Disney at the Movies – Day 8

Make Mine Music

  1. Cartoon Shorts    Three Little Wolves and Mickey’s Amateurs
  2. Main Feature      Make Mine Music
  3. Live Action          The One and Only Genuine Original Family Band

In the aftermath of World War II, the Studio continued to produce compilation animated films as it strove to regain its financial footing.  One such film, Make Mine Music (1946), is a collection of ten distinct stories inspired by  musical themes.  Think of it as Fantasia-lite, not groundbreaking, not phenomenal, but undeniably charming.  Instead of Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra, you will hear some of the formidable pop music talents of the day including Benny Goodman, the Andrews Sisters and Dinah Shore.  Fans of Mickey’s Philharmagic in Disney World will appreciate the segment titled “The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met,” because the titular whale is featured in one of the humorous lobby posters adorning the queue for the Philharmagic (I Pagliacci performed by Willy the Whale). It is a reminder that Imagineers cleverly decorate the parks with images and references from a wide range of Disney films.  At the time of this writing, Make Mine Music is not streaming on Disney+, Netflix, nor Amazon Prime.  It can, however, be inexpensively purchased on Amazon. We watched on an old videocassette.

Our Silly Symphony selection is Three Little Wolves (1936).  This next installment is loaded with surprises.  It begins with the Big Bad Wolf lecturing his three sons on the finer points of cooking pork (in German no less). Elements of The Boy Who Cried Wolf and Little Bo Peep will be tossed into the mix and before it’s through, the Big Bad Wolf will receive an imaginatively rendered thrashing.

The next short will be Mickey’s Amateurs (1937). Mickey Mouse hosts a radio variety show that features the “talents” of familiar Disney stars such as Donald Duck and Goofy, as well as some lesser known characters such as Clarabelle Cow. The musical offerings are dubious at best, but that’s the fun of it.  No surprise here, only lots of laughs.

We’ll end the evening with another musically themed offering, The One and Only Genuine, Original Family Band.  Leave it to Walt Disney to make an endearing family movie set in the context of the hotly contested presidential election between Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison (and you thought we were a divided nation today).  It centers around the musical Bower family, staunch democrats poised to perform at the Democratic convention. Things get complicated when Alice Bower falls in love with a Republican newspaperman (Heavens!).  Can politics, love and family mix?  Maybe with the help of music. This forgotten gem features music by the Sherman Brothers and an outstanding cast including Walter Brennan, Wally Cox, Buddy Ebsen, Leslie-Anne Warren, John Davidson and Kurt Russel.  Here is a great tidbit of movie trivia:  A young lady named Goldie Jean Hawn had a small role in the film. This is where Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell met, although they wouldn’t begin their storied relationship for almost two decades.

The corn is popped, and we are ready to embark on Day 8 of Disney at the Movies.  Hope you enjoy this! #sillysymphony #disneymovienight #mickeymouse #who’safraidofthebigbadwolf #thethreelittlepigs #makeminemusic #theoneandonlygenuineoriginalfamilyband #goldiehawn #kurtrussell

Sources:

Disney A to Z The Official Encyclopedia Fourth Edition Dave Smith c. 2015 Disney Editions

The Disney Films Leonard Maltin c. 1978 Popular Library

c. Martin Blanco, Kathryn Blanco, and Disney at Home May 22, 2020

 

Disney at the Movies – Day 7

                                    Disney at the Movies – Day 7

  1. Cartoon Shorts    TheBig Bad Wolf and Mickey’s Parrot
  2. Main Feature      The Three Caballeros
  3. Live Action          The Sign of Zorro
    3 Caballeros Day 7

The Disney Studio continued its celebration of Latin American culture with The Three Caballeros. While it’s similar to Saludos Amigos, it is substantially longer, includes more animation, and showcases several exotic birds. Donald Duck is the star and Jose Carioca returns as Donald’s cultural ambassador.  There is a terrific dance sequence between Aurora Miranda (yes, Carmen’s sister) and Donald Duck.  Disney historian Dave Smith notes this is the Studio’s first venture with combining live action with animated films since the Alice films from the 1920’s.  This effect had significantly developed in two decades.  While not one of the most beloved animated films, nor one of the most artistically significant, The Three Caballeros is colorful, lively and fun, and enjoyed a profound boost to its brand in 2010 when it was thematically incorporated in the Mexican boat ride in EPCOT’S World Showcase.

