Friday, December 05, 2008

Happy Birthday, Uncle Walt


Today marks the 107th birthday of Walt Disney, born December 5, 1901 in Chicago, Illinois.

Happy Birthday to an American original.

27 comments:

Bruce said...

I celebrated by going to Disneyland! However I didn't see any mention of his birthday at the park. Maybe for the 110?

Anonymous said...

Can you imagine what it would be like if he was still alive? 107...most likely it would be tragic and pathetic. Walt in a walker or on a parade float with an air hose up his nose. In a way I'm almost glad that he went when he did (like Marilyn Monroe) so we all remember him in good humor in that grandfatherly way (like the Partner's version), and not as a relic or an antique. In a way that was his way, to become "timeless" himself and leave us at a moment where everything he was doing or was about to do was remarkable, visionary and relevant. He left the company an amazing legacy of not just quality, but an ethic of innovation and creative excellence to live up to. Even the Ron Miller years or the Eisnerian brand strip mining could not destroy that name. Pretty amazing.

Katella Gate said...

I don't any of remember Walt's birthdays, but I do remember the day he died. I was six years old and the news had just announced his death from cancer in 1966.

I remember turning to my mother and in complete sincerity asking "Do we have to call him Saint Walter now?"

Brian said...

I think it was Eric Severide who - in is obituary for Walt - said "we will never see his like again." So true. Happy Birthday (albeit belated) to a truly incredible man.

David said...

There was a real Walt Disney...

(no further comment...)

David H
WDW Cast '93-'02

Anonymous said...

I bet no one even knows Roy's birthday. After all, he only made sure his brother's dreams got built. Everyone has dreams and ideas, but very few see them realized. Part of the subtle "magic" of the parks is that they in themselves are evidence that "dreams come true". Their existence alone suspends disbelief. You can think of a Matterhorn but who gets to make one? Roy in many cases made that happen for his dreaming brother.

Walt needed Roy and they fought for sure, but I think that tension made Walt choose which dreams were worth fighting for and in turn Roy was taught to take risks and that they can pay off. If only those lessons had gotten to the current management we'd all be better off.


(June 24th 1893)

Anonymous said...

I hope we don't have to wait until June 24th for another new post.

Spokker said...

I hope the organizers of this blog will allow me to advertise my own. I believe it may be right up your collective alleys.

I'm calling it Red Sky Disney, a play on the phrase Blue Sky Disney, because the sky isn't always blue in Disney fandom.

So far I've written up a small tribute to an attraction that quickly became one of my favorites when I rode it at DisneySea, Sindbad's Storybook Voyages. I also lament at how this type of audio-animatronic extravaganza has been forgotten by our modern Disney-owned parks.

I've also written something up on what it means to be a Disneyland purist and why it's important. No, I don't expect everyone to agree with all of it, but it's what I generally believe to be true.

Yeah, it's ANOTHER stupid Disney blog, with some bad attempts at humor, but I'm just throwing my thoughts out there and seeing what happens.

Spokker said...

I read the current and vintage promotional materials and it's a small world recently and I noticed a subtle difference.

Here's what the AP web site says about the Small World reopening.

"This classic attraction has been renovated, adding new places as well as familiar faces. Be sure to look for some of the "it's a small world" dolls dressed up as some of your favorite Disney characters in the countries where those stories take place!"

But if you look at some of the promotional material from back in the day, you'll see some different wording.

http://www.yesterland.com/images-background/1966brochure_2.jpg

The old brochure refers to the dolls as "children of the world". That's what the dolls represent. Now they're just dolls.

Alternate analysis: "Be sure to look for some of the "it's a small world" dolls dressed up as some of your favorite Disney characters"

Why would a kid from the China section want to take their work home with them?

I hope the outcry over these additions starts up again as we get closer to February. I'll be doing my part to stir the pot over this confusing development in Disneyland history.

Anonymous said...

You coming back, or ... ?

Anonymous said...

Hey, who's getting laid off at WDI?

How about a posting about what's going on there???

Anonymous said...

Yeah, what he said.

/bsdb said...

I know hours are long at Disney and Pixar right now. But so much is happening, with talk of exec buyouts and potential layoffs all throughout P&R, including WDI. Lousy time for this site's caretakers to go on an extended vacation.

Re-Imagineering was one of the best Disney sites on the net during its first two years. Now, it's very inconsistent regarding article content and posting timelines. Almost two months have gone by since the last posting, which seems to be the norm these days.

If the caretakers of this site are too caught up in their careers and everyday lives to post regularly as they used to do, then perhaps it's time to close the blog and move on. As previous commenters have stated, WDI is poised for another bloodletting, yet no mention of it has been posted here. Other Disney fan sites have been discussing the newspaper articles about the buyouts, but this site has refrained from any such debate.

