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Walt Disney’s office has been restored to how it was in 1966.

On Friday, March 18, D23 Gold and Gold Family Members are invited to Lunch with a Disney Legend: Charlie Ridgway in the American Adventure Parlor at Epcot. During the special event, guests can enjoy a three-course luncheon with Charlie and ask him about his 40 years as a Disney press agent, creating more than 150 memorable press events at locations around the globe.

To learn more about Charlie, here are five fascinating facts about his career at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts:

 

  1. Charlie began work at Disneyland before he was even hired as a Cast Member. 

Charlie first promoted Disneyland as a news reporter during the park’s construction, authoring some of the first articles written about the Magic Kingdom in any of the major metropolitan newspapers! He also covered the opening day ceremonies on July 17, 1955. Charlie officially joined the Disneyland publicity staff in 1963, with an office inside the Main Street, U.S.A. police station.

 

2. Charlie helped make the Pirates of the Caribbean opening ceremony a swashbuckling adventure to remember. 

Pirates of the Caribbean wasn’t quite ready for guests when the New Orleans Square press event took place in 1966. So the following year, Charlie and his team were tasked to organize an even grander event along the Rivers of America. With members of the press aboard, the Sailing Ship Columbia was overtaken with rascally pirates, captained by Disneyland comic Wally Boag. Amid the pillaging and plundering—and sword fights!—the press was later led to the attraction, where they watched pirates storm the entrance and first experienced one of the most beloved attractions in Disney park history.

 

3. To celebrate Donald Duck’s 50th birthday in 1984, Charlie hatched a brilliant idea.

After learning about the only way to train a troupe of Peking ducks to follow Donald Duck all around the Magic Kingdom, Charlie arranged for Donald to introduce himself to the 50 ducklings at birth. Moving from their Miami, Florida hatchery to Walt Disney World, the ducks formed a very strong attachment to their “mother,” following Donald across the park in one of the most unique Disney PR stunts ever put on. And, as a highlight for guests, Donald Duck’s 50th Birthday Parade culminated in a float hosting the puckish ducks, who donned specially-created birthday hats. Who couldn’t remember this Magic Kingdom celebration?

 

 

4. Charlie directed the photography of some of the most beloved Disney park images of all time. 

From staging the last photograph of Walt at Disneyland to directing the October 15, 1971 LIFE magazine cover showcasing the entire Magic Kingdom Cast, Charlie’s efforts have found their way into countless newspapers, journals, books, and photo prints. Charlie’s publicity work surrounding the openings of EPCOT Center, Disney-MGM Studios, Disneyland Paris, and other parks around the globe have been nothing short of legendary.

 

5.In 2013, “Charles Ridgway Day” was announced in a U.S. city. 

On the occasion of Charlie’s 90th birthday, Orlando City Mayor Buddy Dyer proclaimed July 26 as Charles Ridgway Day! The honor is one of many received by Charlie, including his induction as a Disney Legend in 1999.

These are just five fascinating facts about Charlie’s incredible career with The Walt Disney Company. Learn more about Charlie’s amazing accomplishments at Lunch with a Disney Legend: Charlie Ridgway on March 18, 2016.

Walt Disney’s office has been restored to how it was in 1966.

The happiest Disney suite on earth?

 

Walt Disney’s office has been restored to how it was in 1966, the year of his death.

 

BY CHAD GARLAND

 

   Stepping into Suite 3H at the original animation building at the Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank is like slipping back in time a half-century to take a peek at Walt’s office as it was in 1966, the year of the entertainment company founder’s death.

   Disney used the third-floor office from 1940, when the animation building opened, until his death. It was closed for a few years before archivist Dave Smith inventoried it, then it was used by his successors at the helm of the studio until the early 1990s. The suite was then occupied by producers — including, most recently, “Desperate Housewives” creator Marc Cherry.

   After Cherry moved out, Disney Chairman and Chief Executive Robert Iger gave the go-ahead for “what we’ve been dreaming of for years,” said Becky Cline, Walt Disney archives director: a return to the way the office was in the late 1960s.

   Using old photos as a guide, archivists faithfully restored the space this year as part of the studio’s 75th anniversary in Burbank, using original items cataloged by Smith or reproductions of the few items lost to time or too sensitive to display.

 

Harrison Ford To Unveil 'Star Wars' Plans For Disney's Theme Parks

Han Solo returns to a galaxy far, far away... sort of.

Harrison Ford is returning to the "Star Wars" universe one more time.

The actor, who plays Han Solo, will reveal Disney's plans for "Star Wars" attractions in its theme parks during a Feb. 21 TV special celebrating 60 years of Disneyland, ABC announced in a news release. 

Disney said last year that both Disneyland in Anaheim and Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Florida will be getting "Star Wars" themed lands.

Parts of Disneyland closed earlier this month to make room for the construction. 

However, not much is known about the attractions that will be in the themed lands, beyond that there will be one that features a battle between the First Order and the Resistance, and one that involves flying the Millennium Falcon. 

That could change when Ford offers a preview of the new attractions on "The Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60."

