All posts by mouseclubhouse

Interview: Jim Adams & Don Payne (Disneyland entertainers)

Disneyland entertainers Jim Adams and Don Payne
Disneyland entertainers Jim Adams and Don Payne

Jim Adams and Don Payne entertained thousands of guests at Disneyland and toured the country for Disney in the 1970s.

Together and individually Jim and Don were involved in performing, writing and directing many of Disneyland’s events such as “The Baby Animal Show” at Carnation Plaza Gardens, the “Fun with Music” show at the Fantasyland Theater, “The Great Annual Easter Walking Race” and much more. Jim and Don both also starred in Disneyland’s historic “Golden Horseshoe Revue,” alternating with Disney Legend Wally Boag. (See more photos and audio index below)

Jim Adams delights an audience member during the "Golden Horseshoe Revue"
Jim Adams delights an audience member during the “Golden Horseshoe Revue”
Don Payne entertains in the "Golden Horseshoe Revue"
Don Payne entertains in the “Golden Horseshoe Revue”
Jim Adams hosts "The Baby Animal Show" with Goofy and a live duckling
Jim Adams hosts “The Baby Animal Show” with Goofy and a live duckling
As puppeteer, Don Payne takes a break during a television appearance to promote Disney's "101 Dalmatians"
As puppeteer, Don Payne takes a break during a television appearance to promote Disney’s “101 Dalmatians”
Jim Adams shares a laugh with Disney Legend Fulton Burley in a bicentennial-themed version of the "Golden Horseshoe Revue"
Jim Adams shares a laugh with Disney Legend Fulton Burley in a bicentennial-themed version of the “Golden Horseshoe Revue”

AUDIO INDEX

2:56 Jim’s start in entertainment at Disneyland; Began in the Christmas parade; Meeting Wally Boag for the first time; Wally enlisted Jim to perform in the Disneyland Drama Workshop including “Chicken Ranching for Fun and Profit” and “Tail of the West”; Intended for internal performances, “Chicken Ranching” was eventually seen by the public; Jim started performing in the “Golden Horseshoe Revue”

11:10 Jim toured the country promoting Disneyland and Disney’s latest film releases; Did television and radio shows, live shows at malls and hospital visits

13:06 Remembering Disney Legend Fulton Burley; Fulton was always entertaining people, both on and off stage; Fulton even entertained in the bathroom!; Working with Fulton in the “Golden Horseshoe Revue”

23:16 Don’s start at Disneyland; Began in the Christmas Parade, with his first performance on December 15, 1966, the day Walt Disney died; Don remembers snow at Disneyland that night; Don joins the character department and then becomes a performer in the “Golden Horseshoe Revue”

28:34 Jim begins performing the Mountain Man character as the “Golden Horseshoe Revue” pre-show, and Don takes over the Mountain Man pre-show when Jim was in the main show

Interview: Kathleen Mitts Micalizzi (1993 Disneyland Ambassador to the World)

Kathleen after being named Disneyland Ambassador 1993
Kathleen after being named Disneyland Ambassador 1993

Kathleen Mitts Micalizzi was the 1993 Disneyland Ambassador to the World. (More photos and audio index below)

As part of the press, we were notified moments before the winner was announced so we could focus in on her
As part of the press, we were notified moments before the winner was announced so we could focus in on her
Kathleen and Pluto in the Hollywood Christmas Parade
Kathleen and Pluto in the Hollywood Christmas Parade

Kathleen in the 1993 Tournament of Roses parade

Kathleen in the 1993 Tournament of Roses parade

Kathleen in the Space Mountain attraction safety video
Kathleen in the Space Mountain attraction safety video

AUDIO INDEX

1:38 How Kathleen came to appear in the Space Mountain safety video

2:49 Kathleen got her start at Disneyland performing in parades and shows including the Main Street Electrical Parade, Party Gras, Main Street Hop and Fantasmic!

5:07 After three attempts, Kathleen was finally chosen as Disneyland Ambassador to the World for 1993. Everything immediately changed for Kathleen as soon as she was selected; A funny memory of her first day as Ambassador

7:32 A lot of traveling was involved, representing Disney throughout the United States; About the Mickey’s Toontown promotional tour, and making television and radio appearances as well as hospital visits for sick children

9:03 The opening of Mickey’s Toontown, dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony

9:34 Traveling to Tokyo Disneyland for their 10th anniversary with all Disney Ambassadors, and visiting Paris

11:46 Appearing in the Hollywood Christmas Parade and the Tournament of Roses; Receiving gifts as Ambassador

15:53 Summing up her Ambassador year

Interview: Alyja Kalinich (Costume designer for Disney parks)

Disney costume designer Alyja Kalinich
Disney costume designer Alyja Kalinich

For decades, Alyja Kalinich was a costume designer for Disney, and her work has been seen all over the world! Her costumes include many characters, overdressing for characters, and an almost unimaginable array of designs for Disney’s many parades and shows at Disney theme parks here and abroad.  Alyja has done costume design for Disney on Ice, the New York City Ambassador Theatre, and Radio City Music Hall. She had to take so much into consideration when designing, such as where to place the battery packs and LED lights for the costumes she designed for Tokyo Disneyland’s Electrical Parade Dreamlights. In fact, an update to that parade in 2015, including lighted Rapunzel and Flynn costumes, would be her last designs before retiring.  From Roger Rabbit, Aladdin and the Genie, to dancing seaweed, dancing film strips, insects, cheetahs and gazelle – the thousands of costumes Alyja has designed has brought joy to millions of people.

Scott Wolf: How did you get into designing costumes?

Alyja Kalinich: I went to art school. I majored in fine art at St. John’s University and then transferred to Parsons School of Design in New York. I studied illustration, and that was going to be my career… to illustrate.
When I finished there, I came to California on a vacation and loved it so much.

Before that, I started working for Oleg Cassini, who was a designer in New York, and doing his illustrations because a lot of designers can’t really draw very well – they do stick figures. I happened to have a saleable way of drawing, so they would use me to do their sketches, and some of them don’t have time, so I would do them.
Then I went on vacation to California and loved it and said goodbye to all my friends in New York and goodbye to Oleg Cassini. I decided to start a new life in California, and he actually came out two weeks later to do a film and he asked me to be his assistant designer on the film. So it worked out that I got into that and kind of saw the designer’s actual working, not just the sketch.

After that finished, I went looking around and found Disneyland and I thought, Well, okay, I’ll go by and check it out and see if there’s any design with sketching involved of any kind, because I could do interiors and all that.

I was hired by Bob Phelps and Tom Peirce. I believe Tom Peirce and Jack Muhs were the very first designers there, and they hired me as their sketch artist and I would do their sketches. They would of course have to present their designs and their ideas to the producer of the show and all that, so their idea would go with my sketch and they would talk it through and so on.

I did that for a number of years and then they needed a designer so they put me as an assistant designer first.

Larry Billman helped me actually helped me. It was serendipitous. Life is so serendipitous really. You can plan all you want, but it just takes you where it goes if you don’t say no. Larry rushed down to me, and he said, “Jack isn’t here, I need a design for Bob Jani,” who was at that time the big entertainment guru there. So I did a sketch and he took it from me and presented it to Bob Jani and Bob liked it, so it became my turn to actually art direct it, too. So that was my first thing. I remember it was kind of a bland look but I learned a lot from my very first experience and I owe it to Larry Billman, and the fact that Jack wasn’t there.

