History, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

Things We Take For Granted at Walt Disney World

We visited our local amusement park a few weeks ago, and when we ordered a fountain drink, we watched the vendors struggle to find enough ice to fill our cup. This got us thinking, that would never happen at Disney. What else do we take for granted at Walt Disney World?

Cleanliness

Walt Disney Picking Up Trash
Walt Disney picking up trash at Disneyland

Staying clean is an important characteristic of Disney parks that separates them from other parks. Of course, that idea started with Walt. He wanted his parks to be so clean that people would be embarrassed to throw anything on the ground. While that wish hasn’t come true, it is true that Walt Disney World cast members (AKA employees) all pitch in to keep the parks clean. Cast members at all levels, from ride operators, to managers, to executives are required to pick up any trash they see as they walk through the parks. One of the hardest things to clean is gum – so you won’t find any for sale on Disney property.

Trash Cans

Trash Cans Close Arrows Resized
Trash cans all around, helping keep trash off the ground.

To minimize the need to pick up wrappers and waste, trash cans are strategically placed at Disney parks. Walt Disney, after studying guests at other parks (and reportedly seeing how long it took him to finish a hot dog while walking), placed trash cans no more than 30 steps away from any spot to encourage people to throw away their trash instead of dropping it on the ground. While this doesn’t stop all trash from being left where it doesn’t belong, it definitely reduces it. A clean park is one factor in an amazing guest experience.

Camouflage

Disney parks go to great lengths to hide the behind-the-scenes workings. From the utilidoors that keep Magic Kingdom operations “underground,” to scenery that hides the infrastructure, it’s truly an immersive experience. Compare that to most amusement parks where, as you navigate the sections of the park, you can see service vehicles, the fence at the edges of the property, or electrical boxes. Seeing those things isn’t bad, but changes the experience. It’s Disney’s attention to these details that make you feel as if you are in another world.

Friendly Cast Members

IMG_54041
This cast member at Sweet Spells at Hollywood Studios gave our son a free Mickey Mouse cookie!

More times than not you’ll see a friendly face at park gates, restaurants, rides, and more. It’s all part of the experience Disney is trying to create. Cast members go through intensive training and have strict rules around interacting with park guests. At our local park, I wouldn’t say the employees are mean, just indifferent and doing their jobs.

Anything else?

We just returned from our most recent trip to The World, and had a better appreciation for the immersive experience Disney creates. What else do we take for granted at Disney parks?

Disney Films, History

Today in Disney History: Flowers and Trees Released in 1932

 

Flowers and Trees
Flowers and Trees Theatrical Release Poster

Flowers and Trees, released on July 30, 1932, is part of Walt Disney’s Silly Symphony series of cartoon shorts. Set to classical music, the film features flowers, trees, mushrooms, birds, and other living things waking on a lovely spring morning. Two young trees are in love, and a third, older tree is clearly jealous. The older tree starts a fire in anger after losing a fight, but the birds are there to save the day.

 

Flowers and Trees was the first commercially released film to use three-strip Technicolor, which helped propel the film to win the first Academy Award for Animated Short Subjects. Walt Disney would go on to win this category with other short cartoons the next 10 out of 11 years!

There are 75 short animated films in Walt Disney’s Silly Symphony series. Familiar titles include:

  • The Skeleton Dance (1929)
  • The Ugly Duckling (1931)
  • The Three Little Pigs (1933)
  • The Wise Little Hen (1934) – The first appearance of Donald Duck
  • The Tortoise and the Hare (1935)

The Silly Symphony series gave Walt the freedom to experiment with animation, special effects, and story telling. This undoubtedly paved the way for his future success in full-length animated films such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which was released in 1937.

