How Country Bear Musical Jamboree Is Adding a Country Twist to Classic Disney Songs

By Zach Johnson

Guests will be in for a knee-slappin’ good time when the reimagined Country Bear Musical Jamboree opens Wednesday, July 17, at Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort. Inside the rustic Grizzly Hall, Audio-Animatronic®hillbilly bears will perform a medley of original and classic songs that, for the first time, includes a trio of countryfied Disney tunes.

The transformation of Country Bear Jamboree—one of the last attractions Walt Disney personally helped develop—was announced at Destination D23 in September 2023, and Disney Imagineers have been hard at work ever since to revitalize the attraction for guests.

“It was an honor to work on a show with such a legacy. It’s a show that means a lot to a lot of people, including myself,” said Jake Ellis, Principal Audio Media Designer, Walt Disney Imagineering. “One of the first memories I have at Walt Disney World was sitting on my mom’s lap in the back row at Grizzly Hall and watching the Country Bears perform.”

Big Al and Wendell debut costumes for Country Bear Musical Jamboree: an stitched vest and a handkerchief. They are standing on a red carpet in front of a red curtain.

In approaching the refresh, Ellis went on, “We knew that we wanted to keep the ethos of the bears, but we also wanted to rethink the songs in a way that was more diverse and had multigenerational appeal. Where better to look than the Disney catalog for those songs?”

With that in mind, Disney Imagineers turned to a few country music stars, including Mac McAnally for “The Bare Necessities” from The Jungle Book, Emily Ann Roberts for “Try Everything” from Zootopia, and Allison Russel and Chris Thile for “A Whole New World” from Aladdin. The show will feature twangin’ interpretations of Disney songs in various genres of country music, including Americana, bluegrass, pop-country, rockabilly, and more.

Brett Swain, Director of Music Production, The Walt Disney Company, worked with each artist to reinterpret the songs. “He spun them up in this really fun way,” Ellis said. “I’m excited for my 3-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter to sit on my lap so I can introduce them to the Bears in their new form, and we’re excited for guests to experience the show.”

Emily Ann Roberts records "Try Everything" for Country Bears Musical Jamboree.

Roberts, who lends her vocals to Trixie St. Claire, shares his excitement.

“It’s so crazy seeing Trixie singing with my voice coming out,” Roberts said. “It’s something that I never, ever dreamed would be a reality in my life. And she just looks so cute! I could not be more thrilled with how everything turned out, and I’m so honored to be a part of it.”

Roberts’ rendition of “Try Everything” may sound different than the original recording, but its message remains the same. “Y’all can tell by the way I talk that I don’t sound anything like Shakira,” she said with a laugh. “When I was approached to record the song for Country Bear Musical Jamboree, I thought, ‘OK, we’re going to really have to put our East Tennessee into this.’ When I heard the new [country arrangement], it was so easy for me to get in the zone. I was so excited when I got into the studio and everybody told me to just sing it the way I would. I got to lean into my Appalachian and country music roots and just let her fly.”

“It’s been so neat being able to work with all these other incredible folks who are lending their voices and their talents to the Country Bear Musical Jamboree,” Roberts continued. “Everybody brings something different to the table, and that’s what makes it so cool. We have our own influences, and we’re all coming together to make something really special.”

QUIZ: Tell Us Your Favorite Pixar Core Memories, and We’ll Tell You Which Movie to Watch Next

By Cecilia Sarantopoulos

From their unforgettable score to their meaningful insights on life, love, and friendship, Pixar movies have left an indelible mark on our hearts and minds. Each film brims with wisdom and memorable characters that resonate deeply with both the young and the young at heart.

With Inside Out 2 premiering on June 14 and continuing this cherished legacy, what better time than now to discover which Pixar movie perfectly aligns with your favorite core memories of these beloved franchises?

Take our quiz to find out which film you should watch next, based on the Pixar moments that have touched you the most!

You reach for the Kleenex box when this song plays:

You have a soft spot for this parent:

You can’t get enough of this iconic duo:

You dream of one day visiting:

Your partner in crime, without a doubt, is:

This made you hungry:

These two made your standards soar:

The Pixar villain that gave you chills

The character arc that left a mark on you:

This sequel couldn’t have come sooner:

QUIZ: Tell Us Your Favorite Pixar Core Memories, and We’ll Tell You Which Movie to Watch Next
Turning Red

In a scene from Turning Red, Meilin “Mei” Lee, (voiced by Rosalie Chiang) transformed into a red panda, clings desperately to a railing attached to a brick building that is detaching and about to plummet to the ground. Behind the frightened red panda are similar brick buildings and a blue sky with some clouds.

You appreciate the heartfelt and nostalgic moments in Pixar films. Turning Red will resonate with your love for strong emotional connections and coming-of-age stories!
Inside Out 2

In a scene from Inside Out 2, from left to right, Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Embarrassment (voiced by Paul Walter), Envy (voiced by Ayo Edebiri), Anxiety (voiced by Maya Hawke), Disgust (voiced by Liza Lapira), Anger (voiced by Lewis Black), Fear (voiced by Tony Hale), and Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith) are standing behind the cream Headquarters console. Anxiety stands at the center of the group, nervously glancing toward Disgust, Anger, Fear, and Sadness, who are observing Anxiety with curiosity.

You are drawn to the complexities of emotions and the beauty of personal growth. Inside Out 2 will captivate you with its exploration of the heart and mind. Catch it in theaters on June 14!
Luca

In a scene from the movie Luca, Italian boys Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer), left, and Luca (voiced by Jacob Tremblay), right, are sitting on wooden planks built in a tree. Both gaze up at the stars, their expressions filled with wonder. Alberto sports a yellow tunic top paired with brown cargo pants, while Luca wears a white checkered flannel top with blue streaks and blue Bermuda shorts. String lights gracefully drape across branches, casting a soft glow. The backdrop showcases a starry night sky overlooking the sea.