Then they put me on to other things and it came on and on and then I did parades. “The Lion King” parade, I did that one.

SW: That had spectacular costumes. Which ones did you work on for that?

AK: I did all the costumes for the parade.

Alyja's costumes from the "Lion King Celebration" in Disneyland
Alyja’s costumes from the “Lion King Celebration” in Disneyland

SW: The gazelles and and cheetahs and zebras? Those were a very unique style. Just beautiful. Was that the first time that Disney did kind of an artsy kind of animal like that?

AK: Yes, it was the very first time. The whole parade was a little bit of an abstraction. That was told to us by the producer/director so that was their input to us, the set designer and the costume designer. Then we, inspired by their thought, stepped away a little bit from reality. It was great fun.

SW: Did you have to do any kind of research for those costumes?

AK: Always. Before you begin a project, you kind of ruminate what goes on in your head through the days as you do your regular stuff, it’s in the back of your mind. Then I have tear sheets, every time I look at a magazine I always pull stuff out and put it away, and all of that stays in your mind and the act of seeing and that recognizing what you’ve seen that it could be like a hook to something. Taking and saving, all of that is a constant process in the life of a designer, I would think. A constant process, life is never dull.

Alyja designed all the '50s costumes and overdressings for this Tokyo Disneyland show from Minnie's poodle skirt to Dale's slicked back hair
Alyja designed all the ’50s costumes and overdressings for this Tokyo Disneyland show, from Minnie’s poodle skirt to Dale’s slicked back hair

SW: So you were no longer the assistant by the time you did “Lion King”?

AK: Right. I was a designer then.

SW: Were you working strictly for Disneyland at that time?

AK: Yes, I was on staff for 20 years. When I was an assistant, I did go to Walt Disney World for awhile when it opened. My name is on one of the store fronts in Disney World! It’s my maiden name, Alyja Paskevicius! I couldn’t believe it! It’s there still!

Alyja in a 1971 newspaper article for the opening of Walt Disney World
Alyja in a 1971 newspaper article for the opening of Walt Disney World

SW: That’s awesome! So you were there for the opening of Magic Kingdom?

AK: Yes.

SW: What kinds of costumes did you do back then in the ‘70s?

AK: That was the beginning of the park so there were a lot of operational costumes that I did drawings for Tom Peirce.

SW: What do you mean by “operational”? Is that like shops and restaurants and things?

AK: Yes, like what your wife wore (when she worked serving food) at Carnation.

SW: So you were working on a lot more than just shows and parades.

AK: I did both for Tom Peirce who did operational and for Jack Muhs who did entertainment. Tom Peirce is such a part of Disney history, and Jack Muhs, too, he’s passed away. He did the costumes for the Golden Horseshoe and then I redid them toward the end.

Film reel costumes "Disney on Parade at Tokyo Disneyland"
Film reel costumes “Disney on Parade at Tokyo Disneyland”

SW: What was the process when you would start designing, like a parade?

AK: The producer and the director come to you, the designer. Usually the director comes and says we’re doing this parade or this show, and they give you the script or they give you the number of units in a parade, the general idea of the whole thing and the number of people, the number of men and women. They give you a lot of the technical details plus the general feeling and an inspirational talk as to what the story is, and what the music will be like. Then you go back to that little room or wherever, and you come up with your concepts. Then you have a meeting and you present the concepts.

I tend to like to do the whole parade rather than one costume at a time, because then you get a general overview in your mind’s eye. So you present that to usually the director and the producer, and they’ll say, “This looks good, this looks good, let’s change this, let’s do this different,” or whatever. It’s a very malleable process and you just stay flexible. It’s a group thing, but you have your own contribution. Then the set designer comes in and he has the same process. Then we all come together and we look at all the work together. The music comes in and we get approval on what to begin with and then we go to the prototype costume first.

A bug character from the Disney Silly Symphony "Flowers and Trees"
A bug character from the Disney Silly Symphony “Flowers and Trees”

What I would do then is take my sketch that has been finally approved by the show director and the producer. Take it to a costume house, which is sort of like how an architect would have a contractor. The architect goes to the contractor and says, “I would like this built, how would you do it? Let’s talk about what the materials would be,” and so on, so in that sense I go to a costume house and I would say, “Let’s talk about this. I would like this, this big, maybe a cage,” or whatever thoughts I may have and then listening to their experience. I need them badly because they’re the people with a lot of good thoughts, so I welcome everything. That’s where you really have to communicate. Communication is pretty big in this process, and then to inspire them to really get the essence of it, of that elephant or whatever you’re doing, the essence of it so that they would understand it and be excited to do it.

SW: When you set out to design something, do you have to worry about limitations, like is it even possible to do something like this, or do you shoot for the moon and see what the costume house can do?

An array of bugs from "A Bug's Life"
An array of bugs from “A Bug’s Life”

AK: I know what can be done. I know that I can’t have someone fly in the air without wires or that I need a harness if they’re up in the air. I know that from experience. So I do take that into account already. But if there’s new materials, plastic materials say, new types of fabric that I haven’t seen out there yet that they may know about, I welcome all those new ideas. I welcome everything from them. But I do know my limitations, and also the budgetary limitations and the time. The clock is always ticking behind me.

SW: Out of everything you’ve worked on, do you have a favorite project?

Alyja's costume designs for the Jim Henson show "Here Come the Muppets" in Disney-MGM Studios
Alyja’s costume designs for the Jim Henson show “Here Come the Muppets” in Disney-MGM Studios

AK: I guess “The Lion King” parade. That to me is everything, because of the music, too, it makes me kind of get a tear in my eye, but I love a lot of the stuff I did for Japan, and I love some of the Muppet stuff I did in 3-D, for the characters in Walt Disney World. I learned a lot about their quality of work because their art is softer and Disney art is more hard-edged. The Muppets have a lot of soft flowing things. I learned a lot from going from one kind of discipline to another, I was very fortunate.

SW: Did Jim Henson have to approve your work?

AK: Yes, but he died right then. It was just so horrible, and then someone else had to approve it, but he was such a nice guy. Such a tragedy.

One of Alyja's costumes for the Party Gras parade in Disneyland
One of Alyja’s costumes for the Party Gras parade in Disneyland

SW: I know you worked on my favorite parade Party Gras, I saw the photo of the banana character in your other room.

AK: Most of the parade was done by Jack Muhs and I just contributed the new characters. That’s how it worked. That was assigned to me because I like to do little new characters or think them up.

SW: I saw you designed a seaweed costume. What’s the strangest costume you’ve done?

AK: Maybe the elephants for Radio City Music Hall.

SW: Was that the live Magical World of Disney show?

AK: Yes, the elephants, we did sort of a black light elephant dream sequence from “Dumbo” and we had them stretch and jump around. It was a good effect.

SW: What was that Magic World of Disney show?