Our Silly Symphony selection is The Big Bad Wolf.  Capitalizing on the success of The Three Little Pigs, Disney continued the story with three more cartoons. This installment introduces Little Red Riding Hood into the mix. We’ll continue the saga in chronological order and hope that the Pigs and Little Red will continue to outwit the Big Bad Wolf.

The next short will be Mickey’s Parrot.  We chose this cartoon because the Parrot reminds us of Jose Carioca, one of the stars of today’s feature. This delightful cartoon features Mickey, Pluto and a Parrot who mimics the voice of a dangerous killer who is on the loose.  No danger here, only laughs.

We’ll end the evening with The Sign of Zorro.  This 1960 release is nominally repackaged episodes from the television show Zorro. No matter, it was released as a feature film in the United States in 1960, and fits in perfectly with today’s theme.  Set in Southern California during the time of 19th century Spanish rule, it is full of action, adventure and Latin American culture showcased in today’s main feature.  The story is familiar to Disney enthusiasts — a skilled nobleman dons a mask and costume to fight corruption incognito — but it is one that the Disney Studios executes exceedingly well.

The corn is popped, and we are ready to embark on Day 7 of Disney at the Movies.  Hope you enjoy this! #sillysymphony #disneymovienight #mickeymouse #who’safraidofthebigbadwolf #thethreelittlepigs #thethreecaballeros #zorro

Sources:

Disney A to Z The Official Encyclopedia Fourth Edition Dave Smith c. 2015 Disney Editions

The Disney Films Leonard Maltin c. 1978 Popular Library

c.Martin Blanco, Kathryn Blanco, and Disney at Home May 21, 2020

Disney at the Movies – Day 6

Saludos A

photo by Martin Blanco

                                          Disney at the Movies – Day 6

  1. Cartoon Shorts    The Three Little Pigs and Mickey’s Trailer
  2. Main Feature      Saludos Amigos
  3. Live Action          Son of Flubber

The Disney Studio was faced with several challenges while the Second World War raged on. The Studio lost considerable revenue with the European market shut down and the US military commandeered much of the physical space.  Even so, output didn’t disappear, but the animated features were significantly scaled back in artistry, scope, and volume.

The next animated film in the canon is Saludos Amigos.  It was released in Brazil in 1942 and in America a few months later in 1943.  It is a blend of animation and live action, but nevertheless has always been regarded as a full-length animated feature.  The film is a broad survey of South American culture and geography.  Four cartoon shorts are linked together with live action film and narration.  You’ll see some familiar faces in the cartoons, such as Donald Duck and Goofy and each segment is engaging.  The film falls short as a comprehensive and authentic travelogue of South America, but like many of Disney’s efforts, it succeeds as an introduction to its subject.  At 42 minutes long, it is perhaps the shortest of Disney’s full-length animated features.

Because the main feature is short in length and pedestrian in its artistry, we are going to load the cartoon shorts with Disney’s finest.  We’ll begin with The Three Little Pigs.  This 1933 Silly Symphony was tremendously successful both for the film and the hit song “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” It won an Academy Award for Best Cartoon and “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” became the national battle cry against the ravages of the depression. Maybe we could use the song to swell our spirits during the current pandemic.

The next short will be Mickey’s Trailer.  In this 1938 cartoon, Mickey, Donald, and Goofy have a trailer that’s full of mechanical surprises.  Hitched to a car driven by Goofy, the trailer and our pals take a hair-raising journey.  It’s hilariously perilous, and imaginatively dangerous.  Buckle up and hang on tight.

We’ll end the evening with Son of Flubber. This 1963 film is the sequel to The Absent-Minded Professor.  It’s very similar to the original and that’s okay by us.

The corn is popped, and we are ready to embark on Day 6 of Disney at the Movies.  Hope you enjoy this! #sillysymphony #disneymovienight #mickeymouse #who’safraidofthebigbadwolf #thethreelittlepigs

Sources:

Disney A to Z The Official Encyclopedia Fourth Edition Dave Smith c. 2015 Disney Editions

The Disney Films Leonard Maltin c. 1978 Popular Library

c. Martin Blanco, Kathryn Blanco, and Disney at Home May 6, 2020

Disney at the Movies – Day 5

                       

Bambi Day 5

photo by Martin Blanco

                    Disney at the Movies – Day 5

  1. Cartoon Shorts    The Cookie Carnival and The Whoopee Party
  2. Main Feature      Bambi
  3. Live Action          The Love Bug

With the release of Bambi, the Disney studios achieved new milestones in animation.  All the characters are animals, and the artists spent countless hours consulting zoological experts, visiting zoos, and drawing from live animal models  Even though it was released in August 1942, the studios had been working on Bambi since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was nearing completion.  The efforts and expense paid off.  Bambi achieved a visual richness and beauty that the studios would not repeat for almost a decade.  Of course every Disney fan knows Bambi is famous for more than its outstanding artistry, and the elephant in the room in this film is Bambi’s mother.  Make sure you have a box of tissues and a therapist lined up for your children. You’ve been warned.

