Each month, Disney fans and D23 Members send us dozens of questions for Disney Legend and Chief Archivist Emeritus, Dave Smith. To get your answers, check back every couple weeks—we’ll be publishing more of our beloved Disney Legend’s answers to your questions about Disney history!
Q: Where are all of the Mickey Mouse films stored?
Ron, Forney, Texas
A: There are film vaults at the Disney Studio in California, plus negatives and protection master prints are stored in a salt mine in Kansas (preferable because of a constant cool temperature and dry humidity).
Q: What non-Disney movies are or will soon be featured in the Disney parks? Are they considered “Disney movies” because of their existence in the parks?
Joshua, Accomac, Virginia
A: Right now the main ones are Indiana Jones and Star Wars, unless you also want to count the various films featured in The Great Movie Ride or Cinemagique (at Walt Disney Studios Park, Paris). An Avatar attraction has been announced for the future. But, no, these films will never be considered Disney movies.
Q: My parents gave me a Minnie coin bank back in the day. She has a pink hat with a pink and white polka-dot dress. It’s very worn and the colors have peeled. Is there any way to have it repainted?
Julia, Niagara Falls, New York
A: I am unfamiliar with your bank. Unfortunately, Disney does not have a department that repairs toys or other merchandise.
Q: As a child, I remember a poem published in a magazine around Christmastime that was many pages long and featured Disneyland. I cut the poem from the magazine and read it all the time to my younger brothers and sisters. After a number of years, I went to the place I kept it, only to find it not there, and all the younger siblings denied taking it. When I had children, I attempted to find it through contacting various magazines, but no one was able to help. Now as a grandmother I would love to have this poem to share again with a new generation. Do you know the title and if it is available?
Karen, Clifton Park, New York
A: You may be thinking of A Christmas Adventure in Disneyland, published in Family Circle magazine in December 1958.
Q: I have an unusual lithograph that I received when I purchased the Cinderella DVD. It is a picture of Cinderella in her torn gown, but when you tilt it a certain angle it transforms into her ball gown. Is this what they used to call a sericel?
Pat, Doraville, Georgia
A: The process is called lenticular printing. Several of the Cinderella lenticular prints from 2005 sold on eBay recently for $25 each. A sericel, on the other hand, is a cel made with a silk-screen process (i.e. not painted by hand).
Q: I have recently started collecting and trading Disney pins. I was hoping you could tell me the best resource for researching complete collections. I usually stick with Hidden Mickey’s.
Burton, Tallahassee, Florida
A: You might like to get Tomart’s Disneyana Guide to Pin Trading, by Tom Tumbusch. It is available on Amazon.com and at some bookstores.
Q: I was reading the Disney A to Z encyclopedia, and I came across the fact that the Voyage of the Little Mermaid show replaced a show called Here Come the Muppets. I was just wondering what that show was about.
Allison, San Ramon, California
A: Here Come the Muppets was a live show at Disney-MGM Studios that operated from May 25, 1990 to September 2, 1991. For a summary of the show, you can check here. It was superseded by a different show, in another venue in the park, called Muppets on Location—The Days of Swine and Roses. That show lasted until 1994.
Q: In 1957, when I was 10 years old, my mother and I visited Disneyland. On that particular day, Roy Williams was making an appearance at the park. He gave me a souvenir picture of all the original Mouseketeers. On the back he drew a picture of Pluto and signed his name, Roy. I was hoping you could tell me if there is a market for such collectibles and how I might determine a value. I could provide a scanned copy via e-mail if that would help?
Richard, Punta Gorda, Florida
A: Roy was one Disney artist who really loved interacting with the guests at Disneyland. His quick sketches from the park are fairly common, and I do not believe they are especially expensive when sold.
Q: My parents used to buy these ceramic art pieces each Christmas, with each year depicting a specific Disney scene. I think these pieces were approved (and licensed) by Disney each year. When did these pieces stop being produced? I would like to buy my parents whatever version they don’t have (they have most between 1981 and 1995) but cannot find any information about these pieces (what they are called, who made them, etc.). Any guidance would be great.
Erik, Alexandria, Virginia
A: Grolier produced Disney Christmas figurines made of bisque, a chalky ceramic, for each year from 1979 to 2007. Perhaps these are the ones to which you are referring. They were all limited editions, with the edition size (and price) going up as the years went on. The 1979 figurine sold for $29.95; the 1988 one for $50.
Q: Do you have anywhere where I can print all of these questions out and keep them? With so much knowledge invested in this section, it is a bummer I didn’t start printing them out earlier.
Erik, Alexandria, Virginia
A: You can now purchase my book, Disney Trivia from the Vault, which reprints my Ask Dave questions from 1983 up to the beginning of 2011. It is published by Disney Editions at $9.99.