 

History, Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World

Today in Disney History: Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Opens at WDW

On July 29, 1999, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith opened at Disney-MGM Studios – known today as Disney’s Hollywood Studios. A special, invitation-only, party was held and attended by contest winners and members of Aerosmith, who are featured in the ride. You can find Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at the end of Sunset Boulevard next to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

 

Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
Exterior of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster featuring a giant guitar

 

The Queue and Launch

As with most Disney attractions, you are immersed in a story. The queue begins with a tour through music memorabilia that leads to Aerosmith’s recording studio. Guests watch the band rehearse until they are interrupted by their band manager, warning them they are going to be late to their show. Steven Tyler objects to leaving the guests behind, and convinces the manager to call a limo and provide back stage passes. She reluctantly agrees and calls for a stretch limo, pauses a moment, then says, “make that a super stretch.”

Doors open to the “parking garage” where, on the other side of a chain-link fence, you can watch the “limos” speeding off to the concert, reaching speeds of 58 mph in less than 2.8 seconds. The excitement builds as it’s your turn to board the limo. As you face the tunnel into the ride, you are reminded to keep your head back (very important!). Steven Tyler counts down, “5, 4, 3, 2” (skipping 1) and you speed off into the ride.

 

Aerosmith Studio
Aerosmith Rehearsing in Their Recording Studio

 

The Ride Experience

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is exclusively an indoor ride, and mostly in the dark. As if you are on a highway at night, you pass neon road signs directing you to the show. The ride features three inversions, a roll over with two inversions, and later, a corkscrew. The ride ends when you reach the VIP parking area for the concert. You head “backstage” which, in true Disney fashion, leads to a gift shop.

Ride facts:

  • Launches guests from 0-58 mph in less than 2.8 seconds.
  • Takes riders through three inversions.
  • Features five “limos” that have their own license plates and sound tracks.
    • 1QKLIMO – “Nine Lives”
    • 2FAST4U – “Sweet Emotion”
    • BUHBYE – “Young Lust, “F.I.N.E.*” and “Love in a Roller Coaster”
      HBTRFFC
      – “Back in the Saddle,” and “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)”
    • UGOBABE – “Love in a Roller Coaster” (custom version of “Love in an Elevator”) and “Walk This Way”
  • Is currently sponsored by Hanes.
  • Both Fastpass + and single rider lines available.
  • Test Track at Epcot is the only faster ride at WDW – 65 mph.

 

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is one of my favorite attractions at Walt Disney World. The high-speed launch beats a traditional coaster lift hill any day in my book. The theming is creative and detailed, and the music adds to the excitement. The only change I would make would be for it to be longer. Do you enjoy Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster? What is your favorite ride at Walt Disney World?

History, News

Today in Disney History: Treasure Island

 

Treasure_Island_(1950_film)_poster
Treasure Island Poster

On July 19, 1950, Walt Disney Productions released Treasure Island, the studio’s first completely live-action film. This pirate tale was based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel of the same name.

 

The film stars Bobby Driscoll as Jim Hawkins, a young boy who is given a treasure map belonging to buccaneer Captain Flint. Jim becomes part of a crew that sets off to follow the map to find the pirate’s lost treasure. Before they can depart, Long John Silver joins the expediton as the ship’s cook and helps hire the crew.

Jim discovers that Long John Silver and the crew, who were actually Captain Flint’s former crew, plan mutiny. Jim warns the captain, who is successfully able to stop the mutiny attempt.

A series of “piratey” events ensue, leading to the revelation that the treasure has been moved to a cave. The cave is found and Long John Silver manages to row away with one of the chests of treasure.

Treasure Island was filmed in England and released in the US on July 19 and in London on July 22. A sequel, not produced by Disney, was released in 1954 and continued the pirate adventures of Jim Hawkins and Long John Silver.

Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean series was certainly influenced by Treasure Island. In addition to general pirate lore:

  • Barbossa naming his monkey Jack after his former captain Jack Sparrow.
  • Gibbs sings part of a song from Treasure Island.
  • Barbossa and Long John Silver are both feared as one-legged men.

Treasure Island has been released several times in different formats. Time to find a copy and watch this piece of Disney history!