AK: Similar to what Barnette Ricci usually does in the time I was there she would combine all the Disney music and all that, and all the characters and bring them all out and times. We had the giant brooms from “Fantasia” and the Rockettes had to get inside of them and they were not happy. They were not happy with me because they weren’t seen. I felt so bad, because when the performer is not happy, it’s not pleasant, but they did get to show themselves later. It was just a moment. I said, “It was just a moment when you’re a broom.”

SW: Was that the biggest show you’ve done?

AK: I did an Ambassador Theatre one for the premiere of “Hercules.” That was a big show as well. Every one of them is pretty detailed. Most of my projects have over a hundred people in them.

SW: Were you working for Disneyland when you were asked to do the Radio City show?

AK: Yes, it was all Disney, through Barnette. Barnette came to ask me. She was on staff in entertainment at Disneyland, so we were all kind of a group.

SW: Which “Disney On Ice” shows did you work on?

AK: “Pocahontas,” and a lot of the characters for the other shows, overdressings for like Mickey and Minnie and stuff like that.

SW: Overdressings are like the character’s “wardrobe,” right?

Dale wear one of Alyja's overdressings for the Disney Dreams on Parade in Tokyo Disneyland
Dale wears one of Alyja’s overdressings for the Disney Dreams on Parade in Tokyo Disneyland

AK: Yes. It changes the look of the character. The character still remains Mickey and Minnie but maybe has a raincoat on instead of the little dress that Minnie’s wearing. That’s an overdressing.

SW: When you design for ice shows, is it different than a stage show or a Disney parade?

Mickey and Minnie overdressings designed by Alyja for Tokyo Disneyland
Mickey and Minnie overdressings designed by Alyja for Tokyo Disneyland

AK: Oh yes, it’s a whole different venue and different needs for the person. They have to move quite a bit. It’s quite another world.

Also, if you are doing an indoor show, it’s a whole other world than an outdoor entertainment because outside it’s very unforgiving. There’s no lights to hide behind. The lighting designer can help you with your costume, make them look more mysterious, the moodiness. You have to create that mood right there in the sunshine and it’s a strange little world, outdoor entertainment. You also have to have that costume be a focal point as you’re looking at it because behind that costume there are myriads of people, taking your attention away from what’s going on in the parade. There’s all kinds of faces, colors, and all of that. You have to keep that in mind and you have to make sure that when the person sees the costume up close that it looks like a well-made piece and that it has the quality of the thing that you’re trying to portray up close. It’s very unforgiving. It’s not very easy. I think theatrical design is easier because you’re in the dark, you can collaborate with the lighting person and determine color – it’s a lot more forgiving.

SW: You mentioned the lighting people a moment ago. What other people would you deal with?

AK: On every production it’s the director, the set designer, the lighting designer and the costume designer, working together, and the choreographer as well.

SW: Why would the choreographer work with you?

AK: If for some reason the person can’t move properly with the costume I’ve done, that I’d need to fix. That’s my problem unless we collaborate and they do a little less choreography and I do a little fixing on the costume. It’s very collaborative.

SW: Some characters have extravagant makeup, like some of your costumes for parades, flowers for example, also have flowery makeup on their face. Are you involved in that?

AK: Yes, I approve the makeup during dress rehearsal. We work out every problem that we can work out at dress rehearsal. We usually have a few dress before we do the final dress, and by the final dress all problems should be worked out and makeup should be the way it would be on the opening day. So yes, makeup is part of my thing, and also hair.

It is a hard job and it requires a lot of people cooperating and coming together and working with a lot of different personalities and a lot of different time frames, the money, all of that. But the final happy time is when you see the people looking at it and you can see the faces and you can tell there’s something in them that’s lifted up a little or taken away from their cares of the day by something visual and something musical. Those two things. Those two things can transport you to a much different world than the world you’re in. So I could see that.

And then I look at the things I could have done better and then I look at things I like, too, so I bask in that, I don’t negate that, but then I think, “Next time this…” but it’s the reaction of the people.

Alyja holds dolls wearing her costumes she designed for a parade. These were sold in Tokyo Disneyland.
Alyja holds dolls wearing her costumes she designed for a parade. These were sold in Tokyo Disneyland.

Interview: Ron Logan (His journey to head of Disney entertainment)

Ron Logan at the Disney Legends ceremony
Ron Logan at the Disney Legends ceremony

From trumpet playing in the 1958 Christmas parade at Disneyland, Ron Logan climbed the ladder to become the executive vice president, executive producer of Walt Disney Entertainment, responsible for all the live entertainment in the entire company.

(Audio index and more photos below)

Ron Logan, Betty Taylor and Dennis Despie at the final performance of the Golden Horseshoe Revue at Disneyland
Ron Logan, Betty Taylor and Dennis Despie at the final performance of the Golden Horseshoe Revue at Disneyland
Ron Logan's windows on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World
Ron Logan’s windows on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World
Ron Logan's fresh handprints in cement after receiving his Disney Legends award
Ron Logan’s fresh handprints in cement after receiving his Disney Legends award

AUDIO INDEX
1:40 Started with Disney in 10th grade in a band headed by Les Brown, Jr.; In 1958, Ron was in the toy soldier band in the Disneyland Christmas parade; Was in the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics playing trumpet; About Disney’s participation in the Olympics; Ron became the leader of the fanfare group for the Olympics and he stayed as a consultant for Disney for 18 years, wrote scripts, worked on half time shows, put bands together for parades and New Year’s Eve and more

6:45 About the Disneyland entertainment department when it was headed by Tommy Walker who was the son of Vesey Walker who headed the Disneyland Band; The start of the Disneyland Band; About Tommy Walker; There were no rules at the time; The entertainment industry was a bawdy industry but brought into a family atmosphere;

10:10 Shows and parades back when Ron started; The entertainment was very professional; Entertainers were not even allowed to wear glasses, rings, watches, and jewelry; Ron demanded top quality entertainment; Ron did not like band members wearing sunglasses, but the union stepped in; Ron demanded quality in the entertainment

12:56 Meeting Walt Disney three times, Walt was very friendly to people and interested in people; A story about Roy Disney when the band decided to “have some fun”; Ron worked for talent booker Sonny Anderson, putting bands for together for various parades and events and was responsible for them

15:58 Ron went from music up the ladder to executive vice president of Walt Disney Entertainment Worldwide; His responsibilities as music director; What being the director of entertainment for Disneyland entailed

19:55 About Disneyland director of entertainment, Bob Jani; Bob discovering Ron during a rehearsal of a fanfare group led to Ron becoming music director in Walt Disney World

22:50 His role as executive vice president of Walt Disney Entertainment Worldwide, responsible for all entertainment in The Walt Disney Company; The day Ron Logan inherited the Mighty Ducks as part of the job; Inherited the Angels the same way; Also responsible for Asia, South America, Europe; The opening of Epcot; Bob Jani did a lot of planning for the grand opening of Epcot, but then Ron inherited that to make sure everything ran properly; Bob came up with the concepts

32:12 Disney was so unique there really wasn’t competition; Bob Jani made Dennis Despie the vice president of entertainment for Disneyland, and Ron was made the director; When Dennis left, Ron took over the job; Becoming Disneyland director of entertainment; Creative side vs. operational side; Training in Japan for Tokyo Disneyland; Big challenges for Euro Disneyland

