Neuschwanstein Castle Influences Disney

Walt Disney brought the beauty he found in Europe back home with him when he created his films and amusement park. Having toured Europe myself, the inspirations Walt and Roy found for the Disney Company on their European tour in 1935 are easily visible to me as well.

Snow White, his first princess, isn’t the only Disney creation from German descent. Neuschwanstein castle, located in the Bavarian land of south Germany and constructed by Ludwig II, largely inspired Sleeping Beauty’s castle inside Disneyland Park. Many people believe Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Disneyland was originally built for Snow White. However, Disney decided to change the castle’s ownership to Aurora, due to the upcoming movie release of Sleeping Beauty.

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 8.46.42 PM
Neuschwanstein Castle in Munich next to Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Disneyland

Neuschwanstein Castle extraordinarily resembles a plethora of fantasies found in Disney parks and animations. As I personally walked through Neuschwanstein, I felt the way I do when I’m at Disneyland or watching a Disney classic, as if I fell into a fairytale. The castle rests atop a mountain in the German Alps, overlooking a lake and small town surrounded by mountains that go on as far as the human eye takes you. The lake is similar to the one portrayed in the establishing shot in Sleeping Beauty.

Collage 2016-08-18 21_03_45
Servants’ quarters and dwarfs’ beds

The servants’ sleeping quarters within Neuschwanstein hold small, wooden beds with simple carvings in each bed frame. These beds compare with the dwarfs’ beds found in the 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs animation. A grove painted on a large wall of the castle’s Singers’ Banquet Hall looks as if Snow White may dance out of it at any moment.

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 8.52.39 PM
Painting in Singers’ Hall

Though some people claim Ludwig II an insane man, I think he was a genius. His castle is colorful, with a cheerful spirit. Unlike most wealthy and royal men in Europe, Ludwig II never wanted others to see his castle. He had no desire to boast of his expensive artwork, or bejeweled cupboards. Instead, he created the castle for himself, the way he wanted it, without the judgments of others. Perhaps that is why Ludwig II’s Neuschwanstein Castle stands out to so many of us, including Walt Disney himself. It is a peculiar, unique and magical kingdom.


The Tale as Old as Time Becomes New Again

The journey of a beautiful maiden falling for a hideous beast unraveled for over two centuries and continues to enchant the world with upcoming performances. The original French folk tale, La Belle et la Bete, written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in 1740, was quickly abridged and rewritten into the classic, yet simpler, version of Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont in 1756. Like every ancient tale Disney gets its hands on, Beauty and the Beast transformed into a movie with a bubbling personality that the world fell in love with in 1991.

It’s almost impossible to imagine Beauty and the Beast without the personality that resides in the Beast’s enchanted castle, such as Lumiere, the talking candlestick and Cogsworth, the talking clock. However, the furniture didn’t begin speaking, singing or dancing until Howard Ashman proposed the creative concept. Alan Menken and Howard Ashman were the musical geniuses behind Beauty and the Beast, and many other Disney productions.

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 9.24.20 PM
Jerry Orbach as Lumiere and David Ogden Stiers as Cogsworth (Picture credit here)

Menken continues his success in the Disney music industry by composing the music in the upcoming Beauty and the Beast live-action retelling. He assures the movie’s tunes will stay true to the 1991 classic, but he will treat us with the production of two original songs: Forever More and Days in the Sun. Along with new music, the tale as old as time shakes it up by introducing a new character, Cadenza, a grand piano played by Stanley Tucci. Emma Watson stars as Belle alongside Dan Stevens as Beast and Luke Evans as Gaston.

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 9.33.29 PM
Alan Menken and Howard Ashman

Since 1991, the mystical story developed numerous times through sequels in 1997-1999, remakes and even a hit musical that ran on Broadway from 1994 to 2007. On March 17, 2017, Disney invites us all to once again “be their guest” and relive the tale as old as time.

A cool collage made by a fan of the new movie trailer next to the 1991 movie trailer:

From Flop to Fortune – DCA

The Beach Boys are the ultimate band to represent California, so naturally you would hear the Beach Boys’ California Girls as background music as you and perhaps 400 others entered Disney’s California Adventure Park through Sunshine Pier in 2001. Yes, you and only 400 other people were entering the park on February 8, 2001. The opening of California Adventure was a complete flop. In 2001 the park hosted about 5 million people, while just around the riverbend, Disneyland held 12.3 million visitors.

The lack of success in Disneyland’s sister park was due to its low-budget build at only $650 million. Guests said the California theme was redundant, there were no rides for the children, there were no real “E” attractions and the park overall did not feel the spirited way a Disney park should.