Because Bambi is so emotionally charged, we’ll pair it with light and exuberant fare.   The Cookie Carnival (1935) is set in a world of sentient cookies.  During the annual Cookie Queen beauty contest, a poor cookie girl wins the crown with the loving help of a poor cookie boy.  After she is crowned Cookie Queen, the boy cookies compete for her affections and for the title of Cookie King.  True love triumphs, and the imaginative renderings of baked goods will keep you smiling and make you hungry.  Have some Pepperidge Farm at the ready. You’ve been warned.

The next short will be The Whoopee Party.  This 1932 Mickey Mouse cartoon is the perfect remedy for social distancing doldrums.  The music swings, the dancing is exuberant and the food and drink are plentiful.  Minnie Mouse tickles the ivories with infectious glee and you’ll get to meet Goofy in his early incarnation of Dippy Dawg. A note of concern: this is an old cartoon and in at least one instance there is a racial depiction that is clearly out of line. Regrettably, this continues in the early Disney films, for they reflect their time both for good and bad. When we first watched The Whoopee Party with our children, we used it as a teaching moment to explain hurtful practices that are no longer acceptable.  Otherwise this is a jubilant cartoon that may well compel you to kick up your heels.   Keep it down, lest the neighbors call the police. You’ve been warned.

We’ll end the evening with The Love Bug.  If cookies can come to life, why not a race car?  This 1969 movie about is about Herbie, a Volkswagen Beetle, who helps a frustrated auto racer win titles while finding true love.  The cast features Buddy Hackett, whom your children might be delighted to know provides the voice of Scuttle from The Little Mermaid). Buckle up for laughs and thrills. You’ve been warned.

The corn is popped, and we are ready to embark on Day 5 of Disney at the Movies.  Hope you enjoy this!

#bambi #thelovebug #sillysymphony #disneymovienight #mickeymouse

Sources:

Disney A to Z The Official Encyclopedia Fourth Edition Dave Smith c. 2015 Disney Editions

The Disney Films Leonard Maltin c. 1978 Popular Library

c. Martin Blanco, Kathryn Blanco, and Disney at Home May 2, 2020

 

 

 

Disney at the Movies – Day 4

 

Dumbo Day 4

photo by Martin Blanco

                                               Disney at the Movies – Day 4

  1. Cartoon Shorts    Elmer Elephant and Mickey’s Circus
  2. Main Feature      Dumbo
  3. Live Action          Toby Tyler

Today we leave the concert hall behind to join the circus as our main feature is Dumbo.  While Dumbo did not advance cinematic art, and was far less visually sumptuous than its predecessors, it remains a beloved favorite because of its appealing story and emotional potency.  The circus imagery is delightful and Ward Kimball’s animation of Casey Junior, the locomotive that pulls the circus train, foreshadows the strong influence that steam locomotives would have on the aesthetics of the Walt Disney Company. Dumbo premiered in the fall of 1941 and was supposed to be featured on the cover of Time magazine in December, but this was sidelined for a portrait of Admiral Yamamoto in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Nevertheless, the movie was a big hit for Disney then and has lost none of its appeal in nearly 80 years.

Dumbo pairs well with Elmer Elephant.  This 1936 Silly Symphony is strikingly similar to Dumbo and one wonders if this sweet cartoon inspired Disney to pursue the Dumbo project.  Elmer, like Dumbo, is a mute elephant who faces mockery and rejection because of his physical appearance, Dumbo for his enormous ears and Elmer for his trunk. In the end, their physical features that provoked so much derision are the very things that make them heroes.

Mickey’s Circus is also from 1936.  Mickey Mouse is the ringmaster of a traveling circus.  The cartoon features ringmaster Mickey Mouse presenting a free show for dozens of orphan mice, all of whom look like young Mickey (in an adorable baby Yoda way).  Most of the cartoon features the antics of Donald Duck and a quartet of seals, as well as some naughty hijinks perpetrated by the orphans (as orphans are wont to do).