Since some of the buyouts have reportedly been targeted towards Imagineers who are approaching retirement age -- commonly referred to as the torchbearers of "old school Imagineering" -- I would think that such action on the part of Disney would stoke the fires of Re-Imagineering's defense for maintaining Walt's legacy in the parks and resorts. But the silence is deafening.


So... anybody home?

Is this thing on?

Where the F has everybody gone?

Mr Banks said...

Thanks, bsdb, for your concern. We're still here, but it's been increasingly more difficult to keep the site fed. Most of the writers either got cold feet, afraid for their jobs, or super busy. There's also a sense that many at Imagineering are going in a good direction and so there was an effort here to just cool our jets and let people do their jobs. We'll certainly be ready to flap our mouths off when Small World 2.0 opens late February.

In the meantime, I'll be shopping around for more writers. Tough work keeping up a work of love!

And thanks again, for continuing to care.

Anonymous said...

I nominate Blue Sky Drive By (BSDB) as I think she is an excellent and very articulate writer. Not to mention that she has a point of view and will stir the pot furiously with topical grist! All those in favor?

Mr Banks said...

I second that motion!

Spokker said...

"If the caretakers of this site are too caught up in their careers and everyday lives to post regularly as they used to do, then perhaps it's time to close the blog and move on."

Why would you close it even if the site isn't updated anymore? This blog has good information and it wouldn't make any sense to delete it all. Hosting a blog here costs no money.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see what BSDB (or anyone else for that matter) has to say about that hideous new hotel tower they added to the Contemporary at WDW (it's shown in the 1/31 miceage update). If it was sitting in any other location it would be mistaken for a 80's Marriot. I get that they are trying to match the sides of the old hotel, but it has a "wow" element with a monorail running through an atrium! They missed the point. What a dull addition to the skyline. At least Steve Wynn's "Encore" is a compliment to his development. The twin towers work well.

Hotel design the world over is amazing right now and at all price points. IMHO there is no excuse for something like this from Disney. No wonder the future seems so bland, it's prediction is too predictable!

Anonymous said...

Disneyland's iasw reopens this week.
Any coverage? Comments?

Spokker said...

LOL the changes aren't subtle at all. Why the hell were they telling us, "Oh, you'll never notice!"

Donald Duck is rocking out in Mexico. Jesus Christ.

Spokker said...

Hey Re-Imagineering guys, this passage by John Hench might be helpful in analyzing the Small World changes.

"The minute details that produce the visual experience are really the true art of the Disney themed show, its greatest source of strength. The details corroborate every story point, immersing guests into the story idea, and that if one detail contradicts another, guests will feel let down or even deceived. This is why he insisted that even details that some designers thought no guest would notice-such as the replicated period doorknobs on Main Street, U.S.A.-were important. Inappropriate details confuse a story's meaning."


I guess the debate is whether the Disney film elements are a contradiction in Small World that confuse the story's meaning. I think they are. He goes on to talk about essential details vs. those that are not.

"A detail should only be used if it is essential to the story in some way. There is a big difference between being overwhelmed with detail that really amounts to clutter, and the feeling of perfection that is real storytelling. As designers, we must not make the mistake of thinking that a "big look" with lots of detail is enough."


I would argue that the addition of Disney characters, Disney music, and a USA scene amount to clutter.

Anonymous said...

Why is it when they want to make any changes that management wants and not what the public likes or wants, people at Disney say, "Disneyland is not a museum." (Meaning some changes lead to more merchandising for the parks.)

Then when they "don't want" to refurbish or restore something they say it costs too much and they just let Disneyland decay and rot until they "have" to paint over things and fix it up for the the 50th to make it kinda look like they did something?

Tomorrowland is starting to look like an old museum exhibit again. Where are the new attractions and improvements?

When was the last time they updated the old museum piece called Frontierland? It can always use new things here and there.

How many years did it take before they rebuilt the old dinosaur exhibit called the Submarine Ride?

After Rocket Rods did they restore or renew the people mover or just leave it looking like an old static broken down museum exhibit?

When it suits them or when they don't want to do anything new they don't mind if Disneyland starts looking like an old museum. They will say people don't care about peeling paint, cobwebs or broken lights. Walt cared and fixed things right away if he could.

I liked the article before calling Disneyland a "living museum."

A museum does not have to be old and boring. Exhibits and attractions can be constantly changing showcasing Walt's love for the nostalgic, the historic and fantastic, the worlds of tomorrow mixed in with humor and laughter.