With so many complaints, and so little visitors, Disney had to change something about this new park. In 2005, the Company removed Michael Eisner as CEO of Disneyland and replaced him with Robert Iger. Iger dreamt up grand things for the California-themed park. In 2007 he announced a major $1.1 billion reconstruction and expansion of the entire park. It took five years to do it, but in the end, Iger transformed Disney’s California Adventure into Disney California Adventure, the new and improved sister park to Disneyland, hosting around 8.7 million people in 2012. On June 15, 2012 (two days before the anniversary of Disneyland’s opening day) Iger rededicated Disney California Adventure, with its new, non-possessive name.

dca transformation
Paradise Pier in 2001 versus Paradise Pier in 2015

The extreme change in Disney California Adventure resulted in a complete conversion of the entrance as well. Before 2012, huge letters spelling out “CALIFORNIA” in front of the park’s entrance greeted incoming guests. These letters now live at Cal Expo in Sacramento. A miniature version of the Golden Gate Bridge built in Sunshine Plaza could be seen behind the entrance gates. This all changed during construction. Sunshine Plaza became Buena Vista Street and leads into Carthay Circle.

Disney’s California Adventure entrance before reconstruction

Disney California Adventure became a new park within a decade, but not everything changed. You can still hear the Beach Boys singing California Girls as you stroll into the revamped California Adventure Park.

Walt’s love for the Mark Twain Riverboat

Both Mark Twain and Walt Disney  were fascinated by childhood fantasies. Mark Twain’s boyhood interests in adventure and exploration developed into his well-known (often required reading in high school) book, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”

Disney gained a love for the writings of Mark Twain. He aspired to build a riverboat and an island within Disneyland to express his appreciation for Mark Twain’s work. He created Tom Sawyer’s Island and the Mark Twain Riverboat, originally known as the Mark Twain Steamboat. His desire to sail the Mark Twain Riverboat was so strong that when the corporate completion money ran out he paid the difference himself. Workers completed the boat just four days before the grand opening of the Disneyland Park on July 17, 1955.

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 3.54.21 PM
Mark Twain Riverboat 1967

July 13, 1955 was Walt and Lillian Disney’s 30th wedding anniversary and the riverboat’s maiden voyage was during the couple’s huge anniversary celebration at Disneyland. Three hundred guests received an invite to the party. They boarded the Mark Twain Riverboat and sailed down the Rivers of America while sipping on Mint Juleps. After their boat ride, the guest herded into the Golden Horseshoe Saloon for the very first performance of the Golden Horseshoe Revue.

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 3.55.34 PM
Walt and Lillian celebrating at the Golden Horsehoe

Walt Disney’s dream of sailing the Mark Twain Riverboat through Disneyland continues to live on. With a little imagination, you can relive July 13, 1955 today by jumping aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat, sipping a Mint Julep, walking off and heading a few steps over into the Golden Horseshoe for a fine performance.

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 3.54.35 PM
The Mark Twain Riverboat sailing the Rivers of America today

All About Alice

Alice fell down the rabbit hole on at least seventeen different occasions, and yet Disney wants to venture down the rabbit hole once again to debut their newest Alice movie: Alice Through the Looking Glass. Producers all over the world took Lewis Carroll’s 1865 story, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and put their own spin on the tale, but no producers capture Wonderland as precisely and magically as Disney does.

In 1951, Disney released the well-known animation, Alice in Wonderland. The movie goes through the dream of an imaginative girl named Alice. Alice falls asleep and dreams up Wonderland. She meets the most peculiar characters – animals that speak and dance and are completely mad – as she searches for her way back home. Alice encounters the Red Queen who threatens to cut her head off. Luckily, Alice wakes herself up out of Wonderland just in time and comes to understand the purpose of logic and reason in the world.

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 4.25.57 PM.png

Alice is just a young girl when her dreams first venture into Wonderland, but at the age of nineteen, Alice finds herself back in her magical world in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2010). The plot changes in Tim Burton’s version of the movie because it is a continuation of the first Disney-produced Alice in Wonderland. Rather than searching for a way to travel home, Alice is faced with the task to save Wonderland from the Red Queen’s reign of terror by slaying the Jabberwocky. Once she does, she is able to go back home.

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 4.26.45 PM.png

Released by Walt Disney Pictures, Alice in Wonderland is the nineteenth-highest grossing film of all time.  With a movie so popular, Disney couldn’t end it there. In the summer of 2016, Walt Disney Pictures will release Alice Through the Looking Glass, also directed by Tim Burton, as a sequel to the previous Alice in Wonderland film. The cast from 2010 returns to star in this new movie. The white rabbit made a strong impact in the past Alice movies with his few, but memorable lines: “I’m late, I’m late for a very important date!” Time is a reoccurring component in the Alice movies, but this upcoming movie will be all about time. It involves Alice traveling back in time to save the Mad Hatter. Disney released the trailer just a few weeks ago to give you something to pass the time as you wait in anticipation for Alice Through the Looking Glass to come to a theater near you.

