About Matthew Walker

A lifelong Disney fan, Matt realized his dream of becoming "part of the magic" by working as a cast member at the Disney Store for 7 years, where he also met his wife, Kathy. He is a two-time Disney Store National Trivia Showdown finalist and has shared his knowledge and photographs on the subject in a number of print publications and websites, including StartedByAMouse.com, which he runs. Matt currently serves as the writing director at a technology-focused public relations firm. In his free time, Matt enjoys photography, walking and frequent trips to Disneyland. He lives in Burbank, California with his wife and daughter, Chelsea.

Theme Park Music

In Episode 19, I mentioned that Disney theme park music was starting to show up for download on the various online music stores.  Today, the two latest were released – SpectroMagic and Disney’s Electrical Parade.

Below, I’ve compiled some of the titles that are currently available for download with links to iTunes or Amazon, where available:

SpectroMagicSpectroMagic – EP: iTunes | Amazon

ElectricalParadeDisney’s Electrical Parade: iTunes | Amazon

CircleSessionsThe Circle Sessions (The Music of Carthay Circle): iTunes | Amazon

CircleSessionsPianoThe Circle Sessions (Piano Performances from “Carthay Circle”): iTunes | Amazon

DisneysCaliforniaAdventureDisney’s California Adventure: iTunes | Amazon

AladdinMusicalDisney’s Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular: iTunes | Amazon

WaltDisneyTakesYoutoDisneylandWalt Disney Takes You to Disneyland: iTunes

EchoesofDisneylandEchoes of Disneyland: iTunes

DateNiteAtDisneylandDate Night at Disneyland With The Elliott Brothers Band: iTunes

FirehouseFiveFirehouse Five Plus Two At Disneyland: iTunes | Amazon

SlueFootSueSlue-Foot Sue’s Golden Horseshoe Review: iTunes | Amazon

PiratesoftheCaribbeanPirates of the Caribbean: iTunes | Amazon

HauntedMansionThe Haunted Mansion: iTunes | Amazon

CountryBearJamboreeCountry Bear Jamboree (Original Soundtrack): iTunes

WaltDisneyWorldBandWalt Disney World Band: iTunes

FindingNemoFinding Nemo: The Musical: iTunes | Amazon

WishesWalt Disney World Wishes – A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams: iTunes | Amazon

CandlelightCandlelight Processional: iTunes | Amazon

WinterWonderlandWinter Wonderland (From “Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights”): iTunes | Amazon

And Steve mentioned listening to music from these two albums while aboard the Disney Cruise Line –

Heigh-HoMozartHeigh-Ho Mozart: iTunes | Amazon

BibbidiBobbidiBachBibbidi Bobbidi Bach: iTunes | Amazon

There are also albums, soundtracks and songs available to purchase on CD or as individual tracks on other records. Look around and see what you can find.  You never know when — or where — your favorite park music may appear.

– Matt

Run (or Walk) Disney

I gave a follow up in Episode 17 to my preparations for the Disneyland Half Marathon that I’ll be participating in September 1.  In addition to talking about how I’ll be walking the 13.1 miles rather than running because of some issues in my knee and foot, I mentioned the bling … the medals that are awarded to those who finish the race in the allotted time.

Below are the medals offered for this year’s run/walk:

medals-largeThe one on the far left is the one those participating in the “Dumbo Double Dare” will receive.  To earn this medal, participants need to complete both the Disneyland Half Marathon and the Disneyland 10k.  That’s 19.3 miles over two days.

The one next to it is the one that I’m hoping to get.  I like the traditional Disneyland-style D with Sleeping Beauty Castle.  Very cool.

The third from the left is for the aforementioned Disneyland 10k that is happening August 31.  I had considered doing this too when I was registering but thought that maybe for my first time out it would be better to concentrate on the one event.  If you do the Dumbo Double Dare, you get that medal plus the Half Marathon and 10k medals.  Triple the bling!