The live action feature is Toby Tyler (1960).  The time is the turn of the century. Toby is an orphan raised by a harsh aunt and uncle.  Toby literally runs away from home to join a circus.  As tantalizing as the circus seems, circus life is rife with exploitation, and there is as much sorrow and cruelty as there is joy.  Toby makes friends and enemies, and there’s just enough goodness in humanity for Toby to find his way.  This is an excellent companion to Dumbo, and if you are missing the Magic Kingdom, the circus parade at the beginning of the film will transport you to Main Street USA. Toby Tyler isn’t currently on Disney+, but it can be rented from Amazon Prime.

The kettle corn is popped, and we are ready to embark on Day 4 of Disney at the Movies.  Hope you enjoy this!

#dumbo #tobytyler # #sillysymphony #disneymovienight #mickeymouse

Sources:

Disney A to Z The Official Encyclopedia Fourth Edition Dave Smith c. 2015 Disney Editions

The Disney Films Leonard Maltin c. 1978 Popular Library

c. Martin Blanco, Kathryn Blanco, and Disney at Home April 29, 2020

Toby Tyler Day 4

TobyTyler2 Day 4

This illustration from the opening credits in TOBY TYLER is evocative of the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street USA. photo by Martin Blanco

 

Disney at the Movies – Day 3

               

Fantasia Day 3

photo by Martin Blanco

                 Disney at the Movies – Day 3

  1. Cartoon Shorts    Music Land and The Band Concert
  2. Main Feature      Fantasia
  3. Live Action          Almost Angels

It’s hard to believe that Disney released Pinocchio and Fantasia in the same year, but indeed they did.  Today’s main feature, Fantasia, had its world premiere on November 13, 1940 in Manhattan.  Not content to rest on any laurels, Disney perfected if not invented the music video, pioneered new achievements in audio technology, and augmented the artistic potential of animated film with its third full-length feature.  Fantasia was ahead of its time, despite the lukewarm initial response, because almost 80 years later, it remains a vital part of cinematic history and Disney culture.  Fantasia presents eight pieces of music from the classical (writ broadly) tradition covering almost four hundred years of music by composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Stravinsky. The most enduring is “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” segment.  Even if you’re not familiar with Paul Dukas’ music, everyone will recognize Mickey Mouse in his iconic star-adorned blue hat and red wizard cassock. This segment also revealed a new Mickey Mouse, taller and with sclera surrounding his pupils.  This rendering of Mickey remains the standard to this day.

The music is performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, one of the finest in our country, and conducted by Maestro Leopold Stowkoski. The music is interspersed with brief segments about orchestras, basic music theory, and introductions to the pieces themselves.  These are narrated by Deems Taylor, a celebrated composer and music pundit of the day.

I’ve come across criticisms that assert that literature has been debased by the Disney animated film adaptations and similarly, that Fantasia does a disservice to the music it showcases.  I would counter-argue that while the Disney films are wonderful in and of themselves, they are not an alternative to literature and music.  Rather, they are excellent gateways to the joys of reading literature and listening to orchestral music.  The best films from the Disney canon beckon one to read further, to listen more deeply, and to explore.  I feel the same way about the Disney theme parks, which is why we strive to keep the spirit of the parks active in our daily lives.

Fantasia pairs well with Music Land (1931).  This Silly Symphony is set in a magic land of sentient musical instruments. It is a love story reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet where the violin Princess from the Land of Symphony and the saxophone Prince from the Isle of Jazz must bridge the Sea of Discord that is keeping them apart.  The difference in musical styles is what fuels the animosity between the lands. The conceit is imaginatively rendered.  Rest assured there is a happy ending as true love triumphs over the Sea of Discord with a Bridge of Tranquility.  The cartoon opens with a map of Music Land, and if you only glance at it, it looks a little like an early draft of the Magic Kingdom.   It’s not, but you can almost see the Disney wheels turning.

Next, we recommend The Band Concert.  I know we just watched this, but it’s our project and we can do whatever we want.  Besides, it’s so good it deserves a second viewing and it fits in perfectly with the musical theme.

Finally, we’ll end the evening with Almost Angels.  This 1962 gem is a coming of age story set in the world of the famed Vienna Boys Choir.  It’s a sweet story, but the film is all about the music and the scenery.

This evening is also all about the music.  The corn is popped, and we are ready to embark on Day 3 of Disney at the Movies.  Hope you enjoy this!

#Fantasia #TheBandConcert #MusicLand #AlmostAngels #sillysymphony #disneymovienight #MickeyMouse

Sources:

Disney A to Z The Official Encyclopedia Fourth Edition Dave Smith c. 2015 Disney Editions

The Disney Films Leonard Maltin c. 1978 Popular Library

c. Martin Blanco, Kathryn Blanco, and Disney at Home April 25, 2020

Disney At the Movies – Day 1

Snow White Movie Night

photo by Martin Blanco

Since we’re social distancing for the long haul, we thought it would be fun to watch the entire canon of Disney animated films in chronological order.  We’ll begin with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and work our way to Frozen Two.