You have a love for friendships, adventure, and charming, picturesque settings. Luca will delight you with its story of an unforgettable summer and Luca and Alberto’s friendship!
Soul

In a scene from Soul, Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx) stands in front of The Half Note, a jazz club with a green exterior and a red awning. A marquee above the club’s window announces, “Now appearing: The Dorothea Williams Quartet.” Joe is holding a briefcase and pointing up at a neon sign for the club.

You are fascinated by life’s big questions and the journey of self-discovery. Soul will inspire you with its profound exploration of purpose and passion!

The Making of a Classic: The Story Behind the Dead Poets Society

By Taylor Larsen, Walt Disney Archives  

Have you ever had a teacher who inspired you to think outside the box? To question the traditional path and choose your way to “great deeds, great loves, and great passion?” Perhaps it wasn’t a teacher but a trusted group of friends, colleagues, or family members who enabled you to take charge of your desires and discover not only yourself, but also the right path. Whether you’re fresh out of high school, still in it, or years out, each of us can remember the sometimes-uncomfortable journey it is to be on the road to adolescence—growing older and facing your fears. Such a teacher or friend can play a crucial role during that stage of life… someone who encourages you and gets you out of your shell. Now imagine having the dearly beloved Disney Legend Robin Williams take on the role of your high school English teacher, who makes it his mission to inspire you to be an agent who acts rather than be acted upon. What an incredible journey that would be! And if ever there was a group of young teenage friends who knew a thing or two about influential English teachers, it would be the students of Welton Academy.

Disney Legend Robin Williams as John Keating poses for a production photo from Dead Poets Society, dressed in a red sweater and holding the book “Five Centuries of Verse” in the classroom setting. The seven main students sit around him, wearing their school uniforms
Disney Legend Robin Williams, as Professor John Keating, poses for a Dead Poets Society production photo, in a classroom setting. Keating holds the book “Five Centuries of Verse,” a source of inspiration for the “Dead Poets Society” group in the film. Dylan Kussman as Richard Cameron, and Josh Charles as Knox Overstreet, sit on the far left near the window, while James Waterston as Gerard Pitts and Allelon Ruggiero as Steven Meeks also appear on the left. On the right of the photo are Robert Sean Leonard as Neil Perry, Gale Hansen as Charlie Dalton, and Ethan Hawke as Todd Anderson.

As we commemorate the 35th anniversary of Touchstone Pictures’ Dead Poets Society, with the help of the Walt Disney Archives, we are granted a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the making of this unforgettable story and the process of finding the perfect set of actors to play the beloved students of Welton. Plus, take a peek at one of the movie’s most beloved props: the book of poetry used in the film.

Dead Poets Society takes place in the fall of 1959 at the fictional Welton Academy, a secluded and traditionally boys’ school in the tranquil hills of Vermont. It follows several students on their academic journey with a new English teacher, whose ideas about learning inspire them to pursue their passions and explore new horizons of self-expression, discovering the excitement of a world outside Welton’s strict curriculum. Professor John Keating, played by Williams—an alum of the school—defies the academy’s authorities and disapproving parents by daring to teach lessons that can’t be found in textbooks. Professor Keating is more than an instructor; he is a presence that will remain in his students’ (and audiences’) lives for years to come. To borrow a phrase from the film’s 1990 Oscar® nomination campaign, “In 1989, there was one movie that made you laugh, made you cry, and made you care.” Indeed, it does all three. Among numerous accolades, Dead Poets Society was nominated for four Golden Globes® and four Academy Awards®, winning for Best Screenplay.

A behind-the-scenes photo from Dead Poets Society, outside at St. Andrew’s School on a sunny fall day, showcasing the camera crew and actors as they walk alongside Disney Legend Robin Williams while filming an outdoor scene. The boys are in their school uniforms and Williams is dressed in slacks, a white shirt, and a tie with a green suit jacket.
A behind-the-scenes photo from Dead Poets Society, showing St. Andrew’s School in Middletown, Delaware, the setting for Welton Academy.

The process of bringing Welton Academy to life began in November 1988. After scouting more than 70 universities and private schools nationwide, the filmmakers decided to use St. Andrew’s School in Middletown, Delaware. Production designer Wendy Stites called St. Andrew’s “a set-dresser’s dream.” It was founded in 1930 by A. Felix du Pont and was an immediate source of inspiration. The icing on the cake for director Peter Weir was the school’s dining hall mural, painted by acclaimed American artist N.C. Wyeth. When Weir saw it, he knew he would have to use it in the film’s opening credits. Filming at St. Andrew’s was done primarily over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays to avoid disrupting the school’s academic schedule. The production team also built a replica classroom on a sound stage near Wilmington to shoot all of Keating’s classroom scenes.

Aside from the stone-walled, tranquil St. Andrew’s School, entire Delaware towns took a step back in time as filming began. Storefronts were transformed, with all modern conveniences removed. The film held two open casting calls and used more than 3,000 extras, all of whom underwent makeovers to recreate the more reserved styles of 1959.

Disney Legend Robin Williams poses in front of a mural at St. Andrew’s School in Middletown, Delaware, the setting for Welton Academy, painted by N.C. Wyeth, that showcases schoolboys. Williams is dressed in classic academic black robes and a red tie and is holding a book by Shakespeare.
A Dead Poets Society production photo of Disney Legend Robin Williams, as John Keating, posing in front of the N.C. Wyeth mural at the St. Andrew’s School in Middletown, Delaware, the setting for Welton Academy.