The one on the far right is for Disneyland Family Fun Run 5k, which you can probably tell, is themed to Alice in Wonderland.

A few years ago, a friend and co-worker of my wife participated in the Half Marathon and I got to check out her medal.  I was impressed with how nice it was and I decided that someday I’d get one for myself.  Now, 6 years later, I’m getting ready for my race.

HappiestRace

For more information about any of the many runDisney races taking place at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts, check out rundisney.com

~Matt.

The Age of Not Believing

I mentioned on our last podcast that I had ordered a Letter from Cinderella for Chelsea’s birthday.  Below is what was delivered:

LetterFromCindyThe actual letter itself comes on nice paper.  Not quite linen-quality but not quite printer paper either.  The customizable fields included name, occasion (Birthday Greeting, Holiday Wishes, Congratulations, Encouragement) and, in this instance, age and how we were celebrating.

LetterFromCindyEnvelopeIt came in an equally nice envelope with the recipient’s name printed in a nice font.

LetterFromCindyPictureAnd an “autographed” picture of Cinderella on glossy card stock.

The package came about a week before Chelsea’s birthday, sent to an adult (me) from “The Royal Palace.”  Sadly, with all the hoopla of the day, I actually forgot to give it to her on her birthday.  Kathy remembered it as Chelsea was going to bed the day of her party a few days afterward, so it still worked.

Chelsea read the letter and got a big smile on her face.  She enjoyed it and it was worth getting for her.  But her immediate response afterward was “Did you guys order this for me?”

I tried playing it off that it was a letter from Cinderella but she then questioned why the envelope didn’t have postage.  I said that perhaps it was delivered to our mailbox by the lackey.

The next day, I confessed that we had indeed ordered it, which she already knew.  I asked why she knew that it didn’t come from Cinderella herself and Chelsea explained that she knows Cinderella is a fictional character and that people dress up like her at the Disney parks.  The cartoon portrait that was sent along was another indication that it didn’t come from an actual person.

Chelsea just turned 7 but she’s already entering the age of not believing.  Kids at school talk and she was recently questioning my role in the items of her Easter basket, explaining that her best friend said her dad put stuff in her basket.  I asked Chelsea what she believed and she said that the stuff in her basket must have come from the Easter Bunny but I can tell that she’s questioning his existence.

I’ve tried very hard not to lie to Chelsea about any magical experiences she may encounter.  I’ve left it up to her as to what she thinks may happen when she leaves cookies out for Santa and only crumbs remain when she wakes up and there are presents under the tree and candy in her stocking.  I’ve certainly not discouraged her from believing in fairies or myths or Disney magic.  But it’s becoming harder to balance that with assuring her there are no such things as monsters under the bed or boogie men or shadows coming to get her at night.

I’m glad that I got Chelsea the letter from Cinderella even if she didn’t believe it was really sent from her.  I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to enjoy the childhood innocence that comes with Chelsea believing in Santa or the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny.  I know very soon, when I ask her what she believes, she’ll tell me that she doesn’t think they’re real after all.

If you are interested in sending a personalized letter and keepsake from Cinderella to a believer or non-believer, young or old, the website to order it from is lettersfromcinderella.com.  Each letter cost $9.99.  There is an introductory offer of $2 off if you use the promo code RUFUS at checkout, though I don’t know how long that will be available.

Disneyland’s Fantasy Faire

While I don’t have any pictures of Disney bathrooms to share, I do have some images of the new Fantasy Faire at Disneyland.

Fantasy Faire is described as  “a fascinating new storybook world within Fantasyland in Disneyland Park where you can meet some of your favorite Disney Princesses and become part of their timeless tales come to life.  In Fantasy Faire, ‘once upon a time’ begins the moment you arrive — and ‘happily ever after’ happens every day.”

The area is located just outside the castle walls to Fantasyland in Central Plaza where the Carnation Gardens used to be.  For such a small footprint, they packed a lot in.  There’s the Royal Hall, where “beloved Disney Princesses eagerly await your arrival,” and the Royal Theatre, where guests can watch some of their “favorite Disney Princesses retell their stories with the help of a pair of Renaissance Storytellers.”  There’s also a small store filled with the latest Disney Princess outfits and a snack cart — Maurice’s Treats — that offers sweet and savory twists and a Boysen Apple Freeze.

FantasyFaireConceptArtConcept art of Fantasy Faire, which is located to the west of the Hub.  The Royal Theatre pictured is the old Carnation bandstand where they held swing dancing on the weekends and performance of Magic Music Day bands during the week.

FantasyFaireModelAt the Blue Sky Cellar at Disney California Adventure, they had a scale model of the area on display showing what the Fantasy Faire area would look like upon completion.

FantasyFaire01The architecture remains consistent with the buildings found inside the castle walls.  I’ve always like the “New” Fantasyland decor and this fits well.  Though it does seem a little odd that Fantasy Faire isn’t in Fantasyland proper and is a little out of place thematically with its proximity to turn-of-the-20th-Century Main Street.

FantasyFaire02Steve mentioned the Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland having a Rapunzel tower as well as Disneyland’s Fantasy Faire.  I don’t know how impressive the structure is at Walt Disney World but here in California, it is more of an oversized garden statue in the middle of the plaza.  Attractive but certainly not grand in scale.

FantasyFaire03The entrance to the Princess meet-and-greet.  We didn’t go in to visit Cinderella or Ariel, who were appearing this day, so I can’t comment on the experience itself.  But Disneyland has done a nice job with similar character greeting spots such as Pixie Hollow.  Moving this here frees up the former character greeting area at the Fantasyland Theater for actual performances, including the upcoming “Mickey and the Magic Lamp” show debuting this summer.

FantasyFaire04This is a picture of some of the details from Clopin’s Music Box, an interactive feature of the new Fantasy Faire.  You can basically crank a wheel and have different characters appear as the tinkly music from The Hunchback of Notre Dame is played.

FantasyFaire05Another look at the architecture of the area.  Did I mention that they really crammed a lot into such a little space?  Because they did.  You can see here on the balcony the figurines of Figaro from Pinocchio sleeping next to a bird in a cage.

FantasyFaire06The bird tweets and sings and every few minutes Figaro “wakes up” to look at the bird before going back to his cat nap.  It’s a cute element.  Nothing earth-shattering and something that many people might miss if they don’t know to look for it.

I have to say that I’m not a big fan of character meet-and-greet areas in general.  I’d love to just see characters roaming the park instead.  But I understand the appeal of having an area where younger guests can go and meet their favorite Disney friends in a controlled setting where no one, hopefully, gets trampled and crowds can be better controlled.  So that said, what they’ve done with a fairly underused space in creating the Fantasy Faire is nicely done.  While it’s location outside of Fantasyland proper may not be ideal, it looks nice, frees up the Fantasyland Theater for actual productions again and offers guests the opportunity to partake in some fun diversions.

Though after hearing Steve describe the ones at the Magic Kingdom, I do wonder how the bathrooms here rate? ;)

Matt’s Top Disney Photography

In Episode 13, we talked a bit about our enjoyment of taking photographs at the Disney theme parks.  We mentioned that we’d be sharing some of our favorite shots here on the blog because, well, if pictures are a thousand words, we would have been talking for quite a bit more time than our podcast would allow to describe them all.  Besides, photos are meant to be a feast for the eyes, not the ears.

It wasn’t easy narrowing down the images I wanted to share.  I was planning on only doing my favorite 5 but I’ve expanded that to my Top 10.  I’ll describe a bit why I chose each particular image and perhaps give a bit of detail.  Feel free to click each one for a larger size than what is displayed here …

BTB1301This was the photo I talked about on the podcast as being both my best and my favorite.  It is also considered my most “interesting” by way of Flickr’s algorithms.  I was interested in getting a nice nighttime image of one of the most photographic vistas at Disney’s California Adventure so I brought my tripod and my Nikon Coolpix 5700 camera and played with the manual settings a bit to produce this.  I did very little post-processing — this image is very near SOOC (Straight Out Of the Camera) as any image I’ve taken.  I love the brilliant colors of Paradise Pier contrasting with the black night sky and reflected in Paradise Bay.  I was really pleased with how this came out and it gave me confidence to pursue more photography with a higher grade of camera.

BTB1302One of the nice parts about using a digital SLR is not only better manual controls but the ability to switch to “faster” lenses.  I always wanted to take on-ride photographs but I’m a firm believer in not using flash on dark rides (they don’t really come out well anyway).  This one wound up being one of my favorites … I call it my “money shot.”  It’s a challenge to shoot in low light on a moving boat with no flash but it is possible to “freeze” the motion by using a high ISO and a low aperture setting with a “nifty 50″ lens, which lets in more light with a faster shutter speed than other lenses I own.

BTB1303I’ve included this shot of Mike Wazowski from the Monsters Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue attraction at Disney California Adventure because it came out really well.  I consider this shot to be my “better to be lucky than good” shot.  Mounted another fast lens (I think it was a 1.8/35mm lens), set the manual settings to what I thought should produce good shots in a dark-ride environment and went to town.  I got several nice images from my first few rides through Monstropolis but this one was hands down the best of the bunch.  I don’t think I could duplicate it if I tried.

BTB1304This is a photograph from the Playhouse Disney attraction, also at Disney California Adventure.  Again, I got lucky that I was able to squeeze the shutter button at just the right time to get all of the tools eyes looking and everyone fairly well in focus during another low-light situation.  The difference here from the shot before is that I had visited the show so many times with my daughter that I had plenty of experimentation with my camera setting to know that I had a good chance of capturing the image that I wanted.  Still, half a second too early or too late and this wouldn’t have been nearly as nice of a picture.

BTB1305I like taking photos during the various shows at the Disney theme parks.  While this isn’t the best example of what I’ve captured, I really like how it turned out.  I tend to not do a lot of post-processing of my images beyond some simple color correction and sharpening but for this image, I had to do a bit more.  It is actually a composite of two shots I took during the show.  I like the red glow and smoke of the Cave of Wonders in one picture and the positioning of Aladdin in another, so I Photoshopped them together to make the best single picture possible.  Having used a tripod might have made this process easier but I was able to line up the two handheld shots well enough to effective blend them together.

BTB1306I really like taking pictures at Disneyland with nobody in them and I *almost* succeeded with this shot.  It helps to get to the parks early or stay until closing to get traditionally crowded vistas with as few of people as possible.  This picture was achieved by getting to Disneyland during Early Entry and waiting for the crowds to run past the castle into Fantasyland to get on their favorite attractions.  I could have done a similar Photoshop process with two photos to remove the few people past the castle walkway but decided this worked well as it is.  Going in the early morning also provides some great lighting that you don’t always get later in the day when the sun is overhead.  I like the shadows and the clouds in the shot.

BTB1307As a frequent visitor to the Disneyland Resort, I wanted to add a favorite photo from Walt Disney World.  This shot is another early morning shot before the Magic Kingdom opened.  The train was posed in this location for those taking The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains tour, making it something that the average guest wouldn’t just happen upon and a more picture-perfect postcard shot than could normally be found.  I tweaked this photo slightly in Photoshop as well.  The flag was flying at half-mast that day so I moved it to the top and a section of the decorative railing was missing from the top of the station so I recreated it with a section that was intact.

BTB1308We mentioned on the podcast about the possibility of getting good shots even if the weather isn’t perfect.  As much as I like taking pictures on clear, sunny days, this shot of Space Mountain at Disneyland with the rain clouds in the background came out pretty cool.  Sometimes you have to take what is available to you, other times, what is available to you makes the shot.

BTB1309This is not a perfect shot but I like it anyway.  At some point, I’ll try to recreate it to get the tail section of the rocket from the Golden Zephyr at Disney California Adventure in the frame.  While I wanted to stop the blur on my on-ride shots for Pirates and Monsters Inc. above, this one I wanted to show the motion of the ride.  I had to keep the shutter open just long enough to capture the motion blur but short enough to keep the rocket (somewhat) in focus.

BTB1310As I mentioned, taking pictures of Chelsea is something that is important during each visit to a Disney Resort.  I have lots of pictures of Chelsea posing in front of attractions and with characters but my favorites are the more candid captures I’m sometimes able to get.  This one is of Chelsea dressed as Snow White for Halloween at Mickey’s Trick or Treat Party.  We waited to meet the “real” Snow White at a photo location but before any formal pictures were snapped, Miss White conversed with her shy doppelganger beforehand.  It was a much more interesting shot than the posed picture we got afterward.

So these are today’s list of my top photos, though maybe I’ll feel different about them tomorrow.  Either because I’ve taken a new favorite or I see something more critically about one of the ones I previously liked.  That’s the fun part about “Making Memories,” as the old Sherman Brothers song goes.  If you want to see more photos, both at Disney and others, visit my photostream at Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sbam/

Matt

Telling Their Stories

During our last episode, Steve mentioned reading the memoirs of Ron Schneider in his book From Dreamer to Dreamfinder and we talked about how we might see something similar with the retirement of Disney Imagineer Tony Baxter someday.  Steve mentioned that with several less-expensive publishing options available today, there are many avenues in which Disney-related personas might tell their stories.

While there are many great biographies about Walt Disney himself and many of those who worked for him and with him, there’s something different about a person’s story being told from a third-person point of view vs. being told from the person themselves.  Below is a list, though not all-inclusive, of autobiographies (or semi-autobiographies) I’m aware of from Disney personalities across the spectrum.  Some tell their life story; some focus more about their involvement with Disney; and others tell more anecdotal stories of the company that they saw first hand.

  • Window on Main Street: 35 Years of Creating Happiness at Disneyland Park by Van Arsdale France — This was one of those cool finds I made at a bookstore in Disneyland when information beyond the tightly controlled story of Disneyland’s history was first introduced to me.  It is not a salacious tale by any means but a great look at how Disneyland came about with backstage stories by a man who lived them.
  • A Brush with Disney : An Artist’s Journey, Told through the words and works of Herbert Dickens Ryman (Edited by David Mumford and Bruce Gordon) – A really nice illustrated book featuring the works of Herb Ryman, who helped create the map of Disneyland that Walt used to sell his vision of the park to the bankers.  This was initially sold at The Disney Gallery as part of a benefit for the Ryman Arts Foundation.  One of the early books put together and released by Disney Imagineers David Mumford and Bruce Gordon, their Disneyland: The Nickel Tour among the best known.
  • Walt’s Time – From Before to Beyond by Robert B. Sherman & Richard M. Sherman (Edited by Bruce Gordon, David Mumford and Jeff Kurtti) – Another of the Camphor Tree Publishers books by Gordon and Mumford that highlight the musical careers of Walt’s favorite studio composers, the Sherman Brothers.
  • Walt Disney and Assorted Other Characters: An Unauthorized Account of the Early Years at Disney’s by Jack Kinney – This is one of those “what I saw” type of autobiography … a really funny and lighthearted look at the early Disney animation studios.  Not nearly as salacious as the “unauthorized” title might lead you to believe.
  • In Service to the Mouse: My Unexpected Journey to Becoming Disneyland’s First President by Jack Lindquist — One of several memoirs I have yet to read from another person with a window on Main Street.  Sounds like a great story … who wouldn’t want to be president of Disneyland?
  • Spinning Disney’s World: Memories of a Magic Kingdom Press Agent by Charles Ridgway — I’ve looked at this book on sale at Disneyland many times but haven’t purchased it yet.  As someone who works in P.R., this would probably be a job that I’d do at Disneyland (assuming I wasn’t president like Jack Lindquist, of course!)
  • It’s Kind of a Cute Story by Rolly Crump as told to Jeff Heimbuch — I have to admit that I didn’t know much about Rolly Crump before I attended an aforementioned Ryman Arts Foundation event at Disneyland but his presentation to attendees was extremely funny.  This is a fairly newly released book so I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet.  You can check out a transcript of his speech at the Ryman event at StartedByAMouse.com — http://www.startedbyamouse.com/archives/RollySpeech01.shtml
  • Dream It! Do It!: My Half-Century Creating Disney’s Magic Kingdoms by Marty Sklar — Perhaps better than being president of Disneyland would be head of Walt Disney Imagineering.  This book isn’t scheduled to be released until August 13, 2013 but I’m looking forward to reading about the days Sklar spent writing copy for Disneyland at the park’s opening until his retirement from WDI.
  • Work in Progress by Michael Eisner with Tony Schwartz — Perhaps better than being president of Disneyland or head of Walt Disney Imagineering would be head of the entire Walt Disney Company like Michael Eisner was.  It is unfortunately another book I haven’t had a chance to read yet but I wonder how it reads several years after being penned and after having been ousted from his position within the company?
  • A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes, My Story by Annette Funicello with Patricia Romanowski — The world’s most-famous Mouseketeer shares her stories of time with Mr. Disney and beyond.
  • Wally Boag: Clown Prince of Disneyland by Wally Boag and Gene Sands — One of the specialty titles put out by independent publishers about Disneyland performer Wally Boag.  This is a great way for people who might not have massive audience recognition to share their stories and history with a more specialized, niche market.

There are a few other books that I can think of off the top of my head that are self-referential while covering other aspects of Disney, such as Designing Disney by John Hench, which talks more about his work than his life.

I wonder if there’s any market that would be favorable to the life story of a former Disney Store cast member?  Anyone interested in learning about the Disney Fold?  I’ll get right to work!  ;)

Matt

Disney Cruise Line

Both Steve and I talked about our various trips aboard the Disney Cruise Line.  Two years ago, the Disney Wonder took me and my family from Vancouver, Canada up to Alaska.  It truly was a terrific trip.  Now, we are looking to book a future trip on the Disney Cruise Line to the Caribbean.

Below are just a few photos from our adventure.  As always, click each image to see it full size.  And check back from time to time … there’s a good chance that I might add some pictures to further showcase all there is to do on a Disney Cruise.

WonderVancouverThe Disney Wonder as it pulls into Vancouver from a trip to Alaska.  The itinerary will change from sailing season to sailing season but ours included a voyage into the Tracy Arm fjord, with stops in Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway, Alaska.

WonderAboveThe Disney Wonder as seen from the top of the Mt. Roberts tramway in Juneau, Alaska.  Though the ship is fairly massive, it looks tiny from so far above.  The two newest ships, the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream, are much larger than the Wonder and sister ship Disney Magic.

CircleofLifeI mentioned in the same episode about seeing a number of Disney productions and there are actually several Broadway-caliber performances offered during each cruise.  This is a scene from the “Circle of Life” scene of Disney Dreams – An Enchanted Classic.

AlaskanMinnieAnd finally — for now — there are lots of chances to visit with Disney characters throughout the cruise.  This image is of Minnie Mouse in her specially designed outfit for touring the Alaskan wilderness.  We spent a great deal of our cruise seeing the various characters — the Fab 5, Princesses, Captain Jack Sparrow — and collecting their autographs.  Chelsea filled a number of photo albums with the number of visits we were able to do.

The 8 days we spent cruising went by probably faster than any week I’ve ever experienced.  There is so much to do aboard the ship and for excursions at each port of call, the toughest part is making sure to find time to sit and relax for a bit.  If you haven’t yet experienced the pleasure of a trip on the Disney Cruise Line, I highly recommend it!

– Matt

10 Years of “Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular”

A post of Facebook, highlighting a story on the Disney Parks Blog, alerted me that one of the Broadway musicals I mentioned in our latest podcast celebrated its 10th anniversary yesterday.  “Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular” opened in the Hyperion Theater at Disney California Adventure January 16, 2003.  The show has been seen by more than 12 million park guests during that time.

Some of the more interesting things about this particular show is that an original song was written and included in the performance that wasn’t in the movie.  “To Be Free” is sung by Princess Jasmine that describes her life like one of a bird living in a gilded cage.  It is a real showcase for the actress playing the part and always draws a loud ovation from the crowd upon its completion.

Secondly, the show continuously changes as the Genie is given fairly ample free reign to ad lib with various current events during his frequent joke sessions.  Jokes often skewer celebrities in the news or even timely Disney-related happenings.  The jokes are generally very funny, rather unexpected during a Disney production and can really keep each performance from feeling like something you’ve seen before even if you’ve seen the show multiple times.

Below are a few photos I snapped during a performance that you might like.  As always, click each one for a larger view …

AladdinJasmineAladdin and Jasmine take a spin on the Magic Carpet during the “A Whole New World” segment of the show.

GenieThe Genie is often the highlight of the performance.  Though his jokes are often zingers, they are also always appropriate for a theme park audience.  The actor playing the Genie usually gets the loudest applause during the curtain call.

JafarJafar is a bit more of straight-man villain in the production than the slightly comedic performance found at times during the film.  Of interest, as with much of the cast, the characters are often performed by a variety of actors of different races and abilities.  For instance, Jafar might be played by a black actor during one performance and a white actor during another.  Many performances feature a wheelchair-bound performer in the chorus.  It’s a nice way of featuring talented performers without strictly adhering to what otherwise might be traditional casting requirements.

“Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular” is a nice way to spend 45 minutes at a theme park.  It truly is a high-caliber Broadway-style show and one that everyone should try to catch at least once during a visit to the Disneyland Resort.

-Matt

Christmas Photos from Disneyland

Steve recently posted images of holiday decor around the Walt Disney World Resort and I thought that I would follow suit by adding some images of holiday happenings through the years at the Disneyland Resort.  All images are clickable for larger views.  Enjoy!

Sleeping Beauty Castle adorned with snow and other seasonal decor is a focal point for Disneyland's holidays.

Sleeping Beauty Castle adorned with snow and other seasonal decor is a focal point for Disneyland’s holidays.

At night, Sleeping Beauty Castle glimmers in thousands of sparkling light designed to look like icicles.

At night, Sleeping Beauty Castle glimmers in thousands of sparkling light designed to look like icicles.

A look from the Hub towards the entrance shows the Disneyland Christmas tree in Town Square and holiday garland strung between the shops of Main Street.

A look from the Hub towards the entrance shows the Disneyland Christmas tree in Town Square and holiday garland strung between the shops of Main Street.

it's a small world gets a holiday makeover every year including a Santa hat on the iconic clock face.

it’s a small world gets a holiday makeover every year including a Santa hat on the iconic clock face.

Another attraction that receives a holiday makeover is the Haunted Mansion.  Jack Skellington dressed as Sandy Claws welcomes guests.

Another attraction that receives a holiday makeover is the Haunted Mansion. Jack Skellington dressed as Sandy Claws welcomes guests.

Mickey's Toontown gets a healthy dose of holiday decor in both the residential and downtown areas.  Here a toon tree bends from the weight of an overly heavy tree topper.

Mickey’s Toontown gets a healthy dose of holiday decor in both the residential and downtown areas. Here a toon tree bends from the weight of an overly heavy tree topper.

The Christmas parade is an annual favorite.  This is a photo of one of the gingerbread men who parade from it's a small world to Town Square on Main Street.

The Christmas parade is an annual favorite. This is a photo of one of the gingerbread men who parade from it’s a small world to Town Square on Main Street.

Santa Claus heads up the anchor float of the Christmas Fantasy Parade, complete with plush Mickey and Minnie dolls in his sack of toys.

Santa Claus heads up the anchor float of the Christmas Fantasy Parade, complete with plush Mickey and Minnie dolls in his sack of toys.

Disney's California Adventure used to have a beach theme to its holiday decor.  Here they carted in tons of sand for local artists to make sculptures from.

Disney’s California Adventure used to have a beach theme to its holiday decor. Here they carted in tons of sand for local artists to make sculptures from.

The water tower in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot section of Disney's California Adventure sported an oversized Santa hat.

The water tower in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot section of Disney’s California Adventure sported an oversized Santa hat.

Tinker Bell served as a tree topper for the massive Christmas tree at Paradise Pier in Disney's California Adventure.

Tinker Bell served as a tree topper for the massive Christmas tree at Paradise Pier in Disney’s California Adventure.

This is the first year that Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure is able to be dressed for the holiday season.  The Carthay Circle Theater Restaurant looks festive with a wreath attached to its tower.

This is the first year that Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure is able to be dressed for the holiday season. The Carthay Circle Theater Restaurant looks festive with a wreath attached to its tower.

Cars Land, too, is celebrating its first holiday season.  They had to bring in telephone poles on one side of the street in order to string automotive-themed garland across the Route 66 thoroughfare.

Cars Land, too, is celebrating its first holiday season. They had to bring in telephone poles on one side of the street in order to string automotive-themed garland across the Route 66 thoroughfare.

The Welcome to Cars Land signage in front of the new land has been updated to reflect a holiday theme, including a snow car to welcome visitors.

The Welcome to Cars Land signage in front of the new land has been updated to reflect a holiday theme, including a snow car to welcome visitors.

 

Happy Birthday, Mickey Mouse

The first Mickey Mouse cartoon debuted on this date at the Colony Theater in New York City with a talking feature movie, Gang War, starring Olive Borden and Jack Pickford.  Eighty-four years later, it is the star of that short cartoon who we are all still talking about.  So it is my great pleasure to wish the Big Cheese a very happy birthday.

One of my favorite quotes from Walt Disney is when he said, “I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing … that it was all started by a mouse.”  To see how it all started, check out that first cartoon, Steamboat Willie, by clicking the link below:

Steamboat Willie on YouTube

In our latest podcast episode, I talked about an animated film by some Russian animators that was made as a tribute to Mickey’s enduring career in celebration of his 60th birthday in 1988.  The cartoon, by animators Mikhail Tumelya and Alexander Petrov, was called The Marathon and can be viewed at the link below:

The Marathon on YouTube

I also mentioned the special publication made to celebrate Mickey’s 60th birthday, Mickey is Sixty, the cover of which is pictured below:

And the extra copy I purchased in 1988, “protected” in a Disneyland shopping bag:

I wrote an opinion piece about Disney’s (lack of) celebration planning for Mickey’s 75th birthday, which features a decent recap about the celebratory things Disney did do for his 60th, which we touched upon in the podcast.  Click here to read all about it.

And, finally, I also wrote a very brief summary about Mickey’s origins, which is an appropriate read on the occasion  of his 84th birthday today.  It is available for reading here.

The success of Mickey Mouse really did prove to be the flash point for the success of the Walt Disney Company.  I’m excited that not only do we celebrate the historical significance of his debut but that he remains fairly relevant today, still going strong 84 years later.  Happy birthday, Mickey.  Thanks for so many years of happiness!

-Matt