43:32 Ron’s favorite projects

Interview: Gary Krueger (Disney photographer)

Disney photographer Gary Krueger
Disney photographer Gary Krueger

Gary has been a photographer for Disney since 1967, photographing all of Disney’s theme parks here and abroad, including the grand opening of Walt Disney World and the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Euro Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland and the Disney Cruise Line and events such as many of Disney’s movie premieres including Lion King in London and New York, Pocahontas in Central Park, two Pirates of the Caribbean movies at Disneyland,  Cars at the Charlotte Speedway, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Mickey Mouse in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland, postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Mickey Mouse in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland, postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio and Geppetto in Fantasyland, Disneyland postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio and Geppetto in Fantasyland, Disneyland postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Mickey & MInnie in the American pavilion in Epcot, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Mickey & MInnie in the American pavilion in Epcot, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Polynesia Village Resort, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Polynesia Village Resort, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Tomorrowland attractions, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Tomorrowland attractions, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Pirates of the Caribbean, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Pirates of the Caribbean, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Liberty Square attractions, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Liberty Square attractions, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
The Haunted Mansion, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
The Haunted Mansion, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
The Universe of Energy in Epcot, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
The Universe of Energy in Epcot, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Romantic Mickey and Minnie on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Romantic Mickey and Minnie on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Mickey and the gang in front of Cinderella Castle, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Mickey and the gang in front of Cinderella Castle, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
The Land pavilion in Epcot, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
The Land pavilion in Epcot, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Spaceship Earth in Epcot, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Spaceship Earth in Epcot, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Fireworks seen from the Japan pavilion in Epcot, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Fireworks seen from the Japan pavilion in Epcot, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Mickey and the gang ride the Toontown Jolly Trolley, Disneyland postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Mickey and the gang ride the Toontown Jolly Trolley, Disneyland postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Journey Into Imagination pavilion in Epcot, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Journey Into Imagination pavilion in Epcot, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Italy pavilion in Epcot, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Italy pavilion in Epcot, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
China Pavilion in Epcot, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
China Pavilion in Epcot, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Mickey and Minnie in Mickey's Toontown, Disneyland postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Mickey and Minnie in Mickey’s Toontown, Disneyland postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Country Bear Jamboree, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Country Bear Jamboree, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Streetmosphere in Disney-MGM Studios, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Streetmosphere in Disney-MGM Studios, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
it's a small world, Disneyland postcard photo by Gary Krueger
it’s a small world, Disneyland postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Journey Into Imagination pavilion in Epcot, Walt Disney world postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Journey Into Imagination pavilion in Epcot, Walt Disney world postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Mickey and the gang at Sleeping Beauty Castle, Disneyland postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Mickey and the gang at Sleeping Beauty Castle, Disneyland postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Characters at the Disneyland Railroad, Disneyland postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Characters at the Disneyland Railroad, Disneyland postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Tree of Life in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Tree of Life in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Frontierland attractions, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Frontierland attractions, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Main Street in Disneyland (Dapper Dans: Bill Lewis, Jim Schamp, Shelby Grimm and Jim Campbell, Disneyland postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Main Street in Disneyland (Dapper Dans: Bill Lewis, Jim Schamp, Shelby Grimm and Jim Campbell, Disneyland postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Chip 'n Dale in Mickey's Toontown, Disneylandpostcard photo by Gary Krueger
Chip ‘n Dale in Mickey’s Toontown, Disneylandpostcard photo by Gary Krueger
Minnie and Mickey at The Great Movie Ride, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Minnie and Mickey at The Great Movie Ride, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Mickey & Minnie in Mickey's Toontown, Disneyland postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Mickey & Minnie in Mickey’s Toontown, Disneyland postcard photo by Gary Krueger
it's a small world, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
it’s a small world, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Tree of Life at dusk, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Tree of Life at dusk, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Disney-MGM Studios water tower, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Disney-MGM Studios water tower, Walt Disney World postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Mr. Smee and Captain Hook on the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship, Disneyland postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Mr. Smee and Captain Hook on the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship, Disneyland postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Stan Freese and Mickey Mouse lead the Disneyland Band, Disneyland postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Stan Freese and Mickey Mouse lead the Disneyland Band, Disneyland postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in Fantasyland, Disneyland postcard photo by Gary Krueger
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in Fantasyland, Disneyland postcard photo by Gary Krueger

AUDIO INDEX

1:13 Gary’s start in photography and working for Disney; Getting hired by Walt Disney Imagineering; He quit and then became freelance

3:04 Photographed the opening of Walt Disney World; His photos were used for multimedia shows, slide presentations and much internal use; shooting Disneyland photos

6:49 Hired by Disneyland and Walt Disney Imagineering and some of his other work such as the L.A. Times, Los Angeles magazine and airplane magazines; He photographed an Evil Kneivel jump for Rolling Stone magazine

8:41 Many countries and cities around the world that Gary visited for Disney, including Morocco for presentations regarding the Moroccan pavilion in Epcot, and photographing the opening of Disneyland Paris and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Hong Kong Disneyland and much more

10:11 Gary photographed many movie premieres, including Beauty and the Beast in London or the Pirates of the Caribbean movie at Disneyland; takes hundreds of pictures per event

12:19 Moving into the digital age; Some of Gary’s techniques

17:50 How he was given various assignments, and he would choose the composition, such as for postcards

20:35 Gary’s hands became Abraham Lincoln’s for “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln”

22:49 Waiting for just the right moment for a photo, such as lining up the monorail and submarines

Interview: Gary Dubin (His acting career & voicing Talouse in The Aristocats)

Actor Gary Dubin
Actor Gary Dubin

Actor Gary Dubin began his acting career at the age of six, and went on to appear in numerous movies and television series, including a recurring role as Punky Lazaar in “The Partridge Family,” and voicing the character of kitten Talouse in the 1970 Disney animated feature “The Aristocats” (More photos below)

Gary appears in an episode of Adam 12
Gary appears in an episode of Adam 12
interview-gary-dubin-adam12-close
Close-up of Gary in Adam 12
interview-gary-dubin-aristocats
Gary recording the voice of Talouse in The Aristocats
interview-gary-dubin-paper-chase
Gary Dubin in an episode of The Paper Chase

AUDIO INDEX

:56 How Gary got started in acting at the age of six; Some of the films he appeared in, including his recurring role as Punky Lazaar in “The Partridge Family”

3:47 Auditioning for The Aristocats in 1969 at the age of 10; Being on the Disney lot; Preparing for and recording the songs

5:43 Spending time in studio schools as a child actor

6:15 Getting recognized for his work

Interview: Harriet Burns (Babes in Toyland/Mary Poppins)

Walt Disney and Harriet Burns study a bird
Walt Disney and Harriet Burns study a bird

Harriet Burns worked on some of Disney’s most classic movies, television shows and theme parks, having started on the earliest days of Disneyland and retiring after working on Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland. Harriet often worked on props for Disney movies such as “Babes in Toyland” and “Mary  Poppins.” Primarily a scenic designer/model maker, Harriet ended up involved in much more than what her job typically entailed,  and often appeared on television with Walt Disney.  (See more photos below)

