Top Five Disney Misconceptions That ‘Everyone’ Believes

We know everything about Disney, right? With so many books written and so many more websites sharing insights and information, the ‘truth’ is out there, right? Not really.

Sometimes urban legend and rumor can overshadow simple fact. So here is my list of the Top Five misconceptions about Walt Disney, his company, and his characters:

NUMBER FIVE

DISNEY PARKS ARE ‘DYING BY DEGREES’

Disney Park Maintenance

This is true-ish, but mostly false, for all intents and purposes. Many Internet sites point out every burned-out light bulb, notice every piece of blowing garbage, and pick away at the overall cleanliness of the parks. I admit these things are present, but no more-so, and probably less-so, than at any other competing theme park.

Are Disneyland and Walt Disney World less maintained than when they first opened? Yes. Are there less new rides being added year after year? Yes. Are there less extra offerings than in past times? Yes. Hmm, It seems I’m discrediting my own case!

But is it really that bad? Park attendance is at an all-time high with the off-season all but gone. Disney parks still have a rabid following. Internet sites about the parks are growing in number and readership. What are we to conclude from this?

That a Disney park is still better than any other theme park… period. But admittedly, that could change. Universal Studios has had enormous success with the Harry Potter franchise and many other parks have better roller coasters and thrill rides. As the demographics of theme park attendees grows younger, this could cause a change from wholesome entertainment (Disney) to more vibrant and exciting offerings (the competition).

For now though, Disney parks are not dying, by degrees or otherwise!

NUMBER FOUR

TOM HANKS IS WALT DISNEY’S LOVE CHILD

Question Man

What, am I the only one who’s heard this rumor? To sum it up: It’s not true.

NUMBER THREE

DISNEY IS JUST ABOUT THE MONEY

Walt Disney Dollar Bill

OK, at times, The Walt Disney Company can seem a little money-hungry. OK, maybe a lot money-hungry! Many criticize the company as having lost the focus of its founder, Walt Disney, for he himself famously said:

“You reach a point where you don’t work for money.” “We don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies.” “Money doesn’t excite me, my ideas excite me.” “Disneyland is a work of love. We did not go into Disneyland just with the idea of making money.”

This orgy of evidence seems to damn the billion-dollar corporation that is Disney today. But there is something people are missing, and it’s exposed in this last quote about money from Walt Disney: “I’d say it’s been my biggest problem all my life… it’s money. It takes a lot of money to make these dreams come true.” (italics mine)

So with that in mind, what way do we want it? Do we want The Walt Disney Company to cut profits and make less money for its shareholders so as to appear to be more Walt-like, or do we want the magic to continue? Times have changed and things aren’t financed on a shoe-string and a handshake, like in Walt’s day. Now there are Unions demanding higher salaries, contractors with higher running expenses, skyrocketing costs of goods, and many more building codes and hoops to jump through than in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Could Disney pay their front-line Cast Members more? Yes. Does Disney need to charge so much for admission tickets? No. Could the company learn more from its founder? Yes. Are any of these things going to happen? Not likely.

But dreams cost money. Even Walt admitted that. So yes, The Walt Disney Company is about the money, because it has to be to survive in these modern times.

NUMBER TWO

IT ALL STARTED WITH A MOUSE

Mickey vs Oswald

Not quite. Oswald, whose hand you see holding the sign on the t-shirt above, would have something to say about that! But even Oswald has to take second place to Alice from the Alice Comedies, the little live-action girl who played in a cartoon world.

But even before these two competitors, Walt was working on Laugh-O-Grams, re-making old fairy tales into modern stories. Oh yeah, and he did advertising before that. So Mickey wasn’t first in the chronological sense.

But… he did ‘start’ the ascension of Walt Disney as the premier genius of animation. With Mickey Mouse came a whole new era of character and innovation that set the rest of the animation studios scrambling to keep up! And without Mickey Mouse, there wouldn’t have been a Snow White feature-length film. Without that, there wouldn’t have been a Disneyland.