I saw many of these films in summer re-releases.  They would often be part of a double feature which included a live action comedy or nature adventure and sometimes they would begin with a Disney cartoon.   We thought it would be fun to recreate the complete movie theatre experience, so with each Disney animated classic, we’re going to make “pairing” suggestions.  We’ll recommend a Mickey Mouse cartoon, a Silly Symphony cartoon and a live action film that we think will pair well with the animated feature.  Of course you don’t have to watch all of them (or any of them), but we’re going to have as much fun crafting the presentations as we are watching them.

Thanks to Disney+, many of you will have unprecedented access to most, if not all, of our suggestions.  So break out your popcorn maker and DVD player or streaming device and join us at the movies.

Let us know what you think.

 

Disney at the Movies – Day 1

  1. Cartoon Shorts    Steamboat Willie and Flowers and Trees
  2. Main Feature       Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  3. Live Action           The Absent-Minded Professor

 

The main feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, was the first full-length animated feature film.  From the moment of its world premiere on December 21, 1937, the film was a triumph.  It established a level of excellence that changed both animated and live action motion pictures. The financial success gave the Walt Disney Company the capital, and Walt Disney himself the clout, to continue to develop projects that would forever change the world (for the better I would argue). I’ve watched this film more than a dozen times, and I never tire of the stunning artwork, the rich details, and the brilliant storytelling.

While Snow White… did not win any Academy Awards by election, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences saw fit to honor it with an award for what they called “significant screen innovation which has charmed millions and pioneered a great new entertainment field.”

But before watching Snow White…, we suggest opening the evening with the black-and-white short Steamboat Willie, another cinematic landmark. It has the distinction of being the first official Mickey Mouse cartoon, and was the first cartoon ever to employ the use of synchronized sound.  This little film is culturally important enough to be on display at the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum of American History.  You’ll meet Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and my favorite foil of all time, Pete. It premiered at the Colony Theatre in New York City on November 18, 1928.

The next short, Flowers and Trees, is part of Disney’s Silly Symphony series and another landmark cartoon.  It was the first cartoon from that series to be filmed in color.  The color process was created by a company called Technicolor and marked a great improvement on what was the current standard.  Flowers and Trees was released on July 30, 1932 and won the Academy Award for Best Cartoon.  It was a technological bridge to the more substantial Snow White…, particularly a sequence in which the frightened Princess is fleeing for her life in a dark, foreboding forest.  The animators anthropomorphized the fauna to make her escape that much more harrowing.  Similarly, Flowers and Trees anthropomorphized the plants and trees and you’ll see right away that the forest sequence in Snow White. . . owes much to its predecessor.

Finally, we suggest for our live action “pairing” The Absent-Minded Professor.  It was released on March 16, 1961 and it’s hard not to like this endearingly goofy film.  It centers around the follies of Professor Ned Brainard, a brilliant man of science, but a clumsy, naïve simpleton in every other aspect of his life. Brainard is played to perfection by Disney Legend #1, Fred MacMurray. Even though the good Professor can’t remember to attend his own wedding, he accidentally creates a substance that can defy gravity. The film was successful enough to spawn a sequel and a reboot decades later with Robin Williams playing Brainard. Serious Disney fans will appreciate that The Absent-Minded Professor features the first song written by Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman for a Disney film, “The Medfield Fight Song.” While the film is no great work of art, it is as funny as it is earnest.

The corn is popped and we are ready to embark on Day 1 of Disney at the Movies.  Hope you enjoy this!

#Snowwhiteandthesevendwarfs #steamboatwillie #flowersandtrees #theabsentmindedprofessor #sillysymphony #disneymovienight

 

Sources:

Disney A to Z The Official Encyclopedia Fourth Edition Dave Smith c. 2015 Disney Editions

The Disney Films Leonard Maltin c. 1978 Popular Library

 

c. Martin Blanco, Kathryn Blanco,  and Disney at Home

April 21, 2020

Top 5 Disneyland Attraction LP Records

I was a child of the vinyl era and learned about the world through listening to record albums.  I had a small but eclectic mix of LPs (as they were called) which included works by Mr. Rogers, Bible stories read by James Mason, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and several recordings by Disneyland Records.  Some of the Disneyland recordings were soundtracks from films and some were soundtracks from attractions at the parks. Many of these albums enticed listeners with the following nomenclature “A magnificent full-color illustrated book and long-playing record.”  Even though I never visited the Magic Kingdom as a child, I was often able to virtually visit through the Disneyland recordings with “magnificent” illustrations. As an adult, I frequently played these records for my children, and listening to them was part of our family life particularly between visits. Here are my Top 5 Disneyland Records theme park recordings.