AUDIO INDEX

1:16 Working on “Babes in Toyland”; Working on the big cake for the “Babes in Toyland” cast party, which was a televised as an episode of “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” entitled “Backstage Party”; performing the goose puppet for Mother Goose in the movie and television show

4:26 Working on the robin for the “Spoonful of Sugar” scene in “Mary Poppins”; Obtaining a robin skin from 1893 from the Natural History Museum for authenticity – trading it for Disneyland tickets; Julie Andrews wore a ring that went from the robin to the controls of the mechanical bird; Walt Disney liked to “show off” the bird

Harriet burns sits behind Walt Disney in the "Backstage Party" episode of "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color"
Harriet burns sits behind Walt Disney on the set of the “Babes in Toyland” movie, for the “Backstage Party” episode of “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color”
Mary McCarty appears as Mother Goose as Harriet operates her goose puppet for the close-up camera shots
Mary McCarty appears as Mother Goose as Harriet operates her goose puppet for the close-up camera shots

Interview: Jack Gladish (Creating Jungle Cruise animals)

Jack Gladish, working on "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln" for the World's Fair
Jack Gladish, working on “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” for the World’s Fair

Jack Gladish started his Disney career as a precision camera machinist, working on classic animated films, and he later became an engineer working on attractions for Disneyland and Disney’s exhibits at the 1964 New York World’s Fair and eventually for the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. Some of the projects Jack was involved with throughout the years include Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, the Carousel of Progress, Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, the Jungle Cruise, Adventure Thru Inner Space and much more.

AUDIO INDEX
1:11 The process for creating the Jungle Cruise animals, particularly an elephant; Creating a master mold; How to cure the animals in an oven; Creating the vinyl skins and ensuring they won’t wear from rubbing against the fiberglass shell

Interview: Jay Meyer (Haunted Mansion ghost/Golden Horseshoe performer)

Jay Meyer in Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe
Jay Meyer in Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe

As a singer, Jay Meyer has appeared in countless performances on television, movies and stage. He was a regular singer with the Ray Conniff singers, in the “Top Twenty” choir on the Tennessee Ernie Ford television show, and with the Sportsmen Quartet in the Phil Silvers and Alice Faye show and the Jack Benny show, first on radio, then on television. Jay sang in the chorus on such movies as “Mary Poppins,” “The Sound of Music,” “Annie get your Gun,” “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad,Mad World” and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” He’s appeared in concerts at the Hollywood Bowl with people such as Sammy Davis Jr. and Ray Charles, and in radio and television commercials for companies such as Post cereals, Mattel, Knotts Berry Farm and was seen singing “You Deserve a Break Today” for McDonalds. Jay is also seen and heard as a singing statue in the Disney “Haunted Mansion” attractions around the world. For fourteen years, Jay also appeared live in Disneyland entertaining audiences with Irish tunes in the historical Golden Horseshoe Revue.

HEAR JAY’S INTERVIEW:


SEE JAY IN VARIOUS PERFORMANCES:

ENJOY THESE PHOTOS:

Jay Meyer with a photo of his image in the "Haunted Mansion"
Jay Meyer with a photo of his image in the “Haunted Mansion”
Jay Meyer as a bust in Disney's Haunted Mansion attraction
Jay Meyer as a singing statue in Disney’s Haunted Mansion attraction
Jay Meyer (top) with the Sportsmen Quartet
Jay Meyer (top) with the Sportsmen Quartet
Jay Meyer in a performance of Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe Revue
Jay Meyer in a performance of Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe Revue

AUDIO INDEX
1:19 Jay sings “It’s a Great Day for the Irish”

1:30 Jay’s start as a singer; Played trumpet and was the sole cheerleader at school; Jay joined the Marine Corps; Performed in the Marines

4:37 Jay moved to Los Angeles; Sang with Spike Jones, when Jones’ singer wife was pregnant; Joined the Jack Benny show as part of the Sportsmen
Quartet, including the Lucky Strike commercials

5:47 Jay sings one of the Lucky Strike songs plus clips of the original Lucky Strike commercials

8:29 Working on the Jack Benny Show and the Phil Harris/Alice Faye show; Went to New York and did Summer Stock; His wife, Tommy Meyer was a writer; Came back to California and did films and television

11:14 Jay was called to become a singing statue in the Haunted Mansion; Also did the Golden Horseshoe Revue as Fulton Burley’s substitute; Agreed to do the Horseshoe for six weeks in 1972 and stayed for 14 years

13:20 Jay sings “Too Ra Loo Ral” in a Golden Horseshoe Revue performance at Disneyland

 

Don Dorsey interview – Career (transcription)

Below is the transcribed interview of the Don Dorsey interview regarding IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth at Epcot. To hear the interview and view related content, please visit www.mouseclubhouse.com/interview-don-dorsey

SCOTT WOLF: This is Scott Wolf and this Mouse Clubhouse conversation is with Don Dorsey. Don is a musician, director, producer, and audio engineer whose work for Disney includes everything from musical performances and arrangements to sound design and complete show design and direction for several Disney parks.

I personally first became familiar with Don when I saw him on the Disney Channel in a show about the Main Street Electrical Parade. Don was demonstrating how he performed much of the music in the actual parade soundtrack. It wasn’t until a few years later that I made the connection that it was the same Don Dorsey who arranged and performed a synthesized classical CD I already had in my collection called Bachbusters. His CD was number one on the Billboard classical charts for 14 weeks in 1986 and his second CD, Beethoven or Bust was number one for 24 weeks in 1988.

In this conversation from 2009, Don talks about his start with Disney and working with people like Jack Wagner and Bob Jani, and his involvement in the bicentennial America on Parade.

Because I didn’t originally intend for this conversation to be heard by the public, and I was already familiar with those names, I didn’t ask Don to elaborate for people who may not know. Now that you’ll be hearing this audio, I want to give you a little more detail, so I’m sitting here with Don right now.

First and foremost, who was Jack Wagner?

DON DORSEY: Jack Wagner’s probably best known as the voice of Disneyland. For many years, Jack was heard doing all of the in-park announcements, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, please keep your hands and arms inside the various ride and attraction vehicles. Also, the voice of the Disneyland train announcements. For a long time, the voice of the ticket booths. And Jack was the audio producer for everything the entertainment division created. He was also my mentor. He persuaded Bob Jani to hire me as his personal assistant, and I worked directly with Jack at his home studio for many years.

SW: Right, and you also mentioned Bob Jani in the conversation we’re going to hear.

DD: Bob Jani was the vice president of entertainment at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, up to 1978. He created the Electrical Water Pageant, America on Parade, the Main Street Electrical Parade and later went on to form his own production company and become president of Radio City Music Hall Productions.

SW: I know you mention America on Parade in the conversation, can you set the stage about that parade for people who may not be familiar with it?

DD: America on Parade was one of the largest parades Disney ever produced up until Fantillusion for Tokyo Disneyland. It replaced all parades at Disneyland for 1975 and 1976 while we were celebrating the bicentennial, America’s bicentennial.

There was a special overture tune for America on Parade, written by the Sherman Brothers, called “The Glorious Fourth,” and that played as an overture before the parade arrived. The rest of the America on Parade music was me and Sadie Mae. Sadie Mae was a mechanical musical instrument that we call a band organ. It has flutes and pipes and drums and whistles and plays itself from basically large player piano rolls.

