Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dont't Mess With Cinderella's Castle!

On Friday Jack and I took the Disney Keys to the Kingdom backstage tour of the Magic Kingdom Park. We had Mark as our tour guide. Mark started working for Disney in high school 17 years ago. He went to college and majored in theater and joined Disney full time 11 years ago after college. Mark gives an informative and interesting backstage tour of Disney. Here are some of the inside things we learned about Disney from Mark:

1, The mission is to have a place filled with magic for both parents and children to enjoy.

2. Disney has four guiding principals in this order: safety first, then courtesy, then show and lastly efficiency.

3, Walt Disney was born in Chicago but spent his formative childhood years growing up on a farm near Marceline, Missouri, which is just 25 miles from Jack's hometown of Hale, MO. Jack has been to Marceline, MO.

4. Walt Disney was born in 1901 and died in 1966. His older brother Roy Disney was the man behind Walt's success. Walt was the creative genius with plenty of pie in the sky ideas. Roy was the practical businessman who made sure the company stayed in the black and not the red.

5. For 50 years E. Card Walker was the justice of the peace when the two brothers were not seeing eye to eye. In fact, Walt and Roy would sometimes go for months without speaking to each other when they were having one of their brotherly "fights". Then it was E. Card Walker's job to mend the fences between the two brothers so the company could run properly. In a window on Main Street USA which is modeled after the town Walt remembered in MO there is the name E. Card Walker, Psychiatrist and Justice of the Peace. In the Magic Kingdom there are lots of little insider stories immortalized like this on the walls and windows.

6. Walt Disney created Disneyland in California as a place for his two daughters to play with him. Roy Disney Sr. had a son, Roy Disney Jr. It is Roy Disney Jr. who had his own fights with Michael Eisner the former CEO of Disney, in what direction the company should move.

7. How many people work for DisneyWorld? None. They are not employees. They are cast members and that's how they file their income taxes. They are all theater cast members, the cook, the baker, the cleaner, the animator, etc. And this magic theater has 60,000 cast members.

8. One of the highest paid cast members is the girl who plays Tinkerbelle. For each evening closing fireworks show she has to climb up a narrow 40 foot high ladder in Cinderella's castle and get strapped to a harness that will glide her along along a long, long line to fly over Fantasy Land and land in Frontier Land. Another cast member goes up with Tinkerbelle and gives her the big push that sends her flying thru the dark sky with the magic dust. One of the original Tinkerbelle's did this job until she turned 70 years old! Amazing!!

9. It may be Cinderella's Castle but Snow White is the most requested female Disney character. Mickey Mouse leads the boys in popularity, naturally. Mickey even has more rank than Walt Disney in billing of movies. Walt Disney learned that any movie made would sell better if the top billing went to Mickey Mouse.

10. The Disney TV Shows were started after Disneyland opened in 1955 to be an advertising program for the park and for the movies Walt was making. The shows were a great marketing tool because they were entertaining, educational and wholesome.

11. Each land in DisneyWorld must have a theme and theme music and each park must then transition to the next land in clever tricks to the five senses.

12. Everything in DisneyWorld is created to appeal to the park visitor's five senses from the rides that have smells, water squirts and 3D movie vision. On Main Street USA the smell of freshly baked rolls is pumped thru pipes from the bakery to the sidewalk and one in five park visitors will succumb to the smell and buy a roll after entering the park. So you are programmed thru your five senses to act the way you do in the park.

13. The water from Splash Mountain is filtered 6 times after falling in the water holding tanks before heading down the mountain a second time. Many hats are pulled from the holding tanks each day. No one wants them back because the filtration system changes the color of the hats. Several times a year scuba divers will fish out the heavy lost items like jewelry.

14. Here are the tall structures of DisneyWorld:
Tower of Terror 199 feet
Space Mountain 197 feet
Cinderella's Castle 188 feet

15. How many husbands does the bride Connie in the Haunted Mansion have? Five. Each subsequent groom is more well dressed and has more gifts for Connie. Husband one gives her one strand of pearls. Husband five gives her five strands of pearls.

16. There are creative Magic People who will walk the lands to make sure that every sign, trash can and show prop fits the image of that land. The Magic Man currently assigned to the Haunted Mansion is having a running battle with the cast members there over an unofficial hidden mickey on the table. Magic Man removes it. Cast members immediately try to replace the hidden mickey to the table. By the way there is an official hidden mickey in the dark hallway by the flickering candelabra!

17. DisneyWorld does a lot of wash each day. You would have to do one load of wash each day for over forty years to even begin to come close to what Disney washes up each day.