  1. Walt Disney World’s Country Bear Jamboree 

Dinseyland Record #3994 c. 1972 Walt Disney World Productions

Side One comprises the soundtrack from the show.  Side two comprises music from The Mile Long Bar.  According to the D23 website, The Mile Long Bar was a saloon that served non-alcoholic drinks and remarks that “an ingenious use of mirrors makes the bar seem like it was a mile long” (D23, https://d23.com/a-to-z/mile-long-bar/  accessed 25 Feb 2018).thumbnail_IMG_2933 The first one opened in October of 1971 in Frontierland in the brand new Disney World resort.  A year later saw additional openings in Bear Country in Disneyland and in 1983 in Westernland in Tokyo Disney D23, https://d23.com/a-to-z/mile-long-bar/  accessed 25 Feb 2018).

Many artists are credited with composing the songs, but Disney music veteran George Bruns presumably had creative control and is credited with being the conductor.

None of the voices are credited on the album, but one can clearly hear the distinct voice of Thurl Ravenscroft.

This album brings us the Country Bear Jamboree and with the help of the music from the Mile Long Bar, transports us to the heart of Frontierland.

IMG_2934thumbnail_IMG_2937

 

  1. It’s A Small World

Disneyland Record #3925 c. 1964 Walt Disney Productions

We all know the song. We all know the iconic attraction which was created for the 1962 World’s Fair and has since become one of the most beloved rides for the Disney theme parks.  The album presents the soundtrack from the boat ride.  It is sparsely narrated by IMG_2931Winston Hibler, who from time to time alerts us to the different countries we are passing through.  While the melody is ubiquitous, the orchestrations mercifully change to reflect the ethnomusicology of the cultures we are visiting.

The voyage begins on Side 1 and continues on Side 2 until we are docked where we began. The album ends with the recording of the song.

There’s nothing spectacular here, but just as is the case with the ride, the joy is in its simplicity.

Winston Hibler wore many hats for the Walt Disney Company during his almost four decade career.  He was a cameraman, writer, lyricist and producer.  He also voiced the narration for the Disney True-Life Adventure Series.

As you all probably know, the song was written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman.

  1. The Story and Song from The Haunted Mansion

Disneyland Record #3947 c.1969

Side 1 of the album begins with the familiar organ notes that can only mean Disney’s Haunted Mansion. You’ll hear music and sound effects from the attraction, but the album also tells a story.  Narrated by the great Thurl Ravenscroft, the album contrived a story about Karen and Mike, who stumble across the Mansion during a storm, and they, like you, are compelled to take a journey through this ghastly home.  By the way, Ravenscroft’s sonorous bass voice is used in the attraction and his likeness is seen as the bust in the graveyard that resembles Walt Disney.   Side 2 is more satisfying.  It includes much more of the soundtrack from the ride IMG_2938including Madame Leota’s appeal to the spirits, the ghastly organ music of the ballroom, and the heartbeat of the ghostly bride in the attic. The young couple escapes unscathed, but right before they exit safely, we hear the anthem of the graveyard jamboree, “Grim Grinning Ghosts.”

Karen is voiced by Robbie Lester. Her voice graced many Disney recordings.  She appeared in many Rankin-Bass Christmas specials and did the singing for Eva Gabor in Disney films such as The Aristocats and The Rescuers.  In addition to her Disney work, Lester was a highly sought after voice artist.  Mike is voiced by Ronny Howard.  If you are wondering, yes that is the same person as acclaimed film director and portrayer of Opie Taylor, Ron Howard.

They used the soundtrack for Madame Leota, so you will enjoy the distinctive voice of Disney animated film veteran Eleanor Audley as conjurer Madame Leota.  You’ll recognize Audley’s voice as that of the wicked fairy Malificent from Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella’s evil stepmother.

The one disappointment is the absence of the voice of Paul Frees as the Ghost Host of the Haunted Mansions in California and Orlando.  In Mouse Tracks The Story of Walt Disney Records, authors Tim Hollis and Greg Ehrbar note that “Performance fees prevented the use of Paul Frees from the attraction soundtrack. . .” (Hollis 188).