Screenwriter Tom Schulman penned the original story in 1985, and a year later, producer Steven Haft optioned the script. Schulman’s own experiences attending private school partially influenced the story, adding a personal touch to the film’s narrative. The filmmakers launched a search for an actor to play the charismatic and free-spirited John Keating. Haft was convinced that the unconventional thinking and originality Williams brought to all his roles made him a natural fit.

Incidentally, as a younger boy, Williams attended a traditional private school similar to Welton. He recalled that “the whole story itself attracted me, not just the character,” including the film’s time setting… as well as Keating’s philosophy about teaching—to push the envelope and take a chance, even though others may disagree; and to find an authentic and creative voice of your own, which mimicked Williams’ own approach to life. The actor also remarked on how so many have had at least one teacher like Keating they remember: “What they give you is something you take with you the rest of your life.”

A Dead Poets Society behind-the-scenes photo of director Peter Weir (right) addressing a young Ethan Hawke (left), who plays Todd Anderson, and Robin Williams’ John Keating, sitting on a table next to a globe (middle). They are all in the classroom with a window on the left.
A behind-the-scenes photo of director Peter Weir (right) addressing a young Ethan Hawke (left), who plays Todd Anderson, and Disney Legend Robin Williams’ John Keating (middle), during filming of Dead Poets Society.

Dead Poets Society is a compelling story about courage and self-awakening, and the filmmakers sought a director who could balance the film’s intellectual concerns with the story’s extraordinary characters. Acclaimed Australian filmmaker Weir remembers, “I was getting ready to board a plane back to Australia when I was handed the script.” Although he rarely read scripts on planes, he thought the title Dead Poets Society was intriguing, and before he knew it, he was deep in the pages of the screenplay. Like Williams, Weir also attended a private school during the 1950s, identifying with the fictional cast of characters in the film.

Welton Academy is showcased as a resolute and privileged school, a rigid establishment where the students are taught to keep their noses to the grindstone to become doctors, lawyers, or MBA candidates. The story is far less about Keating than a handful of impressionable boys who become swept up in the English teacher’s challenging of the policies and practices at Welton, encouraging them to stop and smell the roses. Williams explained that his character is just a catalyst: “The real story of this film is the boys.” Williams’ character sparks the boys’ interest in reviving a clandestine club for which Keating had been a founding member, the Dead Poets Society. The members of this society meet at midnight in a cave to recite poetry from a book called “Five Centuries of Verse.” They even compose poetry of their own.

The cast of Dead Poets Society poses in a classroom for a production photo. Gale Hansen as Charlie Dalton appears on the left, wearing grey sweatpants and a grey sweater, seated next to him, Allelon Ruggiero as Steven Meeks wears glasses and an argyle red sweater. Disney Legend Robin Williams as John Keating in the center middle is seen wearing a white-collar shirt with a red and blue striped tie. Ethan Hawke as Todd Anderson is next on the right, and wears a blue crewneck sweater, with Dylan Kussman as Richard Cameron next to him wearing a sleeveless V-neck dark gray sweater and a red and blue tie. To the right is James Waterston as Gerard Pitts who wears a blue crewneck sweater, with Josh Charles as Knox Overstreet on the far right, wearing a red sweater with a white “W” on the front. At the bottom right is Robert Sean Leonard as Neil Perry who wears a dark gray sweater and white-collared shirt that is unbuttoned at the collar.
An on-set production photo from Dead Poets Society, featuring the boys of Welton Academy and their teacher, John Keating. From left to right: Gale Hansen as Charlie Dalton; Allelon Ruggiero as Steven Meeks; Disney Legend Robin Williams as John Keating; Ethan Hawke as Todd Anderson; Dylan Kussman as Richard Cameron; James Waterston as Gerard Pitts; Josh Charles as Knox Overstreet; and Robert Sean Leonard as Neil Perry.

The production team auditioned over 500 actors nationwide before casting the official Dead Poets Society. A central character is the hardworking honors student and group leader Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard), who dreams of becoming an actor but is suppressed and pressured by his father—who plans out his son’s life in advance, insisting that he go to Harvard to become a doctor. Then there’s Neil’s new roommate, the tongue-tied writer Todd Anderson, portrayed by Ethan Hawke, who is so shy that he freezes with fear when required to speak in front of the other students. One of Dead Poets Society’s most poignant elements is the friendship between these two protagonists.

The film’s exceptional cast also includes Gale Hansen as Charlie Dalton, a wise-cracking troublemaker; Josh Charles as Knox Overstreet, a love-struck romantic; Dylan Kussman as Richard Cameron, a member of the group who seems to only look out for himself; James Waterston as Gerard Pitts, a lanky eccentric; and Allelon Ruggiero as Steven Meeks, the brains and Pitts’ sidekick.

Josh Charles’ Knox Overstreet and Ethan Hawke’s Todd Anderson pose for a Dead Poets Society production photo while filming a scene inside the iconic cave. Charles on the bottom left wears a dark navy trench coat and looks forward, while Hawke wears khaki slacks and a dark navy trench coat and is seen writing in a small notebook. On a rock between the two are two lit candles.
Josh Charles’ Knox Overstreet and Ethan Hawke’s Todd Anderson pose for a Dead Poets Society production photo while filming a scene inside the iconic cave.

Weir needed his ensemble of actors to get along off-screen as well as the boys do in the film. During production, Weir held a series of rehearsals in which Williams and the boys immersed themselves in the reading and writing of poetry. Plus, most of the movie was filmed sequentially to build a natural history. A young Hawke later recounted, “All of us got along so well,” and that filming felt like going off to camp.