So Mickey Mouse did start a lot, but he just wasn’t the very first something that Walt Disney created.

NUMBER ONE

WALT DISNEY IS CRYOGENICALLY FROZEN

Cryo Tanks

Picture by David Kadlubowski

This urban legend needs to die. Seriously. I heard a speaker state this as an absolute fact during a lecture once, which caused me to doubt his authority in anything else he had to say!

It is true that Walt Disney loved technology and perhaps he researched this possibility at one point, but there doesn’t seem to be any conclusive evidence to support this. I’ve read many books by people who were close to him during his last days and none mentioned cryogenic freezing as Walt’s final resting place.

His family state that he was interned, and that’s good enough for me!

So why do rumors like this get started? Perhaps it’s because people like to believe the incredible, especially if it involves a negative or strange thing about a celebrity. Walt-bashers like to use this to show how weird Walt was and as an excuse to mock him. Although Walt wasn’t perfect, he wasn’t given to unrealistic fancies. The technology he used had to be tested and true, and then perfected, before it was used anywhere in his empire. Therefore, it is very unlikely that he would have placed his very life in the hands of such an uncertain technology.

So what do you think of my list? Would you add anything? Or do you disagree with anything I’ve included? After all, I could be wrong about Tom Hanks. If so, let us know in the comment section below.

Book Review: Mickey Mouse Club Scrapbook

I’ve reviewed the Special Souvenir Edition (SSE) of this book, but in this post I will focus on the regular edition, as it were.

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This book was compiled by Keith Keller and published by Grosset & Dunlap of New York.

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Back Cover

This version of the scrapbook is essentially the same but does contain some more interesting pictures than its SSE sibling. The regular version starts out with an introduction to the Producer of the show, Bill Walsh. This is new to this version. He spends a few pages telling the story of how the Mickey Mouse Club got on the air. Remember, this was about the same time that Disneyland was being built, as seen below:

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There are many wonderful full-page spreads of vintage ads and bulletin pages that were distributed to fan clubs:

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Next we meet the Mouseketeers, and see how they spent some of their off-screen time, and the rehearsal process:

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  Call Sheet

Next we learn about the production of the show, its format, about the Serials, and then about Mouseketeer Mania! There were jumpsuits, ring promotions, records, and:

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And who was everyone’s favorite Mouseketeer?

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Who’s the little lady that we never will forget? – Annette!

The book closely follows the SSE version from here. There is the songbook, the Mouseketeers today (or at least, as of 1975), a call to find a few missing Mouseketeers, and a final dedication to Jimmie Dodd (1910-1964).

Here is what two Mouseketeers thought of the book:

“It’s such a thrill to see a book like this. It’s like reliving my childhood.” – Annette Funicello

“A terrific record of the good times!” – Bobby Burgess (later, of the Lawerence Welk Show)

I would give this book a 5 out of 5 stars for being so full of nostalgia, just like its SSE sibling! Any fan of the show, Annette, or early Disney lore will love it!

Mickey Mouse ‘Thumbs Up’ Ceramic Wastebasket

The thing I love the most about collecting is that you never know what you are going to find when you set foot in an antique store or flea market. Yard sales are also prime locations for finding surprises!

My newest find is featured here, and it’s pretty cool:

Mickey Ceramic Wastebasket 1

Thumbs up from Mickey!

This is a fairly heavy piece. Presumably it is metal with a ceramic casing inside and out. It is finished off with a metal ring around the rim. It also has three rubberized feet:

Mickey Ceramic Wastebasket 2

Not microwave safe???

I don’t know about you, but I learned not to put my garbage cans in the microwave that time I forgot to empty them first. Boy, was my wife mad!

Wash thoroughly before use???

I’m just going to say this: It’s a wastebasket! I’m going to throw dirty things into it! What do I care if it’s clean before I do that? I never knew the Taiwanese were such clean freaks!

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It’s new home

We needed a little wastebasket in our bedroom so this fit right in nicely. After I washed it thoroughly and gave it 30 seconds in the nuker. I just couldn’t resist!