18. The Magic Kingdom does a lot of trash removal thru the pipes that move the trash from various locations in the park. The trash moves thru the pipes at 45 miles an hour. All paper and plastic moves nicely thru the pipes but cloth towels will gum up the works. So babies don't ditch your cloth diapers at Magic Kingdom. Better yet use pampers! You understand Baby Jack?

19. The monorail system has over 13 miles of track. It has been totally renovated since introduced.

20. Walt wanted real wild animals in Adventure Land when it opened at Disneyland in 1955.
Brother Roy nixed the idea as silly and unworkable. Walt's silly idea finally came to life when the Animal Kingdom opened at DisneyWorld in the late 90's.

22. DisneyWorld really didn't have a lot of visitors until the mid 80's. Now the most photographed object in the entire world is DisneyWorld's Cinderella's Castle! One in five photos taken in the world is of this castle. The next most photographed object is the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

23. Kodak loves Disney.

24. The whole world loves Disney.

25. The biggest moneymaker for Disney is not the park tickets or the resorts or the food. Disney's golden goose is the souvenirs. People buy them for those at the park and for those folks back home who couldn't make it to the park.

26. Jack and I fit this pattern. So we have packed in the car souvenirs for Jeanine, Jennifer, Terry and Baby Jack. Baby Jack has the most because he is THE BABY!

Mark told us that when DisneyWorld closed the parks on 9/11 that all Disney characters were sent to the resorts to console the people who were stuck inside the resorts since all park activities were canceled and all the airports were shutdown until further notice.

28. Disney has three different evacuation plans that every cast member is familiar with and can implement.

29. Mark's worst day at DisneyWorld was three years ago on Christmas Day when it poured buckets of rain and the park guests were angry and in a bad bad very bad mood. It was hard to spread the Disney magic let alone the Christmas cheer that day.

30. MGM Park is getting a new name: Hollywood. It has outgrown the old name since Disney has acquired Pixar .

31. The headquarters for Disney is in Burbank, California.

32. Roy Disney Jr. is now over 72 so he no longer has voting rights on the board of Disney.

33. Walt Disney and Roy Disney Sr. had wives that were a great influence on the men. In fact, Roy Disney Sr.'s wife was the one person who could really tell Walt that he had a pie in the sky idea and needed to get back down on the ground or that she had already listened to that story so don't tell it again.

34. Special tour guides like Mark are ambassadors for Disney and get to travel to many parks and to take Disney Cruise assignments or Disney's new world travel assignments. They are also assigned to accompany famous celebrities that come to the park. These guides make a list of what stars they would like to accompany. Mark has on his list Martha Stewart so that he can impress his mom who loves Martha!

35. Mark's funniest story is about the very famous teenage celebrity who Mark was assigned to when she came to visit the park and was asked to be the grand marshall of the parade for that day. This big star was so overwhelmed at being at Disney and meeting all the famous characters at Disney that she had a panic attack and refused to leave the bathroom The mom was sent to check on the daughter. Then the aunt was sent. Then the publicist was sent. Finally the girl emerged from the bathroom and led the parade. Mark had made up his mind that if the girl didn't come out, he was going in to find out what was going on in there. I'm not revealing the girl's name because I like her too much.

36. I want to be a Disney wig! Each wig gets washed and styled after each wearing and it takes 4 and a half hours to turn that rag mop into a glamorous head of hair for Cinderella or Snow White or Sleeping Beauty or Ariel.

37. If you see on any cast member's name tag a golden square they are one of the few cast members who have won the Disney coveted special achievement award for excellence.

38. Mark says he is the Susan Lucci of Disney: nominated 7 times but never has won the

39. Mark's boss strolled by while we were on the tour. Everyone on our tour started chanting give Mark a raise!

40. This is just some of what we learned by taking The Keys to the Kingdom Tour. I would recommend that you take the tour. You learn a lot, get lunch and two rides: The Haunted House and The Jungle Cruise.

41. Oh, and don't mess with Cinderella's Castle. In 2006 Disney decorated the castle as a giant birthday cake since Disney was celebrating a birthday. Nobody liked the cake on the castle. Especially the Disney brides. They wanted the traditional castle for a backdrop for their wedding photos. Jenn and Terry aren't you glad you got married here in 2005 instead of 2006?
42. The reason all objects are below 200 feet at DisneyWorld is because otherwise it would have to have a beacon to warn flying aircraft and that would spoil the evening fireworks shows.


June said...

Wow! I feel like I have been there already, or read a book! What a great post. JUne

Jack and Joann said...

Thanks June! Good to hear from you.