Frees is one of the most accomplished voice actors of the twentieth century.  In addition to the Haunted Mansion, his is the voice of the Auctioneer in Pirates of the Caribbean, The German parrot in The Enchanted Tiki Room and the character of Professor Ludwig von Drake.  He is also the voice of many cartoon characters including Boris Badenov from The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and The Burgermeister Meisterburger from Santa Clause is Coming to Town.

The ghost host is voiced by Pete Renaday, who does an excellent job save for not being IMG_2940Paul Frees.  Renaday was another celebrated voice actor who was in fact the voice of Mickey Mouse for many years for Disney records and cassettes (Hollis 119-120).

The music for the attraction and the accompanying song “Grim Grinning Ghosts” was composed by Buddy Baker. The lyrics for the song were written by X. Attencio. You could write a book about their contributions to the Disney brand, but take note that they also wrote the popular song from The Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me).”

 

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  1. Walt Disney’s The Enchanted Tiki Room

Disneyland Record  #ST 3966 c.1968 Walt Disney Productions

This album is a double treat as Side 1 includes the music from The Enchanted Tiki Room show and Side 2 takes us on a narrated Jungle Cruise journey.

Admittedly, The Enchanted Tiki Room is not among the most thrilling attractions at the thumbnail_IMG_2920 - CopyDisney parks, but it is not without its whimsical charms and enjoys legacy status as it is the very first attraction to feature audio animatronics.  The audio animatronics were exotic birds that sing and tell jokes.

The avian ensemble comprises a chorus and four hosts from different countries, Jose from Spain, Michael from Ireland, Pierre from France, and Fritz from Germany.  Fritz is voiced by Thurl Ravenscroft.  Jose is voiced by Wally Boag, one of the stars of Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe Review.  Boag is a multitalented performer who sings and dances, plays banjo, moves like a rubber band, and folds balloons the way Michelangelo sculpts marble. Boag was also an early inspiration for the brilliant Steve Martin.

There are several songs in the show from other sources, but enthusiasts will aver that the only song that matters is the theme song “The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room” by Richard M. thumbnail_IMG_2921Sherman and brother Robert B. Sherman.  It’s hard not to like, and even harder to forget. The music for the attraction and album was arranged by George Bruns.

Side 2 takes us for a journey on the Jungle Cruise.  This attraction has no soundtrack so Disney Records used the narration from the ride itself coupled with exotic music titled “Adventureland Suite” to bring the experience to your home.  Once again, Disney Records called upon the talents of Thurl Ravenscroft to play the boat skipper. You are

Ravenscroft strikes the perfect balance between stentorian authority and high camp. The music is composed and conducted by Salvador “Tutti” Camarata. Camarata, as he was often called, was involved with Disneyland Records from the early days. He was a gifted musician who was skilled at creating soundtrack albums for home enjoyment.  According to Mouse Tracks, Annette Funicello credits him as “the force that shaped her successful recording career” (Hollis 50).

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On the front of each of these albums, not as prominently placed as the album title but still noticeable, are the enticing words “A magnificent full-color illustrated book and long-playing record.” The combination of the illustrations and the soundtrack will transport you to the Magic Kingdom in an instant.

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  1. The Official Album of Disneyland/Walt Disney World

Dinseyland Records #2510 copyright 1980

thumbnail_IMG_2916I found this record at a tag sale somewhere in Cos Cob Connecticut in the early nineties. It’s a wonderful collection of ambient music from the two Magic Kingdoms as well as some of their attractions.

 

 

 

 

Side 1:  “Main Street Electrical Parade”

Pirates of the Caribbean

Music of Main Street

The Enchanted Tike Room

Country Bear Jamboree

Side 2: The Disneyland Band

“It’s a Small World”

The Steel Drum Band

The Haunted Mansion

The Royal Street Bachelors

America Sings

The Fife and Drum Corps

The Hall of Presidents – Mr. Lincoln

Are these the five absolute best?  No, for who’s to say which are the best. There are dozens of worthy albums to choose from but my selections are all excellent and are special to me. You can find these Disney treasures at tag sales or on eBay. Disney has released a lot of theme park attraction soundtracks on cd and the internet has access to an exhaustive supply of Disney theme park music. Go find some that you and your family will enjoy.

 

article and photos by Martin Blanco  c. March 18, 2018

 

The following sources were used for this piece.

Mouse Tracks The Story of Walt Disney Records by Tim Hollis and Greg Ehrbar published by The University Press of Mississippi, c. 2006.

