Thursday, January 14, 2010

Roller Coaster Rabbit at Disney-MGM Studios

Disney's Hollywood Studios, formerly known as Disney-MGM Studios, used to be my favorite of the four Walt Disney World parks. This was back when you had the two hour Backlot Tour and the Animation Tour, in other words, when the park was actually what it said it was...a working film studio.

Yes, that is correct, TV shows, movies, and animation shorts and features were done at the studio. Guests to the park could actually see the filming of shows or movies. Or, they could see the animators working on the next Disney Channel cartoon episode or animated feature. The Animation Tour was definitely the reason I loved this park. I could spend a couple hours there.

Here is an article from the June 28,1990 edition of Eyes and Ears Vol. 20 No. 26 talking about the first fully animated work to come out of the new studio--Roller Coaster Rabbit. It you never got to visit Disney-MGM Studios back in the 1990s, well, take a few minutes to read this article. You will get a small idea of what you missed and what we all continue to miss today.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Disney-Henson Political Cartoon 1989

A couple months ago when word came out that Disney was purchasing Marvel Comics, there was both optimism and pessimism from both Disney and Marvel fans. Personally, I was excited. The only thing that would have put me flying over cloud nine on a magic carpet would have been if Disney was purchasing DC Comics instead since I prefer DC to Marvel. But, that is a different story.

What immediately came to mind was all the negativity surrounding the Disney and Jim Henson negotiations in 1989 & 1990. Disney had just opened its third theme park, Disney-MGM Studios, in 1989, and two new Muppets based attractions had just opened at this park--Here Come the Muppets and MuppetVision 3-D. Adding to all the confusing and uncertainty was Jim Henson's sudden death on May 16.

I remember a cast member whom I worked with that first summer on the WDW College Program showed me a political cartoon from the Orlando Sentinel about the Disney-Henson negotiations. The cartoon was actually from 1989 when talks first hit about the negotiations. The cartoonist appeared to hit the nail on the head as to what all the naysayers thought was apparently going to be the outcome of such a partnership.

Anyway, I thought the cartoon was hilarious and had him make me a copy. Now, I knew I had kept that copy, but, for the life of me, I could not find it. I searched and searched until last week, I found it at the bottom of one of my boxes that did NOT have other Disney items in it. That figures. I thought it very appropos to the Disney-Marvel discussion. Well, better late than never.

Friday, January 8, 2010

My 1st WDW Plush...Dumbo

Getting souvenirs is one of the highlights of shopping at the Walt Disney World Resort, especially for a child. Most kids want a plush character, and I was no exception. I remember my very first souvenir from WDW as a 5 year old back in 1973. A Dumbo plush by California Stuffed Toys!

Now, you might be wondering, "how in the world does he remember this"? Well, because I still have that very first Dumbo. And, he was very loved as can be seen in the picture. He is missing the little white ball on his hat. He is blind in one eye, since it is missing. His bow is all messed up. His fur is all matted and ears all mangled, but, he was and is mine. Just holding him brings back those memories of my first trip, at The Magic Kingdom.

Now, as luck would have it, last weekend I was at an annual flea market here in Louisville and came across the same exact plush as mine, exect this one was in excellent condition. He has both eyes in excellent condition. He has the ball on his hat. His ribbon is tied and unfrayed. His fur is not matted. And, his ears are beautiful. I just had to snatch it up for the very affordable price of $10. Now, my old loved Dumbo has company!

Here are the tags of each. From looking at the tags, I would guess that maybe the one I purchased this weekend is from after 1973. The front of the tag on my old Dumbo says Walt Disney Character as in singular, while the one I just purchased says Walt Disney Characters, this time plural. Both are labeled Walt Disney Productions. The back of the tags provide a little more evidence as to which is older. My Dumbo says, All New Material while the newer one has the additional phrase of SYNTHETIC FOAM & COTTON. The plushes were made by California Stuffed Toys.