Movie Review: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – 1916 Version

Welcome! Please prepare yourselves as we ready this post to travel into the deep past of cinematic history. Back to a time when ‘technology’ wasn’t a word yet and films were still in black and white and without sound. If you’re ready, I give you:

Movie Cover

This was the first motion picture filmed underwater. Actual underwater cameras were not yet invented, so a system of watertight tubes and mirrors were used to allow the camera to shoot reflected images of underwater scenes. These had to be staged in shallow sunlit waters which then doubled for deep-sea locations, like the ocean floor.

So there was some ‘technology’ involved. In this case, brothers Ernest and George Williamson did the honors, and here is what the title cards had to say about their contribution:

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These two inventive men did such a good job that they even got a few seconds of screen time, something even the director, Stuart Paton, didn’t get! And here they are:

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The film was made by The Universal Film Manufacturing Company which was later to become Universal Pictures. The film’s innovative special effects, location photography, large sets, exotic costumes, sailing ships, and full-size navigable mock-up of the surfaced submarine Nautilus led to an incredibly high budget for the day!

And just how good were the effects in this film? Let’s have a look at some stills:

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The Nautilus

Looking like a blurry picture of the Loch Ness Monster, this image could be of almost any modern-day submarine. There was no effort to make the craft look futuristic.

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Undersea Images

The Williamson boys did their best, and I’m sure these images looked better back in the day on the big screen, but the print I viewed did them no justice. But considering this was the first time anyone had even tried to film under water, kudos for the effort!

There were some similarities between Disney’s big budget 1954 film. Such as the undersea walking, farming, and funeral scenes:

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Turtle Soup tonight!

Allen Holubar plays the title character of Captain Nemo. His performance was… interesting. I think they must have served a lot of ham at the catering truck during filming. His performance was over-the-top to say the least, but he had some strong competition from the rest of the cast!

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Both my wife and I saw this moment in the film and thought it looked a little like Santa Claus on Weight Watchers talking to his elves! Once that image got into our minds, it was hard to take him seriously throughout the rest of the film.

Before I rate this film, let me give you a brief (?) synopsis of the plot: A giant ‘sea creature’ has been sinking ships on the high seas so the government sends a professor and his daughter (?) on another ship to investigate. Seems safe enough. It wasn’t. Nemo rams the ship and then rescues the Professor and his daughter and spends half the film showing them the ocean floor. Meanwhile, a balloon is launched (?) which crashes on an island inhabited by ‘a child of nature’, or beautiful jungle girl. This is a nod to another Jules Verne classic, Mysterious Island. Then a yacht arrives (?) with a guy who abandoned a girl on the same island years earlier and he just thought he’d drop by to see if she was still alive. Seems a decent thing to do. But one of the balloon guys kidnaps the girl and takes her onto the yacht which is then torpedoed by Nemo after which he rescues them too.

Now here is where it gets interesting:

In elaborate flashback scenes to India, Nemo reveals that he is Prince Daaker, and that he created the Nautilus to seek revenge on the yacht guy for causing the death of his wife and for stealing his daughter (!) He is overjoyed to discover that the abandoned wild girl is his long-lost daughter, but then he drops dead. His loyal crew bury him in the ocean, disband, and leave the Nautilus to drift to its own watery grave.

The film ends with a shot of one of the balloon guys and the long-lost daughter looking off into the sunset. Presumably, everyone else died. The end.

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Captain Nemo in happier times

I would give this film a 3 out of 5 Stars. It doesn’t deserve that many stars based on the storytelling but it is pretty amazing that they managed to film under water and do a fairly good job of it. Also, you have to consider how much of an impact it would have had on 1916 audiences!

This film has a G rating. It contains: Two attempted rapes. Child abuse. Three kidnappings (all of the same girl). Murder. Suicide. And a storyline that basically has a maniac destroying dozens of ships and killing hundreds of people just because he hates one man. But we are told that he feels bad about it. This film has a G rating. I just thought I’d say it again.

I recommend the Disney version.