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.

Saving Mr. Banks at AMC Fork and Screen

The AMC Theater at Downtown Disney!

The AMC Theater at Downtown Disney!

I’ve always wanted to see a movie in the AMC Theater at Downtown Disney (also known as the Fork and Screen because you can eat while you watch the movie!), but there was never anything playing that I wanted to see when I was there. But Saving Mr. Banks is only playing in limited release in Canada right now, so when I learned that AMC was screening it during my current visit to Florida, attending was a no-brainer!

And what better movie to pair with a review of the Fork and Screen seating arrangement? So you get two reviews in one here, folks! First, I’ll discuss the dining experience (gluten-free options included) and then a brief look at the film itself.

First off, the theatre was excellent. Small enough to be intimate but with a screen big enough to do the movie justice. However, if you were watching a mega blockbuster action movie, one might wish for something bigger. But for a film like Saving Mr. Banks, it felt just right.

Saving Mr Banks

We went on Monday, December 30th, at 12:00 noon for the Fork and Screen presentation. You can see the little symbol just above the time I attended in the picture above. And here is a screen capture of the auditorium from the official AMC site, as taking pictures in the actual theatre is forbidden, and Disney even mentions that rule with the word ‘prosecution’ not-so subtly included:

Theatre Seating

The seating was very comfortable for the movie, but for eating, you had to sit on the edge of your seat so as not to spill on yourself. The picture above shows trays at each seat, but we had a counter at bar height. The trays would have been a bit better, but this is a minor point.

The food was fantastic! My in-laws had the Mushroom Swiss Burger ($10.49 – Sautéed mushrooms and Swiss cheese top an all-American beef burger with lettuce and tomato on a toasted brioche-style Kaiser roll served with fries). I had the Double-Decker Club ($10.99 – Shaved ham, turkey, and crisp Applewood-smoked bacon piled high on Texas toast with fresh lettuce, ripe tomatoes, and Parmesan peppercorn aioli with fries, instead of the chips). The portions were generous and well-priced for what you got. The full menu can be seen, with prices, on the DTD AMC website.

On the downside were the drinks: $4.50 for a diet coke! My complaint about this, beyond the obvious, is that the price was not marked on the menu. So it was quite a surprise when I got the cheque! I only had one glass with no refills so as to not need to make a pit stop during the movie. But if I had have known what I was paying, I would have drunk refills until I wet myself!

DD Club   Shrimp Tacos

Now on to the gluten-free options. My wife had about five things to choose from, which anyone with Celiac Disease will tell you, is copious for Disney at one location. She had the Thai Bang Shrimp Tacos ($10.99 – White corn tortillas layered together with southwest sauce and Cheddar Jack cheese, then topped with sweet and sour slaw and crunchy breaded shrimp drizzled with Thai bang sauce. Served with fresh tortilla chips and house-made salsa). For the gluten-free option, the shrimp were grilled instead of breaded. My wife said the helping of shrimp was very generous and the whole meal was tasty indeed. And she didn’t have any reaction afterwards, so a good job was done with the food preparation to avoid cross-contamination, which is always a concern. So kudos to the kitchen staff and also to our servers, who were all top-rate!

And now to conclude with a very brief review of the film. We all thought it was wonderful. Only die-hard Disney fans will worry about the inaccuracies of the events being depicted. Tom Hanks did a credible Walt, but yes, he didn’t look like him. But mere minutes into the film, you completely forget about that and buy into Tom’s interpretation. This I will attribute to the genius of Tom Hanks, one of my favorite actors! We laughed, we cried, and everyone agreed it was, again, a wonderful movie.

A tip to those who have been jaded by people claiming the film misrepresents ‘known’ facts about the events depicted: Give your amateur Disney Historian the night off and just enjoy the film for what it is. Seriously. Take this tip to heart!

I will give the dining experience and the theatre itself a combined score of 4.75 stars out of 5, simply because of the exorbitant price of the drinks! The movie gets a 5 out of 5 stars. But if I had to pick on something, I’d have to say I’d have liked it to be longer. Not bad if that’s all one can complain about!

Final say: Go see this movie wherever you can! And when you do, have your say in the comments below, please.

P. S. – Don’t forget to save your tickets and enter them into your Disney Movie Rewards account for points!

Preview of Saving Mr. Banks

Disney's Saving Mr. Banks...coming to theaters in December, 2013!

Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks…coming to theaters in December, 2013!

Saving Mr. Banks — the absolutely incredible Disney movie that is coming to theaters in December, is a movie that I absolutely can not wait to watch!  I know that hundreds, if not thousands, of previews have been written about this movie, but I just saw a linked post for it again, and I just had to write about it!  Saving Mr. Banks is the story of how Walt Disney (played by Tom Hanks in what may very well be an Oscar winning performance) and P.L. Travers (played by Emma Thompson in an equally well performed role) worked together to bring the story of Mary Poppins to life on the big screen.

From everything I’ve heard, the marriage between the two creative geniuses wasn’t perfect, and there were plenty of pitfalls along the way, but in my mind, the movie Mary Poppins is one of the top five Disney movies of all time…hmmm, that sounds like an idea for a great future blog post!

Anyway, back to this post!  As I was saying, Mary Poppins is in my top five Disney movies of all time, and it is because I’ve seen how the story played out that I’m able to imagine what the making of that classic movie would have been like.  I think that this movie will be one that I absolutely will be buying when it comes out on Blu-Ray, and that we’ll love seeing it in the theater.  The only question I’m left with is why it warranted a PG-13 rating?  That is the one facet of this production that causes me some concern.

What do you think Saving Mr. Banks will be like?  Please let me know in the comments below, and thanks for stopping by!  Before you go, though, check out the trailer for the movie, and enjoy!