Q: Before Swedish illustrator Gustaf Tenggren migrated to America and began working for The Walt Disney Company in the 1930s, he (as I am sure you are already fully aware) was studying art at Valand, in Gothenburg. There he met and befriended fellow art student Rudolf Petersson, who would later come to create one of Sweden’s most beloved comics of all time. A few years later, Gustaf married Rudolf’s sister, Anna, and when they migrated to America in 1920, Rudolf decided to follow them. What I would like to know is if Rudolf Petersson ever applied for a job at The Walt Disney Company, and if so, if you could tell me something about his work at the studio. I have heard rumors in Sweden that he did, but I have never gotten these rumors confirmed.
Dennis, Gothenburg, Sweden
A: The Disney personnel records do not show a Rudolf Petersson ever working for Disney.
Q: I worked the scoring stage in the late ’70s. I’m trying to recall the composer who wrote much of the music for The Mickey Mouse Club. I seem to recall his first name was Peter.
John, Thousand Oaks, California
A: Peter Martin, with Marc B. Ray, wrote several of the introductory songs for the different days of the week for the 1970s version of The Mickey Mouse Club. Composers listed for the complete shows were Buddy Baker, Robert Brunner, and Will Schaefer.
Q: I’ve heard different accounts of Walt’s original intentions for his Florida Project. One was that Walt wanted to build an East Coast Disneyland with more space than the Anaheim property. The other story is that, when he decided to build in Orlando, that he primarily wanted to focus on EPCOT Center, and wasn’t really interested in another theme park. He only conceded when Florida officials told him that they and the public were anticipating a new theme park. So did Walt always intend to build a vacation destination/city of tomorrow in Florida, or did it just evolve into that?
Kenny, Lithonia, Georgia
A: By the time that Disneyland in California was running smoothly, Walt began thinking where he might build another park. The Disney exhibits at the 1964 New York World’s Fair convinced him that east-coast audiences would appreciate the Disney-style entertainment, so he looked to Florida as the area with the best year-round good weather. After selecting a location, he began purchasing land, and eventually ended up with more land than he had originally planned. To make use of that land, he wanted to build a Disneyland-type park, because he knew that was expected of him, but he was also thinking of hotels, recreational facilities, an industrial park, an airport, and an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT). All these areas were part of the initial proposal made to the people of Florida. Walt sadly passed away shortly after the plans were announced, so he was never able to see his dream take shape.
Q: I have several Mickey Mouse items, old and new, that my mom has collected over the years. She just passed away in December, 2011, at 83 years old. I was trying to find someone in Oklahoma who could sell them for me. Can you give me any information with this?
Sherri, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
A: Sorry, we do not have anyone to whom we can refer you. Most Disney collectibles seem to be sold on eBay these days.
Q: I recently watched the Disneyland After Dark DVD and loved the segment with Louie Armstrong, Kid Ory, and Johnny St. Cyr. I know that Johnny was a regular musician at the park, but was Kid Ory? I’ve seen some handbills for shows he played in there, but was he a regular Disneyland cast member or just a guest musician from time to time?
Ethan, New York City, New York
A: Famed jazz trombonist Edward “Kid” Ory (1886-1973) started performing at Disneyland with Johnny St. Cyr and his Young Men from New Orleans in the September 30, 1961 Dixieland at Disneyland show. That was the show filmed for Disneyland After Dark, airing on television in 1962. Ory, while not a cast member, was fond of appearing at Disneyland and would return for a number of performances in ensuing years.
Q: I’ve heard tons of rumors relating to a “fifth gate” or theme park, at Walt Disney World called “Dark Kingdom.” Supposedly, the project was canceled and revived several times over the past decade. Do you have any solid information on this, or is it just a myth?
Joshua, Windermere, Florida
A: You’re right that there have been rumors for years on Internet discussion boards, but no plans for a fifth park have ever been announced. When you have a think tank like Walt Disney Imagineering, you are obviously going to have Imagineers coming up with many “blue sky” ideas, often parks and attractions that are suggested and may have a little preliminary design work done, but that never go any further. For every project that is built, there are usually hundreds more that are not. So, until an official announcement is made, any rumors about a fifth park are just that—rumors.
Q: I was reading the book The Imagineering Field Guide to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and noticed something interesting. It mentions that they have a program where a guest can have lunch with an Imagineer in the Hollywood Brown Derby Bamboo Room. Is this program still going on? If not, is there another way to meet and talk with an Imagineer?
Melanie, Northfield Center, Ohio
A: This program is still being offered at the Walt Disney World Resort, at both the Hollywood Brown Derby and the Flying Fish Café at the Boardwalk Resort. For more information, click here.