SW: Yeah, that’s very cool. And one last thing, before we get to the conversation. You briefly mention Jack’s announcement for the Electrical Parade. Is that the one that had the electronic voice?

DD: Yes, that’s the one. In thousands of sparkling lights and electrosynthemagnetic musical sounds.

SW: Well, thanks, Don! Now, here’s my conversation with Don Dorsey from 2009.

DD: When I got out of high school, I bought the Minimoog with money from my mother and just started learning it inside out and doing recordings at home, and I had a four track recorder and I would do multiple parts and mix them together and then overdub that and so on. So I was teaching myself multitrack recording and learning about recording.

Because I had a synthesizer all my friends from high school who had bands were very interested in that. So if they were going to go in the studio and make a demo tape, then I would come in and bring my synthesizer and add the synthesizer tracks to their demo tape, and sort of produce the session, work with them in the studio because I had more recording experience.

I worked out of this one studio in Santa Ana called United Audio. The engineer there was Bob Stone. Bob Stone was sort of a mentor in that as he was engineering I would ask a lot of questions and he would teach me. So as I did more and more recording sessions there and got to know the engineering a little better, and got to know Bob a little better and he saw that I was interested and capable, we got to be friends. At some point, and I don’t remember what the session or occasion was, but at some point he got called out of the room on a phone call and he was gone for a long, long time, and the musicians who were paying by the hour were getting antsy, and I just said, “Well, I know how to press record,” so I moved over into Bob’s chair, and I pressed record and I’m flying the session. Then, when Bob came back I said, “Here you go,” and he said, “No, no, you’re okay.” Then he sat and coached me from the producer’s chair and I was engineering.

So I had this engineering background and as I worked with more and more friend groups and so on, I would buy – the studio time I think was 75 dollars an hour or something. The studio wasn’t doing very well. As I was needing more and more studio time, and people were tied up for money, I would go to him and I would say, “If I pay you cash for 10 hours, can I get a discount?” And so we had this ongoing thing, I would buy in bulk the studio time, which would keep his studio busy and he would have cash. So I got some great deals on studio time, so I was able to find projects that I wanted to record and since I could now engineer, I didn’t have to have the engineer there, he didn’t have to pay the engineer, so it worked for him, it worked for me. So I brought people in and we produced demo tapes and stuff and I got more engineering jobs and so on.
Meanwhile, I was going to Cal State Fullerton, in the music department, I was a music major at the time and I was doing music copying and transcribing and stuff. Jose Feliciano opened a studio in Orange, on Tustin Avenue, and somebody said, “Oh, he’s got the studio, we should really go check it out. So we went down there, we opened the door and walked in, and it’s a big, empty, professional studio and finally we found the control room door and walked in.

There was a guy in there, his name was Bobby Thomas, and he was the engineer. And we started talking to him and he found out I had the synthesizer and he said, “Oh, why don’t you bring it to the studio,” so I brought it to the studio and we ended up staying up all night and recording a track of a piece that I had written. He played drums. What happened was he said, “Let’s record something,” and he set up the machine and everything and he went out and set up the drums and I stayed in the control room and played bass on the synthesizer to his drums and we just sort of laid down a rhythm thing and then he came back and we did overdubs and overdubs and overdubs, and that was how we got to be friends.

Somehow a connection was made, I’m very fuzzy on how this happened, between me and the Moog company. They had a local sales rep in L.A. and Orange County areas I guess, or southern California area or something. And maybe I contacted them with the idea of doing demos and making some money. That’s probably what happened is I sought them out and I said, “I’ve got a machine, can I work for you guys?” give demonstrations or whatever and they said yes, we’ll set you up with some schools and you can go give demonstrations.

I know I did a couple of those, but through knowing that representative of Moog, Jack Wagner also knew him and after Paul Beaver passed away, Jack asked this guy, “Do you know anybody else who knows how to program a Moog synthesizer, or has one?” He said, “Yeah, there’s this guy in Fullerton, his name is Don.” I got a call from Jack and he said, “I hear you’ve got a Moog synthesizer and we want to rent it for a project we’re doing at Disneyland.” And all they needed it for was to do a click track, but they wanted to rent it from me to do that and then in exchange, Jack gave me some recording tape. We had a swap kind of a deal. But we got to talking and he got to hear some of the stuff that I had been doing, but that was kind of like a one shot deal.

Then in 1973 – I think it was ’73, it might be ’74, I had my Minimoog and I had been writing half time shows for my high school marching band while I was in college. I’m doing all these odd jobs to earn money, I’m doing lead sheets for Jose Feliciano, I’m writing children’s musicals for Nancy Ebsen (Buddy Ebsen’s wife), I’m producing bands in the studio and repackaging studio time, I’m learning engineering. I’m all over the map.

SW: You were a teenager?

DD: Yeah, 18, 19, 20.

We did two seasons of halftime shows for my high school marching band. What I did was I took popular commercial tunes, you know, from TV commercials, and orchestrated them for the band and then they did a halftime show of commercial tunes. Those were the first orchestrations that I ever did, that was kind of my learning ground for that. I studied it in college but we didn’t have practical ways to do it other than exercises for the class, so I was doing it on the outside to learn about that.

So we had two great seasons of that, the third season, I came back and I said, “I want to do a halftime show with a synthesizer in it,” and the music director kind of looked funny and said, “How do we do that?” Wires, and amplifiers, and cables on the field, and you can’t march. I said, “I don’t know, we’ll figure that out.” He said, “I don’t know, maybe, maybe not. Maybe that’s not for us.” But I had the bug and so I went to Fullerton College, which was at that time called Fullerton Junior College, they had a marching band, and I had known their band director because he was the assistant conductor for the Orange County Youth Philharmonic that I played tympani in. I said, “I’ve got this idea, why don’t we do this synthesizer thing,” and he said, “You know what, the whole field thing is complicated, but if you would like to do one of our regular concerts, as like a guest soloist, that’s a cool idea and we would do that.”

So they commissioned me to write an arrangement for the concert band and synthesizer solo, which I did, and I chose a piece by Emerson, Lake & Palmer called “Abaddon’s Bolero,” which was basically, it was a lead line melody over increasing rhythm. It’s like a bolero. But it was something that because Moog’s at that time, you could play one note at a time, it was doable with the gear. So I called up this Moog rep and I borrowed a second synthesizer which was a bigger one with patch cables and everything, and we did the concert. While I was playing one instrument, I was setting up the program on the other one for the next verse and then I would play this one while I was reprogramming this one so that we could keep going. So I actually had two synthesizers going.

I don’t know if Jack read in the newspaper about that on his own or if I called him or sent him a clipping or something, but he came to that concert, and it was after that concert when he said, “I think we may have a job for you.” Then I didn’t hear from him again for a long time. It was late ’74 when he called and said, “We’ve got this America on Parade thing coming up, would you be interested in doing the synthesizer work on that?” And that eventually came to be and I got five dollars and hour, went to Jack’s house, set up the synthesizers in his dining room. The 16 track recorder was brought in and we did all of the stuff there. In addition, to overlaying the synthesizer on the band organ, I had to do other things.

