Interview: Disneyland’s Opening Day

Sleeping Beauty Castle 60th

I hope you enjoy these excerpts from interviews I did with people who were at Disneyland on its opening day on July 17, 1955.
Don’t miss any of my interviews. Send an email and let me know you want to be on my email list!

AUDIO INDEX

1:26 Harriet Burns, of the Imagineering model shop, talks about having to be at various positions in Disneyland on its opening day; Crowds and counterfeit tickets and heat; Melting asphalt; The day before Disneyland opened there was a gap in Tomorrowland; The Disney staff’s thoughts about Disneyland

4:41 Cubby O’Brien was a very young boy debuting as a Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer at the opening day of Disneyland

6:19 Mouseketeer Sherry Alberoni Van Meter won a prize to attend Disneyland on its opening day; Serving ice cream for Walt Disney

8:25 Bobby Burgess danced with the other Mouseketeers on Disneyland’s opening day and it was hot; Disneyland parade; A special memory of riding the Skyway a few years later

10:31 Sculptor Blaine Gibson attended Disneyland’s opening with his wife; The heat; Blaine’s assistant Jack Ferges did not have a good experience

12:10 Marketing guru and president of Disneyland, Jack Lindquist was at the park on opening day as a guest of Kelvinator; Crowds and heat; Tickets had different times on them but the guests didn’t leave; Jack’s five year old son had an experience on the Canal Boats attraction; Eddie Meck was the publicity person for Disneyland; Jack knew Eddie Meck since he was a kid; Eddie Meck helped turn upset members of the press into fans of Disneyland

16:43 Miriam Nelson choreographed the performances for Disneyland’s opening day; Choosing a white knight and black knight for the opening of the drawbridge of Sleeping Beauty castle; Dancers got lost; New Orleans dance problems; Little boy tap dancer was not at his spot; The characters at the opening of Fantasyland; Frontierland was supposed to have cement for dancers who danced to “Bang! Went Old Betsy”; Walt Disney

Interview: Blaine Gibson (Haunted Mansion; Pirates; If You Had Wings)

by Scott Wolf

Blaine Gibson at the Walt Disney Studios, 1993
Blaine Gibson at the
Walt Disney Studios, 1993

Blaine Gibson began his Disney career as an inbetweener on a Pluto cartoon short film “Bone Trouble,” and then on “Fantasia” and “Pinocchio” and as an assistant animator on“Bambi.” Blaine eventually began sculpting for Disney, creating the pirates in Pirates of the Caribbean, ghosts in the Haunted Mansion, Abraham Lincoln for Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, all the president before Barrack Obama for Hall of Presidents in the Magic Kingdom, Mark Twain and others for the American Adventure in Epcot, and much more. Blaine also sculpted the Partners statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse in Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom.

AUDIO INDEX
1:52 The Haunted Mansion; Developing three dimension characters from Marc Davis’ drawings

3:18 The inverted concavity busts whose eyes seem to follow you; Sculptor George Snowden and Yale Gracey, special effects wizard; Working on Disneyland and animating; the first Mickey Mouse head

6:35 Yale Gracey and the technique to create multiple sea gulls from Blaine’s animation for the If You Had Wings attraction in the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World

8:30 Sculpting the head for Leota Toombs (the Imagineer who appears in the crystal ball in the Haunted Mansion) and a problem with the materials used to capture her life mask

10:13 Basing his sculptures on people – a worker at Disney Studios had a great head

 

Interview: Jeff Hoffman (The Disney Legends Awards)

Enjoy this slide show of photos of the Disney Legends Awards!
Listen to the interview directly under the photos.

Jeff Hoffman
Jeff Hoffman was responsible for the Disney Legends Awards for more than two decades
« 1 of 13 »

Jeff Hoffman’s began his Disney career selling merchandise at Disneyland shop and ultimately becoming vice president of Disney Worldwide Outreach. He was largely responsible for the Disney Legends Awards for more than two decades.

AUDIO INDEX
1:15 The start of the Disney Legends Awards; the first Disney Legend ceremony, Fred MacMurray

6:52 The original committee to choose the Disney Legends; Choosing the term “Disney Legend”

11:43 Continuing the Disney Legends Awards after the Fred MacMurray ceremony; choosing the next Disney Legends; Walt’s “nine old men” honored; Ward Kimball’s “six-fingered” handprints

18:06 Annette Funicello’s handprints in the rain; the Sherman Brothers’ handprints mishap

21:09 The Disney Legends Award statuette; Award sculptor and designer Andrea Favilli; a large scale Award sculpture and the Legends Plaza; the 75th anniversary of The Walt Disney Company; Roy E. Disney’s award

It’s a Small World grand opening on this day in ’66

It's a Small World, 2015 photo
It’s a Small World, 2015 photo

Did you know that “it’s a small world” had it’s grand opening at Disneyland on this day in 1966? The ceremonies were complete with doves and countless helium filled balloons being released in the air. (This was before it was determined that releasing balloons may have negative environmental impacts.) Also, children of the world brought water from their native countries to pour into the ride’s moat. To keep with the international theme, Walt Disney spoke via telephone/loud speaker to 1966 Disneyland Ambassador Connie Swanson, who was in Skansen, Switzerland. Although today, Connie probably would appear via internet on a big screen, in the ’60s, the reception was far from what we can receive today. Connie told me, “I could hear Walt saying, ‘There’s some difficulty, we can’t get it through,’ and I thought, oh dear, here I am in Stockholm with the press and this Minister of Communications’ and the line just is going down, so I read my script as I was asked to do.” Despite any technical difficulties, the grand opening ceremonies were a success and “it’s a small world” continues to be a favorite Disneyland attraction 49 years later.