Q: Our three-year-old (yes, three-year-old) asks me the height requirements of Disney rides and watches DVDs about the parks every day. Since he learned that the height requirement for Space Mountain at Disneyland is only 40 inches (much less than Space Mountain at Walt Disney World), he has been asking us to take him across the country just so he can ride Space Mountain. I’ve been trying to figure out why it’s different, and it looks like the ride vehicles are different. Is the ride also different? What’s the story behind the differences in Space Mountain at the different parks and the different height requirements?
Jackie, Charleston, South Carolina
A: There are several differences between the Space Mountain attractions at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. First, as you noted, the ride vehicles are different; in Disneyland, guests sit two per row, whereas guests sit one per row at Walt Disney World. Walt Disney World offers two different ride tracks, “starry-o-phonic” sound (in which music and sound effects play throughout the attraction), and a differently themed queue and post-show (recently themed as “Starport Seven Five”). At Disneyland, there is a single ride track, sound that plays in coordination to the ride track and from speakers within the vehicle, and an alternate attraction that has played during the fall—Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy. According to the Disneyland website, as of June 2012, its Space Mountain has a height requirement of 40 inches or taller, while Walt Disney World’s has a height restriction of 44 inches or taller.
Q: Do you have any openings in your Archives? I have a MLIS and some archival experience.
Sally, San Diego, California
A: There are currently no openings at the Archives. It is a small department, and staff members tend to stay a long time.
Q: My son is a 39-year-old yo-yo expert and has traveled the world as a demonstrator, etc. I’ve always been involved with it too and have met many other yo-yologists in the world and produced a couple of contests in the past. I heard that Donald Duncan Jr. held a National Yo-Yo Contest at Disneyland in California in approximately 1962. Can you find out if it is true? Any and all information you can provide will be greatly appreciated!
Jeannie, Stockton, California
A: I wasn’t having any success in finding an answer until I discovered that the Duncan National Yo-Yo Contest was held, not at Disneyland park, but across the street at the Disneyland Hotel, which was owned by Jack Wrather. The first contest, with Donald Duncan Jr. in attendance, was held at the hotel in 1962, with a $5,000 prize. The next two contests, in 1963 and 1964, included spin-tops as well as yo-yos. 1964 was the last year that the contest was held.
Q: We know that Walt gathered inspiration for Disneyland from lots of sources. I understand that one of the parks he visited was Children’s Fairyland in Oakland, California. Is there any record of Walt’s visit to this park? It would be fabulous to see a photo! Is it true that he hired away the park’s first director, Dorothy Manes, as an early employee of Disneyland?
Chris, Alameda, California
A: No specific evidence turned up in the Walt Disney Archives that Walt or his designers ever visited Children’s Fairyland, but he, along with Nat Winecoff and C.V. Wood, did fly to San Francisco on Disneyland business on April 17, 1954. It is possible that they headed over to Oakland. It is indeed true that Walt hired Dorothy Manes. She began working at Disneyland in the 1950s, in charge of youth activities, and continued in that position until 1972.
Q: I have a drawing of Mickey Mouse done by a Roy Williams that I got when I was 4 years old (drawn in 1957) and a picture taken of me and him as he was drawing it. Is this by the Roy Williams?
Bethann, North Las Vegas, Nevada
A: Yes, that would be Roy Williams of Mickey Mouse Club fame. He often worked as a sketch artist at Disneyland.
Q: Upon watching the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit, I was wondering if there are any other non-Disney characters that have been portrayed as being friends with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck?
Ross, Aurora, California
A: I can think of no instance when Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck appeared in a film with cartoon characters from another studio, except in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Q: I have two coins (one gold and one purple) from the 20th anniversary surprise parade at Walt Disney World. I received the coins when I was about four years old from cast members in the parade. I was wondering if they gave out these coins at every parade during the celebrations or only certain shows?
Heather, Miami, Florida
A: These coins (there are also green ones) were first given out by parade cast members, along with strings of colored beads, during the Party Gras Parade at Disneyland, which ran during most of the year in 1990. A similar parade for the 20th anniversary of Walt Disney World using the floats from Disneyland, named the Surprise Celebration, began in the Magic Kingdom in the fall of 1991 and continued until 1994. That parade had different coins, in gold, blue, and green.
Q: Your article is the highlight of each FanFare I read. Since you are asked so many questions, I thought I’d ask you some questions about questions. Do you have a favorite question you have been asked? What question took you the longest to answer? Is there one question that you have not answered that particularly frustrates you?
Michael, Savannah, Georgia
A: Thanks, Michael. One of my favorite questions, though unanswerable, was “How much does Walt Disney World weigh?” There were many questions that took a long time—sometimes I would spend several hours searching for an answer, then have to give up when my search proved fruitless. I have been frustrated in not being able to find a listing of the background artists who worked on each of the early Disney cartoons (before they started putting credits on the films); we know the animators and the directors, but not the background artists.