Given that critical moments in the film occur in a cave (which the filmmakers built in a Newcastle warehouse modeled after Delaware’s Wolf Rock Cave, a registered historic landmark now known as Beaver Valley Cave), Weir wanted to ensure that the poetry readings seemed natural—a pleasure rather than a chore. Someone in the crew had the idea to have the boys tell scary stories, which allowed the cave scenes to appear more realistic and spontaneous.

The poetry book “Five Centuries of Verse” was used as the main prop book in the film Dead Poets Society. The book is green and shows signs of aging, with tape on the front and spine.
The poetry book “Five Centuries of Verse” was used in the film and is the source of poetry read inside the cave by members of the “Dead Poet Society.” The book itself is part of the Walt Disney Archives collection.

Each of these students’ journeys at school and during their midnight poetry readings is full of beautiful life lessons. However, Dead Poets Society also addresses tough topics and issues. Speaking to this point, Weir pointed out that learning can be risky depending on its use. We see in the film that Keating’s inspiration has tragic consequences for one boy—but for another, it is the very making of his life. Yet the movie also honors that creative part of one’s self that can sometimes get lost later in life. Children are full of creativity; they paint, draw, write poetry, and don’t question it. But sometimes, in adulthood, we can lose sight of that creativity. Even now, on the 35th anniversary of the film’s release, John Keating’s words—or rather, the words of dead poets—still ring true in our ears and in our hearts. Perhaps they are words we can all live by, regardless of age or life experiences: “Carpe Diem, lads! Seize the day. Make your lives extraordinary!”

9 Times We Saw Double in Disney Movies and Series

By Jocelyn Buhlman

The Acolyte premiered on Disney+ and introduced us to another set of twins in the Star Wars universe. These twins are identical—so identical, in fact, that they’re played by the same actor! With Amandla Stenberg bringing to life two characters on-screen, we couldn’t help but think about some of our other favorite times one actor has brought twice the fun in Disney films and series:

Star Wars: The Acolyte

With the two-episode premiere of Star Wars: The Acolyte, we not only met Amandla Stenberg’s Mae—a mysterious woman determined to fight and kill Jedi—but also her twin sister Osha! Poor Osha has been mistakenly accused of Mae’s crimes (after all, they do look identical) and now must discover just what sinister secrets her twin sister is hiding.

In a still from the 1961 Parent Trap, twins Susan and Sharon stand onstage, facing each other, with the twin on the right playing guitar.

The Parent Trap

Perhaps one of the most popular instances of seeing double, The Parent Trap spins a tale of separated twins determined to reunite their family once more. In both the 1961 and 1998 versions of the film, the roles of the twins are performed by one actor. In 1961, Disney Legend Hayley Mills was both Susan Evers and Sharon McKendrick, while in 1998 Lindsay Lohan brought both Hallie Parker and Annie James to life.

In a still from Moon Knight, Steven Grant stares in shock at his reflection (actually Marc Spector), who is facing him with his hands on his hips.

 Moon Knight

Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac) is a mild-mannered museum employee just trying to live in peace, but unfortunately, he’s unknowingly stuck in a deal with the Egyptian god Khonshu, thanks to Marc Spector—also played by Oscar Isaac! Marc has a deal with Khonshu to act as his avatar, Moon Knight. That means Steven can also be Khonshu’s avatar, Mr. Knight, including fighting Khonsu’s enemies and doing his bidding. While Steven and Marc start at odds, as they couldn’t be any more different in personality if they tried, they soon learn to find unity beyond their shared face.

In a still from Mary Poppins, Bert smiles while holding his cap in his hands. He’s wearing a variety of instruments, including a drum on his back and a trumpet in his arms.

Mary Poppins

Part of what makes Mary Poppins a film that’s “practically perfect in every way” is that it has twice the Dick Van Dyke for your buck! While his role as the loveable chimney sweep Bert is one of his most beloved, Van Dyke dons old age makeup to also play the greedy bank director Mr. Dawes, Sr. During the film’s end credits, Mr. Dawes is said to be portrayed by “Navckid Keyd”—but the letters quickly unscramble to reveal the name of the Disney Legend himself, Dick Van Dyke.

Alien: Covenant

Is there anything more fun than Michael Fassbender playing the mysterious and scheming robot David? What if Michael Fassbender was playing two robots? Reprising his role from Prometheus as David, Fassbender also portrays a new character in Alien Covenant in the much kinder and helpful Walter. Two very different robots with very different missions… and very, very different opinions on humanity. The end result is fun for the viewers, and… less fun for the human crew who unwittingly walked into David’s plans.

Yori and Tron, two humanoid computer programs in outfits with glowing blue lines, stand facing the camera. Yori is looking up at Tron, while Tron is looking at something off-screen.

TRON and TRON Legacy

In 1982’s TRON, the titular character declares that he “fights for the users!” He’s on a heroic mission, yes, but he also shares a face with one of the users in question. Bruce Boxleitner portrays both the program Tron and the man behind the program, Alan Bradley. But he’s not the only one playing double! Jeff Bridges doubles as Kevin Flynn and his program Clu; Cindy Morgan is both Dr. Lorna Baines and the input/output program Yori; and David Warner is both devious Senior Executive Vice President of ENCOM, Ed Dillinger, and his program Sark. (He’s also the voice of the Master Control Program: “END OF LINE.”)

This real world/virtual world doubling continues in the film’s sequel, TRON: Legacy, where Bridges once again portrays both Kevin Flynn and a—much more sinister now—Clu. Boxleitner also returns—you can’t have a TRON movie without Tron himself!—as Alan Bradley and the voice of Tron.