The two-hour special celebrating the park's history will also feature Elton John, Josh Gad and Witney Carson, and will be hosted by Derek Hough.

In addition, the Los Angeles Philharmonic will perform "The Sorcerer’s Apprentice" from the 1940 animated film "Fantasia."

 

Restoring Walt Disney's Birthplace Home

At the DFC's Disney Legend ceremony, we will also be holding a silent auction benefitting the Walt Disney Birthplace Restoration! At the house in Chicago, where both Walt and his brother Roy were born, a group of volunteers are working at restoring the home that the Disney's parents, Elias and Edna, designed and built themselves. You can find out more about the project at their website, http://TheWaltDisneyBirthplace.org.

If you are unable to participate in the silent auction, the Walt Disney Birthplace Restoration is also holding their Summer Celebration fundraiser on-line with perks for those supporting their latest fundraising goals. (The current fundraiser will end Friday evening.)

To find out more about their summer fundraiser, please go to https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-walt-disney-birthplace-summer-celebration#/story
 

 

Star Wars-Themed lands Coming to Walt Disneyland World and Disneyland Resorts

 

 

ANAHEIM, Calif. (Aug. 15, 2015) – Today at the D23 EXPO 2015, The Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger announced to an audience of more than 7,500 fans that Star Wars-themed lands will be coming to Disneyland park in Anaheim, Calif., and Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., allowing Star Wars fans to step into the stories from a galaxy far, far away.

Ambitious plans to bring Star Wars to life in the two parks include creating Disney’s largest single themed land expansions ever at 14 acres each, transporting guests to a never-before-seen planet, a remote trading port and one of the last stops before wild space where Star Wars characters and their stories come to life.

“I am thrilled to announce the next chapter in the long and exciting history between Disney Parks and Star Wars,” said Iger. “We are creating a jaw-dropping new world that represents our largest single themed land expansion ever. These new lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will transport guests to a whole new Star Wars planet, including an epic Star Wars adventure that puts you in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance.”

These authentic lands will have two signature attractions. Along with the thrilling battle experience, another attraction puts guests behind the controls of one of the most recognizable ships in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon, as they take on a customized secret mission.

Iger also shared concept images of the Star Wars-themed lands, giving fans a glimpse at what is to come for Disney parks.

The partnership between Disney and Lucasfilm dates back to 1987, when the successful Star Tours attraction, inspired by George Lucas’s legendary Star Wars film series, opened at Disneyland. The attraction was then redesigned, emerging as “Star Tours – The Adventures Continue” in 2011 and featuring more than 50 different story outcomes and the possibility to visit five different planets.

For 60 years, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has been delighting millions of people with fantastic storytelling, exceptional entertainment and extraordinary experiences, creating places where guests can make life-long memories with their friends and families. This announcement marks an unprecedented time of growth with exciting developments happening around the world – from Disneyland Resort’s Diamond Celebration to the anticipated opening of Shanghai Disney Resort in China.

 

 

New ‘Paint the Night’ Parade Added to Entertainment for Mickey’s Halloween Party, Joining ‘Halloween Screams’ Fireworks

 

ANAHEIM, Calif. (Aug. 19, 2015) – Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort receives a Diamond Celebration infusion for 2015, making the season shine as never before as Halloween Time sparkles with Diamond Celebration décor and entertainment. The one-of-a-kind celebration of chilling, family-friendly fun will begin Friday, Sept. 11, and continue through Sunday, Nov. 1, with 17 nights dedicated to Mickey’s Halloween Party.

The popular, separate-ticket Mickey’s Halloween Party expands to 17 nights beginning Friday, Sept. 25. The after-hours party treats guests to an array of special entertainment, along with traditional Halloween Time fun. For the first time, the “Paint the Night” parade, new for the Diamond Celebration, will be presented at Mickey’s Halloween Party, along with a new superhero-themed dance party at Tomorrowland Terrace. These offerings are in addition to the “Halloween Screams” fireworks spectacular, a guest favorite that is exclusive to Mickey’s Halloween Party. Adults and children are encouraged to dress in costume for the party as they trick-or-treat throughout Disneyland park for a scary good time.

Highlights of Mickey’s Halloween Party include:here ghosts appear out of the starry darkness and swirling galaxies of Space Mountain, reaching out as if to grab guests as they 

 

Diamond Celebration Sparkles with Dazzling Entertainment, Décor, Food; Disneyland Diamond Days Sweepstakes Gives Away Daily Prizes

 

ANAHEIM, Calif. – For six decades, the Disneyland Resort has explored the frontiers of immersive storytelling and entertainment technology, bringing exciting attractions and inventive entertainment to life for guests from around the world.

“Few companies have both a legendary past as well as a limitless future,” said Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company.  “But we had the great fortune to be founded with a spirit of creativity and innovation — one that continues to define this phenomenal company, allowing us to keep moving forward to meet the future without ever losing sight of who we are and where it all started.  We’re thrilled to usher in Disneyland’s Diamond Anniversary and celebrate the triumph of imagination in a place where dreams really do come true.”