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The D23 Website https://d23.com/a-to-z/mile-long-bar/

10 Ways to Incorporate the Spirit of Disney into your Home

While it’s fun to configure some hidden Mickeys or fill up your home with Disney merchandise, what is it that really makes Disney such a great place to be? I’d argue it’s the little things – how it’s always clean and well lit, everybody has a smile, there are plenty of yummy treats to be had, and the flowers are always in bloom. The Disney resort is designed to delight all five senses for a welcoming atmosphere. Short of transforming your home into an amusement park, here are ten simple, subtle things you can do to bring the spirit of Disney into your home.

  1. Flowers

Keeping a vase of fresh flowers, or even dried ones, on the table at all times brings a bit of nature inside and brightens up a room. Houseplants – whether a potted tree in the living room or a row of herbs on the windowsill – also bring the beauty of nature inside. It’s a little taste of Disney’s year-round gardens.

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  1. Music

Though you might not always notice it’s there, background music is constantly playing in the Disney parks. It’s used to transition between lands and set the tone of the area. Keeping some music on in the background can change the mood in a home, as well. Certainly it can be Disney music, particularly the music that plays in the parks, but any tune will do. We usually keep a 40s station playing in the mornings during breakfast, and classical works well as background music ‘round the clock since it often lacks distracting vocals. Explore your local radio stations, borrow some CDs from the library, or craft playlists on Pandora, YouTube, Spotify, or your music provider of choice.

dscn7515-23. Treats

You may have noticed there is always an abundance of tasty treats available for guest purchase. Keeping out a sweet or salty snack 24/7 may not be the best idea health-wise. But at our house we always like to have a bag of cookies or some cheese and crackers tucked away to lay out when a guest comes to visit. A bowl of fresh fruit is a healthier option for the day-to-day. At some of the fancier hotels, they also sometimes keep out a pitcher of water with fruit or lemon in it. It’s refreshing, healthy, and a little bit elegant.

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  1. Nice trash

It may seem silly, but have you noticed all the garbage cans in Disney are beautiful? Each is themed to whichever park or hotel they’re placed in and, rather than detracting from the atmosphere, they somehow add to it. Try finding a nice trash can, it’s an inexpensive way to spruce up a room. This goes for any mundane piece of furniture or appliance that might normally be hidden away but instead can contribute to a festive atmosphere.

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  1. Cloth towels

Up until recently, the deluxe Disney hotels used to provide rolled-up cloth towels instead of paper ones in their lobbies. This may seem like a small thing, but it was just one of the many touches that made a guest feel special – there was something so luxurious about drying your hands with a warm cloth towel straight from the dryer. Try using cloth towels rather than paper ones at home. This one is a little more tricky, but we recently switched from paper napkins to cloth ones at home. They’re more absorbent, they look and feel nicer, and hey – they save paper, too!

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  1. Scents

Despite being packed with people sweltering in the Florida sunshine, the Disney resort is surprisingly stink-free. Smell is an important part of atmosphere, and after all. On Main Street, USA, especially, the scent of fresh baked goods always pervade the air. At home, we like to use a flame-lit diffuser known as Lampe Berger, but any diffuser, scented candle, or air freshener can add that extra sensory treat.

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  1. Lighting

While you can’t exactly bring the Florida sunshine into your home, keeping things well lit is cheery. But it’s not just about how bright the light is, it’s about where it’s coming from. Keep shades open in the afternoon to let in the cheery sunlight, and light candles in the evening or in cloudy weather to foster a cozy atmosphere.

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  1. Classic Cartoons

Granted, this one is slightly less subtle, but still fairly unobtrusive. If you’ve ever stayed at a Disney hotel, you’ll know that Disney cartoons are playing all the time. Once I enter the lobby of a hotel and see a TV surrounded by tiny furniture, I know I’m home! While the lobby TV’s now play the new Mickey and the Gang cartoons, I prefer the classics, or even some Silly Symphonies. Either way, having some Disney cartoons on in the background morning or evening feels like having a piece of the resort in your home.

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  1. Art & maps

A bare wall is rarely to be found in Disney World. Some nice prints – Disney related or otherwise – add decoration easily. Maps, especially, add character and present opportunities for adventure.

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  1. Entertainment

There is always something to do in Disney World. Even in the quieter places, a guest can always be entertained. In your home, try keeping out a puzzle everybody can add to when they have a few minutes to spare. Leaving out art supplies can also foster spur-of-the-moment creativity. Try sharing a coloring book or contributing to a family collage. These are both fun family activities and calming stress-relievers.

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by Kathryn Blanco

all photos property of Kathryn Blanco