The Lizzie McGuire Movie

Hey now, hey now… We can’t forget one of the most iconic dual roles for fans of Disney movies and music. Hilary Duff brought Lizzie McGuire to the big screen in The Lizzie McGuire Movie, but that wasn’t her only role in this globetrotting adventure. While in Rome, Lizzie is mistaken for the pop star Isabella Parigi—an understandable mistake since Isabella is also played by Hilary Duff. Lizzie’s luck at being a pop star lookalike leads to love, fame, and betrayal. It also leads, of course, to an iconic finale where Duff takes to the stage in double, to duet with herself as both Lizzie and Isabella to perform the fan-favorite musical number “What Dreams Are Made Of.”

65 Years Later, Disneyland ’59 Shows Company at “the Forefront of Innovation”

By Moss Cohen

A mere four years after the 1955 opening of the Disneyland Resort—and 65 years ago this Friday—Walt Disney welcomed celebrities, fans, and even a full television crew to witness an event so grand, it felt like a “second opening” of Disneyland.

During a TV special on ABC titled Kodak Presents Disneyland ’59, Walt showed off six new and updated attractions as part of the first ever major expansion of Disneyland.

“Disneyland formally introduced the iconic E-Ticket attractions Submarine Voyage, Matterhorn Bobsleds, and the Disneyland-Alweg Monorail System,” Mike Buckhoff of the Walt Disney Archives, said. There was also “an all-new Skyway experience—which flew guests through the caverns of the Matterhorn’s Glacier Grotto—the reopening of the Motor Boat Cruise, and the Fantasyland Autopia.”

The Disneyland 1959 map.

Never Finished

Walt once remarked that “Disneyland will never be completed, as long as there is imagination left in the world.”

Seeking to ensure that all areas of the park were as robust as others, and that guests would regularly have something new to enjoy with each visit, Disneyland—and later all other Disney parks and resorts—would thrive on innovation.

However, innovation isn’t so simple, and ideas can push beyond the limits of what’s possible at the time.

Buckhoff states that Walt would “regularly envision changes and expansions for his new theme park, even as the turnstiles began revolving with the entry of the first guests to Disneyland in 1955.”

Walt Disney looks at framed Monorail plans.

Forward Thinking Innovation

“Since the very beginning, Disneyland attractions and experiences have been at the forefront of innovation,” Buckhoff noted.

While traveling across the globe, Walt would often find new ideas to implement at his park.

“Ever the forward thinker, Walt drew inspiration from the innovative monorail systems of Europe which he adapted to fit his Tomorrowland ideals,” Buckhoff said. “And the Matterhorn mountain was based on the towering peak in Switzerland which he visited during the filming of 1959’s Third Man on the Mountain.

The Matterhorn Glacier Grotto in 1959

But to translate his inspiration into attractions, Walt needed time to allow his engineers at WED Enterprises (later Walt Disney Imagineering) to create what he had envisioned.

By 1959, “advancements in technology and available storytelling methods were providing some of the necessary tools for the creative evolution that Walt intended and actively sought out,” according to Buckhoff.

Buckhoff added that Matterhorn Bobsleds “was no exception, as it was the first roller-coaster style thrill ride at Disneyland and was also the first to use tubular steel tracks and an electronic dispatch system which allowed more than one car to be on the track at one time.”

Submarine Voyage, Matterhorn, Skyway, and the Disneyland-Alweg Monrail System

Of those new additions introduced in 1959, Buckhoff explained that the most influential may have been the Monorail.

It “would go on to serve as not only an enjoyable voyage,” ­­­­Buckhoff said, “but also an efficient means of transportation at other Disney sites, such as the Walt Disney World Resort and Tokyo Disney Resort.

Walt Disney and his family in front of the Monorail station.

For the Nation to See

“Well, Walt… how do you feel?” Disney Legend Art Linkletter asked.

“Like an expectant father: nervous, but wonderful,” Walt replied from in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Those were the words that greeted viewers when they tuned in to ABC on June 15, 1959, to view the broadcast of Kodak Presents Disneyland ’59, “an event chock-full of lively entertainment, including an extravagant parade down Main Street, U.S.A.,” Buckhoff stated.

“Walt Disney understood the rising importance of television in the 1950s,” Buckhoff added. He “quickly realized the medium could be an important asset to his theme park venture.”

Just as he had done with Dateline Disneyland, which showcased the opening of Disneyland on national television, “Disneyland ’59 afforded Walt Disney priceless publicity for the new adventures that awaited guests at the park,” Buckhoff declared.

The broadcast wouldn’t only live on television. “The Disney studio later released a 25-minute Technicolor featurette of the festivities in theatres entitled Gala Day at Disneyland,” Buckhoff explained. 

Still Innovating

Six and a half decades later, Disneyland Resort is getting ready to welcome in yet another new era of growth.

The company is investing $1.9 billion in the resort over the next 10 years through DisneylandForward.

“Now, it’s time for the next chapter in the legacy of Disneyland,” said Ken Potrock, President of the Disneyland Resort. “We’re ready to build on decades of innovation, creativity, and storytelling to bring new, exciting experiences for our guests.”

And the growth doesn’t stop in Anaheim.

Disney Experiences has opened a bevy of new lands and attractions all over the world, and has announced plans to turbocharge growth in its Experiences segment with even more new and exciting developments in the years to come.

Much like Walt did with Disneyland ’59, the company continues to regularly imagine and implement new innovations at its parks and experiences across the globe.

A Disneyland '59 banner hangs above Mainstreet, U.S.A., during a fireworks show.