Walt liked to improve and innovate. He did not just change things for no reason. He was always making Disneyland better.

Restore or refurbish the good stuff. Replace the stuff that doesn't work or needs to be updated. Respect the past with an eye towards the future.

Embrace new technology and don't tear down the classics because the new execs don't care about Walt's legacy and just want to make a buck.

A classic painting or a classic movie can still come alive and be enjoyed by a new generation and a new audience that has never seen it before. Walt once said. "Don't throw away the good stuff."

The new and old can co-exist together. Disneyland is an American landmark. If one day theme parks become boring will they pave over Disneyland and turn it into a parking lot just because people don't like living museums anymore?

Some things need to be restored and preserved for future generations.
To paraphrase Walt, Disneyland will continue on as long as there is imagination left in the world.

Some of the new execs have no imagination. All they want to see grow is their bonuses. Disneyland is part of Americana.

I would rather see it preserved as a landmark then to see it torn down because theme parks were old fashioned and they needed the land to build condos or a new parking lot.

Here's to the "living museum" we all call Disneyland! May it grow and change for the right reasons. May the classic popular attractions be updated, refreshed and enhanced with new technology.

And may they be allowed to continue on with the imagination that Walt Disney left the in the world.

Walt had a respect for the past, he enjoyed the present, and was always looking towards the future.

Hey guess what? So can the current people at Disney!
Try it for a change.

Anonymous said...

The sight of those cute little hillside houses in the America scene reminded me that they were missing their "for sale" signs.

Spokker said...

"Then when they "don't want" to refurbish or restore something they say it costs too much and they just let Disneyland decay and rot until they "have" to paint over things and fix it up for the the 50th to make it kinda look like they did something?"

Absolutely. Disneyland is a museum or isn't a museum whenever it suits their business needs.

Maybe Disneyland was being run like a museum after all. Imagine, for the decade that the Submarine Voyage were dormant, there sat the decaying ruins of the corny old submarine ride. Docents could have explained that historians aren't sure how it got there but studies have shown that a naive old man once believed in the power of a stupid theme park to entertain on a higher level than an amusement park does and stimulate the imagination.

"Tomorrowland is starting to look like an old museum exhibit again. Where are the new attractions and improvements?"

Actually, the New Tomorrowland of 1998 was designed to never be improved or changed again. During that time there was talk that renovating Tomorrowland every few decades was too damn expensive, so they designed a half-ass Discoveryland for Disneyland that was meant to be "retro-futurist" or something so it never goes out of style!

Anonymous said...

Spokker said:
“Actually, the New Tomorrowland of 1998 was designed to never be improved or changed again. During that time there was talk that renovating Tomorrowland every few decades was too damn expensive, so they designed a half-ass Discoveryland for Disneyland that was meant to be "retro-futurist" or something so it never goes out of style!”


Actually, TL 98 was designed because DL management had been neglecting maintenance so long that they land was just looking dirty. So they went with a theme that had a color pallet that would not suffer as much from the neglect – dirt wouldn’t show up as much on the bronze color scheme.

There was never any intent to NOT have to change anything in the land again, just that trying to keep up with the “real” tomorrow would just not be feasible. Unfortunately they lost their direction and the whole concept fell apart.

Anonymous said...

Spokker said:
“Actually, the New Tomorrowland of 1998 was designed to never be improved or changed again. During that time there was talk that renovating Tomorrowland every few decades was too damn expensive, so they designed a half-ass Discoveryland for Disneyland that was meant to be "retro-futurist" or something so it never goes out of style!”


Actually, TL 98 was designed because DL management had been neglecting maintenance so long that they land was just looking dirty. So they went with a theme that had a color pallet that would not suffer as much from the neglect – dirt wouldn’t show up as much on the bronze color scheme.

There was never any intent to NOT have to change anything in the land again, just that trying to keep up with the “real” tomorrow would just not be feasible. Unfortunately they lost their direction and the whole concept fell apart.

Anonymous said...

Spokker said:
“Actually, the New Tomorrowland of 1998 was designed to never be improved or changed again. During that time there was talk that renovating Tomorrowland every few decades was too damn expensive, so they designed a half-ass Discoveryland for Disneyland that was meant to be "retro-futurist" or something so it never goes out of style!”


Actually, TL 98 was designed because DL management had been neglecting maintenance so long that they land was just looking dirty. So they went with a theme that had a color pallet that would not suffer as much from the neglect – dirt wouldn’t show up as much on the bronze color scheme.

There was never any intent to NOT have to change anything in the land again, just that trying to keep up with the “real” tomorrow would just not be feasible. Unfortunately they lost their direction and the whole concept fell apart.