For the track “Dearie” there had to be tap dancing, so I said, “I know what tap dancing sounds like,” we got some tap shoes and I just faked it with my hands, and later when that track hit the street, we had people comment, “Who’s the dancing? It sounds pretty cool.” I thought, “Oh, we fooled them!” But I played banjo, the sailing ship was the piano bench from my mom’s house that creaked and we brought it in and I squeezed it until it creaked just right, and we slowed it down so it made this old creaky wood ship sound. We were doing lots of inventing musical sonic storytelling in Jack’s dining room, and having a blast.

SW: It was a band organ initially…

DD: Yes, the idea was always to combine the authentic traditional band organ sound with new electronic sound and create what Bob Jani called “The Great American Music Box.” When Bob said, “That’s what I want,” that’s when Jack said, “Oh, I know the guy,” and they got me to do that.

SW: Had the band organ already been recorded?

DD: When he first contacted me, I don’t know if it had or not, but there was a while… I started in January of ’75, and I believe that they recorded the band organ in October or November in Nashville. The “books,” the punched music for those arrangements, Jim Christensen did the arrangements, basically a sketch arrangement, sent it over to Belgium, where the guy who creates the arrangement for that machine and punches the books lives. Then they send back the books. The books meet up with the machine in Nashville. They played them and recorded them.

SW: When you say “punches,” it’s like a music box?

DD: It’s like a piano roll except it’s on cardboard so it flip flops. It folds back and forth to create a stack, which is why they call it a book. It’s a big, heavy book. It’s about 15 inches tall and about five or six inches wide, and then depending on the length of the arrangement it could be anywhere from an inch to a couple inches thick. And it just feeds into the machine and comes out the other end and stacks itself back up.

SW: The band organ had the drums, and…

DD: It had the drums, and the bells and the horns and the snare and all those things. They sent the guy in Belgium a description of “here are the things on this machine and the ranges that it has, here’s the tune we want, here’s our idea for the structure of the arrangement, the baseline and the chords and all that.” And then he did what he does, which is orchestrate for band organ, create the thing, and send it back.

Nowadays, the music director would go and work with him in great detail. In those days, it was like, well, there’s one guy who does this so I guess we’ll just send him what we want and we’ll get what we get. It was really quite primitive. And one of the arrangements that we got back, I don’t remember off the top of my head which song it was, but there was one song where he had done like four choruses in a row and there was no verse. And so Jim Christensen was like, “We have to create a verse somehow,” so I said, “I can synthesize the band organ, I can fake enough of the band organ sound, so let’s just splice in some blank tape between the choruses and then I’ll record over the whole thing and then we’ll have that piece. So that’s what we did, and this was two inch tape, so these are big splices that we’re making. But, what I did was we got the tempo and then I recorded blank tape with clicks on it so we could count the beats, and then counted off as many beats as we needed, and cut it there and spliced it in, made up fake band organ sounds and duplicated it as best as we could.

The story’s kind of jumping around a little bit with the Moog guy and all that. Fullerton College actually had me come back a second year and reprise the performance and it may have been the second performance that Jack saw, I don’t recall, because I didn’t keep a journal in those days. I didn’t start keeping a journal until ’85, and it has been so good to have since then. I wish I had it for my early days.

So that’s how Jack and I got hooked up, but during the process of America on Parade, going back to the engineering part of this, at some point we had all this stuff recorded and Jack said, “Bob wants to hear it, we want to play it on the street on a mock-up of the sound system to hear what it sounds like. We need to go the studio and mix this,” and I said, “Oh! I’ve got a studio that I work at, I can get you cheap studio time, and I can engineer it,” and he goes, “Oh! Okay!” So we trundled down to United Audio and we did the mixes and we went back to Main Street and played them on Main Street for Bob and Bob said, “These are great! These are fine!” So Jack said, “Well, I guess you’re the engineer!”

We kept some of those first mixes, and then as we produced more stuff, then I was just the mix guy, and that whole parade was wrapped up and I helped them master the phonograph record. We went to record “The Glorious Fourth,” and I didn’t engineer that, but I was there, observing.

SW: And that was not the band organ, that was the song that was played before…

DD: That was part of the intro. Yes. And I got to play the “whoopee” whistle. It was at Warner Bros. that we recorded the orchestra, in the big scoring stage, and recorded the whole band and I got to play the “whoopee” whistle. I don’t know if it didn’t come out during the original recording or what, but I got to overdub it. They brought in vocalists and we mixed that then I went back to Jack’s and helped him with the production of it because there was narration and there was band organ music under it and there was “The Glorious Fourth” song. It was like seven and a half minutes or 7:35, something like that, and it was supposed to play to end at each zone as the parade arrived. So there was this timing issue which nobody had really thought much about yet, when the parade was going to launch.

So we finished all of the material for America on Parade, and my job was done. You know, great, thank you, we’ve got our soundtrack, we’ve got everything produced. And I thought, this is the biggest thing I’ve ever done, I want to see it open. And the opening was going to be in Florida, Walt Disney World. So I asked Jack, I said, you know, “Could I go?” and he said, “Well, as long as you pay your own way. If you want you can stay with me, and you can like be my assistant and drive me around, in fact you can go two days early and hand carry the master tapes because I’ve got things to do and that will save me two days.” So I bought myself a plane ticket to Florida and carried the master tapes down there. Showed up and Tom Durrell who was the chief audio engineer took me to Studio D and showed me that, and got the master tapes from me and all that.

During the week or two weeks of rehearsal and staging I was driving Jack around and following Bob Jani and watching how parades were produced and what happened at a rehearsal and coordinating all this stuff, and just soaking it all up.

After that whole experience and the parade opened, I flew home, but Jack and Bob flew back together and Jack told Bob he wanted to hire me full time as his assistant, and Bob said okay. So they gave me a contract and it was my job to report to Jack’s house every day at ten in the morning and work with Jack until he said we were done, which was usually about four, with an hour off for lunch, an hour and a half off for lunch, to work with him producing tapes, and seguing music and editing stuff and running errands to Bob’s office and back.

SW: What types of things were you working?

DD: Editing character voice tracks, editing announcements, he did a lot of character voices for the studio back then, we did the fireworks show music tracks…

One of the other things we did in Florida on that first trip actually was, and this is also before Jack got there, I’d forgotten about this, but one of the things he was supposed to do in Florida was to art direct a photography session for the Steel Drum Band for an album cover, because Jack was trying to produce albums that the park could sell. And I got there and we set up the drums and everything and I’m kind of like art directing the photography of the cover until Jack got there.

There’s also a great memory in a production meeting at Bob’s townhouse after rehearsal, and this is like two in the morning, or three in the morning or something. Bob was always so clean and proper and he had a white suit for Florida and white shoes and he was just always impeccably dressed. Mister polite, Mister organized, and there was the production team of ten or twelve people we were sitting around in his townhouse having a meeting and he got up at one point and said, “I baked a cherry pie!” And he goes to the kitchen which is right there and he tries to pull the pie out of the oven and actually flips and goes face down on the floor and it splatters all over his white suit and we’re all just like, “Oh no! This can’t have happened to Bob! How horrible!” And we’re kind of waiting to see what he does and he just kind of looks at it and goes, “I’ll deal with that tomorrow.” Came back and sat down and pretended like it never happened.