7 Delicious Details to Spot in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure

By Jocelyn Buhlman

We’re almost there! Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens at the end of the month, and with it comes an all-new story, song, and cast of critter characters for Disney fans to enjoy—that is, when they’re not too busy plunging down a 50-foot drop. Before you start going down the bayou, we’ve got the delicious details on Easter eggs and hidden treasures any sharp-eyed The Princess and the Frog fan will want to spot. Whether you’ll be making a splash on opening day, June 28, or joining us for our D23 Member preview of the attraction, let’s dig a little deeper into our favorite things to find in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

A part of the bright and colorful mural on the outside of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at Walt Disney World. The mural depicts Louis the alligator playing the trumpet amongst a bright, green garden. Music notes come out of his trumpet, on a staff colored in with reds, greens, and yellow. The musical notation surrounds a variety of turnips in the air above him.

  1. A Musical Mural

Before you even enter Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, make sure to stop and admire the gorgeous murals painted on the outside of the building. Created by New Orleans-based artist Malika Favorite, the murals are inspired by numerous murals and other works of art that decorate building exteriors throughout New Orleans. One mural in particular holds an Easter egg for the musically astute. Favorite describes the mural to the left of the entrance as Tiana’s garden, where “Louis inspired the garden to grow by adding music.” And what are his gardening grooves of choice? Of course, the music notation depicted in the mural is actual music from the original The Princess and the Frog movie!

Leah Chase sits in a music studio, singing into a microphone with her eyes closed.

  1. A Touching Tribute to The Chase Family

Music plays a huge part of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, reflecting the musical nature of the city that inspired it: New Orleans! Terrance Blanchard, who performed the trumpet for Louis in the original film, was tasked with curating the songs you hear in the queue. While all the music pays tribute to the Crescent City, one song in particular stands out. In curating the soundtrack, Blanchard recalls, “Probably the most emotional was working with Leah Chase.” Leah Chase, Jr. is the daughter of Leah Chase, Sr.—who created one of the first African American fine-dining establishments in the country and was one of the inspirations for the character of Tiana herself! The Chase family has been involved with Tiana’s Bayou Adventure from the start, and it’s a wonderful tribute to Leah Chase, Sr. and her family’s influence to feature her daughter singing in the queue. Blanchard recalls the emotional day of recording, explaining, “Leah came in and sang ‘Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?’ and there wasn’t a dry eye in the studio. She did it in one take and that’s all she needed.”

A to-do list written in white chalk on a black chalk board, featuring tasks that characters from The Princess and the Frog need to or have completed before the big Mardi Gras party. Included on the list with the character names are the names Carmen, Charita, and Leah.

  1. They’ve Got a Lot to Do!

While you’re tapping your toes to the New Orleans-inspired tunes of the queue, keep an eye out for an Easter egg that names two Walt Disney Imagineers key to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. You can spot Tiana’s to-do list for the big party after you pass her kitchen; many characters we know and love are assigned to tasks to help Tiana out—but amongst those names are two not from the film: Carmen and Charita. Carmen Smith, Senior Vice President, Creative Development – Product/Content & Inclusive Strategies, and Charita Carter, Executive Producer of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, have already checked off a lot on their to-do list to make this party happen… after all, they’re part of the team behind the attraction itself!

Three kids explore the queue for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, leaning on a railing and taking a photo of a plate of beignets that are out of focus in the bottom front of the photo.

  1. What’s Cooking?

If you’ve ever wondered just what the recipes are for some of Tiana’s most famous dishes, wonder no more! As you explore the queue, you’ll see Tiana’s father’s gumbo recipe framed along with other family mementos. If you can take your eyes off the delicious beignets in the kitchen for just a second, you’ll also notice Tiana has helpfully written down her beignet recipe on the counter. Didn’t have time to make note of the recipes? You can check out Tiana’s Cookbook,featuring even more tasty treats from Tiana’s world that you can make in your very own kitchen—trumpet-playing alligator not included.

In the finale of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, Princess Tiana sings in front of a colorful building, surrounded by critters performing music. To her right, a rabbit sits on a stair railing, playing a license plate like a washboard.

  1. You Auto Spot This Detail

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure introduces us to a whole cast of critters, from frogs to bears to an armadillo with an eye patch. But according to Executive Creative Director Ted Robledo, there’s one critter in particular you need to keep an eye on. He explains, “One of my favorites is called Gritty the rabbit and he plays this washboard—but it’s actually an automobile license plate. We find evidence of this license plate being missing in the queue.” We’d ask Gritty to give it back, but we can’t stop dancing to his infectious tunes! 

A framed black and white photo of Tiana, her father, and her mother

  1. Honoring Tiana’s Father

This detail in the queue is especially near and dear to Carter as an Air Force brat. The queue features a variety of photos from Tiana’s life, including many of her beloved father. Carter explains, “From the film we learn that Tiana’s dad was a World War I veteran in the Army. We have photos of him in the queue, and you can see him in his uniform and with Tiana.” For Carter, that detail is “especially meaningful,” as several of her family members have served in the Air Force.

The exterior of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, facing the attraction’s 50-foot drop. In the bottom of the image, two frogs sit on a log with their backs to the camera.

  1. Astutely Observant Amphibians

We make a variety of froggy friends throughout the attraction—and while many of them are preoccupied with showing off their musical skills, others are just as interested in looking at us as we are looking at them. Haunted Mansion fans are familiar with a selection of portraits scattered throughout Magic Kingdom’s mansion, where all the subjects’ eerie eyes seem to move and follow you, no matter where you go. But did you ever expect to see frogs do the same thing? Keep an eye out for these very focused frogs… they’re certainly keeping an eye out for you!

The Cast of Inside Out 2 Picks Their Favorite Disney Movies

By Bruce C. Steele

Things are about to get emotional.