A glittering new parade, new fireworks spectacular and all-new “World of Color” show raise the bar, once again, on creativity and entertainment technology, keeping the Disneyland Resort and its guests forever young.

  • “Paint the Night – All-New Electrical Parade” – When the lights go down in Disneyland, the Diamond Celebration illuminates the park with a brilliant, new parade. The luminescent parade creates a river of color flowing down Main Street, U.S.A., with an array of Disney characters and more than 1.5 million brilliant LED lights that flash and glow as Mickey Mouse uses his vivid imagination to “Paint the Night.” With dazzling special effects, unforgettable music, energetic performances, fun surprises and spectacular floats, “Paint the Night” is more vibrant than any parade in 60 years at the Disneyland Resort. Even the choreography glows, as parade performers light up with their props and costumes.

 

Macy's Parade Studio gets some major Buzz (Lightyear) going at D23 EXPO 2015

 

Can you believe it? This November (November 19th, to be precise) marks the 20th anniversary of the release of "Toy Story."

D23 -- the Official Disney Fan Club -- wanted to do something special to commemorate this occasion. So they arranged for John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich and other Pixar Animation Studios veterans to come on down to Anaheim. Where -- as part of D23 EXPO 2015 (which officially gets underway today at the Anaheim Convention Center) -- Lasseter & Co. will look back at all of the challenges they faced while working on the world's first full length computer animated feature.

 

This panel (which -- appropriately enough -- will be entitled "Toy Story: 20 Years Later, the Original Crew Looks Back" and will be presented on Stage 23 on Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m.) was a good start. But given the huge impact that Pixar's first full length feature had has on pop culture ... Well, a production crew reunion really didn't seem to be enough. This occasion called for something bigger. Something grander.

Like -- say -- a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon.

But here's the thing: The folks who work at Macy's Parade Studio are very protective of their inflatables. The only other time that they've ever allowed their full-sized Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons to be seen outside of the context of that annual procession was back in late 1992. Which was when Disney-MGM Studios tethered these inflatables along the rooftops of its backlot as this theme park presented ''Macy's New York Christmas.''

"But when D23 called about 8 or 9 months ago about the possibility of us bringing the Buzz Lightyear out to Anaheim ... Well, given that Disney & Macy's have been partners for so long and given that the 20th anniversary of 'Toy Story' really is a special occasion, it made sense to send this balloon west," said Amy Kule, the Executive Producer of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. "But to make sure that Buzz looks his best for his D23 debut, we decided to bring four members of our elite balloon team from the Macy's Parade Studios out to the EXPO."

 

"John and the other artists at Pixar were very, very hands-on, good collaborative partners when it came to developing the Buzz Lightyear character balloon. They were the ones who came up with Buzz' heroic pose with that one arm jutting out. This is a character balloon that -- even when it's netted on the ground -- just looks it belongs in the sky," Kule continued. "Mind you, what we brought to the table is our expertise when it comes to building, designing and flying balloons. We were the ones who suggested to the people at Pixar that they were going to need to creep in the length of Buzz's wings. Because -- for safety & operational reasons -- the character balloons that we design for Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade always have to fit within a specific flying envelope in order to make it down the streets of Manhattan."

 

Once every compartment within Buzz's balloony body is filled with helium ... Well, for this space ranger's cameo appearance at the D23 EXPO ("Why use the word 'cameo?,' you ask. Because the character balloon version of this Pixar favorite is only going to be on display outside of the Anaheim Convention for today. Tonight after the last attendee clears out of this three day-long event, Lightyear will be pulled down, get deflated and then be packed up & shipped off to New Jersey), Buzz's guide ropes wound up being tied to 10 ballasts. Which were so heavy that Macy's Parade Studio crew had to use forklifts to move these anchoring pieces into place.

 

It obviously took a lot of after-hours effort to get this Buzz Lightyear character balloon inflated & then tied down. But judging by John Lasseter's happy expression in the pre-dawn hours, the Chief Creative Officer of Pixar & Walt Disney Animation Studios was clearly glad to see his old inflatable friend. Because this version of Buzz is someone that John has actually spent an awful lot of time with.

 

To explain: Lasseter so enjoyed working with Macy's Parade Studio on this project that -- when the Buzz Lightyear balloon was officially added to the line-up of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade -- John didn't want to let go.

"He was so enamored with our creative process and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade itself that John volunteered to become a balloon handler for Buzz," Amy recalled. "And John didn't do this just once. He was a balloon handler for Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade for multiple years. He didn't want anybody to know. So we dressed him like everybody else. And he wanted to be treated like everybody else. John Lasseter's a superstar. That's why we invite him back year after year."

 

It's just these sorts of behind-the-scene stories that make Disneyana enthusiasts from around the globe travel to Anaheim. Just so they can then experience the D23 EXPO. Just so you know: The 2015 edition is already sold out for Saturday, August 15th. But there are still some tickets available for Sunday. So if you'd like to see what's got Disney fandom buzzing, be sure and check out this biennial event. 

 

This article was originally posted on the Huffington Post's Entertainment page on Friday, August 14, 2015