I was doing everything that Jack was doing, and he was teaching me editing and when do you leave a breath in, when do you take it out, pacing, how do you deal with presentations for executives, basically just being his right hand guy. And then when there was a recording session, I got to engineer it.

SW: He put a lot of trust in you, he just got of found you in a college.

DD: Well, he found me, but the whole America on Parade process took six months, you know, and we were working together every day for six months. He saw my musical aptitude, he saw my technical aptitude, he saw that I was willing to learn and to learn from him, you know. I brought knowledge to his realm that he didn’t have, the whole technical thing, you know, how do you align a tape machine, I don’t know that he had ever aligned his tape machines with a test tape, so I was able to say let’s get a test tape, let’s make sure your machines are clean, demagnitized, everything sounds good. I brought him another level of expertise to his production facility and he brought his experience and knowledge to mine. So in that respect it was a great time of learning and being able to contribute and help.

Because I was his guy, I was in big meetings with top people, seeing it all, learning it all, because when we left the meeting we had to go do what it was that was there, and if Jack had other stuff he had to be doing I could be editing music while he was recording announcements. If errands had to be run, I could be running errands while he was doing stuff, so he was more productive because I was available.

We did slide shows for the studio for marketing, it was not all glorious parade big stuff, it was a lot of daily things. Sometimes we were actually physically making announcement cartridges, cutting the tape loop and stuffing it in the plastic box and sending it off to the park, all out of his house.

SW: So you’re next big thing would be Electrical Parade?
DD: Actually, it was the Electrical Water Pageant.

SW: Yeah, how did that come to be?

DD: There was a company called E-mu, that brought a big synthesizer down to Disneyland to give a demonstration, and I think Sonny Anderson brought them in. We got a bunch of the music department and entertainment people together and they gave a demo of this big synthesizer. Of course, I was fascinated and everybody else was, “Oh, that’s cool.” Synthesizers were still relatively new and strange and here was this big box with a lot of patch holes on it.

I got to talking to the guys who built it. There was a tour going out on the road and I don’t know exactly how this idea came up, but the idea came up that maybe instead of sending a band with the tour, we can prerecord the music on the tour. And then from there it got to the point, well, “Could you do it all on this synthesizer?”

SW: A tour for like maybe promoting an upcoming film?

DD: Promoting an event or something. I think it was Space Mountain opening. Maybe that’s why the idea of the synthesizer seemed…

SW: That would make sense. It could sound spacey, futuristic.

DD: Yeah, that kind of sounds like it makes sense. So we made a deal with these guys to let me take that synthesizer home so that I could record this tour, and I did, and I have pictures of me with it in my house, and I recorded the tour.

Meanwhile, we found out that the musicians union, if you’re not taking live musicians on a tour, you have to pay as if you were taking live musicians on a tour. So I ended up making a lot of money by recording this track in my house and then everywhere they performed I got a check. So things were looking good for me, and then the Electrical Water Pageant came up, and Bob Jani said, “Have Don do that,” and so Jim and I worked it out, Jim wrote a theme or two and I did the synthesizer stuff and we recorded it in Jack’s dining room, just like that.

While the Water Pageant was going on, and the Electrical Parade was going to be coming back, I wanted to do the Electrical Parade. So I was working at home, figuring out what I wanted to do to it, just playing and doing tracks and demos and stuff for myself and got the idea to do this opening, and created the whole opening fanfare idea, and then brought that to Jack and Jim and Bob and said, “Here’s some stuff I’ve done, what do you think?” And they liked it and they said, “That’s great! You do that, too!” So, now I’m the guy and we set everything up, I think we still had stuff set up from the Water Pageant in Jack’s dining room so I just continued on and did the Electrical Parade tracks at that point.

SW: Had that ever been done, as far as having an introduction that was timed with the loop so it perfectly goes in to it?

DD: No. I invented that.

SW: Really?

DD: Yeah, it’s become, it’s a Disney signature. We call that the opening window, because in the music loop, the main loop is continuous music, the opening has a little bit of the same music so that you can switch without knowing and then it’s silent, and then you have the beginning. So you “open the window” when it’s silent and then you hear the beginning and it loops around and then you make a switch to the thing which matches perfectly but you don’t hear it because it matches perfectly. That’s what I invented, and to this day that’s how we do things.

SW: Was the parade changed, other than the additions of your music?

DD: Yes, because some of the things that had been 2D were made into 3D. There was actually quite a bit of 3D in the first parade. People like to think the first parade was all 2D.

SW: Right, that it was just a big, flat parade.

DD: No, it wasn’t. The Blue Fairy was 3D, and the Chinese Dragon was this big 3D thing that went down the street. And I think Small World was very similar both before and after. Because there isn’t good footage of the entire parade, it’s hard to tell exactly. But, generally that’s the distinction that people try to make is, well, it was 2D and it became 3D. It actually just became more efficient in terms of the battery power and fewer cables.

SW: What were the new tracks that you did?

DD: The year it came back, the opening, Blue Fairy, Alice in Wonderland was new, Cinderella was old, Dumbo was old, Pete’s Dragon was new. Was Pete’s Dragon that first year? Yeah, that was ’77. Small World was old, and Patriotic Finale was old. All things considered, there wasn’t a whole pile of new stuff, but the way that I had redone the underliner gave it a new peppy, punchy sound, and the opening created a whole different mindset to it.

SW: And closing as well?

DD: The closing came later because the closing… we didn’t need a closing until we did the Orange Bowl halftime, and we needed an ending.

SW: It used to just fade out?

DD: Yeah. I think the Orange Bowl halftime was January ’78. They were going to take all these floats to the Orange Bowl and it was a Pete’s Dragon/Florida/Electrical Parade promotion. And there were clips from the film, one showing Alice falling down the rabbit hole, so I had to do a little synthesized intro that led into the Alice music and then I had to do a tag for Alice that ended it. But these were straight through linear pieces of music, there was no looping or anything involved. You start a cue and you play it and it ends. But I had to kind of match sounds so we could edit in to what we already had. We did main Electrical Parade theme, and then we did the Alice section, and then it was a big Pete’s Dragon thing that had to go on for three or four minutes. So I had to create an opening for Pete’s Dragon and then I had to create three variations on the loop that kept building so that it could be long enough. Then I had to create an ending for Pete’s Dragon, and then I think the closing was just a fanfare standalone piece to button the show, and then Bob later said, “Take the ending of the main Blue Fairy thing, that just ends and wraps up, and now tack this fanfare on the back and let’s use that in the park.” So that became not just an end stop but an end fanfare thing to bring the lights back on. So that’s when we put that in, and the very first year that the parade came back, Jack’s voice was not synthesized. It was just his announcement. Then Battlestar Galactica came on TV, and I said, “Oh, I’d like to do that for the voice.” So then we got the vocoder and I think it was ’78 or ’79 when we added the vocoder voice, which everybody thinks has been there from day one, but it actually wasn’t.

SW: It wasn’t even there from day one of the new version.

DD: No, it was added. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

SW: Was it his original announcement before that?

DD: It was the same words. Yes. And it’s interesting that that particular verbiage turned out to be so musical.