When D23 asked cast members and the director of Disney and Pixar’s Inside Out 2 to name their favorite Disney or Pixar film, most were eager to pick… Inside Out! Told that that wasn’t an option—since we expected a bias in that direction—we were faced with a bit of sadness, some anxiety, and maybe a little anger. But in every case, joy soon kicked in as other beloved choices came to mind…

Read on to compare your second-favorite Disney or Pixar movie to these picks… and be sure to see Inside Out 2, only in theaters, opening June 14!

Inside Out 2 cast member Amy Poehler stands next to the character Joy at the film’s world premiere at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California, on June 10. The backdrop behind them features the film’s logo in white on a multicolored background. She’s wearing a floral gown.

Amy Poehler (Joy)

D23: Was there a Disney film or a Pixar film that really meant a lot to you when you were growing up?

AP: Let me think. I mean, my brain goes to the ones I saw when I was really small. Does it have to be animation?

D23: Of course not.

AP: Okay, because I used to like the live-action ones, like Bedknobs and Broomsticks. I think that’s Disney, right?

D23: Sure!

AP: It’s a classic, from 1971, the year I was born. It was a musical—like Mary Poppins adjacent—and it had action and animation. And it had Angela Lansbury. I fell in love with Angela Lansbury, who was, as we know, a great actor and voice actor. That was a big one for me.

Inside Out 2 cast member Maya Hawke stands in front of a backdrop with the film’s logo on it in white on purple at the film’s world premiere at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California, on June 10. She’s wearing a dark green low-cut gown.

Maya Hawke (Anxiety)

MH: When I was a little girl, I loved Cinderella. I loved that movie. I loved the way the animals talk to each other. The whole thing lit up my imagination in such a wonderful way. Since then, as I grew up, WALL•E is a work of staggering genius that I watched at exactly the right time. I think about it probably every single week as I watch the world change around all of us. So that’s a favorite. And then came Inside Out. I would pick those three as kind of the demarcators of [certain] times in my life.

Inside Out 2 cast member Lewis Black stands in front of a backdrop with the film’s logo on it in white on purple at the film’s world premiere at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California, on June 10. He’s wearing a blue sport jacket over a black T-shirt.

Lewis Black (Anger)

LB: Fantasia, because Walt Disney took it out of the space of just Disney. I also like [anything with] Goofy, because whoever came up with Goofy is just demented. Who conceived of this character, you know? All of those cartoons as a kid had an effect on me. Because I’m it, right? I’m the target audience.

Inside Out 2 cast member Tony Hale stands in front of a backdrop with the film’s logo on it in white on purple at the film’s world premiere at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California, on June 10. He’s wearing a gray sport jacket over a green shirt.

 Tony Hale (Fear)

D23: What Disney or Pixar film other than Inside Out has meant the most to you growing up or as an adult or in any way in your life?

TH: Man, so many times, even when I was doing press for Toy Story 4 [Hale is the voice of Forky. –Ed.], I would always mention Inside Out as my most influential movie. Let me think a minute. I mean, they’re all so beautiful. I mean, Up definitely has a special place in my heart. I also just love The Incredibles, which came around during a time when you never really saw the weaknesses of superheroes. But, again, Inside Out is always the immediate answer.

Phyllis Smith (Sadness)

PS: I loved Up. It really hit home with me because I had elderly parents, and about the time that Up came out, my dad was in a precarious position. And he’s no longer with us. My mom is still with me, but… So Up really hit home with me. I identified with it a lot.

D23: Was there any Disney film that was special to you when you were a child?

PS: Cinderella, because every little girl wanted to be a princess or turn into a princess. So, yeah, I’ve been a Disney fan all my life.

Inside Out 2 director Kelsey Mann stands in front of a backdrop with the film’s logo on it in white on purple at the film’s world premiere at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California, on June 10. He’s wearing a blue sport jacket over a black T shirt.

Kelsey Mann (director)

KM: I was always a huge fan of Disney growing up, and I wanted to work there. It wasn’t until I was in college when Pixar started making movies, and I saw Toy Story and was blown away by it. And I was blown away by a bug’s life. But I vividly remember going to Toy Story 2 and being like, “Okay, they’ve made some great original movies. Are they going to phone in the sequel?”… The fact that Toy Story 2 was as good as the original blew me away—that even in the sequel, they were committed to quality and making a great film. I remember watching the end credits for Toy Story 2 and just having this sense of wishing that my name was on it. I just pinch myself that I get to work here, every day. And I try to remind myself, whenever I get stressed, of that moment and that feeling. To be a part of the legacy of Disney and Pixar has been absolutely incredible.

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D23 Gold Members can receive $3 off general admission tickets (all price levels) for themselves and up to three (3) guests!

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Everything to Watch and Read If You Can’t Get Enough of Star Wars: The Acolyte

By Jocelyn Buhlman

Star Wars: The Acolyte made its two-episode debut on Disney+, giving us the first live-action look into the High Republic Era of the Star Wars galaxy. With a veritable nebula of Star Wars content before you, we’re here to be your guide to keeping the fun going as you dive into the mysterious world of The Acolyte.

A collage of Star Wars: The High Republic book covers, with the Star Wars: The High Republic logo superimposed over it.

Books

Much of the High Republic era is explored through on the page—and our friends at StarWars.com have a comprehensive guide to the books in chronological order. But what if you just need a lightspeed look at this era? Check out Star Wars: The High Republic: Chronicles of the Jedi: An Illustrated Guide to the Galaxy’s Golden Age, an in-universe guide to the High Republic Era that provides an entry point for anyone new to both this time period and the Star Wars saga as a whole.