Regardless of the condition, my beat up, battered, and blind Dumbo will always hold a prominent place in my Walt Disney World Disneyana collection--it all started with an elephant!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Annual Walt Disney World Marathon

The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend starts tomorrow, January 7, and runs through (sorry, couldn't resist the pun) Sunday, January 10, 2010, sponsored by Cigna. And, once again, I will not be participating. Sure, I ran track in high school, but, that was a long time ago and I was not a long distance runner. Now, that doesn't stop me from admiring those individuals who participate and having an interest in the marathon. I mean, it is involving Walt Disney World, so, how can I not be interested.

But, have you ever wondered who won the first marathon? When it started? What entertainment surrounded the event? How many runners?

A few months ago, as I was going through some of my WDW collection, I found a small article on the first Walt Disney World Marathon. The article was in Tomart's Disneyana Update No. 1 from 1994 and appears on page 46 in a section called Theme Park Collectibles. What initially caught my attention were the various pictures of the WDW Marathon souvenirs. These include limited edition t-shirts, sweatshirts, caps, pins, and a watch, among other things. I really wish they had included some of the ephemera, but, oh well.

Anyway, as I read the article, I gathered some very interesting knowledge about the very first Walt Disney World Marathon. Those questions I asked earlier? Well, the answers can all be found in the text of the article, which I have typed out below:


About 7,000 runners participated in the first Walt Disney World Marathon on January 16, 1994. Two and one-half years in the making, the event drew entrants from every state and several foreign countries.
The race began at 6 AM in the Epcot Center parking lot with fireworks, a band, and appearances by Mickey and Minnie. Temperature at the start was 40 degrees...ideal for long-distance running.
The course wound throughout Walt Disney World, including Epcot Center, the Magic Kingdom, and Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park. Mid-course entertainment included a laser show in Epcot.
Leonid Shvetsov of Russia completed the 26.2 miles in 2 hours, 14 minutes and 27 seconds to finish first in the men's division. Judit Nagy of Hungary won the women's division in 2:32:32. But David Bailey of Vista, California beat them all by finishing first in the wheelchair division in 1:52:29. Elite runners competed for $125,000 in prize money. An estimated 1500 people watched.
Enthusiastic Disney officials talked of making the annual event as famous as the Boston Marathon. Next year's race will be held January 8th. Disney is planning for a field of 12,000. Interested runners should call Central Reservations Operations at (407) 827-7200 for information and entry forms.
Well, I hope you not only enjoyed the pictures, but the article as well and gained a little more knowledge, because, in my opinion, it is a lot less painful than actually running the marathon.

You can find more information about this year's WDW Marathon at

Monday, January 4, 2010

Remembering 2009...

Well, it has been a while since I posted. I am looking forward to 2010. It is my goal that I have a posting at least three times a week. I also want to be more timely in commenting on the happenings of Disney, especially Walt Disney World and Disney animation. Also, I want to share more of the items in my Disney collection. But, first, I want to reflect on 2009.

It has been quite a year. We made our annual trip to WDW this summer and had a great time. I started a Disney blog. And, I added many items to my Disneyphemera collection.

But, what I will remember the most is what I lost this year. Besides the normal hustle and bustle of the holidays, my grandmother passed away about a week before Christmas. As expected, this made the normal festive season less of a celebration. Even though we were greiving over her loss, we chose to celebrate her life.

My grandmother, or Mammy as we called her, lived a wonderful life. She lived the type of life I pray to have. She lived to be 94 years and was even driving up until just a couple weeks before her passing. She was an inspiration to all her met her and touched many lives. She lived her life for the Lord. So, I believe now was actually a wonderful time for her to be called home.

She also loved her family. She not only got to see her six grandchildren, but also got to see many great-grandchildren, and even a couple great-great-grandchildren. Not many people are blessed with that.

She also travelled all over the world. She hit every state but Alaska, which was rather odd since she had grandchildren living there for a few years back in the 80s. She has travelled from Germany to Egypt to England and to Israel. And, yes, she has even been to Walt Disney World.

Here are a couple of pictures my mother gave to me over the holidays. They are pictures of Mammy at a Pooh character breakfast the day after my wife and I were married at the Wilderness Lodge. The first is one of her with Tigger and the second with Eeyore. I will never forget this day; the child-like surprised look on her face in one and the gentle smile in the other. This is one memory I will cherish forever, along with the many others.

I love you Mammy and miss you terribly.