Interview: Jack Gladish (His career; Walt Disney; Disneyland and World’s Fair attractions)

Jack works on a caveman for Disney's Magic Skyway attraction for the World's Fair, working Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, and a 2014 visit to Walt Disney World
Jack works on a caveman for Disney’s Magic Skyway attraction for the World’s Fair, working Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, and a 2014 visit to Walt Disney World

Jack Gladish worked as an engineer, responsible for submarines, dinosaurs, railroad locomotives and much more. Attractions include the “Carousel of Progress,” “Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room” and much more.  During his career he headed the plastics and fiberglass shops at the MAPO department of Walt Disney Imagineering.

AUDIO INDEX
:56 How he got his start with Disney in the late ‘50s; Precision camera machinist, including work on the multi-plane camera; Mary Poppins’ robin for “Spoonful of Sugar”

3:06 Audio Animatronics; Abraham Lincoln’s head, including tongue, smile and expressions; Programming the movements;

9:50 The atmosphere at WED; Walt Disney; Walt making money

14:00 Roger Broggie; Troubleshooting at Disneyland; skins for Jungle Cruise animals; problem with zebra stripes

18:02 Railroad locomotives and submarines for the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World; how we became stationed permanently in Florida

21:12 World’s Fair; Primeval World; Carousel of Progress

The World According to Goofy parade at Disneyland, 1992

The World According to Goofy parade at Disneyland , 1992
The World According to Goofy parade at Disneyland , 1992

Goofy was celebrated throughout Disney in 1992, including The World According to Goofy parade at Disneyland. Above are a few of the photos I took of the parade. The lavish parade represented Goofy in various settings including the Italian “Renais-sauce,” “Egyptian Daze” and running for president of the United States. I’d vote for him!

Interview: Wally Boag (Golden Horseshoe Revue; Tiki Room; Absent-Minded Professor)

Enjoy this slide show of photos of Wally Boag!
Listen to the interview directly under the photos.

Wally Boag
Wally Boag at home
« 1 of 6 »

Wally Boag starred in Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe Revue stage show from 1955 to 1982. During that time, some of his other contributions include appearing in some of Walt Disney’s movies, entertaining the troops in Iceland, performing in a Walt Disney stage show at Radio City Music Hall, writing Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room attraction and providing the voice of that show’s emcee macaw, Jose.

AUDIO INDEX

2:35 His start in showbiz

9:26 Donald Novis; Golden Horseshoe Revue audition for Walt Disney

11:59 Fulton Burley; writing Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room; under contract with MGM; bring Fulton to the Horseshoe

14:03 History of “spitting out teeth” as Pecos Bill

16:33 More about the Tiki Room and writing for WED (now known as Walt Disney Imagineering); the Tiki Room in Tokyo Disneyland; the barker bird in Disneyland; his involvement in the Haunted Mansion

19:43 Stunt double for Fred MacMurray in the Absent-Minded Professor

Wally Boag – Disneyland News

Wally Boag, Pat O'Brien and the Disneyland News
Wally Boag, Pat O’Brien and the Disneyland News

Here’s a rarity from my collection. That’s Wally Boag, star of Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe Revue with Hollywood legend Pat O’Brien. At this newsstand in Disneyland, guests could purchase “The Disneyland News” newspapers, and get their name personalized in the headline! By the way, I’ll be posting an interview I did with Wally very soon!

Interview: Marcia Miner Phillips (1967 Disneyland Ambassador to the World)

Marcia hosting an episode of "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color," at the grand opening the "new Tomorrowland," and with Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie
Marcia hosting an episode of “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color,” at the grand opening the “new Tomorrowland,” and with Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie

 

Marcia Miner Phillips was a Disneyland tour guide, VIP hostess and the 1967 Disneyland Ambassador to the World.

AUDIO INDEX

2:03 Her start with Disney as a tour guide; memorizing the script; about the tours; a tour for a sight impaired Guest

6:35 Walt Disney; the grand opening of “it’s a small world”

8:43 A finalist for the 1965 Disneyland Ambassador, and that ceremony at Sleeping Beauty Castle; Walt Disney’s passing; Honorary Ambassador of Orange County

15:08 Re-release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs press tour

16:50 Her Ambassador year; Working at home without a Disney office

21:06 The opening of Pirates of the Caribbean and getting into photos; Roy O. Disney

23:49 Ambassador description; Walt Disney; Hedda Hopper; Peter Ustinov

27:08 “A day in the life of” the Ambassador; President of Turkey, Cevdet Suney; Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie

Interview: Kathryn Beaumont (Being a child actress and becoming a school teacher; “Alice” in later years)

 

Kathryn Beaumont at the studio school
Kathryn Beaumont at the Disney Studios

Kathryn Beaumont was a child actress at MGM and went on to voice Alice and Wendy in Walt Disney’s animated versions of “Alice in Wonderland” and “Peter Pan” respectively

AUDIO INDEX

:55 Being a child actress; becoming a school teacher

2:35 The students’ awareness of Kathryn’s voice work and a funny related story

4:22 Performing the voice of Alice as an adult; Alice’s voice for Disneyland and Disney park shows

6:30 Remaining involved with Disney

8:00 Appearances for the original release of Alice in Wonderland

 

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On Twitter