More curious about The Acolyte characters than its era? While there’s plenty of new faces in the series, one rather green face has already appeared in Star Wars canon. Vernestra Rwoh, a Mirialan Jedi Master, made her mark in the Star Wars galaxy in a series of Star Wars: The High Republic books, which chronicle how she becomes one of the youngest Knights in Jedi history at the age of 16. You can follow Vernestra’s adventures in the following books:

Comics

High Republic stories bring the action in several comic series exploring the Jedi and Padawans adventures during this grand era. Explore these stories in Marvel’s Star Wars: The High Republic by Cavan Scott,  which is an adventure story with horror overtones following Jedi Knights and Padawans as they deal with the Nihil and the Drengir. For a more all-ages story, you can read Dark Horse’s Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures by Daniel José Older which tells the stories of younglings and Padawans as they’re thrust into the fight against the Nihil.

In an image from Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Rystáll Sant, a humanoid alien with bright red hair, spotted pink skin, and horns, gasps in shock at something happening offscreen.

Movies

While no Star Wars movies have explored the High Republic era or the characters we meet in The Acolyte, there are two films that were influential to the story of The Acolyte. The series’ events can be seen as the start of a journey for the Jedi that ends with Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. For series creator and showrunner Leslye Headland, The Phantom Menace was a key milestone for positioning her own story: “We straddled this gilded age where the Jedi are at their height and spiritually attuned, and then where they are in The Phantom Menace, where they’re completely politically embroiled and unable to sense what Palpatine’s doing. To me it was nice to set something between those two things and understand where the Jedi are in their journey.”

While not as key to the plot of The Acolyte, Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi was extremely influential on Headland in a different way. Fans familiar with the special edition of Return of the Jedi might remember that three alien singers were featured during the “Jedi Rock” sequence near the beginning of the film. For you, it might have been a fun sequence, but for Headland, it sparked a lifelong obsession with the character Rystáll Sant, a singer with a shock of red hair, horns, and hooves, who belongs to the Theelin species. “I thought they were so cool,” Headland explained of Theelins. “I remember watching her in the theater and just being like, that is such a cool design!” Naturally, there had to be a Theelin in The Acolyte, and so half-Theelin padawan Jecki Lon (Dafne Keen) was born. “It’s just my younger self being like, it would be so cool if there was a Theelin Jedi!” And she was right—it is very cool.

The two-episode premiere of The Acolyte is now streaming on Disney+. 

Meet the New Emotions of Inside Out 2

By Cecilia Sarantopoulos

Inside Out 2, Pixar’s highly anticipated sequel to 2015’s Oscar®-winning Inside Out, arrives exclusively in theaters on Friday, June 14. This time, things are more emotionally charged than ever. A whole host of new Emotions have arisen in the mind of now-teenager Riley (voiced by Kensington Tallman). Joining Riley’s OG Emotions at Headquarters are Anxiety (voiced by Maya Hawke), Envy (voiced by Ayo Edebiri), Ennui (voiced by Adèle Exarchopoulos), and Embarrassment (voiced by Paul Walter Hauser)—aka the perfect recipe for teenage drama.

These new Emotions are set to stir things up, challenge our perceptions, and create new dynamics with Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Disgust (voiced by Liza Lapira), Fear (voiced by Tony Hale), Anger (voiced by Lewis Black), and Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith)—the original Emotions. Buckle up, because Riley’s emotional roller coaster just got a whole lot bumpier!

In a scene from Inside Out 2, Anxiety (voiced by Maya Hawke) stands facing the camera, nervously waving at the original Emotions lined up in front of her. To the right of the image is Headquarters' cream console with colorful buttons. Behind Anxiety, shelves display colorful marble balls. In front of them sits a red couch with orange pillows.

Anxiety
This jittery guardian ensures Riley is ready for every imaginable disaster. Armed with color-coded charts and doomsday plans, Anxiety is practically Velcroed to Riley’s back, navigating social minefields—because heaven forbid a teenager feels left out. In essence, Anxiety is the friend you never asked for but can’t shake off. But Anxiety’s not the villain—like all the Emotions, she wants what’s best for Riley.

In a scene from Inside Out 2, Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Anger (voiced by Lewis Black), Disgust (voiced by Liza Lapira), Envy (voiced by Ayo Edebiri), and Anxiety (voiced by Maya Hawke) stand behind Riley’s Headquarters console, now teal, reflecting Envy’s influence. Envy lies atop the console. Joy, Anger, and Disgust wear shocked expressions, while Anxiety appears pleased.

Envy
Sadly, no one escapes her green-eyed glare. With a size that belies her strength, Envy is constantly coveting what others possess and is fixated on the latest and greatest, longing for whatever Riley happens to lack. She plays a critical role in creating Riley’s wants and goals. As for the antidote? We’re stumped. Maybe a sprinkle of glitter and a dash of self-esteem?

Ennui
Ah, and here comes Ennui, here to establish that, for teenagers, most events are as thrilling as watching paint dry. School? Yawn. Family dinner? Double yawn. But hey, she must serve some purpose, right? When the drama gets to be too much,  Ennui is there to take it down a notch or nine.

In a scene from Inside Out 2, Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith), Fear (voiced by Tony Hale), Anger (voiced by Lewis Black), and Disgust (voiced by Liza Lapira) stand on the left side of the Headquarters’ console. The left corner has turned blue with Sadness’s touch. Lying on his stomach on the console and turning it pink is Embarrassment (voiced by Paul Walter), clad in a gray hoodie, jeans, and red shoes. On the right side of the console stands Anxiety (voiced by Maya Hawke), looking nervously at Embarrassment. The background of the images features windows and shelves with colorful, illuminated marble balls.

Embarrassment
Last, but certainly not least, meet Embarrassment: the self-conscious sentinel of awkwardness, on a mission to shield you from both your finest and your cringiest moments. Shy and decidedly quiet, Embarrassment is ready to flop onto the Headquarters’ console at the mere whiff of a social faux pas.