gary Krueger
Classic Disneyland postcard
photographed by Gary Krueger

I just posted my interview with Gary Krueger on my Mouse Clubhouse website. In this conversation, Gary talks about his times photographing Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disney movie premieres and much more – and you’ll see lots of postcards of Gary’s photography!  CLICK HERE for the interview and postcards

Be Our Guest Restaurant at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World

 


Ooh la la, be sure to visit the Be Our Guest restaurant in the Walt Disney World Resort for a delicious quick-service breakfast or lunch—or an unforgettable sit-down dinner.

Just step inside the Beast’s enchanted castle inside Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom for a lavish dining experience in the elegant ballroom, delicate Rose Gallery, or mysterious “West Wing.”  The magnificent space offers “great food fast” lunch service by day and full-service table dining at night. Both experiences — themed to the story of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” — feature French-inspired cuisine.

Reservations are strongly recommended, and I can help!. For your added convenience, Be Our Guest Restaurant now offers Order-Ahead Dining. Guests with breakfast or lunch reservations can pre-order their meals online—up to 30 days in advance! Please note that advance ordering is not available for Guests with dinner reservations.

Please contact me if you have any questions about this storybook experience!

Au Revoir!

The Be Our Guest restaurant in the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World
The Be Our Guest restaurant in the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World

 

 

 

Rare Pirates of the Caribbean concept art

Rare Pirates of the Caribbean concept art by Disney Legend Marc Davis
Rare Pirates of the Caribbean concept art by Disney Legend Marc Davis

Yo ho everybody! I thought you’d enjoy this rare concept art by Marc Davis for the Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland. Marc was my favorite artist and responsible for creating so many of the classic scenes you see in attractions such as Pirates, Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise and so much more. Marc started working for Disney as an animator and the first thing he animated was a scene in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” While he created characters such as Tinker Bell and Cruella De Ville, some of my favorite pieces were Marc’s characters that seemed to leap off the page – such as the various bears for the Country Bear Jamboree attraction. This Pirates artwork is a rough sketch for a scene that didn’t make it in the final attraction. I love it because it’s so rough, and different than a lot of Marc’s typically seen works, but still tells a story with humor. I’m grateful to Marc’s wife, Alice, another Disney Legend, for allowing me to scan it.