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 4.26.11 PM.png -link to Alice Through the Looking Glass trailer

‘Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular’ Struck By Ice

Elsa’s snowstorm continues to spread throughout Disney’s California Adventure. It started by freezing over the Animation Academy with an Anna and Elsa Meet-and-Greet and it’s now sending a blizzard to the Hyperion Theater. Frozen will become the new musical spectacular at the Hyperion Theater in the summer of 2016.

Screen Shot 2015-11-27 at 5.37.57 PM
Photo Credit

The Hyperion Theater, modeled after the Los Angeles Theatre off Broadway in Los Angeles, sits between the Tower of Terror and the Mad-T-Party in California Adventure’s Hollywood Land. The theater originally opened on February 8, 2001. It hosted a variety of musicals throughout the first two years, but, on January 16, 2003, Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular debuted on the stage and never left. It became a fan favorite and won this year’s Theme Park Insider Award for the world’s best theme park live show. Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular is a classic, humorous and timeless show, bringing a crowd to the Hyperion Theater’s doors for the past 12 years. However, On January 10, 2016, Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular will pack its bags and bid farewell with its last performance.

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 2.17.12 PM
LA Theatre on left. Hyperion Theater on right.

Though Frozen is already shown at the Fantasy Faire Royal Theater in Disneyland and at the “First Time in Forever” Sing Along just a few steps away from the Hyperion Theater, it will build its ice castle over Agrabah’s sand dunes and replace Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular. According to Shawn Slater, Walt Disney’s Parks and Resorts’ Communications Manager, “This new show will immerse you in the world of “Frozen” as never before, with elaborate costumes and sets, stunning special effects and surprising scenic transformations.”

Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular showed approximately 14,000 times at the Hyperion Theater. Perhaps it really is time to let it go.

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 2.27.00 PM

From the Main Street Electrical Parade to the Paint the Night Parade

After enduring through five years, 260 weeks, 1,820 days, and 43,680 hours of anticipation in pure agony, Disneyland attendees were lifted from their misery when Disneyland revealed the opening date for the Paint the Night Parade as part of the 60th anniversary celebration. On May 22, 2015, Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration began their celebrating by dazzling the castle with diamonds and adding special shows to the night, such as the Paint the Night Parade. To honor the birth of Disneyland in a year-long celebration, all the festivities dedicated to their 60th anniversary are still available to the public visiting the park today.

The popular parade that debuted its last run on April 18, 2010 in Disney’s California Adventure Park was known as the Main Street Electrical Parade. Disneyland did not bring back that same parade, but instead introduced a new twist to the original light spectacular and called it the Paint the Night Parade.

The Main Street Electrical Parade was always in high demand at all Disney parks. The parks’ managers attempted to put the parade to an end multiple times due to the finances through the roof needed to support it, but the parade always seemed to somehow get drawn back to one of the Disney parks not long after it’s closing date due to the many complaints filed. The Electrical Parade rotated through Disneyland Tokyo, Hong Kong, Paris, Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World, allowing all the parks to get a taste of the light-filled spectacular.

The Main Street Electrical Parade stepped into the light on June 17, 1972, displaying over half a million lights and more than 500 miles of wiring. Anyone who witnessed this work of magic would recognize the unique sound in which the parade lit up to: Baroque Hoedown. Electronic pioneers, Jean-Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley, originally invented the song by toying with the Moog Synthesizer. Walt Disney liked the uncommon tune of Baroque Hoedown so much that he dedicated it as the background music for his parade.

The Main Street Electric Parade in 1972

The Paint the Night Parade is inspired by the Electrical Parade. Disney modernized its sound by using Owl City’s “When Will I see You Again.” Paint the Night is brighter and more vibrant than any parade ever performed in Disneyland. Over 1.5 million colorful LED lights brighten up Main Street when this parade rolls through. Disneyland dreamt up a dazzling parade that shines brighter than diamonds to end every night’s celebration for their 60th anniversary.

Paint the Night Parade

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

For an average Disney-goer, spotting children dressed in costume year-round is no surprise. Chances are slim you could go through the day without seeing at least four “Elsas” at Disneyland. But when we start noticing 45-year-old adults dressed up as their favorite Disney animations, we know it is Halloween time at the parks. On select nights starting September 25th and running through October 31st, fans ranging from newborns to 92-year-olds are found jumping into the Halloween spirit by transforming into their favorite characters. When the clock strikes 6 p.m. on weekdays and 7 p.m. on weekends, the day-time guests are asked to leave the park as new props are brought out from hiding and those with a ticket to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party are invited in.

Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at 10.14.55 AM

Villains and special guest characters are scattered abundantly throughout the Disneyland Park near giant pumpkins and floating ghosts. Imagineers add a haunted twist to some of the popular rides, giving them a Halloween thrill. For example, Space Mountain turns into Ghost Galaxy. Preserving the life of the most popular tradition of Halloween, Disneyland provides guests with a souvenir bag the moment they enter the front gates, to load with goodies while traveling throughout the park. This spook-tacular special map highlights Halloween hotspots and candy-loaded locations.

Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at 10.22.07 AM

Eating can be an entirely new experience during the holidays at Disneyland. Try an Autumn exclusive pumpkin beignet, or a Ghoulish “poison” caramel apple. Discover more delicacies dreamt up specifically for the spooky season here. Reserve a seat at the Blue Bayou for a premium Halloween dining experience with mouth-watering meals and choice viewing seats for Halloween Screams Firework Spectacular to conclude your night.

Specially carved pumpkin of Maleficent for Halloween
Specially carved pumpkin of Maleficent for Halloween

Differences in Disneyland Tickets Since 1955

In 1955 a one-day ticket providing access into Disneyland cost $1.00. Each ride cost an additional price after admission. After three months of the park’s opening, Disney changed their ticket-selling tactics. Attractions ranked either “A”, “B”, or “C”. “A” attractions were smaller, less popular; “C” attractions were more popular. Disneyland started offering “Value Books,” coupon booklets containing 3 “A” tickets, 2 “B” tickets, and 3 “C” tickets. Guests could buy a value book with eight different tickets for $2.50 and buy additional tickets ranging in price from 10 cents to 30 cents.

According to the calculations of Mouse Monthly author, Alex Blasingame, an all-day, all-attraction Disneyland vacation would cost $7.50. If prices from 1955 rose with inflation only, the cost for that same vacation in 2015 would be $65.40. However, admission to Disneyland costs $99 today.

The world population in 1955 was 2.7 billion people. According to the World Population Clock recording in July 1, 2015, 7.3 billion humans populate the Earth. The size of Disneyland grows, but the human population grows faster. More people on Earth cause a higher demand for Disneyland vacations, allowing Disneyland to raise their prices more than $33 above the appropriate inflation price.

Meanwhile, as popularity grows, Disneyland is running out of property to expand their park. Overpopulation leaves the “Happiest Place on Earth” stuffy with smelly, cranky and tired travelers. That is the last reputation Disneyland wishes to uphold.

To avoid the consequences of risking their instinctive correlation with all things magical, Disneyland works on figuring out how to keep the population under control. According to the Wall Street Journal’s interview with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek, “Raising prices well above inflation worked in the past, but Disneyland now seeks to bring up their attendance during “slow-times” of the year as well as keep prices affordable for middle-class families.” Employees work with new technology and price alterations to fix the upcoming challenge of Disneyland’s fast-pace growth.

Value booklet from 1955
Value booklet from 1955

Bye Bye Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree

Located directly behind “The Wildest Ride in the Wilderness” in Frontierland, the soon-to-be demolished Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree is home to year round festivities, a family style restaurant, and a petting zoo. Though often closed, Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree opens for special Disney events and holidays. When Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree is open, games, exclusive character meet-and-greets, and performances entertain the crowd around. You are sure to run into more of Disney’s Sensational Six characters, such as Mickey and Minnie, dressed in outfits appropriate for the celebration, at the Jamboree than any other place in the park. It’s not usually crowded, so the Jamboree creates the perfect picture opportunities with your favorite Disney classics.

No longer will tourists and locals join together there during the holidays for picnics and crafts, because on January 10, 2016 Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree permanently closes, and construction for the Star Wars-themed land begins. The horses stabled behind Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree will be relocated to a nearby off-property location, according to Disney Officials, but nothing was said about the other animals inhabiting the petting zoo.

The closing date for Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree marks the temporary closing date for many other attractions as well: the Mark Twain Riverboat, the Sailing Ship Columbia, the Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes and the Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer Island. Fantasmic, a thirty-minute water-work, and firework spectacular featuring heroes, villains, and princesses, will also not show due to the partial draining of the Rivers of America. These popular attractions will be closed for more than a year, and Disney Officials have not set a date on when they plan to finish the new land, or re-open the closed attractions.

Parade hosted during Halloween time at Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree
Parade hosted during Halloween time at Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree