Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mickey Mouse's Library Card

Borrowing another page from my good buddy, Jeff at 2719 Hyperion, I ran across this great little detail in Runaway Brain. Jeff has covered some of the other great details for the animated short quite extensively.

In the following scene, the evil experiment has taken place and Mickey needs to convince his new nemesis who Mickey Mouse is. He has him look at Mickey's wallet. Of course, I paused it step-by-step to see what the cards were.

The third card in the fold-out section was a library card!

Guillard County Library
Mickey Mouse
2495 21095
I queried Jeff about the meaning behind the Guillard name--he was just as puzzled as I was.
Any thoughts?
Don't forget to stop by your local public library and register for a card. September is National Library Card Sign-up Month!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Geek-End Update, Saturday, August 30, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ask Dave!

If you get The Disney Insider e-mail, you will notice that each issue has an Ask Dave column. I have written about Dave Smith before. He holds one of my dream jobs.

The question in the August 26, 2008 issue has the following question:

I was wondering if you could recommend any books that tell the history of building the Disney Parks. What went in first? What were the surprising issues that came up? - Dana, 29, Kennesaw, GA

Dave's Answer
Probably the most useful books for Disneyland history are Randy Bright's "Disneyland: Inside Story" and David Mumford and Bruce Gordon's "Disneyland: The Nickel Tour." Jeff Kurtti wrote "Since the World Began" about Walt Disney World. There are also books on the architecture of the Disney Parks, such as Beth Dunlop's "Building a Dream."

The first three books mentioned are in my top 5.

You can read my reviews of Disneyland: Inside Story and Disneyland: The Nickel Tour.

Lou Mongello and I discuss five books that every Disney Geek should own on the WDW Radio Show. Since the World Began is one of books discussed.

Another title that will be of interest to fans of Walt Disney World is Realityland by David Koenig. It is one of the few books to cover the early years and construction of Walt Disney World.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


A few weeks ago, Vintage Disneyland Tickets posted a great scan of a 1975 flyer for Walt Disney World. As I was perusing it, I noticed the watercraft scene. I had no idea what the round boat was. It wasn't in any of my souvenir guides nor could I find it in any of the PR material that I have. I was stumped! Besides, how do you do a Google search for round boat at Walt Disney World and not go insane?

I e-mailed a few of my friends and one of them was able to provide the answer. She told me to visit the pages at Widen Your World and Walt Dated World for the bob-a-round boats.

Alison, at Walt Dated World, had this to say:
Rub a Dub Dub. Three (or four) people in a tub. These bizarre-looking striped boats had what looked like a lightening rod on top of them. (Florida is home to a lot of lightening, you know!). They were only around a short time after Walt Disney World opened. Apparently the boats were often the victim of dead batteries, which prevented them from Bob, Bob, Bobbing Along.
And Mike, at Widen Your World:

Another aspect of the resort [Polynesian] that has seen much change is the range of watercraft made available to guests over the years. Gone are the days when as many as eight people piled into a 40-foot Polynesian War Canoe and took off across the Seven Seas Lagoon toward real islands. And before those craft sailed into the sunset, the circular Bob-A-Round boats (each with an independent stereo system!) had already long since been retired.
Lou chimes in at Disney World Trivia:

These four passenger, round boats with striped canopied bobbed around the Seven Seas Lagoon for a very brief period of time after Walt Disney World opened in 1971. --

All of the sites quoted offer some amazing resources for older and extinct attractions at Walt Disney World. If you ever want to spend some time strollin' right down the middle of memory lane or need to check a fact, head on over!

Now, does anyone else have any more pictures, information or anecdotes about these long-gone watercraft?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Book Review: Welcome Aboard, The Disneyland Railroad!

Welcome Aboard the Disneyland Railroad! by Steve DeGaetano and illustrated by Preston Nirattisai. 320 pages, 2004.

The subtitle of this work, The Complete Disneyland Railroad Reference Guide, is fairly accurate--anything you want to know about the Disneyland Railroad, you will find here. After reading the work, I feel like I could run my own steam railroad! Steve DeGaetano is an avid Disneyland Railroad fan, collector of Disneyland Railroad memorabilia and model railroader. Preston Nirattisai is a Disneyland fan (since age eight), civil engineer and computer artist. He began creating CAD drawings of the Disneyland Railroad in 2002, when he couldn't find any for sale.

To say that the book is comprehensive is an understatement. Steve takes us through a journey that recounts the genesis for the Disneyland Railroad and ends with a look at hobbyists and creating your own Disneyland-inspired model railroad. In between, he covers everything else. The book is obviously home grown--Steve has a deep passion for the Disneyland Railroad and it shines through. Many of the photos used are the author's own and the book is filled with CAD (computer aided drawing) drawings by Preston that provide unparalleled details about the engines, rolling stock and railroad buildings.

The major sections of the book give a detailed look at what is presented:
  • Inspiration,
  • The Railroad,
  • The Locomotives,
  • Inside the Cab,
  • Locomotive Hardware and Fittings,
  • The Crew,
  • A Cab Ride!,
  • Rolling Stock,
  • Spiels,
  • A Day in the Roundhouse,
  • Other Disney Steam Trains,
  • Collectibles, and
  • The Disneyland Railroad, Today and Tomorrow

Steve has spent years researching and putting together this guide. He has managed to compile the most comprehensive guide to running and operating the Disney steam trains. Fortunately for us, Steve has been able to spend countless hours riding the Railroad and talking to the crew and engineers. It is obvious that running the Disneyland Railroad is a serious and expensive endeavor for the Disney Company. The section on restoring the engines was quite insightful. Steve was able to spend the day in Roundhouse and saw the Disney engineers and maintenance workers steam up the engines and work on routine maintenance.

One of my favorite sections deals with the structures of the Disneyland Railroad. Steve provides a very detailed look at each station along the route with pictures, facts and a meticulous look at the artifacts in the stations. Preston has also created detailed CAD drawings of the Main Street and Frontierland/New Orleans Stations. The obviously amateur photographs were one of the weaknesses of the book/ I do appreciate the photos that Steve was able to take, but I wish they had been clearer or a little more professionally done. The CAD drawings are mesmerizing and at times overwhelming in their detail.

Bottom Line: This is a fantastic resource about the Disneyland Railroad; future researchers will treasure this volume. It is not for the casual enthusiast or the general Disney Geek, although the history of the engines and the sections on the spiels and structures will make anyone happy. The majority of the book is so focused and so in-depth that it will appeal mainly to the Disneyland Railroad fan and the railroad enthusiast.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Geek-End Update, Saturday, August 23, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Guest Post: Disneyland Details

I met Chris at the program that we did at the Library in Apex. He is a true Disney Geek--his first visit to Walt Disney World was in 1972! I approached Chris about writing for us...he said he needed to think about it first! (He is a funny guy!) Chris and I discussed it through e-mails and thought that he should start his own blog and post whenever he wanted to. He just finished a post the other day and I want everyone to head on over there and give him some Disney Geek love (leave him a comment).

I'll give you a little tease about his post...

Yet Another Disney Blog by Chris. He has a great eye for pictures and he is really looking forward to posting on some subjects that we haven't really touched on at Imaginerding.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Book Update and The WDW Radio Show

I received the following book as a birthday present from Brian at Magical Aperture.

It is one of my favorite vacation collectibles (besides ties and mugs). Each year, Disney puts out two (and sometimes three) different versions of their Pictorial Souvenir. Usually it is a large format, hardbound book (think 9" x 11") and a smaller paperback book. As part of the 100 Years of Magic Celebration, Disney released a larger-format paperback with a much nicer binding. I have the larger hardbound book, but not the paperback. These books are a definite purchase for every vacationer. It is a great way to look back at trips from long ago!

This week, on the WDW Radio Show, Lou has an amazing interview with Disney Legend Richard Sherman about the Sherman Brother's unbelievable career. They briefly discuss the book Walt's Time - From Before to Beyond. It is an amazing look at their music. You can read my review here.

Walt's Time - From Before to Beyond

As a small gift to everyone out there, click on the image below to see a higher-quality scan of the art from the cover of the book. It would make a great poster!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Book Review: Walt Disney Nine Old Men & the Art of Animation by John Canemaker

Walt Disney's Nine Old Men and the Art of Animation by John Canemaker. 2001, 308 pages.

Walt Disney's Nine Old Men is the first book to take an in-depth look at the artists that shaped the Walt Disney Studios before and after Walt's passing. The Nine Old Men reference relates to Franklin Roosevelt's description of the Supreme Court Justices--Walt used it as a joke and it stuck. The Nine Old Men would become the most creative and powerful people at the Studios. The litany of characters that they have brought to life is simply astounding.

John Canemaker is an animation historian, animator and professor of film animation at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. He is a very successful author with seven books (three just about Disney animation) and 100's of essays and articles to his name. Mr. Canemaker is also noted for several award-winning short films.

Mr. Canemaker begins the book with a look at the Nine Old Men's formative years: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Most of the Nine Old Men were hired at the Studios in the mid-1930's. Before them, were legendary men that were mentors and friends to the new artists. Vladmir Tytla, Grim Natwick, Norman Ferguson, Hamilton Luske and Fred Moore were put in charge of various departments and sections of Snow White. As time progressed, many of the Nine Old Men were mentored by these animation pioneers. For many reasons, the previously mentioned animators left Disney or found they could not keep up with the younger crowd. Mr. Canemaker touches on the influential animator's lives throughout the chapters on the Nine Old Men.

Disney's Nine Old Men:
  • Les Clark,
  • Wolfgang Reitherman,
  • Eric Larson,
  • Ward Kimbal,
  • Milt Kahl,
  • Frank Thomas,
  • Ollie Johnston
  • John Lounsberry, and
  • Marc Davis.
Mr. Canemaker devotes a chapter to each animator and takes you from their birth to the present day (in 2001) or their passing--he has created a condensed biography and Mr. Canemaker successfully brings the important details to the top that seem relevant to the creation of the animators. You follow each artist from their birth, early family life, school, travels and eventual beginnings at Disney. All of the Nine Old Men stayed with the Disney organization until their retirement They were also faithful to the Studio during the Strike. Undoubtedly, this cemented Walt's opinion of them. Family photographs, animated film stills and corporate images fill the volume. Mr. Canemaker shares a lot of great anecdotes about the artists. Did you know that Ward Kimball attended over 22 schools growing up and that Marc Davis' family traveled the country, rarely settling in one place for more than a few months? Wolfgang Reitherman was a pilot in World War II and claims that he was only a director because Walt told him to be one.

Throughout each chapter, Mr. Canemaker shares what makes each animator so important to the Disney Studios and animation. As you go through the chapters, you see each animator as a different personality to the whole. Each one distinct and filling a specific role within the Studios. After the Animation Strike, the Nine Old Men were charged with being the review committee for the Studios. A film couldn't be made without their direct involvement and an artist could be fired at their whim. After Walt's passing, the Nine Old Men were the creative force and were often left stumbling as to the direction to be taken at the Studio.

As expected, a majority of the book does focus on animation. Marc Davis was really the only one of the Nine Old Men asked to work on the Disneyland Project. The book does cover that section of Marc's career; starting with the Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland in 1962, the World's Fair attractions, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion. Ward Kimball is mentioned in conjunction with Disneyland through his shared loved of trains with Walt. This book truly shines as a mini-biography of the Nine Old Men and how they moved the art of animation forward.

Bottom Line: This is a book that I highly recommend for animation enthusiasts and people interested in the Disney Studios formative years. It brings together information about the early years of the Studio and the roles of the Nine Old Men in animation, the Studio and the Company--unlike any other resource. Most of the book does deal with animation and the classic characters that were created but it does focus on the theme parks with Marc Davis and Ward Kimball's contributions.

You want this book if you have any interest in learning more about the Nine Old Men and their art.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Geek-End Update, Saturday, August 16, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The S.S. Nautilus

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea was released in 1954. Just as Walt was heavily involved in planning and constructing Disneyland. At the same time, the United States Navy had commissioned the USS Nautilus--the world's first nuclear-powered submarine

At the time, this could be considered a huge publicity coup (for a lack of a better term) for the film. The U.S.A was in the grips of the Cold War and nuclear power was seen as the future and the end of the future at the same time. There was some fear and consternation about a nuclear-powered submarine cruising the oceans of the world. Also, in the film adaption, it appears as if Captain Nemo's Nautilus is a nuclear powered sub, as well. The fact that the USS Nautilus was patrolling the world's seas and Captain Nemo's submarine shared the same name obviously had some commercial tie-in--before there was a lot of commercial tie-in.

Since the U.S Navy had christened the ship the Nautilus, it was an easy tie-in to the film. Both were discussed fairly often in the media outlets. The submarine was the sixth naval vessel to bear the name Nautilus and it is the fourth submarine with the name. The movie was Disney's highest grossing film to date. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea was also Disney's first film to use CinemaScope. CinemaScope is an anamorphic widescreen format that was first used in 1953. It still influences most modern films.

Fast forward to Disneyland 1959 and we have the premier of the New Tomorrowland! The Submarine Voyage, the Matterhorn Bobsleds, the re-vamped Autopia, the Monorail and the Motor Boat Cruise all premiered that summer. The Submarine Voyage ran until 1998. It re-opened 9 years later as The Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. The original 1959 attraction also paralleled the real USS Nautilus' voyage to the North Pole.

The original submarines ran from 1959 to 1986:
  • 301 Nautilus
  • 302 Seawolf
  • 303 Skate
  • 304 Skipjack
  • 305 Triton
  • 306 George Washington
  • 307 Patrick Henry
  • 308 Ethan Allen

Walt Disney helps to christen the Nautilus for the Submarine Voyage at Disneyland, 1959
(Image courtesy of Daveland).

The 20,ooo Leagues attraction opened at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in 1971 and operated until 1994. A direct descendant of the Submarine Voyage, but this time you relive Captain Nemo's voyage from the film--even though it is very much the same ride as the Submarine Voyage from Disneyland. One difference from the Disneyland attraction was that at the Magic Kingdom, each sub was the Nautilus, from Harper Goff's original designs for the film.

You can read more about the Magic Kingdom's 20,000 Leagues over at the always amazing Widen Your World.

Thanks to Daveland for providing the vintage Disneyland photo. If you aren't a regular reader of his blog, you should be!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Build Your Own Castle

The Fall 1996 issue of Disney Magazine was dedicated to celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Walt Disney World. The articles included: Walt & Roy (looking at how Walt Disney World was Roy's final tribute to Walt); Walt Disney World in Pictures; The Fathers of Invention (the six that worked to get Walt Disney World open); 25 Ways to Celebrate; and Test Your Walt Disney World Knowledge (Lou?).

The Walt Disney World in Pictures article also includes a special gift from the Imagineers--a Cinderella Castle poster! Of course, this version was modeled on the architectural renderings from 1969, not the 25th Anniversary Birthday Cake design.

Click on the image for a larger version.

Enjoy! If you happen to build your own castle, drop us a line!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Book Review: Building a Company

Building A Company: Roy O. Disney and the Creation of an Entertainment Empireby Bob Thomas. 1998, 359 pages.

I read Bob Thomas' biography of Walt many years ago and it is one of my favorites. In 1998, Thomas published Building A Company, a look at the lesser-known half of the Disney Empire.

Roy's life started out simple enough and even as a young teenager, he was taking care of Walt and helping him with his dreams. This would be a consistent pattern throughout his life. Even after Walt passed, Roy postponed his retirement to see that the Walt Disney World project would be completed. He worked tirelessly to get Walt's dream as close as possible. He felt he needed to take the mantle of creative and financial lead for the Company; that no one else would be able to follow through.

This was a biography that was a long time coming. Every Disney Geek worth their salt understands how important Roy was to Walt. Without big brother Roy, we wouldn't have the Disney Company as we know it today. Walt has been quoted as saying that without Roy, he would probably be in jail for check bouncing.

This biography brings Roy's life to the forefront and paints a picture of a man that truly loved and understood his brother. Walt was always seen as the creative genius and Roy as the money man. After reading this biography, I can assure you that Roy was just as creative as Walt. Roy just used numbers, balance sheets and common sense. Thomas is able to share a Roy that was extremely ethical and treated all business partnerships with respect.

Building A Company is a very enjoyable read. Bob Thomas has written several other Disney-related titles and he was a reporter for the Associated Press for more than 50 years. As with any biography, you need to take bits and pieces with a grain of salt. Sometimes it reflects poorly on the biographer and sometimes with the prior research (and researchers). I didn't run across anything glaring, but after doing some of my own research, I did see some inconsistencies across several biographies. It just serves to remind us that not every biography is conclusive, exhaustive or authoritative. Bob Thomas does take us a on a journey through Roy's life, allowing us a glimpse of a strong man who always did what was in the best interest of the Company, even if he was at odds with Walt. Nonetheless, it is still the most complete look at Roy Disney's life to date.

Bottom Line: This is a book that everyone should read. You can learn a lot about Roy Disney by reading everything about the Company, or you can just read this book. (Although, I will recommend that you read everything!) You will appreciate this biography more if you have read Thomas' Walt Disney: An American Original or Barrier's The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney. Not that Building A Company is a companion piece, but Thomas spends more time focusing on Roy's contributions and a larger familiarity with the Disney Company will benefit the reader. This is a great read. It should be read by every Disney enthusiast.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Geek-End Update, Saturday, August 9, 2008

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Book Update: Mickey Mouse

Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: His Life and Times was delivered last week.

It is a biographical look at Mickey's life, up until 1986 (the book's publication date). Brian Sibley and Richard Holliss are the authors.

It looks like a great read. Plenty of stills, artwork and a section on making Mickey move! Fromthe cover, you would think it was a juvenile tite, but it is geared towards adults.