The Windsor Star Weekend Magazine

This large format 28-page magazine supplement was quite an impressive publication in its day! The two copies that I have were inserted into the weekend edition of The Windsor Star newspaper in the late 1970’s. It had both black and white and color pages.

September 17th and November 5th, 1977

I found these at a yard sale just outside of Windsor, ON. I paid $2.00 a piece for them which is funny when you consider that they were given away free with a newspaper almost 40 years ago!

But I think you can guess why I bought them?

    

10 1/2″ x 12″

Obviously Mickey and Minnie caught my eye and so buying that issue was a no-brainer. I also love vintage television programs so the other issue also became a must-have.

So let’s take a look at the content of the article entitled 50 Years of Mickey Mouse:

This was a fun but brief article which you are welcome to read by enlarging the pictures above. I especially enjoyed page 11 as I have some of the merchandise pictured there!

Apart from the cover story in the second issue of this set, I found another Disney reference inside. Disney placed an advertisement on pages 14 and 15:

Who wants some cookies?

The contest would award 40 vacation trips to Walt Disney World, 100 authentic Mickey Mouse watches, and 200 Fantasia soundtracks. All you had to do was state how many cookies you could see in the jar. Disney even made it easier by giving the possible answers in the form of multiple choice on the entry form.

         

Enlarge and read those rules!

Unfortunately we are all 39 years too late to enter. Just our luck, eh! But it is still fun to see these old promotions and product tie-ins.

So just how many cookies were in the jar? Was it 9, 14, 21, 35, or 49? Who cares, just give me one! Hey, stale or not, I love me some cookies!

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.

Top 5 Mistakes Walt Disney & Company have Made

Did Walt Disney ever make a mistake? The answer is a resounding ‘Yes’, but then, who wouldn’t have when taking so many risks to create great entertainment?

So what follows is a list of some of those mistakes, or lost opportunities:

Oopsy Number 1

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. The character was a hit. The deal was a dud. Walt failed to retain the rights to a character that his studio created from scratch and so had it taken away from him, along with most of his studio! But never one to stay down, Walt learned from his mistake, and vowed never to repeat it. And with the creation of Mickey Mouse, he built an empire all his own that no one ever took from him! So who had the last laugh, Mr. Mintz?

Of course, long after Walt’s passing, Oswald returned to the Disney family! Last laugh: Disney.

Oopsy Number 2

The Animator’s Strike. May 29, 1941. A day that will live in Disney infamy and that would forever change how Walt interacted with his staff. Said to be over wages and credit, there is obviously more to the story than we will ever know! Would things have turned out differently if Walt had stayed to negotiate instead of heading for South America to gather material for future features? We’ll never know. What we do know is during the strike, Walt called the strikers ‘Communists’ and they burned him in effigy. Yikes!

Following the strike, irreparable damage to the psychology and mood of the studio had been done. Before the strike, the number of employees had been about 1200, but after it ended, it was reduced to 694. One letter of the period quotes Walt as saying, about the strike, that “it cleaned house at our studio” and got rid of “the chip-on-the-shoulder boys and the world-owes-me-a-living lads”. Ouch.

It’s a shame this couldn’t have ended better.

Oopsy Number 3

Doreen as the Patchwork Girl and Bobby as the Scarecrow

Rainbow Road to OZ. Walt had always loved the stories of OZ and eventually bought the rights to the books. He planned to make an animated film but then later decided to do a live-action version using the talented kids from the Mouseketeers. You can see a short clip of what it may have looked like on the Walt Disney Treasures collection entitled Your Host, Walt Disney.

This would have been a great vehicle for the Mouseketeers and a way to thank them for all of their hard work. Also, it would have made a fine companion to movies like Babes in Toyland, also starring a (by then) former Mouseketeer: Annette Funicello.

It may have taken until 2013 to pull it off, but Disney did finally realize Walt’s dream and put Oz on the screen with the major motion picture Oz, the Great and Powerful.

Oopsy Number 4

Zorro/Mickey Mouse Club. Why? That’s all I can say about the cancellation of two of the best and most popular, not to mention watched, programs in Disney history. WHY? The short answer is that Walt got into a bitter series of legal challenges with ABC over the ownership of both series. Unable to come to terms, it was decided to pull both shows from the air. With high ratings and viewer loyalty at all time highs, I think there must have been some way to resolve the dispute. This lost opportunity cost us perhaps years of quality entertainment.

Oopsy Number 5

Not hiring Lee Beatens. OK, I was only about 1-year-old when Walt passed, but that’s no excuse for overlooking great talent!

Bonus Round

Disney’s California Adventure. Not Walt’s fault, but certainly a swing and a miss by the company that bears his name! The concept of a theme park dedicated to California arose from a meeting of Disney executives in 1995. Construction of the park began in 1998, and was completed by early 2001. But the crowds never really came. After all, who’d want to fly to California and pay to enter a Theme Park about… California? Why not just… oh, I don’t know, tour the real California? The other problem that I can see was that the Imagineers filled it with rides that were reminiscent of the rides that Walt rejected for Disneyland! Epic fail.

But now with the re-Imagineering of the Park and the addition of Carsland, it’s finally on the right track, and attendance figures show it.

Disney PhotoPass Stock Photo

So we’ve seen that not all of these mistakes, or lost opportunities, were fixable. But most of them were addressed in some way years later, with a nice resolution.